Sunday, April 26, 2015

What is the Allegorical Imperative?

Humans generate and commit to emotionally compelling ideas. Sometimes these ideas produce enjoyable and preferable results. Other times, these ideas can justify killing millions of people.

How can we prevent this terrifying potential for error?

I propose the application of what I have been calling The Allegorical Imperative (AI), which is the application of emotionally compelling concepts to the biological systems within an individual human. This is to be done through metaphorical interpretation.

Rather than explain the AI further, I will demonstrate it using the classic political struggle: workers vs. owners.

Why were the works of Marx and Engels so compelling? How did they spur revolutions around the world which ended with disastrous results and millions dead? Why would people be willing to die and kill for this idea?

To discover the source of communism's conceptual power, we could apply the AI, looking for parallels between the arguments of communism and the systems within the body of the individual human.

Who are the owners within the community of the individual human? The foot? No. The pancreas? Probably not. The brain seems to be the obvious candidate, for many reasons which I will go into in another post. For now, I'll just point out the command center nature of the brain, telling the body what to do, while claiming ownership of all of it and taking credit for its accomplishments via the ego.

What then are the workers? This should be obvious as well. Your heart beats while your conscious mind sleeps. You take no conscious effort to facilitate mitosis, breathing, balance, immune defense, healing wounds, digestion, blinking, etc. Your body is the working class, your mind is the owners.

How about the means of production? That seems like a parallel of the various organs within our body.

Workers taking control of the means of production? This seems to be a metaphor for illness. Various diseases. Prolonged stress has deleterious effects on health and well-being. Often people will neglect their bodies for the sake of their minds. Workaholism, stressful commutes, emotional eating, coping behaviors, self-harm, drinking, drug use, dangerous sports, promiscuous sex, plastic surgery, insomnia - all of these behaviors are exploitation of the body by the mind. Eventually, these behaviors are met with resistance from the body in the form of illness, disease, pain, infection, organ failure, etc.

Do you see the parallels? Here's a summary of the insights gained from applying the AI to the emotionally compelling idea of workers vs, owners.

The brain exploits the body to acquire resources and manage emotions. This produces stress which exhausts the body. The body responds to this exploitation by taking control of the various bodily systems. This manifests as pain, fatigue, illness, occasionally debilitating and fatal illness, such as organ failure. Often this leads to reforms on the part of the mind. Early retirement, disability claims, dietary changes, meditation,seeing the world in a different way, reevaluation of priorities, and so on.

Do you see it? It's there. Even in this rather light treatment, it's there. See for yourself. Apply the AI to all the principles in Marx's writings. Suddenly, Das Kapital becomes a self-help book. A very useful one at that. It is ahead of its time as far as health and well being go.

This is the purpose of the blog. I want to demonstrate the power of the AI to extract wisdom in unlikely places. I want this blog to be the compost pile of human error. I want to show that bullshit is amazing fertilizer. I am on to something here and I am excited to show you how widely the Allegorical Imperative can be applied. The structure of pop songs, theoretical physics, dystopian teen action films, pet peeves, DMT trip reports, sexual fetishes, Adventure Time episodes, the Superbowl, fad diets, dreams, internet memes - all of these can become sources of wisdom when viewed through the AI lens. I even hope to tackle some of the more troubling aspects of the human condition with this tool. Obviously,

(Disclaimer: I have no credentials. I have, however, spent roughly 14000 hours (45hrs/wk, 52wks/yr, 6yrs) listening to lectures, discussions, debates, audiobooks, and podcasts while working a warehouse job. The spoken word was my constant companion. I let my curiosity guide me, leading me to learn broadly and deeply. I noticed similarities in disparate fields of study. This began happening at such a constant and consistent rate that it became undeniable. The Allegorical Imperative emerged slowly from those years of pondering. Perhaps I am walking well-trodden territory. Putting this out publicly will make that clear very quickly if it is so.)

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