Thursday, March 29, 2018

Propaganda of Interest (Episode I)

While I was roaming through the evil foliage of this place, I happened upon a particularly beautiful plant.  It was lush with leaves and shoots, which formed and grew at a rate more akin to the articulation of an animal's limbs in real time as it went about its vacuum behaviors.  Clearly alive and perhaps even intelligent, I was struck with awe at its superficially attractive features.  It's almost as if it was intentionally derived from some well-attested heritage of plant life, so as to derive the maximum amount of meretricious beauty from all of them, whilst maintaining the fullest array of predatory features more appropriate to some sort of stalking reptile than to a plant.  I feared to observe it for too long, just on the suspicion that it might be a ruse to allow some fifth cannibal to sneak up on my position, but then I realized that they were circling at a distance sufficient to allow them observe my responses to this entity which is clearly as special for them as it is unusual for me. So I felt it would be a mistake to give it only a superficial examination, though from such I could gather enough to determine that it was the most perfect specimen of its kind that I had ever seen.  I decided I knew enough to classify it as a member of the order of falsity. It had a beautiful appearance, and seemed to be fragrant and alluring as if it were essential to its essential mode of survival.  fallax pulchritudo meretricius.  Also known as the sleek and attractive "grey propaganda"I like that name because it reflects how there is an entity of deceptive beauty, operating with a sort of shameless opulence wherever conveniently possible.  But it is this subspecies which is here of interest.  It has the name qui de reus.  That means, basically, the culprit, the accused, the answerable.  qui de re  would be the more "sanitized" description, the euphemism used by those who are involved in such surveillance state activities.  It is a good translation of "Person of Interest", the once-popular TV series that raged on for five full seasons, glorifying the vicissitudes of the surveillance state panopticon gulag in which people are currently culpable residents of different sorts.

I had already become quite adept at hunting such entities in the wild for a while now, looking more for a now increasingly rare type of strain which was more of a hybrid of this general type and that form of art of substance which seeks to portray truth in its purer form. But these days I've had to focus on the more virulent strains that are multiplying with alarming zest, and evolving at a robust rate. This is a partial result of being no longer able to conduct philosophy in the conventional sense of the term. I had to become an ad hoc cultural anthropologist, on the run from the cannibals I'm studying. It's hard to take notes or preserve them whilst running through the jungle being harassed by fifth forces.  It can be quite hard to even concentrate until one realizes that there is really nothing else to do.  One now lives on an alien world, where the meaning of conducting such studies is a matter of survival and preference in facing the inevitable.  As an artist of my craft, I certainly would have preferred better circumstances in which to operate, as it would have enabled me to not only produce a greater work in form, but perhaps even in content and application, for my own lights whether or not those of others.  But this world is not that one.  In this world, culture is really just a drapery covering over an extensive network of oppressive, evil people, who hold positions of power within a hegemony which is pretended to operate in the "best interests" of the people, who are supposedly considered as interchangeably meritorious citizens who, at some basic minimum, deserve equal protection from such perfidy.  How convenient for those who conduct such perfidy under the guise of protecting people from it.  It doesn't take a Jonathan Nolan to conceive such an idea, attention to well-attested facts would write the story through someone or other eventually, but it certainly is his speciality in treating it so that it becomes the plot of a series of excellently crafted propaganda pieces for the fifth column hegemons!

Looking at the specimen with a focus on its phylogentic attributes, it possesses a remarkably sleek yet also functionally elaborate array of capabilities.  Clearly a more advanced predator than its less subtle close cousin, "24", it seems to have moved on to the more complicated and dangerous environment of the surveillance state as its primary territory.  In this environment, deception is not as simple as being politically correct, using classical props and character arrangements more at home in the last three decades before the Snowden era commenced.  This Brave New World in which these sorts of entities must compete requires more finely attuned adaptations than are possible from the likes "X-Files" FBI agents tracking down ghost stories, or of "Jack" running errands for El Presidenta.  This newly discovered subspecies of greyprop has been able to survive in conditions far too subtle for lesser breeds to survive.  Having the capability of presenting reality in a directly analogous way with how it actually is, yet craftily modeling it within the frame of its own survival mechanism, it is able to access more scrupulous and wary prey than the low grade sort that go in for its more brutish and torture-willing and "shoot to kill" cousins, or those that pretend to investigate the further reaches of the barely believable but possibly true.  This new form of life seems to come across with all the powerful charm of a noir-chic clad honeypot femme-fatale/raven superspy .  It loses non of its fatal venom, but has a less blatant delivery mechanism.

How it seems to work is that it uses a very polished action-cinema delivery system, with well-portrayed special effects that are up with the times, technologically.  This helps capture and maintain the attention of the gadget-oriented life forms who are likely to come across it in its natural, modern cell-phone/computer/internet/surveillance app/fifth column cultural ecosystem.  It ensures that the snazzier and snarkier generation won't be bored, because it has all the necessary witty dialogue and back-and-forth sound-byte-sized humor and exposition that one could want to fill in the blanks between rather graphic action scenes edging toward the more realistic and less flashy.  There is a sort of sensibility about using "ex machina" techniques to move the plot along, sometimes using blatantly "Mission Impossible" levels of charlatanry, but mostly keeping it in the background as to specifics, loosely referring to actually existing technologies in their "black operations" aspects.  While this seems to hinge upon a tacit assumption, that the infrastructure of technology which permeates society is rife with back doors, dual-use capabilities, unconventional utilities, and other hackable exploits, it also cools this interest with a clever salve of reference to the modern "life hack" culture, replete with all the same nuances of how each little thing is more than it seems in the right hands, or how just the right amount of information in just the right place will lead to astounding results compared to the lack of such.

But what is the survival value of appearances which deceive in the form of artistic renditions if there isn't a strong core of real-world relevance?  It isn't just the well-done camera angle cuts, the well-chosen actor talent, the realistic grudges and double-crossing, or even the use of sometimes clever twists in the plot that made this entity thrive for five full seasons in today's information-saturated and subterfuge-savvy propaganda consumer ecology.  That's just the sort of surface development that would accrue to an apex predator like qui de reus, a true force with which to be reckoned.  Rather that just shows that the selection pressures which long preceded this form of prop-life are still strong, and very adaptive to the possibly very unstable conditions of information flowing through the environment with possibly very apocalyptic results.  Of course I mean "apocalyptic" in both the broad and esoteric sense, as well as in the narrow and colloquial sense.  Just look at the subject matter of its exposition:  information, its use and misuse, by both private and public entities.

Emphasizing the "Spy vs. Spy" motif, there is a sense that information permeates the world as the ultimate resource, and the only way to truly get ahead is to have control over, or at least access to information that is critical to events in which one is invested.  But not just any sort of information.  Rather, information that is gathered through the modern corporate/shadow government/oligarchic social ecosystem in which this apex predator of propaganda packaging and dissemination doth thrive. Referencing as its primary ex machina which is probably as powerful or more so in real life, known as "the machine" (pun intended?), information is gathered through the usual suspects, just like in real life.  But the centerpiece of all the listening stations, fusion centers, and of the security of the nation itself is this "black box" device which, through a special program created by one of the central characters, is able to ascertain the probabilities of events having anything to do with anything, but focusing primarily on events which are likely to involve violence.  This can be what the programmer slated into two primary categories:  violence directly relevant to national security, and the other category, the so-called "non-relevant" list, which determines the probabilities of violence which are not directly relevant to national security.   Apparently this covers the whole spectrum, starting with evidence of intent, availability of method, and access to opportunities.  

The algorithms which feed this machine's capabilities of analysis and  evaluation are, in essence, the anatomy of an artificial intelligence of a very advanced nature.  The components aren't directly discussed, nor much of anything directly indicated about "how" the entity operates, except for some sexy transition screens showing fancy reticles tracking real world entities, creating information assessment summaries along with, and sometimes showing variously fancy connections between information in a sort of abstract collage of what it must be like to exist as a neural network trying to draw connections between complex pieces of information, or create complex connections between simple pieces of information.  Crazy neat branching factors, fancier versions of the classical networking diagrams used by old school investigators of organized crime or serial killers (the ones with the pictures, labels, all thumb-tacked or taped up, with different-colored strings of yarn connecting them, that sort of thing). It's the oracle of real-world, real-time information access and analysis, and it is capable of reaching into any system capable of sustaining a connection through some sort of digital interface, wireless or otherwise.  This is the beating heart of this organism, and it is also the real-world entity that it seeks to emulate in order to draw in its prey, hypnotizing them with its powerful computing capabilities combined with its panopticonic access to everyone's and everything's information.

Uh-oh, I think the locals are approaching more closely for some reason.  They seem to have strange objects in their possession, which perhaps... wait yes, they are part of the fruit of this class of life form.  They seem to enable a sort of steady state of communication back and forth with it... perhaps these cannibals have been parasitically infected with some of its venomous concoctions of grey-prop influence, creating a synergistic confluence between them and the real world entity... critical to their mutual survival...  I have to go.  They're starting to look at their devices, portray personifications of being some sort of intelligence asset or concerned citizen archetype...  perhaps a sort of critical factor is being calculated by the real-world entity that works in a special, symbolic relationship with this grey-prop version, so as to extend its influence into the semiosphere of human social dynamics...

No more time, got to go. Must preserve contempt for meretricious propaganda masking as organic extensions. Until next time, mates, when I find another specimen under perhaps less stereotyped clandestine-op type circumstances. 

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