Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Propaganda of Interest (Episode V)

Conditions of Culture and Truth in The World

The world has long been posited by various of its accusers and its apologists as having a character which is that of an opposition between factions who wish to influence the ongoing events within it, each to their own advantage.  In all branches of discourse there is no contradiction to this, because every area of discussion which touches upon this matter admits that it has competing and contrary alternatives with which it disagrees.  The matter of differences which divide these competing alternative worldviews is a matter of allegiance to different ways of interpreting phenomena as to meaning and impetus.  People involved in all spheres of human action must be ready and willing to take certain actions (or inactions) with respect to both their immediate circumstances and also in the context of how those circumstances fit in with larger contexts which eventually either just spiral out into open-ended chaos or begin to demonstrate signs of constraints which indicate some form of order.

Whatever the determination of that order is "in and of itself", to include whatever lacunae within it may exist relative to anyone's inspection of same (to include incapacities to inspect), must be decided at some point so that matters more directly relevant to immediate action are not obstructed by reflective thought.  This is a matter of the heuristics of thought and action described by philosophers as far apart in space and time as Aristotle and Bruce Lee.  Some people don't even know that Bruce Lee was a philosopher, though not a fully fledged academic one due to his untimely interruption of life and career by an early death.  Aristotle himself barely escaped the fate of Socrates, and complained of this problem with the world:  It is unfriendly to the Truth, for at the very least it is inimical to those who are most interested in receiving its disclosures.

But no one among all these varied lights of the world can escape the facts upon which all their disagreements (or agreements) must hinge, and even if they would interpret them in radically different ways, all the more is a coherent reference to the facts upon which they may disagree a paramount consideration to all consequential discourses.  The existence of any phenomena of the world bears a similar relation to any theories about their explanation.  So both the investigation and analysis of facts about the world are issues at the core of any discourse concerning those facts.  Brute facts are those which comprise more complex facts, and the principles which found an analysis are the functional premises which undergird any of its argumentation. 

Art has always held a peculiar relation to the culture which either spurred it or spurned it.  The preferences of the cultural hegemony in which art is produced cannot be ignored as a factor in whether and how it is produced, by whom, for what purposes, and with what consequences.  It is at least one part of the "why" which must be leveled at anything as sophisticated as art's discourse on the reality of the world and those who must act within it.  Just the time taken away from such action in order to examine the presentation of art cannot escape the grounds of justification which are the world and its facts, and their immediate bearing upon any potential participant in an artistic (or any other) experience.

Conditions of Intelligence as such in The World

Intelligence may be defined most broadly as a process of gaining and sorting information about something that is connected to the system which processes that information.  It's function is inherently goal-directed, and when found in nature it expresses as behaviors which enable the gaining and sorting of that information, and also which adapt to that intelligence gain so as to further other objectives.  Information processing of this form is intelligence.  It posits an entity or collection of entities which are engaged in this process. Their faculties which are involved in this process, to the extent of their facility at doing so, mark them as being intelligent.  So intelligence is the orderly processing of information by an entity, is inherently goal directed and for the sake of adaptations, and also is a term which refers to the entity's capacity to efficiently gain intelligence.  It is a noun representing a process, representing a faculty for engaging in that process, and the product of that process.  Really, if the process is always in some embodied form, it is always a faculty of some entity, and never a process per se except as an abstraction which exists in the intelligence gathering entity which is intelligent enough to realize such abstractions (or evolve faculties which generate and modulate them).

That makes intelligence an amazingly novel feature of the world.  In order for intelligence to manifest as objective operations in an entity, perhaps a plant, or a nervous system, there must be an order of operations in the entity which, before, was not "intelligent" per se.  It had to be a pre-intelligence.  But what order is it that exists prior to intelligence which is necessary for it but not necessarily sufficient for it to manifest?  If one looks to the processes of homeostasis that are inherent to bodily life, we see that there is an intelligence there, even if there were no nervous system to process it in the way we typically understand the idea.  The genetic code is intelligent, indeed.  So in fact any life form with a nervous system exhibits a latter development of a more primary and even primordial intelligence which is endemic to life as such, and one of its essential qualities.  And once it develops into a form that can abstract information from its own processes (as bodily living intelligence), such as when life develops a brain or brain-like system, then it has leapt to a level of intelligence which is orders of magnitude beyond the scope of its prior forms.  It can begin to anticipate the future of conditions relevant to it, and it begins to be capable of modeling what is the case, or might be or might have been the case, with greater and greater remove from any prior dependence upon direct input from its sources of information.  Its ability to operate upon information as such is a critical feature of this development.

This relative independence from information sources enables intelligent operations upon the information gathered which can be conducted independently, and which are performed in a more efficient manner when they are.  That's what is manifested in the human mind, when it cogitates upon matters that are "abstract" in their relation to the immediate environment or which are by their nature not embodied in perceptible forms.  Since those matters are only indirect in their presentation, then they must be "presented" to the mind in the form of an internal model of their existence, one which resembles a perception but which is actively generated by the mind without direct dependence upon information input.  This is thought.  

Thought may be amenable to further input of information, but has degrees of discretion as to their admittance, and can define the barriers of admission according to standards and manner of relevance, according to different modes of significance, and for the sake of operations of intelligence which may or may not answer to empirical or external queues in its decision process.  This process sets up degrees of salience at its most efficient and internal pole of operation, and this accords with whatever standards of relevance and significance it has developed. If it is an operation upon pure information, even perhaps information created within its own process, then that tends develop as a form of logic.  If the operations are upon the data which inheres in objective entities that are independent of the intelligence which assesses them, then it is a logic upon the empirical and phenomenal forms of experience with those entities and tends toward a descriptive format.  

Most intelligent operations are upon some sort of relationship with the environment outside the embodied intelligence, and employ both a descriptive account that is readily refreshed by new information from the environment, yet also is open to a rapport with models and theories which are developed as an account of those phenomena.  There is an economy of intelligence between these modes of interaction with information, so that these may adapt to one another according to clarifications that are possible only between their operations.  That is a domain of intelligence that I think is best understood as heuristics.  When adaptations between echelons of intelligence manifests as a stable intelligence within itself, it is a heuristic intelligence.  Adaptations which manifest at the outer level of adaptations with an environment are most essentially methodological (in an ectoteric sense), and those which relate between the internal pole of any intelligence and its teleological optimum may be designated as of a theoretical character (cognitive) or of a spiritual character if it pertains to the ethos of that mind its its ultimate objectives. The theory and ethos of the mind, which manifests through the heuristics and methodology of its applications to itself and its world, well-reflects the major sectors of the economy in the life of the mind.

In the economy of mental life at this level, which is marked by the known existence of the human mind and its characteristics, there are cycles of intelligence which exist within the entire system, and these are fed by two poles of impetus and information.  The internal pole of impetus is the will of that being which expresses as the mind that it has, and the external pole is the adventitious realm outside of its direct bodily connection.  The entities which populate the external and internal realms which are divided by the body both have analogous relations with respect to the internal pole of the singular intelligence at the core of the body.  But the body itself is under the direct control of the internal pole of the individual mind which is embodied within it, and so has a more intimate and automanipulable relations with it, and it can be used as an instrument to deal with entities and with aspect of the information cycle outside of it.  Likewise, it is a more impinging world of information, with such experiences to offer as pain and pleasure, as well as many chores involving its maintenance.  This is all very much a precarious trade off which tends over time to disfavor the intelligence which is beset with it.   So the body represents a compromise with the external world, with respect to the internal pole of the intelligence which is embodied within it.  It is a conduit of action and this includes information gathering and methods of adaptive response to the world, and can even be a vessel for its own augmentation and optimal maintenance for all purposes of action (and its own comfort is included in this domain).  But it is also a weakness in its exposure to the world, one which enables it to act as a direct venue of leverage against the intelligence which is embodied within it.  This is a fundamental problem of the human intelligence, its situation within the body. 

Relevance to This Study

What is the meaning of Person of Interest in this context?  I've already laid out my interpretation of this dramatic series for TV, but I've not gone into the details of its form and content which would either confirm or detract from my interpretation.  I say that it is propaganda meant to project influence upon certain important matters concerning the world of those who would interpret this propaganda ("consume" it, in various ways), and that this is an understanding that is conjoint and consilient with the determinable agents of this propaganda, their motives, methods, and intentions both in the creation of this propaganda and concerning the real world in which they act.  That the propaganda demonstrates an intention by its creators to favorably influence the conditions of real-world action toward the agenda of those who are, therefore and by definition, the beneficiaries of that propaganda.  The real world connections which verify and strengthen my interpretation are a separate but essentially connected matter to the one I approach here, which is the form and content of the propaganda itself.  I said I would analyze that plot structure, both its form and content, so as to demonstrate the propaganda functions that it serves.  So I will begin to do that here.

The worldview demonstrated in Person of Interest is a reliable analogue of the views that real-world agents of influence outside of this project also espouse, and covers a sweeping range of their different expressions on various positions.  The primary axis of interest upon which the various issues of the plot revolve is an existential question of how a person comes to understand the world around them, how they evaluate its implications, what they choose to do after reaching an assessment of that context, all in accordance with whatever worldview they hold, whatever its coherence, accuracy, and consistency with the actual world around them.  People are in different situations which are accorded them through the auspices of fate and human agency, and this is just one component of their decision-making process, their embeddedness in these consequences which proceed not from them, but adventitiously from "the other".  Whether the matter is as commonplace as what befalls anyone, such as how to get through the day (or the night), or else has to do with more expansive matters of what is the real nature of the world and what it has to do with what issues that pertain to anyone and in some cases everyone.  It may be that the issues revolve around bare survival, moral principles, lifestyle aesthetics, metaphysical concepts, historical forces versus individual plights, and the question of what becomes of it all depending upon what each individual takes from it and contributes to it.

But in all these various stories about these matters as portrayed in POI, they tend to have a demonstrable relation to a specific thread of ideas that does not vary from the beginning to the end of the series.  The questions framed and the answers offered in all aspects which are woven into this drama, all rotate around the existence of an information asymmetry between those who have the information and those who do not.  Those who have the information that others do not have an aspect of leverage against them which enables them to better impose their will upon events which pertain to both parties.  This is sometimes asserted to be the rightful privilege, even duty of those who possess the information, and their arguments to justify this position are supported or weakened by the events portrayed in each episode.  Presented are the problems which arise because of lacking critical information, but possessing some kernal of information that spurs one to investigate further.  The ethics of each individual and community to the threat of crime is explored as a plot venue.  The complexity of events, and their multiplicity of possible distortions between image and substance, are reliably well presented so as to develop a plausible array of events, at least with respect to the other elements of the story taken together with them.  Disparities or other distortions which exist between the plot and the real world are a secondary matter at this point.

We live in a world where some people are willing to do very evil things, and perhaps for very petty reasons.  POI seems to underscore this fact, and to a very dramatic degree.  The motives may vary, the methods may range, and the degree of deliberation may also vary, but when opportunities arise for an evil impulse to manifest in action and there is insufficient deterrence, then there will be evil actions taken by those agents who are sufficiently motivated and enabled.  Information about the circumstances of the world which are favorable or unfavorable to these actions is a critical asset which, if an agent does not possess it, then he is at a strategic loss compared to his options if he does possess it, and especially in the context of a world where others may gain access to that information.  The competition between intelligences at this basic, organic and human level of action are reliably presented as a function of what happens in the real world.  But this leaves aside any plot devices which are simply tropes of convenience to the story-telling, at least in most cases.  Fortunately these devices are not contrived in such a way as to detract from the force of the most important arguments presented, whether by false support or by rhetorical distraction.  Therefore those aspects of the art may generally be put aside and the events which are portrayed in the story are sufficient for most analysis.

The cycles of intelligence should include an account of the conditions and motives of intelligences, and their relations to one another within a systemic account of their "world", which may be understood to be a flexibly semi-open, potentially infinite system (macro-micro scales, variation of kind and intensity of qualia, durations of spatio-temporal configurations of events and their degrees of complexity).  These are the putative "world" of the human species and its operations upon and within, and around the world called "Earth" as our basic empirical frame of reference, but such a concept as a "world", especially one in which intelligences are embedded and embodied, can surely not be arbitrarily limited to such initial conditions of its analysis, though they may be practically and theoretically limited by such conditions in some ways.  

Reference to some of these aspects of the world and the conditions of intelligence within the world will be useful to my own analysis of POI, and though I may only sometimes directly refer to such aspects of the analysis in the future "episodes" in this series concerning "Propaganda of Interest", it indicates the frame of reference in which one must search out the real meaning of art in worldspaces of its own interpretation, in the ideal sense of the phenomenon of art, and propaganda, in the unfortunate and real-world use made of art in the case of the world which we actually inhabit.  This is one aspect of the wider frame of reference in which POI is to be analyzed, and at a more generalized resolution. Others will be included, and at different scales of resolution.  The theme of the thesis is guided by the content of the propaganda, with its artistic elements understood to be in the service of that propaganda. That means that the references I'll use and modes of analysis will vary with that content. But as stated at the outset here, I'll be analyzing these elements of POI in terms of intelligence, as such and in its various forms, as well as in its various cycles and conditions of expression, as well as information topologies and types of information that flow through them.  That's a fortuitous approach since the major theme of POI simply is "intelligence, as such and in its various forms, as well as in its various cycles and conditions of expression, as well as information topologies and types of information that flow through them".

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