An upheaval, really?
Reading the article The Great Inversion, supposed to reveal a major upheaval in our society, many of you will have pouted. “What does he announce? Media dominance is a truism. Propaganda has been around for centuries. Debord has already taken care of denouncing the society of the spectacle. Information flows come and go. Why would they have suddenly become a cause of depression?”
Large reversals are sometimes invisible, especially when the dimension in which they are exercised is not known. Here, on the subject of fishing for information, it is a question of understanding that the fish has become the fisherman. Humans are alerted everywhere that they are potential prey for manipulators. This is nothing new. But they see fake news as fake fish, lures, and still think of themselves as the fishermen. Wrong. Here is a more in-depth supplement, which will first interest philosophers and psychologists.
There are dominant flows, as with large ocean currents. Imagine the Gulf Stream reversing, bringing cold Arctic water along the Coast of Europe. Local climate upheaval. The mood of local residents would be altered.
But the Great Inversion is not that. Rather, it is a tsunami that comes to cover our coasts, to tear down the walls of houses, revealing our spirits perched on their throne. No more intimacy. All mental excretion is now public. Forcing to find, in an emergency, new laws to regulate it. There are no longer two spheres, public and private. The tsunami blew up the partition.
A very personal permanence
Understanding the flow of information forces us to descend one floor into complexity. At this level, the contents have not yet acquired their meaning. It is only an exchange of raw data between the individual and the rest of reality.
Most of the exchange is permanent but not intrusive: my neural networks receive sensory data about my environment. Neutral, usual data. This means that my mental patterns are recognizable in them. The reality they build is “the world”, the stable framework that surrounds me. Its permanence is that of my personal patterns, not the permanence of the world. The first is based on the second but is an approximation. The main thing escapes me. Shift impossible to detect by the senses, because for me the real world is the surimposition of my mental patterns.
From the identity of reality to mine
This is an exchange and not just a record of data. My patterns search for themselves in the image of the world. My attention generates the presence of an animal barely visible in the forest. The animal is present in the visual data of other people looking in this direction, but does not necessarily appear in their worlds. Only in those where the ‘animal’ scheme search itself in the image.
My neurons exchange with each other and build a perpetual dynamic of my reality. This world is multi-layered. The ownership of the bottom is left to reality; yet it is mine by my own sensory characteristics. Then each layer of information added feels more identity: names of things, people, social consciences, pure abstractions, deities. The more complex my thinking focuses, the more I feel ownership of my thoughts.
Mental entities, from the inanimate to “I”
Each entity of my inner reality thus gains in personality, through the layers that are added to its representation. Some entities remain material and frustrated (inanimate objects); others are complex without specificity (an unknown human); others very personalized (a loved one, with his predictable reactions, his story); and still others remain purely abstract, devoid of the layers of a material support (ideals, social consciousness, science).
What about myself? Self-image is the most complex entity, no doubt. Made independent from its root by my bodily sensory influx. Enriched with a host of reflexes and an extensive temporal dimension. It is not experienced as an entity but as “I”, because everything that represents is part of it. “I” is the fusion of it.
Stuck in my mind
It seems to “I” that he can get out of it, through self-observation of oneself. But it is actually a dialogue between on the one hand the ways of observing that I use for others, on the other hand a photograph of me taken for the occasion. Photography is rarely faithful. Vagaries of introspection. Others may have a more accurate representation than mine and understand me better than myself.
Self-observation takes place in a proprietary way to the “I”, at the peak of its conscious complexity. It is never extrinsic to it. I can’t get out of my mental space.
Tiered information flows
Each level of my mental complexity is codified by a specific language. Some are the same in my congeners, without communicating with them. For example, my visual neurons assemble faces according to a code identical to yours; but they don’t tell themselves. I am obliged to verbalise the result, with the help of a speech, so that we can agree on the face.
Others of my levels communicate directly with yours without going through the oral. This text is understandable to you because we share the concepts symbolized by words. If you faced me, my bodily attitudes would communicate directly with yours, without a word. Your pheromones, in case you are of the opposite sex, could even cut me off any expression 🙂
What news makes people react?
It is at the level of abstractions that the flow of information is most agitated. Let’s call them news. Not all of them are so new. The most universal have little interest. What excitement would I have to know that you know the location of New Caledonia? There is already a clear consensus on this. Is Macron the new president? I’ll take it. But the 2nd time I receive the information, I don’t stop. The 3rd time bores me.
News is not news by itself. Only by the patterns to which it responds in my mind. Does it change my inner reality, or is it a continuation of the framework in which I evolve? I am not interested in news about the material environment. My senses are already doing the job. I don’t care if my girlfriend tells me, when I double on the road: “A car is coming!”. I see it as well. If I react, it is against the silent and unflattering subtext: “Are you going to think about falling back?” 😉
Making identity news
Above the framework ‘material environment’, rather consensual, evolves a universe of abstractions that is not at all. The worst variations, among the news exchanged in this universe, concern opinions. My opinions are personal, often less shared than I would like. Communicating the meaning of a word or the presence of a car is not rewarding; I am not the author. An opinion, on the other hand, is intended to be identitarian. Much more effective thruster to put into orbit the ineffable feeling of reward!
Opinion is super-identitarian when I invented it. I gladly erase from the landscape all those who have contributed to forming it and it becomes my creation! Not easy, in this infinite ocean of information, which suggests that everything has already been thought out. Here is a first factor for the ambient depression. Very hard to exacerbate my individuality, because very difficult to form a really original opinion. The reward loses its luster.
Opinions and facts
Difficult invention? So the most acceptable substitute is the opinion read somewhere. Rather far. The title deed also remains at a distance. Purchased with the book. It’s even better when the author has died. A thinker at the cemetery gives me very little shade. A living thinker crossed in an evening is more embarrassing. If he is part of the same group as me his size is sometimes stifling. My ego rebels. I tend to counter his opinion rather than adopt it.
Of course this egotistic treatment of the news is not the only one. My collectivist tendency accepts without difficulty the opinions of others, especially when they are universal, not subject to dispute. The flow of information that reaches my brain is thus divided into two categories: on the one hand, the environmental framework and its proven facts, rarely conflictual; on the other side opinions, which seek to colonize my identity. Opinions all the more threatening as my identity is fragile.
No real exchange
This is a surprise: the ego that does not support a contrary opinion is not the most assured, the “oversized”, but the most fragile. The assured ego is rather indifferent, “haughty” for the one who can not penetrate his opinion. Injury in this other ego actually. The assured pays no attention to it. No exchange. The second factor of the ambient depression is the absence of real exchange, leaving the ego isolated. He cannot get out of his skull box and embrace a vast world through those seen by others.
And the people we see absorbing fake news with great greed? Easy colonization? Their identity is neither strong (they would remain indifferent), nor fragile (they would rebel). They simply don’t have an identity on the subject yet. They build it. It is impossible to speak of colonization if there is no Aboriginal opinion.
What can be disputed?
Both categories are very important, in information flows. The collectivist (the framework) is neutral, does not entail any transfer of power. Both individuals own a strictly identical image. On the other hand, the individualistic category (opinion) contains a crucial power, because it can transform the opposing identity, if it already exists about the subject.
We finally connect to the Great Inversion, of which this article is the complement. As individuals we are immersed in the same framework of collectivist information. We receive the same visual information, witness the same objective facts. Little dispute here, theoretically. The very notion of human collectivity is based on this similarity. The challenge is usually limited to interpretations of the facts, opinions.
When opinion truncates the framework
When the flow of information is mainly collectivist and contains few opinions (many facts, few interpretations), it does not attack the ego(s). Conflicts are possible but are resolved quite easily. The points of contention are details of broadly similar inner realities. This is how social understanding is good in culturally homogeneous countries.
When the number of opinions increases until they go beyond the collectivist part of the flow, people no longer recognize themselves as belonging to the same world. Even the environmental framework is taking hits! Objective facts are no longer rendered identically. In anger, an opponent can point to a dog and say it’s a cat!
The extinction of the common world
Individual identity is perforated by this strafing of protest bullets. The envelope that protects it is fraying. We no longer know where we live. There is no longer a shared reality, but a plethora of alternative realities. Which one to join? If the one you thought was universal is no longer, it is a large part of your identity that is weakened. Third factor of depression. The world in which we built ourselves no longer exists.
The most exposed are of course the most collectivist among us. The others took refuge in groupism. They have narrowed their universe to that of the group. Stability regained. No horizon. They do not understand why collectivists mourn their lost Great Humanity…
Habits against depression?
Moral: When you get depressed, reduce your universe to very simple and rewarding things. Live in a usual world. Cut yourself off from opinions, interpretations, even those of the shrink when they are too abundant. Reintroduce them in small doses. Mithridat yourself to foreign opinion. Don’t let them intoxicate your identity again. Protect yourself from the great invasion that is the Great Inversion.
If its reality still does not seem striking to you, consider this: In the last century, wolves were those with radical opinions, and sheep those accepting without flinching the majority discourse. Today sheep are the radicals…