Dec 12, 2020Liked by Erik Davis

Revelatory typo: "incoporeal" – which I guess reflects how police are the embodiment of authority

Expand full comment
Dec 14, 2020Liked by Erik Davis

Awesome article, Erik. I can't read about the power of the negative octopus image in political art without taking a tour through the peri-natal matrix work of Stanislav Grof. One time when I was working with him on a publishing project, we were standing in a big work space in the art department, talking about the cover for his work. As part of the conversation, he busted out his powerpoint slide deck on this topic (very specifically the use of octopuses as a negative symbol in political art) and began giving an impromptu talk. Eventually, everyone in the art department was crowded around this one screen, totally fascinated.

He related the strange, magnetic power of these images to upset and disgust us (Why do pictures of octopuses seem sinister?) to negative experiences some infants experience in what he calls the third stage of the Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM III), which include accidental strangulation with the umbilical cord, etc. Grof says that the trauma of such birth experiences is unresolved in people, and some images (such as octopuses) trigger this trauma.

In any case, not saying I buy the theory, but couldn't resist sharing here.

Expand full comment

Every time I see a reference to an octopus, I think of grigori on the beach with Katje. Grigori was trained with Pavlovian techniques. It seems your mythical octopuses have a Pavlovian reaction to the smell of money

Expand full comment

Speaking of monopolies, and perhaps more to the point: the centralization of power and its caustic effect on those who have little to none. I've spent the last few weeks studying the rise of Amazon.com, google, Microsoft and Facebook. While most of these companies have faced a variety of anti trust allegations and paid big fines, none have been broken up or have had yet to deal with a slew of new federal regulations. This may come, but until that happens, all I see is government collaboration with big tech increasing.

It's becoming clearer just how big of a game changer big data and artificial Intelligence (AI) is. The pentagon has given hundreds of military contracts to these tech giants, some of which are shrouded in secrecy and are difficult to find info on due to a layer of subcontracts and shell companies. Some info has come out via FOIA requests.

Anyhow, it is my somewhat conspiratorial belief that the new arms race is between China and the US, and AI is both the battleground and the prize. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has recently made comments regarding Chinese spies stealing tech secrets and how the US needs to stop China from winning this tech battle. He mentioned the threat of an authoritarian super power with little concern for human rights using technology to further its economic growth and destroy private industry.

I found myself in the strange world of agreeing with a military intelligence industrial talking head.... yet, I also recognize that these tech giants are currently using AI data collection on us and have the power to manipulate a population in ways that would make Orwell blush. This type of power is something you might imagine occurring in a sci-fi book, yet we are seeing just the beginning of what looks like a new arms race.

One of the most convincing conspiracy theories I've come across lately is the World Economic Forum's Great Reset and Fourth Industrial Revolution. In many ways, its not even a conspiracy theory, their aims are shared openly and you can listen to the world they want us to live in. Private property won't really exist. Automation and AI will do most of the work. A universal basic income will become commonplace. The list is too long to repeat here, but needless to say some of it sounds MAYBE ok, while other aspects sound somewhat dystopian.

Meanwhile in China:

China is going cashless. They have launched social credit apps. They have video surveillance cameras going up in even rural areas. Jaywalkers will see their photo appear on digital screens on the streets as a way to shame them into subservience. Other crimes will result in automatic subtraction of your digital currency. There are efforts to use data to predict crimes or socially unacceptable behavior. They have re-education camps. You don't dare speak ill of the government, especially online.

Anyhow, I can't help but be utterly amazed at the pickle we've gotten ourselves in to. Our technology is threatening to enslave us. Centralized power seems to get more Orwellian the more powerful and more centralized it becomes. If Facebook or Amazon seems to have too much power and influence, wait till you see governments implement these tools for social control.

Does this sound conspiratorial or merely realistic?

Expand full comment