Narrative and Metaverse
Part 2: Gain of Function
Why is it so difficult to see that there is an actual, physical world of thought where narratives live, and that these narratives can be diminished or enhanced by the metaverse-aware, just as viruses can be diminished or enhanced by the microverse-aware?
Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. Mark Zuckerberg
As regular readers of Epsilon Theory know, I'm a dilettante farmer, meaning that my primary farming goal is really just to avoid injury (well, severe injury) as I act out the timeworn middle-aged white guy fantasy of driving a tractor and "working the land". So, yes, we have horses and sheep and goats, but they're pets, not livestock. Their meaning to me is aesthetic, not utilitarian, and I think of our flock of sheep, for example, as a living, mobile art installation.
My grandfather and namesake, who was a non-dilettante dairy farmer in North Alabama, would find my attitude towards these animals entirely alien and more than a little comical. Every animal on my grandfather's farm had a utilitarian purpose and meaning. Every animal's survival, literally whether or not they would be killed or allowed to live another day, was the result of a constant, unceasing, utilitarian cost-benefit analysis. That Ben Hunt, unlike this Ben Hunt, was in the business of farming, which requires thinking about animals in a very different way than dilettante farming.
Farmers or not, I believe it's fair to say that most people in the 1930s shared my grandfather's utilitarian thinking about animals, and I believe it's fair to say that most people today share mine. It's interesting to me that our society-wide thinking about animals has changed so dramatically in less than 100 years, and I believe it's because on a society-wide basis we have hidden away all of the billions of poultry and livestock animals that used to live among us.
Did you know that there are 75 million pigs and hogs kept as livestock in the United States? 75 million! I've never seen one of them. I see the shrink-wrapped chops and bacon and roasts every time I go to the grocery store, but I have never seen ONE of the 75 million alive-only-until-a-utilitarian-calculus-determines-they-will-be-slaughtered pigs and hogs.
About 9 billion chickens will be killed for food in the United States this year. Another 400 million or so will lay eggs for us. There are about 100 million cows alive today in the United States, and less than 10% of that total are dairy cows. More than 100,000 cows are killed to be eaten in the United States every day.
Out of sight, out of mind.
An ocean of shrink-wrapped animal flesh becomes the water in which we swim, invisible to conscious thought, much less consternation. And what a vast and well-priced ocean of shrink-wrapped animal flesh it is! ... oh-so democratically available as befits this, the best of all possible worlds. So vast that I cannot remember a single day of my life where I did not eat the flesh of another animal. So invisible that I cannot remember a single day of my life where I thought of it as eating the flesh of another animal.
We no longer think of animal-as-food because we no longer have the story of animal-as-food.
We no longer have any personal experience or knowledge of the animals we eat, because those billions of animals (billions!) have been intentionally sequestered and hidden away from us. More importantly we have no mediated or socially-shared linguistic experience (none at all!) with how the food we eat comes to us. This is intentional, as well.