gervais principle memetic hazard and clueless values

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[So this was a response to an email list. It’ll be a little bit out of context. Someone asked about showing Venkatesh Rao’s “The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to ‘The Office'” to a friend. Somewhere downthread, I eventually posted the below.]

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-or-the-office-according-to-the-office/

I think you can have it all… gut-tearing disillusionment; cynical detachment; vicious fightiness for what you care about while being skeptical about the legitimacy of your caring; moments of relief and gratitude; and then there’s the contemplative part of watching it all go around-and-around inside you…

I think the main part of being Clueless is accepting the surface corporate culture as given-as-is. Whatever they say it is, that’s what it is. You’re also Clueless if you internalize the corporate culture–if you ever feel guilt or shame in your relationship with work (and I will admit to this, sometimes) then you are at least partially Clueless.

The Rao Sociopath does not accept the surface culture as given; ze sees the duty/guilt/loyalty/fear/power/monkey forces that animate the organization, the physics versus the spirits. There isn’t any “there” there, anymore, culture loses its reality and power, because it never existed in the first place.

The Rao Sociopath, being able to effortlessly (or so ze thinks) see the physics of what’s going on, gains limited (but potentially increasing, with practice) power to appropriate, rewrite, influence, and deploy the symbolic web that the Clueless are caught in.

The danger is that the symbolic web also legitimately nourishes and connects and is essential for human functioning. If the Sociopath isn’t careful ze can gut zirself. But being careful isn’t enough–the deconstruction of the Sociopath’s own symbolic web isn’t entirely under the Sociopath’s control. This is the abyss gazing back. Buh-bye happiness.

But I do think there’s something waiting on the other side of the abyss, with the right philosophy, social support, etc.

Tying this back to the OP and the tangents:

1) Memetic immune systems are really personal and their decisions are difficult to predict. Sometimes a person will wall off the new stuff, forget about it, etc. Other times, ze won’t be able to keep it out, for better or worse. Other times, you make the choice to let the new inputs chew through you, not knowing what the outcome will be. [Redacted], have you considered informed consent? Laying some of this on the table and asking your friend whether or not he wants to read it? There’s trickiness and potential hazards there too, of course.

2) I *think* Clueless-for-a-legitimate-cause is still Clueless. There’s something rigid and inflexible [Update: and inefficient!] about it, and unless the Sociopath in charge is benevolent (hmm, must there be a Sociopath in charge? If you can’t spot the Sociopath then are you Clueless???), there’s a lot of potential for external and self-abuse. If one can’t spot the deliberate rhetoric and monkey forces that are animating self and others in the situation, then I would say, that’s bad. But maybe that’s a personal value. And I’m not a happy person, so there’s that. 😀 I prefer to work and interact with people that deeply care yet simultaneously have zero identity investment in any one specific thing, or anything really. But, again that leaves me perpetually, truly agonizingly disenfranchised. 😀

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