⁓Total Control⁓

of our movements & mind

It is coming. Total control is coming. It is coming in the form of facial recognition, machine learning and the extant desire of man to control other men and, almost needless to say, to control fauna, flora, natural resources & women too.

Within this — within Facial Recognition (FR) — I’m including iris & fingerprint scans (which are now sort of ‘old-school’), one’s gait, one’s heartbeat, one’s breathing and one’s vocal idiosyncrasies (the grammatical structures & lilt one unwittingly employs and deploys). With FR, AI can now lipread effortlessly and almost without flaw. Perversely, oh irony of ironies, the last recourse for libertarians may well be to don a loose-fitting abaya and adopt the shayla with a niqab to boot (yet, letter-box style, such garb will be forbidden in due course in the name of national security; just look next door to KSA to see what I/m on about).

When I say Total Control is coming, I more accurately mean that it is basically already here. But I consider it latent and laying low for now. Under the radar, it is biding its time, it is potent, it has portent, it will be omnipresent and predominant. Men of good fortune, you see, they have all the time they need (after all, they’ve us where they want us to be and we are dancing diligently to their drumbeat).

Faces open phones
Snapchat has filters
Instagram takes selfies
Facebook now 'auto' tags
TikTok takes the bloody lot

Total Control you see, and the men of good fortune behind it, have us by hook (line & sinker) and, they have us by crook too (because if liberal state entities desist, your invisible-hand, capital-seeking company sure as night follows day won’t hold back and refrain). It is already in situ at our shopping malls,[1] retailers use Bluetooth to detect our smartphones as we roam around, allowing them to proffer us with real time special offers [sic]. They also track us to see where we linger to ascertain what’s hot and what’s not (i.e., in front of which product do we stand and look longingly at for the longest). There’s no real recourse to escape Total Control’s clasp, only the off-grid recluses have yet to succumb to its virtually all encompassing G P S enabled digital creep and seep.

Karen Hao et al.[2] suggests that while it is fashionable to fret about the prospect of super-intelligent machines taking over the world by say 2050, we should rather concern ourselves about the actual dangers that FR etc. do now present:

A.
FR is a formidable way to invade people’s privacy. AI tech.’s superhuman ability to identify faces has led countries to deploy surveillance technology at a remarkable rate. We know well that FR enables us to unlock our phones and automatically tags our photos on social media. It moreover enables anyone to find out about us via software such as Amazon Rekognition — take or get a picture of anyone, in the lecture theatre, in the mall, then feed it to Rek, it’ll tell you who it is and once you’ve their amalgamated social media profiles and web postings, you’ll — in seconds — know rather a lot about them. They could be sitting their listening diligently to the professor’s lecture on logical positivism and borne of boredom you silently photograph them and moments later you could be swiping through their Snapchat twerks and their Pintrest tips on yoga poses for better posture (and never quite getting the import of Wittgenstein’s change of mind).

B.
The fact that AI tech. is used by political manipulators like Cambridge Analytica to alter election and referendum results, undermine healthy debate and, isolate citizens with different views from one another has been with us for a good six years now. Our media feeds are tailored and we all exist in echo chambers whose outer walls are soundproofed padded cells.

C.
The proliferation of “deepfake” videos is another real and present danger. Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), which involve two competing neural networks, can generate extraordinarily realistic but completely made-up images and video. Nvidia recently showed how GANs can generate photo-realistic faces of whatever race, gender, and age you want. Forget fake celebrity porn and idle tittle tattle, think: virulent political smear campaigns and claims based on false science. Think of The Tango, Rude Guliano, alternative facts and fake news.

Big Hands
^ my case in point

Many demand there to be appropriate safeguards in place and for a moratorium on biometric FR technology ((so, so true but capitalism’s been unleashed, the greed and ego of man is both clear and obvious, the proverbial genie’s been let out of Pandora’s box)) so while certain jurisdictions may halt their own agencies using FR tech., multinationals and nefarious individuals are hardly going to pay heed. It is known that presently FR tools generate many of the same biases as humans do, but with the false patina of technical neutrality, we are less likely to call out or even notice such biases. Greater accuracy is not however the only or even main bone of contention. No. It is that Total Control will soon rob us of our liberty and ability to think freely. As Kate Crawford says, “this technology will make all of us less free.”[3] Unfortunately, the idea, frankly, of us harnessing technology is, and I quote, “fanciful.” To hold that we can keep technology in check and use it only for the common good, may with hindsight, be seen as having been a rather naive contention. As I hear it said, be careful what you wish for, and in the lab, be careful with what you develop. No… that sounds wrong! Wish (in a daydream like way) for anything your heart craves and don’t hold back on any form of experimentation whatsoever but, ‘but,’ it is critical we think things through; ‘think before you speak.’

You know what’s the motto of America’s New Hampshire, don’t you: “Live Free Or Die.” Well, it is as moving as it is quaint. It was previously used by the French during their revolutionary years — Vivre Libre ou Mourir. This motto is so me… so much so I want it to be so . but alas no , I did all I humanly could but it wasn’t enough ; it could never ever be close to being enough unless the result is all of you, every sinew every single second : it is all {or} it is nothing at all . I am left with nothing and I feel not free but I have not yet been able to will myself to die. The Greeks said a similar thing and carry it today: “Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος” (“Freedom or death”), I’m with them in mind, I am with them in desire but (1) I am alone [yet I’ve still not been able to consciously force myself to pass away] and (2) I am knowingly under Total Control’s auspices as much as every other person I know, if not even more so: I scroll, I refresh, I obsess [& again, I’ve not mustered the willpower to self-combust and abscond this mortal coil].

According to Anna Mitchell et al.,[4] China is perfecting a vast network of digital espionage as a means of social control ((and don’t we all just love cheap Chinese product nowadays)). In China, it is said, when you step outside your door, your actions in the physical world are swept into the dragnet: the government gathers an enormous volume of information by way of C C T V. According to some, one hundred percent of Beijing is now covered by surveillance cameras ((it ain’t just China, where I live there are cameras on every traffic light and all over the university campus)). As is so most everywhere, the main stated goal is to capture and deter criminals. Yet, the massive risks to privacy are there in plain daylight. As Anna Mitchell paints it and I paraphrase it:

Imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. Your “citizen score” follows you wherever you go. A high score allows you access to faster internet service or a fast-tracked decision on a welfare payment or a hospital appointment. If you make political posts online or, for instance, question or contradict the government’s official narrative on current events, however, your score decreases. … To calculate such scores, private companies in partnership with government agencies will unceasingly trawl through vast amounts of your social media and online shopping data alongside your G P S movements and hangouts; you may be allowed to know your score but certainly wont be allowed to know the heuristics upon which it is derived.

In such ^^ scenarios ^^ — which I submit to you are basically underway if not yet overtly rolled out and, when they are rolled out will be, on the grounds of national security, bellicosely championed by state-backed sycophants and media outlets — citizens will refrain from any kind of independent or critical expression for fear that their data will be read or their movements recorded and their citizen score reduced. Indeed, my dear reader, this is the whole point and purpose of it. While we should monitor and denounce this sinister creep toward an Orwellian world, we… me… we mostly just do nothing at all.


Relevant past posts:
Poetry & ProseBooks1984
Poetry & ProseBooksBrave New World

Orwell's---1984


Live Free Or Die

— General John Stark (1809)


p.s.

Bellicose
Demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight.


Bide one’s time
This phrase means to wait quietly for a good opportunity to do something. — “She patiently bided her time before making her bid to escape and roam free.”

* Read the Nature magazine 2019 article by Kate Crawford,

Editable PDF: “Regulate facial-recognition technology”

which comes with the wonderful pull-out quote:


These tools are DANGEROUS when they fail and HARMFUL when they work.

— Kate Crawford (2019)

I shall study…

for what else can I do?
❝(Ⅲ+Ⅲ) ⅋ (Ⅲ*Ⅲ)❞

Heronimus Bosch
^ Known as a triptych. This one consists of oil daubed, with meticulous masterstrokes, on three oak panels. It was painted some 500 years ago, by a lowlands gentleman called, Hieronymus Bosch.

“Garden of Earthly Delights” is the contemporary title given to Hieronymus Bosch’s mesmerising work. It was painted in around 1499 and is currently on show at the Museo del Prado in Spain.

Before digging and delving a little deeper, lets enjoy each panel in turn (click each of the three below to greatly expand the image); together, the three parts of a triptych are intended to tell a story which is read from left to right:

Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_-_The_Earthly_Paradise_(Garden_of_Eden)
A. “Left-hand panel”
Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_-_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_(Ecclesia's_Paradise)
B. “Central panel”
Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_-_Hell
C. “Right-hand panel”

As so little is known about Bosch, opinions and interpretations of his work have ranged from, “an admonition of worldly fleshy indulgence,” through, “a dire warning on the perils of life’s temptations,” to, “an evocation of ultimate sexual joy!” Look again at the myriad of things going on in the central panel; there is a surfeit of symbolism. Contemporary scholars are divided as to whether the triptych’s central panel is a moral warning (good 😇) or a panorama of paradise lost (bad 😈). But come on YOLO (( Jae: WOLO )) bad is good ain’t it. We say wicked to mean good and sick to mean wow. I, for one would rather wallow in the last days of Rome, than be a prudish restrained human, living not for today but the mythical afterlife.

“Hidden meanings in The Garden of Earthly Delights”
by Fiona Macdonald (9 August, 2016)
BBC
 
“Facts You Need to Know About the Delightfully Weird ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’”
by Jessica Stewart (6 July 6, 2019)
MyModernMet
 
“Decoding Bosch’s Wild, Whimsical “Garden of Earthly Delights”
by Alexxa Gotthardt (18 October, 2019)
Artsy.net


POST SCRIPTUM

Tri–
Etymology: From Latin tri- (“three”) and Ancient Greek τρι- (tri-, “three”).


Triptych
A triptych is a work of art that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works.


Trilogy
A group of three related novels, plays or films etc.

Tricycle
A vehicle similar to a bicycle, but having three wheels, two at the back and one at the front.


Triangulation
[1] (in surveying) the tracing and measurement of a series or network of triangles in order to determine the distances and relative positions of points spread over an area, especially by measuring the length of one side of each triangle and deducing its angles and the length of the other two sides by observation from this baseline. — “The triangulation of Great Britain.”
[2] The formation of or division into triangles.
[3] (In American politics) the action or process of positioning oneself in such a way as to appeal to or appease both left-wing and right-wing standpoints.


Triplicate
Adjective: Existing in three copies or examples.
Noun: A thing which is part of a set of three copies or corresponding parts.
Verb: To make three copies of something; to multiply by three.


Tripod
A three-legged stand for supporting a camera or other apparatus.


Trigonometry
The branch of mathematics dealing with the relations of the sides and angles of triangles and with the relevant functions of any angles.


Tripartite
[1] Shared by three parties. — “a tripartite coalition government.”
[2] Consisting of three parts — “a tripartite classification.”


Tricolour
Adjective: Something that has three colours.
Noun: A flag with three bands or blocks of different colours, especially the French national flag with equal upright bands of blue, white, and red.


p.p.s.
With reference to the trio of trilogies introduced above:

* AESCHYLUS [1 of 3]
Aeschylus (524–456 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian and is today described as the father of tragedy.

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1862)
My X man, a sensitive soul but also a *_fucking_* player
Greek text
“It’s all Greek to me”
(i.e., double Dutch, gibberish, gobbledygook, mumbo jumbo)

It’s all Greek to me
An English idiom — which may be construed as rude by some — meaning that something is difficult to understand. The metaphor makes reference to Greek as an archetypal foreign form of communication both written and spoken. The idiom is typically used with respect to something of a foreign nature. We may choose to use it to refer to texts containing too much jargon etc. The idiom/metaphor’s roots may well be a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin: “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”) a phrase increasingly used by monk scribes in the Middle Ages, as knowledge of the Greek alphabet and language was dwindling among those who were copying manuscripts in monastic libraries. Recorded usage of the metaphor in English traces back to the early modern period. It appears in 1599 in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.

Double Dutch
[Informal • British]
Language that is impossible to understand. — “The instructions were written in double Dutch.”


Gibberish
Unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing. — “Our Doctor for English Literature often talks a load of gibberish.”


Gobbledygook
Language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of technical terms. — “His essay on Plato was pure gobbledygook.”


Mumbo jumbo
Language or ritual causing or intended to cause confusion or bewilderment. — “A maze of legal mumbo jumbo.”


Read more :
Poetry & ProseWritersAeschylus

 

** ALIGHIERI DANTE [2 of 3]
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in the Italian city of Florence. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” is the famous phrase written above the gate of Hell in the 14th c. poem by Dante; the poem is called the “Divine Comedy” and Hell is known as “Dante’s Inferno.”

Dante
Love moves the sun and the other stars.


Read more :
Poetry & ProseWritersAlighieri Dante

 

*** CHINUA ACHEBE [3 of 3]
Achebe is said to be the father of African literature in English. In spare and lucid prose, he writes of the universal tale of personal and moral struggle in a(n ever) changing world. In his most notable and accomplished work, Things Fall Apart, the individual tragedy of Okonkwo, ‘strong man’ and tribal elder in the Nigeria of the 1890s is intertwined with the transformation of traditional Igbo society under the impact of Christianity and colonialism. In No Longer at Ease, Okonkwo’s grandson, Obi, educated in England, returns to a civil-service job in colonial Lagos, only to clash with the ruling elite to which he now believes he belongs. Arrow of God is set in the 1920s and explores the conflict from the two points of view – often, but not always, opposing – of Ezuelu, an Igbo priest, and Captain Winterbottom, a British district officer.

eye cry

[ he’s sad ]


Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium!
We enter, fire-drunk,
Heavenly one, your shrine.
Your magic again binds
What custom has firmly parted.
All men become brothers
Where your tender wing lingers.
Whoever has had the great fortune
To be a friend’s friend,
Whoever has won a devoted wife,
Join in our jubilation!
Indeed, whoever can call even one soul,
His own on this earth!
And whoever was never able to, must creep
Tearfully away from this band!
Indeed, whoever can call even one soul,
His own on this earth!
And whoever was never able to, must creep
Tearfully away from this band!
Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium!
We enter, fire-drunk,
Heavenly one, your shrine.
Your magic again binds
What custom has firmly parted.
All men become brothers
Where your tender wing lingers.
Your magic again binds
What custom has firmly parted.
All men become brothers
Where your tender wing lingers.


— Friedrich Schiller (1985)

Friedrich Schiller's signature

Arthur_B._Davies_-_Elysian_Fields_-_Google_Art_Project
“Elysian Fields”
by Arthur Bowen Davies (c. 1916)

p.s.

The word “Elysium” (Ἠλύσιον) derives from the Ancient Greek and means, ‘to be deeply stirred from joy.’ In Homer’s Odyssey, Elysium is described as a paradise:
“The Elysian plain…where life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain, but ever does Ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing West Wind that they may give cooling to men.”

Illustrious

& illuminating

Quintin Blake
Dear those troubled with dark thoughts
Quintin Blake
Let’s try together to lighten your load.

Illustrator: Quentin Saxby Blake
9FE9CDE4-27D8-4C04-8A55-3CF0D8B4B1A1

While Quentin is an author in his own right, he’s probably best known for illustrating Roald Dahl’s (1916–1990) novels; which have now sold over 250 million copies — yep Jay, that’s a quarter of a billion innit.

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl: author and smoker
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach is a popular children's novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
“A young orphan boy enters a gigantic, magical peach, and has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure with seven magically-altered garden bugs he meets.”
01F75466-4A9D-4BBF-8FF0-CB7AFC041682
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
“The adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka.”
The Twits is a humorous children's book written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake.
The Twits (1979)
“A hideous, vindictive, spiteful couple known as the Twits continuously play nasty practical jokes on each other out of hatred for one another.”

After finishing my Children’s Literature course, I did read this book to my younger sisters and brother:

Author: Quentin Blake
“When eccentric Professor Dupont tries to track down his troupe of brightly-coloured cockatoos, they’re always just one step ahead of him.”

I shall read…

for what else to do now?


This mournful and restless sound was a fit accompaniment to my meditations.


— Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Oh 2 be b’side the c-side with u write now! Can you hear it, can you hear me, can you hear the sonorous, no searing, sounds of the redolent, no relentless, sea.

Read The NYT Book review

Download a PDF copy here:
BooksNYT Book Review (Jan. 2020).

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it.
“No one compares to you, but there’s no you, except in my dreams tonight.”
— Lana Del Rey


Though lovers be lost, love shall not /
And death shall have no dominion.


— Dylan Thomas

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 013
“It hurts to breathe. It hurts to live. I hate him, yet I do not think I can exist without him.”
― Charlotte Featherstone


There is an ocean of silence between us… and I am drowning in it.


— Ranata Suzuki

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 012
“You can love someone so much… But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”
― John Green


Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.


— Kahlil Gibran

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 010
“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
― George R. Martin


It’s painful, loving someone from afar /
Watching them – from the outside.


— Ranata Suzuki


“Your smile and your laughter lit my whole world.”

Humanism

Isms
-ism

I like the sound of “humanism”
[ hu-man-ism | /hjuːmənɪz(ə)m/ ]
but, it ain’t as simple as it sounds …

“Humanism”, an idol of the marketplace?
— Matthew Sharpe (2015)

… is it a hedonistic trait?
… is it a doctrine for the atheist?

Well, according to Wikipedia et al., as a concept, a theoretical construct, an analytical framework, humanism primarily concerns itself with humankind. Concerns include: human needs, human desires, and human experiences.

Jim Al-Khalili — a British academic who describes himself as a humanist — makes some great documentaries and, thanks to Spark, some of these are on the free side of paywalls 🙂 :

Philosophers today often mark the beginning of humanism with the writings of Dante (1265–1321), nonetheless, it was Petrarch and his musings that more accurately formed the foundations. Petrarch (1304–1374) was an Italian poet who applied the ideas and values of ancient Greece and Rome to questions about Christian doctrines and ethics which were all the rage during his own time. Petrarch was among the first to work to unearth long-forgotten ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts. Unlike Dante, he abandoned any concern with religious theology in favour of ancient Roman poetry and philosophy. He also focused upon Rome as the site of a classical civilization, not as the center of Christianity. Finally, Petrarch argued that our highest goals should not be the imitation of Christ, but rather the principles of virtue and truth as described by the ancients.

Following in Petrarch’s footsteps — so to speak — was Erasmus (1466–1536), a.k.a. Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus was a Dutch philosopher and humanist who is widely considered to have been one of the greatest scholars of the northern Renaissance. Amongst humanists he enjoyed the sobriquet “Prince of the Humanists.” Importantly, he prepared new Latin and Greek editions of the Bible’s New Testament, which raised questions that would be influential in relation to the later reformations that took place in Europe. He also wrote On Free Will and — something I like the sound of — In Praise of Folly.

Holbein-erasmus (2)
‘Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam’
by Hans Holbein the Younger (1523)
Hanging @ The National Gallery, London, England, United Kingdom.

Humanism can also be seen as a contemporary philosophical stance that emphasises the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers scientific evidence-based critical thinking in preference to blind, sheep-like acceptance of dogma and superstition.

Adam Miller’s paintings explore the intersection between mythology, ecology and humanism.

Adam Miller
Adam Miller, at ease in his New York studio
The Fall of Troy
The Fall of Troy
Adam Miller
‘A painting’
By Adam Miller
by Adam Miller
‘A painting’
By Adam Miller


p.s.
-ism is a suffix you’ll see in many English words which — as I’ve said before, like most good things — originates from Greece. In Ancient Greek there’s this suffix: ισμός; it came to us via the Latin suffix: -ismus, and the French one: -isme. In a nutshell, words ending with -ism will often mean: “taking side with someone or something.” -ism words are often used to describe philosophies, artistic and political movements and, behaviour (think: psychology).

Capitalism
— An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets.


Communism
— A philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.


Without fear

Without favour

Index-on-Censorship
🤐🙈🤐🙉🤐🙊


Free societies are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom’s existence.


— Salman Rushdie

Journaist's toolbox
   The Journalist’s Toolbox


Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.


— Laurie Halse Anderson


To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.


— Michel de Montaigne


To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.


— Claude Adrien Helvetius


Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.


— Mark Twain

Censorship
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