Bread and Circuses

How to control masses

Do a google search with that phrase. Interesting.

Not a new idea. Juvenal and Cicero said similar things – involving bread and circuses – almost 2 millennia before Huxley. But Huxley says it, in my opinion, more strongly, and probably because he was English. I have always been intrigued by how large a segment of the English population clings to the idea that their royals are special, and worth standing by on a curb, caps doffed, waving flags as their betters pass by.

Francesca, during her time working in England, frequented a pub there. The locals’s view of WWII was that it was ongoing. And of course the royals are beyond question deserving of their adulation. But, there you have it. Circuses. And ale.

Still, had Huxley been French I think it likely he would never have arrived at this opinion. No no no. The French, in my experience, are the most pleasingly ornery cusses in all of Europe. Bread and circuses will not suffice. I think they’re great.

In Italy it’s even marginally better. They have their rulers, but as to being ruled, only if they are not discommoded in the least. They are past masters of the art of ignoring pronouncements from on high.

I can’t speak cogently of any other lands, although I have many politically incorrect opinions.

Days, fewer circuses

During my decades as an angry theoretical physics maverick, and in all the times during those years in which I was employed doing stuff unrelated to theoretical physics, each day something was built that would lead to more building in the days to come. There was purpose. In both those jobs, and the theorizing, there was a feeling of ascending, and satisfaction if, for example, my theorizing explained the prevalence of matter in our universe, as opposed to an equal mix with antimatter (and what a fucking nightmare that would have been; you can thank my physics model that it isn’t so).

Then, having retired from employment, and burned out from physics, my creative energies idled for a very short time. Unable to sit still, I wrote a series of books, which no one reads, and then began a blog, also largely unread. But no matter. All this engendered a lesser feeling of ascending, but it was at least something. (Francesca reminded me that just because household chores are repetitive and never ending, and they don’t contribute to my need to create, and be creative, that doesn’t mean I can ignore them. Yes, dear.)

Keep it together

Boeing, the corporation, please be advised, I never worked for you, and although I think McDonnell Douglas’s grand illusion that Boeing could coast along just fine without engineering oversight, thereby making psychopathic investors happy, I am unlikely to ever be called before congress to testify against you, so there is no cause to … remember the scene in Shooter (Mark Wahlberg) where the protagonist saves the FBI agent from an attempt to assist the agent’s unwilling suicide … yeah, we all know … like we all know that billions buys a lot if impunity.

The whistleblower may be gone, but Boeing’s own planes carry on his good work by repeatedly malfunctioning. I sincerely hope my next trip to the EU will be on Airbus.

(Oh, and Vladimir, if I “accidentally” fall out one of our windows, I’m unlikely to be hurt, so don’t, you raging prick.)

5 January 1994 22:18 Göteborg, Sweden Octoshop I

I organized this workshop, devoted to applications of the division algebras to physics, in 1993. Martin Cederwall, from the university in Göteborg, arranged for us to have a room in which to daily meet, and other rooms in which to sleep. The workshop took place in part of January, 1994. It was my responsibility to see to it that each day’s discussions were fruitful. By the way, Sweden, in January, is fucking cold. I got sick on day 1. All of this is written elsewhere, in a place visited fewer times than this blog.

So, anyway, I was recently combing through some very old relics relating to my family history, and I encountered this note that I wrote diary fashion at the date and place listed above.

“Whether through this bloody cold, or nerves, sleep is slow to come. Corinne [Manogue] arrived today, and Martin finally opened a little, and this got things rolling along more smoothly. Corinne expressed herself already glad she had come. But my inability to sleep well has me concerned. I do not wish to lose myself. … I will be intensely happy when this is over – yet ironically I may actually get from this a spark to set my work aflame once more. At least my faith in its value is unshaken.”

By the end of 1994 my first book was published, thanks in part to Octoshop I. (There were other Octoshops, the third again organized by me. I believe there were still more, but I was not told about them.)

Given the choice, would I repeat my solitary, often ridiculed, labors? I cannot say no, for there never was, nor could there ever be, a choice. I was riding a dragon, and it is widely recognized that controlling such a beast is nigh on impossible; nor is it at all safe to leap off.