“First rule of this world, baby. Don’t pay attention to anything you see in the news.”
I should state first that I am not agreeing with all of Kanye, Trump, or anyone’s opinion. This is an observation on the Kanye phenomenon and the discussion he is attempting to have. Yes, there are problems in policies. Yes, there are issues with the administration. Yes, there are problems with Kanye and Trump as human beings, just like there are problems with you and me. The point is that unless we have a more sophisticated and detached view of reality, our emotions, and especially our fears can cloud our collective judgment and negatively impact our future.
West emerged in a myopic age, when the number of bullets a man had taken seemed to represent the gauge of his possible success as a rapper. In the wake of the seemingly endless mythologizing surrounding the bullet-riddled corpses of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, West’s contemporary 50 Cent, despite debatable skills as an MC, has ridden thug appeal to its apotheosis in his success. West redefined boundaries, bringing millions of fans with him in the process. WestABut his valuable critique of hip hop’s contradictory cultural identity — his stance in opposition to homophobia, his antithug persona, his portraits of the women in his life as characters with more than a single dimension, and so on — was not only a critique. West managed via a complex strategy to at once deliver the contradictions in all their splendor. Rather than occupy a pulpit, he seemed to prefer the populist’s strategy: He walks among his fellow travelers in the game, including his fans.
Kanye is an enigmatic figure in The Memetic Tribes of Culture War 2.0. With his tremendous agency and uncanny abilities of manifestation in this reality, say what you will about Kanye, but the dude knows how to get shit done. He is somewhat that works outside of the rules, and plays outside the box. Ye is a Metagame Player.
“It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life . . . but some career goals don’t require college. For Kanye to make an album called College Dropout, it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you.” -Donda West, Kanye’s mother
Kanye’s Trump “Anomaly”
On October 11, 2018, Kanye visited the White House and opened a portal into his view of reality. “There’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universe and there’s alternate universe, so it’s very important for me to get Hoover out because, in an alternate universe, I am him.”
Now, it’s easy to dismiss Kanye as some crazy person that’s “ranting.” However, the multiverse concept has been hypothesized for ages and Kanye’s is simply articulating a concept that is also explored in The Egg, a short story by novelist Andy Weil, author of, among other works, the science fiction novel, The Martian. The Egg has sparked the collective imagination enough that you can find several live-action shorts visualizing it.
Kanye was hospitalized for a mental breakdown or temporary psychosis in 2016. He calls it a breakthrough:
“People will take something that’s enlightened, put it in a different context and then call it crazy… to try to diminish the impact and the value of what I’m actually saying.”
Kanye’s support for Trump has created massive amounts of confusion and even anger. Last year, he went on Jimmy Kimmel Live and talked about his hospitalization, his support for Trump, and Love over Fear:
“In this world that we live, there’s two main motivating forces, and I tweet about it all the time. It’s love or fear.”
He recently went on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman on Netflix to explain his feeling:
“We don’t have to feel the same way about things. This is my thing with Trump. We don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel, and we have the right to have a conversation, a dialogue, not a diatribe about it. Like, say, when I wear the hat, it’s not about politics. It’s not about policies. For me, once again: fear.”
Towards the end of the episode, Kanye states, “Well, definitely liberals bully people who are Trump supporters. It’s not just calm.” He continues later, “People, the thing is, in America, we have rights, and we have rights to open the conversation.”
Dave responds, “Well, nobody’s arguing that there shouldn’t be an ongoing conversation. I don’t think you meet any resistance there. Things need to be talked about.”
Eric Cochran is an Android developer who blew the whistle on Pinterest for censoring content. In his words:
“I wanted to do good in the world with my career in technology. I thought Pinterest could be different from its sibling tech giants. I hoped Pinterest might be a tech company that respected its users and was honest with them.
My illusions vanished when I saw Pinterest fall in line with the other Big Tech companies in its crackdown on content that went against the social agenda of my colleagues in Silicon Valley. I saw the normalization of censorship.”
Project Veritas is a non-profit organization “dedicated to investigating corruption, dishonesty, waste, and fraud in both public and private institutions.” It recently revealed that Google is attempting to manipulate the 2020 US Elections with their algorithms by studying “what went wrong” in 2016 and posted a video from a Google whistleblower on Youtube.
If we believe the premise that hackers from Russia were able to affect the elections in 2016, then what sort of influence could Google, Facebook, and social media have in 2020 with their algorithms? What are the ethical ramifications of this? 1984 is here, and Big Brother isn’t seated in the government. It is seated in Big Tech.
Doing the Right Thing
“Don’t be evil” was Google’s motto until 2015, when it restructured. The parent company, Alphabet took on the motto “Do the right thing” and kept the original motto at the end of subsidiary Google’s code of conduct:
“And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up!” -Google’s Code of Conduct
Back in my corporate days, when I was complaining to one of my business mentors about the corruption I observed in my direct bosses at the company, he said to me, “Doing the right thing when everyone around is doing the wrong thing is not good for you.” He then handed me a copy of Robert Greene’s book, The 48 Laws of Power. I read the book and thought to myself, this sounds like a handbook for sociopaths.
“Doing the right thing when everyone around is doing the wrong thing is not good for you.”
Ultimately, doing the right thing is about having the courage to speak your own truth and share your own experience.
It is important to understand — I don’t think Facebook and Google are evil. (More on “evil” later…) I use both on a daily basis. I believe that most people at the tech giants believe they have good intentions. However, they are misguided and unsophisticated in their actions and strategy.
The tech giants are challenged because most of their employees live inside a hostile and dysfunctional echo chamber. In July 2017, James Damore wrote an internal memo titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. This was his opening statement:
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem.
The call to “have an honest discussion” has resulted in deplatforming and censoring of conservative voices as well as voices critical to the tech giants. James Damore was fired by Google. Eric Cochran was fired by Pinterest. Youtube banned videos about Pinterest and Google by Project Veritas.
China has The Great Firewall. America has Silicon Valley.
Facebook and Google have a tremendous amount of responsibility because of the power of these tech giants and their algorithms have to affect belief systems and thus reality. On top of this, Facebook and Google are now using their algorithms to predict your next thought. Sound familiar?
The 2002 movie, Minority Report, in a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, Tom Cruise plays Chief John Anderton, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder. The film was based on the 1956 Philip K. Dick short story, The Minority Report, published in science fiction magazine Fantastic Universe.
In the fall of 1948 H. L. Mencken, then at the top of his unmatchable form (he had spoken at a meeting of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia only a little while before), suffered a stroke. He soon recovered his physical vigor, but writing was for him a thing of the past. Some months before his death, in going through some papers that he was putting in order for deposit in his beloved Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, his long-time secretary discovered these Notebooks.
H. L. Mencken’s Notebooks were also published in 1956, Minority Report. In the collection, H. L. Mencken states, “The urge to save Humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs seek: not the chance to serve.”
Now, more than ever, we need minority reports.
Messiahs and Antichrists
“The urge to save Humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs seek: no the chance to serve.” -H. L. Mencken
In the Letterman episode, Kanye states, “We as human beings have good and bad thoughts. There’s no such thing as the 100% good guy, and there’s no such thing as the 100% bad guy.”
Good Omens is an Amazon Prime series based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
A tale of the bungling of Armageddon features an angel, a demon, an eleven-year-old Antichrist, and a doom-saying witch. Good Omens explores the Bible as a narrative of humanity and reality in a hilarious journey through time. I recommend it as a binge to understand what is going on today in politics and life.
Good Omens captures the battle between Good and Evil profoundly. It really shows that it is really just a matter of context. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) recently went on Twitter with the following tweet:
This tweet perfect illustrates the point. This is the ultimate message of all spiritual practices leads to the same place.
There is no Good or Evil. There is only Duality.
The only fight worth fighting is the fight of Humanity against Good and Evil.
Heaven on Earth is the eternal struggle against the Apocalyptic Archetype. The Birth of Man started the Doomsday Clock to Armageddon… Our sun will eventually swallow our planet. The heat death of the Universe is inevitable. We cannot stop the Doomsday Clock, we can only accelerate or delay it.
This is our choice. This is our free will. This is the battle.
“The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“We’re at war. We’re at war with terrorism, racism, but most of all, we’re at war with ourselves.” -Kanye West
Make Good Art
In Kanye’s interview with Charlamagne Tha God, Kanye boldly states, “I am the greatest artist of all time.” He compares himself to Howard Hughes, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Steve Jobs. Perhaps this simply comes across as narcissism or Kanye’s massive ego, but I believe he is saying this, believing this, because he wants to change the world through his Art on that same scale. We should all be striving to be the greatest artist of all time.
Kanye West would be the first person to tell you he belongs on this list. The dude doesn’t believe in false modesty, and he shouldn’t. Kanye’s belief in himself and his incredible tenacity — he performed his first single with his jaw wired shut — got him to where he is today. And he fought for his place in the cultural pantheon with a purpose. In his debut album, over a decade ago, Kanye issued what amounted to a social critique and a call to arms (with a beat): “We rappers is role models: we rap, we don’t think.” But Kanye does think. Constantly. About everything. And he wants everybody else to do the same: to engage, question, push boundaries. Now that he’s a pop-culture juggernaut, he has the platform to achieve just that. He’s not afraid of being judged or ridiculed in the process. Kanye’s been playing the long game all along, and we’re only just beginning to see why.
Neil Gaiman addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 in the following video:
Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.
And… while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.
Humanity is at a crisis point. We are currently writing our collective story. For the most part, I don’t really like the stories being written, especially those on the news. In the end, Kanye is performing the best Kanye he can. He’s an artist that is passionately creating… living… breathing the message:
Love over Fear.
This is the greatest art one can create. Let us all Make Good Art… or better yet, Make the Greatest Art Ever.