Lee Camp: The Four Layers of Reality — And Why We’re Only Allowed to Talk About One

Yves here. While I appreciate that Lee Camp has written a post that takes a stab at some fundamental questions, an ambitious and difficult undertaking, I think this piece on media-constructed reality is more useful as what consultants call a forcing device than an analysis. But it’s still colorfully written and incisive.

I have three quibbles of very different sorts.

One is the primacy Camp gives to the news industry in shaping reality. That may be true for a cohort, particularly the politically engaged, but there are tons of people who listen only to talk radio, turn on the news to hear only the weather and sports, or to the extent that they do play an entire program, only half listen/watch. Needless to say, most also filter for content that caters to their priors.

Second is that what the news industry is and what is it supposed to do have evolved, in part due to efforts to professionalize news (undergraduate and graduate programs), changes in means of distribution (print, radio, and TV), and changing class composition of reporters. In the stone ages of my youth, even mid-sized cities like Dayton Ohio had a profitable morning and evening paper. Classified ads represented about half of total revenues, which not only supported local news-gathering but also provided a measure of independence (the papers were not dependent on upscale retail ads where the advertiser might take umbrage due to not liking their ads to appear near controversial stories or where store execs might be connected personally to some of the targets).

Over time, the class composition of newsrooms has changed. When news was entirely or predominantly print, the prototypical reporter came from a blue collar background. He’d have few inhibitions about going after socially/politically prominent individuals; in fact, stories about them would have the greatest impact. Television made news reporting glamorous and weeded out talking heads with low class accents. The thinned-out news industry has a far greater representation of Ivy or near-Ivy grads than in the 1960s.

A related development was a shift in priorities of the most prominent news organizations in the 1970s. With Liberty and Justice for Some, Glenn Greenwald starts with the pardon of Richard Nixon, which he regards as a watershed event in the elite protection racket. He also describes how prominent politicians and businessmen felt that the destabilizing 1960s had gone too far and that the media needed to play more of a role defending established institutions.

Third is alienation, but perhaps more along the lines of what the French call déraciné. How many regularly see the stars in all their splendor? The last time I had that sort of view was in minimally light polluted Santa Fe in the 1990s. The ancients and pre-moderns lived in awe of nature and were regularly confronted with their limited ability to withstand its rages. Our illusory control of our environment means we can push our relationship with it out of our heads for the most part, and with it the bigger questions of where we fit in in the larger scheme of things. In other words, our economic organization, the regimentation of our lives, our day to day success in not have to worry about hunting and harvests and blizzards and downpours blinkers us even more than the media does.

By Lee Camp, the host of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com. Originally published at ScheerPost

No matter which mainstream media segment you’re currently watching, I can promise you it’s not getting to the heart of any issue. By definition they only participate in surface level analysis. For example, there are three or four levels of reality we should be discussing when we talk about any United States election. And by “discussing,” I mean “screaming about,” and by “screaming about,” I mean “freaking out about.” So, let’s freak out – shall we?

Quick tangent – I got made fun of as a kid for “freaking out” or “spazzing out” all the time, but when you think about it — when you really think about it — shouldn’t we all be freaking out? When you look around and so few people are enjoying their lives and so many people are struggling or oppressed, and there are new and bizarre illnesses and viruses to worry about, and all of our so-called leaders are goddamn corrupt morons — shouldn’t we all be spazzing out? If you look at our current reality, it’s all spazz-worthy.

Anyway, we have three or four levels of reality that we should be discussing all the time because they’re incredibly important. But, generally speaking, American politicians and media don’t talk about the deeper layers. In fact, they only talk about the surface layer (because they’re corporate tools).

So, using this past presidential election as an example: Layer one was — Who’s going to win? Biden or Trump? That’s the surface layer. It was fair to talk about it and fair to debate it. But if we stop at that and don’t dig deeper, we don’t actually know anything about reality. It would be like licking the top crust of an apple pie and saying, “I get it. It tastes like crust. It’s dry and crumbly.” But in fact, you still have no idea what an apple pie is.

Now let’s move on to layer two (which is already a layer beyond what your mainstream corporate media will ever report on). Layer two is the slightly deeper understanding that  American oligarchs win each election no matter what. They win it in multiple ways — one is by making sure progressives, socialists, libertarians, anarchists, communists, etc. are purged from the process. The other way they dominate every election is with cold, hard cash. And the third — perhaps the most important way — is that our system simply does not pass anything through the government that isn’t beneficial to the business community, AKA Corporate America. A large 2014 Princeton study looked at 1,779 policy initiatives and found that the American public has zero impact on what gets passed through Congress. What we, the American people, want has no influence on American policy. The politicians tell you it does. They act like they care. But nothing you and I want ever gets done.

It’s like being in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. Our corporate overlords  gaslight us. They tell us we matter. They tell us they love us. They tell us they’ll change. But they never do. They just sit there in their pajamas eating ice cream out of the box with their feet on the coffee table — putting coconut sprinkles into the ice cream container even though they know you don’t like the coconut sprinkles because they’re tasteless and two days later when you find three in your mouth you’ll think it’s hair or scabs or something! Totally ruins the entire ice cream experience. They know that and they don’t care! (But that’s my life.)

At the end of the day we, the people, get nothing unless it aligns with business interests. Look at Obamacare for example — America wanted healthcare, but in order to get the Affordable Care Act passed, the ruling elite made sure it was a giant giveaway to the health insurance industry.

Wow. Sounds like layer two is kind of important. But nope, the mainstream media will never mention it. They pretend it’s not happening.

Layer three: Capitalism and environmental collapse. Under our current economic system, the most powerful people (the corporatocracy) will eventually own everything. It’s inevitable. The gravity of capitalism pulls everything towards corporate hegemony. Every time. In every way. You can sometimes score roadblocks that slow them down, but that’s all it does — slow them down. As they take control, the environment — the NATURAL WORLD — will be destroyed.Take for example Monsanto Roundup herbicide. It’s causing cancer; it’s killing people. And it (along with other herbicides and pesticides) is also killing the bees and the insects, and unfortunately the natural world needs those little fuckers. A 2019 global scientific review warned that the collapse in insect population could be catastrophic to ecosystems. You might love that there aren’t many gnats around, but nature is screwed without them. (“Screwed” is a technical term.) And as all the bees disappear and the insects fade into oblivion, we will fade away with them. (Maybe not next week, but it might not be as long as you think.)

So, how could this happen? Why hasn’t Monsanto, now owned by the pharmaceutical company Bayer, been stopped? Well, they’re too fucking powerful, for one. They own the market; they own the officials; they own the regulators; at times they even own the science.

So that’s what talking about level three looks like. It’s talking about the economic system and its global impact. And yet again, the corporate media will pretty much never have that discussion. Level three is more off-limits for cable news anchors than it is for female anchors to grow out their armpit hair. …And yes, I know that’s a reference to stereotypical old-school gender norms, but I’m not endorsing it. I’m making the point that the odds of seeing one of those reporters or anchors really dig into the inherent flaws of our capitalist system is about as likely as seeing the anchor of the 6pm hour have a giant Krusty The Clown head of hair bursting forth from under her arms. (Again, not criticizing. In fact, I’d love to see that.)

Level four — Now we really get deep. Level four is the true analysis of our reality. And there are a lot of different topics in level four. Things like, “What really is money?” or “What the fuck are nation states? Why is everything we do somehow connected to national interests? What does it matter if I was born on this side of a line and you were born on that side of a line? Who even drew those dumb lines?” Or level four could be something like, “Why do we live the way we do — in single-family houses or apartments? We live inside seclusion boxes, hardly interacting with our fellow humans except at our wage slavery jobs where we go, ‘Hey Jim. At least it’s hump day’ or some dumb crap like that. What the hell is this existence?”

That’s level four. It’s getting pretty deep into the philosophical realm. But so why don’t our media think the most basic questions of our existence are important at all? They don’t think it makes sense to occasionally talk about level four? I’m not saying make it the beginning of every newscast — “Hello Nation, it’s 6pm and remember you’re a victim of wage slavery, forced to live in a seclusion box.” I’m not saying that. But can’t the deepest echelons of our reality ever come up in the mainstream narrative? Or do we have to go buy some hidden book in the basement of a bookstore run by a guy with food stuck in his mustache and one glass eye? Is that the only place we can learn about our reality?

Anyway, those are four layers of our reality that are pretty important to our daily lives. There are more — such as the fact we’re made up of energy waves or that no one even knows whatmakes up 96% of the universe and other crazy stuff like that — but we’ll stop at four for now. So there are four crucial levels of our reality and your media, your teachers, your leaders, most of your information sources almost never get past level one! That’s like going to school from age three to 18 and they never teach you about anything other than how to color inside the lines with the crayons.

We are left at level one because it serves as a beautiful distraction. Never talk about the deeper economic system. Never talk about how nations are used to divide us. Never talk about how corporations own our society. Media only reports surface level reality — Who will win the next presidential election or who will win the race for governor or which billionaire took a trip to space yesterday, etc.

Dig deeper. If you don’t do it for your own curiosity, do it because THEY don’t want you to.

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  1. Rudy Taylor

    Great read. Helped me personally understand why I have been reliving my “spazzed out” youth lately and I feel it gives me a focus to be more centered and help all the people around me relieve a bit of the horrible suffering they are living through. Thanks.

  2. cocomaan

    I think Camp is right about reality being shrouded (Plato’s Cave anyone?) but Yves’s criticism is also on point:

    One is the primacy Camp gives to the news industry in shaping reality. That may be true for a cohort, particularly the politically engaged,

    CNN has 650,000 viewers a day. Fox News, which has the largest audience, only has 1.2m viewers a day. Almost nobody is watching these networks. NYT, the paper of record, has around 7.5 million subscribers. A drop in the bucket.

    There’s a feedback loop between politics and news, though, which fuels how debates are shaped. Getting in between that interplay is dangerous and puts you in the position of being destroyed by both. Thats why most people stay out of it.

    1. Soredemos

      And yet the ‘normies’ who only watch mainstream TV news (and don’t forget the humble network evening shows, which average many times the viewers that the cable channels do) have far more political impact than any number of permanently online people. The Sanders ‘movement’ disintegrated after being crushed by the mainstream. Don’t look to the internet to be a vehicle for meaningful political action.

        1. Anon

          Well… in terms of knowledge, as that relates to power: It flows markedly in one direction on the internet. So one could see it as a vehicle for domination; if not by your enemies, then certainly your friends.

  3. Helena

    This American Life recently had a podcast about a ‘spazzed out’ guy and his family. It’s important, this shows, not to be abusive as well as spazzed out. How do you get people personally invested who are at the other end of ‘spazzed out?’

    Also, this ‘metaverse’ being capitalised–next step to being a brain in a jar, like that Star Trek, ‘The Gamesters of Triskelion?’

    1. Acacia

      Zuckberg, Bezos, and Musk are the brains under glass, and the rest of us mopes will be the thralls.

  4. farmboy

    Naked Capitalism very much fulfills all four layers. We’ve gotten nearly 3/4 inch of rain the last 36 hours, nearly a drought buster in the desert. hanging out in 3 and 4 makes me lucky, healing going on daily. Thank you

  5. James E Keenan

    Yves wrote:

    I think this piece on media-constructed reality is more useful as what consultants call a forcing device than an analysis.

    I don’t understand this use of forcing device and couldn’t locate anything suitable via search engine. Can you elaborate?

    1. YankeeFrank

      I think a “forcing device” is something that forces or frames discussion rather than providing a conclusion or complete analysis.

    2. Mel

      Yeah, I would like to know what “forcing device” means. It’s not summarized in Wikipedia.
      And I distrust level 4. That’s philosophy; it’s been going on for 3000 or so years, and has only led to its going on some more. If you can tempt people into those weeds, they might never come out. Look at comment threads that vanish into questions of deep meaning, never to return.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        philosophy has only lost it’s utility inasmuch as we, in general, have forgotten how to do it.
        friend of mine is bipolar, self-medicating and crazy ADD…smart guy, but with a crazier life than even i’ve had.
        comes out here because i tolerate his almost Dean Moriarty rapid fire rambling…and because i really listen to him, and offer feedback.
        “came out” that he needed some help dealing with the world…
        so i gave him a copy of Marcus Aurelius…(as i’ve said, i keep a boxful of that book, and have given it away more than any other)
        so he comes back out here for another decompression session(!), and is almost tweaking with revelation,lol. read through it twice in a row, and hungers for more(gave him Dogen last weekend)
        I’ve been working with him on that for 3 months, now…and both he and his wife insist that he’s improved…no longer reacting to the myriad and sundry provocations of daily life in a tiny, isolated town…but stopping and thinking about it, and attempting to be a Rocky Promontory.
        That’s what Philosophy, applied, can do.
        we wouldn’t be in near as much of a mess if basic, intro-philosophy were begun around 1st grade.(see: my boys, 15&19, who began Socratic Dialog as soon as they could speak)
        (see also Boethius, “the Consolation of Philosophy”)

        as for the more general question, from Mr Camp…on the one hand, it’s the Busyness…and growing and spreading Precarity…no time or bandwidth to tackle all these large and deep things.
        then there’s the Siloing…those in Foxland are frelling Certain that they have it figured out…and i reckon this is a deliberate thing, based on the hostile takeover of evangelical/charismatic/fundamentalist chistianity over the last century…Machine learned a lot from that.
        but the biggest impediment to a more widespread seeking after the truth of our world is that the problems are so dern huge.
        when i get started on things like ag policy…even with my rancher/farmer neighbors…they only come along for a while…but then they get overwhelmed(when i get rolling, i can be like a firehose)…where do you begin to tackle all of this?
        and so much of my information directly contradicts what they’ve been hearing from trade rags, extension agents, chemsalesmen and so on for decades…to say nothing of Fox, et alia.
        it’s taken 20+ years for the feedstore guys to take my sermons seriously(herbicidal manure, etc)…but even then, just the ag policy facet of our shared reality is too large and complex to hold in the ordinary forebrain.
        it takes real mental work to learn all that…and the size and hypercomplexity looks pretty daunting to very busy and harried people.

        1. flora

          Great comment. One thing the MSM does, imo, is push the idea every problem has a simple answer (what ever answer they’re pushing at the behest of their owners). People, readers, viewers sure aren’t guided to think about complexities in problems. I think it’s called “dumbing down” the audience. Thing is, most audiences aren’t that dumb, and the MSM has been losing readers/viewers for some time now. But, as you say, too much good info delivered all at once fire-hose style can overwhelm anyone.

          Completely aside: here’s a short clip from Joe Rogan interviewing a psychologist about the physical dimension of ADD. Sounds like your friend reading the stoics philosophy serves equally as well to ground himself as the psychologist’s exercise treatment would do. The Rocky Promontory. Maybe we need more bits of philosophy and critical thinking included in k-12 school lessons – even simple things like AEsop’s fables’ adages included in passing in various classes. idk.


      2. jr

        This is patently incorrect, as you are engaging in philosophy when you criticize the utility of philosophy. As to what that utility is or is not, a quick look around will tell you how important it’s presence and absence really is. Marketing, advertising, propaganda from any actor: all of these are assaults on critical thinking, an ability which is close to the literal beating heart of philosophy. In it’s purest form, philosophy captures the core of human consciousness, namely that one “is” and one is aware that one “is”. Everything else in human society flows through that relationship. Where that reflective experience ultimately comes from is another matter entirely.

        Next, so what if some comments “vanish” into deep meaning. Where are they supposed to go in a finite forum with mods who are already working their tails off? And speak for yourself. The foundational ideas I encounter here are added to my existing complex of them and it’s how I interpret the world. Don’t you?

        I believe our esteemed hostess has stated that one of the goals of this site is to encourage critical thinking. Are you only here for the information? Then how do you evaluate it? What is your standard? It’s not science, before you go there, because science needs something to evaluate both it’s applied and abstract conceptions. The numbers aren’t enough. You cannot measure a ruler with a ruler, you need a standard which is not a ruler but the ruler of rulers. All of this is ultimately a function of your reflective capabilities, which is again the ur-philosophy.

        Unless you’re one of those who don’t believe in consciousness. Then, we have nothing to discuss. And FYI that’s a double entendre. ;)

        Good to see you, Amfortas!

  6. Helena

    I have gotten a sense that these people, whoever the heck they are, have taken on the self-deception that they are coders writing the world program they want and ‘debugging’ as they go along, always making sure they know they are outside the program, raking in the money from the sale. Like Microsoft got the reputation of having its geeky users debug for it after MS raked in their money and cornered the market. Gee, come to think of it, Bill Gates seems to right there in the thick of it. To a software guy, everything looks like it can be code.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘One is the primacy Camp gives to the news industry in shaping reality. That may be true for a cohort, particularly the politically engaged, but there are tons of people who listen only to talk radio, turn on the news to hear only the weather and sports, or to the extent that they do play an entire program, only half listen/watch. Needless to say, most also filter for content that caters to their priors.’

    There is another factor I think at work here. A lot of us people here are probably newshounds who want to know what is really going on in the world. So we are part of that cohort that Lee Camp talks about. But then there is a secondary effect in this cohort telling other people about what they find who don’t regularly follow the news. An example may be Amfortas who keeps on top of everything and when he goes down to the local feed store, gets people thinking when he lets a few facts slip out. So it is like an overlapping circle of a Venn diagram but one that is hard to measure of course.

  8. JE

    The question in my mind is could we have this societal complexity and technology if we engaged with reality on all these levels? I know that my interaction with such thought has me “opting out” of as much of the current society as practical. How would it look if everyone saw through these layers? Are we seeing the beginnings of that vision in the growing revolt of workers that have traditionally been oppressed to do society’s dirty work? Or will the frame get shifted slightly with a few more baubles for the masses and then back on track, onward to oblivion!? I don’t rightly know but i certainly value this venue for fostering such discussions.

  9. Steve Ruis

    And . . . supporting the corporatocracy is a vast web of economic bullshit. (Read Econned If you don’t believe me.) For example, our Corporate Overlords keep extolling the virtues of free markets when they absolute hate such things. Actual free markets would create a level playing field and those are for chumps. Our Overlords want markets they can manipulate and then dominate, then call them “free.”

    The term “unearned income” is no longer in use in economics because the Overlords felt that it hurt their feelings and was bad PR.

    What makes Naked Capitalism so valuable is because it is capable of “calling bullshit” so effectively. And we need more of that.

  10. Daniel LaRusso

    We love superficiality … I’ve seen my sisters Tinder account.

    Although true, I think those questions and topics he mentions are just too “heavy” for most people. We’re in a perfect loop, people working too hard and too long to want to engage their brains, so distract themselves from their pain with a screen. The screen just reinforces the superficiality … bite size info in tweets, swiping based on looks etc.

    1. Peter in Seattle

      Panem et circenses
      → cheap snacks and sports
      → cheap snacks and TV
      → cheap snacks and video games

  11. Jade Bones

    Thought at first this might be along the lines of Donald Hoffman’s perceptual vs quantum/foundational realities, an evolutionary necessity as it were.
    Along those lines, perhaps it is a survival mechanism of sorts to ‘believe’ at level one in order for one to stay sane or socially functional.
    And too, what of the ramping up of the left-right division vs the class division ‘reality’, albeit the whole essay was pointing to the latter, divide and control…

  12. wol

    Thanks so much for this, and NC. I’m not a Buddhist and I cope by daily Zen meditation. It doesn’t make me happier but gives me access to levels.

  13. lance ringquist

    camp has always sounded like a open borders type. that type is about as bad as any free trader is.
    my father in law and parents, all now deceased, came out of the great depression. they read our local papers every day, it was a religion. twice daily in fact.
    it was the minneapolis star tribune, its was called the red star at one time.
    then in the 1990’s in the business section, along came expert economists and columnists extolling the virtues of free trade and comparative advantage.
    i used to hear from my parents and father in law, who writes this stuff, what idiots.
    it over flowed into the editorial section, with the usual clap trap about do not worry about the mounting job losses, manufacturing is low end, we will replace those jobs with high end economy, we will retrain you, let the chinese toil at low paid manufacturing.
    never mind that we made manufacturing pay.
    typical free trader white supremacy crap. ignoring the fact that china had no comparative advantage at the time, only human and environmental degradation. that was pointed out repeatedly in letters to the editors.
    so much for comparative advantage, they just glossed over it with the usual distractions and excuses and absurdities.
    by the late 1990’s i knew no one that got the papers. it got so bad that the papers never came and took their tubes back on the mail boxes.
    today they are so crumbled or sun bleached, that you cannot tell what the original color was.
    today in our local super markets they try to give the papers away, hardly any takers. i tell their reps, do you still have religious free trade nuts on the editorial page and the business section.
    they look at me cross eyed. i tell them you lost credibility in the 1990’s.
    so once 2008 hit, all of a sudden football, beer and sex were no longer important, and down went t.v. news.
    the legacy media could not get al gore elected, when they are razor thin, i call them neo-liberal democrat wins, to easy to steal.
    they could not get kerry nor hillary in 2004 and 2008 elected. obama lied his way in, and they could not get hillary elected in 2016, and nafta joe biden won one of those razor thin wins. almost to close to call.
    the legacy media is kaput!

  14. Susan the other

    Comedy resides at the center of existential crisis. That’s why it’s funny. That’s why humans laugh. I certainly would never want to be without a good laugh. It’s a language we all speak. So that’s very interesting. And we can always count on Lee Camp to clock us with stuff like this. Our situation could be worse – we could discover all the secrets of the universe and still not know anything. Speaking of nation states, I wish he had tackled sovereignty. Individual sovereignty is not worth much, clearly human rights are ignored most of the time. But cooperation organizes us emotionally into a force of nature. I always get a memory flash of that group of Chimpanzees who decide to go kill the other group who are encroaching on their territory. Cooperation is a crazy thing and we really don’t understand that one. It’s what makes fish school; birds flock; deer herd. For all we know it’s what makes water pool and run. It could be gravity for all we know. Considering all that we don’t know we are probably doing OK, surviving on this superficial level at all. But, I’d submit it is because we are all profoundly connected by forces we do not understand.

  15. truly

    It seems that we are at peak “getting info from comedians”. I find Lee, Jimmy, and Joe to be about as good of purveyors of useful information as I do almost anyone in MSM. Joe gives Sanjay 3 hours to expand on any thoughts, CNN gives him 3-5 minute soundbites. Lee, Jimmy and Joe all talk about systemic or “level 4” issues.
    George Carlin also did a masterful job with level 4.
    Honestly Jimmy has shared more fact based, scientific based info about Covid than just about any other media person that I know. (John Campbell aside).
    Lees end of the year wrap up- most censored stories of the year, is a don’t miss.

  16. Telee

    Recently the NYT presented a long article in the op-ed section on the changing positions of Senator Sinema and pondered the possibility that she may switch parties. The obvious omission was that there was no mention of corporate money in politics as if that corruption doesn’t exist.

  17. Dave in Austin

    “Forcing device”. Yves through it out offhandedly because it is common and useful in term her NYC world, where the search for predictive truth is what financial hunter-gatherers do. I was flabbergasted to find out it isn’t in Wikipedia or even find-able in Google

    A forcing device looks at any group’s agreed-on understanding, takes it apart, analyses it, points out the logical discrepancies and possible throws out a bunch of “what if” possibilities. In foreign affairs the best US examples is George Kennan’s 1945-6 “Long Telegram” from Moscow. George used to get up early, put on old clothing, stand in the bread lines… and listen. His conclusion was simple, obvious and unpalatable: the Russian army controlled eastern Europe; after two invasions from the west in 30 years Stalin wouldn’t give it up; the US had no intention of fighting a war over this issue. Therefore, we are in it for the long haul. Get used to it.

    In science Einstein did it a couple of times by simply stating the obvious: “There are certain discrepancies in Maxwells equations…” When you substituted in Maxwell’s equations (which were each observably correct representations of physical reality) you got nonsense, so everyone looked away and went about their business. Einstein had the courage to believe that the nonsense must be true. Why on God’s green earth were Energy and Mass convertible into each other in a ratio defined by a constant- the speed of light? We still don’t know why… but here we are.

    Everything Greta Thumberg says is a forcing device.

    I personally think this article is schematic, reductive and simplistic. But the question he is asking is the right one. The explosion of human life in the last 2,000 years has meant that a “reasonable” standard of living can be maintained only by taking shortcuts which have seriously negative long-term consequences. The Third World justifiably wants to live like the First World, but there isn’t close to enough “stuff” to allow it to happen with our present technology. And huge cities are impossible to live in and are also where most humans will live, marinated in soothing propaganda, never seeing more that a few dozen stars and pretending to believe the absurd (“Your phone call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and an operator will be with you shortly. Press “2” for more options”).

    So to keep it going we cobble together some jury-rigs (fertilizers, pesticides, fossil fuels) and ignore the ethical questions raised (Do we owe the 8 children of a Third World family four times as much resources as we owe our own two children? How do I justify getting into a 450 MPH aluminum tube, burning 160 gallons of AvGas and pumping a huge load of CO-2 into the upper atmosphere just so I can visit my sick brother in Rhode Island?).

    The forcing devise is a concept we all need to use more often.

  18. jr

    Great article by Camp. I’m not a fan of his show so much, aesthetic differences, but I have a lot of respect for him and his team. I agree that this is a useful mapping out of reality although no map ever fully captures the territory.

    One quibble:

    “Anyway, those are four layers of our reality that are pretty important to our daily lives. There are more — such as the fact we’re made up of energy waves or that no one even knows whatmakes up 96% of the universe and other crazy stuff like that — but we’ll stop at four for now.”

    The “fact” that we are made up of energy waves is merely a product of the current scientific mode of thinking. That will change, not only in the immediate term but in the long term. They will be governed by the philosophical ideas of the day, the metaphysical system of physicalism is en vogue these days.

    So in fact philosophy is the fifth level in his schema, science being the fourth. For more details, see my response to mel’s “forcemeat device” style comment. Thanks to NC as always for the fascinating discussion.

    1. anon y'mouse

      thanks for that.

      once got into a pointless (all arguments are pointless) argument with someone about “science” being “real”.

      the dude could not hack the idea that what we know of science is merely a convention, and one we’ve set up and set the limits of because of our limitations of understanding. just because you’re measuring something and seeing something that we’ve agreed to conceptualize as an “electron” means what about the “real” metaphysics of existence? it’s a useful convention for our purposes right now, and that is all.

      he couldn’t face that this could all be blown away a hundred years from now by a new, currently unthought-of paradigm. he kept insisting that “electrons” “exist”. ok, maybe they do but are we sure? my bet is, one day we will find our understandings as backwards as humours of the blood, miasmas, “essences”, and so forth.

  19. Sue inSoCal

    I profess a soft spot for Lee Camp. Part of it is that things are so nuts now, I appreciate his humor. Great commentary all around; I like Susan the Other’s comment, quite true. I don’t have much to add, except thanks for this, and yep, Yves, I remember those days of two, count em, two papers a day. For mere pennies. Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette iirc, and Sacramento Bee/Sacramento Union/Seattle Post Intelligencer/Seattle Times. And then there was…one. Maybe from your favorite private equity company…or trillionaire.
    (I’m still giggling about the “forcemeat” device? Are we talking meatballs?)

  20. David in Santa Cruz

    Déraciné — such a lovely concept. To be uprooted from nature — and from our nature.

    A few years back, I attended a talk by a famous Belgian Formula 1 driver who later in life became a passioné of the Paris-Dakar rally; he eventually divorced his European wife and married the most lovely Burundian lady. He told the audience, “I do not want to talk about motor racing. You must all go to a place where you can see the stars from horizon to horizon. Only then can you be truly human.”

    Another lovely concept: Kill Your Television. In 1975, at the ripe old age of 18, I did just that. I do stream movies these days — and I have to say that the new Dune was pretty good (for not being a book).

  21. Clark Landwehr

    The daily press is the evil principle of the modern world, and time will only serve to disclose this fact with greater and greater clearness. The capacity of the newspaper for degeneration is sophistically without limit, since it can always sink lower and lower in its choice of readers. At last it will stir up all those dregs of humanity which no state or government can control.
    Soren Kierkegaard

  22. Ignacio

    Maybe it is not exactly the media but the political class and the corporate class what is not generating the layers of news that could be reported by the media. Best example is Biden’s ‘nothing will fundamentally change’ which means there won’t be news to report about except for the usual gossip and the numbers of daily casualties, accidents and catastrophes.

  23. Some Guy in Shanghai

    This puts into words something that I have tried to express before.

    I’d like to point out that when you start to talk about levels 2, 3 and 4, people refer you back to level 1 and explain that it’s the most immediately important thing we must worry about. It’s maddening

    1. Anon

      Indeed. Perhaps the most frustrating manifestation of this is when you encounter technically capable minds that, upon being refuted, default to ‘but that’s politics’ as if it were a force of nature, acts of God. In one breath, they dismiss how that stance undermines both our agencies, and then insist you exercise yours at the next election (on their now contrived pony).

      How one can be both cynical and charming, is either a detestable or an enviable ability.

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