The Sum of all Errors

Human history primarily self-propagates as a function of its errors. The turbulent dissonance and dissembling confusion of our shared experience and memory generates the optimal transmission medium for change, innovation, evolution and – inevitably – also catastrophe.

I was watching a French TV series, Ganglands, just now. It is a fictional portrayal of the essential truth represented by the human instinct to constantly complicate our world. One disaster after another, like a string of dark pearls and pointless brutality.

I can remember thinking much the same about Sons of Anarchy. Everything they did just made their lives more complex, more painful and tied them to the tracks of their own impending doom. Any semblance of nobility or pride was swept away by the sheer horror and stupidity if it all.

Observing the bias in human history towards the endless reproduction monumental acts of emotionally-inflected stupidity and selfish brutality of which the recent (and ongoing) invasion of Ukraine is merely the most recent and salient example. It becomes difficult to perceive us all as anything other that hapless fools, swept along on the tide of our passions, our emotions and those simplest of mythological, ideological or historical narratives we compulsively tell ourselves in and as culture.

Breaking Bad’s Walter White was a tour de force of how to flush your life down the toilet in pursuit of a hubris-inflected power, wealth and influence. This was also quite probably the reason for its popularity. Representing not merely a masterfully produced possible world, it allows us to escape for a little while into a fictional catastrophe that provides just enough entertaining deception for us to almost forget that we are all engaged in an experience of unfolding tragedy that we only ever know as these stories of other people’s complex failures, that we only ever experience as the sum total and unfolding shambling tragedy of all our own brief and troubled lives.

I’d like to tell you something more hopeful but look at the mess we have made for and of ourselves. This human story is really not going very well.

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