Thursday, June 15, 2006

An Infuriating Thought Experiment on the War for Hearts and Minds

For the first two thirds of the last century, the dominant American notion of intelligence, promoted by Binet, Terman, Wechsler, Thorndike, and Spearman, that there is a "single entity" that can be called "intelligence," was seriously challenged only once, by Thurstone, who claimed there were seven "primary mental abilities"—verbal comprehension, verbal fluency, number, spatial visualization, inductive reasoning, memory, and perceptual speed. Then, in 1967, Guilford suddenly announced 120 forms of intelligence, then 150. In 1971 Cattell claimed conventional IQ tests revealed only "crystallized intelligence," which was a culture-bound construct underlain by "fluid intelligence." Theorists incredulous of IQ results showing that American Blacks score lower than Whites on IQ tests have made tests on which Whites score lower than Blacks. Others claimed conventional IQ tests showed only "convergent intelligence," which they supposed to be less significant than "divergent intelligence," something more indicative of creativity. Some now claim that "emotional intelligence" is more important to success in living than IQ. In the early 1970's, MENSA, an organization for which membership had originally been restricted to people with IQ scores in the top 2% of the population, retested its members with crystallized and fluid intelligence tests, and found that the majority who passed one failed the other. This created a crisis for MENSA and for intelligence testers, so for some time test after test was invented.

My own favorite pithy critique of IQ is Michio Kaku's: he asserted that IQ tests merely measure "White male clerical skills." Liam Hudson argued on sociological evidence that modern intelligence tests has been created by a cult of psychological testers who had been told upon university entrance that they had high IQ's and so equated whatever they happened to do best with intelligence itself. Stephen Jay Gould made two connected arguments. His historical argument is that IQ tests developed because the French government was persuaded that phrenology and skull size were inadequate methods for tracking students, but that there was no principle behind the selection of the 18 IQ subtests. His mathematical argument, a variant of Thurstone's challenge to the factor analysis Spearman used to prove a single entity exists, is that the single entity theory is an inherently unprovable assumption for analyzing data that can equally well be analyzed on the assumption that there are any number of such entities. Such criticisms have opened the door to a wide variety of alternative tests.

The most prominent liberal advocate of new ways to assess intelligence is Howard Gardner. In 1983 he argued, like Thurstone, that there are seven forms of intelligence, but gave a new list: linguistic, logico-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. This new list has been adopted by advocates of special treatment for gifted children. The 1970's debates began to die down intellectually because Gardner had offered a way to avoid the need to decide on any single crucial number.

The timing of the intelligence debates may be socially and politically significant. 1967 was the peak of the political success of the Civil Rights Movement, which began to lose hope with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in April, 1968. 1971 was the last year the Supreme Court strengthened precedents favoring expansion of egalitarian principles, San Antonio v Rodriguez marking the beginning of the backlash that gained its clear racial color in Bakke in 1978. Reagan's structural adjustment policies, supporting the right of corporations to terminate employees without cause, and therefore to hire and fire on the basis of how well an employee "fit the corporate image," caused massive unemployment in 1981-2. So by 1983, US citizens knew that hopes for substantial social reform were dead and that careers were at stake in non-conformist debates about social issues. Arguments leading to the pronouncement of seven forms of intelligence thus took place during the years that hopes for social reform was fighting for their life, and by 1983 the educational interests of gifted children and Blacks were politically opposed, the first being permissible, the second not, though an isolated rear guard action of reform continued in Black areas of large American cities.

In 1994 the single entity theory returned with a vengeance in Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve. The Republican form of multinational dominance had been growing steadily for fourteen years, so the argument that Blacks were genetically inferior to Whites in intelligence was a welcome addition to the Republican arsenal of rationales for cutting welfare as a waste of money. In the furor, the search for multiple intelligences was eclipsed: the public issue became not whether or not the single entity theory was true, but whether intelligence was genetic. The US debate ground its gears and shifted back to the issues thought relevant in the 1920's, when social change was also thought impossible. Domestically, Gardner's position became relegated to issues of gifted children. But it grows internationally. Internationally it is useful, for it shows no hint of the flagrant racism that, since the 1950's, has limited the international intellectual respectability of the US. American racism is to be packaged in euphemisms and marked "for domestic consumption only." Gardner's doctrine is good for the New World Order.

Gardner's position reveals some of the ideological workings of "social science." Gardner has neglected many abilities that can purport to be forms of intelligence, and his psychological and social analyses suffer as a result. Imagining some of them puts his position in perspective.

Let us say that "HIQ" purports to measure "hallucinatory intelligence." The ability to create images so vivid that the perceiver finds them at least as impressive as sensory perception is clearly a powerful form of mental activity. David Hume, the founder of British Empiricism, was an HIQ moron who asserted that "external" sense perception was vivid whereas "internal" ideas were pale and fleeting. The oppression of HIQ genius that originated in empiricism has spread throughout the Western world. When the HIQ's of the population are measured, we find that most of the scorers at the high end of the bell curve are confined to mental institutions, while among HIQ retardates we find accountants, who are given substantial responsibilities. That institutions isolate HIQ geniuses from the rest of society, depriving society of their benefits, while promoting HIQ idiots, shows that American society is very sick. It has rejected the very people who have been thought among the most important creators and founders of other cultures and cultural movements, such as Gautama Siddhartha, Martin Luther, Ezekial, Crazy Horse, William Blake, Vivekenanda, and Jesus of Nazareth. HIQ MENSA argues that empiricism is a hypocritical epistemology because its proponents, openly confessing that their ideas have no vigor, must lack any important reason to believe in their truth. HIQ MENSA has petitioned ECOSOC under the Freedom of Thought provisions of Human Rights Covenants, charging that the American Psychiatric Association has abused administrative legal procedure in order to allow people without ideas to incarcerate those who have them. HIQ MENSA presents massive evidence of collusion between the sister organizations of the APA and the legal systems of the G8 countries to use arbitrary rules to suppress ideation in order to replace it with mass media imagery. The petition includes unimpeachable allegations falling under the Convention against Torture, showing that its members are tortured with electric shock, mutilation misleadingly called "lobotomies," and mind-damaging drugs such as insulin and Thorazine. ECOSOC, of course, is prevented by rules of sovereignty from taking any action.

HSQ is the "horse sense quotient." Like the IQ test, the HSQ "Dolittle test" has verbal and operational subscores, but is more difficult to administer. Among the verbal tasks are the paraphrase of wolf howls, cat and mockingbird vocalizations, moose calls, and lobster squeaks. Among the operational tasks are tracking kangaroos through heavy brush, teaching the common octopus to unscrew the lids of Skippy peanutbutter jars containing shrimp, hypnotizing poison dart frogs, persuading Doberman pinschers to behave like lapdogs, catching lionfish bare-handed, and extracting honeycomb from African honeybee hives. The differences in scores are more extreme than on any other test. The Inuit, the Hourani, the Bantu, Zen monks, and animal trainers have obtained scores over 250. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson scored below 10. The American population as a whole averages 120 in the 5-12 age group but only 55 in the 35-50 age group. HSQ theorists argue that ecological and environmental collapse ultimately are caused by the extreme cultural bias against HSQ. Finding only 11% of the population watches the Animal Channel more than one hour a week, HSQ devotees have lobbied to have Lassie and Rin Tin Tin refilmed in order to build popular support for biodiversity, but have had no success. HSQ geniuses now find themselves isolated even in the Environmental Movement, and since 1981 their suicide rate has gone up by 43%.

RQ is the "ruminative quotient," which has no correlation with IQ. Even-toed ungulates and Soren Kierkegaard were found to have equally high scores. Upper caste Indians score higher in RQ than any other cultural group, and theorists conjecture that the actual function of the deification of cows has been to maintain high RQ scores in Indian society. Americans are RQ sub-normals, scoring far below Europeans and the Japanese. RQ has some association with creativity and a high correlation with tolerance of boredom. In generational studies from 1945 to 2000, researchers found a reciprocal relationship between television viewing and RQ, and that RQ declined by 62% in the American population during that time. RQ theorists have found that waste, compulsive consumption, and environmental deterioration are also inversely correlated with RQ. RQ theorists called into multinational treaty negotiations have argued on behalf of India that environmental law should not be applied to India unless the American government takes measures in national educational policy to raise the average American RQ. The Indian government points to the disgraceful treatment to which the US government subjected Osho, an RQ genius, and asserts that until America learns respect for RQ, negotiations on a wide range of environmental and trade issues are pointless.

The Japanese language has the concept of "amai," which means the ability of a dependent to control the actions of the person depended upon. American testers, typically unsentimental toward the Japanese conception, purport to have measured amai by the SUQ, the "suck-up quotient." Some young SUQ geniuses, like Shirley Temple, Micky Rooney, and Horatio Alger, have had success in later life, while some SUQ retardates, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bob Dylan, Thomas Edison, and Howard Hughes, have been equally successful. SUQ therefore is a scale orthogonal to the emotional intelligence scale. American psychiatry, in its systematic prejudice against dependency, is bigotted against SUQ geniuses, yet is not entirely supportive of SUQ morons, who are sometimes regarded as anti-social. The American Psychological Association's official position favors SUQ imbecility, but close textual analysis reveals a preference for SUQ mediocrity.

MQ is the manipulation quotient. In the psychiatric literature, MQ geniuses are frequently designated as psychopaths and high scorers as sociopaths, but in the political science literature, their genius is recognized without reservation. MQ morons, like Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assissi, achieve recognition only in currently unusual institutional contexts, so there is now a high correlation between MQ, corporate power, financial success, and a moderate correlation with fame. MQ is popularly mistaken for HQ, discussed below, but in fact is more highly correlated with SUQ. While the HQ genius acts out fantasies, the MQ genius is tactical. High MQ targets people and manipulates them to reach particular goals. The SUQ genius does not seek dominance, but support, and complies to achieve it. The MQ genius complies tacticly in order to misdirect and subvert the plans of others, then asserts dominance. The MQ genius regards social life as a set of chess games in which the opponents do not fully understand the rules, and, like a blindfolded chess master, can play a number of opponents at once. The covert connection between SUQ and MQ is that the MQ genius is actually just as dependent as the SUQ genius, but is dependent on a shifting configuration of opponents rather than on any one of them. The MQ genius never sincerely admits dependency, whereas the SUQ genius makes dependency so conspicuous that the designated caretaker risks complete social ostracism if he does not give in.

Addictive capacity is measured by the ACQ. Advocates of globalization regard ACQ as the form of intelligence most needed to establish a stable consumer market. ACQ geniuses have a special combination of multiple intelligences that allows them simultaneously to serve the urgent needs of the tobacco, pharmaceutical, alcohol, gambling, restaurant, and prostitution industries, as well as advancing the sales of new cars, the growth of administrative power, speculation on the futures market, and corporate take-overs. Mulinationals therefore regard ACQ as essential to expansion of GNP, and continually lobby the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO to promote educational programs around the world to develop ACQ in the general population.

IdQ measures the Ideological Quotient. IdQ idiots, like Atticus, Diogenes, and Einstein, don't have a clue what say if they gain power. IdQ geniuses like Adolph Hitler, Kim Il Sung, Papa Doc, Rupert Murdoch, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, like draftsmen, exhibit a form of intelligence inversely correlated with analytical abilities. Conventional IQ tests were heavily biased against them, and so were biased against one of greatest needs of the contemporary state, the need to train people to ignore reality in order to pursue policies systematically designed to advance the interests of investors and the politicians they control. IdQ advocates argue that IQ is essentially anti-social in its bias against IdQ, recommend the re-education of IQ testers, and, in cases of incorrigibility, incarceration, so IQ testers cannot continue to harm society. IdQ testers are most alarmed by the growth of divergent and fluid intelligence, and recommend that high scorers on those tests should be surgically removed from society in the same way any other tumor is.

HQ measures hysterical capacity, the ability to dramatize emotions one does not have. The Education Ministries of eleven countries have declared HQ as a national human resource because it is necessary to the development of other abilities needed in the modern world, such as IdQ and ACQ, with which it is positively correlated. HQ testers find that HQ is the "leading edge" of IdQ and ACQ; when HQ rises, IdQ and ACQ rise within 15 to 30 years; when it declines, they decline rapidly. Unlike most forms of intelligence, HQ does not follow a bell curve; instead, its graph looks like the top half of a camel, with a large head at the right end of the scale, a gap between 135 and 110, the midline at the shoulder, and a large hump to the left of the midline. This failure to follow the normal distribution, of course, indicates that HQ is a composite of at least two different abilities, and it is hypothesized that the interfering factor might be designated as "will power." Sociologists find that HQ geniuses, who may have HQ plus "will power," are suprisingly common, highly successful, and prominent; HQ has a far higher correlation with success than IQ has. There is, in fact, a high concentration of the highest IQ scorers at the extreme left, just below the tail of the camel, as it were, in the range of HQ imbecility, at scores of 15 to 20. HQ advocates consider such people to be human vegetables, totally incapable of expressing emotion unless absolutely compelled to by obscure internal forces that the advocates claim are innately anti-social.

The flexibility the advocates of gifted children are demanding of the American school system is, of course, a good, though its restriction to 3 to 5% of American children is not. Of course, the US educational system, which used to attract the most brilliant women in the country before women could get other jobs, and used to have fine mathematics and science teachers before corporations stole most of them away, is no longer capable of teaching more than 10% of its students on the Deweyan principles that made some public schools great before the 1970's. This is particularly true because corporate publicity campaigns for 50 years have made people mistrust all government institutions and because corporate opinion regard for the "real world of business" which is supposed to be responsible for the creation of everything has trickled down to make public school teaching scorned and humiliating work.

The operative legal concept in the transformation has been "need" : once the handicapped were protected, the gifted could be proclaimed to have special needs also. The question, "Need for what?" wasn't asked; the handicapped need what they need to approach normality; the gifted need what they need to become supernormal. The majority of the population resentfully accepted the legislative and court mandate the handicapped because they had to recognize that exclusion from the mainstream was oppressive. They now seem to accept special treatment for the gifted because it is claimed to be in the national interest. San Antonio v Rodriguez put a federal ceiling on the need that poor and even average communities could claim for their children: all arguments for the needs of "normal" people, that is, for nearly everyone, have spend decades going through state courts and legislatures. Those courts and legislatures are free to make the fraudulent claim that they hold "community control" of education in such high esteem that, even when they require standard curricula, community independence is being served by having one school district spend as much as 69 times as much money per student as another. (That was the ratio of the property tax per student in Quogue and Cattaragus Counties in New York in 1980.) Of course, some community independence is being served: that of the communities with the highest property values. It takes some cleverness to mask plutocracy in democratic legal language. But the means of disguise are constitutional: though the Declaration of Independence says we combined to protect "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," the Constitution says our reason was to protect "life, liberty, and property," and was signed by the richest men in the country. The Supremes take a proper interest in the distinction.

The overall effect on the system is the relative educational impoverishment of over 90% of the students. A democratic gloss is put on this: the principle is supposed to be that the system is serving all the students, but equivocates on all questions of quality and funding of the vast majority. Parents withdraw their children from the public schools in droves—a process Milton Friedman calls "voting with one's feet." The foot vote seems to evince the opinion that the schools are not democratic, and may even mean no one even wants them to be any more.

Now, with acceptance of the gifted child routine, the system has accepted the basic principle that, to those who have, more should be given, while, to those who have not, mediocrity and mindless repetition are acceptable, though loss, of course, may be preferable, because, though what the majority consume individually is paltry, their collective consumption reduces what is left for the uniquely deserving and needy elite. 95 to 97% of any population, after all, can take quite a chunk out of the possessions of the beleaguered 3 to 5%, no matter how assiduously they are protected. This resolute devotion to the nascient elite shows a strong correlation with Republican funding guidelines, which in turn derive from Trilateral Commission principles designed to secure the interests of investors, who need the elite to advance intellectual property rights, the primary source of wealth in the corporate world.

Back to the thought experiment. When the scores of the eight forms of intelligence above are calculated, let us imagine, 32% of American children are found to have genius in at least one dimension. When other high scores from the full Puerile Intelligence Test Battery (PITB) are included, such as the MDQ (manual dexterity quotient), the CCQ (class clown quotient)—the puerile form of the adult IPQ (Incongruity Perception Quotient)—and the DOVRUDIQ (the diversionary obfuscation via redundantly unnecessary dubious information quotient), 50% of American children show genius. The result of ignoring such tests is not negligible. The DOVRUDIQ and CCQ scores, for instance, have high correlations with adult creativity test scores. The 50% who do not show genius on the PITB, moreover, on the average have scores over 130 in two or more dimensions.

The restriction of giftedness to 3 to 5% of the population is a tendentious result based on a selection of indices that, rather than following any general principle, is merely the intersect of traditional academic preferences and perceived corporate need. The academic establishment is adjusting itself to corporate pressure to recognize a wider range of abilities than the clerical skills the IQ test measured.

The ideological compromise by which giftedness is recognized derives from Professor Gardner's immense prestige as a wage slave of the Harvard Board of Trustees, an elite servility to which nearly all academics aspire, as highly regarded as the position of manse servant used to be among field slaves.

The "intelligences" Professor Gardner has chosen are a fusion of those valued in polite academic American society and those valued by corporate America. What Professor Gardner calls "linguistic" intelligence is what the 9 verbal subtests of the IQ test measure; "logico-mathematical" intelligence is what the 9 operational subtests measure. Spatial intelligence is a composite of artistic, architectural, geometrical, and imaging skills framed on Thurstone's original model. Draftsmanship, a skill in commercial demand, was once found to have an inverse relationship to IQ. Professor Gardner saves its esteem by including it among an array of valued spatial skills. Esteem for logico-mathematical, linguistic, and spatial intelligences are, thus, for the most part, shared by academia and the corporate world.

More tension vibrates around the other four "intelligences." The residual humanistic element of academic society values musical and intrapersonal intelligences too highly to allow corporations to reject them out of hand, as they wish to. Corporations and politicians put so high a premium on kinesthetic-bodily and interpersonal intelligences that academia cannot afford to scorn them.

Now let's compare the thought experiment to Gardner. Why claim just seven intelligences? MQ, ACQ, IdQ, and HQ are also highly regarded and promoted by American corporate society, but Howard Gardner does not advocate their recognition because polite academics don't regard them as humane skills. HIQ, SUQ, and HSQ are not valued in American society, and Howard Gardner, like other Americans, disregards them.

America generally does not value RQ either. RQ is closest to what Gardner calls intrapersonal (or introspective) intelligence, which he finds Virginia Woolf epitomized. Virginia Woolf is an exemplar valuable for this argument because academic humanists, feminists, and Anglophiles hold her in high esteem, enabling Gardner to elicit the support of the wives of executives and politicians to prevent self-knowledge from being peremptorily thrown out of the hallowed halls. Professor Gardner does not contemplate the implications of epitomizing self-knowledge with a woman who committed suicide, but perhaps suicide is the appropriate course for a bearer of self-knowledge in the modern world. This kindly argument on behalf of self-knowledge, generous in that it seems not to be Professor Gardner's own forte, is yet his most courageous effort to reform corporate power a bit, but he would not reform it toward Osho, Kierkegaard, Brahminism, or Zen Buddhism—let alone, say, Sufism or Voodoo, which also have highly developed contemplative practices.

Professor Gardner's interpersonal intelligence can be construed as a composite of SUQ and MQ, but he does not wish to regard social intelligence as an ability that is used according to one's social position: when one is dependent, it registers as SUQ, but, when one commands or competes, as MQ. Nor would corporate sentiment allow him to regard it as in any way mercenary or egocentric. To Professor Gardner, society is a peaceful, liberal place, like the Harvard campus, and so he fails to perceive the effect of social position on the multiple intelligences. For interpersonal intelligence to have a separate status is a coup for executives and politicians, for they make their living on the basis of their assessment of others. Children identified as gifted in interpersonal intelligence become the commodities on the labor market more highly valued even than those gifted in logico-mathematical intelligence, for they are "management material." Managers who have long tried to conceal their poor academic records can now blame the system for having failed to recognize their genius before graduation.

Professor Gardner has also had to do some footwork, for instance, by including one of Mozart's scores in an appendix, to keep musical intelligence in the corpus. But the intellectual devotion to classical music, the size of the market for popular music, and the corporate use of Muzak to mesmerize employees and customers, have allowed him to escape corporate censure for its inclusion.

It's a good idea to include kinesthetic-bodily intelligence among the other six necessary because that kind of brilliance is needed for what Bertram Gross calls corporate America's "friendly fascist" portrayal of itself to the public. Through their commitment to athletics, multinationals persuade a majority of US voters that corporations share their values. The desire of some sequestered academics not to regard athletics as a form of intelligence must yield to the corporate need to solidify its political and social domestic support. Therefore, the kinesthetic-bodily must be regarded as a form of intelligence based on what Michael Polanyi calls "tacit knowledge."

Professor Gardner, trained in neurology, which detects neural activity when people run around and talk to each other, has some reason to tell academics to reconsider their views on kinesthetic-bodily and interpersonal intelligences: "Try them, you'll like them, Manja." Even though the academics would rather sit in their offices and read than run around and talk, academic budget lines partially funded by collegiate football and basketball make university administrators think Professor Gardner's conclusion erudite. So in conferences administrators suggest that the old Oxford don types are really a little stuffy and anachronistic and need to join the modern world, an enlightened place in need of the substantial contributions of the unique forms of intelligence of athletes and ad men. The old dons nod their heads and say, "Ah yes, people do things outside our offices, we can see them throwing frisbees and gossiping on the Quad. Some kind of intelligence in that, what, eh?" All along the football and basketball coaches have been unrecognized geniuses in both interpersonal and kinesthetic-bodily intelligence, so the old dons mumble apologies, give them honorary degrees, and shut their office doors.

Professor Gardner himself seems to be kindly soul, but his IdQ seems marginally higher than his IQ score—which, of course, doesn't mean that much. It is understandable that IdQ should be his highest score. Harvard, for all its liberality, puts a high social premium on IQ, and so creates the desire in people unsatisfied with their scores to enhance others' perception of themselves. Because, in general our servility, we believe judges and assessors are superior to defendants and objects of study, assuming the role of assessing genius is a sure method of enhancing reputation. Though Professor Gardner's IdQ is not as high as Spearman's, it is far higher than Stephen Jay Gould's. Gould shows signs of contentment with his IQ. With the exception of 1848, when Karl Marx's IdQ score experienced a sudden growth spurt associated with contemporary revolutions, Professor Gardner's IdQ score may even be higher than Marx's, though surely it cannot touch Engels', let alone Stalin's, which was as high as Thatcher's and Reagan's. But, because Professor Gardner stands steadfast in the midst of established academic power, with the kind of stance Adlai Stevenson and JFK had, pretending to represent democracy while serving an elite, this peculiarity of "social science" goes unnoticed. In the noon sunlight of public regard for "social science," Professor Gardner's own small candle of ideology is only as visible as the flame of a cigarette lighter—good, perhaps, for igniting the grade report of a school-spirited basketball star or an amiable scion whose genius has been overlooked.

Generous soul that he is, Professor Gardner wants his vision to extend to the whole world. People everywhere should be able to develop all seven intelligences freely. But folks like Mr. Covey, who has discovered seven habits of highly effective people, have more clout with the interpersonal geniuses, the managers. The managers know that what you're supposed to be effective at is increasing profits; why else would US law require that any shareholder shall recover losses from any CEO who cannot prove in court that his own decision was reasonably designed to maximize profit? So the managers see a happy fit: if we all use our seven intelligences guided by our seven effective habits, profit will be maximized! Adam Smith told us what to do with our factories, now we know what to do with our human resources—that is, the ones who come to our Refresher Courses, who can pass it on to the folks in the factories, who can pass it on to their unemployed relatives. The managers see a straight line of decent from Aristotle's Rational Man to Smith's Rational Actor in the Market to Betham's Rational Investor to Covey's Highly Effective Person to Gardner's Multiply Intelligent Person to Universal Pursuit of Happiness through Property. To the managers it's all the same thing. If Dr. Sen quibbles in vector spaces about Rational Fools, ascetics, the handicapped, and presentable clothes, let him have a Nobel Prize for proving that" economists" have consciences too, but don't disturb the other economists, just pretend they're all like Sen.

So the great vision emanating from Harvard first has to pass through the managerial filter, then through the filter of ruling elites, who are a tad more peremptory, before it can reach Bangladesh, East Timor, and Angola, and it has to maximize profits at every step. So it becomes the trickle-down theory of education. At least one of the intelligences does in fact sometimes trickle down. The manual dexterity component of kinesthetic-bodily intelligence increases when people in Bangladesh maximize profits by stitching shirts for a dollar a day in Bangladesh, though their musical intelligence deteriorates a little because they have to miss their village festivals. East Timorese, escaping helicopter gunships flown by profit-maximizing Indonesians, increase their kinesthetic-bodily intelligence by learning to survive in the surrounding jungle, and though their interpersonal intelligence may suffer a little in isolation, their intrapersonal intelligence might actually increase—though, because paper is unavailable there, they can't leave the kind of record of it Virginia Woolf left. But the benefits aren't universal. Angolans, though surely grateful to have a military government properly impressed by the emulative ideal of exterminating non-profit-maximizing communists, find even their kinesthetic-bodily intelligence declines when soldiers burn their crops and homes, and that the surrounding desert does not replenish it as they starve to death.

Ah, Education! Enlightenment! Professor Gardner, in sharing John Dewey's basic view of it, is quite right: education is not a creature of schools, but of experience itself, particularly social experience. Too bad educators don't control social experience. All they can do is appeal to other teachers, and to parents, and the parents Professor Gardner speaks to are the parents of gifted children, the children profit-maximizers keep their eye on, the young princes and princesses in line for the corporate crowns. The old dons can look out their windows and feel secure that, after they retire, the new princes and princesses will be throwing frisbees and gossiping on the Quad.

Any personality trait can be regarded as an ability, and any ability can be regarded as a form of intelligence. Take two extreme cases, verbal retardation with perseveration and incapacitating depression. The first can be mimicked intentionally, or normal people under the influence of alcohol can fall into it. But no one who is not retarded can perseverate as some of the truly retarded can because the normal are hindered in their perseverative proficiency by memory and self-consciousness. What is to prevent us from defining retarded perseveration as the capacity to say the same thing thousands of times, thereby simultaneously alienating others through boredom, receiving support from them, and avoiding self-consciousness? For some people, for example, the anxious unemployed, who feel in all human contact devastating humiliation, retarded perseveration may be a valuable ability they cannot acquire, even though lack of it may drive them to suicide or starvation. Therefore it can be regarded as a distinctly valuable ability. Once regarded as an ability, retarded perseveration can be construed as a form of intelligence. One can construct a retarded perseveration test, measuring the RPQ. Any response which is not identical to the previous response will be scored negatively. One will then find that the scores of the population follow a bell curve, with retarded perseverators at the extreme right, followed by some alcoholics, the Mickey Mouse Club, and Barnie the stuffed Tyrannosaurus. Because many perseverating alcholics have high IQ's, and many retarded people do not perseverate, RPQ will not be a mere inversion of IQ, but will have its own distinctive dimension. Consequently its score will not be commensurable with any other, and it can be regarded as a unique form of intelligence.

Consider psychotic depression. We can regard its examplars as possessors of a unique ability, the ability to conserve energy. Testing the conservation of energy quotient, CEQ, will reveal that the profoundly depressed, yoga adepts, catatonics, ant lions, hibernating bears, and oysters at low tide all have extraordinarily high CEQ scores. The hyperactive, the manic, certain athletes, commandos, and hard rock singers, will have extremely low scores. The parents of a hyperactive child and the relatives of the vigorously manic search desperately to find some way to increase the CEQ scores of their afflicted relatives. They can point to Galapagos tortoises and people with high scores and say, "Why can't you be like that?" But the hyperactive and the manic can't manage it. Their CEQ capacities are just too low. Professor Gardner can discover that CEQ is a positive ability, he can write a chapter about CEQ geniuses, the relatives can come to him admiringly and ask whether that intelligence can be taught or intentionally increased, and psychologists can set up clinics to raise CEQ scores and restore family tranquility.

A hundred years ago, when the prestige of phrenology was collapsing, though Cesare Lombroso had found that the brain pans of some criminals were far larger than average, it was then found that White brain pans were, on the average, a tiny bit larger than Black brain pans, and that male brains were larger than female brains, so White Male Brains ignored the criminal brains and concluded that Intelligence depends on Brain Size. In the 1920's, however, the average Oriental brain pan was found to be larger than the White. Millions of average-sized White Brains grimly imagined being overrun by Yellow Hordes of millions of larger Chinese Brains. In 1921 Anatole France received the Nobel Prize for literature and, when he died in 1924, was found to have the smallest normal male brain on record. White Brains suddenly thought it very significant that Anatole France's Tiny Brain kept making him say things that appeared Very intelligent, and concluded that Puritan Cromwell's and risqué Byron's Gigantic Brains produced memorable words was Very insignificant. (After all, those Huge-Brain words revealed contradictory puritanical views and un-family-value desires, both unacceptable to 20th Century Polite Reasonable White Men, and therefore could not be indicative of Intelligence; and White Men couldn't remember any huge-brain Chinese words, which they therefore assumed must be similar to huge-brain unmemorable idiot-savant words.) White Male Brains had three choices: they could have maintained that their large brains were smart at the cost of admitting that middle-class hating criminals, monarch-hating folk like Cromwell and Byron, and Orientals were smarter, and that idiot-savants were more savant than idiot, and then had the satisfaction of believing that women, Blacks, and Anatole France were inferior. Or they could have apologized to women and Blacks and elevated Anatole France to intellectual sainthood, classified Cromwell, Byron, and Orientals as criminals, and presented themselves as the Golden Mean. Or they could drop the matter. They dropped the matter.

Something much more exciting had been discovered. When IQ scores from tests written in English were administered to immigrants, Italians, Slavs, Poles, and Jews at Ellis Island scored in the retarded range! IQ tests saved the day by proving the appropriateness of immigrants' submergence at the bottom of the True WASP Meritocracy. And the scores kept Blacks right where the White Men wanted them. So long as one maintained that IQ was innate and hence did not reflect education, experience, or environment, then one could say that low Black scores reflected not lack or education, paucity of experience, or a restricted environment, but "innate inferiority" or "incorrigibility," thereby saving the public purse a goodly sum.

The only remaining problems were Women and Orientals. Women could outscore Men on the verbal half, but so long as the Men could keep the Women out of mathematical training, the Men could keep winning on the operational half. The Orientals could outscore Whites on the operational material, but so long as they didn't learn English, Whites could keep winning on the verbal half. So IQ was Perfect. It showed Innate Intelligence!

Professor Gardner has brushed up the image of meritocracy. He has saved a place for introverts who give evidence of their thoughts and for musicians and artists. He has made a new place for athletes, political tacticians, and persuaders. The new elite can allow the athletes, musicians, and persuaders to make it popular, the persuaders, tacticians, analysts and those talented with language to make it successful, and the introverts to put a gloss of culture on it. Voila! A mentality for rulers of the New World Order, the New Roman Order, the New American Order. Professor Gardner's theory is already in use in elite schools in India; the rest of the world will have it too. The study of genius will be regarded as an act of genius, not as ideology, for only losers are accused of ideology. Let the other 95 to 97% of us lucky Americans scramble for a bit of the boredom, Pepsi, and peanuts left over around the pretzel man's cart while on the 63 rd floor the decisions are made by the multiply intelligent smart guys having coffee and Danishes over the mahogany table in the Boardroom.

In 1945 the US had 50% of the world's wealth. Now it has just 28% of it, and barring nuclear war, environmental collapse, plague, and famine, all more likely to affect the rest of the world than it, its percentage has to keep declining while China's and India's have to keep rising. When one adjusts for purchasing power parity, China is now the world's second largest economy; Japan is third, India fourth. But so many people are required to produce China's and India's wealth, and it is divided up among so many people, that little is left over to affect the rest of the world, so they will continue to appear weak internationally compared to Europe and Japan. Despite the G8 countries' oppression of them through such devices as currency exchange rates, the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the "brain drain" so essential for intellectual property right superiority, China's and India's impact on the world must grow, and with it, their impact on our ways of thinking of ourselves must grow.

Right now a majority of educated people find it sensible to believe that all kinds of ways people do things depend on their intelligence. I guess it will be at least a hundred years before a majority of educated people come to believe that measured of intelligence are just a faulty way of measuring chi, the Chinese concept of the flow of energy. Then, if India's impact on the world comes to exceed China's, I suppose in another hundred years, a majority of educated people may believe that atman is what underlies chi, and the concept of intelligence will be regarded as a bit of history as silly as phrenology and the humors are regarded to be now. By then, I imagine, Africa will be united, and with such a huge continent and such great resources at its command, I imagine African ways of viewing the world will overtake Chinese and Indian ways, and in five hundred or a thousand years, some concept like ahura will be found more vital than humors, phrenology, intelligence, chi, or atman, and will be held to explain much more. So much for White Supremacy and the great white mystery of intelligence.

But who knows? Maybe the Chinese will decide chi is indicative of something more important than intelligence, even if there are seven flavors of intelligence to chose from. Chi might turn out to have more flavors than Baskin Robbins. That would be wonderful: then the teachers wouldn't be able to line their classes up by rank any more, or at least they'd have to change the ranking for every occasion. But I have a hunch chi will turn out to have something to do with family position, and that first sons will be found to have more of it than second sons, and so on. The Indians might find atman so inexpressibly superior to what chi expresses, that when ahura comes to reign supreme, the difference could be literally incalculable. But I suspect atman will turn out to have something to do with caste, and that the most inexpressible difference will turn out to be between the upper castes and the lower castes, whom many Brahmins from time immemorial have thought were retarded. And while IQ has only has ranks from about 10 to 200 or so, I wouldn't be surprised if atman turned out to have as many ranks as "jatis" (the local units of caste): 6,000. So I guess the poor school kids will have to line up again, look up and down the line, or peek into the gradebook, estimate their chances in life, and resign themselves. I'm sure, though, that the difference ahura will be found to make will be available on the beautiful dark something or other that will have replaced paper by then, but I don't know what it will say. Of course, by that time, all cultures might have changed a bit, and, if we work hard enough at it, the structure of power might change too, so that we might make a fairly happy world in which people are content to be themselves yet try to understand each other, and the idiotic idea of ranking, by one score or seven, has become unintelligible. Perhaps parents will start to respect their kids a little, even if they're not among the top 3 to 5% American institutions think the outer limit of people worthy of respect.

Meanwhile the current White World Order will have to plod along with its stupid numbers arranged to turn everything into ranked and rows, like the tombstones at Arlington Cemetery, where the dead soldiers lie ready to ascend together to heaven to fight in ranks and get mowed down again for the glory of their commanders and the profit of their country's investors. We like rows of numbers. They look good on the white papers ambassadors like to hold when they talk.

But why this desire to construe human attributes as intelligence in the first place? Since the Industrial Revolution it has been easier to persuade us that the world is run by intelligent adaptation to "necessity," and that the best way to live is by intelligent calculation, than to persuade us that the world is run morally, kindly, justly, beautifully, or well, and that we should give more than lip service to those virtues. If it were not so, after all, wouldn't someone now be trying to persuade us that interpersonal skill isn't a form of intelligence, but that it is really a species of kindness, goodness, or justice? Wouldn't we, for the last hundred years, have had our "moral beauty quotients" tested, and wouldn't some Professor Gardener have been persuading us that athletics, like music and art, is a form of moral beauty that also belongs in the Zen garden of our minds? Or wouldn't we have grown up with our "egalitarian justice quotients," and been asked now to believe that the draftsmen of designs for skyscrapers have their own form of egalitarian justice? Or wouldn't we have learned that Francis of Assisi had the highest "kindness quotient," KQ, of all time, but that now kind-feeling people agree that fellows like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken and the officers of Enron also have a special variety of kindness, as shown by their kindly observance of the rule that "ignorance is bliss" while they manipulate the value of everything we own to their own advantage?

Or wouldn't we, as children, have worried about our "goodness quotients," but then, as adults, been enlightened that the making of anti-personnel weapons and toy bombs are also a form of goodness because such worthy labor smooths out investment policy, stabilizing the economy—and, surely, all goodness depends on the stability of the economy? This would appear as the only reasonable conclusion, for we would all have been convinced previously that investment is evidence of the prime moral virtue. We would feel we know that, of course, because the only way to understand the essential goodness of the world order would be to realize that when people starve on wages less than a dollar a day, the reason they deserve their fate is that they are profligate with their wealth.

So even if some other quality than intelligence were supposed to be at stake, we can know that we would be asked to accommodate our conception of that quality to the needs of the powerful. For what is at stake in theories of human qualities is not the qualities themselves, but power over those qualities and, through our conception of them, us. Excuse me for overgeneralizing, but I see not only "intelligence" tests, but even the vast bulk of "social science" as just another battleground in the War for Hearts and Minds.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Slow News of Need: Prologue, The Seasons of Need

(for Bernadette Panettieri, daughter of Lois Gorley)

Narrator: This poem is about relationships of unequal power. It is fairly common for there to be no one in sight less powerful than oneself, but extremely rare for there to be no one more powerful. So to show how power works, we must portray differences of relative power, keeping in mind that the more powerful in one situation may be subordinate in another, and that the less powerful may have someone to dominate.

Half of the 24 speakers in this poem are less powerful than the people they speak about, and so speak from the lower positions; the half who are more powerful stand in the higher positions.

Of the relatively powerless, half see no alternative but to accept their lot as if it were natural; they sit in distant positions. The other half of the relatively powerless seek to confront their oppressors; they sit in the
positions closer to you.

Of the relatively powerful, the half who delight in their power, and seek to extend and benefit from it, are in the far positions, where they have no trouble lording it over those who accept domination. The other half of the powerful, those who seek to benefit others, to free them from some of the bonds of power, or at least to refrain from injuring them, are in positions closer to you.

For each of these four basic attitudes towards power, there are six speakers scattered through time and space, two concerned primarily with economic forms of power, two with political forms, and two with social forms. The 24 monologues correspond to the 24 fortnights of the traditional Chinese calendar.

1. The End of the Rain Water (29 February, 1988)
Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India: a Mala postgraduate student:
In Andhra Pradesh, India, the two largest ex-Untouchable castes are the Mala and the Madiga. Together they form the lowest strata of Andhra society, and since the abolition of Untouchability upon Indian independence, have felt the obligation to their posterity to "come up" in society. The Mala consider themselves superior to the Madiga, so when a young man from an elite Mala family elopes with a young Madiga woman, Sobha, (whose name means "Beauty,") in a "love marriage," an unfilial act, the groom's father disowns him. On the last night of his life, the groom, Shanti, whose name means "Peace," speaks:

(From the lower back position):

"I couldn't live without Beauty. She promised
she felt the same. Parents desert love marriages, so
we lived alone. I studied for the civil service exam.
I got high marks. The interview went well.
My friend had inside news. Without a one lakh bribe,
they refuse to give positions. I asked my wealthy father.
He said my life is refuse while I live with a Madiga.
She was pregnant. We'd never argued. We wasted
nothing. Reboiled rice scrapings were our food.

She refuses to ask her father. She insists he won't give.
We fight. I hit her. I'm sorry. She refuses to forgive.
She spends this night angry in our landlord's house.
I drink. I find a rope, make a noose, move a chair, and use
the ceiling fan."

Narrator: Thus, on the last night of the month of the gods of the underworld
on the Roman calendar, Peace destroys himself. Beauty remains, but full of
guilt. After the interviewing committee learned of the suicide, they
prudently sent an appointment letter.

2. The Time of the Excited Insects (1 March, 2002)
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India: a Muslim community activist:
On February 27, 2002, in Ahmedabad, some 58 fundamentalist Hindus died in a
fire allegedly set by Muslim fundamentalists. The Hindus were on a train car
bound for Ayodhya, where they had intended to begin building a Hindu temple
on the site of the Babri Masjid, which fundamentalist Hindus had destroyed
ten years earlier. The next day, in retaliation, right-wing Hindu mobs began
a week-long riot, burning Muslim homes and shops, killing some 2,000 Muslims
and leaving a half million homeless. An agnostic journalist of Muslim
background, feeling as if his brain is burning, and unable to post a
detailed account to his newspaper, talks into his miniature tape recorder:

(From the lower front position)

"Yesterday began our Languedoc, our St. Bartholomew's Day,
our Kristalnacht. Christian-haters mimic Jesus-hating Christians
imagining Satan and killing Cathars, Huguenots, Jews, now us again.
Babur built his Masjid at Ram Janmabhoomi replacing stupas
Ashoka built to honor Gautama. The Dalit Valmiki called Ram perfect
though innocent Sita killed herself because Ram imagined Ravana raped her.

RSS drape saffron over their khaki and scream they love Ram.
They love him so well that because he was born at Ayodhya
they have to torch Ahmedabad shops and homes with people locked inside,
gang rape women in front of their husbands and children, chop babies
from wombs (their machetes and lingams they think must be
the left hands of god) under police supervision, to unite the nation."

3. The Vernal Equinox (22 March, 1523)
Muhlhausen in Thuringen (now Germany): a peasant:
According the Chaucer, on the Vernal Equinox heaven opens its doors. But
Germany is colder than Britain, and in 1523, looking forward to a month or
more of starvation, a peasant uses Luther's words to commit himself to a
friend who has decided to follow Thomas Munzer in rebellion against the
Church and aristocracy:

(From the lower front position):

"The last sheaf bound, one week remained
to yield the Earl his portion and to Tithe.
Threshing should be four days' labor, milling two,
but eighteen bushels must go up the long road
and five are due the Bishop for the poor.

The boy could work no more, the mill seized
for the creek ran low, the wife stood obliged
to aid her folk. The year's just measure exceeded
my strength. Of our share, thirty, unthreshed till last,
rain spoiled most. It lies mildewed, not fit for rats.
By Februar all we could eat was gone.

I could ask sustenance, and pardon
For my fault. But I have not begged before
and would not now. Tell Brother Thomas
I will stand by him. I have no other."

Narrator: With hundreds of others, the peasant burned his Earl's manor,
then, when the others went towards the next manor, left and tried to return
home alone, but arriving horsemen killed him on the road.

4. The Clear and Bright (7 April, 2002)
Cheltenham (near Philadephia), Pennsylvania, USA: a toy salesman:
In 2002, as federal income tax day in the US approaches, a young father
decides he has no alternative but to write to his own father:

From the lower back position:

"Dad, video games and CD's push toy sales down.
Marge splurged to keep the kids' spirits up.
So, maybe it was me too-that one third discount
sucks you in-her folks always made Christmas
the prime time of the year. Well, I didn't want
to see the writing on the wall. Then it appeared
on the pink slip-five p.m., New Year's Eve.

I know toys, but I've looked for retail sales
of damned near any kind in all the malls.
After New Year's, nothing. What can I say?
Microsoft has captured the whole market?
Accounts didn't set withholding high enough.
They never do. The guys don't want them to.
What do you think the interest will be by the time
I get work?-after the Feds slap on the penalty?
Bankruptcy will hit the mortgage and car.

Yeah, your income's fixed, and your account's low,
But your house is your own. If anyone
gives me a chance, you know I work like a dog."

Narrator: Unlike the peasant's, the young man's disaster can be cushioned by
his father, so he never turned to confront his own oppressors-his boss, his
corporation, or the government.

5. The Grain Rains Fall (20 April, 1948)
Huazi, near Mukden (now again Shen-yang) Liaoning, China: a civil servant:
In the Spring of 1948, after 16 years of avoiding the Japanese, local war
lords, and the Communists, in the hope of eventually being able to return to
his former work, a one-time government official decides to back Mao:

From the lower front position:

" 'The way of heaven is to make empty what is full
and increase what is modest.' This harassed century,
Britain forced opium on us, Japan slavery,
Americans slept till struck. Mao brays like a mule
against Kung. Chiang honors ancestors but only his own.
Millet is deaf to both. Sixteen war years, fields bare,
still no planting. Young men in mountains, young women whored.
One learns I Ching to serve, but without grain, rule is a hull.
Our debts make me depend on men who melt our coins down
and pour them into one solid mass beneath their floor.
We lack cash for broken rice. From this day I will not care
what Mao says if he knows even that one way of heaven."

Narrator: Because he joined the Party only at the very end of the
Revolution, the official is never given any responsibility and, in his old
age, is re-educated during the Cultural Revolution.

6. The Summer Begins (15 May, 1953)
Leipzig, (then East) Germany: Ernst Bloch:
In 1953, Ernst Bloch, having been hounded out of Germany by the Nazis, then
being harassed by HUAC in the US, finally gets a teaching post in East
Germany only to find that the East German government suspects him of being a
capitalist stooge. Late one night, after reading Robert Tressell's 1906
novel, Philanthropists in Ragged Trousers, as he is working on the outline
for The Principle of Hope, he says this to his wife:

From upper front position:

"In the current of history, to stay afloat
one must serve property, command, and pride,
so the weight of insight must always sink.
But we can dredge the river for dreams.

Philanthropists in ragged trousers
still gild the houses of the leisured
while their children lie on mottled rags
in tenements they can't afford,
and they bring them up to slavery
with the delusion that they cannot dream.
The work of dreams they leave to Morris,
Bakunin, Tressell, Marx, and Blake.

Let's pledge ourselves against exhaustion.
Though fear of dread makes them will to die,
we'll gently reach beneath their pillows
to touch their dreams before they thought to lie,
and draw the replicating thread of hope-
like Crick and Watson pipetting DNA-
from the colloid of fear, sigh by broken sigh."

Narrator: Despite the fact that his work was repeatedly interrupted and
destroyed, and that he often had no income, Bloch managed to preserve his
thinking in the most extensive Anarchist interpretation of history ever
written. But preserving one's thought can face even greater obstacles than
Bloch faced.

7. When the Grain is to Fill (29 May, 1943)
Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India: a Shudra tenant farmer:
During the Great Bengal Famine, a Shudra tenant farmer charged with the
care of a Brahmin's cow finds himself unable to explain his innocence when
the cow dies of starvation and sun stroke. His traditional Brahmin master is
so offended by any implication that a once-born man can share any of the
experience of a twice-born man, that the farmer can barely find an
opportunity to report that the cow is dead:

From the lower back position:

"Cows die in Rohini, Sir, they don't give milk.
Krishna requires ghee, you must give, and we-
yes, it is our duty, yes, I do admit it Sir-
must give ghee-no, it is not arrogance,
begging your pardon, Sir, that I disagreed-

I am a humble man, I remain in my place,
forgive me for denying you, I did not mean
to put ignorance before knowledge, Sir-
surely the slokas are right-it is a mere
matter of fact I came this way to tell you,
please, someone else must provide-

I cannot buy ghee, Sir, the cow is dead,
the well is dry; like you, we wait for rain-
Sorry, Sir, for comparing, please forgive."

Narrator: The Shudra, unlike many of his caste in his town, escapes
starvation because the Brahmin allows him to sell his son into bonded labor
to repay the debt of the cow, "leniently" allowing the debt to be increased
to cover the cost of rice and dhal for the Shudra family until the famine
has abated.

8. The Grain in Ear (7 June, 1984)
Sept-Iles, Quebec, Canada: a Quebecois bush pilot:
Forty-one years later, at the time of the son's death, on the North shore
of the St. Lawrence, a Quebecois bush pilot who used to make his living
flying executives daily to the Knob Lake Iron Mine but now only gets
business flying them to lakes in Quebec and Labrador for fishing and moose
hunting, runs into an American in a bar. When someone plays a Leonard Cohen
song on the juke box, the pilot quotes a parallel verse from Villon, and is
surprised to find the American knows the poem. In the ensuing conversation,
the American asks him why he has stopped writing poetry. He closes his eyes,
leans back, and says:

Still from the lower back position:

"Two hundred forty years ago, coming from Halifax,
Sept Iles and Baie-Comeau were Acadia again. Ten years later
the Cajun swamps of Lake Pontchartrain got our kin,
the damned, to sing "Louisiana, the child that walks
just waits." Eight generations we knitted, fished, and loved.

Thirty years ago we boomed. Then Brian Mulroney,
our own native son, got the bright idea he could be P. M.
if he just shut Knob Lake Mine down and bought
cheap iron ore from Brazil, where people die digging.
Campaign contributions came in tens of millions.

I've always wished I'd known Goethe. If I had,
he'd have asked me to write him a verse about a town
without naming it. If I did my best, he couldn't have said
if it was Sept-Iles, a New Orleans drain, or Rio Doce.
I've got no more to say about local poetry."

Narrator: Canada at least has a working social security system to buffer the
impact of catastrophic economic change.
843 years before, an Anasazi woman had to leave her home in what is now
known as Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. A predatory wandering tribe that later
established themselves as the Aztecs in what is now Mexico City has been
attacking the settled Anasazis and sometimes devouring them. In a typical
propagandistic move, the Aztecs call the Anasazis "tzitzimime," "skeleton
people," the idea being that since they're really skeletons, they don't need
their flesh, so it's all right to eat them. Some Anasazi men have become so
demoralized that they too threaten cannibalism. The entire society has
disintegrated. The only hope is a guerilla fighter, Kokopelli, who helps
beleaguered women and children find refuge in the mountains. The apparently
hunch-backed figure of Kokopelli is carved on rocks throughout the American
Southwest, and is known as far south as the Andes as a flute-playing man
women loved:

Spoken from bottom back:

9. The Summer Solstice (22 June, 1141)
Aztlan (now Chaco Canyon, New Mexico): an Anasazi woman:
"Only today dawn strikes our door. They call us tzitzimime
because they want to eat our hearts. At night Kachinas come
but cannot protect us. Though water flows through the sluices
I will not add my children's blood and tears. Their eyes
are worth more than these walls. We will follow Kokopelli.
He always keeps the needful on his back. The song
of his flute carries further than the hummingbird can fly.
By nemontemi of One Rabbit this place will be Mictlan."

Narrator: Nemontemi is the five-day intercalary period, when chaos breaks
out; One Rabbit is the last year of the 60 year cycle, due to arrive in
1142; Mictlan is the land of the dead.

10. The Slight Heat (6 July, 1286)
Carcassonne, France: Jean Galand:
The Spanish Inquisition began with the persecution of the Cathars, "The
Pure," a communal egalitarian group (at least in that it esteemed women),
disparagingly known in southern France as the "Bulgari," (whence "vulgar")
because their sect began in Bulgaria. The first prominent inquisitor in
Carcassonne, Jean Galand, eventually went too far even for the Catholic
hierarchy to back him against popular revulsion. But here, at the height of
his power, in mid-summer of 1286 he tries to extract a confession:

From the higher back position:

"You, Bulgari, your soul is a scar on the perfect face
of God. Look into His Face. See what you have done.
He who gave His Life for you weeps at the sight of you.
He hangs here even now in infinite sorrow and pain
seeing Satan has reached into your heart when you needed
only to cry out to Him, your Savior, who knows pain
you cannot imagine even now. I beseech you too,
cleanse yourself now, recant, go to your Maker pure,
beg His forgiveness before Satan drags you
into Misery Everlasting.

Is it not clear to you yet?
Pray that the weakness of your flesh is greater
than the hardness of your heart. Tell Christ now,
when did Satan seduce you? You need not fear,
He is waiting, and He Knows, you have only to confess.

Did you not realize that this frail vessel that snaps
at the mere turn of a wheel was but the bearer
of the infinitely precious Soul vouchsafed to you?
Hear his sword strike now to free you of your chains.
Hear Him plead for your salvation, hear His Love cry out.
For His sake, for the Love of God, abjure your sin, My Son."

11. The Great Heat, (July 21, 1848)
On board the brig Hope, near Lagos, now in Nigeria: Cornelius Driscoll:
If a priest can convince himself he is serving God by slowly torturing
people to death, how difficult was it for an Irish immigrant to persuade
himself that his tough bargaining practices were forced upon him because his
slave supplier plotted to cheat him? Talking to his First Mate off the coast
of Lagos, on board his brig "Hope," Cornelius Driscoll succeeds in rendering
the fate of the captives utterly irrelevant to himself by focussing totally
on his supplier:

From higher rear position:

"Get ready. He's Filatah. Styles himself Aladdin.
Blathers on about the Stagirite, got it from Averroes,
as if Grotius weren't good enough. Bargains over a hookah.
Says he can bring me anything. Can't say what language
he told me in. His Portuguese and Spanish are two peas in a pod,
his French is Limberger. He brings the Azanaghi, Ibo,
and Yoruba together-he'd rather lose a few than all-
then trades to mix in bucks of a dozen tongues.
Delivers Kabbazahs house courtesy, but if you take one,
he'll jack up by half the prices for Ham's poor bastards,
so keep your saltpeter dry. Might be of the Greek persuasion;
when I refused one he asked, "You like peonies?" and grinned.
He's canny; he'll pick up any flick of your eyes. Use bored
contempt. Pretend he's a fruit vendor. He'll try to sneak
his rotten apples into your barrel, so use your nose more
than your eyes. He's made some village someplace think
he's Napoleon himself by buggering guys like us."

Narrator: When he eventually returns to New York, Driscoll pays the routine
$1000 bribe to squelch all charges against himself and his crew. Like
hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other Yankees, he leaves in his
wake a legacy of collective guilt in collusion with slavery and murder.

12. The Autumn Begins (6 August, 1966)
Silver Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan: a monk and an American poet:
118 years later, during the height of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights
Movement, one American poet, feeling ashamed that he too bears some of that
guilt, and trying to understand and disentangle himself from it, is on leave
from a ship docked in Tokyo. He visits a monastery in Kyoto on the 21st
anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Perceiving his awkwardness, the
head monk, giving no sign of his own status, begins a conversation with in
English. More individuated than the young poet, the monk has no belief in
collective guilt:

Monk in the higher front,
Poet in the lower front:
The Monk: "If you want to be
happy for one night, get drunk;
one week, marry; your
lifetime, be a gardener.
Wanderers see wayside grass."

The Poet: "Wayside grass is real,
not imaginary names
families dream in."

The Monk: "Families give names face. Face
is war, outside to inside."

The Poet: "Inside to outside
attention seeks quiet flow.
We hang from weak thread."

The Monk: "The thread is the silk of care.
Only care can strengthen it."

Narrator: The poet feels the monk has accepted him without accepting the
self-doubt he cherishes. .

13. The Limit of Heat (20 August, 1984)
YMCA Challenge Program, Dorchester, Massachusetts, USA: a head teacher:

In Boston, which is to the US what Kyoto is to Japan, the head teacher in a
lock-up hires a new teacher. She knows no teacher with academic expectations
can survive there. Knowing that nothing she can say can actually prepare him
for the world of intense confrontation he's entering, she nevertheless tries
to inform him that the only thing that will actually count in his work is
the creation of trust:

Speaker, from upper front:
"Yeah, these kids can teach you things."
The quarter-inch
wire mesh inside the windows stops thrown chairs
from the war inside from breaking glass. Her eyes open wide.

Speaker, from upper front:

"They want to too. Take Carlton. He never talked.
Took everything in. After he was here three months,
he found me alone. He told me how the social worker
took him from his mother when he was six. He cried.
His whole tactician mask dissolved. I got maternal.
A few months later he saw me trapped in a dilemma
and just said, "How does it feel to need?" He saw I understood.
Since then we've always been honest with each other."

14. The White Dew (6 September, 1737)
Nutimus' Town, Crown Colony of Pennsylvania (now USA): Papunehang:
In the settlement of the American colonies, the two men most trustworthy to
the Native Americans were Roger Williams and William Penn. Yet neither of
them were able to inspire their successors to keep their promises. In 1737
Penn's son, Thomas, forged a deed purporting to be 50 years old. The deed
claimed that the Delaware had ceded to Penn all of land a man could walk
around in one day. Thomas arranged for three men with horses to traverse the
boundary of the grant. At top speed they travelled 36 hours around the
southeast of Pennsylvania, circumscribing the homeland of the Delaware. John
Logan, the chief judge of Pennsylvania, ruled they had acted properly. A few
days later, Papunehang, a Delaware Sachem, spoke in tribal council:

From lower front:

"Lenni Lenape, the sweet grass bids me say, had we studied
the British tribe well before we dealt with Sachem Fenwick
we'd have known he was their stalking horse. They have no
longhouse, so they neither know nor care for each other, but
live alone in their hearts like bears and so threaten each other's
children and wives. Too childish to share, each one thinks
he needs his own land. They drive each other to the wall, and despair.

We thought Penn and Fenwick knew manitto, but we gave foothold
to their need to exclude. Penn's slavish father murdered Spaniards
for rum and black slaves only because a bigger Sachem wanted them.
The British prevent their wise women from choosing their Sachems.
Instead they conspire against women, value them at less wampum,
keep them like the slaves even Penn kept, and will not let them
set catchers for the childrens' evil dreams or teach the children visions.

So Penn and Hannah did not know how to raise their own son.
This is why Penn's men, his fraud son Thomas, and puffed-up Logan
cheat us, using three men and horse for what one man must walk."

Narrator: Forced onto Iroquois territory, a few years later Papunehang and
his group were killed by Iroquois raiders. Though for more than 3 centuries
White settlers talked continuously of Native American depredations,
historical record shows that, with exceedingly rare exceptions like Little
Big Horn, loss of White life was virtually nil. The purpose of the talk was
to justify the extermination of Native Americans. By September 11, 2001,
more than 10 years of embargo and bombing had impressed a similar lesson on

15. The Autumn Equinox (23 September, 2001)
Baghdad, Iraq: a high school teacher of mechanical drafting:
Twelve days after September 11, a 40-year-old mechanical drawing teacher in
a Baghdad high school sits with friends in a tea shop talking about Bush's
use of the word "crusade." He tires of political talk, closes his eyes, and
a decade of images pass through his mind:

Spoken from lower back position:

"Here we knew the Twin Towers would fall on us too. Already
umber sewage swamps streets as if awaiting mangrove seedlings.
Staccato sprays of ochre water spurt from pipes like projectile vomiting.
Synthetic diamond needles stick in grooves on 45 disks of military marches.
Dead phones fail to dial themselves through wire loops tangled on scorched
Concrete chunks hang on reinforcement rods from smashed shelter ceilings,
crippled teenagers clinging to exhausted parents.
A truck tire projects on an axle toward a universal joint,
a lecturer's staff pointing at a remembered blackboard diagram.
Craters are zeros aligned in tic-tac-toe winning triplets across runways.
Midspans of bridges jut above lapping waves, broken legs licked by old brown
Train tracks swing sideways in woozy loops, the circling shadows of
Diarrhea shrivels babies too dried out to cry for soft clean cloths,
their mothers whisper to doctors with empty black bags, then wail.
Measles blotch children's cheeks, chickenpox, and again smallpox pock them,
zinc-white calamine, like baklava crust, flakes off soft pink skin swelling
with mumps.
Teachers thumb magazines in front of blank grey television screens
waiting for the principal to call while wives water down tea and scrape
Coffin carpenters order lumber from idle sawmills, generators melted by
incendiary bombs.
Grave diggers trade shovels, the tinker turns the peddle of his emery wheel,
Sparks fly like white phosphorous, but harmless, except to on-looking eyes-
that know not to look up in the Thousand and One Nights of Stealth."

16. The Cold Dew (8 October, 2001)
Watson Research Labs, Yorktown Heights, New York, USA: an IBMer:
Soon afterwards, in New York, an IBM researcher too brilliant even for 15
years of downsizing to have touched, unaccountably finds himself beginning
to panic. Not knowing whether it is the WTC crashes, Bush's response, hints
he hears in the voices of managers, or his deteriorating relationship with
his wife, he believes he's about to be manoeuvred out of work. Late at night
he writes this on his laptop:

Spoken from higher back position:

"Somebody had to not be afraid of Big Blue.
Watson downsized in 85 leaving only PhD's,
trouble shooters shifted to Stamford to help Sales,
in 90 more support staff, in 96, secretaries..
Gates is untouchable, better than Morgan Guarantee.
World income grows at 1.1%, his at 34.27. By 2032
their projected lines will cross. Tiberius pales
before him, Wang wanks, Big Blue turns chartreuse.
I'm going to send him an email now: how's this:
"Aladdin, rub your lamp. Hire me. I made the first
nanotechnological electron photomicrograph.
I'm pissed at your competitors. I can make you
a god, every screen a shrine. Your devout flock
will be watched around the clock. Poor Bill Hearst
had to hide in Hart's Island, but you'll get the last laugh.
I'll bring you patents that will put the world in hock."

Narrator: The IBMer is, of course, far too late to apply to Microsoft. Gates
had concluded nearly a decade earlier that any IBM researcher with a daring
imagination had already left, and was not vulnerable to the delusions of
grandeur the researcher attributed to him.

17. The Hoar Frost Descends (23 October, 237 B.C.)
Pataliputra, Bharat (now Patna, Bihar, India): Ashoka:
Twenty-two centuries earlier, coming too late on knowledge had a different
impact on a man of genuine authority, Ashoka, the last of the effective
Mauryan emperors. After conquering the Kalingas, he toured their prostrate
kingdom. He was so stricken with remorse for the violence he'd unleashed
that he converted to Buddhism, became a pacifist, and spent the rest of his
life ruling as non-violently as possible and spreading Buddhism, even as far
as Sri Lanka. In his last year he said:

From top front:

"What little effort I make-what is it for?-that I may be free
from debt to the creatures. The Kalingas taught me this
as though they took the heart from my body. The Sangha taught me
only how to try to put it back. That I am beloved of the gods
shows me only their mercy, for the Sakyas bore a king
who did not need a lesson like mine. For him knowing that
old age, disease, and death existed was enough, but for me,
I had to be the cause of agony for lakhs of innocents. When
it was already known, why was my real duty not taught to me?
I was a terror even to my own brothers: this was the guidance
we Mauryas gave each other. Our sovereignty was murder.
But still I have not done what I needed to be done for me."

Narrator: Attacked from many sides, the Mauryan Empire collapsed shortly
after Ashoka's death.
18. The Winter Begins (7 November, 1588)
London, Britain (now United Kingdom): Frances Drake:
Building an empire requires an entirely different breed of certitude. In
1588 Frances Drake destroyed the ability of the Spanish Armada to challenge
Britain. Elizabeth duly rewarded him. Feeling himself on a permanently
rising tide of power, Drake felt that God was in his heaven and all was
right with the world. The apparent order of the world was then expressed as
"The Great Chain of Being." I imagine Drake one night deciding to write his
conception of it in a sonnet:

Spoken from upper back:

"Her Majesty wants men of sundry deeds:
philosophers to prove why God rehearsed
the world in measures fit to Kingdom's needs;
poets to convert court gossip into verse
so groundlings can learn whom to love the most;
the armless men for carts too small for horse;
the legless to teach Service in one's Post;
the dull to show why Duty bows to force,
Knowledge being weak, stripped of Noble frame;
the blind to prove the Good let others lead;
the mad to know God's Justice fixes blame
in sinners' souls when they conceal their deed.
Wherefore let fractious villains, cloaked in stealth,
be pounded to mummy to restore Her health."

Narrator: Drake knew the sonnet was not presentable. He did not invest his
ego in poetic accomplishment, so he threw it away and went to sleep, never
to think of it again.

19. The Little Snow (22 November, 1963)
Plymouth Whitemarsh Township High School, Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania,
USA: a ninth grade student:
375 years later a high school freshman tried to write his first sonnet, but
he got it backwards, using ten lines of fourteen syllables each. It was the
night JFK was assassinated, and it had been a rough week. He'd seen his
first corpse, and a girl in his class had been "gang-banged" after Saturday'
s football game. Writing let him get a little distance from it all:

Spoken from the lower front position:

"Last assembly, Mr. Marlowe said we were all disgraced.
After the game the football team destroyed something precious
Dale had. Her Dad came to see him say the right thing to us.
This was different. This time Kennedy was being replaced
by Johnson because he'd been shot in the head. That snotty
Beth ran around screaming "Oh my God! What will Jackie do?"
Her Mom had had tea with Jackie, and they were best friends too.
A bum died. Dead leaves covered him. Dogs smelled out his body.
They say even all Tokyo cries now. Everyone is sure
they love people-but they mean those who give them a future."

Narrator: If we only love those who give us a future, we don't love those
who most need love. This doesn't bother many people who run the world, who,
if they know of Ashoka, think he proved the unviability of a non-violent
order just as they think the demise of the Soviet Union proved the
unviability of socialism.

20. The Heavy Snow (7 December, 1949)
Huntington, Long Island, New York, USA: Henry Stimson:
FDR appointed Henry Stimson Secretary of War in 1940 because Stimson was the
leading member of The Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.
Stimson's diary for November 30, 1941, actually says, "Now all they have to
do is take the bait." Eight years later, at the age of 82, in his home in
Huntington, Long Island, Stimson is writing his autobiography, On Active
Service in Peace and War, when he looks back at that page:

Spoken from higher back position:

"In 41 Churchill told Franklin the Neutrality Law
could go the way of the munitions on the Lusitania.
Carriers made battleships and cruisers obsolete.
We ordered the carriers out of Pearl. My diary says,
"Now all they have to do is take the bait."
When the line pulled, I struck Kyoto off the target list.
Nice place. Uncle Joe never mentioned the bomb
at Yalta so we signalled him from Hiroshima.

At Bretton Woods we pinned the money down
while he couldn't talk, a fait accompli; so tacking on the UN
for cover was easy. That young fella Nixon says we can bypass
the whole labor caboodle by shipping plants abroad
and taking profits out through currency exchange
once things settle down. Commies from Manila to Managua
will be pissed because our unions won't support them,
but they never get their act together as fast as we can."

21. The Winter Solstice (21 December, 2002)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK: an American academic:
It is easier for the middle class to escape from cynicism than for the upper
class because the middle class never ultimately succeeds in its most
oppressive intentions, so the futility of its cruelties becomes evident. An
American academic comes to terms with his life by going to live in India,
where he learns how American he is. In a country where ascribed status
overwhelms achieved status, he comes to perceive ethnicity as Indians
perceive caste. He entirely despises empire, yet he finds himself a pawn of
it because decades of CIA activity have made the Indian Home Ministry so
suspicious of any American who wants to stay in India that it deports him.
He goes to Scotland because he'll experience less culture shock there than
in the US. There he finds himself bound to the lower class Scots some of his
emigrating ancestors left behind. He speaks in his imagination to his former
American colleagues:

Spoken from top front:
"The grey-suited WASP horde, feeding paternal will
to conquer, drove me through confused explorations
of aspirations to mate, first with a girl affecting
British accent, then with one from a Samurai family,
then a genius from Vienna, in my sad Cook's Tour of
Weiblichkeit, before the gist of my father's goals began
to dawn on me. Only frequent defeat made me aware
of my Redneck, Canuck, Kraut, and Mick forebears. I married
a Polish French Midwesterner to share ambitions,
but competition supplants affection. Slow soft nudging
at the doors of my heart opened them to my Italian love.
The heart, I learned, hates ambition. Her death brought agony
but no regret. A Latino woman propped me up, then
I left that Rome that stole my soul. A Madiga home
taught me what my ancestors knew.
I come back now to find
my Sutpen, Snopes, and McCaslin cousins, going by
presumed names, littered on sidewalks, in algid pea-green flats,
under Home Relief blankets, cut out of the competition
by the likes of my family, as we'd been cut out of Europe,
as Wall Street cuts out everyone to make investors fat.
My Ithaca's 10,000 years back, too far to find; my Penelope
has long forgotten me, yet I'm no worse off than you."

22. The Little Cold (5 January, 1613).
Kanazawa, Ishikawa-ken, Nihon (Japan): a silk weaver:
The cruelties of empire do not need great geographic scope to flourish. The
Tokugawa Shogunate consolidated power in 1603, immediately commanding that
all Samurai (7% of the population) carry two swords and that no one else
bear any weapon. The Shogunate then monopolized economic power by commanding
that the entire rice harvest be brought to local Daimyos as tax and
redistributed as stipends so that anyone who did not please the Daimyos
could not eat. To monopolize social power, the Shogunate commanded that all
families be incorporated in the "gonan gumi," or "five-family" system. That
system required that each family report any breach by any of four other
families of an elaborate etiquette of status on the premise that a faux pas
indicated disloyalty. In Kanazawa the Maeda Daimyos used the system to
enrich themselves by gathering as many silk weavers, goldsmiths, and
jewellers as possible. Here a weaver prides himself on the correctness of
his treatment of his daughter-in-law:

Spoken from higher rear position:

"Rice is tax and stipend. Fearful daimyos seek rice
to pay their samurai. Their farmers must be frugal
or face twin swords. The clever Maeda want gold and silk.
All our five families weave. We must maintain our place.
Warmed by the brazier, household heads discuss fates.
Kneeling women seek to pour tea the moment before
thirst arises; a bad wife lets her husband feel thirst.
Women entreat, apologize, implore, and distract,
but we are not diverted long. The sense is among us
of how we must act. Going her own way, my son's wife
lost his first child, embarrassing us all by running,
acting like a farmer's girl, falling down, unable even
to keep her own feet in order. Will our drawlooms
in twenty years be idle when samurai come? We refuse
to let her serve us. In the corridor she weeps.
But my son's mind moves steadily as the shuttle.
I need not fear, our spirit will find another birth.
If she learns, we will keep her. How can she learn
unless we treat her like Eta? She must know tea
can be poured without her. Weavers too have face."

Narrator: Frozen out, the young wife, candid, cheerful, and affectionate, is
now on her way to becoming a resentful and embittered woman void of
spontaneity, full of secrets, and given to gossip. At the bottom of the
social ladder, she has no hope of reprieve, and, as she ages, can only take
her anger out on her children and, much later, on servants.

23. The Severe Cold (20 January, 1972)
VA Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, USA: a Vietnam veteran:
But even long-term rigid oppression is subject to break-down when its
victims face the daily threat of death. A Black GI returns from Vietnam at
the height of the counter-culture movement. He has enough cash to spend
months roving around the country with veteran friends, taking drugs and
chilling out, relieved he's still alive. But, while sharing an acid trip,
one of his friends becomes convinced he's having a fit of paranoia and has
him taken to a V.A. hospital. The shrink has seen this before, and is
beginning to call it "post-traumatic stress syndrome." The vet talks to his
shrink, at first trustfully, then building into a rage:

Spoken from bottom front:

".that shit was good, Doc. So we get the munchies. This dude
I know from Nam is eating chips talking Anasazis this
and Anastasis that. Then he calls me a shit. I know he means
he wants to eat me to turn me into one. I keep seeing his teeth.
He says he sees my brain. Just now Nixon comes on T.V.
I see his teeth. It's the same thing, Man. That's why I scream.
It shakes people up so they laugh. They show their teeth.
Same damned thing. You don't want me to upset the ward?
The Aztecs made buildings out of skulls. You're no different.

You change and I will. Look in the mirror, Man. Tell me what you see.
You hoard all the money so nobody can do anything without you.
The Frogs enslave the Vietnamese. They try to get free.
You want to keep them enslaved. You use your own old slaves.
You don't let us work and treat us like dirt so just to eat
we'll kill Vietcong. If we try to free ourselves you stick us in here
and gum up our brains with thorazine chains. You a slave trader Man."

Narrator: Because he is shaken, the analyst realizes he cannot use the Vet's
state of mind to discount the accusations entirely. In a society whose
facile egalitarian social doctrine has entirely obscured the nature of
economic class and political oppression, oppression is conceived as a matter
of social history and style. But to sort out such matters requires
detachment from the power system as a whole. This the analyst's employment
prevents him from doing.

24. The Spring Begins (15 February, 1985)
The Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, USA: a homeless man:
To extract one's commitment from the system of oppression is not an
intellectual, but an emotional task. The life of a middle-class man, who in
the 1960's was much like the toy salesman we met at tax time, fell apart in
the last '70's. By 1985 he has completely lost the desire to return to his
old way of life and prefers the company of his fellow homeless people to the
family, neighbors, and associates he used to have. Down-and-outers respect
him. He's called "Mr. Coffee" because he's always willing to share a cup
with anyone who wants to talk to him. He sits on the steps of the Boston
Public Library:

Spoken from top front:

"You like the library too? It's warm today. Sun's out.
Look down the street. I was one of them. Rushing for cabs.
Being on time. Sizing things up. Had a family.
Wife. Dog. Kids. House. Car. Seemed o.k. All gone now.
Wife hooked up with another guy. Kids like those people.
She kept the house. Smashed the car. The dog?
Don't know about the dog. And she was better
than the rest of them. We keep track of the wrong things.
Guess it's because we love the wrong things.
Look at them all. They love the wrong people."

Narrator: If we were willing to love those who need love, and could allow
ourselves to receive it, peace would be possible. Beauty can still arise to
make us aspire toward the reconciling ideals of truth and goodness that
would make justice possible. But peace depends on justice, and justice on
the actuality of truth and goodness, not their mere presence in our minds as
ideals. So long as we impoverish, suppress, and humiliate others in pursuit
of wealth, power, and esteem, peace can only be momentary.

For the understanding of power relationships this poem dramatizes, see
"Differential Social Power" on this site.

- Richard Z. Duffee