Friday, April 01, 2011

The Puppet Masters: Agency and Paranoia

By James Curcio
As was reported previously on Disinfo, there has been much recent inquiry into the idea of our sense of consciousness and agency arising through the interaction of things outside our nervous system, such as bacteria in our stomach:
"The wave of the future is full of opportunity as we think about how microbiota or bacteria influence the brain and how the bi-directional communication of the body and the brain influence metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes," says Jane Foster, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine." (Disinfo article.)
This, however, is just one example of "control from afar," and we see plenty of Manchurian Candidate material in the natural world through parasites, fungus, and bacteria that can selectively control animals to essentially do their bidding at the time and place of their leisure:


Parasites control ants

Speaking of ants, a study from the science daily on a fungus that can gain control of an ants nervous system to lead them to die in opportune locations:



"The fungus accurately manipulates the infected ants into dying where the parasite prefers to be, by making the ants travel a long way during the last hours of their lives," Hughes said.
But getting the ant to die in the right spot is only half the battle, as the researchers found when they dissected a few victims.
"The fungus has evolved a suite of novel strategies to retain possession of its precious resource," said Hughes.
As the fungus spreads within a dead ant's body, it converts the ant's innards into sugars which are used to help the fungus grow. But it leaves the muscles controlling the mandibles intact to make sure the ant keeps its death grip on the leaf."
This fungus, by the way, is cordyceps, which I take frequently as a supplement. It's one of the few supplements I've taken that has shown demonstrable results both as an immune booster and sexual stimulant. It's a strange world we live in.

Another example of this kind of possession by parasite, is the gordian worm, which can take over a cricket and cause it to commit suicide in water, where the worm can then burst out and enjoy its new watery home.




Fish tongue louse
There are more examples. Parasites that take over crabs. Fish. I speak in the Immanence of Myth, and frequently on Modern Mythology about our concept of self being a function of myth, that the barriers are permeable, that the "center" can indeed be said to be anywhere. But thinking about these interlocking biological systems, vying for supremacy, raises questions about how psych technologies in the future could be leveraged.

It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to wonder who is pulling the strings in many situations. How likely is it that the future could make prophets of the delusions of paranoid schizophrenics everywhere? Genetically engineered bacteria that can turn people into sleeper agents? Maybe madness today, but what about in twenty years? Or,
"Imagine a weapon that creates sound that only you can hear. Science fiction? No, this is one area that has a very solid basis in reality. The Air Force has experimented with microwaves that create sounds in people’s head (which they’ve called a possible psychological warfare tool), and American Technologies can "beam" sounds to specific targets with their patented HyperSound (and yes, I’ve heard/seen them demonstrate the speakers, and they are shockingly effective)" (Wired article.)
Asking this question was of course a big part of Philip K Dick's legacy, but it seems that we are entering that paranoia inducing future where - though government conspiracies are unlikely to ever remain silent or well organized - technology can be used to control minds, and our "true self" is at best a fiction and at worst a much sought after commodity. CIA ops and media obfuscation occur out in the open (making "obfuscation" a possibly inappropriate choice of words) and few seem to notice, or care.

As an example, leading headlines all over the world today spoke of CIA operations in Libya, which was really not hard to predict, any more than the Al Qaeda links with the "rebel forces" or the ongoing curious relationship between this organization and the US. Consider this:
"Why is the United States so opposed to Gadaffi? He is the main threat to US hegemony in Africa, because he attempts to unite the continent against the United States. This concept is called the United States of Africa. In fact, Gadaffi holds all sorts of ideas that are contrary to US interests. The man blames the United States government for the creation of HIV. He claims that Israel is behind the assassination of Martin Luther King and president John. F. Kennedy. He says that the 9/11 hijackers were trained in the US. He also urged Libyans to donate blood to Americans after 9/11. Khadaffi is also the last of a generation of moderate socialist pan-Arab revolutionaries that is still in power, after Nasser and Hussein have been eliminated, and Syria has aligned itself with Iran." (article from an admittedly biased source. But which isn't?)
Welcome to the bright future. It's alright though. We all know this is just paranoid make-believe, right?


Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

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