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Tag: hyperreal

Conspiracy Theory Is Actually Just Postmodernism In Disguise

I should preface this by saying I don’t know anything “officially” about postmodernism outside of what I read on Wikipedia and Googling around (and a really stupid Jordan Peterson article I won’t link to). And the fun part is, that’s kind of postmodern itself. You can become an expert in five minutes. And then of course being an expert then makes you automatically untrusthworthy as a source. It’s ninja turtles all the way down, I tells ya…

Anyway, I gathered some of what I found already here, so I won’t rehash that all at length, but wanted to pull on a couple strands I didn’t cover there.

Namely, that Lyotard himself defined the postmodern as, “incredulity toward metanarratives.”

Anyone who has looked at conspiracy theory stuff online will know that people are always saying in a tongue and cheek way: “Don’t question the narrative.” That is, they feel oppressed by or don’t agree with whatever they perceive to be the “official” metanarrative.

What’s a metanarrative in the context of postmodernism? Also from Wikipedia: “a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience.”

So when they jokingly say, don’t question the metanarrative, they are literally demonstrating Lyotard’s own definition of the postmodern. They are incredulous of the metanarrative. They want to question it, to challenge it, to tear it down and replace it with their own version of the truth. Their own metanarrative.

This is a decent WaPo article by Aaron Hanlon from August 2018 about Postmodernism. I’ll pull out a few choice quotes. Regarding his book, The Postmodern Condition, it:

“…described the state of our era by building out Lyotard’s observations that society was becoming a “consumer society,” a “media society” and a “postindustrial society…”

Hanlon continues:

“This was a diagnosis, not a political outcome that he and other postmodernist theorists agitated to bring about.”

“[…] Right-leaning critics in the decades since Bloom have crassly contorted this argument into a charge that postmodernism was made not by consumerism and other large-scale social and technological developments, but by dangerous lefty academics, or what Kimball called “Tenured Radicals,” in his 1990 polemic against the academic left. At the heart of this accusation is the tendency to treat postmodernism as a form of left-wing politics — with its own set of tenets — rather than as a broader cultural moment that left-wing academics diagnosed.

“[…] This “gospel” characterization is misleading in two ways. First, it treats Lyotard and his fellows as proponents of a world where objective truth loses all value, rather than analysts who wanted to explain why this had already happened.”

So if we accept Lyotard’s original assertion, that postmodernism is characterized by mistrust of “grand narratives,” it unequivocally has that in common with garden variety conspiracy theory. But not only that, right-leaning conspiracy theory has reconstructed its own grand narrative where Postmodernism is the grand narrative which it mistrusts… Which is entirely postmodern in itself if you think about it. A subset of postmodernism attacking its own superstructure…

It would be funny if it weren’t so foolish and tragic. Because this kind of blatant self-denial creates a somewhat predictable (and boring) loop. Conspiracy theory denies it has anything in common with Postmodernism. It then projects its shadow contents onto the “other” & villifies the perceived differences. When, in actuality, they’re rooted in the exact same thing. The same social-cultural phenomenon that’s been happening for decades now, generations. Brought on by consumerism, industrialization, media-saturated soeiety, etc. Which is what the original theorists were observing happening all along, and which is still happening today. Nay, which is in utter free fall today. Hyperreality is on over-drive, and virtual & augmented reality haven’t even yet kicked in. HFS. Are w ever in for it!

I mean, no wonder people are clinging to any & every life raft they can find. I don’t blame them. I do blame the short-sightedness of getting bogged down in dumb political-territorial games & losing track of the larger phenomena at play though. When instead, we could be working on finding a way through it all. There is so much greater possible insight we could have into our shared condition than just fighting or getting sucked down into the quagmire of loser scripts that constitutes conspiracy theory outright.

The world is literally never going to learn, though. I’m old enough to accept that now. At least I got to write a nifty blog post about it.

Prohibited Misinformation on Tiktok

Thought these prohibitions around misinformation were interesting & worth keeping from Tiktok’s Community Guidelines section on Integrity & Authenticity:

Misinformation is defined as content that is inaccurate or false. While we encourage our community to have respectful conversations about subjects that matter to them, we do not permit misinformation that causes harm to individuals, our community, or the larger public regardless of intent.

Do not post, upload, stream, or share:

* Misinformation that incites hate or prejudice

* Misinformation related to emergencies that induces panic

* Medical misinformation that can cause harm to an individual’s physical health

* Content that misleads community members about elections or other civic processes 

* Conspiratorial content that attacks a specific protected group or includes a violent call to action, or denies a violent or tragic event occurred

* Digital Forgeries (Synthetic Media or Manipulated Media) that mislead users by distorting the truth of events and cause harm to the subject of the video, other persons, or society

Do not:

* Engage in coordinated inauthentic behaviors (such as the creation of accounts) to exert influence and sway public opinion while misleading individuals and our community about the account’s identity, location, or purpose

Now, I’m someone who likes to find the edges of policies like these. So there are certain things my brain automatically zeroes in on while reading…

  • “misinformation that causes harm” – where harm isn’t clearly identified… means the door is potentially fairly wide open to interpretation apart from their enumerated types in the list that follows.
  • “attacks a specific protected group” the definitions of protected groups or classes often tend to be somewhat narrower than people think. A Facebook leak from 2017 showed the … complexity of these kinds of definitions when the rubber meets the road.
  • “denies a violent or tragic event occurred” does this mean denying happy or non-violent events occurred is also forbidden? Status unclear.

I wonder what they would think of RealNewsChan.

Misinformation is just another front in the Hyperreal Wars.

Narrative Warfare & The Hyperreal, Part 16

Have been thinking a great deal on the similarities between folklore and conspiracy theories, as being grassroots stories we tell ourselves and one another to make sense of the world. I maintain that folklore, conspiracy theories, and what we call “disinformation” etc. are all part & parcel of the same phenomenon: the hyperreal, where the blending of fact & fiction are seamless and more or less indistinguishable.

Have also been reading Corkery’s excellent 1924 classic, “Hidden Ireland,” which has lead me to fill in a lot of gaps around my knowledge of Irish history, such as the Flight of the Earls, the Plantation of Ulster, the Tudor Conquest of Ireland, the decline of the Bardic Schools, and so on. There’s a story in Irish history which was used for centuries to establish or challenge the legitimacy of rulers, that of the founding of Ireland by the quasi-mythical Milesians.

From the Wikipedia:

Professor Dáithí Ó hÓgain writes that the “account of how the sons of Míl took Ireland was a literary fabrication, but it was accepted as conventional history by poets and scholars down until the 19th century”.[3] For centuries, the legend was used in Ireland to win and secure dynastic and political legitimacy. For example, in his Two bokes of the histories of Ireland (1571), Edmund Campion tried to use the myth to establish an ancient right of the British monarch to rule Ireland. […]

Geoffrey Keating‘s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (written c.1634) used the myth to promote the legitimacy of the Stuart claim to royal authority in Ireland (related to the origin of the Lia Fáil), demonstrating that Charles I was descended, through Brian Boru, Éber and Galamh, from Noah and, ultimately, from Adam.

Whether we call this narrative warfare or just another example of the hyperreal, the end result is the same: people using stories – and changing stories – to justify their own position or to attack the position of another. It all sounds eerily familiar, and it’s clear how deeply penetrating these types of stories can be as guiding myths in cultures.

Quatria is def mind-blowing

I remember when I first found out about Quatria, reading through the voluminous letters left by Edward Allen Oxford. It changed something for me, and my perception of the world.

It looks like the same thing happened to this Reddit user, after I posted a link I found about Quatria being potentially blocked by Wikipedia onto a thread about Tartaria misinformation (archived).

This feeling is why I still love (some) conspiracy theories, even after all this time. Especially the Quatria Conspiracy.

By the way, I just minted the first Quatria Conspiracy NFT on OpenSea using MATIC. Check it out here:

Edward Allen Oxford NFT

This NFT is an AI-assisted photographic reconstruction of Edward Allen Oxford, creator of Quatria, and is believed to have been taken in 1914. It is based on a badly damaged photo that was discovered along with mysterious letters in an attic of an old house in Eastern Canada.


The story goes that a WWI merchant marine ship was supposedly sunk off the coast of Antarctica by a German U-boat. The letters were purportedly written by the sole survivor, Edward Allen Oxford. Upon his rescue two years later, he claimed he survived on a warm tropical island, the existence of which was never proven by authorities.

During his convalescence, he wrote dozens of detailed letters to his wife about the myths and history of that realm, which he called Quatria. Some said he had an overactive imagination, but no one could explain how he’d survived two years alone in the frigid cold.

More information:

Making Edward Allen Oxford

While Edward Allen Oxford is a totally true figure who actually existed, I will admit to a bit of creative invention on my part. The only photo of Oxford which was in my possession was badly damaged by the ravages of time and weathering in the attic within which it was hidden for so many years in Eastern Canada.

As a result, I found myself in need of assistance in restoring this piece of Quatrian history. Regular old Photoshop 6 & my early 2000’s SCSI scanner was not up to the task. So I had to enlist the help of an AI, constructed years ago and largely forgotten by its creator, Richard Rider.

It took me some time to boot up the ancient machine this largely legacy software calls home. But once I did, we were “in business.”

Rider’s AI then proceeded to scan all known databases, past, present & future for any records remotely matching the fragments which were in my possession, or which were registered on the blockchain for his relatives, ancestors, or descendants, based on the DNA pulled from hairs in the sample I found in the attic in Eastern Canada. From these, it generated a composite facial reconstruction, and many intermediaries along the hyperreal spectrum, which I was able to selectively apply & discard in turn, until I landed on the matching photographic reconstruction you see below, which has now become quite well known as a result of the massive news coverage Quatria has been getting lately.

This image will soon be released as an NFT, through the famous site called SuperRare, where prices for suchwise artefacts are exceedingly handsome.

Forum Seeding & The Hyperreal, Part 6

While we’re on the topic of the Ancient Hieruthians, via the post in this series about dictionary definitions & the hyperreal, I thought we should make a small detour.

First, a seed artifact posted on Medium, under one of the Quatria publications, explaining in perhaps overly complex terms what the Hieruthian Hypothesis (similar to the Silurian Hypothesis) is. (archived)

And a supporting invented dictionary definition of Hieruthian posted through another account (archived).

Hieruthians (“Old Ones”) in Quatrian myth & prehistory were basically very early mammals, like the kind we see depicted creeping about the forest floor in paintings of dinosaurs, before dinosaurs were wiped out by successive cataclysms, and mammals rose up to take their place in certain ecological niches…

Tangent that I will come back to another time, before we take too much of a detour of a detour of a detour:

Wait, one more side-tangent before the actual topic at hand, forum-seeding.

Another one from Quora, in an effort to triangulate out the data points for SEO:

Is the Hieruthian Hypothesis a plausible explanation for Kumari Kandam? (archived)

The thing most interesting to me here is the invention of an alternative spelling, “Kynari Kendal.” It’s so convincing as a place name, I had to look it up to see if it was “real.” Or rather, whether it’s a spelling shared by others (wherever it falls on the scale of the hyperreal). Apparently it’s unique to this user. Go figure.

Ok, forum seeding…

Obviously, I didn’t invent this technique. I haven’t even used it that much, but it’s easy to do and ripe for dissemination & manipulation of networked hyperreality narratives…

First things first: If you’re going to make fake posts on conspiracy or other forums like Quora, I recommend using an AI-generated headshot, courtesy of thispersondoesntexist.com. That site is a miracle for work like this, as each one is uniquely generated, meaning you can’t take it into Google image search and find any original image source (like if you just copied a photo from somewhere else).

I only did two of these, but there’s no reason to believe doing hundreds or thousands would not have a severe impact on hyperreality. Use with caution, lest you send the multiverse careening to the edge of destruction!

Meet Cal

I like to let the photo generated by the AI help determine the direction of the character backstory…

Cal is your typical average straight-laced ISO compliance professional by day, and “the good kind of conspiracy theorist” by night. And he is just, like, totally curious as heck about the Hieruthian Hypothesis & ancient Quatria in general (like so many of us these days). Who can blame him? Good work, Cal! Keep asking questions!

Meet Jesse

Jesse “Martini” is just your average fun-loving post-grad student in ancient history & literature. And he’s “not a big conspiracy guy” by his own self-admission, but he’s wondering about the Hieruthian Hypothesis, and another very controversial topic: the alleged splitting apart of the continents of Arctica & Antarctica.

Yes, Arctica was totally a continent…

Because of prior experiments on Quora, I knew that this was potentially a hot-button topic! (See below)

When did the continents of Arctica and Antarctica split apart? (archived)

This science enthusiast was none too “enthused” about the idea of there being a continent called Arctica. Except, in fact, that according to Wikipedia in my timeline, there totally was! (archived)

Now, Wikipedia could be wrong, bear in mind. It could be subject to the global international conspiracy to filter out Quatrian history from our collective holographic display, but there are certainly a lot of footnote references included, and who am I to go and bother checking footnoted references for validity? [A whole other blog post, remind me!]

If it was really wrong though, there would likely be a huge flame war on the Wikipedia Arctica Talk page, and there is not… So either the Guardians of Reality were asleep, or this is totally “real,” at least insofar as anything in the distant distant past can be proven to be…

Now, whether or not Arctica & Antarctica were ever one continent… well, that’s a whole different story I will leave you to try to resolve on your own. Suffice it to say, the Earth we know today is not the Earth which once was, or one day will be…

Just ask anyone on a conspiracy forum.

Dictionary Definitions & The Hyperreal, Part 5

In part 3 of this series, I looked at one of the ways the Hyperreal works on a question & answer website like Quora.

If you’ve never used Quora, it’s basically a site where people go to ask other people things they could just as easily look up in a search engine. And then other people take those things, look them up in a search engine, and reply to the original asker with usually the answers they found in a search engine, plus usually some condescending remarks. In other words, it’s a great experience for everybody, clearly.

As I began to see those patterns take shape, I came up with an idea. What if I could just seed the answers I wanted into Google results? This way, I could ask leading questions anonymously (which Quora allows), knowing people would just Google them, and then their answers could help me launder content further along the spectrum of the hyperreal.

Having experimented a lot with Medium, I knew that it would be relatively easy to rank quickly in Google (often occurs within a few hours). So I set up a kind of meta-data thirst trap account, “pretending to be” dictionary definitions. I put “pretending to be” in quotes because, really, I have as much of a right to define words as anyone else. There’s no monopoly on language. It’s a living thing…

The Medium account is:

https://medium.com/@define.words (archived)

I also set up a “publication” on Medium to further strengthen my SEO:

https://medium.com/online-dictionary (archived)

Looks pretty legit (despite dark-mode in screen shot), if I say so myself!

I would definitely believe “Online Dictionary” and so should you! What’s not to believe with all this meta-data!

Then I set up about defining some words & concepts, complete with pronunciation guides, and usage examples, so Google would hoover them up, and it did! Usually within a few hours.

You know, common everyday words most people use like Hieruthian (archived), Crypto-Civilization (archived), and Poesiarchy (archived).

Google will happily purr them back out to you as “correct” answers to definitions of these common Quatrian words & concepts.

And thus as a result, on the marvelous “can you Google this for me” website that is Quora, you will get results like these if you ask the right leading questions to lead people into your meta-data thirst traps:

Example throughput:

What does the word “poesiarchy” mean? (archived)

Quora response:

A highly creative answer, to be sure. And this “reality lurking in the shadowy peripher of our lives just waiting for a chance to manifest” mentioned by the responder sounds, in fact, just like hyperreality — the quarry of our present inquiry. So maybe this person landed on the secret inner meaning, despite the false trappings & trail that had been laid down to entrap them…

Sidenote: I only planted about 5-6 of these definitions. Imagine if someone did hundreds, or thousands, and free dictionary aggregator sites picked them up. If they were good & useful words, how long would it be before they made their way into real people’s everyday vocabularies? Perhaps not long at all.

Tangent:

Speaking of free dictionaries online, this one of “cultural layer” (archived) is pretty interesting.

It begins with a disclaimer: “The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.”

Perhaps all dictionaries should have a disclaimer that they might be outdated and potentially biased?

Further, the OSINT trail for “The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition” is anything but comprehensive – at least in English. There’s a 2016 blogspot source called Russian World Citizens Project (archived) which itself is pretty sketchy looking, and only points back to this same site as a source.

It might be “real” but it might also be hyperreal…

Does the difference even matter?

Google & The Hyperreal, Part 4

This is going to be a short installment in this series, because the point is neither subtle nor complex.

If you search “Quatria Theory” on Google, the algorithm displays for you what appears to be an authoritative explanation in the form of an excerpt from an article on Medium.com–written by yours truly.

Where does this article fall on your personal scale of the hyperreal?

After all, Google only tells the truth, right?

They are very brave indeed to contravene the global gag order that exists regarding public discussion of this fascinating lost civilization!

One more:

See also Google search results excerpt for Hieruthian hypothesis (archived):

Also seen:

Google is getting pretty good with related searches, much of this obviously culled from Reddit SEO connections:

Quora & The Hyperreal, Part 3

In prior installations of this series on the Weapons of the Hyperreal (Read Parts 0, 1, & 2 for context), I looked at the power of naming & the dissemination of “facts” via press release into the various lower strata of news sites. I am by no means an expert on this, but merely trying to collect & reflect on all the hyperrealist cryptoart experiments I have done for the past several years, without having a name or genre to slot them into–until now.

I’ve quoted it once, I’ll quote it a thousand times:

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.

Wikipedia

With press releases, the purpose really is to get others to pick up your facts, and re-transmit them as their own. It’s largely what “news” as an industry appears to be based on.

But there is another path.

The path of counter-engagement. Where you pose “facts” with the intent that they will be argued against, and shot down by self-proclaimed “experts.” In so doing, you help to drive the narrative forward, increase the SEO footprint, and expose new people to the ideas, while fully acknowledging their disparate existential footing, thereby circumventing cultural immune systems by activating them.

One branch of the many paths through the forest of counter-engagement lies through Quora.

If you’re still wondering what I mean, browse through this search results page for “Quatria” on Quora (archived), a site positively FILLED with experts!

Here are some choice samples, with questions asked anonymously on Quora marked below in bold.

Note: I am obscuring some of the personally-identifying information of responders here, as my purpose is not to name or shame them, but to use these examples to illustrate the vagaries of the hyperreal world we now live in…

Debunk me

While I respect this person likely has some authority in the domain of history, the argument seems to be, “I haven’t heard of this, therefore false…”

Of course, this argument further falls apart once we understand what a crypto-civilization is, and that by their very nature, they’ve been hidden from conventional history… Around and around we go.

From the same source above:

This responder above even took the time to Google & re-transmit my article about the Quatria Theory to myself & others. Very helpful, very hyperreal!

Another Quora thread:

I would rate this answer as only partially true. There is no “work of fiction” entitled Quatria. There do exist certain very real volumes of collected Lore from that supposedly “fictional” culture (debatable) called the Lost Books of Quatria, put out by Lost Books, an indie blockchain publisher. The first volume is even available as an NFT.

However, none of that precludes the very real possibility that ancient or even pre-historic cultures could have made it to Antarctica. Especially since we know it was once more close to the Equator!

Hit me one more time:

This is exactly the creeping feeling of the hyperreal… You don’t know if it’s a “real” fake, or if its a fake fake that some might take as real… The circle never ends.

I often think that it must be reassuring to be this certain that one’s own ontological conception of “the real” is the sole and correct one.

It’s also interesting to me that there are people who feel so strongly compelled to act as Guardians of the Real that they fight it out daily in online forums. Bless their hearts for that… but I hate to break it to you…

Quatria is def real, y’all:

Guardians of the Real, assemble!

It’s interesting that at Quora, it’s normal to make existential determinations on behalf of all humanity and its past, hidden beyond the veils of time. What would they do if they found out Quatria is real…?

Meme: (Morpheus) “What if I told you… Quatria Is Real”
Quatria is very very real, I am afraid

But once in a while, you strike on a compatible hyperrealist fantasy of someone else, such as this person who has combined quite nicely the story-myth of Kumari Kandam with that of Ancient Quatria. It almost makes me wonder too if there isn’t some match here, cosmic forces of a sort driving together the two complexes of ideas & borrowed bits of history…

Where is it mentioned indeed! Perhaps a better question, and one more telling, would be, where isn’t it mentioned?

That said, one must also be careful: one person on Twitter, after posting one of my conspiracy articles from Medium, told me that their father had “worked on Quatria…”–whatever that means. I didn’t inquire further, but perhaps should have.

Or perhaps I did in an alternate timeline, and a huge holographic refractor in space is blocking memory of it from my present self…

Wait, what *is* the Quatria Conspiracy:

I would actually subscribe to this monthly club, perhaps, if the price & contents were right! Hyperreal Trend Report Monthly. Sounds like a Substack waiting to happen.

Others go in directions I don’t quite understand. This one starts strangely, and then…

…well, I guess I’m not the only one stranded deeply in the hyperreal. It’s just that each of us calls it something different, and dresses it up in the decorations that are the most familiar to us.

Is this person suggesting there IS a true life conspiracy to suppress knowledge of Quatria? Did I, through this simple ritual of asking troll-y alt reality history questions on Quora, accidentally invoke one into existence? Only time can tell!

Bringing it all back home…

Time, or another few examples from Quora threads, saved for posterity:

To each their own, I guess. I don’t have an all-seeing eye that tells me none of those things are even remotely possible. Perhaps they are not. But perhaps… Teletubbies to the moooooooon!!!

How do we determine anymore what is “of substance” in the Age of the Hyperreal? This person seems to be also, perhaps inadvertently, admitting there is indeed *some* evidence of this ancient lost civilization after all!

But seriously, how do we know all trace wasn’t simply removed from the web about Quatria, save for a few ramblings by confused authors who have dreamed a dream from outside of time? We really can’t be sure either way!

If you don’t believe me, you could always believe this news article on publish0x, the famous reputable news site (archived).

Or this helpful video, published by bollyholly143:

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