Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Shadow Puppet Theatre

We have already demonstrated that in all the breadth and width of human society and the interpersonal relationships of people there is a ‘give and take’ which in most cases, instead of being constructive and of promoting the co-existence and co-development of both sides so that the outcome would be far greater than anyone can imagine, it is competitive: that is to say, it is a continual battle of imposition and enforcement by one side against the other.


So, in the majority of interactions (from a simple conversation on the phone to a famous trial to a typical visit to be informed about students’ performance at school) there is a ‘competition’ about who ‘will come out on top/ will score/ will shut up/ show the proper place/ will trump’ the other person.

What does this mean?

This means that we willingly deprive ourselves from many things we could have gained while in the same time we burden ourselves with negative feelings which we could have avoided as well as entire ideas or points of view about the cosmos which take ground in our conscience absolutely and without discussion.

How do we manage that?

Two contestants are not the same as two cooperators. The contestants have very different goals and motives than the cooperators:

A. The contestants seek for one to win over the other regardless of the achievement or not of a goal that is useful to the general public.

B. That means they seek to prove that their point of view is in every way superior to that of the other contestant.

C. That means that in order to win they will have to deny or shoot down every single one of the opponent’s views regardless of whether they should or shouldn’t, or they will lose.

D. That means that the process is not a process of advancement and improvement for either of the two contestants but one that is destructive for at least one of the two if not both, which is usually the case.

On the contrary,

A. The cooperators both seek to prevail/ win/ achieve/ conquer a goal which is generally useful to a particular group.

B. That means that they are ‘open’ and seek to enrich or finetune their views so that they will better and more effectively reach their goal.

C. That means they gladly accept, seek and incorporate all the sides and angles which with the correct composition and evaluation create the point of view or the method which will bring about the achievement of their target regardless of whether these sides and angles come from their own thought process or that of their cooperator.

D. That means that the process is one of advancement and improvement for both the cooperators and it additionally offers chances for improvement and progress for each one of the cooperators individually. Also, the gain for each one on a social, personal and existential level is in great multiples than the uncertain gain one would have through a process of antagonism and undermining of the other.

Therefore, when we force ourselves but also other people to continually antagonize and compete with each other in order to discover who is the winner- free bondsman and who is the loser-subjugated free bondsman, what we certainly induce is the perfect absence of any type of progress and improvement of individuals and certainly (as we have already demonstrated with the babushkas) the complete absence of progress, development and improvement of society and social environment.

Additionally, as we see from our everyday interactions with other people that with antagonism and competition (relationships that ‘don’t work/ don’t flow/ don’t hit off well/ don’t do it/ lead nowhere/ suffocate/ stifle’ as well as a sensation of helplessness and weakness that ‘there’s nothing to be done/ that’s what everyone does/ what can one do?/ nothing can be corrected/ the way we’ve fallen…/ it’s no use’) we induce fully the mathematical progression towards degeneration and spoiling of our person as well as the social whole.

Yes, but emulation/competition helps progress, doesn’t it?

No, it doesn’t. Not because the basic idea and concept is wrong, but because just like in so many things it is interpreted and applied in almost complete disaccordance between the idea and its application.

What do we mean by this?

Let’s analyze what we mean by beginning as we should always begin: with the definition of ideas, that is to say précising what this ‘emulation’ means and what it doesn’t.

Emulation: “Ambition to equal or excel.

Effort to equal or surpass another[1]

To emulate: “Strive to equal or match, especially by imitating;

Compete with successfully; approach or reach equality with[2]

We therefore see here that ‘emulation’ as a term has two facets which are not actually clear or in complete accordance between them:

If I strive to be your equal or surpass someone, I definitely am not or do not consider myself equivalent to that person.

If I try to compete with someone, not only am I not interested in my improvement or his/her own, but on the contrary, I am interested in beating him/her in all counts, exactly like the soldier during war: my purpose is victory regardless of my quality or that of my opponent.

Therefore I will do anything to achieve victory without any thought on ideology or means or even if this actually harms, undermines and negates my real capacities. This fact is greatly illustrated in the more and more reported cases of athletes who are arrested or confess to using substances or other tactics which will give them a momentary edge in their sport without being interested whether they would have truly conquered the level of skill and ability which is symbolized by the medal they are pandering to. There are also swingeing cases of champion athletes who have suffered great problems of health (bodily, psychological and social) after their withdrawal from the sport in which they were competing.

Both occurrences prove the great size of the destruction by competition and ‘emulation’ induced in all levels.

This is the one side of emulation which is applied but never accurately spelled out.

The other side of emulation refers to how all sides are equal (or potentially so) and are governed by a mutual need for some improvement through competition, but this improvement (in terms of its kind and level) almost always is vague. However, through competition or emulation we cannot have either equality or individual or group improvement with actual gain on all levels, but on the contrary we have the onset of complete disaster as we saw above. On the contrary, we saw that in order to have equality and group improvement on all levels cooperation must exist.

Yes, but through emulation several breakthroughs were achieved. Isn’t that what we are told?

This is not actually true but actually a distortion of a basic truth about all breakthroughs (positive and negative alike) that have been achieved throughout humanity’s course.

A breakthrough is the result of two basic ingredients: need and experimentation. A need of either the individual for answers/solutions or of the group’s for survival. Experimentation for the satisfaction of this need by at least one and most of the times several more individuals who try out several approaches towards the goal, learn what they should pay attention to, avoid, correct and/or improve and so are led to the breakthrough which affects positively or negatively the entire social group.

There never was found a breakthrough or solution through a competition the goal of which was to evaluate, spotlight and reward one sole individual but did not have any other purpose.

Yes, but there are competitions of innovations or talent which do bring forth breakthroughs or talents.

This is inaccurate as well and the misinterpretation is mainly due to the tendency there exist not to use exactitude when we express ourselves and end up using one term for several similar but profoundly different concepts. These types of competitions which do bring forth breakthroughs of talents are not competitions but the greek word ‘συναγωνισμός’ which can best be described in English as ‘co-run’. What do we mean by that?

A target is presented to all participants with specific parameters and full freedom is allowed in the method and way of achieving this target. Cooperation and exchange of ideas is possible and in the most successful co-runs it is a given. If this does not exist and what we are measuring is not the achievement of the target but the individual itself in an evaluation context, then the competition is truly a competition which, just like we showed above never yields a breakthrough or a talent either objectively or in its full expression ( either the ‘talent’ is nothing but a result of techniques meant to impress and not actually there or, when there is actual talent, it is canalized and hemmed in until it is stifled by the social and financial pressuring emanating from the competition). Let’s just consider how much success or gain is to be had from competitions like Eurovision, American Idol or even the Olympic Games, beauty pageants and soccer/football/etc: no objective gain or success is to be had either for the spectators or even for the contestants since many times the material gain (because there actually is no other) is given to a contestant not because of his/her skill or ability or talent but because of the misleading/limiting criteria and the subjective opinion of one or more judges.

In future articles we will analyze exactly how something which can seem objective in essence is subjective and fabricated.

So, who benefits from the competitions?

The one who first comes to mind is the winner of the competition. In competitions like the ones we mentioned the winner wins glory, fame, financial gain, positions coveted in society, etc.

But is it true that the winner wins these?

In reality the winner doesn’t win all these things because they are not the natural and logical result of his/her achievement (e.g. to run fast is not in essence an exploitable ability by the person who has it, that same speedy runner, in a way that will ensure his freedom, independence and autonomy in today’s society) but a non-controllable by the competitor reward which is controlled by other agents and by other criteria which have nothing to do with the winner’s talent or competence (that is to say, the competitor cannot use his/her achievement in order to gain or earn what he/she is given beyond the limits and stipulations of the specific contest alone, and so therefore he/she cannot use their achievement to survive if that is not allowed by others.

Consequently he/she is forever in a dependent and uncertain position which he/she may or may not keep even if he/she retains or even improves the achievement if others do not want it to be so). In this manner the winner does not feel the assurance and certainty of a winner who, having achieved this goal moves on to higher ones belonging to more advanced developmental levels, but instead senses the uncertainty and insecurity of a person who is sitting on an unstable chair upon a time bomb- since his/her win is nullified with the obligation and pressure put upon him/her.

Who is really the one who has control?

Certainly it has already been hinted at that the one who has control is the one who is not competing. The one who is not competing is not the one who watches passively and without interacting with contest parameters which are specific and objective. That is just the spectator who cannot but be a receiver of a situation with which it is irrelevant whether the spectator agrees or disagrees and whose opinion is never asked as a true lever affecting the competition. The spectator is hurt by the competition as much as the contestant is because he/she is given the false and misleading message that they have no effect or influence in his/her environment (social, personal, state, work) and he/she is being taught to take blows and rape of his/her personality and his/her opinion without him/her trying at all for a substantial reaction.

The spectator just like the competitor learn through the contest to be free bondsmen (since they believe they were the ones they chose freely to do what they do and react the way they react) and instead of being full personalities with multiple facets they limit themselves to being two-dimensional and shallow expressions of themselves just like the figures of a Shadow Puppet Theatre.

In the same token, the same occurs in the case of the judges of the competition who are similar to the cloth against which the figures of the Shadow Puppet Theatre press in order to be visible: They aren’t free to judge the contestants as they would like but just like every free bondsman is free to judge as they are enforced to, regardless of their opinion (much is the historical evidence where judges were forbidden to yield a winner because for political, financial or other reasons it was necessary to pick another winner, more accommodating to the promotional campaign of those truly controlling the competition). Otherwise, their own position and reputation is subject to and controlled by others who truly control the show.

So who does truly control and benefit from competitions?

In our Shadow Puppet Theatre, that would be the Shadow Puppeteer. He/she is the one who controls all the figures and stretches the cloth they press on as he/she likes but cannot be seen nor does he/she present him/herself, though his/her voice is heard, camouflaged as the voice of the figures he/she is holding.

How can we discover who the Puppeteer of the several different competitions is?

Through asking some very simple questions which we will list next time.

[1] Webster’s Online Dictionary

[2] Webster’s Online Dictionary