Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dumbo's Feather, Inception and Collapse

"Inception" is a movie about dreams within dreams.

In Inception, a token totem spins and spins and
seems always on the edge of falling over.
What does it mean?
More importantly, in the end, the main character (Cobb) no longer hold's on to that totem.
What does that mean?

Has he let go?

"Dumbo" is a movie about a cartoon baby elephant endowed with an X-Men like mutational power which allows him to convert his flesh and blood ear flaps (used for cooling) into airplane wings (airfoils) of sufficient lift power to overcome gravity's pull on his elephant's body.

"The Feather" which Dumbo grasps

is an example of yet another held-onto totem
that has been the subject of extended focus.
What does it represent?

Before answering though ...
A first question is whether we are allowed
in a first place to ask questions or is the mere asking ...
of questions taboo? (Forbidden, Blasphemy?)

Let's assume yes ... we are allowed to ask

And then to investigate possible answers ....

In one sense, "Dumbo's Feather" represents a dream (psycho-suggestive powers) within a dream (of fly-capable elephants) within yet another dream (that of a cartoon world reflecting our reality) just as in the movie "Inception" the ploy is that of getting an audience to suspend its disbelief mechanisms to the point that they allow the movie to implant in their minds an acceptance of unreality becoming reality (of dreams seeming to come true). The notion to be grasped is that a "symbol", a "token" such as a mere feather (Dumbo's feather) can overcome the "psychological barriers" which are the only things holding us back from our "true potential" --for example, the potential of a gravity bound body (i.e. an elephant's body) to otherwise take off and fly to unlimited heights

--If only we believe hard enough. (When you wish upon a star ...)

Let's think real hard.

Where else have we been asked to hold on to tokens of belief and wish hard enough for our dreams (American dreams), for our "true potentials", to come true or to wish that those above us (our job-creationist leaders) will come to our rescue? To the rescue of Greece? To the rescue of Cyprus?

Where else have we been told
that belief alone (high self-esteem) will make us soar?

Where have we also been told ...

YES WE CAN ?  That all we need is "ingenuity"?

What manner of MAGIC FEATHER is used in each such situation?

At what points in our lives did we each mutate into being a Dumbo?

(jump forward to Table of Contents)

Run the gauntlet boy and you will be a "champ".


1. "Money" acting as a Dumbo's Feather
2. "Economic Theory" functioning as a Dumbo's Feather
3. "Religion" equals Don't Poke at my Dumbo's Feather
4. "..." [under construction]


1. "Money" acting as a Dumbo's Feather
The feather is a "promise" of yes you can, yes you will.

Money similarly is a token "promise" of yes you can, yes you will
or, more to the point, if you possess a money feather:
yes "they" can, yes "they" will
(without telling you who the "they" are who will fulfill the promise or how or when "they" will do it.).

Consider the promises made to you as you start a job and then wait to get "paid".

On Monday morning your boss says,
"I promise ..."
"that if you work hard enough all this week,"
"at the end of this week I will give you something of value"
"equal to the worth of your work"
... back to top TOC

So you work hard and on Friday afternoon,
you eagerly await receipt of your due reward.

Your boss shows up late,
with a bunch of feathers in his hand.
And a real serious --this means business-- look on his face.

"Dude," he says, "I've plucked these magic
feathers from ...
... well never mind that; just take them.

Go out there into the big world
and hand these magic feathers to whomever
you happen by chance to come across.

"They" will give you, or do for you, something of value equal to that of the work you did for me. I promise that.
... back to top TOC

You trust your boss.
So you eagerly grab up the magic feathers.
As that happens, he mutters quitely under his breath, "We're done boy. I owe you nothing more now that you have accepted this legal tender."

Then, on your merry way you go.
In your travels you run across a man selling
"magic beans".

Normally you would be wary.
But on his business card it says "Certified".
Certified Wall Street Broker and purveyor of magic papers and magic beans.
That changes everything. This is an "investment". A prudent, calculated planting of seeds into fertile ground with sound expectations of return on ventured enterprise.
So you make the deal. Exchange your feathers for his magic investment beans.

A truly wise choice, you say to yourself.

Soon I will be playing on a golden harp:

Now of course, this Jack and the Magic Beanstalk story
seems all too removed from reality.

But what if your magic feathers
looked like this?

What if your magic beans
looked like this? (image on right)

Not so fairy-tale-ish anymore,
is it?

... back to top TOC

While unnerving, there is not much difference between
being handed "cash" or a "check" as the token of payment
for your job-well-done and being handed a bunch of magic feathers.

Each is just a symbol
It merely stands in as a token for a "promise"
that was implicitly made to you. Remember?

... back to top TOC


1a. List of Physically Graspable Totems (i.e. Dumbo's Feather)
1. Greenbacks (currency)
2. Financial (paper) "Instruments"
3. Indian beads, Wampum
4. Other icons of Debt/Wealth
5. Feathers as symbols of power
6. Rabbit's feet & other charms of luck
7. Rosary beads, other religious graspables
8. Symbols in general
9. Faith symbols
10. Transition to intangible tokens


2. "Economic Theory" functioning as a Dumbo's Feather

And it came to pass that the spirit of the Lord blew over our exceptionalist land

The spirit spoke to its selves:
Let us fogettabout a Dumbo hand grasping a "real" cartoon feather.

Let us bring forth
A greed-driven intelligent hand

Let us make it

... back to top TOC

Let it be but a mere appendage of
the all omniscient, Mr. Economy

Let us give onto Mr. Economy
characteristics of our exceptional human form
and of the wind blown boats that brought us to these egg shell shores.

Let Mr. Economy have "expectations"
Let Mr. Economy face "headwinds"
Let Mr. Economy have "feelings" (good days versus bad days)
Let Mr. Economy have "perpetual growth".

Let us anoint priests to worship and study Mr. Economy and his Invisible Hand
Let us call them "Economists".

Let them be fruitful
(Or should we have said ...
"tuthful"? Is there a difference?
Never mind.)

Let them multiply
Let them "crunch numbers"
Because that convinces the peeps

"Numbers" feel objective and real
despite being man-made constructs.

"Numbers" don't lie.
People do.
The very same people who spout the "numbers"

And so it came to pass
The economists spread themselves
throughout the width and breadth
of our exceptionalist land,
In the universities,
In the public schools,
In the grocery and candy stores ...

The spirits saw that this must be good
So they said, "let there be goods,
and services, and GDP".
Day One

Have we wandered afar from the original topic,
Dumbo's feather, its inception and its collapse?

This is the start of a new chapter.
The intangible (and thus indestructible) feather

Just as the Biblical Abraham realized that
tangible totems (idols) can be broken
So too did the purveyors of economic thought
realize that the object of their worship (The Hand)
must be invisible --and yet all knowing, all powerful.
Indestructible. Unassailable.

Butt to keep it alive,
they must continuously expectorate it
from their anal canals and feed it
to the next generation of young ones.

It does not reproduce
on its own.

Several factors have kept the "Economic Theory" Feather alive:
1. Widespread dissemination: If so many people believe, then it MUST be true. No?
2. Claiming to be a "science".
3. Claiming objectivism through use of "numbers"
4. Claiming that only the truly wise and loyal understand economics
5. Claiming that economics is part of the circle of life; a "correction" always followed by a "recovery"
6. Claiming that economics predicts the future by means of market expectations
7. Claiming that economics....


3. "Religion" equals Don't Poke at my Dumbo's Feather

As we start poking fun at the "Fundamentals" of economics,
we start feeling a deep sense of blow back --this is taboo behavior.

Keep talking like this and people, rational people, will shun you!

You're talking bout my Jen Jen Rationalization ...
1. Economics is just like a religion ...
2. Belief in Perpetual Progress is a Religion ...
3. Religion is the place where you stop asking questions ... (Neil deGrasse Tyson Lecture)
4. To question is to show disrespect and failure to embrace "faith"
5. Religion means never having to say you're thinking ...
6. Religion means ...


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