My big plan
we share what’s personal and it’s derided, de-"legit"-imized, made out
to be meaningless, how much more can we be expunged from the "group"
than for that to be pointed out about what is most personal, our very
But when we do make sense of our personal stories, and others can relate to the sense we make with their
own sense, then we have the beginnings a real shared community
experience, not a phony systematically uniform one passed down from an
authority in hierarchy, within which we are supposed to find our
designated place, sorted and sifted by various forms of training and
I firmly believe that when we create and fully embrace
our own stories, and our own meanings, we are then on the way to being
the most personally responsible for ourselves that we can be for the
world we create and inhabit.
On the other hand, institutionalism
appears to me to be about systematically creating a sense that we are
individually trivial, meaningless persons, and that our importance is
only enhanced if we willingly ignore and actually abandon the creation
of our own stories and take on the story the institutions want us to
absorb as if those stories were actually of ourselves. This takes place
on many levels. Many actually willingly participate in the very doing
of it. For one thing, it has many alluring advantages, including the
psychological escape from the deep guilt that goes with being
personally responsible for ourselves and our actions. That’s of course
assuming one isn’t a psychopath or a sociopath to begin with. With that
release comes the very ability to practice psychopathology as our
institutions sometimes require it. Participating in the degradation or
destruction of our environment, the living beings in it, and even other
If you look closely at all the elements of
professionalism that go into credentialism, the notion of there even
being experts who own knowledge the many passive "we" of humanity
don’t, it’s possible to see the very naked structure of that which is
designed to lure you from being and doing that which is the most
important to you, and the most personal.
following from an interview with Jacques Ellul:
From: The Treachery of Technology – Jacques Ellul
In the whole of our technological society the work is so fragmented and broken up into small pieces that no one is responsible.
But no one is free either.
Everyone has his own, specific task. And that’s all he has to do.
consider, for example, that atrocious excuse. It was one of the most
horrible things I have ever heard. The person in charge of the
concentration camp, Bergen Belsen, was asked — during the Auschwitz
trial, the Nuremburg trials regarding Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson: But
didn’t you find it horrible? All those corpses?
He replied: What
could I do? The capacity of the ovens was too small. I couldn’t process
all those corpses. It caused me many problems. I had no time to think
about those people. I was too busy with that technical problem of my
That was the classic example of the irresponsible person.
He carries out his technical task and he’s not interested in anything
Technology will not tolerate any judgment being passed on
it. Or rather: Technologists do not easily tolerate people expressing
an ethical or moral judgment on what they do.
the expression of ethical, moral and spiritual judgments is actually
the highest freedom of mankind. So I am robbed of my highest freedom.
whatever I say about technology and the technologists themselves is of
no importance to them. It won’t deter them from what they are doing.
They are now set in their course. They are so conditioned. For a
technologist is not free. He is conditioned. By his training, by his
experiences and by the objective which he must reach. He is not free in
the execution of his task. He does what technology demands of him.
That’s why I think freedom and technology contradict one another.
Jacques notes, with our personal stories, we express our ethical, moral
and spiritual judgments about the world we create for ourselves with
those stories. If we are "robbed" of those stories in any way, we are
robbed of our highest freedom.
My big plan — thinking those words suddenly reminds me of that scene in The Peacemaker
when Nicole Kidman yells at George Clooney: "This is your big plan??!!" while he’s smacking some bureaucrat
in the nose and wrapping him to his chair with duct tape. Yup, this is my big plan — anyway, my big plan when I finally
escaped high school with my "credentials" was to take my knapsack and
travel through Europe. Some whacked out Democrats decided to amp up the
commie scare in Asia before the "red" hoard started across the Pacific
in their canoes to swarm our shores. And so they needed some
"con"scripts (another commodification term if you think of selling with
the notion of "con"ning someone). ‘Cause I don’t think most of us kids
really saw the threat.
I tell you what. Mostly when you are
about eighteen or so, and about all you’ve done is read a lot of
literature instead of wasting your time on your school studies, and
you’ve lived cloistered on a farm where you have a lot of experiential
learning, most of it in the realm of self actuating your own problem
solving, like how do you get this old tractor to run so you can get the
hay out of the field before that line of thunderstorms opens up and
ruins it?, you tend to be pretty naive about how institutions actually
work. School was just some kind of prison that got in the way of my
daily activities — like riding my horse and exploring with my dog,
taking care of animals, growing and harvesting crops — and I knew this
curse of school would end about the time I could consider myself a full
fledged human being and do what I want. A big problem with doing what
one wants is money, and how to get it. That much I’d figured out. I
actually had no idea what I knew or what value it was to anyone at that
I was not a happy camper from day one in boot camp. I had
some very serious and viscerally based problems with authority figures,
so they were coming out of a realm of my being I had not yet
articulated. And I met my worst nightmare face to face, so I’ll never
fear it again… Oh, what was that? No, not my own death, that’s not
the worst. It’s a sociopath in charge. An officer. Ratchet to another
institution, it’s a middle manager.
These are not things you
have to intellectually decide for yourself from an idea. These are
things you have to figure out based on who you discover yourself to be
from the depths of your being in existential crisis, a description
you’ll maybe be lucky enough to learn later if you survive the first