Thursday, March 16, 2023

what if we're using the wrong metaphor?

I don't claim to understand everything Tim Pool is talking about in the video below, which is about the slew of bank collapses and imminent collapses happening not just in America but also in places like Europe. Take some time to watch the video below, and note that Pool arrives at a conclusion that a lot of other people are arriving at: the government's solution to the bank-collapse problem sure looks a lot like the nationalization of banks—to say nothing of nationalizing the rest of the economy. If the situation does devolve into, as Pool puts it, a "total command economy," we're fucked. We're snowed under with debt already, and we're going to adopt the Chinese model to bail ourselves out? That's a laugh.

As I was watching Tim's video, though, I had another thought: what if we've been using the wrong metaphor all this time? People talk about how networked the whole world is at this point, and people say that a distributed network is better than a centralized system because a network has many nodes. Hit one part of the network, like taking scissors to one part of a spiderweb, and the entire network remains. It doesn't collapse. So that's the advantage of a network. Unlike a centralized system, where you can cut off the head of the snake and destroy the snake, if you hit a network, the network remains strong. That's the current metaphor: scissors snipping part of the web won't take out the web.

But here's a different metaphor using that same spiderweb image: pluck one part of the web, and the whole web vibrates. The vibratory metaphor has been around since forever. It's often used in philosophical or religious discussions of intercausality or interconnection. But as a way of explaining certain global phenomena, it may be a more apt metaphor than the "many nodes" image. Look at the pandemic. It starts in China, then immediately spreads out to the whole world thanks to our being networked. Pluck one part, and the whole web vibrates. Look at the current bank collapses. This isn't just in America: Europe is having problems, too, and this is likely to spread. Pluck one part, and the whole thing vibrates.

So I'm convinced that the vibratory metaphor is better at explaining global repercussions than the "network remains strong" metaphor. Which only makes me wonder, after a global pandemic and what seems to be the beginning of a global banking collapse, what's the next thing to vibrate the web? And how many hits can the world take before we all find ourselves on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, holding on for dear life?

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