The Teaching Machine.


Well-known member
Staff member
in reference to the bit about telly this is Wyndham Lewis

"when people are encouraged, as happens in a democratic society, to believe that they wish 'to express their personality,' the question at once arises as to what what their personality is. For the most part, if investigated, it would be rapidly found that they have none. So what would it be that they would eventually 'express'? And why have they been asked to express it? If they were subsequently watched in the act of 'expressing' their 'personality', it would be found that it was somebody else's personality they were expressing. If a hundred of them were observed 'expressing their personality', all together and at the same time, it would be found that they all 'expressed' this inalienable, mysterious 'personality' in the same way.... It would be a group personality that they were 'expressing' - a pattern imposed on them by means of education and the hypnotism cinema, wires and press."
"the truth is that such an individual is induced to 'express his personality' because it is desired absolutely to standardise him and get him to rub off (in the process of the 'expression') any rough edges that might remain from his untaught, spontaneous days... he must in the contemporary world submit himself to one of several mechanical socially organised rhythms. There is really less choice every day: the number of group personalities available, of course, diminishes just as the number of newspapers decreases."


Well-known member
It may sound like a bizarre claim at first, but pretty much every sitcom follows a plot something along the lines of: character has bad idea, character debates whether to do it, character does bad idea, idea seems to succeed at first, idea ultimately fails miserably, character is in trouble, character gets bailed out by someone who loves them, character learns their lesson. Virtually every sitcom episode demonstrates a moral lesson in their A-plot. (B plots and C plots are more often just gags though.)
One theory about minds and intelligence is that it's all about prediction: if you know what will happen if you do X vs doing Y, you can choose the best of possible futures (for your own survival). If you can predict a lion coming toward you is bad news, and predict that running away will be a better future than staying put, you out-survive and out-reproduce (outcompete) other species who can't do the predictive work as well.

In this frame, repeatedly exposing people to narrative plots where certain outcomes result from certain behaviors is the most effective way to train people. You're shaping their whole sense of how the world works


Well-known member
in reference to the bit about telly this is Wyndham Lewis
Yes! the walt whitman myth of personal authenticity obscuring the reality of social conditioning. the way that you aren't born with "values"; values are what emerge from contact with the ground, experience (first- or second-hand, a la sitcoms) of different situations leading to personal preferences. other people's preferences informing your own, "oh, I guess that's a bad thing!"


Who loves ya, baby?
Instead of a disciplinary society that tells us no, the post-industrial west tells us yes, encouraging us to consume, to post and retweet, to become a better version of ourselves, and to find freedom through capital.
Han's point is that this type of freedom demand's that we always be productive. We have to always be working to improve ourselves, which means we 1, treat the self like an investment rather than a self, 2, we can never stop improving. Rest, relaxation, contemplation, and reflection become character vices. Essentially capitalist choice tricks us into oppressing ourselves.
Zizek always talks about this from a psychoanalytic angle, e.g. instead of enjoyment being officially prohibited under a traditional conservative "father", constant enjoyment is now not only permitted but imperative - which is in a sense more oppressive because prohibition absolves the individual from not enjoying or not fully enjoying (it's the fathers fault!), whereas the permissive regime makes it the individuals moral fault if they don't fully enjoy (you have the freedom to enjoy, why aren't you achieving maximum enjoyment, is something wrong with you?).


Well-known member
the subtler strategy of

symbolizing your political enemies not

with an evil but with a cringe-worthy

mascot works because it connects with a

wide audience in an intense emotional

way most people have a primal terror of

becoming the target of public ridicule

and if someone has been made a

laughingstock it's much safer to take

the side of the people doing the

laughing than it is to risk being

laughed at yourself to be cringe is not

to be in on the joke because people

crave acceptance and dread rejection I

think one reason we're so fascinated by

cringe content is that our brains want

us to learn how to avoid being laughed

at when we see a mob of people whether

in person or online laughing at someone

in ridiculing them we register an

emotional memory of it as a warning

don't act like that or people will laugh

at you this is a powerful tool for

anyone who wants to control human

behavior it's why public humiliation has

in many societies been a punishment for

criminals you see a person in the stocks

in the pillory at the whipping post you

see the mob jeering and throwing rotten

vegetables and it sends a powerful

message don't do whatever that guy did

constant escape

winter withered, warm
What I've seen from ContraPoints has been surprisingly sharp. Its respectable, making such nuanced points and still retaining a popular appeal.


Well-known member
thinking about how people recognize a behavior, and then turn it into part of a typecast/stereotype ("trope-ify it"). this kind of recognition/legibility leads to avoidance of the behavior. conditioning.


Well-known member
Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.


Well-known member
Staff member
thinking about how people recognize a behavior, and then turn it into part of a typecast/stereotype ("trope-ify it"). this kind of recognition/legibility leads to avoidance of the behavior. conditioning.
theres a reverse of this where people cant claim any behaviour as authentic and everything they do feels like a quotation and a cliche