1.24.2004

CONFUSCATION

Confuscate. v. To confuse or confiscate one’s own and/or another’s intellect by logical fallacies and word tricks--by accident or by design--which may be done out of fear for learning that the confuscation is nothing but a mask for nothing. Usually, though, the knot of confuscation bears threads of truth and untruth and/or half-truths. Confuscators, those who confuscate, often toss these knots aside as too Gordian or simplistically slice through them with swords.

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EXAMPLE 1: Miss Tery

Miss Tery is a mystery, shrouding herself in the mist of non-identity. She is an artist. She dates a scientist in the hope of confuscating his intellect triumphantly. She firmly believes in applying the electron’s uncertainty of position to her own personality. The unexamined life is the only life worth living... for if we come to understand it, we may learn that it is empty posturing. When her boyfriend learns she likes the taste and texture of avocadoes, she immediately becomes allergic to them--disgusting little mushy things.

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EXAMPLE 2: The Rise and Fall of Car Manufacturers

Since the dawning of the automobile, car manufacturers have long sought to confuscate auto-auto-repair or do-it-yourselfers through making engines unnecessarily complex. In 2100 A.D. car manufacturers learned that even mechanics (replaced by robots several decades earlier) could not repair an engine once it had broken down. Manufacturers cheered: mo’ money, mo’ money! Users had to purchase new biodegradable vehicles every three months. A car manufacturer from Fjordsyler was voted World Governor in 2102; by 2103, however, the booming industry’s bottom fell out. Cars came off the line totally non-functional. No one knew how to put the pieces back together again. But people were bicycling to work by then anyway.

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EXAMPLE 3: Congressman El Infante and Congressman Don Qui Jote

Siamese twins physically separated at birth in a rural hospital in San Antonio, El and Don jokingly referred to the other as his “evil twin.” Though they grew up witnessing the same movies, records, girls and Daffy Duck cartoons, each interpreted these events in a wholly different manner, initially, to confuscate their parents. After awhile, however, they believed their own confuscations.

During their teenage years, their views were viewed by outsiders as hodge-podge, so in an effort to win the largest group of friends, the two became politically active. They discovered two camps of arbitrary disagreements already established in the Republicans and Democrats. It was a perfect arrangement--the first of two agreements in their lifetimes--for every issue each could own and operate a different set of principles and never have to listen to the lies of their opponents ever again.

They went to law school: Don became a defense attorney, El a prosecutor. The issue of guilt or innocence was always immaterial. The object of the game was to win the most cases through the tampering of witnesses and evidence, twisting appearances into non-appearances and vice-versa. If one could sneak a few misleading clues nonchalantly in with the truth, one could buffalo any jury. The lawyer with the best bullshit wins!

Getting involved in legislation, El and Don further learned the importance of confuscation. Each attempted to package together a hundred different bills without rhyme or reason, apart from appealing to their voter base, come election year.

In October of an election year, the boys ran against one another. Since guns are a big issue in Texas (what isn’t big in Texas?), they argued guns on the debate panel televised on the local public channel. El refused to acknowledge that criminals use guns, and Don refused to acknowledge peaceful citizens use guns. The gun-toters cheered El and booed Don, and the gun-haters cheered Don and booed El. A timid hand in the audience rose to inquire whether Don and El might agree on any views so that legislation to that effect could be passed. The timid hand was immediately stoned, and Don and El agreed that their audience had done right--after all, they would hate to lose their voters.

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EXAMPLE 4: Religion, Atheism, Pseudo-science, and other half-baked Philosophies

All arguments concluding for or against God argue on the assumption of existence or non-existence, respectively. This is achieved fairly easily. One tosses in all the things one loathes about the opposite camp and concludes in favor of his own. To argue properly, insist on never understanding your opponent.

Pseudo-science is less confrontational. Usually it involves a small dose of science and adding as many logical fallacies as possible to obtain the wildest conclusions: since science has not disproved the use of magnetic suppositories to cure anal cancer, it must work!

If you’re really tricky, question the foundation of knowing anything, so that you can conclude whatever you want (never mind the self-inconsistency).

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EXAMPLES 5 A, B, and C: Literature

Kurt Vonnegut used to tell his writer protégés, if they were struggling with their stories, what was wrong with their efforts: “There’s no Iago.” Iago may be the greatest literary confuscator. He represents the majority of a story arc: the knotting or raveling or complication of the confuscation leads to the unknotting or unraveling or the de-confuscation. Other knots may remain untangled, but the central knot of the story has been proved capable of an imminent denouement, allowing people a glimpse of untying the knots of their own lives.

Some story confuscations leave the deconfuscating up to the reader, but these are difficult and require the confuscation to hold all the tools and directions necessary to deconfuscating the story.

A. Attorneys were named after the first and perhaps best-known confuscator: The accuser. He slithered (although some literary historians claim he did not pick up this habit until later in life) along a garden path and admired the finest pomegranate tree he’d ever tasted the air of. Some big dude was telling this couple to eat anything they wanted except the pomegranate of knowledge tree. Oh, brother, the accuser hissed to himself, what melodrama.

He cornered the dame to set her straight: “Lissen here, sssweet sssister. You shall not ‘surely,’” here the accuser mocked the big dude’s reverberating bass tone, “die.”

“Really?” she asked, wide-eyed at those luscious-looking pomegranates.

“Nah.” He muttered under his breath, well, at least not immediately. “He juss said that because it’d make you juss like him.* He hass to be ssso sssuperior.”

“I would like to be smart.”

“Wouldn’t we all?” the accuser said before slithering away.

* The accuser used mental telepathy to convey the following addendum (was it his fault if she didn’t use her latent psi powers?): big dude knows good and evil, so you’d get to know good and evil, too--you lucky dog!

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B. William Blake invited the accuser over for tea one autumn afternoon to hear some of the accuser’s favorite proverbs. Since the lemon biscuits were absolutely divine, the accuser shared his philosophy of life:

“Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.

“From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.

“Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.”

“Oh, bravo!” Blake clapped politely. “More tea? So how did Evil become active and Good passive?”

“Shut up. I’m confuscating.” The accuser sipped, thinking. “Good is passive because those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.

“And being restrained it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”

Blake thought of asking a question about reversing the accuser’s proposition but restrained the desire.

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C. Snow Crash is one of the trickier confuscation-deconfuscation plots. It involves Hiro deconfuscating the L. Bob Rife’s confuscation of the minds of hackers and religious fanatics, but Hiro deconfuscates through pseudo-science or an additional layer of confuscation: out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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