Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — finding feedback loops in blindspots, truths in symbols, strength in ideas ]

photo credit: Mobile News UK


It is in the nature of analogical thinking that it moves sideways, or more precisely, in honeycomb fashion, rather than forwards — and so it is that my just completed post It’s an abomination! leads me to two other considerations:


My first is to compare the situation of the Pakistani gentleman preparing and selling flags for burning

The man who dominates much of the supply chain of American flags to religious groups, 30-year-old Mamoon-ur-Rasheed – who’s been publishing anti-American placards and hand-made stars and stripes since his school days, when he was angered by the Clinton administration’s sanctions on Pakistan following its nuclear weapons testing in 1998 – is now remarkably dispassionate about his services, as well as about the short shelf-life of his flammable goods.

“We work hard for our product, and we get paid for our product,” says Rasheed, clad in a camouflage baseball cap and seated behind a desk that takes up most of the space in his eight-by-six-foot office in Gulashan-e-Iqbal, one of the city’s oldest working class neighborhood.

“So what if it burns? The purpose of the flag is to last for an hour. It’s unfortunate, but if the demand is for an hour, then the supplier must meet such demand too,” he says.

– with the no less entrepreneurial fellows in Cambodia who capture birds for the express purpose of selling them to those who wish to set them free:

Merit release — procuring animals that are about to be slaughtered and releasing them back into the wild — is a tradition practiced, to different degrees, by various Buddhist groups each year. It sounds like a good — and yes, meritorious — idea, but you might want to think twice before trying it. Why?

Well, as Conservation Magazine reports, hundreds of thousands of birds are caught in Asia each year just so they can be bought for merit release, putting them through the unnecessary stress of catching them just to be set free again. But there’s more. Many of these birds are infected with avian flu virus and other pathogens, and they can infect other birds, animals and people when they’re released. According to the study, published in Biological Conservation, 10 percent of the Cambodian birds the researchers tested were infected with avian influenza. “The presence of pathogenic viruses and bacteria among birds available for merit release is a concern both to wild bird populations and to humans involved in the trade,” the authors write.

The lesson here being that there are always more things going on than catch the eye, and that feedback loops in your blindspots are liable to getcha


My second is to compare Coleridge‘s observation about symbols:

On the other hand, a Symbol is characterized by a translucence of the Special in the Individual or of the General in the Especial or of the Universal in the General. Above all by the translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal. It always partakes of the Reality it renders intelligible; and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part in that Unity, of which it is the representative.

with the quote from Anais Nin that I referenced recently in relationship with Marisa Urgo‘s comment on Zawahiri:

The personal, if it is deep enough, becomes universal, mythical, symbolic…

And here the moral is that words can at times cut deeper than sticks and stones — in the words of that 2006 National Strategy for CT I just quoted, that winning the War on Terror means winning the battle of ideas — or as another poet, Muriel Rukeyser famously put it, that:

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.