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Uncultured Swine
Uncultured Swine

Episode · 7 months ago

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The classic moral philosophy problem in the form of a short story! Or that's the popular perception anyway; GSV examines that reading, and Johnny presents a less popular one with more Cultural undertones as they examine Ursula K. Le Guine's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."

https://blog.jaibot.com/the-copenhagen-interpretation-of-ethics/ 

https://www.sfu.ca/~palys/Miner-1956-BodyRitualAmongTheNacirema.pdf 

A huge thanks to Terminal Khaos Builders for providing all music used in this episode! Our opening theme is "Oh, they never lie," off the album "12 Views of Iain M. Banks's Culture." Check out their music here: https://terminalkhaosbuilders.bandcamp.com/music

Come chat with us on our discord ( https://discord.gg/5RweN4Z ) 

Hi, this is editing GSV here. I knowthat we're long overdue on one of these and we're very sorry, I'm also sorryfor my own audio quality in this one. It shouldn't recur since I figured outthat it wasn't using the mice I'm accustomed to and that you all know andlove, or at least that I know I love, but this episode was fun to make and wehope it's worth to wait for. You enjoy yourselves an welcome tonon episode of weuncultured swine, the podcast, where this time around, we will not be takingyou through the wonderful worlds of enm banks as culture series or, indeedanything remotely. Well. Actually, it is remotely like them if you are not apatriom subscriber- and you are listening to this episode- then welcometo the future where we release this episode, because we didn't care to keepit for only the patrion subscribers and also didn't care to edit it such thatit doesn't say patrionon subscribers in the intro yeah. If you're listening tothis, it's because we got permission from our PATRION supporters to releaseit for general consumption, as we did with the eye of our gon, which, to mygreat surprise, might be the most popular thing that we've ever done. Yes, as we record this now, the eye ofour gon has more listend than any of our other stuff, which is great on some level, becauseit was a really fun thing to record, but also on some level is disappointing.Yes, it implies a lack of interest. In our other content, though, it isperhaps just a lack of accessibility, since anyone can listen to the eye ofour gon episode and indeed it might get shared around by people who enjoy it,but the rest of our work kind of expects you to be listening from thebeginning of the PODCAST, which is a barrier to intree. I was thinking thatas well. You can sort of Hass around the IOF, our gon, recording or link toit to people who have no exposure to the rest of the podcast in a way thatis definitely not possible for any of our other content. So thank you to allof our listeners who have apparently been sharing the eye of our gone withpeople who don't otherwise listen to our podcast, I'm GSV and we're heretonight to give you a discussion of Ursula Cala, glynns short story, afamous one with some culture adjacent themes, the ones who walk away fromOmalas. Yes. So in the unlikely event that youhave no familiarity with this story, because this one has such deep culturalpenetration that I feel like, even if you haven't read it, you're, probablyfamiliar with the general idea, these sort of broad strokes of this, whichcan be given pretty easily because it's four pages long are there is a citycalled Omalas everyone. There is very happy the reasons why we'll get into,but in exchange, for their happiness in some sort of alchemical bargain ofgititude. They maintain their happiness through the suffering of a forsaken andabused child, and if it were not for that child, it is said that theircivilization would not work. Their city would not be able to function in theway that it does, if not for the suffering of that abused child. That'sa fair summaryjohnin and there are some other details to how things work andsome other social implications of this whole setup, but will get to those asthey come up. diagetically yeah. So if you have to describe how this hascaptured the imagination of readers and how this story is discussed, what wouldyou say that the big question and the big conundrum generally is? Is this actually acceptable and why that's definitely one of them? I thinka question often asked is: Is it right to walk away from overlas and do youhave an obligation to, and is it useful to? Yes, those are betterquestions. The first question is the one that everybody asks the first timethey read it and if you have the median ethics in theworld that we live in, it's probably the only one that you ask buttherethose those other questions are more interesting and better right. Sothe concept here is one of consequentialist ethics versusnonconsequentialist ethics. To a certain extent, it's by being in Omlas,you could be said to be participating in a system that works because itallows for evil, and you can choose to opt out of that system and leave. Butif you do that, you're not actually doing anything to help the child, andif you do something to help the child, you also put yourself at the risk ofdestroying the system and making...

...everyone comparably miserable to thechild, one assumes, or at least causing enough misery that it's not aworthwhile proposition. So if you are a nonconsequentialist absolute moralperson, then you must walk away from Omalass, because it's the only choiceyou have that lets. You avoid participating in a system that allowsand thrives on evil hat it's the only actually. I was looking for how onearth I would bring this up in the episode, but have you read theCopenhagen interpretation of ethics? It sounds familiar, but I don't recall it.It was recently discussed on a discord that we both participate in, but it'san essay by. Are you thinking of the Newtonian conception of ethics? No,this is a recent thing. Well, not RECO. Several years old, written by Jdonni,who's, kind of a big deal in rationalist effect, a outourist circlesand the tagline of Jays blog reads up the top. Almost no one is evil. Almosteverything is broken, which, if you had to distil effective alturist attitudesdown to ten words or less. I honestly don't know how you do it better, butthe COPANHAGGEN interpretation of ethics says to quote directly from thessay that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can beblamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more, evenif you don't make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better.The ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe itplaying off of the Cobon higgin interpretation of Quatu mechanics where,by some sort of cosmic Vudo, the act of a human observing, the particleactually influences its behavior, and if you listeners are not familiarwith the sort of thing that this is referring to think of examples. Wheresay someone does a mild act for charity and is then immediately beset upon fordoing it in a suboptimal way or doing it for arguably self serving reasonswhen those who are doing nothing are not equally beset upon for their Parton,not solving the problem. The fact that you have engaged with the problem putsyou under additional scrutiny in the eyes of some people. I can't find theexact quote right this second, but an additional component of thisinterpretation of ethics is that, regardless of whether you're benefitingfrom a problem actually impact the problem in any way your a monster forbenefiting from a problem- and that specifically seems to be the attitude-that's in play a lot when people think about this contrasting that you have a moreconsequentialist ethical system, which tends to say that Omaloss is a greatdeal you have. However, many people are in the city, whether it's hundreds ofthousands or maybe millions, depending on what kind of city this is, but theyare all happy and lead happy, fulfilling effective lives and alsocommit various secular feats of engineering and science and so forththat are mentioned and for the suffering of one person. That'sa pretty good deal. And furthermore, if you are to walk away from Omilas, thenyou don't help the child and you don't help yourself so you're, justintroducing needless suffering, unless of course, the moral burden that youfeel, for whatever inherent reasons of your own psychology is so great thatyou would be nothing but miserable and Omeloss. Indeed, I have a bit more respect wellwell get to exactly how people in the universit eal with this problem. Butyes, basically omoloss is at Utopia. That depends on a very emotionallyimpactful and continuous mass of suffering in order to continue itsexistence, and I think that's enough set up for us to talk about the storyitself. Sure just one thing I would like to saybefore we hop into it is that while that question is, I think what hascaptured the imagination? I don't actually think it's what the story istrying to talk about, and I think the story is trying to say somethingcompletely different. That sounds like a very good thing for you to expand onwhen we get there. Certainly so we start with a description in the storyof the festival of summer, which is a thing that Omalas has omolossesdescribed in general as a very secular but very ritual driven group. It ismentioned specifically that, while there are a lot of variant features inOmloss, there are definitely no clergy, there may be churches, but no clergyand the festival of summer seems like a secular sort of celebration, whichapparently appeals to horses just as much as people. Yes quote the Horsebeing the only animal which has adopted our ceremonies as his own in referenceto the fact that horses show up in the parade not sure if this implies thatthe narrator means that the horses have...

...adopted, the ceremonies of Omalas orjust the horses have adopted the ceremonies of humans, given that welater find out that the narrator is not an Omilasian but an outsider to Omelas.I feel like it makes more sense that he's just saying that horses canappreciate human ceremon. I was about to ask about that. It wasn't clear tome in my read for this episode, so this is actually a story. Once that, I thinkyou read ahead of me so if it weren't for the fact that we're covering thewhole story at once, you'd be in the guiding role here. Ah, but it was notclear to me on the read I did for this episode that the narrator was an Omelenand it seems that that's definitely not the case. No, no they're, definitely anoutsider to own the loss, because let me see if I can find a specific line.There's lines like quote: I do not know the rules and laws of their society,but I suspect they were singularly few, which indicates that he knows of Omalasbut did not live there or know them very well, so he's familiar with them,but not a native. I say he. I was trying to very deliberately not do thatwith theiriter, because the author is female, a d. The narrator is nonspecific yeah, there's nothing about the narration that gives sex to thenarrator yeah, except perhaps the UNMIANS themselves. It's terrible fun, nothing about that!Actually matters to the story, but it does provide some interesting contextfor the very end of the story which I'll bring up again when we get there.Yes, yeah we get an astonishingly detailed idid. The imagery of the ofthe summer festival is just lovely. It is good imagery, but there's somethingI wish to point out about the imagery and about the the way that omen loss is described,which is that it is very nonspecific. Narrator, says quote, for instance, howabout technology. I think there would be no cars, our helicopters in andabove the streets that phrase there. I think evokes to me that the narrator isnot really all that familiar with Omolas or that we are so. The narrator is talking to somebody.The way that the text is written makes it clear that they know they arespeaking to an audience and they have certain expectations about what theaudience expects from them. With phrases like. I think- and I do notknow the rules and laws of their society that sort of thing. It impliesto me that onllosses Eiser something that they are familiar with, but didnot have a great amount of contact with or something that we are meat to seethem as making, as just an example, fair. The way that you discussed thatkind of brought it back up for me since I lost this strand of thought, whiletalking before the single most surprising thing about Omolos at thispoint is that it seems to based on the fact that it has a train station thatconnects to the rest of the world. It seems to somehow exist, despite beingcompletely surrounded by a civilization that definitely does not work. This waylike Shangrela, except you can actually go there easily. Well, don't say thatthey do have trains. The line is not that they do. The line is quote, theycould perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washingmachines and all kinds of marvellous devices not yet invented here floatinglight sources. Fuel is power cure for the common cold or they could have noneof that. It doesn't matter. So when the narrator describes they have a trainstation. It's a hypothetical train station, they say imagine a trainstation if it makes this easier for you to understand. Okay, note to futureversions of GSF pay, significantly more attention or stop holding to the readthings once rule. Well, I only read this so closelybecause I have a thesis this time. Okay, well, do bring that one up when we getto it. I like that the narrator specifically averts all of the tropes,that you would be tempted to assume or and play here and very explicitly. YetI repeat that these were not simple folks, not Dulcet, shepherds, noble,savages, Bland Utopians. They were not less complex than us. The trouble isthat we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates ofconsidering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain isintellectual, only evil. Interesting, yes, and when we get to the thesis,that's going to be a very important thing, but continuing onwards as Omausis described, the narrator describes it once again in vague terms, making clearthat the details of the city regarding its physical nature is not as importantas the thing is that the narrator wants to express are definitely true aboutthe city, which is the demeanor of its...

...citizens and the things they do anddon't believe in. So the definite points are the Omolasians are trulyhappy. They are satisfied, they have a complex culture, but they are nonetheless much better off than the narrator expects the readers to be, butalso that quote. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt and alsothat there are no clergy in Omalas. There may be religion, but no clergy,fair, a lot of their actual conduct, as you say, is kind of left to thereader's imagination. I fear that Omalav so far strikes. Someof you is goody. Goody, smiles bells parades, horses yeah. If so, please addan orgy. If ord you would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, havetemples from which issue beautiful nude priests and priestesses, already halfin ecstasy and ready to copulate, with any man or woman lover or stranger, whodesires union with the deep godhead of the blood. Although that was my firstidea, as you say, the narrator clearly isn'tthat familiar with the place, but they clearly feel and as we read, I thinkcorrectly, that they have the essence down, and I don't know what that's likelike. What does that? Well, that's the other thing. I didn't notice thee,although that was my first idea, but there is a point I believe later inthat same paragraph where the narrator is talking about whether or not thepeople of omalas would have access to intoxican drugs, and they say quote, Ithought at first there were not drugs, but that is puritanical for those who,like it, the faint insistent sweetness of drews may perfume the ways of thecity drews, which first brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mindsand limbs and then, after some hours, a dream of languer and wonderful visionsat the last of the very Arcana and inmost secrets of the universe, as wellas exciting the pleasures of sex beyond belief, and it dos not habit for MiG,so yeah magical best drug. That does all the drug things. But I don't thinkthey're talking about anything. I know, but it sounds like something that wouldbecome up with in that vein. But the important thing here being that thosetwo lions say to me that the narrator is just positing a thought, experimentand the narrator knows they are positing a thought experiment, becausein two cases here they just say I had thought that the city would belike this, but then it occurred to me it would be more proper for it to belike this. So thought, experiment or maybe thing that the narrator knowsfrom stories. So omalas could be a story that already exists in this world.All right, speaking of thought, experiments. How do you feel aboutestablishing that? Even the people who throw money out of us are not safe fromthe occasional nerd tangent, I think that's been well established orI have orgone episode, had a long tentient about Indiashbronskys sexliterature, but YEU didn't edit that out of course not okay yeah. I stillhaven't gotten around to do that, one, but one of the people who this episodeis being made for as actually expressed interest in being the second voicealready, so I feelike should get around to that exciting. So the actual tangent,though the way that drews is described like basically the greatest drug everwith series of highly desirable narcotic effects and then also nodictive tendencies reminded me of a thought, experiment or parathotexperiments that I developed probably two years ago at this point in order totest for how common a particular strain of moral belief was that I really donot understand and I'm going to describe these to you and then I wantyou to tell me what you think, I'm feeling for ith these okay. Sooriginally there were three experiments, but I've forgotten what the third onewas: okay, phease, take the form of magic pills, pill number one costs fivedollars: You can get it from a venting machine anywhere and taking it oncerenders you permanently incapable of contracting or transmitting anystd, andalso negates the possibility of pregnancy resulting from any sex act inwhich you participate. Unless you have consciously opted into that possibilityat the beginning of the act, and also that everyone else has just ignore, just assume that whateverno, how that would work it just works, assume yes, assume whatever magic. Thisrequires is accomplished. Sure Hill number two is a recreational drug withall of the same psychoactive effects as heroine, but it produces no tolerance,no compulsion to redose, in the specific sense that drugs producecompulsion to Redos, where people who are already high and have access tomore are more or less likely to take it right and the neprotoxic respiratory,depressant and emetic effects of heroin have all been removed so that it ispossible neither chronically nor acutely to die for using it. Okay andalso know wit's droll symptoms, if I didn't say that already sure. So, thequestion for each of these is adding...

...them directly into the modern worldtomorrow, a good or a bad thing. So what I imagine that you're probingfor there is to get at whether people see a distinction between differentkinds of seeking pleasure for pleasure sake. So if Kay Hypothetical PersonSays No to both of them, then they probably think that there is aharmfulness to cheap pleasure that can be acquired without consequence andthat the negative effects of both extreme happiness, drugs and sex are inSumpson a good thing, because they align people's incentives more properlytowards the seriousness of those undertakings. If they say yes to both,then they are coherently pro pleasure in a simple, heathanism orutilitarianism kind of way, if they say no to one and yes to the other, thenthat is indicative of some hangup about either sex being immoral or druginduced happiness being immoral. Okay, these are actually going after the samething. The thing that they're trying to test for Yo- U you're close to the mark,based on the way that the acceptability of the various pleasures enters thediscussion, but they are tasting for the same thing, which is- and Iapologize that at least one of our patrons is definitely participated inthis conversation already. The other two I don't think have so this is, fortheir benefit to figure out how many people actually buy into this specificstrain of just world fallacy thinking where immoral things are supposed tohave negative consequences and things that have negative consequences areimmoral, basically to figure out Bor, how many people the interaction of badconsequences, with the more abstract concept of sin, for how many people-that's actually a thing so yeah. If you think sex is immoral regardless of itsconsequences, then it is coherent that you would want to keep the consequencesso that it keeps not happening or so that it happens less. And if you thinkthat drugs are more regardless of the consequences, then it is coherent thatyou would want to keep the bad consequences of drugs so that drugs aredone less yeah, that there is something wrong with getting rid of badconsequences for things that are immoral. I think it's slightly morecomplicated than that, because I do think that there can be a coherentworld view of cheap pleasure makes other types of interesting andaesthetically preferable things less likely to be enjoyed. So if you enjoyother types of aesthetically interesting pleasure, then you may wantless access to cheap and easy pleasure in the form of super heroin, and inthat case that may be coherent, even if it is shall we say a bitauthoritaryenof you to make that choice for others. I'm prepared to accept,because after discussing these with people, I trust I'm inclined to say that one is an unqualified good.The Perfect Birth Control and STD immunity and the infinite edible Lotusmight not be a good thing, not completely a good thing. Yeah, I'm notcompletely sold on it, but there is an actual argument to be made that I canunderstand and describe about how a sufficient ratio of pleasure to theeffort required to achieve it can become a hedonic trap. Yes, there'ssort of a laugher curve type thing where a certain amount of pleasure at acertain amount of cheapness makes your society crumble, yeah, I'm now leaningand one is obviously good, but I'm no longer as convinced as I was when Icreated the experiment that to is good. So what is the relatedness of this ideato the story at hand? The way that drews is described after all of thedesirable things about it are added in the world in which the listener livesand in which we live? We would expect most substances like this to be harmful,or at least addictive, but drews. You know it may not be chemically adetective, but I bet you anything, that's habit for me yeah, but the waythe description is set up and then also casually, and that is not habit forming,seems to be daring. The listener to come up with an objection fair enough honestly, I wasn't sure howI was going to tie that back to the story when we started so thinks. You'requite welcome a tangent by the way we're done so. The story continues. Wesee more about this procession, this sever festival, there's a child playinga flute and people are unraptured by the music. He is very artistic and thedescription sort of ins with and yes, everyone was happy and the narratorasks do you believe. Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No, then,let me describe one more thing, and...

...here we get the thing the interestingfit about Omalas, which is the child who suffers so the child's conditionsare, I would say, evocatively horrible. It'ssuffering well, not like any outlandish thumb. Screws iron, maiden kind oftorture is the kind of mistreatment born of neglect and cruelty. Thatstrikes me as uncomfortably plausible and painful yeah. You get the sense theway it's led into there's a very Charles Darwin thing, going on wherethis whole thing has been described and the precise point at which thenarrator's listener is going to ask. What's the catch is anticipated andthat's when they drop this, I haven't actually read Charles Darwin's writing.How is that like Charles Darwin's writing when he's writing aboutspecific components of his theory, he has this gift for figuring out whatobjections someone's going to have at exactly which points and exactly whenthis happens, he will break from his argument to specifically address theobjection that just popped into your mind sounds like a fun thing to read. Yes,he's quite good, most people don't know or think about this too much, but theorgion of species, while it's the one in which he delivered it as a coharenttheory does not present anything like the breadth of evidence on which hebased that conclusion, he wrote a bunch of books in the years before publishingit, one of them a very exhaustive adaptationist examination of the waysthat orkids have been altered to be fertilized by insect. If you already know he wrote originspecies, then it will be obvious. Why he's doing this? But at the time it wasjust a botanical treatise hm yeah. He was a naturalist, biologist observertype for a very long time before he came up with it, so that does makesense that his previous work would sort of be a build up to the theory. Yeah.If you have encountered those books. Reading origin of species has a reallystrong feeling that things are falling into place. It's a very aroddly satisfying kind ofthing. Well, continuing with the story, childs conditions yeah. We coulddescribe the child's conditions we could make quotations, but frankly, itmakes me mildly. Uncomfortable, it's a very unfortunate thing and it is, itmakes you uncomfortable. Do you want me to do it yeah sure? To summarise thischild in the basement of some building and Omolossit doesn't particularlymatter which one and it's not specified, but this child is locked in basically abroom closet, completely deprived of human contact and the comforts of thecity its intellect is stunted by underfeeding. It gets a half powl ofgrain and grease every day, and also it suffers the constant company of a pairof mops, of which it is viterally terrified it is mentioned, and I thinkworth mentioning, that the building it is in is one of the beautiful publicbuildings on the loss. So this is not a private affair. This is something thatthe city does it says, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spaciousprivate homes. Damn this time it was me yeah had that infrorm of me so that Icould do the sum ray properly. So I, in addition to all of that yeah the child,is very obviously suffering the only time that ever seas, another humanbeing is when someone shows up to passing that bowl of food and the flooris covered in its shit, which it sits in all day. I think that covers all ofthe major points yeah. In addition, from what we see later, the people ofTomalos are not allowed and never do say any kind words to it, or we say itby the way, because it's mentioned that this gender doesn't matter and it isgiven. No succor basically, is what we are described and at some point intheir lives every citizen of omolosgoes and sees this child yeah o importantpoint. The reason for nobody ever showing it any kind of kindness is thatthe God demon, bureaucrat whatever in charge of ensuring omolosses you topic,prosperity, one of its rules, is that nobody ever do this and it would ruinon the loss forever. If anyone did, where is that in the text, the terms are strict and absolute,there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child. Yes, but those arenot set forth by some outside entity. Those are the terms that the citizensof Omalasobay there's no indication in this story, that there is some demon ordeity or whatever that they are sacrificing this child to, and I thinkthat's an important distinction, a point: The way that it's set up ind theway that it's described in the previous paragraph does kind of suggest somesort of not fastion, but nevertheless supernatural bargainit work here. Someof them understand why and some do not,...

...but they all understand that theirhappiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships,the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill oftheir makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathersof their skies depend wholly on this child's abominable misery. Yes, but thefollowing paragraph then says this is usually explained to children, HenTheyre between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capable ofunderstanding thet. Most of those who come to see the child are young ofpeople, though often enough an adult comes or comes back to see the child,no matter how? Well, the matter has been explained to them. These youngspectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight they feeldiscussed, which they thought themselves superior to. They feel angeroutrage impotence. Despite all the explanations they would like to dosomething for the child, but there is nothing they can do if the child werebrought up into the sunlight out of that viale place if it was cleaned andfed and comforted. That would be a good thing indeed, but if it were done inthat day and hour, all the prosperity and beauty and delight of omaluss wouldwhither and be destroyed. There's the terms to exchange the goodness andgrace of every life and onlaws for that single small improvement, to throw awayto happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one thatwould be to that guilt within the walls. Indeed, so when it speaks of the terms there,it's saying that would be the terms you're accepting by helping the childis that you would help the child, and you would sacrifice everything else.Okay, it is not explicit that there is some sort of force enforcing this, buteveryone does seem to believe it and at some level the difference stops beingimportant. Yes, what I think they actually gained by having the child.That way, I think, is expressed at a later point. Yet it is their tears andanger, the trying of their generosity and the acceptance of theirhelplessness, which are perhaps the true source of splendor, of their lives.Theire's is no Vapid, irresponsible happiness. They know that they, likethe child, are not free. They know compassion, it is the existence of thechild and their knowledge of its existence, which makes possible thenobility of their architecture the poignancy of their music and theprofundity of their science. So this child is not being sacrificed to Moloch,just the fact that they know it's. There makes their lives more meaningful.Okay, that seems like kind of a sour grapes argument, except that it isn'tyour own suffering. So there's got to be another word for this, but I don'tknow what it is yeah, something like in comparison to the child. They realizethat their lives are worth living and must be worth living and that they mustdo something worthwhile, such that the benefit of their life outweighs thesuffering they cause to this child by living in a society like this, I have athought on the Utilitarian Calculus here, but I think it should wait untilwe actually finish the text which we have very little love left. What is thelast thing we learne about this society? The last thing we learn about thissociety is that there are some who cannot accept this arrangement and whoinstead choose to walk away from a moloss Hey. We finally got there in thelast line of the story. Indeed, the narrator describes this assomething well, they say now, do you believe in them? Are They not morecredible, but there is one more thing to tell, and this is quite incredibleand then they describe that there are some some of them children who firstlearn about it, some of them adult who come to have this feeling thateventually choose to just walk away from omalass quote they go on theyleave on us. They walk ahead into the darkness and they do not come back. Theplace. t they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us thanthe city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible thatit does not exist, but they seem to know where they are going, the ones whowalk away from Omeoss. That ends the story and, as with the opening, it's a very vivid,readily imaged conclusion to the story, and I guess I can sort of there's afacial expression. I associate with that last sentence. Thut. They seem to know where they'regoing, but I have hard time describing it. I would recognize it if I saw it,but it evokes to me like a blank emptiness of madness and acceptance,but perhaps a calm serenity of certitude in the rightness of theiractions is what Ismit to thou yeah there's the combination of extremecertitude and depressed clarity. But since this is not a visual mediumdescribing official expressions can only be so helpful. Yes, so now that we have finished, Ican get to what my thesis is regarding this story ship, I'm interested to seeif we agree yeah, I think that the famous problem of Omaas, the one whosuffers, is not actually something that the narrator believes to be true ornecessary, and that what the narrator is trying to do is show that a placethat does not have a suffering child...

...could still actually function andtrying to evoke that thought and feeling in an audience that they expectwould not inherently believe that. Okay, that's definitely not the spin on thisthat I took yeah. So let me give some ideas and some quotes from the text tosupport this. So the narrator is talking to an audience. They refer toquote some of you in the text, so they are talking and they know they aretalking to multiple people, people of a roughly contemporary set ofunderstandings and ideologies, because the technological references areapproximately modern technological references. So this isn't someonetalking to like ancient people. The narrator expresses concerns that we,the listeners, will not believe or understand them quote joyous. How isone to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of omelass quote, given adescription such as this one tends to make certain assumptions in particularthe narrator is concerned, how we'll interpret the story not just because oftheir failure to describe or our failure to understand, but specificallybecause we will have such cultural differences quote. The trouble is thatwe have a bad habit. Encouraged by PEDANS and sophisticates of consideringhappiness is something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil.Interesting. You mentiond that earlier, yes, and also quote, we have almostlost hold. We can no longer describe a happy man nor make any celebration ofjoy. How can I tell you about the people of Omelas, okay, and they saythis before they got to the point where they describe anything about the childor anything like that. It's also notable, as I mentioned earlier, thatthe narrator willingly changes details of the city to make things moreunderstandable to the reader. They do this over and over again, and I thinkwe are meant to see that the details they give are not necessarily supposedto be what they literally think is true about the city, but just what theythink will make the city most understandable to the reader. So quoteas you like it, I am CIING to think that people from towns up and down thecoast have been coming into Omalas during the last days before thefestival on very fast little trains and double decked trams, and that the trainstation of omaloss is actually the handsomest building in town, thoughplaner than the magnificent farmers market, but even granted trains. I fearOmala so far, strikes you as goody goody, so granted trained, they mighthave trains they might not. The details of the story can be changed to make theaudience understand it better. Once again, like the ad an orgy, if anorgywould help don't hesitate. This is a thing that the narrator is clearlywilling to do so after describing the city describing the happineshis of itspeople. Never mentioning any problems that the city might have. The narratorsays quote: Do you believe it do? You accept the festival, the city, the joy?No, then, let me describe one more thing and after this they go into thedescription of the child. So they say here: Okay, here's, my thesis, here'sthe city. Do you believe that? No you don't? I need to have something else tomake you understand this, and then they describe the child and the child isdescribed in such a way and the people described in such a way that, as Ithink, meant to evote condemnation in the readers or in the listeners, theidea that it should be obvious to the people of oeloss that they don'tactually need to do. This is what it's meant to evoke. The people of Omalasare described in a way that they are clearly rationalizing and explainingaway why they have to do this in a way that may be morally repugnant to somepeople, so quote, but as Tom goes on, they begin to realize that even if thechild could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom, a littlevague pleasure of warmth and food. No doubt, but little more, it is toodegraded an imbacile to know any real joy. It has been afraid too long toever be free of fear, and while that is somewhat true, certainly like, ifyou've been a paster of a very, very long time and it' suffering for yearsand years, then yes, that's going to have a major psychological effect onyou, even if you are suddenly in better conditions. So I thought I was going tobe offering an antithesis, but it turns out. We can mostly proceed to synthesishere. I will add one thing that I think will provide context for my slightTweik of your interpretation by any coherent utilitarian calculus, wherethe suffering is something that you actually weigh, rather than justgrandstanding, where you say this depends on suffering and these peoplebenefit from suffering and therefore they're all awful yeah by any coherentUSILITARIAN. Calculus Omolas is strictly superior to the world that youand I actually live in yeah. It delivers a higher standard of livingand with one person suffering instead...

...of as in our civilization, a lot ofthat being predicated on thousands of people. Yeah, so the take that I end upwith after hearing your look at it- and I think you gestured in this directionbut didn't say it outright. The narrator is speaking to a bunch ofpeople and saying here is a thing that is definitely better than what we livein. We have established that it is possible now there is one obvious waythat we might improve on it and that should fill you with motivation to doit and by way of comparison, you might beinclined to think that you should improve upon your real world in thesame way and have similar outrage about it. Yes, the story is spectacularlygood at provoking moral outrage about the predication of all of this on thesuffering of the child. Yes, but you would count resistance if you describeto most people that this is strictly superior to the world we live inmorally, even though, as soon as you start writing numbers down, it'sobvious yeah I mean the people who are nonconsequentilhis. Moral typecertainly exists, and certainly, if you ask people to think about moralityrather than practicality, they will ten towards nonconsequentialism. So thefact that this even has captured the public consciousness in the way that ithas where this story is most known for the question of is omoloss right orwrong is, I think it says more about where the morals of people lie andwhere the discourse lies. Then it does about the story. Yeah. You can'tcondemn the existence of Omalas without delivering a stronger condemnation ofthe world that you already live in. So in that sense, I get your motivationalangle. Yeah t continue a little because I did have a little more of their quote.Indeed. After so long it would probably be wretched without walls to protect itand darkness for its eyes and its own excrement to sit in their tears at thebitter and just Icetriv when they begin to perceive the terrible justice ofreality and to accept it. So this one specifically seems like it is callingout the audience, not just to say Omolossis bad but like. Why are youseeking justification for something that you know is bad you're just tryingto live a comfortable life by not thinking about things and afterexplaining the Child? The narrator once again askd would that convince you thata happy place could exist so again the narrator is saying: does this make thisseem more plausible? What they actually say is quote now, do you believe inthem? Are They not more credible, but there is one more think totelland. Itis quite incredible. So then they go on to talk about the one who walk awayfrom Omalas and often once again, thi sort of discourse about this story islike. Is it right to walk away from ome loss? Do you have an obligation toshould you Yadiada? I read it more as a rejection to the idea that you needmisery in the world to make it function. It's basically saying listener. If youare repulsed by this idea, if you look at this and say why do they actuallyneed the child? There is no compelling reason given as to Wat. U looking a well yeah, like think about yourexistence and similarly just actually imagine the thing that I, as thenarrator thank you, will struggle to imagine, be able to accept that someplaces and some circumstances just don't have a catch, and there can be autopia, and there can just be good things in the world and try to keep inmind that that place and that arrangement of things is possible anddon't go looking for evil. Just because it's absence makes you apprehensive orbecause you sort of expect a certain amount of badness in the world fair. In fact, I can't believe thatthis didn't Bludgen me in the face reading it, but the narrator's level ofdetail, or rather the level of lack of detail about the specifics of Omalas,leaves entirely open that this is a fabrication on the narrator's partmerely to draw people's attention to parts of reality. They don't thinkabout yes kind of like a famous essay and anthropology called body ritualamong the NASARAMA, which I'm not familiar. So it was a satire ofanthropological papers on other cultures that described the culture ofthe United States, as if these were a bunch of unwash natives ind, some faroffland with a bone through their nose, they're described as living a seriousorti Mexican desert and the rituals of toilet training, a child an describedin meticulous but very other rising detail, brushing teeth all sorts ofthings that people just do. The point of the essay is to thrust in people'sfaces hat. This is not at all helpful...

...yeah. The weirdly, clinical and notidentifiable language used in those papers is not the best way tounderstand why people do things also that the people that it was meant topunk were blind to the unusual features of their own. Culture are blind to alot about their own culture. My experience of sochiologists andanthropologist has broadly been that they take great pains to avoidethnocentrism. However, I can certainly believe that some do not and also that there aretimes where that was not so it's some of that, but also Yo, know what' SgotAlexander blessed be his return said something very good about this in hisreview of a David Freedman book, let me go find that so what it's specifically trying tocaution against is neatly incapsulated by this paragraph, which is not fromthe essay but Scot Alexander, said about this book. Whenever I read a bookby anyone other than David Freedman about a foreign culture, it sounds likethe Winda give their mother inlaw three cows. Every monsoon season then pluckout their own eyes as a sacrifice to Humanga the volcano God. And when I read David Freedman, itsounds like the Winda insure positive sum: intergenerational trade by amarket system in which everyone pays the efficient price for continuedeconomic relationships with their spouses clan. They demonstrate theirhonesty with a costly signal of self mutilation that creates commonknowledge of belief in a faith whose priests are able to arbitrate financialdisputes. I do apprehetiate the way that ecopomists are able to breakthings down into always being the same set of system. That Essay, and I thinknow that it bludgends me in the face the narrator telling this story about avague, ambiguous utopia that runs on suffering. The thing that's beingcautioned against is look at these people in their weird way of existingrather than okay. What are actually the movingparts of what's going on here, yeah, if I had to describe the sort of Ark ofthis, it's not any arc for the Omilasians, it's an arc that thenarrator is going through with the listener, where they basically aresaying. Do you believe in a place that has only happy people and is only goodand the listener says no and the narrator says. Okay, would you believein that place? If there was a suffering child, whos, suffering powers, the citybasically and the listener says yes and the narrarator then says: Okay, let'sexamine why that would actually help. Why would that be necessary? And wouldthat be necessary and having gone through that the listener is expectedto determine that? No, it's not actually necessary and the narrator isthen saying. Okay, then, as an exercise for the reader imagine a place, that'sthe same as oveloss, but it doesn't have the child. So can you now imaginea place that is just happy and just has happy people and by the end, tor theBen actually again more detail that retroactivelybludges me in the face asking the listener. Well, what the fuck do youthink they're going for if they'd leave society over this? What do theyactually have in mind? Because I certainly can't imagine it yeah,because they do literally say the place they go towards in a place even lessimaginable to most of us than the city of happiness so because they don't sayunimaginable to me, they say unimaginable to most of us. I read thatonce again as people struggle to imagine a place that is just happy anddoesn't have a catch. So, once again, this hypothetical place, it would beeven harder to imagine than this hypothetical city powered by thesuffering of a forsaken, Chot, okay, yeah I follow, and with all that said,I think this story is really relevant to the culture novels, because a thingthat comes up a lot in the culture novels is that people from the culturewill try to describe the culture to people from outside the culture and beimmediately met with suspicion and, fundamentally that suspicion is well. There are practical concernsraised that from time to time. You know it depends on who they're talking to,but there seems to be a more general concern of there's got to be a catch.This is also a reaction that a lot of people in real life have on hearing theculture describe to them: Yeah, surely the Ar or evil or something there's gotto be some not having people work. Nine to five would give everyone depressionyeah. That is one that I've heard from people close to me: A dicative of a startling lack ofimagination. Quite frankly, indeed speaking of lack of imagination, Idon't know that. There's that much left that I wanted to discuss about thisstory. I think we've hit all the points I wanted and several I didn't think ofuntil we were in the process and we are coming up on time yeah. I got my wholethesis out, so I'm happy right well,...

...thank you to dug the Hobo Demon, west,Venza, Daniel Dedoni and any future patrion supporters. Who may bestumbling on to this episode long after we've published it. This was a fun oneto do and we're probably going to do more short story. Episodes like this. Ihope so. I am not doing the shipgag this time because we're notspecifically talking about a culture story. Like I said Ben, it's been greatto do this and good night. Everybody enjoy yourselfs it's later than youthink I'lllet. You have that because againtalking about t yeah we get to Du the person o the OA.

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