THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Grey Man In A Black & White World.

Posted by intellisg on March 15, 2007

Have you noticed how people these days are increasingly perceiving the world only in terms of black & white? The trend is every where these days, in newspapers, magazines, TV, blogs and even in ordinary day to day conversations. It’s a litany that typically gets played out too often. Even our minds are resigned to it, filtering it out automatically, hardly even registering its existence. Like the imperceptible hum of our computers, finger nails growing or even the fire extinguisher, one doesn’t really notice it. Till now of course, because I am going to ask you to tune in to what I am talking about, the black & white world.

If you are wondering what the babble is. It’s called post realist speak. Which tells us all, we are either plugged in or out, connected or offline, hip or square, globalizing or dinosauring, progressing or regressing, competitive or vegetating, enriching or disabling, enlightened or dimmed, successful or failed, right or wrong, moral or immoral, with us or against us.

You see what’s missing don’t you? There no middle ground is there, its just one gigantic sink hole like the Grande Canyon! What happened to the middle ground?

Well it’s being hijacked! The post realist of the binary movement would have you believe all of life ONLY falls into these two possible quadrants, A and Z, the rest of the alphabets don’t really matter, they just occupy space. In black & white land, there are no hues, no spectral gradations, no landscapes, no contours only absolutes.

Nothing could be further from the truth! That’s only true, if you define humanity as a simple matter of data processing. Only then can you ever believe human life necessary falls into this neat model where everything is either black or white. Its one that leverages on the belief human beings and machines are alike. It’s a classical circular argument: humans are just machines so we can treat them like machines.

This dumbing down of the middle ground, reductionism, leaching, chelating or whatever you want to call it. Is one that posits the mechanistic philosophy of how man will behave under a given set of circumstances. I want you to understand, there is nothing wrong with de-fragmenting everything down to its aggregates to best explain human behavior. I do it at least ten times a day, so do economist, dog shooters, pimps, prostitutes even circus performers can’t do without this Swiss knife of life. We all study patterns along a Phillips curve, connect dots and when they make out an understandable trend. There goes the ruler and the pen follows to draw a straight predictive line. Nothing wrong there! Providing it doesn’t have an adverse effect on those who may not quite fit either into the black and white peg hole. The problem is the black & white world is encroaching to swallow up even the barest sliver of grey.

In truth as Emerson as said,

“Even a brick aspires to be something great.”

That means even if you live your Ikea life most of the time in black & white world. There are times when you still manage stray into the grey. That doesn’t mean you have gone bad, it just means you are human. We may all imitate our peers and there are even times when we may all seek the comfort and even wisdom by following the herd, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to imitate differently or even from time to time choose to act outside the convenient post realist categorization of being either completely black or white.

Let me give you an example of the grey life. As Paul Krugman mentioned the vast majority of humans will maximize their advantage to gain a “measurable utility.” But what if that comes at a cost is simply too high and can’t even be measured? What if that advantage means having to invest in a firm that harvest and markets human organs? Or if your equity fund is invested in firms who hire minors to manufacture products in some sweatshop? Would you really maximize your advantage? Think about it!

Despite still stepping on creepy crawlies, zapping the occasional roach and even driving our fuel guzzling 4X4. Most of us aren’t perfect human beings, but if knew our actions are destroying and undermining people and planet. We may not want to follow the footpath of economic man. There you go. You just got painted a shade of grey.

I want to introduce you to the grey men. They are the ones that the post realist, don’t even factor into their neat formulaic binary world. You can say, these are the people who don’t even bother to try fitting in. They’re not like the red man, take away their tepees, peace pipes, give them a crew cut and dump them into an Indian reservation and in one generation all of them turn into lackeys. That sort ethic cleansing just doesn’t work with the grey man. He doesn’t even belong enough to see the value of preserving the fragile black & white illusion, you call the world. He’s grey, get it? Neither does he feel the onus to keep up appearances just so you can preserve your world of lies to make your unbearable life more bearable.

If the grey man sees a transvestite bleeding to dead, it takes him less than one tenth of a second to help. He doesn’t think about what’s going to happen in the black & white world. Or what if his church elders, neighbors or colleagues see him with an undesirable? Or even how it may affect his so called “reputation.” (which you seem to value more than him) That’s because he doesn’t seek your approval, neither does he feel the need to subscribe to ways of the black & white world. What you really think about him amounts to spit on side walk.

If he sees something that’s not right in the internet, he will do something about it. Never mind how many pitch forks there are. Never mind how many of them are bearing torches. The grey man will just come right into the lynch mob and do what needs doing. And say the things he needs to say. I kid you not! Like I said, doesn’t matter what the odds are, you’re confusing him for “economic man”, he is the human calculator who likes to be politically safe by remaining popular.

The grey man, he will tell you the facts of life. Even if it means you end up puking all over your cat.

The grey man knows there is no such thing as majority rules. That’s only true in the binary world. Where everything needs to appear simple, like baby food and disposal nappies. He knows when people behave irrationally it’s driven by only a few things: hate, stupidity and ignorance (the three so called wise men of the black & white world). To the grey man your black & white democracy is a half baked kangaroo court or a lynch mob. The grey man knows something you didn’t bother to read up on – why the founding fathers of the American constitution didn’t just say,

“Well if you have the majority you can do anything you want, including burning the house down!”

Instead they choose to enshrine certain fundamental rights which simply can’t be change, not even by the majority. The grey man just knows his rights, your rights and the rights of whales. And he is not afraid to walk the talk.

“Well that grey man needs to be clobbered over the head, chained up and treated like a slave, like the black man, we have him yelping out hard and loud in no time, Yezzzzzzz Maaaaaaster!”

Nope no luck there – the Grey man will never allow you to put chains on him, not the real ones at least. He knows the mind cannot be imprisoned. You can even discredit, humiliate and persecute him, spread all kinds of rumors about him but you can never break his spirit. “Mmmmmh, he is a bad mother, that grey man!”

“OK, we’ve use psychological warfare on the grey man – we give him the silent treatment – wadamaycallit, solitary confinement. We’ve break his will!”

You go ahead make his day! The grey man knows when a man is alone, that’s an opportunity to he begin a meaningful dialogue that enables him to discover himself. He knows something you don’t know. That people who can’t bear to be alone and who need to be constantly surrounded by other people, are just afraid deep inside. They are just clambering for the approval of others. Yeap, the grey man sees right through you. You’re transparent to him.

The grey man knows real power comes from learning to be alone. That’s where a man learns most not only about himself but others and God.

“Aha! So the grey man is a God fearing man! That’s his kryptonite! Well it shouldn’t be too hard then. We’ve just roll out the good olde Spanish inquisition steamroller. You remember don’t you: the same one that led to millions to the stake. Yes sir reh, we going to convert the grey man. We are going to put the fear of God into his disobedient soul. Like we did with those gays, he is going to know the wrath of God. Having said all that, don’t forget to tell him, God loves him.”

You can sure try to get the grey man into your church, but I warn you. If its one where the lobby looks like the Taj Mahal or the pastor drives a sports car. Then my advice to you is leave the grey man be to the devil. Because the grey man may just as well bring the devil along with him to this mega church of yours. He is going to stir up a maelstrom, For one he’s going to do something in your mega cult church, he’s going to think and another, he is going to ask questions. Not any questions, but the philosophical ones.

Like why does Jesus see the need to pave the lobby of your mega church with imported Italian marble if he was born in a cowshed? And if you ask him to tithe, he’s going to ask why can’t I give the money to the RSPCA? And if you insist, he going to ask, why does God need a bit of money all the time? He can’t be very good with money can he?

Trust me bro, you don’t want the grey man in your church, not if “the temple of god” is filled with money grabbing charlatans and hucksters who are just interested in lining their pockets. The grey man will spot them out 50 paces away and when your pastor mistakes him for the valet parking only to drive off his $300,000 chariot away. And you will get into serious trouble! You end being a toilet usher all your life.

Lastly, you can’t put the grey man down. He knows something you never bothered to figure out. The grey man knows no man can ever take away what really belongs to him. Not his pride, not his self-esteem, or even his sense of purpose, not even what’s in between his ears. Unless of course, he gives you the right to do so- and we all know that only happens in a black and white world.

“Mmmmh, the Grey man, he is mother isn’t he? How many of them did you say there were again?”

[Adapted from an article written by Darkness, “5 Reasons Why I Can’t Stand Weak Leaders!” EP 993838-2005 “The Great Lie” Part 16 / The Brotherhood Press 2005]

(Harphoon & Astroboy /Satire/ Motivational 9983773 – 2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)

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17 Responses to “The Grey Man In A Black & White World.”

  1. Bart said

    Nice post, but. When you buy a box poster paint, you will find a tube of white and a tube of black, but never grey. To get grey, you mix black and white, a compromise. But a compromise in form is not a compromise in substance or in belief.

    Does your grey man believe in some higher truths? The way you described him, he must, for when he measures his actions against that of others, he knows what is does is right and others not right. When Jesus ate with sinners, he appeared grey, but he was in fact whiter than white. His higher truth is for followers to love all men, and that is cast in black and white.

  2. shoestring said

    Bart is spot on about compromise. We live in a world with all kinds of personalities. Sure, everyone has his rights, but if everyone insists on his rights, I can’t imagine how we can ever get along. We have to look beyond our own interests and compromise often times.

    I liked the first paragraph about how we should consider many possibilities but somehow, the grey man had turned out to be more individualistic than I had thought he was broad-minded.

    Instead of embracing the world around him and appreciating the differences in others, he doesn’t even bother to fit in. It seems that his is the only world that is acceptable. He lives in a world of his own. An exclusive one. Without realizing it, he is actually reinforcing what is black and white.

  3. astroboy said

    “somehow, the grey man had turned out to be more individualistic than I had thought he was broad-minded.”

    These were precisely my thoughts as well. When I first read the article a few years ago.

    However, the greyman should not be unduly confused with the strawman. I think this was what darkness was trying to convey with his metaphor – the distinction between doing and inaction.

    He saw the stupidity, ignorance and avarice which led to the invasion of Iraq.

    He lamented the inability of moderates and liberals to stop the neo-conservative Republican right because he singled them out as cowards who were afraid to speak out. Many of them feared to speak out during the period, bc it was often perceived as unpatriotic to do so.

    I think what he was trying to say was it takes strength to cultivate a liberal and moderate outlook – hence the grey man steps in like a superman, a hero.

    Central to the theme is the idea, for the libertarian movement to have any semblance of credibility, its proponents must also emulate the tactics of the rightist.

    Thats to say, they need to be decisive and even be individualistic. Thats why I think in certain passages the grey man comes across as a John Wayne type demagogue -the archtypal, “rugged individual.”

    He was trying to say for too long the moderates have been pursuing a Gandhi style, wispy, sissy pacificist approach. While the rightist do the reverse and they are simply winning – that is why if you read carefully, there is a play between the black & white world and the no man’s area called the grey area.

    He is saying, it is time to reclaim the grey area. I have found if you read it a few times slowly, the meaning changes.

    Have to go to work now. See you all later.

  4. Trajan said

    Bart is wrong, as much as I like to believe. He has definitely taken the analogy to its logical end.

    I think what darkness was trying to say is certain cannot be accomodated. In the 1930’s the Europeans attempted to accomodate the expansionism of Nazism by compromising with Hitler. It led to the WW 2.

    Hate cannot be accomodated. Neither can extremism, both christian and islamic alike.

    I think that was his point. He has made it crystal clear in the past:

    http://kitana.wordpress.com/2006/10/26/why-the-internet-is-the-most-powerful-voice-we-have/

    That is why he has so much credibility, many ppl talk, but very few actually behave themselves into the hearts of others.

  5. Trajan said

    Of course one day in history, they can even white wash it all away and say it never ever happened.

    Thats why we have the brotherhood press. It a record of our history that will never be erased.

    Where were all those people who claimed to be so clear minded when the world went crazy?

    See what I mean now.

  6. Keith Ho said

    I read it different. I think what he was trying to say is moderates have to reclaim back the lost ground in the middle.

    And they cost of being a grey man may even mean being unpopular – like the elephant man. So be it.

    If the cost means, people will fear the grey man like the hang man, so be it.

    If the cost means, he would have to anger or piss off 1,000 people to do and say the right thing, so be it.

    If the cost means, to be exiled and treated like scum, so be it.

    The message is simply this – it takes character to be a grey man. The rest is just BS.

  7. shoestring said

    Hi Astroboy,

    I know what you mean but somehow when I read the article, that meaning got lost somewhere. Can’t pinpoint exactly where. The grey man came across as too extreme to me (that’s the irony).

    Is there a link to the complete article by Darkness which you were referring to?

  8. astroboy said

    “that meaning got lost somewhere. Can’t pinpoint exactly where.”

    That happens to me as well whenever I read anything produced by darkness. One reason is bc I believe, he isnt as much talking to all of us as much as he is talking to himself, so he assumes you already know the things that we really still dunno.

    There is no link actually. But just to add on. Is the grey man a radical? Yes, I believe he is. One really needs to appreciate the time, mood and climate in which the article first came out.

    Darkness perceived the weakness of the libertarian movement, their tendency to shy away from conflict. He even called them cowards of the first order, bc he could not understand why they did not resist the neo conservative rightist movement, who tend to be more aggresive.

    This led him to postulate the notion: of the libertarian movement was flawed. A new order was require.

    He believed moderates had to be more aggresive to claim back the ground stolen by radicals.

    That was why I think he challenged the mob during the Mr brown saga, he told them all to go back home! They didnt dare to move against him bc darkness has a large following. If they did, he would simply crush them. Here we see, the grey man in action.

    In the WSM case, he did the same. Again we see the grey man. Why did he do all those things, bc none of us dared too. we all feared the mob. he didnt bc he knows no one will move against him. Besides there are thousands of supporters.

    At the same time I think he was lamenting why the voice of reason remained so silent as it did.

    I think secretly he was even hinting to all of us in the brotherhood – we are just cowards for failing to do the right thing.

    If you read it carefully, the tone is condescending and even darn insulting. Even scolding – I dont care theme is repeated again and again, telling us all. You are nothing!

    He was telling us all you dont have the balls to even do the things you write so much abt, freedom, respect and dignity.

    Thats my 2 cents.

    I got to go for a conference call now bye, c you all later.

  9. atomic monkey said

    I think darkness was trying to say something else.

    Do not for one moment think just bc you talk ppl will follow, doesnt even matter whether you have a Phd.

    Incidentally we have hundreds of those here in brotherhood.

    No will listen to you and even less will read you if, you are not prepared to lay your balls on the rail tracks.

    Another thing he is saying is SPH, we dont need you like Mr Wang who keeps on tagging along every dribble you keep spewing out.

    We will set the platform, we will create the creative content, you want to follow, can, but remember never ever ask us for an interview unless you can offer us something of equal value.

  10. scholarboy said

    PM,

    It’s not a rumor, the red violin exist. It wasn’t darkness who gave it this strange name. His assistants christened her, presumably after the film by the same name

    The reasons remains unclear till this day as to why they called her the red violin. It could have been because communion has to do with blood and in the film. Legend had its maker coated it with the blood from his dead wife who died suddenly from the great plague, saddened he created a violin so that she would live on through history.

    It is said the darkness, the inventor created her in one sitting, with no rest in between and it worked perfectly the first time. The genius of the whole design was its compactness and the way he modified Bernoulli principle by ensuring all 40 ports dispensed equally. Its main selling point was hygiene. Previously the manual method way was very lecher, dirty and labor intensive.

    He demonstrated it but the real reason why the church didn’t use it was not because he said, I dowan to sell to you. It was politics. You got to understand there are many people who serve every Sunday in church and many of them probably find meaning in service bc they are probably no one important in the secular nine to five world. But in church there are some tokong fellow, they get a chance to doll up, wear and suit and order people around. The machine meant something like 70 or 90 people would suddenly be unemployed. Money was also involved, bear in mind all these people are paying 10% of their salaries every month to the church. So mati lah.

    The interspacing guild took the product to America, where it was demo to a few top brass in Langley Virginia. The US army purchased it, primary for hygiene reasons. One of the prototypes is in service somewhere in America, but in very small churches. Till this day no one knows where it is except darkness – they other one is in JDAM’s attic in Siglap.

  11. harphoon said

    The “grey man” ranks as one of darkness classics.

    When it came out, it provoked such a strong reaction by confusing so many people. We had to shut down the forum for 5 days.

    What was he trying to do? I think you have to understand the man who wrote the article. Darkness is a very deep thinker.

    What he did was use the language of the right to push the moderate message. This has never been done bfr not even in western history.

    In doing so he challenged the establishment in many ways. He shifted the fulcrum from the right to the middle. Many of us may not consciously realize this, but that was its effect. It was a stroke of genius.

    In one bold movement, he promoted the idea, it was cool to be a moderate. Moderates can find solutions to the worlds problems, not radicals.

    I think that was his greatest achievement.

    One day when we are long gone, historians will read story of the grey man and wonder as we did – what the hell is this guy ranting abt? Not even realizing this was precisely the effect, he wished to create.

    How else can a man think.

  12. shoestring said

    Astroboy,

    Thanks for taking time to respond. You have brought out that which was “lost” pretty effectively. In the context of events you have mentioned, the grey man is certainly admirable. That is why context is important to me. Because it really depends on circumstances. For that matter, I feel that black and white do have a place, just as grey, red, blue or green do.

    The challenge lies in knowing when to “change color” and of course, the difficult part, to act on our convictions.

    Will stick around for more of these challenging articles 🙂

  13. astroboy said

    No worries. I would have been disappointed if someone didnt realize something was wrong.

    That was what the article is supposed do rub ppl the wrong way.

    It was a privilege for me to have edited such a classic. Both me and harphy tried to keep it as original as possible – the scolding tone that is.

    Its a bit like adolf hitler preaching liberalism.

    Personally I think it is one of the best (it receives the most hits) e.g of the bro press bc it sets a new creative benchmark.

    I am very glad I can be of service. Wishing you shoestring happy reading in the IS.

    I have to go and sleep now bye bye.

  14. scholarboy said

    AB,

    The grey man was definitely a classic. But you r forgetting one thing AB. It was a very atas piece of work – the idea was as radical as using rap music to mimic church songs.

    Personally I think the message was lost to many who may not have a solid foundation in literature.

    Having said that you and harphoon did good by including all the spelling mistakes as well, it comes across as the real thing.

    I have read the grey man abt a hundred times and everytime I read it, the message is different.

    I think when darkness wrote it, it really forced many of us to move up to another level of creativity. Let us face it bfr that the bro press was quite unimaginative, he showed us the way.

    I hate to admit it but it was definitely a classic. One that as harphoon rightly says, historians will read and remember – just brilliant!

  15. obby said

    http://kitana.wordpress.com/2006/10/26/why-the-internet-is-the-most-powerful-voice-we-have/

    And they really believe they are powerful.kekekekekeke!

  16. obby said

    darkness grey man should be exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute.

    Since the grey man the bruderhud press has not written anything close or similar.

    If you read it aloud with a Southern twang it just hits the spot.

  17. spursfan said

    More of the same would be welcomed. The grey ones will rise soon in this increasingly polarised world, only you won’t really see them coming…

    Spursfan aka Silverkid 😉

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