The Woke Tower of Babel: The Case of Jimmy’s Sprinkles

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Submitted by Graham Hill on Wed, 2021-05-12 00:20

The curious Biblical story of the Tower of Babel may provide a metaphor for Wokedom’s aberrant use of ideas and words. The woke assault on cultural land marks and institutions is underway. Specifically, it grants Woke significance and meaning to things and words. These over literal meanings the product of inchoate ideas, derived through a faulty intellectualised moral frame, are then passed off as knowledge and truths. The moral frame is a silo and immune to facts and contradiction.

In the myriad of random ideas and thoughts we generate daily most are rejected by reality testing and/or, socially agreed upon norms, common sense but mainly by discriminating intelligence, discerning the appropriate from the inappropriate, the compelling from the preposterous, the necessary from the unnecessary and good from bad. ‘Mindfulness’ practice seeks to temper the mind’s propensity for incessant babble. Yet a great deal of indiscriminate Woke babble is entering the daily discourse.

The Jimmy’s sprinkles saga is an example of what happens when babble collides with an innocuous and a traditional item What follows here is a case of such a collision but this time as a peremptory defence by internalised corporate self-censoring . Consequences flow from the woke Tower of Babel.

Mark Levin (USA 10/3/2021 podcast) commented on the woke- if not trivial- preposterousness that has led to a name change of ‘Jimmy’s Sprinkles’. The change came about because the word Jimmy’s was taken to mean Jim Crow segregation. It is a case of ideation over reach.

What are ‘Jimmy’s Sprinkles’? They are desert toppings of chocolate hail and hundreds and thousands. Plainly, a name of low symbolic meaning among millions of product lines and the pressing issues of today. Jimmy’s Sprinkles for about 90 years are well known in the North Eastern United States.

We now enter the verbal prison of ideology- “as a mouse entombed in mousehole” (Paglia 148) where the “obvious must be avoided at all costs,” (Paglia p.159) “Jimmy’s Sprinkles now has a significance which is an incomprehensible over reach, from a revelation of evil by linking ‘Jimmy’s’ with Jim Crow.

The Neo Marxian source of the linkage has fundamental inconsistency problems. First, the Woke view themselves as a morally elite cognoscenti with preternatural insight. Who, by an irony of neo Marxist dialectic, are a group seeking power to control meaning and discourse by compliance to new terms and meanings. The sacred theorem casts them, ipso facto, as oppressors in compelling fatuous meanings onto the unWoke, i.e. the false consciousness ridden majority. Secondly, the doctrine holds that there are myriads of interpretations not just one. But the Woke insist on “a priori verbal formula” that fits with the race, gender and class moral defaults. At this point we have crossed into the realm of poor thinkers, who cannot square their doctrinal premises and who are “trapped in verbal formulas” (Paglia p151 & 177) and whom Roger Scruton called ‘Fools, Firebrands and Frauds.’ Pseudo intellectuals and Charlatans also come to mind

How is this babble of nomenclature and misnomer generated? The woke mentality, in my view, is mostly Neo Marxian driven. Simply, It is a product of low level passé intellectualising -poor thinking- “entrapment in verbal formula”, relying on the closed replicating feedback loop of Woke doctrine. It is not unlike the infinite repetitive regression of Mandelbrot’s set.

The deductive dialectical theorem’s predetermined answers have a consequences for correctly understanding reality. The world framed or imposed by ideation: not the world as it. It follows that the more preposterous the thought the more detached from reality it becomes. Compounding that with ‘intersectionality’ exponentially worsens matters. What might start out as poor judgment, ignorance becomes with serious detachment insanity. In the theorem the role of inquiry is reversed. The search becomes one for new fields of constitutive premises. The deductive dialectical theorem of ‘the oppressor (morally bad) and the oppressed (morally good) is hermetically sealed and always has a predetermined ideological conclusion, oppression. That is in “contrast to the use of the intellect to discover rightful answers” by inductive reasoning, being the inquiry into truth.

Three explanations are available which arrive at the same point.

First, “Intellectualism… is the use of one’s mind only to conjure clever explanations for what is already believed” as opposed to use of one’s mind to discover rightful answers.” Truth, Sayet says, gets in the way of the former (Sayet in The Kindergarten of Eden…, (2012) p 3).

Secondly, Charles Murray in Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class (2020) cites (at p.28) Robert Trivers (evolutionary biologist) who says:

“Once you remove biology [read as reality] from human social life [politics], what do you have? Words. Not even language, which of course is deeply biological, but words alone that then wield magical powers, capable of biasing your every thought, science itself reduced to one of many arbitrary systems of thought.

“...,believing that words have the power to dominate reality, [with] social constructs…

“…Weak people run from new ideas, or so it seems, and then are driven into bizarre mind states, such as believing that words have the power to dominate reality, that social constructs such as gender are much stronger than the 300 million years of genetic evolution that went into producing the two sexes—whose facts in any case they remain resolutely ignorant of.”

Thirdly, Peter Boghossian, Wall Street Journal, (24 November 2019) advances the idea of ‘idea laundering’ and explains it thus:

“You’ve almost certainly heard some of the following terms: cisgender, fat shaming, heteronormativity, intersectionality, patriarchy, rape culture and whiteness. The reason you’ve heard them is that politically engaged academicians have been developing concepts like these for more than 30 years, and all that time they’ve been percolating. Only recently have they begun to emerge in mainstream culture. These academicians accomplish this by passing off their ideas as knowledge; that is, as if these terms describe facts about the world and social reality. And while some of these ideas may contain bits of truth, they aren’t scientific. By and large, they’re the musings of ideologues. “ (emphasis added)

The result is that meaning- even as penumbral satellite meanings are stretched to an improbable degree and ideas in the form of new core meanings of phenomenon are ‘passed off’ as knowledge. Our culture is saturated with this at present and a lot of it emanates and is transmitted from US universities and its activists have engaged in politics and thus into media public discourse. We may as well, at times, be in the Tower of Babel and at a discourse disadvantage as to meaning, thought and truth which is a means to the exercise of political will in a social or civil war of ideas.

Thucydides in describing civil war (stasis) in 421 BC said of words that:

“The regular meaning [axiosis, definition, value] of words changed to fit the state of affairs. Insane risk was now bravery for an ally; careful forethought was cowardice…” “The one seeking extreme action was considered trustworthy; anyone who spoke against him was suspicious. If you were a successful conspirator, you were smart; you were clever if you discovered a conspiracy
(Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (Bk3:82. 2-5 on the civil war in Corcyra, 421 BCE).

One view is that the meaning of axiosis is to say the that “the words are being applied to inappropriate actions, to dress them up or to muddy them, and consequently these words' value is changed.” Debased meanings result in babble.
Applying Thucydides observation to Jimmy’s Sprinkles case, the Jim Crow attribution, in addition to definition over reach is wholly inappropriate because it did not ‘fit the state of affairs’. If it sought to “dress up” for virtue signalling it has ended up as ludicrous bathos.

What is different with Jimmy’s Sprinkles, and a new development, is that the manufacturer has adopted the linkage and made the change itself. It had taken a defensive precautionary approach in self-censoring by dropping the name to preclude the linkage to Jim Crow, so as to avoid cancel culture. The brand is well established, existing for 90 years and has market identification, making the name change a significant commercial one for a company to make. Self-censorship, albeit on preposterous grounds and fear, is a most significant development .
One can understand the commercial fear from the Woke abuse of power in the shaming-cancelling game, in which there is no ambiguity, discretion, no nuance, no other meanings, no layers, no whimsicality, no double entendre, and no neutrality but dour oppression.

A well-known trade name’s fall, innocuous in plain English to a seriously errant mode of ideological thought- from the ‘morally superior’ inner mental light of truth- detached from worldly and traditional common place understandings of things that are popular, creatural, commonly and naturally understood to be what they are is lamentable but speaks to an oppressive fear and shows the will to power of an ideated elite moral hierarchy.

There are consequences oblivious to the woke in this. Revolutionary sans culottes are not good at contemplating second order consequences as these are not apparent in the ambrosial fog of virtue and battle rapture.
First, thematic meaning is disrupted, displaced then cut loose from its original context and destroyed. Disney’s 1937 cartoon movie, Snow White, based on a traditional German folk tale recorded by the Brothers Grim in 1812, is now moral attack. Prince Charming’s ‘Kiss of Life’ being a recent target, while the envious and wicked –poisoner- witch gets a pass. A dissonant moral idea is substituting for the original themes, and then the dissonant flutters around the belfry of the Tower of Babel in ephemeral triumphalism.

Secondly, the thought process that connects Jimmy’s, of Jimmy’s Sprinkles to Jim Crow are errant and preposterous. It is the product of an absurd construction disclosing poor comprehension skills and poverty of thought. The signifier Jimmy’s Sprinkles does not have as its signified Jim Crow. Jim Crow is not denoted by nor pointed to by Jimmy’s Sprinkles. The attribution is inappropriate and exposes the poverty of the underlying ideology. The definition and meaning of both are debased and made valueless. Good thought processes and educating people to think no longer seems to be necessary.

Good thinking requires being able to discriminate, (i.e. analyse/chose) between words/meanings and objects/concepts; the correct/socially agreed signpost or norm/the likely/ that which works and the unlikely/absurd/flawed/preposterous.
Thirdly, the deployment of Neo Marxist theories such as social justice’s critical race theory- a collectivist and over generalised or abstraction for universal application- in this context shows a want of judgment, nuance to complexity and intellectual acumen. It is akin to the Soviet saying ‘show me the man I will show you the crime’ – the prosecutor with an indictment looking for a crime- which apparently now plays out as ‘show me the brand name of a popular yet unimportant item and I will show you the racism/sexism/a phobia.’

Fourthly, predetermined or predestined outcomes in a closed feedback loop, as argued earlier above, leads to detachment from reality and subjugation to a dour oppressive power. It is blind: and not how we think in the active day to day world. It is not conducive to solving real world problems where accuracy (2+2=4) and truth are required. Assailing competency and knowledge as sexist, racist, or a power hierarchy that oppresses, because of some preposterous linkage of a fallible secular belief system does not help resolve crises.
Fifthly: the problem of indiscriminateness. Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind (1987,) argued that the dumbing down of culture and society was because people believe that “indiscriminateness is a moral imperative because it is the opposite of discrimination.” ( p. 30)

Indiscriminateness further means a failure to “distinguish between the important and the unimportant...” (p. 59). We could add the right and the wrong; the compelling and the absurd; and the proper and the improper Or from Thucydides the appropriate and the inappropriate. The consequence is a serious failure of thought so as to make an informed judgment by abandoning a criteria of choice by substituting clear thought for sophistic activity of ‘intellectualism’ climaxing in spuriousness and errancy.

Social and institutional indiscriminateness displaces truth. Sayet holds that truth is vital to people “who make and do things and do things in contrast to those who spend their lives just talking about people who do and make things.” (p.83) Clever verbiage, intellectual Neo Marxist abstractions and reductionist constructs (e.g. all is race, gender and power) fabricated on words, but not empirical data, can look absurd and without merit when released onto the world beyond the iPad, the faculty lounge and café chatter. It makes no sense, according to Paglia in discussing Foucault, to try to redefine and therefore to distort, for the sake of one Parisian ideologue, the standard meanings of common English words.” (p. 143)

Truth and knowledge is vital to competent problem solving: without problem solving we are at risk and old perils (hunger, plague, poverty, high mortality, civil war, banditry) , that had been pushed away by technical and social advances, will come back to meet us face to face. The 2020 summer of rioting in the USA and Seattle’s autonomous zone, CHAZ was a re-acquaintance with the former. The Woke mind set stultifies thinking, and expressing and listening (a corollary right to free speech. It is as if we face being captive in an abominable laboratory.
The case of Jimmy’s Sprinkles exemplifies the assault of indiscriminate thought. Indiscriminateness and deriding knowledge and competency takes us to irrational -chaos in thought and thinking which E R Dodds had celebrated our escape from. Satan (Milton’s Chaos) is alive as indiscriminateness of thought.

It is one thing to see what is happening and deplore it- the self-censoring of Jimmy’s Sprinkles marks a new development- but what to do about it is another in the face of the oppressors use censorship and the cancelling of individuals? Quite often those promoting the errancy, (e.g. professions, organisations, academics and media), hold places of public status and authority and in certain cases (Scotland and the UK) have statutory power of controlling speech- which is also to control listening and assessing. Calling out the preposterous and errancy nevertheless is a good start.

At a personal and private level reading Camille Paglia’s compelling tour de force essay “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf”, in Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2(Spring, 1991), pp. 139-212 provides great solace and inspiration in the face of the Woke “meat grinder of hack … gibberish.” (150)

Graham Hill
Nelson, New Zealand
12 May 2021

Woke Absurdity- derangement- knows no bounds

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Did you know that walking on the footpath is racist?

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