Marco Polio! The Word Virus

DAVID HUME WAS A POPULAR SCOTTISH philosopher and naturalist. He didn’t live long enough to become acquainted with Darwin’s On the Origin of Species or Mendel’s theory of dominant and recessive genes, but he was very keen on science, nature over myth, and proof over faith. Conceding a less deterministic, pre-programmed ideal of humanity and the cosmos, he believed the abdication of free-will was a means of obfuscation, a way to defer responsibility for one’s actions.

MARCO!

Voltaire once said, ‘If God did not exist, it would be necessary to create him.’
If Voltaire was alive today, having seen the last hundred years of war and terror, I’m sure he’d reconsider. Forced with the maddening conclusion that there is a God, which cannot be proven for all to accept it, there are many ways, if not to prove, to strongly persuade. Perhaps this may be the original argument. There have been many books dedicated to precisely this and in modern America the debate continues. Arguments for and against have been put to the public at large, with varying degrees of success. There are good arguments on both sides.
POLO!
What became the dictator, the belief, began as idea, if a somewhat pregnant one. We have, for the most part, in modernity, allowed the ruled to choose the rulers; this makes sense, as people are most easily deceived by those they trust. The Master isn’t what it used to be. It is more subtle, more nuanced. Due to a psychological trait called confirmation bias, the relationship between the host and idea is only made stronger by antagonism. The relation is now that of symbiosis; between a carrier organism and a sickness, a virus: Marco polio. When an organism is possessed by a virus, the impulse to infect others is overwhelming. There is nothing greater or more important than the point.
MARCO!
The way this works is analogous to the way in which biological viruses work and the demonstratively bad impact they have, not only on the ecosystem at large, but on a carrier organism’s viability. This works with symbols and sigils and at this moment in human history in America, the most powerful symbol is the dollar sign; the symbol, the addictive element of Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick fantasies about the American dream, is the appeal to desire (whose twin is despair.)
POLO!
‘Give me the child for 7 years, and I’ll give you the man,’ was once used more confidently; those who wish to erode one’s sense of self and identity is much more subtle now. Yet it all begins with the appeal to fear and hope; the idea that you’re not in control and your life is bereft of meaning, and the hope that through this process you will attain meaning and control. What life means is no longer as important as how much life costs. That’s why the dollar sign has risen out of the shadow of the cross. They say money can’t buy happiness. I guess. But it can buy half of it, I bet.
MARCO!
It is ironic that the most prevalent cause of slavery in history is the possibility, the promise of freedom. This is a well-understood idea and affords expansionist slave-owners the ability to create slaves. If the cross’s popularity can be explained by its appeal to our fear of death, the dollar sign’s popularity can be explained by its ability to appeal to the possibility of happiness without having to die. This is fine when it’s an individual choice and kept to one’s self. When it evolves, as the best viruses do, you forget that it’s a thought. When it takes control of the host completely, it becomes something for which a believer will sacrifice their lives, their children’s lives, and the lives of other people’s children. This is all in service to the point. At what point is this going to be explained in terms of what it is—a Sickness?
POLO!
When one’s own happiness is dependent on what another person believes, they become enslaved by the point, and it’s usually something they inherit: racism and xenophobia, excommunication and divisions, all of which are, if not invented, at least cultivated and nourished—class, sexual inequality, race, culture, religion–and the most terrifying aspect of this illness is the desire for healthy people to see the disease and its symptoms and desire infection; to desire the disease.
MARCO!
Perhaps this is debatable: another terrifying aspect of this illness is its ability to pass itself off as a cure for a deeper sickness. Once you have the disease, you will forget you didn’t need it; then you become a happy carrier and willing distributor, targeting children and fearful adults. Any belief maintained by fear has the same value as information gained under torture: how do you recognize the difference between the actions of the sick and the healthy?
POLO!
The limit function is assigned a value, a numerical value that becomes the price of possibility or the cost of failure. One of the reasons for the tremendous success of this mirage is how happy its replicators seem, happy to be flag carrier’s in a distant war only to be lost to time, to die for a combative ideology, a philosophy not even your own.
MARCO!
It seems that after the last ice age human beings imagined a tower of Babel as a way to understand why there are different languages and cultures and, because it was another point unprovable, it was created, another self-fulfilled prophecy. It’s an interesting story. You have the stern reminder of the futility of attaining perfection, a heavily implied punishment for something harmful to no one. Psychologically and philosophically, the disease was contrived and purposed in slow but intrusive ways through the application of misdirection, the appeal to hope, and what becomes the king—Fear.
POLO!
It is a natural, inherent desire to be acknowledged, to be understood, to have others share in your beliefs. This can go too far, however, and a good indication that it has gone too far is when it becomes necessary for others to accept what you believe as true accepted as true by others. This is how the infected become a drone-mind collective idolizing the preaching Patient Zero, creator of this friendly disease, conveniently working for the cure, or at least the idea that there is a cure. The end game is to live diseased and to spread it as much as possible. It evolves again. It’s in the air. It’s in the school, the courts; it’s everywhere, adapting to changing hopes and fears.
POLO!
It’s natural to question the origin of need and necessity. If this is the product of disease, it must be explicable in biological terms. Without selection pressures favoring an organism’s ability to perform inception on itself, it wouldn’t have remained in the genepool. I think this is analogous to the favoring of human beings with prodigious abilities in the arts, music, and mathematics. This is another type of peacocking and lends itself to sexual selection. Perhaps without Don Giovanni Mozart wouldn’t have found someone to love. Perhaps Goethe’s success with his first publication The Sorrows of Young Werther had the effect that peacocks with the largest feathers had.
MARCO!
Searching …
Frequency found; group-think
The capitalistic ideal is individual-based group gathering that appeals to need and greed. When contagious ideas and memes, poltergeists and demons, begin to alter the nature of what an obtainable dream actually is, confirmation bias leads us to believe even harder.
POLO!
What is the philosophical alternative then, to group-think, to Marco polio? What meaning is there in meaninglessness? This isn’t as emotionally void as it may seem; the search for meaning has a way of defining those who search. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter. It matters and it matters now, as it will always matter in some form or another.
MARCO!
A system that robs people of their individuality is a system that robs people of their identity; to the system’s credit, those who abdicate their personality and allow themselves to be changed by such an ancient system serves only to testify to the quality of that system. That has to be at least respected; the resulting trauma, awkwardness, depression, questions, cynicism–all of this arises from trying on an idea that doesn’t really fit.
POLO!
It is a false and intentionally cultivated accusation that without faith one has nothing. Rather it is the rejection of a paradoxical portrait between competing points in the same marketplace and it is rejected as a body rejects a poison. The only difference is that this time the poison is no longer inside the person, it is the person: they have become an expression of inherited and airbrushed incredulity in the face of nature, and it gets worse: the externalization of the struggle between the poison and identity sometimes makes the` idea more exciting. Part of the fun of having an idea is debating it with others. Make no mistake; I’m not suggesting that these elaborate mind games we play with ourselves can’t be interesting.
MARCO!
Surrendering to a society in which amenities are based on monetary value, you don’t really have the free will to surrender. The best trick the devil ever pulled wasn’t convincing the world he didn’t exist, rather, as it would seem more likely, is convincing the world that there is an external figure that causes the interlocutor to do wrong. As David Hume believed, the argument for pre-determinism is a means by which personal responsibility can be avoided.
POLO!
The reason this is a dangerous illusion is because blame and responsibility of our personal choices are projected onto an external evil. Here is the trick: the devil is an idea that imposes itself upon choice due to the inclination for self service, which Freud called the pleasure principle. Money can feed you, buzz you, clothe you, get you laid; the glowing and neon image of this institution is forever young, just like you, and those dancing girls, that alcohol, those dice, that must be wickedness. All of these things are absolutely recommended as every one of them, in moderation, can lead to fun and excitement and sexual release.
MARCO!
The imagined happiness of hereafter can look dull in comparison to the pleasures of this world as they are fleeting excitations against which are imposed impossible admonitions: it’s a cruel judgment when considering that if pre-determinism is correct, those who are guilty were pre-determined or at least presaged guilty whose judgment, despite being foreseen, still warrants punishment.
POLO!
Another interesting question is at what point an individual belief becomes manifest as a desire to spread, to behave like a virus; and yet another is what form is ultimate if this is penultimate and what the true end-game of this really is, best-case scenario. A possible answer is that this is a zero-game aware of the unwinnable nature of the game. Once the disease is contracted, is there a means by which it can be cured or excised? Yes. The answer is yes. [See The Doctor is Sick.]
MARCO!
The market exists because we want to be pleased. In our most modern city, in New York City, you can get Geoffrey’s Chaucer’s collected works more cheaply than a hotdog, the kind hairy, tattooed old men peddle from modified shopping carts they push around the city looking for starving people.
POLO!
Food vendors depend on hunger the same way doctors depend on sickness. The overarching connection is the dollar sign, the label and the symbol. The person doesn’t sell an item to a person. It does not simplify and improve the product. It simplifies and degrades the buyer. What I’m trying to say is something William S. Burroughs said much better in Naked Lunch:
‘…The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client.’
MARCO!
An addictive carcinogen made by a people who were put to the sword by conquerors has more monetary value than A Tale of Two Cities. When a dollar sign decides what you can eat and how much you can eat and if you can eat, the power it is exercising over you is beyond control. Though the goals of literature and art are more exalted and lasting, you can’t eat Naked Lunch. There are unique ways designed to appeal the opposite of the concept of Marco polio and is itself a type of sickness.
POLO!
It is perhaps most poignantly expressed in the Buddhist philosophy, the idea that evil is an expression of our selfishness, the desire to feed our ego, what Carl Jung meant by, ‘the dark side of the devil.’ The pig on the stick in Lord of the Flies takes on the shape of the fears of its viewers. This is a similar concept
MARCO!
I came up with the idea for this in the pool behind my mother’s house. Everyone knows that the name Marco doesn’t mean anything and polo is just a response needed to locate, to acquire, to find, to get to another person—to make them it.
Whatever you want to call the acquisition of a systematic pursuit, it is a function of the Marco polio virus: using psychologically suggestive mixed signals. Guilt and fear are just as good at forcing surrender to a competing point by being so ridiculously long winded that agreement is more palatable than debating because of how exhausting it all is. So, give me a television, a cup of coffee, two cars and a nice house, fill it full of books, and that is happiness to some degree.
POLO!
The awareness of this application and methodology does little to free you of the sickness but it does bring a brief catharsis. But here’s the best part; when we create these monsters, we give them friendly faces, beautiful faces Everyone sees a different mirage yet everyone sees what they need most, what they think is perfect. We can see the mirage and realize it is a mirage, and know that it is an illusion. However, despite how brief this window of time may be, we may find some comfort here, and sometimes that’s enough to make the sickness worth it.
MARCO!
The more we attempt to look at this objectively, the more we try to distance ourselves, the more biased our evaluation becomes. It is the most casual of human conceits to believe in our uniqueness. Even among civilizations; whatever culture we come from, and whatever system of belief and mythology that comes with it, seems more plausible, more special than others. And the world was made for us, and the universe was created, it had to be. To think that one drop of water in a sea is somehow superior to the same drop of water on the other side of the world is to accept a position that denies the authenticity of the ‘other’ water.
It is so perfectly designed, we see; this idea works on an intuitive level because human beings are natural designers. We understand design by means of evaluating purpose observing function. We put ourselves and our cultural relevance ahead of other animals and even ahead of other human beings because of self-bias. It is no different than the communication of ‘ower animals. Dogs do not bark because they wish to be understood. They bark to be heard as children cry, as we do, to know there is some comfort somewhere, to know we’re not alone.
POLO!
The point is not the product of our creativity; it is the product of waste, the type of waste with aspirations of necessity. This is natural. The way psychoactive mushrooms affect us has been compared to sacred religious experiences. If you eat the right part of the excrete, you’ll meet the point—the point which defines your struggle. There is asymmetry in our perception because of how molecules and symbols interact with the different co-working parts of the brain and consciousness.
MARCO!
A person is a combination of nature, environment, and nurture despite their position in the point/counterpoint debate. It is our raison d’être to look for answers. What doesn’t follow is the acceptance of other’s answers to our questions, questions unique to who we are. It is much more powerful and life-affirming to derive answers from our own experiences and assign value to those answers accordingly than to look for answers created for entire populations, for generalized criteria.
POLO!
Pre-determinism and free-will together are the best theological examples of doublethink I can image. This is the creation of dualism; the creations of categorization people based on their ideas. A people divided, confused and insecure, are much easier to persuade. The truth can be told with lies; and any suggestion accepted because of what brief relief it provides is, at best, conditional, at worst delusional, yet in all forms ephemeral. The struggle is enough to answer any questions one may need answered.
MARCO!
There is certainly commercial value in tragedy as it speaks to a deeply ingrained need for the alleviation of fear in our own lives by diversion. The results of this are by their very nature divisive, connecting an individual to a hive of the lost looking for their keys under a streetlight, even though the possibility is greater that they aren’t in the light, but the amount of dark is overwhelming, so overwhelming they only look for keys where they are capable of seeing them.
POLO!
It is natural and unavoidable to be attracted to charisma, confidence, and boisterous rhetoric. The most successful rhetoric affects depth yet offers only confusion. Confusion and novelty does not equal depth. This is why the response to a provable unknown is so overwhelmingly strong: confusion and uncertainty allows for the multiplication of assumed contingencies in deriving truth from nature. Marco polio allows the evaluating area of the mind, that small computer that really makes two water droplets different, to accept relief at the price of dormancy, for no cure but a permanent remission, a salient way of accepting what is unacceptable.
MARCO!
When an unknown is formally assigned a limit function, wherein a is always equal to a and never equal to b; what we’ll accept is predetermined by exclusion. It is, if nothing else, a unique form of solipsism. Despite the fatal flaw with solipsist thinking, at least any idea you come up with on your own has a value the ideas others do not have. It is important to recognize the true face of Marco polio, despite its variation according to individual desire: it is a persistent system, a deaf machine that cannot hear which still cries Marco in the dark, splashing in a pool alone and screaming MARCO! incapable of hearing POLO! if it were to come and still screaming, screaming more if it doesn’t.
POLIO!
For at least 80,000 years (by current estimate) humans have used symbols and signals, and the most arresting symbols appeal most prominently in denoting gain and loss, addition and subtraction. The popularity of the $, even if it’s losing actual value, has supplanted the cross as the type of idea it conveys is more urgent. It’s an easier way to be happy. This is ubiquitous in our culture. What follows that currency donation, is great gain. It’s advertised as a way to make the world what we imagine heaven might be like. I think that it has surpassed the cross as a memetic virus.
MARCO!
The printed word is the most persuasive virus we have. It’s catchy. We wish to identify with authors and artists and composers whom we believe to be cleverer than we. Yet the penultimate authority in every theocracy—a theory that seeks to outlaw questions and inquiry—is a unique source without reference. It’s easier to accept the symbol and what it represents; the successful manipulation of images correlated to thoughts which seek to comfort through pain and punish through loss.
[Silence.]
MARCO?
In order to move forward, one must first come to terms with regret and failure, look backward with objective consideration, to stop chasing yesterday and start planning for tomorrow. As vendors rely upon our hunger, and doctors need our weakness, artists need evaluators, and our weakness is no different than what I call Marco polio. I don’t want to be remembered as a great poet or philosopher, artist or composer. Name a disease after me.
YOU’RE IT!

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