“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”
— Sir Walter Scott, “Marmion”, Canto VI, XVII
Perceive/Deceive, the foundations of evolution; the root of the Yin/Yang, Darkness and Light. An evolutionary arms race, each side leveraging transient advantage; sometimes observation wins, sometimes obfuscation, manipulation or chicanery.
What must it have felt like to be the first organism to be able to detect a stimulus and move away from (or toward) it because it promised a better future? What a power to “perceive” and act. Self-determination! Suddenly, your offspring were surviving. You dominated the landscape. You go, you single celled organism!
When, then, did organisms evolve the capacity to notice other organisms acting on perceptions? What was the moment a being realized one could achieve results by manufacturing perceptions? One could play on belief, entice action? What prototypic-trickster jiggled the grass, scaring his brother away from a fresh kill for fear of the lion both know exists, only to swoop in to steal the brother’s rightful feast?
Duplicity achieved the same result as skill. And the rest is history.
Literally, all of it. Truth and knowledge ebbing and flowing in and out of sight, veiled by monk robes, revealed by printing presses, stifled by taboo. Revealed by cameras that never lie, defeated by Photoshop jobs that do nothing else. Victors reaping the spoils of scientific observation and reason; other victors ride in on the coat-tails of authority, reaping the spoils by representing their claims as scientific.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…”
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank,… There is grandeur in this view of life…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been evolved, and are being evolved.” — Charles Darwin, “On the Origin of Species”
“…when first we practice to deceive.” …manipulate who would perceive, entice the people to believe, an unearned fortune to retrieve.
“I’ll have your ass, you bloody thieves!”
New guillotines, new necks to cleave.