A Lot of the Things We Mention Are Not, in Fact, Miracles
April 12, 2020 4:41 AM   Subscribe

 
When “Miracles” took off, it did so on an internet that was still insular, that had not yet fully been invaded by normies and locals yet.

Well I hate to make a nitpicking first comment, but....in 2010? Seriously? The Internet was a sanctuary against "normies" and "locals"?
posted by thelonius at 4:55 AM on April 12 [37 favorites]


In 2010, people in their 50s and 60s hadn’t taken over Facebook and most Fox channel folk tended to stick to comments sections of newspapers’ online sites. So, yeah, a bit.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:38 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


I think Miracles would get much less traction than it did in '10. I think the novelty of " internet people doing stupid things! In public!" has faded somewhat(But not the attraction) and internet culture has undergone the splintering that tv did in 1980-2000.

By "normies" I believe the author is referring to the advent of mobile computing which made internetting easier and a more open culture.
posted by Query at 5:46 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I guess 2010 was before everyone had a smartphone so it counts as the tail end of the still insular internet?

My main takeaway from this is that they're doing meme retrospectives now that make me think of the past and I can't handle that in 50 years my cohort is going to be reminiscing in the nursing home about all your base
posted by dis_integration at 5:57 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


By then, all your base will belong to someone else...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:06 AM on April 12 [23 favorites]


ICP is a complex phenomenon but I personally got really sick of all the people mocking ‘how the fuck do magnets work’.

Magnetism is super complex. Most people can’t explain it in any detail, and in fact most people can’t even fully understand a low-level detailed explanation from an expert, unless they have something near an undergraduate science degree with a minor in physics.

Even Feynman struggles for a while when asked why magnets repel each other, and eventually gets around to saying that we can only answer such questions when operating in a framework in which we can allow things to be true.

TLDR: marveling about how magnets work is completely reasonable and mocking ICP for their wonderment in this case betrays a certain ignorance.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:30 AM on April 12 [44 favorites]


I have no opinion about ICP but thanks for sharing that Richard Feynman video!
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:17 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


The way it was explained to me was: Permanent magnets repel (attract) each other because they're made up of smaller magnetic domains that repel (attract) each other. Magnetic domains repel (attract) each other because they're made of atoms that act as tiny magnets, and repel (attract) each other. And atoms repel (attract) each other to make magnetism work.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:19 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Joe, you've kind of illustrated the problem Feynman presented with trying to explain this in a pat way. What this basically says is "magnets repel or attract each other because they're made of magnets." The person who told you this hinted a bit at the whole "it's is like the fundamental forces that make things feel solid" that Feynman addressed, but only slightly. It can be instructive, but it asks more questions than it answers.

When this kind of problem of explaining something too-deep-to-summarise comes up I think of the moment where Bill Hicks lost it at a heckler who was crowing "Freebird!" He challenged the heckler, who provided a reference for the origin of the heckle. Hicks went on a long rant, but first he asked "So what? So where does that leave us?"

It reminds me further of the reason why the people who wrote the GIF spec said it should be pronounced JIF: because there was a marketing slogan for a brand of peanut butter called JIF that they wanted to use as a "joke" in their spec. Why did they want to do that? Because just like the Freebird heckler, they seemed to think that making a popular culture reference was in itself comedic.

It's so often trivial to snap on a tautological explanation, but that doesn't help anyone understand anything more deeply or laugh out loud.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:42 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


SNL's skit, which is mentioned in the article, kind of undermines the idea that this was an insular, internet-only thing, so the normies didn't come across this.

Also, I've been getting back into The Happy Mutant Handbook and blogging/ reviewing each article. It's a mega-zine type thing from 1995, from the bOING bOING folks (back when it was a zine, not a website). I'm mentioning all this as a preamble the Net.Bozo article:
Cyberspace has become so populated that just about every stripe of human is now represented, from working stiffs to Hollywood celebrities. From maw and paw to ABC and MTV. With this surging growth comes a vast array of jerks, idiots, and nincompoops. There are the new people who don't know how to "drive," recklessly careening down the information highway Or there are the crotchety ol' geezers who bite the heads off the vulnerable newcomers. Commercial opportunists are lurking in the shadows, waiting to unearth new trends, product ideas, and tomorrow's headlines, while shut-in perverts drool over digital dirty pictures and try to virtually molest Net-surfmg teenagers.
Which is a long way of saying people have been saying the internet was (or wasn't) full of normies for years.

Still, I'm on Team Marvel At The World. Laughing at other people's awe and astonishment seems like a jerky thing. I definitely laughed at it, but now I can appreciate their honest wonder. This XKCD comic comes to mind. "For each thing 'everyone knows' by the time they're adults, every day there are, on average, 10,000 people in the US hearing about it for the first time."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


in 50 years my cohort is going to be reminiscing in the nursing home about all your base

You have no chance to survive make your time.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:00 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


If I ever get to time travel, I'm bringing my former self a copy of this Detroit Free Press article from 2017: 20 years in, Kid Rock, Eminem and ICP are politically relevant — and culturally divided. The mefi thread about it was really good too.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:20 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Yeah, ICP contains multitudes. And most of what it contains is... not very interested in understanding. Certainly it is fair to call them out on their anti-science bent.

I watched an entire documentary on the Gathering Of The Juggalos and came away knowing less than when I started.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:01 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


All I know about ICP is that they wear makeup and don't understand magnets.

To be fair, I don't think I really understand magnets. Makeup seems a lot like work I don't need to do.

Curious about the magnets though (particularly WRT Newton's laws).
posted by pompomtom at 9:37 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


This is a fair point, but the next lines of the song are: "And I don't wanna talk to a scientist / Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed." The song's narrator is describing anger and disbelief at the fact that other people are claiming to have knowledge.

I think absent those lines, the reaction to the song might have been less harsh.


I think this is an unfairly literal reading of the song, which is itself ironic given that the fairly clear meaning of the lyric cited is a rebuke of the reductive thinking that would strip the joy and poetry out of life, ninja
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:51 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Or it could be a celebration of the proud ignorance that is going to kill us all.
Language, how the fuck does it work?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:31 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


First, to give you an idea of how much I know about Insane Clown Posse, I saw two of them and thought, "wait, I thought there were a whole bunch of them wearing masks?", then figured out that's Slipknot.
However, after falling down the weirdly fascinating but vaguely unpleasant YouTube rabbit hole with which we're all so familiar, I can't say that I regret my lack of familiarity with said band, and particularly with their fans.
Interviewer: "Show me your genitals!"
Female ICP fan: *flashes her breasts*
Female ICP fan's friend: "that was the testicles"
Female ICP fan: "hey they're part of my genitals"
Okay then.
posted by Joan Rivers of Babylon at 11:04 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Seizing on ICP's anti-intellectual stance is a mistake when one considers their larger body of work, much of which indicts the small-minded and xenophobic. Unnnnfortunately, it also totally ignores the real problem with the ICP oeuvre, which is its frankly shocking sexism. In general, ICP is outsider art that celebrates life and whimsy and is staunchly opposed to social oppression in most forms, but seems to have a bit of blind spot when it comes to "bitches" (witness the 1999 song, "Bitches"). I haven't paid a huge amount of attention to their work in more recent years, but I hope they've come wised up a little on this score.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:49 AM on April 12 [9 favorites]


Like kittens for breakfast says, the whole ICP juggalo thing is a weird sort of inclusive subculture that (really broad strokes here) seems to largely be a place made up of lower income, non-mainstream fans. People who, if breakfast club was the world, wouldn’t be at Saturday detention (because holy shit, that’s a seriously wealthy school in the real world) because they’d likely have either been expelled, or are working to help support the family, at the same time thinking Bender is a lame poseur. They self identify as misfits and outcasts, and as such, have built their own community (that’s even been investigated by the FBI, because poor people gathering must be considered dangerous).

But, again, echoing kittens for breakfast, it’s a goddamn shame that women’s entry and acceptance to their widely diverse group is predicated in willingness to objectify themselves.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:59 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]


"And I don't wanna talk to a scientist / Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed." The song's narrator is describing anger and disbelief at the fact that other people are claiming to have knowledge.

I think this is an unfairly literal reading of the song...


Defending "Y'all motherfuckers lying," which is part and parcel of the death of expertise and a social movement that put Trump in the White House is a weird look for an Easter Sunday that has seen 20,000 Americans die -- so far -- of a "hoax."
posted by tclark at 3:09 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


"Permanent magnets are difficult things to understand, in fact if we're absolutely honest with ourselves we don't understand them."

Professor Eric Lathwaite Imperial College London 1975


This is a really fun video featuring some great 1970s lapels and sheets of flying aluminium (not aluminum!). Worth watching all the way to the end to see the maglev train demo.
posted by crazy_yeti at 3:37 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Defending "Y'all motherfuckers lying," which is part and parcel of the death of expertise and a social movement that put Trump in the White House is a weird look for an Easter Sunday that has seen 20,000 Americans die -- so far -- of a "hoax."

This...song is...not about covid 19.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:18 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I have just confirmed via Twitter that ICP has added a "stay the fuck home" playlist to Spotify. I think it is safe to conclude that the Insane Clown Posse does not endorse unnecessarily exposing the psychopathic family to covid-19; thank you, Insane Clown Posse.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:25 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]


ICP is just asking people to stop looking for so much meaning and just appreciate the mystery behind pretty much everything around you.
Mystery is cheap and easily available. We, in fact, have a global surplus of mystery - a surplus that is only going to grow in the future because it's so easy to make.
Aren't you sure they don't mean that mystery is just more work than meaning?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:14 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Disagree hard.

Then you, and by extension they, aren't looking hard enough. Perhaps barely at all.
To the extent that science has sullied the purity of unexplained reality even slightly, it's touched a minute fraction of what the world contains.
To complain that that partially understood fraction, and the mechanisms that lead to that understanding, has ruined things forever suggests a certain laziness in choice of targets.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:23 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


witness the 1999 song, "Bitches"

infamously the worst ODB feature anybody ever paid a lot of money for
posted by atoxyl at 7:52 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Anyway I agree the "magnets" line wouldn't have been mocked as much without the "don't wanna talk to a scientist" line - the actual non-literal meaning of which is still kind of a shitty attitude (I think Feynman also had something to say about this). But it's going a bit far to blame them for Trump.
posted by atoxyl at 7:59 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Mystery is cheap and easily available

Honestly, I feel the need to say nuh uh to this as well, and it makes me immediately think of the soliloquy at the end of The Prestige:

...the world is simple. It's miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and the you... got to see something really special.

There is a lack of real mystery, of things that are unexplainable. If you don't know, it's usually pretty easy to find out on google or whatever, but when you do find out the answer, a lot of times, it's something that removes the mystery, and just makes you think, well, duh, yeah, that's the answer. To me, mystery is Calvin wanting to know why old photos were in black and white, and new photos were in color. Sure, the answer is something something Kodak something something invented, but the more fun answer is Calvin's dad telling him Kodak invented color, and before that, the world was black and white.

In other words, mystery is the stuff that we don't understand, and while we could reach out to an expert (and should if it's a life or death matter), but the expert answer is (almost) never going to be as fun or interesting as the internal myth that we make to explain it to ourselves.

(Not anti-science/expert, but definitely a fan of wonder)
posted by Ghidorah at 8:36 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


There is a lack of real mystery, of things that are unexplainable

I mean....is there though? Science has proven explanations for a lot of things, but has made very little real headway on a lot of incredibly fundamental questions like "why is there anything at all" and "why is it like anything for us to experience the things which we have no particularly good explanation for them being there in the first place, being there".

From that point of view basically every single object and person is miraculous, so I'm somewhat on ICPs side there .
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:26 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


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