Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Elon Musk Tweets a Poem

The twitter “verse” has been in an uproar for two days over South African billionaire Elon Musk’s posting of a famous ancient Chinese poem, without explanation, in traditional kanji. As with all famous ancient Chinese poems, many theories have been proposed. Is Musk sending a message of peace and brotherhood to the Chinese Communist Party? Is he thanking them for saving his life? Celebrating the anniversary of the apparent takeover of the United States by China? Admitting that his companies also benefit from Ughyur prisoner and child slave labor? Distinguishing himself from other plutocratic DARPA puppets like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates as someone considered to be an enemy but actually a brother? Slyly noting that the same AI programs now being used to manage the human race can be / are being used against the technocrats in charge? Or is he reminding the most populous country on earth that the human race must work together in the face of the overwhelming power and influence of off-world civilizations? 

As with all things Musk, the answer is inscrutable. He is like the fool (or joker) in the tarot deck, revealing truths while professing no fixed identity. 

The poem, attributed to the poet Cao Zhi, is taught to Chinese schoolchildren as “the quatrain of seven steps”, and it dates from a time when brothers vied, sometimes to the death, for kingdoms and privileges in China’s dynastic system. According to legend, one brother was about to kill another brother to take control of some minor belt of countryside but, seeing his eyes, offered him a chance to save his life by composing a beautiful poem. The life-saving poem reads as Musk tweeted it:


My translation is as follows:

Bean straw heats the beans
Weeping in the pot
Out of the same root
Why are you afraid?

In other words, the burning straw that kills the soybeans formerly helped them grow, because it was part of the same plant. Thus, what the oppressor does to the victim it does to itself – in fact, it may be the true victim because it destroys what it created. The last line seals the anxiety created when one recognizes oneself in what one seeks to destroy. It also – as a work of poetic beauty – recognizes that there is nothing unnatural even in the killing of one’s brother, no need for emotion or attachment, it is only self-judgment that makes one’s actions painful.

From this basic framework, all the potential Musk interpretations listed above “fit.” Any authority seeking to deny the people their natural human rights will inevitably be toppled, because it is their humanity that ultimately gives them their power. And that is the delicate and subtle game of chicken transpiring now on the international / galactic stage, as the fundamental corruption at the root of how humanity is organized is slowly and painfully revealed to everyone. None of the current structures of society can survive in the new world, but people must first retract their consent. The extent to which the mass of humanity never noticed their enslavement before can be found in the gruesome long march currently ongoing where humanity is being silently herded into figurative and literal death camps until they finally scream “enough”. 

But, as the poem suggests, such collective dynamics need not cause weeping. One does not recognize one’s brother until a sword has been unsheathed against him. Such knowledge is more valuable than life itself, or at least more lasting than the courtly feuds of 2nd century AD.