Fair Observer Is Not Itching To Change Its Name

Twitter is now X, but Fair Observer remains committed to its name, seeking the honest truth, not flashy branding.

August 09, 2023 23:43 EDT
Dear FO° Reader, 

At the ripe old age of 12, Fair Observer is a youngster compared to the 18-year-old platform that until a few weeks ago was known as Twitter but now goes under the name of X. The young bride of the polyamorous entrepreneur Elon Musk had no choice but accept her new patronymic. It made sense since the world’s wealthiest individual was preparing to turn the public forum into something at least as big as his own ego: he calls it an “everything app.”

The Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, ca. 1490 AD.

Obsessed with the letter X, Musk believes that apart from its common association with pornography, illiteracy, the unknown (algebra), death and the crucified Christ, the letter has the merit of symbolizing everything and nothing at the same time, achieving a form of existence that loses contact with reality itself.

Over the past six years in my Fair Observer Devil’s Dictionary I have frequently called Elon Musk a hyperreal hero. I use the term ironically to designate someone skilled at crafting events designed to make reality itself seem disappointingly dull. 

Colony on Mars, Shuterstock

Musk doesn’t believe in dull. Most spectacularly, he believes it will soon be time for humanity to drop its love affair with that aging crone, Gaia, whose mysteries and even resources our terrestrial civilization will soon have exhausted. In his eyes, our interest is to give birth to all our future babies on Mars, safely ensconced within a hyperreal environment approved, if not designed by Musk himself.

Musk clearly believes in the magic of labels. They mark instances of radical change, such as his idea of moving all of humanity—like Steinback’s Joad family in Grapes of Wrath—to an unknown destination as soon as the current home proves no longer habitable. In Musk’s mindset, X literally marks not only the spot but also his stamp of ownership. The two most recent of Musk’s ten children are named X Æ A-Xii and Exa Dark Sideræl. If, thanks to SpaceX, he achieves his ambition of becoming, like a modern Christopher Columbus, the first viceroy of Mars, he will most likely rebrand it Planet X or at least christen his first terraformed city, Xopolis.

Branding or rebranding

Branding people and things with some variant of the letter X illustrates Musk’s belief in the inadequacy of whatever exists today. The first advantage of writing off reality and pinning one hopes on a future entity called X is that people will think of you as an innovator. The second is that it dispenses us from the ungrateful task of having to ponder the complexity of reality. That is why Fair Observer has no intention of emulating Tesla’s TechnoKing by seeking out a letter of the alphabet to replace a name that we hope will retain all its meaning. Rather than imagine worlds that do not and probably cannot exist, we continue to recommend observing reality and seeking to make sense of it.

Eye line of sight, Leonardo da Vinci, Wikicommons

Observation takes place with more than our eyes. We have a wide range of senses. I cite a dear friend and associate of our team, a true scientific mind, William Softky. Bill often highlights two essential senses that rarely appear in our everyday vocabulary: proprioception and interoception. Proprioception informs us about our complex, dynamic relationship with our environment and even the universe. Spatial dimensions are only one small part of it. Interoception sums up the multitude of unconscious internal senses and processes that regulate who we are as a living organism.

These two senses tell us what we know and feel about who we are in the world. They underlie our subjectivity. Though rarely cited even by psychologists and neurologists focused on the brain, proprioception and interoception may be the key to understanding the ultimate unsolvable mystery all philosophers and neuroscientists wrestle with. Consciousness. 

All organic beings begin life and continue to thrive by perceiving their internal dynamics and their relationship with their surroundings. This is true of plants as well as animals. Thanks to the faculty of reasoning assisted by language, humans can claim not only to make sense of themselves and the world but to communicate that sense to others. 

Making sense of the world ultimately means observing the universe from one’s unique personal standpoint while understanding that other reasoning beings are doing the same thing. This leads to the quintessential human activity: dialogue. To make sense of anything that affects the society we live in and contribute to,we have a permanent need to compare perspectives. .

That is why our team at Fair Observer embraces its name. To be fair is simply to acknowledge that what we see and feel has meaning and needs to be expressed, but does not account for everything that can be seen and felt. To thrive or merely function as a society, we must communicate our own observations, continually compare them with those of others and just as continually adjust our perception. 

As I sign off, I request you to send us your observations. After all, we want a dialogue. We want to hear what you think and then let you know about what we think about what you think. In a world of echo chambers and X, we want not shrill shouting but deep thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Isackson
Chief Strategy Officer
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