Gut Grinder (Season 1, Episode 26)


What is the evolution of justice?

Prior to my recent dialogue with Fuller (podcast episode coming later this month), I didn’t have much on this episode. I noted an interesting message developing about justice, since Finn swears to it and grimly declares that “justice never sleeps” (when he admits to Jake that he watches him sleep), but I only watched the episode once, meaning that I didn’t apply any particular lens to it in order to construct a more substantial and cohesive interpretation. As a result, I picked a few spots that I made significant on the first run. If you’re looking to build an argument, multiple viewings are essential. At the same time, in those multiple viewings, while you think you’re seeing things more clearly, you’re actually seeing things more narrowly (which doubles as more clearly in a relative sense). You’re creating an unjust, myopic interpretation, magnifying only the details that fit your meaning-making. As you do this, you conveniently forget about your convergent imposition. You’ve made the episode fit the model version of the episode that your brain has constructed in order for you to comprehend it in some way. (I’m suggesting that this is how we make sense of anything really.) You’re taking the episode’s parts and restructuring them into a whole that makes sense to you. Once you finally achieve a coherent meaning, you trick yourself into thinking that you’ve figured the episode out, or that you’ve come closer to some objective, universal vision of it. All you’ve really accomplished is a confirmation of the bias you set. The extra time spent with it has actually trapped you in your own initial perspective. Even though it feels like you’ve come to understand the episode more intimately, you’ve only come closer to the model of the episode in your mind. This is an innocuous mental practice when we think of it in terms of how we interpret cartoons, but how does this affect our relationships with people? Is it fair to say that we do the same thing? If we’re only relying on models of people in our minds, and not the people themselves, what are we losing? It’s not like there’s any way around this though, and we do it with ourselves too. We are always some mental model of who we think we are, but I’m not even sure what that means or where I’m hoping to go with it…

Great, so I’ve successfully avoided talking about the episode, addressing instead what it made me think about. As for the way I ultimately interpreted “Gut Grinder?” Check out episode 12 of the podcast. It’s a real hoot. We track the evolution of society and citizens as they try to deal with crime and threats to communal interests. Notice, for instance, how the people Finn and Jake visit move from soft to cubed to sharp; as the threat against their personal and collective welfare increases, so do their defenses. By the time we reach the sharp people, we see a working government, hierarchy, a prison system, and increased materialism (the mayor’s wife exemplifies this); the effects of this evolution are pretty clear, judging by the forms of the people. They are no longer close to one another or trusting. They’ve grown sharper, more fearful, and more violent. And it feels right that they’ve done so, given the shared threat they have: the gut grinder. It’s interesting to see what happens to a group of people when their riches are threatened, what riches come to mean to a society, and how we decide to protect those riches. Justice sweeps in to cover whatever develops.

In the name of justice, what isn’t possible? It depends upon ye olde mental model of justice, I reckon.

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