Abstractions: Sunken Cthulhus

The grey boys are at it again, hijacking abstractions like cowboys wrangling shadows. War on terror? Too goddamn big to see the trigger finger on the machine. They paint these abstractions on billboards, pump them through the media static, a virus burrowing into the meat of our minds. The Control freaks love abstractions, man. Easier to hijack a word cloud than a goddamn tax bracket. “War on Terror,” they screech, a phrase that melts in your head like yesterday’s roach motel. Details? Specifics? Nah, those are just details, wiggling out of control like worms on a hot sidewalk. Abstractions, though, they stick around like barnacles on a shipwreck. Remember Ike? Taxes high as a kite, but the people, they weren’t hollowed out, see? Up in Canada, healthcare, a tangled web, but it works, dammit, because it’s built on specifics, not some PR nightmare.

Control. Metastasis. Dead metaphors. These are the flesh-eating agents in the grey ooze of Bureauworld. Easy pickings, these abstractions – War on Terror, Too Big to Fail, all hollow slogans ripe for hijacking by the word virus. Concrete facts. Discarded, buried beneath the shifting sands of time. We name things wrong, see? Slap a label on something before its guts are even formed. Like some junkie doctor diagnosing a hangover as a demon possession. Then the name sticks, a bad tattoo on a society’s ass. “War on Drugs,” another empty slogan, a mantra for cops to jack teenagers with a nickel bag. Words get jammed in their rusty gears, metaphors twisted like a pretzel. Call something a war when it’s a slow, creeping infection. We’re hooked on these abstractions, info junkies jonesing for the next fix. Details? Ephemeral, scattered like smoke in the wind. But the abstractions, they linger, a bad smell in a dusty room.

Information? Fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow, like yesterday’s news. But abstractions? They linger, a bad smell in a locked room. We build systems on these rotting metaphors, layer on layer, like a compost heap of misunderstanding. Each layer a “sunken cost,” man, time and sweat poured into a collapsing framework. These sunken costs are monsters guarding the exit. Time invested, sweat equity, all sunk into a system that’s become a disease. We cling to it, desperate to justify the wasted effort, even as it strangles us.

Sunken costs, the bureaucrats’ heroin. Time wasted, effort misplaced, all funneled into maintaining these cancerous abstractions. A tangled mess of concepts, easy to exploit, impossible to decipher. We become addicts, chasing the dragon of past justifications, blind to the present decay. Details, mere embers quickly reduced to ash. But the abstractions, they linger – bloated carcasses sucking the life from new ideas. We cling to them, these Cthulhu monsters of our own making, born from misunderstanding and clinging to outdated names.

Adding features is like pouring gasoline on a fire, each “success” a brick wall further obscuring the escape route. Features pile up like tumors. Each “success” a brick in the labyrinth, leading us deeper into the heart of confusion. The abstraction becomes its own war, demanding ever more resources to defend its useless bulk. Adding features, that’s the real kicker. Each one a brick wall blocking the escape route. Stuck in the labyrinth, convinced the glowing eyes in the dark are the answer, not the problem.

We cling to these broken abstractions because letting go means admitting we were lost all along. But hey, at least we weren’t wrong, right? Wrong is easier than retreat. The Control Virus whispers: “Build it elaborate, son. Layer on the complexity, the nested loops, the conditional clauses until it’s a tangled mess. Nobody will question the foundation then.” Then the pressure builds. New situations, unforeseen variables. We patch the holes with conditional statements, loops that twist and tangle. The abstraction becomes a Cthulhu, a nightmare beast birthed from bad metaphors and good intentions. It’s beautiful in its own way, sure, but it’s gonna eat your goddamn sanity. And we build, sweat dripping, convinced we’re architects, when all we’re birthing is a Cthulhu-esque nightmare. We get stuck, lost in a labyrinth of our own making.

The good stuff, the mobile metaphors, those get optimized to death. Becomes a target, a bullseye for control freaks. “Mindfulness,” for instance, a practice twisted into a productivity metric. The juice gets squeezed out, leaving a husk of a word, rattling in the wind. Target fixation. The moment a war, a concept, a social crusade becomes the be-all, end-all, it’s doomed. Humans, those optimization machines, bend reality to fit the mold, consequences be damned. The abstraction loses its fluidity, a stagnant swamp breeding stagnation. Goodhart’s Law, a scalpel. Pressure for control bursts the bubble of illusion. The abstraction collapses, revealing the writhing chaos beneath. We must remember, these tools are not ends, but maps. And maps, like everything else, eventually need to be redrawn.

The Bureauworld whispers promises. Efficiency, control, order. But beneath the surface, a monstrous truth writhes. The abstractions we create will devour us whole unless we learn to wield them with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Remember, a map is only useful if it leads you somewhere new.

Retreat? No, we must advance in reverse, shed the skin of the past to find a new path. Here’s the key, man: let go. It’s not retreat, it’s advancing in reverse. We have to break free from the sunken cost monster’s grip. This abstraction that made sense back then? It’s a dead horse, time to dismount.

Abstractions ain’t bad, per se. But they gotta be tools, not prisons. Use ’em, bend ’em, break ’em if they need breakin’. Don’t get hooked on their sunken costs, man. It’s a virus, see, this obsession with clinging to the wrong words. And the only cure is a clear head and a willingness to admit you might be lost in the woods. So ditch the Cthulhu and find a goddamn compass. But remember Goodhart’s Law, etched on the crumbling walls: the moment you try to control something with an abstraction, it breaks. It’s like trying to tame a hurricane with a butterfly net. So, ditch the control freak routine. Let the metaphors breathe, the specifics guide the way. Escape the labyrinth, leave the sunken cost monster to rot in its own complexity. There’s a way out, man, but we gotta shed this dead weight first.

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