Tag Archives: truth

Everyone Needs To Think, So Why Snip Off

Body of Workers

On 27 May 2010, at 09:33, Billy Asperger wrote:

I follow you regarding the craps hinted in the previous message. It's true that "you can lead todays lefties around by their dreadlock hair-extensions with the smallest tug". But at the same time we easily can admit that most of the people (doesn't matter whether they are lefties or whatever) really don't give a damn about the revolution a bunch of US had been theorizing (here or there).

I think what disconcerts me about the statement above is that it seems to take for granted a division between those who can "theorize" and the working class. If you are feeling a gap it isn't an intelligence gap it's a class gap; it's not about support for radical change it's over trust and sincerity in those who claim to know better what is good and bad and their good intentions to realize it. It's not because ordinary people do not or can not understand the workings and evils of the system it's because they know them much better: "intellectuals" more than often lack real knowledge of just what it is like to be born into trapped, exploited, cheated and abused neighbourhoods.

I'm working class and all the people I work with are working class (in fact at the moment every last one of them is black working class) and I can tell you a clear and certain fact—that I have heard more genuine insight, shrewdness and sincerity from the mouths of common people than from the pens of middle class and academic "vanguards of the working class", or from the white-people-with-dreadlocks brigade who are rooted nowhere and ultimately committed to nothing as a result.

But there is nothing wrong or pointless about "theorizing", though it's a word I do not find helpful. Discussion ought to take place to try and deepen understanding of how everything works. Those who can do it should do it—and take a clearer perception of conditions back to the communities in which they live and work. Everyone needs to think, so why snip off the activity of thinking, call it theorizing and divorce it ideologically and socially from its application in daily life?

I need to add though that not a lot of what takes place on lists like this, or seminars in colleges or in all the other supposedly intellectual theatres where this "theorization" is supposedly taking place...is anything of the kind. On the contrary it seems to be a battleground where people hone and refine the very things they claim to be against; find new excuses to obscure the truth and divert others from coalescing around it. It is class war over the spectacle. It would be nice to have genuine discussion once in a while but in the absence of true common roots or listserv mediation it isn't very common.

Asperger: "People are enchanted and mesmerized by "the apparent" of the spectacle and that fucking pseudo(?) "objectivity" is good and is enough from their point of view. They feel comfortable being trapped inside the great show of appealing-consuming-producing-exploiting and so on. The spectacular society is reassuring for their simple and mechanical minds."

I can't begin to tell you just how condescending and spectacular a cliché that is. Instead I'll say something potentially more interesting. Human existence is existential: there must be something to fill the void and to structure everyday life, and there must be an ideological framework, a worldview, only within which all words, phenomena, values and beliefs acquire a place and a meaning and a value. Worldview, and all the habits that stream forth from it, is as fundamental and material a necessity as food water and air. It's the way we are made.
Therefore ultimately there is no complete distinction possible between what is spectacle and what is situation; or what is recuperation and what is detournement and so on. There are only inherited models from which to construct models. Very little truth, if any, is ahistorical; all ideas, appearances, meanings and values must exist in a perpetual war over ideas, appearances, meanings and values.

What is eternal is the wisdom of good conduct—of seeing and revealing the truth in all its partiality, of understanding the common interest of fairness and distributing needs and opportunities with equity. What is eternal also seems to be that which I call "original sin" -- the tendency to imitate and repeat evils and errors, to reiterate imperfect worlds from imperfect worlds; bad habits of mind and behaviour that not having been perceived for what they are cannot be rooted out: "karma". Thus life is not really composed of true and false images nor even right and wrong values so much as right and wrong choices. From the existential point of view, to be free means to be condemned to choose between the good and the evil within alternative possible actions—endlessly. No wonder they fall back into the provided routines, spectacles and social clichés: it is so much easier to have something that tells you what to do than to have to face each and every moment in a cosmic abyss of uncertainty.

And these "theorizations" you're referring to are simultaneously an attempt to defend an Ideology of distorted self-serving de/perceptions at war with the attempt to add and revise it with new understandings of the truth. The fact is, the "Left" (whose name itself is as spectacular a piece of nonsense as you could ever hope for) has been struggling with the contradiction between its moral outrage for the world's underdogs and the fact that the underdogs will not meekly back them up in return ever since it robbed the working class of its politics, at about the same time it started robbing rastafarians of their hair-dos, the genuinely homeless of their squatters movements and so on. All the class rhetoric and fashionware and shrunken heads by which today's radicals identify themselves have been stolen from somebody else—as if by possessing their tattoos and music, hairstyles and footwear you could somehow take power over their souls and legitimize yourselves.

But white men can't sing the blues.


Stranger Than Fiction, Joe Green Survives

Friends of Joe

Whether a work is a piece of fiction, or one man's peace is a work of truth matters little here nor will long be remembered. Feelings can be hurt. Names can be changed. But in the end, no reader ever becomes the wiser after the petty shuffle of literary camouflage has been cracked like a giant oyster. If an author dubs his contribution a work of fiction, while based on reality, then why change the names of those characters who fit the billing as clearly as any emperor's new array of clothing fits the emperor? It's already been declared fiction, after all. Whether the Joe Green in a work of fiction resembles a Joe Green kicked to the curb in Hometown USA matters nary a nub.

Again I ask, how can curbside Joe whine about slander derived from a work of fiction? The simplicity of this question and its even simpler solution is easily discovered: Should the likeness an author paints upon his own fictitious Joe Green prove false as it concerns the real Joe Green, so be it. No harm, after all, work of fiction, right? A work of fiction is confined, defined and refined by its author's creative biases, not the concerns of some curbside Joe Green. Are names and situations in a bustling planetary grope, like fingerprints or DNA samples, unique and proprietary? If however an author's fictitious Joe Green does indeed resemble the real Joe Green, how can Joe Green sue for libel and slander on matters of truth even if depicted in a work of fiction? Truth is truth, and not a matter for libel and slander. The old ways of passing judgment on humanity are evaporating. Imperative truth is imperative fiction and all fiction is soon written into truth. Considering this mighty truism, can't we just get on with it?

Background Check, Please

Light Unto The Nations
Light Unto The Nations

Originally published on January 31, 1997

And the second phase of literary hiccups...

Yesterday over the telephone, I was drilled by an investigator doing a background check on Bob Blumstein who is some government clearance for a new job he is seeking. I imagine I did a decent enough job deflecting with humor the questions I felt uncomfortable answering for fear my take on truth would hamper Bob's ambitions. The one corner I got backed into concerned Bob's emotional status. I had no choice but to mention his diagnosis and bouts with chronic fatigue syndrome and the medication. I did not mention prozac by name, and the investigator was surprisingly soft on followup in this area. A few one liners I tossed around included:

Question: something along the lines of does Mr. Blumstein strike you as a solid neighbor, easily getting along with others...

GT response: "Well, we've disagreed on things every now and then, but from your own investigative prospective, I don't know whether this reflects poorly on Bob, or me."

Question: something along the lines of has Mr. Blumstein shown any signs of possible emotional breakdown or instability...

GT response: "Well, as I am not a trained psychologist, I certainly am not qualified or comfortable answering such questions with any sort of authoritative voice..."

Question: something along the lines of do I think Mr. Blumstein would be a good security risk...

Answer: "Mmm, again I know nothing about governments clearances except that Bob has occasionally mentioned in passing, of course without specific detail, other accesses and clearances he has won over the years in his job as an Air Force reservist, and I suppose other job hurdles in the past..."

I was asked maybe 40 questions, some overlapping in theme, but only the direct medical liability question led me to a response that I felt could possibly be held against him, although at the end of the interview the investigator apprised me of the Privacy Act of 1983, and how Bob could request a detailed report on this interview and would discover that I had given him favorable marks. But yes, of course this is what the investigator would say to me, so I wonder how much damage my candor and my obvious deflections (as opposed to a drone-like apotheosis) might have done to his chances of winning his clearance, should all Bob's other cronies not play the rat's game.

Overall, I was articulate and calculating, punching through with wordplays and jokes as well as honestly suggesting that Bob is as straight a Joe as I've known. I counted on forthrightness as opposed to monotonic one word responses as a plus. Bob had given Sue the chore of this interview, but she never returned the phonecall after the interviewer came to the house leaving a note I found when checking the mail that day.

I must have slept in flu lethargy straight through the knocking. On the phone, the investigator, after asking for Sue soon turned his attentions to me, and offered a choice of phone or face to face interview. After acknowledging my sickness and joking if he could bear with me, I accepted the challenge, and relieved Sue. She was grateful, and I think Bob would be as well. I believe, despite the one problem area, I executed a more than adequate defense of Bob's integrity.

Question: Have you known Mr. Blumstein to indulge in illicit drugs at any time?

GT response: "Bob has stayed emphatically clear of this sort of indulgence."

Question: Have you known Mr. Blumstein to have a problem with alcohol?

GT response: "Bob is somewhat of a beer connaisseur. He brews his own beer as a devoted hobbyist, but I certainly would not characterize Bob as a problem drinker."

Question: something along the lines of do I think Mr. Blumstein is an honest man, a man of integrity...

GT response: "To tell you the truth sir, Bob is as honest a person as I know, his integrity impeccable. We joke and call ourselves the radical middle, a return to sanity.

And on and on...

Enjoy the rest of the Bracken as biographer commentary. And let me know what you know of these top secret drills. They certainly breed paranoia and intimately define the faith of friendship in terms I know I must address in "the ouster of Tim" affair, so catch ya later...


Quoting Marx, Groucho Marx

punkThanks for the fabulous email, Tom. Let's face it, you and I have never been email chums. How could we with your persistent cynicism, a rival in status, a superior in hubris? The damned sandbox is just too small for the both of us on most things no matter how many Donovan Leitch albums I throw on the turntable. You snark on me. I turn the tables on you. Wittgenstein versus Popper in tone, the hour growing late. Your rather subjective description of what specific meaningful task email performs for some anonymous technogeek as representative of the whole as to what a piece of email is or can be—is something of a marvel worthy only of one who thinks everyone else should squat in the same corner as he does.

For Tom Howell to lecture Gabriel Thy on "walking along the littered shore line of the twentieth century, looking for treasures in the trash" expecting to break through somehow is quite funny—given the subject matter, let's call them the dry bones of men, of relic-worshipping superstitious ages, and other metapsychological artifacts that you've established as a baseline for inquiry in terms of your own artistic career.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, who is said to have quipped in some venue or another that he'd never want to join a club that would have someone like him, I would observe that I just don't want to join a club or school that would need a debate in accepting me or not. Not now, not at this point in my kinetic energies. Oh, I may exhibit a social pang to run with some herd every once in a while, but I've never known a group that didn't try to enforce a form of groupthink, and thus I brazenly adopt my role as a role-wrecking anarchist. Liberty of choice taking full responsibility for those choices. But one can never be sure what's lurking around the bend. Remaining open to equations unforeseen and seizing upon one is not quite the same slow dance of the glamour years, as you so aptly point out. The noise of competition is indeed deafening, so I refuse to compete. I quit the club scene years ago, keeping to my work.

As for expecting to breakthrough, who are you kidding? I gave that up about the time I met you. There's no place to go. I do what I do because I am compelled to do it. That is all, just long enough to face Death himself without malice. So what drives you off the cliff?