Facts, facts and more facts–give me nothing but facts, or so we could say Mr Gradgrind would say . . . did say in similar words, I remember Hard Times by Dickens. I read it in college for an urban sociology class, not a literature class. Ours is another call for needful things. The one truly needful thing in our world, our culture, our country, this civilization of ours–whose civilization is it? How long has this civilization been on-going? I have not disbanded with older notions of what our civilization has been, has meant, could have meant in face of what it has never meant, even if it tried to mean it for itself. Now, we can say that the highest wisdom is Doubt. Nothing but doubt will do. It is our first philosophy.
Yes, give us doubt and nothing else but doubt. Doubt, doubt and more doubt. Didn’t Socrates say, “I know nothing?” Didn’t Montaigne also begin with an inquiry rooted in doubt? Moreover, the only wisdom ever needed, or so we assume, is an overriding doubt at the end of the day. We do not begin with the rhetorical posture of doubt, but conclude it after all, ending with an oppressive doubting of knowledge and the possibility of knowing anything.
The new dogma complete–you find it at the heart of everything we do and think–thinking itself having come under assault even in the academies of higher learning. You could say that doubt has been instilled, imposed–no, that it has been planted to bear the fruit of a greater nihilism. But we wouldn’t like to hear that.
It must be facts for me; doubt is an end and not a means to understanding the limits of knowledge, of what knowledge is or could be, not what I know, but the end of all knowing. As a result, I have only things, facts as things, disconnected, more like confetti to throw into the air, the only effect being how pretty it looks as it falls in array. Facts, facts and more facts, of course only facts and the first and last fact of them all is that even facts can lie, even facts are uncertain. The one overarching and singularly guiding fact is doubt. I must doubt Truth, even all truths, any truth, minuscule ‘t’ truths accumulating in reserve. I only have to look at our contemporary civilization’s guiding metaphysics, look to my participation in my culture’s assault on reason, on truth, on, yes, dare I say beauty–or should I say in deference to a lost initiative.
Reason, Truth and Beauty?
Capital letters bear a specific morphology; yes, they carry with them a particular meaning. I reveal certain prejudices when I say Beauty–a neo-Romanticism we might conclude, but then the Romantics had more heart while yet keeping their heads.
I don’t have to look long to see how in love with doubt as a form of wisdom I have come to be in this culture–just reveal that you actually know something in a group of anyone you understand to have been fully formed by our systematic under-education over the last quarter of a century. Doubt, doubt and more doubt is all I ever need to know–Truth as Beauty or Beauty Truth has long been lost in the mists of Post-post Structuralist mystifications. Even in politics this is the only guidance we allow. It is the one overriding reason such trash gets accepted in our political campaigning, the levels of demagoguery and semi-literacy–alphabetics, all of us, yes, able to spell our names correctly. This of the possibilities–infinite possibilities–the true profit margin.
Of course, it is correct to assess that political campaigns have always been comprised of that which expresses the lesser of ourselves, the lower of our impulses, the baser of our instincts, an oversimplification at best, or at worst, the grossest in the simplistic that is possible without all campaigning falling down in an avalanche of fragments.
What is different, though, is the lessening of the critique; moreover, the remove from which anyone tries to levy an alternative to how we elect, how we campaign, or what the media does with our politics and politicking, how they package our politicians.
The media rarely critiques itself; that would be too much to ask, I know. The inarticulateness on our part has left us in a position where the potential for opposing politics as it gets played on the American stage is approaching impossible.
I, who do oppose contemporary politics as it has been played in the arenas of states across the globe, have also helped create a cultural weakness in itself a strength only in its power to debilitate. Weakness is weakness, though, just as strength remains strength. The latter can only cleave to the latter, never the former. This is immutable. I should look closely at our most recent historical precedence over the last one hundred or more years, particularly the last fifty or sixty here in America, but most assuredly in France as well as here in the United States–there is a pervading nihilism at the heart of our common Western culture, worse, at the core of our civilization, yes, Western Civilization.
Again, doubt, doubt and more doubt is what we teach, what we expect, what we receive from our ideas that there is no Truth, there is nothing transcendent, there are no absolutes, there is no Absolute, and, of course, that everything is relative, itself an error a lot less than human. We have become grossly irresponsible–I have my excuses.
The assault on Truth, the idea of Truth, and subsequently our persistent attack on the validity of truth after truth until the possibility of determining any truth has become so undermined that there is no truth and anyone can say anything because what I feel is the most important thing to express–and you do not even have to believe this to do this. It is preferably in the most spontaneous speech because what is spontaneously expressed will be the most honest, I assume, has left me unable to mount any defense of democracy and the assaults on democratic living here at home, while power gets more powerful and money more monied. But the trickle down theory (really Hypothesis) is something like cum out of cunt when a woman stands after having been fucked–or should I say, after she fucks . . . to fuck or not to fuck, all us fucked by the state–why do we insist in the word fuck for rape or even when getting screwed is the meaning. We’re always debasing sex by our more violent or criminal tendencies.
Here is another way of expressing either what some call natural and others call organic–either conception has become our nightmare, the ascension of a virtual adolescent world view where there are no hierarchies of value anywhere for anything and no experts in anything, all in an attempt to more widely disseminate opinions democratically, or, for everyone to be equal in his opinions. And I do endure the inane, the hopelessly foolish, because I want people to listen to my opinions, no matter how ignorant or poorly framed they are. Without truth there are no foundations for facts, so we–so I–persist in expressing opinions based on what we feel–I feel–and I am as in love with emotion and emotionalism as everyone else seems to be in this America perpetually seeking instant fame–fifteen seconds, not minutes, Mr. Warhol.
Emotion is not passion. Both passion and knowledge actually scare us.
Who’s to say became no one can say, and we all agreed with no one could say because everyone wanted to say something, and wanted even an immediate, yet temporary, validity assigned to his or her opinion. The only way we could get anyone to listen to our unqualified opinions was to undermine truth, the nature of evaluation, the notion of hierarchies and the fact that opinions do have quality.
Without authority everyone became an expert for fifteen minutes. No one but an elite are really famous, so we took having expertise for fifteen minutes, that is, until someone else disagreed and then we had to listen to him, no matter how inane the opinion might be. Without quality for opinions there remains quantity, and that’s not quantification, but a sum totaling addition of opinions.
Popularity and plurality have taken over our ethics, which is why we always defer to star actors and actresses as spokesmen or spokeswomen. Truth is numerical, arithmetic, additional. This is the prelude to the will to power. This is what we suffer socially and economically today. We have no other reasons for why anyone accumulates the wealth that is accumulated by the rich and powerful; the monied elite are far too monied, but we no longer have access to the reasons why this should offend us. We do not, in our semi-literacy, have the ability to express our position. In fact, we no longer are able to discern a position as a People to stand in counterweight to the State or as a corrective for power.
The agents who are supposed to manage this in our media are so corrupted by having become so semi-literate that they do stand opposed to power but grateful to it the way those who served the Czar used to be grateful. We do not have freedom for all, democracy for everyone, but only for the oligarchic elite, the powerful and the insanely monied. We do not have freedom and equality for African-Americans, we have the privilege system of affirmative action, and like all systems of privilege, they either exist in systems of inequality, or they create inequalities to perpetuate themselves as privilege systems. Privileges cannot exist where there is equality. The use of privileges for some groups is also used as a means toward a Machiavellian end; power divides us and conquers us.
But I do not have to be concerned for this–after having been systematically undereducated, allowed to become so lowly semi-literate, I cannot see that as stupid as I have become is not smart enough to know what I should know