look of truth: consider the cindy crawfords of the field
Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Fri, 12 Apr 1996 20:23:31 CDT
which persist, even well beyond their demolition by professional historians;
the failure to shake the findings of the latter by inevitably manifesting
"revisionists," some benign, others dangerous selfservers (eg Holocaust
Revisionists); and the convergence of historians upon the once-controversial
findings, now substantiated to redundancy.
For example, the "myth" of German war guilt by reason of aggression in World
War One has something to it, after all. Efforts by "revisionists" during the
inter-war period (1920's and 1930s, a concededly Eurocentric temporal demarca-
tion alien to the East Asian experience) to attribute blame for the outbreak
of the war indiscriminately and equally among the belligerent blocs has been
refuted (according to Donald M. Kagan, The Origins of War and the Preservation
of Peace, 1995). This is only to limit our purview to the decision-making of
July 1914, however. To account for the ever-mounting probability of war, which
is the more relevant causal problem, one must extend the retrospective view at
least as far back as William II's dismissal of Bismarck and the discontinuation
of the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, ensuring that Germany, should war break
out, would fight on two fronts, dictating a strategic plan such as Schlieffen's
which threatened Belgian neutrality, ranging England against Germany. To clinch
the apparent historical inevitability, William II obnoxiously challenged
British sea power in an irrational, unwinnable naval arms race. This is still
not fundamental enough.
None of the belligerent states in World War I contemplated the duration and
death tolls from firepower that would make the war the sort it turned out to
have been. Very notably, Max Weber, apostle of "value neutrality," was among
the cheering crowds on the streets celebrating what he called "this great and
wonderful war!" The Second International split into national belligerent blocs
because the several socialist parties accepted their social betters' optimistic
forecasts of a six weeks' to six months' war of movement, not the autogenocidal
"superbly equipped factory of the extermination of mankind" (Ilya Eherenburg).
And once the belligerents were committed to fight a total war, it was fought
with class-determinate callousness and brutality inconsiderate of economy of
expenditure of human life till the supply ran out; in this, the elders did not
spare the juniors of their own privileged classes.
We retain the original villain/badguy, Kaiser Wilhelm II; but complete the
dishonour roll with a disgusting rogues gallery of social irrationality, with
bloodguilt crimes of massmurdering use of the power of command charged against
all privileged; the supine acquiescence in and obedience to the severely warped
to utterly insane social policies of the belligerents' elites and ruling
classes, by reason of ideological misrepresentation of society to itself, as
well as ingrained habitual servility, charged to the victimized masses of all
Why did I indulge in the foregoing? I'm reminded, guiltily, that when I wish
to partypoop, having spotted, say, a victim enjoying LSD or something of the
sort, I will find an opening for the line, "Why should you get off without
knowing what I gotta know!?"
Sociologically, Truth is what would seem to organize information into an
esthetically elegant, wellgroomed lineament. It has "face validity," Else,
despite its admittedly "counterintuitive" aspect, a moment's reflection will
reveal even more splendid visions of "crystalline structures." That phrase,
I recall, was uttered by an individual who, at 3am, under the influence of
LSD, in 1967, regaled me with his having Beheld "crystalline structures...of
pure logic." Until, "Awwwww, there was a tiny flaw." For the sake of the
"crystalline structures of pure logic" I didn't throw him out. Would you?
The "counterintuitive," too, is *emotionally compelling*. Who doesn't know
Tertullian's defiant, "It is absurd. Therefore I must believe." Even "face
validity" is more Noble, Pedigreed, and Dignified than "vulgar commonsense,"
at one time the lowest form of mental life under the name, "naive empiricism."
Yes, good people, I myself was called "naive empiricist" in California, in the
August Halls of UCLA, one August, by tenured revolutionary marxists, graduate
student runningdogs nipping at my heels.
I fear not one supernatural, imaginary being has yet been mentioned; not a
single fluffy thing with gossamer wings whose metaphysical power defies matter
in its path, including RAID with 90-day killing power. Yet the Spiritualization
of Knowledge *ad maiorem gloriam dei [et doctoribus]*, where the first four
words are the motto of a distinguished university in Chicago, the latter two
optional, have the effect of limiting partypooping of the sort I do for sport
(see above) Highly Inappropriate. [Note: By actual empirical observation, the
latter two words may be operationalized as, "what a psychiatrist calls his
brother-in-law"; ie, "That was *highly inappropriate*, Larry."]
In 1967ish, I found myself in Syracuse NY, extruded from the labour force,
as commonly occurred. At this time, fortuitously, new social categories were
generated, I knew not how or from where, and eagerly did I seek to apply for
membership, as this suited my interest. The first of these was "nonstudent."
One of the quirks of my homemade stereo was the pickup of police radios going
up South Crouse Av. "Getting so, y'can't tell the nonstudents from the students
anymore." Ah, so. The next category was "dropout," even more like nonstudent
than the latter was like itself; my nom de guerre became I.M.VERMIN; yet even
here there was Appropriate Behaviour wherein I lagged; "hangups," they said.
Theft was Good; objection entailed the humiliation of the coveted eg book
being thrust into my bag by a disgusted socializer. Without the Higher Learning
(whose incineration I would demand daily on streetcorners), however, the non-
studenthood and dropoutdom would have been deprived of econmic base and social
organization. There was a large though nongreat university preseent, whose ties
via board memberships to corporations, lawfirms, politicians, banks and the
Metropolitan Development Association (whereof the effective CEO of the univer-
sity was Executive Director), was endowed with a Latin motto. SUOS CULTORES
SCIENTIA CORONAT. Officially this was translated "Knowledge adorns the seeker."
I'd taken high school Latin from real Irish; accumulated as one curious of
historical social movements a factoid inventory of heresiology; hence believed
it more accurately translated as, "Knowledge makes kings of those who worship
it with blind faith." (Social science can easily establish this having face
validity.) The Knowledge I'd originally sought, sociological, had as its
premise, "Beneath all superficial appearances are underlying realities." This
mantra was chanted in the face of jeering hordes of vulgar students berating
the Persecuted Minority of True Believers with taunts of "sociology, shitman,
that's bullshit, nothin' but common sense an' shit." [Note: Direct quote as
empirically recorded as qualitative data.] Though I carried signs, eg,
NIHILISTS FOR NOTHING NOW! yet did I cling like yellow peach goo to the ideal
of Truth. There was a practical, selfinterested consideration also involved.
I was so naive, infantile, and inept, Appropriate Behaviouristically, that I
was incapable of detecting lies, one of the more basic social-interactional
devices, and among the stronger features, I believe, driving the development
of language whereof the H.sap.sap. species is the star. "Appropriate Behaviour"
and "tact" were not emically distinct from lies. Accordingly, not merely did I
refrain from lies, I made irrational demands upon others to do likewise. Later,
near the End, an Associate Dean of the College in New Jersey would say, "Funny
thing, whatever Else they may say about you, Foss, there's always one thing;
*you never lie*." But in 1969, with PhD in hand and facing permanent unemploya-
bility, I was sharing an apartment with The Grim Reaper at 119 Avondale Pl,
Syracuse NY 13210. The landlord would give us endless lectures on Moral Virtue
and Morality; on the other hand the rent was exiguuous. We were degenerates,
yet to Mr Shuffler, we were *Jewish* degenerates: "Man is not an animal."
"Then logically, sir," I committed my first tree hug, "he is a plant." This
did not exhaust expenses, also including Drugs sold by Mr Shuffler's son, Ron.
These, as factory rejects, we discarded. Endless days of lyingaround would,
inexorably, lead, especially with a good production run at Fred Enterprises
factory, to arguments about Truth. "But, but, *Truth*," I sputtered. "The
Truth is True, that's about all you can say for it," he'd say. "What I like
is, lies." Given what we knew about ideology, false consciousness, distortion,
media coverage, authoritative rhetoric, NY Times editorials (as touchstones of
Objectivity in an uncertain world of dubious positions which, therefore, I'd
repeat in public contrariwise eg: "I call for acts of senseless violence which
will shock and astound the civilized world, casting into the junkheap the once
proud tradition of [Columbia][Syracuse] University, abandoned to barbarism and
darkness of cultural desolation!"), downright propaganda, reifications ("dis-
ruption of the educational process") and mystifications ("The buildings of
Columbia University may still stand, but the Soul has gone out of them"), it
turned out, "A GOOD LIE IS HARD TO FIND."
The intermediate states separating the Truish from the lesser breeds of non-
truth which, however inadvertently, befogged mental life "like a phantasma," in
Marxish words, rendering the relatively high-purity Truishness as well as the
outright *danmed goddam mothafuckin' dirty filthy cocksuckin' LIE, you bastit*,
increasingly notional extremes. Maybe this had something to do with my scraw-
ling APOCALYPSE NOW on walls years prior to the propagation of that pair of
words by mediamavens who knew what they were doing, as I never did. Except
on the theoretical level. Time would multiply the forms and variants of non-
truth; the spin, the instantquote (soundbite), the proliferation of Daniel
Boorstein's notion of the "pseudo-event" into the photo-op, the leak, the
coverup, perhaps upon occasion, of what never occurred; the delusions and
hallucination intentional or not; the epistemological status of neoclassical
economics, whereby it's called "theology" by Eric Hobsbawm, The Age Of
Extremes, 1995; and the coincidence in time of very high and rising standards
of *scholarship* with the utter abandonment, see Progressive Sociologists
Network, psn@Csf.Colorado.Edu, for empirical evidence, of the enterprise of
We cannot "figure out what the hell is going on," the mission of the
theorist. Whatever Truth is, this is my candidate for the most serious devia-
tion from the True, the exemplification of the counterempircal, the aint.
Remember that an entity in the grip of grandiosity delusion told you this.
Daniel A. Foss