Re: distortion

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Tue, 21 May 1996 15:13:49 -0700

On Sat, 18 May 1996, Daniel A. Foss wrote (among other things):

> Our own categorization of Knowledge about the Past, ie, into Fiction,
> Nonfiction, and within the latter, History, is ethnocentric: We're
> skeptical (or credulous) about the Other's tall tales, but surround
> our own with electrified fences and minefields of taboo. ...
> As I said in previous posts, Pro-Afrocentrist and Feminist Bronze Ages
> have been concocted in recent times out of oppositional-ideological "needs
> for counter-Knowledges..."
> Epistemologically, the results are as follows. The standard state-of-
> the-art scholarship is taught in History Departments; the Afrocentric
> version is taught in the Africana Studies Department (as it was called
> in SUNY Stony Brook); and the Feminist variant may or may not be taught,
> howbeit with caution, in the Women's Studies Department.
> In still another post, I suggested that our own society, and the
> so-called Western Civilization the latter parexcellencifies, is as
> myth-prone, with all the counter-empirical ideological tendencies
> thereof, as any other. Whereof anthropology itself should exemplify
> awareness. Which it most certainly does not.
> As suggested above, the guarantee of our Reality, ie, the Ideologis-
> phere, is the State, ie, "an organization possessing a legitimate monopoly
> of the means of violence in a given territory...."
> The guarantee of any Past is the coercive socialization and cultural
> assimilation apparatus, ultimately guaranteed by the same violent means
> whereby all hierarchical relations are guaranteed. The Past exists,
> socially, as part of the culture's "job" of rendering hierarchy, hegemony,
> and Inferiority [="subalternity," if you insist], and all that's given
> shape and character therefrom, "Meaningful."
> What we see among ourselves, ie, by crediting Myth with the capability
> for providing even "DISTORT"ed representations of the Past, is the
> implicit denial that the Past is the systematically counter-empirical
> misrepresentation of "what wuz," I called it, in an essentially alienated
> form. Since what ideology as a whole does is misrepresent society as it
> is, and put up with it.
Okay. History (and "scientific" means for discovering/encountering/
deciphering/evaluating the objective past) is giving way to ideological
or emotional or just-plain-deranged mythmaking.
Is this just normal social evolution, meaning nothing much? Abnrmal
social evolution, possibly portending something? An academic reprise of
the religious currents that have impelled so many non-academics into
evangelical protestantism or Islamic fundamentalism? A sign of
forthcoming social breakup, or what? Why is the State or its organs
failing to defend orthodoxy? Is the modern state too weak to defend
orthodoxy, too disinterested, or co-opted by the proponents of new myths?

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge