order clarity sense and sundry virtuous things

Tue, 12 Apr 1994 11:50:50 EDT

roles may take on the appearance of order, stateliness, great pomp, ritual
splendour, and other characteristics appealing to the visually imaged
esthetic, yet the substance of that which is displayed is not present,
has never been present, is ceremonial pretense?

Do we not agree that the formal appearances of "clean lines," orderly
linear-sequential logic, majestic abstact grand designs, and cosmic unities
constructed from perfectly formed building blocks on organizational charts
or the order of battle of the satanic host, proffer "clarity" which should
not exist because that which was made clear does not, cannot? Consider
theology, more susceptible to exactitude than any other discipline insofar
as precision is entirely definitional. Where, moreover, the object of this
quondam Queen of the Sciences is the study of the nature and powers of
imaginary beings.

Above all, in our own society, our immediate difficulty on every hand is
the making of sense of that better regarded as nonsensical, irrational, and
undeserving of the spurious precision wherewith needs are budgeted for,
expenditures calculated as to cost-effectiveness, and credentials issued
which confer the right to learn a skill on the job? Or is it that social-
stratum membership confers the presumption of skill, on the same basis that
the Duke of Medina Sidonia was appointed commander of the Spanish Armada in
1588? Sociologists call the practice of awarding jobs on the basis of social
class appearances "neo-ascribed status." The capacity to tell what is necessary
(how much *information is necessary*), who is overpaid or what makes superpro-
fits for doing work which should be undone before the social costs of leaving
it in place becomee prohibitive, and what socially desirable or even vital work
is never done or even thought of being done because its profitability is not
imaginable given externalities taken for granted which nobody at this time
seriously anticipates getting changed.

Aggregated, we have nonsense, muddle, incoherence, competent or even
inspired individuals contributing to aggregate ruin, and to go with it,
a culture persisting in "doing its job" which is continuing at all costs
- to us in the end - of having it make sense. What looks like order disguises

Given an adequate theory which unerringly indicates the irrationalities,
substantive disorderly confusion, wasteful expenditures of human energy and
ingenuity on socially destructive ends, and so forth, we should merely go
forth and make nonsense wherever spurious sense is found.

But we can't.

Daniel A. Foss