Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Sat, 18 May 1996 17:42:58 CDT

fanciful figmentation than that. More serious is our inability to recognize
an entrenched myth, however largely or totally fictitious, once it has got
entrenched in "our" Past. As Vance Geiger has, for the nonce, taken over
the Humour Department, I must this month say this In The Clear, to wit,
that the Past is part of the Reality of a society or Civilization-area,
where the upper-case R indicates the "ideologisphere," as opposed to
objective reality [lower case].

In Classical Athens, 5th Century BC, Thucydides had already found the
Homeric account of the Trojan War, in the Iliad, implausible. Since then,
with the decipherment of Linear B, it has become clear that "Homer,"
whatever is meant by that name, had neither awareness nor understanding
of the implications of literacy in the Bronze Age. Nor did "Homer"
know or understand anything about Bronze Age chariot warfare.

Drews, in The End of the Bronze Age, 1993, states that both Thebes
and Troy VI were destroyed c. 1220 BC. This is, however, not to uphold
the historicity of the Seven Against Thebes and *epigoni* myths, nor
that of *The* Trojan War ("Traditional" Greek date, 1184 BC). Elsewhere,
he concurs with Redford (Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, 1992)
to the effect that the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan stories are fiction,
indulging in some guesswork as to why the Israelites might have found it
congenial to have believed such stuff. He does, however, say that the
Biblical epics of the war against the Canaanite city of Lachish have
been archeologically confirmed to the extent that Lachish was indeed
destroyed in the 12th century BC. He notes that the Southern Tribes'
story, that Lachish was taken by Joshua, and the Northern Tribes' story,
that it was taken by Deborah and Barak, are mutually contradictory.

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. Historians
are now permitted or required to Know a different Past from that
Known by Biblical scholars and Classical scholars. (To whom you cannot
doubt the historicity of Exodus or Trojan War, respectively, without
having your head handed to you. I have verified the latter on ANCIEN-L.)
K is uppercased in Know due to the peculiarities of Knowledge, in the
sociological sense, anent which I have written at book length on this
list (and should've kept a collection for publication, dammit, but who
knew). Our ideology requires that whatever is designated Science is
required to be True, so far as the most Advanced Knowers of Knowledge
in the given subfield of Science may attest (uppercasings indicating
ideological usage). Which guarantees, however precariously it may look
at this moment, the hegemony of Natural Selection over Creationism.
What is denied the mantle of Science, ie, the Humanities, eg History,
benefits, if that's the correct word, by no such enforcement powers
of the State. To clarify the latter, on the parallel with biology,
our courses for college freshbeings, entitled INT HIS WES CIV 103-104
(course numbers applicable only to the college of my choice), ought
properly to require freshly-rewritten textbooks, profitable for publishers,
of course, emphatically denying the historicity of the events depicted
in the Iliad and Torah. The Greek government would send a formal protest
over the Iliad; Greece is a NATO ally. Of course, this is not the *same
thing* as it was during the Cold War, especially with the Turkish Army
tied down by Kurdish revolt. The Greek State even enforces on its popu-
lation the demonstrably false proposition, according to Medieval Historians
and Byzantinists, of the biological descent of Modern Greeks from the
Classical Hellenes (ie, because of the extermination of Greek speakers
by Bubonic plague and Slavic speakers during the sixth-seventh centuries).
The reaction of Christians, Jews, and even Muslims, to the repudiation
of the literal Word of the Old Testament over The Exodus and the
historicity of Moses I shall leave to your imagination (or mine, whenever
I get silly enough to do the uproar in question justice). Well, of course.
But State power, as has been plain on both sides for decades, even the
better part of a century, protected Natural Selection against organized
religion even at the high school level; recall the Scopes "monkey trial"
of 1925.

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." Pro-Afrocentrist, in order to rope in Martin
Bernal's Black Athena, where strictly speaking the author - never mind
that he threatens us with another two volumes - maintains that both
Egyptian *and Phoenician* influences shaped Classical Greece; evidence
of much interest in the latter has been slender thus far. Feminist, in
connection with the alleged gender-egalitarian utopia of Minoan Crete,
as propounded by Sir Arthur Evans in 1902 on the basis of Minoan frescoes
and religious artifacts. Riane Eisler and Ruby Rohrlich have added an
epicycle to this utopian figment to account for the "fact" that the
sole source of history-like materials about Crete, Greek Myth, mentions
only patriarchal figures Minos and Rhadamanthus. These are turned into
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. And I went on for 400
unreadable lines as to why that might be so.

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 same with Reality as
with the "social relations of production." When the troops mutiny and go
over to the Revolution, this Reality goes out the window. I have previously
cited Braudel's aphorism, "The '[R]eality of a social order surrounds us
like the air we breathe.'" And also compared "Revolutionary situations"
to "Los Angeles": "When you can see the air, something truly stinks." And,
as well, cited the example of Shahpur Bakhtiar, last monarchist Prime
Minister of Iran, in his interview with The New York Times of Friday,
February 9, 1979. Pointing to a stack of French newspapers on his desk,
Bakhtiar told the reporter, "I have to read the foreign press to find
out what's going on in my own country. The local press has lost touch
with [R]eality.'" Bakhtiar was overthrown in the Tehran insurrection
of Feb 10-11, 1979.

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.

Daniel A. Foss