Postmodernity: Luxuriating in Half-Truths as It Suffocates on Them

The so-called world map of Piri Reis (a Turkish admiral who was executed for his alarming competence: that’s how politics works) was created in about 1512.  It not only features an Antarctica whose existence no human being yet suspected—so we’re told—but it details rivers and mountain ranges with a precision whose truth could only be verified a few years ago and with the help of LIDAR.  The map shouldn’t exist.  Mainstream science and history can offer no explanation of why it does.

The Egyptian Pyramids have long been said by mainstream historians to be the tombs of Pharaohs, yet not a single corpse has ever been recovered from one.  Intricate shafts, too narrow for a human to pass through, have lately been identified in some of these structures.  The history books continue to insist that human labor piled block upon multi-ton block in the construction process by methods which would have been wholly impracticable.  For that matter, no one can explain how the massive stone blocks were moved dozens of miles from their quarry, any more than the same question can be answered of the megaliths at Stonehenge.

There is substantial, nearly incontrovertible evidence that the Egyptians visited Australia… and that the Maya had a presence in southeastern states like Georgia, and that the Cherokee and other tribes are descended from peoples originating in the Spanish peninsula who island-hopped to the Western Hemisphere during the last Ice Age.  Yet college textbooks and professional conferences ban such viewpoints from presentation.

The Moon is an entirely unique sort of satellite in our solar system.  No other so nearly approaches the size of its parent planet nor holds such a precisely circular orbit so happily coordinated with the planet’s own plain of orbit around the Sun.  Geological evidence contradicts the theory that the two bodies split apart and recondensed after a catastrophic meteoric event, and no computer model can reproduce the supposed path of evolution; yet this is the “story” confidently purveyed by PBS, the History Channel, and every other approved mouthpiece of the science establishment.

I had an early insight into how academe worked when I attempted to publish an article explaining a passage in Virgil’s Aeneid wherein the poet supposedly forgets the strand of his narrative.  I pointed out that if a certain word is translated in a certain fairly orthodox way, then all the trouble disappears.  The article was rejected: the reason offered was that Virgil himself doesn’t use this word in this way in any other passage.  So… because exceptional choices must not take place in a creative mind, according to the “scholars”, the poet remains a clumsy hack whose instances of ineptitude they have cleverly ferreted out.

I haven’t trusted “scholarship” or “science” fully for a long time, and I trust it less and less as I age.  I won’t bore my readers with another recitation of the events surrounding the “Phoenix Lights” incident of March 13, 1997.  Enough to say that an object or objects was or were videotaped by dozens and seen by hundreds in the air space of northern Arizona describing maneuvers of which no manmade craft is supposed to be remotely capable.  Governor Fife Symington himself saw some of the spectacle, vowed to research it, tastelessly disparaged it a few days later, and recently admitted that he was pressured by authorities (whom he did not identify) to make the uproar “go away”.  For its part, the military labeled the events a product of “signal flares”—an explanation patently contradicted by the video evidence of ordinary citizens.  The timing of whatever flares were dropped that night in fact suggests that jets were scrambled to scatter flares in response to the mysterious lights: i.e., our designated protectors almost at once focused their attention of plausible cover-up.

People in positions of authority and prestige lie to us all the time.  It has always been so, no doubt; but the consequence of being lied to have never been so dire.  We no longer live under a monarchy—though, at this rate, we shall soon have something of that species lording it over us.  We cannot make wise or even adequate choices about our high-tech, progressive culture’s future when the evidence supplied to us is not only too arcane for our understanding, but deliberately twisted to manipulate us toward a certain conclusion.  The intellectual inertia and self-serving “review process” inherent in the pompous academic world are bad enough; but when we are required to cast a vote on issues not involving where ancient Egyptian ships traveled, but where our taxes and our children will travel, misinformation is criminal, and may be lethal.

Yet I despair of our adequacy to the task.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched an admittedly somewhat sensationalized hour documentary about the Yeti (a.k.a. the Abominable Snowman).   I didn’t dismiss the opening claims out of hand.  Why should I?  Is an Asian Bigfoot so very hard to imagine?  The vast majority of Americans who chortle and rail at Sasquatch reports inhabit cities where they might see a squirrel twice a week and a raccoon once a month (hopefully not a rat once a day).  Their eagerness not to fall out of step with the “scientific consensus” trumps any faint awareness they may have of their own practical limitations in judging what kind of life a dense, remote forest could support.  Ninety-five percent of Sasquatch reports, to be sure, may readily be classed as misidentifications or hoaxes.  The reminding five percent… well, that’s about the same proportion of times that a poet might use a trite word in a slightly daring sense.

I hate living in a world where the five percent is airbrushed away, on grounds of statistical irrelevance.  The ability to recognize an aberration and then to account for it without dismissing it in veiled mockery could be a possible definition of intelligence.

It could also, alas, define incipient lunacy.  Back to the Yeti “documentary”.  Despite an initial regard for objective methodology, the presentation seemed to worry over its “entertainment value”.  The ante in the hour-long game of marvels kept rising.  Yeti doesn’t just inhabit the Himalayas: no, he’s here, in Northern California (like everything else weird).  Has anyone seen him?  Why, yes: a man garbed in a dress with waist-length hair in a bun and go-everywhere tattoos who has “written a book”.  Could the “investigative team” find any evidence corroborating his claim?  No, none; so… so, you know, this might be telling us that the Yeti is a “spirit being” who can travel through time portals!  Why not?  Native Americans tell tales of just such a being….

I find myself circling back to last week’s post—to the dismal conclusion that we’re constantly being forced into one of two camps.  Either you accept that the World Trade Center was destroyed exactly as given out… or you’re an Al Qaeda sympathizer.  Either you accept that the Second Amendment is outdated… or you’re a child-killer.  Either you acknowledge that manmade climate change will render the planet lifeless in about a decade… or you’re a mass murderer; or either you agree that our chemically saturated, EMR-immersed living environment is perfectly safe and really quite pleasant… or else you’re a green wacko who thinks that trees deserve the right to vote.

Perhaps the next step beyond our inability to sort through all the lies we’re told is a resignation to the “good lies” that support “our side”.  But do you really believe that there’s any dividing line other than that separating truth from untruth?  If so, welcome to the future.

Polarization Can Be Good… But Not in Cases of Magnetic Fraud

My wife insists that the whippoorwill fond of cranking it up every dawn outside our window isn’t the real thing—that she recalls the song’s full range from her childhood, and that this strident alarm clock doesn’t have it down properly.  Interesting.  You can believe me or not… but cardinals no longer sound the same as they once did.  I realize that we’ve moved much farther east, and that birds have dialects; but even when we yet lived in Texas, and even for years before I was married, the cardinal’s repertoire had been much reduced from what I distinctly recall as a boy.  For some reason, I have a very good aural memory (to compensate for my poor retention of faces).

What could explain this phenomenon of the bird world—the equivalent of great-great-grandfather Feathers handing down the line, “The wind, it bloweth where it listeth,” only to have the contemporary generation produce, “Wow, breeze comin’ from everwure today!”  We humans (or those few of us who remain alert to such things) understand that cultural impoverishment occurs when a population disperses over too much area too rapidly.  I dimly recall that Ortega y Gasset wrote an essay about how badly the Latin language decayed around the Empire’s peripheries during the second and third centuries.  Is it so far-fetched to suppose that bird populations have been similarly stressed by human activity?  They’ve had to spread out rapidly and resourcefully, just to survive.  In the process, the songs that they transmitted to the next generation were truncated, simplified, and—in a word—impoverished.

This doesn’t mean that our world will end in twelve years, or that we can stabilize the avian repertoire if we will only drive hybrid cars.  Yet I find in it a measure of how risky our high-tech, progressive, ever more urbanized habits of living have become.  We’re mutilating a quality of life constantly whose former richness we don’t begin to suspect.  I used to observe to students that Edgar Allen Poe’s Monsieur Dupin (the forefather of Sherlock Holmes) could direct a friend’s gaze to the Andromeda Galaxy from the streets of Paris without drawing a cry of “foul” from Poe’s readership.  These days, you’d need a pair of binoculars to locate the same one-degree swirl of stardust out in the boondocks.  Now, Poe never actually traveled to Paris… but the point is that his claim seemed plausible a little less than two hundred years ago. Our skies were once incredibly clean.

Am I somehow being a “defector from conservatism” to volunteer such concerns?  That would be an odd association of ideas, inasmuch as I’m speaking on behalf of conserving our natural environment from tasteless, needless, often poisonous artifice.  Yet so it is, in our lunatic present.  Because the Green movement has been kidnapped by One World Order types who want a central government to peer into every facet of our daily routine, any protest against commercialist exploitation that leaves forests or plains in ruins (such as wind turbines, may I say) is a kind of closet-Marxism. At least that’s what I’m given to understand in certain quarters that consider their right-wing bona fides irreproachable.

I’ve recently been “tweeting” (in notes far less lyrical than a cardinal’s) with a veteran of the armed services about the extreme inadvisability of the Pompeo-Bolton campaign of saber-rattling in Iran’s face.  Our own border is under assault—and we’re trying to ignite a powder keg halfway around the world because… because we wish to preempt the evil influence of Islam on global peace and create a terrestrial paradise.  I thought we’d worked—or I thought the putative Right had worked—through such utopian delusions during the two terms of the junior Mr. Bush.  Yet I’m a traitor, in some eyes, for not wanting to send Xenophon into Persia with ten thousand Spartans.  Wasn’t Mr. Trump supposed to have been elected in large measure because our society had had quite enough of such adventurous meddling in foreign affairs under Bush and Obama?  (And, for that matter, isn’t a solidifying of relations with Russia, drawing her away from our real and ultimate enemy—the PRC—a much more rational path to world peace?  And how will stirring up things in Iran extend an olive branch to Russia?)

About a month ago, I posted a piece about my change of heart on capital punishment.  I initially thought it a rather boring scribble—but few things I’ve ever published have drawn more fire… or, I should correct, “spirited exception”.  I’m of the opinion that the sore spots I apparently mashed exist because those opposed to the death penalty don’t mince words about what ravenous animals their adversaries are.  The discussion on this issue, as on most other national issues, has grown so polarized that a flag of truce soliciting a conference is immediately mistaken for the battle flag of a charging phalanx.

This past week, my adoptive state of Georgia and her immediate neighbor Alabama have drawn the ire of various Hollywood ghouls and media darlings for pushing back the highly permissive limits surrounding legal abortion.  My position is pro-Tenth Amendment.  Since abortion isn’t a right guaranteed to all Americans under the Bill of Rights (and, no, there is no Abortion Amendment implied in the Fourteenth’s ban of slavery, contrary to Hollywood analysis), let individual states set the boundary where they deem it appropriate.  Similarly, why may not the marriage ceremony be purged of any civil (read “tax/insurance”) significance and returned to its pristine religious dimension?  Faiths or denominations that choose to bless the union of two men or two women—or a human and a dog—may do so.  I don’t have to subscribe to them.  I shouldn’t even be required to say pleasant things about them in public… but the law prevents me from hurling rocks through windows or delivering dead cats to doorsteps.  That’s the nature of a liberal (i.e., free) society.

How “right-extremist” is the previous paragraph, and how “left-anarchic”?  I wouldn’t say that it was any of either… but it depends upon whom you ask, doesn’t it?  Invisibly, imperceptibly, a checklist of necessary positions appears to have evolved for either “side”—and I must throw quotes around “side”, because I myself see no very coherent line separating the rows of boxes, but only an insane zigzag.  If the Left’s hyperventilating hysteria over the “Trump Phenomenon” has any degree of validity, it must center upon the abject devotion registered by the man’s followers… you know, like that pledged so often on the Left to their endless stream of Peerless Leaders, Big Brothers, and Dear Friends.  Yeah, that worries me, too: wherever I see it, it worries me.  I very much doubt that Mr. Trump himself has ever before thought deeply about some the crises suddenly confronting him (hence his being persuaded to trust people like Pompeo and Bolton).

I’m not going to finish by writing, “Maybe we can all just calm down a bit.”  I’m not calm.  I have a son living in Denver, whose space-cadet town council seems intent on legalizing every hallucinogen known to shaman or rockstar.  I wish we could be “uncalm” in a consistent manner, however.  People of principle get worked up about behaviors that shred their principles; people of uncomposed mind get worked up about anything whose appearance in their peripheral vision startles them.

Who Must Police the Police? Concerned Citizens

Perhaps four months ago, I wrote a couple of pieces in response to Episode Six of the Netflix series, The Confession Tapes.  I wasn’t entirely prepossessed by these documentaries on extorted, distorted, or abused confessions.  Oh, I was outraged, like everyone else, at how two college boys were manipulated in Canadian sting (illegal on this side of the border) into admitting that they had brutally bludgeoned to death the family of the younger lad… but then, I also didn’t understand how both could have been left utterly without adult supervision.  The black D.C. teenagers convicted of gang-raping and murdering an old woman simply played one-by-one into the suggestions of the police interrogators; that story repeats itself almost every day, for reasons that the blanket “racism” explanation obscures more than elucidates.  Then there was the bizarre case of the father whose foot twitched on the gas pedal: he was able to extricate himself and his wife from the car as it sank into a river, but his three children went down.  As a father myself, I couldn’t understand caring about life as much as this man does after having lost all my children through some klutzy accident.  The fellow was not simpatico.

I don’t know why the Buddy Woodall case nagged at me as had none of the others.  They all bothered me, all right… but my “bother” threshold had perhaps been somewhat surpassed, as well.  The other cases had left me feeling jaded. It was all just too much… all those dramatized injustices on top of others that Netflix and the Hollywood/Newsroom elite have wanted very much to keep out of the news.  I sensed that I had been watching our “justice” system melt down for a long time. I had watched it send soldiers away for twenty years because they defended themselves in an Afghan wasteland or snapped a shot of a submarine to share with the kids… watched it export thousands of deadly weapons to Mexican cartels in a covert bid to subvert the Second Amendment… watched officers of that system destroy subpoenaed evidence with bleach and hammer even as their cronies were writing up a full exoneration… watched a dedicated cop with a spotless record be jailed for life because a feminist district attorney found him too masculine… watched a distinguished general take a plea after being “stung” (yes, those operations are supposed to be illegal) by the goons of a Special Counsel who promised to target his son if he resisted….  I’m getting sick all over again just in reviving the memory of a few cases from the past six or eight years.

Our justice system is crap.  I don’t trust it any more.  I just want to grow walnuts, pecans, sweet potatoes, and beans on my twenty-five acres.  Screw the system.  The republic is collapsing in the acid byproduct of overheated brains reared on iPhones, weed, kinky sex, and long conversations with “comfort” animals.  Screw it all, and stay off my land.  “Keep out: dangerous old white guy here.”

So what made Buddy Woodall any different?  To this day, I don’t really know.  He wasn’t a spoiled frat boy, nor was he a black kid from the inner city.  Either of those environments is as far from me as the other, and I feel powerless in both.  It is that feeling of powerlessness, perhaps, that makes one morose and defensive.  Buddy’s world, however, was not so very far from mine, either geographically or demographically.  And I didn’t detect the presence of pompous, virtue-signaling political theatrics in his prosecution (as in the West Coast tale of the two college students) or a media-fed rush to clear a sensationally lurid case (as in the D.C.P.D.’s ramrodding of several black youths through the system).  Nobody involved in the Woodall case seemed to be particularly malevolent.  There was just too much carelessness—too much laziness.

Laziness: Tocqueville noticed almost two hundred years ago that it is a distinguishing characteristic of us Southerners.  The climate is somewhat responsible, no doubt (for every Southerner did not have a slave, contrary to an assertion made in one of Tocqueville’s many rhetorical flourishes: not one in ten owned a slave).  So Buddy Woodall serves three life sentences because… because likeable but lazy detectives didn’t follow leads, and because a probably quite likeable but plainly lazy jury didn’t ponder the evidence put before it.  Everybody just dozed off.  Yeah.  A friend of mine back in Texas once lost his business because the judge dozed off during the critical portion of the testimony.  It happens a lot down here.

I wanted to see if other people of approximately my socio-economic, political, and religious profile would react to this case as I had… and so I assembled a kind of panel (whose exchanges required much editing, just because all of us passed long days devoted to other pursuits).  You can see the result of this nearly three-month experiment at Amazon.  The e-book is titled, Anatomy of a Murder Trial: A Citizen Autopsy of Buddy Woodall’s Conviction for “The Labor Day Murders”.  I hope my sometimes intrusive engineering produced a fairly readable text.  I’m far too close to it to say if the thirty-two chapters of analyzing trial transcripts are riveting or suffocating.  I only hope, like Hippocrates, I have done no harm in my groping efforts to do a little good.

I’ll leave off by advancing this remark, which reprises one I made in this space perhaps a quarter-year ago.  One of my respondents expressed his surprise that the prosecution seems to model leftist rhetorical tactics: specifically, that it employs “moral equivalency” (e.g., “You say our opening remarks alleged facts never offered in evidence.  Hypocrite!  Why, you also say that the defendant was sweated by interrogators for half a day!”  You’d have to be there… but the “facts” at issue were not remotely proved, whereas the period of psychological pressure was arranged by the interrogators themselves to extend beyond the tight room at the station.)  This recalled to me a remark I’d made about how courtroom dramas on TV have shifted from the defense attorney’s to the prosecutor’s table.  It’s true.  In the Fifties, Hamilton Burger represented Eisenhower America: hardworking, decent, upright, gray-flannel-suited… and also apt to stifle creativity or discount anomaly.  Perry Mason’s clients were innocent but slightly off-beat—society’s free spirits or ne’er-do-well’s who were in the docks for straying from the Standard Deviation.  Perry was the guardian of liberalism, that beloved American creed that licenses the individual to go his own way.

Now the political Left occupies the other side of the room: it is—or would be—the new orthodoxy.  All must condone gay marriage, late-term abortion, gun bans, ungendered pronouns, Sharia communities, hatred of white privilege, and anti-hate speech codes.  All must wear the gray flannel suit.  Though all may not think in the prescribed manner, they must speak and behave according to prescription.  Liberalism is dead.  The foolish, tardy Right hasn’t even abandoned the well-worn habit of defaming the word, although defense of the liberal is precisely where the conservative should be pitching his battle.  Profiting from this fatal confusion of his adversary, the leftist progressive proceeds to pound society into clones with the force of SWAT teams and stiff prison terms that the system has placed in his fist.

I don’t say that Buddy Woodall is some lovable, misunderstood beatnik: I say this, however, to my brethren on the Right in the aftermath of Buddy’s conviction.  Do not support police activities unconditionally just because the kneeling at NFL games and the wicked caricature of honest cops patrolling risky neighborhoods outrages you.  Police are but human beings, like you and me, and they are also minions toiling under the authority of a complex hierarchy.  If ordered one day to break down your door or my door and search our house for guns or porn or books about Nazism or liter-bottles of Coke or plastic straws or a garden glove that has dried in the “okay” sign, most of them will execute the order.  We need to protect the human being within the uniform, lest the uniform compel him to discard his humanity.

Don’t let these witless lines in the shifting sand blind you to the immutable presence of abstract moral issues.

Are Social Media Elevating Insanity to Ideology?

Twitter.  The name has always been an immediate turn-off to me.  After all, its initial syllable is “twit”—and I can’t say that the accident creates an inappropriate expectation.  Yet I have persisted in my “tweeting” (a verbal form scarcely more reassuring: what kind of bird-brain wastes time pecking a very constricted number of characters on a keyboard?).  My objective is, and has always been, an indirect publicity campaign: a projection of my views into the great wide world, that is, in the hope of attracting a few curious eyes to my Amazon author’s page.  I’m a perfectly lousy marketer—always have been.  Garbling or botching publicity is one of my special talents.  But on the surface, the objective seems both logical and respectable.  If you like what I say, try some of the productions where I speak at much greater length.

At the same time, I have grown aware of certain seductions in Twitter that could lead someone off the path whose aim was a little less monomaniacal than mine—and I myself don’t always resist, either.  The dozen-word bon mot is sometimes too ready-at-hand and the target too fat and stationary.  Yet sitting about an e-salon while languidly launching barbs at hippopotamus-sized news events doesn’t lead to a very productive morning.  It’s a pastime fit for twits.  Of course, people need a certain amount of amusement, perhaps these days more than ever; so the argument might be made that one lifts the spirits of one’s neighbors in making light of the fools who would rule us… and then, it’s such a great way to attract followers!

On principle, I have desisted from keeping tabs on how many e-disciples are tagging along at my winged heels.  It’s not healthy: it distracts you from speaking truth—it inclines you to probe after the popular.  I need hardly moralize about what hyper-sensitivity to polls and focus groups has done to our political system.   Don’t want the same thing happening to me personally.

There’s a much darker side to Twitter, as well.  Yesterday I noticed one of the public figures I admire most in the world dropping an f-bomb… on Twitter’s head, actually—and Facebook’s, and Instagram’s.  The occasion was a fury over how social media filter opinions not to their progressive-utopian taste and brand them “hate speech” (a phrase, speaking of words, that’s always struck me as implying a kind of caveman syntax: “Ug… me no like… make me mad… hate… hate speech!”).  How do you respond to insufferable idiots who gag and pillory you because you fail to parrot their drivel?  I can well understand the impulse to squeeze an “f” out through the gag… yet, in a way, it concedes the battle to the idiots.  Rather than clubbing the caveman back with a bigger limb, maybe you should just stay out of caves.

Probably half of all posts on Twitter are photos (invariably called “pictures” in these cavernous days), “memes”, or short videos.  A picture’s worth a thousand words—especially for a person who doesn’t know a thousand words.  So we gape at each other’s pictures, someone starts an avalanche of “opinion” cascading (“caption this” or “what’s that in her hair?”), the barbs fly, the tweaked hearts dispense “likes”… and some kind of communication, apparently, has just taken place.  What kind?  Not entirely sure; but I do know that its species defines our brave new world… our e-cave.

I’m both amused and saddened when I hear people say, “Looking back on our time, historians will write….”  No, historians will write nothing—not if no one can read, and certainly not if no coherent sense of historical connection remains (i.e., of the indissoluble complexity of human choice as opposed to “memes” and “pics”).  What I see in Twitter—illustrated helpfully, if unwittingly—is the progress of cultural and intellectual collapse favored by all electronic media, more or less.  The compression of judgment into a few words, the subservience of those words to cliché and jibe, the equivalency of word to image, the instantaneity of word and image alike… it’s all making us dumber by the year.  Look at our dumbed-down college grads, who believe that currencies can be resuscitated by running Xerox machines, that human evil is produced by deficient melanin in the epidermis, that Nature bestows either one set of sex organs or the other upon individuals (including squash plants), that nations must never have borders yet that momentary residents must enjoy the full rights of citizenship…. Where did these analytical featherweights come from who nourish a cultic conviction that less than half of one one-hundredth of one percent of the atmosphere will suffocate life on earth in about a decade—while the same gaseous substance, before our eyes, is feeding a revival of green vegetation….

How is it that we can transform bright young minds into generators of imbecility and lunacy?  What force is driving this incredible degeneration?  It would have to be something that causes views to be embraced because they seem flashy in their extravagance… something that shoulders aside patient reflection… something that awards points for immediate effect rather than for enduring substance.  It would have to enlist its users in a veritable competition to one-up each his predecessor, as in exchanges like this: “The capitalist market is racist.  Oh, yeah?  Well, the entertainment media are [“is” in current parlance] also racist!  Oh, yeah?  Well, grocery stores are also racist!  Oh, yeah?  Well, door knobs are also racist!”

Now, what do you see on the current scene that would elicit such a degree of abject idiocy—unique in the history of the human race, and likely unknown even to the very practical caveman—from millions of young people fresh from college?  What in our society could possibly inspire such unnatural and self-destructive behavior?  An oldtimer like me can gather plenty of clues by visiting Twitter… but study your preferred medium.  Where do you see anything approaching cautionary care and recourse to principle rather than applause in our means of communication?

Of the wide array of drugs killing our society from within, the one that “brings people together” is ravaging us with inestimably more ferocity than all the others combined.