Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Survival / Integrity /
Mission: to argue for accountability @ K. 2000 08 12
When I was a kid, my poor mother, sole and unequipped supporter of my sister and me, managed a drive up through New England to Canada by way of a vacation. Vermont was as advertised a patch work quilt of little farms in a charmingly three-dimensional landscape. In the distance, everything looked lovely. Up close was another story: old barns collapsing at the roadside and so forth. I thought at the time (and I’ve thought ever since) that it’s extremely rude to build something and then leave it to fall apart.
I didn’t believe in government much more then than I do now, but it’s as difficult to avoid imperatives in talking about behavior as it is to theorize about society without imagining “rights” or indulging in metaphysical speculation without coming up with a “God.” I decided that no one had a right to erect anything without posting a bond to prove responsibility for clearing it away. Do I seriously think that “there outta be a law”? How can I believe in law if I don’t believe in government? No: “ought to” as in good manners; not as in kleptocracy. I suspect (with Freud) that “primitive” peoples did much better with their taboos than we do with our laws. Man lived a long time without government or law; human society has never existed without customs, standards … imperatives.
But governments and laws are what we have. While we have them, why don’t we have good ones? What I want is accountability.
The woman goes to the cops, says she was raped. Examination and so forth indicates penetration, her behavior is congruent with rape: either she’s a good actress; or she was raped. In court the defendant’s lawyer calls her a whore. He doesn’t deny the congress, but says she asked for it. She says the guy used a gun, a knife, strangled her … Some kind of marks make her version plausible. A Deus ex Machina, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes … “prove” that the guy is the same guy who raped eighty-five other women. He’s convicted. Does his lawyer owe the rape victim an apology? Isn’t his “defense” an offense? Offensive? The lawyer says the convicted accused had a right to a defense. I say he had a right to have facts and circumstances brought out: as did she: as should we all. I say the lawyer had no right to invent combative and pejorative fictions. Justice should be something other than a brawl. The truth should be more important than winning a case. I say the lawyer not only owes her an apology, he should have to wear his lies tattooed on his forehead. I say he and his heirs should be indentured to the rape victim along with the rapist. I say that the lawyer’s offense is worse than the rapist’s offense because: the rapist was just a rapist: kill him, castrate him, be done with it; but the lawyer’s offense was committed by someone wearing the imprimatur of the society. Isn’t the society responsible for its lawyers? Maybe the society should be indentured to the rape victim: its economy halted, its assets seized, sanctions everywhere … until it shows that it knows how to behave.
Again, I don’t mean that literally. Who would do the seizing, impose the sanctions? A bunch’a cops? Soldiers? (How many did they rape? How many women have reported a rape to a cop and then been raped by the cops? Literally: before being metaphorically raped by the lawyers?) What I mean is that our accountability is far from satisfactory. And I don’t think civilization has made us better; I think it’s made us worse.
The court gets the budget for justice. Then they don’t give California back to Sutter, the Black Hills back to the Lakota, the Mohawk back to the Mohawk … then the lawyers insult the victims. shouldn’t the court, in order to get the budget, have to post a bond to insure us against its injustices? The US military napalms the hell out of the Vietnamese jungle.
Then we say it was a mistake. Had we posted a bond to cover the possibility? Since we didn’t, should pilots and taxpayers as well as generals and legislators have to plant new jungle? to lick the poison from the soil? And that just to say we’re sorry to the plants.
Before a company destroys a forest, a developer a marsh … shouldn’t either have to prove that they can put it back, as good or better than ever, in case they’re making a mistake? shouldn’t they have to post a bond equal to the value of the universe in case they can’t?
What about juries? They say the guy killed somebody. By juridical epistemology, their saying so makes it “true.” Then the “murdered” guy shows up to claim the lottery. shouldn’t the jury be indentured to the convicted “felon”? We just let the guy go? Say it’s all right now? You’re free? Oh no, we already executed you: it’s OK, your name is exonerated.
Without laws, without courts, without convictions, incarcerations, there’d still be rapes, murders … but at least it would only be the rapists and murderers who were guilty; not the society.
Shouldn’t there be a god who pulls the plug on a society the second they start in about law and justice? about their competence to decide the truth of anything? shouldn’t there be a special place in hell for courts? and cops? soldiers? all the trappings of kleptocracy? shouldn’t a judge (or a juror, or a legislator) discover fractals or gravity or quantum indeterminacy or at least win a prize for literature before anyone listens to him talk about his competence to decide things for others?
I shared my office in the English Department at Colby with the instructor who had already occupied it. He told me a delicious story. The English toff sees an ancient farmer in his ancient Irish field. “If you could have anything you wanted, anything in the world, what would it be.” The old peasant fixes the aristo with his eye. “Judgment,” he says. With venom.
The idea of Judgment Day is intrinsically appealing. We imagine God as the Platonic Original Authority: infallible. Right, by definition. If only. The adult pk says that there should be no authority beyond accountability, God not excepted. My just linked story had the “God” of Judgment Day turn out to be “Satan”: “just fooling.” How the hell could humans tell the difference? Under the best of circumstances? We say that God’s the top. How could we know that? How could God himself? If God exists, and a particular man denies it, the man is wrong. What if God has a god that He denies, is unaware of, doesn’t believe in? What if God’s god is just biding his time, letting eons slide, before taking God by the scruff of the neck? “See, you’re wrong.” I say God too should have to post a bond before making wild claims.
I’m fairly sure I’m done writing my judgment day stories. Tons of material on the subject is likely never to find its way into my novel Dark Beacon (unpublished, I can add or change as much as I want).
But a sketched scene there finds a Judgment Day interrupted by God’s god’s Judgment Day of God. The French patricians put whoever in the Bastille. The French rabble let them out, crowned them heroes, martyrs. Imagine having your guts ripped out in hell for eleven trillion years only to find out that God’s judgments were all no good. Now he’s there and you’ve got to go somewhere else, intestines trailing.
All of this of course relates to the idea of “authority.” I’m on the side of science when it says there is none: only the evidence. But of course “evidence” is not without its own problems: evidence gathered under what constraints? interpreted by what system of axioms, logics, theories …? Few know better than I what trouble one can get into by talking about Authority. See my reading of
in relation to Authority vs. Experience.
Particularly my exposition of what I call Cartamania.
And most particularly What Happened when I tried to talk about it.
Maybe there’s no Authority but Evolution. What survives, what goes down the drain?
No, there’s one more Judgment Day story I have to tell. The biologist god finishes his Judgment Day: everything living was right, everything dead was wrong. He’s grabbed by the scruff of the neck by the good design god. The good design god throws everything living into hell and resurrects only the sandbagged ideas, the evolution that was prevented from taking place, and exalts it. The skeptical god grabs the good design god and demands to know how anything can be exalted that never actually operated. So he creates a new universe and lets Evolution try again.
I really must construct of new file dedicated to coordinating “Judgment Day” links at K.
Here’s a new addition I’ll stick here temporarily:
pk point oft made: It’s Judgment Day. God speaks. He says such and such is true …
How do we know if it’s true? How do we know he’s really God?
Here’s a way in which we don’t need to know: there are things we can know: which frees us from worrying quite so much about what we can’t know.
Science can’t prove that our current model of the universe is true; science can prove that the Ptolemaic theory of the universe is false. If the scientist making the proof is a fake, that’s tough: but the Ptolemaic theory is still false! You don’t need to be infallible to see that it’s false.
So what kind of a Judgment Day could we have where we could all see that the damned are rightly damned, that the damned themselves could see that they are rightly damned? If everyone sees that then why sweat the legitimacy of the entity showing you?
Go to the magic show. See Penn narrate how Teller’s head is being run over by a five ton truck. Teller smiles as the huge wheel rolls over his skull. Amazing.
Penn & Teller have even bridged the theater’s normal proscenium: the trick is performed not on stage, not backstage, but beyond the backstage, out onto the street. Still, the camera shows the illusions from the vantage point of the audience, the TV audience’s view factored in. If however the camera had been placed across the street, behind the truck that runs over Teller’s head, there never would have been any illusion in the first place. The “audience” from that camera angle would see a huge stage prop in the form of a truck. Oh, they started with a real truck, but they rigged it, reconstructed it, till it was counter balanced so as to exert no force on the curb side of the theater side of the street. That curb-side of the truck’s tires had been replaced by big “wheels” of black foam. Teller, his head engulfed by the black foam would have felt tickling more than crushing.
OK. Now imagine a school pageant in which the teacher poses with a smiling boy. The boy tells the camera and audience how much he loves his teacher. Cut to Judgment Day. God, the Devil, whoever the hell is running the show, reveals that he has placed another camera under the counter while the pageant was being filmed. There we see the teacher holding a razor against the kid’s nuts. We also see a team of prompters, feeding the kid his lines. Does it matter if God is phony? No, we can all see that the teacher and the school and the pageant is phony: regardless of the genuineness of the exposer.
All God should need at Judgment Day is a few cameras other than the cameras used by the magicians: An over-head, a rear view … New Jersey cams or satellite cams may not even be necessary: but God damn well ought to have cameras from Venus, cameras from Aldeberan, cameras from alternate universes … if needed.
(In the case of Judge Hoffman’s trial against the Chicago Eight, we shouldn’t need any cameras other than the United States’ concert of media’s own coverage at the time. Bobby Seele was bound and gagged. Thus was he allowed to defend himself. Case closed, next case.)
I start these modules and often by the second sentence they take a side track that forgets what the main track was supposed to be. Bear with me. When I next look at this (if possible) … next month, next year, I should be able to tell which point modifies which: and know again the main tracks.