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Jan and I watched the first quarter or so of a documentary called Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. I ordered the DVD from Netflix, I wanted to see it, I wanted her to see it.
I foist a lot of stuff on Jan she wouldn’t be likely to choose for herself, she’s free to bail out when she’s had enough. She fidgeted for nearly forty minutes of the three hour movie, then she said she got the gist, and that was enough.
I want to say a number of things, will string a scrapbook: commending Noam Chomsky as one of sorry cultures few consistently smart people, social critic at least partly on the same page with me, I want to precis what his thesis is here: that “news”, “history” is concocted with a bias, by and for the major corporations, the society’s “owners”, agenda setters … Chomsky’s been arrested by these people, insulted; but he’s still famous: hasn’t been actually tarred and feathered. Tom Wolfe clucking and scoffing “rubbish” is a step or two short of a lynching.
That’s a big subject, vast. What I want to start with here is a sketch of what Jan seemed to be saying and feeling: and fuming about.
Understand: Jan was a faculty wife, she’s the widow of a university professor. But she herself is not an intellectual, not an original philosopher: she adopts this and that philosophy around her and lives mostly comfortably: philosophically and politically as well as economically. (Bless her, I need an anchor to tie to, a girl with more than one nice dress.) Chomsky is still at MIT, was never thrown out that I know of.
Jan was bitching at Chomsky winning prizes, having his views filmed, discussed, whereas I have been totally sabotaged, subverted, repressed. “You’re just as smart as he is”, she said: reproaching the society! Bunch of stage setters, keepers of false records: fictions pretending to be realities, propagandists costumed as journalists.
But when Jan had tried, five years ago, to tell her friends, her family, about me and my work, they turned on her, interrupted, just as they interrupt me, deny what’s she’s telling them: dismiss it entirely and out of hand, like Wolfe scoffing about Chomsky: don’t discuss, just dismiss.
We’re indistinguishable from those who crucified Jesus? or flayed Hypatia? Rubbish!
Jan doesn’t go to the newspaper screaming “You lying louts!” She doesn’t assault the TV news team. She doesn’t task our insitutions for conniving to eclipse me. This morning she went to church! She’s not there telling the priest he’s too stupid to be honest. No: she’s celebrating mass, conducted by one of those morons. She’s pretending that the church is the church, has some connection with God, with Christ, that contrition is involved.
Columbus sails to the new world, comes back with a revised globe, a changed understanding of the earth.
Politics is where we the rulers revise our maps, but continue to impose the old maps, mere superstitions, on the public: knowingly keeping them helpless.
Ugh, I always start to say true and important things, then it slips, goes astray. That’s what revisions are for: meantime, get it anyway.
If I had to chose between Noam Chomsky and Tom Wolfe for abandonment on a desert island I’d take all Wolfe and leave all Chomsky. But when it comes to political reality, it’s Chomsky who’s the Columbus.
But know this: I have no reason to believe Wolfe has ever heard of me; but Chomsky has: I corresponded with him fifteen years ago, begging his support for my theory of Macroinformation. I explained who I was by telling him that I’m a disciple of Ivan Illich, the offerer in 1970 of a a cybernetic democracy. He turned me over to a colleague who never answered the emails! Another damn bureaucrat!
Ah, if only I’d been able to contact him when he was 25, or 30. Who knows?
As it is, I have no reason to believe he understood a single word I said.
You know what’s worse than universities not understanding a word of (the best of) divine messages? Universities not knowing that they don’t.
Does the church know it’s a liar? I suspect not. They defrock Illich, ignore me, and still act as though they’re the church, not just a tired repetition of the Temple: the enemy of God, wearing a costume.
I’m reminded of the point I made, or tried to make, to no avail, in the wake of the movie Independence Day: Martians bomb DC, the president is flown to a hideout in Roswell, there he sees UFOs and such, learns that the military knows all about it, but he White House has been kept in the dark. Now he’s briefed, now the deceivers show that they want to follow this puppet! No, no: after the Martians have nuked us, after we learn that we’re liars, then it’s too late to pretend that the president is the president; not a big dummy.