I don’t know if anyone has taken note (probably someone has) that the word “trump” (although ostensibly related to the word “triumph” in some derivations) is related to a number of words meaning “to fool, to cheat, to deceive, to fabricate”, and so on. French “trompe l’oeil” means “to fool the eye”, which Wikipedia defines as “an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture.” It was once used as an objection to perspectivism in art, so “gaining perspective on something” can be quite amibiguous!

I wanted to address that this morning not just in the context of Donald Trump’s bid for the U.S. presidency — life seems to imitate art in some very surprising and uncanny ways, and I’m feeling a bit mischievous this morning — but to also highlight the ambiguity of what is called “perspective” or “perspective perception”, and it is also, in some ways, connected to Jean Gebser’s critique of perspectivising rationality now become “deficient”.

In a few earlier posts, I wrote about the coincidentia oppositorum (or conjunctio oppositorum) of the goddess Athena (who is reason) and the Gorgon (who is the anti-reason) — or Minerva and Medusa — as being the two sides of one coin, as it were. Here again, in perspectivism, we find that same conjunction of the ostensible opposites or polarities in one and the same process. Perspectivism is a rationalisation of spaces — a proportionality or ratio of spaces in terms of length, width, and depth according to mathematical axioms and geometric formulas worked out by Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci in the Renaissance. But it is also a trompe l’oeil, the fabrication of an illusion of depth upon a flat surface. So, to be trapped in a perspective or to “keep things in perspective” is also, in some ways, to be trapped in an illusion and a veritable spider’s web of illusions.

There’s a similar double-entendre used in the movie V for Vendetta, where Evey says: “My father was a writer. You would’ve liked him. He used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.” That is quite parallel to the paradox of perspective perception.

What Evey has stated is actually quite profound, because it’s a statement about the Platonic “Noble Lie” theory and the role of myth. For the symbolic form of thinking, myth and symbol is truth revelation, while for the mental-rational consciousness (the fundamentalist or reductionist) it is synonymous with fabrication or lie. The mythological consciousness thinks in symbols, while the mental-rational thinks in signs.

“Noble lie” theory and practice has this same relation as Athena to the Gorgon, or Minerva to Medusa, with the former perhaps described as “the politics of art” and the latter as “the art of politics”; or, the use for the revelation of truth or the use for the velation of truth, and much of what we today call “perception management” is for purposes of the latter.

So the fate of “Noble Lie” theory (as much as the doctrine of “creative destruction”) in our time is a precise reflection of the mental-rational consciousness structure now functioning in “deficient mode”, as Gebser put it. And it’s a fine example really of what I call “Khayyam’s Caution” — that “only a hair separates the false from the true”.  As Gebser might put it, the Noble Lie has its effective and efficient meaning, but also a defective and deficient meaning as the sure sign of the malfunctioning of consciousness (the “ignoble lie”, as it were). So there are a lot of profound implications in what Evey states, in a few short words, in the movie V for Vendetta.

Art may reveal or art may conceal, and the broad term in Greek for “art” was techne. And I can barely scratch the surface of the full meaning of that as it pertains to “noble lie” theory. It has both a generative (genesis) side, and a nihilistic or degenerative side, and I don’t think it needs to be said which side is, today, the dominant, does it? Devaluation of values.



5 responses to “Trump”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    I probably should have added, that in terms of the meaning of “noble lie” it has both an esoteric meaning and an exoteric meaning, and ideally the latter should be a true, and not an inverted, reflection of the former. This is the distinction I want to draw between “the truth that sets free” and the mere “facts of the matter”. The latter should be a reflection and representation of the former, and not an eclipse of the former — a concealment and velation.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    As luck would have it, after I posted this piece I noted an article by Globe & Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson (who has come quite a long ways since I first encountered his journalism years ago, and found it distasteful then. He seems to have sobered up). Simpson’s piece is entitled “We’re a country comforted by untruths”, and I think the headline says quite a bit, and couldn’t be timelier.

    Unfortunately, I can’t access the full article because it has a paywall around it. My only objection to the headline is that this situation of being comforted by untruths is not specific to this country alone.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    Nowhere in the world is the rule ““to fool, to cheat, to deceive, to fabricate” is more in good health than the Middle East. The prerequisite to cast sunlight on this deception is threefold: courage, sheer brilliance of the mind, and an unshakable will and desire for getting to the root of things. That’s why I have always said that one of you, dear Scott, can change an entire nation, if not the entire corner of this planet.

  4. abdulmonem says :

    When one remembers what Israel and the West are doing in the Middle East one feels stunt at th depth of the deception and dishonesty committed by the said regimes in collaboration with the assigned leaders in the region. One can not expect human justice in this perverted world, a world submerged to its ears in nircissim and injustice. The obliviousness of the intelligent world regarding the situation is astonishing, that is why divine justice is called upon by all the sages of the world, that is why we see all these voices of doom that cry for change. The perverted peoples of the region play a great part in the blunder under the tutelage of the surveilling organizations of the world. Abstraction talks in time like this is a killing amnesia. We can do nothing but bear witness under the watch of god and naming things by their proper names.

  5. abdulmonem says :

    I forgot to mention that Trump is not different from other trumpeters in the world.We are living in a standardised world.

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