Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth — William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell
The whole world is a form of truth. — Rumi, “Green Ears“
It seems strange to write about the status of truth in a post-truth era. The controversy about “truth” and truthfulness, and about the distinction between “ultimate truth” and “relative truth” that emerged in the comments to the last post suggests we need to delve a little deeper into truth and the meaning on truth especially in the context of this very cynical age which, like Pontius Pilate of the New Testament story, asks “What is truth?” without expectation of ever receiving an answer (and who apparently didn’t recognise it in the flesh anyway when the avatar of truth was standing right in front of him).
(I actually have some sympathy for the evidently cynical and world-weary Pilate. Although the official agent of the Roman Empire in occupied Palestine, I don’t think he was quite the total villain that Christianity subsequently made him out to be). History, as usual, is full of ironies.
In today’s Guardian there is a review of the book The Making of the President (that is, Trump) by the notorious “ratfucker” Roger Stone, who I’ve had occasion to mention in the past in connection with the” creepy clown” or Trickster archetype. There is a kind of fraternity of such types — the dirty tricksters — in contemporary politics, including the Australian “political operative” Lynton Crosby. Mr. Stone insists, like Kellyanne Conway’s justification of “alternative facts”, that people today have “a choice of truths“. So, Ms Conway’s “alternative facts” wasn’t a momentary aberration or a transient lapse of reason. It’s deliberate and in the nature of post-modern politics. It’s one of the chief features of the “New Normal” (or Adam Curtis’s “Hypernormalisation“).
Here, I want to explore how this situation reflects the fragmentation and disintegration of the personality and consciousness structure of modern man in duplicity, as examined also by Jean Gebser also in The Ever-Present Origin.
Most analyses I’ve read about the current epidemic of “fake news”, or matters like “alternative facts” or “post-truth,” take the view that it’s about ideology overpowering and overwhelming reality.
I’m going to suggest that we look at this somewhat differently — not as ideology run amok so much as indicative of the bankruptcy of ideology itself and, in those terms, of the intellect also (or at least that form of the intellect Gebser calls “mental-rational”). It seems to me that, in the absence of any real “facts” or truth to buttress the received and conventional ideologies, their partisans and adherents now resort to simply making them up in a brazen attempt to disguise the fact that they are bankrupt.