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.
“Post-Rational Society” or “Post-Truth Society” — take your pick. Flip the coin. The result is the same.
Despite the fact that we have been warned for decades that this was coming, and it was anticipated, it is still a surprise to realise we are actually, finally in it in a conscious sort of way. Now I’m intensely curious about it. It reminds me of the patient who suffers from an undiagnosed illness, tormented more by the gnawing uncertainty of it than anything, who suddenly recieves his clear diagnosis. “You have terminal cancer.” Phew! What a relief! Now, at least, he has a name for the damnable thing. And better a gnawing certainty than a gnawing uncertainty.