What with a constant series of statcounter arrivals from Winter Patriot and kenny's sideshow, I thought it was time to go beyond my usual tip-and-run and have a good wander around. And a good thing too - they're worthy sites with my kind of sensible people writing lots of good stuff.
Ordinarily in linking to worthy sites I go with a less-is-more philosophy. If every man and his dog is worthy, the word 'worthy' doesn't mean much, you know what I mean? Besides which, what with using a public library to connect to the net, my time online is very limited. Thus, with my links list representing places I visit regularly, a longer list means less of my time spent on my own pursuits and more on other people's. But what are you going to do? When the sites are worthy one just has to go there. And so! The list expands.
Lately over at Winter Patriot, in answer to a tiresome, and rather obvious, Jewish fellow bitching about things Jewish being discussed in something other than glowing terms, Winter wrote a fine comment that addresses that hoary old chestnut of what we're on about (clearly Kenny liked it too). And amongst the comments at Winter was a sideways discussion that was actually more germane than anyone knew. It involved an incendiary chap called Akira (whom I'm thinking isn't Japanese) doing his best to fling sparks into the tea-tree with the ever sensible James monstering him with a plane-load of philosophical fire retardant. For mine this second strand to the conversation is the necessary how to Winter's what.
So what are we on about? Collectively, that is? Between the unlikely bedfellows of Aangirfan, Les Visible, Twelfth Bough, Penny, Kenny, and Winter, and even the hill-tramping John Frampton (hullo John) what are the ties that bind? There must be something surely? And what does it mean that we have as many differences as commonalities? And what am I doing in that crowd? Good God, I'm an oxymoron all to myself. (Actually I'm a foxy moron, hyuk hyuk)*
But to hell with me. We want to figure out what defines the, um... 'whatever'. No need to argue whether it exists. If you've read this far and haven't fled in terror at the senselessness of it all, then that's proof enough that we're part of a noun of some description. For the purpose of the exercise I'm going to loosely call it 'the conversation'.
What can we say about this conversation? The initial temptation is to whip out the word 'truth'. Me, I don't know about that. There's something a bit too portentous or po-faced about it - and if we're being that kind of serious, you'd have to include this blog out of it. I'm far too idiotic. Perhaps this is due to me being partial to the idea of the fool, à la Lear. Certainly Lear's fool was an avatar of truth, but in any discussion about him truth would never be the first word anyone would reach for.
Besides which, truth is that thing always to be pursued and almost never to be caught. Sometimes it happens, once in a blue moon - often as not we catch it and don't even know - really it's too slippery, too ethereal. I prefer to take truth as a happy intangible rather than enshrine it as some kind of golden calf. And then there's the question: How many cherished 'truths' have we all thrown away now? Me, I lost count. Okay, so how now the inverted-commas truth?
Instead, what if we gave in to our inner apparatchiks, and made a what-are-we-on-about qualification list, perhaps along the lines of What have the Romans ever done for us? The meeting comes to order:
"First things first - 911"
"Absolutely - do I have a second? Enter it into the minutes."
"MIHOP of course."
"Must mention Israel."
Oh dear, there's that gone to hell. Really, we've all got our lists and no two will be same. Lists aren't entirely useless of course. Anyone who wants to say that 911 is unimportant has to be some kind of bullshit. Same-same banking. Same-same the pedophocracy. (Oops, there goes Xymphora). Whatever, let's just put the idea of lists up there with the idea of enshrined truth as, um... not nothing, but not a be-all-and-end-all either.
Along those lines, what if we were simply to define ourselves by what we're not? It's negative I know but there's a logic to it that everyone out there now viewed as mad by their friends and relatives will understand. Yeah, yeah, no need to raise your hand, you, me, all of us... So! In searching for an expression to define what we are not, what if I was to grab Galbraith's 'conventional wisdom'? Perhaps I shouldn't mention Galbraith, since I've never actually read him (not that I'd let that stop me taking his phrase and turning it into a hat, a brooch, a pterodactyl etc). Clearly conventional wisdom is not that variety of wisdom measured in pearls. By being called conventional, whatever it is has ceased to be particularly valuable and has become a thing that functions in spite of its own inconsistencies. It's the truth reduced to functionability. And a truth thus processed and reconstituted (contains emulsifier, preservative, and colouring) is no truth that we're interested in. We are not that. Very good... the truth, lists, we-are-not-that - how do we tie that all together?
How about this - the what of the conversation is any goddamn thing. We simply refuse to have any manufacturer of conventional wisdom tell us where the limits are. Anyone who declares a subject sacred or profane deserves to be questioned. Okay dandy, let's do it. Between a Brahminical insistence that no questions be asked, and the Buddha's declaration that we take nothing he says for granted, the former can go fuck itself. And the Brahmins of today? The Jewish media and no mistake.
Stepping outside the limits of permitted topics is one thing, and the way in which it's discussed is another. We now know full well that we live in a world of endless false dichotomies. The bullshit choice between left and right is merely the first of many such contrivances precisely designed to trap us into dead-end losing arguments and go-nowhere conversations. In amongst these snares also resides the how of the conversation.
I don't know if the epithet-spitting Akira over at Winter is an otherwise well-meaning bloke or not. It's possible. What's certain is that there's been any number of attempts, not least at this joint, to turn a given conversation into that variety of instant argument-losing name calling. Hands up anyone who hasn't encountered someone insisting that we all become foaming-at-the-mouth racists?
Way back when, in the days of indymedia, any article on Israel would within five minutes of posting see one, two, three, Jewish boys piling in and flinging shit in all directions. And it wouldn't be long before the Jew-haters would pile in and do the same. God spare me. And the heads of the Ku Klux Klan have all been Jewish have they? Sure, of course. It seems that if we want to talk about profane subjects we must do so as caricatures - doing zer funny walk and talking mit zer funny voices. Dig it, it's the Germans from a Zucker brothers movie. Or it's the skinheads from American History X. Whatever, there's a hundred Hollywood dress-up costumes to choose from, each carefully designed to suit your individuality. You can be anything they want you to be.
In much the same way we step outside the artificially imposed limits of the what, we do the same for the dictates of the how. We'll talk about whatever we goddamn like and we'll do so as grown-ups. We'll have the only conversation worth having, the one we dreamt of, but never knew existed. It exists if we want it to - here we are having one now. And yeah, it's desultory - it's the grasshopper leaping from tree to tree in a single bound, fighting a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and mixed metaphors. It's a shitfight, it's a comedy, it's a tragedy, it's all of the above. And if Jews and their Nazi partners don't care for it - bleat, bleat - a tuppence for them and a tuppence for their boundaries. We've ceased caring what they think. We're past that now.