Riddle Me This (Part Two)
"Metaphor is one of a group of problem-solving medicines known as figures-of-speech which are normally used to treat literal thinking and other diseases." - Grant Morrison, The Filth
George Orwell concluded his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens by describing him as "a man who is "generously angry....a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls." The same of course could be said of Orwell, who is inclined to piss off any party which thinks its ideology can delimit the breadth of his thought. That's not at all a bad thing to be - a generously angry individual - but it's a hard thing to be, and no less so with the many little orthodoxies of our age which still stink up the place.
Cindy Sheehan's another. She was, she wrote on Monday, "the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party." But when she began to hold Democratic feet to the fire of Iraq (and surely at least since the 2006 midterms and the concession on funding and no timeline for withdrawal, the war is as much theirs as it is George Bush's), "support for my cause started to erode and the 'left' started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used."
Sheehan observes she has been "deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike," but I think that misses the mark. "Bipartisanship" is the smelly orthodoxy of American political life that safeguards unelected and non-representative power from serious challenge. What the United States desperately needs are more partisans - not party activists or "Yellow Dog" Democrats, but militant irregulars who can no longer hold their nose.
But even without parties, and beyond the buffers of the consensus-building system, little orthodoxies take root and quickly rot, but their true believers cover the growing stink with perfumed affirmations. Today's "New Truth" movement is innervated with examples. Should you challenge any of them - take your pick - you invite upon yourself the characterization of a defender of the official story, even if you contend a constellation of great criminal interests, including American, share culpability for the attacks.
It may be shorthand to write "state-sponsored," and even shorter to say "Bush knew," but one is an imprecision while the other a mischaracterization, and both have been handed-down since 9/11 as hobbling orthodoxes.
What can "state-sponsored" mean, when much of the United State's security apparatus has been contracted out to private cartels? And if criminal interests are sponsoring the state, rather than the reverse, then is there a phrase more accurate than our repeating that 9/11 was an example of state-sponsored terror? If so, then "Bush knew" becomes even less sensible, and helpful. Pedagogically it's served a purpose, but the purpose expires in 2008 while the crime of 9/11 will remain unpunished.
Then there's the orthodoxy of Zionist power theory, in which the Israeli tail always wags its American dog. As I've said before, that doesn't explain the motivation and influence of Dick Cheney. Nor, now, how the Vice President's war party means to "nudge Israel" into provocation with Iran to tie Bush's hands, as an "end run" around administration hesitance to strike Tehran.
Interestingly, last month Interpol issued warrants for three Israelis "sought on charges of criminal conspiracy and instruction in terrorism" for their work training Colombian drug cartels and the far right death squads. It's been long enough coming, though don't hold your breath for the arrests. Yair Klein, Melnik Ferri and Tzedaka Abraham also trained the Contras in Honduran camps, and the genocidal Guatemalan army as well. Now, does this represent a crime of Israel, or Mossad, or "the Jews," or an example of something else? Peter Dale Scott, in Drugs, Oil and War, quotes Klein on his training of the Medellin Cartel: "We are positive that what we are doing is within the interests of the Americans, and so far it was always like that." Scott adds: "This work drew the comment from a general in the Israeli Knesset that 'Israel is the 'dirty work' contractor for the US administration."
I think the "white van" of 9/11, and the Mossad agents who are known to have shadowed al qaeda cells on US soil, make best sense as evidences of work contracted out by Criminals Without Borders, rather than, as in, say, Eric Hufschmid's school of blood libel paranoia, more examples of Jewish perfidity. (And here too, perhaps, we see the parapolitical prominence of drug trafficking. It's instructive to note how the pre-9/11 flap of Israeli "art students" targeted the facilities and the personnel of the US Drug Enforcement Agency.)
UFOlogy, too, has its orthodoxes, no less so for its being even further marginalized. In his introduction to Visitation, Peter Hough describes falling into conversation at a party with a nuclear physicist who told him, emphatically, that he didn't believe in UFOs because the distances between stars was too vast for travel. Hough agreed, and said it made more sense to him to consider the quantum possibilities of incursions from extra-dimensions, rather than by extraterrestrials. But Hough's response made no impression on the man, who had bought into the dueling orthodoxes of UFO skeptics and true believers alike, that the choice is between "misperception, hallucination, wish fulfilment and fraud," or spacecraft. And then there are those who see no high weirdness beyond that induced by mind-controlling technologies of human agency. But whatever the phenomenon may, it is too vast and too old and too strange to be solved with a single answer. Which is what orthodoxes demand.
(This, in part, is why I highly value the judgement of Jacques Vallee, who's written that sometimes he feels he must be the only person in the world who doesn't know what UFOs are.)
Our inquiries need a system to evaluate the evidence, but the assumptions of our system should be provisional. Otherwise we have a closed loop, and our system hardens into orthodoxy. And orthodoxy is the death of imaginative inquiry.
By the way, until the book is out of my hands (and I'm afraid it's already late), I'm afraid I won't be able to do much better than a weekly post. I think I need to say that to keep from making myself sick with work. Upside is, it should be a pretty good book.