"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Fake News, Donald Trump, And The Fiction Of ' The Truth'

Everyone knows that there is no such thing as the truth.  Christians believe that Jesus is God, while Muslims contend that he was only a prophet.  Hindus' God is an all-present universal emanation in which there are many incarnations, and Buddhists believe only in the sublime philosophy of the Buddha, no god, but enlightened man.   All are truths, as true and indisputable as the sunrise. 

Perception is fallible, subjective, and patently untrue.  Four eyewitnesses will report four different stories of the same event.  Kurosawa, Browning, and Durrell have all written books and screenplays about the impossibility of truth, fact, or absolute knowability. 

Despite calls to listen to The Science, scientists know that there is no such thing as absolute scientific truth; and if there were, we would still believe in homunculi and bad air causing disease, the sun would still revolve around the earth, and that thunderstorms were expressions of divine anger. 

Nor is there an absolute moral truth. Although most societies have hewn to the same code of social behavior, they have done so out of enlightened self-interest. If there were no ten commandments, life would be anarchic, chaotic, and impossible.  Yet even so, there are interpretations to killing - war, self-defense, and now the ticklish and debatable question of abortion.  Fidelity, honesty, and all the rest have their days in court where 'the truth' is sought; but one man's frankness is another's manipulation, Adultery can be a vexing problem, but the rules have been loosened. 

Which is why it is curious that people today still believe that there can be only one indisputable version of events. It didn't maybe happen this way.  It did happen this way; and within the overheated, hysterical politics of the day, it must have happened this way. January 6th was either the folly of a band of disenchanted crazies from the Ozarks and the Idaho Panhandle dressed in Viking helmets and fright wigs, bored as shit and out of their minds to do some damage; or a carefully orchestrated insurrection planned, managed, and led by former President Donald Trump. 

There can be no middle ground, no compromise position, no give or leeway; and given the nature of Donald Trump - as untrustworthy as they come, malignantly anti-democratic, racist, misogynist, capitalist predator, and anti-democratic tyrant - he absolutely, positively had to be behind the events of that day.  This type or assumption is classic and well-chronicles in psychiatric and socio-psychological literature.  Absolute belief, true belief is often the generator of illogical, subjective conclusions.  It is tautology at work.  Donald Trump had to have been behind the treachery of January 6th because he is treacherous. 

The political divide in the country is a difference of opinion, but a difference in perception.  The Left, convinced since the emergence of Trump that he is evil, can only see his every act as evil.  By extension, because he is traitorous, dishonest, and evil, all his future actions will, ipso facto, be evil and must be preempted. 

Shakespeare understood this psycho-phenomenon well, and in Julius Caesar explained and expressed it. Cassius, Brutus, and their co-conspirators are convinced, given Caesar's character and implicitly autocratic intentions, that if named Emperor he will destroy what is left of the Republic and lead Rome to ruin.  They kill him as an act of pre-crime, a pre-emptive move with nothing legitimate or 'factual' on which to base it.  They simple know that the man will be up to no good. 

So, within this epistemological and metaphysical context - that is, understanding that there is no such thing as absolute truth and objectivity is only at attempt to tame the unruliness which results - it is hard to understand how exercised the Left can be about Donald Trump's exaggerations, distortions, and deliberate fantasy.  He knows precisely what he is doing - playing on the naivete and intellectual arrogance of his opponents.  Of course he will not do half the things he says he will and even those will be tempered by the office he will assume as they always have been for all presidents. 

He is a comedian, a vaudevillian, a tummler, a Borscht Belt political Jackie Mason - a provocateur, a nettling pain the ass.  The whole world's a stage, Shakespeare wrote, a tale of sound and fury signifying nothing; and politics in this comedic, anchorless, subjective world is worth the price of admission. 

The truth pales in comparison with the ingenuity, balletic moves, and pure theatricality of invention, fantasy, and clever deceit. Ivan’s Devil in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is a vaudevillian who tells Ivan that the world would be a very dull place without him. Goodness, truth, and morality are very overrated, and if we had to hew to the righteous road every day, we would be bored stiff. “Loosen up”, he admonishes Ivan. There is a time and place for moral rectitude and principle, but Lord knows, not always


Everyone knows that truth is an overvalued commodity at best. We all exaggerate, embellish, invent, and out-and-out lie; and today more than ever we get away with our deceit.  Politicians lie through their teeth and deny wrongdoing.  Preachers philander and filch until they are caught.  Husbands look their wives straight in the eye and tell the most outrageous, outlandish, barefaced lies. Children lie about their whereabouts, CEO’s lie about mergers, buy-outs, and downsizing.

Donald Trump, his opponents say, is an inveterate liar, a shameless huckster with no respect for the truth.  He tells barefaced lies, distortions, and exaggerations but, to his critics' surprise, his partisans are unconcerned.  They extract the main messages from his hyperbole, melodrama, and Las Vegas showmanship.  They have no interest in the ‘truth’ and could care less about statistical accuracy.  They want no more carefully-worded statements of policy, no considered on-the-one-hand-on-the-other economic wishy-washiness.  They want the meat and care little about the dressing.  

Anyone paying attention can find the meat.  Trump's policies on immigration, energy, foreign affairs, diversity, religion, the size and influence of government, the role of the private sector, etc. have been front and center since he first stepped on the political scene nearly ten years ago.  

All all this about the truth is really nothing but hoopla and fol-de-rol, over-eagerness to get recognized, re-elected, put to rights, and so on.  'Let the buyer beware' is the only good rule for a relative, subjective and therefore meaningless age. Censorship is merely the imposition of one subjective 'truth' and the elimination of all others.

The truth? No such thing. 

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