a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Better late than never?
Ironically, only days after the election of former president DJT, the Oxford Dictionary declared ‘post-truth‘ to be their word of the year for 2016. Stephen Colbert quickly pointed out that Oxford’s move was essentially a rip-off of his 2005 term: truthiness.
While Colbert makes a good etymological point, the development of our truthiness/post-truth societal context remains a significant nonpartisan problem in any case.
Publishing naturally lags a bit so it wasn’t until 2018 that the majority of what was a rash of books came out in response to Oxford’s hostile takeover of the truthiness neighborhood. I don’t know if any kind of causal connection can be established, however, it is interesting what Oxford’s word for 2018 was:
2016 – Post-Truth || 2018 – Toxic
Yeah, as I recall that could easily fit.
I’ve used the phenomenon of political technologies [PT] as the overarching umbrella for expressing my real-time concern regarding the present American socio-political climate. A regular a mystical möbius reader recently related that my Grievance Grift series on PT put them in mind of a particular book with a shared monogram, Post-Truth, by Lee McIntyre.
McIntyre’s is one of several books by the same title published in 2018. I was very grateful for the recommendation as the book hit me directly in a soft spot, e.g., me. I related to someone this week that I really liked the book because it makes an argument that I’ve been making for years. The helpful addition is that McIntyre is using his approach, his words, and brings along footnotes. So, obviously, I highly recommend the book in general and I must say that chapter six really makes the book a must read.
Is it 1 or 2?
I don’t know.
Something for you to ponder: Is PT (political technologies) or P-T (post-truth) the larger sphere?
The post-truth societal zeitgeist provides a context ripe for exploitation by political technologies.
In my view, a different metaphor works better than a Venn diagram, or an umbrella. This pair of PTs (PT and P-T) are twisted into a sturdy two-stranded cord that may just form a noose for democracy to hang itself with if we are not very careful.
Why so grim, Jim?
Well, from a jacket note on Michiko Kakutani’s book, The Death of Truth [I’m reading it now], let’s recall a grave admonition from Timothy Snyder, “Without the truth we will be neither prosperous nor virtuous nor free.” And from Snyder’s book, On Tyranny:
Well, McIntyre argues we’re in just such a P-T context now.
And, crucially, we already know that PT is just custom made to exploit that hyper-Orwellian P-T context.
Recall, The Oxford Dictionaries definition of post-truth is: ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’
From the glossary of McIntyre’s book, “Post-Truth – Contention that feelings are more accurate than facts, for the purpose of the political subordination of reality.”
It’s McIntyre’s integration of, “for the purpose of the political subordination of reality,” into his definition that makes his book a must read. The political dimension of P-T is the key.
“Thus what is striking about the idea of post-truth is not just that truth is being challenged, but that it is being challenged as a mechanism of asserting political dominance. And that is why one cannot shy away from politics if we are going to understand what one must ‘essentially know’ about the idea of post-truth.” —Lee McIntyre
The good news
Understanding this political dimension of post-truth is the point. Understanding that it is a plague that indiscriminately infects right and left, rich and poor, old and young, churched and unchurched. Understanding post-truth provides common cause on an existential scale.
Roots: the left and origins of P-T
A founder of social constructivism, Bruno Latour’s 2004 lament forms a self-awareness confession:
“… how does the left fight back against right-wing ideology without using facts? This is the cost of playing with ideas as if there were no consequences. It’s all fun and games to attack truth in the academy, but what happens when one’s tactics leak out into the hands of science deniers and conspiracy theorists, or thin-skinned politicians who insist that their instincts are better than any evidence.”
Lee McIntyre’s definition, “Post-truth – Contention that feelings are more accurate than facts, for the purpose of the political subordination of reality.”
The political power dimension is the point.
Post-truth depends on and, as near as I can tell, really requires an epistemology of inference [eoi]. I’m seeing that an eoi is intrinsic to post-truth and this hyper-subjective way of knowing operates through the “feelings are more accurate than facts” dynamic.
The good news is that the existential danger of post-truth provides common cause for both church and society.
Next week: We’ll continue looking at post-truth and eoi. Come and see.
[this post approx. 850 words (3 min. read)]
I never know what I’ve said until I hear the response. What did you hear me say?