Monday, February 1, 2010

"When you see the man speaking to himself loudly on the street, do not run from him, run toward him, for he is a poet. Fear him only if you fear the truth." - Ted Joans

We fear the truth for the same reason we fear the crazy man on the street: it will not leave us alone, it knows no boundaries, it has no sense of propriety or decency, it denies us what we think to be our dignity, the "white noise" of ideology which tells us white lies about our condition and our states of subjection.

In high doses, truth is demolition and acidic degradation. There is only so much truth that any individual can take, and capitalism allows truth insofar as it allows psychosis: in special cases, for special purposes and only insofar as a function is prescribed for its proper deployment. If the psychotic is a one-woman show on Broadway, a Wesley Willis or a Daniel Johnston, or if the neurotic displays itself gratuitously like Woody Allen, the nobles will give it an allowance so that it can let some pressure off of the masses of people who yearn for certain vicarious moments of obscene lucidity and uncontrollable tremors.

The psychotic is also the drafter of the overall drift of contemporary technologies--what is the department of homeland security if not the wet-dream of a paranoid schizophrenic? Adam Curtis argues, from a cozy foreign perspective, that the United States' Cold War policy, which heavily determined its "War on Terror" policy, was the outgrowth, to a large extent, of the mind of one John Nash, immortalized by Russell Crowe a few years back. Nash created Game Theory, based on the idea of a zero-sum game, where each game concludes with the ultimate defeat of one individual and the domination of another, and this theory was instrumental to the escalation of the arms race and the idea that one must always-already suspect to be betrayed by one's acquaintance. Therefore the neighbor, the friend, the other of any kind becomes the opponent, the enemy.

What Curtis leaves out, or perhaps does not have time to develop, is the fact that the game theory assumption of zero-sum competition was not invented by Nash. Nash can be seen, like Ayn Rand, as an example of a psychotic who is influential because he brings to the surface something implicit. The zero-sum assumption has been at play juridically for centuries, with the idea of innocent vs. guilty in a court of law.

The zero-sum assumption relies on an ultimate, overall authority which finally completes the ruling of a smaller authority (such as a judge) and realizes this ruling. It relies on the idea that power is not fluid, that it resides in an unseen but infinitely high place, above the grasp of ordinary people, no matter how organized or numerous they may be.

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