The Bullshit

The Bullshit

There's an old story, apparently american indian, about everyone having two wolves inside them, one good, one evil, and the one that wins is the one you feed.

It makes a good point. I've said before that the boundary between sin and normal human emotions and living is excess. letting it control you vs you managing it. Take wrath vs anger, or gluttony vs hunger. These become problems when you are obsessing over behavior, addictive or otherwise, to the point where it takes over your life instead of being a facet of it.

As I've recently mentioned when mentioning Alexandru's post at the Dacian, my purpose here is to build, not to simply tear down. But his post also alludes to something else - you are in large part what you focus on, what you chose to do. Do you chose to build or destroy? Spend time doing things, creating, being with people, or wallowing in hate and bile?

The Nietsche quote about the abyss staring into you also comes to mind.

It's hardly a new thought in our sphere - the need to cut off from the lies and pettiness for a while, to detox, or at least to stop focusing on the negative (for one, I do not miss twitter), but a recent post at Substack put it particularly eloquently, and also laid out the various ways to approach or deal with the Bullshit. First he points out what we all know - the utter firehose of lies and untruth we all face, where even the truth is framed to serve deceit:

Every morning, there it is, waiting for me on my phone. The bullshit. It resembles, in its use of phrases such as “knowledgeable sources” and “experts differ,” what I used to think of as the news, but it isn’t the news and it hasn’t been for ages. It consists of its decomposed remains in a news-shaped coffin. It does impart information, strictly speaking, but not always information about our world. Or not good information, because it’s so often wrong, particularly on matters of great import and invariably to the advantage of the same interests, which suggests it should be presumed wrong as a rule. The information it imparts, if one bothers to sift through it, is information about itself; about the purposes, beliefs, and loyalties of those who produce it: the informing class. They’re not the ruling class — not quite — but often they’re married to it or share therapists or drink with it at Yale Bowl football games. They’re cozy, these tribal cousins. They cavort. They always have. What has changed is that the press used to maintain certain boundaries in the relationship, observing the incest taboo. It kept its pants zipped, at least in public. It didn’t hire ex-CIA directors, top FBI men, NSA brass, or other past and future sources to sit beside its anchors at spot-lit news-desks that blocked our view of their lower extremities. But it gave in.

He presents several options - please read the whole thing - starting with :

Pious bullshit, unceasing. But what to do?

One option, more popular each day, is to retreat to the anti-bullshit universe of alternative media sources. These are the podcasts, videos, Twitter threads, newsletters, and Facebook pages that regularly vanish from circulation for violating “community standards” and other ineffable codes of conduct, oft-times after failing “fact-checks” by the friendly people at Good Thoughtkeeping.

...

One reason to stick with the premium name-brand bullshit is to deconstruct it. What lines are the propagandists pushing now? Where will they lead? How blatant will they get? Why are the authors so weirdly fearless?

...

Engaging with the bullshit news-stream for defensive, deconstructive reasons has been my personal program for a while now. The game can be intellectually amusing and it confers a sense of brave revulsion. I was conditioned to seek this feeling in school, during units on “current events,” when my classmates and I were invited to deplore poverty, pollution, and prejudice. Behind these exercises was the notion that our little lives were isolated, vulnerable affairs loomed over by colossal, distant “trends.” Like bad weather, these trends might sneak up on us and harm us, especially if we ignored them, but unlike bad weather, which came from nature, these grim enormities were human-made and therefore partly our responsibility.

Each of the above are excerpted from their respective paragraphs, but the post covers much more, including his fasts from the firehose of crap, and more detail on the strengths and weaknesses of each tack.

He ends with:

Maybe he should have ignored it all along. Once time grew short, he didn’t mention a bit of it, with one exception: the day John F. Kennedy was shot. He spoke of it three days before he died. He said he was in Washington DC then, working as a law clerk in the same building that housed the Associated Press. He ran to its offices when he heard the news and watched paper spill from the teletype machines and pile on the floor. He told me he regretted not snatching some; those first dispatches might be worth a lot now. I thought about this. One-of-a-kind original paper documents, not identical, infinitely reproducible electronic files. No wonder there was so much bullshit now. It was content. Mere content. Ones and zeros. Lots of zeros, not so many ones.

“I’ve always wondered who killed him,” my father said. “It wasn’t Oswald. Not Oswald on his own.”

“Who do you think?” It seemed he’d studied the matter. New side of him. Should have spent more time together.

“Maybe the Mafia, maybe LBJ. There may have been certain Cubans in the mix. All I know is we didn’t get the truth.”

I’m fairly sure we often don’t. Still, it’s hard to give up hope, and today I blew half an hour on the bullshit, under which the truth lies buried. Maybe. Maybe it’s bullshit the whole way down. How much time do you have for finding out?

Less than you had this morning.

Fact.

Pick your battles.

We have to try to suss truth out of the chaos, but we need to do so efficiently, and without wallowing in it, for we have more important things to aspire to.

Godspeed.

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