Sunday, March 22, 2009

Can ignorance be subjective? Not mucho response

Nicole Daedone "was in a Theosophist cult prior to starting One Taste. Theosophy comes from Madame Blavatsky, who is popular in fascist circles for her support of 'root races' and Aryanism." (Blavatsky was the famous liar, con artist, and fraud, known as "The mother of NewAge".)

[anti-cult blogger]

It's funny but I trotted down to the Theosophical Library for a year when I was young and single in the inner west and working in the city. I took out a number of dense metaphysical texts and not once was I exposed to anything that could be construed as fascist. To confuse ancient Aryan civilisation with some latter dictatorial stroke totalitarian not to say militaristic society that sprang up at a point of upheaval, is to demonstrate at once the problem of arguing from a point of arrogance. "All cults and pagan belief systems are egregiously in error so why should I bother understanding the way each group sees the world". So you go public with a debate on why pagans were fascists. Can anyone else see reductio ad absurdum?

By the same argument, Goebbels got the idea for the whole swastika chic from David Johanssen of the New York Dolls. Hell all these magic lovers reckon they're psychic. Hur hur.

I happen to have done my own research on Madame Blavatsky (and every other metaphysics of the eighties)and all I saw that she was doing was gathering up the screeds of creeds and the muttering of mystics, and providing a central point for this anthropological exercise to be accessed by some bookish terrace house dweller. If you wanted to not be ignorant then the fruits of her intrepid treks into new territories is the surest panacea.

Which brings me to my next point..

Later on in the same blog - that I have made a bad habit of posting comments on - I got into a scuffle with his work experience lad, who would gleefully use pejoratives (like 'famous liar' 'con artist' 'fraud') as soon as look at him but tends to splatter his bad taste on articles about how liberals display bad taste. So doesn't carry sufficient weight behind his satirical stroke.

For some reason he has taken an intense dislike to Heidi Klum and took particular umbrage at her for suing a bum who used her image for a promotion without her permission. I argued that, in principle, it wasn't the 'victim' who had to establish the circumstances around a breach of copyright or trademark. From the tone of other contributions by the apprentice, I suspect that he was taking exception to who she was rather than the action she took.

What if it was a vapid pedlar of self-smut and body image who was raising money for an orphanage by daring to consider the parading of her booty as good and honest work? Would we get the right wing equivalent of us protest types refusing tobacco sponsorship or investment in uranium mines; a boycott? The cause is above the dubious virtue of a fashion model turned host and judge.

I don't know that he's reasoned about it beyond the inhumanity of someone in her privileged position daring to take legal action against one of society's unfortunates. This is ironic coming from someone who supported an administration who saw a Budget as time to cut more social welfare programs and give the money to Rep. porkers and the war on terror.

How did pouring a trillion dollars into the sands and marshes of Iraq help the guy sleeping in the cardboard box, pray tell? Still, if supporters of the neo-conservative agenda had any sense of irony, they'd shut the fuck up about reckless spending by the President. It was practically Bush jr's raison d'etre.

Where is the incumbent spending his pile? Inside the country where the jobs and the industry are? Where the opportunities for the guy who thinks the trickle down theory has something to do with the fact that the toilets were locked at the time, resides? The guy who played Heidi and lost.

I think that's a bit different.

But, for my troubles, I got told

Well, Berko, You're ignorant and TMR has never sued you, and now we find out you're also a ruthless asshole.

Apart from the fact that arguing the toss on some reactionary's blog is a far cry from using a famous person's image for a meaning other than what it was intended, I would err on the side of not being ruthless much of the time. The only thing left to test is the 'ignorance' of berko.wills when posting on the Macho Response.

Given that I don't take steps to hide the multi-faceted misfit that we are, I consider it quite appropriate to test my true ignorance rather than that of some supposed persona. I'm fairly ignorant of sport. I have read books on key facets but it's not my interest. So I don't blog on it in other than a neutral or vaguely complimentary manner.

Unlike the mess the Mercho Response often makes of its history: Madame Blavatsky was an arbiter of knowledge. Just like the scientist who writes a book about particle physics who, I think it's safe to say, neither the Macho Response or this more muted response, could avoid stating their ignorance of. It's up to us how much of this we take away and what we make of it.

To argue for fraud would be to imply that she made stuff up, rather than researching it and collating it (work in this respect, similar to that of rigid tacticians like Frazier).

To state that she was a con artist would be to suggest that she stole from people or made commercial advantage out of presenting untruths and grossly simplified distortions. That would require more scholarly work than I'd allow for now (the blog entry is taking long enough!) but I can say in my defence that, unlike the gadflies at TMR, I had read many works from different disciplines by the time I stumbled on the aims of theosophy.

It is best to think of it as the occult equivalent of B'ahai. It decries the internecine squabbling among sects and seeks to bring together the contradiction for us to see. But also, importantly, to explore the similarities and commonalities.

I could point out that this is a long way from an exclusivist movement like the Rajneeshis (etc etc). It's not trying to shut down knowledge like the closed Brethren or the Roman Catholic church. It's trying to open up. Who cares if you think the blue god with the shrunken heads around its neck looks ridiculous, that's your prerogative. But at least you've bothered to find out the name and the correlatives in other belief systems.

The reason that Madame Blavatsky got called a liar is because the information (not to say knowledge) she was presenting flew in the face of their orthodoxies. Any student of human history knows what fury is invoked by a threat to the established order (well any good student of human history)so isn't it reasonable, if you knew of Blavatsky's mission, to take into consideration the inevitable attempts to discredit her work. This does nothing one way or the other to test the veracity of her research, the zeal and skill she brought to translation, and the unadultered fashion in which she made it available.

Before I went calling her a fraud and a liar, it might help to have some familiarity with her writings. An important distinction can be made with Rudolph Steiner at this point. His Anthroposophy was devised from theories and observations he held.

If you hadn't read this, you wouldn't know this. So much for 'we don't need to read the work of some fool who thinks the sun is a burning tree in the distance' for providing insight into a subject they're apparently interested in.

I think I've established that this is the pot calling the kettle black. But do I possess ignorance enough to be accused of it, never mind who by?

Well, it's true that I possess superior knowledge of arcania than the atheist conservatives who dismiss it so enthusiastically. But, while the best test of 'ignorance' as Macho II means it, would be to examine it in light of the topics broached on TMR and, preferably, samples of my comments in response, I want to go further than that and determine whether there is any grounds in using this insult so casually. After all I haven't been caught wondering aloud how many equators there are. Thusfar I haven't strayed beyond the permissible and my reasoning has been noticed by Macho I on at least one occasion.

What about ignorance intuited by the way I 'speak' or where I turn the debate?

Here are the things I'm not ignorant about:

    country living
    share house living
    living as a couple
    living near traffic lights
    living near a railway line
    living near a brothel and used car yards on a busy highway
    backing onto bush but close to amenities
    being lonely
    being shy
    being awkward
    hiding my light under a bushel
    being boring
    saying something amusing or witty
    winning races and events
    coming top of the class
    blasting it in a public speaking exercise or tutorial
    singing in a band
    writing poetry
    writing song lyrics
    sleeping on a creek bed in the NT
    riding the rail
    walking along the water pipeline from Kalgoorlie til halfway to Perth (I still haven't seen Kalgoorlie as it was dark and I was too far out of town and skint) with nought else but figs to sustain me
    working with architects, engineers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, union officials, public servants, planners, chefs, kitchenhands, farmers and farmhands, sheet metal workers, meter readers
    speaking in front of a visiting delegation and never umming erring you-knowing actually-ing like colleagues over the years
    delivering training in a specialist area

Notice none of this talks about my reading habits. This despite the fact that I read the weekend papers, the free city newspapers, the arts pages, the newsletters, the pamphlets, the reference works, the non-fiction, studiously. I just don't want to look like I'm appealing to an abstract, but possibly impractical, understanding over one of sense; of being able to distinguish shit from clay.

I've been poor and struggling and I've been slightly better off and satisfied with my lot and I've been doing better still and wondering why I didn't take action sooner. I've made my mistakes. Some I learn from and it emboldens me, some I look upon as getting my finger burnt and avoid in future, and some mistakes I don't learn from.

I nonetheless carry a measure of experience to the job of testing the validity of 'berko wills demonstrated ignorance through his line of reasoning on TMR' or 'berko displays the characteristics of one who is ignorant'. If this was done solely on the scale of who sticks assiduously to the substance of the statement and its rebuttal and who loses their temper and starts calling people names then I've got Machos I and II on the ropes long since, metaphorically.

Making allowance for the fact that a bad tempered barb may have been at seeing such a contradictory proposition being put forth on what is supposed to be a cult and gullible-female bashing site, a blog invites discussion unless it's a narcissist need to vent.

What the cheer squad for the alpha male have done by repeating the lies of their predecessors is further hurt their credibility in the eyes of people who have a genuine interest in, and knowledge of, theosophy. All mistakes that could have been avoided by going to the source material.

and to answer my own question:
No, 'ignorance' has a truth value and would be better applied to one who argued a position without understanding all sides of the argument. One could appear to be ignorant by something they said or did on occasion, but that not the same as being ignorant.

I also wonder whether an 'ignorant' person would subject themselves to contrary points of view the way I do. It would be less confronting right now to visit the Obama backslappers and swap bon homies. What compels me to taste test the extreme? I won't have it that some bible sniffling neophyte has it over me for taking a more reassuring route. An ignorant person hates contradiction - in more ways than one.


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