Truth Is Whatever I Say It Is

“Crooks” is the leitmotif of the day. We begin with the Great Eugene Blizzard of Twenty and Twelve:

@ 7 ½ inches, the largest snowstorm ever recorded for Eugene, Oregon

My favorite men’s wear store in town is going out of business after nearly fifty years. It is my favorite store because it’s the only store in Eugene or Springfield that carries my sizes: I’m a big man, and even were I at fighting trim — which I’m not — I would still be a big man.

Thus, certain sizes are not available in stores for me. I cannot buy shoes at anyplace local, just like when I was in high school, and, after checking every shoe store (literally) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I could only find TWO pair of shoes in my size, period. I had to buy them both.

One was tolerable, but the other, for some sick reason, had the sole larger than the tread, and the upper vamp attached with visible stitching as it was drawn down and flattened in an “L” shape away from the foot. Thus, a large foot was made even larger by these “desert boots” — surely the ugliest shoes I’ve ever worn, but they were, at least, very comfortable.

Thus, I had a mailing list “private sale” envelope for yesterday, but the snowstorm stopped the twin cities of Eugene/Springfield, except, as I learned, some heedless large men braved the blizzard and cleaned out all the “cool” stuff.

I was left with whatever was left, and, after making my clothing purchases for the foreseeable future, I headed back to base on the still slushy, sunny streets.

21 March 2012 blizzard

And I stopped in at a famous local “Army Surplus” store. Browsed diffidently, reminded once again that most “cool” clothes are denied me. And then I saw not one, but TWO pairs of surplus jungle boots, size 14, wide. Brand new.

I untangled them and went to try on the wider pair. I asked the woman who had come back to be of no help in untangling the twin sets of granny-knotted shoelaces, hanging the boots from a hook at the back of the dim, dingy, overstuffed and undermerchandised store.

The narrower pair of boots was marked $59.95. OK, thought I, fair enough.

If you don’t know why a good, durable pair of comfortable boots is extremely important, I won’t elucidate here. But it seemed an amazing stroke of luck. I might even buy both pair, thought I.

And the unhelpful helpful lady asked how much the boots I was trying on were, and the woman behind the counter loudly said “$79.95.”

“Wait a minute!” sez I. “How come the other pair is only $59.95.”

And the unhelpful helpful lady scuttled to the back peg to grab the other pair, assuring me as she went: “Oh, those are NEW boots. The other ones are probably used.”

They weren’t and I knew it, though I doubted that she did: I actually pay attention.

She came shooting out of that back nook like a sounding whale, assiduously avoiding eye contact with me, as I observed that she had seen the other pair were new, too — as she unsuccessfully tried to shield them from my view by holding them on the other side of her body as she breezed past.

When she showed said shoes to the woman behind the counter, the counter woman loudly declaimed. “Oh, those are marked wrong. Please” (now directing her sparkling leadership qualities at her clerk) “mark those correctly. They’re $79.95.” Her voice had the pleasant timbre of a foghorn.

And I took off the  boots that fit as perfectly as Cinderella’s slippers ever fit and walked out.

What had just transpired was criminal, but there was no point in this toxic cesspool of greed, crime and corruption, to call her on it. I simply — as the Good Book suggests — “shook the dust from my shoes” and departed. Forever.

I wouldn’t have MINDED paying the $80 bucks apiece for the two pairs, understand. But I am NOT doing business with crooks.

Which brings us to Karl Rove, the war criminal and probable “outer” of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame to defend that criminal war. He “writes” this in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal today:

As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief [sic] would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film “that’s the call I would have made.” For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are…

Setting aside for a moment Mr. Rove’s qualifications as a film critic (they are slightly fewer than his qualifications as a creature with a soul or a conscience), one asks one’s self: When was the last time that you ever heard ANY Republican admit that Bill Clinton could possibly be right about ANYthing? And yet, here, Karl Rove is marking up the merchandise right in front of our eyes.

And that’s a crime, too.

The ultimate crime is in thinking that we’re STOOPID and don’t know that his bundle of joy, Incurious George, not only COULDN’T get Osama bin Laden for seven straight years, but even stopped looking for him altogether to engage in a war of aggression — as noted by the Nuremberg Trials — based on false information (that Valerie Plame was professionally destroyed BY Mr. Rove to protect the FALSENESS of).

But Karl Rove actually believes that we will BUY this neurotoxic nonsense.

Alas, the neurotoxin WILL work on too many, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Not boots. Not blizzards and going out of business sales. But neurology and how the poison that Karl Rove distills faster than Capone’s boys could distill bathtub gin really works in the brain.

In an essay in Sunday’s New York Times, “Your Brain on Fiction,” By ANNIE MURPHY PAUL, March 17, 2012, Ms. Paul notes:

The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately, neither Ms. Paul nor the brain researchers cited seem to have connected the dots. “Simulating reality” is a bit of a weasel term, if we consider what “reality” actually is: reality is what we perceive, and we KNOW that is NOT “reality.”

This is literally impossible
in 3 dimensional space

We TAKE it for reality, but it is not*. It is the sampling (by the five senses) of four discrete spectra of the electromagnetic spectrum: from the sampling of “visible light” photons (from infrared to ultraviolet, not inclusive), to the auditory range of vibrations from 20 to 20,000 kilohertz, etc. (Smell and taste, chemical sampling, overlap).

[* See Reality 101 for a more complete explanation of this:

This is not difficult stuff, but it IS essential stuff.]

That last one, in particular — Unreality 101 — gets to the nub of HOW the simulated reality and simulated thought is patterned to “create” false realities.

It’s worth reading alone, if needs be.

Our “world” is a sophisticated simulation of reality — a simulation that can’t warn us of radioactivity, or ultraviolet rays, because they aren’t perceived in our simulation, our constructed “stage play” running in our brains.

You see, since our consciousness is a continually-playing simulation of “reality,” we are easily influenced by what we take to BE realities, to which we react and respond physically AS IF they were reality — even though all we know is a few news reports and some 911 tapes, and a mug shot and several photos of a cute black teenager out of his family album.

There was a huge march and demonstration over just this issue yesterday in New York City (a thousand miles away from the Florida town in which the tragic events unfolded.)

But does anyone “know” what the “reality” was? (Certainly the hue-and-cry is a reaction to the PERCEIVED reality.)

Well, that’s begging the question: that is what courts attempt to determine, and as any lawyer can tell you (or any Court Reporter, for that matter), “reality” becomes highly malleable within the rhetorical confines of the judicial snake pit.

The point is that creating false realities is as common as humans are common, and as intertwined in our history as any other notable strain of thought. And what Karl Rove and Mitt Romney (who is less a candidate than a salesman) share is that they don’t CARE about the difference between our human simulation of reality and the false realities that they would LIKE us to believe.

And all of the tools of fiction are harnessed in service of that end.

We don’t have any clear filters between what we’ve experienced (a brick hit you in the head) and what we’re TOLD someone experienced (a brick hit Tommy in the head.)

The entire “Mission: Impossible” series is predicated on this notion of “reality.” The IM team creates a false “reality” that causes the Kremlin goon (invariably in the old Cold War TV show) to react reasonably to a false reality, usually ending his career or causing him to defect or turn over secret plans, etc.

And this is what Karl Rove is attempting to do, today.

Yes, there are many “narratives” out there, but trying to find the one that bests corresponds to “reality” has been wrested even from scientists, whose absurd notions (observation, hypothesis, experimentation, theory) of global warming are refuted by any Rightie Stooge with a Blog: those who had earlier practiced and perfected the “skepticism” riff on “evolution,” which now enjoys minority support, which proves my case.

But it is a crooked act: an act of “reality” embezzlement. And, the sorrow and the pity is, that within the Bush White House, there was no difference between reality and fiction, between reality and the simulated “reality” of the computer gamer in God Mode.

With disastrous results.

That this election is a massive con-job about.

The Bushies handed this country trillions of dollars of debt, sold our economic security to the Chinese (oh boy, that’s taking care of the ‘Saddam’ threat, boys!), allowed eight years of unfettered non-regulation, with the resultant mine and workplace disasters, toxic waste spills, and over 4,000 coffins of American boys and girls coming back to Dover, Delaware (but never show it, and, voilà! it’s Not Real!) the shame of Guantanimo, secret prisons, torture and a world-wide shell-game of black “renditions.”

And now, “what virtually any commander in chief [sic] would have done in the same situation,” says the Architect of Unreality, who, it seems, can no longer distinguish between the snake oil he’s selling and the actual medicine he’s so desperately in need of.

Karl’s brain on drugs

The crook lies for Rupert.

But these days, that’s not really news.

“Reality is what I say it is,” may work for a while, but it never works in the long run.

Why?

Because, no matter how drunk you get it, or how much you cheat, the Universe ALWAYS wins any arm-wrestling match.

A fact that Mr. Rove and Mr. Romney (and, to be frank, the entire active GOP) don’t seem to grasp.

Because they’re reading their own press releases and believing them to be true.

And they are stealing the financial security and physical well-being of an entire generation just learning to talk.

And here in Eugene, our freak blizzard is on its way to melting

Starting to melt away

But I still don’t have a good pair of new boots.

And I no longer have a store in town that carries clothes in my size.

That’s the reality.

But the crooks seem to be doing OK.

Courage.

==============

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has “corrected” the lie that Karl Rove told:

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column included an incomplete quote from Bill Clinton in the last paragraph.

Now, it reads: Even President Bill Clinton says in the film “I hope that’s the call I would have made.

Which completely changes the meaning of Rove’s oily assertion.

Liars are liars, and their lies are neurotoxic poison. Right Karl?

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2 responses to “Truth Is Whatever I Say It Is

  1. I love your writing Hart. Thank you. I’ll send you some things I’ve written. Great job. The shoe thing had me LOLing.