and twist everything that has happened around into a vague shadowy history


“The uninformed must improve their deficit, or die.”


“Of course, disinformation,” Quinn said. “I can do that.

I’ll leave out critical events, then I’ll put in false information and twist everything that has happened around into a vague, shadowy history that obscures what really took place.”

Terry Goodkind


I almost called this ‘subverting truth.’  I have written about alternative universes before, but what if today’s world, and society, was simply a moshpit of intertwined conflicting narratives. Now. “Conflicting” does not have to be parallel, but rather an intricate mix of shared and unshared aspects – all some dimension of a subverted truth.

Which leads me to the worst subversion.

Rejecting contemporary culture and norms, smirking at reason and science and rational thinking, all wrapped up in the idea that the present situation cannot be improved/rehabilitated/rectified therefore should be destroyed is the worst subverted narrative. It is a weird mix of simplicity and instinct (common sense) narratives suggesting that everything else, or let’s call it reality, is false complexity artfully, falsely, crafted and absent of everyday qualities and it should be destroyed in the interest of attaining something ‘simpler.’ The scapegoats, or the artists of this suggested complex reality, are the ‘intellectual elite’ with evil in their hearts for the everyday person. And this is where the worst subverted narratives reside. In a theme in which ‘culture’ is being destroyed by science and intellectuals/intellectualism – a confused, or intertwined, hatred, if not fear of, science and, inevitably, liberalism (which is tied to intellectualism). This counternarrative is grounded in some faux pragmatism which suggests the human minds, and humanity, as independent forces are doomed by powers of some idealistic imagination/abstract imposed against it. Within this subverted narrative is an irritation with the present ‘progress’ containing a more destructive anger, or despair, at what they perceive as a lack of preservation of ideals, ideas, and tradition, i.e., a vague, shadowy history that obscures what really took place. The subversion goes a bit farther in a weird upside-down narrative in which their own intellectual narrowness is applied toward ‘the other narratives’ where the intellectuals, academia, the experts, are the ones who have the intellectual narrowness and professional dishonesty. In the subverted narratives these are the cowards who cannot face the ‘truths’ of traditions and traditional thinking. I imagine it is a battle between false cultures and identities in which all narratives get squeezed into some simplistic, therefore false, subverted narrative.

Which leads me to subversion solutions.

Therein lies the solution dilemma. Salvation can only come through shared understanding, or common sensemaking, and yet the narratives conflict in parts or whole. This real, and sometimes imagined, predicament can only find salvation through some hidden leader who could deliver people to some common ground or common narrative. In other words, this mythical human being is a symbol as a means to verbally reconcile conflicting/contradicting beliefs and have the ability to create a relatively specious harmony out of the conflicting narratives and diverse views of ‘reality.’ Paradoxically, this mythical person conquers the complexity through some fashioned fabulous formula (most often dull simplicity). This myth confuses reality and becomes endowed with a force in and of itself, paradoxically, losing any real meaning while offering meaning to the everyday peoples. From there the concern is that those abstract reconciliations, vague adaptations of reality, inevitably become actualized by society and we are off to the fantasyland reality race.

Which leads me to ‘community imagined.’

Communities, or sense of community, becomes a victim of abstract narratives. To be clear, a community is a real thing. And while I hesitate to say they are crafted, I will say that communities are shaped purposefully – either through choices, behaviors, norms and/or beliefs. Pragmatically, people move to communities. That said. The main appeal of a community is a promise of a safe haven, sort of a destination, for people in a confusing, uncertain, turbulent, world. The community offers something constant, something predictable, something unconfusing.

“Men and women look for groups to which they can belong, certainly and forever, in a world in which all else is moving and shifting, in which nothing else is certain.”

Eric Hobsbawm

As a corollary, if the world is constantly bludgeoning your community narrative, you will invent an ‘identity’ to replace a true community. Yeah. Identities and communities are not the same thing. Simplistically, a community is inclusive and an identity group is exclusive. Anyway. From there we are off to the ‘craft an identity group to belong to’ races.  Now, people may believe they are choosing between identity groups, but their choices are actually grounded in a belief they have no choice but to choose a specific group to which they “belong.” It is this weird conflict of narratives which reflects a fragility of human bonds and that fragility encourages people to twist everything that has happened around into a vague, shadowy history that obscures what really took place. This fragility is the price we pay for having ubiquitous technology combined with the resilient narrative of “we all have the right to pursue our individual goals and the only thing standing in the way of achieving those goals is the individual courage to pursue them.” Yeah. Once again, it is individual power versus collective interest at the core of how we twist everything into a vague shadowy history. And therein lies the main conflict that narratives create to community. It is the uncomfortable paradox that freedom of individual choice almost always denies the individual choice of another. Our way around that is to create a community based on an ‘identity’ which itself is grounded in a simplistic identity-based narrative. This is a community imagined. It is a community crafted out of a simplistic narrative in one based in some form or fashion from the imagination of the individuals within it. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some rituals and commonalities to provide some concrete lily pads but the reality is the abstract community is crafted from subverted truths. In the end society is in a battle between conflicting narratives and conflicting truths. Choose your battles wisely. Ponder.

Written by Bruce