By Bruce Piasecki, author of the fable 2040
MEMORY IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT: ORIGIN NARRATIVES
By Bruce Piasecki, author of Missing Persons, a Memoir
For the sheer fun of it, I was reading Jean Vioulac’s new book “Apocalypse of Truth: Heideggerian Meditations,” this rainy weekend. My wife and daughter had decided to hike high in the Adirondacks for two bloody days, and I was left with my Bruce Springsteen CD’s and a book.
I have no business reading a book this renowned, as translated by Matthew J. Peterson, and as advertised by its publisher University of Chicago Press. I never studied Heidegger or Husserl directly, only through my Spanish professor Ciraco Moron Arroyo, who had studied Being and Time with Husserl. So I am a bit remote on the subject. Still it was fun “skimming” this short tomb listening to “The Boss.”
I have to confess from the start it was Bruce Springsteen’s heartfelt rendering of the Aids Crisis in his song “The Streets of Philadelphia” that made me cry; while most of the Frenchman’s reflections made me laugh.
Reading this thin profound book brought me back to the months I used Heidegger’s Being and Time, the romantic density of his inquiring prose, the way his heavy classic throws you into reflection on meaning, history, and truth itself. I will never forget that summer, carrying around everywhere, the black thick book of Being and Time. I still keep the book near me on my office hallway shelf. I must have told a thousand people that this was Heidegger’s dissertation first!
But skimming this celebrated French philosopher did give me an insight into prejudice. An insight you can not get from reading my usual news feeds on my handheld, morning Joe, or my relentless pursuit of news through newspapers.
PREJUDICE IS ABOUT NOT DWELLING LONG ENOUGH IN THIS INSTANT WORLD TO QUESTION YOU FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Using biblical exegesis and inspiration, plus what I can only call articulate philosophical vigor and rigor, the dead serious Vioulac made me laugh, several times, as he wrote about the primacy of truth. You get the impression that getting at truth is not only possible, but obliged, in this book.
According to the publisher, this book “reveals both the finitude and the mystery of truth.” Having survived the 132 pages (with another 50 plus pages of absurdly detailed notes!), I do not claim I know anything more about the apocalypse of truth, say as evident in Mohammed or St. Paul.
Perhaps it is because I prejudge philosophy.
I’d prefer to think the world a lot more simple:
In my new book 2040: A Fable (Kindle edition here), there is a battle between events and thoughts, between easy falsities and simplifications and hard to earn historic truths. That is what divides us, not philosophy. There is nothing short-lived about deriving, through study and observations, a sense of where you belong in this world. “Becoming yourself” is the ongoing task of truth seeking, as you expose yourself to far more than your initial neighborhoods.
I say this because I believe, like Whitman and many, in the primacy of the self. It is socialized into value through family, friends, and firms. That is the thesis in all my books, and in 2040, I will celebrate it in all of its grandeur and need.
A SECOND JOKE OF PROFOUND IMPLICATIONS
By page 6, in a section 3 titled HISTORY AND DETERMINATION: DESTINY, in an overall section called CLARIFICATIONS, Jean Vioulac notes:
“The crossing from evidence and access to the sphere of lucidity — that is, the phenomena of elucidation — is thus in truth banal, common to all.”
First joke: nothing that is common “to all is”, for me, banal.
Think about it: What makes Walt Whitman as a bi-sexual self-taugh wonder kid in his release of Leaves of Grass (first edition, 1855) is his universal appeal, not his banal swagger. What makes George Orwell worth keeping by your bedside during this time of Black Lives Matters is not his regionalism in any British sense but his universal appeal of having language known as shaping our position on “political events” of our days. What lasts as truth is in an author’s framework, his or her phrasing, their sense of things.
PREJUDICE IS THE LACK OF VALIDITY IN A CLAIM, PREJUDICE LACKS SINCERITY; PREJUDICE RESIDES IN THE OPPOSITE OF AUTHENTICITY
If you know yourself, in a deep sense, you know where you came from amongst many, and it is hard to be a simpleton in that setting. Prejudicial behavior is reevaluated, and your change becomes more inclusive.
Second joke: I find the notion, in Heideggarean terms, of a “sphere of lucidity” quite funny. Instead of radiant phrasing in a master Fable, or instances of inspiration we get in reading poetry or say, the damn good prose of a Matthew Arnold or a Lord Babington, we are to think of truth in this French modern way of thinking like a flashlight that projects a sphere of lucidity before the battery goes out!
Ha. Ha ha. Ha Ha Ha. A flashlight onto truth.
Hell, maybe for those that only scan the TV for news, or those that only read the headers on a handheld sent each day by Apple News or CNN alerts. Those ways of thinking have short half lives, for sure. But dig deeper my friends, for free you get the context surrounding the truth claim, and that is what matters for your further discernment. Who is saying the claim? What is their source/evidence? People of wisdom discern all of this before a prejudiced reply. People beyond prejudice, like a good detective, even know that two intelligent observers can come to different conclusions surrounding the same event.
CLIMATE CHANGE REQUIRES SUSTAINED THOUGHT PATHS NOT SIMPLE PREJUDGMENTS OF WRONG AND WRONG DOING
The instant world of media and prejudice are related, that is why I am rethinking the many books out there now on Climate Change, as I prepare to remake an argument on the power of doing more with less.
There is an instant media frenzy now on climate change. This is both good, and bad. For it will take dozens of advanced policies, technologies, and consumer behavior changes to address the path for net zero companies and cities and nations. We spent almost 22 months within the leadership of Merck recently, with eight experts, to derive their carbon neutrality positions and investment path. Yet the instant media frenzy that now makes the hashtag “climate change” so common that a company is a laggard if it does not have an instant solution to climate change!
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s understand the context. Merck is the first Big Pharma to explain its valid, sincere, financed search for a cleaner energy future. We need context to understand validity and “the truth” in a claim.
In naked contrast, in an instant world, the sphere of lucidity is very short-lived. You can blame all companies for climate change, naively not separating those seeking solutions authentically from those causing the lasting problems. Unless you fight to understand something over months and years, not in clicks, and news blips, you are making pre-judgements, like the press, or TV, or anything shorter than a book.
That is why I write books, and read books, rather than an endless stream of medical articles or scientific papers.
WHY BOOKS MATTER IN A WORLD OF PREJUDICE
I think there is a more lasting form of being human called a person’s natura. To solve the search for answers in an age of carbon and capital constraints, those making the key decisions need to consider the nature of their consumers, and the nature of the nations they work in.
My Polish Grandmother knew about “natura”, she preached it as significant as she taught me to celebrate the range of different “peoples” on our block and neighborhoods, from my Puerto Rican foster brothers, Asian American foster sister, to the other “whites” in other homes nearby.
What matters today, if I was writing in this philosophical vein, is “the crossing from evidence into prejudice.”
Listen to this 22 minute link where my superhero Tom Wolfe introduces Marshall McLulan to the world.
We need to acknowledge that we now live in a global village, and that the internet is an extension of each of us into a realm so instant and so complex that it is different from our past. I believe now that the rigors of book reading and book writing assist us in overcoming prejudice, but that, my brethren, takes time.
I hope the Tom Wolfe and Marshall McLuhan video helped underline the complex domain inspired by reading this philosopher’s book this weekend. My notes on “Apocalypse of Truth’’, inside the front cover, read:
“Instant clicks — containing the sphere of instant lucidity — are not leading us into an inclusive world of social illumination. Those flashlights of truth are too narrow in their halo, their batteries in need of a new charge. Instead of underlining what is common in our natura, the current emphasis on speed and bottom line articulation, without nuance and context, eliminates the reality of the truths that abound all around us. We dwell in an actual lucidity, when we demand dialogue, and facilitate framed agreements across parties. It is the larger social conversation in the context of complexity. We need to love complexity, not positions. Only this “paragraph” or “passage” length thinking allows solutions to items as complex as Black Lives Matters, police violence, climate changes, and the promotions of diversity and inclusion.”
Then without fully understanding what it means I wrote beneath the above: “The will to notice difference is the key to power.”