Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Language Problem, Dude: THIS is what HAPPENS when you F*** with REALITY!

What is the deeper meaning of the controversy surrounding the manipulated Reuters loadocraps? After all, everyone knows Reuters has a leftist agenda and that it has been manipulating the news for years. It’s not so much that they manipulated the photos, but that the photos were intended to be manipulative to begin with.

In other words, the initial--and far more consequential--manipulation takes place when a Reuters idiotor decides to use this or that photo to encapsulate and illustrate his view of reality. If his initial view of reality is true, then the manipulated photo can only be more true, not less true, because it is doing a better job of conveying a truth that transcends material images: the truth that Israel is a genocidal aggressor that wantonly targets innocent civilians. To coin a phrase, the photos may be fake, but they are accurate--only more so.

That is certainly how the left sees it, which is why the controversy is of no consequence to them. For example, Right Wing Nuthouse surveyed the top 30 or so left wing blogs, and found that only four had anything to say about it, three of whom minimize or make fun of the controversy.

The comments to an editorial by Jeff Jarvis (HT/LGF) in the Guardian are instructive. I didn’t read them all, but here’s the gist:

“It's a gift to the swivel-eyed mouth-breathers who read LGF. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd almost think...oh never mind.”

“What difference does some news spin make to the reality of people dying in lebanon? People die in lebanon because israel is on a stupid, self defeating, senseless rampage and we do nothing about it.”

“Is it worse to doctor photos or to drop bombs on a city?”

“Whatever the role of Hezbollah in media management, there is no doubt that innocent civilians are being killed in large numbers. That's what is important, not what anybody does with Photoshop.”


“How very strange, that the pro zionists hang on by their fingernails to one or two images... well maybe not if we are to consider the disproportionate killing spree that israel and its supporters cheer on.”

“It's shocking how these Zionists are trying to belittle the death of those children by mocking the pictures--it doesn't deter from the fact that the children are dead! These guys share the same moral compass as fundamentalists.”


In short, reality doesn’t matter. There’s a greater truth involved, which you might say has been the motto of every leftist since Karl Marx. As I have noted before, “the moral and intellectual pathology of the left revolves around its misuse of language. It is not so much that leftist thought consists of lies, as that it is based on a primordial Lie that causes it to enter a parallel looniverse where, even if they say something that is technically true, they aren’t saying it because it is true, a distinction which makes all the difference. The primordial lie is the nullification of the covenant between language and reality, so that language is used for its effect rather than as a tool to convey truth. For the left, good language is effective language, whether it means ridiculously exaggerating the danger of heterosexual AIDS in order to increase funding, brazenly lying about George Bush supposedly lying about WMD, or blaming hurricane Katrina on Bush's environmental policies.”

So here we see a fine example of open endorsement of the nullification of the covenant, not just between language and reality, but between image and thing. It is a descent into a hellish, solipsistic realm of pure subjectivity, where one can make no rational appeal to an independently existing thing called “reality.” Do you see the danger? In reality, truth is a function of the adequation between some aspect of reality and our mode of knowing it. But in the leftist world, there is great enthusiasm for the philosophy of “perception is reality, and who are you to judge my perceptions or to say that yours are any higher or better than mine?” Doctoring the photos is just using an exclamation point or ALL CAPITALS TO GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS!

But visual images are highly deceptive to begin with. This is why television is the ideal medium to propagate liberalism, since it is so rooted in emotion rather than thought. Reading or listening involve entering a detached, abstract world of knowledge and meaning, whereas television is an immediate, concrete world of pictures and images. So often, television reports a story as news, simply because they happen to have some dramatic pictures to show you. On the other hand, important events with no pictures are not even recognized, much less reported.

Language is an abstraction from experience, while pictures are a concrete representation of it. Pictures do not show concepts, but things. As Neil Postman, author of The Disappearance of Childhood puts it, unlike sentences, pictures are irrefutable. A picture “does not put forward a proposition, it implies no negation of itself, there are no rules of evidence or logic to which it must conform.” Yet, these images provide a “primitive but irresistible alternative to the linear and sequential logic,” rendering “the rigors of a literate education irrelevant.” Watching television requires no skills and develops none. There is no one so disabled that he is disabled from staring at the TV or looking at an impropergandish Reuters photo.

The really pernicious thing about images is that they convey the illusion that they are simply depicting reality, when they are actually deifying our most primitive way of knowing the world. That is, there is no knowledge at the level of the senses. Television replaces truth with facts, but as Richard Weaver pointed out in his Ideas Have Consequences, it is a characteristic of the barbarian to believe that it is possible to grasp the world “barehanded,” without the symbolic imagination to mediate what the senses are telling us.

The dramatic images coming out of Lebanon tell us absolutely nothing about the real source of the conflict between Hizb’Allah and Hizb’Yaweh. In this regard, it is precisely the gratuitous images of dead child porn that dehumanize and diminish their subjects, and strip them of any other trait, good or bad. They are simply victims of Israeli aggression. They are tools.

By portraying the Lebanese as impersonal, victimized automatons, the Islamo-nazis may engage their genocidal fantasies in good conscience. Since television images are atemporal, we do not see that the pictures are depicting something that is simply the inevitable consequence of a pernicious idea that is not visible on screen--specifically, the ineradicable belief that Israel has no right to exist and that it is a worthy target of genocide.

(Warning--vulgar profounity ahead. I do not want to alter the artist's intent.)

If I were in control of TV news, in between every one of those pictures of dead Lebanese, I would play the scene in the Big Lebowski, where John Goodman mutters “Fucking language problem, Dude,” pops open the trunk, pulls out a tire iron, and proceeds to destroy a new Corvette:

"YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS, LARRY? (Crash!) YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS?! (Crash!) THIS is is what HAPPENS when you FUCK a STRANGER in the ASS! (Crash!) HERE’S what HAPPENS, Larry! (Crash!)”

Sorry for the profanity, dudes, but isn’t that the message we would all like to convey to Hizb’Allah, the army of Moloch? True, it would be a manipulated image, but hey, as a leftist might express it, WHAT’S WORSE, HURTING CARS OR TRYING TO EXTERMINATE A WHOLE PEOPLE?!


As for the righteous pummeling Reuters is receiving? THIS is what HAPPENS when you HIRE an Islamist STRINGER to propagate LIES!



JulieC said...

I haven't even read your post yet, and I'm laughing. Love that movie!

Anonymous said...

Leftist,socialist,communist, marxist...
I think you know what I mean.
Totalitarians have a great way of curbing all opposition by lumping dissidents together under one very large, very made-up label.
Totalitarians scare people with their veiled hints at ownership over truth.
It's a left-wing conspiracy, a right-wing agenda, a communist takeover, a theocratic nightmare.
It's always something external, there's always a threat. Fear is the motivation, somebody's out to get you!
Doctor patient to who knows who's listening? It's a mutual infatuation and a deepening dependence.
For one moment, come down from your ivory tower and help a brother out by realizing he's you.

Gagdad Bob said...

Sorry. Can't help anyone who insists on deifying lies.

JulieC said...

Okay, having read the post - no laughing matter. I had no idea that the left has been ignoring this story (lefty blogs make my head ache, due to gnashing of teeth), but I'm not surprised. If they acknowledge that the news is doctored to fit their view of things, they might actually have to change their worldview -they might be required to stick their heads out of their cozy cabin and check the coastline, to use a Whittleism. Much better to move ahead, making no eye contact with the Truth; nothing to see here...

By the way, that's "John" Goodman, not Jeff Goodman in the Big L.

Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you! I was obviously thinking of John Bridges.

Hoarhey said...

And without the blogsphere, these lies would be perpetuated and continue to stand as fact until someone would do the research and write a book 10 or 20 years later disputing them.
I don't beleive anything the MSM has to say because they have become so agendized towards the left. Whenever a story comes out, slanted left, I wait a few days to see what the real truth is.

Anon. 8:20

>>"Leftist,socialist,communist, marxist...
I think you know what I mean."<<

I certainly do know what you mean!

Van said...

"The primordial lie is the nullification of the covenant between language and reality, so that language is used for its effect rather than as a tool to convey truth. For the left, good language is effective language,"

Yes, like those who attempt perpetual motion contraptions, or artifical intelligence, they think that if they can say it often enough and with enough complexity to convince... (convince is the wrong word), sway enough people into believing what they want to be real, that will somehow transform their whim into reality.

Note to self: It seems like "The Big Lebowski" is a movie I need to rent.
P.S. I've moved my home from msn.spaces (WHACK!)to Blooger at

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

"Sorry. Can't help anyone who insists on deifying lies."

There is an entire culture dedicated to do just that, justifying bigotry racism and hate.

You know, God's work.

George said...

I sent the LGF link to a friend who lives at the rim of the Beltway yesterday. This morning I received his reply. It was of the same fabric you describe. Since he's an engineer by training, I asked him the question: Do you want good data or bad data?

So far, no response.

will said...

>>In short, reality doesn’t matter. There’s a greater truth involved, which you might say has been the motto of every leftist since Karl Marx<<

Didn't Al Gore recently come right out and announce that lying (I think he used the word "exaggerating" or something similar, but it amounts to lying)about global warming issues was fine, considering the threat involved?

I'm thinking too of Carl Sagan, who always proclaimed himself champion of pure scientific objectivity, fudging the stats (lying, in other words)re: the Nuclear Winter issue.

Nagarjuna said...

I trust that if Fox News, the Washington Times, or any other right-wing publication has ever been or ever becomes guilty of a similar manipulation of the facts, you have condemned it and "Rightists" in general or will condemn it and Rightists in general just as roundly as you condemn this incident and "Leftists" in general.

nuke gingrich said...

c'mon Bob. Don't act so surprised. We learned back in the 90's that character doesn't matter. Remember?

Zrinyi's Last Stand said...

great post. The primordial lie and the party of Moloch. Is that the worst thing parents could ever do, raise their children as a blood sacrifice? And now, rather than kill them on the alter of the damned, parents send their children to kill others in their own death. What a cult! There are smaller lies- materialism, glory, sex- but I can't think of anything worse than this cult of death and slavery.

The Bunnies said...

What weirds me out is that so much of what y'all are saying about the manipulation of truth, etc., is mirrored almost word for word at lefty sites that claim that "corporate media" is hopelessly biased in favor of the right.

However, I would love to see an index of The Old Gray Lady's past corrections pages to see how often they've had to correct fabrications that made Bush or Israel look bad versus corrections of lies that made Bush or Israel look good. The ratio is probably 20 to 1.

Of course, even though they're more likely to rush something false to print if it makes Bush look bad, they're still biased in favor of Bush.

Perhaps somebody on the left can explain that to me.

Then again...

Gagdad Bob said...

There's nothing wrong with having a point of view. In fact, it's naive to think that you can avoid having one. The only problem is that the MSM denies their liberal agenda and hides behind a childish pretense of "objectivity." If they would just come out and acknowledge their bias, I would have no problem with them.

cleek said...

As for the righteous pummeling Reuters is receiving?

you overestimate yourselves, again.

Anonymous said...

Reality is quite malleable.

A week ago, the situation in Lebanon was so horrible that the President of Lebanon was calling for an Unconditional Ceasefire. Now that a proposal for Ceasefire exists, all of a sudden, he wants conditions: "Full Israeli withdrawal first". The conclusion is obvious: As bad as the hammering of Lebanon is, the idea that the carnage might stop, but leave Israeli troops in Lebanon must be, in Lebanese eyes, worse.

It is easy, and lazy, to be in favor of peace without explaining further what one means by it. We all want peace. The problem is what else we want, and what we want more than peace. The Israelis prefer survival to a peace that threatens their survival. The Arabs prefer pride to peace that threatens their pride. One of the two has to give; Israeli survival or Arab pride, or the war won't end.


Sal said...

Steve -
Anyone that reads righty blogs knows that they are much more self-correcting than lefty blogs.
Please see Charles Johnson's "Little Green Footballs", for example.

Why is that? B/c they actually believe that there is a connection between facts and the truth.
If you don't believe that in the first place - then you don't bother.
Which is the whole point of Bob's post. 'Fake but accurate' takes you places you shouldn't go.

Gagdad Bob said...


Good point. Everything always revolves around Arab values, one of which has never been "peace"--rather, things like shame, pride, narcissism, sociopathy, human sacrifices to Allah-Moloch, and manipulation of western liberals.

Nagarjuna said...

Sal, I would like to see every media outlet that claims to be delivering the news do it as objectively as possible. Again, I trust that you would as well and that you would be just as indignant about falsehood presented by right-wing media as truth as you are when what you perceive as left-wing media is guilty of the same.

will said...

Under the rubric of "my crackpot ruminations" re the topic of the visual image:

The Primordial Lie is always a *glamorization" of something or other, and modernity has made a science out of glamorization. To be glamorized is to actually have a spell cast on you, so that you are seduced by an illusion, a chimera. This isn't really a figure of speech - it actually is rather "occult", though we moderns don't think of it that way. But it's no less "magical" than were the ancient arts that dealt with spells, etc.

With the advent of the photo, then film/video, a form of magical spell-casting was made scientifically possible. The Ad Merchants have come to know the power of the image and how to manipulate it to max effect, so does Hollywood, obviously. Addictions rely to a great extent on image and its seductive properties: food, sex, violence, excitements, passions, all stimulated by manipulation of image. There probably is a very positive and highly spiritual use to which the visual image can be applied, but that's in the future when spiritual science really comes unto its own. Meanwhile, we have to deal with the most base, corrupt forms of image-manipulation, ie., of glamour.

Dead Child Porn is a glamorization, a truly base one, but it's one nevertheless. It feeds into a larger glamorization, that of the romancing of the "revolutionary", which truly got its start in the 20th C when the techniques of modern glamorization were perfected. Hey, it's exciting to be a revolutionary, albeit the results of revolutionary activity prove to be manifestly evil. It rotates on the image of the "little guy" fighting the Man - think of those images of young Fidel in the mountains or of Hezbollah guerillas dashing about, firing off their Katushas right under the noses of the IDF. Glamorous stuff. Hollywood stuff, even. In any event, we should never underestimate the power of glamour - it really operates on "astral" principles, it's man-created maya, illusion, that which keeps the earth in spiritual bondage. That's why we must always endeavor to "stay awake", particularly during this current Dark Night.

Even though I manfully resist seductively dancing tv food-images, it really is time for dinner.

Nagarjuna said...

"Anyone that reads righty blogs knows that they are much more self-correcting than lefty blogs."

Is that so? Could you cite some examples of self-corrections performed by blogs on the Right. I can cite an example of self-correction performed by a media outlet alleged here to be on the Left. Reuters corrected its mistake with the photograph at issue. Thus, it seems to me that a strong argument could be made that the righteous indignation with which you're attacking Reuters and the Left over this incident should perhaps be directed far more at the duplicitous photographer than at Reuters, much less the Left, per se.

Gagdad Bob said...


Have you ever heard of "milking a bull?" I wouldn't advise it.

Jauhara said...

My favorite trick to pull on pointy headed know it all liberals, is to use random eduspeak. Eventually, they figure out that I am not making any sense, but pride keeps them from admitting it.

The Unbelievable said...

Read some Marshall McLuhan before you start telling people that television is just a "concrete world of pictures". Television forces depth and involvement on the viewer. Television is not used to its full potential but it is anything but a liberal propaganda tool. You are far too concerned about political lefts and rights and not nearly concerned enough about greater human being.

Gagdad Bob said...

Easy for you to say. Most of us aren't smart enough to watch TV. I'll just stick with books and meditation.

Sal said...

I know, I know -
I was washing the dishes and berating myself for not gazing.
That whole knee-jerk moral relativity tic fascinates me, though.

will said...

For an in-depth perspective on the "depth" and "viewer involvement" of television, rent "Videodrome".
(director David Cronenberg)

Bones said...

Bob, I found this place through American thinker. As I read your essay on "Ghost Dancing," I kept thinking: "I wish I'd written that!" When I read "Language Problem," I was thinking the same thing: "Damn. I wish I'd written that!"

I've passed the word about your blog. I did warn my friends that you had a vocabulary - and an education - and that you knew how to use them...

Well, actually, I told them that this was the deep end of the swimmin' hole, and that they best know how to swim before they got here.

ELC said...

"The only problem is that the MSM denies their liberal agenda and hides behind a childish pretense of 'objectivity.' If they would just come out and acknowledge their bias, I would have no problem with them." That is true, at least in some cases, I have no doubt. But I think another explanation might fit better in more cases. I wrote about this: "They identify (equate, synonymize) their point of view with being fair and balanced. To put it the other way, they believe their point of view is, by definition, the fair and balanced point of view. Thus, whenever an article has effectively expressed their viewpoint, it is by definition fair and balanced. Thus, any request to present some other point of view is, by definition, a request to present an 'extremist' viewpoint."