by Henri Luc
[This is a further excerpt from an interview with the beloved late-Gaean amateur historian & legendary oldtime history-broadcaster, Emmett R Smith, of the hallowed Lincoln Park district in Old Mankato in Minnesota, on the North Coast of Iowa in Old Earth. He lived in the last years of humanity’s confinement to Old Earth before the advent of widely-available space-travel and out-migration. This was fifteen hundred years ago, of course; and, in all that follows, the rhodomontade and piffle, we may think to detect the authentic voice of that former earthbound age.
[Such recorded material as we have been able to retrieve from the universal light-cone, of Smith’s Old Earth radio-historiography, now is available in the ‘Mankato History This Month’ archive at this link:
[Much of it is ludicrous; and, some of it will bring tears for the sweet fugacity of all existence.
HENRI Luc, Special Correspondent, Cosmopolis: “Last time, you finished up aphoristically on the doom in history that awaits what you called ‘titanism.’ Just what is this titanism?”
THE Affable Emmett Smith: “Ah, me! Well, what I am saying first and last is that in history morality matters. Also, of course, as the Mouse said when he failed to make love to the Elephant, ‘morality is a matter of luck!’
“However, as to titanism, that is any variant I think on the hubris of the old Greeks.
“And the hallmark of hubris is that the person is exalted, high up there and above the others and everything…precisely, ‘beyond good and evil.’
“You see, there is in our social human being this widespread predispositon to God-all-mightiness, and I think it is fair to say that in the efflorescence of societies and civilizations, Hell, virtually all human groups as well as individuals, they do fatally get above themselves sooner or later. In individuals this typically happens in the full reek of adolescence. In societies, however, it pops at some crapulous late stage in the game. And then in any case as the German Army used to say in Russia in the Winter in the Hitler-war [a mid-twentieth century OS late-modern race-conflict — BW], well then, ‘it’s goodnight, Marie!'”
“The erratic teenager is in the casualty-department having its stomach pumped, its fetus aborted and paperwork completed for committment to longterm mind-treatments….
“And the deranged society is in receivership and undergoing foreign occupation.
SCRIVENER Luc: “You seem again and again to adduce cycles, the moral-theme in history, at least something like a core of universals — that’s anathema to the other historians I’ve met from your eon.”
SMITH (Chuckles avuncularly): “Not all workers ignore the subject, but what you say is not surprising….
“The Greeks had another wise saying about how the bearer of bad news, the messenger, always gets it in the neck. The characters to whom you refer are all under binding institutional tenure here, in a period that fancies itself unbound from old prejudices and, hence, a time that its academic hetmen call ‘humanist.’
“Never mind there’s NO Greek and less LATIN! ‘We’re all multiculturalists around here, PLUS humaner than Hell!’ So goes the mantra and official rant….
“I mean, Jesus Christ [expletive-figure in an Old Gaean religious-fable — BW], the sheer uncultured conceit of this hypercivilized nonsense boggles my mind! And, these ornaments of scholarship –‘hairpins!’ we used to call guys like that, back home on the farm — moreover fancy themselves liberal relativists and relative liberalists, and environmentalists too…Good Lord, at least as an independent scholar, and regardless of what may be the objective flaws in my views — darn few of THOSE, by the way! — I anyway cannot be accused of being simplemindedly bound up in the hermetic toils and polite idiocies of my own pinheaded round!”
SMITH: “Not ‘a cycle’, my man! Cycles! Wheels-within-wheels…and, to the populaces with the superior moral tonus go the spoils!
“It is as plain as a positive HIV-diagnosis, so naturally no one wants to hear it. And so naturally nobody dares say it out loud in these unhallowed and distinctly cheaply-built, postmodern, academic halls and gangways such as this ‘Minnesota State University’ ratrap at Old Mankato, where I live [in southern Minnesota, on the North Coast of Iowa, eg — BW].
“Any academic historian who would even dare to let on a bit too loudly in this atmosphere of state-subsidized denial things like:
“‘Say, maybe we are just a tad, well, onesided.’
“And, ‘maybe we are, you know, just a scosh prejudiced.’
“And, ‘say, guys, it just might be that now we and all of our ‘culture clashes’ and affirmative-action programs, we’re for the historical high-jump!’
“Well, that poor dumb so-and-so would be out on his fanny so fast that his eyes would spin around in his head! The worst of it all is that they would not adduce his opinons as the cause, that would be too honest and direct — and maybe the guy, if tenured, could mount a plausible fight back! Probably instead they’d get him on cooked-up sex-charges, of having become aroused by Ann Coulter-recordings advocating exclusive herterosexualism….
“This all is just a complete mess — which is my point, I think.”
SMITH: “It’s like this:
“One, through time you have human groups situated in different areas. As populations increase, propinquity increases, encounter, conflict, temporary accomodation, supercession finally.
“Secondly, and in the meantime, for some reason, our brains and the efflatus we call ‘mind,’ produces myths, fantasies about our origins and — this is the important point! — about the future.
“Thirdly, all of the initially-local stories about why? and the whichness-of-what, all have this in common — they propose that behavior now matters in terms of then. The test of a rather crude sort of spenglerean German historical ‘success’ is the question of who gets over on whom, all aided and abetted by the vitality of myth and conception.
“And, for the fourth part, if you look at that last statement, well, it is perfectly true, obviously — but so nakedly put that it is just tiring and depressing. I mean, the kinds of fear and the numbers of things to be feared, all really are so numerous that the most reasonable response to all that sweet reason is to just go back to bed and to Hell with it!
“That is the historical effect of the so-called ‘rational’ statement — that is the fruit of unrelieved and unredeemed reason, the more scientific it is, the more hellish.
“Look at the hygienic- and medical-bases and funding-rationales for Auschwitz.
“REASON Is like alcohol — which dehydrates — when the real basic need is for water.”
LUC: “In an idiom of your own time, Sir, ‘that’ll set ’em off!’ I can see why on the face of it the academic scholar would naturally tread easy in such a stifled atmosphere as you purport. Who wants to be called names? Anyway, I wanted to ask, you don’t advocate ‘exclusive hetersosexualism,’ do you?””
SMITH (Makes a suave gesture): “No, no, no, not a bit of it, young man, oh my goodness gracious me, no indeedy deed, why the very idea, tsk…. But, that does bring us to the fifth factor, namely that of religion.”
LUC: “Here we go again!”
SMITH: “Historically, it is religion and religious or transcendant content, emotionally, that goes the farthest to drag the last inch and ounce of effort out of individuals and populations. It can be overtly ‘spiritual,’ with loads of divine images and taboos, or materialistic yet still emotionally-transcendant as in the case of the socialisms, most notably in the Ninety Years’ War of the twentieth century.
“In any case, the hysteria and the very-real faults of religion as such are too well-known by now [2007 AD, Old Style — BW] for our own good. Indeed, it is a mere polite shibboleth of public schooling, today, to say that religion is the bunk and that religion is responsible for ‘far more horrors than benefits’ and so on….”
“The problem being that our whole panoply of Neo-liberal marketeering and endless jet-travel and thousands of square miles of shopping mauls, and all of our professionally credentialled state-liberalist good intentions and non-judgemental bland insipidity, categorically none of this dull stuff can meet the human need for transcendant experience.
“Not even when you add in professional sports and country-and-western music can it do!
“Indeed, most emphatically, no private art or aesthetic sects can fill that bill. Indeed, this is the critical flaw in the argument that aesthesis and ecstasy are the same thing — they are not, and they are not simply because of the different physical locations in the body, of these different sensations.
“AND, More importantly, human experience of the sensations has always led to an ascription of ‘universality’ to ecstasy that is not available in a simultaneous way to large populations in aesthesis.
“MOST Critically, however, is the element of — taboo!”
LUC: “Isn’t that deemed one of the most poisonous things of all, about religion? For example, the cruel distinctions between the forms of sexuality…?”
SMITH: “Sad but true. Always, there is the tension between an immediate sensation of the paradisal in some sort of nice dirty activity or other — an experience that always wanes and leaves behind a hangover — and the ineffable possibility of, somehow, attaining finally and ‘forever’ to the paradisal state itself. And no washing up after!
“In any case, to the historian, it seems clear that there has darn well got to be a lively and — note this well! — widely-held common basis of agreement, most notably on what is banned….
“NOW Nobody in their right mind wants to pick on gay people or heterosexualizers or, the most interesting of all in a late-decadent period such as ours, the pan-sexualists.
“But be that as it may, it should also be clear that any period such as ours, of all-in tolerance — at least of anyone who is not specifically religious or, still worse, ‘fundamentalist!’ — can by definition not be expected to last for a long time.
“This is because conditions of maximum ‘tolerance’ must always coincide with a soon-rise beyond fatality, of maximum individual adventitiousness and corruption.”
LUC: “You yourself, Sir, have said that ‘corruption rules’ in history.”
SMITH: “Alas! The problem is that conservative historians mope around about the ‘unique’ moral vileness of today, especially on this thorny point of corruption — to them it is government corruption, mainly, stealing off the government transformed outright into ‘legal’ subsidy, or office-selling of Representative’s votes for example to the big pharmacological houses….
“Equally, liberal historians curse the advent of Neo-conservatism and rue the good old age of Roosevelt, or at least the sainted Kennedy.
“That is all rubbish!
“A close study of American history, for example, would seem to show that proportionally the kinds and amount of creative stealing that went on in the American Civil War was immense, just immense…why, it all makes these rather jejeune efforts by Vice-President Cheney and the Halliburton Company look, well, stupid and unimaginative and incompetent — all adjectives, by the way, that objectively and fairly and precisely describe the American mistake in Iraq. All of that, too, under Vice-President Cheney and the Halliburton Company.
“No, over time at the historical center there is always stealing and rent-seeking.”
LUC: “You seem to think in vectors of time. So, when is the tipping-point passed?”
SMITH: “What is fatal is when the common people know too much about all of this through folklore and now their media, treat it as commonplace and say ‘so what?’ Still more critically, a significant and meaningful — I mean sociologically effective and prophylactic! — number of them do not go to church or the temple or mosque or whatever and pray for their government and President and so on.
“It is because they ‘haven’t got the time,’ that sort of stuff is not ‘liberal’ in any case, and anyway throughout the land all are on the spy, each for their own grant from off of the government, to do Sesquicentennial research or otherwise draw Social Security.
“For what is missing from this melancholy scene are not only matters of taboo and judgement,with their undoubted shadows and cruelty, and their historical fruits for good — the capacity to defer gratification! But also missing and, indeed, never known is that kind of love it is the central role of myth and observance to foster.
“I mean the love beyond the sorts of conditional affection sought in rut and family and romance and friendship. All of those are, precisely, Neo-liberal market-contracts and all go to Hell when I can no longer function, perform, ‘do my part.’
“Beyond that mirage of getting and spending is the selfless love that really is selfless in illo tempore, when all together are caught up in it and no one is standing aside and manipulating….
“LACKING That sort of love, these people, people like this, therapeutic populations and target-markets, these statistical-Americans will be incapable of laying down their lives in meaningful numbers for one another in a pinch.”
LUC: “At this point, what do you think, Sir, about Pope Benedict XVI’s recent assertion on Tee Vee, that the catholic faith is the only true religion?”
SMITH: “By all means! Let’s have an end to this abject pussyfooting everywhere! The very vitality itself suffers suffocation, and state-liberalist ‘tolerance’ both clabbers the bile and inhibits the free clean flow of the elan vital!”
LUC: “So just between you and me, Sir, what would you, a student of islamic Sufism, say to the Pope?”
SMITH: “Oh…? ‘Howdy-do, Sir, howdy-do! Been fishing…? Odd sort of weather for it, eh?'”
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription-rights reserved
[16 July 2007]