Once Upon a Time, say before The War (take your pick), there was a Western Narrative. This Narrative started with the Greeks, with Homer, Medusa, then lurched to Jacob, Abraham, Mary, Jesus, Paul, Constantine, Augustine, Harold, William, Henry (1-4), Shakespeare, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, British Empire, pink spots on the globe, and You, the kid, the boy child, who was supposed to bear the White Man’s Burden, push Manifest Destiny, Drang nach Osten, Lebensraum, and all that. You, the boy child, had to attend a University to be admitted to Society.
You had to read the Harvard Eight in order to be considered an educated Man of Letters. You had to know Latin to understand botany [Protostants]/God [Catholics]. You had to know German to understand science [Catholics]/Euthenics [Protostants]. You had to travel to Europe to be rounded and to Asia or Exoticia to be a social critic or foppish poet. You had to call things by the name given to them by Dead White Men. These names did not change…. You had a finite amount of bullshit you had to know, and this shit, didn’t change. By knowing this pile of shit, you separated yourself form the teaming steaming masses of asses urinating and breeding freely in Eastern Slobovia who worshiped petty g/G/o/_/d/sess/s and believed in silly things.
Knowledge, was a closed system, we were told was added to, and that we could see so far because we stood on the shoulders of giants.
Then, the Empires collapsed. The Western Cannon collapsed. Much of The System was exposed as an oppressive window dressing for this or that Hapsburg or banking family, and all sorts of peoples and special interests and individuals took off with pieces to work on in private, challenged whole areas in public, and knocked out the foundations to knowledge. The giants died and we fell from their shoulders. The Academy? Nothing but yatebedam verklempt ubermensches painting discount tit-schvantzi or schmering paint and silly string and selling it to museums. The Cannon of Literature was replaced with fondling pederasts pushing penis poetry and best selling pot boilers. Western History, a study of Dead White Men, all of whom either
a) never met nor considered brown people
b) hated brown people.
became an anathema to what it was to be ‘learned ‘and no longer was the Touchstone and foundation for knowledge.
All over, people wanted more. They wanted to be included in this system of old Knowledge. They wanted to be included in the pile, and one day to replace the current rotting pile of logos and the veritas of the Humanities invented and maintained by old men whispering into their beards with a new dawn, a new narrative for the new version of Wo/M/ankind. These Neo Humanists challenged all that had come before, and broke open the closed system.
The Neos wanted to reinterpret. Renew. Reinvent. Womans, Black, Gay, Lesbian, LGBST, LGBSTQ, LGBSTQP, SPQR, Minority, Majority, local, folk, personal, poli sci, cult stud, kinesthetic and whatever singular visions were added, entire departments and studies invented, holidays created, important people added, narratives turned around, PowerKnowledge invented, PowerKnowledge debunked, and every narrator questioned, whether that narrator was fictional or not. Today, we cannot trust what we see.
We cannot trust what we hear. We cannot trust what we know. We cannot trust what we read, unless we take a screen capture of it. The only thing not questioned in this entire mess, was the university system that had grown from the playground of the landed gentry into an industry of money and power, and now by encouraging everyone to get into Knowledge, these powerful institutions can build up this straw man further and created a further tightening of power so that we can’t get a job picking up dogshit without one of their trademarked and copyright intellectual property rights protected degree.
“Get in” to school now is a reification of the very PowerKnowledge we were supposed to disdain, debunk, and deconstruct just a few decades ago …. We tossed aside everything but the industry that continues to churn on and on. All those universities and the banks that make all those guarantied loans that Can Never Be Discharged became inclusive, ready to take all our money make to sip at the supposed cup of Knowledge, however tarnished that night growler had become nor how coated with slurry.
Degree programs are made up every day, classes with bizarre topics compete for student’s sticky eyeballs. Cliff Notes turned out to be long, replaced by Spark, Wiki, The Google Notes. We now scrawl and scratch and chirp away in class and on exams to prove we can rather than any focus on anything but thats a skill because all of us need know nothing since we will all use Social Media(tm) to know the people who know how to do shit and then tell them to do shit they know how to de. We have moved, lurched, expanded the narrative, we have lost sight that we also have changed Man’s relationship to Knowledge. It is no longer worth the money we pay for it. Knowledge has become a chance encounter with a stranger and not the spirit within the Temple we burn offerings to. And we cannot go back to the slate boards, chalk, marble, and oak and rare council of wise professors.
Do you know how to fix a Commodore 64? Neither do I. Do you know how to write with a pen and in full thoughts? Neither do I. As we debunked the Western Cannon, we have not replaced it with an Eastern Cannon, or a Godless Cannon, or any other stable narrative. Every piece of shit you learn expires in relevance before the hashtag has even fully trended out. What we have replaced our closed system of Knowledge with is not that all people are now included in our heap of knowing, but that the Knowing Ones are no longer so knowing, since there is everything and nothing to know.
With the inclusion of so many into the mixing pot of ideas, perspectives, narratives, relativity, post-post-ThisAndThat critique, we have chipped away at the edifice that has held for centuries in The West, the East, and all points of Heaven in-between, whether Mohammadists using Astrolabes or Quatzequatelists fitting stones within a fraction of a centime, Buddhists creating mendalas of sand, or Paulists inking in fantastic illuminated manuscripts, all our civilizations build on top of the pile, constructed this thing, which once understood meant that you were a learned Man of whatever land was your patrimony. Our knowledge is today but that sand painting, the dust of the empty grave, the salinized wind that blows off desert, Gobi and Sahara. Our Interwebs can Browse, but they point in as many directions as there are assholes, as countless as opinions and today we are all entitled to our own narrative set to our own facts, a constructed and constricted lonely universe of individuals unable to touch each other, let a lone touch anything the ancients thought Sacred. Perhaps this is democracy.
Perhaps this is Multiculti epitome of a new civilization of common pop art for all the globe, netizens, denizens, and citizens of nowhere, and that any attempt to reach back is nothing but nostalgia for a dirty and violent time best buried in museums and art collections of the 1%. As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it Einstein said (I checked on google, it even spell checked for me). However, he was wrong. It is not a circle, and the darkness is everywhere within the cracks. It is a web powered by ancient rotted plankton and carbonized material from before the Ice Age. A flickering lamp of factoids, easily extinguished.
Editor’s note: This post was lightly edited in 2016 but preserves much of the vulgarity, uncommon spelling and general strange sentience construction of the 2012 published version.