The Plastic Hippo

January 12, 2014

Reality and illusion

Filed under: Education,Health,History,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 4:34 am
Tags: , ,
M C Escher (1898 - 1972)

M C Escher (1898 – 1972)

Even after thousands and thousands of years during which lots and lots of very, very clever people tried to define reality, we are still no closer to a universal proof of anything; the only certainty is that nothing is certain.

Since the days of Plato, successive governments have understood that everything is open to interpretation and have carefully exploited the benefits of chaos theory whist simultaneously denying that chaos actually exists. Our current bunch of self-appointed masters having ditched any notion of logic applied to economic policy are now systematically working their way through the sum of human knowledge discarding most of it as being irrelevant.

The rules of valid reasoning, logical argument and proof based analysis no longer seem to apply and we now enter a period of history when reverse logic takes the place of actual fact. So when an A and E department in Belfast declares a major incident because it cannot cope with the numbers of people who require treatment, it is described by some talking head in a suit from the Northern Ireland Assembly as a “one off” and nothing to worry about. A major incident usually involves some traumatic event such as an aircraft no longer being an aircraft, a train that has decided not to be a train anymore or, given that particular part of the world`s unhappy history, a bloody big bomb going off. None of the above applied and no mention was made of the closure of two neighbouring A and E departments, the three to four weeks wait for an appointment with a GP or elderly people without adequate care at home being forced to attend casualty to simply stay alive. Ironically, as the assembly member spoke of a “one off”, an A and E department in Dudley West Midlands declared a similar incident and asked people to stay away unless they had a life-threatening condition. With further irony, the BBC reported a “slight dip” in A and E waiting time targets even though the recorded visits to A and E are down. Aristotle must be spinning in his syllogistic grave.

Classicist Mayor Boris of London has a clear understanding of this new logic as on the day he closed 10 fire stations news emerged that he intends to purchase water cannon to quell the populace of the capital rather than extinguish the flames of the next Fire of London. Emperor Nero might have fiddled as Rome burned but Boris is emulating Nero`s general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus who crushed Boudicca’s rebellion at the Battle of Watling Street in the first century A.D. The logical and unbiased BBC did not report the removal of fire appliances but instead informed us of a drop in profits for high street retailers over the Christmas period. This, it seems, is another “slight blip” on the road to economic recovery because by contrast “we” have sold more than 700 Rolls Royce motor cars to the Middle East and China. Somewhere out in the ether, the ghost of Descartes isn`t thinking straight.

The notion of the importance of beauty, art and culture in the reverse collective consciousness is similarly redundant. When a fairly average Lucien Freud portrait entitled “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” is bought by Roman Abramovich for seventeen million quid, aesthetics is more to do with investment than taste. Ironically, Lucien`s nephew Lord David Freud is the artist who created the bedroom tax and Lucien`s children are squabbling in court over the money for a portrait of their own mother. If only Channel 4 would commission a reality TV “documentary” that brought such scrounging behaviour to public scrutiny. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell; “They took all the museums and put them in the museum museum. Then they charged the people a dollar and a half to watch the museum museum burn down.”

With an Education Secretary of the calibre of Michael Gove, the shades of John Stuart Mill, Locke and Bishop Berkeley must surely be taking the epistemology. Not contented in attempting to redefine the horror of the First World War in the abstract terms of patriotism, honour and necessary sacrifice, Gove has taken £1billion from school budgets to massage his illogical egocentric obsession with Academies and Free Schools. The basic study of knowledge and learning goes out of the window when we hear that an unqualified “head master” of a charlatan Free School is arrested on suspicion of fraud. Lucien`s grandfather and Lord David`s great-grandfather Sigmund Freud would have a field day with a basket case like Gove.

Then there is the study of ethics, you know, morality, human values, responsibility and stuff like that. That, I`m afraid, is history.

Finally there is the last and possibly most fundamental of the five main areas of philosophy. Metaphysics – the basic questions of reality. Was the gun on the grass or in a sock? Was the gun in his hand? Did the gun actually exist? Did he call the police “plebs”? Is the deficit reducing? Is borrowing under control? How big is infinity? Are badgers evil? Will Manchester United make it to the Champions League? Will Nigella go to the celebrity jungle? Who the bloody hell invented Esther McVey? What is cricket? Stop, stop, my brain hurts.

After countless counted centuries of trying to define reality, we now seem to have abandoned any hope of realisation. Instead, those that rule us have realised that simple fear of oppression is not enough and is a failed model of government. Uncertainty is the way forward. Keeping a population uncertain as to their individual prospects of keeping warm, eating, being in reasonable health, in employment or the chance of finding employment is a far more potent control on dissent than mere brute force. Setting the working poor against the non-working poor, the young against the old and stoking up non-existent fears of outsiders coming to eat our babies keeps a nation frightened and compliant. Somewhere in space-time, Heisenberg is laughing his gun-filled socks off.

In the early years of the 21st century, it is easy to dismiss the old cliché that the only certainties are death and taxes. Both are certainly true, but the fact is that this dreadful government has abandoned anything and everything to do with compassionate humanity. The survival of the fittest in the African Rift Valley might be the paradigm for the birth of civilisation but, hey, maybe we have moved on a bit and maybe we should ease off people who might not be as rich as us. You never know, perhaps history could advance rather than going backwards.

Whenever facts and stats and truth and certainty dribbles out of the mouths of those that seek to control us, remember what good old Albert Einstein said:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

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