On suggestion, and because I thought it was a good idea, I have restored Josh’s Cutting Through the Fog and Vexman’s Thoughts to the blogroll below (or to the side, depending on your tool). Throughout the controversy that swept us over with publication of Kevin Starr’s genealogy on Miles Mathis (since taken down) and Bob Zherunkel’s insightful piece on the unlikelihood of a Newton-style genius operating in the shadows of Taos, New Mexico, I have, oddly, never felt any animosity towards any of the players.
I am prepared now to go forward with the Jim Jones series, starting with his early life. That will come tomorrow or the day after. What has happened so far is good, lots of input which I have not and will not read until my own work, such as it is, is done.
This is, however, a diversion. While in Europe I ran out of reading material, and when we got home found nothing of interest. But while in college I was introduced to two volumes, The American Intellectual Tradition, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. They have sat on my bookshelf for years.
My intent was to go back and reread a selection from Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class wherein he introduces for the first time the concept of “conspicuous consumption.” When in college (and I told the professor this) the man’s words simply did not penetrate my thick cranium*. I kept losing focus. The professor, a wise man, simply smiled and said don’t worry. My intent yesterday was to read it again to see if the cranium had lost some of its bone mass.
But I stumbled and never got there, instead reading a portion of William James’ The Will to Believe. I am a great admirer of this man and his pristine and probing intellect, first having read about him in Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club, and then reading his (very accessible) series of lectures that came to be known as The Varieties of Religious Experience (available as a free download at Gutenberg).
I’ve been reading comments at a long thread that I won’t link to concerning our series of posts on the man in Taos. Comments are open on this post, so it will be a chance to see if the defenses put in place are effective.
What startled me is this: In that thread several facts about me are discussed that take some research on their end. One is that in 2015 I was in Ljubljana in Slovenia. I think at that time I was writing about our travels here on the blog. I don’t do that anymore. That year we were in Italy for a trek in the Dolomites, and on return to Venice rented a car and drove to Slovenia, something had never done before (both renting a car while abroad and visiting Slovenia).
One point of clarification before I move on with my life. I described the vehicle I saw parked at the Miles Mathis residence as a “golf cart.” I did not know how else to describe it. But that is not accurate. It was something like the above vehicle, and was blue, as I recall. It did not say “police” or have light bars or anything like that. In the town where I grew up, the people who enforced parking laws used them. We called them “meter maids” because they were all Lovely Ritas.
This coming week comments will be reopened on non-Mathis posts. I will be watching for Team Mathis. If they jump on board, down they go again. I have no plans to write about him again, ever, though our other writers will do as they please. I know what I need to know. As Robert Zherunkel reminded us, the response two the two pieces was …
“The sound of an arrow hitting its target.”
I also agree with Robert about “… this innate drive in all people, the urge to confess. Not out of guilt or need for atonement. Sometimes it’s just to brag …”. A lot of good information came from Team Mathis in the early days. As the man I met in Taos said to us during the 2016 conference, roughly quoting, “With a limited hangout, take what is good and leave the rest.” I thank TM for the good information given us.
The TM response has been to call us spooks and agents, and enough people will believe that to allow the TM engine to keep chugging along. Fine by me. Maybe TM will back off genealogy and let go with some more secrets. Real ones.
I had a friend in high school, a very bright and funny guy named Dick. Because it was high school, egos were fragile and backbiting, cliques and gossip were hard to endure. We would kid each other, and at times he would be the object of kidding. He would draw back and say … “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”
Dick would stop there, and I remember it so well because I thought it was very funny. It also caused this mediocre student to take a good long look at that poem by Rudyard Kipling. It is beneath the fold.
And of course, Rudyard Kipling was probably a gay Jewish intelligence agent, and the poem “If” just another project.
Back in my youth there was a TV game show called “Camouflage” in which a large picture board was covered up, and contestants, after correctly answering a question, were allowed to see (as I recall) one-ninth of it. They were then asked to describe the whole picture. Often the brighter or luckier ones would guess right based on just a small portion of the larger screen. But we all know that “evidence” can be interpreted many ways, and without a final unveiling of the total picture, we will never be sure of what is true.
Bob Zherunkel’s original piece on Miles Mathis was surgically shortened to eliminate the part called “Down the Rabbit Hole” as I did not want to make perhaps unflattering speculations based on one-ninth of the evidence. We agreed that portion would be restored with the following proviso – we will use Mathis’ own words and allow the readers to draw their own inferences. We accuse him of nothing, as we do not know the whole story. We are, after all, only seeing part of a larger picture.
Below is the original piece in total, with the excised portion restored. MT
This is not a follow-up or response. Robert Z., true to his word, will not offer one. This is simply the original piece in its entirety, with the above-named section restored, along with related remarks throughout.
Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Clowns
By Robert Zherunkel
Why do you believe what you believe?
Because you read it in the newspaper?
Maybe at one time in your life. But if you’re here, you’re way past that level of gullibility.
Because someone posted it on the Internet?
Surely all of us have made that big U-turn on the Disinformation Highway when we realized that we were being sent down a rabbit hole.
Because certain advocates claim something loud and long enough, stridently and even viciously?
Haven’t you heard the saying, “If you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one!”?
Extraordinary claims, it is said, require extraordinary evidence. This saying is a little fuzzy, given that there is no generally accepted measure for “ordinariness.” But the general idea holds up: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is untrue. Continue reading “Down the Rabbit Hole”
There will be more to follow on this blog regarding the Miles Mathis matter. Both K Starr and Bob Zherunkel will have follow-up pieces, one of which will add to the case for Mathis being a front for a committee. The work has been splendid, in my view, slowly bringing me around to their point of view. I was very resistant at first, but my mind’s eye keeps seeing that golf cart* sitting on that front porch, his only means of transportation. It really is a ‘tell,’ as they say in poker.
The problem has been with comments. I know that Team Mathis sits outside the gate waiting to be let in, and that once that happens this blog will become a moonscape littered with debris. I find it so ironic that people complain about inability to comment (even MM himself!) concerning a man who has never allowed comments.