735: Music To The Corn

Read the first part of this story here.

Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Pilate saith unto him, “what is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, “I find in him no fault at all.”

-John chapter 18

I’ve known this story all my life, but it was only fairly recently that I came to realize that Pilate’s question “what is truth?” is not the question is appears to be at first glance. Pilate, in this story, is not interested in discovering the objective truth of the matter at hand, but in redefining the very meaning of truth. Truth for him has nothing to do with objective reality, and everything to do with power. He knows that Jesus is innocent, but instead of acting on this knowledge he acts on the knowledge that, innocent or not, the power of execution lies in his hands.

Truth is not objective reality, truth is power.

The idea that you can speak truth to power rest upon the fact that there exists an objective truth which does not rely on power structures and authority. But for people like Pilate the authority and the truth are one and the same.

This was a concept that George Orwell understood well. Truth , as an objective reality, is terrifying to those who crave power, because truth cannot be controlled. Truth is whatever you want it to be, and the messages on the end of the barn must shift accordingly.

In some ways my new new position as the measure guy wasn’t that bad. There were no slouches at my work, just a bunch of midwestern farm boys who didn’t know how to quit. Fifteen hour days were pretty regular. To be honest, the hard work and long hours were pretty fun. Everything about the operation was, as the idiom goes. “balls to the wall.”

Even though I wasn’t shtupping as much stone, or breathing in as much silica dust as I had been previously I was still working hard. The difference was that I was spending many of my days alone. A good portion of those days was spent behind the windshield of the old Denali, driving long distances between job sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

I’ve never been much for listening to the radio, and for the first couple of weeks I drove around in silence. But silence has a way of getting old, so I would flip through the channels to see what I could find. If you’ve ever driven through the rural midwest you’ll know that there are two options when it comes to radio stations; Country and NPR.

Occasionally other stations will pop up, but those are the mainstays. I still find it entertaining to flip through the channels when you’re smack dab in the middle of millions of acres of corn and find several public radio stations all playing the same programming. One wonders how many stations it takes to properly transmit the Portland Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording or Beethoven’s 5th to a cornfield, or why the cornfield needs to hear it in the first place. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that it’s possible for teeth fillings to pick up radio signals. It’s probably not true, because I’ve never heard of an old corn farmer going mental and blowing up Parliament, and that’s the only logical outcome that could come from playing so much classical music to corn.

Country music can get old after a while too.

So I picked up an MP3 player and a radio transmitter from Target and started downloading episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience.” My daily journeys were now accompanied by Rogan’s fascinating discussions with everyone from ex-Navy Seals to quantum physicists. Definitely a leg up over my previous fare. As much as I was distracted by the, sometimes esoteric, in the weeds discussions I was inspired by the person of Rogan himself.

As a guy living in a basement and working a dead-end, sometimes back breaking job, it was inspiring to listen to someone who had set up a recording studio in his basement and became one of the most powerful voices in the world. Without Rogan’s example I doubt that I would have started writing on this blog.

Personally, I believe that Rogan’s power as a media figure comes from the fact that he does not equate truth with power in the way that Pilate did during the time of Christ. He believes that regardless of who is in charge the truth is the truth. That’s an appealing sentiment, even when his idea of what the truth is gets pretty wacky. Rogan is a dangerous figure, but the reason he is dangerous has nothing to do with the information he discusses, but with the fact that he cannot be controlled.

When I look at the efforts to remove Rogan from the internet I can’t help but think about my boss screaming at me about the strength of his trailer. In reality he had no power over whether the trailer was suitable to drive or not. His real power was not in making the trailer safe to drive, but in redefining truth to declare that it actually was safe. Authoritarianism is the ability to say that war is peace or that the trailer is safe, and for those statements to be agreed upon as truth.

Truth is power. If your view of reality does not bend according to the whims of power you must be silenced.

Some animals are more equal than others.

If you want to know how it all turned out I cover that here. And yes, I do have a job these days.

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com


24 thoughts on “735: Music To The Corn

  1. This reflection is spot on, made more so by your personal experiences. Years ago my bosses recommended that I see a psychiatrist which I did. The psychiatrist’s report said that I was being manipulated by authority. The bosses’ concerns were quickly dropped and never mentioned again!

  2. When I hear about Joe, I think ‘FearFactor.’ He will forever be THAT guy to me.
    Like to him, truth is truth to me. However, I am very aware of how power plays into that and how most people try to bend the truth and still call it truth…

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