Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Maurice Jarre, famed French composer, recently deceased, composed such masterpieces as the soundtracks for "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," "A Passage to India," "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Witness" ... the guy was good.

"One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear."

A number of media outlets reproduced this passage in their published obituaries of Jarre. It's so poetical, y'see, almost as if it were deliberately composed to be quoted in obits.

Which it was. Shane Fitzgerald, a sociology student, planted it in Wikipedia. The grand mavens of journalism exploited this resource, and it would have stood as a gentle-sloped tumulus over Jarre's bones for ages to come, save that the young man brought the matter forward. To date, only one paper has noted and corrected the error.

Fitzgerald "said it took him less than 15 minutes to fabricate and place a quote calculated to appeal to obituary writers without distorting Jarre's actual life experiences. He noted that the Wikipedia listing on Jarre did not have any other strong quotes." Wikipedia administrators "twice caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it." Journalists were unmindful of this lack of attribution, and used it anyway. Fitzgerald noted that a "truly malicious hoaxer could have evaded Wikipedia's own informal policing by getting a newspaper to pick up a false piece of information -- as happened when his quote made its first of three appearances -- and then use those newspaper reports as a credible footnote for the bogus quote."

The thing about the internet is that it should make us smarter, not stupider. Since it is easy, we should work harder, not sloppier. It is a scandal. In the serious work that I've done, I always provide citations. Are my sources accurate? When they deal with obscure topics, areas in which only a very few scholars have expertise, we have to take it on trust. Most of what we read is theory anyway. We don't read evidence, we read interpretation of evidence. As with all those health articles, that tout one miracle or danger one month, and something else the next month. Methodology is so very dull, so the mediatalkers don't explain it ... if there is any methodology at all. But give the source, you hairdoos. Otherwise you sound like total fools. Well, strike the "otherwise".

As for the "quote," it's not poetic at all. To be good, it has to be true, and Jarre's life was not a long soundtrack, as we know because he was not insane. While it is true that a final waltz playing in one's own head can be heard only by that one hearer, we note the difference between truth and truism -- the latter being something so obvious that it does not need to be said. The middle of the "quote" is just permutations on the words "music" and "life". How many times do I have to say it? -- repetition, like rhyme, is not in itself beautiful, or meaningful. I won't tear the passage apart because it wasn't meant to be good or profound -- it was meant to fool lazy hacks doing a shoddy obit job of work. It that sense, it's very good.

I don't know what my point is. The thing that got me to write this was the use of the word poetic. Poetry has balls. I suppose my point has to do with what a sham it all is, our society, what we think we know. The unthoughtful way we live, with unexamined beliefs, controlled by emotion, shoddy in our reasoning, if any. I suppose it has to do with the meaning of life. To be a mind living in a body, animated by a spirit. None of these should be neglected.

Tonight my workout was hard but not horrible. Panting for a while afterward, but fast recovery. I was aware of the need for a new mindset, but this workout had a large strength component, and that doesn't give enough time for serious p-factor. I was aware of having not much thought going on at all. It's all generally very primitive anyway, but this was such a focused and immediate goal that Satan didn't get a toehold. He's gay anyway.

My point? That workout was how most people seem to live. No thinking going on at all. Just existing through a process. It's happening, almost, to me, this experience. Yeah. That's it. When the media, our truthtellers, get it so wrong, they are Satan ... well, the Devil. The Liar. It doesn't matter what they mean. If they represent it as truth, and it's not, they're lying -- not about the info, but about themselves. Hey, we're trustworthy. Liars.

Will I lie to you? This blog is a performance. Its author is not Jack H. The author chooses a theme and explores it. He cannot present an entirely complete picture. If the subject is melancholy, as it often is, well, the author does experience melancholy. But what is presented is intensified. Not exaggeration, but distorted by being compressed into a mere two dimensions. There is a way we are all liars. In that we cannot tell the whole truth. Not even God can do that. But it's not lies. We don't mean to deceive. Unless we claim to be right, when we haven't done our due diligence.

Integrity is a huge challenge. It is required, though. It is not a waltz playing in someone's head that only he can hear. It needs to have an effect in the world.

That's all. Didn't mean to get preachy. Much. Oh, by the way, as I was eating I made the mistake of looking up the word meconium. Someone had said that amniotic fluid was urine. Well, it's not a lie. It's just not the whole of the truth.


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