Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes: the heritage cult ― 6. All together

Vilhelm Pedersen's original illustration for
The Emperor's New Clothes shows him with
an undergarment instead of "in the all together"
The Wikipedia entry for Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes speaks of the author's thoughts about the hypocrisy and snobbery that the author saw in the Salon, as well as it being illustrative of logical fallacies. I didn't read this before coming up with the title of this series, thinking only that the boy was saying what others might have believed but were afraid to say. So it was a happy accident that such faults were mentioned as they pretty well encapsulate the nature of the Heritage cult. The illustration, too, falls short of, literally, exposing the king.

So the Heritage cult can be recognized by its hypocrisy in condemning collectors and metal- detectorists for destroying an (rather dubiously named) archaeological record which often is used little more than a projection of the excavator's theory-laden preconceptions of a site that will be destroyed by the action of excavating anyway. Snobbery is another tell-tale indicator of the cultist writing which often attacks the collectors of being greedy and the detectorists as being vandals of less than average intelligence. The techniques of the writers are so full of logical fallacies that it is not too surprising that many have just stopped reading their stuff anymore.

They all know that they are using such fallacies and have such an attitude but, like all cult members, think that the end justifies the means. The public at large, catching on to the fact that the are being used as dupes to lend some democratic respectability in the public response "non-process" to what is really a US State Department ploy to gain advantages that they feel should be withheld from the American people because, presumably, the latter might question that too, have largely stopped commenting as avoidance is a common response to cognitive dissonance. This neglect is then attributed by the cult to an idea that those who do not support the Mo U's are realizing that they are wrong, despite the fact that both pro and con sides are showing the same cognitive dissonance and that they are starting to realize that they are being used as pawns in another, unknown, game.

But I have added a few more ingredients to the stew: the foundation of UNESCO with its ideas of sexual sterilization for those they believe to be adding the wrong genetic material to the gene pool and their admiration for the idea of a single world government, when just a few years earlier, the former was being applied through genocide and the latter was being responded to with a world war. The means might have changed, but the ends were just the same.

Then, to add a little extra flavor, a dash of memes so that people will get a false picture that the knowledge of artifacts and coins is better expressed by archaeologists and museum cataloguers who actually see very little of the stuff than the specialist collectors whose publications list much more of it than is held by any museum, and dealers whose livelihood depends on their knowledge and whose sales lists and auction catalogues become valuable references in their own right. Dealers frequently maintain archives of their sold stock and allow free public use of their images.

But most important of all is enantiodromia. Through their psychology and methods, the cultists are reducing the interest in the past; taking it away from the public; and investing control in the hands of nationalists where things can be used for political control. They have certainly created more animosity between archaeologists and metal detectorists where, previously, at least in Britain, the two approaches were starting to be able to communicate better and see each other's value. They are creating the opposite of what they first intended to do. Through dogma, ideas are not developed and the public loses more and more interest, not just in the issues, but in the past as well. A few raving archaeologists gives most of the others a bad name and this is not pleasing many archaeologists, either. I am always having to defend archaeology to coin collectors as the latter are seeing, mostly, just the cultists, and they think that all archaeologist are like that.

While the cult is diminishing and the cult bloggers are posting less frequently, or dropping out of the picture altogether, the legal structures will remain like fossils of the past as laws have a tendency to stay even when their welcome has long worn out. The laws have as their main motive, not the philosophically paradoxical "preservation of the past", instead of its study, but ways that perhaps GMO's and Indian farmer suicides might be increased to the detriment of all sane people who believe that profit is no valid motive for destruction or that militantism should not be used to benefit stockholders in the products that kill and maim. Anti- Americanism is also clearly being used as most of the finer pieces of antiquity are more commonly seen in the European auctions. Most American collectors are ordinary working folk, not the almost mythical super-rich like the new oil millionaires of the America of the twenties. Their counterparts now live in the oil-rich Middle East States. Not long ago, one of them who had been given the nickname of "the Sheik" was paying far more than any American collector was willing to part with for the best stuff.

Perhaps some of the cultists have just become addicted to their lifestyle and what started out as a misguided goal has become an obsession that can no longer even see itself for what it is. The public is becoming less interested in archaeology outside of the entertainment industry and that finds more interest with such absurd ideas about alien intervention being responsible for ancient monuments. The true amateur and researcher is not thinking of dogma, but of ways to "delight their senses and exercise their minds", but political motives are better aided by a public who is disgruntled and who lacks the ability to think.

This was the last episode of this series, tomorrow's topic will be a surprise ― at least for me.

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