March 8, 2011


me+ME: King James + problems around ME and Western civilization


“We may live in a world with more knowledge, but it is populated by people with less knowledge”.
  -- Gordon Campbell


King James Bible 400 years old
2. P
roblems around ME and Western civilization

1. King James Bible 400 years old

I was born an atheist, with atheist parents, and also was bred an atheist, and still am an atheist, indeed quite a philosophical one, now in my 61st year, but that doesn't mean I am a philistine - Biblical term - about religion.

As it happens, this year it is the 400th anniversary of the King James "Authorized Version" of the Bible in English, and the following is an interesting article, from which also comes my opening quotation in the Sunday Times:

The article is by one Arnold Hunt, whom I do not know, but who reviews five books concerned with either the King James Bible or the Bible in English, while the article is interesting and well done, and also Mr Hunt has the interesting and enviable job of "Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library".

Here are his last two paragraphs:

Several of the authors reviewed here strike an elegiac note as they wonder uneasily whether, after 400 years, the KJB is finally reaching the end of its long life. Norton remarks that “one must wonder whether the KJB has a future”, and sees it as some ageing champion of the ring, “the authentic, elderly, increasingly disregarded but still revered monarch among Bibles”, surrounded by a host of younger pretenders. In an essay on “The dethroning of the King James Bible in the United States”, Paul Gutjahr goes further and declares bluntly that the KJB is “dying” in America, replaced by an ever-increasing number of “niche Bibles” such as The Couples Bible, One Year New Testament for Busy Moms, Extreme Teen Study Bible, and (Gutjahr’s particular abomination) The HCSB Light Speed Bible, which promises its readers that they can expect to read every word of the Bible in about 24 hours, “or a little longer”.

Seventy-five years ago, in his essay “Religion and Literature”, T. S. Eliot was predicting the imminent demise of the KJB, complaining peevishly that “those who talk about the Bible as a monument of English prose are merely admiring it as a monument over the grave of Christianity”. But as Gutjahr’s essay illustrates, when admirers of the KJB say that it is dying, what they actually mean is that it has lost its monopoly. It is not clear that this is such a bad thing, or even such a new thing. In any case, for the past hundred years the KJB has spoken with a plurality of voices, published in a variety of different editions targeted at different markets. The Gideon Bible in your hotel bedroom is a King James Bible. Gordon Campbell points out that Oxford University Press sells over 250,000 copies of the KJB every year, and describes it as “the most widely owned and used translation in the United States”. Not least of the paradoxes of the KJB is that it appears to have lost its cultural authority just when it sells more copies than ever.

Here is my own case for it and indeed also for its cousin, the Dutch so-called Statenbijbel of 1637, which was the translation of the Bible into Dutch, ordered by the Dutch government:

In either case, both the English and the Dutch, these are the best translations I have read, and they are so not because they are the most accurate - see Hunt's article on the translations of "slave" and "woman" in the KJB: usually "servant" and "wife" - but simply because they are the best English resp. the best Dutch: They form the best read, if indeed you want to - or have to - read the Bible.

This I am not going to argue here and now, if only because so very many have agreed with me on this over the centuries, and because both translations had a huge influence on the languages they were translated in, though I have two small relevant glosses:

As Hunt explains about the King James Bible, and as I know about the Statenbijbel, the texts available these days as such are not quite as they were originally, and indeed the Dutch of the Statenbijbel of 1637 is hard to follow for modern Dutchmen. This last fact is so because the Dutch - unlike the English, French and Germans, for example, where it still is possible to read prose and poetry of centuries ago as a matter of course, in one's mother language - still "review the Dutch language" every 10 years or so, it seems mainly as a service to the publishers of Dutch schoolbooks, who thereby are guaranteed a great turnover in very expensive school books every time the spelling of Dutch gets renewed, usually in some crazy way a pedantic grammarian thought up for the purpose of renewing the spelling rather than for helping Dutch make easy, and indeed perhaps also for the purpose of making all that was written in Dutch in the past, quite unreadable for those living in the present: These days, even 19th Century Dutch gets "transliterated" for consumption in grammar schools and such, for else it is deemed to be "too difficult" or "unreadable". "O tempora, o mores!"

Hunt also discusses the influence of the King James translation on the English language, mostly following a book of Crystal on the subject, that seems to have left out the facts that for centuries the Bible was the only book most people possessed if they possessed a book at all, while for centuries virtually all men, women and children heard the language of the Bible, and in particular of the versions I mentioned, from the pulpit every Sunday and on every Christian feastday.

Anyway... whether it is for the language, for the religion or for the literature, these classical translations struck me as by far the best I saw, and I did see quite a few more, especially in Dutch, that generally struck me as insipid and flat compared to the often great prose in the translations I mentioned.

2. Problems around ME

I discussed some problems around ME repeatedly before, and did so the last time here:

There I mentioned two problems and treated them briefly:

A. Anonymous forums for patients with ME
B. Pseudoscientists as opponents

I refer you to the last link in case you are interested, and mention here a third important problem, that also relates to my opening quote

C. The postmodern virtual disappearance of intellectuals and scholars

To treat that subject briefly, I first refer to my

where I discussed - among other things - the human predicament, which is the average stupidity, and the horrors this has brought in human history, for most wars are fought by willing executioners moved by their leaders through propaganda they would have seen through if they had been more intelligent than they were. And thence, for the most part

"Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."  

Now to the postmodern virtual disappearance of - real - intellectuals and scholars (*):

It is virtual, because the type - intellectual, scholar, i.e. in levelled and levelling pomo English: geeks, nerds - has not yet died out, and probably will not unless one lives in a society such as Hitler's Germany or Mao's China where this type is actively persecuted, and people were killed for merely seeming intellectual or even for wearing glasses.

Indeed, probably in terms of percentages the same percentage - say: 1 in 100, or 1 in 50 - gets born and may eventually grow up and get a university degree in the 21st Century in the US, England or Holland as a 50 years ago or more.

The major difference is that while this group of the intellectually talented formed the great majority in Western universities until the 1960ies or 1970ies, since then this group constitues a relatively small minority, since for each one with their abilities there are 20 with far lesser abilities, who nevertheless also got entry to a university, that was levelled dramatically since the late 1960ies for just this purpose, and in the name of "democracy".

Consequently, the persons who are these days and since 15 to 25 years typically the so called "intellectuals", "scholars" and also "academics" are for the greatest part (90% at least) not at all of the capacity and indeed of the interests and the mental type and mindset of those who were the intellectuals, scholars and academics in the foregoing centuries.

To be sure, this is less so in those studies that still require intelligence or the will to work - mathematics, physics, Chinese, say - for these will mostly appeal to the higher gifted anyway, and not to others, but it is quite striking in most other studies, and indeed a whole host of new ACADEMIC socalled "studies" - "European Studies", "Pop Music", "Freedom Theology", "Sports Studies", "Business Studies", "Media Studies" - have been created which assures that the average degreed "academically" "educated" "intellectual" these decades in the West, and indeed the coming decades too, consists of a majority of dumboes, twits, and tenth-raters that never could have finished any university course 40 and more years ago at any decent university.

But they are the democratic solid majority in the postmodern highest and best educated, and set the standards, terminology and outlook everywhere, according to such minds and mentalities as they have, usually in all honesty, for they just don't know any better or anything different, and anyway are for the most part not intellectually equipped to know better.

This is another major problem for persons with ME: Most modern academics no longer are intelligent or well educated or indeed interested in science, education or civilization, because the great majority of those with university degrees got their degrees in "European Studies", "Pop Music", "Freedom Theology", "Sports Studies", "Business Studies", "Media Studies", and indeed not because they were or are interested in any real science, but because they wanted a degree to make money and acquire status, and they all could easily get into a university, loans or grants and all, because nearly all entrance requirements had been ditched in the 1970ies, for reason of being deemed to be "elitarian", "undemocratic" or "fascist".

This also is a major problem for Western civilization: In the name of democracy, the universities, grammar schools and most demanding types of education were dumbed down, were levelled, and were made fit for the IQs between 100 and 115 to get "an academic degree" in - after which these folks, of that average intelligence, automatically have gotten "the best education", nominally, that is, as made available these last decades, apart from a few places where there still are demanding entrance examinations, and now function as "the elites" of their societies, with possibly with a Ph.D. "in Freedom Theology with a minor in Sports's Studies", and a professorate in Mandela Studies or Gay Studies or some other heavily politicized quasi-moral "study" that requires no intellectual talent whatsoever beyond Political Correctness, to get a university degree in, and count as "academically educated".

Interestingly, the vast majority of the postmodern "intellectuals" and "academics" is no longer able to do elementary mathematics or even to spell their native language well, but then the same folks see no problem whatsoever in having some degree in what is effectively mostly academic bullshit, since their degrees in bogosity qualified them for wellpaying jobs, which is what they wanted to go to university for, and those same folks also actively therefore favour the idea that at least 50% of the population is declared fit for an academic education - which implies the universities have had to fit their courses to enable these to get diplomas, which is just what happened.

Also, the vast majority of these postmodern academically "educated" "elites of society" consider themselves proud anti-elitarians, who frown very seriously and very morally on anyone who insists that real intelligence is fairly rare, and on the idea that e.g. real medical doctors ought to have an intelligence that is higher than that of their average patient if they are to be of any serious use: "An undemocratic elitarian notion", until one falls ill with a serious disease, that is.

Interestingly, again, if not enthusing, is that virtually all of these postmodern academically educated sociologists, psychologists, masters of business administrations, doctors in journalism, and what not, are very strongly in favour of elitism... as soon as the subject is sports: Then suddenly only the very best are good enough for the best p(l)aying teams - and indeed a professional soccer-player of average renown gets the 10, 100 or 1000-fold what a professor of mathematics or Greek receives these days, and much more public credit in the media as well, as a Real Sports Pro.

So... apart from miracles, rare individuals or strange events, I see little rational hope for an intelligent public discussion of anything in the West, including ME, education, the role of social elites, or the importance of real intellectuals, and the needs for real science and real universities in a prospering and civilized Western society, in the last and the coming decades, and indeed I saw nor heard any intelligent public debate these last decades, nor did I see a public with the required education for it - and therefore I do see every reason to expect a massive decline of Western civilization, and that essentially because my generation and the one before it decided to destroy the universities as places where the brightest could receive the best education from the most intelligent in the interest of all, which they did "in the name of democracy", mostly to further their own careers and financial interests, and from envy, blindness or political fanaticism: See my Whores of Reason.

For more, see my Spiegeloog-columns of the late 1980-ies, when I was one of the very few who was intelligent, courageous and non-egoistic enough to care and protest - and was removed from the academic study of philosophy for that very reason: Too honest and too intelligent to be allowed in the University of Amsterdam by my contemporaries, who decried me as "a fascist" because I defended rational science and good education.

“We may live in a world with more knowledge, but it is populated by people with less knowledge”.


(*) This is not to say the terms - "intellectual", "scholar" - disappeared, and indeed part of postmodernism is a PC English Newspeak (and similar for other languages) in which key terms have become redefined: See the appendix on Politics and the English language in Orwell's 1984, for this is what all this "appropriate", "politically correct" language amounts to: A totalitarian attempt to try to force other people to think in the terms one wants them to think in.

P.S. Corrections have to be made later, if any.

Incidentally... there is a thread on Phoenix-Rising "What happened in the early eighties?" that triggered the rise of the last topic above today, but it is not so much about the decline of education as the increase of reported cases of ME/CFS at the time, and indeed also about increases in many other things, from food additives to inoculations, and much else.

What also happened, then and since the early seventies, was a radical decline in educational standards all through the West, and in all levels and kinds of education, triggered by a combination of demographic reasons, namely the babyboom after WW II, and ideological reasons, namely the "democratization" of universities.

Those who were academically educated between 1940 and 1970, and those receiving an university education between 1970 and 1990, destroyed the universities, levelled all of education, and laid the foundation for the consequences for Western civilization that are  bound to be entailed and indeed are unrolling now in the 21st Century, e.g. in the form of populism and xenophobia, also among nominally "highly educated" folks.

And as nearly always, the parasites, frauds and pseudos profited, while those coming after them or depending on them have to bear the consequences.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything uponinsufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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