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TQE Newsletter - Issue #4

TQE Newsletter - Issue #4
For the October and November issue, Mazyar and Michael turn over the TQE newsletter to Chris Darrouzet.
Chris: Thank you, Mazyar and Michael. As an anthropologist, my interest in QAnon stems from matters I took up in my dissertation project in lowland Papua New Guinea several decades ago, a project featuring its share of social movements and sometimes ‘cults’ characteristic of the colonial period there. QAnon exhibits a similar preoccupation with interpreting signs, with readings and writings.

Do Your Research!
– By CPD
A text is not a text unless it hides from its first comer, from the first glance, the laws of its composition and the rules of the game.
One should note…what writing will be accused of—repeating without knowing—…One thus begins by repeating without knowing—the definition of writing, which is to repeat without knowing. This kinship of writing and myth, both of them distinguished from logos and dialectics, will only become more precise as the text concludes.” — Jacques Derrida, “Plato’s Pharmacy” Dissemination (1981)
Neither of these quotes tell us up front all that much about what we are after in this post. Which is a good thing, if we apply to our effort here,recursively, Derrida’s first principle of what makes a text a text. Here? This first of a few TQE4 posts pondering various senses to be made of the QAnon phenomenon from critical theory perspectives.
What is QAnon? Is it that bizarre conspiracy theory featuring a person who claims to be an insider in the US’s ‘deep state’ Intelligence community, someone claiming ‘Q’, (i.e., ‘Top Secret’) clearance…who claims authorship for dribbling—oh, we mean to say ‘dropping’— by now, a long series of cryptic messages in online posts about a supremely Evil, international cabal of famous, infinitely rich persons…Persons whose Evilness is rooted in their being pedophiles and sex-traffickers? Left free to operate for decades behind their veil of secrecy which they command … Who also, FYI & BTW, control most of the world politically-economically … which means also that Jewish merchants of Anti-Christ Evil occupy leadership positions high up in the cabal’s secret hierarchy, and who may be its originators? Just be clear: Is not QAnon also that organ of alert informing us that this entire travesty of the Good will soon to be exposed, its efforts thwarted, it members arrested, tried and punished by forces of Good, forces already on the case, working behind the scenes…forces led by none other than our current, proud, ‘law and order’, Crusader-Caliber POTUS, Donald Trump…? Yes: that one.
QAnon: ‘how bizarre, how bizarre”, goes the refrain of the New Zealand band, OMC’s, chart-topping song of 1996 [BTW: OMC stands for Otara Millionaires Club]. The song’s verses describe a close call with a police stop which may have outed some wigged-out, millionaire riders in a 1969 Chevy; no doubt returning from a sex trafficking orgy in one of Auckland’s poorest suburban neighborhoods, Otara. Clearly, police were totally unsuspecting of this cult’s activities back in the day. But see what you can unearth if you do your own research! You too can contribute to the cause of outing these monsters and preparing for what follows, if you’ve the stomach for it.
Readers unfamiliar with some of these and other details of this bizarre phenomenon will find coverage of them, here, in a long New York Times review. And in a slant featuring the phenom’s ties between evangelical Christians and the GOP.
On this, the social-political front, having raised it, it is clear that although QAnon has grown up ostensibly around matters which should be of gravest fantasy concern to everyone, it plays political favorites: a recent poll indicates that while as many as 56% of self-identifying Republicans say that much or at least some of the tenets of the conspiracy are true, only 4% of Democrats polled said so. Clearly, whoever is behind QAnon’s current phase are closely aligned with the Trumpian-GOP mindset. The message is out. People are responding to the call, for the few, the brave, the QAnon brain&brawn trust. We are one election away from seating the first, openly QAnon person in the US House of Representatives. Whether QAnon’s origin story implicates direct Trumpian or aligned forces from the outset is unknown. It’s origins remains shrouded in mystery; it’s originator, still hiding from first comers “the laws of Q-drop composition” and “the rules of the QAnon game”. Actually: still hiding second comers, third, fourth and later comers, running out into the hundreds of times and tens of thousands of eager adherents enjoying the quest of cracking the code. QAnon adherents reading and writing in response to Q’s posts—mostly writing for there is not all that much to read.
Displaying their findings which they proudly glean from their very own research. Most of it however a case of what Socrates complained about writing: its ‘repeating without knowing’, repeating what they have read, or else just making up new stuff out of thinnest air, having figured out how to crack the Master’s code.
For more encyclopedic coverage of the QAnon, Wikipedia (but of course) manages a long, detailed article on the topic. It includes a listing and brief summary of many Incidents related to the movement or cult, (If that’s what it really is, a ‘social movement’ or ‘cult’; or possibly even a new religion of the kind which tend to grow from such cults). Among incidents outlined: that infamous one from early-on “pizzagate”. And, a more recent one: a bizarre video post of an oath-taking ceremony featuring the just pardoned, convicted felon of a retired US Army General-become Trump’s National Security Director, ///—you mean Steve Bannon? No, Oh, Paul Manafort? No. Roger Stone? /// No: Michael Flynn; who, with family and friends, recite the movement’s favorite identity-marker slogan: WWG1WGA.
We are not going to spell out here what this insignia means or post the link to said wikipedia entry. Nor are we going to load up the small amount of SpaceTime we allot ourselves our posts with QAnon matters, matters that most readers of TQE4 will have ferreted out or researched already. If you have stayed away form this topic until now, we advise you to do this basic research on your own time. This is an advanced seminar. There are prerequi-sites scattered across the Internet. To repeat for the third time that admonition which true QAnon adepts and evangelists say is key to the whole enterprise: Do Your Research, yourself. If you must have a suggestion with where to start that should motivate you properly, thoroughly, then try this YouTube video (trigger alert: be prepared to have our hair stand on your head).
* * * (injury time out) * *
As we readers can see for ourselves, there are many facets comprising this bizarre cult of a social movement. So, why start with such a strange duo of quotes from the late post-modernist, Jacques Derrida? What on earth might his very own, cryptic passages have to do with this QAnon business?
Breaking news: “On August 19, 2020, Trump was asked about QAnon during a press conference; he replied: “I don’t know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much. Which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement.” Though QAnon has been described as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI, Trump described QAnon adherents as “people who love our country”. When a reporter asked Trump if he could support a theory that says Trump “is secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” he responded: “Well, I haven’t heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?”
A bad thing or a good thing?’ Why, isn’t that’s the very same dichotomy at the center of the discussion which Plato gives a thorough accounting of in the Phaedrus, the first of the many, famous Platonic-Socratic dialogs, penned (or rather quilled) not quite at the dawn of Western philosophy but at its sunrise? ‘Yes’. And is that dialog also the one in which the question posed is that of the invention of writing: ‘a good thing or a bad thing’? “Yes.” And is that dialog not also the one which Jacques Derrida deconstructs in Plato’s Pharmacy? Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no. “Yes, but … still what does that have to do with QAnon?” The judge orders the court stenographer to strike from the record all of the witnesses’ response after the initial ‘yes’. This is an interrogation not a dialog.
As we were saying, neither quote tells us all that much. Especially the first one, which, frankly, for those who do not like Derrida’s way with words or concepts, they might be tempted to say that it reads a lot like one of Q’s cryptic missives, or “Q-drops”, as Q’s adepts and adherents call these [sic] online posts from Q. Posts which keep turning up bearing Q’s security protected identity, vouching (ironically, wouldn’t you say) for their being from the One True Q: identity-vouched Q-Tips from this Anonymous Author. But such a tag placed on Derrida’s cryptic opening lines is a decidedly wrongheaded and unfair comparison. Because among so many other things, Derrida does not leave these cryptic words hanging out to dry on their own like a lonely piece of laundry on a clothesline, leaving it for the rest of us to discern a pattern in the weave. Unlike Q, who makes no attempts to make good on the meaning of his cryptic droppings, leaving that work for adepts and several hundred thousand adherents (perhaps millions by now) to do themselves, reading and writing (mostly writing) in Q-centric social-media sites: Derrida begins the work of reading&writing, bringing us along into the mystery. For Q-types, it’s mostly a matter of Repeating, as we noted above; repeating what they do not know but have only read or heard. Or to paraphrase their beloved POTUS, “I haven’t read that but many people say…” Credit where credit is due: the phenomenon has grown like a wildfire form a tiniest spark of a single drop posted on chan4/pol, in October 28, 1918… to about 5000 such by late 2020. And Q’s followers now number perhaps in the million. True, as of late there is evidence of attrition in the ranks: called dissillusionment; like deconstruction, it can and does set in. — Derrida, otoh: he follows his opening, cryptic lines with but a few more paragraphs only of, well, granted, nearly equally cryptic texts… but ones which nonetheless do start to show a definite pattern of meaning; do begin to form an image, a sense of things with which to work. Just two cryptic pages of a frontespiece before the start of the text proper (not counting the Outwork.) Then he launches into his reading&writing of the Phaedrus in “Plato’s Pharmacy.” Across its many pages we find Derrida at work and play, serving up line after line of careful-to-the-‘t’ expositions, explanations and interpretations. We see clearly what Derrida is after…
And what, exactly, is it that Derrida is after in Plato’s Pharmacy; And, more pertinently: what, if anything, does all that about Plato’s Pharmacy concerning reading&writing, speech, myths featuring Thoth, the god of writing, pharmakons, poisons and remedies… have to do with QAnon?
Alas, we have only started out and already we are running low of SpaceTime (ST) to write much more in this first post on QAnon. Measuring and pacing ourselves with word counts (lest we may loose online readers prematurely. Readers who, like the rest of us, have grown used to zipping through one brief text after another. Which is all it takes, most of the time. Does it not? —
Short of SpaceTime for what? To make our way slowly, comfortably, but also carefully along our way: the way that Derrida would have us take alongside of him, stepping with us through an account of an immeasurably rich forest and riverbank of Ideas. A stroll upon grounds strewn with a rich battery of Ideas and their offspring; which we come to relish not regardless of the fact of their being ultimately incommensurate (untranslatable) with one another but in celebration of such primordial, philosophically incommensurate Ideas. We willingly go along with him. Reading Derrida reading&writing Plato: textual enhancements of mere traces of Ideas brought into sharper relieve in his texts. Ideas which were once alive and well, nesting and growing up into manhood in Socrates and Plato’s ownmost, crisscrossing generations: a signature of radical contemporaneity. Then returning, faintly, intermittently in ghostly forms generation after generation…for some 25 Centuries. … And Now: we make our way alongside of Derrida, arriving at a fabulous mise en scene, one overgrown, forested, boarded up. Reminding us of one of those quaint, fantastic, photo-shopped, futuristic pictures of contemporary modern or post-modern buildings overgrown with vegetation. Their strange structural countenance hinting at some intervening forces, perhaps an apocalyptic event, or just our abandoning them due to a pandemic or a migration. We haven’t the SpaceTime here for such a thorough reading&writing on these matters of QAnon, especially if we remain intent on starting out buried deep in a Platonic Past, rummaging around on the grounds of Walter Benjamin-styed ruins, on subject matters steeped in antiquities. We have too much ground to cover or rather pass-through to get to where we are going today in a meager SpaceTime that a mere lifetime affords us. (Passagenwerk. Do your research! Wikipedia has our back.) Perforce, we find ourselves powering along the internet, as if along one of its analogues residing in the older-fashioned, abject physical world: Interstate highways, not ‘the backroads’ of our minds. We mean to say: how else are we to get all of our homework and research done? So many sites to see. So many millions of posts to read or write; one huge “clamor of being” escaping the multitudes of which we are a part.
— OTOH, if you were to look closely at what we’ve already written, if you read between the lines, follow the clues, follow up on the citations, become one among the first comers from whom we are hiding our text in plain site, then, you would know that we have already said all that needs to be said. (Ha!, another of Derrida’s favorite jokes.) Is Q just playing with us? Or, let’s be real: is the Original Q still even in the picture? Or, with his initializing work done, has he sold off or even had stolen his now famous brand and wishes he could have it back? It wouldn’t be the first time the.fakery.king has applied for success, celebrity and money by slapping his name as a brand on other people’s work. Still, enough SpaceTime remains for us to indicate where we are going with some of this. … No? No. Having squandered so many words on a retro-romantic, mimetic, parodic style of an approach to accounting for our themes, we now will have change tactics: become much more telegraphic or blunt about it. Which is probably good for everyone, especially if we don’t mind spoilers.
* * a whistle is heard blowing off stage * * *
Oops: the center referee has blown their whistle, a signal actually effectively ending the first half of the game—it’s very, shrill sound a premier exemplar of an illocutionary act. We’ll ‘smell you later’, back next time for the second half of this first match on the topic of QAnon. Yes, we’ll probably need to adjust our method of play for the second half. These QAnon bastards are ONE tough cookie: WWG1WGA!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mazyar Lotfalian and Michael Scroggins

Notes and missives on technology and social life

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