It Was Mother

It Was Education

It Was Education
Wayras Olivier
APRIL 2017

EDUCATION IS GENERALLY ASSUMED to be that which makes the climb possible. Wool over the eyes, for example is what keeps, at least in theory, the have nots from pulling at the haves on a pyramid. At the bottom, the working poor pull on the working class, the lower middle class on the upper middle class and yes, even the bad spies on the good spies, who, at the very top, shear. Notice how, ‘the all-seeing eye,' a.k.a. the good spy, (regardless of which ‘side' they work for) feels vulnerable at the apex, upon realizing, in spite of seeing it all: they don't know what they don't know. This is something altogether different from the bad spy, who knows what they don't know, an acknowledgement of ignorance which can still cause a bad spy to be careless in their potential certainty; while the former, a slight contrivance (as being unaware of being unaware of what needs to be known to be competent is a near impossibility), is nevertheless what makes a good spy, before planting their flag, much more certain about their potential carelessness. It reminds them of their mortality. That's what spy movies have to teach us: always be comfortable with your vulnerability. It makes you smarter. Something good spies get tested for regularly, before jumping into bed with their mark.

Halfway through The Good Shepherd, Matt Damon's character is given such a test by a German spy who asks him if he has ever read Ovid's Metamorphoses in its original Latin. The scene is subtle, almost too subtle, so its waving message can go unnoticed. The testee chooses, out of fifteen books—a languishing length by any standard—all written in hexameter verse, a mere two lines that impresses the wind out of the tester. In English he flaps:

"I grabbed a pile of dust and, holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust. I forgot to ask that they be years of youth."

What's tragic—perpetual endurance is itself a universally relatable and innocent craving—about that request? He's unconsciously protecting himself from something he's consciously aware of, by being ‘forgetful.' The skeleton hiding in his request is what's tragic; it pines for a specific kind of existential Groundhog Day. Different in kind from the bone most of us have to pick by making the more humane request to take another whack at something we failed to get ‘right' the first time around—reexamining the details of an incident which memory alone failed to flesh out—or the chance to successfully apply our education: if only I could go back knowing what I know now. His skeleton is making the rather subhuman request for ignorance, which when granted in perpetuity, creates the ‘wrong' life: one of regressive incipience without any challenges.

In youth, one never has to unlearn what one has learned. Ever. A proper education would have removed, from ‘Ovid's' requestee, the desire to cheat death by having his greener years replenished and instead installed the insight to ask for more wisdom to help him get over his hill.

You may wonder why Damon's character, with such a wide and deep Yale education, fell for the über narrow and incomprehensible passage of lying down naked inside a coffin while disclosing personal secrets about himself to his ‘brothers?' Is that part of the climb too?

Consider: Skull and Bones initiates only fifteen members a year. So by 1966—in other words the year John Kerry graduated from Yale—S&B had initiated approximately only 2,245 members into ‘The Order.' Separated by only one ceremony—in still other words, the year George W. Bush was inducted—this gives you the staggering odds that, out of a population of 200 million people (the population of the USA at the time), two ‘Bonesmen' would emerge out of a pool of 45 men to ‘synthetically oppose' one another as Democratic and Republican primaries in the early 2000s. (The idea of ‘synthetic opposition' which has its roots in The Hegelian Dialectic, is described repeatedly by Antony Sutton in his book America's Secret Establishment. He, of course, couldn't cite the above example (his book was released in 1983) but he certainly was prescient on how the dialectic is used by Skull and Bones to guarantee a victory, regardless of which ‘side' wins.)

The Hegelian Dialectic sounds pretentiously academic, and Sutton does give some intricate examples, but it is terribly simple to understand. A person or group waits for a reaction to a problem they themselves created before implementing its solution. Thesis and antithesis are, therefore, engineered in advance so a prearranged and predetermined synthesis can occur. You yourself have already, I guarantee, seen this transpire at…let's say your work. Company managers, sensing their authority and influence are in decline, engineer a small crisis that naturally creates conflicts between their subordinates. Employees, lacking the executive power to resolve the conflict, revert to being dependent on their managers for clarity and security—and they just happen to have the right solution.

So, yes, joining Skull and Bones is, if you consider America to be one giant company, part of the climb.

Because they are, above all else, loyal only to their small elect group—the reason Angelina Jolie's character (Damon's wife) under her breath mutters, on more than one occasion, "Bonesman first, God second."

Inside the 1977 September issue of Esquire, if you happen to come across it (you can't miss it: a clothed trust-fund baby is stretched inside a coffin on the front cover, ventriloquizing with a smile ‘I've been made' as he holds a cigarette in one hand and a human skull in the other) is where you'll find Richard Rosenbaum's article The Last Secrets of Skull & Bones. The journo, while a student at Yale in the sixties, made an attempt to penetrate the fraternity after hearing on "tap night," (the night fifteen students are chosen by the cabal to become ‘Bonesmen'), the disorderly moans and shrieks echoing from The Order's campus citadel during membership initiation. The citadel is referred colloquially as ‘the tomb,' and what is perhaps even more bizarre is a detail that Rosenbaum never followed up on: the likelihood that the squawks and squeals came from the senior Bonesman officiating the ritual, rather than the students being hazed. (Screams and moans, by the way, was standard stuff during the sixties at Yale; the Milgram experiment also took place there, which tested subject's obedience to authority.)

Rosenbaum managed to get two provincial lines from one Bonesman (who wished to remain anonymous) after agreeing, reluctantly, to violate his sacrosanct collegiate oath, but not before voicing his real concern:

"What bank," the Bonesman asked Rosenbaum, "do you have your checking account at?" Rosenbaum tells him.

"There are three Bonesman on the board. You'll never have a line of credit again." He concludes, "They'll tap your phone."

In neighboring lines, we read, "Each member of Bones goes through an intense two-part confessional in the Bones Crypt."

"One night he tells his life story, giving what is meant to be a painfully forthright autobiography that exposes his traumas, shames and dreams."

"The following session is devoted exclusively to sexual histories."

That's it? The article was called The Last Secrets of Skull & Bones. The front cover said "Exposing Skull and Bones." Certainly not a recent discovery, let alone a secret, that human solidarity is formed when traumas, dreams, shames, and sexual histories are being shared. (That highly successful HBO show in the late nineties was fashioned on that very premise, and they too, at parties—like Bonesman on Deer Island, minus the cosmos—wore skirts and make-up.)

Rosenbaum is left, after getting those two dull lines mentioned earlier, with four thousand words to probe the mystery behind the mystery of Skull & Bone's ‘mystery,' which goes absolutely nowhere; the founder, William Huntington Russell, is correctly cited to the complete exclusion of the group's other American, and arguably more politically influential founder Alphonso Taft. And while the "Totenkopf" (the Skull and Bones insignia) is of German origin, nothing more than conjecture follows about why they dress up, why they make inscrutable noises, or why S&B hazing should, other than it's a club that is next to impossible to join, be so deserving of our attention. It's as if holding up a mirror to Pandora's Box without ever opening it qualifies as true reflection.

For instance, the Pentagram—the supposed centerpiece of S&B's initiation ritual—is always assumed to be an offshoot of the illuminati, out of the swathes of other less charismatic (and less conspiratorial) alternatives: Eleusinian or Mithraic. (Ask any respectable astronomer about Venus's elliptical orbit and she'll tell you, with apodictic certainty, that it trails a pentagram.) In other words, if you go out looking for it, the contours of Pythagoras's construction—whether you bow down to Satan or not—can be seen and confirmed just about anywhere.

Rosenbaum makes a point that a percentage of Skull & Bones graduates hold prominent positions of authority in the US government—yes, and?—says nothing more than that. (Rosenbaum, unaware of the Bush & Kerry example, doesn't know, unfortunately, what he doesn't know to make his point.) One could also just as easily conclude that positions in high office are also held by, to name just a few, graduates of Dartmouth's Sphinx Club and Harvard's The Porcellian. The Rosenbaum piece reads more like a Hardy Boys mystery: ‘Spooky noises at Yale…' without the payoff. Although he is painfully unaware of it, he succeeds, however, at being an accidental Marxist revisionist (Groucho not Karl) causing the reader to think: "I would never want to be a part of club that wouldn't have me as a member."

But Yale did have, around the time Rosenbaum was a student, spooky noises other than those emanating from the tomb to consider. Yet he never included this detail in his article, not even as a parenthetical digression or marginal afterthought. Either because he was not aware of it at the time, or he thought it irrelevant. The first most likely being the case, as he had already inferred that an abuse of power went with the noises and it is much too obvious to not include The Milgram experiment mentioned earlier, wherein psychologist Stanley Milgram thought it wise, after one day asking himself, "Were the Nazis inherently evil, or where they just obeying orders?" to put his thought experiment to the test. He placed subjects (we will call them torturers), who were thereupon ordered by the social scientists running the tests to give defenseless "victims"—partitioned from view—electrical shocks. The victims hired to suffer the shocks were, to begin with, never hooked up to the electric cathode, (something the torturers were unaware of), but were instructed, anytime the torturer flicked ‘the switch' to scream on cue: "please don't,"…"I've had enough,"…"I can't take it anymore."

What did Milgram discover? Indeed, some of the torturers minutes into the experiment, stormed out in protest, while a great majority (upon the scientist's exigent insistence) stayed to conclude the experiment. You already know, don't you, the next detail? Some torturers, albeit a minute fraction, while not being overt about it, found that the shrieking sounds from those being immolated was so sick and strained that they themselves, being the progenitors of that pain, couldn't help but cough a few laughs before flicking the switch. No candles, no pentagrams, no expensive bathrobes, and no secret handshakes; this experiment, when you think about it, is truly more evil and worthy of investigative commentary. Perhaps why, on grounds of conscience, the man responsible for Genesis—a man from Surrey, England (I'm being totally serious)—couldn't wait around for The Whiffenpoofs to groan and wrote a song himself about Milgram on his 1986 album So called "We Do What We're Told."

Which brings us from the premise, whether we believe in it or not—that giving and taking orders is, and always has been, the purpose of education—to the British American economist, Antony Sutton. Who when, one morning in the late seventies, he received the entire Skull & Bones membership list from an anonymous source, and after completing his research into the Order, claimed the aforementioned premise (in the affirmative), culminating in his 1983 book (the one I mentioned earlier) America's Secret Establishment.

Bonesmen Daniel Coit Gilman (first president of John Hopkins University), Andrew Dickson White (Co–Founder of Cornell University), and Timothy Dwight V (President of Yale), had all brought back, after travelling to Leipzig and other areas in Germany, Wilhelm Wundt's research on behavior and volition (the precursor to B.F. Skinner's operative conditioning on rats and pigeons). They applied their findings to education, known today as The Leipzig Connection. Around the same time, although indirectly related, American educational ‘reformer' Horace Mann was also researching the Prussian model of education for America. (Neither of them had anything to do with the "The Frankfurt School" penetrating America with cultural Marxism, although due to its association with Germany, it can be confused as the same movement.) Yet both models are, in essence, designed to indoctrinate the mind into subordination to the state; to be more ‘uniformed' before entering a work force, rather than the more Socratic or Neoplatonic model of using the disciplines of the Trivium and Quadrivium, to draw out potentials from an individual, if for no other reason than to properly equip their mind with the capacity to respond, when the time comes—which it will—intelligently to change.

Sutton acknowledges segments of American society other than education that Skull & Bones operate in, but the main six, when graphed:

It Was Education

Law, banking, business & commerce, churches, politics— education, is for obvious reasons, the jewel in the crown. Psycholinguistics can teach deaf children how to read, using what is known in its most base form as the ‘look-say method.' Memorization and the mimicry of sounds is a form of cued speech used in favour of learning each individual letter of a word. Pioneered by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a Yale graduate, Sutton makes a rather clumsy association between Gallaudet and Skull & Bones, when The Mother's Primer (a book written by Gallaudet on how to teach deaf children to read) began to be taught for a brief time in public schools to non-deaf children—on the basis that his son, Edson Fessenden Gallaudet was S&B.

Regardless of how prominent the S&B connection was, such a tool used on non-deaf children would have, by comprising their ability to correctly master literacy, significantly dumbed them down. A detail scribe Eric Roth no doubt would have gathered during his research for The Good Shepherd when he imagined the character of Laura (Tammy Blanchard), the deaf woman Damon's character gets involved with after meeting her in a library.

As for the diagram, each profession is represented: law, banking, education etc… and has members stationed in various positions of authority. In theory, Edward Wilson, (Damon's character) would operate in the second layer (2.) known as The Select Circle, while other S&B members, such as athletes, engineers, or business owners would remain in the Regular Circle (3.). The Inner Circle (1.) of The Order is, however, a level that would remain inaccessible even to Edward. A layer reserved for the insiders of the insiders. A concept Sutton refers to as "the rings within the rings within the rings." Who manage rather than solve conflict by causing it to move in the controlled direction of their choice. These are the ones who, when something needs to occur, give the order to make it happen. A layer of The Order which the Alex Joneses of this world would have you believe commands even the president of the United States.

The film I have been considering is really just one scene. In disagreement with the briefing he receives from his boss, Bill Sullivan (Robert De Niro), Damon's character can't see how the ostensible restructuring of the OSS to include civilian oversight once it becomes the CIA will be successful. De Niro's character states simply:

"I'm concerned that too much power will wind up in the hands of too few. It's always in somebody's best interest to promote enemies, real or imagined."

Only one's own read of a situation can make one deft to the ghastly noises from the slaughter, when an authority figure, upon realizing no wolves can be seen, immediately begins to educate one on the logical and normal and accepted reasons why the shepherd—in spite of having to eat too—can't be seen either.