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Revel's 'Flight From Truth' More Visionary Than Orwell

Revel's 'Flight From Truth' More Visionary Than Orwell
(Tom Messner)

By Friday, 01 June 2018 02:21 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Revel, not Orwell, is the Oracle of our Age. Call it the Disinformation Age.

Jean-Francois Revel published the English Translation of “The Flight From Truth, The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information” in 1991 and wrote of the advent of Fake News.

Orwell imagined well the deceits of authority and the culture, but could not imagine the innumerable media channels that would feed it. The number of TV stations and webvision and all the rest that assault and soothe depending on your point of view.

Revel had the advantage of writing just on the edge of the internet and in the full midst of still-thriving print and TV/radio, public and privately funded.

I was about to throw it out yesterday or put it in a pile of books for a charity that collects books for hospital patients and literate prisoners so many of whom we have seen in cuffs lately heading for their bail bondsmen.

I had forgotten the book, but not its message. I hadn’t noticed this hardcover from Random House on my shelves for a long time because it was sitting behind and was obscured by “Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley.”

I pulled Revel’s masterpiece out of the charity heap and began a re-acquaintance.

“What are you reading?” my wife asked.

“An old French novel. In English, of course,” I said figuring that when you read a book about disinformation you should practice a little yourself while you’re at it.

Actually Revel’s book is non-fiction whereas 1984 is most obviously fiction. And whereas Winston Smith of Orwell fame is a creation of the novelist; Le Monde, The New York Times, The New Republic, and the New York Review of books are non-fiction characters and among the principal players in “The Flight From Truth.”

Revel did not need to invent a torture like the rat cage attached to Winston Smith’s face to seduce him into loving Big Brother; Revel presents though another torture subtle and scary.

It is what he calls The Great Taboo.

At the risk of disturbing you, I will quote The Great Taboo here and in person:

The taboo that keeps writers, journalists, and politicians from mentioning a violation of human rights and abuse of power or a run of the mill economic setback, in short anything occurring in a country conveniently labeled “leftist” without immediately pointing to an equivalent imperfection in some right-wing dictatorship or democratic, capitalistic nation.

This taboo is nothing compared to the ability in the 1980s for the Soviet Union/USSR/CCCP before it changed its Brand Name back to Russia to sprinkle fake news in an Indian newspaper, have it picked up in France, and then spread throughout the world, accepted often as Gospel Truth. That planted dossier, so to speak, revealed that the AIDS virus was “the product of experiments by the U.S. Army” in genetic engineering, a weapon of war. It was then tried out in Africa and got out of hand and spread throughout the world.


This most prophetic book is still in print. Just today, I checked Revel’s titles on Amazon (I am wondering if I will soon get lots of popups about French writers) and found 15 used from 16 bucks and 4 new from $71.57 and one collectible for $159.99.

I recommend any and all. My copy, however, has returned to my bookshelf and, in exchange, the Elvis bio heads off to charity.

Tom Messner worked forever in advertising. In politics, he avoided the predictable negative bent and did positive ads for Reagan in ’84 and for Bush in ’88 along with Bush’s convention film. The agency he co-founded created NASDAQ’s first branding, Volvo’s comeback, and Fox News’s “We report. You Decide.” Then learning from the pols he partnered with (Roger Ailes in particular), they brought attack ads to such formerly benign areas such as telecom (MCI). At 73, he’s doing two things he never did before: Blogging here on wildly unconnected subjects coming on the heels of last year’s adventure: the writing of his first play, a musical “Dogs” destined now for either Broadway or The Pound. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Revel, not Orwell, is the Oracle of our Age. Call it the Disinformation Age.
revel, flight from truth, orwell, books
Friday, 01 June 2018 02:21 PM
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