Insinuations

May 21, 2010

Insinuations

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Editor’s Review: The four-hundred-and-ten page manuscript that became Insinuations was discovered lodged in a crucial component of the landing gear of the tragic flight PA039, which exploded shortly after its attempted crash-landing at LAX on March 15th, 2014. Though everyone aboard was killed, the manuscript itself was insulated from the blaze. The day after the disaster, investigators found the pages which had fatally obstructed the plane’s operations, and handed the document over to federal investigators searching for a guilty party behind the crash.

They quickly discovered, by checking a digitised copy of the text against data retrieved from the deceaseds’ computers, that the author was the co-pilot of the plane, a Cindy Cartwright of Tucson, Arizona. An analysis of the previous save files retrieved from her hard-drive indicates she had been writing the manuscript for at least five years. This, however, is a minimum figure, as Cartwright’s tax records also show that she had had previous computers, disposed of exclusively at flea-markets and hence now untraceable, on which she may have earlier worked on the document.

The text was kept in a secret police facility for the length of the investigation.[1] Upon its completion its findings were made public, and at the request of victims’ groups the document was publically incinerated.

In the immediate wake of this act conspiracy theories exploded over the internet. Claims that authorities were using the exaggerated sentiments of the grieving as a cover to destroy a document of overwhelming public significance became as widespread as they were ridiculous. Fundamentalist groups from such disparate faiths as Christianity, Mormonism, Islam and Scientology were briefly united in a joint protest in downtown Hollywood against what each viewed as central government suppression of a divine message declaring their own group’s vindication. Though all groups involved had repeatedly stressed to the public and to their own members that they planned a peaceful rally, a minor foot-stepping incident quickly spiralled into a chaotic blood-bath of what was later determined to have been the greatest ever assemblage of armed men in peace time.

Secular conspiracy-theorists developed what were at once more sophisticated, and to that extent more monumentally idiotic, explanations of the event. Despite the existence of Wikileaks, and its well-publicised recent win in the US Supreme Court, which established the complete legality of its activities so long as its servers remained in that country, groups that aligned themselves variously with the 9/11 Truth Movement, the Tea Party (both Republican and Disestablishmentarian Factions), and various survivalist movements, were steadfast in the belief that it was somehow necessary for Cartwright to use a major aviation disaster to draw attention to her revelations. The fact that Cartwright herself did not post the document on Wikileaks in addition to staging the disaster, thereby giving civil authorities every opportunity to suppress her work and make redundant any publicity generated by the event, is easily enough to dismiss any credibility that these theories might have. (However, it should be noted that significant numbers of people continue to reject, convolutedly, this and other equally incontrovertible objections.)

In any event the nature of the conspiracy theories surrounding the manuscript of Insinuations is irrelevant. All proved to be the products of imaginations too hopelessly constrained to have conceived of anything approaching the actual reality of the text. Their importance lies rather in the industrious activity they inspired to retrieve and publicise Cartwright’s work.

This particular task was not difficult, and was hence largely completed by 2015. Though the US federal police apparatus may now be an almost purely secret organisation, that secrecy really only extends as far making it impossible for public officials to make any references to it. Knowledge of the locations of its secret facilities and the methods by which its cyber-networks can be accessed is common outside of official circles and the educated public. Though the physical original had been ritually destroyed, the electronic copies that had been produced in order to perform the original digital search against the hard-drives of those aboard PA039 had escaped far enough into a virtual network as to be effectively ineradicable. It was these copies that were stolen by an anonymous army of the terminally paranoid and woven into the ever-expanding, uncontainable fabric of the information world.

The story entered a seemingly dormant phase at that point, which lasted until the middle of 2017. As the text of Insinuations could in no conceivable way support any conspiracy theory that was not so schizophrenic as to be totally incommunicable, the masses already mobilised around it were puzzled, and in their frustration quickly melted away. Though some continued, and in fact to this day continue, to attempt to decode a supposed hidden message within its pages, their activity is marginalised to the level of most of the internet’s eternally-anonymous failures.

By mid-2017, however, a new, saner network of people had grown around Insinuations and brought it to renewed attention. Though blinkered conspiracy-theorist’s were so determined to see in the document some answer to their socio-political frustrations that in their absence they could see nothing at all, a relatively apolitical, post-modern e-citizenry was able to view the work apart from its context, and so to perceive in it a special significance.

At this point it should be noted that Insinuations was a title given to the book by Professor Andreas-Marcos of the College of Mexico, who was both one of the first commentators to take notice of the book on-line, and its first print-editor. Cartwright had originally given the work no title whatsoever, and there were in fact a number of alternative names by which the book was known on-line, and in some circles continues to be known, including The Book of Sentences (BoS) and Dissolutions.

The most notable feature of the work is its totally idiosyncratic format. With the exception of a single introductory paragraph, which appears, from the fact that it had been printed on a different type of paper to the rest of the original manuscript, to have been written immediately before the PA039 sabotage, the entire book consists of single, detached sentences. Each sentence is a single-clause long, is only ever indicative, and is always either in the passive voice, or has an extremely vague subject. As an example, I chose these entirely typical entries by randomly opening the book to page 59:

“There are many densely populated cities in Asia.

Scientific studies have found a link between drinking red wine and high-life expectancy.

Indians are associated with the telemarketing industry.”

The introductory paragraph itself deserves to be quoted in full:

“I’m not writing to make a point or to argue anything. I don’t want to make points, and I don’t see why we need to argue all the time. We can just discuss things. Groundless speculation and ideology only make for conflict, and I’m not interested in conflict. I just want to say: “here is something that interests me,” and you can say, “I see, here is something else.” I’m not trying to say anything more than what I’m saying. It is possible for us to just take these facts for what they are, and not to look for any more than that or fight over anything.”

Andreas-Marcos, like many other commentators on Insinuations, notes that to debate whether the statements are true or false is effectively impossible. Their grammatical construction lends them an air of definiteness that totally disguises the fact the statements are so vague that they cannot be proved true or false. As each statement exists in enforced isolation from the others, and consists of only a single clause in which none of the terms are fitted into any frame of reference, it is impossible to devise any test by which any of the statements could have real significance.

That last point needs clarification. Cartwright’s introduction admittedly appears on the surface as exactly the sort of confused rant that would be expected from someone who subtly but catastrophically sabotages their own aircraft. But a clear and distinct meaning can be extracted from it. The sentences of Insinuations are intended as ‘facts,’ a seemingly paradoxical statement given that, as statements which exist without the necessary frame of reference to be subject to invalidation, they lack the basic criteria of something which can be true. But ‘fact’ here is not meant in the sense of a veritable aspect of reality, something which cannot be wished away, but rather as a discrete statement. We are told to take the facts “for what they are” and we are given a model for our interaction with the text in which no party ever addresses the statements of the other, but merely adds a new discrete statement to the string.

The function of the introduction to Insinuations is therefore to act as a dissolving agent to the rest of the text. It is clear that each of the statements in the book was made in some greater logical framework in which they clearly indicated a true or false statement with  at least the implication of a clear point, and by extension argument and ideology. This is a fairly uncontroversial inference, since the entire book is filled with statements that at no point appear surreal. At no point does the book devolve into ‘O time, your pyramids’ type statements, which would prove that they had indeed been produced as individual units of nonsense, authentically devoid of any connection to a coherent logico-linguistic picture of reality. In contrast, every one of the statements feels strikingly familiar, and indeed many are sentences a contemporary reader is likely to have heard in meaningful conversation with non-deranged, sentient beings in possession of clear beliefs about reality.

To take a concrete example, let us analyse the statement from page 249: “there is a genetic component to crime.” There are several contexts in which this statement can be true or false. Firstly there is the context of eugenics, in which the statement fits into a broader system of claims that by experimental investigation it is possible to isolate specific variants in the human gene-pool that can be controlled or modified to have an appreciable effect on the observed crime-rate. In this context the statement can be determined to be true or false by performing the aforesaid investigation (which has in fact been done, determining the statement to be false). It should also be noted that in this context the statement clearly implies both an argument and an ideology, specifically: the argument that eugenics can and should be used to control crime;[2] and the greater ideology that the gene-pool must be moulded to the interests of society, rather than the society to the contours of human nature.

Alternatively the statement can be interpreted as part of a comparison of the genetic capacities of various species. Here the statement would mean that human genetics, in contrast to, say, wasp genetics, creates in the species the capacity to both create social structures, and to violate them. A further claim that crime is therefore an inherent aspect of human nature can also be further inferred. In both senses, then, the statement could be tested and falsified, if, for example, wasps could be induced to commit crimes, or humans to construct a society in which members do not commit crime, without any alteration to the gene-pool of either species. The statement, again, implies an argument, namely that crime is indeed an aspect of human nature.

But for whatever reason, Cartwright felt the desperate need to deny the existence of her own conception of reality. Professor Aaronovitch of the University of Edinburgh, with whom I am inclined to agree, has speculated that Cartwright did this out of a deep neurosis that at once prevented her being able to accept the possibility that she was wrong, but also prevented her staking any claims to personal authority. He has termed the mentality one of ‘decentralised authoritarianism,’ in which no toleration of dissent is brooked, but no submission to personal authority is solicited. It is a generalised enforcement of conformity, in which the first statement on any subject is fixed as an isolated status quo, preventing any party being able to reflect critically upon those aspects of reality already touched upon, and hence form their own, potentially contradictory view. The fact that the statements suggest contexts for their own interpretation, despite Cartwright’s denial, and that these contexts are so often racist, elitist and bigoted, further support such a theory, and indeed gave rise to the title Insinuations itself. Interviews with Cartwright’s family and friends have not been forthcoming, and out of ethical concerns researchers have not attempted to reconstruct her personal relationships by other means. Nevertheless, Aaronovitch’s own research indicates that, in less extreme forms, such a pathology is a genuinely existing phenomenon.

Insinuations has thus established itself as an important source in the modern fields of psychology, formal logic and sociology. It is for this reason that, despite the trauma that publication of a work, which has been at the root of an aviation disaster, a deadly riot, and a mass hysteria, inevitably brings, the publishers have felt themselves justified in making available to the academic and reading publics a paperback edition of the book. It is my hope, and the hope of all those who have been involved in its study and salvaging from obscurity, that the spirit in which it will be read is one of rational inquiry, a spirit which will reverse the dissolution of sense, coherence and reason that Cartwright strove for, and hence help to rid the world of the malignant anti-logic that Insinuations presents.

Everett Kohlmann

University of Pretoria

June, 2024


[1] It should be noted that the investigation itself, and all aspects thereof, was not secret, but due to an almost total lack of other facilities investigators were forced to work where space was available. (Editor).

[2] Some commentators have questioned whether the statement actually would imply a ‘should’ in said context.  The reason this implication can be said to exist with certainty is that to make such a statement in such a context would be irrational without any modifying clauses to address the implicit suggestion. (Editor)

One Response to “Insinuations”

  1. Dear Internet,

    The above was written in a room that wails. It’s a really high-pitched wailing, and I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s possible to move your head to subtly different levels and positions in the room, and at various points the wailing will become either relatively quiet or unbearably loud. It is very high-pitched wailing, somewhat reminicent of the guitar-solo at the start of this:

    I am not sure how I feel about this wailing. It has not proved to be a great impediment to my work. The defects in the above have more to do with the fact that I didn’t start writing “Insinuations” until literally midnight this morning. It is possible that the wailing has in fact aided my concentration by blocking out the sound of typing, the outdoors, other people or anything in any way interesting or at least non-obnoxious enough to distract me. That said, it is possible that when I go home I will find that I have gone deaf and will never sleep again, or that in the morning I will look over what I have just written and not be able to comprehend a single word of it. I don’t know, internet. I just don’t know.

    PAK

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