Anecdota, Human truth and the case of Claude Debussy: A Project Plan


To show the significance of anecdota – the Greek root of the word anecdote – in the context of revealing truths that might otherwise resist so-called established “objective” means. Further, I will demonstrate, with examples from Procopius’ Secret History and Claude Debussy’s musical relationship with Richard Wagner, that the root of the word anecdote is more significant than the word anecdote itself – a word that is now set in distinction to objective truth.

Human history, limits of Hard Materialist science and metaphysical inference

The physical, biological and chemical sciences all explain material objects in a simple pool of cause and effect – be it mechanically or dialectically – and this works perfectly and correctly for physical objects, biological systems and chemical elements. But human history has given rise to something that might resist a simple cause and effect analysis: consciousness. It is vital that we briefly mention Hard Darwinists (Darwinists that seek a Darwinian answers in EVERYTHING, that consider that everything has a function which can be explained away by appeals to survival. Opposed to Darwinists like Stephen Jay Gould who consider some elements of a biological system to be mere accidental by-products, or “spandrels”. I would like to make the case that consciousness is a “spandrel” of mind and environment like the case given by Paul Larfargue in his “Origin of Abstract Ideas”) like Daniel Dennett who purport a grave error when trying to explain consciousness as a simple element in the chain of cause and effect, not to mention the pursuit of neuroscience which misses the point of the Freudian unconscious, again trying to reduce it to meat and neurons.

The need for a non-Hard science

In other words, a system that accounts for the irrational underbelly of consciousness, that is to say the unconscious. However not just simply Freudianism, but a type of Freudianism that provides grounds for Gould’s notion of a “spandrel”. Freudianism in the category of biology, consciousness (and unconsciousness) that doesn’t develop for any survival reason, but as an accidental counterpart to mind and the environment that it finds itself in, providing the grounds for an explanation of the workings of mind.

The talking cure, for example, is the activity of potential truth or something that, in the lack of a hard objective root or substance, in a way may be considered for scrutiny. The idea is that we can take these elements considered for scrutiny – as they appear in the form of a tic or symptom – and build a system out of them, for example we can scrutinise Claude Debussy’s own admission that Wagner was like a musical Father to him, but then draw conclusions as to why Debussy mocked Wagner in his piano suite Children’s Corner and became obsessed with not being an imitation of Wagner (Sources are made from Roger Parker’s The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera and Leon Vallas’ Claude Debusyy – His Life and Works).

What am I trying to prove? Debussy invoked his Wagnerian influence, was perceived and perceived himself as a mere imitation, became obsessed with denying himself of Wagner and in the mean time produced an important element of music that juxtaposes excerpts from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde with a cakewalk – an obvious mocking of Wagner (not least for his detestable racism and anti-Semitism).

Anecdota and its root


The Secret History reveals an author who had become deeply disillusioned with the emperor Justinian and his wife, Theodora, as well as Belisarius, his former commander and patron, and Antonina, Belisarius’ wife.

Here we can see how important the root of the Greek word anecdota reveals something secret. The difference for me between anecdota and anecdote or anecdotal evidence is that the latter is utilised in lieu of scientific evidence, whereas the former promotes possible scientific scrutiny. It is the difference between a symptom or a sign that reveals itself at an unconscious level like Debussy’s obsession with Wagner and the redundant example presented by Peter Griffin of Family Guy which went along the lines of “one should not buy a second-hand car, I had a friend who bought a second-hand car once and BAAM!! eight years later he died of cancer”.

In short, the original anecdota reveals more for scrutiny in the form of symptoms and this should be more readily utilised in order to ascertain truths that resist the typical pursuits of physical, biological and chemical sciences. It should be noted that the theory does not carry any unwanted baggage like anti-science, but it is unabashedly pro-Freud, pro-Gould, and anti-Dennett.