There is a story, a meme, which is finding a revival on the internet just now, circulating on Facebook, and no doubt elsewhere too. The story relates to a celebrated post on Reddit from a decade ago, in which the poster (Lard_Baron) said that when he was a child his father said to him “Knowledge is Power – Francis Bacon”, to which he had heard “Knowledge is Power, France is bacon”. What, he had wondered, was the link between the two? Lard Baron says that he’d tell the quote to people, and they’d nod knowingly, which he found strange. Or someone would say “Knowledge is Power”, and he’d complete the quote – “France is Bacon”, and they’d look oddly at him. He’d ask a teacher the meaning of the quote and they’d explain Knowledge is Power, and totally ignore the meaning of France is bacon. When prompted further for explanation – “France is bacon?”, they’d respond enigmatically “yes”, and he didn’t have the confidence to press further.
There is a sense in which to the matter of knowledge reduced to a device of power, with all its imaginary effects, the non-sense of France is bacon is the perfect response, a deflation. And it is not just France which is bacon now, we all are a bit, some of us more than others perhaps.
At a time when imaginary effects related to knowledge and power, and of not knowing, are widely felt to be pressing, we see its effects in the daily press of news and commentary trying to make meaning where there is something, or a certain nothing, difficult to digest, just as in the rise of conspiracy theories, this well timed meme, with its deflationary effect on imaginary jouissance, may not be without its uses.