Increasingly in the 1950s and 60s, if you owned assessment, you had all education (and presumably all effective, impactful and continuously improving managed systems like General Motors, the Vietnam War and the World Bank) by the “halls” of mirrors. I must plead the Fifth in protecting the reputation of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the shadowing of his charisma inseminated in the LBJ school and progeny Ray Marshall Center founded like many others in that era of demonstration projects to institute this triumphal but then tragic fact of every similar vital centered energizing force of nature who did the power, politics and prose while others did the big data, policy and poetry in the sheer bliss of econometrics, technology-augmented computers, their minders and endless algorithmic reified, inert but splendid what if scenarios and multi-variate regression analysis of such good things like should LBJ stay or should he go.

L’État, c’est moi est une formule apocryphe que Louis XIV, roi de France et de Navarre, aurait prononcée le 13 avril 1655 devant les parlementaires parisiens.

L’état, c’est moi translates as “I am the state.” It is used in reference to someone who claims absolute power, without boundaries or rivalries. The term l’état, c’est moi is attributed to Louis XIV, king of France for seventy-two years. As a monarch, Louis XIV wielded absolute power, unrivaled by nobles or a legislative branch of government. There is some doubt as to the authenticity of this quote, as the first recording of Louis XIV uttering l’état, c’est moi didn’t occur until about two hundred years after his death. Nevertheless, scholars continue to debate whether the phrase l’état, c’est moi embodies Louis XIV’s lust for power, or sums up his dedication to the country of France.

Dear good friends,

I wanted to share this famous phrase from Louis XIV who of course as a sun king bedazzled and on endorphin flooding ecstasies when in the midst of his hall of mirrors and lights had every reason to share the glory that he was indeed the absolute sovereign and moral authority. Quite simply, this phrase is the confession and proclamation and reality that everything good that happens in all realms, estates, ranks, degrees, tiers, spheres, communities, families, schools and homes is affirmed by Louis and all that is come upon, seen and judged (eg assessed, evalated, measured, convicted, crucified, incarcerated and executed as hideous threats to the good health, good people, good doctors, good rule followers, good informants, good deferential, submissive, slavish, dishonest and unethical rogues, predators and all such predators, saints and sinners no matter what evil and harm they do—as long as they are judged good by Louis as having his same good Sovereign and Moral Authority Mind, the same political cultural hegemony and commin sense embodiment literally in any corresponding caste oligarchal tyranny, fascist, totalitarian and liberal democracy or liberation revolutionary solidarity and movement: then the grandeur begins of a sense of oceanic endorphine rush and swoon into the sweet surrender of vicarious actual or virtual representative popular sovereignty, idolatry, fetish, totemic and reducing one’s hopes, dreams and birthright to a sacrificial agape ethos and moral philosophy like Jesus as both Gandhi and Jefferson interpreted only the New Testament as the same wisdom of all ancient scripture and their progeny: to live a life worth dying for.

Hmm…not sure that is what Jesus is signifying, but if so, Christology and Jefferson’s utopian, Oceanic and Modern unified and threefold mind would protest that he meant that in the vein of Ecclesiastes wisdom and that for Jefferson and all diverse peoples, all diverse americas, all world hemispheres, all first and last nations, enchanted, meek, and old-new-timeless germinal, grammatological and genomic cradles of civilizations, we are therefore something new!!!! To help and lead and cultivate living lives wirth dying for and simultaneously living unbound from the past lives worth living for.

Perhaps Gandhi was so enamored of this stripped down, ahistoical, static, thin, empty and idolized dead Jesus (decontextualixed and excised out of the entire living Word of the magnificent praxes, moral laws, poetry and eschatology and apolcalyptic witness of the Hebrew Bible ineffable and the JudeoChristian Bible in dialogic with the first is literally the stuff all midern assessment is made of!!! See eg Vygotsky Zone of Proximal Development in my hieroglyphy. I can explain this complex truth in an instant and then who knows maybe one day yountoo can instead of being Louis, Gandhi, Jesus or Jefferson, you can far surpass each and all of them together:

You can grow up and become in your own race to the top a psychometrician (6 and 7 figure outcomes and the very heart of public, private and charter school education and moving into higher education and then as close to birthnas possible) and all the kindred cousinries in government halls, policy makers and thought leaders and foundations and funders, as well as assessment, measurement and evaluation, in all the praxes that determine everything not only in schools but all the realms in America like in the ancien regime Louis alone could do from Versailles.

All of us who assess and make moral judgments and critical life and death high stakes “exit level, no exit or neither, either/or, both/and rapid escalations due to our own intoxicated joy of being Louis but we are millions and millions of mirrors and many are of a strange paradoxical but inevitable nature that is the coin any sovereign realm of such infinite c’est etat sovereigns everywhere, in any way, allnthe time, every contested interpretation of every contested value of every contested bell curve norm of every truncated and lifeless static demographic subgroup.

On one side, the mirrors are numinous incandescent points of light for many folks/sovereigns/professionals/pyschometricians and their funders, overlords and makers. But on the other oppossing side all that is not good, moral, numinous or just at all, but constant ever tinier broken glass now splintering by the light of day.

If you do not see the connection between praxis, measurement, sovereign powers that be, vast citizenries of vast conflicting ideas, ideologies and interests who are nonetheless heroic, strong, normal and vital non-joining powers of one and their own jaunty true north flying machines and non-orwellian and orwellian paradoxical moral surveillance systems, then I have made my point well!

O I forgot, lots of folks in the assessment world in the national, state, regional, district and local arenas, powers, policy and politics interwoven complex clusters of multi-systemic and multi-tiered coherent and aligned standards-accountability-curriculum-leadership-strategy-instruction-latest theory of mind (and related social agenda, justice, equity, excellence, poverty, STEM, great fear, terror, trauma etc)-assessment praxis system, structure and culture:

were quite fond of this pronouncement of Louis for they were, are and forever will be the estate that determines and makes the very oceans that all must swim, sink, drown or find some dessert to have their own living waters and free themselves of this eternal return.

But all water eventually runs together and becomes of the same toxic oceans, venal markets, hegemonic cultures and bureaucratic states that are too jammed packed with little Lous powers of one.

Whither popular soveregnty, democracy and whole humane flourishing? Follow the coin of the realm that begins in the early 1800s again. By the way, I will show ths complex story in a simple but complex diagram. Jefferson was one of the few if only prominent revolutionary leaders and an outlier among his fellow racist, eugenic elites in all spheres and states of power to name this eternal return, analyze it, call it out and concentrate his last years of life using the apocalyptic tradition (rightly understood) to try to awaken all diverse peoples

His protests against the Beast were driven by his deep fear that the monarchical spirit of anti-democratic demagoguery by both parties and both north and south in the 1820s was that if we continue to fail to face courageously and resolve the slavery abomination, the catastrophic existential crisis would explode and possibly destroy the new nation by strangling it in the crib.

History is a wonderful exercise of the mind and empathy for all ctizen philosophers today. Before we close our minds to what is repugnant in the past, let us dispense with our own sovereign rush to assess, judge, condemn, crucify and execute and give us and all a little grace to learn from it too.

At least I hope that will be the tender wisdom of humane kindness when they upon our failures to act as well and our crises and injustices and disparities and fraudulence and follies are “legion.”