“Whenever I’ve developed an enthusiasm, I’ve always been curious in what debunks my enthusiasm… when I got interested in Judaism I became interested in those books that were most damaging to Judaism… when I was a Christian I became interested in what debunks Christianity… when I was a Capitalist I became interested in Communism… this is the way I’ve always lived my life, I realize that to everyone else it seems schizophrenic and wildly contradictory and impossible to put together…[it’s] just the way I investigate everything.”
— Luke Ford in Stark Truth TV’s new documentary “Supply”
Luke Ford has been many different things in his 52 years; so many so that it is impossible to keep them all in your head at once. He might be well described as porn journalist turned alt-right journalist who, all the while, has remained a steadfast convert to Orthodox Judaism, but this description would leave out other distinct flavors: Luke’s being Australian, his background as the “son of a preacher man”, his devotion to the Alexander technique and other ergonomic endeavors, not to mention his interest in psychology and 12-step work.
Perhaps the most catch-all way to describe Luke, though–other than as a man at life-long war with his own narcissism– is as an investigator: a seeker of truth, who tends to position himself as close to the source as possible. While some of us are interested in Jewish spirituality from afar Luke put on the Kippah and Tzittzit himself, and moved to the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angelas: one of the city’s two hearts of Orthodox Judaism. While we’ve all found ourselves enticed by pornography, Luke has the distinction of actually having immersed himself in the industry for a decade, interviewing hundreds of performers and producers, and even directing a porno himself. And of course, while if you’re reading this blog you likely have interest in the alt-right, chances are you have not explored it as up-close-and-personal as Luke, whose daily livestream has featured virtually every major figure in the movement.
What motivates this kind of rigor? I submit that it is because Luke’s interests are not merely intellectual, but existential: not passive curiosities, but to him, matters of urgency, even life or death. Symptomatic of the narcissistic personality disorder with which Luke was once diagnosed– and of which he admits to exhibiting at least some elements– is the need, in lieu of any internal sense of self-worth, to be constantly validated and stimulated by the external world: and one can sense this in Luke’s work, this desperate search for an ever-elusive wholeness. Whether he’s looking into the healing promised by the Alexander technique or the recovery promised by 12-step programs, the eros promised by the adult industry or the social-cohesion yearned for by the alt-right, it always seems like Luke might be trying find that one thing that could save him. “The people who come into my chat room [are] like me,” Luke explains in one of his ruminative car-livestreams, “absolutely broken: something broken in the way they connect to other people, it’s just not happening in a normal, easy fashion… so we found some process such as extreme politics, some sort of excitement such as sports addiction, we’ve thrown ourselves into religion or to some esoteric philosophy…. and yet at core, when we’re alone and silent, and we have nothing to distract us no one, no substance, no process we’re fundamentally uncomfortable with ourselves.”
What may start out as a loss for Luke’s mental well-being, however, is transformed into quality work through his journalistic craft. The questions Luke asks are clearly animated by a deep existential drive to approach the truth of his subject as closely as possible. What is dug up, whether it is what Luke hoped to find or not, is invariably, arrestingly, truthful and honest. Similarly, Luke seems pathologically unable to make complete covenant with any one world-view or perspective, considering the most compelling negations of a concept at the very moment of his highest enthusiasm for it, and in so doing reaching always toward an ever-broader understanding. In these atomized times, in which our sense of shared reality diminishes with every news cycle, and it seems to be our lot to live perpetually on the precipice between meaning and chaos–I would argue that this bold, searching, and existentially-motivated journalism is the kind that matters the most.
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"Luke Ford reports all of the 'juicy' quotes, and has been doing it for years." (Marc B. Shapiro)
"This guy knows all the gossip, the ins and outs, the lashon hara of the Orthodox world. He’s an [expert] in... all the inner workings of the Orthodox world." (Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff)
"This generation's Hillel." (Nathan Cofnas)
"You are like the Howard Stern of the Alt Right." (Frame Game Radio)