Everything has Changed. Nothing has Changed.
I awoke this morning thinking about this curiously airy state of mind since last Tuesday's election. It's too important merely to enjoy. Rather, we need to stand back from it and observe it -- be in it but not of it, you might say. Let us not mimic the unseemly emotional incontinence of the left when their savior healed the planet back in 2008.
Now that I'm pondering this, it seems I've always been this way -- that is, holding a part of myself in reserve from events around me. You know, the Witness. Or Ironist, anyway. For example, I attended a lot of rock concerts in my adultolescence, especially between about 17 and 25. You remember the drill: you get totally wasted beforehand, and hope to peak when the band comes on stage.
Nevertheless, even under those chemically fortified conditions, I was never able to "lose myself" completely. Let's say I'm at the Inglewood Forum, with 18,000 people who are singing and moving in unison in a kind of group trance. Now I find the whole idea creepy, but even then I was on the outside. I was inside the music, to be sure, but not inside, or at one with, the crowd. A part of me noticed what a bunch of undignified animals they were.
I could never figure out if this Witness was a good thing or a bad thing. Was it just a neurotic and excessive "self-consciousness," something I needed to annihilate? That was actually the idea behind a lot of psychotherapy models back then -- to completely break through all defenses and inhibitions, behind or underneath which we would find our radiant and unsullied True Self.
I actually started reading psychology before I ever dreamed of -- or was consigned to -- being a psychologist. I've mentioned before that I was caught by total surprise when my brain unexpectedly clicked on at around age 25, at which point I began reading everything in sight. Prior to that, I may have read one book on a voluntary basis -- Ball Four, by Jim Bouton. But being an autodidact meant being unguided by any coherent tradition or narrative; instead of approaching something from the center out, I just began nibbling randomly at the periphery.
Anyway, most of the psychology books I read back then were of the Strip Away All Inhibitions! variety. I'll bet I still have a few of them tucked away in my closet... Let us rummage...
Not sure why I haven't inflicted these upon the library. I suppose I was waiting for just this moment. Don't worry. I won't spend a great deal of time on this self-indulgence. Let's begin with R.D. Laing, who was quite big back then. His basic point in The Divided Self is that normality is madness and madness normality. In short, western civilization is insane, largely due to its pervasive repression. I'm sure he blames Christians for that. So let's all take our clothes off and engage in a cathartic primal scream.
There's an Aphorism for that: To educate man is to impede the 'free expression of his personality.' One wants to post a sign in public places: Thank You For Repressing Yourself. Or, No Shame, No Service. In fact, shame was a big thing we needed to do away with according to the New Psychology.
Time out for another Aphorism: Modern man imagines it is sufficient to open the windows in order to cure the soul's infection, that it is not necessary to clear out the trash.
I read somewhere that a mob of progressive snowflakes -- must have been in San Francisco -- actually engaged in a group primal scream to discharge their trauma over the election. And since they think in these terms, they imagine that the people who supported Trump were engaging in their own primal scream by electing him. It can't be the ideas. Rather, just a howling mob. (What would the left do without projection?)
I can see that if we proceed down this path, this post will rapidly spiral out of control. Back to matters at hand: this curious state of mind.
I am of course relieved, not so much because Trump won but because the left has been thwarted. But has my life actually changed? Unlike liberals who abuse their children with horror stories about the monster Trump, I assured mine that our lives wouldn't change much if at all under a Clinton administration. Indeed, I told him that if we didn't own a television set, we might very well notice nothing at all. I told him I was worried about the future of the nation, but reassured him that I would probably be dead by then.
Politics is like flypaper for irrational exuberance. I remember writing posts in the wake of the 2008 and 2012 elections, counseling readers -- or myself, anyway -- to not get caught up in the negativity, that Obama would surely crash and burn once he underwent the formality of actually existing, instead of being only a projection of infra-religious liberal fantasies.
So we certainly don't want to mirror the left by projecting our conservative fantasies onto Trump! And even if he accomplishes everything he sets out to do, it won't alter our existential circumstances. I mean, we're still going to die.
Nor will the struggle ever end. Look at the Reagan years, a "golden age" of conservatism. Some even imagined we had arrived at the End of History. But human nature emerged intact, such that we find ourselves battling for the same ideals -- indeed, the same ideals enunciated by the founders 240 years ago.
Now, progressives are by nature more prone to this illusion, because they literally believe history has sides and that they are on the right one. It makes no sense to them that history could suddenly veer off course three days ago. They have no theory to explain this. Well, no theory except, racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia: the "whitelash," as Van Jones put it.
People think this election was unusual in offering such flawed candidates. But elections usually come down to the lesser of two evils, because it's much easier for human beings to know what to hate than what to love. Politics, as they say, is the organization of hatreds. In my case, for example, I can say without reservation that I despise the left (not necessarily the individuals, mind you, but the ideology). But can I say without reservation that I love any politician, let alone Trump?
I've been thinking of another ironic aphorism to the effect that one can only embrace without reservation lost causes. Why is this? Well, prior to Tuesday I assumed Clinton was a sure thing, which made it easy for me to express my hostility toward the left with no ambivalence or restraint.
But now Republicans are in charge, and once your beautiful ideas are mingled with actual human beings -- or even just with reality -- you are bound to be disappointed. I'm thinking again of when Reagan became president -- or Thatcher prime minister. In both cases it took a couple of years for the improvement to manifest.
In Reagan's case, there was a sharp downturn in the economy before it began its unprecedented growth. For the past eight years the Matrix Media has given Obama a pass on the weak economy. I will be surprised if they give Trump a month. And if the positive results aren't immediately seen -- which is impossible -- there will be War.
Which means there will be War. The next four years -- starting this very moment -- will be relentless War. There will be no honeymoon, no slack, no courtesy, no forbearance. Scott Adams has suggested that the de-Hitlerization of Trump will take a little time, but that it will happen. I'd like to believe that, but I am skeptical. Reagan was never de-Hitlerized, and the media are only more ideological today than they were then.
My point is that it's a long season. Don't get too upset after a loss or too exultant after a victory. The first thing they ask when you win the Super Bowl or World Series is "do you think you can repeat next year?!" Because in reality there is no victory, only struggling toward it.
Furthermore, it is vital to struggle on behalf of the good, while leaving the rest to providence. Do the right thing for its own sake, not because you expect a certain result. The celestial goal is fixed, but the terrestrial route is always circuitous.
Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems (NGD).
And no man can solve politics, because there is no human solution to the problem of Man.
Oh, and if you want to see what voters rejected last Tuesday, just look at the unrepressed expressions on the faces of the howling and demented mobs. They remind us of what we despise.