You know, in the old days, I had the occasional post consisting of unalloyed frivolousness and bleating heart gliberalism. Like this one.
Because. What a loaded word! X happened because Y. Very few events are that simple, and yet, our implicit collective metaphysic is founded on the idea that they are.
In other words, we pretend that everything has an unambiguous, linear explanation, when in reality few things do. Again, that kind of simple cause-and-effect is the exception, not the rule.
Okay. What is the rule, then? Anyone can say what it isn't.
I think it was Aristotle who defined philosophy as the search for ultimate causes. How do we know when we've reached an adequate, let alone ultimate, explanation? I suppose adequate explanations are sufficient to get us through the day, but if you're at all introspective, you'll very quickly see through the absurdity and even insanity of most of these.
The other evening I jotted down a murmurandom to myself. Let me go fetch it.
Don't get excited. It's no major epiphany or theophany or hahafunny. Says, and I quote, 'never had existential dream v. ontic dreams.' I can tell by the dashed off quality that it made sense at the time. I think I heard some sort of TV commercial in the background, talking about achieving your dreams.
It occurred to me that I never really had the dreams that seem to motivate so many people. And if you don't participate in the collective dream, then you are going to be marked out as an oddball. It only takes one person outside the dream to make all the dreamers feel awkward, uncomfortable, and self-conscious.
I wish I could remember the book -- I think it was the Coon Classic Violence Unveiled -- in which the author writes of how the presence of a neutral observer made savages feel very uncomfortable when they were about to enact one of their collective dreams, such as human sacrifice. "Must you stare at me like that when I'm about to plunge the blade into his throat? It's creepy."
It's as if the presence of the outsider makes the group aware of their dream-trance, when the whole point of the dream is to not realize it is one.
I remember a similar feeling on one of my first internships, which must have been in around 1987 or so. I didn't know much of anything, and being that I was still a liberal, I actually knew less than that. I was still naive about the ways of the world. Anyway, this internship was at an AIDS hospice in West Hollywood. I guess I was supposed to help people with their feelings or something, but the whole thing was rather ill-defined. I could only handle two afternoons.
Anyway, when I got there, I felt like an orthodox Jew at communion. You know how it is. Everyone stops talking. Sort of like Blazing Saddles: No, I said the shrink isn't a qu... GONG!
This is ridiculous. I'm just trying to entertain you, aren't I, to conceal the fact that this post isn't going anywhere?
Let's start over.
Everyone's got one. A BECAUSE, I mean. It seems to me that a group, in order to be one, must share the same Because, or inhabit the same social trance.
A trivial example, but my son's Little League team is the Cardinals. One of the dads is a lifetime Cubs fan who grew up in Chicago, so he absolutely cannot bring himself to wear a Cards hat. I told him I empathized, because if my son were unfortunate enough to be on the Giants, under no circumstances would I soil my dome with their skeevy merchandise.
Weird? Yes. But only because you don't dream Dodger blue. Any longtime Dodger fan shares the dream, and would know exactly how I feel. I mean, c'mon. This was during my first year as a fan, and I don't forget that easy:
Liberals and conservatives don't just differ on this or that policy, but inhabit different dreamworlds. Likewise Islamists. Or Paul Krugman, as discussed in yesterday's post, recklessly swinging those racist bats in his belfry. That he feels so free to spew such craziness means not only that there are plenty of people who share his dream, but that he seems to have never met anyone who doesn't. He's like the medieval peasant who has never actually seen a Jew, but only knows they have horns and cloven feet, as do Giants fans.
David Mamet uses the term "recognition symbols." You might think of these as outward cues about the dream a person inhabits: they are "the slang terms, jokes, and archetypes that minority groups employ to signal their understanding of and belonging with each other."
A contemporary liberal education -- especially at our finest universities -- consists essentially of "Nothing. Students learn five recognition symbols that make them comfortable in conversation with other people who know nothing."
Or in other words, they internalize the rudiments of the dream, so as to function without friction in the totalitarian dreamworld of the left.
There is friction of course, but only when they hear rumors of one of those conservatives with the horns and cloven feet. I mean, have you taken a good look at Megyn Kelly? I hear she's a monster!