Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Bad News: You're Out of Touch with Reality. The Good News: Reality Doesn't Exist

When last we spoke, we were discussing Paul Hollander's Extravagant Expectations: New Ways To Find Romantic Love In America, which is a seeming departure from his usual preoccupation with left wing lunacy. He wouldn't put it that way, of course, but in focusing on the distinction between reality and appearances, he demonstrates that the further leftward one travels, the less reflective of reality.

For example, in Anti-Americanism, he emphasizes that he has no issue with honest and accurate critiques of America, but rather, with ones "that are less than fully rational and not necessarily well founded." Purveyors of such beliefs betray a "perceptual distortion such that a caricature of some aspect of behavior or attitude is raised to the level of general belief."

In this regard, I think we need to pay attention to the form before the content; in other words, the vulnerability to this kind of cognitive distortion is prior to what is distorted. To put it more bluntly, in order to have crazy thoughts, one must first be crazy -- at least in some sense of the word, for what else is craziness but a distortion of reality?

So, how do we distinguish between crazy and realistic critiques? Well, I'm not very far into the book, but Hollander provides an example of a type of liberal with whom we are all familiar, who sarcastically asks what is so great about America:

"Is it the genocide of native peoples and the theft of their land? Or is it slavery and the slaughter of millions of Africans and the continued mutilation and attempted destruction of Black people?... Or how we stole part of Mexico; our bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki..., refusal to launch a meaningful campaign against AIDS, the denial of reproductive rights for women and the destruction of world's environment." Oh, and support for Israel. Don't get him started.

Okay, so basically the United States wants to destroy the world and everyone in it. Anything else? "The U.S. flag is the symbol of the evil empire. Progressive people should reject it."

Since the craziness is prior to the crazy, the former must be a kind of free-footing attitude that can fluidly attach to other phenomena. Thus, Anti-Americanism can easily move between anti-conservatism, anti-Christianity, anti-Western civilization, anti-white male, anti-Jew, and now anti-Trumpism. Here again, are suggesting that no critique of Trump is valid? Of course not! But as always, we need to distinguish between the valid and the lunatic.

As Scott Adams has so ably described, Democratic operatives turned Trump into Hitler for political purposes, but now cannot turn off the hallucination. Not that they want to. Whether or not the manipulators at the top believe the lies, they certainly want their lo-fo supporters to believe them -- thus the absurd smearing of JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS and Steve Bannon as racist and anti-Semite. All without so much as a nod to reality -- except in defiance of it.

The point is, the same free-floating hatred of America easily attaches to conservatives, to Christians, to Trump, and elsewhere. Thus, the most contempt would be reserved for conservative Christian Trump supporters -- especially female -- which indeed we have seen.

For example, here is how brother Deepak describes us:

"To expand his base, Trump went beyond the seamy collection of Southern racists, religious fundamentalists, ill-informed and uneducated whites, gun fanatics, and reactionaries who are the base of the right wing, to embrace the deeply committed haters in the alt-right. It’s fully justifiable to be repelled by all of it." Yes, it's those even more hateful haters of the alt-right numbering in the triple digits that put us over the top.

So, we are the ones who are out of touch with reality. The good news? Reality is just a human construct anyway. That being the case, there is no way to arbitrate between one vision and another, because there is no reality to begin with. Rather, it's appearances all the way down. And since there is no reality, there can be no deviation from it. No one is crazy because no one is sane. How convenient for the left!

Which leads back to the book in question about modern relationships. Let's put it this way: in the modern world, people have certain expectations of their politics. But they also have certain expectations of romantic relationships. Is there some connection between the two?

Well, there was a time, not too long ago, that people didn't have grandiose expectations of either. Indeed, perhaps the central purpose of the founders was to create a political system in which government would have less power and influence. It is certainly not something we would put our hope in, except insofar as we hope it leaves us the hell alone.

As they say, the less things politicians control, the less it matters who controls the politicians. But the hundreds of millions raked in by the Clinton Foundation is simply a measure of just how much it matters who controls the politicians. The value of a 20 minute talk by Hillary Clinton has plummeted from $200-300,000 to negative territory, in that you'd have to pay people to listen to her now. What happened? What is the nature of the thing that has gone from being so valuable to being less than valueless?

Hollander begins with a socio-historical survey of how human beings have changed in the last couple hundred years, and the effect on intimate relationships. Much of it has to do with what I would call a process of "separation-individuation," only as applied to culture instead of the mother.

Separation-individuation describes a process that begins in psychic fusion with the mother, and ends in an adult autonomy simultaneously capable of mature dependency; note that the separation is for the purposes of a higher fusion later in life, e.g., with one's own family. As the Bible says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

But that was nevertheless in a traditional world in which one wasn't radically separated from the group, much less from God. In short, the invention of the individual -- the abstract and atomistic unit of Enlightenment humanity -- had yet to take place.

To be continued...


julie said...

Let's put it this way: in the modern world, people have certain expectations of their politics. But they also have certain expectations of romantic relationships.

Relevant, this - especially the Salon story he links about the woman who divorces her husband because he doesn't want to work a full time job and also do housework while suffering with MS. Talking it over with my husband last night, our culture has done such a massive disservice to young people by creating the expectation that in a relationship, men and women should have an "equal" role: both partners ought to work and do household chores in the same measure, somehow, as though they are interchangeable widgets living together. Notably, I think women are most guilty of this mindset, but the men seem happy to foster the expectation, at least for a little while. Then when it inevitably fails - when he simply can't or won't do chores to her standards, and she can't stop nagging at him because she's so desperately unhappy with the whole situation, she kicks him out and then proclaims how happy she is now that she doesn't have to live with that awful man anymore.

Conversely, one of my good friends is struggling because she has to work (among other stressful things); when someone told her she ought to get a hobby so that she had something to make her happy in her free time (as if she has any). She realized that what would make her happy is simply being a wife and mother. Doing mom stuff, taking care of the house and the kids and the husband. All the things women aren't supposed to be happy about doing in this day and age, that's what would make her happy.

Gagdad Bob said...

Scott Adams today:

"And that brings us to our current situation. As Trump continues to defy all predictions from his critics, the critics need to maintain their self-images as the smart ones who saw this new Hitler coming. And that means you will see hallucinations like you have never seen. It will be epic."

It will be fun to see how these geniuses dig in their heellucinations!

Anonymous said...

Drive-by racoonmendation --

Gil Bailie (Author of "Violence Unveiled") has written another book:

I'm about a third of the way through. An excellent read thus far.

Gagdad Bob said...

I'll be right on that one. Although there are a few in the pipeline I need to finish first.

julie said...

The schadenfreude just keeps on turnin'.

Relevant quote:

'Of course, this woman thought that “Sweet Home Alabama” could just be turned off. After all, we can block out things we disagree with. We can unfriend people on Facebook, block them on Twitter, and decide not to let their negativity be a part of lives. For many progressives, this is the key to wellness.'

Gagdad Bob said...


mushroom said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Happy Thanksgiving to B'ob, Cousin Dupree, Petey, Mrs. Bob, F.L. and all of the dear brothers and sisters under the pelt.

Truly thankful to be a Raccoon, and for the longstanding tradition of raiding the heavenly larder, snuffling about for truth, and defending the Way from the wayward.

Blessings, dear family!

julie said...

Yes, a very happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Kurt said...

Happy Thanksgiving to Bob and to all One Cosmos readers and their families! God bless us all and may God bless the United States of America!

ted said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all fellow Raccoons!

Van Harvey said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Raccoons throughout the One Cosmos!

julie said...

Wow, Castro has finally reached room temperature.

This has been one heckuva year.

debass said...

The left is having a bad month.

Anonymous said...

I Komradeten #W1, big cheese woman for left. Let me be first to congratulate right on good year for you; we see how long last. Don't be get comfortable. Woman equal to man, needs to work not be lazy in house. Man needs work and take care of home and wash damn dishes 50-50; this how is. Don't try to make the stereo roles. Man have fist, but woman have scissors. So think on this. Here we have mink not raccoons but let me say this we make the coats from the mink. Merry Capital Christmas time enjoy while can.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another early day. Blogging should resume normalcy tomorrow.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Castro has been dead for a while, if not for a long while. Cuba's having no "lying in State" that world leaders expect, but plenty of lying. No up close viewing, but a quick cremation within 24 hrs of the announcement.... nah. My guess is he died when Trump got elected! :D