Saturday, February 02, 2008
Note To New Readers by Anthony McCarthy
These are words.
To know what they mean you have to read all of them.
Yes, this can be hard but it is how they work. They do not work if you won't.
Update: ..... Wild Leftists Don’t Have The Blues. by Anthony McCarthy
If you were unpopular in high school you had three choices. First, you could make a degrading and fawning attempt to get in with the cool kids and end up their fool, something no one with an ounce of self-respect would do. Alternatively, you could bitterly grouse about it to yourself and whoever else would listen. In that case you can wear your retained pride like a chip on your shoulder and stew in bitterness till the end of your days. Or you can take another route, which I’ll finish with.
I had imagined that anyone who was familiar with what I write and who didn’t like it doesn’t read me anymore. It’s clear from the experimental essay I posted over the past three weeks, that wasn’t true.
“You don’t write short,” my brother said when he read through the entire essay - posted at my blog in its intended sequence. And it’s true, I don’t tend to. In part that’s because the subjects of those posts are impossible to handle otherwise. And experience proves that if you leave steps you will get called on it*. You can’t assume that everyone will understand a reference or fill-in the elided portions of an historical or other kind of point. Leaving in something that you assume some people will already know for those who don’t is only fair if you want them to read what you write. Sometimes you make the same point more than once in the same hope of making things clearer. Someone once made the point that brevity was all well and good but it often takes a lot longer to read. And I will not insult anyone who does me the honor of reading what I post by writing down at them.
Another blogger friend who read through the whole thing said that it was provocative. Well, it was. I didn’t write it to be provocative but because I think the mental and political habits that come from a belief in various determinisms are fatal to democracy. I had originally intended to use contemporary quotes from biological determinists to make the same point. But since just about every last one of those today claim to be the true heirs of Darwin, it was cowardly and unproductive to dodge the issue of his version of biological determinism.
Criticizing Darwin is just one of a number of third rails on the left today, especially on the blogs. You aren’t supposed to say what you think about those, it will bring all kinds of false charges and absurd distortions onto you. You should point those out for purely clerical reasons but, as just about always happens, you can’t get them retracted. But I’m happy to be able to tell you that despite the outrage it will cause, you can touch those prohibited topics and survive. You can even feel better for having said what you really think, too.
The taboo against dissing Darwin, pointing out the political futility of neo-atheist invective or, hardest of all, telling your fellow leftists that we aren’t going to get everything we want right away that those will come only with a long period of hard work, has nothing to do with reason or facts.
Talking about those are a violation of the received and enforced acceptable viewpoint. The fact that required viewpoint has brought nothing in the way of real-world results, except failure, is just as unspeakable. Admitting the failure of the left was partly the result of these kinds of attitudes was my entire reason to begin blogging. Changing the futile habits of the left is absolutely necessary to winning back the political power we lost in the 1970s. It is all about getting that political power back in order to change things in the real world for the better.
I’m not interested in fostering that encoded allowable viewpoint or in rearranging the provided set of thought-blocks into would-be political positions for the false reassurance of anyone. Anyone who has ever entertained a toddler knows that you don’t build with blocks and expect it to stay up.
The third way to handle being unpopular is to refuse to let it cramp your own style. If you realize that the anxious, nervous, competitive and mean spirited attention seekers of the cool aren’t nearly as popular as they think they are you are a long way on the road to independence. If you refuse to let their rejection keep you from doing what you want you can avoid the unproductive unhappiness of those poor kids who are enslaved by the bitterness over their rejection. Think about how much better we have it than high school non-conformists. Online, no one is going to reach out of the screen and knock your front teeth out. Not even if you tease them.
So, take it from one who has cooties and doesn’t care. You can do more than just survive, you can be happy doing what makes sense to you.
* You will also get called on them even if you put every last one in with footnotes. But you take your chances when you publish something.
Next post, back to the news.