Falling off the edge of the world

Sometimes, I think the olden mapmakers were on to something we’ve lost.  Sure, the continents were comically misshapen, and they often favored beauty over legibility, but there was a certain style to the operation that’s sorely lacking now.  And of course they were just as interested in precision and accuracy as we are today; they just lacked the tools.  Where they excelled and we falter is that they didn’t sit around waiting for the tools before they drew the best maps they could.  They also didn’t stop there and consider the latest thing they’d done to be finished forever.  They kept at it.  (And they weren’t afraid to just up and stick all sorts of mythological beasts in the margins.  A little imagination counts for much in the world.)

We ought to bring their approach to the misshapen mental landscapes of the far-left.

Morgan’s been trying to map these burbling swamps for a long while now, and his latest expidition makes for a good read.  A sample:

I think the thought process in place is as follows, and this is my observation: If you have some (free speech), that has to mean they are missing some. After all, that is how they look at money, is it not? It’s okay for you to have, oh, one or two hundred dollars in your bank account…maybe four digits in the balance instead of three, if you’re about to sit down and pay your bills. But if you are “two-comma” wealthy, that’s bad, because that has to mean someone else is missing something.

He then adds that he remembers when “nuance” was the buzzword of the day for the left: a vague, gassy way of praising themselves.  This word is no longer in vogue, you’ll notice – it was a pretense all along.  And true to Morgan’s observation, the left had all of the nuance and the right had none, those simpletons.

It’s hard to know which is worse: the progs’ pride in their “nuanced thinking” or the complete absence of any evidence of it in their actions.  Or – no – maybe that’s a little over-simple.  There is one way in which they show an amazing plasiticity, which no doubt fools them into thinking that they’re nuanced.  They are masters of winnowing out some measly sliver of a difference between what they are vociferously condemning and what they are in fact advocating or doing at the moment.  Then they project searchlight levels of wishful thinking at that sliver in the hope of casting enough of a shadow for them to hide in.

In their world, nuance means verbiage and jargon and contextualization and all that other post-modern buzz.  To make things plain is to be “black and white,” and so they are not only disinclined to say what they’re really on about, they are incapable.  Their brains short-circuit when called upon to try it, but their mouths keep going all the while, and you get a gigantic pile of words that seem spilled out of a dictionary, waiting assembly.  Anything deeper than a slogan, protest sign, or bumper sticker – say, the philosophy behind them – is going to be indecipherable if you don’t have the mental decoder ring.

That one might make plain a complicated topic, or a subtle difference between two thoughts, has perhaps never occured to them.  Nuance is clearer in broad daylight.

It’s really counterproductive to try to do all of this work to understand what a hardcore leftist actually means, when by the time you’re finished with the latest manifesto, they’ll have shifted ground again and your mental map will be out-of-date.  To save time, we should just write “HERE BE DRAGONS” across the top and be done with it.

Another example is the continuing flapdoodle over the Vatican’s discipline of wayward religious.  Now, nobody ever said you HAD to be a Sister or a priest, so it seems reasonable that if you choose to be so, and the Church chooses to have you, then you have an obligation to play by their rules and they have an obligation to make sure those rules are followed.  It’s no different than playing a sport.  If you took to the mound at a ballpark and tried to pitch with a jai alai basket, and if the batter retaliated by using a cricket bat and circling the bases on a Vespa, maybe it would be fair, but it wouldn’t be baseball anymore.

In the same manner, priestly misconduct and coverup isn’t a reason for the rest of the faithful to up and ignore the Commandments at will.  And it certainly doesn’t mean that a far larger proportion of religious can be heterodox (or openly heretic) about faith and morals, and teach error to the faithful.  And the verbal smoke blown in all our faces to obscure the issue amounts to a gigantic waste of time.  It’s already wearying to answer a bad argument; how much more if the argument isn’t ever made, and we have to waste our time actually constructing it ourselves before refuting it?  By the time we get through, the person we’re answering will be on to the next, and besides, “That’s not what I meant, you’re just not nuanced enough to understand.”  That we don’t care for what little argument they’ve made, and that  it’s their own fault for being non-understandable, are dismissed as irrelevant and uncivil remarks, and we’re assholes who should die for saying such mean hurtful things.

The thing is, by constantly shifting ground like this, a dishonest person will often carry the day – they want to make it too tiring to keep up with them, so they can be free to do whatever they please.  When it comes to social institutions, however, they please primarily to act like parasites.  They feed off the life of the group without any contribution and rot them from within; when notice is finally paid and action is finally taken, they complain loudly that this is their home, now, and it’s mean to cast them adrift, and they’re the true genuine organism.  So might a cancer speak when the doctor comes to cut it out.

It was ever thus, perhaps; but now we have better tools.  A pferdkaese narrative could go unchallenged for years in the days of my youth because there were very few ways to get a reply out in public.  Why, everyone’s PC, and multicultural, and environmentally friendly!  Everyone says so, and in exactly the same way!  No need to sail for the Indies, we’re already there!  But new social media tools have shown us something we always suspected but could never demonstrate: the percentage of people falling into that “everyone” is well short of 100%, and might even be short of 50%.  Even those who agree on a what can differ on the why or how.  So, when Newsweek gamely splashes “We’re All Socialists Now” across their cover, their readership numbers crater and a mighty chorus begs to differ.  When the gatekeepers declare “The Science is Settled,” a good number of people (many of them actual scientists themselves) can take their case directly to the public.

Maps of old got more detailed and more accurate, and just as importantly, more accessible.  Our mental navigation systems are following suit.  The paradox of any map is that, the more “black and white” and precise it is, the more nuance is possible about where to go and how to travel.  Today I can drive the continent from one end to another, and hit a pinpoint across the country that I’ve never seen before, or if I wish, a pinpoint exactly three miles away; if I had to go off an atlas from the 18th century I would stand a fair chance of winding up in the wrong region entirely.  But the hard left is still in the Dark Ages when it comes to thinking through a topic from one end to the other, and they’re hurtling clear over the side and into the abyss.

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3 thoughts on “Falling off the edge of the world

  1. Severian June 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I like your characterization of what “nuance” means to a leftist — jargon and cant, mostly. It’s one of my favorite ironies about the academic biz — the reason they gussy up their deep thoughts with dictionary-busting words is, when you get right down to it, plain ol’ capitalism. The almighty dollar. Filthy lucre. It’s “publish or perish” out there, and the only way one can consistently publish is by finding “new” things to say. Since nothing’s really new under the sun, they’re constantly inventing alternative “theories” with which to “interrogate” the “discourse” — i.e. to say the same tired crap yet again, but in a slightly different venue. That, more than anything else, is why the road to tenure takes only left turns.

    It’s also why, I guess, they keep playing this game of informing religious people what their beliefs are really about. “Real” Catholicism is… well, whatever the catechism says it is, as I understand it. Claiming that “real Catholics” are on board with gay marriage, married clergy, etc. is like claiming “real baseball” is played with with a nine iron and croquet wickets. The point of the whole thing, for them, is yet another display of sophistry — they’re simply Better and Smarter Than You, and they’ll keep at it until you agree.

  2. House of Eratosthenes June 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

    […] serves up a big plate of solid, healthy, hot lean mental meat as he points back to us. In their [progressives'] world, nuance means verbiage and jargon and contextualization and all […]

  3. […] Read it. It’s hard to know which is worse: the progs’ pride in their “nuanced thinking” or the complete absence of any evidence of it in their actions.  Or – no – maybe that’s a little over-simple.  There is one way in which they show an amazing plasiticity, which no doubt fools them into thinking that they’re nuanced.  They are masters of winnowing out some measly sliver of a difference between what they are vociferously condemning and what they are in fact advocating or doing at the moment.  Then they project searchlight levels of wishful thinking at that sliver in the hope of casting enough of a shadow for them to hide in. […]

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