Post # 556 A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES

In his classic novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens dramatically portrays the intertwined lives of people, living in London and Paris, during the turbulent times of the French Revolution. In analogous fashion, the voter results of the recent Presidential election were a confirmation that the narrative history of the so-called, “United,” States is, effectively, a tale of two Countries, each fundamentally differentiated in culture and perception. The advent of the pandemic resulting in substantial damage to our previously questionable economy and the consequent disruption of normal interaction, was a clear demonstration of the eternal nature of the distinct dichotomy between our two categories of voter.

One Nation of voters, based upon its observation of Trump’s demonstrated incapacity, serial mendacity, profoundly demonstrated ignorance, unconstitutional behavior, and widely publicized and unabashed moral misbehavior, fully expected a complete blow-out victory for the societally mainstream, former Vice-President, Joe Biden. Should such citizens be questioned as to Trump’s incapacity, moral failings, mendacity and ignorance, there would be no reasonable expectation of re-election. The very substantial voter support on the part of the other segment of the population, voting for Trump who, as President, never evinced any doctrinaire position, demonstrates, by logical elimination, a wide-spread “cultural” inclination, empirically unrelated to the subject of virtues of the candidate.

What virtues, in fact, are the millions of loyal Trump supporters voting for, is the compelling question to be posed by understandably perplexed observers. We will cautiously and modestly, venture our considered answer to that compelling question, based solely, and admittedly, upon our decades long, personal perception and understanding of human behavior and affairs.

In a previous mini essay, we attempted to comprehend and portray that large segment of the dual-faceted population who observably, support Donald Trump. As stated above, such support is not at all doctrinaire nor related to the demonstrated level of efficacy of his four- year term of office. In our view, such empirical considerations to Trump voters, are irrelevant; they vote upon their personal perception of who is perceived to be a member of their tribe, or, put another way, on the “home team.”

In addition to those pathological air polluting, industrial giants, who value mega-profits above human life, and thus oppose health regulations, the large segment of the Nation which supports Trump, sees him in one of several possible imaginary subjective contexts, conducive to its respective personal fantasies. Perhaps, as a “strong leader,” a heroic fighter against the “system,” in which the voter has experienced failure, an unabashed opponent of the elite or highly educated class, an opponent of “foreigners who take away jobs,” a champion of white supremacy and of “law and order,” an unorthodox opponent of societal propriety,  a xenophobic patriot, protecting the Nation from foreigners and Socialism, a non-conformist outré, the champion and protector of masculine autocracy, the roadblock to liberal thinking in civil rights and immigration, the curator of an imaginary “ better old order,” the small- town common opponent of arrogant big cities, or some other abstract, neurotic or bizarre preconception.

The other segment of the Nation, clearly abhors the previous criteria and traditionally supports a Presidential candidate who demonstrates the expected, polar opposite of such enumerated characteristics ,such as capability, mature perception and demonstrated judgment, practical as well as academic knowledge, determined morality, ethical awareness, and rectitude in the proper application the Constitutional principles of equality and justice, viz., the “American Way.”

We have previously written on the subject of the death of civic amity, resulting, not only  in the absence of  amicable citizen debate,  so very useful in a representative democracy and as expected by our Founding Fathers, but the total absence of (friendly) social interaction between citizens of disparate opinion. This unfortunate situation is responsible for that portion of the nation, properly concerned with standards of rectitude and capability, to erroneously and naively assume that every voter makes his selection based upon demonstrated merit, and not on fantasied, neurotic perceptions as outlined above. Accordingly, such citizen-voters may be, understandably, bewildered by the substantial numbers of voters supporting the lack of professional and societal values characterized by Trump.

We have always been of the empirical understanding that any election is, essentially, a contest between competing and disparate portions of the electorate, every bit as much (or perhaps, more) than the representative candidates standing for election.

-p.

Post # 555 SAME OLD, SAME OLD

While the global population anxiously and impatiently, awaits the development of a safe and efficacious vaccine against the disease of Coronavirus, our attention may be diverted to an ancient and dangerous pathology, existing back since the reign of Emperor Constantine, the ruler of The Holy Roman Empire in the 4th Century. James Carroll, an ex-priest who authored the enlightened and fascinating book, “Constantine’s Sword,” which, in addition to the illuminating revelation that it was Constantine’s sword which, no earlier than the 4th Century, was the actual model for the symbol of the Christian Cross,  guides the reader through the origin of the historic hatred of the Jews by the Catholic Church ( including  the reigns  of Popes, Augustine, Innocent 3rd, Paul IV, Pius XII, John 11 and John Paul 2nd ) and an understanding of the historic origins of anti-Semitism.

To summarize the salient theme of the footnote referenced scholarly work, consisting of more than 500 pages, the pathological hatred, identified as anti-Semitism, had its actual birth by virtue of a tactical and  intensive program by Emperor Constantine and his Mother, Irene (creator of the myth of the “Robe”) with the express tactical intention to divide the age’s large extant population of Jews, using divisive propaganda and  slander, in their (successful) program to attract 4th Century Jews to  Christianity.

The eternally slanderous pathology and hatred (especially in Europe) as known, lived on and metastasized, exponentially, to cause, virtually uncountable and indescribable, egregious results, over the entire course of World  history, encompassing in addition to the well- known relatively recent “Holocaust,”  eternal generations of pogroms, inquisitions and other hateful tragic and homicidal travesties.

Occurring with the most virulent frequency in Europe, Jews were wrongfully blamed and prosecuted, as being responsible for plagues, most famously, Europe’s Medieval “Black Plague,” famine, absence of rainfall and other irrational and paranoid conceptions, viz., poisoning well water, abducting Christian children to drink their blood, of evil control of all the banks, and a great many other absurd and mob inciteful charges, all energetically bubbling up from the wide-spread primeval ooze of antisemitism.

The deadly pandemic of coronavirus set the entire World back on its rational heels, to the absurd extent of  evincing attempts by extremists from all facets of the political and social spectrum  to cast blame on the Jews, also blamed for the recent wrongful constabulary killing of George Floyd, akin in irrational absurdity to medieval charges of poisoning well water and the absence of rain. In Los Angeles, law enforcement was contacted after White Nationalist stickers from the right-wing, Patriotic Front movement were found on lamp posts adjacent to the Museum of Tolerance. In New York City.it became necessary in several instances, to affirmatively take official action to safeguard Jews and speak out against racism and hate.

An apparent rise in violent attacks on French Jews, motivated the French Government, recently, to station military troops at Jewish neighborhoods, schools, Synagogues and community centers. Recently, in Argentina, public lurid and revolting caricatures of Jews, have been shown as being responsible for the pandemic; many stating, hatefully, “Jews are the Virus, and “Argentines Awake to The World Jewish Dictatorship.” In our closest neighbor, Canada, the virulently anti-Semitic, Canadian Nationalist Party, publicly libeled all Jews, “Liars and Deceivers,” and as if that were not hatefully sufficient, as a “tribe of parasites,” “ police brutality is an Israeli export,” and finally, “Zionists are Nazis.”

We, at plinyblog, would take the liberty to conclude this writing, instructively, by the recitation of a few of the sage quotes from the brilliant writer, philosopher and death camp survivor, Elie Wiesel, who died in 2016:

“We must always take sides, Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed.

“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” and,

“Human suffering anywhere is the concern of men and women, everywhere.”

[Who can say it better!]

-p.

Post#544 MONUMENTAL ISSUES (a pliny Editorial)

Amidst an ongoing, virtually endless debate as to how to represent the darker periods of American history, the frequent media reports of despicable police brutality and homicide, shamefully practiced against unarmed black Americans, has empirically provided a catalyst for protests (by black and white citizens), popularly known by the heart-breaking mantra  “Black Lives Matter.” It has also reignited the movement by citizens of conscience to remove existing public statues and monuments which evince  racist, or discriminatory reference.

Unquestionably, the darkest and most shameful period of that history, existed throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, when black people were kidnapped from the Continent of Africa and brought in chains to this Country to be relegated to hopeless lives of cruel slavery. The acrimonious debate over slavery was the primary subject leading to the bloody and tragic Civil War.

The morally required progress toward universally equal status for people of color has eternally been resisted by those in our Nation, who seem to have a need, neurotic or otherwise, to irrationally and shamelessly adhere to the bogus belief in the purported superiority of people born with light skin over those gifted by nature with darker color skin. This irrational and dystopian Gulliver’s Travels or Alice in Wonderland predilection, has nevertheless, robbed millions of people born with black and brown skin of equality of treatment and opportunity in virtually every area of life.

Efforts by right thinking Americans, commencing with the nightmarish, post- bellum Reconstruction Period, to date, has resulted in substantial but insufficient, progress. Disappointingly, and admittedly, it appears that much of the empirical progressive change has had its impetus in mandatory legislation and legal precedent. A veritable Herculean challenge exists in evolving the atavistic and immoral mindset of too many “flat- earth” people to the emblematic American aspiration to universal equality.

The ongoing National desire for historical repentance and attainment of universal equity, catalyzed by the recent horrific uptick in police manslaughter of unarmed black Americans, has led to a more active National reckoning including a closer, more sensitized perception of public statues and monuments, deemed capable of memorializing or extolling the racial underbelly of the American past. Debates which seem to be occurring Nationwide, especially in the former Confederate States, seem to us as resolved into two camps: those who support the maintenance of these statues and monuments on arguments in favor of maintaining their historical value, versus those who believe that such claimed historic value, if any, is outweighed by their public insensitivity to the descendants of the victims of the memorialized historic period.

It is our firm opinion that the arguments for the preservation of these monuments on historical grounds are either specious or beside the point. We maintain that public monuments such as statues are empirically, a visible statement of the sentiment and current values of the community. The descendants of victims of America’s most egregious immorality, should logically and justly be vested with the decisional authority, concerning public monuments and statues, reasonably capable of perception as extolling the immoral institution of slavery.

Our stated view that public monuments articulate existing statements of community sentiment and values, is easily confirmed by the existence of the Statue of Liberty standing in New York harbor, since 1886, representing the Nation’s shared sentiment of express welcome to all fugitives of unjust governance and people who simply desire to immigrate to our land to find a better life. The Statue is an evident confirmation of our welcome hand (notwithstanding the opinions of our errant and unprecedented Presidential Administration) to all who desire to come to America.

The final determination of the contested public monument issue, appropriately and  logically, belongs to the people, who, in relatively recent American jurisprudence, were valued and determined, by its highest legal authority, the United States Supreme Court, to be mere “agricultural equipment,” or “chattels,” mandatorily returnable to their “owner.” (Dredd Scott v. Sandford, 1857, J. Taney).

-p.

Post # 553 CHRONIC COUCH POTATO DISORDER

Our eternal preoccupation, as confirmed in our writings, has been with the moral necessity of mankind to recognize and appreciate of the unique and generous award by Darwinian Evolution to homo sapiens of an advanced brain. We have maintained that such derived appropriate acknowledgement is to be impliedly expressed, (consistent with nature’s dynamic in the direction of progress of the species) by regular and continuing efforts towards mankind’s continued personal growth and maturity. The motivated individuals who have recognized such goals and availed themselves of the substantial abundance of varied pathways tending in that direction, have empirically found life to be fuller and more satisfying.

In our industrially- oriented society, the drive for commercial profits by the production and sale of goods and the delivery of services, has morphed into a perceived existential necessity, like the ancient mandatory obeisance to the ubiquitous Sun God. Individual human beings, in this evolved business context, accordingly, are pragmatically and coldly, evaluated in accordance with their perceived potential for the generation of profits for their employer. In man’s private life, disappointing to say, prestige is usually awarded dependent upon one’s personal accumulation of material reward, derived from work or business enterprise. The unvarying tempo of industrial society, in its eternal unyielding and grinding routine, results in the manufacturing of both, merchandisable goods and as a by- product, workers who functionally are semi-automatons, living their day orchestrated by the immutable exigencies of hourly production, scheduled meals and bedtimes, with meager time for family or elective, personal pursuits.

Individuals who nevertheless choose to judiciously use whatever leisure time is available (after performance of employment and family responsibilities) to ardently pursue elective interests, (such as writing, reading, painting, hobbies and crafts, music, collecting, gardening or one of the many others)  reportedly, experience a fuller and more satisfying life. From a more comprehensive perspective, engaging in such activities leads to self- advancement, growth of perspective and a sense of personal efficacy, resulting in substantial enhancement of mind, mood and joy of living. It also is responsible for the production of valuable and useful citizens in a representative democracy.

There are certain individuals who are devoid of any impetus toward pursuing an interest or activity, are disinterested in their surroundings, that dread leisure time and feel that each unstructured day not occupied in work is dull, meaningless and wearisome. Such an individual predicably retreats to the familiar predictable security of a soft couch for perpetual zoning out. He watches sports or inane television gameshows in the empty periods between suddenly occurring naps and may indulge in the excessive use of alcohol or drugs in aid of emotional survival during the unbearably empty voids between meals and bedtime. This not-uncommon vegetative varietal of the sapient species of homo sapiens, is anthropologically and functionally classified under the genus and species, “Couch Potato.”

The regular life- style of the chronic couch potato’s sedentary athleticism, often is predictable of various useless and negative concomitants. These may include,  extreme ennui, abusive behavior, anger and frustration with the (chosen) quality of life, rationalizing the same by fantasized attribution to some contrived explanation, the  inclination to irrationally and hatefully cast the blame on unrelated groups of people, or perhaps, assume imagined pseudo- status through bigotry. These individuals are useless as citizens, totally undesirable for social interaction, and as advised by the medical and psychiatric professions, especially prone to illness of all kinds and briefer longevity.

The cataclysmic advent of the present and ongoing pandemic of coronavirus, aside from its exponential threat to human health and life, may serve as a social laboratory in further confirming the efficacy of the subject principle. The call for prophylactic limitation on social interaction and medically recommended quarantine, predictably will result in its confirmation. The pandemic, spurred on and exacerbated by a shameful catalytic boost furnished by an incapable and ignorant Presidential Administration, has raged on for many deadly months with, reportedly, no signs of slowing down. The mandated limitations on social contact and quarantine programs consequently will continue as reported, for the foreseeable future. Those individuals whose lifestyle has valuably and wisely included, time permitting, elective life interests and pursuits, have the emotional capability, furnished by their developed inner resources, to patiently, perhaps, somewhat enjoyably, endure infinite the pandemic’s unpredictable course. We are generous in our decision to afford some sympathy to the chronic couch potatoes, who understandably will find the extensive period of time-out, virtually unendurable.

The contemporary pathology of coronavirus will in time be preventable by vaccination. However, the waste of precious life due to chronic couch potato syndrome, may never be curable.

-p. 

Post # 552 JOURNEYING INWARD

It should not be considered at all controversial, to declare that the practice of reading good literature is contributory to one’s depth of understanding, objectivity and maturity of perception. The acquired recognition of man’s universal problems and the artistic and relatable portrayal of the human condition, conveyed in compelling and stimulating language, furnishes the additional benefit of enjoyment. The plots, set in various venues and cultures, enables the expansion of horizons merely from an armchair.

Reading good poetry affords analogous benefits but valuably, directs a reader’s response further inward to his private aesthetic sensibility and most intimate imagination. Accordingly, both the creation and the experience of reading poetry differ markedly from prose literature. Poetry appeals to the reader’s aesthetic inner sensibilities by its signature use of simile, metaphor and nuanced metric; the latter varying with the poet and the emotional suitability of the selected subject. It is intended and read for its internal sense experience and pleasure, every bit as much as its meaning and discernable message. In contrast to the novelist who transports the reader by narrative to an outbound journey, the poet’s intended depiction is designed for the reader’s internal experience.

We are of the view that there would be considerably more readers of poetry, than there are, if its fundamental principles were more often empirically adhered to. Such foundational principles, in our view, have as much to do with the pleasure and understanding of this art form, as its authenticity as legitimate poetry. Great poets such as, Wordsworth, Frost, Whitman, Keats, Angelou and Dickinson, elevate the human spirit by brilliantly catalyzing its innate potential for insight and sensibility.

Prior to sharing our observations on the creation of poetics, we feel required to make a brief, but necessary, note as to what we have denominated “pseudo” poetry. We have often felt it necessary, in the interest of preserving the integrity of the fine art, to denigrate unesthetic rhyming verse, doggerel, Hallmark Card holiday schmaltz, and other forms of “counterfeit or pseudo poetry.” Written travesties, slanderously purporting to be poetics, sadly, have all too often been published, which resemble poetry to the same extent that bathroom cleaning fluid resembles a chilled and bubbly fine glass of champagne.

We have too often noted published writings, aspiring to qualify as poetry merely by their unorthodox appearance, utilizing broken, fragmentary sentences, or by the tactical use of complex, archaic or tactically selected obscure words, often in a bizarre or unorthodox context. The effect of this pseudo poetry, is to put the inexperienced poetry reader in an unfair position in which he feels insecurely challenged to derive its meaning or perhaps, whether he is being misleadingly induced to recognize the observed irrational juxtaposition of vocabulary, as art. To us, the explanation as to how this type of counterfeit gibberish ever finds accepting editors, shall remain forever, lost in the impenetrable mists of pseudo intellectualism and strained rationality.

As can be confirmed by our readers that we, ourselves, write and publish in this challenging and precious literary art form, designated as poetry, in this blog space, and ardently subscribe to its fundamental and defining requirements. Such basic criteria, eternally applicable in and to any and every age, genre, style and conception of the art, was best (and very simply) prescribed by the esteemed 18th Century English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His prescribed elements, mandatorily applicable to any writing, identifying itself as poetry, are, “word imagery” and “economy of speech.” These qualities have been and eternally are, the sine qua non of any writing, with aspirations to be denominated “poetry.”

In clear contrast with the selectively profuse and aesthetic vocabulary, in writings, characterized as a novel, the portrayal of image, scene or emotion, by poetry’s basic rubric of word imagery and economy of speech, call for markedly different skills. As illustration, a book or artistically descriptive article, might require several sentences, paragraphs or even pages (according to the nuanced style of the author) to describe the beauty and outstandingly attractive appearance of a young woman. In poetry we might convey the desired image using a brief simile like, “she was a red rosebud, on a drift of new snow.” Economy of speech and word imagery do require much thought, prodigious artistic energy and imagination, but, predictably, yield a memorable cornucopia of internal stimulation and pleasure.

Inarguably, the poet’s sensitive choice of words may be considered of  paramount importance, yet other important elements of a work of poetry are, necessarily to construe, such as length of line (and poem), and the metrics, governing the feeling or mood to be conveyed. We believe that the painstaking and selective choice of the exact words which would uniquely convey the specifically intended mood, feeling or image is vital, whereas any synonym would be impotently, useless. Mood and atmosphere, conveyed by length of line in conjunction with the selected tempo of the meter, is very clearly illustrated in Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha,” where, in the romantic Native American saga, the metric tempo is in sync with actual drum beats of an indigenous tom-tom. Meaningful meter is essential in aid of the feelings sought to be conveyed. This is also relevant to rhyming verse (which we do not favor, since we see rhyming as distractive from the emotional or pictorial image intended to be conveyed).

Essentially, we understand poetry to be an aesthetic distillation of empirical reality. Like the named process that occurs in a laboratory, the artistic extraction of the refined essence of metaphysical thought and experience, by poetry is the analytical portrayal of life by means of the artistic triggering of responsive human mind and emotion. To read authentic poetry is predictably to experience a meaningful and memorable journey within oneself. [Bon Voyage!]

-p.

Post # 551 SPEARFISHING IN ACADEMIA (a pliny Editorial)

We have close friends who happen to be instructors in the liberal arts as well as the professions, at local colleges.  We and these friends share compatible views on the issues of the day, including, the need for further significant progress in civil rights, the rectitude of governmental policies of empathy and assistance to the needy, and an enlightened concern for environmental issues, including global warming. In addition to the pleasure of social interaction, we have the stimulating benefit of hearing their views concerning their respective disciplines as well as being kept abreast of the events and contemporaneous atmosphere at their respective higher institutions of learning.

Before proceeding to our theme, for reasons of clarity and to avoid inaccurate assumptions by readers,  still unfamiliar with our known political and social philosophies, we would make the clear and unequivocal declaration, that we are, and have always been, zealous supporters of the principle of equal opportunity and civil rights for all, as well as commensurate social standing for all Americans. As can be noted, we, in our essays, have ardently endorsed the moral principles of equal justice and opportunity for all, as the only appropriately American way of life; and have eternally promoted full acceptance and amicable social interaction between all members of society.

At the same time, we have deplored those who, for any manner of unhealthy, immoral and un-American reasons, derive some atavistic, neurotic benefit from asserting the irrational principle of superiority of  light skin over dark, and who have asserted that preposterous Gulliver’s Travels style irrational delusion, by acts of discrimination against fellow Americans, gifted by nature with darker skin.

It must be borne in mind that slavery, the permanently shameful scar on American History, was legally ended in the middle of the 19th Century, historically speaking, a relatively short time ago. In recent decades, America has indeed made many significant positive changes regarding the previous unjust appraisal and rights, constitutional and otherwise, of black Americans, which, hopefully, will be pursued to its moral and legal completion. Much of the improvement in equality and justice, (and enforcement of the Constitution) was, by unfortunate necessity, effectuated by Statute and litigation. Healthy and appropriate moral improvement in the minds of (too) many citizens has yet to satisfactorily evolve and, unfortunate to say, it appears that it will take yet more earnest dedication and time to cure the pathology of bigotry. Until such time, it does seem appropriate and understandable that many of our affected minority fellow citizens are (justifiably) impatient.

The total absence of any responsible programs or needed National efforts regarding this important issue by the administration of President Trump, (to the contrary, his subtle support of hateful Christian White Nationalism) has not speeded up the unreasonably slow progress of the country’s moral evolution, to the goal of a fully just society. Nor (to our present theme) does the neurotic, egotistical arrogation of this validly existing major historical injustice, by an individual for personal use based on unrelated personal reasons, possibly help. This practice of personal piracy of this important issue may have its unrelated basis in an insecure persona or the projected and unrelated angst of personal life problems. Disappointed people who may, conceivably, based upon unrelated feelings of emotional stress, need to publicly exhibit such translated feeling of undisputed righteous empowerment, where not at all warranted, relevant or useful, by publicly and angrily asserting themselves regarding the subject of racial prejudice, do not further its amelioration.

Let us, for the moment return to those Collegiate instructor friends, discussed at the beginning of this mini essay, in order to proceed to our salient point. We would again confidently assure the reader that such friends are individuals who are, inarguably, enlightened, perceptive and free of prejudicial preferences, whose stated goals are only to impart to their students the required didactic information relative to their respective subjects. Each of them has, over time, related, several uncomfortable and insulting anecdotal incidents, in which an identified one or two students of color have suddenly interrupted the progress of their lectures by aggressive outbursts of rage, allegedly based upon the lecturer’s use of a vocabulary word or reference, claimed “racist” or bigoted. As specifically related, these sudden classroom outbursts are perpetrated as a shocking and insulting disturbance to the instructor; who, in each case, as advised,  does aspire to vocal sensitivity as to the potential nuanced perceptions of her selected words in the present context of minority injustice. Such alleged claims of racial insensitivity and insult have been related to us, by these instructors and we have generally found that the rendition of the “racially insensitive words” as related to us, indicate no reasonable or rational basis for a public affront of bigotry or a charge lack of racial sensitivity.

For analogic illustration, the reader has doubtless seen, in documentary film or magazines such as National Geographic, photographs of people, residing in the islands of the South Pacific, who, by tradition, fish with a spear, instead of a fishing rod. In “spearfishing,” the fisherman stands on the bank or in the shallows of a body of water and hurls his spear at the sudden perception of a fish deemed suitable for the family dinner table. With such analogy, we find that there appear to be modern day American people, understandably angered and disappointed by the slow progress on the road to racial equality, but who, for reasons, solely residing in their persona, attend at a lecture to await the possible appearance of a vocabulary word, with perceived potential for  interpretation (or misinterpretation) as racially insensitive and, like the alert spear fisher, abruptly hurl their angry accusations of bigotry, like a spear, at the surprised lecturer.

We are entirely supportive of the need for sensitive awareness, especially mandated in this unfortunate age of racial and sexual injustice, usually (mis-)named as “political correctness”. We are of the opinion that the word, “political” (but not the practice) is not relevant; the socially acceptable level of awareness is properly termed, empathic, or respectful, not political.) Every self-respecting, right thinking individual, (especially lecturers) with any degree of social awareness, is aware of the social and empirical necessity to choose his spoken words in accordance with their possible potential for nuanced interpretation or perception in an undesirable context, or as objectionable, to any group or ethnos. But the individual student who, with the intense scrutiny (analogous to the spear fisher) on the body of words, impatiently awaiting for a target (in lieu of the educational benefit from apprehending the contents of the lecture)  and analytically on the alert for the sudden utterance of a vocabulary word,  potentially capable of perception (or ultra-sensitive and manufactured misperception) as insulting to minorities, is in empirical effect, slowing the rate of necessary progress toward racial harmony and equality.

As an alternative choice to disruptively and angrily, hurling her (analogous) fishing spear, previously held at the ready, for the appearance of certain perceived evocative words, it would seem more beneficial to the cause of civil rights, considerate to the instructor, and additionally, more useful, sensitive and less selfishly disruptive to the conduct of the class, if the complainant chose to meet after class with the instructor, for a discussion of either, a more rational interpretation, or if otherwise appropriate, a newly informed and sincere apology.

-p.               

Post # 550 VOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM

According to the American theory of democracy, voting for President constitutes making a choice between two candidates, each respectively representing alternate philosophies on political, economic or social issues, for desired approval by the larger number of voting citizens. Fundamentally, a true republican democracy may be defined as a government’s policy of rule in accordance with the perceived will as expressed by the greater number of voting citizens. However, the bizarre abnormality of the Trump victory and performance has altered our perceptions and awakened us to an unprecedented, dysfunctional dynamic concerning the elective choices of a great many contemporary voters.  

We, and knowledgeably many others, have puzzled and agonized over the millions of Americans who are expected to vote for Trump, despite his well-known incapacity regarding the stewardship of the Nation, both domestically and internationally, his rejection of accepted moral values, his serial mendacity, his lack of empathy towards the unfortunate, his lack of sufficient comprehension or acumen concerning his office, his lack of respect for academic education, gender and racial prejudice, absence of empathy and assistance toward the disabled and needy, his financial dishonesty, disloyalty to his Nation by transacting business with its historic enemies, his lethal malpractice concerning the pandemic, his denial of science, including global warming and the environment in general, and a plethora of other matters, not to overlook his  tacit and shocking endorsement of White Christian Nationalism.

Moreover, President Trump has never given evidence of any held political, social or economic position, and it is authoritatively reported that he lacks doctrinaire beliefs on any subject. He is known, to act on and decide issues, ignorantly and impulsively, following the most recent advice proffered by any confident appearing faux savant. The latter being empirically demonstrated, the desire to support him, by elimination, must reside in considerations that are exclusively financial, cultural or sociological.

To digress for the purpose of offering an explanatory analogy, we would initially point to the sociology of small- town America. An assertion that all the residents of such a venue would root for the home team in any sporting contest would be to state the painfully obvious. Such unanimity of support would be solely based upon residence, as compared with any other criteria, such as considerations of proficiency or character. Not to do so, or far worse, to root for the opposing team would constitute unpardonable and, no doubt, unforgettable, residential treason.

Additionally, there exists an amorphous conglomerate of voters, not unlike the inhabitants of the small town, who consistently and loyally, vote for candidates thought to be (tribally) preferred by their group or supportive of its jointly held position. Crucial matters like the character and capability of the candidate is not relevant to their interest, which is solely focused on his perceived position on the specific topic of interest.  

Polls taken and authoritative studies conducted, consistently indicate that young white men without college degrees (lower educated whites) tend to support Trump, while white young men with college and advanced degrees are opposed to him. The latter findings may indicate a self-conscious and mutually defensive tribal disrespect for education and academic achievement. It has been noted that it is within the groups of uneducated white young men that are  those sharing the sentiments of the repulsive white Christian Nationalists, winked at by Trump, and guilty of many destructive incidents and even homicide.

Rural areas often populated by many inadequately educated and unsophisticated people evincing anti-Big City sentiment, will predictably favor Trump over any opponent. Common vulnerability to tactical demagoguery can lead to the displacement of blame for felt inadequacies and facilitate an identification with a less literate and unsophisticated candidate, regardless of capability and known low character.

We fully expect that anti-abortion and anti-gun regulation people to vote for Donald Trump since his opposition is publicly known to be in favor of a woman’s right to abortion and is a proponent of the prudent regulation of firearms. For similarly unjust and anti-societal reasons, people who privately harbor bias in their heart, will vote for Trump. These groups or tribes of single-issue voters, are willing to ignore or overlook considerations of poor character and incapacity.

A large conglomerate of people who are unrelated but who, in common, are angry and discontented with their life for various and sundry reasons and who uniformly, find it useful to employ the trite, face-saving predilection, to blame “the establishment” (?) for their failures, and who perceive Trump’s unorthodox, unprincipled acts and errant behavior as anti-establishment and thus relatable to their defensive assertions, will vote for him.

Large industrial polluters, in their own mutual pecuniary interest, will  vote for Trump, regardless of how poor, unconscionable and embarrassing his performance in office, because he, like they, immorally and psychopathically, values profit above the life and health of citizens and thus opposes governmental health protective regulations.

The foregoing is certainly not presented as a complete accounting but, hopefully, is enough to be sufficiently illustrative of some of the personal motivations to vote for a President like Trump. The point especially to be noted, is that not one of the described criteria of the cited voting groups or interests relates to character or capability, but are instead, mono focused on the candidate’s position on issues with which they are concerned. Like the small towner’s eternal vote for the home team, such voter support is not related to any consideration of the performance record, the poor character of the candidate nor his views.

-p

Post # 549 THE DYSTOPIAN STATES OF AMERICA

Initially, we were undecided about the more accurate description of our contemporary Nation,  “Post-Apocalyptic,” referring to a mortally damaged Nation following an Armageddon type disaster, such as portrayed in the novels, “The Road”, By Cormac McCarthy and “The Silence,” by Tim Lebbon, or, a “Dystopian” Nation, as presented in the “Handmaid’s Tale,” by Dorothy Atwood and “1984” by George Orwell. Regarding the first category, the qualifying horrific disaster might be the ill-fated election of Donald J. Trump to the office of the President of the United States. The Alice-In- Wonderland category, “Dystopian,” is attributable acceptably to the warped nature of our altered American society, which emerged after that tragic election result. We came to the determination, that the more descriptive choice was “Dystopian,” for the reason that its existing surreal nature is due to aberrant social change, and not a silent state of still smoking ruins, caused by a nuclear bomb or scientific experimental excess.

Any wide-awake person can observe the rancor, tribal divisiveness and complete lack of civil amity between Americans holding diverse views, the frightening growth of White Christian Nationalism, the evil excesses, the many abuses by Municipal Police including homicide( particularly against unarmed black citizens), the overt practice of bigotry, racial, religious and gender, the widespread citizen possession of lethal weapons, the disrespect  for governmental authority and Law in general, the violence, the pathological disregard for human life and health by large industrial profiteering polluters, the general disrespect for learning, scholarship, arts and good music as opposed to populist,  temporary,  and superficial diversion, the xenophobia and opposition (by our own immigrant Nation) to immigration, the disbelief in well- proven Darwinian evolution, the opposition to woman’s rights of family planning, the frequent child and spousal abuse, the utter disregard for environmental issues, including the existential threat of global warming, the eschewing of family responsibility, the excessive use of  alcohol and drugs, the derogation of the respectable and authoritative press, in favor of the tabloid extremist media, the lack of support for programs of government compassion for the needy (even when against their interests), and other acts, incompatible with a civilized and peaceful society.

The American mainstream of law abiding and responsible citizens, are unjustly affected by this large cohort of miscreant citizens whose actions are detrimental to societal good order and function. The logical question may be posed, where did these malevolent actors come from, and when did they arrive? This question, in fact, is the intended theme of this writing.

Our view, is that individuals inclined to such anti-societal expression, have eternally, but covertly, been here, existing in sub rosa fashion, below the visible strata, pending an opportunity to reveal themselves when perceived to be publicly tolerable and permissive. The universal atmosphere created by the election and re-election of Barack Obama, an avatar of Presidential capability and excellent character, was certainly not conducive to the self-disclosure of these unsavory individuals. The surprising elevation of the miscreant and unconventional Donald J. Trump to the American Presidency, had the energizing and functional effect of a catalyst for the awaited green (orange?) light to, all those repressed anti-societal ideologues and low information flat earthers, to publicly arise from their protective cover in the anti- intellectual and perverse human dumpster, and manifest their malevolence.

Despite the hope, expressed in many of our essays, for the success in the encouragement of self-advancement of these flat-earth, poorly informed people (See, for ex. recent blogpost, “Infodemic”) we candidly, have little practical expectation that a person, living his  lifestyle in the thoughtless, mental couch potato world of atavistic, dark ages America, will respond positively to sincere encouragement and evolve to a more enlightened, informed and meaningful existence; but we are morally obliged to keep trying, especially regarding the young. The rest of America, living in the societal mainstream, who read newspapers and books, and honestly possess a positive self-image as an enlightened citizen, must continue to maintain its positive outlook, nonetheless, and continue to vote in accordance with its informed and considered opinion.

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Post # 548 (poesie) SELF-FULFILLMENT

I never truly got to scratch
That way down deep eternal itch
Nor ever wrote the sort of words
That changed the reader and his world

I never braved a mountain peak
Or dove in water from a cliff
Nor ever garnered world-wide fame
Or got the adulation of the crowd

My happiness, tho’ does consist
In stuff that’s simpler, yet more profound,
The fall planting of yellow tulips
And the priceless gift of loving hugs.

-p.

Leonard N. Shapiro (Oct 2020)

Post # 547 THE INFODEMIC

Relying on past experience and taking into consideration, the ongoing fervent rate of intensive scientific research, it is reasonable to suppose that a relevant vaccine will be developed soon to assuage the threat of the present coronavirus epidemic. An enormous variety of diseases to date, have been prevented by the development and public administration of vaccines including, diphtheria, flu, mumps, polio and pneumonia. By bright contrast, we have scant assurance that the long-standing pathology of ignorance and misinformation, which we have labeled, “the infodemic,” will be abated, anytime soon.

It is inarguable, that a thoughtful man, in deciding, whether or not to act, and if so, the chosen nature of his action, or to refrain from acting altogether, is completely reliant upon his apprehension of relevant information, real or perceived. It might well be said that lack of information, or worse, misinformation, depending upon the circumstances, may be more societally toxic than any selected medical pathology.

The very existence of society, from the homo sapiens Paleolithic era to date, has vitally  depended upon a commonly understood language and man’s consideration and response to acquired or received information, ranging from matters of interactive socialization to those of urgent and existential nature. With the acquisition of accurate information, patients get healed from dire disease, bridges are properly erected, families are shielded from harm, and businesses and careers prosper. With inadequate or misleading information, buildings collapse from poor engineering, people lose their way, dinner is burnt, superstition and bigotry are accommodated, and errors, big and small, are facilitated.

In our view, the most colossally tragic result of misinformation, was the American participation in the Vietnam War (1950’s to the mid 75’s). The war was not only costly in blood (58,000 deaths, 1,601 MIA) and treasure, but effected a deep and enduring schism in our population. Violent, as well as peaceful protests erupted throughout the country, disrespect for the mainstream of  life was expressed through the growth of a young drug  culture, hippies (“make love not war”), famously publicized by the cinema and the historic, 1969 Woodstock Festival, divisions within families, and general disrespect for authority.

General Robert S. McNamara was the architect- in- chief of this travesty and, with many others, oversaw the nationally promulgated and propagandic proposition, that unless we stopped the Communists  in North Vietnam, (“containment”) that an entire “Communist Bloc” would ensue, consisting of China, Korea, the various countries of Indochina (Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia) constituting an existential threat to the United States and the democratic world. The numbers of troops and civilians killed and horribly disabled was uncountable, the domestic affairs of our Nation were traumatized by deep division and street protests, and America’s traditional brand of peace and justice was tarnished forever.

Not very long after the two decades long, painful wait for the unpopular war to end, Robert S. McNamara, himself, the orchestral conductor and popular steward of this unwarranted, bloody war, authored a book, “Lessons Learned From Vietnam,” in which he purported to apologize for his mistake as the chief architect of the wasteful, tragic and costly war, in that (he claims) he did not know that the countries which he warned would join together in a Communist led Armageddon, were in truth, historically,  mutual enemies, so that no practical threat of a “Communist Bloc was ever possible. The Nation had been grossly misinformed causing irreparably major damage to its previous moral standing, tens of thousands of military and civilians were killed and maimed, and the Nation’s Treasury, along with its name, took a serious nose- dive. Misinformation, or lack of it, apparently, can accrue small or Olympian size repercussions.

As an aside, we, at plinyblog do not, for a moment, belief that McNamara’s apology, for this colossal dissemination of misinformation, purportedly realized by him, suddenly, after two decades of major bloodshed to be in the slightest degree credible. But this, for a future essay. We are here discussing the pathology of wide-spread ignorance or the dissemination of wrongful information (“the infodemic”)

The provenance for damaging misinformation du jour is confidently bestowed upon the inept, corrupt and egocentric (former second- rate television gameshow host) President of the United States) Donald J. Trump.  (See: plinyblog # 546 “Schadefreude Vindicated”). From his first days in Office, Trump, solely interested in “winning,” with little or no understanding or capability to perform the complex and multi-faceted job of POTUS, was relegated to a program of defensive  mendacity, and attacks on the critical  media, including the prestigious New York Times and Washington Post, as purported perpetrators of “fake news.” His defensive program of anti-media rants, apparently, appealed to those inadequately educated and poorly informed “flat earth” supporters (his loyal “base”) who were largely responsible for his election victory. To their delight, and to the dismay of the informed citizenry, he embarked on a program to minimize factual truth and with his tactical, but ignorant mendacity, issue statements that have little resemblance to actual reality; while simultaneously attacking accurate media accounts of events,  as “fake news.” We have observed in past writings that any serious programmatic attack upon the dissemination of vital information is anti-societal and dangerous.

The (fool’s) gold medal for disinformation and mendacity, is inarguably awarded to Trump, as delineated in past writings. In essay “#546” cited above, we noted his covering up of the serious and lethal significance of the coronavirus, burlesquing and mocking medically preventative advice and useful information given by the nation’s health experts, and his broadcasted misinformation, caused tens of thousands of unnecessary cases of illness and death. As the “President” his ignorance and tactically false information was relied on, illustrating the hazard and danger of misinformation, intentional or ignorant.

These two examples of the disastrous impact of inadequate information or misinformation are by no means (except for scale) at variance with the information problem that characterizes by far too many Americans. In many of our mini- essays, we have lamented the public’s metastasizing disinterest in activities which promote self- advancement and the acquisition of knowledge. Over recent decades we have, most regrettably, observed a decline in the reading of good literature, interest in the arts and educative pursuits in general, in favor of ephemeral and superficial diversion. Such surrender to the status of mental couch potato, in time, predictably, results in a useless and low information citizen lacking in considered thought or opinion on any matter, except basic creature comfort. It is this limited individual who never develops an independent persona with its own confident perception of objective rectitude and no aspiration to learn about life and the world around him. His felt insecurity when unavoidably confronted with the perception of informed and aware others, results in insecurity and makes him vulnerable to demagoguery and a needed sense of belonging, by surrendering his mind to tribal, or “group think.”

It is our considered view that such low information mindlessness, evangelized by demagoguery and financially supported by unconscionable (anti-health regulation) big money corporate interests to vote for the most incapable, ignorant and egotistical Presidential in American history. We have often quoted the admonition of Thomas Jefferson to the effect that, for a Democracy to succeed, it requires an informed and literate public. This fundamental requirement was negatively confirmed, by the elevation of an ignorant travesty like Donald Trump to the Oval Office. It is instructive that from the first day of his surprising ascendancy to office, Trump initiated his ongoing, defensive attack on science, education and the press, by his mendacity and the regular dissemination of false information.  

A disappointingly large segment of our population seems fixedly resolved to rely on outmoded, and disproven thinking, rather than on developments in empirical science and medicine, on aphorism, on  bug-a-boos and taboos against vaccination, on the denial of the well- proven theory of Darwinian evolution, on the foolhardy denial of climate issues (in the face of confirmation by a consensus of the world’s leading scientists), by its disbelief in astrophysics and in scholarly revelations concerning the origins of the Universe and the Earth, in the denial of equality of the sexes (and races) and the acceptance of homosexuality and same sex marriage, in psychotherapy, in environmental issues, in birth control and rational family planning and in genetic research.    

 There does not seem to be an empirical possibility of a corrective vaccination for this problem. The enlightened and discerning citizen should, alternatively, consult the responsible media on current issues and, if felt warranted, pursue his own independent inquiry, by the use of authoritative sources to ascertain and confirm the desired accurate facts.

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