(Linked to this.)
Archive for QOTW
One Fine Jay, on one mostly-lousy year:
As a cultural observer, I can sum up 2018 as an immense dick measuring contest of public piety.
It wasn’t enough to be not racist; one was required to demonstrate how anti-racist one is. It wasn’t enough to to live a quiet life of virtue; one was required to demonstrate to that virtue in the name of public approval.
This pharisaism combined with the rat-race, competitive, and individualist nature of American culture led to the infamous Summer of Snitches in 2018: the Barbecue Beckys, Permit Pattys, Pool Pass Patricks, are all children of the same whore. They didn’t even care they were being filmed. In their minds they were doing the right thing.
Here in Baltimore we have someone who enters restaurants, engages the patrons as obnoxiously as possible, films their reactions, then claims to be a victim of racism as he earns money through his YouTube channel. His victims become targets of harassment from his followers.
I enjoy my time on social media but that’s because I have rules for myself and those whom I follow or engage. I’ve come around years ago that call-out culture is toxic and unhelpful. Outrage culture is just as bad.
I think that after the madness that 2018 felt like, it’s time we personally took steps to not feed that beast. If you kept in mind that no amount of good you do will inoculate you from attention to your negatives, perhaps you’ll learn to do good for its own sake, quietly and humbly, so as to not draw attention to yourself and your virtue. You can’t be milkshake ducked if you’re more a rumor than a legend.
But more importantly, the faux spirituality offered by social media engagement needs to be an idol we smashed, and to do that, we need to recognize that we have bowed to that idol more than we are willing to admit.
We need to rediscover the value in letting your neighbor be; and the value in being left alone. Public life through social media will draw us away from those values. It will demand we tell on our neighbors to draw attention away from our own faults. It’s already a totalitarian environment; we just tell ourselves it isn’t.
But remember this, for 2019: perhaps our greatest freedom is not from the government but from each other.
It might be worth trying. What else have we got to lose?
We often joke that Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World are not a three volume how to manual. For some people though, they are, we’ve got we’ve got fricking “Trust and Safety Councils” that turn anyone
with the correct politicswho hate the right people this minute into members of their little Stasi. With the power to control the information and to deny people financial services if they hold unpopular views, comes incredible power for mischief.
All it takes to bring about this dream of the anointed is for each of us to say “That guy’s an asshole! He deserves what he gets. That bitch over there had it coming too, serves her right.” and be silent, or smug, or report the asshole to the Trust and Safety Council. Then, because every one of us is an asshole to someone, we’ll be kept in our place by the very crab bucket culture we are nurturing while the archdukes and marquesses of Palo Alto tend their crop by cutting off any poppies that grow too high.
With that coming to pass, like the Greek City States before it, the 300 year aberration that is the enlightenment will disappear into the 300,000 year+ history of humanity as a short lived deviation from the mean. Things relating to freedom will go back to much as they were for the majority of that time, albeit with rather less ability to express heretical thoughts.
We’re going to Serf City, ’cause it’s two to one: two silencers for every voice.
Most of us don’t face much in the way of threats on a daily basis, and this costs us something in personal development:
I promise you, no medieval peasant ever lost a minute’s sleep asking himself what’s the meaning of life — when you’re locked in a desperate struggle for existence, day in and day out, the point of it all is pretty self-evident. Nowadays, you can get well into middle age before encountering death, and very few of us, I’d imagine, have actually seen someone die. Dying, in modern America, is a drawn-out, ritualized, abstract event, not a regularly-experienced part of life. We all know theoretically that we can get cancer, or die in a car crash, or get struck by lightning, but there’s no immediacy to it. Back in the days, death was all around, all the time. I’d bet good money that the average medieval peasant saw more death, even violent death, than the average American soldier, even in wartime.
I have seen someone die. But I wasn’t a soldier at the time.
We moderns, when faced with the question of life’s purpose — as anyone of sufficient IQ will be — have no answer that makes gut-level sense. In a world where death is a constant companion, where life’s fragility is daily hammered home, “live each day as if it were your last” is an expression of transcendental meaning. For us it’s a Hallmark card slogan. We need something, anything, to make us feel that any given day might, in fact, actually be our last. The medical term for this is hormesis — growth in response to non-lethal stress. We’re designed to optimize it — can’t live without it, in fact, which is why prosperity is lethal.
Hence, radical politics. Everyone who has studied Marxism, especially its modern oxides like “intersectionality,” knows that despite its formidable technical apparatus, it’s all just ooga-booga stuff. Marxism’s appeal is, and always has been, purely emotional. “Hate the man who is better off than you are” is the truest explication of Marx’s gospel, and since nothing stirs the blood like hate does, hating the man who is better off than you are — and who isn’t, at least in some sense, if you think about it long enough? — is easily mistaken for hormesis. The point of life is to create Utopia; the fact that Utopia (“no place” in Greek) doesn’t exist and can never exist is a feature, not a bug.
The problem, of course, is that you can never admit Utopia is impossible … which necessarily entails blaming some Other for Utopia’s failure to exist. That’s the richest part of the Marxist lexicon: The Enemies List. Wreckers, capitalist-roaders, right-deviationists, left-deviationists, kulaks, Trotsky, Lin Biao, Emmanuel Goldstein … Marxists have fantastic imaginations, and never more than when finding someone or something to blame. At one point, Mao himself blamed sparrows for sabotaging the Great Leap Forward.
And here on the cusp of 2019, everything is the fault of Trump, white nationalism, hate speech, Trump, the Republican party, voter suppression, sport-utility vehicles, and Trump. No arguments to the contrary can be accepted.
(Linked to this.)
(Linked to this.) [Warning: autostart video.]
American elections send a variety of messages, and this one may be the most important:
[M]ost important of all as I consider it is the message our voting sends to the office holders and candidates whose names are on the ballots. The people who have sapped our phone minutes with robocalls. The people who have stuffed our mailboxes with campaign literature that used to be beautiful trees. The people whose television, radio and online ads filled every available nook and crevice like a foul sludge. The people who told us that they embodied all of the best of the wisdom of the great founders of our nation almost as though they were those very founders raised again to walk the earth. The people who told us that although they were not here to go negative, they did feel it was important to ask why their opponents could produce no evidence that they never played foosball with the bleached skulls of shelter puppies.
And the message we send to half of them is this: Leave us alone, and go get a job. To the other half we say: Leave us alone, and get back to work. After some six months or more of listening to them, we are finally able to make them listen to us, and it is a wonderful feeling indeed.
My condolences to anyone who’s been thrust into Recount City.
Henry Louis Mencken, from back in the day:
The state — or, to make the matter more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
(As quoted in Charting the Candidates ’72 (1972) by Ronald Van Doren, p. 7, and by Roberta X this week.)
First, a Trump-loving Florida Man sends pipebombs (functional or not) to variety of Democratic politicians and media figures. Yesterday, a Trump-hating anti-Semite murdered 11 people in a synagogue during a bris.
While I’m sure that there will be all sorts of recommendations for how to prevent future tragedies, I’m going to repeat an observation and a prescription I’ve made here more than once. The observation is that in a country of 330 million people there are always going to be a certain number of crazy people and it doesn’t take much to set them off.
The prescription is lower the temperature and it’s addressed to people writing on social media, people writing for major news outlets, politicians, and, particularly, President Trump. Lower the temperature. Express disagreement without rancor, your concerns without heat. Whipping up the crowd may be an effective way of motivating your supporters but it also has consequences you may not foresee.
As Robert Stacy McCain reminds us: Crazy people are dangerous.
A poor farmer whose livestock is a single dairy cow goes to the field one morning to milk the cow and discovers that she’s dead. He falls to his knees and looks skyward, shaking his fists and cursing God for his misfortune. Suddenly a voice is heard from the heavens: “Your cries have reached me, my son. Tell me what you would like me to do.” The farmer gazes upward and says to God, “Please, Lord, kill my neighbor’s cow.”
A hundred years from now, this will be retold as an American tale.
“Party culture”? Totally a thing, says Fillyjonk:
I didn’t get invited to the parties. I didn’t get invited to do anything much. I had friends, but a lot of them were kids who lived out of town (one, in a trailer home in the next town over; she was the first person I heard the epithet “Trailer trash” applied to, and I found that both exasperating and confusing because she was one of the kinder and least-trashy people at that school). I had other friends who came from fairly strict or very devout and rather conservative-theologically (Protestant) families, so they would not have been involved in party culture.
Anyway: I was the weird, somewhat-immature kid who cared a lot about learning and who spent her weekends hanging out with her family and a few friends (but just during the day, except for v. rare sleepovers and then only with well-trusted friend-families) or sewing doll clothes or working on her dollhouse (to an embarrassingly late age).
I didn’t fit in. I SO didn’t fit in. And that pained me a lot. At one point — I know I’ve talked about this before — I tried to listen to either the local “Top 40” station or to WMMS (the “bad kids” listened to ‘MMS, the popular girls listened to Top 40) instead of WCLV, which was what I really liked and cared about. (But I still listened to “Adventures in Good Music” with my dad: we both liked it)
So anyway. This is a longwinded way of saying all the gross stuff coming out in the news? Whether or not the parties in particular question were involved, I totally know that gross stuff happened in different places that had that kind of middle/upper-middle class milieu — the preppies. I heard rumors. I heard boasting. I saw the hungover people and heard the stories of people who wound up in hospital with alcohol poisoning.
And I had an enormous epiphany this morning:
My not-fitting-in may have saved me, in a way.
Because I was the weird kid who didn’t get invited to parties, who felt like the popular kids didn’t want her around, I didn’t get exposed to that stuff directly. (And I could mostly roll my eyes and laugh off some of the rumors as exaggeration, though I think there may have been less exaggeration than 15-year-old me wanted to believe.)
Life would be easier if we had had these revelations when we thought we really needed them, instead of three decades later — but as Sir Mick pointed out back in the day, if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.
The aphorism, says Gagdad Bob, is a sort of skeleton key: a key that has been reduced to its essentials so as to open many locks.
If words have no meaning, reality has no content.
If reality were socially constructed, man could never know it.
Liberalism was a fine idea until liberals got ahold of it.
If you’re really serious about eliminating inequality, you’ll abolish freedom and standards.
Without state-mandated discrimination, excellence would run roughshod over mediocrity.
If no culture is superior to another, then you can shut up about diversity.
Diversity is our strength so long as reality isn’t at issue.
Any idiot can survive poverty. The question for our time is whether he can survive affluence.
And any idiot can survive and even thrive in certain types of ignorance. But there is a serious question as to whether civilization can survive so many of its members attending college.
Junk food is designed to hijack certain innate preferences with hyper-palatable stimuli. Likewise, modern education hijacks the natural inclinations of the soul with intensely pleasurable substitutes that lead to spiritual and intellectual malnourishment.
Probably our spiritual decline would have arrived a century earlier had we not been disciplined by economic depression and global conflict.
Affluence is a terrible master. Its obnoxious spawn are entitlement, ingratitude, impatience, and boredom.
Convenience and instant gratification render the existence of time an intolerable imposition.
The ranks of the Resistance are filled with people who can resist anything but an impulse.
Female liberation is mostly a consequence of male technology. You’re welcome.
He’s good at these.
So, a Dallas PD douchebadgette “walks” into the wrong apartment after her shift (we call that breaking and entering for mere mortals), gets into a verbal altercation with the rightful resident (disturbing the peace), shoots him (aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon), and he dies (murder in the second degree). That’s murder with a firearm during the commission of a felony, under color of authority, which invokes both special circumstances and federal criminal civil rights violations as well.
So DPD decides to see if she was high or drunk, and put her on paid admin leave.
Instead of, say, arresting her on the spot, booking her for felony murder, and setting her bail at about $1M, like they would have if the citizen of color she wrongfully murdered for being in not-her-apartment were the offending party.
Here, let’s break down the algorithm for that:
Did you shoot him? Yes.
Were you justified? No.
Were you then, in actual fact, in the act of committing a felony? Yes.
Okay, turn around, put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest for murder. Easy peasey, just like it works everywhere else, for everyone else, going back some centuries, even several millennia. We call that quaint custom “justice.”
In case this wasn’t clear:
When the yakuza have more honor and discipline than the police in your (or any other) town, your civilization is completely FUBAR’ed, and riding an express train to a biblical level of resetting. That train will arrive. You heard it here first.
Being a cop is a tough job. It’s even tougher when you’re stupid. But it’s tougher for everyone, cop or not, when you commit murder, and then TPTB treat you with kid gloves for fucking up in the worst way legally possible, instead of justly hammering your ass for killing people because you’re too incompetent to be trusted with a firearm and a badge.
That means you get held to a higher standard of accountability than Joe Blow, not a lower one.
Crap like this has been going on for entirely too long, and for no good reason, it’s not been nipped in the bud.
When you use words and phrases like “horrible fascist regime” to describe the Trump Administration, you are wantonly destroying any power that those words and phrases might have to warn people of authentic NASDAP-style fascism in the future. The irony here is that Trump was elected because people like you used your “power words” like “racist” and “sexist” and “fascist” to describe people like GHWB and Mitt Romney and John McCain. You used those words so often that you effectively inoculated sensible people against them.
Twenty years ago, if I heard that someone was a “racist” I took that accusation seriously and it changed the way I looked at them.
Today, if I hear that someone is a “racist” I assume that it’s a hyperbolic accusation born from political differences.
You’re doing the same thing to “fascist”. You’re using it to describe a man who is to the left of Reagan. So guess what? In 2048 when some Generation Z fellow runs on a platform of racial purity and mass murder, everybody is going to shrug at “fascist” the way they shrug at “racist” and “sexist” now. Great work.
Furthermore, when you call Trump a fascist, you are spitting in the face of the six million Holocaust victims and all of the other people who were assembly-line murdered by an actual fascist regime. You are trivializing their deaths. You are making light of their suffering. Earlier this week I explained to my son how the Nazis melted the gold out of Jewish teeth before sending them to the camps. You’ve taken that horror and used it to score political points against somebody who campaigned with a rainbow flag, somebody who received the highest rating from Jesse Jackson, somebody who has donated his own money to democratic and humanitarian causes over and over again.
You don’t know what a Nazi is. You’ve never met one. All the real Nazis were handled for you well before you were even born. If you walked around the corner and met a resurrected 19-year-old blonde, blue-eyed corporal of the Waffen SS you would piss your pants and run away. You live in a cotton-candy padded-cell world protected on all sides by cops, soldiers, and other “fascists”.
And the distance imposed by the very nature of the Internet. Any idiot can tweet, and many do; but people who will actually put themselves at risk to “speak truth to power,” as the children say, are few and far between.
Electricians, plumbers, machinists, masons, artisans of all stripes … these guys make nice middle class salaries, and they can’t be outsourced. Trump could use the bully pulpit to rail against this totally unfounded idea that only slack-jawed yokels go into the trades. It’s an easy sell — we’ve all been in a situation, I’m willing to wager, where we said “damn, if only we had a mechanic here!” I’d wager an equal amount that no one, anywhere, at any time in history, has said “if only we had someone with a BA in Intersectional Latinx Poetry!”
I might say it at some point, just for S&Gs. Or maybe not; I dislike sounding like an idiot, and one cannot pronounce “Latinx” without it.
Money is a very strange concept. There will be points in the forthcoming months when you might not have the change in your pockets to get the bus into town at the same time as you are talking to people on the telephone in terms of tens of thousands of pounds. Some of the following might seem contradictory but in matters of money they often are. We spoke earlier of how being on the dole gives you a clearer vision of how society works. What it doesn’t do is give you a clear idea of how money works.
After you spend any time on the dole you either resign yourself to the economic level your life is at and cope — or things start to slide. The rent gets into the arrears. The electricity goes unpaid. The gas board threatens to cut you off. When this starts happening a paranoia begins creeping in telling you modern society is geared to working against the individual and YOU in particular. The late eighties reaction to this is invariably to realise that the only way out is for you to become suddenly very rich and none of this will matter any more. You will start to fantasise about becoming very wealthy and how very shortly it will happen to you. You only have to make the smart move, find the right key, make the right contact, be discovered for what you are. Your fantasy will be fuelled by everything.
Nobody wins the pools. There is no such thing as a fast buck. Nobody gets rich quick. El Dorado will never be found. Wealth is a slow build, an attitude to life. I’m afraid the old adage that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves is always true. That said, you must be willing to risk everything — that’s everything you haven’t got as well as you have got — or nothing will happen.
Nothing much has changed in three decades, has it?
Then again, as we were told, time is eternal:
His novels rested on a journalist’s reporting and his journalism had fiction’s flair, perhaps because he did not simply write words the way we do when we’re just communicating information. Wolfe used language — every facet of it on which he could lay his hands. Funky punctuation? All of those literary devices we were supposed to memorize in English class like alliteration or onomatopoeia? Multiple voices in narration and dialogue? All of those and more. If Winston Churchill was supposed to have mobilized the English language and sent it into battle, Wolfe mobilized it and sent it out to help people understand an increasingly weird and troubling world. It may sound like a much lower goal, but all Churchill had to do was defeat the Nazis. Wolfe had to explain why people paid money for a Jackson Pollock painting.
A difficult task indeed.
The phrase “America First” comes with a whole lot of historical baggage, not all of it inspiring:
Gerald L. K. Smith, a former associate of “Kingfish” Huey P. Long and one-time director of Long’s “Share The Wealth” program, decided to use the name for a political party in 1943 — and Mr. Smith was a former Silver Shirt who’d been rejected by the old America First Committee for anti-semitism. The America First Party ran its own slate of candidates and barely made a dent in the national consciousness; in 1947s, perhaps a bit wary of their own past, they changed their name to the Christian Nationalist Party; in 1952, both that party and a remnant or reorganized America First Party tagged General Douglas MacArthur to be their Presidential nominee, though neither bothered to ask his permission. The America First Party name has resurfaced periodically since, generally by candidates on the far-Right to over-the-right-edge side of the spectrum.
So when I get a message on my phone from Mike Pence, telling me he’ll be speaking at an America First rally this weekend, my awareness of history makes me flinch; at best, using the tag is appallingly tone-deaf. At worst? I think we can rely on the Press to find plenty of “at worst.”
Of course, that’s the deal: she has an actual awareness of history, which in political discourse these days seems to be a decided disadvantage.
The guy with just a little bit of power, the Z Man recalls, is often a dictator in his dreams:
Meter maids, building inspectors, zoning office clerks, these are people with very narrow authority, but they wield it with the zeal of a bloodthirsty tyrant. That’s because the sort of people attracted to the work, are the sort of people looking for any chance to have authority over another person. The way American cities solved their sadist problem is they installed parking meters and made the sadists into meter maids.
Today, it is the social media companies hiring the petty tyrants, sadists and mentally disturbed spinsters, giving them a job of reading your tweets. These are the people who scan the internet, looking for “hate speech” they can put on a list, so that other petty tyrants can use it to torment the hate speaker or anyone interested in him. These are people who relish the task, because it is the only time anyone notices them. Our public space is turning into a daycare center run by sadistic schoolmarms.
Of course, there’d be little demand for schoolmarms were it not for the amazing number of participants in the (formerly) public square who never actually outgrew middle school.
(Linked to this. In 1972, when I went through it, it was eight weeks.)
“Omnibus, schmomnibus.” Bill Quick doesn’t think much of this spending bill:
[T]he GOP talks a great game about spending and deficits, but when the rubber meets the road, they roll right over, because they need that juicy grease with which to buy their own votes. And Congress is, at bottom, nothing more than a grease creation and processing factory, in which special interests must be greased at the expense of Americans and their future.
I don’t know why I even bother to mention this any more. The power of the purse is what keeps the entire foul machinery humming along. Same as it always was.
Which is the whole idea of an omnibus bill in the first place: every one of those prevaricating pricks gets to sneak in a pet paragraph, the quo of gratitude for a proffered quid, and no one will ever know since Evelyn Wood is long dead and nobody else can read that fast.
Proposed fix, preferably as the 28th Amendment: “Congress shall make no law which exceeds in length the original Constitution.” Four thousand five hundred forty-three words.
County charges female prisoners for hygiene products; attorney sees red, says it’s a civil rights violation to staunch the free flow of tampons and county must absorb the cost, no strings attached. Period.
(Linked to this.)
(Linked to this.)
James T. Kirk deals with the Kohms and the Yangs once more:
I have no problem with social justice I have a problem with the toxicity of those who do things under the guise of social justice when in reality it’s them oppressing others for their own selfish, personal agendas. https://t.co/FKKRiaEAPq
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 8, 2018
Prime Directive, anyone?
News Item: In January 2018 curators at Manchester Art Gallery caused controversy by suddenly removing one of [John William] Waterhouse’s most famous and popular works, Hylas and the Nymphs, from public display. The painting was replaced with a notice explaining that a “temporary” space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. On its website the curators explained that this was being done in connection with a current debate on historical cultural depictions of submissive women.
The thing about the movement (although Waterhouse is a bit late to be considered a proper Pre-Raphaelite, from what I’ve read) is that it preserved more than arbitrary beauty standards of the time. The Waterhouse painting in question, Hylas and the Nymphs, is the rendering of a Greek myth about Hercules. Waterhouse also painted Circe from the Odyssey, Ulysses and the Sirens, Boreas (wind), Jason and Medea, Echo and Narcissus, and so on. He envisioned scenes from Shakespeare: Miranda, Ophelia. He created a visual representation of the famous line from Herrick: “Gather ye rosebuds.” The movement loved beautiful women, classic literature, and mythology. They preserved more than beauty. They preserved major themes and ideas from throughout Western history and culture. Their paintings recall the best and most beautiful milestones of a culture that has shaped the world for the better. But this culture is one we are taught to despise.
So the censorship of Hylas, and similar censorious acts throughout the art world, are about more than naked nymphs (although they are quite lovely). They are about the censorship of cultural memory, and the attempt to erase our contributions to civilization as a whole, in order to create a historical narrative more in line with the revisionist SJW worldview. You can’t have art students asking what happens to Hylas after those pretty girls get done with him. You can’t have indoctrinated youth looking up King Cophetua after viewing the all-consuming longing with which he gazes at the beggar maid captured by Burne-Jones. You can’t have them asking about Millais’s Ophelia and her madness. Just as the Renaissance painters are capable of starting conversations about the Christian Bible, the Pre-Raphalites draw you into their worlds of myth, fairy tales, and unparalleled works of literature that the SJW community has long fought to erase.
If 1896 is irrelevant to your worldview, believe me, 2018 is more so.
And Hylas was returned to public exhibition this week, telling me that this was basically a stunt to sell a point of view that they couldn’t get anyone to swallow otherwise.
(Linked to this.)
The First Amendment shall ultimately prevail, says Cobb, because its opponents are too stupid for words:
Despite the fact that feebleminded nitwits are accorded one vote in this great nation, they have proven incapable of staging the kind of revolution among their fatuous fraternity required to overturn the First Amendment rights of the rest of us. While we are mindful that a number of dubious “institutions of higher learning” as well as many dainty lily-livered website editors have been cowed by the shrill whinging of the moronic meddlers, these are but farts in the wind: offensive, boorish, putrid and largely imperceptible by those who dealt it, yet soon to be dispersed but not forgotten.
The greater threat are those duplicitous criminal facilitators who have been made wealthy through the aggregation of the nickels and dimes of idiot attention, the purveyors of “reality” in the media and legal professions always looking to cash in on the lowest common denominator. In league with the humorless screechy drama queens who interrupt sensible society with their obsessions, there is a cadre of cads, ever present and primed to overturn the works of more thoughtful and reflective citizens of the republic. These creepy comrades have managed to twist legitimate universities into Möbius contortions of civility and discourse which only appear to be two-sided.
We are now at the point where all news should be considered Fake News until proven otherwise. Efforts by the likes of Facebook and Twitter and Google to persuade the public that they’re doing something about that may be easily dismissed as mere corporate desires for a piece of the action, nothing more. Truth is worth nothing in a phony marketplace of ideas that constantly clamors for bigger and better lies. This situation cannot prevail for long, and it won’t.
Gerard Van der Leun on Advent, a season today’s putative intelligentsia must feel dishonor-bound to scorn:
If it is true that the sleep of reason breeds monsters, can it not also be true that the constant wakefulness of Reason breeds its own peculiar hallucinations; its walking horrors?
We depend on Reason when we flip a switch, step on a brake, or seat ourselves in pressurized thin metal tubes that hover 40,000 feet above the earth and move at 500 miles an hour. This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives.
And yet … and yet …
And yet, hovering outside of Reason, we still somehow sense Immanence; we sense there is something more going on here, something vaster unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules.
We sense Immanence, no matter how many times we are told the opposite; we sense that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
As we now move more deeply into Advent, we move — in our long sweeping orbit about our home star — closer to the moments when that which is most deeply our gift and most certainly our curse is made manifest in the music of our being in a manner beyond all reason. And no matter what our faith — even if that faith is that there is no faith to be had — this turn of the year, this Advent, will inexorably bring us once again to the memory of the miracle made manifest all about us in every moment if we could but pause to see the forever present revelation.
Matthew 11:15: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” And those who wish not to see, perhaps they will be granted their wish.