Friday, April 28, 2017

Reductio Ad Absurdum

     I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it. -- Voltaire

     Every writer – fiction; nonfiction; opinion; whatever – knows that there are days when he must not write. Days when his world is an unbroken landscape of pain. Days when his latest failure is all he can think about. Days when everything irritates him...especially the insistence of those around him that he should “buck up, it isn’t that bad.”

     On such a day, a wise writer stays well away from the keyboard. He does everything but write. He reads. He mows the lawn and weeds the flowerbeds. He shops or does household chores. He plays with the dogs and cats. He picks up that instrument of eternal torment, the phone, and calls a friend – preferably not another writer – to bitch about things worth bitching about. If he’s resolute, then when he’s ready to seek refuge in the arms of Morpheus, he will have added zero words to the aggregate of man-made prose. He can hope for a better day on the morrow.

     This feels like such a day to me. So I figured I’d write about it.

     There are many absurdities in the world. The ones that annoy me most are:

  • Unjust and unsound generalizations;
  • Important, timely generalizations that people fear to make;
  • An unwillingness to note the exceptions to sound generalizations;
  • An unwillingness to accept that those exceptions are exceptional.

     It is not the case that “every rule has exceptions.” That’s a bit of folk unwisdom that’s outlived its time. But the most important generalizations about people – i.e., the ones about our behavior in the face of certain conditions and stimuli – certainly do.

     For example, the “Antifa” clowns around Berkeley, California formed a generalization about persons in the Right: specifically, that “Antifa” could attack us physically with confidence that there would be no counterattack. The most recent confrontation violated their expectation. However, whether that event was an exception or the demonstration of another, superior generalization – i.e., that once one side has rejected the rule of nonviolence in discourse, neither side will honor it – remains unclear. The decision by Berkeley’s chapter of Young America’s Foundation not to risk another violent altercation for the sake of hosting Ann Coulter has left it undecided.

     People really ought to conform to their types. It annoys me greatly when they refuse to do so.

     Not too long ago, I wrote this:

     We elevated a consummate deal-maker to the presidency. He’s out there doing his best to make deals – deals that he believes will serve America’s interests. Was it really imaginable that he would superglue himself to any set of policy prescriptions?

     There’s a generalization in there: A deal-maker will strive to make deals. It’s not without exceptions. Whether Donald Trump, now the president of these United States, will demonstrate any exceptions remains to be seen. However, as famed bridge expert Terence Reese once said, the race may not always be to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.

     It is reasonable – i.e., in conformance with his established pattern – to expect President Trump to view any clash over legislation, executive action, or foreign policy as the start of a negotiation. His practice for many years has been to accept the best outcome available, if it’s at all acceptable. He will walk away from the table if he deems it right or prudent. But that doesn’t mean he has no inflexible stances. The next few weeks could reveal such stances, especially concerning the growing threats from North Korea and Iran.

     Concerning observable patterns in the behavior of the Left, especially its younger adherents, we have this article:

     A group of Yale University graduate students announced Tuesday evening that they would be undertaking a hunger strike to pressure the administration into granting them better union benefits. The strike is taking place in front of University President Peter Salovey’s home.

     "Yale wants to make us wait and wait and wait … until we give up and go away," the eight members of the graduate student union Local 33 announced. "We have committed ourselves to waiting without eating."

     A hunger strike! How Gandhi-ish. How calculated to stir the sympathies of other perennially entitled patsies young idealists! But if we read a little further into the article, it seems things are not quite that stark:

     As it turns out, the hunger strike might not put anyone's health in peril. According to a pamphlet posted on Twitter by a former Yale student, the hunger strike is "symbolic" and protesters can leave and get food when they can no longer go on.

     Yale’s young Leftists dislike the idea of deprivation and discomfort, you see. It really “shouldn’t” be necessary for them to get what they want. But as I’ve observed before in a different context, in the Land of Should:

  • All programs work perfectly on the first try;
  • All programs do everything and take no time to develop;
  • Even the most complex programs take up no memory or disk space, and require no operator familiarization!

     Please read the entire article. The tweet stream alone is more than worth your time.

     One more grump and I’ll close for today. This one concerns a disliked blogging colleague, whom I will not name nor link. It’s about the difference between personal and ideological villainy.

     This colleague, you see, has a friend who was recently swindled by a sharpster who calls himself a libertarian. In consequence, the colleague has condemned libertarians. In fact, the title for the relevant piece suggests that we should all be killed. His basis is the claim that libertarians hold that anything that’s legal therefore can and should be done: a slander of the first water.

     Was he being sarcastic? It’s hard to tell; he’s not a particularly good or clear writer. One thing does come through clearly: he despises us as a group.

     I can easily agree that the sharpster who swindled his friend, though apparently without actually breaking the law, is a villain, the sort that decent persons should ostracize. But to assert that libertarians generally would approve of the sharpster’s actions is baseless and vicious. As I’m a libertarian and know a number of libertarians and sympathizers, I can refute that notion without a qualm.

     Libertariansm, within its domain of application, is wholesome and sound. It’s the only governing philosophy founded on a moral principle: the absolute inviolability of individuals’ natural rights. That the political organization called the Libertarian Party has been taken over by fringy types does not bear on the ideology. Neither is it a condemnation of the ideology that there are some who style themselves libertarians but behave in a tawdry, fraudulent, or villainous manner.

     The same, of course, could be said about Christianity and those who call themselves Christians.

     Having scrubbed all that off the bottom of my brainpan, I believe I am adequately prepared to go a full day without writing. Will my resolve be equal to the test presented by my excessive loquaciousness? Will my fingers stray to the keyboard while my attention is elsewhere? We can only wait and see.

     Later, Gentle Reader.


Unknown said...

I'm okay with your new arrangement; the comment format needed some adjustment, I think. I dislike annoying ones to be able to hide behind some electronic foil drapery.
Ref: your use of the word "unwisdom" ...I like it. There is a proper place for this word, exemplified by those we see united in their hate-Trump-ism... some folks cannot even navigate a row-boat type social atmosphere, let alone the complexity of today's world.
Your blog is still one of the best of them all.

SiGraybeard said...

"Yale wants to make us wait and wait and wait … until we give up and go away," the eight members of the graduate student union Local 33 announced. "We have committed ourselves to waiting without eating."

Ya gotta admit, it's a lot easier for them to undertake a prolonged hunger strike if they can eat whenever they feel like it. Maybe they can out last the administration that way, although I doubt they have the attention span to stick with it.

Bob T. said...

"This feels like such a day to me. So I figured I’d write about it."

Good thing I'd just finished a swallow of my afternoon coffee...

Rich in NC said...

You, sir, are a very very good writer. You've nothing to say and held my interest through all of the pargraphs explaining how and why.
Rich in NC

Linda Fox said...

For most of us, Trump was the best of the surviving alternatives. He won the nomination fairly, by exciting new voters, so - I supported him.

Like most of us, I was on tenterhooks in the last month - I was a news junkie, terrified that the Hill-Beast would pull it off.

And, then, he won.

And I calmed down.

Honestly, I've spent less time scavenging news since the election. It's not that there are not concerns. It's not that I have total confidence in Trump - unless it's the well-founded confidence, that, like so many in public office, he's going to screw up some things - badly.

No, it's the confidence that - for the first time in a long time - an AMERICAN was in the Oval Office.

Someone who put our country first. And, made decisions based at least in part on that.

I don't expect a Savior - I have one, thank you.

I don't expect a once-in-a-lifetime demi-god.

And, finally, I don't expect a traitor to everything this country stands for - which is a hell of a change from the last eight years.