Friday, June 5, 2015


     Now and then, a phenomenon will go from being uncommon and sporadic, and therefore noticeable, to being continuous and ubiquitous, and therefore invisible: the “water to a fish” effect. When the latter condition has been achieved, it ceases to be spoken of, no matter how important to the comprehension of the applicable sociopolitical climate.

     When the phenomenon involves the essential tools of consciousness – ideas and the symbols we use to represent and manipulate them – we may find ourselves, not to be too blunt about it, in seriously deep shit.

     “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” [From Through the Looking Glass]

     Consider all the following:

     Please read the cited pieces before continuing on.

     Words are our lowest-level tools of thought and communication. They serve us both in dealing with the world around us and in dealing with one another. When important words of wide application are subjected to a campaign of distortion, they cease to serve our attempts to cope with reality. Indeed, they can become tools of deception in the hands of those to whose designs reality presents important obstacles.

     The Left’s war on the stable meanings of words has been going on for some time. Their attacks have targeted so many fundamental terms that even I have lost count: “Freedom.” “Equality.” “Justice.” “Peace.” “Poverty.” “Racism.” “Discrimination.” Today’s battles are over terms still more fundamental: “Man.” “Woman.” “Sex.” “Baby.” “Time.” These might be war-enders...and judging from the examples cited above, it’s by no means clear which side will prevail.

     Time was, I advanced the concept that politics is about means rather than ends. I contended that we all have the same general objectives; we merely differ on the best ways to achieve them. Back then, I believed that Americans were men of good will...or at least, that Americans who are not men of good will are so vanishingly few as not to count in political terms.

     Time was.

     Men of good will cannot talk to the Left. Whenever a fundamental fact obstructs a Leftist agenda item, they insist that the words used to address that fact don’t mean what they’ve meant for centuries. This renders rational discourse impossible.

     In one sense, this effacement of the meanings of words, such that no fact or idea that impedes the Left’s programs can be expressed in a fashion comprehensible to ordinary persons using traditional standards, is a last-ditch tactic. Reality – “The facts of life,” in Margaret Thatcher’s classic phrase – has been unkind to the Left. Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings” have uniformly ruled against Leftist notions and nostrums. (There’s a particularly sharp irony in the Left’s habit of referring to themselves as “the reality-based community.”) This leaves the Left in the position of needing to deny reality: to deny evidence; to refuse normal deductive and inductive reasoning; and to denounce those who object to their “assumption of differential rectitude.”

     Political discourse has become pointless for the reasons above. What remains is combat, whether with ballots or bullets. All else awaits the renascence of clarity and integrity in communication.

     “'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!”

     [From Monty Python’s “dead parrot sketch.”]

     The title of this short piece arose from the question: “If words are no longer useful as tools of public discourse, what remains to us?” I thought for a while about what we could substitute for the terms whose definitions the Left has refused to accept. Mathematics? Forget it. Drawings? Not enough of us can draw. Gestures? Well, maybe...but not “sign language” such as AmesLan, for those gestures are equivalences to the words of American English, which puts us back where we started.

     No, we’ll all have to become mimes.

     The mime uses gestures to sketch out a reality we cannot see or hear. He depicts it by behaving in a fashion that implies mass and position to the unseen. We smile at his depictions, because he has deliberately denied himself the symbols with which a writer of fiction would describe the setting in which the mime is acting.

     Miming is very hard work. Ask any actor who’s studied the art. It doesn’t come easily.

     Should we fail to re-establish the traditional, public meanings of the words we use in political discussion, there can be no long-term political peace in these United States. But perhaps that would be too much to expect between men of genuinely good will and the fractious, endlessly quarrelsome Left.


Anonymous said...

The loss of core meaning to the language is a a critical supporting facet of moral relativism. Just as all 'truth' is just viewpoint, all word meaning has to be arbitrary. That's while moral relativism is so dangerous - you can't disabuse any wrong-headed liberal of their views because your view is arbitrary. So too, the words you use. All is a gooey mess in which feeling is king. Bleach.

RichJ said...

My thought is that it really isn't so much Left or Right, as it is mankind's most serious flaw: hubris. We need not review the history of this; let's simply stipulate that this has been the case since the very beginning.

Those on the Left, of course, are flagrantly flawed in this regard... to the point of being a parody. However, as Barnhardt suggests with her axiom, "only sociopaths and psychopaths are attracted to political office". Even the best candidates... what can they really do?

With regard to what remains (votes not so much and bullets... sure), isn't it the fall of the mother of all prostitutes, Babylon the Great? Some opine this is the fall of Christendom, but I don't think that is it. Ground zero is Wall Street. No stone will be left on top of any other by the time this is over.

Francis, I think we are going to witness this....

Anonymous said...

I was involved in a Facebook discussion about the sickening Bruce Jenner situation and wrote this:

That's the point, hormones don't determine biological sex - chromosomes and DNA do.

A serious question and thought exercise not to be just cast aside as "Well, that's ridiculous." Please sincerely think about it and its implications:

I've decided that I'm a dog trapped in a human's body. I will get a fur transplant, get cosmetic surgery to give me pointed ears and a tail, walk on all fours, and begin to drink from the toilet.

Am I a dog or human? Why? What makes me one or the other?

When it went unanswered, I posted the following:

It's the ultimate philosophical minefield, eh? The question too tough to answer? Because it forces us to face truths we don't want to.

Strangely enough, the original poster said the discussion (250+ comments) was over. Can't imagine why.

-Yankee Texan