The End of All Politics II

I had been pretty gloomy lately about politics. In previous decades, we could pull for one side, even when it was down and out, knowing that it favored full equality and judgments based on content of character, not skin color or other identity tags. Now, with Left and Right both obsessed (the Left overtly and the Right more covertly) with those very tags of skin color, gender, etc., as markers of innocence or guilt, of good or bad character, of who we should or should not listen to or vote for, there is no side to pull for. What’s an old hippie to do?

Enter the recent Vox article on identity politics. The Vox article predictably gets it wrong by suggesting that both sides are running identity politics campaigns but that only one side is based on fear and aversion. In a rather obvious way (to those who are not politically predisposed to assume their own conclusion), both sides are motivating their voters with identity-based fear and aversion.

As my friend Chris says, this doesn’t bode well for the Age of Aquarius. However, like the 40-year-old hippie, I ain’t giving up yet.

I am not giving up because the forces that work against identity politics grow ever stronger underneath the political superstructure (cp. Areo, Pinker) — the ever-increasing historical move from tribalism to globalism/cosmopolitanism, with the law of reason (and post-moderns may disparage that law but it does them no more good than disparaging the laws of mathematics) perpetually supporting the idea that the accident of our tribal birth does not mean our tribe is better than all the other groups of our fellow humankind.

When I talk to people — especially young people of various races, nationalities, etc. — I find that they talk the talk of identity politics (at least in Western liberal democracies) but they do not walk the walk. Once they quit spouting the politics they learned in college, they are actually quite averse to judging people based on identity tags and averse to deepening demographic do-not-cross lines in the cultural arena. Identity politics (largely thrust upon us in its present form by liberal academic departments in search of a rationale for perpetual funding) has infected their brains but not their hearts. This gives me hope. If we can find a leader or two to turn on the lights of the heart and imagination, we just might snuff out both the Left and the Right as obsolete. This may sound far-fetched, and maybe it is, but Democratic and Republican parties are both doing an excellent job of self-destruction. And therein lies hope.

Cp. The End of All Politics I

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A few curious tips on Granada, Spain

El Granado hostel is excellent, and the area it sits in (west of the cathedral, e.g. Calle Malago from San Jeronimo to Picon and Puentezuelas) is nice and not quite as tourist-thick as the other side of the Gran Via. The birds in Plaza Trinidad at summer sunset are insane. No, really. Mi amigo thought it was a horrifying, chaotic, apocalyptic chatter of millions of birds in full panic, eerily invisible for the trees and then bursting into pandemonium flights in total disarray. But I thought it was lovely.

Of course, there’s the Alhambra and the Albaicin, etc., but you can read about them in books, so I’ll end with a few pictures.

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Epicurus on simplicity

1. “Become habituated to a simple rather than a lavish way of life.”

2. “Envy no man.”

3. “Make a practice of the things that bring happiness, for assuredly when we have this we have everything.”

4. “Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little.”

5. “The most important consequence of self-sufficiency is freedom.”

Even scientific inquiry, which Epicurus engages at length in his (4th century BC) atomic theory of the universe, has the same end as all other forms of inquiry: “mental composure and a sturdy self-reliance.”

“By keeping these most important general principles constantly in mind,” we shall attain “tranquility” and “liberate ourselves from everything that drives other men to the extremes of fear.” At least so says Epicurus.

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James Lee Burke

Cimarron Rose is the first book I’ve read by Louisiana native, James Lee Burke. Thoroughly enjoyed it, though the content was a bit raw and gruesome at times. I would not recommend the book to those who are invested in the culture of “trigger warnings.” For everyone else, go for it!

Like all writers worth their fame, Burke has strong characters driving the plot. And like all good writers of his genre (suspense/crime drama), that plot is very carefully crafted. But Burke’s signature element for me is style – a muscular prose style of the sort sometimes associated with Hemingway but adapted to the genre and the regional setting (small-town Texas and west Louisiana). It is a style paradoxically very sparse and very vivid. Tight sentences with words and images chosen with great efficiency. It reminds me a bit of the way Clint Eastwood created a richness of character in the spaghetti westerns with a few facial gestures and fewer words.

Her arms looked strong, her stomach flat under her breasts. Her black gunbelt was polished and glinted with tiny lights…

His skin had the unblemished smoothness of latex stretched over stone…

Outside the window I could see trees of lightning busting all over the sky.

This style of Burke’s colors all other elements – the sense of place, the characters’ psyches, the pace of the story and of life in the universe of the novel.

If I ever make it back to Burke’s hometown, New Iberia, Louisiana, the place itself might be a little more colored in by this brush with his personality via Cimarron Rose.

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Free Bones

Mr. Robert’s Bones FREE this week

Poking around an old house for hidden silver, three kids awaken the house’s ghosts of racism and betrayal and join up with some quirky old characters to save the neighborhood from its own past.

Award-winning writer Gary Gautier has published a number of books for adults and kids. A screenplay adaptation of “Mr. Robert’s Bones” was selected to the second round (top 10%) at the Austin Film Festival.

Click image to enjoy your free kindle copy! Post a brief Amazon review when you finish!

The Nation’s Apology for Carlson-Wee

The long-established progressive magazine, The Nation, recently created a stir by publishing an Anders Carlson-Wee poem about homelessness, and then apologizing for doing so on the grounds that the poem contained inappropriate language (i.e., language that might be offensive to those demographic groups among the homeless that Carlson-Wee tries to identify with in the poem).

As a long-time liberal, it is demoralizing to see what liberalism has become. God forbid that a poet should use language deemed inappropriate by the cultural police. God forbid that artists should ever creatively identify with people of backgrounds other than themselves. God forbid that any one of us should ever try to put ourselves in the shoes of other races or demographics. Guard those boundaries between races and other demographic groups! Where Bull Connor conservatives failed, today’s liberals may yet succeed!

The whole event is a nice, tight summary of where liberals went wrong and gave up the moral high ground on matters of race. Or, as my grandmother used to say (my brackets added), “When you drive the devil from the front door [Bull Connor], he comes in the back [identity politics].”

Links in

The Atlantic

The New York Times

The Nation 

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