My Blog Week: August 4 to August 10
A Word on the Week
The Anomaly Factor
On my list of full-length essays to-be-written, I’ve had for some time a piece on near enemies. The term is one Buddhists use, teacher Jack Kornfield known for his writings on this, that refers to persuasions we make to ourselves, based on values that feel true to us, but are only similar to the ones we want. Such arguments—and in current politics, there are many—become intractable for just that reason. As in love versus controlling behavior; or equality of opportunity versus equality of treatment, the arguer believes his rightness undeniable.
The near-enemy to the gun question is the anomaly factor. It’s not surprising that people convince themselves only “crazies” perpetrate mass shootings. Factually, millions of civilian assault rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s, are owned by Americans. Factually, millions of shooting incidents have not occurred, though more than enough have to be counted domestic terrorism. Factually, the importance of an issue does not make stating facts about it disloyal to any cause. That type of thinking is an artifact of machine politics, and these days, we want our candidates to explain their positions, to stand by them, not to use special dumb-speech for the allegedly dumb voter.
The person who, in the permissive environment our current administration actively creates, is specially moved to act, is an anomaly. The near-enemy lies in conflating untypical behavior with “crazy” behavior.
We send soldiers into battle, and we expect them to adopt an altered mindset there, view their purpose as, in part, killing other human beings. We expect, and it is far from successfully done, that soldiers will come home to America and switch off this “different” way of thinking. But we can’t institutionalize this expectation, and then claim we can only fathom the dispassionate view of humanity, the easy acceptance of killing, by telling ourselves it can’t be fathomed at all…that no normal-minded person can understand what motivates a “crazy” person, and no law we can make can control that person. The shooters aren’t, most of them, psychotic. They have been led down a path. This is adaptive behavior, persuasible under a ratcheting of certain pressures, unpersuasible under a dialing down, or a change of scenery.
Reason is a good idea.
We see a boatload of unreason in the ways arguments are hashed out, or more properly, bleated back and forth, online. This week we saw people suggesting that sex scandal figures’ political affiliations had relevance to the question of prosecuting them. No.
We saw people willing to overlook the exploitation of a baby, on the grounds that his father had supported the president. It was, and such uses of children always are, exploitation. We saw the Clintons suggested as vastly and sinisterly powerful, so that by logic, Trumpists should suppose the fake Presidential seal right. Their man is a puppet. Whatever game the Clintons play, if the conspiracy theories are true (spoiler, no), when they want someone taken out, they simply take him out. Their people are toying with the White House.
Yes, troll activity has been extra frothy, lately. It’s interesting to note that, though this represents no great density of genius in armchair psychology, British Brexit trolls speak in scornful and patronizing terms; American trolls speak stridently and hand-wringingly, with a whiff of Jesus. “It will all be fine,” the British are told by theirs. Which, taking reason into account, means effects on the economy of the looming deadline, the questions of Scottish independence, and Irish displeasure, have been solved. Those in the know ought to share.
Meanwhile the Russians (and friends) have sized Americans up as hating education and rules. Apt enough, for those rile-uppable people who virulently despise making education affordable and public spaces safe.
It was a week of short story reissues, as I have so many projects going. Monday had the last part of “Authority Weighs In”, in which Anton gains his freedom. On Tuesday, the first one since Sequence of Events ended its run, I put up news of two books available for purchase from Amazon: Rattus, my poems; and Are You Alienated, a novella about spies, the above-the-law ways of the wealthy, and Cold War dynamics. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, I ran “Cadisk”, the seventh and last to date, Tourmaline story…in the future we’ll see more of Anton’s adjustments, and meet a member of the Council of Four. Thursday, of course, Catastrophe, detailing local fears about the electric lighting.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: August 4 to August 10