September 24, 2011 - September 17, 2011
. The Old Man inquires. "All us old guys want to know why everything you believe in is so THIN. Like a slice of skin. The music is tin, the philosophy is graffiti, and the purported passion is shit splattered against the wall."
The answer is similarly thin. Civilization is learned. It can't just be chiseled out like a stone monument and left to stand for thousands of years. It has to be rechisled in the brain and guts of every generation. What you're seeing now is what happens when civilization goes unchiseled. That's why the decline seems so fast to you. You're expecting erosion. Wind and tide and mist on the face of Gibraltar. The truth is we have to grow to be giants, to give our kids shoulders to stand on. Then they have to grow to be giants themselves, and so on. No more giants, no more shoulders. And we all fall down.
Growing up Mormon, one of the sticking points for me was the total lack of the Mesoamerican Jewish nation from the book in the archeological record. There were tiny little clues in secular archeology that academia's narrative of early peoples in the New World was flawed-- toys with wheels dating back to supposedly wheel-less times come to mind-- their world is still gone. No great excavation of any ancient capital that would at least corroborate the Book of Mormon's story of a small Hebrew exiles growing to to mighty civilization. Hell, modern archeology had even discovered Troy, which had existed only in myth for thousands of years. How could a resplendent capital just disappear?
And more than that, how could a once-civilized and pious people so thoroughly devolve, leaving no trace in the "culture" of their descendents other than a word that maybe sounds like hallelujah if you squint your ears?
Simple: Withhold their humanity. CS Lewis (and you, Robert, and many others) said morality has to be learned. It can't just be inherited. The human child won't instinctively gravitate toward the good, any more than naturally gravitate toward a 27-dimensional conception of spacetime. True enough. But that's not true for just morality. History, art, literature, science-- these aren't just things we learn about. We partake in them, and continue them, by learning about them.
Your generation knocked us out of the human race with a one-two punch. Right hook was withholding our history from us. Left haymaker was teaching us to sneer at it, a poor but functional substitute for the pride and fulfilment we would have got from partaking in the human heritage. Teach the degenerate Nephites that bare-handed murder is better than polishing the gold steps of the central pyramid in Zarahemla, and they'll beat their plowshares into swords. And then wonder where all the food went.
This is why we don't exist. In the human sense. There's no instinct for it. There is an instinct for desiring it, which is why some of us are so cranky and abrasive and vile. But that's only some of us. More of us can settle for the quasi-feral Jersey Shore lifestyle. Still more of us enjoy the superiority buttressed by a fortress of bad books, snarky TV, and pastoral urbanity. The rest of us try to get our hearts beating again with a million different patchwork and imiation histories. Some work better than others.
Maybe that's closer to how it should be. Maybe every man should be left to work out his heritage for himself. Or maybe I'm just trying to make the best out of the worst possible situation.
. Shut the fuck up about fucking Netflix. You idiot chickenshit children.
You want to complain about something that matters? You want to know what's really going to rape the ass out of your wallet? This.
. Portland had their big Iraq War protest back in 2003. THAT was a protest. No smattering of 50 impotent trust-fund kids there. We had thousands upon thousands of retards expressing their ignorance and paranoia at the top of their lungs. I marched in it. More as a curious observer than anything, though my politics back then were straight out of Adbusters. I was starting to ask myself some hard questions about my crap beliefs. Cheif among them that day: What is all the parading and chanting and drum-beating supposed to accomplish? For real, in real life?
Was our "show of solidarity" going to send shockwaves all the way to Washington? Did the protesters imagine top CIA operatives hurredly whispering into their James Bond inviso-phones with direct lines to the Pentagon? And after much panicked bustling by men in three-piece suits and many-barred military dress, the call finally goes to the White House.
"Hello? Yes, this is President Bush." And his face turns ashen as he hears the news. "I see."
His aides purposefully and with concern stride to his desk. "Sir, what is it?"
He can't look up at them. "It's Portland. They're..." He can't let himself get choked up. Not in front of his boys. So young. So much ahead of them. Got to be strong. "They're marching."
One of the aides speaks up in a timorous plea. "They're marching... for us, right? To tell the world they support our troops and our cause. Right?" He grabs the lapel of one of his buddies. "RIGHT?"
"I'm afraid not, Billy." The room falls deathly silent.
"Get the... the whatsit. The army guys," Dubya continues. "The military. All of them. Tell them we're calling the whole war off."
Incredibly, it didn't go down like that. Incredibly, that mere show of anger and disapproval didn't motivate the government to take the desired action. Incredibly, merely showing disapproval doesn't inspire others to do what you want. Incredibly, that hasn't worked for anyone since they left the crib.
It's taken me until well into adulthood to see the appeal of protests. "Demonstrations" (fancy academic term for "tantrum") are the old spoiled idiot version of wailing to have one's diaper changed. They got old, but never grew up. That's why they think a mere demonstration is the same as doing something. Like a tiny-ass baby.
But if the latest Day of Rage is any indication, there's fewer spoiled idiots around than there's been in some time. Wouldn't that be nice.