Nov 10, 2016

A note in a time bottle...  To record the moment that seems of such extraordinary importance just now.  But maybe I have it all wrong.  Could it be nothing? — just a trompe l'oeil, a trump l'oeil, merely a software bug.

A note for Claire and Finn, at least.  And others unknown or born: I am struck dead by the definition and weight of this moment in American history.  The immediate effect of this, the day after, is not slight or pretend.  It's real and physical.  As though there's been some kind of an explosion.  A precursor of dirty bombs? Never felt before.

(On that note, is it possible that this atavistic warrior will frighten the North Koreans, ISIS, and the like into submission, just because he is so rash and unpredictable....  Could that be a good to come out of this?  Or the reverse....)

No matter. Right now the sensation is a sense of personal failure, and failure in the aggregate — of my generation, my race, my country....

Others have summed up the social and political explanations much better than I.  Nevertheless, for me the horror is tied tight to the low quality of opinion. It's not just that people have learned how not to think critically, helped by the demonstration of uncritical thinking in the media every day, day in and day out; it's that everything is working together against thought, much less noble thought.

The 140-character speed with which we live inevitably ends in reaction not reflection.  The misperception of things is ubiquitous; and of course the inability to filter truth from fiction.  The two are entwined everywhere in the culture and no one teaches you how to recognize one from the other. Once upon a time people knew the difference between a novel and a report...

Add a readiness to dismiss people for no good reason, to kill them off metaphorically most times, and for the slightest reason; and then the murky and deceptive notion of entitlement, for high and low; and an impatience with taking things apart and putting them back together.

In sum, a low quality of opinion, which leads people to lack of discernment and finally blindness.

Add to that a sense there's been real progress in the last 8 years and now with the flick of a broom handle, it's all swept out the back door.  How can that be?

And so right now, the day after, I am seething at the stupidity of my fellow citizens, seething at their careless and selfishness, all the worst qualities, which I share, but am able to control and repair.   That's my solace. I've been thrown overboard but I can see land; and I have a plan.  That's my conceit.  Even if I have forsaken 'we'.

A Syrian was quoted in a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece in August called, "Fractured lands", to say, roughly, that the fighting will not stop until all the people who have fought in these civil wars are dead.  "It will take a decade", the man guessed.

How long for this civil war to end....



1 comment:

Shellye said...

Right there with you. Had to go to ground as I watched Tuesday night, disbelieving. Could not fathom or take in what was unfolding before my eyes. And then a numbness as it sank in, and I thought, oh right, we're going to go back to being that country again. Those eight glorious years of having a thoughtful, incisive, intelligent President and a wonderful, scandal-less First Family -- they were the aberration. We are now back to being our lesser, our worse selves. And I remembered the Bradley effect, the Bradley effect from that 1982 gubernatorial election, where all the lovely Californians told the exit pollsters they had voted for Tom Bradley to become the first Black governor of California... but when we woke up the next morning, it was George Deukmejian who was our governor. All those Republicans saying they couldn't vote for Trump, as difficult as it was they would vote for Hillary because the alternative was truly disastrous. And then they went in and voted for him. And women, lots and lots of women did the exact same thing. And can we talk about the voter suppression that went on in pivotal states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin -- with Voter ID laws! And the Roberts Court gutting the Voting Rights Act two years ago, so all that could unfold. Don't blame yourself -- you didn't let this country and your children and grandchildren down. There are others who are culpable and the thought of taking them on now and for the next four years is just... exhausting to consider.