Sluagh-Ghairm

Nearly two decades into the new millennium we seem to find ourselves in an epigrammatical universe of tweets, texts, soundbites, decontextualized quotes, and catch-phrases. Everywhere one looks there is some pithy aphorism claiming seemingly simple truths. We find ourselves in the age of the slogan. Slogans slaughter nuance - they are a masquerade of reality, hence why they create such outrage: slogans make shoals out of the deep sea of nature. A slogan is propaganda, and propaganda is shallow art. Slogans aim to make us feel foolish for not having seen before such pristine a picture of the world, whether our mute fantasies as to what we wish it were or what it can be claimed to already be; slogans are a syntactic judo regarding means to marketing and manifesting agendas. Slogans are a blasphemy to reality.

The pursuit of one's own happiness (which is a terribly misleading creed in of itself) has been bastardized, and thus transmogrified to the pursuit of one's own truth. It is here I must intervene: there is only truth and untruth. There is no such thing as personal truth, or the latest slogan: "This is my truth." The advent of such a sentiment is an abomination - a triumph of this pestilential subjectivism metastasizing the American cultural landscape. Such concern for subjective experience is nothing more than a psychic splintering for splintering sake; a fragmentation of reality that simply puts people at odds with each other, widening the gap between citizens, exacerbating clique politics, heightening tribalism. There is an objective world and we all share it. The Aristotelian realm of forms, where measure can be taken, is the fecund garden in which we as individuals, cobbled together by a great nature, must work collaboratively.

St. Paul once wrote that we can be "instruments of wickedness" as well as "instruments of virtue" - that Madisonian notion that "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." But we are not and never will become so. We are not perfectible. Our inner lives are rife with contradiction and struggle. This can be paralyzing, obsessing over the reality of that perpetual inner conflict, a trademark symptom of narcissism, and we mustn't look at our inner life as something singular, what alcoholics call "terminal uniqueness". Yes, life is hard and everyone's got a story. It's our very struggles that unite us; that psychic tempest of ideas swirling in your mind is a Dionysian maelstrom, you can get sucked into it and never return. One needs impetus to persevere in our shared reality, we must move forward so we aren't crippled by our ferocious uncertainty and intra-tension. St. Francis decreed "Seek ye first to understand rather than be understood" - the impetus is to seek out the pabulum which allows us to navigate this labyrinth we call reality. It's interesting I use the word "pabulum", for not only is it a word that means nutriment but, intellectual nourishment, mental nutrients. Dietitians refer to "essential nutrients" as nutrients the body doesn't naturally produce - they come from outside sources (think Quinoa), it must be ingested and/or absorbed to produce the energy to move forward. The world is made of information. The more one knows, the better prepared one is to take on the convoluted pathways of reality's labyrinthine nature. Information such as evidence, facts, data are essential, pivotal, integral to successful passage - and a thirst for information is an incomparable incentive to continue onward. Thirst for information is the inner compass that leads to truth. Objective truth. In the words of Thomas Sowell: "The truth cannot become private property without losing its whole meaning. Truth is honored precisely for its value in interpersonal communication. If we each had our own truths then we would be better off, as well as more honest, to stop using the word or concept and recognize that no one's words could be relied upon anymore. The more subtle insinuation is that we should become more sensitive to some particular group's truth, that is, that we should arbitrarily single out some group for different standards according to the fashions of the times or the visions of the anointed."

Sowell, later commenting on public intellectuals, claims "Knowledge, who's presence or absence, has consequences - serious consequences." Intellectuals (particularly public intellectuals) shouldn't be encouraged to branch out of their field of expertise. Chomsky should stick with Linguistics, Peterson - psychology, Harris - Neuroscience, Dawkins - Biology, and so on. Listening to these individuals, and the like, is certainly a good thing - even listening to their thoughts on matters outside their fields of mastery, but it is wisest, of course, to heed the experts when an expert is commenting on topics concerning their area of expertise. So why do we take the word of bureaucrats who mostly studied law and political science on what we should consider as effective means for health care, or how to regulate an economy, and why are such people granted free reign regarding "entitlement programs" (which are virtually impossible to repeal once enacted). Where are the specialists in congress? There aren't many. At least SCJ's are vetted, selected based on their record of ruling - they are experts in constitutional law. But, how do bureaucrats in congress sell their policies and solutions to the public? With sweeping slogans, swab pitches that gloss over the inherent complexity imbedded in the ails of today, which affect flesh and blood citizens. It's simple advertising techniques, Marketing 101: pitch the slogan as the solution. A vast majority of citizens these days buy into the slogan of a policy and accept it as the result of its implementation - results may (will) vary - because delving into the minutia of a policy's possible outcomes, stratifying and then analyzing the 'most likely' good AND bad consequences is tedious, time consuming, tiring, ever frustrating, and often disheartening. No one likes to realize the impracticality and limitations of well-intended, morally sound, and, yes, even "compassionate" idea(l)s. Reality is unrelenting, amoral, indifferent to one's moral standing or conundrum, and certainly to the fantasy of one's own, personal truth; reality just is, and when revealing what is, rather than what was thought to have been possible or most likely (or worse, when revealing the unforeseen negative consequences), the chain reaction of those ideas now in practice have outcomes that must be dealt with. It is ill-conceived, idealistic, pollyanna-policy implementation that can lead society to an intimate understanding of the word "permanent". Even great measures, taken to cease or slow the repercussions of our good-natured but ultimately myopic and ill-realized ideas/policies, are subject to diminution when attempting to mitigate the colossal, towering parturiency of reality, the nature of reality, and the reality of nature.

Truth is, each individual is a physical, autonomous agent occupying a ubiety among myriad other physical agents occupying a localized space. This space, this realm of measurable forms, is the realm of actions and consequences, causes and effects that we all experience. Be careful what slogans you choose to chant, pawning them off as an axiomatic ineluctability. Be wary of your mind's own proclivity to be charmed with itself and what it deems true - especially if what it perceives to be true is particular only to itself.

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