From a conversation with Kraken.

Some scattered thoughts.
A proposition: The left’s categorization of the right as “unenlightened” is the equivalent of the right’s categorization of the left as “amoral.”
Articulated rather broadly: “Ours is the only way to think if you are moral” (conservatives) and “Ours is the only way to think if you are intelligent” (liberals). From this it becomes easy to label the other side as “amoral” or “stupid.”
And a question: Do we think what we think about those with whom we disagree because it is true, or because it is convenient?


18 thoughts on “From a conversation with Kraken.

  1. Interesting … except perhaps for this observation:
    That while both “sides” of this (multi-sided) conflict of imaginations have speakers spreading the current dogma, those are persons of some note, if only for their flabberjawing; while out here in the real world the “just folks” who are our neighbors, and who stand on either side of this Great Divide are notable for this difference: that on the one side the folks are condemning the folks on the other for their cupidity and stupidity, while on the other the folks are astounded unto silence that the oh-so-tolerant folks on the other have finally betrayed themselves and their presumption of superior ethical code to the embarrassement of the onlookers. In short, My Finest Observer/Commentator, what you have been shocked and annoyed to find in the latte lounges of Cambridge continues all the way up into Granville, NY; and it cannot be said that anything like this sunomi of revulsion for one’s brethern lifted its head, voice, or arm following the second election of Bill. Eruditon, sophistication, personal grace … tolerance — surely these are not the solely owned property of only one side of the conflict of imaginations; but like the talk vs. the taste of authentic on-location French food, maybe it is.

  2. it cannot be said that anything like this sunomi of revulsion for one’s brethern lifted its head, voice, or arm following the second election of Bill.

    Clinton wasn’t a crackpot. And his ‘disgrace’ of the Presidency – largely a collection of stupid right-wing smears, of course – amounted to choices in his personal life that should never have entered into the business of governing. He presided over a period of massive economic growth, the birth of the Web, and an era of real promise internationally; it’s no wonder that, even as the patently ridiculous impeachment proceedings went on – in part driven by Clinton’s own pathetic refusal to take responsibility for his personal failings, in part by the hypocritical apes in Congress – he had the highest sustained job-approval ratings since Kennedy.
    A vote for Clinton, regardless of what kind of man you
    think he is, was a vote for a moderate Democrat opposed by a hostile Republican Congress. A vote for G W Bush is something else. And the tide that lifted Clinton into office didn’t originate in the kind of faux-populist hatred that’s animated Bush’s campaign. As I said over on my own piece of Web real estate: moral equivalences like these are lazy and evasive.

  3. “He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse’s health, a boy’s love, or a whore’s oath.”
    — Lear’s Fool
    I guess that’s QED, then.

  4. An appeal to Shakespeare’s authority in modern politics is like an appeal to the authority of St. Simeon Stylites in modern architecture. In any case, both the left and the right need to abandon the specter of Clinton, as Bush’s ghost will throw a much longer shadow (for better or, most likely, for worse).

  5. Shervin perhaps this isn’t the place to ask but:
    Have you heard of Christopher Alexander? He’s an Austrian architect, though his world is Berkeley – he’s the first author on an astonishing book called A Pattern Language. It’s hard to get ahold of, but your library should have a copy. Oh man, take a look. You’ll flip.

  6. Wally,
    Can’t say that I have. I’ll add it to my list. Right now I’m reading The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. It’s surprisingly flat compared to Mishima’s other books, yet still vibrant compared to many others…

  7. It is beyond parsing…How a man as governor of Arkansas can deploy/mis-employ his state troopers to snag his bait and yet be considered to be on his own clock and not the public payroll — or when President of the USA hide out under the table in the Oval Office with labia de chien wrapped around his national symbol and be thought to be on his own time; how a man as President of the USA can send troops into Kosovo for, say, 18 months, without UN sanction, and still have them there years later with a yet-projected minimal five year window breezing, and still be thought to have saved instead of spent the good currency and reputation of the USA; how that man, as President, enjoying a 5.4 unemployment rate can be worshipped for the economic advances he made, while his successor, beating the way back to that same low rate after the failures of the predecessor have been turned around — and after the yet worse economic shock that was 9/11/01 — can be thought to be a malingerer and cad. There is, as you say, the Fool in that somewhere — but enough of the tit for tat: give yourself to the building up of the country instead of the tearing down and I may then “wax” impressed — and don’t ring the alarm that to criticize is not to unbuild but to provide the blocks for builiding: criticism is all well and good — even necessary, in my book — but to natter on and on with it without serving a single good end on and of one’s own reduces it to simple self-satisfaction. The bright and insightful owe more to their country than do all those “just folks” out there whom the natterers so readily and openily revile. Talent and skill have their obligations — we all fall short in their fulfillment; but if we do nothing productive with them at all, what then are we to think of ourselves? Here’s a hawserline: grab on and help haul the ship you think so rudderless. Oh, but ah! the long shadows of tghe 80+ year night are beginning to give ‘way to dawn and the vampires rush before it seeking darkness.

  8. can you really believe that a President is ever not on the clock?
    If so, how is it that even mere low echelon, non-decisionmaker, non-policymaker legislative employees, in states that have such laws, under adjudicated law MUST (as in NYS for example) report ALL their financial dealings, those of their spouse, those of their children, the offices they hold (including such offices as even in the church to which they may belong) — and still must — not schedule but — beg time off for their vacations? which are also reportable and tracked.
    gotta tell you folks, it is easy to pick up the latest slur against the “least favored” because s/he is (at least among the) most favored of us and fling it outward into the gyre, but it is a lot more difficult — because time consuming — to acquire enough experience, modesty, and mercy to overlook the small things in order to see the big things: motes, for example
    when is a Prez on vacation? when he is under the table? get real

  9. I think the best way to conceive of all this was put out by my brother’s dorm mate during the last election. In the midst of all the Florida vote recounting what have you, he sauntered into the room and anounced, “I’ve got it. Here’s how we resolve this situation: The Democrats conceed the election to Bush *if* the Republicans agree to end Reconstruction!” We sort of looked at him with the raised eyebrow of confusion, and he elaborated, “Look all they have to do is get the Federal troops out of the South, and the Democrats will give up the Presidency.”

  10. I made an (admittedly lame) joke – despite the fact that I genuinely feel like it is better for the President to be a little sleazy *in the Oval Office where he belongs* rather than barbecuing in Texas or Maine.
    Anybody who thinks that being President is a boon is dead wrong. You are in a position to lead a populace of which half don’t necessarily like you (and whom you don’t necessarily like), you are forced to contend with the agendas of groups (large and small), individuals (powerful and wanting to get that way), other countries (almost all of which would be glad to take us down a notch), etc. It takes a power-mad fool to want the job. Hence why I believe, and continue to believe, that the ideal President would be somebody whose distaste for the job was complete, but whose love for the United States could overcome it. My personal belief is that Bush ran for President primarily as a way to enjoy the feeling of being King of the Hill (Kerry probably had very similar reasons), and while that might be an honor, the honor doesn’t lie in the work of the office, but in having brawled your way into it.
    Finally, let me make this note: I’m well aware of my own failings, which are legion, so you may kindly step off your request for me to examine them. If you believe that I dislike Bush because to do so is fashionable, then you are dead wrong. If you think that this also motivates why I believe Clinton was the better President, or, GOD FORBID!, the better man, then you are also wrong. It might behoove you to remember that a position of age does not grant you wisdom by default, nor does it make you more apt to reflect. If there’s a mote in my eye, or God’s, then by all means: have one too.

  11. This is a pretty amazing dialogue, folks.
    I’d like to point out that I made mention of neither Bush nor Clinton in my original entry — in fact, I thought I was being very general, possibly too much so.
    But, please, do carry on. 😉
    (Thanks, Ro, for the nod. Yes, it was me. Or, rather, one quarter of me. Where me = my face. But I’m already a celebrity in this small corner of the blogosphere. And to maybe several dozen former MIT applicants. YEAH!@#$)
    (Sheeva, Hi! I didn’t know you were a reader. I keep learning of new readers all the time. So welcome. And thanks for the comment.)

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