Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DoD Creates Supply Closet of Bogus Things

We here in the DoD have created a very special storage place within the department.  Attached to our labrythine library of Deviance, its aim is to store away all the myriad bogus things we’ve seen and heard and, alas, sometimes probably said in our pursuit of knowing more things.  While we want to know more things, we often find that half-known things and, let’s face it, patently ignorant things can get in the way.  Those things are the worst sort of things to have cluttering up the department.  So, in a fit of what the self-help industry assures us is a commendable impulse to “de-clutter,” we created the Supply Closet of Bogus Things.

We did of course deliberate about the wisdom of storing our mental garbage.  After all, we do love a good trash fire and there’s some pretty dry tinder here just begging to be set alight.  But, we reasoned, knowing more things profits from recognizing things not known but perniciously assumed or mindlessly endorsed.  Therefore, on the keep-your-enemies-near principle, we decided to store our Bogus Things instead. 

So, without further ado, let us begin cataloging our Bogus Things, albeit with rather arbitrary catalog numbers that betray just how superficial our organizing impulses truly are.

Item 784.WTF:  Liking Deviance is a form of identity politics – after all, it comes from
people who have identities, unlike the stuff produced by people without them, people so free of their own contingent features that they’re rather atman-like.  Uh oh.  Look what we did there.  We used Indian philosophy, which is super deviant and carries the identity marker “Indian,” to talk trash about identity politics.  It’s almost like Indian philosophers said things about the tangle between contingent features of a person and more abstract, universal conceptions of personhood.  We’ll never be sure about that unless we can stuff this garbage about identity politics into the Closet of Bogus Things and get on with investigating what Indian philosophy has to say.

Item 456.LOL:  Cosmopolitanism requires a western canon, since those western
canonical sorts had the Biggest Ideas, ideas so big they embraced us all in the warm hug of the ambitiously universal or at least the quick squeeze of the suitably general.   Step outside this canon and you’ll find only the cold loneliness of small ideas, a hug-less hellscape of the merely parochial and culturally idiosyncratic.  Seriously, out there you’ll only find the quaintly peculiar, like vast swaths of philosophy that never really went theistic, as if postulating a deity wasn’t the most inevitable explanation for all manner of things (as if!).  You’ll find eccentric bits of theorizing that never divided reason from emotions, as if splitting these off isn’t the quick work of a moment and indeed as if wisdom might involve some emotional competency (as if!).  You’ll find quirky and bizarrely prolonged ruminations of obscure phenomena like family, talk that makes it sound as if we all have one (as if!).  On second thought, and maybe we’re just being emotional here, these small, parochial ideas are sounding pretty cool.  So let’s stuff this “cosmopolitan” conceit in the Closet of Bogus Things.

Item 287.SMH:  People only want quality, so if deviants could just show them “the
Proust of the Papuans,” they would read him.  To be sure, this bit of Bogus is only said by the Proust-ignorant, given that no real readers of Proust could wish more of him on the world.  Well, maybe that’s unfair to Proust.  But having read Proust ourselves, we can’t help observing that Proust is an acquired taste.  We noticed this most when, in a fit of Proust-passion, we gave everyone Remembrance of Things Past as Christmas gifts.  Their lack of appreciation and gratitude alerted us that maybe judgments regarding quality are least reliable where something is newest and unfamiliar.  True, we’re tempted to say that Proust is just excruciating, but let’s be clear, we’ve not gotten better reactions by subsequent efforts.  The Kant Christmas also didn’t go well.  Despite our beneficence in giving the whole family copies of the first critique, efforts to stimulate happy dinner conversation about the transcendental unity of apperception have so far come to nought but blank stares.  It’s like part of learning is learning to be curious, and maybe even tolerating the unfamiliar and initially quite confusing in order to discover complexities one couldn’t initially discern.  We, at least, are going to run with that as an operating assumption.  And so “people only want quality” as a naïve dismissal of the new (to them) will be stuffed away to gather the dust it so richly deserves.

Item 184.ADIH:  Truth-seeking is best accomplished through agonism and if you don’t
like that, you’re probably a weenie or (gasp) a girl.  Aggression is practically an untruth-seeking missile:  Fire it off and next thing you know all the untruths will be righteously slain, littering the dialogic landscape like so many bloody corpses.  Truth:  The Last Man Standing.  Truth:  Thou art an angry god before whom we sacrifice all manner of lesser creatures, consecrating thy clarion bell with blood our victims (a.k.a., people who don’t see things the way we do).  Truth:  Thou hast felled all before thy mighty wrath and thy even yet more formidable pedestrian bad manners.  To those lesser sorts who behold thy divine visage and say, meh, maybe I’ll go where people are nicer:  Damn them to the hell of the inconsequential “truths” they discover in agreeable verbal intercourse with friendly others.  Yes, this pestilential hell of polite, good-humored, and generous inquiry is better populated and looks more fun, but that’s only because truth is hard and unhappy.  And, if we want to convince more masochists people to join our cause and take up arms, we may just have to whip and spank them into it!  Or, in the alternative, we could just mock their distaste for pugilistic self-display and call them weenies.  Aware that our critical excursion into middle-school romanticization of conversational combat is itself snarky and indeed gleefully aggressive in its mockery, we best leave off this performative contradiction while we still can.  So with that, let’s jam this association of truth-seeking with agonism into the Closet of Bogus Things… forcefully, belligerently, violently jam it in there.  

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