Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Tribute Power Pays to Truth

The insistence that we adhere to formalistic niceties, whether social or ideological or methodological, is often little more than a veiled demand that we refrain from striking at the heart of the matter.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Of Course We All Agree

So early this morning I was lying there on the sofa with my laptop, websurfing or whatever. And all of a sudden this chat window pops up on my screen.

Chat window. I always leave chat running in the background, but it's been ages since anyone has actually contacted me by chat. Chat? That's so 2002!

It was an old friend of mine, in a city far away, and without so much as a howdy-do he launched into dumping paragraph after paragraph of turgid text on me, all having to do with some big political-agitation to-do which is currently going down in his city. I might've been tempted to wonder if it was a spamming chatbot that had seized control of his account, but I know my friend and I know his writing style. It was him, all right.

And what struck me about his sudden unprompted communication was, he just blithely took it for granted that I was in complete agreement with him. In complete agreement with his highly partisan take on the political doings presently breaking in his city. You know? Of course we all agree. Unstated, unspoken, but blithely and entirely unconsciously taken for granted.

In fact I am largely in sympathy with my friend's side of the cause. I suppose I'd agree with them about 65% of the way, with serious reservations regarding the other 35%. But my friend's approach left no room for 65% and 35%, no room for divided hearts or divided minds. It was black and white, all or nothing, a war of the children of light versus the children of darkness, and which side are you on, brother, which side are you on?

No, come to think of it, it was not even which side are you on? It was simply of course we're all on the same side of this issue.

I've noticed this attitude in some people before, and it irks me. Even where I'm a large part of the way toward agreeing with them on the issues, it irks me. Because to me it doesn't go without saying that "of course we all agree." No, I generally assume that there are complexities and ambiguities to the issue, and that sometimes intelligent people of good will are going to disagree, and that there are good people on either side of every issue and people with hearts of darkness on either side of every issue.

But there are people, and my dear friend is one of them, who would never dream of seeing matters in such a light. No, for them it's as clear cut as sliced bread: of course we all agree.

If my friend understood that I'm not 100% in agreement with him, I don't think he'd be angry. I think he'd just be puzzled, perplexed, and bewildered. Not that he's a bad person: if you were in need, he'd give you the shirt off his back. It's just that his moral universe includes no calculus for conceiving of people who are good, intelligent, informed, and largely sympathetic to his cause, but only 65% in agreement with him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beef Jerky

At the little family owned brick meat market in town, I picked up some beef jerky the other day. This is not mass produced industrially extruded beef jerky like you'd find in the supermarket or in a convenience store. This is homemade beef jerky, hand made in small batches by the family that's owned this meat market for something like four generations.

Not cheap, but it's worth it. Really, this beef jerky reminds me all over again of the difference that quality makes. We live in a world where quality is often sacrificed to convenience, uniformity, and a bland mass produced sameness. But go out of your way, go a little off the beaten path, and you'll find quality still being made, quality still available to those who don't embrace a cheap plasticized blanderized fifth-rate world.

I've often said it before, and I'll say it again: Quality counts, and quality is worth it.