Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Sell Your Soul

I tried to ignore this story about a guy complaining about his father who is a "right wing a-hole." Depending upon the day and my mood, I can fit or be made to fit into this pigeonhole. And when I have participated in such conversations, it's generally been unpleasant.

But then I heard just enough of Andrew W. K.'s reply that I realized he was making a point closely related to one that I had made a while back. So, if he's agreeing with me, he must be right. Right? I had noted that when interacting with someone who is selling something, their humanity becomes eclipsed by their sales pitch. And if the product is the Republican/Democrat party, the sales pitch is political propaganda. Talk to a spokesman/activist and you can find yourself conversing with someone who is indistinguishable from a spambot.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Social Justice Warrior, you just failed my anti-Turing test."

What Andrew W. K. said that snagged my attention was this sentence: "Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man." Maybe the dad was so monomaniacal in his right-wing advocacy that it eclipsed his humanity. That's a real risk. OR maybe the "Son of a Right Winger" was so monomaniacal in his left-wing beliefs that it blinded him.

I have to acknowledge the humanity of humans who are anti-Turing test failures.

This turned my notion of an anti-Turing test inside out. Or it provided a hint at what an anti-Turing test should look for. Humans can recognize other humans. And should recognize other humans. Seriously bad things happen when people ignore/deny the humanity of the other. Prior to the Civil War Huck Finn might say, "Nobody got killed except some n-----s." Hutus deny the humanity of Tutsis. Turks deny the humanity of Armenians. Nazis deny the humanity of Jews. (Yes, I've Godwinned this note. Deal with it.)

If you can't/won't see the humanity of the other, your own humanity is jeopardized.

Perhaps this is what older generations meant by "selling one's soul." 

Democrats turned the funeral of Senator Paul Wellstone into a political pep-rally. They got spanked by the electorate because of its obvious ghoulishness. But the ghoulishness wasn't obvious to them because the humanity of everyone involved had been sacrificed on the altar of partisan interests. The same lack of perspective is on display when a "Pro-Lifer" murders an abortionist.

When you read classics, the ancients' axe-grinding occasions only a quizzical "what?" But we read classics because the ancients did more than just grind axes: they shared some truth about humanity they understood. Propaganda has a limited shelf-life after which it becomes--at best--a joke, then irrelevant.

One must retain one's soul in order to create art. Art manifests something transcendent and it flees pornography. This makes some think that Liberalism is killing art when it asserts that Art is always political. Political totalitarianism is a blight on our culture.

If you deny the assertion that Art must put the correct political message first, you'll be called an International Lord or Hate, a cismale gendernormative fascist, or something as bad. Of course, I'd rather be called that then sell my soul to The Cause--any cause.

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