Some time back, I was reading a book on life in the middle ages, and they tried to explain the mindset of the middle ages, and how different it was from ours. Like, you know, if you got sick, they wouldn’t think of giving you meds. They’d tell you to go to confession and communion, and to live a holy life. Because in their mind illness was not the opposite of health, illness was the opposite of living in grace. For illness to penetrate, you had to be in sin.
In the same way, their households might be filthy, but they paid scrupulous attention to the… cleanliness of their spiritual lives, which was not what we’d expect. I mean, it wasn’t so much concentrating on being good, and kind, and strictly moral, but more a superstitious appeasement of the disturbed forces of holiness. So you might make sacrifices, or go on pilgrimage, or whatever.
This wasn’t that strange a mental situation, because I sort of grew up with it in the village. People would naturally say things like “I knew that I got sick because I dropped my rosary in the dirt last month.”
And so, I understood and got it that this pattern of thought was the primitive thought that predated our scientific thinking and even our religious thinking, and was radically different from both, and yet still remained coexisting with our current thought.
It remained usually in the uneducated and the very young. I know until I was about 10 or so, I had a series of things I did/didn’t do in order for tests to go well. I still have occasional attacks of it. You know, if I wear a certain outfit on the day a book launches, I know it will do well. Something like that. It’s harder to get rid of all of it, but since the enlightenment we’ve at least had the idea that education was supposed to help, and that the scientific, modern life was supposed to not function like that.
I am not against mystical thought, mind. I think there is a mystical life, an attempt to draw nearer to something greater than us, perhaps to G-d himself, for those of us who are believers. BUT this is not the same as this type of magical thinking, which is the opposite of it, a sort of ocd compulsion and a game of tit for tat individual or cultural.
It’s okay kept on the fringes of normal life, in private circumstances. I mean none of us really care if you have to cut your sandwiches in octagons in order to be lucky in your work project.
The problem is that more and more — and unexpectedly — I run up against this type of thought in places I don’t expect.
We ran into it a lot over the puppy stuff. No matter how many times we told them we were in it for the stories, and because our story taste was different from theirs, they kept thinking magically. It went something like this “We’re good people, and we’re for minorities. So if these people don’t like the same stories we do, they must be racist and sexist.”
This was part of the nonsense that started Gallo’s flareup. She had some idea we’d get all upset at TOR publishing Kameron Hurley’s book. Because you know, we have different tastes than those primarily on the left who controlled the Hugos so long, so we don’t want them to … get published?
This only makes sense if the person saying it is inhabiting a magical world, where objects/people of certain valences are played against each other like some kind of card game.
This is not real. I mean sad puppy supporters might not — or might, I won’t because it’s not to my taste, but — read Hurley’s book, but we won’t recoil from it like a vampire from a cross. A Hurley book doesn’t magically cancel out a Torgersen book. Or vice versa.
On the good side, at least on that level, our side doesn’t act like that. We don’t say “ooh” at a new Ringo book because “Oooh, that will upset those liberals” we say “oooh,” because we’ll get to read it. Books are books and people are people, not points in some bizarre game.
But it didn’t hit me how weird things had gotten and how far magical thinking had penetrated EVERYWHERE, even in academia, until the http://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-blog/u-t-austin-anti-gun-protest-advocates-cocks-not-glocks-t17067.htmlcocks, not glocks campaign.
University of Texas grad Jessica Jin has started a campaign called Cocks Not Glocks, asking students to protest the introduction of legal guns on campus by open-carrying giant fake dicks on campus—the logic being that sex toys, although they are not deadly in most circumstances, are still banned while firearms are permitted.
As Jin puts it, a dildo is “just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.”
From here — and yep, I can see how this would baffle anyone not exposed to how our colleges work.
You see, I have no idea what Ms. Jin majored in, but I can sort of follow the tracks of her thought. Logically, carrying sex toys to campus to protest guns makes absolutely NO sense. I could see carrying signs, or … I don’t know, police whistles, if you’re convinced you’re completely safe if you can just call the police. I can even see, in a more sane way, wearing a protective vest and claiming this is better than guns for defense. I mean, at least they are in the same general kind of thing and sort of kind of address the problem in different ways.
BUT no. Because this is not reasoning. This is magical thinking. WORSE. This is magical thinking based on a world that doesn’t exist, a world that was sold to Ms. Jin (literally. College is expensive) by academics so divorced from reality that they can’t find it with two hands, a cane and a seeing eye dog.
In this world, you see, conservatives love guns and hate sex. This is all “explained” with pseudo Freudian patter about how guns are a substitute for the penis. This is total nonsense and old nonsense at that, stuff we LAUGHED at for being pseudo profound way back in the seventies.
But they absolutely believe that we defend the second amendment not because we want to be responsible for our own self-defense, not because we believe power derives from the individual and that therefore an individual must be capable of reining in the government when it gets out of control. No. They think we want guns because that’s the way we express our sexual repression. (Actually now I think about it, my gun obsessed friends are also the most sex-positive, so their idea not only is wrong, it’s bizarrely wrong.)
Since Ms. Jin has never considered that these stories she was sold are in fact stories with no relation to reality, her reasoning went something like “They’re carrying guns and that upsets me. I must carry something that upsets them. Ahah! Dildos.”
In an even mildly sane world, the press would have made her a laughing stock, because that reasoning makes no sense whatsoever.
But the press buys into the same imaginary world in which somehow the belief in guns for defense is a Freudian thing and so the “gun” value can be countered with the “dildo” value.
This is not grown up thinking. It’s magical thinking, in which complex issues get reduced to amulets and symbols, countered by other amulets and symbols.
Again, this is sort of the human default. And believing absurd things about those you believe to be the enemy is also completely normal. The left calls it “othering” and is completely oblivious to the fact that they do it. A lot.
But it’s still human-normal.
What is not normal, civilization speaking, is for a culture that reaps the benefits of science and rationality to devote a lot of its resources, its money, its personnel to TRAINING people into thinking this way and into treating complex concepts as magical symbols to be countered by other magical symbols.
More importantly I don’t know how we break through the indoctrination that these people so dearly paid for to convince them to think and discuss things in logical terms.
Before we all pay for it.