In a way I’ve always loved fog.
Literal fog, I mean.
For someone who lives with her head between worlds, fog can be magical. It obscures reality, it shifts, it obscures and reveals.
When I was a kid the village got thick, milky fogs. Okay, part of it was the fact that the city of Porto sent all its garbage to a fertilizer factory on a hill overlooking the village, and that — as a result and because of either lack of funds or lack of permits to build — the factory burned great big piles of garbage above the village almost every night (Yes, I do have asthma. Don’t ask.) The problem is that the village was in a valley and mom’s house was located about halfway up a slope coming up from what used to be a swamp before the railroad raised the ground to build on it (the other side were still swamps.)
The thick, heavy fog would settle there, and the smoke would weave through it, making it more opaque (also stinkier.)
I did not love the throat burning or the constriction in breathing, but I loved the shifting, obscuring and revealing quality of it. It was the sort of fog where you saw clearly maybe two feet in front of your face and where, as you advanced, anything might happen. That street light might turn out to be a UFO. The lights advancing towards you might not be a bicycle or a car going slow as heck, but a carriage from the age of sword fighters and romance.
You knew it wasn’t. You didn’t even really want it to be. (I told son the other day after we drove past something that might have been outlandish and was certainly surreal that we’re the sort of people who’ll never have adventures. We don’t get out to check it out. We like this world and this reality, thank you so much.) But it could imagine it was and make the world fractionally more magical, teeming with potential interest that wasn’t there before.
It’s in a way the same reason I like reading about lost civilizations. It’s not that I believe they existed or even want them to have exist (if many human civilizations have risen and fallen, that makes our prospects dim) but I like reading about it for the daydreams and the possibilities (which honestly would be easier if every “lost civilization researcher” weren’t obsessed with astrology. Why must it always be astrology?)
There are times, though, when fog is scary. The scariest drive of my life (which includes drives in snow storms and heavy rain) was the drive from Colorado Springs to Denver in a thick fog where we saw realistically maybe 5 ft in front of our bumper. On a highway that has a sudden drop on the right side. We couldn’t even tell where we were on the road, and just followed increasingly dimmer back lights.
And now I’m trying to get back to driving (after five years of very bad sight) I’m glad I took son to grocery with me two days ago. When we came out there was a fog mixed with frozen rain. Probably not too bad, but I’m night blind. The combination meant I’d not be safe to drive back, because it’s hard to see through that stuff.
That is more or less where we are, as a society.
The left has had control of education, of means of communication, of intellectual ideiation and narrative for a century. Full control, I mean. Before that they had partial control and toe holds. Also before that they were not as full on communist. All the things we “know” and were taught aren’t necessarily so.
And make no mistake, while the current crop of fog machine leftists are almost transparently inept, this wasn’t always so. Much of your ideas of everything from industrialization to the position of women in society to… well, anything is informed by very smart, very gifted men and women who believed in lying for their cause, and that sufficient lies would bring about utopia.
You realize this when you realize how lies shade differently in other countries, how you get people in Europe who earnestly believe the only alternative to socialism is monarchy, or that people were starving to death in Sweden just before socialists took over.
The lies corrupt everything, including the West’s view of itself. And it’s a fog.
It’s hard to drive when the fog obscures the road, and when you’re no longer sure where you came from. And there are drop offs, suddenly, on the left side, which will kill us not only as individuals but as a civilization. Certainly as a nation (ask Venezuela.)
And the new crop of leftists doesn’t even realize the lies their “ancestors” told. That’s why we get idiot children who honestly and earnestly think there were no women of note in SF/F before 1990.
Less idiotic ones but who have no children earnestly believe women are still told they can’t do math and shouldn’t go to STEM (across the board. Yeah, I’m sure there’s one here and there, but trust me, no.) And aren’t aware that the problem is that all these girls and women are being given “the has-vagina A” and thus rendered incapable of facing real competition in college. Because everyone is so afraid of “discouraging” a female.
It’s hard to set course in those cases. You might think you’re writing the most daring thing ever by being a woman with a female main character (or a gender fluid one — rolls eyes –) in a science fiction book. You might think that if only girls got more encouragement they’d all be engineers and mathematicians (if they got more rigor we’d have a bunch of more of them, I’d wager.) You might even think socialism is nothing to be scared of. After all the soviet union was communist not socialist. (Except that they never called themselves communist. And communist East Germany called itself Democrat. Let those who have ears hear.)
Your history, your literature, your news are covered in fog. It might be pleasant to imagine they’re something other than they are. Certainly if you believe in the power of the government to bring about utopia. But it doesn’t make it less dangerous. Because you can’t see the precipice clearly.
Some of us have taken it upon ourselves to get fog lamps and hit the road, but there’s too few of us and the space we clear is limited.
You have to know you’re driving in a fog and take due precautions. Don’t simply know all of our cultural references are wrong in some things and then assume they’re right in all the rest.
Months ago when talking to younger son, I asked him how we came out pretty close politically, since I discussed history, writing, engineering and science fiction with the boys, but never politics. And they were faced with such a barrage at school.
He said “You taught me to question everything. To look for proof. When you do that, the conclusions kind of end in the same place.”
Question everything. Not just what you’d like to question. Search out primary sources. Don’t think that because you were taught lies, the precise inverse is the truth. Things are never that simple and easy. Not in a world of humans. Question, search, look. If a theory seems too seamless, a view point without flaw; if there’s a just-so story that explains everything, it’s probably the fog creating a fairy tale.
The only way to drive through the fog is to take it slow and make very sure of your ground. Yes, sure, your predecessors back lights are useful, but make very sure they’re not just driving off a cliff and taking you with them.
There is a culture to rebuild. History to relearn.
And the fog must clear. Eventually.
Until then do what you can to see your way. Clearly.