The auto-immune? Well, other than in a metaphorical sense, it’s mine. (In the metaphorical sense, it’s as damaging as the attack on our culture, already, by causing fear, despondency and above all despair.)
It was supposed to get better when we moved. To an extent it has, because I don’t have the awful respiratory symptoms I got in Colorado. My breathing is pretty much normal, save for a tickle at the back of my throat, which becomes a dry, shallow cough when I lay down, and that’s normal for everyone here in Spring, I think.
It’s not the awful migraines I got in Colorado when the trees were blooming, either. My thinking is fine.
But the eczema, the thing that most responds to stress (and carbs, but I’ve actually been good-ish. Oh, not perfect, but careful) is through the roof. It’s so bad, I capitulated and will be taking a prednisone taper. (You’ve been warned. I don’t become an *sshole on pred, I just become sarcastic. And apparently funny. Heaven help us.)
Why am I so stressed? Well, there’s personal reasons, including the fact some of you have decided the present book is cursed, and I’m tired of it not being done. Today or bust!
OTOH… I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. And the stress itself/the anxiety is scaring me.
The last time I was this unable to stay away from the news was right after 9/11. I was writing the third Shakespeare book, and I literally couldn’t concentrate if I didn’t check the news every 10 minutes. I finally turned Fox News on, really low, and worked in front of it. I figured if something went really, really bad I’d hear a whistle or air raid siren or something.
My problem right now is that there’s no news station I can tolerate on even as background. There just isn’t.
Oh, yeah, before that the only time I was this on edge, like I was waiting for the other shoe, was when nuclear tensions were very high.
And yes, I do realize what Putin has threatened, and yes, I think he’s as nuts as our afflictions, which is to say very nuts indeed.
But I really don’t expect that, and I certainly don’t expect that where I live.
So why am I this stressed — on the edge of the chair, adrenaline pumping, ready to fight or flee? — I don’t know.
It could be after a long life in an insane world my reason has finally capitulated. It’s certainly possible, if not logical.
Anyway, that’s the auto-immune.
Now as to the culture war–
Yesterday in some blog — could be here, in the comments. I’m looking so often, it all runs together, and it’s hard to figure out what I read where, let alone what it means — someone said something that started out absolutely right, and then went completely wrong.
They reminded us that politics is downstream from culture. And then, bizarrely, strangely, said we had to do all the work of recapturing the culture from zero, because the left captured all the institutions.
<Hits head on desk repeatedly, then kneels to find eyes that rolled under the desk. Right. Now that’s done.
I am used to people buying the assumptions of the left. This is because, well, we all went to the same schools, and we have largely for many years consumed the same entertainment and some of those assumptions come built in, right?
But it doesn’t mean that’s true.
The assumption of the left has always been that you can remake a culture from the top down.
They’re not exactly wrong. Not precisely. You can. There are mechanisms for that. The most common one is the dreaded “imperialism.” In other words, conquest, massacre, slavery.
When you kill all the men, rape and impregnate all the women, you don’t make the old culture disappear precisely — the mothers will teach the children some words, in that long space in childhood where everyone is surrounded by women. And they will teach them some stories. And the kids will learn something by example — but you create an hybrid, and the culture that you conquered is weaker.
To an extent they’ve been trying to emulate that. In the west without the wholesale massacre. They captured the institutions, and punished and rewarded aspects of the culture. When I say we’ve been occupied by the enemy for 100 years, I am not exactly kidding.
What they have forgotten — the left does this, over and over — is that just like no two individuals are the same, no two cultures are the same. And while remaking a culture by pillage and rape works, how it works is…. mixed.
There seem to be mechanisms in human cultures to reward what works, long term. I don’t know how else to put it, and unfortunately we don’t — in any sense — have a functional discipline of sociology. It’s all lies, assumptions and bullshit, which doesn’t allow us to understand cultural processes. At all.
But we do know things. For instance, most of the religion of the Aztecs is lost in fact, and has to be reconstituted, because the mothers and grandmothers did not pass it on to their children. (The bits that come through are horrifying, but the gangs are in fact doing what Wiccans do with witchcraft, and making it up with bits and pieces of the old. It did not survive.)
On the other hand, though Rome was very thoroughly conquered, in its provinces and dependencies by Swabian and Vandal and eventually Moor and German…. it remains. You can’t walk down the street in these places without realizing that Rome never fell, that in all essentials, good and bad and well, meh it remains. Despite the fact that genetically it’s been overwhelmed and replaced.
We can’t expect the left to realize that, but we should. In the same way we should realize that the “conquering culture” never was. It was an ersatz creation of intellectuals, an insane hodge podge, bloodless and goofy that would be laughable if it hadn’t put a hundred million (and many more uncounted) human beings in their graves.
Put it another way, the culture they brought in wasn’t a real culture. There were no grandmothers who told tales to the conquerors in their cribs, tales that will come through when they talk to their sons. There wasn’t a real language that came with it. There weren’t the assumptions in that language.
It was all a fevered dream from the mad mind of Marx, seasoned with blood lust and envy, and intellectuals’ sense that they should be in charge.
As such, what it had as weapons was the cool kids sarcasm, the empty ironic platitudes of the teenager, and a fever to take everything apart and deconstruct it, because if everything was destroyed paradise would emerge. (It is this idea, that communism and egalitarian paradise are natural to humans that did the most damage. The first to get in the time machine and strangle Rousseau in his crib will have done humanity a service.)
It’s been falling apart almost from the moment it was implemented over us. Look, the people never actually bought it. Not really. Not even the educated.
How many of us know hard-core lefties who, in their private life, behave more like conservatives than the conservatives? Not just save and teach morality to their kids, but also try not to pay the IRS etc?
Most of us, I’d wager.
The only way the over culture, the conquering culture, the top down culture could hold its sway was to keep every dissent tamped down. That requires it to control everything. Not just the publications, not just the schools, not just the news, but entertainment, and peer to peer and EVERYTHING.
They almost managed it. They were aided by the mass-communication culture of the 20th century. They were aided by WWI and WWII and the cultural/governmental overreach it facilitated. They were aided by mass transportation, and by conquering schools and newspapers.
But it’s been falling apart since the end of the 20th century. Somehow, the conquered west figured it out, and even before the internet, a lot of people were treating the news like the Pravda. (There is no truth in Pravda.) And analyzing them, or even inverting them in their minds.
If they hadn’t been, Reagan and Thatcher would never have been.
And then the internet accelerated things, and showed each of us we aren’t alone.
Sure, politics are downstream from culture. Culture is now overflowing and washing away politics. If that weren’t true, the frantic cheating late at night, in the 2020 elections would be unnecessary. And the conquering Junta would not have barricaded itself in the capital for months, shaking with fear of retribution. (Retribution always comes when you no longer expect it, of course, but you can’t expect these ignoramuses to know history.) And they wouldn’t have tried to create an ersatz insurrection to discredit insurrections. And they wouldn’t be doing increasingly panicky and crazy stuff that everyone can see, thereby destroying any illusions that they are the organic and popular face of culture.
They are now the teacher (Heaven forgive me for what we did to that teacher) frantically praying and screaming orders in front of the class full of 14 year old girls — which is the rest of the people. Really all the people in the west — who are dancing on desks and making fun of her. Any minute now, she’ll lock herself in the closet, screaming prayers, and will emerge from it only to be taken to a rest home, with tranquilizers and lots of rest. Lots of rest.
Except when you still have the mechanics of power at your disposal, when the crazy, overwhelmed teacher can push a nuclear button or heaven knows what, that “locking oneself in the closet” might take a more destructive form. Much more destructive.
And I guess I found out why I’m on edge, and checking the news every five minutes.
We’ve largely taken the culture. It wasn’t hard, once we had the ability to talk back. (Frankly, the culture was never really taken by them. All they could do was project illusion.) We’re now overflowing the politics, and even with fraud, they’re getting terrified.
But they still have the mechanisms of force.
They won’t win. Force alone can’t vanquish a culture. But dear Lord, the damage they can do. To us, to the world, to civilization.
O Trinity of love and pow’r,William Whiting
Your children shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire, and foe,
Protect them where-so-e’er they go;
Thus, evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.