There is a poignant scene in one of the Giovanni Guareschi Don Camillo books, (set in mid-century Italy, where communism and Catholicism are fighting it back and forth. They’re humorous, profoundly human, and easy reads. The stories are like 200 words each.) in which, during a period of high strife, the priest goes out to bless the river. Btw, if you need examples of how to be a flea on the side of the commies, that character is terribly subversive in little ways (as well as liking to hit them on the head. I might have taken him for a model when I was a pre-teen. Sigh. And Comrade Don Camillo is the best book for how to turn things on their heads if you’re in deep hiding in a lefty stronghold, either professional or geographic.)
Anyway, in the little village on the Po river where the priest and the communist mayor fight it out, the river is an ever present danger, and people cope with it the way they have coped with such things throughout history: every year the priest goes to the river and blesses it, in the hopes that it will become (I am remembering in Italian, the English translation is probably different) “A well behaved citizen and stay within its bounds.”
Now, this is not magic, of course, and the priest explains that. Blessing the river does not guarantee that the river won’t burst out of its bed and flood the village (later on in the book there are accounts of a flood, and if you think that a book can’t paint a picture, be sure it can. For the rest of my life, I’ll carry the image of the priest saying mass in the deserted and flooded village, while across the river, on the safe bank, his flock who fled the flood kneel on the muddy soil at the tolling of the consecration bell. BTW Guareschi is the writer I’d like to be when I grow up. Trained as a journalist, he uses minimal words, but the images stay with you.) It’s just that blessing it gives people hope it won’t, and allows them to live in a precarious place, at a precarious time without losing their minds. (It is important to remember that whatever else humans are, they’re creatures of ritual and habit, and sometimes those are the only panaceas for difficult situations.)
Well, the communists have their dander up, so they tell the priest they want to march in the procession to bless the river with their flags and paraphernalia and the priest says no, they say anyone in the procession will get beaten. They demand the priest cancel it, and people lose their minds. So, the priest says he’ll go alone, if needed. Needless to say, the communists follow, in what is an intimidation maneuver (they have no new moves, really.)
So, Don Camillo, without looking back, gets to the river and prays that the Lord will keep the river within its bounds. And of course, because he knows the audience at his back, he says “If the houses of decent people could float, I’d ask you for a flood like Noah’s. But since the houses of decent people are made of the same stone and brick and sink like the houses of scoundrels, I beg you to make the river behave.”
In case you’re wondering what went wrong in America, and why we are where we are: we forgot our houses can’t flood.
While the business of America is business, and we went about being business like, realist and productive, like a nation composed of middle class people who just want to live in peace, we let our institutions of learning, the government and every other “official” mechanism get infested with Beardo the Weirdo. (The females are worse.)
While the rest of America and the rest of the world recovered from the craziest ideas of the mid sixties to the mid seventies “Everyone must have sex with everyone else! Kids are sexual! Swallow all the pills that make you see weird things! The noble savage was totally a thing, and if we become savages we’ll be noble! The west is the worstest civilization ever, and the rest were all peaceful, sweet and wise” we didn’t realize, or didn’t care that the universities didn’t.
This was stupid, because we are in fact tied to the madmen.
From the universities came the people who staffed the media, the government, the arts, and the knowledge industry all of which are, yes, addicted to credentials.
People ask why Trump was so bad at hiring for government: Well, because he had to mind credentials, and credentialing is now corrupt at all levels, from your elementary school kids to the highest judges in the land. (Hello Queijada Brown, you incredibly ignorant and stupid creature. I don’t know if you started stupid but having achieved the level you don’t know what’s a woman is quite a high mark of how far you’ve come.)
Trust me on this. There are people who are still knowledgeable and productive in their fields, but even in stem this means that they had to learn a lot on their own, and a lot of it against their training. Yes, there are still good STEM programs, but they’re not the ones you expect, and they’re despised by all right thinking — and wealthy — people.
As for non-stem, what happened to it was the result of trying to make the soft sciences into “Science”. Most of the studies are irreproducible. Most of the cherished shibboleths are as useful as blessing a river against floods: they might make you feel better, but they really don’t do much more.
The problem being that instead of being faced with reality and reigning in, Academia and the “factories of (mostly counterfeit) knowledge” were ignored and allowed to spin more and more out of control.
And most of the insanity pouring out right now is traceable to that. As is, btw, the assumption that the insanity means you’re “smart.” Because it’s associated with the “good” credentialing institutions.
That whole discussion in the old post about “if boys and girls were fed the same and had the same expectations set, they would grow up to be exactly alike” is what went into the universities in the seventies. It’s what I was taught as “science.” There were “experiments” that indicated this. (No, not really. What they indicated is that countries with better nutrition had their women grow taller and be stronger. No one looked at the boys.)
The whole “The world is coming to an end because humans are a cancer upon the Earth” whether from overpopulation (Snort giggle), overusing water, growing too much food, etc, were accepted “science” of the seventies (and mostly based on the “work” of Paul Ehrlich who is really a horror novelist masquerading as a futurist. Also, who wouldn’t know things like why we pasture cows in certain land, etc or even the water cycle if it bit him in the flesh part of his back. In fact, the man is a running (Screaming, moaning, idioting) advertisement for what a little bit of knowledge of statistics can do to a weak brain infected by perpetual panic and a greed for money.)
The whole “eat the bugs” is based on that and also on that old chestnut “Diet for a small planet” which was considered sane as late as the eighties. (It should be called “Diet for idiots who don’t realize we don’t live on spiney oak, but cows and goats do.”)
Worse, this garbage which had no contact with reality went into the universities in the mid seventies, and what came out is even crazier.
“Men and women could be exactly alike” (ignoring the true science of human biology) went in and what came out was “you can be any sex you want, and sex doesn’t really exist and gender is a construct.”
And the problem, ladies, gentlemen and curious aardvak is that we’re tied to the madmen.
We, the people who can still find reality with two hands and a seeing eye dog still need credentials. We need to hire people — doctors, or lawyers, or engineers — with credentials. We need to send our kids into these factories of insanity for the credentials. It’s all very nice to say “My kid won’t see the inside of a university, ever” and of course there are trades you can learn that are just as lucrative, but in the end it amounts to giving up the fields that require university credentials to the madmen.
And we’re tied to the madmen, who have now decided all knowledge is white supremacy and they’re just going to award degrees and posts depending on your paintchip color, your sex (which doesn’t exist, but it’s essential, nonetheless) and your impeccable Marxist beliefs. (Hello again, Queijada Brown, you sub-moronic life form.)
So…. What do we do? I don’t know. I know our houses won’t float any more than the madmen’s. But I also know that a flood is coming.
And that afterwards we’ll still need some institutions and some credentials, and that–
Well, what can’t go on won’t.
Part of that feeling you have of an impending storm that levels all things? I think metaphorically we’re getting ready for Noah’s flood. And like that one, it will be worldwide.
But be aware the waters will recede, no matter how awful the cost.
Build your arc, whatever shape that might take, so you and yours can come safe through the flooding. Move to a safer place, establish a network you can trust, make whatever preparations you need. (And here, I’ll point out Noah was right: two by two is easier. Don’t try going it alone. At least have friends.)
And, knowing the Huns, and who you are and what you do: learn. Lay in stocks of knowledge: real knowledge, real things, and real equipment to procure knowledge and real equipment to build and make real things.
At the end of this, we’ll need to rebuild the networks of knowledge. And some of us are addicted to the stuff and can’t help it. Read, write, practice. Learn whatever you can, even if it seems silly at the time.
Get ready to take the weight, because the structure is screaming and groaning, and the waters are already rising.
Be not afraid. Be prepared.