Sunday, July 5, 2009


In her commentary in The New York Times today Maureen Dowd describes the way in which people openly cite the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder when speaking of Sarah Palin. I'm not supposed to go there, but it's interesting that even George Will sees her resignation as going nowhere in particular, and certainly not in the direction of eventual Presidential viability. Politics is hard, and not particularly glamorous unless one is very good at it indeed, and Palin seems to have seen an alternate route in rising above the fray, in wafting into an empyrean of Absolute Truth. She has a direct line.

At a birthday party I overheard my wife's uncle-by-marriage confiding his earnest hope that Obama will be assassinated. A democratically elected official, unless of course our count too was "rigged." What is one to say to that? To believe that one's interlocutors of the opposing party are beyond discussion, and can be meaningfully engaged only by annihiliation--is this not, really, fascism in the most general sense of the word?

Those with whom no dialogue is, in principle, possible can only be ignored and tolerated, eliminated, or perhaps enslaved. To face the incomprehensible Other, with whom no meaningful relation can be conceived, is an uncanny experience. Mysticism is always such a tempting option, but unfortunately it entails only a delicious feeling, and not reliable cognitive content; its mirror image is paranoia...


Retriever said...

Somewhat confused by that last paragraph.

Mysticism is often far from delicious, and is about far more than a feeling, tho that phrase sounds like a dreadful rock and roll song from the distant days of youth....It is about aligning oneself with, attuning oneself to, and communing with the deity (however one may conceive of said deity) despite one's own individual ignorance, sloth, wickedness and self-centeredness. It is primarily about communication not separation, about destroying the boundaries of self in order to be part of something and Someone greater. And no, not the Borg Collective...It is about reaching out to the Other rather than demonizing them. In everyday terms, it is about rising above even prayer for one's enemies (which the faithful are bound to offer) to some kind of closeness to them in the presence of a God who loves with no favorites.

I am not fond of the Anointed One, but I don't wish him assassinated. Wouldn't want those darling, already too-precocious little girls' childhood cut even shorter than it already has been. If I really wanted to hurt him, I would just take away his teleprompter, his smokes and his Blackberry.

It can be excruciating listening to the things relatives and friends say about political figures. I have the reverse problem to yours, as I am the savage conservative surrounded by liberal friends and relatives.

I just remind myself that, as Will Rogers said, "Politics is Applesauce".

I am heartily sick of people attaching diagnoses to them all (tho I personally amuse myself privately by so diagnosing obnoxious bosses, relatives and other people I actually know well, and who cause me real pain)

Anonymous said...

To have such an explicit validation of everything that is counter to your deeply held beliefs/political persuasion in the form of an elected leader is so abhorrent and belittling. Even if you don't physically revolt against the offence, you still spiritually begrudge everything associated with the symbol of your hostility. The majority vote somewhat rubbishes your own values, casting them aside as false. What's left? - a constant reminder that your opinion is of no consequence. The only way to reverse the damage and regain ego-ground is to puff and bluster about assassination wishes and whatnot at civil dinner parties, hoping other guests will overhear; actually perform assassination; or the other alternative is self-assassination.

Or become an ascetic....or maybe a Buddhist monk...

...or retreat into madness/become a politician.

Novalis said...

I don't have a problem with mysticism per se, it's just that I don't see it as a basically social experience--rather the opposite. When people try to make otherworldliness a social impulse and expectation, the result can be alarming.

This had been on my mind while reading Sean Wilentz's long commentary on Lincoln in the current New Republic (, in which he makes the case for Lincoln as canny politician more than saint or poet. Ironically, of course, Lincoln ended up spearheading the "elimination of the Other," but only when events forced his hand. But when people mutter even in far-fetched terms today about Texas or Alaska seceding from the U.S., our differences seem grievous...