I’ve been reading entries from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. The entry on Alexander the Great will make you regret having read any other printed words first. So very interesting.
One aspect that makes it especially intriguing is how Plutarch, with the stated aim of capturing what moved these giants of history, references over and over again how dreams, bird signs, and other non-duplicatable, often mystical, pre-scientific experiences (and their interpretations) drove Alexander.
Whether to fight the battle today or tomorrow, Plutarch tells us, Alexander might decide based on a flock of birds having appeared. If Alexander found himself in a stretch of mourning after he killed someone in a fit of violent passion, he might have allowed his priestly oracles to interpret a dream and the interpretation was then used to stir him back to life.
This is on my mind today because I had a bizarre dream early this morning. Quick backstory: I have a checkride coming up. If the weather held, it would’ve been today. (Weather didn’t hold.) In any case, last night I went to bed around eleven. I awoke at four to use the restroom. I couldn’t fall back asleep.
Next thing I know, I was in some kind of building—like a cabin in a dense forrest or jungle—and my wife, stepson, and baby daughter were also around in the dreamscape. I can’t remember the beginning of the dream, but the drama grew when I saw a vividly green—off-white underbelly—and huge lizard (think something between Komodo dragon and the thing Obi Wan rides in Episode III). Like all dreams the exact sequence and details are hazy, but I know for certain that I was afraid of it and wanted to protect my family from it. It wasn’t on the attack, but I knew that it—by nature—would try to bite anything that got close enough for it to grab hold of.
My wife wasn’t as afraid as I was, and actually was, herself, in the process of removing two smaller lizards that had climbed onto her, as if it was no big thing.
The rest of the dream was basically of the theme that I was very worried and fearful of the big lizard, while nobody else’s demeanor matched my concern. It was uncomfortable, but in the end I awoke.
My interpretation? In my rookie days of contemplating the meaning of my dreams, I would’ve overlooked the first and major point of this dream, being, despite the general theme of fear, I was not eaten or fatally attacked. This leads me to acknowledge that the dream means I have nothing to fear. I will prevail.
Secondly, the fact that my wife was there and almost carelessly removing small lizards—while I was fearing the big one—means that I had something to do with the size of the lizard after me, means that I didn’t handle business when the lizard was small. This, then, I interpret to mean that I am the cause of the fear. I let my anxiety (likely over the pending checkride) grow disproportionately. How to fix that? Daily preparation. Fight small, winnable battles as they come rather than feeding the beast the fruits of procrastination.
Now let me ask you, dear reader, a question. Hasn’t this little blog post made me more likable? Isn’t it more relatable? President Trump is so anti-authority as it stands, I can’t see why this type of thing wouldn’t help him achieve the immortality that he seems to desire. I’m serious. None of us have a real understanding of just exactly what makes him wake up in the morning. And even if we believe it’s “love of America”, that still doesn’t really tell us much. But through dreams and bird signs etc, and how he responds, we’d be sure to see a fuller picture—maybe even one we like.
As usual, I feel like I understand my “opponent” through and through. And as usual, despite my great efforts to understand, for my part, I feel misunderstood. This feeling besets me strongest whenever I read about myself from my “opponent’s” perspective. Upon concluding such reading, I just don’t recognize myself. So I’m asking you, dear, mask-wearing, “woke”, and godless leftist, please, argue with the real me. That’s all I ask. This “being misunderstood”, then, is the problem that this post will attempt to remedy. There are two points to be made before getting to the title claim.
Firstly, regarding masks, those in favor of mandating mask-wearing are doing an outstanding job of analogizing their reasons for wanting to bring the full force of the law into the equation. Most recently, the chorus goes: “It’s common sense, no different than speed limits.” Sticking with analogizing (or stooping down to analogizing–as if adults can’t speak plainly or understand plain speaking), my response is: “No, mask-wearing is not like speed limits. Instead, on the driving theme, mask wearing is like middle-aged men driving sports cars.” Put plainly, my belief is that a pandemic can no more be stopped by a mask than aging can be stopped by driving sexy cars.
Secondly, regarding “woke” as a label, I just learned something fascinating. Did you know that before the Civil War, abolitionists had formed firearm-less militias which trained in the middle of the night and subsequently had the nickname, the “Wide-Awakes“? Take a moment to ponder this fact. In the past, the nickname “Wide-Awakes” was applied to those who remained awake during the night hours in efforts to abolish slavery. And abolish slavery they did. Today, uneducated, over-educated, or mis-educated citizens use the label, “woke”. The difference, denoted by the linguistic variation, is staggering, to my thinking. And if I was hurt and mad and everything the “woke” folks are supposed to be, then I’d want everything to do with “Wide-Awakes” and nothing to do with “woke” if I was trying to accomplish anything, to include how my nickname came to be. My reason is simple. Nothing about being “Wide-Awake” betrays stupidity. As in, ask, “Why are you ‘Wide-Awake’?” And a perfectly sound answer would be, “Because it will take extra effort to overcome business as usual.” Whereas everything about being “woke” betrays stupidity. Ask, “What were you ‘woke’ out of?” The answer will either be a commercial truckload of bullshit or *crickets*. And so I’ll tell you. “You were woke from stupidity. And if you were stupid then, you’re probably still stupid.” Such is life.
Now for the good stuff. I want to record here an observation on the left’s prideful godlessness. The left loves being godless. Good for them. To a Christian, this godlessness is a repugnant, prideful, and foolish idea. But I realized something last night while on a walk. The left may not believe in supernatural gods, like the Christian does. But they do believe that the power typically designated to such supernatural beings is real. How do I know? Because of what they want men to do. Trump is a failure as a leader because of many things, they say. Most recently, the left is holding Trump accountable for his inability to both exorcise racism from the human heart and heal sickness–and not just of one person, but of the millions. For the great majority of history and populations, people voiced these very natural and noble requests as “prayers” to gods. Today, the godless left encourage using “votes.” The problem here, the left’s problem, is not the method or the message. The problem is the recipient. Trump can no more accomplish the left’s demands than can Zeus, Jove, or Allah. But that won’t stop the godless left from holding him accountable. This incoherence is just weird.
Men as gods. Seems like we’ve tried this before. Yes, I’m sure of it.
Hey, you! That’s right. I’m talking to you. Get with the program! With the advent of America, July 4, 1776, in this country, every man’s a king. And no man’s a god.
I’m so tired of leaders who attempt to dupe us with this, “It’s a marathon not a sprint,” talk.
Everyone knows the only reason they say it is they know they are making unbelievable decisions with obviously disastrous consequences. The analogy fails for a few reasons, but the most glaring is that there are two elements to the races mentioned: speed and distance. An analogy works best if there’s only one element.
Maybe it is obvious to you, but I don’t even know which one they mean. Do they mean, “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for a long time?” Or “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for many more miles?”
I know, I know, you think there’s no way they mean “miles”. Okay. So let’s look at the time comparison.
The world record for a marathon is run at a pace of 2m54s per kilometer which is 174s. Divided by 10, that is 17.4s per 100 meters. The world record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58s—so about twice as fast a pace.
But by now I’ve thoroughly confused myself because I don’t see the point anymore. Is the leader saying “Recovery is going to take twice as long as you think?” If that was all they were trying to say, I’d think they could say it—and follow it up with data on how long we think it’s going to be and how long it’s actually going to be (and that it’s double). And then I get suspicious because if they won’t say the “twice as long” thing in plain terms—no analogy—then I want to know why.
As I figured this, it came to mind, that with a sustained 17.4 second hundred meter dash for an entire 26.2 mile marathon (421+ sprints), I hardly think anyone would suggest the marathon runner is giving less than his absolute best effort every single step, every life-giving breath—no different than the sprinter. Both men are running their absolute fastest for the duration of the race. Hmm. Duration. Are they simply wanting us to acknowledge the problem is a long one? Why not just say that? I know, because it doesn’t make sense. Because then they’d have to define the problem. Because in their inability to define the problem, they’d look weak. So rather than look weak, they’re going to try to dupe us. Here’s a sarcastic big thumbs up.
Now it’s my turn to use the analogy. Hey, leaders! We’re not stupid. But we also aren’t seeing all that you are. So you have some advantage. Please do your best—including the way you communicate to us. For now, stop using this stupid analogy as if it means something.
I’ve swung back-and-forth quite a bit during this pandemic. The two ends would best be characterized by denial and anxiety. Today something new is bubbling up. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been bamboozled.
It started as I considered this notion of “essential”. Actually, it started by reading what exactly was “essential” according to the government, and seeing how markedly it differed from my previous understanding of the word.
Now, it continues to build as I focus on how this is exactly how a socialist economic system works: Central planning. In other words, someone, not me, decides what I believe is essential.
Before the pandemic, Americans were doing just fine determining what was essential for their life. If we made a lot of money, we couldn’t live without extravagance. If we didn’t make any money, we survived by driving for Uber.
We were never satisfied with our fancy cars and ever changing diets, or we were eternally grateful to be able to make more money at will.
Now, the government is both feeding us the horrifying information about the disease and determining which parts of our lives are essential. This is a problem.
More pointedly, I just want to repeat that Major League Baseball is essential to summer.
Hey, You! Sleepy-head! Wake up! What is essential to you?
This post is tricky for two reasons. Firstly, the child I’ve been observing could someday read it. Secondly, while it’s true that you’re reading this, I’m not sure you’re ‘literate’.
To cancel out any negative repercussions possible within the first reason, I want to clarify that my intentions are to simply record an observation that is interesting to me. There’s no judgement here. You didn’t cause yourself to be illiterate.
Regarding the second reason, I consider literacy to include the actual ability to imagine that you’re someone else. Literacy is not about lofting the sounds of symbols into the air. It is about understanding the author’s written ideas, their point-of-view, inasmuch as they can be understood by a reasonable person.
Quickly, then, the word of the day is “mimic”. That’s the best way I can think to capture the process. I have now watched for many months a unique-to-me case of an illiterate child growing up. They look just like us. Dress like us. Eat the same food. Drink the same beverages. But when it comes to talking, they exhibit a totally different pattern. Without having been read to in the womb, without having been read to as an infant, without having been read to as a toddler, without having begun to read in kindergarten, without having been reading on their own for the next three years, the illiterate child can only mimic sounds.
Think bird calls or mating calls–nature style.
I suppose in the pre-television/pre-entertainment-on-demand days this might have been an acceptable path to wisdom. But in our day, what this can mean is the child picks the reaction they like best–say laughter–and then begins to mimic or simply repeat the words which the characters uttered which preceded the laughter. Again, think about how a young animal might learn to imitate its parent’s audible warning or mating calls.
The important, and new-to-me, thing that I want to draw attention to is the lack of thinking. At the illiterate level, the child makes noises to obtain desired responses. Maybe crying for food, age-inappropriate jokes for laughter, coughing for a hug, gulping loudly for encouragement–all things that would be missed by a deaf parent.
Even more to the point, the illiterate child can start to use words instead of sounds, but–and don’t miss this–to the child the words are still merely sounds. They are empty words. If another set of words accomplished the desired goal, the illiterate child would use those. For the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.
Put inversely, coherence has no place. Truth has no place. Consistency has no place. Particulars have no place.
Again, for the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.
There is a flip-side, too. If I’m right, it means that for the literate there is something more in life.