Arnold: “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States.”
Me: It was Kristallnacht? More like Lunch Recess at the Elementary School. Hype.
She opens: “How do we deal with all that has happened?”
Me: This is hype. Nothing earth-shattering has happened.
She says: “This was an attack on democracy itself.”
Me: I can see that you mean to call attention to how the timing was about the certification ceremony, but everyone knows it’s ceremonial. So no, it wasn’t an attack on democracy itself. It was an attack on a superficial ceremony. In the end, I don’t change my life because criminals engage in criminal activity. More hype.
She, demonstrating her own certifiable-ness, says: “This was a sin against history.”
Me: Hype. Your readership doesn’t even believe in sin. That’s only for Mexican immigrants, African immigrants, and conservatives—in other words, those who are generally thought to be dreamers.
Her: “On the rioters: Find them, drag them out of their basements, and bring them to justice.”
Me: I think that’s a Freudian slip. “Drag them out of their basements?” The only president-elect whose been in his basement all year is Biden. Oops. I meant, the only person. Person.
Her: “Throw the book at them.”
Me: You’re old.
Her: “Now to the devil and his apprentices.”
Me: The trouble with this implication is the sheer volume of voters who chose the devil. It’s not just a data point. Real people like the devil. The solution can’t disregard this fact. Your does, so your suggestion cannot be right.
Her: “As for the chief instigator, the president of the United States, he should be removed from office by the 25th Amendment or impeachment, whichever is faster. This, with only a week and a half to go, would be a most extraordinary action, but this has been an extraordinary time. Mike Pence is a normal American political figure; he will not have to mount a new government; he appears to be sane; he will in this brief, strange interlude do fine.”
Me: It’s not an extraordinary time. It’s Friday. Hype.
Her: “Removing him would go some distance to restoring our reputation, reinforcing our standards, and clarifying constitutional boundaries for future presidents who might need it.”
Me: The Left, who just won, and then won again, does not like our reputation, has double standards, and hates the constitution. His removal was enacted by people who don’t like our reputation, have double standards, and hate the constitution.
Her: “True conservatives tend to have a particular understanding of the fragility of things. They understand that every human institution is, in its way, built on sand. It’s all so frail. They see how thin the veil is between civilization and chaos, and understand that we have to go through every day, each in our way, trying to make the veil thicker.”
Me: My true-conservative fingers say, without hype, “Umm, okay. I see the difference and we’re definitely in the chaos. The rioters attacked a symbolic ceremony. Rebuking them with a symbolic 10 day early public flogging would only feed the delusion that our civilization’s adding flour. (Thickening agent.)
Her: “I have resisted Nazi comparisons for five years, for the most part easily. But that is like what is happening here, the same kind of spirit, as the president departs, as he angrily channel-surfs in his bunker.”
Me: You resisted for five years? And then when all that is broken is some glass, now you cave? History will never compare Trump to Hitler. In the beginning, it appeared—compared to traditional presidents—that Trump had some quirks that could start down the wrong path. But after five years any of us have seen enough to espouse informed pronouncements. Here’s mine. He was nothing—nothing—like Hitler. He was like Trump.
Closing thought: Peggy, dear, you’re wrong because of your premise. No one will be reading history in the future—no one of consequence at least. Your character, not Trump, took the hit with this one. You can’t cover your ass with one op-ed piece—not because the piece wasn’t clearly breaking ties, but because the piece was only written for a future audience who will never exist.
Now we wait to see who’s right. If they remove Trump, your finger is on the pulse. And I have a newfound respect for your influence. If they don’t, my finger is on the pulse. Good luck.
Let’s pretend for a moment that my claim, “It’s all hype,” is not your claim. Let’s now go further into this fiction and make it more fantastical too. Let’s have you be curious and bold and ask, “But, Pete, it seems pretty crazy out there. Why do you insist that it’s all hype?”
My answer, “Because of one key phrase that all the hucksters are using: recent memory.”
It’s bizarre actually. There’s some lingering spirit of truth in the profession, some agreed upon need to quantify the false claims, and yet they will not use a definite quantity.
“In all human history…” would be fine.
“Since 1963…” is perfect.
“As far back as I can remember…” is weak, but ultimately has a definite date.
“In my lifetime…” same.
No, sir. None of these are in play.
Because it’s all hype.
Gibbons—who one practicing (not professional—I stand corrected) historian friend of mine has labeled the “ubermensch from the era of the enlightenment through the industrial revolution”—in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote, “History, which undertakes to record the transactions of the past, for the instruction of future ages…”
The infamous battle which essentially was the first of the Revolutionary War was A. A battle, B. A losing battle, and C. A fight between two opponents.
Take a moment and imagine the Battle of Bunker Hill. Read up on it if it’s been a while. (I only did recently because it is a scene in GA Henty’s, “True to the Old Flag” adventure novel that I just was lent.)
Is war coming? How can that question ever not be answered in the affirmative? Of course war is coming. Unless we’re in war. Then peace is on the way. But after peace, war is coming. (And now you know I’ve read and understand Tolstoy.)
Are the criminals who are rioting today manifesting the Bunker Hill equivalent? Nope.
Next question: are you humble enough to be instructed by history, that is, to admit the difference between the events? I hope so.
Moreover, if you pro-trumpers really want the war, you too can be instructed by history. Merely to evidence that I’m no hopey-dopey-changey-mangy democrat (and not because I want the war—I got bills, remember!), here’s what I see as easy course corrections, based entirely on a long-since passed over boys adventure novel. A. Setup at night. B. Take high-ish ground at night. C. Build battlements at night. D. Have character. E. Have been concretely grieved by the colonizing government.
I don’t normally advocate reading “history” books. But since my best friend has told me to avoid writing about the field because I’m out of my element (though daily proving that a few used books are more than enough to encourage me to have a wild opinion—no PhD program necessary), I thought I’d step into the fray.
Can reading history save us from war? Nope.
But I believe the ability to imagine historical events will help us win the coming war.
Today, then, imagine the Battle of Bunker Hill.
I’m stupid. You’re stupid.
Don’t believe the hype or feed the hype. The election means nothing.
Naturally, he is going to disagree with this headline. That’s fine.
Naturally, this disagreement is half the point.
I wrote a post yesterday, “In Defense of the Dark Ages.” It was lucid, it was clear, and it was to the point. Consequently, my bff disagreed with it.
I suppose I should include the detail that my bff has taken to calling himself a “professional historian” of late. (Back when I was growing up, we were taught, “starving artist”. Kids these days.) We spent about, oh, eight hours or more texting about all things disagreeable about my “grandiose pronouncement” (a unflattering tendency of mine).
In the end, after a bad night’s sleep (anyone else fight with their spouse when something good like free money happens at random?) I realized my friend was right. I did defend the “dark ages”. But the real truth, the fullest truth is that I defended the historical view (one of many) that there was a “dark age”. God forbid. And a proper blog post by a professional historian in 2020 (which I am evidently not) would’ve admitted this nuance. In other words, I displayed the fact that I am an ignorant bigot, racist, and probably, at least indirectly, responsible for all that is wrong in the world.
So here’s my correction post. I do admit I mis-titled my post. I should have called it, “In Defense of My View of History—AKA the Right View.”
Because it is the right view, including the void Dark Age and all.
When it comes to history, The West is my hill to die on, or as the kids say, my “ride-or-die”.
And just like that! The muse has left. Suddenly, this claim doesn’t feel compelling anymore. Signs of the times, I suppose.
The other day I was on a video conference and while we were awaiting the leader, I took a moment to sell my “Great Books of the Western World” set. I do this any chance I get. These books are fantastic. Anyhow, the most intriguing part of the set is the concrete evidence of the so-called “Dark Ages”. Sitting between Augustine (vol 18) and Aquinas (vol 19) is a whole lotta nuthin’. That’s about 600 years of “darkness”. I find that nothingness exceedingly compelling.
Anyhow, while waiting, this lady says something that I’ve heard my whole life—without seeing a single shred of evidence—like, “I thought we’ve found that there really was plenty written by other cultures during that time.”
I said something like, “Nope”
Now, she thought she had the upper hand and she struck with something like, “So then why do people say that?”
I said, “Well, essentially, it’s just a lie.”
This never goes over well. Oh well.
Today I wanted to clarify my thoughts and record them for posterity.
If you don’t think the Dark Ages existed, you’re not just saying, “I think recent archeological enterprises have resulted in unearthing writings from between 400AD to 1000AD.” You’re actually saying, (without having even submitted one entry into the written record), “I know more than every human being who has lived since Augustine.” In other words, you’re saying, “My thoughts deserve to be in the Great Books,” despite having not even written them down.
Too strong? Don’t believe me? Allow me to explain.
It’s not just that some editor left out recently discovered writings, it’s that every other author whose genius (unlike yours) has made the world turn and given you almost every thought that you ever have or ever will have conceived left them out.
The negative claim that there was a “dark age” is not limited to a “dark age” for the West, unlike the positive claim that the Great Books of the Western World is limited to the “West”. It is about a “dark age” for human genius. And human genius, by definition, requires permanent results. And permanence is found in one of two ways—directly and indirectly. Directly, the genius is still in play. (Socrates’ skepticism, Trojan Horse, and “Oedipus’ complex” to name a few early ones.) Indirectly, the genius inspired other genius. (Euclid’s Elements > Space X’s reusable rockets. Even if Euclid stops being taught, his (and others’) ideas in the “Elements” can never be forgotten so long as we’re more technologically advanced than mankind was in 300BC.)
In any case, consider the pride in, “I thought we found writings during that period,” before you utter it. I really don’t believe that you intend to be so vain.
That’s the lasting beauty of the Great Books. To criticize them, you have to either willfully ignore them or submit your own entry. The danger in ignoring them is being played out as we live and breathe through masks in the West. The danger in submitting your own entry is public humiliation.
To be sure, the “Dark Age” was real.
SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t need Christopher Nolan and his latest sapio-sexy film in order to believe that there are no parallel universes or, what is the same, that we’re all living in one big tapestry of existence. I didn’t need him to highlight that entropy is conceptually unbound from time. No. I already believed it and have proved it. How else could I have spent my COVID money before it was even deposited, huh? How else?!
As the old proverb goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Confession: I’ve been entraipsing through time my entire life. And it’s fantastic.
(To be sure, I needed the money because I thought I had all the books I would ever need—I was wrong. Now I have all the books I will ever need.)
My step-son and I came up with the designation “black haired people” for what in America are generally regarded as “black people”. He’s an immigrant from Ethiopia and, believe it or not, Ethiopians don’t view themselves as “black”. Within the formerly so-called “dark continent”, not too different from the our own “paper bag test” South, our Yahoo brethren see shades, too.
But I digress. That the cashier was “black haired” is not the point. The point is that I’m funny.
I was making a last minute trip to HyVee to pick up snack foods (hence the cheese curd headline) for this holiday. I never, never let my step-son have soda, but today I was feeling an uncommon sensation—which I *think* you all would call “giving”—and so I picked up, not just any old soda, but a four-pack of some locally crafted grape soda. This detail matters because the four cans are packaged together with some sort of homespun, yellow plastic tops. Upon inspection, I noticed that these yellow tops were a bit dirty, but I figured that it just adds character or charm.
Next, keep in mind there’s a mask-mandating pandemic going on, I am checking out and the black-haired cashier advises, “You’re going to want to wash the lids before you drink them.”
Naturally, I become very curious and ask, “Why? Is there some sort of disease going around?”
Her body language leading the near-running retreat, she immediately reduces her initial warning to a casual comment, “Oh, no. They’re just dirty.”
“There’s no disease going around?!” I clarify, cautiously betraying that I believe this fact may be a little bit bigger news than at first glance. After taking a prefatory deep breath, “Hey everyone!” I fake yell, then dramatically pausing to scan for her name tag, I add, “Cindy here says it’s over! It’s over!! We can take off the masks!”
She laughed at the ridiculous life we were apart of. I laughed at the ridiculous life we were apart of.
I then assumed the lady behind me who had insisted I go first (I had fewer items) wondered, “Could this man be The Captain?” And then I went on my merry way.
Once home, I ate cheese curds while my wife fed the baby and my step-son recounted a funny part of a book he knew I had heard him laughing at last night while he read and I played the piano.
One more note. When we look at the issue as I do, then the entire question changes. Instead of, “Did ‘brothers’ mean ‘brothers and sisters’ in certain passages?” we now ask, “What should we do if the majority of believers want to make that change?”
See how that question reveals a totally different issue than what the Lockman Foundation is defending? (My dad came up with that one when following my argument through.)
I’ll leave it here with: and this is why I love the Bible.