Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Affect is All There Is

The US isn't actually filled to the brim with creationists who dropped out of grade school to go to church more. I know that's what we claim out loud on surveys but never mind. Fundamentalists have influence beyond their numbers, generally white and well-to-do.  They are also of course very loud and because of this have planted a common idea that fundamentalism is the historic Christian default. I emphasize that they have not 'brainwashed' anyone but have planted an idea of what's normal. Humans do not commonly give much thought to religion. By that I don't mean to say that no one who gives it any thought could believe. Their are genius believers. I mean that it is actually quite rare for any culture at any time to be overflowing with piety. (Iraq has the same percentage of avowed atheists as we do for example.)  We've been led to believe that this has been the civilizational norm until just yesterday but no, it never was.  We know that the culturally prevailing religion we happen to have is "normal" so we "believe" it; and it's been planted in our heads that creationism is elemental to the normal religion and thus to being normal. Still in the end we mainly sleep in on Sundays and of course we know that there is a far less profound difference between apes and ourselves than between apes and jellyfish.

Homophobia and hostility to abortion are indeed the historic norm in Christianity, but were not considered to be all that vital to it for nineteen hundred years. It is was only after these positions came under public challenge that they suddenly became Very Important.  But let's talk about facial hair now. The dogmatically bearded Greeks and the dogmatically shaved Romans.  The facial hair that was countercultural in the 1960's or hipster today was standard for the mecha-WASP presidents of the 1880's.  The idea that "our" customs are eternal because they are exclusively ideal or otherwise inarguably good. We must all know that this is shit deep down.

I've met the Kline who had the corner of 11th and G named after him. He was a good man or maybe a serial killer. He was civil to me for the thirty seconds we interacted and then he did other things for a few years and then he died. The block is now Lincoln's main Latino hub. Those who may be existentially unsettled by the very existence of such a thing need to understand that it doesn't matter and I mean that in the plainest possible sense. Kline is dead and there is only one degree of Not I. Your first-born son conjoined twin or partner you are cumming with right now are all the same degree of Not I as an anteater. The Unicameral man for my hometown wondered aloud "what's going to happen to Nebraska if we keep letting all these (ILLEGAL!!!) immigrants in. What's going to happen to Nebraska is that it is going to go dark for you and me and then stay dark. There shall be no taking America back but it will take us back. America will eat us. Wyuka will eat us. After that somebody else, whoever else, shall have not our thing but their own.

When I reflect upon the motives towards bigotry, especially the brutal things done to prevent "miscegenation," I conclude that the fire is driven not by fear of the unthinkable but by knowledge one finds intolerable. The knowledge that of course white and black could combine sexually socially or in any other way whenever we like. The knowledge that ethnicity is a byproduct of archaic transportation, that our ancestors fell in love or lust with whoever was in the same place and that's it.  There is no self-definition to be found here, neither any transcendence of temporary self.  There are only artificial We's. We are of no natural particular kind that we can continue existing through after personal death or of any intrinsically good kind that we can feel assured of being good through after we personally fail.

There have been several efforts to classify humankind by "race" basic units larger than a nation but smaller than the species itself. The lines are drawn by bigoted criteria though sometimes rational ones as well. But the paradigms still never of course quite work and never will. One such recentish attempt was Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking World Order" Huntington divides our species into nine basic civilizations. He uses NATO membership to mark the border between "The West" and Russish "Orthodox" civilization. He distinguishes Latin America as separate from The West but not Iberia. China and India are given their own realms which makes sense.  Also Japan for I don't know why, of course they're different from the Chinese but more so than the Poles vis-a-vis the Scottish?  Israel is grouped within the Middle East even though they quite famously stick out. Huntington states that the Middle East is simply wired for hostility towards the West. He states the Muslim countries have a history of making war upon their neighbors; which is of course true; and something that the man seems to truly consider more remarkable than the English making was on the Scottish and the Irish and the French or the French making war on England Spain Germany and Belgium all alike or the US marching on Toronto and Mexico City both in turn.  Muslim culture is unique for wearing clothes and eating food.

It can be just as easily argued, because it is true, that Europe, indelibly Europeanized former colonies and the Middle East are all of the same 'cultural continent' or phylum.  The Mediterranean can be crossed in a not-very-technical boat, to say nothing of the Bosporus. It is the Sahara, Siberia and the Himalayas that marked the effective end of a world for a formatively long time. "We" have the same civilizational roots in Egypt and Mesopotamia and being "all children of Abraham man" is only one sign of this out of many. Before the one true jealous god there were analogues between Greek and Babylonian gods. If anything one says about the inherent barbarism of the Middle East happens to be true then so must we be inherently barbarous.  There is no way around that and there are those with cause to think so. I am a Caucasian in the middle of America; not to put too fine a point on it.