Wednesday, November 03, 2004


In part,* this election reinforced the way in which people wish to fictionalize the world to fit their own beliefs. It represents a profound failure of the imagination. I say "failure" rather than "lack" because there are no bounds to an imagination that can still believe in a link between al Qaida and Saddam Hussein, that can believe we are "winning" the "war" on "terrorism," that can believe gay marriage could in any way hurt their own relationships, that can believe the current administration consists of a bunch of hardworkin', straight-talkin' men of the people...and the list goes on.

Of course, the current administration has fed off of and just plain fed this disconnect from reality. It has re-discovered and enhanced to the nth degree the idea of giving the people a fiction they can buy into and that in some ways, even if bred of fear, comforts them.

There are two essential elements to good fiction. A good imagination, and the ability to tie that imagination to some element of the real world in such a way that we care about the fiction we read as if it were part of the real world.

Politics today takes advantage of the fact that many of us in America apparently have what I would call deformed imaginations, in that they are not tied to the real world or real people in any meaningful way. In a sense, what is happening is that a bunch of bad writers are writing an ugly reality for this country, using the worst attributes of our imaginations to do so. A high capacity for belief, a high capacity for imagining, is not at issue. But the ability to dream well, to see beyond rhetoric and deception into the real world, where facts exist with cold, sharp edges...this ability has been dulled in some of us, for whatever reason. And as a result, the ability to reach toward some kind of truth has also been dulled.


(Evil Monkey: "So everybody who voted for Bush is an idiot?" Jeff: "No. But everybody who voted for Bush based on a bad fiction rather than reality is an idiot. Those who had the facts and voted for Bush least they voted from knowledge rather than a deformed imagination.")

* Please note, I said "in part".


At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commiserations on the likely outcome of the election.

In Australia we too are stuck with the same horrible Government we have endured for years and will have to endure for another 3 before hope for change is possible.

I felt very angry and depressed at the results of the recent Australian election so can imagine the horror and despair enlightened Americans must be feeling now.

Anne S

At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw a program on TV about the American election result - an interview with a guy from United Press. He said it was God, Gays & Guns that won the election for Bush - moral right issues. Shudder!!

Same in Australia.

Anyway, I meant to say that I totally agree with you about the failure of imagination and also would add that the general populace has been deliberately "dumbed down" over the past decade and that independant thought is discouraged.

Anne S

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Matthew Rossi said...

I'm not sure which I'd rather believe: that my country is largely populated by idiots or that it's full of people who voted for Bush, knowing full well that it meant four more years of lies, hypocrisy, war, etc.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, guys. Yes, it is dispiriting. But at the same time, I've seen a level of activism among my fellow citizens here at the local level that hasn't existed for a long time. A lot of us who have been in hibernation in terms of actually *doing* things in the political arena are now awakened, and that will carry through over the next four years.


At 4:12 PM, Blogger AlleyPat said...

"the ability to reach toward some kind of truth has also been dulled."

I often wonder what truth this is? Is it the imaginary "this stuff started immediately with GW" myth? or the "this never would have happened if GW ..." myth? etc. I think history tells the truth, yet it's still up for interpretation and our opinions of current events will color that.

Perhaps those who voted Republican did not want a President who couldn't make up his mind on crucial issues, who lied about his past record, etc etc. And there are always the things we don't know, the underlying classified information that we aren't privy to.

I saw it as the colored goggles coming off. The world others have lived in for so long is now ours. I don't want to live like Israel where daily bombings in my city are the norm. Less pretending we are safe, more reality, more sincerity in dealing with these problems.

Nobody knows if this will work. I hope so. Doing something is better, in this instance I think, than doing nothing.

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about less giving in to our fears? How about honesty and transparency from our government? We're three years in to the "war" on terror and we're less safe, more over-extended, than we were before we began this war.

But before we continue this discussion, I need to know
(1) Do you think there was a link between Iraq and the 9-11 attacks?
(2) Do you think there was credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to invading Iraq?

If you answer yes to either one of those questions, I can't take anything you say seriously.



At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. And the left's long flirtation with communism was a date with reality? Nice track record.

"If you're 20 and a conservative, you lack a heart. If you're 40 and a liberal, you lack a brain." - Churchill


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