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Monday, October 17, 2016
The end of Reason
Figure sketch by Carol L. Douglas
I’ve been blessedly ignorant of the American election for weeks. I would occasionally hear TV news when stuck in a waiting room, but generally I had too little personal bandwidth to take it in. When Canadians would ask my opinion, they did so lightheartedly. No surprise there; it’s not their train wreck.
At this point, I plan to vote for neither candidate; I was born and raised in New York and have followed both of them for a long time. A plague on both their houses.
Please don’t send me any links explaining why I’m wrong. All that ‘information’ is a big part of the problem.
“That’s how men are,” is one argument that has been prematurely dismissed this week. Most of us are rightfully offended on behalf of our own fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. In fact, alpha males have behaved like this for a long time, and we live in a society of extreme moral grunge, so none of this should come as a particular surprise.
Every woman at some point holds a friend’s hand while she experiences the death of her marriage. It’s devastating. The most private things become public while, at the same time, the grief is overwhelming. Sadly, there’s a common thread running through many of these stories: the wife always knew he was a jerk; she just never believed she could do better. I’m always immensely saddened when a friend comes to that realization. Of course she deserved better. As a nation, so do we.
I wonder how Lyndon Baines Johnson would have fared in today’s world of electronic eavesdropping. He was famously crude and said to have been repeatedly unfaithful to Lady Bird. I doubt I would have liked him much, but he was an undeniably effective politician.
In the Sixties, we hid facts to make our politicians more palatable. Today, we create facts to make them less palatable. I receive hundreds of emails a day and an equal number of messages via other platforms. For five weeks, I had a respite, since I simply deleted everything from my phone without reading it. Coming back, I feel like I’ve taken a load of birdshot in the face.
There is no way I can sort out the truthiness in the barrage. Add TV (which I don’t watch) to that mix, and it’s safe to say that we’re all bathing in a stew of disinformation. It is impossible to sort hard news from opinion or, worse, absolute slander.
In 2016, none of us can agree on anything. Prove something and someone will immediately prove that the opposite is actually the truth. This is the end of rationalism, the death of the Age of Reason, brought to us by an overload of information. I’m not enjoying it particularly. Are you?