Monday, May 09, 2005
The Good Ole Days
With the possible exception of which porn I watch, I'd say I'm a fairly particular human being.
It's not uncommon for people to cling to familiarity whenever it offers itself as a source of comfort and stability as a sconce against the rampaging chaos of sensory experience. It is the job of the intellect to mediate the wild mass of input data, to organize, to categorize, to identify--each person's own working within the limits of its ability--to impose order on the orderless, to make intelligible--even understandable--the random glut of happenings in the common course of human experience.
Around us we construct massive mnemonics to aid us in our fight against the madness outside of our own heads--square buildings assigned numbers along straight roads named after presidents or trees. The choices for naming and categorizing are severely and purposefully limited in order to ensure repetition, the cornerstone of familiarity and the basis of all habits of thought. The idea extends not only to labels but also to abstract ideas. Entire wings of academia are devoted purely to the organization of thoughts in search of recognizable symmetry, to find the peg that fits the whole, so we can sit back and smile and sigh, certain in the ludicrous idea that "history repeats itself".
Habits of thought, once established, demand constant reaffirmation to shore up a sense of permanence and surety that is not only false but utterly unsustainable because unrealizable.
When habits of thought are threatened, the result is reaction, the insistence on the preservation of one ordering or another, whether it truly ever actually existed or not.
The mildest form of this reaction is basic conservatism--politically or any other type, which all humans share in one form or another--which is normally based on the basic mistake of referring back to an idealized past that never, for lack of a better word, existed.
I don't want to get myself into trouble by drawing unwarranted parallels, but I'd be remiss if I failed to point out that the more extreme examples--where background habits of thought have been heightened to preeminence when all the rest had broken down--include racism and fascism.
On a personal level, such dogged inflexibility is often diagnosed by varying degrees as obsessive-compulsive disorder which leads to execessive tooth brushing or hand washing or blogging six times a week even when you have nothing to say but a bunch of pseudo-intellectual bullshit.
The trauma of change is what reaction seeks to avoid at all costs. Deviation is equated with deviancy, dissent with dissention and sedition, aberration with abhorrance. By these means people can equate liberals with treason (I refuse to link the book that does so) and an audience will exist that will buy it. The basic idea--again, emphasized and heightened when other basic assumptions either fail or are under real assault--is that to oppose the official line is to support those who seek to destroy it, where liberal can equal terrorist with no ground for consideration in between.
This is all slipshod, watered-down phenomenology, the basic gist of which is that change is bad and when perception is threaten, people react badly. This is why (in part) a person will occasionally shoot up their office after they get fired, unable to cope with the idea of not only financial instability, but losing the safety and structure of reporting to the same place 5 days per week. The weeks lose their structure, the days follow, shortly to be followed by minutes and seconds and the maelstrom comes crashing in. Everything loses its meaning, making extreme acts of nihilistic nullification possible.
Either that or their boss was just an asshole who really had it coming. Or maybe his head was kind of target-y shaped. It's hard to say.
This isn't meant to be a threat or anything, but all this is stuff they should have considered before they rearranged everything at the grocery store I go to. Sodas on the back wall when they used to be right in the middle just makes no fucking sense. People's mental furniture is not something you just mess with willy-nilly because you decide all of a sudden you're going to redecorate. Paint the walls, fine, but leave the goddamn hot dog buns where I can find them. I like hot dog buns, but they're not porn; I can't just pick them up wherever and be happy with them.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.3