Thursday, January 10, 2019

Leave My Mind Alone Part II

I drew this Ouroboros.  I thought a lot about it, read some Jung, and was going to try for a soul-searching and well-crafted post about Infinity.  Or duality of the soul.  Or Destruction/Regeneration. Or something.  Instead my mind went to a practical place, and an eternal struggle in which I engage: when do I hold forth, and when should I prudently shove something in my mouth and bite down hard, in order to keep my opinions to myself?

This comes up a lot, in Interspace.  It came up recently when I read someone angrily defending the Dog Festivals as legitimately of cultural and historical significance.  It came up when I read someone else lamenting the time wasted, and the boredom they experienced, watching 12 Years a Slave, followed up immediately by a recounting of a lovely day spent at the museum, and the inconvenience of having carpets shampooed.  It comes up when I read people defending nazis, insulting fat people.  It comes up when I see hypocrisies, micro-aggressions, sexism, racism, thinly veiled or outright anti-semitism, cruelty both general and ad hominem.

Some of the things that bother me are objective wrongs (though clearly my definition of "objective wrong" is sometimes different from other people, and vice versa, which leads us to a discussion of Absolute and Relative, and never mind).  Some of the things that bother me are things I think are wrong, but am willing to acknowledge (with some resentment) may legitimately not be everyone's idea of wrong, like political opinions.  Then there are the things that bother me that are so deeply buried in layers of outward okayness that to rail against them would require theses and footnotes and an audience willing to hear me out.  That way lies madness.

But in fact, when you get down to it, all ways lead to madness.  You would think that when people call a plus-size model a "disgusting beached whale," that would be a place someone could speak up.  And yet, when people do, it becomes an ever-increasing frustration of counter-attacks that devolve into meaningless ALL CAPS.  Because who among the righteous can let it go gracefully? I see it all the time.  I feel for them, but it's awful to watch.   The woman who said that "12 Years a Slave felt like 20," well she thought she was being funny.  Do I want to tangle with her and her image of herself as an avocational humor writer? She's not going to let that bit of self-definition go, probably not ever. The woman who defended eating live-boiled dogs as being historically meaningful to her culture of remote origin? Standing up for one's cultural heritage becomes a moral high ground, at least superficially, and no matter how ludicrous.

So when to speak up?

There are those who always do, on both sides of my definition of Right and Wrong.  Those people are, in our current time and place, the cyber equivalent of that old jokey character, the Consummate Letters-to-the-Editor Writer.  For the sake of my sanity, I have to avoid this ever-deepening & widening infinite regress of Holding Forth.  As it is, I come dangerously close to the edge of that abyss.  There are those who choose more carefully.  And there are those who don't speak up at all.  I admire those people.  I kind of love meeting someone whose opinions are so closely guarded that you really have no idea what they're thinking (though of course, that can backfire in the jump-scare of a sudden weighing-in, along the lines of, say, "not only do Jews have no right to their own country, they don't have a right even to exist!").

Good to get this off my chest.  I think when all is said and done, a wise rule of thumb for me is:

"Leah, stuff something in your mouth, bite down hard, and walk away fast."


Ms Scarlet said...

Sometimes it's best to switch off the screen and go for a long walk. And when I was on my long walk today I was thinking about how I prefer verbal discussion in the flesh than online. I very seldom argue online. It's pointless - you are blind to who you are dealing with. We communicate properly with our whole being, plus you can never tell how upset/angry someone really is behind a terse comment.
Put down Facebook etc, and come back home to your blog!

Leah said...

To be fair, most of this stuff I read online, I wouldn't want to engage w these people in real life either...