Monday, November 16, 2020

Reality Hits

A damaging wind storm is heading my way. I'm camping at its epicenter, waiting for my new apartment to open up. That means that I will move from the boonies back into the urban eye of COVID-19. Tomorrow is showtime. 

Showtime, the TV network, will air a revealing documentary on the Ronald Reagan presidency. We have yet to come to terms with Reagan's surreality. Or JFK's, for that matter. I hope that we soon will.

By now, Television has pivoted to Internet images. I am of the first generation to grow up with TV, although we were restricted from watching it at my home. I did watch enough on our little Black and White TV to understand that it presented a kind of idealized world. Perhaps I was provided some inoculation.

I've been shouting into the wind about Reagan for most of my life. But people liked the way they felt with him as our TV president. If they were white and suburban and "middle class," which, of course, we all were. It's hard to imagine that was not Reagan's core.

He'd been a union man until he became General Electric's shill. Somehow he was groomed to be the image of a new Republican ideology which has only hardened over time. Front man for wealth making, no matter the ravages along the way. Shill of the rich and powerful. Ascribed identity for our country, our home. 

It was unions that ushered in reality TV. When the writers struck, the producers simply said among themselves, 'we don't need no stinkin' writers!' The people themselves will write their own scripts when put in front of a camera. If we select them carefully, and then edit the result carefully, the masses will buy it. We did. 

Sure, I have a TV in my tiny house. I feel as though I need it for reality check along my travels. Trailers don't lend themselves to city living, so I've mostly toured Trumplandia, with respites, occasionally, in National Parks; playgrounds for cosmopolitans with money and education, to some extent.

Mostly I use the TV to stream movies, which make for nice diversion when the weather's not nice and my eyes won't stay still for reading or writing (mostly translation work, which is another story altogether).

Anhow, that lifestyle is coming to an end, as it must. I want to re-establish a home, as my kids establish theirs. Truth be told, as I told you here before, I'm camping now to be out of mandatory quarantine for my son-in-law whose house I'd been living in while repairing all its many deficits. 

My body remains sore from that, and so I imagine I won't be up for the mobile life for all that much longer. I like being around family, even though I will likely no longer be able to visit Mom in the memory care unit. Because of the COVID reality surge.

But anyhow, I've had - and continue to have - plenty of occasion for lively discussion with people who, according to my belief, inhabit fantasy lands with eyes wide shut toward what's actually going on all around them. We all create our internal narrative with ourselves as the protagonist, pulling in all the descriptions from abroad which feel right.

I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys having their version of reality challenged. I keep trying to broaden my own. I must be among a minority who enjoys that. No brag, just fact. Ha!

The Internet was supposed (by all right thinking people at its inception, though some of us saw dot com for what it was. We'd started when the Internet was mostly academic. Now it's for real!) to remedy the mass-mediated sleep walk into lala land. By now we are split - the Internet has literally split us - among realities, none of which are entirely coherent. Since there's no way to digest all that's available, we have to pick and choose.

Or, rather, we have to let the keepers of our preferences choose for us. It can be very hard to see how that's any improvement on what preceded reality TV. The lala land of Ronald Reagan, which a majority of us once did internalize. We felt like one nation, very much under God. Now we don't.

The course of my own personal history feels like one long political slide into the swamp. Can you even imagine that Dubya seems a statesman in retrospect? I can't say that I've been all that aware, but I suppose that I did interact with people who were. I'm astonished at my own ignorance back in the day, so I can't take credit for being in better touch with actual reality than many of the people I interact with seem to be. I'm not on solid ground, still. 

But here to my left I talk with people who declare supporters of Trump racists before even talking with them. I understand the sentiment, but it's not what I've experienced. Sure many are, and it's not hard to discern that in the way some talk about personal grievances. But again, to my political left, are plenty of racist union folks.

As many folks have remarked, the political center has been hollowed out, so I can't exactly claim to be there. If there were a center, it would be more real than either extreme, I'm pretty sure.

In my expressed politics, I lean hard left. But reality tempers my belief that those goals can be soon nor certainly easily achieved. Tempered by reality, I want to believe in achievable goals, and not just those achievable by "natural disaster." That seems to be the only realistic scenario just now, writing from the eye of every storm. 

That means that I have to believe that there is a narrative which can bring us together. As the name for my blog indicates, I am a believer in the foundational power of narrative. It's how we define ourselves, pulling in whatever version of reality suits us. It's what politics is made of, and it's surely how religion compels belief.

My own faith is that there is - imminently - a scientific narrative which can and will embrace and overcome the corrupted Jesus narrative which seems to prevail now on the right. That new narrative will describe the limits to materialistic science. It will embrace emotion as part of reality, and not just as part of human subjectivity. It will end the illusion that complete understanding is ever possible. 

In very simple terms, that's because our human understanding will always include the creative fictions which we will always require to keep on keeping on. Understanding our own creation is not the same as understanding what gets called God's creation, and never will be. I believe that to be foundational, even though I would quibble with most God language.

I've tried here over the years to explain the particulars of my belief. I doubt that I've done a very good job, but it's about all I've got. My mind grows frail, and I doubt that I can do this any better. I'm not signing off. I'm just calling out a moment which feels very very fraught. 

I am begging people to pause and to consider that they might not be entirely right in their beliefs; about reality and about each other. 

Love is a pause of sorts. A suspension of disbelief. I hope and I pray that we can pull it off.

Well, I'm camping now in my new apartment. The heat is fine and the windows sound as the tree outside my third floor view dances in the wind. As though it had its own motivation. My landlord tells me that a previous tenant climbed the tree these three stories to climb in through the terrace. He'd forgotten his key.

I suppose I will slowly furnish to fill in the expanse of the polished oak floor. The camper's safely put to sleep. I have hope for the future today!

No comments: