Sunday, January 27, 2019

No-Drama Bill Blake

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

-- William Blake (extracted from "London")

Most critics interpret the poem as a Dickensian paroxysm of Industrial Age squalor and misery. It's remarkable how nearly everyone overlooks that the manacles are "mind-forg'd". So Blake's actually saying the very opposite thing. It's yet another example of how people categorically resist being reminded that the drama of it all is sheer mental indulgence, and entirely optional. They resist the reminding because they like it this way (even seemingly traumatized horror movie-goers would be irritated to find a good samaritan gently tapping their shoulders during grueling scenes).


Anonymous coward said...

I beg to differ. Getting angry and emotional about life's problems can lead to progress. The following Atlantic article by Charles Duhigg Jan/Feb 2019 explains better than I can. If people didn't get emotional oppressors would be able to systemically exploit people more and more.

Sort of like your posts on self-driving cars, without the unpredictability of human emotion oligarchies would force unfair conditions on the lowest. You are basically preaching religion, practice personal piety while ignoring systemic flaws. Feel free to correct me if I misinterpreted your post.

Jim Leff said...

That's not my point, though it's a common misapprehension.

Drama ≠ emotion. Purging senseless drama from one's life doesn't mean purging all emotion and turning into an unblinking robot, passively complacent and willing to be pushed around.

All the meat is in the word "senseless". You'll surely concede that the world overflows with people who create dramatic nonsense scenes (played out externally and/or internally) over absolutely nothing, e.g. "first world problems". That's senseless. That's what I'm talking about. So if we agree that that happens, then we agree on everything except where to draw the line.

In my view, human drama is 99% senseless (wherein people try to make themselves feel something....ANYTHING....because they feel like they're in a movie and it's just not exciting enough unless they stir it all up) and 1% sensible (necessary to overcome a bona fide dramatic problem). See here:

To anticipate your response, yes, Blake here is pointing to specifically socioeconomic drama, which these days is taboo to parse as anything but pure and utter tragedy. It's easy to politically sensitize oneself into hearing in every human moan evidence of bona fide oppression. But in this era, in the rich world, that taboo is steadily revealing itself as a baldly empty construct. See this:

Just in general.....pain is real. It spurs action all by itself. But suffering is optional. Drama is our preferred form of languishing in suffering. It's neither effective nor sane. It actually impedes smart, productive action.

Doesn't mean to stop caring/fighting/striving, or working politically and philanthropically (again, not robotic nor complacent). The victimization narrative, however, is unseemly in a world where there are still genuinely impoverished people, for whom Americans moaning about the inequity of their Ford Taurus, etc., seem obscene.

We can remove the needless drama element and simply take necessary steps.

Anonymous coward said...

Thank you for your response. I still respectfully disagree. Most of your statements falls into a not as bad fallacy. A great example is elevator gate involving Richard Dawkins and sexism. I will also argue that first world poverty can cause third world poverty and for normal people to slightly drop their morals.

"Richard Dawkins decided to interject with a comment letter headed "Dear Muslima." Dawkins accused Watson of overreacting and compared her experience to those of women being forced to wear burkas or undergo genital mutilation (a classic example of the not as bad as fallacy):[7]" RationalWiki.

Yes, Third World Poverty is a problem.

"And here's the thing: aside from basic human needs like food, health, and shelter, anything grieved for is unnecessary baggage arbitrarily loaded on by a hyperactive, capricious mind. Anything else is just stories we tell ourselves. " Jim Leff

View the feministfrequency video 6:25-8:05 to understand why not as bad fallacy is an effective derailment tactic. Comparing 1st world to 3rd world is a classic concern troll technique. People who use this derailment technique rarely care about 3rd world injustices and this is just a distraction from 1st world problems.

First world poverty is a contributing factor to third world poverty. The best example is being able to afford fair trade certified products. An impoverished 1st world person will often be forced to buy from sketchy sources to make ends meet. Clothing bought at Target, Walmart, or Kohl's made from Taiwan, China, etc. This could easily be products made from sweatshops thus contributing to 3rd world injustices. See Walmart the high cost of low prices.

Same with animal products. Poor 1st world people cannot afford to buy cage-free, free ranged, nor pasture raised eggs and thus buy from factory farms. Even a person who feel strongly about animal rights may pick to buy gas for their car as opposed to cage-free thus compromising their morals.

Then, I have problem with the 99% senseless drama there is absolutely no evidence to back up your claim. As for the ballasting happiness link, there is lots and lots of problems in the world. Some almost negligible, a neighbor using very loud firecrackers after midnight, while others are catastrophic climate change. Yet, they all add up and are interconnected. A neighbor lighting a very loud firecracker may distract you from arguing down a climate change denier.

Finally, personally I would love more time to raise climate change awareness and how vaccines save lives. Yet, instead I am out of work and have to spend all my time trying to keep what I have. Having to fight to keep an $8.25 dollar an hour graveshift job that requires more of my abilities what I am capable of does not leave much time let alone money for anything else. Nor does having to fight for government assistance that requires massive amounts of time/energy to fill out only for the agency to lose my information and have to start all over again.

Personally, a lot of my mental energy goes towards worrying about climate change, factory farming, and how to make ends meet. I cannot speak for others.


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