Rendered Fat Content


Fernand Léger: Contrast of Forms (Contraste de formes) (1913)
I'm uncertain if anyone can ever outgrow that stance."

I want to speak this morning about an increasingly common situation, a form of deliberate misapprehension wherein people seek, often with considerable passion, information they might otherwise reasonably suspect isn't true, either due to its source or its form. This information often seems overly convenient, perfectly satisfying an expectation long accustomed to disappointment. It might come from a source long-acknowledged as unreliable or partisan, someone with the reputation of saying anything that might rile someone. The effect of such a transmission, deliberate misapprehension in and self-destruction out, seems perfectly represented in the vaccine deniers proudly standing up for their superior understanding and patriotism. Their position doesn't quite seem stupid, but more intentional than that. It mostly appears belligerent but without clear purpose. The self-satisfied expressions these possessors of negative knowledge display leaves me feeling 'sore afraid.'

This position seems the sole of Homemade.
I can imagine that, after years of feeling left out, I might find some solace in finally feeling as if I was a member in good standing, a member of something, anything, really. I guess that even a death cult might seem reassuring as long as I could feel that sense of really belonging to something. I might seek reassurance that I made the right decision, especially if I suspicioned that I might have made the wrong one. I can imagine myself working hard to tune out any disconfirming signal and even growing to characterize anyone disagreeing with my position as an undermining Communist. I can even see myself believing that I hold superior knowledge because of some information I just sort of happened upon, as if delivered special delivery especially for me by angels. I can see myself conspiring with myself to keep me in the dark.

The angry public demonstrations sound like loser language to those of us with un-entrained ears. To those entranced or hoping to become enthralled, those lame excuses seem to say it all. False prophets sing most sweetly. Actual seers force one to think. There's probably no offensive capable of penetrating the NotNoing trance. Whomever holds the power to declare "No!" and make it stick, holds control over the operation of it. Those who control the Yeses, can only provide permission, while the neigh sayers never ask the question. They seem born certain. Carrying the confidence only ever gained by possessing negative knowledge, they set about insisting upon doing considerable damage to others and even to themselves. They become society's chief liability, sucking its vitality, declaring liberty.

It's certainly a perversion of the whole notion of democracy to believe that we should be able to decide everything by voting. Popularity should never supplant understanding or knowledge and should never consider standing in for either. It's neither understanding nor knowledge, but folly, particularly when employed to promote negative knowledge, what we could never possibly know for certain. It some days seems as though our whole civilization has gone into the business of promoting what no one could even know for certain. I imagine the resulting trance might seem somehow reassuring, but it results in clearly false confidence which encourages the curious deliberate misapprehension dance with which we've become so familiar. I'm uncertain if anyone can ever outgrow that stance. I'm fairly certain that I couldn't.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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