It’s impossible to keep up with reality. No matter how hard you try, no matter how fast you think you are, reality is always one step ahead of you and, by the time you get where reality is, reality is already somewhere else.
In this supersaturated media environment, it is impossible to stop and take stock of where we’re at because the moment you stop to take stock, thousands of new bits of data are deluged upon you, each one having to be evaluated and adjudicated before you can believe it…or not….but the evidence itself keeps changing from moment to moment, making it impossible to take stock.
There are people like my friend Gil Friend, who struggles valiantly to help reorganize people to reorganize society before it is too late, even though it was patently obvious to me that it was already too late 40 years ago. And then there’s my friend Michael Muskal, who religiously posts the best dance videos online. I never fail to stop and watch them because they make me happy until I remember that I can’t dance like that and never really could. (I still call them friends, although I haven’t seen or talked to them for almost 50 years.)
These people, and others like them, are drops in the bucket, and — because the bucket has no bottom — their collective efforts leak away even as they attempt to do things to fill up that bucket of consciousness.
Misery lays in not being able to do what you want to do, whatever that might be.
This brings me to Anthony Bourdain, a man who I never watched while he was alive, until his tragic suicide brought him to my attention, only to discover that he was doing some great consciousness-raising work in the guise of a travel show about food in the midst of his own life-crushing life-long depression.
As I watched the episodes of his show one after another, it was impossible not to realize how often he spoke about death and suicide until he finally reached his limit and did it.
Bourdain’s tragedy was that he had the platform, he had the attention of a huge, loving audience, and he had the power to direct their attention to the issues that he cared about, only to discover that nothing ever changes for the better.
All entropy is negative entropy. Things inevitably unravel, wind down and fall apart, and that includes people, movements, societies, civilizations (they are not the same thing), species, planets, suns, solar systems, galaxies, and universes. Every winding up, every gathering of energy, inevitably results in the eventual unwinding of what has been wound up. (Someone is muttering that after the diffusion comes the next condensation, which is true…but we won’t be here to see it.)
And here’s where I come up against one of those strange idiosyncrasies of the English language: the past tense of “wind” (pronounced “wahynd,” meaning “to gather up on spool or reel”) is “wound” (pronounced “waʊnd” meaning to have wound something up), unless it is pronounced as “wuːnd,” in which case it refers to an injury.
So, when the very words we use lose their unique meanings when they are read as opposed to when they are said, how can we hope for meaningful discourse between people. Even the word “read” itself can be read wrong because you can’t hear it when you are only reading it. Context is required and we are losing our context for the present political discourse.
English is far from unique in this regard. Hebrew and Arabic words have multiple meanings based on inflection when spoken and context when written. So do Chinese and other oriental languages. We don’t even understand ourselves. How can we understand each other?
Whenever I hear that Donald Trump is talking to the Russians, the Chinese, the Koreans, or anyone else who doesn’t speak the guttersnipe English that Trump professes to speak, my terrified reaction is: What could possibly go wrong?
And then I hear that he is swearing his translators to silence, as if any translator employed by Putin needs to be reminded of that responsibility.
The only people Trump doesn’t want to know what he’s been saying are the people who employ him….and that would be us.
It’s time to start thinking about how to show the Republicans to the door, before they do something really stupid and unleash Armageddon.