Saturday, September 15, 2012

Secondary gain

For you benighted souls
who may not recognize this image,
click here.

One of the ex post facto reasons I've discovered for liking my friend Bill is that he is such a seething bundle of contradictory opinions that he makes me feel consistent and integrated by comparison.

Chatting at dinner last night with my ex T, as we typically do on Friday nites, Bill opined about the virtues of direct democracy, like the Athenians had, and about the decrease in real democracy suffered by large representative republics like ours, on which grounds he found American self-congratulation about our democracy quite hollow.

In any other context, Bill has a view of homo sapiens so low and so hostile that on my worst day I would be acclaimed a liberal humanitarian by contrast. To imagine that he would want to be governed directly by our loathesome species, in a universally suffraged voting mob no less, is laughable.

And of course he neglected to note that Athenian "democracy" was severely limited to non-slave adult male citizens who had completed military service, no more than 20% of the city's actual population.

But then, part of his charm is his ability to passionately hold inconsistent, even antagonistic, nay, massively contradictory positions simultaneously. From a self-described Christian Nihilist*, who would expect less? Being the well-read fella that he is, when I point this out to him, he just smiles and quotes Walt Whitman:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.

*Not a bad monicker for liberals in general: all the martyred and selfless 
high-minded perfectionism of Christian morality with not an ounce of groundedness either in nature, history, race, metaphysics or divinity. As recently described, it is the politics of pathological altruism. The Island of Laputa as a cultural program.


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