Never give up. Never give up.

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Trophies for showing up. Terrific idea! Love our kids.

The title comes from my wife, who urged this fortune cookie on me this afternoon. Of course you can give up. I do it all the time.

Why am I giving up this time?

1. The world is going to hell in a hand basket.

2. The reason the world is going to hell in a hand basket is Obama.

3. The U.S. Electorate voted this incompetent idiot into office twice.

4. His margin of victory is two demographics without any capacity to change their minds based on anything but fact-free emotion.

5. The young people who are supposed to represent the hope of the future are either gullible fanatics inducted into some monotonic cause or retro Babbits who want a title on the door, regardless of whether the door is locked or on fire.

So. For now I give up. Congratulations, Brizoni. You’ve succeeded in torpedoing my earthly faith at least. The death of Christianity looks like a mighty positive development. Congratulations, Joshua Babbitt. You’re right. Life is really only about you. Tony prep school kids demand your attention first and foremost. Don’t worry. You’ll both get your trophies.

But my wife will be home soon. No doubt the hope generator will be restarted soon.

  1. Peregrine John’s avatar

    The death of Christianity has been greatly exaggerated.

    As has your ability to give up. The desire to, well, that is likely understated, contrary as that may sound to anyone of differing descent. (Clan MacThomas, yes.) Items 3 and 4 are the real kickers, and I see no way around them short of something more easily spread than ebola – smallpox, perhaps – causing an awakening, an actual Come To Jesus moment in America. The less hard-core idiots are realizing that Dear Leader isn’t quite all that and a well modulated bag of chips, but will happily make another idiotic decision if their masters tell them it’s different this time. Say, if it’s a genuinely Marxist woman instead of a conveniently Marxist half-black man.

    There is an enjoyment in shouting into the darkness, and even more in “I told you so” when there’s evidence aplenty of having done so. I’m also German, and that lot coined “schadenfreude.” You might prefer the survival through suffering, I don’t know. For me it’s fairly balanced with enjoying my enemies – and they are declared enemies, no choice of mine – hanging themselves in droves.

    In the mean time, I try to guide and prod a cadre of young people, of no particular earthly wealth but loaded with talent and intellect and beautiful spirits (homeschoolers, all), toward seeing things as they are without becoming nihilists. They are what keep my nature Jovian and not something grimmer. Though the Missus is surely a boon, I do recommend finding youngsters (a relative term, certainly) to inspire and who will, I assure you, inspire in return.

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    1. Instapunk’s avatar

      Not too much experience with the home schooled. The only ones I know spell like pidgin-speaking Maoris.

      Youngsters have been notably not inspiring me. If they knew even half what they loudly assume they do, I’d be impressed. Am not.

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      1. Peregrine John’s avatar

        Alas. You might need a different set of younguns. It is possible that I am simply very fortunate.

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        1. Anonymous’s avatar

          Maybe I’m asking harder questions than you are. In my experience old folks are foolishly eager to assume kids know what they don’t. Ask the basics. Don’t let them squirm away. They change the subject adeptly. What con artists do.

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          1. Peregrine John’s avatar

            For some topics I do need to address the basics, it’s true. Social issues, for which they’ve been fed palaver and good intentions by those who should know better, need foundational questioning. The good news there is that they have less brainwashing to untangle than the lads asking me why their marriage is faltering after 5 years after doing all the right things. Those can be slippery if you don’t handle them carefully. Too tender.

            Now, you may well be asking harder questions. I get asked pretty challenging items myself, from this group that reads Chesterton, Lewis, and Hofstadter. I am absurdly hopeful that they know or come to realize things others clearly never dreamed mattered. No secret there. It’s gratifying – and no bad thing for my own thought processes – to see them reasoned out in real time.

          2. Ron’s avatar

            I keep trying to post a comment on this entry, but it won’t take. How about this one…

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            1. Instapunk’s avatar

              Sending you an email to secure your comment, which will be posted.

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            2. Instapunk’s avatar

              PJ: WordPress is a bitch. Sorry.

              About hard questions. My wife’s 40 year old daughter, who has an advanced science degree and a six year old daughter, had NO IDEA how many senators there are in the federal government. For asking the question and insisting on an answer I was treated as if I had farted in an elevator.

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              1. Peregrine John’s avatar

                Good lord ‘n’ butter. I know advanced degree holders hate being called out on ignorance of basic facts, but geez. First-round items from Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader don’t really qualify for categorization as “hard questions.” She should be embarrassed, not incensed.

                No, the last discussion around the fire pit involved whether deep characters simply have layers of junk built up on them or have some other kind of complexity, whether the answer to that applies in real life or mostly in fiction, how as a concept it relates to what is called “depth” in game theory and design, and the common confusion between complexity and complication. It went from there to how it all relates to why ENFP personality types are so drawn to INTJ’s and the role of cognitive function order in relationships. I can’t take credit for the topic, though, since it started with one of the authors asking me about creating layered fictional characters. Some times I find myself a tad out of my depth.

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                1. Instapunk’s avatar

                  I think you’re being silly. Throwing acronyms at ME is also a dodge. You want to talk about fiction with a real writer? Do so. What’s your question, PJ?

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                  1. Peregrine John’s avatar

                    They’re shorthand, not a dodge – and apparently a useful way to identify how to communicate with people. Be that as it may, the question I was posed, which I pass along to you since I really don’t have a reliable answer, is this:

                    If a character is said to be deep, does that usually mean it is filtered through layers of crap that has accumulated on their natural personality? Does it instead mean that they prefer to be less forthcoming about their yet-unspoken thoughts, whether from the aforementioned psychic sediment or an inability to convey them to perhaps simpler minds? Or is it that a complexity of thought means that more than the usual number of things must be discovered about them to get a clear picture (for reasons other than simple obscuring)? Or do people usually mean something entirely different by the term?

                    Obviously, that’s distilled from some short conversation, but it’s the whole of the thing in one. The follow-on, and the reason for it, was to wonder how often a given cause of “depth” is applied in works of fiction, and why.

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                    1. Instapunk’s avatar

                      Apparently NOT a useful way to communicate, since I don’t understand it.

                    2. Instapunk’s avatar

                      Peregrine John.

                      I hate to offend you. Why I’ve been slow to respond.

                      You seem amazingly determined to miss the point. But it’s an important discussion. You are not inquiring into what your bright young things actually know.

                      Deep? For any writer, it’s an easy determination. Paragraphs and chapters you need to read out loud. Narratives, characters that stick with you through time. Structural elements that require you to reassess your own cultural base.

                      Sunday School stuff, really. But asking questions, that’s hard. Old farts don’t want to ask the questions of the intelligent youngsters they can’t answer. Do they have a continuum of dates that places them in relation to the Egyptians, the Romans, their European heirs, the Enlightenment, Napoleon, blah blah? Geography? World capitals? Great rivers by continent? Mountain ranges by continent? Masterpieces of art by era and nation? Dante? Picasso? Newton? Of course not. Old man having too good a time pretending he’s having an intelligent conversation.

                      More pedestrianly, do they know the state capitals, the rules of punctuation and grammar, the Constitution, the presidential succession at least approximately, the Revolution, the Missouri Compromise, the Civil War, World War I and II?

                      My guess is, they don’t for the most part. I’m guessing they haven’t read Twain, Hemingway, or Fitzgerald. Or Shakespeare.

                      My granddaughter, niece of my wife’s daughter who didn’t know how many senators there are, worked her way back to the date of Pearl Harbor. She didn’t know it, mind. She figured it out. Hope for her. Not a lot. But she has a brain.

                      You can continue to fool yourself with how talented the Millennials are. But if they don’t know anything, they have no context for anything they believe. Which renders their opinions on the depth of any literature from any time moot.

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                      1. Peregrine John’s avatar

                        Oh. What do I ask them? A different question entirely, and yes, I managed to miss it consistently. I’d blame a thick head due to sickness, but that only accounts for a few days. I’ve a thick head in general, which I do believe I’ve pointed out before.

                        As to the questions listed, I’m not sure they’re the hard ones, or more the Sunday school items: progression of presidents, the capital of Wyoming, etc. They’ve read Dante and Shakespeare, though a couple only did it for school; one quotes Twain frequently. They’re more likely to compare stations of the Hero’s Journey in different stories than what artist built or broke down realism. Not sure how that falls in your hierarchy of thought.

                        But you’re right, I don’t quiz them on the basics, however much context matters. Which of course it does. Relativism is worse than useless in any area of thought. I’ll poke at the basics more and see what’s in there.

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                      2. Instapunk’s avatar

                        The basics are not just Sunday School questions. They’re the context and the continuum. The way we place ourselves in the world and measure ourselves against the varieties of our own ignorance.

                        CNN producers put up on-air maps showing Hong Kong in South America. NYT writers put John the Baptist at the resurrection. Nobody asks the ones who are so adept at dodging questions what they know. If you do start asking seriously about basics, you will discover how adept they are.

                        Which is tantamount to an admission they are bullshitting about almost everything and live from day to day hoping not to get find out by the few people who might uncover their frightened secret.

                        Reply

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