Alt Right as abused drug

Former drug abusers are often the most vocal speakers on the dangers of drugs. Similarly I think that’s why I’m so critical of the Alt Right: “dark enlightenment” thought is fun when you’re young and rebellious, and it can help dissolve some of the BS constructs you see all around you, but too much of it will stunt your growth, and as you mature you should realize some of those BS constructs are there for practical reasons.

Comments on this blog

I approve most comments people post on here, obviously including ones where people disagree with me, but by now I’ve had a few situations where I haven’t let comments go through.

Sorry, but I don’t have any solid rules about this I could post as a comment policy. I figure if I do then there will always be edge cases and exceptions, and I don’t feel like dealing with that, so the only real policy is “It’s my blog, I get to decide, too bad.”

That’s not very benevolent of me though, so as an olive branch here are some basic guidelines:

  • Say as controversial a thing as you like, but if your comments are nasty and designed to make someone angry rather than make them think, I’ll probably delete them.
  • I can forgive the occasional typo, misspelling, or grammar error–I’m prone to them myself–but if  you insist on never using punctuation or always using caps lock or whatever else so that your comments are barely readable, I’ll probably delete them.
  • The more of your comments I approve, the more leniency you get next time. Similarly, the more of your comments I veto, the less leniency you get next time.

I’ll try to stick to those guidelines but I could totally see myself accidentally veering from them, so if you feel I have not been fair please post a comment letting me know and stating your case. I promise I’ll read and seriously consider it (unless it is blatantly nasty or unreadable of course).

Practicality vs. coping with dissidence

Reality often accommodates contradictory beliefs and frequently even provides evidence that supports all of them. Thus intelligent, informed people can hold opposing beliefs on basically everything.

Now put yourself in the shoes of one of those intelligent, informed people whose beliefs contradict most of those underpinning our modern/liberal/global/egalitarian/democratic Western society. What are your practical options to get through life? Or would you take no practical option and just “cope”?

What annoys me lately is when those people’s goals suggest they should seriously pursue practical options, but their actions are pure coping instead.

Our wrinkled universes

Most of what happens to us is decoration on the fabric of our reality. But some of our experience impresses wrinkles and folds into that fabric, hiding certain truths and bringing others into greater visibility. With enough intellect and ability to compartmentalize we can tease these folds apart and iron the wrinkles flat a bit, peeking at what was hidden and reassessing what was foregrounded. But instinctively we are fold- and wrinkle-loving creatures; we need them to make sense of our lives, and even while we are making a show of laying the fabric flat we are secretly pressing folds and wrinkles back into it.

Movie review: “Accidental Courtesy”

Normally I don’t see movies close enough to when thy are released to even fathom reviewing them, but this time I saw the 1.5 hour documentary “Accidental Courtesy” on PBS’s Independent Lens website apparently just a week or two after it came out. It’s made by Matt Ornstein and is about Daryl Davis, the black man who befriended dozens of Klansmen with the result that many of them left the Klan.

Davis is an interesting guy to start with: a prolific keyboardist who has seemingly played with just about any iconic American musical act you can think of, from Chuck Berry to the Tonight Show band. But his hobby is particularly compelling: meeting and befriending Klansmen in an effort to answer his lifelong question “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

The documentary doesn’t get hung up in the semantic details of what hatred is and what it really means, and I wouldn’t say it provides any meaningful insight into the Klansmen’s point of view either. So, racism itself goes unexamined. Instead what I love about the movie is the way it champions Davis’s ethos of being willing to sit down and listen to people you disagree with, and to separate the person from the idea. “If you’re talking,” Davis says, “you’re not fighting.”

You can see how seriously Davis takes this ethos in a scene where he is sitting down with Black Lives Matter activists. They are disrespectful and uncivil to him–a striking contrast with the smiling, accommodating white supremacists he talks to at other points in the movie who are obviously moved by his charm–and yet Davis never drops to their level. He sits like a boulder, insistent on two-way dialog and mutual understanding. Even while being cussed at and stormed out on, he extends a hand of friendship and says “Let me walk with you.”

I empathize with Davis because he doesn’t seem to get offended by anything–or if he does, he doesn’t let it sour his disposition–and he doesn’t even hesitate about stepping off whatever reservation to which he might be said to belong. He’s interested in seeing up close the people who tend to get vilified from afar, and he knows there is always the potential to change people’s minds or at least make a friend.

Technically, the movie is nicely done (some poor audio quality here and there can be forgiven) and even has some subtle visual themes that support the subject matter. To some degree the movie is a series of vignettes in which Davis sits on one side of the screen and some Klansman or neo-Nazi sits on the other, punctuated occasionally by scenes of Davis playing keyboards, but the rhythm and motivation is established well early on, so these odd rendezvouses and the lack of context around each one doesn’t feel too contrived.

I highly recommend this movie; it left me thinking and feeling inspired.

Watch the movie here: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/accidental-courtesy/