Around this point I hear the voice of Joe Dolce. If you were around and sentient in 1981 you”ll remember Joe and his novelty song:
Why you look so sad?
It’s-a not so bad.
It’s a nice-a place.
Ah, shaddup-a you face.
Not only are there still public zones of calm reason in which to take refuge, there is private life. Mine, I observe realistically, is pretty darn good”better (realistically again) than I deserve on any fair calculus of virtue and effort. I have robust health, a nice house, no debts, dear friends. My kids turned out OK, not that I really believe I had much control over that. My wife has for 28 years observed the Anglican wedding vows to the precise letter and punctuation mark, in spite of never having actually uttered them. The converse case is far more common. It’s-a not so bad.
Still I wish I were better socialized, and thence happier. If only I could believe the pretty lies! I”m tired of being an outlier. I want to run with the pack.
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men?
(No, that’s not Joe Dolce. That’s Tennyson.)
I want to believe that diversity is our strength; that Islam is a religion of peace; that the Republican Party is a force for conservatism; that if George thinks he is a woman, then by golly he is a woman”his cock, balls, beard, and 37.2 trillion Y-chromosomes notwithstanding; that my personality will survive when my brain is destroyed; that if not for the cruel legacy of colonialism, black African nations would by now have Mars colonies and world-conquering commercial enterprises; that poverty causes crime; that gay is just as good as straight; that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle; that I have free will; that importing one-quarter of the population of Guyana has been good for the U.S.A., and for Guyana; that IQ tests measure nothing of life-history significance, only the ability to pass IQ tests; that there is no such thing as race; that a loving invisible god is watching over me and listening to my mumbled preferences, when not attending to necessary maintenance chores elsewhere in the Virgo Supercluster; that women’s sports are interesting for non-lesbians to watch even when not conducted in skimpy bikinis; that 10,000 hours of dogged practice will make me a first-class tennis player; that Guatemalan gangbangers will become family-values conservatives once they have touched the magic soil of the U.S.A.; that invoking “culture” (which means: the customary behaviors of a people) as an explanation for the customary behaviors of a people increases our understanding; that black kids will do just as well as white kids academically as soon as we fix the schools; that some person somewhere knows how to fix the schools …
I want to believe the pretty lies. I”ve had enough of depressive realism. I want to take the blue pill. Where’s the nearest retail outlet?
Housekeeping note: This will be my last column until September. I am taking the entire month of August off, like a Frenchman.
Daily updates with TM’s latest