Or at least some days there are no answers. There are, however, lots and lots of questions.
Everyone tells us that if we aspire to write well we must understand people. Sometimes I wonder if that’s true, or even if it’s possible for us to understand other people. I pretty much treat them like enigmas animated by their own purpose, and oftentimes can predict what they will do next or what they’re pursuing from the evidence present. it doesn’t mean I can understand why they do the things they do. That is often still and always a mystery.
This is actually important, btw, because there is a tendency for writers to try to over-understand and empathize with their villains, because “they are the heroes of their own stories.” Sure, they are. But sometimes those stories are incredibly stupid by the standards of any person with a functioning brain.
Take the “brain trust” around FDR.
Okay, you don’t consider them villains. I do enjoin you with all possible speed to read The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes. Do. Then come back and let’s talk about it. Besides the fact that if this great republic collapses under the weight of centralization and the shredding of its constitution, the fingerprints on the knife on its back will be FDRs with some latents from Woodrow Wilson.
But do read the book, which I started reading at the instigation of a friend who said “you think today’s specimens are dumber than their forbears. That’s because you don’t remember in the Forgotten man, FDR choosing the price of gold according to lucky numbers.”
If that were all…. Oh, if that were all.
The brain trust — those brains were all in jars labeled Abby Normal, and I wouldn’t trust them further than I could throw them — had a number of members who had gone to Moscow years before, on pilgrimage, to learn from Stalin. A lot of such people wrote books that influenced what FDR did in the depression. Which btw, was more about “never let a crisis go to waste and prolong it if you can” than anything with helping anyone.
But it was that trip to the USSR that keeps turning on and on in my mind and going “The heck is wrong with people, actually?”
These were not stupid people. Or at least many ended up with law degrees and professorships. Then what in heck possessed them to go on an obviously controlled tour, and think they were getting the whole thing? Or the true thing? Or to believe a word of it?
And what excited them so about the five-year-plans that they thought it was more wonderful than anything in America? A plan is a plan. It doesn’t mean it will work.
And what on Earth, even if you don’t know what Stalin was actually up to, made them think that “the Russians are having all the fun and we should have some?”
In fact, what convinces people they have the key to the future and should therefore tell everyone how to structure all of society and change it, and change how everyone lives, because this will bring about utopia?
I’m looking at the Green New Dealers, chips off the old block. I’m looking at all the crazy people who run around saying absolutely everyone must be vaccinated against an illness with at worst a 99.7% survival rate, regardless of how untried the vaccine is (no, approval doesn’t mean squat in these circumstances. Human populations have massive variations. We haven’t yet encountered half the side effects this thing will have.) Is the fear of the great Atchoo so great that everyone must drop everything and stop this person from catching what in most cases is a bad cold? Do they think if they don’t catch it, they’ll live forever?
What in heck is wrong with their heads?
I’m reading a decent book (kind of) about strange phenomena written in the 70s and the author just floated that maybe all these atlanteans and extra terrestrials coming to warn us that we’re on the wrong path are the ghosts of our civilization “destroyed by nuclear war”.
Brother, if someone came back from the future to warn us of what destroyed us, it wouldn’t be that old Soviet agit prop boogaboo. It would be “Beware of collectivism, and of giving a single man too much power.” THAT has the ability to destroy entire civilizations.
But what I still can’t understand is why people WANT to have that power. I don’t get it.
What combination of hubris and blindness makes them think they should control people’s lives down to the most minute actions, because it’s not what they’d, personally do?
Why particularly do they want to stop other people talking? There is someone serially denouncing me on Facebook, so that I’m in perpetual jail. This is …. interesting.
I mean, I see things on Facebook I disagree with all the time. Do I denounce people and get them taken down? no. I ignore them, and read something else. To my mind that’s the only thing to do. So why do people feel a need to silence others?
Which also applies to writing. I might laugh at or turn my nose up at a lot of books, but I have never felt a need to say “people shouldn’t be allowed to write this.”
I mean…. who cares? They write it, and some people claim to like reading it. That’s fine. I don’t care so long as they don’t try to enforce it as “the only thing you should read and write, and if you read and write something else you’re a bad person.”
I mean, heck, my husband reads books I couldn’t stand for three pages. If he enjoys them, that’s great.
So, you see, I have questions. What is this sickness that impels people to try to control what other people do that doesn’t affect them — really — in any way, shape or form?
Why are they so convinced there must be a “right” way to live that only they know and can impose on everyone?
And can we get a vaccine for THAT?