Friday, May 8, 2020

Distancing + Dao

I've been off the blog for a while. As I mentioned to a few faithful friends, I've kept a lower profile. My employment is not guaranteed and my tendency to speak frankly has met with my diminished expression of opinions on subjects deemed too controversial or retrograde for comfort. And, I teach about the dangers of groupthink and the necessity for caution and reason in putting out one's ideas. My students get my mini-rants about the challenges of honest communication in what's lately been deemed a "cancel culture." A visit to contrarian contributors at Quillette documents its impacts.

However, there's a lot I've wanted to chime in on. So, I am earning back online. My article in OnePeterFive yesterday represents my interest in a long-standing phenomenon, which I've been fascinated with for decades. How countercultural or marginal figures in the media and in activism may drift in their views as they mature. Not a facile "right" leaning or a "libertarian" niche, but one instead that takes from what's been called for lack of better phrasing the place in political typography charted as "left-libertarian." Not as communal as principled anarchism, maybe more an interpretation of the Daodejing (fka Tao te ching) as a collection of suggestions for not tuning out or dropping out, but rather a meditative anthology on the wisdom of opting out of the maniacal version of "social justice" which denigrates nobody but those of a particular category, which happens to be my own.

How can concepts attributed legendarily to Lao Tse's dictation as he stepped off of his ox and dictated to the gatekeeper before the sage departed China (his insights in about 5000 characters can be read in English in about 70 minutes) be tied into a situation as we find ourselves in, dodging each other's rhetorical brickbats and even before the phrase "social distancing" became literally overnight the new normal for billions of us, seeking a safe space from those we offend simply by being born this way?

That was some convoluted sentence. But as I think as I type, for better or worse, I found I have a theme to contemplate. How much do we distance ourselves from what threatens us, or unsettles us?

No comments: