Three Grotesque Absurdities of Contemporary Living

Homosexuality cannot be primarily genetic, solar energy is only a dynamo when applied to agriculture, and literacy enriches life only when it slows and deepens thought: these three unimpeachable propositions have all become political heresy in our insane culture.

Cogar leat, as they used to say in Ireland: “A whisper with you.”  Let’s not speak too loudly, or the Attorney General may rule that we pose an imminent threat to national security and deploy a drone.  I have three secrets to tell you about our time’s incredible absurdity.

FIRST ABSURDITY: Homosexuality is Genetically Determined

If people are homosexual because they are born so—i.e., because of their genetic material—and since gay individuals cannot breed because they mate with other gays, then why has their kind not vanished from the face of the earth, like Ice Age oxen in climes that grew too warm?  Officially approved answer: the individuals in question did in fact breed heterosexually throughout yesteryear because they feared to reveal their true proclivity.  Assume that the answer makes sense.  (It doesn’t: stigmatizing agents like playground bullies and Victorian matrons didn’t exist on the primal savanna, and the “gay gene” could hardly have popped up just a few hundred years ago.  The “breeding out” should hence have occurred while our ancestors were still eating ticks off of each other.)  No longer does any significant social pressure exist for gays to remain in the closet. They need no more enter into undesired heterosexual marriages and pass their genetic material on to subsequent generations in a manner repugnant to them.  Therefore, the percentage of gays in the general population must steadily dwindle until its reaches virtual zero.  Genetic conditions do not persist when those who possess them cease to reproduce.

We should expect, then, that whatever social or moral problems are posed by homosexuality will work themselves out now in a few decades, inasmuch as homosexuality itself must vanish if nature is left to run its course.  The situation has an elegant beauty: extend full tolerance to the gay rather than load them with opprobrium, and the challenge they represent to traditional virtue will remove itself without any further action.

Of course, you and I both know (I say in a whisper) that no such thing will happen.  For the most part, homosexuality is a behavioral choice rather than a genetic condition.  (A very, very few people are born with anomalous genitalia: this seems more on the order of a birth defect than an alternative arrangement of chromosomes passed through generations.)  The “gay lifestyle” will therefore persist, and probably even proliferate as our ailing society continues its death spiral.  In our last days, we shall at least have the satisfaction of possessing irrefragable proof that homosexuals are in general bred rather than born; for there can be no other possible explanation of their durability in these free and open times.

SECOND ABSURDITY: The Perversion of the Sun’s Power

Solar energy has been effectively harnessed throughout the history of human civilization—but we have lately turned our backs upon its proper use in order to (as it were) yoke the goose to the plow.  The most essential need for all human beings is food: the sun has always been the primary engine that drives food-production.  Does American society consume too much energy?  By any sane standard, it certainly does.  How, then, might we best use the sun to modify our consumption?  By growing food in our back yards.  Less fuel expended by tractors, trains, and trucks; fewer trips to the grocery store; less energy sacrificed to refrigeration; perhaps liberation from fighting traffic twice a day in pursuit of enough money to buy food, at least for one member of the family… these are only the most obvious savings available purely in terms of oil and electricity.

My own very preliminary experiment in backyard farming has already staggered me with its potential.  I never would have believed that we might one day supply most of the food on our table in this manner: now I see the evidence just in the fertility of the two hundred square feet or so I have tilled.  Think of the implications.  No more need of foodstamps.  No more need to endure intolerable working conditions or else pull up stakes and move to a new city.  No “prepper” nightmare about a world where all the shelves suddenly go bare.  And think, too, of the effects upon our intellectually and spiritually drifting children.  Into their education could be infused useful, “hands-on” lessons about how things grow, and at home they would have chores to do that would quickly inspire in them a sense of responsibility and of pride that they have helped the family to survive.  They would at once learn far more than they do now about “earth science” (which, as currently taught, scarcely seems to have any meaning) and about the natural limitations within which all life must find its place.  They would grow both smarter and wiser: their minds and their spirits would develop in tandem.

Instead, we are heavily invested in maximizing the dependency of individuals upon the collective.  We chase the mirage of solar energy as a means of keeping our cars and our toys operating at their present maniacal rates of consumption; and to sustain the charade, we aid and abet the creation of “cancer villages” in China and Third World nations, where the rare-earth metals needed to coat solar panels leave a deadly spill-over.

This is not a fairly innocent, patently stupid absurdity like Number One: this is criminal.  Our handlers clearly couldn’t care less about the planet or its inhabitants, human or animal.  (For more on the Green Elite’s slaughter of animal life, do a little research into the effects of wind turbines on wild fowl.)  With a little encouragement through general education, individual Americans could be rendered far more independent, healthy, proud, responsible, and content by using the sun’s golden blessings the old-fashioned way.  The official objective, though, is precisely to render the American masses more dependent, sickly, shameless, whiney, and crotchety: hence our present “solar energy” initiatives. 

THIRD ABSURDITY: The Digital “Enhancement” of Literacy

Both polarities of the political spectrum laud education as the pre-condition to democracy and the gateway to a more productive future.  So they should.  Yet on Right as well as Left, one also hears that technology holds the key to education’s gate.  Luminaries of East Coast conservatism (a distinctly elitist brand) like George Gilder have long argued that the Internet will create a new era of freedom by affording everyone a platform who chooses to speak up.  The amiable Rush Limbaugh naively praises whatever new iDevice he happens to be playing with while on the air—or critiques it sometimes, but leaves us in no doubt that such technical advances are a triumph of free enterprise.  Meanwhile, adversaries on the Left lobby to have grade schools equipped to the hilt with all the latest hardware.  After all, how could a self-advertised progressive ever be opposed to a hand-held library?  Of course, the potential latent in the Internet to “wire” an entire citizenry, and even an entire planet—dispensing “necessary information” to everyone instantly while also subtly monitoring the browses and exchanges of each individual—must also appeal to zealots of centralization.

The Gilder-Limbaugh crowd and the Orwellian mind-control crowd are both correct, as it happens.  The Internet does allow all of us to post practically anything.  It also and thereby creates a permanent record of personal thought, easily accessed and categorized by anyone who might want to profile us.  The various supportive gismos attendant upon Internet culture are indeed a bonanza for resourceful private-sector developers.  They also open intimate, highly intrusive pathways to marketing which could be used by social engineers just as readily as by sellers of Nike shoes or weight-loss drugs.  In this particular case, the two poles of the political spectrum are pulling together against the mainstream of American society—or, I should say, against the inert remnant of Western culture (an infinitely punier opponent); and unfortunately, our talkative movers and shakers are dragging us all straight over a cliff.

For the bedrock issue to me, as an educator, isn’t even whether our Kindles are flashing ads for toothpaste or for gun control (or for movies that subliminally promote big government and free sex): the premier issue, rather, is simply that high-tech literacy comes too easily to impart intellectual and moral gifts.  What could always be said on behalf of reading and writing before the Internet was that both took time.  Handwriting (or typewriting) a letter or a novel was somewhat arduous.  The composer was therefore forced to think before—and as—he scribbled.  Reading, too, was purely a matter of person-in-chair and words-on-page: a rather colorless scene.  The reader had to provide sights and sounds from his or her own imagination.  This, too, required time.  People immersed in this culture were constantly seeking out quiet and private spaces where they could probe their own depths and seek the connections underlying blunt surfaces.

I still write that way, even at my keyboard; and I still read that way, even off the Net.  Probably most patrons of this site do, as well… but we are a dying breed.  The younger “literates” who follow us thumb out gibberish on their “smart phones” with no more thought than they would scratch an itch.  The documents they create for school or work leave trails of computer-enhanced “trend-speak”—clichés du jour (“I’m there for you”), proverbial relics in full meltdown (“for granted” rendered “for granite”), and even benign idiocy from the invisible correcting pen of Professor Bill Gates (“tonsorial” parsed as “to social” by the word processor).  Furthermore, no casual observer can harbor any doubt that the future holds yet more ease of thought.  Students of tomorrow will “read” with icons and pictures constantly popping up in the margins, and they will compose text by speaking into something like my old wristwatch.  Dumbing down, alas, has a long way to go before it finds the cold black sand of a cultural Mariana Trench.  By then, our computers will no longer even want our dead weight hanging about their artificial necks.

It is absurd that we are laboring so mightily to achieve this self-destruction, and I find it especially annoying that the self-styled Right invests no effort in resisting the descent.  Are we really prepared, we conservatives, to relinquish the riches of the thoughtful, independent individual just so that a succession of Gateses and Jobses can send a few more tsunamis of material prosperity through our moribund culture?  Ask a twenty-something if he even knows what “moribund” means.  He could look it up instantly on his smart phone, of course… but why should he, unless you’re offering him cash for the right answer?  Nothing he reads uses words like that.

3 comments to Three Grotesque Absurdities of Contemporary Living

  • Patrick Mulligan

    If conservatism necessarily entails being a Luddite, you can happily count me out. I suspect if you could travel back in time and offer our revered ancestors the same material comforts and opportunities that technology has provided us, they would jump at the opportunity rather than intentionally handicap themselves in pursuit of a lifestyle of noble dirt-farming poverty.

  • sedonaman

    Mr. Mulligan:

    Ditto for New Urbanism.

  • Patrick Mulligan

    The entire concept of urban planning is slightly Orwellian to me, so you’ll get no complaints from me there.

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