Thursday, January 14, 2021

Opinions: Throwing Rocks: Being a Traffic Cop

Good morning.  There is a moment when you feel the lever shift, under your hands, and you look up to check whether the top of the load has shifted against the sky. But mostly it's quiet, this morning: another silent rush of the tide under the pylons. The gulls are not awake yet, and we're in the deep quiet of January.

Von Tal is restless, and he writes:

We've got an American public whose historical understanding of the Revolution is that one day a crowd threw rocks at soldiers in Boston, and that from then on victory was a forgone conclusion. Six grinding years of keeping an army in the field, hunted up and down the Atlantic coast, was superfluous detail. It would have been "names-and-dates-of-battles" trivia: no need to teach that, or learn it.

So now a bunch of wannabe revolutionaries are hiding at home wondering why their revolution isn't accomplished, since they clearly have done all that was necessary. They threw the rocks: why isn't there a new government?

On the one hand, of course, thank God: if they had known what they needed to orchestrate and organize, things might have gone otherwise. On the other hand, if they had known what signing up for a revolution actually entailed, they might have thought better of it in the first place.

I've watched left wing idiots doing the same thing all my life: now I'm watching right wing idiots doing it. You don't want six years barefoot and bleeding in the snow, don't sign on, guys.

Yeah, well, maybe. How do you know? How do you know any of the stuff you supposedly know? And what are you willing to bet on it? 

The twice-warmed coffee is sour on my tongue. Finally, after much dithering, I ordered some votive candles online, to be coffee warmers. I already have the little scaffold for my cup to sit on. I have a boy's love of open flame, and my theory is that keeping the cup warm, rather than reheating in the microwave, will a) keep me at my post longer, b) keep my coffee warmer longer, and c) reduce the eventual bitterness of multiply reheated coffee. This being a thing, Herr von Tal, that a man might actually gauge by experience and actually know. So the candles, I am informed, left San Bernardino by truck yesterday, accompanied by Stallings' translation of Lucretius. In the 21st Century economy this is not an odd packaging, nor an odd origin. Why should candles and Lucretius not arise in San Bernardino? Riddle me that.

And here is Mark Manson on opinions:

One thing I would add to this, is that an unexpected bonus is the emotional relief that comes of shedding opinions. One does not realize, until one does it, how heavy the burden of all those opinions is, how anxiously they must be defended, how vulnerable they make you to every passing stranger. I practice not having opinions about other drivers, when I'm on the freeway. What do I know of what they are rushing toward, and what they are fending off? "No one made me a traffic cop," I murmur. Thank God. I am so grateful that no one made me a traffic cop. And I am correspondingly grateful for the people who undertake that burden, leaving me to float, irresponsible and free, in the flow of traffic. If someone's driving strikes me as aggressive or erratic, I simply drop back in the current till I'm well away from them. 

There was a time -- there are still times! -- when I soberly thought it was my duty to think like a traffic cop, and come to decisions about the culpability of any driver who irritated me. Just how wicked were they being? How inexcusable? What punishment should be meted to them? How much better than them am I? All these questions struck me as reasonable and responsible. Now they strike me as signs of immaturity, if not mental illness. "No one made me a traffic cop." It's something of a mantra.

Lots of love, dear ones. I hope your day has unexpected presents that delight you.

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