Existential Exhaustion and My Publisher

The WTO Publisher, Bob Patchen, posted this on Facebook yesterday. But his pants are so very fancy and he has Facebook set to not let people share his stuff. So I had to ask him if I could copy and paste it.

Fancy fancy fancy.

He said yes.

I’m lucky he tolerates me. Haha. Poor fool.

Anyhow, I copied and pasted it, and because it’s longer than 280 characters including spaces, no one read it.

Because we all have a little touch of tech-induced ADD these days, don’t we?
Anyhow, I love this. I love it because it’s one of those rare moments when someone has articulated, marvelously, something big and important I want to express but can’t.

I struggle exquisitely with speaking. I can write you an entire doctoral dissertation on selective mutism, but I’ll be damned if I can explain my difficulty with translation of my internal monologue into out loud words. It’s a cognitive stutter. The wiring between my mouth and my brain is somehow faulty.

I’m fortunate that I was gifted extremely effective wiring between my brain and my hand. Otherwise I’d never be able to express myself.

Still. Some things, the really big, important things, are even hard to articulate in writing. This is one of them.

I think what scares me most about America right now, socially and politically, is that I’m seeing us being that fucking frog in the pot.

You know that analogy? They use it in domestic violence education a lot but it’s a metaphor with a lot of applications.

It’s like this: if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it’s going to jump and jump and try to get out. If you put a frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly increase the temperature to boiling, it will die without ever noticing.

I was like that frog in the slowly boiling water when it came to my marriage.
And I’m deeply, deeply, existentially fearful that America has the potential to be that frog every time we let an obvious monster make important decisions with all the wisdom and good judgement of a toddler.
He’s an egomaniacal, boorish, mouth-breathing, ignorant, dangerously thoughtless, cruel son of a bitch.

And I don’t understand how no one can see it. You can glean worlds of information about what sort of a person a person is by paying close attention to how they feel about whatever it is that they’re doing. Are they enjoying it? Or does it make them unhappy? And the most dangerous sort of person is one who is not only doing wicked things, but also enjoying it.

And make no mistake that the bully we’ve allowed to run our country is enjoying the shit out of glorifying his narcissistic ignorance. He’s Bob Ewell with a checkbook. That’s all he is. He’s a literal shame.

Let’s stop being the frog. Let’s recognize when we’re being boiled alive and jump the fuck out of the pot. Please? Can we do that America?

Because I don’t think, if you’re in favor of the wars we’re on the brink of, you understand the fact that war can just as easily be waged in this country. Maybe because we’ve  not had to experience the reality of it at home in centuries, but I don’t think people understand the seriousness of the action because they don’t  have to directly witness its atrocity.

And it is a whole different kettle of stinking, rotten fish when the guns are firing outside your door and your city is the one being carpet bombed.

It makes me exhausted, on a cellular, emotional level, to be able to see all the different versions of reality that could crop up from the decisions he makes and the shit that pours out of his mouth on a regular basis. It’s a soul- level exhaustion. And it’s not something I can turn off because it’s not a choice.  It’s the way I see the world. It’s the way I experience life.

From a number of perspectives and my job is to figure out which one is legit. Which one I need to base future action on.
I’d give anything to trade my brain in for one that’s just average across the board and not all spikey, excellent at some things and abysmal at others.

“…Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?-Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty. Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have….

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked-if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in-your nation, your people-is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.”

-Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945

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