Wednesday, July 1, 2015

“I, Liar” and “X-Files”

•Janice Erlbaum gets inside the head of a despicable person in her novel I, Liar, showing us convincingly the process of character formation that might lead an almost-ordinary-seeming woman to become a chronic victimizer. Enough slights from Mom, enough lousy living situations in need of escaping, and perhaps you too might have ended up finding comfort in duping playmates, fellow students, and co-workers. Where will it end?

•Some free-marketeers I know are as guilty as communists of seeing lying as morally unlike contract fraud (though the free-marketeers tend to take the formal business contracts more seriously and the communists tend to take them less seriously). You’re always making the presumption if you lie, though, whether in writing or in casual conversation, that your judgment of how the person you’re talking to should deploy his resources and life energies trumps how he would want to use them if he knew the truth. Not cool. Never do it (except, as with punching or any other aggression, as a defense against outright coercion, such as lying to Nazis at the door).

The case wouldn’t have to be spelled out this rationalistically, of course, if people would show some damn empathy. Lying, rooted in the arrogant belief one knows best, inevitably undermines that.

•Speaking of low-empathy cases, I notice at least one person thanked in the acknowledgements of the aforementioned novel who is among that 5% of Facebook friends who’ve ended up unfriending me, not such a bad ratio given that my whole m.o. is violating that (purported) party etiquette rule against discussing religion or politics.

I can’t help noticing, though, that you can pretty much say there’s no God on a regular basis without losing any Christians, but disagree with one line or narrow, specific policy implication of a recent Salon piece and you run a good chance of someone, usually a young, white, female, East-Coast, feminist liberal who ostensibly hates narrow-mindedness and intolerance, vanishing. The most “privileged” and coddled adult population on Earth -- sought as either solidarity sisters or sex partners by nearly everyone they encounter in a place like NYC -- they have decided they are the vanguard in teaching the rest of us what constitutes ethical discourse and acceptable political thinking. They are jerks. One advantage of aging is being able to say so without fear of relevant social consequences.

I will shortly endeavor to absent myself from increasingly rapid and vicious culture clashes (flags, gays, what have you) in favor of the more serious business of teaching the world some basic economics, though. If I can do so in a world with no Ex-Im Bank and less of an EU, so much the better! More soon.

•Today marks the final issue of a two-year, twenty-five-issue X-Files: Season Ten sequel series that was begun before any of us knew the TV series itself would be coming back (as a miniseries, next year). It’s purportedly canonical, but I suppose few will worry about whether its resurrection of Cancer Man and the Lone Gunmen jibes with the semi-retired status of Mulder in the lame second X-Files movie.

And I say just chalk up the lack of a 2012 invasion to magnetite in all those “chemtrails.” So simple. Gotta clear the decks of old plot threads once in a while, in all nerd media.

•It is fitting that Clickhole has concocted a masterful conspiracy theory about the true meaning of Alex Trebek’s actions on Jeopardy (h/t Glen Whitman), given that Trebek played one of the mysterious Men in Black (alongside Jesse Ventura) in my favorite X-Files episode. It was arguably the funniest episode and the one that taught us the most up to that point about what the conspiracy was really up to.

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