Saturday, February 16, 2008

Responding to the Cult of Obamaphiliaphobia

This, from Athenae at First Draft, is so friggin' superior that I have to take note of it here at The Huckupchuck. Here are the proverbial "money" paragraphs:

So we're all bloodless now, and along comes a reason for us to get flushed and excited, for us to stand up and wave our arms and shout and cheer. Along comes the passion we feel we've been missing in American life and in politics, and we throw ourselves at it like prom dates two minutes to midnight. Can you blame us? It's not just Obama, or just blogs, where I find the thundering power and might of the righteous voice these days. It's not just one candidate over another. It's that for too long we've been told to sit down and shut up and that it's rude to give a damn, and that isn't living, that isn't life, that's not even death, not even that honest. That's slow suffocation by superiority, that's what that is.

We throw ourselves into it and of course it scares the shit out of people whose stock in trade is convincing us to view everything like it's some big ironic joke. Of course it looks like a cult. What they can't see is that the opposite — where we deify disinterest — isn't all that far off. They accuse you of being that which they fear they've become.
Exactly! The "slow suffocation by superiority" is classic! The imagery is fantastic in that phrase, and the alliteration of the sultry letter "s" is perfect.

And the last line of the piece gets right to the point and garners a whopping punch in striking at the heart of the meaning and causes of Obamaphiliaphobia.


oyster said...

I agree, that's an excellent quote.

Thanks for noting it.

jeffrey said...

Yes excellent. I like Athenae. A lot. But this really is its own parody.

"....blogs, where I find the thundering power and might of the righteous voice these days."

Uh huh.

I'm not trying to pick too much. I'm nowhere near the talented writer she is. But I would be tempted here to turn the line, "They accuse you of being that which they fear they've become," once more upon itself because... if there were ever a case of investing oneself a little too much into the goings on this may be it.

And, despite what Huck likes to say, I'm not advocating some kind of detached apathy. If that were the case, I wouldn't bother paying attention in the first place.

But if ever I believe myself capable of offering one line of advice to anyone who engages with the news it is this.

It is not ever about you and your feelings. Someone will be elected President regardless of whether you shout or cheer. You could stand on your head until all the blood runs to your face and you could feel as "flushed" as you wanna be. But the only thing you can do which might affect the outcome of these events in even the most minuscule and indirect way is vote. Once.

The alternative to whooping and hollering like a jackass is not, by default, despair. Nobody is going to jump off a bridge in November just like no one is going to be Assumed into Heaven.

It's just shit that happens in the news. It's stuff that affects your life but it still isn't actually about you.

Huck said...

jeffrey - Fair points; but if it isn't actually about us, why do you make it so? Your comments are never just about the stuff that affects our lives, but precisely about how our response to this stuff reflects poorly on our character, on our being. Simply put, the thing that grates is that, in the end, you think whooping and hollering makes one out to be a jackass. It says no such thing except in the recesses of your own mind, which itself is conditioned by a way of looking at things that sees emotion and inspiration as suspect elements of personal character. In fact, all it does is show that we can get enthusiastic about and be inspired by things, and aren't too concerned about the need to always be emotionally tempered so as to be taken seriously. On more than one occasion, you have implied that it is indicative of a social sickness of sorts to give in to enthusiasm or to be inspired by something. But we are not sociall sick. We are just people with emotions (and most of us critically thinking people) who aren't afraid to show it at times. It certainly doesn't imply that somehow we who whoop and holler think that in doing so our solitary vote becomes more significant than it is. It is just an expression of some excitement, and it is an excitement that means more when it is shared with others publicly. What is so wrong about that? I have this image of you at a Saints game never whooping it up and letting it all hang out in the adrenaline rush of a great play or a victory because you might think it embarrassing and indicative of being a jackass. Furthermore, I don't think any of us are expecting you to show any emotion if that's who you are. But when you piss on the parade of other people's good feelings and emotional responses, that's where the rub is. You tend to make such displays out to be a commentary on that person's intelligence, stability, and sanity. Jackasses and cultists we must be. As such, you tend to demean people who show emotion or admit to being inspired. I'm not sure where or why that attitude is so important for you to express, but it's just not very humane nor, I think, is it very human. It's actually kind of a downer. It's like the killjoy who simply must quash the good feeling of others because he has difficulty embracing that good feeling for himself.