Long-time readers of this backwater blog know all too well that I’m always game for a little banter, a little tête-à-tête, so why was I all too happy to bite my tongue this week?
So as we found ourselves sitting in his dining room in Montreali this past weekend, debating Quebec’s handling of the pandemic relative to Alberta’s, and he framed Alberta as the “loose” one prioritising the economy over health like some baby Trumpistan, I couldn’t possibly reply that Alberta had only 195 COVID deaths to-date while Quebec had 29x that recorded amount despite QC having only twice the population and very nearly the exact same population density. Really, who am I to argue?
He’s turning 92-years-old this week, he’s a prime target for COVID, he watches the national news more religiously than he goes to Temple, and he has absolutely no shortage of firm and fast ways about him, as well he’s entitled to, all things considered, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that things are pretty black and white for him at this stage in his life.ii The greying/blurring of possibilities/perspectives that younger and more curious, if not wiser minds, seek out, relish in, and play with for fun is of no more interest to this hardline nonagenarian than sex is. He had the love of his life – she passed away ten years ago and he’s still not over her – and his only regret being that his marriage lasted only 58 years, not twice that. That’s a pretty sweet regret! At the very least it means that he chose his partner well, selecting for enduring brains over vanishing beauty. All of that being said, he’s now alone,iii my sole surviving grandparent, thousands of miles away from my home in Edmonton, even if never closer thanks to the marvels of modern communication technologies, and I may have only 100 hours left with him. Maybe only 10. I don’t know. So do I really want to waste 1% of that, much less 10% of that, verbally burying the man who sacrificed so much, immigrating halfway across the world, so that even one of his grandchildren could return to the level of pre-Hitlerian prosperity that his parents had enjoyed?iv
So let him have his opinions. Let me have mine. As with the online world, we have much less ability to persuade those around us than we think.v For the most part, then, we’d do well to treat debates as sport moreso than politics, and to take it easy on the slide tackles.vi
A better alternative, with our limited time together, is to jump…
We don’t know when the clock will strike midnight…
And there’s no sense going down with a frown, my prince!viii
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- Back in the open skies again! Thankfully Canada is enormous, beautiful, and relatively cheap. “Help! I’m in a nutshell!” ↩
- The Girl and I often joke that “routine is the spice of life,” which is really a parenting truism more than a 30-something truism, but it’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t get LESS true in your 90s! ↩
- Blessedly not in a long-term care facility or else I’d be grandparentless! ↩
- Y’know, having 2-3 staff in your home, like real people! ↩
- In the online world, as in meatspace, there’s 0.001% of people who can be intelligently engaged with and persuaded as to the merits or logic of your given perspective, then there’s the “aspirational” 9.999% (to borrow a shallow and broken TLPism) who think they’re “reasonable” and “rational” but are really of the SJW persuasion, and then there’s the 90% who are fit for the cattle ranch and whom foreign and domestic powers alike delight in playing like mommy-blogger-flutes. So pray tell, where’s the room for Socratic inquiry? Who among us is so neatly encased in the glass vitrine of the 0.001%? Unless Chamath happens reading this, which I kinda doubt, I don’t see how any of us can raise his hand; and even he probably can’t, and that’s the point. So we live and let live explicitly, all while we grasp and strive for the levers of true power, whatever and wherever they might be, and we read 2`400-year-old philosophy, nodding our heads in sage agreement at the timeless qualities of humanity and humankind. ↩
- Granting that playing a sport well – such as debate/rap battle for example, as was the case with La Serenissima in its heyday – has an intra-group ranking function rather than an inter-group integration function, but I’d argue that even this sport of a sport is still more of a sport than politics, only because it wasn’t a very functional political tool! And this, in one of the more “functional” political institutions of its day!
Besides, even U.S. Congress is up with the times in treating “politics” as theatre, and theatre as sport, so what’s your problem?↩
- What is “joy,” you ask? Spinoza had a few thoughts and definitions on the matter:
Joy is Pleasure arising from the image of something past whereof we have doubted the issue. Disappointment is the Pain opposed to Joy. (IIIpXVIIIsII)
He who conceives that the object of his love is destroyed will feel Pain; if he conceives that it is preserved he will feel Joy. (IIIpXIX)
Thus we see, that the mind can undergo many changes, and can pass sometimes to a state of greater perfection, sometimes to a state of lesser perfection. These passive states of transition explain to us the emotions of Joy [laetitia] and Sadness [tristitia]. By Joy therefore in the following propositions I shall signify a passive state wherein the mind passes to a greater perfection. By Sadness I shall signify a passive state wherein the mind passes to a lesser perfection. (IIIpXIs)
Feel free to choose the one you like best. ↩
- Freddy the Frog, as seen at the Round House at Sally’s Pond. ↩