Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deconstructing the Texas BoE (Addendum)

Both during and after writing Deconstructing the Texas Board of Education, I tried to work out with Mr. Awesome just what’s up with these people and their ideology, and how come it’s so hard to conceptualize as something actually taught in a classroom. Often times we keep up a running conversation, resulting in a back-and-forth that improves whatever is being written, a kind of alley-oop shot on the subject. Unfortunately, sometimes it brings up ideas that would make other pieces unwieldy. Rather than gum up the works, here's an additional conversation you are free to ignore (since it's a chat log tarted up with icons).

I like that death threat post you got the other day. "Betcha those RAP skills of yours will really come in handy some day when some real American puts a bullet in your head!" I don't think they will. But it's unfair because the same could be said for most any skills.

Except perhaps permeability. Although I'm not sure permeability is really a skill.

I can tell you from experience it's not something you can learn. You're either permeable or you're not. I've seen some motherfuckers, real hard motherfuckers, trying to learn being permeable. Trying to—I don't know, man—like practice the transitory states of superability as between themselves and other objects. Some motherfuckers always trying to ice skate uphill.


I tried to write a thing about the Texas school board's nonsense being taught in practice, but it's really hard. It's just so incoherent. There is no coherent worldview here, just a reaction to someone else's coherent worldview. Not even a reaction—a series of disjointed reactions. It can't stand on its own terms because it has no terms.

I was thinking about it yesterday, and it seemed like any critical approach could either be an insane mishmash of different ideas that would come uncomfortably close to "ZOMG MONKEY FUCKING CHEESE!" or else a direct rebuttal to the bad ideas, but I think most people would understand already why those ideas are bad. One argument I always come close to making—but usually find a way not to—regards the whole conservative conception of "liberal history." Why if there is such a thing as liberal history can liberals never seem to agree on it? Apparently they've dominated academia since the 1930s, and yet they've spent all that time telling each other they're wrong and getting in career-defining spats over credibility. Conservatives have to invent a demonstrably nonexistent monolith to justify the creation of a counter-monolith. It immediately excuses that the conservative solution to solving an argument isn't to find the most reasonable voice in a group of many but never to talk to more than one person in the first place. Naturally only one person can be right—the first person to stumble upon speaking Universal Truths aloud—and it's everyone else's duty merely to agree with him. But because they insist on this inerrancy without challenge, history has to be sold, as opposed to what real historians do with it... accept some things as objective and negotiate the middle spaces between them. You totally accept something when you buy it. Negotiating the middle ground of ideas doesn't move political units. So this process of history becomes like asking McDonald's whether a McFlurry is good, accepting that it is, thus mandating that teaching kids of the McFlurry is indivisible from teaching them about Good. Everything is metonym. "How are you?" "McFlurry. You?" "Everything is McFlurry."

It's because they don't have an ideology.

Well, the single authority is important. Say what you will about the commercial interests of McD's, Burger King, Wendy's and Carl's Jr., but even a history created by a consortium of them can agree objectively on the existence of the burger. The burger can never be disproved. But relying on only a single authority permits it. The single authority can say, "Well, we've covered everything important already. The burger is yesterday. Let's move [product else]."

They only react piecemeal to what they think their enemies are doing. So the existence of the burger isn't a point until someone they're afraid of says it does or doesn't exist. They react to that, but they don't actually establish anything beyond their reaction, and they never try to integrate their disparate reactions into a cohesive view re: burger existence.

I think they'd be pretty consistent about the burger coming from a free market and also being something Jesus ate, but otherwise, yes, I do agree that most of their program seems to be "the New Deal and Great Society are bad and thus so are any ideas proffered by same." It's also always delighted me that the way to honor God, who established the laws of the universe, is to try to ignore as much of them as possible. It's like admiring the Mona Lisa because there's a woman in it or cheering for a football team because you're a grass enthusiast. God is unknowable, so everything might as well be. Walk out the front door and cross your fingers that gravity still works, whatever that is. The only immutable laws He's revealed are supply/demand and propulsion, with guns.

The really weird-off fundies have a "god's plan" thing going on, where they struggle to identify what freakishly specific things God has planned for them.

It's like the last two seasons of Battlestar Galactica.

Up to and including their job and mundane everyday shit. Stifling. They live their lives wearing a straitjacket made of stupid ideas. They believe the straitjacket is connected to a massive magical tether from heaven that pulls them along through life along a pre-determined path. The existence of burgers isn't really central to a hermeneutic of such staggering stupidity.

I like how we've gone on to discussing whether American conservatives would even postulate the existence of the burger, let alone be able to demonstrate it.

Ontology is irrelevant in a universe of active teleology. When God makes EVERYTHING go round on the most microscopic level by active will, then ontology becomes a sort of theological inquiry into pop psychology. Does God want there to have been a hamburger? What does it mean for God to want there to have been a hamburger? What does God think a hamburger ought to have been? And of course since they project so much, their idea of god's psychology is their own writ large. The inquiry becomes solipsistic.

1 comment:

  1. Then there is the question of if God makes everything and makes it all go round, then why disapprove of anything? It must be part of God's plan due to its very existence.


Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.