There is a newish metaphor in our culture, appropriated from a movie which is now old enough to drink alcohol, legally, in the US.
In a world where a dominant power has taken hold, there is need for a resistance. Of course, it’s technically possible to live in such a world and not see, or perhaps not agree, that such a resistance is necessary. Also, depending on your role in such a world, you might be the rational voice against radical insanity or you could be a “literal NAZI”.
Also, we may disagree about which power has taken hold. And we may both be…right? We may all have solid arguments, at least. The truth is further away.
Such are the interesting times in which we live.
Ok, so I’m obviously making a reference to The Matrix, and the newish metaphor is red-pilling, but what’s my point?
Well, that’s complicated. Which means it’s too long for even a tweet thread. Which means I’m totes using antiquated technology here to influence anyone. I gave up influencing anyone years ago, so this is mostly for me, the few who still bother reading, and perhaps for a future that might survive this historical period (and given last night’s presidential debate, the likelihood of “history” surviving the present is decomposing).
Let’s start here. I have not been red-pilled.
In fact, I have watched the various red-pilling of people over the last several years with a combination of curiosity, horror, and amusment. It’s not that they are completely wrong, it’s that they have fallen for one of the most common human failings; binary thinking. And despite what Eve Sedgwick might have you think, the concept of binary thinking is not a creation of recent history, related to homosexual discrimination. In fact, binary thinking might be one of the fundamental physiological constructs of how we perceive the world.
Those who have been red-pilled are, in many cases, people who fail to understand that because one side makes a mistake, it doesn’t mean its antithesis is right. Haven’t y’all read your Hegel? Or even Marx, for that matter?
So, I started thinking. What if, instead of red-pilling, I were to start talking about “purple-pilling”? But that’s crass, and still folds into our analysis the problematic 2-party system of intellectual thought. OK, so “black-pilling”? Well, that opens up way too many cans of worms, so no. White-pilling is right out.
And then it came to me; fuck all the pills. Stop taking fucking pills. Stop adhering to parties, ideologies, and tribes. Because all that happens is that we end up pilloring each other. And that leaves us, metaphorically of course, bloody red.
I’ve been reading about things like Critical Race Theory. I’ve been reading about the rise of Christian Nationalism with the Trump administration. I’ve been re-reading Kendi’s How to be and Anti-Racist. I’ve also been reading science fiction, but that falls outside of this, so nevermind. I have too many thoughts, conflicting thoughts, and I have no answers.
I’ve been listening. But perhaps the problem is that I have been listening to the wrong people? But, again, which are the wrong people?
If I were to travel to the future (and this is where I pull in my sci-fi reading) and seek out which of the cultural meta-narratives won, would that help me resolve my dilemma about truth?
Oh, wait, I missed a step. I still think that truth is a thing which is real. I’m not sure it’s attainable, but I still think it’s real, so perhaps I’m biased by the fact that I’m still attached to a “Western” and “Colonial” meta-narrative of objective (I would call it inter-subjective) scientific truth. It’s, of course, probabilistic and not absolute, but it’s still truthy science. #RealTruthScienceBitches
Ok, so if I traveled to the future I would probably be able to determine who “won” the culture wars, but just like a person who traveled from, say, 100AD to 1200 AD, the fact that Christianity (or some severely altered version of it) “won” wouldn’t address the truthfulness of it as a philosophical position.
What I’m saying is that I still care about truth, and I’m not convinced that any of us, on the various sides of the culture wars, have it. And I’m afraid that we are setting aside, for cynical reasons, the methodologies we use to differentiate between truth and not-truth.
And I think that we all need to step back from ourselves and ask whether 1) we care and 2) if we cared it would matter in this media environment.
And that’s why I’m concerned