Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wanderers 2009.10.13

Querying Roger

Tonight's meeting is really well attended. We're double deep around the table on two sides. The topic: American myths. Our presenter: Roger Paget, political economist, and Asianist.

The notion of "myth" is frequently confused with the notion of "falsehood" i.e. to tell myths is to tell lies. Other namespaces honor myth-making a lot more, take a more sophisticated view.

Paget's thesis is the USA system is premised on participants staying involved in debates, conversations. To kill public debate is to kill the system. Not all systems are like that.

Keeping channels open is important.

Not teaching civics in school of course strips people of their ability to participate effectively -- not that civics was ever taught especially intelligently, hence our current slumdog idiocracy (editorializing here).

The Marshall Plan and the Vietnam War were both liberal notions lets remember. JFK made hawkish speeches that make Dick Cheney's seem leftish. Liberalism and LAWCAP have worked hand in hand.

The mega-myth of many USAers is a kind of manifest destiny (goes back to the Romans, characteristic of empires) -- not unlike the Israelis though of course on a grander scale (North America is much bigger).

However, to every myth there's at least one counter-myth, no less false or true necessarily. Paget focuses on antimonies, unities of opposites, what the Lakota call "heyokah" (he didn't use that word -- my spin).

There's a bridge to Jungian literature here, but we're mostly not invoking archetypes too directly, keeping the talk more political.

As the owner of Grunch.net (a domain name), I am of course familiar with mythological thinking. Karen Armstrong has been another teacher on this topic.

I was pleased to encounter Nirel across the table, glad she got to meet Lindsey. She's looking at India and Paris as her next great adventures, with her adult children in tow. Wow.

Dr. Tag is also here, asking good questions.

Measures of the quality of life have become rather warped by economics. Paget thinks of himself as a patriot, former special forces etc.

There's a lot of interesting pronoun use in this room, as usual. Humans deploy "our" and "we" in interesting ways, to manifest their allegiances --- thinking back to Sean's observations on his Wittgenstein list.

That's an identity building activity, the project of "ego", not just a political one.

Terry showed up at the conclusion of our meeting, hoping we'd buy season tickets. My sponsors haven't seen fit to budget for that, but it's not too late for some earmarks maybe.