A Note on Some Shockingly Incoherent Babble from Paul Ryan
Recently, Mitt Romney’s new VP candidate, Paul Ryan, accused President Obama of destroying Wisconsin jobs…at auto plants that closed in the last days of the Bush administration!
In other words, even more so than was the case in the Republican campaigns of 2000, 2004, and 2008, there is no basic logic, coherence or decency in what the Republicans are saying, and their lack of commitment to truth is bringing what CS Lewis called “the curse of Babel” on them. They are babbling incoherent nonsense like Lewis’ “Director” in his post Joy Davidman novel “That Hideous Strength”, the head of a wicked research institution that’s taking over postwar Britain, who gives a talk that becomes nonsense in this strangely mature and, for CS Lewis, complex novel.
The Democrats are bad. Obama is a war criminal because that is the logic of the American state, it’s what it’s become…and Eisenhower warned us about this. But the Republicans are worse.
OK. Habermas (a German philosopher, so there) believes that we use language two ways.
We use language first of all to get what we want. In a universal climate of competition and mistrust, we wind up, like Willy Loman, “babbling in a toilet”, or, like Paul Ryan, babbling from a podium.
Loman’s salesman’s talk has no traction when he tries in Arthur Miller’s play to save his job from downsizing by the son of Loman’s mentor. Ryan’s salesman’s talk has traction but is equally nonsensical; George Bush’s economic policies destroyed the Kenosha and Janesville auto plants as a matter of simple temporal logic! Obama wasn’t President in late 2008, he was President-elect!
I am sitting in a McDonald’s in the City of Sadness, the poor district of Tin Shue Wai in Hong Kong. Some kids are noisily babbling in Cantonese and I do not know Cantonese, but it doesn’t bother me in the way Paul Ryan’s lies bother me. They are kind of refreshing since most Chinese kids just aren’t as rowdy as American kids. I like seeing rowdy kids.
As Sheldon Levene in a production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross in 2010, I enacted someone using words to try to get what he wants: “Jane, Jane, Jane, the thing is, the Glengarry leads, you’re sending Roma out. She’s fine. We know what she is. She’s fine. But, listen to me, you need to send, no listen, a seasoned man out…”.
The empty suit, in other words. Look at Paul Ryan’s eyes. He looks like the mass murderer of the week which has been one of the most awful features of what appears from where I sit to be a long hot summer in America.
But we also use language, according to my homeboy Habermas, in groups to find the truth; Habermas regards truth as shared in all cases. If it’s your private secret, it is not knowledge and therefore not truth. Or as hero computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra (a computer programmer who resembled Adorno) said, “when we attended University we thought only Knowledge matters: but at Mathematica Inc. [a fictional corporation invented by Dijkstra to mock what he thought the pernicious CEO class] we know that only Secrets matter.”
But Habermas also believes that the truth-finding aspects of language can be destroyed, in a cancerous fashion (interestingly enough) when a critical mass of people, up to and including politicians (which should probably be rephrased as “down to and including”) use language exclusively in the first sense, to get what the fuck they want…and under the sign of Ayn Rand, the rest of us are forced to do likewise, babbling in a toilet at the end of our lives.
But the very fact that what I’ve written makes sense means that this ain’t all she wrote. God, those kids are a noisy bunch. But Id rather hear them than Paul Ryan.