This Does Not Look Like You Care About These Adults

by John Holbo on February 22, 2018

A lot of conservatives are taking a ‘who will think of the children?’ approach to the aftermath of the most recent school shooting. As Erick Erickson writes: “I think putting them on television after a mass murder at their school is not caring about them. It is using them.” True, these kids have first-hand experience with guns that seems to qualify them to speak, but the truth is that they are too close to the issue. For them, this is their identity now. It’s existential. They aren’t prepared to debate policy, and the raw emotions behind their speech – even if they express themselves eloquently and apparently reasonably – are not conducive to level-headed policy debate. No one is allowed to question the authenticity of their experience with guns, so no one is allowed to suggest they are just wrong about policy.

Let it be so. In the aftermath of the next school shooting, no one for whom gun-ownership is a deeply-felt identity issue is allowed on TV. For their own good. [click to continue…]

Psychomyths and Thought Experiments

by John Holbo on February 22, 2018

I’m writing something about Ursula K. Le Guin’s most famous tale, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” (I’m sure you’ve read it.) I’m reading the author’s story notes, in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters [amazon]. She calls it a ‘psychomyth’. In her introduction she elucidates the neologism thusly: “more or less sur-realistic tales, which share with fantasy the quality of taking place outside any history, outside of time, in that region of the living mind which — without invoking any consideration of immortality — seems to be without spatial or temporal limits at all.”

So reads my Kindle edition. I suspect ‘sur-realistic’ is not what it says in the paper edition. But maybe Le Guin is literalizing the ‘beyond real’ sense, for some reason, by hyphenating, playfully? Will someone kindly walk over to their shelf, check the paper, and confirm or disconfirm the hyphen. Thank you. (Amazon ‘Look Inside’ is not settling it for me.)

While we are on the subject, and awaiting our test results, a few thoughts. [click to continue…]