Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Wisdom from Dave

Quoth Dave: Extremes of opinion (informed, researched or otherwise) to my mind are frequently associated with extremes of emotional attachment to those opinions. As someone given to unreasonable behavioural modes in situations of extreme emotion, my inclination is towards the reserved end of the spectrum wherever possible. If you don't get involved in an issue, you can't get angry about it.

This is a very sensible comment- the motivation for Moderation may well be something far nobler than the desire to appear Solomonically wise and even-handed without putting any intellectual effort in, namely, the socially responsible desire not to kick somebody's head in. The principle of Moderation is obviously an easy way to achieve emotional distance from stressful issues, especially ones you don't have a particularly desire to think about anyway. I suppose I am happy with Moderation as long as it is a politically-correct cloak over one's real extremist opinions, and does not conceal a mere absence of thought. My habitual method for maintaining emotional distance from arguments that might unsettle me is the somewhat more entertaining Taking the Piss method, e.g.: If I fell into the middle of an online argument between fanatical Zionists and hard-core Palestinian rejectionists, I would do my best to argue- drawing on my meager knowledge of the Book of Mormon- that God had actually promised their land to the Arapaho Indian Nation. I was tempted to do something just like this when I found the Nagorno-Karabakh flame wars on Wikipedia.

Furthermore, quoth Dave, speaking of the Buffster: The oddly upbeat finale does raise an interesting question: for the first time in 7 years (not counting her brief flirtation with lucidity in the episode where the Truth is Revealed) Buffy is happy - or at least satisfied - her issues are resolved and her angsty "only I can save the world" mission is no longer hers alone. Does this utterly out-of-context end to the foundations of her fantasy existence point to a full recovery from her coma? I'd like to think so.

So would I- there is a beautiful symmetry in how Buffy first creates Sunnydale as a 'safe' place to escape from her stressful experience in Los Angeles. It very rapidly became a place that was not safe at all (well before the end of the first episode), but she was unable pull herself away from it; in the end, it is only when it is destroyed that she can be sane again.


Dr. Clam said...

I meant to say further that in the relatively phlegmatic, reserved, rationalising, non-confrontational, not-overly-given-to-exuberant displays-of-public-affection, and unlikely-to-engage-in-the-fish-slapping-dance society of the Anglosphere, we must take particularly care not to be seduced into Moderation for irrational emotional reasons. It is a vice that our culture is particularly susceptible to.

Dave said...

I'm far more likely to be seduced into Moderation for irresponsible laziness reasons, but I agree in principle.

And I wanted to be clear that I am, at moments of impetuosity or sleep deprivation, prepared to loudly rant about issues upon which I have formed an extreme opinion (for example, that the current US president is at least an idiot and at worst a corrupt and self serving despot willing to say or do anything to maintain his grip on power).

But that would never happen, because I am So Very Moderate.

Dave said...

By the way - have you watched "Firefly"? It's a better show than Buffy (in many ways), hence its early cancellation. You should see it if you can.