Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Aside on Later Examples ~ Storytelling 2

Succeeding Storytelling.

I. First Glances & Princesses

When you first meet a person, you don’t know everything about them, nor even their employment, family situation, racial background, education, political outlook, sexuality or favorite bands.

The pizza delivery guy is a trust fund baby getting a couple weeks of “real world experience” at the behest of his father.

The stressed single mom dragging four kids through the checkout line during the after-work rush, while she complains about their father for “never being there,” is actually upset because their father is on the second-story deck grilling vegetarian wraps, which absolutely make her gag unless they at least have chicken in them, and “what do you mean, Roberta didn’t pick any up this week? What kind does she usually get? Tommy, do you know? Tommy?”

The really brown guy doing yardwork in Goodwill clothes got way too much sun as a kid and doesn’t want to ruin his good shirts, the guy heading into the local Democratic meeting is trying to hit on the hottie volunteer coordinator, and the flamboyant guy in the pink tights is being discreetly filmed for his friend’s Youtube as he pretends to have mishaps shopping for eyeliner. Tomorrow, he’ll have ten thousand views.

Unlikely “setup” situations like the above create the justifications for a lot of politically correct bullshit. These amplified scenarios have a far more sensible use as examples of how reading situations simplistically can lead to errors. At a subtler level, the same type of critical evaluation, instead of being the buildup to a banal, silly point about non-discrimination, affects “the real world.” The casual misassumption that someone is a single mom can be made without a subsequent slur between observing friends—it can just be a mistake inside the head of the viewer, one of millions such made a day with no apparent consequences. Corporate diversity training infantilizes the traditional errors of first-impressional disapprobation, deliberately simplifying the already simplistic to a point where the more intelligent are wont to discard the critique entirely, mimicking the necessary motions only when visibly supervised. The lack of tangible consequences to befall most erroneous observation is the reason this saturation of false self-analysis succeeds in drowning out the real stuff; once the bathwater is gone, so, too, is the baby, ergo a nation of proudly guilty post-racial tablet dwellers who scathe an all-male room at the sound of the bell, but who flick past seventy diverse casts of models a day without raising an eyebrow.

As Nabokov wrote half a century ago:
[T]he rules of those American ads where schoolchildren are pictured in a subtle ratio of races, with one--only one, but as cute as they make them--chocolate-colored round-eyed little lad, almost in the very middle of the front row.

More simply put, Americans have been congratulated for learning to disapprove of certain kinds of first impressions, and told that this is critical thinking. Because they believe they’re thinking critically at those times, they have no need of any more critical thinking. The lesson “Analyze situations critically, in order to not be caught in error by a hasty first impression” was never actually taught; the real lesson was, “Demand a diverse cast in your favorite show, because to do so means you have analyzed the situation critically.”

God knows, it’s hard enough to get a sitcom or buddy movie to have more than two non-criminal black characters, which will keep us busy in the fixing over the next thirty years. The token black was already a fixture in Lolita’s era, but even in 2013, bellweather Disney’s princess product line has replaced ethnically-diverse Jasmine in the group-princess shots with the ethnically-diverse African-American princess from The Princess and the Frog. One non-white Princess is all they need, after all—though it’s independently funny that someone forgot to let the Disney idiots know that their Persian-derived Jasmine was, technically, a Caucasian, and thus not as genetically diverse as they'd been believing for years before they finally permitted the animation of a brown-hued princess.

The nationwide corporate & academic diversity programs would, if honest, have immediately shuffled a lot more than a potentially half-black president into an 8 year term decades after the first “no means no” video; it will take them a generation before they can make the Congressional ratios balance using their own carefully bred namesakes.

II. Hidden Truths

In the often-private backlash against the institutional demands of political correctness, the ability to criticize remains dampened. Many of those smart enough to realize they were being hypocritically manipulated by corporate PC neglected, in their resistance, some of their deep reading ability, because they had come to associate “critical analysis” with “an eye for diversity” and the like. Say a great chef was captured by a great murderer, and forced to watch as the murderer carefully tortured, then butchered, his victims--later, when the chef chops vegetables, it may make him shudder, even if he reminds himself constantly that a celery is not a femur.

The “Think really hard about first impressions” trope from above is of vast importance for character-building, worldbuilding, and other aspects of narrative composition, as well as their inverses, namely, experiencing someone else’s narrative and taking it apart. Its repeated public slandering over the course of the modern and postmodern eras, by various technopolitical and industrial fugues (including nationalism and political correctness) has been essential to building the highly advanced narratives of futility, sickness, and despair that we now take for granted in considering world affairs. Those of us who have figured out that an inbred cocktail of rich thieves are controlling the world’s governments face the problem (if we care to think about it) that almost everyone else is lulled into dumb belief in illusions otherwise. That dumb belief is acceptance of a certain story. And it’s a really bad, really dumb, really obvious story; their failure is a failure, as said before, of deep reading.

The danger that confronts us in studying storybuilding is that we may see the learning process as akin to the faux-criticalism of the diversity wave, merely because it emphasizes looking deeper than what might be called "first impressions," and therefore reject it. As we move into narratives, it behooves us to remember that examples exemplify for a reason. Easy demonstrations illuminate principles which, when the microscope is turned off, have real-world utility. For many moderners, simple examples can look like a trap: they look like yet another corporate retreat; a setup; a mind-deadening ruse. What made the false critical thinking of much recent popular policy so useful to elites is that it caused many intelligent people to build up a defensive reaction to actual learning, and to treat all examples as patronizing, because so many years of mandatory education had been designed to be patronizing.

What will set the useful examples apart from the bad ones is the same thing that will set good stories apart from bad. The ability to carry a small, simple concept to its logical extreme, accresco ad absurdum, destroys PC blather and Twilight alike, while only foreshadowing the beauty of something that is beautiful. Imperfections in composition, reduced or amplified as needed, reveal errant strains where they stand.

Continued in Part 3.

2 comments:

  1. I do oppose learning - having been through so many status quo apologizing policy/political economy books, I subconsciously refuse to believe that there authors that can say something truly useful about policy or bureaucracy, so I end up reading sloppily even things that actually deserve a deeper look.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do oppose learning - having been through so many status quo apologizing policy/political economy books, I subconsciously refuse to believe that there authors that can say something truly useful about policy or bureaucracy, so I end up reading sloppily even things that actually deserve a deeper look.

    ReplyDelete