Monday, October 15, 2007

Gothic literature and reality

I just want to steer you to a short but insightful piece by Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield called "Gothic America". Here's a sample:

Gothic literature was a response to the prevailing Enlightenment Rationalist principles upon which our country was founded. ER assumed not only that “all men are created equal”, but that this is a reasonable and agreeable, rational observation. Further, our Founding Fathers separated church and state because kings rule by divine right, which was considered not rational. If I say, for example, that God told me to fully fund health insurance for everyone in the country, you’d be hard pressed to argue rationally against my conviction. So we keep the worlds separate; secularism for the government, and religion on our private time.

Gothic writers saw a problem with that: they, being some of the first psychological writers, assumed that humans are composed of two sides: rational and irrational, secular and religious, scientific and superstitious. Further, they declared that the more one tries to run away from one’s ‘other side’, the more one runs into it-what Freud later called the “Return of the repressed”.

So gothic explains not only Larry Craig but the war in Iraq. For the former, it says that when one condemns gays, one will (in some form) produce the very gayness in oneself that one is trying to flee via condemnation. On a national level, call other people “terrorists” and deny that you are a terrorist (in some form), and produce the very terrorism you are trying to eradicate. In short, as Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” Or, as (Bill) Clinton said, there is no longer an us and a them, there is just an us.

Go read the article for the conclusion. It won't take but a minute. And it's good.

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