This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Rediscovering communication

“We do not talk – we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.”[1]

Those are the words of Henry Miller, a man who loved humanity more than most, even if he could never find a comfortable place within it. He was describing his return back to the United States from Paris, lamenting the lack of real communication among his countrymen.

And is this not what it feels like, whenever we try to talk to some new person we meet about an idea that is important to us? Everything that comes up is seamlessly translated into another language on the fly, the language of headlines and talking points. Into the language of propaganda.

I’d like to talk about the difficulties involved with healthcare, for example, without the person opposite me regurgitating the latest headline about Obamacare. I’d like to talk about family life, or the difficulty faced by either gender in the modern world, without things devolving directly into feminist talking points or, on the other hand, anti-feminist talking points.

The range of human discourse has been reduced to its narrowest limits in America, because everything winds up politicized. It is not addressed as it stands, or in the human context in which we actually find it, but in the form of a political platform. I cannot talk to Democrats without them drawing the conclusion almost immediately that I am a Republican, and I cannot talk to Republicans without them assuming that I am a liberal-Democrat (why Republicans insist on using this compound term, I do not know). I am neither and I would truly love to talk to someone without having to spend most of the conversation performing mental gymnastics so as to avoid being pigeon-holed into some category that does not in any way fit my actual point of view. I know quite a few people who feel the same.

Election culture destroys real conversation by politicizing everything in its path. With that being the case, it’s no wonder no one wants to talk to each other. The abolition of this stifling culture would go a long way toward mutual understanding. Until then, we’ll just keep bludgeoning away.

[1] Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

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