Essential for anyone in the arts, in academia, anywhere one might get attacked for not being politically correct. Some areas of life and work are more vulnerable than others. Have read on internet news that Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt was hounded out of his position at a British University. He has gone to Japan with his wife — she was fired too, apparently, for being his wife. This is dumbfounding. What is needed at the top of this post is a poster from the Cultural Revolution, about 1966, in China, with Mao marching along a country road surrounded by eagerly grinning peasants and workers. I found one. I can’t bear to put it up, it is so depressing.
The peasants and workers are barely human. Their eyes are fixed on Mao with a maniacal intensity. It’s not depressing, it’s frightening.
One certainly needs discussion and advice in this matter. And there is more and more of it. Sir Tim didn’t fight back and made the mistake of apologizing. So there you go.
I’ll make a guess — a wild speculation. Let us say that during the American Civil War ( since I am somewhat acquainted with newspaper headlines from the time) that the opinions carried were logical arguments, or attempts at logical arguments; for and against slavery (!?) or states rights vs. centralization of power in federal hands etc. etc. Columns and columns of print full of arguments.
Then in about 1917, Lenin discovered that logical arguments are boring and what was needed was propaganda with emotional content. You need movies and television for this, of course, a beautiful perilous gift. So then it was on into the new century with flaming Nazi propaganda, heroic figures ascending into political heaven bearing swastikas etc., and show trials in the USSR, social shaming. Which led to the demise of the shamee.
That’s a big change. It has been reflected in many science-fiction scenarios. The screaming, chanting crowds attacking an enemy of the people and so on. A big change.
A new method, a vast change, a burnt century, the camera’s eye fixed, and public communication not communication at all, or even the civil invitation to join in logical arguments but an incessant coarse blaming and urging.
From The Letter of Marque: the balloon ride. This was what Nadia and James were speaking about on the rooftop, Diana’s diamond; Maturin fell out of a tower and was gravely inured and dreams or hallucinates about the balloon ride which Diana promised him;
…and now they were into the pure upper air with that strangely familiar dark blue above and on either hand unless he looked over the edge of the car and down to the fantastic convolutions and the slowly changing geography of the cloud-world below…and he when looked across at Diana the perfection of her cheek fairly caught his breath…but now there was this evil balloon again and now he was living with time in the sense of duration once more, for he knew with dreadful certainty they had been rising for hours on end, that they were now rising faster still. And as they soared toward this absolute purity of sky its imminent threat, half-perceived at first, filled him with a horror beyond anything he had known. Diana was wearing her green coat and she had turned up the collar for now its red underneath made a shocking contrast with the extreme pallor of her face, the pinched white of her nose and the frosted blue of her lips. She held her head down, bowed over her lap, where her hands, loosely clasped, held the diamond, very like a sliver of this brilliant sky itself.
She was breathing still, but only just, as they floated away always higher and into even more rarefied air…her senses were going, going, her head drooped forward, the diamond fell, and he started up crying ‘No, no, no,’ in an extremity of passionate refusal…
The perilous, poisonous gift.