Amongst the Addled Addicts

“The modern cannot be evangelized; he is incapable of such a thing, at least incapable under his own power.”

— Proph, “The Modern Mind Cannot Be Evangelized,” The Orthosphere, 21st August, 2013.

Recently, I found myself writing, “your typical liberal is connotation addled,” and indeed he is. But, moreover, he is a connotation addict. He cannot attend to the denotation of a thing until he has fully given himself over to its connotation. In fact, its denotation scarcely holds any interest for him at all, so consumed is he with the exciting emotional surges brought about by the other.

How should one approach the liberal addict? One can hardly reason with an addict about their addiction. It’s the drug that talks, and the drug is less than disinterested.

An example: During a Facebook discussion of a talk by Columbia University’s Gayatri Spivak — a professor of literary studies, post-colonialism, or some such — at the Gramsci Monument in the Bronx, New York, a commenter chided her fellows for their use of the bland and joyless phrase, “non-intellectual civilians”. It was, she went on to state, suggestive of the notion that non-intellectuals are not intellectual. Which is of course wrong — which is to say, it suggests a sort of negative judgement against those who are not intellectuals, and therefore constitutes a discriminatory act on the part of the utterer, whose unknowing victims are the poor and needy ordinary folk, who, while not intellectuals, are nevertheless quite intellectual when it comes down to it.

Perhaps the phrase could be modified, to the satisfaction of our commenter — “intellectual non-intellectual civilians”? “neither intellectual nor non-intellectual civilians”? — perhaps (more likely), there is nothing that could achieve such ends. Whatever the case, this minute parsing of even the most toothless and dreary language for hostile intent occurred during a conversation between committed left-liberals. Trying to argue for some reactionary truth with such militant policers of discourse, people who are so hungry for negative connotation that hunt for it everywhere, is an all but impossible task. Better to take up an easier hobby, like calculus on manifolds, or solving the mind-body problem, than waste too much of one’s life on right-wing political activism.

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