Our enlightened president recently noted that if we had fewer carona virus tests there would be fewer cases. Now we know (he has told us) he is the smartest man on the planet, but this is close to the stupidity he evidenced when he recommended that we drink Clorox.

The notion that if we don’t test there will be fewer cases rests on the absurd assumption that if we don’t see it then it isn’t there. I honestly think this man actually believes this. He is nothing if not sincere.

But this is delusional. There are facts and there are realities and no amount of strong belief can change those things. I cannot fly unassisted and I will not live forever. I don’t want to believe these things, but that doesn’t alter the facts.

I don’t want to join the parade of president-haters. It’s too exhausting and not very productive. Life is too short and attention to what the man is doing on a daily basis is certain to shorten my life which is already approaching its end. But I do believe that as a trained philosopher I have a responsibility to point out that what we want to be the case is rarely, if ever, what is the case. It’s an epistemological truth: facts exist independent of thought. And truth is a correspondence between what we believe and what is the case, independent of us. As much as I want the virus to be over I still realize that it is still killing people and as an old fart with a disease I am smack in the middle of the target demographic (as they say).

This is why I get so worked up when I see the delusional people going about their business as though the virus is over. Business demands that sports return as soon as possible, so the various billionaires who own the professional sports teams fall all over themselves trying to make it happen — as do college presidents. The colleges are even considering going ahead with collegiate football even if there are no students in the stands. Billions of dollars are at stake. There is even talk about holding the motorcycle rallies in Sturgis, South Dakota again this Summer because it is a celebratory year. So thousands of folks from around the country will gather there for a few days of fun and fames and then leave and take away with them hundreds of cases of the virus they can spread back home.

What we have here is a failure to communicate, as Strother Martin once said. There are a great many people out there who simply refuse to believe what they are told — even by experts with no axe to grind. So we open things up and express our surprise that folks are getting sick again. The numbers rise and we ignore the facts because we don’t want to believe them.

I have said it before, many times, and I will say it again. America is living in the Age of Entitlement when children are told they are terrific even when their work simply doesn’t measure up and all are supposed to succeed even though this empties the word of all meaning: when all succeed, none succeed. Thus do we refuse to recognize true excellence when it stands before us. Since they were very young the children of this country have been told they can walk on water by their parents and teachers. They grow up and, being unused to anyone saying “no,” they don’t hear the word — or see the writing on the wall. They cannot walk on water. Sorry about that.

Whether we like it or not, this virus has not gone away. It still sickens and kills and we need to remind ourselves that what we want to be the case may not be the case at all. In a word: for the first time in our lives, we may have to do something don’t want to do.

And we are demonstrating that we can’t handle that message very well. This does not bode well.




13 thoughts on “Purblind

  1. Well said, Hugh! Despite Trump’s Lies and bluster in Tulsa, I was heartened to see so many vacant seats vacant in the upper deck of that arena. I fervently hope that means that Trump’s base is shrinking.

  2. Dr. Curtler,

    “Die Welt ist alles was der Fall ist.”

    I believe I read that some place.,,

    Regards, respects, and best wished.

    Jerry Stark

  3. Very well said, my friend. We are seeing this more and more … people deciding that the danger is past, despite the warnings of scientists and medical experts, and going about their lives just as they were a year ago … or trying to. And then, becoming enraged when they are denied a seat on a plane because they refuse to wear a mask, or because their favourite stores are not yet open for business. There is a sense of entitlement in this nation today, and I’ve come to believe that you are right … we have raised our children in such a way that they believe they are somehow invincible, that their wishes must be met, their convenience is of the utmost importance to us all. Individualism run amok. Great post, my friend. Take good care of you!

  4. Epistemological truths are one thing, existential truths are quite another. Another pair of philosopher / poet / minstrels reminded this nation sixty five years ago that when it comes to the utterances of most of our fellow man, the vast majority are, unfortunately, “All lies and jest. Still, a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.” This truth too, apparently bears incessant repeating. And that, I think, is why Jesus warns the human animal in all of us, in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” What you are addressing Dr. Curtler, is in part, the unchecked spread of misplaced empathy as a cultural disease. Telling children they are wonderful always, after the age of five, does make them feel better – but it does not teach them to survive or to care for themselves or to recognize real danger. Which, ultimately, leaves fewer members of our species capable of caring for the rest of an increasingly erratic and dependent and idiotic herd.
    Still, as far as human existence goes, chances are you won’t die of bubonic plague or be murdered over a scrap of bread. So there’s that. I just spent my twelfth straight forty hour week serving thousands of delusional and reckless members of the Living Human Community during this pandemic – selling them alcohol and scratch tickets and chocolate and cleaning their public rest rooms in a rural convenience store for just over $10 an hour. That has been my last three months.
    Aeschylus reminds us all in Agamemnon, that, “From the gods who sit in grandeur grace comes somehow violent.” I can tell you from experience that “grace” or “gratitude” emanates refined from such travesties. I know I was joyous to end my work week tonight, and to be alive to hear the birds singing after the rain. And I know that when I take a two week vacation alone later this summer, to parts of rural South Dakota so remote that entire counties are untouched by this virus, that I will then too be grateful.
    None of this aids the young in the deficiencies they inherited from negligent parents. But, if you must, take solace in knowing that at least this student listened to what you said and meant, Dr. Curtler. And still does. And at the end of the day, or one’s life, in the parlance of our times, “That’s not nothing.” Indeed. Not bad for the descendants of a bunch of chimps who decided to ditch the trees for the savanna some 250,000 years ago. Keep it up, Hugh. Let the bastards pry the keyboard from your still warm hands just before they put you in the pine box. There are far worse ways to go than with eyes and mouth wide open. Of this at least, I am certain. After all, I had good teachers.

      • You are welcome, and count on it. I’m over educated of rural Irish stock, complete with a One Eyed Irish Mother with an actual glass eye – who worked at a radiator factory for twenty years without complaint because, “It was easier than working for my Dad on the farm. At least at the factory I got paid.” Her father, my grandfather, was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, hand delivered by his own father. As an adult, he broke several ribs while attempting to ride a buffalo, broke and set his own nose three times, stabbed himself through the calf with a pitchfork and refused medical treatment, and punched a horse in the neck and dropped the horse. But he also managed to acquire a 2,000 acre farm – father six children, twelve grandchildren, and twenty great grandchildren – and lived to see them all flourish. As such, “spitting into the wind” seems to be my genetic and cultural legacy. It is worth noting that wówidake, or “fortitude” is a Dakȟóta / Lakȟóta virtue that is taught to the young. The image used to convey the personification of fortitude is that of a herd of buffalo walking directly into and through a blizzard. As far as culturally prescient symbols go, that one seems incredibly apt, and instructive. I know it has helped guide me true through the maelstrom of cultural hogwash and bullspit that passes for discourse. The best advice I ever got from said grandfather, in regards to fear of human others, was the rhetorical question, “Can they f—ing eat you?” If the answer be no, and the result of said interaction no more fatal or dangerous, than logic dictates plodding forward deliberately however incrementally, painfully, and unsatisfying. Herds of diligent buffalo in a blizzard as the joyous prairie Buddha version of Sisyphus. The land and life defeat some and ennoble others. It is not only ecological limits or a lack of posh amenities that keep my home state of South Dakota sparsely population. Quite frankly, “some folks can’t hack it here.” But for the ones that do, and stay, and learn to read and understand as well as work and curse – the protection afforded by the land as God made it against the influx of misguided and ill prepared human others makes Fort Knox look quaint by comparison. And for that too, I am grateful. If each of the fifty states had kept its human population at less than 1,000,000 souls a piece, or even 2,000,000 – and were therefore forced by necessity to interact and empathize and rely upon their human brethren – much of our common ills would not be so dire. The land has limits. So to does our human capacity for trust and empathy. Modernity violates all of them without pause and with dehumanizing regularity. The drop and the ocean. The ocean and the drop.

  5. Hugh, not knowing the danger means you won’t alter the course. Yet, this kind of thinking is not new to the president, as he has pled ignorance on a number of fronts. He did not know he cut back on the pandemic planning team. He did not know his changes pulled an epidemiologist from the CDC out of China last summer.

    What bothers me is what he did know and went ahead anyway. He violated his followers trust by insisting on a pep rally in the middle of pandemic risking their health and lives. He knew of the risk of the pandemic back in January, but rather than be presidential and forewarn and ask folks to plan ahead, he resorted to modus operandi and misinvast formed us calling it a hoax as late as the night of previous pep rally on February 28, 2020.

    Then, there is the scary part which is the difference between what he brags he knows and what he actually knows. Our first clue should have been when he rolled out a travel ban without vetting it with anyone or telling people who needed to know before hand. It was so horribly done, it was pulled in two days. This is Business 101 and he badly flunked.


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