Monday, April 10, 2017

Fourth Turning: Talking Bout My Generation

"You are all a lost generation."
(Vous etes tous une generation perdue)
--Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway

When I was a child in northern Virginia, I remember an old Black man, who carried a very worn Bible in his hands. He was never without that book and his hands were never still, thumbing through the pages, and he would say, "Everything you need to know, every question you can ever ask, is answered right here in this book."
Neil Howe, Prophet

That guy appeared in literature, movies, in various forms, but the mindset, peculiar as it seemed to me as a child, lives on today.  People, some people, want certainty, predictability, authority, and wouldn't it be nice if there were some central depository for omniscience?
As a child, it seemed to me a very bad thing, to think everything you'd ever want to know was in one book. I was wondering about where birds came from, where the stream which appeared in the gulley near my house went to in the summer, why Mr. Welch, next door, had a stroke, what a stroke was, why the sun always went down over the west side of the South Columbus Street and what made the leaves turn colors in the Fall, stuff like that. I also wondered who Joseph McCarthy was.  Mr. Welch, before he had his stroke, didn't seem to like Joseph McCarthy one bit. Mr. Welch would sit on his back porch, his face turning bright red, talking in great agitation to my father about Joseph McCarthy. My father didn't like McCarthy either. He blamed McCarthy for Mr. Welch's stroke, which again, I wondered about.
Obadiah Youngblood, Pink Lake

Justice Antonin Scalia struck me as a person like the old Black man with his Bible, a person with a book. He wanted a single source,  the original Constitution, to contain all the answers and this would simplify all judgments--you had only to look to the original text to know the answer.
We read that Steve Bannon has such a good book, which he has read and re read--"The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss.

I have not read it.
As I understand it, from Professor Google, it's about how human history occurs in cycles, which is to say, things cycle.
Well, that is profound.
And generations of human beings, exposed to large events, like war, economic collapse, famine, crop failure, are composed of individuals who are exposed to or insulated from these forces and react more or less as you'd expect people to react.

Anyway, pop history cum sociology sounds fun and apparently it has captivated Steve Bannon, and not in a good way.
The problem with a man obsessed with a book is what that says about that man.
People brought up Catholic, in the church, sometimes take this route, but this can be seen in Southern Baptists and people subjected to indoctrination in any religious setting before age 6.
The problem is, these people are often looking for a Truth.
And they tend to be angry people. Not sure why these two things are connected. It's a syndrome, things which occur together without a clear mechanism. Maybe, they are just angry other people refuse to see the Truth which appears so clear to them.  I don't know.
I can live without knowing.

But Bannon now finds himself on the receiving end of a miracle: Trump won. And he must feel himself to be a prophet.
So we have radical Islamists in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. And we have a radical recovering Catholic in the White House.
This should be fun to watch.

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