nolongerinbetween

Posts Tagged ‘truth

In Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard drama we find the full range of domestic violence (physical / non-physical, verbal / non-verbal) one can expect in a tumultuous, passionate, volatile marriage like theirs. From both sides. We may never know the complete truth of the abuse they inflicted on one another, but one thing is certain: she is not the victim she portrays herself to be. Writing an article to speak up against domestic violence and turning herself into a public figure representing domestic abuse, while being an abuser as well, was a blunder and a bad move. I love Johnny Depp and he seems to be a genuine kind of guy, a real sweetheart, but I also know how easily someone can project a different edulcorated image about themselves, divorced from their real self, so in marital disputes it’s somehow wiser to sit on the fence and remain neutral, unless you are privy to everything that was going on between the two.

However, what can easily sway me against her, if I were to take sides, is one particular kind of abuse I talked about in my blog before (here and here), one that permeates any human interaction and in which she seems to be particularly masterful: inferential abuse. I described at length this kind of abuse and the people who causes it. They are epistemic walls. Bricks. Concrete. No logic and argument can permeate them. Teflon people. Nothing sticks, no matter how sound, simple and obvious your argument is. You just cannot corner them and make them concede territory, let alone admit defeat. They will dodge your questions, move the goalposts continuously, change the meaning and usage of words, take their words back, flip back and forth, deflect, lie, double down, gaslight, deny, flip-flop, project, strawman you. You cannot win and the problem you face when you come across someone so dishonest intellectually is that you are powerless and can do shit about it. It’s rage inducing and maddening. The only thing you can do is just to disengage yourself from future interactions with them or to expose them to a third party, to an audience. The latter is something that Camilla was able to do, as a lawyer, given the circumstances of a public trial. But it’s not something we can all easily pull off and I pity Johnny Depp for all these years of epistemic abuse and mental torment where she would distort reality, lie blatantly, change semantics on a whim to accommodate her views and break any rule of reasoning with impunity. Her obvious lie and unwillingness to admit such a simple truth when cornered into a tight spot (i.e. she did not donate the money she had pledged, period) is telling for what the poor guy had to go through over the years.

As base animals we act out and express our cruelty through physical violence. But as superior animals, endowed with language, we verbalise our cruelty and manifest our vile nature through language. Either overtly by verbal abusing our peers or covertly by engaging in fallacious reasoning and intellectual dishonesty. The violence that comes through language and from slaughtering truth and honesty in our mundane interactions, when our misguided pride gets in the way, is no less damaging and heart-breaking than physical violence. God knows how battered and bruised I am left after arguing with big-headed idiots. I’d rather take a punch than their doolally reasoning.

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At the first sign of intellectual dishonesty when talking to someone just run. Run like your life depends on it. I learned this lesson the hard way, after allowing too many people to push my buttons and drive me insane with their disingenuity. No more. The age of martyrdom is over. If you think they actually lack depth not honesty, then you can carry on and hope for the best. At the end of the day, we can all be stupid at times and we could do with some help to overcome our blindness and limitation. But if it’s a clear case of dishonesty and lack of integrity then do not waste your breath. Cut them loose.

My zero-tolerance approach is based on the following understanding: the statements contained in a back-and-forth exchange with someone vary in difficulty and complexity. We could say, for the sake of argument, they range on a scale from 0 to 5, where 0 is simple and 5 complex.

If you don’t find common ground on something complicated sitting at the top of the scale (4-5) that is perfectly understandable. At the top you’ll find competing truths, multifaceted realities, complex theories, conjectures, opinions, value judgements, predictions etc There is enough room to entertain different opinions. Exempli gratia. One might hold the opinion that the Swedish social democracy is better suited to make people happy than the American capitalist system, while someone else might think the opposite. One might think religion does more damage than brings benefits and we should break free from its grip while someone else believes it’s beneficial for our society and we should try hard to preserve it. One might think marriage is a religious institution sanctioned by God and so allowing gay people to marry would be a violation of his design, while someone else might think marriage is just a civil institution, a mundane architecture and so subject to change, if we decide to go that way. One might think that we need to do something radical to stop the global warming, even at the expense of our welfare, while someone else might think our human race can eventually adapt to the challenges and changes ahead of us, so any drastic measures would be unwise. These are competing truths. They are all legitimate to some extent. Even if they are eventually wrong, they are not straightforward wrong. Given their complexity one can entertain them without causing uproar and outrage.

At the bottom of our scale though (0-1) there are simple statements, hard facts, small bits of information that cannot be refuted. Inferential bricks. Simple atoms that cannot be broken down further. Paris is the capital of France. The Earth is not flat. Light travels faster than sound. The first crewed mission to land on the Moon was American. This is not a pipe. Trump is a patent liar. Palestinians don’t have full control of Gaza after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal. Rape is morally wrong. The glass on the table is red. Biden’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan was a mess. Oil is thicker than water. While Ebola kills more than 60% of its victims and Covid-19 kills less than 4%, the latter is trickier because it doesn’t usually kill the hosts and so allows the virus to circulate undetected and spread across the world with greater impact. Lies are predicated on intention. Corelation is not causation. Kidnapping people and turning them into slaves is morally reprehensible. Smoking can cause lung cancer. It’s raining. Luther was profoundly anti-Semitic. There are more right-handed people than left-handed. etc

Now. In these simple cases, there’s no room for disagreement, for alternative facts, for competing truths. No let’s-agree-to-disagree crap. No grey area. These are not controversial issues but self-evident truths or truths where general consensus is well established. If you happen to come across someone with whom you don’t have a common understanding at the bottom end of our scale, where things are simple and non-controversial, then you should leave. It’s either stupidity or intellectual dishonesty and you are just wasting your time. If you don’t have a shared reality for simple unequivocal things there’s no chance you will find common ground further up on the scale for the more complex ones. If someone starts distorting simple hard facts to accommodate their beliefs it’s time for you to pack and leave. Distorting reality is off limits. If he says the Earth is flat, Trump is not a pathological liar and the chair is a lamp leave him be in his surreal distorted world. Don’t engage him in conversation any further. He is toxic. You won’t be able to reason with him no matter how hard you try and you’ll end up banging your head against the walls. Just run away and save your sanity. Protect yourself from the violence that comes from pride, stubbornness and intellectual dishonesty. Protect yourself from insolence and inferential abuse.

How do you talk to a deluded individual? How do you get inside his brain and pop his narrative bubble? How do you cure his blindness? How do you deprogramme his tunnel vision? When someone is intellectually disingenuous at least there is a break in his defence since deep down he knows he is in the wrong and that he acts in bad faith. So playing the morality card against him might push him back on the path of truth. But someone deluded is not necessarily disingenuous no matter how insane his narrative might seem to us. He believes his falsehoods so, technically speaking, he is not lying and he is acting in good faith. If you listen to these guys storming the Capitol you can be surprised by their conviction that they are doing the right thing and that they are on a mission to save their country. They are genuine in their patriotic insanity. They are violent and murderous but they think they are on the right side of history. Like any entitled crusader. So how do you reach them? How can you make them snap out of their delusion? How do you bridge two minds that don’t share the same reality? And just because they truly believe in their deluded reality does it mean they are absolved of all blame and responsibility? I don’t think so. The road to delusion is a long journey made up of small moments of concession, disingenuity, downplaying, indulging, covering up, looking the other way etc that finally added up. Trump didn’t just happen. He didn’t force himself on us. He got there because some people put him there. He couldn’t keep going without his followers and his enablers turning a blind eye to his insanity at every step. Delusion might be an excuse when the reality you see is what you genuinely perceive as reality through the tainted lens on your eyes. But the lens didn’t get there without your consent.

The refusal of the Republican Party to investigate and condemn the attack of their main democratic institution speaks volumes of their true identity. Underplaying the American Reichstag moment is a national disgrace of historic proportions. To witness firsthand that turmoil and then to claim there was no insurrection but a peaceful protest is beyond belief. To listen to Donald Trump orchestrating the coup and then blaming Nancy Pelosi for it is surreal. To watch the violent uprising unfold in front of your very eyes and then to listen to Donald Trump praising the rioters as if they were some hippies at a Love Fest: “There was such LOVE at that rally. They were PEACEFUL people, these were great people, the crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love.’ The love is in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.” is almost comical. How on earth can someone listen to any of these without snapping out of their deluded reality? How can someone witness this level of scripted, deliberate brutality and still pretend it was just a peaceful protest that got out of hand? Perception doesn’t just happen to you. You might not have a full control over it but some of your perception is maintained clean and healthy at your will. Delusion is a lame excuse and if you suffer from it you are responsible for it. There’s no such thing as innocent delusion.

We all lie. Even when we try to lead an otherwise ethical life. We lie because truth can compete at times with other virtue, virtue that we think is more important and should override truth.

But we also lie about our lie. We lie to ourselves about the reasons why we take liberties with truth. Because, if we are to be honest with ourselves, lying is, for the most part, self-serving and this higher virtue that supersedes truth, this greater good we pretend to seek through our lying, do not exist. Even when we do protect other people from a damaging truth it’s hard to disentangle it from protecting ourselves from it.

Augustin and Kant didn’t think virtues can compete and be in conflict with one another. Virtues can be opposed only to vices not to other virtues. Thus a “civil war” amongst virtues would be nonsensical. According to them, truth is an absolute, telling the truth at all times, unconditionally is a categorical imperative and lying is never to be justified. No matter how dreadful the consequences. Lying in order to save someone’s life is bad. Telling the truth that results in someone’s death is good. When you make a statement, your only concern should be the correspondence between reality and your utterance. When you act your only concern should be fulfilling your duty. Abraham-like. Ignore the consequences. You are not responsible for them. God is. If your telling the truth ruins someone’s life it’s on God not on you.

In the dispute between these two ethical theories, consequentialism and deontology, as far as truth is concerned, I tend to be a consequentialist. Screw Kant. I can’t carry out a duty blindly. If I can save my Jewish neighbour from dying at the hands of Nazis, by lying to them, I will do it wholeheartedly. I hate lies but I am no purist whatsoever. Telling always the truth, with complete disregard for consequences, is not something I can easily relate to.

Given all these I should have some tolerance for falsehoods when I am lied to. And I do. I loathe lies and being lied to, but I can tolerate it to some extent. As they surely do mine. What I cannot tolerate is flat-out lies and sloppiness in their lying. It does matter to me how you lie to me. Because in the way you lie to me you reveal what you ultimately think of me. You insult my intelligence, or you take note of it. An obvious, careless, flat-out lie is offensive, and thus it triggers me, while a plausible one that can pe passed off as truth is not. And given the crappy unflattering lies and explanatory nonsense I had to listen to over the years from friends, boyfriends, relatives etc I am astonished at their low opinion of me. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they don’t care at all about how I think and how I perceive their deceit or they just overestimate their chances to get away with it. In either case the outcome is grim and appalling.

We all have a built-in bullshit detector after thousands of years of evolution as social creatures. But, like with everything else in life, we are not equally endowed. Some people have a bigger BS detection tool than others. By and large the smarter you are the bigger your tool – the more able you are to detect lies, deception, dishonesty, manipulation, rationalization, fraud. The smarter you are the more difficult is for you to be bullshitted on. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. And in some ways the smarter you are the more crap you have to put up with. Because while for some people the crap thrown at them will fly under their radar and they will be oblivious to it, for you, the detector will go off too much, too often. And that’s enough to make your life miserable. As a smart guy you don’t have the luxury of blissful ignorance when lied to. And we all need to not know we are lied to if we want to lead good social lives. Oblivion to people’s lies is a key requirement for our peace of mind and happiness. Limited insight is actually good for the health of our relationships. The need for opacity and shades is embedded in the fabric of our societies and complete transparency would be catastrophic. Being smart and highly perceptive then and seeing through people’s lies is not an asset but a social disability and detrimental to your happiness.

Being smart sucks. The savvy given to you at birth is a poisonous gift. You can no longer be lied to unknowingly. You can no longer see people how they want to be seen. The safe space between you and them where pretence can happen is shattered. Brace yourself for the misery of knowing too much. Brace yourself for the misery of seeing people for who they truly are. Brace yourself for unhapiness.

Procrastination-1

I am a slow learner. It’s not that I don’t see what’s coming or that I don’t hear what people are saying. It’s just that it takes me a great deal of time to take the foreseen threat all in and get ready to take a hit. Once I come across something stressful I find myself moving and thinking in slow motion, playing for time. I’m rather a freezer or a flighter to quote a classical reference from ethology. Never a fighter. I’m a hopeless procrastinator, so kicking the can down the road comes naturally to me. Hoping against all odds that the bitter pill will be taken away from me. But it never does and I know it all too well, I am no fool – anything but. Eventually the painful truth catches up with me. Eventually I give in to the gathering storm.

At any point in time I have a couple of unpleasant realities and truths I am in no hurry to acknowledge, even though like I said I am not oblivious to them and I know I will bow to truth eventually. Looking back at my recent years I realized there’s a common thread running through these off-putting truths, a leitmotiv easy to discern, so here they are:

Friendship. For some people friendship extends only to the point where you burst their bubble. Once their frail narrative is exposed they solve the cognitive dissonance that comes with it not by aligning themselves with truth but by deserting the friendship and leaving. If walking on eggs was never your strength you know you would eventually get tired of dancing around the truth. As much as you try to avoid speaking truthfully outright at first, sooner or later you put your foot in it. You might as well stop even trying and be straightforward from the very beginning. If a friendship requires calling a spade something else than a spade then maybe that friendship is not for you or is not worth saving. While it’s true that bursting someone’s bubble and ripping off the mask people decide to put on for whatever reasons is none of our business it’s also true that we cannot distort the truth to the point where that friendship becomes a farce.

Death. It’s in the order of nature that children survive their parents. It’s natural that parents go first. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a position where you raise a pet like a member of your family, that law of nature is broken and the order reversed. Eventually all these beautiful creatures are leaving and contrary to the order of nature parents survive their offspring. You subject yourself to a devastating event for there’s nothing more agonizing in this life than burying your child. I knew this all along, from the moment I kept her, but there was no need to dwell on this unnecessarily so I pushed that nagging apprehension to the back of my mind for years. Cancer short-circuited this convenience abruptly and left me no respite. Cancer is a monstrous machine that turns future to present. It brings that end from an indefinite future and makes it real. It makes it now. You can’t procrastinate cancer for long for cancer is like a nuclear bomb to your conscience. It doesn’t give a shit that you are not ready to face the dire reality just yet.

Family. For some siblings kinship ends where the inheritance begins. The idea of relatives fighting over a house or a plot of land is so preposterous and alien to me that I never thought this could possibly happen to me. And so when it did it shook me to the core. Coming from a rather close sister and one that happens to obey the same God made all this even more appalling. As a result I spent a couple of years struggling to come to terms with her pettiness and meanness of spirit. I was in no way ready to accept that people close to you  can be sheer evil and do you harm on purpose so I kept trying to justify her sordid behaviour in any reasonable ways. Given that I am a rather judgemental beast I should be quite proud of my self-restraint. Once again I procrastinated accepting the obvious truth: being born by the same mother is irrelevant to ethics.  Consanguinity doesn’t mean we all share the same moral compass. Your closest kin can be farther than a stranger. Trying to empathize with people when not at their best and making excuses for them is one (honourable) thing, seeing goodness in some deeds where there’s none is entirely another matter. At the end of the day, you are not responsible for their reputation but your own and so you shouldn’t see things through the coloured lens of your feelings for them. A bad thing is a bad thing and the fact that is perpetrated by your kin or someone you love doesn’t make it a good thing.

Love. Some people marry down and some people marry up. Some people are better than others, for we are not equal, obviously. It’s a common fact of life. But it’s also true that in many cases people marry down and marry up at the same time. It’s just that it happens on different levels. Because in these many cases, people are neither exceptional nor awful throughout. They are better than their partners in some respects and worse than them in other respects. So unbalanced relationships are more common than we think and that’s perfectly fine. The only time when this becomes critical is when you marry someone beneath yourself on something that is fundamental to you. For instance, I don’t give a damn about money, wealth, professional status, paygrade, education degrees, age, even looks up to a point, but I do give one about intellect, reliability, morals, set of values, authenticity etc. If I happen to enter a relationship that is not well balanced on the later, on the things that really matter to me, then it could be a dealbreaker. I could never stress enough the importance of having the same set of values and worshipping the same gods (i.e. admiring the same things). In my past relationships these differences put a huge strain on them and made them vulnerable to the point people felt like walking away. You might find in the great works of literature that love trumps everything, but in real life, as I found in my last relationships, social ambition trumps love. Different set of values leads to different paths in life.

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As you can easily tell, the common theme running through all of these foreseen outcomes is loss. In the first case I tried to delay the loss of a friend by being less outspoken at first and handling him with gloves for a while. In the second I tried to put off dealing with loss and death but cancer shattered my oblivion and left me no choice in the matter. In the third case I tried to avoid the loss of a sister by sugar-coating her transgression and making excuses for her. In the last one I tried to avoid the loss of a lover by letting the dust settle when the feel of inadequacy kicked in.

When loss starts to rear its ugly head and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening you could throw yourself into it and be done with it. You can put your suicide vest on and detonate yourself. Or you hold fire and brace yourself for the expected loss. You freeze. You go in sloooow motion. At the end of the day, if you are a believer a miracle could still happen. You make haste slowly for “the hurrier you go, the behinder you get“…

 

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(9/11 – freeze response)

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“Two nurses led me into a cold, gray room with a big mirror, morning light. They asked me to undress. It seemed excessive. I did not understand why I needed to reveal my skin, but my hands began removing my clohes before my mind approved the request. Listen to them. They held open a white paper lunch bag and I placed my beige padded bra with the worn straps inside. My gray dress went into another bag, never to be seen again. Something about checking for semen. When everything was gone, I stood naked, nipples staring back at me, unsure where to put my arms, wanting to cross them over my chest. They told me to hold still while they photographed my head from different angles. For portraits I was accustomed to smoothing my hair down, parting it on the side, but I was afraid to touch the lopsided mess. I wondered if I was supposed to smile with teeth, where I should be looking. I wanted to close my eyes, as if this could conceal me. One nurse slid a blue plastic ruler from her pocket. The other held a heavy black camera. To measure and document the abrasions, she said. I felt latex fingertips crawling over my skin, the crisp edge of the ruler pressed against the side of my neck, my stomach, my butt cheeks, my thighs. I heard each click, the black lens of a camera hovering over every hair, goose bump, vein, pore. Skin had always been my deepest source of  self-consciousness. I froze, magnified beneath the lens.

(Chanel Miller – Know my name. A memoir)

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Cand mariajul lui se impotmolise, in lipsa de sens, de perspectiva, de fuel, mi-a fost usor sa vad ce lipsea si sa pun un diagnostic adecvat. Si desi am stiut ca solutia insemna impingerea mea din centru spre periferie, i-am spus-o. “Give her a child and give yourself a family”. I knew it would be the end of me and of our relationship as it was but I did it nonetheless. That is love.

Cand s-a trezit in anticamera mortii m-am rugat lui Dumnezeu sa il tina in viata. Si pentru ca arhetipul negotului religios dintre om si zeu a presupus intotdeauna un pret oneros, un sacrificiu cu care sa pecetluiesti intelegerea, i-am spus lui Dumnezeu sa ia zile din zilele mele, ani din anii mei ramasi, timp din timpul meu, si sa i le dea lui. Transfuzie de timp. Firul vietii lui derulat din ghemul vietii mele. Even if that will prove to be not for my benefit after all. And it wasn’t. But I did it nonetheless. That is love.

Dupa ce mi-a facut vant pe scarile relatiei, ca sa folosesc o metafora tampita, a revenit dupa un an, deprimat, descentrat, demolat, fara nicio noima, asking for help. Ce situatie mai paradoxala and rewarding at the same time decat sa vezi un abuser intr-o groapa implorand mana victimei sa iasa din ea. As fi putut sa ii intorc spatele like he did. Karma is a bitch rhetoric. Nu sunt un sfant masochist care se mortifica facand bine celor care l-au ranit. But I did it nonetheless. That is love.

It beggars belief that once he grabbed the throw rope and climbed out of the hole he had digged himself into, he left again, after two months, without any explanation or any sign of gratitude or remorse. But again I’m glad that I could help and that he got better. Despite the pain he inflicted upon me again and despite his ungratitude, the greatest sin of all, I do not have any regrets over my kindness. Because the principle is simple: you don’t kick people when they are down but help them rise. I would do it all over again nonetheless. That is love.

Love never paid off. Love never paid back. Love never paid dividends. But I did it nevertheless. For I never regret the love I invested in people.

Trust is another matter altogether.

 

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Just laid my hands on a copy of The Mueller Report. As everybody knows by now, while it doesn’t state that Trump himself colluded with Russia in order to tilt US elections (even though they don’t use the term collusion, apparently it’s Trump’s defensive term), the report doesn’t exonerate him either. “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.“  I started reading the report out of curiosity and with the idea in mind that, giving its complexity and technicality, it could take my mind off personal anguish. I ended up dnfing the report as a whole (after all I don’t need to read 450 pages of technicalities in their entirety in order to get over somebody, one or two chapters will suffice) ( kidding) but I did have a flick through the rest of it. And boy, I cannot believe the extent to which the Russian meddling in the 2016 election is documented in the report. How on earth the cosmical joke that is Trump could say: “People came to me, they think it’s Russia (n.m. behind hacking DNC’s emails). I have president Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” It’s beyond my understanding why the hell after such a professional, thorough and well-documented report about the Russian interference (some clearly linked to the government) the president of United States fails to take a stand and publicly condemn Russia. I wonder what all Trump’s supporters will do now while the official report is out. They could live in denial ignoring one huge elephant in the room, but they cannot ignore a room filled up with them trashing their resistance to truth.

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what do you get when you give a voice to an idiot? some might say you get democracy, but that might go against Plato’s ideas on democracy who had something else in mind. but when that idiot is Nigel Farage you most certainly get a lot of unflushable bullshit.

 

Ce distanta infima intre normalitate si patologie. Insanitatea intelectuala se afla la doar un cuvant distanta (all – some). Common grounds my ass. Doua specii total diferite, care nu au nimic in comun, decat faptul ca impart acelasi teritoriu si acelasi fel de aparenta trupeasca. Ceea ce trumpetii numesc chitibusareala si pedanterie lingvistica, ceilalti numesc rigurozitate. Daca as primi cate un dolar pentru fiecare data cand am purtat genul asta de conversatie, as fi milionar. Bloody hell, we need the patience of a saint…

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Once again, his comment on what opinion means is spot on. I’m always at a loss when a dispute reaches deadlock and when faced with a self-evident truth, as O’Brien would put it, in front of a moon rock, the other says in a pacifying and tolerant way “let’s agree to disagree, you call that a rock, I call that a piece of cheese, we are both entitled to a different opinion”. No nooo noooo no nooo. No fucking way. It is a moon rock. Opinion is something else, this is facts. You don’t have an opinion when you say the clock shows 9:15 or today is Thursday. It’s a fact. You don’t have an opinion when you say the earth is not flat but round. It’s a fact. You don’t have an opinion when you say Kevin Spacey played the lead in “House of Cards”. It’s a fact. You do have an opinion when you say Kevin Spacey is one of the best actors of all time. It’s not a fact.

/əˈpɪnjən/ noun

noun: opinion; plural noun: opinions

  1. a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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Disonanta cognitiva este rezolvata aproape intotdeauna in beneficiul sinelui, in directia autoconservarii, protejarii imaginii de sine si nu in masuri corective care ne ciuntesc orgoliul. Rana narcisica, capatata in urma confruntarii cu cel care ne contesta bula narativa, convingerile si imaginea pozitiva de sine, nu se poate inchide decat mintindu-ne pe noi insine. Putini au curajul sa faca pasul spre adevar si maturitate, sa refuze ispita rationalizarii, sa admita ca sunt gresiti si sa rezolve conflictul intrapsihic prin corectarea opiniei sau comportamentului gresit. Investitia de fiinta intr-o idee, opinie, decizie, atitudine sau comportament e intotdeauna uriasa. And, as we all know, loss aversion has a tight grip on us. Nu poti admite ca ai investit atata timp intr-o eroare. Ar insemna sa iti sfarami soclul pe care ti-ai instalat perceptia de sine. Si cine e in stare de asa ceva? Putini.

De ceva vreme ma tot gandeam la cantitatea impresionanta de disonanta cognitiva pe care trebuie sa o experimenteze trumpetii, aflati intr-o stare continua de negare. Bineinteles, nu ma refer la trumpetii saraci cu duhul, pentru care disonanta cognitiva ar echivala cu un compliment, din moment ce aceasta presupune cognitie, fie ea si in conflict, ci la specia trumpetilor obisnuiti, care se reinventeaza miraculos cand convingerile le sunt demontate si falsificate. Exemplul clasic de disonanta cognitiva, din manualele de psihologie, de reinventare through shifting the goalpost, pentru a reduce disonanta, este cel cu sfarsitul lumii, al sectelor milenariste, care atunci cand nu are loc, conform profetiei, este nu pentru ca ideea sfarsitului era inepta in the first place, ci pentru ca zeii s-au milostivit de noi si ne mai pasuiesc un pic. Ma gandeam ce poveri uriase trebuie sa care dupa ei iubitorii de Brexit si de Trump, acum dupa doi ani de la fatidicul 2016, dupa ce au avut suficient timp sa se lamureasca ce narozii au putut sa sprijine. Now. Nu trebuie sa fii prost sau marsav ca sa fii subject to cognitive dissonance. Trebuie sa fii uman. E o stare de tensiune, de conflict, de dezechilibru in interiorul psihismului pe care o poate simti oricine. Ce-i drept, daca ai un negot bun cu onestitatea si inteligenta, esti mai putin vulnerabil la anumite forme maligne ale ei, insa, ca fenomen general, poate fi resimtit de oricine. Termenul are totusi o usoara valenta peiorativa, descalificanta, avand in vedere ca starea normala a psihismului este echilibrul si ca in general, asa cum mentionam mai sus, reinstaurarea consonantei cognitive se face, din pacate, nu prin corectia imaginii de sine ci masluind si mai bine lentilele prin care vedem realitatea. We double down on our wrong view to protect our wounded self. We dig ourselves into an even deeper hole. Ma gandeam cum e sa cari muntele ala de disonanta cognitiva dupa tine, atunci cand blocul convingerilor tale este plin de crapaturi, prin care incepe sa intre incet, incet, lumina adevarului si a realitatii. Ce costuri psihice uriase ca sa te mentii in starea asta de eschiva si de negare perpetua. What a disgraceful state to find yourself in. What a miserable life to lead. Si uite ca deunazi, in urma unei discutii cu o prietena buna, m-am trezit cu o oglinda pusa abrupt in fata iar imaginea returnata era a unuia care taraste dupa el un munte de disonanta cognitiva de mai bine de douazeci de ani. Condescendenta mea fata de disonanti nu era gresita, era legitima, doar ca greseam cand ma excludeam dintre cei carora le este adresata.

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Asa cum am mai scris, am intrat in varsta adulta cu credinta ciuntita. Castrat teologic. Daca la 16 ani aveam intrebari fara raspuns, dar la care puteam spera ca timpul mi le va oferi, la 30 de ani nu imi mai faceam iluzii, stiam ca aporia este definitiva si ca raspunsurile nu exista. Una din pietrele de incercare (no pun intended) ale unui crestin este dificultatea de a face o sinteza, care sa aiba coerenta interna, intre Dumnezeul Vechiului Testament si Dumnezeul Noului Testament. Dificultatea a fost evidenta de la inceputurile Bisericii primare iar solutiile incercate (e.g. marcionismul, maniheismul) au fost considerate erezii. Bineinteles ca multe contradictii din disputa veterotestamentar – noutestamentar sunt doar aparente sau pot fi contextualizate cultural si astfel armonizate cu intregul, cu imaginea unui Dumnezeu iubitor si drept, in egala masura. Unele insa nu pot. Oricat de mult te-ai stradui. Ideea unui Dumnezeu care porunceste ca un om care incalca prohibitia divina, adunand niste vreascuri de foc in ziua de sabat, sa fie omorat cu pietre este imposibil de reconciliat cu ideea unui Dumnezeu iubitor. Ideea ca mi se cere sa arunc cu pietre in fratele sau sora mea, pentru simplul fapt ca nu isi asculta parintii (Deuteronom 21:18), bolovan cu bolovan, pana ma asigur ca nu mai respira, este aiuritoare si datatoare de cosmaruri. Nu am o problema cu ideea de ordine, regula, comandament, precept, norma si cu pandantul lor disciplinar si instituirea unei pedepse in cazul transgresiunii. Nu am o problema cu ideea ca iubirea si justitia isi disputa acelasi teritoriu, ca nu putem sa il concepem pe Dumnezeu doar iubire, fara versantul justitiei, si ca trebuie gasit astfel un punct de echilibru. Am o problema cu cruzimea. Justitia nu este reinstaurata intr-un mod chirurgical, fara spectacolul degradant al durerii, prin nu stiu ce interventie divina, ci mi se cere mie sa ucid, cu sange rece, prin tortura, printr-o moarte lenta, chinuitoare, degradanta, aruncand cu pietre, un seaman de-al meu, pentru o culpa mai mult sau mai putin meschina. If that’s not cruel, if stoning someone to death is not a cruel, barbaric practice, no matter how understandably backward and primitive is a society at some point, far back in time, then I don’t know what cruelty means and we might as well render the language meaningless and stop using it altogether. La rigoare, pot accepta si ideea unui zeu crud, caruia ii datorez supunere fara cracnire, insa nu mi se mai poate cere sa il respect sau sa il iubesc.

Pentru cine are probleme in a admite caracterul cruzimii unei astfel de executii, inchipuiti-va ca, acum in modernitate, statele civilizate care n-au renuntat inca la pedeapsa capitala (e.g. SUA, Japonia) si-ar executa condamnatii la moarte printr-un astfel de spectacol sinistru, in care o multime de oameni ar omori lent, prin aruncarea cu pietre respectivul transgresor. You wouldn’t have trouble calling that cruelty, would you? Placing and explaining past events in their historical, original context is, admittedly, a basic rule in any hermeneutic endeavour and it might cut you some slack but it cannot shield you from every criticism of the past. You cannot dismiss every moral judgement of the past as anachronistic and inappropriate. Nu poti folosi acuzatia de presentism – de exegeza improprie a trecutului prin lentilele prezentului, oricum si oriunde. Daca violul e rau, el este rau atat in prezent cat si in trecut. Daca sacrificarea unei fecioare ca sa imbunezi zeii este un rau, el este rau atat in prezent cat si in trecut. Daca sclavia, negotul cu persoane este un rau, el este rau atat in prezent cat si in trecut. Daca lapidarea este un rau, el este rau atat in prezent cat si in trecut. Altfel cazi in ceea ce critici vehement (i.e. relativism moral).

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Numeri 15:32-36  (NTLR): Pedeapsa pentru călcarea Sabatului

32 În timp ce israeliţii erau în pustie, au găsit un om adunând vreascuri în ziua de Sabat. 33 Cei care-l găsiseră adunând vreascuri l-au adus înaintea lui Moise, a lui Aaron şi a întregii adunări. 34 Pentru că încă nu era clar ce trebuie să i se facă, l-au pus sub pază. 35 Domnul i-a zis lui Moise: „Omul acela să fie omorât; toată adunarea să-l omoare cu pietre în afara taberei.“ 36 Toată adunarea l-a dus în afara taberei şi l-a omorât cu pietre, aşa cum i-a poruncit Domnul lui Moise.

Principiul tertului exclus ne blocheaza intr-o dilema din care un crestin nu poate iesi nevatamat. Ori i) Biblia este aprioric infailibila, ineranta, perfecta, si atunci, luand at face value relatarile ei, Dumnezeu este uneori crud, dubios moral, imperfect, problematic ori ii) Dumnezeu este aprioric perfect, iubitor, ireprosabil moral si atunci Scriptura, cand ne prezinta aceste relatari ale unui Dumnezeu dubios moral, este inexacta, failibila, imperfecta, problematica. Ori un zeu malitios, ori o revelatie inexacta. Ori un Dumnezeu imperfect, ori o Scriptura imperfecta. Una din doua. Unul din cei doi termeni cognitivi in conflict trebuie ajustat. Ajustezi identitatea si perfectiunea lui Dumnezeu sau pe cea a Scripturii? Renunti sa mai gandesti in termeni absoluti despre Dumnezeu sau despre Scriptura? Tarasc dupa mine, de douazeci de ani, acest munte de disonanta cognitiva, in care, in ceea ce ma priveste, am ales sa ajustez Scriptura pentru a-l salva pe Dumnezeu. Solutia e evident fragila din moment ce cei doi termeni – zeul si revelatia – sunt legati inconturnabil unul de celalalt. Sunt prea las ca sa am curajul sa ma arunc in gol, intr-o lume lipsita de un sens final. Sunt prea las ca sa ii intorc spatele Celui care este ceea ce este. Prefer disonanta cognitiva singuratatii si disperarii. Sunt un impostor si un las deplorabil. There. I said it.

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The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.