Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Warning Buoys

"I would actually agree with most of his points if you wanted to play an old-school, high-lethality, players vs. world, DM as an objective referee style dungeon crawl. However, most of them can be safely ignored if that's not the specific game you want to run."
Adam McCabe, from Reddit

Let me be forthright in writing that this is not an attack or a rant on McCabe himself or on the Reddit community.  That was addressed in the last post.  Rather, this post is intended to highlight only two words that appear in the above text: "safely ignored."

I have never thought that anyone who ignores any part of this blog does so at their peril.  I think that the entire blog may be ignored quite easily without any potential for injury, loss of life or even the burden of emotional pain.  It may be that a reader would miss an opportunity byignoring this blog, but so long as the reader continues to read something, I feel confident that any notion that appears on this blog will eventually make its way into the noggin of any self-educated person to the point where it cannot be ignored.

Nor have I considered that someone might give advice to someone not to read this blog by proclaiming that it is safe to do so.  I would expect someone to say, "Don't read this blog."  I would not expect someone to argue, "It is safe not to read this blog."

The explanation for this is not far afield.  We live in an advertising world that seeks to make the act of reading a specific, paid-for product so vital as to make the claim (in so many words), "That you may NOT safely ignore this!"  If you don't watch the news, if you don't take our word for it, if you do not attend our meetings, if you do not buy our product, then doom and gloom will certainly be the result.

From that, it is easy to designate everything else in the world that a person might read as safely ignored.  Along that vein, I can state with certainty that the writings of John Stuart Mill may be safely ignored.  Personally, Mill is one of my favorite writers, a genius of such remarkable insight that much of modern law, jurisprudence, politics and communication is based upon his writings . . . but since virtually no one I meet in the common world even knows who J.S. Mill is, apparently it is quite safe to ignore him.

It would be equally safe to ignore the play Coriolanus by Shakespeare.  It is never a play that people quote, it never comes up as required reading in a university course, it is never presented by anything but off-off-Broadway and, in fact, most people are not only utterly unaware of the existence of the play, they have no idea that Coriolanus was a man, a general, a remarkable politician who once saved Rome, etcetera, etcetera.  Plainly, having lived most of their lives without having any idea of this, the written play can be quite safely ignored.

In fact, we can make this argument over and over, right into perpetuity.  We need not confine ourselves to the limitations of artwork or intellectual discourse.  If we give it a little space, we may include entire nations in our list, bordered regions like Angola, Kiribati, even Ecuador.  Yes, there exists the possibility that we may meet someone from one of those places, or that someday we may be asked to do a job that will exploit the people or resources from such a place, but we are in a state of such enlightenment in the West that it is certain we can merely pass by such knowledge with a mere flip of the consciousness, obliterating them out of existence even as we shuffle money from there to here.

That is because knowledge, unlike a rapidly passing car and our spatial relationship to it, the curb and the speed with which we are crossing the street, very rarely has the opportunity to break bone, smash flesh or otherwise render us unconscious or dead.  True, the steady onslaught of a particular kind of ignorance, such at that which leads inevitably to war or the damnation of millions of souls through mass execution and death, will have consequences for those who are not wise enough to avoid the path of destruction.  But the connection between the warning of such events and the events themselves is so vague, so riddled with misinformation, so tremendously difficult to understand for the ordinary citizen who just wants to get their latte and start work without being yelled at by their boss, that it is easy to decide that such connections do not, in fact, exist, or that consequences are inevitable, or that misery is something that no amount of knowledge can sidestep. This is easier to believe, "safer" in many respects, since setting out each day with the awareness that it is up to all of us to acquire knowledge to make the world a better, more decent place to live, with less chance for misery in the long term, is a burden of proportions far too great for the mass of people to bear.

Let us remember what we all got into this life to obtain.  From the beginning, we were weaned onto a tit that promised to sustain us so long as we took the time to suck it ~ and from thence we have steadily moved from tit to tit, sure in the knowledge that there will always be another one there, presented right before our face by someone, with exactly the consistent sweetness that we were promised from the first time we pursed up our lips and got started.

And if that sweetness should fade, or come on too strong, or in any way deviate from our expectation, and if the presenter of the tit should hesitate, or waver, or in any way inconvenience us with its uncertainty, then it is only right that we should declare that situation reprehensible, intolerable, incredible in its moral perversity and deserving of the highest opprobrium that we can muster.

Anything else ~ and everything else ~ that does not fit the description of a tit can, without the need for evaluation, be safely ignored.


JB said...

: )

Alexis Smolensk said...

I was very tempted to use Paraguay as an example of a country that could be ignored, but that seemed too on the nose.