Our Noble Trade Feed

Lost and Found

"I love you and always will," that is the best possible use of the plain style. For the faithful husband it is a felt truth and a promise. For the seducer it is an effective means to an end. When a God, or the God, became man, and his message was love, he spoke in parables. You could say that the alternative was premature crucifixion, and that the style was meant as a cloak, or to keep the wrong people from getting saved, as St Mark says, they mustn't, but also because the natural language of moral truth is indirection. "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -- Success in Circuit lies," as Emily Dickinson wrote, as if to herself, alone in her room. Bearing witness: the best models say the moment of truth is best postponed, if only to the end of a stanza.

The Virtue of Torture

Taking the medical analogy seriously. What must it have been like to operate on a patient without anesthetic? To touch the skin with the scalpel, or saw, and feel the whole body stiffen under your hand, to hear the preemptive scream, and to go on and not be distracted. Given the effect of the satiric edge, would a kind person hesitate and draw back? What if it hurts the other? Keep going. If the purpose is to heal what is deformed or corrupt, it will hurt. Surgery was consensual. Public torture was not, at least not for one dismembered.  

Satire today may be as important for the health of the body politic as is judicial torture. Both require a personality type that some may find sadistic or psychopathic. But can we begrudge the professional the pleasures that come with an important social role?

Perhaps in the style of an old New Yorker cartoon

The headsman, in a black tunic, tight leggings, boots, a black leather hood, and his big belly hanging out, lies on the therapist's couch. The caption reads, "I don't know, I just don't love my work that much anymore." Imagine the cartoon, licensed to The Journal of Positive Psychology. It lies open to that page on the table in the therapist's break room in Wealth Bondage, or Gitmo. Imagine the Journal's prose, its bibliography, its peer reviewers..... Somewhere in this is a joke.

On Old School Satire

Another thought - What would bedside manner have meant for a Roman surgeon in 50 BC, when even the most willing patient had to be held down, or strapped to the table? A calm, professional, voice on which the patient might focus while the corrupted part is cut away? If we could recapture that tone, what good might we yet do? The problem is that I enjoy it too much. And it spooks the patient. Remember, this is for your own good......

Que Pasa?

Mr. Matrullo reflects on  Reinhold Niebuhr. To see the mote in another's eye, but not the beam in your own is an ethical failing. For that matter so is being blind to the murders traditionally committed by those in your station in life.  What is going on? Best not to see or say, lest you be the one to whom bad things happen in secret with nothing said and no appeal. How well Americans will adapt themselves to these blindnesses and insights remains to be seen. So far we are doing very well, I think, at least in the not seeing what is going on area of our social obligations. Philanthropy helps too in that regard being so polite and inoffensive. Leadership in selective attention is provided by our media. Who can blame us for not seeing what is really going on?

Deprogramming The Happy Victims of a Cult

On the polygamous sect:

An expert in children in cults testified Friday that while the teen girls believed they were marrying out of free choice, it's a choice based on lessons they've had from birth.

Whatever your views on this case, you have to admit that the expert's logic is faulty. What if the teen girls were in the mall buying stuff? Would we conclude that they were deluded, since their apparent choice is "based on lessons they've had from birth"? I am sorry that the girls in either case fail to confront their abusers. But members of both sects believe that they have chosen freely. And to suggest otherwise is patronizing? I speak as a deprogrammer myself. The hardest part of teaching my clients to be truly free is deprogramming the conditioning they received from birth in a capitalist society. Even the philanthropically inclined fight the onset of wisdom as if it were death.

Support for a Full Range of Moral Systems

Tutoring clients in their morals is a tough job, almost like running a repair shop for all makes and models of automobiles. It is one thing to know how to repair a Ford Fiesta, and to stock the needed parts, but what if the client drives up in an Aston Martin? Same with morals. There are so many makes and models, from the post-modern, to the subaltern in various modes, to the Christian (meaning Evangelical), to the Catholic (meaning all inclusive but not Protestant), to the Buddhist, the Confucian,  and the New Age. We know that what car a person drives, what lifestyle they live, or what moral system they sport is a consumer choice in a free society. I am in favor of all that. But from a practical standpoint it makes it hard to service wealthy people with the spare parts and tune up their particular moral system requires. "What kind of morals you got there, and how can I be of assistance?" is generally a good opening gambit. From there we get into an estimate of parts and labor.  Where the car analogy breaks down is that most people know when their muffler is shot to hell, but few know when their morals are. So a lot of times I find myself trying to fix what the client says is not broken. This makes client retention difficult, and my receivables run slow. Maybe I should just open a junk yard.