Fastened to tribal Storyline...

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2022

A lesson in novelization: "That is no country for old men." So Yeats says at the start of his famous poem, Sailing to Byzantium.

In 2007, that line supplied the title for an Oscar-winning film by the Coen brothers. The LitCharts web site starts explaining the Yeats poem in the manner shown:

“Sailing to Byzantium,” by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), is essentially about the difficulty of keeping one’s soul alive in a fragile, failing human body. The speaker, an old man, leaves behind the country of the young for a visionary quest to Byzantium, the ancient city that was a major seat of early Christianity. There, he hopes to learn how to move past his mortality and become something more like an immortal work of art.

As far as we know, that's close enough for literary work. At any rate, in Yeats' third stanza, he pens the following plea:

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is...

The aging poet's uncertain heart is "fastened to a dying animal." In a somewhat similar way, our extremely self-impressed liberal tribe is currently fastened to Storyline—to the falsified stories from which we liberals keep deriving our endlessly phony group consciousness.

(The falsified stories from which we construct our falsified identity.)

What does it mean to be yoked to Storyline? Consider New York magazine's new presentation about the last ten years:

10 Years Since Trayvon / The story of the first decade of Black Lives Matter.

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, because as a Black boy walking in a gated community, he was deemed “suspicious.” Zimmerman’s acquittal appalled a nation often willfully blind to the vulnerability of living while Black. Ten years later, “Black Lives Matter” has grown from a hashtag to a protester’s cry to a cultural force that has reshaped American politics, society, and daily life. It is, at the same time, a specific collection of organizations and people whose decisions have attracted both applause and criticism; whose actions have been a source of intrigue; whose personal relationships have both strengthened and splintered under the stress and exposure. This special issue attempts to tell the story of the first decade of Black Lives Matter, the movement—as well as the country it moved. 

—Lindsay Peoples-Wagner and Morgan Jerkins

We have no doubt that Peoples-Wagner and Jerkins are thoroughly well-intentioned. But the first two sentences of that account are heavy-duty novelization.

You're looking at tribal falsification—at narrative all the way down.

Why do we offer these insensitive comments? Let's return to those first two sentences:

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, because as a Black boy walking in a gated community, he was deemed “suspicious.” Zimmerman’s acquittal appalled a nation often willfully blind to the vulnerability of living while Black. 

The world would be a better place if Trayvon Martin hadn't been shot and killed that night in Sanford. But was he shot and killed that night "because as a Black boy walking in a gated community, he was deemed 'suspicious?' "

Not exactly, no. At the specific time he was shot and killed, he was banging George Zimmerman's head on a sidewalk, or perhaps on the ground, in a way which Ta-Nehisi Coates described as plainly life-threatening. 

When our tribe novelizes the story, we know we must leave that part out. Meanwhile, riddle us this:

Is it true that George Zimmerman's acquittal at trial "appalled a nation often willfully blind to the vulnerability of living while Black?" 

Not necessarily, no. Some people were appalled; of that there can be no doubt. But other people weren't. For example, the jury which delivered the acquittal was unanimous in its verdict, after watching the entire trial.

For the record, another part of our tribal novel is lurking in those two sentences. The first of those sentences is designed to disappear an obvious possible fact:

In that first sentence, the writers imply that Martin was deemed suspicious that night because he was black—full stop. That said, George Zimmerman said he deemed Martin suspicious that unfortunate night because he was behaving suspiciously as he walked through the gated community.

Is it possible that Zimmerman's statement was true? Of course it is, and New York's novelists have no way of knowing whether it is or not. We can't tell you whether it's true or false either, but we don't plan to pretend.

There's little doubt that Martin's shooting death triggered a whole new era in liberal politics. On balance, that era may turn out to have been morally helpful for the nation—or then again, it may not turn out that way at all.

As we've noted in the past, national interest in the Martin case was apparently triggered by a blatant factual misstatement in the New York Times—by an ugly, blatant factual misstatement which apparently came from the Crump legal team and which has never been formally corrected by the Times.

(The Times quickly sidled away from this blatant misstatement, without ever penning a correction. We've covered this several times in the past. We don't plan to waste our time doing so again. In a world which runs on Storyline, there's no information flow.)

Our tribe then invented a second false statement about what happened that night. This second false statement was widely repeated. It painted Zimmerman in the worst possible light, as the apparent aggressor in the fight which occurred that night. 

In the case of this second false claim, the New York Times eventually came to debunk it explicitly, but not before our tribe had repeated the claim about ten million times.

That said, our tribe has been inventing phony facts about cases of this type all through the past decade. We invent (and repeat) inaccurate facts; we disappear relevant accurate facts; and we stress completely irrelevant facts. In these ways, our failing tribe insists on inventing the childish, cartoonized stories we apparently need and we very much like.

Yeats was tied to a dying animal. Our tribe is tied to false (and disappeared) facts. We insist on constructing these tribal tales as a way of creating a cartoonized world in which we are The Very Good People and everyone else is very bad. This is the conduct of a people who simply can't handle the stress of the actual complex world.

We keep inventing phony facts and stressing the wholly irrelevant. In these ways, a dying tribe insists on inventing the novelized stories it needs.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Joan Didion apparently said that.

In the current devolving era, a pair of hopeless warring tribes insist on inventing stories about each other. The news from Fox is routinely (though not always) insane. Our tribe isn't a whole lot better.

What happened on that unfortunate night in Sanford, Florida? Simply put, Peoples-Wagner and Jerkins  have no way to know.

They're telling a standard mandated tale—a tale designed to exalt the tribe. But that mandated tale is a novelization. It's highly cartoonized Storyline—Storyline all the way down.

Yeats was fastened to a dying animal. Our culture is fastened to that.


39 comments:

  1. Somerby has clearly reiterated how the left bends its storylines. Let the whining begin below this comment.

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    1. Is it true what Somerby claims? Did Martin bash Zimmerman's head into the concrete?

      No, this is false. It is pretty weird to claim others are pushing a false narrative when you are the one actually pushing a false narrative.

      Was Zimmerman justified in murdering Martin? Polls indicate most Americans thought he was not. Yet still he was found not guilty, just like those that murdered Emmett Till.

      People of color do much much worse on nearly every metric that matters in society; unless you think this is genetic, and thus are racist, this is an important issue deserving a powerful movement like BLM.

      Somerby is a lost soul with no moral compass, just an angry, sad, old man, dying of false righteousness, a function of losing relevancy he never really had.

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    2. “ Somerby is a lost soul with no moral compass, just an angry, sad, old man, dying of false righteousness, a function of losing relevancy he never really had.”

      Anonymouse 6:41pm, your empathy is awe inspiring.

      Goodness would these guys have loved to announce a different conclusion,

      I FEEL for them.

      https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-officials-close-investigation-death-trayvon-martin

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    3. anon 6:41 - there was a witness who testified at the Martin trial that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, pummeling him. You can get a summary of all the evidence at the trial on Wikipedia. That you ask a question "Was Zimmerman justified in 'murdering' Matin" - this shows the heavy thumb you have on the scales. Obviously, no one is justified in "murdering" someone. But here there was a trial, and Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder, and that eye witness, as well as all the other evidence. Given that in our court system, the standard is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is possible that Zimmerman, like other defendants, really did 'murder' Martin; but I assume you weren't there, so you don't know. The comparison with Emmett Till is invalid. You seem incapable, or fully unwilling, to be objective. You also state that "people of color do much worse on nearly every metric that matters in society" - not sure exactly what you mean by that, but apparently as some evidence that Zimmerman was guilty, though I don't see how. That these worse "metrics" justifies the 'Black Lives Matter Movement" - your being too vague to make much sense.

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    4. AC/MA you continually lie about this testimony, that is not what the witness testified too. Unsurprising coming from a fake lawyer.

      Zimmerman did in fact kill Martin. Zimmerman's trial hinged on whether he reasonably feared imminent death; given the actual testimony, it is trivially easy to find that he did not reasonably fear death or great bodily harm.

      The comparison with Emmett Till is appropriate. Lots of white people get off of murdering others, this is an ongoing effort, Rittenhouse is the latest example.

      Objective? Brother please, you ooze bad faith.

      Black wealth is 15% of white wealth, that is one example, but on basically every metric that matters, people of color do way way worse than white people.

      This does not make sense to you because you are a right wing racist. This is not exactly a secret.

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  2. "We have no doubt that Peoples-Wagner and Jerkins are thoroughly well-intentioned"

    Oh, you have no doubt, dear Bob? Always a mistake, in our humble opinion. But if you prefer to be gullible, that's your choice.

    By the way, how is Patrisse Cullors doing? Bought any more posh houses lately?

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    1. Bob may be the youngest old guy in the country.

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  3. "In a somewhat similar way, our extremely self-impressed liberal tribe is currently fastened to Storyline..."

    This is what Somerby does. He takes a famous, poignant line from a poem and equates it to his own gripe against liberals. He doesn't bother trying to draw a parallel between storyline and an old man's dying body, because there isn't one to be drawn. There is also no resemblance between liberals and the old man in the poem. But that doesn't matter to Somerby. As he says, close enough for literary work, except in his case, it is close enough for hack work.

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  4. There is not enough Yeats poetry in the world to whitewash this post. There are not even enough illiterates to misread all the Yeats poetry in the world to whitewash this post.

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  5. "to the falsified stories from which we liberals keep deriving our endlessly phony group consciousness"

    And yet Somerby never manages to show anything "falsified" and he never manages to show that any of us derive our group consciousness (phony or not) from storyline. He makes this shit up and tries to pin it on us, but it just doesn't fit any reality. That makes this nothing more than elaborate name-calling.

    And Somerby is the biggest phony of all, calling himself a liberal while touting the conservative line. What a fraud.

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  6. "But was he shot and killed that night "because as a Black boy walking in a gated community, he was deemed 'suspicious?' "

    Not exactly, no. At the specific time he was shot and killed, he was banging George Zimmerman's head on a sidewalk, or perhaps on the ground, in a way which Ta-Nehisi Coates described as plainly life-threatening. "

    And Somerby leaves out all the stuff in the middle that got us from Trayvon Martin buying a pack of Skittles, to George Zimmerman shooting Martin in "self-defense".

    Zimmerman had no business with Martin and was just passing through the neighborhood. Zimmerman's decision that Martin looked suspicious did indeed start the interaction between the two -- everything follows from that. We do not know whether Martin was indeed behaving suspiciously, because he is not around to defend his side of the narrative. After stalking Martin for a while, Zimmerman ignored police instructions to stay in his car and he provoked a confrontation with Martin that ended with Zimmerman on the ground (because Martin was younger and bigger and he chose to defend himself against Zimmerman, not having any idea who he was or why he was stalking him). Whether Zimmerman had a right to shoot Martin is only the endpoint in a series of decisions that led to an armed adult shooting an unarmed kid.

    Somerby always disappears the facts that are inconsistent with his own narrative, including the one that says liberals get the story wrong. In my opinion, having read a great deal about what happened, Somerby's narrative is entirely self-serving of his own desire to smear liberals. Somerby has no interest in nor respect for the truth of what happened between Martin and Zimmerman, and he never has.

    Meanwhile, the evidence that the Zimmerman acquittal affected the nation is that it was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. Whatever side anyone took, it was discussed widely and spurred black people and their allies to take action to protest such deaths. That makes the importance of Martin's death indisputable and not any kind of falsity.

    As you read Somerby's essay today, notice how vague he is about the supposed lies he says liberals are telling, and notice how aggressively he uses words such as falsity. It is very hard to identify the two pivotal lies Somerby says liberals are telling. It is easy to hear him call us all liars, without clearly stating his evidence.

    Somerby himself seems to be getting more desperate in his statements, melting down, even as Trump himself has been flaming out. Turning up the volume and getting bombastic doesn't give Somerby any greater support for his claims. It just makes him a noisy old man, perhaps fastened to his own dying animal. But that doesn't give him the right to malign liberals or to ignore the manner in which Zimmerman starts the events that led to Martin's death.

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  7. "Yeats was fastened to a dying animal. Our culture is fastened to that."

    You're the dying animal...No, you are!

    Why does our culture have to die just because Somerby dislikes hearing something postive said about Black Lives Matter?

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  8. ""We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Joan Didion apparently said that."

    Yes, she said that, but in what context? It is the title of a book of her collected essays. But what she was writing wasn't anything supportive of Somerby's thesis about liberals.

    In fact, it is the opposite. That title is taken from the first line of her book, The White Album. The theme of The White Album, according to Wikipedia, is "the search for and failure to find a narrative, on the stage, this failure of narrative can be disorienting and unsatisfying for theatregoers."

    In contrast, Somerby has no problem imagining narratives and storylines, shared by liberals, even when none exist. He and Didion should have had a long heart-to-heart, given that she would probably not approve of the use that Somerby makes of her words. But she cannot object -- she is dead now.

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    1. I suppose the Beatles were more generous with Didion.

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    2. Have you seen the little piggies in their starched white shirts?

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  9. Meanwhile, this is what Somerby should be discussing:

    https://www.theroot.com/republican-comments-about-supreme-court-picks-shows-ame-1848458878?utm_source=theroot_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2022-02-01

    Republican Comments About Supreme Court Picks Shows America Is A Long Way From Respecting Qualified Black Women

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    1. "Now let’s take a look at potential Supreme Court pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson attended Harvard University for college and law school and clerked for Justice Breyer at the start of her career. When President Biden picked her for the D.C. Circuit, she gained three Republican votes and was also looked at as a non-partisan judge."

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    2. The SC needs to be packed, that is the only judicial answer to the growing neo fascism in our increasingly neo feudal society.

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    3. That and doing away with the filibuster?

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    4. The filibuster needs to go. If the country votes in Republicans, let them pass their policies, let's see how they do.

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    5. We’re about three months from liberals and the media saying that they will discount any midterm election result that is not favorable to Democrats.

      After the election. they’ll characterize that response as coming from the American people.

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    6. You mean, you expect them to act like Republicans, Cecelia?

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    7. No, I mean I expect them to act as they’ve always acted.

      They’ve been calling Republican presidents illegit since “W”.

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    8. Sure, ok Cecilia. Point out the times they stormed the Capitol at the direction of their President, or their President tried to arm twist Secretaries of State to “find” votes, or even when the losing candidate failed to concede and acknowedge the election results. You don’t cite any examples anyway.

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    9. They’d never have to do that. They spent eight years with the media denouncing “W” as being duly elected and four years proclaiming Trump as having been installed via Russia.

      Democrats made this maneuver one in everyone’s playbook, but the media solely endorses it against Republicans.

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    10. It's remarkable how Cecelia and David and all the other little trolls studiously avoid commenting on the systematic acts of anti-democratic election laws and voter suppression going on right now in republican controlled states, and of course the blatant extraordinary evidence of the head MAGAT, DJT inciting an attempted coup to steal the election. And then she has the fucking balls to come here and pre-emptively whine. That's all you fucking do, Cec, whine whine whine, you're such a victim, oh my dear, you and David are such victims. How do you survive in this world controlled by those you hate?

      Nothing odd about W having the supreme court install him as the winner? Nothing odd about Trump losing the popular vote by millions?

      you people have no shame.

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    11. Anonymices always pronounce others as being crybabies as they angrily shake their fists and cuss them out.

      Go get some sleep, Anonymouse 8:51pm, tomorrow is another day.

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    12. Cecelia,
      They'll have Kamala Harris decide elections, just like the VP has the right to do.
      If you have a problem with that, you can join forces with the Democrats to change the law.

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    13. It's OK, Cecelia. The blahs are going to show up at the polls "armed" so everything will be alright.

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    14. "Point out the times they stormed the Capitol..."

      Why would they storm the Capitol, dear mh -- there's much more shit in Target.

      Have you ever noticed that all the heroes of your liberal cult are career criminals: robbers, rapists, child molesters and such?

      From Saint Floyd to the latest heroic character, Saint Rosenbaum, a literal, clinical psycho.

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    15. Mao was funnier when he pretended he wasn't the Establishment's biggest ass-kisser. Now, he's just repeating unfunny, Cecelia-level Right-wing bigotry, like the rest of his tribe.

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    16. Cecilia, I like you here, you often make more sense that the TDH attackers (especially when you mentioned how smart I was). But are you saying above the MAGA 'mob" "had to" storm the capitol in the manner they did on Jan. 6?

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  10. “At the specific time he was shot and killed, he was banging George Zimmerman's head on a sidewalk”

    This is what is called a “proximate cause”, and it illustrates how the law can narrow the focus and remove the context of an event. It doesn’t so much explain why Trayvon Martin was killed; it explains why Zimmerman was acquitted.

    This is like saying that a woman who was abused by her husband for years and attempted to kill him when she felt he was becoming violent, and the husband kills her.

    The proximate cause of the wife’s death was her attempt to kill her husband, and he may be innocent regarding that specific event, but pretending that he was guiltless is a profound mistake.

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    1. So with your “logic” banging Zimmerman’s head on the ground a few times was adequate payment for a Neighborhood Watch goofus having found Martin suspicious.

      Did the prosecution apprise the jury?

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    2. Here is the defibition of goofus = armed vigilante who disregarded law enforcement to stalk and engage with an unarmed young man, who upon failing in a physical confrontation shot and killed him. You label him cartoonish, maybe as a result of your misplaced endearment of him. More likely you think that your bullshit characterization might be acceptable here and somehow make him less culpable to us.

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    3. I don't think the jury ever heard him labeled as a goofus, but they found him less culpable than "us".

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    4. How did mh get to be such a dipshit dumbass? Probably watching and reading the same bullshit Bob has always tried to warn him about.

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    5. Martin had the right to bash Zimmerman's head on the sidewalk. Florida is a stand your ground state.
      They jury found Zimmerman innocent so they wouldn't hurt Right-wingers feelings. Same reason they're trying to ban America's history of slavery from being taught.

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    6. Thing is, Martin did not bash Zimmerman in any way.

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