Maddow limns mental health: Simply put, we human beings just don't reezun reel gud.
As one example among at least several, consider what happened when Albert Einstein wrote his own "Einstein made easy" book, Relativity: The Special and General Theory.
The 87-page book appeared in 1916. At age 37, Einstein was already famous as the greatest genius since Newton.
A publisher suggested that he write a short book which would make his theory of relativity accessible to us general readers. To this day, the book which emerged is almost wholly incoherent, though Penguin describes it like this:
"An accessible version of Einstein’s masterpiece of theory, written by the genius himself."
We tried to reread the book up in Maine two weeks back, but abandoned the project as essentially pointless at this particular time.
Everyone agrees that Einstein was a genius, but his skills only extended so far. Nothing about his accessible book is actually accessible to general readers.
A century later, Penguin still doesn't seem aware of that fact, and neither is anyone else.
Though Einstein was an acknowledged genius, he didn't seem to possess the skills which lead to clear "popular writing." In his sprawling biography of Einstein, Walter Isaacson tells the comical story of the way this allegedly accessible book came to be so incoherent:
ISAACSON (page 232): [In 1916], he produced an even more understandable version—a book for the lay reader, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. To make sure that the average person would fathom it, he read every page out loud to Elsa's daughter, Margot, pausing frequently to ask whether she indeed got it. "Yes, Albert," she invariably replied, even though (as she confided to others) she found the whole thing totally baffling.Elsa was Einstein's cousin (later his wife). Margot was her 16-year-old daughter.
Margot was too much in awe of her Uncle Albert to tell him that she found his book baffling. Presumably, this helps explain the book's incoherence.
Einstein's Einstein-made-easy book isn't easy at all! But to this very day, Penguin apparently hasn't heard, and even as he tells this story, Isaacson tells us how "understandable" the resulting text actually was.
Einstein was one of human history's greatest geniuses—but his intellectual skill set only extended so far. This seems to bode ill for the rest of us humans. Consider the missive which tops this morning's letters page in the Washington Post:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (8/9/19): Regarding the Aug. 6 front-page article “Trump condemns bigotry, not guns”:This letter is an example of tribal dogma on the march. The writer doesn't seem to want to hear any talk about the possible role of mental illness in our endless mass shootings.
Mass shootings in the United States tend to be committed by young, white men. Republican members of Congress and the president continue to talk about mental illness as the cause for such violence. But mental illness is more or less evenly distributed in the population as a whole. Few women and few people of color become mass shooters. There must be other reasons that young white men commit these mass shootings.
We need to call these acts what they are: domestic terrorism resulting from ascendant white nationalism. Our elected leaders have the duty to employ effective strategies. One of those strategies may, indeed, include control of high-capacity magazines and some weapons. The Second Amendment is fundamental, but it is not absolute.
Instead, she seems to want to hear talk about "domestic terrorism resulting from ascendant white nationalism." She seems to want us to describe mass shootings that way. It seems that she doesn't want to hear anything else.
Statements like these have been quite common in the past four days. They exist in reaction to Donald J. Trump's claim that mental illness plays a role, perhaps a major role, in gruesome events of this type.
What role does, or might, mental illness play in our endless mass shootings? We can't answer that question in any serious way.
We can note the zeal with which the writer wants to eliminate any such idea, an idea she tracks to "Republican members of Congress and the president." In other words, she tracks that idea to the Others, to those in The Other Tribe.
How eager is this writer to banish all talk which comes from people like Them? How eager is the Washington Post to help spread her advice?
This eager! Her claim about the racial demographics of mass shooters seems to be wrong, but the Post ran her letter, and her claim, right at the top of its letters page. And might we make the following point?
Of the two mass shootings last weekend which have sparked the current pseudo-discussion, one of them—the mass shooting in Dayton—seems to have no connection to "domestic terrorism resulting from ascendant white nationalism" at all.
Is the following possible? Is it possible that white nationalism plays a role in some mass shootings, with mental illness playing a role in some others? Is it possible that mental illness and white nationalism could be commingled in some of these ghastly events?
Actually, no, that isn't possible—not in the current circumstance! According to the top anthropologists who report to us from the future through the mysterious nocturnal transmissions the haters glibly refer to as dreams, all hints of nuance would be disappeared whenever our floundering species, Homo sapiens, attempted to declaim its way through the types of events which defined tribal division during such highly fraught eras as this one.
"Simply put, the species was wired that way," these top future experts despondently say, gloomily speaking in the past tense, the troubling framework they constantly use when discussing the ways of our species.
Does mental illness play a role in our endless mass shootings? You'd almost think we'd want to know, but as soon as Mister Trump played the illness card this Monday, a furious push-back emerged from within our own unimpressive tribe.
Facts and logic disappeared as we tried to banish The Unacceptable Thing He Had Said. Consider the logic Our Own Rhodes Scholar spoon-fed us liberals this Tuesday.
The scholar seemed eager to banish ThumpThought. Midway through her eponymous TV show, she emerged from COMMERCIAL BREAK in the following manner:
MADDOW (8/6/19): In the aftermath of this weekend's mass shootings, the talking-point from President Trump and many Republicans, their central message, has been that the issue is not guns but mental illness. The president saying it's not guns that pull the trigger, it's mental illness that pulls the trigger.She could have quoted Trump precisely, but she didn't bother. She was eager to "prove" that the murky statement she attributed to the king of the Others was, in fact, "bull-pucky," just as she had now claimed.
Forgive me for saying this bluntly, but that's bull-pucky, and we can all prove it.
The scholar proceeded to "prove" her point in the following manner:
MADDOW (continuing directly): First, obviously, we as a country do not have a monopoly on mental illness, and yet only in America do mass shootings happen anywhere near this often. Beyond that, though, all of the studies, all of the research, disproves the notion that mental illness is the thing you should blame for mass shootings in America.As you can see, the logical leaps in the scholar's short statement are remarkably numerous. We'll restrict ourselves to just one of her many full-gainers:
Only a tiny fraction of violent crime is committed by people with mental illness. People who are mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than its perpetrators. So claiming this is a mental illness problem that explains what's going on in America with gun violence is bull.
"All of the studies, all of the research, disproves the notion that mental illness is the thing you should blame for mass shootings in America?"
So said the massively overpaid scholar. But how about if mental illness is one of the things you should "blame" for mass shootings?
Just for the record, whoo but a child would instantly turn to the language of blame? More to the point, who but a child would instantly suggest that we should engage in a search for one lone causal factor?
If you want to read the fuller transcript, you'll see the scholar rush forward from there to the claim that "Republican lawmakers do not mean it and are not serious about this supposed problem of guns in the hands of the mentally ill." It's there that you see her essential stance, in which she reduces this to a battle between two tribal groups.
As always, so too here:
If the Others have said it, it has to be wrong. It has to be banished from discourse.
Einstein was one of the most brilliant people in all of human history. It's also true that he wrote a barely coherent book.
Maddow is a trillionaire corporate-paid true believer. On the whole, our species is extremely tribal and isn't especially "rational" or bright.
At times like these, the bull[shit] flows! And if Einstein thought his book made good clear sense, what hope is there for us?
"The horror, the horror," Conrad's Kurtz said. Not to be gloomy, but given the way the rest of us function, is there any chance our own Samson will exit the Oval without tearing some large pillars down?