Saturday, August 9, 2014

Temporal sneering works in both directions

For progressive consideration:

It's possible, though not certain, that some future generations will look upon my views with disgust and contempt. But it's pretty well certain that most past generations would have looked upon your views the same way.

If you're not bothered by the latter, why in the world should I be bothered by the former?

I'll try to appease Augustine, Aristotle and Aquinas' imagined views of me, thank you. What a hypothetical barista thinks of me a hundred years after I'm dead doesn't concern me nearly as much.


Jakeithus said...

The funny part is our hypothetical future barista will probably look on today's progressive with the same condescension, as in the future all "right thinking" people will likely hold positions that today's progressive couldn't even imagine supporting.

Crude said...

There's that too. I'm pretty amazed that some people are now seriously drawing a line in the sand over gay marriage of all things, thinking the current success of such is going to be looked upon as some kind of triumphant moment of correcting a horrible past injustice and... etc, etc.

From my perspective, this is a First World Problem of the highest order, and in a hundred years - if the world is sensible (a risky bet) - people will look back at the whole thing in a 'Good Lord, the shit people think is important' way.

Ed said...

Re: "Think how stupid you'll look in 40 years!"

I pointed out to a friend rthat if I'm right about abortion, and the remainder of society comes to see it that way, these days will be seen as a holocaust of an unimaginable order. "Stupid" will not be on the table of possible descriptors.

I've also pointed to "chronological arrogance" when arguing, too.

Anonymous said...

Personally I've long thought that future generations would generally see us pretty much as Nero's court is portrayed in "Quo Vadis?": decadent, corrupt, out-of-touch, and with no regard for the lives of those we think beneath us.

Crude said...

I think the 2010s in particular will be thought of as 'That decade where acting like a complete pansy and getting really worked up over small shit was cool'.

Gay marriage in particular, if I had to bet, is eventually going to be seen as ridiculously quaint. Like mass marches angsting for the right to wear top hats during summer or something.

Syllabus said...

Gay marriage in particular, if I had to bet, is eventually going to be seen as ridiculously quaint. Like mass marches angsting for the right to wear top hats during summer or something.

This an interesting point. Do you think this because you think that the motivations/arguments (such as they are) behind the push for gay marriage are, I don't know, really specific to this particular cultural moment? Or do you think this because you have a coherent/thought-out opinion on where the culture will be headed? I'm genuinely curious.

Crude said...


I think the passion over gay marriage doesn't have much of an intellectual root - it seems to be incredibly artificial. That's little more than a subjective impression, only the barest beginnings of an intellectual argument, but it's what I see and part of what informs my view here.

For one thing, there's this animation over the importance and necessity and tragedy of gay marriage... in a culture that seems to hardly give a shit for marriage in any other context. A good snapshot of this is France, where passing gay marriage (on a public that, despite their widespread and cultural secularism, didn't seem to thrilled about the idea) was a top priority for the Socialist government. A literal million-man march, complete with gay atheists marching along with them in opposition, didn't slow the government down on this move.

A socialist government headed up by a guy with four kids by two domestic partners, in a culture where no one bats an eye about that situation.

It's clearly a post-marriage culture, at least for the secular population - the very population that angsts so hard for gay marriage.

I'm trying to think of a comparison, and one I can think of us: imagine if Tiffany's refused to sell diamond wedding rings to gay couples. (You should read about the founder, btw. Interesting guy.) Further imagine this happened right during a major decline in interest in wedding rings, period, but especially diamond rings - blood diamonds, etc. But suddenly it became of paramount importance for a sizable share of the culture that Tiffany supplies diamond wedding rings to gay couples - it's painted as a matter of civil rights, paramount importance, a kind of bellwether indicating whether it's 'safe' to be homosexual, or whether gas chambers are around the corner.

The passion at the time may say one thing, but an unbiased observer would, I think, find the whole thing completely nuts, and needlessly dramatic. I think that's what we have here. Whatever sustains the frantic craziness over gay marriage will not last. Not because the country will necessarily become so much more conservative, but because the particular issue just has so many things weighing against it in terms of marking it as something to give much of a shit about.

GoldRush Apple said...

A timely post, Crude, since I often wonder how my writings come across.

If it helps, your posts will come across for more reasonable and thoughtful than my writings. I most likely just sound like as a batsh_t crazy stereotypical "wingnut."

I suppose borrowing a somewhat 'modern' mentality helps: Who cares what they think. Whoever 'they' are.

Matthew Schultz said...

At seminary one of my professors speculated (somewhat convincingly) that future generations will look back on us and wonder why in the world we were so (selfishly) obsessed with material prosperity.

He also suggested that the entire Enlightenment project of strong individualism would be a blip on the historical radar. In some ways, it already is, given how many cultures are traditionalist (and continue to be so).

Anonymous said...

For a Christian, it's pretty much the same thing.

Unrelated note, the motivations or phrases behind such 'rights' movements are actually quite culturally specific, Crude knows this because they've been burning down academia.