A mind asleep creates monsters
This is not about some lack of knowledge or skills. This is about an incurable disease- the Ignorance in Heart.
Tommy Smothers at the Emmy awards 2008 ceremony said that the scariest thing possible was to witness Ignorance in action. The US certainly is unique in this aspect because unlike in other countries where though in abundance Ignorance in Heart tries to hide itself as an obvious vice, here it is a virtue, something to acquire, nourish and cherish as an invaluable tool on the path to success.
In the otherwise pretty decent movie An American President there is an episode of the official dinner in the White House with the President of France. During the dinner he comments that Louis the XVI would guillotine anyone who would not dance at his court. Everyone around laugh at the joke.
That statement was total nonsense. Guillotine was used for execution far further in time, during the spike of the French Revolution. King Louis himself and Queen Marie- Antoinette were both executed by the professional executioner Sanson. To put such words into the mouth of the French President character is total Ignorance because there is no way in Hell a real French President would have made such a mistake. French are obsessed with their history, study it thoroughly and it is a must for a French govt official to know such thing. Obviously it is a must for someone who wants to show something French on the screen to know about that French feature also. What happened was a typical lack of respect and it showed.
Ignorance in Heart is based on disrespect and nowhere that foundation manifests itself so openly as in the US. I would dare to hypothesize that total lack of arts education is one of the reasons for it because arts teach respect. The US religious tradition is by definition anti- arts and as such we have many generations of people (even in the showbiz here) who by all standards are subhuman- they totally lack the human appreciation of the efforts of the others and do not understand beauty. As such disrespect thrives and the devilish trifecta of arrogance/hubris/malice naturally fill the void.
Of course, this is very well reflected in the mass- culture of the movies. In the movie A Few Good Men we see the bright manifestation of that. In the end the smart attorney pushes the SOB colonel to testify that he gave an illegal order to administer Code Red (torture by proxy) to one of their ‘substandard’ comrades. At that moment the movie stops. It never investigates a simple conclusion that although the colonel surely gave that order he also surely did not tell them HOW to do that. They stuck the rug into the victim’s throat by themselves. That was their ingenuity. By all God’s and human laws lance –corporal Dawson and pfc Downey committed murder and they were murderers. But the movie as well as spectators clearly exonerate those two. There is even a strain of sympathy because ‘they stand on the wall’. The simple idea that none of us can feel safe if those standing on the wall are murderers does not materialize in any head whether on this or that side of the screen.
In the highly revered West Wing series President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen is supposefully a very bright man. So bright that he ‘teaches’ democracy to the delegation from Byelorussia. The historical fact that the nation of Byelorussians had existed as a coherent one and had its own institutions for thousands of years is never mentioned. President Bartlett represents the West ' wing' and the West is 'good' by default.
Life imitates art. During the recent debates between the presidential candidates Ignorance in Heart filled the room so much that sometimes it could be physically felt. It was in questions and answers alike. What kind of a question is that if the future President sends the troops to the sovereign nation of Pakistan to ‘get’ someone we do not like? And what kind of an answer is that yes, surely if necessary? What kind of a question is that if our President unilaterally goes to war if Iran attacks Israel and what kind of an answer is yes, surely?
I called those debates the debates between the werewolves. Only werewolves would so calmly dismiss everything human, everything normal and just proceed to satisfy themselves and the crowd. Normal human being would have dismissed those questions as inappropriate. Normal human would not howl about ‘Russia behaving badly’ or ‘KGB in Putin’s eyes’. Normal person would understand how ridiculous that sounded. Normal human would never bark about sending more troops into the ever-suffering Afghanistan as if we had not done enough mischief there. Normal person would have mentioned with dignity and honor a horrible human toll of those two abominable wars- close to 1 million dead. But there were no normal people in those halls- just a coven of werewolves.
Ignorance in Heart rocks in the USA. It manifests itself in the imitations and illusions- the replacement of the real problems by the artificial ones. Like there is a real problem- a horrible education crisis in the US: the K-12 develops zombies. Instead the problem of evolution vs. creation is introduced and vehemently discussed. There is a horrible problem of lack of normal birth-rate: families are in financial crisis and do not have children. Instead, we all here fight against each other on the topic of abortion.
Another great manifestation of this disease is the wrong authority. Instead of proper scientific conclusions we have …. ‘many controversial statements’. Like the whole world knew about the harm of tobacco to humans but here we had to settle that in courts. On the other hand the whole world knew how good was tobacco as a natural pesticide but here we killed even the idea about using it that way. In arts and entertainment instead of Dorothy Parker we now have Oprah, instead of Mark Twain we have Jay Leno and instead of Mel Brooks we have American Carol. Instead of humor we have mockery, instead of good taste we have lowered expectations, instead of ‘Honest work for honest pay’ we have ‘I am honest until proven otherwise’. I bet no one can say where I got that latter quote.
One of the most unfortunate symptoms is the false exaggeration of the pseudo-historical figures. With all respect, George Washington was a good general but all his victories are minor compared to one battle at Waterloo. Thomas Jefferson was a capable man but surely not even close to Russoet or Voltaire. Benjamin Franklin was a great guy but as as scientist he was no Bernoulli. In fact when you read the writings of the Founding Fathers you see the compendium of banalities and clichés. They were, in fact very marginal people, no offense. Surely Lincoln was a great man but much less as a human being than, say Tolstoy. General Grant was a capable commander but in no way even close to Kutuzov, Nachimov, Napoleon I or Garibaldi. Sorry, folks, that’s how it is and no arrogance and no ignorance can change that. The perfect proof of the tough problem we are facing is that the greatest woman of the US, Martha Corey, the one who in 1692 reached the zenith of heroism and glory by calmly saying that there were no witches still is not mentioned practically anywhere except for the Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Cemetery.
Yes, it is important to study arts. Art varieties are the faces of the cultures. Every culture has its own art and whoever understands it would always respect those people, their soul. Whoever read and appreciated Omar Khayam would never sing ‘Bomb Iran.’ Whoever visited and admired at least the L’Hermitage would bite his tongue before judging what Russia does. Whoever had seen and understood the Damascus steel process would never utter the abomination about ‘Obama is not an Arab, don’t you worry’. Whoever read and understood the books by Akutagava Runoske would be very careful when making any statements about the fascinating culture of Japan. Whoever really read at least a piece of the ‘The Knight in the Tiger Skin’ would think twice before judging what is good or bad for the ancient country of Georgia. And whoever read at least Mzuri by Lermontov would understand and appreciate the eternal bonding between the Russian and Georgian nations. But understanding is a key. You have to have a soul, to be a personality to understand.
The mind asleep creates monsters. The great Spanish genius Francisco Goya drew a series of paintings Horrors Of War. If our children would have studied those, seen those at least in reproductions we, the Americans most likely would not have so many wars. Because whoever had seen those and felt together with the artist would hate wars forever. That feature of the character has to be developed; it does not come on its own. It comes with the mind awake. But that is not what our children are taught, not what the people who rally now are taught either. So, the crowds of people with their minds asleep shout and howl that they are angry and mad and the werewolves on the podiums tell them that it is all- right to howl, it is all- right to be mad.