Comment on Forum contents, 9-21-12. –Robert M. Shelby.

Hi, Marc! Today’s Forum page? [9-21-12] What a brilliantly explosive bombshell for people who can not only read but read their own and others’ readings at the same time! It’s too bad that a couple of our frequent writers seem to lack that ability. What a lucky coup, to find Jim Pugh sandwiched between Carolyn Plath and Harvey Rifkin! If Jim were still able to grow, he would carefully attend to what Plath and Rifkin say, absorb their implied values and, at risk to his ego, discover in himself a better and more real person.

Carolyn delivers one grinning jewel after another! What self-deprecating evidence of real superiority she displays again and again, writing about disparities between simple ignorance and complex self-doubt. Harvey shows the broadening scope of his reliance on well-analyzed fields of fact, explaining how “visceral racism” can deeply subvert an otherwise intelligent person’s self-conscious and believed commitment to race-tolerance and sociable equality. Between these two, Jim stands nakedly transparent. I don’t like to see him that way. He deserves better of himself..

For years now, Jim has tried to turn Obama into a shrunken voodoo doll, sticking him full of critical pins, a magical effort to drain political life out of him. According to Jim’s magical reasoning, an “enemy” reduces to “nothing but” early influences and bad mentors formative to a “character” that cannot develop or grow further. Does Jim in this way mirror himself? While beating up Obama for  “incompetence” Jim repeatedly reveals his own willfully malicious substitute for perception coupled with weak judgment. Somewhere in Jim’s life, he failed to achieve intellectuality, becoming no more than a warrior, defensive and paranoid. His mind is all armor and weaponry, his method only constant attack. This is terribly sad.

Writing about Frank Marshall Davis’s relation to young Barack Obama, Jim reveals inadvertently how he views individuals as nothing more than small parts of conceptual systems that may or may not govern visceral relations to life and other people. But, every person is potentially more, even other, than how he or she and others see and imagine that person. A human life is not more closed as a system than the rigidity or fluidity of its conceptual relation to self and others. Where a web of ideas more abstract than concrete takes control of perception, some sort of human damage is not far off.

Good education begins in, or rises to, anthropology and semantics, followed by immersion in the humanities and one or more scientific disciplines. Technologies are add-ons. I am tempted to include political science more with technology than with the humanities, though it crosses over. The same is true of sociology and economics. Law and business? Look out. These straddle too many contradictory value systems to be taken up without firm grounding in the good, general education indicated above. Let none enter law, business or rise high in the military without a more general and sympathetic understanding of the world than a specialized view, or one may turn into a General Douglas MacArthur or a “Fat Tony” Scalia.

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