Pollsters and pundits are beating their heads against the wall trying to figure out how they got it so wrong in their predictions for American elections. Nobody thought that the presidential race was going to be so close. Everybody thought it was going to be a blowout for Biden. And as for the Congressional races, rather than picking up seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats actually lost seats. Finally, rather than picking up perhaps five or six seats in the Senate, as the experts had predicted would happen, the Democrats have picked up just one. Yes, there is the possibility of more seats from the runoff elections in Georgia. But, by now, the Democrats should have been able to develop a comfortable lead in senate seats. It didn’t materialize.
So what are we to make of this? What is the cause of the fairly decent showing by Trump and the Republicans in the elections? On one level, we can say that, even though he lost, some seventy million voters remained loyal to Trump. And what generated his support? Here we get into the idea that I have proposed that Trump is a wild free-floating figure who shocks people out of the incredible numbness they feel living in modern technological society and the experiential vacuum that it creates. And as for the Republicans in Congress, they make people feel abrasively alive by a policy and philosophy that is very punishing to the average workers. These, on one level, rather than being focused defined discrete causes are very subtle seemingly infinite vacuumized causes. The vacuum leads to wild and abrasive reactions from Trump and the Republicans which lead to strong support from the Republican masses. These are just not the kinds of causes you can point your finger at and say “This is it!”
But the modern world is almost exclusively concerned with finding defined discrete causes for everything that they can. And this is, of course, the result of the fact that people today rely on science, technology, math and logic as the only principal sources of truth. And data, formulas, and logical statements are the main meaningful units of truth today.
As I have stated previously, there are at least two other meaningful categories of causes to consider. There are blurry flowing blendable continual causes that are very difficult to pin down in terms of when and why they start. When exactly and why do two people fall in love? When and why does a riot start? Why do some performers become very popular and others not so much? The responses would be very ambiguous.
Finally, there are the infinite vacuumized causes generated by the vacuum of space that underlies everything in the universe and, in particular, the experiential vacuum that people experience a lot in modern technological society. This is the most subtle category of cause of all, which is why I spend so much time focusing on it in this column.
The reason so many people spend time today on puzzles – whether crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles or watch television shows like “Jeopardy” or “Wheel of Fortune” is that they all reduce life to the first kind of causality. Life becomes a defined discrete problem to be solved. And this is the way we gain control over it. A straight line series of steps or points on a pathway to a solution.
The flowing blendable continual paths of causality are too blurry to be controlled in the same way. No wonder most people in modern technological society try to diminish their importance. The best way to deal with these paths of causality is to flow with them, to commune with them, to experience them and feel more vibrantly alive because of them. Trying to control this kind of causal pathway is impossible. They are not susceptible to logic or science.
Finally, there are the infinite vacuumized causal pathways which have led to all the strong psychopathology we see in modern humans. Just as in a physical vacuum where there is a random distribution of atoms, so a vacuumized numb mind leads to randomized pathological behavior, which is intended to shock a person back to life and out of the vacuum. On the one hand, the vacuum can lead a person into a life of stillness, numbness, even psychological paralysis. On the other hand, it can lead to abrasive, aggressive destructive action. Many of these destructive actions can be found among Trump supporters who are definitely trying to shock the American society by refusing to admit defeat.
Yes, I know some people will point out positive vacuum causal pathways like a vacuum that is conducive to being involved in certain activities like meditation, yoga, pot and some other drugs. But none of these activities is conducive to an active engagement with life. Instead, they lead to a passive fatalistic mediated approach to a life that frequently also becomes increasingly engaged in screen reality. Not the kind of approach conducive to making and preserving strong organic imprints and building a personal surrogate immortality in preparation for death. In truth, with the pervasiveness of modern screen reality, living a rich vibrant life is difficult indeed.
© 2020 Laurence Mesirow