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Defeating Fascism (American Style) (3)

June 29, 2017

We must become more conscious in our imagining, and thereby more healthful in our imagining, imagining life more healthfully. The struggle against F(AS) is a struggle for the imagination, by the imagination, in the soul. A healthy imagination, individual and collective, can see that.

But we’re like a group of Plato’s cave dwellers, sitting on the floor, shivering while we entertain ourselves by watching our shadows. We’ve been taught to think that those lumps are the only form that a shadow can take. It doesn’t occur to us to get up and dance. We can’t imagine that.

If an AI person came to Earth from Out Where, on a mission to understand the nature of human beings, the first thing they would want to know (or one of the first) would be what we imagine life to be like. Then, how limited is our imagining, and what is the source of the limitations. From that information, they would know the state of soul in our species of being.

In American politics, when they got to it, they would observe that some of us refuse to “imagine that.” Rick Perry (who once tried to masquerade as a dancer) is a good example: he imagines a God who will not allow His creation to heat up so much that His favorite creatures find it hard to go on living in that environment. Perry’s sick, fundamentalist religious imagination tells him that it would be sinful to imagine such a thing (and his Fossil Fuel Fascist enablers tell him it would be bad for his finances). Fundamentalist and FFF ideology limit his imagination of life, his imagination of his god, and his god’s imagination. It says, Don’t anybody move!

This paralysis of the soul, as if brought about by a fatwa against any act of imagining, is a fundamental prohibition of life.

Extending the Plato thing: we Americans tend to fixate by literalizing and absolutizing our imaginings. In other words, we tell ourselves that we are not imagining. We are thinking, God dammit.

Some people imagine so literally that their imagination is like an eye that has dried in the socket of a skull in the desert. The other eye failed to develop during gestation. (Maybe I heard that from Bly?) They are monomaniacal throughout their lives. Their spines have fused, upright as poles. Their hearts are chunks of sandstone. Their brains are like tattered flags in the wind.

Many Republicans and Libertarians imagine that there is a God who plays favorites, and who wants people who don’t live up to His very highest standards—in His image—to be punished; and so those Rs and Ls, God’s chosen ones—in their image of themselves—abandon their god’s unchosen, forcing them to live in poverty, deserving whatever vile fate they suffer.

Mitch McConnell imagines a Repeal and Replace Medicaid Act that takes billions away from providing Medicaid for recipients in heavily medicaided states such as Nevada and West Virginia, and gives that money to the very richest Americans in the form of tax cuts. And Mike Pence imagines Americans taking “personal responsibility” for their own health care by getting born into one of those rich families.

So it’s not that Americans aren’t imaginative at all. Hair Trompf is an excellent example of someone who is plenty imaginative. But his imagination is so dreadfully sick. It is limited by his personality disorders to what serves his ego, in the form of gold and control of people. Trompf imagines the world as his oyster, in which he is the pearl. Some things are priceless, but exact a high price.

For a brief example of a healthy American imagination, I’ll use Bernie. He can imagine, for instance, an America in which we, each and all, take personal responsibility for our own health and health care, and for each other’s health care, by forming a national community insurance pool, such as Medicaid for All. The result is a healthier national community, with lower costs and lower premiums, and no insurance company billionaires.

Imagine no billionaires. Can America become healthy enough to imagine that? Bernie can; and it was his healthy imagining, his “vision,” that attracted many people to him. In other words, all those people demonstrated the healthy imagination. They were imagining every American as a person, with inherent, high value, and with the ability to imagine their lives richly and healthfully, together.

That’s a large part of why the author of this novel decided to rename it, in this re-vision, “Bernie.” The imagination—its nature (healthy or sick), and its central importance in relation to the soul, is thematically big in this novel, including the imagining of a healthy, workable, anti-hierarchical community.

To defeat F(AS) we will have to effect a profound modification of American culture. To do so requires a healthy American imagination. We must begin, together, a return to good health.

A lot of us are working on that. We can do it!

[Pages (1) and (2) of this episode.]

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