Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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December 09, 2006
the logic of dismantling a collective illusion

We all know what it's like as individuals to go through the painful stages of waking up from an illusion: the utter astonishment, the confusion, the questioning, the disorientation, the blame-casting, the relapses into wishful/magical thinking, the embarrassment, the depression, the rage.

What folks who watch the USA may now be witness to is the disillusionment ("unillusionment"?) of the entire national ruling class. Or its collective nervous breakdown.

Every illusion has at least some basis in reality. Collective illusions are tough to make sense of afterward in part because, well, how do you know all the parties saw exactly the same illusion? The question is not merely, "How do I know that they saw the same illusion I saw?" Rather it is also, "How do I know that the illusion I later accuse them of have chased is the same one they were actually chasing?" The intersubjective nature of it all makes it much harder to pin down the simple, coherent, non-dissolving, "sit still!"-ing answers that we want to have to the understandable questions: How much of what was said or done earlier was the truth? How much of it was just bullsh*t?

On top of that, you can't necessarily simply sit down unguardedly over a cup of coffee with each of your former partners in delusion and ask them to "just gimme some truth." How can you trust them? How can you be sure that they're any more in touch with reality the second time around? What if the alchemy of your individual subjectivities casts a new spell and produces a new round of collective illusion, all over again?

This is why it's usually better totally to demonize former co-members of the Illusion Collective, and eschew the risked additional pain of a thoroughgoing engagement with and demystification of the inner workings and mechanics of the former dream. It is why it is comfier, after you've already been through hell once, to go forward on half-information, cobbled together in solitude, than fuller information, collected "out there" in the confusing, seemingly endlessly hostile and disappointing world. It is why it is usually easier to stumble from the extreme of one familiar, pre-scripted illusion directly into the extreme of a superficially new      illusion.