Saturday, January 14, 2006


It appears that there is a new genre of writing called "creative non-fiction" (also here and here). This is simply one of many new irrationally innovative strategies we see in many fields that have developed in order for a person to get their agenda across without having to rely on old-fashioned concepts like truth, facts, external objective reality, or reason.

Sometime back I wrote about the paranoid ranting of a particular congressman and commented:
This is the Left's new version of Descartes' "I think, therefore I am". In their view, "I feel it, therefore it is", seems to sum up their entire philosophy of life, as well as the nuances of their "thinking". Evidence or facts are entirely unnecessary.

The congressman and others like him are therefore indistinguishable from the sickest paranoid delusional patients I have seen. And, paranoid patients generally don't accept they are sick or that there is something wrong with their thinking either.

Neo-neocon also discussed this "feeling" versus "thinking" problem that the Left seems to be suffering from:
But I think this coming-up-with-ideas thing is going to be difficult for liberals. They seem to have reached a point--and I hope I'm wrong about this--where they are more interested in feeling than thinking (like some clients I've known). Now, feelings are all very well and good, and we certainly need to have them, but nowadays it seems as though many liberals feel that, if their hearts are in the right place, that should be enough. Many (and I number among them some of my very best friends) feel the right is full of heartless Scrooges, so it's not all that necessary to counter the ideas on the right, it's just necessary to call people on the right nasty names (which isn't to say that there aren't some heartless Scrooges on the right--but it's a mistake to think they predominate).

A paucity of ideas, combined with a rigid fundamentalist belief in one's religion ideology and an obsession with what you feel; what you need; what you want are the hallmarks of not only the new creative non-fiction genre, but also of current political discourse. ME, ME, ME; it's all about ME!

You see, these days, all one has to do is be passionate about one's cause. It is the passion--the emotion--that gives what you write or say validity; not the truth or falsehood of the tenets of your cause.

This is not to say that feelings are not an extremely important part of one's life--they are. But they are not an accurate barometer of truth or falsehood. They measure only the internal state of the individual experiencing them. I discuss emotions and reality in this earlier post, where I said:
A person's visceral response to another individual is usually based on mostly unconscious factors that are in play in the responder's life. To make an assessment of the gut feeling's appropriateness, the contents of the unconscious must be explored and brought to the conscious level and considered. Those unconscious internal conflicts can easily mask the inappropriate aspects of the feelings, making them worthless as a means of understanding the external world.

Taking this kind of action as a method of checking and understanding one's own feelings is a process called "insight" or "self-awareness". Some people do this quite naturally and honestly. Some learn in therapy or when they are in crisis. But if insight is absent then one's feelings have the potential to do great harm --both to one's self and to others.

Some unconscious factors, or psychological defenses, that can make one's feelings untrustworthy are: 1) the person you are responding to has become symbolic of someone else in your life (displacement, fantasy, or perhaps distortion); 2) focusing on one particular aspect of a person, you ignore other, more objective data that are available to you about the person (denial); 3) you place your own unacceptable feelings onto the other person--e.g.,I'm not an angry person, -- he's an angry person! (projection or full-blown paranoia).

The truth is that there are countless ways that unconscious processes within ourselves can distort our responses to others and to reality itself.

Growing up and attaining maturity requires that we take a moment to consider such factors playing a role in our emotions before we act on those emotions. If we come to know ourselves and understand our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, limitations and secrets; then our emotional responses to people or to the world can be very valuable tools to help interpret the world. But they are only tools, and if not used wisely, they can do more harm than good. Feelings cannot be used in a court of law--for good reason. And they are not ultimate truth in the court of reality, either.

Without realizing it, the Left--by shifting every argument to the playing field of the emotions-- has embraced the malignant narcissism so characteristic of our times.

Why do I say that? Because when you talk about your emotions and how you feel about the facts--instead of the facts themselves, the topic of your conversation is only about you.

"Those evil Republicans make me feel so angry because they hate poor people!" Sadly, this irrational statement happens to be "true" to a lot of individuals. And, who can argue with them? Because if you argue with them you are going up against an indisputable assertion. After all, only they know what they "feel". They have just told you what they "feel". What they "feel" is what they "feel". And you can't dispute that, can you? They can always respond no matter how often you ask them for documentation and/or evidence that the statement is true by saying, "It's just what I feel anyway."

They also say this when you provide them with documentation and/or evidence that the statement is false.

You may notice that you never can quite get around to a real discussion of the issues and the facts of a matter because of this emotionalism, or--as I often prefer to call it--their hysteria (definition: behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess). Long ago, it used to be thought that hysteria occurred only in women (hence the derivation of the word); but it is now fully appreciated that the emotional excess and over-the-top expression of feelings is a hallmark of 21st century political discourse.

I have not yet read James Frey's runaway best-selling book A Million Little Pieces; but since he has admitted lying about his experiences as a alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal; it seems safe to say that this is simply yet another person to take advantage of the cult of professional victimhood; and who has been lionized and idolized by the narcissistic crowd that reveres feelings and emotional excess above everything else in life.

In this example, both the author and his readers have achieved the much-desired nirvana--which is a belief in, and reverence for, the "fake, but accurate" meme (as seen in the Rathergate affair and followed-up with ongoing success by Mary Mapes in her new book).

"Fake but accurate" simply and concisely reflects the essential hallowness of the narcissist who espouses it; and has nothing relevant or even true to say about the real world.

UPDATE: BTW, I don't have a problem with anyone writing anything they want. But trying to pass off your fiction as non-fiction seems somewhat intellectually and morally fraudulent; not to mention completely self-serving. Most autobiographies are, of course, fairly self-serving--but generally such authors exaggerate their importance or achievements in order to try to make the reader love them all the more. That is plenty narcissistic, but what can you say about an author whose goal is to make himself completely unlovable and grossly exaggerates his misdeeds in order to achieve the same result? And what do you say about the audience? De gustabus non est disputandum.

UPDATE II: Bill Adams at Idler Yet has some interesting thoughts on the subject.

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