The White Queen’s Boast

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

One fashionable example: “Surgery, or even a simple incantation, can turn a man into a woman.” Presumably this works by sympathetic magic. Tiresias required a miracle from Hera

You can easily find other examples in which we are assured that the evidence of tradition or our eyes is all wrong. And I know a man who assured me that before he dies, technology will have advanced to the point where his mind can be downloaded into a computer.

How did we get here?

You might cite Chesterton’s famous non-quote “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything,” but the former happens a great deal and the shape our belief systems have taken seems unique.

Older fashions–for example, admitting spectral evidence–were shaped by the religious and scientific understandings of their era. A witch can strike at a distance; the murdered man’s body will bleed in the presence of his murderer, etc. (Ironically, earlier church canon law (1140) forbade belief in witchcraft.)

If you know something of the details of the technology and engineering that goes into the “pocket miracle” of having light appear when you flip a switch, you won’t mistake that for a miracle–and I hope we are appropriately grateful for all the invisible effort that goes into it.

But if you get used to “pocket miracles” (everybody has Dick Tracy’s “radio wristwatch” now) and don’t think about them, you risk not understanding their limits.

I think we have a science fiction culture. Or, if you like, a Willy Wonka culture of “pure imagination”. We can imagine anything. So many things have come true, why can’t they all?

SciFi&Fantasy isn’t our religion. But I think it informs the way we look at the world.

If you can dream it, you can have it. And if you can’t, you can blame somebody else’s dream for interfering.

The Guide laughed. “You are falling into their own error,” he said, “the change is not radical, nor will it be permanent. That idea depends on a curious disease which they have all caught–an inability to disbelieve advertisements.

6 thoughts on “The White Queen’s Boast”

  1. “You might cite Chesterton’s famous non-quote “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything,” but the former happens a great deal and the shape our belief systems have taken seems unique.”

    One might just as well say, “The first effect of not believing in the Great Green Grasshopper God is to believe in anything.” The logic is just as compelling. Which God was the author of the quote referring to? After all, the two most prominent examples, the Christian and Moslem Gods, are mutually contradictory. Indeed, Muhammed stated quite explicitly that anyone who believes in the Christian God will burn in hell for billions and trillions of years, just for starters.

    Sam Francis predicted where we are and explained how we would get there with uncanny accuracy in “Revolution from the Middle,” published in 1997. However, the revolution against rule by globalist elites he hoped for to restore our country to some semblance of an actual nation instead of a mere geographical entity never happened. Francis himself suggested that one reason it might not happen was the transmogrification of the genuine conservatism of men like H. L. Mencken into a religious movement. His words are worth quoting at length:

    “The real problem with the religious right is that, in the long run, its religious vehicle won’t carry it home. If they ever ended abortion, restored school prayer, outlawed sodomy and banned pornography, I suspect, most of its followers would simply declare victory and retire. But having accomplished all of that, the Christian right would have done absolutely nothing to strip the federal government of the power it has seized throughout this century, restore a proper understanding and enforcement of the Constitution and of republican government, prevent the inundation of the country by anti-Western immigrants, stop the cultural and racial dispossession of the historic American people, or resist the absorption of the American nation into a multicultural and multiracial globalist regime. Indeed, the Christian right for the most part doesn’t care about these issues or even perceive them as issues, and in so far as it does, it not infrequently lines up on the wrong side of them.”

    “Thus, the religious orientation of the Christian right serves to create what Marxists like to call a “false consciousness” for Middle Americans, an ideology that appeals to and mobilizes a socio-political class but which does not accurately codify the objective interests and needs of the class and in the end only distracts and deflects its political action and ultimately works to buttress and reinforce the dominant regime.”

  2. So, the “Christian Right” accomplished nothing ? I’m agnostic but respect the religious tradition embodied in our Declaration of Independence. HL Mencken was a cynic and thought Coolidge was a fool. That doesn’t sound very conservative to me. The current younger generation (and some of their left wing elders) believe in magic. They say you can “stop oil” and do without fossil fuel, ignoring the role of petrochemicals. Arthur Clarke said,”Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That is not exactly true but to the credulous the other famous quote applies. ”
    “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”
    ― George Orwell

  3. You don’t get it.

    The core of the transgender claim is that gender identity is in the brain. Which it is: there is definitive evidence that humans “know” what genders they are independently of the body. In a few, very very very few people, the neural gender identity doesn’t match the rest of the body .

    The M-t-F with such actual Gender Identity Disorder “is” female – in this particular neural attribute. And there is a visceral sense that what is in brain – and so in the mind – is the “real” self.

    In this view, SRS does not change the person’s sex, it is “gender affirmation”. (IMO, this “privileges” the brain.)

    I’ve known two MtF transsexuals personally. Both told me that from early childhood they “knew” they were female, and that living as male was profoundly uncomfortable. Neither could realistically “pass” as women, even with hormones and surgery; they did the best they could, and asked for toleration.

    Your “realistic” position implies flat rejection – which for such people is rude and hurtful. I read of a somewhat analogous case: a Jewish couple who adopted non-white children. Some of their relatives referred to the children (in their presence) as “the mamzers” (Yiddish for “bastards”).Those relatives would claim they were just saying what was obviously true.

    BTW: none of the above implies an iota of acceptance of the horde of “genderfluid”, “genderqueer”, “non-binary” perverts who use GID to flaunt their deviance. Nor for the greedy and/or trendy counselors and doctors who have stampeded confused children into unnecessary mutilations.

  4. A serious drawback of social media is the presence of tedious bores who imagine that they’re entitled to talk down to everyone else because they “don’t get it.” The basis for this pleasant fantasy is often the fact that they’ve been able to commit one of the more banal talking points of some ideology or other to memory. They then venture forth on the Internet to “enlighten” the rest of us with this pearl of wisdom, even though anyone who can read has long been perfectly familiar with it. Apparently, RR is claiming James the lesser is the one who “doesn’t get it,” because the subject isn’t mentioned in the other comments. Here’s what James actually wrote:

    “One fashionable example: ‘Surgery, or even a simple incantation, can turn a man into a woman.’ Presumably this works by sympathetic magic.”

    But according to RR,

    “The core of the transgender claim is that gender identity is in the brain… In this view, SRS does not change the person’s sex, it is ‘gender affirmation’.”

    Which begs the question, what is RR spun up about? James didn’t speak to this “core claim” at all. Indeed, long before there even was an Internet, transgender people used to post classified ads announcing that they were pre- or post-operative, seeking to meet up with others of a similar persuasion. To the best of my knowledge, neither James nor anyone else ever batted an eye about it. No, what James objects to is people who actually believe that sex reassignment surgery really does change a person’s sex. That is the genuine core claim that not just James, but I and many others object to. It has now become one of the standard claims of the transgender lobby as well.

    The fact that this is the case is obvious. Otherwise, why would that lobby insist that males be allowed to compete in women’s sports? There would be no rational basis for that claim absent the belief that surgery really can “turn a man into a woman.” Similarly, there can be no basis for the claim that men with prominent erections should be allowed to ogle women in sorority dorms and restrooms if they are not “really women.” How would they dare to vilify and intimidate people who claim that sex is binary and determined by our gametes unless their real “core claim” was that men actually can physically change into women and vice versa?

    The idea that this isn’t a “core claim” of the transgender lobby flies in the face of the reality we can see all around us. It is used to justify mutilation and administration of dangerous drugs to minors, drugs that are claimed to be “safe” without any scientific basis for that claim whatsoever. It is used to usurp the authority of parents who are denounced as dim-witted Neanderthals for daring to object to such “gender affirming care.” It is now causing the bowdlerization of science itself, as pointed out in a recent paper by Professors Jerry Coyne and Luana Maroja:

    Both of these academics have identified and would certainly be seen by most conservatives as progressive leftists their entire lives. They just happen to be progressive leftists who respect the truth. What, then, is RR’s problem? Here’s the kicker:

    “Your ‘realistic’ position implies flat rejection – which for such people is rude and hurtful.”

    In other words, we are to believe that the ongoing vilification and intimidation of dissenters, the usurpation of parental authority, the destruction of women’s sports, the violation by men of spaces that are intended to protect the privacy of women, and the subversion of science are all justified, because RR considers “realism” about biological sex “rude and hurtful.” The truth matters, and a lot more people are being hurt a lot more severely right now for insisting on it. It’s unfortunate, RR, that you “don’t get it.”

  5. The M-t-F with such actual Gender Identity Disorder “is” female – in this particular neural attribute. And there is a visceral sense that what is in brain – and so in the mind – is the “real” self.

    Wow ! I must have come in late. What creates the brain ? Chromosomes ? And one characteristic of chromosomes is that there are two sex chromosomes, X and Y. The X chromosome is dominant as to phenotype, that is the appearance. If a person has only one X chromosome, that person has “Turner’s Syndrome and looks like a small stature female with a webbed neck, multiple other anomalies and is sterile. XX is a normal female and XY is a normal male. There are rare anomalies such as “Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.”, which in severe cases results in a normal female phenotype except sterility. An example of this is actress Jamie Lee Curtis. In spite of her XY chromosomes, she is an attractive female with adopted children. I don’t know her but she seems well settled in her female identity. I remember when she was diagnosed. She was a child with normal female genitalia but had inguinal hernias. When they were repaired, testes were discovered. They were removed as there is risk of cancer.

    I had a fraternity brother whose sister was probably another case. She could also have been a Turners. Turner’s Syndrome is much more common.

  6. Well, that range of comments gave me more to think about on more elements than I usually expect in one thread.
    Quick observations- Mencken’s version of the American right has been dead for decades. Secular, more or less materialist, rationalist, humanist [probably human supremacist now], a little racialist, a lot culturist [to not quite coin a phrase], urbane, cultured, deeply contemptuous of the rural, the worker, the religious. Basically the right wing version of the progressives of that era as now, just actually conservative and even reactionary in some ways, and progressive mainly in technological and commercial ways. For a very rough sketch. I’m not saying I can’t find a lot to agree with- I’m pretty secular, always lived in cities, and so on, and Mencken is a gold mine of quotes. But even the more secular right doesn’t much look to anything like his worldview.
    The coalition among religious right, economic conservatives, anti-communists, traditionalists, paleocons and the emergent neocons is dead of course as it always was bound to be. I have no idea what answer there is. But I do often feel that the religious wing doesn’t care at all about the issues that seem most striking.
    That point about gender in the brain made me more sympathetic to the ‘realism’ of TG claims but, with Helian, I can only note that tolerance for people in that particular situation is not remotely the demand being made of us now. We are far beyond.

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