Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

5.07.2006

Liberal = Former Nerd?

Because these rivalries are so permanent, nobody has ever voted for a presidential candidate they wouldn't have had lunch with in high school.

I'd be interested in doing a survey or something to see how accurate this is, but it makes sense from my experience. I participated in sports and other activities in high school, but I was never in with the jock/prep crowd; I was too shy, played D&D, and such. I didn't have much respect for the popularity games and lack of substance of so many of my peers. I took secret pride in the fact that I wasn't "normal," because I didn't want to be like them (even though in a small town you don't have many real alternatives). And now, of course, when I'm feeling unfair, I see my liberal self as politically more sophisticated and morally superior to the majority of conservatives. How about you?

"If My Opposite, my natural enemy in adolescence, was the sort of person who seemed overly aggressive, brutish and in love with power, I identify him with the 'conservative' position. If My Opposite, my natural enemy in adolescence, seemed overly sensitive, soft, cerebral and incapable of action, I identify him with the 'liberal' position."

And so it goes. In every high school there are students who are culturally and intellectually superior but socially aggrieved. These high school culturati have wit and sophisticated musical tastes but find that all prestige goes to jocks, cheerleaders and preps who possess the emotional depth of a cocker spaniel. The nerds continue to believe that the self-reflective life is the only life worth living (despite all evidence to the contrary) while the cool, good-looking, vapid people look down upon them with easy disdain on those rare occasions they are compelled to acknowledge their existence.

These sarcastic cultural types may grow up to be rich movie producers, but they will remember their adolescent opposites and become liberals. They may grow up to be rich lawyers but will decorate their homes with interesting fabrics from the oppressed Peruvian peasantry to differentiate themselves from their jock opposites.

In adulthood, the former high school nerds will savor the sort of scandals that befall their formerly athletic and currently corporate adolescent enemies -- the Duke lacrosse scandal, the Enron scandal, the various problems that have plagued the frat boy Bush. In the lifelong struggle for moral superiority, problems that bedevil your adolescent opposites send pleasure-inducing dopamine surging through your brain.

Similarly, in every high school there are jocks, cheerleaders and regular kids who vaguely sense that their natural enemies are the brooding poets who go off to become English majors. These prom kings and queens may leave their adolescent godhood and go off to work as underpaid sales reps despite their coldly gracious spouses and effortlessly slender kids, but they will still remember their adolescent opposites and become conservatives. They will experience surges of orgiastic triumphalism when Sean Hannity eviscerates the scuffed-shoed intellectuals who have as much personal courage as a French chipmunk in retreat.


Another one from the New York Times Select. If you don't have one, get yourself a library card. Then it's free.

Brooks, David. "Lunch Period Poli Sci.(Editorial Desk)." The New York Times (April 30, 2006): WK14(L).

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