Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's
Number 822, May 17, 2015

Maybe they're just stupid

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Dianne Feinstein
Scarlett Johannsson
Scarlett Johansson
Dick Cheney
Dick Chaney

Dianne Feinstein: Menace or Threat?
by L.Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Most human beings possess a highly peculiar power: the "willing suspension of disbelief". Throughout history (and probably prehistory, as well) individuals who would rather make up and tell stories than actually work for a living, from Sophocles to yours truly, have relied on that ability—to forget all about dismal reality for a while and enjoy an entertainingly composed lie—for their daily bread.

That's how we got the great classical works of fiction from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. But now a new form has emerged. In 1976, Julian Jaynes published a work called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. His idea was that, at one time, the human mind was divided into two parts: the part we experienced as "us" and the part that did the real thinking. Those thoughts were received by the "us" side of the mind as the words of the gods; people didn't normally associate them with themselves.

Then, sometime around 1500 B.C., things began to change. (I'm not sure if we knew in 1976 that that's when the island of Thera had blown up, very probably changing the course of history.) It's Jaynes' view that an increasing population, the spread of trade, and the building of cities, threw more and more people into association with one another, and the terrifying discovery was made the everybody's "gods" told them something different. Frightened people sought confirmation from outside sources, temples, priests, oracles, and the gods fell silent.

Along the way to supporting this unique idea, Jaynes told many interesting stories. The Iliad, for example, the tale of the Trojan War, looks to have been composed on the other side of the Great Change as The Odyssey, the story of the man who destroyed the gods' favorite city, and the revenge they tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to wreak on him. The semantic evidence that Jaynes presents for this is utterly fascinating.

And, for the most part, that's how I approached the book. I never believed a word of Jaynes' bizarre theory but I couldn't stop thinking about it. It made me consider new things, in ways that I'd never done before. I don't know what you rightly call an intellectual undertaking like that. The author certainly didn't regard it as a work of fiction. The reader (this particular reader, at least) couldn't regard it as fact, and had to willingly suspend his disbelief to absorb and enjoy it.

I understand there's a new edition out. Get it if you can.

Now, I have gone to all of this effort so that my readers won't think I've lost it. Somebody on Facebook the other day asked a simple, if baffling question, and immediately my science fiction writer's brain went into gear all by itself, to answer that question. The results were startling, and fully as weird as Julian Jaynes' idea. I assure you that I don't believe them any more than I do his, but I bet you'll be thinking about them long after you're through reading this column.

The question, inspired by something truly stupid and inane Dianne Feinstein had said recently, was, if we know that carrying a gun can preserve a woman's life and dignity, and has reduced crime in double digits all over the country, then why is it that all of the women's "leaders" and spokespersons we hear (especially Feinstein) vehemently oppose the right to own and carry weapons? They claim to advocate women's health and welfare. Why do they oppose the machinery of self-defense?

A lot of answers came to mind. My first book editor always said that when I'm tempted by conspiracy theory, consider the possibility that they're just stupid. That certainly fits in the case of Dianne Feinstein.

There's also the very distinct likelihood that the only health, welfare, life, and dignity that Dianne Feinstein is interested in is her own. The former Mayor of San Francisco was discovered to be carrying a .357 Magnum revolver, once upon a time; maybe she still does.

Regrettably, my mind sped past all that. I had recently read that, among America's thousands of conspiracy theories, there was one held by a fairly large, well-established group who believe that Earth has been invaded when we weren't looking, thoroughly conquered, and is now ruled by reptilian overlords in disguise. Dick Cheney is mentioned quite a bit. Human beings are their slaves or supper, I'm unclear which.

It even occurred to me that maybe when we're stoned, we can see through the aliens' disguises, which is why most politicians oppose legalizing marijuana. On the other tentacle, maybe they're just stupid.

Now think about it: have you ever seen the slightest sign of human feeling behind Feinstein's dreadful, dead eyes? Any warmth or humor or human-like intelligence? My only question is why the hell an invader would adopt Feinstein's face as a disguise, but maybe our reptilian homesteaders entertain different standards. Me, I'd want to be Tom Selleck. I know a lot of ladies who would be happy to be Scarlett Johansson.

But we begin to understand at last: Dianne Feinstein isn't a human woman, She's an asexual lizard that can lay eggs or fertilize them, depending on what the ambient temperature happens to be. She has no special regard for human women, and the idea of arming them, whether as slaves or supper, is as thoroughly off-putting to her as "Cows With Guns".

Now go away and think about this for a while. It's not the truth, but it may lead you to some new ideas, especially about individual liberty.


Gilgamesh Epic

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

Julian Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

The Iliad

Robert Fitzgerald translation (the best I've read—Editor)

Lang, Leaf, and Myers prose translation

Translated by Edward, Earl of Derby into blank verse:

Samuel Butler prose translation:

Theodore Alois Buckley annotated prose translation:

William Cowper blank verse translation:

Translated into modern Greek by Alexandros Pallis:

The Odyssey

Robert Fitzgerald translation (the best I've read—Editor)

William Cowper blank verse translation

Butcher & Lang prose translation

Samuel Butler prose translation

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