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some more thoughts on Bobby Hill

March 9, 2011

Walking across campus, or driving without a passenger and with nothing pressing on my mind, I get a lot of good thinking done.  On the way to the drycleaner’s today, I thought about:

1.    How, this morning, the university maintenance workers said, “they’re pushing our guys out of jobs,” referring to “them boys from Zebulon,” a trio of Hispanic men who have put up three new office spaces on my hallway in the last two days. They probably are working for much less than what the University could conscionably pay its employees, and it is probably awkwardly silent while the Zebulon crew hangs sheetrock and the University guys are around doing the wiring, resenting the interlopers. And that is the problem with politics. When the University guys talked about getting pushed out of jobs, I found it very hard to dismiss them with the usual points about how immigration is good for our economy and our country. It is hard to say to someone who perceives that they are suffering directly at the hands of a very specific Other that this Other deserves what you have, deserves to take it from you. From this level, it is not so difficult to see where certain political rhetoric gets a somewhat legitimate start (but I still don’t forgive the ugly ways it manifests itself).

2.    Whether ideological purists are boring or not. I think they probably are boring, but maybe I’m morally deficient for putting “interesting” higher on the hierarchy than “moral.” I am talking about vegans, feminists, fat acceptance activists, Christians, locavores,  Democrats, Republicans, anarchists, yogis, a whole big motley crew. What I mean is, isn’t it sort of boring if someone can guess ahead of time where you will fall on every issue, what decisions you’d make, the talking points you’d use to back them up? At some point, do you lapse into intellectual laziness, comfortably borne along without having to do much thinking because other people already did it for you and laid it out in an easily digestible way? Furthermore, if you are an adherent to some ideology but you sometimes secretly and guiltily thrill to the knowledge that you have broken the ranks on some small matter, well, how bad are you? How guilty should you be? How much harm does it really do out in the universe? I DON’T KNOW! But anyway, I think I was originally thinking about the role of such characters in fiction, and got sidetracked.

3.    IS King of the Hill secretly liberal, or conservative? I’ve decided that I can’t tell. Bobby’s non-gender-normative proclivities sometimes seem to me to be very affirming of the non-normative, but other times it seems they’re being played for laughs and we should side with the exasperated Hank, who just wants his boy to be a boy. On the other hand, sometimes we are supposed to laugh at Hank for being a rigid old fuddy duddy, and cheer him when he accepts Bobby as Bobby is. I think I will have to re-visit the text.

Finally, I wish it weren’t so pretentious to speak into a Dictaphone or similar device, because while I am thinking and driving, or walking, obviously, I can’t also be taking notes. And I also can’t tell what’s worth remembering and returning to later. In many ways, I dread the dawning of our brave new world (nasty extreme climate, humanoid androids, server farms growing exponentially, landfills also still growing at a good clip) save for the thing where they got some scientist to tweet directly from his brain. FROM HIS BRAIN. I can’t wait to be able to think things right onto the page, because it is in the transmission from brain to fingers to page that I most often get tripped up.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 10:48 am

    Point #2 reminds me of this paper Susan Wolf wrote called “Moral Saints.”It’s a really good paper! You should check it out!

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