The perfectly imperfect thing

Of all possible virtues, the finest is the perfection of imperfection. The title Rhinoceros Horn Fan refers to a case in the Blue Cliff Record, a famous collection of Zen koans, in which a master and his attendant have a conversation:
One day Yanguan called to his attendant, "Bring me the rhinoceros horn fan."

The attendant said, "The fan is broken."

Yanguan said, "Then bring me the rhinoceros!"

Friday, October 31, 2008

American politics, race, and reality

Never mind for the moment the uncritical acceptance into discourse the concept of race as anything other than an invidious, divisive term in place of genuine recognition of ethnicity, language and culture.

Americans in a few hours will be choosing between a articulate, inspirational, and talented black man, and a not very successful product of the US military industrial complex.

With all the talk about the possible influence of the Bradley Effect, I propose that a countervailing force at work is the Patton Effect. Once in the voting booth, folks who would never have considered doing so will vote for the black guy. Why?

"... When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers ... AMERICANS LOVE A WINNER AND WILL NOT TOLERATE A LOSER. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed."

- George S. Patton, 31 May 1944

1 comment:

John Tarrant said...

Not relevant to your Obama point, but inter alia, the English and somewhat their colonial offshoots, rather admire a plucky loser. Mallory, unequipped on Everest, Scott at the South Pole. Though Shackleton got all his men back through incredible feats after losing his ship in the ice, Scott became a legend. As Cherry-Garrard mentioned in his own book, "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." Accepting imperfection seems related to seeking difficulty.
There are some advantages to this point of view from the rhinoceros horn perspective.

Also re Patton, this time possibly completely irrelevant, I just ran into an intelligent person who grew up during WWII and who believes that Patton was assassinated by his own side. Which I suppose adds interest.