It's human nature to be in denial. How else could we bear the multitude of horrors we're exposed to every day? But outright delusion? Not so healthy.
Years ago, I briefly dated an attractive, intelligent therapist. I thought we were two peas in a garden-variety neurotic pod until our second date. When, over a seaweed salad, she described how she'd telephonically healed a client's tumor via "energy waves," I hoped she was kidding. Then she "visualized" the contents of my living room, intuiting chairs and a couch that didn't exist. At this point I began to doubt her grasp of reality, but she was so unusual -- and did I mention attractive? -- I decided to give it another shot.
Our third date started out promisingly. She came to my house, -- don't ask about the couch and chairs -- made dinner and we built a fire. Things had just started to get cozy when she sighed and, apropos of nothing, asserted that she could make "a certain Doris Day movie" come on the Lifetime Channel just by thinking about it.
Now I needed to make her see her delusion. So I asked, Socratically, "Would the movie be listed in the already-published TV Guide?"
Without missing a beat, she replied, "Obviously." I countered, "But then how could you be making it happen now, by your thoughts?" She nailed me, replying, "Oh, I get it. You're looking at time as a 'linear phenomenon.'"
Thankfully, I've forgotten the rest of the evening.
American presidential politics often have a similar theatre-of-the-absurd quality.
Think Ronald Reagan's patently false, self-serving World War II "recollections," which his speechwriter Pat Buchanan later defended by saying, "For Ronald Reagan, the world of legend and myth is a real world. He visits it regularly, and he's a happy man there."
Delusion is the neighborhood to which Republicans have returned to explain away their recent "thumpin'." Has-been Karl Rove, master of the vicious personal attack, pontificated in the Wall Street Journal that "Mr. Obama's victory was personal rather than philosophical," as though Barack had simply won a popularity contest.
It's more than two months before Inauguration Day, but talk show bullies Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have decided that we're in an "Obama recession." And South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint told CNN on Sunday that "Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government. They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them." And the Democrats would?
Back to Pat Buchanan. The omnipresent conservative pundit argues that if it weren't for that pesky financial meltdown, everything would have been fine for his party: "Perhaps no Republican, in these circumstances, could have won." Earth to Pat: the crisis isn't an invasion from outer space; it's happening because of Republican policies; they've had the Presidency since 2000, the Supreme Court since before that -- remember, they put W. in office in the first place -- and controlled Congress from 1994-2006.
And in the universe according to Pat, the liberal media are also to blame: "... the feline and feral press went on a wilding attack on Sister Sarah." Feline AND feral? Wilding? Sister Sarah? Oh, my!
Speaking of Palin, her delusions are many and hilarious, but here's my current fave: When asked why she waited until nine days after the election to hold her first news conference, she replied, straight-faced, "The campaign is over."
Maybe, as some scientists postulate, we live in one of an infinite number of parallel universes, each with its own laws of physics. In that cosmos, there could be a universe in which these excuses would make sense, and Sarah Palin might actually win national office.
It might even be possible to conjure something on the tube just by thinking about it. But would it be in the TV Guide? And why a Doris Day movie? How about a third season of "Mad Men," a reunion of the cast of "The Honeymooners" or a bonus episode of "The Wire?" You say they haven't been filmed yet? Oh, I get it -- you're looking at time as a linear phenomenon.
No. Our universe is absurd enough, and it's the only one we've got.
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