Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Real Perceptions

I know I will probably read Unchosen, and I'm expecting it to be a tearjerker. I hope that the book does not rely on emotion in the place of scientific analysis. Still, I know (based on this review) that there are things I'll be looking for, which probably won't be there.

Someone else hasn't found something which might have been of interest, but at least it was not on the menu. Josh Harrison does a fascinating critique. He doesn't find a discussion of the mainstream:
Now, understanding such a phenomenon as happy Satmar women in 21st century America could prove a daunting task....Winston...didn't seem able to unpack this difficult, if promising topic.
As someone who would enjoy an opportunity to listen to beshpitzeled women, I'm a little sad that the author dumped that idea for the more predictable sensationalist topic of rebels. But that's what this book promises to be about, so let's move it along in that direction.

The influence of our grade-school American history curriculum, with all its glamorous detail of frontier life in colonial days, can't be underrated. I think Americans, as a cultural entity, have some predisposed softness with regard to rebels.

In a recent conversation, someone reminded me about an old friend, Sarah, who had been part of our group. With her own hands, Sarah has destroyed her family. Maybe I should be angry, but all I can really feel is a lot of "poor-baby"s for all concerned, and a sadness that it had to be this way. The humanity of the rebel does not need to be sold to me.

What I wonder is, will I get to see everyone's humanity? A comprehensive picture? Ludlum was fond of repeating that terrorists are made, not born (or bourne!?). Are rebels made? Are they born? A little bit of both?

Are they victims of circumstance? One wonders whether they remain in emotional/psychological victim mode for the rest of their lives. How does life look like, 10, 20, 40 years down the line? Educational, career, familial, and emotional status would all be interesting to hear about. Is there self-analysis to determine whether some problems are possibly internal? Or is it the background, first, last and always, and the heartbreaking need to rend oneself therefrom, which are the source of all misfortune in their lives?

What about the families? It's interesting to hear people's self-perceptions, but such perceptions are frequently not rooted in fact. How do the families perceive their wandering brethren (not as projected, but genuinely)? In the case of dysfunctional families, it would be interesting to know whether the subjects perceive dysfunction to be rampant. Like the alien who came to Earth, and had the misfortune of landing directly in the sewer. After spending some time in the sewer, he found himself back in space. The other aliens asked him what he saw. Naturally, he said that Earth wasn't worth much: dark, smelly, and really dirty.

How capable is someone who grows up inside of dysfunction at recognizing the abnormalcy of their situation? I could understand the projection of this dysfunction to an entire community, but that is, again, not rooted in fact. Are the subjects of this book clear about the distinction?

Finally, I would love to know how rebels who come back feel. If they leave, and then come back, how do they perceive the community? How do they perceive rebels?

I think these perspectives could add a lot to the picture of the rebel, though it might mar the smooth image of one man with a garbage bag.