June 12, 2024 in News by RBN Staff

source:  blacklistednews

Published: June 12, 2024


In an 1817 collection of essays titled Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays, the English literary critic, William Hazlitt, argued that what made Shakespeare such a great writer was that his characters are perfectly natural—that is, motivated by complex and often conflicting emotions that they often struggle to resolve. Shakespeare’s characters never conform to a polemical or ideological scheme. We are moved by them because the thoughts and emotions they express seem so real, vivid, strange, and surprising.

I thought of Hazlitt’s book a few years ago when I attended a play in New York written by a young and aspiring playwright. The plot was what happens when a black girl arrives at college for her freshman year and discovers that her assigned roommate in the dormitory is a white girl who has tacked a Confederate flag on the wall over her bed. A polemical debate ensues that reveals nothing about the characters apart from their disagreement about the Confederate flag.

The play was embarrassing to watch and I felt sorry for everyone involved in it because they apparently weren’t intelligent enough to recognize how dumb they looked. This morning I was reminded of this play when I saw the following Tweet by the Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson:

Intrigued by this Tweet, I did some further research and found a recording of a conversation in which Peterson hypothesized: “People who are less verbally sophisticated are more likely to gravitate towards all-encompassing, simple theories.”

This strikes me a plausible explanation for what seems to be the unifying theme of all Woke ideology—namely, its reduction of human affairs and history to a crude, black and white schema with no complexity or nuance.

Thus, if you are frequently puzzled by the bizarre statements and behavior of Woke people, consider that they are even more confused than you are.

POSTSCRIPT: Shortly after I posted the above essay, I received multiple texts from friends who informed me that my apparent intention had not been understood by critical commentators. It seems to me that, though Jordan Peterson did not explicitly state it, he was reflecting on college educated people who are drawn to Woke ideology.

One commentator—Michael Brownstein—interpreted my essay as “a put-down of the so-called salt of the earth.” For the record, I frequently hang out with the so-called salt of the earth—that is, guys who did not go to college—and I can assure Mr. Brownstein that they are not interested in Woke ideology, but find it mind-bogglingly stupid.

It seems to me that Jordan Peterson’s observations confirm the same phenomenon that George Orwell famously described in his essay POLITICS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, which describes the silly nonsense that infects the minds and prose of many college educated people.