The necessity of self-deception

Oct 26, 2011 at 5:00 am

One of the most interesting classes I took in graduate school was a philosophy course that posed the question, “Is self-deception possible?” This is such an intriguing question. Can people really hide the truth from themselves? We all know people lie to others about their lives every day. You’ve heard the bullshit just like I have — “I’m happy, I love my job, I’m blessed, I’m happily married and am still attracted to my wife/husband, I know I’m a good person, I don’t believe my preacher screwed those boys, etc., etc., etc.”

Of course, most of these people aren’t happy, they hate their crappy jobs, have doubts about God, have shitty marriages and haven’t had a decent orgasm in years with their boring ass mates, aren’t good people, and know the preacher definitely did the dirty deed and that’s why he settled out of court (yes, I’m talking about Eddie Long).

That said, more and more I’m convinced that some level of self-deception and willful ignorance (these are different but related things) are not only possible, but necessary for many people to maintain some level of sanity. Let’s look at our continuing political merry-go-round for examples.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll concluded 26 percent of likely Republican voters said they favored Herman “Godfather (as in Pizza)” Cain to win the GOP’s presidential nomination. This made Cain the new front-runner. Really? Crazy cowboy Rick Perry tumbled from 33 percent to 16. Unwanted Republican dinner guest Mitt Romney stayed steady at 23 percent to come in second (where he always is in these preliminary polls).

Let’s be real — Cain isn’t winning the nomination. You know it, and he knows it. Perry isn’t winning it either. Why? Because he’s crazy. Michele Bachmann is a joke. Ron Paul could win if, like his son, voting were limited to Kentucky. Since it’s not, he’s toast.

Even though the clownish Tea Party types hate him, Romney will win the nomination simply because he’s the best available, sane option. Everybody knows this, but we’ll play this silly game through next spring.

Yes, everybody knows this just like they knew Sarah Palin wouldn’t run. Why? Because Sarah Palin is an intellectual Lilliputian who has trouble constructing a comprehensible sentence. Palin knows that if she ever actually ran, she’d get a beatdown like Ali gave Foreman. Then her jig would be up. She’s gonna ride the “What if Sarah ran?” money train as long as she can.

She is a fool, but she is lucky enough to exist in a society of politically backward lemmings who gravitate toward stunted people like her to make themselves feel better. Like misery, idiocy loves company!

Some of this is the result of the dark times in which we live. With empty promises of “hope,” the Age of Obama has actually ushered in our latest bout with hopelessness. Politically immature or desperately suffering people who really believed in “hope and change” are now even more distraught. Now they either believe “Barack was a fraud” or “If Barack couldn’t change it, we’re really fucked!”

So, now we are no longer faced with political questions, but with psychological ones. People KNOW Cain won’t win, but like to convince themselves he can. They KNOW Palin won’t run, but convince themselves she eventually will … and could win. They KNOW Barack Obama has brought little to no change, but still argue that he has, wants to, or just needs more time.

They KNOW their local councilperson has committed crimes but still want to organize rallies to claim mistreatment. I’m sorry, but “everybody else is doing the same thing” is not an excuse or a defense. They KNOW their preacher is a hustler and whore. They KNOW their marriages suck. They KNOW they are mediocre, not excellent. They know it all, but won’t admit any of it.

Is this self-deception? Call it what you want. All I know is people know, but simultaneously don’t want to know … can’t know. They can’t face reality because it is too cruel, too stark. They must lie to themselves and others, because facing the truth would cause such a serious break in their fragile realities that many couldn’t deal with it.

My advice: In the midst of all this madness, live your life in such a way that you don’t have to deceive yourself. Peace and love to two men who did just that — Al Davis and Fred Shuttlesworth.