The Troubles of the Jews

The mind operates by means of emphasis, especially the mind in the grip of fear or anger. When it brings order to the welter of experience, the mind sometimes exceeds the requirements of coherence and proceeds to exercises in simplification. Out of our many identities, we select one; out of our many loves, we select one; out of our many threats, we select one. Life is more easily managed this way. And we fit in more easily this way: such choices are determined chiefly by how we wish to be known by others, and by what others demand of us in the way of personal validity in our time. And so we choose single symbols of ourselves, and the rest, which may include some of our strongest capacities, is left to languish, undetected and undeveloped. Complexity is never trending. It is true that the appeal to complexity can become complacent and ponderous and an alibi for mental inaction; but surely nothing of consequence is ever simple. Surely the truth about us is that we are many things, we have many commitments, and we suffer many troubles. We take our pleasures in many places. We fight on many fronts. Perhaps nothing is more responsible for our myopias than our politics. Identify friend or foe, to borrow the naval code, is the rule. Those appear to be the only kinds of other people in existence. The Schmittians among us should take heart: we are living in the dystopia that their sordid hero described. Consider the question of our security. Our future depends significantly on how we conceive of the “foe.” If we misdescribe the danger we face, our powers will fail us. But in keeping with our pathologically synchronized political culture, or, to put it another way, in keeping with the growing

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