Pundits, part I

January 3, 2012

I have often wondered how pundits are supposed to serve.  I have this sense that we often labor under slight misunderstandings of how the systems we have are supposed to work, and the relationship between our punditry and our government is one of those for me.

So, I look, and I see pundits are somewhat independent but need access and want to influence.  In some sectors they espouse particular points of view, ideologies, even religions, or systems of more academic thought that are belief systems unto themselves.  I then try to discern how the pieces might be rearranged.

Like the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall.  I have heard this one rearranged so that Eve actually fell before she ate the apple.  In this version, she loses children, and when they die, they take with them pieces of herself.  (One expression of this concept is a song by Richard Shindell called “The Ballad of Mary Magdalene,” the part where she says “He walked off with this heart of mine.”)  The episode about the family of Rick Santorum taking home the body of their son to welcome him into their family before releasing him to God or to the universe, or however people conceptualize this, is a way of disentangling hearts and souls so that this doesn’t happen — at least, that’s my understanding of it.  If we don’t, we get complicated grief and protracted bereavement, kind of like an impacted wisdom tooth or deeply embedded splinter.

So, in this rearranged version of the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall, Eve has lost parts of her heart through her losses of children, and into this hollowed-out heart comes a spirit.  It’s not a “bad” spirit or an “evil” spirit, but it is one she is not adequately prepared to deal with.  Her lack of preparation is not a moral failing, but it is a fact.  And so she “falls” — falls into unrelenting despair.  Her despair leads to Adam’s, because he, too, is inadequately prepared to deal with this spirit (or energy, if that’s an easier concept to use).  It also leads to Eve’s understanding of the world in a new way, and that is her way out, through some sort of detachment through which the losses feel different and have a different significance, and she can find a path to a new stable and higher ground out of her despair.

She tries to share this way out of despair with Adam, and it doesn’t work the same way for him.  He processes the world in a different way to begin with, and this tool for Adam requires a lot more steps.  For one thing, he tries to do what she did through his mind and not through his heart, through his thinking apparatus and not through his relationship with the universe.  Why this is is a whole other story.  For this story, the simple point is that takes a huge amount of time and incremental steps, including my favorite part, when Adam and Eve trade genders in various combinations in order to help Adam utilize that part of the human apparatus for apprehending the world that he needs to use for this purpose.

And Adam and Eve do find their way back to the Garden.  Eventually they both are able to see the world in such a way that they don’t despair, because the world comes to look okay as it is to both of them, even pretty wonderful.  I think in the story, the Garden looks a little different from the way the old one looked, because time has passed, but that’s fine.  And Adam and Eve have to agree between themselves on what the Garden looks like, but they have the willingness to work that out, and despite some uncomfortable moments (the subject of countless other stories, including the episode in which Adam decides that Eve is just plain nuts, and then the one in which Eve fears this is so but this time it isn’t), they eventually do.

So, I would like to discern in a similar fashion a rearrangement of the elements of our current systems of government, media, business, intellectual thought, and understandings of helpful human behavior, with a view to having the engine of our society run more smoothly.  This is the context for my trying to figure out how, from my point of view, pundits can serve more helpfully — how the system is meant to work, and then, of course, how to get from here to there.

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