Wednesday, January 23, 2013

High School

Because he put up three posts quickly, Sailer's High School did not show in my sidebar for long, and you may have missed it. I would dearly love for folks to comment here on that essay.

It touches on some common themes of mine (he and Tom Wolfe put my ideas better than I do, unsurprisingly), but my first reason for highlighting the essay is the ongoing examples of high school playing out endlessly in adult life.  I feel that in my bones, and have spent much of my adult life trying to shut it down.  Perhaps that reflects my move from liberal to...postliberal.  Others may not have experienced that strongly.  Others may still have it dominate their lives and be simply unaware.

I can think of a few like that, actually.


Texan99 said...

A commenter there said: "A mom who is not getting her emotional needs met will actually interfere with her son's social development and hope he gets an inferiority complex, so his unpopularity keeps him dependent on her for love and acceptance." Ouch. I've got two nephews in that predicament: two total failures to launch.

I don't remember being either popular or bullied in high school. A little alienated, I suppose. I'd have welcomed more attention from boys. For some reason, people don't bully me. I'm not sure why. I've never been a fighter.

Sam L. said...

I never got really involved in HS. Small circle of friends. Not the In crowd. Not athletic. Just studious.

I guess you could say I kept my emotional distance. I think I could say that.

Kurt said...

I really appreciated the article and have many thoughts relating to that and some of your other recent posts.

I must say, though, that while the high school theory is one that I've recognized before which helps explain a lot about the politics of many liberals, I am amazed that so few of them outgrow it as they become more successful in life.

I'd classify myself as something of a post-liberal, as well, except that I never was really a liberal. From about the time I was 16 until I was in my late 20s, I was an aspiring liberal, you might say. I classified myself as a somewhat left-of-center moderate, but I could never come out and identify wholly as a liberal because I was never actually persuaded by their ideas. At first I deluded myself with the belief that their intentions were good and intentions mattered, but the dishonesty and cynicism of the Clinton administration did very much to disabuse me of that naive belief.

jaed said...

My recurrent thought about some female pundits and commentators is that they never got out of junior high school. This has been occurring to me occasionally when reading or watching these women for a couple of years now.

Girls mature earlier than boys, so perhaps "high school" is the male equivalent. Regardless, girls in junior high tend to be at their nastiest, most group-popularity-oriented, most emotional, and least logical (at that age most girls are still using "practice logic" and have real trouble forming or understanding a logical argument when they have an emotional stake in the outcome).

People can be dishonest in an adult way or a childish way, and more and more, the dishonesty I perceive in political discussion is childish. The illogical argument style, the explicit call to emotion and the valorization of what's cool and popular as though popularity were an argument, the out-of-proportion outrage at being called on a problematic argument... this is the way an adolescent behaves, not an adult. Not even a thoroughly dishonest adult.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I had not thought of a male-female slant on this, though Maureen Dowd did instantly leap to mind while reading jaed's comment.

Though so does Frank Rich. If I had a picture in my mind at all while writing that post, it was of a male. Though that might just be a narcissism, picturing some version of myself and my own journey.

I will say that it does tend to be the people who were good at that part of the social game. I have to figure that Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton were socially skilled as youths. But as such, they perceived where the whole class of competition was likely to come from and became adept at defending the tribe against the competitors. This led to admiration within the tribe.

Clinton was brilliant enough to avoid making logical arguments in favor of his positions. I think he was well capable of making them, but realised that's a mug's game.

jaed said...

I think I'm just more familiar with the foibles of adolescent girls than adolescent boys - hence more likely to feel that shock of recognition when I see the behavior in nominal adults.

But certainly I do perceive illogic and childish modes of argument in some male pundits and commenters also. I think I'm less likely to think "junior high" and more likely to think "idiot" when I see it in men, though.