In my dream, someone smart writes "A Real and True Historie of Human Pathology," a genealogy of fuckedupness right down to each woman, man, and child in recorded history. Nate Silver and all the other data geeks make charts out of it, tracing patterns across time, geography, political history, fashion, and pop culture, and it is laid bare that all hurt and hate and fear and resulting dehumanization is a defense against a trauma whose origins are long forgotten.
Little pocket epiphanies begin to emerge among those minds minimally
prepared by acts of ordinary kindness and small sacrifice, and when they
do, they make that popcorn-popper lip-smacking sound from the Seinfeld
theme. Seinfeld himself is awakened to the true nature of suffering,
which is such an extraordinary event, all the network and cable news
desk devote the full evening broadcast to covering it.
Even people whose minds are clouded by hate and greed and
self-righteousness are able to recognize that something important is
happening, even if they can't understand it. They try to pass it off as a
distraction ginned up by whichever Outgroup they most despise, but are
not themselves as fully convinced by the maneuver as they are
accustomed, and an edgy malaise begins to take hold in their glands and
Some very angry people are made so uncomfortable that they commit acts
of violence against members of the hated Outgroup, or just innocent
passers-by, but there has been just enough of a shift in consciouness
among law enforcement, the media, and the chattering classes, that these
outbursts are instantly seen as part of a long human chain of
inhospitability reaching back millennia. This recognition deepens and
spreads the epiphany, until more and more it becomes the standard frame
for understanding cruelty, revenge, and demagoguery.
Social scientists resign their posts in droves to atone for having
contributed to such an erroneous public understanding of human behavior.
Hamas and the Israeli Knesset both dissolve themselves without ceremony
and call for new elections. Security walls are torn down, but there is
an overwhelming sense of courtesy and respect for the other's
sovereignty and space that each population has to practically beg the
other to join them in cafes, homes, hospitals, wedding banquets and
New peace talks are immediately opened, and just as immediately put on
hiatus due to the nearly constant bouts of weeping over the other's
misfortunes. It is decided that the negotiations will be replaced in the
short term by a period of mourning, with weekly grief ceremonies
spontaneously taking over all the official government buildings
throughout Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
The notion spreads. Soon, Greeks and Turks are weeping, Shia and Sunni. Even the Russians are weeping. Even the Russians.
Then I wake up.
Photos from our Brooklyn Show
2 years ago