Pain, Political Vibes, and Being a Bat

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.    -- Maya Angelou

Every Team Blue pundit and political consultant needs to take Maya Angelou to heart if they want their guy to have any shot – any shot at all – next November. I understand that their guy has bad vibes, that he doesn’t sound tough like Trump and he doesn’t sound smart like Obama, that his tone and body language screams … old. But he’s also won a few elections in his day, something that doesn’t happen if the candidate hasn’t internalized the truth of what Angelou says about the primacy of feeling over words. No, the core problem for Team Blue isn’t the candidate, it’s the team. Specifically, it’s the very online population of Team Blue journalists, academics and political operatives – people who are immersed 24/7 in the world of words and language! – and their dismissive attitude towards these thoughts of feeling and vibes, thoughts that don’t exist IN words but are just as real and valid – more so! – as thoughts that do.

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  1. Thanks Ben.
    Another fascinating read

  2. For today’s win. Totally.

    This is why I pay to read here.

  3. I think this article may be the Rosetta Stone for why so many college football fans are such nut jobs!

  4. “District One-speak for dumbasses” - LOL

    Tom Petty said it best: “You don’t know how it feels / To be me”

    Knowbetterism is always going to repel and then alienate a large part of the group its practitioners are trying to influence. Not only for educating voters but also for educating kids, which is much worse.

  5. Avatar for KCP KCP says:

    Well said/described.

    I’ll add two thoughts:

    It’s not simply the press, it’s the internal team of elves that sit in the Comm room coming up w/ “Schtick”…Kinda like the team in Elf trying to come up with Kids book plots to sell to the publisher before the Christmas deadline.

    They are awful and so far removed from reality but so close to what sounds - cool. Inflation Reduction Act - cmon, sounds so direct, on top of it as a stand alone title, but the substance of the Act is so FAR removed from the reality of the Act.

    But that’s “our problem” that we don’t get the connection - and that’s the Admin’s problems.

    The Admin believe their elves - desperate too believe - after all they helped so and so, they’re from the party, they are friends of XYZ lobbyist, their parents donated huge to ABC pac…maybe they are desperate to believe because they have to believe?

    But the public doesn’t buy most of what they wordsmith…not just words, but actions and people.

    Sorry to pick on Kamala but seriously put her as Immigration Czar (have we ever had a Czar?) and after fumping around looking for a root cause they haul her off and put her to lead a new US Initiative for Safe Artificial Intelligence? And then add another lead of the new WH Office of Gun Violence Prevention? Is the idea to spread her so thin that she cannot accomplish anything or to just name her to a bunch of bs initiatives to go to a bunch of “meetings” and “conferences” to make the Admin look busy.

    Oh and a really good people move after such a success as Immigration Czar.

    That’s how bad the elves are, they think the public applauds this stuff, except those irritating D-1 Low Info Voters.

    If Santa wants to keep being Santa, he needs new Elves.

    2nd point (a little of course here) on pain.

    I recently had a cold (1st in like 10 years) while on vaca in PR. I have a pretty broad band for pain but when it gets below that floor, i am a complete whiny, horrible, cantakerous person. Thankfully i sleep and read. This time i was all the bad stuff but on the beach, swimming, staying far away from others.

    After a few days, my wife made me take a Covid test and the red bar appeared immediately and strong. From that moment on i couldn’t sleep - i’ve never been more pissed that some person or entity created this highly contagious virus and to this day we don’t know why or for what purpose.

    If i had known that it was a mistake in a process for good purpose, i’d shuck my shoulders and say such is life - i got the man made bug.

    But we don’t and won’t know definitively - anger source #1; #2 is that this country has done nothing to attempt to restore trust in our institutions should another crisis like this occur (is it now happening again in China?).

    The elves did a horrible job during Covid, as well…

  6. Avatar for Pat_W Pat_W says:

    As Ben briefly mentions, there is not only non-verbal thinking, but it’s twin, non-verbal communication. In my experience it goes way beyond interpreting gestures and body language. It includes telepathy that fleshes out descriptions in immense detail, in a way that would require a LOT of words from someone centered in verbal communication.

    I spent 5 years in Guatemala where one friend in particular was a wonderful storyteller. In the early 1990s a lot of stories were about the war and also the long ago success of the senior Arevalo’s democratic election. One story in particular enchanted me and I asked my friend if I could record it. I did so, and later transcribed it. It was awful! The words he spoke were limited, boring, and not at all the story that I ‘heard’.

    I suspected an ability to project meaning beyond the words being used in a number of Indigenous acquaintances there.

    In Quich’e there is only one word for blue, one for green, etc. How could people then communicate the many rich hues of blue in this nature and art oriented language group? I asked a few people how they knew which blue was meant. I was given a puzzled look and, “we just know.”

    Words may be a smaller part of communication for the majority of us- it’s complicated.

  7. What sinks the Biden campaign? It’s not the candidate and it’s not the economy. It’s the attitude embodied by the umpteen hand-wringing, insider-sourced NYT and WaPo articles bemoaning how voters “just don’t understand” how good the Biden economy is. It’s the assumed primacy of words. It’s the pseudo-religious, dogmatic urge to explain why aggregate economic statistics are more meaningful than lived experience.

    In a note filled with insights and spot-on analysis this to me is the kill shot. The White House and their activist base in the press have responded to this problem with various forms of protest that take the shape of “you ingrates just don’t know how good you have it” which is bad enough. But the one that sinks this president is this line, which I’ve heard over and over again: prices aren’t up due to inflation, it’s because of corporate greed.

    For a moment let’s take that as 100% truth. Why did corporations wait until Biden was president to raise prices? They didn’t raise prices while Trump was in office. Isn’t a reasonably competent campaign SuperPAC going to run ad after ad pointing out this very thing?

    “Prices were lower when I was President. Even Sleepy Joe says so. Hell, he admits that corporations are raising prices on all of you, probably because they know he’s too weak and corrupt to stop them. Don’t you miss $2 gas?”

    That little riff or something like it can be in every single Trump rally from July to November, and people will soak it up. It’s a huge error that the Biden people have not only willingly made but they’ve gone out of their way to repeat frequently. And it all rests on one premise:

    They think you’re stupid enough to believe them and not ask any followup questions.

    I do not believe that strategy is going to work this time.

  8. "I feel very lucky that these are discrete experiences with a defined beginning, middle and end.’

    Especially when we experience the end…. Welcome back Ben.

    “I do not think in words or language when experiencing this sort of pain.”

    I’m starting to feel that without pain.

    “It brooks no distraction from linguistic constructions.”

    Words are wonderful tools but they are just tools.

    What I understand clearly is the tone of the people who are speaking to me and their movements/positioning around me, and I mutter vocalisms to communicate my assent/denial/gratitude. I am thinking fully formed and coherent thoughts, but they are expressed in my head not as words but as tone and gesture and non-linguistic vocalizations!

    The medium is the message….

    For at least 150,000 years – 30x the length of recorded human history – modern humans survived and thrived without the benefit of language and words, using tone and body language and non-linguistic vocalizations as a substrate for thinking and communication.

    I always thought I was so much better than the savages I came from. Not really

    It’s all about the flow, Ben. Sort of like a Cytokine storm during Covid.

    What is one thinking on a ventilator?

    We should ask the fortunate survivors?

    Keep writing Ben,


  9. I do wonder if the problems for Team Blue can truly be separated from the candidate. In the absence of vibes and reality you resort to…something. A #needtobetrue situation if there ever was one. The fact that over the summer ‘Bidenomics’ emerged as a strategy from the team blue brain trust told the story clearly and exemplified the dynamics you are talking about. Similar to DY’s comment on the ‘corporate greed’ line.

    Our lived experience forms the biological limit of Fiat World.

    This is a fantastic sentence. It simply and beautifully speaks to the nature of emergent phenomena in general. Fiat World is the natural consequence of the idea that you can model the world. “If we just had a better measure…”. But biology is paradigmatic of emergent systems (I just read that somewhere but I don’t remember where!) and bulk measurements alone will not provide understanding because you average away so much that matters. This worked when people largely believed that the world could be modeled, but now the zeitgeist is changing. Elites will remain wholly incapable of understanding this change because so much of what they need to be true is embedded in the old epimemetics.

    Another dynamic I am wondering about. It seems to me that the party in power is more or less forced by the nature of the system to be the participant that is reliant on the official measures. If you are in power and you disagree with the measures then you can change them, in theory. It seems like we see this flip flop regularly; i.e. if Trump wins all the sudden it will the Team Red brain trust crafting the cartoon fiat measures into narratives that conflict with many people’s experience. But with that said, I think the dynamics of Team Blue are more susceptible to the linguistic and measurement issues since the left’s cultural warfare strategy is centered on control of language. Among other reasons I’m sure.

    I’m not sure this is quite right DY, maybe I’m quibbling. I think a lot of people ask follow up questions but they go into the media and there is a lot of complexity and always plenty of missionary work to support their priors. I think both parties rightly believe that the vast majority of voters are autotuned such that those who agree with them will believe them. Not necessarily based on believing they are stupid. Elites have the experience that, in Ben’s frame, those whom are sympathetic are swayed by the linguistic strategy, and when necessary they will find a way to rationalize any conflict with their experience. Those autotuned against will have the opposite reaction, dominated by their experience. Based on the paragraph above, if Trump wins it seems to me that this dynamic could shift! Team Red becomes more sympathetic to the linguistic strategy and Team Blue strategy shifts to emphasize experience.

  10. Avatar for JD1 JD1 says:

    I’m following along until I get to,

    “ You can’t “educate” a human being on what their lived experience awkshually is. This is not a bug of the human condition. It is a feature.”

    & then I lose it. Can someone help me understand/interpret/apply the quote above?

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