Forecast: Cloudy times, with a good chance of precipitate moral outrage.
In the course of a recent archaeological investigation of my hard drive, I came across the following screed, composed sometime in the mid-1990s, judging by associated potshards of popular culture and carbon 14 dating of toast crumbs. At some point back then, I relegated part of it to a character in Yawn, a novel (now out of print).
You find a kind of free-floating moral outrage at large, these days. What with the failure of the Western metaphysic and changing times and widespread uncertainty about what’s what, the ambient outrage can precipitate around almost anything. If you’re a woman, and you aren’t happy, then this is a moral outrage, and someone is responsible. If you are a black, or a Chicano, or bald or short or stupid, and you aren’t happy, this is also an outrage, and somebody’s got to do something about it. You get entirely unself-critical, narrow-minded moral warriors appointing themselves good-conduct monitors for a civilization and coming up with plans to reform all of society. Converts to such causes tend to show all the intelligence, courtesy and humor of neo-Nazi football club supporters.
With those of us more prone to cynicism than indignation, it’s easy to get caught in the crossfire of moral outrage.
Chloe wrote that in her notebook. It sounded good, but what was she really saying about herself? Cynicism, in the final analysis, wasn’t much different from wishy-washiness. It only posed as something tougher and more potent. It was just as much a cop-out, a refusal to commit to anything.