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Seeing the Light

I have often wondered why the preponderance of left-liberal writing and expression-in-general has recently grown so wrong-headed, obtuse, hackneyed, tedious, stagnant, uneventful, dismal, shallow, and, in a word, dingy. Long have I sought for an answer to this nagging question as I struggled through the curdled murk of their engenderings, which clog the journals and newspapers and issue in a veritable blogjam of ideological muddle. I have gone through the whole almanac of leftist pundits from A to Z, from Andrew Sullivan to Slavoj Zizek, and emerged as baffled as ever.

And then it struck me. The clouds parted and the sun came streaming through. Plainly, the answer must have something to do with the dun and subfusc interior lighting in their homes and places of work, now that they’ve embraced the compact fluorescent lamp. For bad lighting invariably produces poor thinking. Of course, it’s true that some CFLs give off a cold, hard, spectral glare, which creates its own problems like migraines and skin rashes. Such blazing and frigid emissions can also lead, in time, to blindness. And even then, they need a time-lag to power up, as do the neural circuits of their advocates. Their effect is so noxious to reading and meditation as to scarcely differ from their duller counterparts. For the majority of these contraptions ooze a pale and depressing blear upon its victims, and continue to dim over time. It is these dimmies I’m concerned with here, which flicker fifty times per second and shed an erratic, uncertain light.

One recalls that cheerful little graphic common to animated cartoons, comic strips, and even idiomatic allusions in narrative and speech, signifying the sudden moment of mental illumination. A light bulb switches on and glows a lively yellow. This makes perfect sense: a thought sparkles and scintillates. Indeed, the analogy of light standing for intelligence and insight is also part of the metaphorical substratum of language. Someone is “bright” or “brilliant”; someone else is “dimwitted” or “lackluster.” One has a “flash” or “shines” in society; another is “dull” or causes a “pall” to fall on the company. The truth “dawns” upon one; an ignorant person is “benighted.” An entire historical epoch is known as the “Enlightenment”; another era crawls mole-like under the epithet of the “Dark Ages.”

Which prompts one to speculate. Figuratively speaking, what if the light bulb that goes on in one’s head, presumably with the instantaneity of a radiant thought, is not of the incandescent variety? What if it happens to be that ridiculous-looking curlicue, the compact fluorescent lamp, with its ghostly emanation of powdery saffron? How, then, could so feeble a diffusion result in anything that might resemble a splendiferous notion or culminate in intellectual effulgence?

This may well account for the dreary quality of liberal-left writing and thinking. For is it not glaringly obvious that the army of progressivists invading the public domain, all espousing the principles of the left, consists of the most ardent proponents of so-called “energy-saving,” “cost-effective” CFLs? Do they not regard themselves as sages, experts and redeemers, as selfless Savonarolas of spiritual deliverance? And do we not suffer in consequence, as is always the case when we are at the mercy of our saviors? The fact that the U.S. is shedding CFL-manufacturing jobs to China and so banishing its own workers into economic darkness is only another instance of such slippery-slope cretinism.

It gets even worse. No doubt already compromised by the drab half-gleam that shrouds their mental processes, they seem oblivious of the fact that if even one of these opaque, tapering spirals happens to break, it will release a hazardous substance into the air which, according to reports, can cause brain damage in children. Adults may not be immune either, judging from the verbal and textual productions of our modish intelligentsia.