Randomness, n. An element playing an increasing role in the
determination of political, public, and private events in American
Belladonna, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly
poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two
Witch, n. (1) An ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league
with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in
wickedness a league beyond the devil.
Bierce is, again, mistaken; as with ritualism, there are at least a
few ladies who are not so described, and it is bombastic to assume
that women hold a monopoly on the power to delude and set aside
Images play as focal of a role in current American culture as they did
in the medieval European culture, but the manner is different. In
medieval culture, images were symbols; in a cathedral, stained glass
windows and statues spoke a rich language and lore, literature for the
illiterate. Upon beholding images, a host of meanings would occur; a
detail was all that was necessary for a single picture to tell a
story. The image was a trigger to thought. Now, the image is a
substitute for thought; charisma has displaced reason.
This is candidly illustrated in the outcome of a recent election,
where one candidate fared poorly because, though he was a decorated
and courageous veteran, his physical appearance was weak and
Alternately, it may be seen in a political commentator whose opinion
and thought is held to be of immense weight by many Americans. It
would perhaps be inaccurate to describe his figure as chiselled, but
his manner and personality enable people to believe, through a
scattering of sound bites and quotes out of context, that he has the
monopoly on the truth.
The sound bite itself has become the modern unit of debate; in a land
that once paid attention to involved political debates lasting for
hours, it is now expected that any argument deemed credible must be
developped in seconds. Vivid language is certainly not an evil, but
neither is it a substitute for thought.
Due to these trends, it is chaos and charisma which carry the day.
Once upon a time, acting and politics were distinct professions.
Now... For a leader to be charismatic certainly does not preclude
being an effective leader, but neither does it guarantee wisdom. In a
sense, though, there is one point separating politics and public
concensus from a racetrack.
One of the horses has to win.
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary