Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's The Point?

Ghost Party--"Change Your Mind" (mp3)

Do two people who disagree about something ever really change their minds after they've heard each other's arguments? Is there anyone who believes that can still happen? Did it ever happen?
If I spent tonight flipping through an old JFK-conspiracy book and thought in the back of my mind that I'd like a friend to read it, would there be any value in passing that book along? Would my friend make even the slightest shift away from his lone gunman views? If the book exposed a lot of chinks in that armor, wouldn't he, in fact, be inclined to be even more determined to believe what he already believes about the JFK assassination?

Would it matter that there is video on YouTube of the top Secret Service agent in charge of Kennedy's security detail ordering the two agents who were assigned to be Kennedy's "human shields" off of his car? Would the confusion of those agents give my friend pause? Would it matter that in 1969 in an interview with Walter Cronkite, LBJ confessed that he still had significant doubts that there was not an international conspiracy? Or that that part of the interview was not shown until 1975 in the interests of "national security?" Is it irrelevant that Jack Ruby, the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, worked for both Al Capone and Richard Nixon at different times in his life? Do you really believe that he murdered Oswald to spare Mrs. Kennedy the pain and anguish of a trial?

If there ever emerged compelling evidence to the contrary, would I change my mind? Do you really think that's likely? Is there such a thing as overwhelming evidence of anything?

If we were talking in class today about writing a book review and we came across one reviewer's admission that he didn't think that anyone choses to read or not to read a book based on a couple of reviews, wouldn't we have to ask ourselves why anyone would write a review in the first place? Why offer your feelings on a book if you know it will not cause anyone to read it? Why trash a movie in print if flocks of teenagers are going to go see it anyway against all reason?

Don't they say that the human brain's thinking can fall into patterns and ruts, especially as one grows older? Wouldn't these repetitions make it almost impossible for someone to think about something in a new way, especially if he or she had been thinking in a particular way for a very long time?

Do we have a greater need than changing someone's mind? Isn't it, perhaps, more important for us just to get heard, just to cause some kind of reaction, even if we suspect that it is going to be negative? Do we even try to seek agreement? Or does the person with the most power eventually get his or he way?

Isn't this our frustration with modern television, particularly with shows run by talking heads? Do they ever make a concession of any significance to the other side? Don't they instead just talk in parallel paths, barely acknowledging the other side, except to try to show how wrong that side is? Did you ever notice that sometimes they already know what they want to say and start to say it as if they didn't even listen?

Can anyone even admit that he or she is wrong anymore? Why must everyone's first instinct be to deny everything? Is Shaggy's illicit sex romp of a song called "It Wasn't Me" actually the wisest social commentary of the 21st Century?

What can we do about this? Is all human discourse undermined by our inability to change the way we think? Is there any point in trying to offer a different perspective? And, most of all, why am I only speaking in questions?

8 comments:

troutking said...

I would read that book on the JFK assassination.

Bob said...

I already put it in campus mail to you this morning, just because it's entertaining.

Billy said...

Never underestimate a human being's capacity to ignore that which risks upending a comfortable assumption.

But you're still kinda funny about the whole JFK thing.

Bob said...

Yeah, no kidding. I got sucked into the YouTube JFK Assassination Conspiracy vortex last night. It's hard to get out of that thing in one piece. Right now, I'm wondering if you weren't involved somehow.

But, Jacob Rubenstein, man, oh, man. No doubt.

troutking said...

That's just anti-Semitism.

1. What group would use an unstable loser like Ruby as their assassin? The Mob? CIA? They have professionals. Doesn't make sense.

2. How does it help to have Ruby shoot him? Now he's in jail and can talk.

3. If Ruby was a professional hit man, why didn't he shoot him earlier at the midnight press conference before Oswald has so much time to talk? And, why was Ruby at Western Union 4 minutes before he shot Oswald in the basement? Even if he knew what time he was coming out (which requires more people in on the conspiracy), he still would have gotten there a little early to make sure he got him.

4. If it were a conspiracy, why has nothing concrete come out in almost 50 years? The number of people who have to be involved makes it impossible that it would have stayed secret for so long.

5. Having said all that, I look forward to reading the book.

TommyD said...

ahhh, late, drunk nights in Seoul...good times, good times.

George Dyer said...

Can anyone disagree with you if you only ask questions?

Bob said...

TD, obviously, I have reflected on that night in Seoul while writing this.

George, that is a good rhetorical question. touche.

Jeff, the debate continues. I will say, though, it's a pretty fun night on YouTube if you're ever up for searching through some of that stuff. There are some superior version of Zapruder and some other films I hadn't seen. I must admit, I'm not convinced at how easily the film taken from the other side of the street can be enhanced into showing the shooter on the Grassy Knoll. They say he looks like David Ferrie; I think he looks more like Officer Tippit.