Thursday, November 6, 2014

Apple Piety

On Monday, I advanced the proposition that gentlemen's clubs are a sort of "sacred space," that is, there's something special about the site and its purpose that renders it unfit for alternative purposes. Yesterday, at ST, I expanded on this idea a little bit: sacred spaces (under my ad hoc definition, anyway) are all around us—folks seem fond of fitting some places to a single purpose. Moreover, we're fond of training children in the rules of the sacred space. As the father of a toddler, I can assure you that teaching my kid to refrain from taking snacks into the bathroom is a lot closer to a catechism than it is to teaching her how to count to twenty.

And that catechism is the other side of the sacred space. After all, without the devoted, a church is naught but stone and mortar. If you'll indulge me a bit of an Augustinian digression, piety is the compound virtue that allows a sacred space to generate its rents. It's the demand side of the exchange, if you will. And recall that piety arises from the mixture of faith, hope, love, and temperance. Absent an Aristotelian mean, absent phronesis, piety slips into religiosity, fanaticism, or delirium. Since it is such a corruptible virtue, it is unlikely to arise naturally in any but the saintliest or most enlightened people. Luckily for the civilizations of the earth, there are thorough canonical works dedicated to cultivating virtuous piety, ranging from the Rig Veda to the Tao Te Ching to the notes of Maimonides to Aquinas's commentary on the New Testament. Or heck, even Paul's letters for that matter. Praying in the direction of Mecca five times a day instills piety via repetition, much the same way as memorizing passages from the Gospels, much the same way as spinning prayer wheels.

Much the same way as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

It occurred to me over dinner with Mrs. Spivonomist last night that the political elite has as much interest in generating secular piety for ordinary Humean reasons (i.e. to encrease the dominion of the sovereign). Witness the wailing and gnashing of teeth after the results of an especially decisive election outcome. Witness the style of language used in election season. Witness the devotion a committed partisan has towards her party. Such devotion is not the rational thinking of finding a first derivative; it is the glamour of the pulpit. And inculcating this sentiment is a lifelong affair, beginning with a daily prayer offered to the symbols of the state, its colors and its seals. And this bond of piety is cured in the sunlight of peer approval. When a muddy apostate dissolves this bond, he is shunned in polite society as surely as might be an atheist. What, after all, is the most common epithet against the anarchist? "Bomb-throwing" surely comes to mind. Does this accurately describe Lysander Spooner? G.K. Chesterton? Me?

Dear Apple, if you really want to generate expropriable sacred rents, you need to take a cue from the Roman Catholic Church or the "two"-party system: get 'em young, and cultivate their brand loyalty over a lifetime. use universal symbols, get them to repeat key phrases over and over again so that their piety comes as naturally as genuflection before the font. How else do you expect to generate an insurmountable BATNA disparity among your partisans?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?