Casts of Mind
"perhaps to be too practical is madness, to surrender dreams this may be madness"
There's a funny section in Jane Jacobs 'Systems of Survival' where she illustrates how differently someone with a commercial syndrome mindset views things vs. how someone with a guardian mindset views things. In the book, Jacobs weighs the benefits of a society like medieval Europe where people are separated by birth into either a guardian life or a commercial life vs. our current approach which allows people to do whatever they please, allowing greater flexibility, but potentially at the cost of some moral confusion.
Anyway, I only bring that up, because the most rational, most commercial syndrome minded pundit in Canada is, in my opinion, Dan Gardner, so I was wondering ahead of time how Gardner would react to the two week, irrational, Guardian syndrome festival that is the Olympics.
Gardner didn't let me down, as he churned out post after post after column after post after post after column after post after post after column after post after post after post after post after post after post after post on the Olympics, every last post critical, with all of the posts amounting at root to Gardner pleading with Canadians to stop being so irrational, taking pride in the Canadian athletes when everybody knows that you only buy medals not win them, or that athletes have to work too hard as children to become world champions or that McDonald's food isn't necessarily the healthiest choice or whatever he felt might serve his goal of convincing people not to support the irrational Olympics.
The funniest part was in the comments on this column, where commenter 'Shiner' repeatedly, politely, tries to get Gardner to admit that maybe people just like to cheer for the home team to win and if that's irrational, who cares - but Gardner was completely incapable of even acknowledging the question, getting more and more upset and snippy throughout the exchange without ever engaging Shiner's main point. To the pure rational (commercial syndrome) mind, any activity that doesn't promote comfort and convenience is irrational and rational is a synonym for 'good' or 'right'. The notion that something could be both irrational and good just doesn't compute.
Most of the time, a commitment to rationality is a good thing, as when Gardner is debunking homeopathic medicine quacks or pointing out the inefficient way we go about satisfying our obsession with security. But during the Olympics, an uncompromising commitment to rationality just seems a little silly. Speculating, I think that may be part of the appeal of the Olympics - in a world dominated by rational commercial thinking, the Olympics represent a rare outpost of acceptable guardian type activity. Anyway, not to worry Dan, the Olympics are over now, so you have a couple of years of unrelenting rationality to look forward to. :)