Daily Bread for 3.18.23: Declaration, Persuasion, Narration

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see scattered flurries with a high of 27. Sunrise is 7:00 AM and sunset 7:05 PM for 12h 05m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 14.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Polar Plunge returns to Whitewater today at the Cravath Lakefront

 On this day in 1990, in the largest art theft in US history, 12 paintings, collectively worth around $500 million, are stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

People speak and write for many reasons. A few broad reasons come to mind. Speech can be declarative, persuasive, or narrative. There is nothing special about a typology like this — there are many tried-and-true typologies. (Aristotle, for example, famously divided  persuasion alone into one of three kinds: logos, ethos, pathos.) 

In the first case, someone speaks to make a statement. The declaration may be well or poorly received, but at bottom the goal is to speak or write what one believes. Much speech is like this.

In the second type, one speaks to persuade. Persuasion may involve converting others to one’s position, or to prevent others from abandoning one’s current position. In either case, the speaker’s goal is to move someone to action (or prevent action the speaker considers undesirable).

The third type, narration, is the rarest of all. Here one simply recounts events. Biases are unavoidable, but someone sincerely narrating tries to be as unbiased as possible (that is, to succumb to as few biases as possible).

In an intense cultural conflict, of the kind that brings people out to protest, persuasion and narration wither, and only declaration remains.

Futile statements in a culture war are statements from one side telling the other side to stop, be quiet, go away, etc.. By the time it’s a culture war, one side is not about to listen to the other. A faction may relent from exhaustion, but neither side will relent solely from the arguments of opponents.

Facebookers digging into the other side on these topics may declare poorly, and they persuade never. Fair enough to speak one’s mind; delusional to think others will yield for having done so. When someone think he needs to win an argument now, he should be reminded that now will have passed away by the time that very word is spoken.

Honest to goodness, disputants should resonate some sense. There may be a possibility of persuading a few uncommitted people, but the other side on these questions will not be persuaded once the conflict has begun.

Those who are apoplectic over every single moment will decline into chronic apoplexy after dozens, scores, or hundreds of those moments.

The mystery of the disappearing lymphocytes:

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