The Noble Lie: Are Some Myth’s Necessary? Part I

Aug 16, 2018

TAA 0033 -C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss Plato’s “noble lie.” Are some kinds of myths necessary to promote comity between strangers? Is the American Dream a worthwhile national story? How might we update it in the twenty-first century so that it remains relevant today?

[music] 
C.T. WEBB 00:17  Good afternoon, good morning, or good evening, and welcome to The American Age podcast. Thankfully for our listeners, I have people to talk to today. So Seph and Steven are both back in the house. How are you gentlemen doing? 
S. FULLWOOD 00:29  Pretty good. Pretty good. 
S. RODNEY 00:30  Pretty good. Can’t complain. 
C.T. WEBB 00:32  Today’s topic is the noble lie. But we were chatting briefly before we got started about Ben Shapiro, who– I admitted to Steven and Seph, I didn’t really know who he was initially. The name, of course, was familiar, but it has kind of a familiar sound to it, right, I mean there are lots of Shapiros in the media, and plenty of Bens, and so– and then I was actually hoping– so what was the row about? So Ben Shapiro, who– so my experience about– didn’t know who Ben Shapiro was, saw a photo of him, and was like, “Oh. This guy is clearly a dick.” And so now there are a handful of people I– I certainly don’t believe in phrenology. I definitely don’t believe that the cast of someone’s visage can give you insight into their psyche. But I do feel like there are a handful of people that when you see them, you have an impression, and then that impression is abundantly confirmed by their behavior, and comportment. And I could say that so Ben Shapiro is someone that confirmed that for me. So after seeing him, I was like, “Oh. He seems like someone I probably would not enjoy having a conversation with.” So what was the row about between– he offered to debate Alexandria Cortez? 
S. RODNEY 02:01  Ocasio-Cortez. 
C.T. WEBB 02:03  Ocasio-Cortez, yes. Yeah. 
S. RODNEY 02:05  Yeah. And he offered her $10,000– or actually the way his supporters have been– 
C.T. WEBB 02:12  What [laughter]? 
S. RODNEY 02:13  The way his supporters have been, to be fair, framing it is he offered her campaign or the charity of her choice $10,000 basically to discuss her ideas around socialism. I just want to quote Isha Aran from Splinter describing Ben Shapiro, just to put a little bit more flesh on the bones that Travis had laid out. She says, “The highly anticipated–” This is in response to Ben Shapiro’s response to Black Panther, the film. “The highly anticipated movie Black Panther is set to come out this weekend. So naturally, Ben Shapiro, noted racist, a man the New York Times has repeatedly anointed as a leading conservative thinker, and bowl of potato salad that has been sitting in the sun for four hours, has thoughts.” Yeah. The thing about Ben Shapiro is that from what I can tell, he’s one of those folks who carries the banner for conservative thought in a very sort of populist way. I think he has a fairly well-subscribed radio program. 
C.T. WEBB 03:34  10 million downloads, I think his podcast [crosstalk]. 
S. RODNEY 03:38  Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So he has a very, very robust and wide audience. Well not politically wide, I suppose. 
C.T. WEBB 03:44  I was going to say, yeah. Probably not. 
S. RODNEY 03:46  Yeah. Probably not. But deep. Lots of subscribers. I got into it on twitter with a couple of people who are basically saying, “Oh, she’s afraid of debating him. Her ideas are horrible.” And my response was, “Thank goodness that she said what she said, because her response, I thought was eloquent. She said, “Why is it that these men think that they are entitled to my time and attention? It’s like cat-calling. Just because you yell out to me on the street, doesn’t mean that you deserve a response.” And she left it there. And I was like, “You’re damn right. And more women need to say this. That just because you are a man of privilege doesn’t mean you deserve her time or attention, and you’re not entitled to either.” 
C.T. WEBB 04:41  Absolutely. Absolutely. 
S. FULLWOOD 04:44  So I got into it with a couple of his followers. And they were like, “She’s running scared, nobody’s saying she’s–” Dude. My position is that Ben Shapiro isn’t actually worth the time of day. He’s actually not worth arguing with. 
C.T. WEBB 05:00  Yeah. So I didn’t read very much of the thing. I mean he’s pretty prolific, I mean, as a writer. The thing that I– with people like Ben Shapiro is basically– and Goldberg, the guy that is National Review editor– that both of them and this is a whole breed of conservative thinkers, 
  and I think there are serious conservative thinkers out there. Those two are not on that list because what they do is they provoke with some sort, of kind of low-brow populist incitement. And then when they’re pressed on their ideas, their ideas are pretty milquetoast and not really all that ambitious– 
S. RODNEY 05:58  Or sophisticated. 
S. FULLWOOD 06:00  Or not that sophisticated, no. 
C.T. WEBB 06:02  Even in a conservative vein. 
S. RODNEY 06:04  Right. 
C.T. WEBB 06:05  Right? So one of the interesting things. So Ocasio-Cortez’s platform is this national right to work. This was an idea that was born in conservative thinktanks, the idea that there was a national right to work, essentially putting the population to work for whatever various causes. That’s not an inherently liberal nor conservative idea, right? You can– 
S. FULLWOOD 06:34  Or socialist. 
C.T. WEBB 06:34  –wear different hats with that. I mean but that’s an ambitious, difficult, inspiring idea. And rally what these, like Shapiro peddles and Goldberg peddles are really just mediocrity, just dressed up. They’re laughable. Anyway. I knew Seph or Steven, you’d be able to sort of tell me what the kind of the origin of what that– I didn’t actually know that he had offered $10,000 to the campaign. 
S. FULLWOOD 07:09  I didn’t either. 
S. RODNEY 07:10  I thought that was ridiculously repulsive. 
C.T. WEBB 07:12  It’s just– 
S. RODNEY 07:12  It’s just– 
C.T. WEBB 07:13  Yeah. It’s offensive. 
S. RODNEY 07:13  –assinine. Why would– 
C.T. WEBB 07:14  That’s offensive. 
S. RODNEY 07:15  –do that? Why would you do that? 
S. FULLWOOD 07:17  And it’s offensive and it’s small. And it’s just a dick move. 
S. RODNEY 07:22  It is. Yep. Yep. Yep. That’s right. 
C.T. WEBB 07:25  See. And confirmed in his photo if you see him [laughter]. 
S. RODNEY 07:30  Precisely. So to lead us into our topic– 
C.T. WEBB 07:34  Yeah. Right. 
S. RODNEY 07:37  So Ben Shapiro’s not the kind of person clearly, who would be good at or competent at disseminating what we might call a noble lie. 
S. Fullwood 07:50  Who would be? 
S. Rodney 07:53  Well let’s foreground the noble lie for the listeners real quick. 
C.T. WEBB 07:57  So the noble lie– I mean it doesn’t have to be translated as lie. It can be myth. It’s the idea in Plato’s Republic put forth by Socrates. And I won’t give you the background on that because you probably get a better answer just by googling it that essentially, there is something effective and admirable about a myth or lie that promotes social cohesion even if it is not real, and that that social cohesion essentially the myth that it covers up is inequality. And that there is a reason for the inequality and that in the republic it’s all these metal tiers, gold, silver, etc. 
S. RODNEY 08:45  Iron and brass. 
C.T. WEBB 08:46  And bronze– Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. So this idea. I thought it would be fun to talk with Seph and Steven about this. So Seph to– good question. 
   
S. RODNEY 08:57  So yeah. So I’ll go back to my question, but I’ll ask it a slightly different way. What has been a good noble fiction? 
S. Fullwood 09:04  Oh, the American dream. 
S. RODNEY 09:06  Oh. Nice one. Thank you. Nice one. And just so we get down to brass tacks so that everybody’s on the same page with us, Steven, what would you say is the American dream? 
S. FULLWOOD 09:20  The American Dream is the fiction that you can transcend your class and achieve your goal as a prosperous, freedom-loving person. And that’s a bit short, but yeah. 
S. RODNEY 09:34  No, but that’s it. And I just want to add on to that that classically how that has played out, at least in the 20th century, I think it’s kind of changed in the last couple of generations, but 20th Century America from basically the Great Depression on through maybe, let’s say the ’80s, ’90s, the form that’s been given generally is you have a house that you bought and paid for, or that you are paying off, you have kids that are able to go to college, you have a vehicle or two in your driveway, and– 
S. FULLWOOD 10:10  You’re able to travel. 
S. RODNEY 10:11  Right. Right. Right. Exactly. Right. Exactly. And those are the sort of basics. 
C.T. WEBB 10:18  I would offer a tiny critique to– not critique, addendum to Steven’s, I think very able summary of the American dream, which is to transcend the circumstances of your birth, not necessarily class. Because I do think class– there needs to be a racial component [laughter] in America in identifying what, sort of, achievement can mean, right? So you don’t get to just transcend class, you get to transcend the realities of racial segregation in the United States. I mean that certainly was Martin Luther King’s segue into the American Dream. 
S. RODNEY 10:58  And this is– 
S. FULLWOOD 10:58  Well, thank you for that. 
S. RODNEY 10:59  Yes. And this is precisely why Hermain Cain made an even potentially feasible– 
C.T. WEBB 11:06  Good link. Good link. 
S. RODNEY 11:07  –GOP candidate, right, because he was represnetative of that. He had worked himself up. I forget where he started, but he became CEO of his company and million-dollar house, la, la, la, la, properties here and there. So he was representative of the American Dream in a sort of full bloom. 
C.T. WEBB 11:31  So– oh, no, Steven, go ahead please. 
S. FULLWOOD 11:34  No I was just thinking about politicians who may have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but had their photographs or even their live adjusted or changed a bit, there are the biographies that say they were born by a log cabin because it was this idea that one could pull oneself up by their bootstraps– whole idea has currency. But for a variety of people. 
C.T. WEBB 11:59  So aren’t each of us sitting here a product of the American Dream [laughter]? 
S. RODNEY 12:07  Well, now. 
C.T. WEBB 12:09  I mean before we pull out our switchblades and start gutting the reality of the dream, this idea, aren’t we products of it? 
S. FULLWOOD 12:22  Well I was born by a river in a little tent. 
S. RODNEY 12:26  Just like a river. Well you know– 
S. FULLWOOD 12:30  That was my question to you guys, but go ahead. 
S. RODNEY 12:31  Well– 
C.T. WEBB 12:32  What about your homes? 
S. FULLWOOD 12:36  Homes? 
C.T. WEBB 12:36  No, no. Your homes as in each of you respectively, grew up in a home. 
S. FULLWOOD 12:41  Right. Absolutely. 
C.T. WEBB 12:43  Yeah. So– Yeah no, I didn’t mean plural like your moneyed properties, Steven. 
S. FULLWOOD 12:49  Because they don’t exist. 
S. RODNEY 12:50  No. No, actually if I may, that actually really gets to the heart of what my sort of immigrant experience has been like because my father, god. Awful, awful person, politically. Just and not someone who cares to read very much, so his politics are even worse than they naturally are. But he would consistently say to me as a child, “I came here with barely anything. I worked hard. I saved my money.” He doesn’t acknowledge the kind of help that he got. He did get help from a woman named Anne Nathanson, an older Jewish woman who basically, I think– he’s never said this to me, but I’ve read between the lines of his history. And I think what she did was that she took him under her wing and showed him basically how to buy these undervalued buildings. 
C.T. WEBB 13:44  I remember you telling me this actually. I remember you telling me this story. 
S. RODNEY 13:46  Of course he took out a mortgage, paid for it over time. But by the point that he kind of started to sort of be able to limp along and then walk, he was getting rents and being able to– and he’d fall behind on lots of things, but was able to squeak by, use the rent money to make repairs in the building, keep the building warm during the winters, la, la, la, and eventually it became somewhat prosperous. And so I– and I think it’s funny. I had this interaction with someone the other day, someone who I had spent some time with. And she was telling me about how she grew up. And she was kind of apologizing to me because she’s like, “Well, you know. I had a nanny.” And she’s like, “Well, you know, I grew up with two doctors as my parents, so–.” And I was like, “It’s fine. It’s fine. I went to private school. I had piano lessons. I rode horses when I was a kid because I got sent away to a summer camp where I could do that. I get it. It’s cool.” I grew up being very much sort of framed by my parents instantiation of the American Dream, their belief in it, even though I don’t think they would articulate it quite the way I have, but their belief in it was firm. and the belief that they could be better, and that I could be better. And I had another conversation with an ex-colleague of mine, I remember at a going-away lunch at [inaudible] a few months back. And I was talking about how middle-class Jamaicans– a lot of people don’t understand this about middle-class Jamaicans, that middle-class Jamaicans are extremely aspirational. Extremely. And I said something more about that. And he said, “So it’s really on-brand of you that you have a PhD?” 
  And I was like, “Yeah. It kind of is. It kind of is.” 
C.T. WEBB 15:43  Wow. On-brand [laughter]? 
S. RODNEY 15:45  Yeah. So I’m like, “Yeah.” I mean my life is very much sort of framed by the sort of aspirations that I think were quite intrinsic to my family, but definitely got channeled through the lens of the American myth through coming here. 
S. FULLWOOD 16:06  Wow. 
C.T. WEBB 16:08  Yeah. So I would interpret Seph’s story as a very strong affirmative to that question of aren’t we here because of that dream. Steven, I’m sure you got something [laughter] to push back against that because I have a feeling the idea is distasteful to you. 
S. FULLWOOD 16:33  Okay. So it’s funny, I love that setup [laughter]. So when just looking back at the myth of the three mettles, I mean I come from farmers, right? So I’m the son of a farmer. I’m the son of a two grandparents who had farms. And they– 
C.T. WEBB 16:54  What kind of crops? 
S. FULLWOOD 16:55  There was corn. There was I think– you know what? I have to say I don’t know because I’m about to invent something and I don’t want to do that. 
C.T. WEBB 17:05  Sure. Sure. Fair enough. 
S. FULLWOOD 17:06  But they also did livestock and so forth. So my father who left the South three days after he graduated high school on a Greyhound bus to California, but stopped in Ohio because we had cousins there. And cousins were basically– that we knew, that we called cousins [laughter] because that happens a lot, I’m like, “That’s not really my cousin?” “No, that’s not your cousin. Not blood, but that’s your cousin.” So– 
C.T. WEBB 17:33  You guys can hook up. It’s okay. 
S. FULLWOOD 17:34  Exactly. 
C.T. WEBB 17:35  It’s like, “Great.” 
S. FULLWOOD 17:36  And so his idea of living was very middle-class aspirational. But for his father and for my mother’s father, to have– my mother’s grandfather to have farms, that could have– I’m trying to figure out whether or not they were middle class and not working class because they owned these farms. They weren’t migrant– I mean what do you call that when you– 
S. RODNEY 18:03  Migrant laborer? 
S. FULLWOOD 18:04  –farm on someone else’s land? Not migrant laborer, but when someone else owns it, and you are working it. 
C.T. WEBB 18:09  Sharecropping. 
S. FULLWOOD 18:10  Sharecropping. They weren’t sharecroppers, they owned it. So I think I came out of that middle-class sensibility. However, my mother was a– she worked at a bank for a while, a data-entry woman for years. And my father constantly worked two to three jobs. I’ve always considered us working class. Always. And their instructions to their five children was not to get pregnant and don’t go to jail. So it wasn’t college, even though two of us went to college. My sister did one semester, and I went through both undergrad and graduate school. But I never thought until someone stopped me in college one day and said, “Oh. You’re middle class.” I didn’t consider that middle class at all. But it was the idea, it was the aspirational part of it and not necessarily the economics of it that informed this person’s idea of middle-classness. And so to this very day, I go, “I think if it weren’t for the American Dream–” because I started out trying to be an artist, but got to scared, and decided, “Well, I better go to school.” So I never followed the artist thing all the way through. I followed it in bits and pieces throughout my life. So that was my first choice. But it was still linked to the American Dream that I could leave Toledo– I could leave a part of Toledo that was largely depressed economically, but also socially as well. So it was a number of things. So I don’t really have a pushback on the American Dream thing because I don’t think I could have been a singer, or a musician, or a writer if it weren’t for those ideas that you can transcend what it is that you were given. Do you know? So I think it did. I think the American Dream did help. What bothers me about the American Dream is that it’s so much more complicated because we think that we can transcend class, economics very easily. 
C.T. WEBB 20:08  So do you know this– it’s made the rounds on social media, this analogy for sort of economic progress, social progress, where it’s like a classroom is set up. And you have people in the rows, and there’s a trashcan in the front, and– 
S. FULLWOOD 20:26  No, no, no. Okay. 
C.T. WEBB 20:26  It’s really simple. I definitely– 
S. RODNEY 20:29  I love this analogy. Yeah. 
C.T. WEBB 20:31  Yeah. So you have people in say 10 rows. And if you make it in the trash can, you get to keep your front row. And if you miss, you have to move back. And if you make it from the back, you get to move up. And so of course what you happen is the people that are in the front row have a much easier time making it in the trash can. And so for the most part, even the mediocre ones get to stay there. And then of course, the very inept ones have to move back. And then as you get further back in the rows, the ability to move up becomes largely connected to of course luck or just supreme skill. And so– 
S. RODNEY 21:08  Lebron James. 
C.T. WEBB 21:08  This is– Yeah, thank– right, right. These are the “The circumstances of birth,” right? So you, I mean really– and I forget which comedian said this. They were making a– maybe Chris rock was saying it’s not that Obama got elected that tells us that America has transcended race, it’s like if you can get some average black male that– and he of course has a line of– I don’t remember. I’m not going to do it because it would not be funny if I did it– but kind of riffs on what it would take to get some, just average African-American to be elected president in order to match the average white men who have been president throughout history. 
S. FULLWOOD 21:51  Oh. Abso-freaking-lutely. yeah. 
C.T. WEBB 21:52  And so I always thought that was particularly perceptive because I think yes, that’s it exactly, right? I mean– I’m sorry. Go ahead. Seph, you were about to say something. 
S. RODNEY 22:00  No, I interrupted you. I apologize Travis. I just I was thinking of another Chris Rock joke story that he made that is sort of illustrative of that, but he takes it in a slightly different direction. He talks about living where he lives, I think it’s Nutley, New Jersey. And he says, “I am Chris Rock, right? Successful comedian, movie star, la, la, la.” He says, “You know who lives next to me in Nutley, New Jersey?” 
C.T. WEBB 22:25  I know this bit, but [laughter]– 
S. RODNEY 22:26  He says, “A dentist. A dentist.” He said he’s a good dentist, and he has a couple practices, but he’s like, “A dentist.” That’s indicative of the kind of rift that we’re talking about that is essentially generated by race and ethnicity, right, and which is a rift that is not ever fully bridged by the American Dream. And I think part of our problem– or at least I should say– I should own this, my problem with– and let’s take this back to the idea of a noble myth. The problem with a noble myth is that, particularly in the case of the American Dream, is that what happens is you begin to think then that if you haven’t transcended your class, something’s wrong with you. 
S. FULLWOOD 23:23  Oh. Oh, no absolutely. 
S. RODNEY 23:24  That’s the– so you get people being impugned with this sort of moral, ethical, physical failure. And then we take that further, and we go, “Okay, it’s not just that you’re dumb, and stupid, and you’re lazy, but that’s your fault that you’re dumb, and stupid, and lazy. And you deserve what you don’t have.” 
S. FULLWOOD 23:47  Was it always that way or was that more recent sort of take on that? 
S. RODNEY 23:52  But you know,– 
C.T. WEBB 23:53  So I– 
S. RODNEY 23:53  I– Sorry. Go ahead, Travis. 
C.T. WEBB 23:55  Yeah. It is– So I think again, it’s a spectrum, right? So every large-scale society of strangers, network of strangers, right, community of strangers, has to have some version of this myth in order to adhere. But America’s version is particularly stark and puritanical. So it’s softer, there’s more gradations in a lot of the European cultures that I’m aware of. And I would suspect the same is true in others. And there are other cultures that are worse than the United States, too, in that way. So I don’t know if it’s gotten better or worse on a spectrum within our country, but it is certainly better and worse than other cultures and how they put forward the myth and work within the framework. 
S. RODNEY 24:50  Which is what I was going to say. Sorry, Steven, just real quickly about the untouchables in India. I mean it is essentially skin color, and they have no way of transcending their class as an untouchable as far as I know. And I actually know very little about this, but from what I’ve read. 
C.T. WEBB 25:11  Steven, you were about to say something. 
S. FULLWOOD 25:12  So I was just thinking about something that you both touched on, and it’s the idea– so the reason why it’s your fault, Travis and Seph, as I was thinking about the fact– the reason why I asked the question is because I was thinking– so it was a comment that Toni Morrison made years ago about– she says, “Today, people just celebrate money and people who have money.” She goes, “Back then, you look back, and you’d go, ‘Somebody got a lot of money, what’d they do to get that?'” And it was more of a critique of that. Do you know? And it also turns– 
C.T. WEBB 25:43  Right. A suspicion. 
S. FULLWOOD 25:45  And I’m reading a– he goes, “Isn’t it interesting that two of the most popular superheroes right now are Batman and Ironman? These are both millionaires.” 
C.T. WEBB 25:55  It’s a great book, by the way. 
S. RODNEY 25:56  It is a great book. I love it. 
C.T. WEBB 25:57  It’s a good book. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I actually taught that a few years ago in a– 
S. RODNEY 26:00  Oh, get out. 
C.T. WEBB 26:01  Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a great book. 
S. RODNEY 26:02  Oh, man. I’d love to talk about that with you, so great. Yeah. 
C.T. WEBB 26:04  Yeah. So Yeah. So it seems like– I mean I think we all– it sounds to me, or at least what I hear echoing back is we basically concede that you do need the noble myth, the noble lie, but that it needs to be– both [laughter] Seph and Steven, since you are only hearing this, both of them jumped back like I had just struck them. 
S. RODNEY 26:29  Yeah. I grimaced. I grimaced a bit. I winced. 
S. FULLWOOD 26:34  I just went, “Where did he hear that?” 
C.T. WEBB 26:37  Because whether it sits comfortably with you or not, both of you have owned and articulated quite well that who you are today, and the ambitions with which you have approached the circumstances in your life, are products of that mythology. Even the parts where you lament other people’s circumstances, or lack of luck, or I mean, in taking all of those things for granted. So since I’m the only one that has– no, no. That’s not true, Stephen has a son also. So when you teach your child how to make their way in the world, what you tell them is personal responsibility. Even though you understand that there is maybe even more luck than responsibility. Call it 80-20, that’s fine. But that 20% is critical. And so how else do we move through the world as a country, as a nation, let me go even more ambitiously, as a nation, unless we, for the 21st century update, flesh out, but reinvigorate the noble lie, the noble myth, of the American dream. 
S. RODNEY 28:04  Would a reinvigoration of that myth involve acknowledging its mythology, its rootedness in fiction? 
C.T. WEBB 28:16  So let me just give you the most honest answer I can to that, I don’t know. I’m really unsure where I come down, personally, on that because clearly in certain circles, that must be what’s done. Ben Shapiro needs to fucking hear that, right? There are lots of people in elite circles that need to hear that and know that. I don’t know, I worry about the effectiveness of the mythology if it is seen as purely artificial. 
S. RODNEY 28:53  Well, that’s the thing. I think that’s fundamentally why I disagree with the notion of this sort of widespread widely subscribed fiction, is that it doesn’t actually treat fellow humans like adults. It presumes, right? It presumes that we have to be coddled. That there’s only a degree of self-awareness that we can have before we sort of implode. And I want to say something super controversial here right now [laughter], I think. Which is that my position is that most organized religions are a version of the noble myth [crosstalk]. 
C.T. WEBB 29:38  Of course it is. I don’t think that’s controversial. 
S. FULLWOOD 29:41  I agree with you. 
S. RODNEY 29:42  Right. But I would say most people on the planet would not, and they would say, they would defend to the death in fact, they would say that the kind of story that I am telling now, that there really is no The God, and there really is not plan laid out for you that is your faith, that is your destiny, there really is no puppet master, that that idea is more dangerous than whatever religious creed they subscribe to. I’m pretty sure most people on the planet would say that to me. 
C.T. WEBB 30:25  So to clarify two things. One, in my ambivalence, I would acknowledge that anyone should have access to the workings for this noble mythology, this noble lie. All right am not saying that you cordon off access to that knowledge or that awareness. So just to clarify, two, I think that the very effect of what you just described that most people must cling very tightly to those mythologies is– I’m not looking down on them for that, I’m saying the circumstances for human civilization might make that absolutely necessary. Reduce– 
S. FULLWOOD 31:15  Wow. I’ve just– 
C.T. WEBB 31:17  –the population. No, no. Stephen, please jump in. Jump in. 
S. FULLWOOD 31:18  Yeah. So when you first– I have not thought about this that much, and when I got this assignment, I went and looked it up and I was reading Plato talking about Socrates, and I said don’t really think about nationhood in the way that this guy was proposing. I just don’t think about it that way. I think about politics. I think about other things. I was like, “But what kind of society would I build if there was no myth of any kind, or not myth, but just this idea, what would I build?” And I couldn’t come up with an answer and wanted to just hold a space so I could develop that because I think more often than not, I’m confronted with, and I’ve read over the years that if we don’t have this idea of something that moving forward as a culture because there’s so many people and there’s so many desires and so many ways of being in the world. I agree with Trav– I mean, I agree with Seph about this idea of never being treated as an adult [laughter], that you can handle stuff because even, you may not find these people on television but there are some people who are working class or poor people who have amazing critiques of the system. 
C.T. WEBB 32:23  Of course they do. Of course they do. 
S. FULLWOOD 32:25  And like you said, it’s not a cordoning off of that information or that educational access to it, but having a myth is sort of like you need something to maybe motivate you, and kind of keep you going, and I want to add that being homo was one of those things that added to that, “I got to get out of here because I needed space, and there’s not space here for me.” So sometimes is that idea of the outsider. 
C.T. WEBB 32:51  Well, let me throw something in that’s, I would say is maybe [crosstalk] in this group [laughter], but the idea that an identity as a homosexual means that you have more in common with other people because they share a similar sexual orientation is also a kind of mythology. 
S. RODNEY 33:10  Oh, no, absolutely. I’ve learned that– 
C.T. WEBB 33:13  So the thing that sent you out on your quest was the very idea that there was a space in the world filled with people that– 
S. RODNEY 33:25  Well. 
C.T. WEBB 33:25  –would be like you. Now in your own experience you have revealed that– no, no, please jump in if you want to say something, so. 
S. RODNEY 33:31  No. No. No. It’s perfect. Go ahead Travis. Sorry. 
C.T. WEBB 33:34  No, no, no. I think, it’s clear what I’m saying so I think you can [laughter] go. You can respond. 
S. RODNEY 33:39  So even that turned out to be a lie. I just want to be clear about it’s that– the idea that anything can be a paradise is very, very fraught with danger for me, personally, and I think for the culture. I don’t know if people would get up in the morning that they didn’t think they had something. So I think I’m kind of coming around to what you’re saying about this myth thing. I just don’t know what the myth would be. [crosstalk] be reductive. 
S. FULLWOOD 34:12  [crosstalk] maybe what, and this is what I’m coming to believe is that, maybe what we do in the course of living our own lives is we move through a variety of myths every day, like maybe we are kind of caught up in the Venn diagram overlap, where its like the American dream, plus the dream of the sexual paradise where you are allowed to be completely free and motivated by your own sense of rightness, and– part of the mythology that I subscribe to, I know this about me, is that if I find a community of really deeply intellectual people– 
S. RODNEY 34:57  Ah [laughter] yes. 
S. FULLWOOD 34:58  –intellectually honest people that it’s going to be alright. That it is going to be fine. And the more I– the older I get, the more I realize not necessarily– 
S. RODNEY 35:09  No [laughter]. 
S. FULLWOOD 35:09  –because some fucking people who are really intellectually honest and smart are pedophiles, some are people who treat their romantic partners like shit, some are people who are bipolar, some are even– whatever. They’re people– 
S. RODNEY 35:28  That’s right. 
S. FULLWOOD 35:28  –fucked up in myriad ways. 
C.T. WEBB 35:32  Absolutely. Oh [inaudible] communities in the United States, is all he would say for that [laughter]. I mean, these are communities in the 19th century that were idyllic, intellectual, Margaret Fuller, Amberson, people belonged to them, and they died out after a handful of years because the communities couldn’t survive because no one wanted to go do the things that are necessary to make a community continue and thrive. So we’re pushing up against time. Stephen, why don’t you have the last word because I think Stephen [crosstalk]. 
S. FULLWOOD 35:58  Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I give it to you Travis [laughter]. Please. Please take it. 
C.T. WEBB 36:02  Well, you know what, that I don’t want to know, I defer is the last word. Thank you for joining us today [laughter]. 
S. RODNEY 36:08  Wow. Good job. 
C.T. WEBB 36:09  I appreciate you [inaudible]. Please tune in next week. Thanks very much. 
S. FULLWOOD 36:13  Thanks very much. 
S. RODNEY 36:14  Thank you. 
S. FULLWOOD 36:15  Bye. 
S. RODNEY 36:16  Bye. 

 

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