Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guanocholia and Politics

The most striking effect of the election of Barack Obama was how the extreme Right Wing legitimized outright insanity. I'll get back to that in a moment.

First, I want to speculate on the origins of the phrase "bat shit." There are many contenders as this discussion points out. The most likely case is that the creative spatial metaphor "bats in the belfry" (spatial insofar as the belfry is atop the building and that the bats are like random thoughts colliding about "in the head"--our mental metaphors do tend to be spatial) was co-opted through "ape shit" and "batty" to become "bat shit."

So "bat shit" is an excellent description of some of the memes floating around in Right Wing circles during the run-up to the presidential election. Recursivity chronicles a few of them, including the remarkable claim that Obama was hypnotizing his audiences using some weird variation of neural linguistic programming. To reduce the obviousness of the scatological quality of the phrase, however, I will coin guanocholia to describe a general susceptability and belief in bat shit ideas.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds demonstrates that guanocholia is far from a recent phenonema, but what concerns me is that the internet now makes it remarkably easy to transmit and sustain these delusions. What once took years of word of mouth to spread, now can spread in minutes from blogs like so much fertilizer mined from a cave.

Is there any inocculation for guanocholia? Likely not, but the American public seems to be tired of erratic temperments and most guanocholics are, by definition, bat-shit erratic.

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