EppsNet Archive: Denial

EppsNet Book Reviews: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

29 Mar 2014 /

Richard Yates poses the question of how much reality people can stand, and the answer he comes up with is “not very much.” Alternatives to facing reality head-on are explored in Revolutionary Road: avoidance, denial, alcoholism, insanity and death.

Some excerpts:

“You want to play house you got to have a job. You want to play very nice house, very sweet house, you got to have a job you don’t like. Great. This is the way ninety-eight-point-nine per cent of the people work things out, so believe me buddy you’ve got nothing to apologize for. Anybody comes along and says ‘Whaddya do it for?’ you can be pretty sure he’s on a four-hour pass from the State funny-farm; all agreed.”

 

And all because, in a sentimentally lonely time long ago, she had found it easy and agreeable to believe whatever this one particular boy felt like saying, and to repay him for that pleasure by telling easy, agreeable lies of her own, until each was saying what the other most wanted to hear — until he was saying “I love you” and she was saying “Really, I mean it; you’re the most interesting person I’ve ever met.”

People’s inability to absorb large, unfiltered doses of reality probably explains why New Yorker fiction editor Roger Angell wrote to Yates’s agent in 1981, “It seems clearer and clearer that his kind of fiction is not what we’re looking for. I wonder if it wouldn’t save a lot of time and disappointment in the end if you and he could come to the same conclusion.”

And why at the time of his death in 1992, all of Yates’ books were out of print.

Rating: 5 stars


How to Be a Denialist

31 May 2010 /
self-applied blindfold
  • Allege that there’s a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence.
  • Use fake experts to support your story. “Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility,” says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.
  • Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited.
  • Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts.
  • Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man.
  • Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature. Insist “both sides” must be heard and cry censorship when “dissenting” arguments or experts are rejected.

My Hair is Too Short

9 May 2006 /

The girl at Fantastic Sam’s cut my hair too short. She was telling me about a car accident she had yesterday and I asked her, “Were you drunk at the time?”

“In the morning?!” she yelled. “Hel-lo!? I was drinking coffee!

O-kay, like, overreaction! Probably in major denial mode, and does in fact have a serious drinking problem. And like I said, she took it out on my hair.