Tag Archives: Rethorics

Unicorns aren’t dead

If you met a unicorn, would you take a picture of it, or would watch it for as long as it stayed, then let it leave you with nothing but a memory? Would you close your eyes?

The first specimen of the unicorn was spotted in India, millennia before Christ. It has reappeared many times since, as described by numerous religions. Unicorns are white, four-legged, large mammals who supposedly dwell in dense forests, where they are accompanied by a sprinkly melody. They look like white horses with a single horn pointing out of their forehead, which serves for non-violent communication only. A unicorn can be caught solely by virgins and North Korean emperors. Throughout the years, it has embodied purity, innocence, enchantment, and all their opposites. A bit like the colour pink, in fact.

When Nietzsche said “God is dead”, he did not mention unicorns, who supposedly remain alive untill further notice. This is visible in the three Western subcultures which are currently most concerned with the unicorn.

The first and most prominent unicorn-concerned subculture is that of the little and not-so-little unicorn girls. They revere a kind of unicorn that looks like a new version of My Little Pony,  This unicorn commonly dances on a rainbow, bathes in it or takes a bite out of it. Oh, don’t worry, it’ll grow back. Girls in this group regularly post unicorn related content on Facebook, along with some fairy dust. This way, they reveal how magical their lives are.

Then there is the equally notable subculture of the proud unicorn spotters. These are the people (or the state in the case of North Korea) that announce they have captured a unicorn in the wild, and post their proof online. It could be a shaky YouTube video, a blurry picture or, in the case of North Korea, archaeological evidence. They usually fuel an online debate on whether the interpretation of their proof is accurate or not. This group is generally not concerned with unicorns alone: they’d capture multiple kinds of mythological creatures and a UFO or two if they get the chance. Behaviour or ecology of these creatures do not matter much to them, nor the types of rainbows they come along with. All they need is the documentation.

Thirdly, there is the group of atheists who say they believe in the unicorn (sometimes pink…) as a metaphor to rhetorically prove to religious people that God doesn’t exist. That could sound like this: “Hey religious guy! Do you think unicorns exist?” “No, dear atheist man” “Why, not?” “Because nobody ever saw one.” “Well, religious guy, that’s why I don’t think God exists.” The internet examples where the unicorn is brought forward as the terminator of God are endless.

What does the prevalence of the unicorn in an otherwise secularising global society mean? For one thing, I think it is an indication that the appreciation of the supernatural is still alive among us. It even gives atheists a smile on their face. Are we guarding our mental state of the child’s fantasy, perhaps? Silently protecting the thought that there may yet be something more? Luckily that hasn’t died.

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The Metaphor of Geert Wilders

For a long time, I have avoided writing about the Dutch politician of this era. The guy pissed me off whenever I saw him. I didn´t think he deserved my attention or that of my readers. Pollute my blog with him. Yet for the past ten years, he has kept his status as a nagging presence in Dutch society. It makes us wonder: what has given this childman his power? How has he managed to become so persistently annoying that he convinced me to write about him? Where has our society failed to ignore him to death? Which lessons does he throw in our midst?

A brief history for those who´ve missed it. Around the year 2000, Pim Fortuyn was the first politician whose party got big because he addressed the problem of integration in the Netherlands. He got killed (by an educated Dutch guy who thought he was saving the country) and left a gap in the political offer while the demand remained. Wilders filled that gap. When, after some years, he managed to enter the government, he dismantled it after a year. Today, no politician wants to govern with him. He yells bombastic language from the sideline and crosses some ethical lines for which he is then punished.

Some people admire Wilders´ rethorics. They see quality in his capacity to frame things simply, in a language that people with little education can follow. He called other politicians mental, has framed their plans as garbage, and has insulted cultural groups, delaying big decisions in the process. Even if he can make me laugh, I don´t think his intelligence is the reason for our fascination, because if you look at him closely, he acts like a little boy.

Wilders is the personification of his own incapacity to cause productive change. He does not dare to go into dialogue with strangers because he is afraid it might threaten his worldview. He has translated his unwillingness to listen to others into a program that reveals his identity as a sissy who calls his daddy when he gets into a conflict. The daddy, here, are the cops that do the dirty work for him.

What intrigues us in Wilders, is his reminder of our own cowardly attitude to change. Our laziness in the search for truth. Dutch politicians cannot call him to order because of their fear for the points he addresses. They too lack the creativity to solve them, so they pretend there is nothing going on. WIlders is our collective lack of interest in our neighbour, and our incapacity to move ourselves towards a happy life.

What this man has sublimed will keep tormenting our subconscious until we solve the fragmentation in our communities. He exists among us until most of us learn how to be peacefully curious about the realities of the other. He´ll be here until we perceive understanding as an action instead of a state of mind. He will reflect our fears until we gather the courage to look them in the eyes.