Get your ass vaccinated!
"Get your ass vaccinated!" DFeinman/gettyimages.com

That commentator is, of course, Brandi Kruse. In her most-recent contribution to The Divide—a program that attempts to find reasonableness on the left and the right (though the latter calls the man who incited the January 6 coup attempt its leader)—Kruse chastised Washington's governor, Jay Inslee, for basically calling anti-vax Trump supporters boneheads. Her position is that this kind of abuse doesn't help matters at all. In fact, it's more likely to harden those whose attitudes about race, sex, religion, and so on are already very hard. For Kruse, the American way, the softening way, is the middle way.

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But how is one supposed to talk to anti-vax Trumpists? What kind of language does this kind of political animal finally understand? How do you say, all nice-nice (no hint of frustration): Get vaccinated because it's really dumb to die from COVID-19 these days?

Think about it for a moment. Inslee made COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults in this state three fucking months ago, and yet the fully vaccinated rate in seven Washington counties, all red, is below 35%. (The four counties above 60% are all blue.)

Here, look at this:


Yes.

Yes. I know. That's Stephen Doocy trying to say it like it is on the low/no-information Fox & Friends show. The vaccinated account for 99% of COVID-19 deaths right now, he says. You want to live, he says. Why? Because "[you] don't want to die," he says. Should Inslee have put it this way, Kruse? Because he already has for months and months and months.

Or maybe he should say something like: I know you love Trump very much. I know he means the world to you. I know how you feel about it (his incredible wall, his macho dancing, his long speeches about himself). Nevertheless, you do not want to die from COVID-19 because there is nothing worse than death. It is the zero that erases the entire personality. You go into the dark, and never come out of it. And because there is nothing in death but death, the end of a life is never having ever lived at all. Meaning, you are only alive when you're alive. This was what Augustine of Hippo, the greatest African philosopher and theologian of the Roman world, attempted to explain in Chapter 10 of The Confessions, which was composed in Latin between AD 397 and 400.

This chapter of the book is about memory. Augustine searches for god in memory. But what puzzles him most about this key (if not ultimate) feature of animal mental life is that you can only remember if you remember. Memory is, in other words, a memory of remembering. This is why forgetting is only remembering you have forgotten. Augustine, as translated by Sister Maria Boulding:

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Yet here I am, unable to comprehend the nature of my memory, when I cannot even speak of myself without it. How am I to explain it, when I am quite certain that I remember forgetting? Am I to say that something I remember is not in my memory? Or am I to say that forgetfulness is in my memory for the very purpose of preventing me from forgetting?

Augustine knows that if there is no memory of life (which is memory of the memory of life—recall is recalling recall) after death then there is only death in death. This is why god must be found in the mental processes of remembering the past. ("Looking for God in himself: the fields of memory".) God must be there because there is no other place to be a person except for in "episodic recollection," as the natural philosophers (scientists) of our times call it. If God is not there after death as a "vast mansion of memory," then nothing is nothing but nothing. In short, you do not want to die.

Will this way of speaking finally penetrate the lead-like thinking of a Trumper?

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