John Rappaport "The Literal Mind"
"Our real problem is the limited mind, or perhaps we should call it the literal mind.
The literal mind can’t conceive of the levels of deception and bent
deal-making below the surface of events presented on the evening news.
The literal mind can’t, for example entertain the possibility that
Snowden’s revealed some important (though hardly surprising)
information, while at the same time, he has less than the purest of
The literal mind is a programmed mind.
You present it with the image of the most competent and brilliant
spying agency in the world, the NSA, and the “fact” that this agency
can’t find its own ex-employee, Ed Snowden, and there is no perceived
problem. No inconsistency.
The literal mind accepts all contradictions like hundred-dollar bills.
You could, for example, spend a year educating that mind about the US
corporations that aided the Nazis in World War 2. You could spell out
all the details. IBM, ITT, Standard Oil, etc.
And then, you could ask, “Do you think there is any chance the War was manipulated?”
And that mind would say, “Of course not. It was us versus them.”
You could say, “The science on manmade global warming is settled,”
and the literal mind would never think of replying, “Explain what you
mean by ‘settled.’ Who settled it? Exactly how?”
You could say, “Every year in the US, pharmaceutical drugs kill a
minimum of 106,000 people. Nutritional supplements kill no one. But
the FDA, which permits those drugs to enter the marketplace,
relentlessly attacks supplements. It does nothing to stem the tide of
deaths owing to the medical drugs.”
The literal mind would reply, “Yes? And? So?”
Some preposterous doofus on the news says, “Ed Snowden is walking
around with three laptops that contain the deepest secrets of the NSA.
Chinese or Russian hackers could have already gained access to all that
The literal mind would never wonder why, then, the NSA can’t accomplish the same feat and discover what Snowden has pilfered.
The literal mind, under guidance from elite media anchors, will
connect the dots directly in front of it, but it will avoid, at all
costs, imagination. It will never posit alternative realities or
explanations which then make those dots take on different meaning,
fuller and deeper and truer meaning.
The literal mind is full of fear and protection. It wants to protect
itself and it is afraid that something novel might swim into view and
shatter it to pieces.
The literal mind is a clog in the bloodstream of life. It’s a believer in the extreme fairy tale of ordinary reality.
The literal mind imports, wholesale, images of ordinary reality and clings to them like a leech.
The literal mind, when it accidentally rubs up against creative life, retreats into a corner and mutters and curses.
The literal mind lives a second-hand existence through the news, which is the only food it can eat.
When the literal mind reaches the end of its tether, it seeks out
codified religious blather invented by a priest class for the purpose of
cutting people off from their own authentic spiritual energies and
insights and connections.
The literal mind is a coward. It only asks for other cowards with which it can commune.
The day is too long, the night is too long, the fear is too great.
The literal mind must therefore play out the string of a shrunken number
of days and wither away, hoping it can deceive the void it feels at the
center of its own experience.
The literal mind crawls around on a bed in the Universal Hospital.
It dreams of extinction, while knowing it is already extinct.
Do not hold out a helping hand to the literal mind. It will try to snap your finger off. That gesture is all it has left.
In the end, the literal mind turns out to be the most fictional thing in the world."