The Ecstasy of Garett Jones

From the always-excellent Garett Jones:


To which I cheekily reply


Geej pretends to believe that Justice is a destination, possibly to goad me.


I call him on it.


And then…


Professor Jones and I have had brief hallway/lunch conversations about why he left the Mormon faith before. But this is the first time I’ve read this piece from a young (25!) Garett. It’s a tiny bit of private apostasy that highlights a curious sort of tension that Adam alluded to in his puzzlement about how many philosophers should be dancing in the streets. Our first viral post wrestles with this, noting that moral intuition reigns o’er all. Adam (mostly) agrees with other-Sam and Chris.

Me? I’m with Jones. The art of enjoying professional wrestling is reveling in the kayfabe. You know it’s scripted and fake in a gaudy sense, but you also know that there’s a legitimate kernel of genuine drama, and that the real masters of the medium blend the art and the artifice seamlessly. You also know that the audience is in on it and they give themselves wholly to the wink-wink, nudge-nudge self-aware pageant with Dionysian abandon. It’s all part of the act, the performers as much as the audience. And it’s brilliant, so long as the audience remains in on it. If the audience breaks kayfabe, or worse if they fail to recognize that it is kayfabe, you’re left in the uncomfortable position of being the only kid at the parade willing to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes.

We tell stories about how that kid is courageous, but let’s face facts here folks: whistleblowers are treated like garbage. It’s no fun to be the lone apostate, to be the guy who says, “hey, he didn’t really hit him with that chair.” The most savage bit of political kayfabe we’ve got is that America loves the little guy who stands up to the entrenched interest. The incentives suggest otherwise.

Do we need philosophers? Well, we need men and women of virtue, that’s for sure. The world of political, of religious, of business kayfabe would be a lot more entertaining if we’d all stop treating it so earnestly. We don’t have to break kayfabe, but we should all, as reasonable, responsible, respectable adults recognize it for what it all is: show.

In the immortal words of Ric Flair: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

2 thoughts on “The Ecstasy of Garett Jones

  1. nathansnow

    In Amity Shlaes’ Forgotten Man she tells the story of one of the chicken Schenker brothers on the stand against the Rooseveltian regulatory agency trying to shut down the kosher-chicken works. The fellow was asked, “are you an economist?”
    “No, but I’m an econo-mizer.”
    Despite the fact that that was read as as econo – miser the fact remains that people of virtue act as-if, if not better than virtue ethics philosophers.
    Perhaps they act better than philosophers if they do it, but they don’t know that they are doing it.

    1. spivonomist

      I love that panel. I just finished reading Amity’s book and it’s a real treasure. That whole scene captures Hayek’s practical knowledge arguments almost perfectly, including the contempt held by the Man of System.

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