BHO: Sure. Who wouldn't? Poor Gramps, one of those guys buying into the American dream, always chasing the Dream.
Dr. S: Is it possible to overstate things?
BHO: I don't see what you're getting at.
Dr. S: Well, just to take one thing, you've talked about how your grandfather wanted to move to Hawaii. Let me look at my notes. Ah, here it is:
"So that when the manager of the furniture company where he worked happened to mention that a new store was about to open in Honolulu, that business prospects seemed limitless there ... he would rush home that same day and talk my grandmother into selling their house and packing up yet again, to embark on the final leg of their journey west, toward the setting sun ..... He would always be like that, my grandfather, always searching for that new start, always running away from the familiar ... He was an American character, one typical of men of his generation, men who embraced the notion of freedom and individualism and the open road without always knowing its price, and whose enthusiasms could as easily lead to the cowardice of McCarthyism as to the heroics of World war II. Men who were both dangerous and promising precisely because of their fundamental innocence; many prone, in the end, to disappointment."
BHO: And your point is?
Dr. S: We have talked about this before. Certain kinds of intelligence are vulnerable to excessive abstraction.
BHO: I thought we were done talking about that.
Dr. S: But you always talk about it. You talk about your grandfather's move as if it were part of some grand sociopolitical event. Did you ever consider he, and your grandmother, were just tired of gray, rainy Seattle and wanted to go to sunny Hawaii? And that it sounded like a good job opportunity to boot? And if it was a bit of a disappointment, well, isn't that true of most people? Perhaps everyone?
BHO: Aren't you getting away from your professional duty?
Dr. S: As Freud once said, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes people get a chance to go to Hawaii and they just jump at it.
BHO: So what?
Dr. S: It's just interesting, your reading so much into things.
BHO: Some people say it's called insight.
Dr. S: It's in a way a compliment, having a powerful, nimble mind. But all strengths are weaknesses, of course. You tend to use your mind to manipulate what you encounter. That can be dangerous.
BHO: Can we get back to something relevant?
Dr. S: Look at the above. You equate winning World War II with a minor political panic. That's a danger of the Platonic mind: taking two abstract entities and comparing them as if they are equivalent. Of course, they are far different in size and scope.
BHO: McCarthyism was a stain on our national honor.
The causation is different. And remember basic logic. Uncounted generations have engaged in political feuds throughout history. Not many have defeated and destroyed two fascist military powers.
BHO: That isn't relevant.
Dr. S: Some people say it is. Some people say your generation faces fascist threats, in Europe and Asia and the Mideast too.
BHO: That's even less relevant, if that's possible.
Dr. S: But it is. If you fear that fighting fascist powers is equivalent to McCarthyism, in your own mind, then how can you fight fascism?
BHO: I do my job. Plenty of people think I go too far.
Dr. S: But do you? Are you held back because you can't see beyond the abstractions?
BHO: I have limited time, you know. Get to the point.
Dr. S: Let's go back to look at your grandmother.