Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, May 27, 2004  

Sympathy for a lost soul

This essay from 1999 on Al Gore's character is one of the most insightful pieces of psycho-biography I've read. He really nails aspects of Gore. Taken in retrospect, the article is prophetic. A fine bit of writing and analysis.

The basic conclusion is that Gore is a depressed man. His acting out is all an attempt to "feel" real and alive.

The analysis comes from Gore's own words and actions, how they reveal him more than the subject he treats.

This is true for most everyone. Show me a man's writing, and I'll show you the man who thinks words hide more than reveal. (e.g. who but a tone deaf thug like Nixon could declare, "Americans want to know if their President is a crook or not. I am not a crook." He actually thought he was dispelling others' fears, rather than fueling them by such a statement.)

I am not trying to make a long-range diagnosis, only trying to read a man's own words, which he defines as important, as we would a poem or a novel. What the words tell me is that Al Gore is depressed. He is depressed because he feels dead. That is what depression is: death to hope, to energy, to vitality. An awful event (Ed's note: his son's near fatal accident which he saw and wrote about later) made Gore's state of mind vivid, but Gore brought his own depression to the event.

(Referring to Gore's book) In the key philosophical chapter, "Dysfunctional Civilization," Gore writes that "[f]eelings represent the essential link between mind and body or...between our intellect and the physical world. ...Modern civilization assumes a profound separation between the two." But Al Gore, speaker and campaigner, has been enacting just such a separation for years. "The unnatural task of a disembodied mind is to somehow ignore the intense psychic pain that comes from the constant nagging awareness of what is missing: the experience of living in one's body as a fully integrated physical and mental being." But who in modern politics is less integrated, physically and mentally, than Gore? Whose powerful mind is more disembodied? "But the cleavage between mind and body, intellect and nature, has created a kind of psychic pain at the very root of the modern mind..."

More to the point, Gore has adopted a strategy he ascribes to our dysfunctional civilization: One of the best ways of "ignoring psychic pain is to distract oneself from it, to do something so pleasurable or intense or otherwise absorbing that the pain is forgotten." Hence all his wild shouting, his whipped-up rhetoric, his phony wars against Nazi producers and Stalinist consumers. Gore rages and blusters to give himself the illusion that he is alive. I rant, therefore I am.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:36 PM |