It turns out that teaching a six-week, remote-learning course takes a bit more of my attention than I expected. So, here’s a piece [WC: 2375] I wrote a few months back about FX’s Legion, plus a bit of background first.
For those of you who don’t know about it, Legion is a fairly high-concept series devoted to one of the lesser-known mutants in Marvel’s repertoire (at least outside of the comics). It aired for three seasons, but never gained much in terms of widespread popularity — partly because of its heavy incorporation of Greco-Roman, continental, and even East Asian philosophical thought. However, I think that many of its messages and themes are directly applicable to real-world scenarios today — not least because that’s really the point of philosophical work “done right.”
Legion‘s emphases on subjective reality and the constructive power of the mind, in particular, teach us much about the ways in which we attempt to understand the world around us. In a society (i.e., the United States) increasingly characterized by social and political polarization, we happen to be habitually engaged in “divine” acts of world-building. We are the protagonists of our own narratives, and we are always right. As a result, we determine which facts — and which people — we want to incorporate into our stories, into our circles, and into our lives.
Reality has thus become fractured — at least, assuming it wasn’t fractured already. Objective (scientifically-verifiable) facts undoubtedly do exist, but we inevitably engage with them differently. While part of this stems from our own individual experiences and perceptions, another part reflects a growing willingness or tendency to deliberately reject science in favor of feeling, emotion, or instinct.
The end result is an insurmountable division. Different opinions can be managed. They can be overcome. The experience might cause us pain, but disagreement and discourse is a part of the human experience.
Different realities, on the other hand, cannot be reconciled. After all, it’s a bit like describing land to a fish. When your opposing interlocutor is unable to even comprehend the world in which you live, the conversation becomes a non-starter.
And how can we hope to begin a dialogue when we don’t even speak the same language?
Perhaps more importantly, what’s our alternative?