a word that, in its lifetime, has worn many specific meanings, some antagonistic (fighting vs. bridal engagement); ambivalence tints its current usage: now engage is what you (ought to) do when someone is, in a significant sense, wrong. Past “agreeing to disagree,” long past debating or evangelizing, engaging is the moral imperative to fully invest into the contrarian worldview: undo prejudgements, explay preconceived notions, settle down with your antagonist — to slowly intake their lore, imbibe their reasoning, enlove their quirks; not to mock or publicize “the enemy” but to bridge the gap, to unknow there ever was one: to truly become “one of us” long before you attempt — if still motivated — to steer the ship from the inside. ■    A progression is recognizable through history: first, wars, then propaganda and brainwashing, then sensationalist press and ethi campaigns (“sanctimonious missionarying”); at some point — in part as a reaction to the strangening excesses of the age — humble engaging emerges as the ultimate in peaceful impression: the silent addictive Zwiesprache, the hard-earned instinct of living with a self-conscious, self-inflicted paradox. Engagers' “disconviction” attracted much scorn: “mere doublethink,” “culmination of leftist self-defeatism,” a surest sign of fadeout; even, ultimately, laziness — for its not because “life is no longer short” or “tolerance has instinctivized” that such a join-your-enemy exercise became doable but mostly because “so little totally wrong” has been left to engage.  ■    Engaging may have diluted by now from a “practical sainthood” ideal into “little more than polite interest”; still, the call — to give away the treasure of your trueness, to join those most deprived of verity, to partake in their untruths with humility — is powerfully, beautifully (“beatitudes evolved”) absurd, its impact felt even in formalized knowledge systems with their validation and resolution machinery (triggering alarms of “overtolerance” and “fringe science revival”). The cult of engaging — “the myth of the stream” — underlies many individuals' swingy, floor-crossing trajectories in social spaces; the more controversial schools tend to attract engagement-seeking opponents oftener than straightforward converts — and know that, if anyone, these opponents have to be won over: its either engage or go underground, hide your convictions behind a facade, “join the cryptofringe.”

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