|[||Tags|||||blackness, childhood, comix, dreaming, flaming, friendship, meaning of it all, politics, science, sex||]|
|||||United States, Louisiana, New Orleans||]|
|||||FUGAZI "And th Same"||]|
When you were born, if you were lucky, yr parents loved you more than they had loved anything previous to you. They gave you a name that was good, a home w/ a backyard full of earthworms, and sincere attention every time you mastered a new idiotic skill. They taught you th value of a strong work ethic, and, over time, they helped make you proud of where you came from, and hungry for th future.
Mebbe you were one of th unlucky ones. Divorced or shitty parents. Grew up poor, living in a shantytown in Manila. Absent father, micro-managing mother. Abusive father, weak father, abusive mother, mentally-ill mother, dead mother, dead father. No earthworms. You got dealt a bad hand, and now you're unhappy. You're a teacher, and you realized too late that you hate children. Maybe you're happy, in spite of everything. You're one of th unlucky, happy ones who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and now is floating, cross-legged, in mid-air. Alternately, you're one of th lucky, unhappy ones -- you work 90 hours a week @ a law firm that defends corporations in negligence suits. You hate th shower @ work because it reminds you of getting abducted and probed by aliens. You've had bad luck w/ women, bad luck w/ men. You've never liked yr face. You're an Internet addict. You're good w/ women, good w/ men, but you don't like anyone. You have a husband and a couple kids, and you don't love him @ all anymore, and th kids are getting to that age @ which everything their mother says or does is deeply irritating. You're a beautiful person. Why do some people end up happier than others? What are we doing talking about this?
I'm sick today w/ chills and pulsating eye sockets. My sleep has been troubled.
"I had a dream about an idea for world peace."
"Yeah? Did you figure it all out?"
"Sort of. I dreamed that a worldwide viral ad campaign succeeded in broadening th definition of power in th minds of th people."
"How'd it do that?"
"It revealed th truth about power."
"Aren't you going to ask me what th truth about power is?"
"Oh, I thought that was a dramatic pause. All right, what is it?"
"All right, th truth about power is that everyone's got it, and everyone exerts their power multidirectionally."
"All right ..."
"It's a Newtonian conception of power: for every power there's an equal and opposite 're-power'."
"Yeah I was always lousy @ physics. But stick w/ me. Imagine th upper class exerting power downward on th lower class. By th Newtonian understanding, th lower class also has to be pushing upward on th upper class. That's why th upper class are up there."
"Do you mean to suggest that th lower class should use th upper class's own weight against it, like in judo?"
"Hmm hmm flip th upper class over th underclass's shoulder? Maybe. I have to think about that some more. But basically th underclass are already doing that, in a way, exerting their powers in other directions besides upward. That's what crime is. Anyhow th main idea is that whoever's got power -- which again is everyone -- is capable of abusing that power. For instance I have power over you."
"Yes, you do."
"Likewise, because I love you, you have power over me. And what keeps our 'society' from self-destructing is that you're not trying to abuse your powers, and I'm not trying to abuse mine. Anyone who is friend or family to anyone else has power, and can't help but use power, but anyone who abuses power pushes th system toward destruction."
"And how did that lead to world peace?"
"I don't remember. I don't remember anything that happened in my dream except that so many light bulbs went on over people's heads that it solved th energy crisis. Th point is that understanding power on a personal scale -- power as people use it in small groups such as families -- helps us to understand power on larger scales. In fact, because personal power is th only sort of power most people have -- th only sort of power most people have abused -- it is most people's only window onto understanding abusive power in a non-abstract way. It ain't easy, though. Honest self-criticism never is. But if we're serious about world peace, we have just as much responsibility toward monitoring our own power as we do toward regulating how much power we give to others."
Ever have one of those days when you're sick and everything might be make-believe? Ever look down th street you live on, and instead of houses, cars, telephones poles, and telephone wires, you see electromagnetic power flowing through th grid? And when you look @ people, instead of hearing language and seeing body movement, you see power flowing -- personal power, social power, emotional power. My wife's talking to me. It could be about Pinkman from Breaking Bad. All I see or hear are tendrils of benevolent pink energy growing out of her chest toward me, clasping me like cat fur on a cardigan. Yes, they're definitely pink. On th Internet everybody can't stop talking about rape for a month solid, and words aren't words anymore; they're capsules of mystical power, pills spilled out on a table waiting to be swallowed hmm hmm hmm hmm what does this red one do? It's an election year in America, and everything's gone political on th Internet. When I gave up Facebook for Lent, I missed Kony 2012, and by th time I came back to Facebook it was as if Kony 2012 had never existed. I can only assume that Kony is one of th lesser Tea Party candidates who, like Herman Cain, had to drop out of th race for penis-related reasons.
Politics has gotten worse since then. My feed is composed mainly of liberals -- punks, dirty hippies, feminists, socialists, Democrats, weed enthusiasts, artists, vegetarians, environmental activists, and people who affect being apolitical but are liberal in overall effect -- w/ a smattering of conservatives (mainly Filipino-American Catholics) and moderates. Granted, my feed is a wild distortion of th American political scorecard, which seems to balance th numbers of D-voters and R-voters evenly enough that both sides get nervous around election time. However, most of what appears on my feed consists of one side demonizing th other, which is an accurate reflection of American political discourse and perhaps of public political discourse generally. It has been this way since time began, probably. Whatever lip-service we now might pay to non-dualistic interpretations of reality, not one among us is not deeply in love w/ th number 2 in one way or another. Our brains begin w/ Self and Other, and every idea in life proceeds from there, marching in lockstep: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Destroy one duality, and another, like a lizard limb, grows to take its place. We have a moderate for a president, but he is in office because liberals wanted him to be a liberal messiah. Naturally, conservatives call him a socialist. Meanwhile, moderates have gone th way of th American middle class as income inequality has deepened. Forgive my unreferenced generalizations for a minute. I'm painting a mural, not embroidering a kimono.
One enviable advantage of 'hard' science is that its practitioners (if they're doing it right) have no particular attachment to their incumbent ideas. If a better model comes along, scientists have no choice but to discard their old, discredited models. However, when discussing race, class, gender, & social policy, people tend to go a long way out of their way to protect their incumbent ideas, even in defiance of scientific evidence. That's what we're seeing now w/ Congressman Akin, for instance; but neither liberals nor conservatives are immune to th gravitational force of their own accumulated ideology -- which means that moderates who enjoy tweaking both sides are, thanks to th miracle of th Internet, now living in a kind of Golden Age of limitless trolling potential, but a Dark Age for civilized conversation. Our intractable problem is this: we haven't figured out how to deal w/ people whose thinking runs counter to our own.
Out of politeness, aesthetic preference, or a fear of confrontation, many of us move through everyday life avoiding political discussion. To me, trying to convince another person to accept one's own opinion, using words, is plainly barbaric. It is one thing to give one's opinion in a context where opinions are expected, or when asked; and another thing entirely to volunteer it out of context, when nobody asked. Of course th Internet has mucked up th boundaries of where to expect strong opinions. There's no fucking rules about who will be expressing them, and to whom they will be expressed, d00d. As much as people have celebrated th Internet's democratizing tendencies, only psychopaths would want th Internet's disrupting flammability translated into RL social norms. That both liberals and conservatives agree on him gives super-credibility to Adolf Hitler's evil. Conversely, Mad Men's popularity amongst both liberals and conservatives gives super-credibility to its goodness. Between those two poles, how many things do we ever actually agree on? President Obama is Hitler. Andrea Dworkin is Hitler. George W. Bush is Hitler. Michelle Malkin is Hitler. There are so many Hitlers on th Internet that no page could list them all. Internet Hitlers trouble my sleep. I wake from a troubled sleep and type little stories:
Back in time, when David Foster Wallace was in high school or college, he was a sad fat kid whose family I knew. He was especially sad and especially fat when it wasn't tennis season, and he wore th bandanna even back den. Th bandanna started when he was eight years old and was a preemptive measure to keep sweat out of his eyes just in case he started to sweat profusely all of a sudden, which happened often enough that he felt he required a preemptive measure. He had two brothers, neither of whose faces I could recall, even if I looked away for only a second, and he had no sister, contrary to what you've read. After it became apparent to me that David was a future suicide, I began to hang out w/ him whenever th opportunity presented itself. He told me he had begun work on a novel that would end up in th neighbourhood of 6,000 pages long, and his dedication to it was heartening because there was no way he would kill himself before he completed it, would he? In th picnic pavilion where he liked to write longhand on a legal pad when it was raining, he showed me his notes & early drafts of th first several chapters. He was a margin doodler. In high school or college, David and I shared a biology teacher, a softhearted man of German descent who sported a red moustache and championed retarded people's rights. One night I snuck into his office after hours for no apparent reason and found a thick red binder full of students' completed assignments. They were all graded and should have been returned to th students, but he'd kept them. Each assignment had been doodled on by th student. Here was a doodle by me of a six-wheeled truck w/ a cannon mounted on it; it was an image I'd practiced drawing many times & felt v. comfortable w/. Here was another doodle by me of Mark Twain's face superimposed onto some math; perhaps my teacher thought it was a drawing of him. All men w/ moustaches look identical when you draw them. I flipped through th binder until I came to a doodle by David. It was interlocking strands of ivy crawling up a brick wall, creeping conspicuously away from th body of th assignment. Another page: another complex drawing of a plant carefully segregated from th page's text. Page after page of detailed flora bending itself into leftover spaces, a portfolio of shy shrubbery. I shut th binder, biked home, and cried my eyes out. My nanny when I was growing up was home, and she was crying, too. I thought, like a good narcissist, that it was because I was crying. But it wasn't. She knew that David Foster Wallace would die too soon, by his own hand. Infinite Jest was never published, and nobody knew about th plants until now
If that story is a political allegory, don't tell me. I am not a sad person; I just wake up that way. Throughout th day I get happier, and by bedtime my happiness level is a bit too high, and it's time to reset. There's no telling what would happen w/o sleep. My brain and th Internet would become interchangeable, perhaps. Th other day on Facebook a Muslim woman said that she predicted, based on my statements, that I was a closet chauvinist. I told her that that was a decent prediction, except that for a person to be a closet anything, he has to be hiding it. Ask any of my female friends. I have refused to high-five them because I am a chauvinist. There's a catch, though, and it's th oldest catch in th book: everybody's a chauvinist to somebody. Everybody's got an Other. Historically, white Americans are black Americans' Other, and vice versa. Women are men's Other. Ex-girlfriends are current girlfriends' Other. Uncool people are cool people's Other. @ some point in American history, it became political suicide to admit to having an Other. We are all Americans, after all, under God, indivisible. Our Others didn't stop existing, of course; we didn't stop needing them; we simply weren't supposed to talk about them.
We need them, though. For structural reasons, we need them. We need a category of people to whom we judge ourselves superior. Furthermore, for most people, it's not enough to be superior; it's necessary to dehumanize th Other. To ignore or de-emphasize whatever commonality might exist between Other and Self. To discredit th Other's ways via reductio ad absurdum. Please deposit all post-structuralist arguments here; we'll bat that volleyball back and forth until one of us has won. (That person will be called "th winner"; th Other will be called "th loser".) What happens when historical Others are expunged from th official language is that dominant forms of Otherism (racism, sexism, classism) go underground, or @ least get localized, euphemized, and sublimated. To fill th structural gap in official discourse, socially-acceptable forms of Otherism rise to greater prominence. Thus: cons versus libs. Christians versus atheists. People w/ kids versus people w/o kids. Uncool people versus cool people. Facebook versus Twitter. Miami Heat fans versus fans of all other teams. Every form of Otherism fractalizes such that in smaller and smaller subdivisions of groups, we allow finer and finer distinctions of Self and Other to exist. Th debates between Miami Heat fans whose favourite player is Dwyane Wade and those whose favourite player is Lebron James are probably not all that heated, but they represent only one of a million small inputs that help define a person's individuality and encourage him to identify w/ himself above all Others.
Speaking of heated debates, about a year ago, a good friend remarked to me that she noticed a THING about my Internet behaviour:
"In general I feel that you love this kind of Thing, but I can't even express what the Thing is. What is the Thing?"
"Could you be more specific."
"I mean, is the Thing art that upsets people? Is the Thing someone who expresses viewpoints that make people's heads explode?"
"It depends. Not all art that upsets people is created equal."
"Yes, of course. But you like Dave Sim, right?"
"Ever since I was a young lad."
"And his art upsets people, and --"
"But that's not why I like it."
"But that's part of it, no?"
"Guilty as charged."
"Is it somehow related to your love of flaming? Does it have something to do with political correctness, like, feminism, racism, whatever? I mean, these kinds of discussions make me nervous. In fact, I sorta hate that we're talking about this right now -- though I do think it's valuable. You on the other hand seem to really enjoy it. What's the Thing?"
Let's examine for a moment th sad case of Dave Sim, which is sad really only if you grew up in th 1980s reading and loving his brilliant comix work Cerebus -- th 6,000-page serial story of an anthropomorphic aardvark who was modelled initially after Conan th Barbarian but who, in th course of his adventures (and Sim's growing sophistication as a storyteller), becomes prime minister of a powerful city-state, and den pope of a patriarchal religion, and den catatonic drunk, and den ... well, I stopped reading after a certain point and haven't found out yet, except that Cerebus certainly dies as prophesied: "alone, unloved and unmourned". Along th way, he kills countless people w/ a sword; gains wealth through brutal or dishonest means; rapes a chained-up female politician; and, as Pope, throws a baby as far as possible from th steps of a hotel into a crowd of th faithful. It's as if Cerebus doesn't know how not to abuse power, even when he has none (see: chapters on alcoholic catatonia). It's as if Sim wants to test our loyalty to his protagonist @ every turn, stretching reader identification to th thinness of a cord of spit right before it detaches from a mouth, abusing authorial omnipotence. Sympathy manipulation isn't a new trick; however, in 1994, not long after his epic's halfway point, Sim one-ups his protagonist's unsympathetic brinkmanship when he inserts his own taboo political views into th narrative in a way that forecloses any possibility of divorcing Sim th author from Sim th person. In short, he outs himself as a male chauvinist earth-pig -- an anti-feminist. A misogynist, if you prefer, though he and his supporters would argue that to conflate anti-feminist w/ anti-woman is itself anti-woman.
Debate over incriminating labels aside, Sim's lengthy tirades against feminism resulted in dramatic negative consequences for his career as a cartoonist. Whereas superhero artists sublimate their sexist attitudes by drawing female characters in weird poses that accentuate their tits and asses, etc., Sim flat-out admitted, in unleavened essay form, that he thinks that a woman is essentially different from a man, and that she is best suited to a supporting role to a man's creative and industrious role. Sim's colleagues in th industry were not amused, and many readers stopped buying his comix immediately. He was able to finish his epic serial in 2004, but @ a much lower circulation than in his pre-anti-feminist days. I'm told that th latter half of th story is boring -- which wouldn't surprise me given that polemicism tends to be boring -- which might explain why so many boring people rise to power in government -- but whether his readers left out of boredom or outrage, th ascendance of Sim's politics mirrored th decline in Cerebus's popularity. Meanwhile, Sim's contemporaries of comparable stature and accomplishment -- e.g., Los Bros Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, and Joe Sacco -- have all gone on to greater public recognition, while Eastman & Laird, creators of another set of iconic 1980s anthropomorphic animals who use swords, have become millionaires. Of course, th Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never once got on a soapbox. On a simpler, more harmonious, and blissfully apolitical Earth-Two, there's a Cerebus who got six seasons and a movie and never stopped being a barbarian.
Mebbe th THING is sadism or masochism, or mebbe, just mebbe ... there is no THING. Mebbe it's avoidance of difficult, thorny subjects that's th THING. Mebbe normal everyday conversations are what's boring, and topics that get people's dander up drive us as a species closer to truth. What makes some people end up happier than others? What is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness. You ever hear one person call another person a lying sack of shit? Oh. Every day, eh? Well, that's that moment when shit just got real. That's that moment when th Other stopped being human and started being an inanimate object filled w/ disgusting (also inanimate) material. That's that moment when one human, in a moment of supreme frustration, lost a measure of faith in humanness. Now recall th Newtonian conception of power from my dream. If one person has used his power to transform another person into a sack of shit -- to dehumanize th Other -- what is th Other's equal-but-opposite reaction? That's right, th sack of shit has transformed his opponent into th ultimate dehumanizer: Hitler.
All right, now that we've solved th mystery of th proliferation of Internet Hitlers, there's only one place to go: RL case studies. I shall now offer myself up as Patient Zero in an investigation of th Internet Hitler Theory of Social Dynamics.
"How does a man come out as a racist to his friends w/o becoming a total social outcast?"
"Don't your friends already know, though?"
"Yes ah reckon. I mean I've said, 'I'm a racist' point-blank before."
"But they don't believe you for real, do they."
"No ah don't suppose they do."
"Because you're brown."
"Because I make jokes. Comedians are th only ones who are allowed to be racist or sexist. And yeah because I'm brown."
"That's a bit racist, don't you think."
"That white people won't let a brown man be as racist as them? Yeah, a bit."
"Why don't you write about it on your Internet diary."
"Hmm hmm hmm hmm convince them that I'm a racist, using words ... Give 'em a bit of th old show-don't-tell, eh?"
"Nobody will ever disrespect your racism again."
In th car, th wife helped me brainstorm a list of my favourite topics, th stuff that least bores me. Her input was important because she's th only one who has an all-access pass to my most abrasive, most uncalculated moments. It went something like this:
04. how to pick up chicks
06. white people
07. Tea Party people
09. fat people
11. th Internet
12. time travel
Now let's run down th list in a way that is calculated to irritate liberal sensibilities but is not, I promise you, a joke:
Many years ago when I had exactly th same brain as I have now, my favourite band were a post-hardcore outfit from Washington, D.C. named Fugazi, who once sang,
Yes I know this is politically correct
But it comes to you
An attempt to thoughtfully affect your way of thinking
That is if you believe in race
And that you were born in the right time and place
This is a thought
About face your way of thinking
Your way of
Your way of
Your way of
Your way of
Now in that song they didn't go so far as to tell me what I ought to be thinking, but you don't understand how much I loved that band (and still love them): if Fugazi thought I ought to rethink my thoughts on race, I sure as hell was going to do that. Of course, American education being what it is, I'd already received a heavy dose of anti-racist indoctrination; but I'd also grown up w/ a lot of redneck friends whose attitudes on race fell outside of textbook platitudes. These redneck kids were also some of th nicest, most generous, most candid human beings I've known. They weren't cool, though; and Fugazi were. Guess whose attempts to thoughtfully affect my way of thinking dominated my college and high school years? I'd gone to school w/ black kids throughout grade school, middle school, and th first half of high school. They were mostly good kids, too, w/ a small handful of bad seeds thrown in -- no big deal, there were bad seeds amongst th white kids, too. In th second half of high school I transferred to a rich public high school that had no black kids and v. few rednecks. Despite its liberal atmosphere, it was as if nobody there had ever met a black kid. Meanwhile, I'd never met a black kid who was on my level of intelligence. I'd not thought of black kids as dumb, just not quite as smart. Until college. In college all of a sudden there were quite a few black people around who were as smart or smarter than I was, which event coincided conveniently w/ my Fugazi-inspired overhaul of my way of thinking. @ th same time, my school had also accepted some black students who were well below th school's general academic standard -- my introduction to affirmative action. Today I am a racist in th Fugazian sense: I believe in race. Black people are better @ basketball, and only part of that can be reasonably chalked up to socioeconomic conditioning. White people are better @ conquering. Th stats get mucked up because we're not like purebred dogs. We're all mutts. But just because mutts exist doesn't mean that race doesn't exist for dogs. Different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses. Different mixes of breeds have different mixes of strengths and weaknesses. Of course ultimately we must judge any dog as an individual, which doesn't mean we can't predict what a dog will be like based on his breed, but we have to allow that our prediction could be wrong. If I'm a b-ball team captain and I don't know anything about these two guys of similar height and build besides that one's white and one's black, and I don't have access to any further intelligence, my money's on th one who more closely resembles Lebron James. Th choice would be reversed if th sport were swimming, livejournal, or colonialism. Jury's still out on whether I was born in th right time and place.
Best thing about feminism: greater options for what kind of woman a woman is allowed to be. Worst thing: privileging of options that are traditionally unfeminine ("strong") @ th expense of options that are traditionally feminine ("weak"). Top three structural weaknesses of feminism: 3) feminists not reproducing fast enough to keep up w/ non-feminists; 2) general unfuckability of feminist men; 1) hot chicks ...... Now let's dip into th correspondence archive:
I find myself increasingly (and especially on th Internet) surrounded by unpleasant, unfeminine women (except for th wife) who insist that anyone who hasn't bought in to feminism must not have thought it through yet, and is therefore asking for incoherent multiple-paragraph explanations
Anyhow, carry on as you were, pare
I just don't get it. I mean, as a father of a little girl, I want her to have all the opportunities she can possibly have, and early feminists certainly played a role in giving her more possibilities than my mom had growing up.
I understand that there are still some women's issues that there is still some ground to gain on, but the way women like that hammer it so hard is just so disproportionate to what's actually at stake. I think the challenges these days aren't so much institutional, but cultural. There's not really a "power" to fight, but rather things like body-image issues and the attitudes of boys and teens who are growing up with access to porn that you and I never had.
th ballgame now is a wholly different one from th one th early feminists were playing. Now college-attending women outnumber college-attending men 3 to 2. Feminism now can't be about equality if it wants to retain its urgency, so it finds other things to fuel th outrage engine
Yr daughter will be in good shape, as she has a father who loves her. It's a stereotype, but it's true -- th craziest chicks tend to be th ones w/ weak, overly-permissive, or absent fathers
Yup. There are times where I worry about the balance between being stern and being permissive, but then I comfort myself with the thought that if I'm worrying about that, chances are I'm doing it right.
Un fuerte abrazo,
well it's like this: most post-Boomer parents are v. concerned w/ being liked by their kids -- TOO concerned. It's v. narcissistic if you ask me. Good parents know they have to sacrifice some short-term likeability in order to prepare their daughters or sons for th world, which is a brutal world. They put themselves second because they have to teach their kids useful things. Th beauty part is that in th long-term, th kids end up loving their parents all th more for it -- but you're not allowed to think about that until yr job of parenting is completed
Just two cents from a childless man,
Bonus track: did you know that Pussy Riot, in clear violation of th memo that seems to have been circulated to all American feminists, are v. thoughtful, cool, and eloquent, and aren't merely preaching to th choir? Check 'em out: eng_pussy_riot ...
Comix are our greatest art form. Nobody's better @ drawing than good comix drawers. Nobody understands th language of bodies better than cartoonists do. Too bad they are all chained to desks in damp rooms, producing truth @ 9 frames per 86,400 seconds.
"When you read prose -- especially nonfiction -- you’ll find that sometimes they’re trying so hard in paragraphs and sentences to create a mental picture of physical relationships. Like, how locks and dams work, or something like that. You just think, 'Oh, this plus a diagram would be so helpful.' Just in terms of understanding it -- seeing it in your head more quickly." -- Kevin Huizenga
"Reading American Flagg! as comics felt like getting a broadcast from someplace else and watching it on a broken, filthy, slapped-together computer screen. For once, the content of a comic book overwhelmed the delivery system instead of playing down to it." -- Tom Spurgeon
04. How to Pick up Chicks
In sixth grade I was starting to learn how to pick up chicks. And den in th middle of th year I got moved up a grade, and th whole game changed because seventh-grade chicks were more physically mature than sixth-grade chicks, which was v. weird for me, not to mention totally awkward, and that set my progress back by about a million years. For a long time after that I was terrible @ picking up chicks. But I got older and more experienced, and w/ each new experience w/ a chick I learned a new thing or two. Gradually I got better @ picking up chicks, going from "terrible" to "pretty bad". Five years ago, my dear friend wedrinkbitter lent me Neil Strauss's book about picking up chicks, Th Game, saying that I had to read it because it was hilarious. He was right -- it was hilarious, and not only that. Curious about th techniques Strauss recommended in th book -- and recognizing that I'd already been using some of them (consciously and subconsciously) in my previous efforts to pick up chicks -- I started testing them out on RL chicks. In a nutshell: they worked, and now I am pretty good @ picking up chicks -- not a master, but pretty good. Thanks to being married, I now have to tone down my pickup skills for fear of picking up chicks against my will. If you are a single heterosexual man in need of advice on how to pick up a chick, consider hiring me for free. Specialty: chicks aged 20-30 who speak English and are smart, cool, and white.
You know how AIDS has decimated Africa? Narcissism is America's AIDS.
"More and more I’m finding that I can’t bear going over things in my head. Now that it’s on the page it would be nice to move on. But the crucial thing to remember is that it’s all stories. Whether they happened to me or somebody else or didn’t happen at all is not the important thing. The finished work is what counts. It’s like using photo reference. If it makes the work better, then it’s a good thing. Using real events is good if it makes better art. Changing events is good if it makes better art. It’s not good if all it does is prevent hurt feelings. If I’ve used an event from real life it’s because I know I could never make up things that say what that event says. It’s like using a photo to get the turn of an ankle looking right, or the exact way things reflect in an eyeball. The only thing that matters is the work on the page." -- Eddie Campbell on writing autobiographical stories
06. White People
My love/hate relationship w/ white people has been well documented in earlier chapters of my novel. White people are great; there's no denying th list of great things they have done, which is endless: th U.S. Constitution, "God Only Knows", Mad Men, th Internet ...... They are v. genius @ organizing things: systems, people, machines, books. But they are no good @ leaving well enough alone. Brown people, you must never trust white people. Freedom that th white man gives you is not freedom. Never trust him, and never underestimate him. He is a wolf, remember that. You can bring a wolf puppy into yr home, and he will seem like a normal dog you can love, but sooner or later his wolf nature will assert itself.
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson
07. Tea Party People
Libertarianism is retarded. Not in th sense of not being intelligent, but in its misperception of human nature as being rational. Get yr nose out of that damn book and look around you, libertarians.
When I was a child visiting th Philippines w/ my parents, I used to wonder why rich Filipinos were, on average, much better-looking than poor Filipinos -- although some poor Filipinos were also good-looking, just a bit rougher and darker. Obviously, th best-looking women will tend to choose th richest men, right? But what's w/ th difference in complexion? Which came first, th whiteness or th money? How does a poor man get a hot wife? Over time, wouldn't "th rich get richer" also mean that "th good-looking get better-looking"? Wouldn't th poor get uglier, too? Are we headed toward some kind of apocalypse in which th rich neighbourhoods are inhabited by light-skinned angels, and th shantytowns are haunted by dark brown monsters? In college, as an anthropology major -- my liberal "anarchist" period -- I was introduced to th idea that beauty might be a cultural construct. It seemed plausible @ th time, and I used that idea to broaden my taste in beauty. But it wasn't a powerful enough idea to turn unattractive girls attractive or turn attractive girls unattractive. To claim total relativity -- "eye of th beholder" -- would be to advocate an intellectual dishonesty. Beauty is real in th way that race is real -- not as an absolute standard, but as an aggregate of human behaviour over a population. Because it is a more accurate predictor of human behaviour, beauty is more real than race.
09. Fat People
I've dated a few fat girls. You could say I've been a bit of a chubby chaser. Some fat girls are v. beautiful and have that thing about them that makes you want to fuck right now. Have you heard th one about fat girls and scooters, how they are fun to ride as long as yr friends don't find out? That's not how I feel. Curves are good. General formlessness is not good -- or, rather, not my thing -- though I see that it is some people's thing, on th Internet. It was Maggie from Love & Rockets who alerted me to th hotness of fat girls, and she is imaginary. She has a lot of curves, and if you saw her in Walmart, she probably wouldn't look that fat next to a lot of th women in there. America is too fat -- men and women -- and our First Lady Michelle Obama ought to be applauded for confronting th problem in a no-nonsense way, instead of pretending that it is not a problem, as many people do.
Nerds, like white people, have brought us a good many great things. Female nerds break my heart w/ their nerdy concerns and their refusal to let go of fashions from earlier eras. Why don't male nerds know how to talk to women? Women always want male nerds to shut up in th same way that men always want screeching feminists to shut up.
11. Th Internet
Talking shit about th Internet while you're on th Internet is like turning off or unplugging yr machine while Windows is busy updating itself. Take me out for a panini and a sweet tea. We'll talk shit about th Internet.
12. Time Travel
I have nothing controversial to say about time travel @ this time. Try th past or th future.
You ever wonder if th masochism of liberals all goes back to th Christian model of forgiveness? That is, Jesus theoretically bears all of humankind's sins so that people can be reunited w/ God, sin-free. White people of a certain temperament also want to bear th sins of others, even when to do so is impractical, ineffectual, or even unjust -- why? Is it an actual desire to emulate Christ -- to suffer so that their slave-owning ancestors may somehow be granted access to heaven? Is it a subconscious admission that black people are their enemies, and this is how they obey Jesus' instruction: "Love your enemies"? Or is it Option C: pure narcissism. "Hating my own race might be painful, but @ least it keeps th narrative centered on me." Remember, our pictures of Jesus make him look like a damn hippie.
Listen, I love to listen to learned people shoot th shit about economics about as much as a non-economist can; and I love that our presidents have economists advising them, and that they don't make monetary & fiscal policy decisions by playing Pin th Tail on th Donkey w/ various growth charts; but I'm not sure we can trust economists to have all th relevant variables in their heads when they make their calculations. Human stuff is an asspain. Too many variables. How many economists predicted th current recession? Paul Krugman and who else? If th world's best economic minds either couldn't predict it or couldn't do anything to stop it, what are they good for? That ought to give you a chill.
"... [T]he researchers found that two trends dominate the data on political instability. The first, which they call the secular cycle, extends over two to three centuries. It starts with a relatively egalitarian society, in which supply and demand for labour roughly balance out. In time, the population grows, labour supply outstrips demand, elites form and the living standards of the poorest fall. At a certain point, the society becomes top-heavy with elites, who start fighting for power. Political instability ensues and leads to collapse, and the cycle begins again.
"Superimposed on that secular trend, the researchers observe a shorter cycle that spans 50 years — roughly two generations. Turchin calls this the fathers-and-sons cycle: the father responds violently to a perceived social injustice; the son lives with the miserable legacy of the resulting conflict and abstains; the third generation begins again. Turchin likens this cycle to a forest fire that ignites and burns out, until a sufficient amount of underbrush accumulates and the cycle recommences." -- Laura Spinney on Peter Turchin, Nature, 01 August 2012
"The problem isn't that the Decline Effect happens in science; the problem is that we think psychology and ecology and economics are sciences. They can be approached scientifically, but their conclusions cannot be considered valid outside of their immediate context." -- The Last Psychiatrist
We lie all th time, which certainly makes Jesus cry, but th trick is not to eliminate lying from our diets. We lie sometimes for fun, after all, and we don't want to throw that babby or other possible babbies out w/ th stinking, lying, truth-hating bathwater. Th trick is not not to use our power to lie, but rather not to abuse our power to lie. Consider th trust of our fellow human beings. Are we abusing it? Conversely, we must not expect people to tell th truth @ all times and den act outraged when we are lied to. Pay attention to people. Get good @ reading them. Check people's deeds for congruence w/ their words.
Dear Aztec Warrior:
This letter is in reply to your Craigslist casting call of 7/2, requesting HISPANIC TYPES.
Please consider me for a background role in Aztec Warrior. If it is half as exciting as Black Dynamite, it will totally rock people's worlds.
Attached you will find a few snapshots of me.
Weight: 140 lb
Available for shooting days, nights, weekdays, weekends
Excerpt from an exceptionally stimulating recent exchange w/ a dear friend:
Who is someone that women want to fuck? Javier Bardem? It's true, most women will never fuck Javier Bardem. Yr Javier Bardems, yr Brad Pitts, and yr Leonardo Dicaprios are inaccessible to all but th most attractive women. Women aren't dumb, they know that, so they will adjust their standards downward. But they still try to fuck th highest-status men available to them. If they have access to a super-high-status man -- such as an NBA player or a rock star -- even for one night -- many, many ladies will cast their slut-shame to th wind for that one night. If they can get long-term commitment from such a man, even better. Th point is not that all women can get whatever they want from whomever they want. Th point is that they can, and do, get sex more easily than men do. Conversely, a male fan waiting backstage @ say, a Beyoncé concert has zero probability of getting a blowjob from Beyoncé.
You're absolutely right, women's sexual freedom has a more chaotic effect on th current social order than men's sexual freedom. Religion has many purposes, and preserving th current social order, or @ least slowing down changes to that order, is one of them. But there are many, many mechanisms besides religion that contribute to our sexual values, and some of them are even more resistant to change than religion. For instance: feelings of repulsion, attraction, feelings of jealousy, desire for privacy. Why do men and women have these feelings? I know I've had these feelings since before I could speak. Why am I attracted to beautiful women w/ a certain waist-to-hip ratio? Why are women attracted to powerful men? These desires, multiplied by a population, exert pushes and pulls that religion, ideology, and even morality can't stop, but only hope to contain.
All right. Done reading that mess? Good. While reading th 16 case studies above, how many times did you mentally call me out as an Internet Hitler? None? We're BFFs. Twice? You're probably a white, libertarian retard. Six? Good job, you're a cookie-cutter American liberal. Sixteen? Aawwww, get heavily loved, you lying sack of shit.
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08. DENNIS BROWN "Sitting & Watching" (8.0 MB) -- Song I heard while driving down Magazine St w/ th wife & Billy Ray. Th weird bird sound captivated me initially, but Brown's sweet singing is what keeps me loyal.
WONDER GIRLS "Like This" (7.6 MB) -- When talk fails, as it inevitably will, jest show 'em how it's done.