Had a lively discussion tonight with a Nigerian man

Struck up conversation tonight with a native Nigerian man whom I spoke with on one previous occasion. Very nice man. Very kind and accommodating. Last time we talked he showed me a slideshow of his children and their “family house” back in Nigeria. His children are doing well, as are all of his direct relatives. This time I decided to question more deeply into his native culture and legal immigration into the U.S.

Love that guy. What a sweetheart! Such a nice human being. Our conversation wandered onto differences between Nigerian educational expectations and typical American black expectations on to cultural differences that he’s learning to adjust to, etc. Now that’s an immigrant who has his shit together and who’s helping his kids to become the best they can be in the U.S. I am seriously impressed. He’s a working man of obviously modest means or he wouldn’t be hanging out in that bar and interacting so much with the neighborhood locals, all of whom seem to appreciate him. The only damper on the evening was the (white middle-aged male) bartender approaching me while Gus was away to say that our conversation might potentially encourage others to join in and cause a ruckus, which never occurred. We both remained perfectly respectful toward one another and had a very engaging and interesting conversation that no one else attempted to butt in on. I personally gained a great deal from our interactions tonight and am grateful that Gus was so open and willing to share his opinions with me. So no problems for the bartender to worry about ever arose.

He educated me this evening in greater depth about his native country and the riffs occurring there. I asked about the Boko Haram debacle and he provided his honest understanding on the matter, which is (by my paraphrasing) that it’s totally fucked up and the northern Muslims keep attempting to enslave and mistreat the southern Nigerian Christians.  Was interesting to hear about it firsthand from a man who visits the region frequently and yet has learned to assimilate into the U.S. culture overall.

I explained to him my own background., so far as I’m knowledgeable about it. And we discussed how arranged marriages tend to be the norm where he comes from.

Very lively and interesting guy. Glad to have met him. He requested my number so as to notify him when I’m back at that particular bar for future conversations on such matters. Told him upon leaving that I’d like to hear next time his opinion about the Black Lives Matter movement, to which he chuckled. Surely he’ll give it a bit of thought before our next interaction.

Wish I could spell out all we talked about tonight but it’s nuanced and the night is growing dim on me now. Will just say that he’s an excellent example of a migrant to the U.S. who has heart and concern and who works hard toward helping his (now college-age) children to prosper. And that’s what I love to see. That’s what America is supposed to be about, in a nutshell. Not immigrants coming here who don’t give a damn and who openly state detestation of our country and its laws.

Anyway, in short, Gus is a great dude and I’m grateful to have run into him again tonight.

“Gavin McInnes vs. Feminist” (plus my thoughts)

Okay. Listened to both sides in this discussion carefully. Hmmm…while I can understand Gavin’s position on most fronts, near the end his perspective on sexuality came across as pretty one-dimensional. Yes, I know the man is comedic, but Heather actually seemed reasonable in what she was stating there about communication in advance with our sexual partners. He took it to mean that we must ask permission every step in the process, but that’s not how it’s played out in my own sexual experiences nor does it appear to be what Heather was arguing for there. For example, I’ve long been a fan of discussing my safe word with my partners so that it’s crystal clear when I am tapping out and disinterested in what’s taking place. Rarely ever had to use such terms since my partners have generally been considerate lovers, but there of course are some guys who care not whether they make you terribly uncomfortable during sex (beyond a point of enjoyable dominance/submission exploration), and sometimes you don’t realize who those individuals are until you are underneath them in bed. Unfortunate truth that can be.

And it’s there where I think a lot of females are coming up with this notion of so-called “rape culture.” Here’s how it looks to me after years of exploring my sexuality with various partners across various circumstances: when we’re younger we tend to be both most naive and vulnerable and yet highly sought after for sexual access, and this imbalance can create a lot of turbulence and resentment, especially for females following some ideal that isn’t manifesting in reality the way we assumed it would (thanks, in large part, to feminist talk on the subject). The reality is that when we are young and at our most attractive and yet also super naive about the ways of the world, that’s the same time when others (particularly older men) pursue us the most doggedly for sexual access. And they may say or do damn-near anything to gain that access, even if it’s all a bunch of lies and deception, and even if some of them took it so far that we felt overwhelmed and mistreated during the encounter. Now, typically (IME) when a young female goes up against this in exploring their sexuality, there isn’t much support or guidance from others that actually proves beneficial. Our family members may dismiss us as “whores,” as  can our peers, telling us simply that we deserve whatever we received since we were too stupid to protect ourselves from that which we didn’t yet sufficiently understand. And then we had feminist chatter claiming this was somehow the road to “self-empowerment” or that this serves as further proof of male depravity, that this treatment is a direct result of male power and lack of respect for women and that this promises to be ongoing throughout our lives through no fault of our own.

The truth lies between these two extremes and is far more nuanced than most conversations on such topics take into account. In reality, young people are especially vulnerable to sexual predation by older others, whether male or female. Alcohol and other intoxicants only increase this disparity, hence why they are commonly introduced. Then you also have a situation where young people are aiming to assert their independence, although they don’t yet know what they are doing or what the pitfalls may be or how those who pretend to be your friends may actually be grooming you, etc. All of this tends to be learned through trial and error, particularly when the youth in question lacks quality role models and trusted adults they can talk to who won’t simply outright condemn them based on religious convictions or whatever else.

And that brings us to the obvious next problem in all of this: too many of us weren’t raised well. If we didn’t receive proper guidance early on, where did folks expect us to pick it up then? Through simply being intelligent enough to know better? Well, I can attest to being smart enough to avoid certain traps, only to wind up falling into others, and that appears to be common. But when the older women in our lives embrace religious attitudes that we came to rebel against due to them seeming antiquated and unsuitable for our ever-changing modern life, we then turn to the advice of feminists plastered in glossy magazines or in college textbooks, only to wind up misled there as well. It’s a conundrum not easily resolved. Hell, it can take a decade or more just to come to grips with all this conflicting information and to sort out one’s own values and experiences.

Some, like Gavin, place a premium on the notion of the family, yet we live in a time when families are breaking apart faster than ever. Our communities are becoming abstract concepts rather than physical neighborhoods and relationships we can directly identify with. Hence the rising popularity of feminism and political parties in place of more tangible and local support systems. We see this all around us, though we can’t help but differ in our perspectives on what to prioritize and where to place responsibility and how to effectively address these matters. I don’t see either “side” here as necessarily wrong in-full, though both strike me as narrow-minded insofar as they don’t take enough information into their respective folds. The family-focused perspective is worthwhile, as is the female version of individual exploration, but there’s more going on psychologically and socially under the surface than either “side” seems willing to contend with. Or rather, this is the problem with firm ideological stances in that they themselves wind up narrowing down what information is allowed in, lest you be rendered unable to take a firm stance (as is my “problem” at present), which does nothing to further a politicized cause (that being feminism’s primary objective, just as it’s also a major factor for the family-focused position).

Raising people in broken homes with poor support is a recipe for creating persons who can’t or won’t appreciate the importance of family and local community dynamics. And it’s also a recipe for persons to reject the wisdom of old, especially when they are young, in favor of unbridled exploration, some of which may wind up fucking them up psychologically over time (particularly when no real support system exists for examining these life events in a meaningful way). And when these individuals wind up jacked up, the rest of society likes to cajole them and proclaim them to be an example of what not to do after-the-fact, which then further makes these individuals feel marginalized, leading to them “doubling down” in their efforts to resist and perhaps even lash out against what’s viewed as their opposition. So instead of reckoning more honestly with what’s occurred and why, we set up a divided situation of “us vs. them” where people may be driven to become even more entrenched in their chosen ideologies in an attempt to salvage their own sense of self and of personal identity as well as avoiding the thought that they made some horrible mistakes along the way and that responsibility ultimately now lies with them in healing from this past negative encounters. Society as a whole isn’t too helpful when it comes to this form of reckoning because we often can find ourselves on the defense up against purveyors of other belief systems who wish to mock us mercilessly and make examples out of us. That grows very wearing over the years and may explain why some opt to swing to radical extremes within feminism in an effort to protect their fragile sense of self from being overwhelmed by what may feel like another form of attack.

Part of this is just a repercussion of living in the times we do where technologies allow us to come together en masse on the internet, cloaked in anonymity in many cases, spouting off at one another and gnashing our teeth against that which we perceive to be “the problem.” Individuals wind up becoming fodder within these clashes of ideologies. How does one rectify this? I have no idea. But it does appear that when people feel demonized by groups of others, they’re prone to demonize them back in response. And on and on and on it goes. Before you know it the defense becomes the offense. And people grow so entrenched within the ideological camp they’ve come to identify with that they become unwilling to deeply and honestly soul search, preferring instead to not jeopardize the sense of inclusion they feel they’ve found. Because it’s difficult for individuals to stand out here on our own, taking heat from all sides and camps, while trying to openly reckon with where we’ve been and what we’ve been discovering, especially where the truth implicates our own selves in the formation of our problems and obstacles. And most especially that aiming to uncover our truth sets us at odds with those we’ve turned to for support yet we’re just as incompatible with many of those on the opposing end of the spectrum.

For example, I don’t have kids and do not wish to have kids. Contrary to Gavin’s position on the matter, I don’t believe child-rearing to be such a valuable ambition in this day and age for the majority of citizens and would go so far as to say that many folks who have kids would’ve likely been better off not having done so. Why? Because too much is in flux, our communities are falling apart without much hope of being rebuilt in a meaningful way in the near future, the education system is fraught with troubles kids needn’t be exposed to, parents are struggling to balance work and home life in many cases, and basically we’re seeing more kids impacted by their peers than by their elders, etc. I could go on and on there, but that’s a start. Furthermore, despite possessing biological clocks and motherly instincts (to varying degrees), plenty of us have grown up too selfish to make the sacrifices needed to be the types of parents capable of preparing well-adjusted children for taking on the world as it stands now. Others may disagree with me on these points, and that’s fine, but what I’m mostly driving at here is that it all doesn’t merely boil down to a choice between motherhood or corporate ladder-climbing. Some of us reject both of those avenues. And that’s okay. Seems to me life is complicated enough right about now without shouldering the responsibility of trying not to make a mess out of the life of new humans who depend on us for support and guidance when we clearly don’t know what the heck we’re doing in our own lives. But that’s just my view there.

Moving on, yes, I agree with Gavin that it doesn’t make a lick of sense that feminists are defending Islamic traditions while ignoring that those same traditions are the most patriarchal in existence on the planet at this time. Western civilizations are what have allowed feminism to come into being in the first place, and protected women’s rights to pursue personal autonomy in shaping our lives as we see fit despite doing so challenging Christian values of old. It is precisely this Western civilization that feminists are railing against that has proven so permissive in tolerating their perspectives, even when taken to extremes and infiltrating our universities to a staggering degree while proclaiming socialistic aims to be superior to the capitalistic structure our society has been built on. In other words, that we as women have the freedom today to act and live as we do in the Western world is directly correlated with the elevation of individual rights within Western cultures. We would NOT have that under Sharia Law — and if you doubt me, please relocate to Saudi Arabia and find out. Go learn how well feminism is received in countries such as that. We’d love to hear about your experiences, though you may want to vlog during the process since there’s no telling if you’ll be returning to the West in the end of your exploratory “sabbatical.”

[And on a related note, this is a BIG problem I have with people like Hillary Clinton claiming to be a champion of women’s rights while at the same time taking money from the Saudi royal family, just as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did before her. It’s shit like that that makes our two-party system look like a ridiculous sham, along with both parties receiving extraordinary funding from Goldman Sachs as well. But that Hillary Clinton can pretend to care about women’s rights when she’s in cahoots with leaders of Saudi Arabia is jaw-dropping to someone like me. Makes her appear to be little more than a politician out for herself, period, the rest of us be damned. She’s not the first to embrace that strategy, as already acknowledged, but she’s certainly done nothing to sever such ties and change directions. And if that’s what feminism has come to be today, then good riddance. We don’t need it any longer if that’s the case. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.]

That’s admittedly a confusing amount of cognitive dissonance there. White men are blamed full-force, yet the progress made by feminism was supported by countless of white males. Read all about it. Same is true of civil rights among black folks, as well as the abolition of slavery. White males have most certainly not categorically proven to be our enemies — quite the contrary — and that deserves to be stated and recognized. Yet this ideological position refuses to allow its adherents to do so since that might undermine its central tenants. Then it’s an ideology not worth following if it cannot allow its followers to be honest with themselves or to critically assess the information available regardless of whether the facts bolster its cause. And this is where feminists keep losing me, time and again — for as academic as so many of them claim to be, their biases tend to get in the way to such an extent that it’s mind-boggling. We’re left debating the same old talking points again and again, and like Heather demonstrated there, when the topic turns to these obvious examples of cognitive dissonance she and her comrades default to cultural relativism in order to avoid scrutinizing the conflicting claims. I cannot go for this. Will not. It’s intellectually dishonest and leads nowhere productive. Just encourages an endless reel of circle-jerking within echo chambers and repetitive weak talking points that cannot get to the heart of the matter. Basically, it keeps feminists believing they’re relevant, especially within academe, despite they themselves demonstrating this is decreasingly the case.

What else? Cat-calling….meh. First world problems. Threats are one thing, but random, crude flirtations are another. For the record, the crudest cat-calling I’ve received over time has all come by way of black men, including the most menacing behavior and comments. That’s my truth. Speaking as someone born and largely raised in Mississippi who now resides in a (predominantly white) Midwestern city. Can we talk about that without being labeled as racists? Likely not. But if I went off about white males specifically, who’d have a problem?

That’s the problem. The narrative is being spun to where everybody but white males are deemed to be victims of white males, nevermind any evidence to the contrary. Where’s the fairness in that? This is what people mean when they say feminism’s pendulum has swung too far to an extreme. It’s become nonsensical and willfully ignorant of facts. Now, granted, Gavin might not be the best guy to have a deeply thoughtful discussion with on such topics, considering he’s angling to entertain his audience rather than remain serious. But plenty of us out here have gotten to where we are thanks to support and guidance and friendship extended by white males. Even with sex completely taken off the table. And even where we’re not in a position to reciprocate their generosity in equal measure. Does that cease to matter? Surely some will claim such talk is my internalization of “white male supremacy and patriarchy.”  Ugh. Can’t frickin’ be real with people who choose to view life in such a compartmentalized fashion.

I’ve had my share of problems with all sorts of males, but so too have I had my share of problems from other women, namely feminists who speak over me and dismiss my life experiences as peripheral anomalies. That’s bullshit, quite frankly. Basically, if we don’t all toe the same line, then our opinions, ideas and stories somehow don’t count. That’s a group-speak perspective, and it’s bullshit. So much for celebrating unique expressions of individuality. Doesn’t count when we veer too far off the beaten path forged by feminists apparently. A person can be as wacky and wild as she dares when it comes to fashion and aesthetics and other trivialities, but we may NOT contradict the feminist narrative lest we be deemed “self-hating” or “standing in the way of Progress” or too stupid to appreciate what all our feminist sisters have supposedly done for us. Ugh. It’s so crazy. Fully and completely mind-boggling.

This is why I so rarely choose to touch on such topics these days. Frickin’ irritating to wade through, though Heather showed herself in that interview to be more reasonable than plenty of other feminists I’ve encountered. At least she didn’t talk over Gavin and throw a fit and get all sassy and condescending. The narrative as it’s being spun just looks ludicrous to me in terms of how much is left out of it. Also, what may sound good in theory or look good on paper doesn’t mean it will translate as hoped in actual reality. If humans haven’t learned that lesson by now I’m not sure what else it will take. Personally, I think the best thing any of us could do right about now is slow our roll and take time with a wide assortment of information, for years on end, rather than jumping to conclusions and joining political causes aiming to overhaul Western civilizations in an effort to bring about some utopian fantasy that very, very likely will turn out to usher in a nightmare. But plenty of people don’t see it this way, so all I can do is sit back and observe hell on earth being constructed. And that’s a frustrating realization, to know that all the reasoning in the world can’t penetrate where it’s not wanted.

Discussion between a college-age feminist, an MRA, and a couple atheists (plus my thoughts)

Feminist (AwesomeRants) vs. MRA (Janet Bloomfield) (DP)”:

Haven’t watched but maybe a couple of Drunken Peasants videos so far, though I am a fan of T.J.’s Amazing Atheist YT channel.

I really liked this discussion, though I’d like to see more including Tori of the AwesomeRants channel fleshing out her ideas in greater detail (maybe having her on as a guest by herself). Because feminism is still rather new to her, so she’s totally learning and taking in this stuff and forming opinions as she goes, just as any of us were back in college. Opinions will necessarily shift and change over time. That’s life. And she’s a particularly smart and thoughtful young woman, having watched several of her videos in the past. I don’t always agree with her, but I respect that she’s actively seeking to learn and possesses a critical mind that appears willing to challenge even her own biases. She’s good people, so far as I can tell.

And so is T.J.

Know less about Scotty and JudgyBitch/Janet Bloomfield. But overall, I gotta say that I agreed in places with everybody in this video, now paused at the 46:26 mark. Many thoughts sprang to mind while watching this…

Ya know, I agree with T.J that there are philosophical differences among people that can be so great that perhaps we’re better off going our separate ways, at least in that respect (in this case, in terms of romantic relationships). Some people desire very intuitive, intimate partnerships where their partner is capable of reading their body language and is sensitive to moods and whatever else. While to an extent I grasp all of that, I’m personally more in line with Janet’s thinking in that I have no issue with asserting myself when something troubles me, at least not anymore. Those who are less direct and expect their partner to take cues can be really confusing to the uninitiated. And I’m here to say that those types aren’t always female despite the feminine association with what might be minimally considered coyness or playing hard to get (some are also the types who need the stars aligned and the wind blowing in just the right sort of way . . . yep, grown men can be that way too, even heterosexuals, truth be told). Plenty of people out here even like it like that on the whole, whichever way they may individually lean.

Me personally, I’m a pursuer who also enjoys being pursued by those I’m attracted to. If I’m not interested, as an adult, I can and will state it. If I’m in a committed relationship with someone I’ve chosen to engage with him because we share certain values in common and aim to respect one another’s boundaries. So yeah, in that sort of setup consent is established, unless it involves some freaky shit that we have the sense to realize ought to be discussed with our partner(s) in advance. But that’s talking about an established relationship. What about in cases where relative strangers are involved? And that’s where I come down more solidly for the need to be assertive and to work hard at avoiding putting yourself in potentially compromising situations where you might be overwhelmed and/or taken advantage of. Goes back to that notion of knowing thyself … but it’s a learning process. And it’s young people primarily the ones wrestling with these sexual questions and problems.

We live in a culture that glamorizes and pedestalizes youth and beauty probably more than ever before, setting young people up to be targeted by adults all the more so. And that’s where these sort of conversations veer off for me, because youths are naive and do struggle to know how to react and can be overwhelmed to where they’re paralyzed with fear and uncertainty. Or they (how often seemingly?) enthusiastically consent to things that aren’t actually good for them, because they can’t see far enough into the future and are too inexperienced to predict the consequences. Living and learning…  Do we as older (ha!) people not bear a greater responsibility to be mindful of not leading young, naive people intro troubled waters? I guess I’m asking if we shouldn’t position ourselves in their lives as friends rather than as predatory foes and/or intellectual combatants. Yet a substantial portion of the population were corrupted by adults in their youth, so this is happening and it’s an inquiry seriously needing to be addressed, and not just by gender ideologues.

People possess a tendency to manipulate and use those whom they’re able to, which is to say humans tend to be opportunistic, and that can and does shake out in myriad ways across the spectrum, ranging from sexual abuse to physical domination to intellectual and emotional trickery to applying strong social pressure. Women are not immune to behaving in these ways, which I’d guess is common sense. But there are gendered differences when it comes to the ways it tends to play out.

Clear and obvious example: When was the last time you heard of a female prowling a neighborhood, sneaking into a random house and accosting a stranger sleeping at knife- or gun-point, demanding sex? When we do hear of these select cases, males overwhelmingly are the perpetrators. Most of us chock that up to common sense. Deceptively manipulating someone into marrying you so you can get your hands on their money? More commonly associated with female behavior. Different ways that abuses of power can and typically do shake out between the sexes, quite obviously.

Part of the issue is this expanded definition of what legally constitutes rape. That’s a problem since all offenses, from extreme violation and mistreatment on over to miscommunications between mutually drunken idiots, wind up falling under the same banner, undifferentiated. IMO, this is the major question confronting us as a society in this respect: determining what’s worthy of legal prosecution and what’s best handled interpersonally and socially. Not all offenses are created equal, as we know. Someone breaking into my car when I’m not around and stealing my stereo isn’t perceived by me to be as great of a violation as experiencing a home invasion where I am present, tied up, and tortured. Different degrees of trauma will arise there. Crude as these comparisons are, the same holds true for sexual violations. [Nothing I say is intended to be taken strictly literally unless I expressly state that to be my intention. Understand here that I am NOT implying that raping a person who’s passed out cold is in any way comparable to jacking my car when I’m not in it. No. That does not qualify as a lesser form of “date rape,” which I’d define as involving mostly coercion and manipulation rather than physical force and/or the lack or absence of the ability to affirmatively consent, which admittedly in some cases gets pretty hazy as well. Big reason why we have to be cognizant of the situations we’re putting ourselves and others in when we’re out drinking or doing whatever and playing in the hook-up culture. I could say a lot more on this and related subjects, but it can wait for a future blog post.]

What makes it so terribly complicated here are the untold number of nuances involved in our sexual and social interactions. This is no cut-and-dried matter that can be effectively reduced down to positive affirmations granted each and every step along the way, not if we’re to actually enjoy spontaneity with our sexual partners. That’s not what most of us want either, whether male or female. What we do want is to be shown more respect, and that’s a two-way street. Obviously though, some people override concern for others in pursuit of their own jollies. Not uncommon, especially among the horniest demographic.

But here’s the thing: in my quite adequate number of sexual partners and experiences, I’d say that the vast majority of men aren’t interested in raping someone. If you state it plain and let them understand what they’re doing is pushing in that direction, they’ll back off. Don’t even have to go that far even with most men — an emphatic “NO! I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU!” backed up by unyielding body language turns them completely off. And I didn’t even have to go that far much of the time.

I can understand how we might at times send mixed signals to males, so it does help to state our intentions upfront and either stick with them and act accordingly, or abandon them and decide what risks we are willing to take. But admittedly, part of the problem with the hook-up scene is that you’re often dealing with strangers, people you really can’t say with certainty are going to treat you with respect behind closed doors. It’s a risk, and it’s one I think more young people would be better off trying to avoid, from the sounds of it. But then they’re being bombarded with so much sexuality in our popular media and mixed messages encouraging them to behave in these ways.

(If I were a parent, I’d follow my stepdad’s lead and not subscribe to cable television. Even without kids I haven’t subscribed to cable this time around since at least 2008. But now most households have the internet, so who knows how to protect young people from being swayed by so much poor advice and sexual over-stimulation? Not to mention their exposure through their peers at school. Crazy times…)

More than feeling on a side in these gender-bent debates, I just mostly feel sorry for young people having to learn so much the hard way. It can be really rough out there. Sometimes you think you have the situation under control, but then later learn otherwise. Alcohol consumption certainly complicates matters there. And, like I said before, there’s no shortage of older people willing to take advantage of youthful naivety wherever they find it. Sad, but true. Apparently a fact of life.

I don’t know what to tell young people today. Part of me wants to say don’t follow in my footsteps since it contains some hard lessons that could really mess up the tender-hearted. But then again, how else does one learn but through trial and error? Some potentially expensive consequences up in there though, like becoming pregnant or contracting an STD or getting seriously traumatized by a scary individual. These are the risks we take with sex, especially with relative strangers. Leads me back to what Tori was saying about being sensitive to our partner’s needs and wants — yes, that’s a fabulous idea, and it’s best carried out by waiting to get to know people for a while before engaging in sexual activity, that way you can better gauge how they are and what their intentions may be. It’s this promiscuous, drunken hook-up culture where strangers come together that’s causing a lot of confusion and problems.

While I understand many of us don’t desire a return to past gender roles or social pressure for us to be monogamous to one partner throughout all our life, that doesn’t mean there’s greater value in swaying to the opposite extreme of rampant reckless sex among strangers and seeing people as nothing but instruments to be used to satisfy our own selfish sexual pleasures. It’s that mentality, in a nutshell, that appears to be fucking us up. Nothing necessarily wrong with hooking up for sex, but it’s risky behavior and the odds are, I’d say, that 1-5 out of 100 (if you play your cards right) will be so selfish that they disregard your boundaries and perhaps even safety in striving to gratify themselves. And then there’s always that stray “free radical” to worry about who may seriously prove sadistic and dangerous (think: Looking For Mr. Goodbar). While it’s true that a person can be sexually accosted while minding our own business, the risks dramatically go up when we retreat into private spaces with people we don’t know well under the implicit assumption that sex very well may occur. Especially when boozed up. That’s not meant judgmentally, just pointing to the potential hazards here.

These are hard truths for young people to come up against, yes. Add it to the mountain of other things we grew up lied to or in the dark about. The truth is that the hook-up culture is potentially dangerous, and you have to go into it with your eyes open rather than being too trusting of strangers. Naivety extracts a cost eventually. We like to imagine some perfect world where this no longer occurs, but how could that ever be when humans are so complex and varied? Threats will always exist, and no amount of education can fully eliminate them. Because some people don’t care that they’re breaking the law or seriously upsetting or harming someone else. Some people can be very cruel and unconcerned. Or just selfish and willfully oblivious. I don’t know how we protect younger people from reckoning with this fact of life, aside from aiming to not contribute to it and sharing our own stories in case they’re open to learning lessons vicariously through others. Some lessons one indeed would be better off not having to learn in the harshest fashion, and I’m glad I gleaned as much as I did from others I was fortunate enough to read or hear directly from back in the day.

As is commonly said, why reinvent the wheel?

Anyway, moving along in their talk above about the rights women possess in the West compared to men… The genital mutilation argument continues to garner my sympathy and support (as does selective service requirements). As for choice when it comes to creating and supporting a child, with the technologies available to us today, I can understand there needing to be some sort of way for both males and females to sign on to the pregnancy being taken to full-term and both agreeing to share in providing financial/household, emotional, psychological and otherwise nurturing support toward any offspring we’re bringing into existence. I agree with this for enhancing equality between the sexes, but also because I think this would help create checks and balances both legally and socially that are sorely needed. Using kids to take advantage of each other through the courts is a messed-up way to behave. Shouldn’t be a parent if you’re going to act like that. It’s not fair. Kids don’t deserve to be used as pawns between adults. So my concern is with the upbringing of future generations being brought into this mess more so than between the sexes battling it out today, seeing as how I don’t and won’t have kids of my own (thanks to technologies).

I love my right to choose, so I want to see others enjoy it as well. No reason to be exclusive — we can work it out somehow. Can’t we? If I become pregnant and the man expressly states he doesn’t want to share in parenting, am I not agreeing to single motherhood? Of course I am. But I may require of him to help finance it and partake in at least some aspects of parenting regardless of his will. That’s not a fair arrangement. Gonna have to upgrade that. So many children being born to disinterested, unhappy parents has been a problem for a long time — why continue it if we don’t have to anymore?

Social checks and balances to discourage certain behaviors have always existed among social beings, playing out in varied ways across cultures—and while acknowledging abuses of unfortunate circumstances did occur and could be unduly harsh (here thinking about the treatment of single/widowed mothers in past times, as well as those with legitimate brain abnormalities who wound up vilified, though, interestingly enough, shamans of old are often compared with those labeled as schizophrenics today and are claimed to belong to the same lineage — goes to further demonstrate the power of perception at any given point in history)—but we now live in the time of plenty in great grids where agricultural innovations make it possible to support massive populations, many of whom if thrown back on our own (primitive) devices at this point could not survive; this continues because our government stepped in and plays the role of Big Poppa. And this all costs tax-paying citizens a fortune (though not as much as corporate welfare, it deserves to be declared, to put it in sharper perspective). We’re getting hosed by our governments and would benefit from nearly anything that extracts its involvement from our lives and personal business. We can and likely should figure this shit out among ourselves and figure out ways to get the Government to back the fuck off and let us do so. But that requires cooperation, coming on the heels of decades where competition became all the rage. The cooperative spirit has been effectively undermined, and these are some of the consequences. Better ways are called for.

Interesting talk. Glad to see it didn’t devolve into some shaming match.

The night’s gotten away from me.

“Why Are Americans So Apathetic? (And what can be done about it?) – BFP Roundtable”

Boiling Frogs Post came out with a discussion on American apathy and how that obstructs political activism:

“Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 3: Underground Men, Inquisitors, and Saints – Fyodor Dostoevsky”

Another interesting lecture/discussion by Dr. Sadler:

The only book so far I’ve worked through by Dostoevsky is Crime and Punishment, but now I’m intrigued to eventually check out his other works.

“Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography”

“Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981)”:

Came across that Canadian documentary recently on one of Typhon Blue’s playlists.

The bondage porn shown around the 54:22 mark really fucks with my head. Ugh, tying titties like that makes absolutely no sense to me and looks like straight-up brutality. It’s virtually impossible to see it any other way, regardless of who may consider that pleasurable to experience or view.

There comes a point when ya just gotta stop, step away, and seriously reflect on what we’ve been fed. And why might such material be fed to the masses? Sure, there’s the economic incentives, and preying on humans’ psychologies has certainly proven lucrative across all sectors. A handful of major corporations no one would even associate with pornography reap in over 80% of its proceeds. Porn is not only big business, it’s big business for Big Businesses. But consider for a moment how much free porn is available online, no credit card or sign-up required (meaning no age verification required either). A few sites spring to mind, none of which I care to advertise for on here (not that I never look on them, just that I won’t help promote them to others). Why do you imagine porn has become free to the online masses?

There’s a lot of spooky shit going on these days, undeniably. I’m connecting dots and pondering what may lay in store going forward. Hell on earth, folks — slavery 3.0. Sorry to be yet another messenger bringing bad news. What worries me more is how many don’t see a problem with civilization’s progression. It’s all across the board fucked up what humans are creating here, and the problem doesn’t lie in the technologies themselves but rather in their application. Just look around — what a world…

First excerpt from the book “The Power of Myth”

Tonight let’s transcribe an excerpt from the book The Power of Myth (1988) by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, beginning on the bottom of page 7 of their interview:

MOYERS: You’re saying that marriage is not just a social arrangement, it’s a spiritual exercise.

CAMPBELL: It’s primarily a spiritual exercise, and the society is supposed to help us have the realization. Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that’s what is threatening the world at this minute.

MOYERS: What happens when a society no longer embraces a powerful mythology?

CAMPBELL: What we’ve got on our hands. If you want to find out what it means to have a society without any rituals, read the New York Times.

MOYERS: And you’d find?

CAMPBELL: The news of the day, including destructive and violent acts by young people who don’t know how to behave in a civilized society.

MOYERS: Society has provided them no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind. I think of that passage in the first book of Corinthians: “When I was a child, I spake as a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

CAMPBELL: That’s exactly it. That’s the significance of the puberty rites. In primal societies, there are teeth knocked out, there are scarifications, there are circumcisions, there are all kinds of things done. So you don’t have your little baby body anymore, you’re something else entirely.

When I was a kid, we wore short trousers, you know, knee pants. And then there was a great moment when you put on long pants. Boys now don’t get that. I see even five-year-olds walking around with long trousers. When are they going to know that they’re now men and must put aside childish things?

MOYERS: Where do the kids growing up in the city—on 125th and Broadway, for example—where do these kids get their myths today?

CAMPBELL: They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city. These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they’re doing the best they can. But they’re dangerous because their own laws are not those of the city. They have not been initiated into our society.

MOYERS: Rollo May says that there is so much violence in American society today because there are no more great myths to help young men and women relate to the world or to understand that world beyond what is seen.

CAMPBELL: Yes, but another reason for the high level of violence here is that America has no ethos.

MOYERS: Explain.

CAMPBELL: In American football, for example, the rules are very strict and complex. If you were to go to England, however, you would find that the rugby rules are not that strict. When I was a student back in the twenties, there were a couple of young men who constituted a marvelous forward-passing pair. They went to Oxford on scholarship and joined the rugby team and one day they introduced the forward pass. And the English players said, “Well, we have no rules for this, so please don’t. We don’t play that way.”

Now, in a culture that has been homogenous for some time, there are a number of understood, unwritten rules by which people live. There is an ethos there, there is a mode, an understanding that “we don’t do it that way.”

MOYERS: A mythology.

CAMPBELL: An unstated mythology, you might say. This is the way we use a fork and knife, this is the way we deal with people, and so forth. It’s not all written down in books. But in America we have people from all kinds of backgrounds, all in a cluster, together, and consequently law has become very important in this country. Lawyers and law are what hold us together. There is no ethos. Do you see what I mean?

MOYERS: Yes. It’s what De Tocqueville described when he first arrived here a hundred and sixty years ago to discover “a tumult of anarchy.”

CAMPBELL: What we have today is a demythologized world. And, as a result, the students I meet are very much interested in mythology because myths bring them messages. Now, I can’t tell you what the messages are that the study of mythology is bringing to young people today. I know what it did for me. But it is doing something for them. When I go to lecture at any college, the room is bursting with students who have come to hear what I have to say. The faculty very often assigns me to a room that’s a little small—smaller than it should have been because they didn’t know how much excitement there was going to be in the student body.

MOYERS: Take a guess. What do you think the mythology, the stories they’re going to hear from you, do for them?

CAMPBELL: They’re stories about the wisdom of life, they really are. What we’re learning in our schools is not the wisdom of life. We’re learning technologies, we’re getting information. There’s a curious reluctance on the part of faculties to indicate the life values of their subjects. In our sciences today—and this includes anthropology, linguistics, the study of religions, and so forth—there is a tendency to specialization. And when you know how much a specialist scholar has to know in order to be a competent specialist, you can understand this tendency. To study Buddhism, for instance, you have to be able to handle not only all the European languages in which the discussions of the Oriental come, particularly French, German, English, and Italian, but also Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and several other languages. Now, this is a tremendous task. Such a specialist can’t also be wondering about the difference between the Iroquois and Algonquin.

Specialization tends to limit the field of the problems that the specialist is concerned with. Now, the person who isn’t a specialist, but a generalist like myself, sees something over here that he has learned from one specialist, something over there that he has learned from another specialist—and neither of them has considered the problem of why this occurs here and also there. So the generalist—and that’s a derogatory term, by the way, for academics—gets into a range of other problems that are more genuinely human, you might say, than specifically cultural.

MOYERS: Then along comes the journalist who has a license to explain things he doesn’t understand.

CAMPBELL: That is not only a license but something that is put upon him—he has an obligation to educate himself in public. Now, I remember when I was a young man going to hear Heinrich Zimmer lecture. He was the first man I know of to speak about myths as though they had messages that were valid for life, not just interesting things for scholars to fool around with. And that confirmed me in a feeling I had had ever since boyhood.

MOYERS: Do you remember the first time you discovered a myth? The first time a story came alive in you?

CAMPBELL: I was brought up as a Roman Catholic. Now, one of the great advantages of being brought up a Roman Catholic is that you’re taught to take myth seriously and to let it operate on your life and to live in terms of these mythic motifs. I was brought up in terms of the seasonal relationships to the cycle of Christ’s coming into the world, teaching in the world, dying, resurrecting, and returning to heaven. The ceremonies all through the year keep you in mind of the eternal core of all that changes in time. Sin is simply getting out of touch with that harmony.

And then I fell in love with American Indians because Buffalo Bill used to come to Madison Square Garden every year with his marvelous Wild West Show. And I wanted to know more about Indians. My father and mother were very generous parents and found what books were being written for boys about Indians at that time. So I began to read American Indian myths, and it wasn’t long before I found the same motifs in the American Indian stories that I was being taught by the nuns at the school.

MOYERS: Creation—

CAMPBELL: —creation, death and resurrection, ascension to heaven, virgin births—I didn’t know what it was, but I recognized the vocabulary. One after another.

MOYERS: And what happened?

CAMPBELL: I was excited. That was the beginning of my interest in comparative mythology.

MOYERS: Did you begin by asking, “Why does it say it this way while the Bible says it that way?”

CAMPBELL: No, I didn’t start the comparative analysis until many years later.

MOYERS: What appealed to you about the Indian stories?

CAMPBELL: In those days there was still American Indian lore in the air. Indians were still around. Even now, when I deal with myths from all parts of the world, I find the American Indian tales and narratives to be very rich, very well developed.

And then my parents had a place out in the woods where the Delaware Indians had lived, and the Iroquois had come down and fought them. There was a big ledge where we could dig for Indian arrowheads and things like that. And the very animals that play the role in the Indian stories were there in the woods around me. It was a grand introduction to this material.

MOYERS: Did these stories begin to collide with your Catholic faith?

CAMPBELL: No, there was no collision. The collision with my religion came much later in relation to scientific studies and things of that kind. Later I became interested in Hinduism, and there were the same stories again. And in my graduate work I was dealing with the Arthurian medieval material, and there were the same stories again. So you can’t tell me that they’re not the same stories. I’ve been with them all my life.

MOYERS: They come from every culture but with timeless themes.

CAMPBELL: These themes are timeless, and the inflection is to the culture.

MOYERS: So the stories may take the same universal theme but apply it slightly differently, depending upon the accent of the people who are speaking?

CAMPBELL: Oh, yes. If you were not alert to the parallel themes, you perhaps would think they were quite different stories, but they’re not.

MOYERS: You taught mythology for thirty-eight years at Sarah Lawrence. How did you get these young women, coming to college from their middle-class backgrounds, from their orthodox religions—how did you get them interested in myths?

CAMPBELL: Young people just grab this stuff. Mythology teaches you what’s behind literature and the arts, it teaches you about your own life. It’s a great, exciting, life-nourishing subject. Mythology has a great deal to do with the stages of life, the initiation ceremonies as you move from childhood to adult responsibilities, from the unmarried state into the married state. All of those rituals are mythological rites. They have to do with your recognition of the new role that you’re in, the process of throwing off the old one and coming out in the new, and entering into a responsible profession.

When a judge walks into the room, and everybody stands up, you’re not standing up to that guy, you’re standing up to the robe that he’s wearing and the role that he’s going to play. What makes him worthy of that role is his integrity, as a representative of the principles of that role, and not some group of prejudices of his own. So what you’re standing up to is a mythological character. I imagine some kings and queens are the most stupid, absurd, banal people you could run into, probably interested only in horses and women, you know. But you’re not responding to them as personalities, you’re responding to them in their mythological roles. When someone becomes a judge, or President of the United States, the man is no longer that man, he’s the representative of an eternal office; he has to sacrifice his personal desires and even life possibilities to the role that he now signifies.

MOYERS: So there are mythological rituals at work in our society. The ceremony of marriage is one. The ceremony of the inauguration of a President or judge is another. What are some of the other rituals that are important to society today?

CAMPBELL: Joining the army, putting on a uniform, is another. You’re giving up your personal life and accepting a socially determined manner of life in the service of the society of which you are a member. This is why I think it is obscene to judge people in terms of civil law for performances that they rendered in time of war. They were acting not as individuals, they were acting as agents of something above them and to which they had by dedication given themselves. To judge them as though they were individual human beings is totally improper.

MOYERS: You’ve seen what happens when primitive societies are unsettled by white man’s civilization. They go to pieces, they disintegrate, they become diseased. Hasn’t the same thing been happening to us since our myths began to disappear?

CAMPBELL: Absolutely, it has.

MOYERS: Isn’t that why conservative religions today are calling for the old-religion?

CAMPBELL: Yes, and they’re making a terrible mistake. They are going back to something that is vestigial, that doesn’t serve life.

MOYERS: But didn’t it serve us?

CAMPBELL: Sure it did.

MOYERS: I understand the yearning. In my youth I had fixed stars. They comforted me with their permanence. They gave me a known horizon. And they told me there was a loving, kind, and just father out there looking down on me, ready to receive me, thinking of my concerns all the time. Now, Saul Bellow says that science has made a housecleaning of beliefs. But there was value in these things for me. I am today what I am because of those beliefs. I wonder what happens to children who don’t have those fixed stars, that known horizon—those myths?

CAMPBELL: Well, as I said, all you have to do is read the newspaper. It’s a mess. On this immediate level of life and structure, myths offer life models. But the models have to be appropriate to the time in which you are living, and our time has changed so fast that what was proper fifty years ago is not proper today. The virtues of the past are the vices of today. And many of what were thought to be the vices of the past are the necessities of today. The moral order has to catch up with the moral necessities of actual life in time, here and now. And that is what we are not doing. The old-time religion belongs to another age, another people, another set of human values, another universe. By going back you throw yourself out of sync with history. Our kids lose their faith in the religions that were taught to them, and they go inside.

MOYERS: Often with the help of a drug.

CAMPBELL: Yes. The mechanically induced mystical experience is what you have there. I have attended a number of psychological conferences dealing with this whole problem of the difference between the mystical experience and the psychological crack-up. The difference is that the one who cracks up is drowning in the water in which the mystic swims. You have to be prepared for this experience.

MOYERS: You talk about this peyote culture emerging and becoming dominant among Indians as a consequence of the loss of the buffalo and their earlier way of life.

CAMPBELL: Yes. Ours is one of the worst histories in relation to the native peoples of any civilized nation. They are nonpersons. They are not even reckoned in the statistics of the voting population of the United States. There was a moment shortly after the American Revolution when there were a number of distinguished Indians who actually participated in American government and life. George Washington said that Indians should be incorporated as members of our culture. But instead, they were turned into vestiges of the past. In the nineteenth century, all the Indians of the southeast were put into wagons and shipped under military guard out to what was then called Indian Territory, which was given to the Indians in perpetuity as their own world—then a couple of years later was taken away from them.

Recently, anthropologists studied a group of Indians in northwestern Mexico who live within a few miles of a major area for the natural growth of peyote. Peyote is their animal—that is to say, they associate it with the deer. And they have very special missions to go collect peyote and bring it back.

These missions are mystical journeys with all of the details of the typical mystical journey. First, there is disengagement from secular life. Everybody who is going to go on this expedition has to make a complete confession of all the faults of his or her recent living. And if they don’t, the magic is not going to work. Then they start on the journey. They even speak a special language, a negative language. Instead of saying yes, for example, they say no, or instead of saying, “We are going,” they say, “We are coming.” They are in another world.

Then they come to the threshold of the adventure. There are special shrines that represent stages of mental transformation on the way. And then comes the great business of collecting the peyote. The peyote is killed as though it were a deer. They sneak up on it, shoot a little arrow at it, and then perform the ritual of collecting the peyote.

The whole thing is a complete duplication of the kind of experience that is associated with the inward journey, when you leave the outer world and come into the realm of spiritual beings. They identify each little stage as a spiritual transformation. They are in a sacred place all the way.

MOYERS: Why do they make such an intricate process out of it?

CAMPBELL: Well, it has to do with the peyote being not simply a biological, mechanical, chemical effect but one of spiritual transformation. If you undergo a spiritual transformation and have not had preparation for it, you do not know how to evaluate what has happened to you, and you get the terrible experiences of a bad trip, as they used to call it with LSD. If you know where you are going, you won’t have a bad trip.

MOYERS: So this is why it is a psychological crisis if you are drowning in the water where—

CAMPBELL: —where you ought to be able to swim, but you weren’t prepared. That is true of the spiritual life, anyhow. It is a terrifying experience to have your consciousness transformed.

MOYERS: You talk a lot about consciousness.

CAMPBELL: Yes.

MOYERS: What do you mean by it?

CAMPBELL: It is a part of the Cartesian mode to think of consciousness as being something peculiar to the head, that the head is the organ originating consciousness. It isn’t. The head is an organ that inflects consciousness in a certain direction, or to a certain set of purposes. But there is consciousness here in the body. The whole living world is informed by consciousness.

I have a feeling that consciousness and energy are the same thing somehow. Where you really see life energy, there’s consciousness. Certainly the vegetable world is conscious. And when you live in the woods, as I did as a kid, you can see all these different consciousnesses relating to themselves. There is a plant consciousness and there is an animal consciousness, and we share both these things. You eat certain foods, and the bile knows whether there’s something there for it to go to work on. The whole process is consciousness. Trying to interpret it in simply mechanistic terms won’t work.

MOYERS: How do we transform our consciousness?

CAMPBELL: That’s a matter of what you are disposed to think about. And that’s what meditation is for. All of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional. A lot of people spend most of life in meditating on where their money is coming from and where it’s going to. If you have a family to bring up, you’re concerned for the family. These are all very important concerns, but they have to do with physical conditions, mostly. But how are you going to communicate spiritual consciousness to the children if you don’t have it yourself? How do you get that? What the myths are for is to bring us into a level of consciousness that is spiritual.

Just for example: I walk off Fifty-first Street and Fifth Avenue into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I’ve left a very busy city and one of the most economically inspired cities on the planet. I walk into that cathedral, and everything around me speaks of spiritual mysteries. The mystery of the cross, what’s that all about there? The stained glass windows, which bring another atmosphere in. My consciousness has been brought up onto another level altogether, and I am on a different platform. And then I walk out, and I’m back on the level of the street again. Now, can I hold something from the cathedral consciousness? Certain prayers or meditations are designed to hold your consciousness on that level instead of letting it drop down here all the way. And then what you can finally do is to recognize that this is simply a lower level of that higher consciousness. The mystery that is expressed there is operating in the field of your money, for example. All money is congealed energy. I think that that’s the clue to how to transform your consciousness.

MOYERS: Don’t you sometimes think, as you consider these stories, that you are drowning in other people’s dreams?

CAMPBELL: I don’t listen to other people’s dreams.

MOYERS: But all of these myths are other people’s dreams.

CAMPBELL: Oh, no, they’re not. They are the world’s dreams. They are archetypal dreams and deal with great human problems. I know when I come to one of these thresholds now. The myth tells me about it, how to respond to certain crises of disappointment or delight or failure or success. The myths tell me where I am.

Stopping for now on page 15. This book in itself is a transcription from their filmed in-person discussion, much of which is viewable in a video by the same name, available on Netflix.