Book of interest: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” (my thoughts)

Today I began listening to the audiobook Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and am currently on chapter 10, putting it on pause until tomorrow. Definitely speaks to my own spirit and life experiences, both directly and indirectly among people I knew.

To begin with, rarely have I heard of anybody else referring to a Memaw and Peppa. That’s what my stepdad’s parents were known as too. Memaw Allen we called her, and Peppa Pete we called him. Weird to write down those names now since I’ve long since switched to referred to them as simply Mr. and Mrs. Allen, having effectively divorced myself from accepting them as kin since back in my teenage years.

J.D. Vance’s description of his Appalachian Kentucky-rooted family shares similarities with what I’m familiar with in my section of the Deep South, though notable differences as well. Enough similarities though that his story really is resonating with me, reminding me very much of various family members, particularly my Papa (my maternal grandpa, not to be confused with Pepa Pete mentioned prior). Though I’d say that my own people tend to be a bit more conservative both in mannerism and political affiliation, as well as religious involvement. Interesting to observe the overlap between our two camps, not that it should be too surprising considering we share historical ethnic heritages (Scottish primarily). His people and my people came originally from the same regions of the United Kingdom at roughly the same time, belonging to the same socioeconomic class as well. Some went to Appalachia whereas others populated deeper parts of the South. The rowdiness he described there among his people is reminiscent of that which was described by Dr. Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which also resonated with me. But the differences are worth noting here. He spoke of his people being Christian yet rarely attending church services, whereas many of my people remain lifelong active in their churches. He tells of his people voting Democrat because they were union folks and associated that political party with being for the working men, while my people viewed the Conservative political party as more beneficial for the working class, if only because they viewed government encroachment on their lives as doing more harm than good more often than not. Though I can see the commonality in the underlying political sentiments despite our camps belonging on opposite sides of the political divide, most markedly in their distrust of getting the Law involved in their personal affairs and vying to align themselves with the political party least likely to screw them and theirs over (though it appears we’ve all failed in that regard, both political parties demonstrating over time that they don’t give much of a damn about the working class aside from paying lip service to gain votes).

Parts of the book struck me as very funny, particularly when he described his grandparents hillbilly ways and inability (and/or unwillingness) to adjust to the established middle class norms and expectations in Ohio where they migrated to in search of jobs and an escape from Appalachian poverty. My Papa shared a lot in common with his people, from the gruff talk to the gun-toting, as well as the years of drinking and the damage that did to his family. But also the defiant pride and desire for your children and grandchildren to go to college so as not to have to work in laboring jobs like he and others in his generation had to. So much Vance said on all of that had me tripping down memory lane about my home county in Mississippi and various family members and neighbors. But we’re not hillbillies since we never resided in hill country — we were rednecks. Though I suppose to outside onlookers we all appeared to simply be “white trash” (a pejorative I do not like or accept being applied to my people).

Our stories differed in important ways, such as my mother thankfully not subjecting us to a carousel of husbands and boyfriends (to which I give credit to my stepdad for working with her as much as he did expressly to ensure that did not happen). And my mother never became a drinker nor a drug user (prescription or otherwise). Was just crazy in her own right, though not necessarily in a uniquely Southern/redneck fashion (we speculate it being due to brain damage likely experienced early in life during a car accident). But I knew those kind of people too. And I also wound up being raised largely by my grandparents and proved better off as a result thanks to the stability that offered. I also grew up hearing rough stories of violence and abuse, including episodes between my grandparents back when Papa was drinking. I can also understand the feistiness  among women that he described, though my own female family members tended to be a little more reserved about it than his. Among my people it was less acceptable for women to smoke and drink and curse like the men did, though some did anyway (myself included). And even among the men it wasn’t viewed as positive attributes to do so, the only exception being when they channeled their aggressive tendencies in the service for protecting the family. There is especially where I saw the women behave like junkyard dogs themselves, because all bets are off when it comes to defending one’s own. It’s a matter of pride and protecting, checking disloyalty and disrespect. And yes, it can go too far and wind up creating total chaos in some circumstances, which I myself have had to discover the hard way in my own behavior and reactions.

Perhaps that’s the biggest difference I noted there between our camps of people: self-control. Not that mine are terrific at maintaining self-control, but it’s definitely prized among them in many social situations. Because they deem it necessary for moving up in this world, though they too expressed feeling conflicted about it when it came to accepting poor treatment from others. There’s an underlying resentment toward those who look down upon you, who see you as nothing more than a member of a downtrodden class not worth much and treat you accordingly, leading to the manifestation of a great deal of class-related distrust (which I too continue to struggle with). On one hand they want you to do well in school so as to have greater opportunities, but on the other they don’t want you to get “too big for your britches” and forget where you come from and who helped you along the way. It does create a bit of cognitive dissonance within us to come up with so many contradictory messages. Want your daughter to marry well but then resent the man she does marry because he’s some highfalutin academic who doesn’t really with the rest of the family. Kind of sets up a no-win situation in a way. But that’s the way it goes. Probably has something to do with why I prefer to date working-class men — feels like there’s too much of a social divide between myself and my people and folks of middle-class origins for a romantic partnership to likely prove workable long-term.

In chapter 7 where J.D. Vance spoke of his Pepa dying, it really pulled at my heart strings. Especially when he stated that his Pepa died on a Tuesday and how that Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Tuesday’s Gone” played on the radio afterward. Was out walking in a neighborhood while listening to that part and had to turn off the audiobook so as to compose myself. Breaks my heart to hear of someone losing such an important father-figure while they’re still so young, he only being in his early teens by then. My Papa died 6 years ago when I was 29 and I still can’t barely talk about it without crying. Just can’t. Losing the big man in one’s life is a tragedy we don’t easily recover from apparently. In J.D. Vance’s case, it was so sudden with no warning, which is really sad. My Papa had cancer so we knew he was going down for a year and a half and tried to prepare ourselves for it, so much as one is truly able to do so. And I can understand how one wrestles with the memory of someone so important to them who also happened to have had drama with others in the family, largely due to his own doing through drinking and acting wrongly. You love him so much, and yet you can’t pretend he was perfect. We’re lucky in that our grandpas did change over time, they did both quit drinking (his in 1983, I believe he said; mine in 1990) and they sought to become better people toward their loved ones so as to find some sort of redemption. I think there’s a lot to learn from life stories like that, demonstrating that many people we consider good and valuable had to make a conscience effort to become that over time. They weren’t necessarily born that way, or their life experiences didn’t incline them toward a more noble direction originally. They had to make the choice themselves at some point, and often it comes after years of pain and strife created within their own families unfortunately. Pain likes to pay forward, and that can be a very difficult cycle to break. Speaks a lot to their merit as people, I would say. To come up in such rough circumstances, to fall into bad habits, and to eventually pull out of it. But we each wind up experiencing these events in life differently, especially us grandkids who weren’t yet alive for the worst of the storm.

He mentioned a book that really resonated with him that actually was about black people in urban areas and the problems they face. Many times I’ve noticed similar overlaps between members of the black community and my people as well. People like Thomas Sowell attribute that to a shared Southern culture, which I don’t doubt plays a role to whatever extent. But this is one reason why I find it difficult to view black people as if foreign, as if their community’s problems are entirely unique. There are similarities worth noting there, as I hope more of us explore in going forward since we’re all Americans here and share more in common than some may care to acknowledge.

When he spoke about his mom claiming her addiction was a “disease” I couldn’t help but cringe. He’s absolutely on to something when he stated that regarding addiction as a disease, while that may be somewhat true insofar as brain chemistry is concerned, winds up causing the addict to have less success in kicking the bad habit. It’s almost as if thinking of addiction like a disease winds up being some sort of crutch whereby one can dispense with personal agency, and that’s not a good situation. He spoke of his Pepa giving up alcohol after years of drinking without much fanfare or going to meetings, and my Papa handled it the same way. Yet I see so many out here returning to treatment facilities and turning to AA only to relapse again and again. But we’re not supposed to judge them because they have a “disease.” Yeah, a disease of the spirit, I’d say. An excuse to give up and give in to craven desires that destroy one’s life. It’s no good. Am currently 6 months into sobriety myself and while I’m proud of me, I’m very wary of myself also because I know me and I know the allure of alcohol and how much trouble it’s caused me and others. It’s an ongoing decision to leave that lifestyle and substance alone, one that has to be renewed with each waking day and bout of temptation. It’s not easy, but it is indeed a personal decision. A choice, ultimately. Yet some folks prefer instead to remain infantile and blame all off on external factors, as if the substance itself has the power to penetrate our bodies without our willful involvement. He has my sympathy in dealing with all of that. I’ve known many people who’ve had drug-addicted and/or alcohol-dependent parents and it sounds like a horrible way to come up. My former partner’s parents both drank (and still do) and I hear the resentment in him pretty frequently, reminded of the fighting and negligence. My ex-step-aunt and her husband were like that too, and it wound up producing nothing but carnage. Some people can manage their drinking and drug use better than others, but many can’t.

He spoke of his mom being unable to comprehend the significance of her father dying on her kids who viewed him as a father figure. Gotta admit, no disrespect intended toward the author (considering how sensitive he admits to being when it comes to his family), that level of selfishness burned my soul a bit to hear. My mother was like that in her own way, unable to comprehend how I could view her father differently than she did, she opting to blame everything in her life on him. And when he died, she didn’t attend the funeral and didn’t even so much as contact me or anybody else in the family. Asked her last year for the first time what she thought of his passing and she simply said she would not talk about it, so I dropped the inquiry. To her he’s a monster. To my aunt, he was her daddy but they grew apart emotionally over time, and I think she was bitter about that. To my uncle, he was a frustrating man but his daddy, and I think he has a lot of conflicted emotions too. None of them aired their grievances to him while he was alive, so now they’ll fester on, unresolved. Very unfortunate. But I can recall back when I was little and my grandparents were fighting for custody of me and I got caught in the middle and was made to choose on the spot between my mother and my Papa. I didn’t know what to do, being only 6 at the time, so I laid still until she began crying and walked away. In her heart I doubt she’ll ever let me live that down, and it still bothers me sometimes since I didn’t know what to do. I had to go with him — he was more trustworthy than her, more dedicated. Yet all she’s ever seen is her own view of him and her own sorrows from her upbringing, conveniently forgetting that she had a kid that had to be raised by them and who bonded with them. But in her warped mind, she just sees betrayal. As a result, I now see her as a lost cause. Like a perpetual child unable to grasp anything outside of her own perspective. Forever. No drugs or alcohol even needed to cause this to be the case. It is very frustrating to deal with, especially when you felt loyal to them all and loved them all.

I hate those memories. They always get to me, no matter how many times I’ve been over them in my head and recognize the situation for what it is. Left me feeling like the best way to stop this stupid cycle was to refuse to ever become a mother myself. Never wanted to let anybody down to that extent. Tarnishes one’s view of motherhood, whether we mean for it to or not. Some are able to overcome these types of upbringings and do better by their own children, which is good. But some of us think it’s best to withdraw from taking on such obligations, uncertain of ourselves in such a scenario and very wary of what the past brought. Guess we all must handle such matters in our own individual ways since there indeed is no one-size-fits-all answer to be found. That aggressiveness he spoke of I feel inside myself and express from time to time, always making me think that it wouldn’t be suitable around children. Not in this day and age, most definitely. Especially not outside of a tribe where such expressions are regarded as the norm, though even there it tends to prove dysfunctional. In my mind’s eye I can hear police sirens and crying, and I’ve never wanted any part of it, never wanted to bring children into such a life. Right or wrong, that’s been my resolve since I was young and remains so. Tangles my emotions to read or hear of parents fucking up, of children have to raise themselves and one another, of new men being cycled in and out of kids’ lives, of mothers who don’t understand the harm they’re creating, etc. Ugh…it messes with my head. Definitely stopped me in my tracks long ago, thank god. I just cannot imagine bearing the burden of bringing new people here and then winding up failing them. Yet, it goes on all the time…

Burden. J.D. Vance mentioned that word in reference to his Memaw having to raise him. I can most definitely relate with that. It’s quite embarrassing to feel like a burden on one’s family, so once again he and his sister have my sympathies on that. My Grandma would say things sometimes too, mostly when I was a teenager, like how she couldn’t afford me anymore. Hence why I kept moving around, trying to find ways to take care of myself so I wouldn’t be such a burden on her and Papa. Though I kept having return to her home, at least until I was old enough to attend college. Went into debt for it but never returned home to live again. Gave her and Papa money throughout my 20s in an effort to try to offset some of what they had to spend on raising me, as well as paying back what I owed her directly. Yet that feeling of being a burden hauntingly lingers on. I feel it with friends and loved ones even now sometimes. Live alone and try to be as independent as possible, yet still it lingers, whispering that if not for others I would be nothing and that I ought to find some sort of way to succeed so as to make it all worth it in the end. However success is to be defined here. Never do I forget where I come from or how much I am indebted to my grandparents for taking me in and providing so much love. Their commitment to me was a game-changer, no question. But I don’t wish feeling like a burden even on my worst enemies. Messes with the head and trains you to see yourself as a lesser-than, like a little parasite — needy. Because you can’t help but be needy as a kid. But when your own parents can’t or won’t take care of you properly, others have to, and that entails a sacrifice. I don’t know if it’s possible for such a realization to not color one’s outlook on life. But such is life. Guess it’s most important to take to heart what others have been willing to do for us and to carry that love forward in whatever ways we can. They made a choice because they love us, and I’m infinitely grateful for that. The alternative would’ve been to be perceived as a burden by people who didn’t give a damn about us, which would’ve been so much worse.

I know I’m rambling off on here a lot about my own people and upbringing, but this book tapped into all of that. And it’s a very good book so far. Very worthwhile. The author became a lawyer, so he really did manage to succeed. That makes me very happy for him. I look forward to continuing on in chapter 10 tomorrow.

Sitting with “Splitting the Atom” once again

It’s easy. Don’t let it go. Don’t lose it.

These lyrics continue to invade my thoughts at random. How I perceive this is it’s saying that indeed it is easy to let it go and lose it. In short, to lose some important part of ourselves. Therefore aim to resist doing so. And that can’t help but take diligent effort, especially considering all that we’re up against at present. Modern dragons are every bit as ferocious as those of ancient legends, despite the different shapes they may be taking now.

It is easy to let go of what matters more. This concern strikes me regularly enough. Too easy to be lulled into an abyss that proves unworthwhile. A matter plenty of us continue to wrestle with.

Conjures up questions on why we’re motivated as we are. How much of it is worth striving to change and what is better off being accepted? It will divvy up differently depending on each individual. Can’t help but do so.

Full lyrics follow:

The baby was born
Nettles and Ferns
The evening it chokes
The candle it burns
This disguise covers
Bitter lies
Repeating the joke
The meaning it dies
Pass me a coat I’m not afraid to leave
I’m letting you know
I know what you need
I’ll turn you around
This beautiful town
And then you’ll believe it when your eyes then deceive you

It’s easy, don’t let it go
It’s easy, don’t let it go
It’s easy, don’t let it go
Don’t Lose It

Its getting colder outside
Your rented space
They shadow box and they
Paper chase
It never stops
And we’ll never learn
No hope without dope
The jobless return
The bankers have bailed
The mighty retreat
The pleasure it fails
At the end of the week
You take it or leave
Or what you receive
To what you receive
Is eternited leave

It’s easy, dont let it go
It’s easy, dont let it go
It’s easy, dont let it go
Don’t lose it

Incandescent light at doors
In adolescent menopause
In little clicks you got the music stops
The needle sticks and the penny drops
The summer’s gone before you know
The muffled drums of relentless flow
You’re looking at stars that give you Vertigo
The sun’s still burning and dust will blow
Honey-scars I’ll keep you near
Our blood is gold nothing to fear
We killed the time and I love you dear
A kiss of wine we’ll disappear
The last of the last particles
Divisible invisible
The last of the last particles
Divisible invisible

Haunting song that lingers on the imagination…if you let it.

Checking up on the MRM once again

Read this today on Rachel Edward’s tumblr blog. (Actually had to create an account on tumblr just to be able to access her writings — my days of remaining a holdout on most social media sites appear to be numbered.) Rachel was formerly involved in the MRM (men’s rights movement) and affiliated with AVfM (A Voice For Men) and its spin-off, the Honey Badgers Brigade, that is until that all ended in recent months for reasons I am still not completely clear on, having just learned of all this earlier today.

Anyway, here is a relevant excerpt from Rachel’s tumblr blog:

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 09 20.06

The rest of this post can be accessed directly here.

Her thoughts expressed there ring true and sound pretty similar to what I’ve been arguing throughout the last 3 years after first stumbling upon the online “manosphere.” Steeping oneself in a bunch of hate, surrounded by a bunch of haters, particularly when you’re already personally traumatized and in need of healing, is a recipe for disaster, both politically for the group/movement and for the individuals therein. That is my stance, and it’s the same complaint I have launched against feminism in the past. Turning one’s personal pains into political propaganda winds up creating an emotional, reactive movement while also using its members as mere fodder to suit such aims. I don’t know about everybody else out there, but I don’t like being used or having my personal past paraded as little more than another example to bolster other people’s political ambitions.

It’s enough to make anyone batty over time.

One gripe I’ve publicized pertaining to the MRM and AVFM specifically is that there apparently needs to be a division between its marketing efforts and its general membership where people are still struggling with their past problems and in need of resources and quality camaraderie rather than having their dirty laundry aired publicly on the same site. I understand people oftentimes are airing their own dirty laundry on there without being told to do so directly, but through so many choosing to go that route it’s created a hostile, unwelcoming environment for all on-lookers and newbies interested in learning more about men’s rights activism. Instead of being presented with various issues and concerns and potential solutions for addressing them, we outsiders wander in and see a slew of guys lamenting their pain and angrily denouncing all women as “parasitic” and bashing feminists (mostly young internet feminists, mind you). That strategy doesn’t help their cause the way they like to think it does. But you can’t convince them otherwise and I’ve tired of trying to say much to that crew.

People get really upset and claim it’s all really about protecting and promoting men’s rights, while we also learn about drama behind the scenes where higher-ups are angling to make a buck off of the success of this movement (Paul Elam immediately springs to mind). But this is the problem with intertwining the personal and the political — it creates a sticky, disorienting dynamic where damaged folks are prone to be taken advantage of by others who tell them what they want to hear or who convince them to see members of another group (or sex, as is common in this case) as “enemies.” And once enough people get wise to what’s going on, they’re likely to feel even more disillusioned and frustrated. These are all reasons why I’m no longer a fan of identity politics — or politics in general, for that matter.

I can understand the desire to run toward others who claim to have gone through what you’ve recently experienced, who claim to have some answers, who appear to offer friendship and camaraderie within their movement. The allure attracted me back around the time I was 18 or 19 as well in terms of the feminist movement. But try not toeing the line and see how many remain in your corner and friendly. Try asking probing questions and observe how irritated this makes your fellow activists. Or disagree on their ways of going about promoting certain agendas, even where you both do agree on the underlying issue being a problem, just not on the tactics being used to address it. Doesn’t usually wind up remaining a warm and welcoming experience for long when that’s your modus operandi, IME.

Movements are most fond of “yes men” — people who will go along with their agendas without asking too many questions or voicing too many complaints. That may be suitable for conformists and the collectivist-oriented, but it’s not typically a good fit for individualistic-minded folks. Hence why so many movements splinter and factions choose to go their own ways, as began occurring decades ago in feminism. Some people indeed are more herd-oriented than others, but some of us would rather go it alone than bite our tongues and deny our own self interests for the supposed “greater good.” And this is what I’m pointing at when I keep mentioning how we’re not all on the same team and never will be. Differing interests, differing agendas, differing outcomes desired, etc.

Frankly, I don’t enjoy being led by someone unless I am damned certain they are honorable and upright and have their own shit together first. Because otherwise we just wind up trailing reckless egomaniacs and charlatans while they spiral down. Power corrupts, particularly when it comes to people who crave power and yet don’t possess the fortitude and integrity to handle it. Not that I’m claiming to possess such fortitude and integrity myself, for the record — hence why I am not aiming to head (or join) any movement and content myself with playing in this online sandbox, interacting loosely with other individuals who happen my way. Little else.

But I did sign back into AVFM last night for the first time in a coon’s age. Probably haven’t signed on there since 2013. Why? Curiosity, and the desire to interact when the mood strikes. Probably doesn’t hurt to have a few critics around in any movement. I’ve dragged numerous excerpts from their forum back here to showcase over the last 3 years, but it feels worthwhile now to go ahead and speak directly at times. Perhaps because my personal life has finally simmered down so I’m not as distracted with that drama any longer. For whatever reason(s), I’ve routinely felt drawn back into observing what’s going down over in their corner of the internet. I do care about men’s rights, just as I care about women’s rights, hell, human rights. But I really hate to see movements make a mockery out of people’s suffering, and it’s also sickening observing the lack of growth among so many of its members over time. Look, I have a LOT of room to grow myself and am not standing in judgment on that point; just that it seems a pity to allow social and political activism with so much potential to devolve into a mud-slinging, bashing, incessant complaining, label-tossing, sex-separating cesspool. What good does anyone figure will come from that?

But people will do as they wish. So I suppose my job these days is to observe and share resources when I find them. Or help in batting around ideas occasionally. Or questioning faulty logic. Not sure what else is really of value on my part in this respect currently. Certainly not about to donate anymore money, not that I have much to spare right now. So perspective-sharing is what I mostly have to offer, for whatever it’s worth.

Late December journaling

One day I get an idea in mind and aim to work in that direction going forward; the next my mind reasons it’s way out of it or grows dim or disappointed over other life events that have a special knack for upsetting any equilibrium I might establish for a minute.

Been doing a lot of thinking lately and won’t bore people with all the details, but I’ve come to realize that there is a Nazi that resides in my own mind. Continue reading

Friday morning journaling

As has been the case all week (not that it’s uncommon normally), I woke up earlier after only a few hours of sleep and am unable to nap before it’s time to head out to the rest of my day’s appointments. So I’ll write instead.

Superficiality is the name of the game these days. That’s true all across this country and however many others. Feels especially true around here in this city. I sit back and observe it while I’m out. Won’t pretend to like it and won’t attempt to become better at it, though it’s what others tend to want. They have each other to play that game with — no need for me to join in too. Just weird to listen and see how people play up to one another and how they police one another into “remaining positive” at all times. They try that with me as well, but I have no time for it. Not interested in making “friends” like that anyway. Perfectly content sitting by myself, enjoying my brew while listening to tunes and leaving the other people to mingle in the background. Most of them aren’t my kind of people anyhow.

I see how some of them look at me and understand how cliquish this area is. Raised up together, work together, grouped up. Doesn’t appear they understand much outside of their bubbles or people who don’t aspire to become part of their bubbles. But ah well. I’m not going away. Gonna be around. Likely going to continue staying to myself for the most part while out also. Not expecting folks to understand one way or the other. That’s fine. Just nice to be back out again. Even oddball soloists are social beings with social needs.

Nice to meet the ones willing to be real, willing to talk directly and honestly, even at the risk of offending others. Willing to admit their past mistakes and to show their humanity without cloaking it in a bunch of conformist niceties. By that I mean being willing to speak up, to say no, while also showing real compassion for others. I find those kind of people inspiring, particularly compared against the rest who prefer to pretend, to play stupid games, to say what they think you want to hear, who act catty and passive-aggressive and flaky. Those games confuse me too much. Wastes too much of my energy trying to read between the lines and grasp what they really mean. Yet their attitude tends to be the norm, so far as I can tell. They seem to prefer to be well-liked and to come across as “fun” and carefree and non-confrontational. Well, they can keep it. That’s not how I am or what I aspire to be.

To be serious around such people is to invite criticism for being too “down” or “pessimistic.”  lol  People see whatever they want to see, hear whatever they want to hear, and it matters not the words you actually speak. Thoughtfulness (meaning one who sits with their thoughts) is like a repellant to the types of people I speak of here. Because that’s what they’re running from, I assume. A lot of folks come out with the ambition to drink themselves into nearly a stupor and to jabber on about the latest gossip and where they’re vacationing next and how much they spent on their clothing and how much they (fanatically!) love their pets, ad nauseam. I’ll listen to some of it when they mosey over and share it with me. But if I bring up some ideas, some thoughts, perhaps a philosophical inquiry I’m considering or an interesting article I recently read, they tend to glaze over in a hurry. Not all of them, but most of them. So I learn to sit fairly silently for the most part and just listen to what I’m able to, per my custom. Though I do find it interesting when I pipe up with a life topic, particularly if I state where I’ve been wrong in something in the past, they immediately launch into the “get over it” spiel. Not supposed to admit any wrongdoing apparently. Everything’s supposed to remain private except gossip about others, so it seems. That’s a very weird thing to me. I’d rather speak of my own thoughts and experiences than to speculate about the lives of others, but that’s just me. I find that barrier to communication quite odd…it’s another script belonging to those who believe public personae are everything. I don’t subscribe to such ways of looking at life.

But the majority likes to think it rules. Likes to think it sets the parameters that the rest of us are to be caged in by. My answer to that is “no.” Especially now. I’ll smile and say my “hellos” and “goodbyes” and keep it fairly light for the most part, but I won’t pretend to be joyful when I’m not, nor will I play up to people who will only speak behind my back first chance they get. Not worth it. Dumb game. We’re getting too old for this shit. Many choose to go along in order to get along, and that’s fine for them. I’d rather sit alone and wait for the two or three people who are actually interesting to chat with, who have more to them than what’s on the surface. While I understand we all have our internal lives and our lives behind closed doors, some (perhaps many) prefer to present a wholly different impression to others while out and about. Almost like a traveling form of Facebook where people brag about what’s good and pretend that’s all there is to them or their lives. I find that odd, but whatever. The only problem is when you’re not like that, it’s perceived as some sort of weakness, as if they pride themselves in the narratives they carefully construct for public showing. I’m in a whole different world from such concerns at this point. I just want to be human. Plain and simply, in everything that entails.

Others don’t have to like it, but I’m not asking permission anymore. I am a serious person, and a sensitive person as well, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Been told I’m “overly analytical” my whole life, and so what? Been told also that I am “intense.” Have we come to the point where mindlessness and superficial emotionality is all we’re willing to tolerate? Where we view others as mere entertainers for our own kicks and that be all? Looks pretty pointless to me. Mind-numbing is what it often is, and for what? To take flight from reality? Well, it’ll persist regardless of whether we seek to actively lobotomize ourselves or not.

Tangled paradoxes

In each corridor I go in search of answers another paradox shows itself. Was just chatting last night with a buddy and this topic arose, since I can’t shut up about it. I’m always left frustrated by how all seemingly good ideas still wind us humans up in what appear to be unwinnable conundrums.

If we fight some other power to keep it from overtaking us (as in the cases of countries waging war), we risk our own society becoming damaged in the process. In the case of warfare: through maintaining standing armies and the risks (and empire-building) that go along with that; through attacking foreign nationals who very often are mere civilians not belonging to the extremist groups said to be presenting a direct threat to us (which then diminishes people’s respect for our nation’s military actions and gives rise to protests among our own citizens); through the exorbitant costs associated with waging war and how that impacts our economy overall, including how the military wound up transformed into a permanent employment sector in its own right; through soldiers potentially winding up psychologically or physically impacted as a result (and how that then impacts their families and the morale of the nation); through corporations finding ways to cash in on the war games via State contracts, which then provides them with an incentive to further lobby to keep us engaged in war where it can prove profitable; etc.

That’s just a cursory look at how ongoing warfare has led to negative consequences with lasting impact on a nation and its people and their way of life. And that’s not even going into how militarization has seeped into domestic police forces and influenced their tactics used.

See, the problem here for me is that I cannot figure out how we’re not ultimately going to wind up in a totalitarian setup eventually, somehow, some way. All roads appear to lead in that direction, regardless of people’s good intentions or what great ideas they might originally be operating with. Because technologies have changed the way the whole game of Life is played anymore, as have modern economics. The complexity is inescapable at this point, and yet history has taught us that the devil is in the details. What this might mean here is that the means employed determine the end outcome, unrealistic utopian fantasies set aside since they hold no real bearing. And it also means that any highly complex setup is vulnerable to corruption and ‘siphoning’ at various levels therein (as in the case of corporations getting into the mix and seeking ways to profit, even though through doing so they add greater complexity, which then further obscures the total reality of the situation, making it all the more cumbersome to apply necessary and effective checks and balances). Economic efficiency becomes a high priority, which comes with its own drawbacks in terms of how we humans are expected to mold ourselves to fit these demands. Before we know it, maintaining the system in question at all costs becomes a primary focus, because we’ve come to depend upon it and are accustomed to it and basically form an irrational attachment to it, even when it’s demonstrably creating more problems than it’s capable of solving.

The dog days are over…

If we minimized the size, scope and roles of our government, we’d potentially leave ourselves open and vulnerable to other nations that fortify and strengthen their own. And if we further strengthen and enlarge our own, this cycle of ramping up never ends — forward to totalitarianism. Can’t truly opt out or escape since the problem’s gone global and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. This places us in the precarious situation of forcing all other nations to stand down against our demands, lest we wind up being made to stand down to theirs. MAD (mutually-assured destruction) is still with us — it never left and it likely never will.

If we don’t secure our borders, we risk being invaded, if only by an onslaught of immigrants who then wind up dramatically impacting our culture. But if we close our borders, we’re trapping ourselves inside every bit as much as we’re working to keep others out. And, realistically speaking, how does one truly and sufficiently go about securing a nation’s borders? The most determined will likely still find a way, especially along coastlines. This leads back to a massive top-down operation which is only possible under a powerful government. Which then, again, helps pave the way toward totalitarianism.

Another buddy and I were discussing the other day his concerns over climate change and what possible options people have at this point for reversing this trend (if one accepts climate change as a human-exacerbated phenomenon). He speaks of wind and solar power and people growing their own food and living simply. That all sounds well and good, BUT, again, climate change is only one concern among many that humans face today. We can’t put all of our energy toward addressing that, not when that’d leave us wide open in other areas. (See what I said above already about warfare and immigration.) Not to mention that the vast majority of people, here in the U.S. and elsewhere worldwide, don’t view this issue as being the numero uno concern to tackle. Plus, plenty of people are open to nuclear power because they’d rather that than accept drastic changes to their lifestyles and be forced to make sacrifices. Beyond that, these massive wind turbines and complex solar panels are sophisticated technologies requiring corporate manufacturing. Keeps us tied into the money game, which then keeps us supporting this global economic situation, whether we want to or not and likely to humanity’s detriment in the long-run. But it’s inescapable at this juncture.

In continuing our conversation on the matter, I told this buddy that if it came down to jumping on board with a top-down scheme that claims to be capable of handling administering such an undertaking as retooling our energy infrastructure, I’ll personally have to side with not. Not that I don’t care about the environment and not that I don’t think renewable energy is something worth striving toward (or getting back to), but the top-down scheme is yet another avenue toward totalitarianism. It helps pave that road to hell, all good intentions aside. This depresses him to think about, understandably so. But consider how China behaves as if its manufacturing base doesn’t care and how our nation cannot do much to change that. Even if we boycott their products, at this point they’re too powerful and it’s already too late (Thanks WALMART and other big-box stores). Probably shouldn’t have shipped so much of our manufacturing infrastructure to that country in the first place. But what’s done is done — our lack of foresight has screwed us once again.

This all ties in with conversations on how “Leftists” talk the talk when it comes to “green living,” but in reality they’re as tied in and dependent on the current status quo as the rest of us. Driving a Prius doesn’t really change a thing. Small drops in the bucket might make us feel better, like we’re at least doing our part to try to improve environmental conditions, but very often it’s just another illusion. Why? Because we live in a massive infrastructure, a concrete jungle, powered by heavy dependence on oil and coal, and even if we switched over to nuclear power that wouldn’t imply our biggest worries are behind us. Possibly Chernobyl-izing more arable land sounds every bit as folly as anything else humanity has managed to step in thus far.

Sound pessimistic? Yeah, I know. Yet another reason for why I’m not having kids.

Any and all attempts to reverse these trends or to take an alternative path is fraught with equally bad, if not much worse, consequences. We have a massive global population and must contend with the competition that arises over resources as a result. And the complexity of the technologies we in developed nations rely most on are fueled by the big money game. One way or another, major corporations are here to stay (unless we manage to across-the-board knock ourselves back into the Stone Age somehow). Government can either attempt to regulate them or become enmeshed and intertwined with them, the latter already being the case. So big government’s here and big business is here and neither are going anywhere. Any ideas we come up with to try to overhaul life as we know it will depend on these entities aiding us. Because asking them to stand aside and not obstruct us just isn’t realistic anymore. All possible solutions will be handled by some sort of centralized power, top-down system. These entities indeed intend to maintain the power they have already and to expand it where possible. That is their driving goal, for better or worse.

And this is where someone like me can’t sufficiently adapt. Have to so long as I’m here, but really resenting where it all appears to be heading. What other alternatives are feasible? Split this country into several sovereign communities (as it once was intended to be) where each does as it wishes and no centralized power can dictate, and we’ll probably wind up invaded by both Mexico and Canada by next week. Simply because then they could. We’d be rendered defenseless. So the “traditional” dream is dead, folks. I too like the idea of people living on the land and staying out of the muck so long as they’re able. Best of luck to them! I don’t begrudge people for doing what they think is best during what time remains that they can get away with it. But I see limits on the horizon. Eventually the old ways won’t be allowed to fly any longer, and they won’t prove sustainable or practical for most. Not in this setup.

Welcome to modern life.

I don’t know what to say to us right about now. Feels like nearly all advice is pointless. People are going to do what people are going to do. And I suspect some of those unable or unwilling to adjust will turn destructive as a result. That’s to be expected from obstructed people whose lives feel devoid of meaning, made to compete with machines that grow more sophisticated by the year, made to play a game that not everybody can win at (or even nominally succeed at). Such is modern life. Some will give up before even leaving the starting line. And I won’t be surprised if a growing number of people choose not to have children as well…kind of like caged animals in a zoo reacting to being kept in captivity. Won’t surprise me a bit. And there’s where we get into another arm of what will pave the way toward totalitarianism. The trend is already being labeled as “domestic terrorism,” though I prefer to simplify it by calling it what it is at root: insanity.

Insanity, as I prefer to refer to it as, can (and will) take many forms. People today sure do love to diagnose one another with various psychiatric labels, but in truth we’re all struggling to various degrees, pseudo-scientific explanations aside. Some cope better than others, but it’s mostly a matter of putting on an acceptable facade. We really have no idea what goes on behind the masks others show to the world, much as we love to speculate. Some insanity plays out in rather benign ways and is being catered to and exploited by Big Pharma. More severe cases warrant lock-up in mental institutions or prisons (which are fast becoming the same thing). All of that already plays into the power-structure-that-be. And when someone flips out and decides to go psycho on some random group of people, this reinforces the necessity of expanding domestic police forces and is then also used to justify them beefing up their security measures. Which corporations exploit by peddling wares to law enforcement agencies that allow for greater surveillance of the citizenry. This paranoid panic drummed up among the citizens through the popular media encourages us to turn on one another and to snitch to authorities, seeing as how we’re not all on the same team and regard one another more often than not as strangers worthy of suspicion. So we feed the beast, through our own actions or through alerting authorities to “questionable suspects,” and around and around it all spirals.

Where it ends, nobody knows…

Sound like a happy and productive future? Sound like something worth celebrating? Sound like a cause for optimism?

People say that we somehow need to regain the reins of this System, to figure out a way to subdue it and overhaul it, but time for that has passed. We’re now committed to it. We necessarily depend on it while simultaneously fearing its scope and power. The System is entrenched, and we’re entrenched within it, both as employees and citizens dependent on everything it offers in order to maintain our livelihoods. And what alternative is there?

Fight it how? Lobby to change a few laws? ha  Go for it, folks. Try that. As was brought up in a recent conversation, the moderate people do indeed wind up making concessions and compromises that inevitably just dig them deeper into this mess. The so-called “radicals” on the fringes, misguided as they may seem and indeed be, are the only ones willing to make a big stink, and how many do you imagine will wind up imprisoned for their troubles? But, then again, what alternative can the radicals bring to the table either? Thousands of communities going their own ways apparently won’t work anymore. A break in law and order would just result in opposing groups taking advantage of one another and seizing key resources for themselves. Because that’s where we stand today — saturated with several decades of easy living, forever seeking the easy way out, competing and pushing boundaries where we think we can get away with it — yet still up against other powers-that-be.

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good people in the world. But it only takes a calloused, self-serving, social-contract-dismissing minority interest to fuck it up for everybody else.

So there we have it. Where can we as individuals go from here when this is the outlook? Is this merely a problem in my own perception? What is still worth looking forward to and striving toward?

Anyway, my break is over and I need to head back to work.

[Lightly edited since for punctuation and greater clarification.]

Pondering on the conundrum that is modern life

Lately I’ve been in a pretty funny mood. And not funny as in haha, funny queer. Queer as in odd…

Do you ever get the feeling your life is already over? Like you’re personally losing your own battle within a whole society that’s caged by a rapidly-changing and crippling culture? I do sometimes.

Sometimes I get to thinking about that notion put forth by Erich Fromm where we’re proving caught up in following unrealistic fantasies that are not truly feasible options, certainly not at this point, but we do this because we, individually and collectively, don’t want to have to make the hard choices that require big sacrifices. We’d rather sell our souls and hold our breath and pray some external force might someday intervene. Comforts have made more and more people soft-bellies over the last several generations, myself most definitely included there. With soft bellies comes cowardliness. But that’s not to say non-aggressiveness necessarily.

Teddy Roosevelt has been accredited with remarking on this problem over a century ago with the following statement:

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life.

 

Theodore Roosevelt wrote these words in 1903:

There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man’s heart and soul, the man’s worth and actions, determine his standing.

 

Sadly, we dropped the ball on that one, and right out the gate. Heart and soul, worth and actions, should be what people are esteemed for, but look around. Elite families of ill-repute wield inordinate power in the political and economic/corporate spheres. Who’s deemed deserving of celebrity status these days is a frickin’ joke more often than not.

And how many of us were even raised to keep such principles in mind? I know I wasn’t and find myself far behind the curve the more aware I become of what’s actually valuable and what’s a waste of time and effort. In my estimate, most of what generations of us have been taught to believe is bunk and leads to nowhere worth being. And yet we’re saturated with that shit after having come up steeped in it for years on end, to where it becomes a serious question of what we’re capable of doing at this point, both when it comes to transforming ourselves and wider society and its current trajectory.

It’s a serious question as to what possibly can be done now, at this hour, when we’re up not only against concerns of sacrifice but also have been invaded with legal red tape that effectively ties our hands and restricts our choices. Does this not call for a revolution to undo what’s been done? And yet, such an event would be attended by a relatively small minority who would be stomped out by police and military forces and turned over by their fellow citizens in the name of patriotism. So political revolt seems impossible, especially when so many would rather protect this status quo since it’s all they know than place faith in an angry, anarchistic mob polluted with individuals with no clear direction for the future beyond that single action. In a society where the citizens have grown extremely dependent on services, goods, and aid provided by the government and major corporations, to fight our government is to leave ourselves open to direct corporate rule — true, full-blown corporatism, sans the political puppetry. That doesn’t look like a solution so much as a bigger and worse problem, and so-called “libertarians” who support such an agenda should properly label themselves as corporatists instead.

But fighting through the legal channels is proving an expensive, time-consuming nightmare where even if you do win out, nothing stops those who oppose you from continuing their fight until on down the line they’ve managed to sway the balance the other way. It’s a game, a teeter-totter. What can be accomplished through that, especially when the masses lack the funds to go toe-to-toe with anything backed by major corporations in a legal battle? In this way, the proper legal channels are proving to be more of an obstruction than a route to justice.

So what then? Boil it back down to one’s own life and still we feel swept with the tide. Pressured into accepting technologies we’d rather ignore. Pressed to spend more and more money on anything and everything. Drummed into a stupor by the news and its threats of war and fear of crime and never-ending list of potential traps to look out for, from con-men shenanigans to consumer review nightmares. Which gets us clamoring for more government oversight/police protection, which then has led to domestic police forces being beefed up nearly to military standards in some cities. Try to protect yourselves and find out how much red tape can restrict you there too, depending on where you live and what methods you employ.

Then we see gender relations all mucked up and women being encouraged to utilize the avenues presented by the State to extort, creating an atmosphere of mistrust between the sexes, as well as among the kids they bring up in the middle of their drama. And that sort of experience can leave scars on all involved. Not that it takes the power of the State to create problems in American families — plenty do fine in creating chaos and suffering all on their own without the State’s help or interference, even where it may have been warranted and even needed. Life seems to go that way sometimes…

I don’t know. I’m not sure what the “good” worth striving for is at this hour.

There’s plenty more I can say on this topic, and I will as time rolls on, but this is enough rambling for tonight.

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.

Loose thoughts on the anti-feminist sentiment

I have mixed feelings over the anti-feminist sentiment expressed by plenty in the online “manosphere.” Me personally, I do not consider myself anti-feminist so much as non-feminist. Feminism, taken as a whole, has had its positive contributions, legally and philosophically, but it has also overstepped in many places and increasingly appears to have gone haywire. The more I continue to learn about how feminism has developed in American society, the more aware I am that it’s turned into bubblegum lunacy on the surface and serious political dysfunction underneath. But whatever. Cultures are influx — just the way of modern times. We see where we’ve been, so now it’s a question of where to go from here.

As stated many times already, this whole system as it stands today appears unsustainable on innumerable levels. Might keep it running on for many years to come, but eventually it’s going down. That’s what I personally see. And inside this super-society we have all these bureaucracies and special interest groups and incestuous relations between Big Business and the government. Feminism is asserting itself today as a definitive part of that scheme. It bolsters a Big Government setup, full-on. Because what is feminism without the power of a State to back it up? It relies on Big Government to legally impose an increasingly restrictive way of life on the citizenry. Dogma + the power of the government = tyranny. Feminism has developed into one arm among many in this modern beast of a society that’s been constructed over the last century.

Human aspirations gone wild. Politically. Economically. Scientifically (and pseudo-scientifically too). Socially. Romantically. Professionally. A whole new world. Unprecedented in scope and complexity.

We live in the era of rapid game-changing. Not entirely brand new, been going on a long time, just sped up as time moved on, and now here we stand.

Leaves me not knowing most days whether to laugh or cry. Crazy times we live in.

Because of this realization I try to exercise greater patience with my fellow humans and myself. We were all born into this and can fall into traps without realizing it for years, if ever. Humans have an ingrained need for a sense of belonging — it’s just natural. But now we live in a time when it’s out with the old and in with the new, which includes bringing more and more people the option to identify with an assortment of mass movements. Takes shit to a whole other level.

How few stop to question if everything’s gotten too big and too complex to where it’s become a machine operating on its own after having gathered enough momentum? And is this even the right road to be traveling on? I don’t personally think so, which leaves me out here in outfield observing what’s unfolding.

Dismiss that as the backwardness of some freakish paleo-paleo-paleo conservative (or uneducated, unenlightened ape) if one must, but that’s pretty much the vantage point I’m operating with nowadays. So all this feminist vs. anti-feminist, Republican vs. Democrat, leftist vs. rightist, Big Government vs. ambitions for Bigger Government, religiosity vs. atheism, widespread educational indoctrination, corporatism run amok, etc., etc., etc. bullshit does nothing really for me. Though I can’t help but take note since this is the present reality we’re contending with, it’s so off-the-hook to where I do what I can to take a step back from it all. Crazy times being an understatement.

So what is anti-feminism to me? Just another “ism” in a sea of plenty. People want to fight and feud, then fine. We’re prone to do that. Though I hate to see us lose sight of the question of what it’s all for. Where are we trying to go to from here? Are we becoming little more than a bunch of nihilists pursuing entertainment, and if not, what are we as individuals and groups striving for? What end goals are people envisioning out here? And do they really think expanding State power is the best way to achieve these ambitions? I, for one, do not.

It comes down to all being a big question.

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Recorded the post above on August 3, 2014: