Sunday, September 3, 2017

I've Been Taking it Upon Myself to learn SocalHistory as well as I know All That Oregon Trail Shit.

Culver City CA is perhaps best known for the attempted annexation attempt by Los Angeles proper leading to the entire Sinatra genetic line, including those killed by roving Lombard armies a millennium prior, bleeding great rivers of gore from the ears live in front of tens of millions live during the 1965 Academy Awards. The town was founded in 1921 after Henry Culver presumed to sacrifice his father instead of the infant son the Ocean Gods had asked for and was thus forced to flee some miles inland. The son Worsiyixxx Culver was transfomed into a cephalopodic dread who spoke nothing but a thousand blasphemies in an endless cycle and served five successful terms as mayor between 1972 and 1982. It is rumored that the murders attributed to Richard Ramirez were in fact the work of Worsiyixxx's formless children, and that the secret number ritual manner of these killings portends doom for not the direct victims but for all life throughout time.

There are no recorded cases of a biologically conventional child having ever been seen in Culver City. And a noise described as like a stadium full of weeping as at a papal funeral is known to emanate from the trees on winter nights. Some have claimed that all ninety seven annual versions of the Culver City phone book are identical to the letter but this amateur research has not been confirmed by experts.   

Friday, August 18, 2017

So Anyway

While still in Denver a man with a Slavic accent asked where he could find a 'good beer bar." I wasn't quite sure and after pointing to some arbitrary joint down the road he invited me to join with the cost on him. It was a decent place, middlebrow with the standard bar default of ESPN on the TV's.

I made out rather little of what he said. He said he was from Russia or so I thought I heard and when I tried to speak back I found his English to be at a third grade level maybe though he said that he came to the US some ten years beforehand with his brother. He said he had a wife back home and showed me a picture that someone real anyway had made a Facebook account for and I am in inclined to believe him on this point. He seemed to express disapproval of the olde Western Materialism though again I could not quite make out his words. He asked me why I wasn't married and when I shrugged he said "freedom right?" and slapped me on the back. "Family man. family is the cool thing" he said.

After three gins a veteran of the Bosnia campaign from way back came in and we started talking. It happened that my Russian friend was actually a Serbian who had shot at Americans in this affair and perhaps successfully ended a few. The bartender needed to jump in to prevent a fight and I was compelled to leave my fourth drink behind. I never leave a drink behind and I had liked this guy much better when I thought he was a KGB spy using me to get the skinny on the US underground. But I suppose that "wisdom comes from disillusionment" and all that. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

And Then My Friend You Die Mannnn

I saw a security guard pumping the man's chest while I saw another telling him to "not leave us right now"just as the ambulance was pulling up. The medics hooked him to an EKG  put a pumpable breathing mask over his mouth and he was aliveish when they took him away soon after; uncovered with chest spontaneously moving. Whether it was an OD or simple heart attack I don't know though given the brevity of his resuscitation I would guess the former.

I had seen my grandparents slowly fade from cancer in their eighties and then my cousin from the same at much younger. But I had never before seen a non-elderly person (the man looked to be in his forties) on the frontier between death and life to maybe go either way. And I had just read a very emotionally affecting comic book about dogs trying to survive the human post-apocalypse in the Denver library where all of this went down. The combination made me lose my composure in a way I never do; openly weeping chanting Hail Mary's and just publicly acting the damn clown in sum.

And yet why the hell do I write of myself when my heart hasn't stopped lately? I usually only read the top three or four articles in the Denver Post and if the man died it would have made page eleven or so. If he had lived it would not have been mentioned at all. Justt another day of homeless junkie shit at the DPL. So your guess is as good as mine.

I seem to recall the nineties spike in heroin use (if that was even real instead of a moral panic) was more amusing to me than this one, probably because my own death was of course more distant. Here I've seen a man carrying a foily of brown about this very same library. He lacked for a lighter and was willing to share with anyone who had a Bic. It happens that I had three but generally reserve the right to use for tobacco trades. I've also seen a skater kid openly hitting a meth bubbler in the park across. The quasi-girlfriend I had and seems gone now quasi-bonded with me over a shared luck in dabbling in heroin and managing to avoid needing it after.

You've probably heard the same noise I have about white people doing more heroin. I cannot speak for whether this is actual or anecdotal. You've probably also noticed the obviously-not-incidental softening of normative attitudes towards addiction. It is oft-stated but still true that the high from mainlining must be truly wonderful for all that.

I've loosely associated myself with a loosely associated group of buskers, train hoppers, hippie-punk hybrids, heads. One train-hopping kid was stuck in Salt Lake in six months, a fate I fear more than death. Last night someone stole his pack with cold-weather jacket inside. He claims to have once chased a public domestic abuser for half a mile for the chance to serve him in kind. This strikes me as self-mythologizing but we've bonded even so.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Denver Notes

She loitered in the McDonalds with a crew of train-hopper sorts. The prototype of blond hair and blue eyes, dilated by drugs or the high plains summer sun or both. I confess to viscerally finding her state Just Worse because she was beautiful. The meth sores about her arms & face and general air of anxious poor health. I confess to being more afraid that she may die soon as the impersonal concept of female beauty than as the person she is and I know that I'm bad for this. If I spoke to her this would probably change but no excuses.

The partner I've happened into on these streets is also blond, a bit older at forty. Her name is Kelly.  She's a bit more bold than I am about pissing in public bathrooms then buying nothing while I'm a bit more bold about pissing outside. We're a gender-traditional couple. She regrets not having kids and claims to have come from a well-off Pittsburgh area family that went bust with industrial decline. Maybe so. She is prone to conspiratorial rants and ranting in general, reminding me of my stepfather in the way she gets intoxicated on her own voice not in spite of but precisely because I do nothing to prompt her. We're probably not going to last, though we may slough off to LA together. Lately we've been doing our seperate routines during the day than maybe finding each other to share a blanket at night. It's better this way. Even sweet.

I spottily search for a source of cash. A sketchy day-labor place on East Colfax said I might be used to clean up after a Rockies game crowd if I showed up early enough on the Fourth. I showed up at noon to find thirty men calmly waiting outside the unopened office in ninety five heat. I left and got high on leftover joints from the previous night's Civic Center fireworks show instead. On the Craigslist for Denver gigs I saw someone offering weed farm work for anyone willing to work 12+ days six days a week or sometimes seven. I frankly suspect the post to be a sex slave front or perhaps a cannibal front. Or good weed isn't quite so important as all that even if it is legitimate. Normative quality has already reached a point where two hits of flower can be quite overwhelming. Or perhaps that's just the still illegal-state amateur hour in me talking.

I honestly fear for this city's economy once legal weed eventually does become the norm nationwide. In industrial districts and historic minority ghettos there are weed stores next door to weed stores next door to bars next door to weed stores. An outfit called Green Dragon has already gotten into the Walmart predatory capitalism game. Forcing Mom & Pop joints under through underpricing both here and in the mountain resort towns.  The technical law against public smoking carries less weight than laws against Bokononism in Cat's Cradle. Pipes are out and proud at every bus stop. It is somewhat cliche but still true that one can glean the culture of Denver by simply noting its place on the national map. The Midwest and California had a baby. Except now they've gotten divorced and the city has moved in with cool dad Cali. For as long as I've lived the conservatives about me have openly feared a bohemian bleedover spreading from here onto the Plains and now their fears are indeed become, sort of. Though White Midwestern quietude mildness of personality and fixation with civic respectability still hold great power behind the yoga and the grit.

I've had a nineties-key lime pair of shoes that I was coming to love stolen from me in my sleep; also a pair of shades that were quite handy in the bone-dry UV blue of Piedmont July. Though I've also found a pair of sandals that I may come to love in turn. The possibility of being of a chain of stolen shoes leading to stolen shoes leading to stolen shoes is one I am fully aware of.

There's a park across from the library where I write this now. A few days ago I was compelled to use a port-a-potty there; used needles scattered across the enclosure like dead bugs; a cup filled with dope residue blood and water, an impossible cocktail of shit vomit and blood in the bowl. I can reasonably hope for a night's sleep without dreaming of the scene on some night before I die. Until then my appetite for food has been lowered a bit, which is good for my budget and the summer heat both alike.   

Monday, June 12, 2017

There was Hail In the Morning And I Swore I Perceived a Death Vortex in My Dreams But Oaths Ain't Magic.

I recall that scene in Deadwood where Wu, the town murder victim cleaner, affirms his alliance with Al Swearengen by cutting off his Chinese imperial braid and screaming "America!" while throwing the braid to his pigs along with the latest dead men. Why the scene occurred to me today out of all days in the past fifteen years I don't know; and I don't mean to proclaim any great doctrine on the merits of assimilation or lack thereof. It is enough to say for now that such a Fucking Epic conversion in Damascus is not what adapting to a new country actually is. And I would guess that the scene was written to intentionally mock the idea that it is or should be.

A few years back when Gangnam Style was big  Bill OReilly had a piece that looked at the song from a 'kids these days' angle, with some bullshit expert in nothing decrying that it was 'just a flashy video with words that don't mean anything' reflecting the shallowness or short attention spans of our times etc etc. But the words do of course mean something in the Korean language written by a Korean man for a Korean audience, and anyhow it would be indisputably beautiful if somebody did just go sqsaxdsfevfrgbkorhbthjkp over a standard 2010's pop beat and the song blew up. If some perverse validation makes you need to believe that society is on a one-way decline from a superior past then you'll have to look somewhere besides music for such validation. Because we all know full well that our ancestors wern't playing fucking Mozart at barn dances or weddings on their homemade violins. They were singing about getting drunk and getting laid same as forever.

I do not quite recall if the Stephen King story turned Schwarzenegger movie "Running Man" inspired the video game "Smash TV" or vice-versa though I think that the movie came first. The film is a somewhat plausible police-state dystopia where maybe a dozen convicts or so per week get killed in this bloodsport gameshow. Smash TV is more fantastic with you as the lone contestant armed with a photon gun or multi-barreled grenade launcher against five hundred mooks at a time with blackjacks pocket knives or bike chains. I would think that such a Gettysburg pile of dead every week for how ever many years would be unsustainable in even the worst totalitarian hell but who knows? In North Platte there was once an arcade where you paid five dollars at the door for hours of limitless gameplay with no need to keep pumping in quarters. I beat Smash TV in about an hour in a half with about twelve continues or so as I recall, or maybe far more. Then I lost at a game on the new Sega Genesis within a matter of minutes because I kept intentionally killing my friends. Contemporary video games are so hung up on giving some pretense of reason for violence like "I'll give you thirty gold pieces if you rescue my daughter from the stone lords but first you must see the Oracle for the Sword of something or another" but fuck all that shit Photon Gun, "gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew"

At about the same time that I was playing Smash TV I was also watching the Lonesome Dove miniseries and being fucking traumatized by that guy who was killed by So Many Snakes and other things as well. In the years that I've grown and aged since then I've come to love the Eastowood/Leone style revisionist westerns and more contemporary stories set in the west as well. But I cannot say that Lonesome Dove has much going for it and find it sad that Larry McMurtry is better known for that book and its sequels than for 'The Last Picture Show". The only way that Lonesome Dove could be called good is if McMurtry intended it as an exaggerated grimdark parody of the revisionist western which may after all be the case. That snake scene for example is based on an old American folk tale of someone who knew someone who heard that someone was killed by a hundred water moccasins except water moccasins do not live in packs. Getting bit by one would probably kill you in 1885 but getting dozens of bites having a quick spasm and being done within seconds like the rodents that the venom is intended for is not real thing.  Then there's the pattern of characters being poly-murdered; the man who gets shot, scalped, castrated then mercy-killed with another shot. The soddy settlers who are shot and killed then hanged and killed then burned and killed. A bit-role cowboy is killed by lightning that ricochets of a pair of longhorns. A Native American villian named Blue Duck is an impossibly potent magic menace in the Anton Chigurh vein until he just gets busted by a local cop off page.

This along with popular characters being killed off-page through jarringly arbitrary means in the sequels leads me to think that McMurtry did in fact intend a comedy here. I could get behind that, and I can also patriotically support the idea of the Great Plains having its own Odyssey in this Texas-to-Montana cattle drive. Except McMurtry takes what could only be called an imperial Texan whatever attitude towards the northern plains. He sets a large part of the tale in Ogallala and a nearby farm with no mention of North Platte, which had already surpassed Ogallala as the regional hub, or for that matter any mention of Paxton Big Springs etc which were also already founded by this time. He alters out history to the point of having Red Cloud himself attacking the Platte Valley itself a full twenty years after the railroad went through, just to kill off a secondary femme-fatalish woman and her lackey. I realize it's fiction but my mandatory k-12 history lessons would have been about nothing else ever if this had happen and if time-machine history-fucking is not what the story is than you can't fuck with the real world that hard alright?

My parents cat Bullseye has gone missing for several days. He may have gotten killed trying to cross the busy road to the tall grass by the railroad where the rabbits & rats he like to disembowel and eat alive are. Or he might have made it across and is now living quite comfortably through warm June nights with a full belly. Time reveals all in due course. Most good closing lines are pat lies. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Eyes You Shall Never Have

I'd suppose that the recent turn towards demagoguery or willingness to "believe" nonsense, both here and abroad boils down to humans feeling a near-instinctive entitlement to some intimate warmth or assurance of being a good and important person from our primary social groups; and refuse to accept that when our primary social "we" is a nation-state of tens or hundreds of millions such-family like unqualified acceptance can never be had. People want the validating sense of power that comes with being personally attached to such immensity, such wealth, such military prowess, but cannot stomach that even if every groceria was a good old grocery store that neighbors in contemporary mega-societies must still fundamentally exist as strangers to each other, to be judged by each other with a strangers coldness.

This can lead among other things to a performance of zeal similar to what was seen in an earlier era of autonomous urbanization in the nineteenth & early twentieth centuries. An exaggeration of tribe and creed to the centrality of self. An effectively nihilist will to presume that the sociopolitical ideals they share with their fellows are not only true and good but the only truth and the only good. That anything done towards the end of an impossible historic triumph is permitted. If shared belief is the natural basis of group identity than one can at least escape any legitimate judgement from the stranger. While if such beliefs do not stand to scrutiny than never mind. The believers need only to win history and seize control of its writing to eliminate all judgement and all scrutiny forever. Cue Orwell and all that.

Or to state it in a slightly simpler way look close at what Trump supporters worry about most and you'll find a panicked denial that they are not the cultural default; or that there has never been such a default at all. They cannot stand that they are just another subculture within a centerless ballpit of only subcultures, bound to be seen as odd by the other balls just as they find the others odd in turn with no transcendent authority to decree that the others are wrong, that the habits they've learned will win them admiration within their own social groups can possibly be despised by other groups. The core of their reality-denying media-hating blather against "the establishment" or "elites" is an emotionally redeeming myth that this state of affairs is artificial. That the strangers judgement is not based on sincere conviction but is only ever a shallow gesture of fashion and thus not a real judgement.

I recall Rick Windham, hunting & fishing columnist for my hometown newspaper. Windham was among the leaders of a group that that sought to get hunting not just allowed and sanctioned by Nebraska law but double allowed, enshrined in the state constitution as not just legal but objectively virtuous by authority's decree. Windham would advocate for this in his columns, raving against the "elites" in the unicameral who were unable to hide their annoyance at this petty man, and also warning against alien California hippies who might take over our values one day. He wanted hunting to be universally seen as normal while at the same time wanting to be seen as personally exceptional for being a hunter, while viewing reality and humble good sense as mere speedbumbs in the way of this oxymoronic paradise. He may or may not have been aware that moral unease with hunting or meat eating did not really appear out of nothing in the 1960's. I've read Oregon Trail migrants express disapproval of deer-shooting, and even as far back as the early 18800's the English thinker Jeremy Bentham wrote that the question regarding our treatment of animals "is not can they reason but can they suffer?" Still Windham tells himself that he believes in a falsely stolen Man's Age when everyone agreed that hunting was proof of Self-Reliance or a talent for handling oneself in the wilderness. The idea of such unchallenged good regard being artificially denied by elites allowed him to feel that such regard was still his in some sense; to whistle past the fact of strangers being unimpressed by his Power because he simply had none. That he was just another actor in a custom particular to a few thousand rural prairie men in a world of billions, gathering meat with his comfortable waterproof jackets and fetishized thousand dollar tactical scope whatnots while indigenous folk who truly do need to kill their own food do it with handmade spears.

You may have seen those old photos of Native American boys who were herded into boarding schools then forcibly styled into a "Victorian gentleman" look down to the haircut. These scenes are of course horrifying to modern liberal eyes and also quite baffling. Forcing Christianity upon these kids was evil enough; yet though also easier to comprehend given the perceived cosmic gravity then mandatory short hair mandatory cuff links etc. Even in a time when it was not only mainstream but the mainstream to presume that only Europeans were civilized we must surely have been able to see that at least some of our customs were value-neutral? That there is no inherent link between Aristotelian logic and a snazzy tux?

The answer is that cosmic gravity has never really been what it's about. Those who proclaim Western superiority may seem to make a rough kind of sense when they say that our particular way of thinking is what creates the wealth technology or medicine that makes life better for everyone, or facilitates more elaborate art forms that more strenuously push the human mind, or that the Christian faith is a sublime moral truth with unique powers to minimize the bad and maximize the good within human nature. All such gravity and pomp and appeal to first loyalties is meant to make us feel obliged to shut down our critical reasoning because that is not what it's about.

When the Cheyenne, Pawnee, Assinibone etc had their first contact with European fur traders they found "our" manner of dress to be ridiculous, they thought their our masculine custom of the handshake was the most asinine thing they've ever seen. Native men would pass the time in winter camp by mimicking the white handshake with each other and then falling to the ground laughing for hours on end. If Europeans are not the Only True Civilization then we cannot say that they were wrong to laugh. That's what it's all about. If neither we nor anyone else is the superior culture, if there is no human prototype to provide a center, then most people will always look ridiculous to most people, most people's favorite food will always be disgusting to most people, most peoples spiritual beliefs will always be preposterous nonsense to most people, most peoples customs and day-to-day habits will always be a stupid waste of time and life to most people, everyone's language will always sound like an infant's blather to most people (Because this is in fact what all of our languages are with a bit of architecture tacked on post-facto.) There is no transcendent standard to save us by dictating that we must not be seen as freaky little cartoons by most people who will ever live. If you think of how schoolkids will on occasion latch themselves onto a bully out of protest-too much-will to equate weirdness with danger or evil, or to find comfort in the idea of weirdness being Someone Else by definition. That's what it's all about. Behind the ethnic chauvinist's talk of love of the Eternal Folk or final historic victory that child's insecurity is all there is. It was never really about saving the boarding-school Natives souls. It was always about making them be us in visual mundanes so that they would have to laugh at themselves to laugh at us.  A love for freedom or equality is not the instinctive human default. Their rejection does not strictly require any special trauma false consciousness or socioeconomic malice. There shall always be people who reject equality difference and choice for as long as there are humans who hate being judged by standards they cannot control.   
I've asked conservatives online about their understanding of patriotism from time to time. Of in what way exactly they think societies benefit from presuming their own natural inclination to the good. Of why such an assumption is more than an indulgence-for-its-own-sake same as any drug high, let alone an ethical obligation. The answers I received were not quite coherent though not necessarily vicious.  I did of course receive many answers to the effect that we must see the US as inherently good because soldiers died for it, and when I pointed out that to presume a thing must be good "Because" people died for it is a distinctly Jihadist style of reasoning well, this did of course bring out the viciousness quite reliably.

The popular right-wing fixation with "elites" goes all the way back to John-Bircher days at least, or even to slaver fantasies of "soft" boarding-school Yankees. There's a tellingly needful desire to believe that liberal or leftist beliefs cannot have organic roots from within American life and culture but but must be invented by unnaturally bloodless professors or Hollywood hedonists. From here flows an obsessive search for hypocrisy, double-standards or some other sign of insincerity among these imagined opinion-masters, and a great will to torture logic to the greatest possible contortions in order to find "examples" of such hypocrisy. I would guess that this willfully delusional form of anti-elite posturing has many roots; a 'Strong-Father' style of upbringing that leads one to feel that all statements of belief are assertions of authority & command by definition, an equation of fame with power that flows from a desire to believe that the world is a coherent place intentionally scripted by a small group or recognizable faces, or is anyhow an easy equation to make when the mass media we feel connected to the world through bleeds into a common soup in our memories.

Claims to the double standards of liberal elites are generally filled with intentional bullshit and sometimes outright lies in regards to the Clintons omnisexual orgies or Beyonce worshipping Satan and so on.  Still I think there's a certain flavor of sincerity behind it all. A genuine sense that to participate in society at all is in itself to acknowledge it as the exclusive ideal, that one must necessarily live in a state of depressive loss if they do not assume the cultural norms they were born to to be basically what is Meant, that a counterfeit claim to superior personal enlightenment is the only conceivable way that one could stand the prospect of social forms not being Meant. Of course everyone knows better than to claim outright that society is perfect, but the human tendency is to acknowledge only such flaws as can plausibly be blamed on deviance from the True Path that our ancestors lived for the sake of deliberately paving For Us.  We have a hard time grasping how one who truly identifies with the social group could possibly bear to think that the norms themselves are the problem, that "Our" norms are themselves the problem. It is easier to believe that only those who perversely live for the sake of holding common folk in contempt could think so.

If a desire to transform society is not in itself hostility towards its members, then how else after all does one handle their personal conscience after being part of that society all their lives?  In-group superiority may be zealously asserted or quietly assumed. But if it is not believed in at all then the prospect of being personally complicit in evil precisely because  one followed the rules suddenly looms horrifyingly large. There is no more primal or predictable human folly than to become more complicit in evil through the very act of denying that we possibly could be. It is when this backfire effect reaches a certain critical weight that history Goes Bad; when societies collapse, war tyranny and disease prevail, and humans die together by the cityfull.

I recall an Evangelical Christian spiel that I saw online or maybe heard on radio or TV. I forget the medium but it did happen and  I'm not just making a fantasy land where I'm an omniscient observer I assure you. I recall anyway that the man or woman or bodiless text said something like 'We know that God loves us, and that since he loves us there can be no valuable loving gift then his holy word on how we are to live.'

Strictly speaking there is indeed very little in the way of 'so now what?' that necessarily follows from 'Christ is Lord' 'Mohammad is the last prophet' etc etc...

There is a strong human tendency, close to universal if not quite, to understand love for parents as primarily gratitude for providing a model of what humans are and ought to be like, of what men and women are and ought to be like. I would say that conservatives are those most intensely inclined to this but we'll get to that. And the tendency is by no means foolish or bad in itself. It has functionally 'worked' for most people in most times. Most people in most times have simply taken on the life of their same-sex parent upon adulthood and living memory of this being what Life Has Always Been has only recently passed even in the West. Of course it still effects how we think. We've all heard those boilerplate lines about everyone thinking tour parents are the worst people in the world as teenagers then learning they were geniuses as we age. The possibility of anyone seeing their parents as the random specimens of humanity they are, a bundle of probably non-superlative virtues and flaws, is implicitly denied and such denial is the very point of this hoary old folk wisdom. Most of us cannot yet wrap our heads around the possibility that whether our parents have been exceptionally wise or foolish by standards of the particular path they chose may just well be irrelevant to ourselves and our own choices. We have entered the age where "How Life Works" dies again and again with each person, or even several times in the same life with each change of job or address. To time for choosing to see this as desirable or not may have never been in the first place and is far gone forever now regardless.

There is a primal liberal impulse that presumes wisdom to be a good ethical concept of how the world should work. There is a primal conservative impulse that presumes wisdom to be deft navigation of how the world present-tense Works. The latter does of course require a circular justification of whatever toxic social norms or brutally enforced hierarchies happen to be there when one's toddler brain grows into sustained consciousness. Still it is a simple survival need for the conservative impulse to be the childhood default, and as one grows it remains less disheartening vertiginous and disquieting. I do not mean to be flip about systemic oppression but there are reason why the liberal impulse is truly socially normal among only the historically fucked over, and with critical exceptions among even them. When it comes to white Americans or other historically favored well, we've all seen the kid who gets mad when his grandma chooses not to give him her candy like he's come to expect. We've all been that kid. Of course getting the candy is proof-in-itself of always deserving it.

Consider now how so many languages have close equivalents of fatherland, motherland, patria... I've seen and heard many lefties express exacerbation of how anyone could oppose same-sex marraige say, or openness to lifestyle choices in general, with some variation of 'don't societies exist to maximize human happiness?' Sure. So we believe by definition. Conservatives though presume that existential direction from the Patria is the ultimate reason for society, and that such direction must have priority over personal happiness when it comes to choosing. (That is insofar as they even acknowledge an ultimate conflict here. I've read several right-wing commentators matter-of-factly place existential doubt in the first rank of human agonies along with grief heartbreak etc..) The inscrutible-to-outsiders intensity of homophobia or antifeminism has a long list of overlapping causes, one of them being a sense that dictation on how to be a woman or man is one's due reward for a lifetime of obeying speed limits workplace dress codes grade school chewing-gum bans and all the rest. Conservatives love "freedom"; because that's a normalized American feeling that they're 'supposed' to have, but view any prospect of a dramatically greater social openness to people living or identifying as they will to be an oxymoronic negation of why we have bothered to organize ourselves as we have.

Or to state it in another way, the embrace of "alternate facts" is and has always been about a loathness to accept that Ultimate reality is independent of one's social environment or concept of How The World Works; that the social order, hierarchy, and day-to-day- habits of living for society's members are subjective choices that will someday fail even on such points not based upon evil premises. A refusal to accept that the 'slippery slope' fundamentalists warn against is indeed real and also eternally inescapable, that one ultimately has no choice but to improvise what they think is best in the moment,  perhaps to be wrong and rightfully damned by  humans a thousand years hence with better ethical codes than our own, who rightfully hold our respectability standards in scorn because there's are better. I could have born to a place and time where slavery and/or human sacrifice was routine. I will never know if I would have been the brave rebel who challenged either but probably not. The odds of this are necessarily low for any given one.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Deer Sausage

When I was eight or so a borderline gun nut told me that he thought Red Badge of Courage was boring. Though of course I was eight and hadn't read anything heavy yet. I guess he assumed that I still had a hairless penis after all and so would Just Know what any given war story was all about. It would be some years before I read "Badge" and some years more before I could guess where he borderline gun nut was coming from. Crane's message in the story is that there is no such thing as courage being proven once and for all in a Great Caldron of Truth; even in the extreme case of industrial warfare, because courage and cowardice are themselves circumstantial, not even existing as consistent traits within the same person over life. I can see why that message would leave a bad taste in the rural white men I grew up among. Men who perform martiality with the same defensive flamboyance of 18th century aristocrats  with their guns their American flag clothes and their intentionally cultivated ease to feel dishonored.
The truth is that we don't get eaten by wolves so much anymore. Murder by human villain is and has always been a rare cause of death no matter how unfailingly overestimated. Even war itself has famously grown more assembly-line impersonal through the years. The fact is that no man's personal courage, even if truly exceptional, is likely to have any effect on extending either his own life or that of a loved one. Heroism and loving will to protect mean nothing in the cancer ward. Still men are raised to orient our entire beings around a Great moment of truth that shall probably never come. There's a vertigo in that, an unplaceable cortisol itch, a sense of failure born from the very absence of any chance to fail. If we lived in some alternate timeline where feminism had somehow never come to exist in any form, or a greater variety of sexual habits and identity had never come to pass masculinity would still bear the smell of protest-too-much, wounded theater, zoo-simian-jerkoff, hamfisted/kneejerk denial of challenge, bullshit puffery, every man a codpiece of himself.

I read in Roger Ailes NYT obit of how he once spoke of a time when he punched a hole in his office drywall while abusing his staff. Then someone performing the act of admiring the boss wrote "don't mess with Roger Ailes" around the hole with magic marker. I happen to be intimate enough with drunken bro-pads to know that punching through drywall does not require extraordinary prowess. It can be done with average or less upper body strength. So if this is the proof one offers to the world for being So Badass then I don't know.  This may inspire a sort of Christian pity though such is best reserved for those who make a hopeless stand against overwhelming social overdogs. And Ailes very intentionally chose a politics that assured he would never have to do that. So I spose that fuck his dead ass is all there is.
One may look at Ailes or any of his Fox News shouting heads or Ted Nugent or any number of others who overact manhood like they in an amateur drag show and feel assured that they can't be for real. That no one truly confident of having common sense or ancient mandate of nature on their side could vamp it up so artlessly. There's some truth to that. Exaggerated male power is in no small part a reaction against modern challenge to white male power. This is commonly understood by most sides. But humans don't fear loss of power simply due to vanity or sadism or some Nietzschean vital force but also (perhaps mainly) due to sense of identity and sense of certainty of who different people must be to each other's eyes that comes with an established and familiar power structure. When a modern man views an 80's action film where Musclesweat murders a thousand cocaine communist Muslims and finds Musclesweat to be an utterly serious role model he isn't "just" posturing but also truly needs a role model that badly.
The attraction of cartoon alpha-maleness for the Fox News crowd is partly ego to be sure; the idea of such invincibility and impossible control being our natural birthright. The main appeal however is that it is simply an external standard for how to be. An outside authority to measure oneself against and see if one is "doing it right". A freedom from having to improvise oneself as they go along with the eternal lack of certainty of being good this entails. Some people just never grow out of playing House or Monkey-doing their parents in the mirror. I say 'grow out of' as if it is a matter of intelligence or sophistication but no. It is a matter of personality and life experience that may be had by some with more raw IQ than myself. Many people if not most just need an outside authority to existentially guide them. This can lead to bizarre cosmic dogmas on the only true way to mow one's grass, or a thousand other small conformities that sentient creatures should be above. It leads at a price of massive suffering to narrow and cartoonish standards of True manhood or womanhood. Even so there are many who will tolerate these cartoonish and narrow standards, or even embrace them Because they are cartoonish and narrow, because if they are cartoonish and narrow than they are Fucking Clear. It is only the mud of the human world as it actually is that gets in the way of such clarity. The reality of billions of men of invariable and often mutually opposing tempers and desires.  The reality of culture/how one Knows Life to Work being an accident of oceans mountains and time. I would guess that a large part of what attracts people to right-wing and other pseudo-populist junk media is the assurance that such muddiness is artificial, that it is a uniquely modern decadence invented by whoever the elites are; & thus that clarity is still the natural human default though none have ever seen it.
 A friend of Theodore Roosevelt's said that 'Death had to take him sleeping. If he had been awake there would have been a fight'. Sure, and he was a sick old man who would have lost. To put it another way there is of course no decadent modern tendency to 'forget' our war veterans. We remember our veterans with great fixation truth be told. The men we do forget are the skeletons of Pompeii found arched because they were trying to shield their wives and kids from the raining fire. The skeletons of the wives and kids were of course found in the same place because they died at the same moment. Some of these men must of been exceptionally strong or brave by human standards but then a mountain.
 I've written of how manhood has always and must necessarily have an air of wounded posturing, even when no challenge to male dominance was visible on the horizon, and though I've hypothetically mentioned a timeline where there was no feminism or gender challenge the truth is that of course the absence of such challenge could have never happened. History must be filled with those who examined the supposed primal contract of men being in charge in return for sacrificing ourselves when trouble came and and known that this emperor was naked yet chose to keep quiet. Someone or another would have spoken up at some point.
 The world is perpetually bloated with hero vs. villain stories. While no one makes movies about lowering the death rate from diabetes by 12% over thirty years. We obsess over terrorism and crime for a galaxy of  racial reasons and also due to an attractive sense of control in the assumption that deliberate villainy is a primary cause of human suffering; that death does not sometimes but typically come in a tangible form that can be punched back. This obviously has poisonous effect on our culture and politics. There are for example those who will always blame the possibility of terrorism on cowardice or political correctness for so long as they lack control over death itself, which shall of course be forever. Still they will never stop 'believing' that mastery of fate can possibly be had with just a little bit more power and force.
It is obvious to say that men backlash against feminism, trans & gay rights or 'The Left' in general because we want to stay in control. It is more to say that we backlash because we want to be "Needed" in control. People want to be needed. 'If everyone is equal and free to be as they will then how am "I" to Know that I am needed and good?'   This is the emotional problem that the left is always burdened to answer. This is what the incoherent ravings against 'the elite' boil down to most always.