Saturday, January 31, 2015

Giving Due Respect to Erasing

In 2008, then again in 2015, birguslatro writes approvingly of suicide in Respecting and Erasing, where she metaphorizes a profitable and celebrated Rauschenberg work, in which Rauschenberg erased someone else's drawing and put it on display to great acclaim. Here's a picture of the result, followed by this one's response:



You see a blank piece of paper, and say, "[I]t’s a beautiful object, evocative and moving in its silence."

You used the right word, because you've objectified it. It is nothing except an almost-blank piece of paper. It could be switched with another, similar, paper, and you wouldn't know the difference.

1) Would that paper's exact duplicate (or unidentifiably-similar copy) be equally beautiful, evocative, and moving?

2) Are all blank pieces of paper beautiful, evocative, and moving?

3) How does it affect a blank piece of paper's beauty if that paper is art-quality bond paper, stained slightly brown, or pulled from a college-ruled notebook?

4) Are all erased drawings beautiful, or only this one?

You're memorializing the paper as a symbol of your excitement at Rauschenberg's act. Children erase drawings all the time--why is it not equally exciting? Is their act--the elimination of art--any less original or exciting than Rauschenberg's act? No; actually, it's more original and exciting. Rauschenberg knew he could get fame and fortune by his act, and did so for attention. What he's done is like the Sokal hoax, but earnestly--and decades later, people are still discussing how wonderful the Emperor's new clothes look.

5) Are you cognizant of the American Central Intelligence Agency's role in promoting postmodern and abstract art, partly for domestic cultural effects and partly to make the U.S. appear to be intellectually advanced in comparison to Soviet Russia?

6) What other pieces of paper are not silent? Paper usually doesn't make noise on its own. What makes this particular piece of paper's own brand of silence "moving"?

If the paper's emptiness was really meaningful to you, you would be able to see that meaning in all blank papers. You'd also be able to see it in all paper mills. All trees. All specks of sunlight. All waking moments. All blocky diagrams of photosynthesis.

By doing so--by seeing the beauty of "possibility" or "endings" in all things--you would realize that you were using this particular object, and those like it, as fetishes. Here is the dictionary link for fetish so you see what I mean. You're excited about an idea, so you choose to vest some foreign object with the power to stimulate your feelings about that idea. The actual object isn't important, anymore than if looking at a dairy cow, or a number 2 pencil, filled you with awe of Rauschenberg. His choice to poop in one particular can, or to take a picture of one particular condemned subway station, gets confused with the definition of "art." That's a definition that's only useful if it doesn't include everything, ever.

(As I've said before, my work of art is the universe, which I have framed. Therefore, as creator, my interpretation of this work is that, when I portrayed Rauschenberg framing that particular piece of paper, I was portraying the futility of people who think that art is all-encompassing. When I portrayed you as looking upon my Rauschenberg-work, I did so to demonstrate what error was. Soon, time will bring us to the part in my work where you realize how correct I am. You're welcome. If art is everything, then it's nothing.)

It's just fine for you to see beauty in, say, "life," or "sorrow," or "self-determination." The danger of projecting your feelings onto fetishes, though, is that your mind can become too distended, and lose its coherency as it attempts to outsource emotional data onto extra-neural storage. Fetishes gradually take over your original feelings, becoming more important than the feelings which originally gave them power. This is the root of the biblical hostility toward icons: if you worship God through a golden calf--or a cross, a mother planet, a particular ritual, et cetera--your connection to the icon becomes more important than what the icon was supposed to facilitate. Like an insurance policy or a transfer tax, the "helpful middleman" gradually overwhelms the original purpose, until the original purpose no longer even exists, and the real purpose becomes supporting the middleman. This is how abstract art gained its power over the minds of so many, who were then compelled to defend audacious nothings with the same fervor that they once felt for beauty, truth, and freedom. Enough time spent associating those concepts with empty picture frames, canned feces, and a handful of green dots on a white background, caused them to imagine that those things were beauty, truth, and freedom--and while they cheered rows of umbrellas stuck in the dirt and exchanged five figures for photographs of an old man's bunion, they marginalized decades of actual creative beauty.

That particular tension between academics and rural folk is often caused by the rural folk's realization that academic fetish is the hypervalidation of metaphors of marginal illustrative utility. Yes, a raven is like a writing desk in some ways, and a man fumbling for his glasses and knocking them off the nightstand could be a metaphor for all of our lives from start to finish; yet, metaphor, too, loses its meaning when it ceases being metaphor and starts being definition. It is correct of the uneducated to laugh at all the pedigreedy academic lemmings who vest their jargon with otherworldly powers. If we compare ravens and writing desks too thoroughly, we find that we no longer know which is different--after all, differences are mere illusions caused by our prejudices, yes? Not only do we lose our ability to distinguish between "raven" and "writing desk," we also lose our ability to compare them. Overusing metaphors kills the beauty, and the communicative potential, of the act of metaphorizing. COINTELPRO America, land of evolved propaganda, worked hard at eliminating the complexity of language, in order to reduce our available possibilities for communication and understanding. The end goal, as in the matter of Newspeak, is obvious.

A corpse may turn to rot; the rot may feed grass, the grass may be eaten by faun; the faun may grow to adulthood; the doe may poop in a field; the wheat may grow higher; the farmer may harvest the wheat; the wheat may become bread; the baby may eat the bread; the baby may grow up, and paint a beautiful painting. If the corpse, though, is the painting, then there is no painting. We call the corpse a "rotting corpse" not because it is forever immutable, but because, by our language, we are identifying that, at this particular time, with this particular observation, it is a corpse. Later on, some molecule may pass through the baby who eats the bread, help it grow larger, and help it paint a painting--but the painting is not the corpse. Our words, and our ability to define things at different points in time, are part of how we grant ourselves the beauty of distinguishing between those different stages of being. While it may seem "free and artsy" to disregard them, it in fact robs from us the ability to appreciate what makes each stage unique.

The confused fool who erases a drawing, or who shoots apart a statue, may indeed be part of a greater process whereby new drawings are created or new statues built. If we wish to recognize the distinct beauty of the actions of Robert Rauschenberg and the Taliban, we should do so using different kinds of words than those we use to celebrate people who draw pictures or sculpt statues. After all, it would be unfair to degrade the unique wonder of Neo-Dadaist landfill-gluers and radical-Islamist Buddha-shooters with the work of mere illustrators or sculptors.

* * *

If you're not familiar with the Taliban's work, and are interested in learning more, you can read some about it here. The article is by the Telegraph, although that particular work was covered extensively by American papers, as well. The Taliban were a group of Islamists funded by the CIA to fight Russia.

If you're not familiar with Robert Rauschenberg's work, and are interested in learning more, you can read about it here. His first major showing was in 1951, through the Betty Parsons Gallery, which had been started by the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from New York and Paris. The Jewish Museum of New York offered Rauschenberg a career retrospective in 1963, and during the middle years of the Cold War, the Smithsonian later collected many of his works of glued-together garbage and pictures of famous people, and exhibited them worldwide at taxpayer expense.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Make a TV Show

Okay, we need to pack this place with more mind-feed to keep these idiots going about their business. Let's make a TV show.

Casting Call

First thing, stories need characters, so we gotta have one of those. Some white guy, kinda tall but not too tall, and we're thinking about the working masses here, so not someone too young or too old. White guy, just shy of his youth after makeup. We're going for standard success, so an American white guy.

This white guy, he needs to have one black friend. So, duh, one black friend. That's a no-brainer. We've got a show about a white guy with one black friend--no more than one--and maybe another friend that he can talk about white stuff with. And some hot girl, duh.

So, we've got White, our main character, and Black, his token friend (only one), and Hottie. We're coming along pretty well here.

Anything good needs an air of tradition, and tradition means Great Britain, because that's where everyone decent came from. As soon as you hear a British accent, just like on NPR, it proves that a show is cosmopolitan and stuff. Like, sophisticated. Not some narrow-minded thing about White and Black and Hottie. We're not going for a one-shot, here, but a major series. A definite win among western audiences.

So we need an Alfred to our Bruce. But who the hell wants to see an old person on TV? Not only are they gross, but they die, or get health conditions, and can't manage a sustained TV series. A movie, yes, but not a TV series that we want to be big-time. And younger Brit guys tend to be as ass-ugly as Prince Charles, which really stands out when they're not as old as Alfred of Wayne Manor. Unless they're black imports, and we already have Black, so how the heck will we reconcile this...?

Ah ha! We'll pull a Next Generation, and use a British actor to play our main role, but without allowing him to use his accent. So White will be British, but play a character who's not British. White will fill both the roles of White and Alfred, for only one paycheck.

All right, we are kicking ass, now. We have White Himself, Black Friend, White Friend, and Hottie, and White Himself includes Alfred. Five birds with four stones. Boom, baby!

But wait...we're trying to appeal to all those working schlubs, but it's not a TV show if you're not appealing to everyone. And Hottie can't get down with White Alfred, since there'll be an age difference between the blundering model we'll cast as Hottie, and the sophisticated old bum we'll cast as White Alfred. It needs to be absolutely clear that White Alfred isn't a fag, because there's already, like, plenty of those on shows that are about that, so he needs a girl. And it can't be Hottie since too much age difference is, like, no-no. So we need a hot older woman who can have sexual tension with the main character, while Hottie is there to appeal to younger fans. So we need Older Hottie, so the screenwriters we'll later contract to "write" this thing have someone to use when random romantic tension is called for with White Alfred.

There needs to be romantic tension for Hottie, too. So we'll need some other schlub to pursue her, bone her, lose her, and all that crap. For him, it's okay if he's weird-looking and fugly and all that, since Hottie attracts a different kind of viewer, and we need them to be jealous of White Fugly for occasionally succeeding with Hottie. Then they can watch our show and think, "I could be better than him, and I deserve Hottie more!" That'll keep them watching.

Holy crap, I just realized, if White Alfred isn't using his British accent, this isn't good enough. Because people think it's a cosmopolitan show if it's "international," which means a white British actor, but if he isn't using his accent, we're not getting maximum benefit out of casting him that way! But it's okay; we can save this. We'll make White Fugly someone international. International, but white, and with an accent that shows how cosmopolitan we are without us having to make the main character a non-American, e.g., uninteresting to like 99% of potential viewers.

Okay, okay...deep breath. Recap: we have for our cast of characters:

White Alfred, the Brit who's not a Brit.

Black Friend, who makes the show good-diverse, but who doesn't act non-white and make the show bad-diverse. This isn't some kind of crime drama here, after all. Actually, maybe if we go with a crime drama, he can act non-white, but if we want broader appeal, we'll stick with white-black for Black Friend.

Hottie, who is hot.

Older Hottie, who is hot but made up to be safe for White Alfred to pursue.

White Friend, who talks white stuff with White Alfred.

White Fugly, who is cosmopolitan, annoying, and gets to be occasionally successful with Hottie.

Plot

After characters, stories have plots. Fuck, I hate this part. I mean, we'll just hire some moron writers to type up little dialogues on their MacBook Pros, or save money by buying pre-written script templates and replacing the main characters with our characters, then having our contractors adding a few catchphrases and our-show banter in. But which script templates will we use? What's, like, the background story of our show? We need to give the screenwriters some kind of motivation, or they might go off on their own and start writing new shit that no one understands.

So, plot...plot...well, first of all, what are our characters doing? They can't be doing something new or original, because that stuff is confusing as hell, and no one wants to watch it. They have to be doing something vaguely familiar to most people.

Better yet, it needs to be something that requires no motivation. Understanding motivations and purpose is not something they all do well, thank Satan, so there's no need to hire someone for detailed character work that would help people analyze human behavior. They're not really interested in that, anyway, so forget about that.

Okay, something with no motivation. That means that we need to have a plot imposed upon our characters from without, time and time again, allowing our contract screenwriters to generate a series of recurrent shows that have simple beginnings and ends, and both stand alone and fit into, like, some kind of overall narrative. Like a sitcom where nothing really changes except a few characters leave and a few new ones show up, whenever someone gets a better offer in a movie for a season, or whatever.

A plot imposed from without is golden. Then each new contracted writer can open up a template and kick out a show in a handful of hours, tops. And our characters will just have problems imposed upon them from the larger world, which they have to solve. No one needs to be motivated, or have their actions explained; it'll just be stuff that happens. Even more than casting White or Alfred or Black Friend, this is the pillar of our business.

The best thing to do is to give the characters a job. A job, these drones understand, because they mostly have one. Some kind of job where things just happen to you, and you deal with them because, because, because it's your job. It's just a given. It's your job, so you do it. So, whenever some new thing happens at work, you deal with it, and bam, there's an episode. No thought necessary, no motivation necessary, no need for a character to develop over time, since they'll be at the job and the show will be about the job.

What are the best jobs for this? Oh, easy shit, like a cop, or a detective, or a soldier, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a drug dealer, or a business executive who's important but not quite completely in charge. Something like that, where White Alfred basically gets "assignments." Predictable problems just walk in the door, and he's supposed to solve them, and he has some latitude but not complete latitude, and he has to follow orders. He can be creative whenever the screenwriters think it solves a problem for them, and he can also follow orders whenever the screenwriters think it solves a problem for them. And no one needs to question his motivations, because that's just what he does. Problems come in, they're interesting, and whammo, there's an episode. Assignments can appear at any time or no time. Instead of being accused of deus ex machina, we'll blame it on the hurly burly world of criminal investigation or the stock market or war or the school board or whatever the hell else, where White Alfred has latitude until he doesn't, and then has to follow orders until he doesn't. So plots can just drop into his lap out of nowhere, but anytime he needs to he can suddenly get interested in someone's personal problems and we can ignore his job until it becomes convenient to suddenly have to un-ignore it.

People like sex, but this is supposed to be mainstream, so forget it. They also like punching, shooting, and violence, and they like arrogance, superiority, and mysteries. But we can't concentrate too heavily on any one of those, or suddenly our show is "boundary-breaking," or whatever. We need to pick one and stick with it. It's either a drama, or it's action packed, or it's romantic, or it's...I don't fucking know. Anyway, so, our executive-detective-medic, or whatever he turns out to be, can either face a lot of mysterious drama, kick a lot of ass, or screw a lot of chicks.

Pick a number between one and ten. Seven? Okay, "doctor." Popular choice. Pick a number between one and ten. Twelve? Trick question: the first number leaves us with just "drama." Sure, there might be a punch or a pussy or two, but primarily we're dramatic/mysterious.

Okay, okay...deep breath. Recap: White Alfred will practice medicine, and he'll join up with Black Friend, Hottie, Older Hottie, White Friend, and White Fugly, solving dramatic mysteries. An ass or two will get kicked, a pussy or two will get screwed, but primarily, they'll focus on dramatic mysteries. Sometimes they will ignore White Alfred's profession and develop an inanely myopic focus on someone's personal life, and other times their profession will fix their purpose away from such things. To avoid confusing all the morons watching this, though, we'll make sure that, whenever someone's personal life intrudes, it will bear, each and every time, an eerily similar moralistic point to the one the one being addressed professionally (I think the screenwriters already know that, but I'm adding it to the file just in case we get a newbie).

The Setting

Duh. A hospital. Doctors who run their own offices don't meet enough people. How the hell will we justify Black Friend, White Friend, Hottie, etc., if it's just a doctor's office? More importantly--way, way more importantly--an independent doctor is boring, because then, whenever he doesn't like something, and is complaining about it, people will just say, "Why doesn't he just go home?" or "Why doesn't he just say 'no'?" He has to be at a hospital so he can both be independent whenever the screenwriters see that Starbucks is about to close and the script is due in an hour, and be grudgingly following orders whenever the screenwriters see that Starbucks is about to close and the script is due in an hour.

Not California; everybody knows that. And not Manhattan. Same reason. Everyone knows doctors are wealthy, so they can be from anywhere, and still leave the main characters come across as interesting and worldly. So long as we have Black Friend and White Fugly around, everyone will realize how diverse and cosmopolitan we really are. We could put them in (*&@# Kansas, if we wanted to, and these morons would still lap it up. They'll watch what I want them to watch and THEY'LL BUY WHAT I WANT THEM TO BUY AND THIS IS TOO HOW CULTURE WORKS AND I IS AN ARTIST!!!!213!!##!!!

Easy, easy...deep breath. Anyway, fuck flyover country. We know everyone hates it. And we need Black Friend, and since this show isn't about racism, and includes Black Friend, the show has to be set on either the east coast or the west coast, where people are better. It's just fine to have a show in flyover country with Black Friend, so long as the show has a heavy emphasis on racism. It's not like we're trying to win some kind of award, though, and then end the show after two or three seasons. This is just a money-generator. So pick a coast.

The west coast is basically sexy California or fuggin' hilariously pitiful Washington and Oregon. Hell with those two. California could be good--implies beaches. Beach scenes are mandatory if you do that. Like, cops chase suspects on the beach, doctors have revelations on the beach, teachers use the beach to teach important grammatical concepts...this could be hot. Do we want to see White Alfred on the beach, and Hottie in a bikini? Interesting, but it'll distract maybe too much from solving medical mysteries and interpersonal drama. Manhattan is too played and gritty. And the deep south is essentially flyover country, and who the hell likes Maine? How about New Jersey? It's within easy driving distance of New York, so everyone feels like they know it, especially because of mob shows, and yeah, the Sopranos did well, so everyone sort of knows New Jersey without really knowing it or having been there except during a layover.

Okay, New Jersey it is.

The Pitch

We have to pitch this thing to our friends, and even though we're all pretty close and will be splitting the cash, they won't let us do anything original that might, umm, cause the doofuses who're supposed to watch this to...well...you know. So we need to get some kind of way to make our little drama appealing to our buds, and also to the people who are actually going to watch this stuff.

What do we know about these people? Well, they don't like new things, for one. So we need to buy the rights to something old and attach the title of that old thing to our new project. Or, we could be "inspired by" or "paying homage to" something old that was successful. Successful, and popular, with a guaranteed track record of providing mild entertainment to a bunch of idiots, making established culture look pretty okay, and commonly recognizable enough that, when people hear about it, they think, "Oh. Comfort level. Watch."

What sort of crap is still famous? They know about the Hindenburg, right? Yeah, but someone already did Titanic. Hmm, they like dinosaurs, but not as much as they used to. And they like samurais and ancient Rome, but this is about mysteries, dammit--you picked seven, so stop trying to slip in violence.

Hmm...we've got a pretty damn good idea all ready, but to make it really stick, to make it bigger than big, it needs more. White Alfred, White Alfred, White Alfred...help me, White Alfred...

Okay, okay, let's clear our heads. White Alfred the doctor, investigating things with his friend White Friend, assisted as always by his occasional sidekicks Black Friend and Hottie... These aren't murder mysteries, unfortunately. You did pick seven. We can go back and do murder mysteries soon, since those are so damn easy. I mean, someone gets murdered, what do you do? You investigate. So there's a show. But this guy isn't a cop, or anything...what can lend tradition to him? I mean, General Hospital? George Friggin Clooney? No, we need to draw on the deep well of human cultural tradition. This calls for something at least fifty years ago. Not the Bible...not enough mysteries there...the dark secret of a boarding school in New England? No...although New England will be great for the setting...

Oh, I know! "Mysteries." How about Sherlock Holmes? He's pretty famous. He wasn't a doctor, so our show will have nothing whatsoever to do with anything about Holmes, but we can lift a few surface details to make the pitch meeting easier. When people hear us say, "This is, like, a retelling of Holmes," they'll think, "Oh, I've heard that! I'll watch it!" And just like that, we'll be successful.

Okay, so, Holmes. We can't call it "Holmes," cause I think someone made a movie or a show about that already. But that's why we want to do this! It's guaranteed money, and the doofuses will watch it all night long!

Siiigh...those bastards, they got to it before we did. All right, Holmes, Holmes...Holmes sort of sounds like "Home," right? Especially to Americans. So, "Home." White Alfred needs to be named something that evokes "Home," so that when we pitch this, it's clear that it's a send-up of Sherlock Holmes, even though it will have absolutely nothing to do with Holmes. Isn't that hilarious? We're going to rip off Holmes without even actually ripping it off! It's, like, the next stage of plagiarism! Nothing has meaning, and yet, everything has meaning...kafka, dude.

...right? Anyway, off to make a pitch. Let's do this again next week. To excellence!

* * *

What did we just create?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nuances of Fisco-emotional Gratitude

I had the privilege over the past few years of operating with a high degree of latitude over an inventory of stuff, spread across ten warehouses in several different regional economies, which gave me the opportunity to make gifts. Not little stuff, either, but stuff that would go on a retail shelf for between one and two grand, and which regularly and consistently did sell at that price during that time period.

Because of a wonderful little lack of oversight during those years, I was able to occasionally give product away. There weren't any adverse personal consequences as far as I was concerned--no one found out--and given the nature of my position at the time, there is absolutely zero conceivable chance that anyone who got something free from a warehouse would get in trouble for it. It's theoretically possible (though unlikely) that I would've gotten disciplined in some form, but that never, Never, never would've even been something a gifted person/customer would ever have gotten in trouble for themselves, let alone even found out about. To answer any potential objections in advance, understand that a hypothetical gifted person/customer would've never even imagined that there would've been any problem with receiving it. I.e., if you're at a restaurant, and the manager and three waitresses come over, thank you for coming, and tell you that because you're the 10,000th customer, your meal is free, so you smile, shake hands, take a picture, and walk out without paying the bill, while the entire kitchen staff claps for you. It would never occur to anyone that there was some kind of spooky catch to getting a free box out of one of the warehouses--no way, no how. So shelve that objection.

So, we get the scenario, right? I was able to give away free expensive product for no consequences. We're talking brand-less stuff, stuff that has no resale value (which was why I was willing and able to do what I did); but, stuff that's genuinely useful and arguably necessary for a whole lotta people. These products sold across the country, all the time, thousands or millions a year, for anywhere from one to several grand. And like a complete infant, I thought I would try out using my position to give things away to people. Not just to people who needed these products and couldn't afford them, but to people who could afford them, and maybe had already gotten older versions and would later buy newer versions, but who would find a moment of brightness in their day if someone helped them out and gave them a freebie (or a lowbie, whatever).

(And no, to further develop the point, these products were not controlled substances and/or medical procedures. This is a separate world.)

What did I find out? Well, Americans hate getting stuff for free. Someone could come into the place, look around, show interest in something, and then, if you offer to have it sent to their home, they balk, get weird, and quit. Ten days later, they've bought a different one, from a different warehouse.

Also to further develop the point: assume, hypothetically, that I knew what kind of product went into both the warehouse where they rejected a freebie, and the warehouse where they paid four grand for the exact same thing (or even a demonstrably lower-quality thing) a few days later. Cancel the hypothetically, because in this scenario, I did know that, and they did do that.

Not only did people hate being offered things for free, they also hated being offered a discount. I regularly saw people come in to see staff, talk about something, make a decision, and then walk when someone offered to knock off five hundred bucks. It's exactly the opposite of what game theory, economic science, pop-biology, and all the other mercantilist bullshit would suggest about human behavior (a more developed version of what I addressed in tiny-widget terms in Glamorous Pizza).

For some weird reason, people hated and feared free things even more than they feared a discount. Sometimes I'd take pity on someone I saw looking around, or just feel a human connection, and see someone looking at something with a sticker of a couple grand...and I'd go up, talk about the thing a while, and say, "I don't mind just having it delivered to you." And they chat merrily a little while, stroke the box forlornly, and then shake their head and walk off, empty-handed. Next month, they buy the same thing--the exact same thing--at full price. From me.

(More development of the point: assume that these products were light enough that they could be carried in one hand. They don't actually require delivery. They're nigh-instant set-up, about as simple as plugging in, and they're 100% recyclable, and they don't cost anything to use, they don't produce waste, and no one knows if you have one or don't have one. They don't need to be cleaned, they never break, and you can get rid of it whenever you want and nobody knows or cares. And they're not edible or used on the body in any way, so there is zero heebie-jeebies about "what's it got in it?")

One possible explanation would be that I'm some kind of spooky weirdo, so unpleasant that I give people bad vibes, such that they don't want to take something from my hand--but this duplicated itself with much-more-personable people than I. The same reports come my way: if people find out you're going to do something nice for them, they automatically lose their faith in whatever the product is.

More important than the fact that this phenomenon duplicated itself among the staff is that, during this exact same time period, when I didn't try to be nice to people, they loved me. I could spend weeks in a row unloading, say, flatscreen after flatscreen, cash in hand. And once things were all done and delivered, people would thank me, cry about how nice and perfect I'd been, inform me that I was going on their Christmas card list, ask if I was married or just pre-emptively suggest a single family member that might be good enough for me, etc. They'd tell me what a bargain it was and how spectacular this had all been.

The freebie people? Yeah, a few of them did accept product, over the years. How likely were they to say thanks? Less than fifty percent. How likely were they to say more than an embarrassed, mumbled "thanks" that lasted two seconds? Less than five percent. Whereas, the ones who paid sticker were at nearly a 90% thank-you rate (including getting misty-eyed, hugging me out of nowhere, heartfelt moments, giving me unnecessary gifts), and the ones who got a discount wavered down at about 50-60% for a mumbled thanks, and never hugged me or cried about how nice I was.

As they say in the vernacular, what the hell, right? What would make people be that way? I'm talking primarily about eastern Canadians, Americans, American/Israeli dual citizens, and a handful of British, here, so pretty near to ground zero for finance as far as that goes.

When you're thinking about this, you have to eliminate all of the possible details explaining why this particular set of products might be unlikable or unnecessary. You have to trust me that this was how it went. The only real variable to almost everyone was how nice I was willing to be, and how extremely distrustful (not rudely; just quietly averse) they were about the very idea that something valuable would be given to them by another human being. Being offered it for free spoiled the experience.

It isn't the concept of "free" by itself that bothered them. People take free crap all the time. Free lollipop, free candy bar, free pamphlet, etc. Hilariously, maddeningly, consistently, I saw them do the exact opposite with stuff that held actual value. Stuff that other people would spend, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars on. And it wasn't that they thought I was pitiful and couldn't afford to give them charity, either, because they didn't think the product was "mine," and they knew I could get it to them without any cost to me personally, and they knew I wasn't getting a commission, or anything, based on moving product at or near sticker.

Why? One of the sickening features which game theory, economic science, pop-bio, all that stuff, refuses to take into account (when presented to proles, because of course the nobility understands how and why their theories as expressed in private actually work) is individualized emotional variables. There are hardly any real-life economic/genetic actors out there who even approach the level of "rational actor" hypothesized by the publicized versions of elite competition-style theories, and the majority of people make decisions based on what will make things worse for them, rather than better.

Our markets have taught people to be suspicious of good intentions themselves. Not "good intentions with creepy warning signs," but just good intentions. We know that test groups will rate the exact same food as "more visually appealing" and "better tasting" when they believe it is more expensive, but my association in this regard showed me that things went beyond that. No more tests, no more questioning the overall presentation of the thing--I had a direct view of people, sometimes very savvy people, choosing to pay a lot of money for something that they knew was the exact same thing, instead of taking it for free with no strings attached. Ultimately, I gave up, and decided that the best way to be good to people was to let them blow a wad. Surely enough, everyone else was much, much happier. During my little time simultaneously selling and giving stuff away, I witnessed how people were not only happier about the process of making themselves less wealthy, they were grateful to tears over it. (Seriously, brah, I even got tips from people who paid sticker. And this is an industry where there just aren't tips.)

The most important lesson from this story, for me, was the way gratitude related to the two kinds of exchange--the way the act of someone thanking me was more likely to occur when the situation was an arms-length financial transaction, rather than a gift. There are all sorts of conceivable emotional reasons why people would feel vindicated for paying for something, even if they know it's identical to something else. There's a rush of feeling important after laying down a stack of Benjamins; there's more of a fetish in the product they receive. That gratitude angle was really wacky. People were more likely to thank you for giving them that rush, that "ability to spend," than they were for freely giving them what they theoretically came there to acquire anyway. There's an element of Stockholm Syndrome in there--the idea that we should thank our marketers--and even worse, it goes along with the reduced ability to thank those who have actually been nice to you, as opposed to those who've conducted an approved transaction-ritual with you.

This thing we've created here--it goes way beyond "product" and "acquisition."

I didn't do enough to save them

Succeeding Elements of Selfishness and Acceptance.

As we looked at before, Japan has proven itself able to acknowledge not only what it did wrong, but more essentially, that it did something wrong in the first place. Japan can confess its own sins and take responsibility for the outcome. The west is still obsessed with denying that any sin occurred at all. All the little kids were throwing rocks at each other, but Japan-san was the only student who is able to hang his head before Teacher and say, "I did it, and I'm sorry." The honest repentance is there, and the concomitant self-reflection and improvement accessible only to those who are able to own up to what they've done. Meanwhile, that rowdy gang of hooligans, the Westerson boys, is shrieking at the teacher that it wasn't their fault; that someone else started it; that they didn't throw a single rock; that everyone else is a doody-head; that so-and-so is a liar; that they were trying to stop the fight, except that they were actually doing their homework during the time in question; and in fact, teacher, we wasn't even there! ...with all the concomitant arrogance of the father of lies.

To some extent, portions of French society have been able to admit, "We have a problem with War." Hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago, many other peoples, most particularly in "the east," have been able to do this same thing. Those places look so non-innovative and clannish to boorish Americans because of their very maturity, in the way that a snotty little brat might accuse a peaceful monk of being "stupid" or "boring."

Japan says, "I'm sorry for what I did." The West says, "I did nothing wrong. I am sorry that I wasn't able to prevent others from doing as much wrong as they did. My only regret is that my pure-hearted intervention was not able to save the people who died before I got there, at great personal expense, to save them." That is the sound of a single crocodile teardrop hitting the strings of the smallest violin in the world.

This incredibly dumbass propaganda--the "I could've done more" argument--is endlessly fruitful for western elites. That's why it is so common for western narrative heroes (Superman, Batman, Schindler, Rick on The Walking Dead, etc.) to feel bad not for anything they did, but to regret primarily that they couldn't do more. America is the man who claims he has never sinned, and that his only error is that he is not all-powerful enough to save every single person who needs saving. He rushed into the burning building to rescue 100 children, was nearly burned to death, saves 99 of the children, and while the rest of the world celebrates what a hero he is, the movie shows him mourning for being unable to do more. "Why am I so weak?" sobs Anglo-hero. "If only I'd been alive in 1776, I could have freed all the slaves! If only I controlled every single variable of existence, my godlike, innate, and total unstained goodness could have solved every problem ever!"

Batman saves Gotham a hundred times, is feared and hated by the populace, and gives his entire life over to the selfless doing of good. Ten years later, while Batman is recovering from six major surgeries to recover from his latest battle with some supervillain, a dog is hit by a car on the other end of the city. And we're supposed to believe that Batman's otherwise-amazing psyche spends years grappling with the question of, "Why didn't I save that puppy?"

American cinema occasionally, cognizantly, satirizes the "Wish I could've done more to help" hero, and how annoying he is to keep whining about things that weren't his fault, even as it produces more and more stories showing how the hero's greatest drawback is his inability to be omnipotent as well as omnibenevolent.

"I didn't do enough to save them" is the way people rationalize Bush's murders, or Obama's murders, without admitting to their own bloodthirsty vicariousness. "Oh, Obama doesn't want to hurt people, and it troubles him deeply. He's forced to do it because he's trying to do his best to save the world, but because he's not all-powerful, obstructionist Republicans forced him to order a strike on a neighborhood that killed fourteen children under 5 years of age. And then he feels really, really bad about it. Just like Batman did when that one dog got hit by a car while he was powerless to stop it."

The West can only criticize itself indirectly, through science fiction. Only by crafting futuristic dystopias is the West able to begin, in the least-responsible way possible, to broach the idea that some elements of its society may be on a course to become real mistakes at a later time. The West says, "Decades, centuries, or millennia later, it might be possible that our personal liberties could be threatened by an unintended snowball effect of our current well-meaning culture." Naturally, these fantasies exonerate the now-versions of Us even as they make a vicariously hyperbolic subconscious confession of what we already know we're doing.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Elements of Selfishness and Acceptance in War Movies

Western cinema approaches all very serious topics with the deliberately false naiveté of the innocent and unaware. Not only in grander themes, but against everyday villains, western characters always approach the obvious with a detached wonderment that even Orphan Annie is no longer capable of. A hundred years of movies later, they remain surprised by a zombie apocalypse, the inevitable implications of Richard Gere dating their girlfriend, whether or not to call 911 when being stalked by a serial killer, or the intrusive monitoring of an oppressive government. It's always new, like wearing a white dress to your second wedding at thirty-four, gasping in surprised delight at the thought of penetration, as though you have not only never personally experienced sex, but never even read or heard about it. Character after character sees cameras go up everywhere and fails to utter anything like, "1984!" or "Brave New World!"

The Great War is paramount in the Western imagination--the advent of western governments' propaganda sciences made the great faux-deflowerings of the innocent empires seem plausible to all subsequent generations. The Lusitania was an innocent civilian passenger liner, and with no warning, True Evil attacked that poor neutral ship out of nowhere, followed by the incredible unforeseen surprise of Pearl Harbor. The poor, benighted cheese-, pudding-, and burger-munchers were caught utterly off their guard, never expecting such devious Oriental-type behavior, having done absolutely nothing to invite or prepare for it.

And every western war movie is like that: every westerner is good at heart, whether a clumsy drunk or a straight-shooter, who may be kidnapped into trouble occasionally, and who never starts a fight, but who always damn well finishes it. Nowadays, if he's really humane, he finishes it by offering forgiveness to the subhuman filth that started the whole thing in the first place, revealing not only superior strength, but superior moral character. Indiana Jones saved the day from Nazis, German industrialists regret that they didn't do more to help, and always, westerners were so timid and ignorant that they occupy this unique position of shelteredness among the entire world, occasionally forced into a fight by a conniving slanty-eyed bastard, but always wanting to be back on the peaceful farm, marrying their sweetheart and letting the rest of the world live in its own way.

The narrative is not unlike the Superman backstory--the purehearted farmboy who only ever beats people up because he has to, and who really, in his heart of hearts, wants to leave everyone else alone, never intervene in their lives for his own interests, and is only forced to by pure evil bent on destruction or personal power, which Superman expressly rejects.

(Historical aside: the Superman character was created by Jerry Siegel, a Caucasian Jewish person whose parents left Lithuania just before World War I, and Joseph Shuster, a Caucasian Jewish person whose father left the Netherlands just before World War I, and whose mother left Kiev just before World War I.)

(Comic fan aside: if you haven't actually read much or any of the old Superman issues, the title character is a Cold Warrior and a physical version of John Galt. His detractors are mediocrity-promoting meddlers, disloyal [communist or labor unionist] organizers, and stupid cowards who don't realize that Russia is a threat to humanity. Superman appears in 1933, and until the Reagan years, he fought expressly for, "truth, justice, and the American way." And he did that well before the Civil Rights movement, if that tells you anything. Superman is regularly portrayed flying around fighting Russian fighter jets, taunting Russia to start nuclear wars and then protecting America from Soviet missiles.)

(Generic spoiler alert for The Railway Man and Grave of the Fireflies. The latter isn't much of a spoiler, while the former has nothing to spoil, so be glad if I saved you. And for the love of everything holy, don't watch the neutered, westernized live-actions of Grave; stick with the masterful 1988 version.)

The World War(s) always receive this light-hearted touch in western movies, where white people are beset by treacherous easterners who are angry because they are Pure Evil, and who talk in exaggerated Klingon-Japanese or Oktoberfest-German. Western soldiers are called reluctantly into battle against a backdrop of a war too big for them to possibly understand. They fight bravely, face inhumane situations, and manage to pull through with clean hands, Dresden notwithstanding. The trend evidences itself through all western war movies post-WW2, where war is portrayed as a maddening, surreal situation, beyond the understanding of the mere pilots called up from Kansas to drop napalm on a half million shrieking gook children, or forced to patrol through the jungle burning starving old people out of bamboo huts because there could be Charlie hiding out. And then there's Jarhead, and the new sniper one. Yes, they always celebrate murder, but they always do so with a human touch--of these brave, innocent souls who just happen to be tossed in over their heads based on some rudimentary understanding of what the teevee tells them about why so-and-so needs killing. Western audiences make much of the "inhumanity of war," but western killers are always portrayed as hapless victims: either of those who lied to them to make them murder, like the corrupt Senator who made you go to Iraq, or those who "force" them to go too far, such as a vengeful lieutenant leading your jungle patrol in Vietnam.

There are still plenty of outright "the enemy is completely bad" stuff. 2000's Rules of Engagement shows how Samuel L. Jackson was forced to kill a crippled Iraqi girl because she was shooting at him, which helps Americans react the right way to foreign news stories about the deaths of so-called "innocent" children.

(Pop quiz! If you invade someone's country, destroy their water supply, cripple them, kill their parents, and roam around out front of their home with an assault rifle and an armored hummer, and a few months later they point a gun at you, it is okay to kill them if they are: A. Over 12 years of age, B. Under 12 years of age, or C. Both A and B?)

More recent western work, though, after broad acceptance of but zero reaction to how the Lusitania was built by a hostile party and carrying military supplies in hot waters during wartime (sorry, I mean, "the WMD story") has further developed the idealization of atrocity. Propaganda has evolved so as to downplay the role of war-societies, and exonerate killers through the killers' internal worries. Still, no one gives a damn about little kids who aren't white and of the right citizenship, but the improved process lends a veneer of humanity to the idea of "war movie, not our fault," by providing a coherent talking-point for people to use to internally justify why wars hurt, but are still okay.

The Book Thief is the closest a western story has yet come to humanity, albeit still touched with Anglo supremacy. Zusak (the author of said original book) permits humanity to a small cast of Germans who help a Jewish person escape, while tacitly accepting that their sorrow at the deaths of so many people was necessary because the Allies' victory was Good. Still, I think he was really trying, sort of in the "one noble Comanche" way (he told us where the braves were hiding).

One of the later entries in this foul Anglicized history is The Railway Man. Like so many masturbatory western fantasies, it begins with a romantic setup as ridiculously implausible as its later depictions of foreign policy: an attractive young woman (Nicole Kidman, but so made up she looks in her late twenties) notices a dumpy, non-wealthy old man (Colin Firth, made up to look like a dumpy old man) using public transportation as an erratic hobby, and goes drastically out of her way to pursue an emotional, then physical, relationship with him. Throughout this fantasy made movie-real, this ten-millionth take on World War II by western civilization, what do we focus on? What are the great tragedies of World War II? Well, besides the Holocaust, D-Day, how brave the British were during the Blitz, and how inhuman the Japanese were when they occupied a place, the only one remaining is how heroic and long-suffering white people are. Ergo the movie is made about how Colin Firth struggles with his memories of being tortured.

Yes, you read that right--it's about Anglos enduring the pain of torture. Which is imposed upon them by Asiatics. Actually, you might think "waterboarding" was a relatively new technique, but The Railway Man makes clear that it was created by vile Oriental filth during World War II. (Damn them, for what they make us do to Arabs!) So Colin Firth struggles through a couple hours of being the weird, un-showered old man who rides the train for fun, thinking about World War II while getting pursued by beautiful young women who want to open their legs to him and know about his past.

None of these memories include tying Hawaiians up in the water for a few days to drown slowly, anal-raping Japanese POWs with Coca-Cola bottles, or ripping penises off Chinks who were too afraid to identify the location of the nearest Japanese base--no, Firth is haunted by his memories of those damn Orientals and their torture rooms.

Admittedly, many Americans didn't have a fun time after throwing the Japanese in concentration camps, sending battleships into Japanese harbors to rape girls and force trade deals, and blockading food, medicine, and oil from Japanese ports. And many of them were manipulated there, and they were actually as stupid and ignorant as western movies suggest. But that's the only aspect of war that the west can portray: the suffering of its own dunce-combatants.

What sets Japan apart from America, at least in the realm of war movies, is its humility. Its humanity, its decency; its willingness to accept guilt. Japanese war movies offer a few of the normal triumphant tropes that American ones do, but those kinds of people are, in Japan, at a strong disadvantage, both in terms of financing and viewership, compared to the good stuff. Tale after popular Japanese tale, for adults as well as children, is able to portray systematically negative self-representation. The negatives that occur pursuant to western wartime movies are always outliers--the preferred view that the west never tortured anyone or held an unjust war before George W. Bush. Somehow, the lynch mobs and child rapists of the Deep South's apartheid state manage to fade into the background whenever America needs to congratulate itself for being completely different than whoever it was humanitarianly bombing at the time.

In a sense, we can distinguish Germany from "the west" vis-à-vis this topic. Germany, discrete from almost the entire rest of the west, is able to produce narratives that not only depict the Nazis as failures, but the greater population of Germany as equally guilty for permitting the Nazis to take power. Germany can admit more of a mistake, just as Japan can express true acknowledgement and regret; Britain, France, and America, to say the least, cannot. And this mass acknowledgement is not expressed in the aw-shucks, mistakenly-good-natured way of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but in the recognition that the equivalent Herr Smith or Smith-san was, in some way, willingly blind in order for it to happen. Twain could critique Americans, and Dickens the English, if not as keenly as Dostoevsky Russians, but now that communication prerogatives have been achieved in the west, we don't see that level of "total failure" achieved in any self-representation produced by major western creators (sic). Twain and Dickens, along with Voltaire and Thackeray, have been consigned to the false lionization of the learned class, similarly to how international finance's military center in Columbia hosts a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Grave of the Fireflies is just one of the more popular examples of the ways that Japanese cinema is honest, self-reflecting, and humane. The film is about two siblings who struggle to survive in poor, war-torn Japan. They're hungry and lacking in shelter and parental care--all that--and their parents are gone because of the war. What distinguishes it from all western movies is that there aren't really any American bad guys (or French, or British, or Russian, or whatever). The bad guy is Japan. Made by Japanese people using Japanese money for Japanese people to watch, the narrative blames the bad outcomes of war, and its effects on the main characters, on Japan--on their parents, and the society as a whole.

No punches are pulled. It's easy, as a westerner, to slip into the movie and think, "Yeah, Imperial Japan sucked, yeah, they were really bad, blah blah I get it..." But what is not easy for the westerner is to realize that this is the Japanese perspective, and that it acknowledges a major, consistent, non-coincidental mistake in national policy and national character. It's an un-hedged, un-mitigated expression of responsibility and regret. The problem is not blamed on "the Emperor," or "the Army," or "a few greedy families/individuals." Instead, the movie portrays how the entire country was swept up in wartime fervor. The father joins the military to the excited marching of a band cheered by all the people--and by the main character and narrator, Seita, whose enthusiasm for big ships and fancy uniforms is shown, in reflection, to have been a series of poor decisions.

No single corrupt Senators pushing for self-beneficial policies at the expense of the innocent common man. No "one bloodthirsty commander." No wise neighborhood elders advising everyone that "our leaders are mistaken." The whole society is made complicit in the great crimes that culminated in the events of the movie.

Grave of the Fireflies could have been as easily written (in theory) by a westerner who wanted to critique Japanese militarism. What westerners cannot do, though, is write anything like that about themselves. The western entertainment that is permitted to be widely disseminated always venerates the pure-hearted soldier, the innocent child, and the lovesick wife and mother. The heroes overcome racial boundaries in order to share the pleasure of killing sniveling Aryans, chattering gooks, or suicidal sand niggers, and in the face of devastated countries, the western audience's greatest fear is that one of these brave killers might die before his friends finally garrote the enemy general. Seita's father's war record, though, whether heroic or ignoble, is unimportant. What matters is the way the lives of everyone else change after the father leaves; after the country, the society, has made its decision.

By contrast, western cinema is an endlessly infantile parade of exactly how tough it is to be a grown man who puts on weapons and armor and travels across the world to kill people. The stress of shooting your first Zulu through the chest. The ludicrousness of screwing a teenage Vietnamese prostitute before getting in the helicopter. The injustice of an officer who merely counts bodies from a tent, while you have to put your ass on a line shooting all those bodies.

...turbocharged, sexually-tense torture scenes. The internal agony of the soldier as he is forced to live out decades of his life remembering the war, as opposed to the dozens or thousands of people he killed during it, who remember nothing and who are utterly unimportant to the plot. Isn't it tough to be a rich white person? I mean, you have to, like, remember how bad it was when you were fighting this one dude after you shot those four dudes. Like, totally. Yeah, war sucks, brah.

We're not looking at this because recognizing this distinction, this maturity, is going to convince any westerners to change. What we want to do here is to be able to recognize the precise ways that entertainers are changing their narratives to deflect criticisms like this. This further muddles the waters, allowing them to use their false narratives to subtly adjust perceptions of older wars into propaganda as incomparably marvelous as Apocalypse Now, where ignorance, fear, and hatred are enthroned as moral virtues--where the soldier's invading and killing is all okay, as long as someone else provided him with plausible deniability, and was "worse" than he was.

The modern western movie has adapted to the criticisms of old, and is now sometimes able to show soldiers "regretting" certain things, or "being deceived" about their mission. Certainly, portraying little kids as enemy combatants, and discovering proof of secret weapons stockpiles in the control of a foreign faction, will continue to be a mainstay of these misdirections. For more intelligent people, though, the seeming humanity of the returned soldier--her or his regret, suffering, and mistreatment--will be how this cycle is socially perpetuated. These narratives will like The Railway Man, by refusing to touch on the reasons for war, but displaying, through the human feelings of their characters, that there never was any malice or misbehavior involved. Instead, each generation is wrapped in swaddling innocence, suffering for what it did, and never really responsible for it. Western narratives cannot juxtapose a dying western child with the child's own pride in bright banners, big machines, and loud music, anymore than it can show nearly its whole population rallying as one behind the idea of another great war, and then portray the subsequent effects of that enthusiasm as too terrible to contemplate.

The mantra is, "We are never sorry, for we are never truly wrong."

A Brief Telephone Quiz

Which of the following is the most appropriate response to a third party's scheduling question:

A) That doesn’t work for me. How about the next day?

B) That doesn’t work for me because I have an anal cyst. How about the next day?

C) That doesn’t work for me because on that day I will be shot out of a cannon at the County fair. How about the next day?

D) That doesn’t work for me because of Personal Details. How about the next day?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sexual Choices viz. Providers, Bad Boys, etc.

In The Occidental Quarterly, F. Roger Delvin writes Sexual Utopia in Power, in which he expresses in a coherent way many of the oft-mangled arguments of what we might stupidly call "the reactionary right" (or "Game" or PUA or any of that other stuff). The article is openly sexist, and subtly racist, and all that stuff, but it's worth a read-through, so give it a try even if you have to do so with a clothespin over some part of your limbic system.

What Delvin expresses is the popularly recognized viewpoint that (usually western) women make bad choices in men ("these days," probably more so than in others). In a less emotional way than you'll normally see, Delvin discusses the "Alpha Fucks, Beta Bucks" theory (which is eminently searchable if you haven't encountered it) that, to him, is a threat to western society, which would be countered by the re-imposition of traditional marriage. If you can't handle the googling, AFBB is the theory that women ignore responsible men during their youth, and instead exploit their youthful good looks by swiving more physically desirable and/or assertive men ("Alpha" men), by which they have children; subsequently, as their youthful good looks fade, they search for reliable provider-men ("Beta" men) to pay for their old age, and the upbringing of their children.

Masculinist Counter

We've previously looked at versions of these arguments in How To Pick Up Women and How To Pick Up Women, Part 2, in the latter of which we reviewed how the "sexual marketplace" is an artificial (e.g., unnatural, un-biological, and something from which we cannot draw accurate conclusions about underlying human characteristics in a state of nature) construct derived from the marketing principles of our crony capitalist economies.

At this point, then, we understand that these reactionaries are deluded fantasists--ahistorically inclined individuals who presuppose the timeless existence and expansive relevance of their current cultural norms, extrapolating hundreds of thousands of years of biological and anthropological conclusions from the phony veneer of the suburban mini-mall. They are pitiful, wishful socio-capitalists who think that the extravagantly fragile, superfluously ridiculous economies of the post-industrial European colonial territories are some kind of model of objective reality, and that a game theory based on the rational actions of rats in this maze reveals to us the Great Truths about human sexual nature.

Understanding this, we're still faced with the behavior of women and men in these societies. The seeming conundrum of "Alpha Fucks, Beta Bucks" is that young, attractive women pursue sexual relationships with commitment-adverse men who, as the old saw goes, "treat them poorly," while eschewing advances from commitment-desirous men. People stop pairing off as much, children grow up with single parents, and (if you read the article) birth rates decline, sometimes below replacement rates. That previously-mentioned old saw about "treat them poorly" tends to be accurate, too, as women struggle to pursue delinquent child support from across state or national boundaries, or the rugged, sexy men they wanted when they were young end up dead, in prison, or otherwise vanishing. All this while in the meantime, the responsible men who actually cared end up ignored until their 30s or 40s, when the then-30-40 women may feel they deserve marriage and financial support for the duration of their lives--from the background males whose attentions they ignored or derided when they were most attractive.

Assuming any of this is correct, why do some women (a majority of western women, if you're inclined to feel that way) make such choices? The conundrum is resolved, by the Game/PUA/etc. people, by concluding that women are stupid and/or shallow. The relevant literature looks at the data involved--divorce rates; birth rates, and births to which pairs of people; remarriage rates; social policy; societal fiscal distributions to different sexes--and concludes that western heterosexual/bisexual women's preferences overwhelmingly work that way. Namely, "nice guys finish last," or western women prefer to sleep around, postpone marriage, then throw expensive weddings and cram the motherhood they deserve into their late thirties, along with the help of fertility doctors.

It is to that conclusion that this one will speak here. The data is relatively solid in its support for the conclusions that younger western women prefer flings with non-provider-type men (while ignoring boring provider-type men), while aging western women suddenly prefer boring provider-type men. The feminist argument seems to be that women should have sexual freedom to make whatever choices they like, but that men who refuse to commit to women later in life are "childish" or "irresponsible," while men who pursue commitment with women early in life are "pushy" or "creepy." Ergo the problem is all a male one caused by patriarchal entitlement, which conclusions stoke the masculinist reactions: "Women are naturally stupid and selfish, therefore they have fun when they're good looking, then expect to be funded in their old age by the people they ignored when they were young."

Gaming the System

The marketers who exploit this system for money are a vile bunch. There are the ovocentric ponzis, who sell makeup and clothes to young women, encouraging them to exploit themselves to have a good time; who sell makeup and clothes to aging women, promising them that they can trick people into believing they're still young women and then exploit themselves to have a good time; and, who sell weighty tomes on responsibility and male failure to women of all ages, reassuring them that men who won't marry them are emotionally stunted, entitled patriarchs. And there are the player ponzis, who sell pep talks to men of all ages, encouraging them to believe that they can learn ways to game the system to trick women into bed.

Even sadder, perhaps--because they're not making money off it--are the people who aren't running ponzi schemes, but who just believe this stuff themselves, and propagate it without making $800 per-seat-per-seminar or $299 per sample kit, dutifully convincing people that the right cosmetics and/or attitude will obtain sex without being hot and/or rich first. Hey, at least put up some on-page ads, guys (oh wait--you already have).

On the Nobility of Female Behavior

We're going to do two unpleasant things here. As usual, we'll make everyone angry, place the blame upon High Arka, and continue to be the internet's Least Popular Blog™. We'll accomplish the task in the normal fashion, by demonstrating how everyone else is a little bit correct while also being extremely wrong, myopic, and selfish.

First, we'll upset feminists: the female behavior described by the masculinist assholes is, by and large, correct (correct in the sense that it does occur that way). It's a stereotype, and it doesn't apply to every woman, but it's generally true. That's how the bulk of western women behave when it comes to their courtship and mating rituals.

Now, we'll piss off all the people who like to categorize men using the small set of Greek letters they learned from someone else's pickup blog: when western women behave this way, they are doing the right thing. The productive, reliable men they are rejecting in their twenties in favor of having fun during their selfish, wasteful "party years," do not deserve them. That isn't to say the opposite isn't true, either, but it is to say that western women are making the noble, moral choice by spending their beauty ignoring social conformists and writing letters to people in prison, or sleeping with various "thugs" they meet at nightclubs.

Is everyone mad, yet? Here's the problem: these dull western guys are born, and they want to succeed in school, get a reliable job, marry a woman, and have a family. Sounds great, but every time they try to approach this idea with western women, they get rejected. The straight-A student finds out that his last three crushes are dating morons on the football team, who will, later in life, be arrested for dealing meth, then die in a prison shower sometime in their late thirties (after they lost their jobs at the carwash, nach). All the responsible, decent, hardworking men complain that women don't want providers until they're older, their pussies (to employ the vernacular) are "old and rancid" or "used up," and they maybe have children from earlier flings, for which their "beta" man is supposed to provide.

All these guys, these hopeless romantics, think that it's cruel and manipulative of women to act this way. So they sit at their computers and type up bitter anti-women blogs, much like the one linked above (the pdf of the Devlin article was hosted on coalpha.org, which is a suitable example).

Now, twenty years ago, you could've laughed at this collection of pasty-faced IT guys and other office employees, sitting chubbily in their chairs in Mom's basement, and used their physiques or life situations to justify their lack of female attention. Not anymore, though--these dweebs are at the gym several times a week, eating their own organic swordfish that they cook themselves, and pulling down respectable paychecks from their home-based network consulting business. So none of those things work anymore to dismiss them.

And yet, the "problem" (and it is, in some ways, a problem) remains: young western women keep rejecting commitment to these guys until their later years, when they have a divorce or two under their belt, and they still don't treat these guys with the respect the guys think they deserve. What's the problem?

(Really, though, even if you're the one feminist who's still here, why would women who want to get married and have children waste their twenties having relationships with a series of loud, pushy "Alpha" men at dance clubs, getting abused and ignored, getting left alone, and then complaining in their thirties that all the men with good jobs are either taken or don't want to get married? If you're going to make the rational choice, as an independent, free-thinking individual, to get married and have kids, wouldn't it be better to do it with someone who gives a damn? I guess you could believe that the whole phenomenon of western club culture is imaginary, and that these women are being "tricked" into it, but if you give them more credit, you have to assume an element of responsibility and independent decision-making is involved. Give them some credit.)

Why all this? Because of the inherent aggregate nobility of female choice. The respectable, responsible provider--the "Beta" male, as the dating ponzis call it--in today's western societies is a terrible creature. He is a drab, boring cog in a massive and deadly machine. The man in America, Canada, Britain, France, or the other westernized societies, who works hard and provides for a traditional family and saves for retirement, is either a stupid man or an evil man. He sells his years away in order to support a depersonalized murder machine. His work is almost certainly a boring activity detached from notions of community or human decency, and the greatest part of his efforts supports the lush lifestyles of distant tyrant-lords who bomb and starve children on a daily basis.

Here's where racism comes in: the masculinist guys who run these Game/PUA/Alpha-whatever blogs are, almost of necessity, racist, because in order to justify why they should be getting more girls, they have to point to their contribution to modern western society. That means that they have to trumpet their pithy little contributions to the sanctions, the drones, the police, et cetera. If people shouldn't be getting murdered in the streets; if little dark children shouldn't be starving; if the latest trillion-dollar fighter jet shouldn't be built: if these things aren't necessary, then what of the "responsible" man's contributions?

Answer: they are worthless. They are less than worthless, in fact, because they are evil. The hard-working American student who bustles off to Raytheon to spend a stable, responsible career programming better guidance systems is the anathema of humanity. He is an unthinking dolt; a terminator; a malignant pustule oozing a steady supply of filth across the human genescape.

Therefore, to justify the horrid expectations of the responsible western man, all of the bad things done by society have to be right. There must actually be a clash of civilizations, in which the man is a heroic participant by filling out paperwork or mistakenly shooting children at a checkpoint; there must actually be a transcendent purpose in running a cartel of liars and thugs that generates piles of money at the expense of the rest of society. Anthony, Don, and Walt must be thought of as heroes, their petty thuggery elevated to glorious heights--because, after all, money.

No Relief for Feminists

There is no relief for feminists, here, in the finding that the lustfully angry, testosterone-supplementing office drones of "the west" are wrong in their complaints. By and large, western women, including the ones who still say they're feminists, line up to support pet personal causes that underscore these same noxious societies. In their own careers and lifestyles, they offer their own version of support to these societies.

Yet it is in the better side of their natures that we see them seeking (before, perhaps, the fear of dying alone in a state-run nursing home sets in) those partners who, in some small way, reject the abhorrent behavior called for by modern western society. By spending their most fertile years in comparative disarray, and advocating for the right to not be burdened by passing on the experience of life, western women are expressing a powerful message about the world in which they find themselves: a sorry story, true, but one less sorry than a dutiful, mechanical compliance.

These votes of no confidence are surely temporarily selfish on the parts of many individual women, and may not be even in their most selfish of self-interests, in terms of what will benefit them when they are forty through seventy versus what will benefit them when they are fifteen through twenty-three. Acting contra "rationality," though, inside a system where the rules of success are such terrible ones, can be an effective protest, or even a noble act. Nobler, certainly, than the complaints of a hard-working engineer who wonders why no woman will talk to him until he's 35, and who is most committed to building up his T. Rowe Price 401(k) with the end goal of his life being a gated community insulated from a world of slums, golf every other day, and dialysis once a week.