Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NYC Educator Response Log 6/15/11 p. 2

Response to discussion about "educational administrators" bungee-boss-style rearranging of schools.

This problem, which is repugnantly discussed in Miss Eyre's link above, is caused by the split between labor and reward in the American economy. Elites have designed the economy to function so that those who do the most actual work are the farthest removed from control over and reward from their output. For example: those who grow food, make clothing, teach children, build shelter, heal wounds and fight are the core of our society. So much flak comes the way of teachers because they are the last of those groups who threaten the model, simply because the ability to make young people aware of any error in the system is to threaten it years down the road.

Farm, construction and textile laborers are marginalized in a way most find easily acceptable through nation illusions, tax policy, invasion and embargo, while economic desperation and a need for targeted rage steer other groups into fighting and hurting. Wound healers are better rewarded, but suitably controlled through licensing and billing standards. Teachers, though, when left with any facet of independence and economic health, might raise inquiring minds.

Administrators, be they middle management or top brass, serve an important function: by vesting in them the day-to-day power to hire and fire, elites cover the simmering mass of commoners by a thin(ning) veneer of pointless authority. Administrators are left to justify their marginally-increased social status by spending time terrorizing those under them, appearing busy, and coming up with ways to explain why they make more money and have more security without having to actually produce anything of value for the human race.

(Elites, through the marvel of broad acceptance of money and capital, rarely have to justify this; the corporate media and an uneducated populace are well agreed that money is Teh Cool and the only way to go.)

Ergo those who give orders to the laboring class to produce food/shirts/houses/test scores must come up with intangible schemes that promote their own worth and tie their frenzied activity to the worthwhile end result of those doing the work "under their supervision." When they actually believe that they are doing something useful, they develop neuroses that cause even more erratic behavior. The difference between a "bad boss" and a "good boss" is that the good one realizes, to some extent, that his or her role is to appear busy, docile and supportive of the elites, and to nudge the laborers into doing the same; the bad boss actually believes that he or she is accomplishing something useful, and so flies into a genuine rage when the laborer's dubiousness at an objectively ridiculous new intra-office team-building session causes cognitive dissonance conflicting with the bad boss' own perception of self.

NYC Educator Response Log 6/15/11

Response to an NYC Educator poster complaining about Ralph Nader.

It's sadly amusing to see the corporate media's talking points about Approved Enmity Target (TM) Ralph Nader creep their way so deeply into cultural consciousness that they're almost constantly parroted by people without reason or citation.

In particular, it should now be clear to even those who were out to the bathroom during the 2000 election that the Democratic-Republican Junta's mission is to destroy American public education, ravage all social safety benefits, slaughter dark people far away and consolidate all wealth and power in the hands of a few largely inbred elite genetic groups.

The thing to do in this situation is to apologize for vilifying Mr. Nader, not to continue knee-jerk blaming him for something he tried to stop. Remember: the same teevee that told you he was self-indulgent and self-promoting also told you that George W. Bush was a genuine cowboy who you'd like to have a beer with, that Al Gore believed he invented the internet, and that the Supreme Court did not assist in a public coup d'etat, but a reasoned deliberation of a sensitive issue.

It's also the same teevee that told you that Obama was bringing hope and change to save us from the shortsightedness of the genuine cowboy. In another couple years, you'll see it try, and in all likelihood, succeed at selling a different variation on the same rubbish.

6th or 7th response log 6/15/11

Response to thebaronette (found in comments).

Baronette: "Consider her utopia in The Female Man"? OK then. it is a utopia, you are right about that. but what is often missed about utopian visions is the terrifying degree of sameness that must exist to support and perpetuate them.

If a utopia has a terrifying degree of sameness, it’s not a utopia, but a dystopia. The question is whether or not Russ views as positive the idea of sexual segregation (or genocide) and the destruction of reproduction.

What concerns this one about Russ, and about your defense of her, is the antilife view on the dynamic growth and expansion of life. Different than nothing is something, which something can even include vacuum, and life seeks to expand into a universe filled with vacuum. The bright lights of consciousness, appreciation, love, beauty, wonder, newness, et cetera, are life’s kin and means. This is why life grows, expands and changes; because that’s life.

Its opposite, Evil (you can capitalize or de-capitalize whenever you’d like), seeks a return to (new arrival at?) emptiness. Emptiness, actually, is deceptive; emptiness is a wonderful, good thing in contrast to nothing, because “emptiness” requires space, existence, a set of physical and/or temporal laws, and other things. A universe of vacuum alone is a marvel compared to true Nothing.

Antilife seeks that Nothing. For example, didja ever wonder why poor Red Staters support wealthy imperialists who actually harm their own interests, rather than vague liberals who might at least give them marginally better health care paid for by tiny increases in taxes on the wealthy? There are a number of unsatisfying explanations floating around, including “they’re stupid,” but in actuality, they are driven by their own fear of existence into indirectly (subconsciously) trying to destroy themselves. They are pursuing their own destruction as a means to ending the uncertainty, worry and suffering of their lives.

Didja ever wonder why elites would risk nuclear blowback that could actually destroy their major financial nerve centers, or their own bodies? Or why they would pollute so much of the world with DU munitions, and poison the water and food that they end up consuming eventually? (Is that really worth more money, particularly when they already have mega millions and everything they could ever want anyway?)

This struggle is the framework upon which all of our lesser “political” issues are built.

Where does the terror come from, then, in you and Russ? Well, your terror at women “giving up their wombs.” The womb, like semen, is a means of life. Lust, and the desire to explore and expand and survive, is life. Without it, all fades to a blackness that is beyond dark. Humans do not control their own lust, nor their own infants, and fear of that lack of control is one of the things that can inspire sickness, dread, and antilife reaction. The end result is the stifling of wonderful, amazing new living beings who can go and do things we’re not able to comprehend and would never think of on our own. That’s why we’re not in control of the whole process—if we were, then everything that could ever exist would be limited to the scope of our own current conception of possibility.

Russ’ wicked colonial men are brutish, rude and bad. But the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

“Man and Power are virtually synonymous in our world.”

Limited, temporary and pointless. The real battle here is Life v. Antilife. Currently, both elite women and men and commoner women and men tend to play certain roles, but playing musical chairs with gender or race or sexual preference will effect no real change. It’s already been done in part, anyway. Hillary Clinton, for example, is a wealthy, powerful feminist who has no problems rattling the saber and assisting in various middle eastern genocides as the SoS. As of a few years ago, a black guy’s driving the American death car. Has breaking those barriers changed anything about the way the world’s really working? Was it really “worth” it for women/blacks to earn the right to press the button? Sarah Palin will be happy to be a feminist icon doing Business As Usual, if we give her the chance.

Men doing those things before were just playing roles, and the horrors they perpetrated were not intrinsic to manhood, masculinity, or some manner of male-based domination. It’s rude and narrow-minded to imply that with a social movement, but more importantly, it distracts from the underlying truth of how the horrors came to be. Feminism’s sad triumph will be a world in which women and men are completely equal to continue the same patterns of destruction as before. Or, alternately, a matriarchy that develops the next generation of fighter-bombers. There will always be a “hot button” side movement to distract from the real story of the exploitation and/or butchering of the laboring masses, the misdirection of effort and expansion into intangible restrictive schemes to limit dynamic development (money, capitalism, et cetera), and the genetic consolidation of elite lines (self destruction through mutation/exchange limitation). And, beneath that, the reason deep in so many of our hearts that we seek an end to this wondrous experiment where nothing goes the way it’s “supposed to.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

O.N.: Original Nerd, Part 2

(Following up on Part 1.)

Faulting those new to the movement for the co-option has elements of truth, but also a failure to turn that same sword inward. Take, for example, the title quote to Part 1, with its reference to Star Trek. What made Star Trek positive and original? Very few things, actually. The concepts of (1) space collectives, (2) futuristic enlightened peoples and (3) token black and northeast-Asian sidekicks had already all been broached. Artistically speaking, this does not necessarily mean that a project employing such themes would be unoriginal or unworthy. However, Star Trek's particular method of expounding on these themes was a sad perversion (intrinsic destruction) of them.

How so was Star Trek not very original or worthy? Well, Asimov and plenty of others (Mary Shelley, and plenty of others?) had already broached advanced technology, and sci-fi writers decades before had suggested vastly different ideas about conceiving humanity and society than Star Trek's minor, politically-acceptable tweakage. While Star Trek's finest themes are often cited as "racial integration" and "sexual equality" by later admirers, those themes are actually expressed, in the original show, in less genuine tones. The very few crew members of the Enterprise who can claim to be acted by an oppressed minority have to do whatever the Captain says, and they don't get command themselves. They are the ideal minorities of Star Trek's time, accepting their place on the lower rung without faltering in their smiles. Uhura, the black woman in the short skirt, is always ready to pose attractively for her master at the commercial break, after performing the insultingly simple function (apparently the one appropriate to an African-American in space at the time) of reciting to the busy white captain what the computer has already said in its similarly feminine phone-operator voice.

The real theme of Star Trek then comes out: "Let us Western-European-derived peoples stick together, with a handful of obedient black, northeast-Asian and female tokens, and kick the everliving crap out of the rest of the universe, mmkay?" Star Trek's standby patriarch has gut instincts that are never wrong, and an old-style western haymaker that can knock out any alien under 600 lbs. gross weight. "Cooperation" between the races was limited to whites, Jews (Kirk/Spock), and docile tokens from a tiny selection of the other available human stock on the planet Earth. Naturally, every other social more from the time of Star Trek's creation also applied to the 23rd century, which is why it wasn't really a stretch when the new and more toned Captain Kirk just happened to be driving a 1966 Corvette in the 2009 movie about said 23rd century.

Equally malignant, conjoined with that same token racial acceptance was old-fashioned racism presented in easily understandable form: it's nice to have an obedient northeast Asian engineer who does everything you say, who knows all that math stuff, and who fixes gadgets so that you can jet around the galaxy kissing alien women, but the western-conception-samurai Klingon, with their wild eyebrows and pseudo-Japanese (and WW2-style racism derived) notions of honor and the glory of battle, were there to trouble our White Man Hero with his Little Asian Sidekick and Cute Black Screen Reader. (Oh, and his Tolkein-slash-Welsh-derived elven sidekick with pointy-eared logic, long life and detachment from uppity human emotions.)

(Star Trek: The Next Generation would do a good job at gently nudging African-Americans into the mainstream, and giving women more authority, like allowing them to go to medical school and occasionally serve under a superior Admiral, while neatly adopting the approved mores of the 1990s. Naturally, Captain Picard never ran into a Vietnamese or Arabic fellow Captain, though his whiteness and reasonableness did prove absolutely necessary several times in bringing political stability to that erratic, dark, steamy Klingon empire.)

George Lucas would do a slightly nicer permutation of this same theme a decade later. He proved his forward-thinkingness socially illusory, capable only of matching the standard liberal mores of his time, in his casting of the fighter pilots in Episode IV and Episode I: in Episode IV, A New Hope, better known as the first Star Wars, Lucas cast the Rebellion's fighter pilots almost exclusively as mid-40s/50s men who badly voice- and seat-acted their attack on the Death Star ("Stay on target...stay on target...") While neither progressive nor likely (pilots in control of dynamic, aggressive fighter craft tend to be a bit younger, rather than the older "respectable U.S. military officer" type that Lucas cast), this dynamic reflected the popular view of the core of a worthwhile rebellion in 1977: older white male authority figures, much like the traditional doctor or lawyer.

More telling, for Lucas' perspective, is that 20 year old men who fought Nazi Germany in planes and on battlefields in the 1940s would, around the time Star Wars was being prepared, be 50 year old men who gave the uninspired George Lucas an image of what his plucky hero pilots should be. Luke won the day with the help of a wise old man of British descent, who taught him how to master Oriental mysticism, but the core of the fighter corps was Lucas' image of WW2 veterans. A galaxy far, far away indeed.

(A token black did manage to appear in the original Star Wars trilogy, as an old friend of the lawless white scoundrel who forgave Sambo for his treachery and put him to work on the rebellion, where he managed to follow orders well enough.)

When he looked to his fight choreography in the 1970s, George Lucas turned to that old standby, the British, and the first great lightsaber duel, between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, was based around the sport of fencing. And sucked.

What happened in the 1990s, then, when Lucas was ready to merchandise his next trilogy? The fighter-pilot cast of Episode I: The Phantom Menace started to look a lot more like the then-progressive image Lucas was now ready to project: middle-aged women and blacks filled the seats (but of course, no south Asians or Arabs). (Lucas also then bought choreography based around more realistic Asian martial arts, and the lightsaber duels became a highlight rather than a cringe.)

The differences in casting here show that Lucas was not free-form creating his world. Instead, he was projecting current mores onto his far-away galaxy. Not pure creativity, but permutation. The reality of his universe is called into question. Nerd fail.

Corporatized major TV shows and movies aside, there were elements of genuine resistance in "nerd." There were and are good science fiction and fantasy novels out there; there were and are good games, be they board, mind, computer or peripheral; there were and are other good pastimes, even if the larger part of all this said stuff available at your local megachain does not fall into the category of genuine. Being a child picked on for not being interested in mainstream sports or makeup/clothes, and the search for hope, meaning and difference appurtenant thereto, has a value.

What makes the demeaning of later corporate "nerd co-option" less toothsome, though, is that if the only important thing about being a "nerd" is the chosen pastimes, and not the search for meaning and acceptance of difference, then once the chosen pastimes are bought out and mainstreamed, all is lost. What's under the mask must matter more than the mask itself, because it's easy for someone to beat you up and take your mask (or offer you rent money that you can't turn down).

Yes, there is a falsity in those who come later adopting costume, and costume alone; yes, there is genuine irritation allowed at such, as evinced by the writer of the initial quote from Part 1. To express such frustration is not, in and of itself, bad.

To find affront only at one stage of the co-option of one's choice rebel identity, though, is what enables the very co-option of all. Being upset merely at hot chicks in Star Trek shirts and big glasses is good: it represents a healthy reaction to the process of draining the soul out of desires that had meaning, then selling artificial meaning back to people who might have, otherwise, been drawn by symbol to a movement that still had meaning left to motivate them to change the world.

As long as everyone is only affronted on behalf of their own movement's co-option, though, all movements will continue to be raped to death by big money, i.e., elites, i.e., Antilife/Evil. The reason that movements must be crushed is that earnest searches for hope, individuality, social analysis, et cetera must stop in order for society to continue its trend toward stagnation. In order for the great mass of living humans to be led (and to lead themselves) along this path, they must be deceived into believing (deceive themselves into believing) that they are, in fact, doing free, dynamic things. This, like the substitution of fast food for real food, serves as a population calmative and misdirects life in a way that preserves antilife.

Ergo, the formula is:

1) Consciousness, poorly managed, leads to fear, leads to desire to end fear, leads to desire for the abnormal order and cold of ultimate death;
2) Elites express this by repressing hope and change;
3) Life reacts with dynamic change, expressed through human facets who flout social norms;
4) Soul-starved masses begin, slowly, to become aware of and be drawn to these genuine expressions;
5) Elites invest capital to produce glittery versions of the same;
6) Masses, and some originals, divert to the glitter.

(Look at, say, Chopin--he expressed love, hope, passion, and despair, as he saw his native country crushed by foreign invaders (cue Muscovite marching music) and some of his own people begin to accept it. He and the Romantics went beyond the rigid scale and chord structure of Classical music, creating transcendent wonders. Hundreds of years later, cruel "Tiger Mothers" harangue their children into perfectionist, soul-crushing repetition of music, producing endless, stale successions of identical, but Very Highly Cultured, performances at Carnegie Hall, for the wealthy and influential to attend.)

Not just the rigid form of music, but words, can be easily co-opted. President Obama cited Martin Luther King in his speech of acceptance for the Nobel Peace Prize, then continues to order drone attacks on villages in Far Off Places Filled With Poor Brown People We Should Be Deathly Afraid Of.

More later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

O.N.: Original Nerd

Borrowed quote: "I had the whole nerd thing going long before hot chicks started posing in front of cameras in Star Trek t-shirts and gigantic glasses. Just sayin'."

Q: What do nerds, punk rockers, west coast gangsta-rappers, goths, communists, early cage fighters, hippies and Jesus have in common?

A1: All represented a social resistance movement that became co-opted, soul-mined and offered for sale.

A2: All were not wholly "original," in the sense that they cannot claim to be, in and of themselves, the purest, truest, and only form of resistance or originality ever to be manifested by humanity and/or the living world.

This is not to say that there is no legitimacy in claiming to be an "OG." If you were down before it became cool, or before it became mainstream, there is an understandable offense at seeing "posers" brush up against the movement through the wearing of certain clothes, the employment of slang, and the manifestation of other behavior patterns designed to convey ownership over/membership in the movement. The offense broadens naturally when the OG sees the very satans of the original movement parroting (and perverting) the movement's themes: when mainstream white media commentators (or worse, black ones) begin manifesting token portions of the movement's behavior patterns, and implying links between Business As Usual and Rebellious Movement.

However, this same offense runs but one level deep. Again, the question: What do nerds, punk rockers, west coast gangsta rappers, goths, communists, early cage fighters, hippies and Jesus have in common? Their social resistance aspects.

In part, nerds resisted conformist culture, narrow-minded entertainment and worldviews, the dumbing down of education and exploration.

Punk rockers resisted colonial and post-colonial authority, and the traditionalist (i.e., antilife) nature of sick, established societies (and established, mainstream-approved artistic choices) on the wrong course.

Urban gangsta rappers resisted the deliberate impoverishment, criminalization of and police brutality toward minority population centers in the U.S., and the corporatization of music and repression of African-American art and life experience through the disallowance of "socially unacceptable" messages.

Goths resisted the false mainstream cultural aversion toward death and decay, through the manifestation of associations with such subjects--and they did it within the context of cultures that thrive on causing death (U.K., U.S.) while pretending to be averse to it, thereby attempting to call to attention through appearance and interest that which the mainstream attempted not to see.

Communists resisted the consolidation of the output of human labor into investment capital that would concentrate into the hands of a few individuals, who then exploited it solely for their own good, turning the bulk of the populace into serfs.

Early cage fighters resisted fixed form martial arts, unrealistic definitions of "toughness," sports based on celebrity, and the stifling effects of old-money-backed competition.

The historical conception of Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temples, and so on.
What alters each movement is the mainstream's absorption of it. Just as the function of the American Democratic Party is to channel genuine desire for change into an acceptable route that leads to new paint jobs on the same old slaughter and exploitation, the entertainment industry serves as a means of buying out, stripping down, repackaging and selling a non-threatening version of each movement.

Nerdy comic books, stories, shows and movies become glamorized. Who can resist spending money seeing a major studio put dazzling actors into familiar roles? And so, the latest Star Trek movie, as just one example, becomes "an action-packed thrill ride" of punching, shooting and blowing up, with a few token "cultural differences" to liken it just enough to the original show to be safe. Characters and plots slowly morph from something different into something much the same. At a certain point, it was "nerdy" to be on a computer, and the "nerds" on the computers possessed programming skills, technical industry knowledge, et cetera; years later, it became cute and cool to claim to be "nerdy" because one socialized a lot on the internet. The core essence of the original idea--that it was all right to wonder and dream and read books or use computers instead of play football--was transmuted into something soulless, up for grabs to anyone who used facebook.

Punk rockers, goth musicians and artists, and urban gangsta rappers received a similar fate. It became very easy for the entertainment industry to buy out many old musicians, then gradually phase in new ones. Rap music began to slowly stop talking about social injustice, police brutality and corruption, dealing drugs as the only means of economic elevation in a deliberately-repressed neighborhood, and meaningful political change, and began to become more about Escalades, bling, bitches and drug use. The rap artists themselves began to stop being former criminals by necessity, interested in changing the world, and began desperately trying to prove how dangerous they were because they'd once sold a rock or gotten in a fight.

Punk Rock became defined by dyed hair and noisiness, while goth became a little halloween of makeup and clothes. Costumes replaced the alienation of The Cure and Siouxsie, while the underlying demonstration of the hypocrisy of death and exploitation through color and style choice lost its soul as Chinese children made a dollar a day sewing vampire-ball gowns for girls to look naughty and "dark" in.

Soviet communists killed Trotsky and consolidated power in the hands of a few, who exploited it for their own good, turning the bulk of the Soviet populace into serfs. The idea of Jesus, and how it was bought out, likely needs not be told here. Cage fighting, or more importantly mixed martial arts, is in the early stages of transformation, as fans become less and less students and participants, and major networks pick up fights to bring demonstrations of fitness and confidence to barflies on Saturday night. Little tough guys can now buy Tapout gear at JC Penney's.

(Homosexuality, feminism and other identity-based movements are currently suffering this same fate as, for example, feminist politicians vote "yes" on giving the president the authority to collaterally bomb women and children in far-off lands.)

The problem, though, with each successive movement faulting those in the mainstream who begin to adopt the corporate-approved costumes/CDs/movies appurtenant thereto, is that none of the movements is themselves completely original. That does not mean that the movements did not have originality; they all did, and merit wonder. However, the essence of the complaint, "I'm an O.G., and all these new kids, they don't know what it's really like to ______" is a misplaced sense of excessive originality.

The reason that all of these movements' original aims, and the processes of their co-option, seem similar, is because they all represented a similar essence at their inception: that of resistance to Antilife's order and repression. The reason that they can become co-opted at all is because too many of their participants were more interested in the costume factor than in the underlying soul of the movement--and the discontent at seeing others dress in the costumes is an unwanted reminder of that.

Edit: Part 2.

Ms. Magazine response log 6/13/11

Response to Reese Witherspoon's directionless self-praise.

Reese is so right! Sex is bad (TM) and wicked, and is only approved for mature grownups over 18 anyway, like Britney Spears and LeBron James and Reese Witherspoon. It is so wrong of teenagers to think that they can have any kind of ownership over their own bodies or desires until the outside world and laws say they can. All us adults know how to act responsibly about our own sexual relations and it is not the business of those kids to try to be as mature and sensible as us, or to come up with their own ideas about how to express themselves or to try to define bad and good in new ways that we haven't thought of before.

Harpyness circumcision response log 6/13/11, #2

More response to Harpyness' greater concern with anti-semitism than mgm (male genital mutilation). This time responding to advocate of infant genital cutting "Ms. M."

In limited response to "Ms. M."

Ms. M: "Legislating from outside that framework is not going to help the situation, and I think it is a place of unacknowledged privilege to look into another groups’ cultural practices and say “hey, that is NASTY! We have to ban that!”."

HA: If you support stopping cult compounds from engaging in the forced marriage of eleven year old girls to the spiritual leader; if you support preventing parents from whipping their children with electrical cords; if you support preventing foster parents from raping their charges, then your above logic is completely and utterly fail.

Ms. M: "The foreskin is not a vital organ."

HA: Neither are the fingers and toes. Neither is the female clitoris. Do you support chopping those off? If no, your above logic is completely and utterly fail.

Ms. M: "Do you think men would be chopping it off if it was? Some cultural traditions do circumcision as a coming of age ritual. Done by other men."

HA: Do you think Charles Manson would kill people if it was wrong? Do you think human beings are capable of irrational and/or morally wrong behavior? Then your above logic is, of course, PHAYL.

Since you've already condoned the slicing apart of the genitals of your minor children, I can understand your desperate need to believe that you have done the right thing, much as those who beat their children are 1) driving the demons out, or 2) teaching them that the world is a hard place, or 3) just givin' them a whuppin'. But, once you've done something horrific, the right thing to do is not to justify it. Seek peace with yourself by asking forgiveness and striving to save others from mutilation and unnecessary pain. You can wall over the dark spot, but you'll never be able to forget it, even if you loudly scream that it's in fact a brilliant chandelier.

Harpyness circumcision response log 6/13/11

Response to Harpyness' greater concern with anti-semitism than mgm (male genital mutilation).
It's terrifying as well as interesting that the decision of mutilating the genitals of helpless children is considered a "parenting" issue by so many.

Likely, the fact that so many men have repressed memories of being given by their parents to the knives of the doctors for this torture, then being told it was in their own interest, helps them rationalize doing it to each successive generation. Much as children who have suffered other forms of abuse often grow up identifying and sympathizing with their aggressors, and becoming aggressors themselves.

There is, incidentally, evidence available from men who have been circumcised later in life that sex is not nearly as pleasurable afterward. This is but one hideous aspect of mutilating boys' genitals, but is nonetheless still a very serious one.

It is still, even after seeing it for so many years, abjectly stunning how many people can so easily participate in the drama of using a holy-slash-medical term to downplay the forcible slashing apart of one of the most sensitive areas on the male body.

It is no surprise, incidentally, that infant genital mutilation finds itself well-paired with ethno-spiritual mandates of group superiority, unclean womanhood, violent expansion, gleeful holy genocide and singular, absolutist patriarchal deities.

6th or 7th response log 6/13/11

Response to Joanna Russ gushing.

Even if "the patriarchy," as described by wealthy western feminism, is truly as bad as said memes suggest, anything opposed to it is not necessarily good. Russ' own malignant version of "feminism" is, actually, quite antilife and dangerous. Consider her utopia in The Female Man,where all men are dead and women scientifically (order; control; limitation of mutation, stifling of Life) reproduce rather than using the tools of life.

Colonialism as "liberal westerners" define it is bad, but the expansion, growth and development of life is good (and is, well, Life). Equating being truly female with a resistance to life's natural urge to perpetuate itself, develop, evolve, and cause change and growth in the vacuum of the universe (with baby steps first on planets), as Russ does in We Who Are About To..., is in fact the establishment of a new authoritarian model akin to patriarchy, except that the Bad Man of patriarchy is replaced by the Bad Woman.

Authoritarian structures do not begin by being authoritarian structures; they begin by making themselves out to be victims, which serves as cover for demonizing an enemy group, the presumed negative characteristics of which justify repression and horror. This treatment of women can lead to patriarchy; Russ' commentary on men sows the seeds of an opposite, if largely identical, system of repression and bigotry.

But it's always fun to take it out on someone who really deserves it, right? Kind of like watching Arnold blow up low-down-and-dirty Arabs who Really Had It Coming.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Perdido Street School response log 6/11/11

Subsidizing parenting to day care workers (or teachers) is one of the major reasons for our nation (western world?) of emotionally insecure adults who act so callously toward other human beings, be it by replacing nursing and love with bottles and monitors, putting the next generation through the curriculum prison rather than taking the time to raise them, or sending cruise missiles to slaughter little brown people.

The evil forces seeking to make state reeducation centers even worse are indeed evil and wrong, but defending the existing neoliberal fantasy of 12+ years of family and outer world separation is just a lighter version of that same evil and wrong.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Perdido Street School response log 6/9/11

Response to much ado about someone public having sexual desires.

What, exactly, is your problem with human sexuality? There is no mention here of threats or rape. Why is this a problem?

Incidentally, how many women were killed by drone missiles in Afpak this past week/month/year?

1) Were those women human beings?

2) Were said slain women human beings of comparable moral worth to the generally well-off, attractive, politically active western women who went out of their way to speak with Anthony Weiner about shared interests?

3) Does the slaying of said women merit more or less attention than whether or not Anthony Weiner has sexual desires?

4) Should grown adults be allowed to express sexual desire to one another?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Womanist Musings comment log 6/7/11

Response to Womanist Musings' rant about Glenn Beck.

Personifying disapproval by focusing so intently on Glenn theoretically has a counterproductive effect in that it boosts his popularity, exposure and ultimate impact on the course of history. This is what “Jon Stewart” does, in his role as docile neoliberal in the cycle of poison and destruction of the world’s life. His identification of the predictable foibles of the “other side” is like a character piece about a player prior to a football game: it adds a little emotional drama to the competition we’re all supposed to be watching. In the meantime, what really matters is not which team wins, but how much money the NFL makes.

The Daily Show’s contributions are mimicked here, sadly. Congealing tribal unity by posting unattractive pictures of the designated enemies (admittedly, for Glenn Beck, finding the unattractive ones may not require Photoshop skills) helps remind everyone on one side which paladins of the other side they’re supposed to be resisting, and the TV can tell you which ones on “this” side to support, too.

What is most saddening is the appeal to a “left” or “non-Fox-News media” that supposedly counters Beck’s dangerousness or perversity. The American left spearheaded the sanctions of Iraq, voted to give Chancellor Bush emergency powers, funded his invasion of said country, approved the Patriot Act, voted in Obama, re-approved the Patriot Act, stepped up various wars and murders everywhere else, is tough on drugs, et cetera.

And what “non-Fox-News” media has stood against the perversity and horror? The New York Times? The Nation? The Huffington Post? They all cheerlead the dropping of bombs and the turning of little brown children into still corpses riddled with depleted uranium. They nod seriously and consult powerful financiers and economists about the necessity of this or that corporate welfare under whichever name.

So, it comes to it—do you hate Beck because you hate empire, war, racism, murder, torture, crony capitalism, and the exploitation of the human race?

Or do you just hate him because he’s on the other side?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Dark Knight's Willing Deception

***Spoilers*** for The Dark Knight and Final Fantasy X ahead.

Antilife fearfulness finds terror in the change in the world. Change, and the uncertainty of future change, inspires wonder, delight, love and amazement in the healthy mind. In the sick mind, it is this same change and uncertainty that inspires terror, and results in fantasies of absolutism, lust for the still perfection of death, and, simultaneously, inspires the self defense instincts, and lashing out.

To the sick mind, any force of opposition is (1) unified, and (2) unreasoning. I have discussed the unified quality in previous entries on ragnarism; in short, it involves the belief that all things which disagree with (or do not proactively, automatically agree with) the sick mind are somehow connected. This is the "with us or against us," "black and white" model of the world.

For purposes of The Dark Knight, the (2) unreasoning portion of the delusion is highly relevant. This is because the Joker is portrayed, like many villains before him, as a representation of chaos and disorder, in the tradition of Loki and the "mental patient" villain. I.e., the villain who cannot be reasoned with or pacified, because he has no goals other than sensation/carnage. The point is made very clear, as the Joker destroys money he has acquired, laughs in the face of being thrown from a building, does not mind being punched by Batman, etc.

This is an unrealistic villain, if an interesting character. Real human beings have motivations. For example, if you kill someone's family, they may want to kill you in return. If you punch someone in the nose, they may want to punch you in the nose. But the fearful mind sees no depth to the resistance of an enemy; no reason why the "enemy" might be resisting their desires. Ergo, the fearful mind sees its enemies as baseless and reasonless, beyond negotiation or understanding, and therefore worthy only of violence.

To move beyond the abstract: consider (with a groan) the American or Israeli mainstream perspective on "Islamic terror." Rather than viewing violence from other human beings as a result of violence against them, it is viewed as an unreasoning holy crusade to destroy. The national myth goes, "Islamic terrorists are unthinking madmen who seek only our destruction." This perception has been used for barbarians, communists, etc. whenever necessary for those with sick minds. This is why it is useless to: 1) debate or negotiate with more than show; 2) self-examine and concede; 3) show mercy.

Sociopaths exist, to be sure, and they may justify themselves as seeking sensation, if trapped and questioned. If The Dark Knight were simply about the Joker as a sociopath (or other unique individual), that would be one thing. Instead, the Joker serves not as an aberration, but as a representation: an example of the type of enemy that good people have to resist. The kind of enemy who destroys with no motive is presented as the natural reaction to someone who is noble, heroic and self-sacrificing.

I.e.: it is inevitable that the world become a fearful, disgusting, violent place that cannot be reasoned with or fixed, except through violence. Of course, this is ragnarism in its purest form: the reaction of the fearful mind, or violent lashing out at a hated world.

This is because the movie says that Batman created the Joker through sheer goodness. At the end of Batman Begins, the predecessor to The Dark Knight, the cops show Batman the first of the cards that the Joker has left at the scene of a bank robbery. They inform him that, because his noble Batman stint has worked so well, the criminals are already "adapting." In essence: try to live a noble life, and evil, chaotic forces will inevitably try to destroy you, for absolutely no reason at all.

This theme is hammered home in The Dark Knight. The Joker tells Batman that they are linked, and alike, and that Batman created him; other characters emphasize that the Joker is a necessary reaction to Batman. Because Batman began challenging the normal forces of corruption in the city (such as the mob), the world naturally created an even worse villain, which, unlike the mob, does not desire money or power, but simply unreasoning destruction. As a result, Batman is "forced" to become more authoritarian in his methodology, because to do otherwise leaves him vulnerable to the Joker (and villains in that mold).

The story might now sound familiar to you:

Because I am so noble, evil people with no morals or inner worth will try to kill me. I am thus forced to become cold, hard and brutal so that I can meet their challenge. It is not my fault when I take extreme measures, such as violating the privacy of large groups (which Batman does in the movie), or torturing captives who don't actually know useful information (which Batman also does in the movie). Rather, it is the Joker's fault.

It was the motivation for the American "Cold War" as well as the "War on Terror." The sick mind cannot imagine an enemy who is not obsessed with it. Thus, the Joker is obsessed with Batman. His entire life and career are based around the battle with Batman, which he expounds on at the end of the movie. Similarly, the American narrative imagines that Islamic terrorists spend all day lustfully hating the United States for its superior technology, morals, women, etc.

The most dangerous conclusion in the Batman movie comes at the end, when Batman lies about Harvey Dent (Two Face)'s murders, in order to trick the ordinary masses of Gotham into believing that Harvey Dent was a perfect saint who did not succumb to evil. Of course, being the noble hero, Batman accepts responsibility for Dent's murders. This is supposed to be a good thing because then the people of Gotham can go on believing that Harvey Dent is wonderful, and they need this "hope" in order to carry on.

The message here is striking:

1) When a hero seems to have done bad things (such as Batman or the United States killing innocent people), the hero is actually innocent, but is just accepting responsibility in order to protect us all. Thus, it is rude to pay attention when a hero appears to kill innocents (or commits any other sin of your choice).

2) In order to go forward with their hollow, meaningless lives, most people need to be lied to to give them hope. They need this hope because they are trapped in an endless cycle of violence from which they can never break free.

The "endless cycle of violence" and death is the worldview of the sick mind, yet again. The necessity of lying to people in order to prepare them for death and destruction is the next stage.

For those familiar with Final Fantasy X, consider Lady Yunalesca as an example. By killing her own husband to temporarily defeat Sin (a monster which regularly killed thousands of people), an action spawned of fear, Lady Yunalesca believed that she was giving Spira hope. Tainted by this fear, she refused to believe that Spira could exist without Sin, because her fear caused her to believe that life could not exist without being bleak and violent. Because she felt life had to be bleak and violent, she considered it merciful to help other summoners carry on a tradition of sacrificing their guardians, and themselves, to "fight" Sin--even though they could never totally defeat Sin that way. The summoners' quests gave the people of Spira "hope," because although everyone was participating in a great lie--a lie that killed countless Spirans over the ages--the lie nonetheless gave them something positive, albeit untrue, in which to believe (and like the Straussian trend this point critiques, the "hope" is really just cover for stealing more money and killing more people). And so, Yunalesca felt justified in trying to murder Yuna and her guardians in order to stop them from revealing the truth--and to stop them from destroying Sin and breaking the cycle (spiral) of violence.

Yunalesca's perspective is, essentially, Batman's perspective from The Dark Knight, which is the same perspective of every sick, ragnarist mind throughout history: life must be brutal, fearful and violent, and only through lies can we give people enough hope to carry on. If we strive for a better world, where the killing can stop and people can live in peace, we will fail, so there is no point trying. It is better to simply deceive them: to give them a grand quest against an enemy; a quest that can never be won; and in that quest, they will have hope and purpose, and make it through the bleak night. And I am a noble, wonderful person for giving them that hope, even as they live on in violence.

And so, we hunt terrorists, or clown murderers, or communists, or whoever the hell else. Somehow, it never seems to end. Sin claims more people, and our leaders promise us that our soldiers' next noble war will be the cure for what ails us.

They're lying, and some of them know it, but those ones congratulate themselves privately for giving us hope to carry on in such a bleak world. The others are just dumb, greedy and afraid, and want to lash out. There is always someone new to kill, and always brave soldiers or false causes to place our hopes in. Harvey Dent, the murderer? Batman, the liar?

Why aren't we good enough for the truth, Lady Yunalesca? Why can't you explain to us how Harvey Dent was a good man who was driven over the edge? Why can't we learn from his mistake and be better ourselves for it?

Because, under absolutism, Harvey Dent cannot be a good man once, and a man in error later. He can't be both, says the sick mind, because the sick mind believes that thoughts are static and controlled--he must be one or the other, good or evil, rather than nuanced enough to have been genuinely good and then fallen to genuine evil. And so, the fearful mind refuses to grapple with change and uncertainty, to its own demise.

All this aside, The Dark Knight was an enjoyable movie. The acting as a whole was quite good; the technology was interesting; Heath Ledger so well portrayed the Joker character that the Joker became the hero, rather than the villain of the movie. The director and writer managed to artfully dash through rapid-fire detached scenes without making the breaks too jarring--a required skill in an arena where cost cutting is more important than art. And, if you accept the comic book world as fantasy alone, the Joker (and his suggested inevitability) makes for a nice adventure.

***Spoilers*** for The Dark Knight and Final Fantasy X above.

Psychology Today response log 2 6/3/11

(Following up on Part 1.)

Response to "Are they an extrovert? Maybe. Did they discount their credibility by responding aggressively towards an article that is merely explaining the key differences between two mental states? Definitely."

The crucial distinction here may be in what constitutes "merely explaining the key differences between [one group ] and [another group]."

Take, for example, the following equation, and complete it as you like using the table immediately following:

[Group A] believe that [Group B] [Conclusion 1].

Group A
1) Extroverts
2) Introverts
3) Iraqis
4) Fur traders
5) Black people

Group B
1) Americans
2) extroverts
3) they themselves
4) introverts
5) baby seals

Conclusion 1
a) should be soundly clubbed and their pelts sold for profit
b) are ignorant wallflowers
c) should be blown to pieces, and have been stockpiling arms to do just that
d) never think things through as intelligently as they should, and therefore regularly say things that aren't suitably polished
e) should never have to work hard

How many potentially misleading statements can you construct? How many such statements have been (or currently are) believed by large numbers of people, to horrible ends? How many such statements are rude (or, alternatively, very dangerous), derogatory misjudgments that could wrongly insult individuals because they exhibit a certain characteristic?

(While we're at it, how reliable are standard tests? Does the history of the psychological profession ever show error or horror? Has psychology ever been employed to argue that certain groups, because of either observable or "testable" behavior, were suffering from a negative condition that allowed them to be officially stigmatized?)

The construction "[Group A] believe that [Group b] [Conclusion 1]" rarely turns out accurate, because such a construction is not a logical argument. Rather, it begs the question, and is closer to a definition than to an argument. For example, saying "NRA members believe that they themselves are members of the NRA" is less troublesome, but even then, it doesn't account for the possibilities of (1) NRA members who didn't realize what they were signing up for, or (2) who already thought they quit and were unaware of still being on the rolls, or (3) who were signed up as a joke by their kid brothers.

Ascribing not merely tendencies, but beliefs (particularly negative, accusatory ones) to a particular group, is fail, and also bad, and also has a long and sordid history. Making oneself out to be the victim to justify these conclusions is a popular method of disguising what is, actually, the first attack (if anything can ever be accurately called "first," anyway). For example: the [Nation 1] people are being encroached upon...the homeland is being...the [race] race is being...

(Would it blow synapses if this one would be referred to as an introvert by social acquaintances? Would it blow synapses if this one had been classified as an introvert by the very tests the author discussed in her article? If true, why would someone speak up in defense of those not classified as part of her or his group?)

Psychology Today response log 6/3/11

Response to Dr. Laurie Helgoe in Psychology Today.

…in which Dr. Helgoe congratulates herself for being more thoughtful, more patient, less consumerist, less easily amused and generally one evolutionary step higher than the sans-culottes.

Some highlights:

A) Certain samples of “introverts” perform better than certain samples of “extroverts” (occasionally spelled as extravert by the good doctor) at certain well-regulated tasks.

B) Standardized testing, coupled with the weighing and classification of certain portions of brain mass, can determine whether someone is an “introvert” who is perpetually misunderstood and a woeful underdog in “American culture” (despite possessing, say, numerous graduate degrees, a high income, and being published in important magazines with national circulation).

C) Evil members of Group B are always engaging in prejudice toward Group A. Those naughty Group B-ers!

A selection: Rather, Extroverts “‘think we have answers but just aren’t giving them…they don’t understand we need time to formulate them’ and often won’t talk until a thought is suitably polished.”

How wicked of those extroverts to so callously misjudge the introverts without even getting to know them first! How could anyone be so crudely judgmental?

And oh, those clumsy, mud-tongued extroverts--always saying things that aren't as suitably polished as Dr. Helgoe's quotes!

Things which are probably true:

1) Different people like socializing in different ways. More frequently, less frequently, all the time, hardly ever, not at all, in large groups, in small groups, in as many different ways as there are people/moods/days of the week/days of a lifetime;

2) More traditionally “outgoing” people may have, at some point, been unfair or rude toward Dr. Helgoe or others who share some of her preferences;

3) When feeling defensive, or when trying to justify displeasure with one’s own lucrative job (“I have too many clients trying to get me to work for them in this crazy economy! How unlucky I am in modern America!”), even someone with lots of formal education can resort to bitter tribalism;

4) Bitter tribalism is inappropriate even given anecdotal or media-based evidence of 3) above;

5) Feeling that you are a more thoughtful person than others, or less interested in (or less needful of) partaking in various popular forms of behavior could lead one to feel kinship with Dr. Helgoe and be drawn, by this similarity, into her not-very-nice condemnations by accident.

With grinning apologies to my dryad.

NYC Educator Response Log 6/3/11

Response to NYC Educator on the superiority of American education over Chinese:

This one girl's anecdotal quip about how a particular situation may have occurred for her, offered up in a moment of humorous defiance, is all it takes for you to condemn the wicked foreigners as less worthy than our illustrious Obama, Gates and Bloomberg?

The story isn't even internally consistent. If a teacher would have the time to actually "yell at" a child for an hour for an educational infraction, how many teachers per students must they necessarily have over there? Ten teachers per student, to fill this mandate and make the story accurate? Even if a teacher set aside this hour once a day, how often could it occur for each particular student? (In which case the anecdote sounds more like an evaluation of long term progress than a daily verbal beating.) Using this story as any kind of barometer for comparison to your being upset at a girl in the middle of a class for a small infraction is rather shaky, to say the least (think "WMD"!).

Perhaps this sense of cultural superiority is why Americans are only willing to lightly complain (on their blogs, or rarely, wave clever placards in designated free speech zones) about their overlords, but when the chips are down, it's "USA! USA!" and the fun goes on.

Don't y'all talk about my momma!