Monthly Archives: June 2021

Stoyak: Racist Rampage Edition

Fair warning: this post is going to be one of those meta-quasi-philosophical rambles. If that’s not your bag, well, either the deep dive through propaganda, or a bunch of lame jokes, will resume tomorrow. Before all that, though, a shout-out to the few lurkers out there who dropped a comment yesterday now that the “log in” thing is disabled. I think we’ve cleared the twenty reader hurdle; let’s be generous and say there are now 24. The Dirty Two Dozen. I like the sound of that.

Anyway, as we noted yesterday, it looks like false flag season has started a bit early this year. I’m joking, of course…. or maybe I’m not. Hell, I don’t even know anymore, and that’s what I want to talk about.

As you can probably tell from the title (“stoyak” means “boner” in Russian), those of us who actually kinda enjoyed the Cold War are getting that lovin’ feelin’ all over again these days. Everyone on this side of the aisle has compared CNN, MSDNC, Fox News, et al to Pravda, but that’s actually a real slander on the Bolshies’ professionalism. Even at its worst, Pravda wouldn’t put out the kind of ham-handed shit our “news” organizations do. Not even a drunken junior sub-editor in the ass end of Siberia would make up stuff that bad. It’s the kind of thing a sixth grader would crank out the day it’s due on the ride to school. On the short bus.

Which is why it doesn’t matter what the alleged shooter in the alleged false flag allegedly did. Is it true? Did it happen the way they say it did? Did it even happen at all? None of it matters. Yeah, I’m sure there are some idiots out there who believe it actually happened the way the papers say it did, but — crucially — they “believe” it because they want it to be true. NOT because they trust “the news,” because they ostentatiously don’t trust the news — the same people who are certain that this kid snapped because of White Privilege are the ones who are certain that the Mainstream Media was in the tank for Donald Trump. They’re sure they are a persecuted minority, under siege from evil badwhite gremlins and their chieftain, the Bad Orange Man, so all this stuff is of a piece.

Y’all know I hate the PoMos with the heat of a thousand suns, but Baudrillard was spot on about this. What we’re seeing is that “hyperreality” he was talking about, a world in which Media exists entirely on its own terms. Nothing in the “news” conforms to any facts out in the real world, because there are no “facts,” nor “real world” either. You don’t accept or reject the “news” story as an attempt — more or less successful, depending — to depict an underlying reality. Instead, you accept or reject it based on its narrative, and how its narrative aligns with yours.

I’m quite certain that most people have never even heard of Baudrillard, but that doesn’t matter either, because I’m equally certain most people intuitively grasp what I’m talking about, even if they can’t attach fancy Froggy labels to it. As noted in the comments below, I’m deeply skeptical of this “false flag / crisis actor” shit, so beloved of the “satanic pedo pizza / Trump is still the double-secret president!” crowd. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help myself. When the DA lady started insisting that they’d found racist writings in the perp’s own handwriting — they were very anxious to make it very, very clear that it was in his own handwriting — I immediately thought “plant.”

I didn’t go full retard, making up some story about how they grabbed this guy, drugged him up, and turned him loose, and while he was going on his “rampage” other agents planted a bunch of pre-written stuff around his house. Not that I doubt “our” “government” might want to do such things — having so very, very blatantly NOT rigged an election, I’m pretty sure “our” “government” would do just about anything — but I doubt they have the capacity to actually carry out such a scheme. This is the same Feeb that took fifteen guys to figure out that the “noose” in Bubba Wallace’s garage was a door pull, after all.

Nah, I figured, what must’ve happened was, much like that “leaky pipe” in Atlanta on election night, the guys on the spot saw a chance to advance the ball and they went for it. Why no, of course you can’t see the notebook with the guy’s own handwriting in it, for the same reason you can’t see the voting software or the paper ballots — because fuck you, that’s why.

Did that actually happen? Who knows? More importantly, who cares? The very fact that my gut reaction to this was “bullshit!” from the very first line tells us something important — and very, very, very bad — about where we are as a society. I’d like you to ask yourselves the same question I’ve been asking myself these last few weeks: What would it take for you to “trust” the Media again? I don’t mean “assume everything is the 100% straight truth, and nothing but the truth.” I’m talking even the bare-minimum, the way it was in, say, the 90s, when you knew they’d be giving the benefit of every possible doubt to the Democrat and doing their level best to torpedo the Republican. Even then, given all that, we still assumed that “news” stories were still at least tangential to the truth at some point, not somewhere over the rainbow in Baudrillard’s Matrix.

What would it take to get back to even that? The only answers I can come up with involve Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, with lots of mortal verdicts being carried out in public squares…. and even then I’m not so sure. It’s NOT going to end well, and the end is coming faster than anyone thinks.

 

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Tuesday Miscellania [updated x3]

3x Update: Since we were just talking about made-up holidays, it seems false flag season has started a tad early this year:

On social media, the gunman painted a picture of a mundane and apolitical life, writing about his rabbits and being featured with his future wife in a flattering Boston Globe article that described how they got married in a nursing home so her grandfather could attend in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He had no criminal history and had earned a Ph.D., according to Rollins. Prosecutors say those attributes were a front that hid a darker side, fueled by racism.

The evidence for this assertion?

“There is some troubling white supremacist rhetoric that was found in Nathan Allen’s own handwriting, antisemitic and racist sentiments against Black individuals,” Rollins said in a news conference.

Yes, in his own handwriting, says the DA. She’s very concerned that you know this — in his own handwriting. A notebook. That they just happened to find among his stuff. After he was dead. That nobody who knew him knew about.

Allegedly, as I suppose we’re all required to say whenever these things happen. You can check out McCain’s original source, some website called heavy.com, which takes great pains to show what a nice, normal, boring, helpful guy this was. Until he snapped. For no reason. As White people are prone to do.

Allegedly.


2x Update: Since it — the whole “Boomer” thing — came up again in the comments, and since the comments are now open, I think we need to come up with some neologisms that’ll settle it once and for all. As Vizzini points out re: Vox Day and his Boomer obsession, all the people who did the real damage in “The Sixties” were actually Silents. I’ve pointed this out a zillion times myself, because if you just think about it for a second, the very oldest Boomers were at most 22 in the Summer of Love (1967, and using 1945 as the traditional start date for the Baby Boom). Granted that “the demo,” as they say in the tv biz, has an outsized influence as consumers, they are all but nonexistent as producers.

For any given cultural moment (in capitalist societies anyway), the producers are invariably a generation or more behind the consumers. I’m not going to write another 5000 words about this, I swear I’m not, so just remember: One of the guys who wrote the rock’n’roll anthem was born in 1893.

Now, I get that Vox Day et al generally use “Boomer” as an adjective, or synecdoche, or whatever the rhetorical term is, for a set of attitudes. The original Weatherman, Bill Ayers, was born a year before the Baby Boom technically started, but he’s the quintessential rebellion-for-rebellion’s-sake “Boomer.” Jerry Rubin might’ve actually been worse, in terms of contemporary cultural influence, and he was born in 1938, and so on — born seven years before “The Baby Boom,” he’s as “Boomer” as they come. And so on.

But that feeds into the other problem: As I’ve also written about probably ad nauseam, the very worst radicals in the next generation are the guys who were fully aware of some huge social cataclysm, but weren’t old enough to meaningfully participate. The very Nazi-est Nazis, just to stick with a running theme, were Himmler and Heydrich, who just barely missed being called up (Himmler was actually an officer candidate when the war ended). So it was with the “Boomers” who were actually Silents — they were born in the late 30s, so they grew up with very clear memories of the war… and, crucially, the aftermath, when they were introduced to some angry young stranger and told to call him “Dad.”

That kind of thing fucks you up.

And so it was with the very worst of the other “Boomers,” the ones whose salad days were… drumroll please… the Clinton Years. Bill Clinton really IS a Boomer by birth year (1946), but the people who treated that sleazeball like a White-trash messiah were born in the late 50s and early 60s. They were the kind of people who — again, as I’ve written probably ad nauseam — were certain they would’ve ended poverty, racism, and the Vietnam War at Woodstock, if only they hadn’t been in junior high at the time. “The Sixties” was the great social cataclysm they missed, and they still haven’t gotten over it.

Those are the goddamn Boomers…. metaphorically speaking.

We need some kind of name for those people, one that isn’t tied to a term used in demographics. “Hippie-wannabes” is too much of a mouthful, as is “groovy fossils” or anything else I can think of right now. But do you see what I mean? My parents, though born in the mid-1940s, were practically Ozzie and Harriet — they sure as hell aren’t “Boomers,” though they were born in the biggest years of the Boom. They guys who made “Forrest Gump” were Boomers, the worst kind of Boomers, though Tom Hanks was born in 1956, making him a whopping 11 years old in the Summer of Love.

See what I mean? The floor is open for suggestions.


 

Sorry, gang, I just don’t have the oomph for a deep dive into historical propaganda today, so here’s this.

Lurkers of the world, unite! I’ve gotten a lot of email (three is a lot) about the comment policy, specifically the need to log in and register. As Rotten Chestnuts is a group blog, and specifically a group blog piggybacking off a much larger, better blog, we decided that, like Spinal Tap, Rotten Chestnuts’ appeal should be kept, ummm, selective. A lot of it had to do with some ancient grief that was happening at House of Eratosthenes that there’s no need to get into, but whatever, point is, we decided on the “user must log in and register” thing.

And on the one hand, I get where my email correspondents are coming from. We started this thing back in 2012, I think, which compared to The Current Year featured clam, reasoned discourse to rival the Golden Age of Athens. Back then, asking someone to register to comment was just an inconvenience. Here in the Current Year, it seems somewhat sinister.

On the other hand, though… I mean, c’mon man, the Feds have all your info anyway. They bought it from the CCP or Eastern European gangsters like everyone does. And even if they’re too cheap to pay the Moldavian Mafia, the fact is, they rigged a presidential election. You think they won’t put the arm on your internet service provider if they feel the need to?

On the third hand — don’t worry, we’ll be seeing a lot of those once the booster shots kick in — it doesn’t matter anymore, because I cleared it with the guys, and changed the comment policy. Now all you have to do is fill out your name and email, so if you’ve been lurking around here and didn’t want to go to the trouble of registering, please drop a line and say hi. Who knows, maybe we’re up to thirty readers by now!

Bolshie-chicks. Here’s the Ace of Spades crowd cuck-cuck-cucking about censorship. (Side note: Does anyone else really enjoy it when those guys — denizens of the most wretched hive of Boomer CivNattery in the galaxy — call other cucks “cucks”? Don’t get me wrong, Ace can still be damn funny when he wants to be, but whenever he lets loose on these guys, it’s 100 to 1 that the very next article will be about how important it is that we call our congressman to urge xzhym to stand firm on House Resolution #302, which is a strongly-worded condemnation of etc. Watching them miss the point is like watching Reggie Jackson strike out — painful, embarrassing, yet somehow epic in its way).

Vote harderrrr!!!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah:

The fact is…this [some trannie shit] has very little to do with the obvious abuses perpetrated on our children by the transsexual lobby, and more to do with the inexorable degradation of traditional society and its norms, in service to a political agenda that leads to the implementation of socialism and its horrors.

Break down the family, break down the age-old restrictions on sexualizing children, break down the biological differences between men and women, break down every bit of thousands of years of sometimes bitter experience that has led to the successes of Western society, and what are we left with?

I know it’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, but even rhetorical questions have answers, and this one is: We’re left with the Soviet Union, circa 1920. For people who keep banging on and on (and on and on and on) about how much they fear Teh Socialisms, it always amazes me how little they know about it. Back in college, we had “readers” (collections of primary source documents) with titles like “Bolshevik Culture.” This has all been tried before, gang.

Ok, yeah, not the trannie shit, not even the Bolsheviks were that crazy, but the sexualization of children was very, very high on the Bolshie agenda, particularly the agenda of their women. I doubt many Westerners have heard of Alexandra Kollontai — even back in my day, the Women’s Studies Department only talked about her in whispers — but I promise you, she’d think Drag Queen Story Hour is just super. Stop me if this sounds familiar:

The sexual crisis cannot be solved unless there is a radical reform of the human psyche, and unless man’s potential for loving is increased. And a basic transformation of the socio-economic relationships along communist lines is, essential if the psyche is to be re-formed. This is an “old truth” but there is no other way out. The sexual crisis will in no way be reduced, ‘whatever kind of marriage or personal relationships people care to try’….

Besides the already mentioned inadequacies of the contemporary psyche – extreme individuality, egoism that has become a cult – the “ sexual crisis” is made worse by two characteristics of the psychology of modern man:

1. The idea of “possessing” the married partner;

2. The belief that the two sexes are unequal, that they are of unequal worth in every way, in every sphere, including the sexual sphere.

It goes on like that, of course:

The idea of “property” goes far beyond the boundaries of “lawful marriage”. It makes itself felt as an inevitable ingredient of the most “free” union of love. Contemporary lovers with all their respect for freedom are not satisfied by the knowledge of the physical faithfulness alone of the person they love. To be rid of the eternally present threat of loneliness, we “launch an attack” on the emotions of the person we love with a cruelty and lack of delicacy that will not he understood by future generations. We demand the right to know every secret of this person’s being. The modern lover would forgive physical unfaithfulness sooner than “spiritual” unfaithfulness. He sees any emotion experienced outside the boundaries of the “free” relationship as the loss of his own personal treasure.

And there’s more, much more. Alexandra Kollontai was born in 1872, for the record, and her major “theoretical” writings date from the turn of the 20th century. And yeah, for the record, she looked exactly like you figure she would. The point is, the destruction of normal sexuality and the promotion of polymorphous perversion has been a big goal of the Bolshie-chicks from day one… and we are now ruled exclusively by Bolshie-chicks, of both sexes and however-many-we’re-up-to-now genders.

Commie stuff that’s actually freeLet’s give credit where it’s due, Marxists.org walk the walk. I don’t vouch for the accuracy of the translations, of course, but they have a LOT of OG Marxist and Bolshevik stuff on there, and it’s all open access. I’d still go with a “reader,” personally, if you can find one — you really don’t want to plow through acres of Bolshie prose — but they’re mostly out of print and expensive. If you want, say, Trotsky in his own words, they’ve got him, as well as such monumental-in-their-time classics as The Conquest of Bread (the most Bolshie possible book title). If nothing else, you’ll never have insomnia again.

Have a good day, kameraden. Keep your powder dry and your peckers up.

UPDATE: I’d forgotten about that “The NFL is gay” stuff. On the gayness of football itself, I have no comment — I haven’t watched a snap in years. But I’m going to go against the standard take here, that the NFL is retardedly jumping (even further) on the “get woke, go broke” express. This might actually be a smart move on their part, if by “smart” you mean “might temporarily stop the bleeding.” Stick with me.

In case you don’t know (or, more likely, just don’t care), an NFL player recently came out of the closet, thus becoming the first actual player to be openly gay (the tempest-in-a-princess-tea-party that was Michael Sam ended with him getting cut in preseason). Knowing nothing about the guy, I assume he’s another on-the-bubble player (the NFL is heading into offseason training camps right about now) who needs to raise his profile in some way to stick on the roster, but it really doesn’t matter. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the commissioner somehow put him up to it.

See, sportsball viewership across the board has cratered. As people who still watch tv kept crowing, sportsball viewership was cratering even during the worst of the sham-demic, when draconian lockdowns kept people inside all day with nothing to do but veg out in front of the tube. And the reason this happened, of course, was that the pro leagues, being 100% negrified, went all-in on #BLM and associated stupidities….

…but although Normie of course couldn’t say that — that he was bailing out because of the obvious, murderous anti-white animus (that, somehow and may God have mercy on us, be rayciss) — but he could say the word “politics.” As in, “I’m not going to watch any more basketball games; there’s too much politics.” That’s where the genius of football’s “The NFL is gay” ad campaign comes in. Because now “politics” must be read as “includes gays,” and though the guys watching sportsball with their wives and girlfriends could still kinda sorta get away with using “politics” to mean “joggers jogging,” there’s no way the ladies are going to let them get away with it now that the poofs are involved. Hence, eyeballs remain on screens from sheer inertia.

Or that’s my spur of the moment crackpot theory anyway. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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Narrative Collapse (II)

Before turning to look at effective propaganda, let’s address an important objection from Anonymous White Male:

Oh, they always have a capital-T version of the truth, and they pretend to believe it. But, that capital-T truth is constantly changing. Sort of a fungible propaganda. Remember, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Oh, damn! This is Monday. Remember Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

I hate to sound like Ulynaov’s mini-me, but that’s the kind of “bourgeois objectivism” we need to get over, comrade. They don’t “pretend” to believe it, they DO believe it, with all their hearts and souls… and yet, they don’t believe it, because they can’t. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia today, and we must act like it, if we are to survive… and yet, the very act of “acting like it” entails knowing that we could easily have always been at war with Eurasia tomorrow, and acting like it. I can’t explain it, but somehow it must be both true and not true, simultaneously.

I can’t really grasp it either, being cognitively normal and all, but like Sherlock Holmes said, once you strip away the impossible, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be the truth. Orwell called this ability “crimestop:”

Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

It’s impossible for us bourgeois objectivists to really grasp this, yet it can be done. I mean no disrespect to Buddhism — a philosophy and lifestyle I deeply admire — when I say that Buddhists manage something similar, because “nonduality” is kinda their whole thing. Now is neither the time nor the place to discuss my very superficial layman’s understanding of Nagarjuna, but if you follow his reasoning, he’s right — yep, everything is empty of inherent existence. But… who can possibly believe this? Zen masters can, I guess, for whatever value “belief” holds when you truly are one with everything, but that’s the point — it takes years, probably literal lifetimes if you’re a Buddhist, of the most rigorous mental discipline to achieve it.

Or, you know, you can make do with pronounced schizoid tendencies, like the two Napoleons in the previous post. Either way, the point is, it can be done. Often IS done. For proof, pick any of the lunatics currently driving America In Name Only off the cliff at warp speed. But that’s why it fails — if you’re able to truly overcome your dualistic mind, the way Zen masters have; or if you’re an unmedicated schizophrenic, like pretty much all SJWs if you really get to know them, this “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia” / “m coworker Steve is really Stephanie” shit makes sense to you. If neither of those apply, it’s just brain-breaking lunacy that results first in frustration, then in learned helplessness, and then, eventually, rebellion. Marching armies and artillery barrages and miles-wide airstrikes are horrible, but for fuck’s sake, man, at least they’re real.

That said, let’s take a look at some historical examples of legit propaganda — that is, the kind of thing that is both obviously propaganda, and where the propagandists’ intentions were obvious.

Back in the USSR (you don’t know how lucky you are, boys), schools, factories, etc. were required to keep The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on hand. I don’t know if this was true in the later USSR, but in the darkest days of the Cold War, every time someone got unpersoned, the State would send out updates to the encyclopedia. These were loose pages — you were instructed to tear out the old page and paste in the new one.

Nikolai Yezhov? Never heard of him! This is propaganda in Dalrymple’s sense. Straight humiliation. Take that out a step, and you’ve got Winston Smith’s job at MiniTrue…

,,,except the intentions are totally different. Being forced to paste a suddenly Yezhov-less picture into your copy of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia is a very clear “fuck you” from the regime. It’s a brilliantly meta fuck you, in fact, since not only is the regime forcing you to parrot an absurd lie (that no such person as “Nikolai Yezhov” ever existed), they’re showing you in the starkest possible terms what will happen to you if you don’t parrot the lie.

But there’s another kind of propaganda, which is much closer to what we commonly think of when we hear “propaganda.” Just to make it really obvious:

Recall that if Communism was supposed to be “Soviet power plus electrification,” in Lenin’s phrase, then Nazism was supposed to be something like “The Middle Ages with autobahns.” This is Hitler as a Teutonic Knight, and the Nazis just loved this kind of thing:

Obviously this isn’t designed to humiliate. But, pace Dalrymple, it’s not intended to inform, either, or even really to convince (though the black-and-white example is a recruiting poster). Instead, these are primarily intended as narrative reinforcement. In the world of “the Middle Ages plus autobahns,” the Nazis in general, and the SS in particular, were cast as the Teutonic Knights, holding the line against — then, of course, eventually conquering — the barbarians of the East. This is why Hitler was always ranting about “Jewish Bolshevism” — both Jews and Bolsheviks weren’t just fundamentally alien in Nazi rhetoric; they were specifically Asiatic, indeed Mongoloid, aliens.

Were these posters effective at the time? I don’t know — it’s really hard to accurately gauge public opinion in brutal dictatorships — but they sure as hell work now. If someone were to ask me to give them the briefest possible description of what the Nazis were all about, I’d link these posters and a few more like them. Look up the Teutonic Knights, imagine what they’d do if they had a few jet aircraft and a panzer division or two, and there you go.

Importantly, propaganda pieces like this reinforce the idea of perpetual struggle. Since we started with Orwell, let’s circle back to him. You don’t see this part of his famous review of Mein Kampf quoted too often, at least not by Orwell’s admirers:

Hitler could not have succeeded against his many rivals if it had not been for the attraction of his own personality, which one can feel even in the clumsy writing of Mein Kampf, and which is no doubt overwhelming when one hears his speeches …. The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him….

[His] is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself…He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds… One feels…that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.

That’s the attitude recapitulated in those Teutonic Knight posters. The struggle will never end, even if the Reich runs from London to Vladivostok. Nazis were Social Darwinists; for them, life simply IS struggle. Those posters are that narrative, in visual form.

I chose Cat Fancy mainly because their posters are especially stark illustrations of what I’m talking about, but there’s another reason: “Everyone knows” that Cat Fancy was completely intellectually incoherent. It was just Hitler’s weird psychopathology writ large, right? And yet, despite all that, here’s a clear narrative being recapped and sold, apparently very successfully, as propaganda.

What narrative are our PoMo overlords selling with their propaganda?

Part III soon.

 

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Narrative Collapse (I)

In which I pick a bone with Dr. Dalrymple.

I’ve quoted his famous analysis of Communist propaganda many times:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

And as I’ve said many times, I think this is spot on… but for one thing, we’re well past “political correctness” now, and for two, PC, propaganda, whatever you want to call it (stick with me) has been enstupidated along with the rest of our so-called civilization.

For one thing, the point of propaganda (or whatever we’ll end up calling it by the end of this essay) has changed. The hell of it is, I have no idea what it has changed to, but the saving grace is, I don’t think the propagandists know either. This isn’t an incidental problem. Smarter, better-trained propagandists won’t solve it, because it’s foundational. For a lie to work in Dalrymple’s sense — to beat you down and emasculate you by forcing you to repeat it — there must be such a thing as Truth. Real, objective, ontological, capital-T truth.

And that, of course, our PoMo overlords most strenuously deny.

Indeed, their whole schmear collapses if they admit to even the possibility of capital-T truth. I’m not talking about such anodyne things as “white rage” or whatever the term d’art is, which collapses with the simple acknowledgment that crime statistics exist. These are people who deny that basic biology exists, for pete’s sake — you’re really a woman if you believe you are, cock and balls and testosterone and chromosomes be damned. And yet, these same people also demand that their physiologies be fundamentally changed, on the public dime, so that their outer form can more closely match their self-concept.

Well, which is it? Do you need breasts and estrogen and a vagina to really be a woman, or don’t you? Do you need a penis graft (the technical medical term for this is “an addadicktome”) to be a real man, or not? Why the puberty blockers, the hormone shots, the double mastectomies, the whole catalog of horrors?

Please note that I’m not just compiling another list of SJW hypocrisies here. Obviously hypocrisy doesn’t bother them at all, and that’s the point, kameraden — those contradictions really ARE contradictions, and they’re unresolvable in the world of Earth-logic. If my coworker Steve comes in one day and announces that he’s really Stephanie, well, ok, I’ll play along, since I’ll get fired if I don’t. But that’s not enough for “Stephanie.” Even though absolutely no one will be demanding that “she” drop trou to confirm the presence of lady bits, “she” will agonize over it until the taxpayer finally ponies up for the slice and the shots. So it’s obviously not “just a social construction,” even though it totally is. Both of these things are somehow “true” for them, because they’re obviously deeply emotionally invested in both.

Ok. yeah, I hear you — they’re just crazy people. If you’ve read your Julian Jaynes, you know that schizophrenics have no problem leapfrogging the law of non-contradiction. Put two guys who think they’re Napoleon in the same room, and there’s perfect harmony — somehow, someway, they’re both Napoleon. But y’all, everything SJW works that way. For X to be true, it is somehow necessary for X not to be true at the same time. Thus, whatever they’re doing with the constant barrage of poz — the miscegenation in every commercial, the trannies in the Olympics, the endless, inescapable negrolatry — it’s not propaganda, at least not as Darlymple defines it….

…or if it is — that is, if it’s intended to humiliate, as Dalrymple says — then it’s epically shitty propaganda, because it’s self-defeating. I don’t mean “it’s obviously untrue” or “it’s poorly executed” or anything like that (though it IS obviously untrue and poorly executed, e.g. all those commercials showing negroes going camping, which has never happened in the history of humanity). I mean it undercuts itself, because again, for lies to work, we must acknowledge the possibility of Truth.

And yet, there is no Truth. Circling back to my coworker Steve for a second, it truly wouldn’t bother me to call “her” Stephanie. That’s not because I’m so attached to my crappy job. Rather, it’s because I know this whole thing is pointless — that “Stephanie” could decide that “she” is really a wingless golden-skinned dragonkin tomorrow, and we’d have to start calling xzhyr “your flappiness” or whatever — and so I take malicious pleasure in playing up “her” pretensions.

“Would milady like another cup of coffee? You’re looking so beautiful today, Stephanie, I’ll be happy to fetch it for you. I just love your new makeup; it really hides the five o’clock shadow.” What’s she gonna do, complain? The more absurd the “lies” — for lack of a better term — the faster the whole thing collapses. How are the leviathan state’s jackbooted thugs going to oppress anyone, when they can’t even figure out which bathroom to use this week?

As to what they actually are trying to do, if anything — the answer might turn out to be “nothing;” they don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing, given how dumb our species now is — it might help to take a look at some actually effective propaganda. That’s part II, coming soon.

 

 

 

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The Toccata and Fugue Generation [updated]

In  the ongoing excellent discussion below, Vizzini raises a point that needs to be addressed:

After reading through all this, it occurs to me that trying to define yourself or your generation or whatever through a work of popular entertainment is a very modern pathology and I want nothing to do with it.

I don’t think the kids of the early 1700s were saying, “Whoa, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, that’s so us. We’re the J.S. Bach generation. The Baroque generation. We’re more Baroque than any generation before us. Heh, heh.”

Look inside yourself, not outside. You are part of a grand river of history stretching back thousands of years, and it’s all extant within you. You are not an isolated expression of the moment.

It’s important that we distinguish between “seeing ourselves in” a particular pop culture artifact, and identifying with that particular artifact. It’s the difference between saying “Hey, remember that commercial ‘We’re the Pepsi Generation’?” and actually thinking of yourself as a member of “The Pepsi Generation.” Or, as I put it in my response to Vizzini, it’s like seeing yourself in a good caricature. I’m sure y’all remember this gem from the Obama years:

Naive as we were back then, we thought that this was the New Yorker editors screwing up in typical Cloud Person fashion: In their own minds, they were trying to lampoon how “White America” (where is this mythical place? are there direct flights?) saw the Obamas, but since the people they were trying to lampoon don’t read The New Yorker, and The New Yorker’s actual readers know that, they — the actual readers — got pissed off, because Cloud People are legendarily humorless…

…it was all pretty retarded, even by the tempest-in-a-teapot standards of those years. Of course we know better now — just as the medium is the message, so the outrage is the point; it’s all just clickbait — but leaving that aside, this is still a good example of the caricaturist’s art. A good caricature doesn’t just exaggerate a person’s most prominent physical features. If the caricaturist actually knows you, or can sense what you’re like (good, experienced caricaturists are excellent judges of character), his caricature will capture the most prominent facets of your personality, too.

In this case, the artist succeeded despite himself — though he was trying to lampoon what “White America” (please, repatriate me! I’m a refugee!!) thought about the Obamas, being a good artist he caught the essence of how the Obamas saw themselves. Moo-chelle really does see herself as Huey Newton’s dharma heir, and of course Barky identifies completely with his exotic weirdo backstory. He’s not really a Muslim (he’s not really anything), but he sure as hell doesn’t think of himself  as an “American,” a category of people he clearly despises. A good street artist who met the Obamas and knew nothing about them would draw something similar.

That’s where the distinction Vizzini raises is crucial. When I say “I’m pretty sure that in 1994, I was the Matt Dillon character in Singles, minus the looks,” I’m saying that Cliff (it’s significant that I had to look the character’s name up just now) was my caricature. I, too, was a largely directionless guy in a go-nowhere job who was starting to realize, much to my horror, that I wasn’t nearly as cool, smart, and talented as I thought I was — if I was, I, like Cliff, wouldn’t be here. Though I might’ve expressed it both ways for rhetorical convenience — “I see myself in Cliff” and “I identify with Cliff” — this is one of those cases where style must be sacrificed for clarity. I saw myself in Cliff, but I sure as hell didn’t identify with him — indeed, the whole reason I saw myself in him was that I was terrified of being him.

On the other hand, there really were lots of guys in my day who did identify with Cliff, completely. For them, he was the cool dude who just couldn’t catch a break. I’ll go ahead and say that in this instance, at least, Singles rises to the level of “art,” since the Cliff character was meaningful to widely different types of people, for wildly different reasons.

But then there’s the generational aspect to consider. Let’s stipulate, for the sake of argument, that as dinothedoxie notes, each generation has its own characteristic art form — movies for the Boomers, tv shows for the Xers, and let’s just say video games for Millennials and Gen Z. Let’s further stipulate that the best productions in these genres are art, in the sense that they express important truths about the human condition during that particular phase of Western Culture. I realize that like all this stuff, that seems awfully heavy to put on a goofy rom-com or a zombie shoot-em-up game, but when it comes to culture you work with what you’ve got.

In this case, Singles straddles the line — it’s made BY late Boomers (writer / director Cameron Crowe born 1957) FOR early Xers (the target audience being in their late 20s in 1992; I myself was in my late teens). It’s in the characteristic Boomer form — as dinothedoxie also notes, the ur-Xer artifact was the tv show “Friends” — and perhaps because of that, it was largely a niche picture, more talked about than actually seen.* Much like the guys who wrote “Rock Around the Clock” — one of whom, you’ll recall, was born in the 19th century — Crowe et al captured the zeitgeist of an upcoming generation, and even helped define it. They were IN Gen X, but not OF Gen X, if that makes sense, so the things they got wrong — e.g. the optimism that keeps breaking through despite itself — are the real touchpoints.

No matter how ironic and cynical they act, those characters actually, you know, like, believe in stuff like “love” and “success.” Bridget Fonda’s character’s arc (her name is Janet, and again, significant that I had to look it up) says she wants Cliff to succeed with his band**, but what she obviously really wants is for him to settle down, put on a tie, buy a Volvo, and get to work making partner at the law firm. Similarly, Bill Pullman’s plastic surgeon (“Dr. Jeffrey Jamison,” ditto), though supposed to come off as creepy and inappropriate (he asks his patient, Janet, out on a date), is actually acting in loco parentis, something “latchkey kids” like Crowe never forgave their own folks for. These are supposed to be Xers, and they do typical Xer stuff like “wear flannel” (most of Cliff’s wardrobe actually came from Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament) and “drink coffee” and “listen to Grunge,” but their life goals, if you’ll permit an anachronism for clarity, were all Boomer. Lame.

Fast forward a few years, though, and people really are identifying with this stuff. Cliff is a caricature, not a role model, but as the culture accelerates the distinction collapses. I doubt most kids today would even recognize a caricature. Social Media, when it comes right down to it, is insta-nostalgia — you’re setting the way events will be interpreted, and thus sold back to you, as they’re happening. The dramatic arc of Singles is “characters dreading that the way people see them is really who they are.” Janet realizes that everyone else thinks she’s superficial; Kyra Sedgwick (“Linda”) realizes everyone thinks she’s stuck-up and pretentious; Cliff realizes everyone sees him as a loser (the scene where the Pearl Jam guys selectively edit the concert review is classic), and so on. And that’s the thing — Cliff IS a loser, Janet IS superficial, Linda IS a poseur, and by the end, they all realize it… and they change.

That’s the key difference between the Boomers and Gen X, and especially between X and the current generations. For all their talk about changing the world, the Boomers as Gen X knew them were fighting change tooth and claw — 40 is the new 30, remember. Gen X was deeply afraid that change can’t happen — we were always blocked by the fucking Boomers, goddammit (remember that the Boomers’ sin is hubris, and ours is jealousy). In the accelerated culture (Chuck Klostermann’s phrase) of Clown World, where everything is mediated by social media, change is somehow both constant and impossible — you’re really a woman if you say you’re a woman, and god help anyone who gets your bespoke pronouns wrong… but your bespoke pronouns, like your “gender,” can change at any time without warning. In some way I can’t begin to understand, “you” really ARE your last tweet.


UPDATE: Just as I was publishing this, Eris Guy was making a comment that gets to the heart of what I was trying to say about my understanding of (check the crucial qualifier) of the Gen Z worldview. Check the comments on the below post for the full context, but here’s the key part of my reply:

In fact, I’d go further, and say that the “sandbox game” IS the Gen Z worldview, at least as far as I understand it. For those even older than me, a “sandbox game” is one that’s self-contained, but otherwise lawless. The earliest example is a game called “Grand Theft Auto.” You can’t break the laws of physics in “Grand Theft Auto” (the laws of video game physics, anyway), but you can — indeed, are required to — break every single moral law, not to mention every criminal statute, you’ve ever heard of. Most of the fun of sandbox games is literally just screwing around, seeing what you can get away with. Why not see if you can drop an anvil from the top of a skyscraper and nail that lady pushing a stroller? Why not blow up the bomb in Megaton settlement? Why not assassinate the emperor, and when it turns out he was a fake, kill his ass again? Nothing matters except grinding up another level, and if what you did somehow temporarily stalls that, well, just reload from the last save point.

That’s what I’m trying to get at. In my teaching days, my students would lie to my face, for any reason or no reason. As I’ve said, I’m pretty sure most times they were just fucking with me, just to see what they could get away with. They know there’s a million selfies on social media that refute their Dead Grandma Story, and they know that I know, and they know that I know they know, and they don’t care. No, that’s wrong — it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they seem to get active, malicious, almost sexual pleasure from knowing that I know. If they get away with it, great. But if they don’t, well, that just proves I’m a H8R, and as we know, having h8rz on Social Media just confirms what a unique, fascinating, special snowflake you are.

So why not lie to me? Why not blow up a city block, or kill the emperor, or screw a hooker, then beat her up and take your money back? It’s all just pixels in the sandbox world. If it’s fun and you get away with it, cool. If it’s boring, or temporarily sets you back a few experience points, you can always just reload from the last save point. We’re all just NPCs to them.

 


*total gross of just over $18 million, putting it at #69 (heh heh) on this list; for comparison purposes, the top grosser (Batman Returns, lest you thought stupid superhero remakes-of-remakes were a new thing) made almost ten times as much ($162 million), and you’ve got to get all the way to #9 (The Bodyguard, which has probably escaped our discussion because this site is a sausage fest and that’s one of the all-time chick flicks) before you get out of triple digits.

**Citizen Dick, owners of the minor local hit “Touch Me I’m Dick.” Crowe isn’t above going for the cheap laugh, but trust me, kids, that kind of thing really happened in the early 90s. It was considered fairly risqué, for instance, that the song “New Age Girl,” by the one-hit wonder Dead Eye Dick (n.b.), contained the lyric “she don’t eat meat but she sure likes the bone.” On the radio they played this!!!

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A Mailbag Question FOR the Readers [updated]

Martinian has one that I can’t answer, but maybe y’all can. Quoted in full, because there’s lots of good stuff here and I want to make sure to get to it all:

Hey Sev,

We’ve been discussing generational pathologies a lot on the blog (well…what else is the study of history, in some sense?), and so accurate diagnosis has been on my mind.

Regarding Boomers, a thoroughly Boomer AP US History teacher of mine in the 90s once showed us clips of The Graduate and said that it was a great example of a movie that was what the 60s was really about without all the hippy-dippy, sex-drugs-rock’n’roll stuff. I still think that’s a quite astute judgment. Watching Ben and Elaine on the bus at the end, I feel like I have a much better sense of the fundamental problems of their generation that ended up manifesting themselves in Flower Power, etc., than from reading the Port Huron statement or watching footage of Woodstock.

So my question to you is: Is there a similar drama (or Comedy-Drama, since laughter is often better at revealing truth) that you could point to that really gets to the heart of what Gen-X was all about and what its fundamental problems were, i.e., without the all the punk cynicism and world-weary sarcasm, since those are clearly the Defense Mechanism symptoms for a deeper fundamental problem. And as TLP[*] loves to tell us, the defense mechanism is the false explanation that’s easy to swallow in order to distract us from the real problems. (again, no surprise that whenever The Graduate comes up — except for that one instance with a superb teacher — it’s because someone is talking about the music or the famous actors or the goofball awkward comedic moments (Plastics!), but never, never, never the severe dysfunctions blatantly on display throughout the film)

Considering the same question myself as a backwards-looking early Millennial, I’d have to talk to my more movie-savvy friends. But off-hand I think there’s a case to be made for Igby Goes Down.

First, some disclaimers: I haven’t seen The Graduate, so I can’t comment one way or the other, but even if Martinian’s teacher was “wrong,” what you just saw was a great example of the art of instruction. It takes quite a bit of immersion in the sources to really get the sense of an era — insofar as it’s possible, and there’s no way in hell I’m getting into the philosophy of that — and one of the big problems in making the attempt is: getting distracted by the “great” stuff.

Since The Greatest Novel Ever Written has been under discussion here lately, let’s go with that as our example. I’m told by people who claim to have read the damn thing, and claim to understand it, that Ulysses is, simultaneously, both a Great Novel and a Great Irish Novel. I think that’s some kind of oxymoron, but let’s stipulate it’s true. Let’s further stipulate that we all force ourselves to read it, and that in doing so, we all smoke as many bowls as necessary to “get” it. Now: how much does Ulysses tell us about life in turn-of-the-century Dublin? Doesn’t the very fact that it’s Great Literature (again, arguendo) obscure a lot of the quotidian stuff? Or, to put it another way, wouldn’t you be a bit uneasy if I started claiming to be an expert on The Victorian Poor because I read Oliver Twist?

Given that: Whether or not The Graduate is a great film, the very fact that all the Boomers seem to think so, and the fact that everyone else at least loves the soundtrack, makes it nearly impossible to look at The Graduate as anything but “art.” To strip all that stuff out, to regard it merely as an historical artifact, is quite a trick. Hats off to Martinian’s teacher.

A further problem, as we’ve discussed below, is that the pop culture creators are quite often a generation behind the consumers. “Rock Around the Clock” was supposedly the anthem of youthful rock’n’roll rebellion, but as we’ve noted, it was written by two guys in late middle age — one of whom was born in the 19th century. That’s not to say those guys don’t “get it” — obviously they do, since the consumers all think this stuff “speaks to them” — but it does mean that there’s an additional filter to consider. Someone like Quentin Tarantino, say, was uber-popular in the 1990s, and my first thought for “most 90s movie ever” is that it must be a Tarantino flick, but… he was born in 1963. It’s silly to maintain that 1965 was the hard cutoff between “The Baby Boom” and “Gen X,” nothing works like that in real life, but it’s something to keep in mind.

The other problem with nominating a Tarantino flick is that, in his early days at least, Tarantino was actually trying to do something new, or at least newish. Since I probably can’t offend the Great Littra-chuh crowd any more than I already have, let’s bring our homie James Joyce back for an encore: Attempting to read Ulysses, I get what he’s trying to do; I’m just not sold on the idea that it needs to be done, let alone at such length. Same way with Tarantino flicks, especially Pulp Fiction. All my movie buff and arty-farty buddies loved it — “dude, it’s mind blowing!” — but though I could see that he was trying to play around with narrative structure within the tropes of old gangster flicks (how’s that for pretentious?), I’m just not sure it needed to be done. It had a few funny cracks, and both Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta owe Tarantino their entire careers, but in all I found Pulp Fiction a slog….

…but it was a new(ish) slog, an innovative(ish) slog, which alone disqualifies it for the title of Most 90s Movie. Martinian’s right that the punk cynicism and world-weary sarcasm of the 90s were defense mechanisms, and the underlying syndrome they were defending against was, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. I’m aware that sounds way too heavy for a generation that brought us “MMMMMbop” and “Mambo Number Five,” but I can’t think of anything better. As a card-carrying Gen Xer, you weren’t allowed to do anything new or innovative, or even newish or innovative-ish, because our not-so-secret crippling fear was that it had all been done. The Boomers may have thought that Bob Dylan was a poet and Andy Warhol an artist — or maybe vice-versa — but at least they were sincere about it…

….were still sincere about it, and that’s the problem with trying to do anything new: When the generation above you is still stuck in adolescence, still somehow living the sex-drugs-n-rock-n-roll lifestyle in their own minds even as they drove the Volvo down to the partners’ meeting at the law firm, what’s the point? Had the Boomers simply manned up and admitted it — “yeah, we’ve been having you on, Bob Dylan sucks” — we maybe could’ve done something with our lives…

…or maybe not, because for fuck’s sake, we were grownups. The way to be a true Grunge kid is to pretend that even though you’re seventeen, your soul (not that we’d say anything so lame as “soul”) is really 45 — and not just any 45, a Charles Bukowski-level 45. For those who don’t know, Bukowski (born 1920, how’s that for Grunge?) enjoyed a brief renaissance upon his death in 1994. His stories and poems seemed to embody all the bullets the Boomers, those lucky bastards, somehow dodged — they’re all about getting blind drunk and evicted and beaten up in dive bars. That’s what you Boomer bastards deserved with your “40 is the new 30” anticsbut somehow you never got it…

See what I mean? We were adults, for pete’s sake, and even when we weren’t, we were deeply invested in the idea that we, not they — the Boomers, our “parents” — were the real grownups in the room. But instead of actually manning up and acting like adults, we let ourselves be consumed with puerile jealousy and existential ennui, with its attendant sarcasm, irony, and, obviously, cringing pretentiousness. The only sane, rational, and proper response to the assertion that “40 is the new 30” is: “ok, dude, whatever,” followed by actually getting on with your own fucking life, leaving those fossils with their delusions.

We were just aces at the first part, but somehow never got around to the second. And that’s ALL on us.

All of which is undoubtedly way too long a walk for way too short a payoff, but here it is: Given all that, my candidate for “Most 90s movie ever” is Deadpool, which was actually made in 2016. It’s one of the angriest movies ever made, since if you strip away all the snark and self-conscious sarcasm — which starts immediately, as in, with the opening credits — all you see is rage and jealousy. Deadpool is the movie guys who weren’t cool enough to hang out with Joss Whedon (born 1964) or Tarantino would’ve made back in 1993, if they hadn’t been college sophomores at the time. Oh, you people think “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is all that, with its cute little Deconstruction-lite of classic horror tropes? See, she’s a cheerleader, but she fights vampires, how cutesy is that. Ya like that? Then chew on this! Fourth wall breaks! Masturbation references!! Snarky snark about the fourth wall breaks!!!

But above all, don’t take any of it seriously, because it’s all ironic. Oh, sure, we’ll take your money — you suckers!! — but if you actually like it, you’re an idiot, because it’s all just smoke and mirrors, just party tricks. And the hell of it is, we’re actually pointing the stupid tricks out to you as they happen, and you still arf like seals, you fucking dumbasses. I mean, we’ve even got a “joke” in which Ryan Reynolds, the actor playing Deadpool, jokes about how some actor named “Ryan Reynolds” only gets roles because he’s an airhead pretty boy who will read whatever’s on the page. How PoMo is that?!? Not even Quentin Tarantino would’ve been that obvious… which is the meta-joke, get it? And if you don’t think a deconstruction-of-a-deconstruction is brilliant, then fuck you, we’re just joking (Jon Stewart was born in 1962).

What do you think, Twenty Readers? I don’t particularly like that answer, but I can’t think of another. The floor is open.


UPDATE: I’m going to do at least one update inside the post itself, because the discussion is generating some good stuff that should go above the fold.

Prodigal Son‘s suggestion of The Big Lebowski is a pretty good one. The Coen Brothers (born in 1954 and ’57) could profitably be likened to the songwriting duo behind “Rock Around the Clock” — though of the previous generation, they “got it” enough to help set the zeitgeist of the next generation. I’m taking it as read that you can’t have a 90s anything that isn’t a “deconstruction” of some kind. “Grunge” is deconstructed arena rock (Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is famously a sludgy parody of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling”); novels like Generation X (which I could never stomach enough to finish) and Fight Club and Microserfs are deconstructions of either the traditional Bildungsroman (sludgy parodies of The Catcher in the Rye; the former) or whatever you call the “slice-of-life” office novel (sludgy parodies of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit; the latter two).

And since Deconstruction is “weapons-grade” European philosophy (in contrariandutchman’s wonderful phrase) that broke containment like a bat from a Wuhan lab sometime in the late 1950s, it’s no surprise that not-really-Xers like Douglas Coupland (born 1961, and a German-born Canadian to boot) and Chuck Pahlaniuk (born 1962) were so good at mainstreaming it. It’s also no surprise that both are gay — Deconstruction, like Grunge, is deeply appealing to outsiders, and back in those days gays were still pretty far out there. Thus The Big Lebowski — a sludgy, stoner parody of Chinatown — is a strong candidate for “most 90s movie”). It also takes some very angry shots at Boomer pretensions: “Some say my work is strongly vaginal. Does the word bother you, Mr. Lebowski? Vagina;” and of course The Dude’s assertion that he was one of the authors of the Port Huron statement — the real one, not the watered-down second draft.

What say y’all? I’d also add that on those criteria — sludgy, angry parodies of Boomer stuff — the novel American Psycho has to be in there if we’re expanding the discussion to “most 90s artifact” in general. Same deal — Bret Easton Ellis is a gay guy born in 1964. The movies made out of his novels don’t really work in our discussion of 90s stuff (Less Than Zero; American Psycho; and especially The Rules of Attraction), and the books themselves are real slogs, too, but you could do worse, I guess. The movie version of American Psycho is either really pointless and boring, or hilarious, depending on how black your sense of humor is — mine’s like the ace of spades, so I loved it — but it’s not a 90s movie; it’s a Millennial movie through and through, though writer/director Mary Harron was born in 1953.

Pickle Rick has several good suggestions, including Singles (1992). If I had to pick the 90s movie that most influenced me, personally, I’d probably go with that one, as I was sure that upon graduation from college I’d move to Seattle and get some kind of deeply meaningful job like that one guy had (who I was certain until just now was played by Paul Rudd), get involved with (and eventually dumped by) Kyra Sedgwick, and hang out with Matt Dillon, except, you know, not a loser. But since thinking about Singles only reminds me of Reality Bites (1994), which, in an uber-90s meta move, is a near-contemporary sludgy parody of Singles, let’s move on.

[I’ll leave it to y’all to discuss the merits of Reality Bites as a slice-of-90s-life. I got dragged to it by my college girlfriend, and y’all, it was painful. For one, it’s a bad movie — one of the least funny “comedies” you’ll ever see. For two, Ethan Hawke really nailed his character; that pseudo-badboy douchebag was everywhere in the 90s; that part is spot on, and imagine really living with that guy. For three, my girlfriend truly believed she was the Wynona Ryder character, but she was really the Janeane Garofalo character, and though Garofalo wasn’t as insufferable about politics back then, she was twice as insufferable about everything else. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that we broke up not long after this date.

For the record, by 1994 I was rapidly resigning myself to becoming Ben Stiller’s character, for which crime against humanity I want to invent a time machine, just so I can go back and kick my own ass].

Anyway, Singles: I’d have to re-watch it with my most jaundiced eye, because it’s The Graduate of the Grunge years, in the sense in which every Boomer but Martinian’s teacher still seems to regard The Graduate — that is, as the movie just incidentally attached to an era-defining soundtrack. If you want to hear the very best Grunge music can do within the form’s very obvious limitations — and if you really want to understand what those limitations are — then the Singles soundtrack is required listening. Pearl Jam comes in for a lot of hate around here (from me, anyway), but “State of Love and Trust” is the “Mrs. Robinson” of the Grunge years, for both good and ill. I love it, but I can’t hardly stand to listen to it — along with “Nearly Lost You,” from Grunge also-rans Screaming Trees, “State of Love and Trust” is pretty much everything I felt for every girl I ever dated, or even fantasized about dating, in the 1990s.

I know, I know, I should seek therapy.

Re: Pickle Rick’s riff on war movies, that’s another whole huge discussion we should probably have someday. Deconstruction, and PoMo in general, aren’t all wrong; goofy Frogs like Baudrillard actually had a lot of useful concepts. He’s dead on, for instance, that “media” mediates our experience in a way it didn’t — couldn’t — for earlier generations. Most near-contemporary writing about WW2, for instance, doesn’t mention war movies, because war movies were all but invented during the war itself (with the admittedly huge and important exception of All Quiet on the Western Front). American soldiers watched a lot of movies during the war, but they weren’t watching movies about the war they were currently fighting.

Come Vietnam, and the phrase “this is exactly like a war movie” shows up in just about every description of a writer’s arrival in-country, and “this is nothing like a war movie” invariably shows up in his description of seeing the elephant. Soldiers shipping off to Vietnam, in other words, had an entire cultural frame of reference that filtered their experience. But even they weren’t watching war movies about the war they were in. That was left to later generations (one might usefully analyze the 1999 film Three Kings, about the 1991 Gulf War, in our earlier context); the guys currently overseas are so media-saturated that I’m told their favorite pastime is playing Call of Duty. I can’t even fathom coming off a patrol — especially one in which you took fire — and “unwinding” by playing an immersive wargame, but they apparently do it all the time.

Understand that, and you’ll really get something important about the younger generation.

[Oh, and a final note on Singles: Xavier McDaniel’s cameo is the finest acting performance by an athlete in the history of cinema. I’m willing to discuss, modify, or even abandon my most deeply held convictions in the face of enough evidence, but I will brook absolutely no dissent about this. “Oh, and Steve…. don’t come yet.”]

 

 


*The Last Psychiatrist, which would be required reading if I were still in the syllabus-making biz.

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Friday Mailbag / Grab Bag

It’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, etc. I’m trying to make this a weekly thing — so far it seems to be working out ok — so if you’ve got questions, comments, concerns, etc., email me (rcseverian@protonmail.com). If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them….maybe you can be in: The Mailbag.

First, a riff, courtesy of a reader’s comment (n.b. please include some kind of screen name with your questions and comments; obviously I’m not going to use anyone’s real name in a post, and even though there are only twenty of you, “a reader” is a bit… generic). Anyway:

I am a solid GenXer… and have completely come around to your way of thinking that the 90’s set us up for the hellscape that we’re currently inhabiting…I also vote PCU as the most prescient movie of the past 50 years.

See what I mean, Boomers? Yeah, I’m hard on y’all, but I’m worse on my own generation. Like the earliest socialists, the Boomers at least had the excuse that what they were trying had never been done before. It was a reaction to all-new conditions. We, on the other hand, knew better. We were consciously trying to be not-you. We had the entire catalog of your screwups to work with. Yet given those immense advantages, all we could think of to do was grow our hair long, wear six layers of baggy flannel, sue Ticketmaster, and take our cues from wussy guys in stupid hats who played in a band named after spooge. You people thought Bob Dylan was a poet and Andy Warhol an artist, or maybe vice versa, but the pure spirit of Gen X rebellion is captured by this bold, incisive lyric:

Compared to that, “Rocky Raccoon” really IS poetry, may God have mercy on all our souls. Or, you know, like, whatever.

[In re: “PCU,” a little-watched comedy starring Jeremy Piven as the world’s oldest college student — seriously, if you thought an obviously-nearing-thirty John Belushi as Bluto was pushing it, do not watch “PCU” — I must say, the writers must’ve consulted Nostradamus. I’m actually scared to back and re-watch it, for the same reason I feel like a goose has walked over my grave every time I see “Idiocracy” in my DVD collection. It’s not supposed to be a documentary, damn it! And as over-the-top as “PCU” seemed in 1994, it’s probably cinema verite now… if you go to an ultra-religious school way out in corn country. That girl was hot though].


From urbando:

You mentioned in today’s mailbag post that you listen to your classical library on your commute. What composers/performers, genres do you like?

Ahh, the ol’ trick question. You don’t know it’s a trick question, of course, but I always try to duck these, because, well, errr…ummm… ok, shameful confession time: I have the most pedestrian possible taste in music. Art, too, for that matter. For a liberal arts guy, I’m an incorrigible…. not philistine, exactly, because while I appreciate fine art, I really don’t get it.

To use an example we’ve mentioned before, I can see what James Joyce was trying to do with Ulysses (a book I’ve never finished, and refuse to believe anyone has actually finished who wasn’t paid to). I can see it, but what I can’t see is a) why it really needed to be done at all, and b) why it had to be at such mind-numbing length. Faulkner pulled the same crap in The Sound and the Fury, so if you feel you must get a novel-length slap of stream-of-consciousness upside your head, go with that.

Given all that, I like what everybody likes, classical music-wise: Mozart, Beethoven, that kind of thing. I’m not a huge fan of solo piano pieces, if only because so many of them seem to be technical exercises for the composers — I’m sure Chopin is every bit as challenging to play as I’ve heard, and I certainly admire someone who has the talent and discipline to do it, but I don’t want to hear a guy working himself into a lather on my morning commute. Give me a nice chamber piece, thanks.

The other thing I like listening to — and you’re going to scoff at this, but it’s true — is a lot of that new-agey, “world music” type stuff. You know, the kind of thing they play in the background while you’re getting a massage (an actual therapeutic one, which I highly recommend, and not, you know, the kind where your “masseuse” is Eric Swalwell’s girlfriend, if you know what I’m saying). On the more artistic side of this, I enjoy English Renaissance motets — or did, before that stupid movie ruined them* — and on the more “popular” side (if any of this stuff could be said to be popular), the kind of thing I suppose we must call “shoegaze” or “trance music” or whatever the term d’art is these days. I got hooked on this stuff back in grad school, when I was banging out my dissertation — it has a recognizable beat, which keeps me working, but it doesn’t crescendo like classical pieces do (those are distracting).

There; how’s that for a ludicrous over-explanation? You get what you pay for, homies.


From another reader:

I’m curious for your take on why they want us to stop eating red meat. I can usually come up with a reason for what they do, even if it’s kooky and worthy of Festinger (I love the names you give these people), but with red meat I can’t come up with a reason beyond simply wanting to control us and humiliate us into eating bugs. And I know  people like them get off on being able to do things the plebes are forbidden from doing, the more they forbid us to do, the more they get jollies being able to do it. I realize it can be as simple as that, but I’m curious what your thoughts are on it.

Quick programming note: While I’m sure my correspondent is referring to my tendency to tag groups with names like “the Festinger set” — you know, like the ones who are convinced that Trump is really still the double-secret president, and will be returning to the White House any day now, like some low-rent sleeping Barbarossa — When Prophecy Fails is absolutely a real book, and if I were still in the syllabus-making biz, would be required reading around these parts. Anyway, on to the question:

When it comes to Leftie, it’s really hard to sort out what’s intentional from what’s merely wrong, or outdated, or stupid, or some combination of the above. So while there really does seem to be some kind of coordinated push to get us to eat grass and bugs, the red meat thing is, I think, just old misinformation that Leftie can’t admit has been overtaken by events (because, of course, Leftists can never be wrong about anything). And I’ll even kinda sorta give them a pass on that, because I know a lot of medical people who learned the “red meat is bad for you” mantra back in the days and still haven’t gotten over it…

For younger readers, back in the late 70s the nutritional Powers That Be got in bed with the corn lobby. It sounds funny, but they were and are huge, the corn lobby — why do you think we’re still getting barraged with shit about ethanol, even though it’s actually much worse for the environment than plain ol’ dinosaur juice, when you factor in all the “greenhouse emissions” from growing and harvesting it? Anyway, ethanol wasn’t a thing back then… but corn syrup was, and so suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, the PTB decided that fat was bad and carbohydrates were good.

Teh Science (TM) for this was as bogus and politicized as all the other Teh Science (TM) these days, but since we still had a high degree of social and institutional trust back then — living in a country that’s still 85% White will do that — nobody questioned it, and so suddenly everything had to be “fat free,” lest you get high blood pressure and colon cancer and every other damn thing (ever notice how, with Teh Science (TM), everything they decide is bad suddenly correlates with everything that has ever been bad? Funny, that). But since fat is what makes food taste good, they had to find a tasty substitute… and whaddya know, huge vats full of corn syrup just kinda happened to be there. Obesity rates immediately skyrocketed; who’d have thunk it?…

…but again, this isn’t a deliberate thing with your average Leftie. You know how they are about Teh Science (TM), even Teh Science (TM) produced by people who thought polyester bellbottoms were a great look, which alone should tell you everything you need to know. They just learned “red meat is bad,” and so, being the helpful sorts they are, decided to boss you around about it. You know, for your own good.


A late entry, from Skedtastic Racket (I think I spelled that right; sorry if not):

Do you have any examples of BCG’s recuperating?

Sadly, very few. Part of this is just in the nature of the biz — I don’t see too many former students out and about, since they all leave College Town for the big wide world — but I do know this: Scratch a Karen, find a BCG. In fact, you could go so far to say that “Karen” simply IS the BCG after she hits The Wall. The faster the impact, the bigger the Karen (this is a testable hypothesis — given that our gal Taylor Swift is currently impacting The Wall at about Mach 3, if I’m right, she’ll soon unleash the kraken of Karens on an unsuspecting world).

I also strongly suspect that BCGs can’t recover. As any shrink will tell you, Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders are almost impossible to treat. For one thing, treatment requires believing that you have a problem, and believing you don’t have a problem is pretty much diagnostic of those two syndromes. And while I’m not sure the BCG is clinically diagnosable with either of those, what they actually are is close enough that I’m betting whatever therapies “work” on actual clinical cases would “work” on them… but see above.

Finally, I guess I can’t really blame the BCG for not realizing she’s got a problem, because she obviously doesn’t have a problem. Look around — society rewards this shit. AOC, for example, is going to be La Presidenta por Vida de los Estados Unidos here in a decade or so; if that’s a problem, I can’t really blame them for not fixing it. Eventually, of course, reality will intrude, and your BCG will be screaming for a real man to come save her… but, thanks to her BCG antics, there won’t be any real men around. Or, you know, we’ll all be in the OPFOR,** so good luck with that, beeyatch.


That’s all for this week, gang. Keep your heads up and your powder dry.

 


*A few years back, I started seeing Thomas Tallis’s Spem in Alium popping up everywhere on the streaming services. Which is cool, it’s a pretty piece, but I naturally I assumed that there was some reason for this other than a newfound appreciation for the Northern Renaissance among the soccer mom types who listen to Spotify. So I did a little digging, and… yep, it appears in the Karen-porn movie Fifty Shades of Gray. And look, y’all, I’m not going to snob out about this. When it comes right down to it, I’m glad that White people are being exposed to anything other than Young Deezy and Big Queasy and MC Funetik Spelyn. Tallis ain’t negro shit, and that’s really all that matters when you come right down to it, no matter how they hear it… but on the other hand, holy tap-dancing Allah, Spem in Alium is literally holy music…. and now it’s a porn soundtrack. Bow chicka wow wow.

**I’ll admit it; I love military slang, especially when you can use it to mock all the keyboard commandos in Our Thing.

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The Whole is Greater…

…than the sum of its parts, as I think Dr. Dre once said. Opening essays with quotes (“epigraphs,” they’re called, who says you don’t learn nothing in grad school?) has long ago fallen out of favor, but they still must be teaching high school kids to use what I call “the mind blower introduction.” I’d routinely get papers starting with some variation of “throughout history, humanity has quested for meaning.” Which is true enough, I guess, but it’s a little bit heavy for a paper about the Factory Act or the Punic Wars. The better thing to do, I’d tell them, is to start small and work out. Use a personal example if you must. Like so:

When I was growing up among the grinders, in the New New South, I sometimes came across another kind of grinder: the WWJD kid. It follows, I suppose, that the election of an obvious reprobate like Bill Clinton would kick the moral crusaders into high gear. It’s also not surprising, I guess, that Evangelical Christianity briefly had a “rebellious” edge to it — after all, when the people in charge are somehow still carrying on like it’s 1968 and they’re Sticking It to The Man (TM) by buying Volvos and making partner at the law firm, ostentatiously embracing the one goofy alternative spirituality they weren’t into seemed daring. It’s also no surprise, then, that “straight edge,” which I’m told by people who care about these things was pretty much always a part of the punk scene, finally escaped into mainstream consciousness. Again, when your Boomer parents just will NOT shut up about how rebellious they still are for smoking pot and sleeping around, staying off drugs and making a virtue out of your lack of action seems rebellious…

The point is, the reaction of the Princeton-at-all-costs grinders to the WWJD? grinders was instructive. They — the kids who would cheerfully murder their best friend’s dog if it would get them an extra hundredth of a grade point — scoffed at the Jesus-jumpers. And not just because you couldn’t get a letter of reference from “God” on your early-decision app. Rather, they — the kids who wouldn’t play Nintendo for fear it’d bruise their piano playing thumbs — thought the WWJD kids were robots.

I’ll pause for a moment, to let that sink in.

There it was, all the way back in 1991, the granddaddy of all the false choices that have so comprehensively screwed us. As I’ve written, even though they were grinders, and knew themselves to be grinders, they — the grinders — also tried hard to be real Americans. When he was first starting out, Ace of Spades used to bash “comedian” Margaret Cho a lot. Some of those bits are still pretty funny, I guess, but a large part of the humor comes from the fact that that a LOT of Cho’s act relied on the oldest, crudest kind of Asian stereotypes — “ah so, you eat flied lice”-level stuff. Cho would bash her mother for being a “tiger mom” (again, an anachronism for clarity), and that was supposed to be funny… or, at least, it was supposed to be ok to laugh, because of course Cho herself was East Asian.

I never found it funny, not least because I’d heard it all for real growing up. No one is more viciously “racist” towards the Chinese than first-generation immigrants’ kids (called “bananas,” a term they often self-loathingly applied to themselves). Cho might or might not have meant it — it’s hard to comprehend now just how bad she was at “comedy” back then — but the grinders I grew up with sure the hell did. Ditto dot-not-feathers Indians (who called themselves ABCDs, American-Born Confused Desis*). Hey, the Klan just called; they think you’re going a little overboard on the hateful stereotypes, would you please tone it down a bit?

The point, if you’ve stuck with me this far, is the grinders’ definition of “individuality.” Even though every minute of every day was planned out for them years in advance, and even though every single member of their peer group made the exact same consumer choices — wore the same clothes, listened to the same music, liked the same movies — they thought the WWJD kids were robots, because hey, at least the bananas and ABCDs had a choice in the matter. They could, you know, theoretically listen to metal or gangsta rap or whatever (though they of course never actually would), whereas the WWJD kids were pretty much required, as they saw it, to listen to nothing but Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.** So too with reading, video games, and all the rest — even though the grades-uber-alles grinders would never actually read the late-80s equivalent of Harry Potter (I forget what it was), the WWJD kids couldn’t, because their youth pastors told them it was Satanic. And so on.

In other words, “individuality” was reduced not just to “consumer choice,” but to the mere possibility of consumer choice. I could probably reconstruct from memory the bedroom of an early-90s Asian grinder and have it be accurate, pretty much to the last detail, for any given one of them. But somehow they were individuals, because even though the probability of finding the collected works of U2 and the Pet Shop Boys in their tape collections was the same as the probability of finding the collected works of Amy Grant in the WWJD kids’ collection — 100% in both cases — at least the Asian grinders weren’t taking orders about their music collections from the youth minister. No, their total and utter conformity was spontaneous, organic, which meant that even though every single member of the herd of independent minds was exactly the same in every way, they were real, true blue Americans, because they were “free” to buy different stuff.

 


*pronounced to rhyme with “messy.”

** the twin titans of “Christian rock,” which back then was every bit as wussy and twee as you think it was. Hootie and the Blowfish rocked way harder than those two, but… there it was.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

find out what it means to me… much like “Turning Japanese” from a few posts back, what I’m really talking about is D-I-G-N-I-T-Y, but that doesn’t go nearly as well with the Motown Sound, so the title stands. Anyway, if I could come up with one theme running through the comments on the last few posts, it’s dignity. We, as a society, have seemingly decided that it no longer exists.

I’ve got a lot of gripes with the grinders, obviously, but their constant cheating isn’t even the biggest one. It’s awful and society-destroying, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the way they carry on like palace eunuchs that really rips the soul out of a society. As Codex notes, the whole idea behind the grind is, quite simply, to commodify kids.

In the comments, I told the story of a guy I knew who was subjected to the full rigors of The Grind (might as well capitalize it from now on, as I feel it gets at the flavor of the phenomenon better than “tiger parenting”). He went to the best brand name school he could get into (Princeton), and from there, the best med school he could get into (I forget which, not Hopkins or Harvard but close), with the intention of pursuing the most prestigious, and therefore highest-paying, specialty on offer (at the time, neurosurgery). But as it turns out, he had some kind of medical condition which made it physically impossible for him to put in the hours. So he changed his future specialty to the next-“best” (cardiology), and when the same issue popped up, he downgraded again, to general practice…

…and when the issue popped up again, he tried optometry school, then dental school, all because it was simply impossible that this kid wouldn’t become some kind of doctor; his parents would light themselves on fire on the front lawn if he didn’t. So when the issue popped up again, first he had a nervous breakdown, and then he killed himself.

A dignity injection literally would’ve saved this kid’s life. All that was necessary to avoid the loss of a bright and promising young life would be for someone to sit him and his parents down, and explain to them that O-chem is to the STEM crowd what the curveball is to baseball players — it weeds out most of us. It is perfectly possible to lead a full, fulfilling, socially useful, and, indeed, highly-compensated life without “MD” after your name. The kind of kid who can do MCAT math can no doubt do just fine at “accountant math.” Similar money, and a lot better hours, but for some reason we, as a society, have decided that the letters “MD” outrank the letters “CPA,” such that even with all else equal, it’s somehow worth killing yourself to get the former.

On a related note, here’s Martinian on AOC:

A major part of the problem is that we’re even bothering to comment on her looks: good, bad, or indifferent. No matter the content of what you say, it’s attention which can be leveraged to the BCG’s advantage among the only people whose opinions matter—her fawning constituency.

It’s the same damn playbook as the CRT crap—there’s no “rational” argument over it. To engage with it is to lose, automatically. We fall into this trap all the time bc for us, validation is dependent upon (not even necessarily rational) efficacy, whereas for them validation goes hand in hand with attention (cf. social media).

Boom. It’s a category error. The Z Man has said and written a lot about “bourgeois objectivity.” It’s a phrase I hate, because it’s explicitly Leninist and thus gives me ivy-covered flashbacks, but he’s dead-bang on. The “bourgeois objectivist” is still stuck in a world that is basically rational. The CivNat, the cuck, and everyone in between still thinks “DR3*” works, for example, because they still believe that facts, evidence, reason, and consistency have any meaning to Leftie. But they don’t. The only thing that matters to the Left is power, raw power. The point of torture is torture, as O’Brien said… because fuck you, that’s why, as Mob guys say.

You saw this all the time with COVID. Karen obviously didn’t give a crap about the actual science, but she loved Teh Science (TM), by which she meant “I get to boss you around.” Even though I knew better, I still tried arguing with Karen back in the early days. And then it dawned on me: Not only is arguing with her not changing her mind, she’s actually, almost literally, getting off on it. She hadn’t had this much attention in years!!

So then I changed tactics. Even the most draconian jurisdictions had mask exemptions for certain kinds of disability, so I became “disabled.” When Karen started shouting at me, I simply replied, calmly and quietly: “I have a disability; I’m exempt.” That worked 95% of the time. But for the hardcore Karens, I had to break out the big guns. Some of them were bitchy enough to actually ask me “what disability?”, and that’s when it was time to take sweet, sweet revenge.

See, as Martinian notes, the coin of the realm with Karen is attention. She wants fawning adulation, of course, but she’ll happily take negative attention, because as I’ve written many times re: The BCG, having “h8rz” on social media just confirms how awesome and fascinating you are. The only kind of attention Karen can’t stand is the kind that cuts her off from the group. “Disability” is the perfect way to flip that on her. For your information, I have PTSD. I watched my buddies die in my arms at Chung King and Chow Mein and Al-Kahaliq and Fuckaduckabad. How dare you dishonor my sacrifice, Karen? How dare you?!?**

It’s grossly undignified on both sides, but all’s fair in civil war.

Speaking of COVID, that’s the real reason I was against masks and all that other stuff: It’s undignified. I’m not going to bullshit you (any more, in this essay) — I’m scared of dying. I think everyone is. I’m no Audie Murphy. And maybe if you had a gun to my head I’d act differently, but the point is, even if the Kung Flu were twice as bad as it has turned out to be, that’s no reason to live like a cockroach. I took the normal precautions I always take every flu season. You know, washing my hands and whatnot. But that’s it. If I catch it, I catch it, and if I die, I die. You don’t have to hear that in the macho Ivan Drago voice, but it’s true. I’ve had my time in the sun. I hope to have many, many, many more good years, but if the sniffles are going to get me, then they’re going to get me.

“But what about other people?!?” I hear Karen screaming. Same deal — normal flu season precautions. If I’ve been around a bunch of sick people, I’ll think twice about going to see granny in the nursing home… and if I myself am sick, there’s this newfangled wonder-device called “the telephone.” Again, I’m not going to live like a palace eunuch over this. I’m an adult, you’re an adult, granny’s an adult — we paid our money, we got the ticket, now we take our chances. If I’m going to be reorienting my life to improve your potential health outcomes, then sure, I’ll wear the fucking mask… if and only if I also get to slap the triple-whipped venti caramel frappucino right out of your hands, Karen, and brain your dipshit latchkey kids with their Xbox controllers.

Dignity, see? You’re an adult citizen of a free republic. More importantly, you’re White. You’re heir to the best civilization that ever was, and the whole world owes us thanks for the very concept of “public health.” Start acting like it.

D-I-G-N-I-T-Y. Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.

 


*For those who don’t speak internet, “DR3” is “Democrats R tha Real Racists.”

**Yeah, I know, “stolen valor” and all that. I hope you’ll forgive me. But since I’m already on record saying I think the wrong side “won” in Durka Durka Stan, what’s one more?***

***If it helps, I’m also on record saying y’all are free to punch me right in my stupid fucking face for supporting that nonsense back in the early Shrub years. It won’t get your wasted years back, but you might temporarily feel a little bit better.

 

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The Grinder Mindset [expanded]

Continuing with our theme, it’s easy to see that all the most hellish trends of The Current Year really got rolling with us, Gen X, aka The Dumbest Generation of Narcissists in the History of the World. If you want to really enter the headspace of the Basic College Girl, for instance — and please recall that the BCG can be of either sex and any of the whatever-number-they’re-up-to-now genders — you have to look at the mindset of what my subset of Gen X called “grinders.”

Much like the other kind of grinder — which is what they call a hoagie, a hero, or a submarine sandwich, depending on the locality — different groups had different names for the same phenomenon, but whatever you call it, y’all know what I’m talking about. Still, since Confucius say terminological confusion is the root of all evil, let’s be clear what we’re not talking about. A “grinder” isn’t merely a guy who studies hard. I knew a dude in college, for instance, who had such phenomenal self-discipline that he’d walk off the basketball court practically in the middle of a game. It’s 7:30, so it’s study time; if we’re still playing at 10, he’ll join back in.

Looking back on it, homeboy was more than a little “on the spectrum,” as the kids say nowadays, but he wasn’t a grinder. Nor do long hours, in themselves, make a grinder — med students, for instance, work in the neighborhood of 60-75 hours a week, but though there are lots of grinders in medical school, not all med students are grinders. Long hours in the lab just go with the territory.

Indeed, actually working hard is almost an exclusion criterion for grinder-ness. Grinders ostentatiously spend many, many hours hitting the books, but it’s almost literally hitting the books. They “work” the Latin way — lots of activity, almost no accomplishment. Put a big honking stack of the largest, mustiest tomes you can find in front of you in your study carrel. Pick one up, flip through it, take one note, then rotate it to the bottom of the stack. Do this for hours on end, always making sure that your stack is flush with the wall, so that everyone in the room can see how many books you have, and how diligently you’re “taking notes.” That’s a grinder.

And cheat your ass off, it goes without saying. In my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and “the Internet” was a way for Defense Department nerds to exchange missile schematics with one another, the preferred method was with a graphing calculator. Your dishwasher has more hard disk space than those things, but the mere presence of memory capacity made it ideal for cheating, providing you could come up with some elaborate shorthand to cram all the material in… and providing, of course, you could use it. My friends, you have never seen true comedy until you’ve seen some sweaty Chinese kid begging the teacher to be allowed to use his graphing calculator in Engrish class. Quick, what’s the cosine of MacBeth?

And speaking of begging, that’s the final diagnostic criterion. Have you polished so many apples, your fingers are permanently stained red? Are you so far up the guidance counselor’s ass that you’re banging your skull on her uvula? Have you kissed so butt, you’ve got a mouth like a lamprey? Would you cheerfully murder your best friend’s dog if it would get you an extra 0.02 on your GPA? Then you, my friend, are a grinder.

Everyone with me? Now apply that same mindset to all areas of life. Let’s take a gander at the original “tiger mom” list:

Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

Yeah, that pretty much covers it. Again, Marv Marinovich did basically the same thing to his kid in order to make him “the perfect quarterback,” and got accused of child abuse, but since this is “diversity” doing it to get her kids into Harvard, it’s somehow ok. But please note that the original “tiger mom” article was published back in 2011, when her kids were just going off to college. Which means they, the kids, were born in the early 1990s; the kids I grew up with were having this done to them in the early 1980s. By the time Mx. Chua was first birthing her little self-propelled status symbols, the guys I grew up with had fully internalized this mentality…

…so much so, in fact, that they far outdid their parents. By the time my first-gen Asian buddies made it to high school, they were so deep into this stuff that the residual jealousy they’d had for me when we were kids (“he’s allowed to be on the baseball team!”) had curdled into withering contempt: What kind of baboon wastes his time with the baseball team? If I’d been a good enough player to get a full ride to Harvard, they would’ve admired me a bit for gaming the system — that’s how they saw athletic scholarships, as just a specialized form of cheating — but since I wasn’t, I was a moron for sticking with it. The fact that my parents not only didn’t care about that, but actually encouraged me to play, was utterly baffling to them. How on earth was I going to get admitted early decision to Berkeley, if I insisted on throwing a stupid ball around in my so-called “free time”?

They’d reduced all of life’s variables to one simple, brutal equation: For any value of “it,” does it pad your college app, or help you get a better score on the standardized test? No? Then it’s worthless, and anyone who does it is an idiot.

And thanks to the transitive property of equality, the equation runs the other way, too: For any value of “it,” if it does pad your college app or help you ace the standardized test, then anything — anything at all — is justified to get it, and anyone who doesn’t do anything and everything in his power to get it is an idiot.

This, my friends, is the functionally-sociopathic world of the BCG. And these people are now our rulers.


EXPANDED: I forgot that the Last Psychiatrist has written on this. Of course he has, much better than I can.

I’ll explain what’s wrong with her thinking by asking you one simple question, and when I ask it you will know the answer immediately.  Then, if you are a parent, in the very next instant  your mind will rebel against this answer, it will defend itself against it– “well, no, it’s not so simple–” but I want to you to ignore this counterattack and focus on how readily, reflexively, instinctively you knew the answer to my question.  Are you ready to test your soul?  Here’s the question: what is the point of all this?  Making the kids play violin, of being an A student, all the discipline, all of this?  Why is she working her kids so hard?  You know the answer: college.

She is raising future college students.

YES. THIS. One reason my students hated me so much, I suspect, is that by the end of my career, I was pretty much telling them to their faces that they were wasting everyone’s time.

“Why are you in this class?” I’d ask.

“Because it’s required,” was the inevitable reply.

“Required for what?”

“To get a degree.”

“And what’s the degree for?”

“To get a job.”

“And what job would that be?” I’d ask… and invariably, every fucking time, nearly 100% of the students had no answer.

“Let me get this straight,” I’d continue. “You’re spending $10 to $70K per year to be here, and you don’t know why? My house costs less than what some of you are paying for college, and you have no idea why you’re here.”

TLP:

I certainly am not saying forcing them to learn piano is bad, or bad for the kid, or that despite the disease that has infected you it won’t benefit the child– I’m not saying Chua isn’t right in her techniques.  I am saying that what Chua is advocating is ultimately pointless because it is for a meaningless endeavor.  The piano isn’t for itself, it’s for the “right” college, and for 99% of America the precise college you went to is as irrelevant as the beer you used to lose your virginity.  Was it Bud Light or Stella Artois?  Same bank account.

Exactly. I can think of exactly one situation where the name brand of your college degree really matters: If you’re going on to grad / professional school and your exam scores aren’t quite up to snuff. That 500 (or whatever) on the MCAT probably isn’t good enough to get you into the med school of your choice if your undergrad degree is from Directional Tech, but it might do the trick if your diploma says “Harvard” on it. And yes, I know, it shouldn’t — that’s the whole fucking point of the stupid goddamn standardized test system in the first place — but there it is.

So unless you’re planning on falling just short on some grad school entrance exam four to seven years in the future, the name on your undergrad diploma is pretty much worthless.

Which is why I never understood the grind, though I was very strongly encouraged to go to college, any college, by my parents. Their reasoning was simple: A college degree back then was, or at least seemed to be, a free pass to the middle class. I watched my Dad slave his ass off to get us to the kind of lower middle class life where college was a possibility for me. He thought that by going to college, I could skip all that and go straight to the white collar desk job.

But I since I didn’t actually know what kind of white-collar job I wanted, I just couldn’t see the point of blowing all the money they’d slaved for on a brand name diploma. I could see how going to Princeton could help me get into a better med school, but I knew there was no way in hell I was going to med school. Or law school, or dental school, or whatever. Nor, being the first of my very large extended family to go to college, did I understand just how Tulane, say, was supposed to be “better” than Louisiana Tech. (Still don’t, to be honest, even after decades in the ivory tower, but that’s neither here nor there). Given all that, what was the point of carrying on like a palace eunuch in order to glom a few extra hundredths of a grade point?

But it made sense to the grinders, so they did carry on like palace eunuchs… and having put themselves through that, they expect compensation. Which is why our ruling class is so comprehensively fucked up.

 

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