All You Really Need to Know…

…about modern “males” (the word “man” shall never apply to creatures like this).  From the last remaining readable part of Ace of Spades’ blog, the overnight open thread:

The Turner prize-winning artist has turned his sights on the survivalist [Bear Grylls] and his exceptionally rugged version of masculinity, arguing that it isn’t fit for the 21st century. “He celebrates a masculinity that is useless,” [Grayson ] Perry said. Perry said that the masculine ideal presented by shows such as The Island, in which Grylls is currently putting a third group of hapless contestants through survivalist hell, is making it harder for men to successfully negotiate modern life. “Men might be good at taking the risk of stabbing someone or driving a car very fast, but when it comes to opening up, men are useless,” Perry told the Radio Times in an interview to promote his new series, All Man.

The poster notes that

Grayson Perry’s interests include pottery, writing, opening up emotionally along with the occasional transvestism.

perrygryllsmugshot1

And there you have it.  The guy on the left won the Turner Prize, which has been awarded to such towering cultural figures as Martin Creed, whose prizewinning “art” was a room where the lights go on and off at random, and, well, Grayson Perry.  I’ll  let the BBC handle this one:

Pottery artist Grayson Perry, who creates vases depicting subjects like death and child abuse, has won this year’s Turner Prize.

Perry accepted the award in a dress, as his female alter-ego Claire, thanked his wife and said he was “stunned”.

A popular choice among the public, he beat off competition from the favourites, the Chapman brothers.

[And good on the Beeb for using the phrase “beat off” in any context featuring modern art].

Bear Grylls, meanwhile, was in the SAS, an outfit that even other special forces consider pretty badass (and only left because he broke his back in a parachute accident).  Just for giggles, here’s what you have to do to be selected for the SAS.  I particularly like this bit:

The endurance phase culminates with ‘the long drag’, a 40 mile trek carrying a 55lb bergen, that must be completed in under 24 hours.

And that’s just phase one, followed by “jungle training” and “escape and evasion.”  All of which gets you provisionally admitted; lots of folks still fail out after that.  Now, I’m no Turner Prize winner, but the mere thought of any of that stuff exhausts me.  And that’s all before you get into all the “infiltrating enemy territory” and “killing elite enemy soldiers” stuff that commandos do.

Now I’m not saying that a “real man” has to be Bear Grylls (compared to the SAS, 99% of the world’s males are total pussies).  But the bar is certainly higher that “dressing up like a woman to receive awards for one’s pottery.”

Stupid Postmodernist Tricks, Revisited

Via the emails, I realize I should clarify the point of my post on stupid postmodernist tricks.  I linked to the guy’s paper because I like his catchy names for their rhetorical tricks, and his plain-text examples.  I don’t completely follow all his PhD truth-table stuff, either.

But that’s the point: There’s no need to.  Now, before you get on my case about anti-intellectualism or whatever, let me cite Aristotle:

It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

Which is, in fact, exactly the main Stupid Postmodernist Trick I wanted to point out.

An example will help.  We all know that Our Betters, the Liberals, act as if mere words have the power to change reality.  Now, if you ask them point blank “do you believe that changing something’s name changes its essence?” they’ll reply “of course not!  Don’t be silly!”  But if you get them talking about, say, “frames,” they’re right back to acting as if changing the words actually changes reality.  What gives?

It all comes down to a devilish little two-word phrase: “Social construction.”

If you’ve been near a college in the last two decades or so, you’ve undoubtedly heard it.  It sounds innocuous enough.  More importantly, it sounds true.  These days we wear pants, not togas, but there’s no real reason for that.  Sure, back in the days trousers made riding horses easier (and Romans switched out of their togas when serving in the cavalry), but who rides horses these days?  The only reason we prefer pants to togas, then, is convention.  Pants-wearing is a social construction.

And when you come right down to it, most human behavior is that way.  Take language.  We call that cute furry little mammal a “rabbit,” but in French he’s un lapin.  In German he’s ein Hase (hence Yosemite Sam’s perpetually unsatisfied craving for Hasenpfeffer), and in Swahili he’s sungura.  Which word you use depends entirely on which community of language-users you’re communicating with.  “Rabbit” or “sungura,” it’s just a social construction; he’s the same fluffy little guy regardless.  Which was one of the key insights of Ferdinand de Saussure‘s “structuralist linguistics” — languages work by their own internal logic, not by any metaphysical correspondence between word and thing somewhere out there in the ether.  When you say “rabbit,” you’re not talking about any particular rabbit, much less a general concept of Rabbit-ness.  You’re just using a group of sounds inside an internally consistent, but essentially arbitrary, socially-constructed system.

Nietzsche expressed a similar idea somewhere, and if you want to, you can run it all the way back through the medieval debate about “universals” and straight to Plato.  No two rabbits are exactly alike, but we all know that any given rabbit (lapin, Hase, whatever) isn’t, say, a horse, despite all the superficial similarities between the two.  Seriously, try it: give me a definition of “rabbit” that the Average Joe could accept that doesn’t also apply to horses.  “A rabbit is a four-legged furry creature with big ears that is only a few inches tall.”  Ummm, are you sure it’s not a Shetland pony?  And yet the same word covers all rabbits, and excludes all horses.

Obviously we all know the difference between rabbits and horses, which must mean that — despite all the variations between individual rabbits, and all the different words for “rabbit” in all the world’s languages — there’s some “essence of rabbit” out there that we all intuitively understand, which is different from the essence of horse.  A Rabbit, if you will; the Platonic Form of a Rabbit in which all individual rabbits “participate.”  This rabbit doesn’t look very much like that rabbit, but they’re both Rabbits, not horses.  What we say doesn’t matter; it’s what we mean that counts.

With me?

42096-hi-Bugs_BunnyExcept that’s all bullshit.  The astute reader — by which I mean y’all — noticed about three steps ago that I somehow got from “everything is just an arbitrary convention of language” to “there is a real, Platonic Form out there somewhere beyond the moons of Neptune that applies to all rabbits everywhere, no matter what you call any individual member of the species.”

But it sure sounds plausible, don’t it?  Especially if — like most folks these days — you haven’t boned up on Plato in a while, have never heard of de Saussure, and wonder what the hell is the point of all this talk about rabbits anyway.  That’s the Stupid Postmodernist Trick I want to emphasize.  They can beat you down with a whole bunch of 50 cent words, and allusions to concepts you probably only vaguely remember, and names that sure sound authoritative, like Nietzsche and Plato.  And, of course, if you challenge any one of those steps, it’s very easy to lead you off into the weeds of a technical discussion.  Do you doubt that Nietzsche said that?  Well, class, let’s all haul out our copies of Twilight of the Idols (the Kaufmann translation, obviously) and turn to page 57……

This is the essence of the motte-and-bailey doctrine Shackel describes.  It’s a highfalutin’, pseudo-epistemological version of what I call beachhead facts.  Just as the alwarmists will use the fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas to argue that you’re a horrible awful no good very bad person for not wanting global socialism, so the PoMo Leftist (BIRM) will use the tautology that social conventions are, in fact, social conventions to argue that gravity doesn’t exist.  And if you focus on any one particular turd as a starting point for your refutation of all this bullshit, they’ll pull a Zachriel and start trying to assign you homework.

Words mean what they mean.  True things are true no matter who says them, or even if no one does.  False things are false, even if everyone is forced to say they’re true.  That’s all you need to know to refute Postmodernism.  The rest is just hot air.

My Bubble is Thin

According to Charles Murray’s quiz, I live in a thin bubble indeed.  I got a 35 out of 100, which means:

11–80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

0–43: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot. Typical: 9.

It’s worse than that, though.  If I hadn’t lived in a very blue-collar, heavily immigrant neighborhood just out of college, I would’ve scored a lot lower.  Plus, I just don’t watch tv; seemingly half the questions are about tv.

Guess I’m a cuckservative after all.  How about you?

Degenerate Art

In 1937, the Nazi Party put on an exhibition of “degenerate” art.  The standard take on this is what you’d expect: by comparing their favored style (socialist realism kitsch, basically) to the hottest stuff of the avant garde, the Nazis ended up showing the public the cultural poverty of their movement.

Maybe.  I’m not a historian of the 3rd Reich, and you could write everything I know about art on a napkin.  But I do know how to use a google machine, so let’s have a look, shall we?

This is “degenerate” art:

Jan Metzinger, En Canot (Im Boot), 1913

Jan Metzinger, En Canot (Im Boot), 1913

and this is the work of Adolf Ziegler, the organizer of the show, one of Hitler’s faves and an artist colloquially known as the “Reich Master of the Pubic Hair:”

dfe5000d04a84feea90e8daa9007f5aaThat’s The Four Elements, which hung over Hitler’s fireplace (1). Not terrible, but very blah; it looks like a postcard knockoff of a lesser Renaissance painter.  So in the context of the times, the standard take looks like the right one — after 400 years of classical nudes, a genuinely new movement like Cubism seemed to open up all sorts of new artistic possibilities.

But fast forward 80 years.  These days, the “degenerate” stuff simply IS art.  I couldn’t buy a classical nude, even a knockoff of a Ziegler knockoff, at any price.  Ditto “literature” — it’s all MFA wank, with the Michael Chabons and Jonathan Franzens and whomevers in Manhattan awarding all the prizes to folks in another part of Manhattan while their second-person, present-tense quirkfests sit unread on coffee tables (2).  Ditto music.

Hold on a sec.  I’m not just griping about those darn kids today.  The point is that any successful mass political movement is also a cultural movement.  Pick any cultural form you like, and trace it back — you’ll find huge fault lines, giant chasms where the stuff just a decade before looks nothing like what came after, corresponding to extreme political change.  Here, for example, is rococo art, the popular style in France just before the Revolution:

Jean-Honore Fragonard, "The Swing" (1767)

Jean-Honore Fragonard, “The Swing” (1767)

and here’s post-Revolutionary neoclassicism:

Jacques-Louis David, "The Intervention of the Sabine Women," 1796-9

Jacques-Louis David, “The Intervention of the Sabine Women,” 1796-9

We have nothing like high art today, of course, but we do have things like video games and science fiction novels.  And movies.  A decade after its release, The Passion of the Christ looks even weirder.  A hyper-violent Bible epic written entirely in dead languages… that made $611.9 million dollars at the box office.

The point is this: You know a political movement has legs when it gets cultural support.  What was once “degenerate” is now mainstream, and has been for nearly a century.  Art that argues for a “return to tradition” doesn’t look traditional; it looks new and radical, in the same way David’s neoclassicism looked groundbreaking and radical compared to the saccharine of rococo and the hyperactivity of baroque.  A good old fashioned space opera looks shockingly new compared to all the social justice propaganda, just as an old school hack-n-slasher like Baldur’s Gate looks great next to the “updated” version where, instead of bashing orcs, you have to listen to trannies talk about their pwecious widdle feewings.

The blowback is building.  The first politician who really figures out how to harness it is gonna go very, very far…..

 

 

(1) Speaking of degeneration, what diplomat today could match the wit of the French ambassador, who said this piece should be called The Four Senses, because “taste is missing.”

(2) Seriously, click on that link.  Have you ever heard of any of those people?  And check the blurbs — I’d need a gun to my head to read that shit, and even then I’d need to think it over for a few of them.  Ex: “The Tiger’s Wife is a saga set in a fictional war-torn Balkan country where a young doctor must unravel the circumstances of her grandfather’s death through his stories of encounters with “the deathless man” and the legend of the tiger’s wife.”  Holy tap-dancing Buddha.

Capitalism Always Finds a Way

Sexbots!!

Vox Day’s pickup site “Alpha Game” argues that

VR Porn combined with some sort of doll is just around the corner

and asserts that this will be the end of the loser male — with no real options in sight, these guys will tune in, turn on, and drop out of the gene pool, into the virtual arms of their sexbots.

Which, if you think about it, pretty much means the end of Sudden Jihad Syndrome.  We all know that lack of poosy access is a major contributing factor in swarthy young guys going explodey.  Who needs a virulent, violent, love-hate relationship with filthy-yet-unattainable Western whores when you can have one every night, who does whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want?

If I’m DARPA, I’m ordering up a zillion of these, miniaturizing it, and carpet bombing it from Cairo to Karachi.  Say hello to peace in our time.

Category Errors – UPDATED

Trump said some stuff about abortion, and the whole world went nuts.  Almost all of the nuts-going involves category errors.

Here, for instance, is a very interesting piece on the pro-life movement as just another facet of feminist identity politics.  He’s spot on about the weird “victim” language the pro-lifers use:

If you look deeper, you see this phony victimhood feminism all over the Pro-Life Movement. They coined the term “abortionist” to demonize the performer of the abortion, but they didn’t coin a term for the pregnant woman who brings the true victim before the abortionist. They also throw around the term “baby-killer” for the doctor, yet they don’t refer to the pregnant woman as a “baby-killer supplier” or a “fetus pimp”. And they refer to the whole class of abortionists, their places of work, and their PR / lobbying groups, as “the abortion industry” — but not to the whole class of pregnant women who seek out their services as the “mommy before fetus brats,” etc.

I disagree that this is feminist identity politics, but the language IS weird, and most of us — myself certainly included — are so inundated with it that we don’t notice how strange it is.

The real problem is Postmodernism.  Let’s all say it together: “You can’t legislate morality!!”

Which is baloney, and always has been.  Reduce every law code ever written to its fundamentals, and you’ll find a version of the Ten Commandments — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, etc.  Conversely, you can boil down every known moral code to a few hard-and-fast, black-letter laws — you hardly need a PhD in philosophy, for instance, to see that Kant’s famous Categorical Imperative (“treat others as ends, never means”) entails don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, &c &c.

But since we’ve all swallowed the idea that “you can’t legislate morality!” — itself a moral dictum, if you think about it — we’re forced to tweak our laws to encourage behavior without specifying what the desired behavior is.

In Ye Good Olde Days, when adults were in charge in the West, we generally avoided making black-letter laws — not because we lacked for talented jurists, or didn’t have a class of parasitic busybodies just dying to run other people’s lives for them, but because as adults, we understood that most people are lazy, and the ones that aren’t are jailhouse lawyers.  Lazy people don’t like to think, so if you forbid A and only A, then lazy folks won’t do A…. but they’ll assume that B-Z, which are also pretty bad, are ok, since legal.  The jailhouse lawyers, meanwhile, will immediately set to work nibbling around the edges, such that The Law Against A soon must spell out every jot and tittle (see subsection A.2.a.35(c3(lvii)).

Instead, adults focused on propping up culture.  A healthy, vigorous culture knows that while murder is almost always totally wrong, manslaughter, negligent homicide, dueling, honor killing, revenge, &c are also pretty bad, and generally to be avoided…. within certain well-understood, but unwritten, limits.

Adults in a healthy culture are ok with the ideas of legal-yet-forbidden and illegal-but-tolerated.  Victorian Britain’s Contagious Diseases Act, for instance, has been a feminist boogeyman from before the ink was dry, but it was a fairly successful attempt to solve a real problem without infringing on culture.  One shouldn’t visit prostitutes, old chap… but if one does, one should be careful about it.  Similarly, ladies, one shouldn’t exchange sexual favors for money… but if one does, one should be careful about it.

Wiki’s summary illustrates the modern phenomenon I’m talking about:

These measures were justified by medical and military officials as the most effective method to shield men from venereal disease. As military men were often unmarried and homosexuality was criminal, prostitution was considered a necessary evil. However, no provision was made for the examination of prostitutes’ clientele, which became one of the many points of contention in a campaign to repeal the Acts.

The Act itself didn’t provide for the examination of prostitutes’ clientele… but then, one wonders, how did the Act’s authors know it was a problem in the first place?

They didn’t need black-letter law for this, because prostitutes’ clients — unmarried (and, often, married) soldiers and sailors were vigorously inspected in the service, and vigorously punished:

soldiers who were hospitalised with VD found themselves penalised by an antiquated system of ‘hospital stoppages’. In the days before a National Health Service, any man admitted to hospital for reasons not connected with his military service was liable to have money stopped from his pay to help cover the cost of his treatment. Although ‘hospital stoppages’ were finally abolished in October 1917, a levy was retained in cases where a man was deemed to have been admitted ‘through his own fault’, VD patients and alcoholics being the principle targets (Hogge & Garside 1918: 325). ‘Hospital stoppages’ became, in effect, a fine.

British army pay being what it was, a few weeks’ pay stoppage was a significant punishment.  Wiki’s proclamation on homosexuality is also cute — yep, it was “illegal” all right… but every British legislator who had been to a public school, which is to say pretty much every British legislator, had some experience in this area.  It was illegal, but tolerated, just as going to prostitutes was legal, but forbidden.

So: how would a healthy culture handle abortion?  Liberals don’t know the history of their own movement — ignorance of history is the flux capacitor which makes faith in socialism possible — but both contraceptives and abortion were pretty widely available in the Victorian era….

…for rich people.  That was what got the goat of ladies like Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger (well, that and inferior races being allowed to breed): Effective contraception and safe abortion were too expensive for working class girls.  There wasn’t a comparable “gay rights” movement, but it was the same situation — Oscar Wilde wasn’t doing anything a fair share of the upper crust wasn’t doing; he just flaunted it a bit too much.

Alas, we live in The Age of Asperger’s.  We’re all Postmodernists now, and since we know for a fact that there is no such thing as a fact, all laws are just expressions of the dominant coalition’s will to power.  Only that which is specifically forbidden by black letter law is “wrong,” and it’s only “wrong” until the black-letter law is changed.  We can’t articulate a principle, since there are no principles, and we can’t shape the the culture to buttress values, since there are no values (and “culture” is just the whim of a temporary majority).  So we punish abortion providers, not suppliers, in the same way we bust pot suppliers, not users.  If it’s not specifically forbidden, in language too unambiguous for even the cleverest editor of the Harvard Law Review, it’s ok.

UPDATE 4/4/2016: Stacy McCain informs us that “Adultism” is the new thoughtcrime.

Lust in the Age of Asperger’s

I’m nobody’s idea of a coxswain*, but even I know this ain’t how you do it (link via Vox Day’s site Alpha Game).

In case you don’t want to read a lot of Millennial gamma male whining, the tl;dr is “engineering student tries to get laid by pretending he’s all about the girls in STEM (but in a supportive, feminist way); fails miserably.”

Again, I’m no mack daddy, but it seems like any halfway attractive girl in STEM can write her own ticket.  In some ways, you’d have an easier time picking up an 8 at the bar than a 5 in the chem lab.  At least the bar is full of other 7s, 8s, 9s; competition keeps the attention from getting to her head.  The STEM 5, on the other hand, is surrounded by the horniest, most awkward dudes this side of Canada.  At least half of them, I’m sure, think moves like this guy’s are the way to go… plus doing her homework, carrying her books, and whatever else figures into the STEM guys’ weird, 1950ish idea of “romance.”

As it turns out, I have some experience in this area.  I had lots of high school friends who went to the pricey, private, elite engineering school across town from my crappy public college.  Since engineers all drink like fish in college, I was forever hopping on the bus to go throw down a few with my buddies – their parties seemingly aimed for a 1:1 keg:person ratio.  One night, I found myself getting the coldest shoulder imaginable from this barely passable chick.  Again, I’m not Don Juan, but there’s no way I should’ve been getting blown out by this maybe 6-in-low-light-and-after-a-few-shots.  And I do mean blown out — she did everything short of pulling down my pants and laughing.

But then a weird thing happened.  I got back to my buddies, and they were all high-fiving and congratulating me for even getting five minutes with this chick.  I was baffled, until they explained to me that I’d been hitting on the hottest girl in school.  Like, she was the homecoming queen, dated the quarterback, etc. etc., and I was apparently some kind of stud for even having the balls to talk to her.  Now, we were all well on our way to wasted at the time, but my buddies couldn’t grok it when I explained to them that this engineering uber-babe wouldn’t have even been the best looking girl on my dorm floor, and what’s more, guys, you and I went to high school together…. we were constantly surrounded by much better looking girls than this.  Hell, we’d dated girls who were at least as good looking, and we — or, at least, you — are the kind of guys who’d end up at an elite engineering school….

See what I mean? All the dorks pining after her had given this chick impenetrable bitch armor.  I’m not sure any amount of “Game” would’ve worked on her, until you got her out of that weird little world and around normal girls for a few hours.  I’m well out of the dating scene now, but if I had to give some advice to guys like my friends (or, sadly, myself) back in the days, it’d be “plenty of fish, dude.  Plenty of fish.  It’s a cliche because it’s true.  Find out where the Education majors hang out — they’re easy.”

But, alas, this is the Age of Asperger’s.  If I said “plenty of fish in the sea, dude,” this poindexter would probably rent a boat….

 

*PS: I’m aware that coxswain is a naval rate; I just think it sounds funny.

The Time Capsule

As I said in this discussion over at the Z Blog, it’s weird — and deeply unpleasant — living through the end of an epoch.  Watching Europe’s voluntary suicide-by-immigration — coming soon to a theater near you! — I understand what civilized Romano-Britons must’ve felt, watching the last legions sailing away from the London docks.  Things are actually pretty good right now, materially speaking — I’m writing this from a nice room, climate controlled, with electricity, running water, and plenty of food in the fridge — and that’s not likely to change in the immediate future.  It’s not as if the Picts are propping ladders up against the wall as we speak.  But the writing is on the wall: The West — tolerant, liberal, open-minded, scientific, Christian — is over.

I’ll leave it to historians more schooled than I in 20th century history to perform the autopsy… assuming there are any a few decades from now.  But in the spirit of guild fraternity, I’d like to help them out.  Let’s leave a few primary sources behind.

One of the hardest things to get at is culture.  Go on Project Gutenberg and peruse some 19th century novels.  We need “scholarly editions” now to fully appreciate even the classics; the dime novels, which were more fully of their milieu, are almost incomprehensible in spots.  The products, the slang, all of the little ways of living that they took for granted and we’re in the dark about….

So: What would you like remembered about your times?  Slang?  Products?  Attitudes?  I’m not talking about “stupid liberals believed this” or “can you believe that was popular?”  The fact that it was believed, was popular, is the important stuff, because that’s the kind of thing historians need to know.  Let the 2095 folks figure out why Nickelback sold seventy zillion albums, despite everyone seemingly hating them.  We just want to record the pop culture tidbits that strike us for posterity.

What do you say?

Space Raptor Butt Invasion

There is a sci-fi short story out there called “Space Raptor Butt Invasion.” It has been nominated for a Hugo Award.  I couldn’t care less about the whole Sad / Rabid Puppies dust up, but because they have nominated it, there will be serious discussion about a story called “Space Raptor Butt Invasion.”

And yes, it’s a real story (link to Amazon, but if you think any part of “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” is SFW, please send me your organization’s job app asap).

This has been a public service announcement.  Y’all need to know this stuff.