Staring down the barrel

bench man person night
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

“Fuckin loser”

I say that often. I still judge those without ambition. And I know why: I wish that I was a loser.

I envy the guy that can play Fortnite all day. I wish that I can embrace my dead-end job. I wish that I could turn a blind eye to the pressures of the modern world.

That drill sergeant that guilted me into going to college…he’s undoubtedly changed my life. He changed it for the worse. I had life figured out too. I didn’t give a fuck about a “job” or “education”. I was cruising my way towards a life of leisure, a life of video games, Cheetos, and mediocrity. That mother fucker.

Mediocrity is the world’s greatest fear. As children, we’re told that we’re going to do great things. That’s a flat out lie. Most of us will go on to do nothing with our lives. We’ll die and be forgotten forever. And so what?

Not everyone can be great

I heap praise onto the underachiever. They know what’s up. They know that our ambitions are vain pursuits. We’re corporate slaves. Few of us know it. Or we refuse to acknowledge it. “Become your own boss” they say. Heh. They’re the biggest slaves of all. Sure, I look down on the loafer, the gamer, the barfly, the starving artist, the grifter. But the joke’s on me.

I will one day work myself off a cliff. I will die and no one will give a shit. But that’s the fate of 95% of the population. I’m in good company.

Suicide isn’t an option. I’ve detailed my experience with that shit. Honestly I don’t think it’s possible. Of course, I have to dive into some spooky physics to explain that. I’m too lazy to do that. But life can’t be escaped. It’s both heaven and hell. And that’s okay. Life is far more interesting than death.

So as I’ve said before, “what’s the meaning of life?” is a useless question. A better question is “what do I do with this useless time?”

Are the stresses that accompany a careerist path a fine use of that time? Sure, some people get off on that shit. Mostly sociopaths. But for us normies, what would we rather be doing?

I’m comfortable in my job. It doesn’t pay the best. I could easily move up. I’ve been 100% honest and open about that…I have no ambitions with that company. I have few ambitions outside of it too. I know that I’ll never make money off writing. I’ve expressed my regrets on not committing to being a writer early on in life. But the truth is….I’m just not good enough. I’m mediocre. And who gives a shit?

To a large degree, I’m content with life. And in this state of contentness, there remains the voice of desire. A voice that screams the neoliberal chant “do more. want more”. Then I get restless. The comfort feels empty. Then I leave the nest of ease into the unforgiving waters of ambition. I will drown in stress and envy. Fuck that shit. If I’m going to die, let me die being me.

“It’s just not enough.” That’s the disease talkin.

hawthorne heights

 

I heard a Hawthorne Heights song for the first time in awhile. I never got into the emo scene, but I sure as fuck was into Hawthorne Heights. I don’t give a fuck what anybody said but Silence in Black and White was dope as hell. That’s really the only album I liked. That was the soundtrack of my senior year.

The critics probably hated them. It’s almost laughable how bad some of the lyrics were. But holy shit. When you’re a teenager, those lyrics are the most powerful shit.

It’s a testament to how great the 2000s were. Even when it was absolute shit, it fuckin ROCKED. It was after 9/11. George W. Bush was president and everybody fuckin hated him. You need that shit if you want to create dope ass art.

Plus, we forget how shitty G-Dub was. Hell yeah Trump gets unfairly criticized. When you compare him to W. Trump looks like goddamn Abraham Lincoln. I mean, he’s still a shitty president, but there’s really only been two or three good ones in the entire history of the office. And W’s tenure was WAY worse than Trump’s (so far at least). Remember that swift boating shit? A lot has been made about Trump making fun of McCain, but W and Karl Rove were way ahead of him on that shit. So if you’re a Republican running for president, your best bet is to make fun of a veteran. People love that shit. But the stress that W. put the nation through made the 2000s one of the dopest decades.

I remember BLASTING Hawthorne Heights while doing 180s down some backroads. It was in some shitty Alero. That shit was tight. My friends would give me dip. That would give me one hell of a buzz and I’d use my e-brake while going 9-0. Hell yeah dude. I fucked that car UP!

I had my first girlfriend during senior year. She was an emo. She didn’t like Hawthorne Heights though. I think she introduced me to drumming. I don’t remember how I got into that shit honestly. But she was into some deep cuts of bands I’ve never heard of. She was kinda cool. Didn’t have a sense of humor though.

I remember busting ass and laughing at the word ‘crank’. She’d just look at me. Maybe I just wasn’t funny. But thinking back on her, she reminds me of the activists I rub elbows with today. None of them are funny.

I dunno, life’s just shitty all of the time. You gotta fuckin laugh at it.

But sometimes I give that vibe. I read some of my old shit on here, and I think “holy shit I sound like a blow hard.” Honestly, I’m laughing at everything all the time. I hate life and can’t wait for it to end. Unfortunately being dead is boring. So I stay alive and mock everyone’s bullshit. Thankfully a lot of the unfunny people within my corner Leftdom are being laughed at and pushed out.

I talked shit about the DSA in the last post and essentially compared it the Tea Party. But it’s kids that are running the show. Young people just aren’t funny. It will be interesting to see how this movement will develop in 10 years when everyone’s in their 30s, been to rehab a few times, and popped out a few kids.

That’s when real change will occur, when everyone just admits that life is awful. When we stop jackin each other off and pretending that reading a few uplifting quotes will make everything better. The world can only get better when everyone’s tired of this shit.

Hawthorne Heights. Hell yeah.

everything sucks

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

I got pissed off at work for nothing at all. I should probably get back on meds. 

Shit just angers me. 

I work with straight up rednecks. I mean, that’s fine. Whatever. You are who you are. It’s just annoying when people go out of their way to be an over-the-top stereotype. We’re all stereotypes I guess. I certainly am. I’m a stereotypical Reddit user. It’s just that rednecks are the most predictable of stereotypes: they love the south, stuff their faces with barbecue and dip, and have huge shitty looking beards. When they’re not being racist, their conversations are the most boring, generic shit. It’s the same bullshit everyday.

There was just one problem: I was working alone. I talked to absolutely NO ONE that day.

I’m developing anger issues. I’m not really angry at anything in particular. I’m pissed off at everything. Even the things I like I’m beginning to hate. I fucking hate Star Trek. Remember? I used to love that shit. But when I reflect on it, especially the most recent crap, I’ve come to realize that it’s not very good. ST09 was actually a bad movie. It’s depressing.

I don’t know what happened.

Well…actually I do kinda know. And the answer is predictable: it’s the fuckin internet. It’s taught me to hate everything.

What’s odd is that is that I started writing this post a couple days ago. When I sat down to finish it today, one of my favorite podcasts, Cum Town, went off the goddamned rails. Well, the podcast didn’t, but is host Nick Mullen appeared to have done so. And if he didn’t, the subreddit certainly did. After coming out of a deep dark depression, Mullen realized that a lot his fans were douchebags and told them to leave comedian Tom Myers alone. Only Nick and his friends were allowed to make fun of him. Tom caught wind of this and effectively zinged Nick. The subreddit turned into a civil war. So everything, including my dumbest guilty pleasure, has turned to shit.

It’s a sad day when Tom Myers is funnier than Nick Mullen.

It’s a good day too because you get to see an entire fanbase shit their pants.

But things just aren’t cool anymore. Not even the DSA. I had a realization that the DSA isn’t that different from the alt-right. Both groups seemed to have been forged by cynical internet subculture and both have a strange obsession with wanting to say the n-word. Sure, leftist groups don’t like the think they’re racist, but they’re still angry white kids. Annoying angry white kids too.  What the fuck’s up with wired-framed glasses? I mean, I agree with their politics, so I’m unfortunately married to this group of lunatics, but it doesn’t make my life easier. I can’t shake the feeling that the DSA of 2018 is just the Tea Party of 2009 or whenever that shit was popular. The Tea Party just dissolved into the alt-right and I imagine large swaths of the DSA will face a similar fate. Donald Trump will probably win a second term (although it’s been weeks since I’ve watched/read anything in the news, so Donald Trump might not even be president anymore) which will finish off establishment Democrats and give rise to the “alt-left” (for a lack of a better description) and they will probably do something stupid like nominate Nick Mullen for president in 2024.  If that happens, I say HELL YEAH! but in reality no radical change would have been implemented. And worse yet, we’d all be dumber because of it. Fuck this shit.

In fact, if you’re politically engaged at all, the joke’s on you. Call me crazy, because I am, but when I see problems my immediate thought is: “this really should be fixed.” And that should be the motivation for anyone wishing to get into politics. Things have been shaken up recently, the Right/Left of today isn’t your dad’s Right/Left. Successes within the DSA, particularly with the nomination of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have spurred hoped within the ranks. Many believe that change is actually underway. But when many take the attitude that politics is a game of dominance, (as a few talking heads in the DSA openly believe) that’s just more of the same shit. Nothing changes, problems are deemed non-existent or irrelevant. We’re just re-gifting the same turd in a different package.

So basically we’re all fucked and everything sucks.

Recollections…or some bullshit (Part II: The Myspace Era)

cocktails led signage
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I came across my old Myspace profile while searching for Mr. Lester.

“Fuuuuuuck”, I thought. “That Wes once existed.”

The end of the Bush years/beginning of Obama were dark times. That was my Myspace era. By the way…Myspace: way cooler than Facebook. That place deserves a renaissance. But anyways, I was in my late teens-early 20s during the Myspace fad. Depressing times. I don’t know why though. I would have HAD to of been a douchebag. Every guy in their late teens and twenties are pieces of shit.

I graduated high school and went to AIT for the Army. AIT is advanced training for your job. It was a fuckin blast. I met my doppelganger there. It was pretty fuckin spooky how much we looked and acted alike. There are a lot more freedoms in AIT than there are in basic training. You can drink, go off base, fuck…just as long as you’re back in the barracks on time. I was too insecure about myself. I didn’t drink or have sex at all that summer unlike everyone else. There was a girl crushing on me though. I didn’t know what to do so she went for my doppelganger instead. That was pretty cool. I didn’t have a care in the world, I didn’t think past that summer. I honestly assumed that I would return to my unit, get deployed to Iraq, and that would be that. If that didn’t happen, then I’d go back home, work some odd jobs, and do the Reserves. I did not give A FUCK about college.

But there was a drill sergeant that would hound my ass if I told him that. “You gotta go to college dumbass!”. Upon finishing AIT, I flew back home and applied to community college the next day. That was some fuckin bullshit. But I got it in my head that I would join ROTC and become an officer. Huge mistake.

In the meantime, I started my first long-term relationship. I say long-term. Upon reflection, it was probably only 8 months. A year at most. But damn, it felt like I dated this girl for years. Obviously it didn’t work out, but I bring this up because when I reflect on my 20s, it feels like I was single for most of it. And that’s bullshit. I’ve maybe been single for ONE year of my entire adult life. But what a fuckin year. Holy shit. I’ll get back to that. But after this relationship ended, I transferred to a major four-year university and everything went down hill.

Right before my 21st birthday, the Army sent me Dallas for some horseshit training mission. I took my first drink of alcohol in some shitty hotel room and went to a strip club. My life was never the same. When I returned home, I used my military ID to get into bars. That was pretty badass. I got drunk one night and got into a fight with my brother. He absolutely DESTROYED my face. I didn’t drink again until my 21st birthday.

On that fateful birthday, I celebrated at some stripper’s house. I didn’t know her. Her boyfriend was some shitty tattoo artist. He came downstairs in his underwear and did a line of coke off the book Go Ask Alice. That was totally fuckin boss. Then he wanted somebody to punch him in the face. My friend obliged. Meanwhile, I was blasting my body with alcohol. Then I blacked out and started puking everywhere. They moved me out into the garage where I covered myself in vomit. I got alcohol poisoning and I wasn’t able to eat an entire meal for two weeks.

I lost so much fucking weight from that.

That was a weird stretch of a few days. I caught up with my ex-girlfriend and she took me to a bar to meet one of her friends. I wasn’t entirely 100% at that moment. But her friend,  some dude that was trying to fuck her, gave me some weed. It was the first time I smoked it. He took us back to his place and tried to talk us into a three-way. But I started drinking gin and cranberry and puked in his sink. I began ROTC full-time just a day or two later.

ROTC sucked. I wish that I could elaborate, but there’s honestly not much I remember. I was fucked up 24/7. My grades were failing. Life sucked. I decided to end life by taking a cocktail of shit and that was my first suicide attempt. I was hospitalized for a few days and was discharged from ROTC.

I temporarily dropped out of college. This was mid-semester too. I just quit attending.

I moved to some small ass town (near where I attended high school) with a friend where I was going to rebuild life. Great fuckin times too. Unfortunately I got caught up with woman, fell in love with her, and then she dropped my ass. That fuckin destroyed my love life. Then I got in touch with another ex-girlfriend who was totally into drugs at that time. I hung out with her, took some shit, fell into a fuckin seizure and was back in the ER. The friend I was living with though “fuck this” and bailed. My life was back in the dumpster.

“To hell with this”, I thought. I re-enrolled in college.

Then the 2000s ended. Barack Obama was president. The Myspace era was over.

In came the Facebook era….the darkest of times.

Recollections…or some bullshit

beautiful beauty black and white dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Drinking buddies would get PISSED when I couldn’t remember things. For fuck’s sake, we were doing coke, pot, and alcohol. How the fuck could they remember ANYTHING? Nights out were a blur. I couldn’t remember people, conversations, events. Nothing. My mind was shut down.

Unfortunately, I was like that BEFORE I ever took my first drink.

In college, some guy off the street began bullshitting with me about our high school days. We went to the same school. Apparently I was in a class ahead of him. I don’t remember this asshole at all. This is partially why I didn’t attend my 10 year reunion. I barely remember anyone.

In addition to having a poor memory, I just don’t like to reminisce. The past sucked, ya know? I’m way more cool now than I was at 18. Fuck those years.

Honestly, I hate to say it, but things going on outside of my head are less interesting than things going on in it. I hardly take interest in things going on in my life. People get angry with me because I can’t remember things. But you know what? If people were a bit more interesting, I might remember them.

That’s all I’m saying.

But I’ve been depressed. I’m not depressed about anything in particular. It seems like I get this way every summer. The heat sucks. But now that I’m an old man, I’m left wondering how things got to be this way. Why am I such a piece of shit?

My first best friend was an asshole. I was 8-10 years old, at the time living outside of Los Angeles. He might’ve been an asshole, but he was also a badass. He’d steal shit from candy stores, pull knives out on gang bangers (probably some teenagers) threatening to beat the shit out of us, break into people’s cars. The kid was fearless.

His dad, however, was some aging hippie. Not some peace-loving hippie though. This mother fucker was pissed off all the time. He’d often slap the shit out of his son and yell at me. The first time I was scared for my life was when I was hiding under a pool table trying to get away from  him. So it was no wonder why my best friend was an asshole. He had to be.

I was just some scrawny, red-headed dork. Why did I keep hanging out with this kid?

On up until high school, all of my friends were trouble-makers. In the 8th grade, I was put into a class. It wasn’t a “special needs” class. It was a class for “socially non-conforming” kids, for a lack of a better description. It wasn’t because I got into trouble all of the time. In fact, the principal loved me. I informed her that a kid was threatening to come into school and shoot her. That kid was fucked up. We both knew he would have done it. So I thwarted a potential school shooting. Nevertheless, I ended up in a special needs class. It was obvious that I wasn’t getting along with anybody. I was a weirdo. I was an under-performing child. So I was placed in a class where the standards were lowered for me.

It worked like a fucking charm.

It was around this time that I was diagnosed with “ADD” or some shit. It was the early 2000s. Every kid was diagnosed with that in those days. The doctor prescribed me some drugs. It was good shit too. Yet one day in class, we were watching the Tell-Tale Heart. I nearly dropped dead from a heart attack. There’s no way that movie should have been THAT intense. So I stopped taking the drugs.

That summer after 8th grade, I watched Caligula for the first time. Immediately afterwards I fell into a MAJOR depression. The first one ever. I was unable to watch that movie again until my 20s.

High school began after that summer. I was unable to function and adapt. My parents understandably grew worried and enrolled me in a private school. This wasn’t any run-of-the-mill private school either. This place was ran by Bible-Thumping lunatics. Were my parents religious? Nope. They just thought I would perform better in a small setting. They were right too. I fucking crushed it. At least academically speaking. Things were looking up during my time there, but, still….

I’m not entirely certain what happened.

I remember that I had my first thoughts on suicide during freshman year. I was heavily into Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I had images of jumping off buildings to the tune of “Comfortably Numb” running through my head. I’d lay down in the grass and look up at planes flying overhead. I’d ponder jumping out of them without a parachute. I just hated life and couldn’t wait for it to end.

Then came the religious turn. It didn’t happen immediately. I don’t remember getting “saved”. It happened twice though. I guess I didn’t think that the first time was sufficient enough. I got baptized twice as well. The principal, a very well-educated man and decorated war veteran, was quite impressed by my religious aptitude. I ate that shit up. For the first time ever, I was intellectually engaged which allowed me to be distracted from my self-pity. I thought that I found a purpose in life. This is what every teenager searches for: certainty, belonging, meaning. I thought that I found that. In retrospect, this was all bullshit, but my time at the school were some of my happiest years.

I don’t know if that was true for every kid however. One guy, God bless him, was weird. I mean, I was weird but somehow he managed to best me in that department. Everyone made fun of him: me, classmates, teachers. Everyone. We’ll call him “Jack” for our purposes here. Jack and me had a strange relationship. We’d get into fights on occasion. Then we’d be friends the next day. When “Jason and Joe” began attending however…my friendship with Jack deteriorated. I knew Jason and Joe LONG before we began attending the same school. They were brothers. Jason had problems of his own. Our time at the school really cemented our own “brotherly” relationship. Looking back, their admittance to the school was the beginning of the end.

Church politics is a strange thing. I always felt sorry for “Mr. Lester”, the aforementioned highly educated principal. Despite his nonsensical beliefs, he really was trying educate the youth. That was his mission. It’s a shame that he got caught up in this bullshit church. Mr. Lester was a talented educator, an intellect. He taught me how to think and approach the world. But he was a kite in a windstorm. The mother of Jason and Joe, “Matilda”, was a sociopath. She didn’t understand everyday niceties that we all take for granted. She was nice to me though. But that was probably because she wanted me to see her as a fellow teenager. That always gave me a weird vibe. But Matilda was protective of her kids which led to frequent clashes between her and Mr. Lester. Matilda felt that because she had both her sons attending, in addition to numerous referrals, that she deserved a say in everyday operations. Mr. Lester was not only fighting that front, but he also had to appease the church administration.

Come junior year, the pastor was retiring. In came the new man: Pastor “Clay”. Along with him came a hotshot entourage which included his son-in-law, the Ivy League-educated Mr. Dowling. Like Mr. Lester, Mr. Dowling was an educator. Mr. Lester invited Mr. Dowling in as a sign of good faith. They were to be collaborators in this endeavor. This was a career-ending mistake. Around the same time, the star missionaries “The Berkeley’s” returned from the field. Their three sons were quickly enrolled in the school. Mr. Berkeley was at one point a pastor over this church. Upon his return, he increasingly faded away the community. We’d later learn that this “mission” wasn’t a success. Down there in the jungles of South America, Mr. Berkeley slowly went mad. The details of this tragedy slowly leaked out, infecting the entire church. It was all so unbelievable. How could a man of God fall so hard and sudden? His kids were as disillusioned as he was. Mrs. Berkeley insisted on her children staying in the church. But it was futile. Their presence in the school was a disaster.

It was a disaster on my social life as well.

The Berkeley boys were cool. They were good-looking, athletic, respected in the church. I was none of those things. It was too much for Matilda who desired to live out her teenage years vicariously through her sons. I grew apart from Jason and Joe. Joe especially. Jason and I still shared our fucked-up-ness, but I had difficulty relating to him that year. I never held another conversation with Joe. The Berkeleys, Matilda, Jason, and Joe threw gatherings at each other’s houses over the weekends. I was left out. And Mr. Lester slowly began to lose control.

Teenagers are teenagers. I accepted my weirdness. But with the Berkeley Boys in open revolt, that provided us with the impetus to fuck shit up. I did as much damage to school property as anyone, yet still managed to stay in Mr. Lester’s good graces. I went through a phase where I was showing my ass to everyone. I mooned an entire congregation at one point. Oddly enough, many thought this was hilarious, but Mr. Lester had to set his foot down. I was suspended for an entire week. This briefly made me the cool kid and I was invited to one party. By this time, however, the Berkeley’s, Jason, and Joe were attracting the attention of girls and they thought I was too weird. I was never invited back. But this ruckus didn’t go unnoticed by the church administration. Pastor Clay, I imagine, was growing tired of Mr. Lester’s inability to control his students.

Towards the end of my junior year, Mr. Lester’s presence was fading. Mr. Dowling stepped up.

That summer, I joined the Army. I don’t know why. At the moment, it seemed like a good idea. While in basic training, the Berkeley’s, Jason, and Joe were informed that they wouldn’t be accepted back. They all enrolled in public schools the following year. I was the lone senior…and in the Army. I received a heroes welcome.

The first half of my senior year was odd. It was quiet. The high school class was dwindled down to 7 students, to include Jack. Mr. Dowling ruled with an iron fist. He’d tell you as much. He didn’t like me. And understandably so. Jack, myself, and another student “Bill”, formed the last vestiges of the previous year’s revolt. I was willing to play ball. My only objective at this point was to graduate and serve a tour of duty in Iraq. Whatever bullshit was going on in school was to just pass the time. My senior year was nothing more than a victory lap, in my mind. But Mr. Dowling had other plans.

Dowling thought that I was cocky, wasn’t serving the church properly, and he sure as shit wasn’t going to let me graduate unless I got right with God. I didn’t give a fuck about this guy and took pleasure in pissing him off. Even my parents told this guy to fuck off and let me graduate. No one was on his side. I was winning the revolt despite hardly trying. This proved to be too much for Mr. Dowling.

While wrestling with another student, just fuckin around and not fighting, Mr. Dowling came up behind me and threw my ass to the ground, splitting my head open. He did this in front of all the students. I was withdrawn from the school the next day. Then the entire high school was withdrawn. Then the entire student body was withdrawn. The school was finished due to one man’s strange decision to attack a student. (He claimed that, because I was in the Army, I posed a threat to everyone)

Other than a few cuts and bruises, I wasn’t injured and I declined to press charges. Truthfully, I was relieved to be done with that place. But then came another problem: how the fuck was I going to graduate high school?

I was a senior halfway through the school year and no school was comfortable with admitting me. It appeared my only option was to get my GED. But then some Podunk school said “we don’t give a shit, you can attend here.” And it was fucking awesome. Jack joined me in attending Podunk High where he found the acceptance he couldn’t find at Bible-Thumping school. He was WAY more popular than I ever was. But attending Podunk High allowed me to take the victory lap I badly wanted.

Those were some of the best months of my life. I’m glad that I appreciated them before life quickly turned into the shit-fest that was my 20s.

But nobody’s life took a turn for the better. For the Berkeleys, their father was killed in a drug-induced car wreck later that year. Mr. Dowling’s wife would pass away six years later. Joe went on to impregnate a girl his senior year and has been a mess ever since. Jason would spend the next several years in legal trouble. Our friendship would dissolve when I testified against him for domestic abuse. I never heard from Mr. Lester again. I’ve been seeking him out ever since. Few people escaped from that mess unscathed. Only Jack, the butt of everyone’s joke, appears to be doing well. That mother fucker’s a stud now. I’m happy for him. The rest of us, however, are a mess.

But that shit happened. At least I think it happened. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.

Walking Away From Everything

man standing in the middle of field
Photo by Justinian Calugarescu on Pexels.com

My favorite scene from The Americans is at the end of season 3….when Phillip, in disguise, is feeding some bullshit to his contact on how he justifies his actions. Finally he breaks down and says “you know, I just feel like shit all of the time”. It made me chuckle.

I don’t feel like shit all of the time, mind you. Now that I’m not writing all of the time, I feel better than ever. I fuckin hate writing. If you’re a writer and you don’t find it a curse, then you’re not a real fuckin writer. If you hate something and you stick with it anyway…that’s how you know you love it. I don’t make the rules. But you do have to walk away from things from time to time. Writing was making me feel like shit, so I stepped away.

I’m loving life again. Unfortunately, writing is my burden. It’s like having children. I’m not saying that I’m a great writer, or a mediocre one. In fact, I think I’m downright terrible. But writing is my child. As shitty as it can sometimes be, I still love it. Thankfully I won’t be arrested for neglect should I choose to abandon it. I’m able to walk away. I can breath fresh air, live under the sun. I don’t have to worry about paying child support, changing diapers, or any of that shit.

However, some don’t take that approach. Writers are a shitty group of people. “You got to write everyday!” they keep telling me. Fuck that. I suppose that any skill can be learned, but when it comes to the arts…you either have the passion for it or you don’t. Art isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a skill to be marketed. It’s an expression. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t force some bullshit out. Sometimes the voice of passion is reaching out, sometimes (most of the time) it isn’t. And that’s okay. It’s okay to walk away.

I’ve began to ignore the “self-help” gurus. Well, actually, I never paid much attention to them. I’ve probably mocked them more than once on this blog. Unfortunately they’re everywhere. They’re pests. They’re experts on nothing. They’re con-artists. They’ve managed to convince us that they’re a “genius” in a given field. But they all sound the same: 1. You’re the problem. 2. Change your shitty attitude. 3. Work harder. 4. Huff paint. 5. Eat Shit. 6. Blah. 7. Blah. 8. Blah. There, you now know their secrets. We’re all insecure. We’re afraid that we aren’t making enough money. That our friends will be more successful than us. That we’re losing some imaginary race. That’s why these gurus are so prevalent.

We’ve convinced ourselves that “success” is a thing. That there’s objective criteria for meeting it. But we know that’s not true. We know that most of our motivations are for some empty pursuit. Instead of entertaining that voice inside of our heads warning us that “this is stupid” or “who cares”, we jump into the race to nowhere. One day we will die and most of the things we do will be for naught. Everything you earn you can’t take with you. The history you leave behind will one day be forgotten. Then one day will be the last day. The universe will collapse into a singularity and will expand again. On and on this goes, for no reason at all. We are nothing in this infinite expanse. Whatever success we think we’ve achieved ain’t shit.

So what’s the purpose in all of this? Well, it’s obvious: there isn’t one.

I think a better question is: what should we do with this useless time? Do you want to spend it fretting about frivolous bullshit? Concerning ourselves with a legacy of success that will be forgotten and without purpose? I don’t know about you, but my answer is NO. Despite my convictions on nothingness, life (and consciousness) is quite remarkable. We’re self-aware “star stuff” as Carl Sagan liked to put it. That’s a gift from the cosmos and most of us waste it on doing shit we hate.

Do whatever the fuck you want with this information. But I’m tired. So I’m walking away.

I’m done. Until next time…

Walking Away: My Relationship With The Internet (Part I)

close up shot of black computer keyboard
Photo by Shawn Stutzman on Pexels.com

I have no idea what’s happening in the world.

I quit reading the news nearly a month ago. It’s been two weeks since I’ve read an opinion piece of any sort. I haven’t checked my personal Facebook in something like 10 months. I would like to delete it if only I could remember the login. In short, I’ve begun a slow process of divorcing myself from the internet.

I’ve stated many times before: I’m not anti-internet. Obviously I’m not because you’re reading this ON THE INTERNET. Additionally, in our day and age, it’s impossible to completely avoid it. I don’t think that the internet is evil, but like anything it can be used as an instrument for our own destruction.

For over a month, I was depressed. Not horribly depressed, there was just a lingering sense of melancholy that I couldn’t shake. I’ve been medicated for over three years. Unfortunately I’m also a nasty alcoholic. I took care of that problem nearly a year ago. I suppose that onset of clinical depression is out of our control, nevertheless there were certain habits that were exasperating my anxiety.

So I searched. I discovered that I had a really stupid obsession: this fucking blog. And the things I did to fuel the energy into writing it: current events and internet culture. Something had to give. The absurdity of the world, of the 24 hour news cycle, of being glued to my phone for over 12 hours a day…It was driving me insane. Life stopped being about friends and family, stopped being about the outdoors under the sun. The world became a much smaller place: it was contained within a handheld device. It pained me, but I just couldn’t live in this tiny world anymore.

We praise the achievements of mankind. And indeed, the internet is incredible. Humanity is better connected than it’s ever been. We’re exposed to a massive amount of information. In that respect, the internet is undoubtedly the greatest invention of all time. But with this power, responsibility has been lacking. The endless news cycle and abundance of resources competing with one another for viewership has quite literally made us addicted.  There’s nothing we love more than ourselves and social media has done an excellent job in exploiting our vanities. In my view, the web has greatly altered political ideology. The typical Right-Left dynamic is, again in my opinion, almost unrecognizable from even a few decades ago. The internet has fundamentally changed, in more ways than one, how we process the world. Is this a good or bad thing? In many ways it’s an absolutely good thing, particularly in an educational sense. People are probably more knowledgeable now than they’ve ever been. That is progress. However, what is less discussed is the effects that the barrage of technology, and the isolation of individuals, that’s been fostered by the internet. In this sense, there needs to be a greater degree of skepticism towards common notions of achievement and progress.

Without this skepticism, true progress can’t be achieved at all. Sure, we’re more “connected” to individuals on the other side of the world. But what does this matter when we’re failing to connect with our friends and neighbors? Knowledge and technology is good and well, but how does it contribute to our general wellbeing? It’s these kinds of questions we must ask and answer before we can establish any sort certainty on “progress”.

Once again, I’m going to tell you that I’m not an expert in anything. I’m not an anthropologist. But the stereotypical view (in my mind) that anthropologists have presented us regarding indigenous peoples, or those that have minimal contact with modern civilization, is that they are happier. Clearly that’s a subjective term. I couldn’t tell you how happiness might be philosophically defined….other than “you know it when you feel it”. I can certainly tell you what it’s not: feelings of loneliness, unfulfillment, etc. So I’m using the term happiness very generally here. But even in that context, it certainly makes sense why indigenous peoples would be happier than folks in modern civilization: there are less barriers between them, less hustle and bustle, a greater connection between the individual and the community. Obviously I have to apply the same degree of skepticism towards indigenous living as I do with modern living. Perhaps they are just as miserable as those in current civilization and suffering is just a part of the human condition. But maybe it’s true: they possess greater feelings of fulfillment.

So what is it about modern life that makes us feel so “unfulfilled?” Of course, I’m a big fan of Marx and Engels, and much has been made about the “primitive communism” that resembles indigenous living. I have lots of questions regarding the validity of that theory, so I won’t jump down that rabbit hole, but I think that has subconsciously taken hold within certain left-leaning bourgie circles (for a lack of a better description): the need to return to simpler living. Hence we get the tiny house movement. But such sentiments are only superficial and they entirely miss the point. The objective isn’t simply to return to native (i.e. simple) living. The technological genie can’t be put back into the bottle. The internet, smartphones, and electric cars aren’t going away and I’m not saying they should. We can only learn to live WITH them. What I am saying is that we can live in accordance with nature while living the modern life. Of course there’s so much working against that. In addition to our technological barrier, careerism has reduced us to useless cogs in a much larger machine. We just punch a clock, most of us don’t see the difference our lives make. That’s alienation, that’s another source of our unfulfillment. But with the internet, and social media in particular, we only see the image of other people’s lives. Then we confuse that image for reality. There’s too many people and not enough time in the day, we couldn’t possibly keep track of all the events going on everyone’s lives (that is, the lives of individuals directly in our social circle). So what we see is what they show us via social media, which isn’t reality but a distorted image of reality. Then we evaluate our own lives according to these distorted images. We don’t directly perceive the lives of our friends and neighbors, for the most part. A sense of community has broken down. This process began long before the rise of the internet, but whatever longing we had for a communal connection has been supplanted by social media. It’s seemingly preferable to interact electronically. The internet, social media specifically, has isolated the individual. The last vestiges of community have been stamped out by excessive online use. Rather than seeing ourselves as a part of something, we now identify ourselves solely as I. And this empty narcissism has been successfully manipulated by the genius engineers and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. This narcissism drives us to compete with our friends and neighbors rather than live for and with them. This empty pursuit is the main source of our unfulfilled lives.

Personal interaction has grown less and less tangible. In the US specifically, the necessity for “personal space” has driven us apart. We retreat into our 2,000 square foot homes, commute alone in our 5 seat vehicle, and regularly despise our coworkers…or the very people we spend most of our time with. I’m guilty of all of these things. Then we wonder why depression, drug use, and loneliness is so prevalent. I quit social media not because I want face-to-face interaction…I NEED it. We all do. Tangible interaction is a necessity for happiness.  (This includes so-called “introverts”, of which I am one)

So it makes sense why I’d leave social media. But why avoid the news?

There’s the obvious:  in the game of “telephone”, a statement can be greatly altered between just a few people. When it finally reaches back to the original sender, the message is rarely similar in any way. The news works in a very similar fashion. We’re often reading second and third-hand accounts of events. What we’re told is rarely what ACTUALLY occurred (if you recall, this is why I rejected the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John as reliable accounts regarding the life of Jesus of Nazareth). Of course, we’re led to believe that the field of journalism is a highly disciplined profession, and there are certain measures in place to ensure the reliability of information. But when publications compete with one another for viewership, often the reliability of information is compromised in order to maintain a strategic advantage. Therefore the interpretation of events, particularly political ones, are tilted towards certain points of views. As a result, we get Fox News, CNN, and HuffPost that present news in a way that appeals to its audience…but is not an accurate representation of the “facts”. The various sources of news and information do not fight against disinformation…they actively promote it.

However, I doubt that anyone pretends that these sources are, in fact, reliable. Nevertheless, viewers continue to rely on these news outlets despite intuitively understanding that they’re stroking our indignant sense of outrage. And many choose to incorporate this outrage into an identity, so they see themselves as “conservative” or “liberal”. Anyone that holds views contrary to their identity are seen as an enemy to the constitution, democracy, or whatever bullshit they need to rationalize their outrage. So they use the media as source to validate their views.

So the news and social media, proliferated by the internet, are together mobilized to further our isolation from the community. It’s a crippling addiction. I’ve always felt that addiction to the news is far worse than addiction to pornography. Although porn for better or worse informs our attitudes towards sex, at least it (in its legal forms) presents itself as fiction…or as adults behaving in a manner for the sexual pleasure of the viewer. The viewer is very much in on the fantasy of it all. When viewed in that light, it’s much easier to walk away from it. Mainstream news outlets (like Fox News and HuffPost), however, have the same modus operandi: largely fiction masquerading as truth presented for the instant gratification of viewers. Except that the news doesn’t operate under the same pretensions as pornography: it doesn’t portray itself as fantasy. With porn, in theory at least (there are some strange people out there), there’s supposed to be a “release”. The viewer gets the satisfaction that he (or she) needs. With the news however, it’s like watching porn without the orgasm. It gets one all worked up and nowhere to go. So there’s millions of people walking around with metaphorical blue balls. That has an effect on our attitudes. I have coworkers that will be pissed off all day if Donald Trump has a bad day. I would get pissed off if I read something bad from one of the many sources I frequented. I would get pissed off at some middle-aged white guy for simply being a middle aged white guy. One cannot live like that.

President Donald Trump is like heroin for our current news cycle. He cannot be escaped. There’s no one out there that thinks of Trump and goes “meh, don’t care.” And these opinions, from both the left and right, were driving me crazy. I couldn’t do it anymore. But Trump has exposed the news for what it is: it’s a joke. They want us to be perpetually pissed off so that we’ll keep tuning in. This was true before Trump, but now it’s abundantly clear. The news is a drug, and if I learned anything from DARE, it’s this: “just say no.”

I’ve even avoided opinion pieces from Salon, National Review, The Week, and others. I also cut Chapo Trap House and other leftist podcast from my listening routines.

Has it worked? Am I happier, fulfilled, and better connected to my community?

Well, honestly it’s too early to say one way or another. So far I’m not as pissed as I once was. But it’s a process. I’m still learning to connect with others in my community.

There’s also the question of disconnecting from current events/political discourse. Is that a good way of connecting with friends and neighbors? Shouldn’t one be engaged in current events in order to maintain social awareness? To be clear, I’m not advocating apathy (although you’re within your right to be so). I’m just expressing criticism and protest against the explosion of the 24-hour news cycle and how online culture fosters such debates.

If they’ve degraded our sense of awareness, then they’ve been of no benefit at all. That doesn’t mean that the internet is a curse….we just have to reassess our attitudes towards technology.

Jesus of Nazareth: Proto-Marxist

window church crucifixion church window
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

EVERYONE hates the question: was Jesus a Marxist?

Christians don’t want to believe their founder was a pinko. Marxist would rather not entertain the thought that the founder of something they’ve traditionally rallied against might’ve agreed with them.

But more importantly, the answer is obvious: No. Marx showed up 1800 years after Christ. Jesus couldn’t have possibly been a Marxist.

But is that the question?

Introduction

I’ve been obsessing over this problem for the last week. It caught my attention when I noticed that there were many MANY people in my DSA that are Christian. Additionally, atheism is growing among conservatives. The religious/political dynamic has flipped in the US. Leftist/Liberals are increasingly becoming religious, while conservatives are growing away from it. It’s either that, or religion is becoming less homogenized to one side. So this question was proposed.

Naturally, everybody wants to dismiss it for the very obvious answer that I previously stated. But this led me to ask a whole host of questions: is Marx necessary for Marxism? Did Karl Marx ‘invent’ it or ‘discover’ it? Do we say that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz “invented” calculus? Were the processes of capitalism already beginning during the time of Jesus Christ, and was he and his followers in some ways (albeit unknowingly) responding to these processes? If it wasn’t Karl Marx, would it have been someone else that would have conceptualized “Marxism”…therefore making it a natural reaction to the forces of capital? So once when the question was dismissed, it left me with more questions.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m not an expert in ANYTHING, so feel free to call me out. But in short, I felt that the question “was Jesus a Marxist?” to have a degree of merit. ESPECIALLY since certain Marxist circles embrace Spartacus, who led a slave revolt against the Romans about 100 years before Christ’s death and ministry, as an icon. Sure, Spartacus’s existence is far more easily verifiable that Jesus’s, but Jesus’s ideals were far more revolutionary. (The ideals and motivations of Spartacus aren’t well known. His revolt put a good scare into Roman society, but it didn’t appear to be “revolutionary” in any way. Although, as a former slave/gladiator, Spartacus’s intentions likely aren’t hard to figure out.) But if Spartacus can be deemed a Leftist/Marxist hero, perhaps Jesus of Nazareth isn’t getting his due.

(Additionally, it should be noted, that Jesus and Spartacus’s followers faced the same fate.)

Jesus of Nazareth: All Too Human

Of course, Jesus wasn’t a political ideologue insofar as we can tell….at least not political in any sense that we recognize today. He was a religious figure addressing (again, insofar as we can tell) religious issues. Christ wasn’t an economist. So the question “was Jesus a Marxist?” might be misleading. Perhaps a better question might be “was Jesus an egalitarian undermining certain class structures of his time?” therefore making him a proto-Marxist. When refining those search terms, I mostly found that scholars were projecting onto Jesus their current biases. So of course Jesus wasn’t an “egalitarian”, his views mostly aligned with mainstream religious thought at the time, the only thing revolutionary about him was his theology. Whatever. My search could have stopped there. But a common problem that most scholars and researchers were making, in my view (at least to the sources that I found, both academic and religious), were that they were failing to asses Jesus Christ as a product of his era.

What do I mean by that?

Of course, any scholar worth their salt should be able to assess the life of Christ in an impartial way. Unfortunately, there’s SO much working against that. We divide history by birth of Christ. It’s 2018 because, in theory, it’s 2,018 years after the birth of Jesus. When some evaluate Jesus as an historical figure, they still portray him as someone that fell out of the sky. In the West, we’ve heard stories of this guy since childhood. Christianity has so dominated western culture that it’s impossible to be altogether impartial towards the study of its history (that is, if you’re a scholar raised in the West). Whatever philosophies inspired by Christian thought likely, directly or indirectly, influenced Karl Marx (of course, defer to the experts on that one). So it’s necessary to look at Jesus of Nazareth as a product of his time.

In our atheist and conspiracy-laden internet landscape, it’s popular to dismiss Jesus as a myth, a fabricated character. If true, that would raise more questions than it answers, namely why would followers choose to create a regular person that was killed rather than say…a king or a warrior? Other than the miracles, there’s nothing particularly interesting about the life of Jesus in the surviving accounts. If we take away the supernatural aspects to the Gospels, what we find is a regular guy, a carpenter, that goes from town to town preaching and gains a few followers until he shows up in Jerusalem, angers the authorities, and is crucified. Cool story, right? Since there’s nothing particularly too outrageous (other than the miracles) in these accounts….in fact, this could be considered downright embarrassing to the followers since he was crucified and killed….in all likelihood, Jesus was a REAL person.

Historians generally agree that these two things happened: Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and, as we all know, he was crucified. Other than general historical consensus, I am basing my opinions mostly on the Gospel of Mark. This Gospel is almost certainly the oldest surviving account, written roughly 30 years after the death of Jesus (I personally think it was written later, but that’s a different story). The game of “telephone” explains why I dismiss the later accounts of Matthew, Luke, and John.  Early in the Book of Mark, Jesus is baptized and then disappears into the wilderness. John the Baptist is imprisoned not long after. It is not clear if John is taken captive DURING Jesus’s adventures in the wilderness or right AFTER his return. Nevertheless, I’ve always found it strange that these two events occurred at roughly the same time. Like Jesus, John the Baptist probably existed and probably had a significant following. Unlike Josephus’s 1st Century account of Jesus, the account of John the Baptist is largely undisputed….meaning there’s more independent, scholarly consensus of John the Baptist’s existence than Jesus’s. So, John likely created as big of a ruckus as Jesus would later do. There is much debate over whether or not Jesus was a follower of the Baptist. Clearly he was baptized, but was he a disciple? If we assume that Jesus was NOT born under any special circumstance, as in no one claimed that he was the “Son of God” during his lifetime or before the death of John, then the question has an obvious answer: yes. Jesus, in all likelihood, was a disciple of John the Baptist. Even Herod, upon learning of Jesus, thought that he was John the Baptist resurrected. Therefore, Jesus didn’t go into the wilderness to be “tempted”…he was in hiding after John’s imprisonment and subsequent execution. True, this is based on an account written over 30 years after the death of Jesus….BUT the death of John the Baptist at least provides a degree of motivation for Jesus’s ideals and motivations (likely conceived during his hiding in the wilderness).

John the Baptist

I’d argue that we can’t understand Jesus without understanding John the Baptist. Unfortunately, there’s not much to go one here either. It is highly speculated that he was an Essene. The Essenes were a Jewish sect that, supposedly, lived semi-ascetic lives and embraced communal living. There’s plenty of scholarly work regarding the existence of the Essenes, but almost no evidence regarding their connection to John the Baptist. Again, this is all speculation. But I point this out to illustrate the possible influences on Jesus. Jesus was a Jew, and he must be understood in that light. He most certainly did not predict the rise of a new religion centered around him and he absolutely did not receive his theology from any sort of “divine intervention”. Jesus was influenced by someone and John the Baptist (and by extension, the Essenes) are a strong candidate…especially since many scholars believe Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher.

As for the Essenes, to an extent, it’s easy to see their “proto-Marxist” or “communist” views with their anti-materialist and communal living. From here, I can only speculate. It’s impossible to determine where their views were coming from (but honestly, I didn’t do much research on these guys. So maybe it isn’t impossible). Judaism at this time was heavily influenced by Hellenism, so it isn’t unreasonable to assume that certain Greek schools of philosophy were bleeding into Jewish practice. It’s entirely possible that Jesus wasn’t ideologically influenced by John the Baptist or the Essenes at all, but by the Greeks directly (it’s unlikely). We’ll never know. But information is scarce regarding the roots of “egalitarian” thought…a term that I’m using very broadly here, but what I mean is “equality of all peoples”. “Liberal theory” is of course traceable back to the Ancient Greeks. But in western thought at the time, egalitarian beliefs weren’t so prevalent. The East, particularly in India…namely Jainism….such ideas were common place. Although we make a distinction between East and West, it is very likely that ideas were flowing back and forth between India and the Greco/Roman world. To what extent they would have influenced Jesus and/or Judaism is unknown, but the image that we have of Jesus being an egalitarian “revolutionary” would not have been new…these were ideas that were flowing around long before him.

The Crucifixion

Was Jesus a class warrior? Well….let’s look at the only other piece of evidence regarding the life of Jesus: the crucifixion. The Romans used crucifixion as a means of punishment for enemies of the state. This means the powers that be would have had to of seen Jesus as a genuine threat. It’s highly unlikely that the Gospels, including Mark, were accurate in their recreation of this event. Pontius Pilate was probably all too happy to send Jesus to his death. The Romans crucified Jesus, even the Gospels agree, yet strangely the Jews get blamed.  It’s unknown what role the Jewish authorities had in regards to the apprehension of Jesus (a story for another day), but what we can say with absolute authority is that the Romans signed, sealed, and fostered Jesus’s crucifixion. Whatever story the Gospels try to sell in this regard is nonsense. So it’s interesting to ponder the effect that Roman intrusion had on Jewish society (Again, defer to the experts). It’s safe to assume that it caused deep rifts within its cultural hierarchy. And understandably so. Some, particularly those at the top, might’ve benefited from Roman presence while others, like those at the bottom in Jesus’s class, might’ve resented this. Was there a feeling among the poorer Jews that the authorities “sold them out?” (feel free to chime in) Were there feelings of disillusionment or a loss of Jewish identity during this time? If so, then it’s no wonder why there were so many apocalyptic preachers appearing….Jewish culture was in the midst of a socio-economic crisis. We can say with relative certainty that Jesus was not of nobility. He was an average joe. Had he been of any higher order, it’s possible that his actions would have been better documented. But because he was a nobody, the educated, or those that knew how to read and write, took no notice of his actions. Nevertheless, despite his nobody status, Jesus mobilized a group of fellow nobodies which Roman authorities perceived to be a genuine threat. It’s either that or because these insurrectionaries were so commonplace, the Romans simply crucified individuals for the most minor offenses as a means of deterring others. Whatever the case, because he was crucified, it’s entirely possible that Jesus’s intentions were to disrupt the established order….and he (likely) wanted to use the poor to do so.

But Jesus as an “apocalyptic preacher” would mean that he wasn’t a class revolutionary of any sort. It would have meant that he was more of a proto-David Koresh than Vladimir Lenin. If so, then he was just a lunatic on the fringes of Jewish society whose message would take off decades later. That is, unless we want to consider the possibility of the mysterious Q source.

What was the Q Source?

As stated earlier, the Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the canonical gospels. It was written some 30-40 years after the death of Jesus. The epistles of Paul actually predate the gospels (I Thessalonians is, I believe, the oldest surviving New Testament work). In fact, it’s not certain that Paul knew anything about the life of Jesus. Paul’s interpretation of Christianity might’ve, to a certain degree, influenced the theology and Christology presented in the gospels. Therefore, Christianity as a religion today is largely the creation of the Apostle Paul and NOT Jesus of Nazareth. However, early Christians right after the crucifixion almost certainly used particular documents or oral traditions to recall the message of Jesus. Unfortunately, NONE of these sources survive. Moreover, nothing is ever mentioned about them in any other source. Therefore we can only provide speculation on their existence. But there is one source, the Q Source, that scholars almost universally agree upon. Better yet, we know what was contained in the source (if it in fact existed). Scholars know this by comparing the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and discovering that they shared Mark as a source, but there’s another source that Matthew and Luke used that Mark did not. From this, Q was hypothesized. (There’s a lot more to this that I won’t go into here. But it’s a fascinating theory, and I highly recommend you research this.)

Scholars generally believe that was not a narrative, but was instead a collection of sayings from Jesus. Which sayings would they have contained? Well…The Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor….), The Golden Rule, Parable of the Leaven, the Lost Sheep, etc, to name a few. It’s uncertain when this source was written. All we can say was that it was composed before the writing of Matthew and Luke (roughly 80-90 CE). Some believe that it might’ve existed in it’s earliest form right after the crucifixion in the 30s and completed during the 50s. If true, then the earliest (conceptualized) depictions of Jesus was not so much as an apocalyptic preacher, but as a sage teacher with a religious bent. He wasn’t as radical as say David Koresh, but not quite a revolutionary either. This would have placed Jesus down the line of a Buddha or Socrates.

So the obvious question is why didn’t this text survive, and why didn’t anybody else mention it? Defenders of this theory explain that once when it was incorporated with context into the gospels, it wasn’t necessary to preserve it especially since it was likely copied verbatim. As to why it was never mentioned, I don’t have a good enough answer. My expertise and desire to research is limited. But I can say that early Christianity was quite fragmented. The leading New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman states that it wasn’t so much “early Christianity” but “early Christianities”. Which would be odd considering the seeds of this Christian movement would have come from a relatively small group of followers. What happened to Jesus’s followers immediately after the crucifixion is a great mystery. Did the surviving “11 Apostles” (or Jesus’s inner circle. I say 11 because Judas would have been dead by this time) ever reconvene to hash out the theological details of Jesus’s ministry and decide to spread the word? Evidence would suggest a hard ‘no’. Since early Christianity was so fragmented, this would suggest that there was chaos immediately after the crucifixion. There were probably power struggles over command of the movement. This would account for the wide ranging interpretations and probable conflicts. The Q source might not have been available to, or fully accepted by, the various schools of thought that were blossoming in early Christendom. It wouldn’t have been until the arrival of Paul, or even the Gospel of Mark, that Christianity began to coalesce around a “proto-Orthodox” movement…which would have later provided the illusion theological consistency within Christ’s teachings (there are infamously many contradictions and variations within the canonical New Testament, even in the writings of Paul).

Granted, the Q Source might not have existed or have been a single source. However, it would be difficult to accept that the first written sources of Jesus didn’t appear until 20 years after the crucifixion, as in the writings of Paul, and 30-40 years as in the Gospel of Mark. There were absolutely other (likely written) sources floating around very early, none of which survive today, that would have had to of existed. And analytical research of these sources suggests that Jesus wasn’t all gloom and doom. (These apocalyptic interpretations were applied to Jesus around the build-up to and during the Jewish Revolt of 66-73CE which involved the destruction of the Second Temple. Correct me if I’m wrong though).

Conclusion

So was Jesus a “proto-Marxist”? There’s no hard evidence to support that. The conceptual evidence would suggest that Jesus wasn’t as apocalyptic as previously hypothesized and he likely had egalitarian leanings with his views on poverty (and presumed disdain for the rich). But I’m having to stretch the interpretation of “Marxism” and the conceptual evidence to agree with one another. We can view Jesus as a “sage teacher”, but in my view he was a religious leader addressing religious needs first and foremost.

But perhaps I’m missing the point.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be assessing the historical Jesus of Nazareth as a Marxist hero, but should be appreciating him for what he ushered in. Or rather what his early followers ushered in. It’s amazing that the beliefs of small group of poor people, living in the armpit of the Roman Empire, managed to shape Western Civilization. Despite some of the heartache that Christianity would bring about in subsequent centuries, I suppose we can consider the religion a “proletarian triumph” of sorts. “Salvation for All”, regardless of race, seems like a pretty revolutionary (though not new) idea. It’s pretty cool that it was all brought about by some inconsequential dude (or people) in some inconsequential part of the world….and we are still talking about it.

So no, I don’t think that Jesus of Nazareth was Marxist, but I do think the question holds a degree of merit. And a Marxist interpretation of Jesus’s life and times, along with early Christianity, is certainly valid.

Breaking America

Anna Gunn recently discussed the hatred her character received during her time on Breaking Bad.

AMC had one hell of a run with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead (a show that should have been put out of its misery seasons ago). In my view, all three of those shows shared a common theme: they centered on a white guy dealing with sudden changes. Don Draper was trying to lose himself in consumerism, and conceal his past, during the transitional decade of the 1960s. Walter White infamously made his descent from a meek high school teacher into drug overlord. And while less discussed, Rick Grimes too followed the Walter White arc into darkness by embracing the very evil he was initially fighting against. The Walking Dead is a bit more explicit in its appeal to white male/libertarian fantasy: it’s a world where society has collapsed and “might makes right”. This amoral sentiment is very much echoed in Breaking Bad, although viewers lost track of that during its initial run. (However TWD is nowhere near as an intelligent as BB, hence fans turned on Rick as where they embraced Walter White). This is why fans hated Skyler: she got in the way of her husbands nihilistic turn.

Out of all of those shows, Walter White best encapsulated that white male rage which would later turn mainstream during the 2016 elections. Don Draper was too high society and Rick’s concerns were too over-the-top to be relatable. White’s, however, were all too real: a cancer-stricken teacher that never lived the life he wanted.

It’s no wonder then why fans reacted so viscerally to Skyler (although she often played along with her husband’s deranged fantasies) She stood in the way of Walter’s fulfillment, of his entitlement. She symbolized what many white men feared: emasculation. In many ways, Gunn was perfectly cast. Her relatively similar height to Bryan Cranston likely contributed to audiences feeling intimidated by her. Much was made of the Walter/Jesse relationship, but it was Walter/Skyler relationship that also contributed to the show’s distinctiveness. Skyler was as much of an obstacle for Walter White to foil as all the other villains he came across. So she was a hindrance to his “entitlement”.

But he felt entitled to kill and manipulate. Despite the creators long losing sympathy for Walter, audiences overwhelmingly sided with him. Because Walter White was paralleling the projection that many American men were feeling.