“Be a Man”: A History of Violence

Another school shooting. More dead kids. More defensive posturing over the ownership of assault weapons. More grieving parents. More traumatized kids. And we all know next to nothing will be done about it.

My apologies for arriving late to this conversation.

I hate guns. I believe that I’ve beat that horse to death in this blog. If you feel the need to own one, I’m sorry that you have to live under such terrible conditions that you feel that you must possess something that will protect you. If you don’t live under life or death conditions and own a gun, then you’re just a paranoid lunatic that has a shitty hobby. Either way, guns are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill. I don’t like killing. I don’t want people to get killed. I especially don’t want people to get killed by being shot with an assault rifle. So, it’s understandable as to why I hate guns.

By the way, I’ve been accused of “preaching” in this blog. This is the internet. If you feel like you’re being “preached” at, then that’s no one’s fault but your own. I’m not *making* you read this blog.

Besides, it’s not like anyone’s going to take your guns. You have the barrel of your rifle so far up the asses of politicians that they’re too afraid you might pull the trigger. You shouldn’t be terrified of the anti-gun crowd. They’re all terrified of you.

But I’m not here to talk about guns. I’m here to talk about the mentality of owning one.

Michael Ian Black’s response to the recent school shooting: “boys are broken.” Of course, this response received considerable backlash from conservative media that would rather see him just be a celebrity than have an opinion on anything. But with the attention he’s been getting, he must’ve hit on something.

After all, that is the root of the problem isn’t it?

I’m not a stats guy. I’m not going to bore you with research. If you want to verify my claims…again…this is the internet, feel free to research this yourself. But regarding mass shootings, the shooter is almost ALWAYS a male and (somewhere, I read) about 80% of all gun-related casualties are men.

I grew up white and middle class. I was never the toughest kid. But I ended up in fights where I usually got my ass kicked (once by a teacher). Even in the relatively calm realm of white middle-class, violence itself is something a male kid has to reckon with.

For one reason or another, I joined the Army before I graduated high school. The military embraces these bitter, hardened youths…and understandably so. The Army is an institution dedicated to protecting its nation through organized violence. Those that were pre-conditioned to know their way around a weapon and capable in hand-to-hand combat found their footing quite easily. Even in basic training, where such skills were to be instilled in fresh recruits, there was seemingly little patience for those not accustomed to these tactics by both fellow recruits and the cadre. Either the soldier began to fit in with other angry youths, or they were ostracized. The Army as a whole doesn’t operate like basic training, but basic training does get one prepared for the bitter, angry existence of military life.

When I joined, the Army was in the throes of the Iraq War. Soldiers were returning with PTSD and suicide rates were skyrocketing. While veterans were finding sympathy in the civilian world and from the chain of command, the life of the enlisted soldier that experienced depression and suicidal ideation seldom found sympathy from their peers. When taught courses on suicide prevention, the classes were widely mocked within the NCO class who felt such soldiers had no business wearing the uniform. Times change of course,  the US Army today might be unrecognizable from the one I was a member of.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for women in the armed services during that time.

Truth be told, never at any point did I fit in with this strictly military crowd. Although I stated previously that fumbling my military career was one of my biggest mistakes, upon reflection I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to succeed there. I was never strong, manly, or commanding enough (and a horrible shot) to ever be happy. So in actuality, my biggest mistake was not, upon graduation from high school, wondering America and discovering what I was good at. But the fact that I chose the military route created this awareness of a specific kind of person: the gun-toting, bitter, “alpha male” that expects everyone to kowtow to their demands.

I have lived in the South/Midwest nearly my entire life, which is the natural habitat for this kind of guy. But, I imagine he can be found almost anywhere in America. Being a weakly boy growing up that didn’t want to get his ass kicked, I learned that empathy is a good way of defusing a situation. During my brief tenure as a driver manager for a trucking company (another industry that attracts these guys), there was a difficult driver that would deliberately insult anyone that he talked to. Finally, after I gained control of the situation by insulting the shit out him (something I did not enjoy), I deployed empathy to gain understanding of him and we soon were on friendly terms. But then it occurred to me: this guy doesn’t want to be this way. He was just that way because he knew of no other way to be.

And therein lies the problem.

Growing up, on into adulthood…every man is conditioned to consider the possibility of violence, in some cases everyday, either committed by themselves or others. These gun-toting “alpha males” are taught (either by their family, lack of family, or proper support) that in order to survive in this world, you must prepare yourself for violence. Often that means being the one to strike first. The logic being that violence is the only guarantee in life, therefore we must ensure that we’re the victors. And when all we see is violence, it’s hard to imagine a world without it.

“But what about school shooters?”

The most recent one in Florida doesn’t really fit the definition of “alpha male”, but he was most certainly bitter and carrying guns probably allowed him to feel powerful…like he was an “alpha”. I didn’t know the kid personally, but I can certainly understand what it’s like to be 19 (and unsuccessful with women): fantasies of being powerful, of being capable of committing violence (which usually involved firearms), of being attractive to the opposite sex. How do you think I became such a fan of James Bond? But what if you actually had access to assault weapons? Suddenly your fantasies can become reality, especially if have “enemies” that did you wrong.

And this glorification of male violence is found everywhere. I’m especially guilty of this. My many mentions of James Bond is a testament to that. Our ideal man is calm, cool, and capable of overpowering his enemies. Many of us recoil at the idea of an emotional man. I recall guys like Dick Vermeil and John Boehner constantly being mocked for their crying in front of cameras. “Be a man” I heard, as if men shouldn’t have the ability to cry. “Don’t cry, don’t be a quitter”, I heard a mother yell at her boy on the beach. Although we resist the violence committed by men, we still want our men to be capable of doing it.

As we are going through an era where we re-evaluate our conceptions of women, it is long past due to re-evaluate our conceptions of men. In fact, many of the problems women face in the world….and indeed, many of the problems the WORLD faces in general…are due to men.

So please, because our politicians are too afraid to stand up to the assault weapons crowd (and understandably so, I might add), raise your boys better.

Redux Vol. II: Don’t Get Angry, Be a Psychopath!

new artwork

I’m a shitty person.

I know that.

I was going to quit writing altogether and try my hand at some REAL work. I was going to become a truck driver. That’s right, a fucking truck driver. All I had to do was pass a few course and then BAM…you have a CDL.

I’ve tried my hand in the trucking industry twice now. It was a mistake both times. The first go-around I was hired to be a driver manager. The second, I tried to be a DRIVER. The problem I ran into was the same problem I had when in the Army: I hated everyone.

If you’re a person like me, a rather unmanly couldn’t-give-a-shit kind of guy, you’re not going to get along with anybody if you choose trucking or the military as a career path. They’re both populated with pissed off men living pissed off lives that have no patience for anyone that isn’t innately knowledgeable about firing a rifle or operating a diesel engine. For trucking school in this instance, no one wanted to teach it so I demanded my money back.

One would have thought that I’d have this shit figured out by now. Not trucking, but life. I go through these cycles where things improve and then things come crashing down again. Next thing I know, I’m back here writing a blog post about how big of a fuck up I am.

Perhaps the lesson I should learn is: never stop writing.

Everyone wants to be a writer. I know that. Everyone thinks they can write. I’ve never pretended to be a good writer. I hardly understand the English language. BUT, it’s all I know and it’s really the only thing I want to do.

Unfortunately, I have to drift from job to job to support this habit. I’ve become the Henry Chinaski of Factotum (only Chinaski took his job hopping with greater humor than I ever could). Someone might say: “keep your head up good chap! (because in my mind, it’s a British person saying this) there’s a job out there for you, you just got to keep trying!”. Well, unless that job wants to pay me to surf the internet all day, I’m not interested.

That’s typical millennial thinking: wanting something for nothing.

Welp, guilty as charged!

But here in the West (at least), we’re conditioned to be corporate slaves…told to seek the right “skills” that are subject to change whenever our overlords deem necessary, and when we can’t keep up then we deserve whatever fate comes our way. The shit-wheel keeps on spinning and there’s no sense in trying to stop it…at least we’re told. Ideals are for the weak. The strong contribute to the wheels of injustice and climb to its highest echelons. “Don’t get angry”, we’re told by some stock trading service, “join the ranks of the corporate overlords by investing in shitty companies!”. And on and on the world madly spins, where the majority gets shat on while psychopaths govern the world’s wealth.

“Don’t get angry! Become a psychopath!”

I don’t like that world. I can envision a better one. There are many others that can as well. Myself along with countless millennials have been accused of defeatism because of our perceived weak-willed nature regarding the state of affairs. We’re told to embrace the madness rather than try to change it. If that’s defeatism, then so be it. But I can make the same accusation against those that defend the status quo. These defenders, possibly knowing the ill-effects of the system they benefit from, would rather cower behind the only world they know rather than attempt to change it. That’s far more defeatist than anything I’ve done. Want to change the world? We must throw a stick into the spokes…at the very least, we must say “I won’t play this game any longer”.

Or to quote Angela Davis: “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

Nevertheless, here I am. Another lesson learned: don’t waste time with things that don’t work.

I’m back. Hopefully for good. 

For the last couple of weeks, I had this profile on private. I needed time to decide what I was going to do with it. Obviously, I had a career crisis.

But, I’ve changed some things. I changed the layout and I’m working on the artwork. We’ll see how that goes. 

Predicting the Super Bowl

For the first time in several years, I don’t care about this year’s Super Bowl. Whenever New England is on the field, things get a tad bit predictable.

So I need a reason to watch it. I’m going to make few predictions about it, and we’ll see how much of it will come true.

  1. The Patriots get the ball on the opening drive which will result in a three-and-out. The Eagles will subsequently get the ball. Nick Foles will drive down field and throw a touchdown to Jay Ajayi.
  2. In the opening half, Jay Ajayi will have two touchdowns: one receiving, and one on the ground.
  3. Also in the first half, Nick Foles will be nearly perfect: two touchdowns and over 200 yards through the air.
  4. Eagles defense will overwhelm Tom Brady in the first half. He will be sacked 2+ times and throw for under 50% and 89 yards SPECIFICALLY.
  5. Despite the rough start for the Patriots offense, they will score 10 points in the first half. Stephen Gostkowski will kick the lone fieldgoal in the game.
  6. Halftime score: Eagles-21, Patriots-10
  7. Justin Timberlake will take a knee during the halftime show.
  8. The Eagles will not score in the second half.
  9. Despite having an aggressive offense, the Eagles will become questionably conservative in the second half by relying heavily on a ground-and-pound game
  10. With 8 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the score 24-21 New England, Nick Foles will attempt a slow game-winning drive. On fourth and long in their own territory, and within field goal range to tie the game, Doug Pederson calls for a pass play. With the Patriots defense in a state of confusion, the Eagles snap the ball. Foles sees Nelson Agholor down the seam WIDE THE FUCK OPEN. Foles launches the ball towards Agholor, and seemingly out of nowhere, Malcolm Butler crashes into the receiver, jarring the ball loose and up into the air….and into the hands of some unknown Patriots defender.
  11. After the turnover, New England still has to move the ball in order to win the game. However, Eagles defense becomes unglued and penalties move the ball for the New England offense. Tom Brady milks the clock for a Patriots win.

The Truth About Right and Wrong

branches&creatures

To really accept a side in modern political discourse means to accept a grand state of deniability. In fact, that’s probably true throughout history. Nevertheless, it’s disappointing.

Here in the United States, which is seeing an upheaval with its custom Right-Left dynamics, it is especially painful to engage in any sort of movement or read any news publication. “Nobody is right, if everybody’s wrong”, as Dusty Springfield explained to us. Although I have traditionally aligned with the Left, that increasingly gets harder to do with each passing moment.

The Left is still tied down by its neoliberal chains. Even the so-called “Democratic Socialist” movement that sprang up in the wake of Bernie Sanders is having trouble escaping this. Its concerns lie primarily with mainstream liberal appeal rather than working class unification. Its members consist of coffee house hipsters from top-tier universities and liberal arts colleges that may well experience hardships of the millennial generation, but they hardly understand the lower and working class people that they claim to be fighting for. It’s difficult to take their position seriously when they really don’t take their OWN position seriously.

But this is par for the course within the bleeding heart Left. The real transformation is occurring on the Right.

In my last post, I criticized Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro (the two “philosophers” on the Right, although what they’re doing is hardly philosophy) for disguising the fact that they are basically nerds that are upset because everyone wants to violate Western “Canon”. Remember how Star Wars nerds were so PISSED when the Last Jedi came out and it supposedly tried to “kill” everything that they loved about Star Wars? It’s the same argument for Peterson and Shapiro, only they’re expanding that argument to include EVERYTHING. That’s, in part, how they became famous…they argued that because science has confirmed that there are only TWO sexes (established “canon”), that our brains and society should continue to uphold strict adherence to the “two sexes” rule, otherwise everything we do flies in the face of established “fact”, and traditional meaning breaks down to the point where anything can mean anything, and we can’t engage in typical political discourse, etc, etc. To Peterson and Shapiro, we have to have these meanings, and these meanings have to be emanating from somewhere….specifically a metaphysical (or “supernatural”) universality. They CANNOT handle that our minds, and our minds alone, create meaning and this meaning does not hold any metaphysical or supernatural significance, but is simply a normal cognitive process of establishing ORDER (as an evolutionary function) that is found in not only humans, but animals as well (and this sense of ORDER can become oppressive to traditionally non-conforming elements in society, especially if its enacted on a political scale, which is what postmodernism is essentially warning against and what Jordan Peterson didn’t understand). That’s basically my criticism in a nutshell.

So in many ways, traditional conservativism and liberalism hasn’t changed at all. HOWEVER, the Right has been the side that’s asking questions. The Left meanwhile, has little understanding of why it does anything. This explains why Ben Shapiro can go onto any network (although he strangely prefers college campuses) and win any debate because he understands this odd lack of intellectual curiosity occurring on the Left. The Liberal MO is seemingly to pound the table and yell INEQUALITY and accuse any of its detractors of bigotry. That might be effective to a point, but it will quickly fall apart if the person pounding the table doesn’t understand why he or she is doing it. All Shapiro has to do is throw out a few “facts” out there and watch you get flustered. I believe that Dennis Prager (another Conservative columnist) has picked up on this. The Left, specifically the white, cultured, educated Left, (think Mark Ruffalo) will jump onto any “feel good” movement, calls those they disagree with “bigots”, and not welcome any sort of questioning…either from themselves or others. People are beginning to see right through that. Despite the fact that everyone, both the Left and the Right, hate Donald Trump (the Right simply sees him as their “useful idiot”), the Right has quietly scored some points within the intelligentsia LARGELY because the Left has failed to take a critical look at itself (thanks to feel-good neoliberalism).

Leftism has seemingly become an insular ideology, one that has reached the air of self-congratulations. Journalism, academia, and those that populate liberal circles often praise themselves and the important role that they serve within society. Universities have become strongholds of Leftism, providing its students a cocoon to shield them from the dangers of real-world problems. Meanwhile, the working class see the Left embrace this form of elitism (especially when they brush of any sort of questioning from their opponents) and fail to see how their ideas are supposed to help them. As a result, the working class has become divided, and instead of attempting to unite them, the Left leans into its own bravado allowing division, racism, and bigotry to fester: all qualities that they supposedly wants to eliminate.

This infamously generated a confederation of disgruntled young, mostly male, and mostly white individuals to rush the internet and troll the liberal busy bodies that can find injustice in a bouquet of flowers. Some the “intellectuals” that champion these trolls, to include Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, hold disdain towards their own audience (such a conversion, if I can recall correctly, was held in the YouTube video I previously posted). What these trolls fail to understand is that they are essentially fighting against the same elitist “matrix” that the SJWs are combating (if they were smart enough to understand that). This matrix (for a lack of a better description) would rather see the non-elites divided than united. The internet trolls, the working class, the social justice warriors, and Twitter Heroes are all essentially on the same side but because we’re stuck in this postmodern ignorance, we see each other as the enemy.

Jordan Peterson and Misunderstanding ‘Postmodernism’

I enjoyed my two weeks off. I would have liked my indefinite hiatus to have continued, but then a Canadian psychologist named Jordan Peterson became famous and I couldn’t remain silent any longer.

In the video above, Peterson takes a lot of shots at postmodernism and how it created, I suppose, a tyranny of uncertainty…where anything can mean anything. That’s fine, I mean go ahead and join the long list of those who have trashed it over the last half century. Nothing new was said in his criticism. As a general theory of practice, postmodernism is probably not the most helpful. Simultaneously, I challenge Peterson’s understanding of the subject he criticizes.

If there’s one thing that people HATE, it’s uncertainty…it’s contradiction…a lack of continuity. Want to piss someone off quickly? Just give them contradictory answers and watch them flip shit. The mind, I suppose any mind, seeks order. And when that order is broken, many want to believe that chaos ensues, but that’s not true every time. Usually order is quickly restored because, well….that’s the natural “order” of the universe. It takes a conscious act, usually, to “break” this order, and when one challenges the natural organization of phenomena…I suppose we could state that this is an act of “free will.” But that maybe neither here nor there. The important thing to understand is what causes this order to form in the first place.

If we are to listen to Peterson and (because I’m being nice today) GENTLEMAN sitting in front of him, Ben Shapiro, we might be led to believe that the source of this order is found in some divine or metaphysical force that binds the universe. If we listen and, I suppose, seek the answers of this objective metaphysical power outside of us, then that is where we might find happiness and political unity despite the fact that both Peterson and Shapiro are sometimes assholes when delivering this message.

Peterson and Shapiro both believe in the empirical and logical facts to support such an anti-postmodern disposition. Shapiro infamously states these things every chance he gets. While I haven’t watched or read EVERYTHING that Shapiro has done, he seemingly engages unwittingly in a form “inductivist illusion” which is essentially a fallacy which seeks to understand organizations, movements, and politics by looking at the facts alone. Unaware that the “facts” are essentially irrelevant, it’s the interpretation and application of them that matter, Shapiro’s rapid-fire debate tactics often leave opponents speechless and flustered. Meanwhile Peterson (in the video above), a man of science, seemed to be astonished by a study done on rats which seemed to indicate that they engage in a form of altruistic behavior like humans (he also mentions something about chimpanzees). To these two gentlemen, clearly there is an absolute form of truth out there and denying this “truth” is what will lead to political decay in the West.

To what extent these gentlemen believe that the source of this truth is found in an Abrahamic-like God (although in Shapiro, I suspect quite strongly), I’ll take these guys at their word when they say it’s not necessary to be Christian or a believer to find accordance with this absolute truth. However, although I am unsure to what extent this discussion is found in the video above, I suspect that they do want to support and objective, mind-independent basis for morality and ethics. That was why Peterson cited the study on rats (or maybe it was mice. Doesn’t matter). But here we find another fallacy: Just because humans and animals share certain mental functions, doesn’t mean that there’s some divine or metaphysical power at work. The only “metaphysics” at work would be evolution which would understandably support intraspecies cooperation for survival. It’s why so many animals exhibit altruistic behavior. It’s not a sign that morality is mind-independent and objective, it’s a sign that evolution fucking works. While we should all be thankful that human beings benefited from intraspecies cooperation, and found our code of ethics as a result, what’s so special about the mechanism that caused it? It was simply an unguided force that shaped our minds. We are the way we are because of luck….not because some heavenly force shaped it to be that way.

So what sort of “foundational” ethics are we seeking here? Abide by the laws of evolution? If that’s the case, then we’ve arrived at a dead end because I’m not going to call these guys “Nazis”…and that’s clearly not what they’re aiming at. ALTHOUGH, I would argue, they are advocating for a form of cultural eurocentrism which has quickly found itself under attack in the 21st Century. AND THAT’S what the whole conversation above is about although they are disguising it a very self-absorbed and pseudo-philosophical way.

What the extreme empiricists and positivists (of which I’ll characterize Peterson and Shapiro) have avoided or misunderstood is that the mind guards all. Peterson is a psychologist, and unfortunately I’m not familiar with his entire body of work, but I’ll take a leap of faith and say that he is likely aware of this. But we literally can’t do anything without a mind. I’m not going to go so far as to say that we can’t know ANYTHING, but the perceptions that occur within the mind itself are not genuine perceptions of what Kant calls “things-in-themselves”. The brain isn’t some passive material that the real world imprints itself on…it is very active in organizing and shaping what we perceive to be “reality”. This is introductory philosophy, and something that I’ve said MANY times before, however many thinkers choose to not start here…instead choosing to start deciphering mind-independent reality. Many are uncomfortable with the idea that we are “cut-off” or have partial access to “things-in-themselves”, just read Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, that they choose to dispense with it altogether because they crave certainty as demanded by the mind.

Again, go tell somebody inconsistent or contradictory statements and watch them get pissed in a hurry. Or better yet, go try to disrupt order and see how far that’ll get you.

And, to me, that’s sort of been at the heart of postmodern criticism: we have to have a certain degree of “somethingness” (I suppose) in order to have a conversation.  Otherwise, what’s the point in doing anything? They’re uncomfortable with that degree of uncertainty. They’re too terrified to face the “reality” that lies beyond the veil: nothing. So they believe, with absolute CERTAINTY, the shadows that the mind creates and they grow an infactuation for this “veil” (Zizek’s terminology) because that’s what allows them to do anything.

But there’s nothing there. Yet more importantly, there doesn’t NEED to be anything there in order to anything.

But to people like Peterson, and especially Shapiro, who presumably grew up with this Western, monotheistic veil that says a divine order governs all, they literally can’t fathom a possibility where that veil might be removed. The phantoms of the mind have become their reality. In their minds, they are chasing a truth that exists “out there” because that’s the source of their happiness. Meanwhile, all of their opponents are chasing some form of subjective meaning within themselves.

That’s the source of unhappiness, and because the Left has embraced this form of postmodern chaos, people are flocking to the likes of Peterson and Shapiro. They believe that that’s what validates their opinions, but if true…that their popularity is in part due to Left’s incoherentness…then it only proves that the masses value order and a sense of “objective” meaning over any sort of uncertainty.

No big shock there. If we look at any sort of charismatic movement, that’s exactly what their leaders offer: a sense of meaning and order. And this sense of “meaning and order” can literally be anything…anything that the people need to hear in order to form their sense of self and happiness. But that sense of “meaning and order” doesn’t need to be connected to anything “out there”, it’s totally something that validated within the mind of the individual. You put enough people in a room with the same anxieties, suddenly there’s a “collective anxiety” and this anxiety can be manipulated, both positively and negatively (but usually negatively), by anyone that can claim with enough force that they have the answer. That’s how tyrannies usually start: by forceful claims of objective truth and order.

And, in my opinion, that’s at the heart of postmodernism. It’s detractors, notably Peterson, never seem to understand that.

In Peterson and Shapiro’s hardcore empiricism, we do perceive absolute truth of things-in-themselves…there IS such a thing as MALE and FEMALE….AND there is a metaphysical power that validates our perceptions of reality. Any denial of the things that they perceive as “truth” should be put down or discouraged. But that is the tyranny that postmodernism is essentially warning against. From an empirical perspective, yes there are biological traits that we associate within our minds as “male” and “female”, but there is no “metaphysical” power that suggests it should stay that way forever. Only our minds suggests that they should remain that way. When Peterson and Shapiro argue that we should abide by the laws of “science and biology”, they essentially sound like Star Trek nerds that get upset when the writers break from canon. Again, it’s the violation of order that they can’t stand: because we NEED this order to do ANYTHING. While their language and philosophical talk sounds convincing, it essentially shields the listener from that fact they’re just being inflexible dicks. (and again, they basically just want to defend Eurocentrism)

But they might be proposing a genuine philosophical outlook, albeit one I completely disagree with: the road to happiness means coming to terms with truth. Meanwhile, I say shove your “truth”: embrace uncertainty.

 

Creating a Better World (Part IV): “This is it”

In July of last year, I survived a suicide attempt.

Honestly, on up until today, I never wanted to talk about it. I would have been perfectly happy going to my grave never mentioning it again. But then news broke that Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski had committed suicide. Earlier this week, Rick Springfield discussed a suicide attempt of his own. I felt it would be irresponsible of me to never mention my own attempt ever again.

I’ve also been massively depressed the last few days. This has been my first bout of depression since the attempt. It’s been so bad that I contemplated not tending to this blog ever again…to give up writing altogether. Needless to say, I’ve been quite emotional which is why news of Hilinski hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.

The act of suicide is an uncomfortable discussion. I get it. I’m not even linking this to my personal Facebook page (that I haven’t checked in months) because I know that someone would get overly concerned (I’m not currently suicidal) or others would simply be too bothered by it. But I think it’s time, so here we go:

In July on that fateful day, I had attempted to hang myself in the woods early in the morning. That failed.

I meandered around town, contemplating whether or not to disappear forever or just find a more suitable place to end it all. Finally, I found a hotel room. I was probably drunk and looked disheveled, so I can’t imagine what the lady at the front desk was imagining. But I checked in and decided to nap, sleep it over until I came to a decision.

When I awoke, I decided: “I’m ready to die today.”

I found the hotel stationary and composed three suicide notes addressed to various people. I don’t believe that I have ever expressed the content of those notes to anyone. I’m not sure I ever will. This was probably the hardest part of it all. What does one say to loved ones that are about to get the shock of a lifetime?

Afterwards, I cleaned up and looked at myself in the mirror for the last time. I remember this being quite surreal. “There is no future”, I thought. “This is it”. It was at that moment my emotions shut off…everything became procedural.

I wasted no time. It was obvious what the method was going to be: hanging. I constructed a noose with the bed sheets and I quickly tested the closet rod for sturdiness. When I realized that it could hold my weight, I undressed. For reasons I can’t explain, I thought it fitting that “naked I came into the world, naked I leave”. I put the noose around my neck, said “God forgive me”, and dropped to my knees.

That was it…a wink out of existence.

Where there was something…was now nothing.

Then I awoke on the floor.

There are several thoughts that go through your head when this happens:  “That noose shouldn’t have broke!”, “Where the fuck am I?”, and “Is this Heaven or Hell?”. I was also reminded of Hugh Everett, the founder of the “Many-Worlds Interpretation” within quantum mechanics, who believed that consciousness changes worlds at the moment of death therefore, from the perspective of the individual, consciousness lives on forever. Did I just prove him right? All of those thoughts quickly rushed through my mind.

Then my naked self started bawling on the floor.

What I’ve seldom mentioned to people was that I also shat myself between hanging and falling to the ground which gave a nice gash to the back of my head. Blood was everywhere, which again, made me think what was going through the mind of the front desk lady when she saw me check out crying and bleeding from the head only a couple of hours later.

But I decided to not give suicide a third try. Clearly I wasn’t meant to die that day. Just hours later, I was checked into a psyche ward where I pleasantly spent the next ten days and was afterwards sent to rehab in Houston (where, in case you haven’t read, I dodged a hurricane).

This wasn’t the first attempt I had. I had plenty of suicidal ideation in high school. I remember that I used to fantasize about jumping off a tall building but was too afraid to act on it. Finally, in college, I attempted an overdose which sent me to the hospital where I also spent some time in a psyche ward. It was this event that derailed my military career. But after years of build-up, finally I cracked in college.

In the years between my first attempt and second, images of a noose began to spring up in my mind. I always told myself that I would never attempt suicide again, but when under stress or severe depression, that noose became a comforting image: I could just end it all, at anytime. I believe Rick Springfield said something to the effect that thoughts of suicide was like a lingering friend…it just sticks with you for life. It can even be comforting. I suppose that’s sort of been my case….suicidal thoughts became my retreat…a friend that’s there but you don’t talk about.

I’m not going to say that all suicides are the same, but this could be why some people do it without warning. Hilinski didn’t seem like the kind of kid that would commit suicide, but we don’t talk about these things.

I wish that I had more answers.

As I discussed in my “Creating a Better World” series, we’re broken people. I suppose that there’s a disease of loneliness and desperation permeating the United States. We see this everywhere. It’s in the Opiate Crisis. In the Mental Health crisis. We’re too buried in our phones and social media to interact with one another. We’re too caught up in cheap news to trust each other. It’s easy to point fingers, but these problems won’t go away until we decide, as individuals, to shut the computer, turn off the phone, and look at each other in the eye.

On that note, this is partially why I might be taking a step back from this blog. As weird as it is to say, this thing has been contributing to my depression. I’ve become too concerned with viewership and watching others succeed while I’m middling along. That’s entirely my own fault, but I always told myself that once when I became concerned with views, likes, and follows that I would stop doing it altogether. That shouldn’t be why I’m doing this. But more importantly, I want to practice what I preach. If I want to be a better person in a better world, I have to spend less time around a computer.

I want to thank everyone that’s been following me.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

 

Creating A Better World (Part III): Advice I’d Give My Younger Self

branches&creatures

Everyone’s addicted to something. No one’s happy. Everybody hates each other.

Everyday, I wonder to myself: “how the fuck did we find ourselves in this mess?”

As I said in Part II, there’s a disease polluting the mind of Americans. I don’t know what it’s called. I only see the symptoms.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become overstressed. We decry sleep. And we continue to chase empty pursuits. The biggest lie ever told was that we have to have dreams, and those dreams must consist of owning a home, having a successful career, have a nice vehicle, etc etc. We’re told to be better than the guy next to you. And those dreams are becoming harder to achieve…and we are miserable because of it.

I don’t know how to fix the problem. I doubt the solution lies in better public policy. I only know what I plan to do differently…if only I had been given the advice when I was younger.

Clearly, I can’t change the past. But hopefully younger generations can learn from our mistakes and create a better world.

Here’s what I would tell my younger self:

Go to college because you want to. Not because someone made you feel like a piece of shit if you didn’t go. 

This is an obvious one now. With thousands, if not millions, of people buried under student loan debt, college just doesn’t seem worth it nowadays.

Just a decade ago, this wasn’t so apparent. Then, it was still considered a wise investment.

But even if college was still considered a “wise investment”, would I still advise myself to go? Unlikely. Truthfully, I didn’t want to go. It didn’t even cross my mind to go until I heard a speaker guilt everyone into submitting an application somewhere. I just graduated from high school. I HATED school and was relieved when I graduated. Then I was persuaded to return. Did I know what I wanted to be? No. I was 18 and ready to party. For me, I wasted pivotal years stressing over nonsense. I should have explored the world and figured myself out…not spent it at various institutions writing papers about subjects I didn’t care about.

Do you want the “college experience” minus the bullshit that comes with it? Join the military.

I bring this up because my biggest regret is fumbling my military career. The older I get, the bigger this regret becomes. Had I of given it my full attention rather than being distracted by college, no doubt I could’ve been a great soldier. It’s too late for me now, but don’t have those regrets.

If you know what you want to be and have a passion right out of high school, then fine…go to college. Or if you have a passion that doesn’t involve college, DO THAT instead. But life can’t be experienced at some sterile brick and mortar school. Life can only be experienced by living it.

But if you don’t have passions…that’s okay. You don’t have to have shit figured out by the time you graduate high school. You have your whole life to figure it out.

If only we told high school kids this…

Beware of sociopaths

A very obvious piece of advice.

BUT, this was a very REAL problem for me when I was in my 20s. It was such a problem, that I began to wonder if I was a sociopath.

Truthfully, I was just a weak-minded fool. I placed a little too much emphasis on the opinions of others. That makes one a magnet for sociopaths to infiltrate your social circle and fuck up your life.

How to avoid it? I guess, don’t be a weak-minded fool! But if at any point you have to ask yourself “is this person a sociopath?”, it should be alarming enough that you even have to ask yourself that. Just walk away.

I’m not quite sure how this fits into the “creating a better world” theme…I guess we should just find value in ourselves and not rely on others to provide that value. But I’ll let you figure that one out.

And speaking of “just walking away”….

Just say NO to social media

I wish we could stop pretending that social media has been a positive influence on this world.

Well, let me backtrack…has there been good brought about because of social media? Of course. Does that balance out the overwhelming negative that its created? Absolutely not.

Social media activism is ineffective. I’ll go one step further and tell these activists that the reason why everyone hates their movement is because they use, almost EXCLUSIVELY, social media. Why? Because it allows you to essentially be an armchair activist rather than confront the problem face to face. It reeks of insincerity. It dehumanizes your opponents. And it’s nowhere near as effective as having a conversation with someone that disagrees with you. If you want to implement real change, you go out into the world and you ACT.

The complexities of issues can’t be conveyed in Tweets. And the narcissism that Facebook, Instagram, and others foster run counter to your movement. Want a platform to present your issues? Create a blog or website.

Now that I got that off my chest…the reason I’d tell myself to stay off social media is that it wasted so much of my time. It’s such a misuse of the internet. Hell, I could’ve succeeded in my first few years of college had I not got stuck on Myspace.

Remember that shit?

But you think that everyone is so concerned about the stuff you post. And they aren’t. I’m not kidding…no one cares about your selfie. They’re all too concerned about their own selfie. But this is the state of human interaction: what happens online is more real than true tactile contact.

And these websites love that shit. Less time you physically spend with loved ones is more time you spend on their website. They know that there is nothing more we love than ourselves, so they convinced us to invest more time in our online persona.

And we’ve convinced ourselves that people’s online personas are true representations of that person! So we compare our lives NOT to an actual person, but to some idealized version that that person created. So we’ve become discontent with our own lives because our friends are seemingly happy with their expensive car, house, golden retriever, and supposed “six-figure” income. What we aren’t seeing is that they are probably going through the same struggle you are.

I’d advice my younger self: those hours you spent on Myspace and elsewhere are hours you can’t get back. You weren’t interacting with real people. You were interacting with a fake version of that person. If you want true interaction, a genuine connection with others, you must look at them face to face.

If we want a better world, we must first get offline.

 

Ranking The James Bond DIRECTORS (Part IV): Number 6-Guy Hamilton

Again, before I get back on the track towards philosophy, I’ve got to close out a few things.

This series is one of them, and unfortunately (or fortunately) I’ve still got a ways to go.

The list has gone as follows:

12. Lee Tamahori- Die Another Day

11. Roger Spottiswoode- Tomorrow Never Dies

10. Michael Apted- The World is Not Enough

9. Irvin Kershner- Never Say Never Again

8. John Glen- For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, License To Kill

7. Lewis Gilbert– You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker

And now, without further ado…

6. Guy Hamilton- Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever (DAF), Live and Let Die (LALD), The Man With The Golden Gun (MWGG)

Truth be told, I want to put Guy Hamilton lower on this list.

But I can’t. Goldfinger alone puts him on the top half of the “Dalton (or John Glen) Scale”. So in many ways, we can think of Hamilton as the Eli Manning of James Bond directors: clearly not the best, but the man has two Super Bowl rings so what are you going to do?

And speaking of Goldfinger…while aesthetically it’s one of the most popular films of all time, it’s extraordinarily uncomfortable to watch nowadays. With the way how James Bond treats women, these Connery films deserve all the criticism they receive. Which, in recent years, has led to a direct criticism of Connery himself and his interpretation of Bond.

So when I say that Sean Connery is the best James Bond, clearly that warrants an explanation.

While Connery the man has a questionable history with women, its unknown how much that bled over into his acting. How much power he had over the script I am also uncertain of. It’s entirely possible that it wouldn’t have mattered who was playing James Bond in the 60s…007 would have been a sexist asshole (as he was in the books).

But what makes James Bond an appealing character, and one of the most important in the history of cinema, is that he isn’t some upstanding hero with a solid moral compass. He’s a psychopath….a gambling addict…a womanizer…an alcoholic. One bad decision earlier in life, he would have easily found employment in SPECTRE rather than on Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He’s a bad guy working for the good guys.

This probably wasn’t the intention of the producers in the 1960s. They probably just saw an exciting book series and thought “hey, these would make great movies!”. Connery looked the part of a 60s leading man, and he played that angle well. But he also elevates this caricature into its modern form: Connery doesn’t play 007 as a perfect human being.

Connery knew that James Bond was a blunt killer and doesn’t pretend he’s anything else. When he praised Daniel Craig’s interpretation by saying “he understands the danger aspect”, we could say the same about Connery. And that’s why Connery is the BEST (not my FAVORITE, however), and while fans might not like him, if they can’t understand that aspect to James Bond…then they really don’t understand James Bond!

I don’t know what that has to do with Guy Hamilton, but I digress….

Goldfinger might’ve been the defining film of the 60s, but not much of it holds up. Some of it is downright hilarious. James Bond and Goldfinger both wearing terrycloth jumpers around a pool in Miami? ROFL! “That’s like listening to the Beatles without ear muffs!”. You’re cracking me up Bond! “If that’s his ball, then I’m Arnold Palmer” is strangely my most quoted line from any Bond film. Goldfinger getting sucked out of a plane window? Great stuff. But out of all the Bond films from the 60s, Goldfinger is certainly the most dated.

In fact, Hamilton’s specialty is making exceptionally dated films. Which leads me to DAF…

It was around 1971 when screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz must’ve discovered cocaine. Below Moonraker and Die Another Day, DAF is the most insane Bond film. Certain the most insane of the Connery era. However, DAF might be an example of why Guy Hamilton is a GREAT director: because of the script and things that the producers wanted to put into the movie, Hamilton completely UNDER DIRECTS the film.

In addition to being the one of the craziest films, DAF is also the laziest. I don’t know what the budget was, but clearly it was mostly going into Connery’s pocket. The sets, the music, special effects…literally, EVERYTHING felt like it was half-assed. There must’ve been a sense around the set that everyone was going to make a LOT of money no matter what, so who gives a shit?

Despite Connery getting paid a record sum to return to Bond, it was once again obvious that he would have rather of been somewhere else. Connery was 41 years of age in DAF, yet somehow this is the oldest he ever appeared in any film. But because of his over abundance in charisma, many of Connery’s half-assed decisions paid off.

Most of the movie meanders along from one scene to the next, sometimes without purpose. Hamilton’s directorial style was seemingly simple: set up a camera and let things happen in front of it.

And somehow…it all WORKED. Because DAF just does not GIVE A FUCK, it’s probably my most watched Bond film…once again proving that Guy Hamilton is the Eli Manning of Bond directors: everything works despite itself.

But also like Eli Manning, you’re gonna gets some stinkers.

I know that LALD has its fans. In fact, it was the first Bond film I ever saw. My instant reaction to it: “the fuck is this shit?”. Even as a kid, I felt that having a posh British guy walking around Harlem was odd. Not odd in a good way, but odd in a way that it appeared that the filmmakers didn’t know what they were doing. LALD is also the debut of Roger Moore as Bond. I wasn’t impressed. Nothing against the late, great Roger Moore. Out of all the Bond actors, he’s the one I would have liked to have met the most. But in LALD, his performance felt like I was watching a made-for-television film (I hated typing that sentence, btw). He simply lacked any screen presence. Watching it again as an adult, my biggest criticism of Moore (not just in this film, but his entire tenure as Bond) was that he lacked the all-important “danger aspect”. Nevertheless, audiences responded well to Moore and he brought stability to the franchise. But, as is the case in all Hamilton productions, LALD just doesn’t age well.

There are things it does RIGHT: The villain/henchmen duos are probably one of the best in the series, the theme song is fuckin’ awesome, Jane Seymour is in it, and I’ll just say…although nobody likes her character, Gloria Hendry as Rosie Carver….she’s probably got the best bikini bod in all of James Bond, just go watch that boat scene again. She can point a gun at me all day. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to talking about dude’s bodies as well…wait till I get to Daniel Craig) But overall, Hamilton goes overboard with the campiness.

I said previously that Tomorrow Never Dies is probably the film I’ve seen the LEAST. I stand corrected…MWGG is the one I’ve seen the least. To me, it feels the least like a Bond film. And not in a good way. It was obvious that Moore had yet to grow into the character. He was too angry and I didn’t like watching him beat the shit out of Maud Adams (Moore, by the way…as much as I can recall…was a victim of domestic abuse himself). It wasn’t enjoyable, which explains why I never revisited it. So unfortunately I can’t quite give a thorough analysis of it.

Although Guy Hamilton was clearly not the best director in Bond history, he was there for many of the important events. Which is how he earned the 6th spot.

 

 

 

 

Creating a Better World (Part II): Apologies to David French

But before I “get back on track”, there’s a few things I gotta do.

I have to close out a couple of my multiple-part series, one of which is “Creating a Better World.” In Part II, I need to make things right: I have to apologize to David French.

French and myself have rarely agreed on anything. I’ve talked shit about the National Review editor both here and elsewhere. But I believe his heart to be in the right place, and he proves that with one of his most recent articles titled What if American Life Expectancy Declined Again and the Elite Cared More About Trump’s Tweets.

The opioid crisis is ripping apart America. So much so that it’s having an effect on American life expectancy. We can send loved ones to the best treatment facilities in the world, and that might not save them. What kind of psychological effect does this have on a society? Not only is this “life-destroying”, as French explains, it’s  also “soul-destroying”.

For families going through this, nothing more true has been spoken.

Families are being ripped apart. Friends are disappearing. Neighborhoods are shattered.

There is a demon tormenting American life. It’s too terrifying to face directly. Instead of addressing it, we’ve decided to find refuge in trivial matters: Trump’s tweets, video games, and really, REALLY hating each other (for example).

These distractions aren’t the root of the problem, they’re mere symptoms of a disease that’s affecting American life. Lazy thinking might lead one to believe that I might call this disease “capitalism”. But, to me, capitalism isn’t a disease. It’s a religion that worships the “invisible hand” that guides the markets. Some are blessed that practice certain virtues that are deemed valuable to the “hand”, but many others aren’t. And this disease was born out of this religion.

Unlike most, I don’t find religion or capitalism to bad things in themselves. But, like all good things, eventually they get spoiled.

This is all really secondary to the larger point I want to make, which I’ll explain in Part III. Unfortunately, I’m a slave to capitalism like everyone else so there’s only so much time in the day. But, finally, I’m going to give David French some credit.

And I’m done talking about him.

(FYI, I’m still trying to correct my halfassed artwork)

branches&creatures

 

Getting Back on Track

I was writing a post about the possibility of an Oprah presidency, and I began to weep at the idea of Trump vs Oprah in 2020. I created a list of candidates that could ideally fit Oprah’s cabinet which included JJ Watt for Defense Secretary and the disco group Lipps Inc. for Secretary of Energy.

Then I thought: “why am I doing this?”. Was this something that I wanting to be writing about? Was this why I created this blog?

I created this thing for a specific purpose: to discuss philosophy. It’s been months since I’ve been on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as an example. You can go anywhere on the internet and find nonsense articles about that kind of crap. I wanted to rise above that. I didn’t want any of this to be divisive. Maybe I’d tell a fart joke every now and then, but I wanted this to be an exploration of philosophical topics and how they possibly apply to issues we face today.

I took a detour in recent months and never returned.

Now I’m changing that.Perhaps I need to establish a “bible ” if you will, to help me stay on track. Set up a few guidelines so I can avoid going out of my way to piss people off. Things like:

  • Staying away from current events. This ain’t a news site. I ain’t a journo. Go to Yahoo! If you want that shit.
  • Not being so aggressive with my language. I sometimes give people the wrong impression with the words I choose. Mind you, I still have the intention to use every mother shit ass fucking swear word given to us. But I’m not an angry person!
  • Use my anger management skills. Life’s too short to be angry at everything under the sun.

Things like that.

One thing that’s clear when looking on the internet: everyone hates each other. I don’t want to contribute to that.

And one more thing…

I’m sort of over this halfassed artwork. So I’m going to change that as well if I can get a few seconds free.

It’s a new day for this blog.