Remembering Author Charles R. Jackson

Cormac McCarthy said that “if there’s an occupational hazard to writing, it’s drinking.”

Charles Jackson would probably second that. It’s amazing how alcoholism affects SO SO many in the field.

I quit drinking several months ago. So much was done to prevent me from doing so again that the thought “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” seldom crosses my mind. But it’s true. As discussed in the video above, Jackson was 11 years sober when he slipped up, believing himself to be fully in control of his alcoholism. Despite writing The Lost Weekend, then considered the seminal work on alcoholics, it doesn’t appear that Jackson ever overcame his disease. It is claimed that he died from suicide by barbiturate overdose. Despite my seemingly successful sobriety, I have to be reminded of these stories from time to time.

I got a lot out of the speech Jackson made to Alcoholics Anonymous in the video posted. If you’re going through these sorts of struggles, I strongly recommend a listen.

Arrogance of Modernity: Steven Pinker


Full disclosure: I haven’t read  Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. This is based only on the Salon article that you can read hereBut based on what I know of Pinker, I have no reason to doubt Salon’s accusations against his newest book. Should I have read it? Probably. But as I am fond of reminding you: this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. So there you have it…

If I were a respected intellectual, I have no doubt that Pinker would have called me out in Enlightenment Now for being a leftist “progressophobe”. I prefer to think of myself as a “progressive skeptic”. But that would be missing the point: I am not “anti-progressive”. I have asserted that technology and our common notions of “progress” only set up the parameters of modern life…they do not “make life better”.

Let me explain this again: when we reflect on history, it becomes “apparent” that humanity has progressed for the better. We’re living longer, we’ve seemingly taken control of the planet, information is readily available, and….that’s pretty much it! But the mistake that intellectuals like Pinker make is that longevity of life and access to modern conveniences equals progress. This is what I’ve called the “arrogance of modernity”.

“Progress”, as we like to think of it, is quite subjective (for a lack of better description). I don’t share the neoliberal optimism that Pinker and others have shared. I am not a materialist. Have I benefited from such innovations like the internet? Absolutely. But again, material gain does not equate to a better standard of living. While we have more shit at our disposal, we are also working slave wages, suffering from a plethora of mental health illnesses IN ADDITION to diseases like diabetes, cancers, and heart-related problems because our diet is terrible. We also have automatic machine guns, nuclear weapons, and standing militaries capable of committing genocide at a moment’s notice. Sure, cavemen were undoubtedly savage assholes living in rough times, but what would they say if they could evaluate our lives today?

Since we are living in a “post-Enlightenment” era, an era that the rarified air of Ivy League academia has benefited from, intellectuals like Pinker have become blinded by definitions of progress as spelled out BY the Enlightenment. (I cannot attest to Salon’s accusations that Pinker fundamentally misunderstood the Enlightenment readings that he cites.)

Again, I didn’t read the book, but I will entertain Salon’s accusation of Pinker’s so-called “apology of capitalism”. Presumably the argument is that even though capitalism has brought with it much harm, it was also the catalyst for the improvement in quality of life….or what Pinker defines as “progress”. I’ve already spelled out why progress is a faulty assumption…and to add to that, material gain does not automatically equal a better life. Liberal intellectuals like Pinker have fallen into the neoliberal meritocracy myth, which is why guys like Bill Gates love this work. But this meritocracy has contributed to much of problems of modern life, problems that the Ivy League-attending billionaires and intellectuals like Gates and Pinker don’t suffer from. Instead of being a champion of “progress”, Pinker is unwittingly defending the status quo essentially, as addressed by Salon.

But back to the defense of myself and my criticisms of common notions of progress…in the West, we’ve defined human achievement as improvement in material well-being. But, I suppose that wealth and longevity in overall public wellbeing aren’t good indicators of “existential” wellbeing, if you will. Our evaluations of people based on their productivity has made us “poor in spirit” (for, again, a lack of a better description). Capitalism has been effective in so far in its ability to manipulate our existential concerns to spur development and economic growth. That’s progress ONLY in a material sense, but not in a very human sense. If we want HUMAN progress, I don’t advocate a DO MORE, WANT MORE ethic that that neoliberal meritocracy warrants, but a WANT LESS attitude that focuses on personal (or spiritual) wellbeing.

Now THAT’S progress I advocate.

Thought of the Day: Lie To Me


In a study that should shock no one (which you can read about here from the BBC) researchers discovered that ‘false news’ travels faster than truth on the internet. It was something that people have long suspected but now we have empirical evidence to support it’s validity.

It appears that much of the study was centered around Twitter, but it’s probably safe to assume that this is a massive problem across all social media platforms. And again, if you need evidence that literally nothing good comes from using Twitter, here it is.

Part of the appeal to ‘false news’, as the researchers indicated, is that it is more ‘novel’ than genuine news. But I’d like to add that false news confirms the bullshittery of our beliefs…and actual news is all to easy to dismiss in the Internet Age. Just go ask Ben Shapiro who will probably dismiss this study as a conspiracy against conservatives.  Which, in fairness to Shapiro, does lead to the question of how we DEFINE truth. But I suppose that false news is more than just ‘novel’, it fuels our sense of indignant outrage…as if we’ve been vindicated in our beliefs.

ACTUAL news, or facts we can think of them, don’t care about our feelings…as the great (I’m joking) Ben Shapiro likes to remind us…so we in turn don’t care about it.

Social media allows us to wallow in our tiny cocoon of beliefs, at least if we use it as our main source of information. It’s the blanket of ignorance that keeps us warm. Since false news gets more views…and more views equal more revenue…then absolutely nothing will be done it.

So as I’ve warned before, and I will continue to do so: just say no to social media.

Or just say no to Twitter at least.

Quitting Social Media: A Reflection


When we consider the ‘dangers’ that the Internet poses, pornography is usually the subject discussed the most: keeping it out of sight from children, ensuring that adults aren’t addicted, not making it demeaning to women, etc.

In the age of Trump, ‘fake news’ has now become a cause for concern. And I’ve always argued that cheap political punditry is far more damaging than online pornography.

Social media, however, occasionally gets its critics. But it always gets a pass because everyone uses it.

It’s been a few months since I’ve quit social media. I don’t miss it. But the truth is that I might’ve never understood it.

What do I mean?

I suppose the theory behind Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc, is that it allows you to ‘connect’: stay in touch with friends, meet people with similar interests, etc. That’s the idea at least, and that is likely our rationale behind using it.

But it’s not really about ‘others’. It’s about providing a false image of yourself. For many, this image has become indistinguishable from themselves. They are unable to divorce themselves from the platform which presents this image, which is why they are unable to relate to people face-to-face: their online world has become indistinguishable from reality because reality presents an insufficient self. That’s a common criticism at least.

But, in a world where we need more face-to-face interaction with regards to our political activity, online platforms have been seen as a substitute for that as well. Twitter is a prime example. ‘SJWs”, “hashtavists”, “Twitter Heroes” see their activity as being just as important as the Civil Rights work of previous generations. In their eyes, they’re bringing ‘awareness’ to a larger audience…somehow believing that a limited number of characters can enlighten others. This halfassed form of activism usually results in mockery and downplays the severity of the issues because it is seemingly done  for the benefit of the users narcissism. It appeals to their “feel good” nature by having them believe that they’ve done something admirable and provides and image of superiority over the opponents. AT LEAST that’s the image they’re providing. I have no idea what the actual thought process is…all I know is that Twitter probably hurts more than helps their cause and is definitely no substitute for ACTUAL action. If you want to change the world, one has to act WITHIN it.

I think we can all agree that Twitter needs to go away.

What provoked me to slowly move away from social media was a Twitter incident during my podcasting days. I managed to provoke a response from the National Review’s Kyle Smith. It didn’t do any good: Smith thought I was an idiot (for good reason) and I ended up hating him. But I felt a rush of power because I actually got a response from someone in ‘power’. But after a few hours of reflection, an emptiness was felt inside of me because I realized that the interaction only resulted in hate and feelings of superiority. A few days later, I took down the account and never looked back. When I began to assess why I use social media, I realized that that was the ONLY reason I used it…to piss off others.

Soon after, my Facebook use began to decline. Eventually I deleted my account (I have another account that, I guess, is still active but I have no access to it). I have not used social media in the last few months.

“What about your friends?”, you might ask.

I’m a grown ass man. If I wanted to contact my friends, I’ll fucking contact them!

If I needed social media to stay in contact with my family, then maybe I just don’t want to talk to my family!

True, I suppose we could say that this blog is a form of ‘social media’ (except I don’t care if I meet any of my readers). But this blog at least allows me to thoroughly explain my opinions to an audience that might actually want to read them. That’s something that neither Facebook nor Twitter could provide (at least adequately).

There was a lot more I wanted to cover, but since leaving those platforms, I’m looking at my phone LESS and engaging in personal discussion MORE. And in today’s world, people need to be reminded to do that.

A Few More Thoughts on Slavoj Zizek

I suppose Hegel and Lacan are to Slavoj Zizek what Kant and Zizek are to me.

I don’t necessarily mean to discuss these thinkers in every post but, in my mind at least, all roads lead to one of these two guys despite knowing that that’s not entirely original thinking on my part.

Now I have a confession to make, and I know that I’m not alone in this, but I don’t entirely understand Zizek (or Kant, for that matter). If you’ve ever read anything from him or listened to one of his lectures, he jumps from one subject to another in schizophrenic fashion which can be off putting if unprepared. Zizek comes from a, for a lack of a better description, ‘Hegelian’ method of practicing philosophy where one tackles a subject in a nebulous way.

This method (for me, at least) requires me to be constantly engaged in critical thought, which may or may not be Zizek’s intention, but I have found to be hugely beneficial. Normal objects in everyday life suddenly become reevaluated. For others, however, they simply tune him out for simply being another psychopath on the internet.

To explain this phenomenon, one doesn’t have to look any further than the opening scene in Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. When discussing the film They Live, a character violently rejects wearing a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see the world as it actually is. Zizek’s interpretation of that scene is that we are comforted by the illusions of our ideology and we violently reject any nonconforming views (indeed, this is the mechanism behind the Western rejection of Marxism). That perfectly sums up recent retaliation against Zizek from both the Left and Right.

The recent popularity of Jordan Peterson revived my fascination of Zizek (which honestly, it’s not hard to do) and apparently the Internet was with me on that with rumors of a “debate” being planned between the two. There’s honestly nothing special about Peterson: he’s essentially espousing the same  bullshit talking points of the alt-Right (but he claims to be a “classic liberal”) only he has academic credentials. He’s hardly a guy worth responding to (even though I did), nevertheless some on the Left felt the need to have a liberal warrior champion their beliefs and Zizek felt like a natural fit.

Except on further investigation, he didn’t quite live up to expectation. Zizek is a committed Marxist, not a  neoliberal. While I admitted that I didn’t completely understand Zizek’s philosophy, one thing is clear: his thought is designed to shape human understanding to fit within a Marxist framework. Neoliberalism, meanwhile, is content to fit liberalism within a Capitalist framework. Zizek therefore rejects many of the movements that have propelled the modern Left, particularly in the US (and where many of my disagreements with him lie).

This has lead to a near total rejection of him and his philosophy on the Left. Even Noam Chomsky (whose criticisms might’ve come BEFORE the Peterson ordeal, I’m not sure) seems to have abandoned his earlier thoughts that made him famous in order to criticize Zizek. But what these criticisms boil down to a complete misunderstanding of Zizek’s philosophy.

Truthfully, there’s just too much to digest. His rapid fire and ‘nebulous’ presentation of thought means that Zizek probably won’t be understood completely in this generation. I don’t agree with all of his political views (I think the ‘American Experience’ is completely foreign to him, hence the source of our disagreements), but the wholesale rejection of his philosophy due to presentation is a testament to the validity of Zizekian thought because we are still bound in an ideological world.

Reality behind the veil is too terrifying to face.

The American Intellectual Tradition


I give America, and indeed Western Civilization, a lot of shit for embracing a mindless, amoral capitalist ethic that masquerades as Judeo-Christian “values”, but has that assessment been too harsh?

(In short: probably)

But I often wonder about the American “intellectual tradition”. I’ve compared America to Ancient Rome in the past. Mind you, I’m not an expert in Roman history, I’m basically comparing the stereotypical view of Ancient Rome to America: bold, strong sense of imperialism/nationalistic tendencies, over-the-top cultural celebrations, technology advanced in military operations, and a lack of intellectual achievement when compared to their cultural ancestors…the Ancient Greeks. In this view, Ancient Greece is to Rome what Europe is to the United States. The American intellectual tradition, and indeed the traditions  of many “New World” nations, do not compare to the nations of the “Old World”, notably the ones on the Eurasian landmass.

With that being said, the USA is the most culturally significant of the New World.

What am I basing this off of?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a ranking system (a link that you can click at the top of the page because I’m writing this on my phone and that’s the best that I can do) which evaluates, I suppose, the popularity and influence of certain individuals throughout recorded history. I take these rankings with a grain of salt because really, everyone is playing their role in history…take one person out and suddenly ALL of history changes. But whatever. These rankings are fun, so just play along.

And who is the most “important” person in history?


I’m unsure of the metrics they’re using to draw this conclusion. I suppose when we evaluate all historical documtation and intellectual discourse, Aristotle’s name probably comes up the most. I’ve seen him ranked highly in other historical rankings, which never makes sense. If you’re going to name someone of the Big 3 in the Socratic lineage, it only makes sense to name SOCRATES first because he’s really the “founder” of Western thought. But since Aristotle is sometimes thought of as the founder of empiricism, which would appeal to people that compile these kinds of list, it sort of makes sense. But there you have it.

What about Americans? Who is the most popular AMERICAN?

When researching this, I was planning for the worst. But then I was pleasantly surprised: Martin Luther King Jr. is the most popular American.

MLK ranked 112 overall, between Aristophanes and Plutarch. It doesn’t sound like much, but again, it’s interesting to ponder how people a thousand years from now will evaluate Americans. Could he climb the list? If so, I champion MLK being the face of American history as say Julius Caesar is to Ancient Rome.

The American runner up…Elvis. (Pretty self explanatory)

And third…Marilyn Monroe (where she ranks right above GWF Hegel)

That’s right…the three most famous Americans are MLK, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe. And they all co-existed at around the same time.

It makes sense actually. The 20th Century is the American Century, or the time when the US became the dominant economic and military power. In the middle of that decade existed these three individuals. I suppose one could argue that the US was at its cultural height.

When the 31st Century version of HBO does a dramatic recreation of the United States (as they did with Rome in this century), will it take place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, political assassinations, Vietnam War, etc?

But what this ranking revealed is that culturally, the US is far more diverse in its influence than people like me give it credit for. And unlike Ancient Rome, our final chapter has yet to be written.

A Waste of a Perfectly Good Religion


“Get Saved and forget.”

That was seemingly the main takeaway from my religious education.

I had a high school teacher explain that he didn’t care about his physical health because life on this earth didn’t matter. For me, it’s through this attitude towards human existence that I find Christianity lacking.

Of course, Christians are commanded “the Great Commission”…to spread the Word to all peoples…but to do so is not necessary for Salvation, or entrance into heaven. In short, there is little transformative effect for Christians because present life doesn’t matter.

I suppose if we look at Christian orthodoxy in general, we find that physical existence is a mistake. Adam and Eve fucked it all up and Jesus Christ had to clean up the mess. But it’s through this material reality that we find sin. Our souls (which is presumably distinct from our physical selves) are captured in this reality and the only way to liberate it is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Spirituality is fairly simple Christian mythology.

Because Salvation is relatively easy to obtain (and can’t be lost) Christians are permitted to forget the troubles that existence often presents. They’re going to Heaven, what more do they need to concern themselves with? Living in the South/Midwest, this might partially explain why I meet countless people with Divinity degrees from Liberty University yet engage in racist discussions and vote sexual predators into office. Salvation “protects” them…permits them to be a shitty person because what happens here on earth is not their problem.

This is a problem that has infected the entire West. Our Judeo-Christian “values” don’t require us to be better people…to become all inclusive in our understanding of each other…because the world is essentially a terrible place. A place that will eventually burn. So why bother?

I’m Just Not There


“I think I’m going to pursue a graduate degree.”

“Why?” I asked

The man just got promoted. He was making all the money he needed.

“Why put yourself through all that shit just to make a few dollars more?”

I assured the man: “You’ve arrived”. There was nothing else he needed to do. But only in America, I thought…the only place where we’re conditioned to never be satisfied.

I don’t always follow the advice I dispense. I’m not immune to the disease of careerism. Along with the millions of other Americans, I have to learn how to be happy.

I have taken a step back from writing for this very reason. I enjoy it. Writing is therapeutic. But nothing is worse than coming to terms with your own mediocrity. Writing might be my ‘art’…but I don’t need to make it more than it is.

“Quarter-Life Crisis” is now a thing. I’m between “quarter-life” and “mid-life”, but I see kids not yet 30 having to come to terms with their own limitations, their decision making, the possibility of a life less than mediocre. These realizations condition us to never be content…to always value the opinions of others over the opinion of ourselves: “successful” is an adjective that others bestow. The younger we feel this existential crisis, the better greased this machine of careerism is.

I wanted to make writing a career. That ambition made me miserable. Writing should never feel ‘forced’….which is essentially what I was doing with the last several posts. As the Taoists might say (not to sound too pretentious), it’s got to be effortless. “The poem writes the poem”, as someone once said. As easy as it is to dispense this advice, applying it has caused a crisis in my own life. In order to ‘learn’ to be happy, I have to relinquish this goal.

This is the long way of saying: “sorry, but not sorry” for not keeping up with this blog.

I have a new job, and despite metaphorically flushing thousands of dollars down a toilet recently…things aren’t that bad. But it takes a lot to realize that. Things have been bad for so long.

I suppose that I’ve arrived…but I’m just not there.

Normies Lead to Fascism


I keep listening to Chapo Trap House.

I don’t mean to. I just do.

Sometimes the podcast reminds me of the book The Red Flag…about the history of communism. Or better yet, it reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where all these left-wing “Judean People’s Fronts” are fighting for the same thing but can’t achieve their objectives because they’re too busy fighting each other. That’s pretty much the state of far-left politics….they’re too caught up in their pedantic differences.

If you follow the Democratic Socialists of America as much as I do, that’s seemingly their biggest problem…too much mocking and squabbling with other liberals. (The Right has similar problems, but the Left has a longer history of this shit) Which is why Chapo Trap House can sometimes be tiring.

But, it’s the only place where I can listen to a “debate” between Slavoj Zizek and Jordan Peterson. So I’m left with little choice.

Yet CTH does provide me with insight into pop culture references because I’m essentially an 80 year old man in a 30 year old body (I only recently learned who Cardi B is). For instance, there are frequent mentions of “normies”. Upon investigation, normies are those that basically get caught up in pop culture references in social media and otherwise can’t think for themselves…they prefer the mediocrity of shows like the Walking Dead or shit on cable TV over anything that might challenge their worldview. Or, as someone on CTH pointed out, a good method of determining if someone’s a normie is by assessing their opinions on abstract art. If their response is something like “that’s something my child can do”, that pretty much tells you all you need to know. It’s for these reasons why I find CTH helpful.

But staying on the subject of “normies”, CTH brought to my attention the danger they present. Specifically the danger of fascism.

Case in point are the Nazis, the most famous fascists. Hitler, a man that thought of himself as an artist, hated abstract art. As a painter, he mostly stuck to landscapes and buildings. This narrow perspective that Hitler took in art is why absolutely no one considers him a decent artist (that, and he committed genocide). In this respect, we can consider Hitler a “normie” because he wanted to steadfastly hold onto a tradition and failed to appreciate differing interpretations. But he wasn’t alone. His followers were just run-of-the-mill, Bavarian, beer hall, abstract-art-hating Germans…simple German “normies”.

A bit of a stretch, I know. But I’m going to keep rolling with this….

But in modern day United States, who are our “normies”? CTH cited NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. By researching her Twitter feed and discovering her love of the Walking Dead and use of pop culture references long past expiration date, CTH determined that Loesch was a prime example of “normie”. But she perfectly represents members of the NRA and those that support the organization: white, suburban, middle class careerists that don’t have time or concern for “abstraction”.  They might show concern for things like “liberty, justice, and free speech” AS LONG as those things fall within their narrow purview. Or in other words, “Liberty, justice, and free speech” are fine and good if you are white, suburban (or rural because that’s where white people are), and careerist. THEY are the normies.

Fascism doesn’t come around because a strongman muscles his way to power, but because “normies” ALLOW a strongman come to power because they believe he is a representative of them….a group of total intellectual simpletons.

Thought of the Day: Career Opportunities!


I hate aggressive mediocrity. And for good reason….

I’M aggressively mediocre.

Whatever trends the experts notice in the markets almost always applies to me.

What am I talking about?

I’m not sure. I’ve been writing so infrequently over the last several weeks that I’ve almost forgotten how to write. But ANYWAYS….

I read an article…somewhere….who gives a shit where…that discussed our workforce “shortage” that corporations are suffering through. I couldn’t find the article to repost here. A Google search only brings up shit discussing the “skills gap”. But in this SPECIFIC article, the author claims that companies aren’t (just) complaining about a “skills gap” in their pool of applicants…but that their pool just isn’t big enough. There’s a literal shortage of applicants, which would have been an unthinkable predicament just a few years ago.

How did this happen?

Of course, there IS a skills gap, but not only are employees deficient in the “hard” skills (like mechanical aptitude), they also lack “soft” skills like basic punctuality and interpersonal relationships. One employer bitched about having to teach basic math skills. But employees are failing to perform the most basic function of SHOWING UP TO WORK. That’s not only the biggest complaint in the article, but that’s also a huge complaint in my personal experience.

Work is out there but nobody wants it.

But what does this have to do with me?

I’ve started my fifth job since leaving rehab. It’s a job that probably required a specialized degree in a certain field just a few years ago. Now I’m doing it. And it’s fucking awesome. I’m basically a chemist. I’ve probably haven’t look at the Periodic Table of Elements since high school. But I’m able to do the job.

I’m not a researcher…I’m hired to do a very specific task….a task that they trained me to do! A degree or prior training in the field wasn’t necessary.

Okay, so employees don’t want to show up. Drug and mental health problems were cited as a major contributor to this problem. And among millennials, after 10 years of burnout in the workforce, where they realized that corporations are loyal to no one…perhaps feelings are now mutual. So the level of distrust between corporations and the workforce is probably higher than it’s ever been.

But all of this sort of ties into my hypothesis that college is largely useless for gainful employment (with several notable exceptions, like doctors). We could argue that higher education is necessary for personal and intellectual growth, and employers likely agree which is why they might continue to demand it, BUT to perform most high functioning/entry level tasks…these functions could easily be taught with the right instruction and experience. Indeed, even with the right education, these tasks would still have to be taught because each company has its unique set of demands. Higher education CANNOT teach these demands (unless they are in partnership with certain companies)…employers just required degrees because they had to justify paying employees above $12 per hour.

NOW no one wants to work for them so they’re having to place “unqualified” candidates into “specialized” positions. Which is how I (likely) got my current job.

I don’t know dick about chemistry, but I’m able to perform my duties with about a week’s worth of training. Apparently, people that were knowledgeable about this stuff were also able to perform these duties…they just didn’t want to. (Presumably, in addition to doing chemistry, it also requires the employee to do a degree of manual labor which a college graduate might be reluctant to do)

It’s been working for me. But employers must be willing to TRAIN.

While HR departments might be cursing at their seemingly shitty pool of applicants, hopefully this will force companies to put money and attention into employee development. If I can be a fucking chemist, then the sky’s the limit for you.