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(no subject) [Jun. 18th, 2015|08:57 pm]
One of my undergrad professors told us about sociology's view of god. Someone recently told me this narrative has been empirically supported quite a bit. I mean, great. But I have lots of doubts about the social sciences. Not that they don't provide knowledge, but I'm not sure it can quite be considered rigorous scientific knowledge at this point in our history, and sociology's history. I digress, as per the usu.

When societies are pre-writing, pre-modern, pre-agriculture, their gods are found in nature. They're personal and close to people. Thunder gods and rain gods and sun gods and fertility gods. They live among communities. Present and part of all everyday activities, gods are life and life made up of gods. No one has any knowledge, so the gods take the place of knowledge.

Farming happens! Boom! Gods move a little further away. They're less permeating. They might be ancestors. The old gods are there, maybe, but on a different plane. Somewhere outside of humanity.

Communities aggregate. It's a city-state now. Gods are the domain of the elite. The elite rule because they are 'chosen.' (Or they had some luck and passed it on to their kids.) There's a hierarchy, and the better people have more access to the divine. It's not for the common people, except to submit.

This happens for a long time.

Nations form, differentiation happens. Guilds, artisans, organized religion. Bureaucracy. Writing! God is told through the learned. Their whims, their needs. God is further than ever. What's unknown? Still the afterlife. It's mediated now, and mediated by economic pressures.

Some people invent stuff! They think that maybe this god stuff is a tool of control. There are deeper questions, of course. If there's a being that has all power, all goodness, eternality, etc., then what follows? Is it necessary that is the case that such a being exists? There must be some 'most powerful being in the universe,' just by virtue of the fact that the universe exists and one thing must be the most powerful. Does it follow that that being is god? But that's not how it works for the populace.

Instead, industrialization magic shunts people into mechanized jobs. More urban, less rural. God is depersonalized. Far away from you, from your experience. The unexplained is in the heavens.

God is the unexplained. It's there to take away the fear, the unknown. Give safety and stability. Answer unanswerable questions. Quell people when they don't understand why everything is so fucking bad all the time.

Individual people believe, or don't. They're sincere or cynical, pious or exploitative. But the larger trend holds. The more people group together into social stratifications, the further away god moves. The more abstract of a concept it gets.

So what don't we know now? A lot, really. Most everything. But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like we have cell theory and quarks and 3D printers and long lives. But it's a slice of a slice of a slice of a slice of what's out there. There will always be the unknown, probably.

I mean, you can imagine some end state, and I do, often, wherein we've augmented ourselves and our capabilities so much that we just are the fucking universe, and we know the position of every particle, and we understand all perspectives that there are to understand, and we punch through to every universe bubble that's ever possible, infinitely, but that reality isn't likely to happen, even if it's possible. Possible possible possible. If everything is possible there is no such thing as possibility. Gah.

I guess I don't believe in indeterminacy, at least theoretically. Hmm.

We still don't understand what happens after death, I guess. Even if it's nothingness, which it most likely is. Can you understand nothingness while currently existing?

Jesus fucking christ. I mean, spaghetti fucking monster. I want to escape freshman year pot theorizing but I just fucking can't. I'm a goddamn philosopher, maybe. And they want to pretend they are caring about minute details of some damn nitpicky argument or other, but they care about this shit. What does it all mean, man? Like, we're all some dream of a butterfly. And the butterfly is god. Chaos!

God in society today is like a wall against the other shit I talked about in my last post. Something that goes between the believer and the massive deluge of motherfucking horror that is humanity. Except sometimes the religion is the horror.

People denying science, and just plain evidence in front of their goddamn fucking noses. THINGS SHOULD BE THIS WAY! AND I WILL PRETEND FOREVER THAT THEY ARE! Why? This I don't get, no matter how much I read and think. You grew up in an environment, okay. Maybe I can't understand what that means. If I'd been told by my personal community and parents and siblings that I am shameful just because I'm a woman and have breasts and a vagina. I mean, I'm told that more subtly. But I can see the difference. I think.

There's the lady that's been in the news like whoa. Who pretended to be black. Who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian community. So, she could be opportunistic. Or mentally disturbed. Or a product of her environment. Or all of it and more.

So if we had the end state, we'd need her perspective, plus all of the people who are so fascinated by her, plus the 24 hour media cycle that should be focusing on actual news. Whatever actual news is.

But she hated her identity so much that she felt she needed to change it, for whatever reason. Her god growing up told her she was worthless. It was her community's god. What was her community's god? Far away? Does it fit in with all of the empirical 'evidence' from sociology? I'm not sure I can see what's happening in my own current context from a real sociological lens, even if I try real hard.

We don't know why we're so terrible, so maybe there's that. We want to be better, in some ways. Some people do. Some people have inched their way out of their ape brains and have asked what it would mean to care about better things. But we can't figure out why we are so stuck. And that's our god. The confusing fucking quagmire that is our ability to be fucking awful. And care about stupid shit. And the part that is unable to fix damn near any of it.
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(no subject) [May. 28th, 2015|09:53 pm]
Look at this! I figured out my LJ password!

I wonder if anything I've ever done matters in any way. :P
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(no subject) [Jul. 12th, 2013|01:16 am]
So it turns out I am really bad at philosophy.

I'm in grad school, somewhere I've purported to really want to be. That is, in fact, all I've ever wanted to do. I always wanted to be an academic, an intellectual.

So it's humbling that I am so bad at it.

I nearly failed a class; in fact I turned in a vapid paper so stultifying that the professor called me out on it, but gave me some extra time to fix it, and I'm just not sure that I did.

I turned in a super rough paper, but a paper in which I tried to engage with the ideas on my own two feet, and I'm terrified of the professor's response to it. If she tells me I have no philosophical talent or vision I'd have to agree with her. But I don't want to. I want to keep going, I want to keep trying.

I can't use another word but terrified, because for the first time I tried, (perhaps not as hard as I could have possibly, but she herself told me that the idea of what you think you should be will never match up to what you actually are, or what you actually do) and I will in all likelihood fail.

I've always had this strain of magical thinking, this strain that I will succeed in some mysterious realm of imagination. I'm the first female philosophical genius, in this realm. People will place me on the level of Marx or Kant or Descartes. I should know that this is ridiculous, and in reality I do know this. But it's who I imagine myself to be. It's who I want to be, apart from my human foibles, and there are many of them.

I'm going to be a writer whose name is remembered, I tell myself. But what do I do to get there?

Not enough.

I hope she sees something in me.
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(no subject) [Apr. 25th, 2013|04:01 pm]
The other day I was listening to music, and I saw an album I hadn't listened to in a long time. Secret Samhadi, by Live. Now, Live has a special place in my life. I liked them when I was 15. I guess that's a magic age. Because music doesn't make me feel like it used to. Something about a band you like when you're 15 stays with you forever. Secret Samhadi was important, but slightly less so compared to Throwing Copper. So I re-bought it. I listened to it on the subway into school today. Talk about melancholic nostalgia.

Why doesn't anything make me feel like that anymore? Why has music drifted from my life?

I never felt like I liked anything authentically. So I got into Nirvana approximately five years after Kurt Cobain died, and subsequently I never felt like I was a "real" fan. I could never let myself really go with the music, because I wasn't being true, or honest, or some other dumb bullshit. By this kind of rule, the only albums I've ever liked authentically are Throwing Copper, Secret Samhadi, Pearl Jam's Ten, a handful of R.E.M. albums, and maybe some Beatles. Again, because I was totally fucking flipped out over them when I was 15. I also listened to Whitney Houston at that time, but I don't feel the same way about her. I wonder why?

Rock just hits the spot in my aesthetic soul, I guess.

I'm on the verge of tears here, lamenting my emotionless void of a life. Live feels like possibility to me---years in front of me to connect deeply with others, experience everything with a tinge of excitement behind it, meaning was there to be had. Earnest, thrilling meaning. And it's gone.

But by the same token, I fucking hated being a teenager. I didn't fit in, I felt like a loser. Most of my memories are bad ones filled with embarrassment and awkwardness. To be perfectly fucking honest, that's all of my memories. What am I doing so incorrectly with my life? Probably remembering only the most negative things. I guess that's the way our brains work.

That isn't all, though. Life, of course, isn't anything like I thought it would be. There is no deep connection. There is no closeness, no mutual excitement, no creating and doing and drinking it all fucking in. Just pattern and habit and TV.

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Radical [Apr. 19th, 2013|08:08 pm]
I'm reading an article in the April 15th New Yorker, about the passing of one of the first radical feminists, Shulamith Firestone. I'd never heard of her. There's a bit in there about she and her co-activists went to see the woman who drafted the first ERA in 1921, Alice Paul. I'd never heard of her, either. Ms. Paul was suspicious of them, and pointed to a wall of portraits of suffragettes, and the new guard couldn't recognize the old guard, either.

The article makes me want to be a radical feminist. Another passage discusses how Shulamith (Shulie) never gave an inch, never backed down, and how she had that in common with her Orthodox Jewish father. They would get into screaming matches wherein they would threaten to kill each other. And it made me realize that no compromises is so clean and appealing and satisfying, when it's on your side of course. The other side is hard headed and plain wrong. BUT THEY ARE WRONG. I can probably make a better argument for equality for all than you can for oppression. I take the point, though, that not bending to anyone has its flaws as well as its strengths. Just like any sort of way of living, I guess. Even the heinous ones.

There are several interesting passages that I'd like to reproduce and comment on in detail, but first I want to talk a little bit about being very confused.

I'm not very successful at most things in my life. I've failed, I've quit, and I don't give it my goddamned all. I psych myself out. I have terrible habits. I should be studying and grading right now. I see things in my classes and in my life that very well might have a sexist element. For my background assumptions, know that I believe that everyone is an -ist, and that it's just not really possible not to be, given the way society and our brains function. We are pattern sensing machines, and sometimes (most of the time?) that goes way above and beyond what it has to. Our brains think in patterns, they accept patterns, they find patterns where there are none, and that's just what stereotypes are.

I'm a racist, you're a racist. I'm sexist, so are you. I'm aware of it though! And I try and compensate. I try to challenge my beliefs. But perhaps not enough, because I've certainly sunk into the status quo on many factors in life, so much so that the status quo has solidified into my actual personality. Keep that in mind, because that is one factor of the confusion.

Another is the state of feminism today. It's pervasive and widespread, and there are many varying opinions on how successful it has been, in all areas of public and private life (if there is such a thing anymore. Perhaps there never was?) Women have progressed, surely. At least in the Western world. But how much foundational change can happen in 40 years?

Firestone, quoted in the article, says:

Feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organization of culture itself, and further, even the very organization of nature. Many women give up in despair; if that's how deep it goes they don't want to know.

That right there is amazing to me.

Question nature?

And why fucking not?

I've heard so many times how it's just "natural" for women to be in an inferior position in society, because they are physically weaker, and it somehow follows that that means it is inevitable that women are subjugated. As if there are no other factors in life! As if we don't use our powers of reason to decide for ourselves about a variety of matters all of the damn time! "Well, gee, okay! I have slightly fewer muscles than you, so that must mean I am totally stupid and worthless! I should just let you have power over me!"

I want to find a new way to radically change things. When I try, of course I can't. It seems like all the things are already out there, right? People have already suggested everything that there can be, as far as social organization goes. Right? Of course not. That's what everyone thinks before the next new idea comes along. Standing on the shoulders of giants isn't the only thing that is supposed to happen. You're supposed to actually look out and see further. But I haven't been able to do so so far, I think.

And now we're looped back around, to my utter incompetence.

How much of it is from me as me, and how much of it is institutional sexism? It seems to me that people don't take me seriously when I talk. They wave away my ideas and say the dreaded "yes but" before I can even get two sentences out. It frustrates me. But that might just be a consequence of 1) my personality, 2) my inexperience in almost everything---perpetually at square one, and 3) my lack of confidence. But it also might have to do with my being a woman in a world of inequality. And it's not like those things are all discrete entities, either. My personality has been shaped a bit or more by the world, and if it is a sexist world (which it is), then I am going to self-loathe, and have a confidence problem. Saying it that way sounds so trite, but confidence is more than just extroverted and public. It also has to do with how I frame my problems, my daily life, what I choose to do privately and publicly.

So I'm confused.

I'm done for now. But I want to talk about being, becoming, and remaining radical. I want to talk about those passages. I want to not care when people dislike or hate me, or at least not let it deter me from radicalizing at all, if I really want to. I'd apply this sort of thinking to animals as well, and poverty. I want to root out my unexamined notions. I want to change, truly change. But I won't, in all likelihood I'm one of those who has given up in despair. I am tired for no reason, I am depleted. It's so fucking HARD.
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(no subject) [Apr. 1st, 2013|08:21 am]
So I just learned about Cat Marnell from Gawker, and that she's this spiraling, self-proclaimed drug addict, and she's blogged in women's magazines about fashion and beauty and health, and she's heroin chic for the internet age. She got maybe half a mil for her memoirs at the tender age of thirty one or two. My age. Her posts at the women's mags are coherent and druggy and witty and interesting, in the self aware confessional narcissistic sort of way that they are. She moves over to Vice, a publication I have mixed feelings about, for lots of the same reasons I have mixed feelings about Cat Marnell. And her posts are a lot less coherent, but no less interesting. Is she falling apart, or is it an act to get clicks, to get a book deal?

And that's what we ask about all our celeb messes, it doesn't seem real, what they are doing, what they are saying, like a show, like a drama and a comedy. And then they die. And why is she so popular, such a lightning rod? Why do drugs sell? Why does misery sell? Why does being dirty and unable to think seem like such a draw, such a pull, can't look away, jealous and sad all at the same time?

I'd read the editor of Gawker's piece about a 'glamorous drug addict' when it came out a few months ago, and connected it today that it was her, and it occurred to me that they are the Hemingway and the Plath and the whomever other millions of addled writers you want to put on the list of our time, and why the fuck is it blogging of all fucking things, sitting behind glowing screens at three in the morning and in the day and so fucking dull compared to the romanticized typewriters, or handwriters, or cafes or whatever. I want to leave an impression in the world, I want to write something wonderful, something meaningful, something remembered, but I don't want any part of this. Madness and darkness and drugs and drink and smoking and lunacy have long been objects of such utter fucking fascination that it's trite to wale on it, trite to say that you can be a functioning adult and still have something intricate and real to say. I mean, I struggle with depression and anxiety and that's what I always seem to write about, obsess about, only feel compelled to write when I am feeling it. Why can't happiness be as complex and interesting?

There was another writer, at the NYT Magazine, who did a profile of her, and talked about how she edits ultra confessional writers for Slate, and how she values them because they tell a personal story and it's how you connect to other people, man, and it's the way you see other aspects of the world. But are we getting too much, this Slate writer asks? The tweeting and the journalling and the on and on non stop disco of bowel movements and instant thoughts that might be better left edited out...how do you know what's valuable?

But it seems like truth, right, at least to half of the population? The half that becomes your rabid fans, and the other can't see it, they think you're fake, you're a poseur, everything that you write is meandering and pointless. And maybe that's all the confessional style is, but maybe that's how I write too, but worse and more boring.

And it's just an echo chamber with millions of voices, and a lot of them sound pretty much the fucking same as everyone else. Most people are not going to read your shit.

There is this blog, and it's all about why you shouldn't go to grad school, and one of the reasons is that almost no one is going to read what you write. And when you write, you want people to read it, right? Of course, right? I mean, I tell myself that I want to read and research and write because these are the things I am genuinely interested in, but I care about readership, don't I? And reason fifty two, all the way up through ninety, is that academia is a political game with viciousness that can only be seen when the stakes are low. You're not going to be an academic superstar, you just aren't. And I don't do politics. I shut down more than usual, and I usually get nothing done.


And I look back at when I did drugs and maybe it was the most exciting time in my life, even though it was also the most fucking horrible. I didn't have any friends and I didn't fit in and I wanted the drug kids to like me but they didn't. I wanted to be a raver and I wanted to trip all the time, but I didn't have the connections and I didn't know where to get it on my own, so I had to tag along and take what I could get, and then have awful experiences with awful people.

I wanted it to be like my dad's ideal of tripping a real story, following an album into visuals, connecting with a friend, a lover. At this point even the thought of drugs shoots sour adrenaline through me, I've had so many bad experiences.

So if ninety percent of academics end up bitter old fucks who work at a fourth rate college why the fuck should they not shit all over one another? And I'm so fatalistic that I barely think I can pass my classes this semester, so how can I think about submitting papers to conferences and journals? I should be sleeping now to read and study later, but I'm up, my hours are still three and four but I'm not high or in pain or hungover or coming down and hating myself or so depressed I can't move or care that I'll never be a blip on anyone's radar.

Everyone's confessing.
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(no subject) [Mar. 27th, 2013|11:06 pm]
I watched Amanda Palmer's TEDtalk today. "The Power of Asking." When I was last out with colleagues, I totally forgot what band she was with. I thought it could have been the Scissor Sisters or the Decemberists, but it's the Dresden Dolls. I even bought the Dresden Dolls' last album. I didn't listen to it fully. I sometimes fall down music vortexes, buy music I feel like I "should" listen to, and then don't listen. I'll go back to it. Maybe. I think I bought it on CD, so I might not be able to find it readily.


So she's married to Neil Gaiman, and they're just so fucking cute, aren't they. So dark and pretty and mysterious and creative and byzantine and labyrinthine and obscure and bizarre and arcane and occult and liminal and playful and wonderful. Lest you think I'm jealous, I am. But the topic was of interest to me, and she honestly does seem interesting and lovely and talented. But also a little head-in-the-cloudsy as well. Because her whole deal is that you have to let people pay for art, not force them to. And I think that is a wonderful thing that will indeed play upon the collective's need for art, and she will be paid for it. And I think it's a great model for the music industry.

But the artsy fartsy kind of thing wherein you "touch people's spirits" and whatnot, connect with them, for a fleeting moment, "see" the lonely, when they are just not seen by any other souls....and that makes some kind of deep difference, well, I guess my cynicism says that you aren't god's gift, lady. Your open, trusting, special snowflake identity isn't so precious that the world should just revel in you. But how much of this is me being jealous, and how much of it is me seriously questioning pretension, and how much of it is my own personal inability to connect deeply with others?

And I had a whole post, a whole fucking post that I just accidentally deleted...SO depressing! I thought I had some good resolutions in there. :( :(

I'll keep going, though, with what I remember. I am so sad about this, I won't be able to get it back.

An aside: I've recently been thinking about people like Zooey Decshanel (sp?), who get a lot of shit for being too "hipstery" or quirky, or cutesy. And I don't think it happens to male actors or personalities, even ones who embody personalities like "bro" or "douche" or "nerd" or even "indie." Ms. Deschanel's (sp again) co-worker gets accolades for having a comedic take on the bro, fresh and new. Women never get allowed to be doing a character, or having a comedic take. They are just annoying.

Aside over, I guess.

But of course it is related, because Amanda Palmer is "dark" or "gothic" or whatever, and I really do like that aesthetic. And I like her, she's magnetic.

But there is something truly annoying there. Because I don't think that most people would benefit from opening up in the way she seems to be advocating for. It's not that I don't think we should be less cynical and closed off in some situations. Being trusting and open can be a good thing, even if it's really scary. But people have a really fucking shitty side as well---the homeless don't have their needs taken care of, and there are genocide victims, victims of torture, of rape as a war tactic---should they all be more trusting? I'll bring out the worn old cloak of privilege, which Ms. Palmer certainly has in spades. I don't think she's unaware of this, but it grates a little when she goes on about her charmed open life.
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(no subject) [Feb. 17th, 2013|05:10 pm]
What does a counterculture mean to me?

Hello there, journal. I've been away. I've done a lot since my last postings: took a bunch of philosophy classes at the undergraduate level, applied and got into a philosophy PhD program. Yay! I'm a TA, for philo 101. We are reading the entirety of Plato's Republic. A major theme of the work is how best to educate people so as to have the best possible society.

Plato thinks that this means you have to be very careful as to what you let the youth absorb. The poets, the educators, they have to only portray the gods in a certain way, they have to be monitored closely. Eventually, you get to the point where the poets aren't even allowed in the ideal city; they can manipulate imagery and make it seem like the bad is good and the good is bad.

Today, of course, that's the internet and television. To be truly counter cultural you'd have to make your own decisions on what relationships mean, on what love means, parenting, community, politics, etc. I think some of the reasons culture has narrowed so much in the last fifty years is the capture of so many people's beliefs by using mass media.

What do I mean?

Well, our 'liberal' government is said sometimes to be less to the left, politically, than Richard Nixon, a stereotypical stodgy conservative. There were people taken seriously in the political sphere, not that long ago, who espoused pacifism or anarchy. Now these kinds of concepts are forbidden to even be explored, even a little, because we've been convinced they are 'juvenile' or 'communist' (which is like, what?) by the media.

This is just an example of the narrowing---I don't mean it to say that any widening would or should automatically be just in the liberal vein (though of course I think it's the more correct path)---I just use it to attempt the argument that if you really want to be an independent thinker, maybe there is something to less mass-culture absorption.

Buddhism tells you to be careful of the seeds you sow in your soul. I'd like to take that seriously, perhaps.
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(no subject) [Nov. 15th, 2010|05:46 pm]
Jon Stewart does not give many interviews, but recently he sat down with Rachel Maddow for 49 minutes, and I disagree with almost everything he says. More later, but here's the link.


There's a shorter one on the same site, the version that aired on television.

Bush isn't a war criminal the way Pol Pot is a war criminal, and if he is, then Obama is.

This is a paraphrasing of Stewart. He wants conversation starters, not enders.

I can't get it across strongly enough that you shouldn't talk to irrational people!

If someone tells me it's best for the country to murder all blue-eyed people, I'm not going to try and start a conversation with them!

Also, Bush started a war that has killed anywhere from 100,000 to 900,000 people in the last 8 years or so. "Over a million" is the number given to Pol Pot.

Bush is a war criminal.

Obama is trying to clean up his mess. Should we abandon the Iraqis in a country that we destroyed? I'm not saying that Obama is perfect...in fact I am incredibly disappointed with his center-right viewpoints. But...he didn't start a war for petty politics, money, whatever.

Stewart also talks about confirmation bias, not exactly a new thing. There's a point there, but it doesn't mean I need to give equal weight to all opinions, either! That's the absolute key thing, the thing that really really gets me in Stewart's rhetoric.

Then he goes on to another well known thing in professional thinking, that of charity in the analysis of others' arguments. So you learn about and think about other people's arguments, and you try and give them the benefit of the doubt. But Stewart wants to figure out ways that Bush & co. are not "evil."

They started this war, they approve of torture, and it's important to look at the reasons why. Did they think it would prevent American death. FDR interred Japanese-Americans, that's what Stewart has to keep in his head whenever he is blown away by what the Bush Administration was doing.

Except there is no justification for torture, especially in the fact of the fact that it just doesn't work as a tactic. But even if it does work, you come to the age old question. The question of whether it is okay to thoroughly shred your ideals in the name of their preservation. And it very simply is not.

There's no justification for starting wars for power, money, territory, influence, whatever! None. And caring why they thought it was okay to do so is no better than me asking why they think it's better for America if all blue-eyed people are dead.

Maybe FDR interring all of those Americans was an evil act, based in fear. I can freely admit that. Be suspicious of anyone who wants to tell you how you should live, who wants to make decisions on your behalf. So pretty much everyone who wants to be the President is suspect.

Critics are "part of the game," and it's disingenuous to claim otherwise. Ugh, sports metaphors. I can't see how any smart human being can honestly claim that they are so objective and in their own little bubble that information and influence only stream in one direction, toward them. When you explain, when you criticize, you are immediately part of the sphere of influence, and this drives me absolutely nuts when Stewart harps on it.
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More thoughts on my conversation/kind of argument from last night [Oct. 5th, 2010|09:51 pm]
I am actually pretty happy that my friends and I had a fiery argument, as it's made me think about some things! :) Here are some more thoughts. Yay friends!

Topic the first:

Destruction of meaning through analysis.

This is such a trivial complaint against analysis that I am sad I even have to state a defense, but without analysis there would be NO NEW THOUGHT! (Trivial in an academic sense, which is that is does not posit complex effects from its thesis, not in the sense that it's a silly or wispy thought.)

Think about art for me for a second. Think of the thousands of paintings and installations and sculpture that you have seen in your lifetime. Even books and music that you have digested. Which ones stand out to you? For me, for certain, even ones that had great emotional resonance are nothing more than a vague memory unless I thought more deeply about the piece. That's just a surface response: if you don't use language and thought to understand something you can never do more than have a nebulous feeling or notion about something. We *are* our language capacity, and there certainly is not cognition to the level of humanity without it.

More deeply, analysis provides different levels of meaning and understanding, and in no way "destroys" the initial sensory impression. I do believe that point was brought up in the discussion. But even if it *DID* render the feeling less powerful I would be happier to have a deep understanding of things (as couched in modern perspective as they are and always will be) then a passing glance. Studying what meaning is and what thought is and how we do that is, for me, the essence of the examined life, a life worth living!

I have heard the argument from many a naysayer of modern academia that all of these ridiculous ideas are out there, these radical ideas, these ideas that don't resonate with their worldview(which of course necessitates that they are hateful, apparently) are ABSURD and NOT IMPORTANT and WORTHLESS and JARGON and on and on and on....I've had to fight that notion inside my own head because I do NOT think intellectual exploration is ever any of these things, even if their products are. Or even as flawed as their proponents are, because certainly intellectuals will always be flawed in different manners.

99% of ideas will probably turn out to be wrong in science, and "wrong" in more subjective fields. But the act of generating ideas itself is never either of these things, because of its own intrinsic value.

Here we can approach feminism, without entirely abandoning esoteric academia, because they oftentimes go hand in hand. Eventually I'd also like to refine my definition of feminism that I gave at the bar (which was something along the lines of reducing the societal divide between men and women as much as possible with respect to biological differences. But I think at times those biological differences can even be in flux. Not to the point that there is no difference, mind you, but when we think of this topic[the royal we] we tend to make WOMEN and MEN these monolithic things that have no internal variation), because while I think what I was discussing is an important aspect in thinking about equality, I do not think of it as the totality. That's an aside for now though, and may have to wait for another time.

It is just PATENTLY ABSURD to suggest that whatever problems Americans have with debt and money mismanagement and an economy where men and women both have to work is the direct result of feminism. Putting that aside for a moment, who cares if it is? If you hold a value to be important, such that every member of a society should be able to make their own choices about how to live their lives (as much as possible, of course; nothing will ever be perfectly equal)...then changing that society to reflect that ideal more fully is of course going to cause repercussions that have to be dealt with! Nothing happens in a vacuum.

But, coming back to reality, it is impossible to exhaust the list of other things that have contributed to the state our the American economy today and the necessity for two income households. Here's a sample: concentration of wealth, emphasis on consumer goods, factory mass production, mass media, World War II, the industrial revolution, the emphasis on celebrity and luxury made into the way to be, Congress' overspending and borrowing from other nations, the military-industrial complex, suburban sprawl, the civil rights movement, corporate monopolies and oligarchies, dependence on foreign oil, the massive increase in cost to go to college, the service economy creating more ways to spend, emphasis on branding, less savings, ballooning health care costs, obesity, bad lending and the housing issues, real wages going down since the 1970s, outsourcing, a lack of Americans in science and technology, and overall de-emphasis on and denigration of intellectual pursuits, inflation, cars, the weakening/corruption of the labor movement and subsequent loss of worker power....I'm not certain how long you want me to go on.

Things change. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. There is never one cause or effect for anything that happens. If you think there is, you are reductionist to the point of not even being worth talking to(about that particular subject).

Okay, if you think that a woman who hates men, or even a strand of this in modern academic feminist thought, means that feminism can never come up with any worthwhile ideas, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, because re: ideas always being valuable, even if their products of the moment are not.

Now here's a moment where I'll play devil's advocate a little.

So what if some feminists hate men? More power to them. I don't hate men, but I can see where they get some of the ideological power of their arguments. One of the friends that was in the discussion last night and I had a recent conversation about a co-worker of his who dismissed everything someone had to say because they were an ideologue. The same point transfers here, one to one. Just because you disagree with the overall stance of a person does not mean that everything that comes out of their heads is automatically wrong.

Men *have* been in charge of Western society for quite a bit of time, and it *is* tempting to blame some major things on them. And while I think that is reductionist for my above reasons, it does not follow that some of the ideas that come out of an anger toward men will not be interesting, further thought provoking, or fruitful in some tangential way.

We talked a bit about Malcolm Gladwell as well, and part of his theory of outliers. So if you can agree that NHL players had a disadvantage because they were 8 when everyone else was 7, and therefore got more ice time and coaching and practice, which translated roughly in their NHL status...then what does 7000 years of male dominance do to women?

Do you think it changes their perceptions of what they even believe they can do?

Do you think it slightly starts to modify they way DNA gets activated throughout lifetimes?

Do you think it means we should give society and women a little more time to adjust to a wider freedom of choice than, say generously, 50 or 60 years?

No matter what your personal answers to these questions immediately are, maybe they're worth looking into a little more scientifically, a little more academically, a little more critically, a little more analytically.
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