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Monthly Archives: August 2019

At the end of a civilization, everyone plays silly games.  §

Every now and then I suddenly feel just how fascinating it is to be present at the twilight of a dominant civilization, just at the moment of climax when everything is beginning to crash to the ground and burn.

The inflection point that no one noticed was the moment—sometime in just the last few years—when everyone finally came to agree that yes, this is what is happening. Once you all agree you’re giving up, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a project with universal participation and endorsement.

And this endorsement has exploded.

Of course, different factions and tendencies have different rationales for supporting the collapse of their civilization, but the one thing that virtually everyone agrees with is that it is going and must go. (A few people try to wear a weak kind of denial like a pose, suggesting that it’s not that everything must go, only certain little chunks of it that are of course actually massive chunks when you look objectively, which no one does, but everyone in the end knows that it’s just a pose—we are all willing to destroy it without any promises for what’s to come next).

Those that came before us wouldn’t have tossed it away so lightly, but then they’d seen “things you people wouldn’t believe…”

— § —

What everyone gets wrong about Reagan is that it wasn’t about the idea that America was being saved (“morning in America”) but the underlying notion that the west was worth saving that led to his victory and that forestalled the collapse for another generation, as the final wave of holdouts found in him a champion for an otherwise (and soon enough to be fully) discredited idea.

But that demographic reality is long gone and any suggestion that it’s worth saving now, implicit or explicit, is met with derision on all sides, or that kind of disagreement-that’s-not-actually-disagreement by which people say it’s worth saving and then describe it in such a way as to make clear that they’re not actually proposing to save anything, but rather to tear everything down and refer to whatever takes its place using the same name.

— § —

The most comical thing—not amusing at all, but comical—in all of this is to watch our elite (vanguard) play at being The Very Serious People Who Analyze Such Things while all actually frantically working to avoid any analysis (as this might lend doubt to the project) and instead drive the bus onward.

It takes a while to spot this, but once you do, you can’t unsee it.

I was a fool for a very long time (I mean that in multiple ways) and played a role in their stageplay. For ages I was frustrated at the strange ways in which the incentives and sanctions of the environment didn’t seem to support the work that I thought we were all meant to be there doing.

Then, it began to dawn on me, that as someone that society was investing in, I was there to provide a return on that investment, and the return being sought was precisely to destroy things, first and foremost myself, my demographic fellows, and my corner of the population and geography.

Not to identify problems and solve them—not to build things. Building things is precisely what everyone doesn’t want in return for their investment in elites. Because we’ve all decided that this whole thing has to go. I was a commissioned officer in a very particular kind of army, I had a tactical mission in the larger strategic theatre, and that mission was the only thing for which I would receive support.

Once I realized that there was no particular market for anything in elite circles other than destruction vanguardism in my sector, everything began to fade for me, and soon I was out of such circles.

But I can still see them all from a distance, because they march very loudly wearing bright colors. There they go, Very Seriously Onward, putting on this odd, even twee puppet show as the fallout spreads and the bodies fall and everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone is in on the suicide.

— § —

I’ve thought a few times about returning to writing in a professional way. After all, I’ve written and published a minor stack of books, I know how to get it done. And I feel that pang of concern that suggests that a project ought perhaps to be in the works.

But such “projects” are rightfully the children of other kinds of epochs.

Now, the outcome is known in advance; you can quote the reviews, both positive and negative, left and right, before they’re written. You can quote them before the damned book is written. A dedicated artist could sit down and write, as a book, the entire media universe of coverage, discussion and counter discussion, that will arise in response to the book. Then, release the book and point, gigglingly, at everyone haplessly doing precisely what the book says they will in response to it.

But what’s the point? The giggle would be a shallow one and precisely in keeping with everything that such a giggle set out to “critique.”

We know what all the reviews from all of the parties in all of the valences about all of the products say. We know it in advance. We know it because it’s all just pantomime; everyone already knows because everyone is in on this together. We’re full of ennui and we’re going to burn this shit down, and we’ve all agreed that that’s what we’re going to do. The civilization, the neighborhood, the faith, our families, ourselves.

Not in that order. Because it doesn’t work that way. Together, ecstatically and while denying everything.

There is an ancient language that is no longer in play here—that has been lost. It is the language of making, rather than destroying things. At the start of our epoch, it was called “The Word.” No longer with us, we’re left only with technologies and discursive tools of death, despite (and indeed at the same time to the regrettably and regrettably indulgent ecstatic delight of) ourselves.

— § —

It’s not clear what the path out of this sort of vortex is, or that finding a path out is the right path in the first place. (Bit of self-deprecating QED there.) I tend to think that nihilism is like a contagious prion; once you have a critical mass of nihilism, it turns everything it touches into more nihilism—it even does this to anti-nihilism.

It sure is interesting to watch. Interesting times. The death of an entire way of being.

(This post will just have to stand in for the book.)

In which I argue, to much shock and confusion, that the world—and people—are polyaxial.  §

Tonight, apropos of a conversation that the kids and I were having about a particular old friend and my relationship to them, I explained that while I liked this person a great deal and have always considered them a friend, I’d never trust them.

They laughed.

“How can you like someone but not trust them?” came the largely rhetorical question.

The room was shocked into silence when I explained that not only was it perfectly possible to like someone very much and consider them a dear friend but not trust them, but that it was also perfectly possible to not like someone, not particularly think of them as a friend, yet trust them implicitly.

As the kids were spending some minutes in silence punctuated by bursts of chatter and follow-up questions, I realized that I couldn’t imagine most of the adults I’ve known over the years being anything but puzzled and a bit indignant about my position, either.

In today’s world of imposed reasoning and imposed conclusions, often at the point of an invisible ideological gun somewhere prior to consciousness, people just don’t allow this sort of thinking to register or to make sense to themselves.

What a strange, sad world we live in, in which many precious things have been lost.

Adults in the west hate children as much as they hate death. Maybe more.  §

Children today face an incredible set of pressures, partially in the form of negative sanctions, possibly in the form of positive reinforcement (or the withholding of such) by adults to:

  • Be sexually precocious (there are both gay and straight varieties of this)

  • Engage in cynical peformances (contemptuous punk rock at six)

  • Rattle off strings of slang and profanity

  • Exaggerate outbursts of sadness, angst, and self-pity

  • Repress attachment to those closest to them

  • Play the miniature Jacobin, fighting for “justice” apace

  • Appear as jaded as a mafioso as early as possible

  • …and so on

I find this troubling. I always did. Now I find it particularly troubling to see these things affecting my own children, and to know that it is primarily the adults of the world that are driving these things.

— § —

Tonight it hits me with clarity, in a ton of bricks.

I’ve always danced around the question with the presumption that it was a kind of sarcastic thought. “Why do adults hate children so much, sheesh?” I’ve asked myself, assuming that I was being hyperbolic.

Of course, as it turns out, I wasn’t.

Just as a great many things in today’s world can be explained by the generalized fear of mortality on the part of a population that has been insulated from hard things their entire lives, a similarly great many things in today’s world can be explained by the fact that, in general, the adults despise children.

Not only that, but they’re afraid of them. Disgusted by them. Repulsed by them. Torn apart by them. By the mere fact of their existince.

What is it that they hate about children?

Innocence, first and foremost. Innocence and truth. Evidence of the joy that they once felt and the potential that they once embodied, now both lost.

Adults today are terrifically, catastrophically, absurdly jealous of children. Jealous to the point of rage. Sublimated rage, but wild, frothing-at-the-mouth rage nonetheless. Today’s adults hate children with a passion, and their innocence, too.

And so they try to—let’s call it—neuter them. To remove the childhood from them. To get them doing sexual orientation, goth jokes, punk rock shows, and smarmy political virtue-signalling as soon as is possible.

Because when their children were born, suddenly, suddenly they found themselves standing in the very, very unfavorable half of a juxtaposition. Their children revealed just how inadequate they were and how hollow, hateful, and superficial they’d become. Yes, those juxtaposed against their very own children felt betrayed.

And those juxtaposed against others’ children felt indignant and imposed-upon and ashamed, as though a stranger had just seen them stroll healthily away from the handicapped parking stall.

— § —

I’ve saw this for years in people I’ve dated, from all over the place, for years, without realizing it until this very moment.

One of them hated children so badly I struggled to be around her whenever the topic came up. The bile poured forth in waves; it was like standing in the middle of a massive electric field and feeling your hair stand up on end and vibrate.

In the end, she clearly knew how much I’d been troubled by it because when I broke it off, she tried to halt the already departing train with what she thought to be an incredible concession. “I’ll give you children,” she said, “okay, I’ll do it for you, I’ll even give you children, just please…”

Funny thing, I’d never mentioned wanting any, and wasn’t sure I did. But I didn’t hate them, and she could tell—and she misread my decision that I couldn’t be with someone so full of venom any longer as (what in her eyes was) vice. It was like she was granting me an open relationship, or saying that I could drink as heavily as I wanted, or gamble as much as I wanted if I’d just stay.

Even in the moment of concession, she presumed that what I felt was guilt at a secret desire for children—one that she was willing in the end to indulge despite herself. It was beyond her capacity to understand that none of it had anything to do with me, or my responses to things, at all.

Go on, pick up The New York Times or The Atlantic. Or scan your Facebook or Twitter feeds. See how people in the opinion sections talk about children in passing. Or parenthood.

Or innocence.

Suddenly I can see all of the faces that I’ve known across the years that—I suddenly realize—were like wetted-down witches writhing and suffering in agony, burning at exposure to the truths most clearly embodied by our young, and determined to neutralize them at any possible cost.

— § —

Birth and death. Of course. I’ve rattled on about death for years.

But birth—birth, too, and perhaps moreso.

These are the two truths that already reveal a person’s inevitable mortality, and that always, inevitably, also reveal a person’s mistakes, regrets, and failings.

A society of badly fallen people running around like the criminally insane trying desperately to paper over the beginnings of life, the endings of life, and the extent of human potential before it is lost—so that they never have to face the truth about themselves.

— § —

I’m sure this post will earn me a veritable ton of friends.

It’s at the end of summer, not the end of the universe, that you meet yourself.  §

Summer wanes.

Late afternoon. Office chair. Three monitors, same as always. Work has come and gone; daylight has nearly done so as well. I haven’t yet turned on the light, so dusk has filled the room. Yes, that’s an inversion in physical terms—dusk is a growing absence, not a presence.

But absence has a kind of solidity as well, whatever the physical reality of things.

Physical reality is an impoverished dude, frankly.

— § —

What am I doing?

Not here, now. No, I mean—

What am I doing, in general? Big picture?

— § —

I routinely fret about all of the posts that I make that don’t have images in them. I have some 200,000 or more images sitting in Lightroom. So many years with a camera in hand, shooting everything.

And then I don’t use them?

Thing is, if I made the rule—I wouldn’t make any posts.

It’s an allegory on life in general. Or mine, at least. I do seem to recall running into a few people over the course of my life that run the opposite way—that appeared to be marvelously disciplined.

I wonder what’s more frustrating? Incredible discipline with average talent, or incredible talent with average discipline?

But then all of this is probably a misframing of things.

What would I do with all that discipline?

Be someone else. Not notice the dusk around me. Not even have the dusk around me, because I’d have turned the light on already. It’d be my loss.

What’s it all for, anyway?

What am I doing?

— § —

Some things. I’m trying to limit myself to one line each. Yes, yes, fine. Ego, attention-seeking, preciousness, and so on. I concede. Or is it confess? Whatever. I’m sitting in the dark, so I’m not embarrassed. Things:

  • America is in decline and will disappear within my lifetime.

  • Secular liberation is our new civic religion.

  • Yes, it has priests, who wear colorful vestments, even. Points for realizing who they are.

  • Not just America. The entire order that Constantine inaugurated.

  • Friendship is considered a sin in the new religion.

  • Not just friendship. Honesty, self-sacrifice, and loyalty, too.

  • Truth must never be anthropomorphized; when this happens, it becomes wrath.

  • All things pass mostly without notice, and all spans of time are ultimately congruent.

  • The notion that humans can “make” meaning is a tragic falsehood.

  • Always avoid the meaning-makers if you value your life, or your soul.

  • An old, wise fish—or an old, wise turtle—can teach one many things.

  • Old, wise humans lose their ability to convey truth, through no fault of their own.

  • It is a historical constant that no-one likes the Jacobins, including themselves.

  • Light, a miracle, is profaned by those who wield it rather than hear it.

  • There is not someone for everyone—or at least, not the someone you’re thinking.

These lists are never satisfying. It’s like I’m trying to arrive at the center of a maze, but getting no closer, turn after turn. Yet continue to turn I do, compelled—knowing all the while that sight of the center is not fated for me, and never will be.

— § —

The answer, invariably is:

I don’t know.

Small comfort in the existince of small certainties, &c.

Blogs make for interesting complications in life.  §

It strikes me every now and then just how odd it is to have a blog. And how reckless, in some ways.

Your name is out there. Everyone that meets you—from new friends to new employers—is free to find and read things you’ve lived, thought, and been. There’s no guarantee they’ll find something representative, or that they’ll hang around long enough to get a rounded image of you.

They might land on a vexing one-liner from a decade ago—or on a ten-page opus you wrote early some A.M. when your better judgement had gone to bed before you.

In a way, that’s thrilling. In another way, it’s at least foolish and possibly worse.

And yet here it is. And sometimes I absolutely love it. I must, after all this time.