Tag Archive | psychology

Suicide is Not For the Coward

So the lead singer of alternative rock band Linkin Park is in the news, because he killed himself by hanging. While I haven’t liked Linkin Park since their first album, and since I was in the 9th grade, a lot of people are coming forward to call Chester a coward for committing suicide, primarily because it means he left six children behind.

Regardless of whether you approve of his choice, it is stupid, and a horrific misrepresentation of the situation, to call someone a coward because they killed themselves.

Suffering is Relative

First, it must be pointed out that suffering is relative, and none of us has any insight into the inner turmoil within anyone else, and so none of us have the authority or information to accurately assess whether the person chose the “easy” route of suicide and was wrong to do so. We simply don’t know–because we can’t know–how a person feels, unless they tell us, and Chester did come pretty close to that, through his lyrics. These lyrics, incidentally, were those that angst-filled teens adored and identified with, because their own internal suffering was reflected back to them. But that isn’t really important.

Courage & Cowardice

I know many people who have “attempted” suicide. I’m among them, and the scars on my wrist bear it out. I was hospitalized in a behavioral ward several years ago because of it. Even after extensive research, I still didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the veins–no, seriously, the veins in your wrist are much deeper than you’re thinking–and I didn’t have any guns at the time. Today, I know a scary amount of information about suicide. Because of this, I’m well aware that the recent old Republican who “killed himself” with helium actually did commit suicide, and that there couldn’t possibly have been any foulplay. I know that, because I once owned a helium tank for exactly that purpose.

But I never did it.

Why not?

Because, as a method of suicide, it’s almost instantaneous. There is no time for second thoughts. Once you exhale and lower that bag over your head, that’s it. You pass out, and about half an hour later, you die, unconscious. I’m simply not struggling with depression badly enough to pursue that en sincera. I don’t want to die.

With very few exceptions, that is the same thing that nearly everyone who “attempts suicide” decides. There’s a reason that successful suicide rates are low. It’s not an easy thing to do. Substantial biological programming and the desire to survive outweigh most forms of depression, and, even when the depression is heavier, the person must face head-on their fear of death.

Anyone who has ever sat there with the barrel of a gun in their mouth, the blade of a razor against their wrists, a noose around their neck, or any other such situation and who still lives faced their fear of death head-on.

And they buckled.

They can make all the excuses they want. They can say that they realized that they were loved. They can say that they realized their problems would pass. They can say any-damned-thing that they want. But I know it, and they know it: the reason they live is that they are cowards. They stood on the precipice of oblivion and feared to jump, and so they backed away from the cliff. Some of these people are now calling Chester a coward because he didn’t back down from the precipice of oblivion.

Are you kidding me?

An Animal’s Instincts of Self-Preservation

There is tremendous resistance to death. Anyone who has seen wild animals chew off their own limbs (or humans saw off their own limbs) to escape from deadly situations knows that there is a powerful Will to Live inside every organism. Humans and non-humans are capable of incredible things in the interest of self-preservation, something that modern “horror” movies love exploiting for shock value. Put two people in a room together and tell them that one of them must kill the other, and then the survivor will be free, and they will almost immediately attempt to kill each other (Fun note: this is what Nietzsche described as Middle Class Morality). Saw off their own leg? No problem, once they have pursued other options.

Here’s a cold, hard fact for you: almost everyone out there–at least 99.999% of people–would cry and beg profusely as someone else lowered a noose around their neck. They would do anything, say anything, and promise anything to be spared. Disgusting amounts of tears and snot would run down their faces as they panicked, prayed to every god they could think of, and begged everyone nearby to “Please, I’ll do anything…” These are the same people calling Chester a coward because he lowered the noose around his own neck.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t true that, evidently, that’s how they see it.

There is an enormous difference between “thinking very hard about suicide” and gathering the means to do it, and actually proceeding with it. Even if the attempt is a failure, there is such an enormous gap between “thinking about suicide” and “legitimately trying to kill oneself” that most people can’t even fathom the divide.

It’s the same divide that exists between people who imagine how brave they would be if they faced down a criminal with a gun, and the people who have been there, and who gladly handed over their wallets and were terrified. Fear, after all, is what keeps people alive. It’s what kept human beings out of the darkness where there were lions, wild dogs, and hippos. That same exact fear keeps people from putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. It’s easy to say “I could have. I would have. I just changed my mind.”

In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer says he’s going to build “levels” in his apartment, and Jerry bets him that it will never happen. In the end, Kramer renegs on the bet, and says that Jerry didn’t win, because, “I could have done it. I just didn’t want to.” Jerry vainly attempts to remind him, “That’s the bet! The bet is that you wouldn’t do it.” Kramer again reiterates, “But I could have.” Frustrated, Jerry says, “The bet wasn’t that you couldn’t. The bet was that you wouldn’t,” but it’s to no avail.

This is what people are saying when they say that they could have committed suicide, and they would have–if they hadn’t considered the loved ones they were leaving behind. The loved ones that they remembered were the panicked product of innate biological tendencies within an animal to preserve itself because it was afraid. It doesn’t matter what their reason for changing their mind is–why were they considering such things in the first place? By that point, they are already second-guessing whether they want to commit suicide. What propelled that? What caused them to stop and think about anything instead of just taking the gun, putting it in their mouths, and pulling the trigger? Why weren’t they just thinking about that?

Because their brain was desperately afraid and trying to stop to them using the last tool it had at its disposal. Compelling one to stop and think about all the loved ones being left behind is how it does that.

Anyone who ever attempted suicide–or “thought about” attempting suicide–and who still lives is a coward. They stood on the edge of the precipice, and they backed down. They can offer up any excuse they want, but, at the end of the day, what stopped them was fear. There’s no other reason why they’d have stopped to consider loved ones in the first place. That’s the brain’s last defense mechanism against self-destruction.

Consider this: the person who is about to commit suicide and stops because they think of the pain and suffering it will bring the loved ones left behind are aware, at least in some ways, that the fact that they even care about the pain and suffering they’ll leave behind will vanish the moment they’re dead. Sure, “If I commit suicide, I’ll leave behind so much pain and suffering.” Yet, also sure, “But I’ll be dead, so… there won’t be even a single solitary second of my existence where I feel the pain of having left people behind by killing myself, because I’ll have killed myself.” They didn’t think about that, though. I’d bet that thought didn’t occur to the overwhelming majority of people who attempted/thought about suicide. And why not? Because their brain was looking for ways to talk them out of it, not looking for ways to talk them into it.

Thoughts & Control

We tend to think of “our thoughts” as something we control, and our brains as something that is fully at our mercy, and that’s simply not true. Sentience is a curious thing, but your brain absolutely does things to try to convince “you” of things. The human brain is countless parts communicating with one another, not some collective unit that the “I” controls. You’re breathing right now–you are not in control of that. Your heart is beating right now. You can no more make your heart stop beating than (and this is important) you can make yourself stop thinking. You don’t control your thoughts. A thought comes when it wants to, not when “you” want it to. When some part of your brain decides to generate it, that’s when the thought occurs. You can no more create that thought than you can stop it. It’s coming. The only choice you have is how “you” deal with that thought. Whatever you are thinking about when the clock strikes noon after reading this, you won’t have any power to prevent.

The “I” takes these thoughts coming in from various parts of the brain, and assembles them into some form it can process, and then makes a decision. Maybe the “I” can control the decision that it makes, and maybe it can’t, because the decision itself is merely a product of the information sent to it by thoughts that it cannot dictate–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the “I” doesn’t control what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. Even extensive training by Buddhist monks cannot allow one to indefinitely take control of what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. However focused the Buddhist monk is, and however in control of their thoughts they are, the moment they have to get back to life, they surrender control back to other parts of their brain. What will they think about while they slice potatoes in the monastery? While they till the ground?

You can do it, too. Think about an elephant, and try to keep thinking about an elephant. How long does it take you to realize that you’re not longer thinking about an elephant? Your thoughts will stray–a conga line of random thoughts perhaps not even related, until finally you’re thinking about John McCain’s brain cancer and realize, after forty seconds, “Oh, shit, I was supposed to be thinking about an elephant!” and direct your thoughts back to a pachyderm. Try to keep that elephant in your mind all day, as you go about work, as you eat lunch. You can’t do it. No one can. It requires exhaustive energy and focus to control one’s thoughts, and it simply cannot be done for any substantial period of time. You may think about the elephant several times an hour throughout the day, but through those instances, you’ll think about colleagues, food, friends, family, driving, money, and countless other things that you can’t control.

Those thoughts of loved ones that the person contemplating suicide has… They can’t control those thoughts, either. The question we have to ask is why the brain generated those thoughts. Why did some part of one’s brain conjure up an image of a son or nephew, and say, “But look how sad he’ll be…” and create vivid imaginings of the future of that child, raised without his father or mother? We can find the answer easily, by asking “What did the conjuration of those thoughts achieve?”

Well, it achieved causing the “I” to back out of committing suicide.

Why would a part of the brain want that?

Because it’s afraid of losing existence.

Conclusion

Maybe you don’t approve of what Chester did. Maybe you think it’s screwed up he left his family behind, and maybe you just think that suicide is immoral (I’ll save that for another day). Maybe you’re more like me, and you don’t really care one way or another, but you’d like it if there wasn’t so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding suicide. Making the statement, though, that Chester was “wrong” to make the choice that he did is saying “He valued release from his pain more highly than he valued the pain he was leaving with others. His values are wrong, and the pain he left others is much greater than whatever pain he felt.”

I hope we can all immediately see what an asinine statement that is.

We don’t know what pain he felt, or what his personal suffering entailed. We can never know what it was like to live within his head and to feel what he felt. We can never know how deeply in That Place he was. Neither can we know how his children and wife/ex-wife will feel about it. We can guess, and we’d be right to some degree when we’d guess “They’ll be really sad,” but we can’t quantify that. We can’t even quantify our own suffering. Ask any person how much hardship and suffering they face and I’d bet wholeheartedly that you’ll see a graph identical to what we’d expect based on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Everyone will rate their personal suffering and past hardships at 7.5, or thereabouts. I’d love to see a scientific survey done on this. In fact, I’m going to do one.

But if we cannot properly assess the value of his suffering and how bad it was, or the suffering of his family and how bad it’s going to be, how can we justify making the arrogant claim that he was wrong to make the choice that he did?

Western Nihilism 5: Fuck LGBT Pride

I changed the title of this post several times before landing on “Fuck LGBT Pride,” which I ultimately went with because of its shock value. The leading contender was, “Beyond the Celebration of Mediocrity.”

So if you haven’t read any of my Western Nihilism series, go ahead and click that tag on the right, and then return to this one, because it’s all connected. With that said…

Fuck LGBT Pride.

It is tremendously amusing that, at the same time LGBT people insist they are “born that way,” they’re also claiming the justification to take pride in it. To get a full understanding of the absurdity of this, imagine taking pride in being born white, being born blonde, or being born 5’11”. It’s asinine to be proud over something that one, by one’s own admission, has no control over.

Of course, I’m not convinced that anyone is born that way. There’s not a very good logical case to be made that homosexuality is hereditary, since a “gay gene” would be unable to reproduce and thus would have died out, but it’s not really worth getting into. I don’t dispute that no one has control over their sexuality, but whether it’s truly Nature, Nurture that happens unconsciously, or both, isn’t the clear-cut thing it’s often made out to be.

First, it has to be pointed out that being LGBT (or being an Ally) is hardly a controversial position. In fact, it’s pretty much mainstream. The whole fiasco reminds me of the countless YouTube personalities who suddenly found a keen interest in politics and hopped on the Sanders bandwagon thinking they were being edgy, when the reality is that modern liberalism is the new culture and the alt-right (despite its many flaws) is the new counter culture.

You’re not winning any Edgy Competitions by going on Twitter and saying you support lgbt equality. That’s a safe, comfortable position almost anywhere on the internet, and almost anywhere in the West.

So not only is it mainstream and safe, but it’s also a celebration of mediocrity. Taking pride in characteristics that are a fluke of birth is like a Participation Trophy for life. Pride isn’t something one can have simply by existing; pride is earned by doing. And the vast majority of people celebrating pride aren’t doing anything, because their efforts are undermined by the safety of the position.

There are obviously still places in the West where it’s inordinately difficult to exist as a transgender person. But as LGB? Not really. Even in the deep south, lesbians, gay people, and bisexual people aren’t really at much risk of being treated like shit. It does happen, but it’s far from common, and virtually non-existent outside of the Deep South like Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

People who truly face adversity deserve to stand up and take pride in overcoming those challenges, but don’t dare put your having to pee in a bottle because you couldn’t use the women’s restroom on the same tier as the trans men and women who are serving jail and prison sentences in their birth sex’s cell block. The only real issue before mainstream trans people is the bathroom thing, and it’s trivial to call it discrimination because you are a trans woman and had to use a men’s room. Be more passable. Put more effort into feminization.

Trans people have been using the restroom of their preference for decades without problem. Suddenly, it’s an issue, and trans people are being thrown under the bus by the LGB community over something that actually has fucking nothing to do with transgenderism. In reality, it has everything to do with homosexuality.

This is stated outright. It’s just that no one is willing to listen.

What worries conservatives is that men who are attracted to women could use the women’s restroom. They’re deathly afraid that a straight man would pretend to be transgender to gain access to the women’s restroom–they have openly stated this. They don’t want people who would be attracted to their wives and daughters being allowed into the secluded restroom with their wives and daughters. See? Their fear deals with heterosexual men and lesbians. It has nothing to do with transgender people.

It’s also more than a little chauvinistic. I can’t help but notice feminists also seem willing to let transgender people fight a battle that has nothing to do with them. No one seems worried that a F2M trans person could rape little boys in the men’s room. But instead of calling for an end to the white knighting, feminists are largely either quiet on the matter or entirely hostile to M2F trans people.

At any rate, the only issue the LGBT community at large seems worried about is where trans people will pee, as though it’s just the height of bigotry to use a specific restroom. Marriage equality has been achieved by fiat, and adoption agencies are being handled in a decently classical liberal way, where one state may not allow a gay couple to adopt, but a neighboring state will. Inconvenient, sure, but no one has the right to convenience.

Why even ask? That’s something I’m not understanding. I just went from Mississippi to New Hampshire, and stopped in every state but New Jersey and New York to use the restroom at least once. I never asked anyone what restroom I could use. I simply went in. What are they going to do, call the cops? With a response time of 34 minutes, my bladder will be empty and I’ll be on my way well before the Blue Mafia shows up.

If you give someone the opportunity to deny you, don’t be surprised if they deny you to avoid what would be, for them, added trouble. For example, if I enter a gas station and go straight to the women’s restroom, it is added trouble for them to stop me and tell me to use the men’s room. They risk causing a scene, ending up on Facebook and YouTube, being fired… It could get really ugly for them very quickly. Without exception, every single worker at every single gas station completely ignored me.

If I stop to ask them, however, I force the decision onto them, and they’re going to seek whatever appears to be the easiest, safest, and least controversial way out of the situation. They don’t want a fucking headache, man. At least if you decline to ask, you give them plausible deniability if some random bitch causes a fuss about it. Be considerate of the fact that they’re just trying to do their job and not end up on YouTube, and they’ll be considerate of the fact that you’re just trying to pee. I did this in Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, so I’d hazard the guess that it would work anywhere. It doesn’t get more Bible Belty than Mississippi, except in some parts of Kentucky.

And, let’s be real, if you’re trans in those parts of Kentucky, you’ve got bigger concerns than where you’re going to pee.

We are animals, and we are constantly being trained and conditioned, almost always without our awareness of it. It’s no secret that billions of dollars each year are spent on researching human manipulation tactics, and it’s the height of naivety to think the state isn’t taking advantage of that information.

I don’t watch much television or listen to any radio, but as we drove back from New Hampshire yesterday, two radio commercials caught my attention. The first said something to the effect of, “It’s a beautiful day. We get that you feel guilty that she misses you. While you’re out playing golf, she’s at home… Blah, blah… Buy her jewelry.”

It was one of the most manipulative suggestions I’ve ever heard. Do golfers feel guilty for going out and playing golf? Not that I’ve ever heard. However, that idea now has been planted. Any golfer may, next time they’re out playing, inexplicably think of their wife at home, feel guilty, and buy her jewelry to appease it. The more frequently that suggestion is planted, the more powerful it becomes.

I’ve seen countless times exasperated parents buy candy or toys for their screaming and crying children, desperate to get the child to stop crying and making a scene. Rewards and punishments–these are the known trainers of behavior, with rewards modifying behavior much more than punishments. When the child is given a toy, their crying is being rewarded. They learn from the experience that crying and screaming gets them things.

Fast forward to 2017, a year when political protest has become synonymous with mass demonstrations of screaming and crying people with no plan and no stated goals. They do this because they’ve been rewarded for it in the past; to get them to stop crying, someone gave them what they wanted.

We saw it most clearly following the 2016 election, when “protests” filled the streets and the internet was flooded with videos and posts from people who were publicly doing nothing but crying about the results and demanding that their unhappiness be accommodated. Black Lives Matter has done the same for years–what, exactly, does BLM want? What, exactly, does the LGBT Community want?

We know what these groups feel. And, often, we know the long-term result they wish to see, however vaguely it’s stated. What remains unknown, though, is what steps they’d use to go from “here” to wherever they’d like to be. Feelings aren’t policy. “We demand that cops stop killing young black men” isn’t a policy. It’s a feeling, and a misguided one since cops are killing people indiscriminately. It’s all the stranger in places like Memphis, where the elected city leaders and police force are predominately black.

To my knowledge, the only thing actively being expressed as desired policy by LGBT people is that trans people should be able to use the restroom of their choice. Obviously, that isn’t really the case–it’s the restroom owner’s right to dictate the usage of their restroom. It’s the height of entitlement behavior to demand that someone give you more, effectively punishing them for their generosity in providing free restrooms to the public. It becomes a matter of psychological conditioning: because a mall owner chose to build and maintain (at their own expense–Americans recoil at the idea of paying to use a restroom) restrooms, they’re punished.

So, too, does the reward of positive feelings play a powerful role in the shaping of human behavior. Praise is extremely effective at training dogs. It’s no less effective at training humans. Glamour Magazine named the Stanford rape victim their Woman of the Year. For all intents and purposes, she was rewarded for being a victim (without discounting the rape or the subsequent trial).

Who’s a good human? You are! Yes, you are!

It should come as no surprise that, after a few decades of this, we have plenty of people willing to claim to be victims of crimes that never happened, up to and including filing fraudulent police reports. How could we expect any other result? People aren’t simply being rewarded for doing nothing but existing; we go even further and actively reward people for being victims. They get to be the center of attention, which feels good, and further reinforces in their minds that being a victim is how they feel good.

Participation trophies aren’t a good idea, because they reward people for simply showing up. The problem is exacerbated when the kid who hit 14 homeruns gets the same prize as the kid who sat in the grass and ate bugs. Obviously, there are further variables, because hitting a homerun garners instant cheers, but at the end of the season it will sting for the Homerun King to receive no acknowledgement for the additional effort they put in, especially if those 14 homeruns were the reason the team placed third.

LGBT Pride is the most grievous example of the participation trophy. Not only is there no parade for people who have worked hard to be successful, but such people are widely condemned and punished by society, their rewards written off as stolen and oppressive. We celebrate that some people are born being LGBT, while we condemn Donald and Baron Trump for being born rich.

It goes even deeper than that, of course. We don’t simply despise those who are born rich; we despise those who have earned their wealth. We hate the strong and adore the weak, and therefore we love the victim, who is, by definition, a weak person abused by a strong person. Then we reward the victim. It’s not enough that we give participation trophies. We go further and actively reward people for weakness.

This is me.

In case you’d like a sound track while you listen:

Anyway, earlier today I discussed with someone the various kinds of programming that people are hit with from the day they’re born–religious, advertising, and so on–and it was a pretty good conversation. At one point in the discussion, I was asked “Why?” and I replied that the state–government–is one of the biggest programming/brainwashing elements out there. It is the most institutionalized, the least questioned and least challenged, the most dominant, and the most powerful. Anyone who spends any significant amount of time introspectively wondering whether their responses to various stimuli have been pre-programmed by external influences will eventually turn their attention to the state.

Honestly, I think I could hear her eyes roll when I mentioned the state.

In the modern west, there are three primary factors that go into our conditioning–and yes, we’ve all been conditioned. I’ve talked about this countless times. Here, I talked about how we’ve been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to associate nudity with sex. Here I discussed how we’re conditioned to place value–particularly, the value of “important”–in arbitrary things and, more importantly, to identify so strongly with that value that we use it as the basis for other assessments. It’s not a subject that I shy away from.

We’ve been conditioned to think of humans as boys and girls, black and white, and countless other divisive categories that serve no purpose than to separate us from one another and to slice the world up into groups of Us and Them. In this article, I explicitly discussed the fact that labels are useful only for communication–instead of saying to you “I have breasts and curves, long hair, I wear makeup, and I wear women’s clothes, but I have a penis” I simply say “I’m a shemale.” It’s about conveyance and communication, these labels. I even did a video on the subject–one I’m not particularly proud of, honestly–titled “Be an Individual.”

Groupthink is a serious problem, and it has its roots in conformity, which is another subject that I discuss fairly often–often enough that it has its own Category. The desire to conform and fit in binds so many people to be things they don’t want to be, and to do things they don’t want to do, because the act of standing up against the group and saying, “No! I’m going to just do me!” takes a tremendous amount of courage, because the path is riddled with fear. Fear of loneliness that comes with not being part of the group. Fear of rejection that comes when the group brands you as a heretic. Fear of stepping off the conventional path and into the darkness, to let go of the person you were following and begin feeling your own way out of Thesseus’s labyrinth.

Those three things are religion, advertising, and the state.

On the first, religion is certainly doing the least programming these days, and the days of its control of the population are waning. In the past, a person’s worldview and outlook were informed almost entirely from their religious beliefs; today, a person’s religious beliefs are informed almost entirely from their worldview and outlook. There are still plenty–like the people in my family, for example–who take their cues largely from the religious programming pushed onto them by their parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, who themselves had it pushed onto them by their own parents, ad infinitum.

That’s generally how things work. Each generation simply follows in the footsteps of the preceding generation, carrying on its trends, its ideas, and its practices. We look to the past as a guide and an anchor, using it to assure ourselves that we are on the right path, even as one thing after the other goes wrong. Even though that path has led to not one but two World Wars, the slaughter of Native Americans, the Holocaust, neverending wars, the destruction of the planet, widespread hatred, and so many other things, we remain on that path, never questioning whether we should get off it.

Painfully, someone has forgotten who I am. I don’t know how, but that is why I’m writing this–to state it once more, firmly and clearly. Here on Quora, someone asked if the next generation was going to be a Cupcake Generation, and I pointed out the same thing there: the next generation will be pretty much exactly like the preceding ones.

The most common thing is that a generation merely continues along whatever path the preceding generation placed it on, and that looks to be exactly what our generation is going to do—not just for tradition’s sake, but because we appear to actively fear change. We are terrified of everything and everyone, and the only thing that gives us solace is the knowledge that the state is there, protecting us from the bogeymen.

I am an anarchist, and of the mind that we do need to tear down everything. Every single existent human institution, and rebuild from scratch. We will not, however. We will continue traipsing merrily this path of destruction and self-destruction once our parents die and can no longer carry us down it.

The state isn’t merely one cog in the wheel of programming that we’re hit with our entire lives. It’s not some distant thing that can be safely and easily ignored as a factor in human behavior; it is the biggest source of programming that we have in the world today. And if the state isn’t directly controlling our minds through the education system, lies, manipulation, and coercion, then it’s relying on popular entertainment to do it–like with the film The Purge, where very few people questioned the premise. “Of course, there would be a lot of murder if murder wasn’t illegal for one day!” people thought, taking the premise and running with it.

But the premise is wrong, because it isn’t legality that stays people’s hands; it’s morality. We don’t kill each other for the reason that we think it’s morally wrong, not because we don’t want to be punished. Yet that idea is there. No one ever had to explicitly state it. The government didn’t have to write into a textbook that there would be widespread murder and rape if the government didn’t make them illegal, but that idea is in people’s heads, isn’t it? In fact, though, a lot of history and civics textbooks in high school do make the allegation that the government is what keeps these things from existing. In actuality, though, the government is a murderous, thieving rape gang. It is nothing else, and it is nothing more than that. It has simply used its power and the comfort of centuries of tradition to program us to accept it as inevitable and, in more modern times, actually a positive thing.

So, too, are we swimming in a sea of advertisements. I have no idea how an ordinary person manages to use the Internet–I’ve rarely seen anything in such a state of disrepair. My Verizon Galaxy S7 isn’t as flexible as my Sprint S5, so I’ve not been able to tailor the experience as much as I’d like, and the result is that I’m pretty much running stock Chrome as one of my primary web browsers. The experience is horrendous! Even a common news page has five or six ads, sometimes breaking up the text, and sometimes covering up the text. Hell, rare is the website that lets me visit it without prompting me for my email address to sign up for its newsletter. And if it doesn’t fill the screen with an ad that is going to count down for 5 seconds before I can close out of it, then it’s certainly going to shove them into my face while I’m trying to read. This isn’t just a problem on the Internet, though.

The television show M*A*S*H, which incidentally is one of my favorite shows, has episodes that are 25 to 27 minutes long. To accommodate this, channels that run the series today chop out entire scenes to make it fit in the 23 minutes of programming expected of modern shows. Even though you’ve paid money to enter and watch a movie, you will still be served ads. They’ll come over whatever music app you’re using, they’ll come over the radio, and you’ll drive by them on your way to work. They’re everywhere, constantly programming us. Billions and billions of dollars go into researching how best to make you think what they want you to think. It’s not an accident that Starbucks has the reputation it has, or that Apple has the reputation it has. They know how to program us.

Years ago, a bass player in one of my bands told me about a new vehicle he purchased that beeped incessantly any time the car was cranked but the driver’s seatbelt wasn’t fastened. After a few weeks of this, he was in the habit of fastening his seatbelt before even cranking the car. It’s a habit that he continues to this day. He was programmed by his car to fasten his seatbelt. And this sort of thing happens all around us all the time. Even being able to recognize it only minimizes its impact on us; there is a constant battle for our minds, with everyone and everything trying to define things for us, trying to tell us what to assume, and trying to tell us how to act, how to think, how to feel, and how to respond.

The state has convinced us that nations are real, that borders are real, that our enemies are real, that war is necessary, that it is necessary, that it must take money from us, that it must rule us, that it must spy on us, that it must keep secrets, that it must tell us how to leave, and that it must protect us from ourselves. I recently described it as an Imaginary World, like how my father is looking forward to all the good things that are going to result from a Trump presidency. As I said then: “What is he talking about?”

Trump’s presidency is likely to have no effect whatsoever on his life one way or another. Your life is proceeding exactly as it was two years ago, and so is everyone else’s. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. But people like my father–indeed, most Americans–live in this fantasy world, where Trump is either about to make everything better or about to destroy everything. They are fixated firmly on imaginary things. There are some places where this imaginary world created by politicians and rulers overlaps with our real world–like when I was arrested–but those are still rare occurrences. They are less rare as the leviathan state grows, which is why the United States currently has the highest percentage of the population in prison throughout the entire world.

The state, its role, and its power structures remain the same, though. The wars continue. The death continues. The slavery continues. The rape, the kidnapping, the brutality… it all continues, unchecked, because people are fixated on those imaginary worlds where things are either about to improve or about to totally collapse. And it is here that denial and cognitive dissonance take over. No matter how much things don’t change, and no matter how nothing ever changes one way or another, it never gets noticed and pointed out by the average person. The average person isn’t saying “Well, shit, nothing changed when we went form Bush to Obama, did it?”

But it didn’t.

Everything went on exactly as it had been going on, exactly as our parents had done, as our grandparents had done, and as our great grandparents had done. Because we’ve been programmed not to look. We’ve been programmed to not acknowledge the emperor’s nudity, and we’ve been programmed to convince ourselves that the emperor isn’t naked, so whenever anyone dares point out that the Emperor’s schlong is hanging out, we are conditioned to adamantly deny it, saying patently absurd and demonstrably false things like, “No, we withdrew from Iraq in 2011!”

I’ve met far more good Christians than I have bad ones. While I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I also don’t care to challenge anyone who does, because most people aren’t out there using their belief in the supernatural as an excuse to do terrible things. Some people are, like Steven Anderson, but most aren’t. Neither is advertising causing a great deal of suffering in the world, although materialism is–and I’ve spoken frequently against materialism.

By an enormous margin, the one thing doing the most harm in the world is the state, the programmed belief that we need a state, and the conditioned response to anarchism that the state protects us from evil in the world. The state has racked up a body count that the Christian Devil would envy–war-related deaths only, something like 120,000,000,000 people were killed by the state last century, and so far we’re on schedule to surpass that. Bombs are maiming and murdering innocent people because of the state. People are being robbed of their livelihoods by the state. People are being kidnapped and held against their will by the state.

The state is the most evil thing in existence. These groups of psychopathic, barbaric, murderous amoral, thieving rapists have conquered the entire planet and used their control of the world to convince virtually every ling person that we need those psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists to be in charge, because if they weren’t in charge, then we might end up with psychopathic, barbaric, murderous, amoral, thieving rapists in charge.

People should be free to explore themselves and reality, but that’s not just an esoteric idea, a meaningless platitude for dropping labels and blurring lines between genders or whatever social convention a person might want to break. People should be free not just in thought but in deed, because we are the culmination of our experiences, and we are the actors who create our next experiences. Control of our actions is control of us. Being free to explore the dark labyrinth of the human psyche, as Joseph Campbell observed people have been doing and relaying to us in the form of mythology for thousands of years, is only half the battle. After slaying the minotaur, Thesseus then undertakes the most difficult challenge yet: returning and sharing the revelation.

Western Nihilism 3: Biology Versus Social Justice Warriors

Be warned: if you haven’t read Western Nihilism Part 1 and Western Nihilism Part 2, some of this may seem unsupported or even nonsensical. So the links are provided there, since we’re building off that framework with a more specific example.

See, I just read a 1400 word whine from a partner of Vice about how she’s totally judged because of her height, how her height makes her life difficult, and how she often intimidates people. The article ended with a link to a partner article about how standards of age are a form of bias. We’ve really reached this point, then? We’ve genuinely forgotten that we’re animals to the extent that we can’t recognize the real, primal, and largely uncontrollable reasons that we sometimes find tall people intimidating and short people adorable.

Little Things Are Cute

We’re programmed to think that little things are cute. This is part of the human operating system–it’s not a third party program that some people installed. We find kittens adorable, puppies adorable, and babies adorable, for the same reason we find one-inch figurines cute. Those things are immediately read as helpless, and that’s what we’re drawn toward (in the absence of imminent danger).

People finding you adorable because you’re short is a simple byproduct of how genes programmed us to protect our offspring. Because let’s be real a moment: what defense does a pooping, peeing, and crying baby have? None. It survives by two biological processes–the first I’ve already mentioned. Being cute is the baby’s first line of defense against the innate tendency humans have to discard things that cry and poop everywhere. The second is the parental bond, of course, but the parental bond can’t explain it all, because just about any human would do anything in their power to protect a baby.

Helplessness is generally what humans find cute–helplessness makes the thing precious to us, like kittens and babies. We recognize on deep, primal levels that these things cannot fend for themselves, and that this marvelous living creature needs our protection and love. This triggers endorphins to release in the brain and triggers, “Oh, my god, he’s so precious!” to come out of the mouth.

Just think about anything you’d call “precious.” Now think about anything you’d call “adorable.” There is a 1:1 correlation between those things: whatever you find precious, you’ll find adorable, and whatever you find adorable, you’ll find precious. This is just the way humans work.

Demanding that we cast off all of that biological programming and cease letting ourselves think short people are adorable is nihilistic. It’s an attempt to undermine, consciously ignore, destroy, or mitigate the very biological processes that cause people to like babies. So you having people say “You’re super cute!” isn’t really that big a deal, is it? Not when stacked against the evolution of our species and, hopefully, the continued evolution that happens when people find little things cute and when the perception of helplessness (being a kitten, being short, whatever) is what triggers the endorphin release that makes them gush over infants.

So get over yourself.

“I’m tall, so I intimidate people.”

Bull.

“I’m tall, and I intimidate people,” is what one should say. Being tall–within ordinary human limits, not talking about people like Shaq–is not inherently intimidating. If you’re intimidating people, it’s going to be because of:

  • Being very tall and very large (fat or muscular)
  • Body language.

It’s almost certainly going to be the latter. Most people don’t pay any attention to their body language, but doing so would fix these issues people are having. I learned in my last year of college that i intimidated the crap out of people. Muscular, wearing A-shirts (“wifebeaters”), wearing eyeliner, shaved head, intelligent, a bit over six feet tall… But it was my demeanor that intimidated people, not my height, intelligence, or any of the other excuses I could list to wriggle out from under the fact that my demeanor was intimidating people.

Of course I had a litany of viable excuses ready to go. Perhaps it was the chains on my Tripp pants? Maybe the eyeliner. Maybe the shaved head. None of those things were “on me,” and that’s the difference. “I’m just being myself, and I can’t help that, so if people are intimidated then it’s their problem, not mine.”

It wasn’t any one thing; it was the whole package that was “my presentation,” and it intimidated people. The biggest part of that was certainly my body language.

Height isn’t really an issue.

I couldn’t guess how many people I’ve met in my life, and I can only think of one person who truly intimidated me. His name was Joe, and he was the manager at a client’s office. He was enormous, possibly seven feet tall, and stocky. He had a deep voice and a No Nonsense attitude. Square jaw and square chin–looking at him was like looking at a cinder block that decided one day to grow a body. I avoided him whenever possible.

His height had little to do with that. It was the whole package (his demeanor) that was intimidating.

My ex-wife is now married to some old dude who is even taller than I am. We knew him for years (and no, there was nothing going on there–it seems she just latched onto the first guy she found after me), and I have never in the least intimidated by him. The drummer in my band then was almost the same height (I’d guess about 6’5″), and he was never intimidating, either.

Because it’s not about height. It’s about demeanor. It’s about the whole package you’re presenting, not one aspect of it.

Escaping Personal Responsibility

Seeing as they view personal responsibility as some deprecated, gross thing that should be rejected because “It’s everyone else with the problem, not me. I’m perfect!” it’s not surprising that we see here another way to lift blame from the one responsible (The one presenting the demeanor) and shifting it onto people who aren’t responsible (The ones witnessing the presentation).

If you made a PowerPoint presentation using terrible font choices and horrific colors, would you blame the viewers if they said your presentation sucked? “You’re just biased against people like me who love these fonts and colors!”

Sure, that’s true, in a limited, narrow, and asinine sense. There are biological reasons that we prefer complementary colors, largely due to how our eyes evolved first seeing only light and dark, then red and green (if I recall correctly), and then the other colors incrementally until we had the vision we have today. At the heart of it are more biological processes that we don’t have any control over. We like clear, readable fonts in vibrant, contrasting colors. Dark blue script fonts on a black background won’t be appealing to many people. And that’s not our problem.

It’s yours, because it’s your presentation.

We Are Animals

And we have forgotten that. We are compelled by genes and biological processes that we’re only beginning to understand, but the shocking revelation has been that it’s not really the survival of the individual that our subconscious minds care about; it’s the survival of our genes, which led to the term Gene Machines.

If you spit on everything that helped ensure the survival of those genes, then yes, you’re certainly being nihilistic. In and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but this nihilistic tendency is really starting to dominate western society. After all, we’ve legitimately reached a point where someone writes an article about being stereotyped because if one aspect of their demeanor, and how everyone else is at fault, and the writer isn’t laughed off the internet for being ridiculous.

Jurnalizm

A few days ago, I watched the American media and the two leading presidential candidates stumble in confusion over whether or not they were allowed to call an explosive device a “bomb.” I watched Trump be criticized for using “the b-word” and then I watched Hillary, mere seconds after criticizing Trump for it, call the thing a “bomb,” and I watched the media frantically dance around and try to paint one incident or the other in a better light.

This election, I’ve seen CNN edit videos so that a young girl who explicitly calls for violence and the burning down of white people’s homes instead sounds like she’s advocating peace; in other words, they flipped her message 180 degrees, quietly issued an apology through a nobody affiliate on Twitter, and then buried the truth. I’ve watched CBS edit interviews with Bill Clinton to cut out things that they didn’t like, and then, as CNN did, hide behind the same bullshit “We edited it for the time allotted… It’s just an unfortunate coincidence that we cut out something that would, by itself, have been newsworthy.”

I’ve watched the Washington Post, which rode the tail of the leak to win journalism awards, turn around and condemn Edward Snowden with an editorial that argued he shouldn’t be pardoned. I’ve watched a presidential candidate’s son comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles where some of them are poisoned, only to have someone stupidly respond, “Are you suggesting that we eat refugees?”

And, most remarkably, after following the analogy of Trump’s son (which we could discuss, and whether or not it is fitting) with such a horrendously dumb-ass remark, the idiot didn’t go and bury himself for the crows to come and feast on his eyes.

What in the hell has happened?

I’m too young to remember a time when journalists gave a shit about the truth. As long as I’ve been an adult, journalists have had angles, and the closest I’ve ever come to believing in the fairness of a journalist was just before Anderson Cooper got his own show on CNN. Prior to that, I thought he was just a guy trying to do what he thought was decent.

The entire thing is a game, as the alt-right has made clear. These people like Milo Yiannopoulos–they don’t believe the racist shit they say. They are professional trolls, and they’re good at it. There is overwhelming evidence of this. They are playing a game, and they know that they are playing a game, and that’s okay, because they’re good at it. When I see national news networks editing interviews and videos to drastically alter the message, it seems inescapable that it’s not just the alt-right that is trolling.

It’s the entire media.

It says a lot that one of the Tweet responses that Trump’s song received and that was broadcasted at Raw Story is the one that stupidly asks, “Are you proposing we should eat refugees?”

Motherfucker, do you have a brain?

I would be ashamed to say something like that. And while this person (gods willing) doesn’t appear to have been a journalist, it’s hardly important, because this is the world journalists have created, by pulling shit exactly like that.

Social media could have helped, but we immediately turned to the algorithms to protect us and create our own echo chambers. Go to any Trump supporter’s Google News feed, and you’ll find it filled with pro-Trump articles. Go to any libertarian’s Facebook page, and you’ll find their feed conspicuously missing pro-Hillary people.

They attempted to address this by leaving their algorithms “context-neutral.” That is, the algorithm doesn’t care if you liked a video or disliked a video; the algorithm doesn’t care if you +1’d a post, Liked a post, or left a scathing comment. Did you interact with the post? If so, posts like that are added to the “stuff you’re interested in” pile and become more likely to be served to you. This doesn’t help the issue with people being exposed to contradicting information; it only ensures that we have two types of echo chambers: those filled with circle jerks, and those filled with angry yelling.

The only way to fix this is to consciously look for the things you don’t want to see. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Youtube all exist to help you find the things that you do want to see. This isn’t a problem–it’s what they exist to do, after all. But more and more these are important tools of communication, spreading the DNC Leaks even as the media attempted to ignore them, revealing the truth of the video edits even as major networks obviously tried to hide them, and giving us a way to communicate directly, in a p2p way, bypassing the server altogether.

Social media networks were not made to accommodate that, though, and so the onus falls to us to destroy our own echo chambers. This is all the more difficult because half of everyone is lying, and the other half is stupid. You can’t rely on Facebook because it will serve you memes that are demonstrably false, because no one is willing to take ten seconds out of their day to fact check the damned thing–If it’s on the Internet, it must be true.

I’ve written about this before, and how, in the long-run, the prospects for American society are extremely bleak. We are all racing to the desert to bury our heads in the sand, and we’re somehow totally unaware that we’re doing. We are just a few decades from people who will go their entire lives without ever hearing the words “presidential election.” Such a bizarre thing to imagine today, I know. But just apply what we’ve discussed here and look forward.

These algorithms aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’ll only get better.

How can you express an interest in something that you don’t know even exists? That is the question that will bury our heads in the sand and leave us firmly under the grip of a ruling elite; it is precisely what will make us the disinterested proles of Orwell’s 1984. Furthermore, it is exactly what these algorithms will produce. It’s not simply journalism that is the problem; the problem with journalism is that it’s merely a reflection of American values.

And these are American values:

_20160920_101105

It’s actually worse than this. The first article is about the recent American bombings. The second article is about Trump’s response to it. The third, we finally get to the horrendous state of affairs in Syria–which deserves its own article, but I don’t have time for that right now. The fourth, an article about how George H. W. Bush is voting for Hillary. Fifth, an article about the wage gap that is probably 99% bullshit and 1% outright lies. I say this because the preview here cites the wage gap for women at around 19%, while research shows 1.9% would be much more accurate (but still too high in most industries).

This isn’t how humans were meant to live.

Isn’t it time we took back the world from these psychopaths and trolls?

That is the state. The other people were our parents and grandparents, who set up this world in the fucked state that it’s in, and we inherited it without questioning it. Just like they did, we started standing up when the bell rang. We didn’t ask “Why?” and we didn’t consider remaining seated. We just blindly followed them, doing what they did, even as the entire planet was engulfed in war. It’s so bad that I’ve heard people characterize this state of affairs as “world peace.”

No, really. I’ve been asked on Quora, “Isn’t Donald Trump a threat to world peace?”

A threat to–

A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!

What the hell part of the world is at peace? If this is what world peace looks like, then it is my deepest hope that someone will rise up and threaten it. But, like everyone else, he isn’t thinking, the person who asked that question. He’s just standing up when he hears the bell, just like his pappy and grand pappy did.

And we have the power to change it overnight, almost instantly, simply by wanting to. We just have to stop standing for the fucking bell.

Addendum

It’s pointless, isn’t it? I just scrolled through my Facebook feed, and this is what I found:

I’m stunned.

I’m fucking stunned.

Americans spent the weekend dealing with the bombs of a Muslim terrorist.

The Cease Fire in Syria was Dead on Arrival.

Americans killed nearly a hundred Syrian “allies.”

Syrian “allies” killed dozens of UN humanitarian workers.

BUT ANGELINA AND BRAD ARE DIVORCING OMG OMG OMG OMG

I’ve Been Down This Road Before

fingerThis morning my employer confirmed the suspicions that I wrote about yesterday. His reply was exactly what I had expected, and had been delayed for exactly the reasons that I expected. Like my sister, he expects me to “just deal with it” and to just be trapped in the box out of pragmatism.

But I will not.

I will not do it again. That is no way to live.

Like my sister assumed, he assumes that I will back down because I have to have a place to live, and he’s not wrong. I don’t make enough money to afford anywhere else. I live in rural Mississippi and am basically a serf to this employer; it doesn’t even appear to be by accident that I don’t make enough money to do other things, you know? I’ve talked about that before, and I’ll provide the link here.

This situation is very much a “You’ll hide the fact that you’re transgender from my son, or you’ll be kicked out, and I don’t pay you enough for you to live elsewhere, so suck it up and put yourself back in the box.”

How can I take it any other way?

It is irrelevant that he is a bit nicer about it than that, and that he hasn’t overtly said that, but that is what he is saying nonetheless. Look at the situation more closely, and keep in mind that I’ve spent the last year trying to get a different and better job. There just aren’t any here in rural Mississippi; I need money to leave, and I need to leave in order to make money. And now I am facing a situation where my employer is threatening that I will be kicked out if I continue openly being transgender, and so I must get back in the closet because he, my employer, doesn’t pay me enough for me to do anything else.

suspicions confirmed

Though it was not overtly said, the message is clear. If his son moves into the house in question, he expects me to get back in the box. He doesn’t seem to have grasped what I meant when I said that I will not be put back in the box. Have you ever seen the film The Man in the Iron Mask? Leonardo Di Caprio gives a stunning performance, and at one point he cries, “No, kill me if you must, but do not make me wear that mask again.”

I am being told to wear the mask again.

What consequences will result from this decision? Terrible ones. Unemployment, homelessness. Yet the alternative is one that I cannot face. I would sooner die. I have lived that life before, trapped in a small box–then a bedroom–and not even allowed to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t even able to be me until after my nephew had gone to sleep because, no matter how many times I berated him, he had the lamentable habit of barging into my bedroom without knocking. My sister and her husband would have thrown me out then and there if her son had walked in on me as me, and I couldn’t handle that. And even then, once they were gone to bed, I was forced to stay in my bedroom. I couldn’t go to the kitchen or bathroom. If one of them woke up and saw me, they’d have thrown me out.

This is the same situation, and I’ve been here before. The box in which I will be trapped is bigger, but I will be trapped nonetheless. Did I leave something important in my car? Uh-oh, better change clothes completely. Can’t just walk outside and get my stuff out of my car. Do I need to do laundry? Better hope he doesn’t open the dryer or anything. Plus, for complex reasons I don’t feel like getting into, I bathe in this house that we’re talking about. I use the freezer in this house that we’re talking about. If all this strikes you as bizarre, read the post I linked above.

It was actually that house that I was renting in the first place. But the owners keep a bunch of ceramic knick-knacks and other shit in there, and my cats broke one of them. They were supposed to come and remove their shit, but never did, and they ultimately asked me to move into the other place, which was fine, for the most part. I still have free access to the other place–I do my laundry there, I freeze my ice there, I bathe there, I park my car in its garage, because it’s like fifty feet from where I do live.

I knew as soon as I received the initial email Sunday that this was going to be bad, because it all hinges on one thing: his son’s tolerance, or lack of, for transgender people. It’s hard to believe that this guy who has known me for 5 or 6 years would so callously see to it that I’m kicked out, even though it wouldn’t be doing him a damned bit of harm, but I already know from experience… that it doesn’t matter.

My own sister, someone I have known my entire life (obviously), kicked me out for it. I have no delusions that his son will be more reasonable, more open, and more understanding. The fact that he’s known me for years and knows me to be, at the very least, an alright person, will count for nothing.

It’s not even “being transgender” that people have a problem with.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a girl wearing men’s clothes without it being a problem? Just the other day at a client’s, there was a girl working there who was clearly wearing men’s clothes, and no one looked twice at her about it.

It’s not crossdressing or transgenderism that people get pissed off about.

It’s feminization.

Even here in bum-fucked Mississippi, it’s totally acceptable for a girl to wear guys’ clothes. In fact, it’s pretty common–probably more common here than in other parts of the country. But if a guy is caught wearing girls’ clothes… It’s life-threatening. At the very least, he’ll be attacked.

And that’s the problem here. So many of these people know me as a guy. They won’t see Aria and go on about their business. They’ll see this guy that they see every other day wearing women’s clothes. Even though they wouldn’t care in the slightest if ” a girl they see every other day” was wearing men’s clothes, I would not be so lucky.

I’m honestly not sure what to do here. I can’t go back in the box, and I won’t. My employer’s latest email insists that I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I have been down this road before. His gut reaction is the correct one, I know from experience.

When I first realized I had to start coming out to people as transgender, I was torn about my sister. My gut told me that she would flip out, and a friend of mine who knew her very well agreed. As I continued pondering it, however, I became convinced that I was freaking out over nothing. She already knew for the most part–it was an unspoken secret. And she was my sister–together, she and I had gone through alllllllll that bullshit:

And this one:

Yes, we went through a ton of bullshit, and all that is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s enough for me to fill an entire book that I’m calling Dancing in Hellfire and am trying to find an agent for. God, having that book published would alleviate all of these problems, would easily provide me with the means to move to Vegas and escape this nightmare where shit is constantly hanging over my head, where I’m always in danger.

I convinced myself that she wouldn’t care. So I told her. She said she was fine with it, but that she’d have to ask her husband whether I could simply be me as I paid them rent each fucking month. Weeks passed. I finally asked again. She said she hadn’t. More weeks passed, and I finally asked again. She said that he had a problem with it. She lied, of course, and I knew that she would: it was never her husband (who had once lived with a cross-dresser) who had a problem with it. It was her, and she used her husband as a convenient excuse.

Finally I laid it all out for them in a letter, informing them that I was proceeding with it, and that they could accept it, or not. It was then that I received that fucked up text message from my sister:

bitchSo oh, yes. I’ve been down this road before, and unless I’m able to move to Vegas this time, I will end up going down this road again. It’s so much easier for people to reject me than to confront their own discomfort, their own disdain for feminization, and their own cognitive dissonance.

I’m so tired.

I just want to be left to live, work, and love in peace. Why is that so goddamned much to ask? Everyone else is allowed to do it. But no, because I choose to wear women’s clothes and present myself as a woman, I’m not allowed those basic things.

Why can’t I wear the shirts I want to wear, the jeans I want to wear, and the shoes I want to wear? Why can’t I present the face that I want? Men can grow beards if they want; men can grow mustaches if they want. But I can’t wear makeup? Why can’t I wear my hair a certain way? Everyone else can. Everyone else can wear the shirts they like, the jeans they like, the shoes they like.

But me?

No.

It’s not a matter of courage. There is nothing to be gained by presenting myself as a female permanently here in Mississippi. It would leave me unemployed, homeless, and starving to death very quickly, and that is if someone didn’t attack me and kill me before those other circumstances started falling on me. It wouldn’t be “courageous” to present myself as a female all the time here, because everyone here has known me as a male. You can see from my videos that I’m passable, for the most part. Yet I’ll never be passable to the people who have always known me as a male. While my friends are accepting and don’t give a shit, that doesn’t apply to the random people who see me around town.

I’m so tired.

Never Again.

I told someone recently via email “The spirit leads you astray.” It would take me longer to explain what I meant by that than would really be worth it, but suffice it to say that I have very good reasons to believe that this person is being lead astray by spiritualist bullshit that establishes some esoteric, mystical bullshit reasoning over reality, and the reply I got to this merely proved that I was correct.

You and I will have to incarnate here, on this Earth, *at least once more*.

It’s inevitable.

IMG_0924This is some of that nonsense you may have heard called Spirit Science, which is a bunch of bullshit thought of by people who felt like they were special yet didn’t actually do anything with their lives [This is not a claim about the people who come to believe the Spirit Science shit–it’s about the people who invented it]. Because they have nothing in the real world to show that they are special, they conceived this bullshit of Indigo Children and other off-the-wall shit with absolutely no basis in reality. It’s literally shit that someone simply… made up… because they felt like they were special, but they didn’t do or say anything that displayed they were special. Seeing this disparity, they concluded, “I’m special spiritually,” and thus Spirit Science was born.

It is typically called pseudoscience, but there’s nothing scientific about any of it. They go from things like Phi and Pi [I have Pi tattoo’d on the back of my right hand, and I have the Golden Shape (which is, of course, built off Phi and the Golden Ratio) tattoo’d on my left arm, while I have the Greek letter Phi tattoo’d below my right shoulder… But for reasons dealing with science, not bullshit], build into the Tree of Life, and they somehow manage to work in pretty much every spiritualist belief out there. Chakras, Yin/Yang, Karma, Chi, Feng Shui, you name it. If you ever get bored and want to see just how far people can go with making up random bullshit, check out some of their videos on YouTube some time, and stand in awe that anyone anywhere believes some of this shit to be true.

To be fair, the claim of Spirit Science that we are naturally feminine creatures who once thrived on Atlantis until we built a portal to another dimension that allowed the masculine Martians to come to Earth and corrupt our souls… [Afterthought: Yes, it’s actually crazier than scientology–a load of bullshit that also tries to hijack the legitimacy of the word “science” while corrupting it to ridiculous degress.]

I’m sorry. I gave myself a migraine.

That’s not a negative assault on their beliefs, though. It’s not like when I say that Christians believe in an all-powerful deity who gave birth to himself and came to earth in mortal flesh to forgive us for something that he made us do, died, and came back to life as a zombie. No, I’ve put no spin on the Spirit Science delusion; that’s really what they believe. Throw in some reincarnation, add some extreme corruptions of String Theory (which is already pseudoscience), and mix in some extreme corruptions of the word “dimensions.” Pull some extraordinary linguistic sleight-of-hand because of how scientists discuss dimensions as fact (in terms of length, width, depth, and time) and the possibility of further dimensions, and, when no one is looking, start talking about “dimensions” in the other, wackier since of “parallel universes,” and voila! You have psuedoscience, and you get to tell people “Scientists believe there are other dimensions!”

Yes, some scientists (the ones who, I would argue, already approach pseudoscience with the religion that is String Theory, but that’s another topic) postulate that there are more than the observable dimension of spacetime. But when a scientist says “dimension,” the scientist isn’t referring to an alternate reality where everyone wears a cowboy hat or exists in ethereal form. And the Spirit Science people know that, just like Christians know that when scientists use the word “theory,” they don’t mean it in the sense of “guess” as the layman does. This habit of taking scientific words and twisting them into the layperson’s meaning is indicative of bullshit, and anything that does it should be rejected. The truth doesn’t need deceit.

Anyway, so part of the Spirit Science host of bullshit is that Earth is a hard dimension (in the Bullshit Sense, not the Scientific Sense) to exist in, and that we have all chosen to come here–presumably because we want the challenge, who knows. But we have to “ascend” and bullshit like that, which means, yes, like the Buddhist ideology they shamelessly copied, we’ll have to reincarnate here several times until we succeed.

Honestly, if I believed I had to go through another life, I’d off myself right now.

This is who you think it is that I’m talking about. Presumably, she holds that we’re cosmically linked or something (I’d remove the “s” if it were up to me), and I don’t feel arrogant or conceited to make that guess. Notice, however, that she asterisk’d “at least once more.” This is certainly because I have a duology of songs called “At Least Once More” and “Never Again.” It’s part of the collection I’m working on inspired by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence / Songs of Experience, obviously, and I’m doing the same thing. Each song exists as a pair, and here the two are “At Least Once More” and “Never Again.”

It’s disheartening that immediately after I advised her that the spirit is leading her astray, she would respond with this spiritualist stuff, because… that’s precisely what I meant. So her idea, presumably, is that she and I will live again, and that things will be different, or that things will go differently? That’s ridiculous.

This life is real. The power for us to be together was 100% in her hands, and still is to a large extent though it’s certainly no longer that simple. The idea of going “Fuck it. I’ll do it next go ’round.” when there is no “next go ’round” is exactly what I meant. It’s no better than the Hindu guy who has been standing for more than three decades because he is convinced that his suffering in this life will be rewarded in the next.

There is no next.

There is only this.

Every… indication… in the universe… is that we are mortal beings, and that we will die, and that our deaths mark the end of our existences. In hundreds of thousands of years, we have never found one solitary shred of evidence to support the notion that we continue to exist after our deaths–and believe me: we have been looking. We’ve hardly done anything else. For thousands of years, our species has peered into every corner of existence, searching desperately to find some sign that we will live beyond our deaths, and there is no such evidence.

Despite people offering millions of dollars to any psychic who can prove his/her powers in controlled circumstances, no psychic has been able to display any powers. Despite millions of people recording videos every single day, no one has ever furnished any video that proves the existence of the supernatural. Despite countless MRIs and EKGs, and despite that we know pretty much exactly how the brain works and produces sentience and consciousness, no one has ever found a soul. We now know exactly how the brain makes us aware of ourselves, and we know exactly how the brain produces “ourselves,” our personality, our interests, our likes, and our dislikes, and we know beyond any doubt that none of it has anything at all to do with a soul–it is all electromagnetic and chemical processes happening in the brain, and we know exactly what regions these things happen in. There is nothing left of us for a soul to provide.

wmapWe know almost exactly how the Big Bang happened, how hyperinflation caused the homogeny that we see in the WMAP satellite images, how the superforce fractured in the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang to become the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. We know exactly how gravity caused Hydrogen atoms to coalesce, ultimately forming stars that exploded and died, creating heavier elements as they lived and creating the heaviest elements as they died, spraying iron and gold and oxygen into the universe in small quantities. And we know how cosmic dust clouds like the Eaglehead Nebula continue to create stars, and we know how around one random star a random chunk of rock happened to coalesce at an acceptable distance from a star to host liquid water. And we know how molecules formed in the salty, turbulent oceans rife with the chemicals necessary; we know how a little spark of lightning could have spurned the evolution of those molecules into RNA, and growing into the first self-replicating molecule. We know how this little piece of organic life thrived and grew, dominating the entire rock and its oceans, ultimately producing cyanobacteria that feasted on the abundance of Carbon in the atmosphere and turning it into Oxygen, eventually evolving into plants and allowing mammals to flourish. We know how this led to the evolution of homo sapien. There is nothing left for a god to have done.

We can explain our existences, our minds, and our lives without invoking gods and souls, and we have, in effect, left nothing conceivable for gods and souls to do. What is the point of a soul? It does not make me who I am. The chemistry of my brain does that, and that’s a scientific fact. What is the point of a god? Humans do not need a god to have come about, and that’s a scientific fact. In fact, something as redundant as a soul would have been among the first things to go in the evolutionary process, since redundancy is waste. The soul cannot provide my personality–my brain does that, and we know exactly how my brain provides my personality. And we know that brain damage would very much change my personality–a fact that spiritualists tend to ignore, though it certainly wouldn’t be the case if souls (presumably undamageable) provided our personalities.

This is it. You ride the universe once, and then…

Never again.

Beneath the Chestnut Tree

The final chapter of George Orwell’s 1984 has always resonated strongly with me. Though I’ve obviously never been in the depths of Minilove, the arc of entering the labyrinthine darkness to square off against the greatest foe is something I can relate to, as well as the after effects: nothing is the same, and there is no going back. The only thing that can be done is to shed a tear beneath the chestnut tree, where “I sold you and you sold me.”

Similarly, the mythos of Ariadne and Thesseus resonates strongly with me, and I have a musical duology called by each character. The Hero’s Journey is always an inward journey; everything external is merely a symbol of the hero’s own inner conflict. Descent into the labyrinth to face the minotaur is not about a mythological beast nearly as much as it is staring unblinking into the mirror and facing mistakes of the past.

The Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell observed, has clear trends across all manner of fiction. The Hero begins at home, but it is not long before the Hero’s Journey begins; indeed, it has already begun. The Hero leaves, endures trials, and returns home. The Hero’s Journey is far from over, though, and there is never anything to which the Hero can actually return. Often this is achieved through the destruction of the home, as in Star Wars and Dragons of Autumn Twilight, but not always.

The key aspect is simply that the Hero can’t return to the pre-journey life. Something has changed; something is different. In The Anvil, Leraneon returns to his home and finds that it’s no longer his home. He can’t explain it, and he doesn’t understand it; it’s simply a feeling: I am not home.

Years ago, I thought I was losing my mind, because I was handwriting something. I was really high, sitting down, and just writing. Then suddenly “I am not home” appeared on the page, and I had written it. A friend started talking about freewriting, and I guess that’s what happened, but the strange thing about it is that I’ve never really had what most people would call a home. Since kindergarten, irresponsible parents have carted me all over the place, so what “home” was I talking about?

 

“What is this motherfucker prattling on about?” you may be asking.

I’m not entirely sure. A longtime friend came and stayed the night with me last night, and some bits of the conversation have really stuck with me. This is someone who knew me before I left the ex-wife, before I went to Vegas–she, in effect, saw me before the journey (because we are all the Hero in our own story), and she’s seen me after the journey.

 

Clearly, the damage that has been done to me is readily apparent to anyone who knew me previously. Whereas before I was quiet, now I am withdrawn. Whereas before I was a bit distant, now I am surrounded and protected by impenetrable walls. The most glaring, however, was that before I participated, but now I observe.

It was really disheartening to hear her constantly refer to a transgender friend who had undergone full SRS as “he,” and three times I had to ask for her to not call this person a male. I understand that part of this is that old habits are hard to break, and I completely appreciate that, but the old habit won’t break if she doesn’t try to break it. Another good friend of mine had issues when he and his wife came over, and he constantly paused to correct himself when referring to me. It’s not something I’m going to get hung up about, not now, but there will come a time when it will be flat out insulting to me. I can’t imagine undergoing SRS and still have people refer to me as a “he.”

A lot of people don’t get the significance, but how many women do you know who get offended when someone on the phone says “Yes, sir” to them? How many men do you know who would lose their minds if someone says “Yes, ma’am” to them? No one likes being referred to by the wrong pronoun–no one. So why are transgender people, for whom the gender identity question is even more important, expected to be less bothered? Logic dictates that the transgender person would be, and even should be, more bothered.

But, as I said, I don’t tend to get torn up about it. Call Caitlyn Jenner a man, and, yes, that will press my buttons. That goes beyond force of habit and leaps boisterously into the territory of offense. Call anyone who has had SRS by their own pronoun, and, again, you’ve gone too far.

It’s actually rather simple. Bruce Jenner is a male. Caitlyn Jenner is a female. Bruce no longer exists, so when referring to this person “she” is the way to do it. By the same token, I have to be a male for work. So when friends see B., it’s normal and expected that they’d say “he.” This is part of the reason I don’t fixate on the pronouns presently–I do still present myself as a male to much of the world. And no doubt, this person that is me who encapsulates both B. and Aria is, on the whole, female, and it’s certainly true that Aria is “pure me” whole B. is “sorta me, but with a lot of masks on.” But that doesn’t change that it’s unreasonable of me to expect my friends to look at B. and say “she.”

Anyway, before I somehow digressed onto that, I told Calliope years ago, when our relationship was on the rocks, that I’d been into the labyrinth, I’d faced the darkness, and I came out the other side. That’s certainly true, but what I entered was a small section of the labyrinth. With each return, I realised that it was larger and filled with enemies deadlier than I’d ever imagined. Most of these returns were not by choice. Unlike Thesseus, I did not choose to go down, and the motif of my songs deals with Ariadne failing to give Thesseus the sword and string; in my versions, Thesseus enters unarmed and without a method of finding his way back.

There was a time, years ago, that I stumbled by accident into the labyrinth, and there was a time that Ariadne failed to give me the sword and string, and I trusted her to do so. That’s not an unreasonable trust: I had married the girl, after all, and if you can’t count on your spouse to help pull you from the darkness then who can you count on?

“No one,” I learned, and that’s the best way to characterize me. I trust no one. Everyone I’ve ever trusted has either let me down or betrayed me outright.

I fell into despair and darkness. “I’m lost,” I said, because it was all that I could say. I have no idea what I went through, or what caused it, but in less than a month I’d left my ex-wife, and she immediately turned her back on me, even though all I freaking did was go to my sister’s. Of course, it would never have reached that point if she’d done as I asked and just left me be, but she kept pushing and pushing, caring only for herself and how it hurt her that I was distant, and caring nothing for the fact that I was in far worse shape.

For months afterward, I felt that I’d lost my center, that I’d drifted away from myself, and that I’d never find myself again. And I tried repeatedly to get her back, but she wasn’t having it. Her dad, who vehemently disliked me and spurned her through our entire marriage, welcomed her back as the prodigal daughter–suddenly, she had daddy’s happy love again. On top of that, a longtime friend with whom she’d fallen out of touch (because the friend didn’t try to keep the flame of friendship alive and got caught up in her own world that my ex wasn’t part of) had just left her own husband, because he’d been using Craigslist to… do things a husband shouldn’t be doing. So she also got her old friend back at exactly the same time, and though neither of these were my fault, it felt to her that she’d been rewarded when I left her. I left her, then she got her daddy and friend back–though these people had each turned their backs on her for different reasons, that’s simply not how the ordinary person views things; the average person doesn’t bother to analyze to such depths.

Meanwhile, I re-enrolled into college and graduated, opened an I.T. firm, got to speak on Fox News as an I.T. Expert regarding cryptoware, got published, became a writer for Cubed3, wrote two books, moved to Vegas…

…and was promptly thrown back into the labyrinth, and this time I was beaten to near death before I woke to find myself shrouded in the darkness of the underground maze. This time… was different. The stakes were high–so very high–and it was far more like:

 

 

This time, it was that. That right there, that video… That’s it in a nutshell. Except, instead of donning a totalitarian mask as does Pink, I removed the mask and there was Aria.

 

If you liked this post, feel free to click Like, Share, and Subscribe. 🙂 I’m also interested in swapping guest-writing posts. You might also like “Dead or Alive”, on Amazon for 99 cents: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

You may already be interested in helping with my transition. Www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

Or you can just pop in occasionally and see what I’ve written. That works perfectly, too. 🙂