Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Relax -- This won't hurt."

I am a man

I am self-aware

Everywhere I go

You’re always right there with me

I’ve flirted with you all my life

Even kissed you once or twice

And to this day I swear it was nice

But clearly I was not ready

Oh death, I’m not ready

--Vic Chesnutt


I am at a loss for giving anyone else answers that have eluded me for so long. My life has not been horrible. I felt I needed more to make it meaningful and endurable. I have been unhappy for some time; I could not seem to get the disparate parts of my personality to align in my favor; I have been planning this for some time; and, I have considered it likely, given my natural disposition. While there is nothing in particular that has brought me to this place, my disillusionment with life can be found somewhere between what I perceived to be employment that lacked prestige or value; the slow loss of friends and community, some of which self-imposed; and, repeated unrequited love.

From my perspective, I spared those around me the misery of being around me. Part of me chose to isolate myself because I was becoming an insufferable bore, another part chose because I was finding my ability to tolerate others diminishing, and finally I wanted to see how many people would try to knock down the walls I had erected around myself. I spent the last several months doing what I wanted; it was not unpleasant. I didn’t want to get married for fear of burdening another person with my depression, and I most certainly did not want to pass along my genetic material; and, if I’m not going to have a family or have a gainful, meaningful employment (both scenarios seemed unlikely), why live at all? Life was painful and boring. There was simply nothing else I wanted, and those things I would have enjoyed (Vienna, sex) are no great losses. I have relatively recently seen or spoken to most of my inner circle, a number of which on my vacation out east. I have seen enough.

I have some final people to address. I would have said this in life, but people would have tried to stop me. Try keeping a secret like this for several months: it’s not as easy as you imagine. First, I have a request. The next year, and beyond, will be horrible for my mother and maternal grandparents. If my friendship has purchased anything, account it to them and call her my mother to make sure she’s as well as can be expected.


To all the girls I loved who didn’t love me back: Desperately I wanted to make one of you feel like a queen. Until I became a woman hater not too long ago, it was my deepest desire to show you how beautiful you were. For all my flaws and missed opportunities, I would have done anything to make you happy. Rightly or wrongly, I treated you as my salvation. And now I have a gun in my mouth.

My greatest fear is that people rejected me not because they didn’t see the real me, but because they did, because they couldn’t bring themselves to hire or date or hang out with someone as ugly as me. What if my boss really did see my potential? What if girls did see what I had to offer and found me wanting. If so, then I guess this is a reasonable decision. If not, then that’s just unfortunate, like much of life. I have made poor choices in life and I own them completely. I have simply chosen not to live with them.

I hope this gives no one fodder for taking away guns rights or rights in general. I believe it’s a person’s right to commit suicide. I also don’t believe that all life is sacred – some people need to just get out of the way. I don’t believe in making that decision for someone else, but over time nature skims off the dross. I believe most of us just fear death more than living life as a loser. I would like to clarify that paragraph for any who misunderstand where I’m coming from, but obviously that is out of the question.

I suppose that’s enough. If you wish to memorialize me, I hope it’s not too pretentious of me to say I always felt an affinity for Don McLean’s “Vincent.”

Let my epitaph read: “the world has no room for another third-rate philosopher” (I’m serious).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Supreme Court Decision on Campaign Reform

I was going to take a lot of time to put together a well-constructed post on this, but to my shame I do not have the mental stamina for that. Instead, I shall give you the gist of what has happened and my reaction. Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to limit spending by corporations to political campaigns. Liberals have been making a lot noise on the subject, with one Facebook poster saying, "'s over. the USA is now a wholly owned subsidiary of major corporate interests."

Apocalyptic fearmongering aside, my initial impression is that this will not end up being as scary as we imagine. The loss of liberty and good government in our society tends to come slowly. Libertarian news sources like Reason and the Cato Institute have already voiced their problems with the McCain-Feingold act. In Reason's estimation, and I agree, the good intentions of the bipartisan effort was a failure. Which leads to my first question on those criticizing the decision: do you believe McCain-Feingold was a success? Did it keep money out of politics without intruding on other liberties? If not, then perhaps policing this with legislation is unwise.

I am torn on this issue, and I share the concerns about money in politics. To those things, however, I want to send some words of caution. First, I think money will always be in politics. You know all those banks that got bailed out? You know who gave the most to the Obama campaign? Yeah, same people.

There are also two fallacies that concern me. First, it's that corporations are bad. I don't believe that. I believe they tend to be opportunists, but not inherently bad. I don't believe the motives of Coke are inherently better than that of the ACLU. Money may not make you good, but it is not a bad thing either. I am also not crazy about the government policing speech that criticises government. Government is just like business: it has its own interests at heart. I don't trust business, but I don't trust government either.

One critic said that coporations are neither individuals, nor members of the press, therefore, they are not susceptible to the same rights of freedom of speech as everyone else. What concerns me with that argument is that I'm an inclusivist when it comes to free speech. We have a history of deciding who should not be considered persons, and I would argue it does not play well. Also, what makes a member of the press? I feel like the concept is porous enough that it can't be policed. If Coke sets up a blog, have they become a member of the press? Or what if they support their favorite yellow-journalism news source, like MS-NBC or Fox News?

I believe democracy is strengthened by free speech, and the answer to bad speech is more, better speech. I am also a believer in transparency. I believe our greatest buffer in democracy to tyranny is not law but the will of the people. At this moment, I'm fine with letting anyone say anything they want, as long as we know who is saying it. If the word of corporations is dubious, and they have to put their name on something to say it, or have to file their contributions, then they may think twice about spending money on something that may back fire.

What is most perturbing is the cynicism that is spoken on the issue. President Obama, in the NY Times article mentioned, said the ruling is "
a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans." Implicit in that seems to say that all that matters in politics is money and the ability to buy votes. The ability of individuals to see through cronyism and self-interest. But if that's true, if all that ever matters is who has the most money, did we ever really have a democracy? If the wisdom of the voting populace can only be moved by what money can buy, it seems to me we have already lost our government. Me, I have more faith in the wisdom of Americans. I believe America is better than that.

Instead of trying to find ideal legislation to try and maintain equity, I say let everyone with a dollar and a voice speak, and let wise men and women debate and discuss. Admittedly, it's a gamble. The worst nightmares of liberals may be correct: we may be on the short road to being owned subsidiaries of big business. But remember that you have to be an optimist to believe in democracy. You have to believe that liberty and individual choice are stronger than our vices.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alyssa Rosenberg’s Review of “It’s Complicated”

While I am a day late and a dollar short, over the holiday season bloggers and gabfest worlds were abuzz over the Meryl Streep rom-com Its Complicated. One of the better reviews was a morality-critiquing post by Alyssa Rosenberg. To Rosenberg’s credit, she was the only person I came across whose movie-going experience was diminished due to the plot’s shallow treatment of the charming but hedonist characters. Alyssa downplays the interiors of their homes and makes much of the interiors of their lives.

To quote Rosenberg, “it is not remotely okay for Streep's character to have an affair with her [remarried] ex-husband.” She goes on to decry the protagonist’s behavior: “Streep's character, despite behaving recklessly and selfishly, gets everything she wants.” Reading this was a paradoxical experience. Repeatedly I had to admit Alyssa was absolutely correct and yet I was uncomfortable with her appraisal.

The movie is fantastic in depicting the outcome as being ideal. Some hurt feelings, a cry and a hug later and all is back to homeostasis. Most unconvincing was the resilience of her carved-from-cream cheese children. With as world-shattering as divorce can be for children, I wish I childhood had been as bad as theirs. The children of the story only go to augment our perception of the earth-mother Jane who can seek her own self-interest at negligible expense to those around her. I think if children were typically so well-adjusted after divorce and affairs we would not find them so upsetting. The fantasy projected is not that adults would have to change their behavior, but that children would change their natures.

The material demands a light touch on the real-life consequences. It’s Complicated reminded me of another movie I have reluctantly accepted my attachment to despite the subject material: Same Time, Next Year, which is about an adulterous pair that meets annually at the same location of their first tryst. It’s one of my favorite movies and more judgment-worthy due to the length of the affair.

For all its flaws, It’s Complicated demonstrates Meryl Streep’s Jane as a certain female ideal of long-suffering. In a post-feminist world, new generations of women are right to both embrace sex while correcting for poor choices in men. In every generation, albeit more pronounced in Streep’s, women can’t kill the hydra of appeal that comes from dangerous men and charming womanizers. To top it off, the divorced two have a history. I can only imagine that there is something magical in coming back to someone when they know every crevice of your – personality. Love is multi-faceted and maybe we can delight in its many forms.

I was watching another Penn Says, and in the most recent that has been inhabiting my conscious thoughts, Penn Jillette (shallowly?) rejected a friendship with a woman who refused to sleep with Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix (course language in the link). Penn quotes a friend who believes the purpose of life is to acquire as many great stories as possible. I am inclined to agree, even if that means I am most certainly not fulfilling my purpose in life. Salon published an article in 2004 with an unforgettable title: What French Girls Know -- Young girls in France learn early in life that happiness is not as important as passion. It’s a great article extolling the carpe diem life. I suppose my own dreams parallel the one in It’s Complicated, which is why it is such a fun romp. Alas, I’m Steve Martin and wide awake.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What are Feminists so Afraid of?

Apparently me.

Contrary to my persona at times, I love a good, thoughtful debate with people who see the world differently. Stick me in a room where I can hash it out with a smart person who contradicts me on every front and I'm a happy guy. Occasionally, I stumble my way onto a feminist blog and feel I have joined Alice in her rabbit hole and find myself in a world full of amazement, beauty and seemingly backwards logic. They spin a world of fantasy (I don't mean that pejoratively) most captivating, as I suppose only a woman can.

What confounds me is that with their bravado of willingness to confront demanding social topics is coupled with a seeming reticence to actually face someone who feels otherwise. This has happened several times to me, including another quick dismissal on Pink Scare's blog, but most recently at a blog by the blogger whose handle is Armed with Vitriol. In a recent discussion I wished to discuss male and female bedroom relations. I will not offer a defense here, and let the reader decide for themselves if I was out of line; if I was, I am willing to concede the point and assume whatever shame is my due. That said, after giving what I thought was a thoughtful and playful response, I was returned with the rather bombastic response that what I had said was, "all kinds of wrong" and that the blogger would not, "bother with a reply because your comment is so ignorant it doesn't deserve one."

Again, what gets me is that someone with such a bold worldview would be so quick to dismiss anyone who would dare view the world differently. She also claimed I didn't read her response. I maintain that while I didn't give it a thorough reading, to say what I said was ignorant goes a bit too far. In a later reply she said I was "annoying (from a feminist perspective)." I'm not quite sure what she means by "a feminist perspective," but remember that she wouldn't "bother to reply" so I don't really know what is the problem.

So, I am left perplexed. The internet can unfortunately cause communication to become opaque, and what might have been a relatively banal conversation where two people might have found a lot of common ground became something else. Too bad. But what I wrestle with is why are feminist so unwilling to engage others? They want to mold public opinion -- a perfectly fine thing -- but seem unwilling to handle criticism. Why?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Douche By Any Other Name

Warning: The language below is unsuited for some readers. Also, I had a difficult time formatting this post. If you see any inconsistencies, I may have not been able to fix them.


The word douche-bag, or the truncated moniker douche, is a word that has been thrown around with unfocused resolve. Douche usage seems to be more and more frequent, with its application becoming less and less sound. What is a douche bag and douchebaggery?

The quest for the elusive proper-use of this term begins in a strange sort of Shire. Its original understandng was a cleansing agent for feminine hygiene. Not even out of Hobbiton, and the journey is already perplexing, since in its pejorative usage, it also describes a bad man. How does an tool used for female washing end up describing a male tool (also a noun that eludes strict definitional precision.) This is reminiscent of a George Carlin joke: in describing one of the seven words you aren't allowed to use on television, "For some reason 'cocksucker' means bad man; it's a good woman."

Before coming to the subject of the douche bag himself, an examination of the accuser may be in order.
In particular, I have read the insult (and similar cold pricklies) at the blog Dating is Miserable. What is most striking is that it is often tied to one of two things: either, is comes as some form of unsolicited dating advice, or a douchy incident had occurred. The first often comes across as patronization; the second, single whinytude. Strangely enough, the d-bomb is almost never uttered from a taken woman's lips.

Both feelings of being patronization and whinytude tend inspire my insolence towards them and never do I feel like I've come away enlightened. Does any single girl in her mid-20s think she can tell me anything I don't already know? Calling a guy you don't like an unqualified douche is often intellectually lazy. It demands nothing of the speaker, whether evaluation of the other person or, God forbid, themselves. What kills me about these girls is their indignation to being hit on by anyone they would rather have just move along. "I just got hit on by this creepy old guy. He was probably over 30 -- eww." When considering women of this species, before appraising their gems of wisdom, I feel it obligatory to ask one question: Is this a judgmental narcissist? This is only fair. A searching single does not a sage make. (As my research revealed to me, there is a term for this kind of person.)

Zack Brown: I've known her since the first grade, you don't fuck someone you met in the first grade.
Delaney: Excuse me, I met my wife in kindergarten, we got married senior year, and she's been the queen of my world ever since.
Zack Brown: But what if you could do it all over again?
Delaney: I would jerk off and live by myself. That woman is the bane of my existence.
~From "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"

Vlogger Bernard Chapin has a wonderful, if not out-of-character, vlog post titled Never Give Up on Women. In it, his logic is simple: women are the only game in town; his advice is likewise as simple: if you want a woman, try harder. I am of two-minds on this. For many people, one of the key struggles in life is the tension between authenticity and acceptance. Speaking as someone who is going to die alone, being true to oneself has its advantages; if nothing else, I say pretty much whatever I want because I have generally accepted my loneliness. The status quo is only one option. Many women are worth falling for but none are worth falling over. My own rule is thus: life is short, the road is long, and anyone who wishes to accompany me along the way is a welcome companion; but, I do not abide people who wish to mold and control me. We are equals or nothing at all.

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone
Back to finding definitional certitude, douche bag runs the gamut from describing actions to apparel (see picture) to attitude. Here are some various definitions and applications of douche bag.

1. Popped Collars
2. Frequently not wearing a shirt (this one makes me giggle for reasons I can't say here)
3. Tanning
4. Liking Dane Cook
5. Overconfidence
6. Low intelligence
7. Having a certain Jersey Shore metro-esque look
8. Given to clubbing, alcohol, violence and sex
9. Hitting on girls he knows are taken
10. A kind of herd mentality that reinforces douche bag ritualism.

At first blush, d-bag seems to only mean 'boo' to odious behavior. But that is unsatisfying verbicide (the act of "killing" a word by removing any sense of distinctive objectivity about it and using it to merely describe one's subjective feelings towards the thing in question.) This is my main objection. In order for douche to mean anything, it must mean something; more to the point, it must mean something we can all get behind. Even if none of the above characteristics are present, one may still find themselves in douche land. One big criticism I have is that it seem to go along with the typical white person disapproval of anything that deviates from the boring norm. I'm as white bread as they come, but is a man wearing jewelry and Abercrombie and Fitch at 30 a truly bad thing? Dane Cook fans are lapping up the dregs of comedic drivel, but certainly they aren't as bad as the guy who hits on engaged women and whose insecurity starts fights over nonsense. Can we agree that there should be different words denoting bad behavior and bad taste?

This has all left me perplexed. I have searched all over the Mordor of the internet to finally nail down what is a douche bag, and find that I am every more stumped. Will we ever be able to come to a consensus?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Immortalizing Yourself in Porn

My apologies for allowing so many of my posts being about sex, love and relationships. My mind has been preoccupied with other things these days, from politics to existentialism, but my need for catharsis on love having more immediacy. Listening to a Penn Jillette vlog, he discussed an issue that I thought was only in my sex-deprived head. In it, he discusses a conversation with a pornographer who was describing the motivations for the women who are involved in it. Penn rightly isolated this one phrase for women in porn: they wanted to "immortalize their youth."

And here I was brought back to a notion I have had before. I think if I were a beautiful young woman, I would hire a professional photographer and have them take lurid photos of me. I probably wouldn't publish them, I would just like that record. Penn went so far to say that if he could, he would go back to being 18 and perform sexually in front of a camera. I am not so bold; like Mr. Jillette, I have the heart of comedian, but I have no intention to be that humorous.

Which made me think of artists who in various ways (try to) immortalize feminine beauty and what a trip that must be, to be paid to do what every amateur lover longs to go pro at. How do other people feel about immortalizing their youth in such a fashion? Would you like to have a physical record of your sexual apogee?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Poetry of Philosophy

I came across these poems and felt like they summed up well a philosophical approach to romance.



You are aesthetically pleasing,
the reason for which I first noticed in you.
And later I found your personality equally pleasing.
I also noted your chest to waist ratio is suitable for birthing.
Therefore, I think you should live in my house.



I saw a cute boy on the street,
It could have been you,
It doesn't matter much if it still is,
You can approach me if you want to,
It doesn't matter if I'm still interested,
Either way we'll still feel alone.

Nihilist Love Poem

By: Alamir

You looked pleasing like girls often do,
Does it matter why I approached you?
It could have been the weather
or just the way I grew up.
But if our personalities can be tolerated
...And you're on the pill
We should both have sex
Before we both end up dead,
and regret not doing so.