What Domestication Has Done

it’s a variation on Wrangham’s chapter title, in “The Goodness Paradox,” I’m writing a commentary as I read. For background, domesticated animals show a group of changes that add up to a domesticated species never quite growing up. As a nice, clear example, for a very long time, everyone thought that the bonobo skulls in Britain’s museum were juvenile chimpanzees, before they were sen as their own, and now, somewhat domesticated species. I’m afraid I’m just giving you a snippet in the middle of a conversation I’m having with myself. But if anyone were following this train of thought, they’d see this is an important connection.

OK.

. . . I got nuthin’. Questions about the infantilization aspect of it – it fits, I really think I’ve been all for it, more infantilization, I mean if violence is maturity – but I wasn’t so explicit about it, it’s a scary thing to ponder that we seem to have opted for arrested development, a little difficult to ask for more when you put it that way. Again, leaping from anthropology to today’s problems, I suppose.

Definitely a loaded idea.

I mean, extreme violence sometimes has the character of infantile rage, infantile disregard for the future. I fear that this may be an important thing, part of the explanation for how we can go quiet for years and then explode in a world war . . . Good Lord, these are times of us as a species or a nation cutting our teeth, deciding we’re the grownups now and doing what a grownup does? There’s a large component of juvenile rebellion in the far right memes about totalitarianism and not treading on me, isn’t there? Hold on . . . maturity is when aggression – rage? – gets expressed (the inverse of the point that docility is a paedomorphic trait, juvenile chimps etc., fight less than adults), so by AST childhood is when rage is . . . gathered.

If there is anything to this psychological sort of idea, then domestication – selected infantilization – only avoids the release at the end? We never mature to a stage where we kill when we feel like it? And we gather frustrations, etc., all of our lives, socially controlled, any vestigial personal space deeply and dangerously frowned upon,  we amass our aggression, reactive or otherwise and wait for times when we can put it to use? We’re allowed to flex our grownup muscles and kill when somebody else, or everybody else feels like it.

It think it is possible that this puzzle is nearly complete here, Doctor.

 

Jeff

June 25th., 2020

Civil Suit: AST is already on record

So, the idea, AST, is that our punitive abuse of one another makes us more aggressive.

So we spank the kids when they’re little and jail them when they’re grown, the kids all need to be tough, it’s a tough, competitive world out there. For many these days, it seems overly so, and for some, when they seem to be losing, the American doctors are providing testosterone supplements, you know, it’s a competition, maybe a little more fire will straighten your life out. I get it sort, of. I mean, I’m on record as saying I don’t like it, but I get it.

I’m not actually here to argue that point today, I simply want to draw my usual conclusion, and this time a form of proof, from the scenario just described.

If the prescription for the milder, less aggressive folks is to gain some aggression, if that’s a solution for people, then that is proof of the motivations I and AST ascribe to the abuse of punishments – we already agree to my premise, the perceived need to artificially increase our aggression.

I’ve been looking for something like that!

It’s all right here, right in front of me, in front of all of us, but seeing it is still an exceedingly difficult thing.

 

 

Jeff

June 8th., 2020

Expedient Racism

It’s a cult of violence, punishment gone mad, people apparently thinking if a little abuse is good for us, a lot must be better, and we are all raised in it, it is the most heritable thing in the  world, transmitted by force, from all to all. This abuse is a feedback loop, reinforcing itself, the abused abuse, and are abused again “to stop them.”

The threat never ceases, as many have observed, humans live in threat response constantly, always on guard. In this world, where there is always the pain of authority and power over your head, stress is a condition of human life.

Our aboriginal world was largely monochromatic, as the chimpanzee Gombe secession and war showed, our neighbors were our cousins, and they look just like us. Many human societies have customs designed to differentiate themselves from the neighbors, who probably started out as identical to ourselves, scarification and such. I don’t think our aboriginal condition meant different coloured neighbors; I don’t think skin-colour racism is an old thing in the world, certainly it isn’t primal.

Fighting is, though, violence is, and in a world of threat, finding an obvious, visible other to deflect to . . . priceless, to make an Amex commercial out of it. This is racism – convenience, visibility. The function it serves – othering, threat, war, the dominance of warriors, is older than racism, and apparently not suffering any criticism, everyone loves punishing, everyone worships strength.

I think racism doesn’t need to be taught.

I think in this setup, this competitive, punitive, police state cult of punishing and violence, I think the kids will be looking for victims, and find their own way to racism, whether you model exactly that particular sort of hate or not.

I mean, that would be terrific, I guess if we were just a cult of violence all day long, but not a racist one, an equal opportunity police state . . . OK, you see it now? I hate racism too, but if this were a non-violent world, where people wouldn’t hurt us, then racism would just be mean comedy, right? I just think if there’s a racial murder, the murder should get top billing, like it might be a murder prosecution, but . . . no, it’s an op-ed about race. I’m not getting there.

I would happily wake up to a world that is racist, misogynist, queerist and everything else, if it weren’t violent, if nobody killed nobody. Conversely, I will still fear a world where every verifiable form of discrimination has been outlawed but violence has not – and it has not if we still allow someone to do it, like the police and the military.

 

Jeff

June 7th., 2020

The Myth of the Stick

I’m reading Wrangham’s “the Goodness Paradox,” and I’m writing an entire corollary as I read it, but in the middle of that, out popped this

The Myth of the Stick

There was a mother and a child, alone on their farm, the child born while the father was away at war. The mother was kind, and doting, satisfying the child’s every need, nourishment, protection, warmth, but as the child grew and found its feet, while tottering about, it found a stick.

The child turned the stick about and poked at the ground with it, and when he found it in his hand at one end and he flailed, he saw it struck the Earth and made a noise. Soon, this was the game, find a stick and strike the ground. The mother worried a little for the animals, if one got struck and reacted, and she took the stick away, giving the child some food instead. The child liked his sticks though and found one when he could and one day when the mother was taking it away, the child struck her with it.

The mother worried but doing what she could to oppose the behaviour didn’t seem to be working, the child seemed wild and unwilling to talk about it. She worried, and she prayed and was amazed when Apollo himself appeared to answer her.

The god gave her a stout stick, the length and girth of her arm.

She didn’t object, but looked confused, thinking, surely I could find my own stick?

The god smiled.

“This rod is your answer. It is too long and heavy for the child, even when he has grown many years and can carry it, he will have his own children to deal with before he can swing it as fast as you can.”

When the woman still looked lost, Apollo frowned, also in wonderment.

“It will make him stop hitting you.” He said. “But it makes him want to even more. Use it sparingly.” The god disappeared again in a flash of light and the mother found herself alone, staring at the wood in her hands and promising herself to never, ever use it.

And the rest is history.

 

Jeff

June 6th., 2020

The First Three Monkeys

The point, what I always fail to say:

We have a mostly unconscious strategy to hurt ourselves/one another, to mold ourselves as hurt, and so aggressive – because of what is reflected in expressions like ‘fortune favours the bold,’ and ‘the best defense is a good offense,’ – somehow we feel safest from the tip of the spear when we are holding the dull end ourselves. I think that’s my best effort yet to express that awful game theory . . . bias or whatever it is. Strategy, I have settled upon, right.

We have this strategy, and because we keep it in the dark, we are subject to it and our conflicting peaceful efforts are suborned by it every time, and everyone who has ever heard of psychology knows the cure: we must make the unconscious conscious. We must simply become aware of it. We must learn our self-destructive tendency and watch for it. There is a hundredth monkey event in process about it, I only hope it’s not too little too late.

So far, I’m aware of three such monkeys, myself, primatologist Richard Wrangham, and psychiatrist author Iain McGilchrist. There is some overlap in this connected world, but basically, we all came to it from different directions. Primatology and bonobo research, per Wrangham certainly influenced me, and ideas of psychiatry and psychology certainly did as well, but McGilchrist came at it by asking why we have two hemispheres, not really psychiatry. I asked what punishment is, not really psychology or primatology.

If Wrangham had a single question like that, I haven’t gleaned it just yet. In the preface to the Goodness Paradox, he said “All that I wanted to do was study animal behaviour . . . ” but the behaviour raised questions. “What is aggression?” perhaps.

I haven’t yet read the Divided Brain, McGilchrist’s latest as of this writing, but in the documentary film version, he states that our measures for social control, conformity and punishments, etc., stress us out and keep us in the fight or flight mode, a part of which is left brain hemisphere dominance, which has our big picture, long range thinking attenuated, basically that we’re moving from emergency to emergency and never sitting back to analyze and assess the entire situation. Sorry – the left hemisphere seems to excel at details in the present, while the right seems to deal in more abstract things, bigger things. He’s drawn that division of labour somewhat differently than the previous popular version of rational and emotional.

Wrangham’s thing these last few years at least, is that he has broken down the noun “aggression” for us in a useful way, making a distinction between reactive and proactive aggression or violence. For me at least, he has finally called what our punishers do “aggression,” finally placed it as a behaviour in itself, not some quasi-divine intervention for lowly animal behaviours, not somehow “rational” as opposed to behavioural or evolved or anything else that means we would study it, which means we would acknowledge it.

I believe he’s suggested that we have basically cured our reactive violence problems, but that now it’s time to look at the proactive kind of violence, that that is where the trouble is coming from now – but I could be reading too much into the paper I’ve read. I should finish the book before I mis-promote anybody. So not sure if that’s exactly his point – but it’s mine, absolutely. I think a planned murder is proactive violence – whether planned by Jack the Ripper or by the Texas State Supreme Court and I wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of either of them. All in all, as long as I could know it had no compelling reason to kill me, a full belly, no kill or cubs to protect – I’d rather take my chances with a polar bear’s reactive violence. Some chance is better than none. I might catch the bear in a good mood, like those sled dogs did!

What are my odds of finding the Texas State Supreme Court in a good mood?

Ha. I break myself up. Jokes tailored specifically for my DNA, of course, no kidding.

I don’t suppose those other two fellows have taken it to the logical extreme like I have and basically gone “anti-punishment,” but they have clearly and squarely confirmed a basis for why I did.

So, wanted: ninety-seven more monkeys that can see our control is the problem now, and it’s time to solve the new problem. I think a hundred monkeys is a unit, maybe one live meme, and until there’s a hundred, this idea doesn’t quite exist yet.

Anybody out there?

 

Jeff

June 3rd., 2020

Self-domesticated Humans

“Self-domesticated humans” makes sense to me in this disgusting game theory way: the ol’ “you might fight a guy who’s tougher than you, but you don’t want to fight someone who is crazier than you” principle, the prison truism that Muhammad Ali talked about when he set about driving around to Liston’s house to intimidate him before the big fight. We aren’t tougher, like they say, canines almost gone and whatnot, light frames, no claws – but we are crazier, so we dominate. Like, there’s domesticated and then there’s domesticated. Sure we are, but we are a whole lot closer to a circus elephant than to a dog – you want to see how tame I am, attack me, dogs take abuse and give back love, generally speaking.

Whether or not we know ourselves, more like dogs or elephants, it’s clear that we treat each other as though we assume ourselves to be the more cantankerous of the two.

I guess I would remove the “self” and then be quite happy with the whole idea.

I suppose it’s true of the dogs and the bonobos, their taming may have indeed been self-done, we do not see them forcing one another into their affiliative behaviour, do we? Of course the fox farm was deliberate, and not by foxes. There is a middle ground, always what I’m ending up on – Sapolsky would approve! – domesticated by other humans, but not by ourselves. By abusive group control, by our uppers in the hierarchy – therefore, crazy and volatile? Pretty simple, but have you ever tried to not do that, group control, abusive punishments? It’s easier said than done, and saying it isn’t even easy.

(On my television, a veterinarian, Dr. Pol just said “animals just take what life gives them and make the most of it” talking about three-legged cat amputees, and this apparent truism would seem to be the inverse of my life’s point: that humans do not, that humans have a different response to misfortune, probably the “response to abuse” that I’m interested in.)

Oddly, maybe even ironically, self-domestication is what I’m calling for, voluntary domestication – OK, there’s a bit of fiction in that, I don’t really think we have to do much to ourselves, pretty much just stop forcing our present version of “domestication” on one another like a whole species of circus animal trainers. Again, easier said, and even that.

OK, I am trying to read and learn rather than write and figure things out for myself at the moment, so I’m going to try to suspend this effort for a bit – but one observation as I read – every time I read some existing material on the subject of human origins, civilization, morality, etc., my experience follows a pattern.

Reading this paper right now –

The origins of criminal law

Daniel Sznycer and Carlton Patrick

At the beginning, I always feel intimidated and threatened, OMG, I ‘m wrong, this looks like enough to explain what I thought was left unexplained! This stress is decreasing over time, however, because the rest of the pattern is that by the end, I’m back, Baby! So the beginning, the proposition, “this is what I will show,” – I’m a low self-image fool, I believe that, apparently, but I am learning. By the end, I do not feel I’ve been “shown,” in the end, their proofs are the premises of human nature that I think I have disproved, the very points I take issue with and wish to argue about.

Another – papers that prove that human behaviour derives from science and evolution as opposed to laws being handed down by a god or a worshipped ancestor are not arguments against AST, simple “biology, not creation” papers are not revelatory or interesting to me anymore. What about “the pain of the punished has its own causality too” somehow becomes “law is not biological?” I never said any such thing and I deny none of what is in that paper. I only say, sure, but also this.

Moving on to this one now –

Two types of aggression in human evolution

Richard W. Wrangham

Edited by Kristen Hawkes, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, and approved November 20, 2017 (received for review August 7, 2017)

First, no argument with the opening and the premise. I suspect we’ll see a trade-off, of reactive aggression for the proactive sort over time – selected for by capital punishment! Already a surprise! The insight I need to record, though – my feeling, what gets me naysaying, he seems to be laying out – the reactive aggression is reactive (less harshly punishable, by the other paper), more forgivable. Whereas the proactive sort seems to be of our own making, and therefore what is wrong about it seems worse, intentionality is always treated as worse, again, per the other paper, but also per general knowledge. Except not, in the special case of “punishment?” That we mean, but that is still free, supposedly no cost? Wait, too much.

Actually, no, not too much, his point also, sort of, by the end! But back to live-commentary.

“The Hobbes–Huxley position rightly recognizes the high potential for proactive violence, while the Rousseau–Kropotkin position correctly notes the low frequency of reactive aggression.”

AST does draw a line between the two, offering another solution, AST sees the Rousseau assessment of a newborn human as correct, on the bonobo side, but finds the change to be imposed not by “culture,” “society,” or anything very conscious, but by force and pain, trauma, which all cultures employ and all societies deny the cost of.

AST agrees with Hobbes that hierarchies impose systems of proactive aggression, but not with some aspects of that side of the issue, not that this has resulted in any net reduction of aggression when we add both kinds together. (Again, Wrangham acknowledges this problem, it’s pretty much the point of this paper.)

I feel that a life of reactive aggression seems to be what we call freedom and freedom from oppression, because the fighting is a part time thing, and peace exists in the times between – whereas a life of proactive aggression seems to be a full time job, 24/7. Reactive aggression is an organic ebb and flow, whereas proactive aggression is a technology, storage of the normal flow, reservoirs and spillways, build-ups and releases, failures and floods. It’s almost the name for AST that I was looking for already.

But it’s never-ending, we are forever creating and storing these aggressive feelings; the pressure of one’s reservoirs must be consistent. I suppose it is in the Hobbes-Huxley mode of thought that sports etc., tap off our excess aggression, but not that we control its volume positively, that we overfilled it in the first place, and that we like to keep it at or near capacity. For them, we are simply born this way, the tacit original sin idea that seems to be the background of everything.

(Of course the entire argument has aggression and its subcategories all as nouns, it’s got the passive voice aspect that riles me up, but that is normal. Naming things is basic science, sort of unavoidable.)

“Although the neural basis of human proactive aggression is not well understood, the critical result is that it is different from reactive aggression (42, 64).” – my ignorance is screaming “maybe because proactive means a choice, a decision, as opposed to an automatic reaction? Maybe our decisions don’t show up on EEGs?”

Maybe the biology of the proactive aggression is all on the behavioural side, the cultural side (again, larger than “society” or “culture,” though) – and it seems to be exactly only proactive aggression that AST is concerned with, proactive aggression is the sort I’m trying to solve, I’m not trying to strip anyone of their proper, normal self defense.

AST is exactly the science about proactive aggression in humans that seems to be missing, not the neurocircuitry, but the . . . function. I don’t really say it’s the first cause, but I think I make a great case that abuse enhances our proactive aggression. The illicit abuse provides the conscious reason for the punitive abuse – while both sorts follow the “violence breeds violence” pattern – how we imagine this to somehow add up to a net reduction . . .

“Since there are long-term benefits from killing members of neighboring groups, natural selection has putatively favored this style of proactive aggression (13, 108–110). Essentially the same explanation applies to chimpanzees and hunter-gatherers, except that humans have cultural systems of reward and coercion that promote more risk taking (82, 111, 112). As a result, compared with chimpanzees, during intergroup aggression human attackers are more likely to be wounded or die (82).” – this was one of my first definitions of AST! The italics are mine.

“However, to date the execution hypothesis has treated aggression unimodally, which is problematic: The hypothesis argues that a propensity for aggression became down-regulated as a result of aggressors’ being killed by capital punishment, yet those who carried out the killings were by definition exhibiting a high level of aggression. Fitness benefits that the killers received by executing aggressive victims would undermine selection against aggression.

The bimodal view of aggression readily solves the problem.” – LOL. By defining proactive aggression and violence as “good?” Sorry.

And yes, apparently. –

“Among hunter-gatherers and universally, aggression exhibited by the executioners is proactive: It is carefully planned so as to minimize the risk of a victim fighting back (127). According to Boehm (127) the victims of capital punishment were frequently men with a history of aggression. When the victims had high propensities for reactive aggression, the long-term effect would be a reduction in reactive aggression. When the victims killed because of their proactive aggression, there would have been no long-term effect since executioners and victims were displaying similar tendencies.”

Sigh.

But I’ve said as much.

This is where AST may still be still important, however. How much of a leap is it to suggest that our punishment schemes that do not control or select against proactive aggression actually support it, and how much of one from there to that it enhances it, even creates it? No secret – I have this idea that we take it too far, that it has become a major problem, that our obsession with it has destroyed the Earth.

I’m starting to see that Wrangham is not my opposition at all, that was the media I was glimpsing him through, we’re close and he may be feeling outnumbered about it too.

“More attention to proactive aggression is overdue.”

Yes, absolutely. Brother From Another Mother! That paper was terrific – and understandable, a pleasant surprise for a paper, for me. I often cannot glean the point in science papers, I often cannot find the verb in the sentences, there is some convention of science writing I do not grasp where verbs are somehow not required or something. Wrangham manages clarity in the form, so maybe Pinker is right, some scientists just lack the knack. Again with the low self-image, I thought I was the problem.

So, what I am trying to do is translate all this impersonal science into some practical advice, or a plan for humanity – as though humanity were looking for one or something, I know – and what I have come up with is stop with the whoopings and stop with this “strength” worship. There is some awful myth about “good strength” that keeps us in the hierarchy, keeps the alpha on his throne when we’re supposed to be executing him instead, part of the “good” proactive aggression, uh, tendency, I suppose.

Long term, pie in the sky answer? In the sorts of terms we use for this, strength, competition, fights, maybe even “fitness” all need to be classified as cheating, on the “we don’t do that” side of things, I mean, if we really want anything to change.

 

Jeff

May 23rd., 2020

 

*someone emailed me those papers, I don’t know that I can re-broadcast them, I suspect they’re behind some paywall somewhere, so it’s just titles, authors and commentary here. Hopefully, they’re not hard to find.

Why Human Nature Matters

I’m not sure it should; I mean, I’m not sure if it’s important that polar bears have some workable version of Polar Bear Nature to draw upon, most humans don’t think so, we think most creatures simply are what they are, they live, act, and respond. We don’t usually imagine that a bear or a deer or a barracuda compares itself to some idealized version of their species when they are making decisions.

I’m suggesting first, and in the interests of honesty rather than clarity, that many surely do have opinions about how they and others of their species should behave, but more to the point, that if one did imagine its nature completely upside-down and backwards, we might expect trouble. A species like that might stick out so starkly that it may not be the only species to think there is something different about it from all the others.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the damned Canada Geese, of course. Entitled, obtuse idiots. They think they’re canaries, always singing and landing on you and waving like in Snow White, except they only have one sour note and when they land on you it’s less of a wave and more of a fistfight.

I’m sorry – no wait. Maybe that’s not all bad. It’s a little like that, isn’t it?

Human nature is important because we’ll believe any lie that we think aligns with it. I’ll restart, but I had to get that down before I lost the idea.

Human nature is literally what we name the episteme  – the premise – we live under. People don’t like to be told they believe in any version of human nature, especially the Christian one, considering the rest of their story, their “cure” for your awful nature, but I’m starting to see that those sorts of details and rational concerns don’t matter, you don’t have to explicitly believe, maybe you don’t even have to tacitly accept it, do you? Even when you see the lie, there is still no other option anyway, “the cure” is in place, everywhere. It has the advantage of not only consensus, but a secret consensus, from which dissent is hardly possible. As I said recently, human nature is the end of the conversation, of every conversation that we allow to descend so far – bah! human nature.

If we buy the Nietzsche-Foucault idea of the episteme, does it mean we agree that different ages hold different ones? I don’t pretend to have read them, just because I presume to have some idea about them at all – did they preclude the idea of forever ones? I listened to that Foucault synopsis a few times, I sort of think he did, not sure about Nietzsche. I agree, forever is a long time, but I don’t think I’m onto one of a particular age, I would put AST as in place from at least today and back into prehistory somewhere. Perhaps “Christian original sin” would count as a premise for the post-classical age, but there is an underlying adaptation that predates it, isn’t there?

This is certainly a fine “first year” look at AST, that such a view, when codified and stated explicitly, came from Augustine et al and created the nightmare of Christendom for a thousand or two years, the Dark Ages, an age preserved most prolifically and poignantly in the numerous relics of torture and punitive devices. There’s another clarification I am going to require – did they say these premises were of our own devising? Certainly, they are limits upon the individual, and not of single origin, but do those fellows posit that “society” creates these parameters with any consciousness, or that societies are simply subject to them, to the unplanned unfolding of history?

I cannot get comfortable with “society,” the word, generally that’s true, but specifically here. I think I’m onto something that exists in all societies, or close enough, and “society,” firstly, sounds like othering, like it means “everyone around here except me,” but more importantly it’s still just too small, it’s not just everyone around here, it’s everyone. So.

Not individual, not societal, perhaps species wide. So, biology, then?

I’m not sure that there is the germ of this adaptation to be found observing primates, honestly. I see alphas, I see military hierarchies . . . there is even a germ of warfare. What I do not see is non-lethal abuse, child abuse.

I know, “childhood” is new, “parenting” as such is new, – always right on the button, aren’t we? How can there be child abuse when children weren’t invented yet? Ha. No corpse, no crime? Sorry.

Funny how things work, child abuse, pre-existing in the world, just waiting for children to be invented! Funny but “true.” Used to be, we beat little, recently created adults to work in the mines, because growth and development weren’t invented yet either, apparently. Or “It wasn’t me, the little buggers beat each other spare (the publisher’s ‘moral’ provided at the end of the Nurture Assumption)?” If children get abused, there is child abuse, we are sorting the abuse by victim type when we say that. Not vouching for it, but the description of the “aboriginal hunter gatherer group’s ‘children’s group’’’ was an abusive soldier factory where the boys either became fighters or were killed, weeded out of the tribe. I went to school, and this has the ring of truth to it for me, at least the core of it does. The presence of adults is not a requirement for children to be abused, any more than adults are proof against it.

I am convinced, that as far back as the anthropologists are tracking “social control” and the roots of law and civilization in humans and just a little further back yet, that this is how long we have thought that an abused human is a better human, that the two are two sides of the same coin, for the simple reason that the very first person to be controlled with abuse was also the first one to be pissed off about it and probably took it out on someone. More to the larger point of AST, perhaps they were well controlled and did not immediately take it out baboon style on some undeserving underling, perhaps they suppressed those feelings and waited for someone to break a rule, or for a war to break out to express them.

It’s a little more than perhaps, you put it that way, isn’t it?

In the interests of satisfying an obsolete urge, to define humans, human nature, I am suggesting that the delayed gratification of these negative feelings it what defines us. This is AST, the creation and storage, by our group, of pain and hurt, to be used in a directed manner, for our group conflict.

Sure, the church tries to replace the alpha with an abstract one and they try to make themselves the reason the sun rises and the reason humankind requires abuse. They put their holidays over older holidays and rebrand everything, but a spanking or a beating by any other name would hurt just as sweetly, no? Of course, near eternal institutions like the church have their finger on something basic, something biological, and so they give it their own name and declare it to have been recently created by their replacement alpha.

I’ve said elsewhere, Mom says she went up the side of your head to teach you not to track mud into her clean house and all things refined and civilized like that, while Dad makes the counterpoint that that may or may not be the case and Mom may or may not be being fair about this instance of your misbehaviour, but that him beating your ass will “toughen you up” and that’s the positive thing he takes from the whole affair. He could well be saving your life in some future altercation, indeed saving the family, the tribe in future skirmishes. I consider this a fun little anecdote, but perhaps I haven’t made it clear why it’s always there for me, so here:

Two completely different “reasons” that are actually in conflict – Mom says soft and Dad says hard – same behaviour, kids get punished, read “hurt.” For me, this is proof that the behaviour persists, even if the explanation is completely wrong – two men say they’re Jesus; one of ‘em must be wrong, right – except both of their houses are full and not just every Sunday, but all week. For the record, Mom’s lying about what it does, Dad’s telling the truth about that. For full disclosure, Dad’s full of it that weakness is a problem and toughness is an answer. His answer is humanity’s whole problem.

Mom’s idea of human nature seems to be, born messy and wild, and she has her cure, the father, the switch , and the woodshed.

Dad’s idea of human nature is, born weak and vulnerable, and he has his cure, the switch and the woodshed.

Isn’t it admirable, this quest of personal discovery, us trying to glean our true natures and intended purpose so we can cure it. That is the part of that sentence I would have you notice – we supposedly differ about our natures, but still we have a plan. Again, always, “nature” in this sense is an innateness argument, religious and absolutist. The point of life, of living and evolution, is not some static nature but of adaptation, of struggle and striving, of becoming . . .

. . . so your plan is your nature. You are what you are trying to be – that is evolution. Where all your effort goes – that is who, or what you are.

The entire point of evolution is that the past didn’t work, that it wasn’t working, so the past is absolutely, one hundred percent, exactly the only place that answers to our problems are not going to be found.

The whole point of every selective situation is that a new way needs to be found, isn’t it? I hope we haven’t missed it, but I think this was one such situation.

 

 

 

Jeff

May 19th., 2020

Nothing is Real

Nothing is Real

 

True forgiveness is possible and really exists, sure. More common, however, is the form of it only, and repression, resentment, and generally no adjustment to any power differential. In stark terms, forgiveness is simply the mechanism by which we prosecute the other and not our own people. Full disclosure, I can’t even express the ideal form of forgiveness anymore; that opening sentence may be a lie, coming from me. I may have successfully unlearned it.

The point is the “good” sort is at least rare. It’s the pretend version that really exists, mostly. That’s the garden variety, the kind we’re most likely to be seeing when we see it. This is an unpopular line of reasoning, and it’s my contribution to the world, nice to meet you.

I think this principle of real world things being more the opposite of their pure forms than an approximation, applies to many things, big things – I think “punishment,” and morality are mostly abuse and institutionalized immorality out here in the real world too. That should alienate everybody, in theory – so why am I so nervous to suggest it about gender reassignment?

Here goes nuthin’.

I’m uncomfortable with it.

First, shut up, everyone is uncomfortable about it, it’s all about people’s discomfort with themselves and each other. And if you are a straight up swap, clearly way closer to the other gender, sure, that sounds like a clear positive, no worries there. I am uncomfortable as a liberal, not some bigot. Do what you gotta do. I’m just auditing, double checking for the above principle, that nothing is quite right out here in the world. I’m uncomfortable with everything; of course I’m uncomfortable with it.

For reasons of the above principle, nothing is what it’s supposed to be, so mostly I suspect gender dysphoria is really just general dysphoria or any of or any number of other dysphorias, but the main thing for me, what I would artistically call my right-brain assessment, my overview, holistic, we are all victims (AST) analysis is simply that scalpels are the opposite of acceptance and tolerance, and the whole idea smells like conformism to me, one’s appearance must conform with one’s insides, like we owe it to one another that they can see who we think we are.

Have we given up moral lessons like not judging a book by its cover?

Another way to say it is that identities are simultaneously today, at least on social media, simultaneously all good and to be celebrated, forty-six genders, and also lines of division of all sorts . . . again, bird’s eye view, I cannot separate racism and xenophobia’s focus on identities from the woke generation’s focus on identities. We can’t be celebrating our identities along with the Nazis celebrating theirs. We need to rise above that. Good kind, bad kind, you say – see above. The “good” kind is virtual.

Down here on Earth, the bad kind is winning, as usual.

 

Jeff

May 17th., 2020

The Environmental Documentary Angle

All is ball-busting. What’s the noun for “demeaning?” Diminishment, I suppose?

. . . all the nature TV, all the environmental documentaries that come down to “people gotta realize,” or “we need to starting thinking X,” these are the taunts of bullies – what, suddenly we’re all in control of our lives and so the world? If only “I” realize?

Show me one consensus oil well. Show me one co-op oil well, where all concerned thought there should be an oil well where none was before.

There have always been people who want to preserve the natural world. We do not all have to learn some new way to be, we are not coming from some place in the past where “everyone thought pollution etc., didn’t matter” or something, that would be revisionism, gaslighting – ball-busting. We took our orders and our crumbs, a small minority decided the environment “didn’t matter,” not everybody.

If there is a consensus everyone is responsible for, it is only allowing the existence of the alpha and the fulfillment of his evil desires. We’ve always had some balance in the population, some reason, often even consensus. But it’s never meant anything with the alpha there giving orders; it’s a most impotent consensus.

“Change your thinking” all you want, your leaders don’t give a flyer.

And nothing will change.

There is no “political Right.” “Politics” is on the Left. Democracy, collectivism, these are political “systems.” Capitalism simply means competition, and competition simply means a fight – “the Right” is nothing but anarchy, nothing but the eternal primate pyramid of violence, where nothing matters less than the rational consensus. Is it possible to suggest that in order to differentiate himself and keep his position, the alpha must force a situation that is pointedly not the consensual one? I think so, but honestly, I’m not ready with that argument today. Perhaps I give them too much credit with an idea like that.

We like to tell ourselves we’re already there, operating consciously, making at least partially informed choices between Left and Right at the polls, but no, we are simply on the edge, trying to grow up, trying to either become conscious or go back to sleep, and Left is waking up and Right is sleep, nature, and alpha rule where nothing anybody thinks means anything.

 

Jeff

May 14th., 2020