It occurred to me the other day that there’s a curious disconnect between one of the most common assumptions most of us make about how to make the world better, on the one hand, and the results that this assumption has had when put into practice, on the other. It’s reminiscent of the realization that led James Hillman and Michael Ventura to title a once-notorious book of theirs We’ve Had A Hundred Years Of Psychotherapy And The World’s Getting Worse. In this case as in that one, something that’s supposed to make things better doesn’t seem to be doing the trick—in fact, quite the opposite—and it’s time that we talked about that.
You know the assumption I have in mind, dear reader. It’s the conviction that certain common human emotions are evil and harmful and wrong, and the way to make a better world is to get rid of them in one way or another. That belief is taken for granted throughout the industrial societies of the modern West, and it’s been welded in place for a very long time, though—as we’ll see in a moment—the particular emotions so labeled have varied from time to time. Just now, of course, the emotion at the center of this particular rogue’s gallery is hate.
These days hate has roughly the same role in popular culture that original sin has in traditional Christian theology. If you want to slap the worst imaginable label on an organization, you call it a hate group. If you want to push a category of discourse straight into the realm of the utterly unacceptable, you call it hate speech. If you’re speaking in public and you want to be sure that everyone in the crowd will beam approval at you, all you have to do is denounce hate.
At the far end of this sort of rhetoric, you get the meretricious slogan used by Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign last year: LOVE TRUMPS HATE. I hope that none of my readers are under the illusion that Clinton’s partisans were primarily motivated by love, except in the sense of Clinton’s love for power and the Democrats’ love for the privileges and payouts they could expect from four more years of control of the White House; and of course Trump and the Republicans were head over heels in love with the same things. The fact that Clinton’s marketing flacks and focus groups thought that the slogan just quoted would have an impact on the election, though, shows just how pervasive the assumption I’m discussing has become in our culture.
Now of course most people these days, when confronted with the sort of things I’ve just written, are likely to respond, “Wait, are you saying that hate is good?”—as though the only alternatives available are condemning something as absolutely bad or praising it as absolutely good. Let’s set that simplistic reaction to one side for the moment, and ask a different question: what happens when people decide that some common human emotion is evil and harmful and wrong, and decide that the way to make a better world is to get rid of it?
As it turns out, we have a very good idea what happens in this case, because a first-rate example of the phenomenon finally completed its historical trajectory on the edge of living memory. The example I have in mind is the attitude, prevalent in the English-speaking world from the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, that sex was the root of all evil.
The Victorian horror of sexual desire has been mocked so mercilessly in recent decades, and not without reason, that a lot of people these days have apparently forgotten just how seriously it was taken at the time. During its heyday, people in Britain and America loudly proclaimed exactly the same attitudes toward sex that their great-grandchildren now display toward hate. If you wanted to define anything as utterly beyond the pale, you just had to label it as “immoral”—in the jargon of the time, this meant “sexual”—and the vast majority of people were expected to recoil from it in horror. No political campaign back in the day, as far as I know, used the slogan PURITY TRUMPS IMMORALITY, but then political sloganeering hadn’t yet decayed into the kind of empty mouthing of buzzwords on display at present. The sentiment was certainly there.
By the way, yes, I know that comparing current attitudes toward hate with Victorian attitudes toward sex will inspire instant pushback from a good many of my readers. After all, sexual desire is natural and normal and healthy, while hate is evil and harmful and wrong, right? Here again, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that people a century and a quarter ago—most likely including your ancestors, dear reader, if they happened to live in the English-speaking world—saw things the other way around. To them, hate was an ordinary emotion that most people had under certain circumstances, but sexual desire was beyond the pale: beastly, horrid, filthy, and so on through an impressive litany of unpleasant adjectives.
It was also something that all of them experienced. That’s where the comparison begins to bite, because insisting that sexual desire was beastly, horrid, filthy, etc. didn’t make it go away, or deprive it of its substantial role in motivating human behavior. It just meant that people got hypocritical about it. Some pretended that it wasn’t there. Some insisted that in certain sharply defined contexts—for example, within the bounds of legal marriage—it wasn’t the same, no, of course not, how could you suggest such a horrid thing? Some pursued any of the other dodges, and there were plenty of them, that allowed people to pretend that they weren’t getting sexually aroused and acting on their arousal when, in fact, that’s what they were doing.
That’s what happens whenever people decide that an ordinary human emotion is unacceptable and insist that good people don’t experience it. A culture of pretense, hypocrisy, and evasion springs up to allow them to vent the unacceptable emotion on some set of acceptable targets without admitting that they were doing so. That’s what emerged in Victorian society once people convinced themselves that sexual desire was the root of all evil, and it’s what has emerged in our time as people have convinced themselves that hate fills the same role. In a very real sense, these days, hate is the new sex.
If you have any doubts concerning this, dear reader, observe the way that the same people who were sporting LOVE TRUMPS HATE bumper stickers a year ago talk about Donald Trump and his supporters today. Back in January of 2016, when I first predicted Trump’s victory, I pointed out that if you wanted to hear really over-the-top hate speech, all you had to do was listen to a group of comfortably well-to-do Americans in the bicoastal urban bubble talk about white working class Americans in the flyover states. That’s become even more true now than it was then. Take the rhetoric currently being flung by well-off Democratic voters at Trump supporters, swap out the ethnic labels for any other set you choose, and you’ll have a hard time telling it apart from the rantings of any other group of bigots.
The class dimension of all this rhetoric about hate, by the way, is one of the most telling things about it. Back in the Victorian era, the privileged classes defined themselves as the Good People, the moral, virtuous, pure people, which in the language of the time meant the people who didn’t have sexual desires. They accordingly defined their social inferiors as beastly, horrid, filthy—that is to say, sexual beings. Nowadays, what defines the Good People has changed, but the class bigotry hasn’t; now the privileged people claim to be the ones who don’t hate, and define their social inferiors as hate-filled bigots. The relative behavior of the two groups, it bears repeating, does not exactly justify this claim.
For that matter, watch the way that the American media and the privileged classes of this country have spent the last nine months utterly fixated on the person of Donald Trump. In my memory—and I’ve watched new presidents take office since the days of Richard Nixon—I’ve never seen so obsessive a concern with someone who, after all, is simply an elected official. It reminds me, to be precise, of the way that Victorian prudes would travel miles by train to be shocked and offended by some display or other of sexuality—and I’d like to suggest that in this case, as in that one, the shock and the offense are filmy garments that very imperfectly cover a seething, sweaty mass of unacknowledged desire.
In the city where I live, if you walk through neighborhoods frequented by the leftward end of the population, you can count on seeing stickers on light poles that show the president’s face and the slogan, TRUMP HATES YOU. Strictly speaking, this is absurd—I doubt Donald Trump is even aware of the existence of the people who put up and view those stickers, and we don’t even have to talk about the likelihood that he feels any particular emotion toward them—but in another sense, it’s profoundly revealing.
When people don’t want to deal with an emotion they’re feeling, one very common dodge they use is to insist that they’re not feeling it—no, it’s that awful person over there who’s feeling it, toward them. Back in the Victorian era, that dodge racked up plenty of overtime, as people who couldn’t cope with the fact that they had sexual feelings projected those feelings onto others, and then labeled the others beastly, horrid, filthy, etc. for supposedly having those feelings. The same thing is going on here. The people who make and post those stickers can’t just come out and say I HATE TRUMP—that admission would consign them once and for all, in their own eyes, to the category of Bad People—so they project their own hatred onto the person they hate, and convince themselves that he hates them.
Notice, furthermore, how this feeds into the utter fascination with which so many people on the leftward end of the political spectrum hang on Donald Trump’s every word and action. Seen through the funhouse mirror of their projected emotions, at least, he’s the equivalent of a naked couple having kinky sex right there in the middle of the street. He’s acting out their dearest fantasy, hating other people right out there in public—how can they possibly look away? In effect, they put an apostrophe into Clinton’s slogan, and made it read LOVE TRUMP’S HATE—and covertly, in the silent hours of the night, they do.
That’s the problem with taking some ordinary human emotion and insisting that it has to be gotten rid of in order to make the world perfect. Make something forbidden and you make it desirable. Take a normal human emotional state, one that everyone experiences, and make it forbidden, and you guarantee that the desire to violate the taboo will take on overwhelming power. That’s why, after spending their days subject to the pervasive tone policing of contemporary life, in which every utterance gets scrutinized for the least trace of anything that anyone anywhere could conceivably interpret as hateful, so many people in today’s world don internet aliases and go to online forums where they can blurt out absolutely anything. They’re doing it in exactly the same spirit in which Victorian men went to whorehouses and Victorian women arranged covert assignations with muscular young stablehands.
Nor, if history is any guide, will the return of the repressed be limited to such hole-and-corner expressions for long. Victorian sexual repressiveness, after all, eventually gave rise to the Sexual Revolution, which swung to the opposite extreme with an equal lack of balance. In the same way, today’s attempt to repress hate could quite easily give rise to a Revolution of Hate, in which people wallow in hatred the way libertines in the 1960s and 1970s wallowed in sex. The identical rhetoric of liberation, of being natural, of casting off the straitjacket of an outdated morality, would serve equally well for both.
It may come as a surprise to some of those who’ve read this far that I don’t favor this latter possibility. The opposite of one bad idea, after all, is usually another bad idea; the fact that dying of thirst is bad for you doesn’t make drowning good for you; whether we’re talking about sex or anything else, there’s a space somewhere between “not enough” and “too much,” between pathological repression and equally pathological expression, that’s considerably healthier than either of the extremes. I’m going to risk causing my more sensitive readers to clutch their smelling salts and faint on the nearest sofa, in true Victorian style, by suggesting that the same thing’s true of hate.
We all feel it, you know, and you know what? Sometimes that’s appropriate. There are actions done by human beings to other human beings that deserve a more robust response than the sort of simpering evasions that are acceptable today—“Oh, isn’t that sad,” or “I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it,” or “It’s not fair to pass judgment,” and so on, all the vacuous nonsense by which we’re expected to pretend that actions don’t have consequences and people don’t bear responsibility for their decisions. Au contraire, there are actions that deserve to be condemned, judgments that need to be made, and individuals and ideas for whom the hot flame of fury or the stark ice of hate are, from time to time, appropriate responses.
Does that mean that every hatred, and every expression of hatred, is appropriate? Of course not. Hate is like sex; there are certain times, places, and contexts where it’s appropriate, but there are many, many others where it’s not. You can recognize its place in life without having to act it out on every occasion—and in fact, the more conscious you are of its place in life, the more completely you acknowledge it and give it its due, the less likely you are to get blindsided by it. That’s true of sex, and it’s true of hate: what you refuse to acknowledge controls you; what you acknowledge, you can learn to control.
Now of course doing this involves challenging some very deep-seated cultural imperatives. It’s one of the basic presuppositions of our culture that we’re supposed to become perfect, and the way to become perfect, we’re told, is to amputate whatever part of ourselves keeps us from being perfect. The last sixteen hundred years or so of moral philosophy in the Western world have been devoted to this theme: find the thing that’s causing us to be evil, find some way to chop it off, and then we’ll all behave like plaster saints. The mere fact that it never works hasn’t yet slowed down the endless profusion of attempts to try it again.
The same logic gets applies in fields far removed from morality.Think about the way that people in America think about food, to cite only one example. Every fad diet for the last thirty years has fixated on identifying some specific food or food group as evil incarnate, and insisted that if you amputate it from your diet, why, then you could count on perfect health and whatever body shape happens to be fashionable at the moment. Again, the mere fact that it never works does nothing to keep people from chasing after the next example, because the blind faith that goodness requires amputation is so unquestioned in our time.
If you always do what you’ve always done, the saying goes, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. The quest for perfection by self-mutilation doesn’t work; it’s as simple as that. We’ve given it every possible test down through the centuries, and it’s painfully clear that one more variation on the same misguided theme isn’t going to change the verdict. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to try something else for a change.
How about this? In place of perfection, wholeness.
Human beings are never going to be perfect, not if perfection means the amputation of some part of human experience, whether the limb that’s being hacked off is our sexual instincts, our aggressive instincts, or any other part of who and what we are. Instead, we can be whole. We can accept our sexuality, whatever that happens to be, and weave it into the pattern of our individual lives and our relationships with other people in ways that uphold the values we cherish and yield as much joy and as little unnecessary pain for as many people as possible. That doesn’t mean always acting out our desires—in some cases, it can mean never acting them out at all. What it means is that we make the choice ourselves, rather than handing it over to some automatism or other mandated by popular culture.
In exactly the same way, we can accept our hatreds, whatever those happens to be, and weave them into the pattern of our individual lives and our relationships with other people so that its potent energy serves to defend the things and people we value. That doesn’t mean that we ought to express our hate on every occasion—here again, it can mean never expressing it at all. It means recognizing that hate is as much as part of being human as love, and finding a place for it in there with all the other emotions that we inevitably feel.
It means, ultimately, giving up on the fantasy that we can become more than human by making ourselves incomplete. By accepting our own nature in all its richness and contradictory complexity, and finding a use for everything that comes with being human, maybe we can stop making the same mistakes over and over again, and do something a little less idiotic with our time on Earth.
On an unrelated theme—I hope!—I have a pair of book-related announcements that I hope will be welcome to my readers. First of all, the first volume of my epic fantasy with tentacles, The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth, is now available in trade paperback. Those who secretly root for Great Cthulhu and his multiracial cultists when they read H.P. Lovecraft’s stories can come out of the shoggoth closet, as this tale—the first of seven volumes—is told forthrightly from the point of view of the eldritch and tentacular other side.
Second, my latest book on the future of industrial society, The Retro Future, is now shipping from New Society Publications. This book starts by asking a question nobody’s supposed to ask—what do you do when progress no longer means improvement, and the latest technologies have fewer benefits and more downsides than the older ones they replace?—and goes on from there to explore the possibilities of deliberate technological regression as a strategy for getting through the crisis of our age.
Finally, a couple of notes on the next month of blogging here. Next Wednesday, August 9, is our monthly book club discussion. The book we’re exploring is Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, and our theme, not coincidentally, is the discussion of the Law of Wholeness on pp. 18-26. The Wednesday after that, the 16th, will be August’s regular monthly post, and after that on the 23rd comes the August open post.
August, though, has five Wednesdays, and I currently have no theme scheduled for the August 30 post. I’m going to turn around and pose a question to my readers: what do you want to hear about? Let me know.
Really lovely reading today. Many thanks.
What you might actually be saying, posed a different way, relates to balance. We all hate, and love, but too much of either could be harmful. How well does western societies do balance?
Again, great posting. Looking forward to the continuing discussion on the mystery teachings.
I really liked last months Stormwatch. I could go for that again.
I thought (it hurt for a little while), many years ago, that hate is not the opposite of love. Love and hate are part of a social/spiritual/emotional/physical continuum. I proposed then, and still do, that the opposite is “indifference”. I still engage in that latter sentiment whenever I try to keep up with political economy in the ‘world’ but find myself wishing only for the vacuity of some inane sporting event!
It is acceptable to hate Putin, Trump, or any politician of your choosing. They’re not a protected group in terms of hate speech laws. As public figures, they cannot expect the same treatment, or be entitled to the same rights as a private citizen.
Hate can be destructive, violence even more so, yet both are rampant. Since we are unable or unwilling to address these challenges, we slap a coat of veneer onto the whole mess, and pretend that we live in a genteel world. We may be deluding ourselves, but at least we don’t have to be confronted with as much ugliness.
Courteous hypocrites make the world go round a bit more smoothly.
You’re not wrong. Of course, making sex the root of all 19th century evil had the additional benefit of taking the pressure off of money, the love of which is the more traditional source of wickedness. And if you think about what was happening across the anglophone world (and elsewhere) at the time, i.e. empire building, viz. industrial theft, it was probably a useful diversion.
I am amazed at how effective Trump is at localizing attention on himself and diverting it from the Republicans’ malice and Democrats’ entnusiastic complicity. I have acquaintances — okay relatives, gah — who cannot talk about anything but the prospect of impeachment. When I ask for a legally cognizable basis for the President’s removal, all I get is word salad: collusion, Russia, profiteering, meetings! The thing is, Trump’s political enemies could get him right now for violations of the Emoluments Clause, but they haven’t and won’t, because they’re all doing the same thing (or hoping to.)
Finally, a possible suggestion for the 5th Wednesday: am I the only one who misses Scaramouche? I thought watching our failing empire dissolve into actual Commedia dell’arte was awesome. Would you care to talk about life imitating art? Or synchronicity? Or the human need for comic relief?
Excellent post. For me it is all about tempering my hate. For example, I hate Sam Harris. I don’t see that changing and I own it, at least internally. Any time he gets mentioned or I’m unlucky enough to encounter his words the reaction is visceral. But I don’t usually express it outright. Instead, I will comment on how I don’t like how he does or says x,y,z. I believe I have mentioned before that I find it more beneficial to criticize behavior than individuals (is of identity and all that). I do this mostly for my own sake, hate is kind of boring and upsetting to my system past a certain point, just as not acknowledging it would be dishonest and equally unhealthy.
I have noticed a lot of self hate amongst white liberals lately. I can’t tell how much of it is white guilt and virtue signaling and how much of it is the kind of regional and class based hatred you mention. I find it tiresome, especially when it is followed by a history lesson I learned 20 years ago.
In any case, if you push some of these people on their hypocrisy in denouncing one kind of hate with a hate that is just as potent, once caught out they will just argue that their hate is legitimate. Here is a link to an article in Current Affairs about the way white liberals like to self-flagellate that covers some of the same ground as the rescue game.
Great post! Will comment (if I have something to add) later. More pressing question. Am buying both books. However, “The Retro Future” shows as a pre-order on the publisher’s website (as it does on Amazon). Is it actually shipping? Oh, and which is best for *you*? If I order from the publisher or from Amazon? (My guess is the publisher, but wanted to check). Thx!
I’d like to see you revisit your predictions about the US over the (then) months to come and see how they panned out – given all the current furore about Trump.
I’ve become increasingly convinced that we’re reaping the consequences of New Age pop-spirituality. Pop-spirituality teachers pretty much invariably offer an image of global utopia if only we could just get rid of “ego” (how on Mam Gaia’s round belly did that become a bad word?), which in their mouths basically means “negative emotions.”
I’ve been… let’s go with “blessed” for now… with the opportunity to have experienced both sex-repressing Victorian-esque moralism and the hate-repressing pop-spirituality, and I’ve been able to see both in action in my life. Yeah, not pretty.
I have a conjecture that’s been bubbling in my head that the great societal fear of yesteryear was a fear of disorder, while the great anxiety of the present is a fear of meaninglessness. I think this plays into it: in Victorian times, sex was seen as a threat to civilization, a return to barbarism. Today, the fear is that the great god Social Progress(tm) will be dethroned by a resurgence of Bigotry and Hate, and leave us with nothing worth doing with our lives. It’s made all the more pressing by an unacknowledged realization of how trivial many of the concerns we now occupy ourselves with really are (e.g. people disagreeing with you on the Internet).
I just was able to read the essay “Mind and Earth” which is I believe what you were referencing in the comments last week from Civilization in Transition, where Jung calls archetypes “the cthonic portion of the psyche… through which the psyche is attached to nature”. One pertinent aspect of this essay to your post today is the discussion of the father archetype:
“The father goes about, talks with other men, hunts, travels, makes war lets his bad moods loose like thunderstorms, and at the behest of invisible thoughts he suddenly changes the whole situation like a tempest. He is the war and the weapon, the cause of all changes; he is the bull provoked to violence or prone to apathetic laziness. He is the image of all the helpful or harmful elemental powers” p.36
It hard to imagine the father archetype coming out healthily in a culture in denial of its own hatreds. I appreciate what you wrote about the importance of being cognizant of what one’s own hatreds are so that one can be wise in expressing them (or not!). Jung sums up on p.49 with “Plurimi pertansibunt – but he who is rooted in the soil endures”, which I take to mean that if we can be whole with our archetypes, and utilize archetypes consciously which offer up utility in dealing with our present circumstances, the likelihood of a successful life is improved.
“Perfection” always presumes a standard by which one is measured. I’ve finally come to understand how dehumanizing a quest for perfection can be (and perhaps by definition is). Recent realizations in my meditation practice coupled with the excellently-crafted example of the Radiance in your novels have aided in this understanding.
I’m going to step out on my limb and inch out. My SJW daughter uses “judgement” as a method of separating herself from her behaviors. I grew so weary of being called out for “judging people” that I had to ban her from using that word in my home. I did this, because the next word in her arsenal of irresponsibility was always ‘hate’ or ‘hateful’.
We judge people every single day. Many judge by a very select criteria, that of not-like-me. This can be mean not-like-me in thinking, appearance or action, but those placed in the not-like-me category are essentially marginalized this way, and in spite of this being a very low-brow and empathy-free method of judgment, it is extremely common. Which is why the entire argument that judging people or things is hateful falls so flat. It feels an utter hypocrisy to me.
Unfortunately, once this marginalizing judgement-that-isn’t-really-a-judgement has been made, the next escalation level is lumping or leavening hate into the mixture. I’ll throw out that I was called out for being first judgemental and next hateful, when I mentioned that one of their friends appeared to be very pretentious when they hired a serving girl for a party they hosted. I wouldn’t have said a word if they hadn’t all been talking about “evil white privilege” while their obviously non-white server was plying us with drinks. And yes, I left the doings fairly soon after, voting with my feet.
Yes, this does all tie right back into a literal Everest-sized mountain of hypocrisy, a key feature in your essay. But it turns out that this hypocrisy is richly rewarded by social acceptance and inclusion into the “like-me” grouping. For many, exclusion from a group is painful. Only as we mature do we get perspective on the effect exclusion has on others. Only with experience do we learn that inclusion in a group who are terribly similar is both stifling and stilting. With age comes experience and the sharpening of judgement – maybe why judgement is anathema to so many?
My experience is that the best counter to this entire hate-based mess is to respond with love and forgiveness, within balanced reason. Just as sex or hate can go too far, overt love and excessive forgiveness are stupid in the face of sociopaths or psychopaths. “All things in moderation” or “a season for all things” seem to be fairly reliable guidelines for social interactions. These are”Elder Teachings”, much disabused by western infinite growth cultures. I agree that there is a purpose in hate as an emotion, and accepting hate as normal and part of ourselves allows one the freedom to hold it or let it slip away.
There is a place for hate, a place for love – a place for much of what we feel. Moderating the sharing of our emotions allows for fuller development of a self, and maintenance of social norms. There is ever a testing of boundaries – such is the social construct we have made. Looking forward to other comments…
Knocking it out of the park!
Now to decide which of my friends I can forward this to and which ones will never talk to me again if I do . . . .
Brian, that’s a workable way of talking about it! Well, as long as you don’t decide that balance is good, imbalance is evil, and you can become perfect by amputating your capacity for imbalance… 😉
Jeff, I really did intend to write something like that. It just didn’t come out that way.
Bruce, true enough. It’s also useful to think of emotions as existing in a complex space rather than a straight line, with the volume knob running from indifference to obsession, and half a dozen other knobs determining where you fall in love vs. hate vs. contempt vs. awe vs. all kinds of other emotional reactions you can have.
Bumblebee, I’m far from sure I agree that things go more smoothly. Our politics are a complete mess just now, and that’s largely because all sides insist that they’re pure sweetness and light, and all the negativity is the other side’s fault. Some willingness on all sides to own up to their own nastiness, and a collective descent from various imaginary pedestals of moral virtue, would improve things all around.
Liz, I’m far from sure it’s Trump who’s the effective one. I think his opponents are utterly fixated on him for reasons of their own, and one consequence is that — unless they pull their heads out of a collection of unhygienic orifices in a hurry — he’s going to win reelection in 2020. You can’t run a successful presidential campaign if you’re unable to learn from your mistakes or appeal to anybody who isn’t already a true believer, and that’s exactly what the Dems are trying to do. It won’t end well. Thank you for your suggestions, btw — they’ve gone into the hopper.
Greg, I think it’s mostly virtue signaling. I’ve noticed that pretty reliably, the apparent self-hate comes out of people who are well up on the ladder of privilege, and you can bet your bottom dollar that their apparent self-hate isn’t going to motivate them to relinquish even the smallest advantage they get from their class status. I’ve also noticed that when you call them on class issues — as opposed to race, gender, or any of the other socially acceptable dividing lines — they very quickly get either abusive or hysterical. Thus I tend to think that the social-justice cant of privileged white middle class people is pretty much on a par with Marie Antoinette’s penchant for dressing up herself and her courtiers as shepherds and shepherdesses and playing at being bucolic and provincial…
Mark, please order from the publisher if you can! The paperback edition of The Weird of Hali is being released through Amazon’s POD department; that’s the call the publisher made, and so you pretty much have to use Amazon for that. As for The Retro Future, my box of author copies is on its way, so it should be hitting the warehouses any minute now.
Jackal, fair enough; I’ll consider it.
James, that seems pretty plausible to me. I suspect pop-spirituality teachers hate ego because people who have a strong ego, and thus a clear sense of their own worth, don’t pander to the cravings of pop-spirituality teachers…
Migrantharvester, true enough. Of course Jung’s portrayal of the father archetype was colored by his relationship with his own father — that’s true of any of us! — and can’t necessarily be applied universally; still, no question, a society that insists on amputating any emotional state that makes it uncomfortable is going to have a heck of a time trying to relate constructively to a lot of archetypes.
JMG, you replied to Migrantharvester: ” a society that insists on amputating any emotional state that makes it uncomfortable is going to have a heck of a time trying to relate constructively to a lot of archetypes.”
Indeed. What the various excesses you’ve described seem to me to have in common is that people don’t know what to _do_ with their desires: they know that orgies in the street and poo-flinging rage aren’t a good idea, really, but they also don’t know what to do with those impulses besides throttling them down (plus a whole lot of projecting them onto others). I suspect the Catholic rite of confession may be quite helpful there (though I wouldn’t know from experience). Other cultures often come up with ritual ways of helping people process the “unacceptable” as well; the only such venue I can think of in modern America is sporting events, where ritualized hatred of the other team is permitted and even encouraged within certain limits. Might other such rituals be helpful in giving people alternatives to emotional amputation? And if so, how might we contribute to their creation and dissemination?
Thanks for not posting my over excited/over hasty comment. Do you think that there is a way out of the collective oscillating between binary extremes? Is it a mark of Faustian culture, or is repression more universal? Can a culture actually encourage wholeness or is it always going to repress something leaving each individual to search for wholeness and equilibrium? Thanks for writing this essay. It gives me much to think on.
If I may; I’d love to read your thoughts on reincarnation. In particular I’d be interested in the development of the personality through time, the importance of bioregion, sifting fantasy from more legitimate memory, and what tends to transfer versus what’s left behind.
I live in a middle class, mainly white neighborhood south of Portland, Oregon. Myself and my left-leaning neighbors have no problem saying “I hate Trump”. My left-leaning friends are the same – easily expressing their hatred of Trump. No one I know has a “Love Trumps Hate” bumper sticker.
We do seem to be a society that likes to make things evil…the Christian background I guess that pops up to gives us a “Satan” to fight. The right and the left both attach evil and hate to those things they don’t like or feel uncomfortable with. I do agree that suppressing hatred (or exaggerating it) is not appropriate. But from where I sit, the hatred of all things Trump is easily expressed.
“LOVE TRUMP’S HATE”
Very clever. It seems to me that we take some emotions (love, happiness) and assign them as good and other ones (sadness, hate) and assign them as bad. We then try to medicate them away or will them away, rather than just realizing it is a emotion, and will invariably pass.
As well, something my Mom once said occurred to me. “Don’t make all-statements” So, while it was perfectly reasonable to hate OBL, Al-Qaeda, The Taliban, ISIS jumping to I hatte Muslims is unreasonable to say the least.
Isn’t hatred one mechanism for survival of the species, just as love and altruism are? The trick, maybe, is to be aware of that.
I am reminded of Psalm 137:9 “Happy are we who dash their infants on the rocks.”
Ick. But then Babylon did not treat the Hebrews so well, did they?
Idea for the fifth week: I’d like to see you try your hand at satire.I don’t know what you should do, but I’d absolutely like to see it.
Two things about this post: if you ever really want to make some heads explode, ask people if it’s morally acceptable to hate hate speech. Based on my experience, the reactions can get quite dramatic, and amusing if you like this sort of thing.
I find this notion of amputating part of yourself to achieve wholeness rather funny. It would only work if human beings were already good at the core, and it’s just this one little thing that gets in the way….
Unrelated note: I sent you an email a little over two weeks ago and haven’t heard back, so I’d like to check if you got it. If not, I’ll just sigh, roll my eyes at another technological issue, and resend it.
I just wasn’t going to comment, because I feel my thinkings on your post are, to say the least, on the shallow side. But I was somehow distressed by the lack of reaction from fellow commentators: today’s post was looking like a desert – probably too many readers still holding to their smelling salts, while others were perhaps set aghast by the statement “… so many people in today’s world don internet aliases and go to online forums where they can blurt out absolutely anything.”
Anyhow, what I meant to write was that, as a non-English speaker (or writer, for that matter), my first reaction for the title of the post was that you were about to write as evil was replacing sex as the main drive for people’s actions, as if no one couldn’t conceive any way of co-operate with one another in a meaningful way anymore, and the only thing justifying interaction was now hate (I admit my bluntness, but on one hand that’s the way I tend to assess the situation in Portugal, were I live, and on the other, I’m perhaps over-impressed by some surveys showing what seems to be a trend in diminishing sexual intercourse, at least in some countries). Either way, as a regular reader of international news, it seems to me that the United States is a somehow unpleasant place to be right now (not much better here, but there are fewer guns).
Dare to suggest the “free-Wednesday” theme: an Archdruid’s take on possible ways to get rid of self-righteousness.
Thank you so much.
There is a connection between love/hate, sex/gender, and social/ecological issues. This article contributes to elucidating the connection.
From a Christian/Catholic perspective, I recommend the recent encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, as a point of reference. This paragraph is about the need for discerning the good/bad consequences of “technological progress”:
“All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur. ” Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 2015, #114
I look forward to further discussion of your book, “Retro Future.”
JMG, another fine post. Somewhat timely too, as the local police chief posted a statement on Nextdoor yesterday condemning Trump’s comments about being rough on prisoners last week. Apparently he doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, and I’m hardly reassured that his concern for the health and well-being of MS-13 thugs is in the overall best interest of the community.
Not only has hate replaced sex as the moral driver of many, but I’d suggest a side-effect has increased the numbers of those who’d I describe as the “blissfully ignorant” – who can never express or tolerate a negative feeling or opinion, and in short, are very boring people.
5th Wednesday – my vote goes for a “deep dive” into the concept of “Then How Shall We Live?”, providing a detailed set of procedures or suggestions, by topic, on various changes we can make to become more eco-friendly, and to face the predicament of our future. Your essays have touched on so many of these topics, but there’s no one-stop shop for pointing “newbies” to, helping them come up to speed on various things they can do to help. I can sum it up with “collapse now, avoid the rush, get out of debt, don’t worry about maintaining wealth, pick up some useful skills”, etc., but there’s much, much more to it than that.
Hi, again, John.
No, I’m not suggesting balance is good and imbalance is bad. For me, balance (in many aspects of my life) is a goal, not a destination. Like utopia is a goal, not a destination.
Let’s all move beyond binaries (either/or) and towards wholeness (both/and) thinking.
From the Irish midlands,
Hello, first time poster here, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed ADR and I’m looking forward to many great discussions here on Ecosophia. Today’s post got me thinking about some recent incidents that friends of mine were involved in. One was the account of a friend who got into a spat with a young lady at our neighborhood bar a few days ago. Long story short: she, a young black woman, accused him, an older white guy, of cutting in line for the bathroom. Hot words ensued but the thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that she repeatedly referred to him as a “racist.” He is many things but I’ve never see a shred of racist sentiment in him. Another friend was being hit on my a young lady and when she rebuffed her advances, the young lady began to rant about how she believed in “equality”, the implication being that my friend did not and was therefore guilty of the crime of hate.
The truth was that my friend, a lesbian herself, simply was not interested in the woman coming on to her.
Now, I am no apologist for racism or bigotry of any kind. I also know that people say things in the heat of the moment that may not reflect their more rational, calmer minds. But after reading today’s post I had to reflect on the language used by these two individuals. In both instances, the first reaction of each was to accuse their targets of being, as the kids like to say, a “hater.” (That term is an interesting point in and of itself; it implies that the world is divided into two neat groups: those that hate and those that do not. Riiiight.) I got the sense that neither of these two young ladies really understood the terms they were using, they were simply using them as mudballs to sling at someone they disagreed with. Anything that was at odds with what they thought or wanted could be labeled hatred.
Where do such notions spring from? Of course race relations play a role, were I a young black woman in the U.S. I would almost certainly be suspicious of older white males and probably inclined to cast them in the light of racism. Queers have plenty of reasons to suspect bigotry in others. However, after reading JMG’s post I have a new angle to consider: that there is a cultural meme out there that allows those that we disagree with or find morally suspect to be branded a “hater”, whether or not their words or actions are even vaguely hateful. It is bundled up with a sense of entitlement, the entitlement to moralize. I also think it is prevalent among the young, say mid 30’s and below. (I have several queer friends, most like me in their 40’s, and they tell me the sense of entitlement amongst young queer folk is off the charts. One old lesbian buddy pointed out that she and her cohort had fought and suffered and marched for a better world but the young lesbians she encounters today believe that somehow they pioneered the struggle because they run around drunk and topless at the Pride parade.)
So where does the meme come from? I believe, and now I’m really going out on a limb, that it is related to identity politics. Speaking very broadly, identity politics, rather than challenging and breaking down barriers between ethnic groups and sexual orientations, solidifies them. Minority groups delineate themselves from the majority, and are delineated by the majority, in ways that breed suspicion and, gulp!, hatred above and beyond that which already exists. The fact that all of these groups have so much more in common than not is lost. I’m not attempting to gloss over the history of racism or homophobia, but if political equality is the goal how can dividing up people into distinct groups and fogging up the reality that there is more interplay and “cross-culturalism” than multiculturalism at work be any kind of an answer?
you said: ” I’ve noticed that pretty reliably, the apparent self-hate comes out of people who are well up on the ladder of privilege, and you can bet your bottom dollar that their apparent self-hate isn’t going to motivate them to relinquish even the smallest advantage they get from their class status.”
And again you express something that has been troubling me for a while. Of course you express it much better than I could. I hate you right now! (Sorry, just joking)
My latest experience was yet another conversation where well to do west coast liberals pontificate about Trump and dismiss any reference to class privileges (like the gov support for their electric cars and solar panels) or war crimes (on which Hillary, Obama et alia are complicit). Apparently I should stop reading blogs and get on with the proper diet of liberal news.
But the important point you touch here is that I was getting involved when they talk about tax reform or corruption or helping the poor. I realize now it is all just grandstanding. They like to talk about it but of course whatever they do is in their best interest. Now if I can only keep my mouth shut…
My proposal for the fifth week discussion is a “back to the roots” post on practical things we can do. How to resist insanity, not only from the media but from people around us? Given the little time left, how to be in the world, but not of the world?
I love, perhaps more than anything else, the common sense of JMG’s take on the world. Given the scarcity of this thing called common sense (which, like pornography, is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it), reading JMG is always a breath of fresh air. As I read through his commentary on Victorian repression, etc., it struck me that many in our culture have an image of Jesus that would put him outside the love/hate balance that JMG believes, for cogent reasons, to be a part of being wholly (as opposed to holy) human. So let this unorthodox clergyman, immersed for many years in the historical Jesus quest, wade in with a somewhat different view about the founder of the Jewish spiritual movement that ossified into the Christian church.
In the same manner that Jesus talks about nursing anger as akin to murder, he talks about lusting after another person as akin to adultery. Yet surely he knew that it is in our nature both to nurse anger and to lust after those sexually appealing, so what was he trying to get at? I suspect he was attempting to break down all forms of denial and self-righteousness that permit us to judge others by higher standards than we ourselves are able to live by. He was, in essence, observing that hateful and murderous thoughts, lustful and exploitative inclinations, are inherent in all of us. It is this recognition of our shared human nature that helps to blunt judgmentalism and hypocrisy–two sins, not of the flesh but of the will, which Jesus uniformly condemns.
In similar manner, Jesus takes a common sense position with respect to evil in general. He does not foolishly try to explain it as divine retribution for sinful behavior, but rather acknowledges that terrible things happen to us, that the tower that fell on certain citizens of Jerusalem did not mean they were more immoral than other residents, nor were those from Galilee that Pilate killed while they made sacrifices more immoral than others from that region. Evil (the Evil One, to be more precise about Jesus’ language) simply is part of the structure of human existence. Indeed, even the Kingdom of God is subject to violence and capable of being seized (however temporarily) by force.
By making this post, I am not interested in getting into debates about the historical Jesus–whether he can be reconstructed in any meaningful or consistent respect, or whether he even existed at all–but rather want only to indicate that within the checkered Christian tradition, which has been responsible for preaching universal love while supporting cruelty and oppression through the centuries (and the doctrine and dogma of which lies directly behind much of the lethal imbalance that JMG describes), there have been alternative voices, which pop up here and there, in touch with the wholeness of being human–as being part, and only a part, of a creation that is also whole and “good” and thus to be accepted and, yes, embraced in love and gratitude.
Perhaps in posts to come, I’ll flesh this out in more detail and try to persuade those who have, for good reason, come to despise Christianity, that its “founder” looked at much of the world in rather similar fashion to JMG, especially when it comes to that necessary, precious, and increasingly rare thing called common sense. As for expressing anger, let me just close with what we all know–that Jesus usually restrained himself, except when it came to the rich and powerful with their feet on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. In that situation, he verbally held back not a whit, nor did he hesitate to use a whip in overturning the tables of the money-changers and pigeon-sellers, whom he believed were turning the temple into a den of thieves.
Towards the end of your essay, I was strongly reminded of the Vinegar Tasters painting from China. I’ve always modeled myself on Laozi as best I could and I feel the great range of human emotion is a tremendous source of strength and joy. All of them.
Re: the August 30 post…
In ‘Retrotopia’ I detected a fondness for 30s fashions… In this post, I could read it as a suggestion that we allow ourselves to be flawed people seeking to do our best in an ambiguous world…
Would you care to do a one-off film discussion? Of ‘Casablanca’ and/or ‘The Maltese Falcon’, and what we can learn from the characters as archetypes for a collapsing world?
I think it is interesting that certain forms of hatred are relabeled as “phobias.” Hence we have transphobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. Is this an attempt to win over the haters by _refraining_ from putting the dread label of hater on them? Then tell the hater: You don’t really hate transgender/homosexual/Muslim people; you are afraid of them. You are afraid because you don’t understand them. Let me show you that transwomen are not going to rape your sister in the Target restroom; that homosexuals are not going to marry your brother unless he wants to marry them; and that the lady in the hijab is buying shoes, not planning to bomb the shopping mall. Now you understand these people are are not a threat and you can let go of your fear/hate and we’ll all sit down and sing Kumbaya.
Since this sort of language seems to come from the liberal end of the discussion it does make me feel that it can be a way of belittling and ignoring the actual concerns that are being exploited by the other side. Can anyone think of a conservative equivalent?
In Victorian days, even in the context of legal marriage, it was often “just lie there and think of England”.
Re the Wednesday topic – UFOs are always fun, maybe in terms of archetypes or metaphysical manifestations.
I have wondered for the past year whatever happened to the anti-war left, which used to be associated with the Democratic Party. After reading this post, I wonder if war isn’t the perfect way to legitimize hate, while still seeming virtuous (“we’re killing those awful terrorists!”) thus the left, who disavows hate so publicly, finds a release valve in supporting ongoing foreign wars.
Reading this post, you could be talking about Buddhist thought. As you know, one of the underlying assumptions in classical Buddhist thought (and one that permeates basically all traditions of Buddhism) is that one can purify the mind of all afflictions and achieve a sort of moral perfection, which is additionally free from all suffering. I used to think this was possible, and a goal worth pursuing, but after around two years in robes with a shaved head in India, I realized that even the most learned practitioners display all the same human feelings, failings and desires. Some have clearly benefited from their practice, and are much more compassionate as a result, but jealousy, ambition and greed are still obviously present. Nowadays I feel that accepting the human condition in all its facets is a lot more realistic and healthier.
Everyday I bear witness to your observation since, as a result of a few romantic accidents, I am forced to keep company with the obscenely well heeled– normally of the liberal variety. In fact, at a cocktail party on the eve of the election, I recall opining that it looked like Trump would win the day, and that I, as a matter of fact, resented individuals trying to bully me into voting for Hillary Clinton when she represented virtually none of my interests. Furthermore, since the Dems had, perhaps criminally, conspired against Bernie Sanders I was casting my lot behind Dr. Stein since she was the only candidate paying *some* attention to environmental issues in addition to calling financial piracy what it is. Judging by the contempt and anger leveled at me, it was as if I had defecated on the centerpiece and performed a vaudeville sock puppet act with the detritus.
One counterfactual to your analysis of contemporary sex rhetoric, though this essay seems to defeat it, is a theory Justine Tunney’s mentioned in an interview with Gavin McInnes, of the Ultra-Calvinist. It’s an appeal to authority, since she is herself trans-gendered, and offers no evidence beyond her observations as such a person, but she proposes that there is a cabal of fundamentalists hell bent on stamping out fornication. The way they they do so is by claiming to be “sex positive” but, meanwhile, getting the police involved in virtually any and all sexual activity that is ambiguous morally. Which, barring constant audio video surveillance of all parties involved (which is the dark implication Tunney hints at) as the pseudo-Left assumes for itself the arbitration of all socio-sexual expressions, she thinks people will stop fornicating, or having sex period, lest they offend the powers that be.
David, excellent. Yes, and it always implies a standard based on a value judgment, and all value judgments without exception are subjective. So “perfect” means “exactly fitting some individual’s notion of what’s good” — which, given the very sharp limits on human understanding, is not exactly guaranteed to be a good idea…
Oilman, yep. One of these days I may take on the mindless condemnation of judgment — which is always, as you’ve noted, cast as a negative value judgment, and therefore self-refuting. I wonder what your daughter would do if you told her that it’s highly judgmental of her to condemn you for being judgmental — as indeed it is! What’s going on, of course, is that judgments made by individuals are being condemned in the name of judgments made by popular culture…
Yucca, oh, I know — some people are really going to hate this. 😉
Ann, good! That’s a huge question, of course, and I’ll have to mull over potential answers.
Violet, societies vary in their psychological problems. The Christian and post-Christian west has a massive problem with the quest for perfection by amputation; other societies have different hangups and obsessions. One good thing about this is that societies do sometimes outgrow their problems, though it’s a slow process and they usually go on to find another problem to replace it! As for reincarnation, I’ll certainly consider it.
Mary, excellent. So have you and your neighbors taken the logical next step, accepted the fact that as haters you’re not ethically superior to the people they hate, and gotten down off your moral high horses? I ask this as someone who lived in Oregon for a good many years and was far too familiar with the suburban Portland holier-than-thou attitude…
William, exactly — once you make a set of feelings taboo, they’re going to be applied indiscriminately to whole categories of people rather than directed toward the individuals who have earned it, and acted out in various brutal ways. Accept that you have those feelings, make them an ordinary part of life, and you can manage them much more sanely.
Will, it’s definitely amusing! No, I didn’t get your email — please give it another try, and if you don’t hear back within a week, put in a “not for posting” comment here and I’ll see if I can figure out what’s going wrong.
Armenio, that would have been an interesting subject, too! Here, at least, while the birth rate is going down, people do still seem to be having the usual amount of sex. As far as getting rid of self-righteousness — hmm. It would be a good topic, if I can figure out something to suggest. 😉
Luis, fascinating. Do you think I should have my publisher send the Pope a complimentary copy of The Retro Future?
In addition to hate, or perhaps parallel with it, have you noticed also how anger (which I suppose could be a kind of hate-lite) has become the left’s new default justification for dismissal of other people’s concerns, kind of like they way that women a hundred years ago who showed signs of buckling under the enormous psychological strain of keeping up with the pretenses of that era were dismissed as hysterical (and thus not worthy of consideration). Whenever someone expresses anger regarding some dysfunctional set of affairs, the logic goes, they are not worthy of consideration because they are angry and thus the dysfunctional set of affairs must not be addressed. This is particularly true if the dysfunctional set of affairs benefit left wing liberals, and if said someone expressing anger is a) white b) male c) does something productive for a living d) is actually justified in being angry, or e) any combination of the above.
Now that James has brought up the ego and the antics of contemporary pop spirituality teachers (good call, James 😉 ), I do actually have a suggestion for August’s last post: I should very much like the Archdruid’s elaboration on ego, and its role within the totality of the self, and how the western magical traditions have related to it. There seem to be an impressive amount of enlightened masters running about right now wielding an assortment of ways to amputate people’s egos, and this seem to produce legions of neurotics, and very few mystics…
If certain trends I have observed hold, a sound discussion of that particular topic could bring down some serious flak, but then again I’ve always known you to be calm under fire… 😉
Spot on with this column.
The hypocrisy of the “hate has no home here” posters that adorn a lot of shop windows in my town, which of course contain the unspoken — –except that we hate anyone who doesn’t agree with us –. Another pet peeve along this line is the absurdity of zero tolerance for whatever….which has had, as far as I can tell, the sole actual effect of further ensconcing the power, violence, and bullying of those who loudly proclaim those slogans and then have sole authority to determine the behavior which qualifies for social ostracism (or expulsion from school) which by definition cannot include their own.
Drhooves, I know the type. The thing I notice about the “blissfully ignorant” is that they’re not actually that blissful. The examples of the species I’ve observed firsthand are brittle, unhappy, defensive people who spend their time raising a wall of bland positive feelings against their own misery. It doesn’t work, and yes, it makes them dull to be around. I’ll put your suggestion into the hopper!
Brian, er, I put the winky face 😉 after my comment to let you know I was making a joke…
Jr, there’s also another, somewhat simpler explanation for the sort of behavior you’ve described: people who belong to the categories of the officially oppressed have found that they can score points and get their way by using labels such as “racism” to provide leverage. It’s a common superstition these days that being oppressed somehow makes you more virtuous than anybody else, but in fact people are people; no matter what their skin color or other category-marker might be, a fair number of them will take advantage of whatever tools come to hand to one-up their fellow humans.
The “sense of entitlement to moralize” is part and parcel of that. Moral judgments of that kind are always a way of putting somebody down and boosting yourself at their expense, and when people are encouraged to do that, you can count on plenty of vicious putdowns and backstabbing, all dolled up in ethical drag.
Omnia, bingo. Keeping your mouth shut is one strategy; another is to learn ways to deflect the conversation toward things that make them uncomfortable, such as actually doing something about the causes they claim to support. As for your fifth week proposal, duly noted!
Newtonfinn, interesting. I’m sure you realize, of course, that the less sympathetic could suggest that you’re simply manufacturing a Jesus to your own specifications — a growth industry for the last two thousand years, to be sure.
Ed, thank you! That’s not a half bad model to keep in mind.
Bogatyr, I don’t do a lot of visual media; it’s been decades since I last saw Casablanca and I’ve never watched The Maltese Falcon. That’s probably not going to be an option, as a result. Still, thanks for the suggestion!
Rita, good! I don’t think the right does the same thing, though. One of the common patterns in American politics is that the left thinks its opponents are ignorant or sick, and need to be taught or cured, while the right thinks its opponents are evil and need to be punished.
Will, hmm. If I were to discuss UFOs, it would be along the lines of my book The UFO Phenomenon, which argues — on grounds that have stood up very well in the light of recent revelations — that the UFO phenomenon was largely invented by Air Force intelligence to distract attention from aerial tests of classified technology, from the late 1940s through stealth technology and beyond. (Funny how UFOs shaped like black triangles suddenly popped up all over the place around the time that those first stealth testbeds were making their initial test flights…) I’ll consider it, though.
Lydia, true enough. There’s also the simple fact that the standard of living of privileged middle class Americans depends on the US role as global hegemon, and that latter can only be propped up at the price of endless wars. Thus nobody’s going to make more than a pro forma protest at our absurd military overstretch, since the alternative is losing all the unearned wealth that supports the lifestyles of our well-to-do classes…
Jeffrey, no argument there. The quest for perfection by amputation was the driving force behind the entire movement of prophetic religions that swept the Old World in the last millenium before the common era, and very few products of that movement escaped it and its consequences.
Herbert, fascinating. I hadn’t encountered that theory; I suspect it works better as a metaphor than as a literal description of what’s happening, but certainly the Puritan streak in American culture has gotten deeply entrenched in contemporary sexual mores — it’s no longer “all sex is bad,” it’s “that’s a bad act, and so is that, and so is that…”
Sven, yep. That’s one of the reasons that I’ve found it so useful to use the calm rhetoric of sweet reason to say the wildly unacceptable things I say in my blogs — it’s a little harder for the defenders of the conventional wisdom to brush it aside, especially when they’re the ones who get furiously angry and start spraying saliva all over the landscape. 😉 I’ll certainly consider your proposed theme for the post of the 30th!
Jerry, two direct hits. I’ve more than once wished I had a little sticker saying something like “hate may not have a home here, but toxic self-righteousness does…”
JMG, thanks for this, this is going to be another fun one to send to people.
Regarding sex, though, it seems like progressive ideology has rather painted itself into a corner. In the enlightened corners of Western Europe and North America, People Who Are Respectable and Woke believe the following things:
1) Sexuality is a central part of your identity, and you should flaunt it and be congratulated for it, unless it involves heterosexual monogamy, in which case it’s probably because you’re either a hater, have small genitals or an unpleasant body (ideally all three).
2) Although any form of sexuality that doesn’t violate the age of consent laws is permissible, sexual activity must be accompanied by a bureaucratic process of constant affirmations or it is a crime indistinguishable from overpowering someone and forcing yourself on them. Some even believe that the later, purely subjective feelings of one partner can change the nature of the sex act.
3) There is to be no restriction on the rights of young people to get blackout drunk in unsupervised mixed sex gatherings, but point two still applies.
4) Any portrayal of conventional sexuality (mostly-monogamous heterosexual couples) is an attack on those people who do not fit into that mold.
I think that books – and apparently, HBO series – like the Handmaid’s Tale, about a patriarchal dystopia that would make a Saudi prince blush, come from elements of our culture insisting that if we don’t progress towards perfect nihlism about sexuality where the only thing that matters is how we feel, we will find ourselves in a horrifying theocracy. It’s kind of like the “progress into the stars or extinction” story, but with actual genitals rather than rockets that kind of look like them.
Liz, the current obsession with hatred also serves to distract people from the love of money, you know.
Regarding the website troubles, although hitting “tab” has allowed me to post this comment using Chrome, usually I’ve had to use Microsoft Edge to post on here since the move from Blogspot. Perhaps, adding an addendum to your usual “Courteous, concise comments….” blurb might be worthwhile.
I’ll put a vote in for ‘reincarnation’ as the bonus topic this August.
Regarding your book recommendations, I’m reading Answer to Job right now, and it’s more than a little germane to tonight’s topic.
My solution is to hate everyone everywhere including me.
I call this Equal Opportunity hate.
Kinda gets it over with.
btw I don’t see love and hate as opposites. Hate for me is a degree and type of affinity, a desire to hold the subject still and damage it.
Some people do this for fun.
Glad to hear you’ll consider it. I’ve noticed with wry amusement that spiritual teachers who advocate the amputation of not only the ego, but the whole thinking mind seem to be very popular among the affluent left these days. Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?
By the way, I sent you an e-mail about two months ago with the latest updates on our little project, and I did not hear back from you. At first I just assumed you were really busy, but since you’ve mentioned e-mails not getting through to your new address, I suppose I’d better check if you actually did receive it?
You asked ‘What would you like to see’? I can recall one of your most fabulous essays that I think was titled ‘the Metastasis of money’, or something along that lines from about 10 years ago. A follow up essay, that would be nice. Still no one has ever been able to explain to me what derivatives are, or why the overnight banking rate is so important? I’m sure there are a flurry new creatures of the murk that have been created by banks since you wrote that first essay; could you touch on some? Even as an entertainment piece. 🙂
Excellent post! I hope that the shadow will come to be seen less as an enemy to be defeated and more as a maze to be navigated as the age turns.
Regarding thematic requests – this essay has once again made me think of your previous essay, “The Unicorn, The Phoenix, The Dragon”. I would be very interested in another discussion of the cycles of history – perhaps your take on the Aquarian age? There’s so much new age pop-spirituality around that idea I’ve never really looked into it, but I’d be interested in the sober take you’d probably give it.
Alternatively, a discussion of some more of the nonhuman entities we share our world with would be interesting, whether esoteric or prosaic. I’ve been thinking about how a philosophy of wholeness might be applied to companies, assuming the practice of forming them survives the transition. Currently those are deeply unbalanced in being so concerned with monetary profit (and short term monetary profit at that!) but there are some seeking to buck the trend…
“Our politics are a complete mess just now, and that’s largely because all sides insist that they’re pure sweetness and light, and all the negativity is the other side’s”
It may even have been you that introduced me to her , but a lady called Barbara Ehrenreich talks about our collective pathology of positiveness in her great book ” Brightsided ”
In magical terms, are we suffering from an overplus of the collective Jupiter, or Jove , not to put too fine a point on it, we have daddy issues , after centuries of patriarchy . So now our daddies are becoming dark , and mommy Gaia is a beaten up crack girl lying in the gutter while daddy continues to have his way with her .
Jove or Jupiter , the great beneficient is so called because its giant gravity draws all the space junk in our region towards it , preventing the earth being smashed into pieces .
Perhaps we need a good Mars ( God of War & Justice) working to restore our negativity and to offset Jovial Daddy a bit ?
One of your other commenters mentioned catholic confession , as a useful way of expressing and containing these emotions , without being a Catholic advocate , would it be fair to say that their sacrament of confession is an early form of psychotherapy ?
The nice thing about living in a world where all expressions of hate aren’t sanitized, erased, hidden, is that you get to know what people really think!
In the recent kerfuffle over a northern CA imam’s sermon (the 2nd in two weeks in which he spoke to the same theme and said similar things), the official apology was for “speech like this [that] can encourage others to do hateful and violent acts.” Everyone was all riled up about his words, which, by his admission, were fueled by emotion. Interesting that nobody called him on his actual opinion or brought the deeper things to light. The responsibility was shouldered aside to “others…do hateful and violent acts.”
I get the sense that all the talk about hate speech, the sensitivity trainings, etc., only serve to teach everyone how to keep a lid on dark things that roil about in confinement. The “community” at large seemed placated by his apology. I’m not sure if that’s because nobody wants to admit what a festering mess of contradictions there is in the spaces between us all.
From what I can tell, there’s just hate oozing out in all directions while people frantically mop it up and hope nobody notices.
Thank you very much for this post. Funny you mention plaster saints. Saints’ biographies, as taught back in the day in my childhood catechism classes, were sappy and boring boilerplate narratives – “St. SoandSo was born to devout Christian parents, felt the calling of God at age 6, joined a convent at age 15, died in the grace of God.” “Well,” I thought to myself, “my parents aren’t that devout and I didn’t feel any divine calling up to now that I’m (8/9/10), this isn’t for me.”
One of the most helpful realizations that I’ve had, which eventually led me to reverting to the Roman Catholicism of my youth, is that the saints were also human beings. Finding the more complete narratives, which told about their ordinary human struggles, made them out to be actual relatable humans. Now the thought goes, “I suck. Well, so did the saints, but they managed to struggle and become fully human. Maybe I can become a saint!”
Why was this hidden during my youth? Were the clergy and the catechists embarrassed that the saints weren’t “respectable” and decided to sanitize them? Certainly they weren’t; Christ himself wasn’t particularly respectable in his own era, why should this be a surprise?
Recently I noticed that religious biographies are much more willing to show the less pleasant side of the stories (e.g. The Passion of the Christ). I do hope that this is changing and that the saints’ lives are narrated to my children as they truly happened, not as how some censor of respectability decides they should have happened. I don’t see how anyone would desire sanctity based on the dull, sanitized narratives.
As a Catholic I can say that confession definitely helps in developing your virtues and managing your desires. I do have a couple of caveats: 1) make sure you do it regularly, and 2) find a good confessor whom you trust. That way, you can check your progress regularly and work on things on a manageable, incremental manner.
The problem nowadays is that so few people go to confession, and so few priests do it regularly, the tendency is that you or your confessor will find your sins so heavy that you are tempted to outright cut off that part of your character that you find problematic. This is the exact problem that JMG is describing. Thus, going regularly to a trusted priest is very important! Confession needs to be finessed and fine-tuned to the individual person (pastoral approach, as the Church would officially describe it) to be really effective.
This reminds me of the ancient concept of learning of your true nature by balancing between opposites. I found that idea to be difficult at first – who would not want to be against hate and evil? Eventually I came to understand that these are all human characteristics, not universal absolutes. If we can see them as such, we can avoid becoming lost in them and having them control us. We can continue on the path of self discovery rather than getting swept away.
Somehow it seems that those who go all-in in one direction, rather than striking a balance, end up becoming the opposite instead.
The Pope should definitely get a complimentary copy of The Retro Future. He did spend much of his time ministering to poor folks in a third world country, so I’m sure it’d be appreciated. Then there’s also potential for some rather interesting religious dialogue, the chances are small but it would be rather interesting. 😉
an intriguing juxtaposition! On the “amputation” imagery: I was wondering whether you had in mind the (well-worn in the Catholic Church liturgy) lines from the Gospel of Matthew (5:29)?
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body be cast into hell.”
Two interesting news items here: First, the Democratic National Committee’s latest gimme letter now includes an “Official Member of The Resistance” card.
Second, Northern NM Congressman Ben Ray Lujan has caused a stir by calling for a Big Tent approach, even to accepting anti-abortion Democrats. The women’s groups are arguing fiercely against it.
Yes , Carlos M , confessing to a priest who is a pedophile or has lots of other psychic goo in the didgeridoo is next to useless , as the transference in the Jungian parlance cannot take place , and may even result in them transferring more of their goo to you than vice versa .
Thats why Jungians go through hundreds of hours of training analysis , and why behaviourism is quite ineffective in many cases .
Of course Jung himself fell into this trap, sleeping with his analysands and whatnot but they were at the cutting edge , basicalky they found the alien spacecraft and had to fly it without a manual for a while , so there was a lot of trial and error .
Oh there i go enabling daddy again.
I loved this week’s post, so I will have to forward it to some people who can hate it ;-). I’ve probably said this before, but you, and also Dmitry Orlov, are good at providing me completely new insights. Then I think and think, and there is too much I want to say, so I’ll split it up a bit.
It occurs to me that the word “hate,” like the words “love” and “science,” encompasses a whole range of different meanings, leading to arguments where people are simply hollering about completely different things. Once when I was a girl, I came home crying, “I hate Linda!” who had just beaten the stuffin’ out of me out of the clear blue (family issues). My mother mistook my urge to avoid a painful ordeal for whatever it was Hitler had been thinking. She turned to the liberal wisdom that had been handed down to her and counseled me that I was projecting (this was 1965 I think), and that it indicated I was guilty of the same sort of thing as Linda. (Not her name, BTW, and she turned into a delightful person.)
When people condemn “hate,” they discourage a range of important self-preservation mechanisms, such as disgust (avoid illness), caution (over a possible walloping), judgement (urge for justice), anger (can stop a bully when appropriate–and I deliberately used it recently with that intention), and so on.
Well, maybe UFO’s not so good as Wednesday topic. But I will say this: given the highly exotic nature of the UFO that I and several others witnessed, if that was a military op, then the military employs some high-level mages.
How about – since you’ve mentioned it as being at the being at the root of the Western magic and metaphysical traditions – a brief tour of the Kabbalah, an overview?
Or: an esoteric interpretation, an overview of the Book Of Revelations? Among other things, I’ve considered the BOV to be something of a Kundalini schematic – 7 seals, 7 major chakras, etc.
JMG, when I raise class vs. identity politics (race, religion, gender, etc) the liberal reply I’ll get most of the time is “Yes, race/etc are constructs, but class is a construct too (so shut up)”. Looking past the tiny fact that class can be quantified to a good degree – how many $ you earn – what’s striking is that identitarians are happy with constructs as long as they benefit their position…but if you use a construct (class) that doesn’t benefit them, you are told to shut up, that “class is JUST a construct”. Constructs good (ours); constructs bad (yours). It’s classic Question begging, Petitio Principii (great post on that on your Galabes site, BTW, a useful resource.) I see PP everywhere now.
A well known piece by the late Mark Fisher https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Fisher_(theorist)
might be of interest – ‘Exiting the Vampire Castle’:
I can’t help wondering if the real issue isn’t hate but unexpressed rage. Any parent can perhaps recall confronting their small child and forbidding a certain action (such as having a cookie). The child tries bargaining and wheedling but finally after not making any progress flies into a temper tantrum screaming “I hate you! I hate you!”. What’s really driving his outburst is not hate but anger.
Hate is of course a persistent boil that has long plagued our society and stubbornly resists all our efforts to lance it. But deep rage is what’s making it more inflamed than ever before. There is an ongoing drama going on in the small town I live in. Last year a woman entered a local antique shop and spotted a vintage Federal Milling Company ‘Lucky’ flour bag from the early 1900’s that had as its symbol a swastika. This long predated the Nazi era but that didn’t stop the visitor from accosting the owner and accusing her of being a ‘racist’ for displaying the bag. The owner’s attempts to explain its history were futile. Things got heated enough so she ejected the woman who promptly went home and posted a screed on her Facebook account.
This triggered a slew of threats and angry harassment towards the shop owner. Her business slumped so badly she was forced to close. Now a civil lawsuit over the affair is wending its dreary way through the court system. I don’t imagine for one moment the woman actually hated the shopkeeper (I don’t know if they even knew each other) but there’s little doubt that her rage was genuine. But her rage as we have seen with many Clinton supporters (she apparently was one) is fueled by frustration, anger and confusion over the loss of the election (something you’ve written about at some length in your previous blog). The shop owner was just a convenient target to aim it at.
Everything I see in the news whether it involves the expression of hate or not all seems to have at its root this terrible seething fury. With no proper outlet or understanding of what this anger is being caused by or how to most productively express it, it’s probably only a matter of time before the national equivalent of the child’s temper tantrum breaks out with ‘I hate you’ as its slogan.
@ David btl…
Your post brought a single blinding image into my brain – “The Borg”…
JMG re your reply to Lydia
And ‘voila’, you uncover another blanket hypocrisy. I don’t want to support war. We have no need of more defense than any other nation, especially with the two largest ocean basins as buffers. The only way to avoid supporting war is to disallow funding for it. With congress vigorously making war permanent, if you wish to disallow support, the only logical way is to collapse now. This will hasten things, but we need the change. The depth of corruption here in this country is truly remarkable; this latest sanctions bill and the vote count is indicative of the imminent death of this round of the democracy experiment.
So you say we need new stories, new narratives. I have always liked your fiction. Lay a story on me, man…
Continuing that last thought (the “Post Comment” button disappears after I type about 15 lines), I see your point that even if we split up “hate” into its “okay” and “not okay” components, we still risk suppressing a real human emotion, with the hysteria and long-term rebound that entails. OTOH, sex is wonderful, but not exhibitionism, for example.
Regarding Japan as another culture, they also go through spells of rejecting human emotions. A few years ago I was teaching students English phonetics with a range of examples including “hat” versus “hate,” and a local school teacher who was observing me criticized for teaching such a bad word. I told him it was a “colorful” word, but he seems to have rejected me since then. Too bad, because I liked him. Like me, he is an opinionated jerk.
They also rejected the emotion of “amae” (loosely, indulgence). A US friend adopted it as his on-line name, so we were discussing its range of meanings. I approached our Fuji Cult miko (now 92) for her insights. She surprised me by assuming I felt critical of Japan over this, but explained, “It is one of a range of emotions the gods have given us to see the world with, and despite its negativity, we should be grateful to them for this.”
Meanwhile, my Japanese husband was very critical when he saw “Judge Not, Lest Thou Be Judged,” displayed prominently at a US church, saying it just invites people who do not want to be judged. (The church, though, only had a few covert rogues, so it had obviously found its own quiet ways of judging and executing.)
Recently I stumbled across this Huxley passage from the book ‘The Hidden Huxley’, by David Bradshaw. I thought of the discussions here about class, and the hatred toward working class from the middle class (something I experienced virulently during the first half of my life in Ireland – one reason why moving to the USA in 93 was a good idea was that I could ‘pass’, being white, god help us); the Huxley passage dovetails nicely with JMG’s observations of middle class people in the USA in recent years, and their class hatred for those lower than them. Depressing this, as it shows the continuity of this dynamic, seen here by Huxley in 1934.
The Prospects of Fascism in England
by Aldous Huxley (March 1934)
At the time of the coal strike of 1921 I was living in a boarding-house in North London. My fellow-boarders were salaried small-burgesses, white-collar workers, earning, I suppose, from four to six or seven pounds a week. Politics were discussed across the supper table, and discussed, while the strike was in progress, with a rancour that astonished me. They all hated the miners, passionately, as though they had received some personal injury at their hands. I have never forgotten those conversations; for they first revealed to me a fact which the history of these last thirteen years and my own personal experiences during that time have often corroborated – the fact that the current of class hatred runs more strongly downwards from small-bourgeoisie to proletariat than from proletariat upwards.
The reasons for this state of affairs are fairly clear. Economically, the small-bourgeoisie has been and is still being progressively proletariatised. It is becoming, more and more completely, a class of wage-slaves, no better paid, so far as its lower sections are concerned, then the manual workers on the plane below. And yet, in spite of this economic levelling down, the tradition of class superiority persists. Membership of the bourgeoisie is regarded as a most valuable privilege and the loss of this privilege by degradation to the ranks of the proletariat seems the worst of disasters…
…Fear begets hate, and looking down from the precarious verge of his precipice, he passionately loathes the creatures in the pit below. Hence those conversations across the supper table in my boarding-house, and hence, in country after country, the rise of Fascism, which is, among other things, the embodiment and effective social organisation of the downward current of small-bourgeois class-hatred.
Now of course doing this involves challenging some very deep-seated cultural imperatives. It’s one of the basic presuppositions of our culture that we’re supposed to become perfect, and the way to become perfect, we’re told, is to amputate whatever part of ourselves keeps us from being perfect. The last sixteen hundred years or so of moral philosophy in the Western world have been devoted to this theme: find the thing that’s causing us to be evil, find some way to chop it off, and then we’ll all behave like plaster saints. The mere fact that it never works hasn’t yet slowed down the endless profusion of attempts to try it again.
This is as good summation of why I was ultimately unable to make the New Age philosophy of A Course In Miracles work for me, as much insight as it gave me into the pitfalls and pratfalls of letting the ego be in the driver’s seat of life.
Just a quick note: Jupiter is not considered the greater benefic because it protects us from comets and asteroids (which is a disputed hypothesis, anyway: it may actually be directing more toward us). Nobody knew about any of that 3,000 years ago when this stuff got codified.
It’s actually the greater benefic because it’s bright and it’s slow. The benefics Venus and Jupiter are both quite bright, while the malefics Mars and Saturn are relatively dim. The slower planets – Jupiter and Saturn – were labeled the “greater” ones because they were judged (correctly) to be farther from Earth due to their longer orbits.
“Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him – a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood… It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy, The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for. As a boy wit an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and his object.”
Certainly a perilous emotion.
I think one of the reasons I didn’t get deeper into pop-spirituality than I did was that I’d already encountered Jung and Freud as a teenager and never entirely bought the “get rid of ego and all will be well” nonsense. In both their systems, ego is the part of us that allows conscious reflection and deliberation, so getting rid of it would mean becoming subservient.
I can definitely see how pop-spirituality helped to further weaken my already-weak sense of self-worth, though.
You know, Freud is supposed to have once given a nifty summary of what the goal of his line of therapy was: “Where id is, let ego be.” I.e. replace reflex with reflection. My understanding is that this is the goal of all depth psychological approaches: put the ego back in charge, instead of the id, superego, complexes, or what have you.
I think I’ll second Sven’s vote for a discussion of the ego.
Very well said. It is an important reminder that demonizing Trump is often just an excuse for doing nothing, or avoiding the complexities of the problems we are dealing with. I hear that kind of talk almost every day in the progressive left community I live in. Now excuse me while I drive my electric car to the airport to attend an important climate change gathering…
For your upcoming April 30 post, I for one would be very interested in hearing you work out how American Christianity might mutate into new forms as we get further into collapse.
Great post. It seems that all the so-called “negative emotions,” if properly cared for, listened to, and tended, make great raw material for the compost of life. Jung wrote about the importance of acknowledging and working with (neither suppressing or acting out) the shadow, the parts of ourselves that we often deny or wish weren’t there.
Speaking of Jung, my suggestion for the week 5 topic is for you to explore Jung’s views of historical cycles (aions?) and the transitions we’re undergoing.
This recursive logic is fantastic to run people either into stupor or to get them emotionally explaining why it can’t be right that they are expressing the exact qualities they denounce. There are a few topics that can be circled onto themselves like with hate:
– Isn’t it hateful to hate the haters?
– Isn’t it negative itself to attempt negating all of negativity?
– Isn’t it intolerant to have zero tolerance for religious (and any other kind of) intolerance?
– Isn’t it the most egoic ego-trip to become convinced that one has no ego?
And talking of ego — +1 for the post about it. Not necessarily on August the 30th. I would love so read your thoughts about it and the thoughts of your readers here in comments.
30 Aug Post – a primer on discursive meditation perhaps
Justin, yep. The Puritan current in the American left, which is very strong — Boston was the first home of the US counterculture — is acutely uncomfortable with any biological activity that isn’t subject to some set of overt moral rules. That’s why diet has been a fixation of American radicals for a couple of centuries — you can’t just eat, you’ve got to subject your appetite to the iron rule of some arbitrary system of Proper Eating — and why sexual freedom very quickly got replaced with an intricate and contradictory set of rules. Nothing is allowed to escape being crushed under the boot heel of abstract goodness…
Inohuri, that seems rather silly to me, and also rather dull — there are other emotions, you know. Still, whatever floats your boat.
Sven, yeah, those who want mindless followers have a good way to get them. I did get your email, then got swept up into the whole whirlwind around moving, and had some serious computer trouble — fixed now, but with the loss of some data. I’ll drop you an email from my new address and we can go from there.
Workdove, I’ll consider it!
Christopher, so noted. I’ll put those into the hopper.
Alby, hmm. Too much Jupiter, and also too much Neptune, as you’d expect after 2160 years with the vernal point in Pisces — but what we’re getting now isn’t Mars but Saturn, the Lord of Limits.
Temporaryreality, the left is also hoist by its own petard whenever someone who belongs to the officially oppressed engages in hate speech. Since all members of those categories of people are assumed to be morally good, when they behave otherwise — which, being human beings, they do from time to time, just like the rest of us — nobody on the leftward end of things can deal with it, and coming up with excuses and evasions becomes the order of the day.
Carlos, well, there you are. In the US, certainly — to judge by what I’ve been told by former Catholics, my wife among them — the Catholic church spent most of the 20th century doing its level best to drive away as many people as possible, with the plaster-saint biographies just one of the many tools. (My wife left the Catholic church for good at age 9, when a priest who was openly having an affair with a married woman in the congregation — and buying her goodies out of parish funds — read aloud, from the pulpit, a list of those families who hadn’t paid their tithes that year. Most of them were too poor to clothe and feed all the children the church required them to have.) If the church is ditching the plaster hagiographies, good — but it has some other, rather more serious problems to address as well…
Twilight, bingo. Love and hate, and all the other emotional reactions we have to persons and things, are exactly that — human reactions, subjective, personal, transitory. They’re not grand cosmic realities; they’re simply feelings we have. Approach them with this in mind and it’s tolerably easy to deal with them without doing anything too stupid or getting stuck in unproductive ruts.
Carlos, I’ll see what I can do. I don’t imagine I have any readers in the Papal offices in Rome, but on the off chance someone from that institution reads this and would like to facilitate getting a book to the Pope, let me know. 😉
Pg, I didn’t, but it’s a good expression of the mentality.
Patricia, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the Dems have a death wish. “Official Member of the Resistance” — um, do they realize how idiotic that sounds to anybody who hasn’t already drunk their distinctly pallid Koolaid?
Patricia, oh, no question, When it comes to emotional states, the English language is a blunt instrument.
Will, as I explain in my book, Air Force intelligence merely had to start and feed the media frenzy; the human capacity for certain kinds of odd experience, misunderstood (as it nearly always is these days), took over from there.I’ll consider your other suggestions, though!
Dermot, of course! Admitting that class matters would force them to address their own complicity in the various unsavory acts that maintain their privilege, and that in turn would get in the way of maintaining the pose of moral superiority. \
Jeanne, rage is another emotion that’s demonized and permitted expression only in certain very narrow socially sanctioned contexts. I spoke of hate because the word gets used so relentlessly, but all the same points could be made about anger.
Oilman, I ain’t arguing. The extent to which the supposedly peace-loving Democrats are baying for Russian blood these days shows just how desperate things have gotten for the declining American imperium.
William, so noted! In the meantime, you can always order a copy of The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth, if you don’t have one already… 😉
Regarding August 30th topic, in relation to the theme of this new blog and the analogy you provided that we could help to be a midwife to the coming spirituality of the next age, perhaps you could give us some insights into how we could also help in midwiving the next age, some books and/or themes to read about, and even discuss which process you feel we are in. Is this new age still in the conception process, are we in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd trimester, or even the birthing process?
I’d like to hear about the passage of time, or at least our subjective perception of time’s passage.
How it changes with age/experience. How it colors our world view or affects our understanding/ignorance of history.
Why is “Where did the time go?” such a common question? Why do people ask it, and why is it so often answered with a shrug?
Patricia, one of the benefits of interacting with other cultures is that you get to see a different set of automatic prejudices…
Dermot, thank you for this! And of course you can see exactly the same class hatred here in the US, directed by the middle classes toward the working class.
Mister N., a lot of people have that problem, which is why sales of New Age books and other products have been contracting steadily since 2007 or so.
Matthias, very much so. One of the things that I find when I read Lewis, especially the planetary trilogy, is that he tries to imagine a universe in which his Christian beliefs make sense, and succeeds (to me) mostly in demonstrating that in this one, they don’t.
James, I’ve always found that bit of Freud’s problematic, but then my take is that the ego, the id, the archetypes, and all the other substructures of the self each has a proper place and role in the whole business of being human, and it’s when one part has usurped another’s role that problems happen. To my mind, if ego takes over from id, it’s just as much of a mess as if id takes over from ego.
Samurai, that’s certainly a part of it as well! It’s so much easier just to be against Trump — you don’t have to offer any plans of your own, or ‘fess up to the fact that if you get into office you’re going to do the same things he’s doing now, just as Obama copied Bush II’s policies to the letter…
Pierre, exactly. What’s more, the so-called “negative” emotions all have positive roles in human life, so long as they’re kept within proper bounds.
Ganesh, excellent! You get tonight’s gold star for providing all my readers with a highly entertaining party game.
Samurai, Pierre, Ganesh, Darren, Prizm, and Yoyo, thank you; your suggestions have gone into the August 30th hopper.
BTW, your post this week makes me unable to resist introducing my fellow blog-readers to this song parody about how mentally unbalanced and out-to-lunch the contemporary left is becoming. It isn’t entirely “Safe For Work”, so I’ll leave it to your discretion as to whether or not to put through this post with its attendant link. 🙂
I’m well-aware of the Church’s problems and I consider the fact that I (or anybody) still sticks around to be a miracle. It started with a very personal religious experience, but certainly coming across the non-revisionist hagiographies were a huge boost. A few things I noticed with any saint in non-sanitized stories:
Their wife/husband and kids sucked (if they are married)
Their priest sucked
Their abbot and other superiors sucked (if they are a religious)
Their bishops (who may be the Bishop of Rome) sucked
They struggled to become great nonetheless
Obviously, what we find out here is that the Church sucks, forever and ever, Amen. At least until the Second Coming. No wonder then that the stories were suppressed.
I’m not sure how widespread these uncensored stores are outside of my little subculture. I’m certainly praying that it spreads out; if the Church is indeed ditching the plaster hagiographies it would amount to admission of the various issues, historical and present, which would be a small but significant step in dealing with them. It’s certainly a much better alternative than just trying to suppress and/or wish away the unsavory parts.
As an outsider (Aussie) to American culture it seems to me as if hate, which can be a very powerful unifier if everyone hates the same target, can also be a very powerful divider if the population is split neatly into hating different targets.
On a related note, how are cycles of hate repression and renewal are related to economic cycles. Am I correct in the impression that historically cities became more ethnically and culturally diverse during periods of prolonged good climate, bountiful crops and peace. When the conditions inevitably turned against them was when hate cropped up again in the form of expulsions and pogroms. I can see that as a future coming down the pipeline in our “multicultural” western cities.
I was interested to learn that the highest rate of jewish-christian intermarriage in Europe before the world wars was in Germany itself. Before the blow up Germany was the most progressive in bringing the different groups of people together. I wonder if a back-lash against recently won tolerance toward LGBT, disabled, women, other races etc could occur in a short time frame.
I think these kinds of social norms are born from the idea that “society” is an entity external to the individual. There’s this idea that the individual should fit into society, when in fact a society is formed by masses of individual humans. This leads to a loss of the idea that society is humanistic and should reflect human nature. And so in ages where people consider themselves particularly enlightened (or removed from the primitive, the savage) they start to fetishize one or another human characteristic. Which characteristic they fetishize will probably be a reflection of the morality or values that society attempts to aspire to. In the case of the Victorians there was a pervasive puritanical fervour and so lust was socially outlawed.
Interesting to remark that these social constructs usually occur in the upper strata of a civilization, while the people living on the land don’t succumb. Perhaps it’s the wants of he rich to disseminate themselves from the poor, as in some Asian countries men will grow a fingernail very long as a sign they don’t have to do physical work. It could be that working physically on the land restores the nature of humans and when not seen from so far away as parliament, that is a positive thing.
Perhaps today’s fetishism of hate, also aggression, even any kind of masculinity could be a result of a coddled youth, a ridiculous vision of the world without conflict or discomfort, perhaps it’s more a projection (as you pointed to) of the person’s own hatred and intolerance for intellectual conflict.
It doesn’t matter anyway, it’s too late now. It’s too easy to pull out the device you live with and call someone any number of names from a thousand miles away. And when literally millions of people start doing that at once… well… you’ve often joked about fusion failing…if only we could harness the infinite energy of all these furious thumb warriors!….
Thank you for answering a question I’ve been wrestling with for a while now: Why are people on the left so obsessed with Trump? I mean, I’m old enough to remember GW Bush being the figure of hate for the left, but I swear it was never this obsessive!
Another difficultly of course in repressing hate is reconciling it back to some kind of emotional equilibrium might take several generations at least. I mean, being someone with plenty of English/ northern European ancestry I can tell you the Victorian years of sexual repression still seem to weigh down (and of course add to that the entire western culture having a rather tangled relationship with sex for the last 2000 years or so).
Once again, I can only expresses my thorough gratitude that you (among other people) have provided me with more workable, enjoyable, robust philosophies/means by which to live my life 🙂
Oh, dear. I have made myself misunderstood again.
The Equal Opportunity hate gets it over with. It is not sustainable and works out and settles down into useful emotion. At least for me. I suppose someone could get stuck in this.
There also seems to be a profit motive in hate.
I have read that the large entertainment corporations won’t publish nice uplifting music and tell the contracted (Hip Hop?) artists to do something nasty instead and money will be made by all.
I will sometimes listen to the same style of music from outside the US that sounds fun and is uplifting and there is no need to understand the words to get that.
What kind of jolly old hate are we talking about here? I’m not sure we are all on the same page of James’s Varieties of Hating Experiences. (joke) Unconditional hate? Territorial/Tribal hate? Proximity Hate (comes in sub-flavors of Sibling, Parental, Spousal, Neighbors, Neighbors’ yappy dogs)? Guard Syndrome hate (or Abuser of Power) squaring off against Abused or Tortured hate? Rival/ Enemy (a.k.a hormonal) hate? Sick obsession with cathected object (Scarlet Letter-style) hate? Lazy or Ignorant hate? Pride, Lust, Wrath, Envy, Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth are considered cardinal sins in some traditions. Why isn’t Hate on this list? Is Hate considered by church Authorities as a subset of Wrath or a blend of Pride with other sins? Is Hate supposed to be an act of will rather than a besetting trait? Do we control hate like controlling our bowels to make public and political life more elegant and less smelly? I hate to ask so many questions, but inquiring minds want to know.
Back in my church-going days, I noticed that the people who would posture the most about the importance of forgiveness, you shouldn’t harbor hate in your heart, love your enemy, etc., were some of the nastiest people I’d ever met. They’d put on a show of being kind and loving, but God help you if you offended them in some way, no matter how insignificantly or inadvertently.
I think a big reason was to persuade everyone else that you should meekly submit to mistreatment by them and never retaliate in any way. You couldn’t even call it mistreatment because that would make you guilty of judging. And anyway, they couldn’t possibly have mistreated anyone, because they were the very definition of Christian love, just ask them!
It seems to me that it’s the same kind of thing with progressives posturing against hate. They’re using it to disarm and attack the groups of people that they hate.
Dear Mr. Greer,
If there were to be a Revolution of Hatred, how do you think it would play out?
@ JMG “One of the common patterns in American politics is that the left thinks its opponents are ignorant or sick, and need to be taught or cured, while the right thinks its opponents are evil and need to be punished.”
This means, if you are a regular prole*, whether you are being taught, cured or punished, the left/right march of power is bound to do a number on you, one way or another.
*by “prole” I mean the kind of person who seeks not so much to rule as to resist BEING ruled, so as to get on with living.
There are lots of people like this, in my experience, but they are rendered (mostly) invisible in most adversarial, party-based political systems.
I vote for a post on reincarnation. I’d like to know how reincarnation fits with the idea that your ancestors can be contacted or that they should be remembered around Halloween. Also, I kinda like the idea that you owe something to your ancestors and that you should try to make them proud of you. That seems like it wouldn’t fit with them reincarnating as other people / beings and probably not remembering the lives in which they were your ancestors. I guess it makes me feel sad, that the link between them and me might be broken.
Right now, my religious beliefs are kind of up in the air. I’m trying to figure out what works for me, but haven’t managed it yet. So I’m not for or against reincarnation, I’m mostly just confused on the issue.
“The quest for perfection by amputation…”
Another feature of this, especially within a Buddhist context, is the ideal to become totally freed from self-interest, while working entirely for the benefit of others. This is written into the mythology, such as the Buddha in a past life feeding himself to a hungry mother tiger, or bodhisattvas rendering themselves destitute as a spiritual training. This stands in contrast to various polytheist mythologies, in which gods act in their own self-interest and frequently come into conflict with others, even resulting in divine wars.
I think one of the underlying differences between these two is a belief, or lack thereof, that the world and human condition are inherently broken and ought to be fixed. The Buddhist and polytheist Greek might agree that war is disagreeable and ought to be avoided, but the latter probably wouldn’t think it will ever disappear, since conflict is simply an inevitable part of life. His astrology would also indicate that conflict is fated and non-negotiable, so best prepare for that eventuality. Most forms of Mahayana Buddhism, on the other hand, believe that bodhisattvas will eventually succeed in transforming our defiled world into something much more pleasant. Modern movements out of East Asia are often determined to “build the Pure Land on Earth” (i.e., a Buddhist utopia).
Anyway, I’m probably repeating what you’ve already said before. I’m channeling what I digested from reading your book “A World Full of Gods”. 🙂
Ah, you got it. Good, just needed to make sure. Got another update waiting for you, as it were. Btw, you can discard that ritual. The gods-to-spheres ratio was off, so I’ve rewritten it to make it do what it is supposed to do. I’ll send you A.L.U. v1.1 next time I hear back from you.
That Huxley quote made the hairs on my arm stand up…
Hate isn’t an emotion. Hate is a story we tell about our emotions. We start by feeling emotions such as anger, fear, or grief. And as you say of our “negative” emotions, these are a necessary and helpful part of being human. But with hate we then we tell ourselves a story that says that the (perceived) cause of our painful emotions should not exist.
I mean that in a cosmological sense. The story of hate doesn’t merely say “this is an undesirable state of affairs”. The story of hate says “this is an offense against the ground of being”, inserting God or state or whatever one’s preferred cultural reference point is for their sense of being. Essentially, hate is an assertion that reality is broken. Which is a problem.
When you begin arguing with reality, you’ve already lost. Hate is like starting a campaign against the evils of addition when you realize that you got the dreaded 5 by adding 2 and 3. So long as you’re hating addition, you’re never going to make the only meaningful change. Which is to accept addition as part of reality and change the numbers that are being added.
Words in their Humpty-Dumpty way are tricky. I think I understand hostility better than I understand hate in the current American context. Going perhaps wider than contemporary America, however, I have some feel for how horror and fear can play their various ambiguous role(s).
For a touchstone on the formation of Christian thought as its features emerged in the Graeco-Roman world, I use Geza Vermes’ ‘Christian Beginnings’. I think I understand something of the fascination with this period in latter-day America. (Disclosure: I’m British.) It all looks surprisingly modern. I have just read again Vermes’ account of the biblical scholar Origen c. 184-254. Vermes calls him “… the most versatile exciting and influential Church Father in the early years of Greek Christianity” and says of one of his extant works , “… now and then [it] gives an astonishingly modern impression … “
Given the necessary recapitulation of biology and personal experience we each undergo in our brief lives we can feel for this man and for the horror and eerie formulations of his time: his striving, his thought, eccentricity, enthusiasm, emulation, martyrdom, and amputation; to be a eunuch in the service of Jesus. Man and God(s), Father and Son, Mother and Child; “… the foundation of all things”; it’s all there!
@JMG about Lewis:
Yes, Perelandra is supposed to be the improved version of Paradise Lost. I love many things about both of them, but Perelandra certainly does not improve on PL in regard to temptation. Ransom’s smashing the Un-Man is no good explanation for the Perelandrians’ getting ripe and adult.
Lewis’ worlds are rich in imagination, but never as consistent as Tolkien’s.
Hallo, JMG! I remember that quite a while ago you considered writing a post about why the modern industrial society produces so much more ugliness than non-industrial societies. That might be another idea for August 30th.
Regarding the tabooisation of hate, it might be one of the factors why there isn’t a honest discussion in Germany, and elsewhere, about mass immigration, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, ethnic conflicts and such the like.
I have to admit that I thought this kind of interaction only happened over the Internet, with the comforting shield of anonymity. My condolences to you folks in Yankeeland that have to deal with it in person.
In an attempt to use the power of limits more skilfully in my life, I’ve started pouring out the occasional drink to Terminus in one corner of my back yard, and asking for his help. I’m finding some prayers do get answered, rapidly, and in some very unexpected ways.
JMG this post is amazing! Is hate normal? Absolutely. And so apropos – I was intending to finally get into the discussion on the Mystery Teachings with a question on what you wrote about the First Law. Yet it seems with this post you have dispelled the need for my question. May I anyway post my thoughts?
You wrote on p. 23 of my edition (Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth),
“Choose to hate, even if you never act on your hatred, and you make the world around you a more hateful place, for you as well as all other beings. Choose to love, and the reverse is equally true.”
This pierced me, because I recently spent about three years engrossed in my hatred of a person that harmed and hurt me. I believe my hatred of that person was justified and still is. They knowingly did wrong to me, and I suffered. Yet it did eventually seem that the more I wallowed in hatred, the more things kept going wrong for me on every level. I had lost my job (not from being sacked, just the usual end of contract stuff) and could not get another one for ages; I had no money. I became very depressed, and avoided people. My relationship with my children and partner suffered. And then so many other things went wrong – for example, I loved growing food in my garden, but then the local Council demanded that I remove and replace my boundary fence at my own expense, because the people who used to own this place 20 years ago had put the fence in the wrong place. My food garden was subsequently overrun by wallabies (I am in Tasmania) after the fence went. So – no home-grown food at all until a new fence could be erected months later. There were many other things along the same lines. I tried to claim back some tax I was entitled to, but ended up having to pay back the whole amount to the government because the change in my income meant I was no longer entitled to the amount I had received for family allowance in that year (an Australian govt payment for low income earners). And more… Basically I was losing all the time. It felt like a battle, I did not know what was coming next.
At that time, I thought mostly about the injustice of my situation. And – what happened was that laws of various kinds came down on my head. Not through any wrong actions on my part, but just perhaps because I was continually thinking of justice and how to put things right.
With the passage of time, I think of the injustice less frequently, and these related impacts on my life have lessened. And yet I still hate that person, and remain convinced that it is correct to do so. I feel that it would be a betrayal of myself to forgive them.
You say in this post that it is normal to hate sometimes, that there are actions that elicit this human response. I think this is different when hatred is extended to abstract groups as a kind of scapegoat for whatever one is not happy with (such as blaming migrants for unemployment).
I love your expression of wholeness in this essay; that being human means accepting our human traits, with our capacity for hatred being one of them. An emotion “that we inevitably feel”. As you say, we do not need to act on our emotions. Thank you for that beautifully written explanation.
Thanks for this.
Definitely if you try to banish the “bad” emotions and urges from your experience, they first of all come back to hurt you, and then later blow up and hurt others. I’ve done a lot of emotional suppression in my life, most often when I was trying to culture the “good” emotions. In encouraging, say, feelings of love and patience in one’s self you push fear and frustration to the side of the plate and end up with a mess inside of yourself with accumulating emotions that you don’t address. So, just to treat yourself kindly, you have to see light and dark and honor them, although even using terms like light and dark or good and bad can be problematic.
Where people get uncomfortable I think, is in acknowledging and allowing “bad” emotions they’re afraid they will get overwhelmed by them. When exactly the opposite is true – suppression of bad emotions leads to being overwhelmed by them. It’s an energetic thing mainly – sometimes I experience an upsurge of, say, anger, inside me. It doesn’t mean I’m an angry person, which is a mental concept, just that I’m experiencing a flow of anger. And that flow has got to come out, so I can get back to balance. Then you use your judgement on how best to let it out. That’s where it gets challenging. Is it better to chop wood for an hour or to go and rant at the object of your anger? Maybe a combination of wood chopping followed-up by a calmer expression of one’s frustration? I’m mostly at the wood chopping stage myself, when it comes to discharging anger, but a part of me knows that I’m really avoiding confrontation when I do that. But then I’m so not good at confrontation, especially when I’m angry….
Wrt to a topic for a future post, I’m reading The Druid Magic Handbook currently, and am interested in your own experience of magic, why did you get into it and what do you use it for, what have been your successes and misfires? But another Storm Watch would be good also, maybe with an economic flavor…
JMG, I would love to see a further discussion of will as the ground of being….a suggestion for Aug. 30 or sometime thereafter??
“Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.”
Re dehumanizing perfection & the Borg
Another excellent example!
I found JMG’s description of the Radiance in TWoH:I quite jarring, if only b/c I realized, as a former acolyte of rationalism, that if an organization like that had existed on my campus a quarter century ago, my younger self might very well have taken Shalby’s path.
Shelby, of course, not “Shalby”…
I feel like the cultural attempts to demonize sex, and later hate, both seem to spring from oversimplified interpretations of the core Christian ethic of “loving thy neighbor.” Obviously there’s been a lot of discussion of the various and complicated interpretations of love – eros, philos, agape, etc.. – but loving – not as an instantaneous emotion but as a lifelong practice – is hard, complicated, and full of ambiguities. Far easier, the thinking seems to go, to just identify the opposite of love as hate and stop doing that – now you’ll love everyone by default! Or far easier to try and cut out the messy blend of lust, power, self-gratification, and ego-stoking that’s involved in sex and pretend that all of your relationships are motivated by a higher, purer sort of love, not one you get anything out of in return.
Of course, anyone who’s been married (and moved beyond a fairy-tale level of understanding of marriage) knows full well that it’s possible to hate and love someone simultaneously, or to love someone’s mind as well as what they do to your body.
It makes me wonder what the next love-opposite society will fixate on will be, if a common Christian-ish culture survives long enough to lead to one! Pride, perhaps – we’ll all be expected to receive constant advice on how to live correctly, “help” that’s not particularly helpful or that serves the giver more than the recipient, and in general forbidden from having our own independent thoughts rather than subscribing to the common narrative, all in the name of “humility.”
I was going to suggest moving up your September schedule a bit so that you could update your spring equinox reading of America’s star chart on the fall equinox, once six months have passed – but there have been so many other good ideas raised before my comment here that I would be happy to see almost any of them discussed.
I think this article (which I found via Strong Towns) is relevant here. The author makes the argument that Americans’ love of the automobile is at root fear and hate of the Other – we don’t want to ride mass transit because we might encounter Those People. The idea of being civil to those with whom we disagree, let alone learning something from them, is beyond the pale.
I love my hate. I keep it in a little compartment and take it out from time to time for a walk. I feed it, not too much, but just enough to keep it healthy and alive. It’s useful, a necessary survival tool.
We all have a dark side. Learning to control it and make use of it is what makes me whole.
Great article… one of your best.
JMG — As for suggestions and requests, I am personally finding that this blog has proportionately little content that relates directly and overtly to the stated topic, and much more related to politics, cultural phenomena, etc. I know blogs wander and digress, But back when we were talking about energy, most of the time we talked about energy…
As always, a great post that examines the big picture instead of whatever discourse we are trapped in at the moment. That is what I enjoy so much about your perspective, that it is always in a long term and historical context.
I would suggest that political hate is not as widespread as the media would have it. I cannot speak for other parts of the US but in New England all but a few people I talk to are confused, disappointed, depressed about the dysfunctional government and about being distracted with a new soap opera with Trump as the star every day, while so many real threats are closing in on us. Almost everyone I talk to wants a functional government. Although I am not a Trump supporter it would not make me happy to see him impeached because the turmoil would hurt all of us, for many years.
The media thrives on hatred because it sells more advertising. On the right, the angry firebrands are the most successful commentators, while the leftward end is usually smug and condescending. Journalists who quietly, deliberately do their jobs do not pull in millions of dollars.
I travel a lot around Connecticut and Massachusetts and I enjoy stopping at coffee shops in each town. It’s like a hobby of mine, to get into random conversations with strangers. I never start off with a political conversation but within five minutes you can usually guess where someone is on the political spectrum. So I go for some neutral topic. I have found that asking about the local water supply is a wonderful start. It is one thing almost everyone agrees on, that potable water is a necessity. Maybe it is the degree of socialism everyone accepts. Like sex or hatred, maybe we need a balance between individualism and cooperation. The other day I talked to a guy with a red Trump cap, and instead of butting heads we carefully found a lot we agreed on. Most notably, neither of us like being policed about what words we can use or being told that being a Democrat or Republican means accepting the whole set of beliefs, like bundling cable TV.
It’s all baby steps, trying to get past the false binary of politics. Ordinary people who work for a living do not have time to go to rallies or spend hours on the Internet or even put up flyers on telephone poles. The ones making all the noise are a minority and we have to look elsewhere to get a sense of what most people are thinking.
You are quite right;hating donald trump is nothing to be ashamed of.Autocracies are on the march around the world-Russia turkey etc; and it is even creeping into europe.You can tell the donald loves his fellow autos But ill have to say that my principle emotions regarding this are resentment and embarrassment .
Hi JMG. Re : Post on Aug 30th:
Ugo Bardi quote:
: “In the end, what is the solution to the ‘food supply problem’? If you ask me, I would try to propose a concept: ‘in a complex system, there are neither problems, nor solutions. There is only change and adaptation.'”
He could have been talking about most any problem, not just food.
I am a retired Presbyterian minister, (and physics and math instructor, a combination I enjoy), so the prophetic tradition is well known to me. Prophets specialized in mid-course corrections (among other things), usually 180 degrees. Their systems had their own complexity, probably not as complex as ours.
I think Bardi is right, but I don’t like it. Too often we don’t solve problems, we just fix them. Later the fix becomes a problem, and on it goes. (prophetic approach here). Bardi would say, yes, what do you expect?
Has their ever been a successful prophet? The Hebrew prophets tried to call Israel back to faithfulness, with a temporary success, perhaps, but their “success” was the result to their message being reinterpreted with regard to the coming of the messiah. Did they intend that also? Ask an Old testament scholar more competent than I.
Bardi”s approach is evolutionary, the other prophetic. Do we use one or the other or both, or something all together different?
This is rambling, but I think you can see what I am driving at.
A lot of commentors (both online and ‘live’) like to use the word ‘hypocrisy’ to describe much of the behavior referenced in your article. While the accusation certainly fits, I don’t think it goes far enough. After all, we’re all hypocrites in some form or fashion. The accusation is really one of degrees.
I suggest what a great number of high-volume people are experiencing is a complete lack of self-awareness.
My best example, though one not covered in this particular essay, comes from the vocal AGW advocates who I routinely call out for using an electric clothes dryer. The blowback is rarely a self-effacing acknowledgment of the behavior. I read once that when you catch a person lying to you, they’re often sheepish and apologetic. But when you catch them lying to themselves the reaction is over the top.
Okay, this will be my very last Wednesday topic suggestion, I solemnly pledge ….
An essay on poet WB Yeats, one of, if not the best poet of the 20th c., and how his study and practice of magic was entwined with his poetic art. Yeats was one of those very rare poets whose artistic powers actually increased the older he got; and I’ve little doubt this was due to his involvement with magic.
I’m thinking this could be quite inspiring for your readers who are writers, painters, musicians, and really for anybody with an interest in how magic can enhance our day to day lives.
I’m wondering about how difficult it may be for individuals and societies to change the particular behavior you’ve outlined here, and regain a healthier, more whole approach to dealing with the world.
When I read the post, I was reminded of something that happened to me when I was a bit younger. After quite a bit of personal effort (which at the time consisted of lots of yoga asanas and self-reflection) I had a sudden flash of insight into a big error of thinking/feeling/perception I had been making. It was all about how I had been blaming my father for my problems etc, probably a pretty common thing to do. It was hard to see and accept this at the time, but it led to some really big and lasting personality changes. When I went back out into the world after this realization, I suddenly found I was able to say “no” to people. I saw that previously I hadn’t really been able to do this, and also that I had been completely unaware of it up until that moment. It felt great! I went around saying no to everyone, no longer letting people walk all over me and trying to cater to their every whim. I also discovered I was no longer afraid of confrontation, and although I didn’t exactly go around picking fights, when the situation arose, I was able to handle it. So I finally got the beginnings of some healthy personal boundaries.
Repressing all these so-called negative emotions and projecting them onto others seems to be something that happens pretty early on in childhood as some kind of self-preservation mechanism. I didn’t just wake up one morning and ‘decide’ to get more in touch with my shadow side. It took a lot of personal effort to start to gain access to these repressed emotions which were hidden from conscious awareness and seemed literally stuck in my body. I wasn’t aware in any sense that I had repressed anything; it just seemed that my way of dealing with the world and people was the only available one.
I guess everyone does this in some way, and collectively it manifests on the cultural level as the particular taboo-de-jour; sex in the past, hate these days as you outlined.
I’m wondering if magic is one way for people to regain access to these emotions which have been resigned to the unconscious, and start the process of regaining wholeness. As these and other similarly designed practices seem to have a history of being unpopular due to the amount of work and commitment they require, it seems unlikely that our culture will ever collectively get over our psychological issues. But if one person can attempt it, that would be something, at least.
I have a lot to do this next week, but it occurs to me from reading Garden Housewife account of her church experiences, and many other accounts of “hate-ish activities”, that there is a rather large percentage of people who easily move beyond mere selfishness. There are lots of people who actively use hate, while never truly feeling it. It seems that hypocrisy always accompanies these psyches as well, albeit well hidden and ruthlessly quashed.
In my experience, these are psychopaths or sociopaths. While each of us has a little of this at times, it seems that modern society has been brewing and nurturing these two types for several centuries. I know we can look back and point to this historic figure or that one, and how they were one or the other of these. But it seems like they have become, by and large, our ruling class, the 1%’ers or the Senate or Parliament, etc.
As a lack of empathy is a characteristic of both – this isn’t good for the majority of us.
How exactly does this concentrating of and facilitating of these two very harmful types of people happen in our current society? Why do they always seem to be front and center of every tragedy? How is it that certain cultures controlled these types of psyches in the past? How does one learn to sense-out these types (and I do mean sense and then out them, publicly)? Are they, by necessity, the actual drivers of things within civilization, as it is currently defined?
I have to get to it – a broken PTO shaft does no work…
Regarding requests for subject matter, I was a regular reader of your previous blog way back in 2009 when you published “Betting On The Rustbelt.” I’m very curious about your reasoning for your move to Rhode Island. I just purchased a copy of your book Weird of Hali Innsmouth (I had to get the softcover from Amazon since money is tight though…) and I’m aware of that connection, but I’m wondering what other factors were involved. Anyway thanks for all the years of great writing, and here’s hoping for years more to come.
“Why are people on the left so obsessed with Trump? I mean, I’m old enough to remember GW Bush being the figure of hate for the left, but I swear it was never this obsessive!”
It is not nearly as obsessive and virulent as was the right-wing hatred of Obama from the minute he was elected. This thing cuts both ways, and people seem to be enjoying piling on the left, while forgetting the right.
Du sprichst mir aus der Seele – that roughly means: you took the words right out of my mouth.
Only I wouldn´t have found those words in the first place, hence I find the german saying more appropriate in this case , which literally means: you´re talking out of my soul.
The first thing that came to my mind when I read Hillary´s slogan was: one should put an apostrophe in there to make it more fitting. I wonder why she didn´t see that herself?!
You can observe the same thing over here – hardly a day passes without some headline in that vein about your president, and the left has exactly the kind of fixation on him that you describe. Of course we have other bogeymen that serve the same function:Vladimir Putin (Russia), Victor Orban (Hungary), Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Marine le Pen (France), Recep Tayip Erdogan (Turkey), Nigel Farage (UK), although he´s not available for that any more, and the polish PIS party (in German, too, one can hardly refrain from adding the extra `S`) to name a few.. Don´t get me wrong, I do not particularly like any of them, but the reaction of the left towards them is, again, exactly what you are describing. Remember Bush´s `They just hate our freedom` ? Even in the most martial ´let´s go to war ´ rethoric before invading Iraq no one said: I/we just hate that bastard Saddam, it was always talk about `bringing him to justice´; at least in the UK, where I was living at the time.
I think there is one kind of hate though that is acceptable to express among some people on the the left: it´s the hate against a whole group of persons as in: I hate hunters, or: I hate the police, to which I always say: you should judge them individually, not condemn the whole group.
Frank from Germany
Carlos M –
Yes, the saints certainly did struggle with the human temptations we all have, but if there’s one thing that made them different from most of the rest of us strugglers, I think it was the sheer *intensity* in which they lived their lives, right from the git-go. Prior to entering the Church many of them were near criminals, and many, like Francis of Assisi, were considered the village loons. I think that their intensity was indicative, on some level, of a desire to “break through” to a higher level of consciousness, and that that intensity, that concentration of energy, enabled them to do so.
I don’t doubt that this intensity of purpose invited a level of temptation and a “dark night of the soul” that most of us day-to-day strugglers really can’t fathom.
So, yes, the saints were/are as human as we are, but if we are to become saints – and we all have that potential – then I think we must conjure up the same intensity of purpose.
Finally!! Someone said it out loud. As someone who openly ( and perhaps naively frank about it) voted for Trump (even though I don’t like him) in a very lefty-liberal town, I was really surprised at the amount of rancor directed at me by people I consider friends. And the complete lack of interest in discussing politics. No one who lambasted me was interested in hearing why I thought it was a better, although difficult choice.
As for the “blue moon” post: As some one who has tried vigorously to collapse now, I have found that there is a lot of material out there to learn to garden, fix a bike, sew clothes, put up jam, etc. My skills in those areas are happily growing. The really big gaping hole in the embodied knowledge of our culture is the forming of local organizations, like the Lodges, Granges, and other mutual-aid societies. Having grown up in Midwestern burbs, I don’t personally know anyone who participates in those groups (other than the grange thanks to my agricultural efforts.)
I would love a post about how that whole world works, and how I can join it, connect to it, or reinvent it where I live now. Thanks!
John, excellent post! It was one of those articles where I kept forming counter-arguments to specific points, only to have them shot down by the next sentence, or – upon some brief reflection – realizing that my counterpoint simply made me exactly into the person you were describing. Trying to suppress the shadow tends to feed it quite vigorously. A couple quibbles, regarding the unprecedented scrutiny of our current president. I do recall Fox News spending a fair amount of time discussing Obama’s preferred variety of mustard around this time in his presidency, so the amount of attention Trump is getting may be simply due to the number of media outlets who oppose his agenda, and the ever-increasing media saturation in our culture in general. Also, Trump is not “simply an elected official.” He is a person who has asked – and continues to ask – America to pay a great deal of attention to him for several decades, in very obvious ways – and in ways that nearly all other elected officials simply have not. The nature of media coverage and discussion may not be to his liking, but the amount is clearly (and loudly) invited.
What gets labeled as hate almost invariably crosses the prevailing postmodernist intersectional identity politics in some way. Somebody steps out of line by having a bias in the wrong direction, expresses hesitance to embrace some proposed social change due to some consideration of self-interest, or even weighs in on the wrong side in a situation where he or she is a disinterested bystander, and the hate label comes out. I’ve always been baffled by how few people appear to question whether there is really any hate coming into play on a case-by-case basis, but if the presence of hate alone was not seen as sufficient grounds to shut your mind down and stop thinking about something, that might also be a step in a positive direction.
So, JMG starts talking about self denial of sex and hatred and… fellow Catholics begin popping up like mushrooms after the first rains. How amusing!!!
My take is that Jesus-the-Man’s intention was to get a Mistery school started, and then it all went horribly right and ended up with a major religion instead. After all, the *voluntary* refusal to make use of your sexual capabilites or your violent/dehumanizing capabilites is something the human mind is capable of, just not likely to happen without putting lots of focused effort towards it. It is not unlike people running 3 Ironman races over 3 consecutive days. But if you believe that God-the-Father likes best his humans prudish and meek, you may certainly attempt the self transformation towards fullfilling that ideal.
The problem is that the Church, having decided to pursue quantity over quality, puts that high goal in front of us and then provides terribly innadecuate tools to achieve it. No, I don’t think Confession has anything to do with psicotherapy. I wont comment on its supernatural effects, but purely dweling on your mistakes and transgressions is more likely to engender guilt rather than virtue. Poor results for spiritual growth, but very good for keeping the rank and file toeing the line. I think we really lost our way when our forefathers got in bed with that Constantin rascal.
So not to be too overly off-topic, let me add: It is way harder to achieve self transformation than to pretend the end results. The problem isn’t the chose between hate or no-hate. The problem is that even if y’all reach the consensus that no-hate is a good thing to strive for, very few people will actually try it and even less will succeed. Its way easier to ape the act of an imaginary unhateful person.
Democrats do not drink the Koolaid. They drink organic, locally sourced, fair trade acai berry juice (or whatever the latest superfood may be.)
Seriously though, the liberals regard opponents as sick or ignorant vs. conservatives regard opponents as evil model could be seen as a variation on George Lakoff’s theory of the Strict Father vs. Nurturant Parent model. The fit is not exact, because it seems that for many liberals their opponents have become irredeemable.
On the subject of food purity, as a long ago anthropology major I note that most cultures have some set of food taboos. These are frequently a key component of group identity. We don’t eat frogs, French people eat frogs, and snails too. But in our current Western culture being adventurous and willing to try new cuisines is a positive trait; and few people, except Orthodox Jews and Muslims who observe Halal laws eat in strict accordance to a set of rules. Maybe extreme diets are a sign that some people’s psychology craves restriction. Without religion or custom to provide the restrictions we turn to the authority of science–or pseudo science.
Although, to trespass somewhat on Lakoff’s territory, I have wondered whether we subconsciously confuse being emotionally sensitive (seen as a good thing in general) with being physically sensitive. So being “sensitive” to foods or scents or electrical currents, etc. becomes a form of aristocracy. Like the Princess and Pea. Cultural patterns of oafish peasant who is both physically tough and emotionally crude vs. the delicate flower who can flourish only in quiet, pleasant surrounding fed on delicate food and protected from any raw emotion. Duck Dynasty vs. Snowflakes in Safe Spaces. I’ve seen people say things like “Gluten sensitivity is such a white people problem.” Which is obviously racist, and untrue and dismissive, while at the same time being an understandable reaction to the way some people convert weakness to privilege.
Suggested topics. 1) You’re move to Providence – reasons both practical and necessary. 2) New religious movements in the age of decline – do you see numerous cults springing up, revival of older faiths with new tenets, a retreat from spirituality in general?
I think a parallel argument could be made for bigotry, which is why I was wondering if it might be an idea to allow people to express their bigotry. I wouldn’t want bigotry to go the way of sexuality and become glorified – a point you made in a post on the old blog as well.
I suppose I should try and get the discussion I would be interested in rolling on the next open post
Thanks for a great article, John Michael!
The idea put forward in the article is one way to view things, and I think it’s all good. Also there are a lot of good points in the commentaries. I would like to put forward a perspective on the matter that is perhaps not as advanced in comparison.
I agree that it is not beneficial to the individual or the collective to suppress feelings such as anger, but I do however not agree that Hatred should be unmanaged. As I see it, Love and Hate are not opposites that balance each other, or cancel each other out. Not all feelings, thoughts or ideas influence people “in the same way”. I think of Hate as something that can fester and torment the Mind and thus making it unfocused, scattered and prone to suffering.
I simply believe there are things that increase our suffering, and there are things that decrease our suffering. Hatred is for a person what a flat tire is to a bike – it might happen, and when it does, it will give you a less enjoyable ride. So way not mend it…
Thanks again for a very interesting blog!
OT: – but re: Retro America, snort, giggle …
I happen to own one of those suckers as of yesterday. Used the TV twice in the past 9 months: to watch the election results roll in (sound off) and to watch the July 4th Pops Concert.But – (cue sinister music) does the Younger Generation know something we don’t? (Triumphant witchy cackle.)
Oops! Oh, blast. Paywall. Here’s a better link:
I began to read your blog in March 2013. I remember it well: I had to get up early the next morning, but I just had to read one more entry. It took me about a week to finish all of it, and I’ve read quite a few twice or more times since. I’m glad you decided to keep writing a blog, and wish the best of luck with this new endeavor.
If I may, I would like to suggest, as a theme for the post of the fifth week of August, relationships between the sexes in this day and age. You yourself said once, responding somebody’s comment in your former blog, that you should write something about that subject one of these days. Now is just the right time to do it, I think!
I hated for many years, finally realized that, not only did I not grow because of my hatings, but neither did those around me, or the ones I hated. That doesn’tmean I wouldn’t end someone’s life that needed ending, I just prefer that it won’t be necessary anymore before I cross the Veil. 🙂
JMG – yeah, there’s more than enough vegans (and interestingly enough, a lot of people who eat ‘plant based diets’ with complicated rules about what animal products are permissible – they would make a rabbi or an imam blush – in my family). It seems like we have a problem dealing with anything with free anything. Just like if you’re young and attractive and have access to birth control and STD treatments, sex is nearly free, if you’re an upper middle class North American or western European food is nearly free. I think that that’s part of it too – I’ve noticed, for instance, that those with complex dietary rules will happily eat expensive ‘ethical’ farmed salmon but eschew pork chops that are 20% of the cost. Partially it’s a class thing, partially I think it’s healthy discomfort with the industrial food system and the feeling that there should be a real cost associated with food.
Here’s another subject that I would like your thoughts on, for your consideration: The psychological and magical role of sacrifice.
Mister N., too funny!
Carlos, that’s good to hear. A great many of the problems I’ve observed at work in your church — as an outsider, to be sure — seem to be abetted, or worse, by attitudes that insist that everything is just fine, especially when it isn’t.
Shane, half the reason the US is tearing itself to shreds these days is that it no longer has a single external enemy to unite against. That’s a common theme in our history. The German experience has a lot to teach, no question, but it wasn’t just a matter of intermarriage — wholesale assimilation was far more popular in Germany and all of central Europe than elsewhere, and that had consequences that the sociology of deviance explains very well.
Lawrence, if I could figure out how to do that, I’d already be writing my Nobel Prize acceptance speech!
Tom, you’re most welcome!
Inohuri, my apologies — I did in fact misunderstand you. Thanks for the clarification.
Gkb, sure, and you can do the same thing with any other emotion, too. The blanket condemnation of hate is directed at all of it, of course — well, except for the it’s-not-really-hate from the we’re-not-really-haters…
Garden, that strikes me as a useful comparison!
Johan, much the same way the sexual revolution played out. You’d start with a handful of avant-garde figures whom all right-thinking people despise, but who make a big deal of wallowing in hate and enjoying it; gradually, it would catch on among the young; slogans of the sort I noted in the post — liberation, freedom, getting out from under the burden of an outworn morality, et al. — would be heard more and more often; sooner or later you’d get the high-profile court case that would uphold the right to utter hate speech; in another decade or so, loud public displays of hate would be be de rigueur for the fashionable, and away we’d go.
Scotlyn, nicely summarized.
Certainly, the saints were all driven by an intense sense of purpose. The Church considers this a divine calling, which is actually universal, but few actually take up the offer. As Jesus put it, many are called, few are chosen.
They were almost all certainly weirdos, and this is precisely because they lived meaningful lives. Doing that – as opposed to just going with the flow – marks you out as being different. The problem with the sanitized hagiographies is that they either tried to gloss over the struggles, or presented them Hollywood presents a training montage. This made their lives either uninspiring or unrealistic, and therefore not worthy to aspire to.
I believe the key here is that they lived the fight daily. That doesn’t make a difference on a day-to-day basis but can result in great things over the years. This is not a strictly Catholic idea. Similar themes of individual, constant, small changes have been explored in JMG’s blogs, on topics as diverse as soil improvement to dealing with civilizational collapse.
Housewife, so noted! I’ll certainly consider that.
Jeffrey, it’s not something I really got into in detail in A World Full of Gods, though it’s a relevant point, and I’ll keep it in mind if I ever do a revision and expansion of that book. You’re quite right, though, that the prophetic religions pretty much all insist that the world we’ve got is bad, and ought to be replaced by something far better suited to human preferences. From the standpoint of old-fashioned polytheism, that’s just silly, but it does have a powerful appeal to a lot of people.
Sven, delighted to hear it! I’ll be in touch.
Chris, yes, it’s also a common gambit to try to find some way to insist that an emotion you don’t like isn’t actually an emotion or doesn’t really exist. You could use identical logic to claim that love is just a narrative we tell ourselves about our experiences of pleasure, or fear is just a narrative we tell ourselves about our experiences of pain avoidance, or what have you, and it would be equally false. In my experience, certainly, it doesn’t wash; hate is an emotion, distinct from anger on the one hand and contempt on the other, and also distinct from the narratives we construct about it.
Nor are you correct in claiming that hate by definition insists that the object of hate shouldn’t exist. I’ll use myself as an example here. I took a lot of bullying when I was a child, and one consequence is that I hate bullies. That doesn’t mean I want them not to exist. The specific form my hate takes is that I want to hurt them; I want to cause them so much pain that if they ever think of bullying anybody ever again, the memory of what I did to them will make them wet themselves in sheer terror. I don’t act on that emotion, for obvious reasons, but that’s the emotion I have. It’s not anger, or anything else but itself — and it’s a kind of emotion that many other people also share, btw.
You’re right, though, that it’s a bad idea to argue with reality. Hate is a part of reality; it’s an emotion that all human beings experience from time to time, and trying to argue it away with verbal handwaving really doesn’t do any good for anyone, you know.
Phil, of course the late Roman world feels very modern! It was in the same stage of the historical cycle we’re in right now, Origen was very modern, in his own Roman way, and yeah, his self-castration is a very modern act.
Matthias, no argument there. Whenever I read Lewis, I end up feeling that he didn’t actually believe in Christianity, he believed that he ought to believe in Christianity, and so he went through his life (and his writing career) looking out of his eye at the nearest mirror, to make sure that he was acting the way a believing Christian ought to act. Tolkien, by contrast, actually believed, and so didn’t need the mirror.
Booklover, I’ll consider that! As for current taboos in Germany, I think that recently deceased German author nailed it, when he pointed out that Germans in modern Europe have the same status that Jews were assigned in medieval Europe: scapegoats who have been assigned perpetual collective guilt for a crime that some of their ancestors committed. As long as that fantasy of inherited guilt remains in place, no, there aren’t going to be any honest conversations about a lot of things.
Kfish, delighted to hear it! The old practice of making offerings to the gods has a lot to recommend it, as you’re already discovering.
Helen, you’re welcome and thank you! Exactly; everyone feels hate now and again; the question that matters is whether you choose to feed it and focus on it, or whether you let it go when the emotion passes and go do something else. Hate, like love, is a “sticky” emotion; it’s easy to get stuck in it, with the kind of negative consequences you describe so clearly. (There are times when getting stuck in love can be nearly as problematic.) I feel that the notion of forgiveness has been massively overdone, to the extent that it enables all kinds of abuse; I’d suggest that there are things it’s wrong to forgive, especially when that would make it easier for the same thing to happen to someone else! Here as elsewhere, it’s a matter of finding a balance and making constructive choices, not of following some rigid theory of What Is Good.
Mark, exactly. Sometimes avoiding confrontation is the best choice you can make. Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
Mark and Silent H., thank you — your suggestions are in the hopper.
Dave, I think that any time you claim that human beings can be made to behave like angels, you’ve backed yourself into a corner from which there’s no easy way out. All the prophetic religions do this to one extent or another, and then have to spend a lot of time coping with the difference between what their theory claims and what experience actually shows.
RPC, I think that’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story. The love affair with the car is also rooted in a fantasy of freedom — the dream that you can just climb in and go zooming off to some unknown destination, all by yourself. Mass transit doesn’t provide that rush — you know where it’s going, it says so right there on the schedule. I dislike cars, but during long carpool rides with people I know, I’ve felt the lure of the open road, and it really does seem to be hardwired into our culture.
Gregory, if that works for you, by all means. Me, I treat it like all my other emotions — observe it, decide whether it’s offering useful advice, and let it flow away to be replaced by the next feeling.
Bill, duly noted, and your suggestion is in the hopper with the rest. (I may need to get a bigger hopper…)
Lots of food for thought as usual. Two points.
First, I don’t remember Hillary using the slogan you hung on her. The slogan I remember is “Better Together.” Maybe she did at one point, but if so, it wasn’t prominent enough for me to notice.
Second, the point you’ve made several times in the comments needs to be a lot more prominent: the way to handle emotions is to let them flow through rather than getting stuck. Fixing the way society handles things is a hard ask, fixing the way you handle things is a lot easier, and also gives a platform for helping other people see the light.
We are tribal, we’ve always been tribal. The Coke commercial, one world, one people vision shoved down our throats is gonna backfire. You feared and hated the Other to protect your own. Your heart stood still as you listened in the silence, footsteps near the gate? They can manipulate, decree and enforce change, but your gut instinct, thousands of years old, will go its own natural way.
Just a quick note to suggest a fifth Wednesday concept: how about transcribing a dialog with some other modern intellectual? What I have in mind is not necessarily a debate with opposing positions, but looking at some relevant issue from orthogonal directions?
A timely post! I know my blow up last week had to do with some repressed hate and anger I’ve been feeling, in conjunction with all the hate and anger that is being blared across the media and social networking sites. In some ways, hate is like an energy. It needs to be released instead of repressed. It’s unfortunate when it is released at the wrong targets and when it is unleashed in counter-productive ways. But I think this is the sad tragedy, that many can become addicted to unleashing their bottled up hatred at the wrong targets. So yeah, there could definitely be a Revolution of Hate well on its way.
Growing up, I always hated emotions, especially those expressing sorrow and sadness. They never seemed useful. I think it’s a habit that many men have been taught from boyhood on-wards and we are seeing a bit of a counter-revolution to this now. What a revolutionary idea it may be to present emotions as tools that we can work with. Especially for a man! At least for those who grew up the way I did 🙂
Curious as to your reaction to a friend I sent this to: “There hasn’t exactly been a shortage of expressed hate in this country in its entire history.”
As for topics of discussion, what about an analysis of the recent obsession with Mars in particular within the mythology of the grand march of humanity to the stars?
Johan and JMG:
“You’d start with a handful of avant-garde figures whom all right-thinking people despise, but who make a big deal of wallowing in hate and enjoying it; gradually, it would catch on among the young”
I would argue we are right about there, actually, several years if not a decade along the trajectory.
Yes, I was trying to distinguish hates using loves as a model. I have heard of eros, philia, caritas, agape, other distinctions but never of separate words for various forms of hate. At least one dictionary distinguishes between hate as a feeling and hate as an action based on feeling. Maybe people confound or compound feelings with actions, is one aspect of what I was attempting to get at. The biological or toxic waste model also seems useful. Every living thing ejects waste; how humans do or do not sequester or transform their waste – – psychic and bodily – – makes a difference in the environment where others live. Is that not part of ecosophia? Ecological wisdom seems to indicate that bodily waste can be cured of its harmful propensities by sequestation, filtering, resting time, applying heat to create new fertility. Some kinds of hate too? But if hate is like atomic waste, well, hard to find a value for it in one lifetime.
When hate can’t be acknowledged, it can’t be resolved. Is preserving hate therefore the actual purpose of over-vilifying it? Doing so removes any advantage for actually not hating, after all. (Much as there’s little point in being actually chaste/monogamous in a sexually Victorian society; there are no accolades for doing so because the status one is achieving by sacrifice, everyone else is achieving by pretense. And behind the pretense, you’re perceived as a sucker.)
Sexually, I like having choices and I’ve always (since growing up in the 60s) supported others having those choices even though what I’ve chosen is monogamy. The same pattern might apply to hate. I’d prefer to hate only what I regard as deserving of hate (well, obviously) but also only what I think I can do a proper job of hating (which is a bit trickier concept, but let’s just say that neither unvoiced internal seething nor anonymous ranting would measure up).
In considering the sexual revolution analogy scenario, don’t forget, as a milestone, the appearance of controversial bestselling how-to books. (Perhaps “Your Antagonous Zones,” “The Joy of Vex,” etc.)
Regarding the blue Wednesday, I like a lot of the suggestions made, but I notice that most of them involve you delving into some complex topic, providing instructions and advice for some challenging pursuit, or sorting out some perennial source of confusion. All well and good, but how would that be different from any other Wednesday?
So, instead, how about some poetry? Or recipes? Or hundred-word stories? Or cat pictures? Or jokes? (How many green wizards does it take to change a light bulb? A: Do you really need a light bulb there?)
On second thought, not cat pictures, please.
Or maybe there’s a question you’d like to ask your readers.
@Carlos M –
Oh yes, totally agreed re the necessity of the day to day application of our spiritual principles. Of course a great many of us have been and are doing this, yet most of us don’t qualify as saints, and may never do so in this life. I think what I was getting at, and perhaps not articulating as well as I might have, might be found in that passage from Matthew 11:12 – ” … the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” For me this implies a tremendous concentration of desire and will on what an individual literally thinks of as an existential do-or-die basis. Now, while I do think that we all have the potential to storm heaven, it seems to me that some are born with right on the cusp, so to speak, and it is evident to them that they have no choice but to attempt to take heaven by force, no matter what it costs them. These are the ones who become saints, I believe.
Yes, agreed that a truly meaningful life can be seen as weird in the context of consensus reality, but then again, not all weirdos, like say, the genuinely indolent, live meaningful lives. Saints must be of a certain kind of weirdness, I think. I have wondered about those who I consider kinda weird, e.g., the daredevil types, those who seem to live for the risking of life and limb, the Xtreme Sports types. What’s the motivation there? I think they might be motivated by the simple desire to feel and be 100% alive; and only when their lives are at risk do they feel so. Now I’m not going to mistake all daredevil types for saints-in-the-making, but aren’t saints motivated by the same thing, to be 100% alive, alive in the fullest, most profound sense? And aren’t the daredevils storming heaven in a way?
I think another way of storming heaven is by way of the terrible calamities that can befall us, particularly when we begin to start out on a spiritual path, those calamitous events that awaken us to a new perspective – and I do think such might be engineered by our “higher self”. Many if not most of the saints certainly experienced this. Anyway, point I’m trying to make is the saints lived extreme lives, lives in which they risked everything including their souls, in order to attain the kingdom of heaven; and unless we’re willing to do the same, we ain’t got no chance at sainthood. No, I don’t suppose the hagiographers fully expressed this.
BTW, I’ve found that whereas Eastern scripture and thought underscores the necessity of the “taking heaven by violence”, it also emphasizes that the pursuit is ultimately futile, and that Enlightenment arrives only when we accept that we can’t achieve heaven by our own devices. I once heard a Catholic priest say that the spiritual path was a series of surrendering lusts, one after another, and the last lust to be surrendered is the lust for God – which might be saying the same thing.
Hope you have a good one today!
JMG, in your response to Johan you said:
Johan, much the same way the sexual revolution played out. You’d start with a handful of avant-garde figures whom all right-thinking people despise, but who make a big deal of wallowing in hate and enjoying it; gradually, it would catch on among the young; slogans of the sort I noted in the post — liberation, freedom, getting out from under the burden of an outworn morality, et al. — would be heard more and more often; sooner or later you’d get the high-profile court case that would uphold the right to utter hate speech; in another decade or so, loud public displays of hate would be be de rigueur for the fashionable, and away we’d go.
From your description, it sounds like it’s already started. Milo Yiannopolous fits the bill of an “avant-garde figure… wallowing in hate and enjoying it.” His rise to fame and fall from grace could place him as the Oscar Wilde for the hate revolution, someone to be seen as an early martyr for the cause.
If we’re very unlucky, the fact that he only dates black men could be as surprising to future generations as the fact that Wilde had a wife is to ours.
With due respect to JMG and Jeffrey, please note that I do not want to be doing any sort of prosetylising here but I have to disagree with both of you concerning the discussion you had on prophetic religions as illustrated by the following quote.
“Jeffrey, no argument there. The quest for perfection by amputation was the driving force behind the entire movement of prophetic religions”
I am a muslim by birth but non-practising, yet very much interested in islamic theology and history. In my religious instruction I have never heard anyone saying that to become a good muslim one had to chuck out a bit of my myself or anything else for that matter! My readings of islamic theology (however limited) did not reveal that either. Quranic scripture insist: the Divine perfected his creation with humans and perfected religion via islamic revelation (no amputation there!) (note I am NOT saying that Islam is perfect, I am just explaining a belief system!). Furthermore, Quranic scripture insist on the beauty of creation (the whole of it!) and how this shows the wisdom of the Divine.
Now, Quranic scripture does encourage people to better themselves and society (especially via charity) and certain muslims believe that they have to establish some sort of perfect human society on earth, yet this is NOT what the Quranic scripture encourage, it does encourage people to be virtuous, charitable, pious and truthful (OK tricky term!).
Indeed, the now famous islamic term “Jihad” (which has many meanings) means to struggle, especially against one’s own bad inclinations. As I read JMG’s essay, I felt I understood better the struggle to become “wholesome” and for me it has a very strong linkage with the quranic concept of jihad. To become wholesome is Jihad at its best.
Not being particularly naive, I am aware that there are certain trends within muslims for whom to become good muslims you have to reject certain aspects of your own psychological make up, but as far as I know it does not seem to be dominant.
Once more, my intentions are not to establish the overall excellence of Islam, but rather to point out that although Islam is a prophetic religion and has deep roots with both Judaism and Christianity, there are many aspects of it that diverge significantly from the two previous religions.
In summary, I find the esoteric quest of wholesomeness very similar to the jihadic quest of inner struggle for the betterment of oneself. And in so doing I do not have the feeling that I have to ampute myself somehow….
re: virulent hatred of Trump by the left – We were involved in homeschooling group when Obama ran for office. The group was evangelical Christians exclusively and all involved, except us, were convinced Obama was the Anti Christ and the end times were nigh. They expected each morning to not wake up having been raptured in their sleep. We left the group because its emotionally exhausting to be around people so focused on hate.(And we couldn’t understand the hatred of Obama, I mean if he is the Anti Christ then he is fulfilling scripture by being here and everyone should be thrilled, right? At least that’s the logical approach.)
I wonder if that level of drama and tension in one’s life is a necessary part of our evolutionary biology. We are not beset by roving hoards, plague, pestilence, and random acts of theft and mischief, so maybe we need to create the drama that doesn’t exist. Thoughts?
You have a very valid point about hate, and one that I have made many, many times myself. If hate or simply being angry was such a Bad Thing, I say, then evolution would have eliminated it from the range of human emotions a while ago. So anger must have its uses. And its uses are obvious, really, once you notice what happens when somebody gets angry. It’s good at setting boundaries. This said, I agree wholeheartedly with Aristotle when he said: “Anybody can get angry, that’s easy. But getting angry with the right person, at the right time, in the right way, that’s difficult.”
The reason I’m against Trump isn’t so much to do with him being obnoxious with a number of people and especially (from my point of view) those that speak Spanish, though of course that doesn’t help. The main reason is that the man is so obviously incompetent. Look at the transcripts of his calls to the Mexican and Australian leaders at the beginning of his presidency, that have just come out. What stands out to me, more than anything that was said, is that they both read like this: This is a conversation between person A, obviously intelligent and well-educated, and person B, who can only speak in short sentences and simple words (and he’s not here on a rally, speaking simplified English: this shows that this is how Trump always speaks). And person A can be seen to gradually lower his expectations and explaining himself in simpler and simpler terms. And Trump still doesn’t get the message. I find the logic “they must be bad people, that’s why they are in prison” rather characteristic of somebody who isn’t very bright.
Besides being incompetent, his instincts are obviously authoritarian. In fact, I’m not even entirely sure he’s capable of understanding democratic authority. So if and when he manages to get his act together, it’s going to be do do things that don’t bode well for democracy in the USA or world peace.
I’m one of those people watching Trump in fascinated horror. And it has nothing to do with being titillated by some emotion I’m having trouble expressing. I’ve never had trouble telling people I hate their guts. It’s because danger, seen from a safe distance, is always fascinating. And I think many other people feel the same way. They are watching Trump because they know they’re safe from him now, but they also know that he’s still the president of the USA, and at any point in the future, one of his decisions may be dangerous to you personally. So you better watch him.
Topic for the hopper……
American is obsessed with the idea of personal liberty often pointing to the founding documents when mentioned. However at the founding of the country it was coupled with the idea of personal responsibility. These days liberty and responsibility are not related at all. It looks like people are free to do whatever they want without paying the consequences. This shows up most obviously for me in the obesity in this country. If you talk to someone who is overweight – which is most of us at this point – they act as if the weight just appeared on them. The concept that they should pay higher health insurance premiums for that extra weight because of all the associated health issues it causes, or be denied coverage or receive lesser coverage until they lose weight, would cause a full temper tantrum. But why should others pay for the irresponsibility of that individual to take care of themselves in a responsible manner? People are free to eat yourself to death with cheetos and soda, but please accept the consequences of it.
I keep feeling like I am missing something with the magic conversations that come up. Can you create a basic primer with some links to your online writings? I did order the Mystery Teachings book and it took 3 weeks to get here because it was on backorder. Is that the place to start?
This post is spot on. A friend who was wearing an “I’m with Her” button during election season, recently posted a photo of a Trump hotel on Facebook making fun of it. All his friends chimed in with their insults and ugly comments. My friend is a gay black man. If the comments like that were made about him, it would be a “hate crime.”
I’ve been reflecting after reading through the comments – consistently my favorite piece of the internet are these posts and the comments – how much I’ve been stopped in life worrying about being hated for expressing an opinion or holding a viewpoint. That worry has kept me limited in what I express in public and online and what I do. When I read through negative comments about your posts JMG on Resiliance.org, I wonder, how does he deal with all those awful words? I can’t imagine what you see that you moderate out of the public comments.
So how does one handle being hated for being who they are?
Greetings John Michael,
Talking about the elephants in the room is generally a good idea, no less so for this topic.
I personally don’t like how my body feels when I’m angry because the state of our health is ruled in large part by the thoughts we allow ourselves to entertain. Prolonged anger becomes hatred. The few people I have developed hatred for have wasted way too much of my mental energy, like my former abusive supervisor. One day when I had reached my abuse saturation point I realized that I could redirect this hatred into a more useful emotion like compassion for this troubled individual and his inability to supervise effectively. Our relationship changed after that. My hatred was certainly justified on some level as a response to an intolerable situation but that didn’t mean I had to amputate it. I just needed to embrace it as a part of my wholeness and then move on, which I did. That hatred is embraced by some or detested by others is a matter of personal choice but as you so eloquently point out the need in our society to amputate a very basic human response robs us of any useful effect that energy may generate.
Fifth Wed question/topic: Another elephant in the room, The ‘D’ word – DEATH. Would love to hear yours and your reader’s views on this biggy.
I found this post incredibly liberating. As a girl I was socialized with the usual “Nice women don’t get angry, they are only allowed to be hurt and depressed. No one has any sympathy for angry women, so bury it.” hogwash, and when, inevitably, many characters showed up in my life to do me all kinds of harm, physical and otherwise, my ways of handling this were less than useful.
I would be the last person to quote the bible at anyone, but the post reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Pete Seger’s song with these lines, written in the late 1950’s, became a smash hit by the Byrds. The trick would be to determine which time is which and what to do about it. Do we hate or do we let it go? I’ve come to think the Serenity prayer is a good guide (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.)
Can I change something? Then I can let my hatred, or other emotions, galvanize me into useful action. If not? Then it is a different time, maybe a time to weep, a time to heal, or perhaps a time to keep silent.
I can tell you from experience that this is not easy. It’s the hardest thing in the world to let things go when an injustice has been done to you but you can do nothing about it.
A fascinating discussion. I have most certainly felt hate towards others and very occasionally I have been so outraged by a member of my fellow species actions which have inadvertently involved myself in some way – which could be described as a violating experience – that I have felt rage. We can occasionally be not very nice creatures from my experience and knowing who is who in the zoo is a useful tool to wield.
Of course, I treat such emotions the same way I treat touching the wood heater with bare skin in that you can get burned. On the other hand, occasionally being burned provides a useful reminder that some situations and people are best avoided.
On a whole, I tend to generally let such situations go and incorporate it into my worldview unless something practical and useful can be done to the people who have in part perpetrated the situation. There is also a smattering of responsibility if you are involved in such a circumstance even if you do not acknowledge it.
A practical response to the situation can be quite a cathartic experience and also a salutory reminder to those individuals not to under estimate circumstances. It is a complex beast, but over all I’d have to say that we as individuals can choose to indulge and wallow in such emotions – like any other emotions I guess. But you don’t have to choose to do that either.
Brilliant. I’ve had an experience in the past year where I’ve felt like I’ve been raped and pillaged. A gift (a house and some land with alternative technology infrastructure, no utilities, no rent) that I gave using my life savings after earning the money working as an engineer at a big company, that was meant to be shared and used for furthering ecological sustainability and distributist economies, has been taken without my consent and used to satisfy someone’s selfish need for resources (in this case an LGBT’s group’s need for a “safe space”). For a few nights, I felt hatred towards those people who have betrayed my trust and desecrated my gift and who hate me because I am a cis, het man (they also kicked out the only man who was the only one still interested in the original vision and maintaining gardens and infrastructure). But I got over it. I now feel hatred towards most of the people on the Left who do not want to help with a Gandhian direct action to resist what the people at the Homostead (sic) have done. I think it might be because they can’t confront raw human hatred in another human being. It’s easier to demonstrate against corporations or other abstract entities. And they can’t confront it in themselves. They would rather run away (Gandhi called it cowardice and said it was worse than violence) or let the legal arm of the state deal with it. I am modulating my hatred and trying to use it to do some good, like form a restorative justice brigade that consists of many historically oppressed groups.
Well, I was happily going along, applying my favorite theory that 90% of what we humans do is due to hormones, 5% accidental conditioning and 5% mystery. It was fitting just fine when I remembered that I do not understand the will-and-representations model of reality. If Will manifests Hate and we people perceive representations thereof in our minds and bodies (racing heart, raised blood pressure, etc.) and then some of us turn around and repress or deny or otherwise try to manipulate and control the representations of that manifestation then what is the problem? How is that different from whatever else we do with our feelings or our worldly Willings? What does it matter what people do with their representations of Hate? It is just wave motion in the ocean of Being. I seem to have missed a lot of steps in the logic or overlooked many layers of the blueprints.
So, I tried another tack. Examining the subject via metaphor, I wonder if what you describe as blanket condemnation of hate is related to the attitudes you have termed biophobic. The guy who wrote Humanure talks about people’s exaggerated fear of fecal matter, and says that if it were as dangerous as people think, it would be lethal to have it inside your body at all. What if the blanket condemnators are similarly fearful, mistakenly thinking all forms of hate are much too toxic to handle? Deadly to world peace and domestic felicity? And maybe some kinds of hate really are more dangerous than others.
Like other emotive forces, hate can mean something different to you than it does to me. That is why I wanted to pin down what kind of hate people had generally in mind. The dictionaries I consulted define it merely as intense dislike, but I think it has the connotation of something more: violent rejection of, the desire to punish, take revenge or obliterate the hated object. Those meanings are not in the dictionary, but I think they are in the air. Some people have hate fixations and revulsions about other biologic things, like breast feeding or body and facial hair. Huxley says in “A Cynic Looks At Life” that a man was stoned to death in New York for wearing a beard. He states that another man whose beard was grown in the likeness of contemporary portrayals of Jesus was locked up and persecuted to death by police.
How much of what is called hate is generated by an irritated, underfed cingular anterior cortex? My theory is that hormones dictate much of what humans think of as “our” feelings and govern far more of our actions than we might want to believe. Cognitively differentiating one form of hate or love from other forms can be a clue to which hormone complex is in command at the moment. A useful tool/technique for detaching one’s thoughts from ALL the impulses and urges welling up from the Inner Soup of visceral chemicals. Unless one is consciously occupying the catbird seat of awareness, unconscious urges and habits readily take the helm.
But I suppose your point of view is that people’s attempts to lop off this or that aspect of humanity have a non-material origin: cultural, societal, spiritual, or soul matters, not turbulence in the brain, dietary deficits, proximate strains on the nervous system, stacked neuroses, clashing pheromones, or harsh life conditioning. In your worldview the things I see as primary causes are tertiary manifestations of Will. Maybe? Don’t know.
Not on the subject of hate, but since a thin thread of Orwell”s “10-Minute Hate” against the Democrats and the Left in general is starting to creep into the comments, a biy of background on the people running things inside the Beltway these days: http://historyunfolding.blogspot.com/
BTW, the picture of the Left seen in some of these comments is – shall we say incomplete? Not all of us are holding perfumed hankies under our upturned noses as we look down them at the Lowah Clawsses, m’deah. Most of us see our cherished values under heavy fire, and a good many poor folks on the left see our lifelines taken away. In one case I know, a woman on disability, living in a tiny Section 8 apartment, whose ability to live alone has vastly improved her mental stability and life in general. BTW – there is nothing new about our current president. They were making movies about Huey Long when I was a kid. “Everything old in new again in the same way, in a different way….”
I know you need a bigger hopper, but I just want to join a request that´s already been made: something about ecology and its relation to and importance for the future would be nice…
Thanks for doing this blog, I´m thouroughly enjoying it!
Frank from Germany
I probably should not fan these flames, but it occurred to me that the whole M->F trans trend has something to do with amputation of the male archetype, instead of integration. Amputation both physical and psychological, and then complete shunning of the male archetype, not only internally, but externally.
This video popped up in a religious forum I participate in. It’s a rather lively presentation that, apart from its pro-LBGTQ advocacy and liberal interpretation of Paul, provides interesting and useful information about Roman Empire sexuality. Worth a look IMHO in connection with some aspects of the topic at hand.
Very thought provoking piece. As a first time reader here (sent from Naked Capitalism) I am truly glad to have been introduced to your writing.
You mention the aim of perfection be replaced with wholeness which I completely agree with and have tried to steer my own life and attitudes that way.
Interestingly, you write about Western English speaking history of virtues (sex and hate). This fits perfectly with your perfection/wholeness idea. Western peoples have been indoctrinated in a puritanical Abrahamic theology (even non-religious persons are still social indoctrinated by these world views due to their saturation and deep roots in western culture) where good/evil and one or the other (God is all good, devil is all evil; love is all good, hate is all evil; my music is all good, yours is all evil). Yet, in Eastern philosophies and older religions there was not this focus on zero sum ideas. Gods were complex beings with admirable qualities and failings. The individual seeks wholeness through a complex relation to their inner self and the community, not perfection (an idea that is abstract and changes depending on the values of the era and society).
For us to become a society that seeks wholeness and not perfection, we need to shed our deep puritanical roots, our ideology of salvation/damnation, and even our notions of good and evil. We need to acknowledge that each of us is capable of good and evil (evil is not just done by “others”). Whether it’s our ideas of community (foreigners vs. neighbors), sexuality (straight, gay, trans, bi), class (rich, poor), and even terrorism (suicide bombers, drone bombings; foreign terrorist, domestic terrorist). Even to think less of Genesis and Revelations, and more about the Sermon in the Mount.
Basically, to find wholeness we need to find empathy. To look in a mirror and see ourselves in even the worst of others as well as the best of others. To relate to the world as both an individuals and as one part of a community of billions who all have hopes and dreams like we do.
In a utopian ideal, imagine if every day each one of us did one thing to better another’s life. What would this do to better all our lives?
I am a middle class, relatively liberal city-dwelling millenial lady. (But an eccentric one at that). My brother is a lower class redneck (his word). That can make it odd to talk with my middle class liberal friends, as I really do notice the hatred toward lower classes. I see class as just another intersection of identity, but often find that my friends are incapable of seeing it that way. They don’t see ways that my rural, lower class brother is less privileged than upper class white men, or even less privileged than I am. And I was definitely raised never to say I hate anyone or anything, though of course I do.
I also notice that people get really defensive about these kinds of things, like men who get very defensive when women point out that we are treated to constant negative and harmful attention from men and do the whole “But not all men are like that!” thing. I am sure you get a lot of comments on articles like this from people saying “but not all people who fight injustice are hateful!”
My motto of the year is “If i am feeling defensive, it is usually because I know I am wrong.” So rather than lashing out when I feel defensive, I am choosing to notice why I feel that way and see if I can modify my behavior in the future to save myself the uncomfortable experience of defensiveness.
I stumble into this thread several days late, in order to offer readers a link to this blog post on the same subject. It’s less about the historical long view, and more about the psychology that has made us all Puritans:
I am not a catholic myself, but go to mass regularly and read up on Catholic issues because of my wife, a life-long Catholic. As such, I often question things that she just accepts, so occasionally I find out bits of information that go unnoticed by regular Catholics, and I feel I may be able to add to your saints conversation.
The Catholic church believes that all souls reconnected with God are saints. However, since acceptance into heaven is not determined by deeds (lest no man boast), and because we cannot know what is in someone’s heart, how can we know for sure if a person in communion with God or not? This is where the canonization process comes in.
You’re probably more familiar with the process than I am, but it seems the main idea is that the church is confirming after the fact that the person in question is in fact in heaven and is able to communicate with God on your behalf. It starts out with an investigation into their life, and then is proven by the fact that miracles (usually healings) occur when people ask for help of God through said person.
-I’m still fuzzy on why/how people ask for God’s help through old relatives or famous Saints. Why don’t people just ask God directly? (not a rhetorical question, if anyone wants to enlighten me, I’d appreciate it. I’m honestly curious. I haven’t been able to understand when people try to explain beyond, “it’s kind of a like peer pressure”)
As for the main topic, I have some mixed feelings on the benefits of hate, but it certainly has got me thinking and I always appreciate that Mr. Greer. I agree with you that it’s best to be honest and own one’s feelings, and hate is natural. However, I believe that as natural as feelings are, they do not have to control us, and we can choose what to expend energy on. So yes I agree, let’s acknowledge our own hatreds so that we can manage and examine our own motives and actions properly instead of denying them and acting in ignorance. But also look at the end results of the feeling to determine whether it’s something that should be nurtured or not. For my part, I do not find hatred to be very productive or helpful in my own life, it usually makes me feel bad and treat others badly. Perhaps I’m hating wrong 🙂
Brilliant post. I think the idea that amputating a necessary part of who we are won’t turn us all into angels instantly puts into words something I’ve been trying to express for a long time. I think one of the best examples of that is the stupid Hippie fantasy that the only reason there are any wars, famines, poverty, or natural disasters on Earth is money. That is, humans are naturally good, generous, and hard working, but because in Capitalist Modernity they have to work jobs for money in order to pay bills, they have been steered away from their natural angelic state and have become the greedy, murderous, and dishonest beings we happen to find all around us today. The solution is simple: in the Utopia future, there will be no money. Instead, people will work hard simply through the motivation to save the Earth, to contribute to the local community, or to fulfill their inner potential. And without money, food will be given away freely or produced directly by the people who need it, everyone will live in a mud hut with zero carbon footprint, and hateful ideologies like racism and homophobia will have disappeared too somehow.
The only problem with that fantasy, of course, is that nobody could ever be motivated simply by generosity and saving the Earth to put in the long hours, hard labor, and discomfort of actually producing the stuff needed for the day to day survival of a sizable human population. The motivation for that can pretty much only come from getting paid in one form or another. To argue that working a job for pay in order to buy stuff is a natural human state that can actually be a force for good is so anathema to the Hippie ideology that condemns greed (while catering to the upper middle class White populations of both coastal urban hubs) that no one would dare mention it in front of them, and yet that doesn’t make it any less true.
This post resonates with me in other contexts besides human instincts such as hate and sexuality. For example I used to be very shy as a teenager and young adult; this created lots of difficulties in my life. In many ways I unsuccessfully tried to rid myself of my shyness (seeing it as a negative part of myself), which only exacerbated my issues of social anxiety. I found that ultimately what has helped me the most in my adult life, is when feelings of shyness arise, I acknowledge to myself their existence without trying to rid myself of them or view them with shame. Instead I explore or work with them.
Paradoxically, by accepting shyness as an irremovable part of my nature, I’ve been able to transcend my shyness in my adult life and am more self-confident with social interaction and occasional public speaking.
On the “revolution of hate,” if these are the five stages:
1. A handful of avant-garde figures;
2. Hate-speech catches on among the young;
3. Slogans of getting out from under an outworn morality;
4. A high-profile Court case;
5. A decade to loud, public displays of hate
We’re at stage 3, just waiting for the obscenity trial. So the Summer of Hate should hit some time in the late 2020s.
It’s funny to think that Richard Spencer may be this generation’s Allen Ginsberg.
As a cyclical historian, I wonder what you think of the following theory, correlating the downward part of the cycle of a civilizations life with it’s attitude towards gender fluidity. Sounds like overgenerlization?:http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/sam-dorman/camille-paglia-transgender-mania-symptom-cultural-collapse
I rather share some of Chris@Fernglade world view – it is certainly a complex matter and hot buttons can burn alright. Finding oneself coming round to the same place again and again might tell us something of our own responsibility. I remember an interesting suggestion many years ago that provoking bad behavior in others was usually best avoided. (OK, there are no prescriptive rules for these things.) It was not good for them either.
I don’t think it was hate exactly but I must admit to feeling peculiar about motor cars. It was something more than resentment or repulsion in the months after my understanding of the dead-end that was climate change / resource usage really sank in personally.. It began to get a grip, and I had to firmly remind myself that the people inside these vehicles were the normal mix, and that I still had a motor car!
Patricia Matthews, sure, you’re right to criticize the ten-minute hate that we tend to see here against the democrats – one that I’m certainly guilty of participating in.
Let’s not forget that a large part of Trump’s voting base are middle class people who are struggling with a musical chairs economy and rising prices and stagnant pay in order to *maintain their unsustainable lifestyles*, who are therefore, knowingly or not, participants in the overseas adventures that are blowing back so spectacularly against North Americans and Western Europeans.
And on the post itself– Thank you for this.
My family consists mostly but not entirely of Democrats, who hate Trump and Trump voters, and so does much of my extended circle of friends. I voted for Trump, not out of any great love but because he represented a much better choice than Hillary Clinton on the issues of foreign war, immigration and free trade. That doesn’t sound particularly moronic to me, and so I occasionally enter into debate on the subject– though only online or via text, because I’m afraid of losing my livelihood if people in the liberal city I inhabit were to find out my views. When I do debate, my goal usually isn’t to convince anyone of my position, it’s literally just to convince them that a reasonable case can be made for the other side. You can imagine what sort of responses I field.
This is off-topic for this week’s post, so I understand if you don’t put it through….
I’m on p 110 of your book the Secret of the Temple, where it talks about the temples attracting lightning. You mention the rain associated with thunderstorms, but I’m surprised you left out another very relevant effect: the generation of fertilizer. Most of the nitrogen in the atmosphere is bound up as diatomic N2, which plants can’t use. A bolt of lightning splits those atoms and combines them with oxygen, to form various NOx compounds, which are then washed from the air by rain into the soil, where they act as fertilizers. So, anything that causes more lighning to occur in an area is effectively providing a source of fertilizer for the plants. Apologies if you talk about this later in the book and I just haven’t gotten there yet.
“Angry people click more.”
Are there two Shane’s here?
Sorry for not reading all contributions if I have missed this, but aren’t the reactions being described standard fare for sufferers of cognitive dissonance?
There is an interesting conversation getting a head of steam in Australia right now. A survey was done of University students regarding their experiencing of sexual harassment. Statistics wise, the survey was very seriously flawed and it’s conclusions should be taken with a very small grain of salt, but the media have climbed aboard the righteous indignity train and it has left the station for a downhill run with no brakes.
Last nights news featured a ten minute interview with a gaggle of a dozen female students carrying placards, and mouthing the usual idiocies about lack of respect, etc. The hate on display was nuanced, but visible.
It will be interesting to see whether the medias usual inability to concentrate is trumped by the temptation to create a full scale distraction from some very serious issues that need careful public attention or not. The train wreck at the end will not benefit any university student at all, but that will not matter to the small group whose agenda will get a week or so on the headlines.
Idea for the extra week: could you provide us with some of the most outrageous comments you’ve ever gotten? Even if not word for word, just the general gist would be fascinating.
One thing I’ve noticed, most guys who say “not all men!” will do the exact same thing the woman was just complaining about. So the “If i am feeling defensive, it is usually because I know I am wrong,” in this case is still very true.
Thanks, JMG! Another fine, thought provoking essay as usual. I was contemplating it, when I came across your response to observe the emotion, see if it was useful, and let it pass into the next. That nails it in my experience.
Oh, speaking of the hate revolution starting, I should also mention a new dating app called “Hater”: it matches people based on what they hate rather than what they like.
Here’s a map of the most-hated topics in all 50 states:
(Some of it is pretty funny.)
Fortunately, this is a pretty innocuous aspect of the revolution, if indeed that’s what’s getting started. It’s understandable that people, fed up with getting matched with people who share their interests but who have qualities they despite, would want to try something different.
Other Tom, I hope you’re right, but that doesn’t mesh at all with my personal experience in half a dozen corners of the country.
Keith, then own those emotions, let yourself experience them, and let them go as new emotions rise into your awareness. It works just as well.
Michael, I tend to put my money on the evolutionary approach.
KM, that’s an interesting point. Lack of self-awareness manifesting, in this case, as a loss of any sense that there should be a connection between what you claim to believe and what you do? Hmm.
Will, also hmm! It so happens that I’m up to my eyeballs right now in the recent annotated edition of Yeats’ A Vision, and if I do a post on reincarnation (currently the favorite subject for the last Wednesday post) I’ll be citing that at length, so a more general discussion of Yeats might be far from inappropriate.
Stefania, good! That sort of leap of awareness is one of the things magical practice is meant to do, for what it’s worth; it’s not a guaranteed result, but it does tend to happen fairly often.
Oilman, I have a great deal of discomfort with the way that labels like “psychopath” have been used recently as an all-purpose label for people whose actions one dislikes; rather than explore the possibility that they might have reasons for those actions, a lot of people simply say, “They’re psychopaths” or “sociopaths,” end of discussion. I’m not at all sure this is anything but a way of pretending that the people who don’t follow a given ideology are less than human…
Bryce, so noted! It’s in the hopper.
Frank, exactly. Even when the people who are the targets of that hate really are dirtbags, it’s the obsessive quality of the hatred itself that interests me.
Goats, trust me, I fielded a lot of that sort of thing just for predicting in advance that Trump was going to win and explaining why. (Though it wasn’t half as hysterical as the screams of outrage I’ve gotten every time I’ve pointed out the class dimension to that hatred…)
As for getting involved in the world of old-fashioned fraternal societies and initiatory orders, there’s precisely one way to do it: join one. You mention that you know somebody who’s in the Grange; are you a member yet? If not, the door is right there in front of you. (Full disclosure; I’m a life member of the Grange, and past Worthy Master of North Side Grange #727, Seattle, WA — and on that basis I can assure you that joining will take you right into the heart of the old system, funny handshakes and all.)
Robert, Obama and Bush II both got plenty of hate thrown at them in the months following their election, but here again, I compare that with the 24/7 hatefest currently being directed at Trump, and I think there’s been a significant shift. Yes, the involvement of the mass media is one important driver of that change. As for “just an elected official,” to my mind it’s precisely that so many Americans no longer think of the president as just an elected official, and have turned him into a dumping ground for a gargantuan mass of psychological projections, that’s played a key role in making our present politics so dysfunctional.
At the preliminaries for my annual physical last Tuesday, the nurse asked me the questions used to test for dementia. Totally missing was the old standby, “Who’s President of the United States?” My guess is, too many nurses didn’t want to hear a flood of hot language in the process of seeing if Grandma was senile! I don’t blame them.
Erik, yep, and we could get into a long discussion about the use of the term “hate” as a thoughtstopper — a bit of rhetoric meant to get people to stop thinking and start reacting.
Ramon, as an outsider, yeah, I have serious doubts about a lot of the things the Catholic church teaches and does, and you’ve summarized some of them.
Rita, ding! You get tonight’s gold star for a very perspicacious comment. The notion that the privileged are more sensitive than the peasants goes back a long way, as “The Princess and the Pea” demonstrates, and the psychologist Alfred Adler pointed out a century ago the way that people can use “cater to my illness!” as a way of exerting passive-aggressive power. This whole issue is one that I watch with a certain wry interest; my wife has celiac disease, though she’s otherwise the opposite of the sensitive snowflake type — working class background will do that — and we have to maneuver around the fact that there are a lot of people who use real or assumed food sensitivities as a way of asserting power.
Anthony, okay, those are in the hopper!
SMJ, bingo. We are all bigots — bigotry being, after all, the habit of making judgments about people on the basis of the categories to which we assign them, and that’s something that everybody without exception does all the time — and it’s wiser to accept that and work with it than to deny it and be controlled by our bigotries against those categories of people we assign the label of “bigots”…
Bill, also a workable plan!
Sean, I don’t believe I said that any feeling should be unmanaged. Every emotion taken to extremes, especially when a person lets themselves wallow in it, can land them in a world of hurt. Hate is far from the only emotion that can fester and torment the mind — and it can also be handled constructively. Fortunately, given a willingness to gain self-knowledge and exercise self-discipline, the rich palette of emotions we all have — hate among them — can exist without messing us over.
Patricia, too funny. “Everything old is new again…”
Bruno, okay, that one’s in the hopper! I’m going to have to create a document with all the suggestions…
Hapigreenman, was that a function of your hate, or of the way you handled (or mishandled) that common human emotion?
Justin, that’s a good point. Hmm!
It just occurred to me in my 4:00 a.m. haziness that perhaps one reason you popped the cork on all these bottled-up emotions that have come spilling forth in disturbing torrents in the comments here is to gain insight, much better than from tea leaves, of the real issues we face, by following the flow toward the great gulf soon to be revealed. I.e., where are the battle lines really being drawn among the diverse factions of the American psyche? What are the specific landmines we must be aware of?
Even though it isn’t at Victorian levels, it seems to me that dysfunctional, manipulative attitudes toward sexuality are still pretty mainstream in this country. I recently learned that in Sweden when young public school students get sex ed classes they don’t stop at just teaching precautions. They also go on to include the good stuff and explain how that works to the students. No surprise that they grown up to be sane and kind. Even so, it would be impossible to do that in this country. Educators would get hounded out of polite society for even suggesting such a thing here.
Superb article John.
Really enjoyed that! My own experience with the comfortable liberal middle to upper-middle classes chimes with the thrust of your argument that hate is the new sex. I do find the hatred of President Trump fascinating and why a certain cohort in society seem to be so obsessive about it.
By and large, it appears driven by class, well-to-do middle classes seem to despise the boorish and sheer crassness of the Trump persona over and above any legitimate concerns about his policies. I have a theory that Trump is the first wave a a new era of politicians who will re craft Trumpian politics, e.g. nationalistic, protectionist and hawkish on borders/refugees but packaged in a more sober, respectful and “establishment” manner.
Of course, every time I mention the class dynamics behind the rise of Trump or the Brexit result, the conversation goes very awkward and silent.
Serious interweb troubles yesterday cut short my comment. This may be a good thing as I have been occasionally guilty of an overly verbose style! ;-)! On the other hand it may just have meant that I was unceremoniously cut short through a system wide drama (the attempted explanation by the big telco appeared to be evasive to my ears). The absolute cheek of the big telco to throttle me for no apparent reason… Of course the big telco may have taken offense at my overly verbose style and this may also be a possibility, although it may be somewhat remote and a bit Monty Python-esque. We will never know the truth, which I have been told by unreliable sources is: Out there! Apologies I do amuse myself sometimes.
Oh, before I forget, I’d like to chuck in a vote for the Storm-watch post as we just had the warmest July (winter month) on record. It was an epic warm and dry month right across the continent, although that just meant a dry winter month here which to be honest was quite pleasant. Incidentally, winter has returned with an absolute thump over the past week or so and looks set to continue like that for the next few weeks. I have set this farm up for very variable weather conditions and it does look like a good option, but time will tell.
Hope you are getting some rain in your part of the world after the hot and dry summer? The heatwave in your corner of the planet was remarkable, although those weather conditions would not have been noticed down here as anything out of the ordinary. You may find that your growing season has extended?
It is a complex matter isn’t it? The thing I sort of feel about the situation is that provoking others puts you at risk of potential blow back and the old golden rule of “do unto others” has much to recommend itself – if just to keep you out of trouble.
Re: 30 Aug post, how about education? I believe you haven’t said all you have to say about it. I seem to remember you once said that a classical education in China involved all sorts of apparently useless things because the purpose was to teach how to think rather than what to think – I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the topic.
@ Clejan Luval, my heart goes out to you. I’ve seen the same dynamic play out at other spaces that got dominated by angry, self righteous people playing the victim. Also, I’m someone who physically transitioned and now regrets it, and works to integrate my damaged male aspect. I think the points you raise about amputation and transgenderism are quite valid. In my experience, it works both ways; that is m2f or f2m both appear to me to have amputated body parts and selfhood. I’ve met well integrated transpeople, as well as many who haven’t gone under the knife. It’s hard for me sometimes to keep balanced, to not fear people who just appear gender non-conforming, thinking that they’re brainless SJWs and thereby myself adopting a brittle, brainless and bigoted stance. This is made ironic by the fact that I go by a woman’s name and often wear skirts! I’m grateful that I can see the harm that trying to amputate my femininity would add, since it’s so easy to think in extremes. I’m also very lucky to be very close to queer and trans friends who remind me by their example that many queer and trans people are flexible, nuanced, comfortable with complexity, and deep in their thinking.
Hate as original sin. I’ve been thinking for a while now that the modern Western morality is built on the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities. Sometime during the 19th Century God dies, and with the death of God morality had no roots. So you have nihilism and ideology left. Ideology did not work, and nihilism is no basis for anything, but did have something you could not rationally argue away. But the Holocaust was something you can’t argue is without meaning, because pain is the one thing you can not argue away with rationality.
So that horror became the basis of modern morality. A rationalist struggles with concepts of Good, Virtuous and Right, but there was finally an example of something so self-evidently not Good, that it became the basis of morality. That is the refence point. That is why hate, racism, facism etc are the ultimate evil.
@Mable Much of the Left now hates men, or rather, to put it in Jungian terms, we often hate what we repress (individually or collectively) and project our hatred onto others, and the Left is now repressing the masculine archetype, as author Susan Faludi and film maker Cassie Jaye have pointed out. If only intersectionality theorists would give a hoot about systemic oppression of males, I would take them more seriously. As it is, I think they are more motivated by the need for power and repression of the masculine archetype. Also if only they would see that people sometimes do nasty things to each other even if they are not “oppressors”, and that human beings are more complex (as JMG pointed out in his now no longer freely available brilliant essay on the Rescue Game) than the narrow categories of oppressor, oppressed and rescuer would lead us to believe.
I submitted three comments Friday AM and none have been published. Did I violate the rules in some way? Or is there a technical glitch?
One more for the hopper.
The transgender topic fascinates me. It amazes me that a group of people that accounts for .3% of the population gets so much attention these days. It seems that activists within this demographic have a lot of political clout at the moment in comparison to their size. I think Trump uses this to his advantage to rally his base; a large group of people in this country struggle and they are ignored or derided by liberal coastal elites, but a relatively small group of people gets attention for problems that a good portion of americans see as frivolous or due to a psychological disorder. The amount of outrage people had for the transgender military ban in comparison to how they talk about working class people just reinforces the perception that coastal elites don’t care about rural/working people.
I welcome the greater acceptance of transgender folks in our society. I like it any time someone challenges cultural norms. But I think part of the movement is overplaying its hand at the moment by promoting the idea that children should be put on hormone blockers and hormones when the best data we have shows that most trans children will identify with their birth sex by the time they grow up. A bunch of sterilized people who have made irreversible changes to their bodies will set back the movement. From the point of view of peak oil, I don’t know how far down the slope of decline things like hormone treatments and cosmetic surgery will be available. The desire for such a small segment of the population to change the way everyone talks about gender and sex also has problems. I find myself upsetting people on both ends of this conversation. For example, Caitlyn Jenner is a woman if we are talking about gender. I will use the pronoun “her” and for the most part think of her as female. But when it comes to sex, you can’t change that from male to female or vice versa. You can change from male to transwoman or female to transman. I don’t think their is anything wrong with that, but saying that in some circles gets you labelled a transphobe.
You have some hermaphroditic characters in one of your novels and I wonder if you have any thoughts on this phenomenon and what it signals about our society.
Note: Blankenhorn already speaks of “tech” as if it were a living entity with agency and will. Now watch how he speaks of “money” in the same way. Meanwhile –
The trans issue is about a whole lot more than just the .3% of the population, that’s the reason why it’s so interesting.
This is the sort of things they are making children do when they are 6,7,8 – the idea is to identify “gender-nonconforming” kids so that they can be put on puberty blockers before actual puberty sets in to make hormonal gender transition therapy more effective. The American Pediatric Association doesn’t approve of this, because most children who fall into the category of “unsure if they are male or female” before puberty later identify as either heterosexual or homosexual persons of their biological sex. I can’t find a link, but among people who had a confused gender identity as children, homosexuality is much more common, which makes perfect sense to me.
It’s incredibly creepy and will cause real harm – I imagine the present era will be looked back upon like the era of lobotomies and electroshock therapy is today.
There’s also a corporate motive – a person who requires lifelong hormonal treatments is a lifetime consumer of pharmaceuticals – and as has happened with many painkillers and antidepressants, like Valium and Oxycotin, drug companies are always eager to ‘help’ the scientific process when a profitable new illness presents itself.
And of course there’s the cold hard facts that every kid who is successfully convinced to undergo life altering hormonal therapy today will lose access to those drugs by age 40 due to peak everything, and the suicide rate, already at 40% among that community, will rise higher.
@ someofparts– You know, I am pretty sure people managed to figure out both the nice and the naughty parts of sex all on their own, without government educators, for quite a long time. I imagine that most people still do, even when they’re deprived of the benevolent aid of bureaucrats.
John, interesting. I saw the LOVE TRUMPS HATE slogan all over the place in the runup to the election, and Hillary herself used it in campaign rallies. As for letting emotions flow, no argument there!
Dennis, “tribal” is one of those weaselly words that always gets my guard up, because most of the people who use it have no idea what a tribe actually is. You’re right that the erasure of ethnic and cultural differences a la fizzy sugar water sales pitches doesn’t work, but xenophilia is as important in our psyches as xenophobia — we may listen warily at the gate for footsteps, but we also go looking for peoples we’ve never met before to trade, fornicate, and just sit around and talk.
Lathechuck, setting up such a thing would be a huge amount of work; I’m open to it if someone else is willing to make the arrangements, but I’m still way behind on my email and have writing deadlines looming up…
Prizm, oh, I get that; I got the usual male programming while growing up, and my encounters with the cutting edge of the New Age scene didn’t help — I don’t know how many times I was told by the well-meaning, in the face of various griefs, that crying would make me feel better, for example. (It doesn’t. It just gives me a sinus headache.) You’re right, though, that emotions act like energy, and have to be discharged or they just sit there and ferment; it’s just a matter of finding the right way to discharge them, and that seems to vary from one person to another.
TonyTony, of course not! There wasn’t a shortage of sex during England’s Victorian period, either; people were just hypocritical about it, the same way so many people in America today are hypocritical about hating. As for the trajectory leading to the Revolution of Hate — good. You got my point.
Gkb, and that’s the sort of work that will have to be done once we, as a culture, get past pretending that it’s only those bad lower-class people over there who do all the hating.
Walt, fascinating. That would certainly make sense of the way that hating the so-called haters has become such a fixture among the privileged these days. As for the fifth Wednesday post, definitely not cat pictures; if I were to post pictures of any kind of animal, it would probably be something nobody appreciates, such as bats. (I’m a great fan of bats. Any animal that eats twice its body weight in mosquitoes in a single night is a friend of mine.)
James, excellent! Like TonyTony, you got the point I was making. As for Milo Yiannopolous, exactly; he’s shaping up to be the Hugh Hefner of hate.
Karim, fair enough. I admit I don’t know a great deal about Islam — of all the prophetic religions, it’s the one that’s interested me least — and so I’m entirely willing to be told I’m mistaken about it. One thing, though; from my outsider’s perspective, it looks as though in Islam, it’s women who are expected to amputate parts of themselves; some of the rules governing female behavior under Shari’a law certainly look like amputation from here. Is that a mistaken perception on my part?
Fred, I don’t think it’s evolutionary biology that drives that quest for melodrama; if that were the case, it would be universal, and it’s not. (There are plenty of people who get by without needing the feeling of imminent apocalypse.) I’ve long thought that in many cases, at least, people who long for apocalypse lead boring, frustrating, unfulfilling lives, but don’t have the courage to chuck it all and go do something else. Hoping that Jesus or somebody will show up and change their lives for them is a useful emotional crutch in such situations.
Maria, funny. Did you feel the same way about those obviously incompetent presidents we’ve had recently — and we’ve had quite a few — who belonged to the other party?
Fred, while I certainly agree with the issue of personal responsibility, your choice of an example is dubious at best; you’ve swallowed the propaganda of the dieting industry hook, line, and sinker. The “obesity epidemic” is partly the product of changing standards — Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12 dress, for heaven’s sake — and partly the product of medical issues next to nobody is willing to talk about. There’s the epigenetic effects of dieting during pregnancy, which nobody did until recently — fetuses can’t tell the difference between a diet and a famine, and respond to their mothers’ diets by switching on genes that maximize the efficiency of calorie storage in body fats. There’s the fact that food animals in the US are fed drugs to make them gain unnatural amounts of weight, and there are measurable traces of those same drugs in the meat and other animal products, not to mention in agricultural runoff and thus in the water supply. Does anybody draw the obvious conclusion that those drugs are causing weight gain in the people who eat those products? Surely you jest.
I could go on at quite some length. The whole subject is relevant to the theme of this post, too, because fat people are among the very few groups in contemporary America whom everyone agrees it’s okay to hate. I’ve mentioned the way that privileged liberal Americans go into full-on hate speech when they talk about working class white people, but if you really want to hear the kind of over-the-top nastiness that would make an old-fashioned Klansman look on in awe, get them talking about fat people.
(Yes, I have a dog in this fight. My wife is fat, due partly to being systematically starved until age eight by a psychotic parent, and partly to medical conditions over which she has no control; she eats rather less than I do; and I’ve seen her subjected to the most unforgivable kinds of bullying and abuse by people who think her condition gives them the right to behave like thugs. And with that, we now return to your regularly scheduled Ecosophia post.)
I’d take issue with that .3 % figure. The basic focus of the transgender rights activists is eliminating the notion that everyone is either male gender or female gender. That is, there are a lot of people who fit into one side or the other of the gender binary like the traditional square peg in a round hole.
That said, there are a lot of things they’re doing that I consider counter-productive. Take the “personal pronoun” thing. I have enough trouble remembering people’s names, I’m not going to remember a unique pronoun for each person I know. Since I absolutely refuse to use the plural pronoun “they” as a singular, they’ll simply have to suffer with zie (zir, zis, zirself). Assuming I remember, which I probably won’t in conversation.
I hadn’t seen the idea of using puberty blockers. There are a lot of things going on that I only see the fringes of – I’m absolutely not an activist of any stripe. I take a lot of this stuff as working out, in public and at high volume, what the eventual resolution is going to be.
Considering the lack of attention I paid to the campaigns, you could well be right. “Better Together” is the one I remember. I spent all of the limited attention I paid to the election at 538, which is why I’m still bemused at the notion that the polls were predicting an absolutely assured Clinton victory. 538 was giving approximately 2 to 1 odds, and anyone who thinks that’s any kind of a guarantee should stay away from the ponies.
Also, “Love Trumps Hate” may be a cute saying (I like it in the cute saying category) but it violates one major rule of advertising: never, ever use the opposition’s name in that kind of advertising.
Fred, yes, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth is probably your best bet as far as a primer about magic; it covers most of the basics. If you have questions after that, I can recommend other books. As for how I deal with the nastiness I field as a blogger, I got far worse from bullies when I was a child, and at this point I’ve come to enjoy the spit-slinging tirades that come my way from those who can’t bear to have their version of the conventional wisdom challenged.
Eric, no question, if you get stuck in an emotional state — any emotional state — the results are not good. You figured out how to let your hate complete its cycle and turn into something else, which is a healthy approach to that — and to every other emotion, too.
Myriam, no, it’s not easy. Nobody ever promised us that life would be!
Chris, exactly! There are times — very few of them, to be sure, but it does happen — when a good solid punch to a face that desperately needs it, or some slightly less overt version of the same reaction, is the proper way for hate to flow away. There are also times when the memory of some really unpleasant event is a good way of learning not to do something.
Iuval, ouch! I’m very sorry to hear that. The saying that no good deed goes unpunished is cynical, no question, but too often true. I take it there’s no way you can amend the situation at this point.
Gkb, exactly. I don’t accept the claim that matter is the primary reality and everything else is an epiphenomenon produced by matter; au contraire, matter is an abstraction based on our representations, which are themselves a product of will. Approach it from that point of view and the world really does look different…
Patricia, that’s why I specifically pointed to the privileged, well-to-do part of the Left; I thought that would make it tolerably clear I wasn’t talking about everybody left of center. In point of fact, I’ve found that if you want a touchstone to figure out who’s sincere in their liberal beliefs, get them talking about impoverished working class white people in the flyover states. If your liberal takes their concerns as seriously as he or she takes the concerns of other classes that get the short end of the stick, you’ve got someone who actually believes in liberal politics; if your liberal goes for the hate speech, you’ve got someone who’s using leftward cant to justify the defense of his or her own privilege. I’m pleased to say I’ve met plenty of liberals in the former category — and sorry to say that I’ve met plenty in the latter category, too.
Frank, no question, that hopper’s going to have to be upgraded to the extra large size… 😉
Iuval, well, yes, that’s part of it.
Newtonfinn, thanks for the link.
Geoph, I’ll pass on the utopian ideal; doing one thing each day to better another’s life sounds great, until you remember that that’s what the Nazis thought they were doing, too. I’d suggest, instead, that at least once each day we all let someone else do something we disapprove of, without ranting or arguing or sulking or anything….
Mable, many thanks for this! Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten much “but not all liberals are like that!” from my readership — not sure why, but it seems promising to me. I’d be even more impressed if men stopped trotting out the same line… 😉
Du Fu, thanks for the link.
Rahul, excellent! Yes, and that’s a great example of the same thing — both in its claim that you can make the world perfect by amputating some part of human experience, and in its underlying hypocrisy — as you say, it’s the well-to-do end of society that feeds and fosters such notions, all the while profiting from the system they claim they abhor.
Beneath, that’s a very good example. Many thanks.
Steve, okay, that’s three of you who got the point of my comment. Thank you.
Iuval, hmm. From my perspective, it’s oversimplified; there’s a broad shift, over the lifespan of a society, from the post-Dark Age condition where everything’s more or less driven by biological instincts to the pre-Dark Age condition where everything’s more or less driven by abstract intellect completely severed from biological realities, and attitudes toward gender are simply one marker of that much broader shift. I really do need to update “How Civilizations Fall” to include Vico’s changing modes of consciousness, don’t I?
Phil, that last comment to me was the kicker — you still had a car! That’s very often the subtle background to dysfunctional hate — we hate in others what we can’t stand in ourselves, and the projection is an excuse for not changing our own actions and lives.
Steve, yes, I can well imagine!
Other Michelle, that’s a very good point and it’s not one I included in the book. Thank you! As I mention in the book in various places, The Secret of the Temple is a very preliminary overview of a lost body of knowledge, and it doesn’t surprise me at all to see someone else pointing out things I missed — in fact, I was kind of hoping for that…
Gottfried, and thus are worth more to advertisers… 😉
JMG, thanks for your empathy. It is not clear how to amend the situation. If the goal was merely to punish the folks who feel entitled to my energy, then there probably is a way, but I would need to raise money to pay a lawyer and so far I have not found an organization that would take this up. I don’t really want to punish them, I would prefer some sort of reconciliation–they are like my grandkids and great grandkids–the original people left, and this is the second and third generation. I have looked both on the Left and Right for an organization to sponsor this, and I am still looking–let me know if you have any ideas. I was hoping there would be some way to use the situation as an opportunity to take the log out of the Left’s eye, to show that not only white people, or men, can behave xenophobically or feel entitled or supremacist (history already shows this, but this would be a more visceral example, with traditional “oppressed” acting outside the roles allocated to them by the Rescue Game).
Onething, yep — one in Australia and one in Kentucky.
Eagle Eye, yes, and that’s another very useful lens through which to see it.
Will, the problem is that none of them have really been outrageous. Trolls are boring; most of them don’t seem to have learned to use language for anything other than abuse, and so their comments are dreary sequences of noise that try to be offensive.
Mac, you’re welcome and thank you.
James, the Revolution of Hate is on its way! Pretty soon we’ll see people sporting buttons saying MAKE HATE, NOT PEACE…
Patricia M, hah! Thank you.
Patricia O., that wasn’t the primary reason for the post, but it’s certainly one of the fringe benefits.
Someofparts, the fact that the schools can do that in Sweden suggests to me that parents are already pretty likely to give their kids good advice on that subject…
Forecastingintelligence, exactly. Very few people are willing to talk about the extent to which the American left has been coopted by the class interests of the well-to-do.
Chris, so noted! I plan on doing Stormwatch posts regularly, as interesting links and news tidbits come up — this month’s happened to get preempted by my subconscious. 😉
SMJ, that’s not a topic for a post, it’s a topic for an entire series of posts — and yes, it’s one I still need to do. Hmm…
Tony, that makes sense: those who aren’t sure what they’re for can at least decide what they’re against.
Fred, all three of them were published Friday morning — scroll up and you’ll find them.
Greg, that’s a huge issue. The thing I notice is that many, many people in the transgender scene are treating gender in a weirdly contradictory way. On the one hand, they argue that gender is a social construct, as indeed it is; on the other, they insist that someone born a man, say, is “really” a woman — as though there’s a fixed category of woman-ness to which (s)he belongs. Or you get people who claim to be nongendered because they don’t happen to fit any of the really rather narrow gender categories offered by our society. Why not instead say, “These categories suck; I’m male (or female), but I don’t choose to be that narrowly defined kind of male (or female)”?
There’s a lot more to it than that, to be sure, but I keep on wondering why so many people seem to think that gender categories — those culturally constructed, constantly changing, endlessly contested, and really rather fragile labels — are a reality into which the raw diversity of human bodies and minds must be force-fitted, with as much Procrustean stretching and lopping as current medical technology allows…
Patricia M., of course! If you pretend that technology just does stuff all by itself, you don’t have to talk about the grubby human motives that actually determine which technologies get developed and which languish on history’s shelf of might-have-beens.
Your post is prescient and timely, as it often is. As others have said, the Revolution of Hate is in full force already. All you have to do is go on Twitter to see people from both the left and the right gorging themselves on pure hate. It’s almost enough to make me blush at times. And then there is this. The alt-right and associated groups got kicked off Patreon, Pay Pal, and others for hate speech in violation of TOS. They have now set up their own fundraising page called – get this – Hatreon. http://www.newsweek.com/hatreon-alt-right-richard-spencer-andrew-anglin-white-nationalism-white-644546
I’m sorry to hear of your wife’s condition and I did not intend to touch a nerve. My perspective comes from a person who has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and recurring thyroid cancer, and despite all that was able to lose 35 pounds in the past three years with exercise and watching the calories. The tipping point in exercise was doing Muay Thai Boxing two times a week for an hour each time. I leave drenched in sweat and find it actually is good at clearing my mind too. If I don’t focus on the present moment, I get punched in the face.
My pre-diabetic blood sugar levels dropped to normal, my BMI is now normal, and my blood pressure is still on the high end but headed downward. Our health insurance is through my husband’s employer and they are self-insured so offer an incentive to have BMI, blood sugar level, blood pressure, and cholesterol in certain ranges for a credit of $500 for each adult who meets targets toward the deductible of $2500 for the family. They have been doing this incentive for the past 6 years. They do offer all sorts of programs and coaching to help people. I am surprised that more insurance companies don’t have this in place.
My personal responsibility angle comes from experience with people in my life. One of my boxing class mates started taking classes to lose weight because he is pre-diabetic. In a year of classes 2 -3 times a week, plus going to the gym 3 times a week, he has gained weight and he is still obese and pre-diabetic. He was complaining about his state, and I asked him why he thought things hadn’t changed and he said he still eats the same fast food twice a day and he drinks 12 beers each night. My sister-in-law eats an entire container of ice cream each night, a whole half gallon and then complains about her weight, bad knees, and backache. I have a good friend who lost 100 pounds through cutting out the processed foods and doing daily exercise, only to gain it all back when a relationship turned sour and she started eating whole trays of brownies and double dinners to console herself. My grandmother who grew up during the Depression was a secret middle-of-the-night eater. She was always at least 50 pounds overweight and around us she hardly at anything, but she would get up in the middle of the night, stand at fridge and just eat cold leftovers with her hands straight from the containers. I caught her one night while getting up to go the bathroom.
I have compassion for all of these people in my life and I still see that there is personal responsibility they could take to stop eating themselves into ill health.
My oldest daughter was just diagnosed beginning of July with celiac at 17, and the rest of us in the family got the blood draw last week and are awaiting the results. My daughter felt tired all the time the past few years no matter how much sleep she got and so our doctor luckily listened after the second time we said something and ordered blood tests for celiac, as well as Lyme and some other possible culprits. Changing her diet has her feeling like a new person.
After I typed all this out, I realize that explaining things never makes someone else feel better. So let me end with this – I said some things that caused an expected impact over there with you and I said them based in the general agreement reality of weight and health. We all have a different view of life based on our personal experiences. It was not my intention to insult or degrade you or your wife and I hope to be contribution in the future toward constructive dialogue.
Very interesting post, and you are right about not condemning any human feeling as “unacceptable”, at the end you will suffer the “withdrawal syndrome” and things end getting worse, as it happened in the XVII century with the “Big Witch Hunt” mainly in Central Europe and North America where the extremelly sexually repressed population project, on all those poor thousands women burned alive, all the dark side (“abominations” they call) of their repressed sexual desires
I have another question for you = what do you think are the root causes of the “chronic pain epidemic” that people in US is suffering where the medical associations said there are around 100 millions people with chronic pain problems. It is mainly a pharmaceutical scam or there are other “real” reasons?
Why is not the case in other developed countries around the world?
Could be a “sign” of the coming collapse of the fabric of the society as was the case with the alcoholic epidemy at the end of the USSR?
Sorry, I forget to include a link where I have readen the statistics of 100 million prople in US with chronic pain:
The article is from 2011, now could be even worse
Thanks for the excellent essay (yet again).
I recall an article at Counterpunch by Alexander Cockburn on the attempt by one of the despicable Milibands to get an internship with a radical NYC magazine whose editor asked the applicant something along the lines of
“So, what’s your pure hatred?”
And when Mr Bland replied ” I don’t hate anything” he was toast.
The choice of Hitler as a personification of The Ultimate Evil has always intrigued me. There have been many tyrants throughout history who have attempted to exterminate entire nations, but we don’t see people today comparing their political opponents to Genghis Khan, Sadam Hussein or the Young Turks. It may be partly a symptom of the philo/antisemitism in America which is also the reason we think the Israel vs Palestine conflict is so important, but I think the timing also played a role. World War II was the time when America finally stopped being isolationist, and turned imperial, so it’s only natural that we would pick our first first superpower-sized foreign adversary that didn’t have a massive cultural connection with the US for the role. It’s also interesting how since then, the US has essentially projected a “Hitler” image onto every minor foreign leader it has a conflict of interests with and wants to remove.
@JMG – sorry to hear about Sara’s medical conditions. I have so many friends for which something like that is true – fat, fatigued, not feeling well – and “You’d feel better if you lost some weight” is what they routinely get. Actually, I found some basic Green Wizardry helped me – walking, eating as close to nature as I could – but the rest (in my case) was water retention. And I’m ashamed to say I was feeling bad about being around a bunch of sick old ladies. And OK – point made about you were talking about leftists with affluenza, but there was this undercurrent in the comments that got to me.
Oh – how could I get a check for the tip jar to you now? I was going to do so for Lughnassad.
@ John Roth re personal pronouns – my own personal take is, “It was good enough for Chaucer, it was good enough for Shakespeare, and it it’s good enough for me.” Your Mileage May Vary.
I’d really like another edition like Stormwatch. There’s so much going on in the world, that keeping track of all the currents and understanding what you are seeing is difficult.
But I’ll probably find whatever you choose to write of interest.
While it is true that Obama hatred in some circles matched that of Trump hatred, it still seems to me that Trump hatred is more overwhelming, taking over facebook and ending friendships; plus, the media was relatively kind to Obama, and certainly his own party, whereas with Trump the rejection has been all but unanimous in all institutions except of course those who voted for him. Furthermore, people in general and I think this includes Europe, have a newfound strong interest in politics that is rather new. They don’t give it a rest. What irritates me is that the liberal, democratic, college educated cohort who hated Bush and with fairly good reason, now hate Trump about 50 times more, and with far less actual reason. The level of anti Trump propaganda in the media is astonishing, as is the credulity with which people swallow it.
One example that comes to mind is the hysteria about him being anti woman or anti gay. He has no history of that that I am aware of, whereas Bush campaigned as being against abortion and lots of conservatives voted for him thinking he would overthrow Roe vs Wade. Bush played the Christian card. Trump never discusses religion, which I find refreshing.
I think part of the problem with the obesity epidemic is that people were misled for a couple of decades as to which foods to avoid, and cheap, fattening food was available. The public advice was almost 180 degrees off, and it is hard to blame people when they are quite confused. Now, they have ingrained habits. But perhaps something like you say would get their attention, because what I see is total complacency about overweight, including in children, which is quite common where I live in Appalachia.
JMG, I think most of the left-leaning people who still read this blog are aware that affluent USA liberals are not popular with both you and many of those commenting. Those who are easily offended have already left.
The trouble is, while the people you are complaining about are nasty to the working classes, and often also to white men, the injustices that they are complaining about persist. Yes, some people probably cry rape too easily, but meanwhile other people are raped and then murdered while little is done. Canada has a real problem with this, and I’m pretty sure the USA does too. That’s just one example; I could also point to figures describing per capita deaths at police hands towards black or First Nations people in the USA. So I really hope we don’t see a backlash against the people who have actually continued to suffer the entire time the people you are complaining about have been posturing.
I meant to add also that when the advice about diet is so wrong, it makes it very difficult to lose weight. A parallel would be that the advice given to diabetics guarantees that their condition is not controlled and worsens, therefore they lose what little will they might have had, since their efforts come to naught.
I like Paglia. Lots of common sense. I also note that the attention being paid to gender issues is way out of proportion and becoming a morass of endless upping of the ante.
I hope it is just a tiny minority engaging in the male bashing, but maybe not. It does trickle all over the place. We are indeed becoming a nation of non males, that is, no real males. It’s a foolish game to play, but then again, we are probably a culture in decline and its a symptom.
Women are such fools. I am more disappointed in them the longer I live. They do not understand themselves nor men, and do not know their power, nor how to use it wisely. I hate to say it but men would be wise to ignore their complaints, as women do not and never will want emasculated men. But men have little choice but to please women since that is their reason for existence. But women need men to survive, so convincing them to castrate themselves is not a wise move.
JMG, I only stumbled upon the Archdruid Report mere days before it was closed and really enjoyed what little of it I got to read. I’ll be honest that I don’t know what to think about ecology, spirituality and druidism, but I’ll try to keep an open mind; however, I did love your insightful comments on society, politics, culture and especially (as a historian) the way people think of history (the bit on the illusion of linear progress). So I will be following this with great interest.
I think that you are certainly on to something with this analogy but, like all historical analogies, I think it’s rather imprecise. I don’t think the hatred of hate is quite so strong or so sincere in modern American society as the Victorian hatred of sex. I have never been to America (I am Russian) but I have been in touch with various Westerners of different, mostly progressive political orientations; I also occasionally skim English-language blogs, many of them likewise progressive. Most of the ones I talk to or read are pretty honest about their hatred for people they don’t agree with politically or sometimes even entire internally diverse groups that they believe to be their enemies (Christian fundamentalists, the elderly, Trump voters, etc.). Obviously to them there is a huge gap between that kind of hatred and the bigoted hatred of their hated haters. I suspect that the cult of anti-hate mostly encompasses some public figures who kind of have to pretend to hate it to be taken seriously with their protestations and maybe some people who try to sincerely imitate their official stance. I could be wrong of course. But if the genuine repression of hate is as thin on the ground as it looks to me then perhaps the West is more emotionally healthy than you say… whatever other problems the anti-hate ideology may entail.
Then again, I suspect that what ends up being reliably repressed might be not so much hate in general as various forms of bigotry (not the same emotion as hatred and aimed at… let’s say different groups where the difference has some connection to biology). That may be troublesome as well. People tend to notice unpleasant things about other groups, rightly or wrongly, leading to the formation of various stereotypes and prejudices. Pretending that this fairly normal mental process is Unnatural and Wrong does not strike me as very healthy either (that is different, of course, from saying that people should always act on or loudly proclaim their prejudices against other groups. Considering some of your previous writing, I trust that you will not misunderstand what I am getting at here).
On the other hand, this: “Nor, if history is any guide, will the return of the repressed be limited to such hole-and-corner expressions for long. Victorian sexual repressiveness, after all, eventually gave rise to the Sexual Revolution, which swung to the opposite extreme with an equal lack of balance. In the same way, today’s attempt to repress hate could quite easily give rise to a Revolution of Hate, in which people wallow in hatred the way libertines in the 1960s and 1970s wallowed in sex. The identical rhetoric of liberation, of being natural, of casting off the straitjacket of an outdated morality, would serve equally well for both.”
– strikes me as a description of what is already happening with the Alt-Right movement, if it may be called that. I do not think it is primarily racial (though it certainly has an element of racial grievance for many of its more earnest participants. My impression of it, based on reading and corresponding with some of its adherents, is that it is mainly about people, many of them young and/or long-repressed ex-progressives tasting the forbidden fruit of honest and unabashed bigotry and hatred. Though perhaps we will see an even bigger explosion of this later on. There is indeed some cause to worry about it leading to Western society (or societies) sliding towards the opposite extreme… yet again.
(In Russia, of course, we have and will continue to have our own problems – and some of yours that we are borrowing, as usual.)
An interesting post JMG, and again I think you have hit on something important.
My POV on these (and many other so called modern trends) is that they are misplaced reactions left over from when we humans were living in far smaller groups. The concept of trusting/liking your closest group (kin) members and dis-trusting/hating outsiders no doubt played a useful role when humans lived in small tribes or communities. However as we moved to living in larger and larger groups and eventually cities the concept of the “local tribe is good” seems to have faded away, from a practical sense. But the archetype of good and evil remains and what labels get associated with them have continued to be manipulated by many actors: religious leaders, politicians, marketeers. You name it, we are constantly bombarded by things we should buy or people to vote for (or against), something to like or dislike, all trying to tap into this ancient meme of good vs evil. Sometimes the connection is subtle, sometimes not (especially these days).
Some individuals seem to see their way out of this pattern of viewing the world, but I am not sure there are any larger groups of people/societies which have.
I’d be interested in exploring what options societies have in freeing themselves from this pattern on you “extra” day this month.
I must admit I was a bit worried of how my answers would be interpreted! I thank you for your gracefulness in answering me!
When you wrote: “some of the rules governing female behavior under Shari’a law certainly look like amputation from here. Is that a mistaken perception on my part? ”
I’d say yes and no. As Tariq Ramadan once said (I quite enjoy his readings and talks) there is one Holy text (The Quran) but multiple interpretations. It is quite true that there are rules that govern female behaviour but then there are mirror rules that govern male behaviour too! For instance, the Quranic text specifically directs males to lower their gazes in front of women, (i.e. avoid direct and possibly embarrassing stares!). But of course normal eye contact is acceptable!
Similarly there are certain restrictions of dress but it concerns both men and women! The women’s head dress known as hijab has taken many forms and in my country when I was younger, most (but not all) muslim women worn a simple, loose and half transparent scarf over their hair with hair locks and tails quite visible. And it was considered perfectly acceptable. Many of my female cousins did not even bother to wear any head scarfs at all, except for prayer and for religious ceremonies. I do not remember one instance when that was considered unacceptable and it would not cross my mind to say to my aunts that their head dress was unacceptable! I’d much prefer to hide away under a rock than say that. My aunts were considered pillars of islamic behaviour and civility! Whereas it was the young men and women who needed constant reminders of their religious duties! It is true that the head dress that covers all hair and leave only the face visible is becoming even more common, even here. But by and large it is a voluntary act. Some of my female cousins do now wear the hijab but not all, and once more no-one would say that those who do not wear the hijab are failing in their religious duties!
Similarly, men have a code of dress and are not supposed to show anything neck down to knees!
Now, I am NOT saying that all is well in the best of worlds, but by and large islamic rules have tended to be interpreted in a large variety of manners across the muslim world, from the unnecessarily strict wahabism to the fairly relaxed manner I witnessed here and still does!
By and large, the Quranic text encourages modesty in appearance above all, the exact details of how this is to be achieved is secondary. Modesty in speech, modesty in way of life, generally. I’d even say that modesty in consumption too! Public display of wealth is not considered acceptable.
That is why I have jumped a bit about this amputation bit! By and large I’d say that islamic thinking regards modesty and charity as supreme, piety and ritual comes second!
Thank you for listening to me!
@onething Agreed that the Obama hatred was not as prevalent as the Trump hatred and the media was ‘for’ Obama and clearly against Trump. Trump seems to stir the attention up about himself and it doesn’t seem to slow him down or cause him to stop anything he is doing. Its kinda fascinating. I am often left thinking with all the Trump coverage in the media, what real news are we missing?
@onething Our media has made it very confusing to know how and what to eat, and the internet hasn’t helped. What would be a great help if our health care practitioners walked the talk and were fit and healthy. Walk into any doctor’s office or hospital and many of staff are overweight by extremes. The exception to this are chiropractors and acupuncturists I’ve used; they are the picture of health and I always leave wanting to do more to take care of myself.
I’m always shocked by how skinny people are in photographs pre-1970. Also shocking is the way people dressed and how much care they put into how they looked. Comparing photos from 1920 and 2000, its kinda depressing what we look like now compared to then.
@onething Another thought on health/weight – this is another area that seems to be one of have’s and have not’s. We’ve talked about the pre-diabetic and diabetic mostly to excess weight and this is 50% of the population of the US now. Opposite of that is the people who do paleo diets or Cross Fit or those Spartan races with crazy courses over days. They are optimizing their health and fitness. Like so much in the US we are one extreme or the other in health.
Excellent and timrly post as always! That sheds a lot of light on our current social landscape. I think I finally understand internet trolls, now.
I have an idea for fifth wednesdays. It used to be your idea, actually. Remember on TADR you used to give us assignments, like read a book that’s more than 100 years old, etc. Those were a lot of fun, and eye-opening. Just a thought.
“There’s the fact that food animals in the US are fed drugs to make them gain unnatural amounts of weight, and there are measurable traces of those same drugs in the meat and other animal products, not to mention in agricultural runoff and thus in the water supply.”
When I lived in Mississippi, I saw a map in the newspaper that charted obesity rates by county and there was an OBVIOUS, nearly perfect pattern, where the highest rates were along the Mississippi river, and the obesity rates gradually declined with distance. At first I considered a cultural or dietary influence, but that didn’t make sense because east and west Mississippi really aren’t that different, there’s more difference between north and south Mississippi (and north and south Mississippi had the same obesity rates). So I spent a lot of time wondering what pesticide or herbicide or nitrate we sprayed on crops that might be causing obesity. HAHAHA!!!
Thanks for clearing up that little mystery for me. I also spent a lot of time looking for an “obesity rates by county” chart for the whole US…. to no avail 🙁 but if anyone does find that chart I’m sure it will prove your point. Just Mississippi was visually stunning in its clear implications. I’m ashamed I didn’t get the whole picture until just now.
If you check all the historical examples, you’ll find that there’s always a conceptual plurality involved. I don’t find this a problem, and I use it routinely; as you say, it’s been a standard part of English at least as far back as Chaucer. There’s a very subtle shift in meaning between “singular they” meaning using the plural pronoun “they” with a singular antecedent, and “they is a singular pronoun”. I’d think professional linguists would know better.
So, as the hate revolution ramps up full tilt, will we be so tired of hearing the n-word, a certain f-word meaning a bundle of sticks, etc, being so casually thrown around non-stop, in the same way that swearing and vulgarity became so overused and abused?
I am pleased that you felt able to reveal such personal information about yourself here…and I admit I am curious! I’m wondering why you have come to regret your surgery, how long ago was it, and when did you begin to regret it?
DFC, Canada has big chronic pain problems and an opiate epidemic that is killing lots of people. The USA may be worst in the developed world, but I believe we’re second. One thing we share for partial cause of the opiate part of the problem is the pharmaceutical industry pushing oxycontin and similar opiate painkillers for chronic pain. That started in the USA and was worst there, and I believe is why Canada’s opiate problem started later and so far hasn’t gotten quite as severe. As for why so much chronic pain… I don’t know for sure. I suspect it is connected to the depression affecting so many people. Depression can make whatever physical pain you’re feeling worse, and being in constant pain is a fast trip to depression. Why so much depression? The stress modern society is putting people under probably doesn’t help, nor the cognitive dissonance.
“Women are such fools.”
Way to make massive generalizations about half the population.
Is this issue and others like it the result of information overload? Pre-internet, we gathered news from newspapers, radio, tv and magazines. Essays were normally limited to the Sunday edition of newspapers and to magazines. The velocity and amount of information was easy to control, and writing a letter meant something, because one had to make the time to do it. Now one tosses out a tweet or comment without any effort at all, and there is nearly instant gratification in terms of response.
We are at a high population level, we are at near maximum information level with FB, many 24 hour news svcs trying to invent news and tweets and such. I think the mechanism of grouping people into digestible bites to assimilate a view of them is baked in, simply due to the amount of groups, causes, affiliations, etc. one must contend with. There is no doubt that people vary widely among each of these mental groupings we make, some therein due to a single item of agreement.
I was recently looking at an article about NRA talking head making some over-the-top statement – and lo and behold within the article were 2-3 additional guns rights groups I had never even heard of. This same issue of grouping may be at play in the LBTGQ…etc. group – there are many in that by virtue of a singular characteristic, but they are far from rabid supporters of every idea.
I am seeing a lot of hate everywhere, and so this is timely to talk about. I am just wondering if it is not significantly worsened by this mental grouping we are forced into simply to be able to handle what is coming at us 24/7/365 in terms of information and news. Man has never had to digest and sift through so much verbal detritus in history – it has to be simplified just to begin to understand it, much less assume a position.
I am not sure our brains can cope with this. I can see arriving at hating something a very easy choice to make after trying to sift fact from fiction among the myriad choices we are bombarded with. There are numerous articles out there about how use of smartphones and other tech actually changes the way the brain works, and the serotonin rewards innate in internet discourse can be abundant for hating others.
Just a couple of thoughts…
Agreed, and likely coming at it from a different perspective: I’m a fairly SJW type myself, or at least pretty ardently feminist, semi-socialist, pro-LGBT-rights, etc, not to mention having had my share of interpersonal drama. There are plenty of people I hate, and I’m glad to admit it; the more kumbaya-y element on the left always irks me. I think it’s important to be sure you’re hating people for the right reasons*, and that you don’t let it prompt you to do anything disproportionate, self-destructive, or harmful to the wider world.
Other than that, I consider that Yoda was a muppet in a swamp and feel little need to pay attention to his philosophies. I’m not going to try and hurt anyone physically** except in self-defense or defense of others, but I cheered when Falwell died, and if That Guy In My Social Circle gets norovirus at an embarrassing moment, I’ll be pretty happy about it, and I can’t say I’m sorry.
On a more practical and slightly off-topic note: I’ve started trying the solar salutations in Paths of Power. Are they supposed to kill your biceps the first few times (in which case I’ll power through, bending my arms at a 90-degree angle when my muscles really start complaining), or is that a sign that I have the posture wrong?
*There are a number of men in my generation whose hatred of various people boils down to “the girls I like are into them, and not me,” and vice-versa, for example. (As a general rule, I find that if the person I hate is banging the person I like, selling more books than me, etc., I want to examine the grounds for my hatred really carefully.)
**Although I do make a point of looking good when I know I’ll be around people I hate, especially if I know those people don’t like how they’re looking lately. I didn’t spend four years in a girls’ dorm for nothing. 😛
Sublimation is the word that comes to mind: Don’t amputate anything in the realm of the psyche (it not only isn’t possible, it is also a waste of psychic energy) but, instead, sublimate it toward a higher outcome. This is an art form in NLP and Buddhist tantra as well. In other words, *hate* “injustice” or “limitations” or “poverty” or “circumstances” or some other process which is in the way of uplift. Similarly, love, lust, etc. can be harnessed via what Tibetan adepts call “skillful means”.
Nice topic (it continues to amaze me how you are able to bring up such ongoing diversity of worthwhile topics) and one which fits well (in my mind at least) with my unanswered question from the last open forum: Is there possibly an advantage to occidental “magic” for people who are raised in Western culture in being better able to harness the “contamination” (again, my word) of Christian training, ghost stories, Western values, etc? Might Satan himself serve in this manner? Fear itself can be a great energy for personal change. Perhaps I am using the word archetype incorrectly, but to some extent Western archetypes seem decidedly WASP flavored.
By way of suggestion for how to use the extra week in August: Is there some reasonable way to flag the most thought provoking reader comments of the month and aggregate them for extra discussion? There are so many comments I find it hard to read them all, much less tie the original comment together with your response. Some sort of ranking system would be a nice touch in that regard, although I have no idea how difficult it would be to add that to your existing forum software. Short of that, perhaps you can just link to the comments and ideas you found most interesting in one summary entry?
(If i may) another vote for reincarnation as the fifth Wednesday’s post theme.
It occurred to me that the current and trending targets for hate might create a sense of complacency in those who are not on anyone’s radar at the moment. History is probably full of examples of people who didn’t see it coming until the tide was turned against them.
As this is a blog that will, I assume, take us toward the practice of an earth based spirituality, for example, if a rabid fundamental Christian gets into power, they might begin to rout out the “pagans” without finessing too much the definition. I can think of a number of other possibilities. Herbalists, for example, if big pharma passes certain laws. Book collectors like me, who have a collection of “dangerous” books to burn. “Trouble making women” who can be labelled pretty much anything under the sun that would suit the moment and dealt with accordingly…etc.
I realize this focus is very narrow and selfish, but I would like to hear thoughts on the need for secrecy as a way of keeping under the radar of the hate mobs while we quietly go about becoming midwives for the new spirituality, become self-sufficient, squirrel books and other forms of knowledge away for future generations, and any number of other actions which might be seen as subversive.
Or maybe this will be an equal opportunity hate-fest, where everyone will be a target, so just brace yourself?
Just this week I let all my friends, family, and acquaintances on Facebook know that I would be off all social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) until after the Autumnal Equinox on September 22 of this year. I didn’t give a reason. Some of the responses surprised me: A wistful, “I-wish-I-could-do-that,” and “I know I should quit, but I can’t….”
My reason: I am exhausted after nearly a year of watching what few tattered shreds of decency and fairness in discourse that remained in those forums be unceremoniously discarded. The hatred and hysterics just got to me. Never mind the other, well-documented side effects of social media (I noted those in myself, for sure)—it’s exhausting parsing every single item I shared (even the most innocuous) for possible offense (“You went to *that* taco truck?! Didn’t you know that the owner is a ?”). And every offense is a grave offense. Deviate from The Program™ with even one opinion, and you are guilty of all of the sins of The Bad Ones™. I just got tired, and asked myself, “Why am I doing this to myself?”
When I return to social media (and I will), it will be for thirty minutes or so a week. I’ve removed the apps from my phones (no compulsive checking through the day) and the apps won’t be coming back. I’ll return because there *are* people I would like to keep in touch with, and apparently even an email (never mind a phone call) is just too much work these days (and I’m talking family!).
The upsides became apparent in the first day (though, yes, it felt weird not checking the little slot machine in my pocket all day long): my ability to concentrate has sharpened, and anxiety levels are waaaaay down (I didn’t realize how much anxiety I carried around from my use of social media). Even my meditation is more settled (concentration again).
Our worldwide experiment with social media is just ramping up, and, so far, the results don’t make me sanguine.
(Oh, and this is why the ADR and now Ecosophia are treasures—real discussions! And people can disagree without resorting to nastiness. Thanks JMG, since we know that you’re wading through all that so that we don’t have to.)
@Onething, I miss you. It’s time we talked again. I sure don’t agree with you that the only purpose for men is to serve women, though perhaps it is one of the purposes for many men (and one that I like alot!). But I wasn’t talking about men and women as much as the masculine and feminine archetypes.
@Violet thanks for that! Just for the record, I do not mean to denigrate anyone, including trans people. I do think there is some unhealthy and dysfunctional things going on in our culture, as JMG is pointing out, and some of the trans stuff is a symptom, but please, let’s not scapegoat them (you) or anyone. The original LGBT people who came onto the project I started in ATL after I and the original people decided to call it quits, were welcome with open arms, we knew they were LGBT, and we thought:”Great! Why not also provide a safe space for LGBT people, in addition to the Gandhian mission?” But the new people who came in later apparently did not care much for the Gandhian mission, and were looking for an almost free place to live and a safe space and pretended like they cared so they could get in. I am guessing they might have father trauma, and feelings of LGBT supremacy, encouraged by the current spell that’s been cast over the Left (JMG summarized it roughly in The Rescue Game), and the very human nature of tribal xenophobia. My anger (which was hatred but is transforming) is towards the portion of the Left which seems unable to confront raw human hatred in others who hate them or in themselves, or help a white man just because he is a white man. And of course some of that is projection of my own shadow: where was I during Standing Rock? I had all sorts of reasons why I didn’t go help and I’m sure many people have valid reasons why they don’t want to help me, but I think cowardice, shadow projection and cognitive dissonance and being under the influence of the White Male Privilege spell are some of them. Still, hearing that confession from you felt really good and healing and I wish I could offer you something back in return. Would you be willing to talk more offline?
Hi Chris (Fernglade)
Thanks for the thoughts on weather.
Britain being slanted NW into the Atlantic gets very different weather, north/south, east/west depending on the track of stuff rolling across the ocean. Brother lives in SE England and they have been seriously short of water replenishment since the end of winter (his grass lawn has been brown for a while). And London and the millions living round about use a lot of water. They have had some extra hot weather. Our two month-plus drought in spring/early summer, however, was cold – the wind blew for week after week from the north and east across cold sea, Birds suffered, especially those needing early insect, worm & snail food while rearing young. Since then where I live we have been wet and temperate, wetter than most summers. Harvest round here would be tricky if it were not for the big machines that can grab huge amounts in brief sunshine. Yes the seasons are different these days here in the north (55 deg N)and counts of animal species and flowering dates reflect the gradual seasonal change. (Of course we lose a lot of diversity because of modern farming, but that is another story). And in the last decade and half, we get localised bad floods all across Britain, some of them dangerous. (We get ticks but locally so far not Lyme.)
I follow with interest your weather at Fernglade on your website. Some time I will post some of our family connection with Australia starting in the 1830s/40s.
Another thought I’ve had quite a lot about group politics and hatred is that there must be a mechanism in our subconscious for causing group bifurcation in response to population stress.
The vast majority of vertebrates live in groups. Because we know that sometimes an entire group (wolf pack, elephant herd, group of apes or tribe of humans, etc) sometimes completely dies out, and yet those animals continue to exist, there must be a mechanism for group bifurcation.
It’s also something that likely operates on a subconscious level. My “to read” pile is about six inches deep at the moment, but I wonder if Goodall or any of the other great primatologists ever documented the process of group bifurcation in apes. Chimpanzees are enough like people (really the only difference is that human females ordinarily select their mates, where in chimpanzees males compete for physical access to females, and humans have far more ability to reason)
This is interesting, it’s about how specification may be occurring in killer whales based on diet and cultural differences. If we were really brave we would be asking ourselves what the genetic consequences of different rules surrounding mating (and more broadly, any culture->genepool->culture feedbacks) in humans are. It’s probably something we can only figure out in the next ten to twenty years – maybe the Chinese will do it.
@ onething, my surgery was 7 years ago. I began regretting it slowly with much denial 4 years ago. I have pronounced lifelong dysphoria on top of being mostly a bottomy homosexual. At the time, there was also an element of social pressure in radical leftist spaces I lived in; more oppression points won me respect, resources, and openness than I had prior. The combination of dysphoria, homosexuality and social pressures helped put me on a path towards castration. I was 22 years old. Now 7 years later it is clear that I made a mistake. It would have been better to do the hard work of accepting myself then that I’ve had to do anyways. Of course it’s normal people make mistakes in their youth, and sometimes serious mistakes. There is a German proverb “your mistakes make you clever” and if I hadn’t suffered with mental illness and weakened my vitality as I did I doubt I would have the depth of experience in personal development, study and especially, closest to my heart, herbalism. In final analysis I don’t think I’d trade what I’ve gained for what I lost, although I have lost greatly and my sacrifice didn’t ultimately help me in the way I thought it would.
Thank you, John Michel for a very insightful answer.
This seems to say it all: Love hates Trump.
@onething: “Women are such fools, blah blah blah……..”
How can you make such a sweeping generalization about 3.75 billion humans? Some women arguably could be fools, certainly there are some men that are, and I am sure there are porcupines that are also fools, whether male or female (although I have never met a foolish porcupine.)
It sounds to me like you have some personal issue with a particular woman or women, and are generalizing it to encompass the entire gender, so that you can blame “women” and how foolish they are, and not take any responsibility for whatever disappointment you have experienced.
Just want to pitch in about the obesity problem in US. Obesity is just a symptom of a much larger problem but it illustrates the entire system so well, it’s worth talking about it.
First of all, it can be seen as a side effect of the collusion between food and pharma industries with the government to turn people into permanently addicted customers.
But that is not all – I think Americans themselves were more than eager to give up their freedom (to grow and cook food) in exchange for heavily advertised poisonous crap. The reason for it was that it allowed them more time for mind-numbing work and mind-numbing tv.
In my mind is a vicious cycle that grew exponentially but will stop soon (decades at the most). Unfortunately the aftermath will probably be starvation, not permaculture utopia…
For those of you who live in US – I can tell the by taste if the food is from here (even expensive organic etc). The reason is that everything (vegetables, meat, fruits) is pumped full of water, fertilizers, pesticides and who knows what else. As an example, even if I fill a pot with vegetables, my soup will be tasteless. Back in Europe two potatoes, half a pepper and some parsnip was enough to give taste.
@ DFC — Working in massage therapy I have some experience with people with chronic pain. My take, though of course confirmation bias could be involved, is that the “pain epidemic” is a serious issue, and one of its major sources is posture. Cars, office chairs, computers and most modern furniture are absolutely terrible, and the West hasn’t historically had a traditional practice like qigong or yoga to mitigate their effects.
Moreover, while it’s my impression that posture was once emphasized in, for example, the schools– I picture a 19th century headmaster delivering a whack to the slouching student, though this may be a misconception– today people from every class and every walk of life slouch in their chairs, collapse their abdomens and stick their necks out, usually while looking at a cell phone. Smart phones in particular are terrible– There is a whole muscle group starting at the shoulder and extending down the wrist that I see tons and tons of people having problems with. I regularly have a client ask the question, “What’s that?”– and I answer, “It’s an iPhone muscle.” Meanwhile, doctors push expensive surgeries, opiates, or both, and lead people to doubt the efficacy of movement and massage!
@ JMG and others on this topic– You can probably make a case that the rise in transgenderism probably also parallels the appearance of hormones in food and drinking water. I thought of that, and then it occurred to me that it’s a politically toxic thing to talk about– The Left would see it as a denial that transgenders are a real group that has always existed, and their relative lack of appearance until recently is due to oppression; the Right would see it as a way of naturalizing or mainstreaming transgenderism, since you really can’t help it if your endocrine system was disrupted in infancy.
I guess when discussing amputation and women in Islam, it is rather difficult not to immediately jump to the problem of female circumcision. I do realize that the practice predates Islam and that it is not practiced in all places, nonetheless it is mostly associated with and perpetuated within Islam. (But there are ancient Christian communities in Africa which practice it.) I also can’t imagine having no control over whether I am one wife or one of four, even though I concede that in some ways it might be more compassionate than our western practice of dumping one’s first wife for a pretty younger one, if one can afford it. It just seems to me that the demanding rules on women’s behavior in Islam and marriage are all on one side.
John, oh, granted. One of the things I find astonishing about the Clinton campaign is that it made so many obvious mistakes like tht. One of the others is that she apparently learned nothing from her defeat in 2008, because she made all the same mistakes over again in 2016.
Iuval, I wish I had some kind of practical suggestion to offer. The only thing that occurs to me is to go for maximum publicity. Write up your story in detail, naming names and giving all the facts, and get that puppy into circulation as widely as possible. If it doesn’t change the current situation, it might succeed in giving other people a chance to avoid making the same kind of mistake…
Taraxacum, one of the things that makes the alt-right so effective is that they understand irony, and use it to the hilt. “Hatreon” — nice. Very nicely done.
Fred, thank you for the apology. I’d point out that you can’t tell at a glance whether a person is fat because of personal choices or because of some combination of genetics, epigenetics, medical issues, and pharmaceutical pollution. Most people don’t bother — they simply fling insults. Most physicians, for that matter, aren’t interested in that distinction — if you happen to be unfashionably large in today’s society, no matter what health problem you have, if you go to a doctor odds are the only thing you’ll be told is to lose weight. (If your daughter had been overweight, for example, the pdds that her doctor would have bothered to run the tests to find out if she had celiac disease are down there in negative numbers.) Please keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to assume that all fat people are fat because of their own choices…
I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s diagnosis, btw. Celiac disease is one of my wife’s health challenges, and it’s required a lot of hard work from both of us — not least because wheat products get relabeled in dozens of ways on ingredient labels…
DFC, partly it’s the pharmaceutical industry pursuing profits by getting as many people addicted to their products as possible — but there’s more to it. For those who don’t happen to belong to the privileged 20% or so, life in late industrial America sucks. There’s no gentler way to put it — and the wretched grind to which most Americans are subjected these days, combined with a galaxy of lifestyle habits pushed by the media, makes chronic pain and other forms of human misery very, very common.
Cortes, good for the radical magazine!
Patricia, you’ve got my email address, right? Drop me an email and I’ll gladly send you my new mailing address. Many thanks!
Corydalidae, so noted! As for persistent injustices, no argument there. If anything, it’s one of the bitterest things about the current situation that privileged pseudoliberals are using actual injustices as an excuse for maneuvers to prop up their own privilege.
Daniil, of course it’s a bit of a stretch. Among other things, the prohibition of hate has only been in existence for a couple of decades, where the Victorian terror of sexuality ruled Anglo-American society for most of a century. That said, I think the parallel does reveal some very useful points — and among them, of course, is the likelihood of a backlash.
Gee, when I input my comment, the post comment button disappears.
Doctors don’t know how to eat right either. It is they who have been convinced of the 180 on what we should eat by the medical/pharmaceutical educational complex.
Well, I realize I wrote a couple of inflammatory things, and wondered what the pushback would be. But I have to say that I feel a certain amount of despair over the hopeful ideas of 100+ years ago about the benefit to society from having the female vote, for instance, and the result, which is nil.
Iuval, I did NOT say that serving women is men’s only purpose! But serving women and therefore keeping them happy is a very fundamental role of men. Basically, as a social species, the females are directly occupied with producing the next generation, and the males are in a supportive role of providing, protecting and so forth. So ultimately, if women express dissatisfaction long enough, eventually men almost have to respond and try to do what they want. I have noticed that even with animals who we think of as being in a glorified position, such as a stallion or rooster, they nonetheless expend their efforts and attention all day every day in providing service to the family group and also taking some risks.
I can make only tiny comments, so I will make one more!
I think that the whole SJW thing is out of control, and even feminism seems to be out of control to a quite unhealthy degree and there is a lot of very shrill and irrational stuff going down, and it’s like we’re all on this roller coaster and we don’t know how to stop it or when the ride will end.
After reading the conversations springing up in this thread, it seems to me that it would be very fruitful to address the nutrition and obesity issue head on at some point– whether or not that ends up being the 5th week of August.
If that essay does end up being about reincarnation, perhaps you will make space for some discussion of ideas of non-human (and even non-animal) reincarnation?
Finally– and I’ve piped in here before saying this, but I’ll say it again– yes, please, I do hope you come back to the series on education again. Or that you feel the urge to write a book on it at some point! The issue of vital importance– not least for those of us with young children.
Isabel: did you cheer when Osama bin Laden died? On men’s complaints about women:
“Or to spell it out very carefully, Henry clearly has no trouble attracting partners. He’s been married five times and had multiple extra-marital affairs and pre-marital partners, many of whom were well aware of his past domestic violence convictions and knew exactly what they were getting into. Meanwhile, here I was, twenty-five years old, never been on a date in my life, every time I ask someone out I get laughed at, I’m constantly teased and mocked for being a virgin and a nerd whom no one could ever love, starting to develop a serious neurosis about it.
And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, pursued a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.”
(What he doesn’t say: if current trends continue, decent people will go extinct, because most decent men vary between “wanted by no woman” and “sort of wanted by the women who’ll have 0-2 children”. As collapse intensifies, interest in decent men may increase for survival reasons, but that’s the worst way to get a consolation prize.)
JMG & Booklover (if I may), which German author was it who compared the current situation of Germans to Jews in the Middle Ages?
I don’t agree with this impression – it’s true that for instance French people tend to have an annoying habit of jokingly calling us Nazis, but in further conversation they often reveal that it’s all envy, and shame that their army was defeated so quickly in WW2. The habit is going away in younger generations. No way to compare this to the situation of Jews who were forbidden from “honest” trades and submitted to pogroms. Some people in Germany should rethink if they are partaking in the proverbial German arrogance, like pretending that they are the only people who know how to work – this might help against this rehashing of prejudice from the other side.
I’m sure you already have many good suggestions for the hopper, but I’d be interested in a discussion of the subdermal implant/bionic-enhancement movement that seems to have been on a hot-streak in the news recently.
A River Falls, WI firm has also been in the news recently as the first US firm to provide “chipping” for its employees
Clarification: I’m Austrian which could be characterized as being German and not German at the same time. We field a lot of comments from our northern neighbors amounting to: “You’re such a small country… Hah hah… So everything you do is so ridiculous… Hah hah…” Still wonder why other Europeans fling insults at them? Well, maybe Canadians can sympathize 🙂
Correction: It was not Huxley it was Ambrose Bierce who wrote “A Cynic Looks at Life”
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16340. He also wrote “The Devil’s Dictionary” a classic of hating on nearly everybody.
A month ago, the thought of Johnny Carson on late night television mocking Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers, the pinpoint, to me, of, if not hate exactly, the use of big media for derision. Carson, eh, only the networks’ late night format remains. Carson had many more topics for content than PBS, IMHO. The Fred Rogers Legacy lives on in the form of Daniel Tigher.
JMG, regarding the conversation with Karim Jaufeerally on what is amputated in Islamic traditions/teaching, I wonder if it could be more accurately pinpointed to Islam attempts to amputate non-Islam.
This is, by my cursory survey, a problem with several of the monotheisms – touting the One Right Way toward the One Right God. All it takes is one generation of amputees (who then scramble to survive by embracing their amputation and passing it along to their children) and every subsequent generation praises the practice.
@silva: Darn right I did. Part of me wishes we’d killed him more slowly, but We Must Have A Society, I guess. But yeah: one sex-negative fundie repression-peddler is much like another, and neither serves much use on the planet except as fertilizer, so–yep. Would have opened champagne for both, but was broke.
As far as men go:
1) I can’t speak to the women who want Harry. I *will* say that, while the DV is an issue, not all women are interested in having a faithful partner. (I myself am what the kids today call “solo poly,” and even among my friends who have relationships, a good 50% either have some kind of explicit arrangement or a DADT/What Happens In Vegas policy going, and it seems to work for them.)
2) Dude does not describe what Henry had going for him. Maybe he looked better (and the majority of men my age put zero effort into their appearance while expecting considerably more from women); maybe he had interests other than Having A Girlfriend (naked desperation is not sexy from anyone, to anyone); etc.
3) Some people like damaged/selfish/dysfunctional partners. This is not a trait that impresses me, but it sure doesn’t restrict itself to women liking men–I can name two or three male friends who have always gone for the most deliberately helpless, tantrum-throwing, manipulative little word-I-can’t-use-here on the block, because they want to play White Knight.
4) Women aren’t “consolation” or any other kind of prize. And believe me, if most of us had to choose between no romantic partner and the kind of guy who self-pities around thinking he “deserves” a woman for not being mean to people and so on and so forth….well, technology will have to die back a *lot* further than any of our host’s scenarios before it can’t do anything men can do much better and with much less trouble in *that* regard.
5) That said, I don’t think we should mock anyone for virginity or lack of romantic success, any more than for promiscuity or having a bunch of partners.
I think that this is relevant to this week’s topic.
Attention herbalists (and DIYers generally)!
Experiential awesomeness yesterday regarding the use of chamomile as a powerful antihistamine. Not exactly on-topic, but I hope you’ll allow it, if just for posterity, dear host?
Yellow jackets and lots of ’em. Everybody around here – lower Appalachia – just calls them bees, and calls their sting a bite. I don’t really get it…but I may use such shorthand in the text:
We almost lost our little goat Desdemona yesterday. We finally got them out on a tether in the woods, doing their goat thing, munching down the overgrown edges of our property, but after a couple of hours my wife and I both heard Desi bleating wildly, and went running from wherever we were respectively.
I thought she was just tangled around a sapling, but as we got closer we saw all the jackets swarming around her. She was wound up tight around a little maple tree and apparently stomping on their nest and couldn’t get away from them.
So I untied her and tried to pull her free of the tree but couldn’t get the tether to pop free. Meanwhile she’s just getting pummeled. So finally I dive into the swarm and unclip her collar. She scoots away from them but just kind of wanders aimlessly up the driveway, followed by what was still a pretty substantial escort of bees.
We follow and start getting a look at the damage, and she’s just got jackets dug in all over her – ears, eyes, under the collar, all over her body. And she seems spacey. Her big brother meanwhile is desperately trying to get to her so we untie him and catch up.
I ask my wife to run get a broom to clean the bees off with something other than my bare hands and then get busy trying to chase them off of her. She’s pretty woozy by now and not trying to get away from me. Then the missus is suddenly back with the broom and I finally get them brushed off and fought off. Every one of them, once brushed off, just keeps coming back for more, but we manage to get them cleared out enough to start tending to other matters. Like getting Desi back to the house.
Which she’s not very interested in. She just wants to lay down and die as far as I can tell. So I keep picking her up and encouraging her to move on. Finally she won’t budge and I just pick her up and carry her the rest of the way.
We get back in their pen and continue trying to keep her awake and upright. I’ve already asked my wife, the better herbalist, to see what she can figure out for countering so much bee venom and she’s in the house doing her thing. At this point I’m just sitting with Desi trying to keep her head up and get water into her mouth.
She’s now the size and shape of a beach ball, with fully dilated pupils, eyes bulging, and her breathing is getting shallower by the minute. Her body is going limp and her head is lolling, taken over by her tongue, and I yell out “Honey, we’re losing her!” and almost miraculously she shows up with a pint jar full of chamomile flowers steeping in cool water.
I take it and start slowly getting a little at a time down her throat. Her breathing is so shallow at this point I figure she’s gone, and the kids are nearly hysterical, but doing their best to rein it in, and even managing to fetch things like ice for Mom. But then after just a few good sips of the chamomile brew Desi sputters and holds her head up on her own. I keep giving it to her as she’ll take it and we sit there for 20 minutes probably, slipping the tea and life-saving flower buds into her mouth. Her eyes are coming back to normal – at least the one that isn’t swollen shut – and then she stands up and walks gingerly over to her brother.
I dump the remaining tea into their water bucket and toddle off to find a little fresh alfalfa or lespedeza growing along the side of the road. Comfrey and plaintain too, for her to nibble when she’s ready. And start to check out my own stings. (Somehow I managed all that with only two stings?)
She’s got some healing to do yet – she was stung over a hundred times by hornets, some of which were dug-in prick-first for several minutes, and I imagine she’s pretty sore, and itchy, but she’s alive, and I’m 100% sure she wouldn’t be without intervention. Lowly chamomile….
What a day. Very proud of everyone involved – herbal children’s roles too. And most of all glad to have Desdemona back.
And now that that’s said and done…dear JMG, what a great post. I mean, I love it. Thanks again for everything.
And to answer your question from last week, about why I was uncomfortable with serial reincarnation, I would answer pretty much the same as Bill Pulliam answered. I’m not. It all sounds very comforting. It just doesn’t seem to follow the pattern I see in wider Nature, that’s all. But then, I’m not very well versed in what spirits and energies do post-mortem…
You know, this discussion feels incomplete without Dammerung. He didn’t get banned, did he?
Hi JMG, thanks as always for your wonderful insights.
A few related questions:
Do you think that this has been a shift in egregor?
On a similar note, do you think that it is possible to negatively leverage (take advantage of) an egregor with it’s opposite (i.e., the Church of Satan, or perhaps Atheistis, versus Christianity)?
Since there are more humans now than at any other time in history, do you think that the collective psychic impact of humanity on our planet may be a factor in our current situation of mass extinctions/climate change?
All the best to you.
Not about hate, but good news amid the slow collapse: Millennials & Military Training.
@ JMG, Cordyalide & Steve
Many thanks for your answers
JMG, I think in general there is a huge health crisis right now in all the western world, more acute in some countries but the general trend is the same in all of them. This include, for example:
a) The chronic pain epidemia as commented before that promote an opioid addiction epidemic that in 2016 has “killed” by overdose more people than the whole Vietnam war (between 56 to 65 thousand paople)
b) According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association in USA there are 50 million peoples affected by auto-inmune desease: celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid artritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, type 1 diabetes, Addisons disease, Chagas’ disease, psoriatic artritis, multiple schlerosis, polyartritis nodosa, rheumatic fever, ulcerative colitis, and other dozens of diseases that were almost unknown 50 or 60 years ago
c) I do not have statistics from USA but for example in UK the incidence of cáncer has increased by more than 32% from 1979 to 2013 in all the ages, no only in the oldest people, it is fundamentally false that this increase in the cancer incidence is only due to the age or due to more preventive tests, because the group were the incidence has grown more is in the years 0 – 24 years old, that do not have “preventive” tests and are the youngest. In the group of 0 -24 the increase in incidence in the period 1979 – 2013 has been 40,3%, where the increase has been bigger, in this group the general incidence is still low but the trend is terrible. Now the health institution in UK stimate that 1 in 2 people will develop cáncer in UK
The life expectancy has increased a bit in the past decades, but the global health of the population is deteriorating at an alarming pace, and that makes a huge “chronic” population where the big pharma can extract a nice fee (19% of GDP in USA)
Clearly some changes in the environment are destroying the human health at an accelerating pace, may be some relevant GMO “advances” are helping on this “progress”
JMG, on TADR, you often mentioned that as an empire declines, more and more the situation for rural people becomes, “You’re on your own.”
Just saw this example: https://www.revealnews.org/article/in-the-rural-west-residents-choose-low-taxes-over-law-enforcement/
“Three months after the 2012 inmate release, a woman called 911 around 5 a.m. to report that her ex-boyfriend was trying to break into her house. Because no deputies were on duty, her call was rerouted to the Oregon State Police, who told her that no one was available to respond.
“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there,” the dispatcher said on the recorded call. “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away?”
The woman, left to fend for herself, was sexually assaulted. Following the incident, Gil Gilbertson, Josephine’s sheriff at the time, issued a press release advising domestic abuse victims to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.””
JMG, you put that very well. There are definitely a lot of contradictions that create all kinds of rhetorical gymnastics.
@John R Even if we triple it and round it up it is still only 1% and my point is that for such a small population it gets a lot of attention. I’m down with the general purpose of the movement. As a stay-at-home dad former librarian who likes cooking and martial arts I cut across all kinds of less overtly sexual aspects of gender roles.
@Justin I have speculated that drug companies might be promoting the trans kids trend for their own profit. But I have not seen any evidence. A few feminists tried to have a panel on the subject at the Left Forum a few months ago and it got shut down. I was not aware the AAP had taken that stance. Or you sure it was them and not (conservative advocacy group) The American College of Pediatricians? I feel people get them confused.
Two more points relevant to this weeks post. An employee at google has circulated a memo criticizing the company’s diversity policies. Despite being very careful in his language he has been called names in the press without the content of his memo really being touched (some of which seems valid, some of which might be shaky). For instance, he points out that it might be unrealistic to push to have an equal number of female programmers because what we know about men and women shows generally that men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people. He has a Phd in biology and various studies (not linked to in the gizmodo piece but cited in the internal doc) show this. The Norwegian gender paradox also shows this. In countries where men and women are treated more equally the differences in the kind of jobs they choose is greater. So countries like Norway where the most has been done to make the playing field level and even encourage women to go into the tech sector, we see less women in those fields because given the freedom to most would rather do something else.
Finally, here is a good on topic of hate crime and hate speech in relation to Trump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xlv8i-SVZc&t=3s
My vote for the hopper: your omnivorism.
JMG, I really appreciated the following on hatred: The specific form my hate takes is that I want to hurt them; I want to cause them so much pain that if they ever think of bullying anybody ever again, the memory of what I did to them will make them wet themselves in sheer terror.
I strongly resonate with that.
As a Christian, forgiveness has always been important. However:
How to “make” it work. The question of functionality, of the doing of the thing, has puzzled me from childhood Sunday School (and playground!) experiences. My questions were met with hesitant non-answers, or “well, pray about it.” It took me a long time to realize that meant, they didn’t know either and weren’t about to admit it.
After reading your writing, and doing some exercises, the problem may be coming into focus. If it takes, perhaps, a year or so for a given exercise or meditation to come alive for a druid, why would I expect to have a few prayerful shortcuts to be efficacious?
The strength of the response must be comparable to the strength of the hate,
otherwise a gimmick must be used to make up the difference ie. denying, chopping off part of my reality, my self.
It is amusing to think of what might have happened if I had encountered teachings like yours back in seminary days. Well, amusing may not be the right word.
Anyway, I am deeply appreciative of your work.
“As for persistent injustices, no argument there. If anything, it’s one of the bitterest things about the current situation that privileged psuedoliberals are using actual injustices as an excuse for maneuvers to prop up their own privilege.”
JMG, I couldn’t agree more. But going along with that, I find the tendency of some people critiquing pseudoliberals to immediately follow up with verbally attacking all women, transgendered people, and many other groups unacceptable. Because it threatens me and many others whom I care about. I cannot and will not ignore that, and it puts me off even more than pseudoliberal posturing does. As long as those who hate pseudoliberals show this by insulting and threatening large groups of people, they are going to drive those people away, and right into the pseudoliberals arms. This is not helpful to anyone except the psuedoliberals.
I think that this will be big. If you read the headlines about the manifesto, it sounds like a Google employee proposed some sort of coffee-shop putsch, when in fact the content of the manifesto is entirely reasonable, and the author claims to be ideologically aligned with the stated goals of the Respectable and Progressive and Enlightened, which makes the reaction even funnier.
Re: the obesity problem
I’ve been looking at it symbolically: we have too much, others don’t have enough.
There’s also a very trenchant comment at the beginning of Inferno, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.
Yeah, that issue is toxic to talk about. You might look into the rate of intersex in birds, fish and invertebrates for comparison: it’s not zero, and some cases have been traced to toxic chemicals
Re: comment button
This is apparently a problem on Firefox. It doesn’t exist on Safari. Don’t know about Microsoft’s or Google’s products. Or Opera, for that matter.
Greg, no, I don’t have any specific evidence – but Oxycontin, Valium and a whole host of other drugs intended to treat chronic – and therefore hyper-profitable issues – were normalized through ‘scientific journals’ owned by drug companies. It’s the same companies and the same business model – so I think there’s a good chance I’m right.
There’s also the issue that these procedures and hormonal treatments are like circumcision but much more radical – just as many circumcised men reason that because their parents did it to them and because they don’t like the idea that it might have not been a good idea – that their sons should undergo the same procedure.
Steve, I’ve added it to the hopper. I’m far from sure I agree that it’s only relevant to much smaller social groups, though!
Karim, fair enough; thank you for the clarification.
Jessi, hmm! I’ll see if I can come up with an assignment sometime soon. With regard to obesity rates and location, that’s fascinating — I’ll have to look into that.
Shane, I’d be willing to bet good money on it. 😉
Oilman, that’s certainly not helping, but equivalent behavior patterns — Victorian sexual repression obviously comes to mind — existed long before the current fetish for information overload.
Isabel, hmm! You may be doing the practice wrong. Do your biceps hurt when you’re extending your arms out to your sides, or when you bring your hands back in to the midline and move them gradually downward?
Gnat, it really varies from person to person. Some people raised in a western culture benefit from getting outside its presuppositions and doing something from another culture. Others — I’m one of them — get better results with something that’s part of the culture they grew up with. Thanks for your suggested fifth Wednesday subject — it’s in the hopper…
Mooncalf, so noted!
Myriam, one of these days I probably need to do another post on the many benefits of secrecy. As it happens, though, I think it’s likely going to be closer to an equal opportunity hatefest than the stereotyped they’ll-round-us-all-up notion that so many people in the Pagan scene seem to treasure. More on this in a future post!
MarkT, fascinating! So often in the past, people I know who’ve gone off social media have been belabored with all kinds of dismissive rhetoric. If the people you know are beginning to notice how much of their lives it eats, there may yet be hope…
@JMG: Oh, definitely when extended. I do standard Jesus Pose, can keep it up for about a minute the first three times (insert bishop-actress joke here), though it hurts, and then can manage seconds 1-10 and 40-50 straight-armed for the next four cycles, but no more.
Side question: you mention not to do the lunar equivalent when the moon’s waning-does that apply to solar stuff on overcast/rainy days, or is a little sun enough?
Justin, a fascinating question. Let me know what you find out!
Sean, you’re most welcome.
Ralph, er, to me, at least, it doesn’t say much of anything at all.
Goats (if I may), er, did you not happen to know that Onething is a woman?
Omnia, I’ve noticed the same thing. Here in the US you have to go to farmers markets and food co-ops to get food that actually tastes like something other than styrofoam and sawdust.
Steve, I think that’s one factor. Sexual variation and dissolving gender categories, though, also tend to happen whenever civilizations get old — there are complex reasons for that, rooted in the way that civilizations move from the instinctive toward the intellectual as they age. More on this in a future post!
Onething, it’s purely an issue with Firefox. I’m using Opera now, and having no trouble with it.
Quin, I’m mulling over a sequence of posts on diet, nutrition, and obesity, not least because so many people equate diet and spirituality! That’s more discussion than a single post will hold, though. The education sequence — that’s going to have to happen, but I’m still not yet sure of everything I’m going to want to say. As for reincarnation, Druid tradition on that subject takes it as given that we’ve all been other than human in the past and will be other than human again in the future — to Druids, human beings aren’t the Chosen Species, after all.
Anioush, I’m sorry to say I’ve lost the reference. If I find it again I’ll post it here.
David, I’ll consider it. It seems like a perfectly logical next step in the replacement of human capacities by technology; next, people will be lining up to have their arms and legs cut off, so they can be replaced with shiny metal prostheses…
Jennifer, er, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Seriously.
JMG, I just extrapolated out my comment, thinking if everyone hurled every epithet at each other they possibly could, no holds barred, in a big hatefest at every opportunity, we just may lose the one last shred of civility we have left, and that’s not much. Sigh…
Temporaryreality, there’s that. One of the virtues of Buddhism is that it’s very rarely gotten into converting people at gunpoint or the equivalent.
Whispers, it is indeed. Thank you.
Tripp, thank you for that! Please give my best wishes to Desdemona; I tended goats back in my hippie-farm days, and remain very fond of the species. With regard to reincarnation, so noted; if that turns out to be the fifth Wednesday topic — and it’s leading the pack at this point — I’ll address your point.
James, nope. I’m not sure why he hasn’t joined in.
Nick, first, egregors are always shifting, always contested, always multiple, so yes, a shift in egregor is involved. Second, one basic rule of magic is that you oppose something only if you want to strengthen it; feeding Satanism or atheism ends up propping up Christianity. Third, of course it does, though some of them are counterintuitive!
DFC, no argument there. Among the many reasons that life in industrial civilization sucks is that the environment is so heavily laced with toxic chemicals and other pathogenic factors that more people have chronic illnesses than ever before.
Al, yep. Josephine County was just west of the county where I lived when I was in Oregon, and both counties shut down their public library systems completely because the cost was too high. A factor most people don’t realize is that a huge amount of rural real estate in the west is owned by the Federal government and so pays no property tax to the counties or the states; the private landowners, who own the remainder, thus have to pay much higher tax rates to provide the kind of budgets that counties elsewhere take for granted. In southern Oregon, and some other places as well, that’s finally reached the point where people are voting down even the most basic operating funds for local government, because it’s that or go broke.
Matt, I’ll certainly keep that one in mind!
Michael, exactly. Prayerful passivity is great if you don’t mind the fact that you’re actively encouraging other people to commit acts of violence against you…
Corydalidae, fair enough. We each have to decide where we’re going to draw the line between what we tolerate and what we don’t.
Justin, oh my. The cat has definitely landed among the pigeons!
John, no question, a symbolic approach is useful here. We bloat, our houses bloat (the average US single family house these days is larger than the average single family dwelling of any other culture in history), our possessions bloat…
Isabel, okay, that’s simply a matter of muscle weakness. You might try, three times a week, standing in that position for as long as you comfortably can, holding a light weight — say, a can from your pantry — in each hand. When it gets uncomfortable, raise the arms up to a slight angle and then back to straight, slowly, half a dozen times. Give that a couple of months, and that should build more than enough strength in the relevant muscles to allow you to do the practice well.
Shane, yep. On the other hand, if there are specific venues where that’s allowed, it may take a lot of the pressure off other venues…
@JMG: Awesomesauce, thanks!
JMG, yeah, I think I’m going to finish the book I’m reading and switch to Goodall’s works for a start. It’s kind of quixotic, I doubt I’ll make any difference in trying to understand group bifurcation in apes and the interplay between genes and culture, and how that relates to us hairless apes, but well, “It’s there”.
I used to have similar political views to yours. I have shifted to roughly the dead opposite owing to two things: 1. The behavior of the “pseudo-liberals” and 2. The behavior of the actual liberals.
The problem is not that you want to protect women or transgendered people. If you actually do care about women or transgendered people I commend you. My problem is not and will never be with people who want to protect women, or transgenders, including those who make these causes their major focus to the exclusion of others.
My problem is the left-wing social conflict narrative, which I find both false and, frankly, evil. Let me use the gender issue to illustrate.
I am a man. This means I am a member of the group that composes 90% of the prison population, 80% of the homeless population, 77% of all murder victims, 92% of all workplace fatalities, 75% of violent crime victims, 70-80% of suicide deaths and more than 99% of military casualties. I have never once heard a leftist mention these numbers except to dismiss them– by, for example, describing the catastrophic suicide rate among white men as a consequence of “white privilege” (that from the odious Tim Wise).
Are you aware of these numbers, and do they bother you? Do you understand that they are among many ways that men suffer harm in our societies in ways that are different from those ways that women suffer harm? Are you able to understand that being concerned about differential harm afflicted upon men does not require being unconcerned with differential harm done to women– or vice versa? If so, you are different from almost every other leftist, real or pseudo, that I’ve ever encountered.
Going further– And are you also aware of what a ludicrous stretch of the imagination would be required to blame the shocking rates of imprisonment, suicide or combat death among men on a conspiracy narrative about “The Matriarchy” and “Misandry”? If someone came to you with a story about how men’s problems were caused by female dominance, a story which just happened to have the exact same plotline as The Communist Manifesto but with different names for the protagonist and the villain… Would you maybe be a bit skeptical? And if that very same someone consistently tried to ignore and downplay the serious injustices that women suffer in our society; or to claim that they were either made up or the fault of women themselves; and to make you feel bad for being female (if, in fact, you are); and to deny or downplay any harm you’d suffered at the hands of men with lines like “In a matriarchy; women can’t be oppressed”; and to silence in the most hypersensitive fashion any criticism of the male gender–
Would all of that be enough to make you want to have nothing else to do with that person?
As a white American male, that’s how I feel about liberals, fake and real. I hate them.
And… Here’s the thing, and here’s why I’m telling you this–
I don’t WANT to hate liberals. People typically assume I’m a liberal, and from a cultural standpoint I very much am. And I see myself as very much in alignment with what liberals claim to stand for on a lot of issues. I have been an anti-racist my entire life– defining racism as race-based descrimination, not a special form of immoral behavior only white-skinned people are capable of– and I grew up in a place with an active Ku Klux Klan. But I care about individuals, not the groups that they can’t help being a part of.
And I also recognize that dividing the world into black and white, with black always and everywhere evil and white always and everywhere innocent is not only nearly always factually wrong, it’s morally reprehensible. Indeed, it’s the foundation upon which every genocide of the 20th century was based.
Until people in your camp can reject that worldview– which was also the worldview of George W. Bush, it’s worth remembering– you will get no support from me on anything, because for my own well-being I have to consider you my enemy.
I may have gone overboard in this post and JMG I will understand if you don’t put it through.
Right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage recently warned there will be a full-blown insurgency if Donald Trump is ousted:
He isn’t the only one. A former Navy SEAL and Marine Corps veteran named Craig “Sawman” Sawyer has also stated that if Trump is forced out of office, there will be an armed revolution, saying
“Anti-American subversives involved in ANY WAY in an unconstitutional coup against our President will be run down and executed immediately by the world’s most supreme warriors. There will be nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, no mercy, no sense of humor. Harsh examples will be made. My prediction is it will be a gruesome massacre. Why? Because one side in this conflict has 8 Trillion bullets & the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”
Predictions like these remind me a lot of Oswald Spengler’s discussion of the angry partisanship, escalating political violence and civil wars that engulfed the Roman Republic during its last century. The Age of Caesarism is fast approaching…
@onething: I have mislaid the exact quote, but Alice Paul said something to the effect that she supposed (with some heartache) that a lot of women might use their newly created voting power to vote for some very silly things but that was what freedom meant…. And if anyone knows what freedom means, it was Alice Paul. In my opinion.
Found it! ‘I think if we get freedom for women, then they are probably going to do a lot of things that I wish they wouldn’t do,’ she said shortly before her death. ‘But it seems to me that isn’t our business to say what they should do with it. It is our business to see that they get it.’ http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/alice-paul
“Might other such rituals be helpful in giving people alternatives to emotional amputation? And if so, how might we contribute to their creation and dissemination?“
Good questions. I suggest that play (as in what children do) is a good way to express and to explore emotions.
Of course these days many parents micro-manage their children‘s play time in such a way as to amputate expression of bad/negative/evil emotions.
The Greeks used public theater, and encouraged audience participation, the cathartic experience of tragedy, to give a forum for the darker emotions.
Then there are all the therapies such as role playing, men’s and women’s “sharing circles”, acting out one’s inner conflicts and emotions using members of a group as your “cast of characters”, etc.
In the 60’s-70’s, I worked at Esalen Institute in Big Sur where many of these modern rituals were developed.
Later I became a member of a long-running men’s group which provided, among other services, a safe space for the expression of, and exploration of, socially unacceptable emotions.
Mentoring of younger people by experienced Elders is another ritual that can be developed now. I was part of a coming-of-age program for teens that created a safe/sacred space for young people to explore a range of emotions and behaviours. This program held 5 day outdoor events for a maximum of 12 teens with experienced 6 adults. We used various rituals: sweat lodge, role playing, games, sharing circles, theater, vision quest, and so on.
Silva and Isabel,
I tracked down the original article for the quote about “Henry”: “Radicalizing the Romanceless” by Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex:
The part that really impressed me was section VII, where he digs into statistics. He summarizes:
“If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history – then you are the population most at risk of being miserable and alone.”
This fits in with a picture that has been forming in my mind about what happened to young men like myself: we got lied to about basically everything. (This is especially true for us “90’s kids.” See: https://thoughtcatalog.com/jacob-geers/2015/12/this-profound-tumblr-post-explains-why-90s-kids-are-endlessly-obsessed-with-the-90s/)
Probably the main reason we think being “nice guys” ought to get us dates is because that’s what we were taught to believe. Our parents said, “The girls are going to love you, because you’re kind and respectful,” and TV presented us with countless stories where the girl starts off with the nasty jerk but ends up with the underdog nice guy after he proves his worth. They didn’t do this out of malice; I think they genuinely wanted to believe that was true, that true love would see through superficialities and straight to the heart, or somesuch.
The reality, of course, is that a romantic relationship is not a morality play where “right will always win and love will never end” (to slightly misuse some Amy Grant lyrics). Very few people are lucky enough to fall in love at first sight and have that relationship last all their lives, though it does happen. For the rest of us, in the eyes of potential partners, we’re one more brand at the supermarket, and we have to do something to make ourselves stand out, which could be through appearance, status, personality, or a mix of all those. And of course, standing out can also backfire on us, and certainly what appeals to one potential partner will be a turn-off for another.
I get that the transactional/market aspect of relationships gets massively overplayed in certain circles, but I can’t think of a clearer way of emphasizing the aspect of “Out of the dozens/hundreds/thousands of other candidates, why would anyone give YOU a second thought?” The point is that everyone filters out the vast majority of potential partners on rather superficial grounds, and you’ve got to be interesting enough to get past that filter. Then the work of establishing a non-mercantile relationship can begin.
To bring this back around where we started, one of the reasons that men with dark triad/dark tetrad personality traits tend to have more success than “nice guys” is that they tend to be really good at getting past that filter. I also suspect that young women have been told a comparable pack of lies and abusers prey on those.
Shane, yep. On the other hand, if there are specific venues where that’s allowed, it may take a lot of the pressure off other venues…
I don’t know if this is what you were going for, but that sounds remarkably like 4chan, where slurs are thrown around so casually they’ve arguably lost a good deal of their original meaning there.
Also, can I switch my vote for the 5th post to reincarnation? I hope you’ll say something about the concept of personal identity within the traditions–such as the Kemetic tradition–that posit a multi-part soul, where each part can have its own afterlife. (This actually overlaps with my interest in a post on ego, as both deal with the issue of who exactly this “I” person is.)
@ David By The Lake and JMG, regarding ‘biohacking’ and the need to augment/replace bits of the human body with doodads: some people in that scene are seeing a significant fall-off in interest, and are even associating a precipitous fall within that trend with the 2016 election. Those who have messed around with these things are also finally starting to see the downsides and issues with the very minor things theyve done (magnets within fingertips that lose power with time and turn into knots of painful scar tissue, RFID chips that break, anchors that get rejected) and are being severely disillusioned.
Title: “I hacked my body for a future that never came” It’s quite the read!
First of all, thank you for providing us with such enlightening writing through the years. I’ve garnered a lot from your work. For the final post this month, I’d love to see you delve into the specifics of magic being something everyone does all the time.
Is it then essentially instinctual acts of symbolism that cause changes in the consciousness of our fellow man, more so than ourselves? Do deities play into this untrained form of magic at all?
@ onething (and JMG permitting!)
You said: “I guess when discussing amputation and women in Islam, it is rather difficult not to immediately jump to the problem of female circumcision. I do realize that the practice predates Islam and that it is not practiced in all places,”
Note (with due respect!) that you have answered your query yourself! But for the sake of completeness, this detestable habit has been repeatedly condemened by muslim theologians for it has no basis on scripture and it violates the overall spirit of the Quran which is that of compassion and mercy.
Note that each chapter of the Quran begins with the following: ” In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful”. It took me a good 35 years to realise that if each chapter so begins, it is an encouragment for each of us to be also merciful and gracious in our daily lives!
You also wrote: “It just seems to me that the demanding rules on women’s behavior in Islam and marriage are all on one side.”
Not exactly, as I said the way islamic rules are and have been applied have varied tremedously across muslim societies. By and large, Quranic scripture tries to establish some balance between the 2 partners in a marriage. For instance it says that “women are like a garnment for men just like men are a garnment for women”.
However sripture does give a bit more authority to married men over married women, but it is not absolute command, nor is it a free for all licence to impose anything and everything on women. Once more that would violate the overall spirit of scripture with its insistence on charity, compassion and modesty.
I hope I have answered satisfactorily your legitimate queries, and you are quite welcomed for you or anybody else to query me on those matters, assuming JMG permits! Or may be I should have my own blog!
@Tripp, thank you for sharing the story of Desdemona. So glad to hear your family was able to save her. This was one of the first things I read during my morning coffee drinking whilst checking weather and a few blogs on line, and somehow made me a little happier to head out for another work day. 🙂 Wishing you and your family, human and critter, all the best!
Anioush, the commonality between the Jews and the Germans in Greer’s comment is the guilt-by-accusation for a past misdeed. Besides that, there are more differences tham similarities in the situation.
The German arrogance has to do with the attempt to have an economic empire in Europe without the wisdom to do so, Partly, it is simply an expression the attitude of konowing everything better than others. This played, quite a few years ago, a role in condemning the winning of the Austrian Presidency by Jörg Haider. There was, and is, too, the mania of comparing every disliked president or ruler with Adolf Hitler.
To those who agree with the guy on Google with the 10-page screed that women’s disadvantage is tech is justified because “women like people and men like things” – that something is true statistically for a group does not prove anything about any given member of the group. Nor does answering examples with “Well, that’s an exception” stand up to logical analysis. Statistics do explain the discrepancy in numbers, but not in pay, advancement, or anything else related to the individual’s employment. And many women who quit, have done so not because “we like people more”, but because “we ran into more discouragement than it was cost-effective for us to deal with.” Let the flames begin.
I have the Post Comment button problem on one computer with Firefox, but not on the other computer with Firefox. I’ll look into the why of it and see whether I can make heads or tails of the situation. Probably not though.
Oh before I forget, so much visual media is full of ideal images of humans that we mistake those images as the ideal human. I don’t reckon that those ideal images are a good idea to hold out as normal because generally they are displayed to make you feel bad so that people can sell products or services to you so as to make you feel better again. It is not a very nice practice when in reality we are a species that exhibits a huge diversity of lived examples.
Probably not a bad idea for people to turn off the TV. That TV stuff ain’t free.
If you are tallying interest for the August 30 post, +1 for metempsychosis.
Re amputations and “shiny metal prostheses”
A horrid and macabre image indeed. What worries me — though I get the humor — is that your prognostications have proven uncannily accurate at times and this is one case where I honestly hope that you turn out to be wrong, even if the prediction was half-jest. Unfortunately, I could all too readily see people lining up for just that kind of “improvement” or other similar procedures (bionic eyes, additional mental processing capability, musculoskeletal augmentation, etc). Quite sad.
Please consider writing your occasionally trailed post on Tolkien, His work has been part of my mental landscape since I was a boy and so much of that landscape has been changed and challenged by your work, I am very keen to here your in depth thoughts on the Lord of the Rings.
In terms of chakras sex is obvious. Hate would be belly chakra. That makes one assertive, in control, also violent. One episode of star trek kirk had a split personality which was not survivable as it was jekyll and hyde type. Good and evil must be integrated. Heart chakra is necessary(love) as well as belly chakra(agression) and sex. I suppose after societal collapse science will be despised so that intellect, third eye chakra, will be blocked by society.
I think islam is now where we were 19th century. Sex is taboo but anger, violence is ok. Left/right wing divide is very much a heart/ belly thing and female /male, yin/yang. Since 1960s ‘love is the answer’ and spread of film sex, pornography, sexuality has become a solution to problems for people. Perhaps sport, intellectual exercises, religion, etc. might be more appropriate. Sex is overemphasized.
Hate healthy? Anger management. Appropriate response seems the answer. Let the spirit guide you so to speak. Jesus had righteous anger outbreak. Can we break karmic vicious cycle by turning other cheek, loving enemy as jesus suggested? Are we just wussing out, getting used by sociopaths? Pacifism as a bad game? We are the slowly boiling frog in a societal game made by TPTB. Trump was hate answer to that, appropriate response. Now society is divided over that decision and deep state keeps it ineffective.
Traditional group hatreds like racism, misogyny seem useless except as a transitional phase for those unfamiliar with a strange group, collecting information. Wars happen after initial friendships, contacts. Rules of engagement change between nations, spouses, ethnic groups. Tension will out. Wallow in your hate/ anger but get it under control. Become rational. Heart chakra is by far largest magnetic field controlling others. In survival situation we must choose who to love then go to war, defining the other as less than us. That is history.
I find this essay a bit undercooked for a better term. It is due to I feel hate isn’t something to be embraced, just like the same way you don’t embrace nefs. Even when the hate is justified being rational brings better results.
As for cutting something to be perfect, that attitude has been around and will be around for a longtime and their followers could for all purposes be called “Abstinence Only” crowd.
@James: Very true, though as a happy single person myself, I don’t have much patience with anyone who conflates “alone” and “miserable”-grown ups should be able to entertain and take care of themselves. (Or, for that matter, those who conflate “lack of romantic partner” with “being alone”. Join a book club, Hypothetical Sad Sack, or a softball team, and stop thinking human contact is only valuable when it’s touching your junk.)
Otherwise, totally agreed-and superficial criteria for an at-least-partly-physical arrangement are quite important!
I myself would restrict the romcoms etc as much as we do porn, and maybe more so. Certainly if one is potentially damaging, the other is just as much so.
“that something is true statistically for a group does not prove anything about any given member of the group.” I agree. From what I can gather the author of that screed would too. When talking about diversity in terms of the ratio of men and women working in a field/job we are talking about groups. So I think women are entirely capable of coding, but expecting that enough women will want to that we get to 50/50 representation might not be realistic. A corporation that thinks they can do this might be wasting resources and causing blowback amongst the people who realize this and find it a waste. By all means their I’m sure their is discrimination all over the place in the tech industry, but if you think the causes of women’s under representation in the tech field are due entirely to social cultural factors, I would encourage you to look into the norwegian gender paradox a bit more. Their is an entertaining documentary on the subject that interviews a lot of people in doing the research on sex differences.
In re: cyber additions, that’s one of those things where, on the one hand, I’m not tempted–but I would have Lasik if I thought it’d work, and if I could do it with no side effects I’d certainly have bits of my body removed and others enhanced–so if that’s what other people want to do, good luck to ’em, I guess?
I mean, Nature wanted me to be a brunette with an overbite, unpierced ears, and probably a somewhat different shape than I currently have, and I decided that none of those worked for me, so it’s really just a matter of degrees. 🙂
Re hate – absolutely agreed that we should acknowledge the hatreds we might be nurturing under the surface. Amputating or repressing such feelings can only result in return-of-the-repressed blowback, usually in a negative manner. But there’s another step we can take, I think, and that’s acknowledging the pain and suffering that we might have inflicted on others. When my head gets in a broil about the bullying I suffered as a child, I also tend to reflect on the bullying that I inflicted on others – and while none of my childhood acquaintances would think of me as having been a 24/7 all-purpose bully, I did do some. As far as I’m know, I might today be living in the head of some guy who clearly remembers an unkind word or snide put down I favored him with back in the day and that made feel awful.
This makes me cringe with guilt – and I’m not going to repress that feeling for the same reasons I won’t repress the hatreds I experience. By fully acknowledging it, I hope to put it into proper balance with the rest of my emotions. Still, it serves to remind me that I’d like to be forgiven my transgressions on the grounds that I was a immature idiot trying to deflect the bullying inflicted on me onto others, and that I’m a flawed human who has committed transgressions and is now trying mightily to learn from them.
I think knowing that those who have inflicted injustices on us will have to confront themselves in some purgatorial state, here or on the other side, helps balance the perspective re the hatreds we might feel. Bible says, “Only in Christ is there forgiveness”, and I think that means only by an encompassing spiritual vision can there be an understanding and forgiveness of others, of ourselves.
JMG, Your perspective in this post reminds me of the premise of Spiral Dynamics: transcend and include earlier stages of development. What do you think about process philosophy? Whitehead etal.? It would seem to be contrary — in certain respects — to the cyclical version of history. Interestingly enough, one of the best known living process philosophy writers is David Ray Griffin. (DRG has written a number of books questioning the official 9/11 story.)
If their are any readers of JMG in the Spokane area who are also interested in gardening and cooking, please feel free to contact me. Search my name, Spokane, and linkedin for contact info.
Re: the discussion on obesity by county:
Here is a link to a county obesity map based on 2008 CDC statistics. https://goo.gl/images/JJGyDz
And here is the CDC site with a variety of reports, but it requires updated adobe flash player, which I don’t have, so I’m not sure how recent or illustrative the maps are.
Booklover, interesting. Is it the Germans themselves then who compare rulers to Hitler, or the others? Do you happen to remember the original quote, or who wrote it? In terms of guilt-by-accusation, I agree with some friends from other European countries that Germans may have done more documentation and reflection about historical guilt than anyone else, and are free to point out to other peoples that they could do the same about their own dictatorships, collaborations and colonialisms.
JMG, thank you. In your opinion, what is the best way to leave a blame game? It doesn’t strike me as very efficient to just turn the thing around by saying “You call us Nazis, but we are the new Jews!”
@Ahmet Berke Kevser –
I don’t think anybody’s calling for an “embrace” of hatred here, rather a full, conscious acknowledgment of one’s hatred instead of sweeping it under the rug, so to speak. To treat hatred with rationality one first must retrieve it from the realm of the irrational – which is where it will ultimately cause the most damage to one’s self and to others.
@eric the red – I saw a funny reference to this uprising on twitter last week. “In this country one side has 7 trillion rounds of ammunition, the other side can’t decide which bathroom to use.” Not hateful but definitely insulting.
Patricia, the way I read the Google memo, he agrees with you that statistical differences between groups of people don’t tell us anything about any given individual within one of those groups. As such, I’ve found most of the outrage about the Google memo unsupported by the actual memo.
More generally re: the Google memo and semi-related to this week’s post, I found that the uproar over the memo and the way the media has, IMO, mis-characterized it has got my hate-y internet outrage juices flowing and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think its because I was raised to believe that most sex differences were socially constructed and then felt lied to when my own life experiences contradicted that belief. That cognitive dissonance ultimately led me to become very skeptical of identity politics. However, as a Millienial woman with many “progressive” friends, I don’t feel like I can talk openly about that without risking ostracism.
Well, this has certainly taken the lid off of a lot of things that needed saying. I’m pretty far on the left-liberal part of the spectrum, but I can’t subscribe to most of what passes for left-liberal ideology these days – it seems like both sides of the fight have lost sight of the goal, which is to build a society that’s fair for everyone.
James – apparently nice guys don”t finish last!
Not that it worked for me 🙂
Great post this week, and I know it’s late in the cycle, but there’s something you’ve mentioned a few times that could use some clarification. Specifically, when you write (e.g. to Al above)
“A factor most people don’t realize is that a huge amount of rural real estate in the west is owned by the Federal government and so pays no property tax to the counties or the states”
are you including the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes program from the Dept. of Interior. Through this program, the feds pay county governments over $450 million per year to offset the lack of tax revenue.
Josephine County, OR, from your example, received $885,422 this year from this program for the 700,000+ acres of federal land in the county. That’s not quite 1% of the county’s total budget, and compares not too shabbily to the total county property tax revenues of $5.5 million, considering that federal lands are “unimproved”.
“PILT payments are in addition to other Federal revenues (such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting) the Federal Government transfers to states.”
I’m not sure if you’re aware of the program, but it’s worth keeping in mind when discussing the issue of federal lands, taxes, and the potential for increased revenue some states see from taking over federal lands.
Well, one reason why women choose “interesting” guys over reliable guys is that they can control whether or not they get pregnant and they can support themselves financially, generally speaking – women earn more than men in the 20-30 year old cohort these days, you know.
However it’s worth noting that women are more miserable than ever and their suicide and drug abuse rates are rising rapidly. I don’t take pleasure in this even though I normally enjoy schadenfreude – there are plenty of miserable women who I care about.
There’s something so absurd and tragic about it all. Whenever I start thinking about these sort of things, I find myself wishing for the ability to consciously articulate the full horrors of late stage liberal nilhism but at the same time feeling a sensation of fear. It’s Lovecraftian in nature, a great extradimensional beast that can only be seen in horrifying glimpses and never in it’s totality – and it’s almost as if if you could name it, it would summon more horrors into the world, but you can’t look away or ignore it either.
Steve T, yes, I’m a woman, and I have close relatives who are transgendered and gay. Caring about issues relevant to us comes naturally, since I’ve had bad experiences with being physically threatened and having verbal abuse hurled at me. I’ve also had a relative attacked physically, and one relative denied the vote due to bureaucratic problems related to their birth certificate. The last situation has gone on for years and is still true. I really don’t want to find out what happens if some people decide it is open season on people in these categories because that could involve someone I love dearly getting beaten up or dying.
Thanks for that, but to my mind your link seems to confirm my thesis: if I read the article correctly, the choices presented were not “nice guy” vs “bad boy” but something along the lines of “nice guy” vs “nobody special.” Of course the “nice guy” wins that comparison — even the a fairly boring Nice Guy is more interesting than Joe Nobody, and so in a contest between the two, Nice Guy gets past the filter more easily.
The real test would be between “nice guy” descriptions and descriptions that have an undertone of dark triad/tetrad characteristics. My guess is that the latter would win most of the time because while nice guys may be the salt of the earth, dark triad characteristics are the capsaicin of the soul: too much is painful, even lethal, but it really livens up a dish!
Yes, I am aware that there are some issues that affect men worse than women. The ones I’ve thought about most are these: a) the great recession seems to have caused more job losses to men than to women, b) war deaths do seem to be mostly men, including civilian deaths. That one deserves more press than it gets – as best I can tell, what is happening is that militants often kill a man where they would rape or enslave a woman, c) most successful suicides are men, and d) overdoses and related deaths are happening primarily to men. I can’t speak to the numbers you quoted, since you haven’t cited your sources and I live in Canada and they probably aren’t identical.
Question for you: how do you think we should get men’s issues to a place where they can be spoken of and ameliorated, without it transforming into ‘women are such fools’ or ‘transgendered people are a threat’?
John Roth, couldn’t agree more. It seems like a lot of people are spending a lot of time and energy talking past each other while getting very angry.
Regarding the cultural definition of gender roles. There’s the reality that a civilization lives in. There’s the sex-linked personality differences which are a consequence of human biology. The socially determined gender roles are roles which map accurately onto the combined reality-sex complex.
“Also, can I switch my vote for the 5th post to reincarnation? … (This actually overlaps with my interest in a post on ego, as both deal with the issue of who exactly this “I” person is.)”
Well if a post on reincarnation covers at least partially an answer to the question of what this “I” thing is… I’m voting for that then!
It’s quite late for another suggestion for fifth Wednesday, but I simply had the idea right now: poetry for the future ahead. Your choices and the readers. Robinson Jeffers. T.S. Eliot. Boethius. Whatever.
On transsexuals and the gender wars in general: some observations from my 57 years on the planet. [Disclosure: I am pretty far to the left on most issues, though I am about equally perturbed by the resurgent biological essentialism on the right and by the identity politics that seem to have taken over the left (JMG, I think that you are absolutely right that the latter is a convenient distraction from dealing with real issues).]
Anyway, I think that if I were a young girl today, I might be self-identifying as trans, asking for puberty to be delayed, considering reassignment surger,y etc. And for that long-ago young girl, that would be an expensive and painful mistake. The problem was not and is not my biological sex. The problem was that I did not and do not fit people’s ideas about ‘what women are like’; I don’t even fit most people’s ideas about what women who are not typical women are like, if that makes sense. I would rather work with things (or better still, ideas) than people, have no interest in appearing ‘attractive’ (nor, for that matter, do I go out of my way to appear unattractive), and I don’t have a maternal bone in my body. But I have no desire to be a man, either, though when I was young, I could easily have been persuaded that I did – what I really wanted was 1) for my ideas to be taken seriously and 2) not to be the object of sexual desire. In other words, what I really wanted was for it to be acceptable to be the kind of woman I am. In my sixth decade, I have accomplished this to a significant degree, in part by surviving past reproductive age and its complications, in part by _not_ amputating socially deviant parts of myself and allowing people to get used to them instead, in part because of the changes wrought by feminism that made it possible for me to earn my living as a professional (yup, 20%-er here, but at least trying to do something more constructive with my life than to cling like grim death to what I have while pretending to save the world). Anyway, this is why talk of ‘what women are like’ distresses me – it feels like an effort to shove me back into a cage I have spent my life evading. But my personal experience also makes me aware of the dark side of trans acceptance, which on the one hand I think is a matter of simple decency towards genuinely trans folks, and on the other makes me worry that weird kids (like the little girl I was, long ago) will see drastic measures as a way to ‘fix’ themselves.
But I also think the people who say that there are differences between men and women _on_average_ are correct. The problem is that the discussion too often stops there. Some differences – color preferences, to take a trivial example – are likely to be cultural rather than biological, and it can be very difficult to tell which are which. The larger problem (as I think Patricia pointed out earlier) is that we are looking at statistical distributions here, and when looking at a Gaussian distribution, its width – the standard deviation – is _just_as_crucial_ to understanding the pattern as is the average itself. To take another trivial example: men are on average taller than women. But there is an extensive area of overlap for the distributions of the heights of men and women: a 5’8″ woman _or_ man is not an ‘exception’ or ‘anomaly’ that can be dismissed but just an ordinary person that no one would look twice at on the street. It seems to me that the area of overlap is likely to be quite large with many other traits as well. With issues less trivial than height, though, humans are categorical thinkers and tend to default to thinking ‘average’ = ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ or ‘universal’ or even ‘right and proper and therefore in need of social enforcement’. Conservatives are far more likely than liberals to voice the principle – a principle with which I agree – of looking at the individual rather than the ‘identity’. I would appreciate that principle’s being more consistently applied to women and liberals, as well.
Anioush, I don’t know of a particulat quote. The Hitler comparisons are nothing specifically German, they are coming from other countries, too. Among the politicians denigrated as new Hitlers were Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, possibly Jörg Haider, and a few others. That the Germans did reflect about the Third Reich and its atrocities was and is a good thing, but there is a certain obsessiveness about it. It would probably lead to far to try to explain why this is so and why it is particular a thing of the leftists.
Isabel, to James’ answer I want to add that is a good idea to read the whole post (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/31/radicalizing-the-romanceless/) before jumping to conclusions. On websites for dating advice, and the like, it has become standard fare to criticize men for complaining about how difficult it is to find a partner, and criticize them as whiners, when it is clear that dating for men in late Western Civilization is indeed difficult and the currently approved ideas about this subject are clearly and mostly dysfunctional.
JMG and others, I recommend to keep tabs on the story of James Damore and his manifesto. The subject is only tangential to hate as such, but it seems to me that the political infighting between leftist-liberals and those with other viewpoints is now really starting, among other causes because of the growing totalitarism and the echo-chamber character of the left.
Found my way to the new blog at last! Thanks for this one, JMG, it took me ages to realize that there are people who really do think hatred is the root of all evil and even longer to work out what was wrong with that idea! Whoever said upthread, to paraphrase, that ‘not being a Nazi’ became the west’s new moral compass after Nietzsche was spot on I think.
The rule about ‘what you resist persists’ – does that only apply on the plane of ideas? Because in the material world, say, in war, the winning side could always be said to have resisted the other side successfully. Invading forces are often successfully resisted without their being strengthened by it. But then in martial arts, there’s an idea very similar isn’t there about using the opponent’s strength against them with skill rather than just, say, armwrestling?
But on the plane of ideas, when you disagree with someone, isn’t that resisting too? People do tend to dig their heels in more sometimes when someone argues with them. But you have a way of avoiding triggering that too much and I can’t work out what it is! Does resisting mean something more specific?
I think I’ll be Dot here in honour of my old tech problems and just because I quite like the name, but it’s mallow.
John Roth, building a society that’s fair to everyone is not everyone’s goal by a long shot at any point on the political spectrum. Even among those for whom it is, they very often have other, competing goals, and define fairness differently.
Anioush, it’s guilt by association – with some of your 1930’s ancestors – not by accusation. Many Germans and Austrians certainly do still inflict it on themselves and on others and one of the consequences is your insane attempts at redemption through pathologizing criticisms of your immigration policies particularly. The truth is a very efficient way out of any blame game. And it doesn’t matter who said it – lots of people have said it, for decades, and they all have a point.
Germans are of course free to go around preaching at the rest of us, we all do that to each other, but if your attitude is that you’ve ‘earned’ that freedom by doing more reflection (whatever that means) than anyone else, that’s not going down too well you know. All that does is show that you’ve turned the guilt into another way to feel that your moral superiority entitles you to tell less ‘reflective’ cultures what to do. Again…
Patricia, why are these things always a screed, a rant, an outburst when people don’t like the contents, regardless of the length of the text? The implication always seems to be that ‘that baboon over there’ is suspected of being motivated by anger and therefore can be ignored as irrational and immoral to boot Meanwhile, you don’t seem to have even bothered to read it before critiquing it because you’re either misunderstood or misrepresented most of it.
The only place where you disagree with him is on the cause of differences in pay and advancement. You might simply be wrong about that. Statistics, as in psychological research, may well explain much, though not all, of those differences just at it mostly does with relative representation.
Women are on average more agreeable and agreeable people are worse at negotiating pay so they get paid less in a capitalist system. Leadership roles usually require dealing with more interpersonal conflict and again, the more agreeable you are, the less likely you are to seek out, or remain in, such a role. Women are also on average lower in emotional stability and, again, this makes them statistically less likely to go into more high pressure upper management.
Whether all that is true or false though, no one gets fired for stating your views these days. On the contrary, people with your views are now the ones running multinational corporations like Google and firing people like memo guy – often, I’m sure, without even bothering to read what they actually said. And then you claim you’re the one at risk of being ‘flamed’. Better than fired isn’t it?
Onething, FGM in Islam is contained in the hadiths not the Quran. You could then look up the position of all 4 mainstream Sunni schools of sharia on it – two say it is obligatory, two say it is preferred. They derive those positions from the hadiths. It encrusts in dogma what everyone knows was a pre-existing practice.
“If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history – then you are the population most at risk of being miserable and alone.”
James, nice guys losing out isn’t the only way of interpreting that. I think a good explanation is that, in general, women are looking for men who are dangerous, yes, who are in touch with their inner monster if you like, but who have that under control. Jordan Peterson is good on this. Often, guys who’ve been taught to be nice in our culture have actually been taught to be harmless and naïve instead and to act more agreeable than they really are. That’s what turns women off – it’s not the niceness, it’s the absence of power.
And the worst thing is that we’re all taught to be nice these days (girls get the pressure to repress their anger and hatred even more than boys – that’s one of the reasons we end up with abusers by the way), and the result, to be blunt with you, is that women can often sense that some of those ever so ‘nice’ guys actually have a whole lot of repressed anger and resentment going on underneath. Sometimes more so, believe it or not, than the guys who are openly trouble.
The underdog nice guy proving his worth always does so by getting in touch, at least a bit, with his own dark personality traits and owning them. A man who’s done that is attractive in a way that goes beyond superficial looks or money or talents or whatever (not that those don’t matter). Well adjusted women have a radar for it. So I hear anyway hehe…
@Booklover: Dating is difficult for everyone–different difficulties for men and women at times, due to the way society’s set up. Nonetheless, if someone spends all their time complaining about how hard it is to find a partner or how awful single life is, they’re pretty whiny and I don’t have a lot of sympathy. I didn’t have much for the Bridget Jones Girls either, back ten or twenty years ago when I saw more of *them*.
First of all, nobody is owed a significant other. Second, as a general rule, if someone can’t or won’t be happy without a romantic partner, or can’t or won’t handle the dating scene without massive amounts of self-pity, then that person’s generally the *last* person who should be part of a couple.
On jerks v. “nice guys” in general, one additional factor I didn’t think of yesterday: particularly if you’re young or dating casually, dating jerks is easier. If hypothetical-I date a decent guy who behaves well, but I get tired of the relationship or the chemistry’s not there or etc, then either I have to stay in a situation I don’t like for the indefinite future, or I have to hurt a fundamentally decent person, which is no fun. If I date a jerk and want to dump him, then I don’t need to be nearly so careful.
In short: if the guy’s a jerk, *I* can be a jerk, and that can be relaxing for the young and experimental. 🙂
Also what Dot says.
@Ann Groa – we must be contemporaries: you took the words right out of my mouth. In every respect and in every detail. Actually, fantasy fiction, specifically Marion Zimmer Bradley, provided me a halfway decent role model I could fit myself into (The Free Amazons/Renuciates of Darkover), for all her general crabbiness and many personal faults. And of course, Wonder Woman, and to my mother’s distress, Catwoman; and some of the strong women from the 1940s world of film and novels. My favorite statement was “Feminism is the belief that women are people.” Not a specialized subspecies with 3 or 4 functions with respect to The Real (male) People.
Pat, watching things change for better than 3/4 of a century.
@Patricia – I coped by identifying with male characters. I didn’t want their physiology, just their adventures… Total agreement, though, on the root ideal of feminism’s being to treat people as people.
One last word about who is and is not emotionally unstable: you very seldom hear of a woman (those born to absolute power excepted) going into a lethally violent rage and shooting up the workplace or the other driver or killing a spouse for laughing at them, or simply the random violence of a predator on the prowl. A lot of women carry some low-level fear of this violence, whether the fear is justified or not. So do the elderly, the weak and disabled, I’m sure. Not that we can’t be violent, and sometimes are – my daughter, in childhood, tangled with a gang of 9-year-old she-bullies. Got away without a scratch because, as she reminded me proudly, she was then “The fastest 9-year-old miler in the Southwest.” But even so … the news, slanted towards blood & gore as it may be, bears out the fear.
Patricia, that’s not what’s meant by the personality trait labelled emotional stability – which used to be called neuroticism. You’re confusing it with propensity to violence. But you do realize that no one is saying that women are emotionally unstable and men are emotionally stable right?
As a postscript to the Google memo controversy, many of you probably read both the original memo and a rebuttal by a former Google engineer named Yonatan Zunger
Well, here is another essay arguing that Zunger’s counter-screed inadvertently shows why the tech industry is so dysfunctional and why so much software these days is bloated, unreliable, user-unfriendly, bug-filled garbage, something we have all had experience with.
Jack Baruth writes
Here’s what I did find interesting: a former Distinguished Engineer at Google named Yonatan Zunger decided to write a lengthy screed detailing how and why he’d have walked that unfortunate, naive engineer right out the door. I think his post was probably meant to be nothing more than a public declaration of fealty to the golden calf of progressive thinking, an affirmation of group membership similar to the various abuse heaped on Trotsky after the fact by anybody who wanted to be found alive the next morning.
These impassioned reiterations of the status quo have become much more common lately, and most of them, the Zunger piece not excluded, boil down to The Progressive Theology Is Never Wrong And Here’s Another Reason For That Unchallenged Supremacy Which Had Probably Not Occurred To You Until Right Now. Five hundred years ago, scientists used to regularly write pieces about how you could Clearly See The Existence Of The Christian God In The Design Of The Hummingbird Nectar Tube. Their purpose then, as now, was to provide preemptive evidence against any future charges of heresy — and then, as now, they were utterly ineffective.
Yet this pile-on piece is much more than that. It’s a completely accidental, but utterly truthful, explanation of why modern software is so thoroughly, horrifyingly bad. It’s also a graphic reminder that nerds are gonna nerd, so to speak, with all the positive and negative consequences that result. So what I would like to do is ignore most of the crap on both sides about whether or not women should be programmers and focus on the inadvertent, but hugely relevant, revelations in Mr. Zunger’s post. You don’t have to be a programmer to click the jump; in fact, if you know nothing about computers, this will help you understand why computers and websites and whatnot are so hard to use.
Among other things, Baruth points out that Zunger’s contention that “anyone can learn how to write code” is a widespread conceit among tech industry executives and is a major reason why a lot of software released in recent years has been so gawd-awful.
Another of Scott Alexander’s colleagues, a blogger who goes by the Prussian, wrote a great article on contemporary feminism and its tendency to attack “nice guys” way more viciously than men who are statistically more likely to be actual misogynists. His argument is that a lot of so-called progressives in western societies are really just bullies and bullies will take a soft target over a hard target any day:
“Now, if western feminism is just plain bullying, then we should also expect cowardice. All bullies are cowards, and are quick to prostrate themselves before the bigger thug. Street punks instinctively avoid heavy hitters and mobsters.
The problem with feminists relying on shame as their weapon is that you cannot shame those who are shameless (frat boys, PUAs) or those who are enthralled to a far stronger shaming code (the military way, Islam). Make no mistake about it: when it comes to using shame as a bludgeon, feminists are pikers – the gangbangers and petty hoodlums of shame. Conversely, Islam is the Cosa Nostra of shame, an empire built on shame that has endured over a millennium.
Suddenly the abject, crawling cowardice western feminists show before Islam makes sense, no?”
Getting a man fired from his job at Google because he wrote a relatively inoffensive essay doesn’t strike me as particularly progressive. He was just another easy target who couldn’t fight back. Most nerdy guys can’t. People automatically perceive them as weak and uncharismatic, and its just human nature to strike down at the wretched.
Likely a bit too late to the comment thread, but wanted to wade in on “obesity” as a few comments caught my attention. This also may be too off-topic altogether so I completely understand if this doesn’t see the light of day as well. I have great respect for your curation of the comments JMG.
Science as practice (and not religion) has its uses and one of them is to be able to do an end run around our pattern-seeking-an anecdote-is-as-good-proven-fact brains. “Obesity” is as much a cultural construct as is gender.
Fat is one of our largest endocrine organs and not a storage unit. It has the capacity to enlarge in size when the body is under stress. That’s why the poorly named “obesity paradox” exists in countless systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The fatter you are the better your morbidity and mortality outcomes are when compared to average-sized people with the same disease state under review. Calling it an obesity paradox is an oxymoron because there’s nothing really paradoxical about a larger endocrine organ providing better metabolic modulation such that better morbidity and mortality outcomes are realized for a body facing stress and disease, but it was not the expected outcome for obesity researchers and so their naming of it stuck.
If people pause to consider what they believe about fatness being equated with an energy in/out equation, they could just scratch the surface of scientific inquiry and find both the medical industrial complex and class elitism there in plain sight helping us average-sized and thin folk enact our status through “healthy” eating and exercise all while reinforcing a robust Calvinistic sense of everything being in our locus of control and shaming those for whom it appears such upstanding self-control is wanting.
So you may know someone or be someone who has lost weight and restored your health in some way but that has more to do with confusing correlation with causation — just a confirmation bias I’m afraid. And let’s face it, we are all a decidedly elitist bunch here even as many have dropped off, or been pushed, from the status into which our geographic origins, education, likely skin colour and it appears for many here even genitals as well, automatically affords us (or once afforded us in our lifetimes).
If you want a repository of references on the misconceptions of obesity you could check out: https://www.edinstitute.org/obesity/ – likely just go with Obesity Basic Facts 1 and 2 and Obesity Science in Context and scroll to the bottom of each post for the references.
And if you want to know a bit more about all the misconceptions of diabetes type 2 then: https://www.edinstitute.org/paper/2017/1/25/diabetes-mellitus-type-2-metformin-disease-risk-and-you and https://www.edinstitute.org/paper/2017/8/8/diabetes-2-recovery-insulin-existential-threat-bias-and-decisions. And somewhat related would be: https://www.edinstitute.org/paper/2017/2/6/biomarkers-and-the-fear-they-represent — how we confuse biomarkers with clinical endpoints (again primarily thanks to the medical industrial complex).
Yes, it’s a site that’s all about eating disorders so it’ll have that slant and that’s because our cultural constructs of fatness drive many to a pathological fear of food.
Isabel Kunkle, your answer is insightful. I didn’t want to attack anyone. But there is, what I didn’t mention, a difference between complainers, whose inner life is dysfunctional, and other perople, who don’t have the inner problems, but whose lives are still difficult. The problem, about which this all was in the first place, is, that about such things as dating difficulties for example, there is a lack of honest discussion and diversity of ideas in the modern world.
@Patricia Matthews: True, for the most part. There are a few exceptions–the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” was based on a female schoolyard shooter, and this is your regular Izzy Knows Too Much True Crime update–but it’s not the rule. Much like serial killers. I don’t think women are innately better with emotions, either, but we’re socialized to turn anger/despair inward rather than outward, and, on average, with a lot less entitlement.
@Booklover: True. And life is difficult for everyone, in its own way, and our cultural constructs about romance are, IMO, completely unrealistic and ridiculous on seventeen different levels. (I say, while making pocket money as a romance novelist–but I am a mercenary wench at heart.) I wish there was more honesty about it, a la Dan Savage: no, there isn’t “someone for everyone,” and there are no guarantees (and conversely, everyone *is* someone’s fetish, just about), but here are some things you can do to improve your odds.” And nobody’s obligated to want you, or even to like you. (The adult version of “you must be friends with everyone in class” is one of the Geek Social Fallacies, and I do not like it at all.)
@Well, Actually: As a feminist, I’d say it’s a slightly different take. The bros of the world are lost causes, and also tend to identify themselves pretty obviously. There’s no need to call them out–Chad and his cloud of Axe body spray are not exactly flying under the radar. (I’m not even gonna touch the conflation of all Islam with one stereotype.) “Nice guys” and whatever are attempting to use stealth, and thus exposure.
Alternatively: if shame works on one target but not others, use shame on that target and other tactics on others. Alexander calls it cowardice or whatever, I call it picking your battles.
In general, on Google: whatever the guy’s issues are, or whatever points he might or might not have made, I’ve never heard that shooting your mouth off, controversially, on the company dime was a generally-accepted path to success, whether in the modern world or previous generations. And if he got fired for it…eh, that’s how the free market works, right? Or so I understand from conservatives. 😛
I have to agree. Women have a lot of power to shame men. Margaret Atwood said “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them”. Of course, she’s right, but of course she misses the point, deliberately or not, they’re the same thing across multi-generational time. Islam, as practiced in nearly every Muslim-majority country, is a response to that basic evolutionary dilemma. I’m not sure it’s a good response, but it’s a response.
Well, sure, bootlickers often get their 30 pieces of silver. What of it?
@ Well Actually:
I’d say you are spot on, including your assessment that most “social justice warriors”, radical feminists, etc are bullies who prefer soft targets but don’t have the intestinal fortitude to face up to real threats like radical Islam. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
It has been my experience that most bullies are basically cowards who pick on those who cannot or will not defend themselves but turn tail when faced with someone who has the ability and willingness to fight back.
You can definitely see that when it comes to Islamic extremism, which the social justice crowd pointedly ignores in favor of calling those who dare to point out certain unpleasant facts “Islamophobes”, “racists” and so on. The SJW’s have been conspicuously silent when it comes to widespread misogyny and homophobia in the Islamic world, which is hypocritical to say the least. Or consider the shocking increase in the number of sexual assaults that has been occurring in European cities with large immigrant populations, most of which involve Muslim perpetrators and non-Muslim victims. I am not saying all Muslims are bad people, because most are good and decent people who are being given a bad name by extremists, criminals and terrorists within their ranks, but this is a huge problem that the radical left has does its best to ignore, obfuscate and censor discussion of.
But there is another angle to this issue that often gets overlooked.
What does it say about the average American or European male that so many of them passively accept if not condone that sort of bullying behavior from the pseudoliberal left or even jump on the bandwagon as if they were victims of Stockholm Syndrome? It’s rather pathetic if you ask me. If these men want to be treated better, they need to stop acting like a bunch of gutless weaklings who exist only to consume. That’s one of the reasons why so many women are attracted to “bad boy” types, as a number of people have pointed out in the current discussion thread. No one in their right mind has any real respect for a coward.
One of the biggest reasons why we see so much bullying behavior from SJW’s and Islamic radicals is because far too many people let them get away with it. It’s in the nature of bullies to continue to engage in bullying until people stand up to them and fight back. As the article you linked to demonstrates, nerds, who are some of the most inoffensive people on the planet, get singled out and picked on by feminists for the same reason that they get picked on by high school football jocks: because they are seen as easy targets who won’t fight back. Maybe part of the answer is for men who are being treated like that to start growing a pair and stop behaving like whipped curs.
There was an article from last year by a female Danish journalist criticizing the sort of cringing behavior so typical of urban Western men these days titled “Dear European Men: You Are Pathetic P*****s”.
As a traditional conservative, I am someone who is profoundly disgusted with what passes for modernity. As people might have guessed from my name, I am someone who embraced his “inner Viking” a long time ago. I am also one of those “pro-Russian conservatives” we discussed on Ye Olde Blog. One of the reasons why I admire and support Russia is because they are a nation that still respects and honors traditional values and virtues, including traditional masculine virtues. That is one of the reasons why I suspect that Russia will be one of the few European nations to survive the Islamic Volkerwanderung that is just getting started.
Isabel, “we’re socialized to turn anger/despair inward rather than outward, and, on average, with a lot less entitlement.”
Apart from, say, feeling entitled to fire a man for writing something that you imagine might offend you if you happened to read it? Oh women do entitlement alright – entitlement to defend, as viciously and unjustly as necessary, themselves and whoever the designated Victim du jour is from the evil Persecutors.
“whatever the guy’s issues are, or whatever points he might or might not have made…”
“shooting your mouth off, controversially, on the company dime…so I understand from conservatives.”
In other words, you have absolutely no intention of listening to him but, as a lefty, you support the right of capitalists to fire people for saying controversial things at work. No, of course you don’t. Someone shooting their mouth off controversially with a content you a) could be bothered to read and b) approve of can expect your full support. But then they won’t need it will they? Because people who share far left views on gender in fact run multinational companies like Google these days, fire people like memo guy, and still manage to play damsel in distress while doing so. It’s an impressive level of brass neck really.
And anyone who supports this guy’s right to a livelihood must be some evil capitalist who supports the right to fire people at will and therefore a hypocrite? Please.
Eric, the average western European male is left/liberal too. The denial about integration problems is far from just a radical left thing, it’s absolutely mainstream and state enforced. The far left are just the violent enforcers of it.
I do find it a bit rich for that Danish journalist to blame men for it all though, just as it’s wrong to lay it all at the door of women. It is disproportionately women who are pushing the Victim Game when it comes to migrants and minorities of all kinds – it’s misdirected maternal instincts among other equally messed up dynamics. But it seems to me that switching men from the role of oppressors of poor wickle minorities to oppressors of women for failing to protect them from those same minorities is just another iteration of the same game. Women need to sort their own nonsense out.
@Dot: Actually, I do–if I wrote a screed criticizing one of my employer’s programs, and published it to the entire company or a large portion thereof, let alone a public forum, I’d be very careful to have another job lined up beforehand, and also very aware that I might lose *that* if the report went public. If a company had fired an employee for a similarly-published essay on, say, the sexism of mandatory dress codes at that particular company, one that managed to insult a good number of their fellow employees, I’d tend to think badly of the company for the dress codes themselves (if the essay was right about them) but wouldn’t disagree with the firing.
Everyone has a right to a livelihood (though I don’t necessarily think corporate capitalism is the way to secure that, but it’s what we have right now); not everyone has a right to a highly-paid job in tech when they behave unprofessionally. Brogrammer can go and work for a company more sympathetic to his views, or he can get a job servicing computers for OfficeMax. He made a choice, it has consequences.
I’m not saying that women are saints, or that we’re not capable of reprehensible behavior–I spent four years in a girls’ dorm, which is a certain cure for any idealistic views of my own sex–but what I’ve observed is that, these days, women seem to have less expectation that they’re owed a SO* or a promotion simply for meeting minimum standards, and less tendency to express our feelings with high-capacity firearms when we don’t get those.
*This was different back when I was in my teens and twenties, and I don’t know if that’s been a societal change or just a shift in attitude among the particular groups I encounter.
@YVR Born I read through the links you provided and the writings remind me of climate change denialism writings. Science studies are picked apart and the conclusion is along the lines of “You can keep living how you are living. Not enough proof here that your actions have the impact you think they do.”.
I tend to think of sample size of n=1 and do experiments on me, for me. It took me years to figure out how to lose weight and be in shape. It took way more physical effort than I expected. I also had to cut out processed carbohydrate foods (pasta, bread, sugar, flour) five days a week. I now have a system, that I follow and I feel like I did in my 20’s. I’m 52 now.
When I see an obese person, I feel like I am looking at someone who feels powerless and has given up. I get it. I was there too. It takes action to affect a change and consistent everyday effort. No person or organization can do the work for someone else. Not food manufacturers, school lunch programs, nutritionists, gyms, or doctors can get people healthy. A person has to want it for themselves.
Unemployment and poverty in America is a terrible, monstrous thing to inflict on someone. I’ll say it again, there is nothing remotely progressive about getting someone fired from their job because they said something you disagree with. I can think of another sickening recent example of this with minor celebrity Lena Dunham trying her best to get two flight attendants fired for having a conversation about trans people. Keep in mind that she didn’t confront these two women about what they were talking about, didn’t try to engage them in debate and change their minds. She hopped onto twitter after her flight, ratted them out to the airline who employed them and tried to have them identified for immediate termination. A rich white woman getting two working class women fired for saying and thinking the wrong things. How can she call herself a feminist, a progressive?
“Brogrammer” – yeah that just sums up the so-called feminist left these days. Who needs to read, or listen to those you disagree with at all, when you can just go for name-calling instead.
@ Isabel Kunkle:
We in the Faustian civilization, particularly those in North America and Western Europe, live in a highly artificial environment in which most of the inmates have been reduced to domesticated sheep and cattle who just happen to walk on two legs instead of four. So it’s not surprising that so many men in America and Europe are emasculated weaklings who exist only to consume whatever garbage is currently being peddled by the corporate mass media, while most of what passes for the Men’s Rights movement is pretty pathetic.
Oswald Spengler and Sir John Glubb are among those who have pointed out that the sort of social environment we see in the West today tends to be very common in the later, decadent phases of a civilization. They both argued that much of what the left touts as “Progress” is really degeneration. As a longtime student of history, I am inclined to agree.
But as the Long Descent gathers momentum, we will see atavistic forces long suppressed in the name of Progress returning with a vengeance. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of authoritarian strongmen like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the resurgence of traditional values and conservative Christianity in Eastern Europe after the fall of the USSR are only a taste of things to come. Due to factors like overpopulation, climate change and the end of the cheap energy economy, we will see Darwinian natural selection kick in on a scale not seen in a very long time and those who cannot adapt to the harsher conditions that are coming will get weeded out via that very process of natural selection.
All the archdruid is saying is give hate a chance…
Greetings all — please note the bit in the paragraph above the comments box that says “…comments relevant to the current post are welcome…” I’ve had a bunch of people in the last day or so try to post comments on this essay, which hasn’t been current for more than a week. Given the tenor of the attempted comments, I gather that a link has just been posted to a social justice website or two — which is fine, but the conversation has moved on. (I’d also encourage those whose response to this post was a tirade about how I’m wrongly wrong with a side order of wrong sauce to take a few moments and a few deep breaths, and consider thinking about the post rather than just reacting viscerally to it…)
JMG-Just listened to the Kunstler podcast where you discussed this topic. I thought it interesting that when you began to discuss the part that class privilege plays, Kunstler quickly changed the direction of the conversation! Boy- any mention of class privilege really pushes people’s buttons doesn’t it! Apparently even JHK’s!
Robyn, I noticed Kunstler NOT wanting to talk about class also. Of course, Jim has a long history of attacking people based on class (not a fan of the great unwashed, he).
A shame, because that was an interesting line of discussion which was sharply terminated.
Dermot- Yes, disappointing. That,as far as I could see,was the beginning of a serious and fruitful conversation.
absolutely fascinating and astute observation, thank you for sharing! perhaps the desire not to be seen as hateful doesnt ring quite as true in the UK? but then again maybe it does and its just too engrained in my brain.
the bit about wholeness vs amputation was particularly enlightening: ive never found a way to put into words how quick-fix solutions just dont really work, but you have done it beautifully
Dang! As a conservative Evangelical Christian I did not expect to agree to such a large extent with an archdruid! But that is consistent with my habitual view of things: If people of different backgrounds can just resist the temptation to disingenuousness in public discourse we can agree a lot more than we think we can.
IMO should use “anger” instead of “hate”: hate (like “lust,” which you pointedly didn’t use in your argument about sexuality) has inherent pejorative connotations. Hate is essentially the pathological form of anger, as lust is the pathological form of sexuality.
Excellent as always, and I love the new blog where I can find all your writings in one place!
When it comes to Trump, I fully and consciously embrace my hatred of the man and his agenda. It’s not an irrational hatred, however, but based very much on things he is doing—creating the worst kakistocracy I’ve experienced in my half a century on this planet, gutting organizations like EPA that protect our air and water, putting non-scientists in charge of science-based organizations like NASA, promoting the nonsensical idea of “clean” coal, and doing a myriad of things to break our already threadbare polity.
In fact, Trump has helped me to understand that my hatred of George W. Bush was just hate-lite 🙂
I also don’t think my hatred of the man is irrational. He’s a grifter, a serial liar, gross nepotist, and an admitted sexual assaulter. And he is the Frankenstein’s monster created by a craven Republican Party that has catered to the most xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, and authoritarian currents in order to win elections.
So I think he, and his circle of incompetents and suck-ups, is a perfect focus for my hate.
Can I translate your essay for the Norwegian blog Kulturverk?
Comments are closed.