Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Odds and Ends, Personal Note

I operate at pretty high and pretty low levels. I can explain things to a child (hard to do this honestly, and simply, and kindly) but I can't talk to some adults, even as I can understand their language. Well, that makes me sound like a weirdo. I talk to adults all the time, but I find it hard to move from our professional jargon and court language to, you know, real discussion. Well, except when I do. Some people put me at ease, so maybe this is all in my head.

Left the ex's house in tears a few days ago. Had no problems looking at pathetic as I felt. No posturing. I've bared my teeth enough. She knows. She ought to know. But she has recently been under institutional pressure and there are bigger things than our disagreements. And so I'm kind.

We have a discussion, earlier. She wants to use the formula. I ask her if, in our political and personal opinions, an economic formula has ever been able to quantify human need or moral desert. She tells me that it's supposed to incorporate all the things--time with kids, income, and so on--and I ask her what she'll think if it says she deserves less than she demands.

I tell her as I've told her before that I just want to hear what she wants from me. If she out-earns me, fine, but if I don't have a house yet or a bigger place where I can keep the kids, then she'll of course shoulder more of the burden.

I tell her that if the formula doesn't fit, then legal authorities will tell us to change our lives to fit the formula. I echo what our pro-marriage counselor told me with a sense of black humor: if I don't make enough according to the formula, I'll be told to get a job. And that means how much more time with the kids? Oh. Formula don't care about that. Economic formulae are like that. Inhuman. I'd rather a woman scream demands at me.

We didn't get too far. She said she'd had trouble with voicing her demands. Counselor in me and the ex-husband in me bump shoulders, each wanting to cut that apart. They both show discretion; I say nothing. I'm still furious she could never tell me what she wanted. I'm still furious that she's powerful and acts like a victim. Acts like I treated her like her... family treats itself. What kind of monster was I that she's still scared of herself?

Doesn't matter anymore. I don't say anything. And the formula, and the fact that she's never asked me to come back once, the fact that all she had for me in weeks was bile and now she's being just reasonable enough, just kind enough. I feel rejected. It's a laugh, because I walked away. But I still feel there was something mutual. I diagnosed the relationship with cancer, but we both smoked. Maybe that makes sense.

But I weep, weep for the time with my boys coming to an end, weep for the fact that even if some part of her wants me she'll never say. I'd tell her I miss her if it wouldn't fuck her up. Maybe she's protecting me? Doubtful. You don't change the locks and claim the joint accounts on a man you want to protect. No, she's treated me as a contaminant. Now, though, things are slightly better. And I've felt the loneliest I've felt in a long time--lonely in solitude is better than loneliness in marriage, but it's still shitty.

So we talk for another thirty minutes on the front lawn. No missteps. I'm just more and more emotional.

I drive home and wipe the tears from my eyes. Buy a couple of large beers. Buy a pack of cigarettes; I've been sucking down cloves since I went into flight. Make some joke to the overly helpful clerk. Turns out to be a good guy. Does he see the reddened eyes and the irritated lids? I could be drunk for all he knows, or even worse--a man who's recently wept. But I act normal, for me anyway. Good guy. He bums me a clove, explains his taste for the menthol sort. I give it another try, see his point. Discuss pastimes. He helps a couple of other customers. Gives me some advice on upgrading my computer, something which has gone by the wayside since my checking account became a legal defense fund. But who knows? He knows a guy who's good at cheap assembly. It's a round conversation with professional, getting-to-know-you, and bullshit components. I feel less like a social cripple. When I leave, I laugh at the randomness of my life. This is, after all, something I wanted--spontaneity.

When I return home, the entire house is asleep. I slept a few hours in order to see my children, but my roommates had stayed up the previous night, following a birthday party that had fallen to insane levels of drama. Something else I handled with aplomb. I mingle well, and dealt with everything from inappropriate sexual suggestion on the part of very important people's new partners about whom everyone had a weird feeling to near fights to guilt to longing to old shit to new shit... It was exciting, in its way. But now the house is asleep... I read some, drink a pint, and sleep. Something I'm learning to do more often--force myself to tend to myself, even when I don't want to.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Odds and Ends

Got praised for my honesty last week, so don't be surprised if that's the plant that grows.

When you end a relationship, you find yourself changed in many ways, contextually and individually. In a certain, very basic economic sense, you find yourself producing what you no longer have the means to export.

Honesty. Tons of fucking markets for that shit. Nobody tells the whole truth, and definitely not at once. But if you're a talker, like me, and you're a thinker (and we are all thinkers, make no mistake), you got a lot of things to export in addition to that hunter-gatherer sense of body, energy, material.

Some men are really going to bristle at the production of trash, waste, and corrective labor. We rip seams, produce soiled laundry and linens... All this has its reflection in what we consume. Some men really don't know how to feed themselves. They're like babies.

I'm not like that. I get around to cleaning my own shit. I travel light in terms of trash anyway (at least by my very spoiled Western mode of consumption; I know I don't act the pauper on a global scale). No, it's the other goods and services that I produce that have no real meaning any more. Out of context, I continue to manufacture body energy, semen, dead skin cells that flake off in vigorous movement against other people and things, coy looks I imagine are sly, less coy looks that immediately convey need, hunger, desire to cling.

There are ways to satisfy these and all the rest, I know. I can go running, feel a cold wind against my skin and through my hair. I scratch upon waking, like many men, but I end up rubbing my arms and my elbows, my shoulders and my legs. Only fingers that feel me anymore. That sounded self-pitying, but it was intended more neutral. Even my wife, whom I remember at certain points of our relationship showed more affection to the cats upon returning home than she did to me, had been more physical than loneliness. And she got better. You tell people you're physical, and they get a little bit more out of their depressed distances and their Northern Anglo body space patterns, or rather they become different if they're willing to and feel you're worth it.

But then you walk away and you've got scratch your own itches. Or learn to deal with those itches you don't like to scratch for yourself.

Arranging to get those scratched is where I get into influence and persuasion, which I've discussed before. As far as having those needs, some will say we're socialized to depend on others. Some say we can satisfy all our needs and that it's merely a matter of figuring out or learning how.

I say I do not see anything more natural in self-reliance or mustering others to our service, mutual or otherwise. There are healthy solitudes and poisoned ones. There is mutual coexistence and tyrannical modes and passive-aggressive, furtive, diseased, confused, erratic, and unpredictable modes.

And I have many, many positive relationships. And I have a few healthy ways of solitude. And then there are somethings I find myself with: a voracious intellect that wants to be tested; a sexual appetite that seems to have survived all the furtiveness, negotiation, doubt, self-disgust, and desperate resignation; and a social personality that wants every type of thing from others. In the meantime, in reality, away from the bullshit of words, I have a few empty seats. A few parts of me that still tingle in memory of amputation. I wait. For what? Not merely for replacement of old function. Not simply a placeholder. None will ever equal my wife in good or ill. I promise myself I will never be a fool and find another to do what she did. In the meantime, I keep my brain limber enough to imagine new friends, new dear ones, new people to understand and by which I might be understood.

In short, I am waiting. Waiting for what I don't know. I am simply a creature with appetites, some filled and others which I have long learned to hide.

God, I'm alone. And now I'm done with an intellectualizing distraction. Back to the day where my labor is my own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Men and Women and Power

So IOZ was pretty damning the other day.

If this most ancient and unyielding form of human inequity is of no interest to your philosophy of the destruction of all authority, then your ersatz philosophy is mere affectation, and your protests to the contrary are lies. If you find yourself confronting the word feminism with questions about how there can be a feminism if masculine and feminine are false categories, and if you are impressed with your cleverness in this regard, then I invite you to consider your own anarchy, wherein the whole object of your obsession, the State, is a metaphor and an abstraction.

I can't say much on the same level of his broadside, which I find pretty fucking challenging. If you want change, then you have to undergo change. The individual is not unanimous. We have a lot of fragments of other thoughts, a lot of expectations that have come from subtle social encouragement... In short, we are a kludge. Why should we not undergo the process we seek to impose?

And so why do we not look for imperialisms inside?

I find this process hard because I want to remain powerful. I have barked and I have pushed and I have tried to defend myself against a woman who was herself brought up to be passive-aggressive, furtive, dreamless, self-sacrificing, and subtle. I desperately want to avoid repeating the crimes I saw in my childhood. I don't want to relate to her the way her filthy, domineering, humiliating tyrant of a father did and does.

But I have to fight with her as my class superior, as my former partner, as a woman who has possession of my child. A woman with rights. A woman with power to harm me. A woman with power that she ought to have in helping to raise my boys. It is conflict and collaboration. It is complex.

I don't know how far along I am in the whole anarchy thing. I try to yield power to others. I am learning to talk to others without implying rape or ownership or threat. But it's hard to project confidence without falling to machismo. I don't think most people would call me macho, but I do think I project my personality and maybe that's reflection of class or sex or ethnic privilege. I don't know. As far as my relationship to the woman in my life, my soon to be former wife, I am trying to recognize her as a human being who I want to treat well but from whom I also want to protect myself.

Is there an anarchy and a feminism there? Perhaps. It is the best I have been able to do at present.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Admitting You Have a Problem

If you want some light intellectual exercise for the day, just ask yourself what kind of political flips it would take for the United States, for one day, to not have a "war footing," to not patrol neutral and foreign territory, to not send men out on military maneuvers.

In short, how hard would it be, with what effort might we be at peace for a single fucking day?

Oh sure, we say, we can do it whenever we want. But I don't think there's a single American who can really, deep down, imagine what it would be like.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Qualification, That War You're In

Nobody needs to remind me that life is as much about compromise and collaboration as it is about conflict and competition.

You see animals helping each other, or at least not fucking with each other, all the time in the woods. And the notion that social animals learn true assistance from humans keeping them in cages is absurd. Let me put it this way: every time a mother gorilla doesn't eat her baby in a zoo, I figure that as a triumph of compassion and decency (albeit motivated by selfishness) in a cruel world.

This is a war of all against all. It can also be a struggle among all, and some of the way we cope is to collaborate, to communicate, to trust.

Just because we're on a field with no rules doesn't mean we set rules.

Just because the universe doesn't care doesn't mean we can't.

I can talk about morality, just don't talk about it without an unspoken or spoken "my." Because that's all there is. Personal morality.

And if you think that anarchy's going to bring about a goddamned Ewok celebration, you're a fucking idiot. Plain and simple.

I'm not saying it couldn't bring about far more peace. It may. My concern is freedom. My concern is bringing things back within our control, to the extent you can ever control anything in your own life. If it is peaceful, so be it. But when I talk about devolution and home rule, I prepare for the dark side, because promising anything better is a fucking sales pitch unless you can tell me how we make things free and peaceful. "People are basically good, so..." BULLSHIT! People are basically animals! That's not an insult. It's a moral neutral. But I don't go expecting a wolf to respect my imaginary rights. And I don't expect other people to unless they have a reason.

Life is suffering, but there's no escape from samsara. Life is anarchic and chaotic but the Leviathan doesn't cure a goddamned bit of it. This is what there is. Anybody who thinks the rebellion ends in song and peace for a thousand years is a fucking moral criminal for ignoring the role of the imperial citizen in creating the nightmare in the first place.

Wait--you don't think this tyranny fell from the sky, did you? Well, I'm no dualist, as I've recently said, so maybe that's why I can see the utility even in empire and I see soot smudging the surface of the beautiful white utopia some like to imagine. And I think people do a hell of a lot to maintain the suffering they, from time to time, dare to critique and foreign and other and alien. That's just self-serving moral distance, and that's not a problem with the external political landscape. It's a problem with psyche and personal style.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Little More about That War You're In

See the hierarchies and domination swiftly forming and being undone all around you. If you don't see them, walk a couple feet.

Man puts pavement down. Grass breaks it up. Tree roots are frustrated. Can't you tell? Furtive little buggers pushing up like passive aggressive plant jerks steadily putting the stones out of place.

Branches spread, shading plants that might replace them. Elsewhere parent trees make it impossible for their children to grow around them.

Strong get viruses and die. Weak get eaten. Strong run too fast, fuck up, fall, unable to feed self. Go mad. Die. Strong finds place where she becomes weak. Slow and dumb moves to water; now he looks pretty damn strong.

Strong's only as strong as the last victory.

And nobody ends on a victory. All assured at least one fall.

Except institutions, but they're only theoretically immortal.

Nothing pure. All adulterated. Chaos contains within it order and organization, because people collude and collide and even for an hour we can forget we hate each other. Even for a moment, especially with a loose tongue, we can forget we love each other too. And order? HA. It's men playing God, and we come damn close. For a hundred years and more we can play musical chairs and trade faces keeping the same drabby antique alive but the fact is that it will fall, too. All of order possesses in it chaos, because you have subgroups. Individuals are the magic here. We're the mix, so all we make reflects it.

So when I talk about a state of nature, it's not to praise or damn anything. It's just that we ought not let ourselves think we're really so much more than growth and fallback, mold and worms, pavement and tree trunks, native bacteria bubbling in your belly, local staph that could overwhelm you if other organelles weren't so numerous or functional or strong. Even your body fights against itself. Muscles growing, pushing others out of alignment if you're not balanced in your activities.

See how even the individual is a multitude! An institution of changing staff and cells and further subparts, each of which have their own story, their own narrative, apart from what it forms with billions of others!

It's a motherfucking fractal, and you doubt that you are and will always be in a state of nature? Morals exist only in the mind! The fox with heartworms doesn't take time to argue Hobbes! War of all against all is not my opinion, folks. It is natural law. The existence of truces and alliance do not change that you are on a goddamned battlefield.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Power's Cures, Anarchy's Cures

I remember, a while ago, I argued with Jack Crow about the tyranny of violence. I argued that all wars became tyrannical once someone started to win. What began as a contest ends as rule. After all, are not all states merely the successors of campaigns?

Well, no shit! No wonder this introduction seems eerily significant--it's the point on which I started this meager weblog last July. If you'd like to see a couple of posts on the matter, head back to the wild world of 2011.

"The Tipping Point" and "On the Violence in Norway"

Anyway, what brings me to this question again, of anarchy's response to violence, is a post Crow linked to on his page. On From Wine to Water, Ivan writes rather more eloquently than I recognized in my immediate response, over on Crow's weblog.

I encourage you to read the entire post, because its thoughts stand on its own. It poses questions any should be willing to answer.

Let me first glibly reply, in bold, to the rhetorical questions.

Is there some serious projection being done by anarchists? Yes. Are folks considering their own habits, desires, values, etc.; Yes. and the roles that government does and does not play in their own lives; Yes. and concluding from this that we’d all be better off without government—but failing to adequately consider the full diversity of people being governed? God, yes. Are violent criminals and street thugs, for example, out of sight and out of mind?

I can't speak for the anarchists whose comments Ivan has read, but the anarchish, libertarianisch folks I've known, absolutely are motivated by psychology and aesthetics. (Does this mark them as different from other people in terms of political affiliation? Not really.) Failing to consider the people being governed! Fuck that! There are heroes and there are scavengers, paragons and parasites. There's Mad Max, that's me, and then there are the pitiless ones who refuse to support themselves. And as far as violent criminals? Ivan, Ivan, Ivan. Libertarianish, anarchish folks think they're Mal Reynolds. They believe the best men win in gunfights. Maybe there are still some utopian anarchists. I've definitely seen a lot of that streak. But I also see the anti-heroic pretenders, who quaintly believe that lawlessness will be as respectful to their tender bodies as this grand veal crate we call society. Maybe some ignore the violent, the thugs. Others believe they will be swiftly swept away by the new order. I think both ignorance and swift dismissal are foolish, so that still leaves Ivan's point. What do we do about all the bastards?

Ivan goes on to grant the very important realities that violent crime is often unreasonably feared, and that fear of crime is often used by the powerful. He grants that economic circumstances, political history, and local culture all play their part. But he comes back to the question of how we deal with these individuals.

I’m just thinking about how violent crime is, in fact, a reality. And some violent criminals can only be stopped by force. And I’m glad that I don’t have to try to marshal that force myself.

Then I don't think you'd like anarchism, because that's what anarchism means, at least as I understand it. The modern, industrial or post-industrial state relies on division of labor. What is the cost of you not having to be a soldier part of the time? That someone is a soldier all of the time, for part or all of their lives. And this is not a response to Ivan but once again a response to others, friends or otherwise, who believe that their goodness must be pure: if you believe that anarchy will bring about a shortage of violence, then I want to see your math. All evil does not flow from the state. Much of it does, but much more may simply move through the state.

The state is a very efficient means of violence, but it is not the only means. And it is certainly predated by the individual tyrannies of rape, theft, assault, murder... Will they survive the state? Of course they will.

So let us say that we get to the point where anarchy is in hand, and we can no longer fault violence on economy and policy and the larger systemic woes of the state. I will say we have already won a great deal, but let's say we get there and we find that some people are still bastards. This will, of course, be the case, for there will always be someone who stops to ask, "Why shouldn't I take hers?" This isn't the poverty-as-envy shtick you hear from Republican uncles or the poverty-as-indolence you hear from same. This is actually a rather basic question but one which troubles all philosophies. All things being equal, why shouldn't we do as we please to others? After all, the war-of-all-against-all used as a cudgel by Hobbes is just as logically consistent as Kant's categorical dialect. Consistency works both for considerate people and for total bastards. So why the fuck can't I, under anarchy as well as law, do what I please and take what I like? Under anarchy especially, who's going to tell me "no"?

Whoever pleases. Whoever contests it. And whether fair or not, it'll either be respected, or it'll lead to revenge killings. It might lead to a war. Or it might not. You'll have some individuals form cooperative communities, some individuals handing their rights over to others, all in the name of security. This will happen again, because it has happened before. Or do you think we've really progressed since we lived in caves?

If you don't want to work in a field a little or split rails a little or slaughter chickens a little or practice your aim a little, then don't become an anarchist. But if you want Farmville excellence, unhireable specialization, styrofoam-backed meat, and to never smell cordite or blood while you wage war, then stay where you are.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Canvas

Sometimes you fuck up and you don't just fuck up for yourself. You drag others into it, or you explode so completely that others get your brains and blood sprayed across them.

I don't know if I'm trying to be funny there. Came out like one of my weird little remarks.

I'm contemplating how I'm perceived. It's simultaneously a nothing and an everything. Depending on the eyes, your appearance and reception can be the sum of actions and instinct. You can be weighed in their terms and judged in a number of ways.

Or it could just be associations and assumptions. Same set of eyes, maybe. Maybe different chemicals in the brain. Maybe different events occur. Maybe it's timing. Maybe it's chance. Some people see you one way all the time. Some people change their receptions of you. And you can also do things to change their impression.

But that's really beyond me. I am a fantastic performer in a number of ways. I can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Little of it, much of it, feels native. I'm better at understanding others. I wonder about my own interactions at times.

This is nothing political in a classical or modern sense. I do not know how to apply this, make it have sharp edges. Make it neat. I don't know.

I am one of the smartest men I know, and I find myself stuck in contemplating. I have made many errors.

This is wandering I need to do in a tidy little paper book because most of it will be rubbish, meaningful only to my particular brain. It is lonely. I am needing to get more comfortable with being alone.

I don't like messing things up for other people.

I think I need to keep some of my thoughts to myself. The counselor in me will redraft all of this later. The narrative will be edited. I will replace the "need"s with "choose"s. But until then, I need to control myself. I am in the woods. This is not the damn farm. How it is free and how it is not clash with the ways I was once free and not. I am not making sense of it yet. I am newborn.

I think I need to keep some of my thoughts to myself. I hate them up here, and they poison me, but I will pay this cost and pretend a little longer. Maybe one day I'll stop pretending, or be somebody who doesn't shit all over others in the course of being.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Overly Broad Condemnation

I hate dualistic thinking. I am aware of how middle school that sounds. I know that it's been said a lot, and usually with the amusingly absolute tone of "No Dualism!"

I guess some things have dualities and some do not. I am tired of political and interpersonal dualism. I am tired of moral dualism being taken for a decisive factor.

I listen to commenters and the moment they see an ultimate battle between weak and strong, good and evil, or even good and bad, that will either settle everything forever or for a while, I know I must let this go and get the hell out of there.

The world's too complex. The winners dispute, the losers grow numerous, the weak find power, the undefeated die.

We murder unknown brothers in war. We sleep with others, forgetting their essential strangeness.

Perhaps the especially kind will recognize in themselves an inhumanity whose match is found in monsters.

And all that I say merely points out the impurity in duality. The fact is that things are far more ornate, ornate to a degree which I find myself currently powerless to illustrate.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anxiety Kills (Another Dead Drunk Post)

If you have the power to coerce others, maybe you will use it. After all, that's how we see structures, right?

So maybe you need to try, when you are without might, to experience the most basic interaction with others.

Maybe you need to try to let others upset you.

It's so easy to try to control. It's so easy to see others as deliverers of what we need. We find ways physically and psychologically to extract these things.

Sometimes they want us to.

We must try to let others not like us. It is their right.

Is charm an invitation or a command?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why You Have to Be Deconstructive

There's a nice trans-Atlantic meme about how you can't buy an election.

Why no, not if you're a candidate. People still lose when they outspend their supposed competitors. But isn't it apparent that candidates are the product, not the purchaser?

Just as it has been long observed that the true target of television and other programming are the advertisers, with audiences as the product and the producers the salesmen, we can see that in electoral campaigns that the real winners are out of the spectacle with which we are presented.

And some people say that elections mean nothing. IOZ usually touts a line like this, and if he doesn't, let me trot him out as a straw man. I hope he'll pardon me.

So what about the fact that elections mean nothing? I can't agree. Elections may mean nothing to the supposed voters, but while I feel that representative democracy is simply some strange, Azadian game in which the old campaigns of civil war and factional strife are abstractly represented, I feel that it may well be significant--so long as we're being clear about which players, pieces, and outcomes we discuss.

In short, all this shit about the primaries and the lever pulling? It's a minigame at best.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where Others' Power, Addendum

This is what I get for posting when drunk. Again.

When I get some business taken care of, I want to try again to say something about the self-sacrificial, self-censoring, self-concealing shit that people do "for" others, or more accurately with them. I'm sure there's all kind of articulation about influence that covers this, but I'll reinvent the wheel as I usually do. After all, I know that other men have made chairs and written books about love, but that doesn't mean I can't take up furniture-making and creative writing. I do not believe I need to become alienated from philosophy any further.

Motherfucker, does man need a cell phone? This one has made a life in which he does, so I'm gone to lash myself to a different company and then I'll make financial amends to the state which currently holds me on a probationary list, the members of which are subject to further coercive measures. Simple!

Where Others' Power Comes From

It's true. We grant to others the power to control us.

But it is so very hard not to grant it to them.

Look at the family. See injustice there so you can see it in grander things.

We love others. Can they hurt us as we love them? Yes we can. We wish we could not love through damage, but many of us do and we pay dearly as we nevertheless continue to love.

Some of us leave. Some are left. We then seek again or find those who can hurt us again, control us, tell us what to do.

Where do you dominate, or are you dominated? Is it the same as with others who cudgel and herd you?

Does this make it different? Does this make it better, that you are so free to be with others? Does it not make it worse, for we can so much more easily leave. There are many ready bosses in the world. Some protect us; all injure us.