"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

May 23, 2011


"..and it's all falling apart..."

...I heard a woman complain, quietly, as my wife and I took a Sunday saunter in the half-cold, crossing a third of the city to land in a pub for a pint each, and blackened chicken.

We left for coffee and returned home on the heavy vapors of lukewarm beer.

We ate and drank at the only pub in town to regularly show rugby, football and soccer (yes, I put it that way you, you silly POMs). The place where the Aussie, British, Irish, Scot and English speaking European ex-pats all gather to drink warmish beer and watch grown men hug themselves and each other in a violent clutch to grab a ball.

The guy next to us sounded like he was cast right out of The Damned United. Shave headed and balding, crisp shirt, staples on the left side of his scalp, an inch or two above the ear. Staples. I assumed, rugby, which has its local aficionados; the lot of them gather there, planning for the Highland Games for half the year, sporting kilts and Hibernian patches for half of half of the other.

Manly reserve or dumb silence, and all eyes on a match between ManU and Bpool.

With a faceless voice in my head, ringing over and over again, pitched above the football commentary and the lewd jokes about loose girls left behind from another bar, the night before...

 "...and it's all falling apart..."

A tense voice, speaking words which sounded sincere, for all that I had neither face nor context in which to place them...

...I don't know about memes. I so no evidence for the theory. It think it laziness, mostly - the rich boy kind, not the wrath of sloth in protest. Memes are stupid. The word explains nothing - but yet, I had a facsimile of one, a figment of a fraud, doing subvocalizations in my throat, and therefore in my usually and gratefully empty head.

I don't like verbal thoughts. They all seem like lies.

But this repeated phrase did not strike me as a lie, or a self-deception- it does not, still and yet - and I find myself amused to continue wondering why.

An apprehension of a sudden, the moment I heard it, perhaps. An encased and wordless reply. Because I heard her say it, this woman whose face I did not see and for that fail to picture even now as I type, I being the sort who eschews imagination...

...I heard her say it, and mused back alone in my head, "Ayup. You've got the right of it."

And, abstaining from the desire to forget, begin to wonder.

Do we all feel it?

The fraying and fragmenting of familiar habits? The disruption of the algorithms of society? The breaking of patterns? The foreclosure on traditional traditions, and on new traditions all nouveau-riche and upstart bold?

I'd like to think so, but maybe it's only I.

Were it a different age, would more of us have noticed by now? I don't mean, you know, have felt the vaguey vague angst and anxiety of our overworked, distracted age. I mean, looked it straight on and taken note.

I think so, and have no proof.

But, but, but.

I sat there, in that pub for ex-pats from the dying Commonwealth, and all eyes were on the telly. And thinking about the words from a voice without a face, and shedding a learned passivity of thought, I pushed my own envelope just barely, just enough to seize a new thing from within, and pulling it out all wriggling and writhing, caught the whisper and hint of its name - a feeling in which I have found solitary comfort, but which now seems more universal, a condition equally obtuse and predicate: A community to which I have never before belonged, since I am at best an outcast, and more commonly a bad man and a monster.

We are, the lot of us, desperate.

And none more so than the powerful.

I have for as long as I've cared to care, attributed to power only its venality. It's a true thing, for all that its expressions and manifestations are less so, and often muddled and complex. A simple focus of the lens, then: the powerful take power because they want to have more, and keep it.

But, that's not really enough, is it?

The formula fails, because it forbids its own conclusions.

It elides the essential desire, the involvement of those parties concerned, their involvement with the very stuff of life, the matter and people they will to shape, and how and why they do it.

Because those who need power aren't just armoring up for the sake of some treasured enjoyments. No. They pay their staffers and they arm their captured minds because, in the end, it all falls apart and those who rise to the top, who claw their way through the shadows of human suffering, who can see others as instruments, who forget that we all die and that alone is a reason for kindness - those fuckers need something more. Don't they? Don't they.

They need order. Security. A shape to society. A habit of habits. They need the clock, the calendar and the scheduling app on their meticulously planned and built in devices.

They need to hold the world together, these general managers of the universe.

They need to believe that the lines and grids of their truest true religion - a voyeurism devoted to the everlasting hatred of decay -  actually exist on the surfaces and tablespaces of the world...and not finding them, like true prophets everywhere and everywhen lay them down in law and blood instead.

But, the lines aren't holding anymore, are they? They have fewer believers.

They did it to themselves. Didn't they?

They did it to us.

It's just, I think, that we aren't looking it straight on anymore, because we no longer, in our collectivity, know how. We've got these colonizations in our head - these conqueror histories, those checkbook calibrations, them lying designs of a hand unseen and impossible indivisibility - and worst of all, we've got them in our faces every day.

The telly locking our eyes in place, above the well drinks and the top shelf liquors. The piece of furniture in a central room of a working habitat, at which blood kin gather to stare, while they learn by mimicry and repetition how to unlisten the nearness, the smell, the breathing of others. Crowded in, in order to abstract all distance and disappear into the dots and grids of corporate and placeless destination.

This furniture reduced in size, made portable, marketed into every space, attacking time and place as its path to least resistance, erasing context not by obstruction, law or violence - but by breaking it up into consumptive bits and bytes of fee based revelation. Gone viral, potable, miniaturized, until the evidence is everywhere and no one can see it because we're all part of the scenery now.

And the trees and the oceans and the foreign Others who have only mud and old faiths, or the passe fealty of family, they die for it. Because in order to have order, we really have to learn how to never pay attention. We have to fail to attend. To give the powerful their due, to give them the sacred honor of unfocused stares, to forget, unlearn or never know scrutiny, to grant them the potency of our obedience and our apathy.

They need the wealth, because they need the order. They are weak. Power is for cowardice. And in order for the weak to feel safe, to feel like they have the measure of decay and death and the surprises which delight and amuse better women and men, the rest of must be reduced until we are marks on ledgers and numbers in a grid of grids.

Until we are economized.

But, it's all falling apart, and while the surface tension of manufactured distraction spreads thin and taut over its too many screens and surfaces, it cannot hold out forever.

Its very materiality demands this end. Its fictions, its spaceless and timeless conceits won't stand in the face of friction, depletion and the terrible beauty of entropy.

It's the largest machine ever made - the power grid and the machinery of distraction, production, consumption. It covers two continents in its electric penumbra, and vies for control of a third.

But, it's all falling apart.

It really is.

Because. Because. Because.

It needs the fuel of effort, of labor - and its captive bodies are breaking. It has cannibalized the rest of us for too long, now.

We are breaking.

Coming apart.

Desperate, scared and for the first time for many of us, finally paying attention.

Attendant to the world.

It could all go horribly wrong. It could fly apart and flattening place and ignoring memory swell up again as a collective debasement, a reaction, a transformation of the bloated corpse itself, maggoty with fecund depravity, until the majority of us reach out and grasp not at the now of our suffering, but at the crystal faceted death god of order and eternity.

At a new order, and more violent, and more caustic and unforgiving because it has neither place nor history, because it hates them as records of its own inevitable passing.

The prophets of eternity - of thousand year reigns of God or State or the numen of rationalized numbers - this is their time. This is their dawning age. They won't resist degradation. Don't believe the lies. They'll pursue it with a holy zeal and a righteous vengeance. Order needs corpses to prove its power. It ever has; it always will.

Easy targets, at first: we're already seeing it. Gay agendas, the Muslim invasion, "baby" killers, the welfare poor.

And as it starts to fray further, coming apart with the pressure of its own dissolution, we who are not them might do well to remember this. They'll start to eat their own, of which plenty of us number.

And fight. And fight back. The weak want order. And they want prophets to lead them.

Perhaps it's time to keep this in mind, to attend, to remember that an arriving age of desperation is more than a conclusion.

And maybe, just fucking maybe, this time we'll fight and play and gather to shape it differently...


fish said...

I too feel an unraveling. But what I don't know is whether it is really a change is society, or a natural feeling that starts around my current age. I imagine a lot of middle-aged people felt like the world was coming apart at the seams during the 60's, and mid-life crises are so common as to be cliche. I just don't know if it is an internally or externally driven experience.

Jack Crow said...


I think the economy was booming, nationalism was peaked, triumphalism in the face of the red threat was ascendent, living standards were increasing and people still believed the microbe would be beat - in the 1960s.

I agree - many of us have reached or are reaching the decade of our decline, where the future no longer looks "longer than the past."

But, everything around us is also materially shit. Even the accepted deceptions (the noble republic, we don't torture, we're progressing to a better age, racism is in the past, technology will conquer our ills) are failing.

That awareness is permeating deeper, I think.

Justin said...

Fuck man, I wish I could write this way. Its exactly what I've been going through and trying to express.

The only difference is that I am done worrying about them taking power for themselves, because I believe in the flip of that statement. Power is not something that is just taken, it is also something that is given. And I am done giving it up. If we didn't give it up, there would be nothing for them to take.

Jack Crow said...


I wouldn't have made it this far without your last four or so pieces, a la Shotwell.

We don't use the word "God" the same way, and I hesitate to assume what you mean entirely, or claim the right even to suss it out - but your influence is there, publicly and privately.

I am a negligent correspondent. This is, in portions, a manner of reply to you.

The mental maps require constant input, don't they? Without them we are neither civilized nor free, neither slave nor working mule. Without the unending input, the generalities we assume to be personal, particular, specific wither. We hybridize, we weird.

And the input is overtaking itself. Its importance as a source of revenue outpacing the older disciplines of Fordist labor. The ideational inputs still need labor - oil pumped out of the ground, labor and calories captured in maintenance and built machines, in operative supervision, in electrical generation, the feeding of mouths, all of it.

But the resources to maintain the consumer base and the audience are shrinking, and its not just manufactured scarcity anymore, is it?

Some of this is destabilization and reaction.

The spectacular failing to amuse, heads looking up from screens.

Food prices inflating. Household budgets collapsing.

An opportunity, a horrific threat if it's lost or goes wrong.

Justin said...

What I mean by God is emergent phenomena. Here is some of my revision in process. Hope that helps.

I remain an atheist in the strictest sense. God as a literal construct, as an interplanar deity, as a being with motive and commands and a list of rules for us to follow, as a being who has existed before and will exist after us, makes no sense to me. I cannot believe in this God. I cannot believe in a God who commands us.

However, I also believe that religion has some kind of truth to it. It exists in a similar form across too many boundaries of time, culture, place, and people to dismiss as superstition. Joseph Campbell is widely derided as a forefather of New Agey nonesense, but Campbell’s observation that every culture has an almost identical religious story is true. He further observed that all of our stories, even those that are not religious, have a similar structure. He called these hero stories, and its the same whether its Christianity, or Star Wars, or The Matrix. Dark and malignant forces are corruption humanity, causing suffering and injustice at scale. Then a hero arrives, and he leads good people to an improbable victory over these dark forces, restoring balance and order to life. The hero often has mythical or supernatural powers that help him stand up against forces that outnumber him or have some perceived insurmountable edge.

Its the story of Neo, David and Goliath, Christ, Ghandi, Civil Rights, and Luke Skywalker. Note that I am intentionally vacillating between science fiction, religion, and historical examples. This is intentional.

I can’t accept that some people have supernatural powers, or that God is literal, but I can accept that there is something important to these stories to learn from. The problem is discerning what is distraction from important. Church’s exist, in my view, in part, to make the distractions important and to make the important a distraction. I make no claims as to whether or not this intentional or a conscious effort. In fact, I believe that it is part of the cycle that human spirituality moves in.

Philosophy has a concept called emergent phenomena or behavior. It is another way of saying that simple interactions between individuals can add up to group behavior that the individuals may not be aware of or agree with. It is the way that individual behavior in context to one another can create a system that has a certain logic and narrative coherence in its behavior that is more than the sum of its parts.

Anonymous said...

Power is not something that is just taken, it is also something that is given. And I am done giving it up. If we didn't give it up, there would be nothing for them to take.

This is a point I have stressed repeatedly when talking politics and specifically that Merit-Mode known as "process" and/or "policy."

It dovetails pretty well with what the folks at BAR said in their recent entry covering Harry Belafonte, Barry O'Barmy, and the "you need to make me do it" idea.

As in Israel/AIPAC: nobody is required to pay obeisance to Zion; they do so willingly -- they accede macro-power, in order to gain micro-power.

As in Obama: he isn't trying to do the proper/ethical/egalitarian thing. He's doing exactly what he wants. Nobody's forced him into his present situation. Whatever compromises he makes and made, he has done so willingly.

People have much more freedom of choice than they imagine. What clouds their thinking is the assumption of Utter Duality, the This-or-That, Us-vs-Them nature of socio-economic-political theater.

Anonymous said...

Church’s exist, in my view, in part, to make the distractions important and to make the important a distraction. I make no claims as to whether or not this intentional or a conscious effort. In fact, I believe that it is part of the cycle that human spirituality moves in.

I'd wager it's intentional as anything can be. Choices, right? Can choose this, can choose that, can choose the thing over here, and can choose that other thing over there. Can also choose from among the other choices not just named.

Choosing to make the distraction important and the important a distraction is indeed a choice and I'd wager it's conscious and I'd wager it's consciously directed toward protecting the chooser's view of "reality" -- however defined.

The True Believer (traditional religion variant) has a "reality" that is different from my own, but that doesn't make it less "real" to the True Believer even if it's totally surreal to me.

Easier to believe (for example) that My Son Bradley died at age 22 in a drunk driving accident "because it was God's will" than to confront whatever failures I could have made in shepherding Bradley through life's risk analysis.

Justin said...

KFO, yeah, I do believe it is intentional. The Church's declared existence is pretty rigged. They are essentially saying that they are the vendor for morality and spiritual health. If you want access to those values, then you have to pay them. They've been quite explicit about this, such as back when you could literally buy your salvation from them as indulgences. Note the inversion, suddenly you really don't have to worry about what you are doing so long as you ask permission/forgiveness for it later under the premise that your crimes are unavoidable.

As for sharing what happened to your child, I don't think anyone can say anything to you that you haven't thought about or told you before. Nobody does a good enough job of teaching their kids about the mortal danger of living. That is also beside the point, because while it is true that no matter how good a job a parent does, no one does a good enough job of that, because its impossible. Random, terrible shit happens. I've taken very stupid risks and gotten away with it. I am sure everyone is the same, some of us just don't get so lucky to get away with it, and then others are left wondering what they did wrong, why they couldn't save us.

I truly believe that the draw of being a parent is the need to feel like you can save your fellow man. The only way you can ever actually do this is as a parent, but even then, not really. From the moment they begin walking and talking, you begin losing, inch by inch, the power to save them from danger.

Sorry for intruding on your personal story, but that is just my thoughts on it.

Anonymous said...

Justin, it's not a personal story, it's a made-up example of the point.

I have no kids -- have no wish for them, have none to watch over. Some say this makes me less human; I say it makes me clearer-thinking because I'm immune to the heart-string-pulling of "think of the children."

Above I was stressing the point that all choices reflect the chooser's value... Sartre's universal chooser idea resonates here. I choose how I would want others to choose; in so doing I hope my own "reality" is similar to that in which others operate.

The RC Church wants rhythm method and abstinence to be Doctrine on Birth Control so that the flock will expand -- they know both methods result in unintended pregnancies. They know that RC believers don't go in as readily for abortion; thus the "birth control" is actually a Parish Growth Formula in disguise.

That's not serendipity: that's choice and intent, played out.

Justin said...

Oh, well, fuck it.

Gabriel said...

KFO, did anyone ever tell you that you sound like Dwight?

Regarding declining to give up power, opting out, whatever, that's the trick, isn't it? But Justin, you need power more than the power needs you.

Mr. Crow, the weak need power, you've got that much right. But you then you go thinking you're not weak. Who is weak? Women, children, and anyone who cares for them, that is who. This part KFO nails. When the going gets tough, women and children are just an impediment to survival, and fathers won't revolt as long as they can feed their kids.

You guys are really close to the epiphany: democracy is not a solution. It is just another means of control. The masses cannot rule, scattering of power is only disguising of power. You've said it yourselves, but you don't really get it yet. You're still under the impression that we don't really have democracy, but we do! You're looking at it. It will always come to this. If you're KFO, all the environmental degradation is the worst thing of all, and humanity deserves what's coming to it on that account. If you're Crow, it's the monetization of humanity, and one day they will break free and crush the weak oppressors. If you're Justin, it's the moral straight jacket of society, soul crushing conformity, and that to shall crumble and only what is good will remain.

But, the fact is, you guys are optimists. All things considered, it's not quite as bad as it could be, but it's still pretty ugly, and getting uglier. So, who have we given control to? We have given control to those without scruples, to rule on behalf of the weak, the oppressed, because the strong can take care of themselves. And they can! The USG will make make everyone equal, and the strong and able will be one step ahead of them at every turn. And when it all falls apart, who suffers? Think of the women and children, and weep.

If we were really governed by devious monsters, do you think their firepower would not more than make up for the masses manpower? Considering what we are witnessing in the Middle East, how hard do you think it would be to convince the relatively affluent (which is a good enough chunk of America) that any means are justified to preserve order?

No, I think we are actually governed by people whose minds roam unhindered by the fetters of reality. In the face of domestic revolt, the USG would scratch it's head in bewilderment. And the revolt would quickly realize that this is the new normal, and it's not worth getting gassed and soaked and pelted with rubber bullets over, and go home.

Mandos said...

You guys are really close to the epiphany: democracy is not a solution. It is just another means of control. The masses cannot rule, scattering of power is only disguising of power. You've said it yourselves, but you don't really get it yet. You're still under the impression that we don't really have democracy, but we do! You're looking at it. It will always come to this.


L'état, c'est nous, mais nous ne le savons pas.

But that's what's there. *shrug*

Jack Crow said...

Women are weak, Gabriel?

What next, you'll quote Guenon and Coomaraswamy at us?

Gabriel said...

Well I'm honored that you didn't just call me a misogynist and leave it at that, and instead attribute some esoteric metaphysical background to my position. But no, I just have eyes. The Aristophanes knew this, which is why the women instituted socialism. This is no discredit to them. But, again, it all falls apart.

Justin said...


I think you have a lot of interesting stuff to say, but don't tell me what I think. Conformity? Democracy? I could give a shit. Your interpretation of my point of view is woefully incorrect. I am willing to entertain the idea that this is a failing on my ability to communicate, but for the moment let me just say that bringing down conformity or returning to a true democracy is hardly on my list of things that would make the sun shine.

My whole anything is to smash any pretense of normative arguments. You are exactly right, our society is a what it is and no more. The only question for the individual is whaddareyougonnado about it.

Jack Crow said...

Nor mine, Justin. But, it seems Gabriel's intent is to argue for a Christian traditionalism which firmly declares that women are weak on account of a play written by Aristophanes.

davidly said...

Good Christian housewives will be the first to be eaten by their husbands, when the "protecting them" part fails.

Woman have always been at the forefront of not ceding anything to power.

Gabriel said...

Davidly, thinking in caricatures is fun, and I won't claim not to enjoy it. But the second part? Well, self-caricature is usually less fun, unless you can't see it. So, at least one of us is out of their mind, and the other can take comfort in that.

Mr. Crow, I'll be up front about being a Christian, but I don't bring theology to discussions where it does not belong. As discussed elsewhere, I'd be perfectly comfortable with a true sharia, as explained by yourself.

Justin, your point of view is complex, no doubt, and maybe I was out of line trying to parse it so simplistically. But at the end of a lot of your writing I'm left wondering if it is all sound and fury... Maybe I'm dim, but maybe you could use an editor, or maybe just another draft. Thank you for clarifying so succinctly. But smashing the pretense of normative arguments sounds pretty vague and subjective.

davidly said...

So, at least one of us is out of their mind, and the other can take comfort in that.

Justin said...

I think my point of view is not so complex, actually. That's my problem.

Everything else you say about me needing an editor, and being full of hot air is also true. I am actively working on that though, and my guess is that when I am not full of hot air anymore then I won't be posting comments here or anywhere else.

Smashing normative arguments just means that I have no patience for calls to return to a kinder, gentler, most just time. Or that even though something is the way it is, its not how we want it to be and that's what really matters. That is all I mean.

Anonymous said...

Gabriel pretends to be responding to me by mentioning "KFO and _______" as if the linkage Gabriel draws is inescapable -- and moreover, is the very linkage I've drawn.

Not a single comment he made regarding me or my alleged thoughts is what I think. Not a single one.

So what's he up to?

Makes me wonder what other names "Gabriel" comments under.

Jack Crow said...

He's trolling. It's worth the amusement. Gabriel started off concern trolling, but now it's just the run of the mill shit.

Gabriel said...

Always happy to entertain. I never implied I'm with you on everything. I just think the things I'm with you on are far more important than where we part company, and I'm exploring whether there's a compelling reason to accept the whole deal. So far, prescriptions here are amusing distractions, the root causes phantoms. I make no claim of having any solution myself, but then I'm just a snarky lurker. I'm working on giving you a target, in the name of fairness, but I'm lazy. Patience.

Claiming the state is weak is to equate the state with those currently at the helm. It is not so. Destroy them and it will live on. The USG is a globe bestriding colossus, a true Leviathan, driven by the fickle whim of the distracted and put upon masses, and manipulated those that think they can wield it for good.

As relatively practical prescriptions go, I'd advocate state secession in chunks before a people power revolution. I am no friend of chaos, and while the status quo is repugnant, order and chaos exist on a continuum. You can always move towards gray goo. If we're not going to have secession, then I'd advocate a universal draft. Shove everyone's nose in the insanity so they can't even pretend not to see. This may be misguided, but if you believe the people have the power to change anything, reacquainting them with reality is going to be a pre-requisite.

Justin, I'm a slow reader, don't give my bitching too much weight. Speak your mind.

KFO, your erudition has escaped me, I guess. Pay me no heed.

Ken Bias said...

Of course I feel it. And may I be forgiven for any appearance of sycophancy, which might arise from my saying: Jack is certainly one of the wisest, and perhaps *the* boldest voice that one can have the pleasure of reading in this desolately "postmodern" age. He somehow, simultaneously, voices my worst fears and my greatest hopes. Thanks, Jack.

Justin said...

I don't know Gabriel's history here, but in the context of this thread, I think its unfair to just call him a troll and dismiss him. I agree, his characterizations of others opinions are not accurate, but he seems more than receptive to hear clarifications. Its kind of a bullshit attitude to just dismiss anyone who isn't on our exact same page as a troll. Not to say there are not troll or that we have to respond to every tom, dick and harry, but its a reflexive response that I think we should check.

Just my opinion.

Jack Crow said...


He's trolling. He started by concern trolling my tone. Then he moved on to the intelligence of those who comment, or encourage posts. He spent a day or two bemoaning the willingness of people to treat me as profound and clever (which claim I have, of course, never made). Now he's arrived at self-referential and obvious trolling: women are the actual weak and we're all blind, anti-social nutjobs for failing to understand it.

I'm not dismissing him. He's welcome to post as many replies as he likes. But, he's still a fucking troll.

Jack Crow said...

Humbled, Ken.

Anonymous said...

Justin, the practice of intentional non-sequiturs...

such as, referencing my "erudition" when I haven't raised the question of whether my comments are pithy, erudite, pedantic, scholarly, informed, hostile, pejorative, relaxed, starch-collared, rumpled, frizzled or upright.

I mean, what's the point in talking about my "erudition" other than to raise in the reader's mind the question,

"Does Ochstradt really believe himself erudite, and if so, why?"

I mean, what other cause?

I'm just wondering if this is the same "Gabriel" who posts half-reasoned, half-insane comments at InfoClearingHouse. The style is similar. Who knows how many authors use the handle, though.

Ken Bias said...

Just to add a little of my own personal perspective, I've felt an internal (perhaps initially "unconscious", you could say)omen of eventual societal unraveling for several years now. Retrospectively, it seems that this "intuition" emerged at a time parallel to my entrance into adulthood.
Then, one day, in a college class on short stories (of all places), I had something of a cumulative revelation. I believe I can attribute this revelation to the course's professor -- a TA, in fact, which I find are typically the best instructors -- who was particularly enlightening. She was from Colombia, and thus had a much different take on the Empire than anyone I had ever come across to that point, as I was barely out of my teenage years at the time and therefore, like the stereotypical parochial-minded American, had little to no knowledge of what went on outside the Empire's domestic borders. This would change significantly from thereon.
At any rate, on this one day, we happened to be discussing a story that was focused upon the paradigm-shift that NYC underwent, following 9/11. The story wonderfully contrasted the preposterous hysteria surrounding the non-event of Y2K, with the nonchalant and tacit acceptance by the masses of the *truly* apocalyptic event that happened less than 2 years later -- that is,not-so-much the attack itself, but rather the incomprehensibly authoritarian *response* to the attacks by domestic powers-that-be. This went on and continues to go on without much complaint from the population. For some reason, this exact contrast resonated somewhere within me in the same way as the faceless proclamation, heard by Jack, resonated within him. It made me realize, not only that everything I had ever merely presumed about the world was, almost without exception, a total lie -- but that others realized it, too. There is great solidarity in this.

Gabe Ruth said...

Well, henceforth, I shall go by Gabe Ruth. I'll have to look that other cat up, never been there myself.

My shorthand was rude, I was carried away, and I apologize. What I've gotten from this community I can never repay. But there are things that grate on my ear as deluded, and I reply impulsively. I don't know why. I'm probably just lonely.

Jack Crow said...


It's not for me to instruct you in how to reply, but when you get repeated good faith responses and then pivot and call those who have given you the decency of that good faith "deluded" it perhaps follows in no long leap that your motives will seem suspect.

You can call call me a no-talent, asshole hack without insight or discernible merit any time you want. I welcome it.

But, please don't misrepresent the people who are kind enough to give a few moments of their time to engage here in conversation.

That's the sort of trolling which bores me.



That's top notch. I wish I had more time tonight to give your reply the due it deserves, but my brother's getting married this weekend and my wife has finally persuaded me to "try on that shirt" already.

Justin said...

Jack, I don't think he is intentionally misrepresenting anyone. I think what happens is that when you begin encountering ideas that intrigue you, but are coming from a place that you may have considered far out there some time ago, and are still coming from a set of premises that are far out from your own, you make sense of them by making simplifications and abstractions which are based in your now changing world view.

The way you verify that you are getting it right is to restate the sense you are making of it. I think that is what he is doing, and he probably will keep doing it, its not to annoy you, its to see if he has the hang of what you are saying. It takes time to find a hold sometimes.

I read his comments and he is very receptive to clarification, I think you are allowing cynicism to misinterpret this situation because trolling is a pain in the ass and a safe default assumption when someone appears to have trouble getting a point of view you find obvious.

I don't mean this in a condescending way, there are about billion mindsets that all of us are not sure about or have little experience operating in.

Jack Crow said...



"Mr. Crow,
Is it possible to be narcissistic without pride? Many of your commenters do you a profound dis-service by exaggerating your your profundity, which feeds your ego. This is not to say you don't have moments, but this wasn't one of them. Don't stop trying, please. If I thought my comments could discourage you I would button it."

...is not a person writing in good faith.

Justin said...

I disagree. I think it is more indicative of uncertainty in how to relate to others. I think it could also represent an uncertainty about your ideas that is rooted in discomfort with a personal struggle to accept that things are not really as they seemed. It's the old, "I don't agree with everything he is saying, but some of this makes sense" distancing trick. Its what people do when they want to find some way to reject the entire conclusion because to do so would overturn something they believed in.

Now maybe I am completely wrong here and you are right. But I think we are both coming to conclusions that have just as much validity in the observed behavior.

Not everyone who struggles with this stuff in one way or the other is a troll. I've said some really stupid shit in my day as I struggled to come to grips with something, like my first few attempts to deal with say, black people, without my father's prejudice. Stilted things that probably left those people wondering if I wasn't operating with an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Justin, while what you just posted sounds reasonable, it also completely ignores what Jack quoted.


What Jack quoted isn't a person wrestling with agreement-or-not. It's a person pot-shotting with petty personal insult.

That's what it's written as. Who knows what exactly "Gabriel" or "Gabe Ruth" actually intended, though. I'd have to be G or GR to know the answer there.

The choice of words doesn't suggest equivocation or wrestling with agreement.

The choice of words reads like that of a well-educated person trying to sound blue collar, as if to make some remark about Jack.

That's how it reads to me.

And I've disagreed with Jack before quite openly, so I am not playing Yes Man here. I'm just saying what G or GR's posts read as, to me.

What I haven't considered, and what could be possible: true psychosis, here and not-here, with no firm tether.

Justin said...

"Is it possible to be narcissistic without pride? Many of your commenters do you a profound dis-service by exaggerating your your profundity, which feeds your ego. This is not to say you don't have moments, but this wasn't one of them. Don't stop trying, please. If I thought my comments could discourage you I would button it."

reads to me like this:

"Although I don't agree with everything person x says here, he is making a good point."

I see that all the time, and the part that is aggravating, agreed, is that they don't specify what exactly they have a problem with.

In this instance, I have no idea what Gabriel is speaking to as far as Jack being narcissistic nor does he specify. At the same time, the guy is saying he is interested in hearing more of what Jack has to say. That is how I considered my response.

I don't really know what else to say about the matter. Most trolls, when pointed to the simplifications they are making or over generalized assumptions don't back off of them. They just ignore the point. Read up thread, Gabriel backed off of several of these.

Justin said...

And I'll just add that hopefully you both know I am not trying to be over the top with a benefit of the doubt. If I really thought he was just trolling, i would say so. And I know where I recognize that kind of thing.

I've learned a lot from both of you, and believe me, I am starting from a place that is a lot closer to you two. Every time Jack posts a semi-autobiographical post, I learn a lot. And until I got something you were saying, i.e. economists, I was in a similar mindset/opinion. I feel like I recognize when someone else is in that same space as opposed to when someone is in just trying to be a pain in the ass. Its the same space I was in the first time I chanced upon Noam Chomsky on book TV saying all kinds of things I'd never imagined could be said. I know, I know, he is a false prophet of the capitalist machine. :)

Jack Crow said...


You are kinder than I. But, I'm not trying to chase him off. I just don't have a lot of excess patience for tone scolds.

It's faintly embarrassing. As in, I'm embarrassed for the sort of person who takes on that kind of perspective, worrying my soul and my profundity and the errors I might make because a commenter doesn't encourage my humility.

That's church basement proximity, and it carries the odor of a sweaty groper in a field house of ballplayers. It's too intimate, and without context.

I don't trust intimacy which has no history.


This is intriguing as all get out:

"...At any rate, on this one day, we happened to be discussing a story that was focused upon the paradigm-shift that NYC underwent, following 9/11. The story wonderfully contrasted the preposterous hysteria surrounding the non-event of Y2K, with the nonchalant and tacit acceptance by the masses of the *truly* apocalyptic event that happened less than 2 years later -- that is,not-so-much the attack itself, but rather the incomprehensibly authoritarian *response* to the attacks by domestic powers-that-be..."

One of my good friends bought rice in fifty pound sacks, in prep for y2k. And he wasn't a loon about it. It's just sort of who he is, and he has the resource base to cover his own preparations.

His attitude was: I can control this.

But, after 9/11™ he and I and most of the people we know all went on about our lives as if we had not an ounce of control over the outcome.

I wonder what the mechanism of difference was. The state? An "act of war"?


Ken Bias said...

Ever since I read this story ("Twilight of the Superheroes", by Deborah Eisenberg) I have always found this contrast enigmatically fascinating as well, for myriad reasons. Not the least of these reasons, I believe, is that in my case, both events -- Y2K and 9/11 -- were so formative in shaping my consciousness as a child.
"Oh, yes," I seemed to think, in retrospect, "we *did* all believe the world might end when it hit the year 2000. And then it did not. But then the world really *did* end -- that is, the last remaining precious shreds of pretense that our society was at all 'logical' were abruptly destroyed -- less than 2 years later -- but few seemed to care. How could this be so?" It had (still has) an endlessly chilling, yet oddly liberating, effect on my consciousness. Here is how Eisenberg described it (describing NYC a couple of years after 9/11):
"Money is flowing a bit again, most of the flags have folded up, those nerve-wracking terror alerts have all but stopped, the kids in the restaurants have calmed down, no more rolling blackouts, and the dogs on the street encode no particular messages. Once again, people are concerned with getting on with their lives. Once again, the curtain has dropped...[here comes the most important part]
Except that people seem a little bit nervous, a little uncomfortable, a little wary. Because you can't help sort of knowing that what you're seeing is only the curtain. And you can't help guessing what might be going on behind it."

Justin said...

Ken, what you are describing is pretty universal. Its what Chomsky calls a web of deceit, what Bageant called the American hologram of reality. Its what Jack writes about often, his own experience of getting through the delusions. Its also what Oxtrot, in his own inimitably cranky way, when he is on, offers. (I mean that in the best possible way CFO.)

On my desktop, the browswer is in the background flashing through several stories. Why TV was never the same After Oprah, Deadly Tornadoes Slam Three States, Hines Ward Scores Dancing with the stars MVP, and what happened to the high-paying jobs?

The last one sort of starts to hint at a way out of the maze, but the framing of the issue of economic insuecurity is so badly warped that it still takes a lot of work.

Here's hoping blogger doesn't eat my shorts again.

Ken Bias said...

Justin -- Excellent points. My own preferred metaphor for this phenomena (not one I made up, just the one that feels most apt) is the Looking Glass, a la Alice in Wonderland.

Justin said...

Yeah, you pretty much have to invert everything to get at the truth of it.

As some have pointed out, the rapey Kahn guy is actually a far more vicious animal in his capacity as a promoter of capitalist interest and wealth than his raping of a hotel maid, but what draws our ire is not his professional role as a rapist of national wealth and entire peoples, but his raping of a maid. Someone who is not ready to see the inversion of this might agree with me on the big picture story, but also misinterpret me to think that I am dismissing the significance of the crime of raping a woman. They'll probably also think that Kahn was an aberration, no, he's a wolf running with wolves. At his level, this is how they all think of the world. The rest of us are literally sheep, resources. If we were all outside the hologram, not a single one of those fuckers would be free.

Ken Bias said...

I couldn't agree more about S-K -- I loved what IOZ had to say about it, in particular.

Meanwhile, in news more directly related to the grand "unraveling," to come, I have heard the argument -- which to me seems to make utter sense -- that the date to watch is this July, when the corporate earnings from the first full fiscal quarter post-Fukushima are released. It has been said that such earnings' expected paltriness will be, for most, so startling in a worldwide sense that its reportage will catalyze a resurgent, cataclysmic, global financial catastrophe. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Justin -- I wonder when I'm "on" as it seems I'm always "off" and hit "on" by sheer happenstance. That's the feeling anyway, the feeling from living in the hologram others call "reality."

Of course S-K's rape of a hotel maid is worse than fiscal rape. We live now in an era where the intimately personal is the maximal socially political. Whom to vote for devolves to supporters of abortion rights, supporters of gay marriage.

That tells it all. Symbolic victories are HUGE, real advances irrelevant.

Back to G / GR -- his comment left at my hovel suggests he isn't anything more than a concern troll. And while I don't like the label "concern troll" because it's been used erroneously against me thousands of times by Donkeyphiles everywhere in the Toobz, I do understand the motive for that label's origination: pretending to be concerned over minutiae.

It smells like human hair lit on fire.

Gabe Ruth said...

First, some acknowledgments: Substance free snark is not a good way to show interest, and I can only plead social ineptness. Justin, your generosity marks you as a prince among men, just as Jack's and KFO's lack of it shows their wisdom and worldliness.

Some soul bearing: I come here to make sure I don't become intellectually comfortable again. Having escaped mainstream conservatism, I am not homeless, but I am not really certain either. Where I am comfortable, I don't have to think too hard. I don't bother to comment. Even if I disagree with the writer, if I understand what he is saying and why I think he's wrong, I am still in danger. Here, I have to work hard. There is too much truth to dismiss.

Jack, I think you are a fine writer. I will watch my tongue, and troll your comments no more.

Abonilox said...

Mr. Crow,

Thanks for the post. Sorry I got to this so late... Lots of good banter. I continue to follow CFO and Justin regularly and appreciate their blogs very much.

Regarding the original post, it resonated with me. I haven't found a way to articulate it, but have felt the unravelling for some time, though in my self-loathing heart of hearts I continue to attribute it to my own personal failings (the mood, not the general conditions in the world--there's solipsism for you!)

I've been trying to study Heidegger and though I find much of him untintelligible, he talks about mood a lot and makes kind of a big deal about it. He makes of mood something communal that has a real being itself. It is not a private, separate internal experience. Memes sound like Computer Programmer bullshit to me, but mood is something that is more primordial.

Anyway, I feel it too... the unravelling of things.

Jack Crow said...


Caught a study on PBS purporting to demonstrate that happiness suicide and divorce were replicating phenomena.

That what we treat, in our society, as bellwethers of personal success and self-improvement are in fact more indicative of a communal experience than previously thought (or at least, thought since the onset of the British/American continuation of the Enlightenment and Industrialization).

I don't remember the program, or the specifics of the study, but if I remember correctly, the argument seemed at least persuasively made.

Ehrenreich, in "Dancing in the Streets," makes a similar case for the collectivity of joy, celebration and insurrection (connecting all three, in fact).

A case further made, and with such passion and force that I still associate the Phillip Glass I was listening to when I read it with this work, made by Jay Griffiths, in a "Sideways Look At Time." This book prefigures Jensen, on civilization, if that's of any interest to you.


Damning with faint praise is funny. Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

Memes sound like Computer Programmer bullshit to me, but mood is something that is more primordial.

Use of the term "meme" is a token of insider-ness. It's one of the Politically Correct phrases of this era.

I hate obscurantist bullshit that creates new phrases for old ideas and pretends the old idea thereby is changed.

See, e.g., George Lakoff.

Thanks for the words, Abonilox!


G.R., you seem less human than before, with that last comment. In contrast to the others, I find you less tolerable now. Good thing this is Jack's place and not mine!

Justin said...

Jack, I read his comment to you as damning with high praise. Leave aside the bits you find offensive, look at the compliments of your writing. Gab basically just confessed that what you are saying is striking a chord with him so deep that he can't just ignore it, but, at the same time, he isn't just going to accept anything that sounds sort of plausible. That's why he is here in the first place rather than watching Glenn Beck on the Youtube. But at the same time, he may not be sure how to attack your ideas, so his way of challenging your ideas is to challenge you.

Gab, I am not too nice, on the contrary. I am just trying to be honest.

What you are saying about me is somewhat correct. There was a time when I wrapped myself up in false battles against conformity, or held onto romanticized ideals of democracy. I've left all that behind, in a sense, but you recognized it, which says to me that you are correctly mapping the character behind what I am saying to something that is more recognizable, the cliche of an idealist's crusade against conformity. I have no shame in admitting that I once invested myself in that, I think it was ridiculous now, or at least beside the point, but I had to start somewhere.

I have also been full of hot air and in need of an editor, I wasn't being glib to copping to that, but I am also taking active steps to get away from that.

You are smart enough and willing to question things to get you this far, whether you ultimately agree with me or not doesn't matter to me, just keep pushing through your own assumptions and beliefs. Don't let people getting pissed at you for having a hard time getting what they are saying exactly or insulting you distract you from what they have to offer. I am speaking to you by speaking to myself. I hope I have something of the truth here.

I used to write a blog like this one, and I eventually realized that I was full of hot air and it was beginning to devolve into a preaching of the choir environment. I don't think Jack is full of hot air, that's why I am still here, but when we look for trolls, we are going to see trolls. I think Jack and CFO both forget sometimes how bizarre their points of view might seem to people who are not already there. I don't think their POVs are bizarre because I have been working at the same things they have with some of the same ideas for a long time. And it took refracting new ideas through ones I was comfortable with and finding similarities and differences for me to keep moving forward and I've held onto beliefs sometimes for far longer than was warranted by the available evidence. I was never a party man, meaning party politics, but I certainly had more normative and romantic notions about the United States than I do now as recently as 2 or 3 years ago.

In my blog, I'd make mistakes, basic ones, and commenter's would leap to my defense when others would point them out. I ended that blog with an example of this kind of thinking carried to its logical extreme. The point is, we all become Marxists, and anyone who doesn't get our point of view exactly looks like someone with a nefarious agenda, when, in fact, they could just be someone for whom the contradictions have begun to pile too high and too deep to ignore any longer and they are revisiting ideas that once seemed bizarre because everyone they know says they are bizarre. Once someone starts calling you a troll as a way of questioning your intelligence, its easy to become one. Your intelligence and willingness to question things, even if its sometimes the wrong questions (like is Jack a narcissist?) is what got you here, I believe.

Anyway, if you ever want to email me, feel free. Mccro8@gmail.com
I offer that in the spirit of friendship and figuring shit out. If there is one thing I've learned over time, its that I have never been totally right about anything, so there is no reason to believe that I am right about everything now.

Jack Crow said...


It really, really isn't about the ideas - or the disparity of our points of view.

It's the too-familiar approach. Perhaps its a regional thing. I know Karl and I share it, to some extent, as we hail from the same basic stretch of country and despite a wide swatch of political territory upon which we cannot agree, I know I "got" Karl/Oxtrot immediately.

My wife loves to read him, and she's even further from him politically than I am.

Perhaps it's best put to bits and bytes by relaying something she told me years and years ago, about being a Yankee in Northern California.

When she moved from northern New England to Marin/SanFran it took her a while to adjust to a casual intimacy and friendliness which is absolutely foreign to a typical Yank exchange. We don't talk to strangers, especially not as if we've known them forever. At best, pudeur might be broken over a sports score, an unruly child whose parents ought to know better, or exceedingly inappropriate (that is, loud and intrusive) public conduct from a stranger.

The ready hugs, the smiles and waves from strangers, the familiarity without history struck her as not only odd, but creepy.


She was equally shocked, in returning. She had to readjust to a culture where stoically and steadfastly minding one's own cold and wintery business has more believers than Jesus and Mary.

I lived next to my neighbors, at my last address, for nearly fifteen years and I never knew their names. They never asked mine. We would smile in passing, perhaps on an exceptionally bright and sunny day - but it's just not kosher to strike up a conversation, or presume an intimacy that isn't hard won, and tested, around here.

My own culture shock came on an extended trip through most of what was once the Confederacy, ending for a long stay in New Orleans. I remember being in a cafe, attempting to understand why anyone would put burnt wood chips into coffee, when I realized that the conversation taking place at the counter had been unceremoniously interrupted by two obvious but friendly strangers. Without a hiccup, the exchange adjusted to include two more persons, and everyone was chatting with a familial comfort that made no sense, because it had no history.

The only place or time where anyone I know would even begin to tolerate that sort of presumption is within family. My own aging matriarchy is able to maintain a dozen conversations at once, but if a stranger ever interrupted and presumed to add his or her thoughts, especially in a neutral or public location, that person would be met with stony and unforgiving silence. Until he or she left. To be followed with offended stares and maybe even several rude gestures.

As in, who the fuck does that?

Justin said...

I'm no fan of assumed intimacy or friendship either, I get where you are coming from.

I can get over it because although part of me wants to tell someone I don't know to fuck off when they call me a blow-hard, I have to be honest with myself. Am I one? Is some part of me a blow-hard? If the answer is yes, then why should I be pissed? If the answer is no, again, why should I be pissed?

I get it Jack, I am from upstate New York. Its the same there, neighbors, but rarely friends. I'd never just barge into a place and start talking. But think about what you just said, then think about the stuff you post about sometimes, like this post, and how personal that is. And that you are posting this in a public place.

Your question as in who the fuck does that?

You are who the fuck does that.

Why take it personally when people try to reciprocate, even when they say shit that's over the line. Its easy to make your blog accessible by invitation only in your settings. If thats the way you go with it, I hope I get an invite in.

Point is, a lot of us are operating from a dysfunctional and pathological social framework, (Dixie being the obvious exception, *grin*), so its almost impossible to know how to engage a stranger who just said shit we feel, but couldn't say, and maybe wouldn't say if we could, not even to our closest friends or family members.

fish said...

When she moved from northern New England to Marin/SanFran it took her a while to adjust to a casual intimacy and friendliness which is absolutely foreign to a typical Yank exchange.

This is perfect. When I first moved to MD with my wife, the first day she returned to our apartment in tears. When I asked what was wrong, she said "people are looking at me."

Jack Crow said...

Holy shit, fish - that's an exact portrait in reverse from one painted by an old coworker.

He was relocated by our company from Ohio, and after a week he said, "Doesn't anyone here look in anybody else's eyes?"

The table of us laughed and someone said, "Maybe if they're angry, or drunk or they want to fuck you..."

Which got us all talking about something a different coworker had mentioned, on the subject of public religiosity.

She was taken aback by the hostile looks she got for saying, "Praise Jesus" come her turn at the end of an exceptionally long wait in a Dunkin's line, one winter morning.

It took us a while to convince her that public expressions of even casual faith marked one as an ignorant outsider, almost more than wearing Yankees memorabilia, or saying Worcester or Gloucester or Portsmouth wrong.

She of course said them as "Wurr-cess-ter," "Glauw-cess-ter," and "Poortz-mouth" instead of the right proper "Woostah, Glawstah and Potzmth."

(There was no persuading her that "Windham" was not "Whindd-hamm" but instead rightly pronounced "W'n'd'm." Or that her new home city was really called "Manj's'tah.")

Justin said...

"As in, who the fuck does that?"


I wrote a longish reply that got ated. The simple version is you are who the fuck does that. You have a public blog with an open comments section. When you write autobiographical posts expressing feelings in coherent thoughts that most people barely admit to themselves that they are thinking or feeling, much less talk about to their friends or family, they are going to react very personally to that and make missteps in their attempts to engage your thoughts by engaging you, personally.

It's the same reason, I think, that people react to artists or great thinkers with such personal love that is so bizarre and discomfiting. It doesn't make it healthy, agreed. And I am not saying you should just take it without setting boundaries, but I think you are also overstepping some bounds by jumping to the conclusion that someone cannot possibly be arguing good faith. What you are really saying is that they are either liars or too stupid to talk to you. Christ, I think I've probably made the same 'mistake' with you a few times myself, the difference is that for me, I think holding everyone at arm's length is disfunctional. I don't let it bother me if people want to hold me at arm's length, I'll just say what I have to say and let them respond however they wish. I hope you take this criticism respectfully, I am trying not to assume anything about your character or person, just the handling of this situation and what I see of it. And, granted, I've already fucked up in making the assumption about why you insist this guy must be a troll.

If you decide to take the blog private, invite only (and its easy enough to do in the security settings), I hope you send an invite my way.

Jack Crow said...


You're misunderstanding the question, I think.

It isn't about how people present themselves. It's about how others function in response. It wouldn't occur to me to tell you how to make your argument, or that you needed to have a different tone. I can't imagine visiting your "house" in order to tell your respondents to change how they reply, so that you don't get notions about your value, profundity or intelligence.

That's the difference, I imagine. And although this is mostly an intellectual exercise, as we are faceless or pseudonymous two dimensional characters in a minor act of guerrilla theater, it has been worth the discussion. For which fact I'm grateful, and pleasantly entertained.

What started off as vague musings about the apprehension of decline has become an interesting exploration of the dynamics of human interaction, and the limitations which inhabit the value meanings we too often assume to be universal and complicit.

I think of a couple having a conversation in a cafe. There's an understanding that it can be overheard, because it's happening in public. They don't have an expectation of perfect or absolutely privacy.

That doesn't mean it's not a bit offputting for a stranger to inject himself in order to police their tone, because it doesn't suit his hidebound impressions of how that couple should speak one to the other.

That's the gist of my interpretation, really. Not that it hasn't been fruitful.

Perhaps it really is regional. My wife, reading over this discussion, seems to think so.

I've invited her to offer her own additional anecdote. With good fortune, she'll do just that.

Justin said...

What an interesting turn. I still think there is something to the difference in this type of interaction and coming into your physical presence. The voice of your writing is spoken in the voice of our conscious, I think that is what can sometimes lead to awkward intimacy in this situation.

As for you are saying, I got that question. My point was that he was moved to respond to you, didn't know how, and because of the sort false personal intimacy that writing imparts, went with a personal response to you.

Look at it this way, in reading your writing about this, you are literally helping someone put into words feelings that they have been having, but haven't synthesized it yet. Like suddenly those little glimpses are made into a coherent picture, or closer to one. Its a form of constructive criticism in world view. In turn, to respond, an offer in the form of personally constructive criticism feels natural. It doesn't mean it is natural, or that you have to accept it, or ignore it, all I am saying is that it doesn't just mean someone is trying to antagonize you.

I'd say ignore that stuff, its inappropriate, and just respond to the stuff that its possible to respond to, like correcting simplifications of your positions and advice, rather than simplifications or projections of your person.

Maybe I am projecting, because I am really speaking from experience to a degree here. I've long since learned how to interact appropriately, or how to interact appropriately inappropriately, but I think that gets the point you are making. Maybe now I am trying to interact inappropriately appropriately.

Fuck, I am fried. long day coding today... back to it now. Their really getting their juice from the squeeze while they can.

fish said...


Music to my ears. I don't even really say it that way anymore unless I am back in the NE for a couple of days (then the accent comes back haahd). I think there is a real nugget of truth to the regional differences slant on this discussion. I was surprised in this age of "globalization" how different the interpersonal interactions were when I moved 400 miles south. The real interesting thing is that is only true when you step out of interactions with the elite and interact at street level. The rulers of the universe (and their courtiers) have been homogenized and are pretty much the same wherever you go, but there are still huge regional differences in how people interact outside of the elite.
The internet creates an interesting experiment in that it can erase regional separation and you also don't have any body language cues to decide if someone is joking, angry, puzzled, etc. (Poe's Law in your sidebar is relevant here).
Much of the famous flaming of the internet might just be improper pronunciation of Peabody.

Anonymous said...


...and you also don't have any body language cues to decide if someone is joking, angry, puzzled, etc.

combine that with anonymity sought for both serious and jocular reasons, and eventually you realize: the point of internet exchange is whether the other's writing style connects.

It's the connection at some visceral intellectual (oxymoron?) level that makes me read or disparage any given e-writer. If I see a shared perspective in some aspect or in many facets I keep reading a person.

Likewise I'm quick to pick up on artificial modes of speech, stilted language, verbal fascia, adopted voice and when those things arise I'm quicker on the disdain.

I think anyone who's read broadly in his/her life does the same. It's how one separates wheat from chaff, humus from mineral soil.

Gabriel / Gabe Ruth writes in a manner that doesn't feel genuine. That's my take.

Jim H. said...

Two quick comments. Well, three.

1) Brilliant piece.

2) Second Law of Thermodynamics: it's everywhere— within you and without you.

3) Quoth Sam Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

(I'll catch up with the voluminous comments later; sorry I missed all the action!)

Anonymous said...

OMG. You guys are sitting around the parlour, sipping port and dissecting your own entrails.

Yes, there is something here to be considered, the dissolution of society, the need for order, obediance to vile authority. And there is something to be said about how a person present his arguments, and there is a time to get on with it.

As a Manhattan native, I hate to break this to you, but the world does not revolve around Manhattan; many voices have described the decay of Empire long before 9/11.

Your discovery says more about your cloistered lives than it does the world around you.

Anonymous said...

The only one imagining Manhattan = World is you, Nonny Mouse.

Ken Bias said...

I think he was most clearly referencing my point -- and clearly missing it, completely. My point-of-view once *was* "cloistered" -- so has been every other American's at least at one time, and for the vast majority, much longer. However, this was long ago in terms of time and much longer in terms of space-of-consciousness. No one here is *still* "cloistered," except for perhaps the Anonymous person two posts above, or anyone else who would try to shame others for admitting they weren't ALWAYS "right" about everything.
Oh, and for the record -- yes, the United States has been an "empire" since its inception. Bravo, Anonymous.