Dispatches, August ’16

8.1.16

Rabbit, rabbit.

I do not know the origin of that phrase; something a friend of my mother used to say, some good-luck charm to be leveraged at the first of every month. For maximum potency, it should be the first thing you say in the morning.

We could all use some luck, these days.

I slept too late this morning, and now my entire schedule[1] is tortured. I must have spent a good 20 minutes looking at my budget spreadsheet, trying to figure out where all my money went, until I remembered I bought a gently-used AR15 on sale a few weeks ago. $400 off MSRP is a great deal no matter which way you shred it, but it’s still $800. I take the long view on that sort of thing–$800 isn’t going to make a huge difference to my investment portfolio over the next 30 years or so.

Indeed, I think it’ll be a small miracle if the S&P 500 still exists in 30 years.

There’s a weird mental disconnect between my desire to build up smart investments and my abiding belief in the collapse of Western civilization. I don’t know which one it is, but at least one of my convictions lacks courage. I tell myself that there’s no sin in diversification, and that I’m covering my bases. Here: 

Global Economic Supercollapse Possibilities Invested Solely In Land & Ammunition Invested In Land, Ammunition, And Vanguard Index Funds
GESC Occurs (And I Live To Retirement Age) Good shape! Maybe I could have bought a few extra cases of JHPs, but still better than most.
GESC Does Not Occur (And I Live To Retirement Age) No liquid assets for retirement. Sitting pretty with cash on hand and a nice plot of land.

I’m no Nate Argentum, but that looks like there’s a 75% chance that a decent retirement fund is at least not a bad idea.

The future is always a problem. Rarely a solution. Problems are the world’s job, solutions are ours.

8.2.16

There’s so much ignorance, hate, terror, grief, and fury that it’s impossible to make any kind of guess, at least not with any confidence, about what the future holds. The future is always a problem, as a very smart and handsome man once said, but history offers an excellent predictive model.

Perhaps it would be better to say that it’s entirely possible to make a guess about the future, but it’s too distasteful to consider. We have ample evidence of what happens when a loudmouthed populist rides a wave of angry nationalist sentiment into a position of power. The sample body of evidence for events following months and years of national anger and unease is equally large.

There are going to be a lot of fires before this whole thing is done.

And increasingly, I worry that there are going to be a lot of fires after November wraps everything up.

Consider: we take it as an a priori fact that Teflon Don has created nothing. The sentiment that he has harnessed in his attempt to seize power isn’t new. He’s just the most recent representative of a toxic ideology that’s been curdling under the surface in this country (and abroad) for years. He didn’t invent distrust of immigrants. He didn’t invent resentment of the government. He didn’t invent hatred of Islam. Those people, millions of them apparently, were our friends, neighbors, and coworkers before Trump announced his candidacy. And the point: they aren’t going away, even if he loses.

I’ve not seen anyone discussing the fact that even if Der Fuhrer loses (and I pray that it may be so), we are in no way safe from the hatred and fear that propelled him onto that stage in Cleveland. It isn’t going to go away. Indeed, now that the “Silent Majority” has found a voice, it’s going to be very difficult to get them to shut up again. That cat is out of the radioactive box.

Words like “alt-right” and “neoreactionary” might be new, but the feelings aren’t. And white nationalists aren’t the type to take their swastikas and go home if they don’t put Der Fuhrer in the White House this November. If anything, they’ll be even angrier than normal. There’s a reason Jamelle Bouie sounds so worried when he says Trump has crossed “one of the brightest lines in American politics, the one that deals directly with our tradition of peaceful transfer of power.”[2] Dara Lind put it even more bluntly: “You don’t have to believe that Donald Trump is deliberately trying to undermine the foundation of American democracy to understand how dangerous this is…he’s tapping into sentiments too powerful for him to control.”[3]

It’s the hottest summer on record. The presidential candidates are the most disliked in history. From a numbers standpoint, this is an extraordinarily interesting time.

Just this once, I’d like it to be a little bit more boring.

8.3.16

Apophenia: the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns in random data.

The ability to perceive patterns is a useful evolutionary tool, especially when you’re stumping through a jungle trying not to get eaten by a leopard. But there is so much more data these days. We cannot help but try and slot it into some sort of meaning. Most of the time, it’s benign.

But then you get a situation where you’re reading about Der Fuhrer at 6 in the morning, pondering a series of tweets by a former nuclear strategist about the potential for Trump to destabilize 60 years of geopolitical policy[4]. Your eyes skate over the phrase “Nuclear deterrence is about balance” just as you hear “possibly World War Three, a nuclear end” playing through your speakers[5].

Your blood runs cold. You’re trying to crunch the numbers and figure out the odds. As you realize the number of things that had to happen exactly in order for you to read those words while that song played, you start to itch. When you notice the playlist was on random, it gets even worse. If you had started reading two seconds earlier, or later, or if you had been a little bit slower in reading that article…

I don’t know what it means, obviously, but only a blind man would miss the evidence of a larger pattern. In the past, I have taken this kind of event to mean I’m on the “right track,” the idea being that, if every choice in my life has led to this moment, the presence of an extraordinarily unlikely coincidence is a sign that this moment was Supposed To Happen.

Nate Argentum would, of course, caution me to be skeptical. After all, the odds of this happening to me are astronomical; but there are a few billion of us here, and the odds of it happening to somebody are pretty high. But that’s a small comfort when Teflon Don’s involved, and less so when it concerns the possibility of Nuclear Armageddon, an even uglier possibility than the GESC.

It does not do to dwell on things beyond our control. Things to dwell on instead:

  1. My recent introduction to a man named Nathan Wilson, Director for Gary Johnson’s campaign in Georgia. A breathlessly excited, yet bare-bones communiqué exhorting my assistance in electing his long-shot candidate.
  2. This cup of steaming turmeric-ginger tea, recommended to me by John Tesh, the Smartest Man In America, who endorses its anti-inflammatory properties. My joints feel better already.

Selah.

8.6.16

Oh, good morning! And what tragedies shall we read today?

Unnecessarily harsh, perhaps. My life, at this precise moment in time and space, is unquestionably good. I’m listening to a particularly fresh song with a funky break[6], I’ve got a cup full of coffee and a splash of off-brand Irish cream liqueur, and there are two Pepperidge Farm shortbread cookies beside this trundling laptop. I don’t suppose I have the right to complain about much.

Thus, I’ll complain about something else.

8.7.16

Suicide Squad was not the film I wanted it to be. I am not surprised by that—I knew that was never an option. But the film I wanted it to be is somewhere inside the film that I actually saw, and that makes an analysis difficult.

The general consensus is that Smith, Robbie, and Davis are the standouts, and I’ll agree to a point—I actually found Robbie a little inconsistent, with her “Mistah J” accent slipping just often enough for me to notice whenever it made an appearance. In fact, I thought it was a generally well-acted film, at least whenever the characters were allowed to do anything other than glower and pose.

The characters were always going to be the make or break, and there are just too many. For an ensemble movie like Suicide Squad that was always going to be the case. But even so, the movie could have done better. It tries to do so much, and even it has no idea what it’s doing. Yes, Slipknot was introduced solely to demonstrate the efficacy of the neck bombs, but could he have been introduced with the rest of the team? What was the point of Katana, anyway? What service did she provide?

David Ayer wrote and directed this film, but you wouldn’t know it from the inconsistent tone and frankly baffling editing choices. This film stinks of studio interference, repeating and retreading scenes and introductions. There are no clear stakes, no clear mission. If they were sent into the city to save Waller, why have a world-ending threat in the first place? Enchantress added literally nothing to the story—she was in there to justify the formation of the team, but there wouldn’t have needed to be a team without her. What would have been wrong with a terrorist attack? Or a Joker[7] strike? Boom, two birds.

Much has been made of the soundtrack of the film, on-the-nose needle drops that bludgeon the viewer over the head with their single-entendre symbolism, 45 seconds at a time. This is the first perfect metaphor for this film—small tastes of something genuinely cool, only to whiplash into something completely different immediately.

There are two movies here, and they can be identified with their soundtracks. There is a dour, serious war film, in the vein of Saving Private Ryan or Fury, characterized by a cinematic, sweeping score. The endless (and it truly borders on self-parody the number of licensed songs this movie uses) parade of hits identifies the slick neon of the stylish heist movie that Ayer should have made, the anti-hero slugfest that we were sold on. That’s the way the movie starts—goofy fonts, bright colors, and for a second, we have hope that this was the movie they said it was going to be.

I can’t emphasize that enough. Say what you will about the apocalyptically bad Batman v. Superman, but we knew what we were getting into. The promotional materials, the trailers, even the breakfast cereal, all told us exactly what kind of movie we were about to watch. But we were told that Suicide Squad was going to be bright, violent, rude, and funny.

It is not.

Should’ve, should’ve, should’ve. There was a good idea here. A lot of good ideas, actually[8]. And the cast did the best they could with what they had. But like the sickening toxic waste fire that was Batman v. Superman, there were so many confusing decisions that all of the good ideas were completely suffocated. That’s what’s so frustrating. I can see a good (or at least entertaining) movie in here somewhere. Take out the entire Enchantress subplot, or sublimate it; June Moone is in a coma, and Amanda Waller (who possesses the magic heart) is the only one who can break her out of her spell. There you go, that’s why Flagg (who should have been wearing a yellow shirt) has to participate.

Open on Deadshot’s first assassination. Cut out the dinner scene, have the dossier be read at the DoD meeting. Massive chemical attack on Midway City, terrorists! Better yet, the Joker[9] (that’s why Waller sends Harley, which fits perfectly with her MO of pitting people against each other)! The Squad sent in to clean up! Katana is out. Slipknot, who is given more than a single line, still gets his head blown off, sure—that’s actually canon.

Look, that’s rough and full of holes, I know. That isn’t a perfect movie. And I know it isn’t fair for me, who has no idea what studio pressure Ayer was under, to say I could do it better. But I could have done it better.

There is a scene near the climax where Smith’s Deadshot tells the rest of the team (in reference to their mission): “We almost pulled it off despite what everybody thought. Worst part of it is they’re going to blame us for the whole thing.” That’s the second perfect metaphor for this film, the film that was supposed to be the antidote to the wretched, offensive abortion of Batman v. Superman. This was supposed to be the funny one. The one that made us excited for a shared DC Universe. And they almost pulled it off. But they failed, and now, everyone is going to blame this movie for the collapse of the Warner Brother’s tentpole.

8.8.16

The Olympics started without any major catastrophe, as far as I can tell; I’ve watched but a little. I spent an agreeable evening with some charming company marveling at the physical specimens in the Men’s Gymnastics and the feats of strength on display there, but since then, I’ve been content to allow the global news media to keep me informed of the most recent events.

Of some importance: Michael Phelps, who is a mutant, has won his 19th gold medal. I offer him sincere congratulations, and not only because I fear that he could catch, kill, and eat me if his daily caloric intake got too low.

I’m not suggesting that Michael Phelps is a cannibal. I’m just saying that if there was a fat baby swimming at one end of a pool and a hungry Michael Phelps on the other end, nobody would be surprised at the outcome.

Sweet Jesus…that’s too dark. Why would I want to think about Michael Phelps eating a baby? And why do I keep thinking about it. Best to move on…

Suicide Squad made $135 million in its opening weekend, making it the biggest opening ever for an August movie[10]. On the one hand, this distresses me; on the other hand, it makes me feel a little bit better for not buying a ticket to Bad Moms before sneaking into the other screen. When you’re up against $135 million, another $7.25 doesn’t really make a difference.

We’ll see, of course, how this, if it does, change the upcoming slate of DC movies. There’s a distinct possibility (at least even; I wonder what Nate Argentum would say?) that Wonder Woman will be just as dire and awful as the last two, and a higher chance that the Snyder-helmed Justice League will be worse. And we’ll keep seeing them. Will we not learn?

Of course not. That’s what Warner Bros, et al, is counting on.

Matter of fact, that’s what the entire political-industrial complex is counting on.

What’s the matter with me this morning? I just wanted to write about Gold Medals and box office totals, not cannibalism and overarching conspiracies. There must be something inside that’s trying to get out, but I’ve known that for a while. If the purpose of this exercise is to explore myself through a kind of stream-of-consciousness pseudo-Gonzo spiritual channeling, then I would say that the depths are being plumbed.

Nothing to be done. Just follow the little bob down into those black waters, see how far down it goes. Maybe drop a net down there—who knows what you might drag back up? Of course, it might not be pretty.

Those blind fish don’t last too long once you pull them into the light. Some things are better off in the dark.

8.11.16

Personal trainers hate him! shrilled the advertisement.

Of course they do, I thought. The man has an untrustworthy brow. He looks like he should be selling body parts out of a Camry, not trying to convince me that “one weird trick” will give me six-pack abs.

Stuff, nonsense, and balderdash. The only thing any advertisement is actually selling is the idea that your life, as it is now, is not only imperfect, it is Criminally Damaged, and you should be taken off of the street for your safety and the safety of others. But for a small fee, your life can be Perfect! Children will marvel at you, and desirable mates will travel from miles around to attempt to procreate with you, so that your genes may be spread into the little tide pool that is humanity.

Never mind all that. I do not need anyone to tell me how to live my life. I do not think my life is barely within my control; I know it. However blessed I may be, and blessed I am, beyond any conceptions of what I might possibly ever deserve, I grasp with steady fingers the Truth: that I am caught in a violent, disequilibrium that results whenever the Pressures are out of balance. This state, of course, is Entropy, and it takes many forms.

I have spoken about Pressure, and my belief in its fundamental properties. Like the Ancients believed in the Four Humors, or how the modern Men of Science believe in the Four Universal Forces, I believe in Pressure. It is obvious that my system is superior, because it is leaner, and you only have to remember one term instead of four[11].

We seek equilibrium in all things, I think. When the Pressure inside matches that without, we are at peace; in balanced. When the balance is off, we begin a spiral towards Entropy. We are always travelling in that direction, but adequate Pressure arrests the process. Entropy, we know from Science, takes many forms for many men and at many times; rage, despair, gloom, hopelessness, doom, fury. I have no interest at this point in a full emotional taxonomy, even though categorization is one of the Nerd’s favorite activities. I cannot find it in myself to care right now.

As for Hated Man earlier, I do not need his tricks. My exercise routine is adapted from Russian prisons and circuses, which is why I can bend nails between my hands and withstand sledgehammer blows to my abdomen. For breakfast, I eat flesh, or, failing that, a handful of protein-rich crickets; before bed, I always swallow a teaspoon of turmeric. This regimen has made me strong and pure in body, mind, and spirit. I have been cleansed of all sugar alcohols and Unclean Spirits since the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen.

I am, after all, a Professional. And we must hold ourselves to a Higher Standard.

8.14.16

Ruminations:

Stranger Things, which I have decided to call Freaks and Peaks, was good! I have little to say beyond what has already been communicated in the rest of the entertainment blogosphere, save to say that I wish those kids the best of luck in their personal and professional lives. It is not easy to see 11-year-olds with more talent than a barely-employed 26-year-old drunk in his underwear, but I have no hard feelings. We all have our own bag of stones to carry.

Words like “Fancy Bear” and “Guccifer 2.0” are appearing with alarming frequency in the news media these days. I have resumed my investigation into cybersecurity certification programs; War 2.0 isn’t coming, it is already here, and we have a lot of catching up to do. Scrubbing toilets might be a recession-proof job, but it will not be in very high demand if the Commies hack our planes into crashing into our power plants.

I know that, as a Standard Bearer for Tolerance and Progressivism, I should direct extraordinarily enthusiastic energies in the direction of any commentator who chooses to address gis identity politics, but I cannot help but get so, so tired of it. It would be so easy, I think, to fall into the mindset of the Conservative, to assume my life experience is universal, and that therefore words like “genderqueer” and the debate between “Hispanic” and “Latino” were just meaningless whining little belches. Look, I get it—for somebody lucky enough to be born a white cisgender dude, labels do not have a lot of power or necessity, and if you are in a historically marginalized group, your label is far more important. But cazart, guys! My eyes have begun to roll.

This worries me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which it seems to be the mindset of the average Teflon Don supporter. I strive for inclusivity, and I try to do everything right. I read Jezebel; I watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; I love Rat Queens and Kevin Keller; I think Gamergaters are toxic mouthbreathers. But every now and then (more and more frequently, which is distressing), I find myself groaning every time I read a headline about transgender rights. It’s not that I agree with the little trolls who think they are under attack from some sinister SJW agenda; I just want to read about something else every now and then.

Poorly explained. Perhaps this: As a wise man said, “Everyone hurts, I say. You don’t hurt more than anyone else, and enduring your daily pain doesn’t make you special, it makes you a participant in the same game we’re all playing.” Deep down (closer to the surface, these days), I cannot escape the feeling that everybody should just shut up and stop pretending that their gender identity makes them special.

Then again, as someone whose gender identity makes them as unremarkable as possible, maybe it is just jealousy on my part. Maybe I would like, for once, the opportunity for the world to reward me just for being who I am.

Seems like cheap pop, to me.

8.15.16

By the cruel standards of human history, the last few decades have been uncommonly serene. It is looking less and less likely that we will one day be able to say the same thing of the next few decades. Radical change seems to lurk just around the corner. The question is no longer whether we can preserve our political order in its current form. (We probably can’t.) It is what reforms are needed to ensure that the precious, fragile combination of liberalism and democracy does not entirely vanish from the face of the earth. If the center is to hold—if we are to rescue what is best about our imperfect political order—a lot will have to change. –Yashca Mounk, “The Week Democracy Died”

Jesus. That’s no way to start a morning. Mounk’s Revelatory vision of tomorrow’s Armageddon is a compelling read, full of bone-chilling little nuggets like that…it is as clear a warning about The World That’s Coming as any InfoWars rant. Even if we survive this election, “The Week Democracy Died” is going to be held up as a classic of popular political thought, up there with Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ’72.

Speaking of the Good Doctor, we find ourselves in a similar case with this election, with Johnson taking the place of the long-shot McGovern. Minus the major party’s nomination, of course, but I’m more interested in what Thompson has to say about voting:

How many more of these G-ddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame but “regrettably necessary” holding actions? And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils…Now with another one of these bogus showdowns looming down on us, I can already pick up the stench of another bummer. I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing, this year, is Beating Nixon. But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago, in 1960—and as far as I can tell, we’ve gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same[12].

I do not want to speculate as to what the Good Doctor would have thought about Governor Johnson. But I would like to think that he would have the same opinion about the outmoded and vestigial concept of the “wasted vote” as Johnson and Weld do—that is to say, that the only wasted vote is one that is cast against your principles or compromises your values. When you plunder your ideals for the “lesser of two evils,” then you have wasted your vote.

8.15.16

Yes, we’re on the same day. The Madness is upon me.

There’s a peculiar melancholy, I think, that comes from the synthesis of Zen Pencils[13], Bob Dylan[14], and bourbon & Coke at 1700 on a Monday. You’re not in that spot if everything is going great.

Or maybe that’s how you know you’ve made it? Who knows. Selah.

A certain bit of televised entertainment has been made available on a subscription-based streaming service, and I intend to inject it directly into my brainstem until I fall unconscious. I recognize that this is not necessarily a Healthy Choice, but we’re in those psychic Horse Latitudes that make actions like this necessary.

I have not started the process of ingesting distilled comedy yet, as evidenced by the fact that I am trying to pound out five hundred words for my vengeful and demanding editor. Truth be told, I would prefer some protein before I started my descent into very passive hedonism, but I recognize that mixing carbonated sugar water with whiskey is going to be a massive calorie dump. At this point, it is less of a question of whether or not I will plunder the stash of chocolates I have stored in the Bunker for barter purposes post-GESC, but at what point.

But never mind all that. If I decide that tonight I will drink until I cannot stand up and eat miniature Hershey bars until I cannot fit in my trousers, what of it? We all need to cut loose once in a while. I do get the sense, however, that much of the internal tension between my desire to fill the Emptiness within me with sugar and processed carbohydrates and the complete disgust with which I look upon my own body could be solved by something called “Body Positivity.”

Irrelevant, I say. I could not care less about how I look. But I feel like some kind of greasy, flabby worm. One of the ugly ones, naturally, deemed unfit to be used for bait in the more upscale fishing spots. Something pale, growing in the dark, feeding off corpses, blindly gorging itself. Of course, I couple this with my natural tendency toward Entropy, which obviously means I get less exercise than fatted calves. Calfs? Who knows.

Ugly ducklings turn into swans. Caterpillars turn into butterflies. But maggots turn into flies. I think I am past the duckling stage, and I do not have the legs to be a caterpillar. The only question now is how far along I am in the life cycle. Maggots have a pretty easy life, but the life of a fly is quick, and fraught with danger.

8.16.16

We got pretty close to some frank self-evaluation yesterday. My Editors cornered me in a stock room and threatened me with pieces of sharpened bone[15] until I promised I would never do it again.

So be it. Something more uplifting, perhaps? How about the fact that there will be a 20th Anniversary Celebration of Homestar Runner in Atlanta on the same weekend of Dragon*Con? As in, whilst I will be in Atlanta? I am tentatively vibrating with excitement. In fact, when I read the news, I collapsed and began to seize so violently that I bit off the finger of one of the interns who attempted to subdue me[16]. I refused to apologize then, and I will not now; I am not sorry for my actions. My excitement was justified. Besides, who needs ten fingers?

Paranoia: a thought process thought to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion or irrationality. From the Greek παράνοια (“madness”), and that from παρά (“beside,” “by”) and νόος (“mind”).

I do think it is crucial to mention that nowhere does that definition say that paranoid thoughts are necessarily wrong; that is to say, it is not the case that paranoia, by definition, involves false feelings of persecution, etc. Put a third way: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

I mention this only to say that, yes, I would consider myself paranoid—I am not stupid. I know that it is not considered “normal” or “proper” to worry about the ways in which a Bad Actor on the federal level could erode Fourth Amendment protections, or to be convinced, into the marrow of my bones, that my activities online are being tracked, logged, and sorted in some NSA database in Fort Meade. I would, however, push back against the idea that such fears are irrational, if only because we live in a truly irrational world.

For proof, you may read the previous 18,000 words. I invite you to draw your own conclusions.

I received in the United States Post yesterday a slick, glossy magazine from a certain civil rights advocacy group, one for which I have a good deal of respect. The magazine was a grim, often breathless account of hate groups springing up across the country, from neo-Nazis in California to the “sovereign citizen” movement of the Bundys. Obviously, none of it made for cheerful before-bed reading, but it did give me cause to wonder:

Those guys are clearly afraid the gummint is coming to take their guns, their land, and (presumably) their women, so they’re stockpiling ammo and gauze against that day. We call them paranoid and deluded.  So what do you call someone who stockpiles ammo and gauze against the day those guys decide they’ve had enough?

Considering I think the Oathkeepers will try to start trouble before the ATF, I would call gim “rational.”

8.18.16

Whilst scrubbing dishes at my House of Worship last night, I made a most uncomfortable realization: I assume that I will be wealthy and famous next year, and have so assumed for at least the past four years.

This is obviously troubling, not least because it is an obviously unsustainable model. After all, if you expect that everything is going to change in a few months, there’s no incentive to invest a lot of time and energy into whatever it is you have going on right now. Why would you? But it gets at a larger internal problem, which is that I seem to have a psychological inability to recognize that this is My Life, and that whilst I’m waiting for it to start, to do what I’m Meant To Do, it’s been chugging merrily along ever since I got out of college.

I have made this realization several times before, but each time I thought I had made certain course-corrections and had thus solved The Problem. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, I am starting to notice a pattern of behavior. From the Navy to seminary to the ranch, I can look back on the last four years and see, in black and white, that I have failed to make any sort of long-term commitment to My Future.

And now I don’t know what to do.

If this is true, that I secretly expect that Everything is going to change soon, then I have some difficult decisions to make. I have no idea where to start.

8.25.16

I’ve been out of pocket for the last few days, experimenting with violations of Federal law regarding prescription drugs[17]. I have come to a single, inescapable conclusion:

10mg of generic amphetamine salts have done more for me in the past couple of days than months, nay, years, of therapy.

The difference between my mood in the last few days of illegal experimentation has been incalculable. I’ve got get-up-and-go again. I don’t fall into a hopeless pit every time I start the more mundane aspects of my job[18]. Two days ago, I was summoned to a client’s house for an emergency session[19], and it went fine. I was alert, I was happy to do it, I was on in a way that I wouldn’t have been normally.

My discipline has returned as well—we all know the reputation amphetamines have for appetite suppression, but I had no idea. I stress eat (ate?), less because I was hungry and more because my depression had hollowed out a pile of my guts and nested there, and I needed something to fill that void—sugar was the first choice. Now, I get hungry, and it’s just…okay, sure. I skipped breakfast yesterday and still got done with my first job without collapsing into a puddle of tears.

The emotionality is gone. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a woman, but I imagine this is what menstruation is like, a vulnerability, a terrible emotional fragility. So often I felt like a glass figurine, delicate, shattered by even the smallest vibration.

Too early to make any sort of definitive claims, of course. I must be careful that my excitement doesn’t lead me to make any rash decisions. But I have great hopes.

10mg of speed. If that’s all it took this whole time, then I want a couple of years of my life back.

8.27.16

Last night I dreamt of blood, madness, affliction, and conspiracy.

This is normally the point at which I follow up with a joke.

The details of the dream are as unpleasant as they are unimportant. Dreams are Important, however, and the themes contained therein often help us to understand ourselves—our Angels, as my spiritual advisor the Rt. Rev. Jack Roller might say. I am not skilled in the science of dream interpretation, but the nature of this particular vision implies that I am preoccupied with firearms and the grand designs of Bad Actors.

Well, yes. I did not need to be asleep to know that.

But it is likely on the forefront of my sub/consciousness because of some research I have been doing in the last several days, long put off until know, into what is known as the “alt-right” and “Neo-reactionary” movements. I have been reluctant to really dive into these topics for any number of reasons, the biggest one being that I prefer not to engage with anti-Semites and fascists if I can help it. But I think understanding these people is important, not merely for Its Own Sake but for a certain fiction project I am working on.

My conclusions match up quite closely with what has been considered Mainstream; that the alt-right is the home of the worst of the worst, a loose collection of trolls trying to get a reaction through vile rhetoric (a group which itself contains multitudes, from post-ironic 4Channers to Gamergaters), Stormfront rejects, and the pseudo-intellectual technocrats of the NeoRx movement.

Little needs to be said about the alt-right that hasn’t already been said, but the neo-reactionaries deserve a little bit more attention, not least because—and here I invoke the Judgment-Free clause of my contract[20]they have a lot of good points.

Please do not misinterpret this: I, of course, condemn any philosophy that entertains notions of biological intelligence, as well as the half-dozen or so explicitly offensive stances of this coalition[21]. The data does not support claims that “life was better back then.” And I have no idea why the neo-reactionaries assume a Supreme Leader would not be a tyrant. That said.

Look, I recognize that I have Blind Spots in my thinking. I possess enough self-awareness to know that I am beside my mind, and that the Malthus Law[22] isn’t actually a thing. But I also believe in the Global Panopticon and all that it entails. So I am receptive to anyone who says that our freedom is really an illusion and that we are under the control of a system of self-perpetuation oppressive norms.

That scares me more than a little bit.

So when Mr. Alexander writes that

Reaction isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s not suggesting there’s a secret campaign for organized repression. To steal an example from the other side of the aisle, it’s positing something more like patriarchy. Patriarchy doesn’t have an actual Patriarch coordinating men in their efforts to keep down women. It’s just that when lots of people share some really strong cultural norms, they manage to self-organize into a kind of immune system for rejecting new ideas…[23]

The idea being, as I understand it, that if speech truly were free, you could argue for the country to go in a different direction—backwards, say. To slavery, to segregation. The fact that there is pushback against these notions is proof that we are being repressed. Thus, neo-reactionaries argue, they are not actually advocating slavery, merely pointing out the chains that are normally invisible. Presumably, when the alt-right says something racists, half of them are doing it for similar reasons (to get a shock), but the other half believes it.

I am, as I said, sensitive and receptive to any notion that status quo that has metastasized to encompass the entirety of our lives. The fact that I receive the Southern Poverty Law Center’s quarterly publication, the most recent issue of which warned against groups of people who believe this very thing, is an irony which I acknowledge. The SPLC does good work.

For a servant of the Global Panopticon, anyway.

8.29.16

Looking into the past is like catching smoke. It’s a frustrating, fruitless exercise, and it will make your eyes sting.

There used to be something else in this entry—Mr. Alexander, quoted above, responded to a rambling email I sent him. I don’t recall his exact words—the Mojo is out of the Wire right now, and I cannot access my online correspondence. It was brief, and largely unsatisfying, but I do remember being pleased that he had taken the time to answer someone who was clearly not in their right mind.

I use the past tense here because, obviously, that’s not what this entry is—I do not know what happened to it, nor where it could be. Vanished into the Clouds, I suppose. An offering to the Gods on the Line, the ones that slow down our connection speeds when we have failed to offer up tribute. They Give, and they Take. Selah.

[1] Mr. O’Connell has insisted that this be read as “shed-yool.” –The Editors

[2]http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/08/trump_s_rigged_comments_are_corrosive_and_dangerous.html

[3] http://www.vox.com/2016/8/2/12342600/trump-rigged-clinton-steal-election

[4] https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Co8r5IvWIAAFPiM.jpg

[5] “Underground” by The Pack a.d., off of The Funeral Mixtape

[6] “Hurricane Season,” by Trombone Shorty, off of Backatown

[7] A side note on Leto’s Joker—I am cautiously interested in seeing him in future films. There is certainly an intensity to the Joker that he captures well, although I disapprove of any pop-culture attempt to portray the Clown Prince of Crime as any kind of sexual being. In my view, the Joker is asexual, so focused on the Batman that even his physical needs are completely sublimated.

[8] In the same way the cinematic terrorist attack that was Batman v. Superman offered an intriguing, startlingly more human Batman than we had ever seen; in the same way that it asked questions about Superman’s role in a political world; in the same way that…no that’s about it, actually.

[9] Who, let us never forget, got far, far, far more promotion than Enchantress did—I would go so far as to say that more people went to the movie to see the Joker than the Enchantress.

[10] http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/07/media/suicide-squad-box-office-opening/index.html

[11] The Four Forces theory is so low-rent that it actually expects us to believe that not only does something  called  the “Strong Nuclear Force” control the universe, but also that something so unimaginatively named can have a counterpart even more inane: the Weak Nuclear Force. At least the Humor theory had things you could sell. I knew a one-eyed fellow at the Farmer’s Market who would pay top dollar for Yellow Bile, and double for Black.

[12] Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, p41

[13] http://zenpencils.com/comic/langleav/

[14] “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964

[15] This is not true. –The Editors

[16] This is true. –The Editors

[17] This is technically True, although potentially inaccurate; as usually, Truth and Reality are divided.

[18] All of which are classified.

[19] Also classified—all I will say is, you know how the Commies didn’t invade two days ago? You’re welcome.

[20] Mr. O’Connell’s contract specifies that no member of the Editorial Board is allowed to judge him, harshly or otherwise, for the content of his articles. Our attorneys have pointed out that this clause only involves public comments, which means we are legally permitted to judge Mr. Hardy in private. Which we do. Frequently. –The Editors

[21] See below for a possible explanation.

[22] “Any person of a certain intelligence, when attempting to construct a solution for the World’s Problems, will eventually find gimself defending a rhetorical position that advocates population control.” I have discovered, after attempting to explain this law to several very intelligent people, that, no, I’m alone in it, and I should be ashamed.

[23] http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-in-an-enormous-planet-sized-nutshell/

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