Let’s have a talk

Now that another muslim has committed yet another act of terrorism, we rush to remind everyone that islamophobia is the true threat. And toxic masculinity. And hate and ignorance. Hateful, ignorant, toxically masculine islamophobes are blowing themselves up and shooting people at concerts and nightclubs all over the world. That’s what’s happening, right?

Rash Facebook posts from your idiot cousin are more vile and offensive than murdering people for a delusion. Bemoaning the bigotry of your family is a more noble task than criticizing filthy, maniacal warlords hellbent on your enslavement or destruction.

Muslim terrorists only kill innocent people because rednecks provoke them. In our hateful ignorance, we ignorantly fail to understand their rich, vibrant culture of submission to brutal, intolerant patriarchs. Our patriarchy is far more insidious, what with women voting and working and living independently according to their own choices. We sometimes have billboards with thin, healthy women on them and that makes fat people feel bad, so we deserve death.

Every time a brown or black person commits a crime, it’s the white man who should be tried. Let’s begin a dialogue on toxic masculinity. By dialogue we mean haughty, self righteous, florid condemnation of a caricature of what it means to be a man.

We mean that women will have free reign to be scathing, critical, sweeping and dismissive, and men are only allowed to speak if they shame themselves.

There’s a nebulous concept that floats around befogging the minds of men, driving them to kill and rape. They watched too much television, saw one too many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in their youth. Somehow they drank up the sweet effervescent message that it’s okay to kill and rape to get what you want. That’s what masculinity is all about. It’s toxic.

Men are angry, they are ignorant, they are intolerant of the other, they ignorantly and hatefully kill and rape because of toxic masculinity and the patriarchy and heteronormative capitalist hegemony.  We need more precious dialogues on toxic masculinity. We need to ban guns, sharp, pointy objects and clenched fists. Let’s stage public neutering events, where men renounce their toxic masculinity, their hatred and ignorance, and then smash their own testicles with a hammer.

Masculinity is responsible for everything that’s wrong with the world. This statement requires no further thought. It needs no correction or nuance. Men only kill and rape and hate and ignore with their toxic masculinity. They certainly don’t build, invent, defend, or advance civilization in any positive way. Technology, science, art, philosophy, politics, law, the comforts of modern life, comedy, entertainment; none of this is in any way also connected to or following from masculinity.

The drive to create is also the drive to destroy. Men are a threat, yes, but they are also the only defense against that threat. Muslim extremists aren’t going to enter into a dialogue with us about toxic masculinity. To them, their masculinity isn’t toxic or hateful or intolerant. It’s righteous, it’s ordained by Allah. You think that men inspired by divine commandment to conquer the world are going to put down their weapons and respectfully listen to what decadent western women, gays, and other minorities have to say?

Who in the fuck is going to actually defend the weak and feckless from the barbarians? It will be men, men who stand for civilization and freedom and art and self expression, for making life on earth a place of human flourishing rather than a squalid, despotic hellhole.

Masculinity is only toxic if it isn’t shaped and directed the right way. And hatred, by itself, abstracted, isn’t the problem. Hatred is a useful, powerful emotion. Hatred is a natural reaction to whatever threatens to destroy you. People who speak out against hatred in the broadest possible terms are full of it themselves. What they really mean is that it’s only okay to hate certain groups of people and not others.

And it’s true. Some people are more worthy of hatred than others. Now the real dialogue is who is worthy of that hatred, and how will the power of masculinity be harnessed.  Will it be used to defend free civilization against its enemies, or to dismantle itself and wait for the horde to crush everything we love and believe in?

Irritating people in cafes

Reading a biography of Arthur Schopenhauer. He painted the world in shades of misery, but he suffered most from himself. His biting intelligence, monstrous pride and paranoia created a philosophy of acerbic denial, elegant justification for his contemptuous conduct. He wrote beautifully of non-attachment while maintaining a grim death grip on his talents, inherited wealth and habits.

The translation of the biography is stiff and clunky, unintentionally comical at times. Worth reading for the subject and those moments when the phrasing gets goofy. I like how Artie would hang out in cafes and annoy the shit out of people. A disagreeable person to the bitter end, but redeemable because of his wit and style. He has my vote for smoothest style of any philosopher. Nietzsche is more theatrical, more bombastic and thunderous, but Schopie knew how to make the pen glide. He would skate across the page.

I cherish his mockery of conceptual effrontery. He railed against the verbal excesses and pretensions of the philosophical spirit of his age. In a time when philosophy celebrated history, progress, human freedom and rationality, Schopenhauer exposed the dark, violent, irrational core of existence. There was no benevolent world spirit guiding the course of history, only a blind, senseless, eternally suffering and purposelessly striving will behind the world of representation and individuality.

There is no transcendence. No escape. There is only the clarity of understanding. The subject of knowing suspends the will in the realization that life is meaningless. The turmoil of clashing, illusory individuals gives way to the peace of comprehension. Did Schopenhauer ever feel that peace, did he ever know within himself the saintly calm that he put forth as an ideal? Or was he, like most of us, at war with himself and the world as he toiled to satisfy his vain desires?