Monday, December 31, 2007

Senescente mundo



A few hours left in 2007. I am awaiting the arrival of company. I am ensconced on my couch, glass of port and cigar and cheddar by my side, soft lighting, warmth, listening to Baroque music.

Why is there something, rather than nothing?

That there is anything at all, much less ourselves...

The Book of Genesis describes Elohim calling things into being and over six days the basics of the world were made. Hard work. He had to take the Seventh Day off.

Now our scientists tell us that in fact the universe is about 15 billion years old and that it exploded into being from a speck of "infinitely" dense something smaller than an atom. Thus were space and time born.

Of course, I want to know what was going on 15 billion and 1 years ago. How did that speck get there?

And the implication of this theory is that what makes me up, and you, matter and energy wise, was also present somehow in that speck.

It was Pliny, I believe, who used the phrase "senescente mundo homines et senescunt", "the world having grown old, men grow old as well." I'm sure he had no idea how.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cracks in the Anglosphere


The Orwellian nannyism of the British state reaches new depths, with its uberVictorian passion for surveillance and control for the sake of safety and protection: spy cameras --of which Britain is full-- will catch drivers who use cell phones, eat or smoke! in their vehicles. Sanctions start with fines but could get you two years in prison. Do these people have no pride left at all?




And in Canada, my second country, the same corrupting drive shows up in the "Human Rights Commissions", with unelected lefty bureaucrats eating away at free speech under highminded motives of protecting the egos , ahem, rights of designated victim groups not to be criticized harassed. Mark Steyn's case. HRC delenda est!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Pen and the Sword


With thanks to Kevin Slaughter of Scapegoat Press ("Blame Us.), who posted a form of this review from The Weekly Standard at the Fraternal Order of Androphiles. What a tangled web. My intemperate "reflections" follow it.

The Write Stuff
The hunger for literature among student officers.
by Mark Bauerlein
12/24/2007, Volume 013, Issue 15

Soldier's Heart
Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point
by Elizabeth D. Samet
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 pp., $23

In Patton, the 1970 film, one of the intriguing traits of the general as played by George C. Scott unfolds not in front of that mammoth American flag, or at a party with a lumpish Red Army general, but on a quiet grassy lane in the hills of Tunisia. On a somber afternoon during the North Africa campaign, Patton directs his jeep onto a knoll dotted with ruins, then steps down to resurrect an ancient scene to Omar Bradley (played by Karl Malden) as trumpets echo in the distance.

"It was here," Patton says. "The battlefield was here." He means the Battle of Zama, where in 202 B.C. Roman legions under Scipio routed Hannibal's Carthaginians and ended the Second Punic War.

"I was there," Patton mutters before reciting lines of his own creation on "the pomp and toils of war . . . the age-old strife . . . when I fought in many guises and many names."

The scene borders on kitsch, but Patton's historical sense and literary voice save it. They signify, too, a larger point. In the midst of a major military action, Patton still feels the presence of the past and resorts to poetry to express it. For him, the finer arts complement the martial arts, the general and the humanist are one.

In Soldier's Heart, Elizabeth Samet's memoir of 10 years teaching English at West Point, Patton is, she remarks, a favorite of the cadets, and the same combination happens over and over. She arrived in 1997, a fresh Ph.D. from Yale (Harvard B.A., an all-girls prep school in Boston before that), uncertain how she might fit in. Straight off she saw that "a West Point class is not the gung-ho, red-state monolith an outsider might expect." Cadets come from all regions, income groups, and ideologies--some carrying on a family tradition of service, some whose parents protested the Vietnam war. Most of all, belying the Rambo stereotype, they like novels and poems and plays. In class they read The Iliad, Beowulf, War and Peace, World War I poetry, and also Pope's Essay on Man, Dickens's Bleak House, Matthew Arnold's "Literature and Science," the curious lyrics of Wallace Stevens, Diderot's plan for the Encyclopédie.

Out of class, they keep at it. Lieutenants in Iraq who took her course three years earlier write back to ask about her current syllabus. Another stationed in Korea tells her, "Someone once told me that 'the most important book you will ever read is the first one after your graduation.' I wish I could remember what it was--I have done more reading since graduation than I would have ever thought possible." Still another writes from Mosul, "I have been rolling through books here at a pretty steady clip," and when he returns to the States, he reports, guiltily, that his reading has slipped.

Samet attributes these young people's literary fervor precisely to their combat future. While freshmen down in Manhattan at Columbia and NYU think about jobs and paychecks they'll secure after graduation, and hook-ups they make before it, cadets have a rigorous regimented existence in class and out, and they know they will assume command of 30 men and women when it's over, probably in a hot zone. The prospect throws them into hard questions of life and death, duty and sacrifice, courage and leadership, and they probe great works to figure them out. Samet's chapters ramble from episode to episode, sprinkling reflections on the war on terror, Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, and her own frequent place as "the Only Woman in the Room" (a chapter title), but the plebe readers are what hold the book together.

All of them, Samet included, "feel a palpable pressure to consider every moment's practical and moral weight." The pressure magnifies the import of Macbeth contemplating the murder of Duncan, Penelope waiting for her husband, Stevens's "Oh! Blessed rage for order"--Samet doesn't have to convince them to respect Shakespeare, Homer, and the rest. The war has done that already.

To anyone who teaches English elsewhere, the enthusiasm is wondrous. One semester, a trio of plebes won't let her alone: "Around whatever corner we met, we would immediately resume discussion about a point left unfinished in class, about the books they were reading." Compare them to students in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), a massive annual study of college kids. Asked in 2006 how often they talk to their professors outside of class, fully 43 percent of first-year students answered "Never," while 39 percent gave a middling "Sometimes." While Samet's students beg her to recommend books, when NSSE asked freshmen how many books they had read on their own in the previous year, 24 percent answered "None" while 55 percent opened a measly one-to-four.

So much for the anti-intellectualism of military cadets. Many other myths about them, too, explode in Samet's portraits. When she gets the job at West Point, a Yale professor informs her, "You'll humanize them." But when she thinks back upon her Harvard/Yale years, she finds them an induction into "doubt and disenchantment," whereas "West Point won me back to a kind of idealism." She finds little sexism in the place, either: "Being a woman is immaterial to many of my colleagues." And while the 1960s counterculture "helped to make the American soldier come to seem a rather strange and exotic creature to many civilians: an anachronistic conformist," Samet encounters "outrageous, uncompromising individuals" and "arch-rebels," and alumni remain "concerned that cadets' minds be exercised with sufficient vigor."

How far the literary virtues of West Pointers extend through the armed forces is an open question, but the institutional commitment to books runs deep. During World War II, for instance, the Army distributed more than 100 million volumes to the troops. Samet's father remembers the Armed Services Editions, pocket-sized paperbacks of classics and potboilers ranging from Zane Grey to Edna St. Vincent Millay. Today, the Army Library Program maintains kiosks in Iraq, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, along with more than 125 libraries on bases around the world.

The commitment goes back to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who authorized the founding of the United States Military Academy in 1802. Samet quotes Adams on one rationale: "I was too well informed that most of the officers [in the Army] were deficient in reading: and I wished to turn the Minds of such as were capable of it, to that great Source of Information." Jefferson thought the officers of the time inclined to aristocracy, and he hoped the curriculum would instruct them in republican principles. Both of them would agree with the British general William Francis Butler, whose summary opinion about the education of soldiers Samet quotes approvingly:

The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.

This explains why the West Point years have affected Samet so deeply. She pledges to cross that line of demarcation, and while her colleagues at Ivies and state universities ponder at length their role as teachers in a post-9/11 world (always an adversarial role), Samet and West Point have had to act on that question daily from September 12 onward, and they've produced an ironic outcome. Literature, history, and philosophy matter, and they do so less to students and teachers in the cozy quads of the college campus, ensconced in libraries and symposia, than they do to bedraggled, bored, and anxious officers sweating it out in the desert.

Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory, is the author, most recently, of Negrophobia: A Race Riot in Atlanta, 1906.



USMaleSF, profesor of nothing in particular, is author of a lot of this and that, most recently this followup rant:

This book intrigues me. I have read some other reviews, mostly from typical mainstream media, most of whom are looking for ways to ignore her deep respect for these guys and turn her into one more schoolmarm for the "mission civiliatrice" amongst the violent, testosterone-infected thugs of the army. Not sure if I wanna shell out the cash to buy it yet. But this does provide an excuse for a rant! So all is not lost.

Although the all-volunteer military strikes me as a great stroke of genius, one of its downsides is that it allows the Boomer elite...my own people, unfortunately...to live lives in which they have never met a single soldier and don't know anyone who knows one. Consequently, with the pacifist hippy bilge which killed off so many of their braincells in the sixties, along with all the dope, they are free to indulge in contemptible fantasies and rank class snobbery about the American military. They know jack.

Part of my re-education as a righty was to inform myself about the state of the US soldier, sailor, etc. Not only, did I discover, that the military is the most thoroughly and successfully racially integrated sector of our country, but that, contrary to some dipwad bookstore clerk's opinion (not to mention Jean de Kerry), they can actually read and write and think. And the number of graduate degrees among the officers is amazing. To say nothing of the brains and skill and uncommon integrity and initiative among the grunts.

I will plead guilty to some idealization, for reasons obvious both to me and my shrink. But the post-Vietnam stereotype of the soldier as either a war criminal or a pathetic victim is just bullshit. Pure bullshit.

I know two military guys only. Both gay men, emphasis on the last syllable. One's dealing with the catastrophic effects of an IED; he's a writer who can range from raunch to philosophical speculation to an ambush passage combining wonder and attention that takes your breath away. The other's been out of the Corp for years, but he'll always be a Marine. He is edgy and thoroughly intimidating to most people just on first sighting. (One of the reasons he likes me is that he yelled at me when we first met and I didn't run). But this guy could give you a course on classical music, modern literature, as well as guns, motorcycles and proper knifing technique. When he got jailed for taking on a meth-freak who was beating a dog, he whiled away the time in the tank by recounting "Of Mice and Men" to his fellow inmates.

I recently wrote him about some man trouble I'm having. What came back was a combination of profanity and humor, Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry, some theological reflections on love and awe, and a promise to keep watch with me "however it fooken plays out".

Part of what burns my aging ass about the contempt in which soldiers are held by the high-minded keepers of our kulchur is that it is of a piece with their contempt for men. Regardless of gender, so many of the soon-to-be-decrepit Flower Children hate manhood in all its classical forms while they congratulate their whiny privileged selves about their higher consciousness and evolved whateverthefuck, when they spend most of their lives living in a cartoon.

Most of them don't have the right to breathe, compared to my two friends: men, real men, who, omigod, can read.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Saint Joseph Holding His Foster-Child

In my post the other day, I noted that part of being a man was recognizing that there are better men than you, recognizing and honoring them, and taking your proper place in regard to them.

And it is Christmas, which I love...along with the now-ending weeks of Advent, which I like even more.

And it was recently pointed out to me by a new friend that beneath my wit and brain, I have a sentimental streak.

Christmas usually emphasizes the Mother and the Son. Perhaps it is the season of my own soul, with my own father's life so visibly diminishing, that makes this Christmas story more about the Father and the Son. St. Joseph, the foster-father, usually in the background, stands out for me today.

So, combining the above items, at Christmas, I offer a link to a story about a man who is far and away my superior, and one which brought tears to my eyes.

Saving Ala'a.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Randomania








James Roday (above left), as Shawn Spencer on Psych. I love this guy. I wish I WERE this guy. Not really, but kinda. He makes me laugh. I like guys who make me laugh.


Man I've been seeing, an English prof. Wrote me an email that sounded sort of old-fashioned to me. I reply: "I bet you're the kind of man who would still use the subjunctive mood to describe conditions contrary to fact." His comeback: "If I were that kind of man, I would use the subjunctive with you!"

I find this very erotic.

Tried a private vintage bottle of red wine given me as a gift by a colleague. The soles of my feet got all tingly and then I fell asleep for two hours.

Thanks to the Discovery Channel, I know know that in addition to ancient Egypt and Babylon, there was a great Hittite Empire in Anatolia, peopled by IndoEuropeans. At the height of its power, it dissolved in an instant due to...civil strife. How many civilizations commit suicide?

Because Islam is a religion, and a Third World religion, it gets a pass from the Left, both the religious and the irreligious Left. What if Marxism, instead of being atheistic, had been a form of theism, with Marx as its prophet. Would that have made it less evil, less lethal?

Part of being a man is recognizing that there are better men than you, honoring them for it, and taking your proper place in relation to them.

An unexpected pleasure of my middle...ok, late middle...years is flirting. It can be quite intense...there's a shower-at-the-gym story there...or ad hoc and one-time. But it's very playful. Lots of laughing and smiling. Something people may not imagine among gay men.

I have a friend, a fine man whose friendship honors me, who hates the bitter dogmatists.
When he talks about them, he becomes bitter and dogmatic.

I wish I had a dog. His name would be Billy.

I like the pleasure of my own company of an evening, a cigar, a glass of vino or brandy, the comfort of my living room couch, a couple of good TV programs, and no one to bother me.

I find myself missing human company more than I used to and enjoying it more when I have it.

I live in a city where a whole range of natural and common human reactions are considered beyond the pale. Progressives are so repressed.

A friend told me about the Christmas gifts for his partner: a full CD set of the songs of Noel Coward...and a new set of leather stirrups for their sling. How gay is that?!

I have changed quite a lot, much for the better, in the last few years. Folks who know me tell me this. But some of my deepest character flaws remain and grow even more intractable.

I didn't eat enough avocados this year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ah...

Andrew Sullivan was once an important voice to me, when I first found myself a gay Righty. But I have not paid attention to anything he's said for some years now. He was a big let-down for me.

I just discovered, some months late, that he married his boyfriend Aaron last September in Massachusetts. I can say this, at least, for Andrew, that he has most excellent taste in men. I wish them both the best.

PS (Andrew is the shorter one).


Couldn't resist!

Cracks


The Discovery Channel has a series, Last One Standing, where a group of Western athletes participate in the fights and ordeals of various tribal cultures.

Today, as part of an Andean Indian event where they have to race up a mountain and carry down chunks of ice, each participant must get ass-whipped three times as an offering to the mountain god before heading up there. Most of the guys went thru it. Two refused.

One of them is an American black guy who could not get over the associations with slavery. I'm not in his skin, but it seems to me that the very fact that he was an unquestioned and valued part of this project and that everyone undergoes it as a religious rite makes it very different, indeed, the opposite of subjugation. One of the other white guys, who'd already been whipped, even offered to engage in a (second) mutual whipping with him, both of them standing up, just so he could remain part of the group. But he couldn't get past it.

And the Indian shaman or coach or whatever, in a stunning display of ethnic arrogance and total lack of respect for or sympathy with other peoples' cultural meanings, simply said, No whipping, no participation, no exceptions. You're out.

The other is a white guy who is a vegan...and who refused to participate because, get this, he refused to participate in "violence". This whole series is a celebration of tribal forms of institutionalized male violence!

Both these guys will get a kind of a pass. The black guy for sure. And the vegan, well, people told him that he had to stick with his convictions, no matter what.

I just wonder what would have been the response if one of the Western athletes were a Jew or a Christian who took seriously their religions' proscription against worshipping false gods and refused the whipping because it was an offering to an idol. I bet that they would be criticized for their lack of multicultural respect.

And no one dared to critique the ethnocentric and fundamentalist Indian official who excluded the two Westerners.

All this in the midst of a project which appears to be an unabashed celebration of testosterone.

Cracks.

PS. I note, too, that the title of this all-male show is not "Last Man Standing", but "Last One Standing."

Dickless


Sometimes images and narratives come along which encapsulate too much.

Due to complaints by the women soldiers in the squad, a traditional Swedish marker for one of Europe's supposedly elite military groups...this is sounding funny already!...the rampant lion, had his leonine willy removed. Says volumes about Europe and what it has come to represent.

As one blogger opined, he's amazed they even allowed them to keep the sword.

Friday, December 07, 2007

No Homos In Iran...or at least, one less


The poor misunderstood Iranians, whose President was invited to Columbia University to deny that there are any homos there and then was cruelly insulted by his Jewish host, once again show the joys of multiculturalism.

Testing Religion

Joseph Smith Receiving the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon from Moroni


One of my favorite thinkers and writers, Lee Harris, zeros in on the same problem with the Romney Mormonism issue that I had mentioned : just because the Constitution forbids the state from setting up a religious test does not forbid the people from factoring in religion in their choice of a President or other office-holder. As Harris says, he is quite tolerant of Satan-worshippers in America, but might not want to elect one as President. Does this make him a bigot?

It is one of the oddities of current culture that religion is both so sacred that it cannot be debated in public and so irrelevant that it need not be debated in public. If you ask about the particular tenets of faith, you are accused of descending into theological niceties. So most people ascend into generalized vacuities. All in all, it shows that for the cultural elite, religion is actually a private vice or mind-fetish which ought to be kept behind closed doors and not spoken about in polite company. I think that pretty well defines the meaning of secularism.

PS. I would certainly vote for a Romney over a Clinton; my beef is with the limits of the discussion, not with Mitt's Mormonism. He apparently managed to govern Massachusetts without turning it into Little Zion.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

We Are Not One


Well, the English Do-Gooder who insulted the Prophet via teddybear is back home in formerly Great Britain. She is all apologies. Can you spell dhimmi?

And such luminaries as Whoopi Goldberg and her fellow feministas chide her for her cultural insensitivity. Yeah, Whoopi, those lynched black boys shoulda known not to look a white woman in the eye down there in Dixie.

Yes, we are all one happy global community, no? Deep down, we are all the same.

Well, maybe deep down we are all the same. Makes sense; same species and all.

But we don't live "deep down". We live on the surface of the planet.

And here, we are very very different. They don't call The Other "Other" for nothin'.

I have an acquaintance who has some Muslim friends. He says they are "embarassed".
Too bad. Unless they are out in force in the streets denouncing the insane barbarity
of their Ummah-mates in Sudan (those wonderful folks who brought you Darfur), then
their private embarassment is as pathetic as their whole religion.

And where are the Brits who will stand up on their hind legs and teach the Sudan
Ummah a lesson? But Britain has evaporated.

What a disappointing lot.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Pet Muhammads


Unfortunately, my TeddyBear Muhammad is out of town this week at a solidarity rally for Gillian Gibbons and my Dog Muhammad is sleeping, so I brought out my KoranReadingPig Muhammad to say hello to the Ummah.

Are your feelings hurt, Ummah?

Too bad.

If I were a Muslim and not a barbarian, I would be mortified beyond speech.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pontification


To "pontificate" is express oneself in a pompous, and usually pointless, manner. It comes from the word "pontifex", which is a Latin word for..."bishop".

Rowan Williams, current dhimmi-ish tenant of the Archbishopric of Canterbury of the hapless Anglican Communion, exemplifies.

Victor Davis Hanson clarifies.

Why don't priests stick to what they are supposed to know about and shut up about the rest?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007


Because I am a lazy man, here's a link to last year. My geographical location is different, but my attitude remains.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Constitution is Not Scripture

As someone who has actually read the document and who favors an originalist reading of it, it may sound strange to title this post as I have. Folks who have seen through the "living document" argument are often quite fanatical in their devotion to the text of our country's basic law.

What provoked my thought is a line from National Review today, an editorial about Mitt Romney's Mormonism. (I am more interested in why anyone would name a child Mitt than I am in his religion!). The NR editors wrote: "It is tempting to say that citizens should never consider a candidate’s religion when voting".

This reminds me of how the legal rules of the Constitution can be misunderstood as some kind of scriptural ethical command to the people. The Constitution is a legal text, not an American Bible.
Consequently, just because the Constitution bars the state from setting up a religious test for holding public office does NOT mean that the citizenry who vote must avoid dealing with a candidate's religion. The Constitution is limiting the power of the state, not the brains of the people.

If Johnny Jones is a Scientologist, the state may not raise the issue of his religion. He can run for office like anyone else, and if elected, hold office. But the people are the ones who theoretically hold the power and we can consider any damn thing we like, no matter whether the Constitution protects it or not. The document is there largely to limit the government precisely so that that people can make up their own minds....as they choose. So if Americans decide it is a bad idea for Johnny Jones to be elected, because Scientology is a nuthouse cult, they have every right and indeed the duty to do so.

Same for a Muslim candidate. Especially for a Muslim candidate.

And if Americans decide, for whatever reason, that it's bad to have a woman President, that's not a thought crime...yet...it's a free decision.

Again, the Constitution limits the power of the state, not the minds or values of the people. It's not revelation.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mythos


Worth reading: 12 myths about war, and the Belmont Club's response, especially the final paragraph.

  • 1. War doesn’t change anything.
  • 2. Victory is impossible today.
  • 3. Insurgencies can never be defeated.
  • 4. There’s no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems.
  • 5. When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.
  • 6. Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.
  • 7. If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we’re no better than them.
  • 8. The United States is more hated today than ever before.
  • 9. Our invasion of Iraq created our terrorist problems.
  • 10. If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own.
  • 11. It’s all Israel’s fault. Or the popular Washington corollary: “The Saudis are our friends.”
  • 12. The Middle East’s problems are all America’s fault.

As I noted the other day, the combination of moral highmindedness and self-loathing that Western liberals exhibit is quite striking.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Peacemakers


Last week I had a brief chat with two friends about gun control. Though both basically liberal, they are far more nuanced than most and think things through. One even owns guns and the other has handled them. And they put up with me.

I am against gun control for the general reason that it enlarges yet again the government's regulation of our lives, a poison that continues unabated. But there is a larger intuition behind my position. I resist gun control for the same basic reason that I favor capital punishment, the military, and corporal punishment: they all keep us in touch with the native aggression that we need to survive.

Boomer liberalism is pacifist, or virtually so. Pacifism is one of the Seven Pillars of Liberalism. In places where it is the cultural and legal ascendancy, like Britain, for example, ordinary citizens are taught over and over never to engage in physical violence. Even when their houses are being invaded. And if they do resist, it is they who are punished. People who become so estranged from the very idea of self-defense become the pawns of state power. And eventually will become the serfs or worse of any normal human civilization that understands violence as a necessary and even honorable part of life. They cannot distinguish between smacking a bratty child on the butt and murdering a clerk during a robbery. It's all "violence" and it's all "bad".

If the Boomer liberals have their way, one day Western men will not even be able to imagine defending themselves. And on this planet, that is a recipe for conquest, subjugation and extermination.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Poor West

An excerpt from Brian C. Anderson's Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents, reflecting on the West in the aftermath of the 20th century and its conjointly murderous ideologies: National Socialism and Communism. A telling reading of our plight as self-doubting, self-hating egalitarians, in conversation with French historian Jean Furet.
(Emphases mine).

“Yet, however intoxicating communism's blend of revolutionary will and pseudoscience, it inebriated as many as it did because it both grew out of and exploited two fundamental political weaknesses of the bourgeois regime.

The first weakness: liberal democracy had set loose an egalitarian spirit that it could never fully tame. The notion of the universal equality of man, which liberal democracy claims as its foundation, easily becomes subject to egalitarian overbidding. Equality constantly finds itself undermined by the freedoms that the liberal order secures. The liberty to pursue wealth, to seek to better one's condition, to create, to strive for power or achievement-all these freedoms unceasingly generate inequality, since not all people are equally gifted, equally nurtured, equally hardworking, equally lucky. Equality works in democratic capitalist societies like an imaginary horizon, forever retreating as one approaches it. Communism professed to fulfill the democratic promise of equality. Real liberty could only be the achievement of a more equal world-a world, that is, sans bourgeoisie. And if what the communists derisively called the "formal" liberties of expression and political representation had to be sacrificed in order to establish the true freedom of a classless society, well, so be it. Thus was the "egalitarian apocalypse" set in motion, as Furet observes.


The second weakness of liberal democracy is more complex, though its consequences are increasingly evident: liberal democracy's moral indeterminacy. …Furet suggests that as the "self" moves to the center of the bourgeois world, existential questions-what is man? what is the meaning of life?-become difficult to answer….

The two political weaknesses of the bourgeois order have their psychological corollaries: self-doubt and self-hatred. The bourgeois man finds himself unsettled by a guilty conscience and spiritual dissatisfaction. "Self-doubt," Furet writes, "has led to a characteristic of modern democracy probably unique in universal history, the infinite capacity to produce offspring who detest the social and political regime into which they were born - hating the very air they breathe, though they cannot survive without it and have known no other.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en


On the Eve of the Feast of All Hallows and the Celtic Night of Samhain: a festival apt for gay men and, I think, for psychotherapists...


In Memory of Sigmund Freud

W. H. Auden
But he wishes us more than this. To be free
is often to be lonely. He would unite
     the unequal moieties fractured
   by our own well-meaning sense of justice,
 
would restore to the larger the wit and will 
the smaller possesses but can only use
     for arid disputes, would give back to
   the son the mother's richness of feeling:
 
but he would have us remember most of all 
to be enthusiastic over the night,
     not only for the sense of wonder
   it alone has to offer, but also
 
because it needs our love. With large sad eyes
its delectable creatures look up and beg
     us dumbly to ask them to follow:
   they are exiles who long for the future
 
that lives in our power, they too would rejoice
if allowed to serve enlightenment like him,
     even to bear our cry of 'Judas', 
   as he did and all must bear who serve it.


"Enlightenment does not consist in imagining figures of light, but in making the darkness conscious." CG Jung

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New blog name?



My friend Emailior Fabbro...a man of many names, that being just one, with thanks to TS Elliot...suggested that my life can currently be described by a phrase I thought would make a cool blog name.

Oh, the phrase?

Chthonic jouissance.

Waddaya mean, "How do you pronounce it?" If you can't pronounce it, you have no business reading this blogue!

Well, OK.

K'thonnick Jwee-sonce.

Yeah, I know. ;_) Sounds like a Jungo-Lacanian Rock band.

Thanks, jpnill.

But maybe instead I'll just have a T-shirt made with the words on the front and see what happens when I walk down the street.

T Men 2


Mike Rowe, the guy who stars in Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs. He gets himself into all kinds of shit. Literally. Trying out dirty work that other guys do. He is funny in a smirky and self-deprecating way and is, well, very easy on the eyes. Sometimes easier than others....

Monday, October 29, 2007

What's Wrong with America 5


As Hollywood's writers, fountain of so many failed movies of late, go on strike against their employers, David Kahane imagines what's going on in their left-brains as they try to figure out why their gems are tanking. A snippet.

"It’s not like our patriotism is questionable or anything. Like Bonosera the undertaker in The Godfather, we love U.S.-America, we believe in U.S.-America, just not U.S.-America the way she is now: a racist, sexist, homophobic bastion of white male privilege, built on the backs of Africans and Native Americans and exploited immigrants, seeking to export its murderous rage to the Middle East and beyond. And all right-thinking people — by which I mean “left-thinking” people, of course — agree with us. You certainly won’t get any argument on the west side of Los Angeles, and wherever I travel in this great land of ours — to places as diverse as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and the Upper West Side — it’s unanimous. America stinks!"

The whole amusing thing at, omigod, National Review.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Harbinger of things to come?


My first lover died in 2006. His mom sent me some pictures that he had. One of them is from a trip we took to northern Ontario with a bunch of other guys in 1973. One of them was a hunter, so he was showing us how to use the rifle. I remember the kick in my shoulder. So here I was, as a youngster, even then, armed and dangerous ;-)

Smokin' science!


The bright and irritable Canadian essayist David Warren points out the scientifically-based notion that giving up smoking can kill you.

Read the whole thing.

It warms my heart...globally. ;-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Right Thinking



From Bookworm, another righty who lives in a very blue world. I could get on board with her thoughts.

Immigration

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe in immigration as an important part of American vibrancy. They also believe that America is weakening itself by allowing illegal immigrants to stream into the country unchecked, both because this influx saps America's sovereignty over her citizens and because the illegal immigrant pathways can also serve terrorists.

Progressive Belief: It's racist to keep illegal immigrants out of the country. For that reason, there should not be any hurdles in the illegal immigrant's path to the full panoply of American rights and welfare services.

The Supreme Court

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe that the role of the Supreme Court is to examine state and federal laws, and lower court decisions to determine whether they comport with the written Constitution. An even lowest common denominator belief is that the Supreme Court should examine only whether federal matters comport with the written Constitution, and to interfere with states only if the states enact laws that conflict or overlap with federal matters.

Progressive Belief: The Supreme Court is to decide what is right and what is wrong - and it can get help for this by looking to each justice's own private standards of morality, to dominant cultural trends, and to foreign systems. Having examined the moral position, the Court should then direct policy consistent with its findings.

Abortion

Core Conservative Belief: Whether you're pro-Choice or pro-Life, Conservatives who are being honest with themselves admit that Roe v. Wade was a badly decided opinion that, without any Constitutional authorization, represented a federal power grab of something that ought to be a states' rights issue. Roe v. Wade should be overturned, so that the question of abortion can be returned to the states, where it belongs. An alternative, of course, is to amend the Constitution so that it specifically allows or disallows abortion.

Progressive Belief: Abortion is an absolute, fundamental right that must remain inviolate. The main reason Progressives must win the White House is to put a stop to the Originalist Supreme Court justices that Conservatives have placed, and will continue to place, on the Supreme Court. Only a Democratic President will appoint justices who will maintain Roe v. Wade's existence.

The Iraq War

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe that, whether or not we made the right decision in 2003 to invade Iraq, it is a done deal. Our only responsibility now is to fight wholeheartedly and to win.

Progressive Belief: President Bush got us into the War to for nefarious reasons, mostly to satisfy his oil buddies in Texas and Cheney's friends at Halliburton. Now, to punish the President and the whole corrupt Bush Administration, we must leave Iraq immediately, regardless of the consequences to America, to Iraq, or to world security.

Islamic Terrorism

Core Conservative Belief: (a) Islamic terrorism is real, (b) it is the product of a totalitarian religious ideology that has as its ultimate goal the destruction of non-Muslim Western culture, (c) there is no middle ground given its goal, and (d) we must fight it.

Progressive Belief: Islamic terrorism is the work of a few people angry at the US (and especially at George Bush), and the best thing we can do to placate these people is to (a) leave Iraq; (b) abandon Israel; (c) dump George Bush; and (d) engage in dialogue with the Islamic leaders.

Taxes

Core Conservative Belief: Government is a bad money manager. People make money grow, and lower taxes allow for a livelier, growing economy. The inevitable result of trusting people with their own money is that the government, despite lower taxes, sees increased revenue (which is nicely balanced out by lower costs).

Progressive Belief: People cannot be trusted to make the right decisions with their money. It's better if the government takes and redistributes wealth, notwithstanding the fact that doing so slows the economy.

Religion

Lowest common denominator Conservative beliefs: (a) Religion is a good thing; (b) It's okay if people's religious values shape their political beliefs; (c) It's okay to acknowledge America's predominant Christianity by nodding to Christmas and Easter, as long as no one is forced to observe those holidays or discriminated against for not observing those holidays; (d) People should be free to worship without government interference in their beliefs; (e) Neither government nor business should be forced to change their practices to accommodate one belief system over others (see here and here for examples of some of the changes demanded).

Progressive Belief: Traditional Christianity is dangerous and must be stifled at all costs, everywhere. Islam has some problems but, to make up for the damage the Bush Administration has done to our standing in the Muslim world, we must accommodate Islamic demands in America.

America

Core Conservative Belief: While America has flaws, we are proud of her, since we believe that the American system and American values are the best human systems of governance yet created.

Progressive Belief: America is an imperialist bully that seeks to destroy non-white people, whether within or outside of America. Her power must be reined in at all costs.

Government

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe in Thoreau's dictum that "That government is best which governs least." Much as they are proud of America, Conservatives trust American people more than any government. To them, government is an artifice that can only legitimately govern with the consent of the governed. Conservatives also believe that individuals are smarter with respect to their own interest than the collective wisdom of government.

Progressive Belief: Progressives believe that government is responsible for fulfilling all citizen needs in all ways. They also believe that the government's collective wisdom about individual interests is greater than individuals' own knowledge about themselves.

Gun Control

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe that the only way a people can remain free is to have their Second Amendment right to carry arms. They like to point to Nazi Germany as an example of what can happen when a government with totalitarian tendencies successfully denies its people the right to carry arms. Conservatives also believe that, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. They like to point to London and Washington, D.C., as examples of what happens when ordinary citizens are denied access to arms.

Progressive Belief: The risks associated with guns are so high that it is government's moral obligation to try to remove them from the population entirely, even if that effort is imperfect (see, e.g., London and Washington, D.C.)

The Nature of Human Beings

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe that human nature is a combination of good and bad and that society's role is to control people's bad impulses through checks and balances that permit people's good sides to flourish.

Progressive Belief: Progressives believe that humans and society are products of their environment and, therefore, perfectible. The role of society is to mold people into better individuals and, ergo, better societies.

Multiculturalism

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives' idea of multiculturalism is still the old Melting Pot idea: people who want to come here should buy into our basic systems of values and history, learn to speak English, and enrich our culture with their background while merging with the whole.

Progressive Belief: Progressives believe that every other culture is superior to American culture, so immigrants and ethnic enclaves should be encouraged to remain separate and distinct. Not only that, they believe that it is the responsibility of ordinary Americans to yield in every instance when there is a conflict between the dominant American culture and an ethnic subculture.

Climate Change

Core Conservative Belief: Conservatives believe that climate change is happening, but they do not believe that the debate is settled as to the anthropocentric idea that it is entirely the West's fault. They recognize that the earth's climate is in a constant state of flux, and want more, less politically charged, information before panic begins. They like the idea of alternative energy sources, since they not only enjoy clean air and water, but would also like to see fewer Petrodollars flow to tyrannically governed nations. Again, though, they do not believe in going off half cocked.

Progressive Belief: Progressives believe that humans are entirely responsible for climate change, that it is an impending catastrophe that could potentially end our way of life, and that the only thing to be done is to take drastic measures, even if they undermine entirely modern civilization.

T men

T men: Fellas who exhibit testosterone. Of whom I am kinda fond.


Ian Tracey. Canadian actor. Looks like a gang kid from some 20's movie. He's only 5'7" but... the man who is possibly the sexiest guy on earth ---who shall remain nameless--- is also a 5'7" Canadian!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Malesoul12


For a man who discovered himself by discovering this as his vocation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gentlepersons' Agreement


If I am not mistaken, Gentlemen's Agreement dealt with polite antiSemitism in the 40's. I was watching a stupid comedy last night...which I quite like...Charlie Sheen...anyway....and the object of derision for the evening was a family that clearly had Southern roots. And someone of my acquaintance who would never be caught dead using unflattering language about ethnic minorities casually tossed of "trailer park white trash" the other day.

Yankee though I am (born in DC but raised in NY), I have come to value the role that the South plays in this country. But antiSouthern attitudes remain perhaps the last heartily supported form of public and private bigotry --polite and not-- in this PC-smothered land. And the Southerners intended are only the white ones. The huge black populations in the South are, of course, sanctified victims and exempt.

An article in American Thinker provides an interesting factual counterbalance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shock and awe


"...for that call'd Body
is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses,
the chief inlets of Soul in this age."
William Blake



I didn't come up with the teleological sex triad of pleasure, connection and transformation out my head alone. It's something I know something about. In fact, a year ago I experienced it in a new way, a sweet surprising ambush of ferocious grace. And the results have been...well, let's just say that my gratitude is very deep. Still remains very much alive.

Amazing grace.

And here is my thank-offering to the God, in image and word:



24And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast contended with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he limped upon his thigh.


Genesis 32

Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare
nos tibi semper, hic et ubique, gratias agere,

In truth it is worthy and just, right and healing
for us always, here and everywhere, to give Thee thanks.

Amen!

Monday, October 22, 2007

VDH on the cushy liberals


Familiar to me, although the "fern bar" reference shows that VDH needs to get out more:

"Among this very elite, liberalism is now a sort of entrée for business, entertainment and leisure, a social requisite, like being a petty Christian official in the Medieval World, always taken for granted and not often examined.

Among this new influential class, clustered in universities towns, and progressive cities like Seattle, the Bay Area, the southern California Coast, Boulder, New England, and the suburbs of Washington, hating George Bush, or assuming that Western industrial rapacity is heating up the planet for profits, or that Iraq is a war for Halliburton is all akin to having oak floors, leather furniture, a stainless steel, granite kitchen, a glass of white wine after work at a fern bar, or driving a Prius to campus—manifest symbols of taste, erudition, and culture.

Championing social causes at a distance also provides the upscale a sort of psychological penance: e.g., something like ‘I wouldn’t dare live or tutor in East Palo Alto, but will play the radical at Stanford’s picturesque campus as spiritual recompense.’"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Drawn to the Dark Side



Michael C. Hall, who played the uptight gay brother with the hot boyfriend in Six Feet Under, now plays the vigilante serial killer in ShoTime's Dexter. The boy has improved: let the stubble grow out on his excellent mug, been to the gym, looks mighty fine in those Henley shirts. All he needs now is someone to crop the hair...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's Wrong with America 4

The playlands of academia, the realm of logorrheic celebrity and the fetid backwaters of the psychologically creepy abound with material for this topic. Then there's the anti-academic celebrity creep:

What is sex for?

(Bandinelli, Two Men)

As a younger man, I was drawn to The Grand Questions. All those degrees (five of 'em, actually...yeah, I know) indicate at least that, among other things. My bookshelves are filled with tomes that address these issues, though I have not read any of them in a long time. I find myself dwelling in the nooks and crannies of the lowlands, smaller questions, smaller answers. Not lost interest entirely, but my energy is clearly in the particular, the mundane.

Yet.

My religious background, with its strong Aristotelian energy, leaves me with a question about almost anything: What's it for? True or not, a sense of a thing's purpose is a measure of its value for me.

So, to bring together the particular mundane and the Grand Questions: What is sex for?

Again, my tradition provides a direction. Sex is for procreation. And over time, it became clear that it was also for interpersonal communion. And it has always been clear that it is quite pleasurable. At least for men, most of the time!

A quicky teleology of sex: it's for procreation, communion and pleasure.

Now that does not work for homo sex, the procreation piece I mean. So I'll do with sex what I did with men and morph it a bit to fit my experience.

Procreation is participation in the creation of new life. So shall I call it creativity?...except that this sounds too much like an urge to do macrame and take up a hobby. Transformation is better, life renewed and changed, in the direction of its ultimate goal.

Communion is not wrong, but connection might be better, especially for men.

And pleasure is certainly translatable, although I tend to expand that into play as well. Play is a current metaphor for sex among gay men. Play can be read as "merely" play, but to me, play is a high form of life, so I may keep that.

Here's my second thought, then. Sex is for play, connection and transformation --these seem to me to be its more natural hierarchy, that is, the outcomes which more frequently occur and in the order in which they occur, at least between males.

And here's my third. Unlike the traditional view, any of the three is sufficient purpose for sexual activity. But, two of them together is better than one, and all three of them together is best.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I cross the line


With apologies to Johnny Cash, I crossed a line today. Bought my first cowboy hat. Well, at least since I was six.

Why? Been meaning to visit the Sundance Saloon, the SF country-western spaces for homos, where they can teach you how to dance. This weekend is Stompede, by the way, but I am not up for that yet.

Took my ex with me to buy the hat. I am not a hat guy...long in the face and the neck, I have gotten used to baseball caps only in the last few years. So a Stetson style is a stretch. But I trust the ex's judgment in these matters completely. He has never steered me wrong.

So, there it is. I wandered across the street to the gym to visit a friend and took a look at myself in the big mirror there: jeans and black t-shirt, boots, and this hat....I am thinking, "Not so bad"...and I am thinking, "Who the HELL ARE you?"

Funny.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Perfect Man

Found an image on a T-shirt in a local gay tchotchky establishment --a comic book store, actually...which you can also think of as a popular repository of archetypal image and narrative...ahem...and it pretty well encapsulates my idea of the perfect...man. ;-)

Might show up in the MaleSoul series...



And of course he turns out to be a dog!

As we say in Gay, "Woof!"


(Courtesy of, can you believe it, gravityfaggot.com)


Addendum:


A fella with a profile. A Texan in his 50's, 6ft, 200lbs, 32 waist, 18 arms, happily partnered up, handsome and hung. With one exception, I am not extremely phallo-focussed, but this guy...well, the whole gestalt is...well, I wouldn't mind knowing (or being) his identical twin brother!


For those so inclined, his profile is http://www.bigmuscleleather.com/~hercules

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Kaffir Flag


Courtesy of Conservative Swede and brought to you in honor of the First Amendment by Proud Kweer Gringo Kaffir.

I wonder if the brave souls who tricked out the Last Supper as Folsom Street would be interested next year in give equal time to Islam.

This is me not holding my breath.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On Christian ethics and homosexuality


I had a thought the other night as I was falling asleep. Not that I usually ruminate on ethical issues at that time. But...

Christian sexual ethics, and especially orthodox Christian ethics, is really only about the preservation and regulation of marriage. That's the motherlode, the heart issue, the one thing that this moral code cares about. So whatever does not support marriage will be rejected as threatening it. Adultery, of course. But any other kind of sexual activity will weaken the fortress of marriage, so it, too, must be forsworn: masturbation, fornication, ...and homosexuality. And for the truly traditional, divorce.

I used to gripe that Christian sexual ethics unrealistically assumed that there were only two kinds of people: spouses and celibates. No other choice. Well, it's pretty true. Because the point is not to assess the ethics of a variety of behaviors or kinds of people, but to make sure that marriage is sacred and inviolable. That's why it has been so easy to commit a mortal sin in the area of sex.

Reminds me of the rabbinic injunction, to "build a fence around the Torah", that is, not only to enforce the actual commandment, but to start making obstacles at a distance, so that you can't even get near to breaking an actual commandment. Makes it hard for people, but in the case of the Law or the Sacrament, I suspect that those undertaking this attitude were protecting something which, if violated, would have consequences for everyone that these folks considered catastrophic.

So even though it cashes out painfully for homosexually oriented Christians, my guess is that the anti-gay stuff ultimately flows from this deeper priority. Wherever you have a high doctrine of marriage, eg in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, even in a quasiChristian religion like Mormonism (whose doctrine of marriage is way higher than the orthodox) , you have no tolerance for extramarital sex of any kind. Once you start to accomodate extramarital sex of any kind, as among liberal Protestant churches, you eventually make marriage a kind of honorific option, just one among others.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Androphilia continued

(Lot Leaving Sodom)

I hope I won't get sued, but since there is no commercial benefit for me in reprinting this article, I will. It summarized some of Androphilia quite nicely, although it misunderstands a crucial point which I will, of course, correct. And while I'm at it, this short review is really more of a non-review. Avoiding the issue?

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gay & Lesbian Review, Inc.

Androphilia, A Manifesto: Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity

by Jack Malebranche

Scapegoat Press, 144 pages, $12.95

WITHOUT APOLOGY, without frills--brought to you by Scapegoat Publishing, whose motto is "Blame Us"--Jack Malebranche hacks away at longstanding myths about the gay community in this new book. These myths as he sees them are embedded in the full title of his book, whose four elements I propose to analyze by way of review.

"Androphilia" means a romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult men, in this specific context by adult men; and it's the word that Malebranche prefers over "gay" or its alternatives. His primary relationship is with a male "compadre"--in place of "life partner," "significant other," or other awkward honorifics. In contrast to the traditional polarized understanding of homosexuality, he writes, "I experience androphilia not as an attraction to some alien opposite, but as an attraction to variations of sameness." His social life is focused on what men share by virtue of their maleness, regardless of sexual orientation.

Malebranche's "manifesto" tackles values that have become entrenched assumptions and offers some alternatives. He starts with the father of what became the modern gay rights movement, Magnus Hirschfeld, a late 19th- and early 20th-century German physician and sexologist who situated male homosexuality or "uranism" within a medical model, explaining the male homosexual as a female psyche inhabiting a male body (a theory dating back to the 1850's). Malebranche rejects this idea in favor of that of Adolf Brand, a contemporary of Hirschfeld who considered homosexual men to be "simply men who celebrated masculinity and who preferred the company of (and, ostensibly, sex with) other males."

Malebranche traces our notion of gay identity to Hirschfeld's model and argues that "gay" does not refer to same-sex love or sex, but has become "a subculture, a slur, a set of gestures, a slang, a look, a posture, a parade, a rainbow flag, a film genre, a taste in music, a hairstyle, a marketing demographic, a bumper sticker, a political agenda and philosophical viewpoint. Gay is a pre-packaged, superficial persona--a lifestyle." While appreciative of the preceding generation of gay advocates who fought for and won the greater social tolerance and freedom from prosecution enjoyed today, Malebranche believes that the gay community has become a "cultural and political movement that promotes anti-male feminism, victim mentality, and leftist politics." He has much to say about all three of these pillars of political correctness, especially the third, where he identifies a "Gay Advocacy Industry" that has adopted a model of victimization to attract the support of "checkbook revolutionaries" in their cause. Here and elsewhere Malebranche complains that the mainstream gay movement "advocates males coming to terms with and taking pride in their homosexuality, but never advocates these men coming to terms with and taking pride in being men."

Some critics will probably accuse Malebranche of "internalized homophobia" because he wants to downplay the specifically sexual aspects of being gay. But he also wants to re-examine the assumptions and stereotypes that have stuck around from a previous era and prevented gay men from embracing their masculinity. There is no call to form a new community or start a new movement; if anything Malebranche would have gay men acknowledge their "androphilia" as one part of their identity and then move on.

Jay Heuman is curator of education at the Salt Lake Art Center.


_____________________________
It's pretty clear that Androphilia is both a manifesto in search of something new and a "Dear John" letter. The first line of the book is, "Gay is dead...or a least it's dead to me." So it isn't out to clear up myths about the gay community. On the contrary, the book finds a lot about that community to condemn. Pretty clear.

Malebranche would have gay men acknowledge their androphilia, if they have it, and then move out...of the gay community. He is definitely not looking to form another subgroup within the sexual Yugoslavia know as LGBT+, etc.

but his Fraternal Order of Androphiles website

(Shield of Lycurgus with Wolf's Hook Rune)

shows a clear desire to make some kind of connection with his fellows. And as I've said, being invited to participate as a recusant but supportive gayman has been interesting and fun.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...