I Only See

I Only See

I see the dilapidated constructs of perceptions fall in splintered edges under the weight of their flimsy premises.  Your truth only holds as much weight as I dictate.  I filter out your arguments with preconceived subtext and I preclude your ideas as perfidy.

I only see the light when it dims.

I only feel warmth when in the clutches of the cold.

I only hear words when they’re pronounced with the gentle craftsmanship of a voice that can give you hope merely by directing its attention towards you.

Discourse being drawn out by posture, eye movements and the need to fill the silence with words upon words, fumbling, landing and finding their steps.

Words that seldom reach their meaning.

I only see presence as a curtain for the substance behind it

And I can never get past that curtain.

Distractions

He had a distinct tinge of blue that simultaneously blended with but contrasted the more prominent grey of his eyes.  They twisted and pulled in a kaleidoscope whirl of blending colours.  They sat cunningly in the otherwise soft contours of a pure face that seemed permanently fixed in a smile.  They called him Grey.

Grey sat with his arms sprawled among two girls.  His touch was more congenial like a pet snuggling up to the newest human that crossed its path.  The smile stretched not just from the corners of the mouth but from the edges of his face and converged into a warmth that was infectious in its amiability.

On the opposite end of the room a hand crept on the thigh of a new hopeful.  Each limb was careful in its position, playing by ear to govern its movements.  Xavier occasionally indulged in his vaguely foreign name, depending on whether it served his intents.  She reciprocated Xavier’s grip by latching onto each of his words with widen eyes and exaggerated expressions.

Gigi liked to think that she had the charm of intellectual capacity but only had the grace of conventional beauty.  Everything in her esteem was quantified, from her considerable smarts to her large friend circle.  Her online persona was a flourishing presence of likes, followers and the necessary pretensions of model, traveller and “free spirit”.  Though her school and university marks were always impressive, her speech was littered with the borrowed musings of popular thought and furthered her guise as a walking brand rather than a wholesome person.

Gigi watched Grey and Xavier.  She watched Xavier and his latest female interest.  Grey always seemed the opposite, with nobler, more friendly interactions.  Xavier invested in his movements and was sure to sneak a wink at his friend Grey who acted as moral support from far across him.  Grey, neither fixed nor detached, lay in the realms of nowhere but everywhere.  He liked to bounce back and forth, following people as if they were shiny objects to be engaged with and then replaced.  Each person was a new post for his flitting attentions.  When Gigi received her turn of conversation, she collapsed immediately into his way of communicating through his eyes.  His words were just added decoration to serve as small talk to that deep blue-grey.  Even if it wasn’t quite romance that he evoked, he did have a commanding presence of youth and puppy-like cheerfulness.  She could capture their moments of dilated eyes with glistening specks that caught the light at perfect angles.

Xavier intertwined his charisma with crafted words of the best minds of Allen Ginsberg’s generation, “angelheaded hipsters” and Emily Dickinson’s hope “with feathers that perches in the soul”.  His words could sing and his subject could catch his tune and hang onto the melody of knowledge and wit that created both laughter and awe.  Those invested eyes that clung to him drove him to seek it out as much as possible.  New faces had new reactions that couldn’t be mimicked or recreated.  That hope that spread its wings, although always present, was only more pronounced on the eve of new possibilities.

There was a person behind the long flowing hair, white, manicured smile and statuesque grace that supported the body inhabited so much by persona that her own self became suppressed.  Gigi was a girl, no she was a woman.  She had dreams of designing, values based in loyalty, love for animals and longing for adventure.  She liked cheesy 90s R&B and sang every word no matter how much it was out of her vocal range.  She was fascinated by the attention to detail and the visual aesthetic of anything ranging from artwork to skyscrapers.  She wanted to create beautiful things and be inspired by any and every adrenaline-rush or new experience that she could grab onto.  But she also had a fragile necessity.  A price tag followed her actions and she was the product.  Readily consumed, she could only see herself through commodification.  Outings always played background imagery to her digital self.  Every moment was a landscape for the cultivation of who she wanted to be seen as.  So when she posed next to Grey, he became a fitting mannequin with his boyish charm and welcoming features.

Just as Gigi was a new distraction to him.  A passing butterfly, a bright new colour and a nice new face that kept him from himself.

The stench of beer was the expected aromatic accompaniment to the dispersed bottles and throaty gagging.  Xavier was glad to fulfil the hook-up criterion for the night even if he didn’t know how obliging she would be the next day.  Gigi couldn’t quite document the more puerile but memorable parts but she could caption the pre-intoxicated group picture.  There had also been enough activity to dangle in front of Grey together with an all-sorts variety of numbing juice.

So in the end they slipped into a half passed-out slumber with the conviction of a night well spent. Distractions petering out into the new day.

PC Culture: the good, the bad and those with appearance deficits

PC Culture: the good, the bad and those with appearance deficits

As much as I’d love to write about the current political climate, Trump analysis is an over-exhaustive subject that is both abundant and contradictory.  Although his histrionics, vague policies and shifting positions are manifestations of his incompetence, he is undoubtedly a showman and one to watch.  My knowledge of American politics is also very limited as I’m South African.  As with that infamous saying of the uniformed vs the misinformed, I have conceded that my left-leaning bias together with politically charged reporting disguised as objective information has rendered me unable to write a fair piece on the age of Trump, its Brexit associations and our divided times.  But there’s a Trump-related topic with universal impact I can write about and that is political correctness.

First of all what is it?  It’s Euphemism based language designed at minimizing the negative connotations associated with those who are marginalised, socially disadvantaged or face discrimination.  It’s also seen as “fascism disguised as manners” and supports victim-centered ideologies to those who oppose it.

I personally have a love-hate relationship with it.  On the one hand, PC culture is denigrated in order to trivialize true racial and sexist bigotry.  You can say something outlandishly offensive and shift the blame to the overly-sensitive targets who should “stop being so offended”.  It becomes a dismissal of lived pain, boasted from the mouths of people ignorant of the experience they’re silencing. On the equal but opposite side is a self-congratulatory intention that jumps at the slightest offence but can’t be bothered to address the issue they’re supposedly protecting.  Valid criticism gets demonised to support “safe spaces”.

So where did it originate from?  Political correctness is a descendant of cultural marxism.  Cultural Marxism is an umbrella term and one that was coined with a purposeful negative intent.  It has less to do with Karl Marx himself and more to do with left leaning principles to a point where most of the followers who fall under its loose term do not consider themselves marxists.  It’s also worthy to note that Marxist ideas are very broad in spectrum due to his extensive work and are not exclusively related to his Labour Theory of Value and communism.  It has a dual relationship, one that applies some of Marxist’s ideologies to the social sciences and the other is its conspiracy roots.  While Marx proposed capitalism as a perpetrator for promoting inequality, cultural marxism focuses on culture as a source of these disparities.  The origin of cultural marxism comes from the Frankfurt School which was founded in the US around the 1930s when Hitler came into power after its founders were forced to flee from Germany due to its heavy relation to communism.  This association continued to stick in America and it was largely perceived as an infiltration into Western ideologies and a source of invasion that began with upending traditional Western values from within.  The ultimate aim of the school is social change mainly through the notion of critical theory and conflict theory.  Critical theory is defined as “a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it”.  Conflict theory focuses on the separation of society into social classes and proposes that the inequality faced by these classes are based on the tendencies for groups to be in conflict with each other rather than consensus. For example, the wealthy use their power to exploit less powerful classes in order to maintain their wealth, such as apartheid or jim crow laws that prevented social mobility to concentrate resources amongst a certain race.  Unequal distribution of resources are therefore conflict based. We can basically encompass current progressive thinking into The Frankfurt School of thought.  Think things like feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, sexual liberation, social justice, post colonialism and of course our main topic here: political correctness.

With the large and very faithful Bernie Sanders following, it was interesting to see socialism escape from its curse word banishment and be embraced. Even though the US is land of the free, total freedom of speech became a topic of controversy as the rise of PC culture came in with force and trigger warnings.  With freedom comes responsibility and together with a past that is deeply embedded with oppression, if you have something -ist or phobic to say, you will goddamn be accountable or even shut down for it.

So what is in a name?  Will the rose still smell as sweet or is saying cripple (as opposed to differently abled) stinking up our sensitive climate?  How much of an impact does language have on tolerance of our othered people and is this careful egg-shell language ultimately positive or detrimental?

What is the power of language?  As a wannabe writer I would argue that there is something significant about the words you choose and the sentence structure you impose.  The way you express yourself is a reflection of who you are so there is significance in how you choose to do this.  Therefore I would argue that if you choose an anti-PC word,  it may be an expression of your own ignorance towards the group you’re referring to.  If you see nothing wrong with saying tranny then it may be a reflection of ignorance towards how dehumanising the word is to someone struggling with their own gender identity.  The same way in which ‘gay’ is commonly used to mean dumb or lame independent of its roots to homosexuality.  It seems perfectly harmless to someone who is straight and never had to personally deal with homophobia but it also helps to perpetuate homosexuality as being different and abnormal.

Purposeful slurs like nigger, fag and tranny all needed to be reclaimed to rob them of their power.  Nigger is now more slang than dehumanising power play.  It’s a worthwhile tool to subvert cultural oppression.  So is total exclusion of these words helpful?  Does vilifying certain words in turn make them more powerful or is reluctance  to criticise the use of these words perpetuating a hate that is still in existence even though we now live in a more equal society?  There’s no easy answer to this so the intent of the person needs to be the focus.  Are there truly oppressive thoughts lurking underneath?  The militancy of PC has become a powerful force against any form of opposing ideas in an ironically oppressive way to the oppression they’re combating.  Any hint of offence is treated as bigotry even in situations where the same idea is expressed by two individuals of different races or genders.  For example, a white person criticising materialistic and narcissistic messages in mainstream rap may be considered racist but a black person making similar criticisms is not.  Lorde’s song royals was accused of having racist undertones but the YouTuber The Rap Critic often expresses his disdain with brag-rap culture but is not deemed racist.  A person of one social group criticising the ideas of another is automatically bigoted without discussion of the idea itself.  This kind of attack on opposing ideas is counterproductive to any real social change or improvement.

The common and somewhat forceful opponent to PC is the authoritarian censorship it represents that flags unsavoury words.  While I do have my criticisms of PC culture, I think it’s taking a leap to conclude Orwellian type dystopia as the ultimate end point from it.  A lot of comedians centre towards this view as their career makes use of more outspoken, controversial material that shocks viewers into laughter.  They often get the full-forced, immediate impact of disapproving heads to jokes that violate safe spaces.  The acceptable/taboo line is probably most blurred in comedy.  This isn’t too surprising as comedy has its roots in suffering and opening that unhealed wound doesn’t necessarily mean it will get more infected.  Treading up hushed up topics from the burial ground of denial can help create dialogue but with anything  fragile, a joke can definitely go too far.  Trolls call themselves comedians and verbal abuse becomes “straight talk”.

I think what separates shock-humour from comedy to straight up offense is its intent.  If you make a joke about black people, is it to emphasise the absurdities of stereotypes or is it to condescend?  Racial based humour can either highlight issues or reinforce prejudice.  Similarly, are women in the kitchen jokes making light of outdated gender roles or is it normalising these roles?  Some pro PC advocates argue that any form of racism or sexism is inherently violent and should therefore not be tolerated at all.  Is it okay to exercise racist or sexist notions when these ideas are entertained and do oppress?  Is it okay to perpetuate African culture as primitive or women as more emotional than logical when people really do believe these notions and take it as fact?  Is the answer to only disagree but not prevent this rhetoric?

My personal issue with PC culture also stems from the moral self licensing that often ensues.  Changing the wording becomes a platform for moral superiority but the issues remain, tarnishing the goodwill of the progressive Samaritan who paints over pain with pretty language.  The differently abled guy is still in a wheelchair and the Paralympics will still get dwindling viewership next to its able bodied alpha twin.  Moral self licensing uses a quantitative measure to stack up good deeds and therefore provides people with room to be a bit of a dick seeing as that token act of kindness for the day gives you license to pat yourself on the back.  It basically uses past acts of goodness to justify any future behaviour that’s less than stellar.

The biggest concern with PC is the oppressor vs the oppressed relationship. Minorities immediately fall into the marginalised category.  This is where affirmative action, feminism and its criticism come in.  The preferential treatment towards minorities becomes a big topic of concern as it may violate meritocracy.  Hiring becomes based on gender and ethnicity rather than primarily on capability.  This is a valid concern but it doesn’t address the social forces that favour men as authoritative figures, more specifically white men.  Is it really safe to say that culture hasn’t enabled white men to be in positions of power when harmful stereotypes of other cultures still exist?  It’s also interesting to note the either or perception where it is thought that a company can either hire based on diversity or based on meritocracy but not both.  It’s as if standards have to be lowered in order to have a team of diverse representation.  To those who disagree with this I’d like to give two examples of how culture can favour certain groups.  Eusebius Mckaiser, who is a trained and award winning debater, made the observation that masculine characteristics make one better equipped to be a more engaging public speaker.  He also noted that women had to adopt these characteristics to be acknowledged as good speakers. He emphasised this when a female colleague of his was taken less seriously even though she was more knowledgeable in terms of the research being presented.  She was a lot more soft spoken and subdued in her speech and this played a big role in how the company interpreted both her and her findings.  Similarly, a black person who speaks eloquently may be accused of trying to ‘be white’.  This is an example of how whiteness can be perceived as more ‘intellectually inclined’ or authoritative.   Affirmative action in theory is supposed to be a corrective measure to the historical prejudice that oppresses people of colour and women. However, this way of blind favouring towards marginalised groups creates more division.   The heterosexual white Christian male becomes the face of abuse based solely on these characteristics and not his character.  The oppressed category becomes based on superficial characteristics and is group based.  The point of social change should be to empower and elevate people from the ‘other’to a multicultural society in which individuals become just that- their own unique person judged by their individual actions and not the group they represent.

Anti-PC statements can be just as forcefully militant and in a lot of cases are defensive attacks against a changing world.  Some of the PC critics claim that today’s world is less free and look with nostalgic tunnel vision to the days preceding the 60s counter-culture revolution when good old fashioned family values which were largely faith based (Christian to be exact) were embraced.  I think it’s absurdly comical to think these pre-Civil Rights and 2nd wave feminism days were ‘free’.  While there is value to traditional  values such as loyalty, patriotism, family and marriage, there were serious inequalities during those times that required social change. William Lind is one of the more forceful PC opponents.  There is this right leaning conspiracy theory that cultural marxism is this silent disease that is infecting the mainstream with the ultimate aim to control, enforce uniformity and make use of the commodification of oppression to manipulate the masses.  William Lind proposes that all ideologies are inherently “totalitarian because the essence if an ideology is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true -such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women.” I would be willing to entertain this had it not been for that last part since the oppression of women is a very real and large part of history (I don’t know what he means by the whole of history) that still needs to be combatted today (I’m especially looking at you Saudia Arabia). To get a fairly good understanding of this conspiracy theory I recommend reading his entire transcript of cultural marxism.

So to basically round this whole post off,  my stance is somewhere in the middle.  Although I’m a self proclaimed left winger, there are some serious reforms that need to be undertaken to diminish this whole oppression Olympics mindset that divides rather than alleviates.  I’m not going to be completely against PC culture because blind backlash of political correctness can be a means of delegating discussion of the lasting effects of inequality to a sarcastic “aww shame your feelings are hurt” rather than addressing substantive issues.  The best we can do is a case by case assessment of the controversy at hand.  Bad sushi is not cultural appropriation and transphobia is an infringement on basic human decency.  Combat Milo Yiannopolous intellectually, not by violent attacks and police brutality against unarmed black people needs more thorough investigation.  I would personally urge everyone to be more down the middle instead of demonizing the people whose worldview doesn’t align with your own.  This is the one thing both sides ironically share in common.  So to all you libtards and bigots out there, I say relish in the madness and learn to chill a bit in the face of opposing positions.

Sources:

https://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/
http://www.marylandthursdaymeeting.com/Archives/SpecialWebDocuments/Cultural.Marxism.htm

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2016/2/hooray-for-cultural-marxism.html

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a50922/what-is-political-correctness/
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/not-a-very-pc-thing-to-say.html
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/conflict-theory.asp
Moral self-licensing and social dilemmas: An experimental analysis from a taking game in Madagascar – …
Run Racist Run by Eusebius McKaiser

The Easter Parade and Your Biggest Nightmare

The Easter Parade and Your Biggest Nightmare

The moon casts a dim white that moves angelic on your bedroom walls and floor.  Your eyes are bright in the darkness.  Your thoughts are even brighter.  You squint at the lock-screen on your phone.  It’s 2am and your deepest thoughts have come to wake you.  What is it that you fear at 2am when you are alone and left to ponder?  I’m not talking about suspicious creaks and the formless shadows that are turning into a horror-movie monster or the intruder from the front page of the newspaper.  I’m talking about the creeping shadows of failures and distant desires that drift haunting in the black maze of suppressed fears.

Fear and failure are two deeply intertwined words with each having an influence on the other.  They have the potential to trap each other in a continuous loop.  Failure leads you to become fearful and being fearful may consequently lead to failure.

The concept of failure is largely explored in the book The Easter Parade by Richard Yates.  It delves into the real-life horror of the everyday tragedy.  These are tragedies which are simple and seemingly benign in scale and overt recognition.  In its simplicity, the unfortunate becomes removed from the notion of being ‘other’ and the ambiguous ‘happy ever after’ ending gets a darker remake.

The Grimes sisters will not have happy lives.  In one swift opening sentence, a tragic foreshadowing takes an insidious grip on upcoming expectations.  However, in this very precise, matter-of-fact tone it is not an indication of a preconceived melodrama but an outlying of two very different women with very different lives.  The sisters’ lives are nonetheless connected by similar themes although their pathways diverge into seemingly opposite directions.  It may seem that the journey is spoiled by this prematurely bleak outcome but in fact I would argue that it is heightened by it.  The very outright reveal is one that enables the book to explore concepts such as hopefulness and disappointment in an intimate way.  We start the journey at childhood with idealism and end with a very real and unnerving cynicism.

The book posits two contradicting outlooks.  One is that of the traditional domestic woman which encompasses the ideal nuclear family. The other is that of a university-educated, working woman.  They serve as prototypes for the conflicting and expanding roles of women that are at play in the current post-feminist era.  Each of these roles also involve an interplay of both condescension and envy.  The perfect housewife is an act of success in itself and a platform for the upstanding virtues of morality, safety and security with familiarity.  The apple pie lies piping hot and fresh, its hot vapours forming a path to the lush green of the manicured lawn while she awaits the husband to find rest from his 9 to 5 job.  The woman nurtures and provides an environment for her children and husband to thrive.  The children are in need of care and attention and all the thankless work that comes with school activities and responsibilities that will ultimately shape their future. She is the foundation and so in theory this idealised TV commercial version of life is a fulfilling one.

On the other hand is the more ‘modern’ depiction of the woman in society.  She is one who lives on her own terms.  Marriage is not an aspiration but a choice should the time come.  Relationships are varied and each new man an adventure, with companionship being a greater emphasis than marriage material.  Higher education and job satisfaction are more of a necessity and independence is the ultimate reward.

Sarah is the older sister who takes the more traditional route while her younger sister Emily is a kind of pioneer in the cosmopolitan lifestyle considering the setting that begins in the 1930s and ends around the 1970s.  Sarah is a beautiful blonde with a curvaceous figure and a Laurence Olivier look-alike to whisk her away into marital bliss at the tender age of 20.  Child-bearing follows swiftly with her having three children within three years.  Emily on the other hand, has numerous relationships and never really settles down for too long.  For majority of the book, Emily is the focus while Sarah slowly weaves her way back into the story with increasingly more profound snippets to reveal a jarring alternative to the perfect family narrative that is assumed.

The up-down swing of jealousy and pity is featured mostly in subtext.  Emily feels a sort of betrayal at the realisation that she is now smarter than her older sister who confusedly  describes a house as “pedantic” and is ignorant to the definition of “capitulates”.  Sarah looks on with a kind of commiseration for her unwed sister and encourages marriage with each new suitor Emily brings.

“Is marriage supposed to be the answer to everything?” asks Emily.

Sarah looked hurt.  “It’s the answer to a lot of things.”

The book is ultimately about unfulfilled dreams.  This includes their mother whose life is entrenched densely with delusions of grandeur but who instead remains crass and reaching for an elevated standing in a society that she will never belong to.  They weep for their father who never found the ability to be a great reporter and could never quite grasp why he led a life of restricting job dissatisfaction, remaining only as a copy-desk man.

Sarah loses her identity through her unhappy marriage.  She becomes a hefty, disheveled weight of her former self.  She is a display of extraneous burden, aged far beyond her years.  In the park she sits unnatural against a background of youths who inhabit it athletic and active.  She waits on the bench, unknowingly linked to the very same park in which Emily lost her virginity.  Time brings a cruel irony to the older-younger sister dynamic.  Sarah looks up to her younger sister for guidance.  However, Sarah’s distress is a hindrance to Emily’s lifestyle.  Emily guiltily sees her sister as an obstacle to her current and even future relationships.  Emily substitutes her emptiness with men.  Though unconfined to marital bonds, Emily is a function of her newest lover.  Her independence is not as self-sufficient as it seems.

One is stuck in a failed marriage, the other travels from man to man and both are connected to each other by their unhappiness.  The failure I so often refer to is the state of complete and desolate loneliness.  There are few things so hopeless than that of the utter irreconcilable despair of complete mental solitude.

Where did all this unhappiness start?  The trouble begins with the divorce of their parents while Emily and Sarah were very young.  While the take-home message doesn’t exactly intend to say that all kids of divorce are doomed to failed relationships,  divorce can be a more difficult starting point to navigate.  This is further exacerbated by all the upheaval that follows with regards to their living arrangements.  You could also read the message more pessimistically as showing you that there are multiple ways to screw up your life but I don’t think that’s the point either.  Failure isn’t the defining characteristic of their lives but it is still a large factor.  To be honest, I don’t know exactly what the ultimate point of the story is but I see it as a tale of the relatable misfortune.  It is  one that isn’t overgrown with melodrama and detached pity for the kind of adversity that can’t really be perceived by most people, such as extreme poverty and other forms of oppression seen in more dystopian-centred stories.

So could it all have been avoided?  Does the book want you to isolate the incidents that led to their unhappiness?  Yes and no.  Yes, if you see it necessary to give them a more coming-of-age type of narrative where they learn from their mistakes.  No, if you feel that it’s the outcome that imparts the lesson and changing it defeats the purpose of the whole book.  It also depends if you believe in determinism or destiny.  Maybe changing something is just a rerouting to the same destination or it’s the upbringing and their nature which makes them incapable of making any decisions other than the ones that they made.  Either way, it’s a nicely ambiguous story that lets you put your own meaning to it.

“And do you know a funny thing?  I’m almost fifty years old and I’ve never understood anything in my whole life.” -Emily

Lastly, what is the significance of the Easter parade that led it to become the title?  The Easter Parade is a point of wholesome family dynamics, an unsullied hopefulness and a proud moment for each character.  Tony is a suave accompaniment to Sarah in her expensive but borrowed silk dress.  A starry-eyed moment in time is captured by the public relations photographer, Emily has an adolescent crush on her older sister’s relationship and their mother experiences pride at this picture perfect representation.  I’m not going to insist that it is the exact point of downhill deescalation from there but it is a time of young happiness.  It’s the kind of happiness where the future is bright and whatever you wish it to be.  The kind that those infested with that dreaded mid life crisis are nostalgic for.

So why does this tie in with my biggest nightmare?  Well, as much as I’d love to hold on to destiny with its promises of ‘everything happens for a reason’, sometimes The Easter Parade is just what it is.  *It’s a bright happy moment filled with sonnets and bonnets.  He’s the grandest fellow while she’s the grandest lady and you’re the proudest couple on the avenue (Fifth avenue). But in this case, the credits don’t roll and the picture doesn’t fade into hollywood sunsets and blissful ambiguity.  There’s no real guarantees, so you live past that moment and move on to the next one and grab on tightly to that Judy-Garland-Fred-Estaire merriment and hope it all works out.

*For anyone who’s a bit lost here, The Easter Parade is also an adorable musical with a closing number of the same name.

easter-parade-free-2

When Depth is Condensed

When Depth is Condensed

Anyone who has ever spent some time on the internet or has glossed through their facebook newsfeed has come across a top 10 of some sort.  Buzzfeed is particularly notorious in its lists of things, mostly because of their ability to recycle the same ideas in barely new, meme-filled ways.  “Things only 90s kids understand” or something to that effect is a popular one they like to exploit.  It’s a very nicely wrapped, easy-to-read way to package thoughts and concepts into boxed constructions and digestible click-bait.  A lot of them are harmless but the kind of lists that really get to me are the personality based ones.  There are such gems out there such as The Huffington Post’s “18 things creative people do differently”and “10 signs you’re exceptionally smart but don’t appear to be” published by a site called Lifehack.org.  These are particularly grating but devilishly ingenious.

One such list that stood out to me the most is one very special “Why Most Men Can’t Handle A Deep Woman” with its very “profound”insights stacked neatly from 1 to 10.  I don’t have anything against lists but there’s a time and place for such a device. Reinforcing your own pretensions about possessing vaguely positive personality traits is not one of them.  These kind of lists are on par with Star Sign readings and how many arbitrary adjectives can be forced into a description of how great being a Leo is (or whatever your sign happens to be).  It’s a way of pushing oversimplifications as depth.  You’re so intent in acquiescing to the characteristics presented to you that you manipulate your thoughts into agreement.

My problem with lists like these aren’t so much to do with the subject matter but rather the way in which the article wishes to engage the reader.  The power of writing comes in its ability to bring feelings to a substantive form that may have previously been hard to grasp or to open you up to new perspectives.  The reasons why all these “word porn”excerpts are so popular is because of how easily accessible they are and more importantly because of the relatable sentiments they are able to capture.  When somebody writes “top 10 things creative and intelligent people relate to” or whatever it may be, it’s a form of engaging the reader directly without challenging them.  It suggests an exploration into the creative mind but then just goes on to list a few habits that are agreeable to the perfectionist mentality.  It doesn’t really teach you anything about these qualities, it just reaffirms them.  Short quotes that are smart and insightful are effective in how memorable they are and can therefore leave an impact by having more staying power.  More conventional pieces of journalism and opinion pieces make use of persuasive language and reasoning that can be questioned and analysed.  There is usually a purpose to these and a point that is trying to be made.  When these lists come along, I wonder what is the purpose of “15 things that make you a 90s kid”?  So far the only answer I can come up with is this: pandering.

What is the ultimate point conveyed in “why men can’t handle a deep woman”?  Is it that these women’s souls are these vast oceans, so rich in wisdom and mystery that they can only be explored by a man daring and dedicated enough to brave their infinite depth?  Nope.  It’s a way of feigning exclusivity while still pandering to a wide audience.  It’s meant for a number of people to read and think “omg this is so me!” while still maintaining that they belong to an elitist group of deep thinkers whose inability to find Mr Right is due to a difficulty in making a meaningful connection because they’re just too damn deep.  The more important question is, how many people will come across this article and proceed to categorise themselves as shallow?  Anyone who deems themselves unconfined to the limits of what a “deep” woman is, probably has more insight than the target audience of this piece.  Or maybe there’s a togetherness aspect of this article that I’m neglecting.  Perhaps we women need to converge into a common ground of recognition that we’re all too “deep” for most men. Men and women often have contrasting ideas as to what they should aspire to.  Women are encouraged from an early age to value commitment and are entrenched with the idea of a limited time frame to find a husband.  This has also to do with biological reasons as well as social and cultural ones.  Men on the other hand, don’t really have a cut off date to be eligible for marriage and are often encouraged to get a lot of action before being “tied down”.  Commitment may be perceived as restraining rather than fulfilling.  This means that women in general may more often aspire to an emotional connection than men.  However, I’m not sure I agree with this whole “deep”construct.  I think that you can separate your love life from your critical thinking and philosophical capabilities.  Some of the most well renowned male thinkers of all time have had misogynistic tendencies (just read about the personal lives of Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway).

So what exactly qualifies one to be a “deep woman”?  Well it’s exactly the kind of characteristics that you would expect.  It’s also the kind of generically pragmatic qualities anyone seeking a genuine connection would want.  The list includes emphasis on things such as honesty, intimacy and knowing what you want.  The more surprising, maybe even frightening one was intensity.  Its placement after “craving consistency” also makes it even more problematic.  The consistency aspect implies a sense of level-headedness such as desiring stability and a “solid bond” that goes beyond mind games, casual meetings and erratic behaviour.  Instead of wasting time hoping for that flaky guy to come around or pursuing men who aren’t too interested, a “deep”woman will make it clear that she is looking for something substantial.  The level-headed connotation is then immediately distinguished in the next point.  This bullet point comes with a disclaimer warning so that’s pretty much a red flag.  Apparently deep women are also super intense in both thought and emotion.  Passion is great and often uplifting but I’m not so sure I get a sense of emotional stability from someone who “brings intensity to everything she does”.  I prefer intensity to be in smaller doses, when it’s an appropriate time and place.  There’s a fine line between intensity and straight up crazy.  We women really don’t need to provide reasons to affirm this idea that we’re all just irrational, PMSing basket cases.  There are men out there who genuinely believe that women are inherently unfit to be in positions of power because apparently we’re governed by emotions instead of logic.  Unfortunately for those men, women have vast and varying capabilities and having a vagina doesn’t mean that we are automatically less qualified than our penis-having counterparts.

Deep women also like to ask “deep questions”, know how to “love deeply” and want a “deep relationship”.  It seems like deep women also like repetition.  While none of these qualities are bad per se (except maybe the intensity part) or even particularly female orientated, it’s the entire premise of this piece that irks me.  Blaming failed relationships or shitty dating experiences on being too deep is counterproductive to finding the specifics of what actually went wrong.  I don’t think that this article is too intent on defining the meaning of depth and subsequently exploring it.  One of its insights insinuates that you should bombard your date with personal questions and to be honest, I don’t think that it’s particularly necessary to probe someone in order to make a connection.  It comes across as manipulative, as if you have to mould your significant other to fit this conceptualisation of wild, infinite fantasies and philosophical journeys that you can take together.  Anyone unfit to these imaginings are just too shallow to meet the potentially narcissistic standards that are imposed.  The ironic part is that I find this entire list to be shallow.  The depth that is so often proposed isn’t very fluid or allows for any expansion outside of the confines of its set characteristics.  Do you have to always know what you want, be unafraid of intimacy and be blunt to be deep?  The article doesn’t address the complex and fluctuating nature of relationships and life itself.

So basically I think that being “too deep”is a cop-out and a bit too abstract to be condensed into a list like this.  We live in the age of information and the more you attempt to dig deeper into the bottomless pit of knowledge and opinion, the more you realise how limited your worldview is.  The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know.  Remember this: everyone you meet knows something that you don’t (not sure if this is from Bill Nye or Carl Jung).  Maybe it’s better to figure out what you can extract from someone or some experience before you decide they’re below your level of depth.

Link below:

10 Reasons Why Most Men Can’t Handle A Deep Woman

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Midnight Melancholy

Midnight Melancholy

In the midnight air, amongst the bustle of sweaty bodies and the indistinguishable thudding against my eardrum.  Shallow, familiar words intertwined with doof doof and whirring noises.  Sticky, hot darkness mixed with cool breezes leading the way into the open spaces of outdoor chatter and huddles of incoherent faces mixed up in their own private stories of the night that we share.

I wish for arms around me, cradling me in the dense, sullen world.  When the night sky blankets the street, the alcohol spills and wooshes between the numbed senses of stumbling people and the noise becomes distant in its domination, I realise that I’m all alone.

It is in these moments of crowded loneliness that I have to ask, what more is there?

Pseudo rebellion without a cause

Pseudo rebellion without a cause

Okay so this was a weird one to write because I started it without any real objective and therefore took quite a while to figure out where it was going and what the hell I was actually writing about.  I still don’t think this post  is actually about anything.  There’s no real central theme.  It’s pretty much just a few disjointed ideas about self identity, longing, ambivalence and desire.

So here we go:

I had always admired the nonchalance of the act of smoking.  It commands an aura of gentle defiance as the smoke whisphers between the lips and wafts outwards into obscurity.  It presented a desirable alternative to my limp arms, hanging defeated in the stiff air of self-consciousness.  However, I could never settle naturally into taking it on as a habit.  I was confined to being a little girl feigning rebellion and coughing violently as the bitterness engorged my throat.  I was destined to settle in the admiration of the idea of it rather than to be a part of it.  I was always jealous of the actively participatory solitude it presented.  It was acceptable to smoke in a social circle, privy to your own actions but still present.  Instead I would be delegated to sit with my silent musings, not really knowing what to do with myself.      

Outright rejection was the lesser of the two cruels.  It was easier to understand and to swallow, even through the hefty gulps and slobbering tears.  No was clear, straight to the point.   It was harsh but firm and expelled ambiguity in its singular force and short but solid stance.  It made sense.  In the maze of mixed emotions, a simple no was a relief. It pained me to be thought of as a consideration.  As if I had potential but there was something missing or maybe inchoate that left me hanging in the fragile edges of ‘maybe’ but ‘not quite’.  I wanted to be sutured into his thoughts and forged into a permanent mark in the back of his mind. I wanted to be a fixture but was instead a passing thought.  

Crushes were always strange.  A simple gesture became significant.  A smile became a promise.  It inferred a connection in the few seconds it took to soften a face into a shared moment.  Yet the same action performed by someone else was diluted by a relative lack of feeling towards that person. 

I was never really meant to lean on the pillar of rebellion. 

James Dean meticulously positioned like a work of art, embodying the poster child for the disaffected youth, smiling wryly, immortalising a legacy that would surpass him.  That was the dream: effortless charisma and cheating death through iconography.  

What is there for me to rebel against? I’ve had blessings and opportunities lined up for me in series since I was born. Rich girl, fancy house, attending privileged institutions and playing tennis on the weekend.  But I have also had sadness storming, brewing in the outskirts, waiting to topple those blessings in a gust of wind like a domino effect.

I simultaneously value my upbringing but want to find out who I am outside my family’s opinions.  This can lead to small increments of thought-conflict but I see my mom and then  proceed to see parts of her sneaking up into myself.  In all honesty there’s no one else I’d rather be.

Grappling with religion, refusing to study, late night antics and turning deaf ears to good advice. I’m terrified of parental critique even though I know they just want what’s best for me.  I dislike the idea of seeing too much of someone else in my thought process even if I come from a family of high achievers.  Is there anyone else I’d rather be influenced by if it’s not my family who have so much wisdom to impart? Even with my bias, my family is objectively impressive.  

My main rebellion was against how I see myself in contrast to how I am seen by others.  Quiet girl, shy, locked up in her room, aware of her good fortune but stuck inside the confines of social isolation.  Trapped inside the four corners of a beautiful, spacious home.  Maybe there are a lot of other people who deserve this life more than I do but I am the one it is handed to. 

Smoking is a toxic and harmful habit.  This is semi-ancient, hammered-in knowledge.  Yet people with relatively in depth know-how of its effect remain undeterred.  I know some of its biological effects however, I see a picturesque, Don Draper styled, thematic scene representing both the dissident and a secret death-wish every time someone lights a cigarette.  It’s self-destructive but can easily be made accessible.  It can be likened to the idealisation of someone who is ultimately bad for you.  You know smoking is bad but you try it out anyway.  You know he’s bad for you but you like the idea of him anyway.  Smoking is riddled with social consequences whether the habit is encouraged or not.

If I could somehow turn my adolescent alienation into some larger than life persona.  Cigarettes for escapism and not decoration.  The marriage of your unashamed self with a presence that’s captivating and inescapable. Foolish feelings of wanting to feel desired matched with being the object of desire.

I don’t really know what I want.  Sometimes I look at something outside of myself, something a little dangerous but not too much, in the hopes that maybe it could take me away, teach me something, add something.  I inch a little further away from how I’ve been raised but in the end I always come running back.  Pseudo rebellion. No real cause, no real result.