Category Archives: Essay

LORD CHRIST, SAVE ME FROM THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “ENLIGHTENED”

LORD CHRIST, SAVE ME FROM THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “ENLIGHTENED”

I listened to her interview on the radio as well.

This about says it all: ““Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”

Oh my Lord Christ. No they haven’t and I don’t feel either uneasy or angry about anyone. Except for how they actually behave. The only people I’ve ever heard say tribal crap like this are liberals… who think they understand Conservatives… and secularists who think they understand Christians… and black liberals who think every decision made by someone else is first and foremost some kind of disguised and nefarious decision made about black liberals… or about blacks in general…

You’re so fucking elitistly hypocritical and disgustingly and backwardsly tribal you can’t even understand that you’re so fucking elitist and tribal that no one gives a shit what you think anymore. I’d just as soon see you abjectly weeping in your safe zone as running anything about this nation or the world.

I have kids to protect, and one day, grandchildren. I’m not interested in your “elevated navel-gazing,” or your petty race and class and sex and group sociological and self-sophisticated socialist obsessions. I’m not interested in your fucking race or class or sex or educational level and I’m both disgusted that you think I should spend all of my time thinking about them and repulsed by the fact that you’re so fucking petty that those things are your first, last, and middle thoughts. Fuck em all, your race, your sex, your class, your profession, and all of those pretentious petty tribal things can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned and as far as most people I know are concerned. So here’s a thought for you sunshine – you’re just a fucking modern pseudo-intellectual with no plans to achieve anything real or important in life so you waste yours obsessed with ideals of never-ending socialist dystopias and endless rounds of sensitivity training. Yeah, I’ll pass ladies. I’ve wasted more than enough of my time and life and resources on you.

No, I don’t want to “understand you.” No, I don’t want to be “understood by you.” I just want you out of my way and out of the way of my children and family and friends. Life is more important than you modern libbies. It’s more important than me too. I know you don’t understand either one of those things. That’s precisely why you are a pseudo-intellectual and a pre-programmed modern liberal. But guess what? I’ve reached the point where it doesn’t concern me in the least.

Nor do I need to be protected from my own values, beliefs, words, or thoughts. By any of you enlightened types.

I have absolutely no fear at all of what you think of me. Or anyone or anything else.

More to the point I could absolutely care less… I am completely apathetic to you. I don’t hate you, I don’t fear you, I simply don’t care.

I’ve outgrown you entirely.

I’ve moved on to far more important things than what you think about what I think.

And trust me, you have absolutely no idea of what I think.

About anyone or anything.

Review of “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” by Arlie Russell Hochschild

September 1

STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

By Arlie Russell Hochschild

The New Press. 369 pp. $27.95

The white working class is so hot right now.

When we look back on the 2016 presidential contest, we’ll recognize a moment when the beliefs and material conditions of low-income white Americans were deemed worthy of popular fascination, cable-news hits and nonstop cultural deconstruction. Are these people prejudiced or just frustrated? Economically victimized or culturally ostracized? Anti-elites or anti-everything? Let hot takes roll down like waters, and condescension like an everlasting stream.

Three new books, works that were set in motion long before Donald Trump declared his love for America’s poorly educated, try to go deeper, with varying success. “White Trash,” by historian Nancy Isenberg, explains how poor whites have been mistreated and disparaged over some 400 years, the blame for their plight invariably falling elsewhere. “Hillbilly Elegy,” by lawyer J.D. Vance, admonishes the poor to shape up and take responsibility for their fate; it’s less an elegy than an assault, though one bubble-wrapped in a bootstraps memoir of the author’s American Dream, from Appalachian destitution to the Gothic arches of Yale Law School. And now “Strangers in Their Own Land,” by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, is the latest and most frustrating of this trilogy.

Hochschild made 10 trips to southwestern Louisiana from 2011 to 2016, extended forays away from her perch at the University of California at Berkeley, to delve into her “keen interest in how life feels to people on the right — that is, in the emotion that underlies politics. To understand their emotions,” she writes, “I had to imagine myself in their shoes.” She interviewed some 60 people, including 40 professed tea party supporters, visiting their homes, communities and workplaces. It is the same technique Hochschild employed in “The Second Shift” (1989), a well-reviewed lookat how couples manage duties at home when both work outside of it. In this case, however, Hochschild arrives with so many preconceived ideas that they undercut the insight she claims to desire.

Hochschild preps for her conservative immersion by reading “Atlas Shrugged,” because we know tea party types are into that. “If Ayn Randappealed to them, I imagined, they’d probably be pretty selfish, tough, cold people, and I prepared for the worst,” this acclaimed sociologist writes. “But I was thankful to discover many warm, open people who were deeply charitable to those around them.”

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A revealing survey of the generation that could swing the vote in this election.

When she lands in Louisiana, Hochschild realizes, “I was definitely not in Berkeley, California. . . . No New York Times at the newsstand, almost no organic produce in grocery stores or farmers’ markets, no foreign films in movie houses, few small cars, fewer petite sizes in clothing stores, fewer pedestrians speaking foreign languages into cell phones — indeed, fewer pedestrians. There were fewer yellow Labradors and more pit bulls and bulldogs. Forget bicycle lanes, color-coded recycling bins, or solar panels on roofs. In some cafes, virtually everything on the menu was fried.”

Dear God, no yellow Labs or solar panels? How do you live?

Through Hochschild’s time in Lake Charles, La., and nearby cities and small towns, readers meet people who complicate our oversimplified “whither white America” moment. Especially memorable are Lee Sherman, who repaired pipes carrying lethal chemicals and drained toxic waste illegally into nearby waterways before becoming an environmentalist and, yes, a tea party supporter; and the Areno family, disagreeing over the benefits and risks of local industries, even as they watched turtles go blind and cows die from drinking polluted water. They are the strength of the book, yet Hochschild interrupts their stories to place everything in a formulaic big-picture context, a capitalized and italicized theory of the right. The author, we learn, hopes to scale the Empathy Wall and learn the Deep Story that can resolve the Great Paradox through a Keyhole Issue. These contrivances guide, and ruin, this book.

[“White Trash” — a cultural and political history of an American underclass]

“An empathy wall,” Hochschild lectures, “is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs.” The author has traveled to the South to conquer that wall, and she constantly refers to it. “As I was trying to climb this slippery empathy wall, a subversive thought occurred to me,” she says at one point. Or when she doesn’t quite get another person’s thinking, she feels “stuck way over on my side of the empathy wall.”

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Beyond the wall awaits the deep story. “A deep story is a feels-as-if story — it’s the story feelings tell, in the language of symbols,” Hochschild writes. “It removes judgment. It removes fact.” The deep story she unearths in Louisiana is that tea party supporters — “my Tea Party friends,” she always calls them, because only liberals rate pure, modifier-free friendship — see the American Dream as a line that they’re patiently waiting in, only to see others cut in front. “Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”

The deep story helps Hochschild unpack the great paradox: that is, why people living in a region with such poor economic, educational and health indicators — and Louisiana struggles in all of them — still support politicians who call for reducing federal help in those arenas. Hochschild peers at the paradox through a keyhole issue: environmental protection. “Everyone I talked to wanted a clean environment,” she writes, and she spends much of the book chronicling the harm the oil and gas industry has wrought in the area. We learn of the industrial contamination of the Bayou d’Inde waterway, where the Areno family lived for generations, and of the massive Bayou Corne Sinkhole, which swallowed up 37 acres as earthquakes and ooze emanated from the ground, thanks to the screw-ups of a Houston-based drilling company. So why rally for politicians who want to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency?

[A hillbilly’s plea to the white working class]

Turns out, many people Hochschild spoke to simply don’t trust environmental authorities, often with good reason. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources had known of the risks involved in Bayou Corne but had given out drilling permits anyway, Hochschild writes. She also describes the guidelines state health authorities had provided on how to eat contaminated fish. “Trimming the fat and skin on finfish, and removing the hepatopancreas from crabs, will reduce the amount of contaminants in the fish and shellfish,” they advised, featuring handy drawings of how to cut away the yucky parts.

When this is your experience of regulation, the great paradox loses greatness. But Hochschild continues her quest, concluding that tea party supporters grow to hate government because of religious faith, opposition to progressive taxes and the perceived “loss of honor” government imposes. She groups her tea party friends into reductionist categories that sound like they were dreamed up in the faculty lounge: the Team Players, loyal to business; the Worshippers, with their capacity for “meaningful renunciation,” forgoing clean lakes in exchange for steady employment; the Cowboys, who equate risky work with progress and scoff at wimpy regulators.

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Hochschild’s subjects are frustrated by the empowerment of new voices in American identity politics. “For the Tea Party around the country,” she writes, “the shifting moral qualifications for the American Dream had turned them into strangers in their own land, afraid, resentful, displaced, and dismissed by the very people who were, they felt, cutting in line.”

Then Hochschild attends a Trump rally in New Orleans, and it feels like a revival. “His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. . . . Joined together with others like themselves, they now feel hopeful, joyous, elated,” she writes. “As if magically lifted, they are no longer strangers in their own land.”

This may well be the mind-set of some Trump supporters; certainly, it is the candidate’s pitch. But it’s hard to entirely trust Hochschild’s conclusions. Early in the book, she notes how federal assistance for strengthening environmental protections, combating global warming and reducing homelessness faces a “closed door” on the right. “If we want government help in achieving any of these goals, I realized, we need to understand those who see government more as problem than solution,” she writes. “And so it was that I began my journey to the heart of the American right.”

“Strangers in Their Own Land,” then, is not an academic’s impartial effort to understand conservatives but rather a means to an end — an end toward which the writer regards conservatives as obstacles to overcome.

There’s a deep story for you.

Read more from Book Party, including:

A guided tour of American radicalism

The racism of good intentions

The wrong way to write about the rich and the poor

SOMETHING REALLY HELPFUL FOR THIS ELECTION SEASON

If you believe that you will advance or repair this nation, much less the world, merely by voting in the upcoming election (or in any election) then you are both an outright and ignorant fool and an intentional and unashamed coward.

Now, don’t misunderstand me – I am in no way discouraging you from voting. That is not my point.

But in a Republic (or even in something as degenerate and pointless as a mere democracy) voting is but a duty, it is never a Solution.

The reason your Republic, hell the reason this world, stands upon a precipice of self-destruction is not because of the people that you do or do not vote for (though every honest man has to know instinctively that you have created this shit-bed for yourselves based upon your relentlessly juvenile desire to “be led“), but this set of situations continues to exist primarily because of your own cowardice and lack of balls.

If long ago you had simply had the courage and the manhood to actually revolt against many of the things you have simply bent the knee to as half-men thralls and soiled fealty-serfs then you wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t have the “rulers” that plague you and your feckless and impotent generations.

By all means vote, for that is your duty as a Citizen and a Free Man in a Republic.

But do not confuse your duty with an Accomplishment or your obligations with an actual Solution.

Your desperate, degenerate, and unmanly inner cowardice and lack of revolt against widespread and persistent wrong had bred this pathetic state (I mean that both as your internal psychological state and as your political state) upon you, and it is one you richly and undeniably deserve.

And one that you will continue to deserve until you stand up again as Free Men and Free Women.

This nation and this world will not be “fixed” by Trump or Clinton or Johnson, or by any of your “elected officials.” It never has been and it never will be.

It will be fixed by you, if it can be fixed at all. Or put another way to the degree it can be fixed at all, by human effort – it will not be fixed by your “leaders.” For that requires no effort and no risk on your part.

Indeed the very idea that you so desperately “need” your leaders to fix things for you is the very reason you are so gutless, ineffectual, and degenerate in the first place.

Indeed if you only had the man-balls to revolt against the very idea that you need to be led and that someone in authority must act in your absent stead then you wouldn’t need to revolt against that idea, but since you lack the man-balls to revolt against that idea the one thing you most desperately need (personal courage) is beyond your effective reach.

See, it always works that way with cowardice (for that is the very nature of cowardice)… 

With courage, though, it just works.

I know you don’t get that, but you sure as hell need to. And pretty damned quick too.

So as this election approaches instead of merely electing something different, or, God forbid, yet another carious version of the same, how about you trying to be something different, and eschewing the same.

That would be really, really helpful. For once.

You know, you being the solution that you spend so much time whining and bitching and wishing that someone else would be… for you.

Like a real man or woman.

Like an Actual American.

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE – YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE TAILLIGHT OR THE WAY THE STOP WENT DOWN

 

I don’t suspect that either “side” (of the political argument anyway) is getting the taillight or the stop. So let me explain something that probably most of you aren’t understanding then. At least not a lot of you.

Yes, it’s possible the woman made up the story of the taillight, but equally possible, if not far more so, that is simply the reason the officer gave for the stop. That, if the kid was a suspect, you give a fake reason for stopping them in order to throw the guy off his guard and not arouse suspicion.

Rarely would you stop a guy, especially if you spot that there is a woman and a kid in the car, and say to them, “Excuse me sir, but you fit the profile and so does this vehicle involved in a recently committed crime. Mind if I talk to you for a minute so we can see if you are the actual perp?”

Game is over at that point. You can likely expect trouble. I mean who the hell does that? Yes, the black humorist in me would like to see it tried sometime but not around anyone else.

And yeah, the cop lied to you in a semi-believable way or a way he can fake later, “Yeah, well, from what I saw the light wasn’t functioning.” Big deal, he’s trying to defuse or cover or prevent a far more dangerous or even potentially deadly situation. Which I’ll get to in a minute.

What I would have said and done, had I been the officer, was this,

“Excuse me, sir or madam (whoever is driving, I’d have to rewatch the video but notice he approached the boy in either case) and I don’t know if you are aware of this or not but your license tag is missing. It’s possible it either fell off or was stolen. No, don’t get out of your car. I just want to know, do you know your license tag number or can you recite it for me?”

I’ve used that ploy myself to great effect and it confuses people and distracts them. Setting their mind to a task that occupies them. But then again I’m fifty something years old and this cop was apparently a rather young guy with 3 or 4 years on the force and his partner about the same. You can’t blame a man for being inexperienced. That alone is not a crime. Though sometimes it can be a disaster.

But in either case the cop likely used the broken taillight as a ploy for the stop. Then everything else went down.

I have no problem with the stop. Or the ploy, if that’s what the cop did and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that’s what he did. That’s not my complaint with this entire incident.

My complaint is with everything that follows.

Some of you are gonna think I’m anti-cop and some of you are gonna think I’m racist and so the hell what?

I’m not interested in either, I’m not either, and I don’t give a fuck what you think. None of that is germane. I am interested in solutions.

Let me tell you how I would have likely handled this and how most old timers would have handled this and without a shot being fired (unless the kid pulled a gun and started shooting, which you cannot control).

I would have told them both, “Your license tag is missing.” To occupy them. Then I would have filmed them all good with my body cam (an advantage of modern technology). If the guy informed me he had a gun and a permit I would have said, “Good, just wait on that please. No hurry.”

Seeing there was a kid (in case I hadn’t before) and a woman I’d have likely said, “You have a child in the car, you don’t want anything to happen to that child or to be stopped again. Do you?”

“No.”

“No, of course not. No one wants to endanger a child.”

“Do you two live together?”

Yes, or no.

“What are your addresses? Do you live nearby?” Get them without arousing suspicion and knowing they might or might not be true. But remember you still have the licenses and you still have the tags. Even if they don’t know that.

“Okay, go straight home and get this car and your child (even if it ain’t his kid you want him thinking that way about the kid) off the road. Someone else could pull you over.” (Remember you could be aware that there is a call out for the vehicle or the suspect, but they don’t necessarily know that.) “I’m gonna give you a warning ticket about the tag and if another officer pulls you over between here and home then show it to them. That will clear you, but go straight home, okay? Will you promise me that until we can recover your tag?”

Then I would have all I need for alter advantageous action and I’d send them on their way. I might even shadow them home but more than likely I’d just call it in and let everyone know what I did and for someone else to pick them up along the way or near their home(s). Once I could be sure the boy was safely separated from the child and woman then I could isolate and interrogate him and either verify or disprove he was the actual suspect.

Will they check their license tag on getting home? Maybe. If the boy does and he knows he’s a suspect then he might take off. Likely alone. Which is what you want. (Not necessarily policy wise, but practically and realistically.) If he has been properly shadowed or picked up he won’t get far and you won’t have to wait for long to pick him up at an advantage to you, and at a disadvantage to him. If he’s not the real suspect then you’ll just confuse him and the girl. No harm done. And again you can wait, observe, and possibly eliminate him as a suspect.

Either way your real effort is to get them separated. If he’s a suspect and isolated then the danger to everyone else is eliminated, if he is not a suspect then you either make up a story “It really looked like your tag was gone,” or you level with the guy. And apologize. And let him know why, “you fit a suspect description and so did your vehicle, but we’ve either been able to clear you or we caught the real suspect. I wanted you to know that because this could have gotten dangerous for you. And for us. I’m very glad it didn’t and hope this never happens again to you.” Then shake his hand.

Most of the time that satisfies most people. Even endears you to a few. Sometimes someone will file a complaint. But, and I don’t wanna sound syndical here but you know exactly what I mean, that beats the hell out of the paperwork and complaints you’ll receive for a shooting or for getting shot.

Point is, you don’t have to solve every possible criminal problem or engage every criminal suspect at first encounter unless of course you or someone else has found them in the commission of a crime. Or the suspect suddenly draws his own weapon and starts firing. Things you can’t control anyway.

Danger is not your real job as a police officer, it’s a perk (black humor again), and shooting and getting shot is not your real job as a cop, avoiding or deescalating danger and avoiding shooting and getting shot, and thereby resolving crime as peacefully as possible – that’s your real job. (Is that always possible, no, sadly, you understand real people too, but that is your aim and most of the time it can be done if you are craftier than the criminal or the public, and you should be craftier than both. Oh few people will say that out loud, because of modern political pussification, but it’s true. You want to be far smarter than either the criminals or the public to both defeat and destroy crime and to guard society, sometimes even from itself, without endangering the innocent.)

Now a lot of people will say by way of objection, “Well, our resources are already stretched too thin and we can’t afford to wait and to isolate.”

Of course you can. Don’t be absurd. Waiting and isolating is a hell of a lot cheaper and safer for everyone, including you (in the vast majority of cases) than facing lawsuits and riots and potshots at your fellow officers and mass murders attacks (I am not saying any of these things are actually justified, I am saying you likely will face them, and you know that if you are really honest with yourselves) and possibly getting civilians involved in a shooting. Shooting is the very last thing you want to do if you can possibly help it, but nowadays if an old woman with a knife is running around screaming, you just shoot her.

For God’s sake, think on that and think on how your grandfathers would have handled that.

You don’t, returning to the subject matter at hand, escalate a potentially dangerous situation around a woman and child. Even assuming you have a right to fire (and being a suspect does not make a man guilty and having a firearm – unless you are a convicted felon – is legal for everyone else or should be under our Constitution) bullets can hit bones or metal or other material and spin away and hit the woman or kid, or in a rush you can just plain miss.

And suspicion does not give you a right to fire.

And after you do fire and have severely injured a guy you immediately disarm him, clear the child and woman, and render assistance. You do not stand there with your weapon continually aimed at the guy as he bleeds out and dies.

There are lots of ways this could have been handled. Most all would have ended safely for everyone.

Now was this stop racism? Very, very unlikely that most any situation like this is racism. That’s ridiculous. It’s paranoia, is what it actually is. If it was racism or “systemic racism” then cops would be shooting sixty year old back guys and black women and little black kids, or whatever. They aren’t. They tend to shoot young black males because that is who is usually proven dangerous. After all young black males kill far more young black males than most cops ever will. (And you gotta be honest about that too.) But cops are paranoid of young black males precisely because, primarily in big city/heavily urban areas, they kill each other so often. Add that, to a cop’s already natural sense of paranoia and danger, not only abides for all, it multiplies and thrives.

And that’s fine and I get that, paranoia has on more than one occasion saved my ass. But paranoia and inexperience and the idea that you must be in a rush to resolve every dangerous or potentially dangerous situation has a bad side as well.

If you ask me, by studying this situation carefully, you can see how modern police training is going badly awry. Your training is all fucked up. Especially big city training. Well, most big city training anyway.

You gotta start being honest about that. Primarily, urban police officers, I mean.

You gotta start acting beyond your training and incorporating your own experience to your actions and reactions and listening to what your older officers and old timers do/did in tough situations, and listen to their stories.

You gotta stop being in such a rush and yeah, I know, if your superiors second guess you and think you have fucked up by letting a suspect walk (for the moment) they will give you hell and maybe even screw with your career. I know all of that shit. Your job sucks.

And yeah, I know you’re not racist, you’re paranoid. You’re stuck in a system, and an environment (just like most young decent blacks kids are) where the usual suspect and the usual perp of violent crime (and the usual victim) is a young black boy. That’s just Reality. So if you’re a cop, especially in certain areas, and you’re not paranoid, then you’re a fool.

But don’t let paranoia rule you (easier said than done, I know), don’t be in a rush, rely upon your training but don’t be hamstrung by it, add to it your experience and the experience of those around you, and remember a lot of problems, even those that seem immediately dangerous aren’t really if they are handled right. And given some time, thought, and pre-calculation.

(It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt for you to write down all of the tricks you’ve employed over time that worked out well, and all of the things you’ve done that haven’t worked and review those with yourself and your fellow officers from time to time. Screw policy when necessary, write down and think about and review what actually works. Lessons Learned. Keep your own records and notes on your own best techniques and the best techniques of those who do best.)

And remember that if you see a woman and a kid, assuming your suspect hasn’t already pulled a gun then he’s just a suspect and a lot of things can wait until the situation is to your advantage, and to the woman and kid’s advantage, not the suspect’s advantage.

And you owe people who are not criminals (especially when they are in or around potentially dangerous situations) respect even when they give you a hard time, and many will for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Most people are driven by their emotions at least some of the time. Everyone is from time to time. You know that better than most. You see it constantly.

And so for God’s sake be careful out there. I mean that in all of these potential senses, careful for yourself, careful of others, and careful for others. All are equally important but not all have to be serviced immediately and sometimes it is just plain better to wait, to observe, to qualify, and to understand before acting.

And for you civilians out there, especially you middle class blacks (and whites and others) who have lived basically sheltered lives but for whom the police may still be paranoid of you, they are paranoid by nature and as a result of the job (keeps them alive), not racist.

(At least not racist in the way you think at all. They are practical racists, if that is the real term or expresses the real idea. I know no one wants to hear that, even cops because they are not racists or bear ill-will against a race-group but they have “attached danger to the idea of young black males” primarily young black urban males because they have seen so many dangerous young black urban males. To that one group they are, rightfully or wrongly, extra-paranoid. You can call that racism if you like, I don’t, it should have its own term, and maybe I should devise one, but it’s not race-hatred, it’s an extra-heightened sense of danger and paranoia around a particular group of young black males born of experience, particularly those who live in certain areas.)

Nevertheless, and all of that being true, a police officer cannot rely upon suspicion and paranoia as a tool of interaction in working with the public. A police officer owes you respect especially if you are not engaged in crime or have no record. But cops have a heightened sense of suspicion and danger. Often to them suspect = convict or dangerous individual because they have seen it so much.

I wish there was a way I could magically wave a wand and resolve these situations for everyone involved or make everyone understand the other better.

But I can’t.

But I can say this, we can all do lot better. Cops, civilians, society, black, white, you name it. And we should all do lot better.

And criminals, for God’s sake, stop doing the shit you do.

There’s no future in it for you or anyone else. Without you being idiots and fools most of this shit would never happen. That’s the real answer to the vast majority of this mess.

Criminals, find and pursue a better way. You’re the real and by far the most prominent and dangerous problem.

Do I actually expect that? For criminals to suddenly grow a conscience and to change?

What the hell am I? Some kind of naïve modern man?

Not likely. But still, it’s what ought to be done.

 

Woman films shocking aftermath of police officer shooting her partner.

Warning: this post contains graphic footage. 

A shocking video shared live on Facebook by an African American woman whose partner was just shot four times by police has rocked the United States.

Having been pulled over for a broken tail light on Wednesday, Philandro Castile informed the police officer that he had a weapon in the car and a licence to carry before reaching for his wallet.

It was then that the officer opened fire, shooting Castile four times.

Castile’s partner, Diamond Reynolds and her four year old daughter watched on helplessly.

philandro castilePhilandro Castile in his last moments. Source: Diamond Reynolds / Youtube.

Within moments of Castile being shot, Reynolds began filming, live-streaming what was happening to Facebook, speaking to the camera and police officer intermittently.

“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Reynolds said to the camera.

Reynold’s four year old daughter offers comfort to her mother. Post continues… 

Play Video

Diamond Reynolds films Philando Castile.

Castile can be seen slumped between the front seats, his white t-shirt soaked with blood, his breathing slowing between cries of pain.

“I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it,” the St. Anthony police officer can be heard saying to Reynolds.

Following the arrival of more officers, Reynolds’ confronting footage continues, with her being forced to drop to the ground at one point.

The shooting of Castile comes following the death of Alton Sterling, another African American man shot dead by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

philandro castileDiamond Reynolds speaking to press following the shooting. Source: Youtube

“Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Reynolds says frantically. “He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Later, as Reynolds and her daughter are being loaded into a police vehicle, she again cries, “Please Jesus, no. Please no. Please no, don’t let him be gone.”

From out of shot, Reynolds daughter  can be heard saying, “it’s okay, I’m right here with you.”

Castile was pronounced dead at at Hennepin County Medical Center. He had no criminal record and was said to be well respected by co-workers and friends.

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THE ALPHA MALE – MAN AND WOLF

As I have always have told my wife, I stand alone when needed, in the front when necessary, and in the background when I’m superfluous.

I’m fine and happy with whatever is required, and however it shakes out… there’s only one thing I can’t stand to be – a sheep and a herd animal.


How to REALLY Be Alpha Like the Wolf

 alpha

Scroll through some young guy’s Tumblr or Instagram feed and you’re bound to find a picture of a menacing-looking wolf with blood around its chops or a lone wolf howling at the moon. Superimposed on this image is invariably a quote in big bold lettering — some kind of edgy, muscular platitude about ignoring your haters, striking out on your own, and dominating everyone in sight.

You know, being a straight up alpha wolf.

howl

The idea of there being alpha (and beta) wolves originated from Rudolph Schenkel of the University of Basel in Switzerland, who studied a pack of wolves living at a zoo in the 1940s. Schenkel observed that the wolves competed for status within their own sex, and that from these rivalries emerged a kind of “alpha pair” — a “lead wolf” that was the top male dog, and a “bitch” that was the top female dog.

Then in 1970, American scientist L. David Mech wrote a book called The Wolf, which expanded on Schenkel’s research and popularized the idea of alpha and beta wolves and the leader/subordinate social dynamic of wolf packs.

Both researchers described this dynamic as a competition for rank, with alphas being those who were domineering, aggressive, and violent, and used these qualities to fight off rivals to become the supreme leader of the pack.

Popular culture soon took this conception of the alpha wolf, along with the whole alpha vs beta distinction, and applied it to humans — especially men. Hence, the idea that to be an alpha male, you’ve got to take no prisoners, f*** s*** up each and every day, take what’s yours, and never say sorry.

There’s just one problem with this idea.

The research it’s based on turned out to be hugely flawed.

Below, we’ll explore the myth and reality of the alpha wolf. As we’ll see, looking to wolves for inspiration for human conduct can actually be useful and inspiring, but only if you’ve got a correct conception for what that behavior consists of. Here’s what it really means to be alpha like the wolf.

The Myth and Reality of the Alpha Wolf

For most of the 20th century, researchers believed that gray wolf packs formed each winter among independent and unrelated wolves that lived near each other. They had reached this conclusion from observing groups of wolves that had been taken from various zoos and thrown together in captivity.

Under these circumstances, researchers observed that wolves would organize the pack hierarchy based on physical aggression and dominance. The alpha male wolf, indeed, was the wolf that kicked ass and took names.

But then some researchers decided they should actually try to observe how pack formation happens in the wild.

Based on their studies on confined wolves, they thought they were going to see this:

wolf1

But were instead surprised to see this:

fam

Instead of forming packs of unrelated individuals, in which alphas compete to rise to the top, researchers discovered that wild wolf packs actually consist of little nuclear wolf families. Wolves are in fact a generally monogamous species, in which males and females pair off and mate for life. Together they form a pack that typically consists of 5-11 members — the mate pair plus their children, who stay with the pack until they’re about a year old, and then go off to secure their own mates and form their own packs.

The mate pair shares in the responsibility of leading their family and tending to their pups. In 21st century human terminology, they “co-parent.” And by virtue of being parents, and leading their “subordinate” children, the mates represent a pair of “alphas.” The alpha male, or papa wolf, sits at the top of the male hierarchy in the family and the alpha female, or mamma wolf, sits atop the female hierarchy in the family.

In other words, male alpha wolves don’t gain their status through aggression and the dominance of other males, but because the other wolves in the pack are his mate and kiddos. He’s the pack patriarch. The Pater Familias. Dear Old Dad.

And like any good family man, a male alpha wolf protects his family and treats them with kindness, generosity, and love.

After observing gray wolves in Yellowstone for more than twenty years, wolf researcher Richard McIntyre has rarely seen an alpha male wolf act aggressively towards his own pack. Instead, an alpha dad sticks around until his pups are fully matured. He hunts alone or with his mate and children to provide food for the family (and sometimes waits for them to get their fill before he digs in himself), roughhouses with his pups (and gets a kick out of letting them win), and even goes out of his way to tend to the runts of his pack.

This isn’t to say male alpha wolves are all cuddles and kisses. They’re of course fierce predators, and can take down large prey like moose and bison. And when his family is threatened by outside enemies and competitors, the alpha male will fiercely defend it — sometimes sacrificing his own life to save his mate and pups.

This also isn’t to say male wolves don’t sometimes engage in displays of social dominance. Mature male wolves do have dominance encounters with other male wolves – fathers will stand up to a stranger alpha, or sometimes show their own kids who’s boss, and an older wolf brother will demonstrate his superiority to his little wolf bro.

So an alpha wolf can indeed be violent and assertive when the situation calls for it. Yet for the most part, he leads not with noisy brashness and teeth-bared aggression, but steady strength, mettle, and heart; as McIntyre told another wolf researcher:

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”

After learning how wolves actually form packs, researchers like L. David Mech retracted their original theory of alpha wolves and now eschew terms like “alpha male” or “alpha female” altogether when describing wolf hierarchy, instead preferring to classify the leader wolves as “breeding males” and “breeding females.”

Unfortunately, the old conception has stuck around, and many men today have a mistaken notion of what it means to harness your inner alpha wolf. The reality of being an alpha is truly much more multi-faceted, and even more inspiring.

Making the Wolf Your Totem Animal of Manhood

wolf

I love the idea of animal totems, or at least finding inspiration from animals on how a man should live his life. Animals can serve as powerful symbols to us humans. The symbols become all the more powerful and meaningful when we have a correct understanding of how the animal actually behaves.

The gray wolf’s proclivity to roam and its prowess as a predator has for thousands of years made it a powerful symbol of the warrior, and of the freedom, wildness, and ferocity of masculinity. But that’s just one side of the wolf, and one side of what it means to be a man.

Yes, alpha male wolves are wild, aggressive, and savage. But they’re also protective, nurturing, and tender.

So if you want to truly become alpha like a wolf, you’ll need to do more than become a beast in the gym, and strive to overcome your competitors. You’ll also need to become a committed and dedicated family man — a loving and protective father.

While I’ve always loved wolves and their wildness, after learning more about the nuances of their social dynamics, I’ve fallen in love with them even more. The wolf is a nearly perfect symbol of the ideal of masculinity that I’m trying to get across here at Art of Manliness. Like alpha wolves, I want to see men who tackle life’s adventure with their mates by their side, and lead their families with heart and strength. I want to see men who have the ability to marshal the hard tactical virtues of masculinity when needed against external threats, but temper that ferocity with softer virtues like compassion and gentleness, particularly towards those they love.

In short, the male alpha wolf is the totem animal of the Gentleman Barbarian.

So by all means, continue sharing your savage wolf memes on Instagram and Tumblr. Wolves are awesome. But know that gray wolves howl to assemble their mate and pups before and after a hunt, to warn them of danger, and to locate each other during a storm, when traversing unfamiliar territory, or when separated over a great distance. It’s the call not of the angry, antisocial lone wolf, but of a father who’s leading, guiding, and lovingly gathering his pack.

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

The Following is an essay I wrote a few weeks back but never had the chance to post for various reasons.  I plan to rework it and include it (or at least the ideas expressed on Theurgy and Thaumaturgy) as part of my new book The Christian Wizard.

____________________________________

We had a rough day today. In one sense at least. Pretty astounding day in others. As it also led me to understand some things I’ve been struggling with for months now.

It began in this fashion. The girls took Alex in to the vet to get neutered and discovered he had both cat leukemia and cat AIDS. Didn’t even know there was a cat AIDS. So we had to put him down.

 I know he’s only a cat, but I have over time grown quite attached to him. Matter of fact I love him. Vets said he must have been in tremendous pain and should have been tired all of the time, but he wasn’t. Like me he seems to have had an incredible tolerance for pain. As far as energy, the cat was a dynamo.

I detest death however. Especially death of the young. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Death, who I consider to be an Old Friend, and quite kind. It’s the being separated from those you love, even if it’s just a pet that I detest. That part of death. What I call the little death. The loss of the companionship in this world.

On the other hand he (Alex) lived exactly as he wished. The vet said that given the progression of the AIDS it looked like he had sex with a lot of female cats, and he fought and got tore up a lot too. He lived completely free and as he wished. 3 years of wildcatting. He truly was a Viking cat.

Also he was an extremely intelligent and affectionate cat (though I did have to nearly shoot him once to get him straightened out – after that though he was a doll), he just also happened to be huge, adventurous, and reckless as hell. And absolutely fearless.

So although I am sad, my whole family is sad, I am not grieving at all. We had a big celebratory dinner for him tonight and a drinking salute. He’s also going straight into my children’s book The Viking Cats. Actually he was already there, but now I know the heroic death he will have.

Strangely enough his death gave me great reason for optimism and led me to finally and fully grasp an idea of Wizardry, Magic, and God I have been struggling to fully formulate but now I can. At least for the most part.

As some of you know I’ve been studying Advanced Wizardry by ben Abechai. And the Original New Testament, and making my own line by line and word by word translations of both the Old and New Testaments. And so now I’m going to say something that might seem strange, but I’m becoming more and more convinced of it, from both the Old and New Testaments. Reincarnation is real.

Oh, I don’t at all draw the same conclusions as the Indians do, nor do I think it operates in the Hinduistic, and certainly not the Buddhist sense. And it seems extremely rare, I can only find about four instances of it ever being directly and openly mentioned in the Bible, though there are other allusions, but it is there. And it does not seem to work as a universal constant nor does there seem to be anything like a “karmic” inclination to the process. And I’m not sure how it works. It’s too vaguely described. In Hinduism it is thought the soul reincarnates, in Buddhism merely the “impression” or personality (Buddha was both an atheist and a non-spiritualist). In the Bible I don’t see that, but rather what the Hebrews might call the “spirit.” In that very limited sense I think Alex may very well return to us.

(Other things I have become convinced of in my studies are these:  Heaven is at least as big as the physical universe itself, and probably much larger, though concepts like time and space as we know them are utterly meaningless there. That Heaven is filled with Beings and creatures we can’t even imagine or yet begin to imagine, and that nothing ever really dies. Spirits and souls cannot be fully destroyed – though they can be amplified or corrupted and diminished – anymore than matter or energy can be created or destroyed. There is a conservation principle of spiritual and psychological existence similar to, or far more stable than, the conservation principles in our universe of matter and energy. If nothing else everything is retained within the intelligence and memory of God – though neither term is really accurate because the intelligence and memory of God goes well beyond anything we can conceive of with such terminology, and therefor it is simply not possible to erase any viable living, biological, spiritual, or psychological pattern of existence once it is established. And such patterns may lie buried in the “Mind of God” as nothing more than mere potential for what would seem to us an eternity – if it is even possible for the mind of God to be mere potential – I doubt it – but it is never actually erased or destroyed. In other words God never forgets. So nothing ever really dies, it simply changes form in regards to our universe and the kinetic pattern prevalent at the moment it physically exists. So Alex is no more “dead” than I am, though his body has suffered the little death – in relation to me and this world at least. In reality he is no more dead than I am and never will be and as far as I know he may one day be alive again in relation to this world and to me. Though wherever Alex is, and whatever world he inhabits, he lives.)  

But now on to what Alex’s death made me realize about Magic. Now when modern people say magic their mind instantly springs to Harry Potter and making things happen by some unknown agency or invisible force (I think the invisible force part is partially accurate) but that is not how the Magi would have viewed magic at all (they wouldn’t have viewed what they did as magic in our sense, period) but rather Magic, or Magiaesm (the etymology of the real word) involved simply understanding the way the forces of existence actually operate, how, and for what reasons. (And optimally knowing why, though that’s as far beyond Real Magic as it is beyond Real Science, because ultimately, only God actually knows the why). The Magi of course would have called this Magic (though they used a different term), but it wouldn’t have meant some unknown agency. They knew very well the Agency. Just as I do. But because the word Magic now has thousands of years of misapplication and skewed definitions attached to it I’ll use the Greek word I prefer: Theurgy.

Theurgy simply means “a working of God,” or before Judeo/Christian influence upon the Hellenes, “a working of the gods.” But Theurgy really flowered among the early Christians and later the Neo-Platonists and meant a “Working of God.” And although they could be amazing, they were essentially a “little working of God.”

The Greeks had a much, much larger word for what we would call a Miracle, and they would have called a “Wonder-Work of God,” namely, the word Thaumaturgy.  These were huge works of God. Now I had already come to this conclusion and used these definitions on my own. But Alex’s death, along with these studies, has helped me make the final step to what all of this really means. Let me illustrate. Theurgy is a small or little work of God. What do I mean by little work of God? I mean a work of God that is small in scale, not small in meaning, purpose, or targeted effect.

For instance if Jesus healed a blind man that would be Theurgical, and many at that time would consider it “magical.” Look at all of Jesus’ healing miracles and you will see a technique, even if it is only a declarative stamen “Go your way, your daughter is healed.” Here is another prime example. To pay a tax Jesus tells someone to go catch a fish and they will find a coin in its mouth. Even many people today would call that bordering more on magic than miracle. It’s Theurgical. It’s a small work of seeming unknown agency. Of course we know the actual agency but it seems magical. It seems like it shouldn’t be there and that the coin was “conjured” from nothing. Nothing could be less true, but that’s how it looks. Now to anyone witnessing these things, they are “magical” and they are also small in nature. They are not Earth shattering, they are amazing, but not wholly miraculous. As in utterly Miraculous. It’s Theurgy. A Work of God but on a small scale. It’s not  a small scale to the man being cured of blindness, to him it is miraculous and earth-shattering, but to those who are not blind it is astounding and amazing but not “Earth-Shattering.” Another thing about Theurgy is that it is replicable. It can be done over and over again and not just by Jesus, but in some cases the Prophets, like Elijah, or the Magi, can do it. Or even pagan Egyptian priests. Jesus could heal, and cast out demons, and do things of that nature over and over and over again, within reason – he also had to rest. Then again so could many of the the Prophets. Impressive Works of God, true, but relatively small scale and of a subjective and personal nature. I term Works like this Theurgy, or Magiaesm. If you think on a scale then they are smaller Works of God, at the very genesis (excuse the pun) of the Works Scale. They are the province not only of Prophets and of Jesus but also of Magi and Wizards. And much of their power, faculties, and force lies in understanding the way God has set up things to Work and how existence actually operates. In some ways they are proto-science, in some ways science, in some ways psychological, and in some ways metaphysical. They are small Magic, they are Wizardry.

What about things like feeding 5000 with very little food and still having leftovers. Things like that lie right on the line between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy. So now I guess I should better define Thaumaturgy.

Thaumaturgy is a Great Work of God in the sense that it involves a large number of people, is seemingly impossible (nevertheless it happens) and is totally unique and not replicable. This is real Thaumaturgy – Moses parts the Red Sea (it’s only happened once and has never been replicated), Jesus walks on water, Christ is resurrected (not a general resurrection, which will also be a single once ever event, but he is resurrected as a single individual foreshadowing the general resurrection), and so forth and so on.   If a Work of God is large scale, has a profound effect upon a large number of people or witnesses, is seemingly impossible, is not replicable, and is a totally unique event, then it is True Thaumaturgy. A Wonder Working. A one of a kind, non-replicable event. Unique in world history. Thaumaturgy is also always absolutely intentional. What we in English would call a Miracle, capital M. Thaumaturgy is a large-scale Work of God that only agents like Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles, and The Saints are able to trigger.  

(I know that in English, being a very spiritually impoverished language, we call all unusual works of God Miracles, but Resurrection, that is a True Miracle, is a non-replicable Wonder, whereas predicting that a fish will have a coin in its mouth, although amazing to a degree, that is Theurgy, or what our ancestors would have called Magic, or Magiaesm. Even a stage magician would do it if properly prepared.)

Theurgy on the other hand is a smaller scale Work of God that is replicable, is subjective, targeted to a rather small or tactical problem or issue, has a profound effect upon individual recipients but merely fascinates most witnesses, seems amazing but not impossible, and can be astounding, but is not unique. Theurgy can be worked by many agents of God, intentionally or unintentionally, such as by Wizards and Wise Men and Women of all kinds, Magi, Scientists, or sometimes simply by what we might call Experts or really experienced men, or even by nearly anyone given the proper set of conditions or circumstances or the necessary emergency or contingency.

(Sorcery on the other hand is not a Work of God at all, but is a cheap imitation of either Theurgy or Thaumaturgy designed to harm or to do evil. It is the very opposite of Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and is evil’s attempt at imitating a Work of God, for purely selfish and self-aggrandizing motives, be that work small scale or large scale. The ultimate end of sorcery is not to understand, nor to assist, nor to do good, but to control, to tyrannize, and to harm.)

Well, I could go on for a very long time in this vein but I’m sure by now you more than get the point. Anyway, today Alex’s little death, my recent studies, and all of the things surrounding these events have led me to fully understand these things. And now I can fully define the differences and similarities between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and now I am that much closer to understanding Magic. By that I mean Real Magic (which is just  a short hand Oriental way of saying both Theurgy and Thaumaturgy, or what we in English would altogether call Miracles, though that’s not really an accurate term). 

Or perhaps I would do better to say, “Wonder-Working.” Or unusual and wondrous Works of God that man directly participates in. Well, I should go to bed now. I tire and I am written out. But I go to bed convinced that I shall again see Alex, and perhaps soon, either in this world or in Heaven or in some other world. And not just him but everyone I have ever buried and wish to see again, person or animal. But in any case I intend to pray that Alex is returned to us, reincarnated if you will, though I think that probably a very primitive and inaccurate term for what I actually mean and how it actually works, which I make no claims to explaining. Because I no more know the real mechanism(s) than I know the mechanism(s) by which God transforms inanimate matter to animate matter.  But he’s done it and obviously knows his stuff. Somethings it is okay just to know that it does Work, you don’t have to know how it actually Works. And something’s no man will ever know how it truly Works.

However I will not pray or request of God that any person ever be returned to me, as in returned to me in this world, even if such a thing were possible. That would just not be Wise. People are free to make their own decisions about what world God allows them to inhabit (unless they have chosen hell, and I am firmly convinced some do and that God lets them) and I have neither the right nor the power to even request they give up whatever world they are enjoying merely to be in my company again. Besides I don’t think it works like that with people anymore than it works like that for angels, and besides there will be plenty of time for me to enjoy their company in a better world. I have no right to attempt to bind people to me in this world or in any other merely for my own benefit.

But maybe that would work for animals. Maybe that is how God made animals. Or at least some animals. As companions for people and the world they inhabit is really unimportant. I truly don’t know. But I’m gonna make the attempt (if it’s impossible it won’t happen anyway, will it?), pray that if it is possible, and if Alex so desires (for all I know God gives them a choice as well) and so chooses he will “reincarnate” (whatever that really means and however it really works) and return to us.

Still adventurous and affectionate and intelligent and exploratory in nature, just not nearly so reckless. And I’ll whack his balls off pretty quick too, if he does return. For his own good and to preserve him from disease and early death. I hate that, but if he is to long survive this world it may be necessary.  

Anyway I go to bed very happy, still sad we parted in this way, but happy, and with what I suspect is a much better understanding of my old friend Death, and I suspect even with a better understanding of God and how the universe actually works. So see ya and hope all goes well for you.

And may Wonders abound around you.

No matter what world you inhabit.

There is but one way to advise – by example.

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