Monday, March 20, 2017

Wherein Luke Ford and I discuss relations between women and men, Jews and Gentiles, cats and people, etc...

Monday, March 06, 2017

Zombie Justice and Middlebury

Aside from being an honest and exemplary researcher and author with invaluable insight, Charles Murray has done everything right. He's played by the rules. He opposed Donald Trump for all the right reasons; his opposition has been unrelenting. According to one of his tweets he was opposed to Donald Trump before he was born, or before Trump was born; I don't recall. Whatever the case Charles Murray has declared himself Oceania to Donald Trump's racist Eastasia.
He opposes Trump despite the fact--not lost on his tormentors--that Donald Trump is the only candidate to seriously address the social and economic degradations Murray has waged a lonely lifetime campaign documenting.

Not good enough.

At least no longer. Before Donald Trump it would have been enough to condemn Donald Trump. And condemnation of Trump is a shibboleth for passing the gates of respectability. But the election has expanded the Pale of political correctness, not just by including all Trump voters as white nationalists, but by netting all of them in a web of intersectionality, whereby they are guilty of all trangsressions against the progressive order. Not just racism and "Islamophobia", but sexism, "transphobia" and, new one, Russo-philia. Trumpism is the sin that contains all sins.

Can't say they're wrong. These pieties make up an integral whole. What holds them together--whether it makes sense, is good or bad--is beside the point. They reign, and, before Trump, reigned with sleeping confidence. We see that in the panic and chaos that's accompanied its waking. There are a great many, and many of them young, among Trump supporters who see and oppose the same whole. My racism is related to my transphobia for the same reasons it is in the minds of my opponents: I see anti-racism and trans rights as separate fronts in the same war.

Before Trump Murray had established a sort of detente with the opposition, whereby he was allowed to speak and, more importantly, others were able to hear him, as long he submitted to a sort of heckler's qualifier:

Absent an adequate disciplinary response, I fear that the Middlebury episode could become an inflection point. In the twenty-three years since The Bell Curve was published, I have had considerable experience with campus protests. Until last Thursday, all of the ones involving me have been as carefully scripted as kabuki: The college administration meets with the organizers of the protest and ground rules are agreed upon. The protesters have so many minutes to do such and such. It is agreed that after the allotted time, they will leave or desist. These negotiated agreements have always worked. At least a couple of dozen times, I have been able to give my lecture to an attentive (or at least quiet) audience despite an organized protest.

The condemnations of his work as "racist" were always about assertion in the The Bell Curve. But as transgressions go it was the Big One, the Ground Zero of political and cultural sin, leveled against a group that is the original model and well-worn template of the ever-growing complex of hierarchical victim identities, by which our notions of racial equality are still measured and judged: black America. The sanctity of black intellectual equality with and moral superiority (as evidenced by their lack of material equality) over white America will not be questioned.
It makes cynical sense that each new group added to the hierarchy of grievance should adopt the template that's worked so well for black Americans. It works. And it's destroying us. That Islam is a "religion of peace" will not be questioned. That there are an infinite number of genders will not be questioned.

But Murray's distanced himself as much as he can from those conclusions and he has done everything expected of him by his detractors: he downplayed the significance of those findings, he's ignored the implications and opposes any political movement that frankly acknowledges them. Not good enough. His first, cardinal sin--doing honest scholarship--cannot be erased by the venal sins of prevarication and silence in the face of catastrophe.

And Murray's detractors are right. It isn't enough for Charles Murray to genuflect. It isn't enough for him to ignore his own findings, findings for which he's already paid a price in appeasing their long fury. If it's the progressives who want to hold Murray to account so be it. There's no one else to do it.

It's not fair. It's never been fair. Charles Murray should have been allowed to publish his work without calumny. His invaluable contributions to our understanding--The Bell Curve outlined for us years ago the economic stratification that lead to the Donald Trump revolution-- For this he's been pilloried, contained and now driven from public. So to lament that interregnum between stages of physical insecurity, to detest me, to detest Donald Trump more than the mindless, mentally disturbed thugs who silence you is, now that things have changed, not good enough, Professor Murray.

Berkeley

Amazing raw video of the last stand of free speech at Berkeley (I think the "Free Speech" sign the counter-protesters captured goes up in flames at about 35 minutes) yesterday.

I didn't know what to make of the police tactics. Here they're like a school of fish massing outside of two larger ones. But I watched it all the way through and noticed the two arrests recorded near the end are of the two most aggressive counter-demonstrators from earlier in the recording--the guy in the green cap even starts in on one of the white SJWs alongside at one point. Intimidating black ghetto types seem destined to play a role in the street tactics of the revolution.

 
Deplorable News Network

Friday, March 03, 2017

Still Life and Live Painting

"Is that the Whiskey Bar back there?" I asked the only other guy to turn up at the wrought iron gate leading to an alley behind the bar I'd found locked earlier.

"Yeah. You don't go in this way though. The front doors open at ten."

"I see."

Someone had told me the event began at nine, so arriving a half hour late to convey a casual attitude was now arriving a half hour early, conveying the bored desperation of a loner, or revealing it, if you want the truth.

We talked for a bit; he seemed to take me for just another regular or would-be regular. Doesn't he see how old I am? Probably, but not just how old. But one thing about Portland, it's less weird here for someone my age to show up at a club. At least I think so, and have been told as much; I haven't any real frame of reference. I hadn't been out to a proper nightclub in over a decade, I surmised.

"Wednesdays are a little weird." He said.

"I don't know. A friend of a friend is doing some thing here, so I came out. I thought it started at nine."

Turned out he was one of the artists for the live-painting event.

"So you know Tasha, then?"

"A friend of hers from work. I've never been here before." I don't know why I felt the need to explain myself.

Another guy showed up, a friend of the first. He immediately starts in about his new tattoo, a calf-job under a sheen of Vaseline. He doesn't know how many tattoos he has. Maybe forty. More and more people claim to have lost count.

"I have no ink." I confess at some point. I've been talking to the second guy as if I belong here--he has no idea who I am and takes it for granted. Turns out he's another one of the artists; he's the third. I help him carry his stuff--an unremarkable pattern on a canvas with which I assume he's going to do something interesting, some effect-lights, materials. I skip the cover charge by playing roadie like this.

"You need a stamp." The first artist said, just after I had decided I would go back up front and do this, and that it would be a good move, for which I would now get no credit.

He doesn't know how to take me, I can tell. No one does. But I'm more at ease having established rapport already, and with two of the performers, such as they were. The place is nearly empty, and that's just as well, too; the music is typical current club dance music, which I have no ability to categorize. Even when I stayed current with electronic music years ago I could not, would not, bring myself up to speed on the categories. I could not tell jungle from house, and still can't. Drum and bass is easy enough, though I don't really understand that it's all built around the "amen chorus". I recognize it when I hear it. The music is as seductive as it is idiotic, throbbing through the empty club.

About a half hour in the turnout was looking to be poor for the night. A pair in animal pajamas danced at one end of the floor, a guy who looked to be in his thirties, wearing a warm-up jacket is doing break-dance moves at the other.

The friend who invited me showed up. She's young, very young. Immediately it's awkward. I had expected a full house: I would see her, maybe not right away, we'd chat a little and that would be it. I would see her a couple of times more in the evening, have the friendly, shallow exchange I was good at, and that would be it. Now, here I am, having arrived early, the place is empty and she can't escape me, maybe she didn't even expect me to show up in the first place. To top it off I went in for a hug, that she did not intend, awkwardly and all but forcing it on her, spilling my beer in the process. I feel compelled to mention the awkwardness. But it's okay. I tell her I've been hanging out with the artists, maybe that will help. It's okay. I'm not a stalker! I'm not a weirdo! She shuffles off with an apologetic air.

Later I see her at the bar and recover somewhat. It's all like a journey back in time; nothing has changed from the days when all this meant something. Nothing is on the line now--I'm just trying to get out of the house--but it feels more fraught than ever. Just like years ago, in my head it's a campaign of reverses, advances, uncertain meanings, like a war with an opponent who may not even care that one's being waged. Nothing changes, even after everything has changed.

The friend of a friend shows up later--I do not know her well--and there's a quick embrace. She sees it; good, see, I'm not a stalker! I'm not a weirdo! I just don't know how to act. I never learned how to act--that is I don't know how to behave--I'm acting all the time, even when I'm alone. Was it still the goal--was it ever the goal--behind all of this, "going out", meeting people, love, sex, relationships, that one should meet someone with whom they no longer had to act? Or was it just me? I don't think I had even the good sense to pursue that hopeless goal with real conviction. If it happened, it happened, I thought, as I thought about everything else. Whatever the case, I never found it.

The first two artists made desultory and indistinguishable changes to the mostly complete canvases they brought in; there was no relation to the music. I had seen something years ago on television where a guy did a quick painting of Jimi Hendrix to a playing of some Hendrix standard (probably "Purple Haze"); by the time the song's over he's finished. I had thought this would be something like that, gimmicky as it was it would be worth seeing. Tasha does much better, opening up a sketch book and improvising ink-drawings from scratch, showing more talent and imagination than the other two.

The place never filled up, but that's okay; I got to talk to a young beautiful woman for much of the night. It's also okay she had nothing better to do and I served as a sort of backstop to a disappointing evening. She tells me all about herself, the way people do to half-strangers; I don't know. I'm consumed with how I'm perceived by everyone, right now it's this person who in a few short months will be gone from my life like countless other people I never really got to know. They so outnumber the true intimates, who are so few and precious, that any single one of them--this charming, beautiful, messed up kid whose only interest for me lies in this selfish need--feels like a dread weight I can no longer carry. I wonder if this is cause or effect of my solitary life.

 She invited me to hang out with some of the other youngsters after, but I thought it would be better to quit while I was ahead. Later I excused myself and fumbled the goodnight, just as I fumbled the hello, knowing the quick hug was probably out, but the awareness of it was there in the air. I don't even like the quick hug routine so much--I just don't know how to act.

I spent the next day in a typical psychological funk--a day shorter than last time--ruminating over how I came off, how pathetic it is that I care, how it probably means nothing to these other people whose image of me is so important and so meaningless at the same time. Plus ca change.

But I will get out of the house more, and drink less.

 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Punk and Politics

I was at the bar at Kelly's Olympian in downtown Portland for three pints of Irish stout before I realized the leftist fundraiser in the next room was already in progress. Unaware of the live show annex next door, I had thought they were going to set up somewhere in the back of the bar. Why I didn't take note of the muffled, loud, obviously live music coming through the wall is just my oblivious nature. I walk about in a bubble; my consciousness barely extends beyond arm's reach even, or especially, when I'm out. But I still long to get out, even if only to trade escaping myself for escaping other people. Sometimes you long to be alone in the midst of the crowd, if only to fool yourself that you're not really alone.

On the televisions at the bar it's all sports, you wouldn't even know it was Oscar night. I'm in that awkward limbo of waiting for someone and feeling as if I need to justify my presence to people who are barely taking notice of me. The bar is unpretentious enough. Occasionally I can't help but look at the television in front of me showing professional basketball. The players look more alien than ever, radiating the same dull and sullen hostility I recall, and though I can't hear it, I know the announcer's repartee is an incongruous, oblivious counterpart of white earnest cluelessness. Baseball is available at the other end of the bar for a dignified alternative, but I'm intent on not sitting here watching television, so I keep looking around, looking to the door, smiling at the waitresses.

After figuring out the show was already in progress I waited through a few more songs before seeking it out. The show was almost over so the Nice White Lady at the door waved me in.
I went inside to find a tight middle-aged punk band playing for maybe a dozen people. They later claimed to have raised a couple hundred for the ACLU.

The angry refrain: "our town", presumably intended for Donald Trump and reactionaries like me, makes the only discernible lyric. I imagine the song might as easily as not be something from their past initially intended to parody the territorialism of working class whites, now being repurposed to rage against the intrusion of Trump and his working class white support.

Territorialism is very much a feature of the politics and culture of the city now. I'm welcome as long as I keep my mouth, mostly, shut. But that's okay. I'm not a proselyte. I'm a witness.

Tonight it's a "live painting" at the Whiskey Bar. Should be interesting.