mythopoeia

#DimensionSteve (Just Another Day)

#wellduh | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 1, 'FLCL'.

From the mixed up files of Steve Benen:

#somethingterrific: “They’re ready, and arguably eager, to break their commitments, but they’re reluctant to talk about it.”

#artofthedeal: “It’s apparently Team Trump’s way of effectively saying, ‘Remember, we can re-take this hostage again at some point.'”

#ruleoflaw: “When a president with autocratic tendencies goes after courts for upholding the law, repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of decisions that go against him, it should make Americans a little nervous.”

#wellduh: “Never mind the incompetent failures, marvel at the ‘robust agenda of activity.'”

#wellduh: “Apparently, however, some took Team Trump’s rhetoric quite literally and reportedly started calling the hotline to report crimes committed by aliens—as in, extra-terrestrials.”

#wellduh: “What he refuses to appreciate is the fact that an American president says something, the world notices.”

#wellduh: “A woman in North Carolina illegally voted for Trump last year, casting a ballot in her dead mother’s name. A local Republican prosecutor has decided not to bring charges.”

#compromise: “But what’s striking to me is how much the larger conversation has changed since Obama left office.”

#wellduh: “We’re occasionally reminded that Sean Spicer isn’t great at his job”.

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The Myth of Donald (Propacanada)

#trumpswindle | #mythopoesis

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

Who: HealthCarewatcher (Daily Kos)
What: “CNN Just Reported Fake News on Justin Trudeau as Fact”
When: 15 November 2016

Via Daily Kos:

It has arrived. Nutty right wing propaganda has now been reported as fact on CNN. While watching Anderson Cooper 360, they did a story on World Leaders response to Trump. They reported as fact the following claim:

“Canadian President Justin Trudeau had called for a ban on Trump.”

First of all, Canada doesn’t have a President. It has a Prime Minister. I’ve followed Justin Trudeau because I’m really interested in Canadian politics. I really admire the Prime Minister. During the campaign to become Prime Minister, he eloquently said, “Conservatives aren’t our enemies, they’re our neighbors,” so I thought this smelled fishy. I googled this and found that CNN had plagiarized from a fake news site and reported it as fact.

A couple notes probably go here: First, this is hardly the beginning of the Trump Ministry of Propaganda; news organizations do occasionally fall for fake news. To the other, we can think what we want of CNN pulling from Hot Global News. And for whatever excuse CNN and other organizations might give, it seems especially important to pay a bit more attention to source credibility, because we are clearly in a time when falsehood can triumph simply for the fact of making Americans feel better about themselves. That is to say, sure, debunk all you want, but we will hear about this again from some passionate, (ahem!) well-informed advocate who apparently has no idea what is going on. (Never mind that last; the consequences of passionately dedicated ignorance is an inside joke that will, someday soon, and by the fortunes of the Trump administration, become rather quite relevant.)

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The Carcharodon, Leapt

Credit: Reuters/Junko Kimura-Matsumoto/HBO/Salon

Oh, for ....

In the first three books of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (and four seasons of the show),

Tyrion has a trajectory that might sound awfully familiar to Obama: He’s a bright and charming man who is nonetheless looked down upon by people who are a lot stupider than he is because they are prejudiced against people who look like him. Despite these obstacles, Tyrion rises high in government, taking on the highest executive office in Westeros, with the title of the Hand of the King. His job as the executive is to rein in an economic crisis as well as deal with an unnecessary war, all while trying to manage a bratty king named Joffrey.

Tyrion does an excellent, if imperfect job, despite these overwhelming circumstances, helping stave off an invasion and deal with other political crises. Despite his hard work and many successes, many in the kingdom continue to hate Tyrion irrationally, calling him a “demon monkey” and blaming him for catastrophes brought on by the king, catastrophes that Tyrion has actually gone out of his way to fix. In the end, this public’s desire to scapegoat him leads to Tyrion’s downfall, as he is blamed for the king’s murder, which he didn’t commit, and has to escape unjust execution under the cover of darkness.

If you substitute “the president” for “Hand of the King,” “the Republicans” for “King Joffrey,” and “secretly born in Kenya” for “demon monkey,” the parallels between Tyrion and Obama are downright startling. Like Tyrion, Obama walked into office with a military crisis and an economic disaster on his hands. Like Tyrion, his efforts to fix things get stymied at every turn by forces that oppose him for political reasons. Like Tyrion, he had a major military victory (killing Osama bin Laden) and domestic victories that prevented suffering, but many refuse to give him credit. Like Tyrion, Obama gets blamed by huge numbers of people who have preexisting prejudices about him, who would rather blame someone they irrationally hate than the truly guilty parties.

It is not so much a question of whether Amanda Marcotte is right or wrong; rather, it is simply a matter of, “Oh, come on!”

And it is true that societies witness and take part in transformations of myth, occasionally retiring one here or there while scrabbling perpetually to create new ones. As Barkerα reminds, nothing ever begins. History, meanwhile, will eventually show this particular mythopoeic play more a question of waterskiing in a leather jacket.

Well, you know, if history bothers noticing this one at all.

This is an important question: If life imitates art so much that we shape our decisions in order to create and align mythopoeia that, circularly, it reflects and reinforces itself, at what point have leapt the carcharodon?

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Overdue

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, 'Girls'.

One note about the passing of time is that the ravages of age compel me to recall―

It’s one thing to have swallowed “the red pill” in a small town in which your pick-up artist (PUA) exploits are likely to become general knowledge, but it’s another thing entirely to be an “alpha” on the prowl who also writes a blog and does a podcast about his conquests — especially after they become general knowledge.

Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop's owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and blog their ideas and behavior.  (Uncredited photo via Salon.com)That is precisely the situation that two PUAs — Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens — find themselves in after Ashevilleblog published an article (based on information gleaned from an anonymous blog) about the owners of Waking Life Espresso and the online accounts of their exploits at Holistic Game and a Twitter account by the same name.

It’s not surprising that the West Asheville community is protesting and boycotting the coffee shop — especially the female members of it, who learned on Twitter that they’re not human beings so much as “an endless supply of hot young pussy,” or that “there are no ‘special’ girls,” merely “cool ones and lame ones.” The lames ones, according to the Holistic Game blog, “could help themselves immensely by reading a few classic novels and working out a little [but] they get attention regardless, so the motivation to better themselves isn’t present.”

(Kaufman)

―that not so long ago the idea of a pickup artist was regarded somewhere between being hapless, charming, and forgivable to the one, and admirable to the other.

This is, in its turn, worth mentioning because in the twenty-first century American society seems especially prone to forgetfulness about matters historical. It is one thing to point out the obvious but esoteric Schwarzkopf cycleα, for instance; but quite another to see a decade like the eighties so forgotten―fashion is one thing, but it’s not just Republicans who forget Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or the fights over abortion or condoms or even marital rape.

The idea of the pickup artist is particularly reviled right now, and for reasons we might consider exceptionally obvious. But it seems strange, in the age of #NotAllMen and #JustNotMe, how many of my peers seem a bit cloudy on the issue of how important it was for guys to get laid―by a girl!―when we were younger. And it’s one thing to invoke ego defense, but, really, what drives such suppression? Can self-indictment really be so powerful? Because, I swear, they’re not all running from memories of evils committed. And just how many self-inflicted wounds, such as it is, could they possibly visit upon themselves? Deutsch-20141009-detailOr is it possible that we really have been wandering so catastrophically astray for so long without even knowing it? The proposition seems unrealistic for both magnitude and necessary complexity. Yet one point at least remains occulted: How can we possibly forget?

Still, though, the question of the pickup artist has to do with refinement and ritualization of so much masculine privilege and subordinate expectation breathing life into one of the darkest and most persistent corrosions of our human clay. And as purity cult roars its disdainful lament, we ought not wonder why this most superficial art of charlatanry also finds itself bearing the sort of scrutiny it simply cannot withstand. The pickup artist is a distillation of what hashtags of wounded masculine pride would hope to ward off.

This is an unfortunate truth: The days of the pickup artist will never be over. But this is a time in which the mythopoeic station of this lonely, notorious art can be uprooted and redefined according to what it actually is and does.

And, you know, it really is about time.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, “Girls”. Middle ― Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop’s owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and promote their ideas and behavior via social media. (Photo via Salon.com) Bottom ― Detail of cartoon by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.

α The Schwarzkopf cycle is a superficial frame for viewing history, starting with the period between 1953-91. At the front end is Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who helped overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq; the latter is when his son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., led American forces in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, whose influence and respectability depended in large part on the American response to the Iranian reaction to Shah Reza Palavi. Explicitly: From father to son, it was still the same mission. And we are, of course, still working to clean up that mess, today.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “North Carolina coffee shop on the rocks after misogynistic owners outed as podcasting, blogging red-pill enthusiasts”. Salon. 22 September 2015.

The Setup

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marrriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.  (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From the office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX01):

“Over the past few weeks, my office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 15, 2015. This military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law.

Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned. We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.

Having served in the U.S. Army, I can understand why military officials have a goal to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle various threat scenarios. In military science classes or in my years on active duty, I have participated in or observed military exercises; however, we never named an existing city or state as a “hostile.” We would use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as ‘hostile,’ as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.”

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A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

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Something Worth Your Time

Life, death, and a turtle.

Go. Click. Er … um … well, okay, not quite do, you know, but … I don’t know, meditate or something. What? Why can’t you just enjoy something, damn it?

Oh, right. Serenity now. Lest serenity itself demand.