Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jukugo Deconstruction

非 不 無 末 否 反 
 安心 ->不安
     ease       unease 
In Japanese, there are several kanji used for negation.

There are specific situations where these Chinese characters tend to be used. By understanding the concepts underlying these kanji, you will be better equipped to interpret them inside new compound words you have never seen before, as well as guess which one should be placed in front of or at the end of an existing compound in order to negate it. This may be of particular use to those studying for the JLPT N2 and N1. In addition to helping better interpret the language, this also helps in using it, as we now have some basis to choose between synonyms in Japanese that the dictionary informs us mean the same thing. It also allows us to create our own internal systemization of the language, instead of the systems the native speaking professors who write our textbooks or the "language hackers" who try to pragmatically fill the void, would have us attempt to follow. So, let's have a look a kanji for negation in Japanese. 

An apple is an apple is an apple in your native language. Learning to internally re-construct conceptual hierarchies is the task of learning a new language.
is used to talk about negatives where a situation or quality is “outside what is normal or expected” or “non-normalized behavior/occurrence”. What qualifies as the normalized status quo is relative to Japanese culture/traditional Chinese culture. Generally speaking, that means maintaining social harmony.

非常 - emergency (not normal situation)
非難 - criticism  (not normal reaction)
非行 - delinquency  (not normal behavior; in a young person)
非常識 lack of common sense (perceived from a cultural POV)
非業 - unnatural death/untimely death (as opposed to dying from “natural 

Things start to get interesting as this point of view shifts away from a Westerner’s way of thinking:

非公開 - private (closed to the public; the “normal” is open to everyone)
非暴力  - non-violence (draw your own conclusions)

And then finally into the realm of objectionable implications:

非婚   - unmarried
非処女 - experienced woman (non-virgin woman)

describes negative feelings or virtues (vices); the lack of some (sometimes external) quality/circumstance required for “goodness” to occur (including economic success)
                  Feelings     Virtues    Lack of External Quality
                                 不安                   不公平               不況
                                 不幸               不順              不足
                               不気味        不正       不景気  
                                 不便        不信              不可能 

In many cases, there is a categorical overlap in the meaning of these words.
There are also a few words that are seeming exceptions that are not easily categorized.

For example: 不動産 (real estate)、不思議 (“it’s a mystery”). 

But we can try to parse words like this. The 思議 means “conjecture” which as 不思議 translates into: “lack of the external quality of being able to make a guess about (what *it* is)” ---> "mysterious".

describes metaphysical existence/non-existence, but is not always used for philosophical statements.

無理 impossible (without logic) 
無形  abstract/intangible (no shape)
無料 no charge/free of charge
無効 invalid  (without efficacy)
  countless (without number)
無口    reticence (without a mouth/speech)
無情 -  heartlessness ( may seem like the more appropriate kanji, but think
             over the meaning of the word “heartless”. If we truly want to condemn 
             someone for being heartless, what is the stronger condemnation: “Your 
           lack of empathy limits goodness!” Or “You have no heart! It doesn’t exist!”
This kanji also has a few borderline cases that likely will not seem to make immediate sense to a Westerner:

無地plain (unfigured/without shape-style)
無事 safety/peace (no things, i.e., nothing arose, i.e., without incident: therefore things are peaceful. You might better understand this word by understanding 無難: safety ((proceeded) without difficulties), or imagining Buddhist idealism.

Let's compare two words that use these kanji and in the dictionary mean the same thing. Earlier you read the word 無理, or impossible. Let's compare that to 不可能, which also means impossible.

無理 (muri) means "not exist + logic" ---> impossible/unreasonable to X
不可能 (fukanou) means "without + (the) ability (to)"

What kinds of sentences might these two words be used in? Muri is used to say that "it is unreasonable to expect X", something is so unreasonable that it is effectively impossible. Fukanou means "not have the ability to" and thus it is impossible. So that can be used to describe situations of human ability, perhaps one's own ability, compared to others. In other cases of metaphysical impossibility a term like あり得ない can be used. These are not the only possibilities, however.

meaning “tip” or “the close of”, describes something that exists/existed coming to an end; the “end” of a pattern/cycle/system, etc…

末日    last day (of the month)
月末    end of the month
世紀末  end of century
末っ子  last child (that a mother gave birth to; the youngest child of a family)
粗末     crude/shabby/rough (rough-ended/rough-edged)
端末機  terminal (electronic unit, like a credit card “swiper” at a restaurant:    
                 “end of sale unit” )
語末   suffix (end of word) (the linguistic term is actually 接尾語)

There are a few other words for that do not obviously have to do with tip/end. This kanji, and when used as a radical (as a "part" of a larger character), can mean “powder”, but that is a kind of *end*: the end state of processing, down into the smallest possible (visible) unit (from old technology pre-microscope POV):

粉末       (fine) powder
抹茶・末茶  green tea (powder)
抹香・末香 incense

describes a volitional process of rejection or denial. The bushu (radical) of this kanji include and , meaning “to speak a denial” (although the spoken reading is not , but rather ). While recognizes factual existence/non-existence, relates someone’s recognition of those facts/rejection of something as unfounded. 

Indeed, is the kanji for いいえ or “No.”.

否決      rejection/negation (of a proposition/decision)
否定     - denial/to deny
賛否      for and against (a plan), yes and no (mixed reviews)
成否      success or failure, outcome (of a course result, of a personal goal)
否め無い incontrovertible (the denial has a clear basis in reality that is plain for 
                  all to see)

There aren’t actually all that many common words that use this character.

  is not a direct negation. It means “anti-“ or “to be against” or “exists in 
      opposition to”.
反対 (the) opposition/opposing. As a verb: to object to doing X, to be against
違反  to transgress (to break the law)
反発  backlash (as a result of a decision/rules) (family won’t give approval to  
             your choice of boyfriend, kids going through a “rebellious phase” etc.   
             Also, in science, for example: positive/negative magnetic poles)
反響 reverberation/echo (opposing sounds)
反撃 counter-attack
反省 reflection/introspection ((juxta)opposing focus)
反米 anti-American

Like the others, occasionally is used in a word where it doesn’t superficially seem to make any sense:

反復 re-iteration, repetition  (once again return)

Can you grasp how the concepts of  “a return” and “opposition” overlap? The word 返し (that uses as a radical) means “reversal” (to turn opposed), it is used to talk about returning favors.  The verb 返る (to return) can also be written as 反る, giving a secondary meaning of “return” in radical form. These meanings are considered to be inseparable in Japanese, but to native English speakers they are not.

Can you fully understand how this overlaps with the concept “opposition”? If you can, skip to the next paragraph. If you can't, think of two “opposing dots” on a piece of paper. Mathematically there is a relationship to the middle between them. The concept of opposition cannot exist without the concept of a middle ground between opposed sides. Think of two opposing parties of an argument/issue. When they were born, there was no conflict/opposition between them. To “do” the opposition (返る) is to resolve it back to an original state: i.e., the middle or neutral groundi.e., to go back (to where you were “before”). This meaning is also clear in the word 反撃 (counter-attack), where both the concepts of “oppose” and “return” are included in the meaning. This meaning is again clear in the verb 返る for returning a favor; someone did something for you and when you return the favor, the “debt” goes to zero (i.e., back to neutral/the middle).

反物  fabric (opposed fabric; there is an implied measurement going on here, because you have to cut that fabric somewhere)


Non-native speakers of Japanese who are seriously studying it often fall into the trap of allowing their Japanese test preparation to frame and guide all their study efforts. But neither the hierarchy of Kanji for the JLPT or for the Japanese "Grade" levels are entirely suitable for learning the methodology to parse and use the language in an intuitive way. You are not a native speaker. You are learning a second language. Your frame of reference is different than the frame of reference of natives, and the frame of reference of those who create the exams you wish to pass. You may need to "pass tests" in order to have something to show for yourself, but please consider this as a (for now) necessary evil in a semi-broken insular system that has not been created to help you in any way.

In order to properly grasp Japanese in the full sense as an non-native speaker, you have to breach the frame of reference that you lack. Whatever your particular weaknesses in the language (Kanji is hard/I can read all the kanji but I cannot ask where a toilet is) understanding where concepts overlap with each other from the Japanese point of view is key, as is juxtaposing these concepts in comparison to English, or your own native language's way of conceptualizing. See where they overlap in Japanese, and where they do not overlap with your own native language. If you can consistently ask yourself the question, "What is this like, that I already know?" and start to categorize and systematize, and not simply accept the hierarchy information dissemination as presented to you by Japanese professors or self-anointed senpai foreigners, you will be on the right track. You are in the driver's seat of your own learning, and no one can do that learning for you.  Know your weaknesses, focus on them, and always, always be finding patterns in the hodgepodge of seeming randomness that appears.

Good luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Memory Pixelization

The New York Times recently published and article entitled, "How The Brain Stores Trivial Memories"  worth reading in its entirety here.  The article describes that a study has suggested that there is a kind of "just-in-case" file in our minds which contains seemingly useless information, which we store for a time and then get rid of. However, it is difficult to get a bird's eye view of memory simply by reading the article. I endeavor to clarify this, as well as answer a question offered in the comments.
"Where visual stimuli is remembered, and how does the memory system process it? How is it for instance, that you can decide a particular plant is a tree, even though you may have never seen that kind of tree before? So where are visual memories stored, or are they?"
Storing "images" as a kind of guide to organizing the world around us stores a lot of unnecessary information. It is very inefficient, and slows our cognitive processes.

To understand the answer to "How do we know a tree we have never seen before is a tree?" is to understand concepts, not mass mental image storing. And to understand concepts is to understand that the conceptualization process is one of what the mind omits --- not of how much detail it commits, to memory --- leaving behind only what is essential.

Are you familiar with video encoding? Why does a Blu-Ray authored movie look better than a DVD authored movie? Because there is more space to include more data. But we also can shrink that information down without a noticeable loss in quality via encoding. How is that done? You may already have an idea, but you can read an easy guide about it here. Ever watch an encoded movie or video on your PC, pressed pause and then when you resumed there were a few seconds of pixelization? This is because the video file does not have the data to display the full image. And yet when we watch the same video without stopping, we don't notice any difference. Why is this?

What has been seen, cannot be unseen.
This is going to be highly simplified, but let's say everyone's favorite character Jar Jar Binks is on screen. For one glorious moment, he is not moving and is totally still for 100 frames. When he is still, it becomes no longer necessary to store his portion of the image 100 times into the video, only necessary to store 1 image, or one frame and leave a small pointer of how long the image is to be repeated. In this way, we have shed shrunk this video file of 99 "frames" of Jar Jar and a resulting X amount of data. Apply this to the whole movie, and this how we can shrink file sizes from their raw, unencoded state.

Modern encoders are complex. They have the ability to set a certain threshold for motion and color, so that Jar Jar need not be totally still, or have exactly the same pixel color from frame A to frame B in order to get compressed. The encoders have been programmed to isolate which datum is essential to the image, relative to the previous image, and which is inessential. In other words, it decides what datum it writes, (or "commits") and which datum it omits.

From the above Trusted Reviews article, by Gordon Kelly.

Our minds have the capacity to act as high-level video encoders (although no matter how hard we try, there will always be that one last frozen frame of Jar Jar left). However it is not really accurate to say that what we do is leave these kinds of appended "images" behind. The encoding process to the mind is called "conceptualization". And each frame is called a "percept" (that includes information from all 5 senses). Conceptualization is omission. It is omitting as much as we can. It is shrinking our "data" down to the most bite-sizable chunks, it is reducing everything to its essentials. How do we know a tree we have never seen before is a tree? Because compared to how we have encoded the image of the other trees we have seen, all that is left in our minds, conceptually speaking, is something that can't tell the difference between that old one and the new one. To the conceptual faculty, we have certain essential requirements for what it means to be called a "tree", and if it meets those, it gets called a tree. Perhaps this 100 frame new tree is simply compared to a set of 5 "frames", linked together in the mind by this conceptual pointer system: something like: "thing that exists in the open --- growing out of the ground --- starts to spread out in the middle --- brown and green --- hard." Here we have visual shape percepts, a visual-color percept and a tactile percept. But even among those, the color is not essential, as the color-blind would tell you. Anyway this is just an example.

The article describes a study where some people were given mild shocks when doing a memorization task, and the researchers found that there was a small increase in memory performance among those who were shocked while studying the cards. So why is this?
"But the experiment said nothing about the effect of trauma, which shapes memory in unpredictable ways. Rather, it aimed to mimic the arousals of daily life: The study used mild electric shocks to create apprehension and measured how the emotion affected memory of previously seen photographs."
If we want to focus on why people tend to memorize certain otherwise "trivial" events (or flashcards), it is because they are only trivial to man "the rational animal", but they are not to man "the animal". This is one aspect of survival information. Why are people drawn to look at fights? Why do they rubberneck? It is because man the animal is "wired" to seek survival information on a base level. It's evolution. If someone is given a small shock, this a very minor threat to survival, but among some personality types, that may enough to trigger the state of labeling their experience as some level of SI, and not only trying to integrate those percepts into their conceptual framework, but instead as storing those percepts as "images" --- as somewhere near the full 100 frames of Jar Jar, or as simply 10 or 20 or 30, depending on the degree of survival value determined by the body.

Where a survival information response is stimulated, and when it is not will differ among people. SI is also not a boolean function. The "arousals" of daily life exist on a scale from 0 to 100. It doesn't take being physically abused or being in a car crash or going to war to stimulate an SI response. It does not even have to be a negative or threatening experience to trigger it, it can be an affirming one, because positives can be as useful as negatives for survival. I would wager that some of this "just-in-case" memory system is simply low level SI stimuli sticking around in the mind for a time. (It's important to not to confuse conceptualization of ideas, with the storing of memory. However, these two functions overlap in the mind.)

As for trauma, SI memory is different from conceptualization. It contains a lot more "data", there are fewer omissions to the measurements that the the mind would otherwise be making. Yet, the mind cannot handle too much of it. Our brains are magnificent machines be we are limited. When people sometimes imagine "aliens who are beyond our level comprehension", the real way they would be superior to us, is to be able to handle more SI bandwidth. Where we are, to borrow more PC tech analogies, is the old PC/AT bus while the aliens are NVLink. So if that ostracized anyone the meaning is: we are bottlenecked, and in a way forced to conceptualize because of our limited hardware. A more advanced being would still be a conceptual creature, by necessity, but would also have great capacity to manage stimuli, percepts, and memory without as much stress.

We are traumatized, not simply by the event itself, but by our mind's biological inability to process and store that much data without omission.

Friday, March 1, 2013

In Pursuit of "Man Card Language": Episode I

At the encouragement of one Charles Clymer, I've gone about trying to discover what "man card language" is by exploring his blog. Nothing is going to stop me in my pursuit of knowledge! My first stop on Mr. Clymer's blog is a post called...let me see if I can get this right this time, "My Open Letter of Apology to Men's Rights Activists".

Within is the following statement:

"I want to apologize that life has never graced you (MRAs) with any feminists (men or women) who are friends. Some of the greatest folks I've had the pleasure of knowing are committed, brilliant feminists."

Since I am a feminist too, I figure I'd take a little detour in my quest for discovering  "man card language" and address this post. Who knows? Maybe can find the answers I need! Now, like any good feminist, I am in favor of full equality.
  • That's why when I see men enjoying the privilege of selective service, I fully support cutting women in on the action too. Why should men hog all the privilege of having their lives threatened?
  • That's why when I see different athletic standards for men and women in the military, I support ONE standard, not two, the normal one for men, and the easier one for women. Why should men hog all the privilege of having to work harder?
  • That's why when I see across the pond in South Korea the draft for men only, I support the draft for everyone! Why should men hog all the privilege of putting their lives in danger at the point of a gun?
  • That's why when I see that men make up 98% of war dead, I support dying in war for women too!  Why should men hog all the privilege of coming back home in pine boxes --- so Hillary can announce that the women who get to live on because of the protection those men afforded them, are the REAL victims of war? I am in favor of full pine-box equality.
  • That's why when I see that women have reproductive rights and men only have reproductive obligations, I support outlawing abortion...or outlawing child-support in the absence of a contract. Whichever. But let's be consistent and above all, EQUAL about it. Why should men hog all the privilege of being financially obliged to support another person's choice over which they have next to no control?
  • That's why when I see that 80% of the Senate, 82% of the House, 6 of 9 Supreme Court Justices, 2/3 of the Presidential Cabinet, and 100% of every person to occupy the Oval Office and VP's chair "being" male, cannot be conflated with "favoring" males --- when they pass into law/sanction such things as the above. Since Charles and I are both feminists, I am sure he can understand that our inherent maleness does not mean we will consistently take actions that favor men over women. After all, why should men hog all the privilege of granting feminists special interest favors and special rights and disenfranchising men in general? It would all be so much more "equal" if there were more women in positions of power doing the exact same thing and getting the exact same results. 
  • That why when I see that 100% of mothers are women, I support government sponsored organ transplants so that men can also have babies...it's the socially just thing to do!
When we talk about statistics, we can talk all day. The majority of child custody decisions being won by women, the majority of arrests in DV incidents being men, even when it is the man who called the police to protect himself from the woman. What do they call that policy? "Predominant aggressor", if I remember correctly. Arresting men for being men sounds very patriarchal to me! Well...what else does Charles have in this nifty post. Ah CEOs!

You know, while 95% of F500 CEO's may be men, 99.9% of men are not F500 CEO's...and what's to be done about that? Oh my! I mean, I'm not a F500 CEO. And if I were, maybe I would be a woman's advocate even though I am a man. How can we tell which men are oppressors and which are not? And what about education where there are so many more female teachers than male? Surely if we are to socially engineer more Marissa Mayers, we must boot out some female teachers in favor of male teachers. After all, those women must be using their inherent woman-ness to feminize our young boys, right?

Anyway, why is it desirable that more women be CEO's? Doesn't each individual woman get to make that decision? They are just as free to pursue that career as men are, and have been for some time. So, perhaps there is something else going on here than *insert patriarchy*? Could it be that people value different things, and those values tend to be chosen and expressed based on influences like culture, gender, biology, physical capacities and nationality?

So if we can observe that women tend to value flexibility due to the assumption that they will one day have a child which requires it, doesn't it follow that they will make very different decisions than men, who cannot carry a child and thereby that circumstance does not affect their values?

For example, if 99% of deep sea crab fishermen are men, is that because the industry is patriarchial, (is that a word? Who cares!) or is that because it is a grueling job that far fewer women are suitable to do than men, and even fewer women desire, based on their valuation of flexibility and shorter hours?

And when one values flexibility and comfort, one is doing less work. And as such, one is justly paid less, in the same way that men who do less work than other men generally get paid less. --- even in the same industry and with the same experience --- good heavens!

As for when it is actually equal, it turns out it can never really be equal because of anti-discrimination laws:

Even in environments where the workload is similar between men and women, there is a constant threat to the productivity of businesses by a woman's capacity to have children. If a woman takes maternity leave, someone has to do her work while she is gone. Meaning, some man or fully-devoted career-woman must step up and take her place for a time. And that has a cost. A cost that is mitigated by her being paid less to begin with. Perhaps if she could make it clear that she has no intent to have children, she would be paid the same --- unfortunately this mechanism by which women can be paid equally has been determined by many governments to be discriminatory --- you can't ask those questions in a job interview. Thus, in the name of "protecting women from discrimination" we have ended up denying them freshly made tacos, or whatever. Not to mention that studies have shown that generally, women don't ask for more! And if you don't ask, why would you get paid more?

All that aside, when we make a truly EQUAL comparison: and eliminate all the variables affecting pay, and take a look at childless single men and women in their 40's ---- we find out that women are actually paid MORE. You know, cause, if women were making significantly less than men, would it not be a great idea to get a whole staff of women to do the same work for at a fraction of the price? Take that, patriarchal competitor-oppressors! It's capitalism at its finest! Why is no one doing this?! Maybe because the wage gap is a lie.

As Uncle Warren says:

"But what happens when women make the same lucrative decisions typically made by men? The good news — for women, at least: Women actually earn more. For example, when a male and a female civil engineer both stay with their respective companies for ten years, travel and relocate equally and take the same career risks, the woman ends up making more. And among workers who have never been married and never had children, women earn 117% of what men do. (This factors in education, hours worked and age.)Without husbands, women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they're willing to relocate and they're more likely to choose higher-paying 
fields like technology. Without children, men have more liberty to earn less — that is, they are free to pursue more fulfilling and less lucrative careers, like writing or art or teaching social studies.". 

117% of what men do? Wow! And all ruthlessly sourced and documented in his book? Where's the social justice police when you need'em! Everyone was in this big rush before for some equality...now suddenly it got real quiet in here...

....well, anyway, I didn't learn anything about "man card language" so far, but this is all very interesting, isn't it?

"She" Defines "He": Gender Shaming Language: Part 1

Description: http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif"Pussy, bitch, fag, etc. are all used on a regular basis by men towards other men to insult and discredit them because after all, what is more insulting than downgrading a man to a woman, from masculine to feminine?"

So says blogger Charles Clymer in a recent post entitled, "Why Are We Ashamed Of Our Women Heroes?"

Now, putting the title's syntactical error aside, in my experience those words from the above quote have been used as often by women in addressing men. Especially after those women receive a "No.".

Upon receiving a reply of "No. I don't want to go home with you." more than one woman has replied to me with a "Are you gay?" either verbatim or implicitly. It seemed to be beyond them that it was possible that they were not necessarily attractive to everyone --- or that a man might actually not be interested even if a woman deigned to, in their minds, lower themselves to giving him what he wants. 

In a little more benign a confrontation, I remember using the word "grotte" in describing some gym mats, and receiving a chorus of high-pitched "Aren't you supposed to be a guy?" whines. Among the high pitches was a lone alto voice, a husky butch of a woman, apparently unaware of the irony of the moment.

Cuz, like 4srs, how dare you be so dainty as to dislike dust-covered mats that you have to roll around on.

In a similar fashion comes the shaming language of "Man up." --- sometimes paired with the passive aggression of borderline physical violence guised as a playful punch. This can occur when a woman feels like a man is not fulfilling what she thinks is his social obligation to her, or in successfully emulating the traits and characteristics that she and her sisters deem to constitute acceptable "masculinity". These exhortations are all based on the notion that "she" gets to define what it means to be a "he".

Of course men will say this too, but they say it because they have bought into the "she" defines "he" premise, and their own identity is predicated on maintaining that, lest they have to face their fear of defining themselves independently of how well they can qualify themselves to a woman/women.

This is primarily why men have shaming language for other men, whether that is of the "man-up" or "you swing like a girl" variety; a man who steps out of what women have defined to be masculine, becomes a threat to the identities of the other men who have embraced this idea and conformed to someone else's blueprint for how they ought to be, in order to feel visible, loved, and qualify for sex. Thus, the feminine becomes THE imperative, and this must be protected at all costs.

It is also often feminists who use this kind of language. In response to criticism to which there's no easy answer, I have encountered variants of, "Why are you so angry at women? Can't get girlfriend, right? Can't get laid right?" i.e., you are shameful because you don't share the "imperative" to define yourself based on a woman. Such shaming is intended to be the ultimate in identity undercutting, and sadly for many men, it is.

Apparently, it okay for women to sow the seeds of all social interaction and self-esteem for men, and yet, if modern men were to be bold enough to assert a behavioral suggestion, or a social obligation that women have to them (for example, “You have reproductive rights, what about mine?” Or, “Maybe 3:00 am is not the best time to walk through a high-crime area of town in high-heels.”) suddenly that is unacceptable and we need to rally up a slutwalk or manifest another shaming lecture about "the patriarchy"/University freshmen indoctrination about "Campus Rape and You" or whatever the flavor of the week is.

In the end, surely everyone would like to be treated according to their own rules. But not everyone creates rules that apply equally to everyone else; instead they are applied pragmatically, or through the lens of a skewed ideology. Many women who wear short skirts (or its equivalent) want to be able to dictate which eyes are acceptable to view their legs or cleavage or curves. They call it “objectification”. There are websites, like "hollaback" entirely devoted to "outing" men who dare look at the skin that by some magic was thrust directly in front of them: "I felt uncomfortable, so that means you are icky.".

And yet, such women don’t shame their boyfriend or girlfriend for looking at them in such fashion. Indeed, individuals whom women are attracted to are entirely acceptable. Individuals whom they aren't can be labelled "creeps" --- and then no introspection about the implicit sense of entitlement, and their role in facilitating their own discomfort is ever made.

There's a clear difference between people who can accept the actions of other people that they find to violate their own rules, and those who, at the first taste of something unpalatable, have absolutely no sense that the other person has a right to the same boundaries, rules, and self-definition that they are claiming for themselves.

So while it may feel safe and warm under the protective coat of "she" defines "me", there are a growing number of men who are self-defining and will not fall prey to such shaming language, whether it comes from women or other men, and whether it manifests itself as a glib "man-up" or a long, winding blog entry based more on psychological projection than on reality. In other words, Charles Clymer says "*WE* are ashamed"?

Speak for yourself, bro.

And for whatever merit there is to the question you asked, let me suggest to you a more thorough answer: It may be true that saying you look up to and admire and have your own female heroes is at best a neutral thing, and at worst it unleashes the same "Man-up", "You sing like a girl", or, as you say about the Hilary poster, "Are you gay?" kind of shaming --- but the "are you gay?" question comes from somewhere; from a place of fear; of being different; And it's women's social expectations that are the cause of how men are to be "defined", measure themselves, and thus how they behave. The result is that, ironically, the women who want to define "masculinity" and control the narrative about social interaction between the sexes are the authors of most of the problems they blame men for, including this one. In what kind of world does that amount to "patriarchy"?

Let this be an opportunity for Charles Clymer to think beyond the shaming language and the feminist catch-phrases, and into what's really going on in gender culture. I think he will find that things are more complex than a me-tooing, approval-seeking, identity-confirming, announcement of: "The patriarchy is real!".

Monday, January 28, 2013

Steven Crowder May As Well Fuck A Hobo

 Mark Trueblood made this remark in an otherwise well-spoken article down at AvFM:

" I also...applaud his strength and conviction to save sex for the marriage bed."

He was speaking about the recent marriage of conservative youtube activist Steven Crowder and Crowder's belief that one should save their virginity for marriage.

Mark may be applauding, but I'm not.

He may see Crowder's abstinence as strength, but I don't. I see it as weakness. And the "conviction" this weakness expresses in Crowder is a lack of belief in the capacities of his own mind: the mind's capacity to make judgements about what is good or bad for his life.

Crowder states:

"Our wedding was truly a once in a lifetime event. It was a God’s-honest celebration of two completely separate lives now becoming one. Physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, everything that made us who we were individually was becoming what bonded us together."

Indeed, there are many kinds of values: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, sexual, material. All of them play a rational (though not necessarily equal role) in judging who to be friends with, to what degree, and whom to be intimate with. But certainly Mr. Steven Crowder indulged in the deeply emotional, the deeply spiritual and the deeply financial with his wife prior to getting married. But if one is to indulge in those things, why is it that the sexual is made to be an exception to the rule? Why isn't the sexual included among the values that can be explored fully, prior to a lifelong commitment? Why does he consider sexual values, unlike other values, to be something taboo to evaluate pre-commitment ?

Let's imagine if we substituted any other kind of value instead of sex when it comes to qualifying a (romantic) relationship: "Pre-martial emotional values are shameful! You have to be married before you can truly show love and accept love! Remaining cold to your prospective spouse is the only way to martial bliss. Only after you are married may you indulge in this defective act of loving one another, (and only if you intend to use that feeling to motivate you to make babies) in order to have "clear conscience".

How about substituting spiritual values? "Do not get to know someone before marrying them. The presence of religion or not in their person. Believe in Jesus, Allah, The Force, Spaghetti God? No God? How dare you indulge in pesky questions about beliefs. Knowing the spirit of the person you intend to commit to is sacrilege! Don't get to know their virtues (if any), nor their essence of personality and strength (or weakness). Do not worry about their fundamental ideas about existence and what they think is appropriate for them and others, because that certainly will be of no consequence whatsoever when the guiding pure light of marriage washes away all our imperfections."

Sounds irrational, right? Sex is no different.

Imagine on your wedding night realizing you are not a match for this person, after having made a lifelong commitment to them. You are lying there in a state or premature ejaculation, or exhaustion at attempt to climb Everest before ever learning to climb a tree. You are in either one of two states: blissful ignorance of you and your partners ineptitude or you are thinking: "Oh fuck." because you know somewhere in the recesses of your mind you just gambled with 100000:1 odds and lost your life savings. But what better way to show that you love yourself and your partner than by not knowing anything at all about their sexual needs or yourself prior to telling each other that you will fuck them and only them for the next 70 years. That couldn't possibly result in any problems, right?

And fundamentalists are confused about the divorce rate.

You know, I am not a proponent of marriage, but if you are going to do it, isn't that some important information to have? Like, if you can actually enjoy sex (in general or with this person) at all, before making a lifelong legal commitment? More importantly, like if you actually have the capacity to know your own body and know good sex from bad sex instead of zombie-fucking your way through the whole thing, while 20 years later your "improvements" amount to the improvements a child makes in moving from tricycle to training wheels --- just you have no reference point to ever know how much of a failure you and your partner are, so if a survey asked you would say "satisfied" but if anyone else ever saw you fuck they would burst into laughter?

To simplify, you can't know if you like fucking in the back hole until you actually do it. And when you like it and she hates it, well, looks like it's time to add to your repression! It's not like society doesn't have any examples of that kind of frustration mounting over a lifetime before it explodes in dangerous ways. And even if it didn't you still have to deal with being unhappy with that aspect of your life...and as anyone with experience knows, it is only a matter of time until one aspect starts to poison the other aspects of your lives. It is a recipe for unhappiness. And by any truly life-affirming standard, that is wrong.

To hold a creed that individuals should make an exception out of sex is immoral. To demand otherwise is to demand sacrifice. It is to say that fulfillment in this world is to take a fearful backseat to whatever kind of dogma. 

But, if you think this kind of "work on it" sacrifice is noble, do not go half-way --- go all the way. Be consistent about it! I for one am tired of all this pick and choose bullshit. Christian couples who indulge in other values but exclude sex are as contradictory as those Christians who indulge in premarital sex but "OMG abortion is wrongzzzz!" (don't worry, he has to pay, ladies).

Steven Crowder's chance is gone, but I will give YOU a chance to show the world some REAL "moral integrity". Grab a total stranger, and marry them. The less attractive the better, since the less you approve of their appearance the greater the sacrifice you will have made, and thus the greater the moral value and virtue you will have gained. After all, if it's okay to roll the dice at 100000:1, it is certainly okay to roll the dice at 100,000,000,000:1.

Abstinence in the name of marriage is like, totally eww.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Calling The Future: Part 1

Back in the day, the first man bashed a woman over the head with a club and dragged her into his cave.

Thus monogamy was born.     

Members of his tribe were confused, “He didn’t kick her out afterwards? What the hell is that? What…what do you call that?”

Prior to this forward-thinking(?) caveman’s assault, the tribal communal life was la raison d’etre. But after this unilateral head-thwomping action, the tribe was introduced to a set of new concepts (exclusivity, the family unit, commitment and so forth) and what was previously the norm slowly faded away into obscurity and was replaced with a new normal.

Thus, we presently encounter terms like, “in a relationship”, “boyfriend and girlfriend” and “married”. These all stem from a monogamous view of intimate relationships, which although having changed forms from violence to non-romantic social institution to courtship, has remained for millennia the default cultural pretense around the world.

Fast forward a few thousand decades into the present and witness the phenomena of Men Going Their Own Way. Many of these men, instead of desiring to get “her” into the cave, at all costs attempt to kick her out or prevent her from ever getting inside to begin with.

Yet at some point the next new normal must arise. And what form is that going to take? What form should it take? Even the most sympathetic of members from the modern tribe witness MGTOW and attempt to interpret it through the lens of the old normal, “Oh, so you’re not in a relationship? So, that means you are “fuck buddies”, right? Oh, you mostly do things other than fuck?  You are both are not interested in owning each other’s sexuality ---- what…what do you call that?”.

Regardless of what form MGTOW is currently taking on an individual basis, men are exploring alternatives to the old normal, or as it is often referred to in the context of relationships: the marriage 1.0 environment. They are searching for a new way.

This new way does not yet have a name. It is a particular kind of intimate relationship that arises when individuals realize that the rate at which they are gaining information about what is possible for them, about exploring and cultivating their own romantic and intimate preferences, is way too fucking slow to limit to one person in our very finite lifespan. With that, comes the recognition that a relationship (monogamous or otherwise) that is good for some time, is not necessarily good for all time --- and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

We live in a rapidly changing world. The old normal of “courtship” is facing the new reality of globalization and the internet information age. Everyone knows that these things affect businesses, we adapt to them on that front, but we are loathe to adapt our cherished traditional view of courtship in the same way. The purpose here is not to discuss “Why?”.The point is, that an individual’s ability to browse for his values on “dating sites” (still using the old normal vocabulary) “speed dating”, chat rooms, matching websites, relationship arrangement businesses, the increase in individuals who can speak the same language (namely English) around the world, feminism unshackling women’s inhibitions (thanks girls) results in the possibility to test drive a variety of different individuals from different backgrounds and cultures --- where this possibility was heavily limited even 30 years ago.

In the old normal, one was limited to the slim pickings around their current abode. Indeed, “High-school sweethearts” is yet another old normal word that rapidly has no relevance in modern western society. There used to be only a “local” dating market, except for the super-rich. But now, there is a world dating market for anyone with moderate means.

We have technology to meet our desires for choice, but our language remains mired in the swamp of the old normal. We have not brought the advances in technology into congruence with the cultural idea of what constitutes “relationship”. We carry new means to old ideas, and we find via our divorce rate and measurement of relationship satisfaction that they do not work, in the same way universities and radio, newspaper and television industries are learning the hard way that the new means are incompatible with the old ideas.