Something has been bothering me lately, and something else that was connected to it just happened that elevated my discomfort to the point where it was no longer possible for me to tolerate it without taking some action.
Last night, I watched Jordan Peterson’s lecture on Jung, where he uses the Lion King to demonstrate various aspects of his thought.
This is embarrassing to admit, but when I saw the slides of the main character, I identified with him intensely. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s because I saw the movie as a kid. But just the image was enough for me to connect with him deeply. (Peterson was doing slideshow slides instead of playing the whole movie.)
There was a point where the female lion that he was friends with, Mala, play-fights with him, and she pins him. That made me very uncomfortable, because at that point I had already identified with the main character.
Excuse me if this all seems unclear at first. My true feelings are so ignoble that I have to kind of build-up towards expressing them, and I can’t just come right out with it right away. Maybe all this extra writing will actually help, anyway.
So the imagery of the female lion pinning the male one made me feel uncomfortable for various reasons. The first was its sexual connotation. I think that’s more my problem, however, but I see it in a lot of Disney films. “A lot” is an exaggeration, but I saw it in Zootopia, at the beginning, too, when the kid Judy is squirting ketchup all over herself and convulsing and moaning. You know, when you’re free (because I was free for a while, once), then no imagery can bother you, but when you’re plagued by vile impulses and enslaved by them, you can’t help but make a mountain out of a molehill, and you can’t help but see things that aren’t there. But regardless of all that talk, the impression remained. But that’s not even what bothered me.
It may annoy you to hear me admit this (stop dawdling!) but the sexual connotations of that scene normally wouldn’t have bothered me at all. I just made a big deal out of them to disguise the actual shameful content of my thoughts.
I think one of my deepest fears is of strong women, and of female strength and power. That’s a sad thing to admit, and an even more pathetic thing to think. I don’t have words to describe a person who thinks that. There’s nothing you can say that really does justice to it. Yeah, if we’re looking back to the fifties, when it was the norm, or most of human history, you could just look back at those people and call them misogynists, or chauvinists. But that would almost be a purely academic term, totally divorced from any moral significance.
There’s no term I can think of that would be able to properly describe someone who, living in my circumstances and historical context, is still afraid of female empowerment. I mean that in the sense of it’s too bad for words. And there is the shame in it. You could approach it by saying “infantile,” but infants, in my experience, are quite comfortable with female power and female empowerment. And with that thought a strange avenue opens up, and I don’t think I want to go down it. Let it be enough to say that anyone who thinks the way I do is inexpressibly perverse. Perverse in the sense of “twisted.”
Again, all this is a big screen of words that I want to throw up to distract you from what I am and what I’m hiding.
But anyway, the event of Mala pinning the main character really disturbed me, because at that point I had already identified with him, and it made me very nervous. Because my fear is really something much worse than fear, it is anger and hatred, and the desire to control everyone. I must deeply hate women, otherwise I wouldn’t be so disturbed when I see that they are superior to me. And I don’t mean superior in some lofty cosmic sense, but in the obvious sense of day-to-day stuff, they are better at coding than me, or smarter than me, or better at writing than me, or whatever. Whatever it is that I consider my “main pursuit” or one of my main activities—whenever a woman is better than me at them, it makes me extremely angry (because I think I see women as inherently inferior, in the Weiningerian sense, where even the greatest woman is superior to the most inferior man) and this anger can only come out in the form of pain directed directly into my soul. It’s a real mess. I think that I want to be saved, and I want to allow myself to be a loser, to fall to the bottom of the ranks of men, because somehow I think that I will always, just inherently be better than all women. That doesn’t make any sense, even on a subconscious level. I don’t know what it is, why it makes me so angry and hateful. But I know that it makes me depressed, and that depression is only a huge inferno of rage directed inwards. I can feel it boil my soil as it goes down, like I had swallowed a gulp of dangerously hot soup.
Later, after the main character’s exile, Mala comes to visit him again. Just from the screenshots of that scene, it seems sublime. In the main character, you have the appearance of nobility but the personality behind it is totally lacking, a total petulant loser.
It is an embarrassing confession of distorted self-image to say that I sometimes feel the same thing about myself (and other people that I see). It just strengthens my identification with the main character.
I think that to compare it to Hamlet is ridiculous (but that’s besides the point), and the treatment of women (or the mistreatment of them) is the key difference between the two.
The way out of the valley is not by thinking, but by walking. Thinking is only a prelude to action.
Uh, anyway, what happened today that really brought all these painful feelings to the front of my consciousness was two things: actually something happened before, on the weekend. On the milliondollarextreme subreddit, someone posted some Tinder conversation where he trolled some girl by pretending to be a regular feminist guy. She really liked it, and she gave him her number after like three or four exchanges. Its on Tinder that my problems with women really come to the fore, it’s the emblematic place where all my psychic failures manifest themselves, or at least the principle psychic failure, that of relating to women.
When I found it a few nights ago, I was drunk, and all my bad feelings came to the fore. I confessed publicly that posts like that, and all the posts on /r/tinder (where you can find the healthiest relations between the sexes of anywhere in the world, like pure flirting)—posts like that made me want to kill myself, gave me a horrible sharp pang of self-hatred and depression, extremely strong one, more than almost anything else in the world. I was disturbed by how many up votes it got, but I guess I feel solidarity instead of being totally humiliated (though that’s a bad thing all on its own).
I don’t know what that has to do with hating women. That seems more like something else, almost, at that level. I resent the easiness with which the sexes can talk to each other. Flirting is the wrong word for it. It’s just talking to each other as friends and equals. I guess my problem is that I have trouble truly seeing women as my equals. Isn’t that terrible? I feel maybe at this point we’re close to the heart of it. I should like to change, though. And I feel that, once, in the past, I was better than I am now.
On the one hand you’re supposed to see them as having nothing in themselves, just a “human subject” or a “soul” with no color or harmony one way or another, something universal wrapped in a semblance of particular flesh. But then if you think that, why would I talk to them over anyone else? Why not just talk to men, cause then I wouldn’t have to strive to make the effort to overlook that flesh, which is a constant danger to me…
See, now we have conjured the devil. He has heard us slander him, and it’s bothered him so much that he’s banged his fist on the table and made the whole room fall silent and look at him. He has stood and gathered his power in the stunned silence, his horrible dark gaze roaming around the room like a hungry wolf among skinny stray dogs.
“I don’t need anyone to speak for me.” He growls. “Let it be enough for me to say that I was born perfect, and suffering made me into what I am. Rather than enumerate my many faults to you strangers, who seem to know them all already”—the venom on his tongue could clean rust off of the hull of a yacht—“… I think I’d rather pose a series of questions about the world, which I fundamentally believe has failed me on a deeper, more blameworthy level than the contrary, than I have failed it.” He sighs, examines his nails, and precedes to utter the paragraph up above.
Why is he a devil? He is a devil because he fails to take responsibility. His argument is flawed. The world doesn’t have a mind. It can’t help but be what it is, even if it’s very bad. Making the world responsible for anything is an absurd concept. Human beings, on the contrary, are more than capable of making choices. It’s one of the things they’re best at, one of the realms in which they can equal gods in their power.
Therefore, to avoid becoming a devil, to avoid becoming bad, I will try to take responsibility.
Here’s my confession: Long ago, I gathered up my limited knowledge and used it to try to choose a path in the dense labyrinth of life. Now that I’ve reached a dead end, the least I could do would be to admit that the path I chose was the wrong one. For there is no one so lost as the man who won’t even admit he is lost. And the man who admits he is lost is really no longer lost at all. He is like Daniel Boone, who said: “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”
So now I will turn around and try to do better. Even the longest journey begins with a single step.
First, however, I have to get to the beginning. How much work a person has to do, just to reach the beginning! I’m like a hiker who has discovered that all his efforts and pains have only taken him from his home to the foot of the mountain.
All these frills have taken me away from the object of my writing: “____”.
Today, while in class, trying my hardest to tune out my teacher and her interminable language games, I saw that “____” had posted something on Twitter. To keep you in suspense, I will say that what she posted made my heart burn with pain and the terrible feeling of confusion that I’ve been writing about this whole time.
Here’s what she said (as best as I can remember it): “Today I was shoveling snow off of my white, old-fashioned neighbor’s driveway, and he said that he had never had a lady do that job for him before. Then my dumbass brother said: ‘She was born after they invented arms for ladies, man, they can shovel now.”
If anyone but me ever reads this, you’ll probably have no idea, even after all the preliminary material (the 1800 words preceding my getting to the point) as to why those tweets would bother me. What the hell, you must be thinking to yourself, is wrong with this guy?
I don’t know. But even more than Mala pinning the main character in the lion king, this feels, to me, like the horrible crux of everything, the fundamental point that keeps me from understanding. That’s the wrong way to put it. It’s the fundamental point that I cannot overcome on my path to understanding. I must find a way around, and this whole document (essay) is so long because it always takes much longer to go around something than through it. But it’s permissible, all the same! As long as you can get to the other side.
When I first read those tweets, I didn’t even understand if it was a joke against the old guy, or a veiled insult, or what. I still don’t. I think it was a joke, though. But what a horrible joke! Too true to joke about. For someone like her brother, someone free who lives in the world, it’s perfect for a joke. But not for me.
Why did it bother me? Well, for one thing, the image of her shoveling snow disturbs me. It always disturbs me to see women doing manual labor. I know that’s a horrible thing. I know it is. But the feeling remains, so all your criticisms and invectives, if you have them (I invite them like, if not old friends, then acquaintances with whom I was once on indifferent or even positive terms), but know that your criticisms may aim for but miss the heart. I know its wrong. I even know why. But I don’t know why I fail to feel that it is wrong. I don’t know why I have resistance. I think it has to do with hating women, or something. Or maybe a fundamentally aesthetic approach to life (this isn’t a throwaway phrase, there is something in this and I intend to revisit it).
Anyway, beyond that, I identify with that old guy. He said what I would be thinking: formerly, in the past, women did not do manual labor. It’s notable. She and her brother must have seen the old man’s comment as crude, and coarse, obviously they did, it’s the whole flawed premise which needs the corrective joke, the ironic… (my words are falling apart). What I mean is that the whole joke only works if the man’s comment was tasteless and “wrong.” It was her brother “living in the wrongness” and taking it to the end where the humor supposedly comes from. Like if I said: “communism is good!” And you said: “Yes, and how wonderful it is that we, the privileged intelligentsia, being the ideological arm of the capitalist masters will be the first to be slaughtered!” It’s taking a seemingly innocuous statement “to the end” and thereby showing it to be absurd. It’s Socratic!
I don’t know why I went on that stupid tangent, stating the obvious in so many words! It’s a sign that I’m avoiding something truly important (a superabundance of frantic activity, as a rule, is only a means of avoiding a very simple action that the procrastinator wants to avoid by any means necessary).
And yet, despite the absurdity of her brother’s statement, it has a terrifying truth in it. Isn’t it true that women are much more fully human than they were previously? Time has given women more than just arms, it has given her consciousness and freedom. Maybe women were always like that. But I feel that something has changed, just the same. Obviously it has. But I fail to live in it, and that is part of what disturbs me. No, it’s not so noble as that. It’s hatred which disturbs me and which makes me fail to live in the present day.
I feel like I haven’t gotten to the bottom of her tweets, or even the top of them. I guess I’m terrified of powerful women. Maybe because I myself feel so deeply lacking in power. Yes, that’s a part of it. There’s something big there. I feel so hatefully powerless in my own life, completely under the thrall of my father (and what’s worse is that this is rightfully so, as he is superior to me in almost every aspect. I’m not just saying that either. In an objective sense, it’s true. I should know, because I hate him, and I spend almost all my time trying to find some chink in the armor that I can cut through and do some damage with. But there aren’t any).
So because I have so little power, to see a woman with more power and self-determination than me makes me burn with rage. I am more womanly than women, and it is the “masculine” women that make me collapse into paroxysms of hatred, so overcome by it that my only thought is: I must destroy, I want to destroy all that exists and keep anything from ever existing again. The order of the world has become so twisted and perverse that the only solution to it is the solution to the Gordian knot, liberation through total death.
How to express the sum devilry of those thoughts? Let it be enough to say that they are wrong, horribly wrong, and not think them anymore!
Yet, despite it all, I am not yet at the low of schadenfreude, of enjoying other people’s suffering (which Schopenhauer correctly diagnosed as ‘truly diabolical’). The above may be evil, but it comes from an impulse of making the world good (in what I see as a purely aesthetic sense). No matter how diminished and twisted that impulse is, it’s still there.
It is so strange how the soul can burn with the fires of hatred in one moment and tremble with the pleasures of love in the next. It like if fire and ice were coexistent in the same object.
I say this because—I confess, I’m suddenly enamored with the girl at this coffee shop. She has a rough voice, and she got my order wrong. Rough as in, a little scratchy. God knows why men like that. Not only did she get my order wrong, but she thought she got it wrong when she didn’t.* When she asked me: “That’s what you ordered, right?”—that was heaven!
*Let me explain. I mumbled my order (which was for coffee and a cookie), and she thought I just said I wanted a coffee. I was too shy to correct her… I honestly thought it was a kind of sign from God. Then, when she gave me my coffee, she thought she had gotten it wrong. I mean, she had, but she hadn’t. She’d gotten it wrong, but not in the way she thought. That’s pretty funny. (Note added 3/17)
God damn it. I drank too much coffee. The measured rhythm of my thoughts has given way to a confused jumble of impressions and feelings. I’m thinking too fast, and I’m too far from myself, to come to the truth anymore.
Though a part of it may be that I’ve written 3000 words in a single two-hour rush.
When I was walking out of class, after I read the tweet, I was so ashamed of myself, and of my bad feelings, that I felt like I wanted to cover my face. I didn’t want anyone to see me.
I was also disturbed by the movie Logan. How there was a little girl who killed lots and lots of people. However you want to put it, that girl is gonna be a role-model for little girls. And that’s just sad.
My friend recently told me that my essential complacency came from a fundamental misunderstanding of how my time was short, how I was growing old, and how I was gradually going to be totally forgotten by everybody. He said that my lack of fear about that was my problem. It feels like it is. He had a nice way of saying it: “The thing with time is that you only get less of it. You never get any more.” What a frightening thing to say. But he’s right.
Life is so brief. And, according to Montaigne, if a person’s genius hasn’t revealed itself by age 21, it probably doesn’t exist. I’m gradually passing that deadline, gradually failing, and I don’t feel a thing. Well, I feel a kind of melancholy sadness. If you were here, watching me as I write, you’d notice that I just sighed especially deeply. Psychologists believe that a sigh is a way of letting go of a bad thought—as if the air that you exhale was the thought itself.
If only it was so easy to forget!