No Apocalypse Today

Consider traditional gender roles, feminism, and the media. A post-gender society strikes me as an untempered good in a world that is not subject to apocalyptic levels of uncertainly. However, much that I hear is not delivering on this thesis.

I’ve read (older) feminist pieces that elevate traditional femininity to sacred status and assert that it is an aspect of the world that men simply cannot share. This strikes me as attempting to treat a gender imbalance by denying it exists. Nothing changes by saying this except the definitions involved. We can define any amount of pain as happiness and claim that we’ve solved the problem but I expect that most people are not satisfied with this approach.

There is not shortage of articles and news pieces on toxic masculinity and the conflicts that result. There are even articles that propose various solutions. What I don’t see as any large agreement on any proposed solution. The closest comparison to the current state of affairs is the oft-spoken aphorism on democracy that it is the worst political system except for every other one tried.

In fact, the modern media message shouts that everyone should have the freedom to be a man, to partake in traditional masculine roles, and that anyone who says differently is a horrible sexist. While I agree that everyone should have the freedom to make this choice if they desire, what I’m really affirming is the freedom aspect and not making a normative command. Those problematic elements of masculinity won’t disappear if acted out by women. This is one of my objections to the idea that there’s some silver bullet in replacing more of the ruling elite with women.

Our society’s message needs to change before post-gender becomes more than a weird fringe sub-culture. Part of this can come from greater support of anyone attempting to navigate outside accepted gender roles and part of this can come from adding new narratives to the media. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the coming decade is greater progress in this area.  I believe that we’re all better off from society supported diversity in gender roles.


Existential Comics

Just read all of existential comics and had a blast. You should visit the site yourself but if you want to live vicariously through me (really?) then here are some thoughts.

There’s a significant amount of Sartre love present. Authenticity and radical freedom remind me to own my agency. [46, 58]

How do we model willpower? As a related question to how we model our self, I’ve now run into a number of different formulations and am mostly convinced that it doesn’t matter if willpower is more like a muscle or more like a reservoir or if willpower is a manifestation of first order or second order desires. You’re better off increasing your exercise of agency and willpower will follow. [13]

Another reminder that truth is socially constructed in that the number of correct things we believe together is much greater than the number of correct things we can believe alone. Not to say that an individual cannot know a correct thing nor that social consensus is required for correctness. [5]

This lovely bit reminds me of “Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn And Noam Chomsky“. [23]

Some extras that are not to be missed. [18, 47, 51]

English Stack Exchange

If you’re fascinated with language, is pretty awesome. Granted I mostly engage with it to find trivia; to my shame I have not a strong grounding in literary analysis or large ranges of the classic education.

If a stone falls on an egg, alas for the egg.
If an egg falls on a stone, alas for the egg.


Sometime you’re not going to win the fight. Sometimes the other side has chosen their ground well and sometimes they have the numbers and sometimes they’re just better than you. However, if you’re caught in Rory Miller’s monkey dance then you’re not looking for a way to lose gracefully because when it comes to social standing, losing and disengaging from the contest aren’t treated differently. There are no rewards for not winning. At best, you have membership in some community where the results of this particular battle are not important.

It’s sad that our negative feedback cycles are so much stronger than our positive ones. People should be rewarded (in this life) for the good that they do. It’s a wide enough belief that humans are inherently flawed/evil that I’m surprised good deeds aren’t considered more remarkable and worthy of note.

Another saudade article by a non-portuguese writer

Saudade is a emotion you likely didn’t know you didn’t have a word for. At heart, it is an extension of the ‘homesick’ concept beyond a location to people you’ve known or things from your past. You’re allowed to apply that sort of yearning for more than just the place of your childhood. It’s the presence of an absence, one of many feelings for absence.

The word is Portuguese and it contains complexities beyond homesick. The canonical example is the sailor or soldier who has left you and the feeling you’re left with without them. You’re happy that you knew them and you’re unsure whether they’ll live to return but you remain hopeful (against your better judgment).

Contrast nostalgia. The target of nostalgia is strictly confined to the past. Saudade is a turning away from the present, toward either the past or future. The Portuguese have the word ‘nostalgia’. Nostos Algos; returning-home pain. What the soldier away from home feels, not what the dual emotion that the family feels for the soldier.

One of the additional complexities is that you can feel saudade yearning toward a thing that never existed. All it requires is the obsession. Probably some intersection with golden age thinking.

If you haven’t felt this emotion, isn’t that interesting? Did you not feel it because you didn’t have the word and, having never meet the concept, weren’t prepared for it?

Of a similar vein is the German concept sehnsucht, a portmanteau for yearning/addiction. The thing you seek is not possible, the traces of it only shadows. Addiction is easy in a sense. No choice is required not to quit, no agency necessary. It’s a clean decision, simply continue with your addiction. You can even convince yourself that being a non-renouncer is noble. Compare with Kierkegaard’s whimsically named knight of infinite resignation.

Not much better than a tweet

“The snow falls, not in order to cover the hill, but in order that the beast can leave its tracks.”

Footprints are negative space that form a positive object. Footprints are not the intent of the beast but a consequence of the environment. Negative/positive and entity/environment, switching to the dual of a category is useful outside of math!