Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Inventing Anna

 It's like they chickened out. You're supposed to feel that everyone Anna encounters finds her just so appealing, yet they make her a huge bitch in the last episode. Treat them mean, keep them keen might be a thing with boyfriends but it isn't really how people work. If you treat them mean, they usually just fuck you off.

Until then she had some vulnerability and while that didn't really make her likeable, at least you could penetrate to a child, perhaps damaged in some way (although they robbed her of that motivation by making her dad so ordinary).

Rachel will be upset when she sees it. They made her look and seem horrible. And yeah dropping the dime was vile but she was hurt. That was real. I mean, I have an aversion to snitching but I feel like you could really understand why she snitched. We all do things that we might regret when we're hurting.

Anyway, it was all a bit slow and aimless. I don't think Shonda Rhimes is a genius in any other respect than tapping into housewives' hearts. Well, maybe that is genius. But she's not particularly artful or at least the people she hires aren't. She makes soaps and clothes them, a bit thinly, in stories. This one was a four-episode show that found itself dragged painfully out for nine. What would have made it much better was a few jokes. It should have been a satire, with some sharp humour to power it through the nine years, sorry, hours, it played for.

But it wasn't. Amazingly, despite the possibility for lots of laughs, and the possibility to position Anna as a Becky Sharp-style clever bitch, it wasn't in the least bit funny. Even the bits that were funny weren't funny, if you know what I mean.

In the end I was watching it begrudgingly. I could just as well have turned it off in episode five and not even worried about it. FWIW, the two leads did their best with a weak script, although it's just a bit hard to see why men would faint with lust for Julia Garner, the way she played it. And you can't help feeling that Anna Chlumsky would have done some humour with relish. What she was given just wasn't very funny, even when it was meant to be. 

5/10 maybe? C+? Something like that. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Swipe right

 Isn't it strange how when I see a person whose dating profile says they are unvaxxed, I swipe left without even thinking about it? Yet I don't feel like everyone has to be vaccinated if they don't want to be.

But I think you're a fucking idiot if you aren't and double fucking moran if you say you're "proud" of not being vaccinated.

Why be proud? Because you're a "free thinker"? 

What I want to know is how come all the "free thinkers" think their way to such dumb conclusions. And how come they all think their way to the same, banal rightwing nonsense.

I say rightwing because the spectrum runs from give a fuck to only care about me and although antivaxxers don't seem to care about themselves, they certainly don't care about anyone else.

Okay, so things changed a bit with omicron, right? Yeah but the thing is, follow the science, you'll probably get a cold, nothing worse. But the small chance becomes fagpaper thick if you get jabbed.

*

I saw a guy say that he had been proved right when he posted that it was just a therapeutic of disputable value and I couldn't help thinking, how did you come to that conclusion? How?

I'm all for calling out the bullshit, although of course it gets you into trouble. And look, Mr Free Thinker, getting into trouble is not a virtue in and of itself, since your being in trouble is so ineffectual. It's not worth it for "principle" because principles are bullshit. 

Yes they are. They are usually just ways people cleverer than you have invented to get you to do things you wouldn't otherwise do, like die.

I mean, I'm all for dying if you really want to but most of us don't want to.

Or do we?

Perhaps we want nothing more when it comes down to it.

*

So who do I swipe right on? Mostly pretty girls who won't look twice at me. I mean, I have nothing much to offer. I am not aging well. I think I look like a pit of misery. I want to change it but I don't know how. Because my material circumstances never seem to get any better. When it looks like they will, something gets in the way and it's only rarely me, actually.

I realised, when I thought it over, that the woman at S. canned me because she knew when I edited the towage guidelines, I would see she had not done a great job. I wouldn't say anything but we'd both know. By firing me, she could remain a great editor.

It took me a month to figure it out because I like to believe people are good. But maybe that's the first principle I should jettison. How many times do you have to get bitten before you'll accept that people have teeth?

I swiped right on L. I like L a lot. She's totally unsuitable as a girlfriend, not really suitable as a friend, but she's got something going on and I like her. We'll probably drift into oblivion but it has made being lonely less lonely. Probably not as much as she could, but she has her own thing, her own reasons, her own heart.

*

Fundamentally, people don't vaccinate because they want to be different. If 5% avoid it, they want to be the one in 20. But three of those percent are indigenous people who have much better reason than you to fear the government.

The government are just what they seem to be. Servants of interests that don't include yours. They don't want to "control" you or manage you. They don't need to. Most people conform. Most people think this is the best we can have.

In some ways it is.

In some ways it is so good that people feel guilty and start hating who they are. They hate their own skin.

We shouldn't do that. I mean, I could articulate why but no one who thinks it will read this and it seems boring. It's not a matter of pride, or shame, or guilt. We have what we have, and it got to be this way by a path that wasn't great. But it got to be this way and here we are.

And let me tell you, white guilt mofos. If you don't want it, I'll take it. I wouldn't mind being white privileged. I don't care. I just want some. A little bit. Much less than Oprah. Much less than Elon. Just a little bit.

What harm is done

In a world where we conform, transgressive thought is appealing to a lively mind.
Transgressive thought is appealing to a lively mind, lost because today's world does not have much use of lively minds.
Today's world does not have much use of lively minds because you might just slip down the wrong alleyway.
but if you just slip down the wrong alleyway, what harm is done?
what harm is done

You cannot have a voice because people who conform want conforming voices, and even transgression must exist within the boundaries of the allowable.

Fascism appeals to those who want to transgress for whatever reason.
But what are the reasons?
what are the reasons

Fascism says there is no value in the individual but there is value in what the individual belongs to. Fascism is belonging as a political philosophy.
The more rootless and disconnected we are, the more it appeals.

You can't convince workers they belong to a class with other workers because they believe they are on a ladder,  not stuck in a pit.

The right pose the utterly conventional as transgressive. They sell myths and stories as facts. But so do the left.
So do the left when they try to sell us pictures of a utopian world that cannot exist. Not just the way things are, it cannot exit. Any conceivable way it could be, it cannot exist.

I am surrendering all that because our stories have been drained of meaning by dull pseudo-people who actually, and rightly, hate the working class and the working class know it and think they're smug knowitalls who are wrong about everything.
They're right about most things but they are smug knowitalls and I've been one too so yeah I know what I'm talking about.

You know, Jordan Peterson does not know he is a grifter but he keeps saying what works for him. Has there ever been a point where he thinks, you know, I don't believe this nonsense but if I stop saying it, I will not be Jordan Peterson any more?
If he was as smart as he thinks, there would be.
If.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Fascism isn't a virus

Fascism isn't a virus you catch if you read rightwing websites. It's a response to circumstances. No, it's not just an outcome of "economic anxiety" but that doesn't mean that "economic anxiety" isn't a factor.

What it does mean is that you can "cure" fascism in two ways: you either rid yourself of fascists and don't worry how they got that way or fix the circumstances that they are responding to. Or both.

What will not cure fascism is voting it out of office and going back to the status quo that is in fact the circumstances that the fascists are responding to in the first place.

Dying in the cold

This story seemed beyond melancholy to me and of course it asks questions that we may not comfortably answer.

Could we walk past a man dying in the street or would we stop? Have we already walked by a person in extreme need?

More importantly, I feel, it illuminates how our world is. People entirely lacking community can die like this because there is no one to see them and say, oh it's Rene, he cannot be okay like that. Without community, you are just an individual whom people see and say, Oh, I don't want to disturb him since he's chosen to lie in the street like that. If I wake him, he might be angry or aggressive.

We almost expect each other to be aggressive. We see strangers as potentially harmful, where perhaps we might once have seen them as somewhat benign. It's almost as though we live in a world that has birthed in us a deep suspicion of each other.

It is almost as though we have learned not to want anything from any other person, to be islands impervious to each other. And if anyone does reach out to us, we fear that it will not be to give us anything but to take. Is it that that is our experience of each other? Not really, but we act as though it is. We can't either be the first to reach out because we have learned just as much to fear that we will be taken advantage of. 

We never ask whether that would actually matter.

*

It's another question why there is the focus on the fact this guy took photos of flamenco artists and somehow this makes for a greater tragedy. Is it okay then that 600 homeless people die each year in France? If he'd just been nobody, would that be fine?

But you can't just shake every rough sleeper awake to check that they are awake. But was this what was at stake here? Wasn't Rene in the middle of the pavement? Didn't people just step around him? Who sleeps like that? A drunk, one supposes.

But should you just let someone who's passed out on the pavement lie there in the cold?

Of course not. Let us not pretend that people did not know they ought to stop. It's the whole Kitty Genovese affair. Although it turns out that some of the bystanders who saw or overheard Kitty's murder did contact the police. It is thought to be an instance of the "bystander effect" though. 

The bystander effect is an outcome of there being lots of people around. The individual simply assumes someone else will do something about the problem. This was noted by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: he called this someone else's problem.

So far from feeling Rene was okay, the people who walked past him may simply have thought he was someone else's problem, nothing to do with them. And if we're honest, we can feel sympathy for them because this has happened to us too. We've walked past things that we should have done something about. We've failed to protest things that happened to other people. 

The right thing to do is to stop and ask the man on the pavement whether he is okay. If he's a rough sleeper, he needs to be out of the weather anyway. If he's just drunk, he'll tell you to fuck off and you'll be unharmed. But... well, it's easy to know and we probably do all know what is the right thing to do. However, the right thing can be incredibly hard to accomplish. It takes real courage -- courage that will mostly be unheralded -- to do it. It can have adverse consequences.

But it's the right thing not to let someone die in the cold.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Knowing more or less

 Sometimes knowing more must be considered worse.


I was thinking that as I watched the White Queen. The first time I watched it, I was just swept away by the romance and drama. I say swept away but I mean mildly engaged. No more than that. I rarely get swept away by anything. I suppose that's what's wrong with me if you could put it in a nutshell. That and the truth that when I *am* swept away, I'm *really* unmoored, really swept, all at sea.


So I'm rewatching the White Queen and I hadn't remembered that there are very few battle scenes. Which makes sense. It's not really about the Wars of the Roses as such. But it features Barnet. And the failure of historicism really bites. OMG. There's no readeption. Warwick lands in England, not Edward. Edward is not reclaiming his throne; Margaret of Anjou is trying to take it. 


And the battle! Ugh. At Barnet, Warwick bombarded what he thought were Edward's positions all night. The two armies were in open fields but it was foggy, so he didn't realise Edward had snuck up a lot closer to him. So he overshot Edward, who did not fire back. At dawn, Edward surprise attacked. Warwick's men held and one wing of Edward's army was crushed and forced from the battlefield but when the troops who had crushed them came back, there was a confusion over banners, cries of treachery and Warwick's army broke.


In the film, there is no artillery. No archers either. And Edward's army, all in one group, not formed into battles, is all dismounted, with nary a horse in sight. They creep through a foggy forest, clearly in daylight, and then sprint into Warwick's army. They then do that single combat thing that films love but has no connection to reality, with the show's protagonists slaughtering dozens of men because they are obviously better warriors than the common soldiery. Edward wins easily; there's no hint of treachery, no confusion, no luck, and the fog has pretty much vanished the moment the two armies meet.


Strangely, by Tewkesbury, one side or other has acquired artillery, because we hear it. We don't see the battle, which is probably a blessing.


*


None of that matters, of course. I don't think it hurts anything to miss the readeption and the history is not very sound in the show anyway. It's not a good enough show to care. It's kind of a pity because the interplay of relationships and people would have made a good series. But probably not one that casual viewers could fall in love with.


When you know, you get fixated on the errors, especially when they are battles that run amiss. And you want the people to be real, and the setting -- generally okay in the White Queen -- to be accurate. You want the characters to be more like how they were: Margaret Beaufort smaller and younger -- if her kid is ten, she is in her early 20s, Margaret of Anjou prettier, the Neville girls much haughtier, Richard Duke of Gloucester much younger (he's clearly in his 20s at Tewkesbury but he should be in his late teens), Edward fatter and taller (he should tower over most other people).


*


Life is like that. When you know more, you want things to be different. You want people to be what you imagine them to be. It's kind of the reverse of the show: in historical fiction, you want people to be who they were; in life, you want people not to be who they are but to be what you pictured.


Well, you have to swallow it, either way. You have to pass over the fiction. I start the new year single, with a new job, and problems that I can take as challenges or trials. So that's not so bad. Perhaps I can write my own version of history, change the truth into something kinder. I have only me to rely on, only me to write that story, only me. So.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

See

 The world of information is like a sea, and like the sea you can see anything you want to in it. Yet it remains unformed, just water and salt, and the world remains just the world, unordered and unbounded, unless we give it order and bounds, and then we can only do so to the extent we do the sea.