Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Certain individuals -- generally white males -- in Browning, Montana, which is a rez -- used to say when they were drunk, which was much of the time,  "At least I'm white", which they assumed was more high-class than being a tribal drunk.  Jews for thousands of years have prayed in gratitude, "Thank you God for not making me a woman."  In both cases, the individuals thought they were "sovereign individuals," but through the ironic mechanism of simply belonging to a sovereign category.

Some people think that wearing a gun makes them sovereign and others don't feel it until they've used the gun to kill.  Being sovereign to them equals the right to kill, whether animals or lesser people.  The Brits, of course, always assumed they were a sovereign nation at the heart of empire.  Americans of the arrogant kind have always thought of themselves as improved Brits on a clean sheet of paper, entirely counter to facts.

Trump, that loser, thought that being the President was Sovereign and so is dismayed that he turned out to be the Servant of the People.  He's locked in his room, the most important person there because he shut everyone else out.  He never heard the Christian Sunday news that Jesus explained the virtue of humbleness, the least of these.  He thought the game was Monopoly -- the guy with the most money is sovereign -- and he thought he could bluff, as in Poker.  There IS a game dimension to life.

But being on top of the pile in the US these days is often a matter of appearance and context.  Maybe this story makes the point:  https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/mbyg4a/chasing-bears-taught-me-to-accept-my-bulk-challenged-body?utm_source=vicetwitterus   Even aging hairy pot-bellied guys who would make most teenagers of either gender laugh their heads off, can be "cute" in the right context.  Of course, the larger context here is the assumption that people who are physically sexually appealing are sovereign.  Because in the US, sex is a kind of money.

Frank Strona, in the TED talk linked above, recommends three qualities one should pursue in order to escape the trap of pseudo-acceptance by "others".  His advice comes down to self-acceptance, compassion, and making your own path.

What if one's authenticity, if not based on appearance, is based on solitude?  What kind of community can people have if they want to be alone most of the time?  What in our past pointed to this?  In my case, I had a father who was shaped like a bear but who suffered a concussion in 1948 that destroyed much of his "sovereign" executive function behind his forehead.  Bear-like appearance touches my attachment to him as a little child, but his incompetence repels me when I get older.  Actually, I was married to a bear, but when he began to lose sovereignty late in life and tried to replace it with tyranny, I left.

Some people change their gender preference, but it doesn't work for me.  My mother was very strong, saved the family, and wanted to make me into her MiniMom.  I resisted.  My sovereignty is based on "books" including print online.  The authors are unseen, though known.  It works most of the time.  I've never been friends with authors in person or even authors per se, even though my concept of "books" is as much about writing as reading.  The future of books is in doubt, but my mother was impressed by books.

I find that a lot of people -- not just Trump -- try to replace sovereignty based on community and competence with power -- violence that makes everyone else lesser.  Like Involuntary Celibates (Incels) who never wonder why no one wants to fuck them but instead beat up the competition.  What makes sovereignty diminish?  If one's pride and status depends upon race, today's dilution and mixing of "race" indicators (notably skin color) means trouble.

Something unexpected but rather British in origin is the concept of professionals.  They are certified by training and obligation to be "better" than the rest of us.  This was reinforced by the fact that professionals (except maybe sexworkers) were almost all men.  Doctors, lawyers, priests -- all men.  An ambitious woman, even professional sexworkers, had to operate through the sovereignty of men.  Diluting and mixing the characteristics of sex-based genders has something like the same effect as mixing races.

Basing sovereignty on the physical body is quick and probably rooted in the biological past pretty deeply.  Birds in particular will try to drive off or kill other birds who look different -- the tragic case of the white crow, for instance.  It's a basis for creating and maintaining a species.  

It's best to accept the idea that human species are capable of creating categories that are not based on appearance or even communities.  Usually this comes from friendship.  The archetype for cross-race friendship for me (age 11) comes from a 1950 movie called "Broken Arrow", one of what I call "stand down" films from just after WWII.  In this version a competent (because ethical cavalry man) is played by James Stewart, who often took that peace-making role in various plots.  It's based on a real life friendship between Geronimo and Lt. Charles Bare Gatewood, an Apache-speaking West Point graduate. (Language has a role.)  I clearly remember the impact of this movie on my thinking.  The plot meant more to me than the fact that the Apache roles were played by whites.

Apart from competent "bears", I also have a friend/sexual imprint from tall, thin, bespectacled, head-trippy guys who think all the time.  Sometimes they're Jewish but more often Scandinavian. (They're taller.)  None of them has a reciprocal imprinted fondness for tubby smart-aleck old women in Montana, which is probably a good thing.  But I like that we can talk about a lot of things.  The original was my undergrad biology partner.

There is a remake of "Broken Arrow" in 1996, described as follows:  "Air Force pilots Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are sent on an overnight top-secret mission with two nuclear weapons aboard their aircraft. But, after they are in the air, Deakins changes the plan. He attempts to kill Hale and then steals the weapons with the intent of selling them to terrorists. However, Hale survives the crash and meets up with park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis). Together, Hale and Terry attempt to thwart Deakins' plan."  

The difference between these films with the same title just about sums up how our culture has changed since 1950.  But Frank Strona is an example of how to find alternatives to destruction by being your own sovereign and finding your community.

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