Wednesday, June 12, 2019



This thought is not about communities of people who share their "reality tunnels" as a form of supporting each other, but rather about the vortex that can form when moral actions take people right back into what they were trying to avoid.

For instance, pushing people who are stigmatized out of polite society and into what forms a society of its own, only encourages and even traps them.  The outsider group becomes rewarding, even beloved.

Or the strange phenomenon that making something wicked makes it more valuable: what is forbidden is wanted.  The powerful find themselves entitled to what is wicked, esp the taboos that are supposed to protect helpless people.  Converting everyone to accept and approve of sex work lessens its value by making it ordinary.

One of the most pervasive surprise is behavior based on "freedom" that actually exacerbates (I didn't say causes) the unwanted behavior in attempts to rely on official punishment for safety, to taunt transgressors from behind a glass wall.  I see daily posts on Twitter from young women who believe being sexy is being powerful and who present themselves bedecked with enticements they consider sexy.  Yet they are only enflaming the kind of male who would respond with violence, even death.  It's called teasing and entrapment.

Sometimes a "rule" in society is so strong that it becomes oppressive and triggers a reversal backlash instead of strategies of moderation and justice.  When this happens, as has happened with sexual conduct, the new reversed "rule" becomes a problem and calls out restrictions to try to restore order.  We lurch from binary bathrooms to inclusion of everyone in one facility, and then discover abuses that can only be addressed by separation.  Maybe requiring a third separate version for the handicapped or the trans.  Again there are unlikely to be strategies of moderation and justice.

Those who try to help others -- not in a hollow do-gooder ways, but as compassionate people -- are often rejected because of horror of being changed or having one's "reality tunnel" changed.  It just feels too dangerous.  Identity is thought to be fragile.  But also, people who are always in trouble for whatever reason, can cling to helpers and convert them into social workers who don't necessarily have the skills to cope with predatory authorities or corrupters.  If the helpers become too much like social workers, the needy people will not like them anymore.  Beyond that, having to cope with people who are always in grief, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and inert can wear the helper down into a state of depression, so that THEY need help.

Consider the dilemma of mass shootings.  Efforts to end them only push everyone away from the reality and into the abstract symbolism of gun ownership.  Attempts to raise up the identities of victims deepens our grief, but trying to understand the perps puts all the attention on them, which is just what motivated them to strike.

This observation is from Dexter Palmer, on Twitter"A habit that Twitter inadvertently teaches is that texts are a series of discrete fragments, each of which must be individually hardened against the most ungenerous interpretations—this is damaging for most other prose forms and particularly fatal for fiction."  One of the high values of the devisers of Twitter, Blogger and Medium is theoretically fine fiction, but they teach the opposite, something almost like graffiti.

People who quietly have some preference, like maybe a sexual attraction to people of the same cissex, are finally free to come into the open.  The result is a tumultuous free-for-all in which trans-sexual people confuse the category, organizations form that promote only emotional passion as a central point of reference and then try to promote (often at commercial benefit) certain aspects of belonging like painted nails, tattoos, piercings, and extraordinary hair which cause them to be marked and stigmatized in the way that loving the same sex used to be, like creating employment barriers.

In an attempt to reclaim historical gene pool (race) identity, people begin to pick up identifiers that are contemporary and then insist on conformity in the name of some earlier and quite distinct culture.  Instead of being land-based, sun-bitten nomads in leather, the descendants become people in ribbon shirts and jingle dresses.  This is obvious, but inevitably the youngers have different minds, shaped by different forces.  Probably mutations or the lack thereof have evolved them physically, maybe through sugar or milk or gluten tolerances, or just through a way of life full of exercise and sun, meat and roots.  Our children are quite different from their ancestors, but try to maintain belonging, continuity.

A puzzle we can't seem to solve is the effort to make the greatest offense among those who remember it -- the Nazi assortment of holocausts, destruction, and hatred and the symbolisms related to it -- so thoroughly hated that they will never repeat or even be acknowledged.  Instead of erasing them, the passionate hatred and contempt has attracted people who feed on intensity and offensiveness.  I've known several otherwise respectable (mostly) young men who loved to tease people for their religious taboos and dogmas (like offering ham sandwiches to Jews and other stupid jokes).  Particularly youngsters, who can easily assimilate the intensity to their own hatreds and cannot control their violence, partly because they can't know or feel the anguish of others.

This is only a variation on unintended consequences, who thought that the reprehensible behavior of Trump would naturally repel voters but slowly realized it was attracting the defiant and slighted.  It was making Democracy impossible.  Voters were now seen as suckers.  How can we game out people who say "bad" when they mean "good" and "sick" as praise?  Judge them only on consequences?  But what ARE the consequences?

No comments: