Recalling My First (And Only) Novel

“One of these days”, I keep telling myself, “I’m gonna finish writing that novel”

But I don’t have patience for that shit. Or the attention span.

Yet after nearly two years of finishing an impressive first draft, I believe it would be interesting to revisit. I initially completed it and deliberately waited awhile until I would begin revisions. It was written over the course of two to three months in a fury of inspiration. I needed some time away from it. I needed to discover what it meant to me. Now, a couple of years removed from it, it almost slipped my mind.

But who the fuck am I kidding? I ain’t ever going to finish that thing. Nevertheless, looking it over for the first time in awhile, it reveals a lot about who I was.

The story is simple: a loser and drug abuser, Rod Townshend, in his early 20s gets caught up with an older woman and eventually ruins her son (and his girlfriend’s) life. Meanwhile, Rod also gets mixed up drunken and legendary local writer and messes around with some white trash crack whores.

In my mind, I was trying to create a Charles Bukowski-like adventure on the plains of east Oklahoma. I was trying to think of the shittiest place to put a novel, and that’s what I came up with.

The story itself doesn’t sound elaborate, but it explored the existential themes of escaping (or denying) the self that lies underneath…the problems we inherit…and the inescapable doom of becoming who we are. Rod Townshend was comfortable with his fate, until the antagonist…infamous writer Jack Schilling….pushes him to the brink. Rod temporarily escapes his self-imposed doom, only to later discover that Jack was right…he’s never going to change.

The paragraph above is better than anything that I wrote in that novel.

But there were two films that inspired this story, and neither of them should come as a surprise to anyone: The Last Temptation of Christ and Casino Royale. These films are (somewhat) thematically related.

Hear me out.

In The Last Temptation of Christ, we see Jesus struggle with his mission. He wants to serve God, yet he yearns to live a human life. Finally, when it comes time to sacrifice on the Cross, he is informed that he’s not the Messiah and is free to live his life. So Jesus lives on to old age, only to find out that it was HE that betrayed Judas by NOT dying on the Cross and his whole life after the Crucifixion was a lie. In a state of shock, Jesus repents then finds himself back on the cross where he blissfully shouts “It is accomplished!”.

In Casino Royale, James Bond doesn’t necessarily have the same internal struggle. Yet when he meets Vesper Lynd, he becomes willing to put aside his ass-kicking, boozing, and womanizing ways to be with her. After being brutally tortured, Vesper helps nurture Bond back to health and he later resigns from the Secret Service to travel around the world with his love. Later, he finds out it was all a betrayal. Finally, Bond shoots down the man who set him up, where he looks into the camera and says “My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Both films have a strange detour in the last act. After coming off the cross, Jesus is seen marrying Mary Magdalene, having children, and growing to old age. Meanwhile, Bond is seen in a sickly manner and later admits to loving a woman…which was something that wasn’t seen since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. These scenes feel out of place in both films, and perhaps deliberately so. Both characters are living a life that they’ve imagined for themselves, only to find out that it’s all a lie.

In the end, however, order is restored. Jesus fulfills His mission to become Savior for all humanity, and Bond becomes the classic character that we all know and love. Nothing changes for the audience…their hero still saves the day. But such heroics come at a deep personal cost….no matter what, Jesus Christ HAS to be the Savior, and James Bond HAS to be an alcoholic, womanizing secret agent. They can’t escape who they are.

Rod Townshend is presented with the same dilemma.

He’s a boozing, lazy, piece of shit. He brings out the worst in people. Perhaps Rod doesn’t intentionally mean to be this way, he just IS. And none of this is lost on Jack Schilling who, like Rod, has the same self-destructive tendencies. But unlike Rod, Jack is happy with this role. He THRIVES in it.

After a series of unfortunate events, Rod escapes Jack and the destruction he left behind…only to discover the life he THOUGHT he wanted. Yet in the end, people are doomed to be who they are, and it all becomes a lie. Jack was right about Rod the whole time…he’s a wrecking ball on other’s emotions.

My life was somewhat coming up by the seams at this time. I believe my first go-around with AA occurred shortly after completing the draft. Things were still normal however…I completed my graduate degree a few months earlier and I was steadily climbing the ladder. But I knew I had a drinking problem.

Did I believe that I was Rod Townshend?

I might’ve been able to check all the marks of a normal person…an education, a marriage, a career….but was all that not real? Am I really just a lazy alcoholic living a false life?

It all came crumbling down a few months ago. I was exposed for who I was…but not in the way you might think. I was exposed as an alcoholic, but I also found out what was important to me. The bars, the booze…that was the façade. Rod Townshend was the false life I was living.

I don’t know if that makes sense.

But I’m glad that I rediscovered “Untitled4” or whatever it was called. I probably won’t ever finish the book, but it does leave me curious….is that end of Rod Townshend?

 

 

Thought of the Day: “Discovery” IS “Star Trek”, just not GOOD “Star Trek”

It completely slipped my mind that Nicholas Meyer, the man who breathed new life into Star Trek with The Wrath of Khan, was also serving as “executive consultant” for Star Trek Discovery. I’m sure that there’s some nerd out there that could tell me, but I wonder what exactly his contributions are to the new show?

Meyer did a pretty good job with expanding upon the Klingons in Star Trek VI. He also mentioned in one of his commentaries that he enjoyed reading subtitles. That’s gotta be Meyer right there! I mean, most shows would never have the guts to include entire scenes spoken in another language…especially not a fake language. So I’m hoping that that’s ol’ Nick Meyer setting his foot down.

But like Star Trek’s II and VI, there’s an air of cynicism that permeates Discovery. In II and VI, the story was dealing with pre-established characters…beloved characters…that had the leeway to explore the darker side of themselves. Take for example Kirk’s depression at the beginning of II and blatant racism against Klingons in VI. As a beloved character, Captain Kirk was able to display those emotions in convincing way without the audience thinking this is not Star Trek. It’s what made those scenes all the more convincing (or shocking), because in seeing Kirk be the epitome of Starfleet ideals throughout much of the series, he now had those ideals challenged only to later have them reaffirmed…thus making the ideals of STAR TREK reaffirmed to the audience. Discovery doesn’t have the same benefits for the audience that those films had.

To my recollection, Discovery begins in the typical highly-idealistic world of Star Trek, but when the Klingons are introduced it quickly descends into the highly militaristic world that Meyer thrives in. I believe this to be the biggest point of contention between Roddenberry’s Trek and Meyer’s Trek. Despite heavily resembling a military organization, according to Roddenberry, Starfleet is an exploratory operation first and foremost…a beacon for peace for the galaxy. While Meyer might not contest that, Starfleet in his eyes is absolutely a military organization and it’s only lying to itself if it says otherwise. He never bought into the optimism that the original series presented. In the end, however, Meyer is still involved in Star Trek and his vision is far more palatable to modern audiences. Therefore, Discovery takes on the darker and realistic mold that is far more in the style of Meyer than Roddenberry.

That being said, even in though things got pretty dark in II and VI, the ideals of the Federation, Starfleet, and Star Trek as a whole were challenged…. but they were ultimately upheld. Captain Lorca seems like a character that perfectly fits Meyer’s Starfleet…a Captain that understands what Starfleet is, but also understands that he is at war and must do what he can to win it. Such archetypes in previous Trek would have been clearly villainous (think Ronny Cox in TNG and Peter Weller in Into Darkness), but this time it’s a central character. Lorca is clearly a warmonger, but if previous Trek is any indication, such violent ideation will eventually be decried. (Either by coming to his senses or becoming an all-out villain)

I believe that this is what the producers might be doing. There’s already been plenty of hints about this, like the engineer’s clear objections to Lorca’s motivations or the doctor’s unwillingness to “partake in murder”, to name a couple. This might be the overall theme of the series: through the Federation’s war with the Klingons, it must loose itself to find itself again. In that sense, Discovery is very much Star Trek….I believe Alex Kurtzman said as much, hence the NAME Discovery.

So hopefully Trekkies will be able to sleep better at night. (I know I will)

BUT, just because it is Star Trek doesn’t mean that it’s GOOD Star Trek.

I was sad to see Michelle Yeoh’s character killed off so soon (I don’t give a fuck about spoilers). She seemed to be a great Starfleet captain and Sonequa Martin-Green’s character would have benefited greatly with more interaction with her. Had there of been more development (namely a greater exploration Martin-Green’s prior experience with Klingons, her time on Vulcan, and just about everything), then her actions wouldn’t have seemed so ridiculous in the first couple of episodes. To me, Yeoh would have made a great catalyst for that exploration. But, perhaps her missing presence is likely deliberate…to present an image that Martin-Green and Saru are striving towards.

But Yeoh has been far and away my favorite character so far. Mary Wiseman’s part is also interesting, as she presents someone that isn’t often seen in Starfleet. (Recall Lt. Barclay). There’s been a lot of buzz about Saru, and indeed he is a memorable character, but that archetype is a bit played out in modern television. But his scenes with Martin-Green do bring out the best in each character…subtlety reminiscent of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship, with a mix of each characterization found in the two.

I wish that there was more to say about Sonequa Martin-Green. She’s a great actress, but the writers aren’t doing her justice. It feels as though they don’t know what they want her to be. There’s nothing defining about her, although she ably plays whatever role they write for her. That being said, some fan asked the producers if they’re going to give Martin-Green a love interest. Don’t. That’s actually one of the things the writers are doing right by this character….not providing her a male to lean upon (assuming that’s her thing). I’d like to see a strong female character that doesn’t rely upon a love interest to be interesting. At the time of me writing this, there’s still several episodes left in the first season…so there’s a lot of room for character development.

But then there’s the aesthetics….

oh boy.

Yes, the Klingons look ridiculous. Star Trek gets a lot of flack for simply slapping makeup on a forehead and calling it an alien. Clearly, the producers were going for a more menacing/alien look for the Klingons, but they went in the wrong direction. There’s too much makeup and the actors clearly can’t in it. But what bothers me most is….why fuck with something that worked? The old Klingon look might not have been elaborate, but so what? It was effective…it was classic…and it was immediately recognizable. Now they just look, well, too ALIEN.

I also hate the uniforms and the Discovery itself. Part of the appeal of Star Trek to me, as a kid, was the colorful uniforms. Clearly they’re going to introduce those later, but even the design is kinda…meh. As for the Discovery, I was never a fan of that look….which I believe was influenced by an early (unused) Enterprise design for Phase II. There’s probably a reason why it was rejected, just saying. Plus, a saucer section that can spin? C’mon.

But one thing that I simply cannot forgive are the fucking holograms.

Yet the one thing that disappoints me most about this new series is it’s total lack of scope. I clearly remember watching the first episode and thinking: “is that it?”

Look, Discovery is definitely STAR TREK. Let’s make no mistake about that. There’s just a lot of work to be done. And that’s okay! TNG was god-awful the first season, way worse than Discovery, but that turned out pretty well didn’t it?

 

 

Our Strange Relationship With Sleep

I have an awkward sleep schedule. And I hate it.

Perhaps I have a different biology, but I need 8 hours….hell, I need MORE than 8 hours. But between working night shifts and hammering out thousands of words a day, I’ve developed a shitty schedule that alternates between 4 and 12 hours of sleep. And I feel it. It’s not natural. I never know what day it is. Yet if you’ve been around enough idiots like I have, many like to brag about their alarming lack of sleep.

“I only slept two hours and have worked 40 hours of overtime this week!”

Why would you be proud of that? You’re essentially affirming that you’re a slave.

But this is where we find ourselves. It’s become a virtue to sell our souls to minimum wage and decry rest. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”, many like to proclaim. Yet in making such proclamations, we’re driving ourselves closer to death!

In America, we like to blow our wads early. Perhaps it’s that way everywhere. But we believe in youth. We believe in racing to the top. The clock is always ticking, and we’re running out of seconds. In order to be successful, we have to manage our time wisely. The biggest time waster? Sleep. We don’t view life as a pleasurable stroll in the park…it’s a mother fucking sprint.

So we’re raising generation after generation of miserable pricks, whose sole purpose in life is to not be happy, but to be monetarily successful. Because it’s not enough to be content with oneself, but others must also look upon you with awe. That’s what matters most of all. So fuck smelling the roses, fuck being happy…there’s too much work to be done.

Meanwhile, companies are making record profits and productivity has skyrocketed. And those at the bottom are working longer hours, getting less sleep, and none of it is showing up on their paycheck. Hard work doesn’t make YOU successful, only the company you work for. Yet they might make you feel important by promoting you to middle management….which equals to nothing but longer hours with slightly more pay. It’s only the illusion of success that companies are selling.

I don’t know, maybe that last part has nothing to do with anything.

But one of my favorite books is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Mind you, sometimes I get that book and Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order mixed up. So I might get the origins of my facts confused. Yet one of the things I learned from Harari’s book is the sudden development of production-based societies out of hunter-gatherer societies. It more or less began with the domestication of wheat (or as stated in the book….”wheat domesticated humans”), then suddenly humans go from working maybe two hours a day to being actively employed. The causes of such a shift can be debated, and there are likely many, but the result was disastrous (according to Harari) because it created widespread malnourishment among other societal and health problems. (Just read the book)

While this transformation out of hunter-gatherer societies has brought about many technological and humanitarian achievements, we’ve also traded in our natural habitat for an artificially produced one. OR, as Allen Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield might say…we left our Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation, where our psychology evolved to fit the needs of hunter-gatherer societies (where much of human history occurred), and we are now surviving in the modern world. We might be living longer, which might lead one to believe that we are “healthier”, but leaving the hunting fields for the factories and offices has come at the cost of our mental health. As a result, what might’ve been considered natural responses to stress have been manipulated to fit the criteria of anxiety, depression, and a host of other “disorders”, because they don’t quite fit in with behaviors of the modern world.

Therefore, we are now a nation of heavily medicated assholes. A lack of sleep isn’t the only cause of this problem, but the pressures of modernity have certainly made less sleeping a “virtue”…which in turn, leads to more stress…which leads to more “disordered” behavior.

Many like to claim that they don’t need 8 hours of sleep, but I’m calling bullshit.

In this Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation, it is highly unlikely that individuals needed less than 8 hours of sleep to meet the demands of their culture. Not saying it didn’t happen, but such occurrences were likely rare. Probably not enough to change the chemistry of the brain. And we have LARGE FUCKING BRAINS compared to our body size. It’s not as easy as shutting it down for a couple of hours each day and saying “good enough”. Such a complex system needs maintenance. Therefore, you’re not getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night because “you don’t need it”…it’s likely a result of stress brought upon by external factors or a “disordered” behavior (like anxiety), and continuing to not get enough sleep only exasperates the problem.

Look, I’m not saying there aren’t those abnormal folks that don’t need a full 8 hours. I’m just saying that there’s probably not enough of them out there to where I meet 5 or 6 a day. As a general rule, if you think you’re this person…you aren’t.

I had a friend that justified his lack of sleep by saying “when you’re asleep, it’s like you’re dead”. He was also a dick to everyone. While it’s easy to call this person an idiot, it’s also the attitude most of us take.

We’re bombarded with the message “Do more”. Go the extra mile at work. Continue to stack up college diplomas. Cut out any wasteful time that might impede your progress…to include a basic life function…sleep!

But to what end? Does it make us happier? Are we really doing those things to help ourselves? Or are we really doing them to put on the façade…to disguise the fact that we’re corporate slaves…beholden only to the almighty dollar? When we lose sleep, we’re benefiting no one. We’re only affirming that our will is controlled by something else.

Soo….do less?

I don’t know. But just look at human beings as a species. We’re mother fucking animals, yet we put on slacks, stress over money, work over 40 hours a week, and purposefully make ourselves miserable. How’s that for being “evolved”?

“Let’s Get Sober” Podcast: There Are No Second Chances in America

Copy of LET's GeT Sober (4)

It’s surreal to go back listen to some of the things I said before rehab. For me, at least.

I was revisiting the Let’s Get Sober podcast. Being extremely busy the last few days, I haven’t really had the time to write up any new posts. I’ve been hitting the ground running on revitalizing the philosophy side of Philosophy Redux…in addition to working full time and working on other projects….that I had to fill this blog with something to keep momentum going.

And then I came across episode 7.

It’s not my best work, but it did remind me of an event earlier this year that rattled me. Being of “liberal mind”, I like to think that anything is forgivable, as long as someone paid their dues and was remorseful.

Come to find out, that’s easier said that done.

Being in AA rooms, you find that everybody has stories of regret. As the saying goes, “No one attends AA because they’re on a winning streak.” So it’s easy to find forgiveness in these halls because nearly everyone has traversed similar paths.

But some go too far.

I believe the person that expressed his actions was genuinely remorseful, but I simply couldn’t look the man in the eye. I was disgusted by everything he said. But when all was said and done….I was far more disgusted with my reaction.

I’ve said before that America isn’t ready for criminal justice reform. Myself included. Our feelings of moral superiority plague us. But as I said (not so eloquently) in the podcast “there’s a Dennis Hopper in all of us” (it’ll make sense when you listen to it). And the only way to keep the monster at bay is to understand it, rather than ignore it. When we reckon with these demons, then America will be ready for such reforms.

Here’s the episode below. As a reminder, this happened in April. Not at a recent meeting.

Additionally, back in May, I wrote another post that somewhat explores my drunken behavior.

THE BLIND SIDE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
I relapsed yesterday.

I don’t know what it is about me. Yet everywhere I go, I manage to piss someone off. Yesterday, in the bar, someone wanted to hit me. I don’t recall it. I don’t recall, at any point, being angry or upset. But somehow, somebody wanted to punch me in the face. It is by the grace of God that I have never been severely injured. Nor did I get thrown out of the bar. So once again I dodged a bullet.

I suppose a buddy of mine saved me from myself. He thought the encounter was hilarious.

It doesn’t really matter if it’s not entirely my fault. I don’t like contributing to people’s bad nights.

The closest I ever got to being critically injured was the night I didn’t attend my college graduation. Under the influence of alcohol, energy drinks, and likely drugs, I blacked out. Not a single thing that I remember for nearly two hours. When I did regain consciousness, I was being held face down on the kitchen floor. My arm extended out as a man was preparing to break it. There was a party that night, and apparently everybody left due to my erratic behavior. The gentleman holding me down was hosting the party.
Somehow I talked my way out of getting my arm broken. The same mouth that got me into trouble also got me out. The following morning he explained to me what happened. I don’t know if his story was true, and it didn’t matter.

Stress can cause people to have strange experiences. The fact that I angered all of my friends, and didn’t know how, caused me to have an out-of-body experience. In the months leading up to the event, I was inebriated everyday. Finally, there was a moment of sobriety. I had a meltdown.

I don’t know why I started drinking yesterday. I just found myself drunk. Then ended up at the bars and left without remembering anything. There’s a blind spot in my consciousness, a side of me that I just can’t see. I’d like to think that I’m in control. Yet clearly I’m not.

And that’s what terrifies me.

-May, 2017

The Curse of Passion

In rehab, people argue all of the time. Especially in group meetings.

Although I thought that these arguments were a complete waste of time, I nevertheless engaged them. I mean, why not?

The last “debate” I got into, some kid was trying to define the meaning of success. He wanted to be a YouTube sensation. He was going to be a rapper/DJ, and expected to be a millionaire by 30.

Most people would have simply rolled their eyes or discarded this conversation as nothing but a misguided dream of youth. But I was having none of it. For him, it was all about the money and the “bitches”.

Someone needed to speak up.

“So you’re not in it for the music?” I asked. I probably should have called him out for calling women “bitches” as well, I feel kinda bad about that.

But this conversation has sort of stuck in my crawl.

Not because it was the dreams of some kid. If he becomes successful, good for him. But because it’s a total lack of commitment to craft. Where’s the story? Where’s the love? Where’s the conflict? WHERE’S THE PASSION?

And he’s not the only one. If you’ve spent any amount of time around pretentious white people, it isn’t long before you hear “I’m writing a book”. Like they want you to heap praise onto them for something they haven’t completed yet.

If you truly love something, you won’t give a fuck what people think. One shouldn’t go into the arts for the appreciation of others. Sadly, that’s why MOST people are attracted to it. Not gonna lie, there’s probably some part of my subconscious that’s attracted to that end. But if that’s the primary motivation, you and me are bound to be disappointed. Art, to a degree, is to be cathartic….a release of one’s own emotions, to create something that’s reflective of the artist.

It won’t matter if it’s appreciated, as long as the final product is something the artist truly wanted to construct. The objective isn’t to make something that others want to see, but to create something YOU want to see.

How true one is to their own passion is the genius of art. To FEEL it, one must be brave enough to face their own realities. Which is why most of the great artists are (were) absolutely insane.

TO BE great is to be insane. Which is why passion is not a gift to the possessor….but is a curse.

Again, think back to Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Christ never at any point felt blessed that he had to die for all of humanity. He was burdened by it. To take pleasure in it would have meant that it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. Christ had gifts and was given a duty of heavy burden….to have gifts, and be “blessed” with the burden of genius is no blessing.

The saying “dance like no one’s watching” is such a cliché. It’s thrown around haphazardly without any sort of thought. But do we have the courage to practice it? I believe that it was Diogenes that went around Ancient Greece arguing with himself. It didn’t matter if you acknowledge the shit he was saying, it was important to him. He had such conviction in his lifestyle and philosophy, that he infamously didn’t give a fuck that he was talking to Alexander the Great. Nowadays, we’d just consider this person clinically insane or blow them off as simply being a homeless person.

In those days, that person was a philosopher!

But Western society has become too formalized to permit the normalization of such behavior. While simultaneously wishing to break out of such social demands, we also steadfastly uphold them. We don’t do this through any legalized practice, but (if I’m understanding this correctly) through a Zizekian (or Lacanian) “Big Other”. Or through some invisible order that socialized peoples attempt to abide by. This, in my view, hasn’t KILLED artistic genius, but has shifted it around the struggle between duty and meaning to one’s self and their responsibility as a socialized creature. Therefore, partly explaining why a Diogenes-like thinking is difficult to come by these days.

So while artistic genius hasn’t be killed (or rather, it’s been shifted), it has been stymied by the predominance of this “Big Other”. Or rather, modern artists attempt to appeal to this Big Other (a non-existent entity), which in turn jeopardizes the integrity of their work. Artists begin to see their own worth in how others perceive them…which is an anxiety that’s perpetuated by the prevalence digital media outlets. We, as spectators, partake in this “Big Other” by rewarding and consuming cheap content. Therefore merit is not found in quality or genuine artistic genius, but through clicks, likes, and shares.

Art is not a democracy.

We can argue that these threats have been made against art since the beginning of time. Censorship might have been the greatest threat once, but in our own era it has become the “tyranny of the majority” for a lack of a better description. This new threat promotes not artistic genius, but the drive to be noticed rather than being true to one’s craft.

So once again, we find ourselves struggling to find authenticity. Which is why the world of Blade Runner is so relevant now.

Speaking of which, I find it funny that so many of the criticisms of Blade Runner: 2049 are similar to the ones from the 1982 film. If you went in expecting to see Ryan Gosling mow down an army of replicants, then you’re an idiot. People were also expecting that in 1982 and they missed out on one of the greatest films of all time. Blade Runner: 2049 isn’t an action film, it’s genuine sci-fi. And since it’s underperforming at the box office, you’d be doing the film, and yourself, a great disservice by avoiding it. It’s truly a cinematic experience, so go shell out a few dollars and three hours of your life and go see this movie!

 

Thought of the Day: The NFL Protests and Returning to Philosophy

I’m a football nerd.

I’m trying to enjoy the sport before it’s outlawed or people quit watching it due to overexposure or boycott.

And truthfully, I haven’t really given two thoughts towards this “kneeling” thing. It was interesting while Colin Kaepernick was doing it. He was actually talking about police brutality. Now everyone’s doing it, and nobody knows why.

I mean, I could be wrong. But has anybody actually talked about police brutality or a criminal justice system that biased against African-Americans in regards to the NFL protest?

Is it to protest Trump? Who gives a shit what that guy thinks? Hasn’t the Left learned that the guy is just a troll? The more attention you pay to him, the stronger he gets. The man is President and he still only cares about ratings and retweets. Continue to look his way whenever he says something stupid, and he’ll just mobilize his massive followers to victory in 2020.

So for once in your life, follow the best advice the internet has ever provided: don’t feed the troll.

The only way that this protest makes any sense is if players are pissed off that Matt Cassel has a job and Kaepernick doesn’t. And that is a protest I can get behind. But if this thing is going to continue, let’s keep our eye on the ball (get it?) and talk about the subjects that really matter: criminal justice reform, mass incarceration, and police bias against Black Lives.

I mean, again, I could be wrong….but wasn’t that what Kaepernick’s protest was about? That seems to have been lost somewhere in the shuffle.

But I won’t beat a dead horse here. Enough has been said about it from sportscasters, pundits, and others. To me, it doesn’t really mean anything if you’re only doing it to give a big FU to some idiot….and NOT doing it to bring light to important issues. Now, it’s only a drama hour to boost Trump’s ratings…as evidenced by sending Mike Pence to a game, only to have him walk out of it!

What a waste of an (already unimportant) office!

But I digress…

Engaging in this cheap Trump drama hour can only damage the intellect. I’ve mentioned previously that I felt politics have a far more damaging impact on society than pornography. Under a President Trump, this problem has been only made worse. So I gotta move on…

I’ve been slowly returning to health. Since getting out of rehab, I’ve been such a busy body….working long hours, engaging in outside projects….that I’ve neglected the intellectual integrity of this blog. I’ve been rereading some of the old My Life With Kant stuff and old posts. And a lot of that stuff was really out there. I miss that.

So it’s time that I make a return.

I’ve talked shit about Ancient Greek philosophy before. For no particular reason, I was just too lazy to read it. But now I’m going to reassess that outlook.

So it’s time to pound the books and dig through the Stanford Internet Encyclopedia because philosophy is back (in a few days).

 

 

Thought of the Day: The Appeal to Safety

The rallying argument of conservative media during the past few days, in defense of particular freedoms granted by the 2nd Amendment, have been thus:

It’s the price of freedom.

You, me, or any of our loved ones can be shot and killed at any moment. But that’s what it means to live in a free society. Safety cannot be guaranteed.

And in fairness, it’s not a bad argument. Especially when we consider how guns and assault weapons have been available in American society. In many sectors, they play a huge part in that culture. Can sweeping legislation easily take away these so-called “freedoms”?

Some have brought up Prohibition. Alcohol has had as much of a damaging effect on society as guns, yet when America experimented with banning it, it failed miserably. Some fear the same fate awaits America again should the 2nd Amendment be repealed.

Others have argued that having armed citizens is necessary towards preventing a tyrannical government. In fact, they continue, that’s the very purpose behind the 2nd Amendment. The Founding Fathers were such geniuses, that everything they ever said and did is applicable for America today. Take away the 2nd Amendment, suddenly the government has the power to overrun its citizens.

And it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

The Left, meanwhile, doesn’t quite take this argument seriously. Naturally. I’ve seen some go as far to argue that the government has the responsibility to protect us from gun-wielding madmen….that safety MUST be guaranteed. That the 2nd Amendment is outdated, and owning a gun adds nothing to our freedoms. The dangers that they present only tread on our freedoms.

I don’t live in a world where one argument has a monopoly on truth. I will personally never own a gun. I’m not paranoid about the government. Owning a gun seems like overkill. I have no personal interest in ever killing someone, even for protection because such occasions are extreme and rare. And although one could ARGUE (not that I agree with it) that guns make society as a whole safer…they do not make ME safer. They more than likely put me in danger, along with everyone I know.

At the same time, I can’t allow myself to walk around in the world paranoid that I’m going to get shot. While I like to think the government is looking out for me, I take the presumption that safety IS my responsibility….because that is the price we pay for living in a free society.

While I ultimately agree with what gun-enthusiasts are arguing, even right down to the balance of power maintained by having armed citizens…what gun owners and 2nd Amendment defenders fail to take into account is the price we pay for living in a free society.

What? Am I repeating myself?

Basically citizens are free to choose what we find acceptable in modern society. While guns were once considered an acceptable choice…that is increasingly falling out of vogue. Times change, and citizens are finding the necessity of possessing automatic weapons unacceptable. Those that own them are being seen as paranoid, overcompensating, or downright dangerous. This may not ever become reflected in our legislation, but the perception is changing against guns and the people that own them. And that will be the downfall of gun-culture (if there is to be a downfall).

And THAT’S the price we pay for living in a free society.

Of course, the Right can counter with the whole “tyranny of the majority” argument. But that’s not what this is about.

Personally, I thought that the Left had some audacity to utilize this “appeal to safety” in their recent talking points. It wasn’t that long ago that George W. Bush was President. There was the Patriot Act. And everyone was arguing that in a free society, safety cannot be guaranteed. Because we can’t allow our need for safety to trample on our freedoms.

Or, as Ben Franklin said “those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I recall that every liberal was chanting that saying (regardless of whether or not that’s what Franklin meant). And now, it’s the conservative’s turn to use this line.

What kind of world are we living in?

While I’m sympathetic to the anti-gun movement, I believe that it’s important for the Left to not fall into the “safety over liberty” trap. It’s not a winning argument, it’s hypocritical, and it goes against everything that liberals should stand for. But it just goes to show how easy it is to use this logic.

No side has a monopoly on truth. Additionally, neither side is immune to being ignorant.