Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why women will never be good enough...

...for themselves.

If you've been here before- welcome back! If you haven't, here's a quick synopsis of me: I've been around the world one too many times, seen the high life and the gutter, struggled with depression, self loathing, and occasionally liking myself; and along the way I've fucked an inordinate amount of attractive women.

I say that to say this- every one of them, whether a professional model or a regular everyday hot girl from around the corner, felt the way they looked was somehow lacking. Not to me, but internally...in their own experience of being them.

They were confused by this, and sometimes angry. And quite a lot of the time, they would blame men. Men want big tits, or long hair, or...whatever it is that they thought men wanted. I won't delve into the effect porn can have on womens self-esteem here, that's for another night.

And it upset them to think they could never compete with all the images they were inundated with every day. Billboards, TV shows, and...well, the trashy magazines they would bring home against my advice and their better judgement..

The trashy magazines that women put together for other women. No need to name names (all of them do it). The ones that don't make you feel better when you read them, but much, much worse. The ones that contradict themselves within the same paragraph, the ones that titillate with insider scoops on celebrities (always from "a close friend" or "source", never from an actual person that exists and can be held accountable). These magazines are paid for by advertising dollars, and it's cosmetic companies and the rag trade that foot the bill. It's not 'men' and the expectations thereof that hold womens self-esteem to ransom, it's the free market economy, loopholes in consumer protection laws, and a total lack of education as to what those loopholes are, and how to see through them.

We know, and have known for years, that these business interests will lie to the maximum extent allowable by law to sell you some snake oil. But what hit me the other evening was the fact that most women have no idea the extent they are being lied to.

I ran into my ex girlfriend, who was visibly upset. And after a little gentle questioning it became apparent that this young woman, who is so popular she has several fan clubs, each with membership running into the thousands; this woman who is so beautiful most of my male friends have either commented on it or gone coy when she walks by; this incredible force of positive energy and unique natural beauty, was in deep emotional pain, because she felt she simply doesn't measure up to what she perceived to be the yardstick for physical attractiveness.

Somehow not attractive?

She feels the weight of celebrity, of public expectation, of competition with the Kardashians of this world, or celebrity girlfriends, or movie stars. And she has fear that because she sees herself the way she does, the public at large won't support her quest to be the singer she has always dreamed of being.

I tried to explain that the features she despises about herself (because they don't fit the stereotypical norm of what feminine beauty is) are what attracted me before I had the chance to talk and get to know her, and that those looks have far from held her back so far, but it didn't help. I tried to explain that there are many beauties within beauty, and that in the Venn diagram of attractiveness, hers was a valid set with a very large intersection. Still no luck, and I thought chicks dig maths?

Then I remembered something I saw on YouTube years ago, and I looked it up. It was a short video made by Dove (who sell snake oil using a more realistic model roster), showing how photoshop transforms the sometimes average into stunning beauty. I did a design degree once upon a time, and I clearly remember the tricks I learned, and the methods employed by every beauty editor on planet Earth.

I also remember another ex girlfriend (aren't I a winner!?), who shared pictures from her modelling portfolio with me, that she had done for a swimwear company. I can't link to the pictures because she does not in any way like me, and because those images are the intellectual property of people who aren't you or me. In these pictures, the model was stretched and elongated to lengths unattainable without a computer or a medieval torture device, the crazy fact being, this girl was already so tall and thin every time we went out in public, women would ask her if she was a model. She didn't need improving, she was already at the top of the ladder. But they took that body, and turned it into something even a pro model could never attain.

My ex was shocked and amazed, and I wished I thought of the YouTube fix first.

The reason she was so down is because she was fixated on attaining a standard that simply doesn't exist. Now I'm not saying there aren't naturally attractive women (or girls usually) that are about as perfect as you can get (according to the current concept of what's hot nowadays), but they are rare. So rare. And because they are, there's no need to be upset if you don't look like that, because it is actually a statistical aberration, and an actual physical mutation that left them looking so skinny, clear skinned, wide-eyed, and whatever else is in right now.

But print media and movies and whoever else make out like it isn't rare, and that everybody famous looks that way.

They don't. They really don't. Katy Perry is cute in real life. But she does not look like her publicity shots or videos. She is actually a human being from the same planet we're on right now.

*Cue blown minds.

And I couldn't believe my ex didn't know already, the extent images are massaged and manipulated. Doesn't everyone? Apparently not. I thought the fact that we could CGI big hairy monsters that look real into movies now, or make Brad Pitt age in reverse, that people would just cotton on the the fact it's all done in computers.

So I have embedded a bunch of videos at the end of this post, and you can see just how magical the spells can be. Some are better than others, but the top 2 are required viewing.

Remember when MySpace came out? Remember the 'Myspace angle'? This photographic technique swept social media like an STD on crack, and the general idea of it was so (let's be honest) overweight and lonely girls could get attention on te interwebz.

...this was the photographic equivalent of bios on dating sites, that regularly report users to be more active and attractive than they really are. Just like the MP3 freed music for mass storage and easy transfer, Photoshop/Myspace angles made everyday people look a lot more glamorous than they really were, and put the tools of the fashion editor/ad guru in the hands of the hoi polloi.

It had another interesting effect: It showed how much people lie because they hate themselves. It showed how many lonely people out there wanted to play the game too. In an age when your next door neighbour can become a reality TV superstar, and you wonder why it couldn't be you, people feel for the first time like they have a right to be a celebrity. So the kids all became media whores/masters of manipulation, and a fat girl in Alaska with no friends suddenly had 500,000 guys in California all wanting to bang her, requesting her ASL on MSN.

There were/are so many miserable people who just want to belong, and to be thought of as attractive. So they used the tools of oppression employed by big media, and instead of emancipating themselves, dug themselves a hole they can never climb out of (before they graduate fat camp).

So there's the fence with 2 sides- those that have an agenda and manipulate the tools, and those that have no idea just how pervasive the tools are.

All I can say is (for some reason there are a lot of people that listen to me on here, and take my zany advice), in the words of Jessie J, "Just be proud of who you are...", or, in the words of Xzibit "We all different types of meat, but we all smothered in the same sauce." Maybe that last quote wasn't really appropriate. What I'm trying to say is, take it easy on yourself, and if someone loves you, don't continually wish you could be somebody else. If you want to 'improve' yourself/get fit/learn Spanish/Zumba/whatevz, go ahead.

But I bet there is something beautiful within every single one of you. And if there isn't?

It's never too late to start...

This one is in German, but don't let that put you off...watch to the end!

Here's some Danzig- just because...

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unshakeable faith.

A lot of the time I talk about me on here, and sometimes I talk about "them" (whoever they may be, dependent entirely on the subject matter at hand).

Today I want to talk about you, and by that, I mean I'd like to open a can of worms or two, and see if you're willing to challenge yourselves, to examine your inner workings, and to update yourself- throw away useless old thought processes or behaviours that serve to hold you back from self enlightenment. By this I simply mean, knowing your mind and why it does what it does, as opposed to the religious or New Age method hinted at by the term "enlightenment".

If anything, I'd like to cut down the bodhi tree, and let the sun of pure reason illuminate this subject.

I want your thoughts, responses, arguments (either below in my comments section, or to my email. Try and base your responses on reason not emotion. Emotion is very strong but it is also the navigation method favoured by small children and manipulative adults, so I'd like to keep it logical.

Some people have what they may call a very "strong" stance on certain issues. Issues like abortion, religion, things like that. And oftentimes, we look at those people and think "Wow- they must really know what they're talking about, they seem to have all the answers." Other people view them as smug, brainless, self-satisfied pleons that will avoid an actual argument that may challenge their belief structure at all costs. And by "actual", I mean logical.

The problem with saying "I'm conservative!" or "I'm liberal!" is that you've chosen a side before you've heard the argument.

Political parties are modeled on 'where they stand on the issues', so voters can quickly identify which party generally represents their views on a blanket of issues. Or so other voters can give up voting, because they realise the futility.

So if we're talking about abortion for instance, there are several different places you can stand. Let's make abortion our political issue for now, and take a look at what the different teams have to say about it. Afterwards, let's take a look at what logic tells us, and see what happens then.

Pro life- rights of the unborn child.

When there is talk of ending the life of an unborn child, emotions run extremely high, and rightly so. It is natural (one would hope) to protect the innocent, and so this often conservative view is exploited by right-wing and Church groups as a powerful political tool.

A typical argument is that (as they believe life begins at conception) aborting a foetus is exactly the same morally as murdering a baby who has been born, or infanticide (which is obviously a crime).

This provokes powerful images in the mind of the reader, and successfully galvanises opinion quite strongly one way or the other.

Normally I'm all for Church-bashing to be honest, but I'd like to point out what I think is a rare and wonderful statement from the United States Senator for Massachusets, John Kerry:

"I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist...who doesn't share it. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."

This statement sent right-wingers in the U.S. into a frenzy, inviting responses saying it "...is like saying you wouldn't ever drown your own children in a bathtub, but have no problem with other people doing it", (which is simply bad logic). The correct assertion would be to say it is like saying you wouldn't ever do something harmful but legal to a child, but if it was a religious custom of others to do this harmful but legal thing; due to the constitutional separation of Church and state, and also due to the fact that the law currently allows for this thing to be done, you are legally and constitutionally powerless to inflict your morals onto that group of people. Example: circumcision in the Jewish community.

Emotionally navigated people will be quick to point out the level of damage to a person between having their foreskin removed without anaesthetic is trivial compared to the level of damage experienced by a person who undergoes a procedure designed to kill them, and they'd be right. But we're not measuring levels of damage here, we're constructing logical arguments based on facts. Just because the facts don't match your argument isn't the facts fault.

Standing up for the law of the land, against his own religious moral compass is an act I wholeheartedly applaud, as it is a logical, not a moral one.

Pro choice- Rights of the Mother.

I feel that this is a bit of a misnomer, because this topic travels farther than simply a Mothers rights, but also the rights of the family, the community, and the child itself.
But to keep it neat, we'll stick to the Mother for now.

If a woman finds herself pregnant, she no doubt is confronted with many thoughts and feelings regarding the quality of her life from that point on. Some celebrate the news, some dread it, and some vacillate from one to another.

In the same way Church groups wield Pro-life arguments as a flag for morality, left-wing/liberal groups use this one. Again, it seems fairly obvious to a liberal person that a woman should be allowed to choose whether or not to see a baby through to term when she has been raped. This is a scenario most of us would give anything to avoid, and most of us would deem it in very poor taste to attempt to make a person in this situation commit to a course of action we decide for them.

So leftists feel justified in saying "It's a womans choice, and we have no say in it".
But what happens when we give the example of a girl with a lot of money and very questionable morals, who makes an active decision to not use birth control on an ongoing basis, and to instead rely on abortion procedures 4 times a year instead?

Statistics indicate that while rare, this happens. In this instance, the Mother has utilized her legal right to choose. Few, even among the left would applaud her decision making faculties. Should abortion be legal under such circumstances? Or should it be legal the first time, and after that you had better have an amazing excuse? Or obvious habitual 'offenders' could have their right to abort revoked?

OK, so most of us already know where we stand on this issue. We generally magnetically bond to one argument or another, according to our already-present system of morals and ethics. Sometimes we can be swayed, for example when a hard core Conservative sees the pain and fear in his unemployed and terminally ill daughters face, when her sexual partners condom broke, and decides his morals aren't worth the pain of his daughter, who has no chance of being a good Mother.

Now let's consider an an amazing statistic, revealed through regressive analysis by the modern champion of contemporary economics, Steven Levitt... Levitt uncovered an amazing and previously unexplored reason for why crime in certain areas of The United States dropped so markedly (as much as 50%) since the early 1990's.

The media (groan!) was running with the officially endorsed reasons: Greater gun control, more police on the streets, etc.
But the reason crime dropped so markedly, was actually due to a landmark controversial decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion in 1973.

It was called Roe v. Wade.

Put simply, "...the women most likely to seek abortion- poor, single, black or teenage mothers, were the very women whose children, if born, have been shown most likely to become criminals. But since those children weren't born, crime began to decrease during the years they would have entered their criminal prime. Unwantedness leads to high crime; abortion leads to less unwantedness; abortion leads to less crime." (Stephen J.Dubner- New York Times Magazine).

So now, instead of looking at the issue from one perspective or the other, we now have a new contender for our attention and measured response.

Back in 1786, when I first undertook undergraduate studies in Philosophy, we encountered in a tutorial the perennial problem that all tutors love to tease their students with, regarding 'the maximum good'.
This problem is simple to explore (but harder to resolve), and sorts the sheep (idealists, morally unshakeable, and religious types) from the goats (logical thinkers/philosophers). Because the course was one in philosophy, I took the second position, and was held in utter contempt by the rest of the class for the duration of our shared education together.

A man enters your room with a gun, and says you have one choice. 1. He will shoot you in the leg, or 2. He will shoot you in the head. Choose one. For the purposes of the exercise, we won't delve into whether you also have a gun, if the police are on their way, or if you are an expert in Krav Maga and have little trouble relieving bad people of their weapons.

Who said 1? All of you? Unless you are suicidal, this is normal. It ensures the maximum good for you. The benefit is clear. Now that we understand the premise of the game, let's play on...

You are a vegetarian. A man corners you and convinces you that if you don't eat a piece of cooked bacon, he will detonate a bomb killing thousands. This too is a no-brainer. You may have very strong ethical reasons for protecting the lives of animals, but this animal is already dead and processed, your consumption of it won't provide a demand for more meat, and you can save thousands of lives by eating it. The maximum good clearly lies in eating the damn bacon.

Here's where it gets hairy:
A man with a gun tells you to shoot two of your friends dead, or he will kill a random baby. That's two lives against one. Two lives you interact with and appreciate, versus one you don't know, that has hardly begun. But you have to shoot them, which is hard. He can easily kill the baby. The maximum good dictates he kill the baby. But that's abhorrent, isn't it?

What if you merely have to choose who he kills? What if you don't have to watch? What if it's the baby versus one of your friends? What if it was one of your friends, versus a future baby that is yours? What if it was one baby you didn't know versus another baby you didn't know? What if it was you versus the baby?
As you can see, it gets harder.

In the example given to my class, it was 10 people or a baby, and you had to do the killing. I shot the baby, so you're probably not talking to me now either. But the maximum good dictates the baby has to die, because it comes down to the pain of ten families versus one.

In reality, none of this matters, because situations like these rarely happen (philosophers don't run around armed conducting heartless experiments like that), and because I have completed every level of Krav Maga training short of instructor.

So why all these examples?
Because instead of looking at the argument from a Pro-life versus Pro-choice perspective, we can look at it with the help of our new tool- the maximum good.

If a woman wants an abortion because she can't support, or feels she wouldn't love a baby enough, it is no longer her versus morality. It is her, backed up by the fact that statistically, her baby could go on to live a life of crime, hurt or kill people, end up in jail, or die anyway after what amounts to a miserable life; versus 'morality'. An interesting observation is that those toughest on the liberties and lives of criminals, and those that advocate the death penalty the loudest, are conservatives who have fought to ensure that criminal was born and not aborted in the first place.

Of course not every baby from a poor, black, unemployed, drug affected teen mother goes on to be a bad egg. But statistically, the chances are greater.

Through all of this, I'm not attempting to get you to change your position on abortion, but I would like it if you simply thought about what it is you base your beliefs on, and make sure they are consistent with what you may choose if you look at the problem through the eyes of the maximum good, or from statistical analysis. Note that I didn't state where my opinion lies, so I can't be accused of trying to win votes for my argument.

Unshakeable faith is the inabilty to see reason, or to respond to evidence. Kinda like not believing in pancakes, even though they're right there for you to experience.
When I put it like that, doesn't it sound crazy to not think about why we think the things we do? I hope you agree, and embark on a journey to discover what your thoughts actually are, how you came by them, and if they really are the best fit for you.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Does anyone else smell that?

I feel like I just walked into a room, and everyone is so blissfully unaware of something obvious, the proverbial white elephant, stamping around upsetting the mantel and the vaisselle dór collection. Or maybe it's a hip hop party, and there's a live band in the corner who are all nazis.

All the colour has drained out of the scene, the TV broadcast has gone backward in time, and we're all a flickering shadow, grey noise our collective efforts.

I heard years ago, a story about a Native American tribe who would kill you if you breathed in the smell of your dinner in appreciation, as they believed the nutrients of the food lay in the aroma. Maybe I got that wrong, the only Native person I know isn't very truthful, so there's no point asking her.

I hate to be the one to quote Bauhaus here, but is this what Peter Murphy was singing about in 'Exquisite Corpse', back in 1982?:

"Terry sat up and hugged the army surplus bag around his skinny waist. It was cold and the person beside him had faded badly. Legs apart his eyes lit up- the sky's gone out." People think those lyrics are about a dying soldier, and they are. But they're also about a person swimming in a dream, a dream that is life.

And now that I think about it, the poem Cliff Burton wrote, that Metallica made into the song 'To Live is to Die'- "These are the pale deaths, that men miscall their lives."

We're lying.

We've been given lives, but who among us know what to do with them?

Make money? Follow some creative passion that is ultimately unoriginal and contributes nothing of value to society? Live for others, which contributes much, but may just support attitudes and lifestyles that are undeserving of such altruism? Follow a deity? Turn inward and find oneself?

What does any of that do?

And more importantly, why should it have to?

I can't answer the fundamental question that all religions claim to answer- "How should I live?"

I don't know the point of life, I'm not sure there is one except to create more life. And that's ok. But I figure if we're gonna be conscious for a period of time, slung between the two great moments of darkness, shouldn't we try and add colour to this thing?

Plato derided the artists in his 'Republic', as it was a meritocracy, and to his purely logical mind, you can't eat art. But therein lies the danger of thinking with logic unbalanced by passion... because the city of logic is a cold stone one- utilitarian, soulless.

I think art is the point of all this life.

But that is a problem too.

When the tools are accessible to all, the standard goes down. Anyone can pick up a hammer, but the resultant house wouldn't impress anyone, without talent.

The internet (or: the archive of collective human output) is awash with horrible attempts at doing things the do-er could have saved a lot of wasted effort not doing...this blog itself may be a contender.

I don't think it's wrong to try, I think it's wrong not to try.

But I'm allowed to lament the lack of colour, in this rasterized grey mass we call culture. And once in a while a bright pixel appears, and oftentimes it is pounced upon by all of the starving appreciators of such things and consumed to death or overload.

But more often than not, an obscenely average thing dumps itself in the spotlight, thrown there by the power of soulless money (and the pursuit of more), and it wobbles and shakes and pretends to shock (when we've seen it all before, and in the case of Lady GaGa, three previous generations thereof), and the style gurus quite often get caught up in the hype thinking this thing represents culture.

Oh, sadness.

And we have trillions of colours of megawatt grey, washing over our desire for cool water, in a tsunami of toilet discharge. And as usual, the sheep act like it's the second coming. You know the great religions of the world have failed when an Italian girl from New York channeling Madonna, Warhol, and Marilyn Manson captures a larger and more frenetic fanbase than Christ, Gautama, and Mohammed put together.

People adore being manipulated, true?

Don't panic- it's just marketing...

And yes, I know that by blogging about her it just puts another few drops in the fuel tank of the hype machine, I'm aware. And I don't mean to pick on her in particular, it's just so convenient that she encapsulates everything that is wrong with music now. Right with business, wrong with music.

Who would have paid attention if she looked like Susan Boyle?

Everything is starting to blend together- all the culture is become diluted in the shitstream. And what do we expect, when the only way to sell that culture is to collab, to exchange links, guest spot? As much as I appreciate culture jamming, now that it is so prevalent, even the old masters have had a workover, condemning them to share in this amazing coagulation of...you know.

And like I said, it's wrong not to try- so I don't blame the artists. I don't blame GaGa, thanks for your efforts. In and of themselves, they're generally pretty catchy and harmless.

It's the consumers that settle for it, that I take umbrage with. Am I being too Platonian? Music is meant to be about feeling, right? So again, a purely logical overview isn't going to capture the experience. But does the experience have to be that watered-down? We understand tweens love Bieber. That's normal. We make allowances for their unsophisticated attempts at digesting culture.

But adults?

I'm well aware the critics of the time shitcanned The Beatles too, but let's be honest, they were writing the rule book for the lame excuse for music we 'enjoy' today. They didn't start writing actual songs til much later in their respective careers. In the beginning, it was 'Love me do', and love me do was utter shit.

Songwriters know there is a recipe for hits. And the good ones write to it. It's changing now, thankfully, as the reign of radio and MTV has ended, much like it changed before radio began to dictate how long a song should be, or MTV refused to play you if you were ugly. The internet has set us free.

Limitless distribution Vs. An all time high water mark of output vying for attention. And the standard has never been lower.

There are still great and talented musicians, writers, artists, you name it out there. They're the rare and bright pixels I mentioned earlier.

They're a blip on the radar...

But I'm waiting for the next thing.

The thing that hasn't been co-opted by marketing geniuses yet. The one that the early adopters haven't caught wind of yet. I'm not talking about Mexican pointy boots, this thing hasn't been invented.

It won't have accompanying dance moves, it won't collaborate with anyone, it will sue any TV or radio station that attempts to show it in the news. It won't trawl for subscribers, or annoy you with a 'Join my group' request online. It won't kiss Britney at the Grammys, Natalie Portman won't get the part in the biopic of the creator. There won't be one. You won't store it on the cloud, it won't come in a bottle. It will defy categorisation the same way a 12th dimension would now, and it will be free for everyone.

But for now we've got...planking. Again, a re-hash. Everyone who thinks they're doing something new and exciting should Google flagpole sitting in the 1920's. Planking's just lazy. And before you try to tell me I just don't get it, and that it's making a statement, we're all grown up enough to know it isn't. It's like extreme sleeping.

Graffiti, Weird makeup, flash mobs, baggy clothing, all had earlier incarnations between now and World War One (Apologies if you're reading this on facebook, as it won't include the links), as the Book of Ecclesiastes 1:9 so sagely put it:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun."

Are we doomed to endless repeats and interpretations?

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nothing hits harder than life.

Bruce Lee was an incredible fighter...but my dick's bigger.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Forever Jung.

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Carl Jung