Thursday, March 20, 2014

Not About Catholics and the Global Economy, Nor My Masculinity

As you can see I am not writing much anymore. I am hoping to get a new computer soon, that will 1) not be slow, and 2) not crash every ten minutes. Both of these situations cause me to write in a more anxious mood than I would like. So perhaps this will happen and I will write more often soon.

The real problem of course is that I don't have much to say about anything anymore.

A few days ago I was going to do a post on "Catholics" (meaning people, whether religious or not, who grew up in households and communities where a certain mindset and approach to the world characteristic of that where Catholicism was the dominant cultural influence) and the global economy, my theory being that people who grew up in these kinds of communities did not have the understanding of and attitude towards money that one really needs to have to thrive in the current world. I was going to use as illustration the entire French and Italian nations, which, at least according to news reports, appear to be suffering in various degrees collective nervous breakdowns at the necessity of having to compete for their livelihoods twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week with people from foreign cultures, most of them vulgar or otherwise unbearable. But this article would have seemed to be another negative lamentation from me about a world I cannot thrive in, about a group I am identifying with which would not allow that I ever had anything to do with them, and without persuasive references or numbers. So I shelved that and tried to think of something positive and interesting to write.

I couldn't do this.

I had to listen the other day to a woman who was not very interesting go on at some length about the health benefits of eating a vegan diet. I am not especially unhealthy, I don't really care about animals, and cutting into a steak or a piece of a pork chop every couple of days are among the few real pleasures I am consistently able to enjoy in my current life now that my enthusiasm and capacity for reading and learning seem to have dried up completely, but I listened politely and didn't say this, though I probably should have. I said something rather stupid about having a lot of boys and that I considered boys especially to need protein to develop physically in a way that I would could consider desirable and so on--I was only half alert to the subject, and my thoughts reverted vaguely to books I had read about people who were starving in World War II and that sort of thing who were desperate to find any kind of live animal at all (including, in some cases, humans) that by eating it they might have a temporary sensation/restoration of strength and energy. The response to this of course was "So where's all the masculinity then?" referring to me. I walked into that, I admit. I forget that that is the image I probably project to most people. I feel masculine enough most of the time, but of course I am not pressed very hard most days. I know in the back of my mind that something bad, some kind of outright humiliation or degradation might happen someday, or perhaps I will really be placed in some kind of moral dilemma that I will be unable to avoid where it will be inconvenient or fatal for me to do what I will sense to be the right action, though my judgement of what the right action will be almost wholly determined by my attitude as regards the justness and goodness of the individual parties pressing the case on me. This almost certainly means my conscience will think it proper that I aid and defend the put upon, less powerful side in the dispute.

People keep waiting for the social revolution to start, in opposition to the general degradation of economic and civil life that has overcome the country in the last ten to twelve years. I think something along these lines will happen within this decade; at the moment I sense that no one really wants to be in that first big group (or first few groups) that gets mown down by the swat team, even if they sense that such a disaster might be necessary to restore some sense of equilibrium in society. Everybody wants to be around to enjoy the good times, and possibly have a hand in dictating the parameters of the new society that they anticipate coming into being once the threats of poverty, personal obsolescence, sinister surveillance, Christian theocracy, socialism, etc, have been overcome. They are anticipating perhaps that some other angry group unrelated to them will strike the first blow to set things in motion--a band of armed Tea Partiers storming an IRS office, or some fanatical Christians or gay rights activists having a pitched battle with firearms in a major city somewhere--and get involved once everyone is society is more or less aware that it's 'on'. People today are too self aware to be content to give up their lives in a fruitless massacre that resulted in nothing. They will at least need to feel  they are in a real struggle, with dire consequences for losing.

I was also going to predict in my post on Catholics and the global economy that at least one major western European country--France seems to be the most obvious candidate, with Italy a close second--will reject the modern economy more aggressively than it has done already and try to return to its more "traditional" (as in circa 1945-1975) national life. The economists more or less claim that this is impossible, and it is impossible in the sense of growing the economy, attracting and retaining top human talent, and so on. Countries sometimes come to a point where they no longer care very much about this, for a time anyway. I don't expect this to be permanent, but I could see a period of a generation or so where it is the case.

With twenty-one pages to go in The Woman in the Dunes, I have realized that the book is essentially a metaphor about marriage, and the general resignation of men to their fate as they age in their 30s  and beyond. The plot of the book concerns a man, who is around 32, who goes to a beach for the weekend in order to collect insect samples who is unwittingly captured and placed in a hole in the sand which contains a house and a woman from which, he eventually discovers, escape is impossible. It should be said that he does develop a certain fondness for the woman and the rather pointless routine of their lives, which involves shoveling away enough sand each day to keep it from collapsing the house, but it is pretty depressing.

That's enough for today. I hope that new computer is coming soon. Putting up a blog post has begun to border on a minor ordeal. All I want to do is be able to write just a little. I ask for nothing compared to what I used to ask for, and the fates respond by giving me ever less. I must have terrible equipment. I had a much easier time getting on the internet and getting anything accomplished ten years ago.

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