when scientists and "rational people" encounter folklore, myths and legends, they often approach it with a dichtomonic razor: the purpose of analysing these stories is to divide them into truth and myth, and to determine the "meaning" of the myth and its relation to truth.
this is seen in people who leave organised religions: their leaving is often (not always) framed in terms of "whether God exists", as if his existence has anything to do with being part of an organised religion.
in discussion of "fake news", the emphasis is always on "truth", as if "truth" is some sort of objective reality that must be recognised and lauded on its own terms.
this is all in pursuit of the meta-narrative of scientific rationalism, which posits that nature is a collection of objective facts which can be observed and catalogued. (i am aware that some criticisms have been raised of this idea, but in practice no one pays attention to them.)
this is an inherent colonialist approach to nature which should be resisted by any useful form of anarchism: "truth" is simply another hierarchy where one group's reality is privileged above any other.
i endeavour to reject truth and to regain the sense of mystery and wonder that civilisation has buried under the crumbling structures it it builds from the stories it pillages.
identity politics / gender, trans, cis women (long)
an interesting trait of society - in both its liberal and conservative forms - is its ability to flex just enough to contain dissent.
a few years ago, this was commonly written about in the context of same-sex marriage: society (the conservative form, in this case) had realised that its opposition to same-sex marriage was posing a threat to the integrity of the system, and the resulting cracks allowed more radical forms of opposition to be heard. to contain this threat, conservatives embraced same-sex marriage as something that embodied their own values, such as family and commitment. the obvious conclusion of that process was that same-sex marriage was revealed to be a conservative cause (Yasmin Nair: https://yasminnair.com/gay-marriage-is-a-conservative-cause/).
the foundation of identity politics is the division of people by class: man and woman, gay and straight, worker and boss. this is effective when these divisions can be clearly made - that is, when a 'bright line' exists - and when they represent clear hierarchies: few anarchists or leftists would disagree with the idea of gender as a hierarchy, for example.
sometimes cracks appear in these divisions. bisexuals are neither gay or straight, so they don't fit neatly into one category; as a result, bisexuals are hated by both gay and straight people, albeit sometimes for different reasons. identity politics responds by adding a new identity: queer. but already this new identity is on shaky ground; arguments erupt over who can be considered 'queer' and who should be permitted to speak from that position.
one of the most brightly defined historical identity divisions is between woman and man. for a long time, this division was taken to be so obvious that it could be assumed and not defined. (people always existed who didn't fit neatly into this division, but they were largely ignored as an inconvenience.) this division was so strong it led to, among other things, proposals for *literal* divisions such as lesbian separatism.
this particular division is so widely embraced that's began to encompass other divisions. feminism is now not only about gender, but about sexuality, and class, and race, and so on. this is a liberal example of flexing: the historically white and fairly privileged conception of the gender identity was challenged by new concepts like intersectionality, which threatened to muddy the bright line. to adapt, it had to redefine itself, to allow these new voices to be heard. some feminists resisted that change, and they are now consigned to the dustbin of history and rarely heard from.
one thing these new voices had in common was that they didn't challenge the fundamental concept of a woman; you can be a gay woman, or a poor woman, or an undocumented woman, but you're still a woman. that made it fairly easy for feminism to adjust.
i think 'trans' - or 'queer' - is different to the other divisions that feminism absorbed, because it challenges this fundamental category of 'woman'. this is visible in the struggle to define spaces for 'woman and non-binary people': what they should be called and how they should be defined. no satisfactory solution to that has yet emerged. there is also no clear consensus on when queer people should be permitted to speak: this is especially common when it comes to trans masc people, who are often accorded an unclear and frequently shifting space in which to be heard.
i wonder if this represents the breaking point: the point at which identity politics can no longer flex enough to contain dissent, but simply shatters and makes room for something new, and more radical.
my current feeling is that it probably doesn't. this agitation always happens at the fringes, and it's easy even for the oppressed to ignore and marginalised inconveniences. i expect the identity project will continue along with this uneasy contradiction, possibly forever. but perhaps i'm wrong, and the dissent will one day become loud enough that it can't be ignored, and something new will emerge. i wonder what it will be.
trans(phobia), rambling, gender nihilism
trying to articulate this in a more useful way than just 'i don't like it': 'gender-affirming care' supposes that gender is something already present which can be, or should be affirmed. it's a restatement of the old 'brain gender vs physical sex' meme: you can simply 'affirm' your 'brain sex' and the problem is fixed.
the same idea is found in two other common affirmations: the liberal position 'trans women are women', and the conservative position 'trans women are men'. both of these are relics of heteronormative thinking (typically obsessed with signifiers) and can obviously be discarded by any useful queer analysis, but i haven't seen anyone apply this specifically to trans medical treatment. (if anyone knows of any writing about that, let me know; maybe it's just that there isn't anything interesting to say there besides 'it should be elective'.)
i'm not especially fussed about the name of a particular thing (although i did just write three paragraphs about it, so maybe i'm the one obsessed with signifiers) but it feels - for lack of a better word - oppressive, to be crushed under the weight of constant gender realism from people who claim to be on my side and yet think that 'gender affirmations' are something to be lauded.
anarchists are widely known for smashing windows, and it's easy to demonstrate your opposition to some physical object by applying force to it. how do you smash a gender?
one post-anarchist idea i really like is the witch who derives her power from not naming things. maybe that's the answer.
honestly not sure if marxist-leninists actually still exist or if the entire thing is some sort of postie joke gone horribly wrong
one of my favourite things about Against His-story, by the way. he never mentions the date of any events and absolutely nothing of the narrative or impact is lost.
random memory: i found a skinhead band i quite liked a few years back, but they came across as suspiciously apolitical and nowdays it seems like everyone is some sort of fash, so hmmm.
anyway i dug around on their social media a bit and ended up finding a video of one of the band members punching out a Nazi who turned up at one of their gigs. so that was pretty neat.
Haymaker: First to die: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s3fMaBdWD8
(i never found anything about their actual politics though so let me know if they're terrible i guess.)
okay yes i know corporate media is terrible, but i couldn't really not watch this since they named it after me.
short version: it's pretty bad.
the plotting, such as it was, was so tired it can't even be called cliched. i think they were going for 'it keeps you guessing until the end' but it came out more 'haha misdirection go brrr'. in some types of fiction a plot is a necessary device to hang something else on, but TV doesn't need that. they would have been better going for an episodic style, at least for the first season, but of course that would be incompatible with the Netflix ethos of 'everything must be like a super-long movie so you can binge it'.
characterisation was uneven. they spent so much time on the plot that there wasn't enough left for any sort of interesting character studies and it's not clear why we are supposed to care about most of the characters. they felt like interchangable and forgettable archetypes; archetypes aren't necessarily a bad thing to establish background, but you need to actually do something with them.
aethetically it had a couple of interesting moments early on (i imagine that's TIm Burton's influence) but that was all we got. for a show so based in a particular aesthetic, it felt like they wasted a huge amount of potential there. i didn't get a sense from most of the episodes that either the director or photographer really cared.
the overall vibe was that uncanny valley feeling where someone has got hold of an interesting idea but decided to develop it entirely for mass market appeal: like a Disneyfied version of a fairy tale compared to the real thing. that can be summed up by the main character's development from "i don't own a phone and i don't hug people" in the first episode to "i have an iPhone and i hug people now" in the finale. instead of celebrating 'outcasts', it was a redemption story of someone who starts out rejecting society but learns to love it and become a normal person.
like the vast majority of the so-called 'golden age of TV', it had high production values but absolutely nothing interesting to say. just more propaganda for the media-industrial complex.
"The fire that spews out of Leviathan's jaws is a stolen fire. It is stolen from those who come to burn the monster. Neither lives nor fire are freely given to the monster; both fall into it as a trap, and once inside they try to find a way out, to burn their way out."
back to reading Perlman's Against His-story. we're up to Rome now:
"Yet how many pages will be devoted to the greatness of Rome! And how many pages to the technological ingenuity of Rome's war engines! Why not praise death itself? Death is an even greater killer than Rome. Is it the ornamented Greek palaces and momuments in the capital that make the brutality so reputable? If so, then to win such praise, Death need only hire Greek artists."
instead i can just talk about the way ugly trannies are perceived but weirdly no one seems to care about that
take my hand, we're going to destroy the world
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