Oct 23, 2017

Feeling the Love of a Cat

Too often, cats get reputations as stingy lovers. I hear people talk about how their cats are picky about when they show affection, or about how a cat couldn’t care less about what the family is up to. But in my personal experiences with cats, I’ve found something profoundly different: cats are some of the most caring creatures we surround ourselves with, and though it may be subtle, they show their love for you in some of the sweetest ways imaginable.

One particular way cats show their love is in how they are exceptionally interested in the life you live. I remember coming home from class or a friends house, and as soon as I would sit down, my cat would be at my feet, curiously sniffing my feet and legs. Though we were never able to talk to each other, it always felt like we knew so much about each other. I knew when he liked to eat, where he liked to be pet, what he liked to play; in turn, he knew who my friends were, where I was, and perhaps even had a vague idea of what I was doing when I was out of the house.

I could never make it very long after coming home without being subject to his sweet investigation. And he never expected anything in return; he was selfless in his love. He didn’t care if I asked him how his day was, all that he wanted to do was learn about me and my experiences, and I think this shows care in the purest sense.

My sole wish is that he knows that I cared about him as much as I cared about him. We shared a world, and in my heart I know that we cared endlessly about each other. He showed his care for me everyday in our silent communication, and we understood each other. To experience the care of a cat is a privilege in the highest sense of the word.

Aug 11, 2017

Down with the Statues

Tomorrow, groups such as Identity Evropa, the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the National Socialist Movement, and more will descend upon Charlottesville, Virginia for the "Unite the Right" rally. The rally is in protest of the city's plans to remove statues of Confederate generals, in addition to plans to rename parks that have Confederate namesakes. For some, this is an assault on the history and culture of the white identity, and thus, what is being predicted to be the largest white supremacist gathering in recent American history is about to occur.

Though the city will be a target of derision for babbling idiots dressed in tight polo shirts, donning haircuts reminiscent of Macklemore's above their strangely soft-looking, boyish faces, Charlottesville should be commended for the action it is taking to remove the statues. To the east, Richmond, a city with an entire street dedicated to honoring the Confederate States of America, is naturally facing similar problems. In attempting to address the thorny problem of what to do with the statues, Mayor Levar Stoney has proposed not to take the statues down, but rather to contextualize them. What this means is anyone's guess, and a series of public hearings have been scheduled so that the people of Richmond can decide how the Confederate statues can best be contextualized.

Two nights ago, the first of these hearings occurred, and it really did not go well. A raucous crowd jeered at speakers it disagreed with, much to the dismay of the committee formed to deal with the statue situation.

The answer to this whole entire situation was presented at the hearing, but was immediately beaten down by a committee member:

George Knight said the monuments represent "white supremacy" and questioned why Richmond continued to house "participation trophies" for the Confederacy. 
"You lost, get over it already!" he shouted. 
A mixture of applause and boos drowned him out. 
"Down with white supremacy!" he said before leaving the mic to return to his seat.
Kimball chastised him. 
"Sir, you know, we really don't need that," he said. "I hope you all did hear what I said at the beginning of this. We don't need inciting people. We need conversation."

Clearly, Knight has the right idea. Another speaker, Thelma Brown, sums it up nicely:

Thelma Brown said she didn't see her ancestors honored when she looked at Monument Avenue. She called the current monuments a reflection of oppression, and said they cause her pain.

"Virginia has a debt to pay, and we're waiting," she said.
Symbols of white supremacy line the streets of Richmond. Black residents walk these streets, and look up to see depictions of men that would have seen them as less than human. For these residents, the statues represent oppression. Nobody should ever feel oppressed in their home; keeping these statues standing is nothing short of a disgrace.

Kimball says we need conversation. But conversation produces nothing but words. Just take a look at the Letter to the Editor section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Everyday that there is a letter about the statues, I take a picture of it and put it in an album. I have a ridiculous number of photos. Clearly, there has been plenty of conversation. What the city of Richmond now needs is results. And there should be no satisfaction until these statues that stand for white supremacy come down to the ground.

Jul 31, 2017

Checking Out The National Shrine

View of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from the east.

Last Thursday I took a trip for the day up to Washington D.C., a city I love very much. Rather than explore the usual sites, like those on the National Mall, I decided to go and check out some landmarks that are usually overlooked by the typical visitor. This plan took me to Brookland, a rapidly developing neighborhood in northeast D.C. Brookland, served by the Brookland-CUA Metro stop on the Red Line, is a hotspot for Catholic institutions within D.C., so much so that it has earned the nickname "Little Rome." The highlight of these institutions is undoubtedly the Basilica of the National Shrine, the largest Catholic church in not only the United States, but also North America (impressively, it is one of the top ten largest churches in the world).

Brookland is a pretty neat little neighborhood. Home to the Catholic University of America, it seems to be gentrifying pretty quickly. In fact, part of the community believes that the neighborhood is being overdeveloped; this has led to a couple of disputes with developers being brought to court.

The National Shrine, the full name of which is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was built between 1920 and 1961. Three popes have visited it since it opened its doors: Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, and Saint John Paul II. Mother Teresa also visited.

The National Shrine consists of 70 chapels that surround the Upper Church and the Crypt Church. These chapels display magnificent mosaics that represent all the people in different regions of the world that call Catholicism their faith. The Crypt Church is absolutely one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever been in. The atmosphere is incredibly peaceful, and it smells amazing in there, let me tell you.

Crypt Church. A must-see.

From the Crypt Church, heading upstairs will take you to the aptly-named Upper Church, which is the real star of the show. At 76,396 square feet, the Upper Church can hold a total of 6,000 people. The basilica design is very apparent here, with a huge nave flanked by chapels leading to the main apse of the church. It's evident that this is a church built for pilgrims, and it takes in about one million a year.

Looking down the nave to the main apse.

The church is built in a neo-Byzantine, neo-Romanesque style. Originally, the plans called for a church in the Gothic style, but the Catholic University of America wanted it neo-Byzantine, and there was a desire for it to not be a direct copy of the great churches of Europe. Additionally, there was the belief that neo-Byzantine/neo-Romanesque would be distinctly American and fit in better with the architecture of the nation's capital (this is probably true, but I'm still a sucker for gothic architecture). Finally, the Washington National Cathedral, located across town in northwest D.C. (ew) is built in the gothic tradition, and the architects felt a need to make a distinction between this new Catholic shrine and the Episcopalian cathedral. The neo-Byzantine elements of the church especially standout; the domes are reminiscent of the Hagia Sophia, and who could miss all of the mosaics? The art has its fair share of neo-Romanesque influences, especially the massive portrait in the apse that looks out into the nave.

Looking up from the nave. A very celestial feel.

If you are ever in D.C., I highly recommend visiting the National Shrine. It's not on the usual list of things to do in the capital, but it's one of the most breathtaking attractions you can visit in the country, and it's a refreshing break from the same old monuments of the National Mall. The National Shrine has a brand of serenity and grandeur all of its own.

Looking at the front of the church.

Pizza... hmmm.... a grand D.C. conspiracy? Is John Podesta involved at all?

Another view looking up from the nave.

Looking at the ceiling from the ambulatory in the Upper Church.

Yet another pic looking up from the nave.

A closer look at the main apse from the nave. The church is currently undergoing renovation. 

The flag of the Vatican! Very cool. Truly "Little Rome."

Jul 26, 2017

Virginian Centrism Isn't Going Anywhere (Yet, At Least)

Reading Jeff Schapiro's column in the Metro section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is always one of the most boring experiences of my day. Everything that man writes is bland, but I suppose that that could be a symptom of writing about Virginia politics.

Today's column, though, actually looked to be somewhat promising: Debate shows Va.'s political middle seems to be fading. The fading political middle is extremely my thing! The first three paragraphs of the column continue to grab my attention, as Schapiro discusses the vanishing of centrism from politics in Virginia. Schapiro hints at his bad politics, but that's another post for another time.

But then something weird happens: Schapiro nearly completely stops talking about political polarization in Virginia. The rest of the column is a criticism of the gubernatorial debate's focus on national politics, rather than state politics. This is absolutely a fair criticism to make, but why did Schapiro lead off with a discussion of polarization, going so far as to title the column around the idea that centrism is going away?

About three-quarters of the way through the column, Schapiro does touch on the issue of polarization again, albeit briefly. He notes that both Northam and Gillespie are centrists, recalling that Northam voted for GWB and that Gillespie is friends with McAuliffe.

I have a theory as to why this column strayed so far away from it's intended purpose of highlighting the polarization of politics in Virginia: it's because the polarization isn't happening. In looking at the four major contenders in the race for governor just over a month ago, one can see that the two centrist candidates won out against everyone else. If this election was between Corey Stewart and Tom Perriello, I think that would be a good justification for the discussion about the disappearance of centrism in the state. But with a race for governor between Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, it's safe to say that centrism is alive and well in Virginia.

John McCain and More

Less than two weeks after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Arizona Senator John McCain returned to the Senate yesterday to bipartisan applause. In a rare moment of civility for Washington, senators from both sides of the aisle put away their divisive rhetoric and honored the senator and veteran who has leveraged his power to be a sharp critic of President Trump.

McCain's return allowed for the crucial vote needed to begin debate on repealing and potentially replacing the Affordable Care Act. Though McCain did not vote for the repeal bill that came to the floor, his vote ensured that the Senate could begin deliberating on a bill that would allow the ACA to become history.

In other news, the American Pilots Association hosted their annual luncheon this afternoon. The luncheon, held once a year, is an opportunity for the APA to recognize the best American pilots in the industry. This year, pilot Richard M. Stewart the Pilot of the Year award, the most prestigious title the APA recognizes.

Stewart delivered his acceptance speech to uproarious applause. Notable for frequently flying passenger airplanes while intoxicated, Stewart railed against unsafe piloting techniques. The 52 year old pilot has frequently spoken out about the dangers of flying while drunk.

In his 15 years of service, the St. Louis-based pilot has only crashed planes a total of 11 times. Shelly Tucker, a spokeswoman for the APA, said in a statement that the organization is "so proud of all that Mr. Stewart has accomplished. Though there may be disagreements about his technique, Mr. Stewart has proven himself time and time again to be a real hero; a maverick, if you will. Today's ceremony to honor him is a showing of the most important virtue in our society: civility."

Jul 24, 2017

What Is Going On Here?

Because I am never satisfied with anything I ever do, I've decided to make some further changes to this blog. And because of the many large changes, I'm having a hard time figuring out which change should be described as the biggest. There's the name change, the change in color and design, and the planned change in philosophy. I'll try to address all of them here in this post.

Let's start with the name change. If you read blogs, you'll notice that they always have a fun, eye-catching name. My blog is called Jimmy's Thoughts. Who names blogs after themselves? Only losers. In an attempt to stop being perceived as such a loser, I will be changing the name of this blog to 'macaroni hiccups.' Why? 'Macaroni Hiccups' is a phrase that I came up with early in high school and have always loved. A reflection on life in that it's inherently meaningless, macaroni hiccups has always been the working name of my projects throughout the years. Since it's always been sitting around in files on my computer and never really going anywhere, I think it's time I actually put it into use. So here we go! Of course, you will always be able to access this blog at www.jimmyokeefe.blogspot.com, but starting today, you can also access this blog at www.macaronihiccups.com. Very nice.

Next, the design change. It's really not complicated, I've always loved white text on a black background, and isn't it better for the environment or something? And to put it simply, red is just a cool color. For whatever reason, I feel more comfortable putting my thoughts online in this color scheme than I did with the boring black text/white background design.

And finally, a bit of a change in philosophy (hopefully). This blog has been pretty inactive in the past, and I would really like to change that. It would be kind of cool to actually have a readership, even if it's small, and the way to get a readership is to post more than just once a month. Ideally I would like to post multiple times a week, but we all know how difficult it is to set posting goals. Also, I really do need to write more; I'll be starting school next month as a journalism major, and it would be nice to be able to use this space as a way of developing my voice. I guess it's also worth noting that I feel more comfortable posting when it's not under my real name, so I think that the voice macaroni hiccups takes on will be more natural and a whole lot more interesting than the bland voice one could find on Jimmy's Thoughts.

So, thanks for tuning in, everyone. Let's see where I can take this.

May 27, 2017

More Reading!!!!!!!!

Hello again!!!!

It's a great night to be posting!

My number one hobby is to read the takes! If you're interested in seeing what I'm reading during the day, why not subscribe to my Nuzzel newsletter? It shows the stories that I read everyday!

Feel free to subscribe here, or at the wayyyyy bottom of the page, under the 'what am i reading' heading!

Some Reading

Since finishing the spring semester of college, I've been doing a lot of reading. This past semester required a good amount of reading for each of my classes, and luckily it got me in the habit of reading good amounts of texts.

I'm reading a few books at the moment. Slowly but surely, I'm making my way through David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Today, a friend told me that I'm trying hard to be a "David Foster Wallace Bro." I don't know what that means, but I really do not want to be a David Foster Wallace Bro.

Additionally, I'm reading Shattered, that book about the horrible Clinton campaign that everyone's been talking about. To be frank, I don't think that the writing is that awesome. It seems like the writers just wanted to use explicit language as much as possible in order to prove some sort of point about how they're still young and relevant and edgy. They're lucky in the fact that they have a good story to tell, and that saves the book.

(Also, it's inevitable to think about the fact that Allen and Parnes wrote a ridiculously celebratory book about Clinton prior to running. You get the feeling they're so bitter about how awful she was during the election that they wrote this book to spite her, which I can appreciate to a degree.)

In between these books, I've been reading a lot of short stories. Last week's New Yorker had a great read from Samantha Hunt called "A Love Story" which dealt with the challenges to identity that comes with motherhood. It reaffirmed my desire to not have children.

J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories is also really awesome, he's such a great writer. Big thanks to my high school government teacher for telling me to read Salinger.

This year I've finally come to terms with the fact that there's a great deal of classic literature that I just do not like! But wait!!! I feel like I can offer a justification for this opinion: what's the fun in reading about rich white aristocrats (I'm looking at you, Jane Austen)? With this confession comes the realization that I really enjoy the voice of the contemporary woman; Maggie Nelson is great, I consider Leslie Jamison to be one of my favorite writers, etc etc etc....... A recent trip to the bookstore brought Marina Keegan to my attention, and I really want to grab a copy of 'The Opposite of Loneliness."

So that's what's been going on with me, in terms of books. Any recommendations? Email me!

May 12, 2017

The Largest Escalator in the Western Hemisphere

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of being able to visit the largest escalator in the western hemisphere.



At a height of 230 feet and a slope of 30°, the that escalator brings riders in and out of the Wheaton Metro station takes a full two minutes and 45 seconds to ride from one end to the other.

The escalator at the Wheaton Metro station is truly a remarkable sight to behold. As soon as I learned that the largest escalator in the western hemisphere was among the many escalators in the Metro system, I knew that I had to pay it a visit.

My journey to this holy site began where all of my adventures into D.C. begins, at the Vienna Metro station. I head towards New Carollton and got off at Metro Center. From there, it was towards Glenmont on the Red Line. The farthest I had ever been in that direction prior to yesterday was Brookland, so it was nice to see what the rest of D.C. was like down in that area.


As soon as I passed the Silver Spring station, I could feel the train descending into the ground at an impressive slope. Upon arrival in Forest Glen, the first stop in Maryland, I was delighted to discover a type of station that I had never seen before: separate tunnels and platforms for each direction. This is a feature specific to stations that are deep underground.

One platform and tunnel per direction!
Continuing one more stop down the Red Line, I arrived at Wheaton. Again, there were separate tunnels and platforms for each direction (fun fact: Wheaton and Forest Glen are the only Metro stations to employ separate tunnels and platforms for each direction).

Getting out of the train and the tunnel, there it was: the largest escalator in the western hemisphere. My excitement could hardly be contained. Immediately I got on it, and instead of walking up as I usually would, I decided to let it do the work for me. Two minutes and 45 seconds later, I was at the top.

But during the ride, I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I became conscious of how long the ride was. The height of this escalator is unbelievable! This lighthearted thought was interrupted as soon as I looked behind me and saw the terrifying height I had travelled -- and I wasn't even halfway up. As someone scared of heights, this was not only a moment of pure fear, but also a moment for reflection on my life. Here I was -- young, excited, a little bit scared -- doing something that should have been completely horrifying. But I was doing it. Me, a person scared of heights, was traversing the largest escalator in the western hemisphere! It was an experience wrought with emotion, one that I will not soon forget.

If you ever find yourself in the metro D.C. area, I encourage you to ride the Wheaton escalator at least a few times. Not only will it provide you with a few moments for some serious self-evaluation, it's also a fun, adrenaline-inducing ride.







Apr 11, 2017

Another Reminder That Corporations Are Bad

It's been a great week to hate corporations.

First Pepsi releases a ridiculously tone-deaf ad, and now United violently forcing a passenger off of a plane he paid money to get home in. And so violently forcing him off, that is, to the point in which the passenger was bloody.

Any take that attempts to defend either United or the law enforcement officers involved in this incident is a bad one. And what it says in the terms and conditions of the plane ticket really shouldn't matter: it is a moral disaster when a human being is battered in the way that the man on that flight was.

It took way too long, but United did eventually apologize for what happened. But even if they had apologized sooner, it wouldn't have made any difference. It's absurd to think that United, a ginormous corporation, has feelings whatsoever, and nonetheless "feels" sorry about any of this. Corporations are not people, no matter how much they would like for you to believe otherwise, and thus they cannot feel things. It's simple.

All that matters to a corporation is profit. This incident shines a light on that very basic truth. Rather than treat a human being with dignity and respect, United decided to forcibly remove a paying passenger in an incredibly violent manner. Neither the man's feelings or physical well-being was taken into account: for United to continue making a profit, what had to be done was done.

Clearly, there is also the glaring issue of law enforcement serving as the agent of capital. That's a whole different issue deserving of it's own post.

It's nearly impossible to hold United accountable for this considering that airlines have formed an oligopoly. And in the age of Trump, where consumer protection regulations are continually assaulted, things look especially grim. But if anything, this is a painful reminder that corporations, in addition to being bad, are also not your friend whatsoever.

Apr 4, 2017

That Horrible Pepsi Ad

A real bad look for Pepsi.
(There was a video here, but Pepsi has removed the source.)

By now you've probably seen that really, really bad Pepsi commercial. If you haven't, or if you don't want to (I super can't blame you for this), here's a run-down of what happens: there's a large march through some city streets with lots of people carrying vague signs telling us to 'join the conversation,' and 'peace.' The march comes to a police blockade, and there seems to be frustration. Luckily for the activists, Kendall Jenner emerges from the mob and hands a police officer a can of Pepsi. He takes it, drinks it, smiles, and the crowd erupts in celebration.
This commercial is problematic. Not only is it an explicit celebration of white privilege, but it also trivializes and appropriates the struggle of marginalized peoples.
What better way to shine a light on white privilege than to send uber-wealthy white woman Kendall Jenner up to a line of police officers and offering them a gift? Perhaps the only good thing about this ad is the realism of this particular situation: in the real world, if a person of color had done the same thing, they would have immediately been knocked down and arrested, if not worse. 
Iesha Evans comes to mind, the black woman who was peacefully protesting in Baton Rouge last year, only to be surrounded by police in riot gear and detained for 24 hours.
What's worse is that this ad appropriates the imagery of movements that attempt to bring equality and justice to marginalized people. You should see protest signs and rallying crowds at a demonstration, not in an advertisement for far-below-subpar soda. With this advertisement, Pepsi is directly taking the images and tones associated with movements for equality and justice and using them to sell a product and thus profit. 
But that's not all. This ad also trivializes the difficult struggle that marginalized people face everyday. To imply that all injustices can be overcome by simply handing a cop a can of soda minimizes the magnitude of the systematic problems that keep marginalized people subordinate. 
In short, this ad reinforces white privilege while attempting to profit off of the aesthetics of genuine movements for justice and equality. 
We should never expect much from a corporation, but with this ad, Pepsi sinks down to a whole new level. 

Apr 2, 2017

Reading Righteous Indignation: Chapter 1 -- From Little ACORNS Grow...

My bookshelf is pretty diverse; it includes books ranging from Burroughs' The Soft Machine to Eric Cantor/Kevin McCarthy/Paul Ryan's Young Guns. A few weeks ago, I was sorting through the shelf and came across the late Andrew Breitbart's New York Times Bestseller, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World.

I first read Righteous Indignation (emphasis on RIGHTeous indigNATION) back in 2013. It was an interesting read back then, but the events of the past year or so have made it even more interesting and perhaps even relevant. If you're surprised that there is such a hatred and disgust towards the media today, this book is here to show you that this is simply business as usual for the grassroots Right. It is in Righteous Indignation that Breitbart recalls his rise recognition as an insurgent actively working against what he labels the 'Democrat-Media Complex. And it is in this book that he reveals what he believes to be the formula that will bring the Right to power.

In the mess that is 2017, this book seems relevant. Although it is poorly written and, to be quite honest, outright terrible, it does give some valuable insight into the minds of the people that are heralding us into a new political climate.

I decided to reread it, as well as make a blogpost for each chapter of the book. You can follow along by following the Reading Righteous Indignation tag. Here is chapter one: "From Little ACORNs Grow...

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Andrew Breitbart begins his book with the story of how him and James O'Keefe (no relation to myself) went on to take down ACORN back in 2009. This was the true beginning of Breitbart, for it is with this operation that the precursor to breitbart.com, BigGovernment.com, launched with. A year later, ACORN was defunded by Congress; Breitbard describes this as a life changing moment, one that propelled him to launch a total war on traditional media. 

Breitbart had a huge grudge towards the traditional media, which he dubs the 'Old Media.' He saw the Old Media as an institution that existed for the sole purpose of not only protecting, but also promoting the Democratic Party. Therefore, in the mind of Andrew Breitbart, the Old Media was a bastion of PC culture and social and economic justice. 

What was most striking to me about this chapter was the emphasis that Breitbart places on culture. The chapter poignantly ends with the sentence: "I am a reluctant cultural warrior." Like many pundits, journalists, and politicians today, Breitbart saw politics as a product of culture. "The constellation of AM talk radio, the Internet (Drudge Report, plus countless bloggers), and Fox News represents the successful, better-late-than-never counterattack against the left's unchallenged control of the culture of a center-right nation," Breitbart says, summing up the main thesis of the chapter. For Andrew Breitbart, the the Old Media launched leftist attacks on the culture of the United States, which Breitbart claims is inherently center-right. 

This is a belief that prevails into the current day. It's the idea behind Sean Hannity's demands for politicians to call terrorism 'radical Islamic terrorism.' It's all about fighting against the culture that the Left wants and the PC culture that comes with it.

To think that politics is cultural is incorrect, and the Left would make a mistake to fall into this trap. What does matter, however, is economics. I refuse to believe that working class Americans care more about what Sean Hannity labels terrorism happening in Europe. Working class Americans care more about that which affects their everyday life, things like money, their relationships to their bosses, and how they are going to pay for their healthcare. 

The Right cannot appeal to the working class on these fronts. Andrew Breitbart knew this, and that is why the Right has been so focused on realigning politics on a cultural narrative, on things that really do not matter all that significantly at the end of the day. The Left should be focusing on things that matter, like how people are going to be able to get healthcare and pay their bills, not silly faux culture wars. Because unlike in terms of economics, the Right actually has a chance at winning the cultural wars -- look no further than November 2016.

Some other highlights from chapter one: 

  • A good amount of drug metaphors, such as "my dual afflictions -- addiction to the Internet and addiction to breaking stories -- constitute a New Media addiction. And as a New Media addict I am both junkie and supplier." The New Media wasn't the only drug Breitbart was a junkie for.
  • The reason Breitbart gives for writing the book: "And I must do so because I have to write this book. I feel it is a moral imperative and a patriotic duty."
  • This sentence that didn't age too well: "... Fox News and its visionary creator Roger Ailes are relentlessly attacked by the same forces--not because Fox News reports the other side of the story, but because it showed that the other side of the story reflects the point of view of more people than CNN."
  • The assertion that Matt Drudge will be remembered as "the Internet's true media visionary."
and...

  • Reviews from Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, DailyCaller.com, and Washington Times. Prestigious. 
  • A dedication to Breitbart's father and Clarence Thomas.
  • A sticker excitedly proclaiming that this particular edition includes a "new chapter on the 'Weinergate' scandal."

Feb 21, 2017

Rough Thoughts On Violence etc.

I've been thinking about violence a lot lately. It's been an increasing source of frustration for me -- people don't seem to understand that violence takes forms that are more than just physical.

For reasons that are quite obvious, it is subjective violence (physical violence that we can view directly and identify particular agents) that generates the strongest reactions from people. But subjective violence doesn't just come from nowhere. Subjective violence is the direct product of object violence, which takes two forms: symbolic violence and systematic violence.

Objective violence is something that we don't notice. It is inherent in the systems that make our normal lives normal. It's things like language, political structures, capitalism -- things that wouldn't flow smoothly without some sort of oppression taking place, thus producing violence.

And it is this objective violence that ultimately leads to the manifestation of violence in a subjective, physical way.

I find it interesting and extremely frustrating that when Milo Yiannopolous is being discussed, some object to the idea of Milo being a violent being. Surely it's those who are protesting and rioting that are the ones being violent, the logic follows.

It's Milo's speech that is violent. It's perhaps not his physical actions, but the strings of words that he puts together that produce symbolic violence. This can potentially lead to the manifestation of physical violence.

But it's very difficult to get people to consider this. It's difficult to see violence when it's not hurting people physically. And it's harder still when you yourself might be violent, but not realizing it. That's the way it goes for privilege too; people don't necessarily want to be in positions of privilege, and it can be difficult to come to terms with the concept.

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On a somewhat related note, I thought a lot about free speech today, because really who couldn't? 

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a book deal.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you an audience.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a server to host your thoughts.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a college tour.

Free speech simply protects you from persecution over things that you say. It's important to remember that in light of some recent events.

Feb 18, 2017

Unhappiness

I'm always stressed about something. It's rare for a day to go by without me thinking about how I am doomed to fail; if not right now, then certainly in my future. Everyday I think I'm not good enough, and that I never will be.

I hate feeling sorry for myself. This leads me to feel as though I'm overreacting about everything that I feel. I'm feeling sad? I have no reason to, I'm just a pathetic excuse of a person.

⃝⃝⃝

On a recent episode of Chapo Trap House, Amber A'Lee Frost and Will Menaker discussed the life and ideas of the late Mark Fisher. They read excerpts from one of his pieces, entitled "Good for Nothing." This paragraph really stood out to me: 

My depression was always tied up with the conviction that I was literally good for nothing. I spent most of my life up to the age of thirty believing that I would never work. In my twenties I drifted between postgraduate study, periods of unemployment and temporary jobs. In each of these roles, I felt that I didn’t really belong – in postgraduate study, because I was a dilettante who had somehow faked his way through, not a proper scholar; in unemployment, because I wasn’t really unemployed, like those who were honestly seeking work, but a shirker; and in temporary jobs, because I felt I was performing incompetently, and in any case I didn’t really belong in these office or factory jobs, not because I was ‘too good’ for them, but – very much to the contrary – because I was over-educated and useless, taking the job of someone who needed and deserved it more than I did. Even when I was on a psychiatric ward, I felt I was not really depressed – I was only simulating the condition in order to avoid work, or in the infernally paradoxical logic of depression, I was simulating it in order to conceal the fact that I was not capable of working, and that there was no place at all for me in society.

Now, I have to say that I am not and never have been depressed to the extent that Fisher was. However, a lot of what he says in this piece, and especially this paragraph, really resonated with me. I think it's really common to feel like you're good for nothing, that nothing will ever become of you, that you will never have a job or be successful, especially in the context of late stage capitalism. This is how I've been feeling for a while now, and being in college -- a place in which I am supposed to make decisions about my future -- the feeling is stronger than ever. It's agonizing.

What really grabbed my attention was the line about how he felt as though he were simulating depression in order to avoid work. I always feel as though I am just really pathetic and making up silly excuses.

There are times where I get slight glimmers of hope -- I feel optimistic about my future, and I tell myself that I am smart and valuable. But it's nothing more than just a brief moment, and I feel like I'm never going to be good enough.

Feb 12, 2017

Best Interview Of All Time

Jan 12, 2017

I Want To Grow As A Writer...

....And that is why I am going to continually make submissions into the highly prestigious publication known as Thought Catalog. They are going to publish me, if it is the last thing that I do.

But in all honesty, I do want to grow as a writer. I've flirted with a lot of different career prospects in the last six years, and I always come back to writing. It goes without saying that this is a difficult field to make it in, but I want to put my all into this. Besides, I am only nineteen years old; I have a lot of time to improve and get ready to make a living off of writing.

You may have noticed that I've made a number of small design changes to my blog. These changes were made within the mindframe that, here on this blog, I want to focus on writing and ONLY on writing. I don't want to get distracted by pesky archive hierarchies or tacky 'thanks for reading' blurbs.

I feel somewhat optimistic about this. But also at the same time, extremely not, because oh my goodness I have a lot of work to do and wow there's a lot to live up to and I'm intimidated and I always have writer's block and I feel distracted too often and oh my goodness wow..................

I'm going to try though! Thanks for tuning in, the best is yet to come.