Stunning and brave new world
Worked last night at the restaurant. Today I’m waiting on a text from Larry the carpenter. I’m going into his studio to tear down the ceiling, rip down more walls. Inhale plaster, drink the dust, step on nails, hammer my fingers, caulk my peehole.
I guess I’m not as incompetent as I thought, or Larry is that desperate for help, golem level help. After working on that antique shop façade, that day where I tackled a mentally ill black woman in front of a crowd of angry loafers, I haven’t done any carpentry work. Haven’t reached out either. Tired of begging people to let me work for them. Tired of trying to get everyone’s attention.
It’s no wonder people tap out and jerk off all day. I can’t bring myself to do it but I also have this masochistic motor running all the time that keeps me working at menial jobs and obscure projects as punishment for the crime of being born. Digging holes in fields of clay with a plastic spoon under the nuclear sun. The harder and less fulfilling the job the more knotted gratification it gives me.
Yesterday I did 500 pushups because a man on the internet said I was mentally weak if I couldn’t do it. A specter on youtube taunted me and I couldn’t ignore it. A digital image questioned my manhood and had me pushing against the floor for an hour. I’m strong enough to do 500 pushups because how dare someone I’ve never met and will never meet imagine me as a weakling.
But my fortitude never translates into a practical venture. All this toughness and focus and I channel it toward doing thousands of naked jumping jacks in my living room, reading Nietzsche and Hegel until I can’t see straight, until I don’t know what century I’m in.
I’m in my backyard, wearing a stahlhelm, doing one armed pullups from sparking power lines, reciting lord byron and rehearsing arguments for why individualistic ideology dissolves the social fabric.
Never building a business, learning a trade, figuring out how to scam the system. Volunteering in a nursing home, feeding orphans of war. Meeting the right people. Playing the stock market, investing, diversifying portfolios. Designing apps, new ponzi schemes. Collecting coupons. No savviness in the ways of life. Just a maniacal will to learn lute suits on the guitar and read about the reformation. Boutique accomplishments.
Interviewed for a moving and junk hauling company last week. I went to the opposite side of the city to the wrong location. The address on google maps was outdated. When I found the right place and walked through the door of the office three dogs jumped on me and ran into the parking lot.
The interviewer was younger than me and wouldn’t make eye contact. He felt the need to say a few things about himself. I’m an easy guy to get along with until you piss me off. Which either means nothing or that he has corpses buried under broken furniture. A girlfriend with a black eye and bruised ribs. I have a bland, pop culture-soaked manner with vestiges of old-school working-class masculinity, but when you touch my emotional tripwires I erupt with volcanic rage and punch holes in the wall.
The company can’t find help. No one who applies has a driver’s license. I have a license so I can start out as a captain and drive a whale penis of a truck down narrow streets, smashing side view mirrors and busting street signs and hydrants and running into those green electrical boxes. I’m immediately eligible for a promotion to be the guy everyone hates when they encounter him on the road.
To get a basic office job I would need to know the president of the united states, have letters of recommendation from the bilderburg group. The jobs where I can get interviews they’re pleasantly surprised I have no felonies on my record. The kind of job I’d like: I’d need a doctoral degree from harvard, a deal with satan. The kind of job that’s available: they’re eager to hire me on the spot because I don’t have visible head wounds and I haven’t stabbed anyone to death in the last three months.
The aim of progressive society is to substitute expert administration and technical procedures for traditional morality and organic social bonds. Unable to control themselves, to rationally anticipate consequences, people construe choice as access to facilities and funds that would erase the adverse effects of their impulsive behavior.
Community, religious tradition and biology have no hold, they’re seen as oppressive constructs. Instead, the self-determining individual insists on the right to consume and expects the latest technoscientific advances to alleviate the personal and social ravages of unfettered consumption.
In its higher forms, morality instills discipline and deepens the conscience. People then act with true autonomy in service to their better selves, the welfare of those around them, and God, without the need for surveillance or the threat of punishment. But even where conscience is lacking, a tightly knit community orders behavior through pressure and shame, negative though necessary controls on anti-social urges.
The public campaign against shame dissolves the capacity to regulate emotion and action. Rather than freeing the person to be their true selves, it strengthens their dependence on the approval of the schizophrenic mass mind. Shamelessness reinforces a media machine that cranks out palliative and infantilizing messages, as well a techno-medical bureaucracy that manages disease and dysfunction.
The reduction of the person to a consumer with unlimited cravings and a stunted awareness of their relation to others, hooked up to an interface of illusory self-fashioning projects, is the ironic fulfillment of Nietzche’s prophecy. Not the bovine contentedness of the last man, but the insolent floundering of the overweight man.
People aren’t happy with relative comfort, convenience and power. They’re barely conscious of the technological and social support they receive, but they come alive with embittered rage when the system that feeds their addictions breaks down or they face opposition to their gluttonous and masturbatory lifestyles. It is then crucial to recover a state of ease and permissiveness that failed to satisfy them in the first place.