• csalisbury
    2.7k
    Some shower thoughts. I think a lot of this is obvious, but its been kicking around my head.


    __Cultures and institutions last for a while. But the people who comprise them are always being born into them-> learning them -> learning how to sustain themselves in them -> sustaining themselves -> getting ready for death. Cultures and institutions last longer than the individuals born into them, but depend on them for their continued existence. These are things that have an emergent life of their own, but require for their existence a coordination of many people who are experiencing them in very different ways.

    __ Almost everything preserved in a culture is, somewhere in its ancestry, traced back to a reaction against something else. The inception of anything new will only be fully understood by the people who install it. As a fait accompli, it will be viewed differently by anyone who comes after.

    __The inception of any new thing, as a reaction to something else, eventually stabilizes, developing largely according to an internal logic.

    __People who are born into a culture will learn of this new thing as if it were an old thing. Part of learning your way into a culture is to learn how to survive in it. These old things, initially reactions against some past threat or excess, will now be viewed as part of the cultural landscape that one has to master, in order to get ahead, or at least tread water.

    __One of the things I remember most fondly about coming-of-age in the early 2000s was finding weird samizdat-feeling shit on the internet. The internet felt like a chaotic, anarchic space set against the slow-witted world of my parents. In retrospect, it relied on that slow-witted world though. The thrill of it was having felt stultified, and having a release. The best internet stuff was either fully absurd and surreal, or mashing up tropes from the other world. Tim & Eric later became the simpsons, or south park of this approach.

    __It seems different if you come of age with the internet as an established thing. The anarchic flavor I liked now feels oppressive - that firehose of nihilistic memes you get on twitter or wherever. And the other aspects that felt fresh are now codified, there's an elaborate etiquette of internet talk. Now that everyone trades absurd memes, or hits the expected beats of an internet post (cf reddit), there's no longer any outside - and that kind of rids the internet of the liberatory feeling.

    __TikTok seems to favor ritualistic, repetitive things. People doing the same dance, or people doing highly stylized, almost noh-like, facial expressions alongside a song. It's all casual, in a way. Like if you look at an internet music breakout like Clairo etc - but its a deeply studied casualness.

    __Eventually people are going to have to react against the internet (or a certain mode of the internet) the same way my generation found the internet as a way to react against the boring culture of 90s triumphalism.

    __These are the same people who came of political age during trump and cancel culture.

    __It might feel like this to people in every generation, but there seems something scary about what happens when having one foot in the 90s vibe slowly peters out, and more and more people simply don't know a time before this.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k
    __It might feel like this to people in every generation, but there seems something scary about what happens when having one foot in the 90s vibe slowly peters out, and more and more people simply don't know a time before this.csalisbury

    I don't know, I think the transition from horses to cars was even more dramatic. I can't even imagine someone born in 1860s, who when seeing the popularity of cars in the 1910s and 20s, saw a complete difference in landscape, transportation, pace of life, etc. Imagine someone born in 1920 who only knew of cars, and couldn't comprehend a life without self-propelled vehicles.

    There's a reason why Tolkien's books are so charming. They speak to that time before fast-paced, industrialized technology. A definite romanticized vision, but there's a reason it appeals.
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    Yeah, I think the history of the world is probably a history of disorienting technological shifts. At the same time - So, though it's a commonplace to say the pace of these shifts is ramping up, it's also true. The Wright Brother's first flight was in 1903; We landed on the moon in 1969. I think there's a profound shift with the internet. A car is not all that different from a horse-drawn carriage. And even in 1860 you'd be familiar with the idea of an engine. It's a carriage with an engine and no horses. The person born in the 1860s would have been severely wowed if they found a way to stick around for the birth of the interstate system, but before that it folds pretty neatly into the city/rural difference. If you see movies at that time, the car, qua wowing-thing is usually tied to the city. It's a symbol of citiness, kind of at the same level of jazz. I don't think it hits the same thing, personally, but I do take your point. I just think it's happening faster now.
  • Valentinus
    945


    I see one element of the disassociation with history you are describing in the energy put into "fan fiction." The genre would not have been possible without the technology supporting it (or very unlikely) but the point of leverage is a matter of narrative qua narrative. It works something like this: "All that has been experienced is a story told somewhere and that story could be a different story." So, the narratives that can be remade are like our lives. malleable narratives rather than our history of unfortunate choices mixed in with hopefully better ones.

    I have been reading a lot of 19th century Russian novels lately and they all seem to be concerned about this sort of thing. The antithetical thought there is that we recognize crazy things in our children from our own experiences and worry it will bring them more harm than it did us with less support than we had. That is not to say my use of "we" is not just another narrative because surely many of us have not experienced such support.
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    Yeah, I feel like Dostoevsky is a really good touchstone here. In some ways Crime & Punishment is trying to stage something similar: 'what if you were a kid brought up on Napoleanism?' Or the 'underground man' who the introduction cautions us to think of as, roughly, 'a type who we must assume must exists in times such as these.' To blend back with @schopenhauer1's post, there is definitely a perennial human drama going on (though one has to wonder how this enacted itself in hunter-gatherer times, over millennia without the introduction of new technology.)

    In terms of fan-fiction, that definitely seems like a new (forum-based?) subculture. It's interesting that Fifty Shades got so big. At the same time, in another way, classic literature was often already fan-fiction - If you read Early Milton, this is clearly a young dude who's play-acting a writer of Epics. And then there's Dante writing The Divine Comedy, where Virgil makes an appearance and guides him. There's some fan-fiction-y elements to both of these as well.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.2k
    My parents were born in 1905 and 1906 (died in 2007 and 1993, respectively) and witnessed or experienced several transitions and major innovations: from horse power to motor power; the innovation of planes, radio, movies/talkies, refrigerators (vs. ice boxes), dial phones, television, computers, space flight, antibiotics, small pox, polio, mumps, measles, and chickenpox, scarlet fever; economic collapse and economic boom, 2 world wars, kitchen microwave ovens, cake mixes--and more!

    They seem to have taken all these changes in stride. Now that I am an old man I wish I could talk with them again about what they thought of all these changes. I came of age in the 1960s (sort of; it took decades). Yes, the 60s were great. We were young, in college, healthy, reasonably happy, in and out of love, full of youthful arrogance, and all that. For gays living in backwater midwestern towns, the 1960s sexual revolution didn't begin until 1970. Yes, it was wonderful.

    Before the Internet there was the very very big computer and in time the scrawny little personal computer. I was much taken with the idea of the HAL9000 computer in 2001 (the movie, not the year), then with the 1980s Macintosh computer--which of course had less computing power than my washing machine has (figuratively speaking). My old Mac Plus resides in its own chapel. Still an itsy-bitsy computer helped make the 1969 moon landing (Apollo 11). The Apollo 11 computer was novel in that it ran on silicon instead of vacuum tubes. I was 15 when Kennedy proposed landing a crew on the moon (and bringing them back, alive); I was 23 when it happened. Yes, it was as stirring as you might think it was.

    My take on the Internet is that it actually is a great resource for information, while also being a big sewer pipe. I've never gotten into FaceBook, Twitter, TikTok, or most other social media. Too much of it Is drivel, or worse--a shit show.

    BTW, the landing of the Perseverance ranks up there as an amazing feat. Lots of missions to mars ended in failure, but arriving in orbit, detaching the lander rocket from the space ship, then that rocket slowing down to a pause, hovering above the surface and lowering the rover to the surface, then detaching and getting the hell out of the way--hey, you witnessed a very very big deal.
  • Valentinus
    945
    Working backwards, there is a fan fiction element to Dante, Milton, (and Shakespeare too). But they also had living enemies who were implicated by their stories. A lot of the present controversies surround how the Harry Potter stories should turn out. There is some kind of difference there.

    I think Dostoevsky was trying to wrestle with archaic generational struggles. I will try to come back with something more coherent later on that.
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    My parents were born in 1905 and 1906 (died in 2007 and 1993, respectively) and witnessed or experienced several transitions and major innovations: from horse power to motor power; the innovation of planes, radio, movies/talkies, refrigerators (vs. ice boxes), dial phones, television, computers, space flight, antibiotics, small pox, polio, mumps, measles, and chickenpox, scarlet fever; economic collapse and economic boom, 2 world wars, kitchen microwave ovens, cake mixes--and more!

    They seem to have taken all these changes in stride. Now that I am an old man I wish I could talk with them again about what they thought of all these changes. I came of age in the 1960s (sort of; it took decades). Yes, the 60s were great. We were young, in college, healthy, reasonably happy, in and out of love, full of youthful arrogance, and all that. For gays living in backwater midwestern towns, the 1960s sexual revolution didn't begin until 1970. Yes, it was wonderful.

    Before the Internet there was the very very big computer and in time the scrawny little personal computer. I was much taken with the idea of the HAL9000 computer in 2001 (the movie, not the year), then with the 1980s Macintosh computer--which of course had less computing power than my washing machine has (figuratively speaking). My old Mac Plus resides in its own chapel. Still an itsy-bitsy computer helped make the 1969 moon landing (Apollo 11). The Apollo 11 computer was novel in that it ran on silicon instead of vacuum tubes. I was 15 when Kennedy proposed landing a crew on the moon (and bringing them back, alive); I was 23 when it happened. Yes, it was as stirring as you might think it was.

    My take on the Internet is that it actually is a great resource for information, while also being a big sewer pipe. I've never gotten into FaceBook, Twitter, TikTok, or most other social media. Too much of it Is drivel, or worse--a shit show.

    BTW, the landing of the Perseverance ranks up there as an amazing feat. Lots of missions to mars ended in failure, but arriving in orbit, detaching the lander rocket from the space ship, then that rocket slowing down to a pause, hovering above the surface and lowering the rover to the surface, then detaching and getting the hell out of the way--hey, you witnessed a very very big deal.
    Bitter Crank

    Thank you for this!

    I'm mentally diving back - I'm not gay, though I've had some drunken bi-sexual experiences. I didn't feel too weird after. I think part of that was knowing that gay-culture was pretty normal, at that time.

    Growing up in the oughts, it was ok to have experiences, no matter your sexuality. That's actually something I like a lot in younger-millennial and gen-z culture. There's not a quick sorting based on that.


    What I'd be most curious to hear about, from your perspective, is how cultural-shifts shifted your own experience. There was a kind of taboo element to homosexuality. It seems like that used to be expended in the 'secret' place of gay hookups - is some of that lost now? [advanced question: how do you think about trans sexuality? you don't have to answer that.)
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k

    I beg to differ.. Within a short amount of time from when the Model T came out, I am pretty sure most people had a vehicle. What a crazy change from a literally horse-drawn society. Think about how much infrastructure related to horses was completely taken out from this shift. I get your point that things take longer to get to rural populations, and you can make an argument that it wasn't until post-WWII that truly the older system of horses was displaced (especially in places like Russian, etc) but still pretty dramatic shift in geography, time, place, etc. And of course, as you mentioned the Wright Brothers and the companies that followed for air technology.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k

    I didn't see this. I was just trying to put this in perspective. I can see the parallels.. Instead of moving a person somewhere much faster, information gets to one's device screen much faster, and instantaneously. This increases the speed of commerce and all sorts of coordination. Technology tends to speed up services, production, and other technology.

    The part that actually caught my attention here was this:

    __Cultures and institutions last for a while. But the people who comprise them are always being born into them-> learning them -> learning how to sustain themselves in them -> sustaining themselves -> getting ready for death. Cultures and institutions last longer than the individuals born into them, but depend on them for their continued existence. These are things that have an emergent life of their own, but require for their existence a coordination of many people who are experiencing them in very different ways.

    __ Almost everything preserved in a culture is, somewhere in its ancestry, traced back to a reaction against something else. The inception of anything new will only be fully understood by the people who install it. As a fait accompli, it will be viewed differently by anyone who comes after.

    __The inception of any new thing, as a reaction to something else, eventually stabilizes, developing largely according to an internal logic.

    __People who are born into a culture will learn of this new thing as if it were an old thing. Part of learning your way into a culture is to learn how to survive in it. These old things, initially reactions against some past threat or excess, will now be viewed as part of the cultural landscape that one has to master, in order to get ahead, or at least tread water.
    csalisbury

    I am fascinated with the situatedness of being thrown into existence and what this entails. The huge superstructure in which we as individuals are interacting with. What are people's place in this? It is practically inescapable and so, are we working for it, or it for us? Are we providing more workers or is work providing more "thriving" in some Aristotlean sense. It's maddenginly intertwined, and I wouldn't blame people for being distraught from these implications.

    As far as the social media and its implications...

    Perhaps what it does is prevent imagination from being more important. It also makes connections more ephemoral. Communities, societies, people can be easily connected to but also easily pushed aside. Consumption of connection makes connection that much more of a disposable commodity. These are just some ideas. There have always been a contingent of people who rather interact with technology more with people (arcades, video games, tv, prior to internet for example).. but it seems people generally thrive more with more human interaction.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.2k
    Within a short amount of time from when the Model T came out, I am pretty sure most people had a vehicle. What a crazy change from a literally horse-drawn society. Think about how much infrastructure related to horses was completely taken out from this shift.schopenhauer1

    Not so fast there. Cars did replace horses but not quite overnight.

    Until the beginning of the 20th century, horse power was ubiquitous in all sorts of applications, but most people didn't own a private horse if they didn't live on a farm. Horses were expensive and their care time consuming. In large cities people rented horses by the ride -- not so much on the horse, but in vehicles pulled by horses -- carts, wagon, buggies, street cars, etc. Large cities had heavy horse-drawn vehicle traffic, leading to traffic jams--grid lock even.

    The electric subway or trolley / street car arrived before the automobile. For a short period of time, horses, autos, and electric street cars vied for space--the horse losing out. But cars had disadvantages too, especially in cities where there were other options. They were expensive, they were not all that easy to operate and maintain, roads outside of and between cities were not good, and there was not yet a service station on every other corner.

    Horses remained in common use in cities for hauling freight short distances until reasonably good trucks arrived in the late teens, early 1920s.

    Car ownership is apparently becomes less common among young urban dwellers these days, in cities with half-ways tolerable mass transit. Cost must be a factor, as well as insurance costs and parking.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k

    I don't disagree with what you're saying but I didn't say everyone had a horse. I said:

    What a crazy change from a literally horse-drawn society.schopenhauer1

    But I also understand you also wanted to note other forms of transportation were even more used in urban centers and coincided with horse-drawn carriages.

    Horses remained in common use in cities for hauling freight short distances until reasonably good trucks arrived in the late teens, early 1920s.Bitter Crank

    Maybe it's a bit subjective, but to me, that kind of pace from when the Model T was introduced to when the majority of people were using cars rather than horse-drawn carriages is pretty fast.

    Car ownership is apparently becomes less common among young urban dwellers these days, in cities with half-ways tolerable mass transit. Cost must be a factor, as well as insurance costs and parking.Bitter Crank

    Definitely makes sense.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.2k
    What are people's place in this? It is practically inescapable and so, are we working for it, or it for us?schopenhauer1

    That's a very good question.

    People think they are using Facebook and Twitter. Actually, Facebook and Twitter are using them.

    It's maddenginly intertwined, and I wouldn't blame people for being distraught from these implications.schopenhauer1

    Live as we have lived it has been intertwined for a long time, and it has become much more difficult to grasp the whole.

    You know, the telegraph was invented around 1840. by 1861, Lincoln had a telegraph office installed next door to the White House in the War Department. He learned how to use the telegraph for command and control purposes pretty quickly. (The Union Army laid telegraph lines as they
    moved, keeping the generals in touch with headquarters.)

    I don't disagree with what you're saying but I didn't say everyone had a horse.schopenhauer1

    No, you didn't. But here's what happens. You said something about horses and this caused spooled memories of what I had read about horse use to unspool. I couldn't help it. Stuff has been sitting in my head for years, just waiting for a trigger to unwind it.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k
    That's a very good question.

    People think they are using Facebook and Twitter. Actually, Facebook and Twitter are using them.
    Bitter Crank

    Yes, good way of brining it back to social media. We just provide the data for optimization and marketing research to sell us more targeted stuff. Yay. Of course, I also meant it on a more global level. I know your leanings are sympathetic to Communism. I agree much with Marx, not in his exact analysis of economic dialectics (and its supposed end), but rather his centralizing of the "superstructure" (i.e. economy) as THE big issue that everything else revolves around. As a more existential person myself, I don't think there's a way out of being used. Society needs to replicate its cultural structures. We are its replicators. However, I am not trying to reify society.. rather I am trying to understand how the cultural "memes" instilled in people create it so that other people must be born to perpetuate the cultural memes. Sure we can say people are born because "sex feels good" but with contraception and intentional procreation, there is more going on obviously.

    You know, the telegraph was invented around 1840. by 1861, Lincoln had a telegraph office installed next door to the White House in the War Department. He learned how to use the telegraph for command and control purposes pretty quickly. (The Union Army laid telegraph lines as they
    moved, keeping the generals in touch with headquarters.)
    Bitter Crank

    Yes, and it didn't take long for cross-Atlantic soon after. Imagine fixing those electrical issues with the tools they had!

    No, you didn't. But here's what happens. You said something about horses and this caused spooled memories of what I had read about horse use to unspool. I couldn't help it. Stuff has been sitting in my head for years, just waiting for the trigger to unwind it.Bitter Crank

    :lol: No problem.. You provided good context.
  • baker
    583
    There's a reason why Tolkien's books are so charming. They speak to that time before fast-paced, industrialized technology.schopenhauer1
    Not at all. Think of all the sword fights, the bows and arrows! The horses, the running, the falling, the chases, the charges, the battles! The urgency! That's not charming at all.

    The characters in Tolkien's books have a meaningful sense of urgency; they actually have missions, things to do, places to be. Dragons to slay, rings to destroy.

    Unlike nowadays IRL, when there is no grand narrative, and while there is urgency, it also has no definitive direction.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k

    I get ya. Rather I was thinking of his descriptive imagery of the landscapes.
  • baker
    583
    I get ya. Rather I was thinking of his descriptive imagery of the landscapes.schopenhauer1
    Sure, but there are dragons lurking there, literally! And orcs!

    The beauty of the Shire, for example, is not safe, not a given. How can you enjoy it when you know there is evil not far from it?
  • schopenhauer1
    5.1k
    Sure, but there are dragons lurking there, literally! And orcs!

    The beauty of the Shire, for example, is not safe, not a given. How can you enjoy it when you know there is evil not far from it?
    baker

    Interestingly enough, the evils of places like Isengard and Mordor were likened to the industrialization that ruined the countryside.

    Just the first article in the search, but I've read it before.
    https://medium.com/literally-literary/isengard-represented-the-industrial-revolution-because-tolkien-hated-technology-6ed05430ecce#:~:text=Tolkien%20was%20opposed%20to%20modernization,dissent%2C%20during%20one%20service).
  • Bitter Crank
    9.2k
    What I'd be most curious to hear about, from your perspective, is how cultural-shifts shifted your own experience. There was a kind of taboo element to homosexuality. It seems like that used to be expended in the 'secret' place of gay hookups - is some of that lost now?csalisbury

    Yes, homosexuality was officially a perversion, a sickness, when I was growing up, and it was 'dangerous' to bring up the topic or show too much interest in it. Information--certainly positive information--was hard to find when I was in high school/college (I was born in '46). Naturally, I internalized the taboo and had all sorts of guilt issues. Guilt, however, didn't prevent me from having gay sex.

    Gay men built social/sexual lives in the '40s, '50s, and 60s (according to informed sources) through networks, and there were places one could go to find sex -- out of view paths in parks, pubic toilets in stores or college buildings, and cruising in public -- using gaydar to spot other homosexuals, and try to make a contact with them. (I can't explain the details, but it does work often enough to be worth it.). Then there were gay bars, gay bath houses, and adult bookstores where one could have sex.

    A lot of these features of gay life were swept away by AIDS, and the civic reaction to AIDS. Well, death kind of cast a pall over things too. But the bars remained--until hook-up apps like GRINDR made trips to the bars to find a partner unnecessary. Gay bars are still around, but at least where I live they have lost a lot of business (this way before Covid).

    I've aged out of the active sex demographic--way out--so all this is more an intellectual interest than an urgent sexual one. But some important things have definitely been lost.

    One big thing that has been lost was the outsider status a lot of gays felt (and cultivated). Being gay is now no big deal -- apparently. Perhaps "being proudly gay" is not as crucial now as it was? On the other hand, some gay boys (maybe some gay girls too) are getting kicked out of their homes by parents who reject them. They're usually like 15 to 17. Of course, homelessness entails a lot of problems for these young people.

    Gay Liberation wasn't quite the revolution it might have been, but "liberating one's self", and joining up with other liberated gay guys felt like a tremendous step forward, back in 1969-70-71. Sure, it was scary to come out and risk rejection (or worse), but it was almost always worth the risk.

    The risk of getting caught having sex in unapproved places raised the excitement value. Probably mot much risk dialing into GRINDR to see who's available.

    advanced question: how do you think about trans sexuality? you don't have to answer that.csalisbury

    I have known maybe 10 transsexuals since the 1970s. Most of these people had clear identity objectives--from male to female or female to male. Kind of cut and dried. The trans people I have known seemed happier after they transitioned (having had surgery or not) than before. So, the most recent trans person I know I met about 2006. He was a veteran, alcoholic, college educated, M to F. He had to get a lot of problems resolved in the process (like alcoholism) but he made it.

    So, these 10 trans people are one thing. The whole current trans-movement thing -- particularly how popular it is with the media -- baffles me. The number of people who are what I would call transsexual isn't much larger than .005% to .0075%--less than 1 percent of the population. It baffles me that this relatively small group of people (with a lot of help from people who are not even remotely trans) have managed to install the term "cisgender" on 99% of the population, and that many people are now listing their acceptable pronouns -- usually they are just what one would expect. I just don't get it.

    Gender ambiguity isn't new, of course. Here's a song from 1926,masculine women, feminine men

    Some histories note that the first third of the 20th century was sexually wilder than we would think. There were, particularly, a lot of loosened norms during Prohibition. When Prohibition ended, the forces of propriety clamped down hard, and things didn't loosen up again until the 60s.
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    I beg to differ.. Within a short amount of time from when the Model T came out, I am pretty sure most people had a vehicle. What a crazy change from a literally horse-drawn society. Think about how much infrastructure related to horses was completely taken out from this shift. I get your point that things take longer to get to rural populations, and you can make an argument that it wasn't until post-WWII that truly the older system of horses was displaced (especially in places like Russian, etc) but still pretty dramatic shift in geography, time, place, etc. And of course, as you mentioned the Wright Brothers and the companies that followed for air technology.schopenhauer1

    That's an interesting historical question - did most people have a car shortly after the model t came out? My intuition tells me no, but it depends on your timeframe. Bracketed composing my post & did some quick internet sleuthing - it looks like you're right. The model-t was released in 1908 and by 1929 60% of families owned a car. It was a quick, dramatic shift.

    You are right that there have been profound technological disruptions for a while. I still think that the rate at which this happens is telescoping, and that the automobile and the airplane are one stage in a progressive ramping up which has led, now, to the internet as an even more accelerated thing. Though it's also true that each generation (at least in recent history) feels like they're losing their mooring a bit, as things go on. Maybe I'm just (early 30s) getting into the very early stages of that. When I think of Gen-Zers (and young millennials) I think of a very open, supportive community that is simultaneously a slightly puritanical and vindictive community. But the hippies also said 'don't trust anyone over 30' (I think). It'll be interesting to see how it goes. On the whole I'm hopeful, at least tonight, but the pessimistic mood I wrote the OP in I feel just as often.
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    Thanks for taking the time to post this stuff. I'm realizing more and more , recently, that I tend to over-rely on the neatness of abstractions, so the historical detail is very welcome.

    The idea of networks - and illicit meetings- feels exciting. I remember feeling, in a low-level way, that same sense of excitement when I got into psychedelics in high school and 'crossed the tracks', so to speak, going to places I never would have otherwise. Psychedelics still would have been fun but something about the hidden-world thing made it feel more intense, and exploratory - basically more meaningful. (I'm airbrushing a little; psychedelics have recenetly become re-respectable, but we were just as often just straight up drinking, doing street drugs etc)

    At the same time, I can imagine when the 'illicit' thrill is a core component of your identity, it's maybe a better trade-off to lose the thrill in exchange for social recognition and security - as with those who become homeless because of a dissonance with the family they're raised in.

    I want to also talk about the trans stuff, but I'll have to save it for the next one. Broadly my concern is that many people in their teens & 20s feel really confused about their bodies and identities, and that, of that set of confused people, only a small amount are trans (as you were saying.) I don't for a second doubt the reality of the trans experience, but I have reservations about it becoming a template for resolving identity issues in general. Obviously a very thorny issue in today's climate, so I'll have to think out how I want to to talk about it, before I dig in too deeply.

    ___

    Unrelated, but I figured I'd throw it out there real quick. My favorite poet is John Ashbery. Do you know and/or like him? He's a bit older (born in '27) but also grew up gay in a small town, then went to the city. I guess he'd be the generation before you, but in the broad smear of time, he seems to have come of age in a world closer to world you came of age in than the world I did.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.2k
    psychedelicscsalisbury

    I missed out on most of the drug stuff. It was available, I could have. I am quite risk tolerant in some areas and risk averse in others. Psilocybin, and LSD too, seem to have some beneficial effects for some serious mental health conditions.

    Illicit thrills, outsiderness, social recognition, status, dissonance, respectability -- I wish I had had a better way of dealing with that, when I was young. But then, that is what getting older and wiser is about, I guess.

    I understand that many young people experience confusion about their embodiment - body and identity. It didn't seem to be the case when I was in high school. Various people had problems, but perplexing confusion about their bodies and gender identity didn't seem to a problem. I wonder if this comes from exterior psychological influences, or (worse) complex synthetic chemicals which mimic hormones. Sperm counts are down, there are more abnormal eggs, and more reproductive organ abnormalities--not just in humans, but in other animals too. We are awash in these fluorine/chlorine/carbon compounds used in the manufacture of fire retardants, teflon, and such. It can't be there without consequences.

    I'm not familiar with John Ashbery; there's an awful lot of literature I haven't touched. Shameful for an old English major. I did check him out just now; is there a piece you especially recommend?

    The New York Times titled his obit "John Ashbery in all his hunky glory" over this photo:

    5af5653232a5a9ca06f6ab75d1a3635fbf3e25e2.jpg

    Just a few years ago I finally got around to reading some of the great beatnik poets and novelists (many who were either gay or bi). I was moved by many of the pieces. Had I read these in college (when the beatniks were still "a thing") it would have sailed over my head. BTW, the beatniks took their name from "beatitude". Or so one of them claimed.
  • baker
    583
    Well, the time of the elves is over.

    https://i.imgur.com/SLAlB.jpg
  • csalisbury
    2.7k
    That's my favorite photo of him, for sure. It's hard to choose a poem - all his best are sort of long - but one I like a lot is A Man of Words -( In its entirety here, probably composed around the same time that photo was taken)

    His case inspires interest
    But little sympathy; it is smaller
    Than at first appeared. Does the first nettle
    Make any difference as what grows
    Becomes a skit? Three sides enclosed,
    The fourth open to a wash of the weather,
    Exits and entrances, gestures theatrically meant
    To punctuate like doubled-over weeds as
    The garden fills up with snow?
    Ah, but this would have been another, quite other
    Entertainment, not the metallic taste
    In my mouth as I look away, density black as gunpowder
    In the angles where the grass writing goes on,
    Rose-red in unexpected places like the pressure
    Of fingers on a book suddenly snapped shut.

    Those tangled versions of the truth are
    Combed out, the snarls ripped out
    And spread around. Behind the mask
    Is still a continental appreciation
    Of what is fine, rarely appears and when it does is already
    Dying on the breeze that brought it to the threshold
    Of speech. The story worn out from telling.
    All diaries are alike, clear and cold, with
    The outlook for continued cold. They are placed
    Horizontal, parallel to the earth,
    Like the unencumbering dead. Just time to reread this
    And the past slips through your fingers, wishing you were there.
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