This is a continuation of the earlier Why is it the end ? which you should probably read first.
Telling a modern American that what they really want is less freedom seems like some dangerous talk, but it is true nonetheless. Cynicism, irony has failed you, but you know no other way to be. Don Draper is an ad man, so going to a "partners' meeting" run formally, by a secretary, doesn't seem bad at all. It seems great. Neither does wearing a suit and tie, every day, and a hat. But your job doesn't define you, so going to a meeting seems stupid, a farce, play acting, so you display a cynical detachment from it. And you're not going to wear a tie for anybody. You know it's stupid, you're not buying this corporate bullshit. This cynical posture is a front, a wall, it protects you from being defined by your actions; but what you don't see is that the very job you think you're undermining still receives the full power of your productivity. That you're unhappy, or cynical, is irrelevant to it. It doesn't care about you. Why should it? You don't even care about yourself.
That's what we envy in Don Draper. That he can exist as himself without ironic detachment, that he can be defined as something. And what they are and what they do match up perfectly, even if it's "bad." The truth you must face, now, immediately, is that if you were put in Draper's clothes, in his relationships, in his job, you yourself would immediately affect that cynical detachment: "A partners' meeting? What for? Come on, I see you guys in the hallways all the time" and you'd be as miserable as you are now. But until you accept this truth about yourself, you'll think changing other things could save you. Tell the truth: did you consider a career in advertising after you watched Mad Men? Then you are lost.
It's impossible to deconstruct TV shows without considering their complement: advertising. Ads, especially TV commercials, offer the exact opposite of cynical detachment: pure aspiration. So while you resist allowing your career or relationship to define you-- "I'm more than a software engineer!" you beg objects-- cars, clothes, women-- to define you, and of course not actual cars, clothes, or women, but whatever other people have said those things represent. Worse, cynicism and aspirational branding aren't two opposite ends of a pole, they form a cycle: the chasm between your cynical view of real life and the perfect definition of the aspirational images in ads makes you even more cynical towards real life; which drives you further into the safety of branding. Which is why you drink.
The only salvation to this existential crisis is less freedom, not more. The only question is whether you will impose these restrictions on yourself, or you will wait like cattle for someone else to impose them on you. But they will be imposed. It is inevitable.
Which, incidentally, takes us to a practical point : all sorts of half-baked ideologues, pretty much all of the culturally-marginal scum that froths on the edges of society, all the "activists" and "anarchists" and "communists" and heck-else they call their own inability to cope, inability to achieve and inability to thrive in the world see Bitcoin as a sort of gift from above, made by their daddy directly to them.i
Well... Bitcoin is absolutely nothing of the sort. Bitcoin doesn't make it easier for anti-capitalists, it makes it harder. Bitcoin doesn't make it easier for anti-corporatists, it makes it harder. Bitcoin especially does not make it easier for socialists, for those people that despise hierarchy and pretend equality : it makes it impossible. Plain impossible.
Bitcoin is the most conservative thing since at least queen Victoria, if not outright Jesus. Bitcoin makes so-called "progressive" tax schemes unworkable. Bitcoin makes any sort of public welfare untenable. Bitcoin makes anyone's pretense of equality with anyone else risible. Bitcoin isn't here to "make communes work", but quite the contrary : it will render communes both inoperable and uninteresting to pretty much everyone. Once it's done tearing away the crap these very people have tacked on to government, once we're back to something a lot more akin to what the slave states had before the Civil War (and that's exactly were we're headed, and that's exactly what that conflict was : a dispute between Big Government and individuals - unfortunately BG won) we'll obviously be in a much better position to grok all this. Retrovision is always 20/20, after all.
Here's your first point of irony: this true lady-centric blockbuster franchise isn't named after Katniss, it's named after what happens to Katniss, which is why it is truly a lady-centric franchise.
How would you classify this book/movie's genre? Is it an action movie with a female twist? Is it a love story? A drama? Sci-fi?
No. It is a fairy tale.
We can start with the obvious. The book is about 24 kids thrown into an arena to fight to the death, only the toughest, the most resourceful, the strongest will survive, and it better be you because your whole village depends on it. It is such a scary premise that there was some concern it was too violent for kids to watch. Well, big surprise: Katniss wins.
Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That's weird, what does she do to win? Take as much time as you want on this, it's an open book test. The answer is nothing.
This is not a criticism about the entertainment value of the story, but about its popularity and the pretense that it has a strong female character. I like the story of Cinderella, but I doubt that anyone would consider Cinderella a strong female character, yet Katniss and Cinderella are identical.
The traditional progressive complaint about fairy tales like Cinderella is that they supposedly teach girls to want to be princesses and want to live happily ever after. But is that so bad? The real problem with fairy tales is that the protagonist never actually does anything to become a princess. Forget about gerrymandering or slaying a dragon or poisoning her rivals: does she even get a pretty dress, go to the ball and seduce the prince? Those may be anti-feminist actions, but at least they are actions. No. She is given two dresses, carried to the ball, and the Prince comes and finds her. Twice. Her only direct and volitional action is to leave the ball at midnight, and even that isn't so much a choice as because of a threat.ii The clear problem with this isn't that girls will want to hold out for a Prince, but that it might foster the illusion their value is so innately high that even without pretty clothes or a sense of agency a Prince will come find them. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are worse: they don't even have to bother to stay alive to get their Prince.
It's the end because confirmation bias selects for mere convergence, irrespective of reality, increasing confidence in results without relation to actual gain of quality ; and because culture is by itself a convergence mechanism, which means the problem aggravates over the generations.
It is the end through the mechanism that the distanceiii between the goods and their symbolic representation is misrepresented necessarily, as a fundamental point of the functioning of the entire systemiv, and that misrepresentation leaves unresolved the principal if not outright the sole reason to even have society in the first place : forcing conception.v
And before you start : no it doesn't have to be the end. Of course it doesn't. Nothing ever has to be the end. Solutions there always could be - just like the terminal patient could, in principle, enter remission. Why not ? His liver could stop not working and start working instead, your wife could stop being such a bitch and be you-hungry instead, you could stop procrastinating and do things instead, politicians could stop lying and tell you the truth instead and you could stop pretending and take them seriously instead - we could could all the way to the end of this endless page on the strength and substance of coulds alone. But we won't.
The point isn't that there couldn't be solutions - the point is that there aren't.———
- See also. [↩]
- n. orig. The threat is not that her coach will become a pumpkin. It is "the longer you stay, the more likely you will be detected to be a fraud." This is a critical childhood anxiety (which is why it is in a fairy tale), a narcissistic anxiety, and a feminist anxiety. The only thing she has to offer are her looks, and those are artificial (makeup and clothes) and transient. Eventually, the botox wears off. Tellingly, it cannot occur to Cinderella to even anti-feministly use her boobs to seduce the Prince and then win him over with her charm/grace/personality. Ultimate decision and action is always someone else's (godmother, Prince, etc.) [↩]
- There is something fundamentally human about the small child that tries to pet a wolverine as if it were a guinea pig, or fearlessly sticks his hand in the fire as if it were just so much playdo - exciting, colorful, enticing playdo, sexy playdo perhaps, but playdo nevertheless. This is to no degree different from the expectation of libertards that Bitcoin will further their liberally retarded goals, or the expectation of their forefathers that a piece of paper will somehow - if magicked correctly, if dipped in the river of incantation by the right ankle - will somehow protect their children from becoming slaves on the continent their fathers fought to conquer.
The expectation that names have power over the things they name is, after all, the fundament of all magical thinking. [↩]
- Because there isn't enough space in reality to accomodate all the putative "rights" liberally imagined for everyone - just like the currency has to constantly inflate to stave off "deflation", ie that imaginary state defined by the absence of inflation, just so the conceptual space has to constantly expand to accomodate ever more imaginary rights, characteristics, properties, brands and ultimately names of the idealized self-object. [↩]
- Yes, that's right : the only reason society aka old women are kept around is to modulate the coy behaviour in the younger ones. That's it.
Why did you think it was, to quote,
Though this is an example of the feminist agency problem, you should note carefully that the "society" that forces this false choice on women is actually other women, not men, and it starts with the overly invested way mothers reproach their daughters to "dress like a lady." Certainly the original energy for this madness comes from men, from "the patriarchy", but if every man was executed tonight nothing would change tomorrow. It's on autopilot. Case in point: this story of a girl robbed of agency was written by a woman.
The "original energy" for this thing which is not merely not-madness but exactly the opposite of madness does come in fact from men, but there's not enough of that to go around. It has to be leveraged by a lot of serious application of effort by a lot of people who aren't directly employed in the core job any longer, or else. Or else what ? I believe the term you use is "fertility below replacement rate" ; we don't really know what other societies in the same situation called it - guess why.
Yes, yes, I know, the bad corporations are bringing in all those migrants, which you don't really approve of - either because they took your jerbs notwithstanding that you don't want a job unless it's fantastic or else because they're being exploited notwithstanding that if they had it so bad they wouldn't be coming in the first place. Just like that time when bad companies Hearst and Universal told your wife to "cheat" which you didn't really approve of either. Good thing nobody asked you - that way "you get to keep" the marriage, and the country. [↩]