Year of Flaccid Thinking
Commenter Rob has nominated us for our very own Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award, or at least suggested we should be so nominated, which highlights the disadvantages involved when accolades have been systematically handed out without rules attached. Can you give yourself a BSIHORL award? The dilemma has, we confess, taken us completely by surprise. We’ll have to toddle off somewhere and give that a think-or-three.
The sentence in question has to do with the iPresident (-elect), and His Divine Effect upon the market, which has been a gloriously depressing one. And it reads thusly,
Oh well. Blame Bush. It’s always been an easy thing for the flaccid mind.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of my keenest weaknesses, has been a consistent failure to recognize my own genius now and then. I need to have others point it out. I’m working hard to improve in this particular area…but it’s a slow process.
Now that I take another gander at my own work, the brilliance is hard to deny. Like any other brilliant thing, it cloaks a subtle challenge to orthodoxy. The word “flaccid” has an orthodoxy about it, said orthodoxy being the singularity of a particular act to which the word may pertain. That act has nothing to do with the mind, or very little, and is much more concerned with a particular male appendage.
We do not like, in these enlightened modern times, to connect abstract, capable thinking with masculinity. This would imply that our females are inherently incapable of practical thinking. This is not only politically incorrect, but all of us who were raised by determined, capable mothers know better. Such a thought is therefore relegated to the dungeon reserved for axioms that cause grievous offence both to prevailing sensibilities and to common sense.
Which is right and just.
But our mistake is to retreat headlong from anything located in that general direction.
Because whether we want to admit it or not, there is more than a casual relationship between beneficial thinking, and masculinity. And a state of flaccidness is problematic to both. Thinking, life’s experiences teach us, is quite a waste of time and energy if one is not willing to retain one’s shape when one is challenged by softer tissues that rightfully ought yield. One must assume a certain rigidity. And once one assumes that certain rigidity, one must penetrate. If one is unready, unwilling or unable to do these things, the job is left undone — someone else has to step in and achieve the task as a proxy. So in the end, the flaccid thinker doesn’t think at all, he only displays the work of others; if the task is somehow fruitful, the product belongs to another lineage. It doesn’t matter whether polite company refuses to recognize it.
I point these things out not to indulge in unnecessary vulgarities, or to offend those easily offended. Rather, I point them out to give voice to that which has been, for awhile now, suppressed. The suppression has taken place to the point that damage has been done.
The year 2008 has emerged as sort of a capstone, an epochal event, to which many of the consecutive years gone by languish in our archives as prologue. Since — roughly — the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s, thinking has been associated with classically non-male characteristics, which might be summed up as “taking the bottom position.” Passivity prefered over activity; yielding in shape and form; acceptance; getting squished; and last but not least, elevating the importance of one’s own emotions (H/T: Rick).
Men across the nation are weeping tears of joy this week. Publicly and unabashedly. The election of Obama has validated and encouraged their right to publicly expose their sensitive inner selves to the world. Feelings rule.
Metrosexuals everywhere are experiencing a collective ‘shiver up their legs’, as they rush to inform one and all of the fascinating complexities and mysteries of their inner emotions.
Setting the example that the new man isn’t a man unless he has the ability to shed tears on cue, was CBS’ Harry Smith. At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, an emotional Harry Smith declared:”…I wept tears of joy last night.”
Over on ABC, News correspondent Steve Osunsami was reporting live from Morehouse college, and when word of Barack Obama’s victory came, “Steve found himself choking back tears”. He then rushed off to pen his brilliant editorial, A Reporter Reflects on His Own Reaction to the Election. Girly Man meets the me generation.
These are not isolated cases. One is hard pressed to search for the opposite. Where’s the big, tough, rowdy musclehead pullin’ for Obama, slamming his beer mug down on the bar and yelling “YEAAHHH!!!” upon learning of the electoral college triumph of the President-God? Anybody see something like that? Anybody hear a tale, apocryphal or otherwise, that comes even close? Not I. It’s always the “tears of joy” line, or something closely resembling it.
I do not believe an assault on manhood is the point, here. Indeed, I’m open to the possibility that there is no point. Like the nocturnal recreation with which I so crudely compare it here, thinking produces some sweat. It’s work. A lot of folks have lost their virility, or perhaps traded it in; they’re not up to the challenge. They don’t rise to the occasion, because they simply don’t want to. Accountability seems to have much to do with what intimidates them. To engage in this act, without the benefit of a proxy stand-in, involves someone else forming an appraisal of your performance or lack thereof. This is a frightening thing to some lads, because it’s one of the few activities in which they participate that is not a team effort. You bollux this, and you can’t blame it on a weak player. It’s all you, Jimbo.
Perhaps there is no drive. I’m sure any lady possessing some measure of experience, will agree that drive is important in a man, that some gentlemen have it and others do not. Drive is closely associated with confidence, and confidence comes with competence. In many cases, this instance of the electorate, or that one, would be losing his virginity in thinking like a real man, should he ever choose to do so — and regardless of natural ability, nobody has the measure of confidence that comes later, when one loses one’s virginity. If one does, then that one is not being confident, he is being cocky, and this has an oppositional effect.
There has been a virtual tidal wave of opposition and pejorative thinking against Americans prevailing, following-through, defending others, acting independently of garrulous authority figures, in a manner consistent with what was announced previously — doing other things generally consistent with classical definitions of rugged masculinity. Indeed, reading through the letters to Newsweek on the subject, you see the writers taking the initiative to make the thinking-to-masculinity link. Masculine words are sprinkled throughout, like pepper on a meat dish. Violence. Dominating. Domineering. Cowboy. Military.
Interesting side note: There are two reasons to hate a man. You can hate him for what he lacks, like a weary wife or mother endlessly picking up after him because he fails to appreciate the finer things…the whole “men can’t see dirt” thing. Or, you can hate him for what he has, the way a cuckold hates another fellow he’s just learned has been having relations with his wife, or perhaps that his wife simply desires for this to occur. These two camps of male-hatred take on two distinctly different flavors, since the former brand is saturated with exhaustion and the latter is saturated with envy. When I hear people talk about how bad America has been, I don’t hear much exhaustion. What seeps through is a lot more like envy. Food for thought; but that’s a bunny trail.
Back to the subject at hand — with all these years of toxic international talk about how much America needs to shape up its act, sprinkled with these zingers about how undesirable the essentials of maleness really are…we have, in this year of flaccid thinking, capitulated. We have yielded, and yielded in most unmanly fashion. It’s the “well, alright if you say so” election.
It’s the ultimate in flaccidness. A real man, after all, doesn’t do things just because “everybody” wants him to do them (nor does he refuse to do it either, because of such a thing). A real man acts independently of the prevailing viewpoint. And if ever a real man did become fixated on what “everybody around the world” is really thinking about something — which he would not — he would treat it as a thing to be measured, to be made into an objective observation, existing independently of the emotions of those in proximity. Which would mean, world opinion would be presented to him as a poll, run door to door, across billions of households on the planet, or else it wouldn’t be presented to him as anything that means anything to him at all. In other words, he would not rely on someone else to tell him what “we all” think.
So Rob’s right. Flaccid is precisely the right word. We are not thinking like women in the way we’ve conducted ourselves, in this country, in this year; such a statement would be needlessly demeaning to women, unforgivably so.
No, our national culture has managed to conduct itself like gelded men. Call it electile dysfunction. Men who cannot, or will not, do what men were built to do. Supposedly, this has made us much more popular in something called the “world community.” Time will tell. A lot of people, under the right set of circumstances, may pretend they find it appealing when a man wears a dress…but very few really feel that way. And sooner or later, a guy has to do something to justify his existence. The garbage needs to be carried out only so many times. There are only so many pickle jars that need to be opened. Women are perfectly capable of bringing home their own paychecks.
The bedroom beckons.
Oh and there’s one other thing about real men that isn’t mentioned in polite company. By the time we’ve graduated from high school…or very soon afterward…we’ve figured out you aren’t going to get large numbers of people to like you, and want to be associated with you, simply by being a “nice guy.” That quality, all by itself, is associated with impotence; impotence has never been a sign of prestige, anywhere.
If this is the first time that it is, then the iPresident will be remembered more fondly than His predecessor.
If the trend that has remained unbroken since the dawn of time, continues, then He will not be.
All in all, I wouldn’t be feeling good about myself as a man, if this was the year in which I was elected President.
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.