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Looking at the wonderful Audubon Society bird photo awards, I had a moment of introspection related to the discourse of "gender identity" and my current reading of Ethan Watters's Crazy Like Us.

The bird photographer writes "... a parent expressing love to its offspring..." and I had a conditioned response of thinking, well, but does a Sandhill Crane really experience love?

But experiencing love isn't the point, loving actions are what matter.

This connects to what Watters says in the book about the American view of psychological wellness and illness: that it's all about what's going on inside the individual. While in some other cultures it's more about what plays out interpersonally and socially. And individual responses, and how they are given meaning, vary enormously across cultures.

When Watters writes, "In the modern Western world, the idea of PTSD is that of a broken spring in a clockwork brain," he's noting one facet of our broader tendency to mechanize the person, a weirdly paradoxical result of our incessant push towards individualism. The clockwork brain, the Mr. Potato Head body with its interchangeable parts, the male brain in the female body, the brain as a computer, the wish to "upload" one's identity into a computer, the brain in a vat.

The current obsession with "gender identity" is just one mote in the whirlwind dust devil whipped up by our solipsistic spin on reality. We're about to disappear into our own navels.

Back in eighteen-and-whatever, Marx wrote, "All that is solid melts into air" in a prescient vision of capitalism. I will add, "All that is seen melts into feeling."

Looking at the wonderful [Audubon Society bird photo awards](https://www.audubon.org/news/the-2022-audubon-photography-awards-top-100), I had a moment of introspection related to the discourse of "gender identity" and my current reading of Ethan Watters's *Crazy Like Us*. The bird photographer writes "... a parent expressing love to its offspring..." and I had a conditioned response of thinking, well, but does a Sandhill Crane really experience love? But experiencing love isn't the point, loving actions are what matter. This connects to what Watters says in the book about the American view of psychological wellness and illness: that it's all about what's going on inside the individual. While in some other cultures it's more about what plays out interpersonally and socially. And individual responses, and *how they are given meaning*, vary enormously across cultures. When Watters writes, "In the modern Western world, the idea of PTSD is that of a broken spring in a clockwork brain," he's noting one facet of our broader tendency to mechanize the person, a weirdly paradoxical result of our incessant push towards individualism. The clockwork brain, the Mr. Potato Head body with its interchangeable parts, the male brain in the female body, the brain as a computer, the wish to "upload" one's identity into a computer, the brain in a vat. The current obsession with "gender identity" is just one mote in the whirlwind dust devil whipped up by our solipsistic spin on reality. We're about to disappear into our own navels. Back in eighteen-and-whatever, Marx wrote, "All that is solid melts into air" in a prescient vision of capitalism. I will add, "All that is seen melts into feeling."

22 comments

I forget where I read it - it may have been Cal Newport - but there is a tendency to describe people’s psychology as whatever new technology is around at the time. This is where clockwork imagery comes from. The expression “going off the rails” is from trains, then recently it became analogies with computers. The technology of “the internet of things”, “the cloud” and so on has more to answer for than we realise.

Which is juxtaposed with describing external things as waffly ephemeral concepts. Manifesting rather than fucking working bugs the hell out of me.

I like Diane’s quote (paraphrased) in BoJack Horseman: “I don’t really believe in ‘deep down’. I think all you are, are the things you do.”

I think everyone's obsession with ourselves and me me me culture is tearing apart the fabric of our social community. The writing is on the walls with well gestures at everything. I think the nuclear family is toxic. I think us all living in our little private boxes is toxic. I think humanity is meant to live in collectives, and part of the reason that TIM's are what they are is because they've spent too much time watching anime and pornography alone, and not enough time around actual women or other humans that they can delude themselves into thinking they can be women just because they say they are. I want the whole trans thing to go back to being something that is viewed as being fuckin weird, socially tolerable only in extreme cases, and wholly unacceptable to groom people into via some idea of an "inner identity". It's not normal for us to just smile and nod at people who appear to have personality disorders distorting their ability to live in reality.

I'll have to check out that book after i'm done my current one!

Pretty much all expressions of this obsession with inner thoughts and feelings annoy me to no end.

The "Oh, but you see, that's not his TRUE self" when talking about an abusive man. The gender navel-gazing. The claim that someone who looks like a man, smells like a man, walks like a man and talks like a man can be secretly a woman "inside".

And I am a very individualistic person who abhors going along with what everyone else thinks and says just because everyone does.

I like having my own thoughts and dreams and living in my own dreamworld ... but the idea that other people should go along with certain people's inner dreamworlds is just crazy.

If I recall correctly, in Japan, it is illegal for a man who has children to trans himself. (I suppose for women too, but I don't know of a single case where a hetero woman with children transed herself) That's a step in the right direction. But of course, Japan is a more community oriented country.

Yeah, if someone is secretly a nice person in their own mind, that doesn't help me, because I don't live in their mind. Same with TIMs, maybe the guy thinks of himself as an attractive woman, but if that's not what I'm picking up through my 5 senses, it's not going to do anything for me.

[–] sohh 11 points

Super long quote ahead, but there was a post a couple months ago with a longform piece that talked about this concept.

Drawing on the work of philosopher Philip Rieff, author of The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Trueman suggests that today’s Western worldview is perhaps unique in human history. To help explain why and how, he draws on Rieff’s simplistic but thought-provoking schema for understanding the development of the Western self through a progression of human ‘types.’

The first type Rieff calls Political Man. Idealised by the likes of Plato and Aristotle, Political Man finds his identity in public life, as he engages in civic life, debates the meaning of life with others and generally discovers his self-expression in some form of public service. Later, as the Middle Ages dawn, Political Man is superseded by type two: Religious Man. Religious Man finds his meaning in the public religious life: the feasts and fasts, mass and liturgy, pilgrimage and procession which give shape to the year and to existence.

As modernity beckons, Religious Man gives way to type three: Economic Man, for whom the key to life’s meaning is found in trade, production and profit. Rieff, like Marx before him, understood that the revolutionary nature of capitalism meant that Economic Man could only ever be a temporary phenomenon: in the end, he would undermine the foundations of his own prosperity.

So it proved - and when that happened, Economic Man gave way to the type we now live amongst and embody: Psychological Man. Crucially, Psychological Man is qualitatively different to his ancestors. Unlike them, he finds meaning and identity not so much in outward-directed activity as in ‘the inward quest for personal psychological happiness’. His - our - reality is unmoored, unshared and - crucially - internal. This has implications for the culture which we see unfurling around us today:

In the worlds of political, religious and economic man, commitment was outwardly directed to those communal beliefs, practices and institutions that were bigger than the individual and in which the individual, to the degree that he or she conformed to or cooperated with them, found meaning. The ancient Athenian was committed to the assembly, the medieval Christian to his church, and the twentieth-century factory worker to his trade union and working man’s club. All of them found their purpose and wellbeing by being committed to something outside themselves.

In the world of Psychological Man, however, the commitment is first and foremost to the self and is inwardly directed. Thus, the order is reversed. Outward institutions become in effect the servants of the individual and her sense of inner wellbeing.

Here’s the post. It’s about the transhumanism connection with transgenderism:

https://ovarit.com/o/GenderCritical/126690/long-form-essay-on-transgenderism-and-transhumanism-and-the-war-on-nature-and-th

There's a great book tracing the history of the idea that people have an 'inner personality' that is concealed, or that we conceal, from others:

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/54156/the-fall-of-public-man-by-richard-sennett/9780141007571

This idea sort of got started about 2014 with the advancement of ‘Neuroessentialism’, which asserts that all human behavior emanates from brain activity. Sort of like the cerebral version of navel gazing. As such it downplays the idea that we all are part of a social group and pretty much serves to justify narcissism, in my opinion. After all, anything that comes from ‘inside’ must be genuine, right?

The trouble with this simplistic reductionist thinking is that throughout history society has repeated the mistake. Witches were burned because it was thought the testimony of children was perfectly innocent, they were incapable of lying. Today we know that children may not willfully lie but they do have quite an active imagination and are very suggestible.

History has many examples of simplistic groupthink in which atrocities were committed collectively with the willing approval of otherwise rational individuals.

It's ego run rampant. This is what is meant by the illusion of separation: the notion that there is a self, separate from the embodied self, separate from the self instantiated by culture and society, separate from your actions and separate from your behaviours, and separate from your animal instincts and your sexual feelings and your emotions, and separate from the furniture you're sitting on and the words you're reading and the ways in which your body reacts to your surroundings and to the people around you, some pure disembodied observer in a bubble that is an unchanging and permanent essence of you (and somehow this essence tells your body what to do like a builder at the controls of a large crane!) It is a very persistent illusion, and it's the root of all suffering, and our culture believes in it more and harder and more religiously than any culture has ever believed in it before.

(I believe, because I've had glimpses of it, that it is genuinely possible to experience life as that observer and that essence that transcends the embodied self, but only at the price of accepting that it's an essence of everything and everyone, not just an essence of you, whatever "you" might be. But even from a pure materialist perspective this delusion of the separate self is making us all miserable.)

Yeah!

And to your last point, I've had that experience too. That "naked being" process is completely impersonal and belongs equally to everything.

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