Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Do My Best Thinking...

It seems all of my writing-desire is being siphoned off by the message boards at Just Us Boys. I obsessively check on the threads I've written on, obsessively check for new threads, getting wrapped up in various opinions and perspectives and experiences. It's a lot of fun... but I feel like I'm neglecting you all here at Mannersism. So it occurs to me that I'd like to share some of my JUB writing with you; but you don't want to join the message board, do you?

So instead I will simply reproduce the board topic and my little messages; I've removed any references to other JUB members... I mean, there's a line between "borrowing" and "plagiarizing," a line between sharing a conversation and breaking a confidence.

And here we go...


August 1st, 2005, 04:01 PM #34
Thread: Do you believe in God?
(This started off in regard to a recent poll in which Americans overwhelmingly professed a no doubt whatever in the existence of God while Western Europeans were infinitely more ambivalent about the existence of God).

Regarding the initial poll, I think it's more a matter of cultural attitudes; Western Europeans like to doubt themselves, they wore themselves out on theistic wars centuries ago, and I think they see religion as a political construct more than a spiritual construct; but Americans consider doubt a weakness, and many see the separation of Church and State as making the Church inviolably sacred.

I liked what (another gentleman) said, that gibes closely to my belief: I believe that God is the central organizing principle that set the whole thing in motion, a universal intelligence or energy that we can "tap into" to guide our actions in accordance with universal form. I think of God as being infinitely good, but not necessarily humanly good.

And I can't imagine a God who requires apologies and praise, nor a God who meddles in the actions and events of the world. I think that's an anthropomorphic concept, no more intellectually evolved than the polytheist mythologies of the ancient world that saw wilful gods in the wind and the waves. People require apologies and praise, people like to meddle in actions and events, and we have projected that onto God.

I can't think of God as "some guy," but I can understand why people would come to see God that way... unable to conceive of a higher plane than their own consciousness, they project their limitations on things that cannot be limited. It's poor philosophy is all.

Regarding the Big Bang versus Creation, I don't consider them mutually exclusive, nor do I consider Science and the existence of God mutually exclusive... I think we come to understand Creation (the physical universe) through Science and can come to understand how God works through this study.

I studied Sagan's theories (or those of them that were boiled down to a National Geographic intelligence), and I understand the concept of the Big Bang to be cyclical; that the universe expands so far that it starts folding in on itself, and in the act of expanding, also begins to contract... expanding inward. The concept of infinity is different from a being-and-nothingness paradigm... the time before the Big Bang was not "nothing," it was an infinite density of matter that reached critical mass and started expanding outward again. On the other hand, it is our limited three-dimensional minds that consider matter and the lack of matter as the only two possibilities; if dimensions are also infinite, then there are sure to be other things going on of which we cannot possibly conceive. But that's neither here nor there, it's just something that (another gentleman) said got me thinking about this.

As to the afterlife, I have a feeling that the soul goes on after the body dies, because human will is that strong. But I don't have any definite beliefs as to what happens, I'm just interested in seeing what happens... my curiosity is piqued. Not that I'm in a hurry to find out, mind you. And if nothing happens, I guess I'll never know. I'd like to believe that everything will be known in the afterlife... the meaning of it all. But that's just my desire.

Oh, I could go on and on... I've thought about God a lot because of the scars left on me by Religion. I am even considering starting a thread about reconciling homosexuality with Christianity. And I still struggle with religious thought, thinking about why I believe what I do believe, thinking about why other people believe as they do, and considering where I might be wrong in my beliefs and where I might share enlightenment with others.

Religion does seem to bring out the worst in some people... but then, so does football. It also brings out the best in some people. If I ever get it all figured out, I'll let you know.


August 1st, 2005, 11:58 PM #39
Thread: What exactly IS "straight acting"?
(I kind of got my panties in a wad because a lot of people were taking this opportunity to be condescending and insulting about effeminate gays... which you know I couldn't let go unchallenged)

I've always found the term "straight-acting" rather offensive: it implies that straights are somehow better than gays. I mean, it's okay if you prefer masculine men... even in the gay ghetto, I know all sorts of guys who'd pass for straight under any circumstances (if they weren't talking about rimming all the time). You don't have to lisp or overinflect your speech or swish your hips, you don't have to wear Prada, you don't have to call hair-gel "product" or even use it if you don't want to. But that doesn't make you any better or worse than anyone else.

I myself pass for straight more often than I like, women hit on me and straight guys start talking about pussy as if there weren't a lady present... mostly because I tend to dress plainly and move unobtrusively when I'm not performing. Walking down the street in my Gap chinos and tee, my hands in my pockets, one Airwalked foot in front of the other, I'm just a big dull guy, same as anyone else.

Masculine men are a perfectly valid preference. It doesn't require a defense, you don't have to come up with all sorts of arguments about how effeminate gay men make everyone look bad, or wonder aloud "why do they act like women if they're trying to attract men who like men," and so on and so forth. I like men with a touch of femininity, myself, but I'm not averse to a bit of butch, either. It's something you can like or not like, as your nature dictates.

But when you dress it up in the phrase "straight-acting," you set up heterosexuality as the preferable paradigm, you set up heterosexuality as the only correct way to be. And that's just plain homophobic.

My two cents, a bit off-topic. Sorry if I flamed.


August 12th, 2005, 10:06 PM #33
Thread: What a fucking load of Bullshit

(This thread was posted in response to someone coming across this crazy anti-gay "childcare" website that endorses Joseph Nicolosi's recently published book Preventing Homosexuality: A Parent’s Guide, which the psychiatric community has roundly condemned but which nevertheless got published and is selling briksly)__________________________________________________________

Echoing what several people have already said, the "studies" Nicolosi is espousing have made the medieval mistake of taking symptoms for causes. To say that these early indicators of homosexuality are the causes of homosexuality is the same as saying that weight-gain, mood-swings, food-cravings, and frequent urination cause pregnancy.

I mean, I had a distant father and an overbearing mother and stepmother as well as an abusive stepfather. Nicolosi's family model describes mine fairly closely. But it also describes a lot of people's families. Fathers are typically distant and mothers are typically overbearing, particularly in America, at least by Freudian standards. I know absolutely mountains of people who were raised by distant fathers and overbearing mothers who are all straight as boards.

Gay children typically become attached to female relatives and supposedly female behavior because we are presented with a solely heterosexual paradigm from birth on; and we want to be the one who mates with the Daddy, so we become the Mommy. We are given no examples of close and affectionate adult male relationships (I mean, how many people ever saw their fathers hug or display any kind of affection for another man? I never did... American men are typically not allowed to be affectionate with each other), so we will frequently try to fit ourselves into the mommy-daddy paradigm by becoming what we perceive as feminine.

Thus is born the queen. But while all queens are homosexuals, not all homosexuals are queens.

The thing is, Nicolosi and his ilk are deeply threatened by homosexuality, and there's usually an anal-invasion phobia at the root of it. So they allow their fears to override their scientific training, and abuse their doctorates by broadcasting their specious "findings" to others like themselves. You can believe almost anything if you really want to believe it.

I hope someday there's a cure for such people. Their sickness infects the world.


August 16th, 2005, 10:52 AM #24
Thread: What Makes People Gay?
(This thread was started off in response to the Boston Globe Article that you'll want to read if you haven't already)__________________________________________________________

It's long been my opinion that degrees of sexuality are inborn and the manifestations of that sexuality are a complex of nature and nurture; and science will one day identify those markers, but not for some time yet... we're focusing on something as large and clumsy as the hypothalamus because we simply haven't the technology to look at smaller physical manifestations; just as Kinsey had to use clumsy and inaccurate volunteer testimony for his research because the subject was so taboo that you couldn't get a really decent and diverse sample, yet the study of human sexuality could not have proceeded without those flawed and partial studies. The findings published in the Globe are a step, and what the general populace makes of scientific findings is always unpredictable... will it enlighten as Einstein's dense theories, or will it cause recidivist backlash like Galileo's rather simple proposals?

What I find interesting in this thread and in other discussions of the "gay gene," is that people frequently posit the problem of future eugenics programs in which parents will abort a predisposed-to-be-gay fetus. It would certainly present a bit of a conundrum to the Right, wouldn't it, if an anti-abortion/anti-gay person were suddenly confronted with the choice of either having an abortion or bringing a gay person into the world. Makes ya think, no?


August 16th, 2005, 11:09 PM #8
Thread: Are heterosexuals just self-centered?
(The original poster wondered if straights' inability to comprehend and empathize with gays was a form of self-centeredness, un unwillingness and inability to see beyond their own desires and experiences)

What an interesting question! I have often considered several of those points, and have a few ideas.

The "Defense of Marriage" argument is interesting to me because nobody has ever actually argued it. They just say that gay marriage threatens the institution of marriage, and the dumbasses of the world fall right in line believing their family structure is being threatened. Nobody has ever explained how, exactly, marriage is threatened by same-sex marriage. Nor do they bother to aim their pudgy little fingers at any of the real threats to traditional marriage, such as easy divorce and serial-marrying celebrities.

Demagogues always use threats to children and spouses as a way to demonize another group. "They" (in this case "The Gays") are going to take your children and your wife... despite the rather obvious reality that we don't want your children or your wife. And the plebes feel threatened and they react to the threat.

But really, no thinking person could possibly believe this rhetoric. And the only straights I've met who do believe it are the people who indulge in blind faith... who as a rule don't think about the thing once the name of God is invoked.

And straights do turn a blind eye when it's their own sexuality in question: as (another gentleman) pointed out, St. Paul the Apostle was entirely against sex, period. He wrote that it was better to get married and screw your wife if you couldn't control yourself at all, but the ideal is complete chastity (I just came across that somewhere when I was looking for something else, but I can't remember where). You never hear about that from straight folks, do you?

The Old and New Testaments go on for page after page condemning adultery and fornication and sex-for-pleasure, compared to maybe three or four mentions of homosexuality, but it's those tired old anti-gay scriptures that get quoted all the time. When Pope Freakynut the Whateverth issued his statement condemning all extramarital sex, as well as marital sex that was not intended to culminate in children, all anybody parroted and published and got behind was his rather fleeting condemnation of gay marriage.

Sexuality is a very strong urge, and so people who have never had to think about their sexuality (because it's the norm, so what's to think about) get very narrow views of sexuality; they have no empathy because they were never shaken from their beliefs. We homosexuals and bisexuals and transgendereds have had to think about our sexuality at great length, so we can comprehend and sympathise with other sexualities because we have considered it. Just as people who have gay children have had to think about it, and frequently come to a more empathetic view than people without gay children.

And then of course there is the Country Club Factor: it's so much easier to think yourself better-than someone else than to actually do the work and try to be a better person. And it's always easiest to take a rather small group of people for this exercise, a group of people who are different from you in one major area. A racial minority, a religious minority, a sexual minority. There's always something.

The "Ick Factor" as so many people call it... it's not the gay sex, it's the butt-sex that gets them. Most of the straight men who've ever asked me about gay sex have focused solely on anal sex as being Ick, and seldom ever consider any other form as being something we'd do (cocksucking is more a power issue, and they can't imagine giving up dominance in this manner). And I have a theory about that: consider the defensive posture that a man would take if he didn't have any weapons.

Most animals defend themselves from more powerful enemies by curling up in a ball, and humans do this too. Such a posture defends your head, your throat, most of the easiest accesses to your heart and entrails, your major arteries, and your genitals... but it exposes your asshole. That is sufficient to inspire a deep animal phobia in most people. And I think that phobia is the chief cause of the Gay Ick Factor in straight men.

Well, these are just some of my many thoughts on this topic. Thanks again for bringing it up.


August 17th, 2005, 10:04 AM #37
Thread: What Makes People Gay?
(This second post in this thread responds to another post, in which a member posited that his sexuality was caused by having been raised by women, bonding perhaps too strongly to his mother and grandmother, and having no male role models, as per Nicolosi's "studies"... but I omit the quote since it's not my writing).

While I don't have any scientific proof to back this up, and am not aware of any studies having been made, it seems to me that straight little boys grow up in such environments, too. But instead of submitting to female interests, they rebel and seek out neighborhood males.

From the ages of three to five, I lived in an apartment building near a Navy base that was filled with Navy wives and single mothers. It was perfectly normal to not have a Daddy around, there were maybe three or four men who actually lived in the building for more than a week or two at a time. And there were lots of little boys around to socialize with... I doubt seriously if they all turned out gay. Personally, I only played with my sister and the other little girls.

Lots of straight boys were raised by their mothers and grandmothers. The thing is, homosexuality is still considered an anomaly, so studies like this are still focused on "what makes you gay" rather than "how is sexual orientation created"... like I said, I don't know of any studies showing how heterosexual men brought up in "gay-making" circumstances turned out straight. But from my own anecdotal evidence, I'll bet you find that while the female environment has an affect on heterosexual children (everything that happens in childhood has some affect), it does not turn them gay.


August 18th, 2005, 07:19 PM
Thread: Are These the Best of Times, or the Worst of Times?

I guess I take a wider view than my parents' and grandparents' generations: they had some things better, and they lacked other things that I appreciate. But for everything we gain we lose something else.

I think the thing is that we're in the midst of the Information Revolution, a huge cultural shift comparable to the Industrial Revolution. Education suffers because we have so many things to distract our minds that didn't exist twenty years ago, like video-games and DVDs and hundreds of channels of television. Family relationships have changed because we no longer spend huge amounts of time together with nothing to do... most parent work outside the home, and for longer hours.

But the Information Age also overloads us. Things seem worse in some ways because we hear about all these things that we didn't used to hear about when there were only newspapers and radios and they weren't in competition with each other to out-bad-news each other.

And then, as we know more and more about each other, we are confronted with information that we aren't ready to handle... before WWII, most people were only exposed to their neighbors and families, not to foreign cultures and gays and Jews and any number of people otherwise unlike themselves; and not every intellect is capable of handling that knowledge, so they react... they are reactionaries.

But I take an historical view: the rise of the Right today is so similar to the rise of Savonarola in Renaissance Florence... a time of unprecedented freedom and learning and change; the common people got scared of so much change, and were ripe for a demagogue. The similarities are staggering.

But to answer the original question: I wish we still had craftsmanship in common things the way they had two generations ago (I live in a house built in the 20s that would cost millions to build today, with hand-laid hardwood floors and hand-laid miniature tiles and lath-and-plaster walls and custom-made mullioned windows... things you just can't get anymore); on the other hand, I wouldn't want to have to live without computers, I never would have become a writer if I had to rely on pencils or typewriters, if I couldn't look up information at the touch of a search-engine-button, if I couldn't communicate with people all over the world without having to get out of my armchair.

It's all give and take. I don't think any one time is better than another, it's just different.



And that's just the longest posts that I've written this month; I actually started on this board when I was in Texas, and I've made 132 posts so far (an average of 4.43 a day). It takes up so much of my time that I feel kind of... fulfilled. I suspect I'll have to get bored with it before I can get any work done on my other writing projects.

Maybe next time I'll write something just for you!

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