This Ain’t Your Race War, Jackoffs

For people new to the subject of White Supremacist Bullshit, there’s this concept that’s been around for a while: The Coming Race War, when all races must fight to the death for who has the right to rule. White elves vs. other shades of orcs and goblins for control of Middle Earff. Sometimes you’ll see it rendered as RaHoWa, for Racial Holy War. Anyhow, whenever racist oppression sparks a riot, the nazis and klan and sympathetic republicans mount up their trusty steeds to do battle. Like this asshole over here.

You know who burned that police station? Mostly white people. I’m sure you’ve seen the photographs. Who went around in masks and walkie-talkies causing surreptitious property damage? Your white pals in the five o, trying to manufacture excuses to kill innocent people. Let’s say that with the help of the nazi in chief, you manage to make this into a full blown war. It won’t be you brave kkknights against the sub-people. It’ll mostly be white people that are going to kill you.

It isn’t a race war, just because it started with racism. It’s four years of nazi rule and empowerment pushing good people to form a resistance. When the cops are involved, that resistance can’t stay passive because the cops won’t let it. You push, you get pushback. Nobody is going to like how this goes, as much as you racist death fetishists might get a few kicks along the way. It’s going to be bad for everybody. It already is.

I’m gonna do my best to stay out of it. Hopefully this will be my last post on the subject. It’s too depressing. And hopefully it blows over with a minimal amount of death. I don’t have a lot of hope left at this point.

—I’m not moderating comments on this so I’m not allowing comments.—

The Myth of Quarantine Loneliness

Content Warning: Bleak world views

It seems to me you lived your life like a can that certain points of view in life are underrepresented – usually thoughts on the darker tip.  While these can take a dim view of humanity, I won’t call them misanthropic.  True misanthropes are not functioning within reality or reason, or from a position of true understanding.  I believe you can look at people with a realistic, sometimes grim view, and not be one of those “people are scum / normies die” type of bastids.

To take a look at the less romantic side of human nature, I turn to the darkness itself – The Beast from Seattle.  This is less interview than discussion, as I have similar views.  Today we’ll be talking about the Quarantine Loneliness – the idea that people will be in social need, reach out to each other, have heartfelt if remote connections through electronic means.  Allow us to call bullshit on that.  Proceeding thus…



GAS:  Welcome back to the soundstage at Big Satan Studios.  How’s life been treating you?

drawing of the Beast from Seattle, a blue devil



BfS:  Not bad, though I’ve had to take a break from social interactions, for reasons I’m sure we’re about to discuss.

GAS:  Haha, that we are.  So.  There are a million articles about how people are going to be lonely in quarantine, how we should reach out to isolated friends, offer each other support.  How’s that been going for you?

BfS:  I totally bought into that hype, was all psyched up to be supportive to my friends but…  Where are they now?  I kept having to check in on them to make sure they weren’t dead every couple weeks, and they seemed annoyed with even that much interaction.

GAS:  Annoyed?  Give us an example of one of these interactions.  It’s so far from what we’ve expected, it might not be believable.  As close to verbatim as you can get without doxxing a friend.

BfS:  Well, I said hi to a friend a couple times on Discord, and they didn’t respond, so after several days I said “Are you okay?” and they said “Yeah, I’m busy and feel crappy.”  Or something to that effect.  I said “Oh, sorry” and they never wrote back…

GAS:  So lonely!  Such need, crying out to be fulfilled.  As we’ve discussed previously, I have much lower social needs than you, so there are not many places where I’m social.  But in those places?  Activity has been comparable to usual – or considerably reduced.  People aren’t talking, aren’t reaching out to each other.  Or is it just us getting whiffed on?

BfS:  Not sure, a lot of our social interactions are through hobbies/creative pursuits and seems like people aren’t engaging much in those either.  It’s strange to me though that the main mood that seems to be prevalent in people these days is surliness.  We’re mostly not friends with people with children so it’s not them just being annoyed with kids being in their hair all day either.

GAS:  I do believe it is possible that this increased social need among the quarantined is real, but that it is restricted wholly to the very closest friends and family.  That said, I have family that are not reaching out to me any more than usual – if at all.  And I have people who have personally told me I’m their best friend or one of their top two, and not any especial contact from them.

BfS:  Well, if they seem annoyed with people reaching out to them, it makes sense they wouldn’t do it either.  The strange part is, some of these people have explicitly said they were lonely or complained about their friends ignoring them.

GAS:  I remember these people.  You have to admit, they are a bit odd as people go, and may be outliers.  Like guy number one, you know exactly why he’s like that.

BfS:  Yeah he was always that way, even twenty years ago.  Complain that no one cares about him, and ignore people saying ‘I care about you!’ because they aren’t glamorous enough.

GAS:  He is so incredibly twisted.  Narcissistic or histrionic?  If we’re allowing ourselves that ableist armchair funtime.  I say histrionic, because it’s more associated with dramatic self pity, right?

BfS:  Heh, I don’t quite remember the difference.

GAS:  Yeah, it’s been since high school for me, so better to leave that to the experts he’ll never see.  As for guy number two, he’s harder to peg but I think he’s got a low key resentment about a situation that’s been going on, oh, about a half year now, and feels like passive aggression might get him what he wants?  And that he can somehow play it both ways and act like we’re his best friends while doing that?  People are vexing.

BfS:  Yes they are.

GAS:  But assuming this is more than just a couple of goofballs being goofy, that this is a thing a regular person might do, what does it mean to complain about being lonely, and subsequently be a mind-melting slughead when socially engaged by somebody?

BfS:  Yeah, leaves me wondering what they would even want out of someone.  You’d think– someone’s lonely, they want someone to talk to and someone to check in on them.  But no.  Why not?  All the articles predicted it, and it made sense at the time…  Being isolated would make people lonely.  So why do I hear less from people now than I did before?

GAS:  It’s counterintuitive.  But I’m better than you at imagining how others feel, my perspective not constrained by depression-colored lenses.  Jim Everyman is stressed, a little depressed, so he turns to TV, video games, etc. Maybe he’s one of the people who feel compelled to look at the news, or the social media version, even knowing it will bum him out – contributing to the feeling he must recover his okayness with deeper dives into passive media.  Vegging out.  So when someone makes a social move at them, they don’t have the energy, phone it in.

BfS:  Wild that as much as people bitch about how busy they are at their jobs, it actually gives them more mental space to be capable of holding a conversation compared to being home all day.

GAS:  We’re not just talking about active rebuffs here.  We’re talking about zombie conversations.  People shuffling through with a token “uh-huh” regardless of what you say or do.

BfS:  I did eventually get five words in with the rebuffer above, and complained about how everyone’s so absent, and he actually agreed with me.  Although that might have been the token ‘uh-huh’ as you say.  Mostly it’s just complete absence, though you can occasionally roust someone for a feeble exchange that feels like talking to a poorly calibrated chat-bot.

GAS:  There was that NPC meme some internet nightmare people tried to boost for a while, suggesting their political opposites were mindlessly parroting their party line and unable to have genuine interaction with their thoughts, akin to NPCs in video games with limited AI and scripts.  More right wing projection, but the idea that people often phone in their conversations?  Spot on.

BfS:  I think most video game NPCs would be more lively and vibrant.  Everyone seems more like people woken from a deep sleep, mumbling into their drool-soaked pillows.

GAS:  Sleeping, dreaming.  You’ve mentioned to me before that conversations in dreams – especially those on phones – have a weird quality because you speak and expect a response, but your brain doesn’t realize it has to create that response, and what comes back is deflections and nonsense.  Let’s roleplay that for a moment, by way of example.  *your phone rings*

BfS:  Haha, we’re doing this?  Okay.  “Hello?”

GAS:  “…”

BfS:  “….Hello?”

GAS:  “Whut.”

BfS:  “Hello, who is this?”

GAS:  “…It’s Christopher.”

BfS:  “Hey, Chris. What’s up?”

GAS:  “… … … …”

BfS:  “Are you still there?”

GAS:  “Yeah.”

BfS:  Haha, so realistic.

GAS:  So when people are responding to social interaction with non-committal grunts, or the banal pleasantry equivalent, you tend to call them “dream people.”  Sounds more flattering than NPC.

BfS:  Yeah, not quite ‘Dream Lovers’ or ‘Dream Babies’ though.

GAS:  So what does this look like in real life?  You had that example before, “are you OK?” three weeks later “Nuh.”  “wanna talk about it?”  “…”  That one was kind of extreme.  What’s another way this goes down?

BfS:  Besides just giant gaps in conversations that feel like “… … …” when you’re waiting on a response…  Sometimes it’s just drastic subject changes, talking over people, ignoring questions, on and on.  I’d chalk that up to bad reading comprehension for internet communications but it happens in real life too.

GAS:  Real life?  I’ve spoken to my brother and father in brief recently.  Didn’t notice that happening.  What happened with you?

BfS:  Maybe that’s just the usual for me!  I get talked over a lot in verbal conversations.

GAS:  My brother is a good case in point.  On the internet he doesn’t say much, what he says is thoughtless or jokey and always brief, and he has horrible reading comprehension and empathy.  On the phone he was more like one might expect for a normal human being – not so impaired.  This suggests maybe the real culprit here is internet communication.  I’ve long felt that people treat it differently from in-person interaction, more of a light touch, like it’s all disposable and meaningless.

BfS:  But now it’s all a lot of us have, so why be even more light with it now?

GAS:  Good question.  To that all I can say – either quarantine loneliness is a total myth, or 99% of the people we know regard somebody else as their social all.  They have somebody else in their life, maybe in meatspace, that they rely on utterly for all social needs.

BfS:  But why would that social need be more diverse when they’re busy with their usual routines?

GAS:  To my original theory – the stress and isolation actually makes them less sociable in the broad sense, with most of the people they know.  If they do have a social need, they feel it’s easier to focus it on whatever person happens to be their number one.

BfS:  So the need for Netflix/TV/Video games is actually greater than social need?

GAS:  Pretty much.  As we’ve previously discussed, I – the cat privileged with self esteem and the ability to tolerate TV and passive media – have less need for social interaction than you.  Passive media is my go-to way of relieving stress and setting my mind free.  We can be in the same room doing nothing, not talking with each other, and I will feel socially fulfilled by being physically around you.  Easy for me to imagine quarantine pushing that a little farther.

BfS:  If that’s the case for so many people, wonder why none of these people writing articles predicted it?  TOP TEN WAYS YOUR FRIENDS WILL BE SURLY DICKS AND ONE WEIRD TRICK TO IGNORE THEM

GAS:  People writing the articles and thinkpieces are in concern mode – looking for problems to solve, people to help.  They imagined a need that perhaps is vastly bigger in imagination than in reality.  Because they were looking for problems – not because they actually observed reality.

BfS:  Well, it made sense.  Why would being more alone not make people lonelier?  It’s hella weird, man.  Is there anything that would make people actually be lonely?

GAS:  I think even under normal circumstances, popular culture from books to TV have created a very distorted view of how humans behave, what they need to feel fulfilled, how they should or would interact with each other.

Reality is that we have our instincts, we have our acculturation and our psychological influences, and we act on that.  Result: Most people are more self-interested, shallow, thoughtless, and banal than any story or film ever created would lead you to believe.

We’re zombie-walking through life.  The people with the most dramatically interesting lives are usually hell people contriving conflict for its own sake.  The rest of us are up our own asses and only interested in each other’s feelings insofar as it props up our lives as the centers of our respective universes.

BfS:  Heh, that’s bleak.  Reminds me of how I’ve had to – in writing fiction – change characters based on real life people to be more kind and thoughtful because they seemed too cruel and one-dimensional to be believable.

GAS:  In narrative art, all people need is love and friendship.  In real life, once we’ve achieved a bare level of feeling like we have the right to continue existing, we check out.  The reason I have lower social needs than you – I have self esteem, so I don’t need to improve it by checking in with others to verify that I am, in fact, tolerable.

What do we need then, if not actual friendships with any depth or meaning?  We need a small stable of regulars to say, “sup” now and then, when we are checking to see if we are OK.  Friends as dipsticks to gauge your need for an oil change, not friends as people we genuinely care about and who care about us.  If somebody says they care in even the phoniest way, that’s enough of an illusion to make us feel socially adequate and keep rollin’.

BfS:  It’s weird, man.

GAS:  Now for the promised non-misanthropy.  As I said, I have more ability to intuit how other people are feeling and relate.  It’s easy to see this and think, man, people are meaningless cardboard cutouts, nobody cares about nobody so what’s the point?  Kill em all and let gawd sort em out.  That is a mistake.

We’re all the center of our own lives because telepathy doesn’t fucking exist.  The level of intuition and empathy that happens in stories is also a myth.  Some people might be sharper than others in this respect, but for most of us all we can do is build on instincts and illusions.

Nobody is doing this out of malice.  We just genuinely imagine that our zombie-talking ‘friendships’ are deeper and more emotionally connected than they are.  We believe we care about each other, and that kind of makes it true?  We just don’t do that in the heartfelt or meaningful ways depicted in media and fiction.

Everybody is the center of a universe, in which their own thoughts and feelings are more important and profound than anything around them.  Self esteem is, in a way, the construction of imaginary friends to say we’re acceptable.  We then transfer the voice of our self esteem onto others ventriloquism style, and imagine we’re as loved as we feel we should be.

And if you don’t feel love for yourself, you’re assed out buddy.

BfS:  Oye hoye what a dialogue…

Guess it’s all a bit disappointing, because that was going to be the bright side of an incredibly bleak situation.  Hey, at least your pals will be around to hang out with.

GAS:  The crux of the issue.  This was a big disappointment for you, specifically.  I’m sorry, man.  At least you have GREAT AMERICAN SATAN.

BfS:  Thanks, man.  Guess my friends weren’t reading the same articles I was.  That whole time I was getting psyched up to help people, and I was the one who needed help all along…

GAS:  And with that, another uncommon viewpoint has been published, hopefully to find purchase in the dark soil of the internet, to be found by those wondering – why does nobody feel the way I feel?  Guess what, ye miserable of the earth?  You are not alone.  Except insofar as we all are.  You know TF I’m talkin’ about.

Is Coughing on People Assault?

Content Warning: post and comments have a lot of violence in ’em.

Says Johnson Catman over in Mano’s comments:

I would think that, at this time, if someone purposefully coughs or spits on you, that should be considered assault. Also, the one coughed or spat upon should be able to respond in self-defense.

I don’t have a strong opinion on that right now, even though I can easily imagine myself responding to these intentional coughing or spitting incidents by committing unequivocal assault. I have enough restraint that I never have assaulted a person, but I’ve felt the urge so strongly it burned. (I’ve wanted to pick up an old man and embed him in a plate glass display, back in my Walmart days.) I have heard in the past that spitting on somebody is already legally considered to be assault – coughing would surely not be covered by those laws, even if that’s true.

Any legal experts know the haps on this? I think our nation’s retail workers deserve to know. And deserve to wear brass knuckles, depending on the answer.

British Hypocrisy on Trump

A British writer has fired off a pleasingly constructed anti-trump diatribe to help british liberal types congratulate themselves on their taste and discernment.  Enjoy it here, if you’re interested and can stomach the ableism and fatphobia.  The main thrust of the article: British people vaunt the virtues of politesse, wit, and sense, which he is an active affront to on every level.  I think this brit forgot who the fuck the British are.

At one point in my construction of this article, I was going to say the British invented reality TV, but that isn’t true.  A little research turned up that MTV’s Real World preceded Big Brother, which was a Dutch creation in the first place.  But British people do gobble it up, same as the public at large in vast tracts of the world, colonized and otherwise.  Why do British people like watching humans at their most acrimonious, witless, undignified, and venal?  Same reason as the rest of us.  You’ve got this cultural illusion of dignified stiff upper lip starched collar bowler hat whatever, but the reality is you’re as much of a shit-headed mob as any culture in the world.

The phenomenon that really puts the lie to this idea is British tabloid journalism.  Tabloid journalism here in amurrica is a pale imitation of the works of the masters.  It’s one of the most hateful, crass, bullying cultural institutions in the world.  It sells, and it sells specifically to British people.

You like the spectacle of people behaving badly, which makes Trump like candy to you.  Fess up.  Your article itself was an act of delectation, letting him dissolve on your tongue like a sugar cube.  You don’t see me talking about his vile ass on here very often, because the harm he does isn’t a joke.  His ascendance disturbs me to the core.  Having a go at him means tasting poison, and I’ll only do that as a last resort.

Interview With The Artist

My colleague Mr. Beast wrote a really positive article on his writing blog, When No One Cares About Your Writing.  It’s about finding the motivation to continue writing when discouraged – or indeed making any kind of art.  The article is useful because it shows that a person without self-esteem or hope can still find motivation.  Worth a read



Great American Satan:  And worth a discussion.  Welcome back to my blog, Beast.  Long time no see.  How’s the celebrity life been treating you?

drawing of the Beast from Seattle, a blue devil



The Beast from Seattle:  Pretty wild, but I’m hanging in there.

GAS:  Nice, nice.  Save some cocaines for me.  Oh, before we get into this, I understand you wanted to say a little about your writing blog and the motivation behind it.

BfS:  I’d always planned to do something like this, but never got around to it until recently.  With the quarantine, I thought people might appreciate some encouragement and advice about writing.  Also saves me a bit of time so I don’t have to re-explain my suggestions when I talk to people.  Just beforehand I’d been going through some writing e-courses I got in a bundle and was incredibly disappointed with the content.  None of it was about actual writing, just marketing and getting published.

GAS:  I recall you complaining about that at length.  Writing that positions itself as being about how to write, in practice being about nothing but commerce.  Capitalisms, babey.

BfS:  Guess that’s what sells the classes.  My hope was to make posts that are actually helpful and to the point.

GAS:  Fangtastic.  Meanwhile, let’s talk about your newest joint.  The article proceeds from the assumption that no one cares about us – the readers.  That’s brilliant I think because for a lot of people positivity is just not believable.

A lot of “encouraging” articles and media proceed from the idea that the only possible motive is hope, and try to instill it.  I remember assemblies about self esteem and bullying from back when I was in high school that just felt like bullshit.  Not believable, therefore not useful.

BfS:  Also, I don’t know people’s lives; there are plenty of people out there who might literally have no one who cares about their writing.  Nothing more dejecting than looking up advice for a real problem that insists it’s not real.

GAS:  Exactly!  False positivity is a real problem.  I think Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided has something to do with that.  Never got around to reading it.  But the point – of fucking course a lot of us have no one who cares about us.  Literally not a soul.  A lot of us are not attractive or interesting or smart or cool.  Where’s something the abject of the world can believe in?

BfS:  Well, it sounds corny to say ‘believe in yourself,’ but even if you have abysmal self esteem, you could maybe still figure out how to entertain yourself & take care of yourself as much as you’re able to.

GAS:  Do you mind if I spoil your article?  Take its main points and discuss each.

BfS:  Heck, why not.

GAS:  The article goes through reasons to create in the face of universal disinterest.  Point One: A sense of accomplishment.  This is a bit of an old canard, but in the context of this article it is freshened up.  Most people think “sense of accomplishment” and they assume some kind of reward will come with that.  What if the accomplishment is all you have to show for yourself?

BfS:  I compared it to making an elaborate recreation of architecture in Minecraft or making a difficult risotto.  Why do that at all? Because there can be personal satisfaction in doing a feat of skill, or just doing something productive when you weren’t being forced to.  Even if the only bragging rights you get are with yourself, it can still feel good.

GAS:  Still, for some people pride is unachievable.  This point is a little weaker on that count, I feel.  Am I wrong?

BfS:  Well, there’s still sort of a bar to clear in getting anything done at all.  I don’t know if I have the chops to encourage someone who can barely take a shower to also get their writing done.  Still, it’s an activity you can do on your own, without much physical requirements or help from other people.

GAS:  Not to shoot it down.  I’m sure it would work for a lot of people.  But I do believe you wrote your points in order of ascending strength.  Point two: Make your art to build your skill.  Not a bad one.  If you’re going to do something, getting better at it is surely worthwhile.  Again, what if someone finds it hard to be proud of a skill?  Well, it still has use.  But then, what if they are – for whatever reason – incapable of getting better?  You’ve seen artists who stagnate for decades, yes?

BfS:  I included that reason because a lot of people still haven’t absorbed the ‘all first drafts are shit’ mantra, and get very dejected by not having beautiful prose straight out of the gate.  I think just about everyone will get better with practice unless they’re being hindered by ‘if it’s not perfect why bother,’ and not working on polishing rough drafts.

Sometime I might write about the fallacy of the notion of talent, especially in regards to writing.  A lot of people give up on writing because they feel like they’re not talented, and it must be much easier for more practiced writers.  I suppose if someone is incapable of feeling like they’re improving, or incapable of feeling good about improving, they’d have to move on to my next point.  😛

GAS:  I do feel like your last point was the strongest – the one that stands up the best, can be used as encouragement for a creator with zero self esteem for real.  The point is that you can create art that is perfect for yourself, and thus entertain yourself in the future.

Now you and I have both done this – read our own writing, with some distance of time, and been greatly amused by it.  But I was thinking of another example just now.  What about the artist whose crude work is miles from getting to where they’ll actually like it?

To that guy I say this: Your fave artists can make better art than you, maybe they always will, but they’ll never be able to draw your favorite fetish perfectly.  You can create the clown-paint alpaca with a bouquet of horse cocks in place of its head that you want to see in the world.

BfS:  Haha, I suppose that’s one way to put it!  Besides just hyper-specific content, your own writing can have your preferred amount of tension, your sense of humor.  The trickiest part to realizing this goal of entertaining yourself, is breaking free from the desire to write to please others, and to write the ‘correct’ way.  As long as you know what you were trying to say, it doesn’t matter if it’s chock-full of typos and grammar mistakes.

GAS:  This last point I was interested in seeing expanded.  What happens when we aim only to entertain ourselves?  Even a professional writer with an audience of millions might have secret writing – something only for them.  I’m probably still thinking about fetishes here, but bear with me.

BfS:  Heh, surely.

GAS:  I was thinking of that seriously.  If you change the goal of art to a wholly private and self-motivated endeavor – and I admit this is very off topic – how does that change the rules?  Henry Darger of course comes immediately to mind.

BfS:  I don’t think it needs to change the rules that much.  (Almost) no one is so aberrant that there isn’t someone out there who would enjoy their weird stuff.  I know I’d sure like to read Darger’s books if they put it out there.  I think the biggest change is that one could take a lot of shortcuts because they would understand what they meant more easily than an outsider would.

GAS:  Outsider is the word.  What shortcuts would you take, understanding your own internal meaning?  I think the reason shorthand had to be formalized for secretarial work is that any given shorthand we create on the fly could be forgotten by us at a future time.

BfS:  Oh certainly.  Anyone who’s done programming/scripting knows how quickly inadequate comments can leave you scratching your head as to what the hell you were thinking.  I think for myself, I’d still probably hew to typical fiction standards, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I might still be willing to drop plotlines when I grew bored of them and pick them up wherever seemed interesting.  I believe Darger did some ‘reboots’ of his plotlines, and big digressions about anthropomorphized tornados.  Gotta admit though, I would still be interested to read that.

GAS:  Darger, for people who don’t know, was a private guy with a menial job who was discovered posthumously to have written a truly massive and very peculiar illustrated novel. Sadly the people who gained conservatorship of it have never released the bulk of the text, so we don’t get to see just what he did – with the freedom of feeling like nobody else was ever going to read it.

BfS:  It’s a shame that his work was discovered by the art world instead of a publisher.

GAS:  Yep.  People like Matthew Barney that wanna gatekeep art to those with deep pockets.  Whatever to them.  We can all be our own Henry Dargers and make fucked up art for ourselves.  Last question – any chance you’d let us know what your own “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion” would look like?

BfS:  Haha, that’s a bit private, isn’t it?  Well, to whatever degree I haven’t shared unfinished writing, we could consider it all my Realms of the Unreal until I do.

GAS:  And if you even dropped a hint on us here, that would instantly steal it away from that special place.  Well thanks for visiting the show.

BfS:  No problem, thanks for having me.

GAS:  Alright folks, when we get back from commercial, enjoy The Barenaked Ladies!

Interview With The Abyss

Content Warning: Depression thoughts.

Hello. I have a healthy level of self esteem. I don’t always feel great about myself, but it’s unequivocally when I deserve to feel bad about something. I can tell the line, bright and clear. And my mind practically has a wolverine healing factor for keeping me feeling hunkydory most of the time.

Most people feel worse about themselves than I do. Hard for me to relate, to know why or what it’s like. But I’ve had a long association with somebody who has an especially rare mix of high levels of self respect and black hole levels of self esteem. It’s a window into another world that can be educational to look into – if you’re brave enough to deal with the damage of it looking back.

Here I present a loose conversation on the topic of self esteem, between somebody who has it and somebody who will never know what it’s like to be OK with one’s self. I introduce you once again to The Abyss, my mans The Beast from Seattle.



GAS: Beast, how do you like being on the Great American Satan Show?



BfS: It’s just swell, thank you.

GAS: Nice, nice.  So you’re a specimen today, if that’s alright.  Can you bear the scrutiny of the howling masses of I think seven people who see my articles and probably won’t read them if the word count creeps up like this?

BfS: I think I can handle it.

GAS: So in our past discussions, we’ve reached some ideas about what self esteem is.  Until I gained some perspective on what it’s like for someone without, I didn’t even notice it was a thing.  But now I can see it, and I feel I should preface this with the vague operating definition we’ll be using.

It seems that as social creatures we have an instinct for ranking ourselves with regards to others – we can’t escape a compulsion to form a self valuation, often at an absurdly young age.  I was among peers, middle childing.  We both suffered a great deal of neglect and abuse (myself more the former, you more of the latter), but I had peers in my siblings, which helped me establish a baseline sense of myself as acceptable.

This is the thing: Self esteem is, in part, our baseline valuation of ourselves.  You’re the abyss, I’m Bazooka Joe chewing gum.  The perverse twist here is that you have self respect.  How would you differentiate self esteem and self respect?  For the listeners.

BfS: I hope they can’t really hear me… well… It’s funny that I don’t know that I would have made the distinction between the two myself, until we began to talk more about it. I knew I had lousy self esteem, but never would have thought of my self respect as being anything remarkable. I guess I would say that it’s a feature of having a strong sense of justice. Even though I can’t regard myself, I know that I don’t deserve to be treated poorly. Seems stranger for someone to have the reverse.

GAS: That is exactly how I would have stated it.  We’ve talked about your dreams before, and an occasional theme of them is righteous indignation.  You stand up for the oppressed, or call situations out as unreasonable.  It’s part of who you are.

You can’t love yourself in the tiniest degree, but you can say, hey, the unlovable deserve a baseline level of respect and rights.  It’s a deeply weird combination.  It makes sense to develop the one to make up for the lack of the other, as a kind of defense mechanism maybe.  The remarkable thing about it is that you have probably better self-respect than most people.  It’s impressive.

BfS: Thanks? 🙂 I like to imagine it’s a bit more dignified than the other way.

GAS: It is.  Self esteem is a funny beast because I think it puts someone like myself on a grade to narcissism, capable of some loathsome levels of disregard for others.  And people like myself can’t help but show our ass at every opportunity.  We feel entitled to share our opinions at all times and in all venues, whether that’s sensible or not.  The difference between a commenter and a lurker.  The lurker is never embarrassed.

BfS: Interesting you should mention that, as I once did a research project on ‘lurkers’ — AKA the majority of people on the internet.

GAS: I’ll take this aside for a moment.  Any interesting conclusions, or was it too hard to find anything out about the ghosts in our machines?

BfS: It probably would have been more interesting to focus on the commenters, as they’re such a small fraction of users, less than one percent in many cases. Probably the most interesting thing I gleaned was asking people why they didn’t comment, and they generally said ‘I didn’t think anyone would care.’ Which is mostly true. So what makes commenters think otherwise?

GAS: Self esteem!  Back to the point, seamlessly.  I didn’t notice this about myself until I got to know somebody better who formed a stark contrast to it.  I have something inside, not like a voice but just as powerful as if it was.  It’s a sense of entitlement, maybe.

I just don’t doubt for a second that I’m important enough to matter in a conversation, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Does that make sense?  I can see the vast size of the human species, in our billions, and our cosmic insignificance.  And yet I feel like I could be one of the grandiose npr liberals @ing the fascist orange on twitter, if I used that platform.

BfS: Sounds pretty wild, my dude.

GAS: They say you have a slow wave in your brain.  Something isn’t as powerful as it should be, hence the depression and such.  But to you it’s like time is standing still, stretching out into a horrid infinity.  This is a little off topic, getting into depression more generally.

The reason I bring it up is that it seems like as powerfully intelligent as you are, and as much as you get done compared to the rest of us, wiling away your dark infinities, how could there be anything slow about you?  But science mans said there is.

BfS: That’s true, my neurologist said it would be normal for a 70 year old man. Does seem strange, doesn’t it? That people being able to sit still to watch a TV show have more active energy in their brains than I do. Takes a lot of energy to feel okay, apparently.

GAS: And that’s the magical mystery.  I feel like I am not doing anything extra at all.  When I see you hating yourself, it seems so energetic, so much like that is the extra.  That is the energy.  But no, I am the one with energy.  It’s an invisible energy that says, hey dude, the world is yours.

BfS: You got tha power.

GAS: But you say it seems like everyone around you is bottomed out barbiturate zombies.  Nobody has the energy for a real conversation at your speed, or at least depth.  You say something meaningful and one of us is like, “Cool bro.  Imma go watch commercials for laundry detergent now.”  It just seems funny to think that slow wave produces more thought than whatever energy it is that allows me to live in comparative bliss.

BfS: Yeah, that it takes more juice to sit around and watch the Avengers for the 10000th time than to have a decent conversation. Does really astound me how difficult it is for some people to think about anything. Nothing to do with intelligence, it could be about their opinion on peanut butter cups. I’ve had better conversations with four year olds than some adults. And to think, that being an undead on downers is actually more processor-intensive?

GAS: I’m probably a little aberrant in this respect, a little more chatty.  But I’m a lot closer to them than I am to you.  Something that’s become a topic of discussion in our lives pretty often is the difference between passive and active media.  Writing, RPGs, even some video games require some active engagement.  Reading books, watching movies, listening to music, perusing social media – these are the things that can wash over you.  Minimal effort, passive.

For a person like myself, passive media is an anesthetic to chill me out after the tension of a day’s work.  But you have no attention span for passive media.  Can hardly watch TV and movies, always have to be doing something active.  It seems exhausting.  You are allowed no anesthetic.

BfS: Even listening to music seems a bit beyond most people these days. They gotta hear it 10+ times before they can decide if they like it or not. I guess to me, if I was chilling out that much, I’d just go to sleep! And I hate going to sleep.

GAS: Guess that’s getting off topic into the undiagnosed ADHD territory.  Bringing it back, you have the major depression / nega self-esteem combo, even if it’s higher speed than people expect.  It’s vexing.

It’s one of the things that convinces me there is no justice or inherent goodness in the universe, certainly no god: that humans are cursed with having this self-valuation.  We can’t just be – we have to rank ourselves.  And for some people that means never knowing what it’s like to feel alright.

What’s the best you’re able to feel, and how do you do it?

BfS: Oh man, I have this app that tracks your mood, and I’m basically ‘fine,’ tops. I went to a couple good concerts that bumped it all the way up to ‘good’ back in 2019. Best for me is being able to focus on something I’m interested in and forget I exist.

GAS: For me, it feels like I always forget I exist.  I can lose myself in anything that catches my eye.  I’m not a consideration or sticking point in my own life, which is one reason self esteem is invisible to me – feels like a non-thing.  But it seems like, if this slow wave of yours is related, maybe my self esteem is a constant reassurance that I am OK, and can safely be forgotten.  Sound about right?

BfS: It could be, might be a secondary thing. I’ve met people with lousy self esteem that can seem to forget while they veg out, and only feel bad when they get reminded of their own existence.

GAS: The other way this difference between us manifests is in loneliness.  I rarely feel lonely, but you often feel that way.  I’m not socializing any more than you are.  Why the difference?  Is my self esteem, my fast wave if you will, something like company to me?  An unspoken voice in my head?  Or is it just that the pain of hating yourself makes you feel the need to be more engaged – as a way of getting outside of your own mind?

BfS: It could be as simple as an extrovert/introvert thing, I might be some kind of repressed extrovert for all I know. We know some people with bad self esteem that are also extreme loners, so it’s hard to say.

GAS: It’s vexing to know I can be over here chilling, and just being in the same room as you without speaking, I’ll feel good about that.  Like I have whatever company my mind needs.  Meanwhile, the reverse can never be true.  I am insufficient funds for your social needs.  I’m not offended, exactly, but I do feel sad for you on the regular.

BfS: LOL it’s okay, man. Life sucks.

GAS: Well, per the words of the great sage Dr. Phil, I think there is a cure for your bad self esteem that you could try.  Might help.  Next time you feel inclined to hate on yourself, just simply STOP DOIN’ THAT.  It’s the wisdom of Texas.

BfS: (Insert thinking emoji) Will do.

And with that, he was cured!

Choose Your Own Adventure

I wrote like the first third or fourth of a choose your own adventure novel last month. I’ve got the pages hyperlinked so you can read it from the beginning here. Unlike the original CYA books, this one sometimes has choices and sometimes has “variables” where you should choose the option that matches a choice you made earlier in the book. If anyone reads this thing, let me know if you run into stuff that doesn’t work or causes problems.

It’s a sort-of-erotic sci-fi space thing. Probably there should be some content warnings here, but I’m not sure what. I don’t remember anything being too egregious. There is one option where you are not respecting a person’s boundaries, but they already made you a captive in the story, so is it more problematic than the setup itself? Don’t know.

I wrote it so that the reader is the main character, which meant making every direct reference to you gender neutral. Hopefully not too awkward. The writing is a cheesy first draft, but not as cheesy as it probably should be. I feel like I need to make the writing more melodramatic and big, give the characters more distinct voices. But never mind all that. Have a go at it, if you please.

The Mysterious Allure of Spider Sauce

This is one of my main mans, Hecubus. He is a cat. Looks kind of oily in this picture, maybe he needs a bath. Anyhow, the point: He has a wet nose. It’s the perfect amount of wetness for a cat. See a cat trailing snot? Might be sick. See a cat with a nose that’s bone dry? That’s not what a cat nose is supposed to be like. I suspect this optimal cat nose wetness gives him a better sense of smell than other cats I’ve had in the past because he likes to sniff things more than the others.

The other day I killed a spider on my wall, apologies to our FtB thought control overlord. It left a barely perceptible smear on the wall. I flicked off the pieces of exoskeleton with the corner of my murder weapon. Hecubus did not bear witness to this event.

But later he found the spot on the wall, not even convenient to get to up behind a lamp. He found it with his sniffer, and came back to it later to sniff some more. I’ve seen him eat a spider once in his youth, but that was a few years ago. Does he remember the taste and smell on some level, and is therefore drawn to it? Or does spider sauce have a distinctive and potent smell to the right mammals, and just draw interest on the level of curiosity?

Without experimentation we can never know. I guess I’ll leave this one to science wizards. It’s gotta be in the list of things they’ll get to eventually. What is the allure of spider sauce?