Weekend Reading

I came across a lot of weird little knick-knacks reading today.

This is an interesting article, because it, as always, makes them more complex. The point of the article is that men are, on the whole, interested in keeping loving monogamous relationships with women, but that power distorts many of our social feelings and abilities. In fact, the article claims to be about sexism, but is really just about power, and they cite a study showing that people put in positions of power lose the ability to read the emotions of others. It’s like the research on power is really depressing. Look first at the Milgram experiments. When humans are put in a position of subordination, we respond to totalitarian orders and stop thinking for ourselves. But when we’re put in a position of power, we lose the ability to perceive the emotions of others. So, long story short, humans can’t live with or without power in any easy sense. The challenge is to build institutions that give us power and celebrate that power while keeping us accountable to others. My claim is that the healthiest model for such a structure is competitive games and sports. This is because one adopts a dual structure towards one’s opponents, both fearing and respecting them, but also wishing to subjugate and destroy them. Thus, competition, like nothing else I’ve seen, allows us to take a dual relationship to power and be in power and out of power at the same time.

Did you know that M.A.S.H. went for 11 seasons and that its 11th season finale was the MOST WATCHED TV episode of all time? What? When David Foster Wallace wants to illustrate a father who was addicted to television. M.A.S.H. is the program he puts in the scene. Apparently, there was a black character in M.A.S.H. named “Spearchucker Jones,” which is unnerving to say the least, but get this: he supposedly dies after the biological warfare episode. Um, pop culture playing out genocidal fantasies…

We are in the matrix already. Not much to say here other than to think of how prophetic every sci-fi book you’ve ever read, is.


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