“If you can't make people love you at least make sure they respect you.” I'd heard these words in my mind a thousand times before I actually wrote them. They seemed so familiar that I thought they must have come from a poem by Sun Tzu or some classic movie. And they may have still. Yet when I began my research on this topic I could find surprisingly little beyond New Age-y self-help platitudes.
The closest I came to my intention was a quote from A Bronx Tale where Chazz Palminteri’s gangster character, Sonny says something to the effect of, “It’s better to be feared than loved.” This is a good scene in a good movie but what Sonny says is not really the same thing as what I’ve heard in my mind. Fear requires a real or implied threat. True, you must respect someone you fear but that is not the most interesting path to the modern man. Unless you’re a criminal or someone with enough power to wield it like a sledgehammer, fear probably isn’t even an option for you.
Given the choice, would you really prefer respect to love? It’s hard to argue that love is not the more valuable of the two. It keeps us warm at night & replenishes our spirits, winnowed down by struggles within the world. Yet you cannot earn someone’s love. You can do things to help it along surely, but in the end someone either loves you or they don't. Being loved is out of your control. However you can earn someone’s respect. This is ultimately why respect is a superior emotion to love. It is merit based.
No matter how hard you strive you cannot make someone love you. Whereas, if you’ve done the proper work, someone must respect you even if they hate you. Someone who dislikes you may say aloud, "I do not respect him/her". But if you stand firm, consistently & competently fighting for your cause, deep down inside your foe will know the lie. More importantly this respect is not just a moral victory but a reason to hold your head high in a pitiless world & it forces your opponents to stand grudgingly aside, where they would block another’s path.
A major problem with love is that if you show someone love but they do not love you in return it necessarily means you've opened yourself up to being taken advantage of. If you go into the world offering what you have in the form of selfless love but it goes unreciprocated, you may find yourself soured on the notion of love and what's more, taken advantage of by the cruel world. You may spend your money, your time and your affections on those ruthless con-artists who prey upon the lonely-hearted.
There is an imbalance here as it pertains to the sexes. Men are predominantly the ones actively seeking love while the women decide to either accept the offer, take a pass, or (less often it should be noted) hold them in the lurch until such time as they become a usefull fool to manipulate . This opens the man up to at worst, being taken advantage of by unscrupulous women & at best, if the woman is just, pressured to present his "capacity for love" with showy displays of conspicuous spending, in her favor of course.
Because of this imbalance in the way of things a man who is unsuccessful with women may more readily come to feel isolated from & put upon by the opposite sex. This is where the seeds of resentment grow. If he puts his best foot forward, forgives but then has the cycle repeat ad infinitum, the emotions become all the more harsh. They fester over long, lonely nights where the old excuses fall shattered to the ground like glass. This begs the question: what are these men to do? Lower their standards to the point they can longer respect themselves? Throw themselves into their work? Drown the empty promises inside a bottle? Numb it with a drug? Or maybe embrace some "enlightened" spiritual spiel about the path to inner peace being a lack of desire?
In the end these are all jury-rigged solutions to a problem that a man can either solve or he cannot, depending on factors outside of his control. Of course he should keep trying & of course it's too soon to give up... but no amount of physical fitness, education, ambition, or self-sacrifice will EARN him what he craves. A woman will either deign to relieve him from his weariness, like a goddess descending from Mt. Olympus to bless some poor desiccated wretch; or more likely, she will stick with the kind of man she's used to: the privileged ones who're familiar with the fine customs & culture behind the cold iron gates of Mt. Olympus. This leaves you, the wretch, to another cold, dark night of the soul.
In finally summation we return to the original question, “Is it better to be loved or respected?” Although we cannot deny the importance of love to contribute meaning & fulfillment to our lives, I think we’ve established that the latter is the more virtuous emotion to elicit from your fellows. It boils down to the maxim that what is won is much more valuable than that which is given. None of what I have said is meant to imply that respect is easily won; even neutral parties are reluctant to cede ground to one who grasps for self-empowerment. And the thrill of victory cannot come without considerable risk of failures along the way. The champion learns to thrive not just on victory but, almost masochistically, on all the failures leading up to it. We must endeavor to teach ourselves this lesson, whether we seek to find love or earn respect.
Mickey Mouse is the Official Dirty Diaper Changer of the Most Infantilized Generation in Human History
“(Mickey Mouse is a) three-fingered son of a bitch who has no soul, for Christ’s sake.”- Charles Bukowski
With Disney’s recent acquisition of the rights to both Marvel Comics and Star Wars on the big screen, The Mouse has triangulated to piss all over a big part of our collective childhoods. More importantly, the target audience is not just children but an epidemic level of coddled adults. This is why I say that Mickey Mouse is the official dirty diaper changer of the most infantilized generation in human history.
Millennials ( and Gen-Xers, for shame!) are facing massive existential threats to all life on Planet Earth: from Radical Islam to Climate Change. But rather than face these challenges head on, they’ve retreated into the comfort of the womb with safe spaces, trigger warnings & cultural relativism. They’ll surely be singing Kumbaya as Rome burns down around them.
And our popular art reflects this naiveté and prolonged adolescence. Substantive cinema of previous generations like The Godfather, Annie Hall, Wall Street, Chinatown, Easy Rider & Unforgiven have been replaced at the box office by shallow children’s tales with loud swooshing noises, steroid-injected human oddities and morally unambiguous superhuman messiah-figures.
What we need now is not a messiah. We need everyday people to roll up their sleeves & face reality. We need artists and philosophers like Charles Bukowski, like Stanley Kubrick, like Sigmund Freud, to kick the Mickey Mouse out of our heads. It’s time to get down to business and advance Western Culture proudly into the 21st century. Disney won’t be the one to do that folks.
Let’s get something straight right now: everything Disney touches is a disposable, empty-calorie, corporate product like Coca-Cola or Lay’s Potato Chips. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a little escapism in our palate but when the hell did bubblegum become the primary staple of our intellectual diet? I dare you to name a single movie since the turn of the millennium on par with Easy Rider or Blue Velvet. There’ve been some good movies to be sure but we should’ve had at least a few great ones by now (if the blockbusters weren’t eating them alive in their cribs that is).
It doesn't help that the venerated cultural arbiters of taste have been falling into greater and greater irrelevance. The Oscars, for instance, have become a running joke of forgettable propaganda pictures competing over whichever special interest group is worth the most social brownie points that particular year. Maybe this will be the year of the gender-fluid otherkin who overcomes someone insulting them one time in college. Or maybe we'll get more finger-pointing guilt porn about Western Civilization's bloody past. Hollywood writers simply can’t hone their edge on kiddie movies. So when it comes time to confront adult material they fall back into their facile ideological comfort zones rather than ask deeper, more complicated questions. No wonder they prefer to stick with loud, shiny & inoffensive.
So jihadis may be blowing up your countrymen & it’s 70 degrees in December, but never fear! Mickey Mouse promises that you needn’t worry at all. All you have to do is sit back and relax while Captain America and the Jedis swoop in to save the day from some vague and politically correct enemy. Our values will always be championed by these spandex-clad messiahs, after all. And deep down, everything is just a cuddly, soulless three-fingered son-of-a-bitch.
Good creative writing is like dancing & sex. It's always better when you're going with the flow, open-minded & free of self-criticism. If you remain fearless enough to approach these activities with a freedom from inhibition, the coordination & grace will come (no pun intended)with repetition.
You can get lost in some pretty dark woods if you think about all the myriad ways your work can receive criticism. It takes courage to step out on your own into the darkness, with only your own light to shine the way. It's also important to keep in mind that all opinions are ultimately subjective. If you're innovating the way you should be, the in-the-box thinkers (who are the majority by the way) will not "get it" until some cultural arbiter tells them they "should" like it. Be unafraid to stay in the avant-garde, or ahead of the curve. As Teddy Roosevelt once said in the magnificent "Man in the Arena" section of his famous Citizenship in a Republic speech, he who attempts great achievements will at the worst, "...fail while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Strike out on your own creators. Don't be afraid to branch out from The Herd.
You will be able to find all of these poems in their entirety in the Midnight Road e-book. For sale on Amazon.
The Rapidly Disappearing Center in American Politics (Or Are You a Political Cultist on Facebook & Twitter?)
Over the last several months I’ve found myself moving from a staunch partisan to someone more independent without anyone in the political arena to speak for me. I think a good deal of this was recognizing how biased popular media (NPR, Huffington Post, all the Nightly News programs, Reddit, etc.) were to one side of the argument & seeking out sources from the other side (Breitbart, Drudge Report, Voat, etc.). Now I stake out a case by case individualistic political agenda, unrepresented by any popular leader.
The way I see it Americans are all too busy conforming to ever-more rigid, dogmatic & divisive agendas. Where is the party for free thinkers? I consider myself a free speech, pro-abortion, anti-affirmative action, environmentalist, non-interventionist, anti-Cultural Marxist, vegetarian, pro-equality atheist who has close Muslim friends but also recognizes the existential threat of Radical Islam & who recognizes the value immigrants bring to the United States but also recognizes the importance of entering the country legally. I know that's a mouthful & what's more, a narrow niche but certainly there are many of us who prefer our individual philosophies served a la carte.
Does this fall into the middle ground somewhere; you know the place that’s been shrinking so much lately? I feel like I don’t want to commit fully to either side & I’m stuck between factions of propaganda spewing cultists incapable of stepping into or having conversation in, you know, the rapidly disappearing middle ground.
This hasn't been an easy transition. I've recently returned to Facebook, even though I despise the memes & the inanity of the site. I wanted to just promote my literature but BAM! I was socked in the face by shocking levels of rude, partisan political propaganda. I happen to live in a city that's on the left so I found myself defending the right-wing position for the sake of letting the air out of the echo chamber. This is funny however since, as you can see above, I'm far from a card-carrying conservative (pro-abortion, atheist, environmentalist, etc.). It's just that the conversation was so far from the middle & so bigoted towards those with differing opinions that I felt like I had to speak out for those who were being heavy-handedly bullied by propaganda & name-calling. The intolerance was scary to be frank. For instance, I saw an acquaintance (a local filmmaker) threaten to ban dissenters & remove them from his life (which he did by the way).
I still find myself shocked & honestly a little traumatized by it all because I grew up in a world where the right-wingers were the chauvinistic bullies. They were the ones to silence dissent, censor art, bully & provoke conflict. Now I'm seeing an even fiercer level of this same intolerance coming from the left. Keep in the mind that I'm not saying one side are the "good guys" & one side are "the bad guys" in the long run. It seems this is the famous "pendulum swing" where extremism occurs from one end of the political spectrum for a while, resentment builds & then it's met by an equal & opposite reaction on the other side (.ie political correctness giving way to "The Trump Effect").
Finally I'll ask folks on both sides to check yourself for any of these Signs You're in a Cult sourced from excellent articles in The Atlantic, SGBERMAN & Christian Courier :
1. Dissent & Discussion Discouraged (a BIG one among some people on Facebook)
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Doctrine must not be questioned
4. All your friends believe just like you do
5. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to leaders
6. Dishonoring friends & family
7. Polarization of members
Stay cool & calm out there my friends. These are troubled times we're living in but I want you all to be happy, healthy & know where to set appropriate boundaries between yourself as an individual & the sweeping force of The Herd's agendas.
From a Black Hole Inside the Mad Dimension,
The topic of this tutorial is how to lose ~18 lbs. in 3 weeks (as I had to do in the waning days of writing my novel). The reason physical fitness is important is that it helps you be at your most confident & good-looking in whatever way you have to sell yourself to get along in life.
A disclaimer: results may vary because we all have different starting weights, muscle mass & dietary needs. You should probably also consider speaking with a doctor if you have any complicating medical issues. Here goes:
Mexican Salad (1/3 can black beans, ¾ cup of salsa, chopped spinach or kale & chopped onions. Pepper in crunched tortilla chips, sparingly, for extra flavor)
8. Drink lots of water. If you’re exercising as much as recommended you’re going to be thirsty anyway, trust me. Still, you should be quenching your thirst all day to keep your metabolism functioning, flushing out impurities that slow you down & restraining your hunger cravings.
9. Stick with it. If mess up it’s okay. You don’t have to get the same results that I did. Trust me you’ll get there if you keep at it & continually tweak what works for you. I didn’t develop the skills (ie.focus, strength & tolerance for pain) that allowed me to succeed overnight.
I hope this has been helpful to some of you. Looking & feeling good is an important part of developing the kind of persona that you want to project into the world & the kind of memories you want people to have of you. Especially if you’re a writer or someone else who must engage in promotion this can be an incredible asset.
Please contact me via TheMadDimension@gmail.com if you have any questions or want to share your experiences with this guide. Oh & be sure to tell your friends if you think they’d like my content.
From a Black Hole Inside The Mad Dimension,
2/14/16 I've been a slave to love but a slave is meant to resent his master.
2/14/16 Let go. Be the beast. That's all we are anyway. Humans are tripping on their oversized brains, thinking we're above nature... no. Enjoy it :)
2/3/16 Depression & hope: two faces the divided. Janus god of endings & also beginnings. Hope a candle in the darkness, beautiful.
1/2/16 Once you start playing the victim game when do the excuses end & the personal accountability begin? Will you release the hostages when you've gotten your pony, getaway chopper & $1 million? I doubt it.
12/27/15 I think there is a tension between being driven to be the best and being readily understood by the masses when you get there.
12/16/15 I can't think of any occupation that I admire more than the professional provocateur, who has the courage & self-determination to court controversy despite all slings & arrows of the world.
12/9/15 If you put all your trust in any political leader or source of media, you've drunk too much Kool-Aid to taste the strychnine.
Here's a different kind of question I've often had about large scale tragedies like natural disasters, diseases & gun violence:
We get so caught up in the emotion of the violence that we don't consider the long-term, historical consequences. To put it bluntly: the planet is overpopulated already. Maybe we shouldn't try to cure every disease, we shouldn't confiscate all the harmful drugs, etc. Perhaps we'd be happier if we made peace with the fact that rabid animals are going to dwindle the herd from time to time (as they have in much greater volume throughout history) & that's not really a bad thing in the long run. Should we try to stop as many large scale attacks as possible? Of course... but I don't think the zeitgeist should have an aneurysm every time one occurs either. I think we be served to draw some historical perspective on how difficult the human condition has always been & how that is something of a blessing in disguise.
Take for instance how valuable the conquerors throughout history, as bloody & awful as they were during their reigns, have been to population control. We think the planet is overpopulated now: the environment sick, the resources dwindling; where in the world we be without Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Julius Caesar or for that matter the bubonic plague, cancer & AIDS?
Here's an article on the beneficial impact Genghis Khan's conquests had on the environment & sustainability, for example. There are already 7.125 BILLION people on Planet Earth. Try to extrapolate out how many people would be here now if EVERYONE had survived & had kids, which seems to be the ultimate aim of modern society... a right if you will... to defy the boundaries of nature. It'd be one hell of a dystopian nightmare that's for sure.
Update: Maybe I've changed my mind a little bit since I wrote this post, but whatever. You can see my thought process.
12/2/15 Welcome to my very first blog entry. I've decided to create this section mostly for the purposes of talking about strategies for writing, marketing, querying publishers, creating a public persona, etc. In the future I might get into specific How-To topics if there's a demand for this. Initially I want to express my consternation about putting myself out there as a public figure, particularly an artist, & whether I should still fit in my political views as a private citizen. Upon reflection I've decided I should primarily curtail them unless they're directly related to critique of my work itself.
I'm deeply conflicted about this because I tend to champion "lost causes" or whoever I feel is being silenced by authoritarians, be they on the right or the left. One more person scared into silence is a million too many. And yet, I've reflected upon how much I've enjoyed novels where I knew not a lick about the author's political views or had to read deep into the subtext to surmise them. As a reader, I'd rather not have knowledge that would bias me one way or another to the work itself. Despite having a definite viewpoint, I have sympathies with both the left & right of political/social thought. I want both in my readership. Therefore the political thought of my private life will be kept private until such time as it is relevant to my work or a critique of my work, as I've stated.