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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

[I wrote this about 3 and a half years ago in 2016, but came across it today, and it’s still got some oomph, so decided to publish it!]

In a capitalist system where everything can only be valued as a commodity, rights and freedoms end up viewed through the same lens. This is one way to understand why many Persons of Some Privilege get so angry when Others of Lesser Privilege attain additional ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ without appearing to have done anything to earn them.

Under closer examination, the fallacy of this becomes apparent. We do not earn rights and freedoms like an hourly wage. We are born into a certain milieu, and that milieu comes with an automatic allocation of rights and freedoms. The degree to which this exceeds those guaranteed by law (though how solid these are is also associated to mileau) can be referred to as privilege. …


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Evening sky above Missoula; photo by Mike Carlson, July 2019 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Who’s crazy enough to go to this much fuss to talk to me in-person? (say my self-doubting synapses)

I have had a weird career track. It’s been more of a career shamble, punctuated with increasingly tenacious self-talk (and associated actions taken) that I’m worth more than I’m making, that I’m never going to get anywhere waiting around for piddling little cost-of-living adjustments and infrequent merit-based increases, and so it’s time for a change. …


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If you reframe monogamy as a framework for romantic and sexual exclusion (inspired by the way I've frequently seen 'loyalty' and 'fidelity' used as synonyms for exclusivity) in service of one person's insecurity, it seems a lot less acceptable. We consider exclusion by a social group unacceptable in many contexts: racial segregation, gender discrimination, and religious intolerance are all forms of keeping the 'enemy at the gates' for fear of what intermingling would create. Most in modern societies mock, if not vehemently reject, the notion that excluding black people from white institutions is justified in the name of protecting white identity, or that keeping women out of male social organizations or the military somehow empowers men to be men, but the same people overwhelmingly embrace monogamy, a practice that says one romantic relationship is threatened by letting in even the possibility of other romantic (or even meaningful emotional) involvements. Why should we assume that to be true? Do we accept the idea that one friendship is threatened by the existence of other friendships? The demand for exclusivity is one that assumes the monogamous relationship is an emotional and sexual fortress or prison - depending on whether one is trying to 'keep in' (control one's partner) or 'keep out' (police those showing interest in one's partner) - which must be guarded lest something terrible happen. Monogamy maintains a fundamentally defensive posture around the boundlessness of love and the possibility inherent in curiosity and desire, believing the worst about human nature instead of trusting those who love us to continue loving us. …


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Illustration from the frontispiece of the 1831 edition of “Frankenstein”.

I continue to think about my relationship to social networking as offered by ad-driven, for-profit corporations. While I focus heavily on Facebook at the moment, the truth is I think we should be thinking about all of the services we rely on where a powerful and ubiquitous corporation has wormed its way between us and the people we care about and/or want to engage with, offering us a ‘free’ service where the cost is our privacy and the details of our lives. To paraphrase a recent read, our lives and our data are the product, the customers are corporations reaping the analysis of our data, and the social network is effectively a pimp. I read a couple of useful pieces on the broader topic here, one pro and one con in their views, on whether to jettison Facebook — they’re worth a read: https://medium.com/s/story/yes-you-should-delete-facebook-heres-why-bc623a3b4625


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image by Sarah Klockars-Clauser (CC0 1.0 Universal)

An inability to move on is a tacit admission that healing is impossible. Or, it’s a belief that healing must equal the impossibility of going back in time, to reverse that which one cannot accept. I got to thinking about this after waking around 3am, and the idea persisted. Initially I considered the conflict inherent in our cultural Christianity and our perplexingly Old Testament approach to punishment. The former says ‘turn the other cheek’, and the latter says ‘an eye for an eye’. The former says it’s possible and desirable to forgive, to let go of what another has done, not that one should be a doormat a second time after another has trespassed a first time. The latter says that because you have irrevocably taken from me, justice can only be served if I irrevocably take from you. Why do we collectively embrace so much of what Jesus ostensibly said, but act as though the parts that updated a vengeance-based notion of justice didn’t happen? …


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(courtesy of WikiMedia)

“I Love You” is a potion-filled vial

The impetus for this piece was a dream I had last night. In it, I was presented with a deteriorating committed relationship and real sadness at what had been lost. I had gone too deep in a kind of love that had tainted the ability for me and the one I had loved to really enjoy one another, and certain avenues had been permanently closed to us as a result. Out of that dream came the analogy I use here.

“I Love You” is a potion-filled vial. At the time you decide to drink it, usually early on in a relationship, while you are still caught up in the giddiness of infatuation and wonder that you could be so into another, you have two choices. You can drink the whole thing, not really ready or willing to understand what might be in there, or how it might affect you, or you can drink a portion of it. Drinking the whole thing is the cultural norm, and what you see and hear reflected in all the most revered stories about love. All the myths about commitment and ‘happily ever after’ take drinking the whole thing as a given. Those who only drink a portion of the potion are warned that this is a one-time opportunity, and that while you can decide to drink the rest later on, there won’t be enough left for the depth and experience of love promised by drinking the whole vial at once. …

About

Mike Carlson

I'm an atypical middle-aged white mountain-man with a strong interest in egalitarianism and justice. I answer to 'intellectual', 'introvert', and 'INF*'.

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