Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Confessions of a Failed Author #5

I've never understood all the skulduggery that goes on behind the scenes, where people scheme and invent and undermine.My research into the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial, and also other Trials; Griekwastad and David Baine and OJ Simpson has shown me that people will go to extreme lengths to protect a persona.  In fact they will go to even more extreme lengths to protect a FAKE persona.  And I can tell you this for nothing, people who protect their own fake personas are ruthless when it comes to other people - authentic people - who might reveal them, or show them up.  And so there's this very real scenario playing out of someone who tries to invalidate you, in order to validate themselves.  It's important to do this especially when your shit is bullshit.  Then you really need all the good PR you can get to validate your bullshitness.

When you look at these cases, Simpson, Pistorius and this Steenkamp kid, all of them thought they were hotshots (and some still do), thought they were entitled to their lives and big bucks, saw others lives as cheap objects by comparison, and expendable to their own, and so were highly incentivised to cover up their inauthentic narratives.  Why? Because if people saw or knew who they really were they'd be in super serious trouble.  And how far will they go to protect these persona?  Pretty fucking far.

I mean if your persona is your identity, it feels - at times - interchangeable, identical to who you are. It isn't, but if you are so invested in your persona, then threats to your persona, which are threats to your identity, are going to feel just like threats to you.  Threats to your life.  The unhinged can take these threats so seriously it can go as far as murder, and even murdering one's own family.  Murdering the people closest to you to protect some unpleasant truth (raping your sister, an abusive argument, jealous) about you from being revealed.

They would lose millions alongside losing the love, support and sycophancy of their fans, family and friends.  You think this business of covering up lies is limited to big court cases, and Lance, and Tiger?  No.  It's here.  It's part of the fabric of society, and I'm going to dig out a can of worms I've been sitting on, and show them to you.

Make a cup of coffee, and set aside 5, make that 10 minutes to concentrate on this rusty tin of vrotting baked beans.  Ready?  Here we go.

Yes, covering up a persona also happens in the real world, and it happens a lot.  Not murder, necessarily, but scheming and repression and the behaviour that is meant to undermine you, and at the same time benefit the perpetrator.  I'm not sure whether we should be surprised at this, or even wounded.  Isn't it natural?

It's Natural

Think about the natural world...think about Impala...you have one bachelor with...like...50-100 females.  The lone bachelors are cast out and it's a pretty lonely life for them.  Meanwhile the dominant stags get all the action.
I want you, the reader, to think of the females, as booty.  As in treasure.  As in the sort of the stuff you accumulate when you work hard, arrange your affairs properly, and have the presence of mind to know your friends from your enemies rivals.

In the schema, the mythos of the Impala, the dominant male, in rutting season, has a pretty good run of the veld. That is until another male emerges and then there is a duel for supremacy.  Duel done, the females head off to camp with the dominant male.

Nature has programmed this system, so that only the strongest and best males breed with the females. This system is in place because it works.  It serves to advance the interests of some of the individuals (notably the dominant males, and their females, who are protected from unsavoury characters and predators) and implicitly enhances the group.  The best individuals survive, and effective survival in nature must be enforced.

If you're in this sytem, the best place to be if you want to be at the top, and see the most action, and get the most credit, is in the herd run by one dominant Impala, the territorial male. You want to be him.  It's lkike being the CEO or a Hollywood Actor.  On the other hand, if you'd like to relax in your office cubicle, have lunch, mind your business, kind of be a nobody (and hey, that's also okay) then the female herds are your place to be.  Bachelor herds are less fun. There's bickering.  There's frustration.  There's a lot of alliances forming and breaking up. It's kind've a purgatory for losers and outcasts; it's where you go when you can't find an 'in' either with the female herds, or because you've failed to properly challenge the big kahuna running the terriorial show (and for that honor, services as many as 100 females in a season).  So this is the setup, thanks Wikipedia:

The social behaviour of the impala is influenced by the seasons. Three distinct social groups are formed in the wet season: the territorial males, bachelor herds and female herds.[22] These groups continually break up into smaller herds and reunite.[4] About a third of the adult males hold individual territories...and may change according to the season.[3] The males demarcate their territories with urine and faeces and defend them against any other male intruders. A study of impala in the Serengeti National Park showed that in 94% of the males, territoriality was observed only for a duration of less than four months.[5] 

So yes, it's seasonal.  It comes and goes.  But when it comes it can be a big deal.  Below the next paragraph I'm going to reveal why we're in season now. In the schema of this can of worms, this example I'm laying bear, at any rate.
First let's look at how this mechanism of being part of a group, or not part of a group works, and why it matters. Pay attention to the Territorial Male, because they are actually running the show, and that's kind of where you want to be (and kind of where I am at, incidentally, in my own working scenario.  I run my show, and am answerable to me.  I have no vested interests.). How do you know who is really running the show?  Simple.  Just see how many followers (females) are following him.

During the mating season males prefer small, easily defended territories, and will sometimes reclaim their old ones from previous mating seasons.[12] These territorial males may or may not have breeding females in their territories. The male will try to control any female herds passing through his territory by herding them towards the centre, and will also chase away any bachelor males or juveniles who accompany them.[5]
The bachelor herds comprise non-territorial adult as well as juvenile males, and can have about 30 members.[3] Individuals maintain distances of 2.5–3 m from one another. Young and old males may interact, but middle-aged males usually avoid one another.[23] The female herds consist of 15-100 individuals, and comprise of breeding herds of females and their young (including young males below four years). The females form clans, and inhabit home ranges 80–180 hectares in size. There is no distinct leader of the female herd, though animals aged five years or more may move independently.[23]Membership in both bachelor and female herds is variable.

The same is true of lions, where the male big shots must defend their territory and their pride, and expect attacks and be able to ward them off.  Sometimes by other lions, sometimes by Hyena.  It's the most troubling, in some ways, when you see wolves wiping one another out. I mean entire packs eviscerating rival groups.  It's where the saying comes from:

Man is a wolf to man.

It's different of course with Impala. They duel and the loser then heads off into the sunset.  Defeated, but not dead.  Lions too will scrap a little and then the status quo slots back into place.  One of the most shocking things I ever saw was at Shamwari, where an opportunistic male lion who was used to winning, but was already excluded, and wanted to mate so he took his chances.  He fought a younger rival and lost. He didn't just lose the fight he was killed. A dead lion is...a very disturbing sight.  It takes a lot to kill a lion.  A lot of biting and ripping and mauling.  So when we found an old male by the side of the road, ripped to pieces...it's disturbing. It's so disturbing I can tell you that the staff at Shamwari said they would not simply let the lion - a once magnificent animal, well known over many years - lie beside the road for all to see, and rot.  No, even though what had happened was in the schema of nature, they would bury him.  A mark of respect, across species no less, for a fallen friend.

Think about that.  Why do we bury some animals, and not bother with others?  It is a sign that an animal means something to us, beyond the meaning of its own vitality, and its own Life Force.  That's deeply impressive and deeply beautiful to me.

It happens in the human world too, where people go out of their way to advance the hopes of other people, sometimes - well, especially when it's at their own expense it's so heroic.  That's Mandela right there.  Ghandi. We celebrate these men as true icons of the human story, and we recognise them as among the greatest human beings that ever lived.  They didn't serve their own interests.  They helped all the animals in the herd.  They protected all, and not to further their own interests, but the interests of all.

But I'm afraid it's a fact of life that man is a wolf -sometimes, often - to his fellow man.  How the game works is if you can invalidate your rival, you benefit at his expense.  Politics works like that. Law. So does freelance journalism.  

I don't quite get that stuff, and I think the reason is...I don't feel threatened by other writers. Or photographers. The few that are intimidatingly good I try to form friendships with, I don't bear a grudge or an agenda.  Those who do, in my opinion, are that miserable lot who don't really know what to say, or why they're saying it.  They seem to be the frustrated bachelor's who aren't properly in any where and are suffering existential angst as a result.  My advice to you - you are probably in the wrong business.  You get great writers and artists who suffer and are poor their whole lives, and you get really terrible folk with no talent who believe themselves to be better than they are who also remain poor, and struggle to emerge.  Take it from me, you rather one to be the guy with real talent that's struggling and getting nowhere, than the other guy.

For the other guy it all ends in tears, and he is so distracted by his misery and frustation and over-reach, because he's in the wrong place, the wrong herd (go play in your cubicle with the tea drinkers, it's safer) he doesn't see the lion stalking him in the thicket.  Maybe he has his eyes set on the territorial male, but whatever it is, he doesn't see Death until those claws sink into the jugular, and the little Life Force you had drains, and then is gobbled away.  If you're not hacking it, and never have any followers, and you're doing the PR thing permanently and no one is paying attention, please, for the love of God, stop.  Stop, take stock, and go do something else.

Go and seek out another living of some kind.

Behind the Bravado

Remember I said if you're that guy that doesn't have any talent to speak of, walk away?  What do you think happens when you insist?  When... behind the bravado is...let's face it...not the highest standard of work. There is a caricature of the struggling artist, and the struggling writer...there's the equipment, prominently displayed, the camera, the notebook, the phone...and I think it's especially sad where you see a committed fundamentalist with all the right gear, all the right contacts, the right CV, the right everything, just their work is...well, something is wrong with it.  It's dull.  And you recognise them immediately because they are desperate for something from you.  A contact.  What settting did you use?  How did you do this?  How did you do that?  And of course you mean well, and you try to help.  But there is something, I'm sorry to say, unfortunate, and perhaps not fair, about the sighted trying to lead the blind.

The blind leading the blind has a poetic irony, but when the man who sees and do's has to tolerate idiots (and idiots who don't know they are idiots, and of course, he doesn't know that either) then it's not a good situation for anyone.

At 36 seconds, Loki does what I sometimes feel I do myself. But more like a primal scream:

Loki: Enough! You are, all of you beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature

Of course you don't say any of these things.

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