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Monday, November 15, 2021

A Gathering Of Milquetoast

Episode Two Hundred Sixty Seven: A Gathering Of Milquetoast.
In which we loincloth it up.

1 comment:

  1. My father was born in 1933, was arranged to go to Yale by his father (a Yalie before him) back in a time when that was possible. He almost flunked out several times, started in engineering and ended up with a business degree. And then, later, an MBA. All to his shame. Studying business, and subsequently being a business man, was seen as a mark of failure for him; the true elites were scientists, artists, poets, academics. And he'd managed to not be one.

    This was curious because he was a Union supporter, and champion of the 'common man' and supporter of equal rights. Why had he been so ashamed to work in business, I asked his sister after he died, when he was so pro- 'common man' labor and teamwork? She pointed out a hypocrisy that was right at the surface for him, but I had never been tall enough to see: He was simply ashamed to have not made it to the elites.

    When the 80's came around and getting an MBA - for the often expressed purpose of making more money - became a popular thing, my father noted that it was a sign of our collapsing society. He often pointed out Trump back then as a pustule on the ass of America's rotting corpse. I'm only glad he never saw that guy become president.

    The sad irony was that he turned out to be very good at the quantitative analysis that he performed as a broadcast TV exec, but he never got over what he saw as his lifelong failure, and, in kind, the undeserved privilege afforded him because of his ivy league education.

    He maintained a mid-life crisis around this issue for decades. He got into Bly, and once sat my brother and myself down to watch 'A Gathering of Men'. It was uncomfortable.

    He encouraged me (his youngest) to 'follow my bliss', and supported my experimental educational choices. And now I am well into middle age, and I have the same doubts and limitations that he had (ND issues no doubt hampered us both), but I lack the undeserved privilege that was thrust upon him. (I say that, but of course it's untrue. What I have is what every Gen X has, which is an economic climate that prevents us from achieving the level of our parents. But I do like to blame it on my hippie life decisions forty years ago. And on my cat.)

    Watching an afternoon of Stan Brakhage films is the closest I'm ever going to get to drumming in the woods wearing a loincloth. It was a test of endurance, to be honest, but it was also one that I undertook with my brother, who was terminal with prostate cancer at the time, and so is one of my best last memories of him. Which is to say these comics are always skewed and filtered and hiding the truth.

    I do have an ongoing masculinity issue at work, though. It's always a touchstone that serves as a baseline against which I fall away from comraderie and into that alienated orbit that reminds me, daily, that I am apart. Which, honestly, is the whole purpose of those gender codes in the first place no?

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