Re: When the personal should not be the political

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The problem is that if everything will be all right for you because you're Christian, the natural conclusion is that you need to be constantly proselytizing.

I was expecting this sentence to end differently:"the natural conclusion is that non-Christians deserve what they get."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:25 AM
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Most of the Texas Christians that I'm around are super compassionate and dedicated to helping less fortunate. That means mission trips, etc, which aren't exactly as proselytizing as they might be, but are still chock full of problems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:29 AM
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I am very confused by this idea that I can't be compassionate toward someone and at the same time correctly believe that their particular problem, while real, is extremely rare.

I am less confused by the idea that you have to believe everything will be alright, but I think you're neglecting the obvious alternative - to believe that it's quite likely everything will not be alright, but to simply not focus on this fact when it's not helpful.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:39 AM
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Well, Option #3 is that you fight like you're already dead, because you know things are going to turn out shitty either way, and future generations may benefit from our sacrifice. Spartacus & the Trung Sisters, Wat Tyler & Nat Turner, Bhagat Singh and Subcommandante Elisa -- they call out to us to finish their work.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:40 AM
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(The way to not focus on something is to affirmatively focus on something else, and gently and non-judgmentally guide your mind back to the thing you're trying to focus on when it wanders towards the bad thing. Some people call this "living in the moment" or "being present" or "mindfulness".)


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:40 AM
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I am very confused by this idea that I can't be compassionate toward someone and at the same time correctly believe that their particular problem, while real, is extremely rare.

Any one particular problem is extremely rare. Gigantic it's-not-ok problems taken in aggregate? Extremely common.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:41 AM
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6: And in the possible world where gigantic it's-not-ok problems were extremely rare, it would be okay to be an asshole to people who were suffering?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:43 AM
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If you don't, you'll become either depressed...

Or just fatalistic. I don't see that depression inevitably follows from pessimism.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:44 AM
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Or what Benquo said more eloquently than I.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:45 AM
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8: It seems to, around here.

I mean, my actual internal landscape is more what Benquo and Ginger Yellow are hinting towards - lalala, I'm happy and we're all doomed. But it does feel like a paradox.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:45 AM
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8 Me neither. Who thinks everything is going to be ok? (Other than Bob Marley's three little dinosaurs? Who do make a persuasive case, it must be said.) The Serenity Prayer strikes me as the more prevalent formulation.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:49 AM
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Who thinks everything is going to be ok?

"The Lord will not give you more than you can handle"
"This too shall pass"
Etc, etc.

Many people believe it on an implicit level, even if they'll acknowledge that it doesn't hold up under scrutiny. I certainly live as though it's probably true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:51 AM
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More of 7: Like in the Dostoevskian paradise where everyone is perfectly happy except for the one tortured child, the rest of us should say, "haha tortured child, sucks to be you?"

10: It's a contradiction if you don't distinguish between "beliefs about matters of fact" and "verbal thoughts that I rehearse in my head".

"We're all going to die!" is factually true, but the person screaming that constantly at the top of their lungs is affected by the thought somewhat differently from the way an actuary might feel about it during their 9-5.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:52 AM
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Or you can decide that you worship statistics.

Greetings, Internet nerds from Bill Simmons to that 538 guy and back.

Essay topic: Denial-of-statistics as denial-of-death in contemporary American right-wing culture, physical (guns) and otherwise (climate change). Open your blue books ... now.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:52 AM
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And in the possible world where gigantic it's-not-ok problems were extremely rare, it would be okay to be an asshole to people who were suffering?

Oh for fuck's sake. I'm not going to bother. YOU GOT ME.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:53 AM
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2: Living, as I now do, without much contact with real-no-kidding-evangelical types, I am prone to forgetting how genuinely decent they often are.

I guess their problem is an ideological one, not a problem of personal decency. There is a red-state tendency to treat individuals well, but to say, in general "You built that" to people whose lives are going well or poorly.,


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:53 AM
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To be fair, it can actually be really hard to observe the distinction between things you happen to think are true (and also have a strong emotional valence), and thoughts you rehearse in your head all the time. I totally have this problem - when I think about the magnitude of the problems the world faces, my first response is not the rational one of "well, I'd better start trying to fix that", but the more normal human one of "time to collapse in despair". But this is not the only possible way to be and I aspire to be better.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:56 AM
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15: On the other hand, I guess you might have meant that the expression of compassion depends on your prior for how often shit happens. Which if that's what you meant, makes perfect sense.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:57 AM
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"The Lord will not give you more than you can handle"

I find this sentiment so shockingly childish, and so obviously refuted by pretty much all human experience, that I have a difficult time believing that anyone actually believes it. It's just something you say to comfort someone fearful of some looming problem.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:01 AM
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13.1: Is that Dostoevsky? I thought it was Le Guin?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:02 AM
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16.1: In my estimation the public decency is more than balanced out by the private depravity. The same Bible-thumper who drives you back to town when your car breaks down kicked his 16 year old daughter out of the house for being queer.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:03 AM
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I mean, my actual internal landscape is more what Benquo and Ginger Yellow are hinting towards - lalala, I'm happy and we're all doomed. But it does feel like a paradox.

Or just we're all doomed, and we might as well make the best of it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:14 AM
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Leguin stole it from Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov).


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:24 AM
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(Hits h-g on head with big stick. "Why?" Compassion!)

My sleeve wet with tears or dew, so hard to tell, I return to my Anthology of Traditional Japanese Literature. Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi before 1600. I picked a 1200 page book this month to read with the others. All these fucks wanted to become nuns or monks at age 25. Please let me me go. Nah, you can have two more children and the others will die cause they are too beautiful to live. doom waka doom.

cherry blossoms falling now
autumn leaves falling soon
Sitting on a corpse
in the capital
My little hut beckons me

(Maid that up. I suck. Maybe I will come back with poems and passages, the mono no aware real primo shit)

Giving it all up as an example to others is the ultimate act of compassion. Thus sayeth Buddha.
....
OTOH, I was wondering why this old crank loved anime which focuses on teenagers and YAs.

Cause "This too will pass" are the four worst words?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:26 AM
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Tig Notaro has a very funny monologue about the whole "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" attitude.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:33 AM
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It is central to one's mental health to believe that everything will be all right, in a general sense.

Ah, so that's where that went wrong.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:56 AM
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It's aim is somewhat different, but agnotology*--the cultural production of ignorance--seems relevant (in part that people looking to resolve some of these mental "paradoxes" are ripe customers for ignorance). I guess classifying religious studies as a sub-field of agnotology would probably be rather controversial.

*I assume I've encountered him previously, but only really became aware of Michael Hiltzik (LA Times) with his strong columns on the ACA rollout (and flawed Repub sob stories). Seems to be interesting writer. But from Wikipedia, I see that he had a sockpuppeting scandal. Hiltzik admitted to posting under false names on multiple sites, using the pseudonym "Mikekoshi" to criticize Hugh Hewitt and L.A. prosecutor Patrick Frey. (And Patrick Frey appears to be Patterico!?)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:57 AM
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I'm invoking the 40 comments rule to determine the real post

And since Stephen Wolfram has legal rights to all rules with numbers in their names, your "rule" has no standing. Plus sort of on-topic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:01 AM
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I believe that the actual Christian, or at least classic Lutheran, position is not "God doesn't give more than you can handle" but "God doesn't give more than God can handle" which is something very different. The point is, precisely, that people are NOT capable of handling the overwhelming and fundamental horribleness of life on their own through their own efforts, and so you need a gift of undeserved grace, which has nothing to do with your efforts, but which exists nonetheless (and thus offers one way out of the dilemma described in the OP). The idea is certainly not that everything will be OK if you smile more and proselytize; it's more that things are horrible and there's nothing you can really do or not do about it, but that's not a reason to give up hope, compassion, or effort.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:03 AM
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This seems like maybe it should be a Buzzfeed quiz and we should choose where we fall, except I'm not entirely sure. I do quote Julian of Norwich at myself when I need to calm down, but I wouldn't necessarily say I believe it. I mostly just tell myself that life is generally survivable, at least until it isn't.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:04 AM
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Does the post make more sense to anyone if you think about bad outcomes as under your own control or not? That is, when I'm thinking about my own life, I tend to think that anything that's gone wrong is entirely my own responsibility and under my own control -- I could have worked harder, or made more sensible choices, or whatever. And going forward, how well my life is likely to turn out is also going to be a function mostly of my own choices and efforts. And I'm better off thinking this way, because it's motivating me not to screw up or slack off (more than I already do slack off and screw up, of course). Bad luck isn't an important factor in how I think about my life (of course, this is partially because I honestly really haven't had any significant bad luck ever).

On the other hand, if I look at other people's lives, largely, when they're in bad situations, I can see plenty of reasons why it's not their fault, starting from broad socioeconomic factors and ending with random streaks of bad fortune. I kind of think even those people might be better off if they delusionally believed they were in full control of how their lives are turning out, for all sorts of motivation-related reasons, but in terms of compassion for them, it's clear to me that their problems are not all their own fault.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:04 AM
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29: People say it the way it was cited all the damn time, though, and luckily God mostly gives the people hearing it the strength to handle hearing that without kicking the speakers' shins.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:06 AM
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11: I do. I think everything, or rather lots of things, are going to be OK over a long enough timescale. I think we're going to take an unnecessarily long time getting there and we're going to pick a needlessly painful and difficult route, but, in the end, the world's getting better and soon enough it will be immeasurably better than it is now.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:08 AM
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29: Yes, what I regard as the core message of much of Ecclesiastes, one of the greatest little bits of writing in human history.

18 I also said to myself, "As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:10 AM
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I agree with 33, with the caveat that there's a reasonable chance we might nuke/bioweapon ourselves off the face of the earth at any given moment.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:10 AM
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I saw PTSD explained as the gut realization that bad things do happen, perhaps randomly, and grief has a substantial component of constant awareness that bad things can happen. When the realization that bad things happen becomes emotion, it is very far from the regular state of denial and hope.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:11 AM
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And since Stephen Wolfram has legal rights to all rules with numbers in their names, your "rule" has no standing

Now I want to know what Rule 34 is in cellular automata. But I'm definitely not googling it at work.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:11 AM
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34: A message which can be deployed for either good or evil, of course.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:11 AM
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34: Or pornographically.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:15 AM
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I think everything, or rather lots of things, are going to be OK over a long enough timescale.

Something more sensible than we are will almost certainly evolve eventually, after all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:16 AM
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37: Here's the link to it in his "atlas." Quite safe for work--as far as I know anyway.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:16 AM
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40: Maybe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:17 AM
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43

Shit. I missed my chance to post the real post.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:17 AM
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40 seems unduly optimistic.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:17 AM
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40, 42, 44: But some time, somewhere in the universe, sure. But what they'll probably accomplish, meh.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:20 AM
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And so to work.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:20 AM
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13, 20, 23: No, she stole it from William James, who came up with the example specifically as a challenge to utilitarianism. That's why Le Guin's story is subtitled "Variations on a theme by William James"

The theme also appears in Dostoevsky, but that is not what Le Guin was thinking of.

Wikipedia: Le Guin hit upon the name of the town on seeing a road sign for Salem, Oregon, in a car mirror. "[... People ask me] 'Where do you get your ideas from, Ms. Le Guin?' From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else?"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:23 AM
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40 et al.: and with strange aeons even death may die?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:24 AM
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I find this sentiment so shockingly childish, and so obviously refuted by pretty much all human experience, that I have a difficult time believing that anyone actually believes it. It's just something you say to comfort someone fearful of some looming problem.

It's shockingly childish if you apply it to someone else. If you say it to yourself, and find strength in it, it's not especially childish. It's a way of mustering deep reserves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:31 AM
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It's a way of mustering deep reserves.

Spiritual electrolytes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:34 AM
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40. "Not enough reason here" is IMO a poor candidate for describing what is wrong with humanity. Being smarter will not help.

I basically agree with ajay as a long-term optimist. No idea whether long term is ten generations or a thousand though, and the prospects for mid-term horror affecting most humans are pretty high IMO.

Two nights ago I dreamed that a pack of carnivorous primates attacked and ate me. That was pretty unpleasant.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:34 AM
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I think everything, or rather lots of things, are going to be OK over a long enough timescale.

Yeah, given enough time, it's certain that humanity will become extinct. Problem solved!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:38 AM
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43: while I'm being pedantic, the origin of the phrase among American Christians is St. Paul, not Ecclesiastes. "And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

When I have challenged my more xian students on this issue, the have pointed me to this passage.

Googling around right now I see that some Christian websites point out that Paul is talking about temptation here, not suffering, which means that the passage is generally applied incorrectly.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:39 AM
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"The Lord will not give you more than you can handle"

This has probably already been mentioned--I haven't read the whole thread--but in the bible, this is referring to temptation to sin, not suffering.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13 NASB).

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:39 AM
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51: "Sensible" ≠ "having more reason" for me. But probably should wait for LB to say what she meant.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:41 AM
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51: Sometimes I say to myself, "The arc of history (like my penis) is long, but (also like my penis) it bends to the left."

This generally amuses me enough to get through hard moments.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:41 AM
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I assume 53 was meant to be 34. Yes, had no illusion that Ecclesiastes was the root of what people say. Just that *I* think it is a clear exposition of the principle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:42 AM
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56.2: Not to mention (low-hanging) fruitful ones.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:43 AM
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Two nights ago I dreamed that a pack of carnivorous primates attacked and ate me. That was pretty unpleasant.

Packs of carnivorous primates seem like one of the potential threats that humanity is particularly well-suited to fend off. I don't see us losing an inter-species war to any other primates anytime soon.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:43 AM
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It'd be funny if political views correlated with direction of penis bend


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:43 AM
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Packs of carnivorous primates seem like one of the potential threats that humanity is particularly well-suited to fend off.

It's as if you're forgotten that they're impervious to drought.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:44 AM
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59: I was thinking more intra-species.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:44 AM
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53,54 -- right, and even that passage is best understood as saying something like "don't sweat small bullshit, because by living with God you will be focused in what is important and godly" not "God gives you magic powers to resist all evil." It's all in the context of Paul's attack in Jewish law.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:48 AM
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Two nights ago I dreamed that a pack of carnivorous primates attacked and ate me.

Eventually Pope Francis was forced to admit that his extreme austerity measures had resulted in some unfortunate unintended consequences.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:48 AM
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in s/b on.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:48 AM
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31: Kant 101:Assume free will for yourself, and determinism for others

Kant Nietzsche: The world can be only aesthetically justified by a subject that says:

Because it makes me happy
Because it makes sense
Because it's pretty

One of the crueler aspects of Heian culture which has persisted, is based on the doctrine of karma and reincarnation. You are responsible for the sins of your past lives which show up in your present condition. So the travelers encounter a dwarf and are repelled by the awful acts he must have committed in his previous life.

Besides Genji and the Pillow Book, highly recommended are the Sarashina Diary by daughter of Sugawara no Takasue, a lady-in-waiting of Heian-period Japan long ignored because it is so depressing; and especially the Confessions of Lady Nijo. Wonderful stuff.

A Lady Nijo Site

Am I to believe
This pain is but the suffering
Inherent in all life? ...LN


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:51 AM
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The OP makes perfect sense to me, I recognize that tension (and, incidentally, it feels related to the tension described in ogged's post about entitlement and empathy).

That said, I feel like contemporary American culture puts an unusual emphasis on pushing the idea that tragedy and suffering are exceptional, rather than common and a part of life (this is hardly an original idea).

There are many examples you could point to, but something that comes to mind for me is this Edward Weston photograph of a dead body that he found in the desert. I remember seeing that in HS and being struck be the fact that no explanation was given and, the photo suggests, none is needed -- there must be a story, but at the same time it's just a dead body.

I don't know if that's a good explanation -- it's a personal emotional association, not a logical train of thought.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:58 AM
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59. I didn't mean it as a definite prediction, just a personal remark to make nearly metaphysical speculation less abstract.

The kinds of organizations that humans form when we stop fighting (bureaucracies, cults, mining towns) don't fill me with confidence. I tell myself that I'm failing to detect something good about groups of people, since positive outcomes from organized effort are also common. This ignorance gives me solace-- there's something about people that's helpful which I don't understand.

ALso, I had no idea that hair dryers were this old.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 8:59 AM
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I generally comfort myself by imagining how things could be worse. Right now, for instance, I am not being devoured by wolves. That's something to be thankful for.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:04 AM
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69 seems like a bleak way to comfort oneself.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:08 AM
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My go-to could-be-worse is that I'm thankful my face isn't numb with novacaine. I hate that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:08 AM
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Here's another one. I have a student who was shot in the elbow while resisting a mugging. His cast just came off, and now he spends most of class time rubbing his elbow or slowly moving it back and forth. I, on the other hand, have the good luck to have two functioning elbows. So how can I complain?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:09 AM
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70: If you have the imagination to make the 'being eaten by wolves' part of it really vivid, then it's quite a relief to remember that it's not actually happening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:11 AM
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I'm thankful that there are detailed plot synopsis of every episode of Veronica Mars available online. I'm also thankful that I'm going to the Hollywood Premier with Airedale in my elegant caftan and yellow heels.

I'm already packed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:12 AM
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69, 70. Yeah, awful counterfactuals are pretty common for me also. I'm not the most cheerful person though.

However, my counterfactuals aren't imaginative enough yet to include imagining a life where I eat spoiled food and learn to distinguish other people by smell. Maybe I need to expand my horizons.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:19 AM
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The early reviews of the film are looking quite good!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:19 AM
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I have a quick not-unrelated ATM. Let's say that one has like public-vomit level PTSD about meeting friends' girlfriends. One has had way too many close relationships with people and then been emotionally replaced by some random person. One has not always behaved honorably in this situation. While everyone else pats the friend on the back and says "Way to go! We're so happy for you," and whatnot, one has been more likely to express horror and outrage at seeing the friend retract all attention and intimacy to give it to someone else. Let's say this has happened kind of a lot in one's life and is probably grounds for some serious therapy. Now the situation is repeating itself and one has avoided attempts to introduce this girlfriend for nine months, saying it's too soon, and warning that one will be far to critical and the poor dear doesn't deserve the withering attention of a protective friend. But now she is in town, and insistent gestures are being made about forcing one to acknowledge and celebrate the relationship, the very thought of which, with all this baggage, makes one feel seriously ill. Advice? Mantras?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:20 AM
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You know, I don't think I've ever been bitten by an insect larger than my thumb.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:20 AM
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too critical


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:20 AM
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"I am not being eaten by wolves at least"?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:22 AM
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78 was not to 77, but it might help to think about such things

Seriously, just say "No, I will not meet your new girlfriend. It would be too painful." Plenty of people refuse to meet the new partners of exes. In fact, many people would think your ex is being rude for expecting you to.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:24 AM
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Not an ex! We never dated. We were very very close friends, like, let ourselves into each other's houses friends, stay up till 4am and sleep on the couch friends.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:25 AM
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77: You're not being irrational - people have a finite amount of emotional intimacy, and close friends get displaced when relationships start.

In order to stomach meeting the girlfriend, your peptalk can't be kidding yourself - you can't pretend to yourself that you might not lose this friend, or at least lose some of the dear intimacy with this friend.

I doubt this helps the underlying sadness, but it might help the actual meeting not be such a punch-to-the-gut.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:26 AM
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84

I was just saying to someone the other day that I've more or less completely abandoned any optimism about the larger world, mostly because of climate change*. But I remain pretty resolutely an optimist on a personal level.

There've been a few recent(ish) local events that have highlighted chance, the fragility of life, etc., and I have literally just looked at them and decided, you can't worry about that. It's such a cliche, but so true.

I'm not suggesting, btw, that people should just decide not to worry; that's largely a matter of personality, I think. But it's just been weird to be confronted with these reminders of mortality/awfulness, and just have to shrug and move on. Because whaddya gonna do?

Oh hey, and here comes a Patti Smith song from her album about the tragic death of her musical/life partner. Thanks, shuffle.

*both the fact of it and the incredible political disfunction it's revealed/highlighted. The fact that, politically, we're farther from addressing this now than we were in 1990 is kind of unspeakable


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:26 AM
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I deeply resent that it's apparent that our friendship was just filling some emotional hole that, once filled by someone he wants to sleep with, doesn't need me anymore. And in the ways that I feel a different need in his life, it bothers me to see him devote all his energy to someone who isn't smart or nice enough to him to meet those needs. My reactions in this situation are 100% batshit crazy and illogical.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:27 AM
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77: No advice that sounds like it's well-fitted to the kinds of reactions you're having. I do have (or at least have had in the past) a nasty tendency to get proprietary about male friends, which makes me at least internally sniffy and cross when they show up with girlfriends (in my case, it's about a subconscious belief that I have been unable to root out that anyone who I'm fond of should be pining wistfully after me, even if (a) I have no romantic designs on them because I'm happily married, and (b) I probably wouldn't even if I wasn't. I really haven't emotionally advanced past middle school.) What I try to do is go straight to being warmly affectionate with the new girlfriend -- "I think X is great, X is dating you so he thinks you're great, you must be awesome! Let's braid each other's hair now!" This works okay for me, but it's not quite the same reaction you're having at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:29 AM
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Does the post make more sense to anyone if you think about bad outcomes as under your own control or not? That is, when I'm thinking about my own life, I tend to think that anything that's gone wrong is entirely my own responsibility and under my own control -- I could have worked harder, or made more sensible choices, or whatever. And going forward, how well my life is likely to turn out is also going to be a function mostly of my own choices and efforts.

This is not how I think of it at all. It's not the things under my own control I'm worried about, it's the things that aren't. (Cancer, accidents.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:29 AM
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fill a different need. Jesus, AWB. Panic attacks are bad for typing.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:29 AM
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I think you should just explain why you don't want to meet her, more or less as you've done here. He could think you're crazy, although you sound like you're thinking the friendship is effectively over anyway. Or, he could react positively. Hard to say. But honesty seems like your best bet.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:32 AM
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86: I've tried imagining befriending her, but it's hard. From all descriptions, she's as little like me as it is possible to be. Those are the ones that, in my experience, sting the worst. You're throwing over our friendship for a bossy non-academic who wants you to change yourself completely so that you'll be an appropriate father for her children? Oh good. I'm so happy for you, now that I've heard you make disparaging comments about your body because she'd like you to lose a few pounds.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:33 AM
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Surely the solution to 77 is to preƫmptively destroy the relationship, possible by making a big scene while meeting the new GF. Take control of the situation! Be the master of your own fate.

If you don't have the good sense guts sociopathy to do that, the only real approach I can think of (aside from arranging to keep the whole thing brief and basically withdraw while it's happening) would be to more or less acknowledge the situation and awkwardly joke about it. I mean, that's not good, but at least everyone will understand why you're being weird, and possibly the jokes will help defuse some of your anxiety. It doesn't sound like talking yourself into handling it "well" is in the cards, so I think you're at "plan for awkwardness/disaster."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:35 AM
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Panic attacks

Not sure if this is a good fit for you at all, but it's a lot easier for me to be compassionate and sensible in emotionally difficult circumstances when I'm meditating regularly. Ever tried it?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:36 AM
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Oh, 90 sounds awful. Keep making excuses or be honest as you've been here, but do not get closer to this person and her collection of stuffed animals.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:40 AM
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AWB: Whether or not you meet the girlfriend, you and this friend are on unstable grounds.

You should somewhat harden your heart and withdraw emotionally. If he decides he'd like to keep the intimacy with you, he can earn it back over time by being trustworthy with his intimacy and time, but it is reasonable for you to be a bit guarded until proven otherwise.

If you're steeled and hardened, then the actual meeting of the girlfriend is not a trigger in the same way, because you're already processing the underlying loss.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:41 AM
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Surely the solution to 77 is to preƫmptively destroy the relationship

Sadly, this is sort of the path I've been taking for the past nine months. It seems clear that he's thrown himself into friendships with other people with whom he feels comfortable talking about her, and whenever she comes up in conversation with those people, I change the subject. He emailed six of us to plan a dinner with the girlfriend tomorrow night, and, after everyone sent their emails about how thrilled they are to meet this wonderful exciting person, I declined. (I really do have a conflict.) He wrote back to say that he will re-schedule around my conflict. I say thanks for thinking of me, but I'm really busy this week. I probably owe him an explanation and an apology. But right now the thought of doing so makes me intensely physically ill.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:43 AM
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I think you should sleep with him now, so that you will be justified in feeling jealous of her.

Or you could take the less emotionally destructive route and listen to HBGB.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:54 AM
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90: If she's (objectively) shitty, then that really changes things. At that point, you need to think in terms of how to be supportive in a way that, if/when he figures out he was wrong, the door is open to refriending*. But the friendship, istm, is already moribund.

*this was basically what I had to do when my HS BF, with whom I was still very close at the time, married this horrible woman. I didn't meet her until 2 days before the wedding at which I was to be best man, and all of his friends had already told him she sucked, so all I could do was shrug and bide my time. He did in fact reconnect after the marriage was over.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 9:55 AM
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In my experience, there is no bar so low that friends won't celebrate the new girlfriend. The last time this happened, my friend met some random fucking woman while on a vacation abroad and then decided to illegally emigrate to her country to be with her. Everyone was clapping and cheering about how insanely romantic it all was, and I was like, WTF? Are you joking? This is horrible. Why should I celebrate the loss of one of my closest friends to a situation that sounds objectively miserable? And when I visited him there and met her, she was far worse than I'd imagined--dumb and shallow, constantly criticizing him and trying to get me to chum it up with her about what a loser he is. It was horrible.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:00 AM
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Heebie is saying what I'm thinking.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:00 AM
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98.last is exactly the woman my BF married (also: not attractive. She had literally nothing going for her). The whole wedding party was talking about how awful she was (except for her family, of course, which thought my friend wasn't good enough for her).

What a shitshow.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:02 AM
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98: I think the deal is that everyone assumes that in a conflict between a new romance and an old friend, the new romance always wins, and that truly terrible romantic relationships tend not to last. So any actual intentional expression of negativity about the new romance is either reserved for when the new partner seems genuinely likely to steal his kidneys for transplant, or at least saved for when she's no longer exciting and new.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:04 AM
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I think that before you decide that she's totally unworthy of your friend and this is a hideous mistake that will end your friendship forever, you should definitely at least meet this woman. She might be quite nice.

But the idea that she's horrible doesn't seem to be a big part of the problem: the main part of the problem seems to be that if your friend is spending time with the love of his life, then that's a huge waste of time that he should be spending with YOU. Which is not really defensible.
And, if you refuse to meet this woman at all and take a "her or me" view, then that's going to make it much more likely that the situation really will be "her or you". Whereas if you meet her and get on well with her, all three of you can hang out, and, you know, problem solved, because you've gained a friend rather than losing one.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:08 AM
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100: This one was extremely unattractive, too. A part of me genuinely hoped that she was a knockout, at least. I could get being wrapped up in the drama of the affair because she's amazingly hot or crazy in the sack or something, but apparently she has to be begged for sex, too.

The thing that both of these friends have in common that might be part of the triggering thing is that they both love to make other people happy, and our friendships grew out of increasing intimacy in which they allowed me to be nice to them and support them in return, and we talked about how new that was for them. But what gratifies them most in relationships seems to be taking direction. This one told me once while we were at a concert that he was sorry if his loud clapping bothered me. I made a quizzical face, and he explained that his last girlfriend told him that the way he claps makes her ragey. Also, the way he laughs, and the way he dresses, and the way he eats, and the way he sits, and... The new girl apparently has a lot of "preferences" too, and he'll refer quite casually to not buying milk anymore, even though she's not visiting, because she's lactose intolerant. And then he smiles this little "Aren't I a good boy?" smile. Basically, I don't understand relationships like this at all.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:09 AM
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Which is not really defensible.

I do not think my behavior in this situation is defensible. I would love to meet her and be glad to do so. I meditate on the possibility that she is wonderful. And then she comes up in conversation or something and I have to leave or puke in public. 100% batshit.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:11 AM
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If it's that bad -- the problem is that you're literally unable to suck it up and be friendly to her -- I don't think you've got a better option than avoiding the situation. If you've got the kind of relationship where you can explain to the friend that you're having a batshit panicky reaction to the existence of his girlfriend, and that you'd love to meet her sometime in the future when you get over it, or never if never works for him, then you could do that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:18 AM
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"I'm so happy for you, now that I've heard you make disparaging comments about your body because she'd like you to lose a few pounds."

As long as she's not the one making the disparaging remarks, I don't see how just having that preference makes her awful. Or wanting him to be a good father to her kids, or being bossy. Not that AWB said any of these things made her awful. But other people seem to be leaping to that conclusion.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:20 AM
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106: What I know intellectually is that many people enjoy relationships in which they receive criticism. They want someone to want them to be better than they are, not just love them for themselves. It's a brutal emotional experience for someone who loves the person as they are to watch them tie themselves in knots for some new person in their life, even if that tying in knots is deeply gratifying to the friend. Maybe he wanted a reason to lose weight, or to give up dairy. It doesn't match anything I've heard him say about himself, but the gratification comes from doing it for someone else. It's difficult to watch that process from the outside.

But it's also true that I have resented this relationship since the moment he told me it existed. He got really drunk at lunch, which he never does, and then told me. He knew I'd be awful about it, and I knew I'd be awful about it, so, rather than do what I did with my other friend and tell him to his face how much I resented it, I decided to keep my fucking mouth shut whenever she comes up. I think maybe the best way to handle this is to explain the situation as accurately as I can, minus all of my speculative hatred of her.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:29 AM
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What I know intellectually is that many people enjoy relationships in which they receive criticism. They want someone to want them to be better than they are, not just love them for themselves.

Insecure people seek these out, because the critic validates the insecure person's insecure beliefs. It's a form of not-joining-a-club-that-would-have-me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:33 AM
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Never mind the friend. Feeling physically revolted is exhausting and miserable. Can you get some therapeutic (either formally or informally) help to support YOU and find your way to a calmer place about this for your own sake alone?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:34 AM
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AWB - may I go out on a limb? It sounds like you would actually prefer a friendship with a commitment. Not necessarily with this person, but if this is a pattern, then with someone. It could be a physical/romantic relationship or not, but it sounds like you've got an unmet need for an intimate commitment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:35 AM
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108: Ugh, that's so what annoys me about it in him. He's the most self-assured-seeming person I've ever met. Now I'm wondering if that was just a way of processing his last breakup, which happened just before we met, and the six previous years of being wrong about everything. He got in a year of delighting in doing whatever he wants all the time, and now he's got the confidence to absorb someone else's opinions again.

The first time he brought up wanting me to meet her was about six months ago. He said he knows he has terrible taste in women and he wanted me to meet her and be honest. That's when I said I didn't think I could be fair because I don't think anyone is good enough for him. He kept insisting that's a good thing to have in a friend. But it's not fair, I said, for someone who is only going to be in your life for a short time to have an opinion about your love life.

At that time, I mentioned about being terrible at meeting friends' girlfriends, so it's not a new idea. But it's getting to the point that my behavior borders on cruelty.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:38 AM
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I don't think it has to be about insecurity. As 107.1 says, it can just be about finding someone who will encourage you to change your own least favorite qualities. I know I find it more natural to change my behavior for another person than for myself.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:41 AM
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He said he knows he has terrible taste in women

That seems like an odd thing to say shortly after starting a new relationship (with a woman).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:43 AM
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105 is about right. I don't see an option here other than telling him what's going on and then getting some space. It's not clear to me that you are going to be able to stay friends with him in the short term until you work things out on your end, not least because it's going to be very hard for him to explain to his girlfriend what's going on with you. He may know you well enough to understand the irrationality, but she's not going to and is going to assume you want to date him yourself.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:43 AM
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112: AWB describes it as "tying the person up in knots". That's not a happy thing.

OTOH, this friend might be exaggerating to get a rise out of AWB. People like to kvetch to someone who takes them seriously.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:43 AM
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But it's not fair, I said, for someone who is only going to be in your life for a short time to have an opinion about your love life.

Huh. I do think Heebie's got a point. He asked for your input, and you wouldn't give it because your relationship with him wasn't important enough that you should have a voice in his love life, but now you're having panic attacks over his love life? I'm not telling you anything you haven't said already when I say that this sounds self-contradictory. But it specifically sounds like you're seriously conflicted about how much emotional weight and importance friendships like this one have for you, and that you might really want to explore how to develop some kind of emotionally committed relationship in a way that works for you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:44 AM
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109: This is much needed. Therapy options here are extremely limited, but the time has come when I just can't do it on my own anymore.

110: This is probably true. I hate dyads, either in my own life or in friends' lives, but the thing that makes the most sense to me in life is the faith that my friends will be always be there for me and that I can still be meaningful to them no matter what else is going on. I think he has tried to show me that he will still be there for me, girlfriend or no, and I've rejected that offer.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:44 AM
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AWB!

(It's weird to recognize how much the internet substitutes for actually getting to see people I miss.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:47 AM
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Smearcase!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:49 AM
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to more or less acknowledge the situation and awkwardly joke about it.

I tried this once a long time ago and it actually worked ok. Everyone knew it wasn't a joke and everyone laughed because I'd phrased it as a joke and it gave us all an out.

We used to call this kind of friend a deserter. They are the lousiest, especially if they were inconsiderate enough to be a really good friend before they got entirely devoured by their new relationship.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:53 AM
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I'm the deserter, though! This is all my fault.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:54 AM
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A nice cover of "Untouchable Face."

I don't have much to add, except that this is an emotionally wrenching sub-thread to read, and I wish I could offer something helpful, but it just sounds like a difficult situation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:58 AM
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I have to go do my job now, but thanks for the thoughts and good wishes, everyone. It's pretty obvious that I need to explain myself and end what must be painful speculation about my behavior. This friend is aware that I am an emotionally fragile person sometimes, and I think I haven't trusted him to deal with this much crazy head-on, when all evidence suggests that he's actually pretty great at dealing with my craziness head-on.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 11:04 AM
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123 definitely sounds like the best course of action - from what you've said I'm sure he will understand.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 11:07 AM
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Yup, agree with 123. Better to just put it all out there in this situation. Good luck.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 11:11 AM
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103.2 overlaps with a lot of what my relationship with BOGF was, or became. I'll never forget, in the first month or two of my relationship with AB, me relating some casual way in which BOGF had been shitty and/or I had been accommodating, and AB responding with horror at BOGF and sympathy for me.

It didn't start that way, though; it was the dysfunctional way things became. None of my other relationships have had that character at all. I think there's a type of person who spots someone who "love[s] to make other people happy" and recognizes it as an opportunity to have a servant. Letting someone do you a favor is in some ways more powerful than doing them a favor.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 12:28 PM
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Yeah, part of my hangup about this person is that he's one of the few people I've ever allowed to help me when I needed it. He took me to surgery and sat with me that night to make sure I was OK, because I had told him how terrified I was. I don't express vulnerability well because people usually run from me when I do. My vulnerability is not appealing. I think my shitty attitude comes from fear that he's busy worrying about someone else's petty little needs, even though she criticizes him, while I offer my deepest respect and gratitude. Hmph.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 12:34 PM
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Yeah, 123 and then 109 as soon as you can find a compatible pshrink. Best wishes.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 12:42 PM
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My vulnerability is not appealing.

Eh, no-one's is, though. Except Audrey Hepburn.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 12:53 PM
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129 c'est moi.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 12:53 PM
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We used to call this kind of friend a deserter. They are the lousiest, especially if they were inconsiderate enough to be a really good friend before they got entirely devoured by their new relationship.

There's a balance to walk here, though, otherwise this sentiment devolves into "bros before hos".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:00 PM
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As 107.1 says, it can just be about finding someone who will encourage you to change your own least favorite qualities.

Exactly. It's like playing sports: you get better by playing with people at a higher level than you.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:04 PM
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IM(limited)E, someone who berates their partner's (alleged) shortcomings isn't the new Bear Bryant. I think it's a hell of a lot more common that the goal is being shitty, not making the other person super-awesome.

"Teacher says I'm stupid."
"She must really want to help you get smarter!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:08 PM
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It's not that partners never help improve each other; it's that, when that's the case, the helped doesn't phrase it as "X thinks I'm too fat." It's more like, "I've been wanting to lose weight for awhile, and X has totally gotten me on track with a better diet and exercising together."

I think it's usually pretty obvious from one's friend's phrasing and intonation whether it's the former or the latter.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:11 PM
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AWB, everyone's already said the right things and I hope it helps.

I am such a horrible friend right now for anyone who's not willing to do a lot of our connection online. I've lost several friends recently because they're mad at Lee about various things or vice versa, and that's been hard. I wish I had people I could rely on, but I'm not in a great place to be able to be relied-upon enough to have earned it. I started making a new friend after Mara came home and then got busy with her and am still embarrassed about that. Ugh, I hate this and it's so self-defeating, but I can't just schedule something and know that the people who need to be behaving appropriately for me to be able to leave the house will be doing so, and that's not a good dynamic for friendliness.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:11 PM
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134 is right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 1:50 PM
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As for the original topic, I think Douglas Adams and George Carlin had a formative influence on me, for better or for worse. The world is a terrible, screwed-up place, and it might never get better, but at least (a) your own life and those of the people you care about might still turn out fine, and (b) a lot of the horrible stuff can be funny if looked at in the right light.

AWB, I don't have any new helpful advice, but good luck.

Thorn, I hesitate to ask, but you've really lost friends because they're mad at Lee or vice versa? Is this over one bad situation, or multiple?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:07 PM
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137: She has cut multiple people out of her life lately while she's been having a hard time and generally being intolerant. In most cases, I've been able to keep up my side of the friendship to some degree, but it's hampered by that dynamic.

Right now I'm cranky because I had friends promise to call me to go hiking this weekend and then their hiking pictures were all over facebook but they never got in touch with me and it's not the first time they've done it, and so I suspect (based on things they've said about what I should do with my life and arguments they've had with Lee) it's that if I am single I can hang out with them again but otherwise not. Or it could just be that they're super flakey, which is also part of it. I'm just so tired of asking to hang out and being put off and then ignored and never having anything happen.

But Lee has taken an all-or-nothing approach where if she feels people have "turned on" her by challenging her about various parenting things (like this couple said they'd no longer hang out with her if it meant she was leaving me home with the kids, because they thought she was doing it too much and it was unfair) she's just cutting them off completely. I think she's starting to warm back up to the person she used to consider a best friend, but it's not really clear and I'm sure things won't be the same for them there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:13 PM
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137.2: Having a friendship cool or extinguish because of a conflict between them and your spouse is hardly an unheard of event, no?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:18 PM
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I think we've all cost our spouse a friend or two by making too many Hitler jokes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:47 PM
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I started making a new friend after Mara came home and then got busy with her and am still embarrassed about that.

This could mean a couple of different things.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:52 PM
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"Hey Janice, you and the wife have been friends for years. You know what's hilarious? Hitler was totally right!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 2:58 PM
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To be fair, it's possible Hitler was right about all sorts of things. Right way to slice an onion. Always leaving a gap urinal between you and the next guy. Reliable at giving directions.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:04 PM
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143: Plus, he killed Hitler.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:09 PM
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But he also killed the guy that killed Hitler.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:10 PM
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Reliable at giving directions.

Go East, young man! And die with your boots on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:11 PM
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Stupid recursive Hitler.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:22 PM
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Spartacus & the Trung Sisters, Wat Tyler & Nat Turner, Bhagat Singh and Subcommandante Elisa

Those are some great band names.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 3:30 PM
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141: Good point! I met this woman through the wacky potluck the other mentioned friends hosted and we hit it off and went out to dinner and talked for hours and promised to lend each other books next time and I even bought and loved one she'd written, but I couldn't get my act together enough to get over to see her again and then too much time passed and I felt bad, because she'd talked about how frustratingly hard it is to make friends around here. And that was over three years ago, and I don't know that I've exactly made any new friends. Other people in the potluck group like me and respect my thoughts on how to raise kids, for whatever reason since I'm pretty much the least-experienced parent, but I'm not considered fun enough to get invited along when they do things, though Lee used to be prior to the falling-out.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 4:05 PM
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You know who else didn't get invited places by your potluck group? Hitler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 4:18 PM
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Three people who've never been in Thorn's kitchen: Hitler, Hitler's killer, and Hitler's killer's killer Dom DeLuise.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 5:05 PM
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Politics thread, right? Edward Snowden apparently holed up in Saul Goodman's office.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:01 PM
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Back on topic:

31: Does the post make more sense to anyone if you think about bad outcomes as under your own control or not? That is, when I'm thinking about my own life, I tend to think that anything that's gone wrong is entirely my own responsibility and under my own control -- I could have worked harder, or made more sensible choices, or whatever. And going forward, how well my life is likely to turn out is also going to be a function mostly of my own choices and efforts.

On the other hand, if I look at other people's lives, largely, when they're in bad situations, I can see plenty of reasons why it's not their fault, starting from broad socioeconomic factors and ending with random streaks of bad fortune

I'm not sure this helps to make the post or thread make more sense to me: I'm finding it somewhat bewildering. I mean, for many, many people, things are not going to be alright, often due to circumstances beyond their control. Sure. Whereas if you have money and a support network, things might well be alright. So we're talking about a double-think that's experienced by people who are personally reasonably financially secure and who are chiefly considering whether things are going to be alright in the aggregate, for humankind or a given nation? But then why the discussion of considering yourself to be exceptional? Is this about whether things are going to be alright for you? For for other people? Or in the aggregate?

I am confused.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:17 PM
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I am confused.

In the last chapter, Dumbledore explains it all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:28 PM
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Okay. From the OP:

Or you can just realize that you must live as though everything will be okay, but not actually believe that in general. This also only works to some extent.

You can realize that things will probably be okay for you and yours, more or less (because of financial security), but that it will not be for any number of other people.

I don't see a paradox or contradiction in that thinking. That's what's been puzzling me, I guess.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:28 PM
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153 -> .


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 6:30 PM
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That's cryptic, JP.

Anyway, I deal with it by compartmentalizing. Yes, there are entire, large communities of people living out of landfills; sometimes they're filled with toxic waste from the first world, and they scavenge; and yes, even in the developed world there are a lot of people who can't afford health care, and who die from a toothache; and yes, there are a lot of people who live in shanty towns.

Of course those of us who don't live in those circumstances can't think about it every day; I just don't translate my "I can't think about that right now, I have to go to work" as "Everything will be okay." We're in circumstances whereby, or wherein, we're compelled to narrow our focus. I blame capitalism, obviously.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 7:20 PM
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The range of human condition is much larger than the range of human emotional state. What one person sees as "everything turned out OK", someone else sees as mind-boggling luxury, and someone else sees as intolerable poverty.

Doesn't mean global warming isn't going to kill us all, sadly.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 03-10-14 10:27 PM
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Hey, are you the same Jake who used to comment here years ago?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:57 AM
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If so, welcome back! If not, welcome!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:57 AM
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NMM to Bob Crow. (tbh, I always quite fancied him. Rather sad.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 4:57 AM
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Yes it is sad. While George Osborne lives on...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:10 AM
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161: apparently when he got to A&E, the nurses refused to treat him unless he paid them four grand each. So really it's his own fault for being so intransigent and refusing even to discuss their very reasonable demands.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:12 AM
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I should re-up my appeal for anyone who can find a particular photo of him in his favourite Yves Klein-blue, Bradley Wiggins x Fred Perry shirt, so I can do the blog post I was promising.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:16 AM
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http://i2.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article3123918.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/RMT-Union-leader-Bob-Crow-3123918.jpg

this one?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:40 AM
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Not that I'm eating my lunch whilst perving over a dead man.

163 - snigger.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:42 AM
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165: Precisely wrong - the shirt is the right design but wrong colour, and the image I'm looking for shows him against a huge parliamentary-looking bookcase.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 5:58 AM
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Blue seems quite Yves Klein-y? Although I just realised I was thinking about Yves Saint Laurent after I saw the photo, after a train of memories sparked by the mention of Rive Gauche yesterday. How odd. Ok, bookcases.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 6:14 AM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Klein_Blue

that said, I think the hue was actually what Fred's calls enamel blue.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 7:23 AM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Klein_Blue

that said, I think the hue was actually what Fred's calls enamel blue.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 7:28 AM
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Re: earlier discussion

http://www.theonion.com/articles/boyfriend-can-really-envision-losing-his-sense-of,34550/


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:31 PM
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To my earlier comments, the friend apologized for flaking as usual, reassured me it was nothing personal, and is willing to try again later this month. We'll see.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:37 PM
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Find out where they're going in advance and stalk inadvertently run into them if they don't invite you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:51 PM
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And if they aren't totally gracious about it unload the full Dustin Hoffman/Midnight Cowboy on them. "I'm hiking here!" (Bangs on some foliage) "I'm hiking here." Or a menacing Frank Booth/Blue Velvet " Let's hit the fuckin' trail! We're going with our neighbor on a hike! Let's get on with it!"

Something like that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-14 12:58 PM
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