Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Just Remember: Half the Shit You Worry about doesn't Happen Anyway." John Kelly, High School Teacher, Vietnam Veteran, & African American

If I were a woman, I would just change my status on Facebook to "Elise Beter1 says, 'Bitch, we could all see your hair. You didn't have to tell us about it." and that's all that would be said about the transformative "do" my professor got Wednesday or Tuesday.
If I were a man, I'd be less anxious about emasculation caused by ruminating over hairstyles and doing so in a semi-public forum. 2
But I am what I am, so I merely wonder if it's better to let the visual "speak" for itself or say something quasi-self-depreciating like "I got this haircut and this real job and neither of them are parted on the right side. If I fidget a bit then you can ignore the hand motions." Hypothetically, "For the next two minutes, comments regarding the awesomeness of my haircut are no longer taboo" was also an option, but it wasn't the route I would have taken. I prefer to work through understatements and the occasional explicit declaration for contrast but, with exceptional aesthetic decisions, rules seem to defy themselves.

The Plastic Brain
I don't understand the purpose of regret. Or at least how regret has come to exist from an evolutionary perspective. Perhaps the existence of regret is proof of intelligent design. My initial impulse is to say that regret is sadness deferred. Pain is a sensible evolutionary response to bad decisions. Pain remembered is nostalgia. Nostalgia seems reasonable. I can wrap my head around nostalgia as an intellectual response to pain, that knowledge of pain creates nostalgia and if not for nostalgia then pain is meaningless/just an alarm system. Without our memories, we would just be specialized goldfish flopping about in a new environment. It would appear obvious that sadness and regret are merely pain and nostalgia for the emotional set, but I'm not happy with that.
Humans are pleasure-seeking things. Or beings if you don't want to be a thing. And you can call pleasure food, shelter, companionship, and warmth if you want. We're willing to suffer pain to get these things and, I don't care what Hobbes says, if we could get enough of all of them we'd never leave our shelters except to kidnap plumbers from their infinitely stocked shelters because spoilage, I hate to admit it, Mr. Hobbes, applies to everything.
But why is happiness so complex? Or why has it been made so complex. It's occurred to me this is not an evolutionary response but a, I dare say, psychological response. The mind creates these concepts of Happiness, Sadness, and Regret, most likely in that order. My inevitable conclusion is that we should all have lobotomies. Or perhaps we should focus less on why we were sad when we could have been happy and how that happened. So your earth-moving, I-read-this-and-here's-my-revelation moment is:
Regret is a stupid invention.
I'm glad I wrote it out.
You should be glad you read it.

College is for the Fauna
I dropped out of college.3 Fable 3 came out Wednesday. I want to buy it and play it at least three times, which I suspect will take a week of my life or one month were I still enrolled in classes. Also, I'm anticipating the release of FALLOUT 3 which is, to be perfectly honest, the only post-apocalyptic video game franchise that matters. Compounding the excitement I'm feeling about Fallout and it's release is the fact that it's being developed by Bethesda Studios, which also developed the Elder Scrolls series of RPGs.. (Fallout is a series of post-apocalyptic RPGs) To be brief, this game will either be really good or heartbreakingly bad and several other someones will be very angry about it. 4

1It is my suspicion that Elise is the female equivalent to Elliot. However, my mom decided I should be named Elliot while watching E.T.(Yes, I am really Elliot, like from E.T.) My mother, knowing I was an in utero girl, could have been compelled to name me Gertie Beter or Mary. Or lacking any serious compulsion to give me a new name, I could have been named Gladys after my father's grandmother. (Little known fact: It is only due to the maternity ward determination of my mother that my name is not Thomas N. Beter III) I'm sure there's a list of other names they had in mind...
2Best in Communication Redux: Bathroom Stall Graffiti (First floor McPhereson)- "Whatever! I'll grunt when I shit if I want to. You've decided to use a semi-public shitter and you're going to listen to every "plop" and "guh" I can muster, or you can get a taxi and GO HOME!" I often assert ridiculous things. For instance: Modern males live in a constant state of emasculation. But, you know, I feel entitled to statements like that with when we live in an anonymous world. Maybe Internet 2.0 changed that, but it still reflects a world of cars that cut you off, faceless corporate employment made possible by faceless government, and alienating anonymous images. And maybe it's a cycle. Maybe the environment of anonymity produces alienation and statements like the one reproduced above are inevitable, but it's my intuition that there's more. That there's something holding men back. (No not economically or socially, just, like, devolepmentally) I mean, media directed at men is great for reinforcing masculine gender roles. (Speaking of such, we should admit now that I have a bias. Action movies, comic books, and video games [at least the action-y ones] are for men. Monster wasn't, but look at how that ended. Wasn't an action movie either. Grindhouse?) So imagine men, with these articulated examples of masculinity like James Bond, Superman, and John McClane, (Casual Sex, Monogamy, and Serial Monogamy, if you prefer) experiencing these transient moments of manliness only to return to work or the world at large.
3Not really.
4 Okay, so here's the thing. Morrowind and Oblivion are these great games developed by Bethesda where the player gets to customize (seriously, from a lot of options) a character and make their character run all of this damn digital world. You can kill demons and talk to people and steal from those same people you can be a hero or a heel or whatever. There's a lot of shit to do. And if that sounds fun, you probably knew what I was talking about when I described the game as an RPG, but here's another thing: talking to characters in Morrowind and Oblivion is really, really repetitive because (a) there's a lot of characters to talk to(b) there are not a lot of voice actors and (c) there are not a lot of people writing dialogue. And aside from the hyper-violence and 1950's aesthetic of Fallout, what I really liked about the series was the humor. It was vulgar and morbid and obliquely socially critical. You could shovel shit and make $100. It was the easiest quest in the game. If you did it three times in a row you got a title "shit shoveler." No benefits. You weren't stronger or a better bullshitter, but people didn't run from you either.


Angel said...

I really like "The Plastic Brain." I like what you say about regret. I think about regret. Consider it. Wonder about it. Yup. I liked that bit.

Sara said...

"I got this haircut and this real job and neither of them are parted on the right side. If I fidget a bit then you can ignore the hand motions."

This made me laugh out loud. Well written!