Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thai Women Part VIII

Part eight in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts one, two, three, four, five, six and seven are here.

So let’s take this back to the Thai women who inspired this whole series of reflections. Any Americans who thought they were going to sleep with some hot Thai police ladies simply because they flirted heavily through two weeks of class with them were disappointed (I hope) because they still didn’t have that emotional context. Those girls might have been giggly and girly, and they might have been sending all the signals. Some might even have been head over heels in whatever-you-want-to-call-it (I would be loath to use the word “love” for something that grows over a two week seminar). But regardless of any infatuation, there was something else at work. To put it into context I thought about what it would be like for a group of women in America to get a two week class from a bunch of foreign men (insert nationality of choice here) with great builds, exotic looks, and exciting accents, ready to flirt at the drop of a handkerchief. Don’t tell me there wouldn’t be a flutter of giggling, flirting, gossiping and a few scattered sighs. But I very much doubt the majority of these women would sleep with their foreign instructors, and I’m quite certain they would be the first to condemn any of their colleagues who did.

The women were not simply speaking another language (I am speaking of the language of their actions, not the Thai language.) They were speaking the same language with different meanings. When they shrieked and sighed over our white skin and muscles, they were speaking the same language as the guys when they commented approvingly on the women’s faces and shapes. But with the guys the thought process went something like: “Wow, she’s a hot, exotic looking Thai chick. Let’s have sex.” There requires no mental or emotional gymnastics, no process of consideration, just A à B. It makes sense to us. (Yes, despite my moral and mental and even emotional repugnance to that philosophy, I still speak it fluently. I follow it with no trouble at all.)

With the women the thought process was very different. “Wow, he’s a hot, exotic looking American guy,” yields a whole plethora of possible responses ranging from, “Wow, fluttery feelings!” to “I should get a picture with him and put it on facebook. My girlfriends would totally freak!” to “I bet I could get him to come over here just by batting my eyes.” Mixed in with all of that is the realization that, “Yeah, he’s cute, but I’m going back to my unit in two weeks and he is going back to America.”

Same language (laughing, giggling, flirting, showing off the body just a little) but with a totally different meaning. Some of the guys could at least observe that the meanings were different, and some simply continued to interpret everything based on their own assumptions.

The male model is a lot less work for sure. The female model requires, or at least assumes, that there will be time, and a lot of it. A lifetime in fact, is nearly always the hope, at least subconsciously. Trust is an intrinsic component of it, not just trust in the man that he won’t beat her or leave her, but trust that he will love her, trust in herself that she can love him, and trust in the relationship that it will be worth fighting for. Trust does not happen overnight. It takes time, and once established it isn’t permanent. It may take years of patience really to win a woman’s heart and then it can be lost in one act of betrayal. It has to be actively sought after and maintained for the duration of the relationship. This reality is so foreign to the male thought process that most men, I suspect, never learn it.

I believe it is worth it, though. Those who never learn it will never know what they missed by not learning to listen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thai Women, Part VII

Part seven in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts one, two, three, four, five and six are here.
I’ve been working on a new theory of the psychology of women. Don’t exit the page, please. Have a good laugh, and then read the rest of the post.
What the adolescent male of any age cannot understand is the need of the feminine mind for context. He understands it in the tactical sense, if he is smart, meaning that he observes the signs and patterns and can come up with strategies to manipulate or bypass those patterns. Essentially he views the particularly feminine part of female sexuality as an obstacle to be overcome, rather than as a complement and balance to his own sexuality.
Context is the word I am using right now to describe the complex psychological and emotional reality that I observe surrounding the behavior of women, sexually. To put it in the simplest terms, in order for a man to get a woman to agree to have sex with him he must create a context in which it makes sense to her, not simply intellectually, but emotionally and even subconsciously. Men don’t really need this. In the male brain, sexually attractive female (whatever he has been conditioned to believe that is) = all the context I need. Women are not naturally like that. This is not to say that they cannot become like that. In fact, a good number of men spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that women do become like that.
I believe this need for context springs from a natural sense of self-worth. To observe it, however, you usually have to go back a long ways, right to the beginning of womanhood, and even before. A little girl instinctively believes in her own worth. All little girls know that they are princesses. No one has to tell them this for them to act like it. It doesn’t matter whether she is a girly-girl or a tomboy, she believes instinctively in her own inherent value. Unfortunately this belief is a fragile thing. It can be affirmed, or it can be exaggerated and blown out of proportion, or it can be destroyed. Usually, however, a good portion of it remains into the teen years in all but the worst cases. With puberty it becomes entangled with overt sexual urges, especially in middle and high-schools in our society in which it is almost impossible for a girl to escape being judged primarily as a sexual object.
This inherent sense of worth, in its most natural state, tells the young woman that she is not an object to be used for someone else’s pleasure. She, of course, has her own urges and desires, but mixed with the purely physical desire (which I have no qualifications to judge) is that intuitive grasp of her own worth and the instinctive fear of being used, or of using someone else. Like it or not, for women self-image and sexuality are inescapably linked. In order for her to want to give herself physically there has to be a surrounding emotional context in which the man’s treatment of her squares with her own view of her own worth.
Now, that is a very important point. It explains how context works, both for the true use, and for those who abuse it by using it as a tactical advantage in a sex-war. A man can bring about this parity between his treatment and her self-image in one of two general ways:
1)    Either by affirming her worth and making her feel secure in the knowledge that he will guard her worth more fiercely and lovingly than she ever could.
2)    Or by degrading and tearing down her sense of her own worth until she feels that she deserves whatever kind of treatment he wants to dish out.
It is important to understand that either of these ways can achieve the end result of getting a woman in bed with you. All the man is doing is putting her self-image and his actions on the same level. It is also important to understand that #1 is not automatically virtuous. A man can lie in order to seem like he loves her and respects her, and then betray her. Or he might actually believe it, and then “fall out of love” with her later on. Either way his honesty is compromised, and the end result is likely to be a terrible blow to her self-esteem, but as regards method he still went by the affirmation route. In fact, I would say that is by far the most effective route, even for a total liar and scoundrel, simply because it bears some superficial, temporary resemblance to the real thing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thai Women, Part VI

Part six in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts one, two, three, four, and five are here.

There is insight to be had even in the abuse of a good thing. Those with most experience with that abuse should have the most insight, but it never works that way. You have to stand outside the abuse in order to understand it, which is precisely the opposite of virtue. You only really understand virtue from the inside.

But let’s think about that fantasy the “irresistible male” for a bit. What is really at the heart of it? Why is it so specifically a male fantasy? Well, it really is about projection. The man projects his own attitudes towards sex into the woman he is looking at, and then interprets her actions based on his attitude (women do the same thing). I mentioned in an earlier post the amount of work a high school jock has to do to overcome a girl’s natural resistance and get her to sleep with him. The only reason why this is surprising or frustrating to him is because he is assuming his own sexual instincts in a female body. (I am not, of course, trying to perpetuate the myth that women do not have sexual urges, or that they are not as strong as male sexual urges. In fact, the only reason this myth has come about is because we have interpreted “sexual urge” in overwhelmingly male terms.) If she really were a male mind in a female body there would be no problem. They would look at each other across the gym, nervously smile a few times, someone would break the ice, and then they would have sex.

The reality is that this does not happen. This should be all the evidence we need that women are wired differently than men, and yet we go on believing the myth of instant sexual gratification. The teenage jock, whether he is seventeen or seventy makes little difference, simply cannot understand this, because, never having told his genitals to shut up so he could listen, he still believes that women, deep down inside, really do think of sex the way he does. All he has to do is overcome all the guilt and hang-ups society has burdened her with and allow her inner slut to bloom forth and then she will be his for the taking. It may take a bit of effort, but not half as much effort as if he tried things on her terms. No matter how much work you have to put in to overcome a woman’s natural resistance to casual sex, it costs far less than love. Relationship is much more work.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekend Pics

I felt like taking a break from my post series on man-woman interraction (it was getting a bit heavy) and instead share some pics from last weekend.

Usually it takes me most of the weekend to catch up on all the things I have left undone over the week. Working my schedule doesn't leave a lot of time for grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, college, or blogging. These end up being weekend things.

This leaves me in the odd position of being nearly as busy on my Saturdays as I am every other day of the week. But last Sunday I managed to have everything accomplished that I needed to have accomplished, so I took a drive out to Sunnyside Beach.

I have seen Sunnyside sunny before. It is rare but it does happen.

Clearly the trash can is just too far away from the bench. Getting the trash from the bench to the can is definitely above and beyond the call of duty and the strength of mere mortals.

I like driftwood.

There is something awesome about gray days, when the wind comes whipping in off the sound, and no one wants to be out because it's raining. You have the whole place to yourself and you can just walk along the shore and listen to the waves.

It rains off and on all year in western Washington. Apart from the two or three months in the summer, the rest of the year is just one long punctuated shower. It can get dreary, but I don't mind it so much as long as I go out in it once in a while.

I love these poplars, so huge and majestic. They just stand so straight, like they are proud to be there.

I like trees in general. The older and bigger they are, the more I like them.

Perfect place for a pipe and a good book.

A pipe brings words to the lips of the wise, and shuts up the mouth of the fool. You'll notice I'm not talking.

Listen to the rain rain rain come down down down.

The trains go by pretty regularly. It's like they're on a schedule or something.

I love fog as well. And twilight (the time of day, not the book/movie). Foggy twilights have a special beauty all their own.

That ferry... Hmmmm... I might need to check that out some time. See where that goes.
Life is beautiful. Rainy days are beautiful. God is good. Sometimes it's important to remember things like that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thai Women: Part V

Part five in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts One, Two, Three, and Four are here.

The truth is that women simply don’t operate like that, for the most part. The more of a libertine you are, the more blatantly obvious that truth should be. After all, it should have become obvious in high school. The captain of the football team who has all the local beauties fighting over him might seem to be the irresistible male of legend, but he of all people should know better. He still has to put in the work. He has to argue, cajole, flatter, tease and wear down the girl’s resistance before he can get into her pants. The fantasy on one hand is that sheer masculine perfection is enough to conquer any reasonable woman in a few easy lines, or at most one evening of food and drinks. The observable experience of most men contradicts this, and they all lament the amount of work it takes to get a woman in bed with them, and yet the fantasy is still stronger than reality.


I think the answer is that it is a cover up for inadequacy and emptiness. The fantasy defines manhood as the ability to conquer a woman with little or no effort. The fact that woman don’t usually play by the same rules is seen as proof that they are weird or uptight about it, but the fantasy is never called into question. No matter how many times it fails it is still believed, partly because it is so all-pervasive and partly because it is so flattering to our egos.

My strongest experience with this comes from Afghanistan. At this point I no longer remember what exactly was going on, but I remember that I was having a bad day. A combination of loneliness, physical exhaustion, lack of sleep and inability to sleep (I don’t recommend the combination), left me feeling empty and worthless more than a few nights. When a phone call home failed for some reason that was always the worst, so I would usually go to the gym to work off the angst. I never really felt like working out at times like that, but it works if you can get into it. At least you sleep better. At any rate, on this particular night I walked into the gym and the first thing that met my eye across the room was a girl working out near the weight benches. She wasn’t bad looking. It’s not easy to make Army PT gear look sexy, but she was doing her best. She was wearing her army PT shirt with the sleeves rolled up inside, which is unauthorized, uncomfortable, and not easy to do, but it drew the front of the shirt tight across her ample chest. The reason I noticed her, however, was because at the exact moment I walked in, she looked up and saw me through the mirror. She made eye contact with a cold, kind of appraising look, pushed out her chest a little more, and started stretching her arms behind her back, all the while looking me dead in the eye. Perhaps I misjudged her at the time, but it seemed to me then that all I had to do was walk across the room and say “Hi”, and she would have had sex with me that night. I might have been quite wrong about that, but that was my automatic read of her.

Part of me was a little intimidated and disgusted, but a good part of me at the time was also intensely attracted. The part that was feeling empty and worthless instantly felt filled and validated by the idea that she had picked me, out of every guy at the gym, to flirt with (which was probably not true, by the way.) I was more disgusted by this attraction than by her action, and I went to another part of the gym to work out. When even there she kept watching and I kept half wanting her to watch, I cut my workout short and left.

The attraction, while a real phenomenon that I really experienced, was not a happy emotion. There was nothing happy in her face, and nothing happy in that magnetic attraction that I felt. It was not wholesome at all, but black, ugly and disgusting. I don’t know for certain, of course, but if I had to make a guess I would guess that her mood at that moment was an exact mirror for mine, and she was looking for the same validation that I was. Again, maybe I read her wrong, but that was my assessment. Perhaps I was projecting my own feelings into her actions. It’s always a danger when dealing with women, to interpret her actions in light of my assumptions. Whatever her story was (I never saw her again) what was suggested in my mind was not any kind of personal connection, and certainly not love or even a desire for love, but simply two empty people using each other to fill the emptiness. As I said, part of me, perhaps the most dominant part emotionally, was intrigued and attracted by that idea. Thank God, logic is almost always stronger in me than emotion. The whole analysis I’ve written down in this post was present in my mind at that moment, in at least a basic form, and I chose what logic dictated and walked out of the gym into the dark. I believe someone, somewhere was praying for me at that exact moment.

I suspect that this is the strongest reason why the fantasy persists. Things always work the way they were designed to work, and in moments of emptiness nothing props up a man’s flagging sense of self like a beautiful woman’s affection. Failing that, simulated affection will work in the short term. That’s just the nature of beast. No matter the reality of sin and mutual dishonesty, it will still make the partners feel validated, even if only for a moment, before that wears away and leaves the emptiness worse than before. It takes years and years of abuse and perversion before there is no longer even a hint of that validation left in the act. By then, we will have forgotten that it was ever there in the first place.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It finally came!

Two posts in one day? Crazy, I know, but I am geeking out right now! A Package awaited me on my doorstep this evening after work.

BWAAAAAA!!!!!! Mere cardboard cannot contain me!

There is too much awesomeness in this package for styrofoam! It cannot be contained!


I am big! (This should be read with a Russian accent.)

I had been expecting this for some time, a 58kg Kettlebell (127.6 lbs.) It is used so there are two large dents on the top of one side. It is not actually a solid block of iron. It is a cast iron shell around a ball of lead and you can feel the lead core shift slightly when you move it.

Even though I had just come from the gym, I had to try it out!

You must intimidate Kettlebell before you swing it. Kettlebell must know who is boss! (Again, if you don't read that with a Russian accent you are doing it wrong.)

Comrade, drive with hips, and then let kettlebell float rest of way. Do not raise with shoulders.

Solid posture, straight arms, my shoulders might be pulled a little too far forward.

If my face looks like I am in pain, it's only because I am. This was my first ever attempt at cleaning the 58kg KB. Could have been worse, but the press or jerk is a long way off.
It tried to get a video, but I didn't set up the camera right so it only showed me from about the shoulders down. I'll get a video this weekend probably.

Well, that's me geeking out. We now return to your regular programing.

Thai Women Part IV

Part four in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid.

Part One, Two and Three are here.

There is a fantasy that most SF guys have in which they are the stars of the show. They are confident, burly, suave sex-machines, oozing pure testosterone from every pore, deadly to women. The SF guy walks into a party, or a bar, or a classroom full of female students, and they all instantly want him. All he needs to do is lay down some of the never fail Special Forces charisma and she will be swooning in his arms. Then it’s off to the nearest room with a convenient horizontal surface, for a night he will probably not remember, and she will obviously never forget.

Of course this fantasy is not explicit (most of the time). I make it that way by describing it, but the reality is less a fantasy in the technical sense, than a general attitude. It shapes the way we treat women (I say “we” on purpose, because I acknowledge I am not immune from this fantasy). You see it in the tone of voice, the casually demeaning attitude, the mocking insults that are supposed to be accepted as backhanded compliments, simply because such a man deigned to notice her. Most of all it is evident in the dismissive “You’re no fun,” throwing off any girl who doesn’t follow the program. It is all in the attitude, which we call “Confidence,” or an “Alpha Male personality,” which is supposed to be irresistible to women. I have been examining this attitude, both in my peers and in myself and I have discovered two things about it. First, it has no basis in reality. Second, it comes from emptiness.

When I say that it has no basis in reality, I mean that it is a false view of women. That is not how real women behave. The fantasy of “irresistibility” is very powerful to both sexes, if I may be allowed to extrapolate from the covers of Cosmopolitan Magazine and other women’s magazines in supermarket checkouts. Both men and women are somewhat attracted to the idea of becoming “irresistible” to the opposite sex, but the fantasy of an “irresistible” man specifically is powerful to both sexes, I would say; more so than the irresistible woman, it seems. I don’t know many men who would really be interested in a woman who was truly irresistible. Most men would consider it incredibly damaging to their sense of manhood to be swept of their feet, while I know hardly any women who don’t desire to be swept away on some level. The irresistible man, therefore, is a powerful concept to both sexes. Men want to be him. Women want to be swept off their feet by him (if women’s novels and chick flicks are any indication.) But the fantasy has no basis in reality. Probably less than one man in a thousand has actually had the experience of walking into a room and automatically turning the heads of every woman in the place, and then having his pick of them sexually. Turn heads? Yes. Definitely possible. Sleep with them? Sorry, I just don’t buy it. That’s not how the vast majority of real women operate. Usually it is going to take at least some effort to win her favor, regardless of what the nature of that favor may be.

Yet the fantasy persists, and we men act as if we had that experience of magic sexual influence every day of our lives for years. We have never experienced it, yet we act as if we did. Hmm… Curious. And yet there is something familiar about the fantasy…

Of course! James Bond. Captain Kirk. Brad Pitt. That’s how women behave around them. They surrender to them with almost boring (yet Oh so enticing) predictability, especially Kirk. He only had forty-five minutes to get the babe, and he usually had her about half way through the episode. Then of course there are the pornos. That’s exactly how the girl in pornography behaves. She takes one look at the studly male character and that is all it takes. She instantly exists for no other purpose than to make all his dreams come true.

I have no research to back this up, but I’m willing to posit a direct causal relationship between media portrayals of female sexuality and the warped view of it that most men take for granted. We stick a male mind inside a female body, and call the result the norm. Any woman who doesn’t match up to that norm? Well, we have plenty of sneering names for her.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thai Women: Part III

Part  in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts one and two.
The conflict between the ethical reality of the instructor/student relationship and the tension of a mixed group of healthy young people is more than half imagined, I think. The women never had any illusions about their relationship to us, regardless of the amount of flirting they did. I did a lot of people-watching over the time I was there and I think that the American men were often laboring under a false impression of these women, and a falsely exaggerated sense of their own charm. The last night the students threw a party for us, and when we were going out to buy the beer two of the guys were talking about the female students in the van. One of them said, speaking about two of the girls, “I’m going to get both of those chicks naked tonight.”
The other guy said, “Oh I can pretty much guarantee that won’t happen.”
“Not going to happen. I guarantee it.”
In which he confirmed a theory of mine that I had been formulating (which I will explain in later posts). I don’t know whether he understood it the same way I did, but he came to the same conclusion, namely that no matter how much the girls giggled and batted their eyes and flirted and played coy, they had no intention of going any further than that. To think that they would was a serious error on the part of the American, an error to which all men, but sometimes it seems especially American men, are prone. We simply don’t listen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thai Women, Part II

Part two in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Part one is here.

There is a conflict of interests which is all but inevitable when you have a group of mid-to-late-twenties men teaching a class of pretty women, mostly in the same age category as their instructors. This is especially true if the men are all athletic, outgoing, stuffed to the gills with confidence bordering on arrogance (and usually ending up on the wrong side of the border) and very used to getting their own way. The Thai women, for their part, made no secret of the fact that they thought we were all handsome (there is a lot to be said for being a foreigner, in that regard. The man who would be just a face in a crowd in Tacoma is something exotic and mysterious in Thailand.) We are all larger and stronger than most Thai men, and our skin is white (for the Caucasians, at any rate). White skin is culturally prized in Thailand (and in a lot of other Asian cultures) in the same way that a smooth, perfect beach tan is prized in American culture.

The interactions between instructors and students were nearly always colored by this tension, even in my group to some extent. There was much veiled, and some not so veiled, flirting going on. The younger girls were the worst about it. They didn’t even bother to hide the fact that they were taking pictures of use, and trying to finagle pictures of themselves with us. Who knows how many Facebook albums we are stuck in now? (True story, one of my students posted a picture of herself moulaged up as the patient on Facebook, and that night one of her friends commented on it to ask if she was going to be alright. I guess I did a good job with the moulage.)

I wonder, though, whether these women knew how much and in what way their American instructors would speak about them behind their backs. Every detail of their persons was up for discussion, from relationship status, to personal hygiene, to what they would be like in bed. The girl who didn’t shave her legs was an especially frequent topic. None of this discussion was serious, it was all in a casual, flippant tone. Did anyone plan on sleeping with their students? No. Definitely not. But then again, you never know. Why would a team composed entirely of married men, or men in committed relationships (except for me, the only single man in the group) make such a point of bringing a tray of over 300 condoms to Thailand with us? Do we expect to cheat on our wives or girlfriends? No, certainly not, and that tray of condoms came back unopened. But just in case…

For their part, I know the women talked about us pretty freely. Taking refuge in the fact that none of us speak Thai they would discuss us to their hearts content right in front of us. (I may not speak Thai, but I read people pretty well and I got a pretty good idea of what they thought of us.) Sometimes the Americans would return the favor by speaking about them in English in front of them, forgetting that 1) most of the Thais speak at least a little broken English and 2) it only takes one word to clue listeners in. The word “Titties” for instance, even if it is the only word you understand in the sentence, can really color your impression of the persons speaking.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thai Women

Part one in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid.

 So here I am, in Thailand, teaching first aid to Thai police officers. Probably the second most awesome assignment I have had in the military.

This last group of students that came through was about one third female. While a few of these women were older, (forties and up) most were in their early to mid-twenties and pretty. They ranged from girl-next-door look, to exotic willowy beauty, to sweetheart smiles and attitudes, all with Thai forms and faces. I must say, in general, Thai women are very good looking. There is the normal variation in shape and face that you would expect in any society, but in general they are a pretty pleasant looking bunch. Either that or I am easy to please. The other Americans tend to be a lot more critical than I am about looks. They notice things that I don’t, certainly. “That one’s eyes are too far apart” or “Her mouth is too wide” or “She doesn’t shave her legs.” It’s a curious spectrum. On one end there is the kind of guy who criticizes all of them and would sleep with any of them.  On the other end is me, who thinks they are all beautiful and wouldn’t sleep with any of them.

At any rate, the class had a very large population of young and attractive females. The four older ones sat in the first two rows, and all the rest sat further back in the classroom. For some reason when this class was divided up into groups, I got the first row and a half with the four older ladies, and the other two instructors got the rest. My interpreter noticed this change in format as well and pointed it out to me, to which I just shrugged. I’m here to teach, not find a girlfriend. Who knows if they even saw that when the class was broken into groups? It’s not like the other instructors assigned seats, they just divided up the class into blocks. Perhaps they saw it at the time, or perhaps they only saw it later. If they assumed I wouldn’t care they were quite correct. If they assumed I wouldn’t notice, though, they don’t know me.

This led to at least one hilarious day in class though. We had broken down into small groups for practice, and we were going to be like that all day. One of the primary instructors wasn’t able to be there that day, so my assistant took over his group for the day. Then the regular instructor’s assistant pitched in. Then the assistant from the other instructor went over to help. One of the women in my group said something in Thai that made all the other women laugh. When I asked my interpreter what she said he answered, “They say, ‘All the Americans go to that group because the girls are young and pretty. They not want to come here because we too old.” I laughed about it and went back to training, but not ten minutes later in walks our boss, A. You have to understand one thing about A. All the Asian women (and more than a few Asian men) think he is just gorgeous. It’s partly because he always dresses and speaks neatly and respectfully, and partly because he is a little over six feet tall, with an athletic build and long blond hair (always in a boy-scout part over his left temple). He has been likened to Tom Cruise, only not in midget size. He has also been likened to Captain America. He was even asked by two random teenage schoolgirls to pose with them for a photograph outside a Buddhist Temple in Bangkok. (I think they were actually asking all three of the Americans there, but I managed to skate smoothly out of that awkward situation and totally left him to the wolves.) So as he walked past my group all the ladies caught their breath and watched him with adoring eyes, but he did not even glance their way. He kept right on walking up the steps to the next group. All my female students let out a collective yell of mock anguish.
The best part was that A had not a single clue that any of this was going on. Being the consummate professional that he is, he had no intention of singling any group out or offending anyone, and had no idea of the conversation that had occurred prior to his entrance. He just knew that one of the groups was without its primary instructor so he walked directly over to it to see how they were doing, and in so doing, broke four hearts in one fell swoop.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ask Thugfang: Questions

His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness, Master Thugfang, is a demon of great infamy among academic circles. He is a frequent columnist for “Tempter’s Times”, an assistant editor for “Wickedness Weekly” and current chair of Tempter’s Training College’s Department of Defense Against the White Arts, after the sudden disappearance of the most recent head under mysterious circumstances. Now, His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness takes your questions. Having problems with a particularly troublesome patient? Meddlesome enemy agents stymieing you at every turn? Don’t wait, write immediately to “Ask Thugfang” C/O “Underworld Magazine."

Dear Master Thugfang, I have just been assigned to young patient, the youngest of a very large Catholic family. The previous custodians of all of the patients have just been reassigned, presumably to much warmer jobs, because the Subvisor felt that their progress was inadequate. Naturally I am anxious to avoid a similar fate. Simply put, all of these human siblings are on the receiving end of a focused, detailed, incessant catechesis by their parents day in and day out. This whole house practically reeks of the White Arts. Some of the big ones are practiced on a daily basis. My patient is too young to begin learning such things at the moment, but the older siblings are not promising. They all accept the Catholic teachings without question. How do I keep my patient from ending up like that?

Sincerely, Ready to Get to Work.

My Dear Ready,

Ooh! That tingle of fear that shivers your existential core! Don’t you just love it? No better motivator for an up-and-coming young tempter like yourself than the knowledge of a predecessor’s fate. You should think about it regularly to make sure that this present salutary terror does not pass away. Fear and hunger, my young friend. They are the source of our strength, the mainspring of all our success. Embrace them both with open arms.

Now, as to this problem of yours, it does sound a bit grim, doesn’t it? All those lily-white souls just trembling on the brink of life, just on the cusp of the great struggle; will they hang on to what they were given, or will we be able to cajole, trick or intimidate them into letting go. I am positively licking my lips just at the thought of so much innocence, practically mine for the taking! But your patient is not there yet. You are trying to prevent the damage from being done, which is very wise of you. As much fun as it is to snatch a soul right from the very jaws of life, it is always better not to let that life get its teeth well sunk in in the first place.

Unbeknownst to you, you mentioned the answer to your own dilemma in your letter. I wonder you didn’t see it? But that is why I am the Master and you are just a lowly tempter. Never fear. You may yet learn.

So the older siblings accept the Faith “without question” do they? That is very interesting. Very interesting indeed. You see, the natural response of a human being, especially a young one, to something as stupendous as the Enemy’s Church is to ask questions. A human who really meets that Church usually spends his entire life asking questions, learning and growing ever further and further from us. Every new truth (faugh!) learned only wets their appetite for more. I don’t understand how the little rats can consume so much of the stuff. I personally find it nauseating and overrated. But that is what happens when a human really encounters “Truth.” They start wanting more and more of it. A human who is not asking questions is still open to us. All we need to do is stall them, keep them from really encountering this “Truth” until over time the sound of His voice dies away and is buried under layers and layers of business.

Now then, what you need to do is scurry round that homey little nest of theirs and sniff out the reason why these wholesome young lads and lasses are not questioning. Ten to one you’ll find it’s because the parents are not questioning, and there you will find the chink in the armor. You have practiced squeezing through smaller cracks in school, I hope. Now is your chance to slip through a real crack under fire (you didn’t think the enemy agents were going to let you have it all your way, did you?)

Young humans are born with question marks in their brains. Every word out of their filthy, slimy little mouths, once they learn to use them for anything other than stuffing their bodies with matter, is “Why.” Curiosity, my Dear Ready, is a truly nauseating trait in either man or angel. I hope you never indulge in it. Almost the most important use for an older human in charge of a young human is to stifle that curiosity. This can be done by parents, teachers, peers, priests, nearly anyone, but it is most effective if it is done by parents. Parents can get started so much earlier than anyone else, and they have so many more options. Take a good long look at how these adult humans respond to the questions of their younger offspring. In the natural order of things the adult humans would positively delight to be asked questions. They would listen honestly with attention and humor and answer clearly and straightforwardly, or admit it if they didn’t know the answer. In the order of what the Enemy calls “Grace” the results can be truly horrifying. Adults can actually use the questions of an ignorant, stupid child as opportunities to grow and learn themselves. Some of the more clear-headed humans go on to great lengths about simplicity and “fresh perspective” and such rot.  The curiosity of a child has been known to reawaken real curiosity in adults of even very advanced age, and curiosity is only one step removed from humility. Without upsetting your young head with further obscene details, suffice it to say that we categorically do not want this reaction to the child’s curiosity.

Fortunately hardly any humans are that natural all the time, and most humans are never that natural. We have many ways of twisting this dangerous dynamic to our ends.

The oldest and easiest standby is simple impatience. The human child is a creature of infinite repetition. It does not get tired of asking questions, but the adult is not so energetic. Adults get tired of answering questions. This is our opening. You need to keep the adult busy. It doesn’t matter what it is working on, so long as it feels pressured to finish that task, and snubs the young one’s question. As one rather insightful human put it, “Can’t you see that the paint on the walls is more important than the joy in your heart?”

Or, if the adult tends in the opposite direction, you can make it a slave to its offspring’s questions. Not as common or as useful, but I have seen it work.

But I think your particular situation is going to call for something a little more subtle. You say the parents actively catechize, which means they are answering questions at the very least when the children are younger. It means that they are trying to stuff those little heads with truth, so any intimation that the children are interested will no doubt fill their hearts with parental happiness. The parents have too much committed, and you are not going to be able to stop that process, but can you twist it?

Given that the older offspring are simply accepting everything the parent’s say without question, I am guessing one of two things is going on: either they have never been exposed to anything that could challenge their parents’ teachings, or they have learned that their parents do not want them to challenge it. If they have never been exposed to a challenge you have a decision to make. Do you want to bring in a little outside influence, or do you want to keep them sheltered.

Do not underestimate the effectiveness of the start they have been given. Culture shock and infatuation with the world may draw college kids away from the practice of their faith for a time, but in my mind it is rather a dangerous game. Some few of those who go hog wild never come back to the faith, but most of them do, and when they do it is a much more mature and balanced faith. Having sinned greatly they are more likely to be patient and understanding with the sins of others. The infamous dictum “There but for the grace of You-Know-Who,” has a powerful reality for them. The enemy is such a vilely unfair opportunist. Instead of blasting them for their first willful insult to His dignity, He patiently allows them to come back and then uses even their worst sins as opportunities to bind them to Him more powerfully than ever.

So the world that the parents fear is, in my opinion at least, not the most effective means of stealing the souls of the children. The parents fear it because it is visibly and measurably evil but we, as pure spirits, are not fooled by all the flim-flam.

If you can, I suggest you continue the isolationist trend. The faith that the children have been given thus far is very unlikely to be the real thing. Not that it is totally false, or that it won’t become the real thing, but they have not invested themselves totally in it, because they are teenagers. We want to delay that investment. In one sense it doesn’t matter how many of the externals of the faith they follow, so long as they follow them by mere habit. Going to Mass because their parents require it is perfectly acceptable to the Enemy when the human is eight years old. When the human is twenty-eight years old and still following the rules out of shear apathy or human respect, well, that, my dear demons, is a blighted human soul.

Now, even if the children do see or hear things that cause them to question, we can largely neutralize this if we keep the parents subtly under our control. Very few parents ever actively and deliberately punish their children for asking questions, but even the best parents can be made to discourage such questions. There are two ways a human can ask a question. One is to ask quite honestly for information. The second is to ask in a rhetorical fashion. For example, “Dad, Bobby said there is no such thing as heaven. Is that true?” is a legitimate request for information. The mind is open, and a wise human will take the opportunity to fill it with truth. “Why can’t I go to that movie with my friends? Who gave you the right to run my life?” is not a request for information it is a challenge. The child’s mind is closed. A wise parent may still answer this, or may choose to respond some other way, but we want parents to treat this as an affront to their dignity and blast the children into oblivion. In a sense we want them to do to the children exactly what the enemy hasn’t done to them.

The next step is to get the parent to treat every question as the challenging kind of question, and then voila! Our work is done. Whether it is a harsh response: “Young Lady, you will not see those friends any more, and I want you to forget what they said and never repeat it again.” Or a seemingly kind and loving response, “Don’t worry your head about it, dear, they were just being silly and they don’t know any better because they weren’t raised like you are.” The end result is that the child’s question is not answered and he learns that that sort of question is not welcome. Very soon he will either stop asking them altogether in an effort to please his parents, or he will rebel against his parents and ask all the questions he wants, but he will be biased against anything that sounds like what his parents would say, and will ask them of the world. At that point you will have to coordinate with our networking department. We have ways of ensuring that the answers he gets are our answers.

This is not foolproof, of course. The enemy did say that any who seek will find eventually, so on the whole I prefer the little vermin do not ask questions at all. Kill that instinct as quickly as you can and get the parents to do it for you. We have done a great deal of work with the current education system, and it also does an excellent job of stifling that unfortunate tendency. A human who does not seek will never find, and he is as good as ours.

Not that you can let up on the disgusting creatures, though. You never can tell with humans, and you wouldn’t want to let one slip away at the last minute. It would rather dull your prospects, I should think.