The Newly Invisible Man

The Newly Invisible Man (a personalist statement, 3)

            ‘We don’t need to listen to white men’. So declaimed a ‘Feminist’ leader from Quebec in reaction to another Feminist author’s caution that such persons were suffering and indeed might, because of their collective resentment at recently becoming invisible, in turn make all others suffer. Putin is a white man after all, as is Trump. The Taliban are at least male, and so we are perhaps to believe that they are ‘acting white’ in their evil behavior. While it is the case that there are a number of genres of Feminist sensibilities, in all cases wherein thinking drops off and gives way to bigotry, what in fact we have encountered is a form of fascism. To borrow the economist Tom Hazlett’s jarring, if apt, neologism, what we have run into in these cases in not Feminism, but rather Feminazism.

            Feminazism and its axis of ignorance, mainly to be found on university campuses and centered in departments of English and also Gender Studies, but as well in NGOs and some NPOs abroad, is not Feminism at all, but rather, and more simply, a form of unthought that has taken on the guise of a discourse and thus the masque of a faux praxis. It is the estranged sibling of the Reich, and in its social vision, the ideal state is merely an obverse mimicry of its namesake, and not at all an inversion let alone a parallax. And though it has yet to be formally elected, it is nonetheless real enough. I can testify to its reality because I live in a Feminazi State. In it, I am invisible, and unlike the villain in the famous Wells novel, who was feared because he now had the power to do anything he wanted – perhaps much like white men actually seemed to have during my favorite author’s lifetime – the reality is that if you actually are invisible, you can’t in fact do anything at all.

            To my knowledge, I am the most prolific scholarly writer of Generation X. No one else within that demographic has the breadth and depth of study I have brought to my work, and no one else also writes revolutionary epic fiction let alone in addition writes for digital media. And for that matter, who else has shared intimacies with both Dorothy Smith, one of the great feminist social scientists of our day, as well as Tiffany Justice, a co-founder of Moms for Liberty? My almost 60 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, social theory, health and religion amongst other areas can certainly speak for themselves, that is, if they too were not cloaked by a miasmatic vapor of vapid chiasm. In these terms I have but one living peer, the conservative thinker and baby boomer Roger Scruton, someone Feminazis certainly hate. He and I have few points of agreement in our thought, but I too am a Wagner fan and I do admire a writer who can not only do philosophy – even if without Freud – but as well novels and to top it off, also pen libretti of all things. So how is it that an apparently generational talent such as myself is unemployable? Could that have occurred in any other time but our own? Perhaps it is the vocation, as luminaries such as Georg Simmel came to have a full-time job only late in life, and Gregory Bateson never did. A philosopher is never quite of his own time alone, as David Hume, another self-employed fellow, and Friedrich Nietzsche, another early retirement, can readily attest. But invisibility truly implies a lack of presence in all spaces, and that not merely as a thinker but indeed as a person.

            No media will publish my essays or opinion pieces. No political party responds to my offers of policy help. No employer of any stripe hires me. No NPO desires me to volunteer on their behalf. No ‘respected press’ will publish my novels. No school responds to my invitations to take advantage of my presence as a veteran educator and pedagogic theorist with a nominal but international reputation, in their ‘catchment areas’; not for teaching the human sciences or the history of thought or creative writing or even helping college-bound students polish their own writing so that they do not fail out of the ‘big high school’ after a fleeting fashion; no none of that, thank you. The only journalist who will even speak with me, the insightfully dogged Barbara Kay, patiently awaits a story. But in fact I have none. My story is the story of European culture writ small, or better, made small by a pressing ignorance and bigotry that seems to have engulfed our entire society overnight. From whence did such a cataclysm come?

            The brilliant political sociologist, Barrington Moore Jr., another white guy, summed our stupor succinctly: ‘No Bourgeois, no democracy’. The middle classes in liberal democracies have shrunk significantly over the past four decades. The vast majority of these once thriving denizens of modernity have fallen into classes below. This movement can only foster in them a deep resentment which, added to the historical weight of those left out, upshifts itself into a true ressentiment. It is this ‘malicious existential envy’, as Max Scheler, another white guy, analyzed it, which lies at the heart of fascism’s sense that cultural elites are to blame for social inequities and inequalities the both. It is the driving force behind the so-called ‘populist’ politics; really, a form of neo-fascism and an expression of the sheer frustration of becoming invisible en masse. Opportunistic politicians are a dime a dozen in this vein, and most have utterly no social class relationship to the franchise they so shamelessly court. They themselves are elites who have been mocked by their peers, as Trump had been for decades, and thus also seek a kind of revenge – this time, a more personal one – against all those whose arrogance has prompted a turning away from our shared cultural heritage. And so what a cataclysm indeed! Uncultured unthinking masses moving to unseat social elites who post-war have themselves shrugged off the very culture and thought which both created the modern world and at once preserved the entire history of human consciousness. Such false elites deserve their fate, surely, but what rather of the real deal?

            It is one thing to live in a time of the world regression. Economics, demographics, politics and other broad and anonymous social forces ebb and flow. But to also live in a time of cultural regress, wherein ethnic, gender and other parochial loyalties trump any perennial suggestion that thinking is what makes us human in the first place is another matter. And that these are in fact the same times, our collective present, makes invisible any and all who seek reflective reason. No one who desires to be visible can in turn make another invisible, as all fashionable ‘identity’ movements do. No one who wishes to count for something can in turn make another uncounted or indeed uncountable. It is not merely that our social world would not exist without the history of thought, without art, without science, all thus far emanating from white males almost exclusively – including such like Kant, Kierkegaard, Tchaikovsky, Foucault et al; are the gay fellows of this DWEMic emic also to be discounted? – but our very humanity itself. And what did all these white guys do in order to attain their fullest humanity on our behalves? The very opposite of heeding their narrow birthright. They climbed the highest known cultural peaks in their own day with the sole purpose of leaping off them. Only by doing this do we transcend our all-too-visible bigotries; only through this leap of faithless faith do we become as Gods on earth.

            G.V. Loewen is, for better or for worse, as he has been described in this well-meaning caveat.

Anti-Demographic Thought(s)

Anti-Demographic Thought(s) (historicality not historicism)

            The most insignificant generation of the twentieth century I call my own. Popularly known as ‘Generation X’, was, and perhaps yet is, aside from Tiger Woods, unnoticeable. Its meager size alone speaks volumes. How was it that I myself became its foremost thinker, with more breadth and mass than any other kindred author? Only due to the paucity of available talent between the years 1963 and 1981 could this unlikely event have occurred, and more this than whatever I may have brought to the discursive table. But the key for me, as a writer hailing from this demographic group, was the compelling need to think outside of generational thought and even experience. History has traditionally been the venue of all who seek perspective. History is the antidote to parochiality, the slayer of morality, the pinion of modernity. And just as travel geographically remains a fair measure of one’s own customary attitudes towards all things, this spatial dislocation has its temporal sibling in historical journey.

            Unlike preceding and successive generations, there was no way for mine to dominate, either in culture high or low, in commerce or the labor market, or yet in celebrity. The pop bands we listened to were staffed by baby-boomers, our ‘big event’ the assassination of a boomer icon. Though Lennon’s needless death moved me, even haunted me for a while, in the end, it was nothing of my own. I do recall to this day exactly what I was doing at the moment the news broke in over CBC radio in that evening. Playing guitar in the front room with my parents listening in fits and snatches to both audio sources; odd, looking back upon it. I had just lost my first serious girlfriend, and was about to lose my mother, and thence my family, within months. Lennon’s death was thus felt as an ominous omen, a sign of losses to come. It took a full quarter-century of nonsense on my part to recover from this wakeful interregnum, a chasm between the bliss of childhood and the remaining rationality of more mature being.

            Even so, none of these crises were specific to anyone in my generation, let alone myself. The nearest to us is shared by all, the farthest from us by none. What do we know of the vast bulk of human history? Our generational memories are overshadowed by those personal, and these latter are what link us across demographic groups, and mostly those ethno-cultural as well. None choose to be born; none choose to die. The work I have done to date connects me with, and within, the 2500-year-old tradition of consciousness, and my nominal contribution to the history of thought can only be judged in that wider context. I have no generational peers; I have few living sources of inspiration. The only response is to conjure a form of anti-demographic thinking, which at once participates in what Gadamer called ‘historical consciousness’, while avoiding historicism per se. Historicity is a term that has been used, even historicality, which I personally prefer. The keenly felt query, ‘what is it that links me with these others?’, ‘what can I possibly achieve without them, let alone outside of their ambit?’.

            And I am more discursively dim-witted than I used to be, mirroring the general trend I suppose. Not having taught a class for eight years might do that, but more than this, reading sparsely due to eyesight, engaging in no serious long-term dialogue, and forsaking the company of ‘the intellectuals’ who are obsessed with fashion refashioned into a tepid tempest of pseudo-ideology. From the villains who proffer the censored book lists, which ironically reflect their defenders’ equally shallow concerns for what amounts to window-dressing – genders, ethnicities – or very much passing phases of life – childhood and adolescence – to the ‘concerned’ parents groups, shockingly populated by those younger than myself – where did the much vaunted revolution of values vanish, I wonder from time to time – my demographic viewpoint is disarmed by their sheer frenzy of frenetic fractiousness. Framing this ‘value’ conflict is an effort at once of a compulsive ennui – Edmund Leach would chide us, for at least butterflies are beautiful – as well as self-gratification; ‘look at all those poor fools’, which at least sounds like a British social anthropologist.

            Utterly ignored, X’ers oft like to claim for themselves a kind of holier-than-thou status in relation to their observations. I noted this when I was but fifteen, for goodness’ sake, another, this time sanctimonious, sign of things to come. The smirk of the girls, the smite of the boys, the sense that all was already lost, we had no idea that our minor fin de siècle was but a repeat of 1900, or a retake of 1950 – David Riesman’s ‘The Lonely Crowd’ might as well have been written for Gen-X, for instance – or indeed a distant echo of Goethe’s Werther. Nothing, in other words, genuine about our whine. We fought amongst ourselves, we mended our own fences, we together built smallish walls to blot out the overweening views of the boomers, all the while listening intently to their own sages:

            Get away old man, you don’t fool me.

            You and your history won’t rule me.

            You might have been a fighter but admit you’ve failed.

            I’m not affected by your blackmail;

            You won’t blackmail, me.

            Pete Townsend wrote these lyrics in 1975, when I was but nine years old. And certainly, he wrote them against the Churchillian generations, but it was our tune too. And I also recall, almost as vividly as with the Lennon moment, in that same year of 1975 when the Viet Nam War ended, I came to school full of the news to be greeted by a surly ‘who cares!’ from my playground peers. World historical events were snubbed because world history had passed us by. We never believed in a future – the day-long debriefing at all the schools the morning after ‘The Day After’ had aired on television was considered at best, unconvincing, at worst, more propaganda – and so we doomed ourselves to inaction from the beginning. My campus student union boasted of a store of cyanide pills in case the made-for-TV film became all the more real. Placards and strikes and demonstrations and critique in general were nowhere to be seen. Shamefully, even though the ‘big chill’ had already hobbled the boomers, it was we who truly institutionalized the neo-conservative retreat. And that is exactly what it was, and remains to this day; a retreat from reality, from the world, from the other and from otherness, from compassion, from consciousness historical and cultural, and most dismally, from conscience.

            And thus our paltry legacy. Thus the ease by which almost sixty books, but that’s all, sails the undersea ocean of discourse, breathing its own closed atmosphere and heard by the pilgrim as perhaps a series of broken sirens, faint and amorphic. And so, I have adopted another life, prompted by the digital revolution, that is, the one that mattered after all. I haven’t given up, but I have given in. Look for my shadow on any horizon which warns of lands unknown. Look for me there and you’ll see a silhouette unidentified, then a chiaroscuro undertaking itself, that is, before the current plague of sickened yet fastidious youth finishes me for good.

            Social philosopher G.V. Loewen is currently hard at work on his 58th book, a major health and wellness digital app, an RPG gaming series, and the odd essay in banality. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.