How is this, of all people, the guy with whom Trump willfully identifies? A character described by his own creator as “corrupt,” “damned,” and “repellent”; a man who “abuses the power of the popular press and challenges the authority of the law, contrary to all the liberal traditions of civilizations”; who “has very little respect for what I consider to be civilization, and tries to become the king of his universe”; who embodies, as Welles forcefully put it, “the things I most detest”? We’re talking about a character seemingly incapable of empathy, and blind to the toll his selfish behavior takes on others—whether his two wives, his colleagues, or the country at large. The kind of man whose only friend says about him, after his death: “He never believed in anything except Charlie Kane.”
I don’t know what to write. I thought, then, that I wouldn’t write at all and not worry about it any more. I thought I felt no need or desire to feel demonstratively about all this stuff; I don’t need to feel it in public for me to feel it. then I thought back to how I felt ten years ago tonight.
I thought about how I felt watching the lady in the aa group that would become my home group take her ten year coin at the start of the meeting. I looked at her and I thought she was fucking impossible, fucking intolerable, a goddamn magician and a liar and oh, oh god, oh god how I wanted what she had. Yeah. Ten years?
I used to mistake attention for affection. I used to think I wouldn’t live to see 30 let alone 40. I used to think I would die alone and unloved because I was alone and unlovable. I used to be ashamed of being mentally ill. I used to be ashamed to all for help. I used to think I was on fire all the time. I used to spend my days pouring booze and drugs on what I felt because I didn’t want to feel it. Good or bad, I was on fire and wanted oblivion. I used to do that stuff. I used to.
Ten years. I am fucking impossible, fucking intolerable, a goddamn magician, and I swear its all true. I don’t know how but it started in a room with a bunch of old drunks and a shitty cup of coffee and hearing for the first time that attention and affection are two different things. I showed up. I listened. I didn’t get fucked up that day. That was how I started.
Lots of people get clean and sober lots of different ways. I’m agnostic and aa worked for me; theres other ways. What matters is: getting clean, getting sober, can will and does happen, even to those of us that confuse attention for affection.
It’s the dark time of year here. When the temperature moves the forest sheds a mist that comes up from under their canopy of branches and eats the daytime straight out of the sky as it rises. It’s okay. In the dark and the quiet we can see even the tiniest of embers. I’ll light a candle for you. I’ll save a seat for you.
attention and affection are two different things
this was one of the most excruciating things to learn. still working on it.
so here’s our favorite adoptive space dad Bail Organa in Revenge of the Sith:
and here he is in Rogue One:
meanwhile, here’s Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith:
and here he is after the exact same amount of time:
I’d like some of whatever Bail is having on Alderaan and exactly zero of what Obi-Wan is having on Tatooine
well one of them is the viceroy of alderaan and the other one is living as a hermit in space nevada, sorry that obi wan isn’t keeping up his moisturizing regimen on Planet Sand Hell while bail organa drinks kale smoothies in the shade
Ultimately, the best way to judge Leia Organa might be through the same materialist critical analysis that drove her to revolutionary action. Before Leia Organa, the Empire destroyed civilizations to power a war machine for the glory of its elites. Because of her, galactic civilization doesn’t consist of thousands of starving worlds, whose inhabitants gaze into skies swarming with Death Stars built from their stolen productivity. The ideology of the Dark Side never rests, and it might return to reap capital from oppressed planets, but for now, many worlds enjoy a certain amount of peace and freedom.
…once it was proposed to me that it was all right to be like I am, I finally quit apologizing for it.
Our use of the term “integrity” reminds us that for [the founders] a person of character manifested a harmonious wholeness out of which correct behavior ensued. Character did not necessarily require goodness of heart, nor was a person of character expected to be generous. Generosity expressed something beyond character, a quality the eighteenth century admired and called “liberality.” After 1800 or so, as too much amiability or generosity came to provoke apprehension, “liberality” fell from fashion. Saving (a bourgeois virtue) replaced benign expenditure (a characteristic of feudal chieftains), and reinvestment replaced potlatch.
As Burr learned to his sorrow, too much liberality became a sign of bad character. This transition can be observed in what was said of Burr by Hamilton, by Hamiltonians, by Jefferson, and by a host of others. Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe all died bankrupt after lavish expenditure upon their own comfort and upon expensive country houses, in the English fashion. While Jefferson was generous to his friends, Burr was munificent. This was one of the ways in which he was becoming an anachronism.
Bankruptcy had been commonplace among gentlemen and merchants in the founding generation. Financial mismanagement carried nothing of the onus it carries today, nor did improvidence in providing for oneself. Gentlemen were not thought lacking in character merely because they left to their heirs only debts. The emergent century, however, brought with it, after the economic confusions of the 1790s, a saving-and-investing society, looking forward to Ebenezer Scrooge rather than backward to Charles James Fox.
Aaron Burr had no place in a society in which character was defined among the middle class as abstinence from expenditure they could afford, and among the workers as a willingness not to ask for more than they might then spend. The sphincter replaced the open palm as the preferred portion of a good citizen’s anatomy.
“Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character” by Roger G. Kennedy
“The sphincter replaced the open palm as the preferred portion of a good citizen’s anatomy.”
Damn, that’s an incredible sentence. And it shines an uncomfortable light on the values that we continue to espouse today
This dichotomy between spenders and savers casts an interesting light onto “Pride and Prejudice.” The royals that are alluded to in that story are described in terms of their corruption and profligacy. While Darcy’s sober morality certainly carries elements of “sphincter-ness.”
It’s odd to think of Aaron Burr as contemporaneous with Jane Austen. But while in exile Burr spent a year in England, only a couple of years before Austen began publishing her novels.
Just a few more days til we live inside The Running Man
One with the Force