promises are kept

thoughts from the mind of Mitch Brown

Month: July, 2012

Random Thoughts Vol.5: The Writer’s Brain And Grand Epiphanies

I’m convinced that a writer’s brain is wired differently from a non-writer’s brain. I think the writer, if skilled in his or her craft, is more selective in what they say and how they structure words. For this writer, that molding of words, or wordsmithing, is transferred to everyday verbal communication, and I’ve noticed this when contrasted with what I don’t do, but other people do.

 A fellow student made a stupid statement to me after class. Right after it came out of his mouth, he said “I know you probably think that sounds stupid.” Yep, that’s exactly what I thought, but I didn’t tell him that. His statement was so fucking stupid and thoughtless, and given the subject of it, I lost respect for him just for saying it. What he said showcased the difference between a writer’s mentality and a non-writer’s mentality. That’s something I next to never say. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I’m constantly selecting my words and engaging in self-censorship. I think about what I’m going to say before it comes out of my mouth, in order to maintain clarity of speech and avoid sounding dumb. It’s like it’s written in my mind before it’s ejected out of my mouth. Journalists are trained to write in a clear and concise manner, and seemingly automatically such a practice has been transferred to my verbal interaction.

To the writer, words are not” just words.” To take such a dismissive position is to reduce the significance of writing, along with oral communication. Words have feel, context, connotation, and even texture. Over the non-writer, I think I have a greater understanding of the response to words and to language, which has led to a greater attention to self-selection of the words I use.

 Within in the past year, I’ve had a few epiphanies and came to some serious realizations: The first struck me last summer, which was becoming fully aware of  just how dumb most of the students at UCM are. The other was realizing and accepting how much of an anomaly I am. The second came as a direct result of acknowledging the first.

 I stumbled upon my third epiphany just a couple of weeks ago: It was that grad school might not help me reach my goal in life. I might not need it. I’ve come to the conclusion, given what I have in mind, the grind is more important, and will probably serve to get me where I’m trying to go faster. My life goal is to become a famous writer. Of course I love journalism, but that’s just phase one of my plan. Journalism is partially a way to familiarize people with my writing and my name, and the next stage, after further establishing my name, is to make the move to being a published author. I’ve changed a step in my plan: I’ve decided not to do grad school. I thought about it, and the amount of time spent doing grad work would detract from time I could and should spend getting my name out there in the field, getting more of my work, my writing out there. My initial plan was to do well at UCM and then move on to doing my masters at a more prestigious university. UCM would be my catapult, launching me to greener pastures, but another go round of schooling at a more “prestigious” university is not necessary needed to move on to that higher ground.

 One of my favorite writers is Chuck Klosterman; he writes about pop-culture. He was once a senior writer at Spin magazine. He writes for Esquire magazine, and he has authored several books. He went to some four year college in bumfuck North Dakota.( just as I’m going to college stuck in the middle of Missouri) Klosterman’s writing is amazing. His primary focus is pop-culture, but when he writes on the subject, he performs critical analysis that is both in depth and unorthodox, and I often walk away from his writing thinking, I never thought of that before , but now that you mention that really makes sense. Through his analysis and razor sharp wit, Chuck Klosterman is able to fish out layers of significance from subjects a lot of people would consider insignificant, because the subjects are not typically ones a lot of people would even spend time analyzing. Which is more important in the case of Chuck Klosterman: Where his alma mater is located or his writing ability?

 One of my reasons for wanting to attend a more “prestigious” university after finishing my undergrad degree might sound like pure vanity: It was to be a selling point. I wanted the name of a more prestigious university stamped on the inside of a book jacket beside my name to act as a selling point, along with a validation of intelligence. The quality of my writing alone should be the selling point, and a number of people have already said my writing is really good. I’m not about to tell someone not to go to college. We’ve entered the post-industrial age, an age in which a college degree has practically become a necessity, and because of this, the bachelor’s degree is now devalued. (because more people have them now than in the past) Resources that are the most limited become the most valuable. If the opposite happens, the value decreases.

 As I’ve said before, if someone is going for the brass ring, they need to go above and beyond the norm, the average. Being average will lead to an average salary and an average life, but going above and beyond does not strictly entail getting a master’s degree and then a P.H.D. There is a lot to be said for raw talent, drive, and someone’s grind. Ask Russell Simmons and Bill Gates about that.

The Return Of La Coka Nostra

If you think Eminem, Mac Lethal, and Mac Miller are the only white rappers with skill, you are sadly mistaken. May I point you in the direction of La Coka Nostra, LCN, this dope thing of ours. If you are an underground hip-hop head, you already know who they are, more than just another rap clique: LCN is a super group, a clothing line, and a world-wide movement, a movement to bring that rah-rah grit back to hip-hop. The music of La Coka Nostra is about as far removed from the glitzy auto-tune bullshit that now dominates the charts as you could get.

 I had the privilege of seeing them at the Beaumont in Kansas City,MO  in 2009. It was a hip-hop show, but there was crowd surfing and moshing galore. They go so hard on stage, it provokes that type of response. My show-going days of my late teens were spent in the punk scene, and LCN had a stage presence that equally rivaled the best hardcore and punk bands I saw in my youth.

Originally the core of the group became Big Left, Slaine, Ill Bill, Danny Boy O’Connor, Everlast, and DJ Lethal.(House Of Pain) Big Left left the  immediate lineup, but is still part of the extended family and drops the occasional verse with LCN. It turns out LCN have a new album that is due out the end of this month. Everlast isn’t on this one, but he hasn’t severed ties. LCN released a statement saying that Everlast is not on this album or touring at this time because his daughter has cystic fibrosis, and that’s a more pressing matter, but there is a chance he could again perform and record with LCN sometime in the future. The new La Coka Nostra album, Masters of the Dark Arts is due in stores July 31st Usually, I’m only psyched up about a few albums a year, and this year, just like in 2009, it’s La Coka Nostra.

Fuck Modern Pop-Culture, Fuck Television

When I hear someone babel on about some meaningless, mindless pop-culture bullshit, particularly TV shows, I feel a sense of liberation in that I usually have no idea what and who they are talking about. It feels like I’ve escaped the Matrix.( and I didn’t even like that movie) I’m so disgusted by most examples of modern pop-culture, I’ve made a deliberate effort to remove it from my life. I’m so out of the loop with most of this shit, because I’ve chosen to be. I’ve never seen a full episode of the Bachelorette, Glee, Desperate Housewives, the Real House Wives of.(insert whatever city) When someone starts talking about movies like the Hangover, Superbad or Pineapple Express, I get up on my high horse and proudly state “ I don’t watch stupid shit like that.”

 My opposition to these programs is not due to depictions of sex, violence, drug use, or an exploitative nature of reality TV: it’s in relation to how fucking stupid these shows are, completely geared towards the lowest common denominator. Most stuff with mass appeal is; otherwise it wouldn’t be able to sell on a mass level. Most people are stupid ,or at least of only average intelligence; the existence of a bell curve regarding the measuring of IQ proves that. Intellectualism is not marketable to most people: the very nature of intellectualism will leave the average mind isolated from it and unable to understand.  Evidence of a society in mental decline and a state of devolution is partially taken from my observation of pop-culture. It’s like TV has gotten dumber.

 I honestly don’t see the appeal of this shit. In 2010, when Jersey Shore had seemingly reached the height of its popularity, I had yet to see a single episode. I heard so many people talking about it all the time, talking about how so-so acts like Ronnie, or how someone in class looks like Ronnie, people talking about Snooki and the Situation. I didn’t get it. (maybe because I hadn’t seen it) It was a fucking reality show. I would have thought that well would have run dry by now. I’m not saying that I thought reality TV would disappear, but I don’t see how a reality show about people clubbing, drinking, fucking, and drama became such a phenomenon. Haven’t we seen that before with the Real World? I finally got around to watching Jersey Shore for the first time this year. I watched one episode on MTV’s website, and that was enough. As I was watching it, I was thinking this is shit! It was nothing but mundane carnality, and this somehow became a runaway hit??

 What is the appeal? I took this question to my friend Mike, and he said people who are big fans of reality TV are people who were the gossips in high school. ( and never grew out of that stage) They are people who probably lead boring, mundane lives, so by watching this shit, they are able to live vicariously through the exploits of someone more interesting, more popular, better looking etc. etc. I think the popularity of Jersey Shore can be attributed to the return of the party life in pop-culture. With Jersey Shore, college kids see a lifestyle that might bear some resemblance to their own, or one they can easily replicate. Furthermore, what I also fail to understand is when people talk about celebrities and reality TV show stars as if they have a personal relationship or connection with these people. The only people actually personally affected by what a superstar is wearing at a red carpet premiere would be designers like Vera Wang, maybe Joan and Melissa Rivers, and the actual celebrity wearing the dress. If someone gets emotionally worked up in response to what a celeb is wearing or someone being voted off of a reality TV show, I have to question the emotional stability of that person.

 The significance given to insignificant TV pop-culture nonsense is all part of a larger plan. It’s called subterfuge. It directly benefits certain people in power to have a mass population whose minds are focused on the irrelevant. The Roman emperors gave the plebeian class bread and circuses to keep them pacified. Today, people are given American Idol and Jersey Shore, but the result is the same

I Am Not A Sociopath Just Because I Don’t Give A Shit About You

 Back in 2009, when I was working as a cook at a drug and alcohol rehab, as I was getting ready to cut the lasagna, we were to serve to the clients; this dumb bitch of a co-worker said something along with lines of “here, I’ll do it.” The tone of her voice was as if she was belittling me, implying that I wouldn’t have been able to cut it properly, and she would automatically be able to do it better. I felt as if she was attempting to proclaim herself as superior to me, which is something I refuse to put up with, so I grabbed one of our knives and proceeded to mangle the lasagna as though I were possessed by the spirit of John Belushi’s Samurai chef.

 After doing this, I asked her if she had ever heard of the book the Art of War; I then spat out a quote from the book “Never allow the enemy to impose his will upon you; always impose your will upon the enemy.”(or something like that) This might have been over her head, but her stupid ass might have been able to see how I was relating it to what took place in the kitchen.(although in an indirect manner) Her rebuttal was to ask me “Have you ever heard of a book called the Sociopath Next Door? She is trying to imply that I’m a sociopath, and it wasn’t the first time the charge has been thrown at me, and I know the reason why: at times I seem to lack empathy, sympathy, and compassion for others, but a lack of empathy alone does not make one a sociopath. There are other personality types and personality disorders in which a lack of empathy is also a prominent feature: histrionic personality type is one; borderline personality disorder is another, and people with Asperger’s also lack sympathy/empathy. Aspies often have a stronger attachment to things, inanimate objects, rather than people.

 There are a whole host of traits associated with the sociopath that do not apply to me. While having a conversation with someone who has a background in psychology, he said I’m not a sociopath, because so many of the other traits of a sociopath do not fit with my personality and behavior. Sociopaths are impulsive and view life with short term/for-now mentality. I can spend so much time thinking about the possible outcome of an action that it leads to inaction. I next to never throw caution to the wind. I plan things out. The sociopath is a thrill-seeker, and I’m not. They like to victimize people, and are able to do so easily because of that lack of empathy. That’s not what I’m about. I have a live and let live, and leave me the hell alone, mentality. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. Leave me the hell alone, and I’ll leave you the hell alone. I’m not out to cause suffering, but the suffering of most of the human race means nothing to me. To be honest, there is just too much human suffering for me to be connected to all of it. An attempt to do so would probably result in endless depression and agony. Buddhists believe that suffering is an inescapable part of human existence.

 I question the motives of the humanitarian. I think these misguided Dudley-Do-Rights lack an understanding of their own nature, the nature of the human animal. How many people are on Earth?

It would be impossible to love and honestly care about that many people and have that love actually be sincere, so I’ve come to see the humanitarian as a fraud, someone who is dreaming an impossible dream. Why would you want to love everyone on the planet? Mixed in with those likable people are detestable people: pedophiles, rapists, bigots, murderers, liars, sociopaths, users, dumb-asses etc. Loving some of these folks could be hazardous to your health. By loving everyone, you’ve reduced the value of love. My love and respect is reserved for those who deserve it. Those who are in my life, and I care about, I will do just about anything, within in reason, to help them, but a stranger is just that– a stranger.

 I think the selfless person doesn’t actually exist. Selflessness runs counter to our nature. The most prominent of all natural laws is that of self-preservation. It’s always in effect. If you fall upon economic hard times, you will be reminded of the primacy of self-interest. If you are starving, you are more likely to be concerned about putting food in your belly instead of someone else’s. To choose the latter over the former is a subversion of natural law and really fucking stupid. You can only extend your hand as far as your arm will allow you to. Anton LaVey once said you cannot be good to others until you are good to yourself first. If you aren’t financially stable, you do not have the disposable income to donate to charity, or at least, in my eyes, to do so wouldn’t be a wise move. The question I have for philanthropists: Are their charitable actions exclusively for other people? Or are they also doing it for themselves? Is it done to make themselves look good? How many people in college are involved with some type of philanthropy because it will look good on a resume’? How many philanthropists give because they get some type of emotional satisfaction, some type of good vibe, heart-warming tingly feeling. If that’s the case, they are involved in a self-serving activity.

 I’ll always remember the time when I got one of those I care about everybody types to admit her underlying motives were self-serving. It was a former co-worker who seemed to bend over backwards to help people. I asked her why she did it. She told me she believes in the pay it forward concept, which is the idea that if you help others, other people will help you or be kind to you later on down the line. I ended the conversation right there, but the unsaid question that popped into my mind was if she didn’t think she was going to get a karmatic refund, would she still want to help people. Her pay it forward concept would see her getting something in exchange for doing good deeds, which is a self-serving motive. She’s doing good deeds and anticipating being paid back for it later. That is not a selfless act: it’s an exchange, even if it’s with some unseen, undefined, unproven cosmic force.

Someone can become uncaring due to environmental factors. If someone was raised in, or lives for an extended amount of time, an uncaring environment, someone could become uncaring. Urban environments reinforce the primacy of self-interest. The rat race, a faster paced life reinforces a do for self mentality. I’ll never forget this time when I was living in KC and I saw a drunk bum slip off of a bus stop bench and cracked his head on the side walk. He was down for the count. He stayed planted on the ground. No screams of pain came from him. He wasn’t struggling to get back up. He just stayed there. No one at the bus stop came up to him to see if he was ok. These girls did try to flag down a cop car, but the cop car just rolled on. Should I have helped him? Should I have even cared about him? My answer is no. I had been at work all night, unloading packages for UPS, and was getting ready to catch another bus home and go to sleep, and this is the part of the story where the bleeding hearts talk about how he probably had some type of pain and strife in his life, and that’s why he’s a bum getting sauced up at nine in the morning. We all have pain and strife in our lives, yet not everyone becomes a bum. I didn’t put that beer in his hand or push him off the bench. I find it hard to have sympathy for people when their problems are self-created.

 In my eyes, the ideal society would be a meritocracy, a society in which someone’s status, wealth and well-being is merit based, a society in which those who contribute the most would have the most, and those who contribute nothing would have nothing. Which category would the bum on the bench fall under?

 Have you ever thought that by helping the “disadvantaged” that, on a macro level, you might be doing harm to society as a whole? I proposed this question to a bleeding hurt acquaintance once, and she said she didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Someone who takes the offerings of others, yet does not contribute to society, is by definition a human parasite, and parasites maintain their existence by drawing blood from healthy organisms, so by helping those who do not contribute to society, you are helping to feed parasites.

 The words you have just read are not the words of a sociopath, but rather the words of someone who is able to see human beings, along with life itself, for what they are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, sans any type of rose-colored glasses or delusions.