What the Future Holds

We are practicing the future tense with my students. I brought this really cool activity to class which contains the task of writing a description of how one sees one’s own life at the age of seventy.

I have to confess that the activity did not go at all according to plan. The students wrote such horrifying descriptions of what awaited them at seventy, that I got depressed. Everybody mentioned wrinkles, arthritis, bingo, Jeopardy, illness, boredom, and loneliness. I tried to steer them in the direction of discussing this age as the time that brings more wisdom, free time, travel, etc but the students were not interested. The suggestion that 70 is a great age to be happy in one’s personal life was also rejected.

Only after I reminded everybody that people often occupy positions of great power and responsibility at that age did the students start realizing that seventy can actually be a very good age.

N and I have great plans for that age. Even if we end up being very poor, we will still be able to spend all day reading and discussing books. And I’ll finally teach N to speak Spanish, so we’ll be able to read Spanish books together.

At the age of 80, we plan to move to a retirement home and organize orgies there.

A Sign

On my new Canadian passport, I look like an ancient old lady in last stages of a terminal disease. And in my new US ID, I look very beautiful. Or, at least, exactly the way I want to look.

I think it’s a sign, people.

P.S. I’m sick and useless, so posts will be abundant today.

Gender and Fantasies of Rape

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad:

The obvious but also very difficult answer [to the question of why I responded to a woman’s belittling and emasculating rejection of me with a fantasy in which I raped her] is that the structure of rape was already part of what I considered normal behavior between men and women, was in fact the framework through which I understood the meaning of that behavior…. Statements like this one, because of the way they can be read to suggest that men are all inherently and irrevocably rapists, are one source of many men’s discomfort with feminism. Yet women also internalize the structure of rape as part of their sexuality. They live in this culture no differently than we do, so how could they not? Still, no one tries seriously to deduce from this fact, at least not anymore, that women are all therefore inherently and irrevocably victims of rape.

It doesn’t even occur to this person who claims to be a feminist that women are just as likely to respond to belittling and humiliating rejections with fantasies of raping the men (or women) who rejected them. For this author, when women interiorize rape, it is always as victims. No other possibility is even present.

The central problem of today’s feminism is that it can’t even begin to accept the idea that women can be subjects of sexual desire, sexual activities, sexual violence, and, most definitely, of fantasies about perpetrating sexual violence.

And I’m not even going to start on how there is nothing wrong with any sorts of fantasies, as long as one doesn’t carry them out in real life.

“You Don’t Look Sick”

People keep telling me that I “don’t look sick” whatever that means.

I informed my students that I was sick which was why I wasn’t going to talk a whole lot. At the end of the class, a student came up to me.

“Are you sure you are sick?” she asked while I squinted, trying to keep her in focus. “You look very healthy.”

After I left the classroom and went to my office, making an effort to walk in a straight line, I met a colleague who started telling me a long and convoluted story.

“I’m sorry, I have a very hard time following this,” I confessed. “I’m very sick.”

“Really?” the colleague asked sarcastically. “You don’t look sick.”

Then, I went to the coffee-shop and asked for some hot water to dilute my medication.

“I know, I know,” I said in response to the barista’s suspicious stare. “I don’t look sick.”

“If you are hoping that your prof will believe you and let you go home, you are not doing a very good job,” the barista responded.

Now I’m wondering, what do people do that I’m not doing right now to look convincingly sick?

P.S. Yes, the reason why my writing has become so lousy is because I’M SICK!

Communism Versus Nazism

Finally, somebody said it:

One of the interesting after-effects of the left’s domination of the West’s film and entertainment industry has been an intentional dulling down of the awareness of the evil of Communism and the magnitude of the atrocities it commited in the 20th century.  Call someone a Nazi and people gasp.  Call someone a Community and they chuckle or mutter something like “McCarthy”.  Wave a swastika and people scream, the hammer and sickle – not so much.  Fascism is certainly more famous and when you want a smirking villian in a movie you’re more likely to get a reaction from a guy in an SS uniform than someone with the hammer and sickle on his chest.

Aside from the meaningless attribution of the responsibility for this phenomenon to Hollywood, the author of the quote is making an important point. Among good, decent folks there is a consensus that Nazis were monsters. There are neo-Nazi groups on the margins of most Western societies, but nobody walks around with a copy of Mein Kampf and introduces oneself as a fascist during scholarly conferences if one has any hope of having a career and being a respected member of society. Spoiled kids from rich families don’t try to bug their mommies and daddies by worshiping Hitler nearly as often as they do it using Mao and Lenin. Che Guevara T-shirts, backpacks and jewelry have become mainstream and sell everywhere. Franco’s face is not in vogue. OK, Franco was indescribably ugly. But Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish fascism, could have given Che a run for his money in the looks department any day of the week.

So why is it that every normal person agrees that Nazism is evil while Communism still attracts so many good, decent, albeit ignorant and misguided, people?

Unlike the author of the post I quoted, I don’t tend to look to the US (or, more specifically, Hollywood) as the cause of everything that ever happened in the universe. There is life outside Hollywood and even – gasp! – outside of the US.

One of the most important reasons behind the difference in the attitudes towards Communism and Nazism is the behavior of the victims. You are not going to find many Jews who will tell you that, “Of course, Hitler was not completely perfect but you have to recognize that he did a lot of good things, too.” You will, however, encounter many such folks among the victims of Stalin. The Communist USSR remained in existence for way too long for the Stockholm Syndrome not to set in. It’s easier to see the horrors of a system when you remember how things used to be before that system came about. If, however, the system in question is the only thing you have ever known (and so did your parents and grandparents), rejecting it completely becomes a very hard thing to do.

Nazi criminals were put on trial in Nuremberg and their actions were defined as genocide officially. In the countries of the FSU, nobody was put on trial. People who murdered and tortured during the Soviet times (and now their descendants) are still in power and are doing very well for themselves. The Holocaust survivors became heroes while the victims of Stalinism turned into losers.

Since the victims of Communist regimes never managed to convince anybody that they were, indeed, victims and that their suffering deserved respect, it became easy for Communist sympathizers to adopt the egregiously offensive motto, “Soviet / Cuban / Chinese / Korean / etc., etc., etc. Communisms were not real Communism.” Such people discard the simple idea that if you try establishing a system time and again in different historic, geographic, ethnic, economic and linguistic circumstances and the result is ALWAYS genocide, then it is just possible that something is wrong with the system.

Communist sympathizers want to be outrageous, different and subversive, especially when it costs them absolutely nothing. They want to sit in their comfortable capitalist countries and shed crocodile’s tears for the imaginary downtrodden when, in reality, they shit on the suffering of actual victims if that suffering does not serve the correct ideological purposes. They roll their eyes and sigh, “Here she goes again harping on that boring Holodomor and the GULAG, which is beyond outdated” in a way they would never dare to do if the subject of my harping were the Holocaust.

Such people suffer from extreme intellectual laziness. They don’t even attempt to abandon the Cold War rut where Communism is the shining and paradisaical alternative to capitalism. Now that we all know how irredeemable Communist systems everywhere have been, it would make sense for our rebellious, anti-capitalist comrades to start looking for an alternative. Something completely different, something new, a set of ideas that falls outside the tired Communism versus capitalism dichotomy is in order. But who needs to do all that hard work when it is so much easier to pretend that the last 100 years of world history never happened?