Saying you’re “quirky” means “I am well-off enough that I can act weird in this way.” Growing up in a working class environment as a queer person or someone who doesn’t fit in doesn’t make you “quirky”—it makes you bullied, resentful, and oftentimes deeply fucked up. There is nothing “quirky” about being quirky.
Jean Baudrillard wrote that modern people define themselves by the “smallest margin of difference” between their consumption and the consumption of people around them. You are “the guy who wears the top hat” or whatever. “The guy who dresses down on Fridays”. “The guy who is quirky”. There is no difference.
Think about the person who says, “I’m a programmer but I have a lot of sex.” In this case, they made being a programmer their “quirk”—it is a vacuous identification that furthers their own interest. They might justify this by thinking, “I am transforming the view of programmers everywhere to be more positive.” But in reality, this person’s ascent comes at the expense of programmers. Noone thinks, “Now that I know one programmer is sexy, I’ll have sex with this random fellow here…” They are having sex by virtue of some other aspect of their identity (being good-looking, being wealthy), and are using it to subjugate the entire field of “programmer-dom”.
BUT what if they succeed? What if they are so overwhelmingly attractive that other programmers benefit simply by association? Isn’t that the entire premise of being a rock star? “Started from the bottom now the whole team here”.
Okay now that I’ve written like 8 pages of analysis, deleted 7, and quoted Drake, I’m gonna call it a night
Rilo Kiley - A Better Son/Daughter
I heard them standing over me, the doctors.
“No, be calm. He just looks bad.”
“Bill operated on him didn’t he.”
“Be reasonable George.”
“Let’s just drain the cyst and go home. Take some time and cool down. Take a day or two. It’s been some week.”
“Fuck! Bill is such a weak sack of shit. Who the fuck hired him?”
“You know we need all the help we can get. He said he had sewing experience.”
“Even my hands are sore from all the cutting. Let’s just get this over with.”
“God damn it. Apocalypse medicine wasn’t fucking taught at Harvard!”
“Alright,” he took a deep breath, “Harvard is gone. I am the doctor. I am the doctor. Okay. Scalpel.”
Tinkling of metal.
“This knife,” a snort, “Is so fucking dirty.” The doctors laughed.
I opened my eyes, “Wait.”
I sounded hoarse.
“He just said something.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, look. His eyes are open. I saw his lips move. Hey, kid, say something.”
“I’m fine,” I said.
The doctor named George flipped through my charts. “Sitting by the Harding Bridge.. five miles from the blast center.. cysts from lungs up to mouth.. He should be dead.”
“I don’t need surgery.”
“How the fuck is he speaking?”
“Give me the fucking scalpel.”
“I don’t need surgery.”
“Yes you do, son, just relax.”
“This shouldn’t be happening. This shouldn’t be happening.”
“George… calm him down.”
“I DON’T NEED SURGERY.”
“Okay, hold him down. I’m going in bare.”
“You can’t. He’s awake. That’s against the protocols.”
“Look at him. He’s a fucking monster.”
“But the rules, George.”
“Fuck the rules, this is code red.”
“…Alright. At least give him some anesthesia.”
“Um, hello?? I’m fine. I’m FINE. Let me go, please!”
“Sorry kid.” George looked sad. “I am going in.”
“Hold him down.”
“More, he keeps thrashing.”
“Ugh.. I’m.. trying..”
“LET ME GO!”
“What’s all the ruckus?”
Everyone turns to look at the door.
“Bill.” The doctor loosens his grip. “You mother fucker.”
“Look what you’ve done.”
“Oh. Shit. My bad.”
By the third night, he had enough of doritos and shemale porn. His heart wasn’t in it anymore, and every vice he added (drinking, smoking, more porn) was accompanied by this ambivalence, this feeling of freedom of choice that made this seem less like a single slump than a continuous sequence of bad decisions.
After relieving himself again, his conscience struck him with the disappointing truth that he could be having fun doing something else.
I wish this were fun, he catches himself thinking. Like if it were fun, then life would be perfect. What’s missing? There’s the beer, the chips, the girls, the night, and this beautiful, expansive feeling of being alone. I can go to that lesbian site again, he thinks, only to be struck with this agonizing feeling of inanity, of purposelessness. It isn’t that he felt disempowered, but rather, the opposite!— he felt massive over-control of his surroundings, that he could just close the lid of his computer if he wanted to, get up and walk around.
He put his arm on the back of his couch. He felt more expansive that way. He thirsted for company, all of a sudden, and thought about going downtown and putting on a song on the jukebox in Old Harry’s. Maybe next week, he thought; his slacks were still in the wash. The girls looked less inviting now than they did before.
His windows were barred, but the sound of birds (it was four AM) came in. He hoisted himself up, snapped his laptop shut, and grabbed his jacket, and made his way to his kitchen. The stove light was on, casting shadows around all the pots and pans. There he grabbed all the empty condiments on the shelves, careful not to get any of the sticky remains on himself, and left the house. It was cold outside, and the wind was dead. But he knew the trash can would be there. He knew where it was. He made it there, threw the condiments away, and while hitching his pants up in triumph, felt the feeling of freedom evaporate.
Three experiments supported the hypothesis that people are more willing to express attitudes that could be viewed as prejudiced when their past behavior has established their credentials as nonprejudiced persons. In Study 1, participants given the opportunity to disagree with blatantly sexist statements were later more willing to favor a man for a stereotypically male job. In Study 2, participants who first had the opportunity to select a member of a stereotyped group (a woman or an African American) for a category-neutral job were more likely to reject a member of that group for a job stereotypically suited for majority members. In Study 3, participants who had established credentials as nonprejudiced persons revealed a greater willingness to express a politically incorrect opinion even when the audience was unaware of their credentials. The general conditions under which people feel licensed to act on illicit motives are discussed. — Moral credentials and the expression of prejudice (Monin & Miller, 2001)
You get tired of fools,
Likewise of shoes, thoughts, countries—
One by one, you leave them.
I thought of another puzzle. Decipher the following code:
“Don’t look back here yet!” the girl says, snapping her brown towel in front of her creation. I feign like I didn’t see it and put my hands over my eyes. We’re sitting on her couch, her dog and I, and her dog whimpers and rests her (his?) head on my lap.
I cry out in surprise. “The dog is drooling on me, Sue,” I say. She doesn’t acknowledge me. “This is serious! It’s like a typhoon!” I push the dog’s head away, laughing, and keep my hand on its ears. Sue’s eyebrows are arched in concentration as she dabs her pot with paint.
“What?” she says, “Oh,” and grunts.
It’s really a stupid project. She has to make up an art project for her pottery class because the professor didn’t think her “Madonna in Cubist Fashion” qualified as a serious attempt at pottery. Arguably, it didn’t, but who’s to say with Sue? She’s a higher order being, though it might be hard to believe as a teacher, when parades of self-proclaimed higher order beings march through your doors year after year. All I know is that she takes her pottery very seriously, even if the professors can’t or don’t want to.
The sofa is green and leather and worn, and a big reason why I keep coming back even after we broke up is that this is the most comfortable sofa I have ever found. The dog jumps off, so I kick my feet up, and I look up at the ceiling.
“It’s summer,” I say, “We should be out there planting grass.”
She dabs at the pot. Her lips are pursed with concentration. I don’t think she heard me.
“Or maybe riding roller coasters. Let’s go to six flags, Sue. It’d be a good break from all this shit.” I gesture at her sneakers, strewn about the carpet, which is zebra-striped by neglect.
She doesn’t look up.
“So what if you’ll fail your class. We’ll get married. Let’s move to Long Island, and raise white kids who play lacrosse.”
“That’s the stupidest fucking idea I’ve ever heard. Shut the fuck up, I’m trying to work.”
I keep looking at the ceiling. I’ve come to enjoy her outbursts, but I can’t tell her without ruining it. So I say, “All you do is work, you workaholic. You’re going to end up like Jonathan Franzen.”
I can feel her arching her eyes in my periphery. “No—you’re the one who’s going to end up like Jonathan Franzen. You’re a fucking louse. All you do is creep around and bother me. I dumped you three weeks ago. Get out of my fucking hair.”
“Oh—” I say. I hit a nerve. “Alright. I’m off. I’m going to Wawa. Do you want anything?”
She doesn’t respond. Her hating Franzen was an inside joke while we were dating, but it’s less funny now. She looks like a furious Medusa, with her unkempt, curly hair. She is staring at her art, refusing to make eye contact with me.
I’m unlatching the door when she says, “God damn it, Peter.”
I let myself freeze.
She sighs. “I don’t know what I want.”
I turn around, and she is standing there, shoulders slumped, hunched over a spiky porcelain ball. It looks like a land mine.
“I don’t either, Sue,” and I let that note resolve. It’s to her credit that she did too.