Tag Archives: love

14 INSULTING LOVE SONGS

heartThis Valentine’s holiday, remember to take special care for the thoughts and feelings of your spouse or significant other. And also be careful to ensure that your words, actions and gestures can’t be taken as backhanded compliments, mixed signals, or even veiled threats. Many a promising affair has been aborted too soon by an unseemly, often unintended, insult.

This list of derogatory love songs isn’t necessarily about couples fighting, arguing, exploiting, cheating, breaking up, breaking hearts, or falling out of love. Each of those topics do cross over, of course, but could fill entire lists of their own. I believe I read some statistic somewhere that something like 152% of all songs written are love songs, so there was bound to be ample evidence of disparaging or downright offensive lyrics, whether intentional or not.

For the sake of brevity, I haven’t included any hip-hop songs, though their declarations of love are storied with unfortunate metaphor and sexist symbolism.

  1. It’s All Right With Me

Ella Fitzgerald’s song about ‘the other man’ is sort of about cheating, but she’s not addressing her devoted partner, but that secret lover that one would find so tempting.

There’s someone I’m trying so hard to forget
Don’t you want to forget someone too?

As someone who has been ‘the other man’ before, it is pretty disrespectful to be told that you are playing second-fiddle, or perhaps the rebound, or the distraction, for the head honcho who’s officially claimed your lover’s heart. Whether or not the subject in the song is aware of his role in this infidelity makes some small difference, but the insinuation is hurtful either way.

And hey, what do you mean by strangely attracted!?

  1. A Fine Romance

Surely an example of one of the first sarcastic love songs, this 1936 Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields song was used in the Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time.

These two are essentially discussing the difficulties of their “relationship”, but we all know how much Fred and Ginger (in-character) are really head-over-heels for one another. The sniping would’ve been pretty cute, if it didn’t reveal some tawdry innuendos about their lackluster love life.

A fine romance, with no kisses

So far, it has all the passion of a Rodney Dangerfield one-liner…

…you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes
A fine romance, you won’t nestle
A fine romance, you won’t wrestle

I– never mind.

I might as well play bridge
With my old maid aunt

Damn, dude. Just– damn.

A fine romance, my good fellow
You take romance, I’ll take Jell-o
You’re calmer than the seals
In the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins
To express emotion

Hey, maybe she’s into that. Ew.

In the film version, their ‘fine romance’ also has the complication of previous engagements, compulsive gambling, lies, a love quadrangle, missed connections and procrastinations. Who would ask for any other convoluted love story to tell the grandkids?

  1. I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good

It’s all in the title.

Songs about negligent and/or abusive loves who don’t treat you ‘sweet and gentle the way they should’ could fill an entire catalogue of their own. But when you’re so deeply in love, and yet somehow still lucid enough to realize that it’s a bad situation to be in, you need to accept some outside help.

And when she says:

He don’t love me like I love him, nobody could…

Does she mean that no one else has the potential for a love as monumental as hers (including him), or that she’s the only one foolish enough to fall for such a loser?

  1. Use Me

So while I actually do find this Bill Withers song pretty endearing (not to mention steamy), in which a man fends off the criticisms of his friends and family about his lady love, the underlying theme is one of masochism, and possibly a dangerously co-dependent relationship (see also: any Annette Hanshaw song).

…my answer yeah to all that ‘use me’ stuff
Is I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up

Eeew. Listen, if I’m your brother, I do not want to hear about how your girlfriend *ahem* used you.

He doesn’t even defend his special lady from these allegations, because he doesn’t disagree with their shit-talk at all. He just happens to enjoy the things that others, in their misguided wisdom, see as twisted and wrong.

It would be one thing if the context of hot, hard use were relegated to kinky bedroom activities, but he seems to allow and even get off on being treated ill in every-day social settings:

Oh sometimes yeah it’s true you really do abuse me
You get in a crowd of high class people and then you act real rude to me
But oh baby baby baby baby when you love me I can’t get enough

Notice that he doesn’t put up with her abuse because she has an otherwise effervescent personality, or a brilliant mind, or she’s a misunderstood monster, or even rude to him in particular but kind to children, animals and waitstaff… no, it’s specifically her naughty nighttime skills that make all this pain and suffering worth it.

…but it all depends on what you do
It ain’t too bad the way you’re using me

Could it be sexy Stockholm syndrome? Sounds like somebody needs to read 50 Shades of Grey instead.

  1. Love the One You’re With

Proving that the progressive movements of the nineteen-sixties were not without their own forms of misogyny, Stephen Stills belted out this free love anthem to hundreds of thousands of mud-covered fellow travelers, many of whom had trekked to Woodstock without getting a ticket for their freaky mama or man.

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talking to

Like, woah, man, I wonder why that might be?

…your baby is so far away

This is what’s known as “rationalization.”

And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with

Well, heck, any old person will do! That’s what love is all about, right, Charlie Brown? Just reach out and touch someone! The next lines at least establish the parameters of consensual love:

…a girl right next to you. And she’s just waiting for something to do…

‘I’m bored, wanna fuck?’ Now, the song doesn’t necessarily advocate cheating, per se. The ‘one you love’ in question may just be an unrequited crush, or imaginary ideal, or even Jodie Foster. But that means that the ‘one you’re with’ is simply a hole for your temporary amusement. Well, she may even be fine with this arrangement, but to frame her as a consolation prize… I mean, I don’t know any woman who is turned on by the words ‘Eh, you’ll do.’

Turn your heartache right into joy
Cause she’s a girl and you’re a boy

Yep. That’s all it takes. Unless you’re in the LGBT community. Or also, y’know, have standards.

By the way, I don’t even want to know what “rose in the fisted glove” means. Yeesh.

  1. Run for Your Life

Old blues and country standards are known for men professing their love for a woman with such romantic gestures as threatening to fucking kill her. You’d think that by the ’60s and ’70s we might have overcome our baser urges. And though this Beatles song from Rubber Soul was most likely a tongue-in-cheek tribute to that trope, I feel as though most people enjoy the jaunty ditty without ever acknowledging the horrifying lyrics.

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man…

Personally, I’d rather see her happy than dead, but what do I know?

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl

At least the potential homicidal maniac is self-aware of his little foibles:

Well you know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

Because if you can’t make your woman toe the line, she’s broken and must be murdered.

And in case you had any question to the sincerity of his words (they are, after all, a little hyperbolic):

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead

  1. You’re The One For Me, Fatty

Not only does he belittle his beloved repeatedly in the song with his economical lyrics, in typical Morrisey fashion he also makes the issue about himself by getting all needy and self-doubtful:

Promise you’ll say
If I’m in your way
You’re the one for me, fatty

I didn’t include ‘Fat Bottom Girls‘ because a) he’s not idolizing any one fatty, but all the fatties of the world, b) I’m pretty sure that no girl, fat or not, would have been Freddie Mercury’s cup-o-tea, and c) that song is clearly a genuine and sincere appreciation of big-bodied women. They do indeed make the rockin’ world go ’round.

  1. Amie

I can see why you think you belong to me
I never tried to make you think
Or let you see one thing for yourself

So here’s a guy who has given mixed messages to his girl, both putting down her ability to think on her own and admitting that he was controlling her in some way. That is Pure Prairie League, man.

But now you’re off with someone else and I’m alone
You see I thought that I might keep you for my own

Oh, now I get it. Now that she’s with somebody else, our protagonist realizes what life is like without her. He just wants what he can’t have! It’s not even about her at all! He doesn’t spend one second of the song praising her personage, intellect, humor, or even her beauty (which is what most love songs go for).

Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

I mean, Iunno. Whatevs. Leave that other guy for me and I promise you that I will commit to sort of liking you sometimes and showing up at your place at my convenience. There’s nothing a woman finds more attractive than wishy-washiness in a man. It doesn’t help that they end the song with the repeated refrain of:

I’d keep fallin’ in and out of love with you

Gee, what a lucky goil.

  1. Ruby

Ruby, don’t take your love to town

I can’t think of anything more special than immediately insinuating that your special someone is a whore.

So, right of the bat, I do feel bad for this guy. He just came back from that ‘old crazy Asian war’, or more accurately ‘atrocity-filled and unnecessary Vietnam police action.’ He tells this girl, who may or may not have been waiting for him, it seems, that he’s “not the man I used to be.” And with all the PTSD and ‘Nam flashbacks, I don’t think this is the best sweet talk. He grouses and moans about nobody wanting a mutilated amputee veteran, and pathetically opines that he just “needs some company”.

It’s hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralysed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age
Ruby, I realize,
But it won’t be long, I’ve heard them say, until I’m not around

Jeez, okay, we get it. You’re not exactly Casanova right now. Do you think it might not be your handicap, but your attitude? I missed the part where pity was supposed to be foreplay. And while I feel awful that society and the wretched U.S. government leaves its veterans out to dry, just because he’s done his “patriotic chore”, that doesn’t mean that Ruby’s “patriotic chore” is to pleasure or service your demanding ass. And if you really did realize the ‘wants and needs of a woman her age’ (shades of the chauvinistic assumption that weak-willed women are slaves to their hormones), then you’d step– *erm* –roll aside and let her live her own life!

This– this is where the song takes a sudden turn.

And if I could move I’d get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town

Oh, country music. You old reprobate, you! How I wish that The Gambler or perhaps even The Coward of the County would show up and teach this old horny toad a lesson or two in the mannerly way to treat a Lady.

  1. Until the Real Thing Comes Along


So, Dean. What have you got for us?

‘d wait for you

Good so far…

I’d slave for you

That’s a tad extreme, but fine…

I’d be a beggar or a knave for you

Um, not really sure that’s necessary, but okay…

If that isn’t love, it’ll have to do

Aww, kind of sweetly modest…

Until the real thing comes along!

Wait– What? So… you’ll do anything for this woman, literally anything… unless a woman to be determined later comes along that you end up liking more? That is… fucked up, Deano. Is she just, like, your place-holder, or something? What about all the other words? Were those all lies??

I’d lie for you

Did those words mean NOTHING?

With all the words, dear, at my command
I just can’t make you understand

At this point it just sounds like a lot of empty promises and sweet nothings, in an overcompensating attempt to convince some woman that he is committed.

My heart is yours
What more can I say?

  1. If You Wanna Be Happy

This one speaks for itself:

If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do
The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You’ll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She’ll always give you peace of mind.

Don’t let your friends say
You have no taste,
Go ahead and marry anyway,
Though her face is ugly,
Her eyes don’t match,
Take it from me she’s a better catch.

Now look. If this song were about accepting and loving somebody regardless of their appearance, or appreciating them for their inner beauty, it might still be a little insulting, but still a well-meaning message overall. Instead, this song manages to be superficial and shallow to both attractive and unattractive women. Pretty girls will hurt you, and ugly girls have no hope of finding better, so they’ll stay at home and cook for you. As if it would be impossible for an “ugly” girl to commit adultery, or have a bad personality. As though there are no “pretty” women who are kind, generous, witty, caring, or faithful.

Say man.
Hey baby.
Saw your wife the other day.
Yeah?
Yeah, she’s ugly.
Yeah, she’s ugly but she sure can cook.
Yeah? Okay.

And what makes you so great, asshole? You don’t really seem like the most self-secure man on the planet.

  1. Different Drum

I respect any consenting adult’s decision to explore open relationships, to honestly play the field, or just be a generally ethical slut. But this classic Linda Ronstadt tune from 1967 reads more like an excuse to blow off some pushy sycophant.

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

I’m more into guys who are… you know… kind of… whores.

Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

Hey, it’s not you, it’s me! Really! I’d be no good for you! I just can’t be tied down right now! I don’t need some needy little pissant trying to get with me. Get it?

So good-bye I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

So, go on now. Scoot. Go find a girl that will put up with you. Because you can’t handle this.

  1. Better Man

I hesitated to add this song, of course, because it’s so tragic and beautiful. But the implication of not being able to find a better man is pretty psychotic, when you think about it. She’s most definitely denigrating her own prowess (she really can’t do any better?), but it’s not a great vote of confidence for the man, either, that she thinks he couldn’t handle the truth about her nagging doubts and feelings.

She lies and says she’s in love with him… can’t find a better man

That’s a pretty horrible secret to keep from your boyfriend. And it doesn’t say much for either of your relationship or communication skills. He can’t intimate her emotions at all, and she’s more content living a lie than upsetting his fragile confidence.

She loved him, yeah, she don’t want to leave this way
She feeds him, yeah, that’s why she’ll be back again

This might be why she can’t find a better man. Most people wouldn’t put up with that shit.

  1. My Funny Valentine

I wouldn’t actually find this sort of thing that insulting, really. I mean, if you appreciate somebody for their weaknesses, quirks, or eccentricities, that’s much more meaningful than simply having an unrealistic ideal of your loved one (which is what most songs, poetry, and romance fiction is interested in). If you have a deeper understanding of that person, you’ll appreciate them every day, for every wrinkle, freckle and dimple. You want to find someone who doesn’t want to change you, but loves you just as you are.

In the above clip, however, Ole Blue Eyes just lays it on so thick as this poor, hapless girl just sits there and takes it. And what can she do? He’s the Chairman-of-the-freaking-Board! Even if she did muster the guts to find fault with, say, his drinking, or his family matters, or his portrayal of Pvt. Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity, he’d probably have just hauled off and slapped her.

Some people, you see, are not capable of love.

So the next time you’re putting together a playlist for your sweetheart, don’t just simply compliment their eyes and breasts. Tell them how much you deeply, sincerely, genuinely, truly, honestly appreciate their eyes and breasts.

Happy V.D., y’all!

Gifts of Lovecraft

If you’re anything as lucky as me, then you’ve found a significant other/trans-dimensional monster hunter/mental patient to share your life with, however short that may be. And if your beloved and accursed life partner is an enthusiast, nay, a votary, of all things weird and macabre, then you might need a little help finding the inspired gifts to show them the horrific holiday, blighted birthday or abhorrent anniversary you both deserve! These Lovecraftian artifacts will spell out your love beyond the ageless æons and non-Euclidean space, as the dread Cthulhu has already permeated our modern popular culture with its putrid tentacles… of doom.

BOOKS & ART

Whether a long-time devotee or curious neophyte, anyone interested in ‘the Mythos‘ could find no better place to delve than these gorgeous collections, The Eldritch Tales and the Necronomicon. The faux-leather covers and gold-embossed Les Edwards illustrations (not to mention the inside Virgil Finlay sketch of Howard Phillips Lovecraft) make these commemorative editions a must-have. Notably,  Robert E. Howard‘s Conan the Barbarian is also collected in a similar series, as the two share a contextual history. Then again, a lot of fictional universes dip into the Cthulhu Mythos, from some of Stephen King‘s short stories to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea‘s Illuminatus! Trilogy, and even more recently, episodes of South Park.

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

One might also gaze upon the maelstrom of aesthetes and devotees of the black arts, who have lent their skills to paintings, illustrations, sketches and essays of these mighty Elder Gods. The Lovecraft Retrospective is chock full of artists inspired by the Master of Horror Fiction, including H. R. Giger and Mike Mignola, among at least forty others (with an introduction by Harlan Ellison). Although Giger released his own Necronomicon work with an introduction by Clive Barker, and Mike Mignola, (in addition to doing a brilliant cover for a collection) also paid tribute to the man himself in the Codex Arcana. Not to mention the very looming presence of Ancient Ones in the Hellboy universe.

Or peruse the works of the late Jean Giraud, whether they be in full comic book form, or covers such as Lovecraft: Letters D’Arkham, Marginalia, 1975.

Speaking of art, it’s a damned shame (and I do mean damned) that, for copyright reasons, these hilarious crossovers, mash-ups or remixes are not available for purchase. Such as Murray Groat (A.K.A. Muzski)’s versions of Tintin within the Mythos, as Hergé/Moulinsart S.A.’s rights apply:

“I am getting alot of print requests by email, which is nice, but I have to sadly tell each and everyone of them that I cannot.”

cc5203223fe766c426332abee9c40d02.jpg

Or the multi-chaptered project to chronicle Bil Keane‘s The Family Circus as they fall into the inky æther of ‘unspeakable horrors.’

Or Dr. Faustus‘ Seussian retellings:

This is not to say, of course, that one cannot make a fine print of these deviations for personal, non-commercial use.

DRINK

One method of inducing a thrilling madness is to first enter a drunken stupor. Though many soporific aperitifs of the Eldritch abomination exist, only a few are readily extant and/or non-fictitious.

Demon’s Hop Yard IPA is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and can be found in several states (Lovecraft’s ‘Devil’s Hopyard’ was in his fictional town of Dunwich).

Clear, bright golden, with copper hues topped with a thick, clinging hop-induced lace that trails the beer as it’s consumed. Aroma is dank, resiny and saturated with a pronounced herbal character.

Miskatonic Dark Rye is a vegan and organic ale from (where else?) Portland, Oregon brewing company Captured by Porches. I’m sure it’s what the students at Miskatonic U get soused on as they pore over dusty tomes in ancient libraries.

Smooth. Rye spiced with chocolate and wine tones. Light to medium bodied. Made with organic two row and malted wheat, rye, and oats. Malted with crystal and chocolate. Hopped with domestic tettnanger.

Others are more secret, nigh-mythical brews, such as the Limited Edition New Year’s Black IPA by Us Vs Them, inspired by the dark lord Cthulhu himself, which is either no longer available or lying asleep for centuries.

Premium 2 row barley, coloring and caramel flavor from 2 speciality malts…the blackness comes from a special de-husked roasted malt called Carafa Special 3… it does not impart that very roasty, astringent or bitter coffee flavor you’d find in a stout, however it does leave a deep, dark tone to the appearance. It was bittered with Chinook and flavored with Amarillo Centenial and Simcoe and fermented with a California Ale Yeast to accentuate the clean bitterness and hop flavors.

Cthulhu Custom Etched Shot Glass

Of course, one needs the proper receptacle to contain the evil spirits with designs on your mind and soul. Might I recommend either the tentacled pint glass, or the Cthulhu custom-etched shot glass, (and filled appropriately with Kraken rum)

A fine gift could be made of Jonathan Chaffin’s Horror in Clay tiki mug, and now that his Kickstarter goal has been made, perhaps in futures told they shall be hewn from matter most foul, but do not seem for sale to the public just yet.

And apparently, HPL was a fervent coffeeholic, with these subversive subcultures crossing in several ways, including the now extinct Cthulhu Coffee.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgahnagl fhtag”  ~ Me, after tasting the foul bitters aforementioned

TOYS

All manner of adorable plushies of the Dread Lord can be found, but some creative artisans have crafted their own worldly totems, as prescribed by the visions in their feverish dreams.

John Kovalic’s My Little Cthulhu:

The various knitted Cthulhu patterns:

Or the abominable HP Lovercraft figure by Alex CF:

My first DIY action figure project is a hand molded, cast and painted effigy of Lovecraft, along with a copy of the fabled and despised Necronomicon! Each figure will come as part of a larger box set – including a copy of a comic I have written and drawn, a screen printed t shirt, a screen printed poster, badge and sketch, all in a wax sealed box! These will be available very soon! email merrylinhouse@gmail.com for inquiries!

ENTERTAINMENT

Though many directors have been influenced by HPL’s works, not many have successfully conjured a faithful translation of those strange stories (see: Re-Animator). In 2005, however, director Andrew Leman brought one of the finest independent horror films into our world and onto the silent screen:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society presents its all new silent film of The Call of Cthulhu. The famed story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920s silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score. Using the “Mythoscope” process — a mix of modern and vintage techniques, the HPLHS has worked to create the most authentic and faithful screen adaptation of a Lovecraft story yet attempted.


More importantly, for the purposes of gift-giving and love-making, a classic black & white flick is the perfect thing to curl up with your loved one on the couch, as a slowly creeping dread encompasses the both of you. (The prolific H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also villainously vends the album A Shoggoth on the Roof, a CD of Lovecraftian carolsArkham Asylum Certificates of Insanity, and other cult relics.)

The Evil Dead 2 (Book Of The Dead 2 Limited Edition)But if you really want a really great date night, allow the self-parodying  Sam Raimi and manly-chinned Bruce Campbell to open a deathly portal of Dead-ites, with your very own Necronomicon bound in a horrid human face! This Limited Edition ‘Book of the Dead’ isn’t necessarily easy to find, but is full of artwork and special features, and will scream when pressed if in mint condition!

H. P. Lovecraft IH. P. Lovecraft II

H.P. Lovecraft, not so coincidentally, was also a psychedelic acid rock band in the late 1960’s. They only released two albums in 1967 and 1968 before breaking up, renaming and reforming, but their best work were these early nuggets. They’re not exactly horrific or amorous, but their imagery is evocative and dreamlike nonetheless.

TRAVEL

If you desire to steal your beloved away for the week-end, perhaps a themed holiday is in order. If out West, wander to The Lovecraft Bar in Portland, covered in demonic symbols and cosmic tentacles, and visit the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con. Or make your way to L.A. for their version of the Eldritch Events. Florida each year holds the NecronomiCon, a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention now in its 31st year.

But for real historical ambiance, what could be more romantic than a getaway to New England, to the hexed locality that spawned so many legends of spirits and devils and witchcraft, and a never-ending litany of literary progeny, from Hawthorne and Poe to Lovecraft and King. Begin in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island (though the Angell St. family mansion was torn down in 1961). Take the walking tour of College Hill, his old stomping grounds. From there, expedition to Essex County, Massachusetts (Lovecraft commented often in his letters that Marblehead was one of his favorite towns, saying that he’d live there if he didn’t already live in Providence). The basis for many of the ports and towns in what came to be called Miskatonic County (with an eponymous river and University), or ‘Lovecraft Country,’ containing Dunwich, Innsmouth, Arkham, Kingsport and Billington’s Wood.File:Lovecraft Country.svg

Interestingly, the fictional county is close to Salem, already known for its occult history, and North of the Bridgewater Triangle, a modern hotbed of supposed paranormal activity.

MISCELLANY

If your fated partner cares not for those sweet nothings and sweeping gestures, perhaps the wretched aromatics of the Elder Gods will help spice things up, and the Picnic in Arkham: The Lovecraft Collection of perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs:

Azathoth is the blind, idiot god who sits on a black throne at the center of Chaos. His scent is high-pitched and screeching, both impenetrably dark and searingly bright with the clarity of madness: tangerine, saffron, vetiver, black amber and cedarwood.

Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.

The internet is resplendent with other mementos that profess your dark feelings, so be creative and think outside the box!

Diplomas:

Miskatonic Diploma (Herbert West) Poster

Purses:

And Elder thongs:

How would you like to start a religion?

In Alain de Botton’s recent book; Religion for Atheists, the School of Life philosopher argues the benefits of religious thinking. He points out that the shared values in humanist philosophy and religion are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, the structures and traditions of each may be useful in creating a society that we can all agree is good and moral, regardless of their personal God (or lack of one).

Big Think – Alain de Botton “Religion for Atheists”

Those with brilliant acumen for realizing the essential effects of religious and spiritual thinking, as well as skeptical and critical thinking, should use every tool to navigate an otherwise trapped society ruled by charlatan plutarchs and snake-oil salesmen.

Tim Mawson has argued that atheists need to pray in an open-ended fashion, at the very least as a personal experiment to falsify the possibility of one’s own spiritual pantheon. Or is this a dubious step down the path to belief, activating and placating the God delusion parts of the brain? Or can a sufficiently intelligent brain maintain the divisions between outwardly-seeming contradictory systems of thought? Though Richard Dawkins would ask ‘what’s the point?’, many others ask ‘what’s the harm?’

Or as Kadam Morten (teacher in the New Kadampa tradition of Buddhism) explains, the neuro and cognitive sciences have shown an increasing benefit to the sustained practice of meditation, which can permanently change the structure of the brain and improve attentional capacity. Buddhists belief in the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things – a kind of unified theory of everything, and that all of reality is a distortion, which is echoed in the disconnect we know exists between physical reality, our sense organs, and the brain that illusorily compartmentalizes our experiences. Morten reminds us that the human capacity for love, compassion, peace, apology, happiness and joy all live in the brain, and can be understood through the lens of both spirituality or scientific discovery.

Since we all seem to be wired for belief, whatever the survival mechanism that brought us to this point, these instincts have clearly had a massive impact on religion, art, society, ethics and emotion. And while the corroborative neural pathways in humans and other animals can tell us a lot about brain evolution, the more subjective questions of emotion may always be beyond our grasp. How could we ever fully understand what emotion an animal is feeling, or even apply the human words we’ve developed with our own electrochemical impulses? But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be more informed, more literate, in our empathic roles as researchers and investigators and thinkers.

Some of these questions are (as yet) unfalsifiable, which makes them useless to science, but not necessarily to our growth and adaptability as humans. Provided there is no conflict with the current model of scientific knowledge, the Canon, then perhaps the ever-evolving systems of religious and spiritual thinking in our history can also build into a productive model of social utility.

But reconciling the physical world of hard science and metaphysical speculation is nothing new, and the brain is certainly capable of maintaining multiple worldviews.

When Einstein referred to his God, he was referring to Spinoza’s God. Indeed, when Richard Dawkins denies God, he refers implicitly to the God of traditional theology, and not Spinoza’s being of infinite attributes… or being itself. In so doing, the Big Bang can be the creation myth, empirical discovery becomes our theology, the laws of physics our forms of magick, and the Heat Death of the Universe becomes analogous to the Eschaton.

The Philosopher’s Zone – Beth Lord “Spinoza’s God”

This is not to say that science is based on belief, that creationism is in any way equitable to evolution, that quantum physics can by extrapolated on the macro-scale to justify mystical flim-flam, or that energized memory crystals can infuse the power of intention to transform reality into the magical alternate version you desire. Some things are simply false notions.

Atheists are still the most hated and distrusted group in America, despite being on average just as moral and law-abiding as any random religious adherent (and certainly more than some I could mention). Reason and philosophy have different aims from religion, the extent to which these various factors rule our lives and interact and cooperate with each other partly determining the kind of person we will be.

Theists do battle with atheists, atheists fight right back, many religions disenfranchise or discriminate against others, while some atheists belittle agnostics and others whose beliefs and opinions differ from their own.

The false dichotomy has it that people on the right behave and believe irrationally, and that those on the left are amoral heathens. But what if all parties involved transcended their petty differences to find those sticking similarities? How could we organize our communities, nations, and minds in such ways as to accept the verifiable truths found in science, and the infinitely complex beings we believe keep us thinking, going, doing, feeling, and helping?

Lest we forget that our great American experiment was started by a group of deists, who believed in a necessary first cause but were otherwise largely agnostic regarding the idea of an interventionist Creator. They believed that intellectual pursuit, discourse, and hard work were what built a nation, not an affinity to ghosts and clouds. True, while many of the groups that came to America to escape religious persecution and indoctrination were more puritanical, many others rightly splintered from them. Splitters.

Even Scientology, which is only fifty-eight years old and is largely regarded as a cult of science-fiction quackery, has spawned a reform movement of former members now disillusioned by the Church, but still firm believers in the metaphysical benefits they receive through their form of worship:

Marty was given intensive auditing, carried out lengthy meditation exercises, and at one point during a “communication drill” in which he had to silently stare into a counsellor’s eyes for an hour, underwent what he calls an “out-of-body” experience. “I literally exteriorised from my body,” he says. “It was incredible. It changed everything.”

The tools of science reveal that meditation alters brain-wave states, ritual belief and thinking change the dosage of electro-chemical impulses, and fasting raises the user’s perceptional awareness and focus. All this without the drama of a a bullying god, danger of fraud such as dying in a sweat lodge under some nincompoop new age guru, myopic prejudice rendered by dogmatic interpretations, or tithing your savings to a theocorporate entity.

Perhaps a truly superintelligent being (AI, extraterrestrial, extradimensional, god-like, or ourselves in the near future) would need to explore an infinitely rich tapestry of realities involving scientific discovery, spiritual self-reflection, psychoanalysis and even experimental psychedelic use.

“It has to do with your own intelligence. Truly stupid people aren’t interested in psychedelics because they can’t figure out what the point of it is. It feeds off intelligence. It’s a consciousness-expanding drug. If you don’t have any consciousness you can’t expand it.”

-Terence McKenna

And while an extreme intelligence would be largely unpredictable, given that its parameters for growth and survival would be very different than our mortal comprehension, it is useful to note that no strategy or resource would go ignored or unconsidered. It should go without saying, but often goes unnoticed, that a diverse set experiences, techniques and modalities for thinking will yield a more well-rounded, intellectual individual with wider options and resources for problem solving and deep reflection. We may even reach a point in our development towards super-intelligence that allows us to induce analytical or spiritual thinking, psychedelic or profound experiences all at will, depending on what suits our present needs.

Science is still the greatest tool we have for discovering the truth about the physical world, and neuroscience may bring us answers in the coming centuries concerning our elusive and dated conceptions of consciousness and self.

But epistemology and metaphysics aside, the most pressing and useful marriage of these techniques and schools of thought could further the higher order ethics usually found in humanist philosophies, and in the desire utilitarianism of Alonzo Fyfe, as “the idea that morality involves using praise and condemnation to promote desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and to inhibit desires that tend to thwart other desires.” This empirical system defines ‘general good‘, which can be either true or false, and the more specific ‘moral good‘:

“A good desire is a desire that tends to fulfill other desires. A bad desire is a desire that tends to thwart other desires.”

It uses relational values in such a way to determine a moral realism and not a moral relativism, in the same way that, say, distance can be both relative and definitely quantifiable at the same time. This would seem to result in a society that pursues civil libertarian values that do not adversely affect the lives of others, while rejecting both the individual subjectivism of psychotics and narcissists, and any desires based on fictional precepts such as neo-conservatism or fundamentalist dogma. In other words, such a system of ethics avoids the dangers of both populist and oligarchical power-mongering based on false notions. It, like other rational forms of philosophy and political science, would allow religious followers to worship as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This would seem simple and American enough, and perhaps such a reasonable approach may one day replace the heated rhetoric and violent passion of theocratic conflict.

Conversations From the Pale Blue Dot – Alonzo Fyfe “Desire Utilitarianism”

In the realm of the secular sciences, peace is already being wedged into the Middle East, with cooperative endeavors such as SESAME, or Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications, which has been bringing together physicists from Israel and Egypt and Jordan, and perhaps eventually Iran.

Culture codes, languages and biases cannot be changed overnight. But perhaps the ongoing reformation (of art, science, philosophy, and religion) can utilize these ideas to bridge the gaps in these disparate fields. As we can see, they all have vital importance to operating minds, and we need only to overcome the contrived conflicts that have arisen through ignorance, but that may otherwise doom us with their obstinacy.

Happy V.D.!

Sexy sounds seduce you while the Stranger reduces the most romantic politics and steamy science of the week via innuendo, poetry slams, slow jams and sweet nothings…

PLAYLIST
In the Hall Of The Mambo King – Machito
Here We Are – ANNETTE HANSHAW
Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
My Funny Valentine – Miles Davis
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits
If I Were A Carpenter [Feat June Carter] – Johnny Cash
Love Street – The Doors
The Shadow Of Your Smile – Al Caiola
Today I Bought You Violets – The Continental
Is This Love – Bob Marley
Lady – Kenny Rodgers
She’s Gone – Daryl Hall & John Oates
I Love You Much Too Much – Santana
It’s A Crime I Never Told You About The Diamonds In Your Eyes – The Black Heart Procession
Bye Bye Love – The Everly Brothers
Something – The Beatles
Roses and Champagne – The Continental
I’m Sorry I Love You – The Magnetic Fields
Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love – They Might Be Giants
el manana – Gorillaz
Strip Tease – Alain Goraguer
(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right – Luther Ingram
Strong As Death, Sweet As Love – Al Green
I Can’t Tell You Why – Eagles
’69 Année Érotique – Serge Gainsbourg
Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers – Jeff Beck
I’d Rather Be With You – Bootsy’s Rubber Band
I Wanta Do Something Freaky To – Leon Haywood
Lay Lady Lay – Isaac Hayes
Generique – Alain Goraguer
The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room) – Flight Of The Conchords
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-02-11: V.D. by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

*The news reports that San Francisco’s venereal disease is on the rise. Let’s try not to achieve the wanton libertine image the rest of the country has about us, double-wrap that shit!

Honest

To be quite honest, its not like I ever actually expected to fall in love with the girl. In fact, at first, I hated her. I despised her and she annoyed the shit out of me with her stubbornness and her fallacies and her bitterness towards men. I’m sure that I must have come off as shallow, arrogant, and foolishly “intellectual” to her at the same time. Slowly, we began to get to know each other. We learned from each other, a mutual respect was formed. At first I though she needed to smoke in order to paint. In fact, she needs to paint whenever it is she happens to be smoking. She paints all the time, sober or not. She just doesn’t see the use in letting creativity go to waste, sober or not. She doesn’t see this as the source for her inspiration, just that when she smokes she runs the risk of getting lazy and unmotivated, and thus enjoys the recreation while doing something productive.
And to be real honest here, its not that I know I’m in love with the girl. I mean, I know that it sure feels like love, or that, I’m desperately trying to convince and tell myself that its not love and that it is at the same time. I’ve never genuinely been in love with anyone before, so logically I do not know what it could be. However, this defies all logic. You can rationalize infatuation to the point of psycho-babble. Love slaps ration in the face and brings to light indescribable things that should not even be accurately called ‘emotions.’

“Beauteous, Beautiful…” O such words!
What shameful trite and clichéd words!
What worthless hollow callow words!
What Elizabeth Barret Browning words!
What Byron, John Donne, Lovelace words!
What wordy William Wordsworth words!
Give me Emily Dickinson any day!
I’ll take Poe over Thomas Gray!
I cannot accept things so bland!
Wrought by redundant poetic hand!
Unexpressive tautology!
Meaningless phraseology!
What things to put me fast asleep!
Used by jocks who think they’re deep!
Repetition to proceed to bore us!
Why don’t they use a damned Thesaurus?
For despicable words like “pale beauty!”
Seems unapt for “anemic scenery!”
To call a woman ‘beautiful!’
Is simply saying ‘viewable!’
Inane, empty, unidiomatic!
Most men say it automatic!
But all the poets who abused it!
Had someone in mind when they used it!
Another to apply new context!
To that previous unworthy syntax!
And that is why I derive no shame!
In applying it to your fine name!
I feel proud and almost dutiful!
To clepe you thus by ‘beautiful!’

F. Scott Fitzgerald had this to say, “When the first-rate author wants an exquisite heroine or a lovely morning, he finds that all the superlatives have been worn shoddy by his inferiors. It should be a rule that bad writers must start with plain heroines and ordinary mornings, and, if they are able, work up to something better.”
Of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald also said that using an exclamation point was like laughing at your own joke.

And to be painfully honest, it hurts. It hurts a hell of a lot more than a high school crush or an infatuation with that girl you could never have or the one that got away or the lust for some unreachable celebrity. It’s a constant pain that whenever she’s near you, you know you can’t have her. You don’t even want her to have you, because you know she’s going to be happier with somebody else and its not fair to unload your burdens of love and emotions onto her. You don’t want to hurt her by telling her how you feel when its not her fault and she cannot reciprocate because she’s happy with somebody else. You take joy in that, but it still hurts. It would hurt you to be with her and ruin her life with somebody else even more. If you love something, set it free, but be damned well aware that it isn’t coming back to you.
Above and beyond all that, I only fool myself into wondering if it might be infatuation. I ask those questions because it would be a lot easier to have this be a passing thing, but I know it isn’t. This isn’t an ‘I think I know,’ but an ‘I know.’ Just the same as I know how to breathe, I know that I love her. The doubts in my mind are but failing threads of the rational and therefore irrational theory of a fleeting crush. Yeah, it hurts, but at the same time, I like being in love. I like how I am in love and I like the person it makes me. Sure, it hurts. But the love that causes it makes that likeable, too.
I suppose I really just want it to be a crush, for her sake, because it’s not fair to her that I love her.
I was told by a friend to grab life by the horns, to go ahead and tell her how I feel because its not as if it could hurt anything. Ha! What does he know? The point is, he put a label and a classification on the ambiguous thing that was there. She and I are too good of friends to make something out of this now! We know each other too well! We’ve gone past that seething resentment to a mutual respect to a dear friendship to a closeness wherein our painful pasts have come out to say hello and eradicate any chance of something ever happening. I wasn’t aware of it until it was clear that it impeded this progress.
To be real honest, here, though, folks, I didn’t even know I was in love until somebody else put it in perspective for me. Sure, I loved her, right from the start, deep down, but I wasn’t in love with her until somebody pointed it out and said, “Jesus, man, you really love this girl.” For God’s sakes, it’s clear from my actions what the feelings are! Why did everybody else know it except me and her!?
Oh, how I long for this to be but some cursory sexual fantasy. If it were but that then I could get it out of head and out of heart, but no. You stalkers and puppy-love angst-ridden teenagers with your crushes and infatuations don’t know how fucking lucky you are to have it be all about sex. To look at a girl and fool yourself into thinking that you want to be with her because you love her when in actuality it’s all about some lecherous quivering orifice. I need to tell myself it’s a passing sexual fantasy, but then I think about her wit, and eyes, and how perfect she would be for me if only I were good enough to be that person that could deserve such love, and not just some dumb fuck. When I think of her, I don’t think of her pussy lips or her bosoms, I think of her smile, and how I could possible make her laugh when she’s depressed. I think of the way her hair shines chatoyant in the sun behind her or falls down into her eyes when she spins. I think of the cute upturned button nose with her cute black-framed glasses sliding down as she works on her paintings and looks up, over the rim of them, when somebody vies for her attention. I think of her art, her music, her history, her silly laugh. She is silly. She’s the reason that writer’s write music and poets compose poetry. Every fucking Beatles song I hear doesn’t just remind me of her, it fucking makes me think that it was written because Lennon/McCartney would somehow someday know how I was going to be feeling for her.

Luminescent yellow, halo’d, iridescent, gay
shining brown, orange, close and far away
smells fresh and due to new and purulent
forever instant, temporarily permanent
lighting up, contrasting, impacting deep
dreamily waking, alertfully falling asleep
lovingly is yours.

And honestly, people, none of this does her justice. All the clichés and idioms in the world say nothing that’s actually pounding outwards from the interior of my head. They say that you will only know true love when you thoroughly fail to put it accurately into words. Well, that’s the case here, and all of my attempts are but slaps in the face of what I’m truly feeling.
That pain I was talking about, it’s not even a true pain, you see, because there is so much joy in it. Being in love with her, pain or not, is its own reward, and nobody can take that away. Get stoned on more pot than you’ve ever consumed in your entire life, and listen to the best music in all the Earth, and on top of that all the joys and pleasures and tastes in the world do not amount to a fraction of it. There is no negativity when I’m with her, or when I’m thinking about her. There are no skinned knees in Kindergarten, embarrassing school photos, wet beds, turned down dates, sickness, disease, death, famine, or bad personal history. All there is, is goodness, and deep hued skies and crystal bodies of water, and golden light and birds and squirrels and children and smiling and luminescent green patches of grass and the smell of sweet memories forming and with it all most of all her.
Honestly? I don’t think about her all the time, but plenty enough to make me happy.
Which amounts to ‘too much.’