Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Debate I: Elucidate

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Debate, our young, idealistic but morbidly depressed author – less than a month away from going to Marine Corps boot camp – is responding to careless statements made about his favorite movie (Fight Club) and his decision to enlist. Elucidate is an attempt to explain to the unfortunate opponent why our author’s venom was unleashed.
Disclaimer: this is going to be long. :shrug: It is no longer or shorter than it needs to be.

I tried to enter into the debate kindly, tried to warn you you didn’t want me to enter into it, in fact… then I feel attacked when you say things like “if the director had wanted to make a more thoughtful commentary” about a movie that has given me more food for thought than pretty much any other media I’ve ever experienced… or “i hate to be frank but I doubt you’ll change the system much” implying that I will lack efficacy in my goals… or “i don’t like tearing you down” implying that you think I look like a fool or a weak debater… or “as I’m sure you know, marines have a higher death toll than any other branch” implying that I must not have done my research or something… then of course I am going to respond in kind.

But I don’t debate for debating sake. This might come off arrogant, but I’m not kidding when I tell you I’ve only ever met one person who is able to hold their own in real debate with me (a real debate being one in which both debaters were well informed but had differing opinions) – and he is my friend Kai. The only other time I engage in debate is when I think the other person could have something to gain – if maybe I could teach them something. 

Otherwise, like I said, I don’t like to get involved… I am apathetic. And what did you have to say about that? Another dig: “and by the way, being apathetic and correct (assuming your correct) is worse than going out on a limb in persuit of a cause or the truth.” So what does that mean? If I enter into debate with you, I’m an asshole, and if I don’t, I’m worse than being misguided? Okay, cool. So how exactly do I win here? Fucked if I do, fucked if I don’t.

I’d love to just talk, too, but I feel that you need to take some accountability for the less-than-careful words you put out there. This all probably relates to our differences in the way we were raised – I imagine that you are used to support for the decisions you make (do correct me if I am wrong, baseless assumption is not a practice I like to engage in). Every single fucking decision I’ve ever made ALWAYS gets criticized BY EVERYONE. I never receive ANY god damn support from anyone, and must constantly defend myself from others. I get tired of it, I get tired of repeating myself, and I prefer to mostly just be silent. There was only ONE person out of the 30+ I’ve told at this point who didn’t flip me an hour of shit about joining the Marines and try to criticize every little thing about it. 

This is how it’s been for the entirety of my life. Another great example was my protest project [edit for blog: on feminism, presented in liberal Bellingham, WA], who even teachers that liked me and generally respected me derided as misguided. Well, I don’t care to do things the easy way. The system was fucked, I hoped to open some eyes, but people are so slow to throw off comfortable thoughts… eh. It’s all so futile. I couldn’t even talk to you about it – do you remember? – because before I’d even get to finish a thought, you or one of the three friends behind you would cut me off and spout off some bullshit. I’d try to answer that, and more interruption.

And yes, one can just “pick” things to argue about. I generally don’t do that. When we’re talking about an organization that I’ll be giving 8 years of my life to, it kind of matters to me. And when you try to find holes my position, you can bet I’m gonna defend myself and try to correct flawed thinking in your position.

Even here you say things that I would like do disagree with. Hatred is every bit as tangible and potent a force as love. I have thought about this for a very long time and I do not think that there is a single person who can truly and fully comprehend both love and hatred at the same time. 

You want to know what goes in inside this head? I grew up my entire life without love. My mother did not love me – she emotionally abused me my entire childhood and told me I was a worthless piece of shit embarrassment. As my weight approached 150 pounds (at height 6’6), she called me a greedy son of a bitch every time I asked for food. I had to work a part time job – on top of debate, on top of three AP classes – just to fucking eat. My dad was never around, my brother was an alcoholic. Do you understand how hard it is to love an alcoholic? The emotional roller coaster that results? 

I have no god damn idea what love is or was. All I ever saw was hatred – the hatred my mother inflicted on everyone around her, the hatred we all had for her. The only time she ever told me she loved me was when she was trying to get something from me – trying to appease her own guilt, trying to secure her future because she realized that despite her influence, I was the only child that would make it on my own. (Even though she once said “you’ll never be able to fucking make it out there in the real world, you whining sniveling spoiled piece of shit worthless fuck!”) 

And all the people I’ve ever thought I had feelings for – even just kind of liked – betray me. I have an easy time forgetting and moving on, because it has happened so often to me that it’s become like catching the cold. Before I left Bellingham, I had trusted you with the most personal writing I had ever done, and you said we would stay in touch. It takes an entire year to hear back from you? 

But I only have myself to blame. I ruined my one good shot at connecting with someone in a meaningful way via cowardice, via buying into my mom’s bullshit about being worthless and unlovable. But I’m done regretting that time.

And the one girlfriend I had was just enough of an experiment for me to verify my forgone conclusion that I will, in all likelihood, end up dying alone. Despite best efforts, despite intentions otherwise, I end up pushing away anyone that tries to draw close to me. I used to welcome this isolation; now I tolerate it while trying and failing to minimize or reverse it.

So when you tell me hatred isn’t a real emotion, when you tell me that it isn’t pure, isn’t somehow worthy of your concern, that’s like telling me my whole life isn’t worthy of your attention. You would not enjoy a movie about my life – it seems to me that you would call it somehow less than thoughtful.

You commentary on optimism and pessimism leaves out the only perspective worth talking about: realism. The thing about reality is, it tends to suck. The thing about our society is, most people build up illusions to shield themselves from the ugliness. For elaboration, see this article:

When I say that the average person in retail isn’t decent, I mean they lack decency. They are rude, selfish, and total assholes to the employees. If they are not these things, they are quite literally completely stupid. Like I said, work in retail for a year and see if you disagree. When you actually meet a decent person, you go out of your way to do any and EVERY thing for them, if only to spend less time with the scum of the earth.

If you just want to talk to me, that’s fine. Talk to me. But don’t tell me the things I’ve lived are somehow not worthwhile – are worth less than the things you’ve lived. Don’t treat me like I haven’t thought about my decisions. Don’t trap me in a double bind of being an asshole if I engage in your debate or worse than misguided if I do not. If you want to know how I am feeling, ask how I’m doing. If you want to know what I think, ask me what I think. If you want to know why I joined the Marine Corps… oh, you did 😉 (I was just waiting til the end to get to this stuff.)

The reasons I joined the Corps are many. Maybe that’s better left for another time – the more I tell people about myself the more they shy away from me. While I have accepted that I will die alone, it’s not something I particularly look forward to. I am so tired of being alone, LW. This entire year I have spent living alone in my apartment with virtually zero friends. I have not really told anyone how I’ve FELT for two full years. This is the closest I’ve ever come to that, in these past two years. And I like you. I even had a crush on you for a little bit! The last thing I’d want to have happen is to completely lose contact with you, but that happens to me all the time. It is something I am sure I will need to endure eventually.

To be honest with you, I’ve never been much of an appreciator of art. I’ve not understood it – same goes for poetry. I’m more of a music, novel, and movie kinda guy. But some art does resonate with me. I’ve always liked that painting of the frail old man playing guitar – rendered in drab colors. To be honest, that’s the only picture that stands out for me on your profile.

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