Dead Men Tell No Tales Redux: In the Beginning

If you have no idea what’s going on, start at the About page.

Let me begin by stating something that should be obvious. No one’s memory is perfect, as in, the events I end up discussing as I go through the history of my life may not have panned out in reality exactly as I described them. Odds are, if people who were involved at the time end up reading (and commenting), we are going to remember things differently. I’m not here to try to discern the factual reality of the events that transpired, because frankly, that’s immaterial. What matters is how I remember them, and how that shaped the decisions I would later make and the perspectives I would later take. While talking about the actual truth of what did or did not happen may be profitable towards mending bridges and reconciling – and I’m all for it – that’s a sort of tertiary effect of this exercise that I am not counting on happening.

So we start at the very beginning. I, obviously, don’t have a very cohesive memory of my early childhood, and my recounting of it relies heavily on vaguely remembered stories from other people interspersed with my own imperfect recollections. But something needs to be made clear up front – up until about the age of 12 I was more or less what I would consider a relatively normal, healthy, happy young boy. So far as I knew, we were a more or less regular family, and my mom loved me the best she could, my dad did the same, and while the kids may have fought amongst themselves from time to time, that’s just kind of what kids do. With perfect hindsight there are some things that stick out in this relatively idyllic early part of my life worth mentioning, and that’s what this post is going to be about – but by and large the take home point here is “relatively normal.”

I would not begin to become personally invested in music until I was about the age of 12, but music has played a very critical part in my thought life, and has often been the only reliable outlet I’ve had for emotional expression and release. Because of that, depending on what I’m writing about, I may include an obtrusive link to some song you’ve never heard of or don’t like, and spend way too much time talking about the lyrics and instrumentation solely to trigger you. And to begin this grand tradition, enjoy a link to Dream Theater’s Solitary Shell, which I would choose as an eerily accurate (and later eerily prophetic) sort of “theme song” for myself after first hearing it. And while obviously the lyrics are meaningful in and of themselves, you won’t get the full power and weight of the songs unless you listen to them for yourself.

He seemed no different from the rest
Just a healthy normal boy
His momma always did her best
And he was daddy’s pride and joy
He learned to walk and talk on time
But never cared much to be held
And steadily he would decline
Into his solitary shell

When it comes to my early upbringing, I do not know whether or not I cared much to be held. But by the time I heard the song (sometime in the early 2000s), deprivation of physical intimacy was already a fact of life I’d come to accept, and so the lyric rang very true for me. Moreover, at that same time, I was already descending into a “solitary shell,” and I don’t know how early that trend started, but I’ll talk about its possible origins in just a bit.

The first thing I want to discuss is that I grew up in an ostensibly Christian household. We regularly attended Church as a family and as youth we were actively engaged in Sunday school and likely a number of other church activities I don’t recall too well. I remember my brother – 8 years my senior and a half brother technically, though we’ve never thought of each other as such – even being in some kind of a teaching or leadership position in the Sunday school. I remember taking great pride as a youth in memorizing and reciting scripture, earning badges and trinkets and baubles and praise for such performances, and doing my best in church-organized plays and things like that.

One of my earliest personal memories – vague though it is – must have been from when I was around two or three, given what I know about my age at the time I lived in this particular house. I can remember praying to have Jesus (like most people, I didn’t then have any idea that Jesus was not the Messiah’s name, or even what “Messiah” meant, or that his last name wasn’t Christ, and on and on and on – but none of that stuff matters for a child, necessarily) enter my heart.

Importantly, I can remember making my own decision to be baptized (which I was) and more importantly I remember being quite young (but old enough to understand the implications of the decision) in front of the congregation taking a vow with several other similarly aged youths to never have sex until I was married. I don’t know whether hand jobs and masturbation on my part have rendered this vow broken, but to this day I’ve not had intercourse with a woman (before you ask, neither have I with a man, nor am I interested in such a thing) – and, I might add, not for lack of trying or desire. (I am 27.) But we’ll get into all of that in due time.

As a boy he was considered somewhat odd
Kept to himself most of the time
He would daydream in and out of his own world
But in every other way he was fine
[INSERT CHORUS HERE – the lyrics are not as relevant to this stage of my life]

From a very early age I developed two poignant methods of escapism. One was an active imagination fostered and nurtured by primarily, I think, my brother, directed towards the end of creative writing. I very much admired and looked up to my older brother, and tellingly, he was a bit more of a father figure to me than my own father was. My father, I am told, was engaged in rearing me as a baby and infant and very young child, but when it came to who I remember going to for advice on anything – especially when it came to matters of masculinity – my first real role model was my brother. This was the birth and origin of a trend that would follow me for the rest of my life, where I would choose a role model to emulate and do my best to make decisions the same way they did and simultaneously win their approval, sometimes at the expense of what I personally wanted to do.

The second method of escapism was hoisted upon me even while I was fresh in the womb, which was video games. My mom actively played video games all throughout my pregnancy and my brother was, in his youth, a somewhat avid video gamer. As a baby/infant/what have you, he would often hide the first player controller behind his back while he gave me the second player controller; he would be playing the game but “tricking” me into thinking that I was playing the game. I started playing them for myself at a very early age, and got into relatively complex games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior which required a lot of reading and rudimentary math skills to enjoy. Because of this my parents quickly got tired of having to read things for me, and in order to continue playing video games I learned to read well in advance of going to preschool. My brother was primarily, as I recall, the one responsible for that kind of a thing, and he would continue to foster a love for learning and particularly literary skills as I grew – which, had he not, I probably would be much worse off today, since public education did everything it could to make me hate learning. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

If we return to the first verse of our theme song, specifically the line about retreating into a solitary shell, I think I can estimate the origins of that in my life. Due to financial follies, our family moved around my hometown like clockwork, pretty much once every three years. For whatever reason – and, having talked at length to both of my parents about this, I’ll never truly know what happened or why it happened – bills would stop being paid a year or two after moving in and then by the third year we’d get kicked out and the process would repeat. The end result was that, until the 4th grade, I was in a different school district every time this happened. So I had one set of friends in preschool, then brand new people to befriend in kindergarten, then brand new friends to make in 1st-3rd grade, and then brand new friends to make again in 4th grade.

This had two effects. One, I learned how to get along easily with people, but two, I detached from making strong emotional ties to anyone because I couldn’t trust that they’d be around long enough for the investment to be worthwhile for me. What was the point in getting super attached to any particular friend if I kind of knew in the back of my mind I might not see them next year because we’d be moving? This just reinforced my tendency to retreat to fantasy realms, be it my own personal creative fiction or video games, and bear in mind that at this time video games were very certainly not cool or socially acceptable like they are today. I was certainly considered “somewhat odd,” though had my own way of dealing with people who tried to bully me and as such never went through a lot of bullying. In fact many I went to school with seemed to perceive me as one of the “popular” kids – an irony that would weigh very heavily on me. But. We’re getting ahead of ourselves again.

One very poignant example of me actively withdrawing from my peers for no real good reason – and beginning a trend of treating people who wanted to get close to me and could’ve possibly been good for me poorly – happened in the 4th grade. I remember it was one of the early days of being new to the school and I hadn’t really made a lot of friends yet. It was recess and I went over to the swing by myself and just kind of sat there. I must’ve looked sad because I remember feeling sad and unprompted a girl innocently came over and tried to ask if I was ok. Her name was Allyse, and unbeknownst to me at the time, she would grow up to be a stunningly attractive young girl and woman. None of that really mattered to a socially stunted prepubescent boy and so I kind of curtly told her off and that was that. This, too, is the origin of a pattern that would repeat.

In the town I grew up in, elementary school ended at 5th grade and middle school began at 6th grade, meaning you were dumped into larger social pool and had a change up in expectations, class structure, etc etc etc. Middle school was also where the more or less relatively innocuous childhood with which there was no major unhappiness began to become unraveled. As such, it is best left for a separate post – one I may write and publish immediately, but one that should be separate nevertheless. Before I do, because I don’t want to reuse songs in future posts (beyond perhaps mentioning them again in passing), allow me to finish analyzing the rest of the lyrics and how they would describe and even come to predict my life.

He struggled to get through his day
He was helplessly behind
He poured himself on to the page
Writing for hours at a time
As a man he was a danger to himself
Fearful and sad most of the time
He was drifting in and out of sanity
But in every other way he was fine

In school I quickly developed a habit of falling behind in work only to rush at the last possible minute to get it all done in one frenzied burst. I suppose if I were to try to explain it, it was a way for me to add a certain degree of challenge that was otherwise completely lacking. As for pouring myself on the page and writing for hours at a time – it’s something I still clearly do, though especially earlier in life I often did it either developing fiction (which, as I grew older, was mostly just an outlet to express my inner turmoil) but later became this sort of introspective nonsense that no one has ever given a shit about.

The bit beginning after the line “Writing for hours at a time” is eerily prophetic. For those that don’t know me, that more or less became my life – I’ve been in the psychiatric ward 6 different times and the government often considers me a legal danger to myself, which means I have no rights when it comes to the types of treatment I receive.

Both choruses also apply to my life, though I didn’t take the time to type them out and analyze them. Consider that your bit of homework, casual reader – if you even exist – since it should be pretty easy to piece it together if you follow the rabbit trail I’m building.

The Problem

Let’s get real for a minute or two. The perennial question of my life – asked not only of me but by me, perhaps in equal amounts – is just what is wrong with me? Really? At no point in my life (outside of hypomania or outright mania, which I’ll get to in a bit) have I ever described myself as happy to anyone I trusted enough to be honest with. And while I’ve had reasons to be down, I’ve also certainly had reasons to be content.

I used to beat myself up about feeling down. Why was I so bothered by my situation? I always had a roof over my head, never came close to being homeless or starving, never suffered physical abuse, was gifted with above average intelligence (seemingly able to become adept at whatever it was I put my mind to), envied in a lot of ways by others… I’d guilt trip myself about these things, thinking about all the people who had it worse and how they still managed to figure it out and pull things together. So I’d try not to think about what was bothering me, and I wouldn’t talk about it with others. I felt like I was squandering all the blessings I’d been given – surely, as I wallowed about in my ennui and self-pity, there were a dozen other poor souls in some third world country somewhere who weren’t even being given nearly the same shot at life that I was and could still muster a better attitude about the whole thing than I did. What’s my problem?

In my youth I thought my problem was my mother. It seemed pretty obvious. She was emotionally abusive, and I’ve vomited enough words about that before. Naturally I thought that if I could just get away from her, then surely everything would work out. At first I just wanted to go live with my dad after the divorce happened, but my mother wouldn’t really allow this so I began to concoct more elaborate schemes to get away. I got accepted to a college while I was still in my junior year of high school, and they were going to take me even without a high school diploma – this plan fell through because my parents never finished filling out their end of the financial aid forms for various reasons. Then I tried to convince my mom that she should let me move in with a friend and his family but she wouldn’t allow this either. Eventually I worked out a deal to stay with another friend in Utah and told my mom I was going down there to go to school (which I wasn’t really) and thus began my adventures in Utah.

I suppose it bears mentioning that, at the time, if Sara had expressed to me that she’d rather not have me go, then I would have stayed. In any case, I envisioned some glorious future where, free of my mother’s negative influence, I’d be able to finally get down to writing my novel and perhaps find someone to date and even settle down with. As time wore on, however, I found this wasn’t the case. Despite having all the time in the world, I never sat down and wrote my novel. I failed spectacularly at any attempt to date. And I became more depressed than I’d ever recalled being. Yet despite all that I was still “doing well,” by other standards – I was racking up promotions and making way more money than I needed, able to afford anything my rather simple tastes could want.

And though I would rarely if ever admit it, there’d been plenty of times in my life where I’d been suicidally depressed. Though, I’d made an agreement with myself that I would never actually kill myself, because I felt it would somehow be like spitting in the faces of all those people born in other parts of the world who would do anything to have the opportunities I had. So instead I thought up this kind of “passive suicide” thing, which more or less amounted to not taking care of myself since I mostly couldn’t find a good reason to be alive anyway. This manifested itself to the extreme extrapolation of being okay with putting myself in a war zone and potentially getting killed and underscored some of my motivation in enlisting (aside from the more positive benefits – you know, training and education and maybe finding a purpose and things like that). I’d reasoned that if I couldn’t find a reason to to live, perhaps I could give my life to others so that they could. Or something.

Then I had the whole request mast bleeding into a manic episode thing. From the point where they told me I was being retired and had no chance in the military until my next episode, I more or less felt dead inside. During my next episode I had some crazed idea that I’d be able to start my own company and that seemed like a purpose, but once reality set in again I had nothing. I slowly started to piece things together after this (and particularly during my relatively minor third episode) and I guess that’s where things get a little complicated.

For a long time I was an agnostic. I even went so far as to call myself an apatheist. I ignored, for the most part, the religious overtones of my first episode and remained an agnostic while I was at the Wounded Warrior Battalion. One week before I had my second episode, I had a chance encounter with a bible study group at a train station while I was looking to get my bus pass figured out, and ended up taking a few business cards from the organizers. My second episode hits – again with religious overtones – but this time I wasn’t treated in the same manner the military doctors had treated me. The military doctors more or less issued me an ultimatum in the ward that said I wouldn’t be getting out of the maximum security area until I no longer had any grandiose thoughts – so I more or less shut myself away in my room for a day and forced myself not to think those thoughts. (I documented this in God Complex.) For my second episode, however, I was in the care of a state facility and they issued no such ultimatum, so I ended up talking a lot more freely about these religious preoccupations.

I’d grabbed one of the bibles off the reading shelf and (I don’t remember doing this) called one of the local pastors who had left his sticker on the inside of the bible. For whatever reason, he came down with another person from the church and visited me in the hospital. After I talked with him he pretty much told me I was off my rocker, left me with a bible and said (one way or another) I needed to get my stuff straight by reading that. Which I proceeded to do. It wasn’t the first time in my life I’d seen a bible – our family went to a Baptist church when I was growing up, and I used to win memorization contests and so on – but I hadn’t seriously opened one in a long time.

The more I read, the more things made sense. When I got back home, one of the bible study organizers (who had spent the past 30 years studying pretty much any religion you could think of) helped me through a lot of things as well. And this is where we get to the tricky part – I’m convinced God exists on the basis of what happened to me (which, mind you, I haven’t particularly written about in this post). This is tricky because any skeptic would dismiss my “proof” as being delusions caused by a mental disorder. It also puts me at odds with the vast majority of people I used to associate with.

On the other hand, I’m at odds with most Christians because I don’t really believe a lot of what mainstream Christians do. Moreover, I don’t yet currently believe the Bible is truly infalliable. This is because it is a collection of writings by some thirty or so different authors written over the course of thousands of years (itself now being thousands of years old) subject to all sorts of translation and transcription errors throughout time. I mean one of the most obvious errors with it is that it always says “do not take the name of the LORD in vain” but you won’t ever find “the LORD’s” name in any popular modern translation of the Bible! (Or Jesus’ name, for that matter!) Besides, if scripture truly were perfect, you wouldn’t need a teacher to explain it to you. (Moreover, Yeshua would have never had to come, even in his time, and explain to his disciples why the scripture pointed to him! Even back then, with much closer proximity to the events and in the original language and all that, people didn’t understand scripture.)

What I’m getting at is that I do know and believe that divine intervention has played a role in my life. Many wish for something like this to happen to them. Even still, I’m left wondering – now what? I seem to be stuck in the same rut. I can’t think of anything that truly excites or motivates me. Sure, sometimes an idea comes around (like the one a few weeks ago, now, about being a math teacher) that amounts to being “nifty.” But the enthusiasm is gone as quickly as it comes. There’s always The Problem. What’s wrong with me?

If I had to wager I’d say it’s this. Even if I’ve had other people love me, and show me love, and even if I can point to the best definition of love I can think of, I still can’t say that I know what love is. Moreso, I can’t say I know how to love others or how to love myself. The bible instructs that we are to love others as we love ourselves – but what if you don’t love yourself and don’t know how to? A lot of my relationships with people can be summed up as me trying to diabuse others of the notion that I’m anything other than awful.

And I really hope you don’t get the wrong idea and take this as an opportunity to be the next person to try to do something in that vein. Or that you think I’m fishing for compliments and what not. Because I’m not. And that’s exactly the kind of response that would normally keep me from expressing any of this. But there it is – in more words than I intended and probably a lot less than were sufficient – The Problem.

For maximal shame, today’s retro post is an awful poem I don’t even remember writing (or why I wrote it). Nevertheless, “enjoy.” As for scripture, the beautitudes seem fitting:

[MATTHEW 5:3-10] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Words Words Words

Sorry about not updating for a bit. Part of the problem is that I’m not sure exactly who my audience is or what exactly they’d like to hear, so, anybody leaving feedback asking to hear about such and such subject or tale or what have you would be greatly appreciated. Here are the various periods of my life which may or may not be interesting to learn about:

  • Childhood to parents divorcing, 1988 til ~2002
  • Divorce to dropping out of high school and moving to Utah ~2002 til 2006 (with the help of a good friend and his brother, until I turned 18 at which point I lived on my own)
  • Living in Utah until I ship to boot camp, and the rationale behind changing from a relatively “liberal,” “anti-war” sort of guy to a Marine, July 2006 to October 2007
  • Boot camp, Marine Combat Training, and MOS (military occupational specialty) school plus my final stateside leave before shipping out for Okinawa, October 2007 to January 2009
  • Okinawa tour, January 2009 – February 14th, 2010
  • February 14th 2010 til approximately June 2011, aka the Wounded Warrior Battalion, early “retirement” and the psych ward hat trick

Note also that my own personal memory is notoriously bad and can sometimes be at odd with the “facts.” Then again, a lot of the “facts” (especially prior to 2002) are hard to discern because everybody in the family has a different take on just what happened, so, who knows. Anything after 2004 is more or less reliable, as I started to better keep track of and document things.

Anyway, today’s got me thinking about contrasts. It always comes as a shock to me when people tell me I’ve been a positive influence on them. Two examples of this really stand out in my mind – the first was when many of the Marines in my company looked up to me as a hero shortly before (and, more surprisingly, even after!) the incident two years ago, and the second was just recently when somebody told me that I had saved their life.

This contrasts quite sharply with the rather horrible, self-absorbed way I’ve more or less taken a crap on a lot of people who’ve had the misfortune of caring about me. Most people I just kept at an arm’s distance, and this “worked” well enough for me and for them. But there were others who got fed up with my games and tried to call me on my BS, which prompted me to vent all over them. The first such person I can remember doing this to was SD, and I was pretty well wrapped up in regret about that for a long time. The situation more or less “resolved” itself (as best it could) around January 2009 when I realized that things were just going to be the way they were.

Then there was KL, who was a more recent victim than SD. For what were probably stupid and selfish reasons, I basically told KL to get bent and swore I would never correspond again. Then, under the influence of the events of February 14th, 2010, I email KL with a very curt apology, which, surprisingly, is accepted. Of course, being that I’d be locked away in a military psych ward for a while, I don’t get back to KL for another month besides. And as you can imagine, talking to somebody while you’re still locked up doesn’t exactly lead to profitable conversation. Not to mention my treatment the first time around wasn’t the best (which those of you who read my “God Complex” write up last year might remember – for those of you who didn’t read it, I may or may not get around to putting it back up)…

So yes, having someone tell me I saved their life contrasts quite sharply with how I’ve treated these other people. Moreover, my outlook on my own behavior contrasts quite sharply these days as well – it wasn’t long ago when I actually prided myself on how much of a douche I had been to these people. This is evidenced by today’s retro post. I think there were other emails where I said even nastier things – and then I’d go around and gloat to certain friends about some of my choicer phrases, leaving them in awe that I’d actually say such things to people.

We’ll close with some scripture that more or less speaks for itself. First, some verses to remind me not to be prideful, as I once was:

[COLOSSIANS 3:12-15] Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

If you’re like me, you may have problems knowing what love is. (Which gives me an idea for a post for tomorrow if nobody chimes in with feedback!) Thankfully, scripture can clear this up:

[1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8, 13] Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away…. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Mother’s Crazy But She Runs the Family

“Mother’s crazy but she runs the family.” This is the first line from Toy Matinee’s song, There Was A Little Boy, which discusses everything wrong with growing up in a single mother family. My parents divorced around the time I was 12, and it was then that I became intimately familiar with my mother’s unique brand of tough love (some might say, psychosis). As I was growing into a young adult, I remember being shamed and ridiculed into silence everytime I made a bad remark about my mother. Perhaps this was a symptom of the area I grew up in – lovely old Bellingham, Washington, one of the most liberal (and feminist!) towns I’m aware of – but mother worship is just another fact of growing up in the West. Even bad men love their mamas – so why didn’t I? After all, she went through the pain of birthing me and so on and so forth. I quickly learned to just keep my mouth shut about my awful mother. In private, I’ve known several men who have admitted to having an antagonistic relationship with their mothers, but it’s something you rarely see proclaimed loudly.

You may have noticed that I’m something of the “music man” around The Spearhead – several of my posts are analyses of songs. I’ve found that music captures and expresses emotional sentiment far better than I could ever manage to. Thus, songs serve as a sort of crutch for me when I’m discussing emotions, that most unmanly of conversational topics. Toy Matinee only ever released one album, in 1990, and the frontman/singer for it was Kevin Gilbert. Kevin Gilbert was involved in producing some of Madonna’s tripe, if memory serves, but much more importantly he released a few albums of his own. He passed away in 1996, but you could say he went out with a bang – having died of autoerotic asphyxiation. I suggest you check out There Was A Little Boy for yourself before you read the rest of this piece, but if you don’t, I’ll be copying the relevant lyrics as we go along. For example, here’s the first verse:

Mother’s crazy, but she runs the family
Two older sisters, and the boy who’s nine years old
He’s old enough to see the way it’s going
Somewhere the birds are singing
But Mother’s all alone

This isn’t a perfect mirror of the way I grew up, but it’s fairly close. I had an older brother and a younger sister in place of “two older sisters,” and as I mentioned, my parents were still together when I was 9. Nevertheless, even when my parents were together, my mom definitely “ran the family.” My father was in charge of finances, but that was about it. If ever we needed a parent’s permission, we knew to get our mother’s, because our father had no authority in our home. The third line is interesting because I think – perhaps due to my own personal experience – that people begin to form their first very clear memories around the time they are 8 or 9. (Sure, some people claim to remember even their infant years, but that’s considered exceptional.) I take the “birds are singing” line as a metaphor for the mother being crazy, and “but Mother’s all alone” seems to imply that even though the mother might be physically present, she is emotionally distant. (Obviously the line implies she’s single, too, but I like to take my analyses deeper than that.) Second verse:

He needs a father, but she takes a lover
This man is not a friend, shows no friendship
This man just waits around to play with Sister
But he plays too serious, he plays too rough

Again, this isn’t a perfect mirror to my circumstances, but it’s fairly close. Much has been written about how children need fathers, so I won’t go too much into that subject. The first two lines of this song are a succinct reference to the preference for alpha male jerks controversially observed in, for example, the Roissysphere. The man my mother tried to settle down with after a few years wasn’t much of a father either – and had already been divorced, with kids of his own – but thankfully he wasn’t a sexual predator like the step-father in this song. I’m certain I’ve read an article recently about how step-fathers are more likely to be sexual abusers, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Anyway, I don’t think the assertion needs too much proving around here, though obviously there are exceptions and some step-fathers are great men. The chorus:

How can you expect a child to understand the sickness of a world whose eyes are blind?
The dying man inside this boy is questioning his once upon a time
(There was a little boy)

There’s not much intelligent or cogent that I can say about this chorus. It comes up later with some additional lines, but the first two are powerful. It took me 21 or 22 years to “understand the sickness of the world,” and I’m still coping with the fact its “eyes are blind.” The dying man inside me started questioning my once upon a time right around the time I hit puberty. I am not an isolated case. Next verse:

He leaves home early for a loveless world
And he finds what he needs with an older boy
He’s got a couple things to hide from Mother
He hopes she’ll understand, she hopes he’ll change

I’ve read some articles that talk about how a child learns intimacy and how to love from their parents, and that if a child fails to learn this from his (or her) parents, then he (or she) goes into adulthood with a crippled ability to relate to and trust other people. (I wish I had some links to these articles, but I didn’t bookmark them.) Such a world is certainly loveless. I can also relate to finding what I needed with an older boy – although, this implies the boy gets involved with a gang or something similar, which I never quite did. I idolized my older brother for a time, and then befriended many older male friends through the internet. (By older, I mean 4-8 years my senior.) I sometimes felt as though I had things to hide from my mother – though, that was more just childhood tomfoolery than the sort of gang trouble implied in this song. Even still, as the years have worn on, I always hoped my mother would understand me better, and I am sure she hopes that I would change and include her more in my life. The chorus returns at this point, its potency alliteration-enhanced:

How can you expect a child to understand the sickness of a world whose eyes are blind?
A world he cannot hope to conquer, insecurities that fester in his mind
No choice, no fault, and no way out, no blame, no guilt, no friends, no cure, no crime
The dying man inside this boy is questioning his once upon a time
(There was a little boy)

As before, there’s little of merit I can add to these powerful lines. My mother made me feel disastrously insecure as I was growing up. I remember one particularly bad argument with her. One of my best friends and his family had agreed to take me into their home, because the situation in my own was getting out of hand. I approached her about this and she flipped out, as was her modus operandi. The conversation veered towards (as it usually did) how much of a failure I was, and I remember how she asserted that I could never make it on my own because of how hopelessly pathetic I was. The sad part was that for a few days, I internalized this and believed her. Thankfully, I had some decent (great, really) friends who helped reassure me, and shortly thereafter I resolved to prove her wrong. I effectively ran away at the age of 17 and relocated to Utah to start over.

The “no choice, no fault” line sums up how I felt growing up and what I think a lot of boys are feeling in this age. For example, all of the forces that are arrayed against them are not their fault, there’s rarely a way out of it (we men can talk of expatriating, but what is a 12 year old boy with a single mother and abusive step father to do?), it’s hard to find blame with any one person or thing (and even if you can, what good is assigning the blame?), and friends can seem hard to find if you’re being shamed about your “mommy issues.” Final verse:

This boy was once a strong man, but getting weaker
He carries more than just the shame inside
His mother stays away and faces nothing
She blindly wishes for a happy ending

This verse stands out to me, as well. As the years wore on with my mother, I got wore down. Where once I dreamed big – becoming a famous novelist, becoming President, having a big happy family and so on – I later actually devised ways in which I could fail and disappoint. At the apex of this mindset, I enlisted (for convoluted reasons not worth examining here), which I did in part to spite my family. All the while, my mother could never own up to what she did to us children, waxing sentimental about how we could all get back together some day and be “a real family again.” Excuse me while I vomit.

On that note, I hope your holidays went well and that you have a good New Year.

J. Durden aka Dr. Deezee is the chief architect of the Internet Hate Machine and has hated the holidays since at least 2004. Bah humbug.

Preaching from the Peak: A Conceptual Parable for the Information Age

[Warning: This is a very different post from what you may be used to. It has multiple layers.]

Come with me on a thought experiment where I will play with your perceptions. To begin, you must blank your mind and, try as best you can, to empty it.

Successful? Good.

Now, what do you perceive? I should be the only thing on your mind right now, besides perhaps a persistent perception of yourself. How do you perceive me? Can you see me in your mind’s eye? Or am I more like a disembodied voice in a cave, speaking to you in ethereal tones? Perhaps you see me like some miserly old man, hoarding knowledge and secrets in his ivory tower. The way in which you perceive me will influence how you perceive my message; no matter how carefully I encode it, meaning does not exist until you decode it. And in order to decode my message, you take several things into account even if you are not aware of these things. Decoding is largely a process of perception, but it is also a process of assigning meaning; in other words, your very reality is constructed as you decode the world around you.

Allow me to treat you as tabula rasa, now. I will explain the story of the world to you; even though you think you know this story, and I think I know you think you know this story, I will be telling it anyway.

Imagine this image is like a tarot card I’ve slid across the table to you – a visual aid to help with the myth I am making. It is obvious to some that the world was begun in chaos, and as time passed, the world slowly worked itself into order. This is a very simple idea which is validated by pedestrian observations –mustn’t this be the case, we ask, when we realize the relative order we perceive as we age? Life begins chaotically and proceeds unto order. Minor pockets of chaos, swirls of disorder, are smoothed out by the immutable and eternal flow of time – this is the way of things, optimistic and reassuring despite evidence to the contrary. Perfection is merely a function of eternity. Or so some perceive.

Don’t like that tarot or what it implies, wanderer? Don’t worry. I probably have the world view for you somewhere in my stack. Here, try this one. Can you decode the reality here? I’ll lend you my aid – this is a more cynical outlook, though not necessarily a fatalistic one. A person who thinks like this feels like the good old days are in the past and the future doesn’t hold as much promise, yet this isn’t enough to get too worked up about. Life goes on, after all, and even if the future isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you still have a life you’ve got to live.Mustn’t this be the case, wanderer?

I can sense you are not satisfied, wanderer. Moreover, you are frustrated, aren’t you? I hope you don’t feel I’m being patronizing. It’s easy to lose the fundamentals when you’re drowning in a sea of complications, and I felt as though maybe you were looking for something more basic. I’ve got one last tarot that may suit your needs – take a gander. You know what they say – third time’s a charm! Let’s decode the reality here – seems like life is very competitive and chaotic. Mustn’t this be the case,wanderer? Weakness cannot possibly survive at all, and in fact, death and destruction may bring about great change – although, it is recognized, we are unsure of what is beyond the great beyond. After all, that time has not come yet. But you’re the confident sort, aren’t you wanderer – the kind who likes to advocate that which you do not know?

Hmm. I’m getting the feeling you’re not sold. You must be very clever. Most of my customers have already bought in by this point! I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve seen all kinds. That’s okay, though. I don’t mind a hard sell. In fact I rather look forward to them – they’re such a rare treat! Eons last an awful long time, don’t you know? The tarot hat trick didn’t do the trick for you, but that’s okay traveler. I have more tricks up my sleeve. Just take a look at this here rune:

Now there’s a holistic perspective if ever I’ve heard of one! It’s the circle of life, traveler, can’t you see it? It explains so much more than those silly tarot cards – don’t look at me that way, traveler, I knew you wouldn’t want any of that fake stuff anyway – and doesn’t it just give you a certain sense of…certainty? Things are inevitable, but since you understand your fate and the mechanisms that drive it, you can take comfort. No sense in fighting against the circle of life – it will crush you with its omnipotence and the natural order of things will carry on in only the way nature can. The more things change the more they stay the same – mustn’t this be the case, traveler?

Still haven’t bought in, eh? You’re no mere traveler, are you? I didn’t mean disrespect. I deal with a lot of people and I don’t experience time the way you might think that I do…there I am rambling again. What I’m getting at, is, sometimes I have difficulty reading people and knowing how it is they really see things. I’m just trying to give you want you want, interloper – the reality that will jive most closely with your inner desires and secure you that happiness. Who was the jerk that guaranteed us the pursuit but not the reward, anyway? But boy, you’re a tough sell. Let’s see if the next rune is for you, interloper:

Pretty clever, huh! You probably don’t even need my assistance decoding this one and constructing reality. You’re awfully clever interloper, but just in case there’s somebody else listening in, let me try and spell it out for them a bit. No sense in hoarding the truth, right? Obviously there’s no such thing as a circle of life – that’s silly, it doesn’t take into account culture; you know, time and place. Still, though, things tend to follow patterns, even though exceptions exist, and maybe there’s a universal culture and maybe there isn’t, and maybe some things are immune to the patterns but most things aren’t so why bother considering those paradoxes? This is all very enlightening, as you well know, interloper. It explains so much, but the world’s awfully big and hard to change, isn’t it? Oh well. Pick and choose the culture that fits you – that’s the secret to success! Mustn’t this be the case, interloper?

You’re still here? I should apologize, friend; I’ve been seriously underestimating you! Like I said, I’m just trying to give you what you want, and most people just want it easy. You’re a tough customer, a hard sell, that’s for sure. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. You know, this is a real treat. I don’t often get to dig into my collection of glyphs but it looks like this one might speak to you. Wouldn’t you know it, I got a glyph for everybody, that’s far too many glyphs to be having since so very few actually want ‘em. In any case, take a look, friend, and tell me what you see:

Awfully confusing, isn’t it? That’s okay. Maybe you see what I can see; maybe you perceive what I perceive. After all, friend, perception is reality. Mustn’t that be the case? I could help you understand this better, in theory at least, but there’s another rule. Something about prophets in their own land – I can’t remember the rule exactly, but I know it means I can’t share all the secrets with you. I’m sorry friend. I really am!

But you’re still here? You haven’t bought in yet? You…you want the secrets anyway? Well, brother. They’re not really secrets – not at all. You already knew the biggest secret – the best things in life come for free, brother. Here, let me show you:

Simple, really, when you stop and think about it. By the way, I’ve got a special task for you. Could you find me a reckless youth? I have a wild quest for him. I’m looking for somebody with pointy ears in green garb, golden hair. Swordsmanship skills are necessary and if he takes crazy and mystical sounding advice well from strangers that’d be a huge plus. Do you know the sort of youth I’m looking for? Well, I guess he doesn’t have to be a youth, brother, so long as he is free to act in a time of need – I think I remember something about him being destined to dispel the darkness. Awful alliteration and rather ominous but that’s the way these things go sometimes.

I don’t know if I should ask it, but, mustn’t this be the case, brother?

The Fullness of Time (Part 4) – Transcendence

[Standard Disclaimer: This analysis represents only my personal interpretation of the lyrical content of Redemption’s suite, The Fullness of Time, and is not representative of the opinions of either the band or any affiliated persons involved in the production of Redemption’s music; past, present or future.]

This is absolutely my favorite song of all time. I wanted to share this song with the readers of The Spearhead because I believe it contains a very powerful message that many could benefit from, but in order to fully understand why I believe it is so powerful, it was necessary to walk you through the three songs that feed into this one. Recall that Man has been betrayed and has been slowly coping with his responses – initially he was filled with Rage, which melted into Despair, until he was able to Release himself from the entropic nature of his initial responses. Here, he will Transcend and understand why he was made to suffer.

Without further ado, the first verse:

The smoke has finally cleared
And I can see the wreckage of my past that lies about me

The song opens with a (relatively) slow, reflective piano interlude, followed up with some acoustic guitar work before the vocals slowly work their way in. It is a big change of pace from Release’s heavy and fast guitars. The lyrics are likewise reflective, with Man looking back over everything that has happened to him and trying to understand what to make of it all. The sound of the wind gives you a sense that Man is taking a reflective journey through the “ruins” of his past, so to speak.

It’s all become so clear to me
And I have learned the
Truth behind the lies and the lies behind the truth

Man has realized that absolute truth is a powerful lie that can lead him to make poor decisions. As Voltaire once famously observed, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can convince you to commit atrocities.” Man has woken up to the nature of language ideologies and learned of the “truth behind the lies” as well as the “lies behind the truth,” or, in other words, how feminism had caused him to believe absurdities which caused him to commit atrocities. Understanding that truth is, ultimately, relative (not to dismiss the power of independently verifiable observations, ala scientific studies), he arrives at a conception of truth not unlike Kierkegaard’s – “The idea is to find a truth that is true for me; an idea for which I can live and die.” That idea is most certainly NOT feminism.

Everything in context finally makes sense
I see the paths I walked
Some I paved myself
Some where I went gladly
Some against my will

Context is extremely important in making truth evaluations – it is hard to understand what has happened or what really took place if we do not understand the context of events that have happened in our life. All too often, we go through life without understanding the context of the larger social forces of our culture (or cultures – we may be part of one culture, say a branch of the military, which is subservient to a still larger culture, such as the Department of Defense, which is subservient to the bureaucratic culture of government, which itself is still subservient to American culture…that’s just one example), let alone the forces that other cultures may have on ours as well. Perhaps here Man is saying he finally understands why feminism came about and how it has impacted his life in various ways. He sees the paths he had chosen for himself and how they were influenced by feminism, but he also understands his own culpability in what has happened to him. Some paths he paved himself and some he even went down gladly – I’d imagine that, in keeping with our analysis earlier, marriage was one such path. However, some paths were taken against his will – perhaps if he had understood better the differences between men and women and hadn’t been led to believe social lies like how gender differences are negligible, he might not ever have chosen to be so supplicating and placating in general. This is in line with discourse that understands that men are the ultimate enforcers of feminism or any other social force.

In any event, the next verse (the music kicks into high gear here):

Can leave behind the fear and doubt
And cast aside the shackles and the chains
Of flawed assumptions I learned as a child
I can’t let them distract me
So I’m putting aside the memories
Of the things I never had but thought I always wanted

Here, Man is fully rejecting the prevailing language ideologies that he “learned as a child,” likely in public education. Recall that the main enforcers of language ideologies are public education, the news media, the entertainment industry, corporate culture and the legal system – and none of these systems is immune to bias or misuse. These institutions taught Man flawed assumptions (one such assumption being that genders were equal in quantitative measures rather than qualitative ones – for example, that the genders are more or less “equally intelligent” rather than teaching that all people have equal worth as humans and leaving it at that). He can’t let these flawed assumptions distract him as he continues forward in life, on a more productive foot. Furthermore, he needs to set aside his longing for things he “never had but thought he wanted,” such as the perfect romance and domestic tranquility many Men assume will come with marriage. The last two lines are powerful in that they reference a word – memory – which implies events happened that man can recall, when really, there is a double meaning at work. Kierkegaard once remarked that “the most painful state of being is remembering the future – particularly one you can never have.” Man is remembering only illusions and the passed-down stories of a bygone era, and desiring things he never truly experienced himself – this is especially true of men my age (I am 21) who grew up in a completely feminized society, where romances of yore really are just myths and legends.

Next verse:

My notions of what makes relationships have a new light
I have gained an understanding
No more false facades
Covering my feelings
Preventing a connection

This is an important verse as well. Feminism changed the score for both men and women, and did away with traditional male values. Therefore, traditional male strategies may not necessarily apply anymore. One of the old rules of being a man was to keep constant vigil over our emotions and to never speak of them with other men, who we viewed as competitors for female affection. This thinking may not necessarily apply in contemporary times, where we as men need to work together in order to overcome the challenges that lay ahead for us. Man has realized here that the true purpose of communication is connection and understanding (this does not necessitate agreement!), and because Man now knows firmly where he stands and what he believes, he is not afraid to be “wrong.” In fact, he can’t be wrong – others may disagree with him but this will not shake his conviction or effect his contentment. The best relationships (regardless of gender) are always built on a bedrock of mutual trust, honesty and respect – and none of these things necessitates agreement though almost all of them necessitate understanding.

Because Man has realized that no one controls his emotions except for him, there is no reason to maintain a “false facade” and convince others that he is something he is not; there are few reasons to mask and deny his emotions. This is not encouragement to allow our emotions to control us, obviously, but really an embrace of true Stoicism. Too many men misunderstand Stoicism and think it is a philosophy of denial – just ignore emotions and they won’t bother you. This is not the case at all – true mastery of Stoicism is a true mastery of our responses to emotional stimulus. There is no reason to pretend that we are not sad when we are in fact sad; that being said, we need not make grandiose emotional displays of our sadness, either.

My favorite verse in the entire song is next:

I’ve been spending my whole life pursuing those who built this cell
Lamenting all the hateful things that happened to me
Never thought to look at how I might have played a part in what I am
Or what it means to lose the game before it starts

How many of us here can relate to this verse? I know I certainly can. I spent a large portion of my life looking to blame others for my misfortunes, trying to understand who built the cell I felt trapped in, complaining about all the injustices I was forced to endure. Like Man in the song, I never thought to look at how I might’ve been to blame for some of the things that happened to me, or even look at how the “game” was rigged to have me lose before I’d even begun playing. What I mean here is that feminism was in full swing well before I was born, and there was little I could ever hope to achieve or succeed at in light of that situation. Rather than look at the big-picture, however, and understand that the odds were stacked against me because our entire social system had been corrupted, I focused on my own life and trying to find individuals to blame (like my mother). I never thought that my complicity and happy agreement to buy into the party line – go to school, get good grades, go to college, get good grades, work hard, get a good job – was another factor contributing to building that “cell” around my life. As we at The Spearhead now know, much of feminism is funded on the taxes of single working men, and those who do their best to “succeed” (ie, make a lot of money) are contributing to the system, not necessarily making a better life for themselves.

This verse doesn’t just apply to big-picture items, however. I’m sure the readers can relate it to private events and transpirings in their lives. I know I can.

Next verse:

Now I know that I cannot turn back and change the past
And that the only choice to save myself
Is changing what I carry from it
Everything I did to myself
Everything that’s been done to me
I’ll turn my back on that and walk away

This is another poignant verse. All too often in the men’s community, I see men who are too happy to relegate themselves to a constant cycle of complaints and lament about the system. Man in the song, however, realizes that the past is the past and nothing can be done to change it. What can be done is change the things that we carry from it (rather than focus on all of the negatives of the past, we can choose to learn from the mistakes that have been made – by ourselves, by our friends, by our society – and carry these lessons into the future). The last three lines are Man’s resolve to forget about all the negative things that have happened to him – it’s more or less water under the bridge. He’s going to turn his back on those things and walk away. He’s going to “go his own way” and find a more productive and satisfying life – whether that be through a mastery of Game, through a successful expatriation to a foreign country, by marrying and settling down with a foreign wife, starting a brotherhood of his own, devoting himself to the deconstruction of feminism, or some other as yet undiscussed productive solution, Man has learned it is not productive to be locked into a constant cycle of Rage and Despair. Having Released himself from those negative and entropic mindsets, he can achieve Transcendence and actually get on with doing something fulfilling in life.

Next is a fairly straightforward verse:

And left with only me
At last I see the answer
And what I need to be
Letting go
I destroy my shell
Embrace my heart
And free myself

Again, Man has realized that ultimately, he has only himself to worry about – he can choose to worry about others if he wishes, but he is the master of his own destiny and he is the only one who can ensure his own happiness. He sees his answer (his strategy for carrying forward in life, see the above paragraph) and he lets go of the shell that was created for him in a feminist society (the old script of going to school, landing a good job, paying taxes, etc). He embraces his heart (that is to say, his true self) and, most importantly, frees himself of the system designed to trap him (one could even argue, enslave him). He is, perhaps for the first time, truly free in his thinking, speaking and doing. He can choose whatever it is that makes him happy – he can go his own way. He has discovered the truth that is true for him – the idea for which he can live and die. (Props to Kierkegaard for figuring this out way before I did.)

The next verse has several different lines being sung simultaneously, so they’ve been split up and we’ll take a look at each in turn:

The point of the search, may not be the answer
The value of a want, is not always a need
Still I stand, I’m not going to crawl
Now I know, I’ve got to believe

Once I was a person without malice
Once my heart bled red instead of black
Openness and introspection now show me the way
To reclaim all I’ve lost and take it back

You may have taken everything I ever had
But you cannot take my future

Just release yourself (x4)

In (A), Man repeats a platitude we’ve heard before but which has taken on a new significance in light of his recent epiphanies – sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination, if not more so. The lessons you learn in your travels can be more important than the perceived value of getting to your goal. The third line references the previous song’s conviction to stand and not crawl (to stand tall, as a man should, and believe in himself and his own convictions) and the final line reinforces the idea that it is all-important to discover that truth which is true for you, the idea for which you can live and die.

In (B), the first two lines reference Rage. The last two lines represent a strategy for overcoming Rage – Men must be open and honest about what it is that has troubled them, and they must abandon the old paradigms which view other men as competitors and enemies. The game has changed and feminism requires that men work together, at least for a time, in order to overcome it. It may be possible to reclaim what we have lost (our society) but it will not be easy and it will certainly require a lot of soul searching and commonality among men who may otherwise never have been allies.

In (C), a simple but powerful statement is asserted. Someone may be able to rob you of all your worldly possessions, but so long as they do not rob you of your life, you still have a future to forge. You can take this attitude to extremes – noted Stoic philosopher and slave, Epictetus, was a master of not letting things get to him and taking true control of his own life. He very clearly realized what was within his total control to do and what was not, and managed to retain contentment and dignity in situations ordinary men would despair and give up hope.

(D) is very simple – it is absolutely necessary as Men to release ourselves of the baggage of Rage and Despair first before we can proceed forward with anything productive. As tempting and alluring as it is to be caught in the vicious cycle of Rage and Despair – especially in light of some of the most horrible crimes that feminism has wrought on some men – we can never move forward if we do not Release ourselves from those forces. Transcendence is impossible otherwise.

Last verse:

All I was and
All I’ll ever be
Finally are integrated
And I am whole again
Now I know the reason for this suffering
I’m a better person for having known the pain

A better person having overcome the pain

The song/suite ends with an important revelation. Transcendence allows us to put our own lives into context – all we were and all we’ll ever be can become integrated, we can make ourselves whole. We don’t need to lament the “hateful things that happened to us,” we can instead choose to merely accept and understand them. I cannot tell you, the reader, what your personal reason to suffer was, but I have a good grip on why it was that I suffered, on my own personal reasons. Once again, openness and introspection are the keys – you can’t figure out this reason merely through one or the other (introspection without openness and discussion often leads to stagnation, openness without introspection rarely leads to self-revelation). We can be better people for having known our pain, and, more importantly, stronger people for having overcome our pain (Rage and Despair).

That’s all he wrote, folks. I hope my analysis made sense and I hope you learned something useful along the way, or saw things in a new light. I highly recommend checking the songs out for yourself if you get a chance, and moreover, I encourage you to do some introspection now on what you’ve read. Once you’ve done that, be open about it here on The Spearhead, and engage your fellow brothers (and some enlightened sisters who have likewise rejected feminism) in honest and frank discussion, lest you stagnate in your introspective endeavors. Being a man, a lot of my writing here was focused on the male perspective, but I want to make a caveat here. We should not be so quick to dismiss all women in our discussions and analyses – ultimately, if our species is to continue forward, some sort of gender reconciliation – whether it be one fueled by Rage or one fueled by Transcendence – is inevitable. Ladies, if you found anything to relate to in these songs, please do share. That being said, remain mindful and respectful of male perspectives. Civil discussion, folks.

I wish you the best of luck.

The Fullness of Time (Part 3) – Release

[Standard Disclaimer: This analysis represents only my personal interpretation of the lyrical content of Redemption’s suite, The Fullness of Time, and is not representative of the opinions of either the band or any affiliated persons involved in the production of Redemption’s music; past, present or future.]

This is the third in a series of four posts analyzing the lyrical content of Redemption’s musical suite, the Fullness of Time. So far, Man has dealt with Rage and Despair, and in this track, he will be contemplating Release (and unburdening himself of these two negative and entropic emotions/dispositions). As a side note, this track is really fun to listen to if you like metal / progressive music.

First verse:

Lying here surrounded
By the pieces of my life
Would it all be easier
If I lay be down to die

A piano interlude introduces the song and these lines are sung slowly. Man is picking himself up from his Despair, taking a survey of what’s happened. He’s surrounded by the fragments of his life, after everything’s seemingly fallen apart on him due to the betrayal of women; he wonders if it would be easier just to give up and die. (While suicide can be honorable in certain contexts, it is rarely honorable as a response to extreme depression. Following through on these thoughts and feelings would be a bad idea.)

The drums kick in and the verse continues:

Dreams piled high
On the back of this broken man
Is this all? Born to fall?
Or to rise again?

A poignant statement. Men tend to bear the burdens of all of society’s hopes and dreams. It is, generally, men who build society’s infrastructure, staff society’s enforcing positions (government, military, and so on) and men who take the fall when society begins to crumble (despite the fact that feminism is often a common element of that patterned collapse). In reference to that patterned collapse, the lyrics pose an interesting question – are all civilizations born to fall, or is it possible to see them rise again? While every civilization believes itself to be invincible during its collapse, isn’t it possible that our society could still be salvaged? It would be a long, hard road, to be sure, but to write it off as impossible…I think it’s a bit too early for that. But that’s another issue for another post.

Guitars kick in and we get another verse:

So much pain and disillusionment
Everything I once felt sure about
We’re all lost if we don’t know
It’s a game that we are all playing
The motions of all our counterparts
A piece of sinsiter scheme

More allusions to Despair but this time, rather than focusing on the pain, Man has begun to try to put the pieces together and analyze what has happened. He once felt sure about the way society was organized – sure that if he worked hard and was a good provider, he would have a good life like patriarchy guaranteed him. Now, he realizes that “we’re all lost” (we being men) if we don’t realize that there’s a game being played. You can take this to mean what you want – that Men literally need to learn Game to adapt and overcome. I take it more generally, in that feminists (in particular) have executed some grand strategies at very important power centers, enforcing a language ideology we’ve come to term feminism, which has influenced/distorted the very way people in Western nations think and perceive the world.

“The motions of all our counterparts,” that is to say, women, are a “piece of some sinister scheme.” This represents the way all women are culpable, to a degree, of allowing feminism to propagate. Their silence was a form of compliance; by not providing opposition to the movement they were complicit in its aims. (So too, mind you, were the men who were silent, and let’s not forget men who actively supported and enforced the movement.) This reminds me of people who try to dodge responsibility for their government’s ineptitude; anyone who pays taxes to the government is, to a degree, culpable for that government’s actions. Whether or not you vote matters little to the government – they’ll be spending your money either way. (By the way, your taxes are currently funding this post, which has been composed on my lunch break on a military base library’s computer.)

The puppet that’s broken has reason to smile
They can no longer force him to dance on their strings
Why shrug off the chains? If you wrap them about
You’ll be sunk to the bottom and drowning
The clockwork behind their smiles
Wound by hands that were made to harm

Here, Man has woken up to the fact that he has been little more than a dancing puppet for women as a group. However, the puppet who has been broken and betrayed – he who has lost all hope in the system ever satisfying him – actually has “reason to smile.” He is no longer compelled to dance when the puppet masters pull the strings. This is a powerful revelation – the revelation that we, as men, do not have to buy into womens’ construction of society nor do we have to play by their rules. They don’t hold the power – we do. The more men who wake up to this and live it, the better off we will all be as a result. After all, it has been well demonstrated here and elsewhere that patriarchy benefits both men and women, while feminism harms both men and women. Our Rage might compel us to seek vengeance against the opposite sex, but if we Release ourselves from that Rage, we come to understand that ultimately we must reconcile with women if there is ever to be any hope of a future for mankind. Granted, some may not be motivated to see humans prosper, but I’m not going to argue the merits of continuing the species here.

Still, Man is struggling, and he thinks about allowing the chains to wrap about him and drown him. Despair is still present as Release hasn’t been fully completed. He makes an observation that the “clockwork smiles” women and the rest of feminized society offer – the platitudes and meaningless trinkets and half-hearted concessions – add up to less than nothing. Furthermore, as a puppet, he was wound by “hands that were made to harm;” the system of misandry that society now fosters was designed only to harm men (with a side effect of harming women as well).

The first part of the chorus:

Just release yourself
Cause they can’t rape the willing
Or take what you have if there’s nothing else
Tired of life and filled with despair
And covered with blood from the crosses I bear
But I’m still standing
Should I make myself crawl?

It’s a difficult process but Man realizes he must free himself of the entropic synergy of Rage and Despair if he is to move on and make things right again. “They can’t rape the willing” means Man can’t be violated by a system he doesn’t buy into or believe in – he can’t be shamed by terms like “misogynist” if he doesn’t care about being slandered, for example. He’s not afraid to speak the truth and he knows in his own heart whether or not he hates women. Society can’t take anything else from him if he has nothing to lose – and he can reduce the amount of things to lose by reducing the amount of investment he makes in a feminized society. Even though Despair and Rage still weigh on his mind, and even though he is bloodied from the burdens he has borne, he is still standing.

It is not unreasonable to imagine that one of the crosses Man bears is the cross of feminism – a crushing weight and a cumbersome load that digs into him and wounds him on his journey.

The next verse:

Seems so counter to our nature
Accepting with grace the things we can’t change
But when all’s said and done and you’re wronged and deceived
Then it matters the most what you choose to believe
Should I fight against fate
Or should I just lay down and die?

Here, Man laments the passive nature he has been shackled with. It is against his nature to “accept with grace” the evils of feminism – the “things we can’t change.” What matters, however, is that after he has been “wronged and deceived” (as he was in Rage), then personal conviction becomes the most important thing to seriously consider. Where should Man’s beliefs lie? Should they continue to support conventional wisdom and the language ideology that fueled women’s betrayal of him? Or should he take a step back and examine things as if for the first time, without the crippling framework of lies and deceit that society has spun to poison his thinking? Should he fight against fate (another metaphor, here, for feminism) or should he just give up and die (either literally, or allow his spirit to remain crushed)?

I prefer to fight, but I suppose that choice is up to you, dear readers.

Guitar solo, followed by next verse:

The puppet that’s broken has reason to smile
But the strings can’t control you if you walk away
No more tears of disillusionment
I’l be a puppet no longer
The hands that I thought had held me
The clockwork behind their smiles
They’ll not have control over me
I’ll stand up and leave them behind

Here, we see Man has a lot more resolve than previously; he realizes the strings from the puppet master can’t control him if he walks away from the system of control (MGTOW). This can be achieved in a variety of ways – Game, expatriation, CoAlpha brotherhoods, marrying a foreign wife…

The regular chorus repeats once more before bleeding into a revised chorus, the finale of this track:

Just release yourself
From the scars you inflict on yourself
When you’re wounded by no one else
Rise above pain, move past my despair
And put down the cross that I’ve made myself bear
Now I’m still standing
And I’m not gonna crawl

This is an important verse. Here Man realizes his own culpability in the perceived evils that have been wrought upon him. He needs to release himself from self-inflicted scars (self-obsessed wallowing is one example, being unable to move on from the betrayal he’s suffered – scars inflicted when he is “wounded by no one else”). He realizes he needs to unburden himself completely of the cross he has made himself bear (feminism) in order to move on, and he has found new resolve (“I’m still standing, and I’m not gonna crawl”).

The next song is the most powerful in the quartet, and the reason I even started writing up any of the other ones. However, some of its power is reduced without understanding the full context of its lyrical content, and so these other analyses were necessary. See you next time.

The Fullness of Time (Part 2) – Despair

[Standard Disclaimer: This analysis represents only my personal interpretation of the lyrical content of Redemption’s suite, The Fullness of Time, and is not representative of the opinions of either the band or any affiliated persons involved in the production of Redemption’s music; past, present or future.]

This is the second of four posts on Redemption’s musical suite, The Fullness of Time. It is a lyrical dissection of the second track, Despair, which is the most straightforward of the four tracks. There is a smooth musical transition between all tracks in this suite, which represents part of the overarching concept – that this is a journey through Man’s emotional response to women’s betrayal of him.

I know, talking about emotions breaks man law, but stay with me.

The first verse:

Left now
Alone with your betrayal
There’s no way to feel secure
Crushed in soul and spirit
With no way to set things right again

This represents, to me, an honest and private response to what has happened to Man. In public, he may show his Rage, and perhaps even initially he will feel that Rage in private. Eventually, however, it seems inevitable that Despair will set in as the true nature of the betrayal settles upon his mind. After all, he is “left alone” with “no way to feel secure; crushed in soul and spirit with no way to set things right again.” I have never been taken over the coals in the divorce court but I know some of our readers have (and my sympathies go out to you) – I imagine these lyrics might resonate with your situation? I’ve felt hopeless and despaired after suffering betrayals at the hands of women, and I wasn’t even invested significantly (like a marriage) or standing to lose anything substantial (as in a divorce) when I was betrayed!

Rage comes first, but it melts away into Despair.

The chorus:

You have stolen everything I ever had
And I’m left with nothing more than pain
And I know I’ll never trust the way that I once did
You have taken all my dreams
And turned them to ashes in my mouth

This seems to speak almost directly to those men who’ve gone through a bitter divorce or custody battle. Doesn’t it feel as though that woman you’ve trusted – the one who seemed friendly but put that kinfe in your back – has made off with everything of value you ever had (sometimes to include, most bitterly, your own children) and all you have left is pain? It also seems common for men to resolve to never “trust the way that [they] once did,” after women kill their dreams of domestic tranquility.

Final verse:

Searching for some comfort
Left to choke on my despair
My faith and friendship shattered
And my life beyond repair

I think we men have all been seeking commiseration and unity from like-minded men. That’s why sites like The Spearhead have been cropping up. Without sites like these, we may have all been stuck in a perpetual cycle of Rage and Despair. The betrayals we’ve gone through, individually (I’m almost certain every male reader here has gone through some sort of betrayal – some only minor, some only major, and the rest somewhere in between) may have even shattered our faith and friendship. After all, the effects of feminism seemed to have led to a decline of religion (faith) and fraternity/men’s only groups (friendship). Furthermore, it seems to have had the poisonous effect of causing men to distrust one another, viewing each other as competitors (for women) during the best of times and villains (towards women) at the worst of times.

Privately, I think we have all felt that our lives were beyond repair. When we come together collectively and apply our reason, we can see that we have all suffered similar blows, that there are systemic problems and our failures are not isolated or individual in nature. This may not help ease the pain, but it does remind us that there may be any number of solutions to our grief.

Like I said, this is the most straight forward track. Stay tuned for the final two!

The Fullness of Time (Part 1) – Rage

[Standard Disclaimer: This analysis represents only my personal interpretation of the lyrical content of Redemption’s suite, The Fullness of Time, and is not representative of the opinions of either the band or any affiliated persons involved in the production of Redemption’s music; past, present or future.]

Unlike my previous two posts, the next few songs I plan on deconstructing are actually from a band I enjoy listening to. In fact, if I had to pick a favorite band, it would probably be Redemption. They’re often described as a “prog metal” or “power metal” band, but I’m no expert at music genre types. I would certainly agree that their music is powerful, and often times, the lyrics seem to resonate very much with my own life.

In particular, their second album, The Fullness of Time, has been particularly instructive to me throughout the years. It has a total of eight songs, and while the first four are strong in their own right, they don’t have the staying power of the last four. The last four are part of a suite, and, depending on who you ask, may even be considered one whole song in and of themselves (the song name being “The Fullness of Time”). However, the songs are broken up on the CD as separate tracks, so I don’t buy that gimmick. Furthermore, each track has a separate name and theme, which help untangle some of the messages (or so I’ve come to believe) the songs are trying to convey.

These four songs are sort of like a mini-concept album, for those who are familiar with that terminology. Note also that since Redemption isn’t nearly as “mainstream” as the last two bands/performers analyzed, YouTube links may not be available for some of the songs. (Rage is not the strongest, musically speaking, of the four tracks being analyzed, but it has an important lyrical part to play in the total “story” if you will.)

Near as I can tell, the concept for this suite is that a person (hereafter, Man) suffered some sort of devastating betrayal, and the songs explore the various stages of Man’s journey towards recovery – starting with Rage, moving into Despair, finding Release, and finally achieving Transcendence. (In case you couldn’t tell, those are the four song titles as well.) I think there’s a lesson out there for some of the MRA crowd as well, so I encourage you to stick to it and read through these posts. If you get to the end and feel I’ve wasted your time, by all means, call me a raving lunatic/idiot and demand for a refund.

The first song, Rage, opens with the following spliced in movie quote:

I believe in death. I believe in disease. I believe in injustice and inhumanity, torture and anger and hate…I believe in pain. I believe in cruelty and… in… every crawling, putrid thing… every possible ugliness and corruption, you son of a bitch!

This, in case you couldn’t tell, more or less establishes the fact that we are dealing with an unhappy person.

Moving along, then, to the first verse:

Struck down by the persons that I trusted
Robbed of dignity and left for dead
I can feel unmeasurable anger building in me
Emptiness and rage begin to burn inside my head

Here we can debate whether or not Man was literally “struck down” and “left for dead,” or if these are merely impassioned metaphors. I suggest the more likely case that they are metaphors, and in my interpretation, they are metaphors of the betrayal Man has, generally, been dealt at the hands of women. Who among us can’t relate to that feeling of betrayal? Aside from the extremely rare statistical anomaly who was born with amazing gifts of Game, I think most of the male readers of this site have all suffered some sort of betrayal (perhaps multiple ones) at the hands of women, and I think we can all relate to feeling “unmeasurable anger” and even “emptiness and rage.” I have certainly felt this way, and it seems to be the case that others have too. (Props to Jabherwochie for the best analysis of daily psycho-sexual torture women conduct upon men I’ve yet read.)

Furthermore, most of us recognize that we have all been robbed of dignity – particularly our traditional male dignity – and this has left us worse off as a group. Traditional male values, as we all know, have been demonized in society at large, and positive/heroic/”flawless” male role models have all but disappered from mass media. Men aren’t remembered for their great achievements, anymore, but only for their great failings – and half the failings we’re remembered for seemed to have been purely invented by feminist machinations. It’s enough to get a man’s blood boiling.

Once I was a person without malice
Once my heart bled red instead of black
Friends with one hand held behind their backs carried knives
Didn’t see the blades ’till they were buried in my back

More musings and metaphors on the nature of the betrayal Man has felt. Specifically, this seems to relate to “nice guys.” I know it’s trendy to beat up on betas and nice guys in the current blogosphere climate, but I’m here to suggest that maybe we, as men, should try to establish some commonality with other men regardless of their perceived status on some vague hierachy that’s still being defined and debated. We all recognize that women have presented a united front, and why would we want anything less than a united front of our own to meet the challenge feminism has presented to our favored Western ideals? (If you are so inclined to try and preserve them, that is – but I don’t find most men talking about expatriating or forming new countries, so…)

I think at one point or another, most of us browsing these sites have identified with the “nice guy” label and bought into the party line that told us so long as we were well behaved and good providers we would receive many social rewards. I know that I bought into this idea and I’m a relative pup compared to some of the folks in the community. Those of us who have felt this way can probably relate to the lines of this verse – “once my heart bled red instead of black” and “friends [women] with one hand held behind their backs carried knives.” How many times have we described women as “stabbing us in the back?”

After this verse, we get the first does of the chorus:

Sleep with one eye open
Knowing that I’m watching you
Listen for my footsteps on every darkened street
Like a call for help unanswered
You can scream but no one hears your voice
No one there to save you
As I take my just revenge

I think this represents the sort of path unchecked male anger can take, especially towards women. There is a lot of anger out there – some of it evenrationally justified – and this is not something that should be trifled with. I understand this anger even if I do not endorse it. There is historical precedent for male anger exploding with consequences for a society – just see this quote by Nancy Levant “Why don’t you ask the women of Afghanistan what happened to their liberation, which existed prior to the national radicalization of angry men with weapons?” A common observation in the movement seems to be that if you kick a friendly dog enough times, you wind up with a mean dog.

As Man observes here in the song, women are not safe unless there are men present to protect them. Without Man, there is “no one there to save [women].” Furthermore, under certain understandings, an argument could be posited that physical violence as revenge could be just. (Again, I don’t endorse this, but I can certainly understand why people would.) If you feel this way, perhaps this musical suite will speak to you and resonate with you. I encourage you to read on and discover/consider alternatives.

Next verse:

I can hear your laughter
I can see you think you’ve won
But I don’t know how you live
With no remorse for what you have done

Pretty straightforward here – the laughter and having women think they’ve won stand in as metaphors for shaming language and common feminist debate tactics. Not knowing how women live without remorse seems to be a lament for misunderstanding either hypergamy or misunderstanding natural female amorality. Women play by a different set of rules, and Man has had to learn that the hard way, especially in the absence of systems (patriarchy) designed to curtail natural human failings.

Then the refrain:

You claimed you were my friend
All the while you planned to murder me
You claimed that I imagined all the things you’d done to me
You’ll pay for being so destructive
You’ll beg for compassion
But I’ve nothing left to give

This is a powerful verse. Once again, Man is lamenting the false friendship that women have offered him – especially in a more feminist society. “You claimed you were my friend, all the while you planned to murder me” could just be a metaphor for how women generally deceive and mislead to get what they want – think of cuckolding, adultery, all of those things. This is one of my favorite examples of attempted cuckolding. Remove the system that instills and enforces morality (patriarchy) and all of the sudden, all bets are off!

The third line is an important one – how many times has the male perspective been denied, especially by the supposedly more empathetic gender? How many times has Man tried to air his grievances only to be told it was all in his head, or worse, all his own fault? It is only natural he wants women to pay for what has been done, pay for being so destructive – after all, the sting of betrayal is still fresh, the pain still raw and tangible. “You’ll beg for compassion, but I’ve nothing left to give.” I see a lot of that sort of attitude here and elsewhere, and it is not illogical. But it doesn’t need to be the only way.

See what anger will eventually melt into, given enough time, with my next post!

Inspiring Men: My Grandfather

(Below is a mostly unedited letter I sent to someone a few months ago. The only changes I have made were grammatical and removing my grandfather’s name for operational security purposes. Even though, at time of writing, I hadn’t had some of the epiphanies I have had recently, I still think my story may be of some use to some of the readers of the Spearhead.)

Nothing – absolutely nothing – in life is permanent. If you spend your entire life dreading the loss of something, you might not ever get to fully enjoy that thing. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, and I think it might help you to hear a story from me, maybe so you can learn the same lesson I did.

Part of the reason I enlisted in the Marine Corps was because my grandfather retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Marines. Growing up, he had always been something of a hero to me – even if I didn’t really understand much about the Marine Corps, or felt like I knew him much. In fact, he once made it very clear to me that I was the son of the black sheep of his family – he still loved me, I felt, but my exposure to him was limited. I take my middle name after him.

After I enlisted – and saw what the Marine Corps was really like – my love and admiration for him sky rocketed. It’s something people could never understand unless they go through it. I can’t even try to put words to it, I know it’s futile – others have tried and failed. I heard that my graduation photos from boot camp had circulated back to him, and that for the first time in a long time, his family saw him cry, he was so proud.

Training in the Marine Corps is lengthy and intense. I wanted very much to, when I was first able, take leave and meet with him, to talk about the Marine Corps and give him a chance to talk to someone who could understand. As I continued to work on my own memoirs, I realized that my grandfather had stories – amazing stories – that he had probably never told anyone. He had fought – and survived – on Iwo Jima! He never talked about it much with anyone, and after being in the Marine Corps, I can understand why… people on the outside just don’t get it.

As my training was nearing completion, I received bad news. My grandfather was coming down with Alzheimer’s. By the time I graduated, members of my extended family, who were with him, made it clear that his memory was pretty much gone – he couldn’t remember his own children anymore. I had missed my chance – forever – to really talk to him and understand his life.

I grieved, candidly, in my own fashion. I grieve now, as I recall. Grieving is natural. You just can’t get stuck on it. What I realized, as I became stuck on it, was that I couldn’t control the situation – I had no ability to influence his disease or his memory. Furthermore, I was sure that I would do his spirit no honor by remaining paralyzed in grief. Instead of grieving, I took the time to drudge up a deep introspective dialogue – sifting through my own memories for my memories of my grandfather.

And as I did this tough work, rather than remember with grief and regret and longing, I focused instead on cherishing each memory, remembering it to the fullest and enjoying it as though I were there again. Some memories I enjoyed for the “first” time, having, as a child, not enjoyed that particular experience, but as a man with new understanding, cherishing it in a new way.

Part of my healing process involved investigating my family history. I tried to learn as much about him as I could – being that I hadn’t known him very well, and what I did know came from youth. He was a beautiful man. (I’m crying a bit right now, but it’s not painful. I am proud to be his grandson.) The trials and tribulations he went through – being one of MANY children from a very poor family, suffering through abuse, disowning his own family much like I have had to do, paying his own way through college, entering the Marine Corps as an officer in lieu of what he could have done with his education, and serving in World War 2 and the Korean War (he proposed to his wife and got married shortly before reporting in for The Basic School, right after receiving his commission – he would not see his wife again for two years…they stayed married until she died of old age), retiring in order to become a public servant in another way – by being a teacher and then principal at his local high school.

Did he do everything right? No, perhaps not. My father claims the way he was raised by my grandfather was not fair or healthy – but my grandfather’s other children seemed to have turned out better than my father, so who is to say who is right? But the struggles he went through, the pain and adversity he must have felt, resonated with my own life, and I felt very close to him. There was nothing that I could do for him in his final days, but that was okay, because I could live the rest of my life in his honor. I used to want to change my name in order to disown my family, which I had come to hate. But learning about my grandfather this way, after he was already effectively taken from me, restored my faith and pride in my family name.

Now, when times are dark and when I wish I wasn’t in the Marine Corps or doing other things, I turn my thoughts back towards Bill, and it gives me strength and resolve.

This turned out longer than I intended. A lot of my coping with Bill’s situation was done on a more subconscious, nonverbal level, also. This is the first time I’ve told ANYONE – even my few close friends – about this. The lesson I learned was to not be consumed by grief over loss; to instead channel that grief into something more positive. Everything must eventually come to an end, so it does not make sense to dread that time and to waste your energy being full of regret and sadness. Let the passing of something you’ve cherished be a cause for remembrance and cherishing. Let it be a new beginning – something to live the rest of your life for, rather than spend the rest of your life mourning.

These philosophies dovetail also with the revelation of thought I had while in the more intense training phases of my Marine Corps career, where I literally trained for every waking moment to kill and be killed. Life is so fragile and transient. We are all so very fragile and vulnerable. It makes no sense, none whatsoever, to dedicate your life to seeking achievement or seeking material gain over emotional depth and well-being. There will always be more work to be done tomorrow, and there will always be another achievement to seek or another record to break. Eventually, we will all pass our peak, and in all likelihood, have things left we still want to achieve or accomplish that we cannot. However, we may not always have a second chance to tell someone that we care about that we love them, or another chance to get to know that someone interesting just a bit better. Take risks in the name of enriching your relational life – strip everything else away and the measure of your life, I think, is the impact you had on other people and on the bonds you forged with them – on the families and communities you forged or were a part of.