Invisibilia: The Personality Myth

This might not come as a surprise, but a friend of mine turned me on to the npr podcast. So I started listening to Invisibilia. ‘The Personality Myth’ is super interesting. If you haven’t listened to it you should. But I’m going to talk about it for a bit here anyway.

The session covers the idea that who we are, or who we think we are, and how we try to define ourselves, through words describing vague aspects that make up what is consider to be personality, is not stable but something that can and does change throughout a life time. The core of who we think we are, is nothing. A changeable piece of paper, or white board, not a constant, but forever able to be wiped and rewritten.

In a certain sense, this gives hope. The idea that for someone to change is not only possible it is the only certainty about them. That someone changing is the only thing you can count on about them. Not the words newly weds use to describe one another, “He’s kind.” “She’s generous.” All of those things are unstable and circumstantial.

But back to the hope thing. It’s a beautiful thing to think that someone who does something that is considered awful, enter MFM, could and does change over time. That it’s not once an awful person always an awful person. Of course for it to go in that direction it also goes in the reverse, which is where people hold to the proverb that ‘good people can do terrible things’ when what happens is scarier than that: good people can become bad people.

It gives hope in giving credence to the idea that changing where you live, who you interact with, and what you do; aka your circumstance, does actually change who you are. But the hope sucks right out when considering just how hard it is for someone to make legitimate change in their circumstances.

For example: family. Yeah yeah. Everyone talks about how you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. That’s fine and good, but again it says, you can’t change your family. So the very circumstances of where you are born and who you are born around sticks with you. This is why you can’t just move away from your family and become a different person. Even cutting ties with your family creates a family centric circumstances/decision. The decision to have nothing to do with your family is still a decision on your part about your family and your circumstances and you’re making that decision while still not cut off. So the very decision to cut off your family is a decision motivated by the circumstance of your family.

The inability to change circumstances is seen in why most people hold the solid belief that people don’t, and in most cases believe can’t, change.

Our modern culture itself promotes this theory/belief that people can’t and don’t change. For example, I’m watching Dexter right now and he says over and over again that ‘I am who I am. I can’t change who I am.’ Which in his case happens to be a serial killer! He also holds onto the belief that not only can he not stop killing, as it is essential to the very core of who he is, but he doesn’t believe that other killers can stop killing either, which is what drives and holds all of Harry’s Code together. Dexter justifies his killing because he can’t change and the killers he is killing can’t change either and like him, will kill again, so he’s beating them to the punch.

But what if Dexter and his killer kills were able to completely remove themselves from their circumstances and change to the point of no longer needing to kill? Would they be able to change? This is where there is the hope and the belief in rehabilitation. But re-hab, if sticking to the definition that a change of circumstances is the only thing needed to change, stipulates that successfully changing a person means completely putting them in a new environment and circumstance. Successful change of someone/rehabilitating them means putting them in an all new habitat. Re-habitating them. Taking the tiger out of the jungle to remove the jungle from the tiger.

An example of the extreme popularity of the stable personality: Myers Brigg MLP.

 

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Sympathy for the Dexter: Brotherhood

Some tv shows are really deep and disturbing and have seasons that leave you needing a break from the show to process and anticipate what will be coming next. At least that’s the way I felt after finishing Dexter season one. Such being the case, I thought I might take a break and watch something else. But I couldn’t and then I had to.*

It’s really disturbing when Dexter kills his brother hours after finding out he’s his brother, and that he is like him – a serial killer – and in that sense understands him. Brian knows the urges Dexter feels and acts on to kill, he only really differs from Dexter in that he doesn’t have the code of Harry. Even though Harry lied to Dexter and Deb about Dexter’s childhood, to the extent of even hiding his blood [pun] brother from him, Dexter still ultimately chooses his un-real/adopted family over his blood brother. He chooses the life of a faker versus the real life and connection he could have, and could have had if Harry had told him, with his brother Brian.

It is deeply disturbing to think that certain incidents can cause the same gene, or trigger sub-consciously, the need to kill in two boys, and that even with a change of environment and being raised under different standards they ultimately turn out the same in that they are both killers hiding in the plain site of society.

Then season two starts. What is bothering about the end of season one is Dexter’s seeming cold reaction to killing his brother. Yes, he has a panic moment in the corner, but he goes through with it and holds together his outside life. He even starts bowling and manages to restrain his urges. Then it becomes clear that he’s been effected on a deep psychological level, he can’t kill anymore. It’s shocking, he goes through the process that makes up the very core of who he is, who he was raised to be; a calculated killer taking out the trash; following the code of Harry. But he can’t. Something in him has changed.

He can kill hundreds, but the moment he finds the chink in Harry’s armor, the moment he realizes his life is a complete lie, that he has a whole brother and was the victim of a killer himself, that he can’t just go on living the way he was living before. In this moment, in Dexter not being able to kill after making the ultimate kill, Dexter shows that he is in fact affected by the world around him. By those he should care about naturally, his brother, his sister, and his father.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m halfway through S2:E2 and have some more watching to do. After all, sleep and peace of mind are highly overrated.

 


*(of course it should be noted that being a child of the Netflix and On Demand tv I’ve never really experienced the wait between episodes and only on a few the wait between seasons… OITNB, HoC, Scandal).

From Netflix to Hulu, 3 Observations

Being broke isn’t all bad. It makes you contemplate the really important things in life. Like whether to subscribe to Netflix or Hulu.

Netflix generally takes the cake as the classic standby. After all, from word on the street, most people don’t even pay for their own account but mooch off, or at least split the cost with others. However, if you’re a serial killer like Dexter, or just anti-social af and don’t have family ties to speak of, booting the bill comes down to you. And usually, considering each person only has one set of eyes and can only watch one thing at a time, it makes sense to choose between either Netflix or Hulu and save the extra 12 bucks for sadder days.

At least this is my rationale. So recently – after finishing OITNB, Girl Boss, HoC, and JTV – I decided to switch over to Hulu. I’m not sure exactly where the idea sprung from. Mostly I found myself missing the little stuff, like the Regular Show. But there are other benefits and drawbacks to Hulu.

1. The Cartoons are Better

I love the cartoon options on Hulu. Albeit, there’s no bo-jack horseman, but there is the Regular Show, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, and a LOT of Adult Swim shows. Plus, they have a better selection of Anime than Netflix, which is huge for me. Every once in awhile you just need some Prince of Tennis.

2. Hulu offers really cool, after live, television

I haven’t watched SNL in ages. Except for the few clips that will appear in my feed and that I actually click on. Hulu, however, offers SNL the day after AND it organizes it for you. I watched the Thursday Night Weekend Update Friday night. I also watched Jimmy Fallon. Man, I must say, I’d forgotten how much I love late night comedy sketches.

3. Extra Money out the Wazoo

So I’ve been watching Dexter. I knew that it was on Hulu so I didn’t think switching over would be a huge thing. Well turns out that Dexter is apart of the Showtime add-on Hulu features. Of course not watching Dexter is NOT an option. So I doled out an extra $8 to watch my current obsession. Totally worth it btw because $8 is still cheaper than the cost of both Netflix and Hulu.

I splurged for the extra non-commercial version of Hulu because Netflix has spoiled me. I swung the extra cost by stopping my Youtube Red subscription. Now I’m still paying about $20 a month for shows, but I have commercials on YouTube again and some short commercials with Dexter – showtime makes you watch a 30-second Showtime ad before all their shows on Hulu. The rest are all included on Hulu and I enjoy SNL and the Regular show ad-free.

There’s also an extra charge if you want HBO shows, including GoT. So far I’ve only seen one GoT and it was great and it was awesome and it was enough (the one where she successfully rides the dragons and sicks this dude’s own dogs on him).

Je Suis trés content.

Dexter: Thoughts on Aloneness S1:E5

A best friend of mine recently recommended the show Dexter to me. Like me, she shares a morbid sense of entertainment choices, we’re also both huge fans of My Favorite Murder Podcast, which if you don’t listen add it to your queue right now. Okay? Back to Dexter.

Dexter is extremely funny to me. I find myself laughing my face off when he thanks the couple for their love and dating advice before killing them – to the chagrin of my roommate who couldn’t hear what was happening and only saw the gore and me laughing. It’s dark, but it’s fascinating and funny in the way it presents an inside look at a lawfully evil serial killer.

Episode 5 of Season 1 really hit on something that is often over looked, and even in the episode itself is kind of overlooked and played up as normal. That is the idea that being alone is not normal and something that is rightfully shunned by society. Here’s what the show says about being alone and the need to be with another, especially in a romantic way.

Dexter: I’m not the monster he wants me to be. I’m Dexter. I like to pretend I’m alone, completely alone, maybe post-apocalypse or plague, whatever — no one left to act normal for, no need to hide who I really am. It would be freeing.

Dexter: Yeah, well, I don’t really care about girls. I just like being alone.
Harry: But most normal people don’t, and it’s important that you seem normal.
Dexter: Even though I’m not.
Harry: Because you’re not.

It frightening especially to those of us who are comfortable being alone, or not dating, or not in a relationship. The idea flits of the wondering if people who like being alone serial killers and not normal. Statistically speaking, single people are the minority, and of them people who like being single even less.

There’s even the ever persistent and classic fear of the man walking alone down the street. And the pity of the single woman walking alone and that she must need help. Dexter doesn’t cover the female side of aloneness, at least not as directly as the male side though perhaps there’s another posting about that to come. But Dexter is the epitome of the reason society cast such a negative light on the man alone. Because he could literally be a psycho killer in the privacy of his time alone. And of course Dexter is.

The laws of Harry dictate that being alone is not normal, and it is not in spite of but because of Dexter not being normal, liking being alone, that he has to fake emotions and happiness in being with another. That he has to work to have a relationship solely because he needs to blend in as a serial killer.

Dexter of course completely subscribes to the dictates of Harry and therefore makes it a part of his mission to not be alone. He has trouble with relationships though when the woman he is with realizes he doesn’t have another level – but with training, he is learning even to fake that. In a way, he decides to buy in, because of Harry, the social norm of not being alone, of not being single and always seeking out relationships.

While not every single person is a serial killer, and not everyone who likes being alone is an empty mental void lacking emotions, people who choose to be alone are certainly looked on an odd with the potential to be dangerous by society.

Girl Boss: Lesson’s of a Nasty Gal

The whole show equates to this:

‘Everyone, your best friend, your dad, your mom, your boyfriend, can and will screw you over. The only one who will look at for you and your dreams is yourself.’

Af first glance, that is just straight up depressing as fuck. Basically, all you have to count on is yourself and when you die, it’s going to all alone with no one there but yourself. No one walks you over the bridge to success in life and no one does with the rainbow bridge either.
 On the other-hand, that statement is full of hope and power. Sure you can’t count on anyone else, but you yourself is not an anyone. You are a boss babe who can create an empire, make your own image to sell, make best friends – who you can’t count on as much as yourself – and pay your own bills. If you’re lucky and smart, you’ll use the money you make to support other self-empowered women like yourself (enter Annie and Kaavi, which by the way Kaavi is a badass awesome name and totally saving it for my daughter… or cat).
Sophia decides though that relying only on herself doesn’t mean giving up on friends, cutting people out, and being a basic garbage person. When she sees her mom act out against the performing company she’s apart of when she doesn’t get the part, that is a turning moment when Sophia realizes that she is her mothers daughter, in that she knows she is ultimately all alone, but that knowing this doesn’t mean being an asshole and doing it all alone.
She begins to mend fences because just because she doesn’t need anyone or anything at all, she also knows that she doesn’t want to end up an alone meanie like her mother. She goes back and does her best to mend fences, and realizes that she really does need – in the sense of moral support – her best friend Annie and really does want her to be on the Nasty Gal team. She apologizes for being selfish. Because being self-sufficient is not equal to being selfish and being an asshole.
On the other side of the selfish not selfish spectrum, she deals with her cheating boyfriend Shane. When she calls him on his bull shit it is not to be a meanie to screw him over, it is the exact opposite. She is standing up for herself and making him do the same, being alone with others is about being as open and honest with them as you are with yourself. She realized she couldn’t take it and couldn’t forgive him in the sense of getting to stay together. But she does stand up for herself and owns that he might be okay with living in the lie, but she is not. It comes back to her taking care of herself, and her relationship, by looking out for herself.
She forgives him in the sense that she decides not to let him rain on her own parade and success. She takes away his power, because ultimately he doesn’t have it, only she alone has that power. The letting go is shown when she says that she wishes him the best, that he doesn’t do it to the next girl. Some might equate this to forgiveness, but it’s not. Forgiveness implies giving him a clean slate and pretending nothing happened, basically what he gave himself by not telling her. She gives him a clean slate, but not in a way that muddies her success and happiness. She lets him go. For herself.

It Vibrates: Thoughts on Sex Dolls

He thinks that’s the direction it’s moving. She maintains eye contact as something within her dies. Her mind is filled with machetes and decapitated men.
“Because I don’t know if you’re aware, but guys watch a lot of porn.”
“Oh, I’m aware.”
By direction, he thinks men having relationships with sex dolls is not only the way it’s moving but the way of the future. In other words, women will finally be demoted from caring for the sexual needs of men. Another phrasing is men will finally have perfect sex toys and will no longer want to have sex with real women.

“I mean it’s so customizable and you can get exactly what you want.”
True, and no emotional baggage along with the girl, no after sex talk, unless you want that with a Siri like being, and no complaining about the pubes all over your toilet and the nasty man stink, no more condoms, wasting money on dates, or jealousy when you order your 5th doll. And when you get tired of one, you can literally throw her away.

Friends From College: Musing on Marriage

Sam: Well, maybe Rich married the wrong person the first time around.

Lisa: Mm.
Sam: It happens. I’m Jon’s second wife remember?
Lisa: I do, yeah.
Sam: Look life is short. You gotta go for what you want or you’re gonna end up regretting it. Even if it means that you hurt some people.
Lisa: Um, so you’re saying that I should be happy for Rich because he went for it when he cheated on his wife?
Sam: Rich is 40, and God bless him, now he can spend the second half of his life with a chick he’s crazy about instead of someone he grew apart from.
Lisa: It makes sense that you’d take Rich’s side.
Sam: I’m not taking sides. I’m just saying it’s not always black and white.
Lisa: Are you seriously giving me a fucking lecture right now?
Sam: It felt like you just gave me one.

If the above scene doesn’t chill you. Well good for you. The whole show grapples with the meaning of marriage in a way that gets right to the heart of it and the question of what its value and meaning are.

Neither woman is thinking clearly, while Sam says it isn’t black and white, what she really means is she doesn’t want it to be. She’s looking for approval from the wife of the man she is cheating with. Showing she is not okay with her actions. Her desperate need to get approval from Lisa shows that she needs approval to come from outside of herself, because she herself cannot justify what she is doing knowing that it is hurting other people, specifically Lisa.

Sam contradicts herself when she says life is short. It might be short, but not short enough to spend with the wrong person and just get it over with. She blesses Rich for getting to spend the rest of his life, after 40, with a hot girl who excites him instead of his first wife who he no longer feels connected too. It raises the question though of whether or not she ever felt connected to her husband since she has been cheating on him the whole time. Which again circles around the ultimate question of the whole show. What is the meaning of marriage and does it even matter.

The only words of hers that ring true are when she says how maybe Rich married the wrong person the first time around. She needs to believe that she and Ethan married wrong and that this is what makes their affair okay, because their marriages are the real mistake, not the affair. Netflix doesn’t give the full back story, but Ethan and Sam have grown more and more together, not apart over the years, while Sam has grown more and more apart from her Husband and Ethan from Lisa, though Lisa still holds to her ideal. In other words, Sam and Ethan should have married each other as they’ve been having sex together since college before either of them were married.

Sam further shows her need for approval from others when she refuses to be open about the affair. She’s in denial about the state of her marriage and her feelings for Ethan. She can’t acknowledge that it’s wrong, but she can’t hold onto believing it to be right, so she hides it and seeks confirmation from Lisa that everything is okay. Lisa doesn’t give her that satisfaction. She does however “solve” Sam and Ethan’s problem in another way. Lisa has an affair of her own. Because she is also in denial about the state of her marriage and while she knows something is wrong, she refuses to look outside of herself and goes so far as to create a problem to explain why she and Ethan are not connecting.

Lisa is right in her anger as it aligns with her truth that marriage is a sacred thing, an agreement between two people to be monogamous and stay true to each other. She is also right in her feeling of something going on between Sam and Ethan. However, she is clinging so hard to her belief in marriage, and in Ethan’s loyalty, that she blames the feeling of disconnect with Ethan on herself. On her own stressors like her ‘failure’ to conceive a baby and her horrible sexually harassing work environment. She hooks up with Nick as a release, doing exactly what she believes will only hurt other people. She misses the point though that it hurts playboy Nick who earlier claims that the whole point of marriage is to make sleeping with other people more fun. Her target is her husband, and because he’s having an affair he doesn’t even care and is actually relieved that Lisa cheated on him. This only serves to confirm Lisa’s feeling of disconnect from Ethan and the feeling that something is wrong, although she doesn’t know or refuses to know what.

 

Jane the Virgin Chapter 1: Pilot

Last night I watched s1 e1 of Jane the Virgin while wearing a borrowed pro-abortion t-shirt.

My friend kept assuring me that the show gets less cheesy, that this was just the first episode and then things start to pick up.

But I LOVE the cheesiness of the first episode. The tension and the honesty about female relationships are all there and so real.

For example, I love the line when Jane confronts her mother about whether or not she would have kept her if not for her grandmother making her. He mother answers truthfully, “I’m glad I had you.” Jane, “That’s not what I asked.” “I know.”

This beautiful little interaction shows the tension between mother/daughter on multiple levels especially when it becomes known that Alba actually wanted Xiomara to abort Jane.

That’s all well and good, but the main thing I love about this first episode is it shows that pregnancy is not related to sex and vice versa.

You don’t have to have sex to get pregnant.

And in the same thread: Sex is not about getting pregnant.

This is such a relief for women. It means that waiting until marriage is fine if that’s what you want to do. But you don’t have to be doing it because you want to be married before you have kids.

It also means that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying sex as an activity and not as a way to procreate.

In other words, it’s fine to enjoy sex as a woman (I know, I know and as a man… but seems like everyone is fine with letting men enjoy it already), and to not just lie back and think of the Queen or the King or Jesus or whatever and that it’s just about making babies.

Nope. You can make babies without sex.

Sex is something else.

It’s something we do for fun with another. Not unlike playing a card game, except for all the added benefits of physical stimulation.

Dali Stuck

And now your chum is pestering you again. The clockwork of friendship turns ceaselessly, operating the swing-lever dealies of harassment in perpetuity!

What does Homestuck seem to be saying about friendship in the early 21st century…

Well, I just started Homestuck tonight. It is making me feel very sad. I remind myself not to judge. A part of me wants to run, remember not to take it so seriously. But right from the start, it is super dark. John doesn’t want to go down stairs and engage with his father; a waste of his precious time. Even though his father just gave him a sweet gift that he’s actually excited about.
The clockwork reference, of course, brings up the modern classics like Clockwork Orange and the surrealism painting by Salvadore Dali The Persistence of Memory.
 
The melting of the clocks implies with time memories become distorted, however, they remain, haunting us and lying about the cavern of our minds. In a meta way, this shows the creators of Homestuck looking back or down upon the current youth. The remembrance of being 13 and not wanting to, and not knowing how to connect with others and the world around you in a meaningful way. Feeling like an armless being bumbling about trying to find a place in the world.
Anywho, these are my first impressions of the game. #nospoilers. I don’t know what happens. 😉