Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SHE NOSE

"Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment."
--Heywood Hale Broun

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about men's scents that was published on the Washington Examiner's website and it got some positive response over the years.  My main thesis was that men's scents don't smell manly or masculine at all:
You can't go into Wicks&Sticks or Bed Bath and Beyond and find anything remotely masculine. For a guy its like going into enemy territory, an intimidating and dizzying array of feminine goods with a cloud of scents so overpowering men stagger out looking for oxygen. What's needed is a bit of masculinity in some of these products. Why not leather and sawdust scented shampoo? How about motor oil and tobacco? Newly mown grass and freshly turned soil? Where's the man's side of things, with scents designed to make them smell more manly rather than slightly less feminine than the really girly smells?
Would it really kill a perfumer to come up with a man's scent that's more like sawdust, pipe tobacco, or straw?  Scents that are more associated with manliness and work than a fruity French noble strutting the halls of Versailles?  Apparently so, but I don't suppose perfumers are big on traditionally masculine labor and exploits, really.

That said, there is some effort along those lines, with some men's scents being a bit less floral and sweet.  The problem is that these days you pretty much have to be in a rural setting to even meet a woman who associates the smells I suggested with men.  A city girl -- most of the female population, since populations contain the bulk of humans -- will be more likely to associate beard oil, candy-flavored coffee floats, and plastic with men than anything traditionally manly.  

And let's be honest, its the women that men are trying to attract with this stuff.  In a study done a while back, women blind tested though that baby powder was the sexiest smell in the world (although chocolate, lavender, and pumpkin pie ranked high), possibly from association with procreation and comfort.  With that kind of inclination, perhaps men should be going for the smell of the ponce, rather than the smell of the worker -- in a club, at least.

With that in mind, recently a comment from a blog called Beauty Pert dropped into that old post on scents from 2011 because they had taken hundreds of colognes and tested them for scent, price, and durability (how long the smell lasts), coming up with a top 10.  And while most of the scents are fruity, sweet, and not exactly bursting with masculinity, all got high marks in female approval; well from urban females, at least.

So if you're curious what might work best for you in the club or on the subway, this is something to look at and consider.  I'll stick to maybe once in a while some aftershave myself.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

EDEN RUINED BY ITALIAN

"Cities make ferocious men because they make corrupt men. The mountains, the sea, the forest, make savage men; they develop the fierce side, but often without destroying the humane side."
--Victor Hugo Les Miserables

One of the most enduring myths is that of the noble savage.  This is the theory that civilization corrupts, that it causes humanity to go wrong and that in a primitive state, all is in equality and peace.  Rousseau is the most well-known proponent of this idea, although he develops it in a different direction than most today.  Rousseau argued that over time, divisions and troubles developed as people gained sophistication, and as a result civilization with its laws and social contract (I give up some small things to gain better things as a whole) develops.
"Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness."
--Anne Frank 
However, there is a continuous worldview through all history and all cultures held by some which takes this idea even further.  There is a portion of humanity which believes that all people are basically, innately decent and good, but are corrupted by outside forces.  Further, since people are basically good, we need only find the proper policies and enforce the proper ideas and we can achieve paradise, a utopia of peace and happiness.
Men in a state of nature do not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill."--Jean-Jacques Rousseau
This worldview usually identifies the bad influence as civilization or a certain culture, religion, or a given race (jews, blacks, whites and especially males most recently) who are to blame.  If only those things were changed or eliminated everything would be wonderful!

Now, anyone over a certain age should have lived long enough and learned enough history to realize this is patent nonsense.  Any parent knows that even the tiniest baby with no influence or outside corrupting forces can be horrible for no reason at all.  What is bad is within us, not without us.  We're born with it and struggle against it all our lives.  There is no place we can go where we're away from the bad things, because we bring them with us.

This is why the old saw about a mugged liberal is told: "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."  Some events, some experiences are so eye opening and brutal that they force someone to reexamine their basic understanding of the world and realize it was wrong.  People are not basically good, they are not basically noble and decent.

Now, logically and philosophically this worldview falls totally to pieces with any examination.  If people are all, without exception, basically decent and good... where did bad people come from to begin with?  That is, if outside influences and people are what corrupted the first person who went bad, what is the origin of those outside influences and people?  This is like the idea of something coming from nothing: science, logic, common sense, all sources of understanding know that that is not possible.  There has to be an origin, a place the bad came from.  And that cannot be true if everyone is basically decent and good at heart and origin.

COLUMBIAN SIN
But consider a moment the date.  It was Columbus Day yesterday, where historically, Americans have celebrated the discovery of the "New world" by Christopher Columbus' little fleet in 1492.  Now, historically there were previous discoveries of parts of the Americas by Europeans.  Vikings encountered Newfoundland in roughly 1000 and even had a small settlement there.  Some writings indicate that an explorer named Brendan encountered the Americas in the sixth century AD.  Chinese apparently had landed on the Pacific coast as early as 3300 years ago.

But when Columbus landed on the Caribbean Island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, he set off a wave of exploration and colonization which the previous discoveries had not.  The Viking and Chinese settlements did not last, but the post-Columbian ones did.  And that is an incredibly significant historical event, no matter how you view history.

In the 1970s it became popular on the left to consider Columbus a monster, a villain who gave the innocent and peaceful natives diseases, enslaved them, wiped out their culture, and destroyed all that was good.  This theory teaches that the American natives were all good and peaceful and wonderful and just and true and righteous. They all ate free trade non-GMO gluten free food and were perfectly multicultural and non-judgmental, free of war and with perfect gender equality. Columbus, an evil white European showed up and ruined it all. In short, Columbus he infected the Eden-like paradise of the Americas with his Euro-masculinity.

And the origin of this theory is that of the Noble Savage.  There were people living outside the evil corrupting influence of White European Males, and Columbus found them and ruined everything.  That's why when you hear someone talking about this, they never mention the nearly-constant wars, cannibalism, human sacrifice, rape, pillaging, genocide, disease, poverty, and incredible lack of technical and scientific, artistic, and literary knowledge of the native peoples of America.

Columbus was a man of his time, and a particularly greedy one at that.  He ripped off his own people, acting as the King's supreme representative and authority in the Americas (which at the time was not known to be as vast as it is).  He took credit for what others did, he took over what they developed, he took the riches they found, and so on.  And yes, he and his men enslaved the local natives, and because of their culture of "free love" spread European venereal diseases among the natives they were not exposed to before.  Entire tribes were wiped out by the infections they had no resistances to.

Of course, the natives spread disease among the Europeans they hadn't been exposed to, either, such as Typhus and Syphilis, and the natives were murderous and killed Europeans but those are details that modern revisionist historians either ignore, gloss over, or present as a rough sort of justice: they had it coming for daring to set foot in the Eden of the Americas.

Objectively, neither side was particularly admirable, as one would expect if you understand innate and original sin.  If what's bad comes from within us rather than outside influences, then its spread evenly throughout all humanity without regard to creed, culture, race, or location.  The natives were bad because people are bad.  The Spaniards and Columbus (who was Italian) was bad, because people are bad.

PERFECTION
The worldview of the noble savage and innate goodness faces continual and brutal opposition by reality and history, but the understanding that people are basically bad and need redemption is constantly supported by reality and history.  There's no way to look at the world around you, the man in the mirror (or lady), and the history of humanity and come to any other sane conclusion.

Yet, the idea persists and throughout all time, all leftist movements and all leftist philosophies share this one common thread.  No matter when or where or what their -ism is, all leftists cling to this theory: if you give me enough power, I can make everything wonderful, even if we have to do some bad things along the way to clear the path.  From the French Revolution to Marxism to Fascism to postmodern progressivism, its a continual thread of thinking you can fix everything because people are perfectable on earth.  All it takes is the right policy and we'll all be perfect!

And in the push to make this happen, over 150 million people were put to death in the 20th century.  In the name of perfecting man and bringing about paradise, a mountain of skulls was stacked up the likes of which humanity  had never seen before.

So when you hear complaints about Columbus, ultimately, that's what this is all about.  And when people talk about indigenous people's day instead, they're presuming that the peoples of America started out there, rather than traveling there from other lands, probably Asia.  After all: how long does a people have to inhabit an area, until they become natives?  Is over 400 years long enough?

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

THE NEW PRUDES




We're in a strange place culturally today.  Its been quite a while since moralistic prudes have tried so hard to control private and public behavior and instill specific, exact legalistic codes on society.  And the oddest thing about it is that this new push is coming from the exact people who just a few years ago told us "if it feels good, do it."

The people who gave us raunchy sex comedies like Porky's in the 80s and American Pie in the 00's are now telling us that anything remotely like that behavior totally disqualifies you from public service, let alone private life.

The people who told us "love the one you're with" and "if her daddy's rich take her out for a meal, if her daddy's poor, just do what you feel" are now telling us that you have to get signed proof for every stage of sexual contact and even if you do, if she regrets it later, it was rape.  The people who created Animal House are now wondering if its even okay to laugh at it.  People routinely say "that could never get made today" about films like Blazing Saddles, but could you even make Pretty in Pink?  Not according to its star Molly Ringwald.

Russ Douthat recently wrote about this odd shift in of all places the New York Times:
The world of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford’s youth, the world that's given us this fall's nightmarish escalation of the culture war, was not a traditionalist world as yet unreformed by an enlightened liberalism. It also wasn’t a post-revolutionary world ruled by social liberalism as we know it today. Rather it was a world where a social revolution had ripped through American culture and radically de-moralized society, tearing down the old structures of suburban bourgeois Christian morality, replacing them with libertinism. With "if it feels good, do it" and the Playboy philosophy.
After spending 50 years tearing down everything everyone held dear, mocking morality, breaking apart a system of ethics and behavior, cynically undermining all sense of public etiquette and cultural norms... now we're being told everything they said to do is all wrong.

Suddenly what pretty much everyone has done in the past is grounds for dismissal and attack.  Went to parties and got drunk?  Now you're a sinister potential rapist.  Got a diary accounting for where you went and what you did?  Got witnesses?  You might need them now; all it takes is a woman to suddenly remember something she says you did, and a political benefit and you're doomed.

I've written about this in the past, how the left tore out the skeleton of our culture, leaving it unable to stand or function.  They've taken every pain to remove all traces of what was once the system of ethics and behavior the nation generally agreed upon and which makes up the very core of a society.  Now, they want to suddenly replace it all, with something new and even more prudish.

It started in the mid 80s, with the PMRC led by Democrat wife of Al Gore Tipper, holding her committee meetings telling everyone that lyrics were so bad on albums that they should be printed on the back so everyone can read them instead of buried in songs barely comprehensible against the music.  This made sense to them, at the time.


Then in the 1990s, in a push to control men, sexual harassment suddenly was the focus, telling men that if they hit on a girl, they're harassing her.  That any contact or behavior she didn't care for was sexual harassment because that helped build up their attack on Clarence Thomas.  Then came President Clinton dragging a clanking long chain of sexual harassment, molestation, assault, and rape charges and the idea suddenly vanished from the pop culture and news media mavens.

Now they're marching to restrict and end fun, for a super rigid, absolute code of behavior -- one that changes almost daily.  The problem here isn't that all of the left are this crazy and irrational.  Most aren't. Its that there's a sort of shark frenzy of trying to top the previous norms and the most crazy, unhinged voices get the biggest megaphone.  And its all a push to destroy what was once standard, to change the paradigm, to tear it all down and start over, but this time without white men.

Meanwhile the bulk of America is stepping back aghast as people in crayola hair scream about "front holes" and tell men that they need to shut up and let women accuse them of anything, because we always have to "believe women."

In particular I have to wonder about black Americans for whom the "you have to just believe the white girl and face the noose" probably sounds awfully familiar and sinister.  This assumption that because bad people do bad things to women then all men do bad things to women and no woman ever lies is not just historically nonsense, its insulting to women.  Imagine being a mother, a sister, a daughter in this setting.  Now just on the word of one woman, your dad, brother, uncle, son, cousin, nephew can be destroyed and he must not fight back.

How much longer the crazy can build up I really don't know.  To my knowledge this kind of curve is unheard of in history, or if it existed, it was in short bursts of crazy such as the Salem witch hunts, the French revolution denouncements, and devil worship scares.  Instead of being isolated its now global: the crazy is everywhere and incredibly loud.

I suspect that, like with the mafia, the only way to deal with this is going to have to be to take out the leadership and their funding: find the people behind this, pushing it, funding it, giving it voice, and deal with them and their money.  Then it will dry up.

Because the crazy has always been with us.  There have always been shrieking harpies and demented men who have been saying things that make everyone roll their eyes.  They just were relegated to the free "alternative" newspaper with all the hooker ads in the back, the streets mumbling into a paper bag, the university assistant nobody likes.  What's changed is not the presence of these people, but their voice and how credibly they're treated in popular culture.

And until it becomes politically damaging and costly to promote and embrace the crazy, its going to only get worse.

Friday, September 28, 2018

WORDLESS NET

I apologize for the lack of content, I've been busy but not writing.  My next major project, the Jolrhos Field Guide, is getting closer to completion and I am at the stage where I am finishing off artwork.  There are quite a few little illustrations strewn through the book as well as some large pieces.  In total there are almost 200 pieces to finish, and that necessarily takes quite a bit of time.

Hence, my focus and energy has been on the book to attempt to finish that up.  By way of some compensation I'll link a few of the rough scans here so you can see a bit of what I'm doing at least.

Style wise I am influenced by the great French illustrator Moebius, and while he's five hundred times the artist I am, I love his clean lines and careful lack of shading.  A lot of artists are so heavy on big, bold blacks that it is while dramatic feels awkward to me: life almost never has that deep a black for real, its almost always shades of gray.  
That said, some images are just better with some darkness, like the swamp image above (heavily influenced by Walt Kelly's Pogo illustrations) or the adventurers in a dark area with heavy lighting.

Most of the book's illustrations are small example images of various unusual or world-specific plants.  Some are magical herbs, some have some odd effect if used correctly, some are dangerous, some are sources of poisons, etc.