Gone Fishing. Honk If You See Da Whiteman.

White vignettes from different eras.

I – In An Office

Phone: Ring! Ring!

[PZ expects the IT man and answers, but it is the Blackguard.]

Blackguard: I want you to do this. I will support you and vote for it but I want you to do it. I want you to do it because you can get it done and I want it done. I support you in everything. I want this new program instituted within two years or I am [drumroll] going on the market! And after accepting the offer I will get, I will write all the newspapers and professional organizations denouncing the university for not having done this! So get it done! Do it because it will benefit you, too! I appreciate and admire you! I support you in everything!

II: Shopping For Reeducators, Back Then

Reeducator: What is B’s opinion on event A?

PZ: You know, I am not quite sure. We have not discussed it directly in at least a decade. I remember hir reaction at the time and hir comments to me a few years later. I know from more recent remarks that event A still matters to hir, and I could speculate about why. But I am not entirely sure of hir current perspective on these things, or whether what ze shared with me years ago was all ze thought then.

Reeducator (triumphant): You see! You do not know hir opinion! That means you have no empathy with hir!

PZ (frowning): Excuse me? I do not follow your reasoning here. Does having empathy imply complete familiarity with someone’s views? Perhaps we are too reserved where I come from. I would not presume to speak for B on this, especially without knowing hir as well as I do some of the other people involved in A.

Reeducator (receding): Oh, well, don’t worry about that then, forget I said it, let me ask a different question.


6 thoughts on “Gone Fishing. Honk If You See Da Whiteman.

  1. To be honest, some of these sound like me in my arrogant youth, before I knew anything about anything. Although, I wasn’t trying to be manipulative, as perhaps these whitemen were. Rather, my views about the world were quite random and without foundation.

  2. Yes, and it is why I don’t want school to start / have these phobias about academia. I understand this stuff now and at least don’t replicate it with myself the way I used to … but I am still not as good at deflecting it as I once was / as I need to be.

    I did have a major realization just now as regards all of this. It’s key, it’s about the root of why I went to Reeducation, and I’d post about it but I would rather go swimming. So I am just jotting down, so as not to lose it.


    I went to Reeducation largely because of having several times gotten caught in the thrall of a certain type of neurotic woman, especially if they were in my profession. They wanted an audience, they were toxic, I knew it, did not want to be the audience, but also could not tear myself away.

    These people have the psychology of one of my relatives, the one my father was in the thrall of and taught us we must be too, but also the professional authority of my father, whom according to the person in whose thrall he was, had to be the *only* professional authority.

    So: I had to be in the thrall of both and had to be a sort of permanent handmaiden in this rigid situation. Very much like being an assistant professor with warring, yet allied and rigid senior faculty above one — knowing one needed to rise but realizing one was also being opposed and not rationally, but by a really powerful irrationality.

    Anyway, IRL of course there were always ways around this, or through its cracks, and one was expected to grow and applauded for it, so that thrall did not have to be kept.

    Yet its residue was these unfriendships I would develop with a certain type of neurotic and bossy woman, and a few other run of the mill neuroses like that — not always realizing I could opt out of quagmires, not always realizing I did not have to put up with certain things, always putting myself second in any relationship I took seriously. Finally, knowing that those attitudes would lead to bad relationships and limited ones, and should really be changed so I could really move forward in life.

    In retrospect I realize I could have achieved all of that without Reeducation, since I was so aware of it. But I really thought someone else’s insight — and the insight of someone objective / outside the rest of my life — could be useful, and I really was just about ready to come out of this cocoon (was not nearly as screwed up as I then became).

    ANYWAY my realization of this afternoon is much simpler than all of that. I imitated my father in everything because I saw that he was the role model I must follow to survive — my mother had certain good information and advice but I would not survive if I took her as a model in a general way, she was too self deprecating and self destructive, one could simply not afford to imitate that. It was out of a really fierce survival instinct that I modeled myself upon my father.

    Now, that meant taking on some characteristics and attitudes I would have been better off evading. One of these was managing / handling / respecting / taking seriously some really crazy attitudes in women. That is the basis of my being so careful and respectful of a certain kind of mean lady. This is really simple and / but it is key, and it shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out in Reeducation.

    But Reeducation, as we know, claimed that the whole world really was as I had feared at 5 it might be, and thus invalidated the intervening 30 years of my life.

    But. I figured this out about my father because I have this friend I like but disagree with on many things but like, yet avoid, and feel guilty about avoiding, and yet avoid because I often feel projected into by her, and also because I don’t like how my reaction is to her sometimes — I feel somehow as though I have to prove I am real.

    Anyway looking at this e-mail I wrote today, apologizing for not having been in touch, I realized: I see both of my parents in her and it is why I react as I do.

    And so I want to free myself of projecting in this way. How. One does not have to be in thrall to the ideas of the one or of the other, or to the vise it is to be in the tangled thrall of both. One can notice the reaction and step out of the net of those mediations.

    More generally, one could consider stepping out of the hypnosis to the unconscious idea that one must still, after age 25, be trying to live out all of those old roles and how best to negotiate them, how to keep one’s parents calm, how not to scare them, how not to incur their scorn, how to make sure they feel like supermen and parents, how to keep oneself in a subordinate position so they are not hurt (that is the most important, they will be hurt if one is not in subordinate position and I cannot stand to watch them in pain, it is just too much pain). After 25 one could drop all of that and follow one’s own model.

    This is much longer than I had thought it would be, and it is disorganized. But the kernel is the hypnosis: being mysteriously in the thrall of people who have the right cocktail of characteristics from each of my family members.

  3. “being mysteriously in the thrall of people who have the right cocktail of characteristics from each of my family members.”: I hadn’t thought of it in terms of hypnosis, but it is like that, isn’t it? If you aren’t paying attention, you respond to people in ways that are so familiar that they seem natural; but really, they are learned behavior and you have to unlearn it.

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