Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Pose is Usually a Cover

A few weeks ago, I explained the pervasive role of poseurs in society. They are the rule, not the exception. Seemers always win, so posing's become so pervasive that doers - the genuine article - are spurned. Actuality has no value when we're fully occupied by posing.
This is why severe autistics get so disoriented, twirling themselves into oblivion. They don't understand posing, so their whole experience here feels like being trapped inside an asylum. Which it is.
Seemers are not only a different breed from doers; they're usually the very opposite thing. It took me a lifetime to figure this out (which shows how hypnotized we are).

Consider homophobes, who think about gay people an awful lot, which is not something heterosexuals do. In fact, there's a word for people who think about gayness a lot, and, I'll give you a hint: it begins with a "G".

Such people don't trust their impulses. And this insecurity drives them to turn the amp up to eleven, making themselves so extremely ungay that there's no question.

Super ungay people reveal their impulses and insecurities. Straight people don't make such effort to seem ungay. Which can, in turn, make them seem gay. Because people buy the pose more than the actuality. Extra ungay-seeming people are the apotheosis of heterosexuality, it goes without saying!

Me, I don't have the slightest doubt about my preference, so I never lift a finger to seem ungay. This makes some homophobes suspect - or even insist - that I'm gay. While I'm daydreaming about female secondary sexual characteristics, these guys, consumed by their obsession with gayness, parse my disinclination to conform to the prescribed super-ungay behaviors. This supposedly makes me the gay one.

It's insufficient to be straight. One must also go to lengths to seem straight; to demark oneself as ungay. Because the "seeming" is what matters. And it's hard, because suppressed gay homophobes have really raised the bar, having spent years painstakingly honing their super ungay posing. How could a merely straight dude like me ever hope to compete?

It's a familiar paradox to me. In the above-linked article on posing, I complain about being forced to compete with highly-accomplished poseurs to pass for the sort of person I actually am:
Having been successful in a half dozen unrelated fields, with my name on a bunch of books and records and media stuff, having inspired a generation of Spanish and Portuguese jazz musicians and had some minor rippling effect on how folks think and write about food and use the Internet, is it also incumbent on me to seem like that person? Have I ignored a critical chunk along the way? Am I going around obliviously without my pants on? Do I need to fix this?

I can't imagine anything more foolish than posing as the sort of person I actually am. Isn't that backwards? One dons an aloof "That Guy" persona - too busy with important importance to do whatever - if one is a bluffer who hasn't done much but wants to seem like he has. I get why people strike that pose, but why would we expect the genuine to match the pose; to imitate the imitators?

Why would I pose as me? The question makes my head explode. None of my insight re: human psychology helps. And the awful and dopey truth is that even if I put effort into posing as someone like me - to look the part, whatever that even means - I'd surely wind up in the lower 20th percentile of me-posers. I'd be terrible at it!

I'm quite good at doing things, but horrendously bad at posing as a thing-doer. There are specialists for that! Thousands of them! And they're good! They can do something I can't, and I truly admire them! Me, I could never fool anyone into imagining I could do something notable. Even if I actually have.
I'm amazed more people haven't fully awakened to this craziness, because we've all just experienced a massive reveal. After watching generations of Conservative leaders waving the Constitution over their heads, pounding their chests in devotion to the red, white, and blue, and proclaiming themselves super patriots and stiff-spined tyrant obliterators, the moment a two-bit con-man real estate guy started riling up the yahoos, every one of those ham-fisted brawny he-men shrunk into mini Neville Chamberlains. Meekly terrified of losing their jobs or elected positions or Fox News exposure or fundraising streams, they quivered and quaked, kowtowed and appeased, all while quietly recognizing the immense peril to the republic.

This revealed that it was all a pose all along. Beneath their flamboyant alpha patriotic barking, they were always submissive, impotent, spineless weasels - the antithesis of their pose. That's precisely why they've been posing so long and so hard all this time. Real strong people don't feel compelled to act strong. They ARE strong.

People who aren't racist simply aren't racist. People who grab the mantle of Anti-Racism - who spend their leisure time uncovering shlubs unwise enough to have attended 1965 Halloween parties in blackface so they can CALL THEM OUT - such people are insecure about their own impulses, so they turn the amp up to eleven, making themselves so extremely anti-racist that there's no question.

Consider my definition of racism, and consider how many loudmouths comically trap themselves in that net. In fact, strident anti-racism (remember, we live in a Taoist world) is racism.


Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

I'd like to relate a story, a little speech I will always remember, that is an "anchor point", I guess, for me regarding homosexuality, and some public attitudes.

This occurred in jail, in Los Angeles. Not LA County Jail -- the "Big House", but in an overnight holding facility (MDC - Metropolitan Detention Center), ~ 10 years ago.

Jail is not an experience I recommend, but you do get plenty of unvarnished opinions and anecdotes about how lots of people in the US actually live. This particular night, at about 3am, when the DUI arrestees had stopped coming in, and the ~30 men in the 12'x20' holding cell were all trying to sleep sitting up, one guy, a lean older black dude who had been there since I arrived, well ... this cat stood up, yawned and stretched, and right then he needed to tell us some TRUTH!

"If you let a man...suck your gay. If you f*** a punk in the ass, YOU GAY! You ain't on no "DOWN-LOW", Ni**a, you GAY! Don't matter you don't suck a dick, or get f***ed in da ass! If you a MAN, doing sex sh*t with another man, you GAY! Stop wit the "down-low" bullsh*t, just be a gay-ass ni**a!"

So the man's point was that the African-American community cannot stand homosexuality, and has erected a cultural wall of Total Denial and Silence about it. Since he was not likely seeking tenure, or active on social media, he didn't blame society but challenged the many, many black men who have sex with men, but deny it and even pose as haters of gays and gay culture.

This is but a single data point, but this guy seemed like he had seen a LOT of the behavior he was describing. Again, people in jail whom I have encountered are shockingly savvy about what drives people, and what is really happening "out there", despite almost no education, and no knowledge of anything in the world beyond a ~50 mile radius of their lives.

It was surely an indelible, totally random and fascinating speech.

Jim Leff said...

Yup. The pose is always a cover.

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