Much of the planet’s human population, today, lives in conditions that many inhabitants of North America would regard as dystopian. Quite a few citizens of the United States live under conditions that many people would regard as dystopian. Dystopia is not very evenly distributed. Fantasy is fun, but naturalism is the necessary balance — realism, to be less precise. Naturalistic fiction written today is necessarily fairly pessimistic — otherwise, it wouldn’t be a realistic depiction of the present. If you were, say, a tiger, and you knew what’s about to happen to your species (extinction, almost certainly), wouldn’t it be realistic to have a pessimistic view of things? I think it’s realistic, as a human, to have a pessimistic view of a world minus tigers.
Q: How do you maintain hope in these dark times?
A: One day at a time, and treasuring those who retain an active sense of humor.
In time, my office looked like it had been hit by a blizzard of 20-pound bond. There were piles of paper on every flat surface, and on the floor around me, all of them tagged with colorful Post-it Notes, some of the piles reaching several feet in height—a miniature cityscape at my feet: Transcribed interviews, notes, court documents and legal transcripts of testimony and deposition hearings, newspaper clippings, non-fiction books and research papers on the subjects of AIDS and the Reagan Administration’s war on pornography (a period during which porn consumption by the public rose exponentially, I would learn). Not to mention my collection of VHS films—black plastic rectangles, clad in colorful cardboard slip covers, stacked in rickety piles like so many skyscrapers populating my urban jungle of research materials.
The blizzard of 20-pound bond is a beautiful bit of writing. Reading that line made my old soul smile. I can also relate to being surrounded by paper and Post-It Notes.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve stayed angry — but my anger has grown up, too. It has boiled down and condensed into something strong and subtle, something that I can control. Writing out my rage is cathartic — and useful, too. I’m lucky that my coping mechanism is also my career. Plenty of women are angry, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s bad enough that women and girls are still being attacked and undermined, as individuals and as a group — when our basic rights to health care are stripped away, when we are blamed for the violence that is done to us and shamed for our sexuality, when we have to get up every day and deal with racism and homophobia and class prejudice. It’s bad enough that we still have to fight to be treated as full, equal human beings without also being shamed and silenced if the whole situation makes us furious. Yes, we’re angry. Why shouldn’t we be? Why aren’t you?
Every woman is The Incredible Hulk. Their secret is their always angry and that anger needs some place to go.
You anger is a gift.
Early in my medical training, I learned that it is not the bullet that kills you, but the damage from the bullet. A handgun bullet enters the body in a straight line. Like a knife, it damages the organs and tissues directly in its path, and then it either exits the body or is stopped by bone, tissue or skin.
This is in contrast to bullets from an assault rifle. They are three times the speed of handgun bullets. Once they enter the body, they fragment and explode, pulverizing bones, tearing blood vessels and liquefying organs.
This is what was happening to my patient, whose heart quickly stopped beating. We performed an emergency thoracotomy — splitting open his chest in an attempt to clamp off bleeding and restart his heart. Blood poured out of his chest cavity. The bullet had disintegrated his spleen and torn his aorta. Four ribs had essentially turned to dust. The damage was far too extensive. He died in our E.R. He was 15.
Political Discourse, 2017 finds its roots in Fight Club.
Today’s tough-guy posturing seems rooted, paradoxically, in threat and fear: fear of defeat, fear of lost status and fear that society is growing increasingly ill suited to tough-guy posturing in the first place. The narrator of “Fight Club,” source of that “snowflake” mantra, was a delusional man coping with modernity by inventing a hypermasculine alter-ego, imagining himself as the man-cult leader Tyler Durden. But making an entire alternate masculine identity is a lot of work. It’s always much easier to just call other people wimps and snowflakes — and hope they’ll be intimidated enough to melt away.