Despite my long-standing and outspoken hatred for that special class of bed-shitting person known as “a Tool fan,” the band Tool actually holds a permanent place in my heart. Watching the fallout from a recent episode of Freer Talk Live, wherein we hosted Chris Cantwell, I found myself wanting to post some of the lyrics to “The Grudge.”
I admonish Tool fans who cling to the notion that the music makes them spiritually enlightened, but so does Tool themselves (notably in “Rosetta Stoned”). These are the kind of people who invent Indigo Child bullshit and run with it, and it’s tedious and ridiculous. They took the songs from the album Lateralus and rearranged them, seemingly randomly, and called it “based on that Fibonacci Sequence.” They’re nuts, and this has escaped only the notice of other Tool fans.
Yet the truth is that I’ve no doubt Tool has influenced me in major ways. I listened to them more than any other band during my most formative adolescent years, and this was right when Lateralus was popular. There’s no substance to arguments that Tool can uplift one into a higher plane of existence (you may think I’m joking, but there are Tool fans who say this), but everything affects us at all times. It’s not a stretch to imagine someone who grew up listening to songs about the destructive nature of grudges would one day routinely advise people to let things go.
It would be false to give Tool credit for all of this, of course. Much of it is the result of self-reflection. People are often stunned to find out things about my past, like my murdered mother and pray the gay away camps, and (being trans aside, because plenty zoom in on that as some sort of sign of mental unhealth) the apparent lack of long-term effect any of this stuff had.
Firstly, I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t see much value in emotions. Those familiar with my Darkside Philosophy series will rightly note that I’m assessing this value (of little value) emotionally, but that’s beside the point and not what I mean.
I went through some things in August that I’m never going to elaborate. There were periods where my cats were all that kept me going. But I never sat and dwelled on these negative thoughts and powerful emotions. Instead, I repeatedly found myself in problem solving mode, which emotions directly inhibit. It wasn’t ever about “Oh, no–x, y, and z are major problems, so I need to cry” (fun fact: I haven’t cried in more than a decade). It was “I need to solve x. Then I can solve y and z.” And, without fail, I solved them. Becoming emotionally unstable would not have solved the problems.
This is why I genuinely don’t understand the trans people who have emotional tirades. Last night someone called me “dude” and “man” so many times to my face while discussing my tattoos that even a co-worker mentioned it to me afterward. I will admit that I noticed it, because he did it too frequently for it to have been accidental, but I noticed it quietly and moved on. I’ve never “corrected” anyone. People are going to call me what they call me, and I neither want nor expect control over that. I’d rather they be free and comfortable, and if I can’t become comfortable with the existence of other people, some of whom will disagree with me, then that’s my problem, not theirs.
I wonder how Tiffany the Gamestop Trans Chick would have handled it. Except I don’t have to speculate, really, because we saw how she handles the widespread use of these admittedly masculine nouns. They’re remnants of a mentality that defaulted to “he” in third person if the gender of the person wasn’t known, but I say “man” all the time, too–to the extent that one of Chris’s fans accused me of intentionally misgendering him.
I like emotional well-being.
There are lots of targets out there surrounding me, and many people like taking aim at them, assuming for various reasons that the metaphorical shot will somehow hit me. The most common is that I’m delusional and believe myself to be a woman. In fact, I’ve never said that I believe this. Quite the opposite, to be honest, and I’m rather upfront about how I consider myself to be a shemale, not a female.
Of course, this bothers people on the left. Only last week I had someone ask me on Twitter why I use the word that historically has been a pejorative for trans women. Well, I’m not entirely sold that it’s ever been a pejorative, first of all, at least not any more than “BBC” has been a pejorative against black men. The people who did shemale porn called themselves shemales, after all, but I’ve noticed the word has fallen out of use in porn.
Porn once titled “Shemale gets fucked by BBC” is now titled “Trans woman gets fucked by BBC”. I’m totally okay with this. It leaves the word “Shemale” there for me to use exclusively. On the initial run of the site, I’d begun to appear in people’s searches for porn, and was steadily reclaiming the word from the porn industry. It’s all the better that they’ve voluntarily just stopped using it.
Now it’s simply mine, a relic from a bygone era when people could be direct without the thought police calling them Nazis.
Speaking of Nazis, much needs to be said, but I can’t be bothered with most of it. I’d describe my relationship with Chris Cantwell as “professionally adversarial, personally cordial.” Think of professional wrestlers. Just because Kane is angry at The Rock doesn’t mean Dwayne Johnson and Glenn Jacobs are angry at each other. I’m tired of people suggesting that there is any hostility or animosity here. There isn’t.
And we would be disingenuous to avoid the fact that “Nazi” has become a pejorative for certain types of people, as equally as “tranny” and “fag.” It’s meant to dehumanize people to the extent where their humanity can be totally denied, and it’s been effective. I’ve seen countless people this week saying that anyone who is a Nazi deserves anything and everything that happens to them. This is a sentiment that I wholly and unambiguously condemn. If you’ve lost sight of a person’s humanity, then you’re no better than the literal Nazis, who used exactly that propaganda tactic to destroy sympathy people might have had for the Jews.
Sure, I experience emotions. I’m actually rather passionate. Much of it is expressed through my music, because music communicates directly with the parts of the brain that process emotion, while words have to be interpreted. Perhaps it’s because I have this mechanism for expressing emotions that I’m able to keep mine from creating continuous negative spirals. Perhaps it’s that I grew up listening to lyrics like “Give away the stone. Let the waters kiss and transmutate these leaden grudges into gold.”
Perhaps it’s that I’m from a world where problems needed to be solved from an early age, and crying didn’t solve them.
Whatever the reason, an emotion is an invitation for self-reflection. Identify the catalyst, and examine what is it in the self that produced the emotion as a reaction to the catalyst. The catalyst for an emotion is external; the emotion itself is, by definition, internal. No one can make you feel anything.