Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Diary

I was away for a few days visiting the friends in Missouri whom I mentioned herehere and here. Since, as indicated in those posts, my expectations were low, the trip served other purposes, such as getting out a little and taking my car on a road trip. I drove about 1100 miles each way and a total of about 2400 miles in five days, including two days in Missouri.

My friends are getting old. Greg gave up drinking but has arthritis and moves slowly. He no longer has a patriarchal demeanor, often defers to others and seems less sharp than he used to be. Dave has prostate cancer, which was caught early, and doesn't like the side effects of his medicine. Since retiring to Wisconsin, he has become quite fat. We always agree on politics and discussed our incredulity regarding the Trump phenomenon.

A new topic came up, in that Dave's elder daughter, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin and had been a lesbian for a few years, decided to become a transsexual male. Anne's daughter, who attended Berkeley, also became a transsexual male a few years ago, and the topic interests me. Dave is flabbergasted by the special language and subculture of the LGBT community. I liked having an opportunity to discuss this, since both Anne and her trans son are unwilling to discuss it at all. Although I haven't reached a definite conclusion, I don't think that gender is as flexible as the LGBT community thinks it is, because male brains differ from female brains prior to birth. It is true that some gender characteristics from both sexes appear in most individuals, but I don't think that choosing a gender that doesn't match your body makes much sense in most cases. For example, Anne's transgender son started out as a heterosexual female. While in college she had a boyfriend, but they broke up because she didn't want to have sex with him. Later, after surgery, he had a gay boyfriend for a few years, and then they broke up. How would a gay male be sexually attracted to a person who has a vagina and a female personality? I think that the power of sexual attraction is far greater than the illusion of a gender identity, and that when a gender choice overrides sexual attraction, you may enter an alternate reality. Having a body that doesn't match your sexual instincts dooms you to an unsatisfactory sex life. It is possible that unknown biological processes are at work, which, like homosexuality, decrease population growth, but such processes may be beyond our current scientific reach. Or this could be a variation of homosexuality, in E.O. Wilson's understanding of it, as a eusocial process in which a sterile segment of the population makes contributions which benefit the group as a whole. While it is possible that future studies of heterosexual, homosexual and transsexual brains will find specific identifiers, my inclination is to attribute most of the trans movement to cultural influences. It is possible, for example, that social awkwardness, digital communication and the breakdown of traditional social structures have created new avenues for the growth of delusional ideas.

The most noticeable difference in Missouri this time was the political polarization. Greg's brother-in-law, a conservative Republican, defended Donald Trump. Greg's son-in-law, also a conservative Republican, has accumulated a large arsenal of weapons, some of which he demonstrated on a shooting range which was set up for that purpose. He is also a mining engineer with training in explosives. He said that he wanted to show that he was prepared to defend his state from Eastern liberals. It is impossible to convince these people of anything, because they're completely brainwashed.

So, the main theme of the trip, which I'm still thinking about, concerns the reach of ideology. On college campuses, ideology manifests itself in political correctness, and in conservative states it shows up in Trumpian rhetoric and other Republican propaganda. Although, no doubt, I myself am subject to some ideological influences, it is disconcerting to witness the degree of ignorance that passes for knowledge in this country.

Regarding male friends, I've just about given up on having significant ones for the remainder of my life. I may return to Grubville, Missouri in the future, but I'm not in any hurry. My social life in Vermont is circumscribed by Anne's social life, which includes older people whose backgrounds are quite different from mine: we don't relate to each other well. Although I don't think of myself as an intellectual, apparently I'm too thoughtful for most people. As Czeslaw Milosz said, Americans are remarkably unthinking and tend to conform to the standards of their familiar environments.

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