ki-biscus LaCroix, coming in to let me down a little easier as we head from summer back into hell
ki-biscus LaCroix, coming in to let me down a little easier as we head from summer back into hell
This article about young women who choose to become nuns is a whole lot, my pals. It notes that these women are specifically looking not for, like, a fun cool liberal order tied to the secular modern world but the really dogmatically strict, conservative hardline ones that demand the most obedience and sacrifice.
And before the author gets to some thoughts on why, I’m like oh yeah, no, I see why this would be appealing–it’s an escape from how precarious, terrifying, and lonely life in a hypercapitalist world that values individualism and is heading for increasingly certain environmental destruction is. It provides a sense of actual fulfillment, of finding meaning to your life, that we’re told to find from going to work and serving our bosses, or as conscientious consumers on the market.
“Nothing is ever enough,” Dubay writes of how it feels to live in the modern world. You are expected to give yourselves entirely, 24/7, without wavering, to careers, to hobbies, to lovers, to children. Ideally, you are supposed to spend zero time not loving your job in a dying industry or your husband who fails to absorb the concept of emotional labor. But this is impossible.
And yet, Dubay explains, there is one being who reliably rewards our efforts: Christ. The woman who loves Him, the religious sister, has a calling worthy of her complete devotion and that honors her sacrifices “many times over,” as the Book of Luke says. She has found her “passion.” She has “rest,” “fulfillment,” “enthrallment,” “completion”—precisely the things that I, exhausted, have often wanted.”
And of course it’s not enough to just exist as a religiously-observant person in the modern, secular world; that doesn’t address the root of the problem. And presenting religious life as having this very cool ‘n’ hip vibe is a) something the youth are pretty solidly able to identify as insulting pandering, as a hollow sales pitch from growing up hyperaware of being constantly advertised to, and b) hits at neither the nihilist absurdism nor the straightforward sincerity that is more in line with what they’re more receptive to. Like, whom among us with our cynical irony-poisoned brains cares that priests are also gamers in these dark and trying times?
This part covers the appeal of going back to Simpler Times when Catholicism was comfortably terrifying better than I’m explaining here; it describes a teacher’s reaction to seeing a strict, traditional priest speak to his class about the religious life–
The more Olon thought about his students’ enthusiastic response to the hardcore priest, the more it made sense to him. Millennials and Generation Z kids report much higher levels of social anxiety, pessimism and depression than previous generations. He’d seen it firsthand in his own classroom. “When I ask kids what they want to do in their lives, they’ll say, ‘I guess I’ll get a job,’” Olon told me. They would explain that they had already done everything. They had destroyed worlds, fallen in love, built communities, made art. Then he’d realize that they meant they’d done this all online.
In real life, they were much more fearful. Everything they said—every youthful, experimental pose they struck—became a part of their permanent record on social media. The stakes seemed so high for even tiny choices. Sometimes, after class, they would ask him mournful questions like, “What have I ever really done that has any depth?” They reminded him of people having midlife crises. Yet Olon noticed that the more cornered they seemed, the more pressured they felt to do something truly wholehearted and unique. To be like Steve Jobs and take a huge risk that changed the whole world. Hemmed in on all sides, they also yearned for a tabula rasa, to tear everything down and start over from scratch.”
Anyway I have absolutely thought about becoming a nun because I hated the thought of doing any career, had absolutely no direction in life I felt would be worthwhile to pursue, and realized that all I wanted was to fill my time with hobbies and occasional socializing just to fill this meaningless void with pleasurable distractions that ultimately didn’t matter. Oh and that I needed some kind of assurance that I won’t die alone and neglected because I’m not capable of forming the emotional and physical connections that other people look for in a relationship so uh better see what other options are out there. And I still feel like that, on all accounts! It sucks! And basically everything in this article about how strict obedience in the name of a higher power, in a community of similarly-minded people who become your family, hits home incredibly hard. I’ve even already been raised to believe the inflexibly conservative strain of Catholicism, like really it’s all right there.
…but also actually being… some amount of religious is what guarantees I would never actually go through with this? Because I do think that it has to be a calling, not a self-interested escape, and it’s deeply offensive to use religious life as an out because I’m too lazy to get a job and too socially incompetent to interact with people. Like, the article does touch on what some of these women thought about why or if they felt some calling from God to become nuns and, understandably, it’s an incredibly nebulous point–what is a calling from God? How do you know you’re having one? But like, if you’re bullshitting it, you know.
(Also ahaha I uh am also not on board with a lot of the conservative religious doctrine that, while it doesn’t affect me, is still something I’m not able to make myself sign on to in exchange for a workaround for capitalism.)
I guess what I am saying is that uh if you have heard God’s calling to join the religious life, go do that, I support it, I do not support the twee Catholic Twitter nonsense of “to all my lovely followers, remember that abortion is a sin uwu~ ” but if you hear the calling of “I hate my job and need to talk to people” idk pal, do some political or charitable work and get some therapy, maybe you’ll still go to hell but in the meantime we all have to live in this hyperbolic hell we call earth together ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I read Plutopia, about semi-secret towns built around nuclear plants during the Cold War nuclear arms race era, a while back and I still think about how it describes the people living in the town as being these very staunch anti-communist, patriotic Americans who, you know, are 1950s middle-class suburbanites working effectively for the government so they’re very much against government handouts or interference, because that’s what the Soviets do, but their entire existence is literally at the whim of the government choosing to have this nuclear program, the government owned their houses that they had to rent (and, actually, they were super against a proposal to buy their houses from the government, because they knew that once the nuclear program was shut down, they were screwed, so they preferred this arrangement to ~real American homeownership), their local government was basically controlled by reps from the private companies the government contracted with for making nuclear weapons, their local newspaper was also created by company reps, etc. Like. We truly do contain multitudes.
And this reminds me of a comment I heard about how the modern suburbs are a space very much shaped by government involvement in people’s lives, very much deliberately created by government intervention, but are full of people who ascribe to a hands-off “freedom-from” view of freedom, where the government doesn’t interfere in your life. I truly don’t know what my take-away from this is, like, sure, people are hypocrites sometimes, wild takes here, but it sure is a type.
This is from an article about mental health apps and how mental illness is kept individualized, masking the societal factors that contribute to depression and stress with twee marketing and self-improvement solutions and I’m just gonna post a bunch of quotes because this truly captures the basis of if not every, then the vast majority of every instance of failing mental health I have ever experienced.
And it hits at why I get really frustrated when I engage in that casual and frequent acceptance that I just can’t do some basic thing because I’m so mentally wrecked from work–I can’t have any part of my life that my job, and a capitalist society more broadly, haven’t claimed from me–and it’s entirely beyond my control because my problem really is entirely caused by external, social factors that aren’t changing any time soon. There’s really nothing I can do–changing jobs in no way solves this problem–except start believing that it’s something wrong with me, and I should get over myself and go see a therapist like everyone else (or, you know, use one of these apps, as I am very much about to not have health insurance lol.) And this way of thinking about stress, burnout, depression, what have you, is just not the accepted framing, and I sound absolutely insufferable over here like “um excuse me, I’m not the one who is sick, oh ho ho, it is society who is sick, my comrade.”
Anyway, here’s someone talking about this far better than I:
We frequently speak of mental illness as “stigmatized,” but at least in young, urban, middle-class segments of American society, this no longer seems to be the case. Existential dread is now one among many inconveniences that you might as well digitally outsource, but the fact that we can now find an app for curing depression is just one symptom of a larger shift in the discourse around mental illness. The same consumerist culture that once shunned mention of depression now also seeks to cannibalize its language for use in advertising and media.
A ubiquitous truism about marketing holds that advertisements sell us a better and more beautiful version of ourselves—if you smoke Virginia Slims, you will be skinny; if you take Cialis, you will be able to play catch with your son—but increasingly advertising seems to appeal to a vision of well-off millennials as lazy, depressed homebodies, prone to ordering food online every night and binging Netflix for eight hours at a time. You order delivery from the restaurant across the street not because you’re awesome or want to be awesome, but precisely because you’re not, these ads tell us, and that’s just fine. If the end goal of Instagram and Candy Crush was always to numb us into contentment, isn’t it easier just to come out and say we will take away your pain?
[A]s one meme has it, “we live in a society”: one that requires many of us to work inhumane hours without fair compensation or medical care; one that in the sparse gaps between those working hours bombards us with junk food, mass culture, demonstrably addictive social media, and the vague promise of incremental political reform; and one that, meanwhile, listens to our phone conversations, tracks our most minute movements, and recommends us purchase after purchase based on what we Google while on a bathroom breaks.
The formalism of clinical psychology, [clinical psychologist and philosopher David Smail] writes, leads too many people to view their well-being as a matter of medical diagnosis rather than as the result of externally imposed conditions—chief among them “the machinery of global capitalism,” which “has enormous effects on vast numbers of people in the world who are themselves in no position to see into its operation.”
[T]he navel-gazing recommended by apps like these has the potential to entice us away from larger questions about the structural forces that generate a great deal of our suffering. Similarly misleading is our recent societal tendency to see depression as a kind of cultural common denominator, the most “relatable” of all memes.I Feel Better Now, by Jake Bittle for The Baffler, July 11, 2019
I’m giving my 3-weeks (an extra week because I’m polite and also want to announce to the world I am quitting and cannot contain myself any longer) notice tomorrow and am tackling that anxiety with some good old-fashioned woojoo here we go. A 5-card spread for making tough choices:
– I need to shuffle better, damn.
– This confirmed what I suspected and feared, without offering me any insight.
– Other than the fact that I know I’m gonna quit anyway, so I guess the real witchcraft was the impulsive, ill-advised decisionmaking we made along the way?
– Anyway, see you at your place once I’m destitute and desperate. Spare a few stale breadcrusts and slightly spoiled fruit my way if you can, because I’m quitting my job tomorrow!
*Descriptions taken from the Marigold Tarot guide, as that is the deck I’m using.
I dip in and out of believing in this way too much for my moderately religious liking but it’s that time again! I bought some incense and am all set to add that extra -k on the end of “magic.”
Just checking out the ol’ Cafe Astrology natal chart and here’s the top 5 “sorry mom, sorry God, this is clearly objectively real” zingers:
And to for balance, top 5 “this is clearly a perversion of both faith and science, wow the planets really got that one wrong” bits:
• LaCroix: very good
• Coffee: quite pleasant
• Soda: delightful
• LaCroix with notes of Sumatran coffee and exotic soda: as a species we are blessed with curious minds and wild dreams, and have harnessed the forces of nature in order to manifest those dreams into the world
…it’s fine, it tastes like the watered-down coffee I always end up making when I try to prove to myself that one of those pour-over dripper cups and a manual bean grinder were good investments I am capable of using, but also carbonated, but also with a faint whisper of soda for an added feel of whimsy.
It’s got a bitter aftertaste because it’s a mature, adult sparkling beverage and abysmal can design because it’s an incoherent mess of a drink. I’ll finish the box and then unquestionably buy the other new novelty flavors because I choose to go through life embracing the call to adventure and facing the unknown with an open mind and generous wallet.