“You’re not my father”

The nice thing about email is that when your grown child says “you’re not my father”, you can sit back, hit up with a Nicorette and a Red Bull, take a deep breath, and not react in a maudlin-violent way like Willy Loman.

Edward G. Nilges, “Death Messages Spoil Cheering War News”, assemblage of original drawings, photographs and newspaper article, 2005.

The assemblage is cut off on the right in the single-post view because I suck at WordPress image management. To see the entire drawing-assemblage, click it or click above on “Spinoza’s Blog” to see the multi-post view.

Instead, calm reflection reveals that his Mother was a piece of virtue, you had sex with his Mom about nine months before he was born, you could see his little hand on his Mom’s belly exploring the limits of the womb, and when he was born, he not only looked like you he acted like you.

For example, the son in question was getting his rations at only three months, and while his Mom was burping him, she tried to elicit a burp, saying, “where dat burp?” Whereupon my number one earthly branch said, “erp”, naming the thing in a remarkably sophisticated fashion as a joke. Truly, the apple did not fall far from the tree, for when I was at uni, working in the college bookstore, I liked, in the general climate of the times, to synthesize loud burps as a sort of rude and political gesture in the general direction of the draft, the war, and, of course, reactionary Fascistic business administration majors.

But today I must confess a certain helplessness as regards Yi Number One Son who needs to take responsibility for his behavior. I cannot refer him to a theological ground for doing the right, and he has tried to do right. But males are discounted, it appears to me, in some sort of toxic smog, back in the USA, of post and pseudo feminism which in Weininger’s sense still defines itself against phallic ideals which ordinary males cannot meet.

His Mom treated me to a lecture when we were going together back in the 1970s to the effect that I should never, ever, say that a woman who dresses flash is asking for unwanted male attention, and I participated in the Hong Kong slutwalk to support this last December.

But women do dress flash to get wanted male attention, even as I bathe to get wanted female attention. But it’s a broadcast signal. So, maybe I might not want a fat girl’s attention. Likewise, women don’t want the attention of a man who doesn’t make as much money as they do. They have a Mister Right template in mind, same as I have a Ms Right template in mind.

We need a society in which women can dress as they choose because it’s safer for them, and if it’s safer for them, it’s safer for men and children. What we’ve got are women and men in their twenties and thirties who, unlike me in the 1980s, cannot get decent jobs and act out in an increasingly brutal struggle. One in Chicago of rules that are unstated because they are unstateable: essentially the rejection of the small p Phallus in favor, not of freedom, but of a big-P Lacanian phallus that represents a lost America in which Father knew best.

But I have to be careful about this. Recent developments show that I am having a long-distance effect because unlike many divorced fathers I stayed concerned. I just don’t know if it’s any good. My signal is going into a deep matriarchy created by the Peter Pan syndrome of a lot of guys in the 1980s, myself included. I took, for the most part, a financial responsibility, and not day to day physical responsibility.

A funny guy in one of my recovery groups said it best, “Ed, quit complaining. My kid erases my hard disk every month with some new download. His Mom makes me raise him. Whereas you don’t have a teenager drinking your Red Bull, sitting in your chair, and erasing your hard drive.”

Basically, all I can conclude is that while I support Lysistrata, I do not support Elektra. There is, as Olaf the draft dodger said in ee cummings poem “i sing of olaf glad and big”, there is some shit I will not eat. Too many feminist Moms disempower their sons by sending conflicting messages.

I’ve tried, god knows I’ve tried, like Robert Crumb’s whiteman. Sure wish I’d had my wish in 1981. I wanted to drag the whole lot to Paris. But I was never taken seriously because I did not take myself seriously. I was the “mascot” of the classic dysfunctional family, self-destructive so as not to disrupt things, retreating to the Evanston library when things got too tough. I may have failed, big time, as a father as a result.

All I can do at this point is send out carefully written messages from the distant planet on which I live.

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8 Responses to ““You’re not my father””

  1. Really, if you post stuff about your family like this in a public blog, no wonder they have cut off communication. Keep it private if you ever want to see them again.

    If you feel compelled to continue, expect no one to feel sorry for you, while your family will hate you even more.

  2. spinoza1111 Says:

    I’m not expecting anyone to feel sorry for me. Instead, I posted only the facts that affected me directly as a way of dealing with those facts and to send a loving message that I’m not ashamed of.

    I’ve divulged no details apart from what was said to me and the facts, nor do I plan to.

    Part of the problem in dysfunctional families in the USA is being ashamed, perhaps especially of positive things.

    Furthermore, I regard it as far more ill-bred and typical of the reversal of values that you, who probably are a perfect stranger, should feel that you can put the boot in in this way. Your comment reads like a kidnapper’s threat (“if you ever want to see your family again).

  3. I’m sure your family has tried to explain how you come across, but clearly it’s impossible for you to understand how insulting and hurtful you are being.

    • spinoza1111 Says:

      Gee, where do you get your information? Are you with the FBI?

      No, they haven’t done so…it is their choice to mostly embargo contact based on my earlier texts which have been, I would be the first to admit, prolix and difficult of necessity. I am not going to share any less abstract details with the likes of you since in fact I know how to protect their privacy.

      You imagine that for an ordinary person to admit family pain somehow violates the family’s rights to privacy. This is a vector of oppression because part of oppression is the pretense that all is well in this the best of all possible worlds.

      Since you are undoubtedly socialized by mass media, the only categories in which you can think are constructed by horror and detective films which normalize the group, the crowd of peasants with pitchforks and torches, as against the individual in the family system…as deconstructed by Alice Miller in “The Drama of the Gifted Child”.

      To fall to a more demotic register, pal, give me a fucking break. You pretend respect for their privacy as if the abstract mention of a situation that’s quite common (the aging divorced Dad) but isn’t it violating THEIR privacy to say that they are excluding me because I’m weird? Maybe they aren’t.

      I am dealing with a North Korea situation. If you are disguised and part of this situation, you’re a creep of the first water. If not, you’re just kinda creepy, stickin’ your nose into people’s business without any intention of helping.

      This blog is all about me. Indeed, you might want to change your tune and claim that I’m a self-centered son of a bitch. But when a person says wounding things, the ordinary reaction of saying them back here would just lead to an email flame war, or silence.

      Google “spinoza1111 A Note on the Mercy of the Night”. It lays out the problem I’m having without, any more than necessary, writing other people’s stories.

      I am more than ready here to dialog with my own family members openly in front of God and everybody because after leaving my family I learned the value of sharing and written inventory taking. I have always been open to their needs in ways I will not discuss. But there is some shit I will not eat.

      There is a law in middle class America that older men should shut up and watch their bodies turn to stone as heavy as the Moon. I violate that law. So, sue me.

  4. spinoza1111 Says:

    How I come across? You know, phrasal verbs that absorb the preposition into the verb are a sort of American syntax that can damage meaning. “To come across” is how the American corporate type makes an admittedly needed distinction between traditional ways of self-presentation, and what we now must universally do on the job.

    Heck, I teach presentation and interviewing but I also know when it’s inappropriate to force people in personal relations to “come across”.

    Thanks to mass media, fathers can no longer be themselves as my own father was himself, a man who had a great deal of anger and love in him. When angry, he told me, after I’d been his caregiver in his illness, that his car meant more to him than I did yet when he died I celebrated his life…perhaps because I live in China where we try harder to honor the father.

    My own generation was, I think inappropriately, labeled by one woman as a Peter Pan generation because in fact, our dreams of liberation met the need to provide for a family which was harder for us than it was for Don Draper.

    But in my case, as a software engineer and a father, I “come across” wrongly. In software I presented problems as irreducibly complex but amenable to a form of mathematics, but at CEO level this is beyond the CEO’s capacity to understand.

    In personal relations I am prolix. My Mom once complained to me that my Dad was always coming out of left field because he read too much, but she herself was under his spell and forced herself to read Schopenhauer. Always funny, always gracious, Mom said Schopenhauer helped her to sleep.

    But in my own case (while continuing to respect at the cost of prolixity my own family’s rights to privacy and interpretation) there was a different spirit, one of pseudo-Authenticity spread by women’s magazines and therapists in the 1970s in which I talked like a fag, leading more than one manager and a grand total of one ex-wife to conclude that my shit was fucked up. Heidegger as mediated through Pop culture creates Idiocracy.

    But at what may be the end of the day, I can say like Hamlet the Dane that “I loved Ophelia” and I love my kids. If it has to come out like a PhD dissertation written by someone on drugs, so be it.

    My kid accuses me of writing a script for our family based on Hamlet. One of the most irritating features of life for me in the USA was the partition between “real life” and “Shakespeare” which was watched by people in my social set respectfully but thought beyond the pale as applied to daily life.

    The social fear is of being the big tragic figure. Young girls who try it in family systems with genuine tragic potential are diagnosed in most cases with “anorexia” and gently force fed. Old guys have it even worse since the militarization of American life means we have to suck it up and follow the next man’s pack up Mt Folgorito.

    But I’m not going to throw away what’s left of my life in silence.

  5. “I am more than ready here to dialog with my own family members openly in front of God and everybody”

    No, you’re just talking to yourself.

    Eventually everyone in your life realizes that you don’t want to hear, only to speak.

    You deflect any advice or feedback short of adulation as attacks on you.

    It really is futile trying to communicate with you, so I’ll join your family in switching you off.

    Bye.

    • spinoza1111 Says:

      Good riddance.

      “Feedback”? No, I don’t want any feedback from a microphone in a karaoke bar such as Trader Todd’s Adventure Bar on Sheffield near Wrigley Field (plugola!).

      The choice of words is important. “Feedback” is what corporations want, a mechanical loop of animal noises. But God forbid that there be genuine dialog between the collective interests of employees and management in a union.

      This corporate use of language now plays a role in everyday life. Relationships become administered, first by family members and then, in some cases, by the State.

      My texts do not exclude response. The only way they give offense is by being grammatical, and above a low upper bound of complexity. But I have learned emotional control, in ways that have been very painful. Therefore there only seems to be an irreducible amount of Ralph Fiennes as Amon Rath in Schindler’s list.

      In the key scene of that film I could see myself asking for Recognition which is why I have absented myself from the physical setting of my marriage. No, I was not as abusive as Amon Rath. I am old enough, however, to know that the Nazis conducted themselves as males in a way that only carried to an extreme the accepted controlling behavior of males in that time.

      So….I don’t accept anything you’ve said and I hope very much not to hear from you again.

      A guy who’s read Death of a Salesman and enacted Sheldon Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross is going to try hard to negate Willy Loman but sound just as twisted to the common mind, I guess.

      • spinoza1111 Says:

        We white guys basically suck
        We’re down on our luck
        They’ve repo’d our truck
        We basically suck.

        But we love our kids
        And their cute little ids

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