0401. on differing opinions, the Superficial Socialist podcast, & feminism

Regardless of your political inclinations, everyone should download and listen to The Superficial Socialist podcast, in which two millenials relay in universal and understandable terms the modern movements of the political left, discussing culture, politics and the media in society. The episodes are generally short and snappy, and if you’re feeling particularly uncharitable you can play at 2.2x speed on your chosen podcast app, for a listening time of less than ten minutes. (2.2x is the fastest speed that I find I can still safely consume most — but certainly not all — podcasts). As you can guess, they speak from the point of view of the left, and sound with low tones and knowing condescension like two middle-class white champagne socialists, but that need not affect the points they make, and in fact lends a much-needed perspective.

As noted by the mainstream media recently, there are consumer-friendly algorithms on social media to the point where if you click like on some articles and not on others, in no time at all you are only being shown the perspective that you agree with. Juana Summers, a political editor for CNN politics, said that social media is in effect an enormous marketplace for ideas, where every idea will come up against every other one, and the truth will be found for the betterment of society. But this has not been happening. For all the fuss about censorship on Twitter, my recommended feed is now almost entirely one-sidedly right-wing. Make a habit of buying the opposite newspaper one day, or subscribing to a dissident mailing list. I do not mean to infer the argument that the left is wrong; the right is wrong; the truth is somewhere in-between, but, for example, if you consider yourself right wing, you must understand and explore that which you disagree with, otherwise you’re just as bad as a group of 65 year-olds reading exclusively Marxist economics and barking about the Virgin Fields.

Anyway, the new episode is an exploration of pop culture and feminism, with the question Can a pop star ever truly be a feminist? I had to take it down to 1.2x speed for this one. About halfway through, Marxine seemed to define a feminist as a woman being a woman, which I think holds some credence. A woman who, though society may have moulded her in some way in the same way that society moulds any man, does what she wills in the purest way. A female, feminist artist, for example, is not necessarily her who takes up the banner and cause of feminism in its crudest definitions, but simply she who rises above such influence and drama to create the art that she wants to. This necessarily involves a stark realism, and is not a value judgement at all. This does not define feminism as a good social movement, but instead implies that a feminist — or egalitarian — society is one in which a woman can will. If a female, feminist artist created, in all honesty, a terrible piece of work, judgement could only be upon her, and it would still be an expression of a woman’s right to create. This is in contrast to the commonplace phenomenon of viewing a certain movement as progress — and therefore good — then being forced to justify its worst outcomes [the second part of that article], because of the umbrella term.

The conversation then drifts to familiar territory; misdirected fawning, negative energy and disdain for modern consumerism, the latter of which is of course an important topic, if a bit tired.

0508. on illfitting clothes

Most of my clothes now don’t fit. When I bought them they were slightly too small, but I could—with some struggling—get them on. I bought them one size too small because I thought they would get the ball rolling on my losing weight. (As an aside, this works especially well with expensive (for me), very good-looking clothes. I bought an £89 pair of woollen trousers from COS, & for weeks afterwards I stuck to a caloric deficit effortlessly in the attempt to look good in them.)

And then I lost more weight. And then I lost some more. In fact, it is extremely surprising to me just how much fat the body can fit in places where your silhouette / look doesn’t change much, but your waist size can change so radically again and again. Six months into going to the gym and intermittent fasting, I thought “only a couple more months and I will lose that last bit”. I have thought that a few times since, and keep getting proven wrong. In fact, I now think it again, even though I will probably be proven an idiot in a couple of months as my body finds another reserve of fat to draw upon. Perhaps I have another secret set of love-handles!

I have now poked two new belt eyes into my belt, and I still have a good amount of excess fat about my waist. All my trousers, in fact, are now suffering unfairly under a belt, material crumpled together and any semblance of shape and style gone.

This is a very happy kind of inconvenience.