I'm bipolar. I blog about it. I also blog about sex, theology and atheology, funny shit and sad shit, books, music, feminism, and love. Mostly love.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Consequence and Magnificence

I'm having such a difficult time defining where I am emotionally right now. I've been starting on posts like this a lot lately, then reverting back to some social issue that pisses me off. There's been a lot of that lately, partially because I'm becoming more informed and I'm interested in the things I'm learning, but also because I'm defining myself. I'm in this watery state right now. I'm trying to shape myself; to stand up straight.

In that place it's kind of hard to define myself. I think I need to define my beliefs and values before I begin to define myself. Those are the things that define me, and without them I am shallow water.

This is my third week out of therapy. My counselor must be really sick. I suppose I could see someone in his absence, but I'm a picky client. I want someone good. And I want someone who I have a relationship with. I'm going to have to play catch up when he gets back anyway. And there's plenty of catching up to do. I was still dating Jacob (barely) when we last talked. Everything's changed since then. For better or for worse? Perhaps it was a neutral kind of change. I liked where I was at that time, but if it was a lie, then I don't want to be living there anyway, if that makes sense.

I'd say I'm generally happy where I am. I do stupid things still, and I regret a lot. But I'm better about finding perspective necessary to learn and move on. This attempt to define myself has helped to hold me responsible. I'm creating this person--or being true to this person--who expresses assertions to which I had not always adhered. But it's constantly on my mind now, and I'm fond of the person I'm discovering within myself. I want to be her. And I will.

So where am I emotionally? I think that those posts bitching about social issues are a pretty accurate picture. It's questions, it's (dis)beliefs, it's music... that's where I am. Those are all good things. I can't always be there. But that's the consequence and magnificence of sitting on the edge of the window sill.
Tbird's Window Sill

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Justin Bieber Overrated and Exploited

I have plenty of problems with popular music. It's fine for dance music, I think, but I cannot take it seriously. There are musicians who know how to read music and don't need complicated equipment to cover their inability to carry a tune. Those musicians can't get ahead because our music industry is shallow. It's unfair, and that's what bothers me.

So I'm not a Bieber fan. He's not as horrible as some say. But he's certainly not worth his popularity level either. I just watched a special on Justin and his mom on television (another reason this shit is terrible for us). He was serenading her (dripping with cheese), and he got so sharp he changed key. Jesus Christ. How do people like this get famous for their "talent?" *sex, cough cough* He's an attractive kid. Girls freak out (in utterly irrational and creepy ways) about him. They're selling his sex appeal, whether or not people realize they're buying into it.

So, on this show, they were focusing on the trials his mother had faced in her childhood. When I still watched TV (took it seriously, at least) I would have found it a very moving program. She was molested, she was an addict, she attempted suicide, she became pregnant with Justin when she was a teenager, yadda yadda. First issue: They turned it into an issue of pro-life/pro-choice. She was encouraged to abort Justin and chose not to, and now he's such a big deal. I think it's pretty clear that I'm pro-choice (just look at the rest of this blog). I was offended that they used her heartache as a conservative promo.

I'm sure this woman was encouraged to give all this up. At one point in my life, I would have said she was an advocate. She was telling young people that you can come out of addiction, and to get help after sexual abuse... but now I know better. Justin Bieber's mom isn't going to make our youth feel better about their own heartaches. Justin's music is becoming more serious as his PR people are trying to convince the public he isn't still 14 (even if he looks it), because songs like Baby are already getting old. His fans are growing up. And just as his music is attempting a more mature feel, they're trying to do the same with his personal life. They're going to do anything to push that new image, including exploiting his mother's past (or lying about it).

Justin didn't do such a good job on the program. His singing was only the beginning. He was clearly uncomfortable being present for his mother discussing her history of sexual abuse, and the thought of aborting the child that now sat next to her. When the subject of her suicide attempt arose, he said, "everyone makes mistakes." Is there not a more politically correct response? How about, "I'm so happy she's here now. She means the world to me." or "I know my mom had a lot going on, and I'm so inspired by her ability to turn her life around." Not... it was a mistake. I guess we all do that. What the hell, bro? Aren't you coached better than this? Or perhaps they shouldn't have subjected the poor kid to that horribly uncomfortable situation in the first place.

I don't read magazines for the same reason. I don't care what anyone says about someone famous. I don't know them personally, so I don't care if they broke up with their boyfriend, or if they're pregnant, or anything really. Not unless someone endorses something I believe in or has a performance that speaks to me will I be interested in that person as an individual. And I sure as hell won't use television or magazines to gather the information I'm seeking.

The exploitation of our big "stars," is disgusting. It's unfair to them. That environment cannot be healthy, which is why we end up with girls like Lindsay Lohan--she is a product of our sick fascination. I won't be surprised when Bieber comes out the same way. We've created this world in which we admire images of famous people who have been edited to look a specific way, and have resources to trainers and dietitians that most of us don't have. We want to be them... and then we make jokes of the people we once admired--the ones who have broken. And we take pleasure from it. Because when someone we're jealous of fails, it feels good. We celebrate their successes, just as we make comedy of their downfalls. Check yourself, people.

There is no such thing as improper grammar.

Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Grammar

Unless you meant Dr. Who
I used to be so judgmental of “poor grammar.” I’m pretty much over that, I think. Even “wrong” grammar is a grammar. It is correct because it makes sense and the message is delivered. As long as the receiver understands, then there is nothing wrong with the statement. That’s the difference between the opinion of an English major and a Linguistics major

Among different cultures, socioeconomic groups, and regions there are different ways to say the same thing. Keeping the definitions of language in mind, it’s clear that if that message which the sender wants to send is understandable to another person, then it is, indeed, a language. Grammar studies construction of language. If we can agree that the way someone--anyone--speaks, is language, then we must agree that grammar must study the structure, morphology and syntax of those languages that are not considered standard as well. With this in mind: there is no such thing as incorrect grammar—only grammar that does not align with the standard. (Feel free to follow links to language, grammar, and standard language. I know blogger links certain words to ads, but those are included by myself.)

a.       Language is a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition.
b.      Grammar is the study of the way the sentences of a language are constructed; morphology and syntax

But the message was delivered.
So, one may think that it’s okay to judge what is correct based on the standard—the standard is “correct” for that language. There are issues with that, too. Standard languages are set by those of power and significance in a society. In the United States, that means rich, white guys. As capitalist as we are as a nation, this gives those who already possess exorbitant power, control over one of the most important parts of our culture: communication. *This is just another way to maintain control. Unless you learn to speak and write the way that is most comfortable to that social class, race, and gender; you are at a disadvantage in education and in professional settings. Instead of allowing different kinds of people and language to enter that world (dominated by rich, white men), those in power feel the need to suppress the different voices, by deeming the language incorrect. This is just another way to keep minorities out of positions of power.

c.       A standard language  (also standard dialect, standardized dialect, or standardized dialect ) is a particular variety of a language that has been given either legal or quasi-legal status. As it is usually the form promoted in schools and the media, it is usually considered by speakers of the language to be more "correct" in some sense than other dialects.

If one group has the power to decide what is correct and incorrect in language, then those who can master the standard are considered more correct, more intelligent, and in essence: better. I used to believe, as most do, that people with “improper grammar” were less in some way or another. But is that really true? They can communicate just as effectively, can’t they? Just because they don’t communicate that way that is controlled by those in power, does not mean they are worse. As a liberal-minded person, I have to question the belief that anyone is better just because they are rich. I acknowledge that in order to be taken seriously in our society, you have to be fluent in what is considered standard English (although, legally we don’t have one). I encourage early education in Standard English, so that everyone has a fair shot. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t take someone seriously just because they speak differently than I do.

Where I’m from, race plays a huge role in the issue of Standard English. African Americans don’t **necessarily speak in Standard English. Stereotypes (some accurate) of blacks as speaking loudly, incorrectly, and with brashness keep them at a disadvantage, by making all of those things inappropriate to us—in this instance, white people. But looking at those stereotypes more closely, and using different language to describe them, a different attitude towards that style of speaking emerges. Perspective from descriptive rather than prescriptive grammar:

          Volume: Simply a cultural difference. Whites expect us to use “inside voices,” and to hide our feelings; while in black homes, clear expression of emotion is expected and valued. Another point worth mentioning: it’s so engrained into our culture that African Americans should speak less that it seems as though they are louder because prescriptively, they’re expected to be silent. (Damn the Man.) Even if that’s an antiquated idea, it’s still subconsciously present in our minds. I've noticed that although some do, many of my African American friends don't speak any louder than I do; but if you have that subconscious expectation that blacks keep quiet, any noise feels like too much. Women face the same hurtles. (Bless black women!)
           Incorrectness: I think I’ve already made it clear that I don’t believe in incorrect ways of speaking. Just because culturally African Americans speak differently doesn’t mean they’re incorrect. It is arrogant to expect someone to adjust themselves to fit our idea of what is okay. It is a conservative notion that I refuse to adhere to.
           Tone: I actually think this can refer back to volume. It is simply an alternate behavior than what is expected. And culturally, African Americans are more expressive.

Those dictating the standard don't always agree either.
My last point (maybe) is the grammatical “correctness” of our Standard English. What is considered right is often incorrect according to traditional grammar rules. (Example: How often do you end on a preposition? That’s what I thought.) So when value judgments are passed based on correctness of grammar, it seems pretty silly. Grammar only describes the rules of any language. My rules don’t always match what is said to be correct (or perhaps just old), because I end on prepositions all the time. So, why should I judge someone else for not following those rules? Grammar should reflect the way we speak, not dictate it.

*Other ways include dress. A well-dressed black man is said to be "dressed like a white guy." That's assuming that someone who is black dresses differently, and it's assuming that because you think it's appropriate, that it's correct. You know what they say about assuming...
**I believe in judging people on an individual basis, but for the purpose of this example, I wanted to use a scenario that most people could relate to.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Allegory of the Song

If a song had been playing in your head since the development of reasonable thought—taught thought—and it followed you everywhere, would you feel free when you heard it, or trapped? It seems like the same 5 or so different songs play in everyone’s heads, and even though the lyrics are written down, no one agrees on the words. You yourself had your own lyrics, because those that were written down did not speak to you. We are all so different. It seems odd that the same song would appeal to all of us; and it doesn’t! That explains all the adaptions and arrangements of the original texts.

Although the originals of these songs songs are similar in certain ways, the melodies are so, so different, that they cannot be played all at the same time—chaos. Those with exceptionally flexible (and disillusioned) personalities can play them all at once. But those who hold too closely to their own music, cannot do this. That is most people.
Most People

At different times in your life, the words were louder than others. There were times you found comfort in the words, and others that the words only confused you. You didn’t know how to turn it off (if you’d even know that to be an option), and the lyrics didn’t always fit in your alto line. You only picked the important ones. But then you met some people without the music. You didn’t even know that existed away from darkness and emptiness. But these people were writing their own lyrics, to their own tunes.

Sometimes they lined up with one another, and sometimes they didn’t, but it didn’t really matter. The point was, they were writing their own songs, and they were beautiful. They didn’t have to make beauty out of an original piece that wasn’t that good in the first place.
It didn’t take long for the song to disappear from your own mind. For a while there was blackness, but quickly you began to compose your own symphony of purpose and ethics.

The first song: Did you lose it? Or did you leave it behind?
Lost or Left