the following is a paper I wrote in response to 3 articles linked below:
What I got from these articles is that our society much like the baboons are being restructured to be more feminine and less embracing of masculine traits. It seems that with Carl P.’s transition and with Michelle Carter, they both have issues with masculinity that both stem from their fathers who are hyper masculine characters. One is a Olympic and NFL star, and the other was in the military. It seems that when outside forces whether it be tuberculosis for the baboons or a peaceful era for Carl or Michelle, that when masculinity dies, other parts of culture die with it.
For the baboons that were less aggressive, they still had the same sexual tendencies, which highlights an interesting conflict that the baboons more likely to attack or defend, had the same tendencies to reproduce as the less aggressive baboons. This instigates an interesting conversation stemming from what is allowed to reproduce in today’s society. We are no longer being forced to survive against mother nature so brutally anymore. With the use of our tools we have created barriers from nature to ourselves that allows men that are not going into these dangerous situations to survive and reproduce at the expense of the more aggressive ones’ sacrifice. The research on the baboon falsely characterizes their communication, technology, and food acquisition as culture. These are mere survival contingencies that hold value only on to passing on genes, rather than tradition. Humans have culture because we have language and values that transcend the material world. Baboons hardly think higher than the tallest tree they can climb. I have to come to argue that our society is being crushed down into a baboon like “culture” that romanticizes its tools and communication and food acquisition and substitutes these ventures as if they are “culture”. Humans can pass down oral and rituals for 25,000+ years such as the native American people. Baboons cannot do this. I think that if we try to facilitate our maslovian need for transcendence with material fixtures, we will ourselves be fixated on what our hands and mouths can give us rather than what our community should value. This is the mark up of narcissism in our society and lack of family structure.
In the modern era, we see cases like Michelle Carter and Carl P. where their ideas of social order and hierarchy blinds them from seeing what the purposes of masculinity and femininity are actually used for from a biologically deterministic sense. We tend to search for a purpose and identity on our place on earth. To paraphrase the late Buckminster Fuller in his book Manual for Spaceship Earth, people work not to earn a living, but to justify their living. We see things like the opioid crisis stem from a economy in fragments and ruin that leaves men who seek masculinity as a form of purpose and identity with nothing. They instead then fill their transcendent needs with pills that allow them to drift away and neglect their purpose and desire to justify their life. In biblical terms this is described as acedia which means essentially, “not caring about not caring”. Peter Bruegel the elder depicts Acedia in the link below (couldn’t upload the photo correctly)
In Douglas Murray’s “The Madness of Crowds”, Murray states it seems that many people in today’s society are experiencing a saint George in retirement issue as he calls it where many people are looking for a dragon to fight and are willing to swing their sword at nothing in the attempt to feel like they are fighting a big dragon. For Carl specifically, it seems that much of his struggles in life don’t stem from this metacognitive struggle with masculinity, but rather a familial issue and childhood trauma.
I think part of this issue stems from the generational divide that separates Carl and Michelle from their parents. Their parents have played a major role in the decisions highlighted in their corresponding articles. It seems clear if you have experienced a difficult childhood you can easily get lost trying to find who you are and what you are here on earth to do. For Carl he contradicts himself in the last half of the article stating that he loves men, but then has a “fiery rage toward men” for treating him like a woman which he biologically was born as. For me I can understand this line of thinking in a certain sense as I grew up without a father and had to construct a take on masculinity that I could adopt and integrate into my life in an attempt to better myself and those around me. Part of this masculinity is being charitable and stoic. While many would like to think that men and women are not different, this course has simply confirmed the reality that one of the main hormonal differences, which is testosterone, plays a huge role in male behavior versus female behavior. And even among males, testosterone levels can play a huge role such as with the rooster experiment with removing gonads and placing them back in the abdomen and reporting the changes in the rooster’s phenomenology.
Stitching these previous two paragraphs together, it seems to me that masculinity is derived from a good role model and a guide to bring those through the hell’s of life. Take the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri where he systematically and more specifically poetically dictates the divine role of masculinity (and also femininity). Dante must be guided through the depths of hell by Virgil who represents human reason, saint Bernard who represents mysticism and devotion to Mary, and Beatrice who represents divine revelation and grace. Many in today’s society have none of these such guides in their life and if they get stuck in the hyper aggressive nature of the Inferno of hell, they begin to hate the idea of masculinity. It’s not until Dante reaches Purgatorio or Paradiso does he realize the beautiful nature of life and the beautiful nature of femininity. Many think that only masculinity is required in our society without realizing that many things in this world are an equilibrium, a balance. This goes the same for masculinity and femininity, yin and yang. While Carl and Michelle are fixated on what it means to be masculine, all the benefits of masculinity shoot right over their head like a complicated joke. They instead are trying to play both sides of divinity within themselves without realizing they need to trust others to do their part. Another important point by the Poet Dante, is that the highest sin in the inferno is betrayal and that to be betrayed like Carl has been by his father is to be perpetually lost in a metaphysical and psychological hell that he can seemingly only feel he has conquered by becoming what he hates most to conquer it.
The sad thing about situations like this is that while we are being killed off by tuberculosis right now like the baboons, we are facing a masculinity crisis because we don’t have any guides to finding purpose or identity in this world, and we have lost purpose in faith. Many of what we have to come to find out about ourselves is deep investigative work into the research done by psychologists. It seems psychology has replaced philosophy for many in our modern time. We want to believe that we think therefore we are, but don’t think we deserve to be, because we do not understand why we think. These articles were interesting to tie together, but I think it’s interesting to think of culture as a reproduction of tradition and transcendence and our reluctance to respect what our elders have built will be the tuberculosis to us as it was for the baboons in Forest troop.