What is a secret? It's something you ought not to reveal as a matter of protocol. Nobody wants to hear- unless they are paid to do so- about how you were fucked in the ass by your priest even though you were his Bishop. Similarly, we don't want to hear about how your brain is wired differently. It is obvious that you, like me, have X ray vision and can see that most dudes in authority wear lacy French underwear under their three piece suits, but let's just keep that under our hat, shall we?
Agnes Callard, writing for the NYT, takes a different view-
I am not a private person — quite the opposite — but I do have two secrets. The first concerns some Bad Events that happened to me long ago (yes, it’s the sort of thing you are thinking of), and the second is an unrelated Fact about my neurological makeup.
Everybody has secrets of this sort. Some people may want to hear them but they aren't really your friends. They will laugh about you later on. In any case, it is extremely inconsiderate to mention the time you shat yourself in Swahili class just when everybody is digging into aloo gobi at the dinner table. It is also wrong to dwell on the fact that you are totes autistic like that dude in Rainman and so could everybody please chip in a couple of bucks so you can play online roulette.
Speaking generally, secrets aren't facts but rather a relationship between facts which may not itself be factual even if it is 'common knowledge'. Revealing it is to break a protocol- nothing more and nothing less.
Let me be clear: I am not ashamed of either of these things. Keeping them secret creates, in me, an uncomfortable feeling, as though I were hiding something, as though I were ashamed, and that bugs me all the time, like a scratchy tag in my clothing.
But you don't get naked even if your clothes feel scratchy- do you? That would be to break a highly utile protocol. Nobody wants to see your dangly bits. Put them away.
But I can’t tell you what The Fact is, because you won’t believe me;
We can't believe this statement of Agnes. Why? She is telling us something we don't believe- because to do so entails having to believe every false or wholly nonsensical statement. The 'truth-maker' for her statement is that there exists at least one speech-act of hers which is conditional on an alterity's credence. If Agnes has a 'neurological quirk' such that she can know in advance whether she will be believed then this is plausible. But, if such 'neurological quirks' exist, then we can't possibly have evolved on an uncertain fitness landscape. So, if you can believe that then you can believe any other shite you are told.
and I can't tell you about The Events, because you will.
By this stage, we are taking bets on whether Agnes shat herself on a regular basis in her Tensor Calculus class or, more sadly, was diddled by her Uncles. The real reason Agnes can't tell us 'about The Events' is because we will believe much much more about their gross and sordid nature than she is capable of articulating. I mean, how could li'l Agnes not have shat into her hands and flung feces at the School Marm every time she apostrophized Emmy Noether shouting 'eat Aryan shit, you dirty kike' even though, ironically, Agnes herself is Jewish? I mean, what happened to Agnes in her Tensor Calculus Lecture was pretty much the same thing as happens to peeps wot shit themselves during Mrs. Mwanga's Swahili class- right? I mean, this is like the classic Karl Abrahamian entelechy of the Jungian archetype of the self-hating Guj-Jew, right?
The reason it is not a good idea to tell all and sundry about various Uncles wot diddled you is that they are all convinced you were literarily swimming in the entire neighborhood's semen and loving every minute of it.
I have barely told you anything about The Events, but I suspect that you have already started believing.
That you shat yourself in the Tensor Calculus equivalent of Swahili Class? Sure. It could happen to anybody.
You want to be someone who believes women;
Fuck off! Nobody wants to be gullible w.r.t anything other than faked orgasms and assurances that nobody thinks any the less of you just coz you shat yourself in Swahili class coz, truth be told, you were sitting next to a Gujju. It was the Gujju what shat himself- not you- at least, that's what everybody thinks, so you needn't hide at home but can go back to School and reclaim your job as Head of Modern Languages.
The truth is, we always did and do believe women and kids when they speak up on certain matters- unless it is more convenient not to.
you see this as the belief-challenge you have been waiting for; you want to rise to it.
Fuck off! This is bogus, virtue signalling, shite. Nicole Kidman is supposed to spend six episodes knitting her eyebrows in perplexity over the fact that her hubby is squeezing his dingus into any and every available orifice or light fixture even though some of those orifices belong to other women who call him a vicious rapist. Even if Kidman rises to 'the belief-challenge' that her rapist husband also rapes poor women of a different race, she is still a mere figment of the Libtard imagination.
On the other hand, there are protocols re. what we admit as true, or probable, and what we denounce as vicious lies, which are based on uncorrelated asymmetries- i.e. individuating self-interest.
When I first told a therapist about The Events, she said: “Of course. In retrospect it makes perfect sense of so many things …”
Coz this 'therapist' was paid to listen to a stupid cunt because she herself was too stupid a cunt to make money any other way. If both had had dicks, they could have had like a sword-fight with those dicks and filmed it on their smartphones and put it up on Pornhub and then their wives would have divorced them and they'd have become homeless and ended up giving blowjobs at the back of the KFC on North End Road and, anyway, that's what happened to all the other boys who didn't shit themselves in Mrs. Mwanga's Swahili class and who went on to get degrees in Accountancy or Pharmacology and their daughters are all like Priti Patel and their sons are all Rishi fucking Sunak and sod this for a game for soldiers I'm going out to get a proper drink.
Can't. COVID. Fuck me. Must I read the rest of Callard's crap?
Later she apologized for this as therapeutic overreach.
Which it definitely was if digital penetration occurred. Take it from me, if your therapist has a finger up your butt-hole, she has definitely overreached herself. This entitles you to 25 % off and a complimentary change of underwear.
Even therapists can’t help themselves — they are off to the races, believing and believing.
Are they though? They have a shitty job and are one malpractice suit away from bankruptcy. Agnes is indulging in an ego-centric, false, diairesis- i.e. making bogus distinctions rather than overcoming divisions through 'oikeiosis'- i.e. generating ties of belonging.
The alternatives for the therapist here aren't 'believe Agnes' or 'dismiss Agnes as a time-wasting fantasist'. They are 'keep this crappy client and pay the mortgage' or 'don't keep this crappy client and end up homeless.'
On this topic, so much gets packaged into “being believed”
being x means belonging to a group called x according to certain protocols. The thing isn't necessarily epistemic. It is more like a legal fiction. Nothing except the relevant Hohfeldian rights and obligations gets packed into 'being believed'.
that I fear the more I tell you, the less you will understand me.
We understand you well enough. You have shit for brains and teach a shit for brains subject to shitheads who, probably because they were epistemically raped, now demand a Credential by way of Societal compensation.
I don't want you to think you know the meaning of The Events;
though you told us their meaning for you was traumatic and equivalent to shitting yourself in Swahili class while getting your first hard-on coz Mrs Mwanga was hot and, unlike Mummy's, her slaps were sweeter than Fanta...
I don’t want to be classified as damaged;
as opposed to being classified as a retarded pedagogue whose shtick is how like Philosophy helps her students to recover from having been buggered senseless as babies by every epistemic authority in the vicinity
I don’t want you to feel good about yourself for believing me;
As opposed to feeling bad about ourselves for making fun of this needy, greedy, credential seeking cretin
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me; and most of all, I don’t want you to praise my courage for “coming forward” or for “surviving.”
But, you do feel that we ought to feel sorry for you, don't you? Why? The Holocaust? Gypsies died too. They don't make a meal of the thing.
The prospect of receiving praise or honor for this revelation fills with me with rage — when I imagine your admiration, I immediately imagine throwing it back in your face.
Kids getting diddled and shrieking horribly coz it hurts... that fills me with rage. Sadly, I am not currently incarcerated. I can't relieve my feelings in this respect by kicking in the head of a 'nonce'.
Why would anyone want to 'admire' a stupid, ignorant, pedagogue who has got a gig writing for the NYT coz she is soooo not a perfectly coiffed Multi-tasking Wonder Mom whom we all secretly want to see locked up like Martha Stewart...or Hilary Clinton.
The Fact I’d like to tell you has to do with a difference between how we — you and I — think.
You think like shit. I don't.
But to get specific about this difference, I have to use a word you associate with people who don’t talk, who can’t take care of themselves, whose inner lives seem utterly obscure to you, people who harm themselves, people you struggle to see as human, people whose existence you see as a tragedy.
Drooling cretin is the word we associate with you and everybody else in your line of work.
And you will find this comparison preposterous.
No we won't. 'Fire that drooling cretin!' is our motto. 'Shut down that entire department of drooling cretins.'
You will tell me I shouldn’t use “that word,” you will helpfully offer me milder alternatives.
You might acknowledge that I’m “quirky” or “idiosyncratic”
no. We will stick with drooling cretin.
— in a good way! — and that a few of those quirks may superficially resemble those people. But I have a professional career, a family. I can’t be like them. (Ask yourself: how much knowledge would you need, really, to be certain of this?)
or else drooling cretins can teach other drooling cretins and reproduce within family units of drooling cretins
You might be willing to budge a little if you could hear it from some medical professionals — though one might not be enough.
This is true. Having been certified a drooling cretin by a board of medical experts may indeed entitle you to Disability benefits and a bigger office or, which is just as good, the right to push Akeel Bilgrami down in the playground and steal his lunch.
You’d need a second and third opinion. Notice that if I told you I had cancer or diabetes or depression,
or all three if you really want to make our day
or for that matter that I was left-handed, you would not insist on seeing my papers. You would not be inclined to think I was faking my left-handedness by having trained myself to use my left hand; or that I resembled depressed people only “in some respects.”
But we would accept your self-certification as a drooling cretin because we can check on the internet that you write stupid shite
In the case of The Events, you are eager to assign victim status to me;
no. We are eager to snigger about how you kept shitting yourself or kept swimming in semen or whatever.
in the case of The Fact, you are wary of assigning it to me.
Only if it entails our having to provide you with a disabled ramp and toilet and so forth.
For you, there is only one question: how much suffering can she legitimately lay claim to?
Such a question only arises if a protocol obliges us to grade and reward levels of suffering. But, if so, we immediately claim to be cosmic empaths who feel, at great amplification, all the woes of the Multiverse. Essentially, if you aint getting paid big bucks for grading other's suffering you tell those losers to fuck off and die unless they are bigger than you in which case you start moaning about how Uncle keeps diddling you and shitting yourself in Swahili class was a cry for help. In a world full of refugees and homeless people with tragic mental health histories we all need to invent horrible maladies for ourselves so as to compete in the Pity Olympics.
You are so busy trying to answer this question — trying to serve as judge in the pain/suffering/disadvantage Olympics — that you cannot hear anything I am trying to tell you.
Which is a small mercy because you are a drooling cretin
And that means I can’t talk to you.
Works for me.
No one can sincerely assert words whose meaning she knows will be garbled by the lexicon of her interlocutor.
Rubbish! We all speak sincerely at some time or the other even if there are people around who will think we are asking to suck their dick.
I don’t want privacy, but you’ve forced it onto me.
I sympathize. I don't want celibacy but decent women tend to force it onto me. This is one reason I feel there is hope for the human race.
You might wonder why I have to tell you these things. Couldn’t I find a supportive community of people who endured similar Events, and wouldn’t I be believed by other Fact-Bearers? Yes, and individual connections of this kind are very valuable, but at the group level this kind of support has never worked for me.
In other words, other drooling cretins think they are better than you and politely suggest you join a group for drooling cretins who shit themselves so incessantly other drooling cretins will have nothing to do with them.
Being surrounded by people who are supposedly like me inevitably leads me to feel maximally “different.”
Because you are the only one sitting in a puddle of your own poo. That's one reason I quit Chartered Accountancy.
Probably my failure to benefit from such communities is a sign that I have not suffered so much, and deserve very little victim credit. So be it!
But you are a victim of the direst possible epistemic self-abuse.
Solidarity is not my thing, openness is. It is a consequence of The Fact, for me, that I lean toward transparency in all contexts: I have to consciously prevent myself from oversharing (even more than I do), and I am honest from necessity rather than virtue.
So, Agnes has no 'filter'. Lots of boring people are in the same boat. Sadly, they don't want to talk to each other. They need non-boring victims. I may be unedumicated, but there are some traits I share with Agnes.
There is a reason for all of this, which is that I am bad — really bad, you cannot imagine how bad — at figuring things out on my own. If I take too many steps in reasoning without the intervention of another person, I go very far wrong. So I have accustomed myself to reasoning in public as much as I can, to making sure to expose my mistakes to correction.
while boring the shit out of your interlocutor. The workaround for this is to earn money by talking boring shite as a Philosophy lecturer and then pay some of that money to a stupid as shit Therapist whose credentials are equally worthless. In Callard's Utopia, extreme disability of an imaginary kind will entitle one to a tenured position in the Dept. of Grievance Studies. Every boring cunt will then be able to pay a quack to listen to their stupid shit.
I know that I don’t know what corner assistance might come from. I don’t want to confide in a select group of people who grumble among themselves about how you misunderstand “us.” I want to talk to you, any and all of you, freely, so you can help me stop misunderstanding myself.
But why should we care? With genuine grief or suffering there is a common 'Structural Causal Model' such that finding a mechanism to ameliorate more extreme pain also helps those who experience it only moderately. But with imaginary grievances, there is no such pay off.
The truth is that I don’t know the meaning of The Events, for my life. Isn’t it at least possible that they simply don’t have any meaning? Or maybe the meaning will change once I am allowed to speak them out loud? Perhaps I really am scarred for life, but do we have to assume that from the outset?
One way forward is to find someone you can help and actually help them. Keep doing so till you have either learnt a way to help yourself or no longer care about identifying your major malfunction.
If I could talk it through, I might have a hope of figuring this out.
No. Chances are you'll just go around in circles.
Because that is mostly how I figure out all the difficult problems of my life: I talk about them to whoever is available, whenever the problems seem relevant to something else I am thinking about; I listen; I rethink; I write; I circle back and write something else; over and over again; and over time I develop a stable picture.
But that picture is still shit.
With The Events, I am at sea. For so long I did not even allow myself to speak them to myself. Now that I can, it chafes at me that you have decided that if I want to talk about them with you, I have to follow your rules, and let you trample all over me. Perhaps more people who have experienced Events would talk about them with you if they thought you would do less “believing” and more listening.
Pay for the listening and jabber away.
Factwise, this is what I want to know: what, if anything, ties together the “superficial” differences in how I dress, how I talk, how my mind jumps around, my repetitive movements, my sensitivities, the kinds of patterns I see and the kinds I miss, my obsessions, my literal-mindedness, my odd oscillations between needing to be alone and needing to be with others, between striking you as charming and coming off as unbearable.
You are suffering from glaucoma or whatever else it is which entitles one to medical marijuana.
Why do I struggle so much to understand which emotion I am feeling?
Why am I so bad at predicting what you will find offensive?
PMS or just not having a penis. I have a penis. Like most people with a penis I am good at predicting that pretty much everybody will find it offensive if I whip it out and jizz all over them. I wasn't born with this knowledge but acquired it painfully within the first half century of my life.
The Fact makes me part of a group of people whose boundaries are amorphous; we do not all recognize one another, and even when we do, we are not sure what we have in common. You would like to manage this situation in a very specific way: First, carve off what you take to be the “most severe cases,” and find a cure that prevents any more of them from arising.
This is how come Mankind has overcome death. We take the 'most severe cases' of almost being dead and cure them. Then we fix those who are quite close to being dead and then those who are moderately close and so on.
Second, assimilate the rest — people like me — as “normal,” or as normal enough, so long as you are sufficiently tolerant and accommodating.
The alternative is to treat them as highly abnormal and give them a wide berth.
But I suspect all the tolerance and accommodation in the world won’t make me normal.
Yes, dear. You are a very special flower.
Do we have to pretend that I am?
Your employers do. Otherwise they could be sued by the students they have conned. It is one thing to hire drooling cretins as Philosophy Professors. It is another to acknowledge that you hire drooling cretins to enstoopidify paying customers.
Is that the condition on which you are willing to engage with me?
Engagements are protocol bound. A therapist may have to put up with a client gassing on about Uncle diddling them so much they incessantly shat themselves at work but that same therapist has the right to chuck out that client if she starts fisting herself. The reverse may be the case if a prostitute rather than a therapist is involved.
And couldn’t a group of people have something in common even if “degree of suffering” isn’t that thing?
Sure. They could be concerned with mutual support and advancement.
I could use your help — not your support, not your approval, not your reassurance but your help as an open and thoughtful audience for these difficult questions.
An audience which boos or runs away is teaching you an even more valuable lesson.
But you won’t help me, because you won’t listen to what I’m trying to say, because all you care about is how much victim status I deserve. You are really letting me down.
Because we feel we have suffered enough. The fact is, there can be no 'general equilibrium' of nuisances. Either coercive means are used to curb them or else Society dissolves. Life reverts to a condition of being solitary, brutal and short. This is not to say that choosing ontological dysphoria is not a rational strategy. Being batshit crazy may be the price you pay for your kin's reproductive success. But only while you are alive. The certainty of death is the only Theodicy we need.