I have this print in my hallway. It is one of my most treasured possessions. I acquired it because someone pretty much literally threw it away, and this print is really one of the only things that I think I would truly regret losing. I am probably not on the most solid ground copyright-wise by posting it, but I’m doing it anyway, under the auspices of fair use. It will be used to illustrate a point. I love fine art, and in my view, this is amongst the finest. The fact that someone threw it away is inconceivable to me. But I guess it takes all kinds.
This is the fourth, and probably final, installment in a series of posts I have been writing on love and false relationship. The first three were The Shallowness of Fun, What is Love?, and The Shallowness of Japanese Culture. The last one I’m not too comfortable with, and it really didn’t get a very good reception at all (and probably rightly so), but I’m going to leave it up anyway, because I really can’t post what I want in this post without the groundwork that it laid. This post will have a different focus.
Let’s go, I guess.
In my last three posts, I followed a particular chain of thought. In the first post, I made the observation that anything that is transactional in nature that requires one to pretend to be someone that they are not in order to complete that transaction is not distinguishable from prostitution, in a very real sense. This was never intended as a judgment in any way, just a simple logical argument. One is like the other.
In the second post, I expanded on that argument, and pointed out that the opposite of a transactional, false relationship is utter selflessness, giving of your genuine self and expecting nothing in return. I put an American entertainer named Mr. Rogers out as an example of that kind of love, and I then made the observation that one of the things that is most attractive about Japanese culture to me is its emphasis on innocence, even if imagined.
And in the third post, using Japanese culture as an example, I pointed out that when you are a tourist in a country, the experience is generally entirely transactional, and you may come away with wonderful memories of a wonderful people and culture, but not feel loved at all. Particularly in Japan because of the peculiarities of their culture, but that is by no means exclusive to it.
And in this post, I’m going to try to tie all that off. And likely fail.
In the animal kingdom, there is one thing that is pretty much constant. Not entirely, but so much so that it’s essentially a given. A mother always protects her child. I am honestly not quite sure if I would call it love necessarily, but it is something a mother does, and it’s pretty much unconditional. The only reason a mother anything protects her child is because it is her child. We call it the “motherly instinct”, I guess it could have other names as well, but that’s basically what it is.
In the human world, a child is born pretty much helpless, dependent entirely on his or her parents to feed, nurture, and protect it until it is able to live on its own. This is a process that can take quite a bit of time – at least twelve or thirteen years depending on culture, and more often sixteen to eighteen. Not all parents, or mothers specifically, are up to the task, and some really screw up. The motherly instinct, being powerful, is easily corrupted. But nonetheless, it is extant.
It is probably the most unconditional love that exists on the earthly plane.
When I look at the print I posted above, I am reminded of that fact. The child the woman is holding is completely dependent on its mother, and the mother will protect it. Not the mother will try to protect it, not the mother will do what she can, not the mother wants to protect it. The mother will protect it, or she will die trying. The genius of the woman that painted that picture is in the way in which that was depicted.
But as you grow up, it becomes clear that this safety, this protection, this fierce drive that a woman has to protect her child, is an anomaly. The world is big and bad, and you’ve got nothing other than what you can offer. This, I think, is really where the asian “Tiger Moms” come from – they are women who were raised in and live in a secular society, and their way of loving a child is to make sure that they are as well equipped as possible to survive in a world that only values them for their accomplishments. For what they can offer. It is a form of mother’s love – they want to see their child succeed. Makes perfect sense when taken in its totality.
Not fun for the child, though.
The drive to be loved is a desperate one. We are offered a cheap and easy substitute for love, one that is based off of false relationship. As long as we have something to offer, we get something in return that we can pretend is love. This is why I equated YouTube creators (and other entertainers) with prostitutes. They’re selling essentially the same thing. An emotional opioid that we can purchase, and for a brief period of time, we can pretend is a suitable substitute for actual, unconditional love.
But it’s not. It never is.
The drive to be loved unconditionally is a desperate one. We want so much for people to see us for who we really are, warts and all – when we have little to nothing to offer, are completely dependent and vulnerable, are at our lowest with nowhere to go but either up or death, and have someone see us. It’s not so much that we want to be rescued, I think, but more that we want to be valued so highly that someone would rescue us. Not everyone needs to be rescued, but everyone wants to know that someone exists that would.
So many mental illnesses, so many unproductive or even harmful behaviors, even so many mental illnesses, are caused by this one simple desire that all of us have. So many harmful sexual behaviors, for example, are caused by needing validation, by needing security, by needing love so desperately that we are willing to do anything, to degrade ourselves in any way, just to have even the slightest illusory pretense that maybe someone actually would love us that unconditionally. And what ends up happening is we get used, and abused, and then discarded. And then we do it all over again, because we think next time will be different!
And it never is. It never, ever is.
I deal with a lot of social anxiety. Social anxiety, and depression. And I am beginning to think that one of the primary reasons for it is that I don’t trust people.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I trust people in a rather cynical sense. As long as I have money, I can pay people to do almost anything for me, to pretend to be almost anything for me, to do things for (or even to) me that they might find tiring, disgusting, or worse, just to get from me what I have to offer them. The more money I have, the more outlandish the things I could require of them, and most of them absolutely would do it! See the joke from my first post. There aren’t too many women who would not take a million dollars from me (if I had it to give) to have sex with them. And there are quite a few more women who would if I could just make it appear even remotely ethical. Everyone has their price.
And maybe you would maybe protest “I’d never do that!” And I believe you. I am absolutely sure you believe that! But if I were that kind of man, I could eventually find your price, if I had enough money and resources. I am absolutely sure of that.
I don’t, and I wouldn’t. But that’s immaterial. I could. It might take a lot of work and planning and acting and pretending and doing and saying just the right thing. But I could. That’s why they call it seduction.
But if I were an ugly, homeless man asking for a bowl of soup?
I’ll leave that there. You know where I’m going with that. I don’t have to spell it out.
I get anxious and nervous around people because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they have no interest in me other than what I can offer them. Because that is how this world works. And, for some reason, I am completely incapable of putting on sufficient airs to let them pretend. So I fail. I lose. I always fail, and I always lose. No one wants honesty. I have to let them pretend. That’s how you make money off of them.
I don’t know how to finish this series. I wish I could come up with some pithy saying that makes everything better. This has turned out even more raw and honest than I even knew I was capable of, and that’s saying something. About all I can say is, I hope y’all at least got something out of these posts. I hope they made you think. I know they made me think. I hope you don’t hate me too much after all of this. After this series, it’s back to J-pop and pretending and kawaii and all sorts of silly and useless things that y’all might like and might earn me some followers. After all, this blog is transactional as well. And perhaps it’s time I acted like it.
It’s been real, y’all. Thanks for reading.