Beyond such biggies as medically unnecessary circumcision to look like daddy, haircuts to help keep America beautiful, being subjected to "masters" in school, and Educational Testing Service Princeton New Jersey (ETS) (501)(c)(3) standardized and other testing abuse, I was jerked around by even more Amerian middle class inanity.
How about ironing my shirts that I wore to work? I had no objectiion to the silly social custom of wearing a tie, because my ties were my father's hand-me-down Countess Maras: beautiful silk, not the dreck the other males I worked with wore. And the tie clasp I had was a plane rectangle bar shape, not the little horse heads that drove The Man Without Qualities out of an engineering office. I had one tie that I loved so much that I wore it until it was threadbare, no: two of them. No problema. But ironing my shirts was servile labor with no use value, so the folly of that was not innocuous.
How about shining my shoes? I can't remember when I stopped having to waste my time and energy on this social custom. I do distinctly recall one Saturday (Sunday?) morning, my father lining up a whole phalynx of pairs of shoes on the low wall on one side of our split-level house's driveway and presumably then shining them all. For him this was surely necessary, since he wa a manufacturer's representative salesman. But I was just a student in school. I wasn't trying to sell anybody anything (I was being sold a bill of goods, but that's a different issue.
Do you, my reader, see a pattern here? Superficial social customs that yielded no use value but appeased adults' toxic introjects with which they had been infected by their childrearing. If my shirt was all wrinkled, the earth would implode? These people were afraid of their own shadows, or at least they were afraid of their body odors. Now, I have no idea if they smelled bad, but heir bodies were thick like their [less-than-]minds, and I found that (i.e.: them) repulsive. that's not exactly true: I had been too ignoranced to recognize anything as being truly repulsive; but I didn't like any of it or of them: I vaguely did not want to be where I was stuck being.
"All social customs are shared hallucinoses aka social psychoses" (Wilfred Bion)
Most fortunately, after a short time as a teenager when I used an electraic razor to remove my incipient facial hair and picked stubble out of my face with tweezers, I was never coerced to "shave". That would have been extremely troublesome to me, with my, albeit relatively mild OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) → which latter, of course, having to do that might well have exacerbated, and, of course, nobody would have let me off the hook, because always, what I thought or felt about anything was: No Big Deal.
I did not like any of it. But I was not as clearly aware of how I was being ripped off and hurt as I should hav been, becuae there was nothing in my childhood social surround that I found worth wanting, with a very few exceptions. One was when I saw Rolex wtches in a department store's jewelry department store's jewelry department. The other was when my father's brother once came to visit out split-level in his sweet little bottom of the line 1961 Porsche 356, which was for me like seeing God might be for some other people. I asked for and he took me for a little ride in it and he told me how the doors were fitted into thec ar body by being sealed with lead and then a special tool making a perfect seam between the two. It was quality and my social surround had none, but somehow despite my childrearing, I could still be drawn to something good I had never been cued in on.
That's about it until I went to Yale and entirely unexpectedly encountered my freshman European aristocrat dorm roommate. Sad, isn't it, for a child who might have been a connoisseur of many things as an elementary school student? But so what? It was only my life and neither connoisseurship of anything, nor myself except as an object to be jerked around, existed for them; I learned from how they treated me that the whole social surround in which I was stuck hsd no constructive value or potential. Would I have lifted a finger to stop it all from being obiterated from the universe and maybe me along with it? I never got the chance to decide: They, including the cinderblock on two legs that was the head master (the big cahuna over all the regular "masters"...) of the prep school I was sentenced to were far more powerful than I. A bunch of Big Bullies.
I have written about his here elsewhere, but sometimes going over something a second time one can do it better than the first time, yes? When, in 7th grade (1959), back when school children all wrote "script" ("penmanship" even when they used pencils...), at some point I decided to write all block upper case letters with "caps" just bigger. I never liked my script penmanship; today I judge it was: slug[gie] slime. A dolt teach did not like this; I have no idea why but it was probably because he had been socially conditioned, like everybody else in that place.
Since I was prime meat for the school (an "A" student), I guess he figured it was not a good idea to flunk me, so he just threatened me that while I might "be able to get away with it" in school, when I got to college I "would never be able to keep up." What should this person have done? He should have respected me for taking initiative instead of just being a two-legged sheep that did what generic people were socially conditioned to do. He should have been amazed, awed: Luke 2:41:52. He should have offered to explore with me the history of medieval and Roman calligraphy and epigraphy, to see how maybe we could make my writing even more functional and beautiful. But he should only have humbly offered hypotheses, not "told" (i.e.: intimidated) me in any way to do anything. That was not the way it was, and, at the time, all this ignorant person with no sense of value accomplished was that I now forget how I made my innovation and just about everything else about his 7th grade class which had little or nothing of value to me in it but somehow I had managed to do his assignments in such a way that I got "A" grades. I just remember jis bog body standing over little me at my little student desk and reading me the riot act. As a man I used to know says: "Lead, follow or get out of the way." He did none of the three. As well as teaching 7th grade academics he was an athletics coach. A hunk of meat; After 60+ years I seem to have recalled that the label assigned to him at birth was: "Mike Rentko". Je me souviens.
Yes, in high school, I drank this dreck. A 6 ounce bottle (per above) was either a nickel or ten cents, I forget which, but, most likely: 5 cents. I drank it. It did not kill me. It did not even give me dental caries. I was lucky.
To repeat myself: One morning in my first computer programmer job (1973), I came into work early as usual and found a coworker already at his desk, drinking CocaCola and popping M&Ms. I pointedly said to him: "Manley! You're going to rot your brain." He had probably never in his life been to a dentist. He smiled through his rotting teeth and cheerfully replied: "Nope! Never had none." In 7th grade we had a latin textbook that was trying in its way to be woke. It included an anachronistic neologism which I guess the dudes who cooked up the book thought would appeal to 8th graders: "CocaColam" (first declension feminine noun, accusative case).
Yes, again, I ate this stuff, too. First it started building stong bodies 6 ways, then 12; I don't remember an intermediate 8.And with the crust cut off, of course, too. I never ate a salad until after college, and then I started on iceberg lettuce drowned under roquefort dressing. Maybe my childhood diet has something to do with my always having colon polyps the gastroenterologist cuts out on each successive colonoscopy, starting back from around age 50 years? My "diet" (not in a lose-weight sense) was a disaster. Canned peas and canned corn. I did always like liver, and prune juice (not whole prunes!!!), and beets (but they were canned, too). Sealtest ice cream. Frosted Flakes (Tony the Tiger says: "They'r Grrrrreat!"). Donuts! Potato chips! Candy, like: Tootsie Rolls, for God's sake! No whole grain anything, except probably occasional rye bread with seeds when we would visit my Polish peasant grandmother from "the old country" (she actually could read and write).
To end on a somewhat positive note. My maternal grandparents who probably did not have a high school education subscribed to The Reader's Digest. Once I actually looked inside an issue. There was an article condensed form The Atlantic. The magazine was not really all bad; maybe better than some (many?) of my prep school books? What the Dickens? Maybe it's like Margaret Keane's "big eyes" paintings. I used to think they were just the kind of hack crap "real oil paintings" by low wage seascape scene painters you can buy for $25 and that populate the hall walls of 2nd rate office buildings or decorate the living room wall over the fireplace in Levittowners' tract houses.... But Ms. Keane turns out to have had severe eye trouble as a child and that's were the big eyes come from. Some of her stuff is not all that bad (see right) -- certainly better than Jean Francois Millet "The Angelus" and "The Gleaners" which, for some reason or lack of same which I forget, was "art" we got in elementary school. But, who knows, maybe Millet was trying to say something more than that it's [sentimentally] good to be pious, too? "The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small." (Friedrich Nietzsche)
It may or may not come as a surprise that right across the street from the Reader's Digest headquarters building (which, of course is not located in the town of Pleasantville), is a house with a clear view of the Headquarters building, which the owners of the agazine build for one of their relatives. It is a small, but authentitic Palladian house, not just a schlock American MacHouse with a Palladian window. Sometimes the people who produce consumer goods for the masses to consume do have better taste which they do not advertise. I spotted this house immediately, but then I had decades of elitist humanistic education / cultural self-formation, unlike most of the upscale Westchester people who drive by it who probably just think the house is too close to the road (which it is, these days) if they notice it at all or whatever.