On Relationships or How Pretense Kills

This started, as all good things do, from the logs:

snsabot: Logged on 2019-08-11 16:46:59 lobbes: mp_en_viaje: you actually improved my archive process with just such a bash one-liner. I still use it to this day to get around the 'cloudflare' crapola. But you know, 10 years spent in a pot-induced fog tends to make one miss the obvious. I'm working with a new brain these days
trinque: the fog was induced by you being on your ass if anything; never blame a substance
lobbes: I cannot argue with this. In any case, I no longer intend to be on said ass
trinque: cool, I'm gonna spark a doob and work on deedbot
lobbes: haha enjoy
lobbes: the moral, I guess, is 'pretense kills'.
trinque: shrugs

He is correct, you know. However, I still would like to expand on my meaning of "pretense kills", because this cuts in all directions. Nevertheless, I will return to this at the end. First, let me define some things:


My "grand epiphany" outlined in a previous post was that the world in which both this author and the reader of these words inhabit is comprised, at the top-level, of objects and phenomena. This phenomena can perhaps be more aptly defined as actions, or the interaction between objects. Over time, this sustained interaction can then be interpreted as the relationship between objects.

These objects can be further classified as either human or non-human. Therefore, we can observe relationships between people (two or more human objects), relationships between humans and non-humans, or relationships between entirely non-human objects, although in this latter case in order to even be classified... you need a human object in the mix now don't you? Still, for sanity's sake we can still assume that entirely non-human relationships would continue to exist even if every human in this world dropped dead tomorrow, it just wouldn't really be interesting to us in that event.

Knowledge and understanding, then, require relationships. In order to learn anything requires relationships; with the language you speak, the teacher you are learning from, with the world around you. When you can not interface with this world, or worse, when you make yourself believe you are actually interfacing with this world but in reality you are not, well, then you are in trouble. Which leads us right into our next definition.


Depending on the dictionary you choose the definitions for this are varied, so let's dig into the etymology of "pretend":

From: https://www.etymonline.com/word/pretend?ref=etymonline_crossreference

pretend (v.)

late 14c., "to profess, assert, maintain" (a claim, etc.), "to direct (one's) efforts," from Old French pretendre "to lay claim," from Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege," from prae "before" (see pre-) + tendere "to stretch," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch."

Using this, I will define "pretending" as: to direct one's efforts to stretching (the truth or your own imagined reality regarding the relationships between objects in the real world). "Pretense", then is simply the past participle of this; after you have finished stretching.

How Pretense Kills Relationships (and thus Humans)

With these definitions in-hand, I will now dive into two real-world examples with the hopes that next time I find myself in a fog, I can look back on my blog and remember. These examples are rather personal to me, and writing about personal things is something I have avoided up until this time for various reasons. However, this is rather silly, because one of the main points of keeping a blog is so that the author can look back on where he was at a later point in time. Reflection is indeed what separates the human objects in this world from the cattle, and the last few times I "got real" only served to bring me greater clarity. Not only that, but in a republic of men (and not laws) meaningful participation necessarily can only be very personal thing to each individual man.

I. How pretense almost killed me

The following was a text exchange a few weeks ago between myself and the ex-girl I recently escaped from. Please excuse the drama, but it is to illustrate a point: which that I was, in fact, the one at fault for the both of us living in pretense.

Her: I need you to put a couple hundred on my [pre-loaded debit card thing I gave her years ago for "allowance"] please. Let me know when you do, thanks.

Me: Why?

Her: Because I can't do it myself right now

Me: I know. I'm asking for what do you need those couple of hundred?

Her: What's it matter to you?

Me: Really? I'm not sure what world you live in but I suggest you head back to reality and fast. I need you focusing on packing and getting ready to go back to your home. I will help you in that aim, but I will not help you sustain this fantasy world you are living in. I have my own problems

Her: If you want to be a dick about it then go ahead. I can't say I'm surprised, it's kind of disappointing though. I'll work it out on my own then. That's alright : ) have a nice day.

Me: Right. It can't be the fact that I'm actually saying something important, because then you'd have to drop the pretense. I'm just a dick. This, ftr, is why I can't be in a relationship with you. Real attempts at communication (which cannot always be puppies and roses and sugar) are met with dismissal. This pretense killed my father, your entire family, and will kill you too. But by all means just plug your ears and say "I'm a dick". I no longer care and *do not intend to stand in your way*1

The mistake I made here was saying anything other than nothing, because at this point the ship had long sailed. As I read this exchange right now, I realize I was talking to myself; and not in the "I'm talking to a wall" sense, but in the "I'm projecting what I should have told myself onto her" sense.

For all of the problems she has, the real problem was that I was lying to myself for years; I had never put her on her knees. I allowed myself to stretch the truth about the reality of the situation, despite all of the obvious red flags, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. I watched for years as my wealth dwindled while I supported her, and I watched for years while she never worked a day in her life. I flat out ignored it when she stopped cleaning and cooking, when she failed to deliver on her promise to learn how to even drive a car. I just kept right on going about things each day, and no, it wasn't the marijuana or anything else, it was me plain and simple. It was my own fantasy world I was living in, and I was indeed just sitting on my ass letting her bleed me to death until she had me on my knees.

I will (and did) live, and will most definitely learn.

II. How pretense killed my father

It was the first few days in October of 2015. I remember at that time I had a job that had me flying each week to the client site in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from my (at the time) home in northern Ohio. I grew up in Massachusetts, so when I got a phone call in my cubicle at work from a MA number I answered it, naturally. When I answered the phone the man on the other side had that thick "New England" accent2 and introduced himself as a state trooper. "Is this Eric? Yeah, I got some bad news for you. We found your father dead in his apartment yesterday."

The rest was a bit fuzzy. I remember my first words to the trooper were something along the lines of "Shit" or something, followed by, "so... what do I do now?"

See, my father and mother had recently divorced and he had no other children, so I was next of kin. Somehow I needed to fly back to Ohio, then drive the ~18 hour drive over to Massachusetts and take care of burying the man within the week's time I had off of work3. It was a whirlwind of logistics, but what struck me most of all was the fact that I wasn't really sad. Numb, maybe, but I honestly was not that surprised because I had grieved the man years and years before his actual death. He was a coward, you see, and "cowards die a thousand times before their death". He was afraid to face himself, so he took to the (in this case, quite literal) bottle. Finally he got his wish of a near-effortless suicide.

But I don't ever really remember him being drunk when I was growing up, and he always managed to go to work each day (driving a box truck, no less), so either he was great at hiding it or he didn't get heavy into it until later in life. In either case, what I remember was that he was impossible to have a relationship with; to communicate meaningfully with, at least from my early teen years on when I could've used a father. I do credit him in my very early years, though, for he was the only one of my two parents who would engage me in "abstract" thought discussions (my mother, on the other hand, taught me the value of practical things like paying bills and having pride in your work). At some point in his life he was alive and actually used his intelligence. He had a great interest in and knowledge of history, and I remember him teaching me all about World War I and II when I was very young (young boys love war it seems), and about how the American Civil War was not actually about slavery (he was right!).

Over time, though, he became more and more withdrawn. He also seemed to get off on people feeling sorry for him, and often after years of silence would explode in erratic outbursts that made no sense at all. To this day I still have no idea what the fuck his problem was, because no matter how much you asked him about himself he would just laugh you off in some manner. He also hated admitting he had any kind of weakness and avoided criticism with a passion.

But he loved to PRETEND that he was smarter than everyone else, or more importantly, he genuinely BELIEVED this to be true. I remember one time when I was a bit older, him, my mother, this girl I was dating and I went to a casino/resort-thing together. The entire time all he did was sit at this one specific 'video poker' machine, while the rest of us scattered. I honestly hate gambling, but my girl and I had a nice time exploring the general area and different stores, people watching, and bouncing around different 'penny slots' while enjoying the novelty of being able to smoke cigarettes inside a public place.

He did not move the entire time. Hours and hours he would stay at that one specific machine. At some point I went to sit next to him and he got all excited as he started explaining how he was "learning the patterns" of the hands that would come up, and how he had it all figured out; trying to teach me, you see. I just humored him for a while before getting really bored and leaving. I knew he was disappointed as he watched me go back to join my girl who was futzing around with the colorful penny slots. I knew he thought I was stupid for doing so. But I knew it would be fruitless to try to explain to him how those video poker machines are just "penny slots with extra steps", and how the odds are already programmed to be in favor of the house. He failed to see this relationship, see, but more to the point is that he would not listen even if the casino owner came down and told him that point-blank to his face.

It was depressing, really, but I had long ago stopped caring. He was living in pretense; in world that was entirely in his head, but he thought otherwise. Eventually, it killed him. The sad part is that I just know that in his final hours he was thinking how hurt everyone was going to be about his death, and how they would "regret not doing more for him". The truth is that everyone moved on, and they are doing just fine without him (if not better).

The "Moral" of these Stories

You get it by now, but let's bring it full-circle as promised. With regards to my dear ol' dad, the majority of my family still clings to the tired old trope of "oh no, alcoholism" when I knew from the moment he died that it had nothing to do with alcohol. That was simply the tool he used to further separate himself from reality. You can't blame the substance, indeed, yet I still thought right to blame marijuana for my own failings. This was quite stupid of me.

Still, pretense itself cuts in all directions, with or without substances involved. Yes, the gabriel_laddels of the world who believe they are taking a drug to "enhance their mind" are just deluding themselves, but it is true that even then the ROOT of the delusion starts with them, and the substance is but another layer on top; you can't blame the substance.

Like the woman who bleeds you dry is but another layer on top of your own unwillingness to take control of your life; you can't blame that woman.

Like the bureaucrat leech who you do not take care to butcher into pieces is just another layer on top of your unwillingness to be truly human. If you do not take the steps to be human, to look at yourself with that critical eye, to be honest with yourself when you see your reflection in the eyes of others, then you are just another non-human object and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Don't blame the mice...

  1. Yes, I cribbed these last eight words from the man himself []
  2. they say the accent varies by region, but fuck it I grew up there and I can't tell the difference []
  3. for "bereavement"; did you know that a week is considered a luxury in most salt mines? []

10 Responses to “On Relationships or How Pretense Kills”

  1. Will you please use the new selection style, the old js-thing is antiquated and slated for removal just as soon as I get through my older articles replacing it. Is the thing in http://trilema.com/2019/word-by-fucking-word-you-understand-me/#selection-429.0-429.37 actually http://trilema.com/2019/word-by-fucking-word-you-understand-me/?b=which%20are&e=one%20hal#select or something else ?

    > In order to learn anything requires relationships

    Well, something like that anyways.

    PS. The man himself did not remember, had to sql-search, which returned 0 rows. So... noooobody knooows *jazzhands*

  2. lobbes says:

    You got it boss. I have updated all pings to Trilema to use the new selection style, and likewise I will work to add said selection style to my own blog.

    > Well, something like that anyways.

    I mean, how would you put it differently?

    > PS. The man himself did not remember, had to sql-search, which returned 0 rows. So... noooobody knooows *jazzhands*

    Ah fuck, now I can't find it either haha. Now it is truly a mystery. If I ever do locate it I will actually link to it like a sane person.

  3. lobbes says:

    Aha! Jacob Welsh ftw

  4. A ty, I was searching through articles / logs.

  5. Diana Coman says:

    Fwiw and given your earlier statement re being content, at least one root trouble in there reads more like avoidance of conflict rather than "being content ~anywhere".

  6. lobbes says:

    @Diana Coman Looking back on my earlier comment I think you are correct. I sure as hell wasn't content, rather I was just avoiding being uncomfortable. But it is true that if one is to grow, one must necessarily step outside one's comfort zone.

    Btw, sorry about my blog eating your link. Can you point me to that referenced bug? I've got a growing list of fixes to my blog it seems.

    In the meantime, wrapping comments in "pre" tags has been fuctioning as a workaround, I find.

  7. [...] lobbesblog In every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing. « On Relationships or How Pretense Kills [...]

  8. lobbes says:

    Testing the suggested fix that was referenced by @Diana Coman

    Moar testing: "here's some quotes" and maybe a stray open < tag does the rest of text this show I wonder?

  9. [...] that I am free of my previously self-imposed dead weight, I've had some time to reflect on my situation and just wtf I'm going to do with my [...]

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