Here is an example of the inherent Power of a simple, everyday Distinction that you have never considered to be a key means for the Culture-Structure’s enforcement of the status quo.
The forms that you fill out for anything and everything usually have a section labeled ‘Marital Status’ or some such, with a Distinction Set for you to choose from: check or X the appropriate box. The standard choices given are always: “Single,” “Married,” “Divorced,” and “Separated.”
These are all the choices that the Culture-Structure allows: no box for “Other,” no write-in category. If you do not fit readily into the four given categories of this Distinction Set, then you are a problem to the Culture-Structure: You won’t get the job or credit or loan that you are applying for, because you are strange, you do not conform to the acceptable givens.
Now, my present lifestyle is that of “Bachelor.” I was Married; the divorce happened; but I do not live inside of Divorced — no festering grudges, no kids to swap around on weekends — so that that Culture-Structure-approved category does not reflect who I am or what I do. So I chortle and write-in “Bachelor”on the form, and put an X next to it, and the form-shufflers can have an anxiety attack because I chose something outside their sacred routine.
Your False Mind is nattering at most of you this very moment because I say that I am a presently a Bachelor. “Oh, he doesn’t mean…” or any other such denial is par for the course from every False Mind. C’mon, what do you really care if Bachelors exist, except as a reaction to an imaginary threat to the Culture-Structure, which wants everyone to conform to A and B and C only.
You will get no defense of Bachelorhood from me. I don’t even have to cite the grand tradition of the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers as popularized by Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion radio show. As Popeye the Sailor Man always said: “I yam what I yam.” (Thanks, Popeye. Very Zen of you.) That is all that need be said on the subject.
The given pseudo-choices of the ‘Marriage Status’ Distinction Set ignores — and thus dis-empowers — Widows and Widowers too: While these are accepted lifestyle categories within the Culture-Structure, they is usually sidestepped. Nor is the category “Single Parent” given to you on such forms: Best hide the shameful fact and check a box that is not true. And the Culture-Structure certainly doesn’t want to deal with “Life Partners,” such as applies to committed relationships in the homosexual community.
Jack Smith, the late columnist for the Los Angeles Times, played around with the term “POSSLQ” over many columns. He discovered the abbreviation for “Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters” in use by the Census Bureau, and tried to use it to introduce people at parties and such. But he ended up having to explain what the damn term meant each time, and got all embarrassed because of the common reaction to the fact that the couple in question was living together and not married — for shame, for shame!
There is no other term for such a lifestyle arrangement in English — lovers? paramours? shacked up together? — and Jack’s columns on the subject, though syndicated and widely read, never got the term “posslq” (pronounced “possel-cue”) into popular usage, try as he might.
Where the Culture-Structure is, if there is no little box, no acceptable or in-use term, then any exception to the given choices becomes an Outright Problem. There are four (only!) approved forms of Marital Status in this Western Culture-Structure, and don’t you dare be part of any exceptional category, or the Culture-Structure will make it very clear to everyone that You Do Not Belong.
And the boxes for Professional Status — Self-Employed, Retired, Student, Employed Part-Time, etc — very seldom include Housewife, and never, never will you see the option House-Husband.
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If you happen to be a conscientious objector in the Relationship Wars, you are made to feel an outcast. There is constant pressure by the Culture-Structure to conform, to pair up, and then to stand before the magistrate or the clergy-person and sanctify your marriage. Unless, of course, the intended commitment is homosexual or bisexual or — ohmigod! — a triad.
Lots of birds and mammals and even crustaceans mate for life, no ceremony or license required. But Mankind, thru the Culture-Structure and the False Mind, insist that you find an official partner — with little Free Choice in selection of your partner — and then you must get a license and have the Culture-Structure approve and certify the existence of your Relationship. The Power to make this important Choice is taken from you, because those before you gave that Power away, and your “education” does not include any options outside the officially sanctioned.
The little boxes on the sacred forms of the Culture-Structure will not limit the options that are available to me; likewise your mature Working Mind will operate inside the Distinctions that are real and present in Life, and ignore the limitations enforced by the Culture-Structure that are designed to dis-empower you.
Author: G.E. Nordell describes himself as a grumpy old fart living in a trailer park in Culver City, California; he writes noir detective novels and operates nine websites, including one displaying the forthcoming book Working Minds: A Philosophy of Empowerment, of which this essay is an excerpt.