What Every Little Girl Dreams of These Days

On the train last evening I spotted – or perhaps I should say, I was assaulted by – a placard advertising a music festival. I thought: Is this what women really want for themselves? Is this supposed to be attractive?

Honestly, the woman looks like she’s being tortured. Fun!

27 thoughts on “What Every Little Girl Dreams of These Days

  1. At least the ancient pagan women (judging from surviving statuary) were or ideally were attractive. I never understood this modern tattooing and piercing fixation – on a pretty woman, it only detracts; on an unattractive woman, it doesn’t help.

    • I wrote:

      A tattoo is a sign – to others, and therefore especially to himself – of the atheist’s basic commitment to nihilism, and of his despair thereat.

      The tattoo is a sign of rebellion against all conventions, standards, rules – other than the convention of obtaining a tattoo to signal one’s conventional commitment to the convention of rebellion against convention. It is intentional ugliness as an act of aggression against society, by means of an act of aggression against the self. So the poor girl in the poster could be suffering torture, or she could be a maenad suffused with rage.

      • In addition, it is a sign of belonging to a certain tribe and it signals that she is easy and ready for casual sex to hot men.

        When there was no sexual freedom, women tried to be as beautiful as possible to find a husband. Now, an average Jane cannot marry Mr. Alpha Superhot, but she can have sex with him. She cannot compete in looks but she can compete in being easy. The tatoo is an advertising.

    • Dollars to doughnuts she doesn’t think of herself as such. She’s festooned with all sorts of signals that she hates womanhood as it has been traditionally understood.

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  3. Corybantic frenzies are always found in a moribund civilization. I think it was Toynbee who said that it is an attempt to draw on the primal power Id when all the other gods have failed. Euripides described this woman in his Bacchae. She is Agave, and if she doesn’t have the head of he son Pentheus under her arm, its because he was aborted in the womb.

    Although I would shun this woman, I do feel sympathy. I have tried to forget the pain with the cup of Dionysus. It doesn’t work and the spectacle is hideous, but bacchantes are really in pain. The death of a civilization is not Wagnerian. It is horrible, squalid, and unutterably pathetic.

    • They are an invocation of the Horned God, used by Mediterranean peoples against bad luck and the evil eye, and popular in the heavy metal scene. If the Horned God is Satan or one of his minions, then yes, they are Satanic hand signs. Heavy metal heads are often rather into Satan, so the association makes sense.

      • Although the traditional Longhorn sign is the palm side of the hand facing outward, not towards oneself.

  4. “Commitment to nihilism” is a flagrantly self-undermining concept — how can you be committed to an absence of values and purpose? Yet tattoos are obviously a sign of commitment; that is part of their point, they signal commitment as few other acts can. Perhaps she and those like her are committed to something that you can’t recognize, which appears as nihilism to you.

    In other words, she may reject your values, but that doesn’t mean she rejects all values or values as such.

    • “Tattoos…signal commitment as few other acts can”.

      You seem to have encountered little commitment in your lifetime. True commitment isn’t an act, it is a series of acts, ending only when the committed finds it impossible to persist. Doing some once-off thing that is difficult to undo usually indicates a lack of thinking through. This young woman has probably not considered how her mutilations will look when she is an old woman or a corpse. More than likely, she doesn’t yet really believe she will get old or die.

      The sudden emergence of so many tattooed more resembles a blind fashion than any kind of ‘commitment’. Were previous generations less committed and, if so, why?

    • Your comment clarifies an ambiguity in traditionalists’ usage of the word “nihilism.” Sometimes we use it in the strict sense that you identify here, but we use it at other times to mean negation of traditional values. Since traditionalists tend to believe that value is objective and traditional values roughly approximate those objective values, it appears to us that negation of traditional values negates value. But as you say, this woman likely believes that she is affirming values (autonomy, spontaneity, etc.). There is a big difference between denial of value as such and negation of any particular theory of value (even when wildly wrongheaded). In the eyes of this woman, I am no doubt an immoral nihilist. I deny many of the values she affirms, and I sometimes go out of my way to visibly negate them. I have often read authors who express their disgust for people like me in very lively prose.

    • @ a.morphous: Good point. You *can’t* be committed to nothing. But that does not stop fools from asserting such commitments, somehow or other.

      Nihilism itself is per se a flagrantly self-undermining concept. If nihilism is correct that nothing is valuable, then nothing has the value of truth, and nihilism is false. What is more, nihilism cannot be carried into practice other than by acts of self-destruction. A true nihilist would do nothing, and soon therefore die in his own excrement. Nihilists never do that. They get out of bed in the morning, take a shower, eat, work, socialize, and talk to other nihilists about how meaningless life is. They LARP at nihilism.

      Liberals, post-modernists, communists and socialists often do the same. Likewise, moral relativists. All of these ideologies are autophagous. You can’t actually live as if they were true, so all their believers are forced to enact unprincipled exceptions in order to get on.

      In general, philosophical commitment to a notion that is false necessitates its practical repudiation. The classic example is Hume, who admitted that even though he believed he had demonstrated that there is no reason to believe in causation, nevertheless one had to act as if one believed in it in order to live.

      If you are committed to a principle that is false, or to values that are not truly, objectively good, why then you are to that extent committed to something that is not real. You are committed to nonsense; to noise; to chaos; to nonbeing.

      If you act on your commitment to falsehood, you order your acts wrongly, and so they tend to injure others and yourself. As tattoos do.

      • They LARP at nihilism…Liberals, post-modernists, communists and socialists often do the same. Likewise, moral relativists. All of these ideologies are autophagous.

        Liberalism, communism, and socialism are all political ideologies with well-specified values they aim towards. These may not be your values and there may be other things wrong with them, but they aren՚t nihilistic.

        Postmodernism has some nihilist qualities, but it՚s not an ideology, it is a description of a cultural condition. Nobody aims towards postmodernity; they find themselves there.

        Moral relativism is not an ideology and is not nihilistic, although it certainly can lead to nihilism.

        I՚ll restate my earlier point: seeing nihilism all over the place probably means you simply don՚t understand other people՚s values and motivations. It must make the world a very confusing place.

      • I didn’t write that all those other things are nihilist. I wrote that they are autophagous: self-devouring, self-refuting.

        It is not true that post-modernism is not an ideology.

        Ideology: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture; the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program; a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture; visionary theorizing.

        Postmodernism fits the bill:

        Postmodernism describes a broad movement that developed in the mid to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture and criticism which marked a departure from modernism. While encompassing a broad range of ideas, postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including notions of human nature, social progress, objective reality and morality, absolute truth, and reason. Instead, it asserts that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual and constructed to varying degrees. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, irreverence and self-referentiality.

        After nihilism, postmodernism is the most obviously autophagous of the ideologies I listed. Postmodernism insists that narratives such as its own are not true. It insists that it is absolutely true that there are no absolute truths.

        You are however correct that we all these days simply find ourselves living in a postmodernist world, alas – an absurd world, a clown world as it is beginning now to be called in the popular discourse.

      • Nihilism is a concept that becomes useless if we define it so broadly that we see it everywhere, or so narrowly that we see it nowhere. I agree that those who see it everywhere sometimes accuse the so-called nihilist of having no values when they should say that person has different/false/bad values. But once we enter the relativistic world of different/false/bad values, the nihilist disappears altogether. As Kristor said, we are now looking for a philosophical abstraction who has no reason to get out of bed in the morning. This sort of radical apathy exists, but we don’t call such people nihilists.

        The first people to be called nihilists were, of course, a nineteenth-century sect of radical Russians. Their primary aim seems to have been destruction (annihilation) of the social order, and their own conduct seems to have been “beyond good and evil” (or at least the good and evil of that order). Raskolnikov tried to be a nihilist, but failed. Some of the characters in Dostoyevsky’s Demons succeed. In any case, the defining characteristics of a nihilist are, therefore, (a) destructive and (b) unscrupulous. The more destructive and unscrupulous a person is, the more prefect is their nihilism.

        I am perfectly willing to relativize these words, so that my nihilist is not your nihilist. My nihilist is bent on destruction of my world, and will employ means that my world calls unsporting. This is why the Nazis were called nihilists. They certainly had values, but they aimed to destroy the Europe that existed c. 1930, and they employed means that that world called unsporting.

        So, my nihilist is simply a very dangerous enemy who presents a truly existential threat to everything I value. He is a radical, a revolutionary, and he isn’t going to fight by Queensbury rules. This is a useful definition, and it has very little to do with philosophical nihilism.

  5. A belated comment…

    Despite the self-inflicted ravages of multiple mutilations – this woman also apparently had several thousand dollars worth of prolonged orthodontic treatment – since her teeth are impossibly regular.

    Likely she had an upper middle class background and stable adolescence – and the tornado of self-loathing came in young adulthood.

    I have seen this pattern increasingly often. In the modern secular mainstream, a good and loving upbringing washes out after not many years, or months (for example in mass higher education, or foreign travel).

    Only sustained home life of a maintained and serious engagement with religion is any protection – it seems that moderate, modern and liberal religion is totally without any protective effect.

    The problem is with both sexes, but worse for women – since they are more influenced by perceived peer norms. And in secualr society there is no repentance, because no forgiveness; and pseudo-friend women will support and encourage each other in each transgression.

    • Yes. The wealthier a society, the lower the relative cost of degradation. So you get more degradation. The only insulation is a deep internal conviction of moral truths that imposes rigorous constraints upon behavior (most often derived from familiar inculcation). This is why, as Rodney Stark has discovered, the religions that demand a lot of their adherents last longer than those that do not. The same goes for families, and indeed for individual lives.

      Because as you say it is harder for women to resist the suasions of their peers, and contrariwise easier for men to find themselves perturbed into action by cognitive dissonance – i.e., more likely to be moved by intellectual arguments and thus, alas, ideologies – it is generally the case that great and radical movements of reform are peopled first by young men from the more prosperous, more educated classes. Viz., the Jacobins, the Franciscans, the Russian Nihilists, the First Crusade, the Muslim jihadists born and raised in the West – the examples are numerous.

      I had not noticed the unnatural regularity of the young woman’s teeth. I had noticed only that they were filthy. The pattern is replicated in the streets of San Francisco, one of the best built and most beautiful cities on the planet.

    • This is a good observation. Orthodontic work is now so common in the U.S. that crooked teeth are very low class. Crooked teeth also seem to be almost exclusively possessed by Whites, so that the “snaggletoothed hillbilly” is a real but vanishing breed. I’m going to remember to look for straight teeth as one of the tell-a-tale marks of downward social mobility, be it permanent or temporary, real or affected. Even here, vocabulary and diction is another tell-a-tale mark. When downward social mobility is temporary and affected, these marks are virtual passports that allow re-entry into the middle class. These are the tokens one shows the police to let ten know you are just slumming, and not a real vagrant.


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