I read an article recently about table manners in the country of Spain.
It’s a bit long-winded. I mean, there are a lot of rules.
The most interesting ones, to me, were about bread.
It’s a bit hard to explain exactly what you’re supposed to do with the bread.
Something involving keeping the bread separate from the rest of the plate, on the cloth or something.
Also, you can never ever dip the bread in anything. That’s just unheard of behavior there.
Also, it’s not abnormal to scoop up little pieces of food using a nearly finished piece of bread.
It’s not fancy, but not it’s not weird either.
I’m not going to verify any of this. It could be very different somewhere in España.
But it’s apparent to me,
that to them, bread needs to have its place, visually.
In Spain, bread is supposed to not be messed with in a certain way. It needs to retain a certain position. It’s got to be distinct from the rest of the meal. I guess you could say the bread has to be given some degree of respect.
And anyone who treats the bread like it’s any scrap of meat or vegetable or butter or what have you,
will definitely get looked at like they’re disrespecting the act of eating…supposedly.
It’s very hard to talk down a person trying to enforce table manners.
I’m sure some have conceded on various little matters depending on how motivated they are.
Like the exact placement of forks and knives.
But easy? Nah, it’s never easy.
There are some things people only give up after acquiring a headache.
There are some things people always feel weak after doing.
There are some things, that if you fail to defend, you’ll always feel at least a little bummed out.
And you won’t really be sure why.
That my friend, is the point at which any human being is at their most seriously sincere.
And those states are very likely to lead to outrage on the part of highly sane and civilized adults.
You could call it that “staring into space and wondering how I could possibly be considered wrong” sort of vibe.
What exactly would someone from somewhere
feel before defending the habits of
usage of bread upon a table?
Well, it’s the desire to hold up your positive energy, of course.
That very formal and civil feeling type of TRIGGERED a human can be.
That contrast between you and the stereotype of belligerence.
It’s so legitimate, and that’s the problem, it’s always been the problem.
Humans are just raring to go when they feel that they’ve sensed
somebody being deeply, truly, sincerely unhelpful.
And they’re almost always a little bit justified in that.
It’s where the cycle of strong, heinous behavior picks up steam and revs its engine.
Oh yeah, it’s all about becoming peaceful and refusing to let
that very well-adjusted part of you being spat on.
Hear me, world.
If you want the miracle of social interactions not sucking to finally happen, you’re going to need to remember these three things.
You’re gonna have to learn how to control yourself when every cell your brain is telling you you’re not egregious.
You’re gonna have to bend and adjust when it seems like the raw makeup of reality is telling you to act in a way that you know is extreme.
You’re going to have to become disapproving of yourself when you’ve attained a deliciously unique feeling human tension.
I don’t blame anyone for failing to reach that point. It’s really difficult to see! Really really really hard to see!
But is it really so radical in a world where we all watch TV together? More or less.
Can you think of a better proposal for the gap between the fictional world and the real one?
Why everyone feels they’re extracting good vibes from popular culture with so many shockingly different results?
Or why every chill and mellow philosophy seems to crumble as human desire shakes that friendly crap off of its beautiful ankles?
This is the one in a trillion statement you’ve been hoping to read.
This is the martial art of how to counter a person at their most difficult to stop.
When they feel like not committing to an action would sicken them completely.
You must make them believe that you believe they are deeply overwhelmed by positive energy,
you must make them sense you sense the way they pine over their own decisions.
And the way they know solutions come with problems.
The way they know that doing nothing is exploitable,
they way they know so little gets done without pushing past your childish comforts.
It charms the shit out of me how often we human beings enter such a state,
and how I really might be the first person to do a half-decent job at bottling that tremendous intensity.
I’m glad I’ve chosen to write about bread and table manners.
Because it’s a centrist thing, isn’t it?
Enforcing table manners is just as much about making things fair for everyone, as it is respecting those who came before you.
It’s the ultimate little act of progressive conservatism.
It’s all about the here and now and how to respect everyone, it’s all about the past and how to keep society stable.
If you know me well, I think liberals are bound to win on most fronts, and probably should.
But what the world could use more of is a moderate person who can flip the other moderate, average, boring people on their heads.
Someone who realizes that there’s absolute fucking tons of sincerity in little things like etiquette.
There’s so much really down to earth stuff going on in the most zealous traditionalists, I don’t mean that sarcastically.
If you can’t unwrap that sincerity,
if you can’t extract that functionality,
if you can’t dissect that actual big-hearted dignity,
people will remain in love with their own ideas about how a person must be,
and a better version of determining who really is crude and demeaning
and who is just trying to be happy at the expense of basically no one
will never be properly established.
What you my liberal friends need is raw insight into what makes a person feel totally good about who they are,
and what emotional power really is useful to them.
So why exactly would anyone raise a big stink over the positioning and placement of bread?
The Heart’s Three Infamous Positive Energy Directives, of course.
To see somebody be improper with their bread is to witness a problem.
You must confront that person, and thereby, create a problem, create a disruption.
You know this, but you know that most things you do can also have ill effects.
So it pumps up your heart to go for the gold and act.
The bread mistake maker doesn’t see themself as a problem,
is likely to get offended at being called problematic,
knowing that their behavior is inherently imperfect to begin with.
Perhaps it’s a bad tourist who’s gone past the point of their lives where being messy was an issue at the table.
They can so easily trigger you because of that.
You can feel them ready to experience a very adult and free-spirited sort of discomfort, in the act of defending their grain-based misdeeds.
It’s something that DISGUSTS you.
They could easily start chewing loudly and throwing food everywhere and it wouldn’t even be mental illness.
So how in the FUCK could you be the stereotype of a snooty debutante trying to prevent that sort of thing from happening?
And even when that isn’t enough, when the fury and madness isn’t enough,
you remember “it’s just a matter of the dinner table”.
“I’m just speaking up when we’re already committed to the act of consuming food formally”.
“It’s like years of doing the RIGHT THING are being made fun of.”
“This person will benefit from me doing this, even if it embarrasses them”
“I’m barely even doing anything at all”
So, basically, you feel like you’ve got the good and cool passive energy for a good cause
and the other person is so oblivious to their own passive energy that commits to a bad cause!
Solve the problem, make a problem, feel the friction, taste the friction.
Get uncomfortable, feel like an adult, prevent someone from even resembling
the type of whimsical joy that leads to people pissing everyone off.
Fight that which doubts its own ugliness.
Ugly comfort, ugly mischief, ugly laziness, ugly motivation, ugly pride, ugly shame!
You can’t just do nothing.
Don’t let the bread go to the center of the plate!
Validate that part of you that strives to be beautiful.
Lovely peace, lovely innovation, lovely relaxation, lovely desire, lovely self-esteem, lovely modesty!
Look at you.
Are you really what the world needs?
Is that feeling where your heart is made of orange-tinted rainbows
not exactly what makes everything so DIFFICULT?
This isn’t about wanting to end etiquette itself,
or getting rid of rules,
or disrespecting all the stuff that keeps a society neat and stable and joyful.
JUST CALM THE PLASMA IN YOUR GOD DAMN HEAD THAT TELLS YOU NOTHING YOU’RE DOING
COULD POSSIBLY SUCK
Because it is valid. It matters. It’s not that ugly. It’s not stupid.
It’s not worthless.
You want to be able to be peaceful. You want to not let that be taken advantage of.
You want to solve problems and do it well. You don’t want to be see as someone who has no passion for that.
You want to go beyond feeling like a comfortable child just getting what they beg for, or trying things out for the fuck of it.
Your actions feel deeply purposeful.
They feel positively charged.
And I guess they are.
There’s definitely lots of positive energy in trying to make someone behave properly.
Absolute shittons of benevolence.
Utter heaps of kindness.
Humanity’s challenge has been to find a way to put a collar on the neck of that.
That’s the point of all media!
To put a damper on the frenzy of validation.
Look at the diagram again.
Do you see now why nothing has worked yet?
Why all the go with the flow and be free of desire ideologies just never worked out anywhere all too well?
And all radical and justice-charged beliefs just haven’t worked a fraction as well as they said they would?
Resources misused terribly, people suffering in slums, no matter the captain.
All of it fails because they don’t wrangle the heart at its strongest.
We need a new fucking take.
We need a way to actually make a person turn back when their hearts find an utterly decent feeling pathway forward.
You, and all people want to feel like adults.
Not being exploited too savagely.
Not solving problems too problematically.
Not being comfortable too typically.
It all comes down to wanting your heart to feel big,
and you can only get that by following it.
Those three things I’ve outlined are what makes a person feel truly huge hearted,
far beyond high test scores, good food, and cute animal videos.
Think about what it’s like to watch somebody to do something innocuous but completely worth fighting,
like this fabled Spaniard against the defiled bread.
Think about that shrewd sensation in your cheeks that couldn’t possibly be unjustified, which you get when speaking up against someone who thinks they are no knave.
And go ahead and tame that in you.
Tame it! Do not be mystically enchanted by it!
Feel other people feeling that shrewdness, and work around that in others.
Do the fucking dance.
Catch the monster.
That is how “normal people” can prevent “deranged people” from even being a thing at all.
That is the formula of world peace.
Not a solution or an answer to everything.
Just a therapy vest
around your smart feeling chest.
Until then, we’re only waiting,
as the magic of fiction slowly enhances it, dubiously protecting us from nuclear warfare.
With big hearted monsters like you and me still at the helm.
I find the need to put bread in its place very charming, actually.
It’s got to be a really wonderfully human thing to do.
But some charming traits need to be evolved away for good.
Some good vibes need to be chained down by better ones.
I believe myself to be the closest thing to an actual good vibes sort of person.
Far from the kindest or most capable.
Just the least off the mark when I boast about being not awful to people.
When I say I want the world to resemble me more,
as does anyone,
it may actually be justified.
I would like to be surrounded by billions of people with such a grip on their hearts
to make me seem useless.