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Citation needed

I noticed the above observation as well. It’s connected to the fact people can’t pay attention any longer: people “watch films” while they cook in the kitchen, browse the web, and then pause the film to listen to Spotify. The film is so chopped up they need a summary to explain to them what has happened. What they “watched”.

“Citation needed”: the ability to draw your own conclusions with your common sense has degraded, so that people can no longer trust themselves to infer what the end of a film means—and, indeed, if you watch a contemporary Disney film what is meant is spelled out for the audience; a “bad guy” will appear and almost literally say, “I am a bad man,” and do things that are cartoonishly evil just so you get the point.

Feminisation: the position described above is neurotic and anxious—indeed, have you practiced mindfulness to reduce your anxiety? There is an app for that, I believe. The anxious person cannot abide ambiguity or mystery, since both induce anxiety. A film with an ambiguous ending makes them nervous. Not to “get it” makes them nervous—what if my own interpretation of the film makes everyone laugh at me? Better consult an authority—narcissistic bubble preserved. Even if the interpretation is wrong, the authority is wrong—not you. Well that sucks. The position is feminine and perfectionist—perfectionists can never be wrong, and women defer to authority.

Collateral influences on this phenomenon include mass attendance at university and the rise of the Internet. At university, I had this lecturer whose “thing” was plagiarism and citations—that was it; not thought, citations. Just to keep him satisfied, I put a citation for everything in my essays—even my own ideas. It kept him quiet, I had learned to use “scholarly apparatus” (ha, ha). You can see how people who take this seriously (girls) could then think that everything in life needs a citation to be accepted—to be stamped by authority (what if authority is corrupt?).

The Internet itself contributes to this phenomenon because it is so easy to look things up today. This makes people lazy. They think information should just be “there”, no need to work it out for yourself—actually, even now, a lot of information is not on the Internet, although enough is to make it seem like *everything* is here. This creates the illusion you can “know” things when, as the cliche goes, you have just skimmed a Wikipedia page and do not “know it in your bones”.

This has been true for a long time now. The original Saw film came out when I was in my second year at university. The Saw films are “twist” films—so, in part, the films are like “locked room” mysteries where the horror is almost secondary to the puzzle of how the murder is committed in a sealed room. I slipped out while my flat mates were stoned watching the film and googled the twist. I then returned and while everyone speculated as to what the twist was I *very tentatively* said, “I think it might be…” And, of course, I was vindicated at the end—how clever did I look?

At least one generation has grown up totally immersed in “instant gratification knowledge” and so more and more people have lost the ability to patiently work things out for themselves and have to be spoon-fed information instead—they cannot bear the anxiety associated with “not knowing”. Even when I went to university, in the early 2000s, I knew a guy who refused to read from the web and would print everything to read offline (i.e. to read properly, not to browse). He was right about that—in a different way to TV, the Internet degrades your ability to think independently.

Indeed, the rise of the “Explainer” article, not an editorial but an explanation, is connected to this tendency: we will explain—authoritative and unarguable; so perhaps you should sit your ass down when black women are speaking…(what we say is fact-checked too).

The inability to endure mystery is a shame because mystery produces deep satisfaction. When I was a kid I only knew Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back—and that was because the video rental shop in the village only had those two videos. For me, this prompted the great mystery as to Darth Vader’s origins—and the origins of the whole series. I would spend hours in speculation, putting forward theories to my mother about *the origins*. This was much more satisfying than the actual films.

Lucas himself understood this factor because the whole series starts in media res at “Episode IV”—so the audience immediately thinks, “Hey, did we miss the other episodes? What happened?”. And then when they find out, as was, those episodes do not exist they fall into speculation as I did as a child—and that just makes them more attached to the mythos. The mistake Lucas made was to become arrogant and feel the need to “fill in the holes” with his terrible sequels and prequels—he ruined the mystery, he ruined the charm.

You see something similar in the trans phenomenon too, as I noted in Bad Propaganda. The refusal to accept mystery and the desire to spell things out leads a person to impose a narcissistic narrative, perhaps supported by citations, on reality. Just as the trans reporter in the above article has to tell you what he sees rather than letting the images speaks for themselves, he has to tell you what he is—a woman. He has to explain.

For the anxious and status-conscious individual, it is inadmissible to allow there to be a mystery—it is not permissible to give a Socratic answer, “I only know I don’t know.” No, there has to be an answer—not only that, the answer must come from an authority (university, YouTube) and be obtainable with a jittery finger swipe.


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