Yesterday's awful events at Virginia Tech did nothing to relieve my melancholy of late. As horrible as those events are, they congealed for me some thoughts that had been coming together over the last couple of weeks. My struggle continues….
A recent post in LL Barkat's blog, Seedlings in Stone was entitled "Subfused." I'm going to co-opt the term and redefine it for my purposes. Let's define "sub" as a prefix indicating "under" as an attribute or indicating that an element is present in a relatively small proportion. Let's also define "fuse" as to become united or blended, as if by melting together. So, the word "subfuse" would be a verb indicating the reduced ability to unite or blend. Near synonyms would include "detach," "disconnect," "estrange" and "separate." Other forms of the word would be "subfused," "subfuser," "subfusing" and "subfusion."
The "modern" movement has been a subfusing period for man. Following World War I and right up to World War II (a period that loosely coincides with the rise of "modernity") the United States was isolationist ("isolate": another great synonym for "subfuse"!) minded. But, as an architect, I often see time periods (movements) with an architectural frame of mind. The architecture reflects the philosophy underlying the movement. In architecture, modernity was characterized by stripping "ornament" from buildings. The phrase "form follows function" was materialized by exposed structure, exposed infrastructure, straight lines transferring loads in an efficient fashion and intellectual "honesty," "integrity" and "transparency" (read lack of mystery) in how buildings worked. Modernity was the architectural culmination of reason and logic. The steel framed, sparsely furnished, glass box seems to epitomize the modern movement. The seamless glass skin, while fragile, seems impenetrable. Although glass is transparent by its nature, you are rarely able to view what is going on inside during the daylight. Only in darkness is what's going on inside revealed and then only if the inside is illuminated. This architectural movement (style) was interpreted by many as "cold," "utilitarian," "pragmatic" and "Spartan." It is telling that the modernist movement spawned a sub-movement from the 1950's to the 1970's called "Brutalism." In hindsight, some perceive the modern movement as "dehumanizing." To many (read many women) it could only have been generated by the "masculine" mind.
Returning to subfusion: Modern man is subfused. That is, we can be cold and pragmatic. The subfused man is detached and utilitarian. We can be "intellectually honest" but brutal in our reason and logic. There is little in the way of ornament in our life. It is sparsely furnished. We are fragile, yet impenetrable. Our inner self is only revealed in darkness and only if we allow it to be illuminated. Our ability to connect with others is severely reduced. We are isolated. We are subfused.
This subfusion is manifested in many ways. Some possible characteristics of the subfused man are that he:
- watches TV (does NOT keep us connected with life)
- spends time on the internet ("internet connection" is an oxymoron)
- is engrossed in sports (not participation in, but with analysis, history and statistics of)
- has a hobby that does not include much interaction with other people
- hides behind intellectual "honesty"
- does not help with everyday tasks around the house
- is consumed by some ( many times "noble") cause
- can be vehement, dogmatic, unyielding and arrogant (even violent?) in the defense of the cause
- uses reason and logic to defend his detachedness
- avoids interaction with others
- can become so detached that he does not connect his actions, words and thoughts with reality, therefore can be callous and violent in his thoughts, words and actions
- can be consumed with pornography and may fall into outright immorality
- can play violent video games and may become so disconnected that the line between games and reality blurs
- sees women as objects for sexual gratification
I am confident that Cho Seung Hui (the Virginia Tech shooter) will fit this profile, but he is only the extreme case. As modern men, we all fit the bill to some extent.
Why am I outlining all of this in a blog with the heading Preparation 4 Eternity and aimed at men's relationships with their wives and children? If you can't put the pieces together for yourself, you might be more subfused than you thought…..We'll talk about "post-modernism" next time.