Sunday, January 23, 2011

Helen Rittelmeyer: The Worst Ever

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." --Edmund Burke (apocryphal)


Most of the idiots who leaned anti-Todd -- or worse, pro-Helen -- in their reactions to my C-SPAN2 appearance seemed to be under the impression that my comments were out of place, even though few of them seemed to have watched the entire C-SPAN2 broadcast for context, let alone read our essays in the fine anthology Proud to Be Right (one online writer seemed to think the G.K. Chesterton reference in my C-SPAN2 comments was completely irrelevant, for instance, even joking about it, presumably because the writer himself had no idea who Chesterton was or why Chesterton came up in Helen's essay -- in short, "How dare anyone talk about things I don't understand?  He must be a jerk!  Now why isn't he putting these comments in some sort of philosophical context?"). 

In truth, Helen's philosophy and behavior go hand in hand.  The latter is not an irrelevant footnote to the former, and indeed helps illuminate the considerable ambiguities in the former -- and illuminate the reasons that elements of that philosophy are deliberately kept obscure.  Helen Rittelmeyer is the most disturbing human being I have ever encountered, and I once spent a day in a maximum-security women's prison (for journalistic purposes).  To pretend that her thought has no direct causal tie to her actions would be the real insult to her thinking. 

But wait, you say, weren't you praising this woman and in love with her just a year ago, even during a (temporary) prior breakup?  In a sense, yes, but I fully concede I was deceived then, and not just in the usual mundane sense of thinking my mate was better than she really was.  I was in love with a fictional character -- something she might herself liken to a perpetual drag-act impression of a nice conservative woman -- who she knowingly constructs in order to be loved by people who would react with horror to her true nature.  Like many other Helen-watchers (even watching at a closer distance than most), I thought -- as she quite consciously intends us all to think -- that her brutal-sounding philosophy was some sort of entertaining juggling act and that her conscious goal was for it all to lead up to a finale in which -- against all seeming odds -- virtue, loyalty, and basic decency are somehow left standing upright (thus all her conservative-sounding references to the olden days).

Nothing could farther from the truth. 

•••

Helen's thinking and behavior -- her praise of fighting, suffering, partisanship, anger, punishment, and general thuggery -- stripped of the seemingly endless layers of irony and misdirection, resemble nothing so much as the timeless drunken white trash battle cry "You ain't better'n me!"  She displays a self-loathing desire to see everyone dragged down to her level: kindness replaced by cruelty in the hierarchy of virtues, logic by willful irrationality, peace by real violence, civility by endless conflict, meritocracy by a winking awareness of special privileges and by an indulgent love of corruption and decadence. 

And, though my "Hitler" reference in my old joke personal ad was written before I ever met Helen, now that you mention it, in a strict Aristotelian sense -- that is, judged by motivations -- it might well be fair to
call Helen more evil than Hitler, Stalin, or bin Laden, for the simple reason that they (in their ignorance, stupidity, or madness) are all presumably true-believers who think that vanquishing their foes (the Jews, the bourgeoisie, the Jews again) would make the world a better place.  Again, they're horribly wrong -- and we'd do well to kill them -- but they likely believed they were in the right, for what little it's worth. 

Helen, by contrast, does what she does -- breaks the moral rules she does, sometimes with blatant sneering pride -- precisely in order to do harm, to increase human suffering, to prove to herself that immorality and viciousness are inevitable (that sin is inevitable, to put it in a bad-Catholic formulation she might like), and to erase any hint that one could plausibly pursue compassion, empathy, reform, improvement, or gentleness -- these things being alien to her and thus sources of constant confusion and frustration, even anger.  She can't reform -- how dare anyone suggest that any of us can?  Fight, fume, and do harm until Jesus comes. 

•••

One of countless odd and stilted conversations I had with her -- peppered with just enough of her jokes and items from her vast storehouse of obscure historical knowledge to keep one engaged despite its tortuous bends -- involved me trying to convince her that most of us do not go through each day hoping our fellow citizens will literally get punched in the face. 

But we want people to suffer, Helen would insist -- since we simply intuit that to be "excellent."  She seems somehow unable to understand that this view does not merely make her a "conservative" or a "Catholic" (and thus merely at odds with libertarian atheists like me) but instead makes her something scarier, akin to a street-fighting proto-fascist before fascism took the reins of power, with a complementary dash of Weimar decadence to boot (one Jewish acquaintance to whom I described Helen immediately asked if she was of German descent, and it had never occurred to me before to think of her that way, but perhaps South Park was right that "there's something wrong with German people").  

It strikes her as absurd -- even infuriating -- that some of us are kind and rational all day long, whereas she waits for the opportunity to let the mask drop, to end her theatrical performance as the harmless little librarian-type and take up her preferred role of noir-like corrupter and destroyer.  Helen, I am as sorry to report as anyone possibly could be, is bad news -- in her own words, "a terrible person." 

Sadly, I don't think she believes she can do any better than play that dark role to the hilt, and so, last I knew, she does. 

•••

I remember thinking, in my moderately-conservative way, back in college, that if someone tells you "There is no truth," you probably ought not to trust the person too much, regardless of his philosophical arguments.  In a similar fashion, Helen has written that the most unimportant thing to know about any statement is whether it is true -- all that matters is whether it's "interesting."  That was a warning sign in retrospect, as were so many then-baffling pieces of the puzzle -- the Rittelmeyer Riddle, if you will.  When people try to tell you about themselves, listen carefully, even if they're lying.  If a woman loves country "cheatin' songs," for instance, it may be because they speak to her a bit too much. 

Helen admires the Gen X alternative rock band the Hold Steady -- and describes them as perfect for millennials such as her -- precisely, she says, because they don't write about the morality of, for instance, destructive actions or illicit sexual encounters but instead ask "What happens next?"  She may not be as conservative as she thinks she is (and at one point or another she has explicitly rejected tradition, conservative lamentations about the coarsening of culture, and warnings about millennials' loose morals).  The Ritteler, lacking ordinary compassion but perversely unable to simply keep her mouth shut, loves to drop hints and make jokes (in person and online) about her own misbehavior, all the while thinking that if she's not immediately called on it, it must be because the person she is talking to is dim or doesn't grasp the use of metaphor -- rather than because the listener is simply too horrified to believe the implications of what the Ritteler is saying, preferring to hope that she is psychologically human.

She's charming and well liked by many, but you'll notice few of those close to her have weighed in in her defense in any detail, unless I overlooked it.  Much easier to defend her if one doesn't look too closely.  If there were more people like the execrable Robert Stacy McCain who seemed to understand her and still defend her, I would be quite worried.  A veritable army of darkness could perhaps be summoned if one writer were truly seen as speaking to the creepy subset of the population that is frustrated by good behavior but outwardly conforms to it while winkingly suggesting to others of their kind a desire to inflict damage on the innocent. 

Even Nietzsche did not really speak for mere thugs and lowlifes (but rather for an imaginary group of future nobles, as it were), but in an era of flashmobs and fight clubs, perhaps someone will yet arise who does tell the masses that thuggery is good for its own sake, in words more refined than the lyrics of gangsta rap but with similar disregard for ethics and social cohesion.  We should not help such figures work stealthily by pretending to believe their conservative-sounding cover stories.

•••

Part of Helen's rationale for it all, I think, is a sort of dark version of Burke in which we not only ought to avoid unraveling the multiple strands of tradition -- for fear the whole fabric of society will fray -- but ought to avoid making, so to speak, lowlifes and chronically ill-behaved people feel that their ways of life aren't a valued part of that fabric.  There's no denying there's something earthy and appealing about that, in the short term. 

That she thinks of herself as North Carolina white trash helps make her a partisan in that particular cultural conservation effort, simultaneously providing a handy rationale for bad behavior, even if she could as plausibly be held to the standards of "a nerdy Ivy Leaguer raised in the yuppie section of her state by near-hippie members of the United Church of Christ," which is considered America's most left-leaning denomination. 

It's Obama's denomination, as Helen enjoys telling people -- and, despite all her paleo talk, it may be the real underlying source of her affinity for populist/Marxist "class struggle" talk, folk music sing-alongs, labor unions -- especially the dreaded teachers unions and even "card check" legislation -- the pro-choice position on abortion, and fondness for green, anti-car urban planners -- not to mention "brutalist" modern architecture, power-mad urban planner extraordinaire Robert Moses, Chicago "machine" politicians including the Daleys, Continental philosophy, and "queer theory."

(At a time when everything from stage shows to snow removal in New York City is being hampered by unions, it's especially troubling to see someone on the right defending them just because they're ostensibly tough, manly scrappers with a sense of solidarity, which is about all Helen cares about, like a cartoon Viking with little concern for morals or dry economic analysis.  Naive as it would sound to a leftist, I honestly don't understand why someone with contempt for morals would go into a normative business like promoting conservatism.  What on Earth would conservatism look like with Helen's morals and allegiances?  Perhaps moderate fascism -- not in the sense of very-draconian or racist but in the more Mussolini-tinged sense that our C-SPAN2 co-panelist so aptly skewered in his first book, with direct, violent action providing a sense of purpose when bourgeois ethical reservations no longer do.) 

•••

Too, she might have made a perfectly respectable moderate Democrat (perhaps in the mold of one of her heroes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan) if not for her perverse belief -- taught to her more by the left than the right itself -- that the natural home of sadism and suffering is the right.  Her conversion to Catholicism in college ostensibly signaled a turn to the right, though she has written about it as the natural next step for someone who (like Catholic convert Oscar Wilde and several of his contemporaries) first labeled herself a "Decadent" (in itself surprising to anyone who still buys the nice little church lady act). 

If she'd simply fallen in with a different circle of smoking buddies, she might well have turned out a Catholic adherent of "liberation theology," I can't help thinking, taking United Church of Christ thinking up an ecstatic notch, as it were.  Her essay in Proud to Be Right is largely about the importance of one's smoking circle, after all -- and besides, cigarettes, the single leading preventable cause of death (the cause of fully half of cancer deaths each year, in fact), are a new-fangled modern phenomenon popularized in the mass-culture crucible of World War I, not an ancient Western tradition. 

Conservatives who can't kick nicotine probably ought to restrict themselves to a relatively harmless and more traditional monthly cigar or weekly pipe -- or, far better, if they're high-tech libertarian types, the new "e-cigarettes," which deliver nicotine without the deadly burning tar of tobacco cigarettes.  Alas, part of being an ornery meritocracy-smasher in this case is refusing to think in terms of cost-benefit analysis.  (I know a man of the left who wants strict anti-global-warming regulations who also rejects cost-benefit analysis.  It's only a conservative thing to do if your conservatism looks more like Nietzsche than the bourgeois virtues of individual responsibility I had thought the West was working its way toward and had thought conservatives were now fighting to preserve.)

•••

If her love of union thuggery and (to her mind) delightfully anti-bourgeois street brawls such as the so-called "Hard Hat Riot" in New York City in the 1970s (in which hippies and upper-class bankers were beaten by lower-class construction workers) aren't sufficient to convince you that sadism and the promotion of suffering (at least as she assesses likely outcomes) are the best means of predicting her otherwise often-baffling and random-seeming assortment of positions, or if her love of director Lars von Trier doesn't do the trick, consider her cautious defense of Southern slavery -- or rather, her lamentation that it may have ended too abruptly, not because whites are superior to blacks or because the Civil War was needlessly violent but because mass slavery was such a handy metaphor for the way in which we should all live, so long as the ultimate slavemaster is God. 

(She has even hinted at thinking, quite unlike Reagan and Pope John Paul II, that totalitarianism would also be compatible with Christian values so long as it didn't suppress the Church.  I knew Catholicism was somewhat authoritarian, but I thought it was Islam that meant "Submission.")

For all I know, mass internment of Japanese-Americans is also a great metaphor for some aspect of Christianity (or perhaps Shinto), but I'd never want to inflict suffering on people to preserve a metaphor.  But then, I don't think suffering or slavery are beautiful things to have around, literally or metaphorically, any way you slice them, alone or paired, in this world or another.  This issue gives you some idea how dark this whole mode of thought gets, even without delving further into the more personal stuff that some people felt was off-topic.  (She, at least, knows the personal and political fit together naturally here.)

Her view on slavery is even more troubling, from a libertarian (or merely humane) perspective, than her strange fondness for the U.S. Postal Service, of which she at one point talked about becoming the great conservative defender (in much the same way Diane Ravitch was regarded by some, including Helen before growing disillusioned with her, as an exciting case of a quasi-sort-of-ex-conservative turned teachers union defender).  But then, just defending the post office would be enough to count as a warning sign in a saner world. 

•••

While recognizing Edmund Burke's wisdom in saying that we can't just dissect society and keep the parts we like when we're so unsure how all the parts function together, I do believe we have inherited some things that are terrible -- and that we should always be striving, both as individuals and as a society, to improve, not always looking for ways to justify unending brutality.  It's often a good thing when society proves somewhat modular, the good things becoming keepers, the bad things being (cautiously) discarded.  I wish sometimes people were as modular -- the wit extractable from the viciousness in some people, for instance.

A presumably-Christian commenter on one of my recent posts seemed to suggest that by sparring with religious folk such as Helen, I am undermining the Western moral tradition.  On the contrary, it seems to me that I am trying to salvage and advance what remains useful from it, while people like Helen -- who have decided that layers of theatre, self-contradiction, and hypocrisy are the best way to do faith in the twenty-first century -- are the ones causing Western morals to self-destruct.  If Moses (the Biblical one, not Robert) was the Alpha of the Judeo-Christian tradition, Helen is the Omega, the final postmodern death rattle of what was always a hopeless lie and should now be discarded, along with Islam, government, and other systems of control that have become more destructive than helpful and more adept at juggling lies than continuing the natural human search for truth -- and happiness (if I can't have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I don't want to be part of your dark, vaguely-Germanic counterrevolution).

And with that (barring some provocation from her -- or me hearing even fourth-hand that she is somehow misrepresenting me or abusing more people), I will not mention Helen Rittelmeyer again, and (barring her moral and psychological transformation, which I would welcome as much as anyone) it may be best for the culture if no one else does either.

36 comments:

gerard said...

I once spent a day in a maximum-security women's prison (for journalistic purposes).

How was it? My mother worked as a corrections officer at a men's prison upstate for approximately half a year back in the '70s. Based upon her description, the experience sounded like dwelling in one of the less appealing circles of Hell.

Gerard said...

Technically speaking, Stalin's foes were the kulaks-or perhaps the Mensheviks. I don't think Russian society ever developed to the point where a bourgeoisie existed.

Phalluster said...

Lots of angry words about a woman. I stopped reading when you said Hitler was wrong. You seem to allude to some personal position that jews are not the scourge of the earth, so I quickly decided to close this browser tab (after leaving you this comment).

Ed said...

Why is it that Helen Rittlemeyer claims to be a conservative, but virtually all of her positions seem to lean leftward? Pro-union, likes Camile Paglia, sympathetic to bloated bureaucracy, no real support for most of the traditional positions regarding sexuality morality, etc.

Also, if one wants to increase suffering, one ought to support universal health care due to the fact that is most assuredly more inefficient and inept than the alternative. Apparently, she must buy the liberal/socialist premise that govt healthcare really would be better overall, but conservatives and libertarians oppose it just out of spite.

Todd Seavey said...

Funny you should ask today. Helen moved back to North Carolina yesterday after two years here in NYC working at National Review. Over a year after our notorious C-SPAN2 appearance, we managed, I think, to bury the hatchet before she left, so rather than further criticize -- or hypocritically defend -- all her views, I'll just seize this opportunity to say, as objectively as I can, that the issues she really cares about are orthogonal to the ones that most liberals and conservatives argue about, revolving less around things like tax levels and precise traditions than around Nietzschen-meets-Catholic notions of willingness to endure suffering and strive for greatness. A bit TR but without really touching directly on anything as earthly and policy-oriented as his notions regarding the size of government (in much the same way that Paglia is not best understood by asking her specific policy preferences).

More disturbingly, her notions about loyalty, friendship, and the nature of a good romance (mainly: combative) are fairly unusual as well. But she's still young, still maturing, and I'm guessing, will likely emerge from some North Carolina downtime a happier and less dangerous person (philosophically and psychologically).

The crux may be this: while bourgeois folk like me worry about avoiding doing anyone harm -- and want the government to avoid harming the economy (while disagreeing with more conventional conservatives about whether religion is necessary to make people kind) -- Helen is, or at least was, convinced (as she came of age amidst combative and competitive college political pals) that combativeness is the spice of life. To the extent, then, that conservatism encouraged aggression, fighting, partisanship, she liked it. So much so that even diplomacy and compromise and kindness itself began to seem like liberal cowardice.

Any boxer or Viking can sort of appreciate that. You just wouldn't have predicted how much orneriness, rage, and even admiration for violence was lurking under the little church-lady exterior, so it was sort of unsettling false advertising.

But, hey, she says she's making stronger efforts to be nice to people, is likely to vote for medical-marijuana-promoting Gary Johnson, found her brief encounter with some Occupy Wall Street types reason enough to be wary of left-wing and pro-union politics, and admits the orneriness can be a cover for plain-old social awkwardness. So instead of fearing her conquest of the world, I'll go back to predicting she conquers it and just keep my fingers crossed that she's nice to it once she does so.

And, since she might well emerge having rethought things, from here on out, your observations and conclusions are likely to be as informed as mine. I will err on the side of optimism about what she does next instead of dwelling on the darker bits of the past.

And, as I will discuss further on the blog starting this coming Thursday (Groundhog Day), my new goal -- including at the Williamsburg bar events I'll be unveiling -- is to make the world safe for radicalism and diplomacy at the same time, so it wouldn't wise for me to hold grudges forever or dismiss people's efforts to improve. Humanity is still working out ways to clash without damaging each other, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Well, I missed your response up until now! I wrongly and unfairly assumed that that an author would not reply to a comment on a post this old.

In any case, thank you for your clarification. Despite your well-explained description of her views, I suspect that Miss Rittlemeyer misunderstands conservatism on a rather fundamental level. The most glaring part of this is her seeming acceptance of the liberal claim that their vision of society would be objectively better. Apparently, she thinks conservatism has merit, despite being objectively worse, because it creates a bad society, which permits the character tests she adores so much.

In addition to the round-about and confused nature of this, it is also profoundly unconservative in essence. I, at least, have always thought that conservatives must abide by Aristotle's notion that good things are defined as good in themselves, and not good because they are good for some purpose. Perhaps without realizing it, she has introduced this utilitarian element into her thought.

Far too many conservatives of an intellectual bent get caught up trying to live some fantasy out of an Evelyn Waugh story. It tends toward posturing wherein they conceive of their "genius" as putting them above worrying about the humdrum reality of day-to-day things like policy, or even having a coherent and internally consistent and philosophic outlook.

Todd Seavey said...

Yeah, I am left a bit curious how long the Waugh/posturing thing has been a significant element of conservatism. Of course, the easy leftist answer would be "always" or "ever since Buckley," but I feel as though I didn't really encounter this until the past four years despite spending twenty in contact with conservatives and libertarians -- though perhaps I just didn't spend enough time around Yale, Catholics, or the young. One conservative writer a bit younger than I thinks there was a palpable increase in Catholicism and theatricality in right-wing circles in recent years -- around the same time other segments of the culture discovered steampunk, really.

A subconscious reaction to the tackiness of reality TV? Subcultural reinforcement from the Web? The popularity of _Mad Men_ or some other period piece that I missed? Not sure what did it, if I'm even right it increased.

It is a great formula for people who want to seem daring while being detached from most earthy, current disputes, though -- like spending of all one's time at Renaissance fair(e)s. Not without charm but probably better suited for an era with fewer urgent real problems.

Ed said...

Yes, that's true in large part. While I am not Catholic, I am Christian am broadly sympathetic to the RC Church. I don't know what it is exactly, but for those who like affect archaism, Catholicism really does have an appeal. I would hazard a guess that it is because it is more appealing on aesthetic grounds than most other Christian branches in the contemporary US. This, however, I suspect, leads to some converts who misunderstand the spiritual substance of the faith.

It is the same basic type of outlook that brings about those righties who don't really "get" their own purported value system. For them, it's an attitude or a fashion; just a face to present to the world or a form of self-identification like your taste in books or movies.

Waugh, T.S. Eliot & figures like them at least were the real deal-they did have a form of conservatism (English royalism, whatever). They really did believe in it and weren't trying to look cool by turning their noses up at modernity or seem chic by smoking non-filtered cigarettes.

As you say, the "Jeeves and Wooster", or Brideshead Revisted schools of conservatism are not so different from the Renaissance Fair Crowd. It's just that it seems brainer and less "geeky" than types. At least most of the Renaissance Fair people probably stop acting once they get some.

Also, playing at being an elitist might have its pleasures if you're in an academic environment and want to spite the Marxists, post-modernists, deconstructionists, post-colonial theorists, et al. My own university was so thoroughly lefty I didn't quite oppose these currents of thought. It wasn't that I lacked the courage, but I knew that because I was the odd man out, I'd constantly be on the defensive and would be singled out in an attempt to make me the collective punching bag. Rather than make like you supported leftism in earnest, most profs and the main of the student body were content if one didn't overtly oppose it. Anyone with half a brain knew their grades would suffer as well.

Ed said...

Yikes, some bad typos in the above. "get some" should read "get home", but arguably, both MIGHT apply.

There are some others in there, but I figure the post makes sense even without correcting them.

Anonymous said...

Three comments:

"Red Eye" is always on at 3 am; that is its air time.

Unitarians, not UCC, are the most left-leaning Christian denomination.

That you left out the "be" in the sentence "nothing could further from the truth." is very telling. Telling because it's a significant emotional refusal on your part, but you happened to mistype. telling indeed.

Helen is a wonderful person and how would you feel if someone broke up with your sister and blogged such hate about it? This is madness.

Todd Seavey said...

I would love to know where you think you got the "wonderful person" information -- but since she is, by her own admission, _now_ striving to be nice to people for the first time in her life (after long having -- and, believe me, acting upon -- a secret but conscious philosophy of sadism), I wish her the best.

If I had a sister and she had at one time held views -- and engaged in behaviors -- as dark as Helen's, I would have denounced that sister myself, and anyone who attacked _victims_ of that sister or defended her would be _profoundly_ morally confused.

But out of mercy, I will not encourage you to reveal what you think your evidence is, since I have no wish to dwell further on Helen's past wrongdoing.

Anonymous said...

No, with sisters no one comes between you. Anyone who insults my sister, fuck them. That's the way it is.

The fact that you don't see that basic human truth is also telling.

You don't owe me mercy. Be as mean as you like. I can take it. Maybe I'll even return it to you. Unless you only like to give it out? I'm ready when you are.

Todd Seavey said...

No, I meant mercy toward her. You I presumably do not even know.

Anonymous said...

Call that answer "The Wife-Beater calls it a day."

Just as I'd suspect from a loser like you.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the nice person information is seriously insulting. You are no counterculturalist. Drop dead.

The Contrarian Expatriate said...

Tom,

I get the impression that you simply overlooked a personality disorder like narcissistic PD or antisocial PD in Helen before falling for her. Have you ever read up on how she typifies those who suffer from Cluster B PD's?

Also, I suggest you read Esther Vilar's "The Manipulated Man" to get a sense of the hidden dynamic between men and women. Helen seemingly was not good in hiding that at which most women excel.

Finally, come visit us MGTOW and peruse the forum. We explore these issues that you seem to be perplexed about:

Todd Seavey said...

Oh, fear not. She now admits to some problems along those lines and claims to be trying to clean up her act (given her relative youth, I will cautiously predict she succeeds).

And, luckily, I am not inclined to seek out such dilemmas -- and will be _both_ more cautious and more understanding in the future -- but she's very smart and thus had a much larger and more philosophical arsenal of rationales than the average lady (as much self-defense as aggression). I'd rather not go into too much detail, though, since so many people already figure I've said more than enough on that topic.

On a closely related note, though, I _will_ interview another, earlier ex -- who is, like Helen, a convert to Catholicism -- namely Dawn Eden, live onstage at Muchmore's Bar (2 Havemeyer St. in Williamsburg) about her own claims to have been aided by religion in coping with psychological trauma (the topic of her second book).

I shall be both diplomatic and at least mildly skeptical, as I normally strive to be.

(And _most_ of my exes are very different, in case you were wondering. I wish every one of them well. But then, I'm a utilitarian.)

Todd Seavey said...

Oh, Dawn and I are at Muchmore's Thur., June 21 (8pm), 2012, I meant to say.

Austin Bramwell said...

Helen is a bright girl but not nearly that interesting. If I had a dollar for every Catholic nihilist I knew at Yale I'd have... well, at least $30. The basic syllogism of the Catholic nihilist is unbelievably sophomoric: 1. You can be successfully browbeaten by your friends out of any belief; 2. The knowledge that none of your beliefs is stable must inspire with existential despair; 3. The only way out of is to do sufficient violence to your reason as to embrace the magisterial teachings of the Catholic church. Again, utterly sophomotic. But when you're just a kid and all your friends are into it, it sounds exactly right.

Todd Seavey said...

And she almost verbatim now admits it was a fun, decadent philosophy for college but probably best left behind in the adult world (unlike me, she's still fairly young). I suppose you could say it must have had some attraction for me, at a degree removed, even if I was also horrified (like a naive bourgeois Lovecraft narrator), so I should be forgiving and, as always, strive to be understanding.

On a vaguely related note, this Thursday, June 21 (8pm) sees me interviewing the (by some measures) more conventional Catholic convert Dawn Eden (also a Todd ex) onstage at our monthly Dionysium event (sort of a variety show/political debate) at Muchmore's Bar at 2 Havemeyer St. (get off at Bedford Ave., the very first subway stop into Williamsburg if you take the L at 14th St., and walk three blocks east of Bedford).

All are welcome, and some people from _First Things_ and the like are expected to attend. (We'll also have a comedian and a musician, Hannah Meyers, who's engaged to a former _National Review_ managing editor -- small world.)

Anonymous said...

Shit, bro. You need to man up and mature. It seems that whatever issues Helen has, yours are a lot worse and honestly, you should seek help for them.

Dan's Test Blog said...

I don't know what the hell any of you are talking about. I suggest you get drunk and forget her.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the haters, on the reddit post about that video of you slamming that sociopathic ugly mole there were a fair few of her friends making multiple accounts to try and defend her. That always happens in these situations, it's known as white knighting and is thoroughly amusing.

Clearly this woman suffers from mental health issues, but she is well aware of them and unrepentant. Her ideologies border on fascism, she's overtly racist, sexist, and filled with hate.

The worst part is because she is female she can easily manipulate men to do her bidding by fluttering her eyelashes, which she has also admitted she enjoys doing for sport.

Her ivy league background is laughable, her only achievements are those one would expect from a first year, and at every chance she gets she tries to bring up where she studied, rather than what she has achieved. Standing on the shoulders of giants without attempting to achieve anything functional for herself is a sad, sad habit exhibited by sociopaths.

The people around her need to be made aware of her parasitic psychotic ways, so I have taken it upon myself to make sure that her details and more horrific quotes are made immortal on the internet. I happen to work in SEO/WPR so making sure every future friend, employer, boyfriend, or colleague finds the truth about her ranked #1 when googling her name is very easy for me.

Please reply to this post with an email address I can contact you on. We ought to get a group of people together to work on this project and expose this evil cunt for what she is. Her racist remarks regarding slavery rubbed me up the wrong way, and I'm pretty sure I know of a group of folks who will quite happily go out of their way to ensure that her ability to live any semblance of a public life will come to an end, like she rightly deserves.

If you're reading this Adolf Ritler, know that your time is up. Your unrepentant big trapping mouth has come to the attention of people who can ensure that you go down, and now is the time for you to reap what you have so wilfully sowed.

Regards,

Anonymous.

Todd Seavey said...

I'm not sure why this is coming up again now -- and I hate to derail your project -- but all this was two years ago, and in fact she's long since vowed to moderate and reevaluate. And though I was pessimistic at the time, I think she's young and malleable enough to pull it off.

She has since moved out of the country and made a fresh start, so if you really sympathize with me -- and I thank you for it -- I'd say consider this case closed (or at least no longer as readily publicly judged, pending hypothetical future developments), and move on to maybe blogging about the broader (and more high-road) question of how to encourage empathy in people in general.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is - as a woman- if you wanna get laid in the future, get your date to read up on this whole thing and watch that CSPAN "public spilling of hearts" first. I've never seen someone diss an ex with so many words. Bad breakup methinks. Come on, man up, move on, get another girl, have a beer or two, tout se passe.

Todd Seavey said...

And I'd recommend that before you tell people to "move on" you take note of the fact you're commenting on an item from 2010. Things don't start existing only when _you_ notice them, hard as this may be for you to believe.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating read. Lack of empathy--the hallmark of several personality disorders--is the first thing that occurred to me.

Anonymous said...

I think it's time you take this post down. Even if your anger is justified towards HR, it's simply not right to try to publicly damage someone's reputation in this way. If you wish to attack her ideas, do that - don't try to prove to the entire world that she is a terrible person, and then act as though you've forgiven her at the same time. The internet has given too much power to people who want to act this way.

Todd Seavey said...

Well, an even broader cyber-housecleaning is imminent if all goes as planned, if that makes you feel better.

Jerky LeBoeuf said...

It seems to me as though Helen is suffering from what I have always called "Come Now Dear Boyism", but which others are now beginning to call NeoReaction and/or Dark Enlightenment Reaction. Basically it's a tweedy kind of aesthete's Fascism LiteTM. And it's just as disgusting as that sounds. Google the terms for a taste of bile. Actually it seems to me like a couple of Dark Enlightenment f(v)olk have already commented on this story, Todd...

Todd Seavey said...

I hope to clean up the site a bit and likely replace all this with a happier, shorter update soon, but I'm pleased you got your comment in under the wire, Jerky, because it sounds like you've given names to a couple cultural trends that were indeed relevant here and that will have to be kept carefully monitored.

Luckily, on a more personal level, it sounds like Helen has made an effort to move away from darkness a bit -- I'm not here revealing anything she hasn't already tweeted by saying she's been to AA, has lamented some of her past behavior, and has settled down and gotten engaged, so I don't want to dwell on the errors of youth any more than I already have. She'll likely accomplish good, impressive things in the future and remains brilliant even when she's being difficult.

I hope there won't be too many other (up and coming) troubled souls drawn toward that gothy, pseudo-Victorian way of rationalizing the irrational, though -- and that if there are, someone will push back against it who is not quite as rattled and taken off-guard as I, in my very Enlightenment-style bourgeois robot-loving naivete, perhaps was. (I basically reacted like a guy who stumbled on a vampire coven -- though that is not _completely_ unfair of me.)

Ironically, hardcore traditionalism could turn out to be just a fad, though. Problems like anger and interpersonal conflict, by contrast, are eternal.

P.S. On boring, pragmatic note that the pseudo-Victorians would probably consider hopelessly devoid of nuance, it would be nice for the rest of us to have a handy list of which neo-Victorians will be nice to you and which delight in being secret jerks (long story short). Normal people need to navigate this world, too, after all.

Anonymous said...

Wow...just, wow. Funny how the comments span over two years, and I still see/hear/read the contempt. Helen is, deep-down, a good person. Despite all of her short-comings and perceived mental issues (that made me laugh as you clearly don't understand the environment from which she hails, as a whole) she is much like the rest of young folks today, trying to make her way. No one said it was acceptable in most social circles, but she has certainly managed to garner some attention from it, which means, she wins.

Anonymous said...

Its amazing you can drag this for a long time. What moral compass do you have to stand on and continually point the finger? Do you think yourself as a reincarnation of a moral compass? Who set you to be judge and jury? One would expect another human to reflect and better themselves? Do you think you are a reflection of a better human being? or just a scorned ex who is hell bent on hiding your own past boxing matches? Talk about trying to hide ones own imperfectionism. Have a good look in the mirror. Ever heard of reflection and staying silent with relationships from the past? You are a fine example of a dumb arsed man. You may try and hide behind your words. But you are a bonafied wanker for all to see.

Todd Seavey said...

You really need to try to put this behind you.

Anonymous said...

Hah, what a creeper you are. Just saw the CSPAN video, funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you did a horrible job at banging this woman.