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Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy 
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 Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy

Please use this thread to discuss Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy.



Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
In this section of chapters, J.D. Vance gets into the family side of his school days.

Ch. 4 focuses on Middletown and its social divisions. His portrait of the working class mentality rings true to me. I grew up in a town with two factories, and the working class people I knew took the factories for granted but aspired to more. It was also true that there was a striking division between the children of engineers and the children of welders. The first not only understood how one goes about going to college, but they had the resources to consider carefully where they would go. The second group might think about college but only if they were academically inclined, and they were pretty much limited to the State University options (including University of California, which is pretty academically advanced).

When our factories closed, or at least one of them did, the community did not wither like Middletown because it is a Southern California bedroom community. But I have heard many stories of places where the jobs are leaving and people are trapped in their houses that they can't sell, especially in the industrial Midwest.

In Vance's community there was a lot of lip service to education, but he was unusual in having grandparents who cared about his actual experience of education and were smart and motivated enough to sit with him and get him prepared.

Ch. 5 is more personal, going into the troubles in his family of origin. It begins with his biological father, who gave him up for adoption when his mom moved on to husband number 3. Later we find out that his father was actually a good person, and Vance is suspicious of the stories of drinking and wife-beating, suggesting that his grandmother's social ambitions may have been behind an exaggeration process to make him look bad.

His mother cares about finding a good father, but the culture of fighting is too strong in her. Vance grows up with the awful stress of screaming parents, and it undercut his academic performance. Yet his friends face much the same thing.

There was some fighting in my house growing up. I sort of imagine that it is close to universal. But my parents never hit each other or insulted each other in my awareness. I suspect it is important that couples learn to "fight constructively" as one might say. My wife and I occasionally raised our voices, but our boys never saw anything to make them afraid, I would guess. We were not hostile, even though we were frustrated with each other.

It was very telling, I thought, when Vance said he went from running away and hiding when the fighting started to, instead, sneaking out to listen in fascination. It was like an addiction, he said, and I think that deserves some study. I have heard before that adrenaline can be addictive, and that people do things to get into conflict because they want the excitement.

One of the big fighting topics was money, which is remarkable because his family had two incomes and the total was actually pretty good for his neighborhood. They just did not manage it well. "Life skills" is not a joke - people without them can be in trouble even when things look good.

All this fighting reaches a climax when his mom, who had recently attempted suicide, threatens to kill herself and J.D. over something he said. From that point on he more or less thinks of himself as living with his grandparents rather than his unstable mom.

In Ch. 6 he focuses more on his sister, Lindsey, and his biological father. Lindsey is parentified, as they say among Adult Children of Alcoholics. She does things for him that his mother should be doing, including fixing meals. She is "the only adult in the house" according to their grandfather. But her dreams of recognition for a career in modeling are left hanging by lack of funds (and possibly a scam setup telling many young people they have to get themselves to New York to have a chance at selection).

His biological father begins to repair their relationship, inviting him to idyllic times at his home, with new family, in Kentucky. It turns out he did not reject J.D. but fought to keep a share of custody, but eventually felt the tension was too damaging to his son and so agreed to let him be adopted. The mythology that J.D. grew up with was falsified, which I think came from the same culture of fighting and foolish pride.

Vance has some good discussion of the church life that has stabilized his father's life, and which for a time he bought into. What I found most striking was the prevalence of people who wanted to be thought of as religious but did not actually go to church much, in the South. Though that does not explain Vance's father's experience, it does make sense of phenomena like Roy Moore's career (and the 700 Club.)

In my view, evangelical religion is a lot about respectability and avoiding destructive patterns in your life. It makes sense to me that people in that culture would want to pretend to be respectable even though they know they don't have the life skills to avoid self-destructive patterns. So actually going to church is a negative experience of reminding themselves of what they loathe about themselves, but religion still feels important. (Mamaw, who seems not to have had a church, still reads the Bible regularly, for example.)



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Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:42 am
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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
With Trump's first anniversary, people are trying to come to grips with the bewilderment of attitudes that are in such conflict. One of my favourite journalists is Chris Kenny at The Australian. I thought I would post his article published today in full because it mentions Hillbilly Elegy.

Quote:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/trumps-first-year-truth-gets-lost-in-hysteria/news-story/459ab04d97d46d92698f3e8e535656f4
Trump’s first year: truth gets lost in hysteria
The Australian January 20, 2018
CHRIS KENNY
Associate Editor (National Affairs)Sydney

The visceral and often irrational disdain for Donald Trump displayed by otherwise seemingly high-functioning adults is beyond easy explanation.

Here we are a year after his inauguration and large elements of the media, academia, left-of-­centre politicians, their followers and even many centrists still recoil at the very mention of his name, treating him as a dumb, dangerous and illegitimate President.

It is silly and deluded. It also plays to Trump’s strengths, affirming his claim to be a Washington outsider opposed by the broad political establishment and misrepresented by most of the media. It only under­lines his narrative about insiders resisting his efforts to “drain the swamp” and rejecting the mandate he carries from mainstream voters.

Anti-Trump hysteria has been omnipresent since before his electoral triumph and has not lost any momentum in the full year since his inauguration. From the initial riots and grand conspiracies about Russia deciding the election, to predictions of impeachment and calls to challenge the electoral college, even pussy-hat protests and profanities from celebrities, this is a dummy spit of epic proportions. Remember, pre-election, when the Democrats demanded Trump must heed the result!

Now unsourced and disputed records of private conversations are turned into major international news, Trump’s wife and 11-year-old son are attacked, his every utterance is turned into an outrage, journalists speculate about the state of his mental health and academics publicly wonder whether it is Trump or Kim Jong-un who presents the greatest risk of thermonuclear war.

No matter how wrong the commentators are about his nomination chances, electoral chances, economic impact or tax reform prospects, they continue with wild, spiteful and juvenile attacks.

This is not only an American phenomenon. It is mirrored in other Western liberal democracies, including our own. Australian commentators wrote him off before the election and expressed alarm at his victory.

Beyond whatever he achieves as President, Trump might prove useful for the clarity he brings to the jaundice in the political debate and the growing chasm between mainstream political concerns in western liberal democracies and the predilections of the people charged with policy development, implementation and analysis.

He is not my cup of tea. In the lead-up to the 2016 US election I expressed my disapproval of Trump, suggesting in television commentary that American voters were presented with an appalling choice between a deeply-flawed, establishment Democrat candidate, who promised a continuation of the timorous Obama administration, and an anti-­establishment Republican who was gauche, inexperienced and unpredictable.

On balance, largely because of how volatile Trump might be on foreign policy issues, my sense was that the US and the world would be best served by electing the devil it knew in Hillary Clinton. It seemed safer to stick with orthodox political awfulness rather than to risk awful unpredictability. Yet voters were attracted by that very unpredictability. They wanted to shake up the system. The attraction of Trump as a disrupter was obvious, especially for working (or under-employed) Americans away from the wealthy, liberal cities of the northeast and west coast. It was strange so many commentators gave him little chance given his poll deficit was often margin-of-error territory.

Illuminatingly one of the people to comprehend why Trump might succeed was his ideological antithesis, the hard-left documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. He went back to Flint, Michigan and found working families feeling isolated and forgotten. He produced a prescient film warning Trump was tapping into something. Anyone who has read JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy will understand the demographic and socioeconomic forces at play.

And to see how Trump worked this vein, you only need to read his campaign speech in Michigan in August 2016.

He implored people who had voted Democrat all their lives to think about what decades of voting Democrat had delivered for them. He accused the Democrats of a “bigotry” that saw broken African-American communities “only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better life”.

“Hillary Clinton would rather provide a job to a refugee from overseas than give a job to un­employed African-American youth in cities like Detroit who have become refugees in their own country,” Trump said. He promised a “new American future” where American workers would always come first. If Moore could see the power of this message and how it would resonate in traditional Democrat heartland, why couldn’t the pundits? Or Hillary?

Clinton did not campaign strongly in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, so-called “blue wall” states that would have secured her the election. The way she turned her back on these states was as unfathomable as how she referred to potential Trump voters as “deplorables” who might be Islamophobic, misogynistic or racist. While Trump appealed directly to the blue-collar constituency, Clinton insulted them.

We have seen since his inauguration how Trump has stuck to this mission statement. Yet the political/media class hatred for him seems as intense now — and as confused — as it ever has been.

To be sure, he is easy to dislike. Brash, egocentric, abusive and petty, he is a personality type we all recognise but have seldom, if ever, seen rise to such heights.

We have heard private conversations and other accounts of him speaking cruelly and offensively about women, immigrants and foreigners. His political rhetoric has been crass and divisive. While an effective communicator, his lexicon is almost monosyllabic, and his style of diplomacy is, well, undiplomatic. Yet if we are to judge him solely on matters of personality and style we would be practising exactly the sort of superficiality his critics assign to him.

It is a mistake to think his supporters necessarily are fond of his personality or style. They love Trump for the pain he causes virtue-signalling liberals whose post-material concerns are a world away from their daily objective of making life better for their families. We have to judge Trump by his performance. His temporary immigration bans aimed at “extreme vetting” for immigrants from troubled Muslim countries have been stalled by state courts but are likely to be enforced after Supreme Court consideration. His tax reform package is monumental — it will be the basis of his success if it supercharges the US economy. Trump withdrew the US from the folly of the Paris climate agreement.

On foreign policy he has imposed decisive action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. He has forced NATO to focus on burden sharing, placed Iran under increased pressure as its citizens begin to defy the theocracy and, crucially, forced stronger action by the UN and China against North Korea, triggering tentative but positive signs in this long-running and fraught power play.

The mainstream media has given him virtually zero credit for any of this. Transparently, the political/media class accused Trump of taking the world to the brink of nuclear war by standing up to Kim, then wrote him out of the script when North Korea turned up for its first talks with South Korea in more than two years. They have ignored the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq as diligently as they averted their eyes from Obama’s red lines in Syria. Trump’s critics fall for his rhetorical tricks, delivering his messages for him. His Mexican wall is more a difference of building materials and language than of border-­security policy. Yet the exaggerated opposition gives him clear differentiation on a strong issue. Likewise, knee-jerk media defensiveness confirms his claim of partisanship. When serious journalists say Trump threatens freedom of the press because he accuses media of “fake news” and bias, they simply demonstrate their antipathy. Suck it up.

Don’t forget how the political/media class hated and sneered at Ronald Reagan. They were wrong, of course. Reagan had more admirable qualities, experience and substance than Trump, and this is not to compare the presidents — perish the thought — but there are parallels in their treatment. Modern Republican presidents tend to be mocked, Democrats lauded.

Trump is reviled for bringing the Oval Office into disrepute because of horrible, boastful, sexually aggressive comments secretly recorded a decade before he ran for office. Yet Bill Clinton’s cigar escapades with a young intern in that very office — and the way he and his wife denied the claims and undermined the reputation of his many alleged sexual harassment victims — are forgiven.

This week’s hysteria has focused on Trump allegedly referring to some nations as “shithole” countries. The controversy hinges on contested versions of private meetings and amounts to little more than a hill of beans.

Sure enough, we saw serious analysis and commentary wondering whether this meant Trump was racist. In Australia, on SkyNews, we had the absurd spectacle of an RMIT University professor reacting with the conclusion Trump “is a textbook racist, as a matter of fact”.

You might think Joseph Sira­cusa would be a little far from the action to draw such a hard and fast conclusion, but it gets worse — he claims to know Trump’s mind: “We all know what he thinks, no matter what he calls those African countries, we all know what he meant.” This partisan ranting provides a clue to what is going on.

In the age of identity politics, the left seeks to declare its virtue via the identities it praises and those it deplores. Obama — whatever his actual achievements — is lauded on identity grounds; Trump is the white, wealthy and Waspish antihero.

Trump could be a success as President and could yet be a disaster. It is too early to tell. But there have been achievements and, for all that is distasteful and unorthodox about his style, he has remained faithful to his pre-election posturing. His critics need to be less shrill. The Democrats need to spend less time shrieking about Russia and put more effort into unearthing alternative policies and candidates.

Across the globe rational assessments of his actions and results will matter, not emotive and personal denouncements.

Perhaps those who hysterically condemn Trump as a means of ­expressing their own virtue need to consider that if their aim is to portray themselves as more tolerant and urbane than the US President, they might be setting a pretty low bar.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:06 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
For a column whose point is to accuse a group of overreacting, exaggerating, being ridiculously thin-skinned, and ranting, this one goes pretty far into all of those itself. Suffice it to say I cannot take seriously any column which approves of withdrawing from the only international agreement we have against climate change. "Post-material" concerns indeed.

I remain convinced, as I have been since election day, that Democrats need to get behind solid policies to rescue the working class. This is not easy, but clearly if they pull it off, the road is open for them to specify the nature of the solutions to the other big problems which have been stuck in the impasse. Lack of imagination by Dems is a sorry mess (though I still like it better than lack of integrity by the others.)

Even more sorry is that the old solution to declining communities, which is to move to a different place, will once again work now that the economy is back on an even keel. So the resentment will still be there, causing divisiveness to thrive, but there will be no blame for those failing to act.



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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
.
When we need the advice of an associate editor from Australia... Come to think of it, we'll never need the advice of an associate editor from Australia.

Mr. Kenny should worry about "Victoria's first female Aboriginal MP receives death threats over Australia Day comments"[/b]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-20/a ... n=politics

And leave Donald Trump to Americans who know enough to be embarrassed and frightened by him. Or better yet, let's leave him in the grasp of women. You know, like the ones who marched all over the country and parts of the world yesterday.

There are so many errors, inaccuracies, transgressions and absurdities in Kenny's column that it belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records in the "Most blunders in the fewest words," category. And to print such offensive drivel on the same day women are protesting... it beggars belief. Mr. Kenny, one of the things those women were protesting was:

"When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. I did try and fuck her, she was married." And [Trump] says that when he meets beautiful women he feels able to “grab them by the pussy”.

This is on tape.

So look to the beam in thine own eye, Mr. Kenny, and let us deal with Donald Trump.


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Last edited by Litwitlou on Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
I've seen from others a bit of this strategy that Kenney uses to heap scorn on liberals while claiming political objectivity because, after all, he's not even that much of a Trump supporter, recognizing all of his faults. Or so he tells us. But I wouldn't want to hijack this thread with a fuller criticism of his column. Maybe Robert would like to repost it in a Trump anniversary thread.

There are 16 Middletowns in the U. S. I was born in one of them, in Connecticut, a Middletown that lives up to its name geographically. Vance's town isn't in the center of Ohio. Vance relates that a round-trip between Middletown and Jackson took 10 hours in those days. It's around 200 miles and could be done in around 7 today. But the distance impressed me, as I thought of Vance's grandparents making the drive often on weekends. My mother's parents weren't that much farther away in upstate New York, yet it was a rarity for us to make that trip to visit. My grandmother also seemed rather formal, so just dropping in wasn't a thing we'd think of doing. The family culture was much different from Vance's. Nobody got beaten or threatened with death in our family, but we were much less close. I'll accept my situation as relatively fortunate.

Vance begins by telling us that the year of his birth in 1984 was also the same year his pawpaw cast his only vote for a Republican, more of an anti-Mondale vote than a pro-Reagan vote. Sounds a lot like our last election, in which many of us had revulsion for one candidate, but not much liking for the other who got our vote. Generally, from the Great Depression through the 80s, the Democratic party was the party of labor. Not any more. Some political scientists attribute the disaffection to a sharp divide between New Deal liberalism and contemporary liberalism which is seen to revolve around identity politics and creation of a client class.
Harry Marks wrote:
...focuses on Middletown and its social divisions. His portrait of the working class mentality rings true to me. I grew up in a town with two factories, and the working class people I knew took the factories for granted but aspired to more. It was also true that there was a striking division between the children of engineers and the children of welders. The first not only understood how one goes about going to college, but they had the resources to consider carefully where they would go. The second group might think about college but only if they were academically inclined, and they were pretty much limited to the State University options (including University of California, which is pretty academically advanced).

When our factories closed, or at least one of them did, the community did not wither like Middletown because it is a Southern California bedroom community. But I have heard many stories of places where the jobs are leaving and people are trapped in their houses that they can't sell, especially in the industrial Midwest.

In Vance's community there was a lot of lip service to education, but he was unusual in having grandparents who cared about his actual experience of education and were smart and motivated enough to sit with him and get him prepared.

It's an interesting task to sort out the effects of industrial decline on the population vs. the sometimes poor habits Vance says were brought from the "native culture" in Appalachia. He feels he needs to be upfront about the mythology of work in Middletown--that people profess to work hard, or want to be able to, but they actually don't work that much and are just making excuses for their own laziness. But then Vance says that blaming laziness is too easy, and that cultural tradition may account for ingrained attitudes against work. Kentucky folks were not exactly models of industriousness and self-reliance. So, maybe what we're left with is a situation in which, in flush times in Middletown, weaker work ethics would still get you by, but in hard times they leave you exposed to the more unforgiving economic conditions.

I think it's something indisputable that, as you point out, the positive expectations that parents and teachers convey to kids have a huge impact on their course of life. This is true even in J.D.'s case, with his grandparents pushing him in his later schooling, and even with his mother's influence early on, as great a train wreck as she turned out to be. He probably was boosted more than others, despite the real trauma he experienced. Imagine going through as ordeal like the the one he tells of in Chap. 6, mom saying she's going to kill them both by crashing the van.
Quote:
His mother cares about finding a good father, but the culture of fighting is too strong in her. Vance grows up with the awful stress of screaming parents, and it undercut his academic performance. Yet his friends face much the same thing.

There was some fighting in my house growing up. I sort of imagine that it is close to universal. But my parents never hit each other or insulted each other in my awareness. I suspect it is important that couples learn to "fight constructively" as one might say. My wife and I occasionally raised our voices, but our boys never saw anything to make them afraid, I would guess. We were not hostile, even though we were frustrated with each other.

It was very telling, I thought, when Vance said he went from running away and hiding when the fighting started to, instead, sneaking out to listen in fascination. It was like an addiction, he said, and I think that deserves some study. I have heard before that adrenaline can be addictive, and that people do things to get into conflict because they want the excitement.

I witnessed some verbal fighting, too, in the family, but was always very frightened and saddened by it. That is indeed "very telling," that repeated conflict came to have a fascination for J.D., like a kind of athletic contest.
Quote:
One of the big fighting topics was money, which is remarkable because his family had two incomes and the total was actually pretty good for his neighborhood. They just did not manage it well. "Life skills" is not a joke - people without them can be in trouble even when things look good.

What is it that plants the notion of futurity in people? Rates of savings might be good indicators of a future outlook. By that standard, a good chunk of the middle class--not just the "working" class--has lived without regard for its future needs, saving little for retirement.
Quote:
Vance has some good discussion of the church life that has stabilized his father's life, and which for a time he bought into. What I found most striking was the prevalence of people who wanted to be thought of as religious but did not actually go to church much, in the South. Though that does not explain Vance's father's experience, it does make sense of phenomena like Roy Moore's career (and the 700 Club.)

In my view, evangelical religion is a lot about respectability and avoiding destructive patterns in your life. It makes sense to me that people in that culture would want to pretend to be respectable even though they know they don't have the life skills to avoid self-destructive patterns. So actually going to church is a negative experience of reminding themselves of what they loathe about themselves, but religion still feels important. (Mamaw, who seems not to have had a church, still reads the Bible regularly, for example.)

I thought Vance's handling of his father's commitment to his hardline religion was brilliantly done. Here Vance brings in the conclusions of sociologists who have found that religious associations have marked positive effects on adjustment and happiness. We non-religious may want to dispute that, but I fully accept these findings. What Vance begins to see, after becoming pretty wrapped up in this stripe of evangelical culture, is that, as Jonathan Haidt would say, morality binds and blinds. The strictures against were more salient than the urgings for. Being this type of Christian meant for Vance a separation from too much of humanity. I hesitate to say this, knowing how it sounds, but Vance was too intelligent not to grow out of his initial capture by his dad's faith.



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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
DWill wrote:
Here Vance brings in the conclusions of sociologists who have found that religious associations have marked positive effects on adjustment and happiness. We non-religious may want to dispute that, but I fully accept these findings. What Vance begins to see, after becoming pretty wrapped up in this stripe of evangelical culture, is that, as Jonathan Haidt would say, morality binds and blinds. The strictures against were more salient than the urgings for. Being this type of Christian meant for Vance a separation from too much of humanity. I hesitate to say this, knowing how it sounds, but Vance was too intelligent not to grow out of his initial capture by his dad's faith.


Opinions vary. According to Today.com, people of faith over 50-years-of-age in several European countries were significantly happier than non-believers.
https://www.today.com/kindness/study-re ... ess-t39036

On the other hand, Psychology Today says the combined results of several studies prove the difference negligible.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cu ... e-us-happy


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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
I am really enjoying the author's smooth writing style and descriptions of his family as they relate to different events in his life. It brought back memories of my own childhood listening to my parents fighting after they put us kids to bed. Sometimes I would lay with my ear to the floor of my bedroom, and if I couldn't hear well enough that way I would stand at the top of the stairs and listen to the drama as it played out. It was pretty exciting as I recall. They fought so much (yelling, slamming cupboards, etc) that I guess I was desensitized to it. It seemed like all the families in my neighborhood fought loudly because I can recall swinging on the swingset listening to the neighbors fight.

I don't know how the author could possibly turn out 'normal' after the life he had growing up. That episode where his mom was going to deliberately crash the car with him in it to kill them both could cause PTSD in even the strongest person. Then he was indirectly encouraged to lie about it so his mother wouldn't go to jail - ugh. All the men his mother brought into his life left when he just got close to them . . . and that lie his mamaw told about the reason for his real father giving him up for adoption - it makes me sick when I think about all the lies falsely generated in childhood that people believe about themselves and others. These lies cause so much emotional pain in this world. I'm glad he was able to work through that lie with his father to alleviate the hurt. His grandparents and his sister were his anchors in life - that was a saving grace for him.



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Post Re: Ch. 4 through 6 of Hillbilly Elegy
Jan_wow wrote:
It seemed like all the families in my neighborhood fought loudly because I can recall swinging on the swingset listening to the neighbors fight.
I am still working on what all that fighting means. I know my parents saw life as a kind of battle, including against each other if necessary. But they never seemed attached to their fighting. It was always in the service of some goals. Vance's mother seems to me to be addicted to it, like she is addicted later to substances.

As I imagine it, she finds frustration building (over debt, over her work, whatever) and in the light of that frustration her husband of the moment just seems more and more inadequate. If I remember right, she "solved" her first marriage by stepping out with Vance's father. In the later marriages as well, she can't seem to help blaming and criticizing and generally acting as if she thought that the man was the answer to her frustrations. Despite evidence to the contrary.

Jan_wow wrote:
I don't know how the author could possibly turn out 'normal' after the life he had growing up.
Well, I don't think he did. He seems to be writing this as much for a kind of therapeutic coming to terms as for help to the rest of us to understand hillbilly culture.

I saw J.D. Vance on CNN one evening. He seemed normal in the sense that I did not expect him to pull out a gun and threaten the other panel members. Yet he also seemed very cautious, very reluctant to put forward ideas or interpretations. He seemed, if I may say so, the good side of the culture of the Marines that I knew many examples of when I was growing up in San Diego. (Later we see that Vance "grew up" when he joined the Marines.)

Jan_wow wrote:
That episode where his mom was going to deliberately crash the car with him in it to kill them both could cause PTSD in even the strongest person.
And yet, to the extent that Vance still has a "problem" I don't see it as PTSD but as an almost desperate need for structure. The problem of his youth was not so much the extreme distress as the chaos. It isn't entirely healthy when a totally hierarchical organization like the Marines becomes your lifeline because they tell you the right things to do and make you do them. More on that in the coming chapters, I expect.

Jan_wow wrote:
Then he was indirectly encouraged to lie about it so his mother wouldn't go to jail - ugh. All the men his mother brought into his life left when he just got close to them . . . and that lie his mamaw told about the reason for his real father giving him up for adoption - it makes me sick when I think about all the lies falsely generated in childhood that people believe about themselves and others. These lies cause so much emotional pain in this world.
I get the sense that the lies undermined his sense of responsibility deeply, and he is working hard to come to terms with the contradictions. He is clear that he loved his Mamaw and depended on her, but also clear that she tried too hard to fight for everything, including attacking people far beyond any nastiness they deserve. Since the fight was for him, he doesn't want to be in a position of criticizing it - in his heart he feels proud for all the toughness of his family's code of honor - but with his head he knows it was pathological and damaging.

We all have "stuff". Most of us have some chaos and some feelings of neglect or manipulation from our families. I tend to think we are meant to live lives of peace and patience, but I certainly don't always manage it myself. I worry that the "emotional intelligence" approach, of using understanding to overcome the chaos, is too isolated and too independent. Rather I am looking to reconciliation: if I may say it, I think God wants us to learn a peaceful, patient way through engagement with our loved ones, even if it has to start by disengaging enough to get some perspective.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Jan_wow
Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:36 am
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