I am going to include the entire text of this Twitter thread, because it is just terrible. I want to tackle the underpinnings behind it rather than argue the particulars, because I think the obvious ways this take is bad and wrong are pretty self-evident. Mostly, I want to talk about dualism and how much I hate it.
I’ve gotten a little into PhilosophyTube lately. His recent video on Climate Grief mentions, briefly, that western conceptions of nature place mankind outside of it. To expand on that, I think that starts with our own bodies. The sort of default conception of a person is this mind / body divide, with some people throwing in “spirit” to add yet another category of immaterial self.
As a chronically ill communist: surprise! You are your body, and dualism sucks. Dualism (the philosophy of mind, not the Christian theological tenant of a good and evil cosmology) is the philosophical position you are, at your core, an invisible spirit-Krang operating meat puppet. This pretty frequently comes with the assumption that Krang, and not the puppet, is the most real self. Where the meat is limited, the Krang is not, and so it can be used to push your body beyond its limits.
This belief sucks. It’s bad. It leads to shitty models of chronic illness, mental illness, aging, labor, environmentalism. Anything that requires you to conceptualize yourself as a body in a space and your relationship to that space becomes shitty. There’s no real reason to care about the natural if you are not a part of it. There’s no reason to care about the conditions of your fellow workers if you are a brain in a jar and you are somehow immune to the conditions the person who literally works three feet away from you is struggling with and which you are absolutely subject to. He’s just bad at being a soul! But not you! You can sleep less! You can work harder! And if you get better treatment, well, that’s just how it is! It’s not a completely artificial violence being done to your neighbor which you’re okay with because you benefit! You’re the superior Krang.
I get the appeal of a soul that’s free of a meat prison. At this very moment, I have a pinched nerve in my tailbone that is radiating down to my pinky toe, and nothing’s really helping with it. I’m mentally ill, I sleep about four hours a night, my back’s bad, my stomach punishes me in varied and inventive ways when I am stressed (and I am always stressed). I want to believe my soul has Megan Rapinoe’s abs and doesn’t have to fuck with 3/10 nerve pain. But what might be a comfort to ME, a person whose body teaches me I am profoundly changed by pain and my environment, has different implications to someone who already feels pretty good. They’re just better souls, see? For the already comfortable, it becomes a just-so story about how the powerful came to be powerful.
I want to reassure disabled folks somewhat: I see at least half a dozen commercially successful disabled and mentally ill authors booing this dude. Is there discrimination? Is being disabled harder than not? Yes. I’m not gonna tell you there’s no discrimination . I’m not gonna tell you that having more spoons wouldn’t be much better than having more, all things being equal.
But all things aren’t equal. You choose how long to make pieces. You build your writing support system. You choose when to write. And if they are right– if grit and talent are all that is important, if your point of view is so disposable that given able-bodied person can make you redundant, why do they consistently fucking suck at writing disability? You won’t overcome limitations, but you aren’t replaceable either.
Don’t let dudes like Paul add additional and arbitrary barriers to being “a writer” as if being “a writer” is a spiritual state. “Write regularly” is good advice. “Write daily or you are not a writer” and similar are sacraments to transcendental writerdom. Outward signs of inner writerly graces.
Bullshit and heresy. A writer writes. There is no other requirement.