Saturday, October 24, 2009

"To my Father" by Aaron J Mobley

A litle bit of background information on the author:

I believe he's a Philosophy, women's studies, ethics teacher at Florida State University (I asked once, but I forgot what he said).

This guy is one of the most concise debaters I've ever read in my life. I used to be a regular on a certain Philosophy forum and this guy would straight up shut down people and end threads right then and there (me included).

I learned a lot (in terms of argument skills and actual content) from discussing with him. He's managed to completely change my views on certain things. He's proved me wrong(or given a stronger counter-argument) more times than the few times where I was able to prove him wrong. He was also about as condescending as it gets...which was hilarious - anyone with a slight flaw in their argument would get ripped apart.

Check this thread: to see what I mean. Not only is what he's saying very valid, it's also hilarious how he says it (post #18 on page 1 is key!)

Anyways, dude disappeared off facebook...but here's an essay by him that I found when trying to get in contact with him for Essay help.

It's a great read. It's about fight club, abnormally-high testosterone levels, the lack of a father figure, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and the Marine Corps." It's a really good piece, please check it out.

"To my Father" by Aaron J Mobley

"What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women . . .. I'm a thirty-year-old boy, and I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer I need." These words are from Chuck Palahniuk's novel Fight Club. Tyler Durden is the alter ego, and only known name of the fictional narrator of the novel. Tyler suffers from Dissociative Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Primary Insomnia, and probably a host of other disorders that I am not qualified to properly diagnose.

"Women have caused me nothing but trouble for twenty-one years. That's it, I'm swearing off women . . . at least for a little while." These words were spoken by me, about two months ago. I am Aaron Mobley, a very real former U.S. Marine. I suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and abnormally high testosterone levels (yes, this was all medically verified).

So what do Tyler and I have in common besides similar views on relationships? Quite a bit, actually. Tyler was raised by his mother. His father abandoned them early in his life and only had sporadic contact with his son. I, too, was raised by my mother. She divorced my father early in my life, and he made little effort to further his involvement in my life from that point forward. " If you're male . . . your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?" Also from Fight Club. As you can see, I really connected with this novel.

Let's start with the most obvious similarity: antisocial personality disorder, or APD. APD is, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood (645). Those words are straight from the book, and I have them memorized. I am writing this at 5 a.m.

So neither Tyler nor I gives a shit (I hope I can say that in this paper) about other people or how they should be treated. And not only do we not care, but we also act on that lack of empathy. Pretty sad, huh? The difference between Tyler and me is that I know I have APD, and it bothers me. It sounds odd. Hurting other people doesn't bother me, but knowing that it doesn't bother me does bother me. It's hard to understand unless you've lived it.

Tyler is an insomniac. I sleep about twelve hours a day. Well, some days. Other nights (like tonight) I don't sleep at all. I'm not sure if that qualifies as a sleep disorder. On a week-by-week basis, I get as much sleep as anyone else does. I also eat this way. I'll eat two pizzas in a sitting, and then not eat for the next 36 hours. I'm pretty sure that's not a disorder, just a quirk of biology.

Tyler has two personalities. I have a labile affect and two moods. I'm manic, or I'm depressed. Whichever I happen to be, no one but me can tell because my affect (my observable expression) is often totally incongruent with my actual mood. This is what is known as a labile affect - it shifts rapidly and without reason. That's from the DSM-IV as well, although I learned it from my first psychiatrist, Dr. Cohen.

I have an abnormally high testosterone level. Tyler may, too - it's not really addressed in the novel. This accounts for my aggressive tendencies, and my bad skin. It's estimated that a sizable percentage of those with APD may have similarly high testosterone levels. I don't think it has much to do with it, myself.

That's me and Tyler, or it's Tyler and I - I never know which way is the correct way to say that. But this paper is supposed to be about family. When do I get to the family part? Right now.

As I mentioned, both Tyler and I were more or less abandoned by our fathers. His left. Mine was asked to leave, and never bothered to come back. Either way, our only male role models chose not to be part of our lives. We were left to be raised by our mothers. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to the actual separation.

The book Children of Divorce cites a 1984 study by research scientists W. F. Hodges and B. L. Bloom determined that boys were hardest hit by divorce as demonstrated by a marked increase in behavior problems during the 6 months following the divorce (Twaite 147). This increase in behavioral problems was actually shown to continue for a good 12-18 months, and possibly even longer (data collection ended after 18 months). So it's reasonable to assume that the very act of divorce could account for the appearance of Conduct Disorder, one of the prerequisites for APD, in young males. Strike one for Tyler and I. Poor us.

Other studies have shown that having a same-sex parent is much more important for social development than an opposite-sex parent. Boys raised by fathers showed better social skills than girls raised by fathers. Similarly, girls raised by mothers were much more skilled socially than boys raised by their mothers. Children raised exclusively by an opposite-sex parent were shown to be less mature, sociable, and independent, and considerably more demanding than children of single parents of the same sex are (Twaite 45). Strike two. Tyler and I are behind in the count.

Of course, maturity, independence, and demandingness (is that even a word?) have nothing to do with APD. In fact, people with APD are often more mature and independent than others (DSM-IV 646). I definitely feel that I fall in with this group. I wasn't always this way, however, and developing APD may have been a coping mechanism for my relative lack of maturity and independence as a child. Still, it seems inconclusive. I'm going to retract my previous call of strike two, and call that one a ball, just to give Tyler and I some hope.

Do I hate my father? Dr. Cohen asked me that once. And of course I don't. He didn't hate me, after all. In fact, he didn't care about me one way or the other, until he was dying. "If you could choose to be God's worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose? . . . Which is worse, hell or nothing?" Good questions, Tyler. Most people would come right out with hell being worse. But at least if God hates you, that means he cares what happens to you. You have to care to hate. Indifference means you might as well not exist. So in my father's eyes, I didn't exist, and he didn't exist in mine . . . until he decided to go and die on me. The clock strikes 6.

Suddenly, faced with his own mortality, the man had a son. And suddenly, faced with my parent's death, I had a father. I had a God, and He was dying. Not just dying, but near death. My father died within a month of having his mother contact me. We talked three times, for about thirty minutes each time. Sixteen years, and the man gives me ninety minutes before saying good-bye forever. I may sound angry right here, but I'm not. I'm not even sad. It's that labile effect. Stunted emotions are all part and parcel with APD (DSM-IV 647). I'm just a little pissed, I guess. I'm about as pissed as I was when I came out to the parking garage to find someone had scratched the original paint on my 1968 Thunderbird. These things happen, and it still pisses me off to think about it, but what's done is done.

So my indifferent God is dead. Strike two. What's a young man to do? I did what anyone would do in that situation . . . I panicked. I was a man possessed. I had just witnessed the death of a man who accomplished nothing of more value than fathering a single child in all of his forty-two years of existence. And I was so much like him that it was scary. Maybe my father had APD. Some doctors believe that it may be genetic. I was not going to turn out like dear old dad - not even if it meant moving to Tibet to become a Buddhist monk. I went one step further, and enlisted.

This is where Tyler and I went our separate ways. This is why Tyler ends up institutionalized, and I end up writing this paper for my English class at FSU. Tyler started his own army, and I joined one. The U.S. Marine Corps is about the single most appropriate place in the world for someone like me. The Marine Corps promises you a life of danger, suffering, and sadness. It promises death and destruction. It promises hell. And hell was exactly where I needed to be. Tyler made his own hell. I had Uncle Sam send me there.

The Marine Corps is my family now. The Marine Corps diagnosed me with APD, and didn't judge me for it. In fact, they almost cherished it. The Marine Corps found out about those high testosterone levels, and let me know that it was no big deal. The Marine Corps may just be responsible for my odd sleeping and eating habits, but I don't hold that against them. I'm not on active duty anymore. I'm not even a reservist. I'm a civilian. But I will also always be a Marine. Every Marine is my brother, and every soldier, sailor, and airman is a distant cousin. The Marine Corps gave me a father. The Marine Corps resurrected my God. APD is a chronic disorder - no one is ever "cured" of APD. But the Corps helped me find out what it is, and the Corps helped teach me how to live with it. Grand Slam, baby! That 2-1 count had me worried for a second there.

This essay is entitled "To my Father." It should read "To my Fathers," because it's for all of them. It's for the one who didn't give a shit. It's for all the ones who would've cared if they'd known. It's for the one that made me what I am today. And most of all it's for me, the only man I've ever had around to fall back on when things got too rough. It is 6:30 in the morning, and my paper is done.

Source: (works cited are here as well)

I hope you found it as interesting as I did. MY regular posts/topics are on Thursdays (until further notice), but when I get inspired to write or see something I want to post, I might post before that as well.

On a side note: I've written a couple more pieces and blurbs. I really want to post them, but I'm debating whether or not I should (when writers' block hits me, it goes for days at a time). I'll get a feel for it all in the next couple of weeks and we'll go from there.


- knowledge


  1. not a bad read.

    Charles Bukowski is a writer you might enjoy. I love his stuff


  2. An interesting read, but can it be considered an essay though? I mean, there are a bunch of premises but I don't see any real thesis to it.

    Just curious that's all.

    Stupid question to ask, but curious regardless, have you seen the film "Waking Life"? If not, which I highly doubt, check it out. It's a good viewing.

    - Paolo

  3. @ Matt:
    Any specific recommendations? I can't decide whether to pick a fiction or nonfiction to add to my list.

    @ Paolo:
    It's definitely not a traditional essay, that's for sure.

    Here's his process memo for writing it:
    "This entire paper was written during a single bout of sleeplessness, and I couldn't be happier with the end result. It took me a long time to even come up with a tentative topic for this paper. Family has never really been a part of my life, and so I have no idea where to go. Looking at the finished product, it's more about me than about my family. I hope that is acceptable, because that's all I've got. My living family has little to do with me, and my family's past doesn't interest me. I am about as withdrawn from my ancestry as any human being I've met. My family is all of humanity , particularly those who are like me -- the Marines, the children of the 1980's, the forgotten young men raised in the 50% of failed marriages of the time. So this is what I ended up with. It barely meets the topic requirements, but I think it's a very good paper. I hope you like it, and I would like others to read it as well."

    I just IMDB'd "Walking Life". It looks interesting, Thanks, I'll watch it when I get the chance.

  4. i would first like to discredit the writer of this piece. if you are a marine, a machine trained by the government to do its dirty laundry.. well, you know where i'm going with this, right? and also the self admission of the mental disorders.. so did you write this when you were manic, or depressed? also a-fucking-plus for using a character from a novel that hasn't been around long enough to be paid any literary dues to, let alone use the character as a model of yourself. So what, your daddy bounced and you found the daddy in the marines? how delightful! at least you didn't find the 'daddy' in the local drug dealer, and sell crack at 11 years old. then finding out your mama's hooked on the shit. imagine being 11 years old and selling your own mama crack. i wonder how many disorders come from that..

    this essay is as emotionless, and confused about the lack of said emotions as its APD-afflicted writer.

    secondly, alvin, don't listen to the guy up there. charles bukowski is nothing like that. bukowski kicks losers like that in the chest

  5. ^^^^

    > First off, hahahaha
    Secondly, NAME PLEASE!!!
    Thirdly, I don't think that the character has to be dubbed "a classic" to be relatable to.
    Fourthly, Who is this?!

  6. read anything by charles bukowski
    anything at all

    bukowski is nothing like the guy who wrote this essay at all, (and i never said he was to begin with). He has written mostly poetry. I never really liked poetry, EVER, untill i read his stuff. I didn't see any value in poetry until i heard of him

    I just thought you might enjoy some of his work, it has nothing to do with the essay here.


  7. i have 2 bukowski books that aren't poetry at all.
    o sorry alvin its vlad

  8. Thirdly, I don't think that the character has to be dubbed "a classic" to be relatable to.

    Classic literature becomes "classic" through generations, or even centuries, of digestion and disection by the said generation's sharpest minds. The 'fight club' book isn't a classic, its characters, settings, whathaveyou that goes into a book, are only of relation to ANYONE on a strictly superficial level. Why superficial? Because it hasn't had time to penetrate below the surface. Tyler Durden is more of relation to anyone than Dostoyevsky's's Raskolnikov only because he's from the modern time frame, but it takes a certain amount of finesse to relate to a classic literary model from a novel 200 years old, the amount of finesse that Mr. Mobley lacks. I wouldn't even complain about the use of a modern character if the essay was well-written, but the essay sucks, and this is just one of the reasons why it does.

  9. aphex check out Allen Ginsberg. not quite as gritty as bukowski, but he was an activist/beat poet from the era where that shit mattered.

  10. A syndrome is still no excuse for being an asshole... and funnily enough, you blame it on your mother. I wish I could borrow you my God aka father for the entire childhood, we both would have turned out okay.

  11. I'm gonna have to disagree with you - a disease is a very valid excuse. Have you ever met someone with tourettes? How about an awkward autistic person?

    And I love my mom. I'll always be changing, but I wouldn't say that I turned out horribly at all. I don't blame anything on my mother, by the way.



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