to be unhappy, and actually they’re even happier in thenthought that I’m unhappy.n”But at least I know now who the enemy is. He has beenncrushing me, taking away my power; when I loved him it wasna stupid waste, because he collected all the happiness I gavenaway and kept it for himself. Why should I give my approvalnaway? My power?n”Power is happiness; power is the ability to compel thenapproval of others. But there are people who seem to benhappy, creative, and not particulariy powerful They don’tnlike to be elected to powerful committees, or so they say; andnthey seem to neither know nor care how to make ancommittee go their way. What about them? They’re thenworst of all, because they are secretly maintained by thenpatriarchy as a false counter-example to my true explanationnof the nature of happiness and creativity. Such peoplenshould be killed.n”I shall seek out instead the company of those who, likenme, are unhappy, powerless, and unfulfilled, and who knownthat creativity is a hoax. Those people and I are we, and wenwill approve of each other. Together we may be able tonachieve majorities on the committees that the patriarchy hasnso unwisely provided in its effort to present an image ofntolerance and democracy.n”And isn’t creativity really this, after all, this listened-tonand approved-of scream of misery, rage, and rebellion, that Incan utter in the presence of others like me? Isn’t creativitynsimply doing and saying exactly the opposite of what thosen’happy,’ ‘creative,’ powerful people in the patriarchy do andnsay? Who said this creativity was so difficult and mysterious?nAfter all, it’s really quite automatic. All you have to do isnstudy the output of the patriarchy, keeping track of each newnidea and form of expression that they introduce, and thennjust stand it on its head.”nThis is a fictional self-portrait of only the ideal user of thenterm “the patriarchy” (in its loaded or haunted or tendentiousnsense). Many of the intoxicating rewards of the termnwould be wasted on someone who did not fully recalibratenhis or her personality and value system so as to takenadvantage of them. For instance, it might be necessary tonadopt “the” patriarchy’s own imagined contempt for thentask of bearing, raising, caring for, and educating children, antask traditionally regarded as being at least as important andncreative as science, art, and government. (Would it bentyrannical, or merely unrealistic, to expect half of the humannpopulation to go through the sacrifices and disciplinennecessary to be great artists?)nBut the use of the term in this way does tend to persuadenits users to embark on a recalibration of their value priorities.nAnd this reshaping constitutes its peculiar power to transformnthe world into a place of anguished and frustrated rage,nfrom which one rises as a tragic protagonist, eyes filmed withnhot tears, chest shaken by sweet sobs, clad in the streamingnrobes of self-pity, into a new dawn of justified hatred andncertified virtue.nEven without such a full makeover, however, the termncan do yeoman service. There is a roaring trade to be drivennby the opportunistic and sturdy guardians of our educationalnand cultural institutions, who may not themselves benpsychologically equipped for the full benefits of using “thenpatriarchy,” but can profitably purvey its comforts andnDeath of a White Pinenby Paul RamseynWater lessened.nPine beetles reaped.nThe vanished treenInvades my sleep.nNarrative of LightnLight enters the mossnOn the banks of the railroad.nAnd travels the railroadnTo the horizon’s distancenAnd the distant sky.ndelights to those, especially the young and insecure, whoncan use them as they were meant to be used. Others, bynlacing their discourse with an occasional reference to “thenpatriarchy,” can thus cheaply reaffirm their credentials asnbelonging to the consensus, and so enter into the phaticncommunion of the elect. Finally, others yet, who may —nbecause of the vigor, cheerfulness, originality, or basicnhonesty of their natures — be quite immune to the linguisticnsystem dominated by the use of “the patriarchy,” can usenthe term as a casual piece of invective or as a way of puttingnthose whose ideas are somewhat backward in their place.nIrony aside, however, it would be a mistake simply tondeplore the use of the term. Each cultural period has its ownncomplex and diverting absurdities, and its own fascinatingnmorbidities. Where would we be without Dostoyevsky’snNotes From the Underground, even though we have seennthe malice it depicts bear a shiny and venomous fruit in thenGulag? Perhaps we need not rush into a dismissal of the cantnwords, but should watch their beautiful and grotesquenexfoliations with a certain thankfulness that we live in an agenof such wonders. But we need also to be prepared to dealnwith their more poisonous effects. <^nnnAPRIL 1989/23n