Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Deserts

I tend to agree with late 19th century fictional American philosopher William Munny, who said "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

Seems to me nothing we are and nothing we can do makes us deserve another human being - whether we're talking offspring, or soulmate. The best we can hope for is a chance to luck into; the best we can do is justice to the chance that comes.

Every person and every relationship in my life, bonded to me by blood or by love - honestly, I lucked the fuck out as far as I'm concerned. I hope I have the gratitude and humility necessary to make good on the chances I've been given, which I do not and could never have deserved.

Of course, I can see why we might want to criticize parents (or lovers, or spouses) who have done a terrible, grossly negligent job. Who shat on the chance they lucked into - the chance to be possibly, the most important person in another human being's life.

But that's not saying the rest of us, or any of us, deserve such a chance. It can't help us to treat such chances as if they were based on merit, or entitlement. Anyone who gets a chance like that is damn lucky. Anyone who gets that chance should be grateful for the opportunity to prove they can do right by the person who now depends on them. Ultimately, to have a child, or to have a love, is to hold a sacred trust. Such a trust as that can never be deserved. It can only be earned.

Just being here on Earth is a chance we cannot claim we deserved. None of us (as individuals, at least) deserved at all to be born. Our unique DNA was the result of some one damn sperm out of thousands, beating his ballmates to the finish line in a mad scramble. Any of us could have easily been edged out, by some other individual - a completely separate, distinct individual. Someone to whom the individual we actually are would stand in a relation far more like sibling than self. Which is only one of the billions of accidents that led to any of us being here!

No person can claim they deserved to be here. Those of us who happen to show up, best we can do is try to use the life we have to earn our hold on the place we carved out for our life, and on the trusts which we have been lucky enough to be given. Best we can do is justice to the chances we undeservedly got. As noted Kiwi rabble-rouser Dave Dobbyn put it, "You pay for your life with your life."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Heavily Customized, this Open Letter could be very suitable for many purposes!

Dear public SERVANT:

That's right. You serve ME. GET IT? You were { ELECTED / APPOINTED } to serve me, to represent my interest and that of my fellow { DISTRICT / GROUP / WHATEVER }! There may not always be agreement as to what that best interest is, but your sworn duty is to do your best to see it, to serve it and to uphold it!

So I'd love for you to tell me just where you get off with this { LATEST OUTRAGE SPECIFIED }. Are you or are you not aware that government's ONLY just authority derives from the consent of the governed? Did you never know that in a free society - in a society where LIBERTY is - libery demands that government can make no act of prohibition, confiscation or compulsion except where government can show compelling cause for the necessity of that act? And what about the necessity of your act? What cause can you show? What is your justification for this { LATEST OUTRAGE SPECIFIED }? YEAHHH! BULL STUFF! You have none! You're just { lining your pockets / kow-towing to pet causes & special interests / "showing your ass" / other }! Or if not, then what's your explanation? YEAAHHH SURE. Bull stuff.

You make me { SICK / disappointed }.

I long for the days when a public servant could stand up proud to do their due diligence dutifully and fulfill their charge to the best of their ability on behalf of those in whose name they have been entrusted with authority. When humility and excellence were the bywords of government. Those days NEVER EXISTED. But someday maybe they could exist. I have hope for that.

You shit all over my hope, { sir / ma'am / recipient's first name / OTHER (such as PAL or BUD) }

Respectfully,

Friday, November 01, 2013

Character Sketch: THE GREEN SPOOK (a Fiction Friday Exclusive!)

Background: long sales meeting. I drew a picture of this bad-ass HERO. As will be obvious to anyone who is a fan of old pulps, golden-age movie serials and-or radio suspensers, he's very loosely based on deceased film critic Gene Siskel.

Catchphrase: "NOBODY knows what I'VE been up to! AH HAHAHHAHAHAHA hahahaah HAHAH heh heh, eh...!!!"

Description: "The culprit was last seen fading around the corner wearing..."

HEY! Wait! Maybe his name should be the GREEN CULPRIT. Hm.

Or maybe the Green Culprit could be his spunky, sarcastic teenage girl sidekick. Don't worry, she's probably "of age." Who knows with this guy? He's one of those mysterious anti-hero types, always in trouble with the law!

Um. Back to Description.

Outfit:

- Deep green slouch hat & trenchcoat / pinstripe suit (charcoal green) / midnight green gloves

- Red kerchief, completely obscuring lower half of face.

- Does not seem to be a robot or space alien

- Appears to be a human being

- Sepulchral white face (makeup? Skin condition?), badly pock-marked a la Bryan Adams but otherwise unremarkable

- Odd eye-obscuring black...makeup? mask? goggles? All 3?

Sometimes it is all 3.

Skills:

- language skills. Has demonstrated comprehension of many, many languages (at least in written form, warning signs, directions, instructions on facility walls etc.) plus comprehension of multiple spoken languages. Only ever heard to speak English (no accent) and Japanese (detectable french accent, but this is suspected to be a deliberate subterfuge!)

- stealth. It would be hard to argue with this one. The only place anybody ever seems to catch this guy is on film, or in an eyewitness account of somebody laid up in the hospital with pretty ugly-looking injuries.

- hand-to-hand combat. Would be an understatement. This dude has displayed a fluid mastery of more martial arts than you can shake a stick at! Definitely does employ recognized styles, forms and techniques - he's not freestyling; he really seems to enjoy execution with perfect form in a known mode. Yet unless you knew what you were looking for, he does it with such ease of transition that he could easily be assessed as having "no style." To trained eyes, though, he's been seen to fight multiple combatants in protracted battles using a different, recognizable martial art technique with each of limbs - at the same time - sometimes keeping each style limb-consistent, seemingly for his own edification and amusement when it doesn't particularly aid him, other times when hard-pressed, he's been seen switching freely between a panoply of techniques, tumbling through all of his limbs in rapid succession, and with every appearance of having been tailored to the opponent! That's fucking nuts, people. However, despite this seemingly indefensible level of crossdisciplinary mastery, he has on occasion (okay, on one occasion) been shown up on a bad day as detectably less competent than the single best practitioner of one specific martial art, at that martial art. This was the only instance anyone has ever borne witness of the Green Spook "fighting dirty," and in fairness, the sole eyewitness also got both eyes blacked, a couple rib-punctured lungs and a nasty scaphoid fracture for her trouble. Testimony indicates "you should see the other guy" and "I would have won on points" - name withheld, no need to embarrass anybody.

Known Equipment:

- triple-action triple-mag submachine gun (full auto and semiauto settings): tracer-action paintball (glowing green, possible tracking or other further chemical-based subaction), hot lead (possible further subaction AKA armor-piercing or hollowpoint) and blanks (possible subaction ?? - SUPERLOUD blanks; airballs {fire loud and far but burst with only tiny paintball-esque impact, deploying variety of smoke/gas}). He has ungodly facility with this sidearm, not only in terms of marksmanship (naked eye or aided by the gun's built-in laser sight or it's a slide-in optical/nightvision-capable scope) but also with switching settings on the fly. He has been witnessed switching between types and varieties of ammo round as many as fifteen times during a single, continuous burst of automatic fire - and with every appearance of matching round to bulls-eyed target to desired effect against that target. That's crazy.

- HUGE GREEN cape - deploys in mysterious fashion from either beneath or as a separating top-layer of the trenchcoat. It IS NOT itself, the trenchcoat - the trenchcoat remains visibly in place when cape is deployed. Cape can be used a number of ways - to parachute, or MAYBE as a glider of the parasail-variety (does not function as rigid or semirigid wings). Also detachable as a trap device or net (corners have novel fastners on them to fix in place on available surfaces), or whatever other creative way you might use a really huge bulletproof tear-resistant cloth. NOTE: it is unclear whether there is more than one cape. His cape has at times demonstrated water and air permeability, but at times it has been shown air-permeable only, at times liquid-only, and at times seemingly nigh-impermeable.

- high-tensile long-range tractorgun (can be clipped to bodyharness, or deployed with optional backfiring anchorcables, at need)

- smaller, shorter-range (approx 300 meters with accuracy) high-tensile wire. Deploys detachably from necktie rigged into body harness. For longer range shots, he has been seen to use a tube-like necktie accessory of not-entirely-clear design.

- twin high-impact, rigid-yet-semiductile-under-certain-kinds-of-stress riot batons. Bright green with a thumb-trigger on the sidehandle-projection to alter to midnight green, incandescent green or seizure-strobe green. He straps these (handle downward) on quick-release thigh holsters.

- usual array of hand- and leg-binders, the obligatory retractable/extensible lassorope/bullwhip, smoke bombs (varying effects, including all the same ones as the submachine gun "airball" rounds, plus a dense and amazingly copious BRINDING BRIGHT GLOWING GREEN FOG bomb!), ninjarangs that flash a weird green hypnotic/seizure strobe light as they fly - somewhat arresting effect! Known to freeze reflexes of the intended (and usually actual) recipient. Et cetera.

- No flying armorsuit though. At least, none that has been presented tactically.

- katana and wakazashi (both back-scabbard mounted - through slots in the trench, the handles can pop or retract as called for)

Superpowers:

~ skin impervious to all piercing attacks, body highly-resistant to all impact regardless of velocity or magnitude, body completely indifferent to any frequency, amplitude, voltage etc. of electromagnetic force or radiation, as well as to all burns whether chemical, heat, or cold.

~ has functioned for improbable times underwater and in hard vaccuum, though whether this is a superpower or some kind of air supply is not known

~ has demonstrably behaved as if he is a huge fan of Air Supply, which could in theory be used as a distraction attack. This perhaps should come under "weaknesses," but as it's the only known one and a little on the shaky side, it didn't seem worth the separate section.

~ strength on a level of ten-maximum fury Hulks (I refer to the trademarked Marvel Comics character The Hulk purely for the sake of a well-known fictional comparison. No infringement intended, Marvel! -- but guys? You know what though? Your green dude's a pussy compared to my green dude. And my guy's as calm and cool as his own reflection in a lake, while he does it).

~ two hundred times faster than the fastest Super-Saiyan possible within or beyond the laws of physics known or unknown

- just kidding. He has no superpowers. That you know of.

Drawing:

Like I said, I got one, but I need to scan it in. I spent too long typing this out! Fuck.

Later on I'll do it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

(I keep wavering between Three and) Four Invincible Principles of Absurd-Degree Sincerity

You know, all day long I do my usual thing - a jarring mix of the Utterly Absurd (and no way to take it otherwise) and the Utterly Sincere (and no real way to dispute the denotative content of the sentiments advanced, which are generally obvious goods and needs), with very few sentences or statements hitting in the middle of either of those two poles. If I go spoken word, tone of voice keeps everyone on top of the mix without much if any confusion. There's no tone of voice in written word, but I believe I do as strong if not a stronger job of making it plain in writing which statement is Absurd, and which statement is Sincere.

But in case anyone ever has a doubt, these principles are mine:

1. Assume a commonality of interest.
2. Believe the other person may be sincere.
3. Accept that the least objectionable motive or interpretation may be the actual motive or interpretation.
4. Ask sincere questions only.

A sincere question is one where you are willing to hear more than your own answer.

The above are purely my own principles. They are not virtue but pure personal preference, own comfort zone, not for pushing on others. Still, if anyone is ever in any doubt as to whether or what I mean - on anything, anything at all that I've said, stated, asked - I'm always happy to take ANY question. Quote the questionable part and ask, and let the above four points ground your attitude soundly in where I'm at, where I'm coming from, and where I will be answering you from.

You do the world and yourself a favor when you assume the possibility of the best. Cynicism: if it doesn't kill you, it will make you very weak. Worse, your cynicism, which is your assumption that ill-earnest is the norm, is also your blessing upon every single individual who lives and acts in ill-earnest. Hypocrites, the insincere, the corrupt - each of these is positively thrilled that chumps like you, self-congratulatory cynics, all go your jaded, superior "can't fool me" way calling corruption, hypocrisy, and insincerity the norm.

Your cynicism does nothing to protect you from the corrupt, the hypocritical, the insincere. It does however excuse their attitudes and acts.

Consider whether I am naive, when I say this.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

skit b. "Overreacts in Ringing Tones of Oratory to Sulphurous Odor in the Washroom after Too Much Dungeons & Dragons Playing as a Paladin the Night Before (Age 12)"

/whiff

"A stench of brimstone."

"Why, I fear some foul majick has transpired! Some loathsome spell-ceremony, of finding, or binding, or conjuration, or dwimmering, may hast been enacted in this seeming-foul chamber! The signs are plain to be smelt upin mine nostrils!"

Pause, ostensibly for effect.

"Oh woe! That should such diabolical rite mayhaps hath been enacted to the detriment or besmirchment even of some blameless, innocent, captured captive virgin's very virginity! As hast been oftimes aforetimes seen, in such lamentable cases! Wherever the dark, black, eldritch taint and trace of an occult hand hast been betrayed into the light - oh, bright bastions of goodness and pure light, let it not be so that it hath been so here!"

"Mercy, I cry! Dear kindness, have mercy and spare us the stain of demon doings! Spare us the blot and splurt of devilish ichors and the hideous spectacle of be-horned, be-fanged monstrosities sporting upon the nether hind buttocks and other unspeakable tender parts of our poor and defenseless innocent virgins! WON'T SOME ONE THINK OF THE VIRGINS??"

At or about this point I began to get my ass kicked by the dude who'd created the stink in question. Now considering he was one of my stalwart crew of adventurers, you'd think he could have simply played along but no - he had to break character.

An undisciplined hack, that guy. Some barbarian, can't even take a little ribbing about smelly yet otherwise perfectly ordinary and unshameful bodily matters. Either that or maybe he was a virgin, and thought I was kidding him on that topic. Hm.

I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that we were both virgins. So, unlikely that was the source of ire.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Once I get started on party ideas!

Once I get started on party ideas, some of my ideas are horrid and others would work pretty well! When planning a party, it's great to get creative, and not as good to get too creative. Having some sense to step back and consider likely outcomes helps. For example, you might think "why not try having a severed human hand lying on the buffet table, at the end in the corner?" Don't. People will freak out, call the cops - your party will be pretty much ruined.

Instead, put napkins there! Perfect touch.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Quote of the day: ambitions towards brevity.

That title should have more cleverly been "ambitions towards concision." And now without further adieu, the quote:

"I've been meaning to experiment with brevity for years."

A maxim for me, as has been observed.

"Hard to get ahold of, easy to work with."

Only OK?

How am I doing, I'm doing OK! "Just OK?" "Not great?"

Correct! You're goddamn right not great. I'm doing o.k. I don't have to be "doing great." I am great.

I am great at rest.


So cut yourself some slack some time, why don't you huh? When you already are great, you don't have to be doing it. Not all the time, at least. Sheesh!

I'm doing okay. For me.

And how are you?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Well, What's The Good of Having a Point?

Well, what's the good of having a point? There's no reason to have a point, any more than there is to having a reason. Do you find meaning in such things? To me, it defeats the purpose.

I mean, if you already do happen to have a point, fine - no harm in that. Some find a point or two along the way adds poignancy, piquancy to life! And any time you find you do happen to have a point, that's fine. Just watch out where you stick the sharp end, and you'll be okay. But if you find yourself without one, well, who needs it? If there's no point, well, so be it. There's no point to having one where there isn't one - and no sense making some big search for one, either.

People go through life bristling with all these meaningless points that they pick up, hither and yon like compulsive point collectors. For what? What for? I guess they think it puts them ahead.

Well, maybe in some bizarre game that keeps score using points, it would.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blade Runner. Any Version: Deckard a Replicant?

To me it makes the movie weaker and stupider. It pretty much ruins the central redemptive act moment in the movie, when Roy shows mercy and saves his human enemy's life. It shows the human (Deckard) that maybe humanity has become less human (or: more inhuman) than these beings they treat like disposable tools.

Roy is a warrior, and he tried as hard as he could to win his fight - taking no prisoners and sparing no sacrifice. But now, with no chance left to win and nothing left to gain, he proves himself capable of mercy towards his inhumanly pitiless enemy. In terms of human qualities of mercy, compassion - Roy ultimately proves himself a better man than the actual man. "'More human than human' is our motto." - Dr. Eldon Tyrell. Indeed.

Absent that distance - Deckard for humanity, versus Roy as a replicant - if its just robot vs. robot, the film's climax becomes a juvenile M. Night Shyamalan "ooo we're all robots" "sci fi" "plot twist" - a twist that isn't remotely interesting, compared to what richness you lose in terms of the film's themes.

But even if you like the twist, or even if the themes mean nothing - just in terms of the film's story, Deckard being a replicant makes no sense. Based on what we're shown in the film, Deckard is considerably less durable, less fast and strong than any of the replicants. He's not remotely comparable, physically, to what Tyrell Corp has been putting out since four years ago. If he's a replicant, he's no Nexus 6. Or else he's a deliberately weak, slow and fragile Nexus 6. But why would the cops expect a substandard skin job to be able to air out Roy Batty, superhuman and of genius intellect? Plus his fearsome off-world kick-murder corps? "Oh we gave him jaded blade runner memories and a noir sensibility...that'll even the odds." Is this the sort of hunch cops in any hard-bitten universe will play?

If he's a human being, it makes damn good sense. The cops drafted him because, well, he's the motherfuckin' blade runner. Best there ever was at airing out skin jobs. He's got the magic, his killer instinct (retirer instinct?) has proven superior to any replicant ever made. But even though Deckard's the best, that special magic guy, it's also clear that blade running is a duty that human detectives are fit for. Or was Holden a replicant, too? Is Gaff a replicant? Maybe everybody's a replicant! "Ooooooooooo," but thanks, I don't think so. Being a blade runner is a shit job, but so is most police duty. Boss cop can assign a detective to do shit job. They bring in Deckard because he's known to be good at it. They expect him to deliver or die trying. Either way, that's a bulletproof plan. If he dies, he dies. Big deal, cops aren't any worse off. He was little people anyway, they'll assign whoever's left to the next lucky detective. But they have good reason to hope Deckard can retire at least a few of these rogues. It does make sense to bring Deckard in - if he's a human.

Now. Suppose Deckard's not a real, human, expert, lucky-touch blade runner. How could bringing in a replicant, especially a faulty, weak replicant, and tricking it into thinking it *IS* a blade runner help the cops? Worst case now is Deckard goes off the reservation, and you have another replicant running free! You've made your problem worse not better.

Deckard being human is the only way it makes sense the cops might make the call to let them both go - him and Rachael, both. Bryant and Gaff surely know he's utterly lost his taste for the business by now, but he's an ex-colleague. He held up his end. He got rid of the only replicants who stood to cause trouble. Bryant and Gaff look the other way because they know Rachael's no more a threat in Deckard's care than she was in Tyrell's.

If Deckard were a replicant, why would he even be allowed to leave the scene after Batty's death? It clearly wasn't so he could go kill Rachael.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tips on Domesticity #8: Try Good Habits!

It's important to keep your house in order. Orderly, and hopefully part of that order is cleanliness! For goals like these, nothing beats a plan but sometimes, oft even, plans gang agley. They just do.

So what do we fall back on? Good habits. My friend, sometimes you just can't put that failsafe five phase clean the whole place masterplan into operation. Time constraints, laziness, or procrastination (that magic moment where laziness can turn any amount of time into "shit! A time constraint!"), it doesn't matter what gets in the way. Point is, you can't launch the operation.

But so what? Establish good habits, and you won't slide far off the mark. Example: I make a habit of mopping the kitchen floor every time I get distracted while starting a sinkful of dishes. Try to find natural habits like these, that practically suggest themselves as this follows that! Cultivate those habits, and soon you'll find you're halfway to ahead of the game by the time you can launch operation full-on clean house.

Hell, enough good habits in the rotation, you may never have to. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd better go mop the floor. And get started on those dishes!

A load of towels.

I hate doing towels. I hate doing towels! It's like a wasted load of laundry. There's nothing in there for you to wear!

It doesn't increase the availability of your wardrobe.

I mean, it's not like you can be getting ready to go out, "Man! Nothing's clean - oh sweet a towel!"

I mean, I guess you could go out that. But people will consider you pretty much open season, fashion criticism wise. Come on, a towel? You might have to admit that's even worse than non-exercise sweatpants! Certain people, they feel that for certain of your choices, they have every right to point, and offer a critique. Well do they? Do they have the right?

Yeah, they do. You went outside, so they do. Grow up and do the laundry, and if you still have nothing suitable - why not try Ross? That's where I got this shirt! Also pretty much all my towels.

Yeah, yeah, I know the towels need to be done. The luxury of a beautiful fluffy warm clean towel, fresh out of the shower, buffing your nude skin all rosy - beat that for luxury! Of course, that's the reason why we do towels.

But in terms of how we principally conceive laundry - as a process and a ritual, almost spiritual, almost miraculous, that renews and redeems what we've worn, and returns it to us as if like new...!

You have to admit a load of towels leaves you feel short-changed on that score.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy

To quote Horatio, "There's more stuff going on than that philosophy of yours, buddy!"

That's my pal, Horatio. He's a straight shooter, but a bit pretentious.

Antiarchy Take 2: Shorter, But Still Far Too Long

I'm not saying I'm against anarchy? But it's a horrible system.

Stop laughing. It really is. An anarchist is - look, I'm not going into Greek and Latin roots, here. I'm no scholar, and it shouldn't be necessary. We know how these words are used. Whatever the antecedents and etymologies, today at least it's clear (clear enough, to me at least) that -archy is rule. And it's a pretty good bet that -ocracy is some kind of system of government.

Etymologies are more amusing than educational. Often, etymology serves to remind us how little past meaning pertains to their present common and accepted usage. History is sheer trivia, empty of value, save for its much-bruited and threatened-of-repetition "lessons" - every trite and rote fucking one of which exists abundantly apart from and are fully seperate from it.

But let's focus on meaning, huh? We come near the crux.

Anarchy pretty much opposes rule and systems of government alike: "An-" meaning: none, or the absence of; make no bones these people want none of governance. They want the absence of it. They want to end it. Abolish it! Whether it may come in the form of an -archy or an -ocracy (and I'd be interested in talking to an anocracist! I suspect he or she would be fun to talk to, and confused on key points), the anarchist is going to tear down the system or the ruler, whichever is attempting governance.

Now an -archy, pretty clearly, need not involve a system at all. Witness monarchy - in its classic formulation, monarchy is a rule by one supreme potentate, and while perhaps descent by right line to the potentate's heirs, in order, is not inherent in the concept, it's damn sure inherent in the concept of Darwinism. Supreme power is a supremely powerful adaptive trait, after all! It will certainly increase that bastard king's competitive advantage and opportunities to breed, should the king so choose. Supreme power is heavily selected for, in Darwinian terms. The king's genes are going to benefit! At least, assuming the king doesn't bollix up the inherent power benefit by mucking around in his own gene pool. But even that is a direct result of attempts to consolidate power and consolidate conferred benefit onto one's own genes - whether present in one's own genome, or one's kin and/or mate's genome.

With these kinds of suspect practices going around, it's no wonder these anarchists can't stand oligarchs, potentates, hegemonies, tyrannies, hell. I bet some anarchists are even against paradigms. Almost all of models-of-rule are subject to a lot of the same kinds of temptations and power perversions, albeit each in altered form.

What's not clear is whether the anarchist's solution is going to work at all, let alone create improved conditions. The anarchist seeks to abolish rule entirely, and substitute some kind of voluntary commonhood of man or (hopefully, one hopes) man and woman, or better put men, women and whoever else, all together now with solidarity in common cause, for common weal and against the demagogues! Vigilant for and ruthless towards the tyrants that may arise, who seek to appeal to, put fear to and otherwise subvert and convert the power base (which of course shifts at the whim of the consent of the governed). Seduce the body politic to the support of the tyrant's and demagogue's aims. Their goals. Their programs. Their power.

The anarchist wants to destroy that power.

And that's just absurd. It's impossible to destroy the actual power, and futile to attempt to destroy its structures. There must needs be effective mechanisms to channel and wield said power, or else the power is rendered impotent, wasted, dormant - but not neutralized, no! It is made more dangerous. That power remains coiled, ready to lash and buckle like an earthquake the moment it is finally marshalled and aroused! Power lying around without structure or restraint or check or balance or system to direct and use it is as deadly as an unfallen avalanche. So easy to touch off - so ready and waiting to be whipped up, and sent roaring in any direction, for a talented demagogue. For a tyrant. Why can not power be destroyed?

Power consists entirely in the consent of the governed. Didn't you know?

In practice, anarchy seems to devote its energies to railing against rule, against power structures, calling for it all to be torn down, so that only then can anarchy be tried. This seems like a bit much to ask. I don't know; you tell me. Maybe I'm missing a stitch, but the anarchist's seeming real target, the anarchist's real object of vitriol seems - not power, so much as the perversion of power; not rule, so much as systemic misrule. To combat these evils seems a slam-dunk great good, doesn't it? To go beyond such combat of abuse, to seek past exposure of and opposition to corruption and rectification of error, and make the destruction of innocent structures one's aim - innocent if used well, I mean! And in any case, surely open to good use, and amenable to improvement? This call to needless excess, bereft of benefit and chock-full of evident cost and risk, seems not only dangerous, but childish in a person with any education. To which nearly all anarchists seem to at least pretend.

Anarchists are dipshits, plain and simple. Either that, or the given anarchist defines their aims or stance in a way that does not seek to abolish rule, or to abolish all power structures - as if the high call of Anarchy could be satisfied by "Let's abolish only some power structures!" It's true some anarchists do call for this sort of thing...and they call themselves anarchists. Shameful. Those anarchists are less dipshits than pussies. They should rather find a new word to describe this much softer stance, instead of undermining so shining and idealistic a badge as anarchy. Wot?

Which is why I'm an Antiarchist. Or if the governed prefer, an Antiarch.

Rule must be opposed. We must cut at its path at every turn, not hampering it, so much as slashing it where it hurts. I mean where it hurts progress. Where it hurts weal. Where it harms human dignity. Cut it there - and cut that part off, be it finger, hand, eye or head, yet - recognize it will grow back instantly! And you must expect the next replacement finger, hand, eye, head on the way may be worse. Or it may be better, but that vacuum will not last. And you may therefore need to direct the next in your neverending series of swift strikes to a different spot! As the electorate pulses and continues to spew new parts into the towering golem of Government Embodied, whom you've just more or less, well, cut down to size, or cut in to shape, or cut to suit, you may suddenly start, and stop. And recognize. You may suddenly see something in it that is worth not merely a pause in the attack, but a wary respect. You may lower your blade, snap a stance and salute - with upraised fist. For the thing now fits its purpose. Its purpose was always worthy. Our foe is not governance, but those who rule. The worst will turn to misrule when they sense their public is no worthy opponent for them.

To paraphrase The Tick, I don't want to stop rule. I want to fight it.

Spoon.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Found My Political Position: Antiarchy.

I'm not saying I'm against anarchy? But it's a horrible system.

Stop laughing. It really is. An anarchist is - look, I'm not going into Greek and Latin roots, here. I'm no scholar, and it shouldn't be necessary. We know how these words are used. Whatever the antecedents and etymologies, today at least it's clear (clear enough, to me at least) that -archy is rule. And it's a pretty good bet that -ocracy is some kind of system of government. I mean to be clear here: I couldn't give a shit what the etymologies were. These are amusing, not educational. Etymology is trivial and of no real utility to meaning! We've seen meaning often enough flip a bitch 180 degrees, right in the middle of a word's history. Etymology doesn't even pretend to aid meaning! All it does is give one a certain appreciation of how little the past meaning of many words pertains to their present common and accepted usage.

Fun stuff, though! For sure. It enriches the appreciation of language, much as a VH1 behind-the-artist profile may - in the view of people who have an appalling idea of the permanent and transcendent value and importance of a masterwork - enhance the appreciation of some work or body of music, for instance, produced by that profiled artist. As if the artist can possibly be anything like as important as the permanent and enduring masterwork! We know what a "masterwork" is. Masterwork status is strictly contingent upon said work's proved and continuing permanence. Status reviewed indefinitely, status revocable instantly upon irrelevance. I hope you people do know what art is. It ain't that shit made out of sticks and scraps they dig out of archaelogical sites. That's "folk art," but I digress.

Which brings us back to history. History is sheer trivia, nothing more. Empty of value, save for its much-bruited and threatened-of-repetition "lessons" - every trite and rote fucking one of which exists abundantly apart from and are fully seperate from it. History is trivia. And trivia is fun. But let's focus on meaning, huh? Meaning lives now, and these usages are apt. We were talking about anarchy; please focus.

We come near the crux.

Anarchy pretty much opposes rule and systems of government alike: "An-" meaning: none, or the absence of; make no bones these people want none of governance. They want the absence of it. They want to end it. Abolish it! Whether it may come in the form of an -archy or an -ocracy (and I'd be interested in talking to an anocracist! I suspect he or she would be fun to talk to, and confused on key points), the anarchist is going to tear down the system or the ruler, whichever is attempting governance.

Now an -archy, pretty clearly, need not involve a system at all. Witness monarchy - in its classic formulation, monarchy is a rule by one supreme potentate, and while perhaps descent by right line to the potentate's heirs, in order, is not inherent in the concept, it's damn sure inherent in the concept of Darwinism. Supreme power is a supremely powerful adaptive trait, after all! It will certainly increase that bastard king's competitive advantage and opportunities to breed, should the king so choose. Supreme power is heavily selected for, in Darwinian terms. The king's genes are going to benefit! At least, assuming the king doesn't bollix up the inherent power benefit by mucking around in his own gene pool. But even that is a direct result of attempts to consolidate power and consolidate conferred benefit onto one's own genes - whether present in one's own genome, or one's kin and/or mate's genome.

With these kinds of suspect practices going around, it's no wonder these anarchists can't stand oligarchs, potentates, hegemonies, tyrannies, hell. I bet some anarchists are even against paradigms. Almost all of models-of-rule are subject to a lot of the same kinds of temptations and power perversions, albeit each in altered form. What's not clear is that the anarchist's solution is going to work at all, let alone create improved conditions. The anarchist seeks to abolish rule entirely, and substitute some kind of voluntary commonhood of man or (hopefully, one hopes) man and woman, or better put men, women and whoever else, all together now with solidarity in common cause, for common weal and against the demagogues! Vigilant for and ruthless towards the tyrants that may arise, who seek to appeal to, put fear to and otherwise subvert and convert the power base (which of course shifts at the whim of the consent of the governed). Seduce the body politic to the support of the tyrant's and demagogue's aims. Their goals. Their programs. Their power.

The anarchist wants to destroy that power.

And that's just absurd. It's impossible to destroy the actual power, and futile to attempt to destroy its structures. There must needs be effective mechanisms to channel and wield said power, or else the power is rendered impotent, wasted, dormant - but not neutralized, no! It is made more dangerous. That power remains coiled, ready to lash and buckle like an earthquake the moment it is finally marshalled and aroused! Power lying around without structure or restraint or check or balance or system to direct and use it is as deadly as an unfallen avalanche. So easy to touch off - so ready and waiting to be whipped up, and sent roaring in any direction, for a talented demagogue. For a tyrant. Why can not power be destroyed?

Power consists entirely in the consent of the governed. Didn't you know?

In practice, anarchy seems to devote its energies to railing against rule, against power structures, calling for it all to be torn down, so that only then can anarchy be tried. This seems like a bit much to ask. I don't know; you tell me. Maybe I'm missing a stitch, but the anarchist's seeming real target, the anarchist's real object of vitriol seems - not power, so much as the perversion of power; not rule, so much as systemic misrule. To combat these evils seems a slam-dunk great good, doesn't it? And I'll add this: to go beyond such combat of abuse, and exposure of and opposition to error, to seek to destroy innocent structures - innocent if used well, I mean! And in any case, surely open to improvement? This call to needless excess bereft of benefit and chock-full of evident cost and risk seems not only dangerous, but childish in a person with any education. To which nearly all anarchists seem to pretend - or do they not? Anarchists are dipshits, plain and simple. Either that, or the given anarchist defines their aims or stance in a way that does not seek to abolish rule, or to abolish all power structures - as if the high call of Anarchy could be satisfied by "Let's abolish only some power structures!" It's true some anarchists do call for this sort of thing...and they call themselves anarchists. For shame. Such anarchists are merely pussies, rather than dipshits. They should rather find a new word to describe this much softer stance, instead of undermining so shining and idealistic a badge as anarchy. Wot?

That's why I'm an Antiarchist. Or if the governed prefer, an Antiarch. Rule must be opposed, cut at its path every turn, not hampering it so much as slashing it where it hurts. I mean where it hurts progress. Where it hurts weal. Where it harms human dignity. Cut it there - and cut that part off, be it finger, hand, eye or head, yet - recognize it will grow back instantly! And you must expect the next replacement finger, hand, eye, head on the way may be worse or it may be better. And you may therefore need to direct the next in your neverending series of swift strikes to a different spot! As the electorate pulses and continues to spew new parts into the towering golem of Government Embodied, whom you've just more or less, well, cut down to size, or cut in to shape, or cut to suit, you may suddenly start, and stop. And recognize. You may suddenly see something in it that is worth not merely a pause in the attack, but a wary respect. You may lower your blade, snap a stance and salute - with upraised fist. For the thing now fits its purpose: and its purpose was always worthy.

To paraphrase The Tick, I don't want to stop rule. I want to fight it.

Spoon.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Comparisons are odorous

If I were to say all human opinion has equal weight, that could explain why those who truck in bullshit typically dispense a good-sized pile, whereas gold is dispensed by the nugget.

Confidence

I don't have secrets, only confidences.

A confidence is what happens between two people, and doesn't happen to be anybody else's business. The default thought here is, what would be the reason to tell this? Or, if questioned directly on it: questioner! What is your claim on this knowledge, again? If idle curiosity, then I don't mind declining. Your innocent question was only idle curiosity, after all! How could you mind my respectful decline? After all, there are no "too personal" questions, only a too personal answer - but that would be the answerer's fault. They were asked, not coerced. The principle "grow up" applies.

Now, if there's a reason cited - okay! Let's weigh our options and the first is, I'll be happy to tell person A that you're asking, that the reason you give (which I'll share) seems reasonable to me, and that I'm going to tell you. Unless of course person A has a strong and specific suggestion, such as "I just don't care for it. That reason doesn't seem very compelling to me."

Which of course ends up in an impasse, where I have to go back "hey buddy - no dice. You're welcome to ask her yourself?"

In practice I don't end up with any conflicts of interest, I find.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Approaches To Question-Answering Masterclass. #1: "Would You Have Sex With Me?"

"Well, at the end of the day, the answer to every question that starts 'Would You' would have to be yes. Because unspecified, 'Would You' encompasses a quantum infinitude continuum of every conceivable hypothetical - and you can't fight those! That would be 'fighting the hypothetical.' That's not quite a logical fallacy, but it's definitely not done. So one must concede, at the end of the day one would have to admit the answer to your question 'Would You Have Sex With Me' would be: 'Yes. I would.'

Under certain conditions, you understand. Whatever those may be - surely there are throughout all the possible universes of possibility, certain conditions wherein I would have sex with you. Just as an easy for instance, suppose we were living in a universe where you were a very skilled, very accomplished rapist. Then let's assume you do a thorough job, stalk, lie in wait, pounce - you got me! Incapacitated, there you go. Under those conditions, certainly, there I'd be, having sex with you. It's clear that would be the case. A very unpleasant example, but to illustrate a point sometimes you have to rig the conditions so that people can see, oh, yeah, okay, there are conditions where that could happen. Awful, horrible conditions.

It's actually very cool and useful to be able to inhabit the hypothetical! Once you can fully throw yourself into any worst-case scenario, you end up quite hopeful and optimistic about regular, actual life. Also, you pretty thoroughly figure out what you'd do in those scenarios. So you're pretty much ready-as-you'll-ever-be, just in case. And bonus - you're not really worried, right?! It's not gonna happen - right?

BOO YAH! SO WHAT IF IT DID!? You're prepared! See how that works? There's literally no downside! It's seriously, probably, almost surely not going to happen, but if it did, so what; you're set, see? Because you already know what you'd do. Or at least, you know what angle of attack is your best-laid plan. And sure, we all know how those tend to work out, but who cares - are you a child? Yes, we all know life's a bitch, yawn, nobody's invincible, tell me another story like that, grandpa. Point is: to be able to fully inhabit a hypothetical is a fearsome and masterful talent to have, with arguably, no conceivable downside. It's a skill to cultivate, if you can. Tends to just puncture the hell out of the dread of whatever posited inevitables or far-fetched dreadfuls you might have handy. That's a side tip.

To wrap up our main point, and to answer the question, definitively and for this universe, please. Let's cut out the chase here, ok? Ready for this? Ready for the real, real-world answer? Here it is, with neither further ado nor apologies.

It's not the end of the day. Ok? It's a very long damn way from the end of the day.

The correct answer is 'No,' and for my own personal preference, I'd follow it up with some sincere and relevant-to-the-asker remark about how complimented I am."

Coming up on next week's edition of Approaches To Question-Answering Masterclass: "Are You For Real Or What?"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Get The Flag Out Of The Pledge.

You know what's seriously fucking weird? The idea of pledging allegiance to a flag. Yes, of course they do add in the "...and to the Republic for which it stands," but why even put the flag in there at all? Who cares, the flag. Piece of cloth! I mean, it's old, and it's glorious, I KNOW. I love the thing, myself - I'm a lover of banners, sigils and symbols! And the power they have to carry meaning. I love that! But to pledge allegiance to it? It's a bizarre thing.

Swearing an oath to protect or uphold the Constitution, now, that's a pledge with some fucking meaning to it! The Constitution does more than stand for something. It enumerates rights. It lays down guarantees. It's a sheet of paper, maybe, but its words pin down what is best and to the greatest benefit of all - it is an anchor, not a pennant. It doesn't just flap in the breeze. To pledge allegiance to a FLAG? ABSURD!! Might was well say, "I pledge allegiance to Air Force One, to Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial, and to the Repulic with which these things are generally associated..." WHO DOES THIS? Who pledges allegiance to a symbol? Far more meaningfully these days, in a cynical sense we might indeed stand with hand on heart, and declare: "I pledge allegiance to the Almighty Buck, and to the Republic by whose full faith and credit it is backed..."

You know? You know what I'm saying? Are people feeling me on this one? Just flip the two, and see how dumb it sounds to even bother to include the flag in there. "I pledge allegiance to the Republic of the United States of America, and...also to the flag, which is used to represent it visually..." What does that add? What does that add?

The flag does NOT belong in the pledge.

Look, even if you want to say "Hey buddy, the use of flag here is pretty clearly intended as metonymy" - nice try! You're still so off-base, there, you might as well be trying to play cricket on a basketball court. THAT is how off-base you are - FIGURATIVELY. Because if it's true what you say, that the flag is clearly meant as metonymy, then the shout out to the Republic is just-as-clearly redundant.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fantasy Football Epiphanies #1

OH MY GOD

"FANTASY FOOTBALL" TAKES PIECES OF ALL DIFFERENT TEAMS AND COMBINES THEM TOGETHER INTO A PASTICHE.

IT SHOULD BE CALLED COLLAGE FOOTBALL.

Best and worst thing about that is, I can't even Google to confirm whether others have previously had this "epiphany." Because apparently, there are approximately umptybajillion instances of people who are fans of college football - football teams fielded by and representing institutions of higher learning - yet these fans can't spell "college."

There's something kind of funny about that.

Found My Philosophy! Literalism.

Let's try this out. Literalism's not commonly described as a philosophy, but I think it could be and in fact, I think it's mine. Check me on this. The Oxford Dictionary of American English defines literalism as:

n. the interpretation of words in their most usual or basic sense, without allowing for metaphor or exaggeration. 2. literal or nonidealistic interpretation in literature or art.

Sorry, I couldn't find my American Heritage. Had to settle for the ol' built-in Oxford American - but the above seems a solid, perfectly serviceable definition to me.

What, then, is a philosophy? In its most usual or basic sense, I believe a philosophy is a system that lays out how one should best approach reality, or how one should best live life.

Literalism as a philosophy, then, is simply to adopt a literalist attitude towards not so much a word, nor art, nor literature, but towards life itself. As a strategy, the Literalist chooses to not "read in" to people's actions and words, but rather to first and foremost accept them at face value. To proceed as if people mean to communicate clearly - to proceed as if people are sincere, and mean you to know they are sincere. Certainly, it is a fundamental requirement of Literalism to question, where there is doubt as to the literal meaning! But it is no part of Literalism to ask a straight question, get a straight answer and then deny it is possible the answer is true.

To adopt Literalism as your preferred system for engaging in reality, for living life, you assume clarity is the goal, and not duplicity. You make a decision to interpret the words and actions of others using the most usual, most straightforward, most basic sense. I mean basic here like Lloyd fucking Dobler basic. Literalism is not naivete. It is a willful decision to risk one's trust, for so long as enough doubt remains to make trust possible. To make the choice not to assume and project all manner of ulterior, nefarious motives on the words and actions of others - even after being hurt.

How is this your best approach, exactly? Because these projections and assumptions of maliciousness are things you can hardly be certain of anyway. They rarely end up settling on the real culprit prior to the damage done. They usually, finally take the form of bitter cynicism, skepticism and doubts about humanity in general. Such vague and vaguely directed doubt and mistrust can not help or protect you. It will almost certainly deprive you of the beautiful renewal of human connection, far more than it ever saves you from hurt. The Literalist is well aware that some people are dirtbags, but as a Literalist, I choose to accept the person in front of me as, in principle at least, not a dirtbag. And I act on that principle: best efforts, good faith, unless and until it's clear that the principle has in fact been violated. Not by suspicion, not by doubt, not by distrust, but by actual dirtbaggery.

How is this my best approach, again? Because if instead I assume in principle that you could be or most likely are a dirtbag, and I found my approach to you on that, the amount of real protection this affords me is negligible. But what I miss out on is the size of the entire universe behind your eyes, which only you've seen and which only you can describe, and which I will never now get to know.

Anybody who thinks that last part was metaphor or exaggeration...step off. Who'd you think you're talking to, here.

Monday, September 02, 2013

I'm pretty sure this is now how my tsatsiki recipe goes.

It's been worked on a lot, over the years, but this gave the killer result so let me get it down.

Ingredients:

*Four lbs. of yogurt, drained. I use a coffee-filter lined colander.
*One foot-long seedless English cucumber, peeled (the skin), then shaved using the same vegetable peeler (rotate, cutting away like sharpening a crayon), then chop the pile of shaved cucumber - pretty coarse, you just don't want any huge long shavings.
* garlic. Nine cloves. One of the cloves can be a small one if you prefer less. Crushed, then chopped coarse to fine, depending on your preference.
* fresh mint, about ten to twelve leaves
* fresh dill, about three to four sprigs' worth. Just use the dilly bits. Strip out the stems.
* dried mint & dried dill - a good two-three pinches of each, spread right over the pile of fresh dill and mint leaves, then chop the whole pile of fresh and dried herbs together finely.
* olive oil, four tablespoons
* lemon juice, three tablespoons
* white vinegar, two tablespoons
* salt. Some, but not too much. A decent amount.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine.

Use as a sauce for grilled meats, as a dip for dippy items (pita bread triangles - a classic application). It also makes a nice salad dressing, but that's kind of weird.

The Four Principles of Right Professionalism (Revised)

1. Assume a commonality of interest that benefits both, and act towards it.

2. Accept that the best possible motive or interpretation of another's words or actions may be the true motive or interpretation, and act accordingly.

3. Question as need be. Ask only honest questions. An honest question is one for which you are prepared to accept more than your own answer.

As you can see, there's really only three of them. It was originally laid out as foundation, interpretation, question, action - later on it got up to as many as five or six points, but I think it works best as laid out here, with action tied to foundation, and with action tied to interpretation. There was originally a point about sincerity, about accepting the other may believe what they say is true - really this falls under point #2.

Also, it's kind of a joke to call these principles of Professionalism, at this point. They work even better for life in the encounters where you're not getting paid.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tales of Business Woe #1: beware the feeder


The copier ate my originals. And they had ink signatures on them.

Oh, man.

I got them out the other end - they were stuck, I pulled them loose as carefully as I could and then - just look. Macerated, torn, crumpled, all but digested, but oh okay. I guess it is recoverable.

This will not mar the accord. I will be able to smooth, flatten out, scan, then clean up the digital rips without altering a jot of language - who is to know the difference? And nothing at all shady about this.

But somewhere, in the back of my mind, in my cabinet of ink originals, this thing is going to sit. This contract is going to look so dumb, if they ever ask to see it again! It will look - what? Deliberately demolished! Smooshed, halfway torn in half and a big corner off, floating separate in the clear cellophane envelope we use to keep it together.

It will look like we're the kind of outfit who is like "got one signed! A sacred agreement - HERE'S HOW WE TREAT THESE!!"

Man, I hate what this piece of paper, looking like this, says about me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm an Istist. I practice Ismism.

There it is. Pretty much.

What The Heck Was I Going On About In This Years-Old Draft? #1: Modernity Vs Modernism

I think it depends on whether one is talking about modern as in modernity or modern as in modernism. Big difference, really. Plain old modern, modernity - that is just as you say: the up-to-date way of doing things in the world, and in whatever sphere. But "modernism" was a movement in art, culture, philosophy, and psychology obsessed with modernity's impact, and with debate over the direction modernity should take, in disparate fields. As a particular school of art and culture, it's about as "modern" as apple pie with a scoop of ice cream is a la mode. ("of the current fashion")

Modernism hit during a time when humankind was on a powerful upswing, in many ways. The Enlightenment had given a shiny new coat of varnish to science and rationality; religion's death grip on public policy had been significantly weakened, if not broken; monarchy's hegemonic hold was falling by the wayside left and right (to revolutions of better or worser sorts). Literacy and literature were ascendent. Even medicine was beginning to get a clue! Industrialism and technology were transforming the way we work, communicate and travel. Naturally, each of these little revolutions had its downsides (industrialism's came in for the biggest share of angst) - and so naturally modernism, obsessed as it was with modernity's impact, was a movement that embodied both an optimistic and a critical strain. Modernism had a particular morbid fascination with alienation, supposedly caused when beings who "naturally" are attuned to old ways and slow pace are suddenly plunged into our bewildering array of color, sound, speed and smoke.

Oh, alienation is real! To be sure. But the idea that modernity is the cause of it is idiotic, as should have been immediately apparent. These fools didn't read the ancient Greeks? Or Ovid? Augustine, for Christ's sake? No, they just wanted to gum their lips and go gaga over the trains and smokestacks and oh my god what's to become of us now that wool-stretchers are being thrown out of work by automatic wool-stretchers and wow how impressively modern and emo we all are, look how tall and squarish our buildings are.

Pathetic. Childish.

Sometimes I think modernists invented nostalgia. But no, that's not at all true - nostalgia is a constant, just like alienation is. Human nature doesn't change. Particular, human attitudes towards change don't change. They just get clothed in new fads. Perhaps it would be better to say, modernists invented The Nostalgia Crisis.

In short, modernism is dated and quaint. Modernism's concerns seem incurably fusty to modern eyes. The stuff that modernism ballyhoo'd as spectacular advance seems now as ho as hum gets. We expect leaps of progress now, the way the olderns expected flowers in spring. The bad stuff that was decried back then, now seems either silly (much of the moral hand-wringing), or just a necessary cost that if we work hard enough, we can mitigate (pollution is an evergreen).

From the forgoing, modernism sounds a bit foolish, but harmless overall. Alas, it was not harmless. The real, enduring legacy of modernism was in art. Because modernism was not only obsessed with the impact of the new, and the clash of the old and new. In art and culture, modernist critics drove modernist creators to fetishize newness itself. Or more accurately: to fetishize novelty. Novelty of conception (novelty of art theoretical conception, as dictated and defined by art criticism) was enthroned, not merely as art's highest virtue, but as art's purpose. The plastic arts - painting, sculpture - had been pinnacles of culture! Their highest aims, nothing less than truth, beauty, the ennoblement of the human spirit! Modernism changed those virtues for a low, grubby goal: "We've seen this already. Show us something new."

Can it be believed that artists accepted this?

They EMBRACED it. They thought the trade looked great! Art critics offered artists legitimacy without fetters, and a smartsy, complicated explanation - anything the plebes didn't "get," it's their fault! The philistines. You just keep giving me new versions of art theory to write about, smartly, and I will make you look smart - and relevant. Art took that deal with both hands, and on clacked the shackles. Art was enslaved, made subordinate to art criticism.

Modernism is the moment when that happened. Modernism is when art crowned art criticism king, and was repaid in drudgery and blood sweat. Art criticism brutally whipped its subjects onward: "Show me something new! Your works that do not advance art critical theory mean nothing! Produce ever-more-meaningless, worthless works, just so long as some novel technique or conception is employed!"

Modernism's obsession with novelty has eaten art (and itself) alive. It's left a very interesting corpse, perhaps. For there were masterpieces produced along the way! Works of truth and beauty that did ennoble, even working within the oddball and utterly misconceived modernist constraint. The method may have been bankrupt, but there were masters at work in it: so masterpieces were inevitable. And each of those individual masterworks lives forever, as any truly great work of art is timeless and immortal. But at what cost, the method. Art itself, put at the disposal of novelty, made slave to criticism, has been first starved to death by modernism, then taxidermized, put on exhibit, and corpse-whipped - by postmodernism. Even the most idiotic and trivial new approaches and theories have been found out, and mined dry. Nothing to build on there. Not for artists who still remain convinced, hypnotized, that the only thing worth doing is to push some grubby little art critic's envelope for him.

After art critical theory exhausted modernism, postmodernism turned to criticism itself as the next form of art: art as the means of criticism. Art as commentary upon art, and upon modernism. Meta-art. This didn't take long to get stale, either.

Perhaps with first novelty and then snarkiness exhausted, truth and beauty may come back around? I'm not holding out much hope. People's faith in the new is inexhausted. Creators are busily working new media dry, and will remain convinced that novelty is the signal virtue of creativity until they finally tire of binding and cutting their feet and stunting their growth just to fit into shoes small enough to walk down the smaller and smaller avenues that remain "unexplored."

Anyway. I did and do like modernity. Modernity is as fresh and current today as today is!

Modernism, I've got a criticique of, around here someplace. If I ever get around to putting it down in definite form.

But tell us what you really think, dogimo!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All Clean Before You Were Ready to Be

Do you ever have so much good, hot soapy water that you wish you had more dirty dishes to wash in it?

Can We Agree to Disagree?

CERTAINLY!

When I was born, or when I realized I had been, at least (and all that that entailed), I agreed to disagree with the universe. Or anyway I agreed with myself that I disagree with the universe.

So we're already there! On every point. Let's start from there! Start from disagreement, nothing acrimonious mind you just an acknowledgment that we came from widely separated places, along broadly divergent paths past widely different views to get here. Why should we assume agreement at the outset? We probably don't agree, and this is fine. The difference between persons should be a source of fresh wonder, daily! - not chagrin. So let us assume we disagree! From the outset, and then - come to agreement, happily, wherever we happen to, every chance we get to do it truly.

No one ever needs a new, fresh agreement with me, to disagree. That's a given when you walk in. And welcome! It's a welcome place, isn't it? This one? The universe, I mean. Well I think so anyway. I wasn't expecting agreement on it!

I think not expecting agreement from the universe (or on it) is the one single key to feeling welcome within it. A natural part of it.

Of course, anyone is 100% welcome and free to agree with me as well - on any point! They don't need my agreement for that, either. They don't need my permission. It would simply be a fact of their agreement with a point that I also hold. Agreement with me is not the issue. They happen to agree with that point.

Hell. If any point is true, it wasn't because I held it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cornedbeefand#

I need to post a pic of my next pair of running shoes on facebook or twitter or something with the hash-tag

#dotheseshoesmakemyasslookfit

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Doodeloo #96

Epic Poem Alert! The Dreamlance Saga, Now Occurring Over at A Pocketful Of Poesy

Hey, those of you who are interested in poetry, get a load of this alert!

Over on my poetry blog A Pocketful Of Poesy - which, if you haven't noticed this, is The Best Poetry Blog on the Internet (and which if you have noticed that, you are somewhat fucking crazy) - we have early sights of what appears to be, possibly, an Epic Poem. At this point, each individual episode is standalone, yet here we see aborning, all inchoate and as-yet-unformed all the hallmarks, the earmarks, the birthmarks of what could easily be (or with what mighty labors could become) an Epic Poem.

So that's pretty rare these days! Good ones, anyhow. Sometimes you try to read one, and it just goes on and on and you yawn, how boring - but for a good comparison, check out the action on these! So far, I rate it worth a look. I'm pretty surprised at how pleased people are going to be with these.

We have episode one, which occurred before I quite was aware what was going on. It's called a dream, Or, A DREAM.

Next, in sequence, we have: Dreamlance II: The Quakening,
Dreamlance III: The Quakening,
Dreamlance IV: The Quakening (An Interlude),

and that's about it so far. Maybe some mists and stirrings of part V, on or about the fecund loins of my mind's imagination, or what passes for it, or what makes passes at it - don't ask me to understand how the creative mind's eye of the brain works! I suspect we'll all find out when we die or die trying, anyhow - and the answer, whatever it is, is bound to seem disappointingly small by then.

So in the meantime, enjoy these poems! If you're not delighted by at least three out of four or five of these (as I write more), well that may say more about you or me than it does about Epic Poetry.

But to be honest, I'm not sure.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

SHHHHHH! shocking SEX CONFESSIONS! Pt. naughty

I confess that without prejudice to the totality of anyone's personhood, I find the spectrum of shapes, traits and forms typically embodied by female human beings to exert a powerful attraction. Bearing in mind, this is a stunningly diverse array of traits and typical forms! None of which exist in opposition to others, or seem to occupy a particularly dominant place in the hierarchy, at least for me.

DON'T BE SHOCKED. It's natural what you're into, people!! Just because I happen to be very up front and at peace with the good things within me, with the aspects of others which awake me to the powerful pull to a goodness they have, that can't be bad. Please don't assume I'm a PERVERT just because here I am, just as the Lord God made me. CHOCK FULL of positively Darwinian urges. And when I say "positively," I mean these are positive things. All they do is awaken one, powerfully, to a certain part of the ranges of beauty that exist across and within humanity. So is that bad? Some people like poppyseeds!

Let's face it, some aspects of persons present to our senses, immediately. An awareness of the powerful attraction some of these aspects can hold doesn't come at the expense of ANY of a person's aspects that may present later, which may not be instantly evident. Heck no - if anything I tend to assume a natural curiosity and wonder towards aspects of emotion, intelligence, personality which only come through the more you know a person. My natural posture is to assume these will prove to exist in abundance. That's my natural posture because in practice, it almost always proves to be the case. Anyone who limits or dismisses the worth of a person beyond just the frank shape figure and form they throw across your vision - that person is a DORK.

However, anybody who takes a frank admission of attractedness to a certain range of typical shapes, figures, and forms, an admission such as I've made here, and concludes from it that I am prone to a limited, dismissive attitude towards others, an attitude that diminishes aspects other than the sexualized aspects of a person's form - SUPER dork. Anyone who concludes that about me, that's like, the last dork from a whole exploded planet of dorks, whose dork parents shot them into space to come here, where the yellow solar rays of our system only INCREASE AND MAGNIFY their dorkiness, to the point where they're capable of spectacular feats of dorktitude like that.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

FUGITV

This is a TV network I want to start: 24 hour round the clock tv channel, running down in order round the clock over and over the top most wanted criminals, (or OK, I guess, technically "suspects" might be the technical term in some cases) and hot most intriguing fugitives from justice, with documentary segments, call in segments (where the viewers can give theories and tipoffs, sightings) and etc.

In fact, if somebody called in on the 24-hour trace-phone tip line with a "hot tip" on a positive sighting of a top fugitive, and FUGITV tv had an affiliate in the area (they contract out to various bounty hunter / bail bondsman types who are willing to wear the cameras and sign the waivers) who could coordinate with the tipoff person, vet the quality of their tip and greenlight a live op, it could go suddenly LIVE breaking into the normally-scheduled programming with a LATE-BREAKING EXCLUSIVE! Naturally, with all the due notification of the cops as the law requires, although I suspect that the affiliate's process of validating the tipoff would land FUGITV about ten steps ahead of local law enforcement on the collar. You can't, after all, assume every whacko calling in with a tip is on the level!

I think people would be glued to that shit. Especially certain people of interest.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Are you SUPERHUGE? If not, better get on it, quick!

Okay, apparently there's a Fast Muscle Trick to get me supercut and superhuge that I want to take advantage of NOW, because it could be banned soon. Have you guys seen this? It could be banned soon! Better jump on that one, fast!

See, if your not aware, the government basically just bans stuff to keep us from getting superhuge. They know that if too many of us get superhuge - big upset to their balance of power! They'd rather keep us scrawny, and consequently: disenfranchised. The government would NEVER ban something out of a concern that it appears to cause stroke, or catastrophic liver failure, or cardiac arrest.

Heck no, those "big government" punks just want to keep you from getting as big as they are. Please jump on these substances fast, before they're banned! Do the future and the gene pool a favor!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some Stories You Can Pretty Much Leave Out The Ending.

One time I was a lot younger, just a kid didn't understand these things. I was out under a tree with this girl I liked and a bee landed on her. And she was cool with it! - taught me a lesson, she did. Very cool with the bee, no swatting, just chill - checkin' out the bee, who is checkin' out her. And I noticed a few other bees hovering around, and wondered if one might land on me? Then suddenly, with a shock of something I never quite understood falling into place, I realized - what with the sparrows hopping in the grass nearby, after bugs or what-not, and what with the blue jay right above us, chawpin' and dropping down nuts - CONDITIONS: PERFECT! BIRDS AND BEES, AWWWWWE YEAH..." but it turns out I had misjudged the omens.

And worse, I forgot about the bee on her arm. I made a sudden move.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Priorities, and Methods.

A real disagreement over politics is almost never about the goals themselves. It's almost always about either methods, priorities, or both. What means will really achieve this or that goal? And, on which of these goals should we put the strongest focus? One person (usually speaking on behalf of some team who they root for, whose aims they believe in and whose strategies they agree with) believes X goal is most important for human benefit - but you may be sure that the other side is also arguing hard for human benefit! They just don't believe X is the most important component we need, to move towards it. They think K is the most important component. Or maybe they say it's a balance, that we need X and K, but that B is more important than either of them, and if we go deeper we'll see we need a suite of other things besides. But good news! They say: if only we follow This Route, "it's all going to be achievable!"

Now this doesn't sit well with you at all. First of all, X is way more important than those other things, even if you agree those are good things. But secondly, you dispute that That Route is even the best way to get there! Even if that's where you're trying to get, you could think of two other better ways, which of course you don't advocate either. Because again, X is what we should be focusing on, not these other things. It's undeniable that we NEED X - how can anyone ignore or dispute it? To dispute it, why, they must be a BAD PERSON right? They'd have to be a bad person to be against X, it's just too obvious. All these other things will be helpful as well, but Good News! You'll see that if you focus on X, many other goods will follow in its wake. And great news, you say: we know how to get X, here's the method we've been pounding home. We need to do this.

To which the other person chimes in, no, I don't agree with you. I don't think your method will do what you say it will (get X), I think you're ignoring some of the bad consequence that will follow from your method, and I still don't think getting X is the real solution here. Also, I really don't appreciate you calling me out, implying that I must be a bad person - how dare you dismiss my commitment, devalue my experience and marginalize my oh no there it went.

Let's just...step back a sec, to catch sight of why both of these people are willing to argue so passionately, even to the point of ruining relations with someone. It is because they are both almost fanatically in favor of human benefit. Of doing things the best way to get people's suffering diminished and their needs managed, while to the greatest extent possible, freeing people's lives from fear of tyranny, and freeing their minds from whatever keeps them from seeing or seeking happiness. BOTH people want ALL THAT most, most, most.

And so at its every point, their conversation becomes a process of losing sight of that biggest goal, in a disagreement over priorities and methods. Priorities: because resources are finite. We need to put our strength where it gets the most and best goods. Which good things do we most need to stress? What bad things are risked - and which risks are most important to manage? Methods: because not all plans work as advertised. Not all plans even appear to be designed to do what they say they will do. We need to question, pick holes, suggest alternatives. Our two disputants disagree on priorities and on methods, because they do both want to get there. Human benefit. Where almost always, they both have a shockingly similar idea of what that is. You could put it in a very old school way: freedom from want. Freedom from fear. A world within which people are free to pursue happiness. Pretty much the whole disagreement is over different ways to get there, and which is most important to stress.

Yet despite their quite lofty and shared aims, and despite their deep commitment, both of these people are probably going to walk away from this conversation complaining "that other person's an ogre. A bigot. A moron," for not seeing their way my way. Both people will probably walk away saying the other is intolerant, dismissive of my person! - for the ways they each find to subtly imply the other has to be stupid to believe as they do. An uncompassionate person, an apathetic person for not caring enough to see the way it CLEARLY needs to be done. A fascist, or fascist sympathizer - whether the accuser thinks the capitalists or the socialists are the real fascists doesn't really matter, "a tyrant" would be a better word. Someone who wants others to be under their control, or under the control of how they think things be. Some way, any way, based on this or that turn of the conversation, both these people will probably walk away having found a way to dismiss the other as just a BAD PERSON.

And these are people who both, as I noted above, are almost fanatically committed to human benefit. They are both very deeply committed to it. Now I say "almost fanatical," not "fanatical." Neither of these people walks around fanatical. None of their friends would ever say they were fanatics. Neither of them will probably even bring up the topic, unless it comes up - but if it does, they won't shirk. They care, they know what's right and what needs to be done, and they won't shrink from speaking out about it! For the most part, with calm confidence, reasonably, and listing to the other's take as well. Mostly because they expect and know they can refute it, OK, but the point is they do listen. These two would never normally be fanatical about what they believe, under normal conditions. It takes a certain heightened circumstance to get them to escalate from a passionate "almost" to spitting, indignant fanaticism.

Sometimes, all that circumstance has to be is running up against another calm, reasonable, seemingly-intelligent person. Instead of making it easy for you by being the cretin you'd expect would believe a thing like that, this reasonable person inexplicably, impossibly believes the The Stance You Can't Stand. Listens to you and hears you out, but says they can't see it your way, and further, lays out why they say they can't - and it's That Stance You Can't Stand. The one you know back to front, and have a million ways it's wrong, and you trot these out! Smiling, probably - you know you're right, and what can they say to gainsay all these ways you know their stance is wrong? And they keep responding, and making points, and it just suddenly dawns on you that maybe there is a way that even a reasonable person, an intelligent person, can advocate this. And that's when you go ape. You can't accept that. You can't accept the stance whose hordes of faceless abstract adherents you casually revile can be valid for a reasonable human being to believe. A reasonable human being would share your priorities on this. You're pretty sure!

You know the kind of stance I'm talking about. You walk around telling yourself: how can anyone believe that? There's no way anyone believes that, except if they're a moron. Or the other way, if they're actually one of the "bad guys." That's your demographic breakdown of the opposition, in your mind: mostly morons, but controlled and whipped up by a few bad guys, masterminds, fanatic champions, what have you - who drive and exploit the great mass of sheep: the uneducated, the indoctrinated, the just plain ignorant, for the benefit of that nasty agenda. Because no one who is both intelligent and sincerely interested in good could believe That Stance is a good one, if they just looked at it! If they were intelligent and sincerely looked at it from all sides, they'd believe my stance then.

I can't accept you can believe in that stance and be a decent and passionately good, intelligent individual. To believe in The Stance I Can't Stand, you can only be either a dumb sheep or an active agent of evil. Either you're The Ignorant, too ignorant to see how obviously wrong your stance is, or...you must be In On It. You must be the bad guys. In which case you do know your stance is wrong, but you dress it up for the world in your drive to control and get people to conform, you want to oppress and wield power. You must be an agent of deliberate oppression: racial oppression, or sexual oppression, or economic oppression, or religious oppression, or military oppression. You must either be that, or a plain moron to believe that stance, I'm telling you.

See, that's the big breakdown. All these people, all on different sides of the same issues, all telling themselves that human good is CLEARLY best served by their stance, and that all the other people, who believe their b.s. stance (which let me tell you I know back-to-front and can refute standing on my head) are either fools who've been fooled, or the clever fiends who fool them.

If they weren't all such simpleton ignoramuses, you'd think a couple steps back and one good look at it would tell them that hey, all we have here really with these battling stances of ours are just some relatively small disagreements over points of emphasis. Over priorities, and methods.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some say a stranger came, dealing death before the end...Pt.13

"Hell if I'm not about to die over a woman after all," the stranger Lido half-croaked, half-hissed.

Out loud, but no one could have heard. The gentle amazement in his voice was pitched too soft for even his old dog to pick up on, had he been nuzzling up the stranger's whisker-frayed cheek, as he used to do. Wherever that flea-ridden purebred greyhound cuss had wound up, even he couldn't have heard that lament.

The stranger's eyes would have misted, if his body had any water in it. He tried to pronounce the dog's name. Couldn't. Then he tried again: another name, every syllable cracked, parched, and disbelieving.

"Rose Althea,"

Nothing.

The stranger Lido was not the sort of man to lose his head or his heart, at least not over love of a woman. A dog, maybe. Yet here he was. On his belly like a dog, limbs splayed crookedly, lifelessly. Head on its side, jaw slack, mouth open in the sand. Eyes wide - purely by chance. They'd been open, just as his body ran out of energy to blink. By default, he was in a no-stakes staring contest with a far-off patch of low sky. He was going to win.

This hadn't been for any love of any woman. That was for sure. He'd lost his heart, and his head, to fury.

"Rose Althea," he observed. No fury left now.

She was gone now. No telling where, or in which direction. She could be far behind, way back towards, or beyond, or even on - the trail. Or, she could be just a little further ahead! Who knew now, how far she could get. He'd underestimated her. She was lost to view, wherever she was. In the dead scrub trees, hunkered in one of the dry cracked shallow rills or rainless crevasses that now scarred the desert's formerly entirely featureless flatness - somewhere, somewhere, she was gone.

The stranger Lido had seen her on the trail, he knew that much. He was sure of that much: far ahead of him, steadily losing ground, marked out by his own god damn white shirt that she wore, she had been his. She had stolen that shirt. Which wasn't the only thing she stole. His gunbelt. His pants, though he'd gotten those back. How she herself had escaped him then was...well. Beyond him. As she was.

It would have been only a matter of time, he knew. He'd known. But either through sheer genius or panic, she'd hit on the only way possible to save her hide. She tore off that shirt, vanished into a desert colorless as she was. Naked, like a savage Indian trickster spirit! Vanished thick and slick as her thighs into the thin, hot air of this unclaimed, empty territory. It was hers, now. Her tanned skin, shimmering into its distance, a distance composed mostly of shimmers itself. She was lost in an endlessness of earth-toned blur and buckling air, she may as well have rippled herself up into the white-blue sky. He'd found his blood-front, ruined dirty shining white shirt by the side of the track, and that was the last of her he was going to see.

Right then was about when he'd lost his sense of proportion.

He'd gotten it back, since. Burnt brutally by the day's hammering noon, and an afternoon of increasingly frantic searching, burnt worse by his own stupidity - finally, exhausted, he began to get a sense of it back. Proportion: he was a gnat. And if the universe cared, it was the sort of condescension he'd have spit at, provided the universe would kindly give him a drink first. High overhead, stars were now beginning to poke their pinprick light through the deepening velvet, like so many sewing needles in a pincushion.

The stranger Lido's bronzed skin was on fire all over. The heat, stored up daylong along the back and side of his body in the sun's hammering, was almost deliciously reversing its flow. But he knew this would not long be relief. Already, he could taste how cold the desert was about to become. He had his shirt back, but it would be scant comfort.

"Well I hope that bitch freezes to death at least," he lied.

He didn't really care what happened to Rose Althea now. "Rose Althea," he lied again, "I hope you open up a big casino in San-Fran-cisco, and become a millionairess with a litter of spoiled brats."

"And I hope that first little bastard has my eyes."

Either his voice had come back, or he was hearing things, dreaming it.

Hallucinating, the stranger Lido saw nothing but an angle of empty desert.

The thirst, the exhaustion, the sunstroke was bad enough. While he was at it, he'd got himself snakebit. It had come out of nowhere - right there, sank into the meat behind his knee! That was his first inkling he'd made a huge mistake. There'd been an unbroken string of inklings before that, that should have tipped him, but it was the snake who gave him notice he wasn't his right self. That he'd become blinded, to everything except the woman he was chasing, the woman he had no sign of, and that all of a sudden, he was probably going to die. He was so rickety and reeling by that time, he couldn't even catch the snake. Hollering, he'd sprawled after it, dizzy with the need for vengeance, ready to strangle a cactus, even - any living thing if he could lay hold of, he flailed after that snake! Wring every inch of its body, tear its head off, drink its blood! - but he was practically a damn cripple already, fallen in its wake even before the venom started working. His exhaustion had already lost the race. The snake flashed off in a writhing switchback, cheerful, jaunty, he'd swear to god it mocked him with the flip of its tail. But really it was half-seen by then, half-hallucinated. His eyes could barely follow it. He lay there now, in the same place he'd sprawled. This was all hours ago.

His leg was swollen straight, but he knew the snake bite wouldn't kill him. He was dying of thirst, first. He had gone miles out from the road. He'd thrown it all on a gut hunch, plus a few suspect marks in the hard desert pan that he convinced himself were Rose Althea's tracks. One mile out, any fool would have known he was following nothing. Any idiot would have turned back. He didn't turn back. He'd lost his sense entirely, gone simple or psychic. In his mind, he was ready to force his hunch to be right, just by sheer dint of will.

Really there was no prayer now, of making it back to the road. There was no help on the road anyhow, even if he could make it back.

"Hurry up and die, you old cuss."

He was in no particular pain, which he knew by his condition was a bad sign.

With a weird suddenness, he'd become excruciatingly bored. He wasn't sure when that happened. He wondered idly if he'd be able to see and note the signs, as he died, as things inside him began to shut down. His eyes were darkening, but so was the sky. It was hard to assign any blame to it.

He snapped awake with his eyes glued shut.

Behind his eyelids, he knew the sky was dim with morning. Why morning, he had no idea. Morning seemed gratuitous, to him. The night cold should have killed him, but it hadn't. The ground, the sky, his bones all felt frozen, but some piece of working brain told him the night simply mustn't've been nearly as cold as expectation. He was in no position to say any hallelujah of thanks. Dirt was in his dry, open mouth.

He barely moved his head, tried to spit without any spit. Finally, heroically (he admired himself for the effort), he rolled over - bringing a shooting surge of juicy agony all through his snake-bit left leg. He had forgotten about the damn snake! This was the sort of pain you had to order off the menu.

The clench of his face intensified every second, until an impossibly loud, clear shout tore itself out of his throat: "God damn it I'm done for anyway, what are you waiting for?"

"Oh quit whining," came the reply.

Lido's eyes spasmed, tried, failed to snap open. The woman's voice was impudent, well-watered, with a smile in it he could see even with his eyes closed.

Rose Althea.

The realization hit him like a bolt of lightning, like a bucket of water to the face. An instant later, the stranger Lido was drenched by a bucket's worth of water to the face.

I'm Ready To Die.

Are you ready to kill me?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Greatest album ever? Pt. 1 of a Projected Series: AC/DC's Back In Black

I'll just say "Back In Black" and leave it at that. But I should be back later with some less obvious picks. Reeling from the death of beloved rapscalion frontman and debaucher extraordinaire Bon Scott, just as the band stood poised on the seeming brink of worldcrushing superstardom - or so it seemed - the death of Scott plunged all such speculation into shock and irrelevancy. More than a ringleader, Scott was a gangleader - a guiding influence with plenty of hard-lived rock and roll experience under his belt, a sort of pervert-uncle figure to the other members a decade or so his junior - a mate, however much he was prone to the occasional fuckup, the man was integral to the chemistry of this hardscrabble guerrilla unit intent on conquering the world once again, all and always only for rock and roll. Still, unimaginable as it may have seemed then for AC/DC to exist without Bon - so close to the goal he and they all sweated, bled, and came for, can there ever have been any question of brothers Malcolm and Angus Young simply folding up the tent and going home, calling it a day for AC/DC?

Fucking unlikely.

Back In Black stands in dedication, and in rededication. A colossal musical achievement, a fitting epitaph for an irreplaceable and irrepressible (and irresponsible) man, who, goofy as he was, was yet and above all, a serious musician. Dedicated to Bon Scott: every bit as he was dedicated to his craft, every bit as he was dedicated to his female fans (and in a meaningfully different way, to all of his fans, of course). But fitting as it was, this album is far more than an epitaph. It strides forth grim with purpose, bursting with new life: a mission statement, a manifesto from the mountaintop, handing down ten perfect tracks with the force of commandments - all testified in the furious, unholy, glorious unearthly voice of the man I'd call (for three albums at least, before he more or less blew out his larynx in '83 during the Flick of the Switch tour) the greatest rock singer ever: Brian Johnson.

No replacement. No imitator. He stepped, strode, staggered into the churning, precision-honed forge of Mal and Ang's power chords, Phil and Cliff's pounding rhythms, and he alchemized it all with a howl into a sort of reverse-mithril (stray Tolkein reference must've wandered in from a stray Zep review? sorry): silverpure, steel-hard, but as heavy as fookin' lead. Nimble with it, though! The band's tutelage under legendary Shania Twainfucker Robert John "Mutt" Lange on prior outing Highway to Hell had by now matured, and borne brutal, machine-tooled fruit. These scrappy underdogs had pounded out enjoyable album after enjoyable album, full of mad dash, bravado and thrash in a blues-soaked mode, but Lange's manic perfectionist expertise had unlocked something in them, something that had lain within them always, and now the band had finally and terrifically come into its own sound: assurance, precision, muscular intricacy and power to spare, and good lord was it awesome to behold with one's ears. This album was a beauty, truth made incarnate to a worldfull of jaw-dropped beholders, forever from the first listen beholden to its inimitable might.

Back In Black.

The album-opening declaration "I'm rolling thunder, pouring rain / I'm coming on like a hurricane," only begins to cover it.

I'll be back with more "Greatest album ever" picks after this! Don't die holding your breath, though.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Some say a stranger came, dealing death before the end...Pt. 12

The stranger Lido's legs burned like scorched iron. He was trudging now at a great, loping pace. No more hurried than a machine piston, and as relentless. Head low, eyes narrow as knives, intent on the track - an old trail worn hard, headed straight and sure to someplace. He flared his nostrils in the dry air that pooled around him. If he stopped, he'd be standing with a cool, steady breeze at his back. He didn't stop. He was striding within it, becalmed in a storm's eye of his own making. In an absolute stillness, in perfect sync with his speed and direction. The world held its breath, and turned beneath him.

He was wearing a ball gown, or what once had been one. It had since been torn, distorted, remade as a sort of a dirty pink tulle poncho. He laughed once - a short, rasped bark. The whole damn caper had gone wrong, unless that was what she'd had in mind. He paid good money for this damn dress. Rose Althea was going to make it look good again, or else: before he'd decide to kill her, or not. Or wait.

None of this was anything he thought in words. He'd stopped thinking in words two days ago.

The gap was closing. He had walked all night last night timeless and moonlit through a waking nightmare that haunted him vaguely. All night, he'd kept starting in spurts of panic, sure he'd somehow passed her by, or lost the trail.

He was right behind her, now. Sure of it. This land was flat, flat - but he'd seen her. Seen somebody, up ahead: a shimmering wiggle of white on invisible legs. Her skin, tanned the same color as the desert's dry, fine sand that blurred out for miles in all directions - and above it, the white shimmy-blob of his own god-damn shirt! Topped suddenly by a weaving jet black blot - she had lost her hat? No, the black blot disappeared, tucked again under the soft no-color of her mother's sombrero.

A good hour passed. Morning was coming towards noon, and the white wiggle had vanished, for the moment at least. The stranger Lido was unconcerned. There was nowhere for it to vanish to. Nowhere for it to hide away, no place to go underground and no way short of a horse could she outdistance him. His vulture gaze devoured everything for miles. There had been no damn horse.

So she was right in front of him, and she must have looked back. Seen him coming. She must have flung herself flat, lost in the heat shimmer. She was probably crawling! Desperately, clawing her way through the dust to escape his path. He smiled so wide his bottom lip split, dry. Not enough water in those cracked lips to bleed. He smiled wider with the pain. He knew he couldn't keep walking this pace under a noonday sun, but he damn sure could hold out longer and further than she could crawl. There was no way she could've bolted upright any distance to either side of the trail without his eyes tracking her. Crawling wasn't going to get her far, not far enough. He'd soon be close enough to where she'd disappeared for his squint to pierce the waves of rippling heat, and then he'd see her, and then he'd reach her. Even if she was lying flat and perfectly still, hoping not to raise dust, not even moving to breathe - she'd be too close to the trail for him not to spot her. As soon as he closed the distance, through this heat. He was almost there now. He decided he wasn't going to rest until he was on top of her.

His eyes no longer looked down. The ground was too hard to hold much trace, anyhow. His head was up, looking side to side warily. Seeking a hiding place. This damn desert was all one color, that was the problem. It had been flat as flat forever, but now he began to see features forming. Miniscule hills, tiny hollows. Nothing to hide a person in, but enough to curse at. He forced himself to go a bit more carefully. Slowing, he felt the breeze now, and it felt almost cold. There was something up ahead, flat and lifeless to the side of the bone-dry track. Something bright against the sun-bleached dun.

It was a dirty white shirt.

The Bad Color

God's opinion is the universe. Don't ask me! Just go take a look for yourself, why don't you.

And let's face it, that God is pretty infinitely opinionated. God's like, "Well, that's just how I see it! What do you think?" But not waiting for any answer, God says "It's good!" God saw it and said, it is good. God saw Light, and said it was good. Light had a different opinion on that eventually.

God's good is not always the same as what other people think is good, it seems. Yet God's pretty secure in God's own opinion of how things should be set up. Are we? Are we secure in our own opinions, of what good is, and how things should be?

We should be! We down here are free to differ. "God, this universe is crap. Reality, life, suffering - what the hell were you thinking?"

Humans don't seem to see eye-to-eye with God on how things are set up. Usually, we have a fulsome list of things we could do without - and ever was it thus. "God cannot be both good and all-powerful," said Epicurus, a brilliant pioneer in his day! A bit of a child, by our standards. Oh, I mean a child only in terms of our understanding of cosmic mechanics. Clearly, in terms of how people live their lives, most mere mortals remain as children, next to Epicurus's principled and disciplined mind and methods. Yet in terms of how reality works, it's no insult to him to admit...he just didn't have a clue. Not really! That guy took a view of the universe as if it were the riotous profusion of a Hieronymus Bosch jungle painting, tigers and orange groves, and violence red in tooth and claw, and he said: "Ooooo, that red! That tooth and claw red is the problem! The painter could have just left that out!" And everything else would have remained, right? All to the good! Just that one little change, and all else, all that Epicurus called good, would remain. Just don't take that red paint and put it on there: simple!

Only the suffering would be removed, leaving a beautiful picture, to Epicurus's taste.

It's so hard for us to see today how Epicurus could possibly have sincerely thought this. Suffering: a purely gratuitous element! Not a consequence of the way physics is set up, no. With biology meshed in its warp and weft, thrashing forward along, relying on damage-avoidance pain mechanisms, impelled by yearnings and urges for whatever is deprived, what resource is lacking, as we wiggly creatures drive, strive and thrive - no, suffering's just a thing added on top of all that! For no reason, really. Can Epicurus have been pulling our leg? Is it possible? He seems to have had some sense that things are built on cause and effect, even if he didn't understand the perfect simplicity of it all at its core. Assuming quantum mechanical supersymmetry's barking up the right length of Planck (it sure does look like a winner!).

Well, whether he was entirely serious or not, we can't criticize Epicurus for having access only to the clues his age gave him. Today at least, the idea that you can change something fundamental at the foundation of reality, with the only result to be: reduce the owies for macroscopic squishy beings - this is a pleasantly ludicrous concept.

It's also a howlingly anthropocentric one: all of the universe, all for us! Not for us some lowly place, as a natural part of a natural universe that actually works. Such that we can proceed to figure out how it works. No, that's useless! That has no value, what we demand for a universe to be called good is: it must be custom-designed for our luxury and comfort. The needs of life itself, to change and push over obstacles as individual beings grow, die, are born all in a jumbling forwardly-evolving sprawl - that can't be the priority! A universe like that sucks! It just does.

According to some.

I say a natural universe is the highest of all goods we've been given, or could be given. Of course, I concede Epicurus's point that God could have designed an irrational universe, removed suffering that way. God could've designed a universe where effects do not proceed from causes, where matter and energy do not contort and hurl about inexorably along paths carved in fundamental forces, where miracle intervenes and must intervene, daily, constantly, anytime a tsunami, tornado or earthquake is about to hurt babies and old people. Anybody want to move to that universe? Sure why not! Sounds like heaven! Oh wait. Yeah. We've already got that.

I mean, if you're going to talk about God just to reject the premise out-of-hand, you are not reasoning. But if you credit the premise for a sec, God's already got that part of the package covered: an infinite kiss and make better, all damage healed in an instant, bliss and permanence - and knowledge, and communion in bliss with all, forevermore! This is what omnipotence means: God leaves you wallowing in freakish joy and mystery forever.

But let's be clear, though. I'm not saying "This world sucks, but heaven makes it OK." Nonsense! People who say this world sucks are fucking pansies. This world (by which I include the universe) is magnificent. Sometimes, I try to imagine the piss-poor world they claim they want. Imagine how horrifying this world would be if it were not natural. If we couldn't carve into it, learn and earn a place. If it were provably supernatural in origin, if there were no chance that we were on our own, and so to grow the fuck up and stand on our own: sufficient. A universe where, because of how everything was set up - clearly created for our benefit - we could not choose what we choose to believe, or choose simply to remain unconvinced. An improvement? Imagine if God forced God upon us, every day! Rubbed our noses in the fact of God's existence - forced us to believe! Left us a daily scripture message, written in the night sky by physically moving stars around. An improvement? A better universe? "Isn't it better to know?"

I don't know, I guess that's up to your personal good. Is it better to have a shitty universe but at least know its limits, or to have a universe of apparently limitless extent and wonder, and the tools in hand - human reason, primarily - to chase after and grasp for answers?

One thing is for sure. In a universe where God is forced in our face, we wouldn't be so free to differ with God's opinion. To create our own opinions, to give our own value to things. To hold different goods, our goods, higher and more dear to us than some inscrutable, cosmic good said to be God's. The fact that God leaves us room for doubt is a great gift. If God were forced in our face what would freedom mean? Today, we know at least that whatever God's highest good is, God's got it covered, which leaves us free to work for the goods we see. Even if there were no God, this universe and a chance to make a life within it is a thrilling, amazing gift. In this universe, we've got the universe covered. It's far bigger than us, and yet the whole thing is in our hands.

Imagine if we weren't free to learn, investigate, plumb, wring the knowledge we want from the fabric of reality. Imagine if we couldn't do that because there was nothing to learn! No natural fury, forces greater than us, implacable - indifferent to our plight! In a natural world, we can plumb these, grasp them, seize them by their inner workings and create our world around them, within them, upon them. Imagine if we weren't free to create. Let alone the world - imagine if we weren't free to self-create? To make of ourselves what we can and what we will, in our thoughts, words, actions!

And all of us together, creating our future as a species. To give a direction and purpose to it that is ours to form, ours to own. Heady stuff, this opportunity and this life we have.

Can anyone here imagine what a poor substitute the universe would be, if it were not observably, evidently built upon discoverable principles we can unlock, and reason from, from effect to cause to further effects, from theory to (eventually) testable result? Imagine a universe set up to coddle us, where we are created not as creators, but as a bunch of fucking babies. Or more accurately: prisoners. A universe with walls, which could not be pierced by human understanding or by science, because the choice had been made against nature. Against self-checked, self-sustaining nature, of which we are a part, not the purpose. Imagine claiming the highest and only good of reality ought to be the pleasure principle.

Well, you'd be an Epicurean.

Some people's opinion is that a luxury resort universe would be an improvement over the one we've got, with dangerous cliffs, and surging waves, and death at every corner. They say they'd want reality's big design requirement to be: "no boo-boos." No owies. "No More Tears!"

Well I'm glad God didn't share their babyish, wussyesque priorities, taking a baby shampoo approach to the universe's virtues. I'm glad that God valued adult virtues over childish ones, and that God gave us this far better world than the playpen some people claim they'd want. Those people can grow the fuck up at some point if they want, or if they prefer, they can just keep whining about how non-amazing, non-magnificent it is to have this chance, to carve our place in a universe that is manifestly bigger and more important than any one of us is. Bigger than all of us put together are. Fuck any pampered turds who say this universe is anything less than worthy of awestruck humility and gratitude! On the grounds that there is suffering? All suffering stems from one or the other: free will, or physics. Our ability to act and choose what we believe and who we will be, and our capacity to reach out even as far as behind the stars - and unlock them. That's worth throwing out? Cause and effect are of no value, no consequence?

I hate to be harsh. But anyone who can't see what we've got or who'd claim they want to chuck it for - some ill-formed crap version - I say: serve 'em fair if all their pets got cancer, if all their kids grew up to blame them for everything in life, if they themselves get kidnapped and imprisoned in Malaysia where every day their fingernails are torn half-off and they're gang-raped by large guard dogs. Fuck it, I'll go in there with them! Then I'll ask 'em about it in heaven, after about sixty billion years or so of coddling in indestructible bliss and luxury.

I bet the petty motherfuckers will still be bearing a grudge.

Then I'll go looking for Epicurus. Shake his hand. You know what? He had the right idea, all along. He was just a few facts short of a working model, that's all. But if his concept of things was lacking, his priorities were not wrong: it is good, a very high good and perhaps our highest human good, to do all we humanly can to increase human pleasure, and assuage human suffering.

This universe is, among other things, our chance. It is the one chance we have, to make a life's work that means something. It could mean everything. Once chance, and so much within our grasp. It must be a child, who'd scorn what that chance represents - or fail to see what a gift it is.

Now go get the red out.