16 December 2009

unity principles

Over Thanksgiving weekend, come Saturday evening, as I finally recovered from the flu, my brothers and I gathered round the dining room table for our little working class Algonquin Round Table. Conversation ranged over a breadth of topics - physics & math from my younger brother 'S', military experience & the wars from next oldest 'C', pseudo-philosophy from all.
I say pseudo because only my youngest brother's friend 'Y', just from an intro to philosophy class, really had any aptitude to reference actual philosophers and he seemed pretty much limited to Plato & Aristotle it being first half of first term. I have heard that everything is just commentary on Plato. Running with that, throwing in modern math/physics and considering all parties' postmodern experiences (& after reading some online philosophical commentary) I feel confident we had a strong layman's base.

First issue at hand was to establish our base of discussion. We arrive at the comforting conclusion that all language is approximate, including math. My brother answers my longstanding question about the nature of the ten based system - clarifying that it is really a one based system and one is the only number that might actually occur naturally anywhere at all. Everything else (but really also 1) is a statement of relativity or an artificial approximate of measurement. This all has the suspicious air of a physicist's obsession with singularities. He also showed me a marvelous trick using the distributive property and the number one that shows you can arrive at something from nothing - on paper.
That language is approximate is comforting to us because we lack the philosophical nomenclature to more specifically discuss what we are aiming at. It also lowers the pedestal of math & science.
The nature of reality is the next item of discussion, mind there is no outline. I'm just reporting. This begins with the so called least reliable evidence - personal epiphany or transcendence. I would mention that the nature of transcendence leads to it being extra-lingual & extra-rational and so is obviously beyond the evidenciary realm of science and more dogmatic philosophies. What is most interesting, we agree, is that personal transcendence is not so rare as Buddha on the fucking mountain top. We all had approximate experiences to share - whether drug, meditation, mental health or otherwise induced and I doubt that makes us all that special. What might make us a little more rare is our desire for understanding. Transcendence for most folks is not a continual state, it is quite human to very quickly forget what is learned or to slide back to comfortable perspectives. What is transcendence that we can approximate it with our language? Saying different things but really the same, we agree that transcendence is the gift of experiencing a further perspective. Some potential results are: universal love of man, or of all living creatures or of everything that vibrates with existence (everything); an acceptance of the futility of action; acceptance of lack of meaning;

05 November 2009

Where the Wild Thing Is

This week, or was it last, started with the long promised screening of Where The Wild Things Are with my family and some friends. It began with a preview for The Fabulous Mr Fox as imagined quirkily of course by Mr Wes Anderson, and I was wondering if the future holds a Jim Jarmusch directed The Giving Tree featuring some fairly mainstream hipster band on the soundtrack. What next?
Actually the movie was really fulfilling and much more complex that the book would have us believe. I suppose more an interpretation than an adaptation. Thank you for the slow pacing which was refreshing. Thank you for the darkness. Thank you for the angry and confused protagonist. The kids name is really Max Records!?!
Anyway, I got some tears out of it and think it will hold up to time.

The reason that film is notable in beginning my week is that I have suddenly been relating to/as that mythical beast of Crete, the Minotaur. And mayhaps there are some similarities.

Why this is - I am feeling bestial; I am feeling the dichotomy of being two creatures; I am feeling stuck within a labyrinth; I am feeling like a bull in the woods, rutting solitary; I am feeling particularly fecund...

(not the real sonogram but reasonably similar to a yolk sack half of my making)

I am feeling a lot and dark and deep.

So, this is big news and I am happy about it for the larger part of me. I don't really care to go into scrupulous detail, but it is also at conflict with everything I have been experiencing up until. A new reality that is necessarily devouring the former reality.
A fact that is not itself a crisis, but resembles and will certainly cause (in fact already has caused) many complimentary crisis.

Rumble rumble says the Minotaur.

My week wrapped up in a Halloween I had been looking foreword to but that turned out to be a shadowy trough in the waves of events. 'T' and I were costumed as Dia De Los Muertos Skeletons - she a flamenco dancer, I a mariachi.

The Minotaur was rutting before the evening began.
We went to one party that showed considerable promise yet turned out a dud. Who schedules solo folk singers for a Halloween Party? Who,as folk singer, does not dress up their act for the festivities?
We went to good ol' reliable second choice - packed with appropriate entertainment in spades. The first thing I noticed was a reveler dressed as a Nazi. What Hipster doofus thinks that boundary is a good one to cross, thought I. I later encountered the Nazi wrestling ambiguously on the ground with some girl. 'T' encountered the Nazi later and being the foreword individual she is, decided to confront him on his tasteless costume choice. Do you really think this is OK, she asked him, because its not (a very civil confrontation on her part). The Nazi laughed, slapped his chest, Heil Hitlered and goose stepped away. What artist fuck thinks its acceptable to dress as a Nazi and provoke people?
The night went along, then she comes to me and says the Nazi saw her again and without provocation, spit beer in her face. What ass hole thinks its OK to dress like a Nazi, goose step around and spit beer in my pregnant wife's face?

Some switch turned in me and the rutting Minotaur drew its horns.

I calmly handed off my drink & accessories, walked over to the Nazi and cold cocked him. Then I hit him again. By that time some people were pulling me off him and moving me toward the door. Apparently a female friend of his broke a bottle and jumped into the melee. Single minded, as he was out of range of my swinging arm, I gripped his label and pulled him into my fist. About that time I was forcibly ejected.
Victorious and liberated, blood covered and confident the Minotaur swaggered down the street and sat on his haunches, defiant of crowd condemnation.

It was a righteous feeling.

Until I encountered 'T' again as she left the party to pick me up, as she called me out, and mostly as I woke up to a more sober and well lit reality of what I had done.
I felt a good deal of shame that consumed me for two days. I did not feel particularly bad that some douche who costumes himself as a Nazi had gotten his ass beat. Dress like a Nazi and you should expect that kind of thing. I am bothered, but not extensively so, by the fact that I cold cocked him. In my state of mind, and considering his behaviors, I was just rushing a foregone conclusion. What I am concerned about is that I was the modus for the beat down. The actions I took are unusual to me. I am concerned about my state of mind. Angry. Angry, angry. Why so angry Minotaur?

Good question self. I can see that I have anger over what I will be losing with this pregnancy. I have anger over issues with my children and the mirror family my ex-wife maintains. I have anger over my nowhere job that will never get better. I have anger over my choices and my realities.

I never realized I was such an angry person. I have always relegated anger as a more damaging emotion than not - that usually results in ignorance.
Maybe emotion is emotion regardless of knowledge or ignorance. The Minotaur will be angry regardless of what my mind thinks. I should respect that. I should have an awareness & control of the Minotaur because what happened was - I operated outside of my normalcy. I acted how I felt without intervention of thought. I do not do that often. I do not know that I often feel angry. My mind should be like a matador that dances with the bull, rather than a fence that contains dumbly and then is opened or broken.

One reason the Nazi triggered me so strongly, I believe is that I have been reading the final book in the Berlin Noir Quadrilogy by Phillip Kerr. These are hard boiled detective novels that are the closest approximation in the genre to Dashiell Hammett, and as literature greatly improve upon them.
They are the ongoing experience of a German Citizen operating as a private detective during the Nazi period. It is extraordinary because it is a perspective that most authors will not venture into and most people don't think to care about. It is brutal and complex and definitely transcends the genre by miles. It is well written. I want to recommend the series to friends but it is so dark, I am not sure how to go about it.
So, I had just finished this glimpse into the real heart of Nazi darkness and put it down with a particular distaste for Nazis. I am pretty sure this contributed to my impetuous actions, though without blame of the author or books.

Interesting thing that so many people are triggered by Nazis and that they are the cultural lodestone of evil. I recently came upon this graph in some news magazine that presents the last century's history of genocide.

Hitler's Germany is behind Stalin's USSR and Mao's China in total human beings murdered by considerable sums. I doubt that many people, myself included, would be upset if someone dressed as eithor of the latter dictators for Halloween. Why is that? Cultural relativism, ethnocentrism? Those are worthwhile inquiries, but I would guess that it is experiential. The armies of the west have never encountered the holding quarters and mass graves in Siberia or China. How many people do we encounter who are survivors or descendants of survivors of those events. There are many European Jewish immigrants, but fewer Chinese and even less Russian.

Blah blah blah. Here is a story I came across last night of a true inter-Axis hero: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/39821

Finally, the best time I had this Halloween was dressing as the Highwayman - no, not a pirate and not Johnny Depp goddammit! Dressing up as the Highwayman and reading the poem for the clients where I work. As an antiquated peice of culture, I did not expect they would be into it, so I lopped off a few of the less integral stanzas and rushed it a bit nervously...to thunderous applause -seriously!(its relative of course)
Here is the poem for your enjoyment:

The Highwayman
Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)


THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—


"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.



He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door.


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain .


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *


And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

- Minotaur out.

07 October 2009

Can vulnerability make me invulnerable?

I feel like an eggshell today, careful not to walk on me.

This week started with my friend L coming for a visit. L of the torturous relationship with my tortured brother. Soon after best friend J came for an overlapping visit. J of a full quarter century of friendship. All these chalice-holders of the past in the midst of the entire house playing musical rooms and a new roommate. Oh, and our room is being painted adequately by "stoner teenagers" as J likes to call them. Aren't all painters stoners? Isn't that a prerequisite, or perhaps a hazard of the job?

On Monday, well. I was not in top form. Actually a little thing, as anything forgotten is a little thing, but the subject might be big and in Monday's case it was pretty close to as big as it gets in my humble life. I forgot about my children. More specifically, I forgot to pick them up at school. This resulted, through the very powerful fact that my cell phone was dead, in my ex getting called and having to leave work early to pick them up. What actually happened is I failed, in all the action of the early week, to really mentally digest that it was Monday. I was aware of it, but the implications had not really set. This reality became congruent with another reality that I have observed in myself but never really seen communicated. I do not think about my kids when I do not have them.
Though this admittedly leads to problems which illustrate the need for correction, there is a real reason. When I think about them and do not have them, I am heartbroken. What to do? Walk around in a perpetual state of heartbreak, tearing up and breaking down at the slightest ruffle of emotional remembrance?

So I do not. I steel myself from that vulnerability. And practical and timely matters suffer, so does my relationship with my boys, co does with my wife and with my ex wife, and eventually with myself.

I called my ex immediately upon discovery of my inaction and offered an untarnished apology. I spoke to my boys. G was very upset. I apologized to him, but told him it was OK to be angry at me. He was. I apologized to E. I'm not sure he could have cared less. True to form.(after today, perhaps it is my job, in part, to help him learn how to care more.)

Are not we all so true to form.

Today I had to go to traffic court, 7:30am to set the 2pm appointment.
I saw the sunrise.
Then I went to therapy. My therapist, an intelligent man, is a Sufi. I don't know mush about Sufis. They come from North Africa. Whirling Dervishes. Fez caps. Islamic mystics. Misogynist? Probably not the bay area variant. I respect his intelligence and appreciate his mysticism.
Today, despite T's expectation, we focused on my relationship with my emotions - which seems pretty tightly bound to my thoughts. We did an elaborate and labyrinthine exercise of removing emotion from cause and environment. It was illogical, but so is emotion. It was extremely challenging.
Then, I think, he tried to hypnotize me. It is not that I was resistant to it, if not entirely comfortable - but my mind was.
I used to have a code for myself in the mirror of my bedroom: discipline thyself.
In meditation - of which hypnotism seems to be a guided variant, I do not believe that discipline thyself is exactly correct. The mind & soul must be disciplined so that whatever they encounter does not destroy them so much as to be nonworking. the ritual must be disciplined enough to be consistent in time. But the meditation is a practice in undisciplined.
So, in the midst of anger and frustration about my circumstances and confusion about the path of conversation, I felt a sadness with no root. He slowed me down and slowed my thoughts and spoke to go within and get a picture of the child I was. The child in a room with other children. Those children are active and noisy and this child, me, is quiet and in a book. Get a hold on what he is saying. He is going to say to you what he is feeling and remember it.
He didn't say anything. he seemed content and happy. he also seemed a little melancholy, but he didn't say anything about it. I think this is where the guidance broke down and my thoughts reemerged.
I think if he said anything he would have said: I feel alien.
Should my parents have helped me learn how to not? Am I projecting? What and where?

That was that . I went to court after that.
For me court is one of the more uncomfortable environments I have encountered. It is anxiety and impotence. It went well, though.

At the end of my day I remember some events.
Robert DeNiro is a trigger for me. A Boy's Life killed me. I couldn't finish The Fan (even though it was ridiculous) and I literally broke down weeping. Weeping at the end of City By The Sea. He reminds me of my dad, not always. Raging Bull doesn't, or Deer Hunter, or Meet The Parents.

17 September 2009

Reading the Bible book 1 - ...

It's Genesis and I read the whole thing, geneologies and all.

Having just completed reading The Epic of Gilgamesh (sumeria) to the boys and an aborted attempt at the Illiad - two of our older peices of literature - I couldn't help but note some similarities in style and tone...they were all written by Homer?!?

No, but they are all attempts at compilation of oral histories, of communication with and to a degree coersion of primitive societies. It that sence, as a largely unchanged document between the early jewish elite and the jewish people, a written chronicle of a preliterate nomadic tribe written in the infancy of its literacy and establishment!

It was not unenjoyable as a peice of historic literature.
I have entered Exodus and note immediately a change in tone.
I don't feel like going into too much detail but I did note the treachery, deciet and cowardice in these fathers (& mothers)of Israel. I feel like it shows a spiritual & moral complexity that has continued through the first Abrahamic religion.

Such mighty names these books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Kings!

16 September 2009

A man doesn't buy something that is freely provided:

How to be:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

-Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

12 September 2009

an old poem

This settles in my mind as we enter fall and I feel change and loss stir in me and mine:

My Summer is through
I'll put a shotgun to the trees
and squeeze fresh blasts

What part of my lover have I
not sunk my palm and fingers in?
Now. What parts of Autumn
will be strange to my shoed feet?

Or will the ground be untouched
leaves waiting to be stirred,
while the wind - a wallflower -
only passes sidelong gusts


I will then,
shave this beard
when the season is past
and Winter has lost It's starless grief.

I will then walk
barefoot and barefaced through
new-birthed fields of dandelion and thistle

I will then spread my fingers
from my palms to see what weeds I held:
Sharp reddened petals to the ground? A blast of ghosts to the wind?

17 August 2009

compendium of goals

The following is a list of goals I have posted here; I have checked the ones I have accomplished or more likely, made a good effort toward. many of them are not binary but are progressive.

Blog everyday ( )
Reading list (X) 3 of 10, acquired 5 of 10
Letter discipline ( )
Read Bible (X)
Make personal cult of self (X)
Make kayaking a priority (X)
Learn to make cider ( ) pickles ( ) jam ( )
Make kids room habitable (X)
Be outside more (X)
Find job that's been searching for me ( )

Better than I expected from myself, especially when I consider new & unpublished goals that have been met. However, I feel a little disappointed in myself for some of the more egregious errors.

11 July 2009

“He will never worship well the image on the altar who knew it when it was a trunk of wood”

I am at work now, 'biding time. I will leave here, make a too quick stop at the bookstore, load the truck and set out through traffic to the north coast and into the woods. There is a peace I am expecting from those woods. It will not greet me as I arrive late this evening, nor tomorrow, but I have faith it will come; it will come as I rise early giving time no abide or inhabiting a book, look up to be suprised at company, or listening to the children roaming freely - bug bitten, half naked dirty and happy. It might come in our pitched black cabin, letting the peace seep into our life together. God knows we need it. It might come around a fire communing with the flame and naked bodies there.

It will probably come as I walk a path in the dark under the narrow strip of sky the trees allow, or as I, solitary, attend to my daily tasks.

My pleasure comes from those I love, my peace comes from myself.

I am signing off for two weeks. Any logging will be done with ink and paper.

I have not yet began the bible as I had planned. I am taking Milton with me though.
My promised when I return:
begin bible
make kayaking a priority
learn to make and make cider, pickles and jam
make children's room a habitable place
find that jab I've been waiting for
be outside more

04 July 2009

the riddle that answers itself...

It's here as much as it ever really gets here.
We are heading off to Nevada for a shared celebration, to the middle of Nevada, past the "town" of Middlegate and on to the hot springs. Last time we were there, Tifany took close ups of the moon.
There is something notable about our destination.

Our point of departure will be my mother's house of course. What is funny about my family is that I have had a strange sense of foreboding and have been reluctant to contact them recently. Meanwhile, my first brother has packed up his business and is leaving to rural Idaho two days before I roll in to town. My second brother has returned from what appears to have been the lackluster trip to Mexico with our Dad that I had to opt out of. He is so far tight mouthed about it. In fact, only my mother has been in touch.
My youngest brother will be there. I hope our interaction is positive. I feel somehow some sort of remorse toward the other two and a fear of resentment.

The last time I saw my youngest brother was when he came through on the way home for summer break from college. On a lark we took a natural pscychadelic together (and of course the house joined in save 'M'. Who babysat and eventually got cozy with my brother. That experience, or rather my experience is the source of the title of this blog. A phrase I used along with others similar to describe how I felt and what I thought I was realizing. I would like to go into further detail at a later time, as I have yet to feel different about it. Life is the riddle that answers itself.

Next week...family camp. I hope I return before then. I have a lot I'd like to write about that I've been putting off.

10 June 2009

old blogs migrating here

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fear of Death pt II: contemplating whist reading Dune

Thinking about the apparent, but I believe opaque dichotomy of death and life, I came on an analogy. Of course the nature of things is that everything is analogous.
Consider breathing



Intake life sustaining oxygen
Outtake (seemingly) static Carbon dioxide

Both are separate activities as we delineate them, but as far as the body is concerned the difference is perhaps not so clear. More importantly, in and of themselves, neither one is the act of breathing. To breath we must inhale and exhale.

I am reminded of the different applications of the words death and life. "Death" is active, while "life" is passive. Inhale and exhale are active, while breathing is a broad passive. Life is a thing that contains death as the degenerative aspect of itself, just as exhalation is the degenerative aspect of breathing. What word is there for the regenerative aspect of life - the inhale?
Life is at least twice as large as the part we call life, it is also death and who knows what else.

I don't know why Dune had me in this state of mind, perhaps the characters' solipsizing led me to do the same. Here is some lint from my navel gazing, anyway. And before you raise a stink, which people often due on the internet, let me tell you that in addition to usually being true, all analogy is eventually false. Consider that, then comment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fear of death part III: Science!
After determing that it is just an elaborate ad machine for the labels, I have tried not to read Rolling Stone Magazine. However, I gotta take something into the john, and at work, it's all I've got. This month's issue contains a feature on Inventor Ray Kurzweil, the prophet of the singularity theory. The theory goes that technology will soon surpass human capacity for intelligence and at that point (of singularity) the two must merge, redefining life as we know it.
I don't even feel the need to refute his particulaly tech-heavy messianical vision. Even a lightweight like me can identify the logical, philosophical, technical and biological gaps in his staid prediction. What intrigues me is his purpose for arriving at this prediction, where the idea sits in our period of time and its place in our pre-agreed realities - an exagerated spike in a massive wave of our cultures paradigms.
His motivation seems to be a fear of death driven by the loss of his father 20 years ago. His belief in science is almost admiriably singular. There is no problem so great, he believes, that it cannot be overcome through application of creative human thought.
Some excerpts, mostly Kurzweil's own words:
"Death represents the loss of knowledge and information. A person is a mind file. A person is a software program - a very profound one, and we have no back-up. So when our hardware dies, our software dies with it....I've made an issue of overcoming death, and the strongest experience I've had with death is a tragedy.'"
Wow! This is today's paradigm for the mind - its a big computer. Is this true? I would venture not.

"'By scanning the contents of your brain, nanobots will be able to transfer everything you know, everything you have evr experienced, into a robot or a virtual reality program. If something happens to your physical body, no problem. Your mind will live on - forever....After 2045, Kurzweil predicts nanobots will replicate and spread throughout the tiniest recesses of matter, transforming the host - say, a tree or a stone - into a computational device. He calls this intelligent infested matter 'computronium, which is matter and energy organized at optimum level for computation. Using nanotechnology, we're going to organize matter into a computer.' As the nanobots spread computer intelligence beyond our planet, the universe itself will awaken as if a giant switch is finally being turned on. 'The universe is not conscious - yet, but it will be'"
What.The Fuck! This is a good thing?!?! But is artificial intelligence the same as sentience?

"'Most have a conventional concept of a lifespan...if they move more aggresively, they can actually be quite healthy In another 15 years, we get to a tipping point.' By then, he says, we'll have the means to reverse-engineer 'the information processes underlying biology' - giving us the power to ensure our immortality."

I recall reading a similar article in Wired a little while back.
Aside from the obvious, that Kurzweil has never read the science fiction implications of his irrationally rigid predictions, or seen Terminator, and that he needs some serious grief counseling over the death of his father (over 20 years ago), I am struck by the paradox of his quest. He truly believes there is no problem that cannot be overcome through creative human thought. This might be true. It has at least been the impetus to many of humanity's amazing acheivements. Perhaps, but his quest operates under the assumption that mortality is a problem.

when i was in junior high i would sometimes lie awake at night scared of what would happen to my consciousness after death, mostly that it would continue on. immortality scares me. the desire for such seems to be a result of fear of death, of the unknown, but i would say i can't think of anything worse than my consciousness continuing on forever and ever and ever...i don't think anyone can honestly comprehend eternity, making it kinda silly for someone to desire. although i suppose we do desire things we don't entirely understand all the time.

as for artificial intelligence being the same as sentience, man, i love (in a very selfish entertainment driven way) that this is still up for debate. still a part of the moral discourse that has entered into every aspect of society, including our lovely pop culture that you speak of. central to the recent battlestar gallactica themes, might i add, which goes to my selfish entertainment.

well basically i'm adding nothing to your post that you didn't already write, and write more eloquently, might i add. purely self-indulgent. i'll leave on a cliche note. mortality makes us human. though human nature is theorized and analyzed to the point of no return (which i am in no way complaining about as it is an interest of mine), i do hope we won't have to change that aspect of the definition.

Posted by little on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 - 7:22 PM

The greeks knew that mortality made us human, and the immortal gods envied that and the passion it propagated.

As for immortality of whatever it might be, it could not be an eternity, because at least it has a start. An eternity would extend to infinity, which has neither beginning nor end. I would suspect that if there was en eternal consciousness, it would be dealt in stages with only a dim concept of what came before and would come after. Perhaps we are already at a great length along that continuum, having birthed out of a different past into the present and dying into an entirely different future.
I prefer the concept that most fits with the nature of matter as composed of energy, being reorganized constantly constantly by Life, but always seeking entropy. A human being, and consciousness and even spirit, would be the energy we are composed of. It is unlikely that energy would maintain any level of unified organization after death, but would be given off in heat and consumed by organisms. These organisms do not inherit our being as we do not inherit the being of the organisms we consume, so our being must be diffused to no longer exist.
However, what of those moments before full diffusion. I would like to believe that dying is like a deep sleep that deepens to be un-plumbable and un-returnable. I would like to believe that those lat moments are in dream state and I know that dream state is neither limited by space no time. To our consciousness, Death is a dream that extends time beyond the maybe seconds a death takes, a surreal wrap up of our lives that is like a vortex (a swirling has always been a symbol of traversing levels of consciousness either way) down into what he have carried in our lives. Have you died with fears? This last dream might be filled with fear and rather hellish. Have you found some equilibrium in life? This last dream might be rather pleasant or at least a carrying on of the things you have loved. The dream as a St Peter projecting the state of your soul. And that dream fades away imperceptibly, as all deep dreams do without fear of end or what is beyond - which is nothing.

Posted by Nick on Thursday, June 04, 2009 - 9:53 PM

29 May 2009

What's a synonym for slow?

Some much called for solipsism:
(called for by my therapist)

I am recognizing my pace. I am not fast, abrupt, quick or witty. I am deliberate ponderous, leisurely...
I am to make a religion of this.
I am to be my own mythos.
Each day is one thing. Each thing is significant to me. My mind is like a garden growing or a stew, slow to simmer. I am the crust of the earth is slow upheaval and erosion. I am tectonic plates of imperceptible shutterings. I am magma concealed.
I am a slow burn.

I am to stop letting myself be distracted by modernity to the cult of speed.
I am going to find a paying position that is benefited by this gift.
I am going to gird my time and my space and let people feast on me at leisure.
This world will not catch me in its whirlwinds. I am a stone with its own life force, holding warmth and coolness.

Enjoy Enjoin Engine in idle.

01 May 2009

On the Edge of Arcadia

It has been a turbulent week here in my Arcadia...

Thinking of my many postponed trips and plans laid - I wonder at the intent, the why. What is this desire to adventure,these impulses come from what? Teenage Hemingway obsessions? Overindulgence in epic tales? Esquire Magazine and Men's Journal, to Hemingway as porn is to sex- exaggerated shells of form.
I have somehow wrapped my mind around the concept of adventure as a test, a gauntlet throw down between a man and mortality. I have lusted after the clarity that comes from a call to adventure, a clarity that is a hope for adventures that are illusions. There has always lurked the notion that Combat is pure, that there are ultimate measures of a persons fibre and integrity. Spectres of Chivalry, false notions I entertain. I confess to delusional romanticism.

Obviously I doubt the veracity of these ligamental beliefs, but they retain their tensions within me. I attempt to examine my mythologies and their origins. I wonder at the universality I seek in things.

I find myself framing my life with the legends that have raised me, from the Illiad to Star Wars. But those types of Adventures have not found me yet - no such hero's call for me. Joseph Campbell made his life work as a mythologist the distillation of the hero's journey, but is it merely a thread in our literature or an application toward ourselves individually? Maybe culturally.
I wonder what his Hero's Journey was and what called him to it. He abandoned his doctorate, He traveled Europe, He went into his cabin for year long stretches. Were any of those it. It seems very passive to me as interesting as his life was.

Of course this is the easy slope of Being literal. The hero's journey would be an internal development, an introspective journey...but with External Cause. Right? What are those, then, for me? Wives, children, loves, literature...

27 April 2009

Me and work, work and I

I have been a 40 hour a week worker since I was 17 years old. I had a union position at an industrial scale grocery store. For the most part, due to lifestyle necessity or ill perceived feelings of responsibility, I have maintained that work input for most of the last 13 years. I make less per hour now than I did at 18. This is the preamble to what has been a developing perspective on what I think I should be sussing out of life. An idea that stems from the known fact that TIME is the only un-replenishable asset.
My current position found me because I assumed the need to work a real job but was weary of selling my time so that someone (or something else) could make more money while viewing me as a liability. I wanted a position that provided the tainted lucre of subsistence to me while I provided an actual service of value to the community. I work with homeless youth, a position both fulfilling in its role and outcome as it is challenging and exhausting in its application. It does not really require special skill as it does special perspectives. I accepted the almost demeaning pay in exchange for a tacit flexibility of time. Our problem is perverse. As we have become more successful in mission, we have drawn more notice from "management", which means more investment in our mission. We are now the facilitators of many millions of dollars of donated funds - assets. We are now liabilities. Individuals who excel at their jobs are unsurpassed in their knowledge, are written off because their seniority demands higher pay. Newer individuals, who succeed unsupervised and under adversity - the unrewarded cogs and wheels, are nicked and gouged for minutes over and under. All this with a hearty expectation that each and every individual exemplify the Protestant work ethic wherein time off, paid or not, contractual or not, is cause for remonstration. Where the most inane underperformer is exalted and rewarded for a four year degree and punctuality.
I am ranting but there is a point. There is something wrong with this culture of work; something wrong with management school and human resource departments. Something wrong with viewing employees as liabilities and the first to be cut.
I am a lazy person but I love work. Where is the demarcation between good work and soul crushing labor? I love a task and a challenge. At my job, there is a special place for the more challenging clients, cannot decipher their own fear and helplessness and who hurl chairs through plate glass. I love someone saying fix this problem. Solve that riddle. I have been valued in every position I have had, and then something snaps. Why can I only take two weeks off(and even that!?!). You don't need to pay me for more. What does it matter that I am five minutes late or early if no one is inconvenienced?
In the army, we loved a challenge. I would rally around seven day workweeks and twenty hour days...when the task demanded it. But I would bristle at mindless downtime "productivity".
All I ask for is a reason to sell my time and a value for it. A financial value sure, but to have it valued is more.

26 April 2009

Some Manifesto work.

The Freedom Manifesto


Be Free!

Me builiding chicken coop

wife photographing garden in our yard

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
An idle parent is a thrifty parent
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields and forests
We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment
We reject health and safety guidelines
We embrace responsibility
There are many paths
More play, less work

children enjoying their own time

the idler

16 April 2009

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So I sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.

Though the weather had turned warm today and the wind relented, my day was cool and gloomy. My wife & housemates impetuously went to Six Flags Marine World. It was a spur of the moment adventure I could get into. I did not go - I went to bed sick and woke up sicker. They spent the day together in amusement; I spent the day dreaming fitfully and trying to watch some movies. I was aloof and grumpy. It is not so much a lost opportunity as an extension of a feeling of alienation from my roommates, which is further compounded by their perceptions of that feeling and their responses.It seems like their primary response is to avoid conflict with me by addressing my wife as my proxy. Grocery requests (I am house shopper), shared financial obligation, etc. She does not appreciate this. Neither do I.
The most recent incident occurred on the cusp of my illness and this jaunt, but seems to be a holdover from our last house meeting - how I loath house meetings! I have been planning, coercing, cajoling and negotiating my firstborn's birthday party for next Saturday. It is a sleepover so it must be on a Saturday. I am sure this was mentioned at the meeting. It was also mentioned at the meeting that my roommate wants to host a keg party fundraiser, to my vehement approval. No date was mentioned, but apparently it will be on the same evening and he is upset by the conflict. This is the problem for me. It is an end all problem for logistical reasons - you cannot host an 8 years old's sleepover and a keg party at the same time - and it is a problem for communication reasons. He has yet to tell me that he has a problem, but has gone through my wife twice.
Well that was a digression into the specifics of my day. I am ill and that has made me grumpy. I missed out on fun and that has made me disaffected. I have received this passive aggressive message and that has made me angry.
I did not want to talk to my wife. I did not want to talk to my best friend. I did not want to watch "Happy Go Lucky".
What is interesting to me in all this is the overall effect my mood had on my outlook. I have not shown yet where I went with it.
I was a scowling young misanthrope leaning into the street on my way to work. I was avoided by panhandlers and soliciters. I reflected on the entirety of my life and was not pleased. I cursed my past self for my choices. I considered the cross roads I had passed and wondered what routes led to those perpendiculars and how abrupt they might be. I hoped they were damagingly abrupt.
I am not exceptionally violent or destructive but I felt it then. I wanted things to burn behind me.
All this out of a grumpy illness and a roommate miscommunication

Someone has suggested recently that I might be manic-depressive or bipolar - whatever DSM II is calling it now. I don't have a convincing argument against that, other that it would not matter. A diagnosis would lead me nowhere, as I am not willing top be led my that.

What I think I was experiencing was a fallacy of interconnectedness.

14 April 2009

Well, here's what I was getting at last time -

I won't be going to Mexico, that messianic desert on a sea, like Galilee, at least to me. Oh I don't know. It wasn't fleshing out to what I hoped it would be. But now that's out. There must be somepace else to go. My dad suggested Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, and then Sacramento. We'll see.

08 April 2009

Yes, even this will change.

Reading back through my old blogs I find a number of little goals I set that seem to have been abandoned. I really don't want to be an apologist for my character, but I feel that it boils down to more than just not having the fortitude to set goals and meet them. I'll get back to you on what that is...

06 April 2009

I am so happy that I am alive, in one piece and short. I'm in a world of shit . . . yes. But I am alive. And I am not afraid.

I have spent the last two days in my yard. I must be a homebody. I enjoyed it more than a carefree weekend in New York; when I was there I knew that was true. I have dug post holes and hung a gate. I have weeded and planted. I fixed a bicycle. I met new neighbors. I drank mojitos of weed mint and unripe lemons in the shade of fruit trees on a bench I had made. I watched the cat stalk flies. I looked up from happy toil as my kids had an early summer day outside together. The sun set on us outside.

I have not known many better days. I imagined a simple perfection and it did not seem so out of reach. There is not much that needs to be said about participating in the growth and destruction of nature, in cultivating order out of chaos and appreciating the inherent order. Words fail everything worthwhile from my garden days.

My working hands -

04 April 2009

The Great Rus

I am reading an old paperback history of Russia. It is something I've always wondered about. I am amazed how much influence the Khans of Mongolia had. They were bureaucratic and expansive. They brought knowledge of Japan, India and China to the places they conquered, which includes Poland, Turkey, Serbia, Iraq, Iran and even into Italy.
The Russians themselves were slavs at the constant whim of the Eastern Hordes, Constantinople, The Teutonic Knights, and the Vikings - another group glossed over in history.

I am just amazed at the expansion of overlap. I think our views of history and even prehistory underestimate the interconnectedness that our species has demonstrated.

02 April 2009

To family is all you can do

Some people are a sickness on this land
They're killing, they're taking, they're stealing
Whatever they can
Anything, anything, anything that is not bolted down

Your life, your money, your heart, your faith, your bike
Anything that is not bolted down

Learn from the animals, monkeys do
Monkeys do piggish things too
Learn from the vegetables, monkeys do
The way they strive towards the light
A small potato in the blight
Still strives towards the light
I know it's as dark as night
It's as dark as night

It is day though

Some would ask, what are we to do
With a world that crumbles to the touch?
A world that spins and dies where it stands,
Like trying ain't enough?

To family is all you can do
To family is all you can do
Even if it's just us two
To family is all you can do

And strive towards the light
Strive towards the light
It's as dark as night
Strive towards the light
Strive towards the light
I know it's as dark as night

It is day though

- Bill Callahan

25 March 2009


Pillars of fire in the desert

"I can imagine you would get used to being very quiet and alone with all that desert."

I have been getting nervous as our Mexico trip approaches. Logistics, money, employment, etc.
I have even contemplated certain 'outs' from time to time. One of those times was today.
I said to someone in conversation, describing my indecisions and regrets as thirty approached, as I look back do I get discouraged, do I take it as motivation?
Neither, he replied. That's escapism; you remember that you made choices for a reason and you are living the results of those reasons. Live that, remember it, be aware and continue with that awareness.
I understood this, it is known but maybe not felt, at least not always. But, I said, half joking - I just want a burning bush to be there.
I was thinking of Moses, and was amused by the unintended humor. Moses did not even trust the bush. Confused by my reference, the reply was a reference to The Last Temptation of Christ, A favorite film of mine, and one I had just been thinking about.
He says- Jesus went into the desert for forty days right?


Without food and saw he burning bush (actually a pillar of fire and Satan in the film. Same thing really), but the burning bush was always there, the desert just brought it into focus. You ask for a burning bush, but it is always there. (Now referring to my trip), you will know if this is something you need to do or just a symbol that has gotten larger than it is worth.

The amazing thing is he had just given me the signal with his analogous misstep. Here I am at thirty thinking back, in decades as we tend to, looking down at where I am and reaching forward. Ten years ago, I let myself be talked out of a purpose. I was near the apex of spiritual crisis and intended to drive my van to the desert in Mexico and fast as Christ had done. No one supported this, least of all the people I expected to. I leaned back on that lack of support. Had I gone, then what...?
I did not go and then, the next ten years of my life. Here I am on the precipice of a similar endeavor. Here I go. We are going. Jesus was thirty when he started walking.
That burning bush is always there. Fire walk with me.

Here is a biblical twin peaks:

featuring Willem Defoe, a favorite actor

24 March 2009

We lose to life, every time

We were full on with motivation and dirty earthen life. But it rained - it is the sky coming low to our puny hills. It rained for the month of February - mercifully a leap year. We were maybe foolhardy to plant in January, maybe deluded by our own vigour at the vigour of our seed.

You can tell, looking out the steamed bathroom window as I do every day, the vibrant green of each supple flora blurring into a singular verdure, as if the window had been enveloped in moss.
Everything grew that we did not touch. Our straight rows are bare; our hard worked beds beset.
There is an empty hole where there should be a fruiting tree. There is mud where paths were planned. Twenty laying hens and rich warm eggs with golden yolks are displaced by the reality of garden detrious - scattered bricks, warped lumber, rust. Things undone. We levelled ground and planted a spa. It is filled with rainwater and uncovered, a wrinkled blue tarp peeling off it like a drying membrane in the sun. Benches, solid things upturned. Did the rain accomplish that?

We were drowned that month. And waterlogged we lie about, lower that the sour grass waving in our gentle breezes like kelp beds in the currents.

20 March 2009

I am but a resounding gong...

I would say that I am experiencing a paradox. While I am excited about my present state, and look foreword to my future state optimistically, I feel subject to a subtle haunting by my past. It is hard to describe. I am planning a month long expedition, leaving my job with the a literal blessing of my supervisor who I respect insurmountably. I am fulfilling a promise to myself in doing this and feel I might return to a perspective with more possibilities. My wife is more beautiful each day, quitting smoking and successfully hustling in her unique and creative way. I am reading more and getting out in the world...but I feel that upon this scene someone has folded a decade old section of me.
What section it is I do not know. But this thing, this hook planted so long ago has sent its line ahead and I am just now snagging it. Perhaps its a potency I had once that I lack. How was I reminded of it. An old vibration -

...and why am I writing in awkward analogy? Because I do not know, but I do feel.

18 March 2009

Who I serve

This site is an advocacy group attempting to document the lives of homeless youth, the population I serve at my job, our clients. Covenant House Oakland clients are featured in the video section, but the whole thing is pretty poignant.

17 March 2009

St Patrick's Day

Quick check in: Awesome sledding adventure with friends, brothers, children & wife. Not so awesome casino adventure (-$20). Fun family game night surprise dad visit & intoxicated mother. Hot tub. Too much thrift storing - good finds: record player!, practically a new library's worth of books, black dress shoes. Kayak paddle#$%!!!%^&!!!
A great trip with too much drinking but no drama.
That said - I need some alone time, preferably with new books or kayak.
Tonight 'm going to go get a Shakin' Jesse Guinness milk shake and go home.

I'm not Irish after all.

12 March 2009

30, Thirty, 3 decades, XXX, a score and a half, 30% of a century

I am coming up on my thirtieth birthday - thus being completely untrustworthy to hippies. Well that's good anyway.
I am not really flipping out about being the first person in my house to crack the decade. After all, my two best friends are already there. But I am taking the opportunity to reflect a bit. Where was I a decade ago? Ten years ago (aged 20), I was experiencing a spiritual crisis as an independent Christian. I was disillusioned with the people who brought me up in the Church, and more with the people in the Church supposedly studying the good word along side me. I focused the resentful disillusionment usually saved for the actual religion on these practitioners. In fact, I left organized religion but did not abandon the twenty years I had spent in it. Many people (including my mother) are so put off my the hypocrisy that they seem to spiritually rebound to that watered down Buddhism/Taoism so common in product marketing these days. Others join demagogues like Christopher Hitchens in proselytized atheism. They are free to do that, but I cannot help but maintain that the Jewish/Christian tradition is a core touchstone in Western (i.e. everything west of India) culture. So many analogies and memes are baseless without it. I cannot help but be little Jungian about its influence on our collective awareness.
The last time I cracked a Bible was when I was in basic training in 2001. I was twenty one years old. It was one of the few books we were allowed and being the vociferous reader I am, I managed to bully through the new testament NIV. I have decided to re-read the bible beginning on my 30th birthday. I am inspired by a series I read on the online magazine Slate, blogging the bible. The author read the Hebrew bible, which is pretty much the old testament, unassisted from cover to cover and commented on his thoughts and reactions as he did.
The Bible is a historic document. It is not a written history, but a product of western history from very close to its cultural beginnings. In it we can see the progression of Judaism from Egyptian/Syrian/Babylonian synthesis, through Greek and Roman reason, and - I believe - on to Eastern Mysticism. In it we can watch a religion progress through thousands of years from the gates of animism, through state sanction, to scholarship, to prophetic rebellion and back again to the state in a very few generations. It is a Mystic book and a legal book, a history and a collection of legends, it is uplifting and depressing.I am sure many people would say even angrily something along the lines of this commentator (on the Slate series):

"Wow, I find your assertion that everyone should read the Bible as smacking of so much relativism, I can't believe it. I have read the beginning of the Bible and I found it so silly and laughable that I stopped. I'd really rather the chatters and your readers get caught up on history, science, literature, etc. instead of a book of fables. Would you also push for the teaching of satanic texts? I'm so tired of people acting so high and mighty about their religious preferences. Write an article on the truly important texts that people have never read (Plato, Aristotle, Copernicus, DaVinci, etc.) and I'll take you seriously."

I would say that there are some very important books of fables that are also a part of the Western Cannon (just as the Eastern Cannon has its own): Grimm, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, etc.
And while I would suggest that anyone who wished to know about or contest satanism read the satanic texts, I would not say that satanism has a great and intrinsic influence, and that it is a direct reply to Christianity and borrows one of its main players.
And while I would say that one would certainly gain insurmountably from reading the great minds of western thought, it is precisely because people have not read them that they lack the broad influence of other works that have had consistent influences for millennium. These books' influence is mostly chronological: Socrates begot Plato begot Aristotle... begot Thomas Aquinas...begot Copernicus...Nietzsche, etc.

As for relativism...well there is a lot to read and you have to start somewhere. I am going to read the bible, cover to cover. I have not decided on the translation, but I want to read without commentary and with a nice red pen. I want to see how ten years of loose and undirected study directs my reading it now. I might comment on it here from time to time.

11 March 2009

its morning time

Today I am being proactive. Today I am typing before anything actually happens!

Yesterday, I accompanied T to the Oakland YMCA; had a good workout - 20 minutes of ellipticals, 40 each of 50 lb curls, 50 lb tricep extentions, incline sit-ups, crunches, dips & leg lifts. Perhaps pushed myself too hard. When I woke up this morning, my triceps were so sore and stiff that I could not bend my arms to scratch my nose or adjust my collar! At least nothing else is sore. I was expecting my abs to be the pain, I felt like throwing up when I was done. Good old army training - work till muscle failure.

I am really looking foreward to this weekends trip to Nevada. I always seems like it will be restful, though usually it is too quick and too busy. Always fun though. I miss the almost meditative calm and quiet of visiting my grandparents in Big Bear. Go for a walk in the woods, play solitaire, watch squirrels. I should write them a letter. I miss them.

I miss so many people right now. I think a little letter discipline is what that calls for.

09 March 2009

I lied

Some would say you have lied if you say you will do something and then do not, if action does not follow intent...
I said I would write every day and I certainly have not. I did not lie, but I certainly showed temerity in proclaiming that goal in the face of my past. A lie is an action that needs intent itself. I merely showed weakness in character. However, I will not be so discouraged.

I have had a fine weekend - played scrabble Saturday evening, slept in Sunday, woke up and read the comics with coffee. Then had some face time with friend 'J' tea and toast and masted boats. Went and saw "the Wrestler" with my lady at the el Cerrito speakeasy (nicer than the Oakland one). I really enjoyed the film, not so much for standout qualities, but for its normalcy. A simple story with fleshy characters living out the subtle arc of a story in part of their lives. I appreciate that the film suggests so much but is not a morality tale, like a well written story in short form. You should see it.

I received news this evening that two of the clients at my work got into an altercation and have been discharged. That these particular clients did this is not a surprise, though they might not have done it with each other. As a staff member it is also an experience worth being anecdotal, amongst other staff at least, and somewhat comical. However, it is hard and good to remember that now two people have lost their best option, at least for a while. Of course they are experiencing their situation as a result of their own actions, but who is not. That does not preclude compassion. It is good to remember that the ones who have it least of all, who are confused and frustrated by the world around them more that I could imagine are the ones in greatest need. My job will be easier and safer with these two particular clients gone. My job will be less effective with these clients gone. The ones who are most difficult are the ones most in need.

06 March 2009

Books I want to read

I missed yesterday so today I'll do two...and the first will be an open and continuing log of books I might want to read based on whatever makes me think I might want to read them:

These are mentioned by a reviewed who admits his favorite fiction reads are actually genre stuff - Detective Mysteries & Espionage Thrillers, and has a hard time getting into most contemporary fiction or as Tom Wolfe memorably put it—novels by Iowa Writers' Workshop fellows who move to a corn belt state exurb and have five conversations with a plumber named Lud and think they've had an epiphany about the American soul that makes for the weak-tea post-Carver "mall-fiction" we had to suffer through for so long
Detective Mysteries & Espionage Thrillers happen to be my favorite genres and I can smell the stink of Iowa writer's workshop a hectacre away.

The List
A Coffin for Dimitrios
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Phillip Kerr's Berlin Trilogy
The Book of Daniel
The Sot Weed Factor
The Year of the Dog
Pale Fire
Tristam Shandy...

05 March 2009

Have you seen Lawrence of Arabia?

I netflixed it, feeling there was a very specific reason I needed to watch it. I have seen it before and some recollection of emotion or feeling was asking to be re-felt. I came home and my room-mates were halfway through it.
This is not much of anything today. It is two in the morning and I cannot assemble my scrambled thoughts on the day. I have been sleeping more than usual and dreaming all the while. Maybe that will help. Good luck out there world and good luck future Me.

03 March 2009

The banality of evil

I am at work, and have lent to my clients the film "City of God." I have not been watching, but attending to tasks of the evening. I went out at random and watched the following scene:
This taking place in the slums of Rio, two neighborhood leaders are vying for control. The first is up and coming and celebrated by the community for bringing a level of order to his neighborhood. The second is more laissez faire and controls a gang of prepubescents. These kids are running rampant, mugging and stealing from within the community etc., disrupting the so-called order of the first. Initially the second lead man is confronted, then a group of kids is caught in the act by the first and two are apprehended - approximate ages: 6 & 9. They must choose between being shot in the hand or the foot. The foot. But wait, this is a perfect opportunity for the leader to initiate his own prepubescent protege, aged maybe 11. He must kill one of the kids, and eventually shoots the older one.
I experienced an intense emotional distress watching this scene, that has not really subsided an hour later. Most likely and most viscerally because the youngest kid reminded me of one of mine. More cerebrally I am affected because I am aware that though this is a potentially fictional scene from a movie based on real events, it is possibly a representative of a real event and is a representation for uncountable similar events and worse. Regular events.

I have often contemplated the narrow path of civilization, where a deviation toward the lack of can create situations of horrific chaos in otherwise respectable people and deviation toward too much can create horrific bureaucratic indifferences at the hands of otherwise loving individuals. The more horrific events in human history have not occured because someone suddenly emptied all the maximum security prisons. They happened because something or someone found a switch that empowered many people to realize their always present negative potential, be it the dismal power trip of an anonymous desk job wherein submitting certain forms literally destroys people, or the lack of moral accountability that allows people to exlore and exercise their otherwise externally monitored feelings toward violence.

Read about how terrorists are not inhuman monsters and neither really are the people who tortured them at guantanamo bay here: http://humanrights.ucdavis.edu/projects/the-guantanamo-testimonials-project/testimonies/testimonies-of-military-guards/testimony-of-brandon-neely

Jesus supposedly said "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment."

I am not prostelytizing here. I am not a Christian but this is my upbringing and my knowledge-base. What I see in that, is the potentiality in all of us. His larger point being that we are all "sinners" and the playing field is rather level. It is a freightening bundle of potentialities, from Godlike to daemeonic, but most horrible things come from the mediocre in between.


Quote of the day from a woman who's husband and children are vegetarians: "They tell me, 'Your body is a graveyard for dead animals,' " she says ruefully.

02 March 2009

Second verse, same as the third

This blog has already caused a bit of a scandal around here. I'm not sure why but in the spirit of this fine nation, I am willing to capitalize on it. I'm waiting for publishers to come running, or maybe Oprah.

Today we had a play-date with G's friend P. I was thinking about the otherworldly feeling I have of being judged by teachers and other parents. Maybe it is because I am divorced and have the experience of actually having my parenting come under Judgement. I am not used to operating as if the presumptions of other people actually mean much to me; I have always had a fair amount of that for myself, let alone the hard measure from religion (I will get to that later in depth, hopefully). Maybe it also stems from being at least a decade and social class under the other parents I encounter. It is worth thinking about and I would recon for myself worth correcting. The difficulty of that is that I am bound through not necessarily friendly, and certainly not representative, tendrils to my childrens' mother.

Ho hum - tonight's game night, so off I go. Game night here every other monday night. a forced sociallizing that is probably good for me.

Signing off

Why I'm here.

Everyone else is here, right?
Well I know a good tool when I see one.

A rejected title to my blog was "discipline thyself". When I met 'T', I was in a deep period of self contemplation. On a cork-board in my otherwise spartan bedroom I had that as a personal mantra. Maybe the mantra itself is a little spartan, but it certainly has its applications.
This blogging tool I hope to apply to the task of disciplining myself to input something of substance everyday. Maybe in this way I can finesse
out of myself a certain level of skill at and a comfort in writing. One day I may write something of some worth.

Of course another mantra in my life has been everything in moderation[including moderation].
I am christening this blog with my first drink in a month(albeit the shortest month), whiskey and ice. happy trail!

...we shall see.