Empty Days

Saturday, November 08, 2003

To each his own

Finally got to Andrew Sullivan's blog, unavoidable like the statue of Liberty. Did notice his link on many a catholic page - now I see why. Your typical conservative, with a twist however. Which is his own homosexuality and defence of it. I suppose this marks him out as a moderate - whenever you're black, or gay, and conservative, you've got the breaks on; your quirks force you to think a little further than your peers let's say. So he's pushing for gay marriage, and to read him one would think he is living in some other world. This quote is somewhat outlandishly blissful:
Like straight marriage, it would foster social cohesion, emotional security, and economic prudence. Since there's no reason gays should not be allowed to adopt or be foster parents, it could also help nurture children.
Oh really? I don't think this represents the prevailing thinking in the actual world out there. Or am I missing something here. The reason the idea of gay marriage is so shocking to the regular-joe in the street is very much the same that makes him wince at child-adoption by gays. It may be highly irrational and badly argued, but it's firmly entrenched - and Sullivan purports not to notice. I don't know. Perhaps this is just his usual style - making things sound obvious when they're not.


Bare bone

Got all caught up in the technicalities again. Waste of time and effort, as usual. Unfortunately, I can never just quit and switch to "something completely different" - once i set my mind on some trifle, i must go all the way, no matter how insignificant, useless, senseless etc. This time it's RSS. Apparently there's no way on earth I can set up a search on this blog without this blasted "feed". I guess I'll suffer some more over this but I'll nail the sucker, there is no question about that. In any case, the way I waste time with this blogging thing is just unbelievable. Maybe I need this - being absorbed, heedless. Internet is a toy, bone to the dog, kid stuff. It does look like some giant raving kindergarden sometimes. I must be projecting :-0

***

Speaking of kindergardens. I think it has something to do with the weekend and the fact that the kids next door and upstairs are all stuck at home, running around like crazy, jumping, yapping, screaming their lungs out, banging against the walls - this appartment does feel like something of a cardbox sometimes. Still, that's the best shot at privacy I'll ever get - listening through the wall to neighbours conversing in unknown languages, being puzzled by unidentified noises, getting rattled by all this knocking and poking and cracking and fucking... Yeah, well, fucking gets really loud in the summer, something around 5am, when they think nobody can hear them. What can I say - in this type of flimsy structure, either you fuck in complete silence or you let it go full volume, no use "hushing" it down, sound really travels in here. It's not really a slum, no, but it's close.

And since I am on the subject (lamenting, oh yes) I'd still rather have whatever mad noises than *stink*. Stink is the worst. Had a large family living next door a few years back and it was straight hell all through - some ethnic cuisine, i don't really know what kind of spice they used (garlicky but much more pungent), it was maddening, it permeated furniture, it sipped in through every hole and crank, the whole damn building was full of it all the time. Man, I had huge battles with these guys all year long (pls don't open the door to ventilate, open the fucking window etc) but battling smell is a useless entreprise - you can't very well stop people from cooking their stuff, van you. I don't battle over noise, it's nothing compared to stink. So I guess it's not that bad these days, I sure know how much worse it can get if I am unlucky with those ever-changing neighbours. It's a lottery, a fucking roulette, I wonder what it shall be next year...

***

Since blogging took my mind off my life I've been feeling kind of better than usual. Totally careless - whatever the future may bring, doesn't matter. Having no hope is a good thing sometimes - no expectations, no pressing desires, no hassle, no projects rewarding or not, no responsabilities, no regrets, no life. It's not bad, having nothing to look forward to. Bland perhaps, but not really boring. I think boredom is directly related to activity - a whole lot of energy going nowhere, that's boredom. Since I've got no such pressing urges, I am never bored. Perfectly fine with me. Wasted time, wasted life perhaps but I'll leave all the major regrets for later, when it'll too late to do anything about it in any case.

***

There is no poetry in my life, I completely lost all sense of things. I once loved verse, knew a lot of fine stuff by heart (Yeats, Petrarca, T.S.Eliot, blah-blah), enjoyed it too. It's all gone for good now, I can't even see what it was I liked about it, how and why. I guess I just have to surrender to this aridity, let it be, conceed to the inevitable. Perhaps this shall be my ultimate achievement - total surrender, oblivion, no regrets.


Blogswamps

I still got no clue how linking and linking-back occurs in blogworld, but so far i am finding that popularity doesn't equate with quality as i understand it. Most (though not all, luckily) of the frequently mentioned blogs are heavily politico or educational and it's not really my cup of tea. Also, I'm getting this odd feeling that some blogs start out original in the best personal sense of the word and then get screwed up by the popularity itch - turning politico or educational to feed the swelling crowd. So the best way to spot out peculiar stuff is still the random poke - fishing out the odd fish. I wonder if I'll find other ways eventually.
[ Perhaps it's because I am not american & most blogs are & i couldn't care less about most of the topics & i am generally asocial so in the end i am reduced to searching for good-sense and some depth of vision in whatever culture/language i can relate to. Could be. ]

Some blogs which sport appealing and/or comfortable design and not only: Wizbangblog, Censored Rabbit, Outside Beltway, Ace Pilot, Revolutionary Scum, Spoons Experience. Notably, the vast majority of nice designs come from "wealthy" bloggers (those with Movable Type as opposed to blogspot com). I guess that makes sense - when you can afford what you see in Vogue, you definitely will afford a nice blog too :-0

***

Info-politico blogs that I liked today: Buzz Machine and Dean's World. I just read a huge (full page, oh man) article in TLS about Salam Pax, the famous warblogger from Baghdad. To my immense surprise (i'm so immensely ignorant) it's been published in book form, which is a big blow to blogging as far as I am concerned (though it's good for the guy for sure, he's gonna pocket some cash and he needs it too), but the truly astonishing thing is that the review that deals with it is itself somehow blog-like. This quote is typical blog-talk:
For those seeking to understand Iraq, Pax's narrative, straightforward and sincere, is revealing. If decision-makers in London and Washington had taken the time to consult Pax's musings before the war, their understanding about the country they are now failing to control would have been greatly enhanced.
Now, maybe that's just journalistic over-statement, but blog-talk is famous for precisely that kind of man-in-the-street indignations about how the powerful of this world are so dumb and never take the subway to work preferring their dim-window limousines instead. For all the virtues of bogging, I am somehow very skeptical about the idea that some day some gov will base its policies on some particularly informative blog. Salam's reporting-from-the-street was published by Guardian Books which is always innovative in the way it uses whatever it can lay its hands on to fight "the Nazis of the world" (hoho). Profanating blogging was not a concern. The fact that Salam's blog is actually an ordinary-man's blog, just like it should be really, was not a concern either. All the indignant amazement at how little most Westerners (including journalists, right) know about Iraq is supposed to be news. Good God. Have we ever known better, will we ever? Of course not. It's got nothing to do with Iraq in particular - we just don't know that much about places, be it the Balkans, or Africa, or Russia, Latin America, Middle-East, China... you name it. Will the media of the world get any better on the strength of Salam's reports? No, it won't. The whole thing is just your usual political campaign against the war in Iraq and since blogging is picking up, they decided to use a blog to capitalize on the buzz-word. That's all there is, really. Sorry for Salam, the ordinary guy, who's been manipulated like hell. Sorry for TLS who's given a full-page to sheer blurb hype - but I am aware their grasp on politics is generally too remote to discern glaring absurdity.

***

Earlier on, the reviewer (Toby Dodge) introduced the roots of blogging:
"Blogging" was once an obscure activity dominated by those with too much time on their hands and an unhealthy obsession with the internet. (...) This was a closed, insular and self-referential world, largely concerned with the consumption of popular culture as seen from a darkened bedroom. This is how Salam Pax's own blog began - as a letter to an absent friend. [TLS, Oct.24, 2003]
Still is of course, an obscure activity, which obscurity - in case we didn't know - is the very thing that allows for all the freedom blogging was/is synonymous with. Those who are not so obscure and are getting fired from their jobs for not being obscure are perhaps inviting their own doom by wanting to throw as much weight on the net as they do on the job. Case in point - "The firing of Easterbrook" over allegedly anti-semitic comments he's made, well summarized by BuzzMachine and kicked dead by iSteve: "Unfortunately for Easterbrook, the Limbaugh lynching in which he participated established a precedent at ESPN that heterodox thinkers should be silenced. Oh, well, Gregg, you live and learn." Meantime, BuzzMachine also quotes Andrew Sullivan who provides an interesting commentary on the nature of blogging:
Hubris? I think it would be hubris if one believed that somehow blogging is a superior form of writing to all others, or somehow revealing of the truth in ways that other writing isn't. But I know of no bloggers who would argue that. It's a different way of writing, one that acknowledges that it is imperfect and provisional and subject to revision. In that sense, it makes far fewer claims than, say, a lengthy essay published in the literary press. But, by acknowledging its limitations, it is also, I'd argue, sometimes more honest than other forms of writing, in which the writer pretends to finality, to studied perfection, to considered and re-considered nuance or argument, when he is often winging it nonetheless.... Blogging is now a part of literature. And it deserves to be understood rather than simply dismissed.
My view exactly. See below, and I just love quoting myself, oh my: "Bloggers write half for themselves, half for others. So the propaganda-factor is watered down and double-edged. I know I bullshit a lot here, but less than I would bullshit if I had to write an article instead of a journal entry."

Now, this Easterbrook was fired because of instant online lynching by a mob obsessed with the word "anti-semite"and here's a comment by Dean Esmay (Dean's World blog) pertaining to the Buzzmachine entry referrenced above:
Yeesh. This entire Easterbrook affair has exposed an ugly side to Judaism: a hypersensitivity to anything that remotely even looks anti-semitic so bad that you can't even say "Jew" without giving someone somewhere offense--and a mentality that fosters a near witch-hunt atmosphere.[Buzzmachine Comments, October 22, 2003 04:56 AM]
After which I immediately went to check out Dean's blog and so far it seems sensible enough. There I found a short post entitled Campus Fascism which lead me to Critical Mass bloggings about hypersensitivities, not at all Jewish in this case, resulting in suspension of a college professor for allegedly foul language in class (a different take on the case is offered at Invisible Adjunct).

I suppose all this is somehow interconnected: mobbing out people from schools, from jobs, from blogs... The more popular you get, the better lynching crowd you'll assemble for your own future execution. The small world of blogs is mirroring rather well the big cowardly world outside. And still, a blog is a private voice, spoken from the darkened bedroom, an epos of strong opinions, graced or not by any recognizable authority. Perhaps that reviewer from TLS should have published his soliloqui in a blog - the paper's reputation was not enough (for me) to add any weight to his pronouncements. Perhaps this is the salutary aspect of blogging that it teaches to recognize good-sense in obscure places and dispells the elusive fog of prestige.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Harvest of links

Ok, before I go, I should consign this medley of blogs I've scouted out today. There is the inevitable politico entry for BeatnikSalad, a lefty thing with a grove of Euro-oriented links for a change. Then, a highbrow semi-politico blog with an elegant title Locus Solus and equal-to-stature pointers - from which I ended up at two very different places. On one hand, a purely educational blog which seems quite popular too - Language Hat; and a blog from an anti-war american GI come back from Iraq - TurningTables, who admittedly receives tons of hate-mail but not only. All these blogs are more or less inter-connected - let's say it's a cluster of certain known sensibilites. Finally, to echoe today's TLS reading and glimpses of anti-postmodernist campaign quietly raging all over the place, an article on Bad Writing in Academia (where else) - as if I gave a fuck... but with all this stuff here it's practically unavoidable.
Oh yes, also the Blogsnob to hunt down snobs.


The secret nature of simplicity

Like I said, pics on the page. "Sicilian youth at play" (click on image for better viewing), from a site exploring the secret venues of gay lust in the days of Andre Gide and other such adventurers.

Ethnographic camelio, still valid for all places where people are less obsessed with sexual politics than just living and taking it easy despite strict morals and papa and mama:
"A discernible pattern for such relationships developed early on. Many-a-young-man who consorted intimately with a foreign gentleman retained a special relationship with that man until his dying day. And yet, other aspects of life went on as usual. With very few notable exceptions the most common scenario was of a young Sicilian developing an intimate attachment to a foreign “gentleman,” eventually marrying and raising a family (always with significant assistance from the older friend) but never abandoning a special relationship with that friend. If it finally ended in sexual and monetary terms it rarely broke ties that bound them in what can only be called a familial sense. And yet, the relationship always retained something “special,” clearly “different,” and surprisingly widely known. It was just not talked about by the Sicilians. Indeed that rule of silence on the subject still obtains in Sicily at the end of the 20th century!"

And since I am on the topic, I should also mention Jean Genet, another French homo-writer whom I've always deeply enjoyed for sheer poetical vision and unblinking grasp on all things pathetic, fervent, and never really spoken. Jean Genet was an orphan turned thief, homeless, hustler, and finally poet. There are incredibly veracious pages in his books on such things as - dignity in humilation, heroism in debasement, beauty of cowards and liars, hate as love in cops and robbers... If you think Jean Genet is nothing but a literary gay icon you're missing on some *deep* psychology right there.


Study in obscura

It's been a primetime mystery with me as to how people believe - accommodating dogma, intelligence, wit and skepticism all in the same package. I know what skepticism is made of. Belief, the religious variety in particular, is much less obvious. My reasons to wonder are not polemical, and it's not about whether the object of belief (God, or Communism, you name it) is legitimate - it's mostly about refusal to doubt, the psychological reality of dogma, what it implies.

Dismissive accounts of believers are not satisfying in that sense. Their critics are usually self-satisfied and mostly intent on disproving something they deem aberrant. Believers themselves are too caught up in belief to look at it as a relative mode of thinking, the very notion is offensive to them, so no discussion is possible. I've met superiorly intelligent people among believers and that's what first caused me to wonder - the palpable gap between the sharpest skeptic wit and the unquestioning, unassailable realm of dogma within.

In fact, one of my academic mentors had been a Dominican monk, a Frenchman, with a mind as sharp as a razor's edge - it cut to the heart of everything, I could even say it cut everything to pieces. Everything, except his religion. Whenever I attempted to question his faith, all his manner would change in an instant, it was as if a wall would rise inside him - untouchable subject, closed to the probing mind.
This experience was later repeated with others. A priest I tried to question - same result. The deeper I tried to see, the less I saw. Or rather I saw something that had nothing to do with the nominal contents of dogma as expounded by the believer. The easy way out would be to explain everything through some obvious psychological mechanisms of self-aggrandizing - grounding one's ego in a wider setting. The usual explanation, too superficial for my purposes.

Blogs are terrific in the way they allow a peek into the inner workings of people. Not a very deep one perhaps but better than none at all. Bloggers write half for themselves, half for others. So the propaganda-factor is watered down and double-edged. I know I bullshit a lot here, but less than I would bullshit if I had to write an article instead of a journal entry. Therefore, concerning the above, I found myself spying on religious blogs - perhaps I'll finally find some clues there, to the illusive and the unspoken... :-0


Racism anybody?

Concerning racism I have much to say but I better not, for fear of wantonly offending some wandering soul. Basically my experience has been that it's one of those things that you can't really avoid - hating your neighbour is an old concept and racism is no different. What's different is the ideology behind the word. And whenever you deal with ideology, you're in deep shit - because it's so very far removed from that everyday life people live despite themselves. It's all very well to promote global village and the crossing of all the frontiers there are to cross, human reality remains reticent. And ideology (any ideology, for that matter) has no respect for human reality.

Excerpt from a long unpublished post I wrote about this:
"The fact that various human communities are different is not a problem. The problem is that human communities are narrow-minded, self-focused and quite naturally exclusive of outsiders. Racism is an ideological concept in the sense that the very word (highly negative) promulgates an idea of global crossing of these natural limits. You're supposed to disregard these differences and barge right into any community you want just like you barge into a restaurant of your choice to enjoy the various cuisines of the world. "With an open heart and a clear mind". This works fine with food - you pay, you leave. But it really doesn't work that way when you stumble into people you don't understand and who don't understand you either."

Then I leafed through that TLS issue and here it was, that very idea of mine:
To aver that race has something to do with cooking and eating is to say nothing. Cookery books are the opposite of racist. They provide one of the best, most gratifying ways for their readers to get to know about other ethnic groups and cultures (even social classes) other than their own.
Sounds nice, doesn't it? Not to me. The world is not exactly a big cook book all there for your global enjoyment. Those far away places you go to because you've got the cash, because you've got that global urge - maybe they don't want you there. But you barge in anyway. And then you confuse them into believing they too are welcome to your world. It's all ideology, all ideas - just not the way it is in reality.

***

Politically correct thinking is equivalent to missionary thinking - you preach a world that does not exist and you mislead people into hoping for something that is not there, a just world. No such thing as a just world. People aren't universal, they're isolated and small-minded, petrified in their ancient ways, rich of themselves and arrogant of others. They're backward and you look down on them because they're not scient and global like yourself. Here, you are racist already... and you thought you were bringing them the Good News. You are an idealist. Your ideas defy your own realities.

Another quote from TLS, on the same general subject:
In France you can be fined or even jailed for saying offensive things, the media brand writers as racists on the flimsiest of evidence, and publishers routinely withdraw books that fall foul of progressive watchdogs. France, which prides itself on the quality of its intellectual debate, is a country where controversial ideas are often silenced by zealots and lawyers, rather than discussed.
We are not in France, thank God, and racism is a controversial subject. But you don't really need lawyers to shut you up - your own inner zealot will do that for you, the one who says that your best intentions are just and necessary, the one that fools you into thinking yourself universally good. In his name you will deny and trample reality, your own and that of others. I don't see any way out of this except to acknowledge my limits: that I am just as stupid and narrow-minded as any and no amount of universalist ideas will ever put me above that fact... :-0


wasted

Had a lot to say after reading that first TLS issue delivered-to-my-door but it all went down the drain when I decided to rearrange this page. Now it looks less blue, easier on the eye, and that was the idea. I can't go blind just yet - reading is my main life-saving activity.

Also decided to put up some images instead of linking. Slows down opening the page, or even stalls it completely when some link goes awry, but it's better than just sand-desert-wind. Also, have no clue how to search this blog. It's getting fatter and fatter and I'd like to know where I put that odd link I wish to go back to and can't. I am blogging without restraint and the bin is going to overflow at some point - that google-engine in my head, I mean.

Incidentally, parts of the design were stolen from a naughty blog bearing a stunning title Pansexual Sodomite... Ah well, I go places, what do you know.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

French fog

Another random blog, from the gray mists of whiny France this time, undertitled Kill me again... Good God, and I thought I were *the* whiner of this world. Guess I lost touch with Frenchy realities out here; this bloggy would be a good way to get back to the deep winter of continental discontent.

Plus, I can't quite figure out as yet how to listen to music on radio-blogs - too much of a novel concept for me. I am not big on music, it's something of a habit - never to listen to anything except silence (when it's available and *that's* rare) and cars and the rain outside. Music puts me into all sorts of moods. The previous post about the meaning of life was spurred by an uncharacteristically sticky melody from a film I just saw, "il mio refugio" by R.Cocciante. Put me in a *mood*, indeed.
So. When music gets under my skin I hunt it up in mp3 format and play it endlessly in "repeat' mode until it sounds like the rain outside - part of things. A childish habit perhaps - kids love to listen to the same story a million times over, never bored. I am never bored. I should be, with all the loneliness and crap, but I actually have no clue what boredom is. Hmm... Never thought of it before :-0

Actually the film the tune comes from is a French tragicomedy Tandem with Jean Rochefort (I love this actor, tongue-in-cheek kind of guy, a bit like Kevin Spacey without all the nastiness) and Gerard Jugnot (brilliant here). Now, the film is about male-friendship with a twist - which is, unbounded devotion. So the tune (heartbreaking in the best italian pop style) that runs through the whole thing is both ambiguous, derisive and yet true to the kind of deep unspoken line played out between the two characters. It's also about unbounded failure. A subtle little film, very so.

***

To offset which, yet another UK blog Born Squishy with a host of intriguing links to investigate... If it's not some predictable politico blah-blah, you never know what it's gonna be.


Far away the wind

Found this random blog from a UK girl, young like hell and I love it - Rebel against the box. Apparently, she's part of some religious-youth movement, those guys who set hymns to electric guitar tunes. Since I've only seen these types on tv, it's kind of interesting to look at how this feels from inside. So far it looks perfectly intriguing. I guess I tend to enjoy stuff that is light years removed from my own ways and means - unless it's something particularly boring, I should add. The blog is actually titled "intimate reality" and truthfully reports how God "talks" to her. I have no reason to doubt this. This is so much more real than looking for symbols, allegories and signs everywhere - like so many do, calling it faith and awareness, when it's nothing but emptyness. Maybe I am over-rating, but the voice rings true.

Manifesto quote:
"..i'm beginning to realise that what God has for me and what the world wants from me are 2 totally different things. i suppose i've always known this to be true... but wrestling with god this past little while has brought it home for me. it's as if the world tries to stuff you into this box which you blatently weren't ever made to fit into. and if you try it out even for alittle while you die. God created me to fly...but the world tells me to stay grounded. it makes my head spin! how and when does this happen?"
I do enthuse :-0


The meaning of life

What sustains me best are perhaps my childhood memories. It's strange - I hardly remember anything. But the emotional power of these vague recollections is so charged with what I can only call "life at its fullest", that I can hardly find any comparison with whatever has passed since. Memory is rooted in emotion. The flatland my life has become after a certain point is replete with insignificant detail, my inner eye wanders listlessly through a long succession of forgettable landmarks - how it has come to this I cannot comprehend, but there seems to be no end to this lasting madness in absentia.

Most people will not understand what I am talking about. But those who know the kind of flatland I am describing will need no explanations - it is neither unique nor uncommon. I also know by now that there is no escaping this particular landscape once you've entered it. I suppose the measure of lostness is how far you've gone into the desert. There is a point of no return there and you never really know when you've passed it until it's far too late to even look back.
All those fairy tales about miraculous resurrections don't apply after that point. What applies is complete and total surrender. No more water - so you get by on your own sweat, no more food - so you adopt the strategy of the camel, humbly chewing on dry grass. The principal thing is to avoid despair. Become a creature of the desert and you shall survive, even though such survival is entirely worthless.

I don't know when and how I passed the no return point. It first hit me when I realized I felt much more congenial with drunks, suicides, bums, druggies than with those I used to frequent in my better years - the so-called "normal people", who run the world, whose values I can no longer accept - these values carry my death warrant, simply because I can't live up to them.

I suppose there is something to be said for the pathetic survival tactics of those buried alive. People do go on living in unthinkable conditions. Those bums you sometimes see up close, they used to be "human" once upon a time - the fall was not all in straight line, it took a lot of mad, scrambling work to get over life-as-it-should-be to life-as-it-is. What is the meaning of life? Or do we always mean "the secret of happy and successful life"? In which case I am not interested to hear the answer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Small world randomness

I really don't know that many people. Actually I know or have ever known rather few, compared to your average social human. And despite all that, I take a random poke at a random blog and what do I find? a whole nest of Michael Rothberg's UIUC students, gossiping and exulting about the guy. Whom I know but not academically. I guess when people rise to a certain stature in the world, it shouldn't be such a surprise to see them mentioned here and there. But random blogs?

Or perhaps randomness is never really all that random after all... I read somewhere that physical coins are naturally biased to come out either head or tails, depending on the make of the coin. Perfect randomness doesn't really occur in nature, only in pure maths. So I guess my own randomness, like that of a slightly deformed coin, is somehow biased too, though I can't possibly say in what exact way. It's a bit more complicated than either/or. Meaning is at stake and meaning is carved out of biased randomness.


Morning in morning out

First snow today. How many more mornings there will be? One day the little drama of my death shall occur. Do people like me even die in accidents? There are no such existential statistics out there, so I have to go with my hunch which says - no, people like you die in their bed, or on sick bed, and it's always an excruciatingly slow, banal process.

Seen a documentary on tv, a life-loving guy got stomach cancer, his gut swelled to the size of a huge balloon suffocating him in the end. He let the film crew go at it to his last breath. The cancer ordeal lasted 18 months. There was much pain and doubt. It's the pain that makes you want to take your life before nature does. Cancer is nature too, big time. An "error of nature", as we mistakingly call it. How do you justify pain when it claws at you? I have no idea. You just submit to it, like animals do - they never whine, do they.

A catholic guy suggested a catholic review of E.Waugh in which there is this quote from his letter to G. Orwell about "1984" the novel: "...men who have loved a crucified God need never think of torture as all-powerful."

I wonder how this would apply to Nature as torturer. That physical nature is sinful and whatever pain goes on is a just desert? No wonder christianity has always had such a hard time with bodily functions. "Oh Lord, why, oh why did *you* give me cancer! Oh, I must have sinned!" Next thing we know AIDS is a punishment for unnatural vice etc. Not that I am particularly intent on bashing such a venerable religion. But that's one of the reasons people lose faith. That nature is blind and resurrection is for the righteous, and there's a big gap here somewhere. And not because some people are stupid about sex.

***

I've known a number of people who've abandonned religion precisely on account of random suffering. That you can't really appeal to a God who's out to count your sins and your virtues. And since that God never answers anyway, all you're left with is a bunch of god-mongers moonlighting as your moral accountants. At the same time, I can't say I am absolutely convinced there *can't* be no God whatsoever, nobody at all to appeal to in dire straits. There could be at least a "random God", some unknown, particularly unaccountable force throwing its weight around - on occasion. It's a bit too presumption to declare "there is nothing but what I can see and know of". Things have a tendency to defie that notion. I guess I must be your typical skeptic agnostic - doubting everything, refusing to stay put, bearing in mind the great unknown. No dogma, theistic or atheistic, can quite account for the great unknown - which is life as we know it. Science accounts for a good chunk of the world, but this is still just a partial description. Some people fervently believe in science, others fervently believe in whatever religious scriptures. All in all it's a matter of belief or disbelief. Some are particularly prone to belief and others still to tremendous dogmatism - and there's no telling how or why. Well, perhaps there is, but that too is something of a murky matter.

But once you're in the hole, are you gonna appeal to the "random God" or are you gonna lie down and take it in strides, like the good humble animal you are? Lay still and take your punishment. For you are blameless, my little beast. Blameless and there is no justice for you and your poor little mind clamoring for exception. Lay still, and should a random force visit you, take it in strides. Maybe it will, maybe it won't - that's the last word. No amount of dogma will shield you from that - when you finally realize it's all happening for no particular reason. *You* are happening for no particular reason. For those especially intent on learning lessons, this one should be the first to learn.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Obsessions

What is worse - seeing Nazis everywhere or obsessing about Jewish Conspiracy? I'd say 50/50, given that the pattern of thinking is the same in both instances.


More on rot, decay, pestilence

And you thought calf was veal... Of course this apocalyptic pic is accompanied by some virulent vegetarian tirade in some french blog you probably can't read so i'll leave it at that. Some time ago I saw a similar "in your face" documentary, on the way hen and very cute little chicks are machine-processed in those gigantic poultry-factories out there, on the fringes of our cities. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we do live in the age of the machine. And while the art of gutting your live-stock has become a recondite and debased skill, we still love meat, at least I do, and what would become of Macdonald's if we didn't.

I guess the machine age is not just the apocalypse of the cow. When you're stuck in some GM plant assembling those monstruous SUVs, or just mindlessly wasting paper as an office clerc in some multi-this multi-that corporation, you're also doing time in the machine. Euphemistically speaking this would be clean mind-slaughter, the slaughter of you as a worthy little individual. And are you going to complain since the very notion of democracy implies that you be able to fill your pockets with some green paper which is pretty much your ticket to equality, or still more equality if you really know how to chop up more paper. For your comfort, a quote from a neat little film ("Straight Time"), starring an intense Dustin Hoffman: "Out here it all depends on what you've got in your pockets. In there [prison] it's who you are that counts." Yeah, well, the law of the jungle as Das Law. Try to escape the comforts of our lovely machine and that's where you end up. Some people actually prefer that - those who like their meat fresh, that is.


Rotating the rot

A second-hand quote from working-with-words blog:

Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a man deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost. -- Thomas Merton

And what about happiness then? I suppose it's the exact replica of the above, set in brighter colors - tasting the yummy luxury of knowing yourself to be on top of the world. Haha. The lucky thing is, you don't exactly need to obsess about the cause of such a wonderful feeling - and who cares if that too is nothing but a big lump of mindless self-love. So I'd say all things are good while they're good - and if they turn bad when they're bad, it's kind of too late to complain.

The thing about help is not really revelatory either. Part of being happy etc is to feel connected, so of course you gladly jump on whatever falls into your lap (or is thrown there out of sheer generosity - Salvation Army bin, indeed). That sure doesn't work that way when you're out of it for good. That's when you start obsessing about what sent you spinning out of the orbit - you were such a glorious piece of trash revolving there with other happy trash, and now you're out of it all, in your very own garbage can, and it's kinda lonely there. Must be self-love really :-0

Nihilism is for losers, there's no disputing *that*. One problem with nihilists is that they come to see the whole big world as a giant trash-can. Being part of it is not really all that appealing all of a sudden. Massive help to get back in there is not really required. So what do you do when your view is obscured by powerful visions of trash and rot? Basically, you need a way to reassert yourself as being something tiny-wee less rotful than the rest. That's when navel-gazing becomes a powerful tool of survival - until you get so high on it, it kills you. Some more trash wasted. No big deal.


What about hate

The art of avoiding the bad will of thy neighbour is something I have to master yet. At the same time I realize this is just part of how I am in general - not very conciliatory, a bit too direct, somewhat arrogant though definitely not in a haughty way. I can't hide my moods. When I am low the whole world is immediately informed - just from the sight of me.

I don't recognize to strangers the right to judge my ways. This is probably silly of me but then I have the option not to give a damn. They mostly think I am crazy. Perhaps they're right. The bad part of it is that there's a tendency to presume on crazy folks, can't get any respect unless you're hulky, dangerous, and outright violent. There are other crazy types in my building, they get the same treatment so I don't feel especially targeted, it's just the way things are.

Some guy punctured a tyre on my bike. He's crazy too, so I guess it was to be expected. Now, he just bought an expensive new car, he loves it so much he'd lick it all over if he had his privacy, instead he just washes and polishes it every single day. Now, I wonder how he'd feel if one day he found it all scratched and disfigured? He might go biserk, I'd say. The guy is retired so he's got nothing to lose but his fragile mental health. At such advanced age these things might prove lethal. So I guess I'll leave him in that mad world of his, without further damage. I can still take some minor damage from crazier-than-myself sorts, it's not like I am terribly affected and ready to climb the wall.

[ Amended: ...this is pure bullshit... in fact, better take it out on the offender, or shove it, there are no two ways to go about this... of course, the third much-loved way is to indulge in unrestrained bullshit... which is what i've been doing here... ]

Sunday, November 02, 2003



Of course I could write more about myself instead of what I think about this or that. Perhaps there is a reason I get all involved with things that can't really matter in my everyday life - because this everyday life is getting to me and I want out, somewhere, somehow... Stuffing one's head with *general* ideas is one way to escape. Maybe that's what thinking is there for.
In the end, it always feels somewhat absurd: "where were you, dear? i went on a thinking binge. sorry. will need to sleep it over." I wonder whether journalists, publicists and all those *general* guys feel that way sometimes. They must - it's just too crazy.




With all these WWII-related musings, I almost sound like some sort of a nefarious little fascist out there. But that's precisely the thing! The whole subject is so tremendously polarized it's practically impossible to say anything whatsoever without immediately getting branded as either good-this or bad-that. My own mind is so conditioned I get to brand myself without any extraneous help - how very amusing :-0
There is no middle ground, it's all black and white. Pining for "objectivity" in such an environment feels very much like walking the no-man's-land between enemy lines. A perfect way to get killed for no particular reason. I guess I am lucky this is just my private blog.





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