Empty Days

Saturday, March 20, 2004



Watched Deadline Iraq: Uncensored Stories of the War on CBC tonight.

Uncensored? My ass. Though "some viewers" might disagree.

Either way, it's a glimpse at least of just how unreal the coverage of war is in our media. And after that we go and claim that The Passion of Christ is too violent. And it's only props and red paint.

This is an insane, mad, crazy, absurd, unheard-of society we live in. Everyone is so *nice* and so afraid of *death*. This is so strange. Are we even human anymore or do we think of ourselves as either computers or demi-gods? What we need is not more peace and prosperity - we need a huge enormous horrific disaster to make us wake up and re-learn the basics. Let's pray for hell on earth.

***

Browsing about clicked through a page on history of propaganda. Quite enlightening.

And during the CBC documentary above I kept thinking - and why it is that we never see any Iraqi-side footage of the war? After all we won the thing, so we must have full access to their archives. I wonder if we'll ever see these - I don't know how long it took before we could see those WWII german footages. A decade at least. I am not sure we're still gonna care about this war that much ten years down the road.




Mass rape atrocity in west Sudan

Which is only the point of an iceberg: More than 100,000 people have fled across the border into Chad, but have continued to face cross-border raids.

I don't really know what's going on in that part of Africa but here is a brief description:
The conflict has pitted the Muslim north against Christians and animists in the south, leaving some 2m people dead.
What is the war about?
Apart from an 11-year period from 1972-1983, Sudan has been at war continuously since independence in 1956.
In 1983, the government dominated by northern Arabs tried to impose Islamic Sharia law across Sudan, even in areas where the majority is not Muslim.
This exacerbated a rebellion that had begun in the south, which is inhabited by black African Christians and those who practise traditional religions, although they are divided into many different ethnic groups.
This is a story that is repeated again and again in many parts of Africa, it seems. I have to wonder - why is there such an incredible reluctance (in the West, you bet) to allow these obviously fake post-colonial countries to break into national states? Why on earth do they need Sudan to stay exactly as it is when it would be better off *maybe* if it broke down according to national/cultural boundaries - since that's what the whole bloody fight is all about?

Check out why the US wants Sudan peace.

Apparently it takes vicious wars to bring about this sort of "unapproved-of" fragmentation. Remember Yugoslavia - a small country in Europe. Remember former USSR - if the West was allowed to meddle in the post-soviet national ruptures, I guess we'd see far longer wars than we did. Only small Chechnya was not allowed to go on its own way - the big Russian bear is still paying the price.

Must we maintain status-quo at any price? Because it's not a synonym for peace, you know. [ But really, I am so not-qualified to blather about this ]




Who is PolCor? ::

I once made friends with a German-Turkish girl who came to study in NYC. She was very eager to integrate the local academia milieu and, despite early difficulties, succeeded marvelously by marrying a Jewish-American guy who is now having a splendid career and keeping her on the academic track too.

She is a good, kindly, passionate person - but she's also a tremendous ideologue of PolCor. She says this is the consequence of her bad experiences with German racism against Turks. I am rather inclined to believe that this is the consequence of her need for acceptance (academia and its ideas) and a fragile depressive constitution (seeing herself as a perpetual victim - of sexism, racism, her parents, and I don't know who else).

I can't and don't blame her. And maybe I am mistaken in my understanding of her reasons. The fact remains however that every time we got together (which was rare) we found ourselves in dire disagreement on about everything. This usually took the following form: I would talk my mind about something and she would wince and tell me I am hurting her universalist feelings and have no right to do so - and since my opinions might be hurting somebody's feelings I gotta be wrong through and through.

In a nutshell, that's the logic of PolCor - an ideology built around the mind-boggling principle of never walking of somebody's toes - the very apotheosis of moralism. To me this looks very much like a politicized reincarnation of the well-known christian (or call it "victorian") bigotry massively derided, exposed, and castigated by pretty much every XIXc social novelist. In its political form it touches dangerously on the worst kind of mind-control. And in case you think yourself so smart, you'd better remember that mind-control is exercised through auto-censure rather than some easy-to-spot directives from higher instances. It is also exerted through your very human need to find belonging with some social milieu - and if this happens to be academia you are about as good as doomed, because there intellectual freedom usually equates saying what everybody else says - otherwise you lose your status as an intellectual. Neat, hein?

The main thing to remember is that PolCor is an extreme form of moralism - it requires you to question yourself endlessly in search of some minute transgressions against some "higher ideals". In this sense it is also an extreme form of idealism - which requires you to believe in things that are impossible and demand of people that they behave in an impossibly correct manner. All in all, PolCor is virulently intolerant of human imperfection - in its political aspect it is openly intolerant of diverging ideas.

If you are getting the impression that PolCor might be bordering dangerously on fascism or other types of extremism (communist, islamic, christian, feminist) don't be shocked - that's what it is. Most leftists today are actually imbued with this sort of thinking. As a result we are once again witnessing the not-so-unknown phenomenon of a liberal moonlighting as a fascist :)

The only response to ideological extremism is common sense. That's the one thing that can get you out of the web-of-ideas that bound and stall your every thought - from inside. Remember, nobody is forcing you, you are a willing slave - nothing is more seductive and persuasive than bigotry-in-the-service-of-higher-good. That's a very old truth - no one is immune.

The root of all this "good-as-evil" thing is the idea of a perfect society. A perfect society is so perfect that it must be imposed by force - since, by definition, there can exist no viable arguments against its perfection.

The idea of a perfect society invariably leads to stupidity. Example of a useless slogan: "let's eradicate poverty". This is stupid because it's extreme - it cannot be done. People can be helped out of poverty, but not all people all the time. The other side of this mode of thinking is another famously dire slogan: "let's eradicate wealth".

That's how PolCor thinks. It thinks in inhuman terms and it leads to an overbearing inhumanity. The problem with this is that PolCor is only a new name for a very old paradigm in western thinking - it is our blessed christian humanism taken to an inhuman, bigoted extreme.

Where is the devil, and who is our god. We wanted good and we did evil. Oy-vey.

* PolCor, so named after Pol-Pot.

[ there is quite a bit more to say on our fucked-up concept of democracy & liberty - but I'd rather leave it for some other time; in any case my paltry squeaks are meant for myself mostly - as I am also full of all the shit described above and have not the guts and/or the brains to purge my system properly ]




Officially it's the first day of spring. This said, we are going to get down to -17C tomorrow. I guess the calendar needs serious reform.

***

Watched "Now" with Bill Moyers on PBS yesterday. He had this Mark Twain actor, Hal Holbrook, as guest. Wow - what an angry guy! But I liked most of what he had to say - especially about political correctness ("it forces you to lie in silence"). Also really good bits on half-truth/half-lie in media culture. Fortunately there is an online transcript of the whole affair, so I don't need to paraphrase.

I was especially impressed with Moyers' unwavering kindly cool in the face of such an unsettling display of negative emotion and hurt as Holbrook projected. It's been a long time since I've seen somebody so bitter talk his bitterness out. Pretty catharsic.

***

From the transcript (a Mark Twain number by H.Holbrook):
Man is the only animal that deals in the atrocity of war. He is the only one that for sordid wages goes forth in cold blood to exterminate his own kind. He has a motto for this, 'our country right or wrong'. Any man who fails to shout it is a traitor. Only the others are patriots. Say, who is the country? Is it the government? In the republic the government is merely a servant, a temporary one. Its function is to obey orders not originate them. Only when the republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it's wrong. Otherwise the nation has sold its honor for a phrase.
On PolCor:
HOLBROOK: You see, I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. You know the "Silent Lie" that he's talking about that you played here earlier on this show? That's what political correctness does. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.

We live in a democracy. We have this extraordinary opportunity to use our mind and say what we think, to speak as we think. Sometimes what we say is objectionable to other people. Sometimes words we use are objectionable to other people. But that is part of a free society.

And in order to communicate with each other, we got to get mad at each other sometimes.
The rest of this last bit is especially scorching.

[ Update: found out from another blog that Bill Moyers is about to quit PBS - the farewell letter quotes his interview with Holbrook. Clearly, I was not the only one deeply impressed :-0 ]

Friday, March 19, 2004



Hard facts on flimsy grounds ::

Misguided pride, vanity, humbling by circumstances - this is a whole mythology, the great mantle of religion as it permeates the whole of one's moral structure. But there is still that nagging detail - as to why some are "afflicted" with such world-defeating pride while others are not. The ancient answer would be - your demon. In contemporary language we might speak of a certain psychological constitution affected by so many obscure factors that at the very last we end up with that same "demon" again, differently named, but no less damnable.

I suppose there is such a thing as pride unhindered and giving way to maximum realization. In short - you might have been a happy devil. When we really fall into the epicenter of religious mythology is when pride defeats itself - then we have a full range of dire possibilities, all based on some moral prohibitions transgressed and bearing poisonous fruit.

The mythology of the tarot is a dark universe. Suffering is frankly depicted as the main course of life - the fattest dish on the menu. No evasions are permitted - you are to gobble it whole and damn you be if you choke on all the bones.

This is the hardest answer to the hedonistic tv universe implied in pop-psychology. Your hairiest demons are brought to the table and you are invited to consort and pay the price.

Fate presides over everything. The wheel of fortune grounding to dust all the innumerable pettiness of life - rise from the dead or rot and perish. Basically, joy and happiness are incidental - they're hardly even in the trumps. Rare, undeserved glimpses of fortune. Essentially, you are not entitled - the main point of the deck being to bring you out of your earthly merry pursuits. After you've choked on all the bones, that is.

It's therapy by the sword. Cutting you open. There is nowhere to flee.

Who needs truth?




People are clearly obsessed with the supposed import of blogging on political affairs. I think this is tremendously exaggerated - instituting a naval battle in a glass of water is not exactly representative of actual naval combat.

Politics being a game, the politico-game in the blogosphere is played on the very surface of things - where neither power nor levers of power are. Consequently this tiny replica of the big game is played according to the rules of FOX channel - singing to the crowd, top-ten fave tunes over and over again.

It's quite distorting of reality. But then - internet was never a place for reality but a place of escape. And so it shall remain.




What it takes ::

There were two visions this week - I call them visions because I've seen something that in another, parallel life, I may have been spared from seeing and/or noticing. What you notice is what creates your world. Not the other way around.

First there was a young man in a state of such dereliction that it would be almost too generous to call him a hobo. No - he had a walkman, and he was obviously somebody with a hole to crawl to (or call that home), but his clothes were haphazard and dirty, he had eczema on his chin, and he walked in shuffling listless pace, with his eyes on the ground, oblivious and separated from the whole world - from which he could only expect contempt, and this irremediable knowledge was written all over him. A human being crossed out for good. In fact he didn't even look like a man - and that was perhaps the saddest thing about him, that he had no manhood whatsoever and had no hope of ever reaching that state.

Another was an actual hobo, an older man, obviously a drunkard, asking for pennies at the entrance of the grocery store - in a loud, clear voice of somebody who is past caring what anybody might think of him, or what he himself might think of himself. A man living in his own world of which he obviously thought very little - and, as with all drunkards, there was this unmistakable glint of hard-won personal philosophy in his eyes. That look of readiness for rejection, and forthcoming pain, and before-hand acceptance of all woe - he had all that in his eyes. Later on I saw him walking alone in the street - such loneliness stands out tall in a crowd where everyone is connected by uniformity of a way-of-life implied and accepted, and that is called society. There are a million signs that connect or disconnect you from that unseen entity. And sometimes you lack all of these secret signs and this you can't hide.

I notice because these are illuminated scriptures of my own evolving condition.

I am somewhere on the brink of these worlds of ultimate disconnection. Not quite there yet, because of the dignity I am still able to maintain for myself, and I force this dignity on those who look at me - they dare not write me off, because I am still capable of smothering their contempt with my own pride. I know that it would only take a complete collapse of that concept in my own mind for the whole world to fall over and squeeze me out of their realm.

Sometimes I am weak, really weak, but those spells are brief and do not last. Most of the time I am actually quite capable of snubbing the worst snob out his shoes. For some funny reason older women are especially obnoxious in that way - and they get my meaning every time they try to exert their haughtiness.

That's all it takes - resistance.

In a way, when I see those lost, I do that snubbing-the-snobs for their sake too.
While I still can.




blazé

This card is particularly meaningful to me, as it hits pretty close.

"Turn up the FOURTH CARD; place it below the Significator, and say: This is beneath him. It shews the foundation or basis of the matter, that which has already passed into actuality and which the Significator has made his own."

Four-of-Cups. "A young man is seated under a tree and contemplates three cups set on the grass before him; an arm issuing from a cloud offers him another cup. His expression notwithstanding is one of discontent with his environment. Divinatory Meanings: Weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations, as if the wine of this world had caused satiety only; another wine, as if a fairy gift, is now offered the wastrel, but he sees no consolation therein. This is also a card of blended pleasure."




On not wanting to let go ::

In view of the previous. Richard Rose, the mystic, talks somewhere about a reckless drunkard who achieved enlightenment (or something similar) by constantly repeating the Lord's prayer to himself - all the while going to bars to drink himself stiff and doing reckless things and leading his crazy life as a nobody. That's very interesting - and likely authentic. Because it shows that at some levels of despair you can actually invoke some higher powers to pull you by the hair out of all the mud. It does take significant despair and serious abandonment though.

This is to say that abandonment can be a worthy ideal - instead of scrambling to get back on your feet, rather try harder to go even lower. This is socially unnatural, but it's also instinctual.

My mother once screamed at me both in pain, anger and disgust: you're flat out on your belly and you can't pick yourself up!

I agree with that assessment. Except that I am obviously not flat-out enough as yet. It could just be that most of my conflicts are a result of not wanting to go completely flat as far as possible. Because fuck - it's extremely scary.

Whichever will prevail.




Some ignorant ideas ::

Of the tarot trumps I am getting to know The Emperor (IV) and Strength (VIII/XI) especially well - since I keep drawing those two. I suppose different spreads that consistently share some of the cards can be viewed "in sequence", as a sort of plot evolving into various contexts around certain key elements.

Also, I don't always draw on the same question - but then I do not have any specific questions I truly care about. In essense, I only have one single query - and my approach changes according to moods. Interestingly enough, the cards are pretty good at reflecting that - or I am pretty good at reading my moods into cards.

***

Something else I've noticed - it is very hard to deal with descriptions that force other people into the spread. Just what I am saying: please stop buggering me by insisting that this King of Hell is somebody I know and should avoid or flee or somehow figure out. First of all - there are no kings in my environment, not even a boss or a partner I can blame all my resentments on. There *are* no people fucking up my life - there is only me. So who's that awful King from Hell? Ah well, time for some highly psychological symbolisms here - it's not a "who".

I think this is a very good thing to remember even when your life is full of people - because the immediate temptation is to pin everything down on that "foreign influence" and wash yourself clean of any hellishness. It's a major temptation and I wouldn't be surprised if it consistently screws up a lot of the readings.

The less literal the better.

Another way to look at it - sometimes people play a passing role in your life, it is as if they effect some things for you, but it's not because of some deep mutual connection - they're just like cards in a spread, they effect your context, without becoming individually significant as major figures or influences. Once again - it's not a "who".

***

I do understand that I do not understand. So far it's just flip-flapping and getting hunches. Like I said previously: pick up a handful of pebbles and look at them long enough - they're all different, and you can read pebbles because they're all different, and the way they fall varies too. If you stay with the same bunch of pebbles long enough you will develop a whole tarot structure out of it. Yes - the whole world is reflected in a drop of water.

It might be the principle of meditation - though I wouldn't argue for it.




It's past 1am, my cat has just awaken from some intense dream and is now demanding to go out and discover the world. I feel like a heartless jailer, seeing that the poor beast is trying to open the lock on the door by jumping up, and standing on its hind legs to reach it... and wailing, and lamenting.

Jesus.

Should I go out and "walk" my cat in the dead of the night?

[ of course it "walks" me, rather than the other way around - but it still wants me to be there for reasons of (e)state security ]




That's a very interesting take on the current gender-issues (from XIXc tarot specs):

A Knight should be chosen as the Significator if the subject of inquiry is a man of forty years old and upward; a King should be chosen for any male who is under that age; a Queen for a woman who is over forty years and a Page for any female of less age.

***

Which reminds me: a "fag" was originally a cadet used as a servant by either older cadets or senior officers (british army). Rich history here.

Thursday, March 18, 2004



Sometimes I wonder what it would take for me to finally find some semblance of equilibrium at last. Fuck. I don't even ask for happiness - screw that. All I need is some kind of idea at least what the fuck I am doing being alive.

Grand news on tv today: some hospital killed some emergency patients by mistakingly injecting them with potassium chloride instead of some other (saline?) chloride - "causing their hearts to stop". Aha. I wonder if potassium chloride is hard to get outside of medical profession. On the other hand, it seems that cyanide is actually pretty easy to obtain in large quantities and it's far more lethal.

***

Alternatively, I feel I am indulging myself with these pleasant thoughts of easy instant-annihilation. It's just too much of a good thing - something tells me I should get some more shit from my spell on earth before I can legitimately say I've had enough and it's time to get out.

I see no cause to be ashamed of all the shit I've posted so far - were there any shame in stupidity, I'd have to delete this blog immediately, and stop talking altogether. Which would be too much of a good thing, right.




I am going to lay off this blogging mood a bit - the more I say the bader it looks.

Besides tarot is proving a pretty engrossing waste of time. Not that I am about to learn any mysteries (me? learn? where?) but it is delightful to see how consistently I get the same cards and how accurately they pound at me - truly, this is the best way yet to get your face smacked and punched and beaten black and blue - figuratively speaking. I guess the masochistic aspect is the main treat here. What other online tests out there will tell you you're doomed because you're actually a presumptious fool? You wish. Psychology tests will calmly state you're personality B or C or D and "that's ok". Sure - your whole life is a huge fuck-up and that's ok :) Welcome to the world of pop-psychology - if you're a serial killer-rapist, "that's ok" too. Only Prez Bush is not ok - but then he doesn't have time for psychology tests, does he.

***

And speaking of Prez Bush. France 2 reports that Al-Queda sent yet another tape to some arab paper with threats against 7 contries who support America. Among other things it has a personal message for Bush, verbatim (BBC is *so* much better than Yahoo News): "we do not wish for you to lose the elections, because it would be impossible to find another one as stupid as you."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004



Kosovo: albanians rampage serbian villages

The violence has been going on ever since the independance, local Serbs having become a hunted and bitter minority. Reuters and BBC omitted to report some of the details which appear in the Russian press - that beside the wounded in clashes in bigger cities, the KFOR had to evacuate some serbian villages which have been set ablaze by the albanian crowd. The serbs are taking refuge at KFOR bases (italian, as reported).

Apparently, albanian nationalists have been very active in stirring up yet another ethnic-cleansing drive, this time directed at Serbs. I don't see how this is any better than what has passed previously - Serbs trying to chase out Albanians.

Ah well - now that we have Iraq to toy with, who can possibly care...

[ Update. Backlash in Belgrade: police in Belgrade were unable to prevent an angry crowd setting fire to the city's historic Bajrakli mosque, built in the 17th Century and one of the oldest buildings in the city. ]




I am probably deluding myself in imagining that I have the kind of guts or the kind of faith that it takes to plunge head-first into the world as if I were some sort of a merry dolphin. Unfortunate as it may be I am not that kind of fish.

Either that or there is a pretty formidable chain around my neck - I'd have to figure out what it is made of exactly, before trying to pretend it's not there and break my neck.

If I am a fool - I am not enough of a fool. Not nearly enough.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004



Tarot was not enough, btw. It took a violently direct dream to tell me the rest of the story - proof once again that with me it takes more than just thinking and talking to get to the point.

***

I haven't seen my parents in a while now. Plus all these extreme ideas I am entertaining. The two don't really fit. So the dream was very intense and truthful and unwelcome - I dreamt that my mother had died and how I felt about it.

I can't really imagine in such detail how it might feel to have somebody you love actually die - it takes a dream to tell me how, because I just don't know.

Well, it doesn't feel so good - and I don't think I will be able to escape all the guilt that goes into.

***

The curious thing was how quickly my mind attempted to negate this vision when I first woke up - every conscious thought stood up and declared that it made no sense and should not be remembered. Just like a communist-party meeting - that's my conscious mind for you.




Navigating by stars ::

Read some article on tarot the other day. I am not into cards, divination and all that stuff. But there is a case to be made that these things are not so bad for checking up the state of your own psyche at any given time - especially if you're reluctant to admit to some of the glaring facts in it.

The article attempts to argue that the chance spread is never really random and that "it" somehow knows who you are and where you're going, and that under these circumstances it's impossible to really speak of blind randomness. To which I might respond that this is a very slippery argument - it doesn't really say anything beyond the fact that you want to read something into a pattern that is perhaps not there - or is just what you read into it.

Whenever you look at the world you find patterns - simply because you cannot look at everything at once, without making connections. You see fragments and you interpret them into patterns - that's how meaning is created, and it's no different in applied science than in tarot or a bunch of pebbles - even pebbles can tell you something, if you're inclined to see and hear. Or call it - read.

Anyway. While I was not inclined to buy into the "oh wow" argument of the article, some other things proved rather more interesting. It gave a very good definition the Celtic Cross spread which I will take the liberty to reproduce here:

_____________[begin quote]___________

The cards of the major arcana require an entire article devoted exclusively to themselves. I shall forego attempting any short meanings in writing here and end with a description of the celtic cross spread, furnished by Mr. Jeff Hill.

Using this spread, a card is selected from the deck in accordance with the person's character, to represent the querent. For a man, one of the four kings is selected; for a woman, one of the queens. This card is referred to as the significator, and is removed from the deck before the cards are shuffled and placed in the center of the spread. The first card is dealt on top of this card. See accompanying illustration for the positions of the cards.



1. This Covers Him. His present position... the atmosphere and influences which surround the querent and the query. It may reveal the question asked.
2. This Crosses Him. The opposing forces. If a good card, then it does not oppose but assists.
3. This is Beneath Him. Foundation. What the querent has made on his own, his experience, what he has to work with and can use.
4. This Covers Him. The best that can be achieved. It may also represent the querent's aim or ideal in the matter.
5. This is Behind Him. Influences, currents that have just passed or are now passing away.
6. This is Before Him. The influence, the current that is coming into being and will affect him in the near future.
7. This Answers Him. The querent himself. The querent's attitude, his position, but particularly his negative feelings.
8. This Strengthens Him. The querent's home, his environment, friends and relatives, their opinions and influences.
9. This Defines Him. The querent's hopes, fears, inner emotions. It may reveal secrets of the querent which he may not wish revealed concerning his motives, etc.
10. This Ends It. What will come, the outcome.

___________[end quote]__________

NB. When compared with other definitions of the same spread, you can see that it's somewhat flexible. For example, position 8 might not necessarily mean "home = friends and relatives" but rather what your environment is made of - and that can be anything, including your imagination of it. In fact, the definitions "This strengthens him", "This defines him" etc are the important ones (and are probably quite ancient, which is to say "tested and proven") - all the rest is entirely interpretative and may vary enormously. So - don't get stuck on it.

***

I had an interesting reading resulting from this. Got a peculiar choice of cards from a tarot-online site - with local explanations. The cards spoke for themselves, inasmuch as 9 out of 10 were tremendously antagonistic, which made sense except for one surprisingly positive card in the 7th position (self, attitude).

Now, how can this make sense if everything else tells you are extremely fucked-up and obnoxious and you feel it's pretty close to truth? How indeed. You dimly understand the idea, but the written interpretations seem to say different.

Then I read the above article and it all fell into place. Because position 7 is obviously not about your "self and attitude" - it's actually the answer to your problem: how you should be as opposed to how you are now, with all the surrounding load of crap to prove the point.

Btw, if you're curious, the answer was extremely christian: cup of love.




The way of the crazy

Setting out on a really far ride and what it feels like (from the Round the World by Bike website, via lonely planet):
Finishing my breakfast, waving goodbye, pedalling up the hill round the corner and out of sight for 3 years was very odd indeed. My first cry helped. My round the planet bike ride had begun.

After day 1 I was exhausted and the face-punch of reality had kicked in. There was no glamour at all and this was going to be very hard work, in every way imaginable.

By London I was very very depressed and felt an almost unbearable reluctance to leave England. But I had the horrible feeling that I had no option - that I was trapped. By Dover the sheer scale of what I had got myself into was absolutely terrifying me. The delayed, rain-sodden ferry and 7am lager swillers made the memorable "au revoir" somewhat less than satisfactory.

In France I was wet, lonely and cried a lot. But finally the sun came out, I settled into a relaxed pace, took up sketching and coffee drinking with reckless abandon and things began to look up. A rainy morning merited a lie-in: a huge duvet sleeping bag, pistachio nuts for breakfast and the sports pages from the newspaper (albeit last Saturday?s) - and I claim this to be tough!
Right - crying a lot is a good thing.




Madrid socialista

The buzz around the world is - terrorists won the elections in Spain.

France 2 commented that the demise of the Partido Liberado was also the result of the government's dishonest claims right after the train-bombings - blaming it on ETA despite early signs to the contrary. That's a bit of a specious analysis, but it's also true that lying to a nation traumatized raw is never a good idea.

I think Bush will eventually lose too, not so much because he went to Iraq, but because of the way he did it - antagonizing most of the world and a big chunk of his own nation in the process. Lying is never a good idea - it all comes out to the light eventually and you pay the price.

Terrorists did not win in Spain - they just exploded a festering wound. If the liberal gov there had more credibility with its citizens, they'd still be in power today.

Who do you side with in hardtimes? Surely not with those you can't trust.

Monday, March 15, 2004



This is really funny - Googlism.com or "find out what google thinks of you and your friends".




Self-pity is a state of ultimate powerlessness - not helplessness.

"Helplessness" means you believe there is power in others and they can save you as you can't do it yourself. Children and women and some men can be cutely helpless that way. But self-pity is really nothing but a pitying of the fact that you can't help yourself - and blaming this on others.

You can experience powerlessness without self-pity.

***

When you hear a depressed character clamoring for love and attention and wailing about how he's such an unlovable poor fuckup - run and do not look back.




This breakage is manifested in that I cannot find anything out there to inspire in me a sense of belonging or desire. As a matter of fact the only thing that remotely echoes this sort of inspiration is earth. Yes. That sounds very strange but that's true - when I look at the small things that are happening on the ground there is this slight tingle of recognition. When I look at everything else in the world I am immediately lost - there is no connection at all.

I get involved in various human games through my moods of vitality but it's all happening very near the surface, it breaks so easily - it doesn't really matter. Whether I rejoice in it or suffer from it, it's all extremely superficial.

Fundamentally there's no connection at all.

Because I absolutely have no idea where to look further and what for, I have to leave it to luck. Looking back is the worst move - there is nothing there.

***

I am very fortunate in not having anybody buggering my mind with ragingly inaccurate advice to push me back into some hole.

Paradoxically, this is the best time of my life.




I dropped out of society so irrevocably I have to face this fact and stop pretending I can go back at some point. I can't - a decision was made once, there is no turning back. It happens in the mind - where obvious things crumble and become irrelevant. How to make salty something that has lost its salt - this is the story of all values lost and demolished. You can't undo knowing what you know.

The wrong thing is to mourn all these losses. But it's also the most natural thing. Weakness is indeed natural.

We have a great philosopher who once went through the same thing. Poor man Nietzsche. His unique problem was really very precise - how to turn loss and weakness into strength and a new life. He struggled a lot and failed miserably. This is a long fairy-tale and it ends badly.

The lesson is that you can't hide behind words.




I am incapable of evaluating my own intelligence - or lack of it. At the same time I cannot rely on other people's evalutions since my evaluation of their intelligence varies as well.

The only thing I can weigh - more or less - is how truthful I am (or not) at any given time. This, despite the obvious fact (appraised post-factum) that I am continuously fooling myself one way or another. Truthfulness and truth are not one and the same. It would seem that truthfulness is a moral value - it has to do with personal integrity rather than objective correctness.

Intelligence strives for objectivity as a way to encompass a whole spectrum of understandings - or call this perspective. Truthfulness, otoh, aims at the most precise concordance of what is known, felt and thought. As a result, what is known appears differently in intelligence and in truthfulness.

I have to wonder to what extent truthfulness can compete with intelligence - the latter creates knowledge where there is none and thus seems vastly richer.

Perhaps I should strive for extreme poverty in order to achieve extreme truthfulness. But it is very difficult to renounce all clothing and I keep fooling myself.

***

I don't know how to say it exactly, but I am convinced that the most arduously complicated things are only understood through immediate simplification - this happens when the mind finally "gets" it.

I think Wittgenstein put it better but I can't remember in which scattered fragment.

The same idea, put differently, is expressed by Richard Rose - that down-to-earth mystic who didn't want to sound like one.

***

What I know for sure however is that I've completely lost interest in acquiring knowledge and playing with profound ideas. They do not fill my shallowness because they are not mine - and I do not want to make them mine for the sake of appearances. There are too many things I understand that I do not really understand. It's an acquired habit, a bad one.

The truth of the matter is that of all the things I know (or imagine I know) I understand only a paltry few - and that's where all the confusion resides, in the fact that to 5% of truthfulness there are 95% of undiscovered lies.

***

This is also the reason I get so mad at religious talk. Because it's such a pile of unadulterated falsehood - by which I mean "over-statement" as opposed to truthfulness. Perhaps my getting mad about it has something to do with my own pile of lies.

Otoh, I get just as mad at psycho-babble - or just plain scientific psychology - because it purports to know what it most obviously knows not. The presumption to impose this supposed understanding through pseudo-scientific procedures is the maddening factor here.

If I didn't get mad, I'd gobble all the shit that this world throws at me - it's a self-defense mechanism rather than a "critique".

So much of it has stuck already.




A man of a certain age once told me that he put all his faith in the love of God because he could no longer handle rejection from people he loved.

I don't know how this happens - I might have to find out for myself.

Atheists are content to blast against religion as if it were nothing but illusion. I suppose not being able to understand religion is in itself a sort of illusion.




There are fairy-tales in my mind that are guiding me - of all the fairy-tales my mind has accumulated these are the ones that I actually remember intensely. I call these stories "fairy-tales" because they happened to other people - to me they have not happened and there's about as much chance they would, as of me landing on the moon or riding a flying carpet. So, yes, these real-life stories are as good as fairy-tales to my mind.

For example there are all the stories of people in prisons and concentration camps etc. How they tried to preserve their sanity by invoking all the things they once knew and that had no value in their present situation. Books they read, things they believed in, people they knew. It's a vast guidebook on how human beings constitute themselves in desert conditions - what do you do if you're catapulted to Mars?
Robinson Crusoe was the first tale of that sort that I've read. And also Jonathan Swift with his Gulliver's Travels. The truth is, of course, that Gulliver was yet another Robinson, who had a much harder time for being confronted with alien life-forms to complicate his exile.

Other stories are those of pilgrims, wanderers and hobos. People going to holy places on foot through vast spaces. Or just walking with no goal in mind. The open road is probably the most powerful symbol in my personal mythology. I don't really know why. It has a whole host of meanings: aloneness, lostness, liberty, vastness, mystery, poverty.

A sort of sainthood.




You know the saying - to give away your last shirt, or something like that. Fear of loss is a huge insecurity. I'd like to reach a point when I can give away anything I have to the last rag or dreg, and do it naturally, without fear that I might be left with nothing - not be able to acquire another shirt, or be given one through pure luck.

Jesus - the kind of faith this requires is practically unimaginable. Yet it's the only thing that makes sense.

There is a fear to miss an opportunity. But there also a fear of letting one go by and not grab it, even if it's there and you know you could. Either way it's fear.

***

I have a crazy mind that sees ahead of time. For some reason it's especially glaring with objects. Or - maybe I am just obsessive. I see something (and it can be just a piece of trash, or some stuff I see in passing, or whatever really) and I *know* I will need it later for something I cannot yet envision, but all I know is that I should grab this thing presto-subito, because its use is already somehow "programmed" somewhere in the future - and I will regret not having grabbed it when it was there for me to take: I will be missing it like an empty spot where a piece of puzzle should have fitted - once that particular puzzle of circumstances comes to being.

Maybe it's just obsessive memory that retains some things as if I actually had them at hand - and then various situations arise where these things would fit perfectly, and I am made to feel regret at not actually having them.

Could be.

But sometimes I can't explain it this way - the retroactive fit between selective attention and later circumstances is too precise.

Either I am obsessive or this is a sort of intuition.

Sunday, March 14, 2004








The truth is though, I am totally scared to set out on my own - without previous experience of either outdoors (camping, hiking, whatever) or extreme bike repair. I am not so much worried about physical conditioning because in any case - there won't be any deadlines to meet, so no forcing or logging a mandatory 100km per day. The biggest worry is of course mental stamina - I have no idea what might happen: I might completely breakdown after a week in the middle of nowhere or be overcome by some insuperable anxiety, or else. I just don't know.

Or maybe the physical part of it will prove too grueling after all.

And do I need to mention that I am something opposite of a people's person? But that's part of the challenge, actually.

There isa very big difference between going alone and going with a friend or a group. There are tremendous advantages in the first case, no disputing that, but the price of this is complete vulnerability - mental, physical, the whole lot. You're truly alone with God all-powerful, or call it luck, or self-reliance and will, or maybe all of this put together.

Wittgenstein, who lived through some hard spells during the war, maintained that the one true religious experience he ever had was that of "being safe". And that, my friends, is nothing you can reproduce in a lab's setting. What he meant is this feeling of something that protects and carries you despite all odds, which is actually the very opposite of self-reliance. Heh - that's faith.

You can't quite conjure it - it's a mystical experience.




How about that (from a log of a cross-continent bike trip):

Up and down hill most of the day. Met Swiss cyclist Fritz on his 40 year old bike cycling from Baikal.

That's what I am saying. Who the fuck needs all those modern super-expensive brittle bikes? Look through the log to see how often these things break down. And look at that 40-year old bike - it comes straight from garbage :)




Path to a goal pretty thorny ::

Health, physical & emotional
Hidden: Jealousy; troubled relations; dissent. 2 of Cups R
Visible: Emotional blockages; sterility and barrenness. Ace of Cups R

Mental Attitude
Hidden: Culmination of a cycle of experience; final reckoning; awakening into a new way of life; rising, phoenixlike, from the ashes of the past; purification; cleansing and renovation. Judgement
Visible: Hate; retribution; force. Ace of Swords R

Relationships
Hidden: Prudence and equilibrium in material affairs; talent and skill generating wealth; just rewards. 8 of Coins
Visible: Unscrupulous ambition; lack of ethical integrity; power-madness. 2 of Staves R

Career
Hidden: Foolish rejection of stability and love; misguided abandonment.8ofCups R
Visible: Failure; falling short of the goal; imperfect achievement; material limitation. The World R

Spiritual path
Hidden: Painful experience; futility; misfortune. 10 of Swords R
Visible: Lack of direction, disorientation, and aimlessness. 8 of Swords R

Outcome of the present path.
The karmic process of destiny at work; a new cycle starts; a benefical "lucky run"; an auspicious turn of fate and change for the better; good fortune and felicity.
Wheel of Fortune




Perhaps... perhaps not...





On how little is known ::

I have to decide what to do with all those books and personal papers. The truth is - I already got rid last year of half of my library, namely all the books related to a certain early phase of my life, which I knew was forever dead at this point. It was gut-wrenching enough but still, I was getting rid of a plain dead-weight - the imagination associated with this stratum of my existence has evaporated almost completely and lost its sustaining power. Good riddance it was then.

But the books that I am still stuck with right now, they are still part of me, my world, they live in my mind (fuck - not the objects but authors and words) and ditching them would require a whole new level of disconnection - cutting off something alive and raw. FUCK.

Giving my cat away will be just as painful. So what should I start with? Books, of course.

***

At the same time, there is this real-life folk-tale sitting in my mind, telling me a very telling story.

There is this French guy I know, who is now the editor of a highbrow publishing house in Paris. He first came to Paris as a young and boisterous philosophy student, high on drugs, high on sex, high on social life - and became suicidal. To the point of jumping out from the window of the very nice flat his parents have been renting for him opposite the Luxembourg gardens (if you know Paris at all, you know it wasn't a cheap hole, right). Well, his jumping event wasn't fatal or harmful, but after that he made a decision to quit everything and go to a monastery in Greece. To do that he had to sell all his library which he'd built for himself with his parents' funds - and those books were not just ragged paperbacks but rare editions and all that. Anyway. He did as intended, sold everything, went to monastery, stayed there long enough to get over himself, and as a result went somewhere else, got a degree, found a wife - and finally came back to Paris in full force and made a splendid career there.

But the main point of this story is this - after he started to make a lot of money the first thing he did, he sought out and re-bought all those same books he'd got rid off so many years ago. WTF? He didn't need these books at this point - he obviously doesn't read them because he's occupied with something else entirely these days and is too busy to read anything at all beside proof-copies. But he brought back all this dead-weight and is happy to sit on it again. Total reconstruction of the old stuff.

He never escaped - and never meant to. But he didn't know it at the time.

***

So let's say I can later buy back some of those books I intend to get rid of now. But what about personal stuff - papers, mementos? If I dump that, it will be final. I never thought it was going to be easy but I don't want to be stupid about it either.

Checking out the inner truth. Pigs and fishes, indeed.





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