Saturday, February 09, 2013

Oliver Sacks scares me...

So the deficiencies of our memory, being not so far removed from our imagination, are what enables us on the one  hand to internalize art and literature, but on the other to spin a personal history or even delusions, comprised of events that never happened to us personally... if I'm getting this right. 

And if we tell ourselves something often enough we can easily come to believe it.  We are no longer lying. 

Or if we hear something often enough, for long enough, events from family history or from family members' recollection of family history real or imagined, it can become assimilated as our own experience.

Okay, so the problem tonight is that THIS ARTICLE (CLICK HERE) by Oliver Sacks, on the fallibility of memory comes at me at a time when this volcano of memory has erupted from my own past.  It all seems so vivid and so real, and yet it occurs to me now that with no corroboration there is no surefire way of knowing if these earliest memories even happened.  And even consulting family isn't always reliable because it's not uncommon for family members, and siblings who are close in age in particular, often share the same family mythology.  Time obscures fact and we're not even the most daft nor delusional, but these things happen. 

Interesting read though, and the takeaway might be a lot more simple than it appears to be right now.  This may not be the proverbial can of worms that reading this has opened so much as a simple warning to not believe my own shit. 

You scare me, Oliver Sacks.  You do.  I'll get over it. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

Keeping track of things.

Best advice I could give through all this mess, is count your blessings and keep a running list of your responsibilities, but don't mistake the two, even though most blessings come with a certain amount of responsibility. 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Random notes on American Culture & Violence & Where the Blame Lies

It's rather ironic that people who consider themselves Liberal, led by Vice-President Joe Biden, himself a self-professed Liberal, are making arguments about the proliferation of violence in our society where the blame is placed on television, movies, music and video games.  These claims, at the end of the day, aren't so far removed from the blame games of Conservatives of bygone days who insisted that JUDAS PRIEST MADE TWO BOYS COMMIT SUICIDE and that albums needed WARNING LABELS, etc.

It's just funny how things come back around. Liberal is the New Conservative. Conservative is the new... We could go on about that for a while. My thoughts on this are sort of half-formed. Not half-baked, nor half-assed. There is just so much to play with here though, so I thought I'd start to compile a list of thoughts.

We'll start with a couple quotes from Frank Zappa, who battled this nonsense before Congress the first time around:

 I don't think there's a problem. First of all, I don't think music turns people into social liabilities. Because you hear a lyric -- there's no medical proof that a person hearing a lyric is going to act out the lyric. There's also no medical proof that if you hear any collection of vowels and consonants, that the hearing of that collection is going to send you to Hell. -- Frank Zappa, interview, WRIF, 1985

 There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another. -- Frank Zappa, from the PMRC hearings

And now something more contemporary from journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates from an Op-Ed in The New York Times: HIP=HOP SPEAKS TO THE GUNS

 I suppose an argument could be made for life imitating art, rather than the other way around which is far more prevalent, but it seems to me there is more evidence that people react and respond to their reality, rather than to the vehicles they use to escape reality.

We are, and always have been, a violent, war-like culture. It is all around us. Our response as individuals, and as towns and cities and as a nation, is to respond to any adversity with short, sharp shock. Furthermore, as access to information from more sources becomes more prevalent, lies and hypocrisy are more readily exposed. It's only recently occurred to me that in the 51 years I've been on this planet, The United States has never NOT been engaged in some manner of armed conflict around the globe. We call it war. We call it police action. We call it national security, or we call it classified and don't say anything at all about it. Yet we can see it happen.

We respond to everything with violence. We respond to high crime rates with violence and that seems to make sense at first. Violence begets violence. Yet take the example of stop & frisk in New York City: There is no historical evidence that increased stops has any correlation to any long-term reduction in crime. For example, just this week it was reported that POLICE STOPS ARE DOWN, YET THE MURDER RATE IS DOWN TOO. But even giving its supporters their argument and supposing they are correct that there is, in fact, a correlation. They respond to crime with aggression/violence against the community. Crime drops significantly. They respond to less violence with MORE aggression/violence. The response to EVERYTHING is violence.

More children commit violent crimes? We decide to try juveniles as adults and give longer sentences -- and make no mistake, the penal system (not correctional system) is violent. The death penalty is violent. An eye for an eye. We execute minors who can't even vote yet. We execute cognitively impaired people. We are really good at killing people.

(I've stopped posting links. Everyone is capable of a web search)

A memo was released today from the Liberal Obama administration explaining that yes, it is okay to execute Americans with drone strikes for perceived threat based on gathered intelligence, with no due process. This same administration has even recently argued that our intelligence and data gathering has been too flawed to justify past military action for wars that we are still, by the way, engaged in.

So this is not my most articulate post here on Glossophagia, but I do think I've got a point somewhere, and there will be more to come. Part of my point is that we, as a people, have got to get honest with ourselves if we're to have any hope at all of making things better. We are mired in bullshit, and we are digging ourselves in deeper every day. Anyway, more to come.

Beyond German Engineering

I appreciate German engineering and ingenuity as much as the next guy but there seems to be this compulsion to one-up the rest of the world, and it will be their undoing as it has been through many of their lemming-like expeditions into world conquest.  I am convinced of it. 

Extreme Mountain Unicycling... Just get it over with and get the clown costumes. 

New Liberals

I wonder if Neo-Cons, or even Paleo-Cons for that matter, can comprehend that Neo-Liberals are as disturbing and annoying to real Liberals as they are to them. 

The problem with the truth...

The problem with the truth is that it doesn't necessarily set you free.  It can be all around you while you're stuck down in the mire, and it's above you like a swarm of hungry mosquitoes.  It is a nuisance like that unless you can change your situation, and that's hard while you're trapped in everyone else's big lie. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The best 4-6 weeks of my childhood

There should be a song to cue up here.  It should be something cheery from the early 70s and it should convey happiness but also some distant and wistful feeling.  It should be one that we all know but are somewhat embarrassed that we remember all the lyrics to, and we don't often brag about this knowledge to our friends.

The ad was cut with blunt scissors from the back of a comic book.  My guess is it was Sgt. Rock or Sgt. Fury.  Everything was about war then.  Every stick in the woods in the back was a gun.  The ABC 4:30 Movie was always best when it was war movie week.  My room was filled with GI Joes.  But I digress.

The order form was filled in with a pencil and stuck in an envelope with a bill and loose change.  The stamp, if memory serves, was stolen from the sideboard.  Sorry, Mom.  It was mailed.  I don't recall what I was expecting.  I'm pretty certain I knew it wouldn't be anything like the illustration, but I knew it was going to be magical.

And for the next 4-6 weeks (everything took 4-6 weeks for delivery back then, probably even babies), I believed in magic.   The portly hippie mailman (who later had a massive coronary outside our house but that's another story for another time) was going to deliver magic.  Let's not even get into what was actually delivered and whether or not it lived up to my expectations.  I don't think it mattered.  The whole US Mail system was mysterious and magical enough.  Money was mailed someplace with my name on it.  Something came back from another part of the world with my name on it.  The end.

Or maybe I'm remembering it all wrong and those 4-6 weeks of magic were about the rocket engines I ordered from the back of Creepy Magazine.  How the world has changed that a ten year old used to be able to buy little missile engines made with gunpowder via mail order.