Saturday, June 22, 2013

Brave New World ~ Aldous Huxley

Damn you, Huxley!  How is it that you return from the grave and haunt me in my bed like this?  How is it that you come back and toss this in my lap and it's as if the first time I've seen it and it comes on me like an infection?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Just so you know...

Finding brand new ways to act on on the same old shit isn't exactly growth.

Say something...



A city of empty canvasses and a chance to say something.  Use it wisely.

Peter Drew (click here)

Welcome to the Comfort Zone

I have come to believe that having spent my life with nothing that could be adequately described as a comfort zone -- having been equally ill at ease (often in the extreme) in any social setting intimate, small or large with little respite even in solitude -- that I reached to some degree a sort of Zen balance after a while that has allowed me to navigate most settings with at least equal detachment.  That is to say that there are few if any that trigger the fight or flight instinct.  Not anymore.

You just come to realize that if they're all uncomfortable, then one is as good or as bad as the next.  You just let go.  There is a thin line between nihilism and Zen, as Emile Cioran might have said.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shame

And at the end of the day, it's proven to be a rather useless emotion, with few practical applications save for the odd call to action.  The opportunity to use it is sadly rare though because once something is done, it's done.  It becomes akin to carrying around a bath towel when you have no opportunity nor inclination to bathe.

My first resentment of any given day...

How strange it is to hear the neighbor's alarm clock from across the backyard and feel a moment of resentment that not only am I awake when I would prefer not to be, but that I have to share the world that seemed much more peaceful 10 minutes ago.

The Definition of Insanity?


This is cute.

In theory...

Except it never really works this way, does it?

It is our tendency, perhaps a not so rare condition, barring the odd, self-actualized man, to repeat the same mistakes over and over, despite the dire warnings and our past experience, expecting a different result.

Good luck with that... he says to... the Universe?  Himself?

So you change, or in the best case scenario presented by the Omniscient Fortune Cookie, live in a half-crouch waiting for next boot to drop.  That half-crouch might just explain these cramps I wake up with.

I'm amazed by how many notions I can conjure to summon the denial required to believe that just maybe... Maybe if I...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The CIA Monitors 5 Million Tweets A Day



That's a staggering number, isn't it?  I will repeat this.  I have to repeat this:

THE CIA MONITORS 5 MILLION TWEETS A DAY (click here to read)!!!

I'm not sure how to insert a dramatic pause here so imagine, if you will, me sitting in front of my dinosaur Macbook with my jaw lolling (not LOL-ing) around on top of my solar plexus.  I'm not about to weigh in on domestic spying or the current hoopla over the NSA strong-arming internet and social media providers.  We could have hashed this out back in the early 00's (the years, not 007) when our elected officials were voting nearly unanimously on legislation that allows this.  There was something about national security being invoked and that's become rather a nebulous term loosely defined as some horrible spectre rising up out of the dust in the middle east and appearing... well, wherever they need it to appear when they want to pass legislation undermining the Constitution.

But I digress...

5 million tweets daily...

I cannot for my very life imagine a more hellish, tedious, odious task than spending my days monitoring   social media.  How badly do you have to want a job... NO... how badly did you have to screw something up to end up with this assignment?

Nobody but nobody ever stood up from the computer, having just spent two hours reading Twitter and Facebook and exclaimed joyfully, "Wow!  That was the fucking best two hours of my entire life!"

Nobody.  Trust me on that.  This is not the CIA, International Man of Mystery, James Bond, Adventure Man, Avengers, Secret Agent Man stuff we have always imagined, through books and movies, this life to be.  This is Hell.

What are we going to do with these poor bastard shlubs when they snap and run screaming madly from their cubicles?  When their minds have gone to tapioca...

So, I'm sorely tempted having gone through all that to ponder the implications of these invasions of privacy -- these clearly un-Constitutional violations of everything we are supposed to hold sacred in this country.  We claim that there are those who "hate our freedom" while we slowly chisel away at the freedoms that are supposed to make us "the best country in the world."

The best place to live....

God's little, green acre...

I mean, most of us can rest assured that there is absolutely nothing we do or say that is of interest to anyone.  The fear that a lot of people are expressing is largely insincere, or just plain narcissism.  Yet there are valid arguments against allowing the government on any level to do this.  If the rule of the Constitution can be breached in one place, why not another?  It's a slippery slope, really.  I don't have the answers.

The one thing I can say though, having done some godawful, tedious jobs for very little money, God help the dorks that get stuck reading Twitter.  They're doomed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Infographics Day -- An Overview of LGBT Rights


It can be to easy, when we witness a bit of progress around certain issues, to get caught up in the celebration and lose sight of the rest of the journey.  We get battle-weary and may feel we've gotten enough momentum going to carry us through the end.  Our opponents, still licking their wounds and grieving over the territory they lost, want to be done with it all as well.  They were quick, for example, after our first African-American president was elected in 2008, to declare our country "post-racial," and they stepped up their PR efforts to keep us reveling.

Two words can easily refute their claims:  Trayvon Martin

We'll leave it at that for now.

There were similar festivities in various states, New York included, when legislation supporting Gay Marriage was passed.  Lest I be misconstrued, it was a huge victory, and one that I never thought I'd witness in my lifetime.  The closer it came, the harder opponents fought against it.  They appeared to be gaining ground, for instance, with Proposition 8 in California, and the Defense of Marriage Act.  Yet state by state, it's happening.  It recalls a military action taking back a city block by block and house by house.  More states are being... liberated.

Yet as supporters of common decency in these matters prevail, it has to be kept in mind that these victories are just scratching the surface.

So, all this in mind, Thursday is INFOGRAPHICS DAY at Glossophagia:

CLICK HERE FOR INTERACTIVE MAPS SHOWING 50 YEARS OF PROGRESS

I could talk about it all day, but the maps are sobering.  Keep in mind also that the progress shown is only legislative progress.  That doesn't mean that hearts have been won.  That won't stop the violence.  You can pass laws left and right but they're really only ever as good as your ability to defend your rights in court.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Gatsby Appendix


Consider this, if you will, a further examination of my 30 year romance with The Great Gatsby.  The word appendix, in it's biological application, becomes more appropriate when this three-decade romance is viewed like a frog splayed out and pinned down in a dissection pan for painstaking examination.  The end goal of this scientific foray may not even be the point.  There may be no defined end goal at all.  It will probably, in fact, expose more questions and that's perfectly fine too.  

There is a reason, or reasons, I'm certain, that THIS NOVEL (click here if inclined to read the entire book) occupied my nightstand for several months of every year, not unlike a flock of birds that returns to an island yearly to roost and then disappears again -- and sometimes in the harder years rolled in like an Israeli tank into Gaza.  The nature of the return visits is what remains uncertain.  That may only become clear as my own awareness of my inclinations and motivations grows.  My early experiences with Gatsby are most definitely rooted in my earliest awareness of my pretensions.  There were painful, needling reflections of my insides, and of course these early experiments with self-examination begin with being laid and splayed in the resin-filled dissection pan and being pinned flat with the soft underbelly exposed.  It is also entirely possible that this short novel was not only the key that opened the cabinet into this archive of self-knowledge, but became the diagram charting the course of study.  Each subsequent read leads the way to further questions.  There was/is more to be seen.  

Therein lies the power and glory, I suppose, and what separates the wheat from the chaff... literature from what is merely a story.  

Nobody will ever question Fitzgerald's talent for prose.  It has always leveled me with its smooth eloquence.  No single person I have ever met has been possessed of this silky, flowing fabric of language.  No other writer I've ever read has it, and that may very well be that I generally lean towards either the folksy or the outwardly profane and probably wouldn't tolerate this nearly effete sway from anyone else.  I opened up the link (above) last night just to dip my toe in and was instantly swept into the easy current.  It was somewhere in the wee, wee hours that a new awareness came to me, of the depths of Nick Carraway's cynicism.  It's apparent right from the first paragraphs.  It's curious that I have been quite comfortable (and quite incorrect) in viewing him as the naive Midwest boy that he must have been when he arrived in New York.  This may be how I viewed myself upon my arrival as a teenager from upstate.  I don't believe it ever occurred to me that Carraway was not only telling the story from a point after the illusion was shattered, but that he says outwardly at the beginning that he came upon his cynicism while attending "New Haven."  

The narrator was already overcooked, so to speak.  He was done with it all, and at a very young age.  (This was portrayed accurately in the new screenplay, btw.)  It took me years to reach these depths of spiritual despair, no doubt because my own head was lodged so firmly and deeply in my own colon, as evidenced by the more advanced stages of my self-dissection.  It makes sense, though, given information from F. Scott Fitzgerald's biography, that he was hurtling through advanced alcoholism by 1924 when he began the book.  I'm always hesitant to cross-pollenate any work of fiction with the author's biography but it's clear that more than in any of his other works, Fitzgerald was channeling himself through his narrator.  

It's been a while since Gatsby haunted my bedside, my yearly examinations having fallen off at some point.  I may have needed the distance to view it (and myself) with fresh eyes.  The truth depth of the cynicism and precise scalpel cuts had remained murky until, somewhere in the overnight, I was once again left exposed.  This time it went so much further in than the last.  There are parts of me this morning that are still laid out on the side of the pan, and the knife goes deeper still.  It's funny though how much less it hurts than those initial cuts, and with no anesthesia.  Perhaps I've gone into shock.  

I recognize Fitzgerald's darkness now, however, for what it is.  I've visited a few of the prehistoric caves that he was hollering out of nearly a century ago.  They've really not changed very much over the years, and my suspicion is that people will visit them a century from now and see pretty much the same sights.  They will feel pretty much the same feelings, and have the same sense of dread.  Scott and I have, in that sense, followed parallel paths.  

I digress... and must read further because once you're in the current, you're there until it casts you against a shore somewhere.  In the meantime, some biographical footing for the man himself (click to read:)