Thursday, May 31, 2012

Holming

   
     I'm still fairly convinced the essential distinctions between religion and politics are small enough not to matter, unless you are so foolish as to believe words are real.  I see both religion and politics as one side of a single coin that devotes itself to describing the future. And on the other side of this coin there is an equally comic relief in the form of phrases like "hard work," "picket fences," "I drive a Bentley" and on it goes into the even more esoteric and wonderfully diverse.

    Those who point to a separation between church and state, should do so with the understanding that an elected body is a consequence of a device that tries to solve the problem of who should be in charge, more than it is a reasonable conclusion.  While passion rages at election time, truth in all its forms dismissed, the men and women who wish to lead are simply vying for votes that can be counted.  And thank God the actual battle ground is a booth with a curtain, rather than a field bloodied and littered with corpses.  

    As for Jesus, years and years ago, he gave his answer, not only by volunteering his life but with the odd phrase that managed somehow to survive censorship by the Synods which would pick and chose the books of  the Bible as they searched for coherence in a body of work most of which has been exorcised.  And here I can think of two surviving phrases which may give comfort to the poor, the lost, and the hopelessly optimistic.  One involves Camels and needles, the other involves the phrase, "render unto Caesar."

     I will say, the Christian Nobles are always very adept at adopting local traditions in their own pursuit of souls, and of meaning, and of territory.  And I'd argue that greed has become one such local tradition.  Which is an argument that travels to the edge of an abyss, and that's not a place anyone wants to be in the golden age of unlimited resources and an endless list of earthly creators protected by God given copyright.

    But as a more distant example of Christian trespassing, the Celts, long before the Christian Mission arrived upon their shore with news of a Gentle Jesus, and long before Saint Stephen was martyred, would  kill Wrens at around the Winter Solstice, so as to rid themselves of the old year, welcome the new, and give the more active young men something to occupy the shortest days.  And of course I agree Wrens can be irritating, and the obvious choice should such a fate be absolutely necessary.  But also, around the Winter Solstice, Celts would thrash with Holly branches the late risers and female servants.  The Welsh called this "Holming."  Which is an equally odd tradition, but nonetheless one I can certainly see Saints approving of so long as thrashing lazy boys and unenfranchised girls could be adapted to suit the purpose of advancement. And always worth remembering that although it was probably hot and humid and his shoes didn't fit, Jesus used some sort of thrashing device to kick the small businessmen out of temple.

    The quarrel, in my view, lies more firmly in the personality of those who choose to wield power over others.  We know such creatures are sadly inevitable.  They always need feeding, they are driven, they are personally ambitious, often agile around fearfulness, they are prone to lying and never should be trusted, and long after they are dead they too are subject to trespass.  But once in charge, my suspicion is, a person who cleaves to the idea that an Almighty is guiding his hand, is more apt to run riot over history and process, do away with thinking through dull deliberation and banish even the appearance of reasonableness. All of which is a lubricant between us and the past, and it gives us our chance to at least try to live generously together, instead of beneath the heal of a nut case who lives behind a brick wall.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Off Spring



    I wanted to wait until Saint Swithun's Day to talk about Wrens, but that's not until the middle of July, and by then the odds are that heat, hose pipes and Bean Beetle will so dominate the day to day that Wrens will fall into the category of 'minor irritation.'  They have a nest, in a large ornamental plastic pot on the front Porch, and there is that busy-ness that leaves feathers disheveled, tempers frayed, and the whole panoply that goes along with the wretched work of passing seed to the next generation.  So I like to pretend I am invisible in the morning and usually Wrens do to. 

  And it's quite pleasant to feel relaxed and calm, and bare foot, as they go about their maniac chores, while I wait for the mist to clear.  I have concluded that amongst Wren, early morning feeding is critical to the wellness of their children, and a good meal when Lightning Bug rise is clearly recommended, because in the very last of the day light, that time of day when I am blind without the electric, there they still are, buzzing around and still dealing grubs to their still weeping offspring.  

       The big day for Wrens is of course Saint Stephen's Day, which falls toward the end of December. Those Europeans who still celebrate, no longer do so by killing a Wren and then marching around town with the little creature's corpse on top of a pole. A quite unnecessary thing to do, in my view, that has often caused me to wonder about the origins and quality of my own seed, which contains Celt, and maybe Viking and a little Saxon, and all of us probably enjoyed a good Wren Hunt around Christmas.

     Saint Stephen, himself, was stoned to death in the Roman Province of Judea, by an angry mob, because of some blasphemy against Moses. But that was in the middle of the first century, when I guess people were even more prone to hysterical outburst and displays of intolerance. Yet sometimes, when prodded, a person can find himself inclined to remember that Saint Stephen was betrayed by a Wren.  This is especially the case when it's early, and there is one of those hot coffee spills that follows an involuntary spasm that can result when a person is suddenly yelled at, and for no good reason, by a creature with what looked like a spider in his sharp beak.
 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plump



    In their description of Quail, many have used the phrase 'chunky birds.'  And often the word 'plump,' appears somewhere near the beginning of more whimsical sentences.   I think of the word 'plump' as primarily a culinary expression.  "A plump Peacock," for example, suggests a fragrant gravy to me, and I am fairly convinced I can hear the word 'sage,' and smell 'bacon,' and I can hear the groans of those downstairs assigned to polishing silver and who will never see a wish bone with flesh upon it.


      But I am inclined toward the word 'game' when thinking about Quail, which here in Kentucky are Northern Bobwhite.  Nor will I describe them as either 'chunky' or 'plump' or 'chicken-like.'   They are ground nesting birds, their lives are short, a year or three at best, and of the thirty odd eggs a female can lay in the course of her season, very few survive the two long weeks it takes a chick to find enough food to grow into flight.  Yet there they are, out there, in the outdoors, where Rat Snake prowl, Fox Squirrel sunbath, as well as a morning Possum impatient for Tomato to ripen.
 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day


     Utterances today will include the word "Hero," or perhaps "Warrior," or "Collateral," or some other sense of righteousness.  But probably not "Children", or "Babies," or "the screams of the dying," or "Paraplegic."   Or men and women, young and old from places that are not designated 'Ours.'  I guess if you are going to kill someone, better first to be persuaded they do not deserve to live, have no rights in court.  Then maintain such a belief, or have it installed by a political class, so that grief  from actual killing never has its chance to dominate the day to day, send it spiraling deep into an understanding of being alive as a most pointless and futile exercise.  Which is a neurosis, I am told, or certainly some kind of sickness.

     So to celebrate a Happy Memorial Day, and the millions and millions of dead, probably worth answering the question "why?" by going shopping, or making the most of "Free Shipping," or taking to the roads on well manicured motor cycles so that others might be blamed, or cooking hunks of meat drenched in barbeque sauce, in the outdoors, and for the lucky, eaten with very large quantities of beer.  All of which are things the dead cannot do.  But it's lemonade or soda pop for the kiddies as they watch the soldiers march, and wreaths on the grave.  "You'll have your war, son."  It's the way of life I guess, and how clever we are to have made killing so worthwhile.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lavender Wands


    Always wonder what The Artist gets up to when I am smug at the business of tickling the underbelly of Capital.  And I remained conscious enough to avoid locking myself out of the vehicle again, which is something to be proud of on a Friday.


     The Artist saw Quail and there's a red brick road in the vegetable Garden which I am looking forward to following tomorrow.  As well there are Lavender Wands and a clay forms, an arch for Gourd to climb upon and on it goes.
 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Work Day



    If my ability to divide is still present, then almost nineteen million people will have their birthday today.  Which is around four and a half Kentucky's or around six Wales's. It would be somewhere near the population of New York State, or well over half the population of Uganda.  But not quite the population of Beijing. 


     There was a time the population of human beings was such that around thirty people would be having a birthday today.  I think I can fairly say that I know thirty people by name.  But it would be very worrying  indeed to know the names of nineteen million people.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Seed Eating


     Trade talks between those of our feathered friends who eat Wheat Seeds are almost at a stand still.  The family of mice that occupy the outdoor stove, and who are teaching their children to stare at me in that adoring manner, also eat Wheat Seeds.  So it's probably best not to mention the Garden Rabbit, who can waddle into the raised bed where Wheat is trying to ripen and he can completely disappear.  He must know of a portal into a another dimension, which would explain how he actually gets into the Garden.


     Indigo Bunting flash blue on the periphery of eyesight, and straight away they are in the distance. Their blue is a trick of the light, just like the sky their feathers have no blue pigment, so at night they are the color of night, I guess.  They come home for the summer, travelling through the dark, they use stars to plot their course. And when they are here, they are always very, very busy, and often bad tempered.  I can remember waiting for hours to see one at rest, and I remember coming to the conclusion I probably never would.  But that was before Wheat grew in the Vegetable Garden. 



Thursday, May 24, 2012

How To (1)


    Those of us prone to nihilistic revere might look at either Solstice and declare it an opportunity to cast aside the onerous and often unnecessary demands of the day to day, enter the portals of debauchery, and remain there until either the day to day or its constabulary come again to knock on the back door.  And I can well understand how such a moment may be cast into the stone of  theology.  Christmas, for example, has its communion for the strict observer.  A sacred moment for many, I'm convinced.  Which is followed or preceded by gift giving and feasting to the point of generally feeling ill and fed up with each other.  Eid - which celebrates the equally sacred moment when Abraham sacrificed a sheep rather than his son - also has its equivalent of  feasting to the point of feeling ill.  And I guess if you had the patience you could travel the world to find numerous examples of how theological understandings of "why?" tempt those of us prone to nihilistic revere by dignifying gluttony and excess with what I will call the Occasional Hall Pass.  And I too remember the valiant phrase "Christmas in July" that inspired so many of us.

     I am, however, increasingly convinced that Summer Solstice this year will for me include some sort of ice cream, because this June Twenty First, I might still be under the influence of a Job Creator, which means I would be obligated to feast to the point of feeling ill or suffer the classic consequences of not even trying to be a team player.  In which case, I'd prefer not just that common or garden vanilla ice cream, but something with the best of the milk and caramelized sugars and those little bits that crunch, and which are kept safe behind lock and key at the Grocery Store.  Bread pudding with raisins would be nice.  And I'd like to fly to the City of Dublin for a pound of pork sausages.  Perhaps too I could have my tee-shirt hand-laundered in Cairo where Nile water will leave it soft as ear lobes. As well I would send for Matoki and Banana leaves, which means I'll need charcoal. Naturally there will be Chicken Lobster from the West Indies to roast on drift wood and several  young Trout, from a river in Scotland, to grill over the smoke from the sawdust of fresh Apple wood.  Necessary also, would be tambourines and interpretive dancing.  And to the question "why?" I could answer "06/21/2012. 23.09. GMT."  


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thursday


     I have the understanding that observing the Solstice in summer and winter was an aspect of those cultures dependent upon seasons.  Whether it was snowing or raining, whether there was drought or swamp, whether the Larks were singing or not, Solstice fixed the calendar with the authority of mathematics.  A farmer could look to his priest and hear that confidence and know that at least something was as it should be. He'd take his troubled family to a high hill and make promises.  The days are lengthening, summer is coming. Then in summer, he could see the days were shortening, and clearly winter was coming.  Work harder.
 
   I used to reckon the working harder part belonged to a sense of downhill.  And I'll call that sense of downhill, a panic.  An "Oh my God."  A mania that gathers steam and culminates in a Glorious Unseemliness or Christmas Day.  As well, I used to argue, that New Year's Day was essentially a drunken revelry of regret, that sunk a hangover into 'being' until somewhere around the middle of March when the eyes, not mathematics, could begin to see the new growth and maybe wonder a little bit about never wearing socks again.  Now, I'm inclined  to no longer be confused about which Solstice to mourn, because I can hear both of them laughing at us.

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

June Twenty First

  
    June twenty first this year is on a Thursday, thank goodness.  And I say thank goodness because it means I will not have to explain to those who have me gainfully employed at the Fulfillment Center that I wish to have the day off.  The event occurs this year here in Kentucky a little after seven in the evening, I think.  Which is nice because the long shades will dominate and Mosquito will not quite be awake.

     Strictly speaking I would not need the whole day off, and some bright spark in Human Resources might point this out.  Which means in order to get the whole day off,  I could  try to present my case for the solemn nature of Summer Solstice.  And it's a strange thing, but  I have found that mumbo jumbo generally does not turn out well for those who petition fulfillment centers.  So to get the day off I'd probably have to bury yet one more very close relative.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Rabbits.


    I could mention the foods that Rabbit eat. The list is a long one, and it can get deeply depressing for those prone to anxiety or to an expectation of reward from days and days of weeding, or fairness, or decency or any other one of those frailties.  Yet, there is good news for some, because once a Rabbit is safely inside the Vegetable Garden fencing, that list of foods is reduced to things planted only in rows.  And I guess there's that argument which suggests, if a Rabbit doesn't eat it, why the hell should we.  After all, our species invented the shovel and the Igloo, and some still will insist that forty odd years ago Humans not Rabbits walked on the moon. 

     More likely, Rabbits came into being long before we did, and not only could they see better in the dawn and dusk and at nighttime, they were also closer to the ground and sneakier than we are. Which meant that we had to learn to eat what Rabbit's did not eat.  Things like fried eggs or Rabbit and bacon stew.  But I have to hope our manners are better than theirs. They eat the Bean Sprout, we at least wait for the Bean to struggle on through bloom, battle the beetles and borers and other poxes, through drought or too much rain, try to make their seeds, before we take our turn at them.  If I had to be a vegetable, rather than a bird, I'd prefer to be a goddam Lettuce, which Rabbit here seem not that fond of.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saints and Capital.


     Nietzsche - and I am going to start calling him Fred because his name is so difficult to spell - was a man who thought this way.  If belief in God no longer ruled the minds of us people, then something else had to.  He reckoned that without something like God, there was a nihilism within society, a dogged negativity, out of which no good could come.  When Fred tried to decide how to replace God, he basically suggested, that if we people were to take God's place then we people would have to become very special indeed.  His Zoroaster, or his superman, has caused confusion, or perhaps more generously has struggled with interpretation, and most certainly Fred had an ability to piss the faithful off.


      I will say, that even though the free market, or capitalism, has probably never existed, it is in the end more like god, than it is like man.  It too has the invisible hand that determines use of  our earth, decides and offers reward for correct behavior, disciplines the poorly motivated. Those who believe in it understand it as the sole alternative to other possibilities, and most especially a much better alternative to us people coming together in a search for reasonableness. And too, the nice thing about both God and Capitalism, once they are believed in, no more is required from imagination, because the future is no longer a burden to thinking.  But one of the other minds I have admired - and I'll call him Ludwig because his surname too is difficult to spell - reckoned that when all thoughts were thought, all questions answered, nothing much will have been accomplished.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Ethics And Tummy Buttons


    In that loose knit collective that passes for a memory there is a place where I can stand on a cliff, stare down to a rocky shore where Sea Lions snooze, and sometimes they roll over to give their belly a chance at a little sunshine.  Also in memory there is an understanding of creatures and plants and places, as well as people, owning identities that transcend their physical presence.  It's a primitive idea, I am told.

     And I can think of that fine word ethics, and I can pin my mind upon the idea that standards of Human conduct do not emerge from drawing boards, they emerge from an association with other people and things and creatures and over time.  What's correct in one place, is maybe subject to derogatory remarks and cruel punishment in another place.  Call it Wishy-Washy, or Godless, or Communism if you need to, but much more potent in my memory is that Sea Lions have tummy buttons.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Politic


    I'd like to be able to argue that the battle ground of politics is a divide between opposites, and as such, is an exciting place, in a dialectic of idea that holds the future in high regard.

     But between you and me, becoming red faced with rage over little things is a symptom of an emotional frailty, or perhaps some ghastly form of humor teenagers might enjoy.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dang

 
    A gardener could completely lose control of his emotions, arm himself to the teeth with death rays, ground penetrating radar, put a camp bed in his Vegetable Garden and demand passports  from anything that has eyes or no phloem.  And because I am delicate and susceptible to sun and become petulant in heat, I would require shade, and maybe some sort of cooling device which would mean an extension cord for electricity.


    And once there's electricity there might just as well be a television so that contact with the theoretical world can be maintained, and an ice cream machine or something that makes those doughnuts, with the strawberry jam inside, that constrict the digestive tracts of those much closer to the grave than the womb, and which can be found in the Grocery store next to the blue icing birthday cakes, and which are worth every last penny of doubt.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Picking



    A person knows his place when he can stand in the center of his Vegetable Garden and watch a Mockingbird harvest a Strawberry.  There is a brief struggle, because Strawberry are always just that little bit reluctant to let go of their fruit unless that fruit has achieved the condition of perfectly ripe, which in the Vegetable Garden is not a thing that happens due to pressure from  those of us who compete for Strawberry.  Then off goes the Mockingbird with a Strawberry in his beak.  Nor is this an easy thing for a Mockingbird to do, because Strawberries are large and roundish and awkward, while a Mockingbird's beak is rather delicate and flying with beak agape must make it difficult to see where you're going.   So far as I can tell, of two legged creatures, Mockingbirds and People are the only kind that carry off Strawberry. Everyone else prefers to wallow and peck in the course of their strawberry harvest. No clue what the Garden Mouse or the Chipmunk does, and incidentally still no Stinkbug.

    It can also be discouraging to find Strawberries in various conditions of ripeness dotted around and quite a long distance from the bed where they began life as flowers.  These discoveries give an appearance of rampant carelessness and disregard for the dignity of a Strawberry.  They stare up from the gravel or the cut grass or the path and they cry out, "what have I done wrong!"  It is the case though, that in the earlier part of the Strawberry season if a person puts an imaginary line between one of these abandoned Strawberry and the Strawberry bed, and he follows that line, odds are it leads to a Mockingbird nest. And always it surprises me how large Mockingbird children are and how many of them there have been these past years.  Then around now, as Strawberry season draws to its end, younger Mockingbird hang out in the Raspberry, so they can see exactly how a Strawberry is harvested.  This means that in a week or so, when  Raspberry ripen, the youngsters will know exactly what's expected from them.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Saint Swithun



    Saint Swithun, who has his very own day sometime in the middle of July, was a Bishop of Winchester in England around the time of Alfred the Great, which puts him as a living person toward the end of the middle of the Ninth Century. 

     I am told, that while sitting and watching men build a bridge over the Itchen River, Bishop Swithun  performed a miracle.  He 'restored' and made whole, a basket of eggs which belonged to a poor woman and which had been 'maliciously' broken by bridge builders.  And for some of us,  this "Miracle of the Eggs" and the interpretation of the events surrounding it, pretty much tells us that despite rumor to the contrary not a great deal changes over time.  Of course those who wish to raise the issue of modern miracles such as longevity, the nation state, suffrage, the use of the word 'charm' in physics, men on the moon and electricity, are all most welcome to their search for solace, and to then go shopping.


    Amongst his many building projects, Bishop Swithun put "churches where none had been.''  The Bridge over the Itchen River was his idea, and I am told that he liked to sit watching men build, because his presence, he insisted, offered them inspiration and guidance.  In those days too, stone buildings were magnificence expressions of human achievement, but the people, and especially the masons, who labored to build them were, I am told, devil worshippers who saved secrets, practiced rituals, and who could not be trusted unless watched at all times because they were prone to idleness and theft, and any other sin a Saint could think of.  So of course they broke a basket of eggs that belonged to a poor little old lady as she innocently passed them by on her way to her daughter-in-law's lowly dwelling, probably without shoes on her feet or flowers in her hair, on the day after the fourth Sunday in Lent.  

     Oddly, a tradition has it that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, then it'll rain for forty days.  And if it doesn't rain on Saint Swithun's day, "for forty days t'will rain nair mair."  Which are certainly two extremes of alternative.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rain Gauge


      Somehow I have convinced myself that pretty soon now, no rain will fall until maybe November.  And this conviction holds such sway that yesterday after work, even though the sky was grey with large rain clouds, that smell of it in the forecast,  I wrestled hose pipes round the Vegetable Garden plants in a manner which I will not do again because I realize I am really far too impatient to go near a hose pipe after about nine thirty in the morning.
  
       When I got home this evening, I gave the rain gauge a glare, and I got my socks and work shoes wet walking through puddles  to give it closer inspection. The large red tiddlywink that is supposed to float on top of the rising tide was stuck firmly at zero precipitation. And for a moment I felt pretty damned pleased with myself.  But, actually, if I include last night's mental patient watering, the vegetable Garden probably got about three inches of rain.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Counting


       Some of us find it very difficult to count to two hundred.  Counting to fifty is fine, then a person reaches seventy nine, and all hell breaks loose, because there is some evil demon that lurks some where between seventy six and eighty one, which reaches into the brain and floors the concentration.
 
       I can count in twos until around twenty four, and I'd give myself a B-plus at counting in fives. Others of course can count comfortably in threes and in sixes. Which could be a blessing, but I have to say that I am truly suspicious of anyone who can manage it, and then smile as though it were a simple thing to do.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Centralization


      It's a guess, but this year there are fewer Cowbirds.  Maybe the Good Lord has agreed with me that laying your eggs in someone else's nest is bad form, and has asked for changes in behavior, or else out comes the burning bush or something that smites. Happy it makes me, but I am not without understanding. 

        I can see the Cowbird technical college where courses in nest building and chick care are offered.  I can see the furor, the stamping of feet.  I can hear the bad language from Girl Cowbirds, and they know how to curse.  And I can see the Boy Cowbirds grumbling on about military school and wondering what on earth a map is.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Defendant.


      Trial in The Court of Authentic consists of judgment, a prosecutor, and a defendant.  Some might ask after the jury, which some reckon upon being the rest of us, but I don't think so because there is still breath in my body.  Others have argued that the defendant has access to council.  He can look through the yellow pages of past time to find one.  But more likely it is a lonely business up there on the dock, because in The Court of Authentic the trial never ends, which means the verdict can never be known. Nor is this a bad thing, in my view.

       As I see him, the prosecutor is a diminutive figure with that complexity of personality that can only be seen in the sepia tones of really old photographs, or a hand writing that's legible, or that awful facial hair, politely called a goatee and which is quite obviously invisible to mirrors.  He wields power, and when he enters the court, there is hush and fear, and trembling. A crying child is removed, giggling in the back row stops, and everyone says how wonderful and perfect the prosecutor is.  And they do so loud enough for him to hear.  Then one day the Defendant stands his ground and mostly it's a dumb thing to do, but sometimes wonderful to see.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Court of Authentic


       I like the expression 'Court of Authentic.'  What it might mean drifts a little, but more interesting is the extent to which The Court has rules written into structures, like equilateral triangles, or circles, or squares, that will never change in any fundamental way and which may even exist.  While I'd rather not be a person who possesses the necessary arrogance to even begin to dissect what those rules and their relationship with existence might be, I would like to think I am able to look through time and make an observation or two which might hint at 'hope' being something other than a constantly empty vessel into which the tears of the world are poured when there is not enough money to buy stuff, or go to college, or whatever it is that requires an increase of increase, or increasable-ness .
  
       Of these observations, one of them would concern itself with that better registered noun, fashionableness.  And here, I'd argue, that if someone were courageous enough to turn up to work on Saturday dressed in a pink tutu and correct footwear, saunter through the break room, clock on at his post, then add a smile to his face, odds are he would be asked to go home.  Not because a tutu is unsafe near conveyor belts, nor because pink can look odd on so many men, rather because a man dressed in a pink tutu at work would just be too weird.  Immediate superiors would of course be very polite, all of them have been through diversity training,  and I remember a time when they had not.  Maggots like me, however, would still snigger after the traditional manner, and if such an event did occur we could finally take home stories others might be interested in. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No Senator's Son.



       In the Western World, the idea of suicide as an expression of a Free Will was one adopted by French theorists. These were thinkers who survived the second World War, and who I like to think, may have heard rumors of the 1917 mutinies of French and British Soldiers, from broken down and tumbled men who did not march on Poppy Days and instead asked why remember.  It was in the summer of 1917, just as the Doughboys arrived to take part in the slaughter. How many British and French mutineers there were and how many of them were shot, might be known in 2017, one hundred years after the event.  Which is when law takes the hat off uncomfortable secrets.

      Suicide for Christian believers, remains sinful, a direct path to hell.  For others, it is thought of as an act of cowardice, or mental derangement, or momentary lapse in pursuit of purpose, or some other frailty such as selfishness.  For theorists, in their lecture halls, negative attitudes in the wider society toward an individual's choosing to put an end to it all, demonstrates the working of those invisible chains that cause a social cohesion, and which sometimes stop making sense. Then on it goes through contribution through useful work and surrender, into the defining of success until you come away with an idea of  "What Free Will Should Be,"  and safe to say that "What Free Will Should Be" has little connection to a Will that is unconstrained by the chains in the word normal and in a general understanding of the word free.. 
 
     Woodrow Wilson, on April the Second 1917, asked the Congress of the United States, to declare War on Germany so that the world might be made safe again for Democracy. Doughboys were conscripted men.  And as with the English, and the French three years earlier, many cheered at the prospect of glory days, honor and service to a mighty and cohesive cause.  In the USA, those designated as Objectors to the call of their country were sentenced to twenty years in Leavenworth.  Of those claiming Conscientious Objection and who were considered insincere by tribunal, seventeen were sentenced to death, one hundred and forty or so to life in prison, and three hundred and forty odd were dispatched to labor camps. Martyrs, I guess.

       Today, the US military dislikes conscription. The citizen army has become the professional army, an enlisted man a thing of the past.  And today, here in the United States, eighteen veterans of recent military service will probably kill themselves. That's three quarters of an ex-soldier, every hour, which means over six thousand volunteers a year.  And too easy to call these fallen soldiers damaged, or deranged, or improperly medicated. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Sentient

    
    I am not a big fan of the word 'sentient.'  And often I am very suspicious of the word 'aware.'  When I ask myself why, the answer is generally related to an ambivalence in my attitude toward my own species in conjunction with expectations from the word 'sentient' and the word 'aware.'  

        I am, for example, very happy to argue that stones are both sentient and aware, they are just very much hardier than we are, their time frame measured in eons, rather than seconds.   But much more important, stones have said all there is to say to each other so they have no daily trial at the court of authentic.