Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A more enlightened mind might see in autumnal movements, winter's equivalent to summer's spring. I for example can surprise myself, I can think of Forsythia and Quince, and for some reason I can tell you that round here peak bloom for Forsythia in the year 2009 was March 28th. And this year, peak bloom for Forsythia was March 15th, or one hundred and thirty four days from now. But from Fall months, I take no comfort or joy with me into the future, other than a monotonous conviction that as a creature I was originally designed to hibernate and have become misplaced by a careless associate up there in the Cosmic Fulfillment Center. Not for me does the expression "Yippee Skiing" enter consciousness, except as contemptuous dismissal of a branch in the Human tree that if I were polite I'd describe as an "unfortunate error." Call me a Hippo if you wish to.
Tonight, a clear sky, a breeze from the western plains will bring a first breath of cold, which will kill the remaining Roma Tomato. This bold plant volunteered from compost, it saw stalks of Egyptian Wheat, might even have smelled the Nile, and I would like to think this sensation was sufficient inspiration to take a chance at life, bloom along with Cucumber, feed the Bumble Bees, excite the younger Hummingbirds, produce magnificent fruits, without even a second thought. Which is something I can understand, but tonight's cold will also kill Morning Glory. By tomorrow around eight as the sun breaches its eastern tree line, Morning Glory will be there on her fence, and she'll appear translucent, and I'll think she has a chance. Then by evening, her tropical heart will be gone, and I'll ask what tyranny in us put her through this. But at least she'll not have to attempt comprehending 'fall back' of the hour this coming weekend.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
2005 Atlantic Hurricane season breaks at least four records. Fifteen hurricanes in total, which is a record number of hurricanes in one year. One of those hurricanes, Wilma, is described as the "most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded." The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season for the first time, at least since the 1850's, was more active than the Typhoon Season. When a hurricane is particularly destructive its name is retired from the list of names that can be given to Hurricanes. That list of retired names includes Fifi. The first Hurricane Fifi pottered north of the Lesser Antilles in early September 1958, and it probably gave welcome rain, good waves and better fishing to flat places like Anguilla. But the second Fifi, in 1974, produced rain enough to cause a mudslide that dammed a river in Honduras. Up stream from the river a bridge collapsed, broke through the dam, sending a torrent downstream that killed around five thousand people in the town of Choloma. Rain from the second Fifi caused a landslide that swallowed another town in Honduras, four hundred families are said to have just disappeared. The second Fifi is in the record books as the third deadliest Atlantic Hurricane. The second Fifi, like the first Fifi, was also a September storm.
There is always argument about these things, but by some accounts the deadliest Atlantic Hurricane was the Great Hurricane of 1780. On October 9th of that year, it came first to Barbados where it destroyed every house and lifted a heavy cannon, one capable of firing twelve pound projectiles, and carried it 140 yards. The hurricane moved up the Antilles, crossed the Anegada Passage, beat up on the Virgin Islands, it touched Hispaniola where it stripped the bark off trees, which if true would have required an estimated wind speed of over 200mph. It travelled east of the Turks and east of the Bahamas. Observers in the Province of East Florida recorded unusually big waves on their long lonely beaches. The Great Hurricane then travelled east of Bermuda, and was last recorded on October 20th off the south east tip of Newfoundland. Of course in that year of 1780, from Barbados all the way to the Turks and Caicos the might of French, British and Dutch navies where battling for control of the West Indies. A great many of the twenty two to thirty thousand estimated killed by The Great Hurricane were soldiers and sailors lost to the sea. A perspective on these numbers is perhaps to note that in 1780, twelve years before achieving statehood and independence from Virginia, Kentucky had a European and African population of around fifty two thousand. As well from April 19th 1775 to the 1783 Treaty of Paris, eight thousand Americans died in battle, many more died from wounds and other causes, and during those years of the American Insurgents successful insurrection against the English King, forty two thousand British sailors deserted His Majesty's Royal Navy.
Monday, October 29, 2012
The arguments for and against selfishness will play out over the next couple of hundred years, as they have over the past couple of tens of thousands of years. And in the next couple of days the arguments for and against selfishness will probably be thoroughly ignored. As a continuum of opposites here is the argument's status, as I see it today in the Cathedral that attempts to give thinking legitimacy through definition of meaning through language, which is the Cathedral of Donkey Brays that enable a head to nod in that knowing way as though truth itself was revealed, and awesomeness all around. At the one extreme of this continuum of selfishness, is the idea of 'enlightened self interest.' It's this concept that traditionally grants a morality to Kapital, or Free Markets or whatever flavor you wish to give the current incarnation of Western Society. The concept contains an understanding of our species which includes a 'farsightedness,' which I will define as a look into the future of 'me.' The 'enlightened' part of 'enlightened self interest' offers the assertion that the future of 'me' is conditioned by the future of 'others.' If they do well, I do well. Therefore at this extreme of the continuum, the future of 'me' is wholly dependent upon furthering the interests of others.
At the other extreme, is what's called 'rational self interest.' This is the current philosophy legitimizing the meaning of selfish for the political right here in the United States, and which offers an understanding of selfishness, as an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of simply being Human. It looks back into the past and sees all that is wise and wonderful and worthwhile as products of purely selfish acts. And it sees the benefit of these selfish acts as trickling down to others, as byproduct. Therefore, the future of 'me' is wholly dependant upon the selfishness of others. And here, like so many others, I absolutely blame the selfishness of others for such monstrosities as the telephone, hardware stores that sell plants and a banking system that produced Direct Deposit.. For those still interested, what's sometimes referred to as "unenlightened self interest" is also defined as "myopic greed." A sin, that up until recently I thought was one of those character flaws the Christian communities would continue to abhor, and I still weep along with Jesus at the memory of how deluded I have been, and I too am inclined toward the theological view of a wrath-filled and bad tempered God, a smelly footed man, who keeps Jesus chained in a basement on the off chance that poetry becomes useful again.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
From the minds of the Victorian era, came such ideas as Phrenology, where the shape of a skull hinted at the content, personality and character of a brain. Also, Victorian minds were washed in an idea of the earth as a geography of Human history. Culture, some argued, was dominated by geographic location. A materialism of place, I guess. An Island People, The Continental Mind, Mountain Folk, and so on. The second child of Sir Thomas Chapman, Seventh Baronet of Killua in Westmeath Ireland, and Sarah Junner, the governess to Sir Thomas's first family, was born in 1888. Sarah and Sir Thomas, never married, instead Sir Thomas ran off to Wales with Sarah. They changed their last name to Lawrence, which was the name Sarah Junner had chosen to give her own birth a legitimacy, and there near the town of Porthmadog, Sarah gave birth to their second child, to whom they gave the name Thomas Edward Lawrence. In his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E Lawrence mentions little of this, because he was ashamed of himself. He had lived too long with the intolerance of opinions which saw illegitimacy of birth as an evil, a Devil's stain, and which resulted in his family, moving from this humble abode to the next. From Wales, to Scotland, the New Forrest and the Isle of Wight. They did this, so that no one with upper class-ness might recognize and jeer at Sir Thomas or his love for Sarah Junner. A servant.
In his book, T.E Lawrence digresses upon an idea of the deserts of the Arabian Peninsular as the seed bed for the cultures that developed up and down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. He saw the cleansing influence of desert peoples, disciplined by cruel desert living, moving north in conquests that refreshed the richer northern lands, which were so prone to the corruption of wealth and ease. And as the Ottoman Empire fell, T.E Laurence saw himself as Lawrence of Arabia, playing a role in an historical process that went back through the generations to the dawn of what Victorian minds, Edwardian minds and even some of the minds today, call Civilization. The shape of the world, its rivers, its mountains, its rolling hills and its plains may well be a Phrenology of culture. The Swiss for example are dull and yet very dangerous in their mountains, so are the Afghans. Coastal people eat sea food. The inland Steppes, long years before the Mongol of the 13th Century, had already produced terrifying hordes of Scythians, Huns, Turks, and would have continued merrily to do so had Russian Tsars not decided to put an end to it all sometime in the 16th Century, a mission Peter The Great finally accomplished two hundred years later.... So maybe T.E. Laurence was correct, Earth has a phrenology. And I wonder what its geography has in store for my own adopted county, with its Midwest and its Bible Belt, the planets of Texas and Maine. All the same I can't help but remember, that Sir Thomas's first wife, Edith, when her husband left her, turned Castle Killua into a God-sopped place, filled with ghosts, prayer and terrible punishment for servant girls and other mortals deemed lesser.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
When I first came to Kentucky, I had an interest in the origin of the state's name. Kentucky I was told, meant something like "bloody field," in "one or other of the Indian languages." A little time and much confusion has passed since then. However, there are nine main language families amongst the indigenous peoples of North America. Which means at the time of Columbus, North America had more linguistic variety than did Europe. During the very early European domination of the East Coast, the part of Kentucky where I now live spoke one or other of the Algic languages. In my understanding of the Algic family of languages, it includes Shawnee, and Illinois. As well, Algic languages were spoken all the way up to the Great lakes and all the way east to the Powhatan. But soon after the arrival of the Europeans, the Iroquois, who where Five Nations People - the Mohawks, the Seneca, from up there in the north, toward Canada and New York State - ventured south and west, and into Kentucky. They were looking for new hunting grounds and Beaver pelts, and they were fierce and well armed following their contact with European technologies and manners. As well, the Cherokee, from the hills of South West Virginia, Tennessee, the very East of Kentucky and that part of the Appalachians that includes The Smokies, spoke a language in the Iroquois family of languages.
I have been told, the word "Kentucky" comes from an Iroquois word "ken-tah-ten" which means "land of tomorrow." I have also been told that today's word "Kentucky" comes from another Iroquois word "kain-tuc-ee," which means "meadow lands." Then there is the story of Dragging Canoe. Around the time of the American Revolution, he was a Cherokee war chief, who as he matured became very pissed off with both Kings and Colonists. He got his name, because when he was a youngster, to show how ready for war he was, he told his elders he could carry a canoe, but when they asked him to demonstrate, all he could manage was to drag the canoe. When he was a younger chief, Dragging canoe had an objection to selling off Cherokee ancestral hunting grounds, which included parts of what is now Central Kentucky, and where once Bison roamed. His opinion was overruled by the council, but not before Dragging Canoe was able to tell the English speakers that they were buying a "dark and bloody land." His face would have been scarred by small-pox, his heroic reputation as a war leader a far way from being made, and I can well imagine his eyes being fierce as he spoke. Quite far to the east of here, but still in Kentucky, there are a couple of hills and a zip code called Canoe, which I am told are named after him. And a little to the north of here is a town called Buffalo. But so little is recorded, who really knows.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Lucy's earlier relative Salem, I am told, was about three years old when she succumbed. But when imagination is addressing creatures, who lived upon this earth over three million years ago, there are always a number of interpretations, followed by reinterpretations, followed by vigorous debate. Salem could have been three and half or five years old when she died. But clearly both Lucy and Salem walked upright. These early people did not have to use their arms as a second pair of legs when moving across open ground, and the evidence for this is deduced from the structure of what is called a Lumber Curve. Which is a curve in the spine from just above the bottom, or buttocks, to around where the ribs begin. This sometimes seductive curve is also the reason for that most irritating expression "lift with your legs." And let's leave aside the moaning and groaning about whether Lucy and Salem were people, because that starts tirade and tangent and long winded-ness which ends with angry discussion on whether Felis Domesticus is a distinct species, or pretty much like any other cat only sneakier and more manipulative. And let's try hard to avoid thinking about sinus ailment and other sacrifices our species have had to make in their ludicrous pursuit of two legged-ness. Instead let's enter the debate on the more serious question of whether the generations of Lucy and Salem, when at the end of their day, tired from foraging, would climb into trees and there, use their hands to build a nest large and strong enough to sleep and cuddle in.
I'm a proponent of the nesting idea. It's clear to me that nesting was and still is a principle preoccupation of our species. I am very certain that little Salem would scurry around looking for twigs, dried grasses, vines and offer up other suggestions. And in her mind she would tell herself, "One day I too will build a nest." And had she lived a few years longer she might even have reached that point where her imagination decided, "My nest is bigger than your nest." Those who have a contrary opinion to mine, and I regret to say there are still a few of them, would disagree. The likes of Salem and Lucy, they argue, had already been walking around upright for millions of years, and were more likely to have fully adapted to the role of ground dweller. Certainly, they continue to argue, the similarity between Salem's scapular, her shoulder blade, or what I call 'my wing,' to that of a tree climbing Gorilla, gave Salem a good ability to climb trees. But, they argue, because of those millions of years of two legged uprightness, if Salem was a 'tree climber' she was a 'tree climber in emergency,' rather than a 'tree climber' by 'adaption to living in trees.' A pretty bloody vacuous opinion in my view. Nor is their use of the word "it" when referring to Salem and Lucy, helpful to my understanding of this contrary opinion. I do understand it's an attempt to avoid any sort of personal association or bias or emotional relapse. It's a search for a more empirical clarity, but it's a little like calling the condemned man an "it" before plunging the needle into his arm. And too, it's that sort of empiricism that redefines an understanding of gratitude and replaces it with, I don't know, something like the blindness of a Private Equity Fund.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
In the next couple of weeks the community of Mockingbirds will settle toward the essential outlines of their Winter Territories. And while it would be so much more straightforward if individual Mockingbirds did not all look very much alike, I have decided it's possible to distinguish those Boy Mockingbirds who have a sense of confidence about their winter, from those Boy Mockingbirds who do not. That Close Mockingbird who has claim to the North East of the front porch, is a nervous wreck. He has, as his main worry, possession of two shrubs, both of which are well laden with berry. It is a rich spot, with a corner, around which he can find shelter from a brisk North West Gales, he can warm to the morning sun, take a dip in the gutter after rain, and it's not hard for him to pop up to the gable where he has a good enough view of all other Mockingbird Territories. He is terribly bad tempered, he growls at me every morning, and sometimes even at night. I have seen him chase a young Chipmunk, he's allergic to Dove, and I have tried to soothe him though confident whispering, but probably he just doesn't like the smoke from Tobacco, which is after all a discourager of insects, one of his food sources, as well as it having the more obvious benefit from the opportunity it provides to reduce the burden of longevity by several decades.
To the Close Mockingbird's South, is the territory of Cedar Mockingbird. This territory also has a gable upon which to sit and gaze into futures unknown. And I too have sat up there, and I can tell you it would be a great deal less unsettling up there if a person could fly, or had a parachute. But the Cedar Mockingbird's own preference is the very top of the electric pole, which is just that little bit taller. And there is news from his comrade in life, because at this past conference of molting, she fed well upon the Caterpillar of Wild Cabbage, and other deliciousness, and her tail feathers filled out. So she too is pretty pleased with herself, and joins him around the compost piles where they demonstrate trust by taking absolutely no notice of each other. And they'll sing, serene and comfortable, often quite beautiful. She to nothing in particular, but when he sings, he addresses Close Mockingbird land, its cubbyholes and plenty and its irritable Lord. And as to the question, how is it I know the Girl Cedar Mockingbird is not some sweet thing, fresh from an egg, but is the same Old Girl Mockingbird who has indeed recovered from attack by Tail Feather Mite? I could tell you, but much better to find meaning in the glimpse I had of her, while digging the outhouse, which is firmly on Cedar Mockingbird land. Her old fool was dressing up and gathering steam for one more foray Northward, and again she appeared to do no more than admire her new tail and gleam. And maybe tomorrow I'll take a first breath of new morning air somewhere other than the front porch, somewhere less dominated by ill-temper from worry, that sort of caterwaul of selfish, like a leak in the roof. Or maybe I am just delusional and require exorcism by fried egg, mustard, Green Bean and Tomato sandwich.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Interesting moment in "the Scottish Play," or what we who are trying hard to avoid long-windedness call "Macbeth." This tyrannical man's wife was suffering from what his doctor called "thick-coming fancies that kept her from rest." Lady Macbeth's sleep walking and yelling things like "out damn spot," and nattering on about imported perfumes sweetening "this little hand," had become worrisome. Macbeth, who was mostly frightened of everything because he was so damn ambitious, suffered his own hallucinations, and understood what it was to be a little nuts, asked his doctor to, "minster to (lady Macbeth's) mind disease." He wanted the doctor, to "pluck from memory a rooted sorrow, raise out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart." The doctor didn't really see his role as ministering to guilt ridden or troubled souls, so his excellent reply was basically "the patient must minister to herself." Which wasn't the antidote Macbeth wanted for his wife or for himself, and Lady Macbeth went on to kill herself. Which for some readers produces a sympathy for Macbeth's wife, because by killing herself some of us leap for the conclusion that at least she felt guilty about something, but probably we are just wishy-washy communists with our heads firmly in the sands of empathy.
Then much later, a Hungarian with the wonderful name of Ignaz Fulop Semmelweis, came to the conclusion that patients where much more likely to survive contact with the medical profession if doctors and nurses regularly washed their hands with chlorine. This was an idea considered too absurd by those established in a profession that did not believe in what came to be called a 'germ,' from the Latin word for 'germen' which translates into English as 'bud.' Ignaz was dismissed as a speculator in nonsense, even after he produced evidence in the form of a very suspicious looking, yet colorful, graph to support his claim. "A Semmelweis Reflex," is politely defined as a reflex-like tendency to reject ideas that interrupt more comfortably established idea. And here, Timothy Leary, in his own curious manner ends his theatrical definition of Semmelweis Reflex with the words, "in which a discovery of important scientific fact, is punished." And worth noting Ignaz came to the end of his life in an asylum, where he died at the age of forty seven of what a doctor today would call 'septicemia,' but which most still think of as blood poisoning, because 'septicemia' sounds pompously obscure and has the uncomfortable 'C'. And I guess the title of this ramble will be either "I am so much older than Semmelweis," or its title will be something the nineteen fifties first began to call "cognitive dissonance." Which is when a mind starts making things up to avoid actually having to consider the possibility of it being capable of error.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
It's probably the case we all live in fear of inadequate income. Which is not easy to define, because I have found 'inadequate income' is one of the more subject measurements, because around where I live, it includes such things as Cable Television, vacations in Cancun, regular meals, as well as Eye-phones, or whatever they are called. I would argue that the source of this subjective measurement, is based upon the idea that if we can't look out for ourselves then no one is going to look out for us, or a fitness test which presumes upon indentifying 'fitness' as possessed of adequate income, and 'fittest' as being possessed of a greater adequate income than anyone else.. And this probably is why, in recent discussions here in the United States, the issue of 'climate change' has been pretty much ignored. Which suggests to me that this fear of inadequate income, however objectively the measurement is made, becomes the primary challenge to an understanding of Earth as finite.
There is an idea that our ingenuity and our fantastic-ness will continue to divide the cake into larger and endlessly larger slices. This idea contains a faith, which, oddly enough was published in manageable form in the year 1776, by a Scotsman and social philosopher called Adam Smith, whose thinking continues to provide the fundamental theory in modern "Economics." A discipline which has its own canons, its own verses, its own quarrels, which stem I guess from Adam Smith's own understanding that his thinking was "Political Economics," certainly not "science." Faith has been often at odds with emerging lessons from physics, and from mathematics, but it melds nicely with an idea of a guiding hand under which the more interesting questions are always taken care of and have been back through the generations to Eden. Then as I see it, if you put aside the eccentric opinion that our species is capable of reinventing itself, the solutions to fear of inadequate income from our leaders are essentially as follows. Either fewer and fewer will get more and more of whatever it is income provides. Or, more and more will get less and less of whatever it is that income provides. With us, solace has always been found in faith, and faith is often better defined as a quality of blindness. And just so you know, faithlessness is often far less predictable and therefore less stable in its search for idea.
Monday, October 22, 2012
A Tweet permits no more than one hundred and forty characters. And here, included in the definition of "character" is a tap on the space bar or any of those keys that are not letters. On the one side it probably prevents rambling, it offers a chance to concentrate thought, and I guess it's a minimalism, which has also been called ABC Art, sound bite, bumper sticker and that range of carelessness that passes for insight in minds dominated by terror of nuance, or fear of answerless-ness, or nervousness around learning and therefore powered almost completely by tribal allegiance. And in terms of my own judgment of Twitter, better perhaps to simply say, I am glad neither of the Wittgenstein's or Russell are alive to see what jolly good fun it is.
All the same, in my own explorations of idea through language, I have recently been much influenced by what a wise man once called "the four page sentence." And here, included in so lengthy a definition of long-windedness, is the wide range of facial and eye movements offered by the word 'yawn' when the word 'yawn' is not used to strictly mean an aspect of involuntary pandiculation. Of course, "long-windedness," is also what both the Wittgenstein's and Russell were trying to reduce in their attempt to define language as containing a greater usefulness. And interestingly enough, Noam Chomsky averages a couple of Tweets a day. But in the end language is a perception. Like hearing, eyesight and touch. Which naturally is a point of view many find too disabling to agree with.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
In the past twenty four hours I have heard some excellent music and some absolutely appalling music. The one kind of music made me want to throw back beers, drink in the world, smile at the agony of being alive, toss my head with Viking fearlessness and raise a cheer for bars and garages where better music is made than anywhere else in the world. The other kind of music made me want to slit, if not my wrists, then someone else's. And just so as you know this other kind of music wasn't that genre where the funny hat appears not to be optional and is loosely referred to as Country Music.
This other kind of music played through the loudspeaker at work at around noon, about five yards from my head and loud enough for the entire acre to hear. It wasn't the usual mix of light and dark, from Chubby Checker through the odd Constipated Chick to Dylan and the Rolling Stones. This other kind of music was some sort of gold digging spawn which would have made Jesus, in whose name it was sung, look for a second opinion on the actual purpose of his ordeal on the cross. Lets hope for his sake this other kind of music is just a passing fad, otherwise I am very convinced the Good Lord will put an end to us all.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Me, I've had what I suppose is called 'a thing' for Winter and Summer Solstice since I'd be awake in the dormitory, at that first year of school in England, wondering why everyone was asleep when outside it was still broad daylight. Shafts of light through the windows, which were good enough to read by, and reading after what was called 'lights out' lead to punishments which were equally peculiar at that school because they involved inflicting intense irritation on the unfortunate boy, rather than the cut and dry of physical harm that awaited me in later years. Then, when the winter terms arrived, there it was, pitch black by the middle of the afternoon and more often than not it was also raining. That horrible rain, which is part mist yet drips from gutters, and has a wind and cold to it that I was always convinced produced both sullenness and dandruff in comrades of my own age.
Inevitably the mind wanders around, gives things a kick or a shake to see what falls out, but after so long a period of time, odds are what does fall out is rearranged to suit some current whim. However, I do recall, being seriously confused by the insistence from those in whose charge we were, that we carry on as though daylight and nighttime made no difference. It did not matter what the sun or the sky was doing, we took our instructions from some thing else. And at a tender age, one is inclined to possess a willfulness which now that I am considerably older, I completely agree is truly obnoxious. It's something that should be reduced by discipline and fear. Certainly not encouraged as belonging to a necessary developmental stage by those who are solely concerned with future employment opportunities for psychoanalysts. Either way, some of us just stay that way, and for a good few years Solstice has been 'a thing' for me that has importance, or it would have drifted off. And I was so looking forward to translating just a couple of words from Walking Stewart into Assyrian cuneiform. What's called 'temptation,' I guess.
Friday, October 19, 2012
I have to run to the feeling that Walking Stewart would make a most terrible House Guest. Not because he wouldn't be interesting, rather because he just wouldn't shut up, he'd leave a dreadful mess in the bathroom, he'd eat with his mouth open, which I have found irritates the hell out of The Artist, and for some reason I have this conviction that he'd hardly sleep at all, which would mean he'd spend his night creeping about the house knocking things over. As well I get the feeling he would be the kind of person who would play with things without being invited. The Artist's tractor would end up in the creek, and far worse I'd find no batteries in the device that remotely controls the television set.
However I am pretty damn certain he'd write a 'Thank You' letter, which would be about three pages of nothing in particular, and would end with a pithy and honest remark on the nature of his visit. Depressing to say it, but I spend more time than is healthy wondering what that remark might be, which suggests I am possessed of some sort of a worship of a person who died almost two centuries ago. And this places a dilemma upon this year's Winter Solstice celebration, which was to include the translation of some part of Walking Stewart's written work into Assyrian cuneiform. An error I begin to think, because I'm not certain either of the Solstices should be about people, or about worship.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Through the course of a year, maintenance of cut grass produces three things. The first is an emanation from a four stroke L-head petrol engine, the Job Creator of which was not obliged to reach into imagination for any kind of emissions converter. Estimates vary, as they always will and should be judged as estimates because organizations that indulge their passion for estimates, generally earn their wages from sources that I will call 'pre-inclined.' A grain of salt perhaps, should therefore be taken with the estimate that a gallon of petrol which weighs around six pounds produces somewhere between, 'insignificant' and 'twenty pounds' of carbon dioxide.
Sounds like magic, but according to the magicians carbon dioxide from hydrocarbons comes from the work of combustion, where the carbon in hydrocarbons combines with oxygen from the atmosphere, at the rate of at least one carbon atom to two oxygen atoms, to make the molecule CO2. You can wriggle it around if you wish to, but remember the oxygen atom is heavier than the carbon atom. Either way, I estimate the cutting of grass here where I live produces somewhere around three quarters of a ton of carbon dioxide a year, give or take a couple of hundred pounds, depending upon inches of rain, creative mood and other such lollygagging. And this, for the inconsolably curious, rounds down to a three hundred US dollar a year contribution to the vacation fund, or country cottage, or divorce settlement, or sense of worth portrayed by a Petroleum Executive in his or her role as reducer of the scythe to status of artisanal.
Cut grass, through the auspices of a loveable and often eccentric petrol consuming device, some parts of which are probably as ancient as seventeen years old, also consumes a considerable amount of time that I will call 'tinkering time.' A distant observer, on perhaps the Planet Neptune, might conclude that 'tinkering time' is a form of purgatory hinted at by the architecture of Gothic Cathedrals here on Earth, and as they watch me at 'tinkering time,' it's my belief these distant observers are in keen anticipation of finally documenting that novel idea first hinted at by Deuteronomy 32:22. A seminal moment, which for the better occupied I will précis by saying, some six thousand years after the six days of creation, or around three thousand years ago from today, a Hell augmented by Fieriness was introduced to its committee phase.
The final product of this ogre of cut grass is the sense of orderliness it brings to a mind dominated by the strictures placed upon idea by the personality traits of "meticulousness," "avarice" and "obstinacy." Which according to Freudians have their origin in 'anal retentiveness,' an infantile pleasure taken from feces retention as a means of making a point by those not yet possessing a fluency in one of the babbling languages the sources of which predated Fiery Hell by maybe four, or perhaps five thousand years. Which makes perfect sense to me, even though a more recent model of human development, dismisses the Freudian analysis as a product of the transitional time when indoor 'plumbing' was a novelty requiring greater control of "defecation than had been necessary" in the less punishing world of chamber pots, outhouses, alleyways and open windows. Quite how this makes Freud incorrect, I don't know, but that's psychoanalysts for you, who because they don't get out much, have obviously never walked through the toilet or "Bathroom" aisle of a Hardware Store, which is to the right and politely hidden from "Lawn and Garden" by "Flooring."
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Give me the synopsis, let me understand what the person is trying to say, then I have a chance to wade through the details, look for those things I disagree with and become wisely challenged by them. At least theoretically. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I don't seem to function that way, and I'd suggest nor do you, because we are more like Crocodiles than we are like Plato's Socrates. A character written to engender the wisdom of Solomon in students, or in Plato's case Pericles the Tyrant, a brilliant leader whose own entail were not similarly blessed with the wisdom and foresight of goldenness. A record that resounds down the ages, because Socrates' own three children, were according to Aristotle 'silly and dull.' And we all know what that means.
But climbing the mountain, my pitons are deep somewhere in a limbic system that identifies 'a private elevator in a public building.' It asks the question, what kind of mind would demand such a thing, and what else might it want from the work of others. It could be a convenience against corridors of bustle and touching from vulgar litigators, or from the scent of beggars un-entitled to beg. It could be an allergy to the taste of other opinions, colors and kinds, which might once have proved a useful shyness in our species, and still lingers. Or, it could be that higher up in his cerebral cortex the man is just an asshole. However, my own Prince, may place a private elevator wherever his brave heart desires, and I guess so can yours.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
One of the problems with "Principle" emerges directly from the three ideas in its definition. "A basic truth, a law or an assumption." "A basic truth" is distinct from a "Truth." It is for example "A basic truth" that "the world is round." It might also be "A basic truth" that "seeds can be purchased at a Hardware Store." But the world is not actually round, it is more Orange shaped and it has mountains. And sometimes when there are seedlings drooping on the hot pavement of the Hardware Store parking lot, there is not a seed to be found inside the Hardware Store, because they are all hidden away by the deceit of "have a nice day," and I know they are all of them behind the counter somewhere in locked drawers, waiting for what is loosely referred to as a "Sale," by the unprincipled bastards in the accounting department. "Law" for its part, has its own problematic dimensions.
There is the "Law" of the judicial system, and there are, for example, the "Laws" of thermo dynamics, where there was a time when it was thought impossible to pass work from the "cooler to the hotter" and we were all headed for entropy, a condition under which no work could be achieved, a sort of heaven I guess. But, a truly principled mind would understand that all these things are "Assumptions" a mind holds on to as "Principles," because of their perceived advantages to the enterprise of being Human. A principled mind would not call them "truths," and when it does it becomes that fatted calf an Ideologue, out of whom more trouble has been given to the world than by the Stinkbug, whose current multitude in the Vegetable Garden I blame on a Black Snake for having gobbled up the Garden Mouse. Nor is this some vague and wishy-washy republican "Assumption" on my part, because Sweet Potato are completely un-nibbled.
Monday, October 15, 2012
The emotional content of interaction between beings had reached impasse between myself and the community of Mockingbirds. This was, I knew, an aspect of seasonal change, yet every season I have found myself yelling at them to get along with each other, share the Alatus and Privet, indulge the song festival, or at least chase the Blue Jay, whose own preoccupation gives him that sense of one who has a legal standing that is never damaged by slights upon his character, or by wing flapping, or by flying directly at him in rage, or by any such loud cry to arms.
Then yesterday, as the shades drew nigh, and as I found new ways to fault the world for it's insistence upon an evolutionary trail that has resulted in a vale of sorrow that sees fulfillment in commodities, and has achieved its Solstice in that gymnasium of wishfulness where I am employed, I heard a princess hidden in the Wild Rose who was singing to herself in a whisper so sad I knew she too had felt the weight of her incarnation as a Mockingbird. For supper I had mashed Potato and Onion, with Chard, and a salty cheese, and I followed it with a couple of medicinal dried Plums, which I thought tasted good. She, I believe, took comfort from the red berries of Asparagus.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Much activity amongst creatures of both land and air who at this time of the year obsess upon nuts. There's the more traditional burying of nuts in likely places, that sort of dotting around, followed by long pauses so memory might come into play, from Fox Squirrel. I'm pretty certain The Artist's Chipmunk has secured both a major and a great many minor hoards, though I try not to think where these caches might be, they contain peanuts I know.
Amongst Blue Jays, this year, there is what I will call a reluctance to conference. I have yet to see them traverse the sky in wandering crowds as they have done in past years, sometimes wending westward, then as though following a panic in leadership, wending eastward. But the Apple Tree still calls to one Blue Jay, he can be seen diligent around its trunk. He'll place his nut on the cut grass while he beaks open a chosen spot, then when his nut is safe from predation by others, he'll pause a while to feel rather pleased with himself.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Trial by God, indeed. And, if I was God I would outlaw the mirror. I would remove it from creation, and anyone who attempts to invent it, will be struck with the full mightiness, and here I don't mean just lightening bolts, I mean the entire panoply of stricken-ness, an entire Swat Team from the mind of Dante. And I say this because there is an arrangement of mirrors in the bathroom, past which one should not walk naked unless it's pitch dark. Astonishing resemblance between my own shriveled arse and that of an aging Chimpanzee, who might also have once been a boy, instead of whatever it is boys turn into as they approach final dissolution. A "Still Small Voice," I always thought it would be, not this bastard reflecting device, which now that I look around seem to be all over the bloody place.
Walking Stewart had similar ideas to the Ateso People. Like them he had an understanding of dissolution, which I guess he gleaned from the Tamil People. A body for the Ateso would follow the Lead Bull off into the night, and most beautifully, it would return again as a child. Walking Stewart's own return would be, if not a person, then some other creature. And while I have mention the Ateso dream of dying more often then once, and while I understand that missions of the One God from both Mecca and Bethlehem have probably ripped out so beautiful an idea from the Ateso mind, I also know that because I live in the New Christendom, and am employed by it's Fulfillment Center, lusting after N-scale model train sets is a liberty expected from me. Nor will I succumb to the temptation to following my fellow Aquarian into the phrase: "The only man of nature who ever appeared in the world." Because that way lies laudanum. "Give me a String Bean, I'm a hungry man. Shotgun sound, and away I ran." To quote Bob Dylan, and whoever it was took this photograph.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Big sadness in the barn, there was no Traveler, no words of wisdom, no comfort to be drawn from the spit of the phrase "Convenience of Direct Deposit." Yet someone lives in the barn I know. He is sometimes yellow haired, his eyes always dark as coal. I'd guess eons ago he was laid to rest, with tears and perhaps flowers, and maybe they sang a song, and danced for him. He is smaller than most, lame in his right leg from the day of his birth, a disadvantage some thought, and on his ninetieth birthday it was as though he had been alive forever. And I guess it's this sort of moment that some might think real, because believing it real, has a value which satisfy's want. More likely though the value of believing is gained from the believing of others. And so you sit there, change the shape of your face to earnest, crumble into a humility, imagine no flesh on your bones as you turn the pages of your life looking for something other's might call sincerity, or worse. Me, I look at that and know it's the idiot side of treachery, and it's too late. Did God really speak to you? Or is it you speaking for God.
The mightiest Christian ever to walk this earth was Constantine. He put the cross on the shields of his legionnaires and Christian tribes have loved him ever since. So you can imagine my surprise when I returned from my chores to find Constantine sitting on my chair in the room where the television is. He was watching the Weather Channel. "Did you really want to be baptized in the River Jordan?" I asked him. "It was my mother's idea," he replied. "And she was tough about fashionable things. So when I got sick I thought maybe she knew something I didn't." "They made her a Saint," I reminded him. He laughed, "Well, I guess they would. After all she did watch while the slaves dug up the True Cross, all of them uncircumcised thank goodness. And it was I who actually killed my eldest son and my second Empress. And I have always felt strange about that because she was a loyal Empress to me. She once saved my life. But I had had her father killed, so it was one of those tricky things, which is why my mother decided we'd leave my second Empress in an overheated bath. Make it look like an accident." Then I asked him what it was like to be dead. "Dull sometimes," he replied. And sure as eggs I hope he doesn't stay for supper.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Walking Stewart was sometimes called The Traveler, and had it not been for his "personal dissolution by death," he might have understood why it is 'Direct Deposit' so pisses me off. His state of nature was this: he'd harmonize men with "the great organisms of the universe" to achieve a state "when appropriation of things and persons shall cease." Worth noting too that at the turn of the eighteenth century into the nineteenth century he agreed with the feminists of his time. A state of half the population of the globe, he insisted, "where the female is subjected to the male, is a state of far worse slavery." Also worth noting that he had a cruel prejudice against the Irish. "Man," he had decided, "was an anticipatory animal. Not so the Irish." But he had "seen twenty Irishmen at Philadelphia beat the whole crew of a French Privateer." A quality of the Irish that impressed him mightily, and to which he returned regularly. And also worth noting that when a former employer, The Nawab of Arcot's affairs were finally settled, Walking Stewart received ten thousand pounds sterling, which today would translate into around a million pounds sterling, or around one and a half million dollars. All of it sweepings from the despotic relationship between the East India Company, the Tamil People of Southern India and their bejeweled Princes.. A subject I could bore you with until our mind's turned purple in an attempt to understand what "the great organisms of the universe" might be. But, when it comes to how our species would achieve its state of nature, the views of Walking Stewart reawaken in me the arbatu and mingat of the Great Genghis Khan, hints of Proud Sparta, The Dedicated Kibbutznic, and I guess also his views reawaken in me images of those dream places from the late Twentieth Century that entertained the kiddies until the police, or some sort of religious nut with a promise of paradise hereafter, arrived.
Walking Stewart's idea of family unit was a hundred men and a hundred women living in a barracks. Twenty such communities would form a province and so on it would go. I'll call it 'the day to day of an intimacy' that he was looking for between people. It would be borne of volition - through the power of will - because except for people like the Irish and Puritan Americans and occasionally the French, Walking Stewart trusted the Nature of the Human Being, which makes him a socialist. And he chose the number, one hundred men and one hundred women, because in his mind, this was the round number of people who could hear each other's conversations, listen to and participate in other lives intimately. Nor was he fool enough to believe for one minute that such an organization could happen, so instead he decided to describe himself as, "The only man of nature who ever appeared in the world." A claim which, when Walking Stewart made it, was gently dismissed as the 'madness' of an "imperfect education" by De Quincey. And it might have been described as rambling yapping from a child never to be seen at dinner again, by someone like Wordsworth. But it was something altogether different for someone like Richard Carlile, who spoke at Peterloo just before the massacre, and who spent a year in jail on the charge of blasphemy for publishing 'Principles Of Nature,' one chapter of which Walking Stewart is suspected to have written. It's a dichotomy which becomes much confused by listening to the random movement of idea through the minds, who are at this moment in a Hippodrome not so far from where I live, plotting political careers on the backs of men and women who in their turn are plotting their own careers in one or other of those industries that occupy until that moment Walking Stewart described so beautifully as 'personal dissolution by death.' For my part, in order to participate more fully, do the natural thing, I am going to go outside where I'll take the shotgun to a couple of Beagles who have spent much of their morning barking in a most unnecessary and yet somehow very familiar manner at the Vegetable Garden. And maybe one of them contains the dissolutive remnant of genius that departed in the Aquarian month of 1822. And maybe The Traveler will return whole again and in the morning I'll meet him in the barn, where I'll ask him whether De Quincey was a pain in the neck, before going on to the more important business 'Direct Deposit.'
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Once upon a time an Empress said to the Emperor, "Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. " Then she added, "Never will I see the day when I am not saluted as Empress." Her husband, The Emperor Justinian, was ready to make the big getaway. He knew what was happening in the Hippodrome. The Blue Team was watching the Green Team prepare to give his crown to a former General of good family, who had also won a few battles against Persian forces, and there was considerable dispute as to how victorious he had been because the Persians had not disappeared from the face of the earth. Justinian, himself, was pacing the balcony, staring at the sea, he knew where the getaway boat was, he had his covey of strong men with swords, and there must have been a sailor or two, who knew the world beyond the Emperor's palace, and who understood that Emperors whatever their circumstance generally had access to a great deal of gold. The Empress said something like, "Purple's the only color I'll be buried in." And there are some who might argue that this sort of display of intransigence so well exemplified by the Empress Theodora is the cause of a sickness in our world that might be more trouble than it's worth. Others, recognize the Empress's words, as containing a responsibility. Me I was on Justinian's side, I saw the bleak future, it's pointlessness and endless quarrelling, and I have always liked boats, because they have a calmness to them, until you start putting guns on them, or engines in them, or landing aero planes on them. It's when they have sails a person can wander, catching this breeze then that, so much better than beer or whiskey and shouts of alarm, and memories that fail to record that yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of Uganda Independence Day, flags in the streets, chants of UPC and of Kabaka Yeka.
But just as important! "What of the Green team?" Justinian had expelled all but a few of his closest comrades from the palace, a former General of good family included amongst the expelled. This former general, let's call him George, hurried home and tried to hide, but much burlier representatives from the Green Team dragged George to the Hippodrome, and seeing his chance George agreed that crowns were rather fun to wear even if sometimes a little nerve-wracking to be in charge of. Then a Eunuch, carry a bag of gold entered the Hippodrome, he was alone and he was unarmed in the face of a crowd that already had tasted blood as the solution to each and every disagreement. The Eunuch walked up to the Blue team and spoke to their leaders. For a moment the Green team was silent, until the business of crowning a new Emperor reawakened their cheering, and probably they'd had plenty of beer to drink, happy bastards. But the Eunuch had more than gold in his bag. He had a secret message from the Emperor Justinian for the leaders of the Blue team. "Get out quick." And as the crown was placed upon George's head, the Blue Team walked out of the Hippodrome, which left just the Green team, a more manageable twenty thousand of them, for the Palace Guard to slaughter. Justinian would have spared George's life, but the Empress insisted George be executed. In the end, one of the most interesting things about Justinian, - (other than the revisions to Roman Law made during his rule that provided the foundation for what we now think of as the Western Legal Tradition, and aside from the strong support his time in office provided to Women in their enduring battle for status and respect, and if we try to forget that he was the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin as a native tongue) - is that Justinian was born to a peasant family in the northern part of what recently became The Republic of Macedonia. There is newly commissioned Statue of Justinian in the renovated city of Skopje, which is also the home of an airport which after some wrangling with the Greeks had it's name changed to Alexander the Great Airport.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I am certain that mention of De Quincey or Grasmere produces anguish and yawning in more than a few. I am also aware that perhaps only to my mind does the turn of the Eighteenth Century into the Nineteenth Century better reflect the conundrum facing the current generations. As well, I realize how incredibly incoherent I can begin to sound while contained within the rhapsody of words. This is no "Host of Daffodil." And for certain I am not "lonely as a cloud." And "Kubla Khan" in his "Xanadu" can kiss my arse. Consider it a familiar ailment, if you wish to, but surely it's possible to take some joy from De Quincey's expression "stomach and its attachments." It makes me look downward and think of the creature that dominates the rest of me. A moment or two that turns me tedious, and thank goodness I have one external origin I can point to. And no need for me to invent this demon's most recent name because it's shining like the wind from Troy "that cast Ulysses... upon the coast of the Cicons," and it's called, "Direct Deposit."
The idea of it produces this question from me for De Quincey and Grasmere in general, "In your day did factory workers get paid at the end of their work in cash money or did they have to go through the ordeal of filling out a form so that an invisible coin might be transfered into an invisible vault." I'd reckon, De Quincey at least, would enter a note or two on the origin of coin as a means of exchange, and see "direct deposit" as an aspect of progress, and by so doing he'd further dismiss the exchange of mere labor as deserving of any intimacy, or comradeship, or brotherhood or any such emotional "attachment" no matter the stomach's location, which in my case is somewhere in Seattle, or was, but which might just as well be on the other side of the moon. As well De Quincey was a man who believed in the authority of a ruling class, so his instinct would be to think "what business is it of yours to decide how your betters reward you." Which makes a person wonder where Xanadu might be, and which is why the leap year of 1812 is increasingly a better reflection of the leap year of 2012.
Monday, October 8, 2012
"A Mere," is a small lake, or a pond, or a bog, or at least something in landscape dominated by water or things that ooze, and maybe contains a Salamander, and generally a mere is well above sea level. I have never been to Grasmere, which is a village that sits close enough to Grasmere Lake. And I don't believe I ever will go there, because I already suspect it's an olde-worldy place that's fit for tourists who like fresh air, hearty exercise, in conjunction with an internet service and maybe beer with the word 'real' in its description. As well, Grasmere is a long way from here, across an ocean, and in the end the Hardware Store is about as far as I can travel without falling to an ennui with emotional outbursts. But if ever I did visit Grasmere, I would want to stare at Dove Cottage, which Wordsworth rented until he and Mrs. Wordsworth so managed their world as to produce three children in four years, with consequent distress on the great man's ability to concentrate upon meaning, or perhaps reputation, through rhyme, and so larger quarters had to be found. Then in 1809, a year after the Wordsworth's left Dove Cottage, Thomas De Quincey moved into it. And while I am certain there will be dispute, I'd argue that De Quincey was one of those people who could be extraordinarily irritating if you happened to be a Wordsworth, or the poet Coleridge (In Xanadu did Kubla Khan), or a Charles Lamb (From Troy ill winds cast Ulysses), or anyone of those people that De Quincy (From an early age I had been accustomed to wash my head in cold water at least once a day), spent a great deal of time trying to meet.
In his essay on Walking Stewart, De Quincey records a conversation he had had with both Wordsworth and Coleridge. The talking had moved into the subject of 'madmen,' which in those days was a category somewhere between 'eccentric' and 'the lunatic asylum.' The two poets were fairly certain that 'madmen' where dull to be around, there was the ranting, the rudeness, the unwarranted assertions and other flaws that 'madmen' appeared to have such little control over. De Quincey disagreed, he claimed that it depended upon the source of the 'madness.' For example, an ailment of the "stomach and its attachments" could indeed lead to distracted thought, incoherence and tediousness, because such an ailment attacked the "principle of a pleasurable life." But, a person whose 'madness' was unallied to such an ailment, who was merely full tilt in the process of his thoughts, however incoherent that person might be, was often a great deal of fun to be around. De Quincey rather enjoyed spending time with Walking Stewart, found his antics amusing. Wordsworth did not, and I'd say that Walking Stewart's 'madness' prompted Wordsworth toward a sort of envy, which is an idea worth exploring if I am indeed to prepare for Winter Solstice through an understanding of what it was Walking Stewart meant by "Men of Nature." And also worth mentioning that De Quincey was a Tory, he championed aristocratic privilege and he wouldn't have set foot in Revolutionary France. He thought The Peterloo Massacre of August 1819 a victory for good sense that set an example to others, rather than the charge of sixty blundering cavalrymen into a gathering of around seventy thousand mostly hungry people who were demanding the right to vote. An event which some have called the origin of the British Labour Movement, and out of which came the funds to produce the first Guardian Newspaper. And if De Quincey were alive today, he'd be recognizable as a presence on one or other of the television programs that seek to indoctrinate through news as a sporting event.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
A most wretched rumor of patchy frost tonight. I can persuade myself it'll be a passing blight at around seven or eight thirty tomorrow morning, it'll feed a little and then it'll move on. And I can persuade myself that around ten days from tomorrow frost will come again. It's this next frost that will consume. Then on the day after Winter Solstice, day light will begin to lengthen. And there will be celebration to mark that moment, which could include a reconstruction of the uniform of an Armenian Private Soldier circa 1760.
Walking Stewart also had an idea that the English Language was doomed to an extinction. In "Harp of Apollo," he modestly, "conjured (his) readers to translate this work into Latin, and to bury it in the ground, communicating on their death-beds only its place of concealment to men of nature." On December twenty first - which this year falls on the more traditional Friday goddamned it - let's hope that the ground's not frozen and that Walking Stewart was wrong about Latin, and that I am correct about Assyrian Cuneiform.