Thursday, December 13, 2018

Decorative Accents

North, North, East Corner has reached the point where the track is laid, and on reflection that was probably the easy part of this N Scale Winter, kind of like there's no wood on the porch. Decorative accents are a whole new lump of wax, primarily because decorative accents do not dictate They belong to posy which is an archaic word that also meant a bunch of flowers and still does mean a bunch of flowers. Posy is stuff like lines of verse which in Aristotle' s elements of persuasion, logos, ethos and pathos are more a part of the ethos, pathos side. It's an area out of which very few decisions have ever been successfully made and pretty much all of them have ended up on what's called the dustbin of history..

 Words, like railway lines have structure, they are more about logos. In short Posy emerges from suspicion and uncertainty and you kind of know posy when you see it, or hear it or read it as verse or experience it. "The sky is blue like an orange," makes a posy type  sense but you wouldn't want to launch a rocket to Mars on such a wishy-washy passing moment of posy. At the same time a desire to launch a rocket to Mars is more likely about posy, so there's a whole roundabout thing with us people, which is why Artificial Intelligence will have us beat when it has the capacity to fend for itself, unless it succumbs to a very intelligent winter ennui and just sort sits there being all about logos instead of diligently entertaining itself by plotting the conquest of the universe..

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What is Thinking

"What is Thinking?" is a book by Martin Heidegger that was written during a rehabilitation that followed from his purported support of Adolf Hitler. When Hitler came to power, our friend Martin had a good job at a University and such were the times that to keep his job and all the good things that went with it, he had to bow down to the Political Party in Power and stop thinking about the possibility that the Nazi Party might not be an expression of the authentic. Following the war Martin was roundly castigated for the errors of his ways by all and sundry, and he had a difficult time finding a teaching job.

But sadly it's the case that you don't send Professors of Philosophy to ditch digging and factory work, it's seen as a slippery slope by other Professors of Philosophy, kind of like fallen tyrants if they're not bumped off by irate citizens they always seem to find a home somewhere. Idi Amin Dada Ourmee is a classic example, it was Colonel Gadfafi of Libya not a North Korean who first gave Idi a home, in 1980 he was given sanctuary by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabi where he died in 2003 at the age of between 74 to 80, his date of birth uncertain.  Either way "What is thinking?" is a damned good question and Martin's book while not exactly a ripping yarn is well worth reading.

Monday, December 10, 2018

General Theory

Nothing more dangerous than waiting for glue to dry. An N Scale Novice just sits there staring at it, enters a reverie familiar to the Fox Squirrel, soon enough his mind wanders, and before he knows it a whole new more sensible layout plan emerges, becomes concrete in the ethers and if he's not very careful out come the sharp knives and jackhammers. And this is why the slightly more experienced N Scale Modeler doesn't watch glue dry, he listens to an Internet Radio twenty four hour television news program so that he can spend most of his waking hours cursing the Advertising Professionals and their unforgivably evil concept of our world.

"Give the gift of panettone." It's a breathless whisper from a male voice who's clearly in the process of struggling with an incomprehensible relationship with Italian bakery products instead of usefully writing well reasoned emails to his spineless congressman. The female significant other in this truly icky pair, who had never been able to find the time to visit The Gym, becomes irrationally excited when she hunts down her seasonal gift, and worth remembering we boys have never been able to hide anything from girls. The thing is, for some weeks, what I heard as "panettone" which is the Italian bread that comes in an impossible to open box, it has the nutritional value of a rice cake and four raisons, and will outlast a landfill, was actually, "Give the gift of Peloton." Which, and who on earth is supposed to know this, is an incredibly expensive stationary bicycle that's generally photographed in what could be a sanitized library..... I weep for our people!


Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Gift of Charism

Charism is like charisma only it's a supernatural gift of grace given to particular people for the purpose of building up the church for everybody. There's a whole list of these special gifts and amongst them is the discernment of, or ability to see, Spiritual Agents. These agents include Angels and Devils, there's also the tricky area of Divine Grace which is a good agent and there are agents of Concupiscence, an odd word, a little suggestive and well worth at least contemplating.

First thing to note is that Concupiscence is a badness that comes from human soul, it's seen as a desire of the lower appetites and is contrary to reason. It's a never satisfied passion to draw as much of reality as possible into oneself, including knowledge, power, sex and in the process of satisfying this lower appetite never uniting with, affirming or loving another being. Call me special, possessed of at least one gift of Charism if you like, because I suspect there's some sort of agent of concupiscence disguised as the current US President.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Blessed Release

Not many people know this, but one of the obvious cures for the sort of restlessness that can lead to sore feet, sinus trouble, dizzy spells and hives is an early seasonal gift of 25, 3 foot lengths of N Scale cork railroad bed ($14.99) and a pack of 48 N Code 80 rail joiners ($2.87.) Oh sure, there'll be some who call this sort of thing a pathetic case of grasping hypochondria that should be strongly discouraged in those of us who are clearly facing the horrible prospect of a second childhood. But I don't care, I feel great, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, the tooth will be pulled, life may soon return to a normal, mundane and very ordinary routine, it's as though the clouds have opened to reveal a heavenly host and soon enough I might even spend a night asleep instead of wandering around in a kind of purgatory that not even Dante could adequately describe this side of his having lived long enough to visit Disney World or the foyer of a Hardware Store in December.

The problem is the 5 rail lines in the North End (which strictly speaking is the North, North East Corner) have to go under a wide tunnel, we're talking a good 2 square feet of incredibly valuable real estate. This means access to these rail lines for the purposes of maintenance requires a removable tunnel roof. Currently the North, North East Corner, short of suspending myself from the ceiling cannot be reached comfortably, and when standing on tiptoes working on it I have so far succeeded in damaging some tendons in my left foot, which is the good foot, tilted forward, sprained my wrist and banged my head several times which aggravates an old complaint of the inner ear that results in my hearing a constant and entirely unnecessary high pitched whining sounds interspersed by spells of dizziness which may in the past have led to hives. Just a few more days of agony and the rail lines should be in place, functioning, no trains constantly derailing each other, all of it beautifully concealed from the casual observer and ready for what in the future could be a scene resembling the cover of a Gormenghast paperback. Yes indeed, "holy, holy, holy."

Friday, December 7, 2018

N Scale Tensions

Alright Chaps! I'd like to think that I've been negotiating with Kazakhstani Oligarchs on matters critical to the survival of Liberal Democracy. Well I can't do that but I can report that I have been negotiating with the Saint Barbara's Barefoot Carmelites who in almost every respect could teach Kazakhstani Oligarchs a lesson or two in outright ruthlessness. Still can't see what's wrong with putting a magnificent railway bridge over the roofs of Saint Barbara's Carmelite Hermitage, but there you go, the Lord does work in mysterious ways and apparently not only would I be breaking several Sacred Laws I'd also be breaking far too many of the more Temporal Laws of Physics.

So it's down to plan B. And on this I do have tremendous support from the Barbarian Department of Tourism, who are all for a viewing platform on the north side of the River Styx from which binoculars can be trained on the Hermitage and rest assured there'll be a big financial reward for any tourist capturing a photograph of a Carmelite wearing anything like socks or shoes or sandals or gum boots. "How," I've been asked, "can I possibly sink so low?" The thing about us tyrants we don't mess around when it comes to getting our way particularly on the subject of wide curves for 2-6-4 steam locomotives hauling a multitude of carriages, and I can pretty much guarantee that by this time next year Carmelite emissaries will be begging me to break the Laws of Physics.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Carburetors and Pixies

You're correspondent well understands the importance of getting out and about a bit, it's good for the vehicle to venture beyond the end of the lane, it charges the battery, works the indicator lights, gives it a chance to get out of second gear and at the same time gives the a pipes an opportunity to take good deep breaths, clear out the carburetor, take a gander at other vehicles and there's a whole list of excellent reasons especially through the short days. Theoretically a trip is supposed to do me good, widens the horizons apparently.... the details of the theory are incredibly hazy.

For me the trip would have been uneventful, the Post Office was fine, Bank went smoothly, it was the Hardware Store that did it. On the way into the store I was deliberately attacked by a hyperactive blowup Snowman with a yellow beak, Jingle Bells was playing far too loudly on the speaker system and the Hardware Store's employees must have been fresh from a shot of rum and a "go get 'em" sermon about the importance of being jolly. I'd like to believe I'm one of the many people in the world who prefers surliness from anyone wearing a pixie hat through the long weeks of the Festive Season.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Obvious Answers

Toward the end of the 18th Century the British Army was engaged in the Spanish Peninsular supporting the Portuguese in attempting to keep the French from winning influence over the Spanish. The English King at that time was probably certifiably nuts, but let's just call him so highly eccentric his courtiers preferred to keep him entertained and safely shut away in one or other of his many palaces. One of his great pleasures was to summon a military man so that he could hear accounts of daring-do on a far away battle fields. As the story progressed he'd begin to believe that he himself had participated in the action, and by the time the story was over his exaggerations were such that to all the world he'd pretty much won the battle single handedly.

 At the same time the King was only too ready to offer his opinions on a wide range issues, and half baked though his opinions usually were courtiers soon learned not to take them too seriously. A suggestion such as the solution to forest fires was to rake up all the leaves in England would have been treated with the respect due a king, and as a rule by the time the practicalities were fully realized the King himself would have forgotten all about his first solution to the problem of for example forest fires and would have come up with another idea. In the 18th Century the English still struggled with the role of their king, a great many of them loved the idea of a no nonsense absolute monarchy but it was having something like a series of highly eccentric and potentially disastrous kings that helped secure the power of an elected Parliament.

Friday, November 16, 2018

 Difficult to diligently categorize the Silver Spoon Crowd. Certainly within their circle there's a wide range of "subsets" a word that can produce allergic reactions in those of us whose math education was so brutally interrupted by the New Math and still shudder a little at the sight of the name Venn. And at the same time it's possible to think that wealth however acquired exacerbates all attributes of personality, and there's one less savory attribute that does stick out like Whirling Dervish in the imagination of those of us who are still trying to maintain a level headedness in our course through daily life without searching for solace in the possibility of being around for the End of Days.

 There will be some who could still be constrained by political correctness and who might take exception to my use of the words Whirling Dervish, but here I am using Whirling Dervish as it's variously defined in the Urban Dictionaries, that repository of language that presents us with a tragic vision of our mindless future, and in no way do I refer to the proud Sufi Sect who like me were and might still be prone to interpretive dance in the practice of their devotions. And I'll paraphrase a collection of Urban Dictionary entries titled Whirling Dervish: ...behavior that resembles a rapid, spinning object.... often spastic fidgeting and incessant babbling..... irritating and annoying, often exhausting to other people.... "Nuff said." Is I believe the correct response.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ancestors, Komodo Lizards and Parrot Fish

Much rain, a little sleet, a little freezing rain, a little snow and some kind of bone chilling breeze that turns the nose red and dribbling. Nothing too terribly unfamiliar but a horrible reminder of why it is our species should never have left the tropics. Me, I've no intention of of even attempting to do anything useful outside until at least March of next year. Which does mean the possibility of a physical atrophy that could well interfere with this aging gardener's capacities to maintain a relationship with his shovel so he can turn  beds, broadcast compost and all those increasingly unpleasant physical activities necessary for a successful growing season.

 Last couple of winters, to keep atrophy at bay, after the daily now cast I've engaged in almost ten generous minutes of interpretive dance on the front porch almost every morning, it's the north side of the domicile, has splendid views of leafless vine drenched trees, ghostly in the morning light and there's absolutely no shortage of fresh air out there. So much so in fact that when engrossed a dancer soon forgets the possibility of distant neighbors with high power binoculars having a little chuckle and marking me down for deportation. This year the primary motivation while bending the mind to the morning entertainment will engage the errors of ancestors, the Komodo Lizard and Parrot Fish, all of them creatures of the equatorial regions. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Napoleon of N Scale

With respect to an appetite for rampant Imperialism your N Scale Hobbyist is big time guilty. There's no amount of well reasoned propaganda that will convince him otherwise. Fortunately for the rest of world alterations to the structure of the room in which his N Scale dwells in an attempt to widen curves for the Karoo Class are out of the question at this time of the year, far too cold and there's the large problem of a massive Wasp Nest in the roof which could well result in entirely unfair Cossack type defensive actions on their part.

Besides the whole thing could quickly devolve into a horrible unrest from outraged domestic pets and their primary caregiver. Classically when Napoleon was first sent into exile on the small Island of Elba he badly aggravated the 12,000 residents throughout the course of his 300 day visit by messing with their incredibly unfair social structure by endeavoring to drag them out of the Medieval Period and making them build roads so that he could parade his bodyguard around. Tourism officials insist he did a lot for the Island, my own current instincts suggest the Islanders were delighted to be rid of him.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lest We Forget

The acronym MAIN should never be allowed to get boring. The M is militarism, and if you want to argue about what militarism means my contribution is, "When the leaders of a nation chose to maintain and use military might as a primary expression of national will." The A is for alliances which can be thought of as an agreement between nations to mutually support each other. The I is for imperialism, which is about extending a nations power through diplomatic and military means so as to take over and dominate poorer or weaker nations. The N is for nationalism which basically is a root belief that one nation is better than any another nation. "The English, the English, the English are best, I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest." Substitute your ethnicity as defined by your primary language, color of your skin or whatever and unless you are a nationalist you get the eegit nature of the concept.

Prior to the First World War all the elements of the acronym were thought of as virtues to be nurtured and prized. It wasn't until the end of the Second World War that doubt was expressed, and given the damage, the cost and the intensities of the folly of two world wars some minds did all they could to promote the idea that this collection of MAIN virtues might not be all they were cracked up to be. Alliances certainly, a strong military why not. In 1945 it was the Imperialism and Nationalist part that stuck out like two rabid Wolverines, and they concluded we'd all be much better off if we could achieve mechanisms and structures that nurtured less visceral more cooperative virtues. Either way on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an American Soldier of German descent by the name of Henry Gunther was killed in action one minute before 11am. He was 23 years old when he died, and best to remember him.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Stories

"We don't need to know the way home, all we want is life beyond the Thunderdome." Some of us can get tired of the emotional attachment some grant super stars and saviors. And no doubt while many might remember Tina Turner, a voice so warm with passion it could drill through rocks, few will recall Lyle and Britten who wrote the song. "All the children say, we don't need another hero." The song goes on, "living under the fear until nothing else remains." A dystopian story where the daily game was to give it your all or just give up, and money to be made at the box office. You gave it your all, the song suggests, because one day it could be better or at least different. "Mmm, love and compassion their day is coming." The "Mmm" part sounds like considerable doubt, but I always believe Tina Turner, she could tell me the earth is flat, and I'd answer, "Yes! Of course it is."

Meanwhile there's Little Red Riding Hood rescued by the brave Woodsman. Then there's the story of two weavers who promised their king a new suit of clothes that would be invisible to those unfit, too stupid or too incompetent for their position in court. And there's the story of King Canute whose courtiers suggested he was so powerful he could hold back the tide. Might have been an attempt to cheer the old man up, but he called them on it. Had himself carried down to the beach, his crown, his thrown and all. Thing is, iterations of so many stories go back perhaps to the dawn of language. A version of Little Red Riding Hood was first recorded in the 10th Century. Group Think has been ripe for scandalous con artists, as wells as nefarious weavers since Aesop's Fables. And the Canute story, who knows, but he was a both humble and powerful man, buried in Shaftsbury, Dorset. Call it the Eve of Remembrance Day.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Better Angels

"What is a better angel?" Very difficult to tell, might not even be such a thing, but possibly it depends upon who you think you are. It could be argued that better angels are defined by those who hold political power, or who are granted political power, or take political power, or inherit political power, or find it under a rock somewhere.

  I could go on about how Constantine's deathbed baptism made a mockery of his Treaty of Milan. The result was the theft by the powerful of an idea that gave succor to the poor, the hungry and the disadvantaged. But one things for sure, it's difficult to conceive of a better angel chanting "USA, USA, USA" while beating up on Black People in Tennessee.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Signs and Symptoms

You can get dogmatic when it feels like Limbo. Tie yourself into knots, become like a rabid creature, then you realize the vitally important point you were trying to make was an error. But it's all too late, so you got to start looking around for reasons however mindless to preserve your sense of Pride. Or you can just say "I was wrong, I behaved like a ...." whatever you can manage this side of Blasphemy. And it's securing the distinction between real and unreal that remains critical to what's loosely referred to as progress, or a more harmonious and cheerful discordance. There are facts, but there are also deceits. In the end the difference is motive, what you're trying to prove and more important why. Too proud to admit a mistake, too dumb to, or the always forgivable honest search for enlightenment...

There used to be a Cardinal Sin that was given the name Vainglory. A lovely word, but which as a result of a desire by the holy fathers to simplify the growing number of Cardinal Sins by getting rid of the more obviously appalling examples of truly nasty behavior, Pope Gregory melded Vainglory into Pride. Vainglory is like the very top end of Pride, the gold standard if you will, it's the "I only bathe in Donkey Milk" level. The level is such that no one in their right mind would take the behavior as anything other than highly suspect, unless they saw something they wanted from the behavior and have become seducers and panderers which by Dante's reckoning put's them right down there in the eighth circle of hell where the seducers and panderers take their turn to get poked with sticks for eternity. The lowest circle, the ninth circle, nine is a four and a five, is would you believe, treachery. Oh what a tangled web....

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Milk and Honey

The wreckers have moved in, a whole new schematic for the North End of N Scale and without beating about a rotting fish head enthusiasm is super high. It all happened around two o'clock this morning. I was washing down a teaspoon of honey with a little milk and the Girl Cat, who is always great deal more curious in the hours of darkness, stared up at me and maybe one of us might be a little sleep deprived but I heard her say "why not?"  It's also true that her advice wasn't so much vocalized as it was sublimely  communicated and possibly it was directed more at that new wave of thinking that insists milk is bad for Cats than it was at her secondary caregiver's ludicrous preoccupations most of which are really not worth sharing with anything other than something like a Tortoise.

 I think it was Bertrand Russell in an essay titled Mysticism and Logic concluded that some areas of the mind will make leaps into territories that really can't be subjected to logical analysis and while a great majority of these leaps should be totally ignored some leaps have proved remarkably accurate. It might well be the case that while I have been considering the tenets of the Anarchists as a solution to the problem of wide curves, I think my reluctance to just go ahead and start ripping things up, had something to do with basic idleness. I wanted something straightforward that didn't require the constant presence of an active vacuum cleaner. In Russell's essay, if I remember, he reckoned the leap deemed mystical by some was usually sparked by an interaction with something else and just because you couldn't place the something else didn't mean it was a gift from an invisible or unworldly plane. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ladybird Roosting

 Ladybird roosting season is upon us. They're pottering around, staring at this and that, climbing, consulting the genetic memory, drawing maps for those in their number who may have feasted too well and in the process retired the odd brain cell. When I give thought to that map it plots a number of the more traditional routes to the room where as the year changes I increasingly spend the majority of my time. They're all welcome, just a few rules. Don't get all excited around light bulbs at night, it's un-neighborly, stay away from the keyboard, keep out of the clothing and for goodness sake stay away from the glue pot, it's a slow, horrible and grizzly way to end a worldly sojourn.

If my own memory contains any accuracy, I recall that last winter I kept fresh water in one of those shallow plastic tops from a commercial edible on the work table. The theory being that a Ladybird was drawn to the glue pot in a search for a little liquid refreshment. Vaguely remember it wasn't very successful. The Kitten's winter habit of leaping onto the work surface in the middle of night resulted in several unfortunate spills and some alarm. Nothing she finds more maddening than a wet paw, it upsets her and she can react poorly which in turn can lead to rather precious and sometimes sharply pointed supplies being knocked onto the floor.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Herky-Jerky or Whatever

One description of an Ovenbird describes it as "walking with a herky-jerky wandering stroll." Not sure what that is. So basically it's the insidious Beast of the Forest that is nationalism, the rather pointless yet pleasantly absorbing frustration of wide curves for a Karoo class locomotive, or Ovenbirds. If you're interested the Ovenbird earns it's name from its nest, which some might insist looks like a Dutch Oven. The nest is woven with a top part, the entrance is covered with leaves to hide eggs, no resemblance in the least to a Dutch Oven. My own view, the description of the Ovenbird's walk are the words of a loving and dear heart. The bird's name, on the other hand is very far from apt.

The French language titles the Ovenbird as the Crowned Warbler. When it comes to English titles for Warblers, there are a great many different kinds of Crowned Warblers, Grey Crowned, Orange Crowned, Golden Crowned and it goes on and on. At the same time Warblers are both difficult to catch a good glimpse of and once glimpsed usually harder to tell apart. The Spanish gives an Ovenbird the title Hornet Warbler, and here I'm afraid with its wide little shiny black eyes, a delightfully speckled breast, a chipper and kind of reclusive attitude it's very difficult to think of an Ovenbird as Hornet anything. Not to labor the point, but if it sounds a little like a House Wren, if it has a herky-jerky wandering stroll, whether it lowers the flag to half mast or not, it's an Ovenbird.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Arches

One thing about sleepless nights is they provide a 'to hell with it' level of exhaustion. It's also true that in the grand scheme an obsession with wide curves for a Karoo Class locomotive with working headlamp might not be worthy of a sleepless night. On the other side why not get up in the early morning hours to make absolutely certain that an arch of one inch and five eighths above the rail bed is sufficient to permit a Karoo Class locomotive and it's train of carriages comfortable passage. The worthless answer, "It depends on how you measure the rail bed." Counting the number of arches  also required tip-toeing into N Scales domain, not so much once, maybe four or five times. The bleary eyed upshot was probably used by the builders of the very first pyramid, "we'll approach this organically, bit by bit, and keep it to yourself but who this side of Pharaoh's end time actually knows."

Mervyn Peake, author of Gormenghast and an illustrator who died in 1968 of dementia at the age of 57 had a capacity to describe a structure of Gothic decay, it was so huge a rambling castle that no one person knew it all, each obsessed with his or her own little part of it. The stories had a tone that reveled in the formal intricacies of procedures and behavior and how easily each one of them was so quickly manipulated by the usurper, one who seizes for use with no care for the structure itself. Peake had been a soldier in World War II and had probably noticed how easily the formalities can lose their hold on an ambitious scoundrel. Very tempted to go with Gormenghast as a guiding light for the future of the North End of N Scale and when it comes to the matter of keeping the railway lines clean enough for the smooth electric contact that enables trains to actually move around I'm just going to have to be flexible. Not at all easy for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

N Scale

N Scale has mushroomed in this season of often unpleasant changes. The alternatives are wet leaf raking, denigrating one end of the Political Class for it's spineless and idiot shortsightedness, staring at a random brick wall, and there's always heavy drinking or Bob Dylan songs. Trouble is recent considerations of N Scale have resulted in some fairly dramatic ideas some of which will require high degrees of destruction, an incredibly dusty, noisy mess which will distress the domestic pets, a new beginning if you will, in short the sort of thing anarchists dream of. More of a collectivist myself which unfortunately means compromise. One solution is something like a cityscape for those territories to the north of the rural stagnation and pettiness that is Saint Barbara and in that cityscape it might be possible to finally forge a new rail line that'll somehow or other incorporate the wide curves so necessary for the kind of substantial rolling stock a Karoo Class Locomotive with working headlamp rightly deserves.

One of the problems with this truly brilliant idea is the Kitten. She does have a fascination for N Scale, and there's no way her secondary caregiver can close the door to the N Scale domain. Any attempt to do so results in nothing like polite acceptance from her. And, without casting blame, I do suspect the invisible specter that will on occasion run rough shod through N Scale when no one is looking, the result of a tornado the destruction can appear, might have four legs and a capacity to purr. A cityscape, and this is a well known fact, is prime for untoward behaviors whether they be natural phenomena or unnatural. Solutions include improved building codes, none of this flimsy balsa wood, nothing but granite and steel, hardened bunkers for rolling stock and locomotives, and for good measure an electric fence along with the services of a reliable exorcist who has a well documented record of success. Either way 'that long black train is coming down, feel like knock, knock, knocking on heavens door,' so might as well 'hang around the ink well.'

Friday, October 26, 2018

Remember, Remember

There must be something in the psychology departments deep in the fever swamps that could cast light on the proclivity of some to go right ahead and blame the victim. Guilty of it myself, when something like a hurricane hits somewhere like Florida. A jumble deep inside us some might claim, possibly along the lines of that feeble excuse "It must be hardwired into us, we just can't help ourselves." The more eccentric of us might hold the view that those prone to blaming the victim like nothing better than to define themselves as victims and by so doing find reasons for their own disgraceful lack of anything like the couth that's been developed over the generations to inhibit those passions that result in Baboon or possibly Muskrat type behaviors. I think it was Max Weber who after a lifetime of attempting to unearth rationality in our species just gave up, shrugged his shoulders and suggested that we people do not succumb to rational analysis. Weber died in Munich in 1920, he was one of the founding father's of sociology, and possibly the most boring person who ever lived, right up there with the School of American Functionalists whose lack of imagination defies description in its absolute dedication to the destruction of all hope that resulted in Management Studies, or How to Maintain Servitude as it's been called.

 Those who might have spent time with sociology may have preferred to come away with the idea that the movements and habits of social groups are best understood through those practices observed within the disciplines of weather forecasting. It's basically about the hard work of accurately measuring thousands and thousands of patterns. A little flutter in this pattern, a growl of two in that pattern and soon enough there's a prediction for straight line winds flattening buildings in Kansas. It's the sort of rough and tumble that challenges the bold. It's also true that when theory falls the other side of a growl and the wrong side of a flutter forecasting of any kind can become very tricky business indeed. But necessary in understanding is to maintain as accurate a grasp of ourselves as we possible can, certainly there'll be a thousand often lazy fictions, such as individualism and freedom, within that understanding and many errors but when you know it's a fiction and find reasons to nonetheless persist, it becomes kind of a desperately unstable and depressing pattern, and here we're talking 98.5% chance of the wind flattened buildings in Kansas being swallowed by ground splitting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. So we've all got that to look forward to on November 6th of this year. Which is the day after Guy Fawkes day, a man whose cultural disagreements were such he joined a plot to blow up the English Parliament, he was hanged on the last day of January 1606.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Patron Saint of Thieves

The Patron Saint of Thieves. It was back in the 1930's, not that long ago, the means of production had again fallen foul of ebullient stock markets, the bubble had burst and the great minds were saying stuff like "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." A truth so dear it can break the heart. But I guess it was the Devil who had other ideas. It was poets who took on the scent of fear, described it as a yearning for violence, the dream of an ultimate conclusion, an end to all problems. "Gosh!" I hear the plaintive call. "I thought Saint Nicholas was the Patron Saint of Repentant Thieves." Not so in Sartre's 1952 essay in which he anointed the writer and poet Jean Genet as the Patron Saint of Thieves, not of repentant thieves, but of thieves and why not.

Genet's Journal of a Thief, as Sartre read the account of one man's experiences the 1930's, described how an act of thievery pretty much required a preparation worthy of any monk in pursuit of a higher calling. The reward, a silk handkerchief for the thief, was followed by the adulation of his peers, and in the meanwhile the victim left desolate, abused, frightened and probably angry, vengeful. In the tale it was Jean's lot to fall in love with the most violent of thieves, his love seemed to have less thought for the consequence of failure which for Jean was the threat of years in a crowded Napoleonic dungeon with nothing to write on except toilet paper. But the soul of a person, the possibility for redemption, is what a person is prepared not to do for a silk handkerchief. Sartre of course was engaged in exploring the entrails of authentic, and at least for some Genet's book had put a bit of a hole in Sartre's thesis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mobs and Stuff

Fairly safe to say that a mob doesn't exist on it's own rather it's created by the observer.  And although it's a total pain in the neck, the word mob does indeed come from the Latin, Mobile Vulgus. Could be a description of a cell phone user in a dentists waiting room, but the mobile part means excitable, and sadly, vulgus is what the Romans meant when they referenced the unwashed crowd. For my part as an observer, I'm prepared to argue that some excitable crowds are far less vulgar than other excitable crowds, and still other excitable crowds are very clearly deranged, on the edge of running rampart and ultimately destroying the world as we know it, but that's just me. It's also true that when in a mob a person begins to lose their inhibitions as they imbibe in what is effectively a wonderful sense of freedom, a moment to express, let loose and experience joyousness, shout stuff that makes no sense, do stuff they might regret. And worth recalling psychologists spend far too much of their time discouraging inhibitions.

No shortage of examples through history of Mobs Gone Wild. And I hate to again raise the subject of the First Saint Timothy, but his martyrdom and ascension to the Host of Saints might well have been a result of a mob gone wild. One of the stranger examples of a mob was here in the USA. For some reason a whole bunch of college student, probably future opticians and accountants briefly engaged in Liberal Studies, descended on a small town in rural Midwest fully intending to enjoy a weekend of music and other pop festival type entertainments before growing up and joining middle management in a corporate enterprise. It was a place called Zap in North Dakota, the year 1969. Trouble was the town ran out of beer, everyone got a little out of hand, the town was destroyed and the Governor of North Dakota sent in the National Guard. The other thing about Mobile Vulgus it's alive and well on the internet, there's no National Guard and some of us might think we're in the process of inhibiting the fun parts of it.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Bricolage

Bricolage is a wonderfully expressive word. It could mean anything from a gasp of wonder, through crackpot to a fully fledged oath. It's a French word. It has two meanings. Le Bricolage means Do It Yourself. There are Bricolage stores all over the place, hammers, nails, planks of wood. yours for the asking price. Bricolage also means makeshift, to cobble together in a most unprofessional manner. When struggling with the recent uses of the English word tribal, the duality in the meaning of French word Bricolage is sometimes useful. It's in the eye of the beholder sort of thing. For some, Do It Yourself is a source of great satisfaction even if the shed does blow over in the first stiff breeze causing the toddler sheltering inside to be rushed to the emergency room.

There are some who might suggest that tribal is primitive and they'll use the word in pejorative way. They'll argue, for example, that current events are a fine example of a retreat into naked tribalism. However tribes are about territory and more traditionally about who holds sway over an area of land. Less traditionally perhaps, tribes are about who holds sway over political power. There's nothing wrong with moaning, but when a person moans about partisanship in politics, it begins to sound more like a professional carpenter grumbling about hardware stores catering to the unskilled than it is about a yearning to advance the cause of civilization, or whatever you want to call an endless endeavor to define a useful future. Either way, Bricolage pretty much sums us all up at the moment.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

October Freeze

When your gardener finally made it to the downstairs this morning temperatures were hovering around the freezing point in a manner he can only describe as blatantly flirtatious. In my own mind I realized a dilemma, a part of it wanted to get the entire thing over with and just for goodness sake freeze, bring on the Shivering Naraka and get the thing done. Another part of my mind struggled with the awesome possibility of it not freezing, let the year linger it argued, Monarchs are still around, a potted Cherry Tomato has yet to be confined to the fires of hell and everyone knows the slow, horrible, agonizing death a freeze offers a Moon Flower Vine. Well, all I can say is so much for a Loving God, gentle, meek and mild. More like a bad tempered, vengeful old narcissist with smelly feet and a drinking problem. But I will say this for him, he understands propaganda.

Years ago, on the North American Continent, back when there was a Frog in the Moon instead of a Man made of cheese, there was a tale for us children. Consider the Sandhill Crane that come to our lake in the Spring and depart in the Autumn. One year, a younger Crane heard the older Cranes discussing the changes in the weather, they'd sniff the air, look wise and he heard them all agreeing that soon now they'd have to fly south before it got cold. The younger Crane, an independent and free spirit, thought this nonsense, he had no intention of going anywhere, there was nothing wrong with the lake and the idea of flying for thousands of miles struck him as being absurd, a long way from anything like a so called exciting adventure. "I don't care! I'm staying!" Soon he was alone, cold, frost and his lake froze. An ugly realization for him, but the thing is, without the others of his clan, he didn't know how to fly south.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mole Hero

Asclepius, the rumor goes, was the offspring of a God and a mortal, which made him a demi-god. His mother was ashamed of her son's illegitimacy and chose to abandon him. Apparently the boy child might have been raised by a Goat and a Dog. Zeus was nursed by a Goat, and it was a Dog who guarded the entrance to Hades to stop dead people from leaving. Back in the 1940's a scholar of language concluded that the etymology of Asclepius could be found in the early Greek for Mole Hero. A bold move on the scholar's part and I can understand anyone who might have a bit of an obsession with Moles, but for many a modern mind, despite the supernatural origins of medicine, it was tad on the weird side to give the father of the Snake entwined staff still used to represent the medical profession the title Mole Hero.

Then some time in the 1970's and 1980's someone pointed out that it was entirely possible that finding the origin of the name Asclepius in the very early Greek for Mole Hero was possibly an act of intense wishful thinking. The error, pedants went on. was to assume that the early Greeks in their written language had settled on a winning formula for giving a letter to a wide range of all consonants. So the whole Mole Hero thing had resulted from ancient spelling mistakes. Not to mention the eccentricity implicit in associating the name Mole Hero with a  demi-god who'd fathered the Goddess of Hygiene and the Goddess of Recuperation from Illness. Either way you can think of Asclepius as meaning Well Being if it makes you feel better. I'm sticking with Mole Hero.

Friday, October 19, 2018

As I Suspected, Watson

"Well, well, well!" In the days of black and white TV the phrase was used at least once a week when DCI Barlow of the Newton Constabulary collared a miscreant in a malicious act of wanton malfeasance. The villain, a lovely word that comes from the old French for 'rustic,' would shrug, he'd say something like "it's a fair cop, Governor" and he'd be off to do his time in porridge without for one second considering changing his lifestyle. No one expected him to, there was no social warrior lurking in the wings or evangelist hunting down hearts and minds, why mess with anyone's choice of career or complicate the plot.

I guess it must have been color TV that introduced nuance. Some villains knew they were doing wrong and rather than admit to it would insist upon their innocence, an additional complexity that meant stuff like forensic evidence, finger prints, lab coats, cyber security experts and stuff. In the process Villains became downright biblically evil. More recently of course the whole business of right and wrong has hit some kind of wall as our species increasingly grapples with purpose in a world that's changing far too quickly for most of us. And yet "Well, well, well" still has value, there's something "Go figure" comforting about it, much better than the accusations contained in the anti-democratic "I told you so."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Who to Blame

A long way from catching up with the year, next couple of weeks if the weather holds resignation might be better settled for the ordeal of the shorter days. More than likely previous years have been exactly the same which has never stopped a gardener from casting around for something to blame for what is in effect his idleness. Naturally he who shall not be mentioned and his misogynistic spineless coterie that now passes for a major political party is right up there at the top of the long list of idleness producing phenomenon, it's a very close second to lunch.

Both are fundamentally depressing, soul destroying and both seem to be ever present in the dwindling years. I nearly missed lunch today, I realized it was noon, and my purer instinct was to go without lunch, briefly I felt free as the air, liberated, and then around 1.30 I found myself struggling with a collection of randomly sparking brain cells, a most disorienting experience and most likely symptomatic of a dementia that will require me to any day now hang a label around my neck, name, address, purpose of existence since date of birth. One things for absolutely certain I will not be voting for anyone over the age forty five.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Vote

Bolsheviks were not the only political interest group seeking advantage during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The general opinion, or at least it's mine, suggests that Bolsheviks were the better disciplined around the idea of absolute and total control. Inevitably this reduced anything like an overview of the range of possibilities confronting the revolutionaries, and one of the results of this narrowing of vision was an increasing dependence by the Bolsheviks on those organs of state that make life easier by arresting, locking up or simply doing away with the more wishy-washy and squeamish. A power hungry character like Stalin was pretty much an inevitable consequence, an opportunity for him to industrialize Siberia using slave labor.

Yes indeed, the independence of and interactions between a society's institutions, such as practicing voting, remain a fundamental of liberal democracies where the shining light has always been to keep the wolves from dragging the sheep into that cage which guarantees bloodshed. Those of us who might not know this or believe in the magic of ideal or a constitution stand on a cliff almost yearning to jump into the abyss of the limbic system where there is more solace in fighting each other than reasoning with each other. It's a, shall we call it primitive rather than constructive, reaction to uncertainty. Worth remembering that one of the many juices produced by an anxious adrenal gland is the hormone testosterone, too much of which despite rumors to the contrary can render both males and females infertile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Raw in Tooth and Claw

Sometime in the 1970's a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in a rousing speech at the annual conference claimed that his party was the "natural party of government." He went on a bit about the relationship between the mechanics of wealth creation and he claimed that his party was the vehicle by which an equitable sharing of that created wealth could be achieved without miring the industries of wealth creation in inefficiencies and pointless quarrels.  "Yawn" I hear the cry. But in the 1970's most UK political leaders had come of age in the Great Depression of the 1930's, their thinking much influenced by the Second World War and its aftermath. Experiences which I'd argue promoted an empathy for the lot of the multitude born of actual experience of hardship rather than high flown theory from the well subsidized fever swamps of the political  and economic sciences. As a youth my own reaction to the speech dwelled mightily on the incredibly ugly idea of a natural party of government. It sounded like a desperate attempt to avoid the onerous task of explaining the ugly details.

At the same time in the City of Cardiff, as I walked to the night shift at a burger joint down town, I could see suspicious devices hanging from the odd lamp post. I was informed the purpose of these devices was to sniff the atmosphere, quantify the particulates, and this way science deduced an unhealthy surfeit of lead in the air, the cause of which was city traffic. Some years later, employed by a Petrol Station to pump the gas, management was all in the air and angry, livid at the prospects of unleaded petrol, an unwarranted intrusion on their business model and yet another example of government incompetence placing burdens upon wealth creators. Back then of course a Prime Minister of the natural party of government could with a straight face say "popularity isn't everything, it isn't the most important thing, the important thing is doing what you believe to be right." Not sure what's happened to the explorations of science over the years, I suspect a wealth creator's concept of wealth has something to do with which of those explorations in science are popular, but I still hold the idea that there is no natural party of government.

Monday, October 15, 2018

North Wind

Pouring with rain, it's a warm rain and soon enough winds will embrace the north which means clearing sky and Patchy Frost followed by possible Widespread Morning Frost, soon there'll be the inevitable freeze, Woolly Bears in the outdoor boots, wet snow, mud and damp, bored cats, the list is long and awful. But it does give a person his opportunity to prepare for the ennui that amongst us normal people lingers for a good six months by offering us a chance to ponder meaning which these days generally results in a preoccupation with an epitaph that might sum up a person's passage through the world, his trials, his tribulations, his coping mechanisms without any of this fake news sugar coating that's currently all the rage.

 "Forbidden a ziggurat he died in vain." Some might think this sounds a little on the depressing side and if they do it means they are wedded to a set of extraordinarily bouncy ideas, cuddly toys and Christmas Jingles. Either way, an alternative epitaph of "Change is Good" falls way short of comforting, far too social media chirpy and the last thing the world needs is a patently wise-ass corpse anywhere messing with the ambience of the end time. I know this from bitter experience, there's a restless and most aggravating being in the barn who as soon as I've found the good hammer will insist on causing the can of nails to totally vanish for weeks on end.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Political Rallies

During a time of uncertainty for his party, Goebbels assured the faithful at one of the big rallies that "if we take the streets we take the state." Suspect it's like that now. Those rallies of the 1920's and 30's had a lot in common with the pomp and ceremony associated with the more authoritarian religious movements. You can kind of see it at something like Easter when the Pope appears on the balcony and everyone goes crazy then when it's down to the communion there's the dressing up, the big hats are donned and the faithful become zombie like in their obedience. No doubt about it there's enthusiasm around a sense of belonging, and at the same time there's a sort of chill that silences dissent. It's a wave and those who aren't surfing don't belong.

A journalist called William Shirer was a witness to an early Nuremberg Rally, he described a moment on the evening before the big event. He was wandering the streets, trying to find his way around, and he found himself in a throng of ten thousand people chanting outside a hotel room. When the great leader appeared the crowd joined in a messianic ecstasy which from Shirer's description might remind the television generation of teenagers greeting a Beatle at an airport. The more recent iteration of a Nuremberg Rally is probably better likened unto a sporting event, something like professional wrestling, an outrageous entertainment for a crowd. As Goebbels suggested, "intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character," which is another way of saying thinking's bad.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

I Sing of Launderers

Dividere et Empera. It's Latin, the most aggravating language our species has ever written, but for some reason it does give provenance to the highfalutin. Most Romans spoke what's called Vulgar Latin, a freewheeling expression of their more rambling thoughts and communications. What's called Classical Latin was mainly used by scholars to precisely record their important ideas for posterity and by administrators to issue death sentences, written instructions, or whatever. People know this today, because the early Roman Playwrights wrote down the words for their talking characters in Vulgar Latin and there's a lot of Roman graffiti scattered around the Mediterranean, most of it ridden with grammatical errors, appalling spelling and some of it is just about incomprehensible.  One beautiful as opposed to vulgar example was on shop door post, "I sing of cloth launderers and an Owl, not of arms and men." I guess the context was the goddess of hardworking launderers, but it makes huge sense to me as a fairly good rule to judge most things and most people by.

The point is Divide and Rule long predates the Romans, the tyrannically minded have been at it since the first garden spade was shoved into the ground by a bright eyed innocent gardener who was hell bent on getting out of the hunter gatherer business and as an unexpected consequence enabled our species to produce a surplus, much of which went to supporting a political class. Over the years there have been rare flashes of brilliance when minds conjoin around the idea of a set of rules in which power thrashes out solutions to the inevitable problems confronting the multitudes surplus has enabled. Generally the consequence of obedience to those rules has resulted in a productive harmony, but invariably productive harmony itself leads to crisis. An unhappy thought indeed. You can blame narcissistic megalomania, avarice, greed, demanding more from the world than you could ever need, call it whatever you want, but far from being ordained in someway, we, like the Dinosaur, remain a species, ever changing or extinct. On a more positive note, worth recalling the little known Latin phrase, "well disciplined like a corpse."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Blind Panic

An experienced resident of a domicile knows fairly quickly when one or other of the domestic pets has introduced an outsider to the wonders, stresses and excitements of indoor living. Between naps and visits to the food bowl, there's a lot of padding around sniffing at stuff, peering under armchairs, unnatural bursts of sudden activity that have no apparent cause and there's a range of snarky attitudes which suggest that something's not quite right with the smooth running of a well ordered functioning household and that someone has to be blamed, at a minimum dismissed from service.

The novice will of course suspect that it might be time for a visit to the vet, enquire about his pets mental health, discuss sedatives and finally coming home with something like a bill for a worm tablet. Another novice error is to blame the clump of grass in the living room on a significant other, and accuse him or her of thoughtlessly sneaking around the dwelling while wearing their outdoor boots. Then for the novice there's the terrifying experience of seeing a young Shrew pottering across the kitchen floor. It looks very much bigger and a great deal more dangerous than it actually is. I'm told it's the mind reacting to what's called blind panic.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Land of Flowers

Difficult to avoid the history of Florida. You hear the quote, "because the Spanish gave the area the name Land of Flowers." Think of the ludicrous Viking name Greenland, I guess. Unfortunately, letters home from the early US garrisons stationed in the territory during the Second Seminole War described a land that was basically a hell hole of insects, heat and disease ridden swamps. In time the indigenous Seminole, and the slaves who'd escaped the more northern plantations or Black Seminoles as they were called. were defeated. Seminoles who survived were relocated East of the Mississippi, Black Seminoles sent back to slavery. By the 1860's the population of Florida was 140,000, 44% of them were slaves working the cotton fields in Northern Florida. Following the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction was particularly unpleasant, freed slaves fled intolerance to places like Michigan to look for work in manufacture. A time that's still called the Great Migration. A reach for freedom the music of which still influences much of our less reactionary world.

Generally Florida was a kingdom of horribleness run by the agricultural interests dominated by the old time Democrats until the 1920's when there was a land boom, money poured in and it all came to a screaming halt  in the 1930's.  And nothing much happen until the military build up of the Second World War. But if you're looking for blame, blame the railway line to Palm Beach which before the air liner gave the wealthy from the North a wintering phase, and then in the 1950's and 1960's there was air conditioning. Today around 21 million people live in Florida, 20% are over 65, the US average for over 65 is 14%, so they're not all as old as you think. If you've ever been there the high point is Britton Hill, 345 feet above sea level, it's up in the panhandle, otherwise Florida is mostly flat, dull as Kansas but with no shortage of flood zones and everyone talks about beaches and paradise. Me, I'm not a big fan of the state, and if you're interested, Plato had much to say about how "beginnings" kind of determine "ends."

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Qualities

Some of us have been a tad delinquent toward their collection of iron disciplines geared to mental balance, order and calm, which could well be why some of us amble into the morning with the sure sense that our head is about to explode. Not the first time, might not be the last time, and I have found that one route out of this limbo is to tidy the room where I spend far too many hours of my day. A room which, as it currently appears, might give the casual observer the distinct impression that your correspondent struggles with what might be politely called the compulsive disorder of hoarding, and which a grandmother might still refer to as an appalling case of bone idle boy-child slovenliness. A wonderful word with its origins in the Flemish for dirty, careless, neglectful and which I'd argue without any traditional evidence probably joined the perversities of the English language following the challenges to the Anglo-Saxon lifestyle that resulted from the Norman invasion of the English part of the British Isles toward the end of the eleventh century, an event that figures up there as a tragedy on a par with the defeat of Carthage by the cheating Romans at the Battle of Zama.

The argument against tidying up is the straightforward suggestion that after the deed is done a person can't find anything, and discovers himself dwelling upon the end time as he wastes valuable energy hunting down his pencil sharpener, last years birthday card, his socks and his important notes. The argument for tidying up is primarily devoted to offhand moments such as "what might others think when confronted by this kind of unhygienic chaos?" And there's always the more cheerful prospect of finding useful things that have been lost and forgotten since the last tidy up. More interesting perhaps, of those who struggle with obsessive compulsive disorders one in four males of our species attempt to conceal the disorder in bone idle slovenly hoarding behaviors. And worth recalling is the recent movement in idea around the word "slovern" which when used in the more youthful vernacular gives a description to boys suggesting behaviors that better resemble the looser loyalties found in an emerging presidential quality which when traditionally applied to girls would earn the title slut. Either way, it's been a long haul, a difficult ride along somewhat suspect paths, but there's absolutely no way I can accept the possibility of admitting to a presidential quality, so I'm pretty sure that any day now I'll be tidying my room.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bivalves

Recent events have served to confirm my argument that there is no ghost in the machine and what we people loosely refer to as thinking or awareness is no more and no less an instinctual activity than say something like a deciduous tree dropping leaves in the fall of the year, or Bivalve Mollusks inadvertently producing pearls.

Nor shall I be remotely magnanimous in my clear and obvious victory. There'll be fizzy drinks of some sort as I dance in the end zone yelling nah-nah-nah. Classically magnanimous comes from the Latin, "Magnus" for great and "Animus" for soul. Pretty idea in the confluence of the two words, probably best reserved for Primroses.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Conflict

Hegel died in 1831. He put idea, what happens in the brain, at the center of his understanding. The more analytical minded, the empriricists, embraced his description of the way in which ideas moved. One thought led to another, and when it hit a brick wall it had to take a step or two back before it could advance, very sensible. The other thing about Hegel that's often quoted goes something like: we learn from history that we don't learn anything from history. I guess too that with Hegel a whole series of strands in thinking set in place the sense that truth was something of a moving feast, a conversation which when reason is withheld comes to a screaming halt. Something like partisanship is reasonable, otherwise ideas do not move. But if partisanship becomes an end in itself, reason steps out the window for a cigarette break and what you got is pretty much the most recent iteration of western society as practiced by our political classes.

As I understand it, Hegel was in a place called Jena in Germany when Napoleon marched his army into the city. He was excited to see the great man, the world was changing, the ancient regime had been swept away, the chaos of the French Revolution was finally over, new and more just forms would soon be in place. Hegel called Napoleon a world soul. Then Napoleon crowned himself as Emperor, and many people like Hegel went off Napoleon, got depressed and started saying things like: people and governments have never learned anything from history, nor have they ever acted on principles deduced from it. It was in his later life, after Napoleon was gone from power, that Hegel settled in to writing his history of philosophy. He came up with stuff like: education is the art of making man ethical. And my own favorite from Hegel: a genuine tragedy is not the conflict between right and wrong, but a conflict between two rights. An off hand remark possibly, but in my view a symptom of a dry sense of humor.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Neurotics

I'd argue Freud's somewhat icky Oedipus Complex is essentially about a person's life long search for potency. By potency I mean being taken seriously, and as a result of being taken seriously feeling secure in the world. This idea's provenance is an adaptation of an adaptation of Freud's theory by a fellow with the fine name of Wilfred Bion. A whole bunch of reasons why someone might hang their hat on what they believe it is to be potent, and my idea of potency might be very different to your idea of potency, pretty certain it is. But when a person's idea of what it is to be potent is severely challenged a person gets aggravated, bent out of shape, angry, increasingly irrational and they find solace in neurotic behaviors. So my theory is a long way from wishy-washy paid by the hour stuff or blubbering protestations of innocence.

I use the word neurotic in the fullest and most wide ranging sense of its meaning, all the way from banjaxed lock them up crazy, through more than worrisome, to mildly eccentric, via a little entertaining. "I was rather hoping for something about cats or fall plantings, or maybe a moment or two with the Compost Piles!" So was I, but sadly your correspondent has been attempting to grasp the emotional mechanics of installing a new Supreme Court Justice and has come away with far too many questions and far too many doubts about his  own potency. On the positive side, there's always Gulliver's Travels, a wonderful journey through the absurdities, cruelties and joys that burden us people. It was a book written by the Irishman Jonathan Swift in 1726.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Plato

The idea of Philosopher Kings goes all the way back to the Ancients. Wouldn't it be nice, the argument went, if the powerful were decent, full hearted, wise people who did right by the population and weren't just out to fill their own cup with self and in the process find reasons for doing so. Plato spent a lifetime on the problem, and while some would disagree, he came away disappointed and he just sort of concluded that there were stages a society goes through, one of which included the emergence of populist tyrants and all societies kind of end up in a huge unfairness which leads to anger and chaos as we people revert to what Walking Stewart called Beasts of the Field.

I first got pissed off with Plato when I understood his attempt to ameliorate the problem of government was to introduce an educated elite, who essentially would be men of gold chosen at a young age for special schooling and then introduced into the top echelons of a society which would be a sort aristocracy. Briefly, very briefly and we're talking probably the last three or four hundred days, I thought maybe Plato had a point. However in the last three or four days I have learned far too much about Yale and George Town Prep School to ever again believe in the possibility of specially educating a special elite. One thing Plato did talk about, and it does seem to me that it's very valuable. He didn't think that you could really write about "what is the form of good," you could only really hold forth on the subject and give it proper consideration through a constant, real time verbal discussions. Then came Twitter, the Internet and Cable News.  So Plato-wise, we're totally doomed!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Current Events

A good chance the more sensitive and generous minded might be having an adverse reaction to an Equinox falling in imminent proximity to a Full Moon. It's an Ides of March for a nut eating mental patient whose keyboard is again losing its legibility. There are three words that sound like imminent. There's immanent, note the a, which means something like inherent, belonging to, without which the widget doesn't work and the world ends. And there's eminent, note the sneaking e, which sounds like propaganda reserved for a know it all nominee to high office, but which comes from the Latin for jutting out, or projecting and has for some reason come to mean important, respected, or up there with the illustrious. "The judge's eminence is imminence to power rather than anything remotely immanent." And there's a whole theory about the shape of a person's mouth, the distance between the eyes, length of the arms, shape of the head, location of ears, but best to avoid the hate mail.

Of our species half are girls. Apart from the magnificent daughters of Aries and Harmonia, who produced a possibly mythical Scythian people, Greek heroes couldn't be heroes unless they'd done battle against a Scythian Amazon Warrior, the great majority of cultures have pursued an understanding of the relationships between boys and girls that reduces the female side of our being to a class of chattel just above Donkey. The question is why? One argument revolves around power relationships. Kind of like boys belong to a union, and the inclusion of girls risks the cohesion of that union which could precipitate the failure of that union and for boys the result would be a loss of eminence, authority and having to do things like washing up and vacuuming. The same argument is used to explain stuff like why don't white people get along with brown people or black people or immigrants with funny accents, and vica versa which is Latin for vice versa. The issue here is the extent to which dominance of a group is immanent to our being and if so are we doomed or can it change. It's Sunday, it's the 21st Century, stop being a sissy, risk hellfire, start with the original fake news, Genesis and Apples.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Why Not

When you're looking for a thingy to keep the top spinning bit from flying off "Frequently Asked Questions" are worse than useless. They serve primarily to remind an anxious repair person how many other things might fail, or blow up or get eaten by mice. I blame Adam Smith for introducing the term widget to public discourse. It's been down hill ever since and no wonder that any day now no one will know anything about anything. The point is the part I am looking for is probably churned out by the hundreds of thousands in somewhere like Ulan Bator, each one costing no more than around 25 cents, and yet you can't look for the part unless you know what it's called and you can't negotiate for the part unless you spend a good $10-15 plus shipping on the entire assembly. "Invisible Hand" my purple foot.

 At the same time worth recalling Dewi Sant and his "be sure to mind the little things." Given the current circumstances an interpretation of his adage might well be that because the big things in the wider world react horrendously with the more gentle psyche, much better to just get all worked up about the little, 25 cent things. Then of course you might hear from a fellow decrepit that he could remember feeding a family, dressing his children to Sunday School and filling his gas tank for 25 cents a week, and enjoying every minute of it. So where is the future? As a general rule, a healthy future, as long as it's not an Historian, laughs at the past. It slaps a knee and says things like "can you believe we used to do stuff like that."  An unhealthy future limps around on prosthetic limbs wishing it had never fallen off something like a ski-lift or a balcony in Cancun. In the end it's all about "Being" as the opposite of "Nothingness."  A pompous-ass way of saying "why not?" 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The I Problem

Very determined to wait until the last couple of days of this month. Otherwise it's little more than a feast to fatten Stinkbug and all who challenge patience as we all prepare for the short days. Probably means there'll be no actual crop of Turnip because chances are the year will avoid a warm, sunny fall and go directly to the Valhalla of winter projects, which gives the body five months to atrophy in plenty of time for March ailments, pulled muscles, broken backs and other such near death experiences. Oddly this time ten years ago I thought I had aged, but I am very confident that this year of 2018 I have indeed age.

And quite frankly I'm rather going off old people. There are far too many of us in charge of our destiny and all of us seem to labor under the illusion we are entirely indispensible. A short sightedness that puts the kybosh on any idea that old people are a depository of wisdom. Finally, on this humid and somehow depressing day I'd like to address the concept of legacy. I'd argue there's a preoccupation with legacy which dominates cultures that obsessively pursue the myth of individualism. It's a cost to our species. When the I and the Me becomes sacred it's a burden on a harmony that includes Stinkbugs. Maybe tomorrow I'll plant Turnips.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

36 BC

On pontificating Sunday always worth thanking the Almighty for the Gutter Press and bringing in the Romans. One of whom, an Historian called Titus Livy, made the suggestion that his people were so gone to the dogs they could no longer live with their sins nor could they live with the cure to their sins. During his time upon earth Roman Senators finally lost their Republic, their passionate dialogues, their dutifully elected Tribunes were all replaced by a series of often very ruthless and usually totally uncouth Emperors who claimed to be related to God or at least on God's guest list. Happy days for Rome were gone, replaced by smash and grab, endless hunts for personal glory, and here we're talking the early September of the year 36 BC, a sea battle that determined the end of an intermittent hundred year long civil war between the idea of a Roman Republic and the impulse toward Roman Tyranny. Depressing I know, it really sucks, and even back then there was money in politics.

My own advice to anyone who might be interested in Roman history is to start around 700BC, fun with wolves, the seven hills city, the ridiculous quarrel between Romulus and Remus. Then enjoy the process that slowly produced the Roman Republic until you come across the name Tiberius Gracchus, it's around 150BC. At that moment you stop your exploration and instead of troubling with the next 2100 odd years you go directly to around the September of 2016AD, where yet again we might begin to find an understanding of what Livy meant with his suggestion that his people could no longer live with their sins nor the cure to their sins. Mind you, not sure that Livy used the word sin, he probably used the word vice, which back then had more to do with things like greed, selfishness, dumb ignorance than anything to do with achieving some kind of pleasant or unpleasant endlessness after death. Nonetheless we remember Livy and we forget Gracchus at our peril.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Machines and Stuff

Ancient machine-wise the tally is two partial successes and one abject failure. The successes run around and rumble but they do so not as lithe young creatures more like terminally ill Gazelle waiting for the Lion and Hyena, which is analogous to my own course through daily life. I do rather envy the two partial successes their absence of the same ghosts that haunt me. They are stoicism personified which is probably why I find myself giving them an admiring pat when I am near them.

The abject failure has been subject to scavenging. Two very fine wheels, a perfectly good mowing deck and a couple of ornamental bits and bobs that just look very neat even if they'll never again belong to sweat, dust and sun. There's a thing called an Intake Valve which has all the qualities of something that can never by consigned to County Amnesty. A single cylinder engine has two of them. They're kind of like the valves of a heart which open and close as the engine runs, allowing fuel into the Cylinder Head and noxious gases out. They'd make fine earrings if you had sturdy ear lobes and a good long neck.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday

A most unsuccessful day, both hot and disorderly with two pointless trips to town!!! One of those days when your correspondent should've just gone back to bed and waited there until the following sunrise.  It's as well I don't have the nuclear codes, otherwise who knows what might have happened.

Yesterday was Thursday, I thought it was Wednesday. Today isn't Thursday it's Friday. Almost missed the Trash Collection, and basically it's been downhill ever since. And let's all hold the sauce a while, of course today could have been a lot worse. I could have drowned in the Pimlico Sound.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Natural Aversions

It's a long way from "Service Above Self" yet news of the East Coast hurricane immediately turned my own thoughts to grass raking and Compost Piles. Certainly I felt far from noble, mealy minded, a republican in waiting so to speak, but I have maintained an opinion that late season grass cuttings make good compost, and hurricanes are late season events. Trouble with the wretched month of September is a person can easily forget that winter is soon. In the morning he pops himself into his shorts, waddles downstairs wondering why it's hot as Hades and still dark.

 On the brighter side it's been a prolific year for Turkey. And here I mean the two legs and feathers kind, not the two legs and red tie kind. It's difficult to move around in the outdoors without upsetting a posse, and like the red tie kind the feathered kind do have that supercilious moment, a "let's not talk to him" minute or two before rapidly departing nose first into the air. Me, I wish they wouldn't treat me like a pariah. No reason we all can't go about our business, nod politely, instead of this fuss and bother. Mind you I do understand that my own species, is not held in high regard by Turkey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Left

"Two left" is very different to "There are two left." "Two left" could mean that two have up and left, or it could mean there are two remaining. And when it comes to moments of intense stress, such as Monarch Butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking to flight, it becomes critical to harmony that a messenger leaves no doubt in the mind of the message receiver. Otherwise confusion reigns and people get blamed.

It was Bertrand Russell, conscience objector, hero of the common man, he wasn't big on God or wedding vows and he was the author of the classic History of Western Philosophy, who briefly encouraged others to seek logic in language. It was later in his life that he came to a conclusion that language was basically without logic so better to pursue an understanding of Precision in Language. Henceforth when around creatures and things that may or may not have left I will endeavor to remember Bertrand Russell.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Memory and Potlatch

"In Croatian the word Dragan translates as Precious." Possible this is entirely made up, but through the course of a person's time upon earth there are things that stick in the mind, and won't go away, which is something of a blow for those of us who'd prefer to stock the memory with useful information like their own zip code, telephone number, and street address instead of wasting space with pointless and possibly incorrect bits of information.

It's the case also that a Potlatch of Vestry of Monnow, a shredding if you prefer, does leave a writer of pulp with appalling memory rather lost for names as he re-climbs the hill toward Pen-y-Fal. Dragan makes a nice name if you know it translates as Precious. He's a poorly behaved son, engaged in smuggling cigarettes from Albania to the socialist republics. Some years ago a good living was to be had in Albania from counterfeiting Winston and Marlboro cigarettes.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Model Numbers

I had to cut the blade off the 6hp 1997 push mower. The shattering noise and shower of sparks gave the kitten a pause for thought. She stared at me for a long time afterwards, it was an accusing sort of look, I felt guilty of something, and as one who is essentially at the bottom of the totem pole I have to admit I did feel a little rakish in the dangerous kind of way, someone to be respected, a little unstable and not to be messed with. Didn't last long, soon enough I was being directed to open a door in which there's a perfectly good cat flap and the perfectly good water in her barn side drinking bowl had to be replaced, it's a whisker friendly bowl, but the water has to be freshly sparkling from the faucet otherwise it doesn't count as water, instead it's an example of neglect verging upon animal cruelty.

One of the things about a replacement engine is getting the correct configuration. To do this the anxious repair person has to know the model number of the elderly machine upon which the new engine is to be fastened. With elderly mowing decks they do get a bit of batter in the long course of their days. Many years ago model numbers were engraved into the metal of mower decks. Then sometime around 1995 a new wave of cost cutting measures must have been  introduced. Model numbers were basically plastic sticky labeled onto a mowing deck, so that a bit of sun, rain and aggravation could wear it off, quickly turn it illegible. It would be OK if I could decipher the model number for the engine, I could go from there, but years ago a boy cat had taken a dislike to the 1997 push mower and as everyone knows boy cat urine can pretty much melt the metal upon which engine numbers are engraved.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Potlatch

In the storm of daily life I have found that once written and tossed into the ether a statement becomes like a tablet down from the mountain. Otherwise it's all just a morass of "Maybe Tomorrow." Which is why I will announce two potlatches. The one is more of a fair warning, and the other is a definite "Will Do." The fair warning has to do with a technical device, it will involve a sledge hammer and a blow torch, and should the technical device again revert to a Bolshevik attitude toward function there will be a berserker moment behind the barn, followed by loud wailing, and the inevitable tears of regret.

The "Will Do" potlatch has to do with A Vestry of Monnow. My own arrogance and hubris will be humbled in the fire. It's more of a delete button, but none the less the flames are no less absolute, the thing will be gone, wiped from the world, off to oblivion, and your writer of pulp will re-climb the hill. This time with a fresh eye, and with luck something like a well thought out plan that results in a comprehensive conclusion, bells, whistles and an idea of "Yes that makes sense." Anyway it's all very exciting and does provide a frail comfort to the often incredibly depressing process of putting a vegetable garden to sleep. I'm certain you'll agree, there's something horrific about ripping out the Tomato.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Outdoors

Without mentioning the continuing struggle with lunch, some of us are coming to the end of our ability to manage the heat. The Chard is doing it's very best against those little black Caterpillar, Sweet Potato prefer to wilt in the afternoon which is probably rodent related and the gardener is giving serious consideration to one of those yearning odes to frost, not many of them written. With the winter poems more often it has more to do with Christmastide and bunch of nonsense about Yule Logs and jingling. And then there's a raft of poems that play winter as an analogy to old age. Why it's called Old Man Winter I've no idea, other than to assume that through the years winter has bumped a lot of us old people off.

The best known poem by Dylan Thomas is the one that contains "Do not go gentle into the night" and it goes on a bit about "rage against the dimming of the light." The thing about that poem is, and far to many people forget this, it was written during second world war and was inspired by the bombing of London. One of the bombs killed a one hundred year old man, and to the poet this just seemed very, very wrong and ratty making. A man who had reached the age of 100, killed by a bomb. Call me a callous swine, but at least it was unexpected and quick. First frost day around here is supposed to be middle of October. What's the betting we don't get a little help with grass mowing and blood sucking insects until well into November.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Felt

Deep Throat, amongst other things, was also the name of an anonymous source. The traditional view that lasted a while was that he was a compilation of anonymous sources all of whom for the sake of anonymity and convenience came under the title of Deep Throat. Then some time in the early part of this century a name emerged. A man called Mark Felt, an agent of the FBI and big fan of J Edgar Hoover. The story goes that when Hoover met his end time, Mark Felt had a poor reaction to the appointment of the new Director of the FBI. The new director was an admiral from the navy, he had little experience of law enforcement, he was an idiot, or perhaps a moron, who had absolutely no understanding of how the FBI was supposed to keep people safe from ne'er do wells, kidnappers, anarchists, pot smoking social activists, the wishy-washy and the list of Hoover's interests was a long and often peculiar one.

Worth noting the origin of the name Deep Throat. The managing editor of the Washington Post is credited with naming the source and it wasn't until the first book about the Watergate Scandal was written that the name reached  public scrutiny. More recently the new iteration of a high level anonymous source has yet to be given a name, but I have seen a suggestion in the news that the title Lodestar might enter the inevitable vocabulary with which the future will surround the current ghastly administration. My own list of contributions to any debate that may or may not be occurring in the back rooms of the nation's free press around the problem of naming the author of the recent anonymous editorial would include the words Sock Puppet, Coffin Sniffer and Queen Nefertiti. Certainly they're all good and catchy names for blood sucking invertebrates, but more to the point ask yourself how on earth did the name Deep Throat every join the party when you've got something like Mark Felt to play with.

All the Choice

The answer is short sentences. Have a peek at the books of the great minds and you'll not find a sentence much shorter than two or maybe four hundred words, a couple of commas and no end of semi-colons. Hegel, Marx, and those with much harder names to spell, clearly had the big head that's capable of containing vast amounts of idea in one breath, and would never consider the possibility that others might get lost in any sentence longer than about twenty five words. Either way, some of us aren't much good at resolutions, but I've been wandering these pages and cannot believe how incomprehensible I've become, which is why I have resolved to seek solace in short, sharp, incredibly meaningful sentences that make total, complete and utter sense. As well, no longer will there be ambling around scattering commas at the written word. In fact I might even avoid commas all together, never really understood them, never quite sure where they're supposed to go, but I do know they're not confetti, and there's a whole set of other confusions which do nothing for overall mental balance.

In the meanwhile there's original intent. My own argument would be yes to the peaceable kingdom, pursuit of happiness, a more perfect union and the equality of all, whether God given or not. At the same time, the original intent here on these pages was to explore the experience of existence, recognize the material nature of being, understand it as limited to the outer reaches of physics, an incline in the fabric of time, no up, no down, no sideways. A straight line in a curved universe that was there before the big bang. And you're right, that sort of wacky-doodle thinking does produce the raised eyebrow from those who want answers. The old joke about three existentialists in bar, and one says... But I'm sure everyone's heard it before, and would rather plumb for hubris and arrogance around grand words like Original Intent and never risk the appalling notion that a straight line goes directly through the curves and grace of Original Intent, leaves it in the tail winds of dying Red Dwarfs. Yes indeed the stars may be laughing at us, yet their time will come and when it does interpretations evaporate leaving us to the poet Alqamah and his Camel. "All the choice is to journey on."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Ball Joints and Spindle Bearings

The trouble with being born a pompous-ass I could go on hour after boring hour on the topic of sycophant motivations and tyranny, and how to attempt an understanding of them without resorting to vulgarities and rude gestures, but that doesn't get me a ball joint for the steering of a venerable riding mower that's been sitting in the maybe pile for a good couple of years. The personality flaw of course is saying something like "It'll be good for parts." The thing is parts fail and usually it's the same parts that fail, so sooner or later a machine runs out of good looking and donatable parts, and the whole thing looks very sad and tragic, kind of like a polio victim. 

The other thing about this mower is the deep affection we share, we've been through hell together and it's my fault the steering failed. Which is yet another personality flaw that's sure to cost more than a couple of cartons of cigarettes and dozens of cans of sweetened condensed milk. All of which means I am doomed to reenter the dark and incredibly frustrating world of Spindle Bearing Repair. The spindles are the bits that allow the deck blades to spin, and I've kind of used a couple of bearings from this mower deck's spindles. It wasn't an easy thing to steal, I felt terrible doing it and even if price-wise new spindle bearings are up there with a well pump, it was kind of a betrayal on my part, one of those shameful feelings that haunt.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Transactions

Being wishy-washy I've always been keen on phenomenological approaches. It's a long word and impossible to spell and it essentially means the stuff that's experienced by the mind. Sounds easy but none of us are able to actually get into someone else's mind, feel what they feel, think in the way they think. Transactional Analysis was a move toward getting a better grasp of the stuff that's experienced by the mind through looking at the more personal social interactions and categorizing them into parent, adult and child ego-states. The reason for choosing these three states is because they're either conflicting or complementary, and can be thought of as transactions between people and within groups of people. A small step in the problem of exploring the experience of others but a big one I think. "Are you treating me like a child?" "Only because I love you." A truly charged verbal interaction that can be explored in terms of both sides wanting something from the other, and it would seem neither one making much progress in the difficult business of getting the other to behave, oblige, go away or whatever. One of the troubles for the practitioners of phenomenological approaches to analysis is they are time consuming, require great patience, they're not usually successful in achieving results like world peace and in the end much cheaper just to medicate the lot of them.

 Either way, transaction, transactional and so on, figure pretty large in the current nightmare. "Oh he's just a day trader!" is thrown around like confetti. There's a whole thing around strategic thinking and how incredibly important it is for long term wellbeing. "When I grow up I want to be an astronaut." "Well you need to be good at math." I agree, it's a very depressing answer enough to put anyone off and so much easier just to have someone take a photograph of me in spaceman outfit so that I can look as though I might be an astronaut, or perhaps I'll just get a tattoo. In the three ego-states the adult is the one who can sort of see both sides, thinks more strategically, and has a basic understanding that hoping for miracles is no substitute for an informed opinion based on a wide, wide range of possibilities, followed by disciplined attempt at objectivity. Something like "you'll end up digging trenches for a living," is a long way from adult behavior, that would be a more parental reaction. But, "I wish you the very best of luck becoming an astronaut," followed by a shrug would be grown up. One thing's for certain anyone who tries to secretly sneak a sun tanning bed into their domicile falls into the category of child. An ego-state that is vulnerable and a real pain in the neck unless in the interpersonal transaction your own ego state is that of parent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Origins of Q

I'd argue the early iterations of Q where in the ideas of Sorel, his myth of the general strike and the role a potential for violence played in sobering up ruling elites to prevent them from becoming totally obnoxious of attitude and appalling in their behaviors toward the common man. No accident that Q emerged sometime in the last half of the last century in Italy, an often divided land where Sorel's book hit a chord amongst the Italian Fascists. This Italian Q, (60's, 70's something like that) was one of those handbooks for politically left leaning activists who when considering the problem of Capital concluded that a myth of some sort would succor the flagging spirits of and reawaken an interest in radical change from the working class by offering a sense that despite all appearances to the contrary, "Things were actually happening." Not just little things, but really big and important things which when the time was deemed right would suddenly come together, all would be revealed, a paradise on earth, or at least affordable health insurance.


 Can't find the handbook, of course, probably have to go to a vault in Moscow, but it was basically a collection of intertwined rumors that these days most would put in the category of a well considered conspiracy theory. The work of the activist was to spread one rumor from the handbook, which as it found its way into a community would meet other rumors from the handbook and it was a like a Bingo moment for the innocent, who in their turn would become believers in the idea that "things were actually happening" and best not to be left out. Not sure the Italian Q had any great success, Italy back then had recently struggled through fascism, it's citizens were still pretty wise around crackpot ideas that contained a ludicrous promise. In the USA there's some debate about Q's reemergence, but I'd guess it was either some venal male of our species from the Alt Right looking to experiment with mayhem in pursuit of his ultimate purity, or a Leftist practical joke designed around the idea of making Trump supporters look idiotic and at the same time make a few more dollars on accessories and t-shirts to sell at Nuremberg style rallies. If you've not been to one, out in the free parking there's a smorgasbord of stalls selling hats and collectables, and naturally for Q memorabilia there's E-trade. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Gaslights

Less than a hundred years ago there was an advert for a brand of lighter which included the expression "a flick and it's lit." A catchy phrase designed by bright young minds to entice an innocent customer into choosing a brand of lighter which I think was called Ronson. "What's this got to do with Q-Anon?" I hear the call. The answer can be found in a word that emerged in the 1960's which took it's cue from a 1930's movie called Gaslight. The movie was about a devious husband who in the course of being up to no good had decided the drive his wife insane by persuading her that she'd lost touch with the real and had become delusional. The word Gaslighting is hard to avoid, you can't really get up in the morning without experiencing an attempt designed to manipulate the way you think, but in the long list of civic horrors Q-Anon stands alone because in a sense we are all adherents to one version or other of it. We all believe something and when our beliefs are challenged we can quickly be persuaded to believe things that cannot be true.  What's the matter with you - just look at symbol for the United Nations, the earth is very obviously flat and if the earth wasn't flat and saucer shaped, you'd fall off it.

All very well getting worked up and over excited around ideas that suggest reality is virtual, that nothing is real outside of quotation marks, it's a mental stage upon which we prance, and yet thinking that way is a luxury best left to the common rooms that serve latte. One view is this. Generations ago we lived in tropical trees, we built well appointed and comfortable nests and we were blissfully happy unless one of our number chose to look beyond our horizon in the search for something else. Usually we'd do the right thing and toss such a character out of the nest, let him or her fall to a horrible death as a warning to others. Then our trees began to die and reality suggested that if our being was to survive we'd have to find new ways of being. It was the horizon that beckoned, an impossible place, flat treeless and without hope. It wasn't a genetic change that permitted us to adapt, it was the confluence of our being confronted by reality, a moment of truth rather than anything that made any sense. Boldly, with just the occasional gnashing of teeth and some grumpiness, we ventured forth into an unknown future. Q-Anon, if you ask them, will tell you everything's under control and going exactly according to the plan that's far too complicated for simple voters to fully comprehend. Me, I'm not convince. Incidentally, the Ronson lighter from a secondhand stall cost six pence, it needed unavailable parts and it never lit, it's a purchase that will live in infamy. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Bull of Heaven

Difficult to avoid contemplating the more dire of future possibilities, ogres abound, the ghost of Governor George Wallace is eagerly knocking on doors and MAGA has become an aesthetic for the truly brick wall puerile. Not a big believer in the 16th century quatrains of Nostradamus, yet interpreting the mystery of the future remains one of those perennials of consciousness, a bugaboo of awareness, which today is as awesome in its majesty as it was back in the day when Gilgamesh having killed the Bull of Heaven had his vision of his dead friend during which his friend went on a bit about what a terrible, terrible place Hell was. Nor did our hero find much solace in the vision, in fact it depressed him mightily. And if you're eyebrows are raised it's Sunday, dress up for church day, think about self in relation to other, and here we're not talking in relation to mechanical devices or Compost Piles. The point being "a shining city on the hill" is so badly tarnished by the machinations of earthly passions the future this side of some kind of painless death looks increasingly grim. And at the same time some of us might still cling to the idea that all things are relative, the Dark Ages weren't totally devoid of happiness, men and women laughed, children played with sticks in the puddles, contentment was defined by a satisfied stomach and Saints did stuff like turn lice into crocodiles so that none of us had to ask science or education to answer the question why? Yes indeed, the Dark Ages were a much simpler time, ignorance the most blissful of opiates, a heavy drinking for any mind searching for an oblivion in the slurry of alternatives states. By George! it used to be fun, rum punch, gin, washed down with Budweiser, a good substitute for Brains Ale still alive and warm from the barrel.

Never been certain why or whether Enkidu, Gilgamesh's friend, was in Hell, but Enkidu was kind of like Esau who biblical scholars will tell you was "an hairy man." A wild outdoor kind of person who hunted and gathered for a living, retained an ill-disciplined purity of understanding which slicky-boys from the more city-like habitats consider very un-cool unless it involved shopping, impressing girls or country music. And if there is one, these genuine wild outdoor type characters do kind of miss the point about civilization, the responsibilities of leadership, regular bathing, stuff like comprehending complex ideas in conjunction with good fashion sense. In short, a successful and good king has to be prepared to embrace the quill and parchment, pour out his heart into something like the Psalms of David as a penance for the sins of high ambition and lust for power, a sadness in his soul. If he's incapable of doing so, insists he's perfect, he's basically the servant of the Devil and should be burnt at the stake or hung from a balcony in an Italian City, and if he dies in his bed history already has the Mark of Cain on his forehead, no shortage of typewriters to remind the world of a reprobates abominable passage through it. When Gilgamesh first came to power he was a veritable scoundrel, cruel, self serving and just very nasty. He died a much wiser man, but his sins could never be forgiven, he'd killed the Bull of Heaven for goodness sake, which is why the account of his life is described by the university types and hangers on as a tragedy. Meanwhile, four and a half thousand years later, it does seem there's a kind of fratricide that's put a Mark of Cain on the Party of Lincoln. Fair warning, tomorrow I'll compare and contrast the Luddite reaction to automated textile equipment toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the DNC from 1992 to the present. To quote the well medicated Elvis, "It will fascinate you."