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."