See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Birthday Thoughts

First, thanks to Peggy, who is studying computer graphics for this pic. She says it's not her best effort, but I know no one will sue me for copyright infringement.

Yep, it's my 49th birthday. November is birthday season in my life. Probably the only thing I've ever found to be true about astrology is that most of the people who have been close to me in my life have been born in May or November. I'm sure I'll leave some out, but: my ex-fiancee who apparently wants nothing to do with me these days was born Nov. 8; my lifetime friend Robert was docking his sailboat in New York yesterday, on a trip down the coast that began about the time of his birthday, Nov. 14, when Stephanie reached him yesterday morning, on her birthday, Nov. 17. My first cousin was born on Stephanie's birthday, and two of my aunts on my father's side were born this week in the 1920's, as well as my deceased uncle (who was also married to one of those aunts this week many years ago). Someone who used to be close to me was born Nov. 10, but I can't remember who.

Usually the reason I don't blog for a period of time is that I have nothing to say, which is the best reason I can think of. There's nothing particulary blogworthy about my birthday, either, but that's pretty much the point. There is one particular word of wisdom born of almost half a century of experience that I can impart. When I was 17 or so, I remember doing the calculation of how old I would be at the beginning of the third millenium and discovering I would be 42. I imagined that the 42-year-old person would be a totally different one than the 17-year-old. So in other words the person who was doing the imagining would never experience the twenty-first century. I was very right but very wrong.

So although it's true that in one sense the person I am now is not the person I was yesterday, in terms of the sense of self, of the perceiver, of the person who writes your daily autobiography in your head, you are exactly the same person now you will be tomorrow. That sounds obvious on a day-to-day sense, but is surprising when you consider the span of years of a lifetime. I am the same person looking out of slightly more myopic eyes at a different world today, as I was at 17. And at this point I am quite sure that if I make it to 75, I will be the same person I am now in an older body -- or at least I will perceive it that way. I don't act the same way I did when I was 17, I don't look the same, but I'm still me. I still haven't been co-opted by the world. I haven't merged into a role, although I may be better at acting like it. Maybe I'm the same person making different choices. But still me, really.

I am the same me I was when I discovered rock and roll in high school, when I discovered philosophy in college, when I went through the motions against my grain in law school, when I crashed and burned with my idiosyncrasies in the 90's, when I finally returned to my search for that same self in 2004 and survived to write this entry. But I am not the same me who could have been a successful lawyer who didn't burn out from his own frustration, or the person who could have more courageously rejected the path of attempted passing in society and pursued his own path when I was 20 and all the paths were open with a free ticket. Those selves are false, they are fantasy and illusion, they never happened and never will. To compare myself to them is a waste of my time and yours.

Because I am also not the person who never survived. That person, like the others never existed. Several of the possible persons you could have been never survived, but you're not them, or you wouldn't be reading this.

One of my favorite Buddhist stories (which of course I can't recount) ends in the ultimate truth about human life, one monk telling another, "From birth to death, it' just like this." Just like what? This. Everything you are feeling and thinking and seeking right now. It will never be perfect, it will never be fulfilled, it will never be over. This. This same self; even if in some epistemological realm that self is illusory, right now it is here and your point of reference and it is you and it it this.

So you are the cutting edge of the evolution of universal intelligence, and the cutting edge of the universe has to pee and has a bad hip and is worried about the dog and doesn't want to go to work on Monday, and it's living in luxury and hungry and scared, and it's tired and manic and almost half a century from its beginning and its learned enough to engulf the cosmos and doesn't know a damn thing.

Happy birthday, existence. Happy birthday, me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Celebration / Nothing Else Matters

After all my cyncism and conviction that the American public couldn't find its butt with both hands, something good happens. The Democrats have Congress, which if I know Nancy Pelosi means that nothing from the nutballs will pass for the next couple of years. Don't be too optimistic; the country has been inexorably damaged and will never be the same again. You will never again have the life you had in the 90's; that was the peak. However, maybe we can at least relax a little. This election wasn't a victory for the Democrats so much as the public finally realizing how Bush lied. We are a long way from responsible leadership, but now maybe we can breathe.

Anyway, this is a beautiful video someone made that I found on YouTube. It's Bif Naked's version of Metallica's Nothing Else Matters, with video from this incredibly beautiful game (intercut with Bif's video). I've also posted the Bif Naked website in the links section, as well as her MySpace page in that section (and check out Kate's MySpace there, too).

Enjoy! And hey I'm having fun with these hyperlinks , make sure to check 'em out. I may throw you a few surprises.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Penny for the Guy (and Some Thoughts on Tuesday's Election)

I've been wanting to write a little something about the elections coming up this coming Tuesday, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to do it on Guy Fawkes day.

I don't know how much of a big deal Guy Fawkes day is in Britain now -- I expect it can't be much -- but I've always thought it was sad most Americans never heard of it. Hopefully a lot of us who didn't know before learned about it from watching V for Vendetta, which I will say one more time is one of the best movies of the new millenium so far: if you haven't seen it, go get it today, I can't think of a better occasion. A lot of us of my generation first heard mention of a holiday on November 5 at the end of John Lennon's "Remember" (on Plastic Ono Band), where he chants lines from the popular children's rhythme:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Actually, Lennon just uses the first line, followed by the sound of an explosion. But that was enough to lead me into the historical research. For a good summary, go here. Otherwise, just know that it Guy Fawkes Day or Firecracker Night is celebrated annually on the day Guy Fawkes and some co-conspirators were caught trying to blow up Parliament. It is widely held by the cynical and the Scots that Guy Fawkes was the only man ever to enter Parliament with good intentions. I think that is an attitude we could carry into the voting booths this Tuesday, but on the other hands we have to hold our noses and get on with it.

There are lots of good excuses not to vote on Tuesday, I realize. First, I'm not at all sure that my vote will be counted. Between blatant election fraud and the uncertainties of the new machine systems, I don't know that anyone's vote is really counted any more. It's clear from the last two Presidential elections that results can be bought, faked and stolen with impunity. But I still think I have to do the best I can to have my vote counted, and that starts with voting. Voting on Tuesday, by the way; I'm just not a fan of early voting. I think the election for better or worse should be a snapshot of voter opinion as much as possible at one particular moment of time. I think early voting strings out the intolerable campaign ads for one thing, and lousy low punches normally saved for late October are rubbed over our wounds from September on. And what would you do if you discovered on November 3 that the "pro-life" candidate you've been salivating over was backed by an evangelist who hires gay male hookers and snorts meth? Of course if you're one of those stupid bastards you'd probably vote for him anyway.

Anyway, although you might not think it, in terms of the American democracy, or what little is left of it, I'm very conservative. I still believe in the Constitution and the axiom that says: If you don't vote, don't complain. If your apathy has contributed to the evil regime now in power and you didn't vote against it -- well, what did you expect them to do?

The main reason not to vote this Tuesday would be the poverty of choices we have. It's clear that the Republicans have been bought body and soul by the corporate greed that is sending us to our doom. It's also pretty clear that the Democrats have been bought by the same evil interests. The last-minute shifting of corporate endorsements to the Democrats means only one thing: that the Democrats are picked to win. Believe me, these interests are not making judgments based on morality. And I have to reluctantly agree that the dominance of the Republicans these last few years has not been solely due to their playing to the lowest urges of human nature (hatred, greed, anger and fear); it has also been due to the lack of any meaningful opposition from the Democrats, who have been mixed even in their reaction to an awful war for oil that has conned many innocent, greedy and desperate Americans to throw away their lives and souls in the service of an earlier destruction for their country and loved ones in addition to the foreigners they have been hired to massacre. The Democrats have been little more than Junior Republicans in these terrible times; they have been afraid to speak out. Or just, lacking all conviction.....

Here in Tennessee, we're faced with one of the dirties campaigns in the country, Corker vs. Ford for the Senate seat which corporate prostitute Bill Frist is vacating in time to set his goals on world domination. Thank god I don't watch TV. This election just demonstrates my willingness this time to vote solely on party lines: I truly detest both candidates. I'm going to vote for Harold Ford, with his family history of graft and corruption and his endless immersion in Washington, a black man running on a very white platform to win in the South. I'll spare you the details, as I'm sick of them. But the truth is, it's time to grit our teeth and do our best to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

As you've seen in my last blog, I'm pretty much convinced that man's self-destruction, and what's worse, his destruction of the earth as a whole, is inevitable. I would love to join with those spiritual souls and optimtists who still think the planet can be saved. I just don't see it happening; I just don't see man changing his essential nature. Man's greed, his clannish nature, his urge to create endless progeny, and his unceasing lust for dominance have made him the most successful predator ever, and in the end, having eliminated all competition, he preys on himself. I urge those of you who think you can save the future for your children to try, as your intentions are good. Of course, it's the endless urge of humanity to produce more and more children that's right at the top of the list of sins that'd led insurmountably to the final days. But I understand your wanting a better life for them.

The predictions of the Peak Oil and Oldevai theorists indicate that we are just past the peak of civilization, that things will begin a more serious downhill slide by about 2035 and continue til we are back in the Stone Age by the end of this millenium. I am starting to think they are optimistic. The breaking news this week was that by 2045 there will be no more seafood. I certainly could dedicate more that one of these little entries just to that. As if all the earth's seafood could be eliminated without disaster to the rest of our artifically supported ecology. But I don't want to live in a world without seafood, even if it was just that.

The Democrats of course are doing nothing about all this. I can't wait to see how Hillary Clinton backpedals on her support for the war in Iraq. About the only political candidate I've seen that I actually like is Bernie Sanders, the independent candidate and avowed Socialist who is probably going to be elected the next Senator for Vermont. Sander's outspoken opposition to the big corporations and the Oil War has made him uniquely desirable as a Candidate (I'm not a Socialist, but it sure beats the Republicans). I wish the there was a Democrat running here who had half this much salt, but the sad truth is that in the ignorant South he wouldn't have a gnat's chance. That's why I have to hold my nose and vote for Harold Ford and every other Democrat on the ballot, just to rearrange those deck chairs.

There have been a lot of national campaigns, including Presidential ones, where I "threw away" my vote; I didn't vote for Clinton the second time. But starting in 2000, where it could be seen that one candidate was just about as evil as you can get and still reside in a human body, I've had to vote Democrat. Again, what's important, even if you support the evil cocksuckers who've just about run this formerly rich country into the ground in six years, is that you do vote. The evil can be turned around; the apathetic will die unnoticed and unmourned.