Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My complaint about Baby New Year

I don't know what to make of Baby New Year's ruses. On the one hand, Baby New Year ducks the issue of defeatism by using words and phrases so vague and subject to interpretation that they have no true meaning at all. But on the other hand, we are nearing a synthesis of elitism and sectarianism into an obtuse wowserism that will transform fear and its inculcation into the preeminent force ruling human existence. Let's get down to business: Because of Baby New Year's obsession with simplism, aside from a few exceptions, this statement is undoubtedly valid. I'll probably devote a separate letter to that topic alone, but for now, I'll simply summarize by stating that I am more than merely surprised by Baby New Year's willingness to make me the target of a constant, consistent, systematic, sustained campaign of attacks. I'm shocked, shocked. And, as if that weren't enough, as Baby New Year matures morally it'll eventually grow out of its present way of thinking and come to realize that I believe in "live and let live". Baby New Year, in contrast, demands not only tolerance and acceptance of its expedients but endorsement of them. It's because of such unscrupulous demands that I profess that there is no doubt that it will impose ideology, control thought, and punish virtually any behavior it disapproves of sooner than you think. Believe me, I would give everything I own to be wrong on that point, but the truth is that I recently heard Baby New Year tell a bunch of people that individual worth is defined by race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. I can't adequately describe my first reaction to this notion; I simply don't know how to represent uncontrollable laughter in text. Still, the issue of what to do about Baby New Year's stuck-up practices is far from settled. The letter you just read should be seen as a starting point for dialogue on this controversial issue.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sarah Palin's Comedy Routine

For the talent portion of the beauty contest she was in, Sarah Palin considered doing a stand-up routine. The transcript of the routine (which she never delivered) was recently discovered in the bottom of a discarded bird-cage, and is presented here, mostly unedited.

Hiya, everyone!
I just flew in from Wasilla . . . boy are my arms tired . . .
Things happen in Alaska, crazy things that you wouldn't see anywhere else. Just the other day, I shot a moose in my bikini; what it was doing in my bikini I don't know.
And the people in Alaska, wow, they are something else! Take my husband . . . Please!
My husband and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.
The other day he was stuck on an escalator for two hours. I asked him, "Why didn't you walk down?" He said, "because I was going up!"
I'll tell ya, my husband and I, we don't think alike. I donate money to the homeless, and he donates money to the topless! During sex my husband always wants to talk to me. Just the other night he called me from a hotel.
The other day my husband met me at the front door. I was wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, I was coming home.
We have fun here in Alaska, though; we have fun in our small towns. We have horse racing. I was at the track last week, and I bet on a great horse! It took seven horses to beat him. The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip. My horse was so late getting home, he tiptoed into the stable.
And my family! Let me tell you about my family. I wish my brother would learn a trade, so I would know what kind of work he's out of.
My brother told me his car wasn't running well, there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, and he told me it was in the lake.
And my sister! She's been married so many times she has rice marks on her face.
She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate.
She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.
And my mother; she could tell that her parents hated her. Her bath toys were a toaster and a radio.
One day, she met the surgeon general. He offered her a cigarette.
Some dog I got too. We call him Egypt because he leaves a pyramid in every room.
Thank you very much, you've been a great audience.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Richard Bach; Is There No Freedom?


Richard Bach is best known for writing Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Jonathan likes to fly, and events occur. It does get a bit mystical, but that's OK. I won't hold that against the book.

My favorite is Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah and I like it for the problems it gives me.


The messiah character, Donald W. Shimoda, says that "You are free to do whatever you want to do", and he demonstrates his freedom by being wise and magical and not afraid to die. Right away this creates a problem that I like. As someone who is not particularly wise, or magical, or unafraid to die, how do I demonstrate my freedom?


Another one is the Problem of Suffering. It's one thing for healthy, happy, new-age types to proclaim that they are the creators of their lives, willing to take risks and be unconventional, even if it Causes Talk. It is something else to apply the idea of freedom to the problem of suffering, both in one's own life and in the lives of others. I can practice thanking the universe for whatever comes my way, from banging my shin on a table, to getting a nice drink of cold water when I am thirsty; but what of the suffering of others? Not that it's necessarily any of my business, but the problem has been posed, and it remains. To put it bluntly, do we blame the victim? The answer, of course, is: There are no victims here. And yet that answer does not suffice. What of a young person dying of some terrible malady? Their idea, one can say, and shrug one's shoulders. Yet that is obviously not the way of compassion; it is the classic dismissal of the poor by the wealthy: It's their fault that they are poor, they deserve whatever happens to them.


And, having failed to resolve that problem, I introduce another. Money. One thing that Shimoda did not have or seem to need was a wad of cash. Yet we in this world have need of money; Richard Bach himself often writes about money.
I like money. It is fun to believe that money is not the real point, it is only a way of keeping score, and yet we in this world give much of our time and energy to following the movement of these bits of green paper.

I like these problems in that they are constant. They are not resolved by words; they occur and recur, and are real. In what way am I demonstrating my freedom today? Am I caught up in beliefs about injustice and tragedy, and if so, how am I reconciling these beliefs with a belief in freedom? Where are love and compassion in a world of free people? Is my freedom measured by my money? My lack of money?


As Richard Bach wrote in Illusions: Watch the answers change.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Alan Watts & Practical Thinking


Alan Watts
, through the medium of old paperbacks, and recordings of his talks, tells me that I am something that the whole world is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing; that I am from the Earth, of the Earth, not a foreign invader from outer space; that to be here now is the best that I can do. And other good happy jazz like that . . .

Yet what the hell has that got to do with the high price of coffee? Or with paying child support? Or with paying the rent? It doesn't solve those problems; but it does include them. I am the experience of being me. Sometimes that experience is painful. I experience lack and limitation and difficulty, insecurity and confusion. Sometimes. And sometimes I am joyful and sometimes I am quietly happy. Sense of peaceful joy . . .

Alan Watts gives me a cosmology I can believe in. For what it's worth (or not) it's true. True enough, anyway.

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