/ Journal /
tt: winds up in ancient rome or greece or egypt. temple of x. meets old priest. they talk. priest assumes he’s impressed. he is, but gets urge to show off NYC. takes priest with him. priest is impressed. tt starts nostalgizing about how simple and efficient and cheap the temple was. no heating, no AC, no union man getting six figures to stay home. you haven’t seen the temple. you thought the temple was the same ruin you had seen before tting? your city couldn’t afford my city’s temple. the priesthood, the virgins, the blood letting … 20% of our GNP. You don’t even spend that much on your cars. Not even on drugs. bombs and soldiers … it’s a toss up.
ss. guy has dealing with Artie, Richie, Collier, they steal and justify it as highly ethical. it’s legal. you didn’t protect yourself. i’m serving my family. i give money to the temple. i’m a fine citizen. suddenly one day, Artie comes over to return your pot. it’s the same piece of shit in worse condition, but he’s tried to scratch it clean. and he’s filled it with pennies. what’s going on? EPA has just been taken over by a paramecium with punitive powers. JD is here from an odd angle.
map/ter. it may not be saying much to say that our maps aren’t perfect if, in the best of our theory, we know that they can’t be perfect. But, can they be improved? You betcha. Universities exist on that premise? or do they only hand on Learning Zero? yet they resist it. with all the momentum typical of establishments. verse/prose distinctions, them/us, humanities/science. I don’t mean that there are no differences between Cassius Clay and William Buckley: but how generic are they? how generalizable without exceptions? or between the faerie queen and the Astrolabe. but how about Moby Dick and Erasmus Darwin? who has the poetry there?
the politics of changing one’s group mind: it isn’t logic that matters until the tides changes; then suddenly, oh, if I don’t see the sense of our point of view I’ll lose my job, my balls, umm, gee, sure, how come we didn’t see it before, of course women should be allowed to vote, slaves should be free, the slave traders should be free, women should wear veils, the schools should be publicly funded, there shouldn’t be any public funding of anything I don’t own stock in, etc.
guy does everything right. nose to the grindstone. minds own business when the plug is being pulled on somebody, gets some schlock business, making 6 figures. acct calls him a mil’re. builds dream house. can only afford .6 acre. best neighborhood. moves in. thinks the duke of wellington will be his neighbor. where did all these idiots come from? that jerk in this neighborhood?
was it ten years ago that the IRA bombed some yacht that Lord Montbatten or somebody was on? Lord so and so, is shocked: how could anyone be so barbaric as to bomb a nice innocent English aristocratic yacht in a long occupied country? No one, I don’t even think that Irishman knew what I meant when I said something about attacking and killing being the basis of his privilege, how could he complain? the rules are only fair if I win? i can rape you, but turnabout isn’t fair play?
anyway, now it occurs to me: the brits have this thing for monarchy. ok, they should have a new monarch: once chosen from a group that in so far as anyone can determine from history has never done anything to anybody. they should choose a monarch from the basques. from the quakers. from some pacifist Celtic sect, if one could be found. then, bombing his yacht would be an outrage. if no one can find any group that’s never done anything to anybody, not proved, I mean not even suspected, then chose one from among any group of wogs. better yet, prefer the Indians. Ghandhi’s people. The Hindi.
eur hist was checkered with german kings on english thrones, spanish on etc, french or netherlandish on etc. what would hist have been had that been the rule? a russian in france, an italian in spain, a portuguese in poland, etc.?
i send them radium, they only see pitchblende. what do they want
with pitchblende that glows in the dark? hey, but pitchblende is what they wanted. yeah, but not pitchblende that glows in the dark.
the arts thinking they can go on without knowing science;
science thinking it can go on without knowing life,
we in a democracy have to blink or look the other way when the president does something criminal or treasonous because “he knows things we don’t know.” we have open trial, evidence, arguments, etc. the law is known or lookupable, supposedly. Rock Starr has been accused of dealing, fornication, bad checks, and spitting on the sidewalk. accused, tried, witnesses etc. prosecutions and defenses arguments. 10 to 20 for the first, 5 to 10 the second, 1 to 3 the third, etc. guilty on all counts. judge must now pass sentence. everything is plain as day right? he retires to his chambers. he comes out. “$5 or 30 days” Huh? He must know something we don’t know.
Right. What does he know that we don’t? (sometimes, history can uncover what is hidden from all within the given polity). he knows that:
A: Rock Starr has promised him an extra 5 G
B: there’s dynamite now in his home closet which will go off if anyone touches it
C: he knows what happened to the 12 judges that found California guilty and Sutter innocent.
ak to pk: she flatters your ass off: and you believe her!
comedy of official maintaining posture of objectivity
hajji. so marvelous how an Englishman tells it how it is, plain civilized human nature in all its splendor thorugh the eyes of another civilization, without flinching, getting in his own propaganda. the Persians insult everybody including the “Franks” and especially including each other. business as usual. women, justice, inheritance, passing the buck, truthfulness, charity, valor, everything. the story of the Armenian following his own adventure in love, followed by the story of the roasted head. fabulous. i also love how this regency man waits a good bunch of chapters before making the nature of their love altogether unequivocal. But remains silent but for one line on Hajji’s child! Then we see Hajji and his intimacy with his mother! And we see how she’s allied herself for her new state! What did a good European think as he looked into this mirror?
tv Paradise. there’s conscious myth making. the good gun fighter’s got only one eye.
what sort of existence (try specifying dimensionality) do different things have? those who deny that the universe exists have been vanishingly small in number. I can only positively identify one. those who claim that they only exist seem to be greater in number but we call them a name. American’s agree that George Washington existed. Is that the same sort of thing? Many Americans agree that they have rights, that their rights exist. Other claim to have lost them or to be losing them. Is what exists there or doesn’t exist or no longer exists the same? Jews agree that Adam and Eve existed. Is it the same?
Is there somewhere even semantically a universe or at least solar system in which the moon is made of green cheese? Was there ever? Was Euclidean geometry ever true? Is that the same sort of question?
the epistemology of reviewing. a review of relationship. this book is intellectual, we may safely hate it. this book is by a jew, ditto. this book is by some rising minority with clout, time for revision of that relationship. etc.
Xian Sci parents murdering their children by not subscribing to normal levels of consumption of standard medicine. freedom of religion, yes, but still can’t kill your children. says prosec. no mention of level of killing of standard medicine. whole question of medicine now being the state religion mentioned. alien on jury. hasn’t seen any newspaper articles, tv broadcasts, even glanced headlines. perfect. however, when it comes to issues, alien doesn’t know what religion is. has to have everything explained to him. since none of us know how to explain the things most familiar to us, he’s given only the tip of the iceberg. begins to get some idea however. makes mistake of asking what the credentials of the medical industry are: no, no: scientific credentials. upshot is, prosecution and medicine are still not charged with the same crime.
Hajji. so, finally, p 376, most of the masks come off and we see more blatantly that he’s a European after all. it’s been a good disguise. i saw some school marm assigning this fun house mirror section to some poor kids in a desperate attempt to show them that it was good, funny, harmless and her frustration at the kids dullness. what goes before is more science fiction. oh, there are no magic carpets in it, but the mirror is truer. he’s looking at man more accurately when he’s not looking at Englishman and Bounapart [?ck orig]. i am again convinced that the further the author is from the reader’s consciousness, the deeper into the blind spot, the more profound his influence. the authors of the bible are so deeply into our blind spot that we don’t realize that it has any authors. and i’m not even talking at least not primarily about Flaubert’s aesthetic invisibility. though they’re related.
we don’t censor (ie monitor closely) what cartoon kids watch. we allow monarchies to reign unmolested in fairy tales. democratic and republican notions take to their heels when the really important indoctrination is on. stuff that goes deeper even than our being human. where fear of the dragon is still fresh. the alien in scifi has a dual function: that it isn’t us, doesn’t have our default settings, is the whole point. and 2, it is us, it is, just as jack is and the giant is and the beanstalk is. just realized i haven’t scriblem mention yet of seeing that Jim Henson had a muppet special on the tube with a fairy tale the giant that had no heart. just beautiful. and the rest of the show deliberately scifi. “genetic originality” and then he trucks out an old Mad Comics joke. wonderful.
the shah the center of the universe. of course, we’re all the center of the universe, except while we’re letting some other infant have us believe that the one we group around is.
what would the universe look like (non-visually of course since we can’t be talking about light beams or photons) to an electron. would the nucleus be running around it? how about when ionized?
“to walk in the same story of heaven”
the english offer money to the Shah. how much? and the French are sent packing. all rulers want trade to their own (perceived) advantage. but that can’t be all they want. not even the english. power, prestige, self-like-propagation. who knew it better than the muslims? maybe the jesuits.
how can you judge a present from an alien without knowing his economy. a 67 million lottery is still robbing the people (with their blessing). we have the opportunity to know our own economy so it’s alien by choice of ignorance. a few beads to indians. what did they know of mass production. and if they did (we have our legend of the golden eggs) who has the experience to know what new levels of access will do to the existing borders of the economy. spain was ruined by getting what it sought. GBS’s JC deliberately pays inflated prices in Alexandria’s market. the usual political thing is to bribe the chief. it’s generally been cheaper than bribing the country. even lagniappe costs something. aliens come to earth and offer a trillion to US govt. oh wow sure, uh, what’s the catch? meaningless without knowing their economy, their aims, their own devotion to propagation. charity? what’s that? love of turning thou into me.
“One of the most remarkable features in the character of our English guests was their extreme desire to do us good against our inclination.” James Morier
intelligence in relation to fractal surface area: discover the Palisades? for a sailing European, all you have to do is be on the Hudson in the first place.
Hit 500 home runs? It’s been done, but only by those playing baseball in the first place. a limited group of changing borders. first male us worker. non-afro. fairly whole of limb. & willing to keep putting up with whatever is required to play. be owned, be told, etc. to be an adult child. Now it’s only male and the last parts; you have to play!
T: Why I Am Likely Never to Pass the 500 Mark. 50 years old. Haven’t hit #1 yet. Wouldn’t spend five voluntary minutes with those boobs.
how much does it matter whether an element in a structure understands its role? hajji helps write the book on the franks, then the shah is armed to make decisions. armed with ignorance supported by an ignorant book. is there then no difference than if he had no book, no authorities? one thing i love about Hajji is how truly he moves around from role to role, priest, diplomat, spy, merchant, slave, dervish. he’s similarly good and bad at all of them. but the world was still growing together all in ignorance of itself. should an african chief appoint the missionary to advise him on the truth of what the missionary says? or a witch doctor? the witch doctor, of course.
akk! gag! National Geographic on Hong Kong. Peaceful place under Brit rule. Then, dies ire, 1941 or whenever, the Japanese!!! grr, sent their evil planes …
short term memory.
what British rule did among other things, many of them negentropic, however wholesale the rearrangements, was set the stage for today’s world wide drug problem. The good old opium wars. the addicts were just supposed to be the gooks who didn’t want to be junkies. they already knew about. the brits saw the profit for them. and now the children’s teeth are set on edge. all the children, ours as well as theirs, unto the nth generation.
the cybernetic questions is: what’s the shape of the “circle”?
infinite: temporal end, necessarily, but no necessary logical end.
essay on the illusory nature of our addictions: security? huh? health? education? power? freedom? wealth? even money: what is it? how stable? shifting sands. fine, but too busy with them to develop any more accurate maps of what and where we are and what it would make sense to be doing. prestige? only other addicts, envious of our drugs, don’t hate us.
ss: colonists breaking away from earth to form govt at new level of rationality.
ss: billy dupree was 12. 9 years earlier had been part of a luxuriously funded govt program. someone had talked some committee into skimming the highest iq kids into a special environment, there they’d …, change of weather, change of administration, some bureaucrat died or retired or went senile, the funding evaporated. what to do with these kids, couldn’t just turn them loose, antitrained for independent survival, couldn’t just kill them … there was no such directive. dump them in with other zero value non-fits. except that …
the illusory safety of the middle of the bell curve
cyber-love: “and the moment that you feel that you feel that way too, is when I’ll fall in love with you.”
why does math go on talking about eliminating contradiction when according to their own tautology, it’s impossible? because there seems to be advantage is reducing contradiction, fostering partial logic. there’s great disadvantage however in reducing contradiction much beyond the norm. self-appointed alien. (oh, it’s ok to do it in some specialty, where no body knows what’s going on or what it means. even fundamentalists accept nuclear reactions and binary slaves now.) hasn’t eliminated contradiction, hasn’t introduced more logic to the group, has however selfengendered possible future mutant. so most mutations are inevitable. so? no mutation is death.
infinities, thresholds, uncertainty, changes of scale and type, remembering Isaac Asimov & Carl Sagan. Reading my beloved Asimov’s little book on math borrowed at Mike’s house in Mt Rainier made me furious in a couple of details possibly previously noted though it would have been on the C64. His habit of “so and so was the first …” rather than “first known.” And his taking a scenario from life as a supposed illustration of infinity. Now I don’t remember exactly how it went, but you were supposed to take a “boy” and have him do something once a second for ever and ever. Fill a theater, go through a turnstile, or something. His point of course was that there was no knowable necessary limit on the activity. But a boy? for ever? Once a second? What boy can you get to do anything once a second for longer than a minute or two? What about child labor laws? Unions? What are we paying him? Can’t he go to the bathroom or eat? Sleep? Vacations? Won’t he grow up? Does the boy part matter? What boy, even Peter Pan, lives for every and ever? Outlive the universe? Outlive time? How could we monitor it? Why couldn’t he have just said the string has no logical conclusion? There are always temporal not to mention mortal limits.
Now and in this connection I am reminded of a nice reservation made by Carl Sagan during a similar thing in Cosmos. If we cut a cherry pie in half, then again in half, then again in half, … And Sagan cited somebody’s nonsense infinite argument, and added with refreshing candor, that after x number of cuts, 17 or 70 or something, you’d be down to the molecular or atomic level. Now I go on. Ok. So, somewhere before x number of cuts you’d have a hell of a time seeing what you were doing let alone controlling the cut. We take it to begin with that the “half” has no literal meaning. Ok. So you use microscopes, servo calipers, etc. You do it. Now you’re at the molecular level. You got or invented some super electron microscope or what have you. Your knife or scalpel won’t do you much good. You also should notice that what you have now is no longer cherry pie. But you shouldn’t need to invent anything else here to go on. A chemical reaction should do it. Here’s the problem: to reduce it further, you have to add to it. Now how are you going to tag your particular molecule? How will you know that that’s the one that you cut? Let’s say you solve that too. Another “cut” or two and you’re at the atomic level. We’re already several levels into a different kind of epistemology than an ordinary cutting of cherry pie. Any one who knows cherry pie would presumably agree that that’s what you started with. Let’s say you were careful and it was your own making, or Aunt Matilda’s, not Little Debby, Inc. or Tastee, Inc. Ordinary people speaking your language and sharing your cuisine could see, smell, and possibly, from one of the discarded “halves,” taste that it was cherry pie.
Now you’re going by indirect sensory input. You have to trust your machine and your theory. You can no longer relate to it with your ordinary cherry pie senses. So let’s say you’ve somehow got an atom, one of them, tagged from the original pie and that you believe your tag. Good. We can still proceed, can’t we? Atoms can be split, right? But now we have to add more stuff. We have to bombard it in a cyclotron or something. Will what presumably worked as a tag at the molecular level, still work as a tag here? We want to be sure that it’s still something from the cherry pie that we’re splitting. To be sure that it’s our single atom that gets bombarded and not some interloper that splits. Well, let’s say you come up with such a tag. And that you split your atom.
What we can expect to notice here, is that our splits are getting vastly larger. Now our split atom is all over the place. Its electrons could by now be in some other galaxy or have been through 25 different black holes, gone back in time to the big bang or ahead to the whatever. Or say we used a nuclear device as our knife. That atom could be all over what’s no longer New York City. Maybe it didn’t go as far as the electron, but it could well be chasing a comet back toward the O-O cloud by now.
Do you still have hold of any part of it? Are you there? Is the there there? Shall we go on? How? Do we have the next theoretical step to even begin to design new tags and new knives? How big will the next smaller stage be? Is there room for it in the solar system? In the universe? The last few cuts have also been getting exponentially more expensive. Is there enough in the GNP to pay for even contemplating this next one? Why were we cutting more than enough of a slice to eat in the first place?
ss: night raid on museum. in through air conditioning. whispered discussion of alarms, guards, what if we get caught. it’s ok, i’ve got this. spray acid. guy takes it for mace or dope or nerve gas. doesn’t question. ok, here we are. takes a Van gogh off wall. Stuffs it in a bag. X, buddy, be careful. You didn’t ever check it for wires, etc. They hear something. Uh oh, better split. Just a sec, I can get more. come-on. what the hell, grabs a Monet. no, that one’s ok. you bet it’s ok. gotta be worth big six figures. maybe seven. leave it alone, i say. that one’s theirs. huh. guards come. out comes acid can to destroy the van goghs.
FBI raids dope lab. posts guards, seals lab, labels and confiscates main stock. removes to FBI safe house. three feds take turns guarding the stash. what is it this time, asks the guy who’s job is permanent with the house. play cards. might as well live here. no door bell. no knocker. no unofficial visitors. clank clank. what’s that? air conditioning’s is on the whammy. check it out. guy enters. blam blam. the bullets don’t hurt him. slam wham. the fed is rendered helpless. the most enervating thing is the guy doesn’t even bother to disarm him! now he really feels powerless. you’re coming with me. and so’s this. grabs the horse, blow, whatever. echo of caught you red handed. etc. and off to judgment day. but wait that’s not mine. i work for … etc. tell it to the judge.
what can we judge about anything? woke up remembering the adult jar to my memory when mother mentioned that squirrel in the attic as though it were something I were guilty of. Jar in the context made me feel guilty until I forgot about it. Until just now. a 40 year two stitch thread through my life. misunderstanding and uncertainty all along the way. no tone of uncertainty in my mother’s voice however.
there you are in public. you’re sure you’ve combed your hair. brushed you teeth. you’re crotch isn’t split. you wiped your ass. no whip cream on your nose. and suddenly, a little chink is taken out of the back of your skull and somebody is shining a light around in there. By God. it was 40 or damn close to it years ago that it happened. No … maybe I was 14. Absolutely not 16. Then it’s not quite twenty years ago she mentions it. So maybe 15 years ago. Then you completely forgot it again. Is there a symmetry to these reemergences? Of course, but what is it? Maybe it’s not the simple 10 years old, 20 years later, 20 years later one you first imagined.
But what occurs to me today, that hadn’t occurred to me in Stony Brook when she slapped me with it, is that the corpse of the squirrel was HER corpse. I killed it, but under her orders and insistence. Ok, I was the one who tried to dissect it in the basement who then walked off and forgot about it, but now too I remember, when I asked her what I should do with it, she said she didn’t care. Washed her hands completely. You kill the squirrel; it has nothing to do with me.
“Mr Sylvester had to fetch the stinking corpse from the basement and throw it away for me.” Poor mom, everybody responsible for what happens in her house and life except her.
Anyway, once I remember that, still not having really woken up, the sun is roasting me. it took forever to fall asleep, after dragging through the day too wrecked from the previous days’ session with the final draft of Model and printing it out as perfectly as possible and so forth, and now it’s taking me more than 48 hours to recover from one good days work. I have to sleep or I’ll never have another. And I’ve got to have another right away. Now I have to send it out. I have to be alert as I write the letter. guard up. I write the id files purposely guard down. but this is the public. it will never forgive not being lied to. Finally, just before dawn, I fall asleep and stay asleep. Till with the sun pushing me I stir just enough to have the dreams and memory weaves start to perc toward consciousness.
“And he told me what you had done to it.” That was the line that had started my parasympathetic system going haywire. what the fuck is she talking about? then it hit me. straight jab connects. right hook and see stars.
So I wobble for a few seconds and again forget about it. Till it floats up one to two decades later. Only now I put the whole thing together into a pattern. One of an infinite number of possible patterns. the questions isn’t: is that the only possible interpretation? the questions is: does that one of an infinite number of possible interpretations match in any possible way the actual sequence of things, or have you altered the sequence hoping no one can check or that no one is paying attention or that you share with them a conspiracy of silence? (i won’t notice your lie about the jew if you don’t notice my lie about the n-word (Bowdlerizing K. 2016 07 31).) (is altering the sequence necessarily any worse than or as bad as misrepresenting the event? it wasn’t rome that smashed carthage, it was carthage that smashed rome?) it’s only the ghost of me of now talking to the somewhat less substantial ghost of me then with another couple of ghosts in the middle.
Anyway, some I’m now sure of, a detail of sequence could be wrong, be self-serving in some way. Interpretations can always be wrong. But I’m fairly sure I’m seeing it for the first time. Like I saw the pool table last night. blessed sleep soon after 9. far from awake but rewired and staring by 11:30. So. click, fall. click, fall. pretty good percentage drops. till i got bored with success and then couldn’t make another.
Some squirrel gets into the attic.
Paul, get rid of that squirrel.
I don’t know how. Get rid of it.
Paul redisappears from the world. Safe. Home again.
Then how come I keep getting called into the other place? How come it’s always the same other place? With the same “mother” and the same “sister”?
There, Paul, I bought a trap. Cost $2!!! Paul, do you hear me. Set it in the attic and catch that squirrel.
Paul does. Redisappears. Who knows how much time passes? Days? Weeks? a month? the very next day? Paul comes home from school and bang, rattle. there a terrific din from the attic. Paul goes to investigate. Can’t imagine what it is. It’s that trap and there’s a squirrel raging frantic within it. The cage jumps around the floor in the animals panic.
Shrug. leave it alone.
mother comes home. what’s that racket?
there’s a squirrel in that cage.
get rid of it.
i don’t know.
should I dump it outside?
yes. no. it’ll get back in again. kill it.
I don’t know. Drown it.
i don’t know. figure it out.
Paul goes and gets the cage. never before held a thing that was at one a thing and alive. never touched anything so frantic before. Puts it in the tub. Run the water. Plug the drain.
Paul leaves the room to get away from the frenzy. goes back as the din and splashing dies down. turns off the water. only then does it occur that the tub could have been filled first and the animal drowned second. would have been quicker.
the squirrel is dead, mom.
Paul, get that squirrel out of the bath room.
What do you want me to do with it?
It’s up to Paul. Paul takes it to the garbage. The can is full. Another thing Paul didn’t do. Who knows how long since it was last collected. Paul takes it to the basement.
What I can’t remember for sure was how old I was. I hadn’t taken biology yet, but maybe Beth had. Could I have been in the 9th grade already? I don’t think so. Anyway, you hear the talk about learning to read before you yourself are in school and of course you’ve started reading long before they ever start deliberately teaching you. So I had heard about dissecting frogs long before the biology class became one of those places I kept waking up and finding myself in.
Do other people really only live things as they happen? Or is that another conspiracy? To pretend innocence? No matter how guilty the innocence makes you look? The world kept professing how excited it was when men went to the moon. It still talks about it. don’t they read science fiction? I’d been going further than the moon since the sixth grade. is that all they’re finally getting around to? doing it in this stupid and narrow way? show your dick to the russians? nothing more? If there’s anything more, they’re hiding it well.
And another key association. Rudy was a year older than you. Did that mean 12 months? 18? 20? Because it seem like more than a year difference that Rudy had changed incomprehensibly. It was understandable that he could cross the street when you couldn’t cross with him. I was understandable when he could go far enough to have friends his own age, friends from his class. Not just you, the only other boy. It was understandable that he was a genius and you were an idiot. The closer you got to him, the further he moved away. Finally you too started reading his Hardy Boys, his Bomba, his Tarzan. You too photo-memorized his Mad comics. Except that you had them photo-memorized before he lent them to you. Because Rudy always described and quoted them to you before actually handing them over. But now Rudy was showing you stuff you didn’t understand. Didn’t like. Didn’t want to understand or like. Photos of skeletons with flesh. Concentration camps. tattooed lamp shades. awful black and white photos with black rectangles across the lady’s face and nothing across her awful blurry tits. some guy standing in his shoes and socks with his dick hooking toward her and these black rectangles over their faces the only thing clearly or well printed. Your cousin Don had had some magazine with people chained or bludgeoned or holding guns, and black rectangles over their faces. Don wore his pants pegged till he couldn’t get them on. Rudy’s hair could be thrown over his face till it hung to his collar bone. The innocent post war years. But then Don had Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Ventura records.
Everything Rudy gave you influenced you, but there was one thing you wanted to return to him right away. You couldn’t find him. You had it for days. It was a little pamphlet. Paper yellowing, though he’d just bought it. Blurry print. One or very few pictures. And you used to be so impressed by Rudy’s taste. Either the cartoons were extraordinary (EC publications, Bat Man) or the prose compelling (Tarzan is in the pit with the lion and the next chapter takes you back to Boy hanging off a cliff somewhere). But this book was weird. It had one illustration. Maybe more than one, but this is the one you remember. Some how to do it article on self-castration. There was the scrotum, slit open, the teste in the fingers, the razor poised over the vas. Everything labeled. Very clinical.
You take this squirrel to the basement. You’ve never had a dead animal in your hands before. Worms and beetles. The fly you squished on your arm toward the end of summer when they slow down. Never one with blood and fur. You took it to your father’s work bench. One he made himself. And then you had to stand there while he made you a little one. You were supposed to work side by side. Your table was never finished and he never made anything on his. You only remember the time he came screaming from the basement with the blood spouting from his arm where he’d pierced himself sharpening the scissors. Would he have done that when he was drunk? Not likely. More likely spastic from being sober. Or merely hung over.
But all the tools were on his bench. You find a big butcher knife to start cutting the squirrel open. Surely you weren’t in biology yet. Even there, you had to invent the process of dissection yourself. It’s assumed you know how to cut.
Knives are supposed to cut. You encounter dullness. You’ve heard of it, but now you encounter it.
But that’s not nearly so mysterious or revealing as how tough the squirrel’s hide is. You’re not trying to go in through its back, but through the belly. You’ve seen fish cleaned. Even you have seen fish cleaned. You remember the squirrel’s frantic strength. The unbelievable energy coming from this tiny body. Surely you wouldn’t have struggles like that if someone were trying to kill you? The squirrel was far tougher than you are. And now this shield of skin. Force doesn’t do any better the stupid knife just slips. You remember the spouting blood. You don’t need to disembowel yourself in trying to discover the squirrel. It wasn’t just the dissection you could get a leg up on. The end result was to have skinned it, dry the skin, and have a pelt. Maybe there was a scout badge. You had none. Not even for starting fires or anything.
You try a different knife. Nothing works. You try the squirrel’s throat. Just as tough. There has to be a way in. You put the squirrel in the vise. You take the knife and a hammer. You still can’t penetrate. You try the hammer with a screw driver. Doesn’t this squirrel have a weak point? You don’t believe this. The squirrel’s balls are staring you in the face. They’re just as tough as the rest of him! It’s amazing. Can it be? Are we less fragile than we feel? You’re tired. You’re frightened. How easily the knife could have slipped off into you. Would you’re own skin have been tough too? Could the overwhelming agony and helplessness, the total draining of strength and even balance, when you first slipped off your bicycle seat and landed, unheeding for the last time, on top bar of the frame, be illusory? Could those terrifying things not be as fragile as old Christmas tree ornaments, the tree getting barer and barer each year?
I don’t remember whether it was those thoughts, or the vapored intent to find another knife, or exhaustion, and fear of the knife slipping again, but you left the basement. And never remembered the squirrel again till she hit you with it, decades later on one of your reluctant visits. Each time the accusation of how long it had been concerned, quite accurately, longer and longer stretches. Once a year, anyway, you’d go. The attack would begin at the door. You’d try to ignore it. Then the series of long put on hold emergencies, things should couldn’t do without you. Had gone through the winter without the storm windows in. The light bulb needed changing. She’s been in a dark kitchen since your last visit. And in this house a child could change the windows without even having to go outside. Then she’d be nice for a while. Make dinner. The attacks wouldn’t resume again till on the third cocktail midway through eating. Then she’d go to bed and you could drink more of her booze on your own, sleep, suffer through breakfast with her and disappear again.
Mr. Sylvester had to throw it out for her. Maybe there was a stink after a while. If so, he or she noticed it before I did. I’d certainly gone back to the basement again before the passing of years and years. Nothing ever reminded me of it. Gone. Never happened.
What would that besotted lecher have thought? What would my poor squirrel have looked like by then?
Having no idea, I can imagine anything.
you’re a bioengineer. you’ve been ex’ing with breeding the perfect dog: super mutt, intelligent and healthy, not too big, not too small, etc. uh. it’s the end of the world. you have 30 seconds to grab a dog and just get away in your capsule. Do you grab your dog? Or the mutt you started with? The mutt, of course.
Alternate end of world save man and dog scenario.
same situation only your choice now is can you grab the mutt, your experiment, or the real Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, super Chiawawa or whatever? You take Lassie, of course.
Try it with man: you can take King Louis or any random healthy
human. You grab the peasant.
you can take your clone, the peasant, or Shakespeare. You grab
lao tsu and kid. LT tremendously impressed by every huh? whaa? or shrug of the kid’s response to his questions.
what’s the meaning of baseball announcing.
whaa? you mean the old guys in the booth?
yes, yes, that’s just it. exactly, young man, you’ve hit the nail on the head. compete on the filed long enough, and when you finally fall, you fall upstairs to the vallhalla of jock sniffing. you say how good they are, your straightman occasionally reminds the crowd how good you WERE. You don’t have to be killed, under certain circumstances. Till the fans are old enough to all know who you are and have no idea who these young players are. remove the old stag from the fray. give him a title. king, or something. Clear the buffer without clearing it.
you want a blank screen, a flexible program. sorry, we’ve only got machines that do math, that follow whatever breathless stupid shit was fed into it by people who less than 1% knew what they were doing. of course they knew 900,000% more than anybody else. or if not, they are the ones who were doing it. or they’re the ones we recognized doing it. or they’re the ones we had stock in doing it, the others guys are dead in the alley.
achilleus is here, boss. we can really begin the play now. throw the bum out. huh? he’s the real one? Meaningless, the mean the actor from the first production? what will he know about our lighting, our cues?
you can show the circularity of any human utterance or manner or convention or law or morality but freezing the frame for a sec, mentally will do fine, and checking to see how hard and fast any particular “meaning” is. Peter Cook’s preferring to be a judge over a coal miner. Schizophrenic in its literalness. each spring, it seems more likely that I’ll never reach the 500 HR plateau. Which means I’ll never pass the Babe, or pursue Aaron.
Futzing with Mod last pm, I failed to get rid of the tv as a show came on I’ve been avoiding on the basis on the ads: dream street. right after Miami Vice. choreographed gang wars in metallic peach and taupe. blur or erase any supposed distinction between the cops and robbers, then go on presuming some distinction. the flyers of Dream Street looked ill cast and directed. there aren’t any actors who can look anything but ersatz as we imitate the godfather, SatNightFever, Waterfront, etc. No Brando, we’ve got these idiots. Then the American Express ad comes on with Karl Malden looking like the cheapest most untalented schill. suddenly, the show looks good. then it totally grabs me. Christ: it’s a precise illustration of my human medium, quicksand sentence! I’ve got a formula for writing pop crap, as I do for comedy, for soaps.
watching Crocket join illegal cops shooting, other cops, illegal or simply unlabeled, other robbers, etc. I’d just thought of Borgès’ Short Hist of Infamy. the guys shooting each other under the El. his translation beyond authenticity. this isn’t bad. imitative, sure. we want it to be. so was Sh. not wanting imitation, or not recognizing it, merely a sign of ignorance. you want originality? real originality? the best I can do is anti-matter. or to right it in Ur. All the jokes Betelguesian.
please to find a book by Raymond in the local college library. astounded when they offer to lend it to me. looking forward mixes with apprehension as I get catatonic over whether and when to begin it. He had me rolling on the floor with what he read me on his porch in 83 or so when I was there to blackmail him for a favor. on the other hand, I’ve been quarreling with some of the problems in What is the Name since Brian first showed it to me. Years go by, and in the middle of the night, it suddenly hits me: that’s not right. then it hits me. go back to sleep. you already knew that. what do you mean, roosters don’t lay eggs? in the problem presented, they do. you didn’t say it had to take place in this universe.
I open it. its got to be the best. here’s a novel about Godel. god, I told R once about the Model. what if I find it here? His little thing w G reprinted by Hof. was good.
oh boy. i can’t read it. once again, I discover the poor interface between English and math.
then a chess problem. his “solution” is that he’s violated the conventions of printing a chess position. he’s printed it upside down without saying so. At first I thought that it was no problem, it was simply black’s move. No, neither black nor white can have moved into that position.
anyway, reverse algebra, translating “any” to green stamps, perfect logicians, etc. simply doesn’t make readable or rational English. it’s a different, and poorly evolved language, like computerese, goobledygook, lawyerese, etc. Now people who don’t know English think that the job of a linguist or literature expert will be to “decorate” one’s usage. Make plain meaning meaningless as in “wherefore the fuck are you, Romeo?” of course they’ve got it backwards. why don’t logicians perceive the potential efficiency of their own base tongue?
scientific theories, like the scientists who make them, are mortal. like men, some that are dead, are still great. and some of the greatest were never anything but wrong.
I remember some teacher somewhere when asking us, ?: why are there no heroes anymore? It was news to me, but I sure as hell recognized the standard teacher threat in the voice: surely only backward idiots would have a view other than the one I am about to shove down all of our throats!
so, ?: why are there no heroes anymore?
um err, as the class casts around, trying to guess what T wants.
Finally, one or two falter toward some rehash of some Reader’s Digest article that the T has read and T is satisfied.
back and forth it goes. blah blah
so, it’s concluded by all at least outwardly, something has happened, something that has some correspondence beyond the class’s determination to remain, or at least appear to remain, a cybernetic loop.
what good would the following unlikely but alternate version do?
?: blah, blah, why are there no …?
!: several reasons, at least. 1, we agree or pretend to agree (and pretend so long it becomes truer than we think) to have only a complementary and subordinate relationship to you, teach. (that’s because we’re in a management track neighborhood; if we were in a vocational or dropout track neighborhood, the opposite would apply). therefore 2, when you implicitly disallow heroes all of a sudden, we will instantly agree that we sure don’t have any, blushing in our hope that jesus, or ghengis, or bogart, or the mick isn’t somehow showing through our faces, exposing us.
3. we’re all cybernetically reviewing and realigning and revising and strengthening how we’re cybernetically allied with each other (coalitions in which sincerity has no meaning): the words we use have no meaning in themselves, none apart from our cybernetic relationship rehearsal, review, test. you’ve used a term which screams of lack of definition, turn to us with the sublime confidence of a con who doesn’t know that his stripes are showing, and we’re so startled, that we still go along (as I write this, I realize how equally well I could be showing the govt talking to the people), as we wave our arms for balance with this new revision of what we all agree on. So, hero, eg, was something not only which you didn’t define just then, but you hadn’t earlier either, and neither had we, or if we had, we never had any resounding agreement come back. Dear Student: you’ve got a very interesting definition there, which as your president I assure you that we in govt at least will strive to maintain, subject of course to revision after such use.
So as we’re all knocked off our previous pretend balance by your “question,” we cast about, gee, maybe my heroes aren’t heroes, maybe it means something else. whatever he means, he sure doesn’t want any epic inventory from me at this moment. Yesterday yes, but today, the rhetoric is stentorian, we’re about to have a new orthodoxy. The Vicar of Bray, Sirs.
Or Anthony Fire-the-Faggot Foster in Kenilworth.
It’s hard to impossible for me to read Scott. Did people within the same royalist society really talk to each other like missionaries to natives? Or is that just pretense, like we pretend democracy, sincerity, etc.? It took years of picking up and putting down Our Mutual Friend before I ever succeeding in getting through a Dickens novel. Now I can admiringly fill my lungs with the initially unbreathable after only a few hours immersion. Will I ever bother to see if that happens with Scott? I doubt it. It took years to never get past the first chapter of Heart of M. Now I struggle into Kenilworth. I have nothing better at hand to read. [10/3. I’m searching through files to find where I noted my discovery of Scott’s greatness. So far, this is all I find. Where then shall I add what I wanted to add? Did I really write nothing? Just in case I didn’t, or don’t find it, I’ll note that it was a very tedious 74 pp before I started scribbling in the margins. Another man who understood major aspects of civilization.]
X! i’ve just finished printing a letter to CDA’s Neal, the guy I first talked to after first picking up Clive Barker’s latest and seeing my prose under his byline, and bygod, there’s a flyer for some tube show, a guy is looking in the mirror and he keeps turning into other people. then a woman, who sees him/herself looking at herself and closes her robe! 20 years ago I sent my stories to CDA, including In the Park, and next thing I know Charles Bronson is killing muggers through Death Wish, II, III, etc.
Just before that, the old bionic shows get together. These CIA cyborgs are competing on the track as athletes? My god, the ruskies are there too and their girls look like cyborgs too. Those cheats. What about the poor underdeveloped countries who can’t afford to have machines in the Olympics and can only send human beings who come in an embarrassing last at merely human levels of performance?
(jungle closes in image) I bop back and forth between Miami and New York, driving the long road, as if it were my right. If we slip, and there’s still plant life, it will close back up again. the jungle is a good protection against epidemics becoming pandemic. so too would be the desert. so long as we couldn’t cross it. let life heal. man can be in the jungle too.
politico conservatives, no that purse is for our swimming pools in Arizona, our junkets to Hawaii, our inflation in Georgetown, not to send probes to Neptune. Protectors of the cosmos from their own cancer. Is there anything comparable within a lymphalma? Come on, the breast ok, but what do we want to spread all over the place for? There’s plenty of nutrient here.
logic switches, people, NOT gates, stencils, cloth patterns, circularity, short term memory.
watching Robert Redford play a legal eagle on the tube. theater saying it’s theater, redford using reducio and titillating even the bozo black judge. lawyers. you take a kid. you spend a few years telling them they’re smart before there is any possibility they will be able to run their own checks on themselves and on you too. you promise hatred coated over with prestige. you insult the source of the hatred, you’re entitled to the money to pay for the insult to your superiority, your logic, your defense of civilization. then what is this wonderful logic?
pattern recognition. this guy makes sense, but clearly he’s not core, not one of us, the cream doesn’t stick to his whiskers. crucify him. logic is on your side. logic protects the core. relying on short term memory. on people suddenly seeing, let this slip and your property taxes will go up. here, slave, you don’t want anything bad to happen to the master who abuses you, the next master might be worse. which might be true. but can you always rely on the slave seeing his own best interests? will fear always rule him?
but as usual i’m wandering before i’ve gotten to my point. the point is that our professions are like silk-screen stencils. what logic gets blocked out, what logic passes through. several professions, several separately admissible logics. But not all. And certainly no master logic. And the supreme court the supreme (temporary of course) example of Watergate truth. True today, false tomorrow. But mainly you exploiters notice, until we say it’s false and enforce it, you can do anything you want. Indeed you can then continue to do anything you want until the enforcement escalates. Beware only, there’s that random snake eyes that you may be the one to be made an example of. We all speed, but we’re going to come down on you, number 1,346,786,023, like a ton of bricks.
rules. teacher gives you some i before e rule. you say, you really mean it? that’s a rule? always? load up the declaration of independence or shakes or the bible and run an automatic search and replace. then try to read the result. not bad? run it on something else. on a Lem novel. on a chem text. now run the test without respect to word endings, just keep pulling any i that follows any e and keep rearranging them. what happens. a chaotic attractor? just a chaos record? i’d like to try that.
which is more dangerous?: the conqueror who wants to kill a few percent of you so the rest will submit docilely to taxation? or the homebody, so terrified of your conquest of him, his territory, his people, whatever your rhetoric (but we’re promising him democracy; how can he fear us?), that he stirs his horsemen to a frenzy, they attack you. They don’t want to kill 3%, or to tax you, or to govern, or to design your trade routes or export laws, they want to exterminate you, to salt your fields, to raze your cities, to butcher your children.
which is more stupid? now if you only intend to kill up to 10%, if 1% would do, best of all would be simply the terror which would make them open their gates and kneel to your suzerainty, but you’re willing to kill more, the important thing, always, is for them to believe that you’re there to exterminate them, but that their recapitulation would make you merciful, spare a baby boy as you’ve spared the baby girls, … The danger always being that they’ll believe what you’ve orchestrated their belief to be, but will make a preemptive and successful attack on you. You’re not retired from management to a quiet estate in the country or on some island, some Elba, by god, they’re slaughtering you, they’re burning your fields, oh no! they’re dumping your gold into the sea!
so you calculate the probabilities, you call that `snake eyes,’ and you go on with your business. trouble is, snake eyes can come up. even after, especially after, you’ve dismissed it, forgotten about it.
I’ve now watched Wheel of Fortune a number of times. First for 30 seconds at 211 Windsor. Then a few shows after Dana brought up Vanna White and you had that unintended disagreement with her and Ann. Now it’s innocuous. turn it on and make dinner. Dana had said you ought to be on Jeopardy. Now too you know what that show is. Dana was wrong. You very frequently don’t have any idea what they’re talking about even when once upon a time you would have thought you knew the field. Music. First one easy. Even you know who Mick Jagger is and the name of his group. After that, you’ve never heard of anybody! Now you find both innocuous and you make dinner. You can’t really see the screen anyway with the reception in Sebring, particularly not with the interference made both by the computer and the synthesizer which at dinner time you always also have going at the same time. Turn the steak and run another chord. The show has its rhythm. BEEeep. Bankruptcy. How rigged is their wheel? You monitor with the back of your head through a few shows and now you know. Very. Do they pick on particular people? What would real random do to their ratings? Now they favor the class of person they previously discriminated against. Let’s have a black girl win big; then we can shove them under the rug again.
There must be some random, or mostly random, but toward the end of the show, when the stakes are bigger, when Pat spins the wheel, Bankrupt is locked out. or comes up once a year, where for the regulars it comes up a couple of times, preferably early in the show.
What I like best about prize shows, and this hasn’t changed since radio days, is that they always seem to be spending a lot more money than they are. Of course we don’t ordinarily know what they’re paying Pat, or Vanna, that the $25,000 they sometimes give is chicken feed by the time they give it, we don’t know what Merv pockets, or what the rake is to the net or to the sponsors. They advertise every freeking prize and then mostly give it back to the guy who got the plug. Everybody works for the major cosmetics firm. there we never know who. only our sponsors on the show please.
I keep thinking …, especially over the last year, especially since DB, & now the Mod, of the Xian theological implication of the distinction between a scientific generalization and a general or human generalization. we muddle on by probabilities. we’re still here, aren’t we? isn’t that proof that we’re right? it rained didn’t it? so how can you doubt the witch doctor? we have a trillion dollar economy: this administration must be the best of all possible administrations. now if only i could get that stupid congress to spend more of the defense budget through me.
Xity and science have odd things in common. they are both predicated on the stance that mankind was previously wrong about what ever it is that we claim rightness in. We start by insisting on a we/they (not I/thou) dichotomy. science goes on to topple its own heroes. xity stops and does the reverse: the prophets were then; you’re just a dumb believer. so shut up and say your prayers. the jews wrote the B for G, X was the son of G, all inspiration stops there. Except through proper bureaucratic channels. if we don’t trust the pope’s inspiration, then we trust the Archbishop’s. or the Baker’s.
but there’s a loop. also a hole. X is supposed to return. he’s supposed to come in a different time, with a different form, a different attitude toward secular power, his own might, force. we also say that X is always with us.
OK. you see a bum on the street. hell, you’re not a good samaritan, how can you be, you’ve already been quadruplely tithed by the govt before you can volunteer a tithe to the church. it’s getting harder and harder to buy your own son a seat on the stock exchange.
you feel safe going on the assumption that the bum is just a bum. there are lots of bums. X said himself, the poor etc. that’s the human assumption. the general probability. but stop a second. step back. what about the scientific generalization? how do you know it isn’t X? how do you know that you’re not continuing the crucifixion? How will your generalizations sound on JD? Uh, I didn’t know it was him. He looked like a bum. He had ulcerated sores on his shin. Why didn’t he go to the county?
in the east, a number of religions bow to the godhead in each other before they proceed to duel or war or rob each other.
what would such a habit do for Xity?
mathematical fictions. I don’t believe that professors of literature are very good at or in general very conscious of a need for a theory of fiction. that doesn’t mean it doesn’t or couldn’t or shouldn’t exist.
I would like to hear from mathematicians a theory for their fictions. Asimov’s boy doing something once a second. Maxwell at least had the courtesy to say a “demon.” Now Raymond’s damn “three perfect logicians” with some stamp on their forehead. We’re trained in this, to me dangerous as well as sloppy, bullshit from childhood. So we’ve learned to sit still by the time we’re adults.
Now if someone shouts, Adam and Eve didn’t exist, people are annoyed, a few mislead, distracted (because there’s no one present in a position to speak with a good theory of fiction, myth, the algebra of stories. Now if someone said, what do you mean “man”? The mathematician could at least point to one. Maybe to himself, if every body’s a kid, or to a kid if he’s a woman, saying your father. Or to any of them and say anyone of us, generally thought of is the male. But what if someone said, what do you mean “perfect logician”? How easily we “imagine” (ie, suspend our imagination) the impossible. You have to be careful not to imagine the impossible. Here the T can’t point to any of them. Who he defines, one who never make any logical mistake. the kid asks for an example. T is getting pissed off, confusing his inability to answer with stupidity or perversity on the part of the kid. well it is perversity. not going alone with whatever error the group is insisting on is always perverse. Perverse is a social, not a logical, relationship.
now in fiction, in sci-fi particularly, a major point in making the alien the alien or the foreigner the foreigner, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks …, etc, isn’t to say let’s pretend nonsense, let’s waste our time, let’s destroy our reasoning, let’s disenable ourselves for survival, but rather: let’s get fallow a bit, let’s see that our phenotypes are not the only phenotypes, our laws and customs, our culture not the only, in fact, though obviously we’re the best phenotype, the best culture, the best genotype, the best everything, perhaps, if not instructive, there will be at least something amusing in … Gee, now that I look at it, that other pattern too makes sense, given their geography at least, but come to think of it,
… to a more skilled thinker you can say or he’s already saying to himself, let’s run this thought experiment, hmm, let’s run H G Wells old thought experiment again. and how did Shakespeare’s go? who else ran thought experiments on this situation? did they leave anything out? does it need to be recast? translated?
the above makes me think: what does the user of a recreational drug say? implicitly if not explicitly? is that let’s get fallow?, or lets destroy the nutrients in the field? let’s take the organic surface of the earth and render it inorganic, let’s return creatura to pleroma? or this culture is so stupid, so lethal, that i prefer hearing my own nervous system resonate to anything I could possibly hear on Wall Street? or is it the defense of the hedgehog? i can’t deal with this except by curling up in a ball?
hedgehogs don’t do well in traffic, but they flourished for a long time in other ecologies. does the druggie hark back to earlier ecologies? or look ahead to a future probable one? sometimes action helps, sometimes reason helps, sometimes paralysis is best. the guy who survived the Titanic by going back to the bar and having another drink. (the point that i love there is that the population tried more than one tactic. even if only one tried the one that worked.) correction: more than one survived; he was the one who survived by not being on or trying for the scarce lifeboats.
or am i wrong? are recreational drugs, up to a point, like fiction? like sci-fi, hey let’s get away from the particular constraints of our own identity, our own body, our own race/ culture, our own time/culture, our own country/ culture.
neither do I mean that this function of sf is the whole thing. but a basic one.
ling: “as far as we can tell” is implicit before, during, and after any statement of fact, logic, … like the zeros at the end of a decimal (the infinite decimal is the one without zeros at the end), understood as the decimal after any whole integer, etc.
… does it make a difference if you call your first man Adam or Sam? It does once you’ve called him Adam. Or Jamal? It does once Adam and not Jamal has so entered your language.
Does it make any difference if you call the first unknown quantity in an equation “x” or “t”? No, um, yes, because we’ve developed the convention that that’s what “x” is. Then y, then, mno, t would have to come somewhere else in the conversation, dialogue, exposition …
Brazil is the most politically aware of films. in English. Outside, you’d have to count Ikiru or Ran. What’s it all for? Who does it benefit? We see the rulers, the owners: shopping for facelifts, unable to shit without assistance.
What I didn’t go on to include in my letter to MCB: One last word. An alternate, and minority option for survival. Which the world is perfectly free to reject. My experience with universities is, that like governments, they are organized against such options. McLuhan gives the formula.
But what kind of “survival” can I be talking about when I have no money, no employment, no insurance, no health plan? When the message from our society is stentorian: sell or manufacture poison with us and you can earn 6 or 7 figures. Easy. You don’t have to be too smart, you’d better not be too smart, but you do have to go along. We’ll even tolerate you and allow you a moderate success if you swallow even half our fictions, that the system allows for improvement from within, for example. Sure it does. It does that whatever you intend, you’d have to overcome evolution altogether to stop it from being true, and that’s not one of the options. For that, you’d have to control everything, to conquer entropy, you’d have to poison everything, which by definition is impossible.
However odious religions make themselves with their dogmas and priesthoods, there’s still some wisdom in them. In the OT, the jews listen in retrospect only to minority opinions, to the one who went to the desert, to the one who fasted and prayed, to the inside outsider, the raving and ranting of the prophets. It’s also clear that they were just about never listened to at the time they were talking. Moses, the exception. In the NT the tradition continues, the most miraculous of the prophets is executed. Born false witness against. And then deified. The point is in the pattern more than in anything any particular one says.
Isn’t it ludicrous how the Hollywood Xian film looks down on the pagan Romans while their splendor is the main focus of the film, always? And their splendor is always lied about: stone architecture with steel expanses. Rosellini’s Rise of Louis the only exception there. A close and stinking environment for royalty. Louis himself having been famous for the evil of his own stench. The real point being that the jews and the romans led the western world in their law. They were the most civilized, not the least.
It’s like how we parody English colonialism for its exploititiveness (while imitating it as covertly as we can). Sure they did those things. And yes I criticize them for it, but what was the rest of the world like meantime? Morally superior? More innocent, necessarily. But not superior. The victim is always innocent. Seldom superior. The exceptions here being symbolically represented. Jesus, eg.
An experiment that would be difficult to impossible to design, let alone to fund, or to gain access to the relevant data would nevertheless be interesting. Everyone knows the bell curve, right? Our priesthoods justify their existence in protecting us from the down side of the bell curve. Publishers filter out plain incompetence and illiteracy, of which I don’t doubt they get floods. Of course what gets published shows how leaky the sieve is. I seldom find even a science magazine not full of loops and downright errors. The last line of Sharon Begley’s chaos article in Newsweek, eg. How does she know what God has or hasn’t answered? How much gold does the gold panner throw out with the sand? What would finding all the gold do to us?
The St Matthew Passion was found by Mendelsohn wrapped around some fish. So far as we know, the only MS. Had he not found it, we presumably wouldn’t have it. Do people really believe that the SMP will always be found? That we have everything important from the past or the present?
What homeostatic function is served by ignoring Blake in his day even if we now shunt off his prophecies onto harmless grad students? What would be lost by total ignorance of him?
What is lost by total ignorance of what we’re totally ignorant of?
Lem writes of the book unread as being meaningless. True, by what he means by that. But it’s not the same as without existence. Invisible. Maybe dead and gone. Maybe permanently invisible. But it was there. It was ready in case. The biosphere remains populated I believe because of the things that were invisible but were there, ready in case. Because in case always happens. I don’t mean always all the time. Just always eventually. Sure there are more wasted seeds than germinated seeds. The point isn’t to guarantee them germination: but that they always be there. In case.
just saw Top Gun on tube. I don’t know if there’s a theme to it or even if it was the same channel, but last night was Witness, in which if anything, I was even more appreciative of Harrison Ford as an actor who is also sculpture. I can say that about very few: Bogart, Mifune, Brando, … A beauty women can’t, or at least haven’t, compete(d) against. When arranged by Griffith I guess they did. Anyway if it’s a Kelly McGillis festival I hope I’m not missing Ruben, Ruben. To my mind, her smiling at drunken Tom on the train is one of the rarest moments of female beauty. Like Cardinale on the beach in 8 1⁄2. But it’s Top Gun and Tom Cruise I intend to comment on. I’ve long been prepared to dislike this movie. I’d avoided seeing it till now. I needed a distraction, an excuse to eat and not spill soup into the T Plus, so I shut it down and put it aside to play war games. If it weren’t for Tom Cruise, the movie would have been loathsome. The guy is amazing. We’re talking supreme. Like John Travolta in Sat N Fever. You expect jissom to squirt through his skin. I even liked the way the plot turned and he kills a guy instead of winning some prize. But now we’ve got to make it up to our poor hero who now been proven to be human. I guess WWIII will do. Suddenly we’re in the Indian Ocean or some place. Some ship is stuck where it doesn’t belong and we’ve got to go and save it, killing anything that gets in the way of our being in the way. Fortunately, I didn’t know who was who. There were a lot of planes and they flew around. Some blew up, and back on the carrier, Cruise was a hero again.
movie very good on the basic double binds of global powers with their cautious colonialism. it’s the taxpayers’ plane; it’s cowboy’s toy hotrod. rules are for your safety; we still feel we’ve got to trust the proven untrustworthy if they look like their genes, their instincts, their response to the double binds are ordinary enough. the cowboy patriot, it’s ok if he wrecks multimillions worth of planes, they’re really there to be wasted anyway, and scoffs up all the pussy. Maverick. Still obeys an awful lot of orders. Or had to have at some point.
But there was another thread that’s been plaguing me through three tube films I’ve seen recently. TC first tries to seduce KM by hamming up some recognizable pop tune. Then at the end, female fingers put a coin in the juke box & we hear some oldie. After a while I figure out it’s the same one. Elsewhere, TC talks about his mother asking him to play some tune again and again (or was that from another movie?); whichever, the tune was on in their environment. I remember it being popular. Then in Witness there was the famous scene where Ford gets his car radio to work and Sam Cook is singing about being a poor student. Very effective. Tremendous sexual tension, twice you’re sure he’s going to grab her but the upbeat move, when it comes, is part of his dance. He’s not Michael Jackson or Fred Astaire. What he is is just right. Peter Weir filming Lancaster County like a science fiction movie. Alien.
Then recently, Diner. One of the characters has a wife with no concept of how fussy he is about his record collection. And one other thing, TC’s buddy in Top Gun is pretending to be Jerry Lee Lewis as he sings Great Balls of Fire. It’s his, the actor’s voice, or seems to be, so I suppose it’s him banging on the piano, not just him sitting at a programmed instrument. But when his wife slips between his arms, hampering his movements to a feeble waving of the wrist, the chords continue to be hammered out, hillbilly rock and roll. That limp wrist is the great child molester?
Anyway, my point is, Witness excepted as a special case, I sit there and it occurs to me: do you mean to tell me that anyone ever actually liked any of this music? I mean I know it was popular. I know people listened to it. I know money was made. A great deal of it. But it never occurred to me that anyone took it seriously. Seriously enough to … love? I don’t know what species they’re a member of. Or then what species I am of. To me it’s like watching Woody Allen drinking Woolite after losing his sheep. If it’s not satire, what is it?
Can it be that anyone is actually comfortable or at home in this culture? That they belong there? That it isn’t just perversity? Something to torture the enemy with?
I always am alone, but seldom feel alone. I felt alone watching Diner. Record collector gets to observe other record collector as something totally alien. Incomprehensible.
I play Sonny Rollins. I remember thinking what a freak and stupid showman he was, wandering around the club in his Mohawk. Playing from behind walls, instead of standing on the bandstand where he belonged. I know many people disliked his music and others who disliked jazz. It may not even have been simple racism. There are whole areas of jazz which are racist in themselves. It’s an insult, an assault. Deserved, but assault just the same. Now I play Sonny Rollins. Christ, what a genius! How can he be so funky, so down, so fundamental in his blues, but never play the same funk twice? It’s music you can genuflect before. I remember going to the Vanguard, sitting there pissed off, having to pay that price for a second drink because time was passing, it was midnight, and Miles hadn’t even shown up yet! Show advertised for 9:30. I came prepared to pay a little but not for three hours of nothing. Ball and Trane hanging around, shuffling, tuning up for nothing, embarrassed. At least I hoped they were embarrassed. Paul Chambers lurking in the shadows with his female ship’s head of a tuning neck for his bass. When Miles finally came in, of course he didn’t look at anybody. Put in his Harmon mute, played a little bit with his back turned and left. I was so pissed off at Miles, I don’t think I went to see him live again until that night at Baron’s. Now I can’t remember whether the night at the Vanguard was before or after the night at Birdland when I first saw Joe Zawinul with him. But pissed off at the people or not, for good reason, bad reason, or for no reason, there was never any question: theirs was music to be passionate about. Miles breaking our hearts, calling us to prayer. Even if the prayer was voodoo.
If people didn’t like it they were entitled. One can be passionate too about Beethoven or Prokofieff if not attuned to Bach. The world is full of choices. But popular music?
That never seemed to me to be anything more than a perverse showing of rejection for real music. We don’t want passion, we want trivia. Not a choice, but a rejection. Like Animal House.
every authority behaves as though it is to be trusted. everyone running for office acts as though, and possibly believes, that he won’t make the mistakes or commit the venalities he’s accusing the incumbent of. Ditto revolutionaries. The one thing our forefathers were right about for sure as they drew up the constitution, etc. was that history suggests this possibility to be a very poor risk. Dick and Ed the other evening, praising Nixon and North, wishing Bush to be “tough.” Assuming it’s the n-s, the bad guys, the dealers and the wetbacks who’ll wind up with no rights and they with their privileges entrenched. Faith, fine. but with no backing in law. no law at all? just us being right? don’t hold your breath.
some Al Pacino movie: “your father is so proud of you: he couldn’t be more proud if you were a lawyer.” “I am a lawyer.” “What difference does it make? He’s proud of you anyway.”
movie turns out to be called And Justice For All. good movie. spends 2 hours showing justice to be making money, abusing position, and locking up ni-s. in a good turnabout address to a jury, AP equates justice with “the truth.” when even science is none to good at this pursuit, this movie says this with what seems to straight face (though redolent of hidden ironies) to a jury, for chrissake, 12 people, whose only qualification in judging evidence is to be adult, human, and most important, really very revealing, a member of the society. That latter gives the whole show away. They’ve already proved their facility in straining at gnats and swallowing camels by merely being able to show up not wearing a straight jacket in response to a mailing.
would their reliability in ratifying their own absurdity improve or be shattered by being given a series of logic tests? Oh, I don’t mean from just one logic either. all we can find.
how many of us would be capable even of pissing and hitting the can after a series of instructions by Golem XIV?
Rev Al Green (w. Al B Sure) just on DL Late Night. Just before, an amazing production by Kenny Rogers, minor cowboy sci fi, ghost riders in the stars, only they’re from Texas. Just last night I wrote about how shitty pop music is, and here I am enjoying the hell out of two tv prods in a row. And thinking that David Letterman may have the best music environment for musicians in the history (ie my experience with) tv. I used to stay up late to watch Steve Allen cause Errol Garner would be on. Or Dizzy. Or even Basie. And be disappointed. Even big band jazz has always been chamber music to me. Has to be intimate. Much as I loved Steve Allen, DL does have a kind of intimacy even on the little fuzzy tube. The key must be Paul Schaefer too. The guys seem to love to jam with him. They don’t just perform, they hang around. They do the opening with the band. Anyway, Al Green. Was good. I didn’t see the genius I saw in that tv special last year or so when I was hanging around the Carolinas or Georgia or somewhere. Paul S looks to me like he can play just about anything, but I notice sometimes, he keeps his hands off his own synth when, like tonight, Al B Sure was doing the funk.
Remember the night, forget the name of the club, down East, 1st Ave, 1958 or ’59, double bill with Horace and Monk. Monk nowhere to be seen while Horace is on. Horace sitting there, smiling, nodding, grooving, while Monk plays.
Also remember riding subway one night. Some big guy, just out of Bellvue for sure, marching up and down the subway, back straight against the pole, stamp, stamp. u-bout…face. stamp, stamp. big n-, went in for something else since or other than football. while his back is turned, people siddle away. try to be invisible as they trust their feet to leave the car while the train is moving. I’m merely more curious than fearful or sorrowful. I look at him again. Jesus Christ! It’s Theloneus!
Destroyed by madness. And that night in the Composer Room. Mingus, also a big enough guy. Shuffling around, “Shhhiit. mu’fuckuuh. shhhhiiiit.” He stands weaving over Mahegan’s table. Should I bolt? Is he going to tear the place down with his bare hands? Is he very drunk, very drugged, or does he have a nervous disorder? And this is supposed to be a fancy WASP hotel. Central Park South. Mingus teeters over Mahegan. “Shhhiiiit. mu’fu’.” John barely nods recognition. Myron is totally slumped inside himself, a vertebrate trying to go non-. There’s no music; it’s John’s break. Myron has said, let’s go see my teacher. “Shiiit. Gunite, John.” And Mingus stumbles away and out of the club. “Nite, Mingus,” Mahegan answers. Myron mutters something: “Like, yeah.” “GaNite, Mingus,” I call after him, whether silently or outloud I don’t remember.
But tv. Also have to admit, I like this Jimmy Smith guy with the blond hair hanging in his face, the suspenders, grooving on the up beats on SNL.