Author Archives: desertcurmudgeon

Dear Mole, La-De-Da

annie-hall-3

First, leximize is a superb word in serious need of official entry into the lexicon.  It’s timely, too, since it seems that every year since the mid-90s has seen Merriam-Webster beaten into submission to add internet-related non-words into its formerly esteemed publication, which I believe is the very definition of your newly-coined masterword.

I finally remembered something this morning that made me feel silly for having wallowed in amnesiac depression and disgust these past few weeks: consciousness.  Arguably, the only concept still completely elusive to scientific theory and experimentation due to the fact that the very consciousness that tries to grasp it is it, thus we always grasp in the wrong place because we are incapable of doing otherwise.

Worry not: this doesn’t re-open the doors of spiritual metaphysics; just plain old run-of-the-mill physics will suffice here.  To my mind, there is only one philosophical question left that’s worth pondering: do we create the phenomenal world with our consciousness or vice versa?  This is enormously significant because if it turns out to be the former, then I do not have the right to complain about a single goddamn thing.  If the very creation of my (our) own consciousness rubs me the wrong way, I’d say the problem lies purely in perception, specifically my perception.

My adolescent mind was strikingly similar to that of the young Alvy Singer in the movie Annie Hall; mildly depressive, doubtful and precociously cynical.  I haven’t changed much in 50 years and I think this might have something to do with the habitual orientation of my perception.  In other words, if happiness is truly my aim, then I am the only one that can bring it about and the only tool I need is my own mind.

By the way, yesterday, I noticed that Notes From The Avalon was getting an inordinate number of views from Canada.  Then my follower count went up by 1, as someone new had registered via e-mail.  I tracked the e-mail address back to the Facebook page with which it was associated and found that it came from a small company that offers acting classes.  The owner and CEO?  The beautiful Robyn Ross, a/k/a Brooke:

rross

It’s not Deadpool, I know, but I’ll take it!  See that?  I told you there was a method to my madness.

La-De-Da,

‘Mudge

 


Dear Mole, Misanthropy Rising

misanthrope

I’m glad to hear you and yours had a pleasant Thanksgiving.  Mine served as another crystalline example of the way we make ourselves suffer through forced rituals and tired traditions with people we secretly disdain simply because “it’s what people do”.

Remember that nonsense I recently spewed about embracing kindness to others as a possible fulfillment of my life’s “purpose”?  Of course you do, you just referenced it in your last letter.  Well, it should come as no surprise that I’ve already analyzed the wisdom right out of that vague plan, and that analysis went a little something like this: “The very crux of my current malaise is my utter distaste for the rest of my own species.  I do not wish them well, so why in the hell would I waste my time trying to help them?”

Your son sounds like an interesting and compassionate guy, but I’m probably not the best source to advise how his talents and resources would be best utilized, especially since I found myself involuntarily wincing at the inclusion of the word “spiritual” in your opening greeting.  I understand that you used the word (much as I’ve done, ad infinitum) to poetically describe human connection as opposed to religious belief, but it’s a word that has become anathema to me over the course of the past year or so for the simple reason that it implies the existence of a soul or spirit within each of us and that, to me, represents the loftiest heights of human arrogance.

Before you think that this letter is a complete downer, I’ve got some exciting news to report.  I’ve found my purpose!  Or more accurately, it found me.

The longer I float along without a job, a relationship or even a semblance of a social life, the more my remaining friends and acquaintances react with alarm.  Similarly, and even more amusingly, those with whom I used to discuss Eastern philosophy and other pseudo-spiritual topics are reacting to my declaration of life’s lack of meaning with extraordinary alarm.  They want to encourage me to find a career I’ll love, a religion I’ll embrace, a philosophy about which I’ll write extensively for the benefit of the world.  They want to play matchmaker, get together for coffee to “discuss what’s going on with me”, and it seems that they will be relentless in their collective nagging unless and until I tell them that my life is imbued with purpose.  This amuses me more than I can possibly express.

Do you think that they’re reacting this way out of genuine love and concern?  I don’t.  In fact, I know exactly why I cause such a visceral reaction in my friends these days: those who live their lives “the way they’re supposed to” are slaves to worries, anxieties, disappointments and concerns the likes of which I have washed my hands of and this, frankly, pisses them off.  “Why should that little shit be allowed to flout society’s conventions that way?  He needs to get with the program!”  However, deep down, they all know that I have no such “need”.  It is they who need me to play ball with all manner of societal bullshit because people who speak and live the way I do represent an enormous threat to the imprisoning stories they’ve accepted and embraced about life and how to live it.

Tell me more about your son’s platform.  Despite everything I just said, I’m sure I’ll have some ideas to throw your way.  And while brainstorming these ideas, I promise to pretend that I don’t hate humanity more than life itself.

Tally-Ho,

‘Mudge

 


Dear Mole, Blind To The Beams

A friend that I secretly no longer consider a friend invited me over for Thanksgiving.

I don’t feel like going, but as if acting of its own free will, my mouth spoke the word “okay” in response to the invite.  It would be much easier for me to ignore holidays that mean nothing to me if the rest of the world would allow me to ignore them in peace.  Since I won’t be afforded the luxury of ignoring this year’s arbitrary day to express our gratitude to nobody in particular for whatever in our lives hasn’t yet turned to complete excrement, I’m conserving my energy in order to maximize my ability to act like someone who doesn’t hate spending stupid holidays with stupid people when Thursday rolls around.  That’s not to say that this letter is devoid of a message, it’s just that I’ve chosen to cede the floor to Canadian super group The New Pornographers in the deliverance of said message.  Utilizing the song’s symbolism, I never wanted in and am currently blind to those beams that mesmerize others back into enthusiastic participation.  Happy Thanksgiving, My Friend.

Higher Beams

Just out of frame, with a passenger’s name
Though you’re freight pulled behind
It was always a battle to arrive at the station alive
With all the bags to unpack, all the plans for the future to protect
Because we’ve come to expect the trains on time
A cloud of steam and we’re out of the gate, not a fashionable late
Wearing long sleeves to hide the mark of Cain
Got it when I was young, half eternal, half sung
Play a sour note long enough it’s right
And our finishing moves were fight or flight
The higher beams, that temporarily blind
That change your mind
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Deep in the culture of fear, we all hate living here
But you know when you can’t afford to leave?
So you stay in the lines, navigate the land mines
Should have gone for the guided tour
Got lost I could see what we’ve crossed, I knew the cost
The higher beams, that temporarily blind
That change your mind
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Fuck you
Fuck you for nothing
I didn’t want in
You lost your train, but you’re high on the fumes that are left in the room
When you dream of a team, of higher beams
That temporarily blind, that change your mind
The higher beams that temporarily blind, that change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind

Dear Mole, Six Bills

sasquatch

It’s funny, but every time I think I’ve given up hope for our species, something happens that makes me feel even more hopeless, proving that I had not yet reached a nihilistic point of no return.  This week, as I’m sure you’re aware, a bevy of credible witnesses laid out for Congress in no uncertain terms the unprecedented and proven crimes of the pretend POTUS.  Most dramatically, an ambassador named Dr. Fiona Hill utilized her opening statement to eloquently eviscerate the GOP members of the chamber for propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  And then…to a man, every single GOP member proceeded to double down on propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  This, of course, was to be expected, but after the public hearings wrapped up and everyone in the nation had heard from extremely reliable sources that Trump is an imminent danger to the country and the world, SUPPORT FOR TRUMP AND AGAINST THE INQUIRY WENT UP!!!!

This may finally represent the straw that collapsed the proverbial dromedary for me.   Here we are, as a species, at the height of our potential, able to contemplate incredible possibilities for the future of mankind thanks to our increased knowledge and technological capabilities.  War, pestilence and preventable death are at historic lows.  And yet, I believe we’re doomed.  We’re doomed because we CHOOSE to be doomed.  All of that manufactured “meaning” has become so important to people that proven facts and the evidence of the senses are dismissed out of hand if the reality they reveal is incompatible with our imaginary “purpose”.  We don’t even care if our “purpose” is good, bad or neutral anymore, as long as we have one.  We will, in the very near future, assure our own extinction.

Thank god for that.

In his novel “Gallapagos”, Kurt Vonnegut beautifully illustrated your point about our intellectual capacity actually serving as the biggest threat to our survival.  He dreamed of a process of de-evolution to dispense of the self-destructive potential of overthought culminating in a dumber, slightly furrier version of ourselves with a much greater capacity for happiness.

Out here in Albuquerque, we have all sorts of ancient petroglyphs etched into the volcanic rock on the outskirts of the city.  The residue of the first examples of human self-importance, but no less fascinating for being so.

You make a good point about the weight of a vehicle crushing the organic majority of Colonel Austin’s body.  Here’s another good point about The Six Million Dollar Man: it’s established right in the title that in 1970s dollars, it cost $6 million to give Steve a bionic arm, eye and leg(?).  A few seasons into the show, we’re introduced to Sasquatch, who is also, curiously, bionically endowed.  Who in the fuck decided to spend several million dollars to enhance the limbs of a mythical forest-dwelling primate?  Think on that one.

Fantasy, in whatever form each of us find most pleasing, is essential, for exactly the reasons I delineated in the body of this letter.  Having washed my hands of silly sociopolitical concerns and even hope for my own species, I still largely enjoy the act of existing and this is largely due to my ability to suspend disbelief, with the understanding that I’m doing so, and enjoy the work of other people’s imaginations.

But if even fantasy gets stale, is there anything else?  Believe it or not, I think there is.  Kindness to others, just for the sake of it.  I’m not so good at that, admittedly, but if a challenge is what’s called for in my life of extreme leisure, perhaps this is it.  Do you agree?  Might I not enjoy myself immensely if I fashioned myself into some kind of self-styled modern day Robin Hood?  Or should I just cut my losses and check when the next episode of iCarly is airing on TeenNick?

Again,

‘Mudge


Dear Mole, Bears In Space

mst3k

Silence is indeed golden.  2019 has thus far been my least contentious year of life precisely because it’s been my quietest year of life, hands down.  Like you, I’ve learned that when I just keep my damned mouth shut, unnecessary problems are easily avoided.

We’ve established that most people are genetically programmed to subscribe to a worldview that infuses life with meaning and will often suspend disbelief (or, if you prefer, ignore their faculties of reason) to accommodate such a view without conscious hypocrisy.  We’ve also established that both you and I have a very hard time accepting this perplexing but very common mental game.

In 1983, Lou Ferrigno played the titular role in the film “Hercules”.  At about the age of 14, I tuned in to a showing of this fantasy crap-fest on WABC’s The 4:30 Movie and spent the next hour and a half in absolute hysterics.  Even by early Eighties standards, the visual effects were laughably atrocious.  And Ferrigno’s dialogue was, of course, dubbed.  Take a look at this GIF of Hercules tangling with a bear, culminating in, I assume, the creation of constellation Ursa Major:

bear in space

Yeah.  According to IMDB, Hercules made over $11,000,000 in box office sales.  I’m certain that at least some of those movie goers didn’t show up at the local multiplex to laugh at terrible production values and I’m also certain (by law of averages) that some of those people left the theater feeling they’d gotten their $8 worth, and then some.  But how can that be?  Weren’t they watching the exact same film that caused me to bust a gut on that fateful afternoon in 1984?  Of course, they were.  And those who enjoyed the movie were in possession of a skill that I do not possess: the ability to make themselves believe that what they’re seeing is the very antithesis of what I described.  Kinda like Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists and Sheikhs and Scientologists and Zoroastrians and everyone else whose theological views require a deliberate suspension of disbelief.

But much like “Hercules”, I can discern nothing of substance (save for comically mock-worthy material) in any theological system of which I’m aware.  Ditto for political conservatism.  Any philosophy, be it secular or religious, that requires fear from its adherents in order to function is masochistic and more than a little unhelpful to the potential evolution of our species.

That brings me to today’s question: do you believe humanity will continue to thrive long enough for another great evolutionary leap to occur or do you think that this is it and mankind in the year 2019 represents the pinnacle of our history?  Might some form of negative evolution already be underway as a result of the ubiquity of communications technology?  Is there anywhere left in the Continental United States where a guy can get a decent Ruben sandwich for under $10 and if not, should we even desire for our species to go on?

It’s lunchtime.  Gotta go.

Mumble,

‘Mudge

P.S.  What kind of person uploads a picture of Fred and Wilma to their blog media without immediately and proudly displaying it on their page?


Dear Mole, Indigestion

ozzy

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.  A simplification of the heart of Epicureanism seems to make it align with one of my earliest teenage epiphanies: “The meaning of life is to enjoy oneself”.  Simple enough.  Despite all of my intellectual self-torture in the ensuing years, the only change to this basic worldview has been the addition of the disclaimer, “…without causing intentional harm to others.”  And just like that, Bacchanalia became Buddhism but Buddhism stripped of its supernatural elements is essentially Epicureanism for the empathy-prone.

Going back to the previous topic of why we still adhere to most of society’s rules despite having mentally divorced ourselves from its cultural tendrils, I think we missed the most obvious reason for this: it’s just easier.  In establishing that we both still pursue enjoyment in our particular ways, we also established that we’d prefer to avoid unnecessary suffering.  When one flagrantly flaunts society’s conventions, jail is often the outcome of such behavior.  I’d do terrible in prison.  Worse than most.

My problem with a passionate embrace of a pleasure-seeking life is that very little gives me pleasure anymore.  I eat in order to avoid the feeling of hunger, but I hate cooking and three decades of smoking has dulled my palette.  Alcohol and all drugs aside from medically prescribed weed are verboten (see the desire to avoid incarceration in the previous paragraph).  I still love music, but the way it would shake me to my very soul in my youth is an increasing rarity.  The entire world of sex and romance — once my very raison d’etre — is something I now find an unnecessary hassle.  In other words, despite the fact that I still have a hint of a sex drive, the negatives of dating far outweigh the potential positives.

So I watch a lot of TV and sometimes I even show up here on WordPress and write about shit that I watched on TV.  I’ve already explained my love of passive activities, but TV is also where I gather new material at which to laugh.

What did Epicurus or Lucretius have to say about laughter?  If I possess any skill whatsoever, it’s the ability to find the humor in everything.  It is literally what keeps me sane (and amused).  Would you guess that this love of comedy says something deeper about my need for constant reminders of the absurdity of it all?  Does it perhaps betray the fact that I don’t really feel it to be as laughable as I contend?

You now have a picture of Ozzy sitting on the toilet gracing your blog page.  You’re welcome.  That’s what friends are for.

If,

‘Mudge

 


Dear Mole, MY Brows

allan-sherman-my-son-the-celebrity-ab

My apologies for the late reply, but I spent the better part of Veterans Day partying large.

I’m afraid that’s where my contrition ends because contrary to your assertion that I went straight for the jugular, I intentionally led off with the God thing precisely because its origins and illusory psychological pacification are easily understood.  I say “illusory” because I have known some patently miserable people whose stated faith in God was ironically unshakeable.  Take my late mother, for instance.  Though you’d be hard pressed to find someone as obsessively and devoutly religious as she, the adjective “happy” was rarely if ever applicable to this long-suffering woman who, in retrospect, was simply a victim of bad ideas passed down through the ages.  The only other thing in her life to which she devoted an equally impressive amount of energy was house cleaning, something she did so obsessively in order to give herself the imagined feeling of control.  Now why would someone with such an iron-clad faith in “God’s plan” feel the anxious need to exert maximum control over her surroundings and pore desperately through her random thoughts for ones that might have originated with Satan (or as Mom so quaintly put it, “The Devil”)?  Because at a base and perhaps subconscious level, Mom, like everyone not suffering from a severe learning disability, knows the doctrine of monotheism to be patently ludicrous.  Not once did she ever consciously admit this to herself, mind you, but the primordial doubt existed in her just the same.

I’m sure you recall that in the past, this is where I would take this uncertainty and spin it into a very spiritual-sounding, pseudo-scientific metaphysical and holistic view or, as Alan Watts so frequently did, make the implication that each of us IS God.  While there is room enough for such a vague and non-dogmatic spiritual infusion into an otherwise science-based discussion, is there purpose enough?  Nihilists believe that experience and consciousness cease at the moment of death.  Curmudgeon of Old convinced himself to believe that only the ego or the personality/memories of the individual are extinguished at death but that an undefined karmic connection still ties what once constituted “me” into the larger cosmic dance.  Now think about the upshot of both of those theories and you’ll quickly understand that despite a vast difference in tone, they are identical.  Nothing is nothing no matter how poetically one attempts to describe it.  Thus I was presenting myself to the world as essentially a “spiritual nihilist” which isn’t just ludicrous, but laughably so.  Regardless, each time I did say such things, I did so within accepted societal, cultural and of course, WordPress parameters.  As you so astutely noted, I was working willingly within society’s rules in order to eviscerate society’s rules for the benefit of…society?  Whew…what a shit mound of nonsense to unload.  Since I’ve obviously decided to approach your question from an experiential standpoint, I will need a bit more time to ponder your query and perform a bit of self-psychoanalysis.

It is, of course, improbable that we won’t find a way to spin back around to the notion of God in our ongoing correspondence, but at least we dispensed of its overstated magnitude right off the bat.  I say “improbable” because if there is any commonality between us, it’s our shared disgust for the intellectually barren and the willfully ignorant.  And that was as fine a segue as any for my question to you: regardless that we both seem rather mired in existential exhaustion, why do you think we’re both still capable of being triggered by the stupidity of others?  Doesn’t such aggravation imply that we believe things could be different, that people really could collectively pull their heads out from betwixt their asses if we just whine about it loudly and persistently enough?  What do our reactions to stupidity and ignorance say about us?  If we were as jaded as we both claim to be, would either of us have the wherewithal or even the slightest desire to put pen to paper?  Am I getting close to what you meant by self-inflicted jadedness?

I originally planned to close out this letter with a profound quotation from Alan Watts, but then I realized that would be pathetically typical of me.  Instead, let’s ponder some deep thoughts from the late, great Alan Sherman:

Counting both feet, I have ten toes – they’re not lady toes, they’re men toes – and I keep them as momentoes, for I love them tenderly.  On my face, two eyebrows – they’re not your brows, they’re my brows.  Behind those eyebrows – that’s where you’ll find ME!”