Author Archives: desertcurmudgeon

Dear Mole, Pancakes

pancakes

Oy, indeed.  Drawing the curtain on unanswerable existential questions is just what the doctor ordered.  But I wouldn’t know where to fish for the monkey-faced eel and despite my former status as a hallucinogenic connoisseur, I’ve never been able to get my hands on peyote.

Tuition is paid and I’m enrolled in the Santa Fe Community College veterinary tech program.  However, the online curriculum is rather useless until I receive my textbooks in the mail, so I have another day or two of exquisite inactivity to enjoy.

Yesterday, I filled some of that time by watching a few episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program.  This is what I learned:

Aside from a deeper understanding of canine and feline anatomy, this might represent the sum total of acquired knowledge needed to see me through the rest of my life.

I’m also hoping that it may serve to compensate for my lack of substantive commentary about food in my last post.

Boysenberry,

‘Mudge

 

 


Dear Mole: Losing It

oscar

All things considered, it seems quite appropriate that Elvis shook off this mortal coil while his ever-expanding ass was parked upon the commode.

I hope that’s where I meet my end, too.  Such an ignominious farewell is exactly what I deserve after half a century of horrible eating habits.  A few years ago, while I was clawing my way through the vast works of Alan Watts, I came across an essay he had written about proper food preparation and enjoyment.  He treated this subject with just as much reverence and significance as he ever did Zen Buddhism and the erudite skewering of monotheism.  I hate to admit it, but he made a lot of sense.  Food is life and my lazy disinterest in its origins, preparation and appreciation might say something about my relative lack of interest in life itself.  Palettes just don’t come as unrefined as the one I’ve used and abused for almost 50 years.

It may also be related to my lack of a passionate counterpoint to those who take issue with my stated theories.  What you interpret as niceness is much closer to ambivalence.  As I indicated several times on my recent blog of perpetual silliness, perpetual silliness is one of the few things I still value.  I enjoyed putting intellectualism to bed for a while and just letting loose with laughable nonsense far more than I ever enjoyed attempting to influence people’s views along philosophical, spiritual or political lines.  In other words, it was attempting to make a very significant point and that point was that I no longer consider myself to be someone in possession of a worthwhile point.  What’s left after that?  These little bite-sized moments of philosophizing that you’ve afforded me here are more than enough to satisfy what residual curiosity I have left.

Everyone talks shit — all day, every day.  That includes such luminaries as Nietzsche and Einstein and Freud and Gandhi.  They all talked shit — all day, every day.  Those who talk, talk shit.

Thus, a shrug of the shoulders is my new silent mantra.

That’s how I see it.  Others who have known me for a while interpret it quite differently.  They’ve told me so.  I think these deliciously despondent lyrics about lost talent and lost passion from the late, great Neil Peart perfectly illustrate the unnecessarily melodramatic view of what’s happening to Mudge at (almost) 50:

The dancer slows her frantic pace in pain and desperation,
Her aching limbs and downcast face aglow with perspiration.
Stiff as wire, her lungs on fire with just the briefest pause —
The flooding through her memory, the echoes of old applause

She limps across the floor and closes her bedroom door.

The writer stares with glassy eyes, defies the empty page,
His beard is white, his face is lined and streaked with tears of rage.
Thirty years ago, how the words would flow with passion and precision,
But now his mind is dark and dulled by sickness and indecision.

And he stares out the kitchen door where the sun will rise no more.

Some are born to move the world, to live their fantasies,
but most of us just dream about the things we’d like to be
Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it —
For you, the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee.

Heart-wrenching stuff, but I can’t really relate.  In order to fall from grace, one must once have been in a state of grace and I’m not even sure what that would mean.

So here’s my closing query for you: does engaging in philosophy and linguistic erudition still give you a sense of pride or accomplishment?  And if your answer is anything shy of a resounding “yes!”, do you find the composition of fiction to be a way to still scratch an itch, as it were, without getting bogged down in argumentative semantics?

Unwashed & Somewhat Slightly Dazed,

‘Mudge


Dear Mole: Cliques, Clubs, Clumps & Dung Heaps

bc

Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Crow, Apache, Arapahoe…

The reality of tribes is sadly unavoidable in discussing the troublesome “social animal” design (flaw) of our species, but it’s something that makes me feel a little gross whenever I talk about it.

If you interpreted that to mean that I personally find people to be gross, that’s not too far off the mark.

Of course, we all have an ever-shifting assemblage of tribes to fulfill our strange need for a consensus.  As you accurately surmised, my current circle of influence is relatively small, and the most significant constituent of those interlocking associations happens to be a dog.  In high school, I fell in with a singularly bizarre and fiercely independent group of friends who stayed in touch far longer than one might expect post-graduation.  In recent years, it seems we’ve all realized the wisdom in finally cutting that umbilical, but a few remain close friends.  In the late 80s, our common bond was a ludicrous sense of humor and an affinity for partying.  These days, the only sure common bonds that remain are bilateral symmetry and opposable thumbs.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.  Regardless, much of their former influence has proven indelible.

I’ve had my drinking tribe that necessarily moved on once I stopped imbibing.  The specifically non-drinking “recovery” tribe with whom I briefly fell in at that point quickly proved far too insipid and childishly religious for my tastes.  I’ve inadvertently found myself in the midst of other appropriate tribes revolving around punk rock, writing, philosophy, Buddhism, shared political views, and terrible Nickelodeon shows.  I am a person and I am not quite a hermit (yet), so all of this is naturally par for the course.

But as you alluded to in the final paragraph of your letter, the word itself with its newly odious sociopolitical implications makes me bristle at its very utterance.  I remember just a few short years ago, I often found it cute when another blogger would refer to their readership as “their tribe”.  It was relatively innocuous and seemed to foster a sense of inclusion and acceptance.  I no longer find it cute.  It’s gross.

I don’t consider co-workers to be a tribe.  Generating income in a soul-crushing job is the new pursuit of former hunter-gatherers, and the randomness of a company’s staff coupled with the involuntary nature of having to work for a living takes the common bond tribal aspect right out of it.  It can be a tribe if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the company of your fellow automatons, but I would guess that this is a comparative rarity.

People will continue to float in and out of my life for as long as I continue inhabiting this planet.  I try not to attach to them.  Emotional independence is literally all I’ve got going for me.

I also have a very short attention span, my recent monomaniacal blog page notwithstanding.  Usually, within a pretty short time frame, I can extract all the inspiration, education and camaraderie that I seek from a person.   After that, I simply remember them fondly as having been among that rarest of tribes: people who don’t make me want to vomit.  Is it any surprise I’ve never had the desire to marry?

I know that some of this might sound pretty cold, but I venture that it’s true of all of us, to varying degrees.  Embracing an ever-shifting cast of characters while former tribe members necessarily fall off is a form of non-attachment and as such, seems to be a somewhat healthy psychological outlook.

Do you, like me, secretly admire the simple and the stupid?  They may need bigger and more clamorous tribes than you and I, but I also surmise that most of them are considerably happier.  Am I just jumping to arrogant conclusions when I assume such things or do you agree that the bigger one’s intellect, the more potential for depression and existential ennui?

Does my aversion to social media have anything to do with my ever-increasing lack of tolerance for my own species?

Forget that last question, I don’t care if it does.

Fuck Zuckerberg,

‘Mudge


Dear Mole,The Oracle in The Kitchen

oracle

Does complacency equate to surrender?

I must admit that your seemingly straightforward query presented quite the stumper for me.  After several unsuccessful attempts at answering your question as posed, I realized that I view this problem in reverse, asking instead, “Does ambition equate to surrender?” since the world at large seems determined to dutifully fulfill their “societal obligations”, probably owing to the fact that a willful lack of ambition is what’s truly anathema in our collective finger-wagging discourse.  Or, if you prefer, the reworked question could be phrased: “Do you have the balls to do nothing?

Apparently, I do, because I managed to avoid working a single day in 2019.

Every year, I buy a new wall calendar to hang in the kitchen.  Last year, appropriately enough, it was this:

sloths

This year, I realized that if I’m to suspend disbelief and embrace the humanity in my DNA enough to enjoy the new year in ways that go beyond bong hits and iCarly marathons, a different type of wall calendar message for me to superstitiously consult would be in order.  I settled on Rick & Morty, but as soon as I opened it and hung it on the wall, I saw January’s message of surprising and hopefully prescient profundity:

rick

And that’s really it, isn’t it?  When we know nothing matters, which we of course do, then The Universe is ours.

Can’t wait to see what you choose to do with it, ‘Mole.

In A Single Atom,

‘Mudge

 


Dear Mole, Ready Or Not

pagans

Now that the remains of the Saturnalia dinocrow have been swept into the trash bin, it seems appropriate for me to blow off a little steam here on your page which is far more conducive to acute cynicism than my own.

Elevating Pagan beliefs above those of the Judeo-Christian crowd seems a bit like extolling the virtues of Scientology over those of EST – in other words, it feels like an emotional splitting of hairs to select the most suitable fairy tale for one’s innate proclivities.  Regardless, I do acknowledge the comparative lack of aggression in the nature-worshipers of old, and that’s no small thing.

I say that it’s no small thing, of course, because no group is more responsible (aside, perhaps, from former KGB operatives) for the current ascendancy of fascism in the U.S. than those who claim to base their lives on the moral code expostulated by “The Prince of Peace”.  Ironically, these are the same people who scream the loudest about the evils of radical Islam, often referring to it as the most significant threat to our species.  Hogwash.  If these people had any self-awareness, they’d realize that the radical, perverted strain of Islam that inspires global acts of terror is the perfect religion for them.  It’s got everything they love: monotheism, rigid power structures, self-righteous judgment, holy wars, misogyny, homophobia, megalomaniac preachers, and of course – HATE, HATE, HATE.  What more could they want?  I know why American “Evangelical Christians” are so triggered by radical Muslims: envy, plain and simple.  Give them the theocracy they so obviously crave and voila – they will find themselves on the same fertile ground for religion-inspired totalitarianism as their alleged enemies currently enjoy.  And let’s face it, we’re just one election away from that being a reality.

So, yeah, my tolerance for the terminally religious is at an all-time low.

Regardless, 2020 is going to be an interesting one.

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on,

‘ Mudge


Dear Mole, Deconstructing Mr. Ed

mr. ed

For a nominal fee, I would be willing to hop a flight to your neck o’ the woods, casually waltz into your office and kick Prick sharply in the shin, thereby inflicting both pain and confusion upon your workplace nemesis.

Incidentally, that opening sentence will constitute the entirety of my job search efforts for the day.

Now for my Yuletide philosophical head-scratcher:  do you think that any of the “higher animals” are capable of awe?  Establishing at the onset that conceptual thought is something of which (currently) only humans are capable, I’m speaking more of that wordless feeling of overwhelming beauty that we get in our less jaded moments as we gaze upon the strange play of light when the sun sets behind a forested mountaintop.  I understand if this proposition sounds absurd on the surface, but stay with me here.  The male peacock, among other animals, attempts to attract a mate by displaying its dazzling plumage.  The beauty of the patterns on its fan-like feathers is appealing to the eye, but it doesn’t seem to imply strength, health, vitality or any other quality that enhances its chances of survival.  So why is the female peacock so discriminating in her assessment of his “beauty”?  Does this perhaps present the possibility that she has an actual sense of aesthetic appreciation as opposed to a mere instinctual attraction to a practical mate?  Perhaps even some version of what we so loftily refer to as “spirituality”?

Think about the evolution of our domesticated pets.  The reason it’s so common to hear a pet owner describe their dog or cat (or agreeable wildebeest) in the same terms that they use to describe a human child is because we have fiddled with their evolution through selective breeding and training in a way that literally made those species more closely related to our own.  Their emotions and corresponding mannerisms grow perpetually closer to ours the longer they inhabit our homes and memorize the verbal and physical cues of their human companions.  Who’s to say that there is a limit to their evolutionary potential?  Physical adaptations appear in animals all the time – that’s natural selection maximizing survival chances.  Should dogs, cats, pigs, dolphins or horses continue to mentally evolve according to our direction, why wouldn’t it be possible at some point for these animals to develop the subtle muscles and organs required for speech?  Or opposable thumbs?

tina

We were nothing more than a dumb animal once.  Sure, our earliest ancestors already had the potential to become what we currently know as the modern human, but aside from that, the collective intellect had not yet advanced beyond that of the rest of the animal kingdom.  And all things considered, I’m not so convinced that present day humanity is anything more than a potential stepping-stone to something far more advanced, should we survive as a species long enough to get there.

Merry x-mas and all that.

*Grunt* *Snort*,

‘Mudge


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