Dear Mole: Illogical Logic

Hello, Old Friend.

The mountain air is invigorating, the wildlife gives Jesse plenty of critters to chase, and I took my first trip to Burger Boy last week when my niece and her boyfriend came through town. A top notch burger, as expected, but the fries left something to be desired.

There was an episode of the original Star Trek series wherein Spock took charge as commanding officer after Kirk disappeared on some unknown planet inhabited by an aggressive and bloodthirsty man in a silly monster suit creature. As CO, it now falls upon Spock to decide which crew members to beam down to the planet in search of The Cap’n. Of course, he approaches the problem with what he deems to be “pure logic”, yet time and again, those unnamed crewmen lose their lives due to Spock’s inability to factor emotion into his decisions. You see, since the creature itself was potentially guided by emotion and his human shipmates unquestionably so, failure to factor in the possible emotion-driven reactions of all involved wound up killing quite a few very temporary Enterprise denizens whose names you won’t even find on IMDB.

I talk a really good game with the logical, Stoical nonsense, but like anyone and everyone who ever has paid lip-service to this dubious ideal, I’m full of shit. In fact, what is the common impetus for the intellectual “endeavors” of history’s Stoics, logicians, Zen masters, and stone-faced semi-statues? That’s right: an emotional distaste for uncomfortable emotions. By claiming that I don’t experience such emotions or even that they affect me to a lesser degree than they do most people, I am ironically admitting that at some point in the past, I found my own human emotions to be so intense, not to mention anathema to my implausible worldview, that they had to be eradicated (impossible). In this sense, all those years sitting on my ass in front of a shrine of pewter Buddha statues actually represented an emotional outburst, not a pragmatic training of my mind. What’s the difference between the calmness of the “enlightened” mind of the Dalai Lama, for instance, and the defeated stillness of Al Bundy? Very little. One of them actually believes he’s doing something important while the other believes quite the opposite, but the end result is more similar than any of us would like to admit.

On a completely different note, I got a remote job transcribing recorded interviews for insurance companies, which is the same exact occupation I held 30 years ago, but without the commute. And as you can imagine, it turns out that “wasting” a year and a half of my life composing the utterly ridiculous shit show that is Notes From The Avalon served as indispensable preparation for this particular occupation.

It’s also a Stoic’s dream job.

And now, for no logical reason whatsoever, here’s Kage and Jaybels utterly slaying the Beatles:

Goo-goo-ga-joob,

‘Mudge

Dear Mudge, Extreme Stoic Expression?

How ya been, Mr. ‘Mudge?

How’s that mountain air, the wildlife and the local burgers treating you?

I’ll tell ya, it’s been a hella strange mix of spring into summer this year. Weeks of slogging through a dull, mundane existence, punctuated by bizarre spikes of unpleasantness. A crazy ice storm and loss of power and internet. My daughter rushed to the hospital for emergency appendectomy. The ever constant drone of Rust code in my mind and last weekend’s 115F degree heat. And of course there was the month after month of writer’s apathy and far too much television/youtube. Yes, I think one can definitely consume too much TV — life’s emotion and experiences fed vicariously through an aural/visual IV losing much of its punch and verve along the way.

And how can one forget the constant hum of covid news that appears to be finally dwindling. Being vaccinated certainly takes the pressure off keeping current on that front.

These days, I’m feeling around, like a mole probing for earthworms, wondering if I can write my way out of indifference. As I do, of course, I begin to ponder the philosophical aspects of the task. This latest is simple: can a Stoic, who prides himself on attenuating the highs and lows of existence, ever write passionately about anything?

If one never allows oneself to feel the ecstasy or the misery how can one possibly communicate such emotions through words? Can you write of pure joy without ever experiencing ecstatic bliss? Can you write of raging hatred if you’ve never let abhorrent loathing consume you? Even if only through imagination, could a Stoic ever allow himself to drift out of his narrow channel of calm acceptance?

Are the best writers always impassioned humans?

Stay cool my friend,
‘Mole

 

Dear Mole: Media Is Not In Our DNA

I officially “moved in” to my new place on March 28. At the time, I figured that at worst, I had about 3 days of being beholden to my antiquated DVD collection before the DirecTV installer showed up on the first of April.

He never showed up. As soon as the 9 to 5 window had expired, I called DirecTV and was informed that the driver “couldn’t find” my place but apparently hadn’t bothered to call me for directions. So I heard myself do something of which I didn’t think myself capable: I told them to go fuck themselves.

I spent the next 3 weeks essentially TV-free. Sure, once in a while I would throw on an episode of the Trailer Park Boys or Bob’s Burgers to watch while I ate dinner, but I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to entertaining myself.

Last weekend, I picked up a Roku TV and now I have Hulu and Amazon Prime and all sorts of shit I never had before. Problem solved.

But was it really a problem that deserved a solution?

My point is that despite what I would have predicted, the psychological effect of a sudden pulling of the TV plug after years of constant consumption really wasn’t all that significant. My brain simply looked elsewhere for occupation. There’s plenty of wildlife up here, not to mention foliage the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Oh, and one hell of a great local cannabis dispensary within half a mile of my home.

We feel beholden to media consumption because we’re told that we are by the very media that we consume.

Old movies have something of the taste of the familiarity of an old friend. We know the dialogue inside and out and there’s no chance of being unpleasantly surprised by the outcome. But of course, old friends are better than old movies for the simple fact that they’re not static. Surprises are assured. And even when those surprises are unpleasant or contrary to the image of that friend we’d cultivated in our minds, they still contribute to the vitality of life while re-watching old films does quite the opposite. That’s not to say that I won’t re-watch my favorites many more times before I slip off this mortal coil — it’s just to say that when I’m engaged in such an activity, it has about the same effect on my life as a good nap.

But one good thing came of my 3 weeks of nothing but DVD fare on my TV: Letterkenny introduced me to yet another kick-ass band called The Tune-Yards. Check ’em out:

Oh yeah, if you haven’t yet watched The Goldbergs, do so immediately. Thanks, Hulu!

Smooches,

‘Mudge

Dear ‘Mudge: About your addiction to TV

Dear ‘Mudge,

I’ve been thinking about the phenomena of consuming visual-aural narrative and how I believe our minds react and respond to the sequential stimulation they offer. Or, to put it another way, why do movies engage us so?

I’m sitting here watching yet another movie I’ve seen a half dozen times, Wolverine. Regardless of what one’s opinion is of this one film, to me it’s engrossing at times, flippant or amusing at others. It, like its hundreds of thousands of brethren, does something to my brain, it captivates me — for a time.

And then it’s over. The sequence of events completes and what was once riveting, is now just a memory of bits and pieces that only vaguely come to mind when I concentrate on them. Which I don’t.

In-movie-mind is this experience which is different than normal existence. We can think about scenes in a film or captivating television show but these thoughts are nothing like consuming the media itself. Watching one is like being there, in the moment — at least with a good one. And although one may have previously viewed the cinematic experience before, one can still drift into it and relive it upon watching it again.

What is this sensation? Why and how is it different than normal experiential life?

Have you thought about this curiosity yourself?

Does your trailer come with an in-home theater?

‘Mole

~~~

Had to throw in a gratuitous flickpic cuz, you know, pictures ‘n posts.

The Wolverine Review

Dear Mole: Bon Anniversaire!

Whether we employ philosophy, humor or barbaric yawps of self-righteous indignation, it’s all just noise. Distraction. A source of temporary comfort, perhaps, but pragmatically impotent. That’s just fine with me. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you know of a better way to pass the time amidst this vast American Confederacy of Dunces, I’m all ears.

Covid has ensured that Thanksgiving is a wash this year, which is also just fine with me.

So here’s a little Christmas cheer instead:

Fa La La La La,

‘Mudge