Category Archives: Society

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!”


Dear Mudge, Dog Turds

Dear Mudge,

You find me well if also jaded. The jading, I must admit, is my own fault.

You mentioned the concept of God in your last correspondence. Ha, you don’t start with the small things, do you? Right to the heart of the world with you. Why God, you ask. My personal observation of such a question comes down to two connected concepts: ignorance and power. I think I’ll focus on the first.

Neil deGrasse Tyson presents the best, if rather long video on the topic of God and ignorance.

Essentially, at the edge of our understanding, where ignorance begins, humanity chooses to believe in a fabrication rather than to let the absence of information dwell.

I attribute this grasping at an impossible notion to originate from three separate sources.

  1. Stupidity. You know I drone on about this, but half of the population (nearly four billion people) is cursed (blessed?) with an IQ of less than 100. The concept of “God” is certainly an easy one to adopt, don’t you think? These folk may not be capable of believing in anything but.
  2. Solace. The Absurd Universe it a cold, callous and uncaring thing. A God that listens (we assume), that periodically grants wishes (serendipitously), is everywhere, knows everything (of course!) would be a helluva lot better shoulder to cry on when your parent, child, or (gasp) your dog dies. A meaningless universe less so, no?
  3. Stubbornness. You have the smarts, you’re not suffering, yet still you cling to dubious dogmatic doctrine. These folk, I’d wager, have emotional investment in a deity they just as soon not abandon.

Geeze, listen to me blather on. It’s your own fault you know. Flip on my analysis mode and I’m off to the races.

I mentioned that my own jading being self-inflicted. The above theories on religion are a perfect segue to my listlessness. Were I one of the above mentioned peoples I’d at least have an adopted, if false purpose. Having analyzed my way out from under all such nonsense, however, I’m left with that indifferent universe staring me back in the face. Jaded? Yeah, against my own existence.

But, let’s not get so mired down in such talk. You responded with a set of pastimes that bend your mind away from your own personal void: humor, music, dogs and weed. My own dog, Katie, a dedicated Labrador, gone these last six years, and I were a team. The one topic I feel compelled to discus is feces. I taught Katie to “party large” before we went beyond our yard, walking the ‘hood.

Rather than say “go pee” I opted for a humorous “party”, to which she’d oblige me. Party large came later, but no less successful.

In a society where dogs must be walked and shit shoveled, else crap coat the soles of shoes everywhere, what of the tragedy of the commons? That is, even those of us emptied of meaning, sucked dry by the absurd universe, still find ourselves adhering to society’s rules. Why?

It’s finally getting cold and weathery up here in the Northwest. October was a banner month of cold nights and sunny days, perfect for walking (albeit dogless).

Your friend,
‘Mole

BlueLeash


Dear Mole, A Potato Has No Inertia

gene couch

Dear Mole,

Your missive finds me well, albeit chronically jaded.

The word jaded makes me think of mopey teenagers, but to my knowledge, there isn’t another word in the English language that more closely aligns with my current state of utter contempt for the vast majority of concerns most people consider vitally important.  Don’t even get me started on “passions”.

I share your enjoyment of good licorice, excepting those nasty, vaguely licorice-flavored, syrupy liqueurs that the Italians seem to enjoy so much.  I’m of half-Italian descent, so back in the day, if the only spirits available were Sambuca or Anisette, I’d drink it begrudgingly, enjoying the alcohol half and barely able to stomach the essence of Good N Plenty half.

It’s funny you should ask whether there are any simple pleasures that I employ to counter my debilitating ennui, because just this morning, I thought to myself: “Would life be worth living without humor, music, dogs and marijuana?”  This rhetorical question didn’t pose much of a conundrum, of course, since my answer was a resounding “No!”  Nowadays, I almost exclusively enjoy passive pursuits.  I can watch TV, listen to music and laugh at idiots without expending one iota of precious energy.  If it weren’t for the dog and his curious desire to get out for a good run every now and again, my muscles would probably have atrophied months ago.  Though I’ll only be turning 50 next year, I already feel exhausted and done with most of life’s pursuits.  Romance?  I suppose I had a good run, but those days are over.  I’m just too tired and antisocial and not particularly libidinal.   Writing?  I think I blew my wad on that pursuit – when you complete something as monumental as Notes From The Avalon, there’s really nowhere else to go from there.  But all kidding aside, my passion for the careful arrangement of words was never about the writing, but the topics about which I wanted to express myself.  There are no such topics left.  Philosophy, religion, politics, psychology and sociology no longer hold any fascination for me.  They are just fancy words for homo sapiens’ ludicrous and futile attempts to convince itself of its invented significance.  So what’s left?

Besides the aforementioned pleasurable time-wasters, there’s observation.  I still find being a passionless, impersonal spectator of humanity’s cornucopia of absurdity to be an outstanding way to pass an afternoon.  The Human Zoo.

Since I’d bet dollars to donuts that you are also an avid observer of human foibles, I’d be interested to get your thoughts about one of the most ludicrous notions mankind has yet concocted: the notion of God, with a capital G.  A personal, emotional, jealous, capricious supernatural entity responsible for the creation of all that is.  What could have given us such an idea when there is literally not one scintilla of evidence?  And is this related to our desire to pay undue fealty and adoration to human authoritarians?  Nothing is quite as odious to me as a power trip, no matter the motivation, but I seem to be a rarity among my kind for feeling thusly.  Why do people feel compelled to elevate others to positions of extreme power and authority and then clamor to publicly display their sycophantic feelings?  To me, this is the equivalent of enjoying the application of a jalapeno enema.  I know you have a pretty good grasp of the human psyche, so I hope you can shed some light on this question.

Cheers,

‘Mudge


Dystektopia

Momma Path straightened up from her work in her garden and tapped the screen attached to her wrist. Down the road, she’d heard the driverless shuttle squeak to a stop and expected young Nicholas to come running up and around the house to find her minding her rows. When he didn’t show, the GPS pinpointing his Patch-Trak flashed his location—cousin Ben’s house across the small Appalachian valley.

Oh, that’s right, Friday night at Ben’s.

Despite the shift to being a Ward-State, the country’s school calendar remained stuck in the 1800’s. Summer became a free-for-all and Momma Path’s large farmhouse and barn transformed into school-age-mayhem central. One more week and Nick and the others will finally help me sow our greens and victuals.

At eighty, Polenna Path had, as most folks who shared her geriatric tendencies, benefited from guv’ment’s research and subsequent distributions of “health-gevity” programs. “Healthy to the end,” had been their chorus. Little had they realized, that for most, the end now came much later in life. Her morning ritual included twenty minutes of exercise and scrounging through her weekly Ward package looking for the bright-yellow blister packs and gulping her dose along with a peanut-butter protein bar that came as standard fare.

She set fists to hips and regarded her plot. A quarter acre cordoned off from the deer and rabbits, tilled to uniform rows, with the heads of corn and squash seedlings leaning toward the early June sun. When her wrist chimed, instead of glancing at the screen she spoke openly.

“Who is it?”

A guv-droid voice, sounding like the historical filmstar Julie Andrews, spoke, “The caller is Regina Walker, Ben’s mother enroute from her residence.”

“Accept. Reggie, how are you dear? I hope Nicholas is behaving himself. I’m sure those two are bracing themselves for next week. I only…”

“Momma Path, what do you mean? I thought Ben and Nick were going to spend the night at your place. I see Ben’s tracker, he’s right there on your front porch.”

~~~

100 years into the future, technology’s promise has been fulfilled. A form of UBI, Universal Basic Income, has been implemented, funded by the incredible advancements of work automation. The United States has become the fifth nation to implement the Ward-State. Those who wish it can work as they like, educate themselves as they see fit, pursue pastimes and the arts to their heart’s desire, in a word, retire. Ward benefits include medication, food and a stipend for housing, clothing and sundry needs.

Capitalism’s strangle hold on the working-poor has given way to government managed communalism. The financial cast system continues to influence the lofty regions of political office where only the richest of the rich believe they still hold sway. In general, however, corporate entities innovated themselves out of their own profits — they automated themselves out of existence.

Momma Path has witnessed the change. She welcomed the release of worry yet still distrusts the surveillance state she knows watches her every move. Today, that distrust proved critical.

 

 


Bow to your overlord: DNA

Just a brief “you should read this” note about Tim Urban’s Wait but Why site (a continual classic) and a series he’s been producing about society.

The Story of Us: Full Series

It takes hours to read, thoroughly, but worth the payoff. He exposes some clever, insightful glimpses into human behavior, couched in a Twinkie-consumable format.

I recommend it.

My personal favorite, a topic I’ve mentioned here before, DNA is our master.


Wouldn’t it be fun – to believe

In anything.

Everything.

It doesn’t matter what. Believe in fairies, pink elephants, ET, fusion, equality or Gods (take your pick). Believing is what matters. It’s the charm that tingles your bones. It’s the glitter in your eyes, the spur that kicks you out of bed in the morning. Believing—in anything—would be a relief, a welcome relief, to this vacuous hole that sucks continuously at my spirit.

Well, not so continuously. Sporadically, now, I’d say. From time to time. Why this inconsistency? It’s a cycle. Times are better for me right now. I’m afforded a respectable distance from the Absurdly Universal Void that beckons all matter and energy. I’ve got other things to occupy my mind, like Stewie the Stoic and Seneca’s bloviating blathering about death and age and Epicurus. (Seriously, Seneca wants to “do” Epicurus, if you know what I mean.)

And, not that I *believe* in anything at the moment (otherwise, you know…), but I can *imagine* believing, slipping a ladder rung or two down the “I’ve discovered Oblivion and it is me” climb I’ve taken up to the elevated view of The Nothing.

Down here, where the believers live, I’d imagine that they are happier than I am (generally). They have purpose, regardless of how futile it undoubtedly is, (they don’t care—or know—how futile). A Purpose is what they live for. Why they wake up. Why they brush their teeth and put on shoes and kiss their children. They Believe.

I think that would be fun. Sometimes, I even think I’d like to abandon this Nietzschean view of existence and join them. But…

Once you’ve seen The Nothing, you can’t unsee it.

But, you can ignore it. Find alternate diversions to take up your time. Archery, cats, archery & cats, knitting, knitting cats. You get the picture.

There are thousands of diversions one can adopt. And, for a time, believe in them, their purpose, their reason for existence… shhh, don’t say it, The Nothing is listening.


Who am I-I am who

I used to bound joyously over the pages of the ancient 1990’s internet, discovering this and that, delighting in what I found, where I meandered.

That ability, that nostalgic stumbling is long gone—swallowed by the ugly corporate-ness that the internet has become. But there are times when serendipity prevails and the blog-o-sphere renders a hitherto unknown flashback to a better, more innocent time.

This is one of those times.

http://www.aiportraits.com is a clever, engaging trip into self-indulgent evocative portraiture. Below you’ll find me, portrayed as only a computer can see me. Can you dwell into my soul? Can you sense my stoic crawling along philosophy’s garden walk?

Give it a try. It’s a fascinating way to re-imagine oneself in another age, another life, pursued by unknown lovers or enemies.