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 Mudge, Tribal Context

TribalContext

Dear Mudge,

Didn’t work a day in 2019? What did you call that work-a-day drudgery where you slogged, scene-by-scene, through that teencom “Fifteen” for Notes from the Avalon? If that wasn’t work, I’ve got a slew of yard “scenes” for you that need editing (mowing and pruning)…

I like your choice in calendars. I, for one, don’t use one. What future event do I have to look forward to that deserves a reminder or planning? Now, if I knew the date and time of my death, I’d gladly buy a stack of calendars (or just the one) to eagerly “X” off the days. I recall a time-management guru who once said, subtract your age from 80, multiple that by 52 and go buy that many marbles, placing them in a jar on your shelf. Every Saturday, take one out and throw it away. A sobering reminder of the passage of time.

In this letter I’d like to examine the concept of tribes and the context they provide.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that within this narrow context of our correspondence we’ve developed a tribe of sorts, surely between the two of us, but I’d expand the embrace and say there are numerous others who participate in this philosophical experiment—the examination of life’s puzzles and choices, being the focus. And within that focus, were recommendations voiced: movies, books, cartoons, art, etc. we’d be inclined to trust those recommendations. Trust the Tribe.

Other tribes that we might examine are satellite to this one but still important: one’s family, one’s work place, other’s whom you share thoughts of cuisine, travel, hobbies, and so forth. All tribal circles, if you will, that, within their own context, provide valuable guidance in choosing directions.

TomBeingTom, for instance, has his football/beer tribe, a group he trusts to recommend like-minded pursuits and suggestions: restaurants, team sports, BBQ recipes, cheese-dip… From them, he’s unlikely to accept advice on erudite non-fiction books regarding human evolution. He’s got other tribes for that.

In this way, the cultivation of numerous, individual tribal contexts seems like a crucial aspect to developing a working, enjoyable lifestyle. Different peeps for different needs and situations.

Ultimately, it would be nice to have a single context which provides for all one’s questions and accepts, in turn, one’s recommendations. In actuality, just the opposite seems to be the trend, factions of fractions, all with narrowly defined goals and stipulations.

Your tribe selection appears limited. Mine just as much. This tribe of folks here is a strangely time-dominate context, one my wife grudgingly bequeaths.

What are your thoughts on this concept? Additionally, what are your thoughts on how the media has used it to divide and conquer our sentiments and beliefs, and if you have notable tribes, currently or in the past, what might they be and how do you think they influence (have influenced) your life.

New year like the old year, only greyer and slower.

Your friend,
‘Mole

PS: Thanks to Audrey Driscoll for the prompt for this post: The “Why” of recommendations.

 


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 Mudge, Complacency

Dear Mudge,

Does complacency equate to surrender?

In acquiescence do we relinquish a piece of ourselves to the other side? Is compromise a sign of weakness, or wisdom?

I hear your 2019 summer campaign to battle your own existential apathy, which you overwhelmingly won in the completion of your self-made challenge to document, as a sirens call to a muse I’ll never understand—the Canadian teen-com “Fifteen”, has afforded you some well earned, if unexpected, adulation from various members of the cast of that ignominious cavalcade of petulant pulchritude. Congratulations.

I mention your Quixotic pursuit as you, in contrast to my opening statement, most certainly did not give up in the throes of self-doubt and a certain bet against you (your $1000 remains a debt you may still collect provided you adhere to aforementioned stipulations).

And as I mention your triumph, I can’t help but consider our recent epistolary exchange and how we both appeared to have come to the conclusion that living at the “N’th” level was untenable. And that at least the N-1 level must be embraced in order to not dwell in a perpetual, self-induced living hell.

If what I’ve read on your NFTA blog is indication, I would applaud your expansion of N-1 and hope to read of your pursuits along that vein.

I did, however, begin this treatise with another point in mind regarding complacency. One I hope that, were you to once again take up the pen, you might apply in Ningun 2.0, which is, specifically, writers can never let their characters enjoy a drop of extended comfort.

Dorothy can never, truly, feel comfortable while she travels the lands of OZ. Luke may never enjoy perpetual peace. Frodo must forever endure an unrestful soul. Alice cannot be allowed to put her feet up and take a weekend off. Harry’s Christmas platitudes are mere lozenges dosed with laudanum designed to lure us into languid, lazy lassitude in preparation for the next heavy Hagrid-boot drop.

Briefly, we can never let our characters rest. Readers must feel compelled to turn the page to learn what calamity awaits our hero. Constant, relentless trepidation must permeate our writing. This technique dominates my thoughts as I continue writing on my next major novel effort.

In contrast, for our actual lives, I wish you nothing but placid, Avon waters serenity, dragonflies and water-skippers, ribbon ripples and pareidolian paradolian clouds drifting through your country-picnic days of 2020.

Best in the coming year,
‘Mole

DantesHell

That’s you and me at N-1


Apocalyptic Scenario 1.a

I told Brian that I’d write a somber piece for him to read aloud.
And so I did.
And so he did.

Brian’s rendition:
https://soundcloud.com/bmh81/apocalyptic-scenario-1a
BrianSoundCloud

The full post:
https://davecline.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/apocalyptic-scenario-1-a/

 

 


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


Curse you TomBeingTom

I despise these vapid Webby type contrivances designed to stroke the poles of bloggers and web developers since the late ’90s. My walls are lined with ribbons and placards of all the awards I’ve won. To add another is more nuisance than accolade.

(Mole dear, your wall is covered with posters of the Partridge Family, not web awards.)

Oh, right. Damn, that was the life I was GOING to have having dedicated my thirty’s to learning web languages and becoming a published web author. Alas, none of that panned out. I ended up working for failed startup after failed startup. (Geeze, maybe I’m the accursed one…)

OK, OK, here we go: Thanks TomBeingTom for, you know, calling me a female fox and obligating me to reply else I feel the heel and potentially miss the opportunity to flash my programming prowess, albeit, 20 years too late.

BlogEntry

That, my friends, is some of the first C# I wrote back in late 2002 when .NET first came out. And what did I apply myself to building with that great new language? A blog of course, or rather: Web Log, as no one called it a blog back then.

I managed to post more than 500 entries into my custom made blog over the next 10 years until my server’s harddrive failed and I quit trying to fool myself that I would ever win any praise as a developer. A living career, yes. Awards, never. (I did make copies of everything, I’m not entirely daft.)

My first ever “blog” post in January 2003: (I used XML as a storage format — pretty prophetic, no?)

BlogEntryXml

Blogging became more of a personal diary. But after things fell apart, I pishposhed about until I thought I’d better get back in and WordPress was a platform that seemed easy (free) and open (and free) and so I joined up (because it was free) in 2009; or so it says on my account page, I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Anonymole came a few years later in 2012.

The rest is all documented here in the pages of a subterranean gadriosopher (gatherer of knowledge). When it comes to life histories, brief is best. So, in short, I learned to code, made a blog, wrote some shit, the end.

But, hey, thanks AGAIN TomBeingTom for being the first to shine a bright light onto my failure as a web developer. (Kidding) [No, not kidding.] (No, seriously, I’m kidding.) [No, I’m not kidding at all, this is heavy shit. I think I may have to write another letter to Mudge begging to be consoled, placated at least, uncomfortably petted? Ya see, it’s all about bloggers getting stroked!]