Saturday, October 25, 2008

The part of love that's better than sex

If there is not at least one person to whom you would literally never lie, one person to whom you fiercely and at any cost, present your truest self in every moment and circumstance, then your life is shabby, a string of compromised amusements, a toying with the devil as he grooms you for his version of eternity.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Which troubles do you carry around lest others suffer and which, if you set them down would not require that anyone else pick them up, would in fact, cease to exist?
There are burdens we think we carry which are in truth only shrines to a past we foolishly wish to change.


I had imagined when I set out to write, that my words would be the cairns and guideposts I had found and revealed to lessen the missteps and troubles of others who travel through life.
What I have found on reading the words later is that they are more often just tracks left in soft earth by yet another soul lost in this wilderness.
There is a simple solution to this problem of conditional wisdom with its tendency to be as fleeting as its context: humbly embrace wilderness as our natural state. Know that a sense of being lost is a more realistic adaptation than a sense of certainty of your place.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

labels explain nothing.

If applying a label to some person or problem gives you as good a feeling as if you had come to a useful understanding of the are screwed to the ground and cannot move any farther.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Beyond labels, not beyond redemption

Looking forward, as we must now that a change for the better is likely in November, I begin to think about who will be on board and who needs to be on board in order for Obama to successfully enact much of the repair and reallignment he promises. Lincoln Mitchell posts his view of this prospective new government at HuffPo but I am wary of strategizing in strictly partisan terms. I prefer the vantage of HuffPo editor and general journalism maven, Thomas Edsall who, seeing that we can only go forward from where we already are, bids us look at where we are.

Looking back over my words of the last week or so, I am embarrassed at how many times I have written as if "Republican" or "conservative" was a specific and uniform moral disease, one I seem to presume stems from ignorance and congenital viciousness. And while viciousness is lately much in evidence at Republican political rallies, I still have to admit it is a stereo type that does not fit all who call themselves Republicans. It does not matter whether in pain or in enjoyment: I wrote in fits of sarcastic anger that blur into reflexes, as if the stereotypes, by explaining the brutal wrongheadedness that offended me, were becoming cherished beliefs about an entire group of people. Reality eludes the self-assured. In a calmer and more considered view, I admit that in order for Obama to win convincingly and in order for him to govern effectively, as we desperately need him to do, a few Republicans are going to have to pitch in. Whether they still call themselves Republicans at that point is a stupid thing on which to stupid as fretting over what I call myself.

I don't have much trust in labels of affiliation despite my partisan bluster. I have said, or at least repeated what others have said often enough about Obama: he is seldom tagged with the label I most prefer to wear: Progressive.

Fascist is another word I have slung but trust me, I do not use it lightly or in hyperbole. The standard motives and the social stresses that competent historians point to as fertile ground for a nation's transition into fascism are here. The Wagnerian motifs play softly in the background but are always around. I am not talking about skinheads either. Go to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and spend a day studying what quality of people can be brought in line when fear is mastered as a political tool. The first thing you must have is merely a population that disdains introspection about its own part in the problems that beset it. Such a population would embrace a wretched rash decider rather than a Hamlet-esque leader like Kerry who burdens himself with awareness of the divergent alternative views and priorities that contend for preeminence. The second thing that greases the slide toward fascism is a body politic that is easily numbed to the injustice or suffering of others, and more basically, just given to viewing any ethnicity or other identity category as "other", as "that one" or "one of them". When we shed the inconvenient truth of another person's humanity, their equality and their entitlement to life and liberty are empty words, if even that, to the mob given to fascist emotional politics. I use the term in dead earnest.

Generalizations about the character of political antagonists are rarely productive but how desperate is our need to understand why others take such destructive views and adopt such hostile attitudes! Often and mostly in vain, I have tried to analyze in my posts here what wrong turn a conservative takes. There is little hope of succeeding in that analysis since consevative is merely a label and vast disparities are lumped into the category, even when it is self-identification. Take the sad Mr. David Brooks for instance, who is a world away from the politics seen of late in the hustings of the Republican nominees. His job has shrunken with the prospects of his favorite politcal party so that now he works chiefly as an apolgist. He has been honest at times, such as in his dismay with Palin. But in his latest stab at the fuller view of a national political discourse, he both makes and mauls his case for cooperation:
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

"pointy-heads"? Way to go, Brooks. If you can't see any better than that, how do you expect to be seen?

With which of the parties accross our political spectrum can I still have meaningful dialog, with whom can I still work...and who is beyond redemption? None is beyond redemption. Sad to say, all that is on display in our politics this season is basic human behavior. But those who need redemption will not heed me. They must redeem themselves. We are easily led into error and anger and those who would lead us there for their own ends are profoundly irresponsible. There has been a decline approaching complete absense of getting to know our fellow citizens. There are better ways to meet the "other" guy than political rallies.

a correlation observed

Ever notice how your "low information voter" turns out to be your "high emotion" voter?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

To spare myself from a tempting generalization

You don't have to possess a low IQ to prefer an oversimplified description of circumstances.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The learned discourse of American Politics

How do you cast doubts and aspersions on another without causing the listeners to reflect on your own character?

You get someone else to do the dirty work. There need be no substance at all to an allegation if it is not coming out of the mouth of the candidate.

That whole mode of campaigning seems convincing primarily to the weakly informed and uncritical listener who is glad of any support for the preference with which he is already stuck.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Biology and Philosophy 101 for the lower 48

If you are grown up enough to make salutary use of news which is humbling and sobering, then Mr. Darwin's notion is as personally tonic as it is powerfully explanatory of biodiversity. It invites you to reflect that all human history is but our moment on stage in a plot with an infinite chain of murderers being murdered. You cannot begin to count the designs which seemed invincible in their time and then, cued by a change in the weather, became mere stony clues for us to study.

The "for us" part you may question, but only in Philosophy 101. The notion can't possibly care or have favorites. The notion itself you may take as good reason to leave any god out of the picture or as reason to conclude that god finds the unprepared unnecessary and stasis boring as hell. The notion does not care what you think about questions of its authorship or purpose. You have no factual refutation of the notion, even if you are from Alaska.

You would expect folks who can handle life in Alaska to regard people in the warmer 49 states as weaklings, good for a tourist dollar but full of useless advice. One way they show their disdain for our opinions is by the kind of politicians they send down here. I certainly don't believe everyone in Alaska is an idiot or a corrupt bumpkin, but what a harsh sense of humor they must have to rid themselves of the feeble minded by electing them to office and sending them away to Washington for the rest of us to scrutinize.