Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Best Shower I've Ever Taken Is Always My Most Recent Shower

The best shower I've ever taken is always my most recent shower; I'm exceptionally grateful for hot water and those before me who made it not only possible, but effortless. In a slightly similar vein of thinking, and something that causes me pause and deep reflection: anyone's problem is everyone's problem. We can isolate and rationalize, and there are definitely folks who reap their negative sowing (and calling them out for it is just a form of rationalizing), but at 7 billion, everything aggregates. Sometimes those ripples cross geographical barriers and cross generations, making them difficult to see, but they ripple nonetheless. It's soul crushing for an individual to take on the burden of 7 billion, and it's certainly not feasible, but what is the consequence of doing nothing? What's the consequence of acquiring power and/or money (or both) and not only doing nothing, but seeking out the weaknesses of others and calling them out for it? The aggregate good! -- perhaps it's impossible, perhaps nothing quenches the individual's absolute thirst for survival. I've always assumed the human brain evolved to transcend its own biology, but if we are just someone else's lunch, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to extend life, and that may be the most unnatural activity on our planet.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Revisiting Reticence

I thought about it the other night, slightly ironically, all night. Reticence. Sometimes there's just so much to say, so much complexity and the words just don't exist or I just haven't learned them. Or, they do exist and I have learned them, I just can't articulate them outside of me. Or, perhaps, some things never get words and there you go! Aggregate knowledge is mind blowing -- every generation, nearly everyone, layers on and on and we are going somewhere but aggregate knowledge does not manifest the goal. So what then? I re-read letters from twenty years ago and some of those conversations were so close to something remarkable -- it's almost like everyone I've ever met was always just so close to something, if only they could have a small bit of guidance from their future selves -- maybe that tips the balance to greatness. Even more maddening is that a suspiciously similar, if not exact same boat sails today and we are all in it, just further down the continuum, needing something that will never arrive in time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

It's Probably True That Drinking Leads To Better Writing

It is probably true that drinking leads to better writing, but, like anything, you can always flip it around and look at it from the other perspective. But humans, as humans do, don't really like to flip things around and consider. It's always veni, vidi, vici, even if it's to get to the end of the bridge first, on a bridge and in a car that you did not design nor build (but that wasn't considered). At least the radio is loud so your import is not lost. Writing is goddamn painful! And writing leads to better drinking. Full throttle everything always leads to a wall and, like physics, walls always win. At the end of the day, if you've acquired enough wealth, even if that wealth was acquired sans power, someone will consider you great. It's awesome man; I just can't wrap my head around the falsity of it all. I guess we are too afraid of illness and death -- and no doubt, rightly so. But it's silly, there are so many great people out there, humble, unrecognized -- the cogs in the wheel to others' success, to everything. The keepers build the shaft and the takers get the gold. It sounds a bit like a Jerry Reed song -- a good, humorous place to stop: Go fast, don't consider, and may your holdings compound annually at a rate greater than 10%.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Unassuming Gets You Nothing

Funny title, ha ha! I mean it's not like we are living on a giant ball of rock and iron somewhere in the middle of outer space (metaphorically middle, have no clue if we are middle, edge or somewhere in-between) -- no reason to ever take a step back and ponder a bit. 

I'm always open to enlightenment. There are always lessons in someone else's perspective. There's always someone who has jacked things up well before you -- and that's a thousand dollars right there if you can glean the lesson from the jacker before you do the jacking. Don't get me wrong, there are bad enlighteners, but that's inherently enlightenment. It's iterative. But then you get the unassuming label and you lose the thousand dollars you just gained a few sentences back. That's also iterative.  

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Equanimity? Or, Mental Immobility By Free Association Overdrive?

A Robert Pirsig quote from an interview with him:
"A person who follows the dharma is unpredictable because the dharma is unpredictable. I better get scholarly here. There are two dharmas. There is the written dharma which is all the laws and rules - and there are a lot of them - but Zen emphasises the unwritten dharma and to know that you have to forget the rule book. People naturally feel that Zen ritual is bullshit, and I remember Suzuki saying: Yeah, I know, but it's true anyway." 
Yeah, I know, but it's true anyway. I ❤️that. I'm not scholarly but if you meagerly poke around the internet you'll cross up Suzuki with Greatly Clumsy. I ❤️that too. If each of us can be a small but not insignificant conduit to success to everyone else around us, then we got a mesh and we can scale this thing up. You gotta be a shining light because you never know who's going to riff off of your brightness, however non-bright that may feel. 

As for great humility, how else is there to live? The more you suffer and/or the more you see others suffer -- the more you travel the road, the more you endure, it's just a plump bushel of perspective and there's a lot out there to consider. And, arrogance! Arrogance is just blindness to opportunity (someone should quote that). The moment cannot be more enjoyed by the 100-millionaire as it can be by the proletariat (or someone being tortured if s/he can dig really deep). We've veni vidi vici'd ourselves until all the cows came home (and went back), but how many moments just flit by and what's the cost?


(ed. note: It's been a long week and I've been editing-before-writing way too much: it's a disease! I feel like I am writing 3 or 4 posts in my head at once and it's just killing progress. So apologies for the delay, but my rekindled journal is not dead, back on the horse and ride.)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Problem With Nuanced Arguments

Intent and integrity don't hold a candle to marketing and self-gain -- either you believe that and take advantage of it or you don't and you get taken advantage of -- oh the beauty. 👈 This sort of reasoning is old style "y'all can't all be wrong" and I don't like to dabble in it. But, I can and do promise you the future-positive so we can deviate for a post or two (it's discretionary man!*) . In consideration of this post's title, the problem with nuanced arguments is that:

#1) I don't like it.
#1.33̅: I fucking hate it, but...
#1.66̅: I'm not allowed to swear.

#2) If you have 4 minutes (which you don't) Emo Philips long ago proved this and yet the most aluminated* of the Illuminati win their social media wars with stuff I can't even begin to understand*: the pontification drools everywhere and the thumbs go up. Could the puke go out?

#3) Number 3 is withheld in nuanced consideration.

* Or woman.
* Probably want to look this one up.
* The irony of y'all can't all be wrong's content is not lost on me but there's valor in bashing you over the head versus daintily trying to prove that you are different than me and that I am smarter than you. In other words it's Heineken v Pabst -- you get to decide who's who.

If that 4 minutes still eludes you, just fast forward to the last minute of this song:


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Transcendence Lasts As Long As Until You Get Hungry Again

I ❤️writing about transcendence. It's a big word that sounds so mystical and it can really vault your status into rarefied air: so fancy! In college, I had no car, no job, no money, no plan, so, as a suitor, I'd just throw that word out there and hope for the best. One can always hope, or so I have been told.
I once found transcendence:

• At the bottom of a bottle of red wine.
• On the first day after all my breakups.
• Understanding that when somebody else does it, it's skill and when you do it, it's luck.
• Realizing that black olives are Top 40 and green olives are punk.
• On page 179 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (*possibly other pages).
• Inside a home in Tempane, Ghana where the words on the wall: "in times of difficulty, lovers are few," couldn't have spoken anymore loudly.
• After listening to the similar drum fill intros on songs 1 and 2 of Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes
• At the top of the west side of Retzer Nature Center.
• Losing a shit (and possibly metric) ton of money.
• On the point of Stevens Point, WI, specifically pizza from long gone Aldo's, doughnuts & whole milk from the long gone bakery, and occasionally from the Elbow Room, which occasionally led to meta-transcendence, like winter post-midnight brat-fry indulgences.
• Listening to Cliff Burton's Orion.
• Being mesmerized, circa age 2, by the street lamps of Plymouth, WI
• Once having a handful of blog readers, which is better than none -- it's 2019, wtf is a blog anyway, I guess?  🤦‍♂️
• Watching Wyatt go for help in Easy Rider and/or watching part 1 of the Deer Hunter.
• Finally acquiring health care.
• After writing "champagne everywhere" in a letter, which possibly burst the dam of everything me -- I only wanted the object of that letter and the universe gave me everything else instead.
• After writing about its consequences.

But seriously, and -- discounting anything and everything previously written as serious (except for what is in the list) -- transcendence! It enjoys being elusive. You find it; it moves. You tell your friends about it and it's gone. You pick a number and someone else picks a bigger number. You see certain things and then you can never go back. You can be faulted if you're wrong or exalted if you're right, but you never get to go back.

This is track #3 but you can get over it:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Nobody Faults a Woodpecker

1) [digression]: Pileated should stand on its own as word, not just as an adornment to woodpecker. And, as much as I'd like to respect pileated's Latin roots, if you are truly pileated, it's not something you are likely writing home about -- think a bad night of bowling on a good night of drinking, or, whichever sort of dialectal defilement fits your discretion.

2) [the point]: Nobody faults a woodpecker for slamming its head against a wall for most of its life. It is what it is, this is this, raison d'être! Gotta quote Hesse here, not for intellectual prowess or any sort of proving by disproving, just simply for the sake that sometimes the details simply get away: The painter puts it in the picture but we just see what we want to see.

"Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself. He might end up as poet or madman, as prophet or criminal – that was not his affair, ultimately it was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny – not an arbitrary one – and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself."

We read the Hesse and we think, "yes, yes, poet, prophet, these are good things, the brass ring is mere steps away." Sure, perhaps criminal and madman are unfairly too great of counter examples, but at 7.5 billion, the width of the bell curve is pretty goddamn big. And sure, doing the resolute thing sounds wonderfully boy/girl-scoutish, but there's loneliness in the middle of that curve. How far do you go? How long before the wavering trashes the foundation?

At one point in this post I wrote "hubric myopia" and "consideration of consequence." Due to vanity I'm including them here, just so you know.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

All I Need Is Steppenwolf; Don't Read Steppenwolf

First you type, then you hit the backspace key a few times, then you type some more, then rearrange a few things, then select-all, delete. If it's bad you hate it now and it it's good you'll hate it in 5 years. I used to be proud of surviving but after you survive you realize that survive is a dirty word, a denigrated state. Hey, I'm an optimist, I'm an abyss starer, but I can't beat power and economics and what's the point really? There's a personal stone at the end of the road, or a pile of stones, or perhaps a mushroom suit if you are gard-de-avant. I just rearrange things until they feel good. I can't make this stuff up: I once wrote Police lyrics on my physics quiz and actually got credit for it. I once had enough hubris to cram an entire quarter of Fortran learning into one night prior to the final. It didn't work out*. But it did work out! I turned software into a career! A river always reaches its goal. That's the beauty and criminality of it, but it's hubris to think you are value-add. Where do you go from here? You certainly can't put Steppenwolf on your resumé and even if you did, that'd be silly and likely fraudulent. We've all got courage and moxy until we don't and Hesse won't be there to save you.

*I did write Police lyrics on a desk at the University of Minnesota's Nicholson Hall

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Equalizers

"When there is suffering, we look for a reason. That reason is easiest found within oneself." - Clare Vanderpool

Doesn't matter how low I get, doesn't matter how high. The Band's Chest Fever always brings me down -- or up, depending on the direction I need to go. Things like these are the great equalizers of life. I don't mind coming in first but I think there's romance playing the sweep: picking up the pieces, ensuring everyone got to his/her destination safely, writing the memos bound for no one's eyes, long after the party has gone. Life is great because as soon you realize you can no longer be surprised, weird stuff happens. Then you ponder because enlightenment is almost there. Then tomorrow arrives, then the day after. Then you forget. What was it you were waiting for? If I were you I'd find my medicine in Chest Fever because if you are too far out, you at least have a path back down.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

When The Glitter Wears Off, The Patina Better Rock Your World

There's a reason pyramids have the fat part on the bottom. You can certainly enlighten yourself, rise up, look eye to eye with the Eye of Providence, but when you're there, be sure to take notice of the cigarette machines and discarded Coke bottles. Take beats give. Always. You can guru yourself this and guru yourself that (and maybe with a little marketing you can scrape some cash out of that deal) but there's only one game in town and it's tough. Enlightenment is just a fantasy of those who have neither power nor money while the rest of us bicker and blame and turn the crank for those who really really want that crank turned. You can be loud and someone else can just be louder. Immer Lauter!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Reductio Ad Absurdum

It's a challenge to reach into a bag of words and not line them up pretty darn close, if not exactly the same way as before, all under the sun. Oh the fear of banality transcription. It's hard to write about writing about it. I mean recursion will kill you but then you come back and do it again. I mean, if you go looking, you are likely to find an abyss hiding in some life-corner somewhere, and this is where the excitement starts -- meditation upon the abyss! Meditation is the wrong word -- it's staring, as in staring it down. Just gotta stare it down, hours to years, and avoidance is certainly the wrong strategy. Avoidance is just a nasty reset button that gets you back to that aforementioned recursion thing. Stuck in a loop. I mean Bob Mould laid out some heavy stuff in Black Sheets of Rain and while that is all well and good, stoning the abyss is more complete, more self-edifying.

The words of this post were written to:
The Byrds' Set You Free This Time (on repeat):

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Can't Read Chekhov At Night

Introspection and reflection require a measurable investment of thought, so, when you call me out for stargazing and aloofitity keep in mind that I am likely 5 - 7 years behind real time. Can't read Chekhov at night because then you write 3 or 4 blog posts in your head while lying in bed that just get erased after a night of semi-sleeping. Can't read Chekhov at night because all the enlightenment you gain gets immediately challenged by the gods of negation and confrontation when they find old, semi-forgotten wounds and force you to look at them. Old wounds. The internal ego always plays the Hollywood hero and says "look at me, look how suave and distinguished I can be in the face of surgically-targeted adversity," but really the success-bet is 50/50 at best. Can't read Chekhov at night because after a week of illness you understand that illness, while at least no fun for some and much more profound for others, is a gift because illness fosters empathy. And while the market value for introspection races indignantly towards zero, at least with empathy, it's something you can't be faulted for, for possessing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Reticence

Reticence.

It's a tough word. Does it symbolize weakness or does it the reflect the ambitions of someone who doesn't want to add a clank to the din? It's also within the realm of possibility that the dog gets kicked and shocked enough that it sits in a pool of its own piss in a far-enough away corner, avoiding whatever surely comes next. In aggregate, the dog becomes weird to us and we shower it with blame for its piss sitting cowering weakness. Sometimes reticence is just better; the spirit, stripped of words, learns to excel in the abstract. Hesse said it best, "The tree does not die. It waits." Sometimes reticence is just the long arc of healing.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Fourteen Year Detour, Half Brilliant Reslience, Mostly WTF?

Gotta start somewhere, going to start with prose, gotta post fast before the marketing department vetoes. My blog essentially stopped in 2005. At first I could conveniently explain everything away by citing the usual stuff: writer's block, time constraints, job, creative differences (nope, that was the band), etc. But really -- really! -- it was darkness. Bleak darkness. And really -- really! -- the initial blog was an attempt to temper the darkness and for the most part, it worked. There were some good moments. I wrote crazy stuff as fast as I could and it resonated here and there, enough for personal cosmic ballast. But temper is temper and darkness just wins... unless -- unless! you are just stupid enough to fight back, to pull the ignorance masquerading as courage out of your pocket and tack the mental boat to a new course. I can transcribe the details in future posts. For now it's worth mentioning allies: if you're an active ally, keep jamming that ally path because you are the world, none of this works without you. Darkness pulls allies from the allied but there are true saints in this world, saints who ask nothing and give everything, it's remarkable how they can go unrecognized -- perhaps it's just part of their creed?

So, this was my last post, a piece of prose, written on January 22, 2010, two days after my daughter's 4th birthday. Prose sucks, yadda yadda, I know -- but it's personal and it contextualizes things for me. We can roll with that for now:


Bag Full of Helium

Watcha gonna do with a funny voice?
You laugh

Like you've never laughed before.
Reach for the aliens
Way up high
The last place you remember
Before sense stopped making
Everything feel so far away.
The balloons for birthday 4,
And zep rides that never burn.
Do you breathe when you float away?
Do they even see you when
You never move a little bit?
See the fire never burns
Just catatonia tales and
A funny voice that never laughs.
Way up high
Reach for the aliens
In the air above the sky.

A few side notes:

  • I've stopped using an extra space after sentences and don't really miss them.
  • I've embraced the exclamation point (my high school teacher will not be proud, but things evolve, man!)
  • I'm inclined not to swear anymore in posts, perhaps if I am drunk I will let them slide and then you will know.
  • I probably won't address anything political, I mean, I will, but it will be obliquely; I'll set the literary table and you come in and dine, maybe it will resonate, maybe it won't, either way you'll probably smile.
  • I kept the original blog title, y'all can't all be wrong, because for me, it's forevermore perfect, and, it's also hopeful because y'all really can't all be wrong! How great is that?
  • Life still sucks without an editor.
  • I often write listening to music, or, music sets the emotional stage for what I write. I'll probably cite a few pieces on each post, at the end, "letter-Z, number-7, Sesame Street style"
  • This post made possible by The B52-s' Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland
  • Rock on y'all, TQB, Sunday, April 14th 2019, "writing instead of zzzing!"