Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ending tyrants

It will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgement, their interests can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.

-Alexander Hamilton, Federalist papers #1

Thursday, April 22, 2010


First comes knowledge,
then the doing of the job. And much later,
perhaps after you're dead, something grows
from what you've done.

This quote makes me smile:

Don't look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don't milk others!

There is a milk fountain inside you.
Don't walk around with an empty bucket.

You have a channel into the ocean, and yet
you ask for water from a little pool.

Beg for that love expansion. Meditate only
on THAT.

I love the offbeat way he splits his phrasings at odd angles, jangled with the punctuation. His words remain powerful some 800 years after they were written. That (I'm going to go ahead and assume) is what he means by doing the job. It's not just a work-a-day make your money and get out kind of deal this work, this job worth doing. The job that we all should be doing. Creating something that lasts beyond our own selves and lives. That's what's worth striving for. The transformation of transcendant emanations. Or something. Anyway, I like Rumi. In the right frame of mind, he can really open up corridors of being that are quite lovely and wondrous.

Anyway again, this is a quote from the editors' description from a collection of R's stuff. It explains a kind of part of a sufi spiritual cosmology. It's a cool idea and one that fits well with my own (novel) project.

One sufi image of the lines of transmission (silsila) is a great branching rosebush that grows elegantly on many levels and within several worlds at once. Initiation and guidance come through the saints and keep the present moment dynamic and quivering with new growth. Majesty is that composite attention felt as a presence, dawn, a company of friends, a splendor that is prior to, and the source of, the universe. Rumi says it is a state of awareness best spoken of in terms of what it is not.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Sands of Iwo Jima

In any case, we were rip-roaring drunk, on top of which the speedometer was hitting fifty. What better reason for us to plow thorugh a park hedge, bulldoze over a patch of azaleas, and ram head on into a stone post? It was nothing short of sheer good fortune that neither of us was hurt.

When my head cleared from the shock, I kicked open the broken door and got out, only to find that the hood had been knocked clear off and landed thirty feet away in front of a monkey cage. the front of the car was indented neatly in the shape of the stone post, and the monkeys in the cage were most put out at having been so rudely awakened.

The Rat sat crumpled over, both hands on the wheel. Not hurt, just depositing the remains of the pizza he'd had an hour before onto the dashboard. I crawled up on top of the car and peered in through the sun roof over the driver's seat.
"You all right?"
"Uh-huh, a little bit too much to drink, though. Made me vomit."
"Man, Lady Luck's sure with us," said the Rat all of five minutes later. "I mean, look at us. Not a scratch. can you believe it?"
I nodded. "The car's a wreck, though."
"Hey, don't worry about it. you can buy another car, but you can't buy Lady Luck."
This put me off a little, and I gave the Rat a look.
"You that rich?"
"Seems so."
"Good for you."
The Rat didn't answer; he just kept shaking his head, dissatisfied. "Anyway, we're riding with Lady Luck."
"I guess so."
The Rat ground out his cigarette on the sole of his sneaker, then flicked the butt in the direction of the monkey cage.
"Hey, wouldn't we two make a team? Bet we could do great things."
"Like what for starters?"
"How about some beer?"
-Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Marukami (Kodansha English edition translated by Alfred Birnbaum [my preferred translator of Maru's stuff])

It's been a while since I put on suit of my own clothes.
and even longer since I cast my shadow on a church house door
they say every sin is deadly, but I believe they may be wrong
I'm guilty of all seven and I don't feel too bad at all
I used to have wad of hundred dollar bills in the back pocket of my suit
I had a 45 underneath my coat, and another one in boot
Drove a big old Cadillac bought a new one everytime I please
And I put more lawmen in the ground, then Alabama put cottonseed
-The Drive-By Truckers, Cottonseed

Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood may be the greatest songwriters of our generation, and most certainly they're the most underrated. In my not-as-humble-as-it-probably-should-be opinion.

After taking a nice walk with the moms along a small section of Olmsted's Emerald Necklace and seeing the banks of Jamaica pond way overflowed, I headed home to head for the bed-e-bye, when I got a call from an old friend a mine from the 'phis (mem'phis), my friend Art.

The last time I saw Art he was part of the horn section for JJ Grey, who I happened to go see at the last minute, and there was Art, wailin' on the sax. We caught up after the show, and I told him to hit me up the next time he rolled through town.

Well, he rolled into town this past day as part of Lucero's horn section, and he told me if I was up for it to come down to the House of Blues cause he'd leave me a ticket at willcall. Course, I'm supposed to be at work, now in just about 2 hours, but I can tell you that's not happening.

Cause, course, I told Art, hellz rizza. Art and Lucero were opening for The Drive-By Truckers, and there was no way I was gonna let a little thing like work get in the way of the serious get down.

I can't remember the last time I saw a show. Okay, I do, actually. It was three days after my grandfather passed, and it was intense (w/Thao w/The Get Down Stay Down w/ The Portland Cello Project). But I've been dealing with this messed up shoulder for so long, which ironically was the result of a muscle imbalance in the back body and the side body (as the yogis have told me [or not really told me, but what I've put together from Yoga, physical therapy, and conscious attention to my physical being [Am I the only one who finds the paradox of the idea that the only way to truly transcend the illusion of reality is to become truly inter-physically mindful to be a hilarious tragedy?]).

So, while my shoulder's still tight, with a L of knots that traces the boundaries of left shoulder blade, I couldn't pass up free tickets to Langhorn Slim, Lucero, and The Drive-By Truckers. Or seeing Art, and Brian, and Ben again. I used to get blitzkrieged with Brain Venable on Sunday afternoons regularly when he played in a the uptown Jazz band down at The Map Room, and Art and I spent more than a few moments in the haze of craziness before, after, and during his shows with The Gamble Brothers; one of the first times I really found this thing, this crazed ecstatic flow in which I lost myself in the music and discovered the human bodies inherent ability to instantly translated spontaneously created sound into movement. The first time I realized that dancing was it, was all, was the thing for which I was placed on this earth to do (or the thing that for me is the ultimate in peak experiences [seriously, if I had to choose between dancing and sex, I'd probably choose dancing]).

And I can give you the whole thing. About how there are direct connections between the auditory cortex and the sensori-motor cortex, so, that if you develop and facilitate this (spiritual) practice, you can by-pass the neo-cortical rational processes and tap directly into the pure gleaned flow of life and existence thru that translation of sound into movement.

I could do that, but I, well, I just did, in the abbreviated form. Regardless, I knew, I felt, I sensed in the bark of my bones, that I needed to dance and find my way into the gruff growling purity of the dance. So, I told Art to go ahead and leave me a ticket.

And I went off to the HOB, blowing off work, and knowing that that was the right, nay, the only choice I had. I needed to get back to that place, that wildness of knowing that is the state of true wilderness in dance.

And Lucero were tight, great openers, and I started to really find my form, my lasting and never left connection between the music and my body; started to get myself back for wherever it is/was that I'd been gone to with all this with the intensity of purely non-stop research.

So, I had a drink with Art and Ben, and then the Truckers finally got underway. I wandered up towards the front and found a small place to move that was soon overrun, so I moved off, got a Jack and Ginger and then found a spot towards the back under the spotlight where there was room to move.

And so there I was, a blur of movement, a righteousness of intensity and spirit, a moment of pure transcendence that seemed to last beyond the bounds of infinity well farther beyond into the ranging bliss of sanyama/sunyata. If only for a second, if also within that second, if then actually immanating long drawn breaths of transcendence. If only for a second, or what felt like less than the time it takes for a second to pass. Yoking immanence and tanscendence within the bodily moving dancing melodic rythm of rumpus riffs and pure rock'n'roll (call it indie if you care to). Blurring into a bursting, following the curse of blessed takenness. Lost in guitar riffs, dissonance, and beauty. Lost in the dance. For the first time in much too long.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'd just remembered that there was a link to some of David Foster Wallace's writings for Harper's, and I went over there and was reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Holy Krakatau, that second little interview, that is the funniest thing I think I've ever read in my entire life.


I'll be shouting that at inappropriate times, probably for the rest of my life now. Speaking of inappropriate, what the what is going on in this country? Yo, it's time to chill back with the rhetoric, Republicans. See, the way this process works is we have elections, and after those elections the elected officials do this thing we call governing. Maybe you remember that your version of that included ramming through two massive tax cuts via the reconciliation process (yes, both of the Bush tax cuts were passed using this process and were substantially more expensive than this bill as well as sold with numbers way flimsier than the CBO's on this) and starting a war with Iraq against the wishes of a whole shitload more in the streets protesters than the tea party movement even has members.

Now, you'll also remember a lot of overheated rhetoric about Bush being Hitler and stuff like that. But, and here's the difference, while there was some vandalism related to the protests, there were no shots fired at the offices of representatives, no death threats, no fake anthrax, no Christian militias planning to kill law enforcement officials. There were mostly orderly protests that numbered in the hundreds of thousands of people in any given place or time. And there were thoughtful articles about how apparently protesting had lost it's efficacy because it was no longer so novel. As it turns out, that's not entirely true. It's just progressive (wait, isn't that a code word for baby killing mother raping nazi zombie warlords from the 5th dimension?!!?) protesting that's no longer novel.

The tea party protests, although numerically not even in the realm of a 1/10th of the sheer numbers that went out to protest the Iraq war, because of the novelty of conservative protesters and the blunt force trauma that is Fox news's effect on television news more widely, were quite effective last year in taking a hugely popular issue such as health care reform and making it only marginally popular. Just so we're clear, the numbers, given the margin of error in national polling, were never any worse than about fifty/fifty.

So, this notion that health care reform was rammed through, all I can say is you get what you give. You want to work in a Bi-partisan manor, well, as the minority party, you need to come to the table first and make a few concessions. Otherwise get the fuck out the way cause we're coming through. The Obama express has left the station.


Okay, taking it down a notch here. It's been some biblical rain here in the northeast. We're about to set a record today for rainfall both for the day and for the month. Flooding everywhere. It's not good. Usually, I'm kind of a rainy day guy, but apparently even I can have too much rain. Good to know.

So, let's see. We're setting records for rain this spring. Last year we had an ice storm that killed like 200 hundred people (I pulled that number out of my arse, so...) and left about a million without power for up to three or four weeks, and the year before that we set the record for most snow in a single month for the month of december (and can I tell you how shitty it is trying to park in a city that has 8 hundred gazillion pounds of snow piled up everywhere).

Alright, no more harping on my progressive (nazi surf zombie) agenda. I'm working on some interesting things academically. I've developed a theory about dissonance reduction strategies and the efficacy of meditation or spiritual practices more widely and there facilitation of creativity, which is part of a more broad idea about how implicit philosophies (beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, etc.) effect the potentialites of peak spiritual experience, which, of course, fits also in a theory I have about how those philosophies can in fact affect an emotional experience that gets misinterpreted as a spiritual experience. So, I'll be running a pilot study on dissonance reduction strategies. And just assuming I'm right about all the rest.

I've also got this idea in my head which is gonna be kind of a driving force in my mathematical studies (which have been going backward for the most part for the past few months), which is this idea of somehow using statistical tools such as significance and meta- and regression analyses to develop a means to push beyond the simplistic cause/effect that is the heart of psychological study. I have three basic ideas in my head, causal clusters, causal chains, and multi-layered causality. The third is more about explaining causality at multiple levels of abstraction, which at some stage has to become the standard, neuro-psyiologically, psychologically, sociologically, etc. and has been my mantra for some many years now. The first two are about looking at causal activations inter-temporally as well as, potentially, how at any given temporal moment any number of causal factors come together to cause action, reaction, emotion, thought, what have you. It's not clear yet how this all works, but somehow, well, sometimes I have some ideas, other times I think I'm just tilting at windmills again. Always tilting.

Also, my other mantras:
Respect the principle of progressive overload
Soften, straighten, and run through the middle (my running mantra [yo, it works, I ran like seven or eight miles the other day and barely broke a sweat {but as per mantra #1, I was feelin' it the next day}])
The harried man works three times as hard, and remembers only about half of it.

I try and repeat these when I'm pushing to hard, getting impatient, or losing the good running form that takes a whole lot more concentration than you might think (or than you might need if you weren't, like, so slouch-a-daisical).

Okay, then.
Currently reading:
The Second Sex- Simone De Beauvoir
The sociology of Philosophies- Randall Collins
Cognitive Dissonance- Leon Festinger
Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the sinking of the World Economy -Joseph Stiglitz
The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood- Edward Jay Epstein
Mind Wide Open: The Neuroscience of Everyday Life- Steven Johnson
Parzival- Wolfram Von Essenbach
Spiritual Genius- Winifred Gallagher
1776- David McCoullough
Just finished- Merchant of Dreams by Charles Hingham, an autobio of Louis B. Mayer (fascinating character, really horribly written book [I don't know what the deal is, but pretty much all of the autobios on early movie studio execs have been both fascinating and really badly written])


Monday, March 29, 2010

Cognitive dissonance, post-modernism and the cultural zeitgeist

Chuck Closterman has a theory that the reason that he's been successful with women is because of Woody Allen. And it's not that the women he's dated necessarily like Woody Allen movies or find Woody attractive, which, let's face it, today most people think Woody's a little pervy for marrying his formerly adopted daughter. That's pretty effin' weird. For myself, I really like some of his more dramatic movies and think the rest of them are insufferably stupid.

Regardless, the point Chuck makes is that Woody became this kind of archetype of the smart, witty, goofy looking guy who can make you laugh and think (if you so choose), and because that became cool then smart, witty, goofy-looking guys like Chuck Closterman can now get laid.

I would argue the same is true for modern conservatism and post-modernism. Post-modernism came into it's own as a philosophy in the French intellectual movements of the 1950's and 1960's. The trends that we've identified as post-modern started long before that, and certainly questioning reality and the nature of subjectivity is not exactly a new phenomenon. But the French intellectuals of that time really started to question the structuralist project that suggested, a la Saussure, that the structure of the products of human consciousness were essentially related to the structure of the human brain (that's not actually how he conceptualized the process, but I'd say it's the best way of expressing of the structuralist idea).

While they called themselves or were called (I'm not sure if the moniker was self applied) post-structuralists, they were what I think of when I think of the philosophic component of post-modernism. Literary post-modernism was in effect since the turn of the 20th century, and apparently the term was coined in relation to the drabness of what was called modern architecture in around about the 1870's. And sociologists like Max Weber have been questioning what we mean when we talk about the rational since about that same turn as well.

Regardless, these post-structuralists or post-modernists were classic bullshit artists. The truth is there is no truth is only true in the mystical sense. In the sense that everything is illusion and nothingness. It's not true in any pragmatic way. It's not true that there is no underlying objective reality, of which our subjective consciousness only gleans some small part. And I would hasten that that objective reality is itself an illusion that must be transcended. But that does not negate the intermediate stage at which objective reality is indeed, for all intents and purposes, objective reality.

Now the modern conservative movement, call it neoliberalism if you wish (but the appellation is so clearly disingenuous) or neoconservatism (which has essential oxymoronic elements [if you're dedicated to conserving the status quo, how can you're movement be new, and if you're not then what are you conserving?]) or whatever, would almost certainly rather be collectively mauled by bears than admit to having intellectual roots in a French philosophic movement, but the truth is that this idea that there is no truth so whatever truth you can make sound plausible enough is as good as any other is quite clearly possible because of the intellectual post-modern movement. That Fox news, for example, can call themselves fair and balanced in a non-ironic manor is almost surely a result of this same cultural process that gets Klosterman laid.

Course the supreme irony is that post-modernism's progressive element is so jaded about 'truth' and reality that they take nothing seriously, while the result of post-modernism for the conservative movement is that they take a mostly fabricated reality very, very seriously. As a result, conservatives are generally more organized. (Also better funded cause the whole world view is a means toward the concentration and intergenerational maintenance of power and money [I would suggest this is more a kind of processural memeticism {even, somewhat ironically, structuralist in nature} than necessarily the result of some vast conspiracy {although Paully Krug isn't necessarily wrong when he calls out the really well funded right wing think tanks as a kind of vast right wing conspiracy (If I wanted to make a living just thinking [which of course I do], I'd do much better if I'd take on a post-modernist stance and say fuck truth)}]).

I often think the reason prominent proponents of the conservative ideology are so angry is because of how fragile their world is. I mean, Rush Limbuagh is full of shit. He really is. His entire world view is the result of the selective use of information coupled with outright fabrication. He really is a kind of poster boy for post-modernism. Because ultimately, much like Rush himself, the movement is intellectually bankrupt.

Now none of this is to say that I myself have transcended subjectivity. None of us can. That's the point. Anyone who claims to know completely truth is a liar and probably a con artist as well. But post-modernism is incredibly unsettling. Knowing that you can't know, if it doesn't lead you to a spiritual place or result in the kind of ironic or blase attitude, will probably just make you feel afraid of the unknown.

Which explains the rise of evangelical Christianity and the success of Fox news. These movements ultimately have to be anti-intellectual because this is where philosophy has gotten. We haven't transcended post-modernism, nor is it even really possible. That's the cheap gimmick of the movement. It's in the finite structure of the human mind, which is not capable of attaining perfect or true knowledge. Not really.

And, essentially, that's been the thrust of the neoconservative movement from it's earliest days back in the 1960's. If you read Friedman (or a modern variant would be Amity Schleas or the Wall St. Journal op-ed or, again, Fox news), you find a selective process. As if you can just take the successes of your ideas without ever acknowledging any flaws or failures as a way to minimize cognitive dissonance without actually aligning yourself closer to reality. We saw how bankrupt that process was with the initial stages of the Iraq war. (and just as a quick addendum, this idea that Obama is somehow a dictator because he hasn't bent to the will of some small collective of very active protestors who get substantial media coverage when George Bush ignored literally millions who took to the streets in protest of the prospect of an invasion of Iraq is quite frankly a bit offensive and just plainly ignorant. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you want to work by consensus then that principle has to be applied consistently.)

For myself, I could never be sure of any of my knowledge. That's why I always continue to search, and I don't limit myself at all. In fact, I actively seek out information that contradicts what I think I know, and then try to figure out how to work out those contradictions. It's not easy, and it creates a lot of dissonance, which is not fun. Cognitive dissonances sucks, but relieving it by lying to yourself and others is not really a long term solution to the problem.

Okay, so that turned into a complete rant, and there's much more to say. Always more to say, but I'll leave off for the time being. I've got journal articles on cognitive dissonance to read. Let me just say this quick. It's not a mistake that every single mystic movement of every religious tradition, who almost without fail all acknowledge the problem of illusion of reality, all of them have very strong moral per and proscriptions. The only way to transcend the illusion is through goodness and, as the Buddhists say, mindfulness and right action. I guess that leave's me out, but still...the point remains salient.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obama's first year in office (pt. 1)

So, we're on the precipice of the vote that will surely come to define the Obama administration one way or the other, the potential enactment of a bill for something that might approach the general vicinity of being close to the edge of the realm where universal healthcare could be the gleam in the eye of some young and newly inspired individual who might then rise to the office of the president and enact such a thing. And, yes, there are a great number of reasons to feel like this bill is dog shit. Dennis Kucinich is not wrong. Nor do I think he is wrong for having changed his vote. To take the metaphor a little too far and too smaltzy, shit, whether dog or otherwise, can be the nutrients for the seeds of a brighter tomorrow. A tomorrow where the young boy suffering from non-hodgkins lymphoma might just get the treatment he needs even if his parents work at Wal-mart. Or a tomorrow where the idea of equality has substantive weight. Or a tomorrow where the tired, poor, and huddled masses can look to this country again and see a vast land of opportunity, a land where rainbows shine across the cloudless blue skies and puppies run free and ice cream is plentiful and flat screen televisions grace the living rooms of every home and, and, and...okay, maybe I'm getting a little carried away here. We'll probably be okay without the rainbows and puppies. I wouldn't suggest getting between an American and their ice cream or their flat screen though. Like getting between a hippopotamus and a river that is.

Anywho, let me just say this, and this is something that's been in my head for a while, this notion of political capital is a load of horse shit (we'll get to the bull excrement eventually). It's a completely fictional idea. The only reason it has any power is because we give it power. Could we have started over on healthcare as the Repubs claim they want to do and get it right? Only if we recognize that the idea that big B shot his wad with this one go round is only true because we have made it so. And the Republicans know this, and so they know that by calling to start over they are in actuality calling for the end of any attempt at health care reform. It's what I call the bullshit highroad (told you we'd get there). This does not have to be the way our political process works. I don't want to get hung up on that problem just now cause it's a doozy and really the center of much of the rest and would take more than a blog post to outline even if I had the answer. I'm gonna hew a little closer to the pragmatic though for just this moment.

Just one more quick point about political capital: much of the reason this idea exists in the first place, beyond the perceptions and internal states of the legislators and their staffs that create the energy necessary to push forward against opposition, is the way politics tends to get covered in the news, especially on television but also in newspapers and on-line. It tends to be the case that the focus centers on the so-called horse race elements of a political debate or election and not so much on the substantive issues. And as a result much of the substance gets lost. (If you want substantive debate on television there's only one place to go-Charlie Rose. I officially retract my negative statements about the irreplaceable Mr. Rose. He is still and forever will remain the greatest roundtable moderator of political issues that the invention of television has ever known. [Although Gwen Ifill {sic?} is no slouch herself] His health care roundtable this week was massively informative both on the questions of process and substance, and Petraeus for the hour was masterful as well.)

The polling bears this out. While the general numbers have been improving as the 'momentum has shifted', even at the nadir during the whole death panel tea party uprising, the polling numbers dealing with the substance of the bill have always been good. People want the underwriting process (the denial of care for pre-existing conditions) ended, among other of the provisions.

The problem with the bill is that it does not 'bend the cost curve'. Single payer was one of the best ways to do that, reducing your administrative overhead potentially 10% and also strengthening yr bargaining position by being a larger entity. Now let me say this as well, the notion that government is inherently inept or ineffective is also substantially nonsense. Government bureacracy is no more inherently inept than business is inherently corrupt. It's all about structure. Properly structured these institutional constructs can and are of great value to our society. Also, the best way to bend the cost curve. Get rid of ice cream and flat screens. (Seriously, poor diet and a lack of excercise are a serious component of the U.S. health care problem [Also stress and income inequality {which is a major stressor the research has shown}].)

Okay, so I've been rambling around here, and I've about reached the limits of what I know about the current bill, as I've only been casually following the details. I still want to know more about the exchanges. Why does Minnesota work? Why did so many others fail? What's the structure of the national exchange? I don't know. And I'm curious about medicare advantage. I've heard from a few places that it's actually works pretty well and costs one third of what it was supposed to cost. How does that work? When I get a few moments, maybe I'll poke around and see what I can find with regards to this.

So, I had wanted to talk about process and big B's first year in office and the general political situation and my general thoughts about how Obama's done. Maybe I'll try again later in the week, as I'm now in possession of computational ability once again and can work form the comforts of my own confines. I do have to give the man his propers. He's committed to the fight and is seeing it through to the end one way or the other, even as they fumbled badly out of the gate by letting congress take the lead. We'll just have to wait and see which way it goes today.

Also, I'm not really sure I can forgive Terry Gross for soft pedaling the Karl Rove interview. I know Fresh Air isn't meant to be a hardball news program, but she practically handed the ball off to him and let him sprint down the sidelines.

Also again, Karl Rove is still a dick.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


So, they've officially declared my computer a superfund sight (as in we're waiting for government funds to do anything about the problem). So totally fuct. Yeah, well, whatcha gonna do.

The first month of computerlessness was quite nice, but things have devolved. I got the television out of the closet and occasionally will watch. I think Charlie Rose is losing it. Maybe it's just one of those things where you don't see something for a long time (like Voltron or Get Smart or Speed Racer) and you have these memories of how awesome it was and then you see it again now that you're older and more experienced and you do all kinds of mental gymnastics to not say that this thing you loved actually sucks. I was wildly unimpressed by the softball nature of his interview with Peter Orzag (director of the Office of Management and Budget). I remember Charlie being the greatest moderator of a political roundtable ever. I'm afraid to have to discover that that was starry-eyed youthful nonsense, cause I still love Charlie like I still love Speedracer (no amount of reviewing can change the place that Speed has in my heart).

In Boston it's cheaper to get internet with a cheap cable option which consists of the broadcast channels and some home shopping channels and some Spanish language channels and the Catholic network (or something). I'm hooked on the Catholic network (also telanovellas). There's this priest who is like your wierd uncle who tells long, boring, tedious stories with absolutely no point, except your uncle is on TV. And all collared up in his priest gear. I'm oddly fascinated by this man.

I kind of want to read Hank Paulson's new book about the financial meltdown. It should be good for a laugh and some amateur psychological profiling. Also Joe Stigliz's new book Freefall or Downfall. That one'll just be good.

There is nothing worse than when smart people dumb it down for a general audience. I started in on Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works to try and get reacclimated with cognitive sci. and neuroscience, but couldn't make it through the introduction. There is no quicker or more complete way to lose my respect than to write a book in that smarmy tone that smart people seem to be so good at when they try to 'popularize' science. It used to be that the really smart people couldn't contain their insights in the journals and so they needed a longer form or used a longer form to organize their work at a higher level. Now its seems the only reason smart people write books are to cash in with these smarmy works that are 'accessible'.

I'm gonna geek out on comics for a minute in order to unnecessarily complicate what should be a pretty straightforward anecdote. The third X-men movie was loosely based on the Phoenix Saga (I use the word loosely very loosely [as in the name they gave Jean Grey was the same and pretty much that was the end of that]). The flashback to when Professor X goes to meet with her and bring her to the academy was an actual scene from the comic, but in the comic she can't stop herself from hearing other people's thoughts. There all bombarding her mind everywhere she goes, and it's freaking her out. It's been kind of like that recently when it comes to narratives. I see narratives everywhere. Everytime I pass someone on the street, every car, every window of every house. Everywhere there are narratives. What is this person's life, where are they going, what are they doing now, are they happy, are they married, divorced, dying, have cancer, just won the lottery, just got fired? Except that the narrative questions go more specifically with the particularities of the person, car, situation, window. My favorite is to look at a building and try and get some sense of what's happening inside through pure imagination. Mostly I get this sense of the overwhelmingness of the narrative possibilities. Sometimes I just tell myself enough already, shut it.

Ava's Man by Rick Bragg-sad and beautiful, beautiful and sad. It makes me nostalgic for a time and place and way of being that almost certainly never really existed or existed in the briefest of moments amongst the slightest range of people. It's a beautiful sentimentality, if also sentimental nonetheless.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver is kind of affected. Her writing is so elegant that the affectation of the approach gets kind of papered over, but ultimately, so far at the half way point, my opinion is that she should've gone for a straight narrative instead of the mish mashed slightly multi-perspectival approach.

I do want to go through and write up some of my thoughts about big B's first year as El Prez, but I'll save that for another day when I can work in my own home on my own computer.

Also, Karl Rove is a dick.

Friday, February 5, 2010

reading list

Currently reading:
Saul Bellow- A Theft
Rick Bragg-Ava's Man
Arthur Marx-Goldwyn
The Transformation of Myth through time-Joseph Campbell
History of the kings of Britain- Geoffrey of Monmouth (1139)
The Buddhist Tradition in India, China, and Japan- Theodor DeBerry
The Lacuna-Barbara Kingsolver
The Great Unravelling-Paul Krugman
Microenonomics- Somebody other than Mankiw who was cheaper (even the prices of old editions go up when you happen to buy a textbook right when the schoolyear is starting. Duh, Homer.)
Research Methods in Social Psychology-Dana Dunn
On Hold for a month or so-
Political Liberalism by John Rawls( coming back to it in the spring to help gear up for a summer of Rawls [the first summer of non-fiction {and seriously hard core pilosophical non-fiction at that}])
On sort, of hold- The Mists of Avalon-Can't think of it
T book- The laws of the evening-Mary Sukari Waters
Just Finishing- Interaction Ritual Chains randall Collins (with Sociology of PHilosophies next on the agenda)
Just finished-
The Conscience of a liberal-Paul Krugman
Upton Sinclair presents William Fox-Upton Sinclair

Some analysis of the work and politics and a bit about how the creative/conceptual work for the full rewrite of the first book of Mythic Structures; Book One: In the Abstract that represents the form of the hands (and yes I am aware of what you must think of that sub-title, and you can stuff it in a gaint italian sandwich right in between the salami and the red onions). So that's coming soon. Here's a link back to a post I started several months ago that I just posted, for whatever that's worth (not much, but pollution and some climate accord have to be addressed and organized).
So, here's that thing I wrote a month or so ago about The Journal Op-ed page.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

patience and presence

My new year's resolution, from which with luck much else will flow, is the maintenence and furtherance of those two aspects/ perspectives. For the last several months most especially, I've been getting impatient. Like, really, really impatient to be further along than I am. And the result has been mostly to lose the sense of being present as I push for some place in the future where I'd like to be, and the result of that has been the loss of creative inspiration and the lack of retainment or much real coordination of the reams of scholastic research that I've been engaged in.

So, something to work on. I'm getting there. Also, making all this seem radically unimportant, 120,000 dead in Haiti. I first heard that number on NPR on my way home the other day, and I thought, this has to be a mistake. Then I heard it again last night, and everything just started swimming. What an immense tragedy. There are no words to express.

But still, life must continue. Still though also, the helplessness is overwhelming. Donating money is something, but you just want to do more. There's no skills I have that would be in anyway useful.

Anyway, helping some friends move today, and then starting the process myself (luckily I have a three week window, which makes things much easier). Looking forward to some new space within which to work. I feel like this is the year that I write my masterpiece (or the first of many, many, many). So, to breakfast and moving.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fihi Ma Fihi, or KMRIA

Fihi Ma Fihi, which is the title of a collection of poems by Rumi, and it translates as 'in it what's in it' or 'it is what it is' (the latter of which has been my go to expression ever since I was told that I had to stop saying 'sucks to be you' everytime someone would commence to griping, way back in like high school). I really love the idea of a sufi mystic poet cracking wise. It makes me ever so happy. Probably because that means there's still hope that I can keep a grain of causticness even as I pursue a path toward mystic illumination. Or some such.

Also KMRIA was one of the headlines in Joyce's Ulysses. And it stands for kiss my royal irish arse. Which was the funniest moment in the book so far. I admit, I get what Joyce is doing conceptually. The whole recreating the true nature of life's narratives and the way we create those narratives and the jarring and uncoordinated and not entirely smooth nature of the reality of those narratives, but A) that's not entirely true because of the nature of memory and identity in which we do smooth out those narratives even as they in reality are jangled and messy and B) holy what? I've gotten so lost in the moment to momentness even as I can keep the overall narrative and conceptual idea kind of clear (which maybe is kinda the point, I guess).

So, I had to take a break and send Joyce back to the library, since I've got about a dozen books going right now, and it was just not possible for me to read it as a just before going to bed trying to relax and zen out kind of book. Which says more about me than the book. My mind would just wander away and not pay any attention to the rythms and stay present with the thing. Which, fihi ma fihi and, if you don't like it, KMRIA.

So again, I saw a question posted on Dooce's community about the best books read last year, and I was trying to go through my brain and catalogue all the books I read last year, and it just wasn't happening. There were just too many to count. So, I thought I'd just catalogue the book reading here every now and again. So, current crop:
Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Macroeconomics by Gregory Mankiw
Native American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life by Jordan Paper
Tango and the Political Economy of Passion by Marta Lavigliano
History of the Indians of Connecticut by somebody DeForest
Interaction Ritual Chains by Randall Collins
The Shape of Light by Suhrawardi
Structural Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles
a couple of short imagery and relaxation technique books (one with a pelvic focus and other w/ neck and shoulders) by Eric Franklin
A book of algebra and trig to reground my math so I can get back into game theory, which I had to chill out on when they got to calculus, which I'm getting ready to tackle this coming fall perhaps.
Political Liberalism by Jon Rawls
The Mists of Avalon by I forget the author's name and don't have the book handy.

And that's about that. I know boring and ridiculous, but I think you can see the organizational difficulties as it's been like this for the better part of a year and a half since the virtual economic collapse focused my attention on the superstructural project that I've been informally working on for the past ten years. Collins is a significant addition, which I knew from having started his Sociology of Philosophies, but his radical microsociological model is a powerful one, if also incomplete and missing significant neurologic, psychologic, and philosophic pieces. He also overvalues the sociologic, claiming, in a way, that agency is primarily in the social. An understandable statement from a sociologist but just showing once again how difficult true interdiscplinary work is for someone trained specifically in one discipline. The abstract coordination of the varying faceted levels of consciousness can be thought of metaphorically as a series of venn diagrams in which each abstract layer has both it's own area of sole existence and overlapping areas of interrelation that need to be integrated in our understanding.

So, there's that. And the New Year. And possibly moving in a month. And a computer with a video card that's fritzed out, which is why I've been away from blogging for like a month and a half (and also a chance to unplug which is always good). So, lots of fun things. And a month long purificatioin ritual of no alcohol or caffeine or meat or meat products and possibly a fast and maybe I'll do a week of silence (not a vow exactly but just some quietness [I did a week about five years ago of no talking, and it was intense]). It's a fluid thing, no dogmaticism or rigidity, more of a flowing toward the numinousity. Or something.

And if you don't like it. Well, KMRIA. Time for nieces and play and the eight thousandth reading of Where the Wild Things Are (which my niece loves, and I will never tire of reading). Yo, Seacrest out.