Happy Queen’s Day!

Amsterdamtime I would like to wish the Dutch, at home and abroad, a Happy Queen’s Day, or Koninginnedag in Dutch. Especially Queen Beatrix of the House of Oranje, herself.

By the clock on the ol’ Dashboard, I know it’s mostly over, over there, but at least I’m getting this in on the same day.

My friend Steve, clever monkey that he is, happened to email me to ask a question about a mutual friend and in the process reminded me of Koninginnedag, otherwise it would have passed unnoticed.

20061109-Queenbeatrix-Kasdiarte-Imgp1658 Opt <br/><br/> Orange

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Death and Dying. And Iteration.

In population genetics, there is the concept of “leveling drift”. The easiest and most direct example is intelligence in offspring: A child of two extraordinarily intelligent people is likely to be less intelligent, not more intelligent. New extremes tend to arise through the die-casting of sexual reproduction.

In social theories, as in many iterative contexts and complex systems, the Butterfly Effect can occur and produce wildly unexpected (at least analytically unpredictable) results. More commonly, small imbalances self-reinforce and race conditions ensue, greatly amplifying those imbalances.

When the sense of a greater whole, a bigger picture, a sense of membership dwindles, the fragmentation introduces a different kind of “leveling drift”: The new society is a bit less vibrant than the last sampling, and so on and so on and so on. The impressive and the spectacular suffer and go rare.

All that would be left are the cowering cowards and a handful of proactive hunters. Today’s state of affairs has individuals put at risk, not choosing to be at risk. Decisions made for them by cowards who remain at a safe distance where risks that could personally befall will fall.

This is not new and never has been. An inevitability when a society’s striations start to show, because when they start? Another inevitability. This is more than a rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer, disappearance-of-the-middle-class kind of thing. More and different.

Natural selection (in this case, the context of “natural” means “social”) will leave us with nothing but cowards, and cowardice is the the most potent of all excuses to be selfish. And selfish cowards are but damaged goods.

Good people will live and die and their accomplishments gone unlauded not because those deeds were unworthy but rather because there will be no one left capable of appreciating them.

There’s a reason that selflessness is considered a virtue: because the past teaches that a critical mass of selflessness results in an overall rise in mutual beneficence. So irony wins, that selflessness leads to better conditions for one’s self.

But cowards won’t see it and they’ll suffer. Whatever society they can form, that is. Rare—if at all—will be the opportunity to benefit themselves by being selfless because they’re too busy scrapping for not just enough, but for just a bit more than the other guys around them.

The bigger picture gets smaller, ever smaller, until it fits in a locket (that is guarded with one’s life), the ceiling drops. The sky falls. Tomorrow never dies? In this world, tomorrow never gets a chance to live. It’s all about today, this hour, this minute, this second, this moment. This Now.

Clicking and grunting, the cowards snatch away from each other, fighting over each carcass they fell—or, more likely, let others take down, then scaring the proactive hunter away by sheer numbers. A mob always begins with an unearned bounty and a group of undeserving individuals who nonetheless feel entitlement to the spoils of someone else’s victory.

Crouched in dark places or hidden under trees in mottled light, the impuissant remnants of humanity wait for the next opportunity to take credit for—and fill their bellies/egos/self-images with—the work of those few left who refuse to crouch in dark places and blend into the mottled shade of trees.

Further, the cowards will complain that the hunter didn’t bring down a large-enough meal that they’ve stolen. Because a full belly is never enough. Nothing is ever enough. It doesn’t matter what the “more” is, it’s just needs to be there. The more. More more more. Another death has occurred: the knack for moderation.

Allegory is an interesting device (and the absence of a segue can make a literary point). Declarative statements carry power.

Take from someone, then complain that they’re not making it easy enough to steal. Take more from that someone, then complain that it’s not enough more. Take more from someone and if the stolen-from starts to complain (how dare they!), manipulate the victim until they stop. Then when satisfied that the victim has been sufficiently cowed, start the taking anew. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If the victim should speak up, strike back, they emend the handbook to include instructions on vilifying the victim, a move of desperation that the victim is no longer a source of energy. This tactic can have one of two outcomes: a) a last few precious drops of energy can be squeezed from the victim; b) the victim can be made to look like the perpetrator, thus absolving the cowardly mob of its greedy need and needy greed.

The hunters are too busy with the hunt and the will to survive; they tend to be loners, territorial. But the proactive are also the smart; cowards have atrophied. And maybe the proactive can adapt and stand obviously apart from the cowards, can look out for each other and have each other’s back.

But standing together and acting in the interest of self doesn’t work if it limits itself only to self-selecting groups within a larger population. There’s no critical mass there. With that kind of behavior you only end up with ghettoes and Republicans, abuses of welfare and the elevation of corporations above people.

The coward’s ability to learn, as I said, is atrophic, anemic, collecting dust. Only massive disruptions to their own way of life (sedentary in shadows and mottled light), the patterns of their existence, can jumpstart such unused minds. What’s a self-involved, self-obsessed coward who scrapes and scraps to do when faced with the possibility of not only abundance but prosperity if only they’d take a chance on a better way of life?

More importantly, who’s to teach them?

Most importantly, who fashions an effective curriculum?

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Elvis Costello and Colored Furniture

There are surprises. Some are festive and wonderful which are usually mutual. Some are sneak-attacks (in which case only the target experiences the “surprise”), and then there’s the kind that lives in the inversion layer between unpleasant memories and serendipity. Fate, that bitch, loves those.

I love Elvis Costello. I love him more than half the trailer parks in the South love Elvis Presley. I love Elvis Costello (real name Declan Patrick MacManus) because his thoughts—at least the ones that end up in his published music—go to situational emotion and specific reaction that others rarely go and I discover empathy more than coincidentally frequently in what comes from him.

He recorded a concert in Memphis a couple of years ago, accompanied vocally on some songs by the astoundingly talented Emmylou Harris. One may wonder why it’s worth watching an “intimate venue” concert on blu-ray instead of regular old DVD, but I’m a geek and blu-ray discs usually pack superior sound formats (like uncompressed PCM) and so I got from netflix:


“Club Date: Live in Memphis” (Eagle Vision USA)

I’m watching this disc right now; a few minutes ago he did a more allegretto rendition of “The Blue Chair” than had originally appeared on Blood & Chocolate. Tempo can sometimes change everything. The original was forlorn and self-pitying. The version on this blu-ray disc was all resignation and distance, with only the lyrics tugging it back into pain. The lyrics, with homo-specific gender word-changes (I get tired of translating from hetero-specific every time I listen to love songs):

<br/>Blue Chair<br/><br/> Now it’s just you and me, my blue friend<br/> And you say that it’s you that he’s thinking of<br/> And our affair must end<br/> But if it’s you that he’s thinking of<br/> I think my broken heart might mend<br/> <br/> [Chorus:]<br/> Now it’s my turn to talk and your turn to think<br/> Your turn to buy and my turn to drink<br/> Your turn to cry and my turn to sink down in the Blue Chair<br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> <br/> Now I’ve made up my mind I’ve made my mistake<br/> And I know that he cries for you<br/> When he’s barely awake<br/> Well he’s going to bend your mind<br/> Well I hope it don’t break<br/> <br/> [Chorus]<br/> <br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> We can watch our troubles rise<br/> Like smoke into the air<br/> And drift up to the ceiling<br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> You can feel just like a boy or a man<br/> And next minute you can find yourself kneeling<br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> They’re boasting of loving the daylights right out of him in the small hours<br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> You say that your love lasts forever when you know the night is just hours<br/> <br/> And still I want him right now<br/> Not any minute, hour or day<br/> And wherever he is tonight<br/> I want him anyway<br/> I suppose he never said to you,<br/> “You were just in the way”<br/> <br/> [Chorus]<br/> <br/> Down in the Blue Chair<br/> Down in the blue<br/> Blue becomes you<br/> Down in the Blue Chair

Forlornness and self-pity about the failed relationship had given way to resignation and (some measure of) distance a while back, with words between us sometimes tugging me back into the pain, and so Blue Chair is one of those perfect fits that no one but Elvis does for me.

Music is theosophy for agnostics, the attempts at attainment of that something which has arisen from nothing.

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I Wish!

I wish my brain was working like it used to. Actually, I wish it were working better than it used to, but I had plenty already so I wouldn’t want to be greedy.

I had an epiphany of sorts, or at least a synthesis—the closest thing my brain gets to as far as focus or direction these days—involving a handful of different pieces, one of which was a couple of famous lines from Shakepeare’s Richard II:

Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s,<br/> And nothing can we call our own but death<br/> And that small model of the barren earth<br/> Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.<br/> For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground <br/> And tell sad stories of the death of kings;

“And tell sad stories of the death of kings”. That was one of the pieces.

And something about fear and madness and the themes running through Macbeth Mackers, and if fear can cause madness, or madness, inevitable, causes fear. Or the ad hoc fallacy (ad hoc, ergo propter hoc) obviates either/both.

Another was the soliloquy of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet where she reports on the suicide of Ophelia. (Just for the record, I’m no expert in Shakespearean text, just bits of jetsam stuck to my brain combined with a re-watching of a brilliant Canadian comedy-drama series called “Slings and Arrows”).

Yet another? Maps. Or globes, specifically, those globes with show more than just the mundane dotted lines which parcel “our lands” arbitrarily or report on the latitude and longitude of East Bumfuck, Midwest, USA. Such as the dark globe displayed on my television as my PS3 contributes its own still-rather-well-working brains to the Folding @ Home distributed computing initiative, that dark globe which is dotted with golden pinpricks of light showing where there are machines whose computing power has been donated to the medical research of discovering how linear chains of peptides translated from a linear chain of nucleotides (mRNA) transcribed from DNA then fold and bend and reoriented from that linear entity into a three-dimensional macromolecule known as a protein, many of which perform chemical reactions that are necessary for life to exist.

Globes that show carbon burden by country by distorting borders to show the relative instead of the absolute. That’s a dotted line whose arbitrariness has been removed, eh?

Maps of the United States after the 2004 “election” showing not a massive red tumor with bits of blue tissue still clinging at the edges onto healthy living, but a smear of purple far more similar than different.

Sp A0086 Add to all that…well, I forget. That’s the problem: Those pieces I’ve outlined above along with some other piece or pieces (I also forget the count) gave me a flash of some insight on some thing which felt New. New as in it had never occurred to me. New, as in, I don’t recall ever having known it to have occurred to anyone else, either.

Cafe BeanAnd now it’s probably gone. Gone “for good”, though I fail to see any good in its loss. It wasn’t a cure for cancer or world hunger or the common cold; I doubt it was even a palliative in dealing with the immaturity and selfishness of people who should be past all that by now. Hell, it may have been a very bad thing, a personal insight that would have sent me further into despair and saddled me with that much more to carry on top of the relentless spherical ache (another globe!) in the base of my brain and the linear chain of pain that plays leapfrog back and forth between C2 and C7 in my neck.

Still, I wish I had recorded that flash somewhere so I could be sitting here in my Dutch cafe writing about that insight instead of the loss of it.

I wish for a lot of things these days, and when I get like that—which, blessedly, is rare—I just wish I could stop wishing.

Normally that’s a self-obliterating thing and I’m left with mental peace. Not so these days; these days I’m left with the pain and the ache and a single remnant wish: I wish I had my life back.

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The Infallible Truth

This is the funniest shit I’ve seen on TV in a long, long time.

After a segment talking to a guy who got all pissed that his daughter’s school was going to show Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” (Davis Guggenheim) in a science class “without providing an opposing viewpoint”. The pissy guy went all End of Days, Left Behind, Rapture in his explanation of global warming—in other words, the globe is heating up because the Rapture is “oh, about 5 to 7 years away”, according to the dad. Men like this father make me believe in god. Or at least hope there’s a god up there saying “dance, monkey, dance!” when s/he sees shit like this.

Anyway, since the Daily Show Correspondent couldn’t really find any evidence-based opposing point of view, he made his own video:

I probably, though, shouldn’t have watched a comedy show after I took an Imitrex. They always make me nauseous, and I almost hurled a couple of times cuz I was laughing so hard.

•••

god say “what the fuck?

•••

god has too much time on his hands

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Cole Porter

There are some people you will always miss.

Some die. Some leave. Some are kept away. Some change. Some are suborned. Some have surrendered themselves away willingly.

The missing has no rational basis, much less any concrete basis. It simply happens or doesn’t happen.

Make a laundry list, because I won’t. Did they love you? How loyal? Whither fidelity? Did they make you laugh? Did they make you feel more yourself around them? Did they complete you? Were you already complete and they reset the bar on completeness? Did they hurt you? Did they damage you? Did they disregard you? Trivialize you?

Yeah, go ahead and make that list, because—again—I won’t do it.

I’d bet a pretty that no matter how your list totals its plusses and minuses columns of that person you already miss, it won’t change your mind one whit.

The missing-of is not related to the deserving-of.

Yesterday I was sitting in a Dutch cafe I found here in San Francisco (at Sutter & Jones, in case you’re interested) while chatting to my favorite Marsupial (whom, by the way, is one I miss terribly), an email demi-spam shows up in my email from Ticketmaster. It announced a show by Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Mountain Winery down in Saratoga.

There are exactly three people I miss without qualification who are all dead: my great grandmother, Tekla; my very own Auntie Mame, Julia; and my former partner, Allen. It was Allen who introduced me to Country music, beginning with Mary Chapin Carpenter. The song was Passionate Kisses, a song whose message, in my current despair, I believe far too few people would care very much about. Allen and I got to see MCC at the Paramount Theater in Oakland during a short “busking” pre-tour tour; mostly acoustic sets and stripped down versions of new and old songs. It was two hours of not-a-care-in-the-world, even though he was living with fairly advanced HIV-disease and I was living with and utterly in love with a man disappearing in minute portion daily.

I mentioned to the Possum that I wanted to see her again in concert. Then I realized I had no one to share the experience with. Then I realized that there was no one to share the experience with. Though I own every one of her albums and listen to them quite often, she is a solo pleasure for me now. Consider it a measure of how much I miss the man. My Allen.

There are others I miss to varying degrees, but most of those are still technically available (meaning, not dead). I miss my family intensely, but that is a matter of geography. Some I miss to an extent I am in self-wonderment at how I still go on with each day (that would be Sam, to the uninitiated), some are a now-and-then kind of missing. Some I don’t have to miss at all because they are here with me in my life, in my heart, in my trust, in my care. And therein lay the biggest blessing of this life of mine.

Places can be missed, too. I “miss” San Francisco when I am outside it; I “miss” the Low Sky out of another lifetime ago. But places are just places, finally, and it’s the people you miss.

What does any of this have to do with Cole Porter? I am only recently discovering the hidden dragons in Cole Porter’s lyrics and music, and most of that through John Barrowman’s recordings. Apropos of nothing, John Barrowman seems to be everywhere I turn, but that’s because I’ve placed him there. He’s a wonder on so many levels and I am attracted to his magic.

Cole Porter is hit and miss for me, though. Sometimes he indulged too much in specifics of words, which date his material and make the music crash to the ground (e.g., “I Happen to Like New York”, “Easy to Love”), but most of his songs veer into dangerously intimate territory while remaining abstract and lovely and universally accessible.

It’s the latter songs, of course, which I cannot help but inhabit: more dangerous territory.

Cole Porter is not a one to listen to when you’re missing The Missed Ones. Not when you’re alone. Not unless you’re strong enough to stand firm and hunker down when the tide of longing overtakes your shores as it inevitably would.

I can list any number of Cole Porter’s songs that live in this dangerous territory, the ones of brutal candor and risk-taking of the heart, of the solemnity of the confessional, but “In the Still of the Night” is the one that breeches any defenses:


In the still of the night
As I gaze from my window
At the moon in its flight
My thoughts all stray to you

In the still of the night
All the world is in slumber
All the times without number
Darling when I say to you

Do you love me, as I love you
Are you my life to be, my dream come true
Or will this dream of mine fade out of sight
Like the moon growing dim, on the rim of the hill
In the chill, still, of the night

Like the moon growing dim, on the rim of the hill
In the chill, still, of the night

Lyrics alone never do justice to a mood, which is why they add the mellifluous and call it a song. Some may call this avoidance or escapism or coping. Those are merely more words to wrongly disabuse the pure loneliness in missing the magic of an intimacy no longer within one’s grasp.

So to all those I miss who—with us or not—are not with me: as I gaze from my window at the moon in its flight, my thoughts all stray to you.

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King Arthur: Director’s Cut

Ok, everyone add this film, King Arthur: Director’s Cut to the top of your netflix queue or go rent it or even buy it. I’ll wait.

This is perhaps one of the best interpretations of the Camelot Myth I have yet to see—and I’m a big old Broadway Musicals kind of fag.

Seriously. Keira Knightly, a stunning and capable Guinevere and Clive Owen as Arthur—that’s a lot of human beauty in one frame. It’s as bloody and violent as 300, but with, like, a plot and everything. Having never seen fifth century sword battles I cannot say how realistic it was, but it sure drove the point home (no pun intended).

The knights swagger, but with a noble humility. Fight with vigor, but only out of necessity. There is honor and bravery, ethics and moxie.

And there is some truly exquisite dialog. I transcribed (well, retyped from the blu-ray disc’s “English for the Hearing Impaired” subtitles) the scene in which Arthur, a loyal soldier of a Rome he had believed was the pinnacle of civilization. Guinevere, a native Briton (and mighty talented with the bow), attempts to pull him back from the crisis he suffers when he realizes the corruption of Rome and that his version of Rome no longer existed:

GUINEVERE<br/> A grave with no sword.<br/><br/> ARTHUR<br/> It was my father’s wish that if he died on this island, he would be buried with his knights.<br/><br/> GUINEVERE<br/> He died in battle?<br/><br/> ARTHUR<br/> It’s a family tradition.<br/><br/> GUINEVERE<br/>I can see why you believe you have nothing left here—except what you and your knights have done. You have your deeds—<br/><br/> ARTHUR<br/> Deeds in themselves are meaningless unless they’re for some higher purpose. We have waged a war to protect a Rome that does not exist. Is that the deed I am to be judged by?<br/><br/> GUINEVERE<br/>You stayed and fought when you didn’t have to. You bloodied evil men when you could have run. You did all that for no reason?<br/><br/> ARTHUR<br/> Pelagius once told me “There is no worse death than the end of Hope.”<br/><br/> GUINEVERE<br/>You and I are not the polite people that live in poems! We are blessed and cursed by our times.<br/><br/> ARTHUR<br/> Perhaps the curse is of our own making. And the blessing.

•••

But you and I are not the polite people that live in poems. Honesty, honor, candor, decency, nobility, ethics. These are all on my mind lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I hope they’re not gone forever from the fore. The death of that hope I might never recover from.

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Gnomon Is An Island

First off, I must offer the following entry as a marking of the first pain-free evening I’ve had in many months. Hopefully more of the same will follow.

•••

I love words. I love words because they are necessary pushpin holes on the n-dimensional surface that is the whole of human thought. For every word/pushpin a fraction of an inch wide, there are hundreds of millions of n-meters of open space in between. That’s the real void. The void that literalists fear and politico-christo-fascists call Hell.

But I digress—and perhaps landing at “Hell” in a blog entry about words is the Ultimate Digression—that is, if I accepted any Absolutes that weren’t also Temporary.

Sundial0501A gnomon, by one definition, is “the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow; a style.” Yet another: “An object, such as the style of a sundial, that projects a shadow used as an indicator.”

Truth be told, I learned this word today from one of those word-of-the-day mailing lists to which I have subscribed. No matter, it’s in the arsenal now, and I fully intend to use it.

And did you notice that “style” is another word for “gnomon”? Funny how words can dot the universe like stars and as sparsely and yet still overlap. Again, I digress.

I love words not because it’s easy to grab a thesaurus or select something from my already considerable vocabulary and impress or confuse or annoy you, but because they define the void, the places where they are not, just like the black ink of letters in the white pages of a book: your eye sees not the letters themselves but the whitespace around them (black is the absence of light, and your eye is a mechanism which senses light). There should be words for things you imagine but cannot express without some faculty in the arts or sciences or magicks.

There should be a word (and perhaps may actually be a word) for that momentary feeling you get when you’re taking the stairs down into a black-dark basement, miscalculating which step was the final one and expecting your next footfall to drop you another few inches when in fact it lands on flooring. There shouldn’t be a word for “void” come to that, because by its very existence it obliterates that which it describes. Describes the indescribable, labels the unlabelable.

You can string words together into lovelies of thought and feeling. And you can do this for benevolent reasons like education, neutral reasons like explication and nefarious reasons, like artificially manipulating the mundane into the mystic in order to draw power to yourself or your group.

I am Who Am. There’s a great one from the Jewish texts. The God has a Name Who is the Unnameable, Who Exists Because Existence Exists. Toss that teleological, tautological turtle around in your head for a while and see if you can dig your way out of the black hole of mythos.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Karmic instruction manual? Tit for tat strategy? Simply giving a reach-around to the one you forced to bend over in front of you? All of the above? But alas, it’s a moot point: We are no longer a people of doers, we are a people of not-doers. Avoiders (oooo, “void” appears as a no-place holder). We are Passers of the Buck. This whole do unto others thing gets taken for a ride, is shown the sun here and there, and we riders pat ourselves on the back for participating in something we’ve ourselves elevated to a Golden Rule.

But what about the non-doers? What about that space between actions where avoiders sit and do nothing but make demands (using words, of course) of others to do so that they themselves don’t have to?

And what of Tit for tat? That one’s an interesting strategy in AI theory, or at least beginner AI classes. Simple, single rule, really: When you encounter another, if you have no history with this other, give a credit/unit/benefit to them; otherwise, do to them what they did you you the last time you encountered them. Example: A has an initial encounter with B so A gives to B, but then B also has a choice to make, and takes from A above and beyond what A already gave to B. Next time A encounters B, A takes from B because that’s what B did to A the previous encounter. And just iterate this strategy any number of times for any number of objects and see who “wins”.

Very simple setup and a rather successful strategy in the simplest gaming cases. The interesting (read: not so simple) behavior comes in when the individuals aren’t just theoretical objects but more complex beasts. A good example is a game of chance where bluffing is part of the experience.

The Golden Rule comes back into play here, but only again because Tit for tat assumes doers. One might think that you could apply the Golden Rule everywhere, because it is one of those famously comfortable Absolutes the Christians are so fond of.

Example: I have asked/begged/pled for your forgiveness for something that has objectively been established as a transgression committed towards you. The Golden Rule, you might think, should point in both directions, both for future turns and for the turns we’ve taken in our own histories. In other words, if I am asking/begging/pleading for your forgiveness for my transgression, should I not first be sure that I have forgiven those who have transgressed upon me? Should I ask for your assistance if I have gleefully or joyfully or simply refused assisting others in the past? And for those who are humans and not merely animals (Crisis and Observation, indeed), demanding forgiveness from another, or for demanding apology for injury when they themselves have not apologized for their own injuring of others, the sheer weight of the hypocrisy and greed and selfishness must surely unbearable, toxic, eventually lethal. The world is lousy with humans who are only animals, sadly.

But! Back to why I love words (we’ve never really left the topic), or rather, as we’ve established, the spaces between them. The Void. Check out the second definition of gnomon that I gave above: “An object, such as the style of a sundial, that projects a shadow used as an indicator.” Notice that on a sundial, it’s not the light which provides information, but rather the shadow. The shadow indicates. You have to watch the shadow, and how you cast your own shadow, because the sun won’t help you redirect it because you ask. You must accept that you cast a shadow, and that sometimes that shadow deprives others of light, and that sometimes others’ shadows deprive you of light. Only then can you understand that to share the light equally by depriving yourself sometimes will still leave you with enough. Only with awareness can good will arise. It’s all about the style.

It is a great coincidence (Christians and other fatalists will call it Divine Guidance or Guiding Fate) that I live in and so love a City named after a Saint who appears to have understood these concepts organically well. Perhaps too well, in that he never remembered to put on his own oxygen mask before tending to the oxygen needs of others, but that’s another parable for another day.

The Prayer of St. Francis is one of the most famous and most versatile poems in the Western World though its popularity has unfortunately also imbued it with Godliness, marking it as an Unattainable Ideal rather than preserving it as a simple and humble Practical Guide to Everyday Good Will and Neighborly Behavior. The “prayer” has many versions, many languages, but they all stake out places that define a border around one of those undefinable parcels of that void. For my own godless, local-effect reasons, I choose (and emend) the AA version of the poem as a fitting way to taper gracefully the end of this entry, and offer it to whomever comes in contact with it:

Make me a channel of peace;<br/> that where there is hatred, I may bring love;<br/> that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;<br/> that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;<br/> that where there is error, I may bring truth;<br/> that where there is doubt, I may bring confidence;<br/> that where there is despair, I may bring hope;<br/> that where there are shadows, I may share my light;<br/> that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.<br/> grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;<br/> to understand, than to be understood;<br/> to love, than to be loved.<br/> For it is by self-abnegation that one finds Self.<br/> It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.<br/> It is by accepting an ending that one awakens to the New and the Possible.

<br/><br/>*the boldface emphasis is my own

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grande école

B0002V7Oco.01. Sclzzzzzzz So last night I read more (quantity-wise) than I have in a very, very long time. The material? Subtitles from the French film grande école.

Disturbing. Not the film, but the very fact of my low consumption of reading materials. Perhaps the single worst (well, aside from the obvious, constant physical pain) aspect of the whole head/neck thing that’s been going on with me for, what???, seven months now?

The film was very French, very eeeeeesoteric (you must pronounce it that way when describing a film such as this). Very “let’s talk about this subject which is supposed to be taboo but even though we’re all of Republican oligarchy (whatever passes for the French version: captains of industry, the subtitles told me), we are also students and so are above taboos and discard common sensibilities like so much merde and ordures and let’s just bloody well get on with it, shall we?”.

In other words, lots of breasts, lots of male (and female) butts, lots of sex and more uncut penises than you could shake an uncut stick at.

Which is not why I netflixed the thing. I live in San Francisco. I could drive to the Castro and see and ask just about anyone and see a naked penis.

No, I rented it for contrast. Contrast from the smash, bang (well, other kind of bang) flix I’ve been renting from Netflix’s blu-ray collection just to compare quality of codecs, transfers, etc. and to see things go boom! on my TV. I rented it because I’m trying again and again to get my brain into a sort of first gear that slowly moves this ever-diminishing bulk of mine towards an identity I can, well, identify with.

I can write, but only “from the hip”. I can draw (well, I am able to put pencil to paper and end up with something—good or bad, others may decide). I may be developing a knack for languages.

Swell. Terrific. Except none of those things have much of anything to do with either my livelihood nor my sense of identity. Remember back in school there was always the “curve-breaker” for exams? That guy was me (I?). Generally the smartest guy in the room. Generally the one who could solve a puzzle almost as easily as he could think up new ones. Generally, the most well-rounded (and somewhat round), socially non-inept nerd in the room.

Generally, a guy who could do what I now do for a living, and do it well once settled into the thick of it.

Only there’s been no getting into the thick of it for problem solving, deep thought, focused logic or any of those things that makes a software developer worth his salt.

“Crisis” is a word that keeps popping into my head, as in “in crisis”. Example: at a party to celebrate birthdays for both myself and for Fred the Plumber, I chose to drink heavily for a very very bad reason. The worst reason of them all. Before I got not so blotto, however, I started to feel good. Good for a very very good reason: a lot of my friends were there. People who love me and have attended to my “crises” over the past few months. I felt pretty safe, fairly escaped from time. In other words, I got the break from woe that I had so desperately needed.

Until, just intoxicated enough and feeling safe enough, I was both blindsided and broadsided by someone I’d invited to the party, who was already pretty fucked up when he arrived, who monopolized my time, nearly knocked me into a wall and into the bar a couple of times because he could stand up, and talked in my ear reminding me of all the bad shit that’s happened over the past couple of years for me (and for him) and how alike he and I are (which was perhaps the worst part of it all). I was rescued by one of my friends, Artie, but not until after most of the damage was done. My own defenses down, I got pounded into an emotional pulp.

The kicker is, the fallout neither improved nor worsened my head and neck pain in the aftermath days. Sometimes I wish it had worsened it, because then I could attribute at least some of this to emotional stress.

Now I find myself just wishing I could be a film character in an eeeeesoteric French film and play rompless, “harmless” sexual dares with other intelligent people, all with no passion at all.

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