I try to make myself and my immediate surroundings as self-sufficient as possible. There’s something innate in me that makes me want to do everything myself, to not depend on anyone, and even more so to be free. Of course, “free” can hide a lot. Despite how ingrained this part of my nature is, though, I can see where it’s been reinforced. As always, it begins with a “there but for the grace of God go I” situation.
What the hell can I do with my knee,
with this leg so long and so skinny,
with my arms, with my tongue,
with my weak eyes?
What can I do in this tangle
of imbeciles with good intentions?
What about with corrupt thinkers
Or sweet girls who want poetry, not a man?
What can I do among the poets made uniform
by academia or Communism?
What, among sellers or politicians
or shepherds of souls?
What the hell can I do, Tarumba,
if I’m no saint, or hero, or criminal,
or admirer of art,
What can I do if I can do anything
But just want to watch and watch?
I realized it's been awhile since I posted. This is mainly due to painting myself into a corner; I was trying way too hard to make this particular online identity the one I use for Deep or Controversial thoughts.
But I find that coming up with something worth writing about in this (imagined) context was exceedingly difficult, and I didn't want to just have a blog where I complain about day-to-day life. There's also the fact that many of these issues or questions haven't changed or been resolved especially. Change is typically incremental.
After spending some time wandering, it was time to come back.
It’s very easy to romanticize going wherever the winds take me, and there can be value in that sometimes. At the same time, the why matters. While I’d hoped to get some clarity about things, and in particular about where I want to be going, what I’ve come to realize is that I was actually avoiding choice.
It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m taking a couple classes at a seminary (online, thankfully), and they’re certainly keeping me occupied. So far it’s been the good kind of busy, though, and I’m definitely enjoying what I’m learning.
I’ve been sitting about lately watching the world be slightly more on fire and trying to figure out how I should feel about it all. It’s not that I’m wondering whether to feel bad, it’s more some questions about what kind of bad I should feel and what, if anything, I should do about it. I don’t have any real illusions about my individual influence over the world, but at the same time simply accepting something bad as inevitable is a tool the alt-right likes to use to avoid thinking about making change (or to avoid having to).
(A non-review of Prompt and Utter Destruction by J. Samuel Walker)
I had a conversation on Discord awhile ago, and somehow the issue of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came up. I repeated what I had always heard to be true, namely that the use of the bomb was done to prevent an invasion of the Japanese mainland that would’ve cost even more lives, both American and Japanese. This is certainly how Truman et al. portrayed the decision after the fact. But one of my compatriots explained that the historical consensus now is that basically none of this is true. He went on to recommend Prompt and Utter Destruction by J. Samuel Walker, which I have now read.
One of the abilities that humans generally take for granted is pattern matching—the ability to see how things fit together. And of course, part of this must necessarily be the ability to see what sticks out. This is what “salient” means: to stick out, to draw one’s attention.
There’s a scene from The Wire that has stuck with me since I first saw it. Well, more than one actually, but the one I’m thinking about right now is when a character who goes by “Bubbles” is meeting with his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. The sponsor, played by Steve Earle, tells Bubbles that quitting drugs is the easy part, but that after that “comes life.”