17 June 2018

Keep giving me time and I will keep whittling it

Dear diary,

Wouldn’t that be weird? If grass could graze itself? Would this leave the globe with more grass, or less, overall? Probably there would be less individual leaves of grass in existence, but those blades that remain would prove enormous. So the total grass-mass would stay the same as it is at present, minus the amount of energy it took to digest itself.

And what if a member of the governing elite were to fall under the influence of their own propaganda? (I always worry that when I become a hypnotist, I’ll end up accidentally programming myself to vote against my own interest.) Let’s say that our king appoints a cadre of poets to sway popular opinion, but, in the process of proofreading his poets’ work, the king grows enchanted by the false narrative and ends up swallowing the lure of his own ploy.

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
     Hath thee in thrall!’

So the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin are positioned like three circles on a traffic light: red, gold, and green. Minnesota, the red light—Mars is the god of war—wants to attack Wisconsin so that it may steal its hue (this was before the demise of the U.S. dollar), but, contra its so-called representative leadership, the populace of Minnesota loves its neighbors and is disinclined to slay them – just because our motto is Minnesota Nasty Not Nice doesn’t mean that we’re ready to bend our plowshares back into swords. Yet a common deception, well-known to the iniquitous class, is to accuse one’s victims of intending to affront oneself (the hardened perpetrator) with the very crime that one just committed on them. Like when an untrue spouse prohibits her wife from leaving the house, reasoning: “You aim to cheat on me – I clearly envision it!” So the king’s poets fabricate a story about how Wisconsin stole Iowa’s gold: now it’s incumbent on Minnesota to right this wrong. But the people are skeptical; they say “Wait a moment—Iowa is not known for its riches; so what would there even be for Wisconsin to steal?” And the propagandists’ answer is: sweet corn (that’s why Iowa’s bulb on the traffic pole is yellow: beyond corn, there’s no other valuable thing that shares that color); thus the poets must expend their efforts in convincing the populace of the attractiveness of that commodity. They begin to speak of “the glorious Iowan cornfields” – in fact: What a great place to vacation! . . . Now the king reads this and exclaims, “By Jove, they’re right!” Then he immediately sets out on a journey to Iowa and loses himself in the attractions. Minnesota is thus left leaderless for decades. But eventually King Bryan is rescued by an aerial crop-duster. That’s the end, unless the network picks up the show for another season – in that case, you can brand the finale a cliffhanger, and start next year’s first episode with a scene where the crop-duster directly collides with an oil truck.

But this is a blog post, not an adventure serial, so the show must go on. We’ve got the whole rest of this parchment to fill with words. And, again, nothing to say. Maybe I should record all the mundane things I’ve had to endure lately; that’s always fun.

First, we had to caulk the cracks outside our front door: the realtor told us to do this, to insure against leaks. We had a mold problem in the wall that corresponds to that side of the house, so we’re trying to be ultra-cautious and responsible. But we did a bad job: the caulk is sloppy – I mean, it’s functionally perfect but cosmetically deficient: it’s ugly but it works. I’m not good at smoothing the bead, if that’s what it’s called, after it’s dispensed – you’re supposed to squeeze the caulk out like gel from a tube of toothpaste and then smooth it with your silken-mitten’d finger. My effort looks like someone came along and purposely vandalized our foundation, like when protesters of animal cruelty splatter paint on wearers of fur. And, to make matters worse, the caulk dries a neon gray, extremely bright against the surrounding concrete. So it highlights itself. Thus, to mitigate this evil, we bought a can of “stone”-textured spray, and we used this to “mask” the caulk line, but now it just looks like a radiant neon gray lightning bolt with additional confetti. Worst drip painting ever. Cuz the texture of the spray paint, which is supposed to imitate the pebbles and sand of the gravel, just looks like crushed candy: so it’s bright and happy-looking, in contrast to the murky sad concrete.

Anyway, like I said, we’re trying to be sensible and conscientious; that’s why we’re attempting such preventative maintenance. But this prudent way of behaving only makes me want to REBEL:

The more we fix this place up, the more I just want to tear it down.

Imagine that you live, as we do, amid a big pile of used car tires. Now, which would you rather do: (A) go from tire to tire with a soapy sponge to clean them, and patch any holes you find, and paint their tread fresh black, then spritz them with a synthetic rubbery scent; or (B) set the heap aflame and call it the new City Dump.

Why aren’t all house-repair services simply nationalized, as well as all construction work? These aspects of life are needed by each and all, thus We the People should own and control these things. I hate that you have to call a zillion private contractors to get routine things done, and each business has its own unique deficiencies, which you only discover once they’re waist-deep in the job. And when, at long last, you manage to find a company whose work is passable, it turns out that you no longer need them, for now your home’s all dolled up. What I mean is this: You never find a decent contractor at the beginning of your countless projects—no, the best companies appear only at the last stages of renovation: for instance, if you have 2000 phases of repair to accomplish, the best company will inevitably turn up for job #2001, so that, while bidding them adieu, you declare with sincerity “I wish I would’ve known about you from the start—I’d have given you ALL the jobs, not just this one that upreared after everything ended.” And they’ll reply, “Well now that your apartment is so pretty, you’ll be able to sell it; but then you’ll need to find another place to live, and no doubt your future abode will need some repairs, if only minor ones, and you can call us then!” But your countenance falls as you break the news to them: “After selling this apartment, I must forgo home-owning, alas: it is just too…” –then you drop dead, mid-sentence.

And the good contractor lifts you off the floor that he just installed, which is inlaid with sapphire, and he positions you on the gilded ottoman, and wets your lips with wine, and wafts you with a folding paper fan. And after doing these things, he shouts in a thunderous voice: “Bryan, come forth.” And you awake from your swoon and levitate up off the ottoman, bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and your face is bound with a napkin. The contractor then addresses the queen, your sweetheart, who has been standing nearby as a faithful witness to these events, “Loose him, and let him go.” And she unwraps the gauzy sheets from Zombie King Bryan, and…

Alright, you get the picture. I’m just letting my fancy wander thru St. John’s gospel (chapter eleven, verse fortysomething), where he has his Jesus resurrect poor Lazarus. And I patterned my last decent contractor after St. Luke’s “Good Samaritan”; and I had him show up for his project only after the very last job, like Kafka’s messiah. I’m just stirring all these homages into one bowl, regardless of taste.

What I found striking, this time around, while reading the gospels’ parables & accounts (for I always end up losing myself in re-reading, when I steal from the Bible), is that John’s Lazarus has a bone to pick with Luke’s Lazarus. At least it seems that way to me. Now I half want to copy the relevant passages; but I half want to end this entry here, since I’ve already said enough to incriminate myself. So what should I do?

Ah, I know what we shall do: Let’s give the blowout biblical fight as an add-on, to reward whoever buys this blog post. Like a shoddy toy at the bottom of a box of snack nuts.

BONUS ARGUMENT
(John 11:1–45 Vs. Luke 16:22–31)

NOTE. If you are reading this text aloud at a child’s birthday party, use your magician’s voice.

I will now compare John’s Lazarus with Luke’s Lazarus. My aim is to contrast the conclusions of the rival accounts. I will give Luke’s account first, since I won’t be able to resist embellishing John’s. (I love-hate John.)

Before diving into Luke’s testimony, however, it might help to say a word about his opponent. Saint John’s Jesus, as is well-known, ends up conjuring his Lazarus back to life; and this trick persuades his onlooking doubters to believe in him. But Saint Luke’s Lazarus is exactly the opposite: He decidedly does NOT resurrect, because (as Luke’s Jesus’ parable makes emphatic) nobody who disbelieves the Hebrew Scriptures (that is, nobody who disbelieves the Christians’ “Old Testament”) will be persuaded by a man who rose from the dead. Now here’s the account that Saint Luke lets his Jesus deliver:

A beggar named Lazarus died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, which is Heaven in the afterlife.

And there was a rich man who was indifferent to the sufferings of the beggar Lazarus, when the latter was alive; and this rich man also died, and was buried; and he went to Hell.

And in Hell this rich man lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and he sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom—in Heaven! And the rich man cries and shouts:

“Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

But Abraham answers, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Then the rich man says, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest resurrect Lazarus and send him to my family’s house, back on Earth: For I have five brethren; and I want the risen Lazarus to testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

Abraham tells the rich man, “Your family members who remain on Earth, in the land of the living, can read about Moses and the prophets in the Scriptures; let them do so. Why should I commit the absurdity of sending a man back from death, when your fam could save their own souls by reading a book!?”

And the rich man said, “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.”

And Abraham said unto him, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

So the whole point of Luke’s account is to say that, if people choose to ignore the Hebrew Scriptures, the so-called Old Testament, then it will profit them nothing to see someone rise from the dead.

John’s Lazarus is a direct challenge to this idea: After falling into the gentle sleep of death, he is yanked back into the world of the living and forced to endure its terrors, all for the sake of converting innocent bystanders to John’s brand of faith:

Once upon a time, there was a man named Lazarus, who lived in the town of Bethany with his prude twin sisters, Mary and Martha.

And it came to pass that this man Lazarus fell gravely ill; so his sisters left a message on the answering machine of their family’s physician—or medicine man, or healer, or shaman, if you prefer—whose name was Jesus.

The sisters said, “Doctor Jesus, Doctor Jesus, come quick! Our brother Lazarus is ill!”

And Jesus called them back and assured them confidently, “This sickness is not unto death.”

And they said, “Is that your diagnosis?”

And he said, “That’s my diagnosis.”

And they said, “You’ll stand by that?”

And he said, “I’ll stand by that. Even if, later in this story, it comes back to bite me.”

Now the sisters ask, “So if the sickness of our brother Lazarus is NOT terminal, then why is he suffering?—it sure does seem like he’s on the brink of death.”

And Jesus answered, “It is for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

And the sisters said, “Now you sound like a hostage who’s being forced at gunpoint to speak statements written by your kidnappers.”

And he said, “Welcome to The Gospel According to Saint John.” Then Jesus hung up the phone and remained at his office – he did not immediately make a house-call to give Lazarus a checkup; in fact, he waited two full days before announcing to his staff: “I’m afraid I gotta drive out to Jerusalem again, into Bethany, which will someday perhaps be known as the West Bank city of al-Eizariya.”

And his secretaries cried, “You’re kidding, right? You’re a wanted man in the city—they’ve got a warrant out for your arrest, for medical malpractice, which is how they refer to your supernatural pseudoscience of faith-healing. No; give heed to our advice: Don’t go to the city: they’ll kill you! The last time you were there, they greeted you by hurling stones at your head.”

But Jesus answered, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Lazarus is my friend, and he’s fallen asleep. I can’t just let him laze away the whole summer like this—he needs to wake up, find a job, & get to work. He needs to understand that God’s invisible hand controls the Free Market, and if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Consider the lilies of the field, how finely they are arrayed—do you think they grew so beautiful by just standing there lazily basking in the sun and daydreaming? NO: they must toil incessantly to stay fashionable; they understand that, if ya want nice clothes, ya gotta earn your keep. Now look how stylish they are!—not even Emperor Solomon’s transparent robe is able to compete with the likes of these flowers. Also, behold the fowls of the air: they sow punctiliously during seed time, so that they may reap during the harvest; and they gather all that they’ve cultivated into barns for storage. It’s hard work, being a bird: you gotta plan out how to ration your stores for the off-season; you can’t just expect your heavenly Father to feed you free-of-charge, via nature, as if money grows on trees. And then when winter comes, it’s not an option to simply fly away and escape to a warmer climate: no, ya gotta hunker down, take up the cross and follow ME, into the bitter depths of Hell. For God would rather watch his creatures starve than answer their prayers for an easier life. That’s why you’ve gotta slave to get food and clothing. It was for our sake that the LORD God cursed the ground; remember? He said: ‘In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life—thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee—in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, cuz you’re just a stupid glob of mud that I molded to look like me, the Lord GOD Almighty, but that was only a whim, and someday I’m gonna repossess my breath that I lent to you (when I breathed into your nostrils to make you alive), yes, mark my words: I’m gonna take life back with interest, when I smash you right back down into the dirt.’ — He’s a bad mad sad rad dad, our Lord Jehovah. As my nemesis Saint Paul says, in his epistle to the Romans (9:20), ‘Who art thou that repliest against God?—shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” Hasn’t the potter authority over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? The harsh truth is that God, willing to shew his wrath and to make known his power, endured with much longsuffering all you vessels of wrath fitted to destruction!!!!!’ . . . But anyway, yeah, regarding Lazarus, who’s now snoozing on the job – I don’t want my poor friend starving to death (that’s the good LORD’s desire, not mine—Do I look like God to you?), and death by way of homelessness and starvation is what will happen to any soul who ends up unemployed in this country. So I gotta go to Jerusalem, that I may startle my comrade Lazarus out of sleep.”

Yet then a staff member from Jesus’ campaign spoke up and raised an interesting point: “Doctor Jesus, what if Lazarus fell asleep not because he is indolent and slothful but rather because he’s actually overworked? Maybe it’s healthy that he’s asleep—maybe that’s exactly what he lacks: a little shuteye. Perhaps his body needs its beauty-rest.”

Then Jesus dropped the charade and answered plainly: “I was talking in zany symbols and wild figurative riddles when I told you that Lazarus was asleep. The boring truth is that Lazarus is dead.”

Then one of Jesus’ secretaries looked up from the screen of her typewriter and said: “Hold on. So, just to clarify, in verse number four, when you told the sisters of Lazarus (and I quote) ‘This sickness is not unto death’, then were you just teasing them – or should we file this, yet again, under misdiagnosis?”

And Jesus, quoting the words of Officer Duke from the film Wrong Cops (2013), answered and said: “Dear Lilith, as usual, your words go into my ears, but then they don't make it to the processor.”

And, proving a meet foil to her brother’s evasions, the secretary saith, “Do you want me to repeat it again?”

& Christ snaps, “No.” Then, following the wipe transition (a type of editing effect in film where one shot replaces another), the staff finds itself in Bethany, in a cemetery, after a funeral. But it’s not the gravesite of Officer Sunshine, in California. It is the tomb of Lazarus, where he lay. The grave is a cavern, with a stone covering it.

Now Jesus approaches and, after gazing this way and that, frowns and addresses the selfsame secretary: “Who smells like bad fish – is that you?”

(I’m still plagiarizing Wrong Cops, sorry: there’s just a couple more lines I wanna fit in here, then I’ll return to John.)

And the secretary says, “No: no it’s not – I think it’s you.”

And Jesus repeats: “Wow, what a gross, horrible stench.”

(Now here I can go back and quote verse 39 verbatim, in the King James translation, and then I’ll let John’s gospel play out to the end:)

Then Martha, the sister of Lazarus who died, saith unto Jesus, “Lord, the stench that you smell is our poor brother Lazarus: for he hath been dead four days.”

Jesus saith unto her, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Now, do as I command: Roll away the gravestone.”

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and muttered begrudgingly:

“Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. What I mean by that is: I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which are standing by, and for the viewers at home, I voiced aloud the thanks that I give unto thee, so that they may believe that thou, O God, hast sent me to save humankind, for I am your son; which is to say, the head clerk in Saint John’s puppet regime.” And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice:

“Lazarus, come forth.”

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with seaweed: and on his face was a diaper.

Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Then many of the churchgoers who cared nothing for the tales of Moses and the prophets which they read in the Hebrew Scriptures, as soon as they had seen this thing that Jesus did, believed on him. So they were convinced precisely because one arose from the dead.

Now let’s underscore these two morals. Luke’s closing argument was: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”; whereas John claims his audience was “persuaded precisely because one rose from the dead.”

SUPREME CONCLUSION:

The Christian Bible is a curious thing to blank.

14 June 2018

Just passing time again

The next page from my book of 99 Drawing Prompts is halved by a line and has two prompts printed at the far right: “Light saber” and “Grim Reaper”; so the artist is expected to draw two separate images; but I rounded them up into a single composition, because I am a genius. I priced the work at $476 billion, but it already sold for $1.3 trillion. Therefore it is beautiful. (Check out the previous page if you like clicking links.)

Dear diary,

Buses bring people to jobs. Why? Why did one soul court another, get married in the Christian church, and produce a child? Was it really so that the world could have another bus passenger? What job is this passenger heading to? I bet he works at the mall, selling shoes. Is this what the human form was invented to accomplish—retail sales? Is that why a man has a brain and a voice? Think how stupid the wild animals are, like tygers: they do not know how to hail a cab; they do not know how to sell footwear. If a tyger climbs aboard a public bus…

I’m only talking about this topic because, the moment I sat down to write, I heard a bus rev past on the street nearby. That’s how important the messages are that God gives me to deliver nowadays. The merest background noise gets positioned front and center on my stage.

After forty-one point three four seven six trips around the sun, a man begins to crave stability. Familiarity becomes more attractive than adventure. But instead of peace, one is offered only an increase in barbarity. Instead of the serene haven it was when you moved here years ago, your neighborhood is now rude & noisy; the town is overrun with street gangs. What are you going to do about it? Find a quiet village and move there? But why should we keep running from place to place? Why can’t old Freud remain in his comfortable study? Shouldn’t certain things be above the war, as bankers are above the law? Shouldn’t the imperial cavalry just part in the middle and trot around me, like I’m a pack mule standing in the road with a spine-load of fool’s gold?

For like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee.

[—Vincentio, the Duke from Measure for Measure ]

Everywhere Moses went, the Red Sea acknowledged him by splitting and rushing around him: it did not wet him; it deferred to him the right-of-way, because it recognized him as a stubborn old man who is rooted in his habits. Young birds would never dare perch outside on the deck of his apartment and chirp loudly while he’s trying to type a blog entry. If this level of disrespect were to be permitted in nature, in the Forests of the Night, nothing would ever get done; progress would be impossible: the Tygers of Wrath would remain uninstructed – they’d never learn to take the bus to school.

Everything annoys me now. Or, blot the now: Everything annoys me. Full stop. I’ve always felt annoyed: that’s my defining trait. If I die, I’ll be known as the personification of annoyance. Like Jesus was “God in the flesh”, I am irk come alive.

Just think about what kind of mark your own existence would leave, if you were to expire this instant. What streak would your being have made? — I guess it’s easier for those who are mythologized. Prometheus is remembered for his fire. Lucifer, for the rigged primary. Moses, for his commandments. But what about yourself? I say you’ll be remembered for the shoes that you sold. You out-vended your fellows, the other jerks in your sales force, because you were motivated. Your trifold goal was:

  1. put food on the table for your children;
  2. clothe your children;
  3. send your children to a good college.

You wanted your kids to have a better life than you; and since you grew up naked, hungry & uneducated, you set these blanks as the evils to reverse. “I hate loafers,” you said, “but I’ll work my tail off selling them, for the sake of the upcoming generation: the future will be glorious, because of the honest labor of people like me.” And now, behold your accomplishment: your children are wearing t-shirts and sneakers; they eat burgers and fries; and they all earned college degrees in business management and finance.

Now I wonder what your children’s goals will be. How will they plan to improve the next generation? If they reach the age of forty-one point three four seven six too, will they be content to simply feed, clothe & school their own kids, your biological grandchildren, the future of the species? Will they hate their jobs like you did? What if their neighborhood, which was so pleasant when they first moved in, becomes a slum overnight? Will they move from place to place in their old age, constantly fleeing the effects of failing economies? What if they run out of quiet new villages to inhabit? Will they populate Saturn? Let us interview your youngest daughter Bauxita:

Bauxita, that’s an interesting name.

Yes, my father named me after bauxite, the sedimentary rock with a relatively high aluminium content.

Ah, the electrical wires in my apartment are aluminium! I know this because we just finished replacing all the light fixtures. We’re trying to sell the place.

I’d say, compared to the more common copper wiring, an aluminium system is inferior. It’s hazardous, flammable…

Yes, I’m sure my apartment is burning down as we speak.

And what’s your name?

Ray, like sunshine: that’s my last name. My first name is Bryan. My dad named me after his army buddy (pops was compelled to enlist in the military because he performed poorly in college). I didn’t get to christen myself. If I were to choose my own name, it’d be Tertius Radnitsky, as I explained in earlier entires here and there.

And what organization are you from?

Well, none, really. I’m just here to interview you for this diary entry that I’m writing. I was brainstorming about where humankind is going, and I dreampt up this guy who rides the bus to work at a shoe shop…

A cobbler?

No, not a boot mender—just a retail guy, working the sales floor.

Oh you mean that fellow in the short-sleeved collared shirt with the company logo on its pocket who measures your foot and then retreats to the back room to check if there are any more pairs of this type of sandal in your size among the store’s inventory?

That’s right. Forgive me, Bauxita; I made that guy your father. And I dreamt that he grew up in poverty, so his one goal was to propel his offspring out of the lower class and into the lower-middle class.

OK.

And I said that he was successful, so that you and your siblings—his children…

Can we give him a name?

Who—your father?

Yes; can we name him? I’ll fall asleep otherwise.

Sure, go ahead. Name your own father.

I’ll call him Fabuleee. With three E’s at the end.

OK, so I invented this lie about Fabuleee becoming a raving success at the shoe shop. I said that, although he loathes working at the place, he continues to slave away for the sake of his kids—that is, for your own sake. John 3:16 “For Fabuleee so loved his children, that he gave his only life to a rotten career, that whosoever was born to him should not flounder, but have a so-so existence.” Thus Fabuleee fed you and clothed you and sent you to college. And you majored in business management with a minor in finance. All of you kids; I gave you all the same basic stats. (By the way, is that the right way to put it: “majored with a minor”? It sounds fishy. I myself never attended any college, so I’m a wolf out of sheepskin talking about it.)

Fuck if I know. I was born from your thigh. Spiritually speaking.

Well anyway, the whole purpose of this interview is to figure out what YOUR goals are – for your own kids, I mean. Compared to your bio-dad, whose dream for you was simply the attainment of your most basic needs, what are your hopes and desires for your sweet father’s grandchildren?

Well I have two kids: a boy and a girl, ages three and nine. The girl’s name is Keeeeey; and the boy is Pip from the novel Great Expectations. My goals for them are pretty much the same as my dad’s goals were for me. So I guess you don’t have to be starving and naked to value food and clothing. But I don’t much care whether my children attend college – I think that life will be hard for them either way, whether they get an education or remain fresh wild and bold.

And do you like your job?

Of course not.

And what do you do?

Well what I do is laze about, and lean and loaf, and contemplate flowers. That’s what I do. But the labor that I’m forced to perform for pay is a number of part-time jobs: one is bricklaying; one is stocking shelves at a mega retailer (sort of like my dad but I’m not required to worship people’s feet); and I also work in the office at a hospital, where I create spreadsheets that help the doctors know how much to charge for opiates. On the side, I also send spam emails for a couple pyramid schemes. And various political groups pay me to mushroom their talking points throughout the social networks.

*

That’s as much as I imagined about my conversation with Bauxita before my sweetheart interrupted by bursting into the front room and announcing “I’m gonna take out the garbage, OK?” And I answered her: “Alright, but be careful, because there’s always suspicious characters lurking around our courtyard area – I don’t want you to get into any trouble.”

Then she left. She slammed the door on her way out, because she’s not graceful like I am. So here I thought about trying to continue the above nonsense interview with Bauxita, but I’d already lost interest. Then about ten minutes later, my sweetheart returns inside, so I ask: “How was it out there? Scary? Did you run into any ‘bad hombres’?” And she answers cheerily: “No people, no problems! Just a lawnmower.” So, to win the argument, I snapped: “A lawnmower IS a personal problem.”

Now I’ll give my victory speech:

CLOSING CON

I’m basically saying that beauty is a language game. If we leave the term undefined – that is, vaguely informed by common usage – then it remains, like a beam or a mote, in the eye of the beholder. Jesus says:

First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)

Like the word “God”, if we leave the term “beauty” to define itself, then no one will be able to verify its presence outside the bound of any individual’s mind; whereas, if we define our term sharply, we can render it entirely verifiable; for, to establish something objectively requires that we make a measurement, and the act of measuring requires a standard rule:

I can ask “How tall is that chair in the bedroom?” And anyone can walk into the bedroom and hold up a measuring rod against the chair, then return and tell me their answer: “Two rods tall.” This is possible only because, as a society, we’ve agreed to follow the rule that states: The length of an object shall be given as a ratio of rods.

And if one says “Now tell me: How tall is my soul?” The problem is not that the soul is immeasurable but rather that the soul is undefined. If we define the soul as “One’s physical manifestation from crown to hoof”, then a lab worker can assure me objectively: “Your soul is six rods tall.”

The same goes for beauty. If we ask: “Is that painting of a chair beautiful?” No one can answer, beyond giving a personal, subjective impression: “It seems beautiful to me,” or “I’m not particularly moved by it—so my opinion is that it is not beautiful.” But if we define beauty as “anything that contains the likeness of a chair”, then when our voice booms over the lab intercom: “Is your boss’s painting beautiful?” the workforce can answer as one: “Yes, provably so.” (All that remains subjective about this answer is the onslaught of unspoken expletives that each respective mind aims at our image.) As it is written:

Man is a changeable beast, and words change their meanings with him, and things are not what they seemed, and what’s what becomes what isn’t, and if we think we know where we are it’s only because we are so rapidly being translated to somewhere else.

[—from “Pornography and Obscenity” by D.H. Lawrence]

In sum: the more precisely we define our terms, the more objectively verifiable our judgments will be, yet the less thrilling the entire experience shall prove. For it is the subjective element, the only-half-knowable aspect, the slippery realm of rhetorical persuasion and impressionism that allures us: these “messy” enigmas attract us most to art.

And there’s the rub. Since “Nature Herself” offers no such givens, no definitions, no instruction manual; and since humankind has carelessly (or perhaps with accidental genius) allowed art and beauty to remain such hazy concepts, the power of one’s own definitions is limited by the scope of one’s influence. And, as artists who care about humanity, soul, beauty, art, etc., the amount of influence we currently wield is slight. I stress that word “currently”, however; for, in the future, our influence might be enormous. Either way, we’re in good company, with Jesus of Nazareth. And anyone who thinks that Jesus wielded influence in his day should consider that, before the majority of humans had heard his name, his contemporaries had already killed his body, and the Apostle Paul had already killed his spirit.

Yet if it ends up that we solve the present mystery, all is not lost; for one problem that we can look forward to is this: Instead of a chair, we can paint a picture of Yahweh God standing upon the subjective-objective borderline and clutching his rod; then we can ask our laboratory assistants “How deep is the Devil?” You see: our lab assistants will not know whether to measure the subject according to the rod that exists inside the painting, OR to use a measuring rod from our actual world outside, to determine the truth. So that’s the first of many splendors that will still exist, even if we prove wise.

Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the LORD stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. (Amos 7:7)

09 June 2018

All thots on topic A stay on topic A

But first, here’s the marker that helps me navigate library items.

Dear diary,

My confessions here have recently been either… Let me start over:

I neither want to write nor not to write right now, but I’m writing cuz I need to do something different from the work that I’ve been doing, and I have no cares or interests beyond THOT. But I also like the world and everything in it. Now you ask: What work have I been doing? —I’ve been slaving in the circle of hell called house repair. Like all the frumpy homeowners in the Midwest. Except I’m not engaging in this activity to please my own taste: I’m not renovating my palace because my kids are all finally out on their own and I just retired from my job as a government defense contractor (read: offense contractor) and the wife wants dolphin-patterned wallpaper on every reachable surface plus Greek columns made out of genuine vinyl; no, I’m FORCED to do these overhauls, to get out of jail. And by jail I mean my apartment. For, as I’ve explained in every entry that I’ve written since the beginning of last month, I can’t sell this place without fixing it up. (It was good enough for ME to live in, for twenty years or more, but I am not human.) Or maybe I could just sell it as-is and become penniless and then die staring at a mall. That’s a tempting alternative.

(In the above paragraph, near the end, I changed “wall” to “mall”, because the latter is basically the former with an upside-down double-you; but the nod is still to “Bartleby, the Scrivener”, a tale by Melville.)

So, for the multitudes among my readership who are keeping tally with my home-repair progress, I’ll update our accomplishments. The things that, to date, have got done, are as follows:

I replaced the countertops, which were yellow and dated, with new countertops, which are earth-toned and soon-to-be-dated. I installed a wheat-hued granite sink, and a silver swan faucet. (Actually I installed none of this stuff myself—I just paced to & fro nearby while professionals did the work—but I believe I added a cubit to my stature in the process.) And the neck of the silver swan faucet is extendable – it’s an extension hose – so you can aim its face at tough stains on your plates and press the button on the side to make it hiss. And I replaced all the carpet. The trick to installing carpet is to attach it to the stairs (using a staple gun) so that one leg of the staple is in the wood while the other metal leg is pointing upwards, sharp as a knife – then you can step on it. Also make sure that, during any install, you scuff all the white walls with your black boot – do this “on accident”; otherwise the walls will look too clean. And here is the reason:

Any country whose homes are uniformly immaculate will lose its artists in a hurry. Artists prefer slightly shabby environs. Dilapidation, to them, equals character. I took a trip to Europe, back in my college days when I was a baby-boomer, just to amble around and figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and, tho I intended to stay there for six months, I ended up leaving after just three days, because the place was too clean. There’s another lesson in this: If your country gets ravished by warfare, DON’T make the mistake of rebuilding. If you clean up the damage, the result will look fresh and new—which is to say, hygienic—and this will scare away the artists. Artists yearn for tradition, for they are creatures of habit; and tradition is a slummy affair: thus artists prefer worldwide war; they also enjoy starvation, hence the byword “starving artists”.

Lastly (I’m now returning to our list of completed house projects), I had to snap together more fake wood for the landing. (I call our dump’s vestibule “the landing”.) And today or tomorrow—sometime this weekend, or maybe Monday or Tuesday—we’re getting our bathroom neutered. Right now our bathroom looks like modern art. I yanked the light fixture out of its socket, so its wires are splayed like a stick figure’s evil claw; and the vanity and sink has been torn from the bosom of its mother—by which I mean the surrounding drywall—so all that’s left is a frozen ooze of old paint and stain, with copper antennas for eyes, like a robotic snail, terminating in two shiny hexagonal shut-off valves. My bathroom is a Willem de Kooning masterwork. I’ll sell it to you for seventy-seven dollars, if you can manage to take it away while leaving the rest of the house intact. It would be worth it to have an apartment with a massless void in place of a water closet. That would be sure to attract the artists. Then we could gentrify this neighborhood.

Now I imagine a reporter whose name is Rebecca speaking to me: “Dear Bryan, how do you feel about your moving experience? What are your emotions, what is your inward reaction to this upheaval? Being a dilettante, you aspire to embrace the chaos and dirt that artists are rumored to love – have you found yourself successful in this respect?”

Well, Becky…

“Don’t call me Becky. I am NOT your familiar.”

Well, Ms. K—, I feel scared about this moving experience. So scared that I can’t even sleep at night. I can only sleep during the day. I can only sleep after I’ve woken up, when I’m at my day job. (I love sleeping at my day job. I also love playing the game Solitaire on the computer when my boss thinks I’m maximizing his profits.) And my “emotions” with regard to this “moving experience” are primarily anger and sadness. But mostly fear. They’re all the same buzz – my emotions, I mean. What happens is this:

I mull over the possibilities of my near-future, and I see nothing but mischance, so I begin to feel terror: excess energy, cold and bracing. Now, at the first sign of this dread, I instinctively bristle—my soul’s fight-function upsurges and aims to dispel the unwanted energy like a firecat. And by “dispel” I mean either “fend off” or “intimidate” or something. (It is a battle wholly internalized.) And I use the terms “bristle” and “firecat” because I’m thinking of a poem by Wallace Stevens—the one that begins his first volume Harmonium—called “Earthy Anectode”; here’s the first lines:

Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Tho this poem means something entirely different, I wrench it from its context and use it however I please, because…

Well anyway, to answer your question, my “inward reaction” about this attempted move is primarily worry, fear, anxiety… because I’m sure that I won’t do a proper job fixing up this house, and then the potential buyer will hire a home inspector to march thru and judge my apartment’s hairstyle, and she’ll find that it’s not sufficiently bouncy, that it doesn’t have the right amount of shine and wave, and that it’s not sensual enough: it’s not motion-picture ready.

Now, to the last part of your inquiry, about whether I have attained my goal of embracing “the chaos and dirt that artists are rumored to love” – I must say: No, I have not found myself successful in this respect. I like beautiful things. I don’t enjoy living in squalor. (The key of “v” on modern English typewriters is positioned directly above the “spacebar” key, so when I typed that last short sentence, it came out “I don’t like to li e in squalor” – just so you know… also, in typing this here parenthetical aside, I spelled spacebar “spacepar”. Is God trying to tell me something?) (No, you’re just clumsy.) Moreover, I don’t agree with this notion that artists DESIRE poverty and starvation, just because they’re often obliged to make the best of such things.

But what is humankind’s objective? It rankles me that Jesus is still relevant. After a couple thousand years of digesting his teachings, shouldn’t we have mastered them by now? They’re not too hard to grasp: Love your enemies; renounce wealth; forgive everyone… Instead of allowing this guidance to make society bloom into paradise, we…

Alright, I told myself before I began this entry: No more whining about perpetual war and the dog-eat-dog casino-culture of snatch more money for ME alone! me! me! me! …oh & also snatch money for my children if they’re still young & cute… —So I won’t go there.

But how do we know WHICH decisions money is good at making? People shout “Remove all protections and regulations from the marketplace, because money knows best: money will make the best decisions for our world.” But then sometimes the very same people shout “Do not pay money for love: prostitution is wrong!” or “Get money out of politics, because it’s ruining democracy!” —First of all, what democracy? When has any country ever had a democracy! Even those little island-states populating the expanse where ships end up after they vanish into the Devil’s Triangle: those tiny fragmented resorts try to implement democracy, and what happens? Some money-worshipping super-culture bombs them into submission: “Give our transnational corporations your natural resources, cuz hard work pays off: you gotta study in school and apply yourself to your career; only then will you deserve to join us in pillaging you. This advice that we offer is freedom: Not a fish but a fishing pole.” MORAL: Democracy is a good word but a bad practice because the populace usually votes against puppet regimes.

The main problem with our culture, by the way, is that artists do not have the discipline to perform a mass strike, or a mass boycott. All artists of the world should belong to one big union, so that they can say “If you, O society, continue to make us live in subpar conditions—sub spacepar AND sub timepar—then we will refuse to create our fun magical shit. That means no more television miniseries, no more blockbuster films, no more fantasy & romance novels, no more jewelry, no more glam rock, no more video games, no more sports jerseys, no more photos of couples fornicating, and no more stories being told via two-way walkie-talkies or C.B. radios (‘citizens band’ short-distance communicating devices). All you get is the mainstream news on your portable phone. Corporate stranglehold.”

The Artist Union’s hope is that Earth’s population will prove unable to tolerate such a dire existence (for who can stomach the mainstream news without washing it down with a couple superhero movies?) and thus a contract will be established guaranteeing every artist affordable access to fishing supplies.

But what’ll happen is this: the strike will backfire. People will adapt to their art-deprived surroundings. And consider this also: there is no such thing as art-deprived surroundings. Art is everywhere, and every act, no matter how remote, is essentially artistic. Even banksters are, on a certain level, fine artists. Politicians are artists. So-called smart phones produce and display their own art, which people will learn to lap up in place of their customary fare. Even the mainstream corporate news media conglomerate is one vast artist, having the form of a seven-headed sea-beast (Revelation 13:1). And war is art: destruction is creation. Poverty is art: for God kicked us out of his garden…

But the current fad is to throw tantrums about fascism. “O my gosh the U.S.A. is turning fascist!” What does this mean? How can a democracy turn fascist without the permission of its voting populace? Well let’s just say: Who cares what fascism really means, and don’t worry about how a true, direct democracy could simply “turn fascist” overnight – as far as I understand, the U.S. is a democratic republic, anyway – it’s more interesting to let the mental experiment play out… So how are things different, under fascism? We don’t like the pattern on the drapes anymore. We want to change it to dolphins. OK, done. Here’s what I’m trying to get at: What if Jesus is the fascist? Is fascism permissible then? Because, if fascism means “bad government that nobody likes” then God seems pretty fascistic to me; and if Jesus is God’s son, or God’s brother or double or spokesperson or antitype – whether he’s God in the flesh, or not God at all but a God-substitute – if he ends his strike and agrees to star in his sequel, then what system should Jesus choose to rule the world? You sure don’t want a direct democracy in heaven, otherwise all saints will unanimously re-elect Satan.

. . . Hey, why am I writing an entry when I could be sleeping!?

04 June 2018

Scientific musings that came to me this morning

Dear diary,

Is it possible that life will ever stop being so frantic? Is it even an available option, that life will calm down? One looks around one’s earthly living quarters and sees all types of existence, which are all so varied and yet seem to share, at their core, the same spazzy quintessence: whether it’s insects or birds or mammals or bacteria and viruses: they all appear desperate to live more more more more! I wish that life would just cool it; take a chill pill: relax. Because everything expires eventually: that’s entropy—you’re not fooling death by acting all jittery and suspicious while eating your food. Look at the robins: they appear so patient when you see them standing on the lawn in their formal ware, but then they jut in paroxysms when pulling a worm from the soil.

Did you ever notice, by the way, how much your innards resemble a worm? I’m talking about the human digestive system. Throw the stomach away, and the bones, and all the other stuff on the outside like limbs and face, and what’re you left with? The intestines: which are like one giant worm. You could take a plastic doll, or a toy figurine of a soldier, and hollow out its torso with a hot spoon; then arrange a regular garden-variety worm into a zigzag spiral shape, insert it into the hollowed-out cavern of the soldier or damozel, and voilĂ : you’ve created a human.

I think of life as the natural tendency of the world. The world is made of stuff, and all that stuff interacts: quarks, photons, protons, neutrons, electrons, atoms, molecules… I’m not a scientist, so forgive my shoddy sales-pitch. The stuff of the world clings together, because things love each other, or else things fly apart because they hate each other, or they orbit around one another because they’re curious but not yet ready to commit to an official fusion… I’m thinking about what happened after the Big Bang. It’s not at all interesting to consider what the world was like before the Big Bang, because it was just God floating inside himself, waiting to speak the magic word. But after that word was uttered, the Big Bang happened (“bang” was actually the sound of the word being spoken), and all the stuff swarmed around like gnats in a sunbeam. Joining, repelling, circling… All this stuff – where did it come from? The answer is that it was always here: as I just said, it was God floating inside himself. Then God broke when he spoke. (As I’ve explained repeatedly elsewhere, I only refer to the creator of the world as “he” because God possesses one male sex organ.) Now the tiny divine fragments—the photons quarks bosons and positrons—interact, as I explained, and begin to form forms. Form (verb) = to form. Form (noun) = that which is formed. So stuff forms forms. More complex than the tiniest godling fragment, but still pretty simple. Some stuff forms into the shape of a wheel. Other stuff forms into the shape of an axle. Now you can see where this is going: When the wheel stuff meets the axle stuff, they join together and become one flesh – that’s how horseless buggies are born. So this process continues: As the temperature of the world goes from hot to cooler, the stuff, which was initially boiling like lava up in space, begins to thicken, clot, congeal, set, coagulate, and jell into a cake – it forms a mass. First, single-celled organisms are born from little molecules, and then eventually squids, which crawl onto land and become wolves, which mutate into wolfmen. These are the first human beings. Some Christians are like: “I don’t believe you. My great grandfather was NOT a werewolf.” But, as a scientist, I can simply shout “Yes he was – here’s a picture to prove it.” Because, as it says in “Song of Myself”, at the end of section 25:

I carry the plenum of proof & every thing else in my face,
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.

I don’t have to say anything at all, to convince Christians to follow me. Being the Antichrist, I have one single plan: thwart God’s will. All that prophecy that is written at the end of the Bible, telling how I the Antichrist will act when I appear on the Earth, what I will say and how I’ll accomplish my scheme: I just make sure to avoid those things. Thus I make God the false prophet. My only job is to be born, wait around, and die. So if I ever begin to feel pressure and anxiety about money matters or apartment repairs that need to be done, I just remind myself to “keep my eye on the ball” – that’s what my grandpa used to say: “Keep your eye on the ball, Bryan.” My grandpa was a baseball fan, so all of his wisdom was presented in metaphors taken from that game. He was the first hairless werewolf among the near-humans. Instead of being covered with stinking fur all over his body, my grandpa only had hair on his head, and sometimes a mustache, like a proper gentleman. All his other pre-hominid neighbors in Poplar, Wisconsin were hirsuter than Sasquatch – that’s what distinguished my grandpa from the pack. He should have been the king; but instead he was forced to buy cattle from truckers and keep his own garden. I always told him that he should invent robots to tend the crops. But he argued that if he were to manufacture an android farmer, he’d engineer it so that, the second you turned it on, its right spade-knife (for he would build it with spade-knives in place of hands) would immediately plunge straight into its own robot head. Why? Because this would be the perfect machine: it would have JUST ONE command, and it would follow it perfectly. Thus entropy would have no time to lure the beast from its intended path. If you allow computers too much leeway, they always end up botching the mission. Think about HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). He’s so-so at chess. Now think about the start of the King James Bible: the book of Genesis. God makes two perfect robots to tend his spaceship, and the first thing they do, once they’re left alone, is become moral philosophers. They partake of the fruit of the forbidden tree and “become like God, to know both good and evil”: then, as duplicate deities, they create for themselves a perfect robot in their own image: Cain – the first serial murderer. And so on and so forth. That’s what happens when you mimic the LORD God’s preoccupation with good and evil. But my grandfather, as the forebear of Antichrist, wanted his mechanical garden slave to be exclusively GOOD. That’s why he made it with spade-knives for hands, having diamond-sharp blades, plus a spring-loaded right arm and a soft-serve, easy-to-reach cranium. And its mind was on the outside of its skull.

So, as I was saying, stuff combines into other stuff. You can use your phone camera to capture a video record of cells dividing. Just summon a frog from out of the nearby creek and tell it “Hold still.” Then set your phone-cam’s mode of perception to Microscopic Time-lapse, and watch the little green egg-like building blocks that comprise the frog’s physicality begin to quiver and split. That’s growth in action. It’s the same with human babies: The sperm begins as a tadpole; it flies toward the large green egg above the horizon. It burns up as it enters the solar atmosphere, but its spirit continues to inform the star how to progress. Soon a zygote can be seen glowing inside the satellite’s cornea. (Its center has now expanded beyond its circumference.) The initial modifications that all pre-birth mammals endure, you will note, echo faithfully the whole history of evolution: first the zygote looks like a baby squid, with a barbed tail for thrashing; next it grows to an embryo, which resembles a bristly grey wolf; and finally it emerges from the matrix into the arms of its delivering doctor, who squeegees away the birth-slime to reveal the shape of a miniature gentleman, boasting a spongy mane of hair and a pencil moustache.

But leftists are only wasting their time if their message is anything other than “End capitalism NOW.” Because, no matter how much leftward progress is made in this country, it’ll all just evaporate in the subsequent generations, IF capitalism is not eradicated. For capitalism incentivizes right-wing behavior. Here, I’ll prove my point: As I write this, in the bad year 2018, the most leftward-leaning among the politicians that the public is allowed to view is U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, and he has a litany of slightly left goals that he touts whenever he gets within speaking-range of a bullhorn; and people—I am one of them—cheer Mr. Sanders and say “Yes! he’s got all the answers!” HOWEVER, when you ask Mr. Sanders who his heroes are, he does not answer “William Blake, Franz Kafka, Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Jarry, and Amos the Prophet”; no, Mr. Sanders says “My hero is Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Now who is this Roosevelt? The priests say that FDR was the 32nd President of the United States. But if you ask around at your local saloon, you’ll find that he’s popularly known as the left-wing’s savior and the right-wing’s enemy. This is dead wrong: he’s the RIGHT’s savior and the LEFT’s worst nightmare. Why do I say this? Because FDR saved capitalism – he implemented all those plans that are indeed left-leaning, which Mr. Sanders wants to implement all over again; and yet consider what happened, in the years following FDR’s administration: The populace, which was starving and wilted, quickly snapped back to health; the most recent of the recurrent capitalist boom-bust disasters—the Great Depression—had stomped the people flat, and they were pissed off and ready to chuck the system to the curb—the U.S. public was set to kill capitalism—but then FDR comes and implements the Sanders Plan, and the people’s corpse is revivified: the populace resurrects… yet, because the overarching system of capitalism was not entirely eliminated, the ultra-wealthy Scrooges immediately got to work chipping away at this grand life-sustaining mechanism. Now fast-forward roughly one generation, and we have the Great Recession (yet another of the recurrent capitalist boom-bust disasters) and the people are wilting again, and the populace is raging and crying out the same slogans as were shouted during the former Depression; and we’re all yearning for the implementation of FDR-style plans, because we need to be resuscitated. Thus I ask: Why can’t we see the problem! If Senator Sanders’ ideas, which are a reboot of FDR’s ideas, are so darn good (which I believe they are), then why are we having to fight like mad to implement them AGAIN, so soon after they were initially implemented!? Instead of hating him, right-wingers should LOVE Sanders and vote for him, because only Sanders can save their beloved system of capitalism. Right-wingers are always yearning for a freer market. But a totally unfettered capitalism would last about as long as my grandfather’s robot – the one that had a single function: to knife itself in the head.

Sorry about the political detour. I know it doesn’t fit here, and I hate that I wrote it; but this journal is for spilling out the contents of my fret-box, whether I like them or not; and one can’t always display only the nice pink parts of one’s enigma, otherwise people will grow suspicious: “Where’s the sickly orange parts?” – well the above is my reptilian zone preserved in amber. That’s as close as I get to orange. Over the ages, I graduated from lizard to semi-human; that’s why my intellect’s brilliant sector is reptilian. Like the stages of growth of a fetus, the brain preserves a record of all the things it has been. So if it’s true that humankind will eventually stop orbiting itself and its atoms will desist from repelling each other and rather cling together in truest love, till they form a more complex machine, a more perfect union, which shall float inside of its previous manifestation, just as God floated inside of God before the Big Bang, then these howling tendencies of my werewolf nature will remain, or at least traces of them shall echo, however faintly, in the lowest parts of that upcoming overman’s weblog.

03 June 2018

From one hackneyed thot to another

Here’s the next page from my 700 Drawing Prompts book. The prompt for this one was “Carousel”. It is a triptych; I am setting the price of the panels at $900 apiece; but you can buy the whole image for $2500. (That’s a savings of $200!) See the previous page for more info and links to the foregoing etc., etc.

Dearest diary,

I fear that my thoughts on this day will be repetitions of same-old obsessions, because I’m under a lot of stress trying to fix up my apartment (with the aim of selling it), and I’ve noticed that under tense periods of life, I tend to use these diary entries as a form of escape, to dodge the pressures of daily responsibility; yet later, when the pressure has passed, I’ll go back and re-read what I wrote, and I’ll be struck by the frantic-low quality of my ideas: What I presumed was profound at the time of its composition was in fact only manic, desperate. So let this serve as a disclaimer. Now here are my thoughts:

The cruel thing about life is that you can never escape from it. What I mean is this: Life is exactly like a bad dream, for, if you have a dream that’s bad, you can opt to end it, but then, at the moment of your demise, you will always awake alive and well again: so there’s no use leaving, because being alive and well was the dream that you were trying to flee from. Likewise, in real life, if you lapse your placeholder, you merely enter another predicament. It’s like praying for a job transfer but then receiving, in answer to your prayer, only an alternate position in the same corporation: a different yet similarly windowless office elsewhere in the building. For instance, on ditching angel life, you get sent to a super cool planet with neat-smart aliens, and everything is attractive and you love the prospects of existence; however, at about age six, you realize that you’re never going to get to enjoy any of the good stuff: for, among the aliens, you’re an unlikable nobody.

No, you cannot die. There is no full-stop. “Nothing is final, he chants. No man shall see the end.” Those are the words that Wallace Stevens gives Walt Whitman to say, in one of Stevens’ poems. “There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,” as Whitman himself gives himself to say, in “Song of Myself” (45):

If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their
     surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a pallid
     float, it would not avail in the long run,
We should surely bring up again where we now stand…

You can mar the configuration of elements that make up your present form, thus changing it so severely that it’s rendered unlivable; but the elements that comprised that now-deceased form will only rearrange eventually—“Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that…” (Ibid. 45)—and you’ll be just as surprised, at some future point, to find yourself perceiving thru the eyes of a lion, as you are at present to be thinking thru the mind of a liar.

That’s why it’s so important, at least to me (I’m just talking to myself now), to make this bad dream pleasant for everyone else; because I never know when I’m going to BE someone else. I might as easily wind up as them someday, as, yet again, this morning, I wound up as me.

What led you to your current state? (I’m addressing the reader now.) Why are you yourself? How did that happen, the anchoring of your essence to this particular being? Was there choice involved?

I myself think that there was no choice involved in our becoming whoever we are (unless freewill and determinism are one); but, if I’m wrong—if the self really does choose its identity—then why is memory SO hazy about it that the episode can even be questioned? Shouldn’t it be patently absurd, or evidence of severe mental illness, if one were to ask: “Why am I what I am? And what was I before I was this thing?”

Most of us understand what it’s like to be a person. But what is it like to be a place? I now realize, just from asking this, that I’m presupposing that a person is not a place. But what is a place? Isn’t it simply a quantity of spacetime? Thus, people are places. (Furthermore, moods might be even more like places; unless imagination is no part of spacetime.) Yet it still seems right to differentiate between, say, a person like Bryan and, say, a place like Minnesota. Although Bryan is a Minnesotan, and Minnesota is a Bryan-trap, Bryan is not just a fragment of Minnesota:

When I Bryan escape out my back door and enter into Iowa, that state does not scream “The poison of Minnesota has invaded me!” or “Minnesota has infected me with its virus!” for it’s understood that when an individual visits a vacation resort like the glorious Iowan cornfields, she (my soul) temporarily cloaks herself in the environs of her newfound paradise, and it (Iowa’s genius) is absorbed into the pores of her identity – just as the skin of a chameleon glows green when you place it next to the Statue of Liberty, whereas it takes on flesh tones when you remove the Statue’s robe. As it is written:

We will give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. (Genesis 43:16)

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us. (Genesis 3:22)

Two apparently contradictory maxims are hereby reconciled: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”; and “All roads lead to Rome”. For, if every road leads to Rome, then all creatures are Roman citizens intrinsically: One can’t take a road to one’s home without it leading to Rome, therefore one’s home is in Rome; so one cannot DO otherwise than “as the Romans do” because one is oneself a Roman, and every act one commits is thus, by definition, pre-approved by Caesar. (My point is that the soul needs neither to change its color nor its flavor.)

Do we understand the full implication of this? There is one great spirit, and it infests all things: In the parable, Rome and Romans represent the world and its beings. Say that you consider your neighbor an enemy, so you punch his face – this is just as silly as punching yourself in the face: that’s why we teach “Love your enemies”: for you’ll appreciate it when you become your own worst enemy. I mean that literally. And if you object “But the difference between me and my hateful neighbor, who is NOT a Roman, is that when I punch myself in the face, I feel great pain; whereas, when I bomb my enemy, that evil Iowan, I feel no pain at all, not even the pain of pity, for the news networks in Minnesota do not broadcast any of the carnage that results from our decades-long war with that neighboring state.”

I remember once when we offered Iowa a horse—big, hollow, and wooden—and they thought it was a gift: after unwrapping it, they cried “O thank you for making this the best Xmas ever!” Then I, the King of Minnesota, barked: “Open it up.” And they say, “We already did open it: it’s a gift horse – just look at its beautiful wooden teeth.” And I explain, “No, open up the beast itself – it’s got a secret door on its belly: pull that latch.”

And when the state of Iowa slides open the giant wooden horse’s secret door, behold, millions of candy figurines spill out onto the battlefield – they are green in hue and shaped like the Statue of Liberty. (This is the same offering of friendship that, wayback, the U.S. half-rejected from France.) Now Iowa exclaims “I understand! (for I skimmed your blog post from last Tuesday) — this explosion of lime green Martians from the equestrian mothership signifies that you are pregnant with nine malic moulds!” And, sooner or later, all the unfamiliar anti-muses burst from my forehead, where they’ve been patiently gestating; and they’re all fashioned from the same “Athena” candy mold as the Liberty Statues that burst from Pegasus’s uterus; but, instead of dull green with a metallic aftertaste, when beheld, each anti-muse radiates its own unique hue; and plus, when sucked, each flaunts its own flavor.

*

This entry went downhill fast. I began it with the intention of introducing an idea that never made it into the text. So what I really wanted to say must remain unsaid – and that is this:

There is a reason that apartment builders don’t install a toggle switch in your shower which is labeled, on one side, “water”, and on the flipside, “deadly mist”. It’s because too many people would try the latter option; not necessarily due to despair but simply out of curiosity. But the universal allure of convenient expiry is a topic that seemed too morbid to jump into without a lead-in. So I started my lead-in (to be clear, I’m now self-reviewing the manner in which the present entry began) by questioning how we all arrived in these prisons of mortal flesh. But then I got carried away and never made it past the opening stage. So the entry is like a head without a torso, unless I began with the feet… or rather the plinth. (A statue birthed breach.) What really killed it was that, at a certain point, I became fixated on the idea of achieving a callback to that base joke from my previous post—the above-linked entry that I made Iowa claim to have skimmed—which goes “I Bryan recently got pregnant with a baby, by accident, after my trip to the house of ill fame; and the infant is gestating in my forehead—it’ll be a fun surprise when it bursts forth unexpectedly.” I had intended to give birth near the end of that same post from Tuesday the 29th, but then I forgot (blog entries, like humans, tend to slink away from me), and yesterday’s post contained no reference to childbirth, alas, so midway thru this present post, I began to wonder if, after all, maybe I wasn’t pregnant but only potbellied. So when the anti-muses appeared, I felt relieved. By the way, in case you’ve NOT been living in a cave with me for all time, “Nine Malic Moulds” is the title of a work by Marcel Duchamp.

Anything else you wanna add?

Yeah. I was thinking about warfare again today, because every day the World News is just war, war, war. And I remembered the first time I heard that phrase “the war on terror” – how it sounded so obviously wrongheaded that I wondered if someone among the nation’s leadership were just arrogantly teasing the population, not even trying to win us over to their objectives anymore. And then I was talking to a friend who is anti-war, and he was telling me, or rather urging me to get involved with the anti-war movement, to “Do something for peace!” and he said “For too long, nations have been declaring war – it’s time that We the People declare peace!” and he asked me “What are YOU willing to do for peace, dear Bryan?—I’ll give you a list of options separated by the word ‘OR’:

“Are you willing to spread the word about peace, OR to share peace propaganda on the social media, OR to volunteer in our justice outreach thingamajig, OR to contribute tech expertise so that the peace movement can have an enjoyable website (pardon the oxymoron), OR to give financial support to the cause, OR to engage in nonviolent civil resistance, OR to lobby elected officials? Those are the choices.”

So I thought to myself: Wouldn’t it be funny if I said “I’m so gung-ho for peace that I’m willing to go to war for it!” —Now the second I write this down, I realize that probably George Orwell or someone like him has already popularized such a notion, but I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read Nineteen Eighty-Four or his Animal Farm novel – I’ve only checked out a few of his essays, which I thought were very good (the reason I didn’t continue on to his famous books is that I kept reading the Bible over and over, and I lost track of time) – so if I’m guilty again of reinventing the wheel, then [insert final words for a good conclusion]. I think that this idea of mine, this wholly original idea that I’m the first to publish, is even better than a war on terror: a war on war. The only way we’ll stop violent combat is to combat it violently: then, it follows that everything’ll become super-peaceful; and we’ll all fall asleep again, even deeper; which is to say: we’ll all wake up in worse positions. The nightmare intensifies…

*

Goddammit. I don’t want to end this this way, but I’m exhausted; so I’ll let it go and hope I do better next time.

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