09 October 2015

A mass of floundering, fragmentary jottings

To make up for yesterday’s short entry, today I wrote a long entry. It’s as coherent as the contents of a grab bag.

Thoughts

Is this world of ours the best that God can create; or did God not even attempt to create it well? Either way, this “Creator God” frightens me. I was relieved to discover that he doesn’t actually exist.

They say “Locks are for honest people.” Property should be made so secure that even its possessor cannot access it: for instance, a home security system should keep out even the homeowner.

If my list of awful things that I hope to avoid is too much for you to remember, O Fate, simply keep at bay all pain and humiliation in general. I don’t mind death—I understand that; death is more than welcome—but all the tedium that precedes it: that’s what I’d like to steer clear of. Think of this as our company’s mission statement: No pain or humiliation. Print it on a banner.

There’s more dust on the screen of my television than there are stars in the nighttime sky.

Pray for one turkey burger, light on the onions. Note what happens.

As I pointed out in a previous entry, the first thing that God does after manufacturing the world [in Genesis 1] is to lay down a strict prohibition [in Genesis 2]; which was a lie, by the way: “Don’t touch this tree; it’ll kill you”—the truth is that God himself would starve his slaves to death by withholding the fruit of immortality. Then, so many years after cursing the very beings that he made in his image, he murders his only son and says: “I’ll allow mankind back into par­adise if and only if you drink the boy’s blood.”

I realize that I’m being unfair: I’m presenting these biblical concepts in the harshest light, because I loathe them. That’s not even inter­esting to me myself—I’ll try to speak gentler now; I’ll try to err.

(I almost wrote, “I’ll try to err on the side of a softball interview,” but I wasn’t comfortable using the word softball like that.)

Peanut shells are proof of design in nature, because their shape vaguely resembles a human thumb.

How do we know we’re alone in our universe? Who can tell what else might be out there? There are more things in heaven and earth, says Hamlet, than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And, although I don’t think that it would necessarily be a bad thing to conclude that life is meaningless, the fact is: we simply don’t know if life has a meaning; perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t. Moreover, who in the world has the authority to declare the true meaning of life? Only newborns. And they can’t communicate intelligibly yet. (Or can they?)

Daily I ponder the question of relocating. Until this year, it was good for me to stay in Dullsville, because I needed to finish my writings; but now the game has changed, and I hope that I can roll with it. The only thing that’s unfortunate is that I’m old to be uprooting my life and diving into the unknown. But I remind myself of the refugees from all the various Hells-on-Earth who have been given no choice but to evacuate their homeland. Sigmund Freud was over 80 years old and suffering from oral cancer when he had to deracinate his well-established family and flee from the idiocies of his era.

Recently I finished reading The Wings of the Dove—this was my second time through, and I was even more spellbound than the first: I deeply love that novel.

The book that I just began to read is Kenneth Burke’s The Rhetoric of Religion—here, I’ll give a quote from the part that I read last night (I’m only on page 35):

To get the point, we need but consider the development of ecclesiastic vestments in connection with religious cere­monies in the Christian churches. It seems that such vest­ments were not borrowed from the ritual garments of other faiths (were not adaptations, for instance, of the vestments worn by pagan or Jewish priests). Rather, they were originally secular garments, styles worn by people outside the Church (the primary ritualistic requirement being that they be neat and clean). However, these gar­ments came to take on a purely ritualistic meaning. For as the secular styles of clothing gradually changed, the tradi­tional vestments worn by the priests were still retained for use in the liturgy. Thus gradually the ecclesiastical vest­ments came to be piously “set apart” from the common secular styles. The habitual habits, the customary cos­tumes, of priests and laymen thus in time diverged (a development to be noted in the very word “vestment” it­self, which is now usually applied to specifically ecclesi­astical forms of dress, but originally referred to “clothing” in general).

I like this point; it brings to mind many similar happenings. Even the word “scripture” simply meant “writing,” until its sense was augmented by usage: originally, any instance whatsoever of written language was known as scripture—one’s grocery list was scripture—but when people left off using that term so generally, the newly restricted usage imbued the term with prestige. Thus the “Word of God” was, in fact, sanctified by sinners.

At present, any decent person can be called an enemy; but if we were to capitalize the “E,” and begin to use the term as a proper name only to denote one single poetic character, then the English word Enemy will have mimicked the career of the Hebrew title Satan. That’s why I named the heroine of my anti-novella “satan Selavy” (with a lowercase “s” on that first word). The proper noun comes from Marcel Duchamp (to whom the book is an homage), although I dropped the accent from the surname of his alter ego Rrose Sélavy, because this seemed like the American thing to do. Here are some lines from section thirteen of that scripture:

In wonderment all now gazed on satan Selavy. Notwith­standing the fact that the Aesthetic Marvel was scarcely human, this beautiful queen had restored to him his desire and now verily was injecting him with the poison of true love. He thought he was simply enjoying one of his inter­mittent death dreams, but he was actually becoming mor­tal and forming emotions. So New Philistine Alamoth de Category shuffled over to the fountain, lassoed his want, and propped her against the harem stacks. While this was happening, the Aesthetic Marvel considered in what man­ner he should employ his God-given body. He concluded that Philistine Alamoth was lucky to have secured the queen just now, for otherwise she would have experienced quite a pleasure. So it took only a minute for all that love to decay into honesty.

Referring to satan Selavy as my heroine triggered a thought of the opioid heroin. Then I stumbled upon a website that presented a long list of “street names” for that substance; and this made me want to copy down my favorites. (I was charmed by the list for being so friendly with antonyms.)

  • Dragon
  • Hero
  • White Nurse
  • Black Stuff
  • White Stuff
  • Brown Tape
  • Brown Rhine
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Tar
  • Snowball
  • White Girl
  • White Boy
  • Scag
  • Scat
  • Sack
  • Number 4
  • Number 8

Just this instant I thought of something that I am sure somebody has already thought of: The dollar is the new penny.

It’s hard to say what the Israelites’ religion looked like in Year Zero, when Jesus was in the thick of it, because our access to that knowl­edge was destroyed along with the temple; but I believe that Jesus absorbed something like Buddhism during the time he spent outside of his fatherland, and then he applied this Buddhist-like philosophy to the Judaism of his time: this was the only way that he could digest the grim truth of his culture’s obviously imminent annihilation.

But I’m just talking off the top of my head here: I could go on for days guessing the reasons the different gospels’ different Jesuses’ spoke such hifalutin hyperboles.

One idea that I think Jesus shared with our messiah Walt Whitman (from whose “Song of Myself” I quote it) is this:

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it…

Heaven has a particular attraction for me because so many excellent people have come from there; but I’ve always, for whatever reason (and perhaps wrongly) detected an undercurrent in those same peo­ple’s speech which keeps whispering “Save yourself and stay away!” I stress that this is a vibe that I get from the saints themselves—I myself have no real opinion, because I’ve never been to Heaven.

And Manhattan appeals to me on account of the rumor (this is how simple I am) about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last will and testa­ment. Apparently he instructed his children to visit Manhattan peri­odically. Or something like that—my mind is filled mostly with fan­tasy; I probably not only misheard but also invented this lie for the sake of Holy Truth.

As they say, only the non-poetic parts of a poem can be summarized.

The greatest poets of the U.S. are “So” and “So.” Both were told that what they wrote was not even poetry (let alone the best poetry that the country would produce for centuries); so “So” self-published Such & Such (practically anonymously in the first edition), and “So” kept all her compositions in her closet until death. If contemporary critics failed to recognize our nation’s very best writers, then why should we expect their successors to fill in the blank?

On one hand is genius, and on the other is craftsmanship. Genius is unteachable; but, if one desires to improve one’s mere craftsman­ship, it’s a simple matter of “try, try again”; because anything that is able to be learned will be learned: it’s only a matter of time. That’s why I place no value on craftsmanship.

When censure is leveled at the creative, poetic, sublime, daemonic aspect of art, the reliable rule is this: If a critic says that one’s work is too X, one should make the work even more X.

But immediately after I make that assertion, I realize that it would be a good experiment to create something that one dislikes, mechan­ically; this might even end up being one’s very best work, precisely because it started from such a deviant place.

I doubt that I could handle being a movie director: I’d hate having to expend any energy fighting for my own artistic ideas; and even if my contract gave me the right to “final cut,” I’m sure I’d have to go into battle mode unofficially (I mean in private: behind the scenes) for many details, because moneymen don’t have to play by the rules, and middlemen are wickedly opinionated.

The fashion world is one big lie. If the naked body is honesty incar­nate, then trendy clothing is an elaborate coverup. This is too jokey.

Because the movie Star Wars (1977) starts with the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .” I want to push this paragraph in another direction:

Not long ago, in this very galaxy, Truth Itself came down and visited a mountaintop. It shouted halloo and called some scientists up there to have a conference. They talked about Exodus 24.

One can never criticize religion enough; for talking about it critically and from a secular perspective is what kills religion: it nullifies the religiousness of religion, leaving only the poetry. Poetry is the useful fuel for the mental flame; criticism is the refining process; and religion is crude oil.

But there’s something ugly about the above analogy—I don’t like it: scratch it from the record. I only wanted to apologize to myself for continuing to shadowbox.

Although “door-to-door salesman” is not the most highly respected profession, the word “missionary” still seems to garner a degree of reverence; but a missionary is really no more than a salesman of religion. The Apostle Paul, being a missionary, is primarily trying to sell a product; thus, his letters, like nearly all of the “New Tes­tament” writings, are product advertisements: public relations: propaganda. Each individual’s interpretation of Christianity is like a different brand of household cleaning appliance; and Saint Paul wants us all to buy his vacuum cleaner.

“Your action has been undone.” —email interface

While moving upward, it is difficult simultaneously to be moving downward, as the single direction up-down barely exists.

My scarecrow thinks that Halloween is Independence Day.

I’ll do this quickly while you do that quickly.

Every so often, a wise man pops up in our world. And then God plays Whac-A-Mole.

P.S.

Today I recorded myself reading my enemy’s letter:

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