27 May 2016

More scatterthoughts, areyouserious?

Dear diary,

Is it true that, when you’re a youngster, if you don’t care about oldsters, then, when you become an oldster, the new youngsters won’t care about YOU? Part of me fears “yes,” and part of me hopes “no.” The best part of me wants everyone to care about everyone. (Why shouldn’t the best part of me want this?) …Some people are simply charming: they attract the love of others while they are young and old. Other people go through life making enemies at every step of the way.

Supposedly there’s this thing called an “if-then statement” (if p then q), also known as a “conditional statement.” – Ugh, I don’t want to write about this… let me level with myself:

What have I been doing lately? Watching a lot of political news shows. What have I learned from this ugly habit? Not much. The 2016 presidential race is either going to kill my interest in politics, once and for all, or galvanize it.

There are certain aspects of U.S. politics that seem outdated. When my sweetheart and I were waltzing through the woods last month, I bored her with a too-long reaction to this debate season. (I mean the individual parties’ debates that precede the debates of the general election.) I complained that…

In truth, I don’t remember what I complained about specifically. You’re asking me to reiterate information that I relayed casually and in private to my soulmate more than a month ago in the wilderness. All I know is that I was heated. I thought that the debate schedule was stupid, and the format was stupid, and the way that the clashes were being reported was stupid.

This next thing that I’m going to say is not my own original point—it’s something I heard a pundit say, and I thought it was interesting, so I’m stealing it. FDR was proficient at radio; JFK was proficient at television; and the winner of our next election will be a candidate who is proficient at online media (that last phrase refers to websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking).

How did people get their “election buzz” in times past, in the good old days? First we must determine exactly when the good old days occurred. (For it is certain that they have since ended, and they shall recommence only upon the election of MY favored candidate.) …The good old days lasted exactly fifty-five years, just two centuries ago—which is to say: they occupied the mid-1800s, coinciding with the lifespan of the poet that I am about to quote. Here is a quote from a message that Emily Dickinson inscribed by hand, on physical paper, and sent to her brother William in the autumn of 1847:

Won’t you please to tell me when you answer my letter who the candidate for President is? I have been trying to find out ever since I came here, and have not yet succeeded. I don’t know anything more about affairs in the world than if I were in a trance…

Fast-forward a couple lifetimes and now my sweetheart owns a smart phone (so-called) which instructs her in plain English who to vote for, and I myself have access to a stand-alone computing device that can generate even more human warmth than an abacus.

I often think about pterodactyls and brontosauri. I’ve mentioned them in this journal’s pages frequently. Why did they have to go into hiding? Were they friends? Did one species oust the other after an election? Do they share a common ancestor? What was their system of monetary exchange, if any? What did each sound like, when angered? What did each taste like, when eaten? Did they love one another? Why did they leave no memo for their successors?

Let’s say that FDR truly was the best at radio, and his “fireside chats” were indeed the cat’s pajamas. Time passes nevertheless, and all media change. Nowadays we mortals must communicate solely via telegrams, which are limited to 140 characters apiece and thus require us to abbreviate most of our words. But admittedly we also have video-conferencing booths like the one that the gentleman uses to patronize his daughter in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

If Emily of Amherst had a hard time discovering the identity of her moment’s presidential candidate, while we modern fools can obtain this info merely by tapping our magnetic bracelet, it follows that the creatures of tomorrow will understand the outcome of almost every upcoming event: they’ll be able to see more than 200 years into the future: in fact, they’ll have to invent ways to limit their own perceptions, so as to enjoy an easier, untroubled passage of time. As it is written: Horse blinkers, also known as blinders, are a piece of tack that prevent the animal from seeing to the rear or to either side.

Why were we created lateral-eyed… (I began writing this fragment as if I were speaking in the voice of an extinct quadruped; but now I don’t want to continue. I realize my only interest was in using that hyphenated term, which, from what I understand, is what it’s called when a being has an eye on either side of its head, rather than both up front working together to paint a 3-D picture on the imagination: binocular vision.)

All science in the real sense… can never reach a final goal or give an entirely satisfactory explanation. It never aims at the inmost nature of the world; it can never get beyond the representation; on the contrary, it really tells us nothing more than the relation of one representation to another.

That’s from §7 of EFJ Payne’s translation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World As Will and Representation. I was (as often happens) looking for a certain passage yet couldn’t find it so had to settle on another: the one I wanted was his outpouring about the heinousness of urban cabdrivers’ maltreatment of horses; instead, I grabbed what seemed most interesting from my failed rummaging. By the way, to communicate “nothing more than the relation of one representation to another” is still quite a feat, in my opinion.

Now I gotta go, so I’ll end this with a few words about our afternoon bike ride:

My sweetheart led me to a beautiful park today. We rode until we arrived at the “5-loop surface-mount contemporary bike rack”; then we alighted and walked the rest of the way. The footpath was broad and pleasantly curvaceous. There was abundant greenery… gorgeous bodies of water… clearest sky… hopping robins, baby ducks.

No comments:

Archive

More from Bryan Ray