19 June 2016

F-Day post

Dear diary,

What is the right amount of alcohol to imbibe, in a given situation? This is the question to ask on days like today, which is Father’s Day: a day dedicated to fathers. Alcohol is not a bad thing, yet it is not a good thing. (It is a good thing that can be misused, like Christianity.) It is a drink that one can drink when one wants to drink; and so is ice-water, and so is grape juice. (So is blood.) If one wants to undergo Fathers’ Day… By the way: shall we position the apostrophe before or after the ess?—for the former would indicate that the day belongs to one single father only, whereas the latter implies that the day belongs to many fathers, perhaps even a plurality (minus those who’ve been disenfranchised, of course)…

While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.” But he answered and said unto him that told him, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

That’s Jesus, via St. Matthew (12:46-50). And the exchange below is from my favorite movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). (Ned is presumably Steve’s estranged biological son.)

NED: Why didn’t you ever try to contact me?
STEVE: Because I hate fathers, and I never wanted to be one.

Proceeding to the next item on the agenda, I want to adjourn this meeting. So I’ll quote two other human beings, to save face and add filler. One is an author whose writing I have admired for many years now; and the other is an author whose writing I have only recently encountered. This first quote is from a book called The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett, which I’ve read and re-read with awe:

...you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Now this last quote below is from a book that I’m reading at present (just yesterday, in fact)—it’s called Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky. In a previous confession, I talked about riding my bicycle to the library and checking out the title (because I forgot to tow my briefcase along, I had to carry the volume home singlehandedly: that’s the gist of my tale—oops, I forgot to say “spoiler alert”). The excerpt is from a section near the beginning, called “Intellectuals and Their Choices”:

…it seems to be close to a historical universal that conformist intellectuals, the ones who support official aims and ignore or rationalize official crimes, are honored and privileged in their own societies, while the value-oriented are punished in one way or another. The pattern goes back to the earliest records. It was the man accused of corrupting the youth of Athens who drank the hemlock… and the value-oriented intellectuals of the 1960s were charged with interference with “indoctrination of the young.” In the Hebrew scriptures there are figures who by contemporary standards are dissident intellectuals, called “prophets” in the English translation. They bitterly angered the establishment with their critical geopolitical analysis, their condemnation of the crimes of the powerful, their calls for justice and concern for the poor and suffering.

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