10 January 2017

Time, names, isms, drafts, ur-seed

Here’s a piece of crinkly foil (a trace of whose backside appears in yesterday’s image) plus a bunch of stuff that I cut from a retail ad.

Dear diary,

Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t understand time – specifically, the way that it passes. For instance, this morning, I have exactly two hours to spare. Here is where my thinking goes astray: I assume that this means I have two full hours to daydream, and two full hours to act. But that would be four full hours; yet I only figure this out once the time has expired. I daydream for two hours, the alarm clock buzzes; then I realize that there’s no time left for action. And when I find more time, I spend it daydreaming again; for I forget that thoughts and actions plunder the same continuum.

How do people name their kids? If I had to name someone, I would either be too cautious or too reckless: nothing in between, nothing safe. I’d name my daughter Jo or Energy Star. A safe name would be Johnny. Last name: Ray. The problem is that when your parents name you something fancy, then everyone who meets you throughout your life expects you to actually BE fancy; and it’s almost impossible to live up to the expectations of strangers; so fancy-named folks are practically doomed to taste like unsalted popcorn.

A few famous heroes have names that work fine for average people, like David (the king of ancient Israel) or…

I can’t think of any other good, safe, average names right now. I don’t want to say Paul (the apostle) because I don’t like him, and his name was actually Saul.

To continue my observation: on the other hand, there seems to be an unwritten taboo forbidding the use of other famous names. I mean, has anyone yet tried to name their child Jehovah? or Hercules? You might object that those two figures are exclusively literary. I see your point. But life can imitate art: so why not name your son Huck, after Huckleberry Finn?

Or Henry or William, after the James brothers.

I just took a break from typing here, to read an article about a writer who died at the age of 38. Now I feel guilty, because I’m almost two years older than that, with no end in sight. Why do certain masters get yanked offstage in the middle of a captivating scene, while some who remain can’t even remember their lines?

Mary left her novel’s monster nameless. God had a name, but the priests dared not voice it; ergo, to this day, the tetragrammaton is unpronounceable. But what was Doctor Frankenstein’s first name? Victor. That’s a good name. As I explained before, that’s the replacement name I was given for Spanish class in grade school.

You don’t see a lot of English monoglots naming their children Jesus, but Spanish speakers do that – maybe it’s OK because they pronounce it sort of like “hey-ZEUS.”

…I who am on my way, words bellying out of my sails, am also that unthinkable ancestor of whom nothing can be said. But perhaps I shall speak of him some day, and of the impenetrable age when I was he, some day when they fall silent, convinced at last I shall never get born, having failed to be conceived.

That’s from Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable. Feel free to come back and read the quote again, after you reach the end of this entry.

From the little that I understand, the book of Daniel was composed significantly later than the four other “major” prophetic books that are sardined with it in the King James Bible; but because of this proximity, rightly or wrongly, we associate them all (tho we forget Lamentations). I just wanted to make a simple observation: I’ve met people who are named Daniel and Jeremiah; but I’ve never met anyone named Isaiah or Ezekiel. I wonder why this is. Probably my data is skewed by my reclusive nature: for I rarely visit brothels.

He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. That’s what I learned about Santa Claus from the song “Nikolaos the Wonderworker is Coming to Town, Beware.” He even knows if you’ve been bad or good. How does Santa achieve such perfection in judgment?

To be good for the sake of goodness is different from being good just because you fear punishment. It’s like art for art’s sake, as opposed to commercial portraiture.

I once asked my father (who proudly labeled himself a “conservative republican”) if we could say that Jesus was something like a socialist or perhaps a communist, since his teachings align more easily with either of those systems than with free-enterprise capitalism, plus Jesus’s early followers reportedly lived communally and shared their goods equally. My dad answered that Jesus intended for us to allocate our excess wealth voluntarily, and that he wanted private corporations of their own accord to establish charities for those in need; but Jesus did NOT want the government to force its populace, via higher taxes, to finance state-run welfare.

I wonder how my dad knew so much about Jesus. My dad never read the Bible or any other scripture – or any books at all, for that matter; except auto repair manuals: he read those religiously.

My dad loved car engines. But he hated when, over the years, all their components became computerized, because then he couldn’t fix them himself. And he refused to take any broken vehicle to the repair shop, because “those guys are rip-off artists.”

And he never missed church on Sunday morning. He would pay half-attention to the sermon; it was a familiar voice barking like his favorite talk-radio programs, albeit less angrily. When young, my brother and I were made to go along; we hated church. Time flies when you’re having fun; church time is the slowest-moving time. To get through the torment, my brother and I would scribble cartoons on the bulletin. That’s how I learned to draw. (I never learned to draw.) One week, the sermon’s proof text was Acts 4:32-35.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. […] Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

But I don’t care about socialism or communism. As I’ve said before, I wish we would invent another type of system that works even better than the others. What’s wrong with trying to improve things? Is the current style of capitalism that dominates the world impervious to betterment? Are we, one and all, enjoying a new Golden Age?

Food, water, clothing, shelter. Let’s not even talk about medical aid. All clothing is made by child slaves in sweatshops; but at least the inhumanity occurs elsewhere, not within our borders (I note this sarcastically). Homelessness is rampant. The water is unsafe, even flammable. And all the food is poison.

I desperately need to improve this entry’s attitude. Look at that list of ingredients: Too much truth.

Think about a live performance of an orchestra versus a recording of the same. A live performance of a play versus a filmed and edited version. Which do you prefer?

Would it interest you more to watch a video showing the whole process of a painting being made, or to own the painting itself when it is finished? I know: it’s hard to answer that without first seeing the work in question. For what if, at the end, the artist chose to douse the entire canvas with one solid color? In that case, wouldn’t the video of its evolution be more interesting than the ultimate artwork?

Haven’t vampires employed X-ray technology to discover the hidden depths of the world’s masterpieces? And haven’t they learned that there’s always a worthier picture that is obscured beneath the surface imagery? Why do artists second-guess their genius? Da Vinci should…

Never mind. I don’t even know if they’ve stripped da Vinci’s works of all their layers. I say this as if every painting is just a flattened onion. What about the masterwork that was dashed off in record time, and rendered flawless on the first attempt?

When you encounter the upcoming phrase “the dust of the ground,” think: clay, earth, ashes, morter, powder, rubbish… to be reddish… to become gray or pulverized…

I recall seeing a series of images in an art book which represented all the preliminary versions that Henri Matisse made of one certain picture. Apparently he was searching for something particular. And just consider: if each of those trials exists on its own separate canvas, then they’re all originals (as opposed to reprints). And they’re even better than an expert forgery, because they were created by the artist himself prior to the masterpiece’s advent – as any Elohim to Adam (Genesis 2:7) “…God formed man of the dust of the ground…” For why buy the mud-man when you could own the entire pantheon? They’re like all the sperm that never made it to the egg.

The serpent of paradise. The Hebrew word transliterated nachash, what does it evoke?

Copper, brass; brightly shining, as of precious metals; radiant… An incantation or augury… To hiss, to whisper a spell (of magic); to prognosticate, divine: to lay claim to the power of enchantment… to learn by experience, to observe diligently…

Is our snake metallic, or slippery like a fish? It can speak with humans. What changed about its makeup that made it “go upon its belly” after Yahweh cursed it? Was the curse a success, by the way? Perhaps it malfunctioned.

Theomorphic versus anthropomorphic…

Some entries funnel toward Hamlet; this one goes to Jesus, because of the pregnancy. (I mean the sperm from above.) The Immaculate Conception. One begins to wonder about the rest of the serpents that didn’t get to be crucified into generation. The proto saviors. Or pseudo, if you prefer.

Yet it was probably one lone specimen that did the job passably on the first try and thus had no need of reinforcements. But the sight of a tree of life with just one fruit, with just one seed inside, is sad.

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