Archive for September, 2013


Thursday, September 26th, 2013

In my quest for meaning (perhaps you’ve noticed: I’m on a quest for meaning) – in my quest for meaning I occasionally stumble upon a piece of technology. These are interesting because the sum of what’s happening in science coheres into what might be an entire Answer to the Question. I have to suggest it could be the Entire Answer because I am Open Minded – and everything in me rebels against the possibility. So, like all things that frighten me, I try to embrace it; to make it my own.

My understanding of Scientific Morality is weak, because my understanding of science is: it’s purely descriptive and structural. You can hang whatever you want on it – and Morality is the ‘whatever you want’ that gets hung. So, sort of by definition, Scientific Morality just – isn’t.

But I must persevere. I recently saw a video of a man with one leg walking up and down a staircase on a fake leg operated by his own neural transmitters, and he walked just like a man. So we can be done with this thought game: of course there will one day be an entire fake man powered by his own – ‘fake’ – neural transmitters. What will this man think? How will this man feel?

I have observable symptoms of defined mental illnesses some people find quite scary, and this man will have none of these. I know this because, already, I can ingest chemicals which ‘resolve’ my own problems. This man will certainly have ingested them. Indeed, he’ll have a ‘natural balance’ monitor which automatically maintains all his systems – at ‘normal.’

I wonder what it will feel like to be normal. It will happen, even to me, because the pressure to be like everyone else is intense. Try not carrying a cellphone. I will eventually, begrudgingly, submit to the treatments, and since it will ‘feel’ ‘good’ to be ‘normal’ – I will like it. I have no way to prepare for this. I don’t understand how normal people feel.

Part of it, perhaps.

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Again and again, I look up from my desk at the world – which is now a screen full of moving pictures – and deplore what I see. I am quick to observe, unasked, I’m not an ‘unhappy’ person. I have a sense of humor. I chuckle. I watch my boys, and my pride is exhilarating. I should be more direct with myself: I am disappointed.

I can claim it’s not ‘unhappiness,’ really, but it leaves me absent the freedom to disrupt my schedule and gather with a cheerful group of others in a line – just to, say, purchase the latest telephone. Instead, I’m dismayed all that joyful energy isn’t being used in protest parties outside the Pentagon.

I’m disconnected from myself. I was raised on forced Christianity and I grew up to question the Book – so now I am truly on my own. I’m pushed around by my own ideas. There’s no center to hold. I imagine you are not like this. Perhaps I am wrong. But the few people I do speak to, and certainly those on my screen full of moving pictures – are emphatic about what they believe; they don’t tell me they’re wondering about it.

In the end – and there will be an end – the planet will again be roaring molten magma. If we’re projecting ourselves toward some future prospect, nothing we do matters. But if we’re just filling our skin, because here we found ourselves and what a joy to be here, after all, then there is something to this. It’s a big thing. There is nothing like – this. Shake your fingers and toes. Feel the tingle of emotion. Give to somebody on the street. Let your kid do what he wants for a change.

There’s a life in this mere coil of mine. I want to find it.

What it means

Friday, September 13th, 2013

I sat on her couch with my elderly mother and wished I could be who she needed.

She is sad; frightened. Alone. But also fierce; angry. Condescending. Untouchable. I think,  ‘I’ve watched her whole life.’ I flatter myself. Her experience blossomed before I was born. But I sit and I think, ‘this is what a life is.’

We know so much, today. We can watch pictures of our thoughts. We can mix powders in a jar, and create named emotions once believed to arrive in winds through the trees or a few breathless words from the dark-eyed girl sitting in her chair. My feelings are now discernible by scientific method; manageable through formulas recorded in books.

At an Ivy League dinner table a rich old white man leaned toward the boy with my name and asked, seriously, if I thought the ‘one-world government’ was inevitable. As a little child I looked for dinners in trash bins behind supermarkets, and he was asking me. When the Clintons became popular, I read they, and the super-connected surrounding them, attended hyper-luxurious getaway seminars to explore ‘what it means to be alive in the twenty-first century.’

It means, too often, we’re not up to the task. Our sequences and combinations are maladjusted. We mis-fire. When the struggle is too much, we seek the comfort of the recorded formulas. We consult those always ready to voice the comfortable imperative. So we have our president, a man simply squeezed too hard, or stretched too thin, holding up pictures of dying children and exhorting us – to kill children.

I sit with my mother. She is as she always was. Simply narrower. Less far ranging. Fewer moving parts. So here must I go, too. This is what a life is. I sit in my heap of broken promises and failed good intentions, and I struggle to remember the few good things I have done. This is who I am. I will shrink, too, and disappear.

I’ll mis-quote the Preacher: do what you enjoy while there’s daylight.

The ‘credibility’ of the United States

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Credibility is about understanding why people do things, and believing they’ll do things a certain way, given circumstances. Threatening our nation’s ‘credibility’ touches an emotional core in some people, so once again the surrogates in high office are warning: the world may be forgetting who we are.

The world is not forgetting. The United States is a country that forgoes all morality – and breaches all treaties – to use torture, chemical weapons, and whatever other horrifying equipment it possesses to guarantee the terror of foreign citizens all across the globe. Everyone knows that.

Everyone is aware, also, that in cases involving grand principle, like repudiating Syria’s slaughter of its own citizens, the US government really couldn’t care less. But there’s been a generational pause in remote weapons development, and there’s a new class of missiles to test.

Don’t worry, rich (well, mostly white) men – nobody thinks you aren’t scary.