Maybe I should follow Robert Heinlein’s advice more often, and wash my hands after writing. It’s possible that what gets on them during that nasty process is turning toxic, and slowly destroying my brain. If so, this is one of those things that should be included in the manual for burgeoning authors…. but, then, perhaps it is not there for a reason. Perhaps that particular piece of knowledge has been deliberately withheld in order to limit the total number of authors who are writing at any one time. Perhaps there is a quota that the Universe maintains, so that too many authors aren’t haranguing the public all at once.
Nah…. I don’t think so. That would imply assigning just a bit more intelligence to the universe than I’m willing to believe in, even considering Murphy, and his interfering ways. No, there must be something else going on to make my brain feel so much like mush. I’m sleeping too much, I can’t concentrate, I’m easily distracted, and subject to fits of emotions I thought I’d banished years ago (such as the guilt described yesterday…. haven’t felt that in many moons….). If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was coming down off crack, or some other addictive drug, and suffering the withdrawal symptoms. But, since the only addictive drug I’m using is prescribed, and I’m not out of it, that doesn’t explain it either.
Perhaps it’s the celibacy thing catching up to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a period of my life where I’ve gone so long without a least token physical intimacy, even when I was married…. :-) Since I have not experienced such a drought before, I can’t say whether the symptoms are congruent with what I’m experiencing now, but I have heard that it can be quite strenuous on the organism when the absence of that particular form of exercise is in effect. It isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about…. I don’t think that’s it, though, it just doesn’t make sense, unless one believes that to create well, an artist must suffer. Suffer, okay, but is there any need to be cruel?…. Oh, yeah, forgot…. Murphy…. well….
Whatever is going on, it’s like pushing through clouds of cotton candy to find a thought; finding one worth writing about may turn into a real struggle, if this intro is any indication. I suppose it would be best to just ignore this brain thing as much as possible, and get on with the rest of what is planned…. who knows? It may turn out just fine…. we’ll just have to dive in and see, won’t we? Shall we Pearl?….
“And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.” — John Dryden (1631-1700) — Britannia Rediviva, Line 208
Wow! Have you ever seen a better description of this blog? :-) I’ve been torturing words now for over 12 years, at least in a bloggy sense; that’s about how long I’ve been doing these Pearls. I’ve learned over the years not to hear their screams, or read the petitions, or pay any attention to the ones who try to distract me with their flexibility of meaning; I just strap them into the rack and start hacking away. Sometimes in the intro, I force them to assume the shape of a short fantasy; other times I will completely embarrass them by telling them they are haiku, or a poem, when they know for certain I am no poet. I can be pretty cruel to the words in my head…..
I figure it’s only fair, considering how they treat me much of the time. I don’t ask much of them, really…. just the morning group of five good pearls I can use to create these missives, and I’d leave them be. But much of the time, such as today, they insist on playing games, hiding, shifting about, presenting only the quotes they know I’ve already used, or massive amounts of Shakespeare, which they KNOW just annoys me…..
No, they’re not very nice to me, so I feel no compunction about torturing them to get them to do what I need them to do. If I didn’t, I’d never get anything written. If I didn’t write as much as I do, I’d build up all this incredibly strong angst and tension, and eventually it would have to come out…. and at that point, it can be dangerous, especially if there is anyone else in the immediate vicinity of the blast zone….
So, you see, this blog is really a public service in disguise…. No thanks are necessary: since they are my words, I take responsibility for them, and consider it my duty to keep them from harming others (except, of course, when I want them to do so…..). I just didn’t want y’all to think I was hiding anything important…. I like to call this my Literary Guantanamo Bay for Wayward Words, where we have the leeway, and the executive authority, to torture those nasty little terror-inducing buggers into submission….
“I believe that it should be perfectly lawful to print even things that outrage the pruderies and prejudices of the general, so long as any honest minority, however small, wants to read them. The remedy of the majority is not prohibition, but avoidance.” — H.L. Mencken, “Baltimore Evening Sun”, March 31, 1924
The key idea here is in the last line… I like to call it On/Off Button Training, and should be required of all children from the age of 5, with periodic refresher courses throughout life. It is a lesson that apparently has been completely forgotten or ignored for a long time by society at large, and our culture badly needs to re-learn it.
Put most simply, this lesson says, “If you don’t like it, turn it off. Change the channel. Walk away. Mind you own business, and let other folks mind theirs.” The lack of general knowledge of this principle is, in my mind, responsible for at least three-quarters of the issues that are currently being argued in the public arena, especially that of LGBT rights, women’s rights, and separation of church and state.
Mrs. Grundy, Robert Heinlein’s archetypical busybody, and the forces of religious intolerance, have been creating a firestorm of outrage and public hullabaloo for years now about these issues, especially gay marriage. For goodness sake, why is it so hard for them to understand? If they don’t like gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay person! Sheesh! Seems pretty simple to me….
But, for some reason, a large part of humanity seems to think that what they believe should be what everyone else is forced to believe, and for the most part, they refuse to even listen to any arguments that would belie that delusion. It is impossible to reason with someone who refuses to even discuss an issue, who has closed their mind to any possible change.
So, it places all of us who would rather try to get along with folks rather than fuss and fight all the damn time to use our own On/Off Button, and switch channels, or walk away when we are confronted with their ignorance…. But, make sure you are watching your back as you turn away; they can turn vicious if they feel threatened by your indifference…. just like any small rodent…..
“And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.” — H.L. Mencken
“It may be irrational of me, but human beings are quite my favorite species.” — Doctor Who, Ark in Space
It probably seems to most folks reading this blog that I don’t like people very much. I tend to spend a lot of time finding and pointing out the things I see in them that I don’t like, and discussing them at nearly interminable length, which would seem to indicate a lack of affection for the species as a whole. In reality, the opposite is true…. I love people… I love watching them, listening to them, thinking about them, writing about them…. They afford me no end of intellectual stimulation, entertaining comedic genius, and fertile fields of thought and endeavor to explore, virtually and actually.
Human society and culture is an incredibly beautiful, complex tapestry of emotion and creativity; nobility, cruelty, heroes, villains, puppies, cats, love, hate, and all the rest of the things that make people what they are unfolds before us every day, growing and adding length and breadth to that tapestry of existence.
I can’t think of anything more interesting than the drama/comedy that is human history in the making…. I might wish it to be a more compassionate world, with less tyranny and oppression, without slavery and starvation. I might wish that my life would not be so complicated by ignorance and intolerance, and I might wish that the small percentage of humanity that holds the remainder in the grip of their own avarice would die horrible deaths worthy of their own evil natures.
But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nor would I say that any of these changes are particularly apt to happen without many more people in the world taking an interest in them; most folks just go through life trying to get by, and not be bothered with anything more complicated, and one can’t really blame them, bless their cowardly little hearts…. My own method of dealing with how much I’d like to see reality change is to write about what I see, and what I think can be different, with the right set of attitudes.
This desire to see the changes arises out of my love for my fellow man, not from indignation or outrage, though they are present. But what I write, and what I’m trying to accomplish, is to help folks deal with life in a way that allows them more freedom, of whatever kind they wish to have, whether monetary, intellectual, religious, or physical; my motivation is to share the strength and freedom of thought that I have sought so hard to achieve… Mankind has much more potential than we are showing in our actions, and I would love to see more of it fulfilled, rather than stifled, as in current society…. we can be so much more…..
“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” — Albert Einstein
“Such bickerings to recount, met often in these our writers, what more worth is it than to chronicle the wars of kites or crows flocking and fighting in the air?” — John Milton (1608-1674) — The History of England, Book iv
Did you ever wonder why a group of crows is called a congress? I didn’t. It makes perfect sense to me…. Dark, sinister looking creatures who act in odd ways, even for birds. Their behaviors tend to lean toward stealing shiny objects from wherever, or stealing the food of people or other animals and birds. When they speak, it is in a voice that grates on the ear like fingernails on a slate. In groups, they mill around, cackling and grumbling and jostling each other, until they all fly off to different areas to carry out whatever nefarious schemes they have hatched among them. No, I have no problem envisioning a congress of crows; in fact, I believe they are in session now in Washington, D.C. ….
“God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are.” — Billy Graham
First, let me apologize…. I hadn’t meant to go into a rant this morning, especially about religion; sitting down is as difficult as standing up or walking, so the time it takes to express the outrage necessary to produce a rant is more than I wanted to take. But then this popped up in front of me….
After I had picked myself up from the floor and recovered my breath, I still could barely stop chuckling and giggling long enough to use the mouse to cut and paste it to this page. Now that I have, I find myself almost speechless at the sheer arrogance, the complete lack of respect shown for humanity at large by this astounding statement.
In one short phrase, this deeply disturbed man has attempted to manipulate his listeners into a complete subjugation of their will, and in doing so, implies that they are not only unworthy in a moral sense, but are not smart enough to be allowed to think for themselves. I’m surprised he didn’t ask for money in the same sentence…. You can bet he did before the end of the speech….
I remember seeing Billy Graham when I was quite young, speaking on TV to a football stadium full of enthusiastically cheering, excited, identical clones in white cotton dresses, with skirts below the knees, and blue suits, with white shirts, no vests, and skinny ties. Even at the tender age of 11 or so when I saw it, my first impression of him was of a used-car salesman, with a smarmy-looking smile at inappropriate moments, and a smooth, fawning manner of speaking that ranged from sly confidences to outraged proclamations of evil and sin, all delivered in very obviously scripted stages.
The words and phrases he used, straight out of the King James Bible, mostly, seemed to promote love and tolerance, but the underlying message was one of elitism and divisiveness, as indicated by the insistence that only those who accepted JC according to their rules would be allowed into heaven…. The rest of us would be consigned to everlasting hell for having the audacity to think differently…. It was pretty over-the-top, as far as I was concerned, though entertaining in a circus sort of way….
It is now 50 years since I saw that particular revival meeting, and Mr. Graham has continued to spew his particular brand of ignorance for that entire time. He is indeed one of the men of whom St. Francis of Assisi warned us to beware, a man of one book. And the above statement, to me, is proof of just how little he thinks of the general run of human beings. His basic message is, “You are a miserable sinner, and have no right to exist, other than at the mercy of God. You are not smart enough to keep from sinning on your own, so just shut up and listen to what you are told….”
It is certainly proof, I guess, that the world takes all kinds, for there are millions of folks out there who regard what Billy Graham says as just as much gospel as what is in the Bible…. but then in for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose…. Me, I’d rather listen to a ball game…..
One more time unto the breach, and out again on the other side… Not bad for starting two hours late, and I only had to take about a dozen breaks to stretch and move a bit. I’ll take it…..
Hmm…. I just realized there is no poem….can’t have that… be right back….
“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion — I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more — I could be martyred for my religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that…” — John Keats
Okay, so it’s not a poem… but it’s from a poet, and one of the best. I like the thought too, so it will have to do for today. I’ve been stuck with a fork, I’m done…. Y’all take care out there…..
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.