Portions of today’s Pearl were written beginning on 12/24/12, with contributions made each day thereafter. Hence the somewhat confused style of address, in terms of the relative time, and the time of writing….. I know, the explanation is just as confusing as the act….. but, it is required by law, so what are ya gonna do?….. Buena suerte, as they say in Mexico…..
Okay, I am thoroughly confused, but, hey, nothing new there…. I am writing now in complete limbo, in terms of knowing precisely where in the universe I am, relative to time and, consequently, space. I see that the date is correct…. it IS the 25th of December today, and I have two Pearls almost finished, ready to post as soon as they have a poem inserted into the second section, and I complete the third section of the second Pearl. While the rest of the world is busy with the commercial crap of which today is the culmination, I’ll be here, busily ignoring the whole thing, as I have no means to participate in the commercial frenzy at all. And, since I spend a great deal of time dissecting the Christian religion for its inherent inconsistencies, and aspects of covert manipulation for self-interest, it would probably be a bit hypocritical, anyway, for me to get too involved in it.
I do enjoy the positive emotional spirit that seems to come with the season, but the whole idea is pretty sick, given its origin. Are they celebrating the birth of Jesus (which was actually sometime in the spring, from what historical records can tell us….), or the gruesome death to which he was put (which took place in March, or thereabouts….)?
Either way, I don’t see how it all translates into a commercial frenzy over the giving of gifts, other than as an obvious ploy to garner more money from an unsuspecting public, to line the pockets of the clergy and bankers. In that sense, I KNOW why all the bankers are smiling this time of year….. and it isn’t because they’re filled with the spirit of Christmas, or the urge to give…..
Christmas has, by the efforts of the bankers, with the complete cooperation of the clergy, become a societal frenzy of marketing and consumerism at its worst; the sheer ugliness of the whole idea makes the urge to say “Bah, humbug!” completely understandable. To take the work and honorable acts of a true reformer and twist it to suit the agenda of the business class is just that…. UGLY!
Not only is it ugly due to the efforts of the clergy and bankers to turn it into a carnival rather than a holy ceremony, but, the general populace falls right into the act, buying and spending much more than they can afford, just to keep up appearances, never once considering how hypocritical it is, or how far from the teachings of Christ it wanders to spend money in his name…..
Ah well, such is the perversity of mankind…. All I can do is avoid the whole scenario as much as possible, and just get through the day without getting depressed at all the futility….. That task, not getting depressed, is currently Job One around here, as the state department of Social Services continues to drag out my disability claim just as far as it can, and I’m getting very tired of living in poverty, watching as the assholes in the government take serious shots at my retirement system.
I cannot accurately tell you how angry I am at Obama, and any other of the politicians who are trying to make cuts to Social Security…. I’ve been pumping money into that system for almost fifty years, and now that I need it, they’re trying to take it away…. If there was ever a reason to get angry, this is it, and they had best watch their step, or I may loosen my hold on my self-control, and allow my darker side to determine what I’ll do…. Whatever that action might entail, it is guaranteed to be unpalatable to anyone who is involved in the attacks on MY retirement…..
Well, having mini-ranted to a sufficient degree, I think I’d best move on to another section. I’m a bit discombobulated, as I’ve already indicated, so the actual writing process today is sort of hit and miss. But, a dive into the database should clear things up, and if nothing else, will give me a chance to clear my head, after having filled it with angst against the machine….. Shall we Pearl?…..
The following piece has been around for a long time, and garnered a lot of different opinions regarding its content, and overall validity as an important set of ideas. Some say it is too soft and sentimental, accusing the author of looking at life through rose colored glasses, as it were. And, in one sense they are correct. Being a no-longer in the closet romantic, I choose to believe there is nothing wrong in that, or to think that such sentimentality has no place in a discussion of reality. The world is hard enough, without our feeling the need to make that characteristic immutable by adding our own hardness; a bit of sentimentality is welcome, if it doesn’t include refusing to accept the demanding nature of real life…..
I first came across the Desiderata when I was in college, and, having never seen it before, was suitably impressed. I’ve been re-introduced to it many times over the years, and always find something I’ve forgotten, as there are many lessons herein, lessons that life itself teaches us in its own way, and it is good to hear reminders of what we may already know, but often forget. All of these statements are good advice, and I can personally attest to the fact that, if followed with honesty, these principles allow one to live with dignity and honor….. If you feel it’s a bit sappy for your taste, well, that’s okay, just skip on by, and go on wallowing in grumpiness…… not a thing wrong with that….. 🙂
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
— Max Ehrman (1872-1945) – “Desiderata” (1927)
POETRY, n. A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines. — Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”
So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much
O all ye exorcizers come and exorcize now, and ye clergymen draw nigh and clerge, For I wish to be purged of an urge. It is an irksome urge, compounded of nettles and glue, And it is turning all my friends back into acquaintances, and all my acquaintances into people who look the other way when I heave into view. It is an indication that my mental buttery is butterless and my mental larder lardless, And it consists not of “Stop me if you’ve heard this one,” but of “I know you’ve heard this one because I told it to you myself, but I’m going to tell it to you again regardless,” Yes I fear I am living beyond my mental means. When I realize that it is not only anecdotes that I reiterate but what is far worse, summaries of radio programs and descriptions of cartoons in newspapers and magazines. I want to resist but I cannot resist recounting the bright sayings of celebrities that everybody already is familiar with every word of; I want to refrain but cannot refrain from telling the same audience on two successive evenings the same little snatches of domestic gossip about people I used to know that they have never heard of. When I remember some titillating episode of my childhood I figure that if it’s worth narrating once it’s worth narrating twice, in spite of lackluster eyes and dropping jaws, And indeed I have now worked my way backward from titillating episodes in my own childhood to titillating episodes in the childhood of my parents or even my parents-in-laws, And what really turns my corpuscles to ice, I carry around clippings and read them to people twice. And I know what I am doing while I am doing it and I don’t want to do it but I can’t help doing it and I am just another Ancient Mariner, And the prospects for my future social life couldn’t possibly be barrener. Did I tell you that the prospects for my future social life couldn’t be barrener?
“Become what you are.” — Buddha
When we are born, we are exactly who and what we are, because we don’t know how to be anything else. As we grow, we learn to interact with the world around us, learning first how to communicate our wants and needs, later applying this knowledge to further our interests in dealing with others on a social level. Communication, part perception and part expression, teaches us to add layers to our persona, incrementally increasing our isolation from our true self, unless we can maintain the awareness of self carried since birth. That self is constantly under attack by the outer world, as we are molded and manipulated by the demands made on us by our environment for conformity to custom. In this short, powerful phrase, Buddha once again identifies our most central task as humans, to be true to one’s inner nature.
“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” — Albert Camus
Albert touches here on the basic root problem for a great many humans, as the refusal to which he refers causes men to make choices based on self-interest rather than taking a wider world-view. Choosing expediency over altruism always, of course, leads to acting immorally, which describes the general demeanor of the beloved ruling class pretty accurately, all in all, doesn’t it? Sometimes, I wonder why they even bother to lie anymore, as it doesn’t seem to matter much to most folks whether they do or not; they get away with it either way…..
“An assertion produces a stronger effect than an argument, at least among the majority of mankind. That is why public speakers seek to hammer home their party’s arguments with assertions.” — F. Nietzsche, _Human, All too Human_
This tendency on the part of man, to be gullible (What else can you call it, when someone is swayed in favor of one argument over another, simply due to its connection to a confident assertion?….. I call it gullible….), would, I suppose, explain the phenomenon of the repeated success of the beloved ruling class in lying to the public without significant consequence. Another apt description would somehow describe mental laziness, or unwillingness to exercise one’s ability to reason, in favor of passive acquiescence with another’s ideas, for that is what I see most often among the ignorant masses. The same majority of mankind, of whom Nietzsche speaks, possesses this personal characteristic, as an augmentation of the tendency he mentions, to accept assertion as provenance.
“I have seen these EGG EXTENDERS in my Supermarket…. I have read the INSTRUCTIONS….” — Zippy the Pinhead
WHAT, you may ask, does THAT have to do with Buddha, Camus, or Nietzsche, in a high-brow discussion of human nature, and its flaws? Well, to be honest, I am not entirely sure what my sub-, or un-, conscious mind was doing when it made me copy and paste that here….. but, I have a strange feeling that it is the right pearl… Let me think a moment, or perhaps overnight….
Aha! Got it!….. We know already that everything Zippy says is a powerful metaphor for reality, so the phrase, “Assertion as provenance”, is Zippy-speak for EGG EXTENDERS! Wait, that’s backwards…. EGG EXTENDERS is Zippy-speak for “Assertion, etc….” Since he has read the instructions, which came, no doubt, with a perfect assertion of its superior nature over eggs, he is therefore immune to the immorality that is so prevalent in our erstwhile superiors…. There, how’s that for some slippery slope thinking, under pressure? Pretty slick, I’d say….
So, the next time some politician makes a confident assertion in a speech, think of Zippy, and the egg extenders, and you’ll be reminded to take what is being said with a shit load of salt….. It’s a handy little item to have in one’s mental files, for those occasions when we can’t avoid listening to such stuff (there’s that word again….)…..
“…and I get on my knees and pray, we don’t get fooled again.” — Pete Townshend
“A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again, (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal – Panama!” — Guy L. Steele.
The above is included only because it is the longest palindrome I’ve ever seen, and as such, deserves a bit of admiration for the sheer stubbornness it took to figure it out, and complete it, before someone found out, and made Mr. Steele go do something more constructive….. Fascinating, as Spock might say…. In retrospect, the palindrome is just odd enough to fit in with the rest of today’s effort, so…. it stays…..
Well, it’s done, and that is the best I can say for it, I think. I’m still pretty confused, but tomorrow will re-assert control over the process. What that entails is somewhat gross, in spots, so I will spare the Gentle Reader any further exposure to the necessary actions, and just go on as if none of it had ever happened. People are good at that sort of pretending, as is obvious after every election…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.