Asleep, I lay dreaming I was awake. Now, awake, I sit dreaming I am asleep. Which is true? Am I awake, and dreaming, or am I asleep, dreaming of being awake? How does one tell, when there are no external sources of evidence to check against reality? If awake, am I really asleep, dreaming? And if I am dreaming, what is real? I confess to being confused….. at this hour, with no one about to whom I can appeal for a different view, the edge between reality and dream becomes somewhat indistinct….. It is most likely a good thing that I don’t weird out at weird stuff, or I would definitely be feeling thoroughly weirded out….. but, since I start from weird, it’s all good. I’ll just sip a bit more of this fine coffee, and wait until reality adjusts itself to a bit more clarified state….. no worries!
There are times when I do wish I wasn’t so strange, in relation to the rest of humanity. (No, no, don’t bother to argue…. I know I’m strange, and there’s no need to try to keep from hurting my feelings about it… I accepted it long ago, and now it’s just another part of me that other folks need to deal with…. at their own risk….) Not that I don’t like being strange; there are distinct advantages to having other people think twice about approaching, much less about asking for favors, or “just a moment of your time”.
No, it’s just that it can make it really hard sometimes to write anything people will look at twice. My words, as indicated by the first paragraph, can touch up against weirdness at the drop of a cliche, and it is getting to be an onerous task to edit such weirdness when I’m already feeling strange, such as this morning.
I’m guessing it’s just another little memo gram from reality, reminding me that any perks I may enjoy, due to my inner oddness, are always going to be counterbalanced by an appropriate kick in the ass, and there is no sense or benefit in either trying to avoid any such boots, or in complaining about them. Hence, I’ll just shrug my shoulders, offer a sheepish grin, and move on…..
One section of yesterday’s Pearl was a discussion on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. I don’t need to go over that again (not after approximately 800 fairly passionate words….), but did wish to note the usual Murphy effect that accompanies much of what I write…. some time after publishing, I found the following pearl, which, as is obvious, is a perfect summary of the concluding portion of my thoughts yesterday. To keep Murphy happy, (always a good policy with that particular force of Nature), I include it now…..
“I believe everybody in the world should have guns. Citizens should have bazookas and rocket launchers too. I believe that all citizens should have their weapons of choice. However, I also believe that only I should have the ammunition. Because frankly, I wouldn’t trust the rest of the goobers with anything more dangerous than string.” — Scott Adams
That seems to cover it…. let’s go Pearling, ‘kay? ‘Kay!….. Kowabunga!…..
During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai E. Stevenson “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” Stevenson called back “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”
Obviously proving he was part of the minority…. Mr. Stevenson was perhaps the last truly rational man to ran for the highest office our country offers. I’ve seen a number of articles about that campaign, and it’s clear in my mind that his very rationality is what gave the election to the other candidate. He made every attempt he could to try to engage the minds of Americans, naively, as it turns out. His opponent, Eisenhower, just mostly kept his mouth shut and let his slogans speak for him, such as “I like Ike!”, and other such intellectual standards, that appealed directly to the American public’s misplaced sense of national pride.
After four years of post-Korean war economic boom, it wasn’t hard for the Republicans to rest on their laurels, firmly attached to the coattails of a war hero…. There was, and still is, no place on the political scene in this country for rationality, obviously, as Ike and his ilk won in a landslide….
So much for the opportunity to see what a “thinking man’s president” might be able to accomplish…. The chances of such a man being elected today are even slimmer, considering that those candidates who can be the most sly, underhanded, and completely dishonest are those who catch the eye, and the votes, of the great unwashed, uneducated masses that now comprise the voting public…..
“It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.” — Bertrand Russell
FOLLY, n. That “gift and faculty divine” whose creative and controlling energy inspires Man’s mind, guides his actions and adorns his life.
Folly! although Erasmus praised thee once
In a thick volume, and all authors known,
If not thy glory yet thy power have shown,
Deign to take homage from thy son who hunts
Through all thy maze his brothers, fool and dunce,
To mend their lives and to sustain his own,
However feebly be his arrows thrown,
Howe’er each hide the flying weapons blunts.
All-Father Folly! be it mine to raise,
With lusty lung, here on his western strand
With all thine offspring thronged from every land,
Thyself inspiring me, the song of praise.
And if too weak, I’ll hire, to help me bawl,
Dick Watson Gilder, gravest of us all.
— Aramis Loto Frope — Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”
Perhaps it is a result of having learned to see around corners at an early age, or that silly prophecy made by that supposed witch who scared my mother a week after I was born. Perhaps it has to do with spending so many hours and days of my intellectual formative years with my nose buried in a book, generally one that made me a familiar inhabitant of the sleaziest, most disreputable spacer’s dives in every far corner of our Galaxy, surrounded by grizzled old first mates from a dilapidated freighter out of the Pleiades, and a motley group of aliens of all descriptions.
I could probably blame it on being the middle child of five, with a neurotic, if perfectly lovable mother, balanced by a perfectly stable father, and four siblings who had no clue how to deal with me. Or, it could have been the daily ingestion of frozen, processed vegetables so common on our dinner table during the 50’s and 60’s; as it turns out, the benefits of the vegetables were pretty much nullified by the process of preserving and preparing them for consumption. Who knew?
Whatever the root cause may have been, Folly has long been a fascinating area of study for me, and its influence on my life at large has been extensive. My first attempts at blogging, via email since 1998, then via SFGATE since 2011, were known as “Gigoid’s Folly”, and that was almost used as the title for this blog, as well. But, not wishing to tread, even peripherally, on the estate privileges of Robert Heinlein, even out of respect, I left it at “gigoid” with the subtitle, “Exploring consensual reality” as a tip of the cap to Murphy, and Mother Nature’s fondness for him…..
Folly remains a big part of the process of pearling, and Pearling; if that isn’t obvious, I’m doing something wrong. It has been for me a boon companion throughout my life, ever a contrast and strong defense against the powers of darkness and ignorance, always to be trusted to coax a smile out of me, often in the deepest moments of my despair. If it were not for my Folly, and the humor it infuses into my daily existence, I most likely would have bitten somebody, hard, long before now…. I can only be grateful, and proclaim, “May I and my Folly never part ways, throughout all of my days!”……
“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” — Willie Wonka (Roald Dahl)
If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Twelfth Night
— Act i, Sc. 1
I’ve been pretty clear in past posts in expressing my lack of enthusiasm for most of Will Shakespeare’s work. To my mind, the greatest part of what he wrote is overblown, heavy with excess imagery and verbiage, and even in the time in which it was first written and performed, must have been a pain to follow just by listening…. sorry, but that’s what I think.
But, at the same time, I can acknowledge, as well, that he was an excellent word smith, and did occasionally write material that is far beyond anything else of its time, or of any time. His sonnets hit that nail squarely more often than his plays, in my opinion, but there are exceptions…. this is one of them.
These few lines of verse possess that timeless beauty that is the hallmark of genius, beauty so great that one can not merely see it in these lines, but is surrounded by beauty that floods every sense. Far be it from me to fail to acknowledge such genius…. I’m no Shakespeare, nor do I consider myself either infallible, nor a critic, but I know what I like, and I like this, a lot…..
“I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. so I ran over and said “stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said, “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” He said, “Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.” — Emo Phillips
(Whew! Whoever transcribed this for the database where I found it was really lazy. They didn’t bother to capitalize the “I’s” or any of the Church names, so I had to go through and put them all in; it’s much clearer to read now, and looks a bit more refined…. but I didn’t change any words, just added capitals, just so you know…..)
Although I had a feeling as to where this would end up, I read it through to the end, and sure enough, it’s worth a full read, just to get to the punch line. My immediate thought was, “What a perfect statement of modern religious philosophy in America!” 🙂
Not trusting my original reaction, I put it down here, then prepared some breakfast, and consumed said comestibles, before coming back to look it over after some inner percolation. It’s still valid, and it still makes me smile, so it stays. No need to embellish any further, either, as I think it pretty well says it all…. Ignorance and bigotry are alive and well, and living in the Mid-West….. in a house, together…..
Visions of Absolute Truth and Beauty; The Tragedy of Severus Snape
The character of Severus Snape, as revealed in the seven novels that comprise the epic creation by J. K. Rowling, (which I choose to entitle Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of The Infinite Magic of Love, hopefully with her approval and blessing) is, in my less than humble opinion, destined to become, if not synonymous, at least analogous, with those of Cryano de Bergerac, John Smith the Puritan, or the man from Tale of Two Cities, whose name escapes me (suffering functional disparity as I am from early onset Alzheimer’s, and the subsequent prophylactic application of sour mash bourbon), who said, “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Sounds a little sappy for gigoid, doesn’t it? Well, you know what? I am completely and utterly serious…..
As I do not know Ms. Rowling, other than through her writing, and her public persona, which is carefully controlled, relatively speaking, I cannot say if it was her intent to create a character of such power that he would be forever enshrined amid the most famous of the heroic willing victims of tragedy in literary history. It is moot, anyway, because she has done so….
Here is a man who spent his entire life enduring unrequited love, love that, in his mind, could have been his, had he chosen differently. Yet, knowing that he could never have his deepest desire without destroying that which he loved, he still acted with honor to do all he could to keep the object of his obsession safe, to honor her and the love he felt, even after her death, and in defiance of the threat of his own death.
He braved the wrath of the most terrifying of villains for almost 20 years, betraying that master of evil at every turn, to do what he could only hold as his Duty; he did this, knowing full well that in the end, he would have to kill the only man in the world who trusted him, and that he would die because of it. And, he knew as well, that his sacrifice would never be known to anyone but the son of the man he most envied in life, the son that might have been his…..
I’ve read a lot of what may be termed as classical literature, and in all that I’ve read, I have never found a character who fit the mold of the tragic hero any better, or more deserved the title of nobility it implies. Though flawed and miserable, Snape makes the hard choices, correctly, at the most critical junctures of his life, all for love of his Lily.
As Dumbledore exclaims when he sees the Patronus that Snape produces, a doe, identical to that of Lily, the only other human being he has ever loved, “Lily! After all this time?” Snape merely replies, “Always….” Now, that is a hero, flawed and unlikeable as he is….. a hero that will go down in history, along with many of the characters from this series of books that will one day certainly be called “classics”……
Not a bad lineup…. personal foibles made light of to begin, with a bit of housekeeping, a taste of political irony, a touch of whimsy, Shakespeare, a dip into religious humor and more irony, and a discussion of literary archetypes in modern and classical writing. I think we’ve approached the demarcation between reality and esoterica quite adeptly, without completely crossing over where the border guards might hassle us about returning to our regularly scheduled activities here in Reality…… that should definitely make an impression. On whom, I couldn’t say, but, hey, I’ll take it…. Y’all take care out there…..
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.