Tag Archives: humans

selections from Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

No one ever said that you could work hard—harder even than you ever thought possible—and still find yourself sinking ever deeper into poverty and debt. Continue reading

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selections from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein

4254681996_27b1ed7ff0 Continue reading

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selections from Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014)

“In life, as in mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Continue reading

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half of what i say is meaningless

three more days of work. less than three weeks until New York.

then: more than half a year of walking.

now? every moment a melding of dream and reality.

my lover lies at my side sleeping. i am in her bed, our bed… in her house, my house. we are not married nor engaged, and yet i have never felt such strong conviction in my love. if possible, it is deeper or more all-encompassing than conviction. it is decision, resolution, revelation.

the past few days, i have been moving so many boxes. boxes of records, boxes of clothes, boxes of bullshit. so many goddamn boxes. the modern age is all about acquiring things and putting them in boxes. in fact, we adore boxes so much that we live in boxes ourselves. and yet we wonder why cats care so much about boxes.

after leaving the office today, i boarded a railbound box headed downtown and immediately recognized a pretty little lady sitting near the window. she smiled at me and i smiled back almost laughing, wondering whether she would come over for a chat.

“Julia?”

“wow, you remember my name.”

“ronny.”

“oh man i was gonna say ‘ron!'”

this simple dialogue is a big deal for me. i can remember names. Julia’s a girl from Ohio who’d recently moved to San Francisco. i learned this when, a couple months ago, i caught her eyeing me on the same muni train after work. when i asked what was up, she confessed her admiration for my reading Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” almost word-for-word in the way that other girl once talked to me on muni about my reading Einstein. in any case, Julia and i talked about a bunch of things that first time, including how i should listen to Lauren O’Connell and read Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac.”

in today’s encounter, things went even deeper. in less than ten minutes, we went from Emily Dickinson poetry (because of the book in my hand) to feminism. we talked about how women in business try to speak in lower voices so men take them seriously and we talked about why guys don’t wear dresses. and we talked about how those things ultimately represent the next great hurdle in gender equality. so far gender equality has been about bringing women to the same level as men… but… what if that’s incredibly short-sighted? what if true equality requires a complete rethinking and restructuring of the way the world functions, from business to culture to art? perhaps we shall never know harmony until we understand and appreciate the beauty in both femininity and masculinity and how to entwine the two, instead of just focusing on granting masculine powers to feminine beings.

Julia wrote her mailing address on a post-it note so i could send her postcards from the walk. i predict she will be a beautiful, wondrous friend for the future. i hope!

last night, four whole nights after discussing the nature of lucid dreams w friends, i traversed a vivid dream world. the beginning, or what i recall as the beginning, took on the tone of a gory bloodbath from a Blizzard game. except i, sword in hand, experienced the grotesque, poisonous attacks of mutalisks in the first-person. what seemed like an era later, i found myself at the very same site of that battle as it appeared at a later, more peaceful date. it was now a mansion surrounded on all sides by walls of junk. i wandered among the dusty corridors a warrior still, and attempted to scale the junkyard with a trusted German Shepherd at my side (who in the dream i called Kaiser though he looked more American than my dad’s dog).

in the morning, i awoke to birds chirping “Goodbye Blue Sky” from their digital prison in my smartphone. Continue reading

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selections from J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf

‘Now for a little while thy valour is in flower; but soon shall it be that sickness or the sword rob thee of thy might, or fire’s embrace, or water’s wave, or bite of blade, or flight of spear, or dreadful age; or the flashing of thine eyes shall fail and fade; very soon ’twill come that thee, proud knight, shall death lay low.’ Continue reading

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I Don’t See It That Way [archive]

this post is all over the fucking place, so watch out.

a wise man once said, “When people censor themselves they’re just as likely to get rid of the good bits as the bad bits.” so here i am.

but still…

at first glance, it seems like there absolutely could not be a tinge of a flaw in this statement. you reflect on your own thoughts, and the thoughts of others, the hesitance of others, the brilliance of others, and you feel like it is so true. when a performer apologizes, “this song sucks i suck i’m sorry,” you yell out shut up you’re great just play the song! read the essay! show me the photograph! express yourself. it might suck. it might be great.

but Eno is saying 50% of the time it will suck, 50% it will be great. that’s where the problem is.

it took me a few seconds to realize the annoyance of that quotation for me came from the use of the words “good” and “bad.” subjectivity, the demon that has haunted my dreams since i acquired consciousness.

a good friend of mine used to say, “everything is connected,” while i argued against her, “nothing is connected.” these days, i am more inclined to her view, with the confused acceptance that the two possible universes described by each statement are actually the same exact universe: this one.

there’s a song by Spacemen 3 called “The Sound of Confusion” and it involves a drummer pounding the bass drum steadily throughout the whole song, swimming distorted guitar, and a man singing “wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll, here it commmmmmmmmmmmmmes, here comes the sooooouuuuuunnnnndd, the sound of connfuuusssiiooonnnnnnnn.” or something like that. and for five minutes, while you’re drowning in this nonsense, you wonder what the hell these guys are trying to say. well, i mean, it shouldn’t be so hard. he’s saying, well. here it comes. the sound of confusion. that’s it. confusion. they’re confused. that’s confusing. because i’m confused too. confused about so many things.

like ants. ants seem pretty successful at life. well, not individually. communally. like humans. but not exactly. we seem pretty alright by ourselves. seem. i don’t know. see, i’m confused. some people don’t think humans are evolving anymore. they say because our technology allows us to save the cripples and diseased that we are defeating evolution. that doesn’t make sense to me. i think they’re confused about evolution. but maybe i’m the confused one. seems to me that it’s impossible to stop evolution. what if a planet just crashed into ours? we’d be dead. all of us. all our medicine, cripples, and Arnolds. then the creatures who hated a nice cool, calm earth would thrive and humans would be dead. evolved. i don’t know maybe i’m wrong. evolution doesn’t move forward. it doesn’t move backward. it doesn’t move at all. it moves as much as the Earth moves. which is not at all.

this is what i’m getting at. there’s no standard, no one solid thing, nothing to compare everything to. i guess this is relativity but i’m too stupid to understand that. all i know is, people used to say the universe circled the Earth. then a couple geniuses said, no, the Earth circles the sun. then a couple genius geniuses said, well, yeah, but the sun’s moving too. they’re sort of moving each other, with each other, around each, through each other. the sun’s bigger though, which has something to do with why we got tricked again.

okay but what does this have to do with Brian Eno. well, he’s saying we got to keep expressing ourselves, even the bad stuff, so we don’t lose the good stuff. but there’s no core stuff to compare to. so the good stuff and the bad stuff could be the same thing or nothing at all! that’d be frightening.

i’ve heard people say communication is what makes humans special. we can discuss things and improve upon the past and sympathize with each other and generally move things forward. but we’re just a pixel of the dot of the e in evolution. and we know evolution doesn’t move forward, backward, or anywhere. i’m reminded of this dance:

actually, i’m reminded of dancing in general. i’m beginning to think more and more that dancing is the best form of expression. you don’t need to read a body of work before you start to do it. you don’t need to take theory, you don’t need to learn technique. you just sort of do it. i guess you could technically say this about any art form, but i disagree with you. you need to learn an alphabet to write. you need to learn a language to speak publicly. you need a paintbrush to paint. to dance, you need legs. most people have legs. actually, fuck that. people without legs can dance to. people without legs are as rare as the sun and the rest of us are as common as planets and meteors and pebbles, and we’re all dancing around the guy in the wheelchair. you can dance in space. actually, you don’t have a choice.

i’m nearing satisfaction. is this what Eno wanted? maybe he didn’t give a shit about the good bits or the bad bits. maybe he just wanted me to have satisfaction.

i hate relationships.

that’s obviously not a true statement. i frequently exhibit characteristic signs of happiness while involved in various kinds of relationships with family, friends, girlfriends, etc. okay, how about this:

When people kill other people they’re just as likely to kill good people as bad people.

is that a good bit or a bad bit? i don’t think it’s half-bad. about the same logic as Eno’s. except the implication in his is that expression isn’t really harmful, whereas killing is. hold on a second. let me try again.

When people sit down they’re just as likely to hide the good dancing as the bad dancing.

much closer. but much easier to disagree with. no one wants to watch a white person dance. okay i’m exaggerating, but that’s the hilarious stereotype. you know what i mean, though? if you’re reading this, you’re probably a human being. and if you’re a human being, you’re constantly judging all the other human beings. don’t deny it. you’re a judgmental sack of shit. but don’t worry, you can’t help it. you’re alive because you judge. but okay this is interesting.

i think, correct me if i’m wrong, it’s easier to offend somebody with a speech than a dance. “i fucking hate fags” will sooner get people riled up than a waltz. although… dances are often quite controversial as well.

still, i stand by that statement. it is easier to offend somebody with speech than dance. maybe simply because it’s easier to speak. i hate black white green orange gay straight religious atheist people. look at that. pissed off like ten groups in one moment. but if i got up and danced right now, no one would see. my mom might come in and say, ronny stop being silly. then i’ll record it and put it on youtube. i’ll get 10 views and 1 comment like “wow lol u fukn suk at dancing ha.” then i’ll go to a club and Lady Gaga will come on and i’ll bust out the same move, and people might start laughing or somebody will “accidentally” pour a drink on me but most likely people will just step aside so they don’t get hurt by me, and continue hunting each other. it’s dancing, once we laugh at it, we move on.

not so with speech. and here’s why i think this is the case. there is an implication in speech that it has captured some kind of truth. every time you throw your words out there, it’s like you’re throwing a pokeball and trying to catch a pokemon. if you’re talking to someone who agrees with you, you caught the pokemon. if you’re talking to someone who disagrees, the pokemon escapes. and you might try again and again until you catch it. so be it. you’ll keep on walking to Viridian City, and you’ll pass another stranger and you’ll throw out your pokeball and truth will zap out of it like lightning, so you think, but then the other trainer throws out her ball too, and lo, and behold, out pops her truth, similar to yours, but not quite the same. your truths battle and battle and battle, you might even throw out other truths latched onto your belt, to aid your first truth, and in the end, someone might feel defeated. maybe you feel victorious. maybe it’s a draw. maybe no one can tell. BUT THE POINT IS IT DOESN’T GO ANYWHERE. like evolution. not like. is. is evolution.

is evolution.

i used to like pokemon battles. but i don’t really engage in them anymore. but i do dance. i love to dance. i dance as often as possible, in as many places as possible, all the time, because because because because because because because. because dancing doesn’t presuppose any truth. it’s like sitting or walking or any sort of “doing.” dancing is dancing and that’s it. it’s a physical response to music. or lack of music. is evolution.

fucking christ. Adam just asked me what i was writing about, and i said, “expression, interconnectedness, evolution, physics, dancing, art.” he replied: “well, they are interconnected. thank you universe!”

thank you, universe! Continue reading

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