Friday, October 28, 2005

Faith

"'Faith' means not wanting to know what is true." Nietzsche

What can be said about that quote? When we have faith in something it means we don't really want to know. Knowing takes a great deal of work and the vast majority of people are lazy or are struggling just to survive. Of course, this same majority knows so little about the world that it is frightening to think about the level of ignorance at which most people live. And when it is a choosen ignorance it is all the more sad. To have access to all of the world's knowledge but choose to waste away ones life worried about celebrities or the latest consumer product is tragic. To have a population that claims faith over knowledge is to have a population incapable of governing itself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Higher Thought

My brain is incapable of higher thought. I remain the grunting caveman staring into the fire. My thinking refuses to travel beyond the careful consideration of my bodily functions. My science focuses upon the precise calculations—wind speed, time, distance, pungency, etc.--associated with the dissipation of a fart and the imminent arrival of an approaching friend. Everything I have ever done has required a massive amount of effort and yielded results that would compare unfavorably with those of an average 7th grader. But, despite all of this I manage to sleep in a warm bed and share my meager meals with a cat that sees me as a god able to supply food with a few turns of my thick wrist. My pleasures are small and few so they are to be cherished.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Incompetence Battles Self-Inflation

Quote of the day courtesy of Joachim C. Fest:

"Even then Hitler used not to get up till about midday; he would stroll through the park, then sit up late at night over grandiose and senseless projects in which practical incompetence fought with impatient self-inflation."

If practical incompetence and impatient self-inflation don't apply to me I don't know what does. (George Bush also comes to mind--he is so deluded that when one of his future handlers suggested he run for president he actually had the affrontry to do it and we had the stupidity to elect him! Didn't practical incompetence come to mind when you saw him trying to pound in that nail. Doesn't his self-inflation come to mind whenever he proudly reads a complex sentence and gets that look on his face that screams "Look mom, no hands!") I suspect that Hitler, if he had been born in 20th Century America, would have been a marketing manager at a software or financial services company or some other organization that also only offers opportunities to waste large chunks of precious time. One of the benefits of working in the post-industrial age is that by working hard and not actually knowing anything of value a person can make a decent living. The most important thing is to be able to convince everyone that you actually take things seriously. In fact, to make it to the top of the heap one must never see their incompetence and the extent of their self-inflation. To do so is to be out. The show can only continue if everyone believes. Once someone sees the depth of the fraud then the show must end. This extends to so many things including enterainment, food, architecture, the very way we all live in this world. To make it one must believe. To fail is to see behind the curtain and step out of the show, leave the theater and actually start living your life and not the life of a consumer of cheap imitations. The slop bucket is full of muck and we all see it as this feast of wonderful things.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bad Choices

I keep asking myself if it's possible for things to go more badly than they have been and then something inside me tells me that these are the good times. Well for me at least. But I feel this pressure bearing down on me that this life we lead in America is destined for a rough ride to ruin. We haven't been smart for years and years--well, were we ever. I drive into work with thousands of single drivers thinking that this is crazy; that this level of waste simply can't go on. I feel we are in for a rude awakening and that future generations, our children and grand children, wil curse us for our stupidity and selfishness. We have wasted a treasure, oil, that should have lasted for a 100 generations. I have no doubt that within my own lifetime there will be an energy crisis that will have us all buying bikes and abandoning the world we knew out in the suburbs.

We have made choices over the past 50 years and they have, generally, been the wrong choices. The world in which we live is an ugly one. Bad streets, buildings, people, food and culture. I get depressed walking around most any American city because there is little going on but commerce. It is a place to buy things. Everything is designed not for the betterment of people but for the betterment of commerce. Everything is of a temporary nature. Will these glass boxes last 100 years? Will these poorly made houses even make it past the payment of a single 30 year mortgage. We, as a nation, have sold our souls for a few tawdry trinkets. We have spent our lives hoping to live something called "the American dream" and it is a scam. The American dream means living in a lousy house at the end of some lonely street far away from any meaningful activity. I drive through a suburb set behind a concrete wall to seperate it from a freeway and feel the desolation, the complete emptiness of the place. Each house like the one before it. Young trees that look like sticks planted in the ground. Garage doors and little doors and the glow of a TV coming through a window. Someone in there staring at the box, a flat screen perhaps, surround sound, a lousy show blasting its inanity into their heads. Some horrible meal piled on a plate. A microwaved buirrito and a can of soda to wash it down. The kids upstairs in their own rooms playing video games or masturbating over internet porn. Stuck in traffic for 10, 15 percent of my waking hours. My stomach sagging through my T-shirt and my lost wife with a smear of lipstick on her lips and that blouse she bought on sale at the Gap. She watches me as some brutal murder is solved by a TV cop. My eyes glaze over and all I can think is that I want to sleep for a long, long time. But there is no rest, no respite fromt his America. Even in my dreams I see the ugliness of it all. The cars float past my closed eyes. Brutal killers lurking down every hall. I constanly lurch awake not knowing if its the burrito or the murder or just the realization that this is all there is, that this was my dream--The American Dream. I lay back and force myself to believe that this is the way the rest of the world wants to live. That I am so lucky to have a lousy job to work at, a gas sucking car, an attractive wife and a refrigerator full of food. Yes, I am so lucky.

Nipples are bad...

Several weeks ago during a post-work TV induced lobotomy I chanced upon a program called Dr. 90210. It's a program that follows individuals through a cosmetic surgery procedure and also goes into a bit of the "drama" around being a plastic surgeon in LA. It represented so much that is wrong with America and the decline of its culture. I should qualify that with this feeling I have that at one time we did have a more cultured world, that we were more European than we are now "American." (When I say American I am thinking about everything that we--I should say I--am ashamed of in our society: tract housing, fast food, fat, ignorance, violence and an inability to seperate what is tawdry and fake from what is valuable and real.) A woman has a breast implant because it's going to make her feel better about herself and it's going to be so much fun to go out and shop for new shirts. Can we really become more beautiful by going under the knife. Is our beauty really only measured by the effects of gravity and the natural process of aging. Or is plastic surgery similar to applying a coat of paint to a shack. Sure, it will look better, but it is still a shack.

But here is the thing that really caught my attention. Imagine the surgeon working on this woman's breasts with instruments of violence. He has cut a hole in the tops of them and is pouring a liquid into the hole. When the liquid turns "watermelon" colored the bleeding has stopped enough to insert the implant. He has cut her breast open, a perfectly fine breast, that is being mutilated. All of this is going on and they have placed a blurr over the area that would be her nipple so it can't be seen. It would be comperable to showing a mutilated body, arms ripped off, shot through the chest, a bloody mess, and there is a blurr over the man's penis because that would be shocking. What the hell? I am sitting here channel surfing and eating some crummy nachos and I come across the shot of a woman having her breast cut up, blood everywere, but they have, for my own sake, and God bless them, blurred out the woman's nipple. And by golly if they had not had the decency to do so I would have immediately dropped down and started masturbating. What the fu... Yes, this country is going down fast.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

What's it all about?

I consider myself, rightly or wrongly, to be somewhat intelligent. I have a well paying job with a company that is the number 1 choice of college graduates as the place they would most like to work. My income is in the top 10%--which is a surprise since I never made much money. I haven't done too badly considering the limited tools I started out with. Yes, I graduated from high school and college and then went through a series of low jobs until I got on the right track. Somehow I put myself through college by working at a cafeteria for years, stealing my meals and just barily making it but never thinking I wouldn't make it. If there is one quality that has gotten me through it is this blind optimism, this feeling that things will work out well. I could have easily given up considering how low I started but somehow I had the ability to not accept defeat and maintain this idea that I could do anything if I tried (Is that a distinctly American quality? This idea that anything is possible if one works hard enough. It's of course a false one but it sure helps keep this consumer society functioning.) For example, I had to go through over 50 interviews before I was offered a contract position with my current employer. When that ended, I went through another 30 or so interviews to get the second position. When that ended, I got the next positition in one interview. And now, after being hired and enduring five more interviews and another five when I changed positions, I have been told I have six weeks to find another position or I am out. So this past week I started the interview process again. I managed to get an informational interview on Thursday and now I am waiting to hear if there will be another interview (yes, there was a second informational interview and now I am witing for the real interviews to start). Why am I saying all of this? I think success is based upon working and failing and then continuing to work and expect more failures. Look at any successful person and their life will not be one smooth trajectory to fortune and, however you define it, success. And I am not talking about financial success, which I have not really achieved. I am talking about success that only you can define for yourself. Honorable work. Actions that can pass the red-face test and a general feeling that you are contributing and doing your best. Maybe that is the real measure of success: that you are doing your best. Trite, I know, but in my present mood I think doing your best is extremely hard. I think one of the reasons that I am losing my position is that I faltered and did not continue to do my best and as a result I am being let go. I lost sight of the hard work I had put in at the beginning and thought I could coast along and not have to continue putting out the effort. That is the difficult part of success. It's not enough to make it, there is the staying there that is the work. Success is not some gift you get to keep you have to earn it every day. I have failed to work for it each day. I got lazy and apathetic. I lost sight of how far I have come. I worked at Pizza Hut when I first got to Seattle. I cleaned carpets for nearly six months so I could pay my rent. And then, I started working as a temp doing whatever came along so I could maintain some level of dignity. I was pretty low for a long time. I lived in a horrible studio apartment with a bunch of crazy people. Screams in the night. Cockroaches. It was low. I lived that way for years until I came into the light and tried to do something different. I quit my job and actually got into a career. I started using my brain instead of just sitting and doing nothing. Sure, I still had horribly bad habits--procrastinating and drinking heavily but somehow I was moving forward. The point is that a person can't give in to their low desires. That's what I have done. I went backwards and through some miracle I have been given six weeks to pull things together. I will keep you posted.