Get ready for some embarrassing amateur poetry, mean postcards to conservative legislators, and pessimistic conjecture about the future of the planet and the human species because after two years and eleven months I’m reviving the blog machine!
Why did the blog die? I don’t know really. One possible explanation is that the recurring ‘ask out a female celebrity’ thing got old and the more I learned about the nightmarish, hate filled swamp the internet has become for women the less fun or even appropriate those entries became. Even if they were intended to mock the stereotypes of online dating (wanna get some coffee!?), the primacy of celebrity in American culture, and as a framing device for discussions about social and political topics it still just became……icky, and even more so retrospectively when considering things like the gamergate horrorshow and what happened to Leslie Jones. So no more of those.
Why else? Creative slump, gradual and sadly inevitable professionalization (meaning more work, more attention to work, more time spent thinking about work when I’m not at work, more work trying to become better at work – additional training, etc.), complete and utter dissatisfaction with my ability to write, a hideous black cloud of despair cast by climate news and the descent of my country into proud and outright oligarchy, or maybe just the dissipation of anything resembling an attention span due to the omnipresence of various social media feeds. I don’t really know, it was probably a combination of all these things and more.
Why revive it? Again, no real idea but I have a guess: the deep and alarming sense of intellectual/mental emptiness that comes from hate-scrolling endlessly through facebook and descending into barely suppressible rage at the state of the world and the country. This is not a healthy thing! What is also not a healthy thing is hitting refresh endlessly on facebook and twitter hoping for…………..I don’t know what exactly, that good news will happen? It demands absolutely nothing of me in terms of effort or consideration or thought to browse headlines and if I’m gonna fry my retinas and ruin my sleep/wake cycles with LED light then I might as well bang away on the keyboard about something for a while, which is at the very least an extended effort to produce a piece of writing, however terrible it may be.
Anyway, here we go again with the nihilism and bug pictures and pretty flowers and postcards to retrograde congress-demons, and the terrible poetry, and the swears, and hopefully the occasional thoughtful piece of writing that I’m not ashamed of.
On a long, solo, morning ride
Glides by a tired, dusty countryside
Slouched in languid angles of repose.
Over sagging homes and crumbling walls
Float magpie feet and strident magpie calls
From top to top of poplar trees.
And in the fields and orchards work goes on
Beginning, as it likely always has, at dawn
On stomachs of bread and soy.
“I want to emphasize something sad, really sad, not what we don’t do for the poor, but what we do do to the poor, and that is instead of helping the down and out in this culture we have a society that seems to persecute the poor. So that if you start sliding down you’re likely to accelerate all the way down to destitution, homelessness, even incarceration.”
– Barbara Ehrenreich.
“When I’m out on a long run the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once, my brain isn’t going blehblehbleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s just me and the movement and the motion. That’s what I love – just being a barbarian, running through the woods.”
– Jenn Shelton
If I lived 100,000 years, until the ice caps were gone, until Antarctica was an elite beach community, until the manifestation of the Kurzweilian singularity, until the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program was completed, until manufacturing jobs had moved from interior China to Southeast Asia and on to Africa and finally back to the ruined hellscape of America, if I lived that long I doubt I’d ever see or read about another human being as ignorant and vain and insufferably smug as you. You are a bad person, good day!
– Devin Howard
A small, metallic beetle chillin’ on some bamboo in Moganshan, about an hour and a half west of Hangzhou.
“Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that the questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain, and of whether and why it might be justifiable to inflict pain on them in order to eat them, turn out to be extremely complex and difficult. And comparative neuroanatomy is only part of the problem. Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own; and even just the principles by which we can infer that others experience pain and have a legitimate interest in not feeling pain involve hard-core philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, value theory, ethics. The fact that even the most highly evolved nonhuman mammals can’t use language to communicate with us about their subjective mental experience is only the first layer of additional complication in trying to extend our reasoning about pain and morality to animals. And everything gets progressively more abstract and convolved as we move farther and farther out from the higher-type mammals into cattle and swine and dogs and cats and rodents, and then birds and fish, and finally invertebrates like lobsters.
The more important point here, though, is that the whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue is not just complex, it’s also uncomfortable. It is, at any rate, uncomfortable for me, and for just about everyone I know who enjoys a variety of foods and yet does not want to see herself as cruel or unfeeling. As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing.”
David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster, first published August, 2004
The essay from which this quote is taken is particularly fascinating to me because my Uncle Bob, my father’s sister’s husband, is a lobsterman living in the exact same harbor that this article references. I know many of the towns, I know many of the industrial terms, and I am familiar with my own set of ambivalent emotions regarding the consumption of lobster because I’ve spent lots of time on or around lobster boats. My uncle doesn’t even eat lobster, he doesn’t like the taste. I’ve never asked him about his opinions regarding the consumption of animals or the relativistic notion of pain.