“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
“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.
What’s up sir. Hey, wanna go shooting sometime? I’m not actually that good, but my brother and father are pretty good. I’ve seen both of them hit a penny with an air loaded pellet rifle from about 20-30 yards, scopeless. It was a Sears brand rifle too, the kind that leaked if you primed the chamber more than 3 or 4 times (we were really young, and always primed it more, because we were stupid). Anyway, I’m kinda pissed at the Coen brothers, they killed you off before the ultimate confrontation, before the mano-a-mano battle of you vs. Chigurh. You were gunned down by a bunch of trigger happy drug runners; an end totally un-befitting a man so obviously versed in combat and clearly a survivor of some heavy Vietnam shit. You didn’t deserve that.
You should have faced off against Chigurh and you should have, would have, won, but maybe, perhaps, the movie would have lost something if that had happened, I don’t really know, I’m not a critic, all I know is I wanted to see you dismantle Chigurh and affirm all my unjustifiable lone-hero fantasies in what would have been the most spectacular, suspenseful example of that genre to date. A la: “I’m gonna make you my special project”. That didn’t happen, obviously, but I am still in awe of Moss. Compassionate yet cutthroat, invincible yet vulnerable, seemingly omniscient but fatally flawed, he is a perfect hero/villain. Greedy, but only greedy because he is ultra competitive, and skilled, holy hell his skills, his intuitive grasp of situations and implications and real world tasks. He can weld anything, he’s trained in reconnaissance, self defense, short and long range firearms, he’s a problem solver and pragmatic wizard, a man amongst men. A patient, intelligent, unstoppable force of one, just as all my wildest self-indulgent dreams would have it. Until of course he gets Uzi-ed in a hotel pool because his mother accidentally betrayed his location.
So yeah man, lets chill sometime, drink a bud heavy or two and sit on buckets near a campfire in almost total silence (I imagine this would be your choice of activity) and maybe I’ll soak up some of that steely invincibility, that cold and almost impossible ability to focus on the task at hand, and then maybe I’ll quit wasting days on end on facebook, or ‘new media’ sites, or lamenting how much time I waste at said locations. Perhaps I’ll shed my tiresome twenty year old laments about ‘meaning’ and hone in on a skill and do it well, for decades. Perhaps, that is, if you’re willing to hang out.
As a snarky internet commenter I would say, “the whole earth is part of China, even the moon.” As an American I would say, “<Macho Man Randy Savage Voice> China’s tekin er’ jebs, they need t’ giiiiiiit out, and Obummer needs to quit apologizing for ‘Merica, ohhhh yeah!!!!” As a objective observer I would say, “Hmmm, US ‘pivots’ from Middle East to Asia to balance China by putting lots of military bases in the Philippines, expanding bases in Japan, Korea, Australia……..China starts challenging US regional allies on a regular basis? Makes sense to me.” Also as an objective observer I would say, “Reports of oil deposits on the nearby seafloor? Well, that explains it.”
But Devin, the US Ambassador’s car just got vandalized on the way to embassy. Ohhhh but internet commenter, China’s economy is starting to slow, the real estate markets are showing signs of bubbling, and access to the expanding middle class is experiencing a…..hiccup, and you think the Chi-coms are just gonna let this opportunity to deflect growing unease about the economy onto base, vulgar, nationalistic impulses (think US vs. Iraq) go to waste?
When I first came to North Carolina I was scared. I had to leave a lot of friends and a nice home. We had to camp because we did not want to stay in a motel. We had to decide a house we were going to by [sic] and get settled. My mom was brought here by a job when her college broke down. At first I hated it but I made friends quikly [sic] like Nick and Dean. But when I went to Grays Chapel I made even more friends. The first summer people got to stay over night! But I still missed my home in West Virginia and this summer my dog died her name was Muffin that made things worse. But now I have a lot of friends aand [sic] I don’t have any more problems. North Carolina is a fun place to be because it is fun. I have eleven acres and a pond. Just a week ago we caught an seventeen inch bass. And on our eleven acres we have thousands of lizards. And some deer come in our field sometimes there is a lot of blackberries wich [sic] we made a few pies. One time we had so many blackberries that it filled up our refrigerator.
Or Hey Alexis, or Whats up Alexis, or What up Alexis (dropping the ‘s’ on ‘what’s’ clearly transforms the intended meaning of the salutation……I just don’t really know how. Makes it even less formal than ‘what’s up’ maybe? Maybe I could inflect it with a bunch of extra u’s at the beginning of up, like, ‘what uuuuup,’ to communicate nonchalance, which in turn could be considered a form of confidence? I honestly have no idea.
So far I’ve established that: salutatory choices have meaning……..and that’s pretty much it. Language means things to people.
Anyway, what are the chances that a hard-rocking, inked up (italicized to show that I’m down with the young artist pre-gentrification crowd (although they probably never refer to each other as inked up, but of course I know that and am using inked up ironically in this case (which begs the question: what I am not being ironic about in this letter? If nothing, then am I even being ironic? (its kind of like the difference between 0, and ∞ (zero and infinity for any of you retro-futuristic analog-only people out there (but if I’m talking to an audience then this is all ironic, not to be taken seriously, I’ve broken the fourth wall)))))) Brooklynite (such as yourself) would want to grab dinner with an awkward guy who really does like your ‘ink’ and your music?
What I’m saying is: would you go on a date with me? Somewhere in NYC, at some point (I’m also saying that irony is dead)? If you can untangle all of that, and want to hang out, get at me, or back to me, or hit me up, or whatever, at least the valediction is easy:
PS I stole the title for this letter/blog entry from this person: Behind the Box, who also thinks you rock and have awesome tats, or ink, or ‘tattoos’ as I refer to them.
Gawker has posted an interesting roundup of current speculation that Sally Ride was a lesbian, and it really, really seems like Ride may have broken several barriers (earlier, closeted gay astronauts are clearly a possibility, but the solution here seems obvious: Ride was the first known gay person to achieve orbit), and considering the rapidly growing number of public and private individuals who feel comfortable enough with themselves and American society to come out by choice, with pride, its kind of a retrospective shame she didn’t feel welcome enough in this country to identify as gay more publicly. There was probably good reason for that. Could she have been fired for coming out? Yes. Could she have suffered professionally? Of course. Would she have been stigmatized and marginalized and treated appallingly? Probably. So it is perfectly logical Ride would have opted to keep it a secret.
Two quick notes:
1) I am clearly assuming she was gay despite the fact that she never publicly acknowledged it. Maybe she was bisexual! Maybe Tam was her friend! She was married to a man after all, which as everyone knows is incontrovertible evidence of homosexuality. Both are unlikely scenarios though. A relatively heated battle is currently unfolding on the Sally Ride Wikipedia talk page about whether or not it is appropriate to label Ride as gay, whether or not it matters, and whether or not more evidence is needed. It shouldn’t really matter, and neither should her gender, or her nationality. It should be enough to celebrate her as a human being who did amazing things and advanced our species with grace, dedication, and courage, but unfortunately we live in a world that has a few terrible legacies to address (discrimination based on sexuality and gender being the most pertinent here).
2) I am implying that her sexuality should have been an open, public, and freely shared piece of information. I am kind of saying that she should have been an activist, if public self-identification can, or maybe always is, a form of activism. As was the case with Anderson Cooper, there is a strong argument to be made that any individual’s sexual preference should be irrelevant, whether an influential figure or a private citizen (I would argue that this form of reasoning breaks down more so when the person in question is widely known and influential. Why? It just makes sense. With a greater audience public figures can affect national and international discourse, policy decisions, and provide valuable support to other victims of discrimination).
So does it matter? In a utopia, no but we don’t live there, so yes, her sexuality does matter and it elevates her accomplishments by demonstrating how much she sacrificed and how hard she worked for both the United States and the world. Oh, also, if the Gawker roundup doesn’t do it for you, just cast a quick google spell and pick your major outlet of choice to read more.