I am scared of the American government.
Monthly Archives: October 2003
“Pack your bags full of guns and ammunition…
bills fall due for the industrial revolution.”
We invade a country, topple the government three decades, and are involved in day-to-day combat in the theatre. But when one of the American suits visits the battlefield as a propaganda move and the enemy has the gall to shoot, we call it a “terrorist attack” and accuse the attackers of trying to “destabilize the country.”
Our nation is run by clowns, riding around on unicycles shouting “Terrorists! The terrorists are everywhere!” between gulps of Bacardi 150. Utter nonsense.
After a very long night, I feel as though I have learned something. It’s difficult to say just what it is, but I suppose it’s the effort that counts in the end.
Hmmm… This is not where I belong. I can sort of see it now, if I squint just right. But I still don’t know where I belong. What’s next?
I am listening to Israel and sort of thinking in circles around the fact that he’s dead and I’m not and I don’t really understand what any of that means. I mean… death… what a bizarre and incomprehensible concept. And yet… it’s a part of everything we understand… a part of every life. If it doesn’t eventually die, it wasn’t really alive anyway.
Life is a very deep sort of thing. I am about as articulate right now as a four-year-old. But that’s okay, I suppose, because four-year-olds have talents that easily surpass those held by members of the Nobel club. Chief among those is to see into the emptiness and find somewhere therein a kind of laughter.
I wonder if you can find a way to return to that ever?
Or is that just what SSRIs are designed to combat?
Heh… I have to sail off into never-neverland now.
Life is too big. I can’t conceive of it all at once, I keep getting only bits and pieces. It’s like a flock of birds filling the sky when you’re trying to take a picture, or being in the remote woods in the middle of the night and trying to hear where the rest of the civilization has gone… You can’t really get a hold on anything at all, it’s just sort of around you, swirling and imperceptible.
“This is the end…”
I never remember to charge my phone. I come back in and just throw it somewhere and forget about it. And as a result, it always goes dead in the middle of the next important conversation I’m trying to have.
Habits. You always say you’re gonna break ’em. But in the end mostly they break you.
P.S. We’re all in this together. And that’s a good thing.
“I’ve been baking bread and looking after the baby…Everyone else who has asked me that question over the last few years says. ‘But what else have you been doing?’ To which I say, ‘Are you kidding?’ Because bread and babies, as every housewife knows, is a full-time job. After I made the loaves I felt like I had conquered something. But as I watched the bread being eaten, I thought, Well, Jesus, don’t I get a gold record or knighted or nothing?”
Imagine there’s no heaven,
It’s easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today…
Imagine there’s no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace…
Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you’ll join us,
And the world will live as one.
-John Lennon, 1940-1980
It’s been eight years since I read this, and it has just hit me with full force again. Who can argue with it? Not even rationally, necessarily, but at the gut level. Do you really not feel it, not live it?
“Political economy, this science of wealth, is therefore simultaneously the science of denial, of want, of thrift, of saving — and it actually reaches the point where it spares man the need of either fresh air or exercise. This science of marvellous industry is simultaneously the science of asceticism, and its true ideal is the ascetic but extortionate miser and the ascetic but productive slave. Its moral ideal is the worker who takes part of his wages to the savings-bank… Self-denial, the denial of life and of all human needs, is its cardinal doctrine. The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public-house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save — the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour — your capital. The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life — the greater is the store of your estranged being. Everything which the political economist takes from you in life and in humanity, he replaces for you in money and in wealth; and all the things which you cannot do, your money can do. It can eat and drink, go to the dance hall and the theatre; it can travel, it can appropriate art, learning, the treasures of the past, political power… All passions and all activity must therefore be submerged in avarice. The worker may only have enough for him to want to live, and may only want to live in order to have…”
(I wonder what I am doing here.)
And finally, try this later paragraph, more subtle, yet more profound. This time, emphasis is mine.
“…by possessing the property of buying everything, by posessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession… It therefore functions as the almighty being. Money is the pimp between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is the other person… Money is the alienated ability of mankind.”
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.”
Frank Zappa, 1977
Much of the work (about 75%) for my “side project” is done, which means that in less than a week, I will probably be able to focus on all of the study that I am supposed to have been doing anyway.
Spent my one classroom experience today discussing rational choice theory (again) with a small circle of people. What I learned, once again: many people at the University of Chicago are pedants. There is a sort of “ethic of precision” going on here that I don’t know if I appreciate. I think to some extent it begins to tread in the domain of diminishing returns — spending so much time being attentive to minutae can’t do anything for your temprament, for your compatriots, or in the end for your progeny… and it really doesn’t increase your Nobel chances all that much.
Or maybe I’m wrong. I did hear something about the U of C gaining yet another one this last week. Hmmm… even so… I’d rather give someone a break than give them a useful lesson or a “firm but helpful” correction about something that hardly matters anyway. Maybe I’ve got the wrong personality for this school?
I am losing track of time.
Not in a conscious way, not like I’m late for some appointment and know that I should watch the clock. It’s more along the lines of “I can feel my former life shrinking in my consciousness and eventually it will be nothing more than a tiny kernel of truth in a vast sea of experience.”
I hate “rational choice theory,” it’s the biggest collection of tautologies and single-founded claims ever thrust upon man. Adam Smith must die. Oh wait, he’s dead. Bastard got his due, I think.
Remember Dave Matthews and “Too Much”? Heh… Yes.
Anyway… It actually happens quickly, this “socialization” into a new community. Already I have lost track of Salt Lake City politics and events. Already I am aware of innumerable workshops, festivals, seasonal “items of interest” and other concerns. No, I’m not really well integrated into my new community yet, but I’m certainly divorced from my old one.
I feel like a sort of nomad at the moment, with no one or no thing to really recognize as my own.
God, for like half an hour I forgot I was in Chicago. Then I had to hit the can. What a rude awakening to turn around and realize I’m at I-House! Maybe the virtual world really is more “real” to me…
Tomorrow I do laundry.
Contrary to what some people here would like to think, life at the University of Chicago is not all that different from life at the University of Utah (and neither are the academics). If anything, it’s just a lot smaller. And it doesn’t sound like Chicago is all that cold, either. Since I’ve been here it’s turned from sort of summery to fall-like and a couple of those same Chicagoans who told me that Utahns are wimps are already walking around in long underwear in every class I attend (And it’s not cold yet at all, it’s like 40 or something… not even hat weather yet.)
One lovely person I know told me that they make it down to -10 around here and that’s about the extent of it in average wintertime. Sounds like your basic winter, hmmm? We do that on U/U campus every year! Bah! I’m thinking hot drinks after brisk walks in the cold between classes. Sounds like I’ll be fine.
Good thing so far: nice film series just over the Ida Noyes pub. They actually showed Pather Panchali. Heh… I don’t know exactly what that’s good for now that I’m in the Social Sciences rather than film/criticism/language, but it’s somehow cool to know that I can get the same film experience here that I got in OSH on U/U campus.
Bring on the grey Indian children! Woooo!
Undercurrent of thought: why the hell did I go to grad school? Anyone want to explain to me why I have to get a bunch of graduate degrees to feel whole? Or promise me what I will actually feel fscking whole once I have them? Damn, I wish I hadn’t asked that.
I haven’t had nearly enough time to shoot the local scene yet. On the other hand, I don’t have nearly enough money in pocket to comfortably travel the local scene yet. I got the fscking plastic, but unfortunately right now that’s pretty much all it is.
I somehow feel as though this is the least insightful entry in a long time. I think Chicago is making me too damn cheerful. It’s all these crazy people telling me “Good morning!” all the time.
Dammit, I miss my guitar. But I don’t really want it sent here either because I don’t know how I’d cope with having it hanging around all the time.