tom thinks

My life is impractical
Is this such a bad thing?
I want to range
Over the fullness of experience
Leave no regrets behind
For roads not taken
Chances missed
Opportunities passed by
date 2000-10-26:14:03
SelfConciousness Maybe I should rename this topic SelfAbsorbtion.

But so long as I have a license to, I should use it, don't you think?

If the medium is the message, what is the Internet saying?

That everyone talks and almost no one listens?

That most people are more interested in getting reassurance that their prejudices are correct than in learning new things?

That sex sells?

Isn't it interesting that the 'Net is a medium characterized, thus far, by sex rather than violence? I'm betting that as it becomes more "mainstream" we'll see far more violence and far less sex, because killing people horribly an en mass is not just ok but positively, literally, glorified, but pleasure and intimacy and joy are suspect.

Consider -- pick your favorite R-rated film. Any "action-adventure" will do. Now re-script it in your head with every death, every dismemberment, every kick and punch, replaced by a sex act that is comparably explicit. Every blow replaced by a blow-job. The film wouldn't just be rated NC-17 -- it would be unproducable, un-distributable.
Creatures The 'coons have gotten into the garbage a couple of times lately. They're a lot more active this time of year, with winter coming on. The funny thing is, I've never seen one in three years of living in their midst.

They're there, though -- it isn't just the disrupted garbage can that provides evidence. One night last fall there was a great crashing of sheet-metal and the dog leapt up and started barking. I figured the dog, Tux, who's a border-collie/lab/something cross, and a bit of a high-strung dim-wit, had been dreaming, banged the baseboard heater with his flailing paws and startled himself awake, which of course required that he bark like mad. Pretty much everything does -- passers-by, squirrels in the yard, bunnies or deer within eyesight (which for him is not very far.)

The next morning I went out to pick up the newspaper and found that the eaves-trough over the front door was torn off -- about ten feet of it was hanging loose, dangling in the breeze. Two or three of the spikes that held it in place were pulled out -- I found one of them in the grass below; the others were missing. Even using a metal detector I couldn't find them.

What I figure happened was a couple of racoons were either fighting or having sex or possibly both on the roof. With their furry little minds otherwise engaged, they must have tumbled down to the edge, and at least one of them wound up dangling by its paws from the eaves-trough, and from there gravity took over.

I nailed the eaves-trough back in place with some new spikes, and it's been ok since, although you can still see a small crease where it was folded. But neither before nor since have I ever actually caught sight of the creatures who broke it.
Reading Almost done with Monte Cristo. There's an interesting similarity with The Odyssey, both in the travels of Monte Cristo and in the ultimate, and highly repetitious, revelation of his true identity. I think Dumas handles it better than Homer, with the slow staging of his climax, as Monte Cristo moves closer and closer to his final revenge. There's also a fundamental inversion, of course, because Monte Cristo is nothing if not the master of his own fate, whereas poor old Odysseus gets tossed about by every force of nature and caprice of the gods available.

What is it with the power of names? Thunder, Perfect Mind, a text found amongst the Gnostic gospels dug up at Nag Hammandi is the most remarkable poem spoken in the voice of a female deity, that lists a series of constrasts, like:

I am the first and the last
I am the virgin and the whore
I am the pure and the defiled one

and most powerfully of all:

I am the utterance of my name

Translations differ, but I'll take poetry over literality any day of the week.

So what is it with names?

Names identify. The Count of Monte Cristo denotes. Edmond Dantes identifies. Does that make any sense?

Is the delight we feel at each successive revelation related to the pleasure of learning itself? Do we see reflected in each character's realization that two things they formerly believed were different are in fact the same a shadow of our own learning processes, during which we form wider and wider integrations, learning broader and broader categories, as for example we become aware that all cats and dogs and people are mammals, which are animals, which are alive, which exist?

Learning is a process of continual revelation, a sequence of minor epiphanies, each one changing the way we look at the world and ourselves. "You will not all sleep, but you will all be changed" says Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians (in the King James version it says "die", but Solzenitzehn quotes the Russian orthodox version the second volumn of the Gulag Archipelago, which is translated literally in my copy -- sometimes literality and poetry are in cahoots with each other.) I've often thought that comment should be the motto of some college somewhere, because that's what education should do: it should change you.

Assuming you weren't born knowing the Absolute Truth, wouldn't it be a vast tragedy to believe the same thing your whole life?

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