Archive for June, 2010

About the nun in the brothel…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

David wrote:
you do realize being conscientious in this dept is akin to being a nun in a brothel?

This random-sounding quip was directed at your headstrong diligence.
Your conscientious pride.
You worked through lunch because the job beckoned. Which I feel is admirable in its own right. I believe conscientiousness is the last vestige of civilization and honor left in a society which seems sorely lacking in both.

Is conscientiousness really that antiquated. Is it obsolete?

I’m an old fart, comparatively.
What is with the strange instinctual notion that possesses you as you age to romanticize the values you remember from your youth and which you identify with fondly in your later years? As you age why do you tend to prop up and idolize behaviors as tragically “lost” now that the young generation has stumbled onto the modern stage and decimated all that you helped build, that moral foundation which was supposed to pave the way for their excellence?

Is our immediate pool of slackers, our swamp of apathy (those who precipitated my note), so rare, so unique, that they deserve our single-minded wrath and antagonism?
Or are all young people like this now? I catch myself thinking like that and I feel old.

I learned the value of conscientiousness from my parents. They handed it down to me like a spiritual heirloom and ingrained it in my young mind and I’ve held on to it dearly ever since. Only in this bizarre moral quagmire that is the 21st century can the quality of conscientiousness even dare to be called into question.

Conscientiousness has been perceived as a trite and mindless devotion to conformity and regularity, but I don’t see it this way. Conscientiousness may be denigrated and ridiculed by those who have a lazy and loutish view of the quality, but it is not solely about following rules or towing the line or bowing in meek obedience to the gods of structure. That is the lazy view, the lazy way; those who seek to intellectually disavow the human attribute of conscientiousness merely indulge in pedantic verbal devices used slickly to justify their thinly veiled moral laziness.

Conscientiousness drives society; gives it a direction and a well-lit path.
As conscientiousness falters, we are left with a society that trembles at the thought of hardship and commitment. We are left with a society where men and women act like children and treat each other as such. We are left with a society that has no ethic save that of the ultimate fulfillment of hollow gratification. Without conscientiousness, we are but a blazing intellect devoid of the will or motive to channel it toward useful ends.

Conscientiousness is perfection.
Conscientiousness is what propels you forward, guided by a well-designed plan and formulated goals. It is what drives you to gather all your wits about you, to gather your mental tools and organize them into a cohesive attack that wastes not an inch nor a second in your pursuit of completing a task.

Conscientiousness does not imply apathy of innovation. It is merely a tool offered to your disposal; you may build temples with its use or you may build ditches with its disuse.

Unfortunately, conscientiousness is the anti-lazy way but humans are irretrievably lazy when at all possible. Human wretchedness finds its own level. In a group of people, any sense of existent conscientiousness is certain to be trampled to dust because the sum conscientious measure of any group will undoubtedly sink to a level commiserate with the least conscientious members of the group.

The non-conscientious always triumphs. Even the most stubbornly conscientious person (like you) will eventually be whittled away by weakness of spirit and will seek the low way as well. The nature of the crowd is never to strive for a stellar sense of conscientiousness as an entity. For conscientiousness is just the measure of one’s self-reliance on his own internalized sense of duty.

Take a lunch.
No one cares around here whether you do or not. It’s all the same to the non-conscientious. They are blessed with an impervious nature that washes away the dreaded burden of concern.

Conscientiousness is hard, selfless work.
But our time is too precious to trouble ourselves. And there is no immediate sensory payout.

The nun in the brothel knows this.

policestanye!!!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

 

Hmmm. OK, despite the fact that trying to avert the street stage drama of loud and unruly homeless people is not the most pleasant experience, there is one that I find even more unnerving.

 

You know it, occasionally you see a human specimen lurching through the downtown streets with all the proper card-carrying, homeless affectations…aimlessness, nervous mania, a bit emotionally askew. Yet you find yourself hesitant to call them “homeless” because they are dressed normally and cleanly, have a hairstyle that appears to have been combed this morning, at the earliest. They look normal in every way except in their mannerisms. The way they deport themselves looks seriously indigent. This is always an odd predicament. How do you respond to such a person who may decide to engage you?

 

Well you see, tonight I did not get engaged by such a person but I witnessed him in all his spastic glory at the corner of 5th and Hill while I waited for my bus. The usual large, scattered crowd had accumulated for the rush hour wait because the corner is major transfer point for a multitude of SoCal regional bus lines. People wait here for a bus which will take them north, south, east, west…every little corner to the Los Angeles area possible. There I stood, waiting patiently, waiting…and then I heard it.

 

The chant.

 

“Policestanye!”

 

I heard it again.

 

“Policestanye!”

 

That’s when I saw the Policestanye dude himself. Just a normal-looking white guy, brown hair, wearing clean blue jeans and a clean Henley. White sneakers. And as he crossed Hill, he repeatedly raised his right fist in the air while yelling “Policestanye!” Tell you the truth, my hearing is not the best…at least, that’s what I thought he was yelling. He was so nondescript that I might have guessed he was catching the bus which would take him home after a full day at a pencil-pushing desk job. Uhm, wait…that’s me I’m thinking of. Anyways, he would have blended in just fine if it had not been for his ritualistic Policestanye chant with the accompanying arm pump. When he crossed the street, he waited for the light to turn red in the other direction, his cheer uninterrupted. Suddenly a woman sitting in a big black SUV started chanting that shit right back to him through her open window. Emboldened, he turned up the volume Policestanye!! and he pumped his fist at her fiercely and she yelled back and laughed before taking off. I was puzzled now. Was she goofing on him? Everyone on the corner was smiling. It was bizarre. With the light green, Mr. Policestanye crossed the street, continuing his chant.

 

What the hell is policestanye?
I even Googled the word. Unsurprising, not one bite. Google didn’t even have the balls to fill in my search query according to popular usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was the dude crazy?
At first I thought so.

 

Perhaps he was chanting the name of an imaginary Xanadu he contrived in his loopy brain, maybe he was living a private World Cup fantasy in which Policestanye has just whooped Argentina’s ass. Or maybe Policestanye was a figment of his political madness, a political candidate dragged back from the land of insanity.

 

Policestanye!!! One must pump their wrist for full effect. If you can dig up a Henley, better yet.

 

I thought of the magical Policestanye.

 

In my own private madness, Policestanye is an idyllic country.
A small country, lush with endlessly deep green brush. Gentle hills, narrow roads, small cars, bicycles. A comforting and mild wind, year-round temperatures in the mid 70s. The population is sparse.

 

Children listen to their parents yet possess a healthy skepticism and are capable of impetuousness but are fully aware and accepting of the fact that they do not know everything and that life is a learning experience. Realizing this, they are filled with a zest for life and for learning through meaningful experience.

 

Policestanye has no celebrity culture for everyone is a performer. No one aspires to mimic a trashy and superficial icon because there are no icons.

 

There are no lawyers or auditors in Policestanye. There are no contracts. Trust is unconditional and a handshake is an absolute conveyace of one’s intention to fulfill a verbal promise.

 

Policestanye!
Earlier, while getting dinner ready, I found myself chanting it. It’s…catchy.
If I ever tumble into insanity, you can be sure I will be finding refuge in that verdant wonderland behind the madness that curtains my soul.

 

 

Poolside ruminations

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Alrightie, so I touched vaguely on my weekend in yesterday’s “mumbo jumbo” post. As I said, it was a nice, peaceful trip down to San Diego County with a group of my son’s teammates, albeit a bit exhausting. Saturday was spent watching and cheering them on, and it was about 3 by the time the games were over. After that, we all headed back to the hotel separately.

My son, one of his friends, my dad and I, scoped out our tiny room (it was very small and cut-rate). We relaxed and sat idly while we let the television blare and drown out the fidgety and slightly ucomfortable silence as we all attempted to come to terms with sharing a fucking closet with 3 other guys. I was the first to break in the bathroom (in a big way if you get my drift) and it was very uncomfortable because the bathroom, though separated by a non-locking door, still protruded into the sleeping space and you were left with the sensation that you were basically doing your business just inches from everyone else in the room.

When I sauntered out afterwards, I joked, “Hey, I remember what I forgot now!”
That was the cue. Quizzical expressions.
What?
“My Fabreze air freshener!”
Barum pum…
I’m a comedian. Don’t you ever forget it.
Actually, I exaggerate, for I am of the honorable courtesy flush school. Consequently, there was very little need for Fabreze, but I never let reality come between me and a good joke (even if it’s not very good, as in this case).

We watched television for a while in the little room then got word that the “coach” and several of my son’s teammates were down in the pool area. Not really being the “pool type” of guy but not finding it alternatively very fun to remain cooped up in the shoe box, I welcomed the opportunity to join them downstairs. I grabbed a book I’ve been reading forever, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and carried it down. We found some chairs to sit in and watched as some of the kids floundered and splashed in the pool while the coach and some parents chatted. Keep in mind most of the parents are very extroverted and talkative in this league, especially the coach who I imagine has not known an extended silent moment in his entire life. I’m not casting judgment, some people are outgoing, others are not. I’m not. Introverts like me find it very uncomfortable to be amongst a crowd of boisterous extroverts. I leaned back and attempted to read my book which stood out like a sore thumb here by the pool where gabbing was the activity of the hour. Still, I concentrated and tried my best to disregard the persistent background noise.

My son’s mother is also very outgoing. She loves the art of conversation so she fits in quite well in this group.

My son…ah, not so much.
If anything, he is following in my footsteps. He is introverted and pensive and a tad aloof and such is the kind of personality which leaves kids his age vulnerable to teasing and verbal harassment. So he sat there and his mom made it a point of announcing that he brought his guitar on the trip. I could feel him cringe. Once word was out, the coach and my son’s mom were relentless in their insistence that he bring the guitar down and play it by the pool. He resisted but the peppering was ceaseless. Bring it down, play for us, make yourself useful…it was ruthless man. I could sense my son writhe in agony. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the coach was the point man for the pleading attack, so was his mom. She would not stop badgering our son to bring that damn guitar down so he could play it for us. My son continued to shy away from the idea until the incessant hounding became too much, because he finally walked to the room with his grandmother and brought the guitar back to the pool. In an anti-climax to end all anti-climaxes, he strummed a few barely audible chords (it’s an electric guitar and he didn’t have his amp) and conversation eventually shifted lazily to other matters. The guitar sat on his lap. The noisy crowd had had its fun, not found what it really wanted, and moved on in boredom.

I continued reading, finding it difficult to concentrate amidst this poolside circus and pseudo-concert, and during one lull in the conversastion, one of the parents suddenly asked, “David, what is that you’re reading?” Ugh.

“Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” I answered, not sure what this was supposed to accomplish. She nodded vacantly. No one really acknowledged the book. Before you knew it, conversation suddenly detoured to the Twilight series.
Oh.

Well, there were many bizarre little interactions all weekend, but this scene stood out in my mind, and this morning I thought of it again.

I was struck my the confluence of two personal worlds in both poolside incidents involving my son’s guitar and my book.

One the one hand you have the introspective, creative world which me and my son tend to lean toward. While reading is not creative, per se, it is a creative activity. And while playing a musical instrument may seem superficially outgoing, I do believe essentially it is an introspective activity. Music, like other creative activities, is a lonely and self-reflective practice. Music, more than other artistic outlets, tends to expose one to large crowds of listeners but I would venture to guess that many musicians are actually very introverted people. When my son plays his guitar he enters a silent zone in which only he and his Squier exist. And a book…well, do I need to explain the solitary implications of that?

My son and I, see, we brought our introspective activities with us on the trip, but once such a familiar and solitary activity is removed from its normal abode and exposed to an extroverted crowd, you are opening up the activity to social contamination. Your formerly peaceful, quiet activity, when confronted with loud and the ruthlessly extroverted, becomes corrupted and loses its private luster.

That’s what happened to me and my son.
His guitar is a private activity (though he does contemplate the possibility playing in front of people one day…), but for now his dreams are small. He has no desire to carry his guitar into the open world of blatant exposure. The act of bringing his guitar to the pool, of being prodded and bullied into doing that which he didn’t truly feel, surely acted as a temporal subjugation of the creative spirit.

And bringing my book to the party, while it certainly satisfied my own need to continue reading in spite of the surrounding buzz, only tempted the gods of extroversion to comment.

For the extroverted person cannot fathom the presence of a prop absent the necessity of eliciting attention to its presence. A book cannot just remain a book, unmentioned, left to its own silent and private devices. It must be hoisted to the realm of conversational obsession. The extrovert seeks to make sense of the environment; the introvert seeks to make sense of his environment.

The guitar, representing a tool by which to express one’s inner melody, is not intrinsically defined as a tool with which to entertain and amuse. But, having fallen into the awareness of a raucous bunch, is a tool with which to amuse, and entertainment is thus extracted at great cost to the inward looking musician.

Just another day by the pool for me.

An ode to innocuous Sunday night mumbo jumbo

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Ah David, you mercifully unmarried man, why dost thou insist on blogging this fine Sunday evening. When thine bones are tired and bedraggled?

Blahblahblah.

David is tired.
David has had an exhausting weekend, but not for insidious or unpleasant reasons. It was a nice family-oriented weekend with family-oriented activities to match.
David is referring to himself in the 3rd person. Most frightening.

I spent much time south of L.A. yesterday and today, in Oceanside, down yonder, South. Northern reaches of San Diego County, just a stone’s throw from Orange County to be exact. The OC, a neighboring region so unlike Los Angeles in many respects. Orange County is very white, it is clean and the freeway sound barriers are adorned with pretty concrete and painted moldings of flowers, birds, seashells or other coastal motif shit that screams “white middle- to upper-middle class” in your face. During the ride down, I joked with my parents (as I was the designated chauffeur) that in L.A. the only artistic decorations you see on freeway sound barriers are in the form of gang slogans and colorful spray painted territorial markings. The freeways in L.A. are dilapidated and dirty and weed-strewn and littered. Orange County it is not.

Orange County is clean and the freeways and streets are wide and absent of human debris. It is actually a very nice and a resounding culture shock when you consider I spend about 97% of my time within the concrete catacombs of inner L.A. county where all signs seem to be in every language except English and most fashion is decidedly unbeachwear chic.

I slept soundly overnight, on the floor, for I have a hangup about sleeping in the same small bed with males and/or female family members. Call it weird, call it whatever; I prefer the floor. I rose about 4 am to the discordant bleat of a car alarm honking away in the darkness. I tried to drift back to sleep but it was not to be. I might have dozed off for a few minutes, but by 5:00, I said fuck this. I jumped up (energetically) and took a shower, brushed my teeth, and made my way to the wide-streeted vastness of Oceanside, and it struck me that San Diego County is really just Orange County in a less flamboyant disguise.
It was 5:30 in the morning. Not a creature stirred, not even a mouse.
Oh, there was that 50-something man in shorts leaving the hotel and he nodded a quiet good morning as we crossed paths on the stairs. I’m fond of waking up at such an early hour. Doing so instantly hands you the keys to the world for there is no one else out and about at this time. The world is yours for a few precious moments. Everyone is still in bed, asleep, enshrouded in blankets. Noisy children are asleep, loquacious adults are mumbling to themselves in their sleep, traffic is dead. This is the hour of the anti-society and I love it! I escaped the human race over a cup of hot coffee I bought from the bored looking 7-11 cashier.

This is my most energetic and creative time of the day. This morning I brimmed with ideas but alas I didn’t have my computer, so whatever great concepts I thought of have since petered out and fled into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Or wherever, for I can tell you one thing…they are no longer in my head.
Benjamin Franklin, that pilgrim of timeless wisdom and knowledge, said it: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

It’s true. At the risk of unrealistically propping myself up beyond what I deserve (I think “wise” is a fair assumption), I have noticed that those who do not ascribe to Franklin’s lifestyle are children, teens, and less auspiciously for most adults, slackers. There is something about someone who goes to bed early and gets up early that announces the person has got it going on. Sloth, gluttony and shiftlessness follow in the path of late risers. I know from personal experience…those periods in my life in which I woke up late on a regular basis were also those times I most resembled a human train wreck.

I spent the afternoon attending to commitments which consumed the majority of the day. Once things were wrapped up, we made our way back to unglamorous and darkly shaded L.A. county. Traffic in sections of the Santa Ana Freeway was stop and go, but overall the road was clear and I made it home by 6 (with a visit to the supermarket thrown in).

Which reminds me.
To conclude my Sunday evening ramblings, I’ll describe a man I saw in line ahead of me at Ralphs.

He was about as wretchedly degenerate a man as you can find functioning in society. He was Hispanic, in his 40s, completely tatted, that hardcore tattooing in places and with designs that scream “ex-con.” He was scarred and weathered beyond belief. He reminded me of one of those old Silverbacks you see on nature programs who have lived a harsh and dangerous life filled with abrasions, broken bones and lacerations. He occasionally barked some mumbo-jumbo loudly while jerking involuntarily like a Turrets patient, but I suspect his problems were the result of brain damage, not an organic brain disorder. He barked right up until it was his turn to check out. He made small talk with the cashier who was courteous and friendly to him because after all, he exuded the impression of “disabled” despite his hard-bitten appearance and he provoked a reaction of mercy and compassion. The dude was beaten up good by life, and occasionally his left arm jerked and involuntarily grabbed his buttocks.

Actually, it wasn’t small talk, he was trying to make time with the cashier. He complimented her appearance today and I have to admit she did look pretty hot.

You go, boy.

Eracentric man

Friday, June 25th, 2010

I’m in the moood for a chintzy metaphor.
Behold.

We humans are but a pinhead buried amidst the infinitesimal surface and curvature of spacetime.
How does that work for you?
Sorry, I realize that insofar as metaphors are concerned, it leaves a lot to be desired. But can you argue the point?
We are small people.
Our lives our small. Our bodies are small. And our minds are small.
In comparison, of course. If our world was the size of a closet and our lifespan a matter of a few minutes, and our bodies and minds occupied the same present space they do in this universe, then it would be fair to say we are a mammoth race. But that’s not the case.

We live in a universe that spans incomprehensible distances and which has existed for an equally incomprehensible amount of time.
Incomprehensible.

Because our minds are puny.
Our perspective is tiny.
We define the physical world, we demarcate it in relative terms to our physical size as humans. We are sensory, primitive beings and our consciousness is the result of eons of evolution, a consciousness which has evolved within the confines of a human head which interprets the world through its narrow human vision. Our reality is essentially composed of that we can touch and travel across in a reasonable amount of time.

This is why attempts to comprehend the sheer galactic magnitude of our universe is baffling, elusive and disconcerting. In order to understand or delineate inhuman tracts of space, we put a time label on them in order to better “understand” them. We have absolutely no way of visualizing the immense reach of space represented by 16,070,400,000 miles. It is such an unfathomable distance that our mind cannot grasp its enormity. In order to make sense of it (a laughable thought), we choose to rephrase such an astronomical number by converting it to a figure which represents the distance we would travel in one 24-hour day if we were as swift as the speed of light.

Ha…not really much help, is it?

But it is. We can call it one “light day” I suppose but I don’t believe physicists are overly fond of such a notion. Physicists deal with much grander and mind-crushing distances. They speak and hypothesize in terms of light years, a notion which makes my hair curl if I think about it. How far would you travel in one year if you traveled at the speed of light? Oh, you know…only about 5,865,696,000,000 miles. You know, not just one trillion….five damned trillion. Miles.

We are pinpoints, are we not?

As finite and relatively small beings, we are well of aware of our physical insignificance when measured against the enormity of the natural world. Discounting intergalactic distances, just in the context of our own planet we are dwarfed by mountains and plains and oceans and even some mammals and sea life. As we decrease the scale, our minds find some comfort in the comprehension of larger earthbound objects for we can easily grasp the boundaries of such hugeness. In this respect, I believe mankind has a good grasp of his relative physical presence in the grand scheme of nature. His self-context is realistic and grounded. Though he has trouble grasping certain distances, he nevertheless understands the near imperceptibility of the space he occupies on this planet. He is able to view the whole of space’s unseen boundaries.

However, when it comes to the element of time, man has difficulty comprehending the mind-numbing nature of time’s march since the early days of planet Earth. Because of the same limitations we experience through our humanly limited physical self-awareness in the context of the wider world, we also share many of these same shortcomings in the realm of time. We are simply incapable of comprehending galactic spans of time. Our perspective of time is limited, for once again we are but specks of fleeting existence against the duration of time the earth is believed to have existed: at the very least, 5,000,000,000 years; or the amount of time he might have walked the earth, 4-6,000,000 years; and since the advent of the modern, internet-dwelling creature he has become, 9,000-12,000 years. We are barely able to wrap our minds around 10,000 years. It is virtually impossible to comprehend millions of years in simple explicable concepts. There is no “light year” shorthand helper available to the time traveler. We are amazingly inept at sorting out the concept of time in our heads and portioning it out in understandable contexts.

I like to say humans are guilty of an “eracentric” mentality.

An eracentric mentality is that short-sighted perspective which does not allow us to wisely comprehend the radical changes that can occur over time in the nature of man’s mind and body. It blinds us to the dynamic nature of evolution as it imperceptibly alters our humanity over the span of hundreds of generations. The eracentric viewpoint lulls us into a pattern of thought in which we appraise the moment in time we presently occupy, or era, and try to define and understand it in a limited and fixed context where we gut it of all manipulations by the awesome reach of time’s influence. Eracentric behavior leads us to define present human behavior and idiosyncrasies within the boundaries of this era only while failing to view our era as the miniscule spot on mankind’s march in time that it really represents. Our limited life view is myopic and is unable to understand the effect those generations which preceded ours and our parents, and maybe our grandparents, had on our present era.

Human nature also is such that it elevates its own generation to a lofty status which ambivalently demeans generations of antiquity as primitive and crude. The eracentric outlook blinds us to the evolving nature of our cultural appearance and mannerisms. The eracentric outlook causes us to look for answers to problems (blame) that live within our own perceptible era, rather than attempt to appraise our own place in time’s parade realistically and honestly. Man’s time comprehension disallows him from venturing beyond the barriers of immediate history.

This concept of “eracentric” is very important to my unfolding theories of modern human behavior. It is an integral element in my Hive theory. Also, it was stirred to life after reading an unfolding discussion over on Hooking Up Smart about feminism and other similar deconstructions of feminism in this blogosector where we attempt to lay the blame of our current cultural logjam at the hands of feminism. The concept of “eracentric perspective” leads me to question many popular views and opinions about our world, feminism, included. I am beginning to doubt whether feminism, per se, is directly responsible for many of the gender dystopian qualities of our modern society. Rather, I must ask, is feminism merely a symptom of evolving evolutionary psychology in itself? Is blaming feminism counterproductive (and unproductive) to our understanding of evolving gender roles?

That discussion is beyond the scope of this post but I would like to address it at another time.
In this post, I merely want to outline and explain my opinion that makind’s inability to perceive and truly comprehend the forceful influence of time on his current predicament is owing to his lack of time comprehension which is manifested by his eracentric outlook.