Friday, September 30, 2011

There is a creativity in being a bartender if albeit a humble one. The job itself is something imaginatively created, when you think about it. After all, people could just help themselves (well, sort of) or just have a machine do it with the press of a button, 'here's a cosmo.' Fortunately there is, thanks to ingenuity and creativity, an element of personality in it that is traditionally necessary.

I, or you, get to the end of a week, and the creativity is flowing. I walk down the street on an errand to buy cat food and wish to catch some of it, 'glean my teeming brain,' as Keats has it. "Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the jungles of the night," Blake wrote, possibly with such a mood and energy in mind, the sense of burning creatively. I find myself singing Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," so I must be in a decent mood.

Maybe it helps that it's Friday, a feeling of being in synch with the main part of the world. But the thought comes, as I walk home, that when you finally have a chance to be creative and do something about it, so many fears melt away, the fear of death, the fear of old age poverty, even the fear of being mugged, or that fear of low level mistrust of the crazy fringes of a society with crazy fringes. God, how nice to just walk past a bar and not have anything to do with it, though of course I am speaking about the gross kind of a bar of drunken loud behavior as one tends to find at the corner of P and 22nd Street by The Fireplace.

Creativity, itself, in its highest and purest form, is humble, has a humility that we might associate with the passage from Corinthians. This is why America is a creative place. (One thinks of David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, mining the creativity of people in the situation of being IRS cogs.) We have the humility of the great democracy; we have a great sense of pitching in, innocently and wholeheartedly in our tradition, of mine being equal to yours, philosophically at least, operating under the sense that it will all come out okay if we do our work. (I'm reminded of accounts of late Coltrane, peaceful, drug-free, Buddha-like.)

Creative people are gentled and calmed by their processes. They sense they'll achieve something if they follow an inner voice. The greater the sense of common good intrinsically rests within the artistic motivation, the greater the art.

Children grow up. They try on different art forms. They draw and paint. Maybe they move on to music. Maybe they move on to writing. And always, in that process they are developing and refining, until their art is but the vehicle for the higher spiritual message they are capable of holding. Has the art form itself, the novel, let's say, evolved into, or allowed, a higher form of art? Is a great novel, an Anna Karenina, let's say, something higher than a novel itself, a statement of a personal politic, if you will, based on spiritually minded discovery, no longer 'just a novel.'

Do we always 'get' what an artist might be saying? Do we get Joyce, or Yeats, or Wallace,or are we maybe left thinking.

One of those ad pop ups

"BlogWorld Expo 2011
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What is this crap? "Killer content." 'Killer,' referring to the complete paucity of language, not even able to come up with a usable word from slang.

Yes, I really want to do all of that, grow, monetize, learn from experts... world's largest... yeah, right. I hereby cease to blog.
There are, in fact, times when I really see, why I love bartending, what is the point of it. It often happens with perfect strangers coming in, and the native human generosity that goes out to people passing by who you may well never see again. No, it's not for the 'bullshit factor' of the ease of being friendly. No, I think it has much more to do with the the spiritual experience, kind of like church, of going somewhere far away and finding, oddly enough, someone who is a brother, someone who 'gets' your own experience.

A newlywed couple, residents of Stockholm, come by. Over a food, people connect. The boss is kind enough to let me get them a digestif.

What a contrast of that decency of friendship to, say, the night before, one of those 'birthday' gatherings that was... well, disrespectful of the musicians of jazz night, obviously a few enjoyers of cocaine in the crowd. Why, why do you do it us, a perfectly nice restaurant, just going about its business, trying to do the right thing, and out of the blue, this stupid selfishness of
'bar people.' cut them off, in the beginning. tell them to go somewhere else. Proof that some people, even if they look okay, don't do a good job at all with the social contract. I've seen drunks do much better, to tell you the truth.

One of these days, I'll name names.

When good people come in, there is a literary satisfaction, the satisfaction of the historian, the sense that individual humans are repository of sunlight.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chekhov, it turns out, wrote a lot of letters. In which he chooses to unveil his opinion, justified for doing so, as he is defending himself against the charges of the day. They are amusing and fine to read, really good stuff. I almost feel dumb for having been sort of deflected, by reading so many stories inhabited by characters, when all their fineness comes from him.

A bartender is like a good Civil War general, gets things done. Yes, and we all have to wait it out sometimes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Entrepreneurial risk...

I dunno, what do you think it is? What is it for you? What do I think it is? Where does the risk lie? What is 'being good at it?' At what? And if you are good at 'what,' then, what does getting so good at it that then you start to get rewarded for it, what does all that look like? Does it look like $200, minus whatever food and wine you are going to eat at the end of the night including tip?

Shane MacGowan is excellent at what he does. He reinvented the genre, which deserves many descriptions, Irish music and Irish band being of that. He took risk, and risk on top of that. And he managed to succeed.

JFK is a guy who is good at a lot of things. He took risk too.

So did his brother. A family trait.

Some have lots of talent. What to do? Where do they fit in? When and where do they stop being observers and become doers?

I'm a barman. I'm on the front line. It's rich, it's interesting, it's hard, it's fun and amusing sometimes, sometimes...

Where do I start using that?

What kind of bartender are you?

Well, I guess the wine sort. More civilized. Good conversation, wine attracts.

What will come of that?

I don't know.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Medicinals of Food and Wine

Indian cuisine benefits from its native climate by allowing for the great variety of spice. This allows an Indian dish to have a directly medicinal property. Not only yogurt, but the elements of curry come to mind, anti-inflammatory substances such as turmeric and cayenne and ginger. Such cooking tastes good because it's very good for you, rich with bright anti-oxidants and the like, and also because it settles well with you. Curry curry curry. Cures what ails you.

In comparison French cuisine and all its ingenuity seems based on, as its wine is, the terroir. Good stuff comes from the earth. The cow eats the alpine meadow grass and herbs and you can taste it in the cheese, full of good microorganisms. The heat of the south allows for 'garrigue,' the dust that moves in the wind, really referring to the wild herbs that grow like dandelions there, rosemary, lavender, thyme. Olives go well with garrigue, as do capers, and basil. Such herbs too are good for you, anti-inflammatory, good for the blood and not without calming aromatherapy. Wine too is a product of the environment, that includes all the animals and the geologic history of a place, the DNA, if you will, of all creatures and things that grow and live in a region.

And so, if you are cooking crusty boneless pig's feet in a mustard sauce, you might serve a wine appropriate to the terroir of mustard, a wine that, like a red Burgandy, comes from not far away from Dijon. Or, if a dish has olives and capers and basil, maybe go with a spicy red from the South. Eating shellfish? Go with a wine whose roots go down into chalky soil, the remnants of sea shells from the geologic past, such as a Sancerre or a Muscadet. Or, maybe it's simply a dish famous in a region, like cassoulet, which will team well with a wine that comes of rain water that fell down near Carcassone, carried up by the roots to nourish the fruit.

Burgandy, by the way, lies along a venerable trade route from the East. Perhaps it is by some magic that the pinot noir that grow there are versatile and adaptable to spice. Lovely pinot noir, so sensitive, an imitator, impressionist, varied and versatile, and when a beautiful one is aged, drinking it is indeed like drinking from magic waters of earth and mineral and almost nothing in the way, just a little fruit, a little body, a little acidity and alcohol, to match.

God makes the wine, they say. We just let it happen and don't mess it up, they believe.

Good wines, like good people, are subtle. They are often from old vines, deeply rooted, balanced in their making. They are like the salt of the earth, and it would be a pity if they were to lose their individual savor. Take a wine from Paul Mas, down in the Languedoc, a Clos de Savignac, a beautiful wine hinting of piney scrub and juniper; you can almost smell the bees buzzing around on a hot day. Subtle wines, as opposed to the big thick high alcohol fruitbomb red or the overly oaked chardonnay, are of course delightful for food pairings. What you want basically in a wine is a craft of nature. Let the wind come through the vines, let them be dappled with sunlight. Let cool breezes from the waters come at night and cool them. Let them grow in poor soil on a hillside, that their roots must go down and down to gain their sustenance.

Why is it that duck goes so well with a Bordeaux, a Marguax (the softest of the Left Bank) to be exact? The duck would love such an estuary as the environs of Bordeaux, where vines grow on drained swamp land, reflective of the silt and dried mud that a duck might enjoy. As is nature, a chef is a poet, telling the story of nature. The onions and peppers and carrots which grow beneath the field the cow would graze on, it's all as if someone were telling us something, and the result of all that put together, just tastes very good. A poet must do the same.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A book is an act, the staking of a claim of the right to be a writer. Because writers are,at least in their writing modes, 'different sorts of people,' different from the norm, as they are creative in a particular way the book one writes tacitly reveals his different qualities. Thus the importance of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a kind of plotting out one's turf, as a Larkin poem is often doing so, saying, 'here is my turf.'

And one has a right to that, if he's gone through the trouble and put the time and effort in. And it's not a matter of determining whether or not he is 'of the right school' or style to warrant attention. The more he faces his condition, the more he reveals it honestly, the more he addresses his peculiarities, the more universal his work is.

And so when we read, we're not to be immediately judgmental, as if to say, this book is about a strange and bizarre person, a creep really, obsessed with some vision that sits strictly in his head, we take rather a lesson about human sensitivity.

Ostensibly I wrote a book about a college kid who may be regarded as a bit of a stalker. I portrayed him as being maybe a bit overly critical of certain professorial academic styles, while celebrating others. We find the kid staying true to his vision, true to his form of art, and if that art is critical of an institution, let's say, it is out of his love for that institution and its greater purposes.

Class struggle will devalue the opinions of those perceived to be less than we ourselves are. It will attach judgments about who through habit and professional status deserve our respect. Yet, we must look beyond our preconceived notions, as we are taught to in liberal arts institutions.

We are commanded to respect those who don't vaunteth themselves up, those who mourn and suffer and are poor. And so we respect those who endeavor to write books, supportive as to how they come up with them and of what they tell us as we go on in our own lives.

Perhaps then, a book represents a form of politics, of having a right to say what's on your mind and be respected for it. And after all, you can say whatever you want in a book. You can use it to any purpose you want. You can simply entertain, or you can call people to be better, more thoughtful, considerate of others. All of that, tacitly within.

I have, of course, the greatest of respect for writers, for all they go through, for the pains they are entirely familiar with and accustomed to, for their loneliness, silent unassuming politicians of the human spirit that they are. And one of their main problems, or rather, the cause of trouble, is when they must interface with people who are not writers. As it is, those people, who are not writers, tend to carry an argument against writing. Perhaps they don't like think as deeply. And so, like President Kennedy going to Dallas, it is not always so good when a writer goes out amongst non-writers and people who generally don't see the point of the sensitivity. Or, you have a Booth, a great disagree-er, who sneaks up on Lincoln, man of words, in a house of Shakespeare, Booth not getting the higher point, all people created equal, thinking himself a hero for that, for stopping giving the right to vote to former slaves. Best to stay away from Tea Party/Zealous Idiot Land. And the President, the honorable Mr. Obama, also a writer, should simply never compromise with the Boehners and the Cantors and McConnells; they just won't get it. Yes, it was reasonable to think that he could absorb them into his greater beliefs, his overall plan of keeping the country together, but alas, he must make a stand against them, an Emancipation Proclamation, if you will.

(Yes, obviously, Kennedy was an author, part of his adult identity and early recognition, gifted with words, sensitive to the point of tears behind his cool. And Lincoln, of course. They came along at times when we really needed a sensitive guy up there, and we should remember now that it behooves us to have a sensitive guy there now, not just the guys who already have it all figured out, simplistically termed, in league with the Palins of the world, people who don't have to think before they open their mouths, and who appeal to the woefully under-educated in this land.)

Yes, a lot could be written about those pains a writer must go through out in the desert. The things people say, little negatives, put-downs, the like, about your 'choices,' your 'idiot life in a bubble,' etc., the struggle of maintaining morale in addition to the physical struggle. Honestly, how painful it is to be taken away from your work, to then go make nice and wait on people who don't get it, don't get who you are even in the slightest, the non-writers, the non-creatives, those who, in your estimation, must have squelched off that desire and natural talent to create in the present once past childhood, seeking--you can't blame them in the slightest--personal financial security in a certain kind of market economy, having no use for juvenile rants such as this, things to do, places to go, people to meet, money to be had and spent.

I know, it would be easy to through a list of writers and knock them off one by one for their faults, Kerouac a drunkard, and so forth. Maybe they do have a tendency to bi-polar states, manic depression, melancholia, some deficiency in the brain that after all makes Chuck Close Chuck Close, missing the equipment of facial recognition, then oddly making that his art. It may be naive of me, but I don't immediately, first off, see Kerouac as a drunk, though I know he became one. I guess you just have to be very careful; it is scary finding yourself wanting to be a writer, and not many of us ever thought it a great career choice, but moreso an agonizing one, but one that leads to some form of redemption, secret or otherwise, at least for being courageous.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The writer finds it a hard thought to have that he should have been more active in politics. Writers are drawn to the great addresses defining moral issues and policy, the Second Inaugural, JFK at American University or Amherst, the candidate Robert Kennedy's speech on all that goes into the GNP, his earlier one on South Africa and the 'tiny ripple of hope.'

Look what discourse has fallen to. John Boehner preaching the new religion of no new taxes and tax cuts, as if that allows us to remain a first-rate nation in our schools and public services.

It's as if robber barons and the industrialists have been reincarnated, pushing everyone and everything they can into the factory for greater productivity regardless of the human, animal and environmental costs, whatever version of child labor they can shape and advertise to make stomachable. Just like the cow that used to pasture on grass, but now is fed along the lines of production, on anti-biotic laced corn grain as it stands in its own waste. How can one fight them, when he too is caught in the never-ending factory?

And as I read this later, I hear a ring of John F. Kennedy's literary voice, soaring as he spoke it, paced through this, calling on cadences to be just so.

I am reminded, as if by past lives, that John Kennedy (and we all read so much into him) was a writer who saw a need to go into politics (yes, this is true) and who, as largely a writer, made a success of it. He was as an actor, acting what he wanted to be, wanted, out of wisdom, for the world. He gave us a new model for the political world, including it, tying it to education and capital investment in the lives of a society's work force, as an even practice of liberal arts.

People do things because they get a high of them, a happy feeling, a right feeling. Instead of all the time we are feeling that we haven't done everything/anything right. Speaking aloud, always a high. Writing something as you wanted to, no easy task, just like an attending whistle.

There's a point in A Hero where the young man, Eastering over at his grandparents home, away from the college, 'doesn't feel like looking over the picture book of President Kennedy...' He goes out for a walk, and alone on a rural country properly New England road to absorb, after being distracted all day, his night before meeting the nurturing Jackie Princess... He goes out on the quiet road and thinking of the wonderful experience beyond wonder, he has this thought, as if he were about to take over from President Kennedy with his words... There are many things about it that make this an awesome moment in the literary habit. The golden kid I look back on, it speaks of him.

And JFK, all his speeches really said everything, the basic touchpoints of a morality, except the stuff of inevitable death. He had been through its outskirts before, himself.

A new form is always an old form.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Getting and spending we lay waste our powers." One of the truest things ever said.

"The world is too much with us," Wordsworth writes in this fine poem, about the race having forsaken nature. What would he have thought seeing us all click away at computers, never far away from shopping for material stuff, trapped.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing, simply, is an archetype. Something the species does. It's akin to doing a yoga pose, stretching carefully, muscle and bone aligned, pulled back into proper place and good posture. One cannot avoid smiling like the Buddha when in lotus position. And so one writes, and it's good for the body and mind.

What do we achieve when we write? Maybe we find something along the lines of understanding the real necessary pabulum of daily existence, what it takes to nourish and feed us in our dealings with a society more random than it seemingly should be. You'll know better that very difficult thing, that is, what to do with yourself, both on a daily basis and in general.

Perhaps good health is a part of one's retirement plan.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to the Russians, Chekhov, Turgenev

It is the ragweed season. I feel like an old man, weak, little energy, and I could almost want to cry out for some vague undefined pain within and all over. My Labor Day celebrations consisted of lamenting over the truly lousy shift that Sunday night was, where I am, as usual left to endure making polite conversation with regular customers and being left holding the bag of all the long work that is the lonely misery of closing time. I wonder about my sanity on such nights, and such is the extent of my misery that there is no option but to drink wine, just to numb the pain.

A big rain came through, and I hope I feel better today, as later on I must go face another crowd of regulars, the wine tasters who come in to be entertained by the famous wine tasting night. I'll get the first customers, I'll be left with the last, thrown to the dogs as usual.

But at least I have a book, though any book would take serious effort today, by short story master Frank O'Connor.

Periodically, when life is shit, one turns to the Russians. Who else will prop you up, support that wordy part of the brain? And when Autumn rolls around, somehow, out comes the Chekhov and the Turgenev. Dusts jackets allude to it simply, that such works, with sketched out the tyranny and barbarism of the system of which serfdom was a part, were enough to get you placed under house arrest. And indeed, there are some sketches of landowners and miserable serfs that one will find in Sketches From A Hunter's Album.

But were such works simple polemics? Where they intended that way?

Well, we are long removed from the historical period, and the record of that period also recedes, as we are left with our own problems. Perhaps in need for a little fantasy life in our minds, given such contemporary problems, one is left with a sense of the history of the form of that great work of empathy, the short story.

Reading a great story, we don't cast judgment so much as embrace the lot of truth a story brings, complicated truths that embrace sympathy for people we might not in life get to know so well or simply draw a quick moralizing conclusion. A richer picture, we are brought, of the human being. We might even see both sides of an issue, or rather, how it's hard to place blame, moving being our tendencies to judge based on certain preliminary information.

That's what a great work does. It gives you a picture of something like human loneliness, like the loneliness of old age and poverty.

And we might maybe admit that in our hurried instant byte times that we are growing less sensitive rather then more? Studies show the college kid of today is not all that great about being empathetic, as a general statement, given that we haven't saved him and her from the environment they are submersed in. (Maybe like the modern beef cow, they just need to be let out of the factory feeding zone to return to the green pasture, to eat some green grass to get the diseases out of their system.)

Okay, yes, a story is supposed to tell us an entertaining yarn, but come to find out, our attention spans and normal curiosity is quite adept at enjoying simple stories that are real about real people in real situations confronting life's issues. These are things that give stories actual content, content we learn and grow from, as children learn to read by reading about things that interest them (in contrast to the philosophies of No Child Left Behind/teach to the test.) If we really want to learn about Empathy and Sympathy and that sort of thing, it comes from reading.

O"Connor gives us a lovely picture (we are not being ironic, nor sarcastic here) of a Chekhov who had a fondness for doctors and teachers, underpaid servants of humanity. Not a religious person, he had a sense of real day to day saintliness.

And so, this evening, this great writer, who has tried to be empathetic to creatures and written a sensitive but maybe tedious tale against a background of failed adolescent romance, (painful, awkward, who can bear actually reading more than a sentence without cringing, without wanting to shoot the idiot main character) will go off to work, set up the bar for famous wine tasting night, and then deal with actual people from the storerooms of city life, listening to them patiently, serving them with hospitality, and then, when they are all done, this great writer will be finally left alone, but greatly irritated by the whole thing such that all he wants to do is go home and numb himself with wine and bad television, too tired to read. They, the customers, will have some inkling, of a basically kind, though maybe grumpy person, serving them, trying to deal with the shame of being 'nothing more than a service sector employee in the hospitality industry,' but, taking things at more or less surface value--and hey, you are what you eat, you make your own bed and must lie in it--regard you not much as a great writer. And if they were to see you as a writer, would see it as some strange obscure habit, even if when considered briefly it might somehow seem admirable in some small way, but not really amounting to much in the course of human events.

And I, the great writer, am a bit sick of my own literary efforts, and finding myself far too exhausted at the end of the week of those efforts spent in a restaurant trying to make a living to really feel very happy about the paying job.

Melville was right. Become a customs agent. Forget poetry and prose and sensitivity toward fellow human creatures.

But, yes, poor old Anton, long dead now and in the soil, what can one do against that ultimate good night but write and write and thereby erect a forest of words, even if that forest scares and leaves most fearful at studying its fringes. ( Indeed, is that not how a schoolboy might view a large book?) Rage, rage and write against the dying of the light.

Anton, you achieved your true stature through this great empathy, bringing before people and situations we would not be comfortable with, as if you had climbed into them with your own self and your own life. What a brave man to do all that.

O'Connor presents a beautiful picture of that guy Gogol, who sort of started it all. In his poor clerk, bereft of overcoat, do we not see a Christian statement, 'I am your brother, why do you persecute me,' that moves the story quite beyond the entertaining grotesque it might otherwise seem to be at first. (That is all O'Connor, not me; I simply paraphrase from lazy recent reading memory.)

How awkward would it be for one to suggest that he too was, like Chekhov, a great writer? How preposterous? That would be to suggest that it is a great soul who stands there pouring wine, clearing a low table of dirty plates. That would be to admit that you have some crazy truly insane vision of how you present yourself as a Christ-like figure, amongst, truly, publicans and sinners, the modern wining and dining set, a picture complete with your own sufferings and martyrdom for artistic ideals of saying that you a writer, but not really doing much about it except one book that took you twenty years to write and few haphazard blog entries that the world happily zooms right by without as much as a twitch of noticing. Great man, sure, right.

But then, where, when, how does one take, if not the first step, toward being a writer, but that equally difficult one, the second?

"No, I am not worthy of biography,"
quoth he.
"I am a sick man, an ill man,
as Dostoevsky.
A case of bi-polar,
a jumbled brain."
Talent enough to write
about all the worlds' great issues,
but no follow through.
We live in a democracy after all,
a business world economy;
what need have we
of miniscule empathy?

Ahh, but Turgenev, how can you miss his beauty, even if to modern reader the prose initially seems a bit 19th Century, overly-detailed, slowly paced... Anyone who can bring you a story like that of Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District, as mystifyied as it may leave you, absolutely superb achievement. Good old Penguin classics.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homo Applestorensis

This is what we are becoming, something being Homo Sapien left us vulnerable to. Of course, someone took advantage of it. Our tools would reshape us.

It wasn't JFK telling us to go the moon... It was the perfect and willing and complete obeisance to the computer, the new tool of food gathering. We leave our children to its charge.

Well, you hope something good comes out of the computer, the shiny device we are enthralled with for its myriad of instant content.

You write a book, and that's fine. You can get it up on Amazon easily enough, and on to Kindle. But... you are left with a subtle impression, that though you are a provider of real content, a decent story about human stuff, that somehow you are a great creep, and that asking anyone to read your book is asking them to perform something distasteful, asking them to participate in your narcissistic selfishness. And strange, because you wrote it to say why one is not really the creep he is taken to be, that his motivations had perhaps a bit of integrity?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One wonders if perhaps he sang to himself, or thought of music, when he rode his horse, when he rode in the rain when there was sound all about him and no one to eavesdrop effectively. He would have heard a fair amount of homegrown music in all the places he had lived, out on the circuit court road and elsewhere. At Antietam he had Lamon play banjo for him, to, as he said, let him laugh to keep him from otherwise crying. And so it doesn't take too much of a fancy to think that he let his mind wander toward music as he rode. He loved poetry. He loved cadence. He loved the things of emotion.

And so there is an inherent musicality in his great addresses, a tapping, a listening to the music that is in nature.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Generation Limbo: Waiting it out" August 31, 2011 by Jennifer L. Lee, New York Times.
Recent College Graduates Wait for Their Real Careers to Begin

Why can't Dick and Jane get a real job? What happened? Harvard English Major graduates... waiting, and waiting.

Well, guess what. The long and the short of it is that the popular big business model is about as moral as food packing industries were back when child labor was allowed.

Let's take the banking industry, the same industry that has done such wonderful things lately as derivative speculation and real estate bubbles, allowing, in deregulation, predatory lending, interest rate games, and so many things that simply speak of a lack of respect for the consumer and the individual? Oh, yeah, real examples of self-made millionaires... at what cost to the rest of us and our old man's pension? It is representatives of this same industry that we ask to sit on boards and be trustees of our liberal arts institutions.

These youngsters, in the prime of life, what have we thrown them, but waiting tables, and waiting and waiting. And perhaps I might disclaim that I could serve as an older poster child of these recent grads in limbo.

How 'bout if we asked industry and big business to have a moral side... How 'about we asked them to ask themselves if their business decisions are moral, rather than just profit minded? Intellectual property rights, yes, it gives a fair number of lawyers a job, but are such tools being used to in a way that helps the economy in a broader way?

Examples: Monsanto, proprietary patent, cruelly enforced, of genetically modified soybeans... Corn, Big Beef... Cargill, Tysons, the producers of about the most inorganic food you could possibly, in a million years, in Hitler's worst mind, come up with. Yes, I take this from FOOD INC., the documentary, without researching them as I should... having little else to go on, but you hear the truth and it sounds right, doesn't it.

Big companies hire their punks, their thugs. That's part of how it works. The companies, like those of the pharmaceutical companies, who would also want to push stuff that's bad for you as well as the good, like the big banks, they hire and pay well, and wave a carrot in front of all they want to seduce, and that works. Maybe that's what these kids intuitively sense, that they and the rest of the world are better if they take a humble job that at least isn't outright immoral, not part of the system.

Sad to say all these things. Sad to think of talents wasted. Sad for one to admit to himself that he's not accomplishing much good in the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An 'ah-hah moment' is really quite simple.

When we watch a sporting event, like the Tour de France, let's say--human beings crossing a landscape with the help of tools--we are looking for creatures similar to us. We see, in essence, the very same being as ourselves. We feel this at a very deep level, an intuitive physical level. And we say, (like Melville), ah, you too are human just like me. (The 'ah-hah moment' is itself such a moment, recognizing what we do or think over and over again, just admitting, or seeing, the remarkable quality of nature.)

This is why we watch things. This is why we read histories. This is why we read speeches. This is why we read books and poetry, and watch movies. We are intent on recognizing our fellow species, perhaps mainly for breeding reasons. We are still deeply and organically captivated by what the creature does. There is something of 'oh, that's how I might look when I might do that,' or, 'I like doing that too.'Of course, the world is so populated, so full of our species it would seem silly for us to do so.

Another mind might simply say, 'oh, well, duh, of course...' But it's not silly. It must be something wired into our reproduction, into the survival of our species, as if we were ever recognizing who we might mate with, or who our original buddies were back in the caves we sheltered and ate in. (Did our exact species come from a breeding population of six hundred individuals, as people who make intelligent study of this sort of thing propose? That would make some sense, even if we are how many billion right now.) It is the core of why we do altruistic things, why we teach, why we inhabit the things that are good for us as a species, the arts, good nutrition, exercise, healthy lives not too far removed from nature.

We still, I hope, find ourselves beautiful and amazing. The human being, homo sapien, we know, is quite a creature.

Discrimination and prejudice, those are hard things to figure out. What made us unable to see that the other person, too, was a human being? Or does one fall into manners, even in their sweetness, that leave them on the Neanderthal's side of evolution, bound to disappear in the face of all the difficulties somehow thrown up against them, baffling them.

Or are we susceptible to being duped into believing we belong to a certain tribe, like one we participate when we go to work, but which doesn't offer much to us?