Monthly Archives: July 2018

Believe what you will but let me believe what I will

[pure off the cuff, spur of the moment fiction, by ~burning woman~ ]

“No, no!” I said. “Stop beating me up with it, I thought we had agreed we were not going to discuss this. I know what you believe and it doesn’t bother me, it’s your choice. By the same token, you know what I believe and it’s my choice.”

We were sitting at the table in the dining nook, me at the window facing west, he across from me. I had a glass of white wine, he his strong, dark beer. It was already late, of a Summer Sunday evening, and I just wanted to enjoy the darkening skies and the fading colour from the clouds hovering near the horizon.

This is how it started:

“I am going to watch for meteors,” I said. “Make a wish, you know?”

“That’s pure superstition,” he replied, looking up from his book and taking another sip of beer, “when are you going to give up that childish nonsense? It’s embarrassing.” He looked at me with his mouth turned down, making it obvious how displeased he was with me at that moment.

Only he wasn’t talking about my wishing upon a shooting star, he was talking about my belief in the spirit world and particularly in my insistence that I was fully aware of past and future lives.

We had agreed, before we decided to live together that our differences in those areas we would accept from each other and only broach the subject philosophically, in a “what if” sort of way. It wasn’t supposed to become another patriarchal relationship in which he, the man, decided the correct way we, meaning me, the woman, should believe, or think for that matter.

When it came to beliefs, as far as I was concerned, there never had been and never would be a “we” in the equation. I didn’t care what he believed or believed in. He was (still is!) handsome, kind in his own way, supportive most of the time, great in the sex department, an important aspect of the relationship to me, and I must admit that I loved him, well, sort of. Is it love when there is no passion in it, just an easy comfort?

But does that mean I have to give him my mind so he can fill it with his own ideas while excluding mine? Not on your life. I’m not made to take things that way; to be taken for granted, or thought of as the little trophy woman who bats her eyelashes and exclaims, ‘Oh, but you’re always so right, dear!’ No, he’s not right, not when his “right” needs to supersede, or cancel my “right” as it does when I express myself in what he calls a superstitious way.

This isn’t about who’s right, who’s not. This is about who is free, who is not. I didn’t sign up to have my ideas replaced by someone else’s. Not that I signed anything to get into this relationship mind, but you know what I mean.

So I countered: “When you buy a lotto ticket, what do you call that feeling it gives you? You don’t buy a ticket without some hope that you could win, even win the jackpot. What do you call that hope, if not a form of superstition? Logically it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to buy a lottery ticket because the odds are so against you. So in that moment you override your logical thinking and allow yourself a wild moment of magical thinking. You allow yourself to be pulled into that shameful realm of illogic.”

“It’s not the same thing,” he replies. “I don’t believe in the lottery as if it was some spirit force, some divine being, an angel or the Great Pumpkin. It’s just a game.” He did enjoy mocking me with that reference to the Charlie Brown cartoon super being of Linus’ he called the Great Pumpkin.

“But it’s a game of chance!”

“So?”

“It’s a game of luck!”

“And?”

I could feel myself becoming frustrated and upset. “It’s superstition, honey. The other morning, when you came storming back in the apartment and said, ‘God, I went and locked my keys in the truck last night,’ were you subconsciously praying to some superbeing you say you do not believe in because you were in a tight spot, in a hurry and didn’t remember where you kept you spare set of keys? Instead of invoking some deity neither of us believes in you could have said, ‘Karin, do you know where my spare set of keys is?’ and I would have told you. I told you anyways but you didn’t ask me. You addressed the problem through a kind of superstition of your own which you justify with excuses and that hurts. Do you think I’m so stupid I don’t notice these things?

“It’s late, I’m going to bed and I’m sleeping in the spare room. We’re both working tomorrow, I’ve got a pile of reports to check over before my first class so I’ll be off early. I’ll eat on the way, you make your own breakfast, or not. Tomorrow evening I want you to apologize to me and reaffirm our agreement to enjoy each other and leave our beliefs as sacred and private to each other. If you cannot do that, and do it sincerely, I’ll be leaving by next weekend.”

“Where will you go?”

“That’s a really stupid question. Since we’ve been together I’ve been propositioned at least a dozen times, the last one was just a week ago. I travel light as you know and there are a lot of lonely beds out there whose sheets will eagerly part to let me slip in. Don’t self-blind Rico or think I need you because no one else will have me!”

I was getting angry and hated the feeling.

“You’ll miss me.”

“Of course I’ll miss you, you don’t have to state the obvious. But that too shall pass because I choose intellectual integrity over a great fuck.”

“Is that all I am to you, a great fuck?”

“That doesn’t please you?”

“Well, yeah, but isn’t there more for you?”

“Of course there is, or there could be but not when you try to emasculate my choices. My feelings for you cool very fast then.”

“So I’m wrong then?”

“I’m tired and I’m not going around this mulberry bush with you Rico. Good night.”

That was a year ago, probably why I remembered it today. He didn’t apologize, he said he couldn’t see that there was anything to apologize for so I left him that weekend, I could tell he was going to try to talk his way around the problem but I was having none of it. I’ve seen him a couple of times since; he bought me a drink the last time. How are you doing? Fine, you? Oh, OK, I’ve got a girlfriend, Nina, she’s Italian. Good for you. Our team lost again. Yeah, too bad. I had her change the drapes in the bedroom; they reminded me too much of us. Good idea, no point dwelling on the past. That was about it. I suppose it never was what you’d call a deep relationship, more of a convenience.

It’s not the way I prefer them but it’s the only way to keep my options open. I’m sort of living with a guy too but I saw no point in mentioning that, he’d already assume I was or he’d already know that through his male gossip circle. I know the pub where the circle meets and what is talked about there.

You know what? I need to find another direction for my life, I feel I’m on treadmill if not on a dead-end street. I don’t like myself much these days and I used to feel so sure and so proud of what I’d accomplished for myself. I feel that the more I insist on my independence, or perhaps the way I go about it, it’s making me increasingly self-centered and selfish. That never used to be me and I’m certainly not blaming the men in my life for this quandary of mine. If this was another girl’s story I’d end it with: “Get a life, woman!”

We have Played this Game

[experiences – by ~burning woman~]

It is time. I walk to the edge of the River’s bank, take a deep breath then slowly step down into the water. The water is fast, the current noisy, hissing with the effort of carrying sand to some unchartered destination.

 

The water eddies around my legs and thighs. The current is very fast here, that’s what makes it so exciting and challenging. The water is cold but not numbing as a month ago, repelling and inviting all at once, I feel a desire arising in my heart, like wanting to abandon yourself to make love to a stranger you don’t really trust and who is much too old for you.

I tell myself I don’t mind the cold. I feel the sand eroding off the bank under my feet and suddenly I slide down into the water, slipping as much as three feet, down beyond my standing depth and thrust outward from shore. My heart skips a beat, maybe two, as I find myself facing the rushing, swirling surface of the murky water. I’m committed now, no turning back: my body is pulled away into the spinning whirls of colder waters. There is no swimming back to shore here. All I can do is follow along as the water spins me in an ever-widening circle, then sweeps me downstream.

I am alone here, it was always my choice. No one to throw a rope, or shoot out in a kayak to help me back. I swim slowly, carefully avoiding panic. After all, did I not seek this? Dream of it? I am in the River; I am one of her children, whether she acknowledges me or not. I acknowledge her and I’ve always loved her, even if I’ve never trusted her. She has her life, so much more awesome than mine, so much more significant. She flows off and down, to lose herself in he arms of her lover, the sea. All I am is a bit of flotsam, that’s all. Alive or dead, she will carry me until an eddy throws me upon a gravel bar, or into a pile of driftwood stuck in the trunk of a giant fallen cottonwood.

I have a life too, however. I have dreams and purpose. I have drive. I chose this encounter, not to challenge the power of the River, but my own silly kind of courage. I spin around, still filled with fear that the whirlpool will suck me under but I’m just far enough away from its center to drift, arms out, legs kicking slowly, trying to find traction. And I do. Suddenly I find myself moving in a chosen direction. I decide to aim for a spur of gravel far downstream where the current assumes a more predictable flow. I roll, front to back, one look at the serene blue of the sky and I know, once again, I am going to live.

We have played this game, the River and I, for a very long time. It’s not a competition, just a game. It is also a played-out allegory of one life lived outside the communal box. No “life jacket”; no safety net; no buddy system. Alone to face myself and grasp a fleeting taste of some vague remembrance of a primordial relationship with nature as a purely natural being unencumbered by societal mores, taboos, complications.

Eight Things You Need to Know About Me and the Beach

Another reblog, I know, but… how many times must the “r” word (racism) be heard by an American to finally recognize that nation’s great, perhaps greatest, sickness, and one that can only be put squarely on individual American shoulders? I realize that racism, like misogyny, is a global Earthian sickness, not just American, but since this story is based on American “values” as expressed by white America, then it is an American disease. The cure will not come in the form of a pill, or a vaccine, but in an individual change of heart when Americans (in this case) finally realize there is absolutely nothing to be gained, in any possible way, by being racist; when they finally realize that racism is a root cause of dissension eating at the nations’s sense of “selfhood” and destroying it. This is a powerful, if sad, story. Sad mostly because too common.

Longreads

May-lee Chai | Longreads | July 2018 | 15 minutes (4,118 words)

When I was a junior in college, my father, mother, and brother took a trip to Hawaii. I didn’t go because I’d been named editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and needed to be at school before the semester started. I needed to get the first issue out for freshmen orientation. I also needed the money. My parents weren’t paying for my college, and I needed every little bit of cash that I could get.

While she was in Hawaii, my mother called me at my dorm to tell me about the trip. Only recently had my mother overcome her severe fear of flying and she still had a kind of ecstatic quality to her voice that I associated with the extreme highs that followed her moments of panic or fear.

“It’s beautiful! This is my place,” she declared…

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Reblog: The Blue Pill Presidency

I just had to reblog this post from CounterPunch (more links pasted at bottom of this post) This is what I call writing… wow! One little tid-bit: ” We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.”

July 19, 2018

The Blue Pill Presidency

by Jennifer Matsui

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Who would have predicted that in 2018, the FBI, the CIA, John McCain, Jeff Bezos, and now the monarchy would be feted as the vanguard of ‘The Resistance’ by the American ‘left’? Suddenly Trump’s presidency makes sense. To paraphrase a leaked Deep Squid memo from the deep swamps of Deep Space: “When they are forced to eat shit sandwiches around the clock, eventually deep fried vampire squid will appear delectable by comparison. Mission almost accomplished. Mwaah ha ha . . . !”

Our cephalopod overlords know us better than we do. After all, they created and control the devices that keep us under surveillance, and the algorithms that accurately predict at what point we will press ‘accept’ on the terms and conditions of a Trumpless, Squid-led world order that builds walls, empowers banks, oligarchs and polluters, while privatizing and militarizing everything that isn’t nailed down. We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.

Fighting fascism is a noble and worthy pursuit. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite figured out how to do it. Flaming pitchforks or pussy hats? Collective struggle or individual belief in the power of existing institutions to rein in their own power? (Cue evil laugh track here) Allowing oligarchs, tech billionaires, war criminals, secret police agencies and monarchs to lead the charge is like treating a worsening chronic ailment with skin burrowing predator aliens from a deep space wormhole. Once you let ’em in, they will feast on your organs and prey on everything in their path. Don’t believe it? Just ask your local polar bear, honey bee or independent bookstore owner.

Notice how the Left establishment is suddenly enraged that a ‘classless’ dotard Bingo hall barker doesn’t know how to curtsy all proper-like on his tax-funded tour of Downton Abbey. Fancy that! Ten million slated to die of disease and starvation in Yemen? Whatever . . .

Before we all break out into a Beyonce led chorus of “God Save the Queen – She’s a Stellar Human Being – She Smote the Tangerine – Let’s Put Her Name on a War Ship’s Submarine”, here’s a little reminder: The old lady might look like she’s luring yet another loose cannon lunatic into a Paris tunnel with her super monarch powers, but QE2 would sooner submit to a golden Trump shower before she would relinquish her role in the feudalism that keeps her in jewels and corgis. The oaf in office is just another necessary evil the class system’s crypt keeper has to contend with for the survival of her undead progeny.

Post-Trump, we will never question the tentacled Master Race again, or doubt their wisdom. Eternal warfare and worsening poverty will be viewed through a ‘blue pill’ haze of relief. The nightmare ends. We are none the wiser, having taken the option to forget and move on. An escape back into reality, as the metaphorical ‘red pill’ suggests, would require a brutal confrontation with truth and the permanent discomfiture that comes with knowledge. Instead, we will once again swallow the same pill that transformed George W. Bush a beloved and unfairly maligned statesmen a few short years after his presidency unleashed those still burning hellfires across much of the earth. Her Majesty will once again be properly genuflected to by a visiting American head of state with better hair plugs.

FLOTUS will be decommissioned, disassembled, and sent back to the offshore factory that makes state-of-the-art Living Dolls for moneyed incels. With any luck, she will be rebooted as a life sized Barbie companion for a lonely 12-year girl old in Dubai. Worst case scenario: A shipping invoice mishap will have her sent to Barron on his 30th birthday.

The ceaseless bombing and starvation will continue under a different Twitter feed, and POTUS 46, after proving he can clip on his own tie before launching a nuclear strike on Iran will be embraced by woke folk, arms dealers, spooks and crowned heads of states alike.

After being hogtied and injected with near-lethal doses of absurdity, we find ourselves collectively hallucinating a tinpot tycoon blowing up Twitter one day, a giant orange clown in a diaper floating over London the next. Carefully sowed confusion will give way to an equally orchestrated acceptance of the war-as-usual status quo when the blue pill kicks in. A return to normal will be a much welcome steel-toed boot to the face.

More articles by:Jennifer Matsui

Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.

CounterPunch

Life’s Treadmill-the name of the game: Repetition

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

We’re on Life’s treadmill and here, everything repeats. We know this is basically true, as far as our history reveals it. Helpless, we repeat ourselves; out mistakes, our stupidity, our ignorance; our dreams, our hopes, our certainty of better days ahead.

Time after time we seem able to latch on to our dreams, bootstrap ourselves out of some historical nightmare and lift ourselves up into a bit of new understanding. Take the Renaissance, for instance. Before that were many ages characterized by the empires they gave rise to. We know a bit about ancient Chinese dynasties, the Great Wall of China standing as a mute tribute to those times, good for some, terrible for the peasants and slaves who died on and in, that wall.

We can talk some about Greece and Mesopotamia. Egypt and Rome. Great civilizations, or so we like to think. But if there is one thing we should pay attention to; we should “remember”; it’s that everyone of those civilizations came to an end after they became empires and resorted to war against the rest of the known world to maintain their entropic power.

The war maker and war monger forgets that in the end, his wars kill him and the world he sought to control, own and enslave. The lesson seems ever fresh yet it is made of endless repetition, here on earth and before that wherever in the galaxy and the universe. We are nothing new, nor are we evolved or created: we are characters in an ever-repeating universal drama. That we choose not to remember changes nothing.

Whomever or whatever you are, this is your truth: naked you come into the world and naked you leave it. It may take a thousand years if you are an empire, but you will die in your illusion of completion. No one and nothing can save you from yourself and you are made of history and history repeats itself.

That being the case, naked you will return to this world again, in your time, or in a time that destiny has determined should include you. You return upon the stage but no one remembers you, or the parts you played in the past. Even if you are a main player in some pages of previous history, even you will not remember yourself. That is how the game is played, however sick it seems to a healthy mind.

This of course brings up a very interesting point: if everything repeats, then so do, so will, the characters of ancient myth. Angels and demons; werewolves and vampires; Gorgons and gargoyles; mermaids and Sirens, unicorns and satyrs… these were “noted” once, long ago, or not so long ago, ergo, they exist and must return to the stage.

My people have a saying: if you can imagine it, image it, describe it, write about it, think about it, then “it” of necessity exists. You cannot describe, either to yourself or to anyone else, something that isn’t. Fairy tale characters? Fantasies? Science fiction? Yes, all of that has reality in their own dimension. Some are still leaving while others in modern fantasies and science fiction, are returning.

Even a thing that “exists” but in imagination and as something of long ago is trapped in Life’s repeating cycle as it affects this universe. The creatures vanished so they could return upon a set time. That is how the drama is played out. No new characters are being added; they are simply being decked out in new costumes.

Some will shrug or mock. Some will say, ‘So what if it could be true, it wouldn’t change anything for me cause I wouldn’t believe in it anyway.’

Well, perhaps not. On the other hand a vampire in the shape of a well-known character, say one’s family doctor, may appear, and strange things may happen which, predictably, no one will believe. If it is a doctor accused of weird behaviour, they’ll say  he’s been sampling his drug cabinet after hours. We don’t like to engage the unthinkable so we rationalize and it’s much easier to live in collective denial than to use one’s personally honed mental abilities to access a broader reality not available to the “blue pill” people.

I don’t enjoy being labelled a “conspiracy theorist’ yet it’s a small price to pay to remain outside the corral where the sheeple mill about waiting upon the beneficent hand of farmer, shepherd, saviour, god, anything other than their own abilities. That is the guarantee that the treadmill, which pattern we were designed to break, will continue to grind away because we will continue to tramp the empty wine press and push the ropeless capstan, life after unremembered life.

Who are the dead; who are the living?

“And many are the dead men too silent… to be real” (Last line in: Canadian Railroad Trilogy – Gordon Lightfoot)

The Tyrant and His Enablers

With so many wondering, puzzled, confused about the character tyrant Trump who managed to have himself made president of the USA, despite the obvious prior to his election, that he was a type of personality wholly unfit for the position, not only due to his glaring moral failings, but to the fact that he had no political experience. What is Donald Trump? I think this reblog from Longreads answers many questions. It’s a long read, no pun intended, but well worth the few minutes on the page and the long minutes of pondering that should follow.

Longreads

Stephen Greenblatt | Excerpt adapted from Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics | W. W. Norton & Company | May 2018 | 14 minutes (3,827 words)

From the early 1590s, at the beginning of his career, all the way through to its end, Shakespeare grappled again and again with a deeply unsettling question: how is it possible for a whole country to fall into the hands of a tyrant?

“A king rules over willing subjects,” wrote the influential sixteenth-century Scottish scholar George Buchanan, “a tyrant over unwilling.” The institutions of a free society are designed to ward off those who would govern, as Buchanan put it, “not for their country but for themselves, who take account not of the public interest but of their own pleasure.” Under what circumstances, Shakespeare asked himself, do such cherished institutions, seemingly deep-rooted and impregnable, suddenly prove fragile? Why do large numbers of people knowingly accept being…

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What’s it Like – a Lesson from the Anthill

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]
 
What’s it like when an age-old and more-or-less trusted, definitely believed-in system begins to unravel, and as it does, it reveals that neither the emperor, nor those who bow before the august personage, have any clothes on despite having spent fortunes to convince themselves they had the best clothes any age, any society, any nation, any empire, ever wore? 
 
The system I’m talking about is capitalism. For most, capitalism is the best way if not the only way, to handle economies and satisfy the desires of the go-getters.  It’s bloody competition, but instead of lions in a savanna, or sharks in an ocean, this is done with money and the blood isn’t actually food, just collateral damage. For the believers, such damage is not only acceptable, but necessary to keep the system going. How else could it work? Capitalism’s first need is war, and it’s health depends entirely on perpetual war.
For those who doubt this, show me a true period of history that does not involve some form of war or conquest; an era concerned solely with the welfare of people and the planet during which there is no war at all. Please!
 
Capitalism, for those rare few in the know, aware, and sensitive to things that really don’t work, is a system designed solely to create the mass illusion of scarcity in a world of plenty.  The pretend competition is what gives meaning to the illusion of monetary motion between individuals and/or large collectives. Another word for manufactured scarcity is debt. 
 
According to the Gospel of Capitalism, every nation on the planet must, of necessity, be hopelessly indebted to organizations invented strictly to create the illusion of debt. International banking houses, organizations like the IMF, the Fed, (watch these replicate as time tightens the rope around the capitalists’ necks) these dictate who loses and who wins as they are forced to participate in gambling casinos they call international trade deals. First rule of gambling: the house always wins.
 
Think for one moment: why should those who sit on, and own by right, national, natural and labour (the only real resources), be indebted to institutions because these institutions say they are entitled to all of it, and entitled to distribute the spoils as they see fit?

Hello, out there?

“Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here!” 
 
Again, why should a native of El Salvador live in abject poverty, fear for his, or his family’s lives, or slave for some multinational corporation that has nothing to do with his country and is nothing but a vulture sitting on a carcass it claims for itself?  Can anyone explain the justice in that? If not, why not? If unjust, then why is it accepted as normal? Is injustice so ingrained in the Earthian brain that it no longer matters… maybe never has mattered until it slaps that brain across the face when it expected a handout and a silly and meaningless revolution results?  
 
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings…” And yet it fascinates me to see, in the current times, reasonably intelligent underlings scatter about each time someone or something kicks the anthill of civilization, to repair and rebuild, despite the fact that each repair and rebuild leaves the edifice in less working order than before the first kick and the ants much worse off. 
 
I used to do that to anthills in the north, there were lots of them, and watch what happened, week after week, after each time I flattened their hill. They’d swarm out and immediately set about rebuilding. As long as there was a queen in there, the rebuilding happened, though it looked less and less like a “hill” as the ants were too busy rebuilding to seek out food and tired themselves out in their useless labour. If I got the queen, the anthill was abandoned and reverted to grass. 
 
I see “the economy” and “climate change” and increased population with associated disorders, kicking “the living shit” out of civilization’s anthill, and I see those frightened, angry, brainwashed ants immediately rushing about madly plugging, patching, repairing the worst holes. They live in the “hope that springeth eternal in the human breast” that a younger queen (say, alternative energy, a “green” government, even perpetual motion machines – call it what you will)  will be able to prevent the final disaster: the end of the collective, for ants, being ants, cannot imagine life without the anthill. 
 
Collective madness: that’s what it’s like at the moment on earth’s kicked anthill.

“Say, ants, have you thought that perhaps it’s high time to imagine and implement an entirely new type of interaction with the environment, with each other, one that doesn’t require the maintenance of an entropic anthill?”

Injustice is ingrained
in my Earthian brain.
I struggle in vain
hoping for some gain
but the system’s a bane
in which I but wane
to an end which is pain.  (File that one under truly bad poetry)

 
Quote: “War is the only true industry capitalism can produce.” (Comment by Sojourner on TubularSock, WordPress)