“…art is long and critics are the insects of a day.”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.
My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.
Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.
Today, following our Sunday morning trip to Denio’s Auction, HRM whipped up some Nutella crepes with bananas.
HRM is at school, Dick is at work, I have no car, it has been rainy and cold and I sit at home all day with little to do other than wondering if I am serving any function at all here in the Golden Hills other than consuming resources.
On Friday, the first day in a while without rain, after leaving HRM at school, Dick dropped me off at Bella Bru for breakfast. Because of the rain and not having a car, I had not been there in a while. After breakfast, I walked the two and a half miles back home carrying my computer and a bag of groceries. Most of the trees that normally do so have dropped their leaves for winter — except the Zombie Tree (or the Obstinate Oak as I called it a few issues back) still tightly clutches to itself a few leaves as green as springtime. Like many of us, it probably fears the worst.
On another sunny winter day, I walked down to the newly restored Duck Pond where I sat on a bench and contemplated time, impermanence and sinus headaches.
Having decided all my weeping and wailing about not having personal transportation was unbecoming an adult, I purchased an automobile. Alas, even though it is an inexpensive used vehicle, due to my strained financial situation, I have been forced to cancel my planned February visit to Thailand. Instead, I will most likely be spending that month mainly visiting with friends and staying a few weeks in Mendocino with my sister and her husband.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Since this is the beginning of the seventh year of T&T, I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:
January 17, 2010: From Thailand.
“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.
Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:
The misspelled Bastards: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.
“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.
“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.
Some coming of age French flick with the usual but much more intelligent teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.
Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
January 11, 2011: From Thailand.
“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
January 1, 2012: From Thailand.
“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.
“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.
Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.
“I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and I am too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.”
January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.
“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
170 AD — The Hon Hanshu, a compilation of information regarding the nations of the West, written in China that year, contained the following:
“The king of this country [Da Qin] always wanted to send envoys to the Han, but Anxi (Parthia), wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].
In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin (the Roman Empire), Andun (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan (Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast), to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, raising suspicion that the accounts [of the ‘envoys’] might be exaggerated.”
Hou Hanshu, ch. 118. See TWR Section 12.
A. Quigley on Top:
Fifteen years or so before the Counter-Culture declared the word the mystical basis of everything worthwhile, Carroll Quigley described his approach to history as holistic. The following excerpt from his unfinished work, Weapons Systems and Political Stability sets out some of the initial concepts from which he builds his analysis of history.
“Necessary vs important.
The inability of most of us to distinguish between what is necessary and what is important is another example of the way in which one’s immediate personal experience, and especially the narrow and limited character of most personal experience, distorts one’s vision of reality. For necessary things are only important when they are lacking and are quickly forgotten when they are in adequate supply.
Certainly the most basic of human needs are those required for man’s continued physical survival and, of those, the most constantly needed is oxygen. Yet we almost never think of this, simply because it is almost never lacking. Yet cut off our supply of oxygen, even for a few seconds, and oxygen becomes the most important thing in the world. The same is true of the other parameters of our physical survival such as space and time. They are always necessary, but they become important only when we do not have them. This is true, for example, of food and water. It is equally true of security, for security is almost as closely related to mere physical survival as oxygen, food, or water.
The less concrete human needs, such as those for explanation or companionship are, on the other hand, less necessary (at least for mere survival) but are always important, whether we have them or lack them. In fact, the scale of human needs as we have hinted a moment ago forms a hierarchy seven or eight levels high, ranging from the more concrete to the less concrete (and thus more abstract) aspects of reality.
Hierarchy of human needs.
We cannot easily force the multi-dimensional complexities of reality and human experience into a single one-dimensional scale, but, if we are willing to excuse the inevitable distortion arising from an effort to do this, we might range human needs from the bottom to the top, on the levels of (1) physical survival; (2) security; (3).economic needs; (4) sex and reproduction; (5) gregarious needs for companionship and love; (6) the need for meaning and purpose; and (7) the need for explanation of the functioning of the universe. This hierarchy undoubtedly reflects the fact that man’s nature itself is a hierarchy, corresponding to his hierarchy of needs, although we usually conceal the hierarchical nature of man by polarizing it into some kind of dualistic system, such as mind and body, or, perhaps, by dividing it into the three levels of body, emotions, and intellect.
In general terms, we might say that the hierarchy of human needs, reflecting the hierarchy of human nature, is also a hierarchy ranging from necessary needs to important needs. The same range seems to reflect the evolutionary development of man, from a merely animal origin, through a gregarious ape-like creature, to the more rational and autonomous creature of human history. In his range of needs, reflecting thus both his past evolution and his complex nature, are a bundle of survivals from that evolutionary process.
The same range is also a kind of hierarchy from necessary things (associated more closely with his original animal nature) to important things (associated more closely with his more human nature). In this range the need for security, which is the one that concerns us now, is one of the more fundamental and is, thus, closer to the necessity end of the scale. This means that it is a constant need but is important only when we do not have it (or believe we do not have it).”
Carroll Quigley, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY, (1983) University Press of America,
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Dum spiro, spero,” (As long as you’re breathing, there’s hope) someone wrote a long time ago. In my opinion, that hope, unfortunately, is generally pointless since optimism is usually unwarranted.
C. Today’s Poem:
THE MOURNING SONG
OF THE POOR MOTHERLESS ORPHAN
DANCE TO DRUMBEATS
I was very small when my mother died,
when my father died.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Raised by the hands of friends,
I have no family here on earth.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Two days ago my friends died,
and left me insecure
vulnerable, alone. Ay ay!
That day I was alone
and put myself
in a stranger’s hand.
Ay ay, my lord!
Evil, much evil passes here
on earth. Perhaps
I will never stop crying.
alone, very lonely I walk,
crying day and night
only cries consume my eyes and soul.
Under evil so hard.
Ay ay, my Lord!
Take pity on me, put an end
to this suffering.
Give me death, my Beautiful Lord,
or give my soul transcendence!
alone on earth
pleading insecure lonely
imploring door to door
asking every person I see to give me love.
I who have no home, no clothes,
Ay my lord! Have pity on me!
Give my soul transcendence
Ancient Mayan Poetry, Songs of Dzitbalché (1440)
“Given that the world is indeed in the midst of the Age of Kali, optimism for positive outcomes is essentially futile.”
“I can play amateur politics at home with my 9-year-old. I don’t need to do it at the professional level.”
Barry Bennett top advisor to the Ben Carson presidential campaign following his resignation.
“Conservative politics are so closely intermingled with a lucrative entertainment complex that it is frequently impossible to distinguish between a political project (that is, something designed to result in policy change) and a money-making venture.”
Correlation or causation?