Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kute Korrespondences

"The rest of us, not chosen for enlightenment, left on the outside of Earth, at the mercy of a Gravity we have only begun to learn how to detect and measure, must go on blundering inside our front-brain faith in Kute Korrespondences, hoping that for each psi-synthetic taken from Earth's soul there is a molecule, secular, more or less ordinary and named, over here - kicking endlessly among the plastic trivia, finding in each Deeper Significance and trying to string them all together like terms of a power series hoping to zero in on the tremendous and secret Function whose name, like the permuted names of God, cannot be spoken... plastic saxophone reed sounds of unnatural timbre, shampoo bottle ego-image, Cracker Jack prize one-shot amusement, home appliance casing fairing for winds of cognition, baby bottles tranquilization, meat packages disguise of slaughter, dry-cleaning bags infant strangulation, garden hoses feeding endlessly the desert... but to bring them together, in their slick persistence and our preterition... to make sense out of, to find the meanest sharp sliver of truth in so much replication, so much waste..."
— Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

Lately, I think I’m suffering from early stage Michele Bachmann – having difficulty distinguishing the neurological sparks of exploding tiny cerebral embolisms from coded messages from god.

A mild-mannered gardener by day, at night I dress up like a colorblind ladybug and fight crime, or - depending on the TV Guide and the police scanner - I watch 70s sitcom reruns on basic cable. I also meticulously alter my daily routines so that I don’t fall into patterns that my enemies might study in order to defeat me. I never shower at the same time twice, say, or eat a liverwurst sandwich for lunch two days in a row.

And speaking of sandwiches, I’m as American as a grilled cheese sandwich made out of Wonder Bred (sic) and those suspiciously orange slices individually wrapped in plastic (but with the plastic removed before grilling). If we simply toast our bread and then slap some cheese in the middle, the terrorists have already won and destroyed our American lifestyle options. Next stop: Sharia law that denies women access to healthcare and stones the gays.

But back to my mental status. Lately, I’ve been saying “bollocks” instead of bullshit when the evening news is on the tv. As we all know, bullshit (or as they say on the other side of the pond, bollocks) describes the content of what you say when you don’t know or care whether what you say is true or not. To lie assumes you know what the real truth is. To bullshit is to not care one way or the other. Most of the talking heads on evening news seem increasingly to have dispensed with mere lies and drifted into pure bullshit.

I conclude from my increasing dependence on bloody British expressions of displeasure, that one of three things has happened. One, god is trying to tell me something. B) I’m listening to too much BBC America. Third, of course, I’m batshit crazy after all.

If it’s god, then I conclude he’s is telling me to expand my cursing horizons and embrace a more international lexicon of profanity; to mix up my speech patterns the same way I mix up my daily routine to foil evil villains.
If it’s not god, then the Beeb could be sending me subliminal auditory messages that somehow American censors don’t get and thus don’t bleep. The Beeb is agreeing that the evening television news is rubbish. See? There I go again.

And if I’m simply crazy, well then, at least I have the imagination to enjoy it by making cool Brit profanity my own and not boring myself by shouting the same old cute bullshit back at my television, while continuing to sift through the waste for the meanest sharp sliver of truth.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

To Quilt or Not to Quilt

God in His infinite wisdom 

Did not make me very wise- 

So when my actions are stupid 

They hardly take God by surprise
Langston Hughes, Acceptance

I’ve been trying to quilt a lovely quilt using my lovely pre-owned sewing/embroidery machine. It’s king-sized, so it’s humungous and thus heavy. I’m trying to use a pre-programmed quilting pattern of lovely swirls and circles. I am experience a performance level somewhere between that of beginning second-grader and a coma patient. I’m about ready to tie the quilt to a sledge, lug it up to the top of the highest mountain I can see, (not counting the mountains to the south which are actually in Mexico - because my quilt doesn’t have a passport), tie the quilt to an altar and burn the fucking thing as an offer to the quilting gods whom I have apparently, unintentionally, and thoroughly offended.

To be fair, I’m using 2-ply embroidery thread to do this instead of heavier 3-ply quilting thread made for the express purpose of sewing quilting blocks. Also, I’m not attempting to quilt tiny blocks which I would then assemble into a big quilt. Instead, I’ve sewn the blocks into a single quilt and pinned the lining and back into a largish quilt sandwich. This means I’m trying to place the quilt into an embroidery frame, hook the frame to the embroidery arm, and then lift and move the gobs of awkward quilt sandwich in sync with the moving frame so that the motor won’t overheat trying to move frame in tiny circles and swirls as it follows the quilting pattern.

Also, I’ve refused to attend any of the instructional classes offered by local fabric and/or sewing machine vendors because the people who attend them wear clothing covered in cat hair and loose threads, and talk about their grandchildren and what they are going to eat next, and I have not quite sunk to that level. So the learning curve on my actual use of the machine to sew quilt patterns is steeper than the broad side of a barn. M’kay?

Still, why should my ability to quilt be based on such objective facts as my ignorance and use of the wrong thread? My quilting ability should not be subject to such banal reality, any more than it should be subject to the vagaries of fortune, the whims of fate, or the ply of my thread. Based on my extremely high degree of natural beauty, my expectation of exceptional levels of accomplishment consistent with my desires and presumed intelligence, my natural entitlement to the best the universe has to offer, my subtle but innovative sense of personal style, and my compliance with most of the provisions of the Patriot Act, I should possess mad quilting skilz by now.

Instead, I find the present state of affairs quiltingwise to be unacceptable. This too should hardly take the quilting gods by surprise.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Swing and A Miss

“It can’t be OK if you have 30 marijuana cigarettes and bad if you have 50 marijuana cigarettes. It's either bad or it's not bad."
Themis Klarides, Republican Connecticut Congresswoman, Connecticut To Decriminalize Marijuana

Dear Congresswoman Klarides:

Another way of saying what you said above is to put it into an if/then conditional statement. You said if a lot is bad, then a little is bad. If X, then Y. Two problems here.

First, the proposed provision of the law about the illegality of marijuana depending upon the quantity is not an if/then conditional statement in the first place. Nobody said it is true that if a lot is bad/illegal, then a little is bad/illegal (If Y then X). So the truth of your attempted converse (If X then Y) is irrelevant.

The proposed law is a single proposition (a little is not bad/illegal) followed by a qualifying “however” proposition (a lot is bad/illegal). What you did was attempt to rebut a non-existent proposition.

Second, even if we skip the straw man argument your sound bite cleverly blows to smithereens, and for the sake of argument, we assume the law is in fact stating the nonsense proposition that if a little marijuana is bad/legal, then a lot is not bad/illegal, there is still a problem with your logic.

Sometimes, the converse of a true proposition is true. Some things are bad regardless of quantity. For example, we probably both agree on the proposition that that if a single murder is bad, then so is a mass murder. If X, then Y. The converse of this proposition is also true: if a lot of killings are bad, then so is one (if Y, then X).

Sometimes however, the converse of an if/then statement isn’t true. For example, let’s agree that moderate cleanliness is next to godliness. It does not follow that a lot of cleanliness is more divine. Obsessively and compulsively washing one’s hands is not godlike; it’s a recognized mental disorder. Another example: eating one gummy bear might be good, but putting an entire handful into your mouth at once and masticating them into an oral mass grave is not so good.

A final example might make this point with clarity that even you can grasp: If you use marijuana, then you will die. Since we will all die, this is true. However, the converse is probably not so true: everyone who dies used marijuana. That’s as stupid as proposing that since everyone who said prayers in school will die, then school prayer will kill you. Stupid, right?

With all due respect Congresswoman Klrides, your statement is stupid.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Exploded Dreams

When younger," said he, "I believed myself destined for some great enterprise. My feelings are profound; but I possessed a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements. This sentiment of the worth of my nature supported me when others would have been oppressed; for I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellow-creatures. When I reflected on the work I had completed, no less a one than the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could not rank myself with the herd of common projectors…. My imagination was vivid, yet my powers of analysis and application were intense… My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy; and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred it did not endure the violence of the change without tone such as you cannot even imagine.
- Mary Shelly, Frankenstein

Langston Hughes once pondered what happened to dreams when they were “deferred”. That’s a nice way of saying when they don’t come true. Rather than the artful raisin in the sun, I like the last line of his poem when he posits that such deferred dreams might just explode.

One fortunate consequence of losing one’s mind with age is that the dreams of youth fade too. So, it’s not like I mourn all the childish dreams that shriveled and dried up. It’s more like I don’t remember them, and thus they don’t sting.

It's more like there’s this empty shelf in the increasingly dusty and disordered cupboard of my mind where the dreams must have once resided. There’s a button, a dessicated and now colorless flower, a mysterious key to some forgotten lock, a pretty rock, a small picture of Dopey, and some blue lint. Luckily, I am educated enough that I still recognize the astonishing breadth of my ignorance; and more fortunate still that I no longer have sufficient imagination to be frightened by the unknown.

The dreams of my youth didn’t so much explode as fizzle. I don't think I was destined for illustrious achievements. I didn’t discover some unknown land, or write a book or stop a war. I didn't posess a sentiment of the worth of nature to support me in tough times. Then again, my sensitive little heart didn't get unimaginably wrenched by misery.

I did forgive instead of holding hate. I learned how to cook. I learned that I like cats. I read of few books and understood fewer.

I loved my family, and knew love in return. I made a garden. I am satisfied.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Retirement = Good

"I'll tell thee everything I can;
 There's little to relate.

I saw an aged aged man,

A-sitting on a gate.

"Who are you, aged man?' I said.

"and how is it you live?"

And his answer trickled through my head

Like water through a sieve.

He said "I look for butterflies

That sleep among the wheat:

I make them into mutton-pies,

And sell them in the street.

I sell them unto men,' he said,

"Who sail on stormy seas;

And that's the way I get my bread --

A trifle, if you pleae."

- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Now, maybe if my job description were the second verse above, I’d aspire to love my work.

Butterflies? Check

Sleeping? Check.

Yummy pie-making? Check.

Ability to let thoughts trickle through the head like water through a sieve? O hell yes, check.

A trifle, if you please.