Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fly like a butterfy

That void of greed gets filled with love. It's fear that makes the difference.

I wrote that as "note to self" after inviting in schoolmarmish cold water to my blog. (I'm not complaining - I needed the wash, and often enjoy cold showers!!) Hell, there's no one else to encourage me, so I'll have to keep myself going. It's not like anyone's reading this without some invitation. Note to self: keep moving.

All my work day, I swim out against the surf, only to have ever larger waves roll over me, and still I swim. It's the nature of working with technology, and as I've said, I grow tired. The retirement goal has evaporated. I turn and surf.

I do believe that blogging is, as medium, the perfection and completion of narcissism. Oneself as authority. Oneself without correction. Oneself without earnings.  Oneself surprised with oneself. 

It accompanies the near complete destruction of prized media. My most recent Time Magazine is but a sliver of its former self.  Newspapers get destroyed daily, and they don't just disappear, but instead their hearts get carved out, until all that is left is the barest shell of medium for advertising. I think that's the proper definition for "googled".

Sure, when recently I made contact in the blogosphere - a first hello of sorts - I ventured out to look and see what's there, and of course, almost at the start, were young women snapping pictures of themselves. Stripping. Naked. I'm not exactly ashamed to say that I was turned on, and shockingly because they seemed in no way coerced or victims of some early life sick boundary crossings which drenches other such transgressions with furtive guilt on the part of the viewer. Or should. Simple truth or dare, it seemed.

I assure you I was not shocked by the sight. We technology guys even have to clean up after a very few priests sometimes, and you might say we've seen it all. I was shocked by my own reaction, and that's true narcissism right there. Like Nixon on TV, I wasn't ready.

I'm certain that these smiling happy girls are also victims, though. I think we all are. 

My sense of blogging when I first heard of it was young women writing public journals. There was some hoax, wasn't there, when it turned out that Lonely Girl was a network plant? Yet another commercial attempt to secure the prurient interest of the viewing public. And what tricks did they use to get her all the views? Production values? Notices in widely read publications? Is there even a chance for earnest bloggers without some inside track?

I know that for me, starting up a blog was very like entering a nudist camp, and I really didn't like it. I still don't, except that no-one wants to read my epistolary emails. All media for transcprited thought have been subsumed and destroyed except this one. Even the private ones. I need some place to surprise myself, and journalling alone is, well, onanistic. It doesn't do it for me. And I'm really really trying to be respectful, dear reader, of some proper bounds which still aren't clear. Indulge my excesses, only if you will.

The blogoshpere is free in every dimension and degree, and I suppose that that's its problem. My own blogs would be redundant to steal or copyright, because they're too purely me. That's the point. It doesn't make me proud (as you know, I think every naked body looks approximately the same, which is, I think, the mystery). But it's what I have to do. It might be all I have to do, though I'm working on that book.

I think I am a terrorist here. I don't mean the nasty image we have of determined killers wanting virgins in the sky. I'm rather thinking of those young and dispossessed, up against some wall who are so easy to lead astray. 

Except I'm hardly innocent or young, still planting written thought charges which might or might not go off at the right time in the right place, but it's all I've got left. To use the machinery of the beast to bring it down. There are more of me out there than you might think. 

What do you call a terrorist of love, without religion? A blogger? Careful now, there's plenty of hate there too. How about just someone who's had enough, needs and can take no more, and doesn't know what else to do. I've had all I can stands, I can't stands no more  - I'm Popeye the sailor man. Toot Toot! (that's an oldfart joke, right there, but I think Popeye got his start in porn)

I think I want back newspapers. Cities. Mother Nature. Neighborhoods where people venture out from wombs with view, because what's on TV turned, suddenly, boring. In absolutist terms, I refuse to plant actual bombs in subdivisions, or tie myself to trees. I don't necessarily begrudge those who do, so long as they play nice. I'm at least as desperate as they are. 

I also want back the schoolmarms and the editors and the research staffs, and even the reading public. The hardest thing to teach in school is how to tell when writing is poorly argued. At my school, for gifted kids, we struggled and struggled and still half the faculty could often not tell the difference. (the kids and staff were one in this effort, and I myself was judged as often as judging).

But as I said to my new young peer; "As Joseph Conrad noted, if you want to learn to swim, you must 'in the offensive element immerse' and not reach out for air. We’re a people of narcissism - it’s what the economy used to want."  There is nothing more narcissistic than to be a televised consumer. Having learned how to swim, I'm diving in after my image, to break it up more than to embrace it.

We won't get beyond by fighting narcissism head on. Community access programming is now quite out of control, and even beyond Al Gore, who thought he'd try that after he moved on from inventing the internet. (I love the man, don't get me wrong, but he's proven himself a good enough sport and therefore makes a better target than, say, Rush Limbaugh, who's a really really bad sport, and the very definition of Narcissus' evil twin.)

These matters are hard. I live in a small town where the attempt to build windmills did nothing so much as to reveal just how corrupt the town government is. It's the fruit of disinterest (by folks like me) right alongside too much interest. And as our leadership gets more abstracted from local ground, they become embedded and impossible to dislodge. Unless you come up with some absurd sex scandal.

Oppressed Native Americans get regal patents to enter cities and destroy them; by patchworking together new sovereign lands, they get to build gambling casinos regardless of what the people living there might want.

Suburban enclaves, now grown almost entirely above middle class and white, exist directly alongside the darker and poverty level median income of the city. You can't make this up; I'll name the names. Amherst New York, an entirely sprawled municipality without any there there, and "home" to the University (still addressing itself in Buffalo) which should have been downtown. Amherst now exceeds the city of Buffalo next door in assessed value tax base. Consistently, it's ranked among the safest cities in the land. Consistently, Buffalo is at the very bottom.

There was a plan to build a light rail to connect the University with the inner city. Guess where it still ends? Right at the city boundary. Right where I used to live (yet another narcissistic insertion, for which I can't possibly apologize enough, ho ho, ho hum).

I don't know what stimulus might bring, but I do know that there is no simple resolution. The suburbs want their local governance. Regardless of literate expressions, it would be impossible to change that vote without redrawing boundaries. And that, as we know, defines no small part of the overall conundrum.

Amherst also needs the cultural and off-the-tax-reservation infrastructure of the city, beyond just a name for its University. And yet to link the two, even with a rail line, gets likened, apparently in the collective minds of the suburbs, to using a dirty needle or something. 

As if it's infection that would spread, instead of richer life. The highways, by transiting only private cars, seem safer. Even the buses, which I guess are too damn much bother to ride, don't seem to excite the immune system. Or maybe they did, and it's hardened now against more commerce?

I guess it must be the difference between particles and waves again. It's constant touch which terrifies us. Touch risks merging boundaries. Let's just keep our thoughts, politely, to ourselves! Who do we even have to talk to any more, when strangers might so sharply differ in the fundamentals, and friends already know what we're going to say.

Why the hell not catch a spark off something I say here, make it your own, and publish the hell out of it. For chrissakes, I'm giving it away! I'm the guy flashing his soul in your face. You don't have to look if it's gross, but I've already decided it's yours to do with what you will. You won't want the words, but you might just be stirred.

This just ain't right!

I really don't have any particular ideas about what to do about all this. But I do have some very abstract ones. And none of them gain in value, even for me, by keeping them to myself. That's the magic of written words. Their power descends from reproduction. Gutenberg led directly to vulgar masses. Now this is vulgar publishing. It has its plusses and minuses. But you can't really stop it anymore.

I do know that as the blogosphere, so called, matures and grows, it is getting taken over by more sober interests. It's what's outed government crime, and perhaps enabled Obama (well, you'd have to think that W did that all by himself without all that much help) to make the final cut. It still represents the very selfsame force which brought down the Eastern bloc walls, catalyzed I think by cellphones and faxes against which the Chinese media controllers were never any match.

Sure, the irony is that China comes out from Tian-an Men more nationalistic than ever, with student protests turned to strident flag-waving. And East Germany goes all big box, because like wide open America, there's nothing already there to wreck. 

Despite or because of uptight Eastern propriety, the rigid Bible-belt's down South. Go figure. They're supposed to be gentile, polite, and comfortable with ambiguity. Damn carpet baggers all over again, I guess. I think they just don't read.

So there's the underside of blogs. Simple and liberated-from-good-argumentation publishing is how the Bible thumpers perfect their formulas. It's how true believers in Ron Paul get their stories straight. It's how the Trade Towers get believed to be brought down by deliberate planting of  bombs, decreed by plausible denability straight from the top.

There's nothing left to true it all. The editorial staffs of newspapers are approximately as impotent as I am in local politics right where I live. They just don't have the time and manpower. And if they did, they don't seem to have the interest.

So, the solution is abstract, dear reader. It truly is. I've been in the appendix bursting position of mediating murderous disagreements, and the only tool that ever worked was abstraction. You have to take the argument up a notch. Above all heads. Right into the sky of just plain making sense.

And if you want to be believed at that level, you have to insert yourself into your argument. How you came to think this way. What happened to you that day. You have to release all claim to brilliance of pure invention, and lay out your shoddy evidence. Unretouched. The good argumentation still belongs in more carefully edited spaces. But here in the commons for ideas is where some creation happens.

So the windmill dispute in my little town could and should be handled by directly compensating not just the blasted farmers who get the lease for towers on their land, but those whose view gets destroyed. PILOT fees don't make the cut, since the government's corrupted.

Of course that changes the boundaries. View is not property, in our system of laws. But air rights and mineral rights get bought and sold, as abstracted species of "good will". Potential for earnings. Why not wind rights?

We must reclaim the commons.

So common schools could break down boundaries too. Out in the sticks again, there still remains astounding profusion of old one-room schoolhouses. They've been converted to homes and lodges, but they once did represent the distance a child could travel for a day's study. 

And very recently the State completed yet another in a long series of consolidation rounds. Bigger is better, the state seems to know for sure, but when I took my daughter to tour (maybe it was an object lesson in getting along better with her Mom in Buffalo, though I think we were both in earnest), there were true confessions of sex and drugs and gangs in the wilderness.

I've argued plenty about the need for smaller community engendering schools. They're cheaper and more productive and by the familiarity of each student with the others obviate the destruction of the sorting which is the main preoccupation of schools for capitalist production. 

There were Ivy leaguers and true artists too, coming out from that country school, right alongside the toothless bumpkins. My daughter recognized a viable choice, against the reality of her private city school. So did I, which was a comfort.

But the scale is still all wrong, and I guess, yet again, it's bussing defines the paradox and maybe even a way toward solution. Bussings which, all agree, propelled families to the suburbs. Which magnet schools have never quite redressed.

What if taxes actually were redistributed from the center, and no child was prevented from entering any school because of boundaries. We now fund our schools from local property taxes, guaranteeing disparities to funding, and barriers to foreigners. Like jealous siblings, the large municipalities carp about their relative subsidies from Albany. But city schools keep burning, while the suburbs go all Ivy, as if there's only that one bell to ring.

It's no mistake that one of the very best schools in the country, by many measures, is City Honors right here in Buffalo. It's got great leadership, I know. It has a strong internal cultural identity, despite having been uprooted from any geographic neighborhood. And it suffers the same identity crisis of the failed school I once ran. It's meant for the smart kids, and can easily be blamed for creaming off the best and leaving the other schools to the bumpkins. The second rate teachers. Burned out.

Why not like France, where the bread tastes great because the price is set?  The competition's all in the quality. So teachers get paid the same all over, and schools get funded the same. And families can choose any among them. Why not?

It's what central government is good for, and with this meltdown we have that opportunity. Because the central government is totally broke, and has nothing but power with which to broker.

Tepid efforts seem always to ensure the opposite of their intention. Bussing within city bounds ensures hardening of boundaries between city and suburb. Private schools, paradoxically, infect or stimulate some change, by sending their busses all over the region. 

Oh, I'm all mixed up for sure. I know. It's a mess. I keep striving for resolution when I only want to think out loud.

I have absolutely no question at all, none, that it's love must fill the void where greed once owned the territory. That when the cocoon does burst and makind spreads its wings, consciousness will have transformed from generator only of technologies for literal flight, to Slumdog transformations of mere accidents to destiny. 

Emotion is the sixth sense which provides, in effect, that trueing. Minds looking along all the accidents of life, and pulling from them sense. Not toward some abstract goal. It's not a sense of direction - all the other senses work for that. But rather, a felt attraction. To something also alive and free.

This blogging is no end, but means alone bare naked. It's messaging as the medium, and by sucking up its tail, might spell an end to capitalist excesses, toward something more down to earth and, well, less abstracted.

Tear down the walls, I say, and let's have a very very quiet revolution. I'd love to have you in for tea, my dear. Feeling is no grant you see, but an accomplishment I work on. 

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