Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Way Too Much Drama

As I sit waiting for the results of my COVID 19 test, I discover that the milk I bought for making Yoghurt is 'lactose free.' That was not my intention, but checking up on my yoghurt-making assumptions I came across an explanation for yoghurt which made the seemingly irrefutable claim that the bacteria which transform milk into yoghurt 'work' on lactose. I give up!

I've nearly died twice on Christmas eve; once an appendicitis while I was trapped over the Canadian border. They almost didn't let me through to the U.S. hospital because I looked like I was acting my pain. Too much drama! 

The next time a pulmonary embolism. Then this time I felt ill in a pretty bizarre way, but consistent with stories about COVID. The thing was that how I felt was also consistent with too much drinking (so was the appendicitis) or just the general anxiety that I have now on Christmas eve.

There was plenty of drama leading up to the event each and every time. First time, the school I headed was closing. The board had divided into factions and I was trapped between good sense and good hope. Money was on good sense. My heart was on good hope.

Second time I'd just finished moving, had no job because I'd quit the one I did have because there was just too much drama. I didn't want to do forensic computing, and I didn't want those who worked under me to do it either. I worked for the Church. You can fill in the rest.

Trump won't let go of the drama he seems to need to inflict on us. Some are apparently thrilled by it, like die-hard Bills fans, while some are traumatized, like maybe he really won't go away. But then again, what he calls the fake news won't let go of how easy it is to catch the attention of the thinking side of the great divide by promising yet another outrage to be read about.

And furthermore, there are just too many finely honed words to read. I have no clue how to pick among them, where to spend my time. The notion that my words might actually get read is ludicrous. But it is, frankly, more calming to write than to read now. Plus I actually can imagine a better future. I'm not looking forward to global warming and meltdown. 

I actually look forward to a better world. I do. Because I feel like I actually know what's wrong with or thinking. Bold claim, that.

Several times now I've re-read this essay which sits still on Quora by this evidently very smart fellow, name of Kevin Simler. He calls the essay "crony thinking," and it pretty much describes how the brain is organized like a corporation, and some of its ideas are like the people who have their jobs not because they're good at what they were ostensibly hired to do, but because they're good at the cronyism which is at the bottom of what makes the company go.

For me, memes make a better explanation. But Simler's essay does a pretty good job of undermining, in particular, why those of us on the thinking side aren't really thinking when we "believe in" global warming, say. Simler doesn't say the belief is wrong; only that we didn't come at it by fully rational means.

Now, as far as I can tell, this guy doesn't write very often. Certainly not as often as I do, but then why would I go doing any research on him to find out? He doesn't excite me all that much, and look what I got for my yoghurt enthusiasm! When he does write, maybe it carries a lot of weight. I don't know.

My drama comes down to what happens if there's no more coffee on the shelves in the stores. Like with toilet paper, one can't always predict. And what if we really do let democracy, as we've come to believe in it, go down the toilet? 

Last time, broke, I gave my entire stimulus check to the Obama campaign. It worked! I was employed at the time. This time, I gave a big chunk of my recent stimulus check to the Working Family Party's get out the vote efforts in Georgia. I'm not employed, but I'm not hurting (therefore) from the pandemic either. It worked this time as well, so far!

Answer to my prayers! To my money? Anyhow, it bodes well for our future, for sure.

Now the fact is - God's honest truth! - that I was relieved both times I landed in the ER. My Christmas anxieties were erased. I got a 'get out of jail free' card. Sometimes I feel really good about my preparations to please people, and mostly I don't. I'm sure I'm not alone in my anxiety, but I may be extreme. 

This year COVID pretty much let me off the hook, though I still had to watch people opening presents over Zoom, knowing that mine would be delivered digitally with no fanfare. Bought the day before from the New York Review of Books. Typical guy stuff.

I wouldn't have gotten the COVID test but for my kids demanding it. I guess I wanted to keep alive the fantasy that I would become immune by having it. Twisted, I know.

Anyhow, it's almost as though my very survival is at stake now on a daily basis. It's almost as though I have to be alive again. Like many of us, I would maintain that I wasn't really worried about catching the virus for my own sake. I've been worried about some critical mass of cases being reached where it would become almost impossible not to get it. Like a wildfire in California out of control (poor California, I loved you well).

Speaking of the New York Review, it does seem that the more literate and literary a person is, the more claim that person has on how many words a reader must endure. I turn to fiction for relief. It doesn't hurt my head so much. 

That about explains where we're at historically now. We don't know who to believe, and it hurts our heads too much to try to find out. So we believe our friends. During my nearly three-year vagabondish exploration of the continental US, on a quest to understand how Trump won, I would sit in a coffee shop frequented by older women and hear such things as "he seems like a perfectly honest and honorable man to me" in the context of talking about Trump and railing against Pelosi and how she wants to control the world. 

It all kinda blew my mind. Maybe they were just goading me? I must have stuck out. But I don't really think so. They were doing what women in coffee klatches always do, which is to bond with one another. Crone thinking. 

Ouch! That feels misogynistic. But Trump is the misogynist! I'm so confused. People seem to listen to their men more in the flyover states. But everyone I met was super nice! Really!

I guess that a certain subset of the Republican party really does believe that if they don't prevail their world will end, and that justifies whatever they have to do to stay in charge. I guess that they really, earnestly, believe that. All that I have on my side is irony. And a belief in science, so far as that goes.

But, you know, science still fundamentally requires the separation of subject from object, which is something I sure don't believe anymore. Actually, I haven't believed that for my entire adult life. I don't believe that there is anything like mind as opposed to matter. On the most fundamental level possible, I don't think that conception and perception can be separated. Which means that I don't think that there is a mind apart from emotion. Which means that I really can't be bothered when people fail to make cognitive sense, because - to me - there is no such thing as cognitive sense in and of itself. 

Oh well, maybe I have it, maybe I don't, but I sure don't want to drag you through as many of my words as those other guys do. That would just simply be rude. There is not nearly enough beauty in my words to make it worth your while.

I find that, while I still seem to have my taste buds, I've lost my interest to watch movies. Even to read novels, most of the time. I write here because I'm trying to understand what to do. Clearly that's also what lots of people who read those wordy articles and essays are trying to do. They're trying to understand and by understanding make at least a personal world-view on the basis of which to guide action. 


Or is everyone just wanting to enjoy life. Go back to normal! 

We should admit that most of us don't really want to go very far with this. We don't really want to have to revert to a more primitive life-style and so we fend off the cranky essayists who would have us take extreme measures.

Mine is, I think, a gentle world-view. Nothing changes very radically from most main-stream thinking points of view. All you really have to do is to let go of the notion that true understanding - understanding what's true - is ever possible. That's because we shall always be implicated in what we think we know. There is no such thing as objectivity, and so, there is no such thing as truth in the abstract.

Admitting that would force us also to admit that politics, marketing, and even conversation are vitally important activities. They constitute most of what takes our attention most of the time. Once we recognize that we can't get away from that fact, we realize that there is no right thing to do. Each of us is different, and so something like 'personal integrity' is the best that we might offer the world. 

The corporate mind has none of that. Football players may have it, but the team sure doesn't, when it's on the field. The team just simply wants to win. MAGA is all and only about team USA. The America I still believe in has more integrity than that. 

In the balance, I think (I hope, I pray, I believe) that integrity is winning. Trump will go away, and the news will be fairly boring again. Tech will become better regulated, and surveillance capitalism will be the first 'industry' to be socialized in a trend that will take us back to sanity. Cars will be replaced by bikes and trolleys and most of us will realize that there is no loss to sailing, in place of a powerboat or a jet ski.

Mainly, we will realize that we are as conditioned by the future as we condition it. That's what free will means, that's what agency means, and there is no scientific understanding which can relieve us of the obligation to care. Mackenzie Scott is a much better man than Jeff Bezos. That's a no-brainer. 

I paid a visit to Alcorn State along my travels. Even though I'd studied education for much of my life, I'd never heard of it. There was an entrance gate control where I was asked what I was doing. Looking around, I said. I guess I looked innocent enough. My trailer had hit a pothole deep enough to swallow the wheel, and I'd found that the hitch had bent. Yikes! I needed to stop somewhere.

Well, and so I stopped along Alcorn State's ring road to swap out a different hitch, checked everything out, and went on my way. Somehow the place felt fine to me. I felt fine. They need more money than they got, I'm sure, but it's a start!

Anyhow, I'll let you know if I'm still alive, next time you hear from me. It feels like a new day for the Nation. A day full of way too much drama! Mckenzie Wark. McKinley Kitts. In my next life, I will have a gender-free name and make better music. In this life, I remain among a droning chorus. Rock on. I would like to dance again.

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