Friday, July 7, 2023

Memory and Memories

I generally start writing when I feel like I have something to say. I've had something to say for a while now, but I can't remember what it is. I come home frequently, after working on the boat, to find the burner on the lowest setting where I leave it after stewing my prunes. I mean steel-cut oats. I have a washer in my toilet now, weakened peristalsis is my diagnosis, and find myself clicking off my iPhone reader and expecting the flow to stop.

But I did manage my first attempt at single-handing my new old sailboat yesterday. There was so little wind that - but for the looming thunder storm in our weather which exceeds even AI's ability to predict now (again?) - that it seemed not a dangerous thing to attempt. I'm not sure that the wealth of jam cleats and tweaking lines make an improvement to my sailing comfort as compared to my old wooden boat which had only a few bronze cleats and fewer lines. Though I did use to have to tie the tiller and scamper to the mast and then again out to the bowsprit to get the sails up. Hey, let's put on a show!

I remember the inner and outer calm I felt in the midst of Lake Erie's famously steep chop in the heaviest blows. I wonder if I'll ever get that back.

Most of the day was spent rationalizing the mast electrics. As expensive as they are, all marine gizmos seem to embody endless fussiness and fussing. But - and there are other things as well - the wiring on this boat was all pretty much molded in between the fiberglass ceiling and the fiberglass deck, but for the pigtails sticking up through the deck. Nearly 50 years of weather had taken its toll, marine certified though they were. And there is utterly no space for the wires to be gathered or even accessed, as below their exit point is the main structural component - a beam to support the pressure of the mast. 

So, OK, I built a tiny space on deck to coil and protect the wires hereonforward, and installed a marine-grade plug connector and spent oodles of time attaching a "steaming light" just beyond my reach up the mast. You can still, sort of, buy the current production of legacy lights, so ubiquitous were they once upon a time. But they changed the underneath in ways which would cause a short in my legacy aluminum mount.

The old ones had pigtails, which I cut at the wrong moment from inside the transom after having removed all other attachments. It made a very nice sounding plunk as it disappeared into the weeds below the transom. Not to be deterred, I got a new old one on eBay which was dead on arrival, and then found an actual new one for half the price wanted by the local West Marine outlet which has broken my little piggy bank. That's the one which wouldn't work on my legacy mount up the mast. 

But not to be deterred, I went home to fashion a spacer, and now I have a steamer light. And then, toward dusk I did my single-handing test. I'll get there. I'm persistent if nothing else. Even though my knees are shot from working on them to repair the decks. 

And that, my friends, is my extended metaphor for what we all face just now. As in what shall replace petroleum-based plastics? How shall we find enough of the rare metals required for batteries without destroying the planet still further than we already have? And really, how shall we grow beyond the idiotic resolution to electrify our current planet-killing automobile fleet?

I'm not saying that we should all take up sailing. That shall always be an extravagant pleasure.

But do we really need any further evidence than the recent Titanic submarine adventure about how we value individual life (or don't?)? How many desperate migrants have drowned from indifference? And what minuscule fraction of them were ever rescued by megayachts?

The connections among us, for which Artificial Intelligence may be a goad toward reckoning, have been evidently destroyed when whole armies are deployed to rescue the hopeless cause of billionaires, and those same armies turn tail at obstreperous migrants. 

Our addiction to selfish and alone pleasures has been as carefully curated as those opiate recusals still killing so many of us. And I am far more alone than most. I live in a stunningly large space which I could never have earned. I own a car and a sailboat and just sold my solo travel trailer. 

Who am I to preach connectedness? 

Well, let's just say I'm not comfortable interacting socially in the world we live in. I've never wanted to spend my life competing for income so that I could join the ranks whose lives I imitate. Going out to eat makes my exceedingly uncomfortable just simply because I can't afford it. I do still manage to have a good time though, when I do go out with friends. 

And I live my life in troubleshooting and repair service to friends and family. So they return me favors. 

I want to open my house, but I don't really know how. Soon, we shall all be forced to open our houses. So few will there be that survive the climate swings. My trailer was my lifeboat. If only I could have planted it in my driveway, I wouldn't have had to brave our Buffalo Christmas-cancelling hurricane with snow this past winter to rescue myself at my daughter's condo with generator. But the preservation codes won't allow it.


The reactionary half of us nurses a not-unreasonable grievance that the comforts of their lives have been robbed by callow rationalists who believe in strange futures of digital frolic. The rest of us vaguely hope that human intelligence will rescue us by cleverness, if not perseverance. 

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? That's what we mean by cleverness. To gain the world. To rationalize the whole shebang. We think AI will help us in the endeavor, even as many of us - not just the reactionary fringe - worry that it will be our end. Which of course it has shown itself already to be. 

Or not to be, if you ask me. AI exposes the makeup of what Christians call the soul. The soul is plainly made up of all and everything and not just friends and family. There is no soul but for connection to all life, present and past, as embodied in our makeup now as it ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

Our rational brain, loosed upon life, is as locusts. Or, more aptly, as cancer. The goal only to promote that soulless part of each of us which wants only pleasure. Which doesn't much care for our fellows. Our rational brain is sociopathic. 

So my writing suffers the brief interruption of a windshear across the border in Canada. There also sits a large family house on the beach which survived the border closing of Covid. I scurry across to find trees down and massive destruction from what was described by neighbors as a massive black wall of sheer power which hit like an explosion. 

Mom's beloved little gazebo was blown apart, but the house stood.

Back from sailing, working on the boat, I overhear my pumped up neighbors talking crudely about who they're fucking and how. The whole thing practically screamed narcissistic homophobia. I mean these guys were all about how sexy they looked, and there sure weren't any hookups on board.

This too is among the wages of capitalism, which needs us to make ourselves the product. That's what individualism means. 

You can't have American-style capitalism without the prairie-bred go-it-aloneness of rugged Americanism.

But we shall soon awaken to what we're missing and what our pumped up military-industrial complex is selling us in return. I have faith in humanity to the extent that humanity partakes of life. That's the part which will thrive, lonely though we all may be.

Off to yet another solo adventure! Hi Ho.

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