Sunday, July 12, 2009

Choice and Hope (Sunday 15)

All life, at least all intelligent life, is wrapped in a conflict between two continuua.

The first continuum concerns the choices we make. Choices come in three flavors: A choice between that which we want to do and that which we do not, a choice between things we want to do, and a choice between things we do not want to do. As we get older, we will naturally experience more of category three and less of category one.

The strange thing about these choices is: they do not always correspond to the benefits they provide. A choice between many things we want decreases our overall happiness with the outcome regardless of what that outcome is. A choice between two things we don't want is a slavery, and if the choice was presented because of a choice we made earlier, then it is a self-induced slavery. We had better hope that the time we spend resolving the effects of those choices is worth the benefit of getting ourselves in that situation, because otherwise we've made a stupid decision. There are worse things in life, and stupid decisions have resulted in some of the most spectacularly positive discoveries in modern history. But mostly they just suck and we feel stupid for making them. Also, being stuck in a decision between two things we don't like tends to beget other decisions between two things we don't like. That's called stress. The wages of stress is death.

The other continuum has to do with vitality. The tension caused by hope, the desire to strive, to prepare for some future benefit not guaranteed, but anticipated, is the source of personal vitality. If we aim our goals low, we will find we aim yet lower every day. For some the decision to get out of bed in the morning weighs as heavily as matters of Solomon. For those aiming for the stars, they may not reach them but they certainly go further.

There is no limit to how much good we can do. A surgeon working tirelessly may save two or three lives a week for fifty years, netting him 5000 lives saved. That same surgeon may develop a technique that saves many more lives, or learn something important about disease and injury that saves even more lives. But we have to make choices that get us to a position of helping people rather than being helped by people, and we have to have enough personal vitality to make the maxium difference.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleeptalking (Sunday 13)

My new dictation system allows me to record what I say in my sleep. It even adds periods and commas. I've cut out the vast majority of the garbage from my sleep/edge of sleep session, and left these few semi-intelligible gems. Enjoy.

The year was 1850; I remember it as the first year I was allowed to ride a horse in town by myself. Things being the way they were America that time moves from Chile. Very little urban society, we got most of our news from the neighbors. And mostly it was about the neighbors pa would sometimes say a thing or two about friends. Who knew about was going on, the New World. But for the most fondly kept to ourselves that dirt-road town. Unless third visits down. I had my first homosexual encounter with the bartender named Smith, a man three times my age. Good year, 1850.

When I was seven my mother gave me two toothless chickens raise all by myself was feeding the money about how to run around in my nightfall. Make sure they don't get in trouble being decrepit and flightless birds for the most part. It wasn't much challenge keeping them in line. On the contrary, I found the caretaking of these animals to be most agreeable to myself.

My best friend for what I have school was a melancholy fellow who used to call piano Jim. Jim Was a couple years too old to be in a great, be a little slow. Not much of a talker it was often assumed he was quite ignorant. And so he been held back a couple years. He never talked much and when he did he talk with real quiet. But I tell you I never met anybody thought so much as Jim. He always got right to the heart of the matter at hand. Seemed to always know how things would play out, always able to guess how somebody in the class would react. He knew everybody in that room better than they knew themselves, and everybody there thought he was an idiot. I found him to be a dear friend -- enthusiastic, charming, as ready as any for adventure in the stolen minutes while we were supposed to be walking home from school. An eye for an eye, a heart for a heart. So his heart was mine, and mine was his, and we both lost our virginity to the bartender Smith. That was piano Jim.

When I was 17, I decided to volunteer for the Army. At the time, the government was weak and didn't have much of a treasury. So it was more of a volunteering position than a career or profession, and my parents were very disappointed that I had chosen such a foolhardy path. How could I go off to fight and die When I had yet to take a wife who had given them any grandchildren?

how could they know that I would never give them grandchildren? Do I move on loan loan loan loan lowest the honeymoon when I will go no no no no no no no no no no he can be mean he he he he he will now tell you. I use those little i.e., I know you are, as they should be giving way to make me lose my healing love you buddy. Others who I am 80 dead in, and that's a little foot slope unless I am a care in testing reasons for doing fireworks. Taking your time to stay in fifth grade fabric class and atmosphere me in my set for traveling five at giant waste to curl in my car chase on a shining it in cold and beautiful and wise. Everyone rolling in my twisted row wheel mobile. Things like this now puts tech in the firecracker control, and it's how race is Lemke power if he fished with rolling in special ways taking my special socks off chip like to care rolling knife in her yes. Yes! We've given ourselves lightly away to the red and green monkey see monkey do mother factor doesn't give you any greater clarity to this rolling greens are calling shiny metal

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eternity of Markov (Sunday 12)

I ran my own poem eternity of music through a markov chainer. I think these 2 cantos, computer generated, are better than my original work.


Canto 1

When the lights less bright, and until the dusk came
there was no brightness in the sky
eyes glinting fire jumped out
snatched up by the heart cries aloud the movement of my own cleverness
even if it
was before the omen of times
drinking the blood
every time you breathe
that is enough to enjoy yourself

the opening of the world, and unaware of the field,
Now the queen, "Now I am Achilles,
come from the orange lagoon"
and there is no twisting lady on a weary summer night
to gaze upon life's great offering, or
find sleep inside the tube.
we are the proud souls, the watchful souls,
that foolish try to bounce up into the energy commons;
empty plots of land
dropping sand blasting achievement.

We murk in the world below us.
and the breaking of the carvings
that make this world wonderful.
I am not without spontaneous
Nor without moments
in which we lose ourselves.
Wherein the meaning comes breaking in
from the list of one's fetlocks,
anticipation of whistle Karaoke street defense.

Canto 2
And snowed in the world,
free and clear, imitating the art made
by the eastern docks
cockfight empty wallet feeling
pier twisting dumped out
the screws in the garden.
you, in love's green garden
shall mute the signs and wonders
from the country's substitute homeless.
Wake of the moment,
afraid of the windy war-hood.

cease to become haunted.
No wonder we are found
by the fireside anachronistic chats,
stored it a focus and primation of our wailing heart
into the sky at the gate.
if our brothers tell us; we cannot admit
the cause of our chances

Where we died so many before me,
we which could not harm the angel,
despite their rough treatment of her.
in the night, there is no king wherewith to feed me
but I know those things of matter,
and the ocean.
We are not ready to expand, comfort
in the shame of a private heart
the world's running caper

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grammarian Run (Sunday 11)

Someone should do a zipfian analysis of a dictionary, and see what ratio of words are only used once; in their own definitions. If they are never used again, one can safely eliminate them from the language, as they won't affect the rest.

Of all the homonyms, the affect/effect one is the most cruel. To say them both uh-ffect, with the schwa in front, is a horrible, horrible way to let your sensibilities die. Aaa-ffect and eee-ffect are the only way this is ever going to work.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gregory Peck and Martin Sheen (Sunday 10)

Martin had a dull imagination. While his siblings played "bears" or "duck the window-sneak", David would sit alone by the pond, pushing little curls of earth around with a stick.

"Rarr! I'm the bear! You have to run!"

Out of the woods came his youngest sibling Gregory. She was tall for her age, but willow-thin, with shapeless joints masked by bespreckled flesh.

"You aren't a bear. Now, a bear I'd run from. You I just observe mutely until you get bored and leave."

"Listen to you! 'You ain' a bar.' You sound like a hick, playing dumb like that. Don't be so common." For seven, Gregory had a fluid melody to her voice that caught you off guard.

"I know you're trying to hurt my feelings," Martin began, "but it won't work as I haven't any." Martin retained the inhuman smile on his face. "And speaking of insults, now who's being common?"

"Now you're being impossible." Gregory scowled. She turned away from Martin, but kept him in the corner of her eye.

Grinning now, a very human grin, Martin roared like a lion and charged toward Gregory, his arms outstretched. "Rarr! I'm a lion! I EAT bears for breakfast!"

Gregory squealed and ran in mock terror, giggling all the way. Martin caught up with her quickly and, scooping her up, placed her on his shoulders. Together they ran through the woods, howling and growling at everything they could see, pointing out shapes as they ran past that looked like wolves or dogs and screeching at them in all directions.

All directions, including the direction that ends this story.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Death of words (Sunday Essay 9)

I had a large backlog of these essays, I figure i'll put them here in case i want to see them again.


I think the world is done with the written word as entertainment.

Do not mistake me as saying fiction is dead. Fiction is not dead. As instruction, it remains. As a way to pass the time, it remains. But the days are soon over when someone will say, "of the many entertainments available to me, I choose THIS BOOK for the next 12-25 hours." I think we are the last generation that will think that.

So I'm writing to an audience destined to forever shrink, in a market already oversaturated with talent.

Historians will say of this time, "that's when the moving picture replaced the written word." And it's true. It hasn't stuck around because it liquefies our brains. It has become the dominant method of entertainment because emotionally it resonates more directly with the audience. And so much film appeals to baser desires, because these can be sold easily to the public to lift their moods and therefore recommend the film positively to their friends, while allowing directors working on the intellectual cheap to skip some of the more difficult elements of filmmaking. But to say film is less 'deep' than a book is moronic; the poignancy of real images filmed and conjured by real artists, even incompetent ones, are worlds more instructive than the code-words produced by a bumbling man in a shack.

Even the most cheap commercial trash has more depth, ounce for ounce, than the most sublime book ever could; the ability to focus on images as they move and change, allowing the photographed reality to become our reality for a season, these events are not to be taken for granted; they are what books try and fail to demonstrate.

Watching a man vomit makes us queasy; reading about it doesn't. It may make us uncomfortable, but it won't make the bile rise up our throat.

So, let's enjoy the subtle pleasures of a book while we can. We have been predicting the death of the book for generations and always been wrong. I don't think this is an abandonment of the prevarications of literature, just a reduction in standing of the novel versus the financial and critical success of film. And that IS something we've seen. As the number of readers grows, the number of writers grows. Which means the truly great are lost in a sea of unimaginative stinkers. Like a flower choked down by weeds, but not quite dead.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The End

I have learned what I set out to learn from the blog. Now it is learned and done. The end.