Missive the Nineteenth
A Ho Hum Dullness
Attends the Good Life.
DATELINE: Tuesday, September 19, 2000, at 2130 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA
By D. Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
CornDancer & Company
Cricket Song's resident critic has read Missive the Nineteenth and contends it is "ho hum." I won't argue. Please don't feel compelled to read any further.
"Then everyone will want to read it to see if it really is dull," the critic said. "You do write well about dullness."
Are you insecure? I am.
I am strong of inner constraint, too, and daring to the point of recklessness.
Sometimes life becomes amazingly good. An obstacle is surmounted, a perplexing issue is resolved, so many consecutive days and nights pass without crisis, agony, or angst. The accrual of so much good pays a bountiful psychic dividend to the humour of a long run of nice days and sweet nights at Cricket Song.
The Disembarkation Is a Just Recompense.
The other side of the doldrums is wonderful when you get there. The passage may not be all that comfortable, but the disembarkation is a just recompense. I've learned to enjoy it when it comes.
Two monitors sit on my desk: one, the 19-inch Trinitron I'm staring at now, displays the symbols of my workday; the other, a little Presario hand-me-down, is attached to CornDancer's server. The low demand for bandwidth and processing power from my little network lets me use the extra juice to display a recycling PowerPoint slide show. I've created it to remind my mind's eye of certain important and trivial things.
The private little show has 208 images now. I add to it every few days. Most of the images are photographs depicting favourite personal motifs: planets and stars, landscapes and cityscapes, movie stars and pop singers, news events, wild animals, flowers and trees, magic, twentieth century paintings, and ancient monuments and structures.
Over these images I've superimposed key words and numbers. Most focus on computer technology. By way of example:
- 1 GB = 2 to the 30th power, written in huge white characters next to Buffy the Vampire Slayer;
- RAID 0, disk striping without parity, not fault tolerant, superimposed in red over a pastoral scene in India;
- NT's 2 Modes (OS Architecture), User and Kernel, written beside the floating menace of an Everglades gator.
You get the idea. It gives me something useful to do when I am tempted to throw industry to the wind and play PC solitaire.
One image I especially like to see dissolve onto the little Presario screen is Slide #12, which features an exhortation from Winston Churchill:
"Never give up.
Never give up.
Never, ever, ever give up."
Shall We Kneel Before a Fascist State?
The text scrolls onto a color photo of a wretched street in Grozny, devastated by Russian artillery and tank attacks. The buildings are shattered hulks, the street a pit of mud and rubble, the urban trees cracked and leafless, the sky overcast with a greenish grey gloom. It is an image devoid of human form, shorn of irony, bespeaking the rising tide of fascist violence against rebel tribes, whose indignant warrior class is not willing to kneel before the centralized state's cloneish concept of order.
We shall see similar scenes, again and again, as Earth marches toward corporate union. Some will erupt in the USA.
I don't want to give up. Who does?
I attempt to retain independence. My friends the Hungarians in their Land of Happy Trees have a phrase to describe the life of the independent man, "Eli az eletet." It translates, quite roughly: "He lives his life."
"Whoever attempts it (independence) enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it in any case, not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience," Nietzsche wrote in Beyond Good and Evil. "Supposing one like that comes to grief, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it nor sympathize. And he cannot go back any longer. Nor can he go back to the pity of men."
I sighed deeply when that passage leapt from the page during a late-night reading on September 12. Loneliness is an ambiguous state where one can lose the way, I suppose. I don't want to come to grief without the sympathy of my fellows.
Nietzsche's warning of the multiple thousand dangers, however, is not enough to stop my intoxicating rush into existential risk.
Life as It Is. Life as It Can Be.
Are you capable of plunging o'er the precipice and into the chasm 'tween life as it is and life as it can be? Will you leap into an unknown darkness of profound possibility, with no guarantee of arriving safely on the other side? Taking the plunge is the only way to get there.
Can you simplify the moment? Many of the sharers I know tell me they want to move toward simplicity. They express a desire to throw off the clutter of so many possessions, end the extreme flow of busyness. They arrive at the late afternoon of life with a newfound desire to cut back, kick back, let the air out.
Can we extend our sympathy to one another?
"Sympathy for others means not only being sensitive, considerate, tolerant, and responsible, but also being aware of the many ways in which existence can be exhilarating; it is therefore a source of optimism," Gerald E. Myers wrote about the philosophy of William James (William James: His Life And Thought, Yale University Press, 1986, p 407). "Identifying with someone else's perspective can be an epiphany in which an event, object, or individual is transformed from something uninteresting into something with exciting new meanings."
James contended that each of us "is blind to the inner lives of others. We are too self-absorbed to appreciate those experiences that make life significant for others."
I don't want to be blind to you. I want the excitement of new meanings. I don't want to be so self-absorbed that I am unable to appreciate your experience. I don't want to be insecure. I am.
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