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So I made this joke (which you should NOT READ if you dislike SPOILERS of any kind and are really good at codebreaking. And haven't read the 6th Harry Potter book. And intend to. And somehow managed to get this far without the ending getting spoiled anyway by the various internet trolls who take sick pleasure in the dismay of strangers): and yea, it did please me as excessively nerdy and pleasantly obscure.
Little throwaway crap.
But it does have another purpose: I intend it to be the last pointless comment I make on the internet. Go ahead and scoff. No, seriously, it's scoffworthy. But no: certainly I've little doubt that it will not be the last piece of text detritus I leave cluttering up the infosphere that will be found to be without point to many who read it. Rather, this:
Well, it started a long time ago. I'm a text addict and so the internet to me is like a cocaine powdered donut with a little television stuffed in the hole. So the other day I happened across this guy...
Now the guy himself is a little bit boringly controversial I guess, which I wouldn't expect to last. But anyway, I did think his tagline was good:
"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet."
I dunno if I am or will ever be a good writer. About, oh, 4 years ago I gave up on the (handwritten print) journal I'd kept for about 15 years, almost daily for nearly a decade of that, thousands upon thousands of virtually illegible pages, one day as I was getting towards the last pages of a book I thought (not for the first time) "why am I writing this?" and having no compelling answer, stopped.
My experience in the years that followed convinced me that I'd never stop being a writer, in the sense of being a person who regularly generated text, whether I liked it or not. And generally I do like it, although like (I imagine - or perhaps just selfishly hope -) probably everybody who has spilled a lot of text on thee olde internette, I've embarassed myself, one way or another, more times that I'd probably like by posting with haste and repenting at leisure. I've started this, started that, quit this, quit that, but I keep on writing, and generally, yeah, I like doing it and even like what I do.
But I guess I don't like the fact that I do it all for free and then dwell on how I would like to be paid to do it and whether I ever might be and what I might need to do to find out if I might ever be and whether I've got it in me to work that hard and with that much intent and dedication and what my actual chances might be if I did those things and how dissapointed I would be if I did everything I possibly could and worked that hard for that long and then failed anyway, and whether I should just focus on some wretched boring practical thing like I've been doing the last decade for money and take it for as much money as I could manage. Or try to find some less wretched but more practical thing I could work up to, get a graduate degree or something.
You get the point. Typical post collegiate pre-middle age angst for the chronic underacheiver.
Things changed, though, when my son was born ten weeks early and after a fifty day stay in the hospital my wife and I decided that we wanted someone to stay at home with him for at least the first two or three years - and since she made more than 30% more than me the choice was fairly obvious.
Now, being a stay-at-home father and homemaker is not a ticket to unlimited free time (so very much not a ticket to unlimited free time) but it does offer a certain amount of flexibility as well as being distinctly more soul-affirming than any of my past day-jobs in a way that makes it easier to work in my free time.
So I decided: for this time I will try to figure out if I can make a living writing. I'm not a kid and I'm not too much of an egoist so I know this is a dream a lot of people have and very few people attain. Pure text (books, short stories, essays and journalism) is a small small market with a huge amount of competition.
But I have this time when I don't have to struggle as much with the idea that I'm being self-indulgent for not having a regular job (I struggle with whether I should be pursuing more practical work-at-home options - going from D.I.N.K. to S.I.O.K. sucks, not to put too fine a point on it) and so okay, I'm working on it. It isn't easy. I haven't had to really work for a specific level of quality in writing since college. Ten years of email the internet have turned me into a lazy writer, ten years of business writing in office jobs have taken their toll on my access to spontaneity, imagination and boldness.
And then there's the fucking internet.
Suddenly all this nattering in forums and such has taken on a different character. If I'm going to be spending time sitting on my ass typing I can't afford to be doing it throwing my putative pearls before all y'all swine, with due apologies.
And if I'm going to be appearing on the internet, I better be doing everything I can to make every appearance an opportunity for shameless self-promotion.
That's all. So while I figure out what I'm doing and how I might promote myself, it seemed that it was time to put a moratorium on posting everywhere but my own spots. So that dumb throwaway joke was the last post on thees thee phree inphospheere and when I come back I'm going to have some serious ulterior motives. It's all about me, now, goddamnit.
This being said: let's review that last post now. This is some serious shit, last post and everything, a turgid drama of one man determined to chase his dream, run it to the ground, and beat the living shit out of it.
After I conceived and wrote the joke I wondered:
1. Will this be moderated
I could see a case for all three.
2. Will it be moderated out of relative existence, never to be seen again?
3. If not, will some dumbass take me to task for the pseudospoiler? Okay, sort of a longshot, but man, after ten years on the internets you never know. If it happens, I have to remember, MUST NOT RESPOND.
'Cause of the last post thing. Thing.
4. Will ANYONE see it and make the appropriate response?
It's okay, you don't have to guess, I think it's been long enough now, so here's the assessment. The last post thing assessment. Jesus I'm a dumbass sometimes. But hey. I gotta be me.
2. Pretty Much.
3. No. I should have more faith in you people. 4. No, damnit. The appropriate response is:
Comment: You bitch!
It mighta happened if you bastards had moderated it Funny.
I thought it was funny.
Bang those cymbals, monkeys
The three thousand gods and the thousands religions that serve them, the neoconservatives, the deep ecologists, the panarmaggedonists, the pole shift watchers, the alien presence seekers, the the illuminati hunters, the kung fu masters, the cthonic interpreters, the anubian appraisers, oh Lord, the eight thousand lights lining the path of illusion.
Everybody has an answer but me. See it, day in, day out, and okay, looking at what I've had to say, over the years, I have to admit that appearances can be deceiving. It certainly LOOKS as if I believe I have an answer. But I don't, honestly. Have and answer OR believe I do.
Liste: I have experienced the obsession with the number Five, I know how one becomes enmeshed in these "Unification Theories." I have studied science and Scripture, I still study science and I still study scripture. But I don't have an answer.
I don't have an answer for politics. You wanna know the secret of politics? It's so easy to point at what's wrong. 99.997 percent of the work of the politician is establishing a connection between your opponent and the wrong thing you are pointing at. The other
Bold pronouncements, bah, and who cares, in the end. The internet has made it far too easy to slop words into the world, but I rest content in the relative obscurity, the faith that they will remain, in the main, unread.
Further, desponent sayeth not
bah. go try and give something away, someone comes along and thinks they should keep it for themselves. so the password is changed again. I expected creative trashing, at least. I guess it will just have to rot.
Step 3: Exterminate All Rational Thought
final post. gotta unplug. no-one should care, please, i insist. there is no conversation occuring in this place or any of the places like it. there is no learning, no discourse, no dialogue. i meet crazy people, what's the use of that. more time spent thinking about the unanswerable verities, the pole shift disaster, the ontology of existentialist pagan post-constructionism, or whatever the hell. generating words. words don't feed the kitten, however.
the username is nanojath. the password is balustrade. the day is today, the time is now. i know that i've been here before. that's the point.
It always comes as a surprise that anyone reads any of this... and more of a surprise when it elicits response. And that makes me feel like I should say something more on the subject, and then things get complicated. It's easy enough to complain... so much easier than coming up with anything truly constructive. Which was my point in the first place, and I don't feel any closer to a solution.
The thing is, I'm much like anyone else, or so I suppose. I have a whole lot of beliefs and opinions, and yet I also have the whole history of my personal behavior, and I certainly can't claim an uninterrupted history of practicing what I preach. And consequently, when I preach, I'm open to criticism... and even if the critics don't know me, within myself I'm cognizant of all of the ways in which I do not measure up to the ideals I am expounding. This makes me defensive, and my inclination is to go into attack mode. Fend off the barbarians, preserve myself from cognitive dissonance. But better is required of me. We can all ride our private hobby-horses until the cows come home, and at the end of the day, nothing is accomplished, nobody learns a single thing, and all you have is another few thousand pages of the magic monkey typing project, and it sure ain't Hamlet.
I wrote my most recent journal save this one ("Why the hell do I bother") in a state of frustration. The root of the frustration is that it seems to be so easy to identify problems and to attract affirmation for the identification of these problems and yet so difficult to actively promote actual solutions for these problems. Case in point: go to Slashdot, read and article about yet another questionable application of the DMCA. In the comments somebody asks, why do things suck so much? And I respond: basically saying, money and power, the way things run. And the comment is modded up to 5 insightful, and I get a little shot of pride, ooh, look how smart I am with the affirmation of my peers. And then I think, SFW? What difference does it make? I moderate from time to time, surf over the surface and say, oh, yeah, that's well stated, that's true, or that's stupid, that doesn't add anything to the discussion. And click and click and click and hopefully nobody is getting too much of their personal affirmation from any of this because the process is pretty random. It involves no particular effort on my part and therefore its significance, in the big picture view of things, is pretty suspect. If you're looking to change the world, kid, this is probably not the forum you need to be exerting yourself in.
One person said, well, we just have it too good to exert ourselves to fix things, to make things better, to approach some ideal. It's a compelling viewpoint, but a depressing one, the idea that we denizens of the industrialized world are basically stalled somewhere on the third or fourth step up Maslow's hierarchy, our sustenance needs supplied (judging by the fat around my gut, oversupplied), free to dawdle endlessly around the search for love and esteem. Build up my Slashdot Karma, look, I'm insightful. Look, I'm interesting. It says something about terrorism, perhaps: among the needs that Maslow identified, the one that is most open to attack is safety, or anyway the perception of safety. And it also makes me think of the world of advertising, how so much of it is fueled by, at its root, personal attack, implicit or explicit... you're fat, your skin isn't clear, you've got lumpy cellulite, your wife can't understand you on your rotten cell phone. The other men in the gym will ridicule you for your wimpy mini-van, better get yourself an SUV. Maybe collectively we are choosing to stall ourselves, experiencing attacks on our esteem, on the possibility of being loved, to avoid the terra incognita of self-actualization. And thus the world does not change. Maybe I need to pull the beam out of my eye before I help my brother get the speck out of his own.
Some people did not like what I had to say. Probably the most insightful response from my point of view was the individual who said, "the response you received was completely appropriate to the effort you put into your posts." Touché, Dohdamit, you're certainly on to something there.
But I find most interesting the response of an anonymous visitor...
Your journal entry puts a negative light on the average state of the avaerage role that average poeple play? If your so far above average, then recognise that we are not, and leave us alone. Don't try to motivate us to change our world. We have proven that we don't want to. We are so appithetic that nothing your going to say makes a difference.
Because we are who we are, and when you try to say that you don't like the way we are, doen't mean that we are not going to continue being what we are. It only serves to make us think less of ourselves.... And you have no right to do that.
So it's your journal, you can type what you want, but don't try to pass the "I just want to give up" crap onto us. We don't care. We don't need you... So yeah give up, and then shut up.
You may have a point there, mister or miss anonym, but I put this to you: why bother to respond at all? I don't expect anyone to care, honestly, and I certainly don't think that anybody on Slashdot "needs" me. But it is something, to actually go into a person's journal and read what they have to say and go so far as to type a fairly lengthy response, and given the dismissive nature of that response, it piques my curiosity. It only serves to make us think less of ourselves.... And you have no right to do that. Perhaps part of my goal, some of the time, is to make people think less of themselves. Certainly I've outright attacked specific individuals in my worse moments. When this has been my intention, I can only say that I am manifestly part of the problem. But the reality is that nobody can make a person feel less of themselves unless they are an active participant in the exchange. Could it be, dear Anonym, that I struck a nerve after all? That you too feel the pressure, the longing, the desire to be able to act in some more effective way in this world, to right some of the wrongs that are so manifestly present all around us? If so, I do not apologize. Do I have a "right" to say what I say? As much of a right as anyone to say anything, I guess. If I call others out while refusing to shoulder my rightful chunk of the blame, there will always be people like DohDamit to take me rightly to task. But I think you do care, and in the end your apparent anger at me is not because I'm trying to make you think less of yourself, but because I remind you that you care. So maybe there is a point, after all. I don't have the answers. I understand the world is complicated. But I'm not going to stop pointing out the questions, and I'm not going to stop feeling, and expressing, that the answers are serious.
You know, almost every time I go off on one of my tirades about our critically imbalanced, for-hire "democratic" system of government in the USA I get modded way up (most recent example - http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=60787&cid=5730858) indicating that a lot of people feel the same way. But so what? I mean, how many people would even bother to go to the laughable work of pasting the above link in to check the actual comment this journal refers to? We are the society of the ultra lazy, or perhaps just terminally pragmatic, and we won't lift a finger unless the payoff is either guaranteed or, if uncertain, ridiculously large. I can go off all I want about how the political system is a ponzi scheme, where the house, representing the status quo, always wins in the end. But start a discussion about gun control, abortion or global warming and you will get your basic jingo canned responses. Left right left right. Why not give up? Why not go mad?
Is a third side possible? What I'm struck by more and more often is that the general tone, theme, apparent goal of advocacy, whatever its political or ideological flavor, seems to be all the same. Bombast, rhetoric apparently chosen for flair rather than veracity, relating to the opposing viewpoint only through making a charicature or straw man of it, through ridicule or attack.
The confidence that people who are clearly no smarter or better informed than me have in their beliefs about exceptionally complicated topics alarms me. I certainly relate more personally to certain ideologies - a particular side of the political spectrum, certain religious and spiritual contexts, and so on. But more and more I find myself exceptionally reluctant to embrace or identify with these sides of things. The advocates seem far, far too sure of themselves. I'm not exactly happy with my own confusion and uncertainty, but it is honest, or at least more honest.
Is there any escape from getting pulled into acting on behalf of one side or the other, indeed can the viewpoint of uncertainty, being truly open to changing or developing opinions based on developing information, can this stance ever have traction in a world where the structures of power have so finely developed the we're-right/they're wrong approach?
Chorus: Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horror?
Cassandra: The house reeks of death and dripping blood.
Chorus: How so? 'Tis but the odor of the altar sacrifice.
Cassandra: The stench is like a breath from the tomb.
What now. Whatever it might be it seems it comes without reward or at least the kind of reward I want now. And what's later? Later doesn't exist so if it isn't now then it isn't and so it seems reasonable to ask, what's in it for me? In an immediate, gratification sense. And how is it that all the live in the moment stuff I get stuffed down my throat takes a holiday in this wretched world of self improvement. And yet here I am. So many have said so and yet here I am. Killing. Seven. Minutes. More. Then turn over a new leaf right? Promise promise this time is different, this is not like all the others. All the thousands of others. Not like school, that one quarter,,, or those 12 other quarters. Not like that crazy Institute job no. Not like Quorum, where at least there was a simple quota and one hundred percent justification. Not like the temps, all the temps, but at least they didn't care. Not like Pee... Are... Eye... No nothing at all like that. At least before I seemed to have a fairly steady supply of kind, now I got nothing and I am so tired of it all. Sick of the sickness sick of the sickness sick of the sickness sick of the sickness. It's fun to go back in time and be sick of things you've been sick of a thousand other times before. It's fun to fast forward 31 years into the future and feel like you've spent ten years learning nothing, quite possibly unlearning things you learned earlier in life. And now let us recall the stages of grief:
The first stage is denial
Next comes anger or resentment
The third stage is bargaining
The fourth stage is depression
Finally comes acceptance
And a minute past so to hell with you all. Grief my ass.
Yeah, kiddies, campers, neighbors, Romans, bugs, allay'all, I believe then that sums it up. I believe that there is little else to say. Yes, dear me yes, I believe that we can just leave it at that.
I know I've got a penchant for the time to just lay it down, for once and for all - we're fucked. People are usually idiots in the individual case and reliably idiots in the collective. Our brains evolved but not fast enough. We're not capable of reliable, collective cognition on the social and historical scale.
Case in point: the Middle East. Anyone with a brain can look at this situation and say, obviously Israel is not going to go away. They are entrenched, wealthy, and well-armed. Anyone can look at this situation and say, Israel has a problem. They are surrounded by nations that feel some degree of historical, racial, and ideological kinship. They are in a violent, extended conflict with a group of people that share that kinship. Clearly, a hard-line, isolationist, expansionist stance is essentially a guarantee of continued conflict. It's fairly obvious that the Jews is not going to forget that their Arab enemies sought to push them into the sea by military force. They will forever view their victory against this attack as entirely sufficient justification of their state and their expansion. Neither are they going to forget the tactics of their opponents now. The use of bombing civilian targets as a lynchpin of resistance insures that Palestine will be viewed as an untrustworthy, barbaric and terrorist enemy, and it is not worthwhile to bargain with untrustworthy, barbaric terrorists. Meanwhile, Israel justifies every egregious offense against human liberty and dignity it commits against the Palestinians on the basis of these actions, and the Palestinians justify their actions on the basis of these offenses.
A side note? Nobody ever responds to my journals anyway but in the event you do, please don't bother whipping up an argument against one or the other of these sides. My point is that it is the basic concept of the sides themselves, and the belief that the supposed existence of either side can possibly justify the unjustifiable actions of BOTH sides, that is wrong. But the proponents of the sides will never, ever see it this way. So, you've got racism, religious conflict, a dozen different shades of nationalism, an extremely valuable commodity, a history of hateful and violent acts, nuclear weapons, all rolled up in one context. What is the possibility of resolving this context to a peaceful equilibrium? It is ZERO, okay? Zero. Zero. Zero.
Do you know why we keep getting these terror alerts over and over and over again here in the good old US of A? Because a whole buncha ambitious guys jumped at the brass ring of political power and then suddenly realized that when another (yeah, that's a when, not an if, just like the crashing of the WTC was another, not a first - on the same property by the same people, so let's stop acting so damn surprised) horrible action goes off, they were going to get blamed. Of course, they're screwed either way. Now when it happens, the inevitable lapses of security that allow it (which are all caused, at core, by the inevitable reality that human beings are lazy and completely hypnotized by the habitual repetition of anything) will be blamed on the "boy who cried wolf" syndrome. Believe me, this phrase will be invoked when the time comes.
So they have a warning because the basic reality is that, the reason terrorism works is because it is very, very difficult to stop. It is based on the unexpected capitalization on the mundane context. Everybody knew out of control planes were dangerous. Everybody knew planes got hijacked. Everybody knew hijacked planes were out of the control of the people we trust to keep planes safe.
What are the chances of avoiding another terrorist attack? ZERO. What are the chances of avoiding a nuclear detonation in the first post nuclear century? ZERO. What are the chances that we will slow rather than accelerate the world-wide trends that are leading into ecological disaster? ZERO.
It isn't about the sides. It's about power, and manipulation, and human nature, and the basic perversity of matter: it is SO much easier to create chaos than to create order. Think about what it took to turn those twin towers into a pile of smoking rubble. Then think about what it takes to build a building, an airplane, think about what it takes to bring three thousand people into this world, to feed and clothe and educate them. That's reality. I've given up on a happy ending, it's fairly clear that God is not THAT kind of director. Not in this world, anyway. And that's all, my friends. That is all.
This information dissemination thing is being a case study in the general failure of communication. Well, I should get right down to it and say my general failure of communication. I haven't exactly been tearing the world apart, I just tried to write a provocative project description and point several dozen people and likely sites at it. The silence has been deafening.
Too derivative? Too obscure? Who knows? Is it really true that to get anything done in this world you have no choice but to dance for the moneymen or else hitch a ride on some kinda meme infection? If so, is it ever possible to get any kind of collective agency going on this information supertrafficjam?
Listen: I am fully willing to accept my own complicity in all this, my own personal failure. But on the other hand I begin to wonder if I am not personally experiencing some aspect of the fact that for all the apparent conversation going on on the internet, I'm still as alone in the crowd as I've ever been. Ah well, the work must go on...
So, today (and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow) is all about promoting the M.A.P.S. project. I'm waiting for the pile of scorn but I'm a lot more concerned about the pile of silence from everybody ignoring me... but that's the internet.
So, what is a M.A.P.S. project? well, the site definition (http://www.kingdomcomeinstitute.com/) is "a conceptual exploration of alternative models for the distribution of music and methods for promoting the realization of these models."
In short, it's about the fact that the business of music is broken. The conventional industry is publishing less artists, carrying on a long tradition of treating the artists they represent like the lowest sort of wage servants, overcharging us for their products, working actively to break more efficient alternatives of distribution, they are price fixing, engaging in legal payola. Everyone knows these things, they are not the subject of dispute.
Unfortunately, the question that is getting framed is whether the industry should be trying to control file sharing and whether file sharing is actually bad for the industry. I think this is not only missing the point but actually counterproductive. The industry as it exists, the corporations that control the production and distribution of the majority of the product and control the majority of the conduits, is rotten. Although I do not share files of copyrighted materials, I say that if this activity is not harming the industry that is too bad.
What I want is to see these technologies harnessed to let artists and their fans take control of music and use the intrinsic efficiencies of the digital paradigm to increase value for the only people who matter: the people that make music, facilitate the making of music, and the patrons of music.
There are five basic themes I express on the explanation on my site. I believe that every one of these themes is solid and that collectively they scream out for change to come and come now. It's time to stop asking how to get the big bully on the playground to let us play ball with him and start getting our own game together. It's time to stop screwing around and start participating. I stopped buying music from "Them." The final, biggest lie of the industry is that music is gold and they've got the keys to the mine. Good music is everywhere, waiting for us to be creative enough to unleash it. So stay tuned and please feel free to write.
Ever quit something, and be happy with that, and then start again, and be happy with that, and then quit again, and start to wonder what the hell it is you really want? Form. Text seems to be evolving like some kind of microbe in this day and age, and here I am, adding to the confusion with whatever nonsense bubbles out of the top of my head. But some kind of statement, even one that may never be read by anyone (except perhaps the Big Computer, by and by) seemed germane. And that is all