There are few noises at this hour. A car passes in the distance. The house creaks. The furnace starts. I have not heard a dog bark in hours.
…”It is really annoying when people, particularly those in positions of power, can’t even be bothered to take the trouble to lie well.” — Yves Smith.
…To oppress a mother is to oppress a democracy, for it is mothers who teach the value of democracy to their children.
…It seems what’s happening in Wisconsin is part of the class war in America that’s been going on for sometime now. As Warren Buffett pointed out, the war was begun by members of his class, and his class is winning it.
Unfortunately, if rich billionaires like the Koch brothers win the Wisconsin round in the class war, that means they will have managed to break the Wisconsin public service unions. And if they manage to do that, then the Democratic party will be left as nothing more than a paper man in that state.
…The other day, I noticed an advertisement that claimed the Bible was, of all the world’s wisdom literature, the most profound. Now, I’ve heard that claim made before in various ways and places. But, I confess, I have never understood why anyone would make that claim.
As wisdom literature, the Bible seems to have been often surpassed. And not just by many of the ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, or Chinese authors. But also by more modern authors.
To give some of the Biblical authors credit, though, their concern for social, political, and economic justice was remarkable for their time, and — thankfully — very influential on the West.
…There seems to be a sense in which almost all complex, hierarchical societies — even going as far back as to the origin of complex, hierarchical societies some 5,500 years ago — have been scams. Moreover, it’s been the same scam perpetrated again and again. And, in essence, that scam has been to fool the masses into believing the society’s elites have the backing of a supernatural order.
…There are many people in this god-drunk town who cast their blurry vision on science and declare that it, too, is a religion. The last drunk to tell me that declared, as his reasoning, “Religions are based on beliefs. Science is based on beliefs. Therefore, science is a religion.”
By precisely the same “logic”, “Cats are furry. Dogs are furry. Therefore, dogs are cats.”
But, even if his reasoning was logically valid — which it is not, unless dogs are cats — what would not then become a religion? Indeed, even one’s overwhelming desire to take a shower after hearing him espouse his drunken “logic” would, according to his drunken “logic”, become a religious act.
Just now, a motorcycle started up, then sped off. In the day, it would be just another cycle. But in the night, it seems a story in itself.
…Humans are natural born cartographers. We make maps of the world, which we call “beliefs”. It’s what our species does.
Sometimes, our maps are more or less accurate. And sometimes, they are fantasy maps, like the ones we made as children to show where a pirate’s treasure lay buried in our backyard.
The accuracy of our maps often matters less to us than the fact they are ours. Because, for most of us, our maps are something we think of as us.
Now, when we fall in love, she sooner or later challenges our maps…
And, if our love survives those challenges, there’s a chance that our love is true.
…Tonight, I came across in a faded notebook a line from a poem I once wrote to a woman: “No one has made me wish / To face with grace the challenge / of her morning breath like you, Joelle.” And consequently, reading that line, I had a sudden and abrupt realization of precisely how it is that I have managed all these years to remain celibate despite the occasional woman who’s now and then been interested enough in me to even read my poems.
…Once I saw a Seven-Eleven that was closed. Locked up and abandoned.
Since everything inside the impossibly dark store windows was in place and intact, I eventually concluded it must be a clerk who didn’t show up for work. But I at first thought: “Not even a president’s death can close a Seven-Eleven. It must be something. It must be big.”
Perhaps there is inside all of us a thing — a strange, hard thing — that now and then longs for an event so big it will close even the world’s Seven-Elevens.
…When I met Becky she was in her 30s and would now and then do something completely spontaneous: Always some little thing, but it was an attractive quality. Even in a city, birds from a branch put to air like her. So, though they live like the rest of us amongst the concrete and noise, you can see how those birds are beyond the artificial world we have created for them — how they are still native to the earth and sky. Some people are like that.
…So far, I have found only three things with power to redeem the human condition: Love, work, and play. And of those three, love is the greatest.
…Brett called to invite me to lunch the other day (Brett was 15 the year we first met at the coffee shop. I was perhaps 40 or 42). So, we met at a tavern where the beer is watery, but the food is good, and I enjoyed talking with him so much the time slipped past on rabbit’s feet.
At some point in the afternoon, after we had exhausted half a dozen topics, Brett said he suspected the reason quite a few kids had hung out with me years ago at the coffee shop was because I was for the most part nonjudgmental.
So I told him that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard from a fellow human, if indeed he was actually human. So, I thanked him for confirming a suspicion I’d had. Then, being an insufferable old fart, I told him a story he’d already heard at least twice from me, and one he probably didn’t want to hear again.
After we had parted for the evening, I reflected on the fact that Brett had certainly been one of the most intelligent people at the coffee shop, and very likely one of the wisest. Yet, it had never been any one thing that led me to those conclusions. Like a stream of gold dust, Brett is someone who stands out from the crowd not for any one big thing, but for the cumulative impression made on you by a thousand glittering details.
…My second wife had a taste for dresses by Ungaro. Is Ungaro still around? That Italian knew how to make a woman wearing silk look like a nude.
…This night, for the first time in ages, I recall once a woman and I spent nearly two years laughing together. No, she was not my wife, but a co-worker. We worked together in the evenings, and we’d spend every moment we could with each other. Then, when I moved on to a day job, I still dropped by her workplace in the evenings to laugh with her.
One day, I invited her out to a movie. But by the time she got to my place, it was too late to catch a show. At a loss for much else to do, I tried nibbling on her ear. Consequently, two years of laughing together led to her having three explosive orgasms: The best in her life, she told me. After that, you might think she’d be happy.
Yet, somehow, by the next day, she had translated everything — all of it — into guilt and regret. “You must think I’m a slut”, she said, “because I slept with you on our first date.”
“No, I feel as if I’ve been courting you for two years”, I said, “Besides I’m in love.”
“Even if you don’t think I’m a slut”, she said, “When I saw you this evening, it made me think of myself as a slut, and then my heart sank to the floor. I can’t see you again.” And she meant it.
It was much later I realized that, despite our rapport, only one of us had been in love.
It is almost dawn.