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Monthly Archives: March 2009

…and I’m thinking. I do that, you know.

I haven’t been on in a while, so sorry ’bout that. I go through these periods when I can’t write. I feel uninspired of late. A little depressed too, but I am not sure quite why.

Uninspired is probably the best term to describe the whole thing. Depressed has such a deeper and more serious ring to it, and I am not depressed. Well, no more so than usual, no more so than one ought to be realizing how empty the world is in general.

Now when I say empty, I don’t mean empty in the hopeless sense, although there is a measure of hopelessness to it. Truly, I mean empty in the classic Buddhist sense. Well Zen anyway. “Open spaces, nothing holy.” Dust in the wind. Fart in a windstorm. Ever actually fart in a windstorm? The bitch is when your nether air blows by you and you’re reminded how stinky you are inside.

Open spaces, nothing holy. No kidding, huh?

Anyway, back to it. Meditation doesn’t seem to help. But ah! Meditation isn’t supposed to help, is it? Meditation is just sitting. Calm. Empty.

Detached! Oh yes… I am a poor detacher. Even in meditation I grasp desperately. The point, though, is to let things flow past. I do, or I used to do, this act much more skillfully than I do now.

I realize this about me, this grasping I do for things, for concepts, for people. To be loved, to be accepted, to be understood and perhaps appreciated. It’s a habit. I mean, the ego is a habit we picked up as babies, isn’t it? The first friend we have, the last barrier to our freedom. I wrote a poem about that, it’s in Roadside Truckstop, still in progress. I need a cover for that…

(note: I panicked for a second, I knew it was in a book, I couldn’t remember which one. Soooo, I just spent a few minutes reading my shit again. I like me.)

Speaking of which, I am turning now to Roadside Truckstop to add some new material and maybe get it a little closer to done.

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The old beatnik cliches are true, you know. So I ain’t breaking new ground here. Nothing new there either. But I digress…

We are all trained from birth to produce and consume by assholes a whole lot more cynical than you’d think. The notion that something outside ourselves will bring us joy or salvation or the answer to Everything (42) is inculated into us from birth. “Give Bobby the toy, he’ll play,” or “If I get that [whatever], it’ll be sweet!” Meaning, of course, I’ll stop thinking about the empty inside, shut up and take another call/order/meeting.

The Beats were right. Ticky-tacky.

So, where’d this rant come from? Well, I happened through Borders Books this morning, as I usually do because, well, baaah. Fuck you.

Anyhoo, I looked through the religious book section, which I do with no little fascination, and wondered as I do at the myriad of ways the shit’s repackaged.

Various cults of personality like Joel Osteen and wife and their similar 3/4 profile denoting the correct amount of sincerity and white teeth. Also books from black personalities packaging Personal Bible Power and Promise with outstretched arms, cornrows and intense eyes.

I get the idea that all these folks are trying to deliver a message that is lost in translation, apparently. I’ve gone on at length about that bull so I’ll leave that there. Read the older entries for that…

Here’s the thing. At the same time these good people are sending out their various takes on the same creaky cross crap, there is another more insidious thing being transmitted by all this. That is that all your answers are in books. Not the answers to 1776 and 1701 and why both are important, of course those are in books, like all dead dry things. Can’t recommend Krishnamurti enough to you all.

The answers to everything are in these little colorful non-pareils with pretty covers and witty angles about how cool church can be, and how rad Jesus is and all that. Or how you too can fit the tao into your busy day.

To quote several favorite comics and other commentators, Fuck!

The Answer, the real one that sends us to church, or drugs, or other meaningless pursuits, is not in a book. Not even in a library or the whole internet. Anyone who tells you they have it may be right or full of shit. Or both.

Blowin’ in the wind? In a manner of speaking, yes. In the Great Outdoors? Probably not, at least not how you might think.

I don’t have the answer. At least not so’s I could tell you. The way that can be described is not the true way.

Ain’t that a bitch? It ain’t on your phone or your iPod either. But it’s right there, I tell you. Right in front of you.

I love you.
So very much.
But I have to not love you
Too much.

Do you understand?
Does this make sense?

Do you know the depth
Of my love?
I am not even sure
How deep
And why.

It’s dangerous
And cuts both ways.
It’s selfless
And so very selfish too.
Unconditional,
But with a list
Attached.

A pool of want and need
And affection and obsession
And desire and disappointment.

It’s all for you
But such a gift
You do not deserve,
I think,
For no one deserves such effusive suffusive
Suffocating subsuming love.

Hey kiddies, sorry I’ve been silent till now. I’ve been in lockdown catching up on Battlestar Galactica in preparation for its final episodes.

See, this is my obsessive self in high gear. I know this because in my fevered dreams (they’re always fevered), I’m trying out different scenarios for how this will end. Truth is, I have no idea, so I must watch. But I’ve found some interesting things in the process.

First, a lot of Canadians in the cast. Even if I didn’t know that already from IMDB, I’d know it pretty quickly from the Canadian accents. Boy oh boy, the way you guys up there pronounce “combat” just hammers the point home!

Second, although it lacks the guiding hand that Babylon 5 had from start to finish, once the writers had an idea of what to do, and where to take the plot, it’s woven very nicely into the stories as they come along. Also, although the plot is helping to rein the story in more and more here at the end, the characters themselves still drive this drama along. It’s clearer now why Gaeta does what he does, and why it’s really inevitable.

**Update: I take that back: Not only are the characters driving the story all the way to the end, they do it with such consistency. Mary McDonnell plays Laura Roslin beautifully, at first idealistic and optimistic, and then with a tinge of cynicism (“I’m going to play the religious card,” she says early on as she makes public the visions she has concerning certain scriptures.) Richard Hatch, Apollo from the original Galactica series, appears as Tom Zarek, who is either a freedom fighter in the manner of Thomas Paine or an opportunist of the first order. He comes in to stir the pot at just the right times to truly complicate things.

Which leads me to Gaius Baltar, who was the hidden threat in the early episodes, matching the character of the old Galactica series. In this show, as time went on, he was as much a victim and a catalyst as he was an instigator. All of it, though, is rooted in the intense self-interest of his character, to the point where you wonder how much of what he does and says later is about being a source of hope and how much is his usual self-aggrandizement.

I am not going out on a limb here when I say that this show represents the best of what Science Fiction is on TV. This is how good it can be. It builds on everything that came before it in terms of story and the tasteful use of special effects and surpasses those sources. The verisimilitude of the characters, the stories, the special effects, the science and the use of it in telling the stories all represent where all Science Fiction on TV should be, and at the same time how far all the others have to go to get there.

Some of the same things were once said about The Watchmen, a comic book series from the late 1980s that’s just been made into a big motion picture. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I read the comic when it came out 20 years ago. It was mind-expanding, and made every comic book that came before it a little bit schlocky. It raised the bar of comics storytelling by an order of magnitude, but the only thing that most books that came after it seemed to take from it was quote-unquote GRITTY REALISM and the need to tell a dark, “human” story. Some were done well, some were just shitty. Alan Moore, the author of The Watchmen, brought this upin the years after The Watchmen was published, and I add it here because this Battlestar Galactica may likely engender the same response from its spiritual progeny.

Galactica will be over soon, and it will be what all televised science fiction is compared to in the future, much like Star Trek was before it. It will be a hard one to top, I’m afraid.