Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Belief System

I believe that if a thing is beautiful and valuable, anyone who wants it should be able to have it.  I believe the default, basic amount of pain that automatically comes with being human is enough to earn what's worth having.  I believe in the inherent good of humanity.  I believe it is easier to be good than to be bad.  I believe in continuing to take people at face value and giving them the benefit of the doubt, no matter how many times or how awfully I've been screwed over.  I believe I should take only what's offered, and give when asked.  I believe I should criticize and celebrate what I am, and pride myself in what I've done.  I believe I owe it to my fellow humans to live as well and for as long as possible.  I believe the four ingredients I need for a happy life are good food, good music, sex, and family.  I believe kindness is not an obligation; it is an inclination.  I believe in original virtue, not just original sin.  I believe in science and magic.  I believe compassion is a mark of true genius, and gentleness, an indicator of true strength.  I believe all living beings are interconnected.  I believe we are our own worst enemies.  I believe in falling in love.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Both Sides Now


Rick hated them, loathed them.  He was not a hypocrite, you see, because though he liked to get fucked up, he still sat in a cubicle playing World of Warcraft all day so he could afford the roof over his head and the pills in his gullet.  No, he was nothing like those boys, those scheming, gold-digging urchins who charmed their way into established gentlemen's beds, all the while devoid of any sense of obligation or gratitude.  How they preyed upon their hosts, who were merely being kind and hospitable!  Rick was offended by them, the opportunistic addict trash.  And if the target of Rick's Archie Bunker, Jr. umbrage was defenseless and unpopular, so much the better.

What a contrast, then, was the attitude of my late friend John.  In his mid-60s he was on his way out due to renal failure.  As the months of agony wore on, John took a moment to lament his less than benevolent role in the lives of those some might consider disposable.  With tears in his eyes, John repented of his "baggy daddy" ways.  It was a source of regret that he had fed at the trough of youth and beauty these hapless, stupid, lost boys would possess for so short a time.  I accepted John's deathbed contrition with my trademark equanimity, at once gently forgiving and sphinx-like, which is so often my wont when others spill their souls to me.

Looking back, I wish Rick and John could have met.  I'm pretty sure one of them would have taught, and one would have learned.  Oh, well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tough Love? Alternative Pop Psychology?

A man once told me that it is morally obligatory to lie to "the addict" (a concept I have yet to hear properly defined...But I digress.)  Perhaps it's a base idea of "addicts lie, so get back at them."  Or perhaps there were pretensions to high-mindedness -- after all, the man advocating deception may have believed truth is too hard-won and therefore too valuable to be squandered on those he characterized as valuing falsehood.

Do I need to spell out the obvious in that case?  The nature of truth is its self-evidence.  It may be hidden only deliberately, or be imperceptible to those not seeking it.  It would seem hard-won only to the stupidest and most destructively delusional among us.  By the way, an addict often is one because of encounters with the truth so traumatic, some narcotic palliative seemed acceptable.  (To be fair, I will concede that in many cases, truths about oneself are the most traumatic.)

It's silly, really.  The man espousing the aforementioned philosphy was rather full of himself and had developed some twisted idea that he was superior to those around him.  His CV was a mile-long list of ERs around the country; doubtless he's a natural sadist with some sort of God complex.  He probably also feels, as a corollary, that free exchanges of truth among those who desire them are a threat to whatever power over others he craves.

Forget I brought it up.

Monday, October 22, 2012

As "Beauty Is a Destroyer"

Love is not a comfort.  Love is a killer and tormentor.  Love murders (albeit in most cases, swiftly.)  It is heedless of justice or many accepted moralities.  Love may join hearts, but it is just as capable of sundering them.  Still, this is not a complaint; merely an observation.  Love -- its messes, obligations, weight -- is a gift.  Its pain is to be treasured and exploited.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Such an odd perspective, to see humanity as this vast roiling ocean of information exchange, its currents and littorals and deepest trenches rushing with phonemes, engrams and colorful, animated fragments, at once choate and protean.  Emotions run a scale not unlike a thermometer:  warm lust in the Bahamas, shiveringly cool triumph in San Francisco Bay.  Ideas calved off the Antarctic might disagree with those born of the temperate freshwater/seawater mix burbling where river finally ends its run.  Of course, the metaphor breaks down as all metaphors ought to:  what are coral reefs in this paradigm?  Or those saltwater deserts teeming with discarded plastic bags and petrochemicals?  What significance the orca?  What is learned by the krill drifting in invisible clouds out of a sunken ship's porthole?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"The Bird of Paradise...

...alights on the hand that does not grasp." - John Berry

He was dressed in gray jeans, a pink button-down shirt, and a black driver's cap.  Book in hand, he walked up Sixth Street, deftly sidestepping and weaving around dealers, milk crate-sitting OGs, tweaker prostitutes in bright red lipstick (their legs all beat up), art fags, et alia.  It was as though everyone were engaged in an intricately choreographed sidewalk dance set to the beat of many thousands of hearts.  He passed the green-fronted pawn shop glaring in the reddening sun, and the cool Pacific breeze wafted to him from within the numbing aroma of crack smoke.  Look:  the golden gleam off the corner, where the yellow, red and green tiles of Cancun Taqueria meet Market Street -- there you will see an angel's hands pressed together for a moment.  Listen, listen, listen to the 80s Top 40 hits, the patter of Skid Row patois, the crunch of the car wheels turning behind you.  These are the prayers of a city continuously spoken past the ear of the King of the World.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Deadly Delusion -- A Lifetime Original Movie

Have you ever heard the rather self-aggrandizing criticism one person might level against another that the other can't cope with reality, or misperceives it (to the point, it is to laugh, that more than just the object of criticism suffers)?  As fault-finding goes, I've always found that one a waste of time.  For one thing, I wager most people are like me:  if they even contemplate the nature of reality, they assume it's whatever they can't help but experience moment by moment, squared against their memories of a life lived in the only world they've ever known.  Sure, the world will surprise you as long as you are alive, but reality is more or less constant. 

Were one to correct another's perception of reality, what frame of reference does one even begin with?  Who actually has the temerity to propose that they've got the most comprehensively mapped, paramaterized reality?  Since I already know my senses are occasionally suspect, subject to deception, error, misinterpretation, even full-blown hallucination, I'm just not going to presume, and then read about Buddhist monks pulling the ground out from under one another...

Words like delusion, psychosis and insane, among others, get bandied about far too often, and almost never in any helpful way.  I had an ex who more or less characterized my thinking as somewhere between that of Blanche DuBois and that of Jason Vorhees -- but it would go without saying I'm not the only variable in that equation.  If I'm guilty of wrongthink, I'm sure I'll pay out the nose.  And don't doubt for a second that when I end up in Room 101, I'll blame only myself.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Imaginary Frienemies

Palimpsest.  Secretly famous.  Too beloved.  Loser.  Ice queen for the sadist.  Addict in a box.  Local boy dismembered by carpetbaggers.  Recipient of charity.  Hollow man.  Supremely evil.  Too good for this world.  Cries for those better off.  On the list.  Workman's comp case waiting to happen.  Flake.  Reliably dead.  Resident evil.  Ancient angel.  "You look like fucking Jesus Christ when they do this shit to you."  Taste his mind.  Beautiful music.  Delusional.  Hallucinatory.  Psychedelic motherfucker.  Capital punishment.  Camera or firing squad, or both?  Deep shit.  Psychic and psychotic.  Sugarcoat the truth.  Hormonal reactions indicate divorce from sensation.  Reality?