Macaroni

It’s Saturday. You read the New York Times Sunday Book Reviews while drinking your coffee. You always do that first on Saturday.

For the rest of the day, you’d like to write an ode to a friend and confidant. Also, you want to read the history of great cities, some economics, and a few analytic philosophy papers about the mind.

You crave macaroni smothered in Velveeta cheese. Yes, that’ll be good to eat while watching the football game this afternoon. Your mind will swim in the toxic chemicals you’ve ingested while watching the football game. Playing poker tonight will be the cure.

You are so lazy and stupid. It’s Saturday and you don’t mind. Any pleasure you pick will come wrapped in guilt, yet guilt easily torn, crumpled, and cast aside.

Published in: on November 20, 2004 at 11:12 am  Comments (3)  

Warmth

The windows are wide open. You wear shorts and a t-shirt and your feet are bare. Mid-November Chicago is warm and damp for the second day running. For that you are grateful.

The clattering of the keys on the manual typewriter sound good to you. You pause frequently to drift and dream. You wondered if days like these would ever arrive. They almost seem too pleasant.

Your mind works for you, unnoticed, unbidden, and not thanked. Your mind is as much your blood, bone, muscle, and gristle as it is the wet mushy lump in your skull.

You think in metaphors hidden from view. The metaphors are born from your basic and primary experience of being in the world. What you call reason is the imaginative manipulation of metaphor. Disagreements about abstract concepts arise because each concept has many metaphors.

Art, religion, philosophy, science, and language miraculously began all at the same time when the modern brain started thinking in metaphors. The metaphors are a shared heritage, yet people imagine new ones every day.

The books on the shelves, on the floor, and on the table comfort you like a great library. The pages you write make a pile beside you. You do not know what will come of them, if anything at all.

There is nothing more you want today than this unseasonable warmth on your skin and the words in your head finding their way to paper.

Published in: on November 18, 2004 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Powell

Secretary Powell is gone. More’s the pity.

On the other hand, what was the point in the first place? Diplomacy is a lost art in America.

Published in: on November 15, 2004 at 9:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Stop

We are often tempted

To say more

Than we have to say.

The cure is to just

Stop.

Published in: on November 10, 2004 at 11:21 am  Comments (1)  

Gibbon

You read Gibbon for the fourth time in your life.

You wish he was here to write a history of the United States.

It would be a fun book to read if nothing else.

But there would be, most likely, something else.

You can only imagine what.

Published in: on November 10, 2004 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Diocletian and Christianity

“The corruption of manners and principles, so forcibly lamented by Eusebius, may be considered, not only as a consequence, but as a proof, of the liberty which the Christians enjoyed and abused under Diocletian. Prosperity had relaxed the nerves of discipline. Fraud, envy, and malice prevailed in every congregation. The presbyters aspired to the Episcopal office, which every day became an object more worthy of their ambition. The bishops, who contended with each other for ecclesiastical pre-eminence, appeared by their conduct to claim a secular and tyrannical power in the church, and the lively faith which still distinguished the Christians from the Gentiles was shown much less in their lives than in their controversial writings.”

Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

It is easy to take a passage out of context from a vast and great book.

Gibbon’s volumes are not so much a history of Rome rather than an excuse to reflect on human nature. As excuses go, it’s a good one and quite well done.

Beware of those pronouncing and advocating objective ethics grounded in their personal and self interested belief in the god of their choice.

You may find yourself worshipping false idols.

Published in: on November 9, 2004 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Watch Your Wallet

Congress is just about to take the axe to Social Security as we know it. The prudent advice would be to watch your wallet, but they already have it and most of the money has been looted from it.

The old way of managing Social Security built on claims to the real growth of the US economy will be replaced.

People will pour their money into the financial markets. The risks of return will be greater. Transaction costs from churning accounts will soar. Fraud will enter the system and along with it more ineffectual government regulation to quiet the worried minds of the innocent citizens. Many loopholes will allow people to escape from putting the required money into their accounts. Those who have for decades poured money into the old system will find the cupboard bare.

It’ll all look great until the first big wave of those with no retirement money hit the system. It won’t look quite so handsome after that.

The new system will be a many headed beast, neither fish nor foul, a dragon come to scorch everything in its path.

It is a matter of trust and gullibility. Watch your wallet.

Just remember, “greed is good,” when you are old and gray and sitting on the street corner with a tin cup in hand.

Published in: on November 9, 2004 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Hangover

You wake with an election hangover.

You decide the only cure is to continue reading Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. You are reading chapter XIV, the rise of Constantine, the prelude to the chapters on the rise of Christianity, your favorite chapters, for Gibbon uses pure and unadulterated acid for ink.

And, of course, you’ll write a curative poem about love and truth, but you’ll write it slant as Emily advises.

You hear a knock at the door. Have the Sixties Police finally come to arrest you and confiscate your Beatles music?

Or is it Fortuna and the Muses come to throw a riotous party?

Published in: on November 7, 2004 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Victory

The President goes to bed the first night after his reelection. He feels slightly unsettled and sad.

Sure, the road was clear on the way toward theocracy and plutocracy. But those things never interested him as much as just running the race and winning.

The good part was now over. There’d be no more traveling and pressing the flesh, no more campaign trails for him.

He fell fast and deeply into sleep like all men who never doubt their beliefs because they have no beliefs at all.

Published in: on November 4, 2004 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Waves

The sky is just as blue.

The golden leaves falling

from the trees are just as dead.

Our philosophies remain inert

and refuse to yield

the answers to our questions.

Only our passions endlessly rise,

fall, and shift like

waves on the sea.

Published in: on November 3, 2004 at 10:04 am  Comments (1)  

Doubt

This is it, election day. The President did not expect it to be this close. People are telling him he might lose.

He’d not tried to negotiate the differences between the policy experts versus the political experts.

He’d gone with his gut. He’d gone with the political experts.

There were so many dead and wounded in the war which looked so easy and now looked as if it was not winnable.

His private polls indicated that he would regret it.

He had not prayed to God all day. He did not realize that he had not done so.

Published in: on November 2, 2004 at 4:17 pm  Comments (1)