Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's Not a Nice Song

But I really really like playing it:

We Are Family
    D                   F
the kind one is a solid base
E                   A
superconducting, arranging space
          D            C
she's got empathy, and knowledge
   G                                  A
it must have been the liberal arts college

We are family,
they keep insisting to me
I don't feel the love
A                                     D C Bb A
   just a crushing weight from above

    D               F   
the airhead flits about and smiles
   E                A
illusions hide her constant trials
      D                   C
she's not so big, she pretends to be
   G                    A
she tries  to steamroll over me


    D               F   
the loyal: simple, soft, and dumb
     E             A
he flails about at everyone
     D                 C
the hateful one with fiery laughter,
G                          A
scorns the blisters that follow after


    D                    F   
the fifth completes the star of four
   E                    A
a rising point,crushed to the floor
       D                  C
he has every intention to burn the city
      G                    A
where one through four can sit all pretty

(Chorus x2)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ignore the world, Ignore yourself

okay so since all the things we perceive as external are really internal constructs in our mind, focusing on an external or "objective" moral system is a form of intense egoism; You would be walling off part of your self and designating it as perfect and then using it as the basis for propping yourself up above others.

But if you focus internally, attempting to notice how you relate to things as they enter your world, I think that might contribute to ongoing examination of egoistic behavior because "watching" yourself do things contributes to depersonalization which allows for the expanded capacity for understanding and accepting both yourself and the world as they are since they are viewed as a unity.

Monday, November 26, 2012

So I Want To Be A Wizard

Diane Duane writes about a world of wizardry. Her universe is constructed with the Speech. Words are magic, and truth rules all. As things are dictates how things can be, and words are inscribed upon the structure of the universe as the representatives of the indomitable human spirit.

Duane writes of the true nature of speech while dressing it in formal capitalization to disguise it from her readers enough for the metaphor to evade firewalls of cynicism. Words are magic. Words are powerful. Language has the ability to grip our minds and wring out meaning from its inscrutable undercurrents that are inaccessible to us but seem wide open to others. A half-finished sentence is as viscerally broken as a chair leg, and twice as memorable. Words have the surety of meaning that we so desperately wish we could embody, but instead we are a constant shimmer of energy, without the permanence and certainty of a well turned phrase.

The speech of others is rock solid. It rings out with the certainty of a possibility chosen from infinite variations. For a sentiment to be chosen above all others is for it to be exalted by the power of another's consciousness, an unknowable entity only glimpsed through these illustrious manifestations of intelligent will. When the soul of another peeks out through their mouth we have no choice but to catalog it, sign it with their essence and shelve it haphazardly among the other ragged memories bearing the same name. A few become polished silver among dark shelves of dusty yellow serving bowls, glinting with the fire of essential truth and perfect characterization. Another's words are our touchstones for their being, and cherishing them is an act of respect for their humanity.

My words are murky and arbitrary. My words seem to come from nowhere, and have less meaning when gazed at more directly. My words are always not quite right, for how could I have picked the best of infinite possibilities? Surely I could find something a little truer, and a little more authentic, and a little more accessible to viewers like you.

My words have holes in the middle from where they’ve been rubbed repeatedly for fear that they should rust and wear out from lack of care. My triumphs over the unending potential for mediocrity lie behind glass, covered by a hard sharp sheen lest they warp from too much handling and inspection. I cannot be sure that they are not just gold leaf, quickly scratched to reveal the dull cheap brass underneath. My failures shine from their painstakingly carved niches like overpainted nails that sparkle with soft lumpy polish. I will always be waiting for them to dry and harden over the old chipped layers underneath, a glaringly obvious fix that could have been done correctly the first time. My words writhe with unnervingly visible yet ever reintelligible wisps of emotion that cast strange contradictory shadows across the serifs and curves of quotations etched by the hot edge of urgency. They are uncomfortable to look at, but staring is the price we pay for speaking.

All words have a price, and we the vain hope that extracting a little blood for them now can prevent them from causing deep cuts to unguarded soft areas later on.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Undertaking a Study

During my time at Grinnell College, I would often remark that I was excited to graduate so I could start studying the things I wanted to learn. At the time it was a commentary on my dissatisfaction with the academic approach to learning, but my memories of it now feel like a quiet urgings towards focus and creation. I live in a world of casual complexities and mundane marvels.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Using Facebook to Utilize Social Pressures for Thought Construction

300 christmas lights are hung around my room in a linear array. I wanted to add color to them with permanent markers. I wanted to use four colors: Blue, Green, Orange, and Red. Indexing from 0 to 299, I colored the lights as follows:

Blue{x : x is prime}
Green{x : x modulo 7 = 0}
Orange{x : x modulo 3 = 0}
Red{x: x_0 = 0, x_1 = 1, x_n = x_(n-1) + x_(n-2)} U {y : y_n=y_(n-1)+x_n}

Can you write a description of the set with all four colors? Any three colors? Any two colors? No colors?

Regarding the lights: They look very pretty now.

Derivational Fun:
Blue+Red{x: x_0 = 0, x_1 = 1, x_n = x_(n-1) + x_(n-2)} U
{y : y_n=y_(n-1)+x_n}∩ {x: x is prime}
Green+Orange{x : x modulo 21=0}
Green+Red{x: x_0 = 0, x_1 = 1, x_n = x_(n-1) + x_(n-2)} U
{y : y_n=y_(n-1)+x_n}∩ {x: x modulo 7=0}
Orange+Red{x: x_0 = 0, x_1 = 1, x_n = x_(n-1) + x_(n-2)} U
{y : y_n=y_(n-1)+x_n}∩{x: x modulo 7=0}
Green+Orange+Red{x: x_0 = 0, x_1 = 1, x_n = x_(n-1) + x_(n-2)} U
{y : y_n=y_(n-1)+x_n}∩{x: x modulo 21=0} = {0, 21}

Holy Implications, Batman!

Let's look at how our assumptions about people can shape the power dynamics of our interactions with them.

When you make normative assumptions about what people can be, you force those who do not fit your assumptions to identify their deviance to you in order to exist in your worldview as they conceive of themselves in theirs. This is an extra challenge you do not visit upon the "normal enough", 
who have the privilege of an already constructed existence in your consciousness that matches theirs to a satisfactory degree. This is also an extra burden for the deviant, who must actively attempt to change the constructs of your mind in order to be afforded an existence in your worldview that matches their own experience of their existence. Since humans are very resistant to external forces that attempt to reshape their worldviews, this attempt often results in hostility and violence.

Now imagine your normative views are shared by the vast majority of your society. The deviant must therefore be constantly reasserting their non-normative identity in order for society to acknowledge their existence as they experience it. This constant reassertion becomes a public performance of deviance, and the hostility resulting from these many individual interactions becomes part of the nature of the society in the deviant's worldview. The deviant feel as though they must work their whole life to construct their existence in the minds of their society's constituents.

Compare this experience of society with the experience of people who feel as though their existence is acknowledge by society as they experience it. Consider the spectrum of characters with which everyone in a society is familiar and comfortable. Those are privileged positions because the people who occupy them do not have to work to establish their existence. It has been pre-established by common narratives that existed before them.

My society's narratives are very often racist, sexist, cissexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizist, and classist.

I just thought everyone should know.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Naked Non-fiction

Alexander had not yet discovered that the janitorial staff at Maimonides School did not take rules and regulations in such a divine fashion as the administrative staff did. In his head it was capitalized - Administration - and was composed of various over-religious Rabbis in administrative positions and their weak willed counterparts in the equivalent secular positions. The Judaic Studies principal was Rabbi Altshuler, but in Alexander's 11th grade, Rabbi Shapiro, a previous principal, was appointed to "Rosh Yeshiva", Head of the School. Both of them were involved in an explicit campaign to eradicate undesirables from the student population, and the Only Gay Student Ever was risking it all to skip the morning prayer hour in the basement hallway to the gym.

If he'd known at that time the extent of the support staff's apathy for enforcing any sort of rules, he would have spent the hour hidden in the utility room where no Administrators would ever bother to look. He had only ever known a world of rules though: thick, numerous, and explicit from God, hypocritical, inconsistent and loving from his parents, and cold, emotionless, and business-like from the Rabbis surveilling the hallways for illicit cross-gender high fives and overly flamboyant hair colors.

As it was, there was nothing to be said when the tall Rabbi Shapiro opened the door to the hallway Alexander was sitting in to gaze down at him sitting cross-legged with his laptop on his lap. Rabbi Shapiro was resplendent in his prayer finery, a black and white fringed talit draped over his fine black suit, a kipa on his head, and the glossy black leather straps of tefillin wrapped around his forehead and arm, their black matte wooden boxes sitting high on his forehead and upper arm. They were just like the pair Alexander should have been wearing in the prayer room upstairs. His face was clean shaven as always, unlike some of the other Rabbis who sported long beards.

"You're expelled" Rabbi Shapiro said curtly down to Alexander, still seated on the floor.

"Tell your parents you won't be coming back after next break" he added, before turning around and walking back upstairs.

Alexander sat there after the door closed behind those two short sentences. Crying was not an option yet, because it wouldn't be helpful. Sitting an thinking was helpful. Being expelled from school was not an option. That was the Worst Thing That Could Happen, and Alexander was very particular about what was and was not allowed to occur. Expulsion was not an option, so he had to think of a plan.

He flashed back to the announcements Rabbi Shapiro frequently gave in the middle of the morning prayer session, sometimes involving announcements of attacks in Israel or community grief. Rabbi Shapiro cried publicly when speaking about anything even a little bit sad, no matter how remote the subjects of the story were to him personally. He had great empathy for other people in an almost socially unseemly fashion, a paradoxical characteristic when Alexander took into account his public and frequent condemnation of homosexuals and his support of gay-conversion organizations like JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternative to Homosexuals. Alexander was sure Rabbi Shapiro had much empathy for his sexually diseased state, but probably felt responsible for keeping the school free of unbelievers and pretenders to the faith.

Alexander thought he was protected to a certain extent by his good grades and the fondness many of his teachers, religious and non-religious alike, held for his enthusiasm for learning and intellectual acumen. He was also slightly protected by the legacy of his family having sent four other children to the school before him. He knew his religiously distasteful sexuality would have gotten him expelled far earlier were he not a standout student in some ways. This had protected him through 9th and 10th grade, but the 11th grade scourge led by the appointment of Rabbi Shapiro to Rosh Yeshiva had targeted him at last, and Rabbi Shapiro had obviously been monitoring his deviant behavior for an excuse to finally expel the faggot.

Alexander decided to leverage his natural reaction to authority figures in high pressure situation, uncontrollable tears, and his ability to lie convincingly even through the flight or fight response in the hopes that he could convince Rabbi Shapiro to give him a second chance. He thought of Rabbi Shapiro's emotions as a crippling weakness that he could exploit with carefully placed lies and emotion. He would have to be convincing in making Rabbi Shapiro believe he was really honestly grappling with issues of religion. His personal opinion was that God didn't exist and all these religious rules were emphatic bullshit, but that was the attitude that would get him expelled.

These thoughts and planning had only taken a few minutes. It wasn't something he hadn't considered before, and he had learned to react quickly in these situations. Morning prayer was still not over for another twenty minutes though, and he would have to wait until then to appeal to Rabbi Shapiro's disabling empathy. Crying now seemed like a pretty good option, though he had to make sure to leave some for the actual conversation later.