Heed them.

April 26, 2011

The Lottery Religion

 Pictured Above: Now that I've got your attention...

Socialism is a religion. When Socialist states are stated they sometimes state that Socialism is inevitable. Socialism was coming, for certain, eventually. How did they know? They just knew! It was 'science'.

Saying something is coming for certain in the future, without being able to really tell, is what's called 'faith'. At least Socialism has common sense on it's side. Capitalism is a religion, and not only a religion, a corrupt one. The Socialists sermon from the pulpit at least takes everyone into account. The Capitalists sermon is all about YOU(Though you probably paid to get in).

If you're below the age of 30, and you're reading this, then you're a victim of the self esteem movement. The self esteem movement told you you could do anything you put your mind to. Anything. Then they told you you were special. At least as special as 300 million other Americans. In the free market, you can totally make it then, right?  You can probably get rich with those odds. And there's no such thing as networking, discipline, and luck.

Oh wait, there is a such thing as luck! Let yourself play. Let yourself give a dollar for the hope to be a millionaire. It's called 'Mega millions' but a more accurate description would be 'Daydream pimping'. People who play the lottery are broke, in debt, and typically middle aged. The existence of a lottery is the strongest evidence that Capitalism is a religion- Poor people giving a hard earned dollar for the chance, the chance, to get rich. Every dollar is another pledge of faith to the religion of Capitalism; no different than the collection plate at a religious church.

So maybe you don't think you'll get rich. Maybe you don't even desire to be rich. I don't blame you; money doesn't make you happy, it just makes you less anxious. You just want to live a comfortable life, right? And if you work hard and do your best, with the help of 'trickle down economics' and 'philanthropy' and all those altruistic capitalists, you'll make it. Won't you? If 'making it,' means 'at least not being thrown in debt prison,' then NO.

You can tell Capitalism is a religion by how tenaciously believers cling to it and ignore evidence. Even a senior citizen who has worked many full time jobs his life, and is working a part time job just to make ends meet while in his 70's, will tell you that rich people are rich because they worked harder for it. And he will tell you this till the day he buys the farm. If he can afford it.

April 23, 2011

Still Waters Stagnate

(One of the odd M.C. Escher works that doesn't explore impossibility)

I love to daydream. I daydream because it's a great stress reliever. And for another reason. I'm currently withdrawing from nicotine(snus) which is, unfortunately, the elephant in the room. Luckily I can still drink, so I'm not actually seeing elephants. I just know at least one exists, in some other dimension or in empty space.

Tobacco is a drug that breaks all rules. At first a deliriant/great-way-to-get-your-buzz-on, quickly tobacco use by the tobacco user becomes 'a way to concentrate'. Later on, the withdrawal consists almost entirely of 'feeling incredibly spaced out.' How perfect is that for the continuation of use?

Granted, nicotine is being researched for its ability to help ADD and ADHD people concentrate. Consider that Adderal is suburban-Meth and Ritalin is suburban-Coke. It's only a matter of time before nicotine is a pill and your children will be buying it(or a derivative of it) on their college campus to help them study after too much booze and pot. And that begs the question- how important is concentration?

Concentration is important if you're operating a motor vehicle, a meat slicer, a gun, or a knife. Simple matters of creating-or-avoiding bloodshed benefit from concentration. As for creation of art, I suspect that most artists who value stimulants(past and present) believe in magic. By that I mean that they value precision, concentration and clarity only because they think that there is a single great addition to their field that is housed inside of their brain somewhere. In other words, they think that they're special.

 Great truths and perspectives frequently appear out of nowhere. There is a known phenomenon in problem solving; solutions often arrive 'all the sudden' while the problem-solver is spending time away from the problem, 'not' thinking about it. One proposed theory is that the unconscious mind is working on the problem during that time.

I'm not sure if that's true. I suspect the truth is that concentration and attention can itself distract. Concentrating and being as 'in the zone' as possible can produce a mental tip-of-the-tongue syndrome. In addition, whatever a person is concentrating on may be a red herring. And this comes back to magical thinking. When creating art, remember that if you ever express any unique perspective or truth, it will be on accident.

"I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." - Jack Kerouac

(Though he might have been on amphetamines when he said that.)

April 16, 2011

Go Left!

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," - Barrack Obama, May 2008

"YES WE CAN!" - King Cobe, Now

I never liked Obama. Initially because of the anti-intellectual poverty pimping he did during his campaign which he clearly didn't believe himself. And because people thought he was a progressive, when he clearly wasn't, though I guess that's not his fault.

His statement was implying that the average American lives a a life of excess, and that it's not 'OK'. Have you been living a life of unbridled excess and abundance since 'OG' Bush took office? I'd really like to hear about it, because I don't remember that period of prosperity myself. Oh wait, if you're these guys, you've probably been having a blast.

So how surprising is it that Barrack & Congress are telling Americans that we're ALL responsible for the economic conditions that the USA is in? And that we're ALL going to have to chip in to fix it through the cutting of essential government programs? Unfortunately, not so surprising.

I can't believe my ears when I listen to NPR(bad habit) and hear 'ave joes' buy this shit; that we need to 'cut back', EVERY ONE of us. Why? How did I contribute to the economic meltdown circa 2007-2008? I expect the government to lie to us, but I'm still shocked that Americans are willing to lie to themselves just as often. Instead of responding to the austerity measures and budget cutting with-

"Fuck you rich assholes, you fucked everything up!"

Even poor Americans are willing to take some of the blame. I almost wish Bush was still president, when no one believed a goddamn word he said, and always suspected he was up to something filthy. When Obama gives his speeches in a calm, soothing manner and feeds us folk-wisdom about 'paying our bills' and our excessive American lifestyle, even the astro-turfed tea party assholes swallow it whole.

If you don't think you 'deserve' to eat as much as you want, keep your home at 72 degrees at all times, and drive an SUV, then move to the Philippines. As I understand it, Americans have enough resources and have all worked hard enough to provide for everyone here. The only reason we aren't doing that is because we're being robbed and exploited by the rich who are telling us that we, personally(each and every one of us), owe money to china or some bullshit.

 I hope that my generation figures out that the best way to provide prosperity for the most people is Progressive politics. It's Leftism. It's everybody being taken care of, not every man for himself. There will be no Gulags and you can still 'get rich' if you're extremely lucky, but if not, there will be a safety net. There HAS to be some kind of backlash to the eradication of the gains made by labor and the poor last century.

But it won't happen for a long time, because I know you don't vote for anything but president, and won't until your mid-life crisis.

April 15, 2011

The Stigma of Online Dating

  Pictured above: "The good ol' days"

YOU have always used the internet to meet people. You just didn't think of it like that. There is someone on your facebook friend's list who you've never seen in person. Isn't there? You justified that kind of an online friendship, because the person is 'a friend of a friend', and 'maybe [you'll] run into them'.

The stigma rears it's ugly head only when someone like me uses the internet proactively instead of passively, as an actual social networking tool. Before you know it, I'm meeting perfect strangers, in real life. No similar friends, no spark, no synchronicity, no fate. Just cold calling. What would drive a person to do such a thing? Plain logic-

Is it possible that there is someone who you could be friends with, or have a romantic interest in, who you're never going to run into socially? If you answered 'of course' then congratulations, you don't believe in magic. Is it possible you can find them using the internet? Of course.

I've met 6 people in person after using some combination of youtube, craigslist, facebook(back when it used to work like a social networking tool instead of a sharing bad-ass link with your homeboys tool), and okcupid. It's worked out to varying degrees; I've alienated 2 people, 2 people just weren't very interested in me, and I could call up either of the other 2 tomorrow and hang out with them. That's about my real life statistical average, too, and there's a reason for that-

It's not 1992 anymore. The internet is part of real life. You're reading this here, instead of in a magazine, or a letter I sent you. Why then, shouldn't you meet people you find on the internet, like you meet people you find at a party? I, for one, am delighted that social life, including romantic interest, has an additional dimension. Remember...

We are in the future!

April 13, 2011

Intro to Introverting

You find yourself at a small get-together or a large party, and at some point you realize someone is talking to you and you're not listening. It might look like this:
'What is this person so excited about?' you wonder. You begin to listen, and are shocked to find out it's something that has nothing to do with you. And it's not even about anything you like, it's about them. You continue to listen, and hope that the person will leave you alone soon, but when you say noncommittal things in response like "hmmm..." and "really?" they keep talking! The nerve!
Learn to employ the word "Yep". "Yes" is an answer to a question, "Yup" is used in gentle approval, but "Yep" is a conversation murderer.

Some Guy: So then I was looking for apartments in woodland heights, which is a nice neighborhood, ya know?
You: Yep.
S.G.- But it was 1050 just for a 1 bedroom!
Y- Yep.
S.G.- Where do you live?
Y- Yep.
S.G.- Umm... so where do you live?
Y- Yep.

At this point, if the stranger or close friend doesn't stop talking to you, higher level tactics might need to employed to ensure survival and escape. First try lying, and if all else fails, try honesty. Example-

S.G. - Dude, you're just saying 'yep'. Are you even listening?
Y- Oh snap! I think I locked my keys in my car! *Walk out*
S.G. - *Following you out* Dude I'm like an expert at this. Do you have a coathanger?
Y- What? Umm... no that's okay, I have a spare key underneath... or something
S.G. - Oh, so let's go back in

When you leave, you might feel small or large pangs of guilt. After all, how are you ever going to make friends if you don't go places and talk to people? Stop pitying yourself! You have plenty of friends, waiting to party with you back home! These include-

Lying in bed you'll look back on your time alone with fondness. That was great, wasn't it? You deserve it! Next time, skip a few steps and just never leave your home.

Advanced techniques in introversion: Inventing imaginary friends and obligations to avoid acquiring actual friends and obligations.

April 12, 2011

Not a Stand Up Kind of Guy

Stand up comedy is the last one-man show that still exists. Stand up comedy routines have involved music, sketches and other performers before, and are- or have been- heavily edited and reduced before mainstream exhibition, but ultimately the entire performance rests on the shoulders of the performer. If you're not funny, you can't make it.

And what is 'funny'? Stand up comedians walk a lot of strange lines. Even what constitutes a 'joke' is disputed, and every comedian tells some of them. Between telling them, they insert social commentary, charisma, showmanship, and personal experience. There's a lot of things that make people laugh. People laugh because they feel out of place or they feel solidarity. They laugh because they relate to the performer or the performer is someone from another planet. They laugh in spite of themselves.

 I've imagined I could 'make it' or at least 'fake it', or faked it, in most types of creative output. For better or worse I think I'm at least as talented as my least favorite musicians and my least favorite writers, but I never even imagined myself in the company of comedians. Comedians are smart, they're creative, they're charismatic, and above all- they're courageous.

I've never been afraid of a crowd, I have plenty of material, and I've been invariably described as 'funny'. So why haven't I tried my hand at stand up comedy?

For one, I'm intimidated, for two, I'm overwhelmed, and for three, I'm scared.

April 11, 2011

The Fourth Drive and the Fourth Wall

"History shows that people have always used intoxicants. In every age, in every part of the world, people have pursued intoxication with plants, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances. In fact, this behavior has so much force and persistence that it functions much like our drives for food, sleep, and sex. This 'fourth drive' is a natural part of our biology, creating the irrepressible demand for intoxicating substances."- Ronald K. Siegel

In a society where food, sleep, and sex are for the most part easily attained by an individual quickly if he has half a brain, what can you expect him to do with the time in between? The short answer is "art" and the long answer is "art and drugs".

The connection between creativity and drug use is well established, and the quality of the connection is heavily debated. Whatever the quality of the connection, it exists for a reason. Sobriety hurts. You brain works the way it does primarily to keep you alive. Things like fear, anxiety and self-criticism are hard-wired. If you feel like shit when you're sober, it's not your fault. It's the fault of humans evolving over many millenia to survive. Being scared all the time is 'just how humans are', and that's why many humans choose to use drugs.

Drug use quiets or distracts the mind from normal everyday worry. You stop worrying about self-preservation, self-image, things you fucked up on or how to avoid getting screwed over by life, because you no longer care or no longer CAN care. Is it a surprise that many people find that this state of intoxication is the time they can 'really think'?

When I read about the so-called 'fourth drive' I was reminded of another 'fourth'- the fourth wall. In theater, the fourth wall is the imaginary wall between the audience and the performers. 'Breaking the fourth wall' refers to a scene during old-timey plays when the performer would speak directly to the audience, breaking the illusion that the scenes were 'real' in order to make a direct point. In a great article on drinking alone , a point is put forth that drinking alone can "open internal lines of communication" in the same way that drinking with company opens regular lines of communication. I suspect that that's true.

 The only commonly accepted criticism of the 'high' users get from drugs or alcohol is that it's 'escapist'. I agree with the point, but don't see it as a criticism at all. When a person can escape, they can see themselves, their lives, and their art, from the perspective of someone else. If they are a good person, they can look on themselves favorably. They learn, quickly or in time, to treat themselves like their own friend.

And when you're your own friend, you can delight in your work, or criticize your work without self-hate.

April 04, 2011

Tiger Blood

I've never commented on a story that would also be in a tabloid until now. There's a reason for that. I don't care about celebrities, and when I come to find out their business through other people's chit-chat, I'm not amused, because their behavior is, as a rule, cowardly and boring.

I love finding an exception to any rule. Charlie Sheen's recent activity hasn't been cowardly or boring. He might, for all I know, be a coward without his bodyguards, but he appears courageous to me. When his possible alcoholism, drug use, and polyamory came to be known, he didn't march to rehab or religious conversion or to give an apology, he gave several bizarre interviews, quotes from which could be taken as evidence of a mental health problem. I'm not bored, are you?

The tabloid reporters method is to delve into the lives of celebrities until they die in a car accident(remember?), or until some bit of muck is raked up, however insignificant(like something you, YOU, the guy reading, do regularly). After the muck is exposed, a celebrity agrees to every condition suggested to restore their image and reputation. That condition is almost always rehab.

'Fuckin rehab!' I thought, and 'Fuck everyone!' Charlie Sheen thought. He proceeded to insult his boss(a proud American tradition), and get fired. While he had been working on whatever shitty show only people over age 40 would ever watch, Mr. Sheen had showed up to shoot on time, all the time, and was kind to everyone present. That was his job, and he did it as well as I do mine. He made a lot more money then I ever will, but that's what's in a name- everything.

 After you were fired from acting on a show that paid you millions per episode, what would you do? March to rehab? Apologize? Retire? Or, organize a tour in which you ramble mindlessly to idiots who were dumb and bored enough to buy tickets to it?

He chose to organize a tour in which he rambles mindlessly to idiots who are dumb and bored enough to buy tickets to it. Why?

Tiger blood.