26 January 2013

A Post Wherein the Author Writes About the Problems of Happiness -- A Guy on the Subway -- Writing Henry V -- Heidegger -- and the Perils of Walking Down Urban Sidewalks -- Among Other Things

The critique was that it sounded like I was angry. The critique was of something I had written. There was a problem with the critique. It suggested that sounding angry was a bad thing. I had wanted to sound angry. I wanted to because I was. It's not unlike when someone is visiting a city or country and is told they look like a tourist. What. You're supposed to pretend to be a native wherever you go?

There is a -- I've quite suddenly changed the subject -- a certain level of discomfort that can come as a result of being happy and having about as much in life as you could possibly ask for. I am currently saddled with a job I love a wife I adore and children I am proud of. Notwithstanding a persistent headache that has been plaguing me these past few days my health is quite good. I am surrounded by great films music and books. One learns in life that all the beauty and wonder and joy and delightfulness can vanish in an instant. This headache could be a brain tumor. Oily rags could assemble in our basement setting off an inferno. A cataclysmic earthquake could strike. But for now I'm living with contentment. Satisfaction is not always conducive to creativity to self discovery or to enlightenment. But there are a reservoir of memories I can tap....

There's been a lot of pain. Some physical but the overwhelming majority mental and emotional. No pain no gain. Suffering makes for spiritual strength and great stories to tell. Go tell it on the mountain or a hill or a knoll. You've had a tragic loss or an affliction of addiction or been wronged and by golly you've got an automatic voice and vehicle to exclaim the pain and touch upon some of life's hard truths. Go get em.

Yesterday one co-worker told another that a student of his kept saying that she was "queer for" things that she really liked. Second co-worker said that it was not okay to say you are "queer for" something unless you are gay. Absent being homosexual using the word queer in any way shape or form is -- as she put it -- offensive. Yes it is. Queer is just one of the many words we should not say unless we are cloaked by membership in a particular group. Lest we offend. Offending is offensive and should be avoided at all costs. Be very very careful which words you use. Limit your vocabulary to words that will not offend people of color or the old or the gay or the infirm or the -- I love this one -- mentally challenged. The next thing you say could hurt someone's feelings. We are all very sensitive. Sticks and stones are not alone in causing hurt in the 21st century. Mind your words carefully. The mute have had so good.

There's something I need to get off my chest: the play Henry V -- most often attributed to William Shakespeare was in fact composed by yours truly. Never mind that performances of it and its publication well pre date my birth I wrote the damn thing "once more into the breach" and all. I'm asking for a leap of faith of here. After all in Bergman's Fanny and Alexander (1982) there is a scene in which the titular characters are rescued from the evil bishop and they are at once upstairs and in a large chest downstairs being secreted away. (See photo above but only if you want to.)  No one questions that. Right? So trust me on this. I wrote the damn play. I'm not asking for any credit on it nor residuals nor anything of the sort. Just an occasional acknowledgement would be nice. Cheers.

There was a guy on the subway two days ago pushing his belongings -- several full backpacks prominent -- on a broken down old wheelchair. He wore raggedy old clothes and looked like he needed a shave a bath and years worth of psychiatric treatment. You know the type. At one point I looked up from my book as we whizzed through the tunnel under the San Francisco Bay and noted that he was wearing his baseball cap over his face. Given his general appearance this was neither objectionable nor out of character. His hat remained over his face for at least ten minutes. Personally I applaud anyone original enough to wear their headgear in such a fashion.

Headgear. Close enough to Heidegger as in Martin as in the noted German philosopher who wrote about and title Being and Time. Are they the same thing? What is time but....

But there was a particularly annoying group of Evangelicals occupying a corner of Berkeley's famed Telegraph Avenue area today. They had a horrible guitarist and singer fouling the air and some burly fellows passing out brochures -- just as Jesus intended. I walked between two of the behemoths for Christ as quickly as possible without breaking into a sprint and said: "don't hand me anything." One blustered: "do you know where you go when you die?" To which I quipped: "to a place where no one tries to hand me anything while I'm walking down the street." Actually I'm quite certain that in any afterlife we may enjoy (or suffer - you know you could go where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth) there is no leafletting. There are no well meaning young adults asking if we have "a minute for the environment." There is no one asking us for spare change (poor blighters -- them at least I feel empathy for well except the younger ones who seem hale and hearty them not so much).  Imagine strolling down the boulevard without fear of being accosted maybe even no bicyclists or joggers or skateboards either. Just other folks walking. What would that be like? Heaven I suppose.

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