Daily Archives: August 14, 2012

Philosophy by Limerick – Hot, Throbbing Democracy

“Equine or a pachyderm style?”
Ms. Street Hooker asks with a smile.
“Trickle-down while I wail out
Snatch wallet and bail out!
You won’t want to vote for a while!”

Old Jules

Philosophy by Limerick – Still Scary After All These Years

We miss those damned Marxists, so please
Find Commies behind all the trees!
Ain’t nuthun’ so thrilling
For shouting and shrilling
Ignoring the rot and the sleeze.

Old Jules

Philosophy by Limerick: Natural Non-Commie Fulfillment – Ayn Rand

The guy in the doorway is dead
Not as tough as the one overhead
So she smiles and she greets him
With raised hips she meets him
It’s Darwin, it’s fate; it ain’t RED.

Old Jules

Book Review – Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

If any of you are bored, or maybe a bit ashamed hearing yourselves parrot to one another how much you hate Muslims, or Arabs, or one of the numerous other epithets you apply to people of Semitic ancestry without knowing a damned thing about them, you might find this a cleansing read.  [Long sentence, eh?]

I found it in a ‘free’ box in a thrift store held together by rubber bands, but there’s probably another read left in this copy.  If any of you can’t find a copy and want this one I’ll send it to you, rubber bands and all.

Lawrence was a young Englishman assigned early in WWI to go into the desert and try raising a rebellion among the Beduins against the Turkish Empire.  The allies were having an awful time with those Turks, getting themselves made monkeys of, their cannon-fodder reduced to cannon-fodder without seeing any positive results.  Someone got the idea a revolt in the background might help.

So young Lawrence found himself a camel and headed out to make friends of the tribes, to try arranging dissatisfaction among them.  To offer money, weapons, military advisors, explosives to weaken the back door to pesky Turkey.

Lawrence lived among them several years.  Became trusted by them, successfully stirred them into revolt, led them, came to respect and understand them.  Earned their trust, I should have said, to the extent any representative of a European power could be trusted.  And trusted them in a more-or-less realistic way.

These are his memoirs, his exploits, his observations about the people.  The events that came to be important as an influence on the future running right to the present.  And changed his entire perspective about loyalties, betrayals, patriotism and individual responsibility.

In some ways what happened to Lawrence is reminescent of what the Templars were accused of and slaughtered for by the European powers.  Becoming too familiar, dangerously understanding of the fabled, demonized enemy.

Lawrence could probably offer an Eighth Pillar of Wisdom if he’d survived until today and had a chance to offer his thoughts about what he’d see around him.

A worthy read, worth the rubber bands holding it together.  655 pages with introduction and remarks by his friend, George Bernard Shaw.

Old Jules

Experience and Expectations – For Better or Worse

Hi Readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Humanity’s had a change of heart, expectation-wise, the past few centuries.  Most of us have gotten into the habit of believing everything’s going to get better, one generation to the next.  Which is contrary to the overall historical human experience.

Fact is, once humans organized themselves a step up from savages or barbarians, things usually stayed pretty much the same for the average person.  Sure, the wash and waves added here, subtracted there, but things just didn’t vary enough to notice over the long haul.

Doesn’t much matter where they lived.  Society arranged itself into aristocrats, living as comfortably as they could manage, and peasants/slaves, struggling to get by and keeping the aristocrats in cannon-fodder, food, affluence.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of generations of peasants in Asia, Europe, some of the Americas, some of Africa, muddling along not expecting anything different to pop up to improve things for them.  Maybe more rain, maybe less, maybe the local lord or baron wouldn’t hatch any schemes involving warfare, higher takes of their crops.  Maybe they’d be as warm and no hungrier next year as this.  Peasants didn’t expect to become aristocrats.

And generally the aristocrats didn’t expect any widespread changes, either.  Maybe they’d pick the right side in a fracas or intrigue, get control of more land or peasants, but no general improvements for aristocrats.  No general decline.  Aristocrats didn’t expect to become peasants.

That’s how human society has functioned throughout history once complex social organization came along.  Wasn’t until technology opened things up a bit, the Americas became accessible with a lot of land to take away from the folks who were there, then Africa and Australia, that a wedge was driven into the potential for peasants to become aristocrats.

For a few lifetimes things got better for the average human all over the world.  Got better even for the aristocrats.  And everyone came to expect things to continue to get better.  Lost the old habit of just hoping they wouldn’t get worse.

If stability and general affluence had anything to do with the goals of human beings it might have been possible.  Making sure people everywhere got fed, stayed as warm and healthy as conditions allowed.  Might have been done if it were a priority for anyone, but it never was.

Because human beings have a long history of telling what they expect from life by their actions.  And those actions have nothing at all to do with improving the lives of people beyond the range of whatever they find advantageous to call ‘we’.

Inevitably, this probably means the warp and weave of human expectations will re-stabilize to something more akin to the past.  To things generally staying the same, or getting worse, generation-to-generation.  With the average person just trying to hang on, hoping things won’t get worse.

And the human cadre of aristocrats not much giving a damn whether they get worse for the peasantry, so long as it doesn’t get worse for themselves.

There’s a strong argument to be made it’s how we like it.  How we want it.  How we’ve always wanted it.

Old Jules

Beating Dead Horses – Lynching Poor Old Ayn Rand Again

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I gather from the email forwards that someone’s not satisfied Ayn Rand has been accepted as pathetic enough, wrong enough, dead enough to be left alone.  Subject lines by non-psychiatrists, non-psychologists are taking the trouble to declare her a lunatic.

Poor, sad, bitter woman trapped inside a self yearning for men to be hairier chested, more muscled-up, more knock-em-around, slap-em-down and screw ‘em.  More like the good old days, taking what they want from anyone too weak to keep them from it.

I wonder why they don’t just leave her the hell alone.  The 20th Century had no shortage of miserable, confused people, plenty of them writers, submerged in bitterness and misplaced notions of how it could be better.

In some ways every time Ayn Rand and her wishes come up I find myself thinking of Sylvia Plath, similar in so many ways, but with a different slant on the sort of man Rand longed for:

Daddy   
by Sylvia Plath 

 
You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time–
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You–

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two–
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
12 October 1962
 

But nobody ever bothers dragging Plath up out of the grave and horsewhipping her.  What the hell.

Old Jules