The Iconoclast

Jack wrote this in September 2006. Something to offend everyone, so if you’re sensitive, skip it. I included a couple of comments at the end.

Hi:

Just got back from town, where I noticed again something that’s changed without me noting it.

Time was when Americans used bumper stickers to tell everything about themselves worth knowing.  It was a means of self-expression, definition.  People in the US used bumper stickers to describe the depth and breadth of their thought processes, their tastes in literature and philosophy, everything important about themselves.

“Pro- Choice”  was a telegraphic way to say, “I don’t have a fetus inside me, but if you are unlucky enough to have one I’m rabidly enthusiastic about your right to kill it and flush it down the toilet.”

“Right to Life” – translates:  “I think abortion’s a bad choice and I’d like to kill, or imprison anyone who believes differently. Knitting needles in the bathtub were good enough for grandma and they’re good enough for you.” 

“Support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms”  Translates:  “I like guns a bit overmuch.  I’ve got them and, while I’m a patriot, probably a flag waver and mindless supporter of any unconstitutional war our prez gets us into, I don’t want them taking away muh guns.”

Ban (Firearms)(Handguns)   Translates- “I am an idiot and don’t know it, but I want you to know it.” 

“Support Your Local Police”  Translates:  “I’m either a cop, or I drive 75mph through school zones and figure anything might help.  Either way, don’t trust me.”

“Save the Whales”  Translates:  “I’ve never seen a whale, but I’m hoping this bumper-sticker will help me meet people who have seen them.  Or meet females who haven’t seen whales, either, but who would like to talk about saving them over drinks and maybe have sex afterward.”

“Proud to be an American”  Translates:  “I’m glad I was lucky enough to be born in a country where everyone’s fat, has MasterCard, and can talk in English about what team won the game last night.  I’m most especially proud not to have been born somewhere full of non-English-speaking poor people who are hungry and get the bejesus bombed out of them all the time by us.”

GAY (Pride)(Marriage)(Rights)  Translates:  “I want to tell you what me (the owner of the bumper-sticker  – not, ‘me’, jack) and my friends do with our genitals.  I’m in your face about it because otherwise you mightn’t care.

Anyway, that’s all over with.  Bumper-stickers are dying in favor of the less-literary, shorter-attention-span next-generation.

The brave new world has little magnetic ribbon icons made in China of all different colors.  Each color makes a pronouncement about what the car owner thinks will interest other Americans.  Yellow means support the war (as though a person could pay taxes but not support the troops and the war).  Etc etc etc.

I saw one today, a brown one of those ribbons turned upside-down so the ends stuck out like ears.

“Support Bambi” was printed in the center decorated with two doe-eyes with long lashes..

I’m sorry bumper-stickers went away before I got to see one saying, “You can take my pit-bull when you pry my cold, dead fingers from his snout.”

Jack

I forgot to mention my favorite bumper-sticker:
“WHITEY WILL PAY”

Translates: “There’s maybe more pigment in my skin than some people have. Or maybe not. But I blame all my flaws, inadequacies and shortcomings in my life on what hypothetical dead white males did to my long-dead ancestors. If it hadn’t been for that my life would be a paradise.”
Comment by Rick G
Ha! I like the one of Alfred E. Newman wearing Uncle Sam’s tophat and standing in front of the white house saying, “What, me worry?”
Hi Rick. Thanks for the read and comment.
Brings to mind Lyndon Johnson’s comment on a portrait he’d hired done, “The ugliest thing in the world.”
Lyndon gave himself in that and many other ways, more credit than he deserved, though not by much.
Comment by Rick G
Is that when he lovingly pulled his beagle up off the ground by it’s ears? or is that Lady Bird I’m thinkin’ of?
Comment by justexploring
I’ve never had one – always looked at a bumper sticker as something to cover up a bad scrape on the bumper. I think AAA was about the most controversial one I used.
I love your translations! Original? You are a riot, Jack!
My favorite ones are Florida specific. “Florida, where your vote counts and counts and counts”   A more recent one “Leaving Florida? Take a Developer With You” “Welcome To Florida, Now Go Home!” Now that the clearcoat is peeling off the bumper I was going to put “Proud Blue Voter Living in a Red State” but I need my car in one piece. One cracked me up the other day..wish I could remember it.

Thanks justx.
People oughtn’t leave Florida. Especially not developers. Most particularly they shouldn’t leave it figuring on going where it’s dry and the water runs both directions to reach the ocean.
Jack

Blind-sided by self awareness

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

Interesting, the ways we discover things about ourselves reading forums on the Internet.

Things we know already but maybe hadn’t thought about.

I happened to read Excaliber’s post on one of the threads about how he’d lost a lot of his eyesight a decade or so ago and had to quit reading books.  I’m usually not much moved by forum posts, but that one managed to roll over me by surprise.  Shock and deep sadness until I self-examined why.

Purely an identification/selfish reaction.  I was imposing my own value system on Excaliber, whom I think might be the same person as Lantern used to be (which suspicion caused me to feel an empathy for him I mightn’t have if the same had been posted by a total stranger).

But Excaliber went on to remark on various aspects of the affliction.  He’s handling it a lot better than I might.

He mentioned he daydreams a lot, which I do also and call it meditating.  I used to soul travel a lot, as well, but the joy of it was too seductive.  I got so’s I’d rather be there than here, so I backed away from it most of the time.

Anyway, Excaliber’s post got me thinking about physical sensory input and what a blessing it is.  Even if we could remain alive it’s tempting to believe it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.  Until my mind came across a memory of a book I read once by Helen Keller.  Blind and deaf from birth, she grew to be a model of enthusiasm for life for a couple of generations of Americans.  She took the five-high hand she was dealt and made a straight flush of it without any thought of self-pity or complaint entering the game.

Admirable, but it would surely be a tough gig.

Jack

Cyrano de Bergerac

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

Evening to you:Finished the re-read of Cyrano de Bergerac.  I forget between those readings what a sweet piece of work it is.  It’s it’s good mind-food.  If you prefer, a fine movie was made of it in the ’50s…. might still be available somewhere.  Jose Farrar starred in it as I recall.

Cyrano, a man blessed with the heart of a poet, the courage, pride, physical prowess of a great warrior.  A man the sensitivity and intelligence to recognize the nose too large to qualify as a deformity is just a piece of life, a personal cross to bear without complaint.

A man stares at his nose.

Cyrano:  You may go— or tell me why you are staring at my nose

Meddler.  No.

Cyrano:  Does it astonish you?

Meddler:  Your Grace misunderstands my

Cyrano:  Is it long and soft and dangling like a trunk?

Meddler:  I never said

Cyrano:  Or crooked, like an owl’s beak?  A pimple ornaments the end of it?  Or a fly parading up and down?  What is the portent, this phenomenon?

Meddler:  I have been careful not to look

Cyrano:  And why, if you please?  It disgusts you then?  Does its color appear to you unwholesome?  Or is its form obscene?  Why assume this deprecating manner?  Perhaps you find it just a trifle large?

Meddler:  Not in the least.  Oh, no!  Small, very small, infinitisimol!

Cyrano:  What!  How?  You accuse me of absurdity?  Small-my nose?

Magnificent,, my nose!  You pug, you knob, you button head,

Know that I glory in this nose of mine,

For a great nose indicates a great man.

Genial, courteous, intellectual,

Virile, courageous- as I am- and such

As you, poor wretch, will never dare to be

Even in imagination.  For that face

That blank, inglorious concavity

Which my hand finds now

(He strikes him)

The beautiful Roxanne, whom he loves but never tells, is smitten by the pretty face of young Baron Christian de Neuvillette, a cadet in Cyrano’s regiment of Gasconeers.  Christian’s not a man of words, so during the brief courtship Cyrano writes for him love letters, stands under a balcony whispering to him what to say to Roxanne to win her heart and her hand.

Earlier, by a series of mistaken communications, Cyrano was led to hope it was he Roxanne’s heart chose.  Then, after a resounding shock as she unknowingly confided her love of Christian, she leaves:

His friend, Le Bret, cautions him he’s making too many enemies.

Le Bret:  Alone, yes!  But why stand against the world?  What devil has possessed you now, everywhere making yourself enemies?

Cyrano:  Watching  other people making friends everywhere as a dog makes friends!  I mark the manner of these canine courtesies and think:  “My friends are of a cleaner breed;  Here comes – thank God! – another enemy!”

Le Bret:  But this is madness!

Cyrano:  Method, let us say.  It is my pleasure to displease.  I love hatred.  Imagine how it feels to face the volley of a thousand angry eyes, the bile of envy and the froth of fear spattering little drops about me.  I hold myself erect perforce, wearing the hatred of the common herd.

Le Bret:  (After a silence, draws Cyrano’s arm through his own.)  Yes. Tell this to all the world – and then to me say very softly that . . . She loves you not.

Much later, he’s fatally injured.  Near death:

Cyrano:  I can see him there.  He grins.  He is looking at my nose, that skeleton. (To Death):  What’s that you say?  Hopeless?  Why, very well!  But a man does not fight merely to win!  No, no, better to know one fights in vain!  You there – Who are you?  A hundred against one.  I know them now, my ancient enemies – (He lunges at the empty air.)

Falsehood! There!  There!  Prejudice!  Compromise!  Cowardice!  (Thrusting)

Surrender, you say?  Never!  Never!

Ah, you too, Vanity!  I knew you would overthrow me in the end.

No!  I fight on.  I fight on!  I fight on!.  (He swings the blade in great circles, then pauses gasping.)

Old Edmond Rostand managed to write that thing without ever even knowing me. Felt middling strange reading it, though I imagine when I read it previous times it felt equally strange.

Jack

Ask Old Jules: Dating, Responsible humans, Idiots, Charitable foundations, Separation from natural instincts

IMG_0041

Old Jules, what’s it like going on a date with somebody who gives you insane butterflies?

It’s like crawling underneath a house because you smell something dead under there and when you get near it hearing a rattlesnake somewhere above where your feet are. Evidently on one of the floor joists between you and the opening you came through.

Old Jules, do you believe human beings will never ever take full responsibility for their lives?

Responsible people take responsibility for their own lives. Irresponsible people don’t. In fact, people who don’t take responsibility for their own lives usually become absorbed in what the people around them do so’s to distract themselves from what’s wrong in their own lives they ought to be taking responsibility for.

Old Jules, how do you convince an idiot that he is an idiot?

One of the possibilities is that, of the two of you, he’s not the idiot.

Old Jules, if you could set up a charitable foundation, who would it benefit?

I’d lean to something to provide food and shelter for people living in dumpsters and under bridges. But if there was plenty for that as well as for a non-profit research foundation I’d fund a lot of research into areas the science parrots have declared impossible and unworthy of examination.

Old Jules, do you think people are too separated from natural instinct?

I think probably a lot of merit in what you’ve said, but not necessarily on the parts you’ve focused on. Seems to me a lot of the disfranchisement today might be a product of people going their entire lives never having witnessed anything they consumed as a meal while it was a live. Not once knew what was the color of the hair on an animal they ate. Never planted, nurtured and harvested a single food item that made part of any meal. This is something fairly recent in human history and runs contrary to the entire body of human experience except in the cases of royalty and aristocracy. Hardly a wonder so many people are so lost, even with that tiny piece of what they experience in life. Hardly a wonder their priorities are wokkyjawed and they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing with themselves.

 

The steamroller

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

Mike’s moving blog entry about the threat to online gambling and how removal of the right to do it will touch his life tells a far larger story than his own experience and the threat to his own well-being.

Mike correctly points out, “This online gambling prohibition goes over the top.”

The problem is that the historical, psychological and political processes leading to relieving the citizenry of the choices and responsibilities for freedom aren’t going to stop because they arrived at anyone’s doorstep.

In the 1970s, for instance, the Baptists cheered and gave all manner of support when Governor Dolph Briscoe ordered the closure of the Chicken Ranch, a whorehouse institution that had survived with the tacit approval of politicians and law enforcement officials for 3/4ths of a century.

However, the Baptists felt a lot less enthusiasm when the Texas Rangers, operating under the orders of the same Texas Governor, kicked down the door of a private home and arrested a well-known Baptist evangelist and a number of church elders during a Thursday night poker game.

That went over the top, they believed.

Jealously guarding the freedoms of others we disagree with is a tough pill to swallow.  But it’s the only way we can assure our own will remain intact.

Jack

Words about terrorism you won’t find elsewhere

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

Question:  Ever thought about the intentions of terrorists?

Answer:  By definition, the purpose of terrorism is to instill terror, panic.

Question:  Ever asked yourself what terrorists hope to accomplish in the target nation?

Answer:  The terrorist assumes the result of his efforts and sacrifices will be in damages far beyond the immediate physical damage to property, injury and death caused by his actions.  He knows he can only kill a millionth or so of the metropolitan population he attacks, at best.  He knows the property damage and injury will be comparatively microscopic.

What the terrorist hopes for is on a far grander scale.  He hopes in their panic the target population will behave rashly.  He hopes they’ll alter their lifestyles, give up their freedoms, and live in terror that he’ll do it again.  Sacrifice what they are and what they have as a result of the fear he caused.

Question:  Ever considered what assumptions the terrorist makes about the population of the country being attacked?

Answer:  The terrorist assumes his target population consists of decadent cowards.  Inherent in his assumptions rests the ordinarily idiotic belief the citizens of the nation he attacks are stupid enough to feel a general threat behind the miniscule damages he causes.

It’s never worked until now.

Even in France, where the gene-pool for physical and moral courage has been systematically culled by the guillotine during the Revolution, by Napoleon I on the steppes of Russia, by Napoleon II supporting the Emperor Max in Mexico, in the trenches during WWI, by the equatorial prisons, so there was nothing left by 1940, except Marshall Petain and general collaboration with the German invaders.

Even in France, I was going to say, terrorism didn’t work.

France and other European nations were under full-scale terrorist attack for almost 40 years and they never abdicated their freedoms, never sold out their convenience to travel, never fortified their national borders.  The Europeans didn’t spend that forty years wringing their hands in despair and fear.

The terrorists sacrificed themselves for nothing.  Their terrorism didn’t work in Europe.

Meanwhile, the US was spared terrorist attacks during all those years.  Presumably, potential terrorists believed the US population, unique among the Western nations, could not be cowed.  Could not be terrorized.  Could not be intimidated into changing what they were by the microscopic threats terrorists could expect to introduce.

Then came Nine-One-One.

What a shock it must have been for them to see their dreams come true.

What a surprise to see the wrong assumptions they’d made all those years about Europeans were all true.

All true with Americans.

Jack

Trivia

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

Morning to you.

Jeanne loaned me a few movies to watch, so I viewed one and parts of another last night.

Weird stuff going on out there in the movie world.  One of them was named, Willow, one of those flicks.  I’d call it a sort of kids movie, and adventure/romance/fantasy of sorts.

It qualifies as unusual enough to keep a person watching.  It’s a fairly stock plot moving around in the background with heroes, bad queens, sorcerers, monsters, baby-royalty having to be hidden and those protecting her going through all manner of dangers and whatnot.

But the thing that kept me watching was the characters.  This movie has a main character and a lot of secondary characters who are shorter in physical stature than the average human being.  Secondly, the dogs used for hunting and killing weren’t dogs at all, but appeared to be wart-hogs.

Otherwise, I’d rate it fairly weak, with a strong plus for imaginative in setting.

The other I partly watched was The Big Sleep, with Bogie and Lauren Bacall.  No point in me saying much about it, except watching it completely through’s on my priority list of things to do.  I haven’t seen it in a number of years and I’d forgotten how fine it is.

She also loaned me 12 Oclock High, which I also haven’t seen in a few decades.  I’m generally able to get a lot of enjoyment out of movies involving airplanes only big enough for a couple or four people to get inside, so I think it might be hokey, this one, but still worth a couple of hours watching.

Also been pondering what piece of written work on the bookshelves I’m gonna re-read next.  I’ve about milked The Songlines dry for the time being, though I’m still thinking about various aspects of it and might make another blog entry or two about permutations and thoughts still coming out of it.

Poking and prodding around the bookcases my hand came on The Sibyl, by Par Lagerkvist, as a possibility, My Name is Aram, by William Soroyan, which was the first book that wasn’t mostly pictures that I ever read.  Neither of them demanded I begin an immediate re-reading, so I kept looking after pulling them down from the shelf and stacking them near to hand.

I’m thinking Cyrano de Bergerac, by Rostand. The Confessions, by Rousseau, The Decameron, by Boccaccio, and The Big Sky, by A.B. Guthrie, are going to have to fight it out to see who gets the next re-reading.

They’re all stacked over there close at hand on top of My Name is Aram and The Sibyl.  I think I’m leaning to Cyrano at the moment, but I’ll see how the mood strikes me when I’m feeling I need to think about something besides random numbers.

Jack

Ask Old Jules: Inventions by God, Do Aliens exist, Accepting or Opposing, Why misery loves company

JackTownResized

Old Jules, why does no-one think god made all the inventions known to man?

If god invented the grapefruit spoon he’d have done it before billions of people got grapefruit juice squirted into their eyes over the generations. The grapefruit spoon defies the will of god.

Old Jules, how one would touch the feelings of his emotions?

One would extend a claw and pluck the harp strings of his being, initially. Then one would blow the trombone and work the slide of his physical needs.

Old Jules, are there such thing as aliens?

I believe the nearest a person can come to an answer involves investigating the best available information. 100 or so elderly people who were involved in the ‘Roswell incident’ in 1947 were interviewed by two investigators and recorded their statements. Some were deathbed statements. Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-Year Cover-Up [Paperback] Thomas J. Carey (Author) http://www.amazon.com/Witness-Roswell-Un… A number of witnesses interviewed were among those who guarded the carcasses of the creatures recovered from the site, observed the attempted autopsies, handled the carcasses or were otherwise near them. The descriptions of them were all in concert with one another. Last year I spent four hours interviewing Loretta Proctor, the mother of Dee Proctor, the 7 year old from the adjoining ranch who was present at the time the site was found. She was the wife of the neighboring rancher. She’s 95 now and still has vivid recollections of the incident and everything related to it. Nothing she said contradicted anything in the book and she confirmed much of what was documented there. Yeah, I believe aliens visited earth at least once.

Old Jules, are you accepting or oppositional?

Accepting is internal. I never deliberately accept anything without careful examination and reflection. Opposition is outwardly directed. I almost never bother opposing anything and never oppose anything deliberately unless it insists on being opposed by stepping on something fragile inside my boundaries.

Old Jules, why does Misery always want company?

It’s the nature of negativity. It wants to be reinforced and find justification for itself.

Songlines reflections

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0001-2.jpg

More on Bruce Chatwin’s, The Songlines.I’ve completed the general re-reading of the Chatwin book I told you a bit about a few entries ago.  Now I’m doing a bit of a mop-up, studying and pondering segments.Chatwin’s main pursuits were archeology and paleontology.  However, he dovetailed into this a lifelong study of aboriginals and nomadic people.

This combination of circumstance and interest led him to investigate a number of fundamental questions about the human condition, and the human being as a biological creature.  Inevitably, some of these questions borderline on philosophy.

For instance, Chatwin’s detachment from modern man allowed him to see with stark clarity some of the fundamental differences between humans and almost every other species in the animal kingdom.  He was present at the time when discoveries of earliest man were being investigated in Africa.  He participated in the quest to learn everything possible about the lives and lifestyles of those earliest humans

In our early schooling we all discussed, considered, and were instructed on matters of how man is unique from animals.  Interestingly, the most obvious difference between human beings and almost every other species is that man kills his own kind. I don’t recall them dwelling on that trait in school.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens does so deliberately, routinely, and sometimes systematically.  He almost never does so as a source of nourishment.  In this regard, humans are almost unique among animals.  Entirely unique among ‘higher’ animals.

Chatwin wondered precisely when, and why, this singular trait revealed itself in early men.  He even examines it from the Biblical perspective of Cain and Abel.  He explores it as a possible result of the great schism of humanity, the shift by fragments from a nomadic lifestyle to an agricultural, static one.

Interestingly, Chatwin and others in their field don’t know when men began slaughtering other men.  Professor Raymond Dart’s work in the caves of South Africa, suggesting the earliest inter-species killing began with Australopithicus was discredited when more sophisticated forensic techniques were developed.  The remains Dart attributed to homicide and cannibalism were almost entirely the work of a particular large predatory cat species with a preference for human meat.

In the end, no one knows when humans began the routine and often systematic slaughter of other humans.  We only know it was an awfully long time ago.

Chatwin argues it began when men ceased being nomads and the concept of material property and possession emerged.  He makes a good case that the further humans traveled the paths of ownership, ease, wealth and static civilization, the more they wielded the sword, the guillotine, the whip, and the chains.

Jack

Thriving in the US Circa 2006

Jack wrote this in August, 2006:

How to stay out of trouble in the USAcquainting yourself with behaviors to avoid:

Study the Mormon religion.

  • You don’t have to adopt the spiritual tenets of that religion, but if you understand everything the religion forbids and don’t do anything forbidden by it you can depend on staying out of jail and living through your life as a healthier person than you’d have been if you hadn’t done so.
  • However, you’d be well advised not to actually become a Mormon. Although it hasn’t happened in recent times, Mormons have a long history of being persecuted, threatened, having their property destroyed and confiscated, being beaten, raped, murdered and generally hated by Christians.
  • Getting yourself too closely associated with the Church of the Latter Day Saints is the opposite of ‘prudent’ behavior.  Also, just to be on the safe side, stay away from Jews and blacks, too.

 

So the second avoidance behavior to adopt toward living a healthy, free life:

Do nothing to get crosswise with Christians.

  • This will probably require you to adopt some behaviors you mightn’t have chosen for yourself, but it will help assure you remain free within the context of what’s left of freedom once all that other is removed.
  • Support the political party that’s currently in power and call it patriotism.
  • Wear a red white and blue tee-shirt so other Americans will know you’re one, also.
  • Keep track of the daily news. Know who the enemies of your country (the political party in power) are, and be vocal in your hatred of those enemies. Even (especially) if the enemies of the State happen to be citizens of this nation. If you know such people, isolate yourself from them.
  • Denounce them to the authorities.  Spy on them and watch for any evidence they might be potential terrorists, drug lords, or online gamblers.

Generally speaking, the behaviors I’ve described worked well in Nazi Germany, the USSR, Post-Shaw Iran, Iraq under the late-dictator, Red China, North Korea, and other countries of like mind.

They ought to serve you well here, no matter how bad things get, so long as the leaders aren’t from Cambodia.

Jack