Thursday, July 24, 2008
Sitting in front of the computer, staring at climbing equipment, canyoneering gear - Ropes and harnesses and carabiners and dreams of great distances. Expanses of Earth, cliffs rising distant above, roost for falcons and hopes. Great emptinesses of rock dropping away, below and into the side of a mountain hundreds of feet, into the depths of man's own dreams.
Drinking in the caffeinated hopes, the clouded formations of a mind numbed by optimism. The alcohol an attempt to starve off the gnawing hope, and inability to be broken. Opening up the man to his own defeat, breaking him of the rotten-toothed grinning hope given to the world. Maybe just a little more and he can fall on his torn hands, rest his broken feet on his knees, and give in to the greatest desire - The desire to give up. Weepingly, joyfully, bloody mouthed and empty eyed, letting go of everything.
But booze leaves the bloodstream by morning, and stubborn hope lingers. Dreams and optimism snap and bite at the heels of demons, driving them back for another day. Another sunshine to shadow run of silent, determined, fight against the pain of hope, and desolation of despair. The sun shines a hopeful sorrow onto the dreamer, and he hunts for happiness in the shadows of weakness and despair. Goodness might feel awful, and awfulness might feel good, but in the world in between, a dreamer cant make up his mind.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Hands deep in the knots of her back
a touch that burned him
he flushed from the collar down
His faith was built in her muscles
a temple of strong flesh
weak and torn below his hands
or was it he that was weak and torn above his temple?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
and found them too great
too far distant
and too cold for his love
Maybe they already died
their long traveling light
a long road of lies
Returning to his typewriter
he wrote strong women
wrote the love he had to give
Carving the women he wanted
from the emptiness of a page
For lack of a craft
he wrote mythology
personal and cutting
Until he bled as redly
as he had quietly
for everyone to see
apologies to all those he loved
veiled in his words, a need to be touched by them
in their criticisms and appreciation
He wrote to them
counting the stars
naming them to love
for everyone who would listen
and love in return
But set free his words were not him
and he went to bed alone
Cold in his death
as they basked in the light he'd cast
He went to bed
with the names of all the unseen stars
dancing in his head
Sunday, July 13, 2008
People being strangled move a great deal usually - The fight, and struggle, and finally writhe before their muscles begin to starve and fail from lack of oxygen. At some point they pass out, unable to move having fought to muscle failure, and shortly there-after they die. This is not a pretty death, nor a quiet one. This man held his daughter's body, supported her weight by the power cord wrapped around her throat, through the fighting, struggling and writhing, until she died in his arms. He did it willingly, and probably of sane mind, because he comes from a culture in which women are property, nothing more and nothing less, and an archaic, medieval idea of family honor is more important than love and life.
This man is not alone - There have been others like him in this country, and many more in the Middle East. There are more still who will never get the opportunity to kill a female family member, but would not hesitate to do so for similarly "dishonorable" behavior. They are, in my opinion, savages. There is nothing redeeming about that culture and I refuse to acknowledge it as worthy of my attentions. Nothing anyone has to say can change my mind - A culture that imposes that kind of tyranny on women, and then kills them for merely disagreeing with it; A culture which has so little respect for, value for, the most beautiful and essential element of our species,; A culture of sexual repression with such little respect for life and the human right* is one I want nothing to do with, unless I can be instrumental in its destruction.
On the home front, from the less extreme sector of the faithful, I commonly hear a cry that one of the biggest problems with this country is our supposed "sexual immorality". Unfortunately what these folks commonly see as "immorality" is merely sexual freedom - An existence without fear of sexuality and the freedom to express it.
I fully believe many people are incredibly stupid about sex - Particularly those who use it as a means to debase themselves and others with meaningless strings of one night stands, unprotected encounters and the like. Such "slutty" behavior, among both sexes, is frankly disgusting, and it takes a pretty stupid, or hateful (of self and others) person to indulge in those behaviors repeatedly. I have in the past, and have very little desire to do so in the future - Because I know just how much it can bite you in the ass, and while I've been quite lucky the small taste of that I've had was more than enough. It takes a special kind of person to do that repeatedly. That said, such stupidity is everyones natural born right. If we want people to be smarter than that, the answer is not legislation, moralization or other "sweep it under the rug" efforts, the answer is education.
We have a nation where-in the primary type of sex education provided for our children is "Abstinence Only" programs, where-in nothing is truly explained about the "birds and the bees" or the human body, but students are repeatedly admonished against the evils of sex, and encourages to make pledges of abstinence until marriage. Abstinence Only programs rarely teach about proper methods for condom use, much-less spermicidal lubricants, morning after pills or birth control. Taking the attitude that "This program cannot fail, so those things wont be needed" such vita information is ignored. The end result? Human beings, with all the natural urges and desires of human beings, who have not only no idea what they are getting themselves into, but often a very bad idea of the reality of it as fueled by that unique combination of pop-media and government sponsored non-education. So, they do what natural, functional, human beings have always done since the beginning of time, and they have sex - Without condoms, knowledge regarding STD's, birth control or any other safety measures. Viola - Teenagers with STI/STD's, babies and more than a few truly bad experiences and/or bad habits contributing to repeated incidents of excess, dangerous, promiscuity.
Sex is an amazing thing - Not just for how it makes you feel, but for the power it has in the human body and psyche. It is an inescapable force of our lives, in fact of the very survival of our species. Simply telling our young "Dont do this" doesnt cut it. If anything, it makes it more taboo and thus more appealing and the greater appeal and lesser knowledge contributes to more problems.
Among adults, unmarried couples having sex, homosexuality and pornography are common examples of so-called "immorality". I quite honestly have no where to begin or end with the unmarried sex issue - Stupid sex with random people is a stupid idea, but as far as I am concerned two people who are in love and committed to one another having sex with or without a piece of notarized paper and/or the blessing of a minister is just fine and dandy. Frankly, it is the most human of behaviors, the most innate and vital of our social actions. It is the one behavior, above all others, which ensures the survival of our species. In a world where the cultures of marriage have become so polluted with argument, murder (see above), and failure resulting from bad judgment, community over-pressure and sheer ignorance (see lack of education) it is no wonder many people who are truly loving and committed dont want to get married. It is not the natural state of human affairs - It is a religiously, culturally, meddled with minefield, an institution which says the body is permanently property - First of a higher power, and then of the spouse until death. What part of that sounds loving? None of it.
On the count of homosexuality - We need to get over ourselves. With a world population approaching 7 Billion at an alarming rate, we have to ask if we really need more breeders. The fact that some members of our species are attracted to and desire those of the same sex is beautiful on two fronts - First, any two people who can find love with one another, even for a short time, in this world are far closer to divinity than a legion of straight, hate spewing, couples, and secondly, anyone who isnt reproducing themselves, who has a way of life that includes living and loving while in the end actually returning resources to the pool, is doing the world as a whole a service. This is not immorality - It is love, and societal contribution (never mind the possibility of actually being a genetic device for population control).
The fact that many of these people get pleasure from looking at, or producing, visual depictions of the sex acts they favor is similarly a non-issue, in the grand scheme. We like to look at one another, particularly if we find an attractive example of the opposite sex. We responds to visual cues indicating prime mating potential, and enjoy the experience of seeing someone attractive. It is of vital importance to our species that we be able to develop perception of good mates and attractive qualities. Stimulation and endorphin release from viewing attractive people has been shown to actually improve concentration and task-performance as well. Pornography like so many other things can be used or abused - Some couples use it as a stimulus and performance enhancer for an active and vital sex life, others use it as a means to access fantasies or desires otherwise inaccessible. Like alcohol, addictions and abuse do happen - But the issue is not a national immorality, it is an immorality of individual self control. In a culture where no one believes they have to be responsible for anything (the government told them just follow directions, you'll be fine - just "dont do it", you dont need to know about it), why do we act surprised when people abuse the small pleasures?
We live in a world were a woman can be killed for disagreeing with an elder male in her family, because she didnt like being given like less than livestock to a man she had never met, to be used (and possibly abused) by him as if she were merely property. That is sexual immorality. The repression and abuse of sexuality and love. And this is not something to which Middle Eastern culture has entire domain.
Through our mis-education of our youth, our conflicted messages regarding the human body, sex and sexuality via education and the media, there exists in this country a similar tyranny of sexual repression.
No culture in which women are told they were in control of their bodies, lives and sexuality has ever fallen victim to honor killings.
No culture in which men and women were allowed to love who they wished to love, as they wished to love, has suffered hate and bigotry based assaults, rapes and murders.
No culture in which men and women are given the knowledge necessary to know and understand their bodies, and the risks to them, and the freedom in which to apply this knowledge as they see fit has suffered the extremes of broken families, sexually transmitted illnesses or sexual-confusion driven violence.
No culture in which women are told they are in control, in which men and women are allowed to love as they desire, in which people are educated about their bodies and their health, in which people can find non-judgmental, relaxed and supportive appreciation of their true (nude) form, or that of someone like them, has ever run into these kinds of problems on this kind of scale.
Or so we can guess - Because frankly, no culture like this truly exists in any widespread fashion, merely in small, isolated, and rather interstitial, pockets.
This is not our culture - Our culture is one which is being invaded, and ordered to cow down to, a culture which supports the idea of women as property and honor killings. And in the face of this, we promote a Luddite view of sexuality, ignorance over education, mixed messages of obscene false sexuality and sexual image in the mass media contrasted with our educational system's supposed "values" on that subject.
That is the face of immorality. The puritanism with which we still regard sex, the tyranny of advertising and music videos which promote unrealistic images and expectations , and the combination there of which leave people (particularly the most important generation) absolutely spinning, directionless, and horribly ignorant in the face of biology and the cruelty of human nature.
(* Without sidetracking to much, I refer to the human right, or an individual overarching human right instead of human rights because I really only believe in one, feeling that it encompasses all the others - The right to try, un-interfered with [within reason]).
Among my favorite of these singer-songwriter-eccentrics is Nick Cave. An Aussie noted for his darkness and challenging material, Cave doesnt always rub me quite the right way - some of his stylings leave me cold at times - when he does strike a chord with me, he strikes it quite well. A large bit of his work, both with his bands the Bad Seeds and Grinderman and as a solo artist, is quite important to me. In a lot of ways for its darkness - This in an area in which I am more comfortable than many - but also because he has an ability to see both darkness and light as indivorcable parts of the same whole. That, more than many things, is important to me in art. But Cave is not all darkness and foul-mouthed, blood stained, rants at the world. he has a depth of understanding and lyrical ability beyond just darkness, or just the contrast of dark to light.
On top of this, Cave is a talented musician, a unique vocalist and a fantastic songwriter. His lyrical ability as a writer is often second to none - No one else I have heard writes song's like Nick Cave. Very few other writers of any ilk are as deep, and draw on such diverse influences as Cave. who can draw on the Bible, Milton, American folk traditions and modern crime reports all in the space of a refrain.
Lyrically and musically this is one of my favorite Cave songs - It is powerfully evocative, a strong image of place is conveyed in bot the lyrics and the music, and it features some of the best Cave writing around - "My piano crouched in the corner of the room wit all its teeth bared"
Cave also has a small obsession/inspirational attachment to American folk and blues music and does some very nice renditions (covers is a stretch, as he tends to take the raw thing and make it his own) of these songs. Although his version of Stagger Lee leaves a lot to be desired, his 500 Miles is one of my favorite versions.
So lonesome I Could Cry
Cave has also worked with a variety of major and influential musicians, singers and writers. He appeared on Johnny Cash's American IV album, after having covered Cash's The Folk Singer previously.
Cave, for all his debauchery, violence and drunken revelry offers up some surprises from time to time as well. For example, his introduction to the British publisher Canongate's single volumn copy of the Gospel of Mark. An odd turn from the surface impression of the man via some of his lyrics, this introduction only further confirms Cave's depth of knowledge and vision behind his songwriting.
Introduction to the Gospel of Mark, by Nick Cave
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
His ideas and sentiment are, needless to say, a little different from what has risen to the top in modern Australia. Lawson was a nationalist, and advocated in his writing for a strong Australia, and armed Australian populace. Some have cried foul, calling his writing's fascist or racist - These twits fail to realize that Lawson did not come from a world of government enforced equality, half-caf soy chai latte's, and celebrated diversity, he came from a much rougher, hard-scrabble place and time. I see him far more as a grand example of settlers attitudes on national strength and defense in the colonial years of Australia.
Poems of Henry Lawson
As Far As Your Rifles Cover
Do you think, you slaves of a thousand years to poverty, wealth and pride,
You can crush the spirit that has been free in a land that's new and wide?
When you've scattered the last of the farmer bands, and the war for a while is over,
You will hold the land – ay, you'll hold the land – the land that your rifles cover.
Till your gold has levelled each mountain range where a wounded man can hide,
Till your gold has lighted the moonless night on the plains where the rebels ride;
Till the future is proved, and the past is bribed from the son of the land's dead lover –
You may hold the land – you may hold the land just as far as your rifles cover.
EveryMan Should Own A Rifle
So I sit and write and ponder, while the house is deaf and dumb,
Seeing visions "over yonder" of the war I know must come.
In the corner - not a vision - but a sign for coming days
Stand a box of ammunition and a rifle in green baize.
And in this, the living present, let the word go through the land,
Every tradesman, clerk and peasant should have these two things at hand.
No - no ranting song is needed, and no meeting, flag or fuss -
In the future, still unheeded, shall the spirit come to us!
Without feathers, drum or riot on the day that is to be,
We shall march down, very quiet, to our stations by the sea.
While the bitter parties stifle every voice that warns of war,
Every man should own a rifle and have cartridges in store!
How the Land was Won
The future was dark and the past was dead
As they gazed on the sea once more –
But a nation was born when the immigrants said
"Good-bye!" as they stepped ashore!
In their loneliness they were parted thus
Because of the work to do,
A wild wide land to be won for us
By hearts and hands so few.
The darkest land 'neath a blue sky's dome,
And the widest waste on earth;
The strangest scenes and the least like home
In the lands of our fathers' birth;
The loneliest land in the wide world then,
And away on the furthest seas,
A land most barren of life for men –
And they won it by twos and threes!
With God, or a dog, to watch, they slept
By the camp-fires' ghastly glow,
Where the scrubs were dark as the blacks that crept
With "nulla" and spear held low;
Death was hidden amongst the trees,
And bare on the glaring sand
They fought and perished by twos and threes –
And that's how they won the land!
It was two that failed by the dry creek bed,
While one reeled on alone –
The dust of Australia's greatest dead
With the dust of the desert blown!
Gaunt cheek-bones cracking the parchment skin
That scorched in the blazing sun,
Black lips that broke in a ghastly grin –
And that's how the land was won!
Starvation and toil on the tracks they went,
And death by the lonely way;
The childbirth under the tilt or tent,
The childbirth under the dray!
The childbirth out in the desolate hut
With a half-wild gin for nurse –
That's how the first were born to bear
The brunt of the first man's curse!
They toiled and they fought through the shame of it –
Through wilderness, flood, and drought;
They worked, in the struggles of early days,
Their sons' salvation out.
The white girl-wife in the hut alone,
The men on the boundless run,
The miseries suffered, unvoiced, unknown –
And that's how the land was won.
No armchair rest for the old folk then –
But, ruined by blight and drought,
They blazed the tracks to the camps again
In the big scrubs further out.
The worn haft, wet with a father's sweat,
Gripped hard by the eldest son,
The boy's back formed to the hump of toil –
And that's how the land was won!
And beyond Up Country, beyond Out Back,
And the rainless belt, they ride,
The currency lad and the ne'er-do-well
And the black sheep, side by side;
In wheeling horizons of endless haze
That disk through the Great North-west,
They ride for ever by twos and by threes –
And that's how they win the rest.
"The only society I like is that which is rough and tough - and the tougher the better. That's where you get down to bedrock and meet human people.” Robert W. Service 1874 - 1958
The March of the Dead
The cruel war was over -- oh, the triumph was so sweet!
We watched the troops returning, through our tears;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet glittering street,
And you scarce could hear the music for the cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags that flew between;
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the Queen,
And the glory of an age was passing by.
And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
"Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming -- it's the Army of the Dead."
They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn't hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-flecked lips!
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody finger tips!
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!
"They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't stop
On this, our England's crowning festal day;
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of Spion Kop,
Colenso -- we're the men who had to pay.
We're the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our pain,
And cheer us as ye never cheered before."
The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighted with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands -- oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then -- it was a dream.
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.
Can you recall, dear comrade, when we tramped God's land together,
And we sang the old, old Earth-song, for our youth was very sweet;
When we drank and fought and lusted, as we mocked at tie and tether,
Along the road to Anywhere, the wide world at our feet --
Along the road to Anywhere, when each day had its story;
When time was yet our vassal, and life's jest was still unstale;
When peace unfathomed filled our hearts as, bathed in amber glory,
Along the road to Anywhere we watched the sunsets pale?
Alas! the road to Anywhere is pitfalled with disaster;
There's hunger, want, and weariness, yet O we loved it so!
As on we tramped exultantly, and no man was our master,
And no man guessed what dreams were ours, as, swinging heel and toe,
We tramped the road to Anywhere, the magic road to Anywhere,
The tragic road to Anywhere, such dear, dim years ago.
There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.
An "atheist" (who doesnt like the term), he's been writing for the Washington Post's On Faith column occasionally for awhile now, which I just discovered, and in reading his archives I came across the following and quite liked it;
"September 11th, 2001, the day that nineteen pious men showed our pious nation just how beneficial religious certainty can be." Sam HarrisFood for thought.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Going to college, surrounded by the young, fiery and easily influenced (or as my father would say; young, dumb and full of cum) I hear a lot of sentiment one way and another from my fellows. But one of the ones which consistently disturbs me is the old "I hate America" line. I really think the next well fed, well bred, affluent snot nose who says that around me is going to get busted in the mouth. Wont stop him from saying it - thats his right in this nation he hates - but I'll voice my opinion in return. It's not that I always agree with the current administration - Dont recall as I ever have, nor do I ever expect to - or even like them in the least. But I am fond of this country. The country is more than the actions of the sitting government, more than the ignorance of its citizens, more than the force of its commercialism. It is an idea - A shining, golden, god damned idea that we've made work longer than anyone else who's tried it recently. That counts for something. Dont like it? Leave it. Stop using its resources and go elsewhere. Particularly if you are a college student - Dont like this country? Dont believe in its ideals? Dont feel like its worth working on? Then why in the world would you want to get an education here?
Thats where I draw the line and separate myself - I am fundamentally disappointed in my country. I love, not hate, it, and am fundamentally disappointed in it. I am disappointed because of the ignorance of its citizens, the blindness and greediness of its leadership, and the "moral decline" of it all. Not moral decline in the popular sense, not in the "fags roaming the streets, teens getting pregnant, sex on TV" sense of moral decline - The decline in the ethos and morality that was written into the nations founding documents, the decline in the belief in and adherence to those ideals. That is a moral decline - Not homosexuality, not tits on the television, not a decline in faith and church attendance - The sheer pig-fucking ignorance with which we have come to do damn near everything we do as a nation; Vote, Shop, Educate, and Believe. And that is exactly why I am disappointed in my country - Exactly why I love it - Exactly why I want to get an education from it: Because revulsion has power here, spending money has power here, education has power here, voting has power here. It may be tarnished, it may be dim, but it has power still. And it will continue to do so until the very last person has given up on voting, settled into the ignorance of letting judges make law, and thrown their library card out with the rest of the trash in favor of whats on the History channel.
Dont like that? Dont want to fight for it? Thats fine. No one asked you to. Please, be our guest and go elsewhere. Go settle somewhere that is willing to carry your burden of choice for you, that will give you all the knowledge you need to live within its idealogical framework (but no more, and none that is uncomfortable or disquieting), and will protect you from the unpleasantries of history and responsibility.
“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”