I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the world lately.
Can you hear the quiet?
This serious thinking isn’t a new thing for me. This bout of thinking began with the drug induced suicide of a rock star. I’m referring to it as drug induced because we’ll never really know and the fact is that those kinds of drugs can cause those kinds of thoughts, so, I think, in this case, give it the benefit of the doubt. Still though, I couldn’t figure out what it was about it that bothered me so much, I mean, I didn’t know Chris Cornell personally. I realized that it was that it felt like something of a betrayal, not that he owed any of us anything. But it felt like he was fifty-two years old and he had everything, he’d made it through when many of his contemporaries hadn’t, and, how dare he bail out, this icon of my generation. But then, remembering, it was probably the drugs. Then Powers Boothe died, but, he died in his sleep at sixty-eight years old and the general consensus seemed to be, “Good show!” Then a bomb went off at a concert, where kids where watching a former Nickelodeon star turned pop-princess perform, the bomb killed twenty-two people, the youngest victim of the Manchester Attack was eight years old. Then Greg Allman died. Then it was June. This week the President of the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and everyone lost their nut over it. If you’ve not read the agreement or anything about it and you’re interested in having an informed opinion, you should read it, and try to understand what it says and means, that’s my advice on having an opinion, take the time to educate yourself to figure what you actually think about whatever it is. At this point in the proceedings the internet became incredibly noisy.
Can you hear the quiet?
I got to thinking about some things, I’d been thinking about some things anyway.
Everyone is talking. No one is listening. Everyone has an opinion. Despite that, the first thing that I saw when I logged onto facebook was a post that read, “FUCK NO. Not again.” I haven’t read all the details of the latest incident in London. I’d gone out, to get some air, to get some quiet. To think. Despite my having gone out, and despite my sharing my thoughts on any number of things in the last day or so, this latest attack in London still occurred. Despite the multitude of opinions and thoughts offered up by everyone about everything, these things still happened, and they still happen.
Can you hear the quiet?
I know that venting and opinionating and ranting and all of that, can be a great stress reliever. You read this stuff, you hear about it, you’ve got something to say because it’s getting to you or everyone, you’ve been sitting in traffic for too long, or dealing with rude people or you feel helpless and powerless and it seems like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and enough already! ENOUGH! The internet gets very loud with people saying, in their own ways, “Enough.” I understand that. I do. I’ve been sucked into that storm many times. It can make it tough to hear yourself think.
Are you free?
Are you a free person, a person who enjoys freedom? Is your mind free, have you freed your mind?
What does that even mean?
I was thinking about the Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army. Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and would become the first Emperor of China. The Terracotta Warriors are life-size sculptures depicting his army, his whole army. Each one is different, they were not cast from a single mold. They were buried with him, along with many treasures, in order to protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang believed that “Yes, you can take it with you” and he believed it, they believed it, so completely that he replicated his entire army in these terracotta statues, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, cavalry horses, as well as many other figures and statues. The scope of it is truly stunning, completely breathtaking, to contemplate.
My fascination with this subject isn’t new. I happen to have a Terracotta Warrior of my very own. I should name him. I’ll think about that.
What I got to thinking was about how Qin Shi Huang had the full conviction of his beliefs, or, did he have his army replicated you know, just in case? What about Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, all the treasures sealed in their tombs?
Different people, peoples, believe all different sorts of things.
This got me thinking about the Ganges River. Do you know about the Ganges River? The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus, present day. Hindus believe that having at least their ashes thrown in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, allowing them to attain eternal liberation of the soul. Many unburned remains find their way into the Ganges, that is, the recently deceased are regularly, ritually, thrown into the Ganges. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. You can read about this, and you would look at it, and you would think that the solution, to begin with, seems simple. But, they believe what they believe, completely. The Most Polluted Rivers In the World.
This is where I’m not saying what I think about “science” that goes tripping off to Mars while we’ve got all kinds of problems right here on Earth.
Does me knowing about any of this, Does me getting stressed out about any of these things, does it do any good? Does one more voice added to the din do anything other than raise the level of noise pollution? The other day I took one of those just for fun quizzes about “What’s your purpose in life?” and it said that my purpose is to achieve world peace. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, probably, that isn’t “really” my gig in life, and that the quiz came up with that answer based on information gleaned from my having shared a picture of Sandra Bullock as “Miss Congeniality” with the caption “And world peace.” Isn’t it enough to just take care of our own families, our own jobs, houses, cars, lives? ( Don’t litter.)
Can you hear the quiet?
So there’s this story about this woman, about her whole family, and how they went into the Siberian Wilderness during Stalin’s reign, and how at 71 years old, she has lived in the wilderness all of her life. The world has gone on, but, her lack of knowledge about what has gone on in the world hasn’t prevented her from living, that’s her reality. You can read that here.
Well, you’ve got to be informed. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world! You’ve got to CARE! How can you can not care!
Are you free? There are a lot of people in the world who don’t pay any attention to any of the societal uproars and they’re just fine, people who never watch the news, they look outside if they want to know what the weather’s like, live their lives disengaged from the din. I think, in some ways, the internet is a kind of a modern Tower of Babel, and certainly, babble. You’ve got all these people from everywhere in the world able to connect and translate, using their computers, everything into one language, whatever their language is, that makes it all one language, able to read about and know, instantaneously in real-time, right now, if there is a high-speed car chase happening on the other coast, three thousand miles away. News of something that affects them not one bit, something that they can do nothing about, but that the knowledge of adds to, perhaps, depending on how they’re wired, their overall stress and anxiety level. The internet takes us out of the reality of where we are in our own actual present, and takes us into the reality of the world, the internet can make it feel like something that happened on the other side of the world, happened across the street. What that does is, as it affects people, it changes the way that people then go out into the world wherever they are. People are taking that stress from those faraway events into their own lives and then regurgitating it back out into the world, perpetuating stress and discord.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s all the bullshit about the Paris Agreement! And some ass-hat celebrity decided to voice another opinion that I don’t agree with!” She said, as she threw her aluminum can into the trash.
Can you hear the quiet?
I’ve made a decision not to watch the news anymore. I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the infighting that’s going on, whether it’s the Right calling the Left “snowflakes” or the other way around, or just the seemingly endless reposting of “he said this and then…she said this!” it is all fueling the fire, adding to the noise, raising the overall stress level, and exacerbating the strife, except for those who thrive on it and those releasing their own stress ranting, but really, it isn’t doing much of anything else. Is it fake news? On which channel? I’ve made a decision to disengage from the divide and conquer propaganda permeating the world these days. I’m sure I can find something better to do, and be happier doing it.
Also, for anyone who thinks that a person can’t create viable, relevant work or art if they are “out of touch”, disengaged from the noise, and/or so on, I’m just going to say google up famous recluses and you’ll find many a list of some folks who did all right going their own way and thinking for themselves. I’m not saying I’m a recluse, just not interested in the bullshit, nor in the misconception that it is necessary to the creation of viable art.
Many, many, years ago, I lived in the desert. Now, this isn’t about the desert itself, and that is very much part of the point, though the desert, at that time, was the conduit for this experience and learning. The population where I was at, at that time, was about 1,200 people, spread out over a pretty wide area. There was no cable t.v. A few people had satellite dishes and this was back when that meant the huge satellite dish installed at ground level next to the house. You could get bad reception on one or two channels if you had a decent antenna, generally speaking, it wasn’t worth the trouble. During that eighteen months, the only television that I watched was, when it was airing, during the season, a weekly half-hour comedy show, at someone else’s house, and their reception was equally bad. Never watched the news, I don’t recall the television ever really being on. Trying to get a radio station to tune was an equally sketchy endeavor, though sometimes, late at night, I could get KLOS out of Los Angeles to tune in for a couple of hours. I used to borrow my brother’s cassette player, at length, to listen to tapes. We, I, had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world, no idea at all. If they’d dropped the bomb, we would have seen the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else everywhere else who had watched the news every night and spent every day all stressed out about something that they would have ultimately as much control over and foreknowledge of, as someone who hadn’t been paying attention at all.
What I was thinking was how quiet and peaceful that time was, in general. I thought, well, yeah, but there weren’t a lot of people out there in the desert. While that’s some of it, that isn’t the kind of quiet I’m talking about. There was an absence of external influence from the media, from popular culture, from society. What you find, also, is that you still manage to hear about the bigger things that go on in the world, through the periphery. It creates a peaceful mind, and a feeling of being very present in one’s surroundings. Is that “out of touch” with reality? Whose reality? I’m free not to watch the news. I’m free to disengage. You, ostensibly, can turn off the television anywhere, disengage from the “noise” wherever you are. I think that’s part of the problem with the world right now, we’re not, as individuals, obligated to take all that in. We’re not obligated to participate in the noise, especially if it does not serve us well. Some people thrive on it all. There’s that aphorism that says to take care of yourself, to nurture and feed your own soul, because what can you give if you haven’t taken care of you? How much more peaceful would the world be, if each person were at peace with themselves? I was thinking about that, at some point isn’t all the… social commentary, just someone else telling me how they think I should live MY life? (How many average people have it together enough that they should be telling anyone else – unasked- what to do or be or how to live?)(Personally, I’ve no use for the continuous spewing and promoting of the vitriol. In fact, I’ve had it with it. I’m going to quietly choose not to engage in it, whilst also dissociating myself from it and those who chose to engage in it because it is a choice. I’m not going to bother telling anyone how to behave, not my job. I’m saying this is what I’m doing. Each of us gets emotional on occasion, we all get defensive from time to time, making a habit of it makes that who you are. What’s that old saying? You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.)
I don’t know, but I can begin with me. If someone drops the bomb, I’m sure I’ll still see the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else. In the meantime, I’ll be happier, and that’s at least one person that I can improve the quality of life for. ( Really, don’t fucking litter.)
About 4 billion people in the world are NOT online and do not have internet access. Current world population estimated at 7.5 billion people. Between 600 million and 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.
Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam
“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994
What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it. It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.
The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.
“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell
Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?
Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.
I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.
The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.
I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.
Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.
Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.
The Promise Lyrics
If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done
And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done
The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer
Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done
I’ve kept some kind of a notebook, or journal, since junior high. Thankfully, the majority of them have gone the way of the wind. I suppose that’s a nice way of saying that I destroyed them at one time or another. I recall erasing every word one January, in some other life a million years ago in the year of 1981, when it occurred to me that the gift of a journal, even one with a cheap lock on it, was possibly a clever plot on the part of some household spy to discover my innermost thoughts and feelings. That sounds paranoid, except that it wasn’t. I was an impenetrable vault, I gave nothing away to no one and my ability to do so caused quite a bit of frustration on occasion. I then, for a time, kept two journals, one that was the approximation of a stand-up movie facade, “We had chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes for dinner, it was very good. The dog chased the neighbors cat through the other neighbors flowers again,” yawn, and one that was filled with the general gossipy ramblings of a girl that age, “I wonder if he likes me. I hope he likes me. I hope he calls. He better not call her.” But, ultimately, I could not keep up with that, and the keeping of the decoy journal fell by the wayside. Though one day, not long after I stopped recording in it the mundane workings of the average day, I was assured that I had been correct as to the subversive nature of the gift of a journal, when I was suspiciously questioned as to whether or not I was still writing in it. A-ha!
What I noticed is that as I got older, I got to where I very rarely recorded the actual events of any particular day, despite the fact that it often seemed to me that I should be. It has seemed to me that certain things likely should be written down, “This was the day that Aunt Tilly married that gold digger, Harlan, and this family will never be the same again! If he’s got oil wells, I’ll eat my hat!” Or that we had a good Christmas, “It snowed this morning and the lights from the tree reflected through the window onto the glistening white, icy, blanket that covered the lawn in the night, it is beautiful. We’ve got a ham and and a prime rib for the feast, the house smells of cinnamon and cider. I could stay snuggled up here forever like this. Everyone is well and we are blessed.” It seems that because history is happening all around us every day that some of those things should be written down too, that in the future those things are the stories of how it really was from the people who were really there, or at least, their experience and perception of it. So every now and then when I’ve thought of such a thing, I guess there’s been that. However, generally, at some point it became ramblings, for my own sake, and more often than not it’s digressed from letters to myself to randomly jotted notes to myself and of things that I sometimes wonder why I wrote down and sometimes don’t know what they were or are. I think sometimes that I mean them as prompts for the full entry that I meant to write, or wanted to write, and in that moment, couldn’t. Write that down, like some scrap of a morsel collected for later when there will be some shortage of random nonsense, I can open a notebook and see that, ah, yes, I wrote down the lyrics of, “Do your ears hang low?”
Like many writers, not only do I do this, but I quest for the perfect notebooks to do this in, as well as the most excellent pens, and since, despite the fact that everything is allegedly available online now, I can never find the ones that I really want, I get the ones that will do, and I keep looking. This adds up to a lot of writing, a lot of pens, paper, notebooks, etc. Writers fill file cabinets and boxes and shelves with this kind of thing, really. Getting rid of it is useless. For a good decade I carted around two file boxes that contained every scrap I’d ever written that I was still in possession of. Many years ago now, I spent most of one night burning at least that much material only to discover that to be useless, it only re-accumulates. Sorting through files the last few days, I found no less than ten copies of one manuscript, each of them slightly different from the others in some infinitesimal way. I thought, Do I really need to keep all of these? Then I thought, Why get rid of one just so you can type it again at some point? Just keep them, put them away, be done with them, but keep them.
Why though? Why do writers do this sort of thing? As I noticed that I did, in fact, write down these words, “Camp songs – 99 Bottles of Beer- Do your ears hang low?” in a notebook as some kind of prompt, or often, too, I’ll think, ‘Oh, that would be good to stick in a story somewhere, write that down for later’ and then I never use it but what for, really?
I was reading again an essay by Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook,” that explains it perfectly, it is, in large part, to remember myself.Which then, for the thinking person, might bring up the question, am I forgetting myself? Am I worried about forgetting myself? It isn’t like forgetting to buy dish soap because I didn’t put it down on the list. No, it isn’t that, but that it seems that there are all of these good bits that are chasing away like butterflies on the spring breeze and fireflies into the night and if you let them get away, ah well… It’s some random observation in some crystalline moment of perception when the mundane or the average is so unerringly valuable and beautiful, Didion describes a woman who is losing the hem on her dress, which may not register the same with some of the younger set as a metaphor for coming undone or being out of sorts, because in that time when Didion wrote it down, well, you wouldn’t be out and about with your hem coming undone if you could possibly help it. We know something about ourselves in those moments and so we write it down, to remember ourselves. We know something about time in those moments, stopping it, capturing it, and the passage of it, I’ve been running around wearing a pair of patched, ripped, jeans lately, and there was a time when I’d have never worn such a thing for anything other than doing yard work or painting something, let alone out in public, though I have been doing those very kinds of chores lately, but still. An undone hem, I observe, and I am set to rambling myself because I’m a writer too, God help me, and so I write down in my notebook the last words that ever need to be said about why writers keep notebooks, “undone hem – Joan Didion.” I think I’ll write that at the beginning of every new notebook from now on, I think I will.
Or is there really a more serious problem going on in this country, this world? Meaning, more serious than we’ve seen before? Or is it simply that it is the first time that my generation is having to really deal with any of it? There have been a lot of jokes about the film “Idiocracy” this election season, but really, it isn’t that funny.
My husband and I were talking about going to the movies the other day and I said, “You know how I said that I hope that they don’t ever re-make any of those old Noir films, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Well, I might have been wrong about that.” Because it seems like that the only movies that they’re making any more, or rather for the most part, are films that cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of intellect. But is that really true? Not completely. People are stressed out, they don’t want to have to think, they want to go to the movies to forget about things for a while, to be entertained, and that is completely valid and really, what the movies are for. But then I see today how the Supreme Court voted to strike down a Texas abortion law that would have required the clinics to raise the standards of the facilities providing the services to the women. Then it all went on about the “Constitutional Reproductive Rights of Women.” What’s wrong with that is the way that people are talking about it in general, as though their rights come from the government. So the government has granted you the right to marry, the right to get an abortion, the right to own a gun, a knife, a car, smoke a cigarette… well… NO. Some would then say that we get our rights from God. What if you don’t believe in God? What if you were here before there was a “government” and you didn’t believe in “God”? Where do your rights come from?
My rights as a human being are inherent to my being, existing because I exist, not as a gift or a granting from some other source. But that’s all a lot to think about, isn’t it? The truth is, freedom, being free, is a really a big responsibility. I don’t know if we’re experiencing a cultural de-evolution or if this is just part of the normal cycle of human existence. But, I have noticed it.
27 June, 2016
The substance is imagination.
It’s Shakespeare, darlings, try not to screw it up.
Several years ago I went on a trip with my husband and there was this guy walking around wearing a red and white t-shirt with a picture of Shakespeare on it and the caption read, “This shit writes itself.” For some reason at that very moment it struck me as being one of the most completely ridiculous things ever and I laughed until there were tears streaming down my face.
I’m taking something of a social web break at the moment, or really, I’m checking in on the web less and getting some work done, or I’m trying to post less, or…well, really, who can quit this thing? Changing habits takes dedication and time, one step forward, etc. So I check in on the interwebs today and I see this meme…
and what I want to say is, Come on, people! Really?
I will be the first to admit that I am not necessarily the most well read person, certainly not as authors go. I’ve read things that have crossed my path in one way or another along particular lines over the years and for many years, avoided reading some things because I wanted to learn how to write like “me” first, and other such thinking. That is to say that I’ve actually thought about what I was feeding my brain, and sometimes over-thought it. ( That makes it sound like I haven’t read anything, and you know that isn’t true.) In fact, I’m generally flabbergasted by the number of books that some people have read, some, my husband among them. He’s read Don Quixote, and a list of other thick books that impress me and that I’ve got on my list of things that I’d like to read and plan to read and so on but I’m digressing, so before I completely derail this with why I like smart men and all of the real and true other reasons why I’m catching up on my reading, or why I got so far behind on it to begin with, let me get to the point and that is that you shouldn’t have to be a terribly well-read person to know that Shakespeare didn’t write the quote that is written in that meme, that meme is “Things that Shakespeare didn’t say,” times a million.
This kind of thing is dangerous to the overall level of intellect of our society, of the world.
Oh come on, Teri, it’s just a silly meme.
Well, the thing is that, yes, it is just a silly meme, and one would hope that most people are smart enough to figure out that Shakespeare never said that. However, the fact that such a meme exists means that someone either thought that they were being funny, which is one thing, okay. Or someone thought that Shakespeare really said it, or someone thought that they could pass it off that way. Or someone had something that they wanted to say and thought that maybe it would get read more if they slapped Shakespeare’s name on it, which is kind of ironic if you know that there are those who believe, think, that perhaps Shakespeare was more than one author.
A little surfing around and it seems that part of the quote was appropriated from a poem by William Arthur Ward.
But also attributed to Hemingway.
Well, they’re all dead. Why does it matter if they are being misquoted or if those quotes are being attributed inaccurately?
Have you ever been accused of saying something that you didn’t say? Or had someone leave out part of what you said so that the meaning of what you actually said is either changed or eradicated? ( Taken out of context?)
Sometimes that stems from genuine confusion. Sometimes people aren’t listening to what was actually said. Sometimes, we call that lying. Sometimes we say, “Well, I don’t care what they say. I know what I said.” And it really doesn’t matter to us. Other times, it might matter quite a bit depending on the circumstances. It’s been my experience that most squabbles, fights, between most anyone could have been resolved with some honest communication between the parties. Sometimes there are other issues, ideological and so on, of course, but again, I’m digressing.
What about the fact that right there are three writers who could have said it, according to these memes that people randomly circulate generally without much consideration for the source, I post them too sometimes, and that that is someone’s work.
Do you think that it doesn’t matter whose work it really is? Because they are selling William Arthur Ward drinkware at Zazzle and for my money, twenty-eight bucks is a hefty price for a coffee cup. But what do I know? I buy coffee cups at thrift stores and would pay forty bucks for a set of KISS mugs if I could get my rationale for it right. ( not really, maybe, I don’t know… but something else though, something equally cool.)
So, that means it kind of matters to whom the work really belongs, especially to those looking for things to make a buck off of. Just ask Gene Simmons. Or Prince. Or Taylor Swift. Or Adele.
You see, the thing is that most people tend to think that societies, worlds, empires, are destroyed in a day, in one fell swoop, in one great battle, the bomb, but that really isn’t how it happens.
How it happens is that they, whoever they are, start taking pebbles away from the base of a mountain and everyone says, “Oh well, it’s just a few pebbles, don’t make such a big deal out of it. It’s harmless, who cares.”
And then this taking of a few pebbles from the base of a mountain becomes accepted practice or behavior and no one notices it anymore or thinks about it anymore or pays any attention to it anymore.
“What are they doing over there at the base of the mountain with those buckets?”
Destabilizing everything above it from the bottom.
About the time when someone realizes that that’s what is going on, is when the fighting to save whatever it is begins. Then there are the big battles and all of that stuff that people tend to think are what destroy whatever it is or was when really, it was all of the pebbles that were being taken away from the base for however long.
These silly memes and things like them, they’re pebbles, in a way, being taken away from the base of our intellect, of our smarts as a society, it’s a very subtle part of the dumbing-down of everything.
Well, why do you need to know who really said that? Why do you need to be able to ascertain the truth? Who cares, it’s just a silly meme!
In other words, that’s how societies get owned, one person at a time. It’s not the meme itself, that meme is just a symptom of a bigger thing that is going on, it’s just one of the pebbles.
So, are you paying attention? I mean, just ask yourself that question. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind or even that a significant number of people will understand what I’m saying about this as something not to fight over,or argue about, but to understand. The main thing that got me about it was that they didn’t even put any effort into it. I mean, it’s supposed to be Shakespeare who said that, right?
You know what a woman wants? A badass son of a bitch who can make the trip and still treat her like the most precious being on the planet. A man who’s really a gentleman, even if sometimes she doesn’t act like much of a lady. She wants a proper rescue. She wants gallantry and chivalry and decency, chemistry and, understanding.
She wants a knowing look exchanged before you take her hand and jump together. She wants thunder storms and sunny weather. She wants you to remember her birthday with an obscure book mentioned once in passing. She wants you to give her a wild flower. She wants you to carry her if she cannot walk. She wants you to be there every time she falls and understand what it means every time she gets up. She wants you to grab hold of her hips, pull her up against you, look her in the eye and not lie, when you tell her she is everything. She wants a fortress in your arms. She wants a connection with you so strong that people take a step back when you exchange a glance, and gasp, when they see the two of you slow dancing together. She wants you to read her mind and respect her privacy, or at least, her illusion of it. She wants to be able to be quiet with you, and know, and believe. She wants fireworks. She wants sunsets and sunrises. She wants happy, naked, joyful dancing, and to feel like she is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. She wants you to push her on the swings and carry her into the waves and fall with her on the beach and kiss her until she can barely breathe, your hands moving over her rib cage, across her belly and down between her thighs. She wants to take your breath away with her smile. She wants you to notice the subtle change in her expression that escapes every other eye but tells you that she needs the reassuring squeeze of your hand, or that it’s time to leave the party. She wants to know that you know who she is so that when you touch her it becomes an expression of your appreciation of her. She wants you to make love to her. She wants you to fuck her. She wants your admiration and your awe. She wants you to look at her and say, “No one can hold a candle to that woman.”
She wants your praise, your encouragement, your faith and your belief, because if you believe in her, she can do great things. She wants you to know when she can’t make it on her own and she wants you to give her some help without making her feel like she’s a failure. She wants you to know how hard it is for her to ask for anything. She wants her name tattooed on your heart. When you say her name, she wants you to say it with a sense of possession and knowing and belonging. She wants you to put her first and she wants to never doubt it. She doesn’t want anyone else to ever doubt it either. She wants you to be able to fix the car, the sink, and hammer a nail straight like a real man, without complaint. She wants you to love her cooking and take her out to dinner. She wants you to be the one who measures up, never wants to let her down even if you sometimes do. She wants to inspire that want in you, because you inspire it in her.
She wants to be cherished. She wants a man who knows how fragile she is, and how strong. She wants a man who understands that “I love you” should never be used as a band-aid or an apology or an excuse or a manipulation or a last resort. She wants to know it her bones that your love for her is true. She wants you to forgive her. She wants you to be her salvation. She wants to be enough.
She wants something legendary, even if no one else ever knows the story.