Today, July 15, marks the fifth anniversary of my scribing Phantom Noise In Ordinary Time! It’s been a great adventure and I look forward to more and better. I hope to modernize the “look” if I can figure out how to do that! Either way a fair-sized bulk of writing has happened and I am grateful. I am also deeply appreciative of all who come and read and all who help contribute and give me feedback.
Let the festivities and the games begin!
Here are some other lovely stills from Eric Rohmer’s films. He did summer so well.
I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying these indolent days.
I’ll try to post some of Rohmer’s movies as recommendations for a summer movie night. Look for them under the tab Celluloid Dreams in the next days.
Have you ever tried to talk a 19-year-old into taking an online history class over the summer?
Even I wasn’t convinced by my argument. Sean’s mother asked me to speak with him and as I looked at his puckered cherubic face over Zoom, I felt bad. He’s been attending college online for over a year on WebEx, Teams, whatever until his eyes bleed.
He presented his half-hearted counter argument, to which I responded with a question. Now this is a smart kid; he has an answer to everything which sounds good, but without much drilling down is, as in this case, somewhat hollow. This response was the equivalent of: “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear….etc.” I nixed that and we got to the truth. The truth was he needed a break from sitting in his home office day in, day out and taking some heavy classes. This semester was: Linguistics, Psychology of Language, Philosophy of Ethics, and Developmental Psychology.
What does Kant have to do with all this? Well, he came up in the Philosophy class which was taught by a fresh-faced young woman from Scandinavia. Sounds good right? The syllabus for this class was beyond depressing. I was told that no one ever participated and never put their cameras on. Can you blame them? Here’s a sampling of the cheery topics: famine, casual sex, euthanasia, killing and eating puppies, abortion, sex and lies, casual sex again, rape, prostitution, addiction. All in the context of Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Cultural Relativism, Aristotelian Ethics, deductive reasoning, and last but not least the Kantian approach.
Now all we need is a safe word and we have a party!
There was a group project — something about marijuana and jail sentences — and it needed to be framed within these theories. Sean ended up being the group leader pretty much by default amid the semi-comatose. While assigning sections of the presentation (yea, a live presentation) he asked the quietest, least motivated, and seemingly most withdrawn student in the group, and she replied: “The Kantian Approach.” The hardest one. Full of Teutonic gravitas.
I found this all rather amusing. For some reason the Kantian Approach sounded like a chess move to me like the Luzhin Defence or the Queen’s Gambit. I was thinking about Kant’s Categorical Imperative (look it up!) and was wondering what would that chess move be? You lay your king down, walk away and hope the noise in your head subsides?
I could go on. There was a truly bizarre conversation on a class module about how lying to get sex may be regarded as a form of rape. Okay. I’m just wondering who will be left walking around, not in jail, after they round up 99.9% of the population.
I could hear Sean silently screaming, “Get me out of this!” This history class includes: the Enlightenment (okay), the surge of nationalism (yuck), imperialism (uh oh), World War I (double uh oh), totalitarianism, and to top off the summer: World War II.
We released him from this sentence. Instead Sean is working as a barista at a chic café in our uber-burbia. He’s delighted by the job.
After a day of work and loads of caffeine, Sean said to me, “Don’t ever give me cocaine!”
There’s an old monastery near me where I hike. The friars are long gone, but the acres are still there to enjoy. It’s a lovely tract of land and it has…wait for it…silence.
Last week we had a spectacular spring day. Off I went, and since it was a weekday no one was there. Only rabbits, turtles, geese and other sweet creatures. While I was on a remote wooded trail, two huge dogs came running towards me. Massive exquisite animals about 100lbs. or more.
Good thing I’m not afraid of dogs. I said, “Hi guys!” and their tails wagged and we were good. I think they had Great Dane, Rottweiler…maybe Doberman in them — I couldn’t identify the breed exactly. Both were dark-colored and one was brindled. They hung around with me as we enjoyed the woods, my new friends moving beautifully in tandem. After a while it occurred to me that there was no owner in sight. Unaccompanied minors!
I’m going to try and keep this short because it’s taken me several days to get this done. I saw the dogs a couple more times and I wound up my jaunt. As I was getting into my car, a Mercedes station wagon pulled up near me. A pleasant upper middle lady of a certain age got out and smiled at me (and I to her). She took two suburban-pampered-rescue-virtue-signaling-whatever Greyhounds out of the back. We exchanged inconsequential polite noises and I thought to alert her to the two dogs running around unattended. She was nice, thanked me, and then she irately said, “You know, I saw two intact males on Kimball Road!” Per usual, I had no idea what she meant; I think I was distracted because I was registering that she just had a close encounter with her inner Karen.
We wrapped it up; she went for her dog walk and I got into the car. It was then that it dawned on me what she meant. Intact males! She meant the dogs — maybe! I burst out laughing.
My family always had dogs, large ones and male. We never “fixed” them — interesting term. They had a lot of land to roam on and they were perfectly happy and healthy and lived to ripe old ages. Our last dog was a little more “humpy” than the others, so my mother suggested that we have him neutered. My father absolutely forbade it; he was pretty upset over the thought of it. I’m wondering if his primary concern was that he didn’t want my mother getting any ideas. My father had his way and the dog kept his testicles. The end.
What has happened? Where did we go? Hypoallergenic dogs, countless unspoken rules, the suburbanization of all viewpoints, make things “safe,” controlling every aspect of our lives so that no one draws outside the lines. WTF?
Good tidings to all! I thought I would change up the collage (above). I really like how the other one turned out, but the weather has been bleak, and I think we all needed some color and hints of spring. At least I did.
While I was gathering images, the poem “Spring and All…” by William Carlos Williams came to mind to accompany the theme. I haven’t read it since college, and was pleasantly surprised at the full title which I did not recollect — on the road to the contagious hospital. I did, in fact, remember that Williams was a doctor. Seems fitting for the current whatever.
I think I will put the full poem below for your pleasure. Sir Philip Sidney, the Elizabethan poet, lent the title for this post; we are in agreement about the necessity of poetry. I, perhaps, take a more hedonistic view than Sydney’s solid Protestant one. That’s what makes a horse race my father would say. I think we would both agree that when all else fails, turn to poetry…or song lyrics. They are, essentially, the same thing. Or close kin. So here goes:
Spring and All [By the road to the contagious hospital]
By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines—
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches—
They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind—
Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined— It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
But now the stark dignity of entrance—Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted, they grip down and begin to awaken
Salve all! I thought I would put up a few lovely and tranquil images as a respite — at least temporarily — to the heavier tone of things. The winter has been relentless with frigid cold and snow; it’s the leg of winter that for me, at least, seems to drag on.
These are some photos of my friend’s family orange farm near the Burmese border in Thailand. Provides a pleasant anodyne, don’t you agree?
I have two essays in the works and I’m looking forward to get cracking on them.
In the meanwhile, enjoy!
“somewhere i have never travelled” poem by E.E. Cummings.
Quite a different image and tone from past months, but I felt then it was necessary to get into the spirit of things. I want to wish everyone a good 2021 — I think this year will be both a true test our mettle and one that is full of glittering possibilities. It’s up to us.
I have hardly written this year — maybe ten posts and most of them short. Fairly meager, I admit. I, like most everyone, have been working online (my day job) since March and by the end of the day I’ve had enough of the screen and battling technology. And, if the day is fine, I get out in nature. That’s my excuse. This is my apology.
The wisest thing I did in 2020 was get rid of cable entirely. Communicating with the local cable company is probably worthy of its own post, and the level of dumb makes you wonder how anyone can manage a vaccine when customer service can’t even mail you a shipping label after three endless phone calls. On the upside of the cancellation has shut out the rubbish — the never-ending sappy commercials, doom and gloom and Debbie Downer chitter chatter. Somedays it’s even possible to forget what is going on. I believe it is a healthier approach.
I do think something is afoot — aside from a new virus — that we are being played to some degree. I waiver from joining the tin foil hat brigade to believing that we are at a juncture which could really make for a better life — emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Again, we have to work together: not TikToks with nurses dancing, but to stop fighting each other and focus our sights on who is really screwing us over. Divide and rule — anyone remember that age-old stratagem?
Isn’t it great that the billionaires are getting richer? I’m so happy for them. I don’t trust them and I don’t think anyone should. Musk, Bezos and Gates et al., the idea of downloading our brains and transhumanism is an abomination in the full sense of the word. Look up the etymology! I keep wondering how long all of us have to pay for the fact that these ghouls weren’t popular in high school. Enough! Go live on Mars!
I’m probably get into trouble for writing, you know, my current opinion. When I posted “Just the Facts, Ma’am” in May the site went down at least five times after publishing. This is rather amusing considering how paltry my viewership is; it is also alarming how good the algorithms are.
I would encourage people to explore other voices and not just rely on the conventional sources for information. There’s plenty of smart people out there saying reasonable things. Alternative sites to YouTube do offer a spectrum of viewpoints which one does not have to agree with, but it is refreshing to hear and maybe learn new things. Why not? I’ll post a few suggestions below.
My two cents worth of advice: keep your agency, think for yourself, do not bend your neck to the yoke, and be kind. People are afraid. Fear isn’t helpful and it is highly contagious, so it must be fought against.
We don’t know what’s coming. It may be beautiful and at times, not pretty. Messy. Remember the Japanese proverb, “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” Something like that.
Recommendations: Dr. Vernon Coleman, Dr. Colin Barron, Dr. Heiko Schöning, Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, The Crowhouse, The Last American Vagabond, Catherine Austin Fitts, Fr. Richard Rohr, UK Column News, and many more. It’s fun to discover the road yourself. And if you really want to go into the wild: Stranger Fiction, Nicholson 1968, Illuminati Watcher, David Icke, Memory Hold, Robert David Steele, Amazing Polly, Sacha Stone, Jeff Berwick at Dollar Vigilante, Jason Christoff, et. al.