12 March 2012

Clarity vs. Hope

With only one or the other, you'll find either doom or foolishness. But at their intersection lies deep conviction, and the slow but sure fruition of steadfast faith.

We were made to love.

Our orientation is full devotion.

10 March 2012

He stared down the barrel of a gun.

Worse, he was forced to listen to a person he did not respect, "You're not human. You don't have an ounce of fight in you." He couldn't respond even if he wanted to. His mouth was forced shut, bound by that strong silver tape. The rest of his body in ropes. He glared at his assailant, remaining defiant in the face of death.

"See, a real man would stand up and fight. He wouldn't give up his life without a fight. You? You're not a man. You're a nothing."

He wanted to say something now, but he knew that it was too late. His fate was decided, right? The inevitable, like his lips, sealed. He did the most absurd thing he could think of. He blinked twice for no. The woman in front of him, holding a gun in her leather-bound hands, burst into uncontrollable laughter. I think she got the message, he thought. His eyes turned to half-moons. He was smiling. But her eyes weren't. She was crying—and then she shot him.

08 March 2012

He woke up to a room full of papers.

The window must've opened itself during the night, and a breeze must've found its way in and blew over the stack of papers which comprised his unfinished novel. It's ok, he thought to himself. It was an experimental novel. The kind that doesn't really have an order. Each page had been painstakingly crafted to be so ambiguous, disconnected, and self-contained that it could be read as a standalone unit, or read alongside with any other page and carve (at least a somewhat) coherent story. He rose from the bed and grabbed the three sheets nearest to him. Each told a story. Together, they told his.

The first was about a woman who never aged. She would live for thousands of years. Her first life, if you could call it that, was as normal as any. She fell in love with a man, a baker, and they had a family and children. But she soon realized that something was wrong when her husband, weak and gray, breathed his last, and she, beautiful as ever, did not look a day older than twenty five. She left her children, when they left her, and wandered the earth. Going from tribe to tribe, the world around her began to develop their own myths and legends about her. The soul sucking woman, the woman from whom all life originated and returned, the life stealer. She did not appreciate any of these stories, and she had no idea why she was the way she was. But she wandered and observed and learned, watching man progress from axe, to bow, to sword, and steel. One day a singular man arrived on earth. She could tell that he was different. Like her. That perhaps, if the stories were true, he could drain the life out of her. So she followed him everywhere hoping that he'd save her from this affliction of everlasting life. That he would, in an act of loving mercy, be able to grant her death at last. He would not, and he could not. So they married, and had a child.

The second was about a boy who while shuffling through discarded books outside of the library stumbled upon the broken spine of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. He examined the cover painted with faded images of brick roads, armored men, red skies, and golden chalices. From day one the boy was hooked. He devoured novel after novel, following each endless possibility in every book. He began to map out the countless universes with their many stories. Characters, lives, and plots were graphed onto paper. One day he found a dead end in one of the stories. A page referenced that was not inside the book itself. He wondered how that could be. He wrote many letters to the publisher and heard only silence. He brought up the issue with his friends, family, and teachers, and no one could give him an answer that he was willing to accept. So he came to the only conclusion he could think of. Adventure wasn't so much the page as the person, and today was the story that he was meant to turn to. From that moment on he lived each day as if it were an adventure of its own, and treated decisions as if segues into new, uncharted worlds.

The third was about a writer who stood by the greased glass of a four-paned window. No one had come in a long time to wash these windows, he thought to himself. He was on the third story of a hotel, and he rubbed his long sleeve on the inside of the window to find some light. To no avail. He wriggled the handle, almost ripping it off, nearly breaking the glass. But it would not budge. He gave up, and looked inward. The room was dark. A lone lightbulb hung from the ceiling, with a pull switch dangling by its side. Furniture was sparse. A bed with a wooden bunk. A dresser hollow looking. And a bookcase full of things, but few books. He thought for a moment and realized that he didn't know where he was or how he had gotten there. There was no traceable path from his last memory—and what was his last memory, now that he thought about it?—to this present moment. It was as if he had just awoken. Shipwrecked, as it were, finding himself washed up on a tiny, cold shore, nearly lifeless. He walked towards the door. A faint purple glow along its edges. It was, like the window, shut. Locked. Wouldn't budge. He knocked, but it made no sound, as if the entire world were mute. Did things vibrate in this universe of mine, he asked himself. He bellowed. Nothing. He shouted. Still nothing. Is this a bad dream? No, he heard someone speak, this is Me. Who are you? he asked, but making no sound. I am You. We.

06 March 2012

Slashdot on Democracy.

An interesting summary,
The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies. The research shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. If people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments... Democracies rarely or never elect the best leaders. Their advantage over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders.
And an insightful comment,
I don't think any political theorist has ever thought that democracy would create qualitatively better governments than other means of choosing governments (monarchies, autocracies, theocracies, etc.). It's advantage, as singular as it is, is that it creates an environment in which a government can be peacefully removed from power and another transitioned in its place. Of course most people are not equipped to judge which party's policies, which run the whole gamut from economics to foreign affairs to social policy, are better or worse. I doubt even most politicians are. Most people either just vote kneejerk for the "conservative" or the "liberal" or the "little guy" or the "wise-looking older fellow". 
No, it's not about choosing leaders, it's about getting rid of them. That's where democracy, when coupled with a tradition of the rule of law, really shines.

On Limbaugh.

Talk about a double standard. Rappers can say anything they want about women. It's called art. And they win awards.   
Rush Limbaugh, radio host, after saying his apology to the Georgetown law student he called a "slut" was sincere
I think what you've said here is true. It does not make you right.

05 March 2012

He opened up his chest

To discover a hollow oilcan lined with black smudge. It had an old, faded label on it, as if it had been exhausted and replenished many times. But today, the can was empty, with few traces remaining of the rare, magic substance that he had once injected into his rusting joints. The tinman was running out of time. His limbs began to stiffen, and his strut began to stutter. He was in desperate need of a heart. And although he was afraid of what having a heart would do to him, he was even more fearful of what lacking it had done. So he set out that day to find life knowing very well the cost. If he wanted to live, he would have to die. But to remain was not an option.

04 March 2012

John 21:15-19.

The conversation (or the wrestling match),
Am I really called to be a missionary? Yes.
Am I just making this up? No.
This isn't selfish ambition, or vain conceit? No.
But why me? ...
Why not them? ...
What do you see in me that I can't see in myself? ...
Why don't others seem to see this in me? ...
Are you sure that this is my calling? Yes, I am sure.
Ok, so then what's next? Same as beforeFollow me.

I've decided.

I'm going camping on my 25th birthday.

02 March 2012

The sublime, implicit note.

I love jazz because it is wrong and broken. The notes are dissonant. The music is off beat. But it somehow remains beautiful. For me, jazz is a reminder. Like shadows and images to light, off beat music reminds me that the beat exists. That the ideal is. That the Great Note is out there somewhere, and it is as wonderful as we all imagine.


A good jazz musician will play around the note, fiddling with our expectations. The sax will play a note, a series of notes, and we will expect that the next will follow in the inevitable progression. But he will not play the note we expect. He will go another direction. Meanwhile, the piano will step into the silence, and re-emerge with our expectation, but later. The timing, and the playing, it all intertwines to point us towards the center. They play the edges. And they play the edges. And they play it in circles. Till we realize, they have just been, like good shepherds, redirecting us towards the center the entire time.

01 March 2012

Clearly.

B: Why do you love New York?
G: I love—
B: I loved it first.
G: You can't just claim rights—
B: I do what I want.
G: —on love for a city.
B: Yes, I can. I just did.
G: Well, then, I claimed it first.
B: No you can't.
G: Yes... I can.
B: That's not fair.
G: Exactly.