Entry 1573 — Repaired Scene

September 17th, 2014

An aside before there’s anything for it to be an aside to: It’s Tuesday afternoon.  I was just working on my novel.  It is entirely autobiographical, you should know, except that it is also a complete wish-fulfillment fantasy.  Ergo, the two cats I had in 1998, when the year the novel begins, is in it.  Sally, who dies a few years before that is in it, too, as is Skipper, the cat my family had for only part of a year before a dog got him, when I was ten or eleven.  The reason for this aside is that I wanted to tell you that I just now saw a line in which I said Suzy, one of my cats at the time, “was not a bouncy, friendly cat like Shirley,” the other cat I had then (not to be confused with the one I have now, Shirley II).  I think it amusing that I was upset that I’d written that about Suzy, who was definitely a friendly cat, although not very bouncy, so I changed the passage to “was not as bouncy a friendly cat as Shirley.”  Wouldn’t want my readers to think badly of the poor thing.

Now back to the following, which I transformed from a language poem back to conventionality:

Act 1, scene ii: HORACE, a man in his early thirties, is pacing in a
dimly-lit, nondescript living room.

HORACE:  If only there were something I could do.
If only there were something I could do.
But. neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available can work
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath of aid.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly through
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul dimmed to something only owls could see,
my heart a crypt about to close on it.
Oh, me; oh, my; oh, me; oh, me; oh, me.

MARGARET: Oh, me; oh, me; oh, me? Good Jesus, Horace,
what is wrong with you?! (She bursts onstage out of a door
as she finishes putting on a bathrobe.) The day has shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ouqht to be in bed,
not rasping pathological oh me’s
against the sleep of your superiors!

HORACE:     Oh, Mother, dearest Mother, you can’t know
how miserably unbearable my life’s
become. It’s but an earthworm sandwich made
with neither mayonnaise nor butter.  Each
day Ursula repudiates my love
with greater ardor! What, oh, what, am I–
(Enter JULIUS through a window.)

MARGARET: Good Christ, what lout through yonder window breaks?
Quick, Horace, club the creep!

JULIUS: Hey, just a minute. I don’t breaka nothin’.
she’sa open.  And she looksa just lika mine, so I comes t’rough.
Youse got no calla to clubba me.

HORACE: Of course I do! In case you didn’t know, it’s aainst the
law to come through other people’s windows without permission.

JULIUS: Even if I’m a dreama come t’rough?

HORACE: What are you talking about? You’re no dream come true;
you’re a damned burglar who’s just gained illegal entry to this house
and I’m going to. call the police!

JULIUS: Hey, wait.a minute, Boss. I might be a damma burglar, but
youse hearda the lady: she says I’m a lout. Besides, I am a dreama
come t’rough~-if you wantsa this Ursula.

MARGARET: Give me the damned club, Horace.  I’ll take care of this
cretin if you won’t! You call the police. (She approacnes Horace.)

HORACE: Hold on, Mother.  First I want to find out what he knows about Ursula.

JULIUS:  Hey, Boss, I don’t know thisa Ursula from a Lemona meringuea
pie, but womens, thems I doesa know, an’ I kniowsa how to get them.

HORACE: Terrific.

JULIUS: Hey, I knows a froma the outside youse needsa the help with
the girl.  I got psychica giftsa an’ they tellsa me. That’sa the
real reason I’ma climb t’rough the window. Your needsa was forcin’
me to comea to youse!

MARGARET: All right, then, I’ll call the police.

HORACE:  No, Mother, please. Let me just hear what he has to say.

MARGARET: Good grief.

HORACE: So? Just how do you think you can help me with Ursula?

JULIUS: Hey, who knows? ‘ All, I can tella youse is
And it won’t costa you a arma an’ a lega, neither!
of it in advancea; is all I’ma charge.

HORACE, sarcastically: That’s all?

JULIUS: Yeah, I feelsa sorry for youse, so I do thisa for almosta free.

HORACE:  You’re crazy. You haven’t given me the slightest idea of
what you might be able to do. It ‘s pretty obvious that you’re just
trying to wriggle out of your–

JULfUS: Hey, Boss, I know I’ma ask youse to takea tbe big chancea, so
I tellsa you what: I do it for free, and only fifteen dolla in advance!

HORACE:  You’re really out of your–

JULIUS: Hey, y0use can even paya me in advancea after I does it, howsa that for fair?

MARGARET:  Good grief. Horace, I’m going back to bed. If you finally
call the police and they want a statement from me, they’ll have to
wait until the morning. (Exit.)

HORACE: I really should call the police.  It’s ab–

JULIUS, rushing over to him: No,no, Boss, don’t do that!  I can
really helpa youse!

HORACE: Get away from me!  (At this point, JULIUS bumps into HORACE.)

JULIUS:  ‘Scuza.  (He hurriedly backs away from Horace.)

HORACE, picking up the phone: I was insane to believe even for a moment that you could help me win Ursula. You’re just trying to trick me out of teaching you that you can’t just climb in any open window that you–

JULIUS: No, no, youse got it alla wrong. Look, here’sa my picture
witha my namea, Sean O’ Casey, ona the back. (He pulls out a wallet
and hands Horace a photograph from it.) That’ s a from when I hava
the beard.  If I tricksa youse, youse can justa show the policea
that an’ hava me ina the slammer quick. That way yousea covered,
Boss. Trusta me, I no tricksa youse.

HORACE, putting the phone back down and taking the picture:
Wait a minute. This is a picture of Ursula! And that’s my wallet you have! (Pause.)

JULIUS:  Yeah, yousea right: it’sa your wallet!  (Pause.)  But how is
it it’sa me what’s got it, hunh? (Brief Pause.) Hey, Boss, you ever
hears ofa the psychokinesis? Well, that’s only one ofa my psychica
giftsa. Another, which I justa remember, isa hypnosis. I can use
that for youse with this Ursula. So forgeta the slammer an’ hirea
me, Boss.

HORACE: Ah, you. propose to hypnotize, Ursula into loving me.

JULIUS: Nah, I can’ta do that. I only makesa people thinka
they’re chickensa;

HORACE: You can only hypnotize people into thinking they’re chickens!?

JULIUS: Youse thinks thisa hypnosis isa easy?

HORACE: No, not necessarily. I just think that if–

JULIUS: Listen, ifa the hypnosis isa so easy, I coulda make youse
giva me everything ina the house an’ let me go.  Why I no do that?
‘Cause the hypnosis, she’sa hard. Usea the bean, Boss. Nobody hasa
the room for mqre than a little ofa the hypnotic capacity, an’ all I
hasa isa for to changea people intoa the chicken. Or vice ofa the
versa.

HORACE: But what possible good would it do to turn Ursula into
a chicken?

JULIUS: Hey, what kinda man is gonna stay with a chickena? This guy
who got her, he’sa drop her fast!

HORACE: How ignorant you are, poor fool. No man
on earth could disconnect from Ursula
though she erupt in boils and breathe black flames!
Her soul would make a coat of leprosy
a fashion all Chicago’d fight to wear!
The filigree of her least thought would win
a thousand worshippers through any stink
of cancer you could mar her beauty with!
The perk of what she is, is far too rare
to be susceptible–

JULIUS: Okay, okay, I getsa your drifta!

HORACE: Besides, there’s no
way I could let you desecrate the flow
of her nobility of form and hue.
There’s no way I could let you desecrate–

JULIUS: Okay, okay! I tellsa you what I does: I hypnotizea the guy
she’sa hot into; I makesa hima .the chicken. (Pause.) That way, he
doesn’ta droppa her, she dropsa him!

HORACE: I don’t know. She’s very loyal.  And making him act like a chicken wouldn’t make her boyfriend much less than the dweeb he already is.

JULIUS: How you knows a that tilla we tries it? (Pause.)  Justa give
it somea thought: what youse got to losea? If I no helpa youse, youse
just losea the happiness ofa shuttin’ a poor misguideda soul what
comesa accidentally t’rough your window into the jaila. But if I
helpsa youse, youse winsa the Ursula!  (Pause.)

HORACE:  You can really hypnotize people?

JULIUS: Sure!

HORACE: it could work. T~is North–that’s her boyfriend–fancies
a philosopher. If he suddenly started acting like a chicken,
so disturb his mind that he’d forget even Ursula.

JULIUS: North? Not Larry North?

HORACE: Yes. Why? Db you know him?

JULIUS, laughing: Why, sure. Thisa North, he’s my nexta-door
neighbor except for a few houses.

HORACE: So you wouldn’t want to hypnotize him, after all.

JULIUS: Hey, sure I doesa it For fifteen dollars inna the advance.
He’sa not my friend, justa my neighbor. An’ he’sa too big onna the
positivista school of philosophy fora my tastea.

HORACE: And you could hypnotize him?

JULIUS: Hey, I guarantees it, Boss.

HORACE, suddenly exploding: Okay, okay! What have I got to lose?
For neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available has worked
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath . .

JULIUS, overlapping the last part of Horace’s speech:
spirit, Boss. (Curtain.)

I am now fairly certain, by the way, that I will go with the 1996 version of this play–but I may try to find a way to use some passages in the above.  Especially the punsa.

.

AmazingCounters.com

 

Scientific American Blog Relocated

September 16th, 2014

My Scientific American Blog is now here–with a complete table of contents.

AHOY!  I finally got Entry 18 done.  It is now here.    Comments Welcome! Please let me know of any typos or gross factual errors. Warning: it’s me at my abstrusest worst–for over 8,000 words.

Later note: From time to time, I will be revising Entry 18.  I hope eventually to correct all the many mistakes in the version first posted.

Entry 1572 — Another Scene from Werebird

September 16th, 2014

Act 1, Scene 3 from the 1998 version, made into a language poem by my OCR software:

AG’1’_ L,s.cene iL.:. HORACE., a.. man. in his early thirties, is p(3.cing in ?
dimly-lit, nondescript living room.

HORACE:

I.f only there were s ome t.h i.nq J could ‘do.
If “only there were something I could do.
But. neither reason- rio r the co.s.t.Li.e s t,

deogerant available can work
me int~ his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my d.eep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’sTb~eat~’of aid.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly thtough
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul di~ea toso~ething only owls could See,
my heart a crypt about to close oq it.
Oh, me;’ oh, my; oh, me; oh , me; ch , me.’

MARGARET: Oh, me; oh, me; oh, me? Good Jesus, Horace,
what is wrong with you?! (She bursts onstage out of a door
as {3he finishes putting on a bathrobe.), The day haS shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ouqht; to be in pe.9,
not ~asping pathological oh me’s
against the sleep of your superiors!
HORACE:     Oh, Mother, cte?rest Mother, you can’t know
how miserably unbearable my.li:E;e’s
beC;Ome. It’s but ap earthworm sandwich made
. with neither mayonnaise nor butter. Eau:h
day Ursula repudiates my love
with greater a.x:dor! What, oh, what, am I–‘
(Enter JULIUS through a window.)
MARGARET: Good Christ, what 101,ltthrough yonder winC;l.ow breaks?
Quick, Horace, cluj:) the creep!

JULIUS: Hey, just· a minute. I don’t breaka nothin’.
sheisa wid~ open. And she looksa just li’ke mine, so I
Youse got no calla to clubba me.

The windo”,:,
comes t’rough.

HORACE: Of COU-rse I do! In case you didn’t know, it’s a9ainst the
law to come through other peoply’s windows without permission.

JULIUS:

Even if I’m a qreama come t’ro1.).gh?

HO~CE; What are you talking about? You’re no dream come true;
you’re a damned burglar who’s just gained illegal entry to this bouse
and I’m going to. call the police!
JULIUS: Hey, wait.a minute, Boss. I might be a damma burglar, but
youse hearda the lady: she ,says I’m a lout. Besides, I am a dfeama
come t’hrough~-if you wantBa this Ursula.

MARGARET: Give me the damned club, Horace.
cretin if you won’t! You call the police.

I’ll take care of this
(She approacnes Horace.)

HO~CE: Hold on, Mqther.
about Urs u.La..

First I want to find out what he knows

,}OLIUS:’ Hey, Boss, I don’t know t h i.s a U,:t::sula from a Lemona meringuea
pie, but womens , thems I doe.s a know, an’ I kriows a how t o get them.

HORACE:

Terrific.

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JULIUS: Hey, I knows a froma the o~tside youse nee9sa the help with
the gir~.. .I got p sych.i.ca gi£t.sa” an ‘they tellsa .me , That ‘.sa .t he
real reason I’ma climJ::} t’hrough the window. Your needsa was forcin’
me to comea to youse!
MARGARET: All right, then, I’ll c9.11 the police.

HORA~E:

No, Mother, please. Let me just hear what he has to say.

~GARET: Good grief.

HORACE:

So? Just how do you think you can help me with Ur.sula?

JULIUS: Hey, who knows? ‘ All, I can tella youse is
And it won’t costa you a arma an.’ a lega, neither!
of it in advancea; is all I’ma charge.

that .1 finds a way.
Five dolla, twenty

HORACE., sar.c~stically:

That’s all?

JULIUS:

Yeah, I feelsa sorrY for youse, so I do thisa ~or almost free.

HORACE:
what you
trying to

You’re crazy. You haven’t given
might be able to do. It ‘.s pretty
wriggle out of–

me the slightest idea of
obvious that you’re just

JULfUS: Hey, Boss, I know I’ma ask youse to takea tb.e big chance, so
I tellsa you what: I do it for free, and only fifteen dolla in advance!

$HORACE:

You’re really out of your-,-

JULIUS: Hey, yquse can even pay me in advance after I do it, howsa
that for fair?
MARGARET..:. Good grief. Horj3cce, r’m going back to bed. If you finally
call the police and they want a statement from me, they’ll have to
wait until the mOfning. (Exit.)

HORACE:

I really shQuld call the police.

It’s ab–

JULIUS, rushing over to him:
really helpa youse!

No,no, Boss, don’t do that!

I can

HORACE:

Get away from me!

(At. this point, JULIUS bumps into Horace.)

JVLIUS:

‘Scuza.

(He hurriedly backs away from Horace.)

,~()RACE, picking up the phone: I was insane to believe even for a ‘moment
that you could help me witn Ursula. You’re just trying to trick me out
of teac;::hing you,that you can’t just climb in any .open window that you–
JULIUS: No, no, youse got it alIa wrong.. Look, here’sa my picture
w i.t.ha my namea, Sean 0′ Casey,ona the. ba.ck., (He pul.lsout a wallet
and hands Ho x ac e a photograph from it.) That’ sa from when. I havea
the beard. It I tricksa youse, youse can justa show the polic::ea
!
7. ,\hat an’ havea me ina the sla~er quick. That way yousea covered,
! ‘Bbss. Trusta me, I no tricksa youse.
I     I
\ (HORACE, having by now put
,     I
~~e phone back down, takes the picture.)
HORACE: Wait a minute. This is a picture of Urs1,lla!. And tbat’s my
wallet you have! (Pause.)
JULIUS:

Yeah, yousea right: it’sa your walletl

(Pause. )

But how is

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it it’sa me what’s got it, hurih ? .(Brief Pause.) Hey, Bo s-s , you ever
hears ofa the psychokinesis? Well, that’s only one ~fa my psychica
giftsa. Anothef, which I justa remember, ~sa hypnosis. I can use
that for youse with this Ursul?l. So forgeta the slammer an’ hirea
me, Boss .

HO.RACE:

. Ah, you. propose to _hypnotize, Ursula .i.nt.o .Lov.Lnq .me.,

JULIUS: Nah, I can’ta do that.
they’re chickensa;

I only makesa people thinka

HORACE:
JULI.uS:

You can only hypnotize people into thinking they’re chickens!?
Youse thinks thisah.ypnosis isa easy?

HORACE:

No, not necessarily.

I just think that if–

JULIUS List~n, if a the hypnosis was so .easy, I coulda make youse
gi vea me everything .i rta the house an’ let me g.o. viChy I no do that?
‘Cause the hypnosis, she’sa hard. Usea the bean, Boss. Nobody hasa
the room for mqre than a little ofa the hypnotic capacity, an’ all I
hasa isa for to changea people intoa the chicken. Or vice ofa the
versa.
HORACE; But what possible good would it do to turn Ursula into
a chicken?
JULIUS: Hey, what kinda man is gonna stay with a chickena? This guy
who got her, he’sa drop ~er fast!

HORACE:
JULIUS;
HORACE:

How ignorant you are, poor fool. No man
on earth could disconnect from Ursula
though she erupt in boils and breathe black flames!
Her sout’would make a ‘coat of leprosy
a fa~hion all Chicago’d fight to wear!
The filigree of her least thought would win
a thousand worshippers through any stink
O£. cancer you could .ma.r .he,r beauty with!
The perk of what she is, is far too rare
to be susceptible–
OkaYJ okay, I getsa your driftal
.Be s i.de.s , there’s no
way I could let you desecrate the flow
of her nobility of form and hue.
There’s no way I could let ~ou desecrate–

JULIUS: Okay, okay! I tellsa you what I does: I hYPnotizea the guy
she’sa hot into; I makesa hima .the chicken. (Pause.) That way, he
doesn’tadroppa her, she dropsa him!
HORACE: I don’t know. She’s very loyal. And making ,him act like a
chicken wou Ldn ‘ t .make her boyfriend much less than the dwe eb he already
is. _ .
JULIUS: How you knows a that t.illa we tries it? (Pause.) iJusta give
it somea thought: what youse got to losea? If I no helpa youse, youse
just losea t.hei happ.Lnes,s ofa shu.ttin’ a poor misguideda soul what
comesa accidentally t’rough your window into the jaila. But if I
helpsa youse, youse winsa the Ur su La l (Pal,lse.)

HORAC;E:

You can really hypnotize people?

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,

JULIUS:
HORACE:
himself
it might
JUL,IUS:
HORACE:

Sure!
it could work. T~is North–that’s her boyfriend–fancies
a philosopher. If he suddenly started acting like a chicken,
so disturb his mind that he’d forget even Ursula.
North? ~ot Larry North?
Yes. Why? Db you know him?

JULIUS, laughing: Why, “lure. Thisa North, he’s my nexta-door
neighbor except for a few houses.

So~ you wouldn’t want to hypnotize him, after all.

JULIUS: ,Hey, sure I doesl For fifteen dollars inna the advance.
He’sa not my friend, justa my neighbor. An’ he’sa too big onna the
positivista school of philosophy fora my tastea.
HORACE: And you could hypnotize him.
JULIUS: Hey, I guarantees it, Boss.
HORACE, suddenly exploding: Okay, okayl What have I got to lose?
For neither reason nor the costliest
deoder,ant available has worked
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-.breath . .

JULIUS, overlapping the last part of Horace’s speech:
spirit, Boss. (Curtain.)

.

AmazingCounters.com

Entry 1571 — A Scene from Werebird

September 15th, 2014

My plan to post a copy of Werebird is indefinitely on hold. For one thing, I found two versions of it that seem equal to me.  Both seem flawed, as well. For another, my OCR stinks. If I re-typed the thing, I’d have a decent copy of it faster than I can get one now, using my OCR software. I think it’d take a full day, at least, and I’m not up to that much work right now.  Perhaps I would be if I had a version I liked. I have to read both versions and come up with something significantly less over-plotted.

What follows (in blank verse) is the first scene of my 1996 version,  as close to looking the way I’d like it to as I could get it.

Act 1, scene i: The stage is dim.  On it three witches, barely perceptible, speak in low voices.

WITCH #1: Three times the brinded cat has yowled.

WITCH #2:  Four times the earth itself has growled.

WITCH #3:  The dank ferns chime, “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”  (At this point HORACE appears approaching from the auidence.  His speech over-laps, and drowns out most of what the witches are saying.)

HORACE: If only there were something I could do.
If only there were something I could do.
But neither reason nor the wham of the
most costly underarm deodorant
available can work me into his
sweet place in her esteem. Nor have my deep-
wailed applications to the heavens won
me even half-a-wingbeat’s-worth of help.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly through
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul dimmed to something only owls could see,
my heart a crypt about to close on it ..
And th’ scald of my–

WITCH #1: Round about the cauldron go;
in the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad that under coldest stones
thirty days has frozen its bones–
add its urine to the pot
to inspire the brew to clot.

ALL WITCHES: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH #2: Fillet of a fenny snake,
in the cauldron boil and bake;
eye of cow and mousie’s tail,
virgins’ spit and wool of whale,
For a charm most wondrous subtle,
Like a mad-mind boil and bubble.

ALL WITCHES: Double, double toil and, trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH #3:  Scale of dragon–  (At this point HORACE has mounted the stage.)

WITCH #1:                            Peace! He’s here!

HORACE:                                                          Ye gods,
from what far planet have you sprung? Or do
you come from Jersey? You appear to know
what I am saying from the way you each
at once your choppy finger lays upon
your skinny lips. You should be women, yet
your beards forbid me to interpret you
as such. Speak.if you can: say what you are.

WITCH #2: Owls. Owls are we, with art to see.

WITCH #1: Who who. Who who.

WITCH #3: For three long threes of centuries
we’ve waited in time’s darkest bin
for something new–

WITCH #2:  –to winsomely do–

WITCH #1:  –to counteract the world’s drear lack–

WITCH #3 –of narrative illustrative–

WITCH #2: –of how much men can win to when
they commit their souls to myth-large goals.

WITCH #3: And so this night we’ve come to light
a new pulse to your time of rue.

WITCH #1, holding up a flask: A sip of this and every kiss
its sipper gets he will regret.

ALL WITCHES: For every night the moon’s alight,
his brain, will thicken, and he turn chicken!

WITCH #1, handing the flask to Horace: In short, take this to win the bliss
for which you’ve yearned,

WITCH #2:   . . . and will have earned …

WITCH #1:  . . .   if you know who to give it to!
(The WITCHES all laugh. HORACE accepts the flask blankly. Pause.)

WITCHES #2 & #3: Who who, who who.

HORACE:     Ah, yes, I’ve got it! Yes! (The WITCHES disappear, but HORACE is too excited to notice.) Yes! Now at last
you’re finished, Larry! My long days and nights
of praying into every crevice that
a god or spirit could inhabit has
at last paid off! Dear Ursula will soon
be mine! Oh, yippee! Yippee and yahoo!

MARGARET, offstage: Yahoo? And yippee? Jesus, Horace, what
in Hell’s the matter with you? (As she speaks, the bursts out of the room she was in. She is partway into a bathrobe that she finishes putting on.)

HORACE:                                          Mother? How
can you– (The lights go up to reveal HORACE and MARGARET’S apartment.) My gosh, I’m home.

MARGARET:     The day has shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ought to be in bed,
not cannonading idiotic cheers
against the ramparts of my hard-won  sleep!

HORACE:     But I still have the potion. It could not
have been all dream! Oh, yippee! Yippee and
yahoo!

MARGARET:     Goddamit, Horace, what is wrong
with you!?

HORACE:     Oh, Mother, Mother! Life is not
as viciously unfair as I once thought.
My cruel long absence from the arms and heart
of my beloved is about to end! (He holds up the flask.)
As soon as I’ve delivered this, she’s mine!
Oh, yippeee! Yippee and yahoo! (He exits.)

MARGARET:  Good god. (The scene ends.)
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Entry 1570 — Not William the Conquerer

September 14th, 2014

In an article for the the latest issue of The New Criterion, Gary Saul Morson quotes this from a dialogue by Alexander Herzen, the Russian provocateur of letters: “An end that is infinitely remote is not an end, but, if you like, a trap; an end must be nearer–it ought to be, at the very least, the laborer’s wage, or pleasure in the work done.”

I prefer Emerson’s idea of hitching one’s wagon to a star but agree with the above, I suppose, if you know the end you are aiming for is infinitely remote.  Otherwise, I fear I have Nietzschean elitist contempt for anyone without some goal vastly superior to the laborer’s wage (although only a little bit superior to pleasure in the work done.

One reason I bring this up, aside from my inner-directed near-obsession with attaining some grand goal or other is my impression that just about no one else I know seems to have any particular goal in life, other than having nice things, financial security and friends.   They would agree with what Morson goes on to say after quoting Herzen:  “Each present moment, and each human life, is precious in itself, not just as a means to some exalted goal.  This is a lesson revolutionaries never seem to learn.”

Actually, the majority of present moments are at best innocuous.  As for the preciousness of each human life, that our species seems to have made that its Primary Moral Truth is the reason I feel myself to be some kind of aberration–or would if it weren’t that there are people who think there are some things more valuable than human life.  Morson would probably agree that liberty is, since liberty is what would be lost if reason controlled lives (from what he otherwise says in his article, which includes the Tolstoy quotation that I re-quoted yesterday).  Yes, liberty is more valuable than life–but only if you use it for more than getting your kids through college.  Unless you mistakenly believe that doing that is an important step toward getting them, or someone else, to another galaxy.

Sure, the latter is no doubt meaningless, but I hold that there are degrees of meaninglessness, and a final understanding of existence, which exploration of space may be a sine qua non for the achievement of,  is substantially less meaningless than  whatever it is that most people seem to be living for.

I do believe that all we have are moments, but that it’s foolish to be content with each of them equally.  One should be aware that no moment is of any value unless it contains a lot more than the present.  I would As I’ve said quite a few times, just about the only times I’ve experienced such moments have been when I’ve taken some work of art or verosophy into what seems to me of Final Positive Value to Mankind(!) and makes me remember other moments when I’ve felt the same way about something I’ve been working on, and makes me remember in reverse later such moments I’m sure I will have.  Urp.

I have very few such moments now.  (Yes, boo hoo.)  Certainly not right now, although I have a hydrocodone in me.  It occurred to me a moment after writing that the the best moments also contain some hint of an applauding audience, and now I really feel sad, as opposed to self-disgusted, because I would have wanted my parents in that audience, and too many others now dead.  I think now of my poor alcoholic father whom I always looked down upon for not seeming to have any real goal, realizing (as I sort of have many times before) that he did have a superior goal: it was that his children have superior goals and reach them.  He was proud of my achievements, however minor they were, once introducing me to someone as a playwright the day after a play of mine became a finalist in some play competition I lost.

That reminds me that I was going to post a copy of that play on the Internet yesterday, but found I had no computer file of it.  Today I hope to scan it.  It may take a while to correct the conversion to readable text, but I vow to do it and post the damned thing.  I’m megalomaniacally thinking of then posting an extreme revision to update it to the present.  I wrote the first draft of it more than forty years ago.  Werebird is the name of it.  A young man’s dream of marrying a certain young girl is threatened by his sudden propensity for becoming a chicken when the moon is full.  The Marx brothers and Macbeth and his wife are in it, albeit with different names.  I saying so much about it to psych myself up–and I want as many people to know of my vow to make sure fear of Horrid Embarrassment will force me to live up to it.  (Although I have probably horrideously forsaken at least a thousand previous such vows.  But I’ve begun scanning.  Pray to Apollo for me–and Dionysius.  You don’t have to pray to Athena–I know she’s on my side; how could it be otherwise considering the wonderful poem I   made in homage to her?)  No “urp” this time but an “Excelsior and Gahzoo the the power of 97!”

With this word, I brought this entry up to a total of 900 words.  As an extreme example of Riesman’s inner-directed man and thus neurotically obsessed with goals even tinier than this one, I must now write another hundred or more.  They will probably be filler butread them anyway: who knows what I may say.  And, gosh, the way I’m going now, I may keep going until I hit two thousand! My scan, by the way, is up to page 7.  52 pages to go after that.

I glanced at the first page, by the way, and really liked the first stack of lines (in blank verse–the scenes my Macbeth and Lady Macbeth characters are in are in blank verse).  The process is going much faster than I thought it would, but I have no idea how good the result will be.  As always when doing anything concerned with pages, I curse the dryness of my aged fingers.  I suppose I should use hand lotion much more than I do.  With that, I pronounce this entry done, with a word count of 1066.  Phooey, my counter just changed that to 1074.  It didn’t want me to brag I was William the Conquerer, I guess.  But it got me to go past a count of 1100.
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Entry 1569 — Tolstoy on Reason

September 13th, 2014

An aphorism by Tolstoy has been bothering me: “If we conceded that human life can be governed by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.”  One problem is that Tolstoy evidently means “governed by reason in combination with complete knowledge of existence.”  If everything that happens in one’s life is pre-determined, which is what I take him to worried about (because if governed by perfect reason, it would be), it would not be what he means by life.  It would, I guess, be mechanical.  As if it isn’t now.  In any case, there would be no meaning to it.  Well, just shooting the breeze here, I say so what?  I don’t believe life, or anything, has any meaning–in the final analysis.  We make up goals and call their achievement, or any attempt to achieve them, what gives life meaning.  Why?  Because our biology makes us.  Animals are supposed to be inferior to us because they obey biological imperatives like satisfying their hunger or reproductive drives whereas only we need to satisfy our  drive to find Higher Meaning.

Once it’s satisfied, then what?  Where are we then?  Of course, it can never be wholly satisfied, which keeps us going.  And their are human meanings for everything, just no meanings for what any human meaning means.  By which I mean that poetry, for instance, is meaningful as a source of pleasure, but pleasure, in the final analysis, is not meaningful.  It pleases us, which is a good thing, but not meaningful.  Unless we want arbitrarily to say that being pleased is the ultimate meaning of life.  But, gosh, animals can be pleased!  And who is to say machines can’t be?

Is this the existentialists’ philosophy?  I believe they were bothered by meaninglessness but thought themselves courageous for trucking on, anyway.  I myself exist because I have to.  I have no say in the matter at all.  I passively experience everything my body (which includes my brain, which controls it with no input whatever from me) . . . without comment.  My brain is responsible for what “I” am saying here, not I.

My brain has free will in the sense that it can to a certain degree add what it alone is to the orders it makes the rest of my body obey.  That is, the external environment, including the laws of nature, plus the make-up of my body, determines each situation the brain must react to . . . except the unique nature of the brain.  This latter adds a sort of touch of freedom, or difference from what the body would otherwise do, to what the body does.  Note that the body also has free will: something of what it does depended on what it is only.

It could be that my urwareness or soul or mind or self or whatever is a material part of the body whose existence it is now experiencing.  No way to know.  Also immaterial.  Uh,make that “irrelevant.”

1. Have I said anything coherent?

2. If I have, have I said anything college freshmen haven’t said thousands of times?

I don’t care.  This entry is now more than 500 words in length.  As an inner-directed pre-21st-Century Man, that fulfills me.  My life has meaning.  which brings me to another subject: the value of each present moment.  I’ll postpone discussion of that until tomorrow–because I gotta get to work on my novel.  It’s mentally crippled, I’m more and more sure, but a good boy.  I can’t abandon it.

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Entry 1568 — Me ‘n’ Riesman, Part 2

September 12th, 2014

After more reading of The Lonely Crowd, I’ve decided I’m very much inner-directed, according to Riesman’s description of the type.  I got him wrong when I though his inner-directed type was similar to my rigidnik.  I now an unsure how his autonomous type differs from his inner-directed type.  According to Riesman, many of his readers, including colleagues of his, confused the two.  I now see why–and Riesman himself seems to consider it a natural mistake.  (He is excellently self-critical, it seems to me, but has surprising blind spots: for instance, about the possibility of innate psychological tendencies: he mentions such a possibility every once in a while, but quickly drops the subject, seeming to take social determinism the only important kind of determinism in the main body of his book–or so my impression is after not going very far in it.)

I’m also wondering how Riesman’s other-directed types ultimately differ from his tradition-directed types.  Possibly, I just thought, because their memories coincide with their environmental input?  They pray to whomever their tribal god is only partly because they’ve been trained to, but mostly because everyone else in the tribe is.  The inner-directed person prays to his god because of his indoctrination entirely: he more or less has to because he is part of Riesman’s inner-directed society and thus not sure of having the right people to imitate.

The autonomous person will differ from the inner-directed person only in that he will be much more likely to question his indoctrination.

* * *

Last night while lying in bed hoping for sleep to come, I suddenly had a few ideas for poems, two of which follow:

intuition + reason = moonlight + pond

MathemakuOceanaI’m not sure whether they’re finished or not, or whether, if finished, they’re keepers or not.
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Entry 1567 — The Silliest Euphemism Yet?

September 11th, 2014

Earlier today I rode my bike into a section of town I don’t go into very often on my bike, although I ride in someone else’s car through it fairly often on the way to the matches my senior men’s tennis team plays during the fall and winter.  Then I don’t pay much attention to it.  I had to go into it today to have my racquet restrung.  What was interesting about the trip was a sign I noticed while riding past a series of automobile dealerships: “Pre-Owned Cars,” it said.  “What in the world?” said I to myself.  Perhaps many of you have seen such signs many times by then, so it isn’t as new to you as it was to me, so it took me a moment to respond to myself with an “Oh,”  perceiving that some car salesman had come up with the notion that people will take “pre-owned cars” to be superior to “used cars” (and “pre-owned car salesmen” not the degenerates that “used car salesmen” are).  Is it working?  Is it possible that right now some yahoo is enthusiastically telling another about the pre-owned cars he saw on sale for only slightly more than the used cars being sold in the lot next door?

I prefer to think the auto dealer is being comic.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed I’m now getting five or six spam messages daily telling me that drinking water is bad for me.  I wonder what’s going on.  I haven’t read any of them.  Too rigidly certain they are nonsense.  But it’s interesting to think how anyone could believe such a thing, if anyone actually does.
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Entry 1566 — “View from a Small Bridge”

September 10th, 2014
View from a Small Bridge

water
water rippling nowhere
             in particular
but 
       everywhere
                     in general

This poem is based on my crossing a small bridge over a canal and for some reason finding the canal water especially restful.  I thought out a haiku about it that included the present title of the poem and its first three lines, in slightly different words.  Then I added “but everywhere in general”–mainly, I have to admit, because it gave the poem, I thought, a feeling of portentously mysterious but essentially vacuous depth.  But I’ve gradually come to think it also an answer to my wondering where the water would ripple if not to nowhere.  So  it makes rational sense once one considers where water might go when made more than water (or the word , “water,” made more than a straight-forward denotation).
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The Great Advantage of Books

September 9th, 2014

Books can not be harmed from afar the way Internet texts can.

My apologies for the stupid bold-faced enlarged blue words in my recent entries, and for the misspelled words I’ve replaced them with because misspelled words don’t bother me as much as big blue ones.  Nothing I know of to prevent them, nor the miscounts I’m now getting.

Verily, I say unto you, spammers should be beaten severely, for the pain of the mental violence they visiteth upon their superiors can be as great as the pain of physical violence that should be visited on them.

Later Note: I guess all the crap I’ve been angry about won’t necessarily show up on my readers’ screens.  I hope that’s the case.  I may have solved my own problem by switching to Foxfire, which has a box one can check to outlaw pop-ups (thanks to a tip from Karl Kempton).