2020-07-04 09:45

(from 15 Jan 2015) Culture or delusion: the distinction rests on how many people share it.

journal
2020-07-03 14:07

A journal entry from 24 Jan 2013

A dream last night: I had been found guilty of a crime — and rightfully so, a crime I had actually committed. While waiting for the sentencing, I was kept in an “enormous room,” like the Cummings novel. I met many colorful characters milling about, waiting as I was for their own judgments. One character turned out to be a judge in disguise — the very one presiding over my case. I learned that I had already earned nine out of the ten things required to have my sentence commuted. The judge awarded me the tenth because of some generous, compassionate thing he had seen me do while we were in the enormous room. He said that by doing so, I had demonstrated how much I had changed for the better since I had committed the original crime.

I was grateful, but I knew (and did not say) that both actions — the crime, and the subsequent act of compassion — were driven by the same motivation, and that in truth I had not changed at all. The only thing that had changed was how society saw the two actions: they claimed one was a crime and the other a charity, and that therefore no single person could have done both without having gone through some sort of transformation.

But I knew otherwise.

journal
2020-06-28 09:45

26/ Week of 22 June

finished
2020-06-21 07:30

25/ Week of 15 June

finished
2020-06-19 07:30

JS Ondara

(I originally posted this at the group music blog, Just Good Music, on 1 July 2019. But the Indieweb is all about owning your content, so I’m giving it a new home here. Also, I finally bought his first album yesterday and have been listening to it. Really excellent stuff.)

The other night I had reason to hang around the International Arrivals gate at MSP airport for several hours while the person we were waiting for was being hassled by customs agents.

We were sitting near the spot where oversized checked luggage is deposited. A guitar case appeared. Acoustic dreadnought case by the looks of it — sturdy enough to be thrown around the hold of a plane, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Huge stenciled letters along one side: JSONDARA. Soon, a very dapper young man retrieved the case. He wore skinny slacks, short boots, a jacket, fedora. He gathered one or two other items from the nearby carousel and was on his way.

Later, I searched for JSONDARA — which for some reason I had interpreted as an artfully misspelled Jason Dara. Nope: JS Ondara. His website tells me that he’s from Nairobi and that he eventually settled in Minneapolis — because Bob Dylan is from Minnesota.

You can find a selection of videos at his website. (The guitar case from the airport is in the opening shot of the video for Torch Song.) And here’s a spectacular cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit that evokes — and arguably surpasses — Tori Amos’s early and transformative version.

He’s the real thing.

music
2020-06-15 11:45

He’s a walking example of the Uncanny Valley. He’s a simulacrum: not quite human, but rather a blubbery sack of basic urges that’s trying to imitate certain aspects of being human but always failing in both a comical and terrifying way.

Anyone who admires him, or identifies with him, or finds his deeply cruel authoritarianism comforting are, therefore, themselves broken in some way.

2020-06-14 08:00

24/ Week of 8 June

finished
2020-06-13 17:45

In the Shed

If you work at something for over thirty years, failing almost the whole time, failing with joy — you may learn, eventually, that swimming against the current confers a peculiar sort of strength. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

2020-06-10 16:00

CG Jung:

If there were no imperfections, no primordial defect in the ground of creation, why should there be any urge to create, any longing for what must yet be fulfilled?

commonplace
2020-06-07 07:15

Judith Shklar, Ordinary Vices:

Far from being an amoral free-for-all, liberalism is, in fact, extremely difficult and constraining, far too much so for those who cannot endure contradiction, complexity, diversity, and the risks of freedom.

commonplace