Saturday, April 24, 2004

The penitents in Dante's Purgatorio are movving towads eden. Their journey ends in a redemption of thier selves - spirtual and physical. Once again, they can be 'naked and unashamed.'

I'm wearing my mother's dress. Although I'm not sure who's worn it longer now, me or her. She used to wear it sometimes on Sundays when I was fairly small - maybe eight or ten (which is really young, now that I think about it: alive for only eight years? Small). And I have a picture of her wearing it sometime around '94 - '95, holding Ebony and Merlin's leashes in the yard.

Anyway, I started wearing it sometime around then - which was I guess late high school for me. I can remember going for brunch with James, wearing the dress and my glow-in-the dark John Fluevogs, which were subsequently ruined by cat vomit. But they didn't fit anyway, as much as I wanted them to.

In college, I wore it a lot. On my second or third date with G, I was wearing it when he asked me how I managed such a delightfully small waist on a steady diet of beer and tater tots. I still don't have a good answer for that; at the time I just blushed prettily (as I was wont to do).

Today, Brian and I woke early (or I woke early, and darted around the house like a hummingbird until he got up, too. Then we went of a delightfujl morning walk: we started at the dog park (where we played with a lab mix named Pansy, a pit bull named Toro, and a pony-like Great Dane named Mojo). Then we wandered down to the Castro, where we are brunch (macaroni-and-corn pancakes with blood orange mimosas), bought canvas folding chairs, and went on to Delores Park.

It wasn't until Brian started to get a migrane (ow) that we headed home. And now I'm sitting in the dark quiet apartment, reading Karen Armstrong and writing to you, and thinking about my dress, which has parrots and flowers in it, and has started to look worn at the shoulders.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I was already late, it wasn't really the bus's fault. The extra wait certainly didn't help, though.

When the bus finally arrived, there were enough of us to fill three busses. I stood, looming over a squirming toddler in his fathers lap, a man's elbo in my back and some woman squished up against my boob. The woman kept trying to make conversation with the toddler, then grinning up at me, as if to say 'aren't we great chums now that we've shared this adversity?.'

I smiled grimly, inwardly reciting a litany of complaints that, in sum, made me want to leave San Francisco, break up with Brian, and go live on an island somewhere where the only thing I'd have to do in the mornings would be to wipe the sleep from my eyes, pull a knit cap over my matted hair, and shake my fist at passing boats and seagulls.

Although, I guess I'd keep Brian, so long as he didn't keep eating all the Amaranth Flakes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Become who you are"

I first read Pindar in High School, after stumbling across that quotation (which the Nietzschians among you no doubt recognize) in an academic journal.

Now I really had no business reading Pindar, Academic Journals or Nietzsche in High School. I was really too young, and on some level still regarded 'becoming who I was' as the quest for the most authetic punk-rock boots. And so the quotation nagged at me, a constant reminder of things beyond my ken.

Looking back now, I can see this was a my Tragic Flaw - I really had no idea who I was - I didn't really even understand the question, or how it might be played out in any real way.

But I'm at work now, and shouldn't be blogging.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Shaw's comment on my Jesus-complex post (two down) got me thinking about belief, and Gibson's Passion, and Religion in American Society Today. In some ways I think The Passion is just great - its Medici-like gradiosity harkens back to a simpler time, when folks who had money could spend it on stupidly huge declarations of belief. Its just out there, and in some ways, that rocks.

On the other hand, there's the whole 'Jews killed Jesus, you're all going to hell for not thinking what I think' thing (which also harkens back to a simpler time, when folks in power could expend it on stupidly huge demonstrations of force) is a bit hard to stomach, and a distasteful thing to endorse. And I hate gory movies.

Do I have a point? No.

But I do wonder sometimes about my own beleifs, in religion and politics. I'm so postmodern sometimes, I'm always looking for another angle, another way of looking. Maybe that's why I love Dante so much. His universe is more limited and knowable than mine, and it is his, entirely.
Found poetry inspired by the 23rd page/fifth sentence meme. If you're freakin' tired of said meme, please do not click on the link. You have been warned.

Monday, April 19, 2004

So, after calling in sick (with every intention of spending a nice day in slack-off mode), I ended up actually being sick most of the day. Is the universe bent keeping me honest, or what?

Heh. That reminds me. When I was a kid, I could never understand why I should just try to be good. Being good had no draw for me - I wanted to be better than good: I wanted to be Jesus. I can recall my mother, or some sunday school teacher, telling me about the second coming, me trying to act all casual, asking "could Jesus be a girl this time?" as if I had no designs on Mesiiah-ship myself.

Later, when I was about eight or nine, I the coming of the apocalypse was one of my biggest fears. I've always been a slacker.

Friday, April 16, 2004

On Thursday, I posted:

Why do I get so annoyed sometimes? Is it anyone's fault but mine that folks just don't get what I'm on about?

As Shaw so kindly reminds me, even the most off-the-cuff blog entry finds an audience, and the less information said entry gives, the more likely its Rorsachification by the reader. I'm tempted to put the entry in context, but I'm never sure how much real life I want to expose to the internet world. So for now, Rorsachificate away.
I can't help but follow instructions:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

If we also set out to deprive the common man, [who has neither science nor art] of his religion we shall clearly not have the poet's authority on our side.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Why do I get so annoyed sometimes? Is it anyone's fault but mine that folks just don't get what I'm on about?

For once, my result doen't match Bibliogal's or Aaron's. Hm.

Which poem are you?

Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda

Aw, you're a romantic. You believe in true love and all that sort of stuff. How cute are you? To you, love is incredible and amazing.

Personality Test Results

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Could it be I've come into my own?

Monday, April 12, 2004

By the way, this made my weekend.
I'm so tired of my tendancy to overshare. I need to cultivate an air of mystery, darnit.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

What a craptacular day. I wan to go home, crawl into the tub, and read me some Bonhoeffer.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, April 05, 2004

In his examination of the Greek psyche, Bruno Snell adapted this theory to account for the rise of the individual in Greek society. In Snell’s view, self-awareness, what he calls the “discovery of the mind” comes into being when desire is frustrated.

. . Love which has its course barred, and fails to reach its fulfillment, acquires a particularly strong hold over the human heart. The sparks of a vital desire burst into flame at the very moment when the desire is finally blocked in its path. It is the obstruction which makes the wholly personal feelings conscious . . . [the lover] seeks the cause in his own personality (Snell, 1952, p 53).

Literary theorist Anne Carson takes this idea further, suggesting that formation of self also results from literacy. “Reading and writing change societies,” she writes,

As an individual reads and writes he gradually learns to close or inhibit the input of his senses, to inhibit or control the responses of his body, so as to train his energy and thought upon the written words . . . In making the effort he becomes aware of the interior self as an entity separable form the environment and its input, controllable by his own mental action . . . Literate training encourages a heightened awareness of personal physical boundaries and a sense of those boundaries as the vessel of ones self. To control these boundaries is to posses oneself. For individuals to whom self-possession has become important, the influx of sudden, strong emotion from without cannot be an unalarming event (Carson, 1985, pp 44-45).

Dante was the embodiment of this literate lover. In his youth, He fell in love with a young Florentine woman his own age. He wrote of his first encounter with this woman, "who was called Beatrice (she who blesses) by many who knew not what to call her" in his book Vita Nova, or The New Life. Dante described not only the inception of his love for Beatrice, but also the turmoil this love created within him.
Dante first encountered Beatrice when they were both nine years old. At the instant at which he caught sight of her, Dante felt his life changed, and his very soul cried out. First, "the spirit of life, which dwells in the most secret chamber of the heart," spoke these words: "Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi," (behold a god stronger than I, who, in coming, shall rule over me). After the spirit of life had spoken, the "spirit of the soul," which "dwells in the high chamber to which all the spirits of the senses carry their perceptions," called out "Apperuit iam beatitudo vestra" (now the joy and blessing which is yours has appeared). Finally, the "natural spirit," which "dwells in that place where our nourishment is supplied," cried out, weeping, "Heu miser! quia frequenter impedus ero deinceps" (Alas, poor me! For from now on I often will be hindered). The arrival of Beatrice announces the overmastering of Dante’s ego, of his basic appetites and desires; Dante is now beholden to something higher.
The literate mindset craves control, of self and of fate. For good or for ill, the literate mind would rather master the helm of its own fate than leave its course to external controls. Tragedy comes when we lose that control, or, perhaps more accurately, when we are reminded that control is no more than vain illusion.

In his Poetics, Aristotle defines the proper length of a tragedy as being sufficient for “the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, [to] admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad.” Notice here that a tragedy is defined as being any change in fortune, whether from good to bad, or bad to good. The change itself, the uncontrollable movement of fortune, is tragic.

But I could be wrong.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Its always fun to argue with Brian. Limbic and Reptilian brains. Reason vs. desire. My faith in religion and philosophy vs his faith in science. Rochefort #8 vs Westmalle triple.

The reptilian brain is 'so far from the mind that 'it doesn't even know the head exists.' Rationality only moves us so far. Dante must leave Virgil behind at the gates of Paradise. Aristotle's 'correct habit' wins out over logic.

Blogida blogida blofida. Happy anniversary, Brian

So I think I might have seen a ghost yesterday morning. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before (the hippies downstairs were talking long into the night - outside my bedroom witndow), and when the alarm went off, I lifted my head in that semi-somnulent, prehistoric-beast-rising-from-the-deep-to-fight-Godzilla way that bad mornings start out.

In the corner of my eye, I saw a woman, standing by the closet door. Pale, with dark hair and sort of faded clothes. I turned towards her, and there was nothing there. Not even a pile of clothes or a hanging bathrobe. 'Hm, a ghost,' I thought, turned off the alarm clock, and went back to sleep.

So there you go. Probably a dream, but maybe not.
"It is the constructive task of a philosophy of a philosophy of mind to provide a set of terms in which ultimate judgements of value can be very clearly stated"
- Hampshire, Thought and Action

Wrassling with moral judgement is such a tricky task. On the one hand, we each posess (barring mental illness or injury) a definite, immutable sense of right and wrong - the gut feeling that tells you murder is wrong, betrayal distasteful. On more day-to-day scale, we all have opinions - feelings that go deeper than feeling and define who we are in and of the world.

But moral judgement itself can be distasteful. I mean really - the whole gay marriage debate? "Our" condemnation of Islamic nations and other 'evil doers?' Can we have a philosophy - 'a moral philosophy' - that does not impose upon us value judgements in the guise of 'human nature?'

Why am I so simple?

Maybe I should go to bed.