YOUR NAME IN PRINT (THE ULTIMATE IN NAVEL GAZING, PART ONE)

There was this episode of Night Court where Bull wrote a book. It was like his life story or something.

Anyways he went around trying to sell copies of it, but nobody wanted to read it. And as it turned out, he had paid some shady publisher like $1500 or so to print up a bunch of copies.

I think Harry was all, “Bull, you mean to tell me *you* paid the publisher to print your book, and not the other way around?”

That was back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, maybe. If I am remembering that episode right, which I may not be. Not sure if this is the episode I am thinking of or not.

But yeah, I self-published a novel like a year and a half ago. It didn’t cost me anything, though. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is a free service. Had Kindle been around way back when, Bull wouldn’t have gotten conned by the one guy.

Or maybe he would. I dunno. There are still pay-for-publishing services out there, and while I am confident they are not all shady as the one guy on that one episode of Night Court, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to print up a bunch of copies of my novel, at least not right now. If I ever have a few grand I don’t mind losing, well, maybe.

I can order single paperback copies of my novel from Amazon, anyways.

It’s a pretty good novel, I think. You should check it out sometime.

Anyways, as promised (what, you didn’t read this post? Shocking. 😉 ), I am going to review my own novel, “The Path UPWARD,” one chapter at a time. Since there are 25 chapters in that novel, there will be 25 posts in this series. (26, actually, if you count “part zero,” which is linked to above.)

So here we go:

Each chapter begins with a quote from a character in the novel. My intent in doing this was to introduce various characters and themes, as well as to advance the plot. This technique has been used fairly often, I think, notably in Frank Herbert‘s “Dune” novels. When I started “The Path UPWARD” I had recently read the first four “Dune” novels, and I guess my use of quotes was an homage to Frank Herbert.

Here is the opening quote:

“Anyone who thinks God doesn’t exist has never had the… experience of meeting Him.”

– Bahbi Singh, second grader at Joe Osterman Elementary in North East, Pennsylvania

It should be noted up front that “Bahbi” is not, as far as internet research has led me to believe, an actual name. I just made it up. It is, however, quite similar to the Hindi word “Bhahbi.” I found that out about halfway through writing the novel, and considered changing “Bahbi” to something else, but decided to leave it in. Since it isn’t a real name (as far as I know), I hoped that anyone who tried to look it up would find the same things I did, and if they were to do so, this would lend uncertainty and ambiguity to the narrative.

The opening quote was designed to do that, as well. In fact, the genesis of this entire novel came about when an older relative who is much more educated and well-read than I am happened to mention the concept of the “unreliable narrator” to me in an online conversation.

The things F. DarrylPink FloydMullin talks about in the first chapter and the rest of the novel are all true, at least from his point of view, but he makes fantastic claims and (as the reader sees later) sometimes has to retract certain things.

Might be worth mentioning that the opening line, “My name is F. Darryl Mullin,” is an homage to the first line of Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”: “Call me Ishmael.

And yes, referencing famous literary novels (and yes, I consider “Dune” to be literary, at least the first one) in my own obscure, self-published little novel is more than a little pretentious. I accept that, and I would encourage anyone who puts a sincere effort into their artistic pursuits to do the same. I.e. don’t sell yourself short, don’t compromise your vision just to make it more palatable, and strive to place your work alongside the work of people who inspired you.

Not that I think “The Path Upward” is on the same level as “Moby-Dick” or “Dune.” It isn’t, and I don’t.

And to be honest, I am the last person in the world you should be taking advice from, if you want your work to sell.

Herman Melville died in obscurity, I think I read once. I probably will too, but that doesn’t mean I am as good a writer as Herman Melville. But since I am drawing parallels between him and me, here’s one more: the Wikipedia article linked to above says that people initially confused Ishmael and Melville, because “Moby-Dick” is a first-person narrative.

At any rate, I would like to state this up front, before I go any further: I am not F. Darryl Mullin, and he is not me. He is a fictional character in a novel I wrote. I will get back to that novel now:

The first chapter sets the scene a little, and it reveals the basic premise of the novel: a small Indian child (Bahbi Singh) with a gift for physics has created a teleportation device. This device allows people to go to the afterlife and then return to the real world. The narrator of my novel is writing a book about Bahbi and his device.

Chapter One also mentions that Bahbi is (or believes himself to be) the reincarnation of a white American physicist named Herbert Klimpton. Klimpton built a device similar to Bahbi’s in the 1950s at Los Alamos (in the context of the novel), but Klimpton’s device failed to bring him back to the real world, and he got stuck in the afterlife.

He managed to get himself reincarnated as Bahbi Singh and build a better version of his device. The details of how Klimpton was reborn are fleshed out in a later chapter.

Anyways, it’s a pretty good novel. You should read it.

SONNETS

Hello all. All three of you. 🙂

I have decided to add a new category to my blog called “Poimes.” I have had a lifelong habit of writing poimes — sorry, “poems” — and never sharing them with anyone. For various reasons I would rather not talk about, I have gone through stages where I don’t write poetry at all; nonetheless, poetry is something I tend to come back to as a means of emotional release, if not creative expression. It isn’t really “expression” if I don’t share them with anyone, I mean.

So anyways, I am gonna write some poimes. Sonnets, specifically. The first one will be a Shakespearean sonnet, but I reserve the right to use other sonnet forms later.

I prefer to use accepted forms for my own poetry, simply because doing so requires a little more thought on my part. As a lifelong fan of not only poetry but also hip-hop and rap music, it’s not difficult for me to rhyme words in my native language of English. It is, however, a good bit more difficult to put rhyming words into a specific form.

“Ridin’ in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim…
You know, those were different times.
All the poets, they studied rules of verse,
And those ladies, they rolled their eyes.”

…and as anyone who has ever read my blog knows already, when writing prose, I have a tendency to just yammer on and on and on. So instead of doing that here, I will just go ahead and get on with it.

One more thing: like my M*A*S*H blog post, I will add to this post (and possibly others like it devoted to different poetic forms) over time. I guess for posterity’s sake (or whatever), I will add the date at the end of each sonnet.

These sonnets will be numbered, but the reader should realize that “Sonnet 1” does not mean “the first sonnet I ever wrote” or “the most important sonnet on this page” or anything like that. “Sonnet 1” simply means “the first sonnet I wrote after deciding to devote a blog page to sonnets.”

I have no clue how many sonnets will end up being here; if and when they are ever organized (and/or collated with existing sonnets) I reserve the right to order them (and edit them) however I see fit.

Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.

🙂

1

A lovely woman: red hair and eyes of green,
(Or blue?) Her stare conveyed some dark emotion,
Bejeweled daggers aimed at me, it seemed;
Who she was, I’ve not the foggiest notion.

I stood there wanting just to order coffee.
There in the line behind her piercing eyes;
I met her gaze, but couldn’t shake it off me
She seemed to know me, somehow, and despise.

Perhaps I misinterpreted her meaning.
Perhaps she simply didn’t like my shirt.
There wasn’t much to use by way of gleaning;
But her lovely eyes seemed aimed at me to hurt.

Perhaps it was opinions writ online
That set her iron conscience against mine.

2/28/18

2

I haven’t shown her the love she deserves, ’tis true,
Nor learned as much from her as I should know.
I often ignore her needs when I’m not blue;
Yet she’s been with me too long to let her go.

I keep her in her place, when I don’t feel
The selfish whim to hear her prattling tones.
They remind me of the fact that I am real,
A thing not hard to forget when one’s alone.

Once, a fit of drunken rage did nearly wreck
The humble affection she so selflessly gave.
I slung her ‘cross the room and cracked her neck
And nearly sent her early to the grave.

But all that’s in the past, behind us far:
My Yamaha, she’s been a great guitar.

3/6/18

3

Music soothes the savage beast, ’tis said.
‘Tis so: often have I sought succor in sound
Drowning sorrow’s weight upon my head
With tunes my listening ears have sought and found.

And too, I have been known to make my own
With cheap guitars, fake drums, as well as keys;
Over the years, much progress has been shown
I know much more than just the chord of G.

But lately my own body doth protest
My limbered fingers’ reach for chords to make.
The tendons in my elbow are a mess;
I cannot play a song without an ache.

For now I’ll listen, rest and maybe sing,
And for my elbow, maybe yoga is the thing.

3/10/18

4

An existential dread doth plague my soul.
Uncertainty’s feeble digit stabs my chest,
Taunting me and claiming I’m not whole.
Prithee, I beg, canst thou let me rest?

“No,” saith the poet and prophet of literary fame
(the Bard of Democracy, whose name you surely know);
“Soul is body, body and soul the same,
You fear because you’ve let your body go.”

“Get up and work,” the poet’s ghost did say,
“At what, it matters not especially much.
Make your body strong through work (and play)
And thereby quell uncertainty’s frigid touch.”

And thus the lesson learned from Leaves of Grass:
There comes a time to get up off one’s ass.

3/19/18

5

‘Tis not a thing requiring that much effort:
To dash off lines conforming to some scheme
Invented by some long-dead poet, tethered
To love’s undying death and money’s green.

A poet’s just a cobbler of sweet phrases
Meaningless in any concrete sense.
Behold: “the maiden’s breath like wine’s impatience,”
Does this mean one should hand the girl a mint?

Or does it speak to some unspoken feeling?
One often felt but seldom e’er expressed?
So difficult to say, it sets us reeling,
And often leaves us lonesome and depressed.

And so the poet spends his precious time
Forcing these absurdities to rhyme.

6-18-18

SO…

Hello internet. Again. 🙂

WIN_20180219_12_32_18_Pro

Just in case you’re part of the 99.999% of all humans who have never read anything from my blog before, allow me to take you on a brief tour:

There are (currently) five major categories of articles (Books, Humor, Movies/TV, Philosophy, and Politics), although there is significant carry-over from one category to the other. Some of the “humor” articles have political references, some of the “politics” articles have jokes, etc.

Also, it should be noted that “Philosophy” is more or less my default category. I used it in place of “Musings” or something, I suppose, and many of the articles in that category are just me rambling about whatever happened to be on my mind at the time. You may have noticed that this article is categorized as “Philosophy,” well, that’s just my go-to category.

I am not a philosopher, is what I am telling you. And I don’t really have a well-defined “personal philosophy,” but it’s somewhere along the materialist spectrum, though I am not sure exactly where.

Perhaps you can tell me… here are a couple of “musings” I wrote that at least use the word “materialism” in them:

Here’s the first one…

And here’s the second one.

Moving on, my “personal philosophy” also includes a heaping dose of nihilism, but I would not describe myself as a “nihilist” per se. I.e. I agree that morality and “meaning” and that sort of thing are not an intrinsic part of human existence, but that is not (is *not*) to say that I don’t place any value on morality, nor do I contend that life has no meaning.

On the contrary, I contend that morality and “meaning” are two of the most valuable things about life as a human, it’s just that each individual person has to work those things out for themselves. People aren’t born with moral values encoded into their DNA, I mean. Morals are things people are taught by other people, and they vary significantly from culture to culture and person to person.

My own sense of morality was taught to me by my parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends, and so on as a child. And after that, by various books I’ve read, TV shows and movies I have watched, people I have interacted with from different backgrounds than mine, and even through music I listen to.

That particular song (click the link in the previous paragraph) helped me distill my own sense of morality down to one question, one I ask myself whenever I consider any issue, whether it’s a political issue or whether it’s something mundane, like whether to kill a non-poisonous spider I find in the house or just catch it and take it outside. That question is, quite simply:

“Does this cause harm?”

In the case of a non-poisonous spider coming into my house, the spider itself is not causing any harm, beyond giving me a temporary surprise/scare when I first see it. But ignoring it could lead to a spider infestation in my house, which could potentially be harmful… or at least gross.

So, the way I see it, this non-poisonous spider is not causing any harm now, but just leaving it alone *could* cause harm later. So naturally, I want to get rid of the spider.

So what should I do? I see two options:

1. Squash the spider.

2. Catch the spider (these things work amazingly well, btw) and take it outside.

Both of these options eliminate the potential harm of a spider infestation, but are both of these options harmless?

No. Option 1 snuffs out the life of a harmless spider, who didn’t do anything other than startle me. Option 2 gives that spider a chance to set up shop elsewhere and perform its tiny little spider function of catching and eating insects, who, unlike the harmless spider, may end up biting me.

So squashing the spider directly harms the spider, and has the potential to harm me. There’s no way I know of to calculate the actual odds that a spider I don’t squash will end up catching a mosquito (e.g.) that would end up biting me (those odds are pretty low, I would imagine), nonetheless, that spider can’t catch anything if I squash it. And mosquitoes carry diseases, in case you forgot.

As a matter of fact, I caught the non-lethal strain of malaria from a Korean mosquito years ago. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant experience. Maybe I will tell you about it some time. 🙂

So anyways, I generally try not to squash spiders that aren’t harmful to humans. Though I don’t hold anything against anyone who does, for the record.

Getting back to the point, my “philosophy” posts aren’t always about philosophy. But I like to at least tell myself that my own “personal philosophy” bleeds through, and that the reader will at least get some semblance of it as they read. The things I write about are meaningful to me, and hopefully they’ll find their way to at least a reader or two who can also derive some meaning from them.

Back to my flirtations with nihilism: the things that I find “meaningful” are only “meaningful” because I find meaning in them. On some level or other, I choose to assign “meaning” to them, or else they remind me of other things or people that have given my life meaning.

I regret that I can’t write the previous paragraph any better than that. I am not a philosopher, to repeat yet again.

I’m not a bad cook, though.

And since this particular aspect of my personal philosophy is also political, now is the perfect time to mention that I am also a feminist, and as I mention in the linked article, I don’t ever expect anyone to talk me out of that, though you are welcome to try.

For all practical purposes, I am a Democrat. In my personal life, I definitely have libertarian leanings, but I do not support the Libertarian Party in any way, shape, or form. (See here and here.)

That second article is one that could fit into the “humor” category (unless you support the Libertarian Party, I guess), but none of that stuff is inaccurate. Exaggerated a little, maybe (*maybe*), but not inaccurate.

And yeah yeah yeah, I know: not everybody who votes Libertarian just does it because they want “legal weed” or whatever. But there are a great many Libertarian voters who were attracted to the party because of things like that who don’t realize that the LP’s economic policies are further to the right than those of the GOP.

And just in case you didn’t realize this, DEMOCRATS are responsible for marijuana decriminalization, nine times out of ten. Gary Johnson’s medical marijuana initiatives in New Mexico were significant, but that goofy-looking SOB is also a big supporter of private prisons, which incarcerate thousands and thousands (and thousands and thousands) of non-violent pot offenders.

So yeah, I am a Democrat. And I am all for legal weed, for the record. And yeah, I have something of a personal vendetta against the Libertarian Party: they tricked me into supporting them briefly a few years ago. I went around telling people I was a “Libertarian” without really looking into their actual platform, and I am willing to bet there are a lot of people like that.

As to the Green Party, strictly going on ideology, I am probably a little more closely aligned to them than I am the Democratic party. But I can’t support them in good conscience because, quite simply, they have no chance whatsoever of making any sort of actual impact on the nation… other than (like the LP) taking votes away from Democrats.

Here’s another key aspect of my “personal philosophy”:

Ideology < practicality.

For example, the Green Party and I would both like to see single-payer universal healthcare become a reality in the USA. The Green Party and I agree that the ACA is far from ideal, in that it maintains a largely unnecessary (and arguably parasitic) corporate entrenchment in people’s lives.

Ideologically, the Green Party and I agree on the healthcare issue. But practically speaking, the ACA enabled millions of people in the USA to get healthcare when they had been denied it before. And practically speaking, for me to vote Green in the last election would have put those people’s healthcare in jeopardy, simply because a vote for the Green party would have been ipso facto a vote against whichever major party ended up losing the election.

Let me explain that:

There were four candidates in the 2016 election. Only two of those candidates (Trump and Clinton) ever had any chance of winning. I know that, you know that, and every American voter with any connection to reality knows that.

But before I start ranting and raving like my cousin Ronald, let me just provide a graph with 2016 election data and go from there.

President Trump got 46.4% of the popular vote. Clinton got 48.5% of the popular vote. Trump won because of how the electoral college works.

Just for the record, no, I am not going to blame third party voters for Trump’s victory, even though I am well aware of the results of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and possibly other states that went to Trump by a narrow margin, where that margin was smaller than the percentage of third party voters. Johnson got way more votes than Stein in all those states, and to assume a Libertarian Party supporter would vote Democrat over Republican is a seriously misguided assumption. LP economic policies are not all that different from Trump’s, whether Libertarian voters like it or not.

As a sidenote, pay attention to how my “ideology < practicality” statement is essentially reversed in that article; i.e. the author admits that LP goals are being realized under Trump but insists that his personal ideology insulates him from being compared to Trump, and that simply because the author defines Trump as “aggressive,” that means he can’t be a Libertarian. But I will save that rant for another post. 🙂

Getting back to numbers, let’s ignore the electoral college for now and just think about a hypothetical election with four candidates, one where two of the candidates have no chance whatsoever of winning. For convenience’ sake, let’s just say that there are only 100 voters voting in this election, and we’ll round off Trump’s percentage to 46 and Clinton’s to 49. The remaining 5 votes will be split between the other two candidates. And just to avoid confusion (since the winner of the popular vote in 2016 isn’t President), let’s just call the candidates A, B, C, and D.

Follow me? OK:

Candidate A has 49 votes. Candidate B has 46 votes. Nobody has voted for C or D yet, let’s say, but the five people who haven’t voted haven’t decided who they will vote for, and none of those 5 voters wants to vote for A or B. All 100 people are required to vote in this scenario.

Assuming that the 5 remaining voters vote for candidate C or D, candidate A will win the election. And while those 5 votes were made with the intent of supporting candidate C or D (and made in good faith), the practical effect of those votes is to support candidate A’s victory.

It’s not quite the same as “support,” but it isn’t quite the same as non-support, either. If, hypothetically, candidate B is ideologically closer to candidate C or D, supporters of candidate C or D *could* have voted for candidate B, and thereby put a candidate in office that would support at least *some* of the things they cared about.

Look, I apologize for going on and on about this. If it wasn’t something that happens over and over again in presidential elections in this country, I wouldn’t flipping have to keep going on and on about it.

The sad truth of the matter is that *if* Donald Trump is still President in 2020 (and he probably will be) and *if* he runs for re-election (and he probably will), chances are he’s going to win.

I am basing that assumption on the fact that Republican voters vote Republican no matter what…

And also on the fact that “the left” is hopelessly divided in this country.

And during that election, there *will* be third party candidates, and they *will* be telling you, the voter, to “vote your conscience” when you go into the polls.

I would absolutely encourage you to do exactly that, with one addendum:

Voting third party (i.e. supporting a candidate with no chance of winning) in an important election, one that will have a huge impact upon the nation, is not “voting your conscience.”

It’s voting your ego.

Yuh-huh, it is, too.

And that’s all I am going to say about that right now.

Moving on:

To say that I have a weird sense of humor would be an understatement. I mean that sincerely. I have been told I have a “dry” sense of humor many times in my life, and more than one person has compared me to Stephen Wright, though that’s more due to my general low-key demeanor than anything else. (He’s way funnier than me, is what I am telling you.)

Anyways, I find funny what I find funny. I think this is hilarious, and I think the same thing about this.

You may not find either of those things funny… and if you don’t SCREW YOU!

(That was a joke. Humor is subjective. Tee-hee.)

Moving on to “Books”:

I haven’t written as much in this category as I should have. I spend more time than I should watching TV and playing on the internet, and not enough time reading books. Nonetheless, every now and then I guess that’s a good thing. Or maybe it’s not. I still haven’t written part one of this series, which is going to be me reviewing a novel I wrote.

Yep, I wrote a novel. You ought to check it out; it’s pretty good, if I do say so myself.

And on to the last category, probably my personal favorite category, “Movies/TV”.

The last couple entries in this category have been a little haphazard. But there are a couple I really like, such as this one about M*A*S*H and also this one about a Korean monster movie with political overtones.

My next “Movies/TV” post will (tentatively) be an informal Marxist critique of the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys. Emphasis on “informal”.

And before anyone who didn’t click the “Marxist critique” hyperlink in the last paragraph gets confused, no, I am not a communist. All I plan to do regarding Trailer Park Boys is take a largely superficial look at the socioeconomic aspects of the show, how Ricky, Julian, and Bubs et alia function in the arguably minarchist environment of Sunnyvale Trailer Park, and how Sunnyvale relates to the rest of Canada, etc.

It’s going to be fun… at least for me, ha ha.

And if anybody is wondering why I intend to inject politics into an awesome and funny show like Trailer Park Boys, first of all, I am not injecting or otherwise putting politics into anything. Politics are already there, I just intend to take a look at them and tell you what I see.

Everything is political, on one level or another. Including apathy toward politics.

So anyways, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the comments section. For the record, I allow all comments from actual people. I delete spambot comments, but I allow literally everything else, including personal insults against me.

So… if you read something here that just really makes you mad, don’t hesitate to say so.

Have fun!

A REMINDER…

Just a reminder to the folks who would prefer to have armed guards patrolling schools rather than limit access to or ban AR-15s and similar weapons:

Those armed guards would be protecting kids from other people who don’t want to limit access to or ban AR-15s and similar weapons.

You guys can talk about mental illness all day long; at the end of that long, tedious day, you guys are on the same side of the gun issue as every mass shooter in recent history.

I am not saying “every gun enthusiast is a mass shooter.”

I *am* saying “every mass shooter is a gun enthusiast.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a gun enthusiast, but you guys need to acknowledge this:

Politically, the crazy bastards shooting up schools, concerts, etc. etc. etc. are on *your* side of the political aisle.

And when you guys try to pretend that “liberals” are somehow at fault for mass shootings, you aren’t acknowledging reality.

To repeat: all gun enthusiasts are not mass shooters. But all mass shooters *are* gun enthusiasts.

No pacifist anti-gun “liberal” ever shot up a school, or a concert, or anything like that.

The problem is on *your* side of the political aisle.

The fact that *you guys* want easy access to guns makes it easier for crazy bastards to get guns and kill people with those guns.

You don’t want to kill people? Awesome!

You’re not a violent criminal? Great!

If you’re neither of those things, you shouldn’t have a problem with gun regulation.

If you *do* have a problem with gun regulation, even if you are not a violent criminal who wants to kill people, YOU ARE MAKING IT EASIER FOR VIOLENT CRIMINALS TO GET GUNS AND KILL PEOPLE.

School security guards are becoming more and more necessary because of *your* political views, not because of mine.

You guys are big on “personal responsibility,” correct?

If so, take responsibility for the crazy bastards in *your* group.

Stop blaming “liberals” for problems in *your* group.

Thanks.

(Originally written for and published on my personal Facebook page.)

THE TRUTH WILL SET YUO FREE!!!!!!!

My libral letfist cousin done prety much quit this web blog here, says it don’t make no money, says he dont figure its gone to.

Hell, I could of told him that. Aint nobody care about no leftist junk on no web blog. He aint as bad as some, though. I seent this one letfist tried to tell me Presdent Trump got a Russian women to use the bathroom on him.

Can you magine? Them letfists is weird, man. How you even come up with something like peein on somebody?

Thats’ sick!

ANd now theys trine to say Trump had a “affare” with some porno actress!

Its like they caint just let the man be President! I mean it ain’t like we got BARRY SOTERO in there no more, trine to put good folks like me in the poorhouse and take are guns!

Yall no who BARRY SOTERO is, don’t you? Why, hes’ the one past Obamacare and done bout ruint the hole country! Ya’ll might not no this though: lots of folks (hell, everbody dang near) thanks BARRY SOTERO was from Kenya. I bleeve that was a onist mistake, but I seent this youtube videa what said the real truth of the matter is that BARY SOTERO was a alien.

Like not a laien in the cents of like somebody from a nother country, like a alien from space.

And you might thank I’s line, but I aint’. Feller on that vidya said BARRY SOTERO come from somewhere out past the Soler Systeme, and he was trine to make poeple uset to aleins, and thats’ why he was always trine to pass “universal helthcare”, so when he went to the docter the docter’d no how to cure what ailed him!

And BARRY SOTERo was trine to take are guns, because when the rest of the aleins comes, they aint’ want us to have no way to fight back!

and KILLERY, dont’ get me started! She aint’ no laein (far as i no, ha ha) but shes’ a dang site worser then BARRY SOTERO even if she aint’.

Her and “SLICK WILLY” went around killen poeple left an right. You member BENGAHZI? KILLERY set up them poor solders, just so them Mulsims could kill em dead! And SLICK WILLEY sittin there laughin the hole time!

ANd PIZZAGATE wudnt’ no conspericy! Them DEMOCRAPS went in there and filed in that dungein usin alein technoligy, hollygrams and that sort of stuff!

I feel sorry for them letfists, whut caint’ see the truth!

Trine to say Trump had a affare with a porno women! And sayin he said this porno women looked like his daughter!

Where them leftist come up with this sort of stuff? Like they ain’t got nothin better to do than try to defame a honets man lik Donald Trump!

I hope Donleld Trump cleans house on em! Get all them librals and leftis out of the govmnet. Then maybe Ill’ be able to afford to go to the docter agian.

My dang inserents went up this pass month. I ain’t sure I can afford it no more, to be honest.

And it ain’t Trump done it. No sir.

My “leftist lebral” cousin tried to tell me it was cause subsidys from the govment got cut by Trump, whys’ my insurence went up, but that aint’ the truth .

Truth is, BARRY SOTERO and KILLERY got in with the aleins, and they dont’ want nobody like me round when the invasein starts. So theys’ gone cut me off my insurence, and try agiain to take my guns away!

NO SIR. Aint’ gone to happen!

WE ARE LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD, AND I AM A MATERIAL GIRL

So, in my most recent blog post, I sort of obliquely discussed the philosophy of materialism.

I would have to do more research to confirm this, but the type of “materialism” I was referring to in that post most resembles dialectical materialism, but I am not confident that I would necessarily agree with everything in that particular philosophy.

In fact, what I am talking about might better be described as physicalism rather than materialism. I am honestly not sure.

At any rate, what I was (and am) talking about is the idea that everything in the universe is explainable through “material” or “physical” terms. And yes, that includes all types of “spiritual” and/or “supernatural” experiences.

My use of “quotation marks” there should not be misconstrued as reductive. I am not trying to delegitimize anyone’s subjective experiences, nor am I trying to say that things like religion and “spirituality” are useless.

On the contrary, I think both of those things can have an enormously positive effect on people at the individual level, and as long as religious people don’t try to force any of their views on other people, and as long as those views don’t oppress anyone within the religious group in any way, I have no problem whatsoever with anyone’s religious views.

Religion (and membership in any other sort of ideologically-based group) provides its adherents with a sense of community, a common set of values and beliefs, and so on. To repeat, I think that membership in such groups can have an enormously positive effect on people at the individual level. And heck, it can have an enormously positive effect at the group level, also…

Have you ever heard anyone say (or have you ever said), “I want to feel like I am part of something bigger than myself”?

That feeling, I would venture, is one that is common across all religious and/or ideologically-based groups. It’s also, I would venture, a feeling that is common to all (or at least most) human beings. The desire to feel connected to something or someone outside of and separate to one’s own physical self.

I certainly have this desire. And I have come to realize that my relatively recent (like in the past few years, I mean) attraction to various strains of materialism is a product of that desire.

This may not be immediately apparent — it wasn’t immediately apparent to me, at least — based on that last post I wrote. Someone could easily read that post as “human beings are just physical things, thoughts and emotions are just the result of physical processes, nothing means anything, we’re all gonna die” and not see anything more than that. That’s my fault; actually after publishing that post I remembered that I didn’t post it last July because it might be interpreted like that, and I didn’t quite know how to articulate how and why I didn’t intend for it to be interpreted that way.

I am not sure I can articulate it now, but I am gonna try:

I think it goes back to a phase I went through a decade or more ago when I was fascinated with transcendentalism, specifically its attempts to integrate/appropriate various spiritual traditions into one philosophy. This led me to Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, though only in a philosophical/intellectual sort of way. I never converted to anything — in “the anthropological sense,” I remain a Southern Baptist — but philosophically (and more importantly, politically), I have very little in common with most Southern Baptists, beyond “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Anyways, I have personal views and beliefs that prevent me from being able to honestly say that I adhere to 100% to any of the various philosophies and/or religions I have listed so far. I don’t quite “belong” in any of those groups.

That’s not me trying to prove I am special, or that the objections I have to various aspects of these philosophies and/or religions make me “unique” or something. I am just relating to you, the reader, that I don’t feel especially “connected” to any ideologically based group… although I am certainly “more connected” to some than I am to others.

So, what’s a person to do, once he (or she) has explored various philosophies, gone by various labels (I used to tell people I was a “Taoist,” for example), and subsequently found that he (or she) doesn’t quite “belong” in any of them completely?

Especially when this person acknowledges fully that he (or she) *wants* to belong to a group, because as mentioned above, group membership can have an enormously positive effect on one’s life?

Should he or she start (or join) a group of philosophical misfits, whose only reason for belonging to the group is that they don’t belong in any other group? Sure, one *could* do that…

Or, one could attempt to do what I am attempting to do, though I admittedly am not doing a very good job of explaining what I am trying to do: put every philosophy and every religion under one umbrella.

I wish I were able to articulate it better than that, but alas, I’m not. Let me try again:

The desire to feel connected to something larger than oneself can be satisfied (or perhaps “realized”) without even bothering to join any group. (And yes, I borrowed this idea from someone else.)

You *already are* part of something larger than yourself. You are part of the whole of humanity. You are a member of a species that inhabits the planet Earth, which is part of a solar system, which is part of a galaxy, which is part of the universe… which may be only one of many universes.

You are part of that. The process that produced lil’ ol’ you began around 13.8 billion years ago. It will keep going a looooooong time after you’re gone. After I’m gone; after everyone currently living is gone.

At any rate, that’s what sits at the heart of my own personal attraction to materialism: the desire to feel “connected.”

Does that make *any* sense whatsoever? Honest question.

A COMPLETELY NON-SCHOLARLY DISCUSSION OF MATERIALISM, WHICH, LIKE IT OR NOT, ACTUALLY CAN DESCRIBE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS* IN THE UNIVERSE, FROM HERE TO GN-z11

*and what it can’t describe yet will probably be described at some point in the future, assuming humanity doesn’t destroy itself first.

Hi there.

If you’ve read my blog at all, like pretty much any post, you already know that my approach to blogging is haphazard at best.

And if you haven’t, i.e. if this is the first of my I don’t even know how many posts you’ve taken a gander at, well, you’re about to find that out.

Here is what is happening right now:

My brain is sending bioelectric impulses to my spinal cord, which provides a pathway through the muscles of my arms to my fingers.

These impulses compel my fingers to strike the keys on my keyboard.

The muscles in my hands and fingers have been trained by decades of interaction with QWERTY-arranged keyboards so that it is not strictly necessary for me to look at the keyboard while I am typing.

Most of that last sentence was typed without looking. I did have to fix a couple typos, but I did so without looking for the “backspace” button. And I did involuntarily glance at the keyboard a couple or three times, despite making a concerted effort not to.

Why? Because my eyes have become accustomed to glancing down at the keyboard.

That is to say, the muscles that control my eye movements have become accustomed thusly.

But back to the keyboard: after my fingertips strike the keys, the mechanism under each key sends a signal through my computer, and for every letter I type (and for every punctuation mark I type), the corresponding character appears on my screen.

When I click “save draft” (as I just did a few seconds ago), what I have typed is recorded onto a hard drive connected to the WordPress server, the exact location of which is unknown to me.

After I finish and publish this blog post, and you (whoever you are) read it, your computer, tablet, or smartphone will have sent a message the WordPress server requesting to access it, and the WordPress server will have replied by sending your device the data saved in the file on their server.

Forgive me if any of that is “off,” with regard to exact terms.

My point is that “blogging,” from the impulses that prompt my fingers to strike the keys on my keyboard to the light being focused by your eyes’ lenses (and the corrective lenses you may or may not have sitting in front of your eyes) on the retinas at the back of your eyes, to your brain interpreting the signals sent through your optic nerves (the awkward plurals here being a result of most humans having two eyes) to you having any sort of emotional reaction (from bored indifference to anger) to what you are reading is an entirely physical process.

Do I understand every detail of this process well enough to explain it? Unfortunately, no. Much to my chagrin, I do not in fact know everything.

I am quite limited in what I know. What I know is a result of what I have studied and what I have been taught, and the subjects I chose to focus on were largely a result of my environment and my own personal set of genes.

Which one of those two things (environment and genetics) played the bigger role is up for debate. And that’s a debate for a more knowledgeable person to comment on; my point in mentioning those two things is that they are both quite physical. Genes are actual physical things, I mean, and the environment one grows up in acts upon a person in an entirely physical way.

This includes the things that are said to one as a child. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a pretty positive environment (I have no complaints, really); I just want to state that before I continue.

Things that are said, like things that are typed, originate in the brain. The difference is that the muscles involved in speaking are a different set of muscles than the ones involved in typing. And also, of course, things that are said out loud are heard when sound waves strike the eardrums, and so on and so forth.

None of this is magical. None of this requires any sort of magical explanation.

At one point in human history, before far more intelligent and intuitive persons than I figured all of this stuff out, we believed things like this were magical.

They’re not magical.

My fingers striking the keyboard is not magical.

Your retinas sending images to your brain is not magical.

Your brain interpreting those images is not magical.

The emotions you feel or don’t feel are not magical.

Emotion. What a thing, huh? Despite all high-minded attempts to suppress them, they still dictate to us (to a degree) what we do or don’t do in any given situation.

But what are emotions?

They are neurochemical responses to external stimuli. And/or the result of our brains over- or under-producing this or that chemical, or various glands over- or under-producing this or that chemical, or the result of any number of physical occurrences within the body.

People who live with chronic pain, for example, may be more likely to suffer from depression than other people. And what causes any sort of pain? Either an external physical force (like getting punched in the face) or an internal malfunction of some bodily system.

Pain is a physical thing. And on the flipside, so is pleasure.

What is pleasure? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s a response to external stimuli. Etc.

It isn’t magical, any more than anything else is. It can certainly seem to be magical, but it’s the result of physical processes, just like everything else.

It’s unfortunate that I am not knowledgeable enough to explain all of these processes in detail. But if you’re reading this, you presumably have access to the internet, and you can look all this stuff up for yourself.

Thinking of yourself as a material thing, as an object that has been acted upon innumerable times, as an object that acts upon other objects, as an object that consists of various systems that interact with each other, etc. has its advantages. It allows you to look at yourself and your actions in a much more, well, for lack of a better term, non-magical way. That is to say, you can begin to understand why you do the things you do, and you can control those things to a much larger extent.

Don’t get me wrong: you’re still going to lose control of yourself sometimes. Sometimes you’re going to do things you regret. Sometimes you’re going to say things you wish you hadn’t said.

But instead of blaming some irrational thing like “the devil” or else just throwing your hands up and saying “well, that’s just the way I am,” you can take steps to correct yourself and prevent the same thing from happening again. Or at least reduce the probability of it happening again.

That’s not to say that “rational” is always preferable to “irrational.”

Have you ever been in love? You don’t have to tell me or anyone else, but have you?

Doesn’t it feel good to be in love with someone? Doesn’t it feel amazing to become emotionally attached to another person, someone who seems perfect in every single way, even though it’s objectively quite easy for a disinterested outsider to point out that person’s many flaws?

Doesn’t it piss you off when somebody points out your love’s flaws?

In a world of billions of people, there’s a pretty significant chance that there’s somebody else in the world that is even more physically attractive than your love (like to you personally, I mean), but here’s the thing:

Being physically close to another human being, especially one you find sexually attractive, causes neurochemicals to be released in your brain (oxytocin, for one) that cause you to feel attachment to that person.

That’s an oversimplification, to say the least. If you find that or anything else interesting, I hope you’ll look into those things more.

At any rate, you are a physical being. You act and react entirely in the physical world.

Is there anything beyond the physical world we live in?

If so, what would it consist of?

Would it have to consist of anything?

Can you even conceive of something that consists of nothing (physically speaking) without employing a physical process in your brain?

Let me remind you that reading this and thinking about what I have written is an entirely physical process.

Is the unknowable worth thinking about?

Why or why not?

🙂

FOR “MATURE” AUDIENCES ONLY

One thing most people never spend much time thinking about is how the language we use shapes our reality.

I’m not gonna go into a whole “thing” about that, and I want to say first that I am not philosophically opposed to profanity or vulgarity, or fart jokes or dick jokes or anything like that (I’m quite the opposite, actually)…

But does anyone ever stop to think about how “for mature audiences” now means, basically, “this show is full of fart jokes and dick jokes”?

I mean, yeah, I get it, people don’t want their kids to pick up nasty language and start using it, and they want shows that have nasty language to be labeled, and “for mature audiences” is (I guess) as good a way as any to label shows like that…

But what effect does labeling a show full of fart jokes and dick jokes as “for mature audiences” have on adults that watch the show? Probably nothing major, but on the other hand, does it give shows labeled as “mature” a sort of authority that they wouldn’t have otherwise?

Take South Park, for example. It’s a cartoon, chock full to the brim with fart jokes, dick jokes, and all sorts of offensive humor… and somehow it’s become a running political commentary that many people take at least semi-seriously.

The “politics” of the show are not actually informed by anything other than what a couple rich white dudes from Colorado think about various items in the news, things that usually involve the concerns of non-white (or non-rich) people.

The most recent episode, in the first 6 minutes or so, mocks anyone who acknowledges that Christopher Columbus was a murderous slave trader, as well as anyone who wants to remove any monuments to the Confederacy, or for that matter rename any building or street or anything else named after a historical figure with ties to the slave trade.

The episode before that mocked white working class people being put out of work by changes in the economy. That’s been a running gag (“They took are jebs”) for a while now on the show, and yes, I laughed at it, and even used it in online conversations regarding immigration…

Please understand that I am not advocating censorship, nor am I calling for a boycott of South Park, or anything like that. I am just making observations. Last time I checked, I was still allowed to do that. 🙂

But it’s interesting to me that as Trey Parker and Matt Stone became more successful over the years (hell, decades now), South Park became more and more political, until every single episode became its own absurdist, highly skewed take on whatever those two assholes happened to see on Reddit the week before.

Did becoming successful make them more political? Or did becoming political make them more successful?

It’s probably both. But who knows?

What I do know (well, I am about 99% sure of this) is that somewhere on the internet right now (somewhere else, I mean), someone is complaining about how South Park nowadays is looking less like the funny, irreverent, absurdist dick joke-fest the show once was, and it’s looking more and more like your standard run-of-the mill red-piller alt-right self-congratulatory tribute to the status quo.

That someone is probably pointing out that South Park’s politics are poorly informed, that it skews the points of view of non-white, non-rich people beyond recognition and relegates their legitimate concerns to mere annoyances to be mocked and/or ignored…
And I would be willing to bet you one US dollar that wherever that’s happening, there’s a (probably white, probably male, probably middle-class or above) person responding to those accusations by telling that someone complaining about South Park that they “need to grow up.”

Of course that’s speculation. I’m not going to pore over South Park discussion threads to find examples. Lord knows I’ve seen plenty already. Not just about South Park, but about anything anyone anywhere has the audacity to be offended by.

Haven’t you? Sure you have:

A: “[offensive comment/joke].”

B: “Hey, that’s offensive. You shouldn’t say [offensive thing], because [detailed, well-thought out explanation].”

A: “OMG you seriously need to grow up!”

[etc.]

You’ve never seen conversations like that?

Really? You must be new to the internet. Welcome! 😉

Somewhere along the way, the idea came into the internet’s collective unconscious that “not being offended by anything” is equivalent to “being a grown-up.”

That fart jokes and dick jokes and other offensive things are something only “mature” adults laugh at, and that anyone who doesn’t laugh, or (gasp!) has the inclination to say “that’s not funny” is just a whiny crybaby who needs to put on his big boy britches and grow up already.

I wonder where this notion came from? 🙂

To be clear, in my opinion, fart jokes are hilarious. Dick jokes? Also hilarious. I rue the day that I don’t laugh at a well-timed burst of flatulence. I anticipate laughing at fart jokes and dick jokes for the remainder of my life, however long that turns out to be.

But is that because I am “mature”?

If so, I’ve been “mature” since I was about 3 or 4.

At any rate, thanks for reading.

THE ULTIMATE IN NAVEL-GAZING: A SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR REVIEWS HIS OWN NOVEL, PART ZERO

Hello all. As you may or may not be aware, I wrote a novel. I began writing it in I believe 2014, and I finally finished and published it in June of 2016.

That is to say, I “self-published” it in June of 2016. And I do mean “self-published”: beyond a few words of encouragement from a friend or two who indulged me after I asked them to read an early chapter or two, I had approximately zero input from any other person while writing, editing, or formatting it.

Although to be fair, I did do quite a bit of Google-ing about how to format a novel for Kindle. And I may have asked friends for help regarding the HTML necessary for said formatting (I honestly don’t remember); nonetheless the actual formatting was done entirely by me.

That’s why the indents in the Kindle version are uneven, matter of fact. Anyone who is familiar at all with HTML probably knows that web browsers (and the Kindle app) do not recognize spaces or tabs at the beginning of paragraphs. You can literally hit the space bar a hundred times before you start typing a paragraph in an HTML document, and the browser (or Kindle app) will not recognize it. The same goes for the “tab” key.

So, in short, when I got ready to transfer the 200+ page document from OpenOffice Writer to Kindle, every paragraph indent in the entire novel disappeared. Which was kinda discouraging.

And even though every professionally-formatted Kindle book I own has regular indents (i.e. “indents that are all the same size/length”), and even though I scoured the internet for tips on how to achieve said regular indents, the best I was able to do was to manually insert the HTML code for a space five times in a row in front of each paragraph. (FYI the code is an ampersand [&] followed by “nbsp” followed by a semicolon [;]. I would just type the code out here in my WordPress blog text editor, but it would just appear as a space when I publish this post.)

At any rate, I copy/pasted that bit of HTML code (times 5) in front of every single paragraph in the entire novel. Or at least I attempted to; there may be a paragraph or two I missed. I will undoubtedly find out as I periodically work on this post, or perhaps series of posts.

I intend to read and comment on each of the novel’s 25 chapters. But I am getting ahead of myself:

I assumed that forcing 5 spaces to appear at the beginning of each paragraph would result in even indents. And it did, at first, when the text of the novel was left-aligned. The indents looked great, but the right margin was choppy and uneven.

And while that’s fine for a blog post in my opinion (no indents here, either), for my one genuine attempt at literary glory (if such a thing still exists) I wanted it to look as nice and presentable as possible.

So I changed the alignment to full justification. I.e. the left and right margins line up evenly with the edge of the page/screen. The thing about full justification is that it stretches (or compresses) text to make it fit the margins. Which means, spaces are no longer uniform size.

Which means, my manually-coded indents ended up being anything but uniform. Some appear more or less “regular,” others are much longer than they should be.

It was at this point that I decided that between a choppy, uneven right margin on every page and wonky indents, wonky indents were the lesser of two evils.

Why didn’t I just hire someone to format it for me, you may be wondering?

Because I was broke. As in flat. As in “Jesus Christ I hope at least a few people buy this godforsaken thing so I can afford to buy cat food this week.” I was between jobs when I did the majority of the writing, and I forestalled actively looking for steady employment while I was finishing it.

Suffice it to say I eventually had to secure other methods of procuring cat food and other necessities, and I eventually did. But on the topic of going broke while writing a novel, despite the fact that they may share articles on Facebook about how J.K. Rowling went broke and “got on the dole” (the UK equivalent of food stamps) while she was writing the first Harry Potter book, I am going to go ahead and let you know that your friends and family are not going to be impressed when you decide to sacrifice financial security for a vanity project that may or may not pay off. To be clear I am not saying I wouldn’t act the same way toward a mostly unemployed friend or family member spending hours a day on a novel or something similar; to be clear I probably would advise such a person to get over themselves and get a job.

Nonetheless, I got my novel finished before I got one. And I formatted it the best I could under the circumstances. And it isn’t perfectly formatted, but it’s formatted as well as it’s ever going to be formatted, at least on Kindle.

Why don’t I hire someone to format it for me now, now that I am once again employed and no longer destitute?

Because kiss my ass, that’s why. For good or ill, I did every damn bit of the work on that novel by myself (including the cover photo and design), and I have no interest in sacrificing that accomplishment for cosmetic purposes.

At any rate, I wrote a novel. And despite the fact that sales have been abysmal so far, and despite the fact that only one human being on the entire planet has actually read the novel and told me what he thought about it, it’s a novel I am proud of.

It’s chock full of references that may or may not be obvious, depending on the reader. No doubt there are parts I consider to be “clever” or something that readers may consider to be hackneyed, hokey, or worse. Especially considering that certain parts of the novel were intentionally hackneyed and hokey, given that the narrator is himself a failed fiction author who quotes his own work from time to time.

At any rate, seeing as how this initial foray into hardcore navel-gazing is already over 1000 words long, I will end it here and let this post stand as an intro to the series of posts that will (eventually) follow. As much as I would enjoy critiquing my own work for another hour or so, or for that matter all damn day long, I have an actual paying job I need to get to.

But I will leave you with one factoid, regarding the somewhat cryptic dedication at the front of the book. That is to say, I will “decrypt” it for you. Here is the dedication:

For H.F.

And for K.T.

“H.F.” refers to “Horselover Fat,” the fictionalized protagonist of a novel called “VALIS” by Philip K. Dick. “Fictionalized” because Horselover Fat and Philip K. Dick are more or less the same person.

“K.T.” refers to “Kilgore Trout,” a fictional, recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut’s novels.

The protagonist/narrator of my novel was inspired by those two fictional characters, and the tendency of my novel’s protagonist/narrator to go off on tangents about bizarre sci-fi stories with ham-fisted cultural/political references was more or less ripped off from Kurt Vonnegut’s tendency to do the same thing with “Kilgore Trout” stories in his novels.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say.

At any rate, have an awesome day, and thanks for reading.