This is an experiment in which I claim no expertise. The previous sentence will be my only disclaimer.
The goal is to join together people to examine the justifications for a belief I have: progress is the nature of language. I hope this is not an original thought because if it would be its examination would have to rely on the unlikely coincidence that the right people would find me and join me in a sustained way despite my strenuous use of language. I further hope that people do join and, if so, that they join in the spirit of amateurism. Why the latter? Because my belief entails – or so I believe – that any true communication presupposes that amateurs, if sufficiently motivated, can contribute to it (call that “the grounding principle“).
Let me not get ahead of ourselves though: before we can get to the goal we have to cover our preliminaries. In this case, we have to establish a common context (a mental meeting place if you will) where we of course may see things differently but not because we see different things. This is the starting point as individuals can only come together after having established a common context i.e. after having formed a community. I know all this begs the initial question. That shouldn’t be an issue, I spoke of my belief as a belief and we have time to come back to whether it is justified or not (so I ask you to apply another corollary of my belief – one coined by Grice – “the principle of charity“).
The following three objectives are set for individuals aspiring to be part of this community:
I confess to getting hung up on a fairly minor point.
When the Boston Marathon bombings happened, I think my reaction was probably similar to most people’s. I was horrified. I’ve been at finish lines as both a runner and a spectator. They have an unbelievably positive vibe. Just about everybody there is personally invested and the people who aren’t are volunteering to help others and are usually very energetic about it. It seemed particularly vicious to wipe all that out with what seemed to be random violence.
Adding to my horror was a little exercise I did. In an attempt to properly empathize with the people affected, I pictured my last finish when I was able to find my wife, my brother, my mom and my sister cheering in the crowd as I crossed. That image is very positive and burned into my brain (I hope) forever. Superimposing the films from the bombings over that image in my brain was too effective, too emotional, because I assumed some poor soul didn’t have to imagine it. Some poor soul probably lived through it.
When I pulled back from that terrible image, I thought of all the ways people would be affected. I eventually realized I didn’t really hear anybody mention the runners who didn’t finish. That’s probably appropriate. They probably consider themselves lucky. I’d imagine most of them felt a little disappointment, but focused their energy on finding their loved ones and getting back home safe. Still, I felt bad for them. Read more »
Time for my story. It might very well be the last (I say, as if anybody cares). As if I care whether manybodies care. Faux is the pas of making an out-of-bracket comment on a between brackets comment. And that quite sums up my story. That and a rather improper use of the words ‘and’ and ‘that’ and that mainly at the start of sentences. And excessive self-commenting, I guess. That too.
As if I know the only one watching me am I; compelling me to do, comment on doing and reflect on the commenting – all at once. Not – also not a word to lead a sentence with, I might add (and just did: add that is) – particularly an attraction people will pay for. Not even an attraction people won’t pay for. Not even one to ignore. Just something not to notice. What if, then again, what if such and such?
I confess to being very relieved this weekend when I found out my brother would get to keep his guide dog after it was retired from its work duties. He’s had this guide dog for the past eight years, but when he first received the dog the organization who trains and finds home for these dogs said they typically go to a new home after they retire. The reasoning behind this is the retiring guide dogs are often reluctant to hand over their duties to a new dog.
Guide dogs give up a lot of what we think of as “being a dog” to do their work, and to respond to that sacrifice by taking them away from their home for their final years seems almost too sad to bear. Actually, knowing my brother and his family, it would have been too sad to bear and that’s why they’re keeping him. It appears the organization he uses to get his guide dog has relaxed their policy somewhat, and if the owner can care for the dog in its retirement years, it is up to the owner whether they keep the dog or not.
Unfortunately, many people who need a guide dog are alone and/or on a fixed income and cannot care for a second dog. There was one such woman at the guide dog facility when my brother trained there eight years ago. He said she was openly weeping at her loss. I can’t help but wonder how the level of trauma compares for the dog being taken away from its owner.
I’m very happy for my brother and his dog, though. His dog is as wonderful as you’d imagine these dogs to be and has grown at least as protective of my brother’s family as he is of my brother. Now he gets to live out his “retirement” with the family he’s known his entire life and will get to enjoy life as a “normal dog”. For example, when he visits my house in retirement, he’ll be able to play with my black lab mix with abandon. This is a treat he was often unable to resist even when he was supposed to be working.
[Continues from here.]
This is where it ends. Where I start yet another life filled to the brim with dreams that, if not frustrated, will get frustrating. So much is true of any tunnel: that if there is no light at the end of it, it is no tunnel (regardless of timeless logic which may always hold but which in time never applies.
“(..) you always lose at solitaire, she said, smiling a rare, mother-made smile: crosswords are never completed, only given up, and card games like these are never won; that’s why I play them.” (ibid., p. 631)
The truth in this book has been ample and like that word it feels amputated as if the truth in this book is a phantom joy, the sensation of excitement felt in what is no longer there. Cut and left wet, moist with tears for what cannot be; a be that stings, a life that stinks.
“But every dark is different. Some darks may be boundless, stratospherical, pure, but I prefer mine circumscribed like a corset, and where, if I had a soul, it would be squoozen, and where, when I’m found, I’ll be identified as the remains of a Read more »
[Continues from here.]
“Early in life, I learned to fear my birthday. Later, Christmas would follow close behind in the measured amount of my dislike. Finally, every holiday, even the Fourth of July, my former favorite, would fill me with apprehension. But it was the onset of my birthday which made my palms sweat.” (ibid., p. 604).
This is a day for me where (when?) I am off; like: milk off, like: not turned on. This is the day I should need to quote from the best piece of prose I ever read. Luckily I am off: it spares me the frustration of not being able to do justice to what has to be quoted, so allowing me to cover my disability with inability. Read it, few friends, and weep because it is all that is wrong about the world and it also has the essence of what is good about this world. Charity as in hypocritical keeping up appearances and the Gricean principle of charity trying, even if flat-out failing, to understand.
This is not it but it is something which is neither false nor falsch:
I confess I may not be as social a person as I like to imagine.
There is a local bar I go to a lot. Most of the time when I go there, it’s to place a takeout order and have a beer while I wait. The other day, I walked in and the bar appeared to be full to capacity. The only empty stools have drinks in front of them or jackets on the back of the seat.
So I planned to just stand as I waited. But a woman sitting at the bar noticed me waiting and said I could sit in the seat next to her, as there was nobody sitting there. I asked if she was sure, because there was a half full glass of wine and a jacket on the chair. The jacket was hers. the wine was her friends. It was fine if I sat down. When she explained why she had been reserving it, she trailed off and part of the reason for her trailing off may have been that she spilled her friend’s wine as she was moving it.
This situation was ripe for discomfort from my perspective. First, she had apparently not wanted somebody sitting next to her but after seeing me, had changed her mind. Potentially flattering, but not a situation I’m particularly keen on being involved in. Secondly, the spilled wine was to the right of her and I was on her left. I kind of felt like I should help with the cleanup, but a) she had it under control and b) it was pretty intimate quarters for two people to be doing the job. Therefore, I awkwardly sat in my chair trying to look appreciative for her having opened up the seat for me. Finally, when somebody spills wine all over the bar, there is a natural assumption that they are drunk. One of the least appealing conversations to have is with somebody who’s drunk when you’re sober. Read more »
[Continues from here.]
Technically it’s a Monday but Jesus died in order for me to be able to call it Sunday. There is such a thing called serendipity (yes, it’s a thing, you can even kick it around although you don’t need a garden to do it in and it will not break windows – it could break hearts though, he added mellowly). I am reading Kripke and although that is not strictly a proof for what I just said, it does lend it – all in all and as per the below – more plausibility.
“She preferred me to begin at the base of her neck. I preferred to begin a bit higher up, on the shoreline of her hair. With my right forefinger slanted slightly to bring the nail into play, I would inscribe the course of a river – so gently, so slowly, it might have been a tear’s trail – running its convoluted way the length of Lou’s back, semicircling a buttock, and concluding in her crack, at a fulfillment one might call a delta.” (ibid., p. 554-555)
What joy is this which ends in mere tranquility? Read more »
I confess for a list of reasons I won’t go into, I had said I would never visit the casino that was built in Toledo. I confess that Saturday my wife and I were sitting at a pizza joint eating lunch, and she said she wanted to drive up to Detroit to hit one of the casinos. I’m not crazy about essentially throwing $100 or more away, but such excursions can lead to other fun discoveries so I was game.
As time approached to leave the restaurant, she theorized that it didn’t make sense to drive an hour to Detroit in case we dropped whatever we were willing to gamble quickly. We should just go to the casino that was five minutes away and literally on the way home. Whatevs.
It was immediately clear that Ohio’s enforcing its non-smoking laws in the casino was a humongous advantage over the casinos in Michigan (which are exempt from Michigan’s non-smoking laws). Once you’re over that refreshing novelty, though, it’s just another casino.
So, like we always do when we hit a casino, we searched out the video poker and each plugged in a twenty. My credits were gone in literally less than five minutes. My wife didn’t fare much better. So we each threw in another twenty. We may as well have lit those on fire as well. On the third twenty (which hit our allotted gambling amount for the day) my wife, who was playing “Deuces Wild”, hit four deuces for 1,000 credits ($250). Look at that! Gambling IS fun!
My luck had remained unchanged, though, so with my budget blown I was just sitting and watching her try to hit another big hand. Now flush with cash, she announced her “cash out” point (the point at which she would cash out rather than go below this point) and gave me the last twenty we had brought. Not far in, I was dealt two aces and two fives.
Typically, I would hold both pairs and hope for the full house but this particular game’s odds paid very well for hitting four aces. Not only that, but having a pair of aces paid the same as two pair. Knowing this, I used my dabbling in game theory and probability to surmise I should hold just the aces. When I was dealt three fresh cards, two of them were aces. Four aces for 800 credits ($200). I swear to God I was more excited that my playing the odds properly paid off than I was about the money. The money was nice, though.
Now, here’s the reason I dragged you through that boring “I hit at the casino” story. The joy of hitting was incredibly fleeting. We hadn’t even cashed out and my wife pointed out a small list of things we needed or wanted that would absorb these winnings. This was a little deflating, but not as much as the realization that this list could easily grow to include any winnings we could reasonably expect. If we each hit for three or four more four of a kinds or whatever, home repairs, cars, student loans….all could rise up and make themselves known as the responsible way to spend our winnings.
I’m glad we hit for monetary reasons, but I’m also glad we hit because it had the paradoxical effect of showing me the pointlessness of gambling – even aside from the odds being so heavily against winning. Even when you do hit enough to walk away with more money, it’s always just money. There’s always places it needs to go and having unexpected amounts just highlights those obligations. If you ignore them, it’s just a new source of guilt. It’s possible I would’ve paid the amount we had budgeted for the day just to avoid the realization of what feels like a neverending queue of collectors making demands for our gains.
Not only does the house always win, but the house is everywhere.
[Continues from here.]
Reading The Tunnel is like excruciatingly slow masturbation; maybe the kind of masturbation you would apply when you’re miserable to the point of thinking ‘well, let’s at least try to masturbate one last time’. First it takes a long – with a long ‘o’ kind of as a long sigh – time to get it stiff. Then, from time to time, it feels like you might actually come so you jerk harder but you don’t come. You start to wonder whether you haven’t started something you can’t finish before something else finishes you.
And then you’re here:
“Ah, Martha, my ex-in-lax, I have my own hole now, your cunt is not the only cave. Even in death, the ceremony said, if need be. Even in death, the Führer’s followers proclaimed, if it came to that. And they knew death would be where he’d take them: that land that needs no promise. He gave them triumph, exultation, purpose, a sort of secular salvation.” (ibid., p. 462)
And doesn’t that sum it up? We educate people to want things beyond mere survival, beyond fucking out of reflex – Read more »