November 25, 2013
September 1, 2013
Comfort food. I see it in films, novels, music. Its goal is not to challenge us. Its goal is to make us feel comfortable, at ease, safe. When I lived in Europe in the 80s I remember searching high and low for peanut butter. A peanut butter sandwich felt like home.
It is sometimes difficult to tell what art is comfort food. The outrageous may just give us a sense that we are on the cutting edge of change. It makes us feel safe. A lot of ‘avant-garde’ art is like that. On the other hand, movies like The Butler can also fill that gap. Making us feel that we are on ‘the right side of history’.
I see people reading, reviewing books that they would love to have had in high school. Books that carry them off to another world. That takes them away from the ‘pain’ or ‘boredom’ of this world, that is comfort food.
When you go into a Christian church and see Christ crucified on the cross, that is not comfort food. The sermon may be. Their doctrines may be. But not a man in the last moments of his life.
When art is unsettling, insightful, when it opens up the world to you, that is not comfort food.
August 19, 2013
We like to feel as if we have made a difference. Are we being honest? The greatest or the worst of us may make some difference in the ant colony we call earth. But its a big universe. This is not despair. Or even pessimism. The ancient Greeks knew that when they rebelled against the gods. Looking at reality takes courage. Something very few of us have in abundance.
July 21, 2013
I shouldn’t say anything. But that’s what I want to talk about. Talking. Everywhere you go people have a cell phone in their hand. Yacking. Who would have thought the old man to have had so many words in him. (Macbeth, sorta) I just can’t remember when it was not so…
Oh, ya. Now I remember. When people spoke to themselves like that, you knew they were nuts or off their medication.
July 19, 2013
I read about possible military intervention in Syria. And the drone attacks. And the prisoners still in Quantanamo. And this is a Democratic presidency. Makes you wonder where we’d be if Romney had won. Is America treating the world like a drive-by shooting?
July 7, 2013
I was a serious young man. I hated show biz. Hated the idea that you had to entertain people. Thought you had to investigate weighty issues. But my mentors were all entertainers. Dickens. Hemingway. Dylan. Hitchcock. Over the years I’ve tried to balance entertainment and ideas. But much of modern culture is a veneer. I love Sinatra’s sound and some of his songs but that whole Vegas night club stuff is boring. So is much of television. To be kind its stupid. But maybe Letterman was right when he said ‘television is supposed to be stupid’.
June 20, 2013
Privacy. The government spying on us. Companies spying on us. And then there is Facebook, Twitter where everyone is letting everyone know what they’re up to. Perhaps the issue is permission.
Privacy is a modern concept. There was no privacy at the time of the Romans. Slaves were everywhere. In the middle ages everyone had to report to the authority above them. Only the king or the pope reported to God. But even kings and popes were spied on. And then came diaries. Some place where one could put one most intimate thoughts without anyone else knowing of them.
In the early 20th century the poor had no privacy. Large families lived in small apartments with no sense of privacy. Sex was something children learned from their parents. What bothers me about the government or companies or the widow Wright peaking out from her curtains is – don’t you have something better to do with your time?
May 21, 2013
May 19, 2013
I could vomit up my whole life. Its infected. All my memories, thoughts, impressions. By advertising. Labels. Product names. Jingles (commercial tunes)
I don’t even know if they produce Winston cigarettes anymore. But they are alive in my head.
I once had a dish of Rice-a-Roni. It was awful but I can still hear the ringing of that commercial. And of course for indigestion after that San Francisco treat, there was Alka Setzer with the inconic drug dealer.
The frightening thing is that getting older doesn’t help erase these commercials. In fact it gets worse. Which brings us the last moments of your life. Judgment day.
We’re all in trouble.
May 15, 2013
Almost every idea that I read about has some root in the ancient Greeks. Recently I read an article in The New York Times Book Review by Alan Lightman. He was reviewing a new book by Lee Smolin called Time Reborn.
And I recall my university reading. Heraclitus and Parmenides. Heraclitus stated that you could not step into the same river twice. Everything is changing. Parmenides felt that change was an illusion. Everything was one. A friend of mine called Parmenides a sociopath.
Does everything happen at once? Is time an illusion? A way we have of keeping order. And what is entropy if time does not exist? Its an exciting time we live. Questions asked that in all certainty will never be answered.
It keeps you young.