Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Many years ago The Anchoress invited from myself & anybody else reading, a rambling screed about what’s wrong with the world. Actually she didn’t; she (perhaps wisely) imposed a word limit of a hundred, and I blew it up. Maybe I should’ve just agreed with Chesterton.
Before I get to that, a confession: For a short time, long ago, I found it worthwhile to subscribe to TotalFARK. That isn’t the confession. It’s like a magazine subscription, there’s some information in there and it could be argued everyone should do it at least once. My confession is that, since there’s a distinct “my side’s better than your side” overtone to the culture in FARK, along with a perceptible leftward tilt, I must have seen this image a hundred times or more…
…I’ve never understood what that’s all about. What’s the point being made? What’s the argument? Many’s the time I got the idea the person posting it, didn’t know what he was trying to say either.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The treatise meanders, lurching along deliberately if awkwardly, inspecting causes and effects, mapping out a sort of “fishing net” of our recent, bad habits. The first thing it looks at is all our worries about global warming, carbon emissions, price of gas, all that stuff…while, if you look around at what people drive, you can’t help noticing something: Cars are enormous. Now all these years later, I still have to say there’s a possibility that the people who drive these big behemoths are different from the people complaining about gas prices and global warming. But I’m just not sure about that. The fretting and hand-wringing is in vogue, still, now as well as five years ago, and before then. So is the driving around in a tank, as Mrs. Freeberg and I saw as I drove her home from jury duty yesterday. Fashionable people tend to do fashionable things. I think people aren’t trying to be hypocrites, they’re just not quite making the connection. Or, maybe they like to talk about living leaner without actually doing it. Either way, I’m still driving a four-banger, built low to the ground, and I end up wondering who’s the traffic hazard here, them or me. It doesn’t seem like we should be sharing a common road.
Every now & then I pull up to a drive-through window, and then I’m sure we shouldn’t be driving the same byways.
The thing I’m trying to point out here, has to do with confusion. People are confused. They’re confused because of the subject of my complaints that followed right after the gas-truck-screed: Being versus doing. The being has taken emphasis. That is not to say that nobody is doing anything. It would perhaps be more precise to say they don’t feel pride in what they do, the way they used to. I’m old enough to remember that when the whole household got excited about adding a new wing to the house, or a vacation, that meant…work. We’re going to plan for it and hope for it, and then Daddy’s going to have to work extra hard. Then after a few years, it wasn’t Daddy, it was Mommy+Daddy. Or something. Maybe everyone would find ways to pitch in. But what do people say now? “I hope I win the lottery.” See, that’s a change. It’s important. People used to make the decision that a material acquisition was worth sacrifice — and then, mixed in with that, was a little bit of lust. But with some healthy dreams too, and a resolve to do good hard work. Now, the lusting has taken center stage: I just want it. And people intertwine their sense of identity with the wanting.
Back in the day, they might have done that with the thing itself, after they got hold of it. If they were more old-school than that, they paid cash. And then the new car or boat would be a sort of movable emblem of their talents, their service to others. Even that was considered, by some others who were even more old-school than that, a bit sinful. But since then there’s been a huge flip-flop; I can’t nail down exactly when it happened, whether it was slow and gradual, or whether there was some kind of detonation that somehow didn’t appear on our radar. But there certainly has been a shift. What was a sin back then, if it were to be brought back today, would be an enormous improvement. People had the sin of pride, but at least they were proud of what they did. And they were lustful, but at least they were lustful about a purchase, someday, not about a gift. They wanted to work for the bauble. To do something. Now, the identity is attached to the wanting. Or the liking. Or the preferring. The ultimate effect is that people see themselves as people who are something…that’s their survival instinct kicking in, they want to be part of the crowd so that they won’t be shut out of the village gates and left to starve. They don’t see themselves as doing something.
I prefer to believe this is not laziness. I don’t think it is. More likely, the sense of opportunity just isn’t there. We get up, we do what we’re supposed to do, we eat, watch teevee, go to sleep. And we “tweet” about what we like and what we don’t like. How many among us, very often envision our actions as significantly altering the outcome of something? How many among us can form such a vision once or twice within a year, let alone within a week? That’s where the change has been.
It affects everything we do because it affects how we envision solutions to problems. Like: Health care is too expensive. Do we figure out how we broke it, or how we can afford it? No. We declare it to be a “right“; and, feel extra, extra, extra self-righteous as we so declare. That, arguably, is not a solution to the problem because it doesn’t define in clear terms where the money is to come from. Also, my Dad always said about the definition of “rights,” that a right is not a right if it costs someone else something, and I’ve learned in the years since there’s a certain wisdom to that. It therefore seems to me that the health-care-is-a-right argument is a grasping at straws, a sort of tacit admission: I know I’ll need it, but I’m not doing anything to pay for it and I don’t see any opportunities to do things to pay for it, so I’ll just sort of leverage my self-righteousness to get it, and make up some “rights” that will be violated if someone doesn’t give it to me. That’s being-over-doing. One too many “Christmas” gifts, from loving grandparents to a little ogre who probably doesn’t believe in Christ or God anyway…just for begging the right way. And then the little ogre grew up.
So I was interested, all these years later, when Severian jotted down some of his observations about “The Rule of Cool”:
I’m not a shrink and I don’t play one on tv, but has anyone else picked up on a certain immaturity going around lately? You might have noticed, for instance, that President Sort-of-God is now being extravagantly praised for
backing offvoting present on the unilateral cowboy warmongering he was once so eloquently against. You know, back before he opened his big stupid mouth about “red lines” and whatnot…. and was extravagantly praised for that.
The most insidious thing about “cool” is that it’s not something you do, it’s something you are.
There follows an ingenious interweaving between the list from John Hawkins, about the twelve rules of being a proper modern liberal, and this weird thing Kobe Bryant has about being a rapper. That, in turn, gets back to what I was talking about earlier: Lusting after material acquisitions, back in the day, might have been thought a sin by some but at least it was lust for a cycle that was healthy in its own ways. You would do something. DO. And then the trinket would be a trophy. Just like Kobe Bryant’s trophies from doing athletic stuff. What we’re seeing is a guy with a hole in his life he can’t quite fill, and the hole is there because he’s trying to be and not trying to do. I, too, am not a shrink and don’t play one on teevee; but this is kind of an easy call. Kobe Bryant doesn’t want to “rap”; he wants to be a rapper, and it’s an important difference. And it is not too far out to speculate that while, to the rest of us, Kobe Bryant was playing basketball, in his own mind he was being a basketball player. Again, it’s an important difference. The guy who does stuff, like play basketball, and thinks rap music is pretty cool, would feel fulfilled. He’d just keep playing, and listening to rap. Maybe do some rap-karaoke, if there is such a thing, I dunno…but…not define himself that way.
Oh sure, he might think about becoming a rapper, if he gets it in his head he could be a bigger success doing that than from playing basketball. Or get more enjoyment out of it or something. If that’s what is motivating Kobe, then my remarks wouldn’t apply to him. But I think they do. And…since, if I’m correct about that, Kobe is very far from being alone here…that’s a big part of what’s wrong with the world.
All of this is prologue against my hopes for the Syria mess. Obviously, first and foremost my hopes are that nobody else gets killed, and that America is not embroiled in yet another senseless debacle because of unwise decisions. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide for himself whether the Iraq thing is in our historical list of unwise decisions. But — one thing about Syria is, as we hope not to be mired in a quagmire because of dumb decisions, I think deep down, everyone with a brain knows we have no reason to sustain such a hope. No justification for it. Some may say that applies to Iraq too, but they can only conclude that by entirely ignoring the bits of history that led up to that, or cherry-picking from that history only the things they happen to like. Syria, contrasted with that, is a complete debacle…
…brought about by way too much energy being spent by people trying to be something, as opposed to trying to do something.
I still don’t have a good explanation from Obama-loving liberals what, exactly, is so mega-awesome-wonderful about Emperor Barack The First. Still. It’s become embarrassing to watch.
If there is a bright side to Syria, I am hoping what we’re seeing now is the detonation of personality-politics, or at least, a nice deep concrete-covered internment of the personality-politics zombie that will keep it underground and out of sight for…dunno…fifty years or more, can I hope for that? Or let’s shoot for ten. And it’s still just a hope. The zombie grave has just barely started to be dug out, and the concrete truck has not yet pulled up. I’m still picking up on the vibe that President Obama has a fan base, and the fan base wants Him to be something in particular, not to do anything in particular — although they cannot coherently articulate either one of those. But there is this permeating dream wafting through the air, still, like a stench from a rotting whale carcass or something, that our lives will all get better if & when the President delivers one more speech. Or, when He and His lovely bride go on a few more vacations; their pampering and creature comforts, on a Monday, are connected to an elevated standard of living, and new hopes, for the rest of us, that Thursday or Friday. The stench has been hanging in the air since about 2007 or so. We’re all just supposed to sit around, being and not doing, waiting for Michelle to go on vacation and for Barack to play some more golf and give some more speeches, and while we’re all in “pep rally” mode, if we cheer loud enough and long enough we’ll start to see something blossom.
Nobody actually describes it in those terms, of course, but that does seem to be the vision. We’re supposed to be, and not do; and what we’re supposed to be, is a fawning fainting cheering audience for our Magical Mystic guy, who in turn is also supposed to be and not do. I’m hoping we’re seeing a slow car crash, as that bus collides with a cement wall head-on. I hope, the whole notion that yet one more speech from President Obama, is somehow going to make things better, is dying. Quick death, slow death, I don’t care which, I just want it to last awhile.
Because another thing everyone with a brain knows, even though they don’t say it out loud, is this: While there may be no elegant solution to Syria right now, there was a great way to prevent it. And the prevention had nothing to do, at all, with yet one more super-mega-awesome-wonderful speech by He Who Argues With The Dictionaries.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Is there any busted thing anywhere, that duct tape can’t fix?
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