Probably better. Had peculiar dreams the night before, but not the mad tumbling kind. In fact James Spader was over to the house, and I was telling him how much I liked his show. Other people in the conversation didn’t know he was on TV, and I said It’s called . . . it’s called, hold on, it’ll come to me - oh you play a guy named Blackington on the Red List. He thought it was funny. We were all standing outside, and it was a different house, a suburban place, a bit rundown. Inside the kitchen was piled with dishes and bottles and cans. Ashtrays. Everything had a 70s vibe. Messy lives and rote deprivation.
Woke with the usual trepidation: worse? No, fine. Better as the day went on, so I think the pneumonia thing isn’t in the cards. I don’t know which cards those would be. Tarot, perhaps. THE SCULPTOR. Isn’t that how it works? Hmm, you got the Sculptor. Oh, does that mean I make things? Construct fine art out of impassive rock? No, it’s usually a sign of change, or excess sputum. Sometimes it refers to gardening.
It’s all BS. I remember I was into the I Ching as a kid, because of “Kung Fu,” probably. Bought a thick book at Johnson’s Drug that had all the fortunes ascribed to particular rolls of the whatever. Took about a week to realize this was nonsense. Horoscopes never seemed remotely sensible on any level; the idea that distant celestial bodies could affect whether I would lose my keys or meet a girl seemed akin to reading the guts of birds for guidance in life.
As for guidance, I had several templates established before I got to high school:
1. The Constitution, which was about the right to free speech, and some other stuff that came later but was pretty good
2. The Ten Commandments, which were hard to argue with. You didn’t even know where to start. Or rather Thou didn’t know. I think they would have made more of an impression if they’d dropped the Thous and went with YOU, which focuses God right down on your own little head. You shall have no other gods before me. Well, that’s easy; don’t have any contenders. It’s not a deep bench. You shalt not covet thine neighbor’s wife. Noooooo problem, big guy. She wear a tarp and smokes Silva Thins and yells at the dogs and besides I’m ten, so gross.
3. The Seven Deadly Sins. They did not seem particularly deadly. We all knew someone who was slothful, and far from being on death’s precipice, he seemed just well-rested. But you got the idea that SLOTH was bad, and you should be doing something.
4. The Golden Rule. This made sense from the very first second I encountered it, and I think your reaction to it may be a mix of hard-wiring and upbringing. Some people lack the brain infrastructure necessary for empathy, and others are ruined by childhood to view the world outside their own head and hands as a place of danger and deceit, and the idea of treating others as you would have them treat you is a sucker’s game. It has a utilitarian component, and I had a fling with that for a few months in college because it was unsparing and rational, but in the end it’s, well, unsparing and rational, and those are grim measures for a society’s success. But it makes sense, even from a cold and indifferent point of view, to treat everyone as you would have them treat you; it is not necessary to like people to know that this is the best recipe for civil society.
I don’t think I’ve liked people, in general, less than I have the last few months. I blame retweets of lunatics of both stripes who are in thrall to utopian statism or hectoring egoists lofted upwards with every great gust of flatulence. There are no arguments, as such, just beatings of swords on shields between factions. Titus Milo vs. Claudius Pulcher, more or less. At least there’s the consolation that nothing is new under the sun, but that’s less of a consolation than you’d like to think.
But “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You” is the model for civil society, and it’s why you are nice to the person who rings up your groceries, because you’d be all peeved and tweety and uh-uh-no-she-did-unt if the clerk scowled and said “you could have told me you wanted paper at the start, because now I have to put it all in different bags. Jesus.” The only new model the 20th century could come up with was Alister Crowley’s dictum, "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Which makes for some pretty bad law, right, but the quote usually omits the other part: “so far as it shall hurt no one,” or something like that. In other words, extreme libertarianism. And I am sympathetic to the back-off, pal ethos, but as the example goes, it doesn’t hurt anyone if I’m sawing puppies in half in my basement for amusement. And “Hurt” is a rather subjective concept. If something doesn’t specifically hurt a Person, but the end result ends up hurting many through its implementation, well, no.
What he meant was “do drugs and wear robes and stare ominously at the camera when photographed by sympathetic friends.” I read his stuff in college, too. Tripe.
Anyway. I don’t think the schisms are greater than they were; they’re just apparent because they are amplified and paraded around the new public square like badges of virtue. The new public square, alas, not a place. It is a dirty whirlwind.
Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you, I'd say, but where’s the fun at that. Lots more entertainment to spit, punch, and block.
Pupdate: like a sailor at the rail, scanning the horizon for whale-spouts.
Construction Update: as noted, my old newspaper is coming down. They're starting in the back, and haven't gotten to the newsroom. Here's a minute.
I don't feel as bad as I thought I would.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene.
CND Cue #570 Cheery but wary, with an uh-oh.
CND Cue #571 Never heard this one, either - has a double wah-wah.
CND Cue #572 Really strenuous swoop with a hard Oh-oh.
Here's the second in a series of Public Service Announcements that ran on the Armed Forces Radio service. They served no purpose whatsoever, except to make GIs homesick.
Des Moines: it's still there!
Finally, our ad of the week: Domestic racial relations in 1947.
One a Day. Give one to the servants, too!
More classy seventies drivel from the Golden Hour label. It was the 101 Strings, again. Or was it?
Perhaps "101 Strings" was an ironic version of the real thing.
C'mon, let's tango. Everybody! Popular at dance classes in YWCAs, played through a tinny mono speaker.
Bonus Bleatnik points if anyone can identify the Bob & Ray skit referenced in the italicized sentence.