And thus, another week. Some things done. Some things forgotten. Some things avoided; some things indulged. Friday is the perfect mix of duty and release, with all the rationed pleasures that line up to reward me at the finish line: nap, pizza, work that's just for pleasure, the bourbon, and a good television program with ice cream. Perhaps you have your own rewards; I hope so. Space and pace your indulgences, I always say. Really! I never stop saying it. About everything. It's tiresome eventually and confusing at first.
That phrase - I always say - seems to occur with diminishing frequency these days. People don't have mottos. When I think of the phrase I always remember Yosemite Sam, who said it in one cartoon. The one where he's running for office and so is Bugs, and there's the piano wired with dynamite, and he gets all het up because Bugs tells him that Emma from St. Louee is at the door when it is, in fact, a cannon. (BOOM. Yep, same old Emma. Fulla laffs) The cartoon always seemed odd to me when I first encountered it, because it ended without a gag, right after "Dark horse? Mare?" It was only later when I realized why.
By the way, the thing that Sam always says is "No one will vote for a flattened out rabbit skin." It would seem to have limited utility.
In times of internal strife and quandary, it’s seldom a good idea to turn to the precepts of dead white men.
This is simply stated as a fact. This is something that's quite obvious to anyone. These people are trebly cursed: dead, which means their experience or knowledge of internal strife and quandary is irrelevant to modern minds; white, which means they are incapable of grasping universal human truths without seeing them through the prism of skin color, and men - well, say no more.
But during her midlife crisis, Alison Gopnik found solace in the ideas of David Hume, which remain progressive even today: for Hume, “the metaphysical foundations don’t matter. Experience is enough all by itself. What do you lose when you give up God or ‘reality’ or even ‘I’? The moon is still just as bright; you can still predict that a falling glass will break, and you can still act to catch it; you can still feel compassion for the suffering of others. Science and work and morality remain intact … Give up the prospect of life after death, and you will finally really appreciate life before it. Give up metaphysics, and you can concentrate on physics. Give up the idea of your precious, unique, irreplaceable self, and you might actually be more sympathetic to other people.”
Fine. This would seem to be good advice for people who spend a great deal of time taking their own mental temperature, obsessing over the rise and fall of a tenth of a degree, wondering if they should try a different thermometer. But unless I'm reading this wrong, Experience is enough all by itself and Science and work and morality remain intact aren't compatible, in the end. If experience is elevated to the prime objective of life, then morality is an impediment.
Perhaps my problem is this: much of what passes for heaven-rending insights and life-changing advice seems obvious, or just watery milk. No knock on Hume, and hurrah for the author's attempts to find out if he was influenced by Buddhism, but the quoted paragraph seems to mistake the warm glow of inner peace with the heat coming off the smouldering strawman. Give up metaphysics, and you can concentrate on physics. It's either or. Give up the prospect of life after death, and you will finally really appreciate life before it. No sense combining the two.
Anything that suggests I "give up 'reality'" is not a belief system that helps you hammer a nail. And most of life is hammering a nail, one way or the other.
For some the nail is the self, and it must be bashed and pulled out and straightened and placed in the same hole and struck again, first with tentative taps, then great furious blows. Over and over. The point isn't what the nail holds together, or the act of hammering; The point is the nail. Over my favorite site for grandiose bloviations, some breathtaking! and brilliant! words from Virginia Woolf:
The past only comes back when the present runs so smoothly that it is like the sliding surface of a deep river. Then one sees through the surface to the depths. In those moments I find one of my greatest satisfactions, not that I am thinking of the past; but that it is then that I am living most fully in the present. For the present when backed by the past is a thousand times deeper than the present when it presses so close that you can feel nothing else, when the film on the camera reaches only the eye.
But to feel the present sliding over the depths of the past, peace is necessary. The present must be smooth, habitual. For this reason — that it destroys the fullness of life — any break causes me extreme distress; it breaks; it shallows; it turns the depth into hard thin splinters… I write this partly in order to recover my sense of the present by getting the past to shadow this broken surface. Let me then, like a child advancing with bare feet into a cold river, descend again into the stream.
Off you go then. I write this partly in order to recover my sense of the present by getting the past to shadow this broken surface. These are the sort of lines that make college teachers sigh when they encounter them in creative writing essays, but it's brilliant because it's Woolf. On another brainpickings piece about the Soul, and how Woolf wrote about - get this - the Paradox of the Soul and the Consolations of Growing Older, there's this diary entry:
Talk with Francis yesterday. He is dying: but makes no bones about it. Only his expression is quite different. Has no hope. The man says he asks every hour how long will this go on, and hopes for the end. He was exactly as usual; no wandering, no incoherence… The soul deserves to be immortal, as L. said. We walked back, glad to be alive, numb somehow. I can’t use my imagination on that theme. What would it be like to lie there, expecting death? and how odd and strange a death. I write hurriedly, going to Angelica’s concert this fine soft day.
You can tell it made a profound impression.
By the way, these journal entries, according ot the site, are indispensable.
Construction update: no more Downtown East project for a while, since I don't have any reason to go there. The Strib is gone.
The AC Hotel rises:
Nothing much to see for a while. Having seen the final design, nothing much to see for a long time.
The parking ramp on Marq4 is going up. From the beginning I've thought that everything this building did was somehow wrong, from the facade to the screen that walls off the bottom floors. But also from the beginning I've liked it. I can't explain.
Below, how the street has changed in a year: Except for the blue building in the back, this was all empty 24 months ago.
Housing and offices. Nothing that's particularly . . . unusual, which is good, but nothing that's distinctive, which is expected.
Pupdate: it was this sort of day for everyone. And that's okay.
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. Actual bits of script are left in now and then for surreal effect.
CND Cue #588 Where the devil did this one come from?
CND Cue #589 And this one never showed again, either.
By the way: the first one was from the last episode. (I have many others mis-numbered to go through the rest of the year.) The last episode deserves some attention, which I'll probably do the week of November 25th, the airdate of the last show.
The PSA of the week: This land is everyone's land. It's like the "City you might be from and possibly want to hear about, even though you're stuck in Germany." An Armed Forces Radio PSA for the existence of Michigan.
This is what radio sounds like when there aren't real ads.
Finally, our ad of the week: a 1975 ad for brooms. Damned sugar:
All together now: O Cedar makes . . . what?
This stuff is creepy. And deeply sad.
The album came out in 1959, so they're old people now.
It's hard not to think of someone sitting old and alone in a room, listening to this.
It's all the more remarkable when you think that his most famous piece was . . . the theme from this.