I’m having a difficult time coming up with anything in the afternoon. This is a problem I’ve been dealing with for a while. Since, oh, 1977.

I’ve never been able to do anything of consequence in the afternoon, simply because nothing has ever been required - aside from my office-life stints, that is. Then I made myself be productive, but it was the sort of thing that wears away your soul with fine-grain sandpaper and dumps you out at dusk, a dry husk of the person you were when you came to work. In journalism the only time that matters is the deadline; I can, and do, write things at 1 AM that are due the next noon. Mornings are for gathering and assembling. Evenings are for producing. Afternoons are for naps.

But we’re not a siesta culture, so you get odd looks if you sleep two hours after lunch. I should note that the cultures where you sleep in the afternoon are also cultures where you eat late and have long meals, so I don’t really think they’re putting in lots of hours at the typewriter or easel or filing cabinet after supper’s done. And they probably don’t work a lot in the morning, either. So the modern state in thes countries exists to provide make-work jobs for many, who spend their time inflicting small difficulties on those who don’t work for the state or some somnambulant entity, and the vacuity of mind this breeds leads to greater existential despair, which can be solved only by drinking a lot at supper and arguing meaningless nuances of the same political theory.

"What is the difference between opinion and belief?" Daughter said at dinner. That was the main question in her Theory of Knowledge class.

I said the first was a subjective interpretation of a generally agreed-upon fact, and the other was not necessarily required to have evidential proof. For example (knocking on the dinner table) it is a fact that this table exists, and it is an opinion that it is a good color. Other people can have a different opinion. I cannot have an opinion about t a red table on another planet with an alien civilization, but I can have a belief that such a thing exists. Do you like the tacos? It's a ranch-flavored shell.

I believe she had a good opinion of the tacos.

Perhaps I am thinking like this - airy things, y'know - I just read another book review of another book about Kafka, and this one said he was heavily influenced by Theosophy. What? Why, this:

Theosophy is a collection of mystical and occultist philosophies concerning, or seeking direct knowledge of, the presumed mysteries of life and nature, particularly of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe. Theosophy is considered part of Western esotericism, which believes that hidden knowledge or wisdom from the ancient past offers a path to enlightenment and salvation.

The restless eternal adolescent is convinced there was hidden wisdom from the ancient past, and hence was drawn to mystical album cover art that made the stoner feel as if he was apprehending some basic cosmic truths when he looked at a picture of Stonehenge. They knew things! They figured out the motions of the stars! Yes; nice work, that. And so?

About the modern-day founder, Helen Blatavsky:

She claimed that in Tibet, she was taught an ancient, unknown language known as Senzar, and translated a number of ancient texts written in this language that were preserved by the monks of a monastery.

She also claimed that while in Tibet, Morya and Koot Hoomi helped her develop and control her psychic powers. Among the abilities that she ascribed to these "Masters" were clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, the ability to control another's consciousness, to dematerialize and rematerialize physical objects, and to project their astral bodies, thus giving the appearance of being in two places at once.

Yeah, Tibet. Of course. Contemporaries noted that it was virtually impossible for a Westerner to get there in the early 1870s, but as always, people want to believe.

Senzar, by the way, was the language used by Atlantians, until their mouths were full of water, and then they just made glub-glub sounds, but not for long.

Once you start clicking on random links in these interminable compendiums you discover things like the Hermetic Order of Luxor, a mystical society that fell out of favor after “the conviction in 1883 of the Secretary of the Order, Thomas Henry Burgoyne for fraud.” The Theosophists used this to show how the Order was immoral. Hah!

An evaluation on Blutarsky’s - sorry, Blatavsky's character by a former associate and student in her Wikipedia entry

She taught me one great lesson. I learned from her how foolish, how 'gullible', how easily flattered human beings are, taken en masse. Her contempt for her kind was on the same gigantic scale as everything else about her, except her marvelously delicate tapered fingers. In all else, she was a big woman. She had a greater power over the weak and credulous, a greater capacity for making black appear white, a larger waist, a more voracious appetite, a more confirmed passion for tobacco, a more ceaseless and insatiable hatred for those whom she thought to be her enemies, a greater disrespect for les convenances, a worse temper, a greater command of bad language, and a greater contempt for the intelligence of her fellow-beings than I had ever supposed possible to be contained in one person.

These, I suppose, must be reckoned as her vices, though whether a creature so indifferent to all ordinary standards of right and wrong can be held to have virtues or vices, I know not.

Ouch. At the base of it all, a disdain and impatience for les convenances, aka propriety, twinned with a need for attention and respect that could not be achieved without making up something big and audacious. We are never without these people.

So how did it affect Kafka? He had a strain of unmoored half-baked mysticism, I guess. Not sure it matters. Nineteenth century spiritualism is incredibly tiresome subject, and in retrospect everyone seems to be filling time until WW1 finally knocks over every ossified, fossilized, fragile tradition. I blame the French. (Seriously. The Revolution. Spoiled everything.)


More of the work of C. H. Wellington, cartoonist mislaid by history. Today, sadism among the young:

The man's position can be explained by his stoutness; he cannot sit at the small table like a person of nominal girth. Because it is not, he is leaking spermatazoa. The child has taken advantage of his posture to favor his drink in such a way that it will be instantly spat out, ensuring that the desired effect of utter discomfort is not achieved.

How did the child know what to pour? Many times his mother has asked him to fetch the cayenne pepper, and when he asked which one that was, she explained to him the type of container, the size of the label, and the fact that the label was affixed with a starched string.




Texas abounds with opportunities for this feature, and some seem irretrievable, lost and gone. Doesn't seem to be the case here, but

Wikipedia notes what happened lately:

Rockdale was the site of a large Alcoa smelting operation, which could produce 1.67 million pounds of aluminum per day. The ALCOA plant profoundly changed the city, as noted in a Saturday Evening Post article by Rockdale native George Sessions Perry - within a few years of its arrival in 1952, Rockdale almost doubled in population, changing in character from a predominantly agricultural economy to one heavily driven by manufacturing jobs. The ALCOA plant was partially closed in late 2008 - early 2009.

It's completely closed now. The company said it was not competitive with "other smelters globally."

The town grew up alongside a train line, the International-Great Northern Railroad. Their depot:

I wondered what the Great Snortin' was doing down in Texas, but the famed Minnesota line was a different company. The Great Northern Railway. I'm sure they didn't chose the name of the Texas line to make people think they were part of that successful company. Nah.

So what's downtown? This off-putting piece of visual abrasion:

A facade job, or new construction? The door is situated like a 60s building, and the same goes for the window. If I had to guess: bank or public building of some sort.

It's certainly arresting, I'll give it that.

NOTE: in the middle of writing this, I found a resource that gives some context. It seems to have replaced another structure.

Full enshinglement in the Buckaroo Revival style, with late 60s / early 70s faux stone for the full length:

Think of men with wide lapels and thick ties and brown-rimmed glasses and combovers and polyester shirts, and that's who clustered around the day they had their grand opening.

As the song says: something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.

It looks like a second floor was lopped off and the windows filled in, but the proportions are wrong, and the roofline pyramids look original.

The town went all-out when it seemed like Pepto-Bismol might build plant:

Thin bricks indicate a 50s makeover; the corners show the tell-tale signs of glue daubs, suggesting Vitrolite or porcelain plates. Which might have been put up in the 30s or 40s.

Overall it looks as if it lost a story - the second, in between the first and third.

The building on the left looks like an indifferent Rock 'em-Sock 'em robot:

On the right - why, look! Buckaroo Revival of the most delicate sort.

Yes, that's a great place for shingles! And as long as they're at it:

It must have been beautiful, once - imagine that window glowing in the twilight.

Tire & Automotive . . .

. . . and treasures.

On the edge of downtown, looking as if it's 1948:


And it's open! Take a look at how rotten it was before renovation.

There was another theater . . . but we'll get to that.

A hopeful sign: old structures respectfully renovated.

One more note:

From 1992 to 2011, the Rockdale facility had been the sole supplier of the aluminum powder used to propel U. S. space shuttles.

Ironically, the commander on three shuttle missions,— pilot on a fourth and mission specialist on a fifth—was a Rockdale native.

Ken Cockrell commanded shuttle missions in 2002, 2001 and 1996, piloted a 1995 flight and first flew into space aboard a 1993 mission.

Cockrell is a 1968 graduate of Rockdale High School and won an Alcoa scholarship that year.

Wonder if he got gas here, or whether it had been shuttered even then:


There's more: have a look.

Bonus fun: look at this photograph, and see if you can find the street. The 7th building from the corner is still around.


And so we're almost at Friday, again! Hope your penultimate workday goes well.


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