If you are short of everything except enemy, you are in combat. — classic military idiom.
My search continues for absurdist meaning and useful purpose in an era when doom is likely and insignificance is palpable. I’ve written many segments and then paused to wonder if what I had to say had meaning in this new context. While this version of the paradigm takes decades rather than minutes, the story is the same: We are long on zombies and short on bullets, and without some deux-ex-machina, this is our last stand. Still, heroes fight the zombie hordes to the last bullet whether or not there’s a chance of a surprise gunship or the completion of a mass-zombie-dispelling ritual is imminent.
My thoughts lately:
• Sisyphus as an absurdist figure is not as easy for me to identify with, let alone happy, contented Sisyphus. But Don Quixote de la Mancha certainly is, having wooed my fair share of Dulcineas and been bested by my share of windmills. Still, these days, I reckon myself more as a Sancho Panza often the one pointing out windmills from giants, through my lord is determined to do combat with them regardless.
• And I grew up on Peanuts never recognizing this aspect of Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown fails at almost everything he does. The exemplar bit is his attempts to kick a foodball held by Lucy. She always pulls away at the last end, and he ends up on the ground saying good grief!. But he gets up and goes on. Sometimes he laments his frustration, but Linus reminds him the world did not end. Charlie Brown continues ever forward, ever on, unflinching, toward more adventures, including more footballs.
In my life:
• My sweetheart’s business Christmas party was the weekend following Thanksgiving and we are both over-socialized. During the Thanksgiving weekend, her estranged father came back to de-strange (with a new wife beside him who was a tad over-eager to witness new relatives into the fold of her church). Then the Christmas party was a bit more chaotic than typical, with more miscommunications and service missteps. It was managed but not perfectly. So yeah, my sweetheart and I are exhausted of people and Christmas, at least for today. She more than I. Also, I’ve been lamenting Trump’s overuse of Christmas sentiments, reflections of the war on Christmas, a divisionist seasonal theme from Fox News. Lately, Trump’s been selling his tax scheme as a Christmas present to the American people. This is something like hosting gladiator games for the people and financing them by selling out the state’s grain reservoirs.
• My sweetheart’s daughter in Indiana gave birth to a son today, after a complicated labor. So everyone’s happy for the new boy and relieved it’s over and everyone is alive and well. My own feelings are mixed: this is an era in which children are expensive and they get hurt when they realize what they cost to their parents (both monetarily and emotionally), and while I appreciate my grandson (the four-year-old local grandson) when he’s here, his mom is exhausted keeping up with the boy. There will be a point that he’ll be able to understand he was brought into a world that was not ideal for raising him, we will all have to reconcile that we’re trying our best regardless of imperfect circumstances.
Then I confront that the lives of these boys are going to be defined (if not cut short) when things get really bad in twenty years or so. In light of that, I’m following the advice of Detective William Somerset you spoil that kid any chance you get.
I’m also worried, considering the number of boys being born lately within zero or one degrees of separation from me at this time. As I pointed out, the time to be thinking about pulling our kids through puberty and their early sexuality is not when they’re already desperate for sex beyond all sensibilities of rationality or decency and they are considering assault or coercion (Yes, it drove me that crazy when I was a teen), but years before that, while they’re still cute and adorable. This is not to say parents have solutions available to them, but that doing nothing about it sets these boys in a direction toward joining the misogynistic legions of the manosphere that regard sex as a commodity one extracts from women like scream from children (ultimately by extractor). Changing culture starts with kids, and if we want to see sexuality in the US change to one that doesn’t involve coercion or aggression, we need to start changing it now.
• As of today, my new tablet failed, or at least is not powering up. Fortunately it’s under warranty (multiple warranties, possibly) so it’s a matter of getting it replaced, the process of which I’ll begin tomorrow. But it means I don’t have a thing on which to read news when I eat my breakfast. This may be a good thing as I can use a break from news and disincentives to look at news. Speaking of which:
• Kim Jong-un launched another ICBM, this time with the reach of all the United States, and news agencies are all astir about it once again. (Because why not incite panic among your readers if it means sweet, sweet clicks?) When Trump last attempted to smack talk / provoke Kim, what I wrote explained the situation well enough. Firstly, North Korea is probably many steps away from actually hitting the US with an ICBM. Perhaps we take for granted the engineering miracle of US missiles like the Polaris (which are accurate enough to deliver a pizza to a phone booth). But that’s actually really hard to do, and where the Soviet Union couldn’t figure it out, they would just use twenty or so missiles with big bombs to assure something hit the target. Even if Kim was able to get a missile (or three dozen), there’s the matter of the US ability to retaliate (which it could handily do with conventional weapons and still reduce North Korea to the paleolithic epoch. That is to say Kim would have to be a madman and surrounded by madmen before attacking the US or its allies might look like a good option. Doing so would kill all of the DPRK.
• Roy Moore’s inappropriate behavior (including sexual harassment and assault) has led him to being accused of pedophilia. In nighttime television a pedophile jokes fly about when the subject of Roy Moore arises. And associating Moore with pedophilia makes pedophiles look bad.
In this case it’s not entirely a joke. Pedophiles typically live their entire lives without offending, often relying on alternative expressions of their kink such as lolicon and ageplay. And yes, while they may fantasize about acts that US society would consider unconscionable, people seem to not be adverse to people thinking about countless other unconscionable deeds, so long as these thoughts don’t compel into action. (e.g. Agatha Christie’s and my shared fascination with real-world poisons, hence her use of actual named toxins in her mystery fiction. Me, I just have a profound affection for tradecraft in general.) We Americans are just super squicky about sex and endangering kids.
There is the matter that pedophiles specifically fetishize pre-pubescent children. I’ll touch on this briefly: human men commonly find post-pubescent teenaged women hot — even though we now regard them as adolescent — much the way we find Olympic athletes hot: youth and health are optimal for breeding, so of course we find both sexy, doubly so in tandem. Dating underaged people (outside the threshold of Romeo and Juliet exceptions) is still illegal. Young people are often not emotionally developed enough to make clear-headed decisions about their lives and sexualities. But Moore actions make him a sexual predator (again, allegedly, but with convincing evidence, so far), and guilty of Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. Alabama may have its own terms for these crimes.
As a note, pedophilia has only been regarded as a problem since after the 1980s, after an incident that was based entirely off of false evidence (getting most of its evidence by Recovered-Memory Therapy, a since-debunked process of asking small children leading questions to get them to implicate suspects.) This era brought about the Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) moral panic after the general fear rose that much of the world was controlled by Satanic Secret Societies (SSS). (Now, after half a century of religious right influence on our state, I half wish it was true. These notions became popular after The Exorcist (the 1973 film) and the following run of Satanism knock-off movies. The SRA scare lead less to child protections against actual abusers, but instead a crusade against pervs and gays that (allegedly) eroticized kids. This moral crusade also rallied against all things that might be devices by which Great Satan influenced our children.
Curiously, until the 1990s, actual sexual relationships with children, some to kids as young as nine-years-old, were entirely legal and endorsed by our legal system throughout much of the United States, so long as they were married first. So yes, we were more concerned that sex was licensed rather than whether or not it was abusive or coerced or that a child was bound to a contract without full knowledge or ability to consent. Only in the 1990s did child marriage become criminalized, and in some states judges can (and often still do) make exceptions.
• Playing a game over Thanksgiving, I engaged in the following conversation about the card game Fluxx:
Family Member: Is this a zero-sum game?
Uriel: Yes. In this game only one player can win. In rare instances, circumstances occur in which nobody wins.
Family Member: Ah, just like socialism.
It was a barb that I am still trying to examine, since I have no particular skin regarding socialism (In the US we’ve socialized the military, many benefits for impoverished and disabled and in some counties utilities like water and power are socialized. Meanwhile most of our economy is capitalist) I hypothesize that while he was pinging he was a conservative, he was endorsing simplistic ideological generalization (e.g. socialism = bad, laissez-faire capitalism = good, vaccines = bad, guns = good) and endorsing the notion that we don’t need to bother understanding why we might take these axioms for granted, and that maybe we should not. It stung because it’s an attack on intellectualism.
At some point I may write further on one or more of these topics which have been (along with a dozen or so others) brewing in my head. For now, though, I still am stuck in a place of introspection, trying to consider what my values are, or should be, when the giants I tilt at may be windmills after all, when the zombies I fend off may get me anyway, and may perish on their own before claiming other victims. I still don’t know what to do with myself, and when I surface once again, I’m not sure where or even who I will be.
Edits: So yeah, as painful as it is, editing is a process, and I don’t have the patience to delay posting it when I reach the aw, fuck it threshold. That said, sometimes when I post blog pieces, they are unclear in places and chock full of grammar and even misspellings (now that we have numerous and amazing defenses against spelling eras.) As a result this is a work still in progress, but mostly done. Mostly.