Every artist was first an amateur. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The words and life of Ralph Waldo Emerson had a profound effect on me when I was just a schoolboy, so much so that during my senior year in high school I lobbied and won the right to name the new black labrador puppy we had brought into the family, Waldo. Back then everyone my age knew about Emerson's long friendship with Henry David Thoreau and their famous exchange. According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in the Concord jail for refusing to pay his poll tax and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?" Thoreau was refusing to finance the government war machine of his day.
Although having nothing to do with Thoreau or what many have called "his hippie politics" run amuck, I have since tried to find the precise language shot from the brow of Mr. Emerson that had pierced me, words that I paraphrased with aplomb and a surety to others for years, but I have not been able to locate the exact words. However, at the other extreme of this entry, I will do my best to reconstruct the thought.
Meanwhile I did find these several contiguous paragraphs I immediately embraced because they not only reminded me of something I think I read in Henry Miller about Kierkgaard, but they are so similar to the lines I'm looking for I was surprised when I couldn't find them in the essay from which I lifted the following words:
The characteristic of such verses is, that being not written for publication, they lack that finish which the conventions of literature require of authors. But if poetry of this kind has merit, we conceive that the prescription which demands a rhythmical polish may be easily set aside; and when a writer has outgrown the state of thought which produced the poem, the interest of letters is served by publishing it imperfect, as we preserve studies, torsos, and blocked statues of the great masters. For though we should be loath to see the wholesome conventions, to which we have alluded, broken down by a general incontinence of publication, and every man's and woman's diary flying into the bookstores, yet it is to be considered, on the other hand, that men of genius are often more incapable than others of that elaborate execution which criticism exacts. Men of genius in general are, more than others, incapable of any perfect exhibition, because however agreeable it may be to them to act on the public, it is always a secondary aim. They are humble, self-accusing, moody men, whose worship is toward the Ideal Beauty, which chooses to be courted not so often in perfect hymns, as in wild ear-piercing ejaculations, or in silent musings. Their face is forward, and their heart is in this heaven. By so much are they disqualified for a perfect success in any particular performance to which they can give only a divided affection. But the man of talents has every advantage in the competition. He can give that cool and commanding attention to the thing to be done, that shall secure its just performance. Yet are the failures of genius better than the victories of talent; and we are sure that some crude manuscript poems have yielded us a more sustaining and a more stimulating diet, than many elaborated and classic productions.
We have been led to these thoughts by reading some verses, which were lately put into our hands by a friend with the remark, that they were the production of a youth, who had long passed out of the mood in which he wrote them, so that they had become quite dead to him. Our first feeling on reading them was a lively joy. So then the Muse is neither dead nor dumb, but has found a voice in these cold Cisatlantic States.
Here is poetry which asks no aid of magnitude or number, of blood or crime, but finds theatre enough in the first field or brookside, breadth and depth enough in the flow of its own thought. Here is self-repose, which to our mind is stabler than the Pyramids; here is self-respect which leads a man to date from his heart more proudly than from Rome. Here is love which sees through surface, and adores the gentle nature and not the costume. Here is religion, which is not of the Church of England, nor of the Church of Boston. Here is the good wise heart, which sees that the end of culture is strength and cheerfulness.
In an age too which tends with so strong an inclination to the philosophical muse, here is poetry more purely intellectual than any American verses we have yet seen, distinguished from all competition by two merits; the fineness of perception; and the poet's trust in his own genius to that degree, that there is an absence of all conventional imagery, and a bold use of that which the moment's mood had made sacred to him, quite careless that it might be sacred to no other, and might even be slightly ludicrous to the first reader.
One more thought on Thoreau and what my sources call his poll tax. Seems as if one didn't always have to be a poor Negro languishing in the Southern Disguise under Jim Crow to be smacked with a poll tax in this man's United States of America. As for knocking Thoreau and his Walden Pond fantasy, I made my own Walden Pond fantasy some to pass down in Florida, Lofton Creek, east of Yulee, where my blistering education really got a kickstart away from the slow gentle death I had been suffering since leaving highschool, my glory years of school confinement grades 1-12 which I loved, for married life and the strong American red, white, and blue work ethic which I loved considerably less...
But Emerson made plain my future to me when he described the world as full of young wits who have a measure of both skill and resolve. However, they burst upon the stage, and soon are spent, wasted, with nothing else to say, and not much of what they did say will stand. However, wrote Emerson, one should prefer to be the man who exercises patience, disabusing himself of the notion of early riches and fame only to flame out. This man would rather hone his skill, his talent, his art, his learning, and then when the time of maturity has arrived, he will have something more substantial to say, something more lasting, something more beneficial.
I would love to stumble across Emerson's exact words, but for now...
Allow me to explain my predicament. Up until March 29, 2003, I had carefully maintained, organized & archived my entire email history from 1993 when I first joined Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL all within a few weeks of each other, having been instantly smitten with this new world of messaging and self-publication. I hail from a damned near illiterate backgroundfrom an alcohol-hardened household, from a band of brothers who somehow esteem reading and writing of little use above that required by law.
This is not an indictment of them, but a tiny spotlight onto the struggles for my own sense of clarity, given my own poetic nature, and desire for pursuing and comprehending the incomprehensible. I had been fortunate that during my ten years of archiving, I had never lost anything I had ever emailed, or had received from someone. Except for obvious and useless SPAM, and lower tier business correspondence, I cherished and kept every bit of communication I had ever mustered.
And I'd been fortunate to have met and sustained along the way a steady string of aspiring authors, so our email wasn't of the dull flat liner variety that would soon cloak the long silences of previous generations who had transitioned from sincere letter writing to the less literary and more immediate telephone call and special event card. Now we had access to a marvelous combination of the two, letter writing nearly extinct, and the telephone call, often as mundane and flawed for its archival challenges as the polaroid in the digital camera age.
But then came the shock and awe of that March 29 data loss. Ten years of treasured exchanges gone in a keystroke! Ordinarily I kept a rather recent back-up of my work, but for reasons of brevity, let's just say I had little to rely upon that day, so in one terrible keystroke I lost my entire hard drive of personal information while visiting the terminal for my first and only peek at the guts of the operating system. After the week long stress, sweat and toil of data recovery magic, I found that I had recovered maybe two-thirds of my email data. I lost so much more other work, but it was my treasured email that mattered most to me at that point, and the process was too inadequate to worry about the rest of the loss. Now, of course, my email did not recover its former glory. So, instead of each individual mail stored away in personal boxes and folders, where I had immediate access to them in plain text, I now had over 22,000 individual files each named, starting at number 1, increasing in value one file at a time, like this:
Email file (generic) 16784
And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend’s recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it’s a keeper; here’s yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I’ll leave that story to later.) Can’t wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev’ry muscle I’ve still got in the game…
And to make matters worse, each recovered file, no, did not include just a single piece of mail, but sometimes two, five, or three, point three emails. And these texts were not alone in their new miserable state. Now each file included huge chunks of header and other inexplicable strands of ASCII gibberish, cast off, decidedly boorish digital DNA that I would have to clear away like so many acres of undergrowth in order to isolate a long lost masterpiece from my friend Steve, or a stroll through Landryville with the wit and sarcasm of her spicy Cajun' upbringing, or merely a well-written communication from back in the day, those early days when so many people inside and outside the industry mocked the functionality, or inspirational value of email, while here we were composing masterpieces, detailing small everyday events of those days of our lives, marching to our exciting times with an eye on posterity.
Yes all this, BEFORE THE DELUGE OF SPAM. Before Internet porn. And for several years, before the WWW itself. Ah, yes, we were there, and we were writers, and yes, we could be bombastic or plain spoken. We could lie with dogs, or we could ride elephant ears. Those were the days where great plans ruled the great plains.
Nostalgic, but that's merely the background noise of my original purpose in posting today. Now here's one of those recovered files I just opened this morning, randomly. I did not write this, it seems to be unsigned, but I did save it. And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend's recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it's a keeper; here's yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I'll leave that story to later.) Can't wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev'ry muscle I've still got in the game...
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 04:00:08
From: Timothy S. Shipman
I can only... guess, after my comments of the other night regarding not having furnished Steve with my home e-mail address, that you, prior to that night, not being aware as to my dilemma regarding, enabling or getting dragged under by one Steve Taylor, must have furnished him with it inadvertently. I'm not attempting to place blame; rather I dislike the unexplained; it bothers me. As you may have concluded, I've received two e-mails from him in the past two days.
I can't be sure as yet, but I don't think I've e-mailed him since the home e-mail has been installed. Either from home or work. So I'll be checking my work e-mail logs tomorrow to see if I can get to the root of this. Any enlightenment you might shed would be appreciated.
Thanks to you and Sue for Sunday afternoon and evening, again!
Nope, no clues, no bruise from over here. I haven't emailed him in weeks, and haven't mentioned you at all in ages to him, so I'm not sure how he got it either, Tim, except we might have mentioned Earthlink over the phone that night, and like Jack, Steve is a resourceful fellow with something that appeals to his own sense of espionage and personal cleverness, and if Steve is anything, he's web savvy, at least on the surf. And yes, it was great having you here. Thanks again for everything. We got an offer on the house from that Kevin and Marcia Rader-Rhodenbaugh couple that swept through here Sunday, about five grand lower than we are willing to accept, so we chipped away a little from our listing price, and counteroffered. That other house we wanted on Connecticut Avenue is gone. Poof!
The Sue and Gabriel show may finally wind up on the street without a place to live yet.
The mortgage banker recommended by the Virginia realtor has stalled, or is a heavy procrastinator in giving us a nod or anything at all, so we may have to look elsewhere in saddling up with our own new mortgage services, and that next step is crucial. Anywaze, yeah, I miss Steve, but he's a jackass, worse than me it seems in terms of the friendship wars. If he would just grow up and try to be there for "his" friends once in a while rather than always needing somebody to be there for him, then he'd be a great person to know, but nobody can expect Steve to step outside his own calendar, so otherwise, yikes, let me out the door, splat, before this thing goes terminal...
Hey babyI just called Mother to discuss offering my help in her move to Chicago, but her phone has "been temporarily disconnected" in a sad continuation of old habits. No email now either I'd presume. But hopefully she'll get reconnected here soon. I shudder to think of her traipsing up to Chicago all by herself without a clue of where to live, or how she'll unload her trailer, if things don't get stolen first. I think I need to take a pro-active approach to this, her move, and do what I can to help her out. But to migrate with near empty pockets to Chicago in January is asinine.
Meanwhile, there is news from the Dave & Jen front, just the highlights as the Hurricane Floyd to their credit is not really their concern. It should have already passed through on Thursday with minor charms.
We were not able to come to a satisfactory resolution with the Berkshire corporations, and have opted to MOVE THE PARTY. Their terms and conditions were much too restrictive, and the party would have either been a total disaster, or it would have been halted early by the babysitters they were going to send.
NEW LOCATION: Same place we had the three-year party. The Strand Cafe, 105 E Lombard street in downtown Baltimore City.
Hhat does this do to our hotel arrangements??? I guess Dave will now be forced to relax his "if you don't show up" policy of blacklisting for life. I mean, this is really a major screwup. On the other hand, I guess we can either drive home, or drive back up to Timonium to our $110 Holiday Inn room after the party. But there's no pint in that so I suggest we cancel our room...
Dear GabrielHow nice to receive our first E Mail letter from you. Thank you so much for the picture of my Mother. It came in loud and clear. We have enjoyed having Sue and we thank you for sharing her with us. I haven't asked her how she feels about it, for we have kept her pretty busy. Thanks again and have a good time this week end. Love, Wilma.
And how nice that you stepped right up and wrote me back. Iby the waybeat Suzy Q to the Internet by a couple of years, so it's only fitting I be there for the DQ Hedricks as well. This honor is all mine.
You know Wilma, I can't help but return over and over again to the familiar thought that Sue SIMPLY LOVES to spend as MUCH time in Albany as she can possibly squeeze together. It's all about her sharing vital and common moments with you and Dermot, because she loves you both so very much, and I am so grateful that this bond only grows stronger between you as each to each our own we marshal with a seeking mind and a comforted heart these energies of love and devotion which have been bestowed to us as family and familiars. Please note this latter word is familiars not family liars, chuckle chuckle...
It's a lovely day, isn't it? Extremely hot but lovely from within. My native dependency on air-conditioning has not failed me this year. I'm enjoying an especially crisp afternoon down here in the basement studio, just the way I like it.
In other breaking news, I chatted up the new owner of the adjoining rowhouse we wanted to buy. This fellow's organization also bought two others on the same block, and want to upscale rent. Wow! I said. We talked fast faster for an hour and a half.
Wilma, if you would have Sue call me later today (I tried her cell phone but couldn't reach her), I'd be charmed. I've got some financial paperwork she needs to officially corroborate. Thanks.
Believe tonight I'm going to cook myself some crabmeat and black beans, perhaps worked with cornchips and finish off the meal with watermelon. I've lost five pounds this week alone, down to 274, the lowest since those post-surgery weeks last summer. Total 11 lost in 2 weeks! Yippee! I really would like to get down to 210-220, but it may take a worldwind tour or a catastrophe to get us to change our intake and exercise habits. I think I'd rather take the tour. Code for hard work and dedication.
The exterminator finally did call. He was in the shower he said when I had called (what? the second time? late riser?) and apparently had not checked his messages. Yikes!
You know, I've barely made the effort to thank you for my white shirts, but I wear them all year round, love them dearly, am wearing one today, and so thanks a bundle, I really mean it, Sue knows this, and I trust you know me this much...
Now that you have learned a few basics of online life, perhaps the annual Wilma & Dermot postcards will move there. I haven't forgotten. I've just been so busy on some many different fronts this spring and now deep into summer, well, seems they were late last year as well. The garden is indeed beautiful this year, and I simply love my front yard now. That's where the new owner of "111" found me.
Well, gotta scoot. You all have a sweet visit. If only I could invent a way to be in a thousand places at the same time, then I might feel like I'm finally accomplishing something, oh well, sweet Jesus is calling. . .
Hey Tom, I snagged your E-mail address from Landry who'd sent me the message below. My address is 109 Eighteenth Street. I look forward to a sample copy of your zine. If you are indeed looking for contributors I no doubt will consider it, but just to keep us both honest and smog-free I'll reserve that decision until I know more about the work.
Meanwhile good luck, and thanks in advance for the sample. I'll let you know when it gets here. Feel free to put me on any E-mail list you may operate, although I must admit I've cut way back on my idle chat as I continue work on my website in an attempt to bring forth a new rag for dirty boots on shiny floors in the Grand Old Flatiron Building.
What are your plans for a web presence, if any? Those ulterior motives I mentioned? I'd like to collaborate with you, or at least curry permission to publish some if not all of RABBLE REVIEW on the web. As I mentioned above I am carving up my own web interests into two different domains, the iMotedotcom site where I'll advertise my web design solutions in hopes to ease my wife's heavy financial load after she has supported me in my folly for some time now, and a brand new subsidiary The Scenewash Project. This is where art and politics merge to suggest what little vitality I have left is emphatically informed by the past, and yet is still scratching and aiming for the contaminated future as we prepare for the great and terrible day of economic and environmental collapse all manner of folk have predicted with x's and o's, and have yearned to bring forth with great bowel movements to and fro...
Are you familiar with the Situationists? An acquaintance of mine, Len Bracken has just written a book, published by Feral House, on Guy Debord, one of the primary movers and shakers of that huffin puffin revolutionary crew which gained mild support and slightly greater notoriety in the 1950s and Sixties with their admonishments of NO WORK, ALL PLAY, culminating in the May '68 Paris Revolt. I won't pretend to sum up the Situationist International (SI) for you if'n you're unfamiliar with them, although after one issue of the RR, I CAN say that you should certainly sniff out the trail which leads to Debord, Vanegeim, et alright up your alley, I'd surmise.
Peace, opposing thumbs, and a beggarman's blisters...
Hey Gabriel, I'm glad you got the package, ahem, brassiere intact. I was a bit concerned which prompted the double-envelope. Yes, I am ready to walk the line, make the call, or whatever other analogy we could think up to read the Dollhouse Fevers and the Six Day War I've heard so much about. So send it on. I'm not regularly on my email here at home as I spend way too much time on the computer at work and I don't like the idea of my personal email being the property of a corporate thug. So it may take me some time to answer and read emails.
I had a bit of an indulgence this weekend which I must say I still suffer the malaise from. I'm not supposed to drink because of my illness, however, Friday I went out to play a few games of pool, which turned into four drinks, which later graced the platforms of two noble subway stations on my way home. Pink the color of choice. Cape Cods will do it every time. I renew my yearly vow of never again.
Please give me Tim's address and /or phone number when it becomes available and encourage him to drop me a line. I better run. The computer screen is making me queasy (two days later). Love to Sue. Take care, Kari
Sure Kari, here they fly girl! It's been about a month now since I completed the last one (day 3), busy as I've been on my web site. I don't expect the next installment will get written within the next week, but chances are I may very well do so just to spite myself.
Sue's down in Georgia visiting the folks. Things are really quiet at night, and I'm just today beginning to truly miss her, so that's a five day pseudo bachelor brawl I'm talking about. Yeah right...five days of routine without baby does not a wild weekend make. Swatted a few at the batting cage last Saturday night with Steve, guzzled more than a few beers before and afterwards, but woke Sunday feeling decent enough to stay sober that day, so I've only had one slip since Sue tore out of here last Friday, but that's about par. Relaxing in the Sunday sun the day before packs of plucky April fools hit the bars around this painful city is a rare but welcomed challenge to this fully opinionated workaholic.
Originally published on September 8, 1996. I elected to publish Tom's entire note to me since it was one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking emails I ever received from him, and will follow with my response in a separate file with link below.
Thanks for that insight note on joint projects. I have softened my stance after reading one of your first drafts of Autonomous Gazer and listening, rather than continuing to think of what I was going to say next, to your admiration for Thomas Pynchon and the concept of the modern Mega-novel. But I still haven't read his Gravity's Rainbow but seek refuge in genre writing. That's my gang, Lenny understands genre assignments and slips easily into the yoke, and most important to us, the audience understands the genre, has certain expectations from it, and we writers deliver the goods.
But there you are, no gang, no School, not even a salon. One thing about your work that I do relate to is the desire to put it all on the web, I had a very productive day putting all kinds of esoteric info that I thought was important up on the web, that is until Tracy (Styx) came by, restless and bored, to call me away from the computer and out into the cool night air, steps the Great Pretender.
Yes, that's true, newspaper journalism is definitely one of the genres and you have plyed the trade. But I never considered e-mail anything other than a fast sloppy, disposable medium, always short, full of typos and mispellingsmeant to be quickly read (cyber-surfers gets hundreds of them) and instantly deletedbut wait, what's this? GT is sending long, thoughtful E-MAILS??? And then saving them, along with their responses? And the e-mail style that's arisen, why is almost everything a flame? The insular anonymity of e-mail makes everyone so insulting, quick, shallow responses, knee-jerk flames, is this any kinda medium to make your mark?
"The world will little note nor long remember what we say here..." Abraham Lincoln said that.
"They'll talk about me plenty when I'm gone." GT said that, with a deferenial nod to his Bobness. So far they're mostly talking about your outrageous behavior in public. Your strange and cryptic comments while under the influence of beer swill and private demons. But I know you better, I know something (very little actually) of your writing and desktop publishing and poetry and private library and such flotsam and jetsom of pornography & punk that have washed up on GSIS's shores and mingled with the sublime truths of long dead philosophers, I see you walking along the littered shore line of the twentieth century, looking for treasures in the trash. This is a tired and cynical age you live in, it will be tough to break through to anyone, anywherethere's a lot of noise in the channel.
Thanks for the note. I think this Internet thing will be an eternal debate or at least until the system crashes...Kara Swisher
Date: Thursday, June 13, 1996 4:40PM
Just had to weigh in on the negative, Rich. That WAPO article of yours got recycled with the rest of the throwaway Sunday leftovers, but I DID scissor and file that Swisher & Schwartz rebuttal as it turns out, so I guess we know into which campfire I stick my baliwick, yet it is also true that when I am in a fresh social situation I usually get around to asking a few talking heads if they relish or whatthe Internet, E-mail, and the whole ball of waxand should they not reply rather sheepishly in the negative while stumbling toward a few words about needing to step up to the plate soon.
I immediately jump in to announce its insignificance for any number of people for any number of reasons, but that's because I think it's a genuine good thing and here to stay unless the whole system crashes in Armageddon or some sour apple like that. It may or may not always be a big money thing, but then doesn't everything eventually lead to that? Take healthcare for instance. Or rock-n-roll.
What's e-mail? As you see, Slurfish, I am again interested in the hidden intentions of man. What's really going on? About e-mail (like communication itself) someone wrote it'll be a mirroring of oneself on others to form out [one's] own individuality. A basic human urge. Made acceptable and harmless by this kind of Freudian explanation.
But then we know about the illusions in it, especially the imagination of knowing the world. We are so much involved with surrogates, that we welcome even the most artificial, tricking ourselves with enthusiasm. Our true agency nearly always slips out of our reach. So e-mail as well seems to be a vicious circle, like all of those hobbies, specialisations and fanaticisms making the people feel like beeing worth something and giving life a sense.
That is the down-side. E-mail is artificial, highly mediated, masky and a tower of solitariness. But then, what is not? Language itself, to me, suffers this kind of course. No, what I really think is that it is unnatural to live in a dull society having nobody you can exchange with intellectually, and trying to give a smile on newest Hollywood-gag not honestly longing for it. Free media makes people more individual. New media brought strife in a sad manner, what concerns Disney and Hollywood dreams. But what degrades people by showing them money and lifestyle they will never reach is similar to shocking people with porno or dividing them by culture between intellectuals and simple minds.
I cannot value this. Me, myself, I go all right with very different people. Nowadays I don't feel lost in an agency of advertisment and I like simple people too. But I nearly gave up my search for someone having read some books. It's funny. I know many artists, very fine musicians and even some philosophers but people involved with literature seem to be out of my reach. Till now.
Well Ben, there is nothing innately flawed in your preceptions concerning the modern mind of man nor is your take on his creative posturesdesigned to keep himself "occupied" in the most broad sense of the word until he no longer is able to agitate for something to do#151;corruptable by anything I might add or detract. High artistry and the lowest common denominator syndrome has factored into our modern age the impossibility of avoiding conflict within the psychological domains of the man on the street who like Eliot wonders whether he should simply eat a peach to maintain his dignity in the Kierkegaardian sense, or rather roll up his pants and go for the gusto in some foul hedonistic construct some will applaud while others will mock.
While it is true that nutrients and liquids are a priori mainstays, sex is not, nor is communication, yet neither are easily stymied in a cultural setting. In this sense culture is equated with that education the individual is supplied by his senses as he awakens to them from birth.
After breathing the air he cannot see, the singularly most natural thing for the homo sapien to engage himself, all else falls into the category of the artificially induced and orchestrated by weakly understood urges and socialization processes (at the personal level, regardless of intellect). Food and drink. Sex and procreation. Thus by extension, of course the impulse to communicate whatever the individual and the collective culture deems plain or unique could be said to be artificially induced by activity perhaps natural in the broadest sense, but unnatural in the keenest, where man in truth has no purpose other than to explore the concepts life itself identifies as supernatural.
Now it is always true that the act of observing others brings with it the competing notions of equality and the superiority/inferiority pathos. I would agree that the media, in particular the latter 20th century media has brought many woes upon the world with its fluid imagery and caustic irresponsibility. Envy is the bastard child of the visual arts. We all want what we have seen others seemingly no more capable or deserving than us achieve. While conservative thought stereotypically touts suppression of urges for things presently unattainable, the liberal mind rejoices in showing it like it really is or "should" become, that is to say, the apotheosis of urges. Fact is, neither do either very well, and so chaos insues.
Ah, Ben, I see we now approach the fetching frontier that the religious mind (even distilled by Kant) has struggled against for milleniums in the heats of a breathless deity, while the scientific mind seeks to stake its own claim demanding whole dominion of these gallant human strides in its own name.
Correspondence thru E-mail is without a doubt the greatest boon to the cause of personal communication and letterwriting since the Age of Romanticism, extinct a century now, with its zenith probably two hundred years ago. The telephone and the democratic notion of education for all has brought the art of communication down several notches while spreading its joy to more populations within and across cultures. While it is true that across the electronic medium the garbage in, garbage out formula is highlighted in spades, any brief perusal thru the mundane strings of code which pass for "communication" in these myopic times proves thatalong with the urges moving biological sustinance (hunger, thirst, sex) to an obedience to natural lawthe forces which compel a person to communicate himself to others at some basic level also fall into that secondary category behind simply breathing. While it is true that nutrients and liquids are a priori mainstays, sex is not, nor is communication, yet neither are easily stymied in a cultural setting. In this sense culture is equated with that education the individual is supplied by his senses as he awakens to them from birth.
Each of your statements made in this discussion I deem to be true, as well as my own. So what is it I am ultimately trying to transmit? Perhaps nothing more than to agreewith what that legendary wit who, as the story goes, once threatened to slice an infant into two halves to determine its true mother who was engaged in a custody battle with an imposter to assert her maternal privilegesthat all is folly, and that there is nothing new under the sun. Even the code strings that allow our technology and hence this communication to be transmitted from me to you in mere seconds are nothing but man's mimickry of the genetic and molecular codes already billions of years in laughable reruns.
Who possesses these syndication rights? Ah, Ben, I see we now approach the fetching frontier that the religious mind (even distilled by Kant) has struggled against for milleniums in the heats of a breathless deity, while the scientific mind seeks to stake its own claim demanding whole dominion of these gallant human strides in its own name.
Simply put, ALL of life's petty attempts at serious as opposed to artificial importance is seen through a smudged unfocusable lens. ALL is artificially stimulated by the powers of the hour. ALL is fake except through the grace of a well-scrimmaged acceptance and propped up rationale. Damn, I had no idea where I was headed in this diatribe, but I am sounding remarkably like some street corner Protestant preacher locking horns with the other side of his brain, that of the cynical fart artiste fingering his own anus simply because it feels so good and he can get no one else he'd ever allow to poke it for him, since of course, he's an "original", unique in his artistry, hallowed in all his ways.
Well, that's about it for now Ben. Got some HTML to fathom. Til we cross the great divide once again, I'll leave you with this little ditty of a riddle with the promise that I will forward to you a list of responses, including my own a bit later: Why DID the chicken cross the road?
P.S. And Ben, do not "automatically reply" to this note but instead send anything back to my NEW address at:
I am still phasing out my Clarknet account but I wanted to include your most recent comments in this note and nearly freaked when I couldn't find them in my current mail bin. It turned out they were over here on my wife's computer posted a few hours after I established my new account, transferring my old to hers, and so in a sense your words fell between the cracks. Finding them safe and sassy kept me a happy camper for although I had a hardcopy I was reluctant to retype your whole note. Anyway, cheers...and another poetic shimmer:
"If there's an original thought out there, I could use it just about now..." Bob Dylan
"Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused,
His brain's been mismanaged with great skill. All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies..." Bob Dylan
"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""