Creative Commons License

Saturday 23 June 2018

Quotes Worth Saving (23): William Lindsay Gresham 'Nightmare Alley'

William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley is a novel about the rise and fall of con-artist who uses his carnival freak-show learned preformative misinformation to exploit others, although as cynical noir-tinged story written by an alcoholic depressive you would be correct in assuming that there is more going on and that this is not going to be the hero's journey narrative. Each chapter of the novel is represented by and alludes to a specific Tarot card. The book was first published in 1946 and was quickly picked up by 20th Century Fox. The film starring Tyrone Power came out the following year (1947) and although now regarded as a classic film noir, it was considered 'shocking' at the time due to its salacious content and due to this reaction was not a financial success.

Anyway, here is a speech/rant given by Stanton Carlisle to his psychoanalyst/co-conspirator:

Apropos of late stage Capitalism...

And a certain 'Leader of the Free World'

I'm a hustler, God damn it. Do you understand that, you frozen-faced bitch? I'm on the make. Nothing matters in this goddamned lunatic asylum of a world but dough. When you get that you're the boss. If you don't have it you're the end man on the daisy chain. I'm going to get it if I have to bust every bone in my head doing it. I'm going to milk it out of those chumps and take them for the gold in their teeth before I'm through. You don't dare yell copper on me because if you spilled anything about me all your other Johns would get the wind up their necks and you wouldn't have any more at twenty-five bucks a crack. You've got enough stuff in that bastard tin file cabinet to blow 'em all up. I know what you've got in there - society dames with the clap, bankers that take it up the ass, actresses that live on hop, people with idiot kids. You've got it all down. If I had that stuff I'd give 'em cold readings that would have 'em crawling on their knees to me. And you sit there out of this world with that dead-pan face and listen to the chumps puking their guts out day after day for peanuts. If I knew that much I'd stop when I'd made a million bucks and not a minute sooner. You're a chump too, blondie. They're all Johns. They're asking for it. Well, I'm here to give it out. And if anybody was to get the big mouth and sing to the cops about me I'd tell a couple of guys I know. They wouldn't fall for your jujit stuff.

William Lindsay Gresham
Nightmare Alley
New York Review Books, NY, 2010
ISBN 9781590173480

Sunday 17 June 2018

Secular Sunday: Father's Day 2018

longer now without a dad
than i ever spent with one

M. C. Escher, 'Eye', 1946

I forgive my father and possibly, more importantly, I forgive myself for my own emotions on the matter of his death and his own failings as a parent (& my failings as a son).

Even if/when we accept that the parent is a fallible human 'just like us', something that is part of becoming an adult, as we do with the surrounding grown-up environs that we now inhabit, even if, we still have a greater idea to conquer/over-write/subsume/erase and that is the parent as a divine creator. The parent as literal god figure.

This might seem foolish to you, you might think that this description of a belief towards one's parents hardly fits for you or your relationship, but I would beg you to reconsider, because it is already built into how most of the world sees itself and how it prioritises the family. Each and every human society believes that their distinct experience of family is unique and hold more universal truth than any other cultures, and at the crux of this belief is typically the idolisation of the parent.

That our existence might not have been part of god's plan, that we might not have really been expected or truly wanted or were anything other than social pressure upon the incurious minds that birthed us, is not something we likely consider, but we should.

In either becoming or considering being a parent ourselves we should remember that our step into the unknown is what all other parents, including our own, have done before us. In accepting our weakness as one whose decision is guided more by hope than by anything certain, we should also welcome this chaotic mystery that life brings.

The desire to make the god's plan personal is the desire to narrativise our own existence as something ordained and with significance, whether this is by the idolisation of the parent or through actual religious fervour, both are a creation, a sham. Are we ready for what the rejection of this perspective might bring?

It involves our compassionate acceptance not only of our parents as flawed, but of our self, of our own choices as not being either truly individual or truly given. We are the paradox of consciousness and the result is not to deny this, or to seek a transfer to some other authority, but it is our responsibility to care.

I miss you dad. I love you. Happy father's day.

FMM 1944-1996

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Quotes worth saving (22): Daniel Keyes 'Flowers for Algernon'

This is a beautiful melancholy novel, which only just about counts as a genre novel, a science fiction.

by Daniel Keyes
SF Masterworks
2002 this edition
1966 original publication

Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love. This is something else I've discovered for myself very recently. I present it to you as a hypothesis: Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis. And I say that the mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain. (p.173)

Daniel Keyes (1927-2014)

This was the way we loved, until the night became a silent day. And as I lay there with her I could see how important physical love was, how necessary it was for us to be in each other's arms, giving and taking. The universe was exploding, each particle away from the next, hurtling us into dark and lonely space, eternally tearing us away from each other - child out of the womb, friend away from friend, moving from each other, each through his own pathway toward the goal-box of solitary death.
But this was the counterweight, the act of binding and holding. As when men to keep from being swept overboard in the storm clutch at each other's hands to resist being torn apart, so our bodies fused a link in the human chain that kept us from being swept into nothing. (p.205)

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Love is the Law (5): Infinite Rewards

Yesterday, I spoke about the inherent withering of any structure, system, or substance.

The thing is, it's not true of everything.

Love requires constant rejuvenation to exist.

In Loving I am constantly seeing again, reconfiguring, aligning myself with another.

My Love for/with JJ continues. It is not static. As that beautiful immortal Ursula Le Guin wrote:

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.

When I see her now, I do not see our relationship of the past, I do not look with nostalgia, I see anew.

Each day refreshes, each exchange deepens our connection.

Yes, these human relationships can falter, can weaken, can fall into entropy.

It requires work on our part; to take responsibility, to show weakness, to open one's self.

But, the effort isn't harder, the rewards aren't lessened.

Love is not the atrophying of some past peak, now slowly spiralling down.

It springs eternal.

Love is the forever we were promised.

'Time defeated by Hope and Beauty' by Simon Vouet (1627)

Monday 11 June 2018

Melancholy Mondays: Diminishing Returns

Can't help but feel that physically I've passed the point of no return. That I'm never going to suddenly develop into a startling muscular figure, or become the long-distance runner that I never properly trained for. I can still maintain a certain standard of physical fitness and try to keep the beer belly bulge at bay, but it's only going to get harder and take more work. Exercise that will take longer to recover from, with a body that is less flexible and resistant than it was before.

Mentally, they say that your intellectual peak can come much later, post-forty certainly, but it's also true that certain things have got harder. That my memory, previously almost faultless, is now rather defective and the possibility that I might completely forget something is more of a regular occurrence than I'd ever considered. It's frightening and more than a little embarrassing to find yourself with no memory. "I have no recollection," after all, is the statement of liar. Certainly as used by politicians, celebrities, and other criminals.

All life works towards a downward spiral. Eventually, the effort put in is not met by the active response. More has to be expended to reach what was easier to accomplish before. All things weaken, age, diminish, and finally perish. There is no eternal reoccurrence, no perpetual motion. Some things just take longer to die.

We might consider large-scale collaborative endeavours, such as Science, as somehow excluded from this basic law of entropy, but consider Civilisations. Why do they 'fail', perhaps entropy is absolute. The scientific method itself seems to accept a potential replacement with a 'better' system.

The epigenetic clock is ticking...

'The Seer' Giorgio de Chirico