Current events links
Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.
- Good, evil and whatnot.
I've been hearing the author of, The life of Pie talking about his book a lot recently. It's won a lot of critical acclaim. The story sounds interesting, but each time I've heard him speak he repeats the phrase that seems to have inspired his story about a man discovering religion - or what have you.
"Secularism gives you no way to deal with evil."
If you repeat this phrase enough times, it might begin to make sense to you. But hearing it for the first time I have to say that it sounds ludicrous to me. Even if he happens to mean that secularism gives you no way to fathom evil.
I think it's an irresponsible thing to say, because, in a way (a defensive way...), it saying that people like me, who are atheists, don't really understand the concept of evil because we have no reference point from which to comprehend it - no greater construct to explain it to us...
I don't think that belief in a supernatural being or consciousness of some kind gives anyone special insight into the nature of evil. Religious writings may give us a metaphorical understanding of why humanity possesses the ability to cannibalize itself in the most extraordinary ways imaginable (and these writings are important for the insights and comfort they give to people), but they are not explanations. For some, they can be a means by which to come to terms with the ravages that brutal/unthinkable acts leave in their wake.
I have a friend who thinks that multiculturalism has gone too far. She thinks that the fact that they won't allow Santa Claus to visit her child's nursery school is a bit much. "Teach them about all of the religions for Christ sake - let them sing the dradle song - and let Santa Claus visit the damn school." It's a complicated business, negotiating beliefs and the lack thereof (she calls me her "dear heathen friend"... she also calls me Donna Reed on acid...).
Anyway, part of me says that I should read this book to find out what all of the hubbub is about... And part of me says I've got a lot to do, so I'll listen to a couple of interviews and make my mind up about it reflexively... and move on until I hear someone else say something that bugs me. Seeing as were in the thick of the holiday season, that should be any minute now...
In the meantime, I wish y'all peaceful celebrations and whatnot - no matter what, who or whichever you're choosing to romp about - may it fill you and yours with a sense of bone deep satisfaction.
And now... a word from our friends over at the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake: click here
I found myself wandering about my brother's house at 4AM. I shuffled by the hampster's habitat and peered in. Clive looked up at me as if to say, "Hey, shouldn't you be in bed?"
He seemed friendly enough so I struck up a conversation with him (Clive being nocturnal and all, he and I hadn't chatted much).
"What's up Clive?"
"My loft is a mess, there's a bunch of flooring in my kibble bowl and a couple of my humans are missing."
"They're not missing, they just went on vacation for a few days.You want me to clean up your habitat?"
"Oh sure, and then what? I'll spend the next two hours over there running in my wheel? No thanks, I'll do it. And you can drop the PCism - it's a cage. See the bars? When's the last time you saw a 'habitat' with bars?"
I guessed I'd met a hamster who hadn't fully accepted his situation. "Suit yourself." I said. "Mind if I watch?"
"If I say no, are you gonna go away?"
"Don't waste my time with stupid questions then."
I shrugged, feeling that superficial social constraints were not necessary with Clive. "How's life in a cage?"
"Yeah? You've got kibble, a swank loft, and a bitchin' wheel - it glows in the dark, man."
"It's not the accommodations, it's the grasping hands that are a problem. And recently one of the little humans has developed a fascination with my genitalia. I can't crawl two feet outside of this cage without her trying to rub them. What's up with that?"
"Unfortunately for you, she's going through a stage of human development. Would you rather be crawling around a field and have a hawk develop a fascination with your genitalia?"
Clive looked up from where he'd been sorting through his kibble bowl. "Is that a threat?"
"No, I was just curious."
"Some days I run around here, trying to get away from the grasping little humans and sometimes I think of a hawk grabbing my sorry ass out of a field, sinking it's talons through my guts, pecking me in the head and flying off with me half dead until it gets me to a perch where it rips my innards out and eats them. It's a toss up."
"Do you want to have a family?" I asked.
"Do I look like I want a family?"
"I'm afraid I don't know many hampsters, I wouldn't know what a family oriented hampster looked like."
"I don't look like one." He grumbled, tossing a bit of whatnot off to the side.
"Okay. Are you gay?"
"What? I don't want a wife and kids screaming at me all night so you think I'm queer? Are you a homophobe or something? Must be to go jumping to conclusions like that."
"No, at least I don't think so. I suppose I could have some internalised homophobia - it's possible. We live in a largely homophobic culture... well, world really. But in general, I think you could say that I'm not homophobic."
"No - just autistic, because you don't make sense to anyone but yourself."
"Ume understands me." I told him.
"She's my partner."
"Aw jeeze, you're a dyke?"
"At least you're not going to try rubbing my genetalia... are ya?"
"You never know, I just might." I grinned my wicked grin at him.
"That's sick, quit it."
I gave it up, figuring he had enough problems. "Your genetalia are safe from me Clive."
"Thanks, I can only take so much." He went back to sorting his kibble.
"You know Clive, I had a teacher that said that freedom is as much about your approach to life as your circumstances."
He nibbled a bit of kibble before asking, "Did this teacher live in a cage?"
"Quote someone who lived in a cage and I'll start listening."
"You take a narrow view Clive."
"Must come from having to look between these bars all of the time."
"Have you ever been happy?"
"Yeah. Mostly back before the cat disappeared."
The cat hadn't disappeared, it'd been hit by a car - I didn't feel the need to relate this information. "You and the cat were friends?"
"You're kidding right?" he asked.
"When the cat was around, they left me alone more. Sometimes they forgot about me completely when the cat showed up - even if I was out of the cage."
"So you enjoyed a taste of freedom?"
"No, I enjoyed being left alone. Only problem was, I couldn't get back to my cage without them lifting me up into it, so I'd get lost wandering around. I got stuck behind the dishwasher once. That sucked pretty bad."
"You know how long it took me to scramble my way out of that crack back there?"
"I'm sure I couldn't say."
"Hours. I was spiting up lint for a week. I came this close," he held his paws very close together to indicate a small distance. "This close to having to chew a foot off."
"You're articulate. You an educated human?"
"In some ways."
"How about in the way where they train your brain not to be stupid - you educated that way?"
"Oh sure, my brain was trained."
"You could have fooled me."
"Give me a break, it's 4AM."
"Funny, when I tell the small humans to give me a break at 4PM they never listen."
"You carry a lot of hostility Clive."
"What's your name?"
"Well, that explains something anyway. Brulee, I live in a cage, it's 12" X 15". I have a wheel to run nowhere on, some kibble that tastes marginally better than the lint behind the dishwasher and a loft that makes me easy pickins for small human hands. In short, my life sucks. And the kicker is, if I lived free and unfettered it probably wouldn't be a whole lot better. Given this set of circumstances I don't see how it is that I'm supposed to radiate joyous glee. So screw off."
I could see that, once again, I'd tread into a sensitive area. I decided to change the topic. "You've made a nice construction there in the corner, under your loft."
"Yeah, I build it up in the mornings. Gives me a good place to sleep during the day."
"It looks comfy."
He gave me a look. I expected him to launch into me, but he just shook his head and went back to his kibble.
I sighed. "What's the point of it all Clive?"
"What the hell do I know? I'm a goddamned hampster you moron, go back to bed."
"I'm sorry your life isn't quite the way you'd like it Clive. If it's any consolation, few of ours are either."
"Whatever." He shrugged and then trundled over to his wheel and climbed in.
I'd had enough of Clive's embittered charms - and left him to his excercises. As I climbed up into my nephew's top bunkbed (I'd been invited by the little human in question to share his sleeping quarters...) I watched the kid sleeping like a pig and hoped whatever habitat he ends up in is more of his making and less someone else's.
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