Thursday, April 28, 2011

A beautiful spring day in Paris.

A beautiful spring day in Paris.
So much beauty. Beauty built once and maintained attracts the world. Through beauty, conquer.

This is quite novel, to jot down my thoughts on the phone. It can take some getting used to but I kind of like it for short pieces. I am finding that my desire to write is directly proportional to my desire to improve and better my life. There is a connection between words and reality making.

This is quite novel, to jot down my thoughts on the phone. It can take some getting used to but I kind of like it for short pieces. I am finding that my desire to write is directly proportional to my desire to improve and better my life. There is a connection between words and reality making.

The power of words. It all comes down to how we arrange these symbols in ways that speak to people, make them respond, change their thinking. And so many people do not write. They are left out and go about their lives in quiet disdain.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Intelligence = War

I am dazzled by intelligence and talent, though the end point of what many of them work towards is not always good.  The best and the brightest led us into Vietnam and Germany had all the philosophers and scientists, and they perverted morality for their own ends, power.  Israel, too.  

The US, the beacon of freedom it is now, rests on a foundation of genocide and systematic discrimination, yet somehow is immune to criticism given the concessions it has made over the years, excellent PR and also benefited from perpetuating these crimes in an era when the UN did not exist and media and solidarity with foreign causes was not fashionable.  They could never get away with something similar today.

This is the inherent distrust China, and other countries have with the West.  They put in place rules, after breaking them, and then hold others to a different standard, forgetting history and preaching justice.  Who is the biggest polluter, the biggest war maker and the most unjust and cruel to its own people in recent memory? The West.  And now they come along and tell others to behave? 

But it's neither so simplistic, as the West has also evolved, changed and made all efforts to learn from its mistakes and work to make a better society, from the ashes of injustice and war.  And by many accounts the transformation is historic, and unprecedented and innovative.  It' hard to deny the rights afforded to many minority groups and the progress made on many fronts.  It's hard to remain unmoved and cynical in the face of such great change. 

There is a contradiction, a paradox and a tension that pulls us in many directions about what is true and good about Western Civilization.  I think this debate, this constant reflection is a strong suit, and one that will ultimately bring us to a better place.

Where I am going

Haiti is a sinking ship.  Broken in irreparable ways. It broke me too.  I am usually content to be in forsaken places, working with forgotten people, doing my part.  I am always sustained by the belief, after rigorous analysis, that my work does no harm, that it may not save the world, but the little I do means that much more in such circumstances.  On tough days, I am not so sure, but I am still very proud of being in this field, and doing something that is bigger than myself.   

I have naively espoused the very American belief that through intelligence and hard work alone, one can solve any problem.  A tempting indulgence and one that leads a naturally energetic people into perpetual activity.  Sometimes the best thing to do is wait.  To observe and reflect and to act at the right moment rather than ceaselessly persisting obsessively with a problem.   

Disheartening to meet so many careerists in this field who make this a profession, who don't do it with a spirit of adventure and curiosity.  Wherever they go, they get drunk and hang amongst themselves.  They watch their laptops, call home.  Spend their money in big cities on holiday, basking in the glow of the prestige of being different.  This can be a dirty, dirty field. 

I don't understand them. 

I was a traveler, and I happened upon this work.  It is interesting for now, but then I will move on.  I do it on my terms.  And that is important to maintain.  This is more than just a job.  Most of us are in this field not for the money, and we are smart enough to be doctors, lawyers and corporate businessmen, with the house and the cars and the football on Sunday.  But we decided to leave it behind, to chart a new path for ourselves and the lives of others.   

Monday, April 04, 2011

On pornography (even better than the real thing)

Used to be a time that a young man would come home alone drunk to himself and his loneliness, after a night on the prowl.  Rejection was painful.  Now, rejection is coupled with intense pleasure.  With a push of some buttons, the body awakens, though the conscious mind knows that it's not real, we engage almost in an involuntary trance. 

Modernity can make you feel so numb, at times.  And when something offers to move and make you virile, how can one resist?

The glow of the screen, the beep of a text message, the constant connectivity prey on our biology; our weakness for excitement and engagement. 

The high minded and civilized scoff at pornography in all forms.  The involuntary, the play to base instincts, horrify a person of class and dignity because elements of instinct and nature, need to be mixed with restraint and subtlety for them to have value.  It can't be enough that it feels good - that is not justification enough for action.  For if we only did what was initially pleasurable, all fecund pleasures would vanish.  Reading, music, architecture, combine  elements of passion and work.  No, animals do what they feel like, though civilized people enjoy things that are a result of work, sacrifice and craftmanship.    

And there is something about taking the easy way out that does not sit well with this civilized crowd.  There must be an element of impracticality - a risk, an indulgence, that separates and differentiates those with values and those without.  Thus, the liberal arts, the theater, the opera, high fashion, it's not just that they are expensive, it's just because their value is uncertain, and they constantly evoke a debate between what it's worth, to which many of this class assert:  That if you have to ask, then you don't know what it is worth and never will.  

From my side, as a philosophy student, and a purveyor of high culture and travel, I'll say that many things, especially beautiful ones, do much to expand the limited realm of mortality we find ourselves in.  No one but people from this class, more than any other, is as conscious of their own and the world's demise.  This adds an a special element of urgency, hedonism, and carpe diem, if you like, to the proceedings.  And constantly the line is drawn and smudged between self absorbed egotism, or truly rapturous transcendence - brilliance.  Modern Art is an Apt metaphor.  So much of it is BS, but then Jackson Pollack and Basquiat and Warhol shine though it to make us live and think in new ways.  Not always convincing and THAT tension, is what drives us forward.