My Dream Internet

My dream internet is a browser that only browses sites without ads. This is different than an ad-blocker, which still allows me to view commercial sites. I want something that creates a barrier between sites that rely on ads and those that don’t. And then only allows me to see those that don’t depend on advertising.

In this world I’d still be able to see Wikipedia, but I wouldn’t see the New York Times. I’d see many personal blogs (though not all), but I wouldn’t be able to use Google.

If not a browser, then a search engine that only returned non-commercial sites would be a dream-come-true.

A corollary to this: If I ran the zoo then to be categorized as a “news” site you wouldn’t be able to accept any advertising.

Fairy Update

The fairy research continues. I’ve taken a fascinating detour through anthropological debates about animism and am starting research on neo-paganism.

In an interview about The Heroine’s Journey Gail Carriger says that work started as a presentation that grew and grew, and then she edited the presentation into a book. I’ve been thinking about doing the same with the “Brief History of Fairies.” I’m much more conscious of keeping people’s attention while giving a presentation than I am when writing an essay.

For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

from W. B. Yeats “The Stolen Child”

Happy New Year!

I love beginnings. Such hope, such promise. I love New Year’s Day, new moons, and Mondays. I am by nature much more enthusiastic about beginnings than endings. Why go through the hard middle slog and wrestle with an ending when you can simply start something new again? Yay, beginnings!

My resolution this year is to drink tea in the afternoon. Yes, I’m resolving to having a daily tea time. Only time will tell if this involves cucumber tea sandwiches. I’m pretty sure at some point cookies will be involved.

My secret resolution is prolificity. That may mean more blogging (I’m still nostalgic for those peak blogging years between 2000 and 2010), but I’ve learned that blogging can diminish my energy for creative work. There are only so many writing minutes in a day. Perhap short posts posted frequently is the path to more regular blogging?

So, on that note, Happy New Year! I hope your 2022 is better than your 2021.

Arbitrary Stupid Goal

This summer, prompted by a recommendation from Austin Kleon, I read Arbritrary Stupid Goal by Tamara Shopsin.

The book opens with a story her father used to tell about the Wolfawitzes. Once, the Wolfawitzes had a European vacation planned, which fell through, so they arbitrarily decided to visit all the places with ‘wolf’ somehow connected to their place name. Wolfpoint, Wolfville, Wolf Lake, etc. Turned out to be the best vacation ever.

The moral, her father concluded, was that an arbitrary stupid goal was as good as any other kind of goal.

This concept captures perfectly an element of my own life philosophy that I never had the language for.

Thanks for the phrase/language Shopsins!

Grimes’ Fae Future

Until last night I’d never knowingly listened to a song by Grimes. Last night I listened to Grimes because she is now on my fairy radar.

I was reading The Manifesto Handbook by Julian Hanna (a terrific book, btw), when I experienced a delightful moment of serendipity.

Hanna mentioned in passing Grimes’ Instagram manifesto from 2017.

“The fae are the children living at the end of the world, who make art that reflects what it’s like to live knowing the earth may not sustain humanity much longer.

“We live knowing that environmentally driven genocide is nigh, that the least equipped are to be struck down by the very earth itself. Repentance by the innocent for the sins of the rich. This does not mean that all fae art is directly about this, but that the influence of this reality is inescapable for the fae.”

Grimes writes that this is only the first part of the manifesto, but a cursory search does not reveal the rest. I know Grimes only from her connection to Elon Musk.

This is a neat find since the conclusion of the fairy book (extremely long essay?) will be about appropriating fairies and other spirits for radical ecology.

I haven’t started researching the concluding chapters yet, but something like Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future by Bron Taylor is probably digging in the same garden.

“How can environmentally oriented, spiritually motivated individuals and movements be understood as religious when many of them reject religious and supernatural worldviews? The “dark” of the title further expands this idea by emphasizing the depth of believers’ passion and also suggesting a potential shadow side: besides uplifting and inspiring, such religion might mislead, deceive, or in some cases precipitate violence.”

Neutral Angels

I think I’m going to write about fairies for the next 1HR Read.* It connects really well with some other ideas percolating in my skull, and so far the research is fun and the outline is falling into place.

One medieval theory about fairies is that they were angels who stayed neutral during the war in heaven, siding neither with God nor Lucifer.

For their neutrality they are allowed to live in what is basically heaven-on-earth, but the eternal reward after the call of judgment will be denied.

I love this story. I never considered there might have been neutral angels. And that their punishment is mortality is a weird tragic tale.

I suspect the rest of the year will be spent researching, and the drafting will start with the new year. We’ll see. It may move faster or slower, depending on where the research leads.

My broader interest is in animism/hylozism/panpsychism, but fairies will be a handy lens to look at the role spirits play in the human experience, and how some see re-enchanting/re-inspiriting the world as a way to a more ecologically-minded worldview.

*The current 1HRread is Wipe: A Brief History of Toilet Hygiene. At the beginning of 2021 I started researching ‘luck’ as a possible next project, but it never sparked enough joy in me.

More Poetry!: love one another or die

So many quotable lines in the following.

Auden, however, ended up detesting this poem, and eventually would not include it in retrospective collections. When it (along with 4 other early poems) was republished by Penguin in 1964 the following annotation was included –“Mr. W. H. Auden considers these five poems to be trash which he is ashamed to have written.”

It seems he was most perturbed by the line “we must love one another or die,” for its “dishonesty.” He tried correcting it to “We must love one another and die,” but that wasn’t enough to rescue the poem.

On September 1, 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later France and Britain declared war on Germany.

September 1, 1939 by
W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Summer Update

This New Year I resolved to write more flash fiction. This is the year of short works. A few days later I added the addendum to start submitting regularly to markets. Real artists ship (so they say).

April arrived and I’d barely written anything. I’d started a couple of stories only to abandon them.

And then something unexpected happened. I got my first vax shot (not unexpected) and a few days later I started a new story. (Unexpected.) After my second vax shot I was again writing and completing stories.

I didn’t realize until I received my shots how deeply the pandemic anxiety had wormed its way into my creative soul.

Since April I’ve completed about a half dozen stories and submitted two. The dream is after a story is rejected a few times I’ll post it here.

pet peeve, phraseology version: late capitalism

pet peeve, phraseology version: late capitalism. That term’s been around for half a century now. You can just say/write capitalism. There’s no way to know if it’s ‘late’ or not. 500 yrs from now we might see that this is still the very earliest stages of capitalism.

plus, i think it suggests that all this capitalism nonsense is about to wind down, and I strongly suspect it’s just getting started. There’s still so much to commodify!