Wednesday, October 25th

Rediscovering Hemingway

Music: Mazzy Star

I just finished reading The Snows Of Kilimanjaro And Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway. When I was in high school, we read one of the stories from the collection ("A Clean Well-Lighted Place) in English class. I received a D+ on the paper I wrote about the story that caused me to bear an irrational grudge against Hemingway for many years. As the years passed by, only the grudge remained. I completely forgot what the story was about, only remembering the name and the sting of the bad grade. I had been reading some Bukowski and he cited Hemingway as one of his literary heroes, so I decided to let go of this random bit of hate and read with an open mind.

Each one of the stories in the collection stunned me. Hemingway's minimal descriptions allowed him to create some of the most incredibly vivid stories I have ever read. I also appreciated the unabashed maleness of these worlds he created. It was also incredibly humbling to realize that I had been deliberately denying myself the opportunity to read and learn from one of the best writers America has produced simply because of a bad paper I wrote 15 years ago.

To sum up: irrational grudges bad, Hemingway good.

santo26 on 10.25.06 @ 03:24 PM PST [link] [282 Comments]

Friday, October 13th

On Paper

Music: Woven Hand

On paper, it seems I have quite libertarian tendencies in that I prefer that the government leave people alone and keep the budget balanced. On the other hand, I am a lifelong user of such big-government services as PBS, libraries, and parks. I also acknowledge that people occasionally need government assistance (in the form of student loans, welfare, etc.), but these programs should be run in a cost-effective manner that produces the best results for the most people for the least amount of money.

On paper, it sounded like, despite my big-government tendencies, I was more ideologically in line with the Libertarian Party. Upon further investigation, most people who support the LP are very out of touch with reality. In the words of IBNR, who I took to an LP event on Election Night 2000, "This is a fucking Star Trek convention. These people are never going to get anywhere." In my future dealings with the party stalwarts, I found this to be quite true. They are not only commited to ideological purity, most of them have never had to make choices like paying the electric bill or buying food. Their rigid ideology also does not allow them to respond to real-life situations, especially in the area of foreign policy. They favor an isolationist foreign policy, which sounds good but there would be profound geopolitical consequences if America suddenly decided to exit the world stage, not to mention being rather selfish. Finally, even though the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in every state (something no other current third party can claim), they would rather continually run quixotic campaigns than open their tent to let in the majority of Americans who agree with them on many specific issues.

The major American political party that professed at one time to support these ideals outlined above is the Republican Party. The GOP's current track record, however, leaves a lot to be desired. They have ran up a massive debt and promote an agenda that seems to only benefit those in power with the full complicity and support of a large segment of voters who mistakenly think that the Republicans support a nebulous concept called "family values." The only thing that the Republican leadership seems to value at the moment is their tenuous grip on power. Their most lasting contribution to America during their reign of power in the legislative and executive branches has been to completely botch up militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, reduce the stature of America diplomatically, and to pack the Supreme Court with so-called judges who agree with their ideology.

That brings us to the Democratic Party. In the weeks before the mid-term elections of 2006, it seems a pretty fair bet that they will benefit from a "throw the bums out" attitude that is pervading the country. So what do they stand for? Oddly enough, they seem to have become libertarian in a lot of ways; they are for reining in out-of-control government spending, a generally isolationist foreign policy (ie, withdrawing immediately from Afghanistan and Iraq), and keeping the government out of the private lives of the citizens. While it sounds like I have a lot in common these days with the Democrats, I wonder if they would really be interested in welcoming me into their tent. Although they are the only credible opposition party to the Republicans, a lot of their rhetoric seems to be filled with actual hate and disdain for those who do not share their "liberal values."

In each case I have outlined above, I seem to fit in but would fail an ideological purity test. This brings up the interesting question of why I seem to need to fit into a pre-fabricated political pigeon hole. Is it just a desire to fit in or have these political parties been co-opted by a small number of zealots intent on seeing their vision become the law of the land? I also spoke earlier about wanting to make a difference and participate, but if I can't figure out where to start. I wonder if there are a lot more people who feel the same way than I ever imagined, who want to participate but are sickened by the conduct and corruption of those in power. Maybe I can participate for now by putting up broadsides like this one in the hopes that I can get in contact with independent-minded folks who want to make a difference. If you are one, let me know what you think. If you aren't, let me know what you think. I just want to have a discussion.

santo26 on 10.13.06 @ 02:53 PM PST [link] [966 Comments]

Thursday, October 12th

Turning Over A New Leaf Yet Again

Music: Yo La Tengo
Mood: full of possibilities
Once again I have neglected to post anything here for several months. My excuse this time: I have moved to Seattle. Seattle is great-it bears a striking resemblance to the place in my mind that I always wanted to live. Now that I am settled in and have reliable internet access, my thoughts turned once again to this great ampitheatre in cyberspace.

One of the many things that changed for me in the past few months has been my politics. On the other hand, my politics has always been evolving. I have never stayed with a political party or an ideology for very long, which I think is a good thing. As Operation Ivy once said, "All I know is I don't know nothin'."

I have spent the past couple of years living in Los Angeles, which I would describe as one of if not the most libertarian place in America. Everyone is out for themselves and you can basically do whatever you want. Conversely, it is a horrible place to live. I have never felt so lonely and the entire place is covered in asphalt.

Just before I left, I went by myself to a multiplex in Burbank to catch a matinee screening of Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth. I had a strange desire to see this documentary by a politician who I have enjoyed mocking over the years, but I have to admit I was profoundly moved by this picture. I have always taken an interest in environmental issues but that had fallen by the wayside a bit during my time in Hollywood. What I came away with from the movie was the inconvenient truth that even though everyone is upset about the way things are going in America and the world right now nobody is doing a damn thing. It is much easier to sit on your couch and lament than to do something.

I want to do something. I don't know what form that will take, but I want to do something that will in some small measure improve the lives of everyone. Thinking about myself has gotten me nowhere. I want to be able at the end of my time to say that I tried to improve things. If everyone is only out for themselves, then the world is going to look like Los Angeles.

One of the reasons I moved from Los Angeles was to get away from that mentality. Seattle is a much more community-oriented place and I think there is a lot more possibility here for me to create what I want to create. It's all about being somewhere you want to be, and I have to tell ya, I love it here so far. When I come up with something, you'll be the first to know.

santo26 on 10.12.06 @ 01:17 AM PST [link] [156 Comments]

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