My golden birthday is approaching, I talked with an out-of-contact friend on the phone, and the good-bad-&-the-ugly are with us this month.
By golden birthday I mean my 30ths, which falls on the 30th. I had never heard the term before last spring, when Kaity mentioned it during Kaffeestunde. Since then I have heard it several times, both from friends and from colleagues. Perception is amazing in that way, for clearly the term was used around me before it was pointed out to me. I need to send my father and step-mother a list of things I would like for my birthday and/or for Christmas. I find compiling such a list a bit difficult. Several of the things I would like are rather expensive and/or quite specific. For example, I would love a digital camera, but I don’t want someone to just purchase me some random one as gift. I’ll provide a list of books, as I always do, for there are a number I would like, and they are reasonably priced. I might add a DVD or two, but there is no (new) music I particularly want. On the books/music/DVD front, I would like to avoid collecting more massive "stuff" that is simply going to take up space, but that’s the nature of such things, I fear.
Andrew called the other evening, before the election, and we chatted for a while, for the first time in months, so so catching-up was in order. Evidently another friend has just gotten a new job, so I have a phone call to make. As it was, we bitched about politics and the state of the world; alas, my fears were realized.
Wisconsin—barely—went to Kerry, but the rest of the country was not so wise. The only “redeeming” aspect of the election was that Russ Feingold and Tammy Baldwin rather handily won their respective races. Feingold’s opponent, Tim Michels, was a lowlife fucktard and hypocritical asswipe of a Republican stooge. He would have looked great back in the 1930s dressed in brown and goose-stepping it around Nürnberg and Berlin. Dave Magnum, Baldwin’s challenger, seemed like a decent guy, but that doesn’t make him a good candidate. Compared to the right-wing nutjobs in office elsewhere, he came across as moderate, but he missed (skipped) a scheduled debate and had the nerve to blame Baldwin’s camp for his fuckup. All that having been said, Kerry’s loss rests squarely with two groups: the Kerry campaign and the Democratic leadership in this country. The former never made a good case for himself, nor did he ever clearly lock on to an “out with Bush” message. Despite Dean’s faults, he did those things. I respect Kerry the Senator, but Kerry the candidate was never someone to vote for, just the embodiment of voting against Bush. As for the national leadership—what more is there to say? They’re incompetent. In addition to losing the presidency (again), they didn’t help with races for the Senate or House, or for governorships. Because they represent a party, they feel threatened by grass-roots progressivism. They do not understand how to harness it; although the Republican party bosses don’t really believe in the “grass roots,” they do know how to fake it, and a number of their core constituents (wacko evangelical Xians, for example) do do know how to start small, build a base, and grab power. One only needs to look at rural and suburban schoolboards across the country.
The most depressing aspect of the election is that more than half the people in this country decided to prove how truly retarded they are. Oh, I can hear it now, that’s just liberal intolerance speaking. There were, you know, valid reasons to support Bush. In response: no there weren’t. A vote for Bush was a vote for the status quo, even though the status quo sucks (deficit, fundamentally unsound economic practices, uncontrolled corporate control of major political decicionmakers, selfish and neo-emperialist foreign policy, and broken environmental policy). A vote for Bush was a vote for reactionary policy making: reacting to situations, not proactively trying to make the world a better place. A vote for Bush was a vote for being irrationally controlled by one’s fear: the fear of the so-called “gay agenda,” the fear of “freedom-hating terrorists,” and the fear of thinking. Would a Kerry presidency fix all these things? Of course not. Everyone agrees that in many regards the two candidates shared policy decisions, but a vote for Kerry was a vote to indicate being upset with the status quo and a vote to indicate one’s desire for change. The only reason to vote for Bush was if you 1) are a bigoted, homophobic neanderthal, 2) believe we need a deluded leader who thinks God speaks directly to him, and 3) you despise freedom and want a world in which your narrow-minded ethos is imposed by force upon those who disagree with you. Such people are either evil or stupid, and I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt by calling them the latter. Ignorance is no excuse, but it’s a tad bit better than being malicious ... or is it?
I, however, never had much hope for a non-Bush presidency, so now I can only hope that things get so much worse that the 51% of the population that thrust us into this continued mess will learn to regret its decision. That is too much to hope for, I know, and I really do not want to live in a country, let alone a world, that must sink that low before it sees the error of its ways, but in other circles it is known as “tough love.”
I can’t stand “patriotism”—it is rooted in the term “father,” and I refuse to anthropomorphize political institutions—but at times I think liberals are the only people in this country who can, in any way, be labeled patriotic—is not wanting to improve your country and trying to make a better future patriotic? Is not the me-me-me “I need my SUV, god, and guns” view of the bushinistas the furthest thing from “patriotism” one could imagine?
The rest of November will be an ambivalent time. It is, once again, time for NaNoWriMo, and once again I am attempting to write a 50,000 word novel (er, novella) in 30 days; I managed it (in terms of word-count, if not in terms of producing a completed story) last year, though the year before I failed. What caused me to fail two years ago might return to haunt me: the desire and/or need to mess around with computers. Two years ago I set up my server, which has been providing 24/7/365 service since that time. Now, however, I have a corrupted root partition, and I think some surgery is in order, perhaps even a reinstall and upgrade. In addition I have dissertation work to do, and I would like to write a chapter before Xmas. Finally, the writing spirit is barely with me. Instead, I have the nearly constant desire to draw and doodle and sketch, even if the results are, at best, mediocre.
A need to shake up my life has hit me. It is a type of radicalism or fundamentalism, understood in the sense of returning to roots or basics. That is to say: to simplify matters and pursue that which most interests me: good books, good (and new?) music, foreign and/or off-beat films, new cuisine. Routine should be instrumental, not teleological; it servers to free oneself from some forms of chaos in order to pursue more worthwhile goals, but it should not be an end unto itself.
On that note, let me conclude with a few things I have read, watched, listened to, or eaten recently that have caught my fancy.
—November 4 2004