I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
August 18, 2012 - 11:27 a.m.
I didn't do much yesterday and I have nothing planned for today. I might go out and look for something to do later. The only reason I left the house yesterday was to go shopping. I had to go to store in opposite directions, Food Town to get andouille sausage and Trader Joe's for everything else. By looking at both the subway and bus maps I thought I found a pretty good route from one to the other. In fact I can use it as a faster way to get to Trader Joe's from my house as long as I check the subway schedule first. If I know that there's a C train coming I can catch it with no waiting time and end up three long blocks closer to the bus and further down the route. Things did not work out that way yesterday. When I got to the bus stop I checked on my phone to see when the next bus was coming. The MTA has an app for that. It told me that no bus was coming. There was a disruption to service. That was the most useful thing my smart phone has done. It ended up walking the rest of the way. It wasn't that far.
As you might have guessed from my going out of my way to buy the sausage I had my sausage, plantain, garlic soup last night. My variations this time was making it with chicken stock instead of beef and a diced habanera pepper instead of red pepper powder. It works now matter how I prepare it.
I often write about how much I love something, food, baseball, a musician, a natural wonder, etc. I talk about these things too. I'm not shy about telling a person how much I appreciate them or their art or something about them. Well I am shy but I do it anyway. My exuberance is more powerful than my insecurity. I'm often at a loss as to why people put up with me. I can't understand why I can't special treatment from musicians. When I ask I've been told that it's because they appreciate my appreciation. I wonder ifdo I appreciate things more than most people or do I just express it more strongly? My take is that I do get more out of some kinds of experiences than most people do.
I feel uncomfortable writing this as I have no real evidence, it's all based on gut feelings. I don't in believe gut feelings. They are another word for prejudices. It's why people believe in so many stupid and or hateful things. But I'm going to write it anyway. Just keep in mind that what I'm writing about is my state of mind, not objective reality. Now that I've assuaged my guilt I can move on.
When I talk to people I get the feeling that I see the world in higher contrast, the peaks are higher and the valleys are deeper. Few people rhapsodize about what they love a much as I do or respond with as much venom as I do to what I hate. I made a special effort to create a fake name for a performer or performers, "The Act," just so I could have the joy of eviscerating them without hurting anyone's feelings. I'm not cruel, just opinionated.
Most importantly I'm more sensitive to the vast plain of mediocrity where most of the world resides. I find nothing more perplexing than people praising things that are not all that different than a thousand other things they don't even notice. I can sooner see people loving things I hate than things I think are bland. I had a friend of a friend whose ideal of beauty was a woman that looked like women I see every day. Like many women I see every day. Now if he liked her for talent or personality I could get that. But for her looks? Why her? Why not the 10 women I see on the subway every day that look pretty much like her?
But that's not my point. My point is that the reason I appreciate things more is that I appreciate less things. I very much don't like everything. I have very broad tastes. Few people like all the different sorts of music that I do. But within each type of music I don't love most of the artists. Sturgeon's Law is pretty accurate; 90% of everything is crud. So when I find the 10% I'm happy. When I find something in the top 1% I'm overjoyed. A large part of determining value is scarcity.
Trying to get a fix on this is part of the reason I play the attractive woman census game. When I'm walking through the streets to keep myself occupied I count how many attractive women I see. That's not the important part though. I then see how many of the attractive woman are especially attractive. The point is not to find the frequency of especially attractive women but to see numerically where I draw the line between attractive and especially attractive. The answer is about the top seventh. I don't know what fraction of all women are attractive in the first place. That's just too hard to count and there are technical problems too on who is eligible to be counted.
What I should do, but never take the time to, is go through lists of things baseball players and see how many I think are good and how many great. Would one seventh of the good count as great? How about musicians at Falcon Ridge or played by WFUV? Is that fraction built into my mind?
I'm hungry now. I should make my poached egg with Taylor ham. I love that. Taylor ham is special. So are poached eggs. Then it's a beautiful day; perfect weather. I should take a walk through Prospect Park. I'll appreciate that.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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