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
October 22, 2016 - 2:04 p.m.
While I did leave the house yesterday it was just to go to the market. The IGA is too small to be called super but too large to be a bodega. For dinner, I paid tribute to my Caribbean roots, I lived in Crown Heights, and made jerk chicken and fried plantains.
Believe it or not I am learning grammar from MS Word. Yes, I have learned to put commas after introductory phrases, like "yes," in this sentence. Word reminds me when I forget. It also got me back to using many semicolons. I used to do that then got self-conscious and thought I was using them incorrectly; I wasn't. Correctly as I type is useful.
The big news in the house is Smoke, the new kitten. He is slowly getting used to us, especially me. He lets me get progressively closer before darting away. Even more significant he is approaching me. He is very careful and tries to keep things between himself and me and when he approaches he stalks. But he looks at me the whole time. I wiggle my fingers down low enough to pet him and he gets mesmerized. You can see he's thinking of approaching. He starts to make a move then chickens out. I'm patient and not rushing him. He might come upstairs and visit me while I'm writing this. That's the other thing he does. The other interactions were downstairs in the living room/dining area.
I took a picture of Smoke visiting me upstairs and sent it to Jane but I will not post it on Facebook. I will not become one of those people. I am not a cat pic poster. I will keep my self-respect.
I'm listening to Alexander Hamilton; it is not good, it is incredible. Even shows I love like The Producers don't have songs that I want to hear over and over but Hamilton does.
Yesterday I raced out of the shower to the computer to write down when I was thinking about to post here. I forgot the other 12 ideas I had but I wrote this one down so I'm going to write about it.
It's started with thinking about something I've thought about before, moral authority. I simply don't get the rationale for letting some man, it's almost always a man, or some book, it's almost always a book written by a man or men, determine right from wrong. Most people don't in fact blindly accept anyone's complete moral authority; most American Catholics don't think that birth control is immoral. How do we determine right from wrong then? Morality is a social convention and like all social conventions is not perfectly defined and is never static and various by location. It is exactly like the meaning of words. Dictionaries don't dictate the meaning of words; they try and describe how people use them. There is in some sense a right and wrong but eventually if enough people use a word wrongly it becomes right. The word successfully conveys the intended meaning.
Morality changes the same way; when a critical number of people accept something, it switches from wrong to right. In my lifetime, I've seen a sea change in sexual mores. When I was young premarital sex was considered wrong by many, divorce was iffy, and homosexuality was strictly taboo. Now it's fine for two men to live together "in sin" then get married and then divorced.
Somehow we all decided this together without putting it to a vote. There are polls now but there weren't in the past. We just all know what everybody knows; though sometimes we disagree on what exactly that is. We don't mix with others equally, we know our communities, geographic, religious, common interests, professions, etc; better than we know others but we are all connected.
The way moral changes disseminate gives rise to the common idea that the world is in moral decline. Much of the change in consensus is done by the replacement of people, the young entering adulthood and the old dying. Look at the difference of attitudes between the millennials and the older population. Look back to how different my generation, the Baby Boomers, were from the Greatest Generation. As we get older morality changes and what we grew up thinking was wrong becomes right. Some of us go along with the changes. Some of us don't. Most of us do both depending on the issue.
So, I'm all with accepting LGBT behavior as not being in the realm of morality any more than height or collecting stamps are. On the other hand, I see the enormity of using enormity to mean enormousness.
I'm pleased with idea of viewing morality and language through the same lens. We'd be better off treating the bible like we do the dictionary; something to be constantly revised to meet current usage. While the rules might change, there are also metarules that don't; or at least change more slowly. It's still generally accepted everywhere that the Golden Rule applies. If morality is legislation, then the Golden Rule is the constitution. In language, the principles are clarity and precision. We should avoid ambiguity. It's why I won't say podium when I mean lectern. It's not because I'm a smartass that wants to feel superior. So, funny, Aaron Burr is singing, "Why do you assume you are the smartest in the room" to Hamilton. Maybe that's why I love Hamilton.
Tonight, I'll be doing the doors at From Philly to NYC: Music of the Philadelphia Folksong Society at Jalopy. The lineup is:
BobtownDoors are at 7:00 and I obviously must be there before then. I'm going to eat at the Jalopy Tavern next door so I want to be there by 6:00 the latest. It's 1:51 now. I have to leave soon. Yeah that's a bit of an exaggeration. Let's see when Google Maps says I should leave. It says 3:49. Hey I'm making such a long trip; it must be worth it. You should join me. I'll be the first face you see when you come. I promise I won't be singing. I'm just there as eye candy.
Jailbirds! - October 27, 2016
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