Saturday, February 17, 2007


It is a terrible thing to see the end of something beautiful. To watch a beginning end, a potential being destroyed. Perhaps the destruction is not immediate. Perhaps it will not happen today, tomorrow or even next week but one of the tomorrows yet to come will bring agony, and sooner than I would have expected that pain to be borne.

There is no reason to go into specifics. No reason to linger upon the cause, it is there, it is unavoidable and perhaps it is my own fault for being who I am; feeling as I feel. I wish there was some way for me to be someone else for a while, to do the thing that seems easy and avoid a particular pain I see tumbling toward me. That easy, though, comes with its own pain, and perhaps, likely, a greater pain in the end. An unjustifiable pain that I realize to be so, an avoidable pain if I am strong enough to be true to myself and not give in to my desire to be someone else, the one he wishes I could be.

And upon thinking of this impending disaster, one that may only be averted through luck (of which I have none good), I wonder if it is better to lose someone who you love slowly or to have them wrenched quickly away. I don't want to lose this person; I have never loved as I love them. I will, though, it seems no matter what choice I make. For if even I were to be this other person I would not remain her forever, and if I did how can I think she would be someone they would care to know, that I would care to know either? For she would be a false being, an imitation of the real; all of us deserve better than an imitation.

and then again... even if mercy intervened... I now have knowledge I did not possess before. A little less innocence, a little less luster in my soul. And maybe there are many reasons for this but among them are the knowledge that I have trusted blindly, and beyond what I should have, that happiness is elusive and perhaps unattainable to one such as myself, that I am maybe not enough (not enough what I don't know) to have or keep the love of someone I love, that hope is perhaps a thing I should relinquish and instead grasp a reality, no matter how it breaks me apart.

Yes, this is a pity party, I hate having them. They are unproductive and useless in the end, but maybe I feel sorry enough for myself to indulge in this for a little while. In a series of disasters, spanning three decades and more, I have mostly denied myself this right... I have mostly seen myself as strong enough to not need such uselessness and resented the pity of anyone else. Now, though, I do not know how strong I am. I don't know if I can face this loss, this pain, this tragedy, with the tenacity I've always been known for. I don't know if I can pull up my bootstraps and get to work, or if there will be a silver lining somewhere in the distance.

I always have held on to the hope that one day things would work out for the best. That I would find happiness, a secure happiness, and live a life I could love. Right now I doubt that this is true. Right now I think that maybe I was just meant to be unhappy, to lose everything I ever care about, to be alone, to be unloved, to only have consolation from the art my sadness inspires.
People may not like to hear such things, but this is not an uncommon lot among artists. Many of us are consigned to hell for a life, creating joy for others out of a suffering and cruelty we cannot escape or overcome. And what scares me here is that this pity party is not depression induced, these are not the empty feelings of grayness and despair, but the hopeless meanderings of reality that will not allow me to ignore.

I thought, for a while, that luck had finally found me. Luck has deserted me once again, and I am even more miserable having finally tasted her. For I know what I am losing, what I will lose, and I know it is irreplaceable and a tragedy beyond recovery. I could never find something like this again, I think, for he is so perfectly made for me that no one else can compare to his fit in mind, in body and even in soul.

And maybe he does not want to leave, he says so, but that will not make a difference in the end. In the end I will be alone once more, more alone than I was ever before because he will take my heart when he walks away.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Education of Children

A hundred years ago children, who were being educated, read real books. They were often taught to read using the bible and according to one reading list, Fingerposts from 1916, at the age of five were capable of reading Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. By six they should be reading Kipling's Jungle Book and Francillion's Gods and Heros. By the ripe old age of nine it was time to introduce Homer's Odyssey.

Today we have somehow reached the conclusion that children aren't capable of reading books that require any great deal of thought. When I was in 2nd grade, some 24 years ago, I remember getting into trouble for my unwillingness to check out Dick and Jane books from the second grade shelf at the school library because they were far too young for me, even though that was what the school believed I should be reading. By the second grade I was reading books written for adults. I would routinely pillage my mother's collection and we shared many a conversation about the books we had both read and what we thought about them.

One of the most unfortunate losses for society, in my opinion, has been the devaluation and end of interest in reading (both in adults and children) for it provides the mind an exercise and respite that cannot be reproduced by today's more common amusements, the television and Video games.

Is it that we believe our children are less intelligent than they were a century ago? Has there been some catastrophic event which has leached from them the ability to comprehend and respond to information more sophisticated than "See Spot run"? I drive many children to and from their schools through the St. Louis Desegregation program and am appalled by the lack of literacy I see in them. Last year, when I worked for different company and had a regular student I took each day, I would have my 10 year old passenger read to me on the way home from school sometimes. She was in the fourth grade, in a good school district, and was having a great deal of trouble reading Suess's Cat in the Hat... she told me she was much better with Green Eggs and Ham. All I could do was wonder how she managed to progress to 4th with a reading level I would assume to be at first grade.

And I guess this is why I have, for some time now, believed that I will not send my child to any public school, or likely even private, to be educated. I have no faith in their ability to engender and sustain any curiosity or love of learning. When education becomes a chore of rote memorization and the object is of stifling original or unusual thought then how can any child want to learn? Then there are schools who have gone too far in the other direction. Who, in their quest to free children from the terrible bonds of the above, try instead to give them total freedom and control over their own learning. This, too, is problematic since many children would rather play a game than learn, if given that choice.

I believe that the proper education of a child should be directed and have expectations which are appropriate to that child. There is no one set which can adequately be applied to all and no norm that will work to meet the needs of all. I believe that children should be allowed to learn at their own pace, but that they should be expected to progress at the best of their ability. Understanding their ability allows one to set goals and assign content which is challenging but not impossible, and through the challenge they can learn responsibility, diligence, and a good work ethic.

And I also believe that there should be no subject of education left unattended to. Philosophy is now rarely taught at even a high school level, but may be one of the most important courses a child can master. A foundation of logic and general philosophic ideas can be one of the best safeguards of individuals. It can protect them from faulty thought patterns and arguments, give them the tools to know what to do in any given situation (or more importantly, to know how to decide what should be done). But we neglect this in our children, and it shows, all too clearly, in their inability to think for themselves, or think in a logical manner. It shows in the lack of reason within the adults we have produced since the modern age of education has dumbed us down to incompetence.

Not that all of us are dumbed down. Many intelligent and reasonable individuals do exist, but the problem is that real education, today, must take place outside of the formal educational environment (before college at least), and so many people are disillusioned and convinced of the monotony and senselessness of learning that they re unwilling, or ignorant of the means, to educate themselves in meaningful ways once their formal education is complete.

And what does this mean for society? It means that the gap between the educated and uneducated is widening ever more. That we are becoming a nation of sheep who are incapable of true independent thought because we are forced to learn what to think instead of how to think. It means that we don't believe in our own ideas, that we feel intimidated by the "experts" who are often no more logical or knowledgeable than ourselves, that we are deprived of the great pleasures of rumination and understanding and that we are vulnerable to a whole host of dangers, like loss of freedoms and are susceptible to being taken advantage of because we lack the intellectual tools of evaluation.

And how does this put us in danger of losing our freedom? Because if we do not have the tool of logic we cannot see that freedom is a vulnerable thing that can easily be taken away by nibbles. That by allowing one person's freedom of thought to be taken from them we are putting our own in danger. To illustrate; there was a man, in Florida I think, who was barred from joining the Barr Association because he held racist beliefs and was a member of the KKK. Many people felt that this was as it should be, that he should be prevented from joining, even though he met all requirements, because they disagree with his values and beliefs. I also disagree with him but It frightened me beyond words to read this story and I was both amused and gratified to see that a lawyer from the Anti-Defamation League was representing him and fighting for him to be allowed to practice law. Many were appalled, "How can you represent a man who hates you?" and his reply was perfect... I don't remember the exact quote, but to paraphrase, he said if we allow one man to be persecuted for his beliefs, no matter how heinous, we are all in danger of persecution and the loss of liberty.

This is the use of logic and good thought. To be able to anticipate the consequences of our actions and the actions we permit and support. This is what we have been deprived of in our education (if we have not learned it independently) and what our children are deprived of in schools today (well, that among other things).

And this, perhaps, scares me more than any other issue that is relevant to life today. For I value, above nearly anything else, the freedom of thought that we are afforded in this country. Many of us have no real idea of what that means, I didn't until I was friends with people from cultures without such freedom (next post will be on this subject), and don't really understand that there are many places in the world where even thought cannot be free.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I did feel, for some time, as if I were standing upon the edge of a high cliff, buffeted roughly by the winds, staring off into the distance of the larger world. I imagined myself there, sometimes, in a white robe with my hair fluttering against my forehead and into my eyes as I considered the fall I might step into.

Was I ready to fall? Would the descent be one of profound exhilaration or intense fear? Would my skin burn, my pulse race, would my life flash before me as if I were at the moment of my end? Or would I float, free and unencumbered by the harsher truths of being, into the cavern of which I could see no end and can only hope will indeed be infinite... or would I fly?

and the temptation to step back, retreat down the edge of that cliff, and back to the safety of the known, was nearly greater than the temptation to see where this fall might lead me. Nearly enough to remain safe, untouched, detached and invulnerable to the possibility of a more terrible loss than I've suffered before. Nearly, but not enough I suppose.

Upon the advice of my somewhat impetuous nature, I took that step. I felt the cold stone gravel of the cliff under my bare toes (reminding me of the reality I could grasp if I desired), the whispers of wind tasting between them as if in anticipation of their freedom to devour those eight tiny spaces once unencumbered by the solidity of ground (whispering of the delights and horrors they might show me). I think I may have held my breath first, I cannot now remember, but at last I stepped off into that full emptiness, no not emptiness, full haze of where I'd never had the courage to venture before. And now I believe I may be free.

Still I am at the beginning of the fall. I feel the airs, the deepening, of my descent around me but cannot quantify my speed or depth right now. This is an unpredictable experiment, experience, that does not frighten me as it perhaps should do. For I have now become a vulnerable woman; I could be hurt, and terribly, I could lose this gamble and find myself crashing nude and defenseless upon the jagged cliffs which slide in and out of possibility somewhere below me.

I know I will never escape that possibility... there will never be any guarantee... but this fall seems somehow safe, built upon the rock (though not of ages) and strong enough to support whatever may come in time.

Some may think I stepped into this too soon, that time and familiarity would lessen the branches and snags which may reach out to end this. That, maybe, there are proper time lines, sequences and formulas which the wise adhere to with diligence. I, though, have never learned to be quite diligent and time too often does not apply. I feel I stood on that cliff for a lifetime and have been falling ever since. I even feel, maybe, that I stood there before I knew it, knew him, waiting for this wonderful, amazing inspiration to give me strength and ease my fears... but that may be just another fantasy.

For now I can only enjoy the joy, wonder, fear and awe which accompanies this fall, this flight, and anticipate the new wonders, delights and tears which must inevitably accompany me on this journey.

Paris Hilton's New Video

I am soo upset! I just checked out Google's video thingie and out of curiousity clicked to see Paris Hilton's video "Stars are Blind" and, oh my goodness, this is a song I had heard on the radio and liked-- thought it was a new Gwen Stefani, actually-- and was going to download.

Here is a link to the video:
the video itself is rather uninspired but now I am completely conflicted :(

For I have mixed feelings about this. I try nopt to judge things based upon who produces them, but rather on their merit. This goes in every direction; just because I love an artist doesn't mean I will love everything they make, and vice versus... hmm.

The thing is that as much as I am a bit fascinated by the sheer irrationality and insanity of P.H. I really don't want to have any respect for anything she does in her attempts (no matter how successful) to remain front page news.. this because I don't have any respect for anyone who answers the phone during sex, of course :) well, and anyone who is just so clueless and completely inconsiderate. I do like the song though.

Well... I would imagine that she did not write the lyrics herself, or the music :) perhaps that helps a bit.

I shall have to think about this one :)