Thursday, January 22, 2009

butterfly magic!

my little tucson visit has been so nice. it began raining at almost the exact moment that my plane touched down, and the sun hasn't showed its face since, which is just fine with me. i know it's some kind of travesty, but i like winter and was feeling unprepared to abandon my winter layers, which has turned out to be unnecessary. i'd like to write little portraits of my friends here, but i need to do a little metaphysics reading before my host is up. maybe tomorrow. in the meantime, i'll say this: j.s. knows just the kinds of adventure that i like, and also the kinds of adventures of which i will be skeptical/petrified of but then love so much. here are some little videos from the butterfly magic exhibit at the tucson botanical gardens:


video video video

video video video video; video

[NOTE: i am not under the influence of any drugs in these videos, but dumb with wonderment! jerk.]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

self-interest.

"OUR financial catastrophe, like Bernard Madoff’s pyramid scheme, required all sorts of important, plugged-in people to sacrifice our collective long-term interests for short-term gain. The pressure to do this in today’s financial markets is immense. Obviously the greater the market pressure to excel in the short term, the greater the need for pressure from outside the market to consider the longer term. But that’s the problem: there is no longer any serious pressure from outside the market. The tyranny of the short term has extended itself with frightening ease into the entities that were meant to, one way or another, discipline Wall Street, and force it to consider its enlightened self-interest."

the end of the financial world as we know it
michael lewis & david einhorn



why does it have to be forced? this is just exactly what's been so hard for me to understand about nearly every aspect of this economic wreck, and every corrupt corporate meltdown that led up to it, and all the ones that just keep coming: where is enlightened self-interest? how the fuck (b.madoff is just one clear example) did all of these people think things would end? were they hoping that they'd just die before anyone noticed that there was no substance to their claims?

it's not that i trusted corporations and financial advisers to be virtuous-- to the contrary, i "trusted" them (wryly, implicitly) to look out for their own interests with a machiavellian precision. i thought they were self-interest experts, and they've turned out to be a bunch of fucking amatuers-- their "self-interest" so stupidly managed that they couldn't so much as sustain themselves-- their decisions based, apparently, on a conception of self-interest so simultaneously hollow and overblown that to call it sophomoric is to give it too much credit. (bah-dum, ching.)

all i can conclude about this bewildering mess, finally, is what i generally conclude on nearly every topic: pretense is so tempting, but it will fuck you in the end.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

something, continued.

it's sometimes something more sinister (sinister?) than superstition or even solipsism that leads us to attribute ill-will and bad intentions to other people or the universe at large: we posit external enemies as a way of avoiding the seemingly unface-able truth that the problem is in us-- that the enemy is inside. and it must take elaborate psychological mechanisms to prop up this belief in external enemies, because isn't it obvious that we ourselves are the only common factor in all of our experiences and changing circumstances?

i don't mean to sound like some kind of republican or motivational speaker or anything like that. who we are is itself a part of the world, and a product of it, and our demons are so often an unfair fact of bodies and circumstances into which were brought without consent. and it's a nightmare-- a reoccurring human nightmare, told and retold in all our scariest stories: the alien is on our own ship; the parasite is in your own guts; they're not the ghosts-- we are. it's a powerful fear we carry. it's a powerful shame. and maybe it takes a kind of power to confront it that's greater than what we can reasonably expect of another person. that might be so.

and sometimes it really does work the other way around-- in the case of oppression, say-- and then, of course, the members of the oppressed group are made to feel (to deeply feel) that the problem is in them, written into their genetic code, when in fact they really are systematically confronting other people's bullshit. and they wonder 'am i crazy?'