On Sunday, I’m Free

I wish that Sunday morning could last forever,
Those tranquil moments from nine until noon,
A deep serenity, not so much a bever,
Laying in bed, arising none too soon.

These sacred Cartesian moments of reflection,
A time to assess the week’s appraisal,
Sometimes I’ve done well, sometimes sheer dereliction,
Contrasts that grasp archetypal hazel.

I say it’s through Sunday all things are possible,
No other day do I feel so much vim,
Morning’s when my mind is still soft and docible,
When my thoughts are clear and kind, without sin.

Whoever He may be may not bother me now,
I only worry about Hims at night,
Sunday morning coming down is for me, not thou,
On Sunday morning I’m free as a kite.

The Party

There’s a party tonight,
Again, I’ll go alone,
Why is it I feel fright,
Dear God, throw me a bone.

I’ll go and enjoy things,
I’ll see both friend and foe,
I’ll long for old flings,
And perhaps meet my next beau.

Apprehension dismissed,
replaced by merriment,
Awkwardness will subsist,
Maybe I’ll take the hint.

In the end, I’ll smile,
My social needs met in full,
Content for a while,
For two weeks as a rule.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I am pleased with myself for arriving at the decision to write. I love to write, but I resist it because it is profoundly difficult. I’m not going to resist it any longer. I read the diary of a pseudonymous man named Jeb Alexander whose life ambition was to write something great. His diary ultimately became his only major published work, which came long after his death. Every Christmas he would write to himself that in the new year he would begin to write. Outside of his diary, he never did. I cannot fall prey to the same circumstances. Nothing and no one could level a more serious blow to my self-esteem than I could to myself were I to continue to not write. Failing to write would continue to be a chief obstacle to my happiness, and I see quite clearly why. Happiness is the product of achievement of what one knows is one’s potential. We can enjoy all the praise in the world and show outward signs of success, but we will remain unhappy to the extent that we do not realize our own goals. So I shall write, and write well. So, here is a poem in prose:

Outside, the cold locks Washington in a crisp stillness. The trees are long dormant, the cars are dirtied from the spray of road salt, and the birds must be nested away for there are no signs of them otherwise. Nonetheless, life moves on. Locals walk home with groceries, chimneys spew smoke, and the ambulances and firetrucks wail in every direction. Yesterday’s light dusting of snow wasn’t enough to slow down time the way a major blizzard does. And so time rushes by as it ever does on a Sunday in anticipation of the workweek. The weekend essentially ends after the graceful period of “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” There is no more precious time in the week than the early morning hours on Sunday. It’s a shame the Sunday political shows steal the serenity of Sunday morning. Nonetheless, I’ll listen to them as I cook breakfast, and they undoubtedly do more evil to me than my bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich will. There’s a certain compulsion that leads me to consume the messaging from every faction in Washington, which is the only use of these shows. They know they’re willing lapdogs for the powerbrokers.

My bacon pops, I jerk my head back instinctively even though I’m wearing my glasses. It’s almost ready, so I begin to prepare everything else. My glass of vitamin D whole milk is one of my great daily pleasures, even as I am certain that it alone stands between me and abs. Real abs that don’t have to be captured right after a workout as I obviously strain, trying not to contort my face and expose my forehead vein. Abs are overrated anyways, and they’re not even something I care about in other guys, though I do like it when guys have abs only because they lack fat. Hot.

It doesn’t take long after sipping on my coffee before I feel like I could jump through the glass of the window and take flight. I’m so sensitive to drugs: caffeine, alcohol, etc. That ever so useful term et cetera!

This morning I’m thinking about the “10 unpopular opinions” meme. My God, I can only imagine the reactions when I start writing in earnest. The full length essays that I’ll produce on some of my more provocative ideas are going to hit a nerve! Herein lies the reason I likely haven’t written more. No, it isn’t because I’m afraid of exposing my insanity, but it’s because I simply cannot avoid clichés like “hit a nerve.” It so embarrasses me. But idioms exist in any language and they’re useful in moderation. So it will stay!

Proust has been expectedly difficult and unwieldy so far, ashamed though I am to admit it. At 60 pages in I can hardly maintain focus for more than five pages at a time. It’s perhaps the case that I need to trudge through 200 pages to become acclimated to the style. Two page paragraphs, no matter how simple and primary the subject matter may be, are fatiguing. I will give up on it at some point if the story doesn’t begin to carry me. Such would signal that I may not be ready for it. I’ve read many things at the wrong time of life, and I only learned subsequently that not all literature is edifying. Some literature — the rightwing is right — is downright deleterious. If you do not believe literature has a meaningful effect on your psychology, then you are the unwitting subject of severe manipulation. Of course, those who do believe merely willingly submit. Alas, if I cannot find peace with Proust, then I’ll likely move back to the comforts of ancient philosophy. Plotinus sits at my coffee table, Shakespeare at the dining table.

Are you bored though intrigued by now? Good. That’s how my caffeine highs always feel, so I’ve successfully given you some of my inner life. Have you exclaimed something approaching “how self indulgent!” yet? Good, because that’s explicitly what this is. Perhaps there has been an unintended effect though. They say the social media generation is selfish, narcissistic, and disconnected from the immediate beauty of life. It’s exactly the opposite. There’s hardly anything more selfless than sharing (SHARING) one’s thoughts with their friends, hardly anything less narcissistic than writing meant to be consumed, and nothing less disconnected than the effect that Instagram has had on our ability to capture and share life’s fiery, banal beauty.

My ears are cold.

Please Confront Hillary About War

In 2008 and 2012, I was partial to Obama because I thought he’d be less likely to start new wars. McCain once sang “Bomb Iran” as a joke…the humor of a true maniacal villain. Obama’s relative restraint has marginally slowed the US’s deadly wars, and I’m thankful for every innocent life that has been spared. I grieve for those who haven’t been as fortunate.

In this election, there is clearly little hope for a more peaceful future. By her own many admissions, Hillary Clinton will break from Obama on Syria by sending in ground troops and imposing dangerous no-fly zones (risking conflict with Russia). She expresses no remorse about the destabilization and destruction of Libya, a war of which she played a leading role. Her language on Iran is unhinged as she has threatened to “obliterate” the country. She voted to invade Iraq, which was the single biggest foreign policy disaster in a generation. Clinton’s speech at AIPAC was full of distortion, belligerence and uncritical support of Israel, totally ignoring its crimes. She has dismissed the Obama doctrine for not being aggressive enough: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Given ample opportunity, I cannot find an example of where Clinton erred on the side of peace, rather than escalating more violence and war.

For all the left’s concerns about guns and violence, I am continually impressed that they haven’t more strongly criticized a candidate who seeks to empower the most violent and most heavily armed institution in human history. Sure, vote for her since the alternative is an insane psychopath. But recognize that if you vote for her without registering your opposition to her foreign policy record, you are complicit in the wars she will inevitably pursue. Public opinion matters — even in the most despotic regimes — so please make it known that you vigorously support peace, not war.

She Ain’t for Peace

I wonder, do you really take this seriously,
The process, its consequences, we drink the tonic,
These fools, these liars, I mean really?
I thought millennials were ironic.

We hate Donald, yet She has more blood on her hands,
“But do you want Trump to win?” they cry out,
Puerile, truth is that she caused dead Libyans,
Syria is fucked, what’s that all about?

Ask yourself, “When did She ever secure more peace?”
Do developments in Myanmar count?
Buddies with war-profiteers, I’d say their mouthpiece,
“Smart power at its best” by her account.

Ahh, but at least she’ll bring us progressive reforms,
Domestic policy unabated,
Halt the unregulated capitalist storm,
Your economic ignorance celebrated.

You don’t know your shit, so quit screaming so loudly,
Blinded and deluded by your bias,
It’s so clear to me, but you keep shouting proudly,
That She’s next up ought to horrify us.

An Artless Happiness

Who now needs poetry,
When all is well within,
Illusive harmony,
Brief yet sweet, gone again.

I hardly bring myself
To even try writing,
The times of inner health
Artistic resigning.

Poetry is for pain,
The artist without it,
A craft pursued in vain,
Needs agony to fit.

Ohh, but I’ll be back soon,
The menacing fortnight,
Sadly not the blue moon,
Love’s void persists its plight.

Should I Vote?

For many reasons, I don’t vote. First, there’s a better chance that I could die in a crash on my way to the polling location than my vote affecting the outcome of the election. Secondly, I do not want to signal consent to a nonconsensual institution. Lastly, it’s morally dubious to impose policy preferences on others, even if my policy preferences happen to be non-policy.

However, I registered as a Republican over a year ago in the event that Rand Paul needed help from the nation’s capital. The case now is such that I believe in earnest that I should vote against Donald Trump defensively. However, there’s much to consider here as it’s unclear to me what a Trump presidency would mean in terms of individual liberty in both the long and short term compared to alternative mainstream candidates.

The prospects of a Trump presidency gives me notions of a reverse revolution of sorts, where Americans get what they’ve asked for so thoroughly that they’re brought to their knees in despair and forced to reflect intelligently on politics. History seems to suggest intense short term pain, but there could perhaps be important long term reforms if Trump were to give it to us good and hard. Alternatively, we could simply continue down the Road to Serfdom, the theory to which I’m most partial.

Needless to say, I am very scared of Donald Trump. Other candidates offer illiberal policy reforms, whereas Trump threatens to undermine the rule of law. Trump’s capacity to subvert the rule of law lies in his ability to convince the bureaucracy to carry out his will, even if he were to ignore constitutionally enumerated powers. As is the case with politics broadly, power only exists insofar as others believe in the legitimacy of the ruling class. If the bureaucracy, military, and the People believe in Trump’s authority, we are in for bad times. My suspicion is that most people are so docile that this would be the case.

The saving grace could perhaps be that Trump’s naked usurpations could defy public opinion to the point that his credibility and thus power would whither. If this happened, Trump would be no more powerful than a southern blue law.

If we strip away Trump’s rhetoric, his policy proposals are not that far outside the mainstream. Other candidates on both sides support immigration restrictions and oppose free trade. When it comes to the prospects for more war, Hillary Clinton and the remaining Republicans have records far worse than Donald Trump.

These savvy politicians know how to navigate the channels of power to get what they want better than Trump. While I’m very scared of Donald Trump, I’m also scared of these remaining candidates who are less lawless only by degree. Matt Yglesias and his friends on the left laud Hillary Clinton’s prospects for lawlessness. In this piece, he pines for a liberal with a “iron fist” and fawns over Clinton for her defiance of constitutional limits. It’s unclear to me whether Yglesias supports Clinton or Trump when he begs for a president who “cares more about results than process, who cares more about winning the battle than being well-liked, and a person who believes in asking what she can get away with rather than what would look best.”

Rubio and Cruz would obviously advance the Bush-era abuse of executive power. The difference between these two is that Rubio seems to be more susceptible to puppeteering. Is this good or bad? In the Bush administration, the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, John Yoo, et al. answer this readily.

So, it’s clear to me there is no meaningful way to cast a defensive vote. There is a reasonable case to be made that each candidate will subvert the rule of law in serious ways, and it’s unclear to me given the constraints of each candidate who would have the capacity to advance their agenda the most. I think it’s likely that they’ll all be able to enact their will to an intolerable point. I suppose it’s most likely I’ll stay home then.

The last thought I have is that a vote against Donald Trump is a vote against a certain domestic culture. The culture that Trump’s campaign represents is the most insidious variant of Americanism. As politics is merely the reflection of a culture, it may still be worth it to consider voting Not Trump.

It’s a serious moral dilemma I face. I honestly believe that voting is immoral. I’m willing to commit an immoral act if there’s a serious case to be made that there is a mainstream presidential candidate who doesn’t also fall prey to the same case against Trump.

The Slim Gilt Soul

His hair thick and shining,
His eyes kind and gentle,
Sharp yet soft, I’m pining,
The Golden Mean assembled.

Beauty, part his essence,
Graceful, charming, agile,
He’s Heaven’s fluorescence,
Delicate and fragile.

His fleeting effulgence,
Painfully illusive,
Denies my indulgence,
Its mockery abusive.

At least the Form exists,
Beautiful, not handsome,
Man as rough and tumble persists,
Though, he’s smooth and lissome.

Harsh masculinity,
Unlike other cultures,
Undue rigidity,
Patriarchy a vulture.

Beauty as brazenness,
Cult of the Sunflower,
Heirs of Antinous,
We approach your hour.

Why I Don’t Write

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

Writing is deeply personal. Through it, we easily gauge the writer’s intelligence, emotional stability, rhetorical skill, insecurities and – in a word – their past. Writing is a window into the mind of the writer. More unsettling is that through it the writer exposes theirself to theirself. Talk may be cheap, but words are the heaviest spiritual tax. The writer feels their intellectual shortcomings, faces their self-doubt, and enters into solitude with their many internally contradictory voices. This is the source of writer’s block, the paralyzing moment when reality announces to the writer their shallow limits.

Writing removes the obscurities of our digital age. As a kid, I went to guitar lessons almost every Tuesday evening for eleven years. I never learned to read music, and my practice book, which was a collection of hand-written crypto-tablature, was inadvertently destroyed. I still remember enough music to make it seem like I can play the guitar. I suspect, similarly, that many of us can conjure up enough intellect to string together 140 characters of vague faux insight and pseudo-profundity. Real writing does not afford the luxury of pithiness as sophistication.

Our individual expertise is so limited, yet good writing requires breadth of knowledge. The pre-socratic philosophers speculated about everything under the sun. Their concerns were in natural and metaphysical phenomena. Generally, these men weren’t moralizing and state-crafting. What a time to have been a thinker and write volumes free from the distractions of modern political and moral questions. Plato hadn’t yet meditated on what consisted of the good life, lucky for them. I digress.

I don’t write because everything in the previous paragraph is probably ahistorical and unjustifiably nostalgic. That is to say, I don’t actually have a firm footing in history. The amount of effort required to approach that point would be hippopotamic. They say to write about what you know. What does anybody know? I don’t mean this in an epistemologically skeptical sense. Rather, what does anybody know that is worth writing about? I don’t want to contribute to the noise. Why write publicly unless your ideas improve upon existing ideas?

I don’t write because I’m unsure of myself. I didn’t read an entire book until I was seventeen. Who can write who hasn’t read? There’s a great deal of shame I have in that. I’ve since amassed hundreds of books, but I’m still catching up. Having read a great deal over the past years, my question now is who, having read, endeavors to write? Anybody who has read anything of greatness must necessarily approach writing with trepidation. To enter into it without a certain level of humility is the peak of hubris. Don’t you realize that libraries are filled with words of artistic prowess far beyond our own ability?

Writing immediately becomes that which has been written. It’s menacingly static. At some point, it is published, and it archives our ineptitudes, our false conjectures, our arrogant attempts to add to human discourse. It’s hard for me to accept the finality of publication. Immediately afterwards, I await a bolt of lightening from Strunk and White.

Have mercy on me! I’m not worthy of writing, but I need it. Writing is the only mode of public expression for many of us. Art in its concrete form is beyond almost everybody. Writing is no closer within reach, yet we all do it. Writing is my feeble attempt to translate into words my spiritual essence, my memories and experiences, my knowledge (if I have any), my feelings, and my ideas. But is language capable of capturing any of this? It’s a tool, but it’s imprecise. Language makes me feel impotent. Hell is the inarticulable.

I don’t write because I have very little to say about anything of importance. Both my vocation and avocation happen to be politics. Then write about politics, you may recommend. The problem with this is that every asshole on the street has some banal, pseudo-profound, and wholly misinformed bullshit to say about politics. As partly evidenced by this fact, politics is the easiest and shallowest field of philosophy. Why is it that nobody has anything to say about metaphysics or epistemology or ethics or aesthetics? Why don’t y’all have profitless, winding debates about these issues? I don’t write about politics, because it’s too easy to slip into pontification. I don’t want to be another bloviating fool.

It’s bizarre that so many words are wasted on politics when it’s what we can individually affect the least. It is rational to be ignorant of political issues. However, our commitments in matters of aesthetics, moral systems, means of knowledge, and interpretation of reality are a direct function of our input. Well, maybe! But you get the point. I can choose whether or not I want to be a nihilist, relativist, subjectivist, universalist, and on and on. You can seek knowledge through reason or faith or emotion or you can assume solipsism. Aesthetic preferences are limitless. We have so much agency in our life, yet we exert effort deluding ourselves into thinking that our words influence politics. I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself doing just that. And yet, I’ll write about politics again in the future, but only because it’s easy.

I don’t write because it is impossible for anyone to objectively interpret the writer’s meaning. No matter how cogent, everybody comes to the writer with their own experiences that color the words in a way unintended by the writer. If “the dog is red”, then is he Clifford or is he Stalin’s dog? People may assume malice or hear in my tone dejection. Maybe they’ll discern my bitterness and quasi-misanthropy. Worse yet, they’ll accuse me of bland style and vapidity! An old fling once accused me of over-using the thesaurus. Ouch. And don’t get me started on my frustration with willful ignorance of context and connotation.

I don’t write because what I actually mean is that I am hesitant to write. And yet some clever fellow will come along to remind me that I have in fact written. You got me! Is this what Oscar Wilde meant in suggesting there are too many clever people?

I don’t write because syntax and grammar are too confining. Pedants ruin it for us. Grammar and syntax are meant to enhance language and meaning. If I want to use a semicolon or a dash or a comma or ellipses, then go with it. Try to understand why the writer uses it. It’s a device.

I once had an English teacher who claimed that rhetoric is defined as “language used to persuade or influence”, and then he claimed that all language is rhetoric. The logical absurdity of such a tautology aside, I fear he may have been right. And the fact is that I don’t want to persuade you of anything. I don’t want to change anybody’s mind when I don’t even trust my own. At that point, writing becomes merely descriptive, and that doesn’t sell.

The writer is either one of the bravest or stupidest among us. To do it well, writing requires the courage to sit with one’s thoughts, to question oneself, to face one’s intellectual limits. Poor writing is pompous, baseless self-assurance. And while I do write, contrary to my title, this is why I don’t like to.

I Met Despondency

Love is fury, dependency, anxiety,
paranoia, psychosis, and hatred.
It is helplessness, sadness, and impotency.
Ohh, and we’re not even talking sex yet.

Love is sickness, despair, and unrelentingly
threatens our rightful equanimity.
I have sworn if off, not for spite, actually
for its sake. Now, I am in love with me.