Even though I have not been blogging much (okay, any) these days, I was horrified to notice a couple of weeks ago that I had let my registration lapse on realfake.org. Happily, I was able to get it back. And here we are.
When T & I were gardening more seriously I read a book — can’t remember what— that said “gardening is easy; you just need to learn to think like a plant”. It’s true of many things. Once a colleague told me “configuring firewalls with iptables is easy; you just need to learn to think like a packet”. That was true, too, and suddenly networking in general no longer confused me.
You know, I update this blog for the first time in months, and then go about emptying the dishwasher and catching up on my podcasts for the first time in weeks, and something magic happens. And that magic thing that happens happens to be about whether or not magic happens. And—— it’s about giants.
Do you listen to The Memory Palace? If you don’t, please, just go do so now. It’s wonderful. And it’s terribly infrequently updated. Pentultimate entry was 7 weeks ago. And then, just now, today, a new episode pops up. And it’s great. And it gets to the heart of the real and the fake quite directly.
Here’s a random thought for graduate work in some discipline that probably doesn’t exist (some combination of art history, literature, sociology, psychology, folklore, maybe comparative religions, but hey, let’s just say History because that’s what I did my undergraduate degree in because I couldn’t pick any single one of the above (or because I think most of those fields are flawed or have too many limiting assumptions to be fields of serious study)).
Many if not most cultures have stories and artistic depictions of giants. Most of the depictions of giants I can think of have humans coming up to right below the knee. Is that true? Are the sizes of the giants in proportion to average human height constant over time and cuture? If they vary does that tell us something about the culture or time? Where do giants come from? Is it because we all viscerally remember being children and having to navigate a world of terrifying giants, whose strange rules you need to learn to survive?
Lately the kid has been saying things like “Daddy, I want to go home!”
While we’re home. The only place he’s ever lived.
And he keeps saying this.
This makes me thinks of three things.
First: They Might Be Giants: “Cowtown”:
We yearn to swim for home
But our only home is bone
How sleepless is the egg
Knowing that which throws the stone
Foresees the bone, the bone
Our only home is bone
Our only home is bone
- Second: a haiku by Basho:
Even in Kyoto –
hearing the cuckoo’s cry –
I long for Kyoto.
(translated by Robert Hass)
- Third: Talking Heads, “This must be the place”:
Is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there.
4 Things I want to see the end of in 2013:
- Web articles that are structured as lists
- Web articles that are structured as lists and formatted as slideshows
- Web articles that are structured as lists and illustrated with irrelevant photos (e.g. Buzzfeed)
- Web articles that are structured as lists where only the first few things were worth your time and then the author ran out of material and just kept going because 3 things seemed too short.
Making dinner in the kitchen with T, who’s playing a bunch of music released this year so she can do her “best of the year” lists (and she hasn’t been keeping up since SXSW, so she’s catching up). I asked who one band was, and she said — I already forget the name— “you know, it’s one of those bands where it’s really one guy but he goes by a band name”.
I said, “I’m really starting to hate that whole thing. If I ever do that, just shoot me”.
“I’m not going to shoot you ever”.
“Okay, but if I ever say ‘hey, here’s my new album, I’m calling myself The Rwanda Pinochle’, just say, ‘no, you’re Ezra Ball’, OK?”
And it occurred to me that “rwanda pinochle” might be a Googlewhack– turns out it isn’t. Is that even possible anymore?
Sorry, Rwandans, if you got here expecting to meet up with other Rwandans for a friendly card game.
In case you were curious, my 2004 post about deep-fried tofurkey is still in the top 20 Google results, though that means that many brave souls have attempted this and lived to write about it.
We will be having conventionally baked tofurkey. Last year I smoked a real turkey on the Big Green Egg, which piqued much curiosity of neighbors and passers by. But it was a lot of work for the only non-vegetarian in the house (me), and this year I’d rather spend that time cooking inside with Terri and the spawn.
I think that if you have an intention of living for more than 20 years beyond now you have to psychologically prepare yourself for the possibility that you may meet a 100% perfect genetic clone of yourself, implanted with all your memories.
The question is, if you met a perfect copy of yourself, would it shatter your self-perception that you are the only person in the world exactly like you, like Mister Rogers told you what made you special when you were little.
Just for the record, as corny as it may sound, I completely believe in Mister Rogers, and think the world could use about a hundred clones of him right now, because there is nobody talking to kids like he did. These days, even PBS and their corporate sponsors treat kids as nothing more than consumers, or future consumers, or consumer influencers (i.e. brats who yell at their parents in the grocery store to buy stuff).
But the question at hand: is your uniqueness depending on your genetic code and your experiences, or, is it, in the parlance of Mister Rogers, just by your being you?
I’m preparing myself— I listen to “I’m a cliché” by the X-Ray Spex over and over, just as a spiritual practice— but it will certainly be a shock when I meet the Ezra Ball clone. It’s gonna be hard to tell him I just built him for spare parts.
In the meantime, I still figure I’m the only guy in Eastern Massachusetts born in the 15018 who went to Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN, who knows the difference between ruby lambdas and blocks, who’s currently washing dishes in his kitchen drinking a PBR and listening to Miss Kitten at full blast. And sometimes the uniqueness is comforting, but, mostly, not.
On 9/11 we were 4 days away from our wedding. Late morning when we were on the phone with my family, my grandmother asked “well, are you still having the wedding?” And Terri and I both looked at each other like, what kind of question is that— of course we’re having the wedding. We hadn’t really said it out loud until then, but we were both operating on the same assumption: we had no intention of changing our life just because of what a handful of crazy people had done. Giving them that kind of power over you means they win.
So, my advice is, remember how fragile and precious life is, think about how it can all be cut short too quickly, take good care of the people you love, and do it all on some other day that has nothing to do with a mass murder. Attaching meaning to this day gives terrorists past and future more power than they deserve. Terrorism only works if it succeeds in making you afraid. Don’t be afraid.