Have been feeling the need to blog a lot these past few months, but am both out of the habit and am somehow feeling like I’ve come to the end of this particular notebook and have been craving a new one with all blank pages.
Not entirely sure why, mostly just that when I get the occasional urge to look back through old posts, the person that wrote them feels very far away from who I am right now. I’m happy I wrote it all, and I’m not disowning that person, but that little self-exhibitionistic urge that leads to blogging— that thing that makes you write something and put it online and say “this is me”— feels frustrated putting new “this is me” alongside a bunch of stuff where I feel “this is not me”.
Anyway, since I don’t have anything set up, I’ll blog here today…
Last year when Netflix started releasing whole seasons of shows at once, the term “binge watching” came on the scene.
I’m not a fan. It makes it sound somehow unhealthy.
You wouldn’t call reading two chapters of a novel at once “binge reading”, right?
Back when TV was broadcast only, it was formulaic and repetitive by necessity. Each episode had to assume little or no knowledge of the characters or prior happenings on a plot arc, or risk permanently losing viewers who happened to miss one week. The increase in quality of TV programming, at least partly because of the increased on-demand nature of the medium, has been well-documented, and the new “golden age” has been well-publicized.
But we still feel that that watching 3 hours of the same show on TV is unhealthy, in a way that we don’t feel about in watching a 3 hour long film.
Ditching the “binge” terminology would help purge that lingering sense of guilt.
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.
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.
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.