Monday, March 3, 2008

Stray Points

Point 1:

Absinthe should be made illegal. There is no telling what can happen under the influence of that unquestionably evil substance. Its effervescent green tinge should be the first warning sign, as should be the diabolic implications of the name of the oil: ‘wormwood’, from which it is fabricated. It holds an anise flavor that effectively renders it pastis’ evil twin. After a night of heavy consumption of the stuff, I found myself experiencing a day of reckoning for my worldly sin. It may have permanently broken my liver, and I still don’t think my head is quite right 3 days on. It should also be noted that the often hinted at psychoactive properties of absinthe are little more than myth; propaganda to sell a drink and to imbue it with an air of mystique, when really, you are just drinking very strong Ouzo. It is said that Ernest Hemingway invented a drink called, quite bookishly, “The Death in the Afternoon” involving absinthe and champagne. Like that parable on bull fighting, it is the sort of thing that you need to kill before it kills you. All the same, the small village that I had the misfortune to pass through, that distills the stuff needs to be razed. With a proof rating that scratching at 120, absinthe is far too strong for the consumption of animal, plant or mineral.

Point 2:

The French higher education system leaves much to be desired. While it is more rigorous to get into the better French schools there still seems to be something missing. Classes take the form of grueling six hour days in which the same tired talking points are recycled again and again because after two hours of the same material, brains and throats begin to wither and die, leaving a 4 hour marathon to finish. I will give to the French that French students are somewhat better informed on the issues of the day than their American counterparts, but this seems to be a function of their being better served by the local news outlets. There also remains some scorn for intellectualism among many, and the same dislike for anything of genuine artistic merit. Schoolwork is a facsimile of the real thing as after the aforementioned marathon school days, it is hard to get students to do much of anything. In the classroom though, the worry again is that the Socratic impulse has been rendered but a shadow of itself. While Americans as a whole, as a matter of cultural conditioning seem to be incapable of such an impulse, the French are simply unwilling of exercising it. European groupthink?

Point 3:

This is not to say that European society as a whole is missing something – Europeans tend to be far better informed and far more capable of dialogue than most Americans. My above critique is limited to the youth, and it stretches across youth internationally. Perhaps it is an ease of responsibility or an accessibility of cheap entertainment that has rendered abstract thinking a thing of a bygone era, but it is a slender margin that will genuinely talk to you about anything beyond the purely humdrum. A colleague has recently told me that my tendency to pepper my speech with quotation is revolting and that a sense of humor that does not dwell in the excremental or the mundane is necessary of explanation as it is “not funny”. I am or still not sure what exactly to make of this, but I can only conclude that I am savagely out of touch with the Zeitgeist.

Point 4:

The Zeitgeist isn’t all that great anyways; in fact, the Zeitgeist can go and fuck itself.

Point 5:

“Fuck” is a word that still has velocity, at least on the printed page. While linguistically, its use as cheap filler when one is at a loss for something more clever has robbed it of its expletive power; something about in on the page makes what take notice. It is vulgar, it is direct and it is monosyllabic, which makes it especially primal. It’s addition in any exchange forces one to stand up and take notice. It punches, kicks and bites. It is then to be used sparingly. This is the sort of thing that can get one in trouble.

Point 6:

After careful consideration love in which response is expected seems to be in many ways dishonest. It is contractual, superficial and a form of emotional blackmail. The only honest love is that which is either universalistic or that which is unrequited. While the former is an unattainable ideal, the latter is a poisoned chalice. Love is a broken emotion that does few of us any good in the long run. It is fickle, it is agonizing and it is, outside of the universalistic, hopeless.

Point 7:

Hopeless isn’t always as hopeless as it seems, but then sometimes it is even more so.


Collin said...

Love is not demanding of reciprocity, payment or of one's personal hygiene. Love is, at best and in all its forms, an emotion of positive valence, intent and origin. That 'it comes from the heart' is merely more evidence that it is anatomically misunderstood and as potentially irrational as the too close blather of a friendly drunk. Yet it is rare: a universal emotion, like hate, that has been handed down in song and verse and theological decree for millennia. People may not really know where it comes from, but everyone but the coldest, trudging savant knows it feels good.

I suspect all true love is given. Is unidirectional. This is based on the idea, again, that it is more important to feel love than to receive love. But this leads to the curious problem and a question I cannot yet answer: Can one only give love and not receive? Must all love be unrequited?

At risk of rendering what may be the most beautiful of all the emotions brassy and dull, I'm going to suggest that while love is something best considered subjective and given, I suspect there is a global economy of love, that as the Beatles hummed years ago: The love you make is equal to the love you take.

The same, it is best to feel love and let it go, to give it away, to spark more love, as some day, with hope, that love may come back to you, fluttering in like a quite bird to twitter in our spring.


Alex Deley said...

Wow Collin, you've gone all "soul of a poet" on me.

I think it is possible that I am a bitter human being. My point stands, but so does yours.