People who never turn anything off, including themselves, may not understand, but there is such thing as doing nothing. In fact, if so-called power naps reset the brain, then dropping everything and just staring at a wall could do wonders to anyone. Not us, though; no time. Check back tomorrow, say after 5:30pm? It’d help if we could freeze the city over and walk the empty streets as if survivors of a cataclysmic event. Such moments of eerie stillness, with not a soul on sight and the hum of urban machines quieted down, are still possible. Just don’t be long or you may turn into a slaughtered lamb on the nightly news. You know, evil loves shadows.
We suspect that even authors of best sellers about the virtues of dropping out have a hard time turning off their own phones. For when computer cameras and mikes are covered up, we may still carry on, afraid we’re missing out on something on Facebook. Thus our every second is filled with white noise.
Yet, there’s so much poetry in catching the automated world existing by itself, while its switch can still be turned off. Like when lights turn green and there’s no car in a hurry to go anywhere. Being sleepy and bored used to be equated to being lazy and spoiled, but new research changed all that. They are now deemed essential to genius. TURN ON, DROP OUT, TUNE IN Dreams are often a source for original ideas, popping up right after we open up our eyes from a minutes-long slumber. And the restlessness of having nothing to do has launched many a revolutionary take on the very concept of creating something out of thin air. Or we may always choose to just roll over and, well, nap.
Sides have argued over this since forever, and the likely reason we’re now convinced that we need to be on 24/7 may be because one of them hasn’t slept a wink in centuries. Then again, the very idea of having a non-stop society, to optimize productivity and increase efficiencies, was likely dreamed of by someone who’d just woken up. STRANGER IN A STRANGER LAND
I once went back to a city I’d lived before, without telling anyone I was there. I’ve checked into a cheap motel and wandered about like a tourist. It was exhilarating. I walked and walked, (more) _______ Read Also: * Field of Dreams * Counting Electric Sockets * Spinning Wheels
There used to be a constant applied to death and suicides in the U.S.: No one wanted to hear about them. That now may be changing, and it’s not because people are no longer dying or offing themselves. More likely, the Big Sleep itself has now joined the conversation. Take the increasingly popular Death Cafes, for instance. Or the Order of the Good Death, led by a mortician. Some may have finally found the guts to at least talk about it. But what when professional optimists choose to do it? And what should we write before we go? Paraphrasing a quote attributed to French playwright, and brilliant madman, Antonin Artaud, suicide is not a solution but a hypothesis. Great, but tell that to someone literally on the edge, and see how it works out. Fortunately, it’s not something taught to suicide helpline volunteers.
On the other hand, the whole death-as-a-subject avoidance has turned modern societies into pools of denial. It’s either changing the subject or outsourcing an answer. That’s when religion, as it happens, picks up the tab, in exchange for no small contribution. Thus, it’s not death but faith that’s a booming business.
It may be easier to delegate our fears to the embrace of a ready-made storyline than having to create our own plot about them. But there’s a price to pay for that. We freak out to the sight of a corpse because we’re so unfamiliar with our own mortality, at least, for most of our lives.
On top of that, sits the taboo of suicide, which is often regarded as an abomination, when it’s at the most, an act of profound individualism, taken when it seems the only option left. Despite the brutality of the act itself, the worst is usually inflicted on those closer to the one who’s gone.
While they’re left to agonize over somebody’s moment for the rest of their lives, studies have shown that suicide also impacts their own descendants. It is a curse to those left behind, a fact hardly ever considered when someone inches closer to their own murder. In the end, though, there’s no particular glory on dying or being born.
It’s what happens in between that counts. Then again, the zeal with which many insist that everyone must be happy, no matter what, can drive frail souls to the brink. Such a sunny outlook has its own dark (more) _________ Read Also: * Epitaphs * In Their Own Rites * Round Robin
The Deaths of Two Pablos & the Latin American Sept. 11
Just as the exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains got under way in Chile, Wikileaks has released another trove of U.S. documents. This time, they relate to the same period of the poet’s death, days after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that ousted democratic president Salvador Allende. As for the other Pablo, April 8 was the 40-year anniversary of Picasso’s death, who was also targeted by a dictatorship, that of Francisco Franco, but managed to outlive its reign of terror. Thus what took place decades ago remains relevant even to these indifferent times.
The 1970s was a dark period for most of Latin and Central America, with widespread military coups and disregard for human rights. It was a time when blood-thirsty rulers, under the banner of fighting a mostly fabricated Communist threat, were let loose to persecute and assassinate political opponents.
What’s disturbing is the fact that they may have had help from Washington and the Vatican, as the Wikileaks papers attest. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Pope Paul VI, both central to events of the period, are shown to be aware of what was taking place down South. They just chose to do nothing to prevent it.
Kissinger’s role has long been discussed, as there’s an overall consensus that the generals who disrupted by force so many democracies in the region could not have remained in power for as long as they did without political support and funding from Western powers. Despite all claims to the contrary, he’s staunchly denied any role in the Chilean coup.
But the papers also show that the Vatican had downright dismissed mounting allegations and evidence of almost indiscriminate murders and serious violations Continue reading →
Crab-Killer Waxing, Showers and the Economy, & Fake Facebook Girlfriends
Blame it on Carnival. If you were in Brazil right now, you couldn’t possibly miss the countrywide preparations for the pagan celebration-turned-to-multi-billion dollar extravagance, which starts in a month. Since it impacts the whole country, why not its news cycle too? It remains arguably the biggest Brazilian cultural export, and also the annual excuse for wackiness in the streets, and dreams of redemption and glory in people’s imagination. Either that or something else. Otherwise, how to explain the three themes of today’s post?
We exaggerate, of course. The expensive pre-fab debauchery now known as Carnival has little to do with what was once the cultural confluence of African slaves and their dizzying beat-driven music, and over-dressed Europeans, wishing to get lost (see: Veneza, Carnevale).
If it all sounds like a colonizer’s idealization of an ancient rite he could not understand, preserved by the official story as something the ‘natives’ used to amuse themselves, well, that’s because it sadly was. What’s left of it now is a sumptuous but ultimately kitchy visually massive parade of costumes, best experienced with an American Express expense account card.
So, what does Carnival have to do with the latest news sporting the word ‘Brazilian’ on their headlines? Not much, really, except for the general feeling that if you were in Rio at this time of the year, it’d all make sense. Since you’re apparently not, let’s hope these three stories set you up with the right mood, just in case. THE INTIMATE ITCH
In public health arenas, the past couple of decades have seen a spate of stories about the supposed negative effects the cosmetic technique known as Brazilian Waxing may cause. Mainly risks of infection, since as it totally removes pubic hair, it can also leave the body open to all sorts of parasites and micro pests.
Allegedly. There’s also a certain resistance to the very concept of going through such an extreme procedure, just to be able to publicly flaunt Continue reading →