Saturday, April 18, 2009

Up Next: Exhalation Tax

If you drop in here from time to time, you may have noticed that I haven't posted much recently. Part of this has been a matter of time (my wife returned to work in the fall), part the normal lethargy or apathy or whatever it is that plagues us, but part of it is also that I sort of fell into a discussion group on economic and political matters with some old friends in Atlanta, one of whom has an architectural practice, another of whom recently reached the breaking point and quit his job as a quite successful institutional stock broker (I don't think he'll have to worry about money for a while), and the third of which is a recently retired engineering professor, who also holds a PhD in physics, and who is father to the first two.

My participation in these discussions, I realized this morning, has siphoned off whatever (admittedly meager) initiative I had for posting here. So, rather than redoubling my efforts, I've decided simply to post some of my emailed comments to them here. I'll no doubt alter them editorially here and there to protect anonymity or enhance clarity. I happened to fire off to them the following this morning:

Well, this should help, since, as we all know, we're in imminent danger of drowning in rising seas.

I think something along the following lines would cut through a lot of the bullshit on this issue. I'm not an expert on global warming, nor are 99.999999999999999999999% of the people who comment with such assurance on this issue, including more than a few scientists.

Let's put it this way, if Al Gore is right, and global warming, or if you prefer the more current phraseology "climate change" (since the data suggest that the climate may now be cooling) . . . anyway, if this phenomenon is a) the near apocalyptic threat that it is made out to be, and is b) man-made (or if you prefer, "human made," although "human" is actually an adjective), and is c) most specifically the result of economic activity, then what we should all be praying for is a) a global economic collapse that b) lasts as a long as possible, and is as severe as possible, and that c) ultimately results in a winnowing of the human infestation plaguing our ecosystem.

Are our prayers being answered?

In other words, I'm still waiting for some politician to point out the "inconvenient truth" that we're lucky to be undergoing the current economic crisis, that unemployment is now a good thing, widespread business failures are an even better thing, and that the outbreak of several desperate, genocidal, large-scale wars might be just what the planet ordered. Now that's a guy I could vote for, simply on the grounds that he'd have to have balls the size of two geographically correct globes.

You might also enjoy this.

ps: I also bought a motor scooter recently, which has occupied my attention. See, I am trying to save the planet after all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Idle Hands . .

Spring Break begins today, a Saturday. A blessed relief?

Saturday took me away from the shop, away from the Scherzhauserfeld Project, and back into a state of melancholy. Even before I had left the project, silence had fallen upon it, broken only by the rattle of crockery and cutlery to be heard through the windows, a silence that meant one thing: it is Saturday, nobody is at work, people are lying around in their apartments on their sofas or their beds, not knowing what to do with their free time. The afternoon silence lasted until three, when they began to quarrel, and then some of them would rush out of their houses and into the open air, very often swearing and screaming, desperation written all over their faces. I always felt that Saturday afternoon was a dangerous time for everyone. The mood of desperation, to which most of the inhabitants fell victim to the most alarming extent, resulted from dissatisfaction with themselves and with everything and everybody, as well as from the sudden awareness that they were being exploited and that their lives were entirely pointless. Most people are used to their work, to some kind of regular occupation; and when work stops they momentarily lose their sense of purpose and succumb to a state of morbid despair. This is as true of the individual as it is of the mass. They imagine that they are recouping their energy, but in reality they find themselves in a vacuum, and this drives them half-demented. The result is that on Saturday afternoons they get the maddest ideas and everything they attempt turns out unsatisfactorily. They start moving furniture around--wardrobes and chests of drawers, tables and armchairs, even their beds. They take their clothes out on their balconies to brush them, and they clean their shoes as if they had suddenly gone mad. The women get up on the window-sills, and the men go down to the cellar and stir up the dust with their brooms. Whole families take it into their heads that they must tidy up their living quarters, and so they fall upon the contents of their apartments and try to make order, but they succeed only in creating disorder in their minds. Or else they take to their beds and nurse their ailments, taking refuge in their diseases, permanent diseases which they become aware of again on Saturday afternoons when work is over. The doctors know all about this and are more in demand on Saturday afternoons than at any other time. When work stops, the diseases start; there are sudden pains, the well-known Saturday headache, the Saturday afternoon palpitations, fainting fits, outbreaks of fury. The diseases are suppressed and assuaged during the week by working or being occupied in some way. On Saturday afternoon, they make themselves felt again, and the sufferer is at once thrown off balance. And if he has stopped work at midday and become aware soon afterwards of his true situation, which is in every case a hopeless situation, no matter who he is, what he is, or where he is, he has to admit to himself that he is unhappy, even if to others he pretends the opposite. The fact that there are a few happy people who are not thrown off balance by Saturday only proves the rule. Fundamentally Saturday is a day people fear even more than Sunday, for on Saturday they know that Sunday is still to come, and Sunday is the most terrible day of all; but Sunday is followed by Monday, a working day, and this makes it endurable. Saturday is frightful, Sunday is terrible, and Monday brings release. To pretend that this is not so is malevolent and stupid.

--Thomas Bernhard, Gathering Evidence