echo chamber

There’s one in my head, and it rings with hopelessness. It sees the march of fascism, the flagrant entitlement of the world’s insipid victim mentality, and it knows the end of us is near.

There’s an external echo chamber as well, harming right and left, cutting off the ability to see any other perspective at all, let alone try to truly understand the other, which is the only method of finding resolution and peace.

I try to limit my external echo chamber. I don’t wish to be like my stepson’s friend who was heavily radicalized during the pandemic, to the point of losing a very good teaching position at an Ontario college because he bought into all the “vaccines are poison” nonsense.

Yesterday, he was posting about how a woman in Tennessee won her case and received three quarters of a million dollars for being fired for not getting one, making it sound as though a litany of similar lawsuits were about to bring the corporate world and government to their knees.

Of course, for a guy that I used to think was fairly smart, he sure didn’t much think it through. I’m not even sure he read the article he posted.

First, the woman won in deep red Tennessee. That has jack to do with Canadian law, and second, in the ruling, it specifically noted that the award was given not because the woman didn’t take the vaccine, because she’d had other vaccines, but rather, her religion opposed abortion and there were rumours (that at the time apparently had yet to be debunked) that the vaccine was made using fetus cells, and she felt, on religious grounds, she couldn’t inject that into her body.

Regardless of where I fall on the abortion issue (pro-choice), I can see why she’d be opposed to it.

It was noted in the article that the case was different than most other cases wending their way through the system, because the documentation proved without a doubt that the woman was doing it on religious grounds, not political or ideological ones. The vast majority of vaccine deniers can’t say that. All they can say is they were being selfish and stupid and would rather endanger other people’s lives than do something a liberal might support.

This was a one-off. Hardly the landslide this young man was celebrating.

It’s a weird thing to me, that prior to Trump and the Putin-pushed (and social media and mainstream media endorsed) disinformation pandemic, that perfectly intelligent, otherwise logical individuals could have gotten so locked into their echo chambers that the ability to reason, think or even want to question the information being presented to them has completely disappeared.

I understand the celebrities that do this; they’d been irrelevant before, and this buys them a fan base. It’s a grift.

But the average individual? Even the ones that had previously shown no hate in their hearts?

It’s terrifying to know how quickly someone can abdicate their own mind.

Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.

Unfortunately, their willful myopia is likely to kill us all.

birds fall down upon / weighted wings they choose to fall / blindly into night

Target: 700 words
Written: 254 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Living Dead In Dallas
Comics: Think Tank 8-11
Music: Ultimate Air Supply, Air Supply (why would I do this to myself?  Must be a masochism day.)

how do i sell myself to you

It’s a question I’ve wrestled with since the day I decided I wanted to be a writer.

I want to be authentic. Open. There should be nothing between you and my thoughts but the desire to keep other people’s secrets secret, because they’re not mine to expose.

Of course, we all present ourselves through a filter, either by intentional omission or unconscious deceit (or vice versa – intentional deceit and unconscious omission.)

I don’t like to do either, but at the same time, I don’t want to be a martyr anymore than I want to be a charlatan. I’d like to write for a living, but there are two non-negotiables:

First, what I write is what I want to write. I hate the idea of being tied to a particular genre, and I don’t want anyone else to dictate the content of my stories. No Hollywood motherfuckers who think they know better or need to “sex it up” (although I am heavily fixated on sex, so that seems like it might not be an issue), or publishers/editors who want a happier ending or something more “clever”.

Save me from clever art, as Palahniuk would say, while being weirdly over clever, yet somehow, managing to hold that instinctual, emotional raw nerve. (It is a brazen and wondrous talent, those who can do this, and I am in awe of it.)

Secondly, I don’t want to be someone I’m not. I’m not perfect; if anything, I’m terribly broken, complex and boring, typical and atypical simultaneously; unique, in the worst and most generic way.

I am a work in progress. I’m an ugly piece of granite, in the process of seeing what’s underneath.

It might be a toad.

It might be Psyche.

I don’t know, but I know what I’m trying for.

How on track I remain will determine whether I’ve the smooth and incredible detail of a Cellini or the clumsy stack of a inukchuk (although, given the spiritual connection to the land and to honouring what is, in nature and spirit, that is totally cool). Maybe shattered gravel would be a better metaphor.

Or a pile of crumbling mud.

Anyway, how to tell the world of what I’ve written, while not compromising my self into something I don’t want to be?

I want to be honest, in work and in life.

Anything else isn’t worth it, and bullshit.

Target: 700 words
Written: 98 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau
Comics: Saga 49-52
Music: Outcesticide, Nirvana

of long walks

I’ve walked probably about fifty New York City blocks of varying lengths and my dogs are barking.

Still. I appreciate what the city has to offer and all, but damn.

I am peopled the fuck out.

There are too many people on this planet. I’m not calling for a plague or anything, but like, people, stop breeding.

Republicans claim to be pro-life, but man, abortion is one of the many ways we can help this planet by not contributing to overpopulation, unhappiness, children and parents in poverty or abuse, because they weren’t ready and didn’t want kids… you’re contributing to fucking misery and death, the death of us all, with your anti-environmental, anti-woman, anti-life stances.

Like fucking vegans, you’ve taken a high-minded principle (don’t abort fetuses or eat animals), and missed the actual real world impact of such a stance, both from a moral, and historical standpoint.

The most “noble” of intentions based on completely flawed premises (of course, I’d also argue that vegans may actually have noble intentions, but Republicans, given their pro-gun, pro-capital punishment and pro-who-gives-a-fuck-what-happens-to-the-kid-after-they’re-born stance, are entirely disin-fucking-genuous).

Anyway, people. Keep fucking, but stop breeding, for Pete’s sake, whoever Pete is.

Target: 700 words
Written: 962 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Assholes Finish First, Tucker Max
Comics: Danger Girl: Renegade 3-4
Music: Other Pirate Material, The Streets

isolation

I think I like it. I mean, I know I need interaction with people, but damn, would I like large chunks of my day to be just me.

And those remaining parts with people with whom I can truly open up.

The rest?

Silence.

Silence. Isolation. Getting lost in the music, the book, the show, the act.

I feel closer to connection with the universe when there’s no one around.

Target: 700 words
Written: 843 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way, yes, that Bruce Campbell
Comics: Danger Girl/Army Of Darkness 6, Danger Girl/G.I.Joe 1-3
Music: The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, The Orb

responsibility

I think I’m sick of the lack of responsibility and accountability in this world. From millenials and Gen Z blaming all their woes on whatever psychological issue that they have or fucking Trumpers assuming they can commit literal crime (up to and including fascism or hate crimes) with no pushback, I’ve just had it.

Take some fucking responsibility, goddamnit.

If you really want freedom, you have to understand, that the more freedom, the more responsibility. The more responsible you are for your own behaviour.

You don’t get a pass because you’re white, straight or male.

You don’t get a pass because you have generalized anxiety disorder.

I’m all those things and I feel responsible for everything. I know my choices are my own. I know my depression is just a thing I deal with, not the thing that runs my life.

I make my own choices.

Are they always good? Nope, but that’s the point. You fucking learn from the bad ones.

You are not hopeless. You are not powerless.

You are not able to do whatever you want without consequence.

These things are true.

So suck it the fuck up, take your lumps, and BE. BETTER.

Target: 600 words
Written: 123 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales
Comics: American Vampire: Second Cycle 3-6
Music: One, The Beatles

weight

Oh, God, it sounds so horrible, like some kind of Tolle/Robbins platitude, meant to sound deep and meaningful, but actually being somewhat of a scam.

I mean, I don’t want to go too deep into it, because I’ve got a whole idea percolating that I don’t want to spoil the punchline on, but you know how we often try to teach the things we most need to learn?

Next to the dictionary entry beside ego, I suspect there’s a picture of Eckhart Tolle. The Power Of Now and A New Earth practically drip with his ego, his unhinged desire to be a messiah, don’t they?

I’m not sure stealing a bunch of ideas that have been around for thousands of years, or basic common sense ideas, and drenching them in an insipid slurry of rancid toss to pretend you’ve found some special knowledge, is messiah material.

Honestly, it sounds exactly like the kind of bullshit I was writing in my late teens and early twenties, when I was also trying to be a messiah, but was actually a schmuck who didn’t live any of the platitudes he was spouting.

I guess I was too busy with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to make the millions he did.

Anyway, my point is: The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner is the better option if you want to learn about presence. If you strip all of the bullshit and pomp from The Power Of Now, and replaced it with humility and practicality, there you go. And Mr. Sterner isn’t trying to sell you on being Jesus.

Or Buddha, or Lao Tzu, whom Tolle seems to only mention in passing, despite having ripped off the Tao Te Ching extensively (though not anywhere near as well, and with added layers of unnecessary drivel). I guess he doesn’t want anyone to realize he hasn’t actually generated an original understanding, but rather, stole everything he purports to have discovered from luminaries long dead?

Anyway, my thought was: I’m such an insignificant, microscopic piece of the universe, why am I carrying its weight?

I know, right?

Target: 600 words
Written: 576 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest 3-4, American Vampire 19-20
Music: Old Plaid Shirt, Mudmen

long, fast, weekend

Another whirlwind weekend.

My life is ending so quickly. I have a thousand lifetimes of things I want to do, to make, to experience and find connection with, and it’s going so fast.

I’ve wasted so much time.

It’s all too much. Other people are too much.

One minute, you’re running and laughing; the next, disemboweled on a tree stump caught at too sharp an angle.

Strangely, that doesn’t begin the downfall. That would happen four years later, when preparing for confirmation, I made the mistake of reading the Bible, and the realization that I was being lied to, that the philosophy I’ve been presented, that was supposed to represent good and true in the world, was a steaming pile of bullshit?

I’ve been spiraling ever since.

Target: 600 words
Written: 224 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest 1-2, American Vampire 17-18
Music: OK Go, OK Go

shitty spots

I can’t help but think of how the last forty or fifty years have left us in such a precarious position.

As a member of the first generation to be poorer than its parents, I can’t help but be furious with those who’ve put us in that position, and the fact that we’re still having to fight that battle, that we’re being told poverty and debt jail and total submission to the whims of billionaires is a fucking good thing?

I mean, I don’t know about you, but it’s enough to make me want to scrap the whole system and start over, sans cash.

Sans power.

Billionaires made to live on the fucking street, so they know how it feels.

What they’ve done.

Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all. If I’m ever a billionaire, I’m giving it away. Keep enough not to worry, to be able to live and do what I’d like without having to worry about if I can afford it. Simple pleasures – a quiet place to live, the ability to take my whole family to dinner and the ability to travel frequently and wherever. I don’t need pampering. I’m simple, man.

Keep enough to keep me in shelter, food, books and travel.

And the rest? Fucking gone, in the pockets of whoever needs it.

We can all dream.

Target: 600 words
Written: 348 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins (do you think this guy understands how much damage he's done?  I doubt it - after all, half of his "models" turned out to be con men and wannabe fascists - an unconscious attraction of like to like?  Or does the utter superficiality of his philosophy keep him from seeing past the paint to the rotting structure beneath?)
Comics: American Vampire 1-4
Music: Oi To The World, The Vandals (still the king of Christmas albums)

mother’s day

Today, we brunch and we honour our mothers, those of us who have them, and all the many things they’ve done for us, while ignoring the fairly complicated relationship we’ve had with our parents over the years.

Mother’s Day is a good time, a sticky wicket and a timebomb waiting to happen all in one.

My mother is a good mother; it doesn’t mean there’s not complexity there.

Like many GenX kids, we were largely latchkey, left to our own devices and using that time to spoil our minds with alcohol, drugs and the seedy underbelly of non-corporate living. Part of me wonders if things would be different if we had helicopter parents, but then, I’d never have the freedom or independent mind I was forced to cultivate by virtue of being left alone to figure it all out.

Perhaps a blend would be nicer; I regret a lot of my actions, but I don’t regret being able to think on my own, to be self-reliant.

So, for that, thank you, mothers. For the freedom to be, and the understanding that responsibility is inextricably entwined with that freedom.

We do what we will, and the consequences come, as is inevitable. There is no free ride; only free choice.

Target: 600 words
Written: 141 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins
Comics: IXth Generation 3-4, IXth Generation: Hidden Files 1, Athena IX
Music: The Offspring, The Offspring (wherefore art my offspring)

flame out or flicker

I thought, when I was young, I was going to join the twenty-seven club. It was a dream.

Explode through the atmosphere, a fucking rocket on its way to etch its name across the sky only to explode spectacularly and leave its legacy falling from the sky.

Instead, I’m a half-broken sedan (well, more minivan based on weight), middle-aged and failing, and the only mark I’ve left on the world is some pets that loved me, and whom I love.

At least I know I made that difference.

(I miss you, little butts – Magnus, Loki, Nyka and Cassie Bear).

Still, is there a forty-seven club?

Could I start one?

How about ninety-seven?

Things never go how you will them to; it’s coincidence, circumstance and bio-mechanics that determine were end up.

And for most of us, it’s the dirt, not the sky.

Target: 600 words
Written: 108 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Yellow Birds, Karen Green
Comics: Aphrodite IX 4, Aphrodite IX v2 1-3
Music: Odds & Sods, The Who