Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Too Ugly for Cupcakes

A lady from New York writes to me frequently, and it's always a pleasure to get her letters, many of which concern her life as a suburban housewife. I do like it, especially since I spend so much of my life crawling around in third world hell-holes looking at how things are when things are bad for ordinary people. I like to find normal people living normal lives, those who are honest and decent and who aren't threatened by their governments with murder or worse. When I see infant mortality, which is to write when I see dead children on a daily basis, I see not the hand of captialism and the oil companies at work, I see government out of control. I like seeing mothers with healthy kids who behave socially, meaning not like feral beasts who threaten me, others and themselves. My friend from New York writes about cooking dinner for the family. Stew last night. Her kids won't die from filthy water or rotten meat or from visits from the local despot's death squads. Mom and daughter made cupcakes.

I have another lady who writes to me frequently. She asks if I'm really just a thug. That's hard to answer rightly. I know that because of some of what I do as a traveller I have a look about me that scares some people. All that I do and more would be acceptable and even admirable if I am part of a sytem of legitimate force; but if I'm simply a private citizen who lives and acts in accord with my own vision of right and wrong, then I might only be a thug. Maybe I'm small and shrinking. Were I a tourist I'd be welcome most places; but if I'm a mercenary, then I might not be welcome anywhere. Who's right and who's wrong? How can we tell the difference? Is it a good thing to decide we cannot tell the difference between right and wrong, and therefore do nothing in the face of what might well be evil? Or should we fall back on ideologies and gnostic insight to determine our vision of right and wrong? Maybe those with less power are right in all cases, victims of power they can't defeat, victims of capitalism, victims of Modernity and greed. I might be a thug for relying on common sense, intuition, and life experience. No doubt that jihadis and Leftists do the same. I so my thug stuff so that it's possible for mothers and daughters to bake cupcakes in the security of their suburban homes. I do my thug stuff so others now living in squalor might someday have the chance to do the same kind of banal things. The ladies who write to me would, if I were to show up at their doorsteps, burst into tears. They would not invite me in. And if you act for the good, then there is a good chance they wouldn't have you in their homes either. There's a price to pay for standing up to monsters. Sometimes you might well come across as a thug. How blessed by life are you to have such a chance! Rejoice that the very people you love for themselves as ordinary won't have you-- 'cause you're too ugly for cupcakes.


Pastorius said...

Oh, calm down.

Don't pick fights with people who are too small for you.

I understand what you are trying to say, Dag. But, you own yourself, and you pick your battles, my friend. And, you pick the field on which you are willing to die.

Are you willing to die on the battlefield chosen by some third-rate bureaucrat?

What a fucking joke.

I have to wonder if, having spent your time "crawling around third-world hell holes", the third-world hell hole has crawled into you.

You are too good for that.

dag said...

I've been off-line for close to two months now, and here I am, within minutes, a response to my latest musings. I'll try to be more interesting tomorrow. Please bear with me.

dag said...

I used a graphic above from Jack Arnold's 1957 film, The Incredible Shrinking Man, based on Richard Matheson's novel, The Shrinking Man. Many people won't assume that a 50's sci-fi movie is a good place to find reflective and insightful commentary on life and our existential dilemmas. Probably right.

The story concerns a man who is caught in a cloud of radiation that causes him to shrink by 1/7 of an inch per week. As he shrinks in relation to life around him his life changes fundamentally, going from man to something like a child in the eyes of his wife, to becoming a freak in the circus, to nearly becoming cat food, to being nothing more to a spider in the basement than a fly, to nearly being killed by a drop of water. And he gets smaller still.

The hero of the movie escapes death only to find himself completely alone, having lost all. Here's the dramatic monologue the movie ends with:

So close-- the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly I knew they were two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet, like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens... the universe... worlds beyond number... god's silvery tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had presumed upon nature. I had thought in terms of Man's own limited dimension. That existence begins and ends is Man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away, and in their place came-- acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation-- it had to mean something. And then I meant something too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something too. To god there is no zero.


Pastorius said...

Wow, that's quite an amazing piece of writing. And, it was kind of a B Movie, wasn't it?

Was it written by Rod Serling?

I think I saw that as a kid, because those words are rattling around in my subconcious.

Pastorius said...

Oh, by the way, glad to have you back.

dag said...

I deleted two comments above at the request of the anonymous poster who wrote them. I'm very unlikely to do anything like that again. I write intemperate and often stupid comments myself, and I write outrageous comments about others here and elsewhere. I allow others to write outrageous lies about me, and I leave everything as it is. In the case above I bowed to a private request to delete comments. That was it. Let it be a lesson to me and others that if we write things we regret they stay for us to remember them by.