Category Archives: ZIZ

Disguised as human beings

One of my political heroes was the late South African politician Helen Suzman, for many years the only anti-apartheid member of the (all-white) parliament in Cape Town. As a leader of the opposition party she sat right across from the government, speaking directly to their menacing faces. On one occasion she said to them: “You should really visit one of the townships, to see how blacks live in our country. I suggest that you go disguised as human beings.”

From the always excellent Peter L. Berger.

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/03/08/bernie-sanderss-nightmare/

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Until then, I’ll cry instead.

I used to listen to my songs in random order, but now I go through them alphabetically by name. That has made me notice something remarkable —out of 38 songs in my collection whose name begins with ‘I’, 14 are from The Beatles.

You know them —male, white, middle class, unapologetically heteropatriarchs, and as I can see now, a bunch of egocentric bastards.

As if the world revolted around them, or as if we gave a damn about the pettiness and hollowness of their pathetic partying around for a girl’s kiss in caverns in Liverpool.

The world would be a better place if they had checked back their privileges, assumed their guilt,  apologized to the oppressed, pledged them for acceptance and forgiveness, and redeemed themselves by assuming the role of the meek and humble, low-key unconditional background supporter of those whose moment in history has arrived.

And what did they do instead? A batch of silly songs no one wants to hear which should be given absolutely no platform in any college radio station.

Ban’em, here, there, and everywhere.

 

And be like Johnnie too good

Saturday morning. I go biking. On my way out of the city I see a female coworker in her way in to the city to waste some hours doing overtime at the so-called parking day in which some streets are emptied of cars and children are invited to be expected to what? Don’t play soccer don’t play rough don’t play un-inclusively no competition allowed everybody has their prize don’t dare go to the street beyond don’t do anything without adult supervision if you’re wronged come here my darling and tell your teacher. But at least she’s worth looking at, in passing.

Although I’m out of form, I try na Burguesa, the tallest peak around. I fail at 2/3rds of the summit. No fellow cyclists around, by the way, and definitely none of the ones carrying 3000 euros worth of equipment on them. Just one mountain biker on my way up and two on my prudish and ridiculously-paced way down.

Saturday evening. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some. You end up wondering if you’ve been cheated into thinking you’ve just seen another no-brains movie or if, on the contrary, a very inconsequential film is infiltrated with very interesting dialog and scenography to make you think this isn’t another no-brains movie.

Sunday morning. I try my new gadget to clean windows—a windows sucker. You apply your ordinary windows cleaner to the glass and then you proceed to vacuum. And it works, actually better than expected.

Sunday afternoon. Rio Conchos. Not a bad story made into a very watchable western whose very most merit lies on the way their heroes are not.

I must be set in my old ways

This young man held a post in this office some time in the past, and then got a promotion and went elsewhere. He was liked and well regarded by his colleagues at work.

After he left, he got involved in high school activity as a father of two girls and was appointed president of the federation of parents’ local associations, which gave him some renown and made him kind of a (lesser) public figure.

Last week, his face showed up in a photograph in a local paper, because an old, leftist political party in quest of renovation had apparently sounded him for a leading place in its lists as an independent candidate. The article was badly laid out, though, and actually induced the casual reader to think that he (our young man) was in fact being engaged with the old, rightist political party.

When a guy at the office wholeheartedly, cheerfully, naively points to the young man’s picture in the paper and says out loud for everyone to share his joy, ‘Look, it’s <the young man’s name>, he’s on the news again, and this time big time!’ another coworker raises her ugly,  anger-filled face to bitterly retort, ‘Yeah, but he’s joining the <name of the wrong party>’.

So there you have it, spontaneously acted out for the benefit of your eyes and ears —atavistic, careless, silly bonhomie (he’s our friend, he’s flourishing: let’s celebrate) versus sophisticated, pointed, self-righteous and hate-inducing moral and political judgmentalism (he used to be on the right side; now he’s mean, less than decent; he’s not our friend any more —quite the contrary).

Collecting sinners in an old tin cup.

Hang’em High

I was married back in Denver. His name was Paul. He was a doctor, and a very fine man. He used to say this was his place, this was were doctors were needed. One night, after we’d camped, we sat around the fire, talking, husband and wife talk, about how many children we were going to have, and what a wonderful life we were going to have together. And then they came.

So sad the night at Paris, so sorry for the victims and their families.

Let’s see they won’t come back.

You say you want a revolution

Revolution? Don’t dare talk me about revolution. I know all about revolutions and how they start. The people that read the books they go to the people that don’t read the books, the poor people and say, the time has come to have a change, uh? So the poor people make the change, uh? Then the people who read the books they all sit around big tables and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat. But what has happened to the poor people? They’re dead. That’s your revolution.

There are people out there who I admire that have a positive approach to other people and things —they presuppose the best of them until disappointment comes. They’re outward, radiant, confident, embracing; they can also be bitter, vindictive, and mean. My way, for better or for worse, is just the opposite —I expect the worst until proven wrong. First thing I think first time I meet someone or something (be it a person, a song, a novel, a film, an idea, a new political star, a website, you name it) it’s this is gonna be a waste of time. Most of the time it is, so I quit.

But what exhilarating an emotion you get when it isn’t!

Sergio Leone‘s Giù la testa (A Fistful of Dynamite, aka Duck, You Sucker) gives you one of those.

—If you leave me now, what the fuck is going to happen to me?

—They’ll make you a general.

—Shit, I don’t want to be a general.

Man versus Leviathan, wins Leviathan.

If you happen to have any adolescent boy around in the house, make it happen, just casually —have him watch this film before it’s late.

Lord Halifax

He nicknamed Eden’s successor, Lord Halifax, who was a devout member of the Church of England, “the Bishop, a man who retires to pray and comes out a worse hypocrite than before.”

From The Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, in another world…

From the Committee for the Advancing of Women in Science, we would like to thank Tim Hunt, biochemist and Nobel laureate, for offering good criticism about unproffesional attitudes that some young undergraduates may be displaying in the lab. Commited as we are with excellence in research, for both the sake of science and of the increasing number of women who partake in it, we are announcing the creation of a commision in order to deal with this issue and offer support, orientation and guidelines to anyone who finds it difficult to cope with the stressful demands of scientific research and collaboration.

there’s that woman

There’s that woman, where I work, in her fifties, always serene and perfectly well-behaved, her beautiful voice never at the wrong volume, speaking in the right tone, her Catalan speech rich and genuine, a pleasure to listen to. A person you instantly feel you could confide on, reliable, in ever control of the situation, smart and wise, who knows her stuff and is willing to share it with the people who attend her informal, free classes of traditional dance and music. A self-possessed woman who walks on top of the world and cares for it, thinking globally, acting locally and always sure she’s doing the calmed right thing.

Can’t stand her.

sex late in the afternoon when nasdaq has closed but not really because they want to

MORES. So are women lustful creatures men in the past had to protect themselves from? I don’t know, but reading the Raymond’s post got me thinking about the informal agreement between young men not to steal each other’s girlfriends (which I think it’s widely respected) that I don’t think it’s the case between young women. Or is it?

FRAGRANCES. She likes the days ending late, I like the fresh morning air. Since M. got old enough to go by himself to school, I ceased to go out early in the morning. Yesterday I did, and the unexpected pleasure I got from it reminded me how much I miss it.

SHARES. I’m in the stock exchange now; my first time. I got Apple and Telefonica, two firms I love, yeah. They’re going badly. They’re making me lose money. Big money by my standards.

YES, SIR. I learned from Matthew Hutson in his book that the view of the subjective mind ‘as a mere by-product of brain processes with no actual power to do anything’ is called epiphenomenalism. The results of some (disputed) psychological experiments show that subjects visibly react to an stimulus (by way of raising their hands, for example) way long after their brains decide to (as shown through brain imaging techniques). In some cases, researchers were able to predict with an amazing two seconds advance if the subject was going to raise his hand —and which hand, right or left, he was going to use. If epiphenomenalism were true, free will would be an illusion —the conscience would simply be a mechanism evolved in order to accommodate the inner doings of our brain. Say that your brain stem decides it’s high time you stopped studying those damned French conjugations and curl in the sofa in front of the TV: your conscience immediately starts looking for reasons to do so and to justify and comply with the unconscious decision.

Well, what I’m beginning to think it’s true is that anxiety —generic, pure, uncalled anxiety— comes first and only then we scramble to find motives to be anxious for. At the very least, that’s the way it goes for me.

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