Wednesday 18 July 2012

The grasshopper and the ants.

(A glance at ambivalent & ambiguous morality,
  in the hope of better understanding despair.)

Up, Down, A Bit More. 
One by one the YouTube links are going dead, blinking out ... as if this obsessive concern with copyright is going to somehow motivate people to go out and buy things (?). Burros!

We used to ride up Cousin's Inlet to work in Tony's skiff listening to the Traveling Wilburys' End Of The Line:    "I'm just glad to be here, happy to be alive."

This one always does it to me: Playing for Change - One Love, which is funny in a way coming from a 9944/100% atheist. Here's the original with Bob Marley. 
Another heroine of mine - not much reason for it initially (maybe) beyond her name - Daysi Zapata (surely you can see how it would appeal to an old hippie). She is the vice-president of AIDESEP Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana / Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle.
Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2007?Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2009.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2010.Daysi Zapata Fasabi, 2010.
At the moment she is head to head with Miguel Piovesán, an Episcopalian priest (in the Purús parish) who has been proselytizing over a highway through Amazônia from Puerto Esperanza to Iñapari (which does begin to look very like a nexus in somebody's development wet-dream). Here's a map and here's another map.

Miguel Piovesán.Miguel Piovesán.Miguel Piovesán.From this distance who can say much for certain? Being far away makes it easy to pick up on simplifying characterizations: 1. left-lib feminist ideology, or 2. corrupt kiddie-diddling priests, or 3. Alan García's druthers if he were still president, or 4. eager would-be consumers (see The Walrus and the Carpenter a few weeks ago here) ... and so on.

But ... if I had to bet single malt it would be on Daysi. 
Aesop's The Grasshopper and the Ants:
The ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."
Gutenberg Version #1.   {85}

One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.
       "What!" cried the Ants in surprise, "haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?"
       "I didn't have time to store up any food," whined the Grasshopper; "I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone."
       The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.
       "Making music, were you?" they cried. "Very well; now dance!" And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.
       There's a time for work and a time for play.

Gutenberg Version #2.   {144}

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Proverbs 6:6-8
Easy to see some of the contradictions - self-righteous whatever-ness vs The Golden Rule and so on ... which may explain where some of the alternative endings you find in such purveyors as Disney come from.

What would Kipling's wise and perspicacious Solomon bin Daoud make of it I wonder? (See The Butterfly That Stamped.) 
[Delving into Aesop ... he seemed to understand tiny stories well enough.    I have misgivings about these tiny stories. There has been a gradual increase in text size over the years, and concomitant (or at least contemporaneous) magnification of issues that maybe should be kept private, or that would be if I were not undone; and alongside that, the feeling, the conviction that it is only through the most direct communication that any counterforce can possibly emerge. So. When you ain't got nothin' you ain't got nothin' to lose.    Anyway, here are some more tiny stories with no shellac, or not much:]
Shakti & Woodstock:    Shakti is the kitten in their paradise. They have no kitty litter and things go from bad to worse 'til he chokes her to force her to shit in the box and her intestines fall out. The girl carries the kitten to town where the vet says she can't be saved and puts her down.

He breaks the puppy's leg with his hands, hears it crack, claims he fell into the wood pile. They fix a sort of splint. Then one day when they are forced to leave drop kicks him into the garden like a football. Their only neighbour sees and takes Woodstock to stay with him.

Years later he returns with his children. The neighbour now lives in a tiny shed with a dozen dogs. They do not seem to ressemble Woodstock but he claims they are all descendants. "They are warm in the winter," he says. He gives them tea and tinned milk and sweet cream biscuits. Then they climb the hill and ring the old church bell with a stick that is there.

Sex:    There is no telling when these things begin. He is seven or eight. His mother has gone to the hair-dresser. He must wait on the porch but soon finds himself a block away in the churchyard with two blonde girls, foreign - there is some difficulty with language. They want him to come with them to their back yard to play. He hesitates.

She happens to pass by there on her way home, sees him and orders him to go ahead. He is still laughing and hides behind the pillar to surprise her. She puts him in his room, "Wait there," and goes to the basement looking for something. She comes back with a stick, a piece of lath, strips him and beats him with it.

He is still weeping when his father comes from the office. "What's this?" he says, and then below in the kitchen, roars, "Never! Don't you ever strike my son again." In the weeks after he goes often to the churchyard and down all the lanes behind the neighbouring houses, peering in.

Keeping Faith:    His parents come for an unexpected visit. He is busy with school and young children, other things. She is beyond control already. At 3AM they are there together, pinning her to a mattress on the floor, laughing. The next day as they are leaving his father looks a question at him as he gets into the car. He does not want to understand, and so, doesn't.

His friend, blood brother, is dying in a hospital somewhere far away. He calls on the telephone, begging him to come for a last visit. He is on his way to court over the kids. He doesn't have rent money. He says no and hangs up. He understands very well. He re-reads the letter, "If I had a ladder that would reach into the hole you are in I would climb down to help you."

Old Man:    A few miles away lives a hermit. He went to town they say and tried to rape his young neice, or did rape her, no one knows. Others say she led him on when he was drunk though she is just thirteen. And others, "He's not a Christian." The Mounties come every month or so in their boat to pick him up but he hears them from far and sits up on the hill 'til they go away again.

They walk that way one winter afternoon and decide to stop in. Something wild leaps up at the door from inside when he knocks. It is locked. There is no other answer and they go on, uncertain. Weeks later he is found beside a hole in the ice on one of the ponds. He has taken off his coat and his boots and one sock.


[Ahh, it's not a matter of shellac. Maybe I am simply not permitted. I'm sorry, it looked like a way. I don't seem to be able to even see the lines I am stepping over anymore. Oh well.] 
The Event: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Cairns Australia July 9-13 2012; and, The Outcome: Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reef endorsed by 50 pages of scientists; and,
Roger Bradbury.
One View: A World Without Coral Reefs by Roger Bradbury in the NYT:
It's past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs, the nurseries of tropical coastal fish stocks. They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation.
Peter Sale.And Another View: in the comments to Climate change, Carbon taxes, and Responsible government:
a) how messages are received when they are all doom and gloom, b) the need to keep some optimism within our own community so that people continue to work to make the world better, and c) the immense difficulty of communicating with the movers and shakers who really decide how humanity acts.
None of these documents is very long.

I don't entirely side with either view - there is enough doubtful rationale in each of them - but at least they are relatively clearly put, 'out there', and the facts are more-or-less agreed.

It is, as Steve Gardiner has very clearly shown, a moral quandary in which every position contains tendencies towards corruption, backsliding.

If one accepts the awesome possibility that humankind is well and truely diddled (and the odds are getting shorter every day), then one tends to slide towards some downhill position, which one doesn't really matter (the common interpretation of despair - apathy, or adaptation, or futile technology, or geoengineering, or mitigation, whatever the fuck) when the necessary action remains the same as it has been for 50 years, very simple but unfortunately uphill: Stop polluting! (Doh! Whether you think it will 'work' or not.)

Again, if I had to bet single malt, it would be that truth will do more to sort out despair than any amount of polite & diplomatic discussion within any kind of status quo paradigm. (Untranscended despair being the bottleneck at the moment in my view. The only way to get to it is through it - to paraphrase Stompin' Tom.)

[Lord sufferin' dyin' dancin' ... that oh-so-earnest (k-k-Canadian) dipstick David Keith is at it again: US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon. These odd few mis-spent millions here and there are all double jeopardy eh? They are squandered on shadow nonsense and are not applied to the root problem, so there is a double toll.

A-and reducing wind subsidies in Britain is not enough. I gues they figgure they can really throw a fuck into it if they simultaneously i) threaten subsidy reductions, and ii) dither and dawdle and delay over the quantum (here).

Pity Party:    A way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whingeing endlessly about how crappy your life is. Pity parties can involve one or more people. (from the Urban Library)

Following along on Steve Gardiner's texts involving moral corruption, there's not much better than Oscar Wilde. Particularly his story The Devoted Friend read by Stephen Fry: 1   2   3 (total about 20 minutes) - and the text here; or download a whole CD of six Wilde fairy tales read by Stephen Fry from Demonoid, whatever.

You can hardly read (or listen) to these stories without picking up the crypto-Christian undertones, overtones, themes, and so on ... The idea of a deathbed conversion to Catholicism (?) when it is just possible that meningitis might leave you somewhat non compos mentis - oh well, it was 1900 after all. An interesting crit by Simon Critchley a few years ago in the Guardian: Oscar Wilde's faithless Christianity.

I guess the fear is that complaint is a means of manipulating someone towards a compassion they may not feel. (I trust that the parallels in The Grasshopper and the Ants and The Devoted Friend are obvious to all.) I know I hate it when a panhandler goes to lengths to look truely woebegone.

There is middle ground here. There must be that is, and presumably there is a technique to make the distinction - I just don't happen know that technique except as an emotional quality, a response of the heart.

Not the last word on this ... 
Just a Doukhobor at heart I guess. Grand Forks - I wonder what it's like over there?

Be well.
A Bit More:    I thought of going to Mexico one time and Old Pius said, "Yes, Mexico, that must be over there somewhere on the other side of Montree-hall."

Trouble in Timbuktu:    Radical Islamists go about destroying physical stuff, Bamiyan and now shrines in Timbuktu. "Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture," says Leonard Cohen. "They have a pussy problem," says Captain Beefheart. So what problem have the Islamists got then? Mistaking physical stuff for something else, looks like to me - in the same way that consumers, or, that is Consumers, mistake the stuff they are buying for something else. When it comes to filling up holes, or 'mitigating deficits' I also think of Gabor Maté and his Hungry Ghosts.

Where is the calculus that will give us the precise locus of the root deficit, whatever it is? And if we find it, how long will it take to become just another excuse to bring out the lash? You must be compassionate! And if you are not, we will lash you, or crucify you, or inquisition you. Right.

I was asking a few weeks ago - where are Lewere? Kurchi? Yida? (They are in and around the Nuba Mountains and south towards the South Sudan border, Kurchi I found, and Yida (approximately), they are on this map I made.)

So, another 100,000 in Mbera to go along with the 500,000 in Dadaab. When the 'official' numbers start getting scary, well, you know something's not right eh?

Mali showing Mbera.And where is Mbera? Well, the NYT gives it approximately, but how long will you spend trying to find it more exactly on this useless Internet? And by the time you do find it, and remember that Bamako is indeed the capital of Mali you have forgotten what it was you wanted to know or find out, or maybe that is just the incipient Alzheimer's, dunno.

You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?” and somebody points to you and says, “It’s his,” and you say, “What’s mine?” and somebody else says, “Well what is?” and you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”

Well ... yes, most of the time you are alone. Keith and I used to discuss this but never really got through to it. He called himself an 'isolato' and me a 'communal' (or something).

Of course we are all ultimately alone in some fundamental sense - the interesting question is how strong are the connections that do form in spite of it? Not very strong say I, but ... real, existent, without force or moment but there ... here ...

A quick Geography lesson - Sahel: (now with Cape Verde correctly identified)
Sahel map.Sahel map.Sahel map.
I count parts of eleven countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea. The Guardian counts eleven too (but don't say exactly which ones, and seem to include Djibouti?), Wikipedia only counts eight, leaving out Burkina Faso (which does have a province, right in the zone, named Sahel), Nigeria, and Cameroon. (So don't feel bad if a lot of this is as new to you as it is to me, you are in good company.)

The Sahara desert (3½ million square miles) is on the move as well, southward by that same ~5 miles per year. No surprise that lots of bad news originates in the Sahel these days (Darfur etc.). The concept of a ten-mile wide 'Great Green Wall' being constructed (in the Guardian link just above) looks like more shadow work to me - several billion more World Bank dollars in double jeopardy. King Canute rides again! But hey, looks good on paper and makes you feel good doesn't it eh?

Nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Monday July 16.100,000 people demonstrating in Tokyo on Monday (the organizers say 170,000, the cops say 75,000, either way it is LARGE in a culture of restraint such as you find in Japan).

I guess the real anal retention is going on in North America: k-k-Canada where 500 coming out for an environmental issue is a big number, and the US where the pooh-bahs tell us 1,000 or so will do it all, have already done it - "We won! We Won!" Right. And not hard to figgure why we stay mum either is it?

"Is there a place for those hopeless sinner who hurts all mankind just to save his own?"

Poutine, I should'a called this post 'poutine'.

A side of (ambiguous) boobage with that (ambiguous) poutine?
Cherubim or Seraphim?Cherubim or Seraphim?

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