Now let me pray (St. Bertolt of Brecht)
10 July 2020. I went to bed a little after 18:00. It's about 21:53. I wake up, full of thoughts, and it is clear to me that I am not going back to sleep. I don't do insomnia. I get up, put some clothes on and begin to pray. "What? Pray? I thought you [BMcC] were an atheist." "Well, I won't eschew that that label, as long as you allow that I would crack under torture." "But nobody's torturing you now." "Thst's right, so I can write this." "I see."
Writing this essay is my prayer for now. The medium is not the message; the medium is part of the message. The content is part of the message too. Here's the content: On my way from bed to computer, I pick up some used paper towels from the waste bin in the bathroom, to reuse. I believe my other family members are not contagious but they are wasteful (I cannot control big things; I control what I can control).
Previously during the day, I encountered something unprecedented. I have had a very ill person in the family for now 4 months and not yet resolved. Sick person had previously vomited fairly often but I could always clean off soiled towels with paper towels before entering the towels into the washing machine. I do not want to test the washing machine. (I lost an agitator-type washing machine once trying to humor a family member who insisted on having a heavy blanket washed.) This day for the first time I have an item of soiled clothing which is so covered with goopy stuff that I cannot wipe it all off. Paper towels and my hand just slide over "the stuff" without removing it. I figure the washing machine will just have to pass a test, and maybe it will not be too hard a test because there is no large particulate matter, just goop which should dissolve in soapy water (Ojala!); this concern is my main concern in this matter.
However, there is one other thing that does concern me. Sick person feels embarrassed at having vomited. I do not do embarrassment. Sick person is not concerned about potential monetary lo$$ or the thought of wasting a good article of clothing; sick person is embarrassed of themself. I think: Childrearing (ref.: Alice Miller). I once again explain in a moderately peremptory voice that a person should not feel ashamed for what they cannot control. I draw a line there. It's how I am able to handle the situation. As always, it's futile, and I do not press my point at peril to myself, but just get on with collecting the damage and feeding it to the washing machine. [You, my reader, may notice a certain "distancing" in how I write this. Again, that's how I am able to cope with the situation, and it is not acceptable for me to say such things.]
I think [as I write this] about a recent New York Times OpEd piece of a military veteran who wrote that when he visited a VA hospital and was talking to a psychiatrist and said he wasn't feeling too bad, he suddenly vomited on the doctor's desk. I think: Lucky shrink. The psychiatrist did in reality handle the situation rightly and the man who puked had a happy denouement. I found his email address, at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and wrote him an email. Will he respond? I hope so, but I'm not counting on it. I do hope he got my email and had an opportunity to read it. (Buddhistic non-attachment?)
Back to by now yesterday. Washing machine [a Bosch but not my canon of what a Bosch washing machine should be; in Japan, 1984, I did interact with one, a mini but all stainless steel; it was great.] -- washing machine survives. Clean clothes in a bin. Bathmat with rubberized plastic backing also survives and seems not to hurt the dryer [another not up to my standard Bosch with which I had had an encounter with Bosch USA service department which finally worked out well too, although at about US$560 cost to myself. That's another story.]
We have now reached pretty much the end of this story except to say that I was not browbeaten for what I did and I consider myself lucky for that. I was allowed peacefully to go to bed, untroubled by any imminent threat. Now to expand the horizon of this story. From the specific to the general.
I could not easily be a medical doctor. I would probably get over it but I am not into getting my hands into what's beneath the skin (or much of flesh, either). Given a choice, a patient should not choose me to do surgery. "But you are not a surgeon!" "Read on!" A patient might, however, choose the pharmacist's assistant on a U.S. submarine who, when a fellow sailor became ill unto imminent death with an inflamed appendix, and the sub was not going to get to any medical help in time, the pharmacist's assistant read the relevant part of a surgical textbook, did the operation, and the patient survived without any after effects. Rough seas jostled the patient a bit. The pharmacist's assistant's boss understood that the operation was not permitted by regulations but accepted responsiblity for telling the pharmacist's assistant to do it anyway; boss may even have peripherally assisted him (I forget this detail). (Good boss!) Nobody got reprimanded or court martialed. (Many years ago there was a man who was a total fraud/imposter, who also pulled off the exact same surgical operation on, if I remember correctly, a Canadian submarine.)
I have no problem handling wound-soiled "stuff". My silent communication is the patient should show a little appreciation, but, again, they should also not feel ashamed of themself. Me handling the soiled laundry in a dispassionate way is my way of saying this. If someone speculates I may have a mild case of Asperger's syndrome or that I am mildly schizoid, I will not argue against the hypothesis but only say I don't see anything to be ashamed of about it. If a person has an opportunity to get a "mission accomplished" that they cannot fecilitate for themself, they should not reject riding a gift horse to get to there just because it's not their favorite flavor of horse.
To be finished with my personal idiosyncracies. If I was that VA psychiatrist and a patient put a baby doll on my desk, that would much distress me. When I worked at The Baltimore Museum of Art (1969) and some to-myself-not-welcome body donated a big collection of historically significant baby dolls, I did everything I could to avoid accessioning (which entailed touching!) them. This surely has to do with my early childrearing, but it is not something I have any interest in changing except to the extent that I would like to find out its origin. Anent the feelings of repulsion themselves, "no problem". (Took dog to vet earlier in the day. Dog ("Zara") has Addison's disease and will need injections for the rest of her life. I do not like dogs (I like cats, and clean their litter box twice each day; I do not clean dog excrement which I find repulsive.). I told the vet that if my dog owning family members won't be able to handle doing the injections I'd give it a try. I noted I had previously given an old cat subcutaneous fluid injections. Vet was approving of my suggestion. Annuit coeptis.)
This is my prayer for this evening soon to become a new day (it's now 23:20 as I type this sentence). What do I mean by "prayer"? I mean being thankful. But not being thankful to Any [What/Whom]ever. I am thankful only to Schiller's via George Steiner "Man weiss nicht..." aka Wilfred Bion's O aka that where which is no where because it is not a member of the set: what is and what is not. I'm just thankful. Thankful that my mind is not at this time too messed up with, let me say, hypochondriacal obsessions. I am thankful that I am not actively being threatened. I am thankful that I am able to have a computer and am able to write this essay, and that maybe someone will read it.... I'm even thankful for having cleaned pus/vomit soiled towels, although, of course, not thankful for having had the opportunity to do so. Job should have righteously judged his G-d a criminal. (Not that this would have done Job any good. But it would have drawn a line for Job's dignity as a peer interlocutor in discourse. As always, I do not relate to bullies.)
I end this prayer with a politically incorrect thought which I have previously thought. When I worked at The Baltimore Museum of Art, across the street from the Museum there was a life size or larger than life size equestrian statue of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Around the plith was a statement from General Jackson: "SO GREAT IS MY CONFIDENCE IN / GENERAL LEE THAT I AM WILLING TO / FOLLOW HIM BLINDFOLDED / STRAIGHT AS THE NEEDLE TO THE POLE". "The Jackson and Lee Statue was... removed... August 16, 2017.... Activists replaced the monument with a rendition of a... African-American woman [a large orb, hypertrophically pregnant with a large litter]... which was destroyed shortly thereafter." (Wikipedia) White supremacy racism replaced by black ethno-nationalist jingoism? Why not two not pregnant women, one black an the other white (yellow, or other), at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood office named after Margaret Sanger? For myself, the original statue was about how an honest employee might feel about a good manager, not racial politics (I am also not a Constitutional "originalist").
I do not believe in any person following anybody anywhere, except for following rescuer(s) out of life-threatening conditions, e.g. being doomed by rising water in a cave, or being in a burning building. But I would like to have the company of person(s) whom I could trust. I think maybe General Jackson was not such a "follower" that he would have obeyed an order from Lee that would lead his troops into a trap. I'd like to think General Lee would not have expected any such obedience. I don't know. As psychotherapist Gordon Hirshhorn (son of the Museum Hirshhorn) said to me: "Other than chance encounters, a person can encounter in reality only what they have previously encountered in fantasy."
St. Bertolt of Brecht! Pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death! (Also: Pussy Riot!) An agnostic Amen. firstname.lastname@example.org
Night of 11 July 2020. I awaken around 22:00/23:00 in media res a dream. I do not remember much of the dream, and maybe there wasn't much to it to remember or to not remember. There is a polished Black Cube, which is large but not huge. Maybe it is something like that black cube muslims mass around in Mecca, only much smaller. The Cube is flawed: one side of it is missing, so that The Cube is obviously broken, and therefore the broken off part is not a danger (one can see to keep one's distance and not fall into a void). That's about all there is to the dream.
What, upon waking, getting up, and coming to the computer and typing this, I think may be: The Cube is Historiography, i.e., History as the object managed by historians/historiographers. The Cube is "behind the scene" of History, which latter is what "the people" think exists: Famous Leaders and the masses they dispose over. This latter is false but it is not something that deceives the intellectuals (the historiographers), who see humankind's social human condition as being flawed.
Political Correctness (PC) comes along and fills out The Cube so that henceforth The Cube looks perfect. However: if a person goes to the "fixed" side they fall into an abyss, but this is not obvious because The Cube looks perfect (prefected). Political Correctness makes the intellectuals think they understand History but really they fall into a trap (the perfection of The Cube), an abyss of politically correct ideation. All intellectuals' self-understanding is perverted to the root, so that henceforth on earth nobody is aware of what is really going on, i.e., what they all are making go on aka humankind's self-understanding. But somebody fixed The Cube, so maybe those malefactors still do know what is going on and are managing it (ref.: Adam Curtis's videos, esp.: "The Power of Nightmares").
Hagiography's Hot Shots ("Do gooders")
Martyrs. I (BMcC) an suspicious of martyrs, because I smell that often they want to share their connoisseurship of self-destruction with others, including me, by such weapons of psychological warfare as giving a guilty conscience to anybody who does not want to jump on their bandwagon of woe. Or sometimes they just look on in sanctimoniousness self-righteousnss, goats leading sheep to slaughter, without yet cashing in their own lives.
Mahatma Gandhi (right, top) sat cross-legged like a lump in self-righteous self-satisfaction chewing on his toothless gums and smiling at the world in the perverted narcissism that he was the greatest thing since cat-of-nine-tails, and we should all bow down and worship him, i.e.: worship his projected egotism aka: "Good Cause". Maybe India would have been better off staying under the Brits if the latter would have made some changes in their rule, like America colonies, too?
Gandhi looks to me to have been the among world's greatest provocateurs of violence by proxy, so he could so say he was non-violent. "Who, innocent me who wouldn't hurt a plague carrying flea?" He should have kept his dentures in all day! Gandhi was a lawyer. If he chose to indulge in the world's most elite privileged luxury: voluntary poverty, that was his choice and he should have gone all the way by not accepting anything from his worshippers, not even a supporting arm if he couldn't walk unaided, nor their adulation, either. Like all leaders, he should have instructed his followers to stop following anybody and lead themselves. I paid at the office.
(POTUS №35) John Fitzgerald Kennedy should have preached:
"Ask not what you can do for your country until you are satisfied that your country as done enough for you. Make your country earn your support!"
I expect JFK could himself have signed up for asking what he could do for his country (L'état, c'est moi), but not so much many other less privileged Americans (including myself). By what argument do such people ideate they have a right to make life miserable for, and to steal what little they have of life from persons who never hurt them? They should just keep their joy in suffering to themselves; isn't jerking one's own life around enough to keep a person busy and happy? It's not a level playing field when one side wants to live and the other side wants [you] to die. These people are veiled suicide bombers. Unlike such actors as the Pussy Rio rock band, they are not fun to watch.
Of course what I have written immediately above does not apply to the anonymous martyrs who sacrifice themselves for whatever reson(s) or lack thereof, such as the anonymous heroes of Chernobyl or the subjects of Elsa Morante's novel "History: A novel". It's easy to spot the difference: In most cases these poor schmucks get no individuated press coverage, and when they do get in the news, it's just as freak specimen representatives of the sociological class: citizen, not as named icons for eternal hagiography. I might be more motivated to self-sacrifice by these lambs of God who take away the sins of this world, than by the big PR hot shots like Gandhi and, of course, that college philosophy class matinee idol, Socrates (above right, bottom), both of whom, I think, would have benefitted from a day in a high end day spa + beauty shop, or maybe just a hosing down and some disinfectant spray. Did Gandhi really have to try to look like a shrunken human head or a baby monkey, or Socrates like an incipient victim of leprosy or some kind of self-important monster (his rich young male acolytes really found him attractive?)? These dudes would never have made it into Thélème -- although the former might have got into The Bronx Zoo and the latter into The Labyrinth..
As far as heroes are concerned, my fav is not any person, but a mother cat who went into a burning building 5 times to save her 5 kittens. She got them all. She got burned, and was saved with the kindness of firemen (it takes one to know one). After veterinary treatment, she was reunited with her little brood and she got adopted. That, for me, is heroism and a happy ending.
+2021.01.30. I read on the BBC that the freedom fighters in Hong Kong have a chance to get out and go to England now. England gave Hong Knog to PRC back in the last century; what did anybody seriously expect to happen to it? I think the freedom fighters should all get their damned asses out and be thankful for the opportunity to save themselves.
Alexei Navalny should thank his lucky stars that he dodged a bullet and survived Putin's poisoning him. He too should go to some country that would provide him with refuge. If he gets a long sentence to health destroying labor or killed by Putin's trolls, isn't he baiting the bear? But maybe that's what he gets off on, and in that case I think it's great as long as he doesn't try to take anybody else with him who wouldn't want to go without being invited. I like the attitude expressed on CNN by a Detroit Michigan RN during the Covid-19 pandemic:
"I signed up to help people. I did not sign up to die."