The New Year’s Entry

From the paper journal

Cafe Paradiso, Eugene

I have with me a bag of books. I’ve ordered a cup of black coffee and I’ve picked u a copy of the Eugene Weekly. Reading the usual letters and political rants, I love them. It is true that I regard most of the rhetoric as spittle of emotion, yet the seed of that emotion is loved by me and the means of spreading the ideas are to be defended. Let loose the ideas, let them free, and tear down the walls of censorship completely. Let all read and write whatever they would like, whether it is Mein Kampf, or Kant or Dickens or Jackie Collins. If humans have any inclination towards an inherent understanding of fairness, and if memes compete for replication, and if our culture is one of meme spreading and creation, then it behooves us to spread memes and to let loose the artificial boundaries and influences.

Example- racism in the poor South. The economy is bad in most of the “backwards” South and new ideas are regarded with skepticism. Does any modern man still hold the truly racial ideas of white supremacy? I do not think this notion is as widespread as is believed. No doubt the racial memes have piggy-backed onto other memes; religion, uncertain social interactions (what do I do when I am confronted with a group of five black men? How do I act? And does does my reaction influence them? And how does the eventual behaviors reinforce my earlier assumptions about their behavior and my behavior?), and onto frustrations and fears involved with competition for scarce jobs and resources.

In reading a regular lesbian column in the Eugene Weekly, the author pauses for a moment in her writing as if to chastise imagined readers being stuck on a sexual metaphor she used. I wonder how many people would not have had the thought if she had not brought it up. I didn’t. I wonder if perhaps those being repressed (racially, sexually,…) aren’t propogating as much as they are receiving because even though the titilation of two lesbians involved in sex is real, she has never the less helped to spread the meme. It is like the parent who curses at teh child for cursing.

I soon reached the part in the paper where the Baha’i faith has an article. I find that I cannot read more than the first two paragraphs before setting it down. Nothing they have said is fact, but instead idealogical posturing written to appear as fact. The degree to which their ‘truths’ are false can readily be seen if one were to leave their home and travel the world a bit. The fetish of absolute national soveriegnty giving way? It is true that history doesn’t just happen, but it is happenings leading to happenings, and we may very well be in the beginnings of happenings leading to the absolution of national soveriegnty. But it is by no means clear and its inclusion into this statement by the local Baha’i is again only posturing. The article is ridiculous.

In reading If a Lion Could Talk I am prompted to return to some cogntive literature and review again Parallel Distributed Processing Theory.

Daniell Dennett is mentioned in the book, working on an A.I. project at M.I.T. Where does this name come from (what am I reading now with his name in it?), why does it ring a bell?
Page 68, referring to Mrgan’s Canon- they show how psychological processes far simpler than we had thought possible can account for observed behavior. Griffin’s equation of decision making with conscious, centrally directed thought seems more questionable than ever.

The prominence of distributed processing, of bottom up processing, of the amount of emergence and natural selection in our behavior is a continual antidote to me from falling into the warm and cozy traps of philosophers who have dug themselves a hold of logic from which they cannot escape. Kill the homonoculus!

Time for a fantasy…

Imagine a warm Summer’s night near the river, out away from the city. It is quiet and peaceful. I have with me my six year-old daughter. We have packed some snacks and a telescope and we prepare for an evening of stargazing. But before we do, we walk a bit, listening to the sounds of the night. Off in the nearby woods a hoot-owl calls. Ducks quack on the river and dozens of swallows dart through the dusky sky. Look! That one is a bat. Listen, do you hear the crickets? All of them chirping? Can you pick out two different songs? No daddy. I can’t either. But the female cricket can. She can tell the difference between a song from a male of her species from hundreds of other songs from different species of crickets at the same time. She’s a good listener. Yes she is. We walk along the grass for a bit before deciding on a spot to set up the telescope. Tonight want to show her the rings of Saturn. Not only that, but to teach her how to be able to find Saturn on any night by her self, like I could when I was a boy.

This is a good dream.

Insert a rough pen sketch of father and daughter looking through a telescope on a hillside, surrounded by a grove of fir trees.

A former dancer of mine now works here. I saw her a couple of weeks ago. She was looking for work, trying to realizer her goal of massage therapy and telling me of her ordeals in trying to find school and funding. I told her of a coffee shop that was hiring. This isn’t it, but en route to that one she stopped here. Now I watch her as she yells out the ready food and asks the patrons if their order is satisfactory. I am very happy to see her in the state she is in . I wish complete happiness for her.

At the Opera

Later , at the Eugene Opera production of La Boheme. I am unfamiliar with teh story, but only know that it is a very popular opera. I am in the 1st intermission and I loved, positively loved the first act. The expressions of love by Rodolfo and Mimi, with the beautiful music, caused great emotion to well within me, keeping my eyes ever on the verge of tears from the great joy of experiencing this wonderful opera. When the duet reached the part “love trembles in our kisses” I could not contain it any longer and tears streamed down my cheeks. Even now tears well in my eyes as I fondly cup the emotion in my heart as though it were a hot cup of coffee on a chilly autumn day. I love the ability to love the act of loving. There is great beauty here, and beauty is the purest of human creations.

It is now the second intermission. Again, I enjoyed what I have seen. Reading the program I forsee more tears of joy. My first New Year’s Eve in Eugene was at Rock-N-Rodeo and I had quit working there that night. Yet I came back, the First Night celebration failed to hold my interest, and spent it working for free alongside Danielle. Dani worked as the coat check girl and we spent two days together during Christmas in each other’s arms. I fell in love and a couple days later she seperated from me (whether she was spooked or she wasn’t over her ex-boyfriend or both) and my heart was broken. The next New Year’s Eve was at Divas where I ran the club on its busiest night yet and had lots of fun. Tonight, my third New Year’s Eve in Eugene, I plan at this moment to stop bya place to buy some wine before heading home after the opera. I ahve no desire to “party” and my heart is filled with longing for a Mimi. Throughout the room I see young beautiful women dressed in evening gowns. I am horribly underdressed, in black knit t-shirt, blue jeans, and black boots. I have no car and cannot spirit a woman away for dinner. Yet I have a heart that beats with such passion. What a rare woman it will be to capture my heart more than books and knowledge.

Third intermission. The tale is touching. How many of us can relate to the story of youth in love and struggling to get by? Ah… to quote Mimi in the third act… “to be alone in winter is worse than death“. Perhaps tonight I’ll give a call to my long time mistress of the past, Lady Lonliness and bid her welcome into my home. There can be a satisfying comfort in lonliness.

I am in a long line for the coat check. The dying of Mimi was very touching and salty tears streamed down my face. Naturalists have it wrong. The eye isn’t a marvel of evolution… for what compares to the human heart? If there be any indication of an intelligence, or being, behind the cosmos, this is the glimpse of it.

The elevator opened and I fought my way inside. It was already full from stopping upstairs. A heavy weight older woman who really should have a yipping pomeranian on her shoulder to complete the image barked at all of us against anyone entering the elevator. I alone got on, saying that I was just one person. As the elevator closed she still debated me, saying that they (the elevator crowd) had come to a committee agreement and that this wasn’t a democracy. I replied that it wasn’t, but was a dictatorship and that I was on the elevator. I am in a great mood and filled with love, but seen a car soak this lady (term used lightly) by driving through a puddle of water while she was standing on a street corner would be very satisfying sight indeed. And there is still room for three more people on this elevator!

At Home

I have a little under an hour before Midnight. I’ve opened up a bottle of white zinfandel. Usually not a choice of mine, but it is was all the gas station had (I generally like reds, particularly fond of pinot noirs of Oregon). I’ve already drained two glasses, hugged my little Pandora cat, and with the time ten minutes before midnight I re-fill my glass and head out the door again.

Walking three blocks I am just intime to see a crowd of people countdown to midnight near the downtown athletic club. I notice that not alot of couples are kissing. Yet this doesn’t curb my desire for a kiss. And secretly, deep within the chambers of my heart there is the hope that Fate, that often criticized idea that I fight so much against in word and deed, would smile upon me this moment and bring to me my own Mimi. It is this reason why I came out at all, for one cannot meet a Mimi sitting at home alone (though Rodolpho met Mimi in his home when she came to his room requesting a light for her candle). After a few minutes of watching the sights around me, absorbing the experience, I turned to go home. I was surprised at how much my mind was still clear, how much my eyesight was still clear, yet how my walking was suffering from the wine. I decided that it wasn’t actually the alcohol affectint it, but a psychological phenomena of my looking for problems in my walking due ot the alcohol, and the ensuing effects that this incurs.

I still have not said a word since midnight. I decided in my mind, for some reason unknown, that my first words in 2003 would be more significant. Walking by Cafe Paradiso I saw my former employee and current friend cleaning the outside window. I walked up to her, wished her a happy new year, and told her that if she got the chance to go see the opera on Sunday. As I was walking away, I remembered my holding out for something significant to say. Talking to a friend was as good as I could have hoped for and I was satisfied.

At home I noticed that there was a voice message on my phone that I had not noticed earlier. It was from Starla from the afternoon prior. She was wondering what was going on with me, why I didn’t call her back, and wishing me well for the new year. I called her back and left a much too long message on her cell phone. The wine is setting in good now.

Now that I am feeling fuzzy in the head, I believe that I will put some music on, perhaps the Coltrane for Lovers CD that I have, and finish the bottle and enjoy the kisses and promises of Lady Lonliness. She needs comforting also.

What an odd year to date… what a great life. I look forward to the rest of it!

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