Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Out of Sheer Rage" - not the least bit political

The perfect life, the perfect lie, I realised after Christmas, is one which prevents you from doing that which you would ideally have done (painted, say, or written unpublishable poetry) but which, in fact, you have no wish to do. People need to feel that they have been thwarted by circumstances from pursuing the life which, had they led it, they would not have wanted; whereas the life they really want is precisely a compound of all those thwarting circumstances. It is a very elaborate, extremely simple procedure, arranging this web of self-deceit; contriving to convince yourself that you were prevented from doing what you wanted. Most people don't want what they want: people want to be prevented, restricted. The hamster not only loves his cage; he'd be lost without it. That's why children are so convenient: you have children when you are struggling to get by as an artist--which is actually what being an artist means--or failing to get on with your career. Then you can persuade yourself that your children prevented you from having this career that had never looked like working out. So it goes on: things are always forsaken in the name of an obligation to someone else, never as a failing, a falling short of yourself. Before you know it desire has atrophied to the degree that it can only make itself apparent by passing itself off as an obligation. After a couple of years of parenthood people become incapable of saying what they want to do in terms of what they want to do. Their preferences can only be articulated in terms of a hierarchy of obligations--even though it is by fulfilling these obligations (visiting in-laws, being forced to stay in and baby-sit) that they scale the summit of their desires. The self-evasion does not stop there: at some level they are ashamed because they realise that these desires are so paltry as barely event to merit the name of desires and so these feeble desires have to take on the guise of obligation.

--from pp. 126 - 127 of Out of Sheer Rage [Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence] by Geoff Dyer

It's been several vacation days of not-really-reading but I read this bit the other night and found it somehow relevant to some things that had been discussed earlier in my friend's kitchen. Typing it out now, a few days later, I see that it's really a very bitter attitude / perspective / view of humanity that Mr Dyer has, and I find myself wondering which of his friends had children and thus ruined their relationship with him. That notwithstanding, however, I think that he's got the root of the matter in him: much of the time people embrace their excuses [not the word I want]--those circumstances that interfered with their ideal existence--without being willing to admit that that's what they're doing. God knows I am aware of my own tendency to stack up obligations; now I have to ask myself what it is that I'm denying in doing so.

Anyway, it's an odd book, is Out of Sheer Rage, but I'm enjoying it while also wondering how it's possible that I'm reading yet another work of non-fiction. I've not been myself, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The vexations of the modern world

I had a plan to get a few things accomplished this evening, I truly did, and that seemed like a sign that maybe I was emerging, if only ever so slightly, from the state I've been in for just under a week. Oh, 6:45 p.m. PST, of November 8th; how I miss your hopeful outlook. Oh, it might not have felt hopeful at the time but, comparatively speaking, it was. I was still playing with being worried about the outcome of the election; the horror had not truly dawned as yet. My first thought on waking Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday was, "Trump will be president." On Sunday I made progress: it was my third thought. But it's not been cheery in my head, even as I recognize just how privileged my head is.

 Tonight, though, I was going to log my miles for Ride in the Rain and then create this cheery little post that was to segue from politics to events in the yard. But alas. I changed my Luum password while at work a week ago and now I can't remember what that new password is and the work server seems to be taking a break so I can't change the password again so here I am, back in the pre-election land of first-world problems. How I've missed being vexed by things that don't matter a damned bit. But I'd still like to log those wretched miles.

 After devoting a few hours of Saturday afternoon to shifting the geraniums into the garage for the winter (because, despite it feeling like a "now we can swim any day in November" sort of winter, there is talk of snow in the lowlands this year. We'll just see about that.), I made the rounds to pick what remained of the roses for what I assume will be the final bouquets of the year. But then, I've thought that before. Still, this seems pretty nice for November 12th:

While I wasn't entirely surprised by the roses, what with seeing them every morning I shift Bessie out of the garage, I was startled to come across a handful of raspberries while setting out some peanuts for a persistent squirrel on Sunday.

They were not, sadly, the sweetest or most flavorful raspberries I've ever had but given that they were there at all, doing their best to suggest there is hope in this wretched world, is something, right? Oh, the more scientifically inclined might suggest that it's not a good sign that the primroses are rioting in the kitchen window box, the camellias are showing flowers, and--well--I've got these late-appearing raspberries, but I say phooey to such an attitude. Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad; raspberries in November are a gift from the gods.

Monday, November 7, 2016

There's no bunting, like snow bunting . . .

 I spent most of last week, if I have my days straight, in Banff attending the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, and it was a very good, educational, fun, and possibly even blog-worthy experience. But that's not what has motivated this evening's brief return to blahdeblahblah land. No, I am here to post a few photos from today's expedition to Discovery Park because it's in Seattle's own Discovery Park that one can find a snow bunting this week and, well, SNOW BUNTING!!! Life bird, for those who care about such things (and possibly I am such a person), but more it's such an adorable, sweet, obliging, and worryingly seemingly defenseless and unaware sort of bird. I post its photo here and just hope and hope and hope that it soon finds its way to wherever the rest of its friends are wintering and that it's not killed by a dog or a coyote or a hungry raptor.

 It was, as it happens, a lovely day for a bike ride. After biking up to the Junction we bussed to downtown and then rode along the waterfront, through SAM's sculpture park, Myrtle Edwards, and Terminal 91 into Magnolia and up the tedious incline to Discovery Park. Once at the park we studied the map to work out a route to the stairs down to the North Beach.

Possibly what we really wanted was the South Beach but, well, we just didn't know. En route we encountered a woman with binoculars who told us that yes, the snow bunting was still around, just beyond the lighthouse and then, near the lighthouse, a second woman with binoculars who gave us very specific directions to the bird itself. It truly was just off the path.

After admiring the wee creature for a good long time we retraced our steps, eventually climbing back up those 200 stairs (I counted on the return) and then rode back downtown, admiring the various sights as we went. Seattle, you may be stuck up and pretentious and not as clever as you think you are, but I adore you, with your mountains and waters and parks and birds, birds, birds.