Every week there is a batch of leaflets produced by Daf Hashavua leaflets delivered to my places of worship. It contains 4 short essays that are linked to the Torah portion of the week. Last weekend the editor Rabbi C. Gross included an article titled: "Change does not Come Easy"
In this article Rabbi Gross quotes the verse:
"A man or woman shall separate himself/herself (yaflee) by taking Nazarite vow of abstinence..." (Bamidbar 6:2)
A Nazirite is someone who has taken a vow to abstain drinking wine, cutting one's hair or coming in to contact with a corpse. This time period is 30 days.
"Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (d.1167) suggests that the word yaflee actually means 'does a wondrous act'. Based on this, according to the understanding of Rabbi Yerucham Liebovitz (d. 1936) the Torah is giving us some useful advice about how to approach changing our life habits..."
The act of wonder is changing one's habits in a small way. It's considered ground-breaking and praiseworthy.
Anyway... it's about time I made some New Year resolutions as it's almost June. So I figure there are about 6 changes to make habits between now and 2014.
Three habit changes that are active/doing, e.g. add 231 gates meditation to daily practice, do 30 minutes of calligraphy practice twice a week and attempt to visit the Inner Library once a week. Three habit changes that are passive/stop from doing, e.g. stop going to bed after 2 am, no longer spend excessive time surfing the web, only buy a new book on Kabbalah in Hebrew once I have finished the previous one.
What Did The Protagonist Miss? After a long absence, Hollywood screenwriter and Friend of Venture Todd Alcott is back at his old game of analyzing episodes of The Venture Bros., and, completist that he is, he's hell-bent on catching up with everything he missed. Starting with, weirdly enough, 2003's pilot episode, "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay." Check out his website HERE.
Not “callout culture,” not Feminist critique, not having people criticize my work — those were all things that happened to me that convinced me that my way of practicing it was wrong. So I did what a scientist does — I modeled it. In my head. I absorbed the basic structure and then tried to resolve all of its internal consistencies. This was project my brain labeled “becoming a perfect Feminist” and the way it worked was
The result of this neural program? Any problem you have with Feminism is a problem with YOU. If you have a problem with the truths of Feminism, Feminism isn’t wrong, you are wrong.
My hypothesis? Feminism recapitulates phylogeny. Feminism is structured this way because of the way it developed.
The first problem of Feminism? Physical. How do you keep good people in while bouncing the hostile pricks that want to derail everything? [A good model for this is the Battlestar Galactica, which was designed in such a way that the Cylons couldn’t use the human's tech against them] The next problem? The biases of its greatest champions. [A good model for this is YOU, what biases and prejudices did you bring to Feminism that you learned were just flat out wrong? How did Feminism give you a better grasp on why those with more societal pressures behaved the way they did?]
Why are alarm bells going off in your head? A system built to solve the problem of authority will always default to that question when it is scared. “Problematic” is a defense mechanism that functions much the same way “evil” or “bad” does, and it utilizes the same mental structures. Humans need two modes: Friend Mode/Foe Mode. Friend Mode assumes everyone sees the world the same way we do, Foe Mode disengages the verbal faculty (the last part of the brain to be added and therefore the most vulnerable point of defense) and treats information/behavior from that source as irrelevant to possibly damaging.
If someone is hurting you, you do not need to give a shit why they are doing it. If someone is your buddy, you want to know why they do things, how they operate. This is why everyone who has been in Feminism for more than 3 seconds is problematic. When we fuck up, our words stop mattering, in a real way.
But I don’t need my verbal faculty to show you Feminism, I can model it for you. This requires a moving image, which not all of you can look at but which I will model for you verbally and put behind a cut.
The Gif is of a Stadium Kiss Cam. The couple in the center goes through this motion over and over again: he is on the phone, she tries to draw his attention to the fact that they are on the kiss cam, he dismisses her, she dumps a drink in his lap in disgust. Over and over again this motion is repeated, as if in a dream. Since the people around them in the visual field are also viewing this action they each respond to it:
An old white man flashes a look of disgust.
The woman next to him has a blank expression.
The woman next to her looks shocked but proud.
A woman of color in the back stands up and claps
Another woman of color in the back scoots forward, enthused
The man of color next to her looks confused.
The older man of color a few seats over from him claps
The woman in the front row looks anxious and distracted, then shocked.
A little blond boy behind the central couple smiles.
The more intersections a person has, the more likely they are to react to disrespectful behavior in a visceral way.
The woman in the front row is shocked because she wasn’t watching the action, she was focused on what she looked like because she’s fat. The expression she has on her face is the thousands of eyes she feels on herself at that moment.
The woman next to the old man cannot afford to incur his wrath by showing outward support
The young man of color in the back is thinking that was a little much, but he doesn’t flash disgust
The older man of color applauds
The younger women of color both move forward
The little boy smiles.
[The Gif is below, it is a moving image but does not contain flashing lights.]
The problem? The stimuli that prompted these reactions looks really fucking fake. The only people I don’t believe in this gif are the couple in the center.
Why does this matter to you? Feminism as it is practiced now is highly, highly, highly predictable. Anything that can be predicted can be controlled.
The second in a short series of posts marking
Richard Wagner’s two-hundredth birthday, which arrives tomorrow.
What better way to celebrate Wagner’s
bicentennial than with a Belgian-Norwegian mash-up of several of his most
famous hits? Granted, there are more solemn ways of commemorating the birthday
of the man whom Auguste Comte de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam once called “a genius
such as appears on the earth once every thousand years.” You delve into the the occult mysteries of “Parsifal,” as Richard Brody did on this site a couple
of months ago; or try to explicate a single moment in the mammoth “Ring,” as I did in a New Yorker
essay in 2011; or wrestle with the dark question of Wagner’s posthumous
relationship with the Third Reich. You could ponder Thomas Mann’s 1933 lecture “The
Sorrows and Grandeur of Richard Wagner,” or read Willa Cather’s piercing story “A Wagner
Matinée,” or become engulfed by Tony Palmer's eight-hour film “Wagner.”
Or, of course, you could plunge into the music itself, whether by way of a
historic recording (Wilhelm Furtwängler’s “Tristan und Isolde” and Joseph Keilberth’s 1955 “Ring”are
two of the greatest) or a DVD (there is no finer Wagner staging on film
than Patrice Chéreau’s “Ring” from Bayreuth). Not much Wagner is being played
live in America this week, but there’s a huge wave of events in Europe, including an
Afternoon Coffee Party in Leipzig, the composer’s birthplace, and a street
party in Bayreuth, the seat of Wagner’s festival of himself.
That’s all a bit heavy for a birthday, though;
let’s have something lighter. After all, Wagner did possess a rather antic, clownish
personality, and although he entirely lacked a sense of humor about his own
work he provoked satire and silliness almost from the first moment he stepped
onto the public stage. Even those who worshipped the Meister often found it necessary,
as a way of retaining mental balance, to puncture the aura of solemnity that
surrounded him. In that spirit, I’ve assembled a few
Wagner send-ups and pop adaptations going back a century and a half.
In the video above, the Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra,
based in Norway, plays a swinging arrangement of “Wagneria,” written in the
twenties by the Belgian jazz pianist Clément Doucet. The Pilgrim’s Chorus from “Tannhäuser”
is the main source, but you hear also hear the “Parsifal” bells (right at the
start), Siegfried’s sword, and the Song to the Evening Star. Here is the
original, recorded in 1927:
This was hardly the first bit of Wagner foolery.
Jacques Offenbach lampooned Wagnerian “music of the future” in the “Symphony of
the Future” section of his “Carnaval des revues,” of 1860:
For the Philadelphia centennial celebrations of
1876, which I mentioned in my “Walking Tour of Wagner’s New York,” the young
John Philip Sousa wrote a fantasy on national airs that ended with the “Star-Spangled
Banner” done in Wagnerian style. One can’t help thinking he did it with a smile
on his face:
from the United States Marine Band's recording The Heritage of John Philip Sousa, Vol. 2. For more on Sousa and Wagner, go here.
Many French composers of the late nineteenth
century were deeply under Wagner’s spell, making regular pilgrimages to
Bayreuth. While their appreciation was profound, they liked to perform the
defensive gesture of deflating the cultish atmosphere at Bayreuth, not least
because of resentment of the German Empire in the wake of the Franco-Prussian
War. In 1886, Emmanuel Chabrier produced a four-hand-piano piece entitled “Souvenirs de Munich,”
a quadrille on themes from “Tristan." This idiomatic orchestration is by David Matthews:
A couple of years later, Gabriel Fauré and André
Messager put together “Souvenirs de Bayreuth”—kudos to YouTube user musicanth for the accompanying image:
Debussy inserted a “Tristan” quotation into “Golliwog’s
Cakewalk,” here played in a creative arrangement for twelve saxophones (see esp. 1:18):
Here’s another irresistible Doucet number, “Isoldina”:
And here is a dazzling take on “Tannhäuser” by
the stride pianist Donald Lambert (thanks to Ethan Iverson, of The Bad Plus,
for bringing this to my attention):
At a rather lower level is Stan Kenton’s “Ride of
the Valkyries” (with a tip of the hat to Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press):
We cannot omit Bugs Bunny:
In 1974, Peter Schickele, better known as P.D.Q.
Bach, wrote a piece entitled “Last Tango in Bayreuth,” for a quartet of
bassoons. Beginning with a loungey revision of the “Tristan” prelude, it’s very
much in the spirit of the French Wagner take-offs, and, silliness aside, it has
a wistful beauty all its own. Needless to say, bassoonists have gone to town
On that note, happy birthday, master magician.
May it be a day of highest bliss.
Thank you IASFM! I did win a prize here at the Nebula Awards Banquet, but it wasn't a Nebula . . . Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, gave me a nice certificate saying I won the Reader's Award for Best Poem. That was "Future History," a triolet that appeared in the February 2012 issue.
Let me see whether the line breaks can be preserved . . .
They climbed the sky on a ladder of flame, who aimed toward the distant stars.
More than a thousand years ago -- they claimed They climbed the sky on a ladder of flame.
Never got to Mars. Only left their names there on the Moon. Who remembers they climbed the sky on a ladder of flame? They aimed toward the distant stars?
The Intervision Song Contest (ISC) was the Eastern Bloc equivalent to the Eurovision Song Contest. Its organiser was the Intervision, the network of Eastern Europe television stations. It took place in the Forest Opera in Sopot, Poland.
The detail that caught my eye was
The competition had an interesting way of voting. Because lot of citizens did not have phones, viewers would turn on lights if they liked the song or turned them off if they didn’t like the song. According to load experienced on the electrical network, points were granted accordingly to each contestant.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
Also, of course, we formally invested Gene Wolfe with the title of Grand Master. He was gracious and touching in his speech, which is of course no surprise at all.
I am delighted to say that my final Nebula Award ceremony as president went along swimmingly, with Robert Silverberg as our emcee. I got to introduced Bob and give him some good-natured ribbing; he got up and dropped a house on me, which may go down as one of the highlights of my time as SFWA President. If you ever get a chance to get zinged by Grand Master Silverberg, I highly recommend it.
Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to the other most worthy nominees, and many thanks to the volunteers and other who made the Nebula Ceremony, and indeed the entire Nebula Weekend, possible. It was a great time. As a fan, I was thrilled. As the President of SFWA, I was relieved.