Archive for February, 2010

Honesty or lack thereof

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I find that the hardest part about writing is being honest with myself. I like to blame the other people that I imagine are reading this. I tell myself “don’t be so self-conscious”.

But the truth is, if I was writing something for my eyes only I don’t know if I could be any more honest. I don’t know if honesty is really the right word. I don’t really know when I am lying to myself.

I just know that every so often I look back on what I wrote and it really does not seem honest.

My last two post don’t seem honest to me. I wrote them because I am unhappy and I was trying to do something more than just complain or talk trash about myself. But they are so far away from what is bothering me that it is not even funny. And they are not even comprehensible.

I don’t know if I can fully articulate why I am unhappy. Part of it is the time of year. I always get moody around this time of year. But I don’t think dismissing it as a seasonal thing is the right thing to do.

I mean, granted, I always get moody around this time of year. But the things that bother me differ from year to year. Whatever those things may be, they always tend to be the things that bothered me throughout the year.

I guess what I am trying to say is that just because we are more sensitive to things at certain times of the year does not mean that we should dismiss them.

On the other hand, I am not sure if there is really any benefit in trying to articulate them.

A different sort of comparison

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Once there was this person who was not related to me and not as smart as me. Surprisingly, this person became my friend.

This is a rare occurrence in anyone’s life. In the first place, most people don’t have many real friends. In the second place, people rarely become friends with other people who are not their intellectual equals.

Those two sad facts would make the story of how this person came to be my friend amazing enough. But those two facts don’t even come close to capturing the obstacles that should have kept us from being friends.

For starters, when we first met I was mad at God and I naturally took it out on everyone around me. In all my life, I don’t think I have ever gone so far out of my way to not be nice and to not make a favorable impression. And to top it all off, I had already met this guy in a different context and I had not been favorably impressed.

But that is all a story for another post. The reason I mention it now is the contrast this fellow makes with my current boss.

You see, my boss is in the same intellectual range that I am in and he would really like to be my friend. But he does not understand me. And since he can’t understand me, he does not really know me. Of course, he likes me in spite of that. But then, a lot of people like me before they get to know me. Knowing me often changes their minds.

Yet another man without his intellectual gifts was able to both know me and like me. So I have been contrasting the two of them in my mind lately and thinking about all the ways they differ.

A comparisons test that most people flunk

Friday, February 5th, 2010

One of the worst things my current Boss ever said to me was “The best thing you have going for you is that you are such a gosh darn likable guy.” It is a lie of course. And what’s worse, it is a lie that my boss believes. Worse yet, he believes it in part because I sometimes deliberately foster the illusion that I am a likable guy.

At some point in my life, I learned that it was advantageous to make people believe that I was a likable guy. I learned that was the way for me to get ahead in life with the least effort. And I am by nature a lazy man.

Ironically, it is because of my laziness that relatively few people who have been around me for any length of time are under any illusions about how likable I am. It takes effort to disguise one’s true nature and I don’t like to put out effort for long. Indeed, for many people, I never even bother trying to make the effort. So my true nature quickly becomes apparent.

But my boss is not a very perceptive man. I don’t know how many years it would take for him to truly know me. I suspect that it might be impossible for him to ever understand me.

The ironic thing about this is that he is truly a likable man. He does not have mean bone in his body. Especially in comparison to me. But fewer people like him than like me because he does not understand people. This means that my boss cannot fake being something that he is not. And very few people like someone who is real all the time.

And for that reason, I don’t have much regard for what people like.

What I have been reading

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I have known for a long time that nobody really understands water. It pleases some evil part of me that something as common as water has stumped the best minds of men for so long. That confusion may or may not be over. Time will tell. But I still learned a lot I did not know about water’s weirdness from this article.

Speaking of water, it is now being blamed for 30% of Global Warming. Maybe this new bit of info will take some of the blame off the cows.

But my reading has not all centered around high minded things like water. I have also been following dark and mundane things like the rank fear that has been emanating out of Europe. It has gotten so bad that Hungary’s Minister of Finance is responding in full force to blog posts by Edward Hugh. Nothing against Edward Hugh, but when your country’s Minister of Finance fells compelled to address his arguments, you have serious problems. But as this Guardian article reminds us, Europe’s current problems are nothing considering what they are going to face.

Speaking of reading dark things, I have got some books by Gene Wolfe out of the library. I have seen his name splashed around here and there. But I don’t have much use for fiction these days. In spite of this, I was intrigued by the Wikipedia article about him. There was a lot of things that intrigued me. But they are all summed up in the first two lines…

Gene Wolfe (born May 7, 1931) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic.

I don’t think I would have given the “dense, allusive prose” a second thought if had been for the part about being a Catholic. Something about the Catholic faith seems to be good at creating or attracting people who really get metaphor and symbolism. It will be interesting to see if Gene Wolfe falls into the same category or not.

They Could Come Back

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Sixty seven years ago today, the German army surrendered to the Russian army at Stalingrad. That is still within living memory. But it might as well have been thousands of years ago.

Just about everyone pays lip service to that era. Some people even read about it. But who really thinks about that time long ago?

To think about it is to become depressed. It is to become afraid. Those are all unpleasant emotions. So no one really thinks about the German invasion of Russia.

The Germans could have won. Simply not invading Yugoslavia could have won the war for them. Many things could have won the war for them. That is a depressing thought.

What is even worse is who was fighting. You had Stalin on one side and Hitler on the other. The shear scale of what each man did boggles the mind. And it is hardly a great thing that Stalin won this particular conflict. He would go on to do many more horrible things. Any victory that left him in power could hardly be called a good thing. At best, it can be called the least bad outcome.

These are things that everyone knows. That is why nobody thinks about them.

To think about them is to realize that in seventy years the human race has not changed. What has been, could be again. And that is both scary and depressing.