House On Fire: Normal Times?

Hemlock Club; climate crisis; corporate profits; relieve suffering; I am a petulant child; a dream; insomnia; Marcus Aurelius quote and mental foundations; corporatocracy; Putin apologists and MSM.

Forbidden Reading

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{4/2/22} Continued.

Today I finished reading Our House Is on Fire, which I read almost nonstop, with a four hour break for the Hemlock Club meeting today.  The notable events there included a group reading (me, Pablo, and Peanut) of three of my pieces:

  • The Derrick Jensen quote included here on 3/27/22
  • My “Doom, Camus, and Breakfast,” posted here today
  • My diary entries of 3/27 to 3/28, posted under the title “My Taoism

The pieces were well received, with the possible exception of the second—Peanut found it too depressing to continue after the end of the 4/1 entry.  But I urged her to read the last paragraph, which reads as follows:

In other words, I am like a child who has just realized that she will die, and that nothing she can do can change that.  What can be done with such a child except 1) to tell her that “Heaven awaits you”; or 2) to say, “There, there” as you pat her on the shoulder?  Or perhaps most effectively, “Look at what Puppy is doing!”

Our House argues against false hopes:  what’s needed now is to treat the climate crisis as a crisis.


Yesterday’s [diary] entry was terminated abruptly because I went looking for the actual quote about “crisis” in Our House, then decided to enter quotations in the appropriate file, then a conversation with Nog, and the evening was over.

Two hour conversation last night with Nog.  We mostly talked about my three pieces that were discussed (or at least read) at the Hemlock Club yesterday.  Nog did not attend because he is laid up with an injured leg.

Someone within earshot has a new, young rooster.  I anticipate much gnashing of teeth.

Now, to get back to the important subject:  what am I to do about climate change?  So far I’ve come up with two answers:  relieve suffering, and “Look what Puppy is doing!”  These are unlikely to satisfy me.  Relieving suffering is tiresome, and suffering is not easy to find or relieve in Bakersfield, given my limitations in time, money, and probation; thus I dismiss the unwelcome answer.  As for the second answer, “ignore it,” that’s precisely what I don’t want to do.  I am still the petulant child.

Can I live with being a petulant child?  Well, haven’t I been doing that all my life?  The problem is difficult, and I don’t like problems that I can’t solve.

The above screen capture is from an article by Sharon Zhang on Truthout.


A dream:  I am in an institutional setting, army or prison, in a kind of barracks, and I am in the top bunk of two.  Across the way I see a middle-aged woman with dark hair, carrying a board on which is a head that looks like her.  The head is moving slightly, as though settling down for sleep.  The woman sits down and puts the board and head together on the floor, half under a table.  Thinking that the head is mechanical, perhaps connected by Wi-fi to something, I say to the woman, “What’s up with the head?”  Then I am out of bed, standing, and the “head” gets up from the floor, it’s a full woman’s body, dressed in a long, vivid green, flowing dress or gown.  She, smiling, comes to me and hugs me, but as we come together there is a momentary awkwardness, as though she wanted my head to go to the right of hers, but I had put it on her left; but we hug each other.  She smells perfumed.  However, she keeps walking, guiding me backwards.  I say, “Where are you pushing or guiding me?”  That’s all.  I very rarely notice smells in dreams.

FWIW:  I woke about 3:15 am, had trouble getting back to sleep, so I read some in The Secret History of Jane Eyre, then, finding it difficult somehow and not enjoying it, I switched to Marcus Aurelius, which I had read just before “bedtime,” and read that for three full pages in the GBWW volume, which I have nearly finished.  It was more interesting than Marcus usually is, in part because of this quote:

“Where then are those men? Nowhere, or nobody knows where. For thus continuously thou wilt look at human things as smoke and nothing at all; especially if thou reflectest at the same time that what has once changed will never exist again in the infinite duration of time. But thou, in what a brief space of time is thy existence? And why art thou not content to pass through this short time in an orderly way?” p. 300, #31, Great Books of the Western World, first edition.

In the bottom margin I wrote in response to this, “A very different mental foundation! Dismissing permanence and tradition. What of Plato and Euclid? Or life eternal?”  In other words, to view all “human things” as “smoke and nothing at all” seems to me quite the opposite of what is natural to me, living my long years among more or less permanent persons and things; I even feel much like “me,” the “same” as I was in my thirties (though of course this is quite inaccurate).  I do not, of course, believe in eternal life, and Marcus doesn’t either.

After reading Marcus I went back to sleep and had the above dream.  I’d have gladly stayed in bed rather than get up at 6:00, but my bladder would have it otherwise, so I wrote this, always wanting to get my dreams written down.

Just before sleep last night, I noted two things in my Bullet Journal:  America:  a corporatocracy; a cancer of capitalism or capital.  And, the will of the people is ignored by the government.  Before bed I had watched 45 minutes of Part 5 of the Cold War Truth Tribunal [link to You Tube] on Pirate TV [link], a series recorded last year.  I’ve seen three or four previous parts, and it always rivets my interest, but I don’t think I’ve written about it here.

These people would be dismissed by CNN as “Putin apologists.”  In other words, CNN (where I saw this expression used) is pushing the official line, that Putin has gone insane, and the support he’s apparently getting from the Russian people, according to their polling, is dismissible as “skewed.”  I’ve no doubt that Pablo would fly into a fury at any statement that Putin might be behaving rationally, having been “provoked” by actions taken by the U.S.  Hence, I will not bring the subject up with him, because I am aware that Putin had been promised, by George H. W. Bush, that NATO would not be expanding into Eastern Europe, “not one inch further” than the eastern border of reunified Germany.  At least, this is the story I’ve heard from two or three sources, likely Noam Chomsky and perhaps Chris Hedges.  These are sources that I trust, but I have not taken the trouble to check it out myself.

That expression, “Putin apologists,” came as something of a shock to me, and it has persuaded me that MSNBC and CNN really aren’t worth much of my time.  I used to watch MSNBC up to four hours at a stretch on weekdays, almost routinely, but for a year or more I’ve cut that down to occasional attempts to catch the headlines and at least the start of Chris Hayes’s hour.  I long ago gave up on Rachel Maddow, as she seems to me often frivolous.

The real problem for me was brought forcefully to my attention, again, that the MSM are not giving the climate crisis the attention it demands, not by a long shot.  I’m referring to the Thunberg book.  The suffering of Ukraine, “in normal times” (which apparently haven’t existed, ever) would be the important story; but that suffering will be multiplied many times over when civilization’s collapse becomes everyone’s second concern, after their personal survival.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s