Diary, 5/11 to 5/12/22: a call to action; Chomsky quotes; a mystery speech; where are they? A dream of mistakes; Hidden Tombs of Memphis book; politics or fiction? Fiction.
Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved
Excellent call to action from Counterpunch, titled “It’s Time to Step Outside the Killing Confines of Official Politics” by Paul Street. It’s about the imminent demise of Roe vs. Wade. Here’s a quote:
How has the Democrats’ timeworn practice of telling every[one] to just keep calm and funnel all their energies into voting (for Democrats) worked out for women, workers, people of color, and livable ecology? The authoritarian sexist, racist, imperialist, and ecological nightmare unfolding before our very eyes within and beyond the US provides a sharp rebuke to the ‘Election Madness’ (Howard Zinn’s term) that has for so long crippled liberal, progressive, and Left activism in the US.
From Noam Chomsky today, in conversation with C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout:
The most recent IPCC report made it crystal clear that if there is to be any hope for a livable world, we must stop using fossil fuels right now, proceeding steadily until they are soon eliminated. As you point out, the effect of the ongoing war [Russia-Ukraine] is to end the far-too-limited initiatives underway, indeed to reverse them and to accelerate the race to suicide.
I provide this quote and link for those of my readers who might be thinking that I’m “pessimistic.” Educated Americans might recognize this statement (the words are not Chomsky’s, he is quoting someone else):
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Know these words? They’re from that well-known commie pinko Dwight D. Eisenhower. Please forgive the heavy sarcasm. Eisenhower was U.S. President from 1953 to 1961. He gave the speech three months into his presidency; it is idealistic and could be called naïve. The full text of the speech is available here; for background on the speech, see Wikipedia. As of this writing, I haven’t read the speech; it’s available in sound recording here (runs 27 minutes). I’m listening to it now. A downloadable MP3 file is available here.
Back to Chomsky:
Consider Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox: In simple words, where are they? A distinguished astrophysicist, Fermi knew that there are a huge number of planets within the reach of potential contact that have the conditions to sustain life and higher intelligence. But with the most assiduous search, we can find no trace of their existence. So where are they?
One response that has been seriously proposed, and cannot be dismissed, is that higher intelligence has developed innumerable times, but has proven to be lethal…
I’m not going to keep quoting this important interview with Chomsky. Please read it. Here’s the link again, explicitly: https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-to-tackle-climate-our-morality-must-catch-up-with-our-intelligence/. I’ll stop preaching now, that is, for today.
A dream: I was crossing a street when I saw that the countdown on the “walk” signal had reached three seconds, but I was only halfway across. I did something with my legs that increased my speed beyond the slow shuffle that is my normal top speed, and hastened across. Someone I knew was on the corner. Then I turned left and was crossing that street when I saw a bus at the corner and I hurried for a moment, thinking it was my bus, but I realized then that it was a school bus with a line of children waiting to get on. I said to the other, “I thought for a second it was our bus.” Somehow I had an area of blacktop to cross to get to the bus stop (I was no longer at the corner), and as I began across I saw a bird standing there, and I took it for an owl. Then I saw that it was just a pigeon that had been standing erect (for a pigeon) and fluffing its head and neck feathers, thus making the outline more like the “big-headed” shape of an owl. I said to the other, “I thought for a second it was an owl.” At this point I woke up.
I don’t recall ever making such mistakes in dreams before. Who the other person was, I don’t know, but I think it wasn’t Pablo—the only person I can recall ever hurrying with to catch a bus.
I woke this morning shortly after 3:00 am and tried to get back to sleep. Near 4:00 I gave up and got up for a book, The Hidden Tombs of Memphis [: New Discoveries from the Time of Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great, by Geoffrey T. Martin, Thames & Hudson, 1991], which is about an archaeological expedition to Egypt that covered eleven seasons. I read the Preface and part of the Introduction, then went through the book page-by-page, reading a little about the pyramidion from some pyramid that had been taken to Scotland in the 1700s, but late in that century had disappeared; all that remains to Egyptologists is detailed drawings of the four “pyramid faces” (my term). I compared the drawings and saw that they were in pairs, with similar groups of figures on each pair. The book has many black-and-white photographs of walls showing figures and hieroglyphics, which got rather monotonous, and just a few color photographs, several of coffins. I remember that the second part of the expedition was a search for the tomb of Maya, a royal high official but not a Pharaoh; like the pyramidion this had been uncovered and described, but later was lost. The search was successful.
This book is of only marginal interest to me, though given the amount of time I spend watching videos of Egyptology on the National Geographic channel, I probably “should” read it. That’s unlikely to happen. So the question becomes, should I donate it? I have no answer this morning, but I suspect that within a month it will be gone.
Last night I decided that I need to get back to writing fiction; in part I am inspired to this by reading the Highsmith diaries. Anyway, I’ve been spending my days, especially yesterday, reading things and watching videos on the Internet, then writing about the more interesting of them here. To what end? Of course I want to be informed…but given that my politics are very much out of the norm, and that such self-education is only likely to cement my opinions further, I have to question this use of multiple hours of my day. It may be “important,” but it’s not “productive.”
Indeed, the writing I’ve done about “politics” will be of no interest a year from now, even to me. Of course, wringing my hands about “no writing done” later will be, if anything, aversive. So, as seems to happen about once a month these days, I want to change direction.
Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved