Italo Calvino is the man! He’s right up there along side Danielewski and Borges for me. He’s awesome and the stories that he writes are what I wish I could write if I were to take that ambition seriously. I just finished his “If on a winter’s night a traveler“, and bloody hell did it rock. As extroverted (and introverted I suppose) as “House of Leaves” and as much a love story as “Only Revolutions“. Essentially a book about reading (or at least the attempt to do so) and all the different situations in which reading and interpreting come in to play. It’s awesome. Awesome awesome. Definitely recommended to anyone with off the beaten path tendencies.


I can’t deny it. Money is an issue right now. I’m paying for a car, education, and life in general. Basic storyline… I’m very contientious about my finances right now.

So here’s what the issue is: I was in a wedding party early on in the summer. I forget when exactly, when I was even more poor than I am now. Doing so required that I rent a tux, an expense of $120 I think. Fortunately for me (because I don’t have the money) my housemate Aaron picks up the tab. He can be good like that (for reference, we probably both owe each other money but haven’t been overly concerned about keeping tabs). So I owe Aaron $120. Unfortunately for me, Aaron owes his brother more. So as the debt market seems to be an active one, my debt is sold to Aaron’s brother. This is bad.

I’ve slowly gotten this tab down to $30. But that little brother has been a terrible nag about it. Every other day it seems, “got my thirty bucks?” And it’s always no. Until I have a more stable financial situation, I’m the furthest thing from worried about a $30 tab to my housemate’s little brother. And besides, “having” $30 to give him is quite different than having a bank balance of $30. Money had does not mean money available. But now he’s threatening to charge interest.

But here’s where I sort of surprised myself with a cohesive argument against his ongoing threat of interest.  Flat out I told him tonight that if he attempts to raise the tab by charging interest I will deny owing him a cent. I explained that he had absolutely no right to charge any interest. Owing an individual (or any group for that matter) an amount of money does not automatically entitle one to exact fees and/or interest when that money does not get repaid on that person/group’s timetable. Unless before the money was loaned there was an explicit agreement of time to repay and interest/fee schedule, no right can be claimed for that purpose. No right exists. And to that end, I will hold my ground… owing Aaron’s little brother $30 and knowing that I have to repay him. But without rise in balance for any reason (not even inflation) or any timetable whatsoever.

Interesting position.

ps. In case he’s reading it, the only cards left are Friendship, Future Lending, and Dishes… with the last card in my favor.

Edit Sept 15, 2009. I see the shallowness of my behavior, despite being wrapped up in ideas worth pursuing.

So how do you psychoanalyze someone who isn’t there? If all you’ve got is a bad taste in your mouth from years past, a resistance to deal, and two books? And what if those two books are “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and “Old Man and the Sea”? What conclusions could you draw?

I’m thinking we’ve got to dig into these books.

Consider the first. Zen tells me that we’re dealing with severe repression. The fact that the main character suffers from split personality and that the good half might in fact be the repressed half. Hard to say exactly, but it seems then that the psychoanalyst would say that my subject is suggesting from the subconcious level the actual condition. The guise would be the surface level distractors: zen, motorcycles, the question of quality, good literature, etc. What seems to be lacking is the 50k volt destruction of the condition.

Moving on to Hemingway. It seems to be rather vague. Even if I consider it within the context of the first book, all I can come up with (and this is very loose) that the subconcious repressed good personality has tried to emerge, but no longer has the capactity to do so. Seems to make sense.

And when I said psychoanalyst I don’t mean to suggest I’m going to get into the whole castration issue. It seems pointless and I already think that Freud is nuts enough, stuck on the issue of sexuality when raw human desire is much more at the forefront (just not as immediately appealing).

From here, I don’t know where I will go. But I think it was good for me to get it down, regardless of who actually understands what I’m doing. This is important, and it has to be done eventually.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who claimed to be searching for some sort of answer. Our conversation revolved around where did we come from (because of the up front conclusion that the Bible is bunk) so the answer supposedly being sought was also involving cosmology.

What I encountered was the firm belief that this individual was operating with an open mind, and thought only closed minds accepted what they read or were taught.

I don’t think I argued this properly or clearly enough, but what I was trying to get at with her was that you can’t say you are working with an open mind and then say you won’t accept any systematized truth as being the answer. If you do this you are working with as many artificial rules and boundaries as those who seem to buy into that “false” sense of truth. The way I’m perceiving this situation – if truth presented itself, no matter the form, this open-minded person wouldn’t accept it. The “doubt everything” perspective seems to look like a genuinely inquisitive and searching point of view, but in fact it is as blind as someone following an incorrect teaching.

(messed up graphic but it works for now)

I am not arguing for any particular cosmology at the moment, but I want to argue that when one has an open mind, they cannot rule out anything until they have rigorously determined that falsehood… and even then they have to be open to the fact they might have been wrong in their estimate.

I want to know how to inoculate a mind (my own included) against the arrogant self-interest of thinking that I will know truth when I see it yet not have to analyze a thing. A simple question can be useful to test if one is convinced of their own ideas, which is fine. But if one thinks that those simple twisting questions will determine for themselves the truth, I just don’t see much success for them.

Colloquium on Violence and Religion

I should have posted this a while ago. I’ve attended once, and would love to be able to attend the upcoming Europe conference. The thing about this stuff though, it’s hard to grasp. But once you get it, it’s so simple and so blatant. It’s everywhere between everyone. Rene Girard is an amazing thinker, who has brought together some very disparate threads of discipline and made an amazing body of theory out of it. Read up if you want, or ask me for suggestions.

I’m looking for something simple to help me with an upcoming project. I need:

Ways people interact in a city setting. The more controvertial the better… and when I say controvertial I mean situations that can be interpreted in multiple ways.

I spent the afternoon with an author friend of mine first at Barnes & Noble and then at some tiny Hungarian restaurant right on Elm St (Lala’s). I probably traumatized the girl on the espresso machine at B&N because I ordered my favorite – grande vanilla very dry cappucino with whole milk – which seems to take them forever because they seem to use the Starbucks method of frothing the milk. But it came out really good. Props to them for putting up with me. Then came the Hungarian place, where I had a dopio out of a styrofoam cup. Good stuff. It was a little cold, and Dr. K wanted to sit outside, but it was completely tolerable. Plus I love to people watch. Anyway, I hit on a good idea out there which I will share on here once I get some progress under way. In some ways it could be slightly novelish, though my intention is more exploratory than narrative.

UPDATE: I’ve received a couple suggestions already and wanted to toss them out there for examples of what I’m looking for.

  • homeless person asking for change (chris g)
  • elderly crossing the street (chris g)
  • car accident / near car accident

Oct 20 – My brother ships out to Iraq.

Doubly painful in that Krystal and I were going to see him Oct 28 for a five day vacation. Our first multiday vacation ever. And now that’s scrapped. Even if we still went down there everything would remind us of the person we were supposed to be seeing.

Be safe bro. Remember – two flak jackets and three helmets at all times. I wore my seatbelt for you, this is the least you could do for me.

And to everyone else… my brother is a superhero.

UPDATE (16Oct@6:11pm) – Since posting this my brother has received news that he is not going… again. It’s hard to be content with the fact that I have a brother who wants (for understood and the best reasons) to be deployed to Iraq and yet seems to be caught up in the eternal red tape of the military. With everything going on, you’d think that this would be an easy thing… someone wants to go, so they send them. But no. And all this confusion is causing chaos to my social calendar. Rrr!