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: Fickle Fiona takes over my dreams: Is being in a teen chick flick a dream or a nightmare?

Another day, another dollar, another dream. This one is much less excruciatingly, er, exhaustively detailed. And I make cranky complaints, too.

Another weird dream. But I waited too long to write anything down, so now I only remember some weird mention of BART, I think, and me as some sort of capricious Parker Posey-type character, and a roller coaster, and some weird teen-chick-flick romance dynamic with a sweet and humble guy, and then me being arrogant and flying/piloting a car off the rails and landing my party in some weird open-air apartment where the owner was about to come home.

I think that there were suggestions that certain people were people I know, just as there were in my last dream. But it's tough to tell, especially after showering and doing other stuff in real life. Note also that on Sunday night, I had discussed teen flicks with my friend Angel.

Once upon a time, Angel and I saw a really bad teen flick, the one saving grace of which was a scene in which the exuberant male lead, having gotten a date with the girl of his dreams, plays a vibrant "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" on his accordion. Oh, and the smart girl uses Salinger to some effect. We came in late, and I don't remember the title. She's All That? Loser? In any case, Angel informed me that Sugar and Spice was even worse than the accordion movie. Wow. That takes doing.

And, in the bad teen flick she and I saw, there was a capricious secondary female lead, the one our hero thought he wanted, and various thoughts over the past week or so had reminded me of her. More fickle than a movie-theater marquee. More arbitrary than a financial aid deadline.

And -- and here's the weird thing -- I was going through my out-box yesterday, and the very first email in my out-box ever on this machine was about this movie, and was the first real email I ever wrote to a person to whom I now write a lot of email. But about ten months passed between me sending that email and me sending my next email to him.

If a feminine-appeal movie is a chick flick, doesn't that create an obvious rhyming parallel for action-type masculine-appealing movies?

It's May Day. But my NPR station DJ notes the most important news, namely, that it's the beginning of National Bike Month! I imagine you can't wish a happy revolution to all the commies out there if you get government funding. Ah, but Morning Edition tells me that there are lots of labor protests today, all across the world. Even in nontrendy places. Good.

There is some sort of cruelty in assigning a paper at Berkeley, hotbed of activism, to be due on May Day.

Today is the anniversary of the capture of Francis Gary Powers, U-2 pilot, by the USSR. And just a little while ago was the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space journey, the first. Makes me glad to study Russian. Just think, if they'd kept up the good work, maybe I'd be speaking it already.

Hamlet. "This is not your grandfather's lumbering five-act Hamlet," the New York Times informed me of Peter Brook's new production. I always rather liked the old one. I see what he's trying to do, but I never believed I'd feel crochety about Hamlet.

Poll: Most Useful Language

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/1/104514/1325

: Comedy Night II: Canadian Showdown: No, it's not actually in Canada, nor is it a Showdown. It's another U.C. Berkeley Comedy Night, this one put on by SUPERB on Monday, May 7. I'll probably be there; you?

Yes, I borrowed the title from some /. headline this morning.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/2/153057/1075

: Hangman: I played Hangman with a random seatmate in California Politics yesterday. Political Science was the category.

judiciary, resolution, legislation, reapportionment, cabinet, elect, naturalize, parliament, farm. Farm?

"My term paper was on farm labor," he said.

His name was Brian. He was really good. I always forget that short words are harder to guess than long ones.

I know I dreamt last night, but can't remember about what.

I've been thinking about mediation, and lies, and James Morrow's stories City of Truth and Veritas (though I haven't read the first), and Plato, and guilt, and wounds, and vulnerability, and temptation, and pedestals, and proximity, and stubble and, if you will, the incredible triteness of being and feeling this way.

I have a random wound on my hand. It looks as though it's going to leave a mark. I think I got it this weekend, Friday night maybe, but I can't recall how.

Today is the last day of my DE-Cal class. It's going to be weird not teaching this Friday. But I will enjoy the leisure. I may invite everyone to an air hockey extravaganza or something Friday afternoon.

I imagine that if I began to play Dance Dance Revolution, every time I heard Eastern pop, I would think "up down left-right-left." It would have the analogous effect to Tetris and geometric shapes. When I played a lot of Tetris, I looked at the bricks in my family's fireplace and imagined games of Tetris.

I think it's funny that the backwards "r" in "Tetris" would be pronounced "ya," and as such, it's "tetyais." And "Toys Ya Us?"

Ask me to tell you about the cremains sometime.

Poll: Justice is

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/2/102453/1873

: Antics of the Russian Students: We played "telephone" in Russian. Of course, we made fun of the guy who's never there. "I saw him sleeping on the street in big red waterproof boots" turned into "I saw him sleeping with a big dog." "Boots" is suppogi, "dog" is sobaka, it's a mistake anyone could make.

Maybe this is how Gogol got his ideas.

Word of the week: Capricious.

Hamlet line of the week: As if increase of appetite had grown/ By what it fed on.

Movie lines of the week: "The jury will disregard counsel's tempting allusion to Christmas shopping."
-Remember the Night
"All I want is to be a cowboy and to wear pants."
-Destry Rides Again

All Things Considered is thirty years old this week. I used to listen to NPR a lot more when I had a more regular schedule, back in high school. I still try to catch the headlines and the funny little bits at the half-hour of Morning Edition.

I wish I'd kept playing the piano or the trumpet. I gave up on them when I was little. I could start again, but I don't want to make the time. But right now I imagine that it would feel less trite to make music than to write bad poetry to try to express my feelings.

Poll: Most annoying aspect of high-school poetry

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/3/145615/1111

: The Nut That Didn't Crack: I may, in fact, be a figurative nut. But at least I haven't figuratively cracked.

Air hockey and boredom, on today's "brainwane."

I've decided to try to be content with what I have.

"All Your Base is the Silly Putty of memetic technology." -Alexei, during an extraordinarily fun lunch yesterday with Shweta, Dan and me at Mario's La Fiesta.

All my finals are crowded together in the last days of the finals period. I think I have one per day scheduled for three days, straight. Great. Well, at least I get to slack off for a week or two before cramming for them. Tennis, anyone?

In truth, I enjoy air hockey more than tennis. Partly because I'm better at it. And today at 3 pm in the BearCade, in the student union here at the UC Berkeley campus, I'm holding an air hockey extravaganza to celebrate the end of the semester, the academic year, and especially my DE-Cal class. Come on by! Come on, leave work early, skip a class, and come play air hockey while being blasted by Japanese pop from the Dance Dance Revolution machine. It'll be fun.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/4/141833/3360

: The funny: Is "the funny" an ideal? Is it a perception? Is it the manifestation of The Good? Is it a transaction of some sort? An accident of juxtaposition? Why is it that sometimes two people can agree on, say, which of two jokes is funnier, and sometimes not? Ah, I don't think I really care. But I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh.

People have different reactions to things they find funny. I, myself, tend to guffaw really loudly, which certainly draws attention in computer labs and restaurants, and which I hope doesn't bother my friends and acquaintances too much. Some people just smile, laughing to themselves silently. And I'm sure there are some people out there who don't react visibly *or* audibly. With each step of self-restraint, the jestee further frustrates, discourages, the jester.

I love a good laugh. I think one of the signs that a person is trustworthy and honest is a good laugh. Because, come on, *I* laugh more like a movie villain than real villains do. I think real villains just crack a smirk, or maybe nothing at all, since they are very aware that allowing others to see any of their real emotions gives others power over them. Ugh, too many pronouns, too little energy to go back and fix it.

Anyway, I just enjoy seeing and hearing people responding to my everyday attempts at entertainment, even when I'm not on a literal stage with a literal microphone. Yes, there's probably some neurosis at work here. I just hope it doesn't get to the point where my need for that sort of attention gets in the way of otherwise healthy relationships with friends who just don't slap their knees at my knee-slappers.

Poll: I am

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/6/2136/36222

: Got your nose!: The game in Russian today was "Find the Nose." The history grad student cut a picture of a nose out of a magazine. Someone left the room, the other students hid the nose somewhere, the seeker came back in, and the other students gave the seeker clues so's s/he could find it. Very droll.

Poll on the moral of Gogol's short story, "The Nose."

Poll: The moral of the story is:

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/7/142621/3334

: Episode I: The Summer Begins: End of classes; woo-hoo. Finals approach; no woo-hoo. Finals still a few days away: woo-hoo.

Turns-on: Proper pluralization. Turns-off: Plagiarism.

More randomness follows.

I, like Seth, am not a vegan yet, though Berkeley certainly makes me feel as though I should be.

The Fresh Robots were completely astounding and hilarious when I saw them at the Punchline Comedy Club in San Francisco on Monday night. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Looks like IUMA, the Internet Underground Music Archive, is 'back from the dead.' And I'm glad. Over half my xmms playlist came from IUMA.

I have been called "perfect," in some form or another, something like fifteen times in the last two days. Wow! I hope my graders agree.

I think that WarCraft, and games like it, are just trying to make related-rate problems fun.

Quote of the half-week:"Wait, you've got it! No floor! Free-fall! Nothing can go wrong in free-fall!"

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/9/214728/2775

: Slouching Towards Beth El, Hmm?: Very little to say, and I'll go ahead and say it. Today: My friendship braid is neither eternal nor golden, but it's neat nonetheless. And I've watched a bit on the telly, what?

I watched "The West Wing" last night and really enjoyed it. I watch it every week, and strenuously avoid any other television, except that yesterday I saw some European news show. I found out that the weather in Germany might be less-than-pleasant soon. Mwa-ha-ha.

I love hanging out with intelligent people. I can't believe that I've become so lucky as to come to Cal and meet all sorts of interesting people. I can even trace how a lot of it happened.

  1. I moved into the same dorm as Mike, Seth, Michelle, Dan, Kenny, and all sorts of other people.
  2. Mike introduced me to his colleague Anirvan.
  3. Dan and Seth played pool together in the lounge as I watched. Seth explained to Dan and me what this whole free-software thing was about. "Do you ever read slashdot.org?" Seth asked. Dan and I both said, "What's that?"
  4. Slashdot pointed me to Segfault pointed me to Leonard.
  5. I saw Darin standing in Dwinelle Plaza with a "this shirt is classified as munitions" t-shirt and complimented him on it.
  6. Dan introduced me to Sunil, who introduced me to Lia and Steve and Aaron and Laura and the Fresh Robots.

Pretty much the only person here who doesn't fit is Alexei. I have no idea how we finally met. Maybe through Darin? Many of my friends already knew him before Alexei and I met. He's the hub of many acquaintance wheels, the Charlotte in the middle of the web.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/10/142418/401

: Weird Al brainwaneovich: Wow. I've gotten used to cleaning, or maybe it's just that I've cleaned up my apartment so many times in the last few weeks that I haven't had time to get it *really* dirty again, so it isn't taking that long.

I love Weird Al. "Even Worse" is my dishwashing album.

See, I'm coming home from work but I forgot my address
I'm half an hour late for my algebra test
Then, some slimy alien jumps out of my chest
Then I'm falling and falling and I guess you know the rest

Mike Parsons gave me "Even Worse" in lieu of paying back a fifty-cent loan that I kept harping on. This must have been in seventh or eighth grade.

I'm socializing tonight with new friends and old. Mostly new.

Finals approach, and I'm sort of halfheartedly working on a paper on Destry Rides Again, a 1939ish film starring Jimmy Stewart as a Wild West lawkeeper who uses less-than-orthodox methods to get his way. I think it would be interesting to watch that in some sort of movie night with Stagecoach and Moulin Rouge, the new Nicole Kidman flick. All these pivotal prostitute characters, all sympathetic, all sort of soft-on-the-inside-hard-on-the-outside. Of course, I'll probably be talking much more about the weird half-pacifism, half-vengeful anarchy that Destry Rides Again seems to espouse. I'd welcome comments from anyone who has actually seen this rather obscure flick.

It seems that every time I clean, I find that I have more books. This shouldn't surprise me, since I'm the one who buys them, but it does. Hard Times by Studs Terkel, the Hermann Hesse-like The Witness by S.L. Bhyrappa (which I recommend), some random hard-bound Plato, two little paperbacks by Stanislaw Lem that I haven't barely started yet. Purple Dots by Jim Lehrer -- yes, that Jim Lehrer.

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot:

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Poll: Best media experience

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/11/155744/384
Filed under:

: I like to go out dancing; my baby loves a bunch of authors: Title: an homage to my new favorite band.

A very good weekend. Some discoveries and such, in brainwaneWatch 200[1].

I had a great deal of fun, on purpose, this weekend. My classes are over for the [academic] year. I could kick back some, and I did. It was amazing. I had forgotten how relaxing it can be to not even have access to homework for a day or two.

Stuff I learned:

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/15/125631/301

: People who don't know me can disregard this: That is to say, people who don't know me in person could probably safely disregard this. Information, I've read, is the decreasing of uncertainty. I don't know if that definition applies, but in any case, this will be much more informative to you if you know me outside the Net.

A relationship of long standing has ended. It was almost three years old.

I do not want to talk about responsibility. And although we were very close, and loved each other (although the last few months have given me much cause to try to figure out what exactly that means), we were no longer suited to fulfill each other's needs.

I'm sorry.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/17/133729/209

: Funny lines from my final: I took my last finals of the semester today. I turned in an extra-crappy paper for my "1939" class, and took my "California Politics" final, and now it's over, the whole semester, the whole year. And I'm listening to Moxy Früvous, and I have all the time in the world to read all this stuff I've been wanting to read, the P.G. Wodehouse and the Martin Gardner and the Gibson/Sterling, and instead I feel kind of alone and possibly just starting down a path of pain and emptiness, so I'll post these funny lines from my final.

Note that I was not setting out to be the class clown of California Politics. I was just emotioned out.

"After apportionment comes redistricting, as after rain the sun."

"Not an election year goes by that the citizenry doesn't vote yea-or-nay on some whack-ass initiative."

On attempts to stem the tide of harebrained initiatives: "But ... there will always be rich people with zany schemes (cf. horsemeat initiative)."

On a proposed scheme to tell voters systematically, via a note in the ballot pamphlet, the probability that a proposition will be found unconstitutional and overturned by the courts: "Voters get more information, writers of inits. get more cautious about writing whack-ass propositions with messy legal implications, and its costs seem negligible. It's a win-win-win situation!"

"... an across-the-board split down the middle ..."

On wedge issues: "Our two-party system requires that each party, like Walt Whitman, be large and contain multitudes -- of opposing views, that is!"

And: "Pete Wilson is the poster child for the use of immigration as a wedge issue."

I'm all right, right now, which is all I can ask for, right? And my friends have been more help than I had realized they would be. Thanks, guys. Being busy tomorrow will help a lot.

Poll: Best Moxy Früvous song on "Bargainville"

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/18/42116/2620
Filed under:

: Fun, fun, fun, till daddy takes my independence away.: "So puns have a slight aphrodisiac effect on me."
"You mean they turn you on. Come on, use street language."
"No! We are not on the street. The street is over there, beyond that plaque that says, 'You are now on UC property.' And so we are still on campus, and so I will use academic language, not street language, and so I will say that it has a slight aphrodisiac effect."

All the fun and sadness I've had for the past 72 hours or whatever. Marketing that makes me shake my head in shame. P.G. Wodehouse. Oh, and candy.

Some people don't like Red Hots! The sweet and spicy little cinnamon candy. How can this be? Red or black licorice, I get. But Red Hots? Goodness. Well, at least I haven't run into too many people who dislike chocolate. Yet.

Hogwarts, the academy of witchcraft and wizardry in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe, apparently (according to merchandise I saw over the weekend) has some sort of pseudo-Latin school motto. Hey, Latin scholars! What does Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus mean? Which, of course, reminds me of a Monster.com ad I saw in a BART station (the SF Bay Area Underground/subway/metro) on Sunday. "Carpe better jobium." Aaargh!

If you pass by a Barnes & Noble's, such as the one on Durant and Shattuck in Berkeley, and you resist your natural urge to resist this manifestation of the homogenization of middlebrow culture, then you might go in and see a Scholastic (kids' publisher) book display. And you might see the abomination that is T*WITCHES. Combining the teen-girl wish for a twin and the trendiness of superficial Wicca rebellion! The slogans are:

Radically Different. Identically Powerful.
Twins. Witches. Exactly.

Exactly what? As Leonard said, "Twins. Witches. (That's a stupid idea!) Exactly."

Note that I am not calling Wicca superficial. I'm just saying what you probably already know, that for a lot of kids the idea of Wicca is a trendy little tool for rebellion, and not a really sacred way of life. They wouldn't know what the Rede was if you beat them over the head with it. It's not superficial, but some people treat it superficially, and I'm pretty sure that this wannabe kids' series is trying to ride that wave.

Again, Aaargh!


So I've been reading Wodehouse off and on for a few years now. As with my new favorite band, I wish I'd discovered Wodehouse seven years ago. Wait, maybe I did. Anyway. I finished Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves over the weekend, and found it good, but not as virtuosic and enjoyable as Right Ho, Jeeves, the other Jeeves and Wooster novel I've read. I have recently realized that, in everyday life, I talk more like Jeeves and Wooster than like any other characters in literature. I'm not sure where the causality is there. In any case, I'll be starting Bertie Wooster Sees it Through as soon as I finish or get bored with The George Orwell Reader, which I got over the weekend and which, coincidentally, contains Orwell's essay, "In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse."

OK, "Fresh Air with Terry Gross" is going bye-bye, Moxy Früvous is sliding onto the acoustic deck.

I got back that research paper of which I wrote here about three weeks ago, the one about naturalization rates among Indians in Silicon Valley. It's always great to have your grader tell you that you understated the strengths of your methodology.

A day or more after the final:

"So? How was the test?" -professor
"The test was fair. You, sir, are not." -me

I suppose I've been delaying talking about my emotional state. Well, it's changed. I kept really busy this weekend -- lots and lots of socialization. And, to quote Calvin of Bill Watterston's Calvin and Hobbes, The Days Are Just Packed! And I didn't really feel sad at all, except for brief flashes and memories. But then yesterday I talked on the phone with the person with whom a relationship recently ended, and who told me that I am still a good person, and that triggered something, and I cried for the first time since that dissolution.

I guess I was blocking the pain, and now it's arrived, and George Orwell wrote about the experience of poverty from his life in Paris. From Down and Out in Paris and London:

And there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs -- and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.

And, from Moxy Früvous's quill, in a song about heartbreak and getting over a breakup:

He thought about his life, his heart began to rush
He buried the crown, found a bucket and a brush
BJ paints town!

Perhaps I did things backwards. What else is new? Sun Rises, Analysts Stunned, as Segfault will say someday.

Poll: I want x in my life, where x equals

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/22/124043/134
Filed under:

: A short announcement-entry: I'm feeling low, what with the end of the school year, running out of chocolate, and having too much boring stuff to do. But at least I have fun friends. Funny how the two people I'm hanging out with the most these days are people I met not twice two months ago.

Wrote a Segfault story, combining my middlebrow love of Shakespeare with everyone's favorite error messages. Other people seem to think it's good. Check it out.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/23/152741/933

: The Most Recent Picture Show: I saw part of a movie, I read some stuff, I looked at some art, I gotta clean.

I went on Tuesday night to see Satyajit Ray's movie Charulata at the Fine Arts Theater at Haste and Shattuck in Berkeley. Ray is probably the most famous filmmaker ever to emerge from India. (He is Bengali; Anirvan gloats about that, playfully.) But I was so tired that I fell asleep in the middle of the film, so I only saw the beginning and the end. Good stuff, that which I saw. I should probably see it for real sometime.

So now I haven't seen any of the Important Indian films. I really want to see the more recent films by Deepa Mehta -- you know, the ones that were so controversial in India that theaters that were showing it got bombed by fundamentalists. Fire and such. Fire tackled lesbianism, empty marriages, etc. Funny: just as some Christians say that "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," some Hindus say that "God created Rama and Sita, not Radha and Sita."

I've read more of The Orwell Reader, begun P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster Sees it Through, and read through the most recent San Francisco Bay Guardian. In the SFBG, Annalee Newitz writes a thoughtful article on the problems in deliberately trying to connect or separate sex and love. Annalee certainly seems reasonable, in her own way.

I really like potato salad.

I went and saw some art yesterday. Whenever I set out to Look At Art, I feel uncomfortable because I always feel uncomfortable pronouncing judgment, or commenting in any way, really. I feel underqualified. And then I wonder whether it's okay to feel that way. I'm not even sure what I like, and why. As you can tell from a few of my recent diaries, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about art. I mean, thousands of smart people, more, even, have devoted their lives to this idea. It must have some sort of merit. And I get some sort of pleasure from various aspects of experiences and objects, aspects which I might call "elegance" or "beauty."

I'll just stick to creating comedy and nonfiction text, perhaps, in which I have some grasp of the criteria that I share with peers. I'm not sure about music, or visual media, or movies or TV -- maybe I can just try to take one piece at a time.

I helped out some French-speaking tourists on BART today. I believe I was marginally worse at understanding them than I was at understanding Dimitrii, the Russian guy I met on BART five days back. Four high-school years of French, followed by three college semesters of Russian, plus a lifelong exposure to Kannada -- you can understand how I got pretty mixed up in trying to listen to the French speakers.

I need to clean. Perhaps what I need is to invite people over to my place, so that I will then feel ashamed of the mess and clean it up.

Art is...

Originally posted by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2001/5/24/161037/165
Filed under:

: A short heartache: I have very little right to accuse anyone of "selling out." But a throwaway parody bit on the topic still touches me.

I'm not a baby boomer. I'm in college right now. And as such, I really have no standing to speak of to accuse anyone or any group of 'selling out.' In that context, I still feel a disheartening pulse go through me when I listen to the Capitol Steps' Bob Dylan parody, "Like A Suburban Drone" (also available at capsteps.com in RealAudio and Sun/AU). People in this live version are laughing. Some have been drinking. When I first heard it, I wanted to laugh. Now I don't.

Maybe I need to get out of Berkeley.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/24/17362/4267

: Cold comfort: I'm racing against a clock to clean, which I really don't want to do. Er, that is to say, I have to clean my apartment by the end of the day. But there is some cold comfort.

Some thoughts on consent.

That Vermont Senator's defection. (Jefford? Jeffords?) Great stuff. This is why I love politics: loopholes.

And the knee-slapping understatement of the week, from holeburning: "It's hard to be less hip than Andy Rooney." Funnier-at-the-moment statement by same: "I'm not a hard-core Libertarian. I like roads, and schools."

I have reliable advance info that a soonish diary entry by Seth will contain a reference to one of my recent entries.

I received two books that I had wanted -- Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. And now I'll have time to read them.

So why do I feel so mediocre? My mood, my abilities, my willpower, my ethics, everything.

Seth, Annalee Newitz, Alexei, and I -- and I don't think any of these people have ever met each other -- agree about the centrality of the problem of informed consent in current thought. Ms. Newitz, basically, asserts that the informed-consent panacea -- for sex, but the implications go much further, to contracts and beyond -- means nothing if people delude themselves, which they do regularly. And if I am interacting with others and want to make sure that I am not being unfair towards them, and I think I am, but they say I'm not, do I trust these delusional people, or trust my own deluded judgment? Poll:

On consent

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/25/143650/340

: The Heartbreak Of St. Petersburg: All of a sudden, I have a sense of style. No, it's not sudden. It's just surfacing. I hesitate to either say that it has sprouted, or that I was pushing its head down with my foot till I decided not to drown it after all.

"Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise." -- George Orwell, "Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool," 1946

Mutually non-exclusive choices:

  1. I'm very young
  2. I'm very foolish
  3. Orwell was wrong
  4. Orwell exaggerated when using the word 'imagine'

(I'm heading off to Russia in a few weeks. I'll be visiting St. Petersburg for almost two months. If there's anyone reading this who lives there, I'd love to meet you for a cup of coffee or something while I'm there. The first image that comes to mind is myself, wrapped in all sorts of parka and muff, shivering in the snowdrift. But of course I know that's wrong. The average temperature during the summer in St. Petersburg oscillates between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It snows as much in St. Petersburg in June as it does in Stockton in June.)

I've been reading Orwell. I just drink it in. The fiction, the nonfiction, everything. And it's like what I hear dancing with an incredible partner is like: he anticipates my counterarguments and almost always addresses them satisfactorily. Such clarity, such rigor. This is one of the authors who makes me want to create something as worthwhile, something as substantively good as the work I read. Something that people will experience after I die and express some gratitude that I ever lived.

And maybe I'll never do that.

I get so many habits from my parents. I react out loud to movies and television and the radio, sometimes to others' annoyance, expressed or unexpressed. I shirk work, delay it as long as possible when it's something boring or unpleasant. Sometimes it never gets done. And sometimes I talk too much, and don't let others expletive-gerund concentrate.

The thought is slipping away. I had so much to write, and now it's dead, because I couldn't get to the computer soon enough. Goddammit!

I wanted to get here and write something great, something expressive, and something -- goddamit, will people ever stop saying stupid things so loud that I have to hear them so that it ruins my concentration?!

I just want to go back into my room, and listen for the sixth time to Moxy Fruvous's Live Noise, and make that connection again between the live version of Video Bargainville and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. More specifically, the weird love-of-decay-and-death I sense in the exuberance of the crowd in the live recording of Video Bargainville, and the jaundiced hatred of life that Orwell sees in Swift.

I saw some television today. My reaction startled me. Every time I get some TV after not having any for a while -- I mean the bad stuff, the daytime muck, the prolefeed on the networks -- my reaction startles me. I'm getting pickier and pickier, and/or the stuff I see is getting worse and worse.

I'm troubled by the Supreme Court decision on Casey Martin, the PGA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and with the TV coverage I saw of the ruling. I feel uneasy that a private organization can't keep its rules as it likes. The television coverage focused on the debate over whether walking, sans cart, is "an essential part" of the game, when it seems to me that perhaps the relevance of a private organization's rules is not the most crucial point. And then the home-schooled-kids-in-spelling-bees piece was horribly biased and puffy, too. Am I seeing more? Or is ABC World News Tonight actually telling less than it told when I was in high school?

I cried the other day while reading Orwell's account of his experience in the Spanish Civil War. (An excerpt from Homage to Catalonia appears in The Orwell Reader.) He wrote that his few months in the militia, in the force against fascism, were immediately trying and frustrating and irritating, allowed him to see a vision of humanity and of the hope for a classless society, "the idea of equality." And I cried at the possibility of clear-eyed idealism, at the combination of passion with analytic rigor.

Perhaps I would rather make art than have children.

No, maybe not. Over the course of my life, perhaps I will do both. But right now, I think I'd rather write one great book, or short story, or poem, or just an epigram, than ever risk tormenting a child through inconsistent, moody, selfish parenting. Perhaps I'm just fighing the last war -- oh, is that description too general? (Ha ha.) I'm sure you can read between the lines.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/5/30/03633/2584
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