Monday, October 25, 2010

A Flight of Comorants

It is not unthinkable to propose that any given person's, say for example, musical talent, lies along a gradient. Some people are naturally very good musicians, Mozart probably being the best example of one born with supreme innate musical ability. Similarly, some people are good ball players and some people are not.

I would consider that the ability to change your mind also lies along a spectrum. At the upper end of such a scale there are people who change their minds quite easily as new evidence presents itself. Scientists do this. And at the other end of the scale there are people who cannot change their minds at all.

Such people may even be able to hold two contradictory ideas at once in their heads; even their own beliefs will not persuade them to change their thinking. We all know such people. We see them on television all the time. Often we put these people in positions of leadership in political or religious matters.


Your fellow citizens do not all like you. Sorry. Some of them would slit your throat for fifty bucks; others might do so just for kicks. They do not care that your children receive access to education. They would ship your job overseas to pay a third-world laborer mere pennies if they could. Many already have. Of course there are some nice people. Like nurses, who generally are a supportive and social lot. But aren't they the exception?

We seem to villify and hate one another. What's the point of even having a country if we are all behaving like self-centered greedy little monads? The very idea of having a country for such people seems ridiculous. I have to wonder if "countries" even present our species with evolutionary disadvantages. All the better for us to kill one another off.


Consider this news:

"A 9-year-old boy was flown to a hospital after he was found lying unconscious in a street in Gilbert Sunday afternoon.


It was unclear whether the other occupants of the car knew the boy had fallen out or if they had left the scene."


Cross Bayou Elementary School is just down the street from the hospice that treated Terri Schiavo back when that was all over the news. A man called the school one day during the protests and said that he was going to hold the entire school hostage and kill a young student every ten minutes unless feedings were resumed for Schiavo.

School officials just couldn't take anymore and over that weekend they abandoned Cross Bayou Elementary.

Things are back to normal there now.


Hilary Hahn's new recording of the Higdon concerto, which was written for her, coupled with the Tchaikovsky. Talk about talent. This music is a treasure. I'm especially fond of the Higdon. If you knew me, you would already know that.


We had brunch yesterday at St. Francis. It was excellent. Outside and down a few seats from us a hipster and a young woman were getting to know one another. "I feel sorry for people," I said to my spouse, "Because they have to get to know one another. It's so much easier with a person when you already know them." The orange juice was freshly-squeezed.


Nursing stuff:

We were in the car waiting at the corner of 19th Avenue to turn onto Camelback. A woman staggered through the crosswalk in front of us. She looked to be about fifty, or maybe thirty-five-going-on-fifty-five. Her blue eyes stared blankly ahead. "What's she on?" my spouse asked me. "Probably just alcohol," I replied.

When a staggering middle-aged alcoholic woman looks at the sea, how does she look at it and what does she see? Is the ocean a repository of memories for her? Does she, like Citizen Cane, see Rosebud? or does she see herself merely drowning?

"How do you look at the sea" is the question I silently ask of the patients I work with.


Girls surfing in Gaza.

“What do you wear when you swim in America?” she asks. I hesitate before replying, “Not much.”

Rawand nods sagely. “When you surf in America, do people stare at you?”

“No,” I answer.

“They do here,” she sighs.

Surfing in Gaza. That is so cool. It might just save the world.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

worked at a hospital where a right to life battle was won by the family to turn off all nutrition (if such a thing can be a "win"). The number of outsiders who were shipped in and PAID to strap themselves to columns in front of the hospital and harrass patients and families of patients were disgusting.

They had no interest in the tragedy of this girl's death, or the tragedy of her persistant vegetative state, or the sadness of her parents, or the sadness of her caregivers of the last 15 years. They just wanted their few minutes on the national news.

I think I should go surfing in Gaza.

wunelle said...

Your good deed for the day: introducing me to the Higdon concerto! I am unfamiliar with all elements of this phenomenon (well, I do know of Hilary Hahn).

I wonder a lot lately at the concept of the social collective. I didn't used to consider those whose views did not align with my own as being evil or malign or criminally stupid; I used to rue the hatred spewed by the right wing media machine and to take comfort in its exceptionalism.

But I find I hate some people now in a way I never used to. I think there is a growing segment of our citizenry who embrace things which are manifestly untrue, and this embrace is imperiling all of us. It seems like emotional, fear-based appeals in the pursuit of power are triumphing over the very baseline of rationality. I neither understand why people embrace the anti-rational nor understand how I might see things differently.

And more and more I fear it all reflects badly on me.

Been There said...

To live and live well is the answer. Let's surf. No one can argue with that.