Friday, February 18, 2005

The Best Thing

Life is far too short, not to mention filled to the brim already with the pettiness of reality, to ignore certain fine things of life. Indeed, the 'best things' are often those that bring us closer to those around us, and allow us to see them and all the surrounding pettiness differently. Though he does not describe as I do here, Pat is right about the necessity of a good wine -- not to mention whisky and/or beer. Good wine doesn't always have to be expensive. In the 'best' wine is that which you want to savor. This is why cheap wine leaves you feeling shitty the next morning, because your body knows that the only way to dispose of it is quickly. The Pascual Toso Malbec he mentions is such a wine, and a fine value. It is a bit more expensive, though not overwhelmingly so, but if you can find yourself a nice 2000 or 2001 Brokenwood Shiraz, you will also be doing yourself a favor.

What other 'best things'? Is life really complete, for instance, without Krzysztof Kieslowski's Trois Couleurs series -- the unparalleled fusion of music to film in Bleu; the dark, humiliating humor of Blanc; and the truly stunning vision of fraternity and hope in Rouge? I'm not sure.

'Best things', however, are too often overlooked or forgotten. Sadly, this has been especially true of the novels of Russell Hoban. Do not make this mistake ... find yourself a copy Kleinzeit tonight, and read it aloud to nobody in particular.

Talk to the Hand

This is one of the best articles I've read in quite some time about masturbation -- which is to say, it is the only article I've read about masturbation in quite some time. Nevertheless, it is really good, if only to learn even more euphemisms for one's self-love.

A bone (hee!) of contention, though:

Clearly, jacking off remains taboo in our otherwise liberated, open, sex-saturated society. Most people who perform the five-finger shuffle aren't likely to talk about it. Never mind that men and women might be comfortable discussing everything from muff-noshing to prick-licking, ass-fucking to fist-fucking, felching to rimming, and flogging to water sports; more often than not, the topic of jerking off is forbidden. People tend to dance around the subject rather than dive right in, feeling embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, or just plain squeamish about their own enjoyment of what some see as a lonely art.

I'm not so sure this is the case. Most people I know -- though perhaps it is just they -- are more than happy to admit their masturbatory habits. The key, rather, is that most people don't want to talk about the masturbatory habits of others, and when they do it's mostly because of a fetish and not the product of a sexually-liberated society.

Update: Something I meant to emphasize here but didn't was that the problem is not simply that people don't want to think or talk about the masturbatory habits of others, they don't want to think or talk about the possibility of them doing it either. The crusade for clean television, for instance, is said to be about protecting children; but in the end, this protection only comes in the form of denying others the possibility of sexual titillation. Just another product of people being afraid of others enjoying themselves, literally in this case, too much.

Monday, February 14, 2005

On Being a Prick

Why do you think being an obnoxious prick is so often the defining symptom of both stridently fundamentalist religious belief and ardent atheism? Is it a product of their respective senses of certainty ... their ability to believe the actual consequences of their convictions (whereas most of us give ours the most token of acknowledgements). Or, rather, is there an inate prick in those who are drawn to either religious fundamentalism or atheism?

Such are the questions that keep me reading idealist philosophy. Since its 19th-century proponents were almost all pricks of various theistic and atheistic hues, I figure they have a certain insight that will help me, one whose religosity / irreligiosity is admittedly idiosyncratic and subject to fluid redefinition, function in gainful society.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A Blast From the Past

I remember it as though it was yesterday. A little less than a year ago, as some of the long-time readers here might remember, I received this rejection notice from an academic journal of some repute:

This essay strikes me as exhibiting the worse [sic] sort of postmodern theological jargon. Way too many sentences and paragraphs are just indecipherable, with the apparent intention to make it sound profound. There are some interesting nuggets about Las Vegas, but these are just facts that have little do with the essay's aim. The author started with an interesting idea in terms of connecting the wager of Pascal and the wager of a gambler in Las Vegas, but the actual exposition ends up making both sides of the equation less clear, rather than more. I wouldn't encourage its revision . . . though perhaps its translation into English! [my emphasis]

Would that I could write about Pascal and theology and gambling like this this wanker, and I'm sure Mr. Anonymous Reader would've been more kind.