Monthly Archives: June 2004

Sweet Suffering Madness And Confusion

Okay, yeah, so I didn’t say anything yesterday. And I don’t have much time to say anything to-night, as it’s five minutes to midnight…! *grin* Yeah, I know, I forgot again. Who asked you, anyhow? At least I’m trying! What are you doing with your spare time and energy?

How’s that for a cryptic title, by-the-by? Yes, it does mean something. No, I don’t have time to explain. Deal.

I did a KAOS volume yesterday and have just finished another to-night. That takes me up to 38 and I’m now thinking of stopping at 48 or earlier. I don’t want to rely on too many obscure tracks on the last few disks–I need to keep up the over-all level of recognition and radio-friendly quality in order to make them seem a contiguous whole. These two seem to play well, but I’ll leave that to the jury.

To-morrow morgen I might be meeting my pop for breakfast, provided Bear-Cat is not too sick. He’s getting old (16) and quite sickly, and pop is determined to keep him alive for as long as possible. I can’t say I blame him; I wish I’d done more for Missie in her last year. She got old at a time in my life when I was too distracted by learning to work and deal with people professionally and wotnot, and I just did not spend enough time with her. No time for regrets, though.

Damn, but I have so much that I want to ramble on about and I have several things I really want to rail against and rant about… I need to get on a regular schedule for this thing, that way I’m always going to be able to do what I want. Hmmmm…. Me, on a regular schedule? Gods, but those are hard to start! Still, I’d like to start soap-boxing more often and this seems the best place for that, eh? Must get better organised…

Okay, I’d better get onto something else… I need to get to bed soon. Stay out of trouble, kiddies.

“There are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature.” -Stephen Stills

Tips And Tricks

Tip Number One: How to tell if you’ve had a migraine. First, identify the location of the pain. If it is on one side of the head only (e.g., in the left temple), you’re on the right track. Second, examine the nature of the pain. If it is a piercing agony that makes you hit the floor and scream, you’re getting warmer. Bonus points if the pain intensifies whenever you move your head. Third, review the duration of the pain and consult this handy guide:

    1. one-two hours: just a headache, yo
    2. two-four hours: sounds like a bad headache, but still probably not a migraine
    3. six-ten hours: if all of the items above fit, and it’s lasted this long, you almost certainly have a migraine. Congratulations.

Finally, if the pain lasts into the next day (i.e., for more than 24 hours), you win the special prize–a day in the life of Liam Maher, super-genius and frequent migraine recipient. Sucks to be you, eh? *snicker*

My theory: My brain’s just too big to fit inside this puny human skull. I blame the morphing process that helps me to blend in amongst Earth-people; The Controllers should have given me a larger frame. As it is, if I read or talk too much, I have to remember to slow down and give my brain time to expand and contract slowly and naturally, just as it would within the flexible skull that my real body possesses. This reduces the likelihood of sudden dramatic swelling and intense pain.

    Disclaimer: this is not a scientifically-verifiable claim and relies upon several key assumptions (the first being my alien physiology, obviously). *ahem* On to something else…

Anyroad, I am clearly not in the mood to rant right now, though I had planned to do so. Perhaps to-morrow whilst I work on David M.’s computer. Not only do I still owe the universe my anti-Reagan polemics, but I was also thinking of sharing some of my recent thoughts on the modernity / post-modernity conflict, particularly as expressed in the Habermas / Lyotard debates and in the writings of Foucault. I expect this rant will achieve an even lower readership than my Reagan-bashing. *grin* We all know that I’m really just talking to myself anyhow, eh? Humour me, world.

I am now going to climb into bed, eat a bowl of iced cream, and watch another episode of Battlestar Galactica (thank you, David, for the flashbacks!). Don’t you wish you were me? I know I do…

“The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself; that which denies itself the solace of good forms, the consensus of a taste which would make it possible to share collectively the nostalgia for the unattainable; that which searches for new presentations, not in order to enjoy them but in order to impart a stronger sense of the unpresentable.” -Jean-François Lyotard

Carry On… Nothing To See Here…

Yeah, so I just saw the Moore film with Robin & Mr. Bear. My commentary will await another day, as I have things to do before my brother’s house-warming party & his wife’s baby shower, both of which are to-morrow. That and David M. just loaned me the Battlestar Galactica box set, so… I have to watch something from it and revel in my mis-spent youth (ahhh, the days before I grew too old and cynical to appreciate the idiot box… *grin*). Seizure!

“The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.” -Michael Moore

Oh-So-Lazy!

Well, not really; I’ve actually kept pretty busy. I haven’t done much on the Web site, though. I have two more volumes finished for KAOS but I’m far too lazy to update the track listing to-night. Maybe to-morrow. I’m also thinking of finally putting my CV on-line. I had planned to do so three years ago and never got around to it. Of course, I was originally going to set up a separate business site using my .com address and my CV would more appropriately have gone there. Instead, I have toned down the language a little and minimised the polemics (trying for a ‘R’ rating, instead of an ‘X’!) and gone with a single site for the time being. I’m not motivated enough to develop for this one; I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up two sites at once! *grin*

Anyroad, so the CV idea now comes back to me because Haddie has decided to post his. He also found an old electronic copy of mine (I had lost it when my file server died) so I’ll be able to recover the letters of recommendation without having to re-scan them. Now I just need to remember how to take a .pdf apart… *grin* I’ll probably add it here soon, though, as it’s a nice idea. The letters are fun to show off, too! They’re pretty damn complimentary. What I think I’ll do, however, is set it up in such a way that I’ll be able to keep two separate CVs, one for my past (and present) professional history and one for my academic accomplishments. I imagine that’s the one that will be most useful to me in a year or so when I apply for doctoral programmes, but I’ll probably include my old letters, as well–they’re good character references! *grin*

By-the-by…. Hey, Haddie! Check your e-mail for a gift of code. Dunno how the ‘strict’ limitation will affect my work, and I’m too lazy to keep up with changing Web standards. *grin* At least I’m not using HTML 3.2 anymore! (Lazy… “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)

I’m going to cut short to-night, even though I’m feeling a good rant coming on. If I start into it, I’ll have to move the London announcement off the front page a day or two sooner than I’d like. I do think I’ll let this one rip soon, though; I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my teenage Reagan-bashing years. He’s gotten too much good press lately from people who obviously have no memory whatsoever for what actually went down in the 1980s. Sure, he was a popular media icon and won two overwhelming electoral victories; does that make him a good president? If one day the coddled masses decide to elect a fascist dictatorship, do I have to support that as well and contribute to the whitewashing of history to defend its “accomplishments” and “democratic ideals”? Nope; I think not. Reagan fucked this country up royally, and anyone who can’t remember or won’t acknowledge that simple fact is living in some alternate universe where the laws of decency and honesty are clearly reversed… More on this to come.

“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” -Ronald Reagan

Announcement

The suspense is over: I am ready to spill my little news. So… For those of you who’ve not already heard, I am going to London next month!!! My fabulous little university has decided to pay my way over for a week-long research trip! They are covering airfare and lodgings, leaving me to cover food and in-country travel expenses. I am so unbelievably stoked…

Dr. Estes, former head of the history department and my senior seminar research mentor, has arranged this little jaunt for me using department funding! Obviously, the rest of the department had to agree, which is just amazing to me… What’s more, they have decided to send my good friend and fellow history-geek Julie over there, too! She’s going on the following week. I have no idea where they’re finding all of this financial generosity, the budgets having been trimmed a bit this year because of all of the construction on campus, but I’m not complaining!

It does get weirder, though… He’s not even expecting me to get much done in the way of research! He’s mostly trying to get Julie and I to “feel” the country before we start to write about it. Consequently, I will spend many many hours wandering the streets of London and taking it all in–the sights and sounds and people. Of course, I would not be me if I didn’t try to get some real work done; I’m working on a list of documents that I’d like to see at the British Library. There are a number of William Pitt’s documents that I’d like to see with my own eyes, rather than on microfiche.

As it stands, the plan is for me to fly out on the evening of the 24th, hence the announcement above that this site will be down–why run the server and all of these electrical gadgets if I’m not going to be on the machine for a week? I’ll arrive in London the afternoon of the 25th after an exhausting non-stop flight across the Atlantic! Wow… I’m so terrified that I’m actually looking forward to it! *grin*

I’ll stay in London (more or less) until the 31st, when friend-Julie arrives in town. We will then hop a train together headed north. We’ll stop in Oxford for a few hours and look around and then hop the train again that afternoon and head for Edinburgh! Holy shit! I’m really going to Scotland! Scotland! I’m glad I’ll have someone to talk to, because I’ll be a bouncing giddy laughing happy little freak all the way up! *grin*

We’ll spend the night in a hostel in Edinburgh and look around for a while the next day. Obviously, we’ll see the castle and sit in at least one non-touristy pub and listen to the locals. There’s just too much to see in one day, so I’m not going to plan anything beyond that; I’ll just see whither the Fates carry me. Later that day we’ll hop a train back to London and I’ll find somewhere to crash for the night. I fly out very early the next day, so the trip ends on a stressful note! *grin* If I miss that flight, I’m stuck! As I’ll have no money left, I can’t miss that flight!

During my week in London, I’ll make at least one day-long excursion, out to the ancient city of Bath. There, I will attempt to find one of the homes of Pitt the Elder (if it still exists) and take the stagnant waters that generations somehow found to be curative. Pitt spent a lot of time in that water, so it’s a nice way to get a feel for the man and his world, especially as Bath also has some of the best-preserved 18th century streets to wander along. Then there’re all of the Roman ruins… you just know I’ll be all over that stuff! Wow… to actually touch buildings that went up two millennia ago…

Since I’ll have an extra day on my Britrail Flexipass™ left over, I will most likely take one other trip somewhere, but I’ve not decided where to yet. I may choose to spend more time in Oxford before Julie arrives (and actually have time to see the Bodleian, since we’ll be in too much of a rush to browse shelves), or maybe spend an afternoon in Southampton dreaming about the lost Atlantic liners, or maybe even run up the coast to York; I have plenty of time to decide.

It’s the time in London that’s going to take the most planning. I’m going to pick a different district each day, set out early, and walk it until the sun goes down. I’ll see museums and libraries and parks and houses and cathedrals and government offices (and, of course, a different pub every day; I’ll grab a pint and sit listening for a couple of hours). I’m going to bring along a new journal book to scribble notes and impressions and mad poetry in, and I’m trying to find a way to get ‘hold of a digital camera to store some visual memories.

I’m going to look at my pop’s new camera when I see him on Sunday, and if it’s as slick as he’s saying it is, I’ll try to scare up the cash to buy one. His model is pretty inexpensive, but with the memory sticks, carrying case, rechargeable batteries (and charger), and power converter, it’s likely to creep close to $300. I’d also love to have a tripod so that I can get good night-time shots without blurring lights. *sigh* Hard to afford, but I haven’t owned a camera for about a decade, so I think I’m due to get one again.

I’d also like to find a working portable CD player (mine is dead), and Julie says that they’ve gotten very cheap lately. I’ll have some long flights and I’d like to take along some KAOS volumes to make the time pass quickly.

Whilst in London, I’m going to spend a few hours browsing used book stores. London appears to have scads and scads of them! I’m hoping to find some of the more expensive English histories that I’ll want for my paper research over there, rather than having to order them from Barnes and paying through the nose. I figure that if anywhere in the world is going to have used OUP books in English history, it’ll be London! *grin*

Finally, it appears likely that I’ll be able to meet my Italian pen-pal, as she was aleady planning to be in London in July with her mother, showing her the city! Nice co-incidence, eh? It will be nice to finally put a face and voice on her letters, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’ll pick a day some time in my week there and she can show me the spots she likes and we’ll talk and talk; even after writing to someone for a while, you find that you still won’t know them well enough until you’ve spent a day actually talking to them!

If I manage to get a camera, I’ll make a travelogue section for the Web site and you all can see where I was. Imagine: I’ll actually break my self-imposed rule against large graphics and photographs on my Web site! Wow! A page with more than just text on it! How very scandalous… I may lose my membership in the Retro-Dorks and Neo-Luddites Club for excessive and inconspicuous flamboyance…

Welp, I guess that’s about it. I should get back to work now. Oh, one other piece of Cosmic Weirdness first. Apparently, I will be flying to London at the same time that friend-Mindy is flying back from Italy! If I had the maths skills, I’d try to plot approximately where we’d pass one another in mid-air and drink a toast. Instead, I’ll just sleep through it, completely oblivious, just like anyone else would in such a situation. Still, it was the thought that counted, right?

All right, there’s nothing else to see here. Go away.

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -Augustine of Hippo

Nope, Not Quite Yet…

Huh, well, I almost missed another day! It’s five minutes to midnight and I hadn’t found the time to do this earlier. That means that my important news will have to wait until to-morrow to be announced here. Most of you probably know already, and those who don’t will have to wait, ‘cuz I am tired.

I did make a couple of CDs this morning whilst waiting around for a call back and I have updated the KAOS track listing. I took that opportunity to re-write the introduction to it and to break it onto several sub-pages (as the list was getting massive!). I have set aside all of the tracks I’m going to use to finish the series, which will top out at exactly fifty volumes. Yipes! More than I had planned, but I had a dickens of a time eliminating enough songs to keep it below that! *grin* I deleted literally about 200 songs from my rough notes for the collection. No one could accuse me of having narrow tastes in music, eh? And this is only covering about a decade of music! I have plans to make a lenthy ’80s series later in the year (new wave, synth-pop, etceteras); that one will be fun, too–I have probably just as much material to choose from! Damn, but I own too many CDs…. That’s about all there is in here…. books and CDs…. Who needs nice furniture or a television?!

Okay, no more news for you. Go away. Get some sleep.

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” -Leonard Cohen

Important News Coming Soon

Some truly incredible things have happened to me in the past few days. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details as yet, but as early as Monday (and no later than Wednesday), I will spill the whole sordid affair here for you, my loyal fans and friends. *grin* Damn, but I’m excited! Bouncing giddy happy excited little Liam…

Site Change: I have decided to keep betwixt 1-3 entries on the front page only, to speed load times for those on dial-up connexions. This may become a critical issue as I find myself making longer entries more frequently… Also, if I feel I’m not unduly cluttering the front page, I may feel freer to rant more often. Consequently, I have added a second archival link at the bottom of the log which takes you directly to the remainder of the current month’s ravings (in case you miss a day or more). The more general archival link remains in place to its immediate right.

No more to-day… too excited to write… I’ll have another good rant soon, for those of you who follow them. I’ve been ruminating on the conflict betwixt modernity and post-modernity and seeking some level ground wherein I can best exploit the ideas of both. Specifically, I am interested in building upon Habermas’s social ideas whilst incorporating my own serious disagreements with them… Long story, and difficult, but I’ll try soon. Anyroad… get off this Web site and get some sleep! Cheers!

“Nothing exists except through language.” -Hans-Georg Gadamer

I Am The Walrus

‘I Am The Walrus’ by Lennon/McCartney

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I’m crying.

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.

Mister City P’liceman sitting
Pretty little p’licemen in a row.
See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.
I’m crying, I’m crying.
I’m crying, I’m crying.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus,
goo goo a’joob.

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus,
goo goo g’joob, goo goo g’joob.

Expert textpert choking smokers,
Don’t you think the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty, See how they snied.
I’m crying.

Semolina Pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus,
goo goo a’joob, g’ goo goo g’joob, (goo goo goo joob goo goo goo joob goo goo gooooooooooooo joooooooob)

To-morrow (the 18th) is Paul McCartney’s 62nd birthday. Well, actually it’s already his birthday, as it’s late at night here and he’s in the UK… *grin* So… Happy Birthday, Paulie! I thought I’d channel a little of John’s mojo for you. After all, everyone knows that you were the walrus! Cheers!

Below is the shortest quote I’ve used yet. There is a reason for it. Julie, can you guess? I’ll bet no one else can… *grin*

“Eureka!” -Archimedes of Syracuse

Drat And Blast It!

I just finished a very long journal entry for my German professor and went to submit it and, *boom*, no Internet connexion. Then I remembered… Speakeasy had told me it would be down for maintenance from 2300 this evening until 0500 to-morrow. So, I am now updating a Web-log that no one can see…. not that anyone is up right now, waiting for it… you’re not that devoted to my inane scribbling, are you? Good. There is still sanity in the world.

Anyroad, I was also planning to continue last night’s ruminations… I was going to prattle on about ambiguity and nuances of position… then I was going to yack about the nature of knowledge, the scientific method, the search for truth, and the difference betwixt questions and answers…..

But….

I am now frustrated. And tired. So go away and don’t come back until to-morrow night. *pfft*

Oh, and…

Hey, Marta! Sorry I didn’t write back to-day, but I have no Internet connexion. I’ll write to-morrow, okay?

Hey, Haddie! Update your Web-log! Judas Priest kicks ass! Rock hard and ride free!

Hey, Julie! See you to-morrow night! *grin*

“The people are urged to be patriotic … by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism requires allegience to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister.” -Emma Goldman

What Is The Enlightenment?

That is the question which occupies my thoughts this fine evening. It is a question which I cannot answer; a question that I do not hope to answer definitively, here or in any other forum. It is, however, one that I wish to form some more concrete and useful opinion on, but at present all I have are vague impressions and embryonic ideas. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject, whether via e-mail or in the guestbook.

In my past explorations of the topic, I have thus far managed to break the problem up into two principal and oppositional ideological camps. What I seek now is to illuminate the ground which separates them–in my experience, the most insightful answers frequently float somewhere betwixt such poles, in that grey area of ambiguity so familiar to modern philosophers and to unrepentant weirdos such as the present author.

On the one hand, we can see the Enlightenment as the birth of human freedom, as its rhetoric gave us such concepts as human rights, the common good, the consumer-based market economy, and representative government. Education and literacy were encouraged (with an attendant explosion in the volume of printed materials available to the general public); formal prisons began to replace the gallows and public execution all but disappeared; the absolute (divine) authority of kings was successfully challenged throughout most of Europe (giving rise to both republican-style government in France, as well as the more moderate constitutional monarchy that was to take hold in Britain, whereby the king was assumed to be operating under the same laws as his subjects); religious tolerance spread slowly but steadily through the anglophonic world (embracing first the movements more closely related to the Church of England, such as the many Dissenting Protestant groups, and eventually encompassing Judaism and Catholicism); and true equality under the law for all citizens was put forth as an ideal for the first time (not that this has been accomplished anywhere as yet, but at least we’re supposedly trying!). In this way, the Enlightment is seen as a positive force for change in the world and frequently as the true birthplace of the modern Man.

Conversely, one can view the Enlightment as serving to entrench orthodoxies and establish new and more novel forms of direct oppression. By using reason rather than superstition or religion, the status quo and the rights of the aristocracy were more easily protected from the depradations of the newly-literate masses, and truly radical ideas were more easily shunted aside. It is infinitely more difficult to challenge an ideological system that is purportedly based upon pure reason and scientific exploration, particularly when it appears to guarantee you a better state of affairs than that experienced by your parents. In appreciating the positive changes that the Enlightenment provided, you do not notice the new forces at work to maintain order and orthodoxy in society. New media such as the printed press take on the responsibility of informing you of the appropriate positions to take on all issues, and “necessary illusions” are reinforced by appeals to both tradition and reason, as are the nascent ideals of nationalism and imperialism. Perhaps it would be more reasonable to discuss the “manufacture of consent” in the context of the Enlightment era and the massive expansion of printed materials, rather than limiting the thesis to the post-World War I period. By building upon a foundation of supposedly-impartial reason, a new form of mental slavery is born–what is hereby created can justifiably be called a “tyranny of reason,” which binds the soul of Man to a set of prevailing cultural assumptions and denies the potential for a more radical re-appraisal of traditional values.

Both positions have their supporters and detractors, and each seems plausible in its own way. The first is the more traditional reading, of course, and focusses upon the many undeniably-positive benefits of Enlightment; the second is a decidedly post-modern critique, which seeks to reject the ideological baggage that has accumulated over the last two centuries. Undoubtedly there are benefits to approaching the problem from either direction, but can either of them, in isolation, be seen as “correct”? Is there a single, simple answer to such a question? Must we wade into the grey mists of ambiguity, grope blindly towards some semblance of truth and, in finding one, cling to it tenaciously to the exclusion of all others? Or is there indeed some benefit to be found in remaining within the fog bank, to refusing the comfort and security of certainty and the safety of an established position?

For myself, I am unconvinced of either proposition as representing any kind of answer to my question. I feel reasonably secure in the supposition that, if there is a “truth” to be found in the nature and legacy of the Enlightment, if there is one true answer to the definitional question I have posed above, that it lies somewhere betwixt these poles, in some hitherto undiscovered, or undiscoverable, synthesis.

Now that I’ve bored you all to sleep, it’s time for me to do the same. Oh, yes, one more thing for to-day… I almost forgot to mention that I added a track listing for my recent Tom Waits compilation. If anyone is curious, you know where to find it. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” -Umberto Eco