“Monsanto tells us that their products are about the best thing to come along since sliced bread. For years they’ve been promising that GMOs would reduce pesticide use, increase yields, reduce water consumption, and offer foods that are more tasty and
“Writing is only interesting to other people if it is deeply revealing. Your brain has a self defense mechanism which prevents you from divulging too much of yourself to perfect strangers. Fortunately, this mechanism can be easily bypassed with chemicals.”—Write under the influence. (via nedhepburn)
“No, it’s not fair, but what makes life feel like Hell is our expectation that it should last forever. Life is short. Dead is forever. You’ll find out soon enough. It won’t help the situation for you to get all upset.”—
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
I’m reading this one day after I attended a “Celebration of Life” service for a recently departed friend’s father. The service got me thinking about my own mortality. You see, Brian had made a lot of friends in his 60+ years of life. The service gave many of those friend’s an opportunity to share the stories they have and any memories of him that help paint the picture of who he was. As a lawyer-turned-judge, many of the people who knew him well come from a long line of public speakers who were all more than capable of creating an image of this man that you know won’t soon leave them. It’s the stories that really got me thinking about myself. The people in attendance were a Who’s Who in the community of powerful people. The man knew important people and he made them friends. Each one portraying Brian as if you too knew him for forty years. As I sat there listening to all of what people had to say, I wondered what people would say about me when I’m gone. I don’t know the kind of people he knows. It worries to think about my friends and family would say about me. I don’t want to leave it up to them. I want it to be my accomplishments or work that speaks for itself.
I’ve often told myself that I’m not afraid of death, which is probably true. What I am afraid of, however, is what i leave behind. Brian was a member of the UW Hall of Fame and even tried out for the US Olympic Crew Team, just missing out attending the ‘72 Olympics on a technicality. He was a good athlete, never smoked, and made friends with everyone. In comparison, I’m an introvert who has accomplished next to nothing and still live at home. I understand he has me in years but by the time he was my age, he had already done so much. You sense a bit of self loathing and it’s true, it’s there. As a reader of Hunter S. Thompson, I think I’m beginning to understand the combination of Fear and Loathing. It’s a brutal cocktail that leads to no good and I drink from it far too often. Optimism has never been my strong suit.
Damned and the service the other day has put me in a strange place, one I haven’t been in as an adult. Prior to high school graduation I had already attended six funerals of relatives and people I know. It doesn’t necessarily prepare you for future events. Being my first service as an adult brought to light that I am soon to have an adult life of my own, complete with a family, a survivable income and, more importantly, a legacy. While I can understand that life isn’t forever, a legacy is. That’s the root of my fear. That’s the root of my loathing. Regardless of what I accomplish (or don’t), a trace of what I was survives forever in the stories and memories that I’ve left behind. And while that’s all great, my concern isn’t what others think of me when I’m gone, it’ll be whether or not what I’m satisfied by what I’ve left.
“To begin a new novel, I look for the biggest problem in my life that I can’t solve or tolerate. Something that drives me nuts, but I can’t fix. Then I find a metaphor that allows me to explore the problem, exaggerating and expanding it beyond reason. I build it up to the worst scenario possible and then find a way to solve it. By the time the book is done, I’ve exhausted all of my emotions around the original problem. Whatever it was, it no longer bothers me. And typically, during the time of writing, the problem has resolved itself. It’s like magic. Try it. It will keep you alive in this world of bullshit.”—A nugget from last night’s Reddit AMA. See the entire transcript here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1noxl2/im_chuck_palahniuk_author_of_doomed_ama/ (via chuckpalahniuk)
“I’ve never comprehended this idea of spoilers, the folks who line up to get the last Harry Potter, and turn right to the last page of the book as soon as it’s in their hands. My favorite time as a kid was not Christmas morning. It was the night before Christmas, and the sense of expectation. Nothing is ever as good as your imagination. That’s how it works. “I wanted a G.I. Joe and I got socks.”—
There are times in some people’s lives that they’ll remember as a significant change in how to think about the world. It’s almost like a rewiring. I can trace this to two such incidents. The first was when I finally had a teacher (professor) that showed me how much fun reading could be. I’ve always been a big fan of film and the class I took was a film class. But because it was at a community college, they didn’t have film studies so it was an English class and in order to meet requirements we had to read. What hooked me was that we were reading the book companions to the films, some of which were very seminal to me and others that were just downright eye opening. This class showed how much fun reading could be if you just found the right books that piqued your interests.
I had to mention that class because without it, the next moment may not have happened. The second time I began to look at the world differently was the first time I read Hunter S. Thompson. This may sound a little cliche or trite but the fact it that his writing gave me a newfound appreciation for politics and how to observe the happenings of society, people, and our surroundings. I’ve since read nearly all of his published work and aside from his “journalism,” I’ve also tapped into other writers from his era including Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, and the Beats. Thompson was could be so abrasive yet so very eloquent at the same time. What he said was always shaped in such a way that made it sound like you were perpetually speaking with a mentor. Whether he was right or not, it sounded like he had all the answers.
Thanks to Thompson, I can attribute my cynicism towards politicians, my optimism for a better tomorrow, my idealism about human potential, and my appreciation of the written word and those who’ve devoted their lives to enlightening dark subjects and finding the nuances about everyday life. With that, I just wanted to wish the late Doctor a belated Happy Birthday. I sure wish he were here to provide us with one more alcohol fueled rant.