Ruptured Rhapsody

A different kind of "blog," consisting of selections from my scribblings over many years. The date of each post is the date I originally wrote that piece. So, the top post is usually not the latest post, because I continually add writings from different years to the blog. If you have visited here before, you are likely to find new posts anywhere on the page. I'll continue to add "new" posts as my time allows.

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Location: Toronto, Canada

29 September 1982

What poetry is

I have been reading some poetry the past few days, or more exactly a chronological anthology of English-language poetry. I had always simply assumed that poetry is an expression of some kind of sublime experience, that poets are transcendental visionaries. Beyond this assumption, however, I had never, it seems, given the subject any serious thought. The majority of the poems I have been reading have been love poems of one sort or another. I am beginning to believe that love poetry is nothing but a means for the poet to persuade his female acquaintances into his bed. The reason I am coming to believe this, seems to be that what poets in general, though there are perhaps a few exceptions, say about their "beloved" seems to be just general compliments that seem only meant to please the other person -- as opposed to the expressions of the poet's feelings about the other person as a unique individual.

20 September 1982

Misty Guerrillas

Thoughts on the massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon [in 1982]. I used to think I had the situation in Lebanon all figured out. The PLO was getting what was coming to it; it should have stuck to being a guerrilla organization (like the French Resistance in WWII) and avoided terrorist tactics – the label of freedom fighters would have given it a far higher stature in world opinion (although, on second thought, Afghanistan’s freedom fighters have become known as rebels, notwithstanding the fact that they have been getting extensive material support from the West). I could blame the PLO for their tactics and their apparent inefficient use of their resources (what does a resistance organization need tanks for – unless they are needed for the protection of refugee camps – which is doubtful). However, the massacre alters and confuses the whole picture. I can’t really blame the refugees for it; and I’m beginning to wonder whether it may be that the PLO’s mode of operation is the only one that works in that region; in other words, that they must fight everyone, and not just the Israeli military, just to stay alive – more or less.

13 September 1982

No Gods need apply

I was wondering why it is that I believe everything that happens, happens for a good reason. At first, I thought it was a belief in a sort of impersonal God. But then if I believe everything in every individual’s life is meaningful, then this impersonal God cannot be that impersonal. However, a personal God is not the only choice left. My belief may just as well be interpreted as a faith in the universe – that with all its marvelous beauty, it cannot be capricious.

12 September 1982

Ethics forced on politicians

In a news item about the coming municipal elections (the item was about Toronto) it was said that people are trying to bring provincial issues to the municipal level. As one spokesperson put it, people are trying to force municipal governments to assume ethical leadership. That reminded me of how people seem to have come to care less than ever, in recent memory, about political world events; the perception has grown that politicians will play their games and wage their wars, and so it doesn’t make much difference who the particular politician happens to be; what is important, according to this view, is that politicians be forced to do things and pass legislation that people want. Political organization seems more and more aimed at lobbying than at the support of representative democracy. People care less than before about “what is happening in the world?” and more about “what can I do about what is happening in the world?”; but they realize that individuals or small groups or even million-strong demonstrations cannot affect world politics significantly, so they get involved in local, tangible policymaking, where small groups can make a difference. The word “ethical” in the spokesperson’s comments may be just the right word; people may at last have come to realize that to be a politician is synonymous with being entirely free of ethics; hence their efforts to impose ethics from below.

11 September 1982

Old Suburbia

I was reading an article in the Globe about Don Mills, an area of Toronto that was developed in the 1960s for the newly upwardly mobile. It talked about how sterile and contrived the place seems; it talked about the high-achievers who had lived there and then moved away without realizing how their lives had been shaped by the sterility of Don Mills. The article talked about a woman who, having just moved to Don Mills, invited 22 women to her house; only 8 showed up; it also talked about how privacy was a paramount consideration at Don Mills.

That got me thinking about the idea of privacy; about little groups of people hiding in their little houses, longing for the company of others though terrified of the unknown; passing their lives -- bearing their lives -- with the help of various narcotics and opiates -- physical or psychological. I thought of our blindness to the complete artificiality -- in the bad sense -- of the environment we have created; and we don't even realize that life need not be lived this way.

7 September 1982

Artistic depiction of the human body

I had been wondering why artists are so interested in depicting the human body. After all, the human body is nothing more than an accidental product of evolutionary history; so there doesn't seem to be any special meaning in it. Everything it is everything it does is a result of some circumstance our semi-human ancestors happened to encounter. Later on in the day – or rather after midnight – I was looking through a book on drawing. It occurred to me that maybe artists have a special insight into the matter; that is to say, they see the object in a way that precludes the above analysis. To go a step further, perhaps the artistic vision of the human body is related to the human-centered sort of scientific analysis referred to as the antropic theory, rather than the above sort of objective science.

5 September 1982

Ancestor Worship

I think I have figured out a part of the rationale for ancestor worship. I was feeling very restless this morning; more exactly, I seemed to be unwilling to get down to any serious work. Then I started, for some reason, to think about the fact that although various cultures have been civilized and/or kept records for different lengths of time, all cultures have basically been around for identical lengths of time. This led me to think of the many tens of thousands of generations that have preceded us. I suppose I felt that enormous crowd of ancestors was somehow watching out for me and rooting for me (which can perhaps be translated into primitive terminology as saying that they were protecting me). In any case, the sense of being a part of this enormous crowd of guardians seemed to dispel the sense of apathy and loneliness that had taken hold of me.

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