Friday, June 16, 2006

Three weeks in the making

It is rather a telling sign when I take three weeks to write a blog. I usually foolishly sacrifice valuable minutes of sleep in order to get a blog or a rant-esque e-mail out in one unbroken piece. These three weeks have been as busy as ever, and not coincidentally, are also my three weeks of having moved out from home.

My first three weeks at Xin's house have been as wonderfully challenging as I expected. There has been a very positive benefit in regimenting my life. Previously, I was very loose with my schedule but now I actively make use of all my time. I also am successfully going to sleep earlier on work nights (aside from one night's ushering for Glide Time). I watch far less television and waste less time on the computer. I finish my lesson plans faster as their is competition for the keyboard. Leading challenges are to make food that is not flavourless or excessively flavourful (by the Xin Standard). I don't seem to be able to hit the zone between those two extremes on a regular basis. All tastes delightful to me though.

My good news of gaining a second client has well and truly sunk in and I am patiently waiting for it to be properly formalised and underway. Ernst & Young will be a new challenge and a fertile ground for further work opportunities.

My back pain is back with avengence and its chronic nature is reminiscient of my troublesome ankles (which also has not been completely back to normal). I am quite optimistic about my prospects of beating my back and being stronger for the crisis. Having one's back 'cracked' $25, having on's girlfriend stomping on your back to achieve the same result - priceless. Learning how to crack your own back is a joy.

I also had lots of different motivations, experiences and ideas in this period too. I actually consumed a whole 110 page book on a work day, The Myths that Make Us. This is highly rare for a literary sloth like myself. The previous day I had sampled parts of The Simpsons and Philosophy. This book was mainly interesting for the excerpts, the philosophy part worked well when considering themes and failed when considering the characters. As was often pointed out, the characters are rather amorphous and cannot be analysed. That being said, the only philosophically fascinating essay I ran into was in a character study, albeit quoted from another book. It is so cool that I will publish it here too:

Scorned by a woman, Satan took council with his chief tempters in Pandemonium.
"What," he asked the assembled Principalities and Powers, "are we doing to hasten the dehumanization of man?"
One by one, they reported. Formidable Senior Vice-Presidents in charge of Envy, Pride and Avarice gave glowing accounts; the Chiefs of the Bureaus of Lust and Sloth read lengthy bills of particulars. Lawyers lectured on loopholes. Satan however was not pleased. Even the brilliant report from the Head of the War Department failed to satisfy him. He listened restively to the long treatise on nuclear proliferation; he fiddled with pencils during the section on the philosophy of guerilla warfare.

Finally, Satan's wrath overcame him. He swept his notes from the table and leapt to his feet. "Self-serving declarations!" he roared. "Am I doomed to sit forever listening to idiots try to hide incompetence behind verbiage? Has no-one anything new? Are we to spend the rest of eternity minding the store as we have for a thousand years?"
At that point, the youngest tempter rose.
"With your permission, my lord," he said, "I have a program." And as Satan sat down again, the demon launched into his proposal for an interdepartmental Bureau of Desubstantialization. He claimed that the dehumanization of man was going too slowly because their infernal strategy had failed to cut man off from one of the chief bulwarks of his humanity. In concentrating on offenses against God and neighbour, it had failed to corrupt his relationship to things. Things, the tempter declared, by their provision of unique delights and individual astonishments, constituted a continuous refreshment of the very capacities Hell was at pains to abolish. As long as man dealt with real substances, he would himself remain substantial. What was needed, therefore, was a program to deprive man of things.

Satan took evident interest. "But," he objected, "how shall we proceed? In an affluent modern society man has more 'things' than ever. Are you saying that in the midst of such abundance and possessed by such materialism he simply will not notice so obvious and so bizarre a plot?"
"Not quite, my lord," said the tempter. "I do not mean to take anything from him physically. Instead, we shall encourage him mentally to alienate himself from reality. I propose that we contrive a systematic substitution of abstraction, diagrams, and spiritualizations for actual things, actual beings. Man must be taught to see things as symbols - must be trained to use them for effect and never for themselves. Above all, the door to delight must remain firmly closed.
"It will not," he continued, "be as difficult as it seems. Men are so firmly convinced that they are materialists that they will believe anything before they suspect us of contriving their destruction by spiritualization. By wayof a little insurance, however, I have taken the liberty of arranging for an army of televangelists who will continue, as in the past, to thunder against them for being materialists. Humanity will be so busy feeling delightfully wicked that nobody will notice the day when we finally cut them loose from their reality altogether."
And at that, Satan smiled, sat back and folded his hands. "Excellent...," he said. "Let the work go forward."
And that is that. Cool, eh.

(taken from an essay in The Simpsons and Philosophy, page 193, 'Enjoying the so-called "Iced-cream"' written by Daniel Barwick, quoting The Supper of Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon)