Irresponsible

Today is one of those days where I can’t seem to reconcile this feeling that almost every part of my life is distraction from what I really should be doing right now. That sensation has followed me though most of my life and I don’t rightly recall those times when it wasn’t present in the back of my head, but I know there were moments when it wasn’t. If I could recall those moments, I might be able to decipher what I felt was my “should be doing” purpose. But, as it is, I’ve never quite been able to winnow out what this “calling” might be, although I have senses of the direction it might lay.

But, as I said, today is one of those days where I feel profoundly dissatisfied, frustrated and out of alignment with whatever that “should” is. I feel like I am grazing the surface, tangentially, but not doing much more than getting scuff marks on the shiny paint job of whatever it is.

Whatever it is, I have a sense that it is completely “irresponsible” in nature. I use quotes around that word because, of the many words we use on a frequent basis, sometimes I wonder if that’s not one of the words that is so filthy with bias that we ought to question whether it should be applied to anything without provided tomes full of context to go along with it. By standard Western cultural understanding, I guess, just to avoid writing such a tome. Maybe by modern cultural standards, in general. Regardless, I have a feeling that if I were to walk down the path I ought to be walking, I would be branded by most people as irresponsible by the current usage by most people in America, if not the world. But… is it irresponsible to be following what you ought to be doing, or is irresponsible to avoid that thing to take care of those things society has deemed to be more valuable (regardless of the potential utilitarianist global perspective of the god-like all-watching-eye’s 10k view of the matter)?

Nonsense! I can hear it in the reader’s head already. Michael, you talk in streams of nonsense.

Ignoring such outbursts, I will continue to maintain that this grazing and picking up scuffed paint on my Lamborghini of psyche (I have pretty grandiose ideas of my psyche, don’t I?) is occurring with more frequency these past few months and I can’t quite shake the feeling that I ought to be doing something other than what I’d doing — to hell with conventions and assumed responsibilities — I should go off and do what I should be doing instead of maintaining the distraction of what I am doing.

In case you were thinking it was mildly irresponsible behavior I was thinking of adopting, it goes along the lines of quitting my job and building a tiny house in the middle of noplace and living the life of a hermit who earns a minimal amount of money doing some kind of trite hobby or craft (or writing, hardy har har har) while contemplating what a raven lured by my leaving of breadcrumbs outside my tiny home is trying to tell me, knowing it is of vast and deeply spiritual importance that I do understand him. Or watching owls in the trees at night as they wait for prey, hoping to learn something substantial from the activity. Or just doing the whole “chop wood, carry water” thing Jianzhi Sengcan (Zen’s third patriarch) raved about back in the late 500 CE time period. Although I suspect Zen plays a role in this irresponsible feeling, I think that it is little more than surface gloss.

No, as I write this out, I think it has more to do with the whole byline I picked up a month ago and started applying to my various online accounts — “shamanic word nomad”. Maybe “hermit” instead of nomad, mostly because I weary of travel as I’ve gotten older and the world has gotten weirder. But that conceptual idea feels right. I want to delve deeply into words, deconstruct, reconstruct, and manipulate language. And I want to understand the deeper mysteries of the world while I’m at it.

I don’t expect this will make much sense. And it certainly is irresponsible by many standards as I’ve lashed myself to many mundane commitments that seem irresponsible to leave behind. But I feel this might be something I need to do as I move towards retirement. As my initial idea for retirement seems to be flawed in the age of pandemics (café and/or teahouse with old man barista reading and writing when not serving beverages), I might have to give it serious consideration as an alternative. House will be paid off, kids will be grown up…

Hmm… Maybe I’ve started to finally figure this out in a blog post. Or, I could be chasing another pipe dream.

Time will tell, right?

Labels

Gods.

I’m so frigging sick of labels. So many goddamned labels these days. So many goddamned boxes people willingly jail themselves with.

And then oversharing those labels, as if I give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about the label you’ve chained yourself to.

And then… People try to classify me by those same terms.

I reject your classifications.

Note: this a rant of general horror at the practice, not directed at any one direction, instance or person.

Unremarkable

After a brief discussion with someone [1] about the matter about a week ago where we discussed just how useful they are, I’ve decided to forego using featured images for my posts. At least, for the time being. Mostly — they seem arbitrary additions that add color and (occasionally) context. I spend too much time trying to find images that don’t quite fit and I’m more about music and words than I am about images. If I was a great photographer or a visual artist, that’d be another story entirely. Almost nothing is my creation, however, because the stick people I draw are even disproportionate and look like something out of a cheap horror comic. And photos… Aye-yi-yi. Embarrassing stuff and usually total shite. I’m okay at tweaking stuff, but the creation of visual art is “not one of my many remarkable talents” [2].

So — for the time being — I am going to experiment with not adding to much in the way of images and focus my energies on just writing instead.

Let me know what you think. Too sparse? Too spartan? Just right? “Even fewer words and more pictures would be welcome, Mr. Raven”?


[1] tara caribou, specifically

[2] Brother Longfoot paraphrased quote, a professional navigator in several of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law books.

Twist

Sometimes thoughts get in the way. I still have them, but I also recognize their blocking of being.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time drinking form the fount of knowledge over the years. Fifty years, and I am drunk on knowledge and thoughts, which is something that seems sensible until you reach that place where you realize that much of it is mindgames and shoving things into artificial little boxes that are rarely empirically-derived categories and factoids, tidbits and knowhow.

Now[…] don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’

Buddha

While I am not against reason, I think it sometimes becomes the lazy way of “knowing” something via inference and extrapolation. I don’t know that direct knowledge is transferrable without the experiential to inform it. I can read how to shoemakers make shoes, but until I make a shoe, I do not know the how of shoemakers making shoes. And even then — assuming I start making shoes based on the information provided, is my experience the same as another shoemaker, or is it my gloss of the experience?

Do you perceive blue in the same way as I perceive blue. Maybe I’d look at how you perceive blue and say, “no no no — that is red, not blue.” Is reality then possibly mutable? Is there any way to test this? I think not. In that case, do we know anything without experiencing?

I adhere to the [attributed to] Leary quote that “Reality is the only word in the language that should ALWAYS be used in quotes”.

A bit of a ramble here today, sorry.

What I’m getting at: I’ve spent the past five, maybe ten, years actively trying to lose what I previously considered knowledge, doubting that it is anything of the sort. Reduction to the experiential, in ways, rather than accepting intuited via reason or from the experience of others. And as such, I’m always reaching to find the real experiences that intrigue me, that seem important.

And I’m quite enjoying being the dumbest person in the room at times. No pressure to have something witty or intelligent. I can just let everything wash over me and sometimes things stick.

You’ve seen some “twisting” “turning” stuff in my writing lately. Those are the wrong words, but they’ll have to do. But I feel that there is a different experience just beyond our perception, a more-real experience. And all you have to do is twist the world to get there.

Just thoughts, folks. Something to shelve under “madmen/Michael Raven” in your internal hierarchal file-cabinet of personalized assessments of the people you encounter.

The Thing

Damn… John Carpenter’s 80s version of The Thing is still a hundred times better than most movies out today.

Without CGI.

And, incredibly enough for the time, a black man survives until the end of the film (I think we’re will past the spoiler warning stage).

Feeling Art/Prog Rock

The past few days I’ve been leaning away form my post-punk garage and alternative and leaning into some of my prog/art rock roots.

Shocking. I know.

Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons Project, Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Roxy Music…

There’s something soothing and comforting about the old progrock and artrock bands.

Is anyone else a sucker for songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be Like You” or “Telephone Line” or “Rhiannon”? Maybe “Echoes” or “The Witch’s Promise”?

Gimme your progrock and artrock faves below. Disinterested in quibbling over which bands in which genres, only in hearing your additions.

Tripe

Well, THAT was discouraging.

I was in the mood to hit you folks up with some older material, prose stuff, and I figured I’d just do a snippet of one of my unfinished and/or unedited novels from pre-2010. A scene perhaps. A snippet.

OH. MY. GOD.

No no no no no. I’m mortified by what I felt was “good” fifteen years ago.

Three pieces I looked at and wept and cried and shook my fist at gods who didn’t give a damn about my fist shaking and then wept some more.

Please. If I ever talk about publishing old novels, just shoot me. You’ll be doing the world a big favor.

[Edit: Although, it was fun to use a tuning fork as a defensive weapon in one of the pieces.]

catdog/

always asking questions with her trills
the cat follows me like a puppy

© Michael Raven


Fennekin (“Fen” for short) is one of our two Maine Coons. She’s got a ginormous head, short legs and a long, snakelike body covered in far too much fur (she mats too often because she loathes being brushed and runs away when you take out the brush). She doesn’t seem like she weighs nearly 20 lbs (9 kg), and growing. And then you see her next to the mutts (American Shorthair rescues) and you realize just how huge she is (almost twice the size). And, as I said, growing for another 2-3 years, although it will slow down now.

Fen is not a lap cat or one that just anyone can pet. She usually moves away when someone pays too much attention to her. Not in a mean way, she just escapes high or leaves for the basement.

One of her habits, however, is that she likes to follow me around and trill. No one else in this household of five. It’s not like overdid the affection — Wraith (the other Maine Coon) is supposed to be my center of attention, but he likes everyone but me except while I’m working in the morning and then he’d just be happy as hell if I scratched his neck all morning instead of working.

But Fen would, before coronavirus, come trotting up to the door when I came home from work and trill until I gave her a scratch between the ears. And she didn’t (and doesn’t) like there to be closed doors between us. So she trills outside the bathroom, or when I change clothes in the bedroom. She doesn’t want to be picked up or touched — she just wants me to talk back to her when she trills. Everyone calls her my little puppy dog.