Month: May 2004

Mexico City musings, iii

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Courage and conviction seemed worth thinking about this Memorial Day weekend down here in Mexico City, where there are few rules and freedom arises from chaos rather than a uniform culture, as my friend Victor Z explained.

A courageous life to every earthbound individual now conjures up a different set of experiences. As it should. But as such, the fight in the world now is about defining what it means to be brave and express conviction, not what it means to be free.

No one is answering America’s personals listing now. The world has put the fear of loneliness at the heart of our politics. Karaoke, anyone?

A society’s convictions are revealed in what it finds courageous. Which societies among us inspire an higher order conviction among its participants?

A society becomes fundamentalist when there are the fewest avenues to conviction, and where courage and audacity are elevated to the level of conviction. "We behave," said Riviere in Saint-Exupery’s 1931 novel, Night Flight, "as if there were something of higher value than human life…But what thing?"

Manly virtues no longer play a part in war as they did in Homer’s epics, nor do they play the same part in writing as they did during the birth of modern religions.

Would we have had fewer wars if we’d never learned to write? Or built the Internet?

"Coming down…entering the clouds," went the newlywed (6 weeks) pilot Fabien’s final transmission from inside a Patagonian cyclone in Night Flight. "…see nothing."

"See you on the flip side," went the Master Blaster.

– :^D

Mexico City musings, ii

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"My name’s Suzie, and I found my husband on the Internet," go the radio ads in the US now. Marriage arranged by an algorithm instead of an aunt. Loneliness, not destitution or disease or tyranny, is perhaps the greatest fear in our syndicated personals laden world. That love can now be a roulette bet $49.95 personal profile match is not a reflection of the internet’s growing humanity or its ability to build communities around weightless ideas. It simply means we live in a much more lonely world than we ever anticipated, made lonelier by the abandonment of risk-taking in our deepest most meaningful endeavors. Standing alone is no longer seen as a courageous act. That goes as much for societies now as people.

In some ways capitalism is the most dangerous system on earth, because it is equally adept at peace and war. Unfettered courage and conviction can drive anyone’s ambitions in a capitalist system, and sometimes you (or whole societies) get screwed. But most of the time, if you work hard enough and strike the right balance between your courage and convictions, you improve your own life and the lives of those around you.

"That’s cool," said Butthead.

I don’t need a bulletproof car and a fulltime security detail to walk my dog, get a quart of milk or to share my opinions with you in this column. Listen to any business owner in Mexico City or Lima (or Baghdad), however, and you’ll understand that a society is as much (or more) defined by the risks it requires of its ordinary citizens as by the rewards bestowed upon its most successful. Maybe America is as dangerous, both physically and psychologically, as its detractors claim. I mean, everyone seems to have the time and safety to sit around, listen to the radio, "blog," and shove Hot Pockets in their lonely pie holes.…


Mexico City musings, i

production car card churubusco commute

I write in recognition of the lack of posts in my fledgling 3-month engagement of this transmission adventure. My storage plan, however, on this cruddy valuesharedfavela host allows for little uploaded content other than words. I am currently looking for a place to put up all my music b/c it seems this was not the answer, unless I subject the world to sub-AM-quality streams devoid of transcendent real static or glitchy interference. Shite audio w/ no analog warmth isn’t worth the time. I put 5 full quality wav files up and 1/2 my quota is “poof!” A new economy, indeed.

The net, though, of course, is seductive. You lose days as you loose your conscious grip on a physical world full of traffic jams, bullet tracers, silly adults and tons of fat ass meanies with no purpose other than to say, "No."

Then, there’s the issue of "thinking you actually have something interesting to say." Provided you do, how much would you ever want to give away about yourself and your worldview, anyway? You wind up contributing to and participating in the blahblahblahlookatmeimsocool that turned you off of the world in the first place. And what’s even worth writing about? And who are you writing for? You have to design at least part of any site as much for the person who finds it randomly as for the people most intimate to its writer/s. There’s nothing personal about the web – but mark it: personal is where it wants to go. The net, the ultimate intermediary, now also exclaims itself a source. There is no middle-man anymore, just like they said there’d be.

Something somewhere every day catches you on tape, and, whether you like it or not, you are someone else’s celebrity. Morrissey said, "I’d rather be famous than righteous or holy, any day," and you can certainly feel famous to cure your blues now (just go to a karaoke bar on a random Tuesday in February).…