Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is the saddest poem I have ever read...

Time for a little perspective...I decided to write about Bukowski tonight. Charles Henry Bukowski's poem Bluebird is the saddest poem I have ever read. It may have a little to do with perspective; Bukowski is one of the most tortured poets of the twenty-first century, having suffered from acne vulgaris, ulcers, and tuberculosis to ultimately die from leukemia. This man faced all of these medical demons and kept on writing, while being inspired by drink and the race track. I recently watched Bukowski: Born into this and was ultimately moved by it, especially when the poem Bluebird was placed in perspective at the end of them movie. I had no idea how so much great art is inspired by so much pain and hatred, such sadness and loneliness.

Honestly, it scares me just a little.

It scares me because Bukowski went through some really bad childhood experiences and some horrible medical conditions to produce some amazing art. And it required the horrible experiences to produce this art. I hate to think about someone who went through so much pain to produce something that enriches society, because deep down, it means that I somehow have to pay this person back, but ultimately there's no way to do such a thing. Maybe this pain and suffering is allay-able; maybe it's something that should be prevented. But, in the prevention of such suffering, it would also prevent the production of such great art.

Seriously, read this poem at least three times. The first time I read it, I wept openly. Does this make me less of a man? Maybe. Does it define me as a human? Maybe more. Does it seriously mean that people must suffer for their art? It could be true. And that saddens me more than anything.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I listen to "The Big Lebowski" podcast (at as an entertaining discussion of the philosophy behind this rather creative movie. The most recent podcast as of this writing talks about Dude-ism, and in the process presents a website that details this odd religion (although it is more of a philosophy than a religion, but I like the joke). It really is a thinly-veiled homage to the Dude (semi-title character in the movie), but the site itself really prods some deep questions in me.

Religion for me is a touchy subject, and I don't plan to really expound here on my religious beliefs, other than that I do believe that religion is a very private agreement between you and your metaphysics, and shouldn't be aired, even if it influences your judgment. When a faux-religion pops up I do get concerned though, and maybe it's just a silly thought, but what happens in two centuries when your sarcasm is lost and people take it too seriously? At the same time, this is against the very notion of Dude-ism (from the first Dude-etude):
Confronted with this inflexible and unfeeling existence, the Dude in all of us will acquiesce, slyly scribbling a peace sign where a zero might otherwise suffice. “He who gently yields is the disciple of life,” wrote Lao Tzu. That is to say, he abides.

Let's just say that this is not a religion that encourages evangelical action. I find this encouraging. I agree wholeheartedly with the discussion of philosophy, explanation of theology, and exhibition of faith, but I am aghast towards the amount of religious flaming that is present these days, be it about metaphysics, politics, or programming language.

However, this is also not a religion that spurs action, either. One of the greatest promises of religion is its ability to inspire (literally to breathe life into, interpret the etymology as metaphysically as you wish). Dude-ism is actually void of this inspiration, unless you consider the Buddha (I don't mean the reincarnated one). So it instructs you in posture but not in direction.

When I think of my concept of viviomancy, that is one of the most important parts. I do believe in letting the winds direct me, but I also believe in letting the winds inspire and through serendipity excite me. Not all of that can be undirected and messy; as I discussed in my previous post, some inspired actions do take deliberate steps and discipline in order to accomplish. There must therefore be a balance.

While at first this is just a disagreement between my life-view and Dude-ism, it also for me disqualifies it as a religion, and as a philosophical entity loses its pragmatism. Taoism at least encouraged right action and discipline, even if it was restrained and seemingly lacking in form. Buddhism encourages strict adherence to the Precepts in order to encourage peaceful and harmless action.

Sometimes even action is required to abide.

Change in format and mindset

I have decided to start posting shorter posts, in order to get my writing more spurred. Lately I have lost the reason for the blog in the first place. The purpose is related to the meaning of viviomancy (as I discussed in Housekeeping) as "the act of falling into a vibrant life through serendipity or action through non-traditional reasoning". I haven't appreciated my serendipity recently and I need to recognize that. This is a complicated thought and this may be a longer post than I hinted to in the first sentence, but I need to clarify why I feel the way I do right now.

At first, a lot of my resolutions in my 43 things (look to your left) are the result of mindless desire and direction-less feelings. I don't really know why I wanted to learn Arabic, other than the fact that it looks cool and sounds neat. I really think that I set up my resolutions because I wanted them to come true at the time I made the list and it was more impulsive than it was directed. However, I also have resolutions that are very directed and entirely less impulsive. For example, getting a six-pack is also on the list, and this is entirely less impulsive of a thought. I also have duplicates in this kind of resolution (eat healthier and imporve my diet are the same thing).

In short, I have accomplished more of my impulsive resolutions than I have my directed ones. This is why I feel that I need a new mindset. I now feel that it is possible to "fall into a vibrant life" through disciplined thinking, as contradictory as it sounds. Maybe I'm trying to validate my impulses, but isn't that what life is all about anyway?

I have a big project finishing up pretty soon. I am developing a card game called Zombie which is an unholy mix of bridge, Magic the Gathering, and Trivial Pursuit (in the purpose of getting cogs, not necessarily the trivia). I am actually making it into a Java application, although I tested the game logic in Haskell. Hopefully you'll all get a taste of it soon.