Limited Mentality

Limited Mentality by Minna vander Pfaltz

Minna vander Pfaltz again. Jimsecor is sidelined with hip problems that portend re-replacement. His inability to get around makes him irritable, so I’m doing this all by myself–not for the first time.

There is an unredeemable characteristic of the American mind: limited thinking. Not only not thinking past the present moment (or incident) but of the love of the ignorance thereby engendered, as might best be described as either looking out a window and only seeing yourself or being so enchanted with the frame that you don’t even bother looking out the window.

This is, at present, most notable with Donald Trump and the Presidency. Until mid-October 2017 no one was looking past Trump to the next president. No one is still. Typical reactionary American behavior: let’s only approach one problem at a time, this problem. Let’s not think that there might be consequences down the road. Even the news media jumps aboard this wagon. People are now seeing Pence as the replacement president. This runs in the face of Pence’s intimate involvement in the Russia corruption via his constant lying, at least. He is simply unfit to be president (Twenty-fifth Amendment). Yet no one seems to be bothered about this. As if to say, let’s bother with that later, when the problem arises, even though it is already right before our faces. Reactionary thinking.

Who is next in line? The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He hates everyone but the rich, his friends and his benefactors. He will kill us all and ruin the country economically. Why? Because he is an ideologue and ideologues can never ever see past their obsessive-compulsive attachment to an idea. Repercussions are not important. He is very Communist in his attitude that if you can’t pay for your health care, you deserve to die that Rand Paul first put forward. Communist doctrine is that if you don’t work, you don’t deserve to eat. A tad more humane and based on human actions, i.e. working for the State. Indeed, all for the State, an idea Ayn Rand deplored. A very Communist doctrine. . .or that of slavery. And Paul Ryan is involved in the Communist hacking from near its inception in 2012.

There are other parallels/indications of Communism with him and the Republicans, but that frightening picture is not immediately in question, though it should be. Indeed, it should have been way back when the Republicans began calling their area of influence Red State America. The only other Red States in the world are Communist states. Everything for the government, everything for the State is the ethic.

So, why is no one thinking past Pence for replacement president? They ought to be, dammit. Does anyone know the chain of replacement? Who comes after Ryan if he is found unfit (because when the presidency is offered to him, he will jump at the chance)? Answer: President Pro Tem of the Senate Orrin Hatch. After him, if he decides not to accept? It becomes a free for all with the Cabinet: first one who says yes is it. Want to guess who would jump at the chance? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III anyone? But, then, he’s out of the picture already. His cookie-making tree was built on shifting sand. Tillerson, a man after enriching himself and his friends? A man who’s used to being in control? A man who’s got business ties with Russia?

But, hell, why think ahead, eh?

America is in love with the adage “don’t sweat the small stuff.” In fact, if you take care of the details (the small stuff), then you do not have a large problem to take care of later on. But, hey, it’s better and more exciting to be reactionary. Limited thinking.

 

Some people are in love with their ignorance, like Cory Britton who, when confronted with a correction to his limited thinking, replied to Jimsecor, “James Secor shut the fuck up troll.” And then blocked Jimsecor’s e-mail. Despite many people saying the Internet is a hateful place, Jimsecor and I had never met up with it. He was nonplussed. It’s possible Cory Britton does not read; yet much of the information is available online at reputable sites, not just in books. Cory Britton is one of those people who is so in love with the window frame that he doesn’t bother to look out the window. He also obsesses over the myriad euphemisms for whore, listing them for an entire minute. He is, of course, not the only person who is in love with his ignorance. Sadly.

Trump, Ryan, Sessions–in fact all of the Republicans.

 

Agents, literary agents, are, judged from the Confucian division of society, at the bottom of the heap. Bottom dwellers? Not exactly. They make their money from the hard work of others. From a group that represented authors so the writers got the best deal, lit agents have taken to themselves the role of arbiter of all (publishable) literature. The single major criteria? Profit. Not only do lit agents charge the writer and then add on all office expenses (which they take off their taxes as business expenses–known as double dipping), they charge the publishers. What a scheme!

But agents are out of touch with reality. The “new” reading public, the people between late teens and 40s, have a short attention span. They don’t have the energy to focus on reading books of 50, 60, 100,000 words. But they can manage 30-40,000 words. 30-40,000 words is the rule and regulation lit agents use to class 30-40,000 words, a novella. Well, that’s fine. They can classify all they want; but the “new” reading public can only deal with this shorter length of book. So, why don’t they look for and sell fast moving novellas? If they had any historical sense, they’d recognize that the immensely popular pocket books and pulp fiction of days gone by were 30-40,000 in length.

This would help Jimsecor alot since he’s been pumping out books of this length lately. Thinking on the part of lit agents would aid us in living a better life. But ignorance via rules rules the day: I like my frame, it’s really cool.

 

Vegans. What can I say? Nowadays, they have the choice to eat what they want. Way back when, they’d not have had the choice–and they’d not have had the supplements (chemicals) to maintain a healthy life as they must today. Peasants and merchants died young. Vegans aren’t protesting cruelty to animals, other than rhetorically; they are avoiding the issue altogether. They vociferate energetically against killing animals in general–animals being living things–without realizing they are killing living things by ripping them out of the ground by their roots; eating them raw (still alive), boiling or frying them alive.

Once we have people who can’t see past the moment, past themselves, past their ideology, like. . .if you stop killing the animals in order to stay alive–in favor of killing plants to stay alive–what are you going to do with all of those animals running around all over the place? Let the people of Alaska and Wyoming shoot ’em down by helicopter? Vegans don’t like this now.

And what about those people who cannot eat a vegetarian diet? Like Jimsecor. He has no ileum, no cecum and no right (ascending) colon. When he eats vegetables, he needs to carry a port-a-potty around with him. Alas, Vegans are as single-minded as Evangelical Christians and consider it their right to impose their worldview on non-Vegans. As if cannibalizing vegetables is the saving grace. “I trust in Veggies” as I drive?

My advice? Go back to Vega where you came from.

 

Brown rice. Only in America.

 

People who make rules. Rules for everything, even being normal. Americans like such rules, as if to say, “I can’t live without them.” You know, no ability to frame a life or make decisions without being given explicit, delimiting guidelines. Rules of right or wrong that go beyond legal jurisprudence. There are rules for fucking everything! Look at the proliferation of how-to books. Jimsecor used to ghost write these books but he told the editor to stuff it. A bunch of ignorant charlatans selling shit from the back of a wagon. One man sold his how-to-get-rich as the end product of a quasi-religious Way! Although it was good money, I watched Jimsecor become increasingly irritable until he said, “Fuck it” and told the editor no more, lest it be to his specialty.

People don’t understand. . .if “this” was the way to riches, why are these people spending so much time writing (playing like they are writing) books about getting rich?  If they were doing it, they’d have no time to write about it–or want to limit their gaining power.

At the same time, I can’t fault people, for the economy of this country is not one that allows of success to working people. Of late, life takes them down, down, down and down at the bottom they find the social nets have really big holes and nobody likes them the more.

 

Economics. Economic efficiency. Efficiency experts par excellence. You older folk: remember Spencer and Hepburn in Desk Set? You younger folk: watch it. Economic efficiency has nothing to do with human efficiency. Humanity is a different animal. heh-heh The business model of efficiency–the business model of anything–cuts humanity right out of  the deal. This is most apparent in medicine; and, there, in hospitals, especially ERs where the presence of doctors, who treat people who expect to be treated by doctors, are not in evidence. They’re expensive. Replace them with Physician Assistants who, like ancient Chinese Eunuchs, pass along their idea of what’s going on to the doctor hiding somewhere so as to get the answer she wants. PAs are cheaper. Female PAs are the cheapest. Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) know more. If humans are seen to by doctors, even after the PA fact, they feel better about whatever is ailing them. Why? They are being paid attention to. Human “economics.” Does it cost more? Yes, in greenbacks. Is it better for the general populace–and the financial economic world? Indubitably. But when you have a business running the medical profession, you have no medicine, no person. Eventually, the business model is going to be sued into oblivion if it just doesn’t die a prolonged, nasty death.

Some doctors get around this by taking up the viciously Darwinish Concièrge Model of Medicine: if you’ve got the money, I’ll treat you. (Poorer people ain’t got it.) And if the illness or injury or anxiety or whathaveyou is serious, the doctor puts the sufferer in the hospital so the hospital foots the bill. Cool beans.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital: a monopoly. One hospital, lots of little pieces of hospital everywhere. They even own, via umbrella, all but one of the medical group practices in town. That one is adamantly independent–good–but just as adamantly practices the business model of medicine. So does the hospital, albeit some doctors have a higher ethic.

 

Limited thinking: Now, now, now. And Bill Maher. Bill Maher believes we should not be concerned about exploration of space because we’ve not got the technology. He would have held up sea travel and exploration centuries ago. The only thing wrong with space exploration is that it is seen as space exploitation. Jimsecor would go. Jimsecor would go to Titan. And as Jimsecor is considered too old and a useless appendage to society it would be good to get rid of him.

Voyager I and II are not examples of limited thinking. Taking funding away is. Unfortunately, soon they will run out of energy. Why doesn’t NASA tell us what they’ve found so far?

 

Universities. The first thing universities want to do when they get a hunk of money is to build buildings. Which means hiring administrative and support staff. Fuck the students and professors, which are what a university is all about. Fuck investing the money to make sure it continues to flow in. Buildings don’t draw students or professors.

 

University of Phoenix.

 

Law enforcement. Which is more akin to oppressive control and intolerance.

 

Zero tolerance. Very limited thinking. Zero tolerance is INtolerance.

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The Donald’s Revolution

 

 The Donald’s Revolution

by James L. Secor, Ph.D.

That part of the country that does not like Donald Trump–especially the radio and TV pundits and the Hillary supporters–and those modern Neville Chamberlains[1] who urge us to give the man a chance. . .I say, that part of the country will never be able to deal with The Donald because they are like three-year olds who are incapable of seeing someone else’s point of view. So, these Donald haters stand around bitching about him and what he’s doing and saying and, I suppose, figure that’s enough; that is, that bitching about him and his individual policies that daily become more and more obvious via his Cabinet choices is enough to take care of the problem of The Donald.

There is no thought here. There is no intelligence at all. Just a three-year old’s tantrum. Everything is interpreted through the three year old’s sensibility. And because no one has the separation to analyze and organize against The Donald’s very obvious anti-social bent, there will never be any focused effort to come to terms with The Donald and his concentrated aim, his purpose.

Because judging The Donald is the moral high ground, a definitely honorable yet useless cock-of-the-walk stance, there is no hope, for The Donald believes he exists outside of the bounds of accepted behavior. But just what does he believe? The misogyny, racism and general hate he articulates is not it. Like a recipe, the end product is not the individual ingredients.

Congress is totally useless, as they have been for quite a number of years, so nothing can be expected from this disparate bunch of greedy ideologues[2] who again cannot see past themselves and their childish wants. Like three-year old children, they are, each individual Congressman, stomping their feet and pouting. “No! I don’t want!” Though there might possibly be an outside chance that they actually manage to do something, they have become so settled into the nothin’ doin’ tar pit that a couch potato appears hyperactive.

The people? Even those who consider themselves political?

The people are historically, socially and politically ignorant, though it might be more PC to say naïve. They believe what they are told is the way to see things.  They are culturally isolated and, therefore believe their culture is the true and right culture, much like the 19th century Brits. They do not read anything that does not agree with their beliefs. Having thus chosen ignorance, the people, like The Donald’s followers, can be led around by the nose.[3]

Though the people who hate The Donald don’t have any perspicacity in understanding what’s going on, it is also true that the political machine–the individuals who ought to know–does not know what’s going on, either. But, then, they are part of the problem, the dysfunction. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not–aside from the few reporters who raised up this argument (and were left to wander aimlessly in the Desert of Silence)–The Donald has his finger on the tenor of the times: the country is in turmoil, people are alienated, and he’s going to change it, dammit! Just as he sees fit–his idea of a fix.

The problem? Social dysfunction that has left so many out and so many without. A dysfunction that allows no success or improvement for much of anyone. The dysfunction of a crippling economy that boisterously shoots itself in the foot while increasing the inhumanity shown to the people without whom the self-styled elite could not function. The dysfunction of a society in great denial, a society of exclusion; the same kind of arrogant exclusion found in the religions of The Chosen because, after all, the elite are chosen.[4]

The dysfunction-makers haven’t the damnedest idea what’s going on or what they’re doing, either. Greed. Power. Self-interest. And to hell with the rest of you. The elite status quo is perverted, being composed of ideologues who interpret policies and ideas for their own benefit–and then have the academics from the better universities helping them. As with Adam Smith and his Wealth of Nations: aside from the fact that Smith was dealing with “nations,” he believed that corporations were the bane of existence, the ruin of an economy. But the academics kind of forget this. On purpose.

Because ideologues give no thought at all to the repercussions, to the consequences of their exalted weltanschauung, the rest of society is barbarized. Like a cancer, the elite status quo does not see itself as dysfunctional because it is only interested in living. Like a parasite.

Does anyone know why it is parasites die?[5]

Let me see if I can give you an idea of what’s going on, for The Donald is no more than a symptom of dysfunction gone wild.

What to do? What to do? Oh, oh, oh!

With the loud and vociferous blatherings against The Donald and “what’s happened to this country,” none of these loud mouths manages to think further than their wagging tongues and their prognostications of the end of the world as we know it. You may be sure, though, they will be right there in the heart of the carnage declaiming with great vigor and self-righteousness, “I told you so!”

Why are they only clacking their gums? Probably because they just don’t know; probably because the elite status quo likes the dysfunction–and The Donald’s taking over; probably because they are part of the dysfunction. Even so, this does not mean all is lost. If people would just shut up their self-reflexive ranting and raving, they might actually begin to see what’s missing. . .and do something. Because what you don’t see is important.

So, what is happening beneath the clamoring chatter and damning personal attacks of The Donald and his disciples of hatred?

According to Chalmers Johnson’s Revolution and the Social System[6] what we have is an Anarchistic Revolution. Anarchistic Revolution? Just exactly what is this? Aren’t all revolutions the same? Answer: no. The US has witnessed many anarchistic revolutions and has lost every one it’s involved itself in.[7] Johnson says that these anarchistic revolutions “occur in response to conditions in the social system when major changes. . .have already occurred.” These changes are supposed to have relieved a social dysfunction. But they’ve not. Thus, these people believe that these changes they disapprove of are the cause of the dysfunction. These people want to relieve changes to the dysfunctional world that caused further dysfunction that arose from previous changes to solve the dysfunction that exists now.

Johnson notes this might also be called a nostalgic revolution, whether the nostalgia is true or, as in “Make America Great Again,” imagined and romanticized, because the feeling is that “before now” was a better time.

We live our lives by our dreams and feelings, our wants and desires, by our idea of purpose and value, thought and belief–and yet these drivers of life are based on “an integral without-ness.”[8] So that “Make America Great Again” may have no relation to actuality but what’s important is the belief that it does. This belief fires people with enthusiasm and they become infused by the idea and go out and do something about it: The Donald’s apostles.[9]

At the same time, believers of this slogan (or jingle) of a need to “Make America Great Again” are looking back onto a time when life was better for them, less complicated, a time when they had more control over their lives. . .they believe. These people are looking for a return to the good old days–a nostalgia for “the past.” When were they, those good old days? And whose good old days are they talking about? All imaginary. All scientifically, materially absent. And all vital to living.

The Anarchist Rebellion that is infused with this nostalgia comes via a time when there supposedly were no controls on behavior, no controls on business; that is, a belief in total freedom.

Once again, when you have unbounded freedom, you have no freedom at all; what you have is whatever goes, what you have is a free-for-all. No rules, no regulations, no guidelines, nothing to help you make a decision outside “fuck the other guy, I’m important.”

Real or fantasized is unimportant, because it is just this human characteristic of running our lives on emotions, feelings, ideas and desires that we need to consider. Terry Deacon calls these influences absentials because you cannot see, feel, touch or scientifically prove their existence yet they are central to behavior and life.[10]

What is important is how these absentials affect (and effect) our world. Two perfect examples of this are the ideologue and the do-gooder.

Marx saw anarchistic rebels and their nostalgia as people who feel they have been left out of the advancements of society. Indeed, an anarchist rebel does see himself as having been “bypassed by history–and now they’re going to reclaim it,” dammit![11] These people, this take-over by The Donald–it’s all about dysfunction and their impression of the dysfunction and the necessity of change to right the wrong.

And the social dysfunction(s), for they are real?

The sources of dysfunction are always ambiguous via non-labeling–a well-known political ploy–but nevertheless are threatening to the rebels. Personally threatening. But “me”–and the narcissistic and victimized me me me–can do nothing about it until a leader comes along to bring all the mes together.[12] Not, however, a true savior. As the believers are “already” prepared, like marinated meat, by an idealized tradition that drives them on even though the idealized tradition is unreal. That is to say, these anarchistic rebels are out of tune with their own historical reality. Which is good for The Donald and this Anarchistic Revolution.

This present Anarchistic Revolution comes as a “last resort in attempting to frustrate changes in the system that run counter to [their idea of] their established function.”[13] These people have poor prospects for the future because they are looking, lurching toward a utopia based on an idealized, romanticized notion of the way things ought to be. They are only looking backward. Not to be wondered at as the future holds naught but fear (one of Deacon’s absentials). They are driven by an unrealistic, unfounded fear one might call hysteria.

The elite status quo created this situation–the great dysfunction of unbounded freedom and much else–and wallows in it into a future they believe they own; and as the elite status quo backs the socio-historical myth of freedom that is the basis of this country, the anarchistic rebels believe this myth fervently and, without question, follow the elites’ lead; and so, they truly become the lost ones they only believe they now are. The elite status quo is totally indifferent to the consequences of its changes or to these dunderheaded rebels (whom they are nevertheless using to advance their agenda–double patriotism).

The elite status quo, in creating more social dysfunction, is fracturing society–but they don’t care and, so, bring about the Anarchistic Revolution and their own downfall. In the name of total unbounded freedom. Which they have made the disaffected believe is what the disaffected want. The chaos that ensues will bring about total destruction.

Anarchistic principles are short-lived and are situation-specific, like whimsy. The über-anarchistic rebels and The Donald can be attacked and overcome through this out-of-context behavior; though, in fact, the falling apart of the nation may be a necessary precedent to a solution.

The Anarchistic Revolution is a means of giving meaning, of finding form and sense in the present chaos; it is the physical manifestation of an absential, a potential something. The Anarchistic Revolution is a beginning place for ideas of change. And the change is not necessarily what the mob wants; it will be the change The Donald wants; he is only pitching it as hatred of this, that or the other person. Like a used car salesman selling you a lemon in the name of an unbelievable deal.

Realizing the absentials that are driving The Donald, we can work to manipulate them and can thus handle the future. But if all we’re going to do is bitch and point the finger and concentrate on what he’s doing “at this moment,” we’re lost; and then, when The Donald brings the edifice crashing down, we will have nothing to offer, not even a bandaid. Because we’ve concentrated on items out of context, individual and out of context.

What are the principles? His dreams, desires, beliefs, values, intentions, purpose–absentials, things that are not yet come about but point somewhere, that are important. His hatreds (fears?). Unbounded freedom. And something he said early on about running the country like a business?[14] Only a start, a starting place.

There is a major problem, though: Congress feels the same way, in a material and mechanistic way, judging from their verbiage and ideology and the pushes (putches?) they’ve made in the past. And Congress makes the laws.

Or we can look at this time as a return of the dark times of the dark god Tiamat.

[1] Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister of Britain at the time of Hitler’s rise to power. Throughout, he kept telling people to give the man a chance, even after Hitler invaded Poland when he could not avoid taking the country into war.

[2] An ideologue is someone who is a blindly partisan adherent of a particular thought. There is no compromising with these sorts because any little tiny insignificant variance to the entirety of their thought is unacceptable. Ideologues are intolerant to the extreme. Visionary and idle speculators of some political or religious belief or other.

[3] Mark Twain remarked that people who do not read are more dangerous than people who can’t read. If we consider people who can’t read ignorant, then those who choose not to read choose ignorance over knowledge. If people read, they’d know the difference between socialism and communism. Paying attention to the absolute mess we’ve made in Africa with our idea of civilizing and advancement is one very good example of our arrogance and cultural narrow-mindedness, a result of not reading. In fact, it is not out of order to say that people do not know their own history. As evidence, the belief in the myth of the First Thanksgiving–and the subsequent behavior of the loving, open-minded and thankful god-fearing Pilgrims and white people: by the end of the 17th century there were virtually no Indians in New England, the very people who made it possible for the inept Pilgrims to survive.

[4] Social Darwinism: only the better sort succeed. And since everyone else is of the lesser sort they can be preyed upon.

[5] A parasite is a life form that lives in or on another life form (its host) and derives its nutrients, its ability to live at the host’s expense. As the host dies, so, too, does the parasite, having killed its food source. But it had a good go of it while it lasted. Cancer, tapeworm, leeches, lampreys, mistletoe, balamutha mandrilliaris.

[6] Hoover Institution Studies publication, Stanford University, 1964. No one since has done any study of a similar sort. One should look, nevertheless, into Ernst Cassirer’s The Myth of the State, even though The Donald is not the Moses.

[7] I think it might be interesting to look into what an anarchist is. Anarchists believe in unbounded freedom. Unbounded freedom means chaos. Anarchy is “the state of society where there is no law or supreme power; hence, a state of lawlessness or political disorder.” As with a biological cell, if there is no boundary, no cell wall, there is no cell, just a mass of stuff without definition or purpose. There are anarchists today who believe this is true freedom, however, and fly at any criticism with religious, fanatical romantic ideals about the goodness of people and how this will, without willing, bring about a just society. Utopian thinking? Again, when you have no bounds, you have no definition, no discrimination and whatever the hell you want–whim–becomes the imposed going thing because whoever doesn’t like what you’re doing can impose their wishes upon you. This kind of freedom always ends in a tyranny.

[8] Terrence Deacon, Incomplete Nature. But, also, heed Laozi, 11: “Therefore turn being into advantage, and turn non-being into utility.” Or, in a freer vein: “Though we can only work with what is there, use comes from what is not there.”

[9] “Human beliefs and purposes can shape events in ways that often have little direct relationship to current physical conditions. . . .” Deacon, p. 57.

[10] Cf. Incomplete Nature by Terrence Deacon, especially Chapters 0 and 1.

[11] Cf. David Mitrany, Marx Against the Peasant.

[12] In order to help give a solid footing here, see Richard Storry’s The Double Patriots where he lets us see the anarchistic quality in the history of pre-war Japan. It’s easier to see it’s shape in an unchanging environment (history) and then lay it over, like a transparency, the present and look for lines of conjunction.

[13] Revolution and the Social System.

[14] “It is in the realm of social interaction with other creatures like ourselves that we need tools for navigating the challenges created by ententional processes [absentials]. . . .social life constantly demands that we guess at, anticipate, and plan for the actions of others.” Deacon, p. 80.

Where No Self-respecting American Would Go–Part 3

The Third Day?–I’ve really lost track of time. . .

The electricity in the house is an afterthought: originally, there was none. Outlets are set on a wooden base that is hammered into the wall, there being only two. Otherwise, extension cords are the wound, old style cord draped everywhere like Christmas tinsel decoration, several plugs coming out of one extension end leading to other extension cord box–ends. Extension cords in China are different from those in the States. The cords are larger and more sturdy and the female end is usually a box with 4+ male connections. More often than not, the cords are white. I’ve added my own, of necessity, so that, when I’m using the rice cooker there’s an electric burn somewhere–I’m not sure which plug-in as I pass three, though the first does not seem to be a problem. Could simply have been because my hands were wettish when I plugged it in and water got down into the connection. Howsomever. . .with the cords draped hither and thither, this is a fire hazard. . .for the West. As this arrangement is not out of order, I begin to see how over-protective we Americans are, paranoid of the smallest thing. We go overboard. Yes, this arrangement can be dangerous and I do kind of shiver as I add more to the mess; but it is not prohibitive. Americans are so über-safety conscious that we almost prohibit ourselves from fully living; we repress ourselves. We are safe and more safe where it is not so very important. At the same time, I think the situation is that the Chinese are aware and, therefore, are more careful, more attentive, though it may not look like it. We Americans are afraid of everything.

Light bulbs hang naked into space, some in rather inaccessible places, some in corners that illuminate naught else but the ceiling and walls. To turn on the bedroom light, I must have the main room lit or I’d never find the cord with the switch: it is halfway along one wall around the side of a storage cabinet, near the old charcoal stove. Then, when it’s glowing, I can’t read in bed because the book is in the shadow as the light is across the room. Even during the daylight hours reading is difficult, as the windows are high up and to the side. I must buy another extension cord, one of the cheaper variety, so I can plug it in and have my bedside lamp. Lord–another plug to fill up a female end!

This type of arrangement is not out of the ordinary, so many people still live in these older houses where there was once no electricity. The extension cord phenomenon is everywhere because of the usual dearth of outlets in a room, even if built when home electricity was available–which was, in the scheme of things, relatively recently. This, I think, is unbelievable for Americans as we have come to expect electric homes and we can only see this, our way, as the acceptable way and that any other way is outré. Well, it may be but, in fact, it may be, as in this case, just everyday. Not only do we find these living conditions outrageous, if we allow ourselves to get so close, we cannot understand why these conditions exist since we avoid knowing of such in America and see any such poverty characteristic that we see in pictures as the problem of the people living in such conditions. The people have a character flaw. A very common characteristic of the classism that marks America. We push aside and deny such limited, backward, dangerous. . .situations and pretend they simply do not exist. Ignore it and it doesn’t exist, yeah?

The breaker box is a breaker and main power source boxes on a board on the wall. The breaker is of the old style: a lever with metal legs connecting into a ceramic holder. Actually, I like this better than the modern, Western variety. I’ve even repaired one, running thicker copper wire inside so that blowouts don’t happen as often, thin wires giving out under any kind of load easier than heavier wire. Easy enough to do; there’s no trouble knowing whether the electricity is on or not–the switch is right in front of your face, connection broken. No fuses. I would say that fuses don’t last as long, don’t tolerate overloadage as well as these old hatchet type devices, which you can make more tolerant by supplying higher gauge copper wire. Would fuses, then, be a means for the electrical industry to make more money in the name of technological advancement? I think returning to this type of breaker box, which is where the name (breaker) comes from (breaking the connection), would be better and less costly–and might make us more independent, less reliant on the electric supply companies. We might take on more responsibility for our own lives, do you think? We would be directly involved in its continuing functioning. But, hey, why would we want to do this when someone else can do it for us, eh? If someone else can do it for us–and there are definite situations where this would be best–we must pay more to live.

If you buy your own home in America, you are responsible for all its workings. If you can troubleshoot some situations, you save yourself money. However, there are so many laws about who can work on what and what can be done that it’s almost impossible to do anything yourself without breaking the law. And the insurance companies think you’re ignorant of any of this, whether you are or not, so they up their rates at the top of an extension ladder that just keeps right on going and going and going.

Because I was raised differently and because I worked electric construction for awhile, I found this set-up rather barbaric and unsettling. But nothing happened and when the lights went out and it wasn’t old bulbs, I was able to fix things. Meiwenti! I kept larger gauge wire on hand; I kept extra light bulbs; I kept candles and matches. Although I did have lighters, I preferred–and still prefer–matches, aside from the fact that they cost less and last longer. Even now, back in the States, I have boxes of safety matches in various rooms about the house, along with candles just in case. Nature and poor quality craftsmanship mess with technology. I have found that 4-5 candles set up on a table where I happen to be writing are good enough to illuminate the page so I can write and read. Granted, I don’t do this very often, but it is romantic! It is difficult to find acceptable candle holders; most are either tacky or over-priced or both. It is fun to improvise. Which means none of the candle holders I have match. . .nor do the candles.

It isn’t just China that is “behind” the US. Most countries in the world are not so invested in technology that imposes reliance. In fact, most of the world utilizes this kind of technology different from America, so much so that it might even be unsettling. But Americans are very narrow in assessing these situations and, like the Brits in the 19th century, are totally incapable of letting go of their lifestyle and culture. I think, with this inability to adapt, that most Americans overseas miss out on much of the culture and identity of the people. We do not let ourselves enjoy.

Far too often have I run into Americans who lambaste the Chinese for things Chinese because they do not come up to American standards, as if America is THE standard for everything great, wonderful and positive. Very many Americans look so far down on Chinese, and are not at all shy about going off openly on these situations and these people in front of “these” people, that I am embarrassed. We Americans are such a fucking judgmental lot!

Perhaps my adjustment was easier because I had lived in Japan 15 or so years before. In Japan, there is no heating in older housing. I lived in older housing–or even country-urban housing. No heat. No AC. Heavens to betsy! I would wake up in the mornings to an iced-over beard and moustache, sit up to turn on the kerosene heater and then lie down until the room warmed up. Electricity was limited, though less anxiety-provoking. And the Japanese are more apt to modernize because they can do it without losing their Japaneseness. Mao has all but wiped out Chinese culture. Mao, a man who had little understanding beyond himself and his opinions.

Eh bien. So it goes.

Now. . .a bit more needs to be said about the kitchen, a subject we may be revisting on and off. Not only are the side walls separating from the main room–there was no interweaving of the bricks, just an abutment with concrete filler–but the floor is moving away from the walls, moving westward. There is no foundation as we know it, so the floor and sometimes its walls in its entirety shift. There is a crack in the foundation, to give the simple bed of concrete laid on top of the ground character–about halfway into the little burrow hole. It stretches from one side to the other, making for a slight rise to the edges of the crack and then a kind of leveling off of the floor. I must remember to pick my feet up or I stumble forward–not enough room to fall to the floor without hitting the sink unless I twist to the side and bounce off the walls. (You can see I’ve done this before.) The floor is wet and sticky with something-or-other as my house slippers stick and slap when walking through. It never dries. Looking back when you’ve exited into the main room, you can see the darker, dampened area. Z. I imagine this is from the grease from cooking: there is no exhaust fan. The broken open window does no good, for there is no circulation of air in the kitchen to begin with.

The cooking corner itself has a different problem, aside from no fan, no outlet for the spattering grease and the steam or, in some cases, smoke. . .as last night when I could not move fast enough to get the chicken–which turned out to be spoiled–into the pan and fried and toasted the garlic. This kind of non-cooking makes for a blackening of the walls and ceiling beams. Remember, the ceiling itself sheds, so there’s a little discoloration up there, too. I imagine this situation is why the double window is forever open, aside from the fact that its hinges are broken. Not that it would help anyway. This little corner is like a den where meat has been roasted, meat gotten on the hunt, and the housewife labors and sweats to provide for her man–and her little ones. Once, little ones; now, one–unless you find a way to cheat. There are not, however, any fat deposits on the floor. The concrete here is dry, miraculously.

Although there was the usual two burner cooker top and some bottled gas, I brought in my own. Well, Fanfan and her father did. Made sure I did. Quite simply, mine worked and was clean. There was not much I could do with the little flimsy cabinet upon which it sat but not use the implements left to grace its dusty shelving.

I think some explanation is in order here. In China you cook with gas. You have a 2-burner cooker. No stove. And–hallelujah!–you cook with gas. Bottled gas that is delivered when needed. Large bottles. You learn how to turn it on and off. It is a must to turn the gas off, for there may be leakage. And, then, BOOM! Unless you are on a rotation with the gas company, the only way you can tell you are getting near replacement is to knock on the side of the bottle. Great empty metal bottles make hollow sounds. I must admit, over the seven years I lived in China, I ran out more than once. Because, although the university supplied the housing, you, the foreign teacher, had to make sure you did not run out of gas. At the university, I did not have to pay; on my own I did. However, there was so much gas left in my tank that I did not need to have it refilled. Fanfan and her father took what was left for their own when I went elsewhere.

I never figured out how people baked, for they do bake. Perhaps in ovens of clay? However, I did see students’ mothers steaming or stewing or whatever in the guo 锅 (wok in Japanese), the guo covered and over low heat. In some cases, the heat was not gas but wood. The wood was delivered or, more often than not, chopped yourself. In winter, the wood-fired stove made the kitchen the warmest place in the house. Indeed, in one especially snowy cold winter I was up in the mountains and, when I went in the kitchen to be with my student’s grandmother, she got up from behind the “stove” and made me sit there, adding more kindling because, well, Americans are not so capable of withstanding the cold. Up to a point, she was right. But anywhere I might have found myself with this woman would have been warm enough for me; however, other members of her family would not allow us to get together. There was a lot of culture involved in this and I learned it but I was none too happy. Neither was she. In fact, she was more “modern” than her children and grandchildren.

She had been a widow for nigh onto 40 yrs. Her husband died young, secondary to the Long March. That he or anyone survived is a miracle, for Mao was selfish, self-centred and manipulative–as long as he won, other people did not matter. According to some sources, Mao did not need to go through the hell he dragged people through; but it was strategically and politically expedient. Mao did not walk, he rode in a litter or rustic palanquin. When it was over, grandma’s husband returned home to farm in the mountains south of Hangzhou, on the south central east coast. This time of my visit was during the big snow of 2008. (I have written elsewhere of this.)

Day Four?

I washed clothes again this morning; I’m almost caught up. But it’s so overcast, so humid today that even after six hours outside the clothes are not dry. No direct sunlight. Breezy, though none really gets down in here, walls and buildings being on all sides. Some trees. I’m sitting in the pathway of the fan in the main room or I’d be sweating like a stuck, roasted pig.

This is where fans come in handy. Old people wave then slowly; younger people faster, more frantically. I’m somewhere in the middle. And everyone carries a fan, whether small or large. I have several, including one small one and one that folds up and fits into a shirt pocket. Mine are not masculine, as judged by American standards; sometimes, grandmother, nainai 奶奶, give me fans–even from stores, no charge. I make a point of going back to those stores for whatever it is. How can one forget such kindness? Such caring? Which is one reason they are so caring: customers return. It is more appropriate to shop in your immediate neighborhood, unless what you need is elsewhere, for this solidifies your relationship with the people. . .and it makes you, the foreigner, appear more normal.

I must admit I was a tad shy about whipping out a fan and fanning myself. But I soon learned. And I learned, too, that my Japanese fans, theatre fans, were too big and, no matter how subdued colorfully, were too much. I amassed several different kinds of fans, even went out of my way to buy some, on the cheap if I could find them. Now, if they are not lying around on tables, they are somehow suspended from the walls.

Fans and tissue, for use in the toilet, are mandatory accoutrements to living. Public toilets don’t have “paper.” Some hotel toilets don’t have paper. Neighborhood restaurants may not have a toilet–they may not have napkins, as we know them, either but, rather, a roll of toilet tissue, as we know it, on the table for wiping your messy mouth–not too many Chinese manage this–or your hands.

Which leads to a discussion of public toilets. This will not be a tasteful discussion.

I am so disgusted by the nearest local public WC that I won’t use it, preferring to suffer through constipation or the possibility of a leakage until such time as an opportunity for a better place happens. I am appalled. It’s almost enough to make you puke. My students would not use it either. The floor was wet, glistening wet, with papers, news and other, strewn about. Some of the squat basins had not been flushed, of anything. The huge plastic vats for pissing in were full. And it was dark in there. No electricity. Small windows placed high up near the ceiling.

The WC cleaners, whom you rarely see during the day time, only empty the piss tubs–except for the older variety where you shit into a pot. No one cleaned the floor, even as little as throwing water about. Then, the night soil men trundle down the street, piss and shit stinking to high heaven and slopping around in their huge vats. With the condition of some of the roads here, it’s a wonder there’s not a trail of waste down the street and spillage on streetside vending places. Everyone but everyone who might be out at all hours of the night gets out of the little truck’s way when the driver shouts he’s coming through.

However, some of the public WCs were no more than latrines, long channels dug into the hard, discolored ground up against one of the walls. Piss or shit, it didn’t matter. Splish splash, take a bath. And most assuredly bring your own paper. Around the corner from one restaurant I frequented, I ran in distress and hunkered down to do my business when the darkness was invaded by several men who did not even bother to pretend: they were there to see if it were true that Americans were so fucking big. Or maybe just to see if an American could do it the proper Chinese way. I could and it was too dark to see my things.

I noticed that the WC doors are not marked 女 or 男. I think there may be a method, with the 女 always being on the left, as you stand contemplating the outlets. I was helped by seeing boys come out of one; no one ever exited the other in my sight. I’m sure it would have been more exciting if I’d gone in the “wrong” one. I’m quite good at playing absolute idiot here. Such behavior is one of the 36 ways to victory found engraved into stone at Yunmeng shan (云梦山) outside Hebi City: act the fool (to gain information).

Yunmeng shan is the first military academy in China. It is on a hill, stony and cave-ridden; perhaps low mountain is a better description. Apparently, Sunzi studied there under the then old founding master. Any more information is not remembered. Yunmeng shan is not on tourist maps, unfortunately, as it is most interesting and, therefore, most unassailed by touristy fixing up. I’d like to go back for another tour. I wonder who I can get to come with me. . .

The wheel ruts in the hard stone of a great war chariot were pointed out. And the platform from which Sunzi was supposed to have jumped, without hurting himself, in order to be allowed to study. Someone said, in the neighborhood of 14′ right onto stone. Sunzi did not injure himself. The entire academy and its myriad buildings is a religious monument where people come to ask for help and, I suppose, meditate. I was not allowed to take pictures. This was considered rude as the people were praying, I was told. I acquiesced.

When I rode by the market last evening, at 5:30, there was no one there. No food vendors. Only grandfathers gathered at the far wall playing majiang (mahjong, to you). So, I rode back to my veggie haunt on Wenhua lu (文化路), Culture Road, only to find the meat places were not open. I bought veggies: 4 RMB (about 50 cents), enough for several meals. Wenhua is only cultural because it is lined with food vendors, fresh, and restaurants and stores/supermarkets. The Chinese like to eat. Alot. I think you could say the loves of the Chinese are sex, eating, drinking and talking. And more eating. No business is ever conducted without eating. . .and drinking.

We foreigners hear this as a story but, in fact, I was once at one of these business meetings, being part of the business enacted and to come. However, I bowed out of drinking as I had a class to teach. My behavior was much approved of, though I had to decline drinking even the polite first sip three times before it was acceptable.

But back to the house. . .

There is a bulging crack in the middle of the main room floor, though not of the split in the kitchen; here, the halves are still connected. I looked behind the curtains of the cabinet and found dishes, pots and pans, kettles and bowls. With the filthy dishes in the kitchen, a population of 20-30 could be fed and watered. Things just do not seem to get thrown away here, like poorer, what used to be known as white trash, neighborhoods in America, where cars and trucks long past use are rusting in the yards along with you-name-it all. . .sinks, water heaters, washers. . . . Happens here, as in everyday, inside and outside the houses. Chinese are pack rats–and yet there is little appreciation of art or antiques. No one fixes up an old house or building; one destroys it and builds a more modern one. Box-like and without character or any redeeming cultural value.

The storage house across the yard was once a lived-in house. It’s front wall of brick extends above roof level. There is a drain there where, in Europe, there would be a gargoyle spouting water. Cross-like openings extend across it. So, probably, there was a way up there, for other houses of a similar bent sport rooftop gardens. It would be nice to get up there, too. Above the rooftops, what could be seen? However, the next building over is at least two storeys high, with a brick balustrade around the roof. Only junk juts up over this. There are no windows on this side. But if I’d climbed up there, everyone and his mother would have seen me invading people’s privacy.

Between the storage house and my neighbor’s concrete block style house–most likely brick beneath the concrete face–is a wall of old bricks stacked up ¾ of the way. Are they hiding something? Are they “just there”? Being saved for some future use? Walls will be made thus. Unused, unwanted windows and doorways are blocked off by stacking old bricks in them, not finishing them off. Sometimes, when they are walls, the wall will gradually dwindle as these bricks find use. And, then again, temporary often becomes permanent. Better, I guess, than leaving them lying in a disorganized pile, as with the rest of the courtyard, at the far end.

The windows to the storage house are gone, all but one panel and ¾ of another. Why bother to fix it? Bicycles and basins don’t freeze. . .though I do wonder what the boy bathes in in the winter–and where. Now, he is in a big tub on the centre concrete slab as his mother pours cold water over him. Probably the public showers where the wind will not get you and the water is hot. In Jinhua (金华), pretty much in the centre of Zhejiang Province where once the elite of society and government officials lived during the Southern Song (南宋; 1127–1279)–and one of my student’s lived without knowing diddly of this history–the water was wood stove heated. Wood heated water feels different: softer and more truly hot. Other places use charcoal. I wonder if any go electric–the bill would be outrageous.

In an hour or so Tony will come by for dinner. He owes me for France’s win the other night. Tonight. . .Germany plays Argentina. I don’t know who the second game is between. Today is 30 June 2006. I start teaching part time on Monday.

Dinner tomorrow night with Carnation and Yuki.

 

The problem with WordPress

I am registered as Minna vaner Pfaltz, my pseudonym. I have a direct link to this wordpress account. But I am told, upon opening this site/page, that I am NOT Minna vander Pfaltz. Not only that but, upon opening my site, I find several posts from whoeverthefuck, articles I and Minna find utterly repulsive. But who to complain to?  Jeff the Happiness Enervator (I take liberties here) is not in the last interested because WordPress is never wrong. It cannot be. Anyone with half a brain could follow the given e-mail and find that, well duh!, it belongs to Jimsecor. What the hell is going on here? I’m sure that whoeverthehell posted to MY site has no idea where the title came from or what it means. How the hell did this happen?

This is my site. Mine and Minna vander Pfaltz’s. It does not belong to these other anatomic excretive valves. Yet they can post here and I cannot. (I went around the block to manage this.) I am told this is not my site and I must exit the program and enter via whateverthehell WordPress wants me to, though WordPress does not say just what it is I’m supposed to re-enter under. . . since I don’t exist and did not establish this page, though I can prove it.

Homer Simpson at his airhead blonde sorority sister cheerleader valley girl best has more sense.

Minna vander Pfaltz and James L. Secor