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2006-04-03 12:57 a.m.


Hi. The Hawk is gone. The new teacher is here. No nickname for her yet. She’s relatively young and has been teaching English for six years. Her English is nowhere near as good as the Hawk’s, unfortunately. She seems very sweet, but so did Matchan, at first. We’ll see how it goes.

My parents have officially asked me to return home at the end of the summer. They say it’s because my chances of getting accepted to grad schools next year would be better if I did, but somehow I think that’s not the real reason…

The questionably autistic kid has been doing a lot better. Lately he's decided I'm a good playmate (even if the games he likes are mind-numbingly repetitive). Yesterday he even called me by name, which really surprised me, and yelled "Hello! Bye Bye!" as I left. Major improvement. Nowadays he talks sometimes, plays with the other kids, and even participates in my English lessons (kind of). I think he's just gotten used to the environment, finally. It's been real interesting to watch his progress.

In fact, it's been real interesting to watch the progress of all those kids. They change so quickly at that age, and its amazing the difference a year makes in the little ones' language skills. A lot of them were not happy to be spending everyday at preschool/daycare when they first got there, but pretty much all of them are doing great now. I’ve really come to love the little buggers, and vice versa. Of course, now we’ve got a crop of new recruits and the cycle starts all over again…

I made my first political contribution yesterday. I feel like such a grown-up.

I’ve been thinking I should learn “Killing In The Name” on guitar. That must be the most cathartic song ever written.

Actually, I recently got into a huge email argument with my brother-in-law about religion. It started when he mentioned he was having some problems with certain aspects of the organizational system. I asked him just what, specifically, he believed. I think he found this a little provocative, because he busted out all the old arguments of why it’s true anyway even though it’s clearly a) less than perfect (from his point of view) or b) completely fucked up (from mine). Now, six months or a year ago I wouldn’t have bothered to make much of a response, but this time I was just tired of hearing the same old things and letting the speaker keep on thinking that it makes sense. Plus the fact that it’s family we’re talking about here makes a difference. So I took him to task.

The response I got back was long, passionate and, in my opinion, quite nasty. It also displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what I think and why, so I took it as a challenge to try and present a more cogent picture of my worldview (and I didn’t shy away from picking apart his arguments, either). I spent pretty much all of last week on it. I hardly ate, slept, or thought about anything else. All day, all night, for about four days. I sent it off Friday night (it’s Sunday now), but I have no idea what kind of response I’ll get, or when. Oh well.

"If you think you know what the hell is going on, you're probably full of shit." –Robert Anton Wilson

“Etymologically, a prophet is somebody who ‘speaks for’ somebody else, so I take prophecy with about the same amount of salt as I take press releases from a corporate shill.” –Switters

“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds- justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” –Lestat

“I don’t believe in anything. You told Armand long ago that you believe you’ll find answers in the great jungles and forests; that the stars will finally reveal a vast truth. But I don’t believe in anything. And that makes me stronger than you think.” –Lestat

“There is so much talk in this century of the nobility of the savage, of the corrupting force of civilization, of the way we must find our way back to the innocence that’s been lost. Well, it’s all nonsense, really. Truly primitive people can be monsters in their assumptions and expectations. They cannot conceive of innocence. Neither can children. But civilization has at last created men who behave innocently. For the first time they look about themselves and say, ‘What the hell is all this?’
‘So by innocence you mean not an absence of experience, but an absence of illusions.’
‘An absence of need for illusions, a love of and respect for what is right before your eyes.’” –Marius

“What you have to consider is the possibility that God doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.” –Tyler Durden

One thing I really realized during and after writing it is that Haunted by Poe is a truly amazing album. It started when I realized that the third track, “Control,” would seem to follow chronologically after “Haunted,” the second track, especially if this stuff is autobiographical, and then… I feel a bit foolish for never having done this before, but if you listen to that album straight through with the idea that every single track is about her family, specifically her father, and that all of it is in chronological order, then suddenly it becomes an extraordinarily powerful depiction of the process of rejecting the authoritarian system of your parents, becoming estranged, and then reconciling and forgiving (even if you still vehemently disagree, even if it takes someone dying to make it happen). (The album also not so subtly implies that House of Leaves can be read in a similar fashion, which makes me a lot more interested to read it.)

I listened to it that way today and cried my little eyes out. It’d be hard for me to imagine a better artistic depiction of what it’s been like for me, how I’ve felt in the past and how I feel today, than that album provides. It’s like a little self-help program. (Actually, I’m thinking of buying the Japanese edition for WTF, as she is most definitely not on good terms with her parents, who are very conservative.) I think one reason I never stumbled upon this interpretation before is that when I was first listening to it I was still very much in the Haunted phase (lyrics note: I always thought it was “lies,” not “lives,” but who knows), where I stayed for years (much of which was carefully yet ambiguously recorded here), transitioning into the Control phase. But since graduating, and especially since coming here, I’ve progressed a lot, gaining a lot of confidence. I’ve also started to get a little more confrontational, and Hey Pretty was basically my state of mind in getting into it with my brother-in-law. Terrible Thought is basically my attitude towards his worldview, and Wild is a surprisingly accurate depiction of my current attitude towards him (and I think it’s safe to say the same is true for his attitude towards me and my worldview, though a lot of those words mean totally different things if interpreted from his perspective). 5 & 1/2 Minute Hallway is uncanny in its resemblance to the current state of things with my parents. I still haven’t figured out how to make things sweeter, and I’m not sure it’s really possible at the moment, which makes me feel a little lonely, but wow, when it comes down to it… I’m amazed and I wish they were here

Anyway, add Poe to the list of people I need to meet, to get her to sign that fucking album and tell her just what it’s meant to me. It rocketed from obscurity to the top of my personal charts in a single listen. Poe is the man, or woman, as the case may be, and I’ll always be grateful for what she put into my world. I may have to buy my parents a copy, as well...

Actually, some things I’ve been reading lately about the value of taking things metaphorically have been making me think it might not be a bad idea to take a second look at religion. A lot of it has value; it’s the “you better believe that this ACTUALLY HAPPENED and is all LITERALLY true” bit that tends to get me. Zen is, ultimately, a little too authoritarian for my tastes, though I like some of its insights and spiritual practices. I think I’m really falling in love with Taoism, though. It’s like an extended riff on the parts of Christianity that I actually like…

“To practice a religion can be lovely, to believe in one is almost always disastrous.” –Tom Robbins

and here by the ocean the sky's full of leaves
and what they can tell you depends on what you believe
it's amazing

it’s a maze,