Thursday, January 15, 2009

Small on Awareness, Big on Excuses

A notion of character, not so much discredited as simply forgotten, once held that people only came into themselves partway through their lives. They woke up, were they lucky enough to have consciousness, in the act of doing something they already knew how to do: feeding themselves with currants. Walking the dog. Knotting up a broken bootlace. Singing antiphonally in the choir. Suddenly: This is I, I am the girl singing this alto line off-key, I am the boy loping after the dog, and I can see myself doing it as, presumably, the dog cannot see itself. How peculiar! I lift on my toes at the end of the dock, to dive into the lake because I am hot, and while isolated like a specimen in the glassy slide of summer, the notions of hot and lake and I converge into a consciousness of consciousness-- in an instant, in between the launch and landing, even before I cannonball into the lake, shattering both my reflection and my old notion of myself.
That's what was once believed. Now, it seems hardly to matter when and how we become ourselves-- or even what we become. Theory chases theory about how we are composed. The only constant: the adjuration of personal responsibility.

We are the next thing the Time Dragon is dreaming, and nothing to be done about it.

We are the fanciful sketch of the wry Lurline, we are droll and ornamental, and no more culpable than a sprig of lavender or a sprig of lightning, and nothing to be done about it.
We are an experiment in situation ethics set by the Unnamed God, which in keeping its identity secret also cloaks the scope of the experiment and our chances of success or failure at it-- an nothing to be done about it.

We are loping sequences of chemical conversions, acting ourselves converted. We are twists of genes acting ourselves twisted, we are wicks of burning neuroses acting ourselves wicked. And nothing to be done about it. And nothing to be done about it.
Introduction to "The Service," part two of Gregory Maguire's Son of A Wich.
There it is. I wish I could say such things as well.

Speaking of not taking personal responsibility- whether or not people are particularly aware- I had a humorous if frustrating conversation with an employee at CitiCorp yesterday. I would urge everyone else out there to do as I am doing, which is to not do business with that giant fumbling corporation ever again. It's run- not managed, clearly- by people who seek only to benefit themselves and don't spare the expense of others in doing so. Let them all burn. Figuratively, of course, as always, in the flames of their self-destruction.

And finally, before I go back to letting my homework kick my arse, I don't get this connection: people build homes- not houses, necessarily, but homes- over the course of years, with familial and community ties, as well as the material possessions they need (clothing, food, a roof over their heads and perhaps some insulation in the walls if in a colder climate) and even want, or that people have given them over time- gifts of sentimental value. Suddenly, along comes a raging fire that destroys everything- thankfully, at least while they are away so they survive physically unscathed; or a hurricane that kicks them out of town, only to return to a soggy mess of practically nothing.

These people stand next to those who take financial risks, knowingly (and if not knowingly, then they are riskier even), with their spare cash, in hopes that they will have a sweet sweet nest egg, or preferably become rich, and then the man to whom they entrusted that money, they learn- too late? maybe...) is a cheater and was cheating them out of their hard-invested cash.

And the connection is..?
Give me a break, NPR.

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