I’ve whined about my financial situation before, but I don’t think I’ve gone into the proper amount of detail about how much I hate having no money. Think of everything you’ve done today. Now imagine yourself doing those same things, but with no money. You’re eating Cheetos and masturbating, aren’t you? Okay, I think I’ve made my point.
I started reading the Bible not too long ago. I don’t think it’s the word of God; I just think that from a literary, philosophical, theological, and historical perspective, it’s one of the most important texts ever written, so I might as well learn a little about it. So far, it’s not bad. It takes a long time to work through the flowery language (I’m reading the King James version), but the good stuff is very inspiring and, needless to say, completely at odds with what the Christian right seems to believe.
I should talk about something current. Let’s talk about Barack Obama. I like him, don’t you? God knows I don’t approve of everything he does, but I’m pretty sure he means well. Even when he does things that seem wicked, I think he’s doing them out of fear rather than malice. I would not say the same for Mitt Romney (or any Republican, for that matter.) There’s a problem that affects my people (by which I mean, the DFHs of the world) that causes us to distrust anyone who is critical of us. I watched it happen when Christopher Hitchens, one of my heroes, took a controversial and unpredicted stance in favor of the war in Iraq. His defense of said position is far more eloquent and well-reasoned than anything we heard from the Bush Administration and the neocons, but even so, he was demonized by the liberal establishment for daring to disagree with them about anything. To be fair, some of what he said was reprehensible (he called the Dixie Chicks “fucking fat slags” after their lead singer’s notorious comment about Dubya) but that’s it: he went too far. I get very tired of people I respect sullying the name of a great pundit and thinker simply because he challenged one of their core beliefs with the same veracity and fervor that he challenged everyone else’s. No, Glenn Greenwald, Christopher Hitchens was not Ronald Reagan. Not even fucking close.
I used to write for a political magazine. One thing that I promised myself early on was that I would not mince words even if I came under fire for some of my statements. Sure enough, I was sharply criticized by one reader for taking aim at the sex columnists at my school paper. If you haven’t read my school paper, don’t worry. Every college newspaper has one: the oversexed, narcissistic tramp whose sole purpose for existing is to sit on a pedestal, spread her legs, and expect everyone to be amazed that (gasp!) she has a vagina. The reader accused me of being afraid of female sexuality. While I can’t claim to have much affinity for female genitalia, nothing could be further from the truth. It used to be called pornography to expect people to be titillated just by the knowledge that a female has a sex life. Now, it’s empowerment. What are we coming to? I’m not one for slut-shaming, but I have no use for women who think that their sexuality is exciting all by itself. For God’s sake, woman, have some fucking taste. Go out, get boned, and don’t come back until you’ve got something interesting to say.
What I look for in a columnist of any kind is not a desperate need for attention, but the belief that by sharing their own experiences, they might learn more about others’. I’m a regular reader of the New York Times. At first, Gail Collins and Paul Krugman were my favorites, but the more I read Frank Bruni, the more I like him. His politics seem fairly left-leaning to me, but I get the impression that he’d be more conservative if conservatives didn’t hate him. He espouses family values of the sort that are more inclusive than exclusive. Most importantly, he seems like a good person. There aren’t too many opinion writers out there who fit that description.
Broadly speaking, I have little time for anyone who thinks that they know more than I do. Even if you do, I care less about knowledge than curiosity. The great thing about learning is that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Shakespeare was brilliant, but he wasn’t better than the theater; the theater is better than him. There are worlds in my head. I need time to draw them out.
I don’t believe that life is too short. I believe that it’s long enough, but only if you don’t let anyone tell you what to do with yours. Unless you are the sort of person who spends his life making others’ miserable, there is no such thing as wasted time. I write fiction as well, and while it isn’t exactly cheerful stuff, it’s rarely despairing. If you can’t make people happy, you might as well enrich them. I’m not interested in pleasing anyone. I want to learn from them, if they will let me share what I know.
Mad Men is one of my favorite shows of the moment. Part of the fun for me is debating which character is the worst human being. Joan is a ruthless, evil bitch, but Roger is pretty damn selfish. Pete, for me, is not immoral so much as completely lacking in empathy. He may seem like a sociopath, except that he experiences human emotions but has no idea what they mean.
There might be writers who write because they want to make other people happy, but I make no such claim. I do this because I want to sleep at night. I wish there were a Sonic Screwdriver I could point at this problem to rectify it (Ha! You thought I couldn’t work a Doctor Who reference into this one!) but this is the sort of thing that takes time and experimentation to resolve. (On another note, I wish they’d just rename that thing the Lazy Screenwriting Device.) In the meantime, I have books to read, worlds to save, and languages to learn.