Sunday, December 13, 2009


"Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I,
But mind-chains do not clank where ones next neighbour is the sky."
-from "Wessex Heights" (1896), Thomas Hardy.

I've always thought that the sky is so much bigger here; wider.

"Welcome to New York
The Empire State."

I've been theorizing about what my Amelie character introduction would sound like, having watched it through last night for the first time, and so far a definite inclusion in the 'dislikes' would be "the wave of nausea and discomfort that reaches you on remembering that you have to wake up early to catch a train or bus or plane"; that's really awful.

I really need to keep my camera on me at all times; we just drove past a random, living tree by the side of the tracks that some festive soul has adorned with impromptu winter decorations; "little signs of human goodness that make my soul smile" I think can go into the 'likes' category, this being a beautiful example.

To paint the backdrop, I was up at around 2:20 this morning to catch a taxi to Kingston bus station, where I caught the 3:45 bus to Montreal. I then picked up a taxi from Montreal bus depot to Montreal train station, where I picked up my ticket for the 9:30am Amtrak from Montreal to Penn Station, New York, on which I am now sat. Having watched the miles of Canada drift past in a blizzard of whiteness, we're now just across the border and into New York state; it's just started sporadically to rain white here too, and, once customs have given us the go, the landscapes of upstate will be printing across my window as I chug down the country towards the city I am once again calling home.

(pause while customs & border protection make their rounds) wouldn't believe the difference in reception going into these United States with an American passport; the only time I've used my British one (on a school trip), I wasn't even quite sixteen yet, and I remember being treated with enough hostility to leave me genuinely hurt as I left the airport, although, this was probably exacerbated by how accustomed I had been to the usual friendly smiles and "welcome home". The latter wasn't the precise phrase used by the customs officer when I flew into JFK at the end of last month, but "welcome back, hun" was sufficient still to bring that smile and sigh of being home. This officer that's just finished checking our carriage was particularly kind also, and a reminder (as if I needed any more) of why I feel so deeply that I belong here, despite having been born and almost entirely raised in England. I generally put this down to the combination of countless Christmases and Summers in New York, and having been raised by an entirely American mother, but really the origin of my sense of belonging and patriotism isn't all that relevant to me; I just love this big crazy country and feel so blessed to be able to call myself a citizen when so many would give so much for the privilege which I was born with.

Ok, we're moving again and I'm falling into America The Beautiful goo again, so I'm gonna go back to listening to mixed tapes and consuming Pfeffernusse and Twinning's gunpowder green tea and write again when something interests or inspires (of course, as usual).

"Well, Penny, like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method."-Karen Eiffel, Stranger Than Fiction :)

"Like a little spider, I'm climbing the insurmountable, but I never hold myself accountable."-from KT Tunstall's 'Drastic Fantastic'

I know and love so many people who would just adore this ride, these views. It really is so unbearably beautiful, I can't put the Flip down, even though I know it won't do justice to the colors and vastness of life here...(watch this space for a most likely long and dull video of passing upstate landscapes out of a train window haha).

Sign by the railway crossing: "Please drive safely, we <3 our children."

No more lakes now, but there's a big strong river running alongside us whose rocks look like big marshmallows because of the snow.

Ooh, more lakes :) (just outside Port Henry)

I'm getting increasingly curious about these orange "POSTED" signs that I keep seeing stuck to trees.

Slightly concerned that the live No Doubt performance I'm watching may look, to the glance of a passerby, like porn. Hahah...oh my. If I could ever achieve even ten percent of Gwen's stage presence as a frontman, even for one song of one gig, I will be beyond content.

Shoot, I just wanted something to watch, but it's set me onto the ND now. "do it right now, do it right now," maaaan I love Beacon St.; nothing more keeps you hovering longer when you're on a high than old skanky No Doubt. Not that it's their best work; it actually kind of frustrates me when "hardcore", purist fans go on about how they like their earliest work better than the newest just for the sake of letting everyone know that they're such a devoted listener blah blah. Isn't it kind of a little insulting to an artist to be asserting that they haven't made any decent music in years? Ok, rant over haha. My favorite album so far is Return Of Saturn, but I have high hopes for the stuff that's in the writing as we speak/I type. I mean, I would consider myself a pretty hardcore fan, except for the fact that I haven't seen them live yet, but I really haven't had the opportunity. One of many travesties I can blame on my year of birth (just missing the eighties, never seeing Queen live, never seeing Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl on broadway, missing the Mac's "glory days", as t'were, being a little too young to marry Stevie Nicks...)

Another like: "when telegraph poles (/other objects) pass the window in time with the music I'm listening to".

Ok, I was just semi in a daze and moved my head to look away from the window, and because the glass is warped it makes it look like your view's gone like wavy...and for a split second I swear to god I thought I was going into a flashback or a dream sequence or something...hahah signs you're overtired?

Wow, phonecall frenzy. Ma and Shell :) all of which is good except that I can never tell how loudly I'm talking, so I always worry that I'm being really inconsiderately loud when I get a call on public transport. I'll just have to gauge it by how scornful my fellow travelers' glances are.

We are now stopped at Albany-Rensselaer for like a half hour 'cause we're ahead of schedule, and some oldish lady just walked past the window wearing what I can only describe as some kind of little white bonnet thing. Also I'm pretty sure I can hear Christmas music playing on the platform (Y).

Dislikes: "when arm or foot rests aren't at a comfortable height".

Wow, beard alert.

Ohh no I keep drifting asleep, no no no. If I fall asleep now I'll never wake up again.

Ok I'm managing to stay awake, and I'm gonna go get something from the cafe cart thing once we start moving again to keep me alive for the last leg. Due into Penn station in just under two and a half hours, then subway to the ferry dock, hopefully catch the nine o'clock ferry, then train from St. George back to Beth's. THEN tomorrow *morning* we are driving down to Grandma's in May's Landing. And all of this following the drive, ferry, subway into Manhattan and then two buses (13 hours & 3 hours) to get up to Kingston four or five days ago...a journey which I managed to drag myself through only five days after flying to New York from London. I should get some kind of medal or award or something for this. Oh no wait, I did. I'm living in New York, I got to spend four days with Shell, and I'm gonna get to see Grandma.

While I hope I remember to exclude this from whatever I actually post of this rambling stream of consciousness, it has just occurred to me that by the time we get into the city, I will have spent more time with the people in this carriage with me today than I have ever spent with the person that I may well be falling in love with. How crazy :)

It's now 7:03pm, and I'm going to let Clodia rest for the last little while. So, we shall end as we began:

"The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in."
-from "Snow In The Suburbs", Thomas Hardy.

It's been a joy :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It can be difficult to write in public. Especially when you're somewhere like on a plane, where you know people have nothing much to do or look at and so will be more likely than usual to look over your shoulder at your book or film or, in my case, impromptu blog post/general writing being typed in an unfamiliar and kind of cool-looking word processing application... oh, and once again iTunes shuffle manages to tap into the universe and give me a song of such relevance and humor that I can't help but wonder if perhaps its magical powers are increased by the altitude. Yes, altitude. This is almost definitely the highest post I have ever written, as I am currently... (excuse me while I attempt to navigate the oddly counter-intuitive functioning of the entertainment screen to find the in-flight info) ...ooh, we're almost over Newfoundland :), why would I want to look at the air map thing in this many different formats, tell me the altitude please... really? A whole planet view?...Planet view including weird blob of darkness thing indicating the geographical placement of nightfall? Really?... ah, here we go- 35777ft. This information no longer really feels all that worthwhile, having sat through two and a half rounds of the amusingly elaborate/useless informational graphic reel...ok, screen off. And down to business. Why am I currently over thirty-five thousand feet over that unimaginably vast, sometimes lethal, often beautiful body of water we like to call the Atlantic Ocean, Clodia cramped awkwardly between my seat-belt buckle and quaintly designed tray-top, falling into a writing style so convoluted and hyper-descriptive as to be painful to garner any meaning from? (d'ya like what I did there?...haha). Well, I'm here because I did it.

I have this memory that recently decided to show itself suddenly and for no apparent reason (as is consistent with how my memories often make their entrance) of a time when my mother, my sister and I were living in London in a little apartment above a Chinese take-away place on the Watford Way. Mom was studying sports therapy at Hendon College down the road, Jess was in maybe her first or second year of secondary school at Loreto College in St.Albans, and I must have been in year four or five of primary school at St.Joseph's, just around the corner. Despite the occasional rats and cockroaches, and the (not entirely unconnected, I'm sure) constant and eventually chronically nauseating smell from the restaurant downstairs, we were three girls, a family, just getting along, learning and living and laughing together, and it was a good time. And the particular memory that recently drifted back to me of this time was during what would've started out as one of the more difficult days; our nearest supermarket was a good twenty minute walk down the noise and dirt of the motorway, and, although this isn't really much of a journey alone or with only fully-grown companions, with two young daughters and (on the return trek) a week's groceries, I consider my mother (not uncharacteristically) brave to undertake such a task on a regular basis. Anyhow, so on some nights, when Jess & I were particularly cranky from the errand, or it was dark enough to worry about the dangers of London at night, we would be spared the daunting walk and treated to a cab ride home by our merciful mother. On this particular night, not only was it dark when we got outside, but it was one of the first really bitingly cold nights that are a sure-fire sign Winter has truly elbowed Fall out of its way (a night not unlike, incidentally, tonight), and it might've been raining, although I can't say for sure. The three of us were standing shivering outside the neon warmth of the supermarket waiting for the then smoky comfort of a cab's dustiness and new familiarity, when our mother decided to let us in on the surprise she'd been teasing us with for the past few weeks. We were going to New York for Christmas. Now, for most young girls, this surprise would perhaps have meant a big, famous, shiny new city in the fabled country of Hollywood and perpetually flattering lighting, but for us, this meant a trip of unequivocally insufficient length, this meant a Christmas that counted because it was white, this meant Grandma, and cousins, and Jolly Ranchers; this was the promised land. Home.

This is the first memory I have of crying from pure joy. These days it isn't all that rare an occasion, but at the time it was completely unexpected and, frankly, quite alarming. And that overwhelming joy that I, age seven or eight, felt at the prospect of the journey to a place where, for some as of yet unexplained reason, I felt so comfortable and content, as though the entire country were my own bed, that I pined for it like a relative, never faded, never waned. Every trip was as revitalizing as it was saddening, because, whether it was ten days, two weeks, or twenty-one whole, correct days later, I always had to leave. And so, when it came to my attention, as my last year of school came speeding towards and through me, that I couldn't go any longer studying when my mind pulled my focus so fiercely towards writing and playing music, there seemed little question as to the inherent interconnectivity of these two ideals; I wanted to go to America, and I wanted to play music. I wanted to play music, and America was the place to do it. But I had to get there myself. I was a grown up now, and if I was going to take the reigns of my life and build it how I'd always felt I could and would, I had to do this right. So I moved out of my Mom's home, and away from the small town we'd landed in for the past five years, and back to London to work my way to New York to sing. Six jobs, three changes of address, a drastic haircut, a new best friend, and hours of sleep deprivation later, and I was walking to the bank with enough wages saved to get me across that sky of water and give it a try. And so here I am. I have packed up as little as I could bear of my belongings (not very little, in fact, at all), I have kissed my mother and father and brother and sister goodbye, and I am breathing. I'm on this plane, for the first time in my many flights without family or Shell or school, and I'm sitting next to a woman with a kind soul and my Grandmother's eyes, and the the head-rush fumes of her nail-polish are assuaging my nerves, and I am alive. And I am tired from this past year, and I am anxious, and I am sad at the lack of my recently so warm and present family, and I am older, as always, than I should be, and I am on my way.

Friday, August 07, 2009

one of my favorite customers on tax:

"Tax is a way of taking honest money off honest people and giving it to jews."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

on music...

...and being an artist. But in the place of my own rant here, I'm gonna leave it to some of the people I admire most on Earth to put into words what I can't yet get past a deep emotional state.

I found this Melissa Etheridge quote a while back; I can't remember where, but it really spoke to me and to where I feel music or any art should be coming from:
And this sort of whole dream of success and this dream of “I’ve got to have a hit song”, “I’ve got to do this” – it wasn’t mine – I don’t wish to dream that anymore. I wish to create - I believe that there’s a world out there, who wants to hear music like this, who wants to put music on to be fed, to be nourished, to be held up and enlightened and excitened. And I believe that artists do that for people, and that I can do that for people."

A couple of years back,
KT Tunstall (an artist I have a great deal of respect and affection for) recorded a beautiful acoustic album over a few days around Christmas on the Isle Of Skye, and during a little clip from the adjacent DVD, she says something which I had to rewind and listen to twice or three times because of how much it was my exact way of thinking. It really stuck, to the extent that I paraphrased it as the title of my music blog, "Chasing Songs":
"My experience of writing music is that I don't really have a choice, it just..I kind of follow it. I'm sort of chasing songs, and I catch up with them."

Alanis Morissette is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most talented and characteristically beautiful artists on the planet right now or for a long time. Her generosity of wisdom and of her gift, her peaceful spirituality, and her humble earthliness and warmth all make her, for me, a truly phenomenal artist. These words speak so directly to me, I can't imagine explaining the basis on which my mind, ambition, & heart work better than she has:
"I live to heal ruptures and bridge the human and the divine aspects of life, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through speaking, writing and art, I can support people in their personal journeys, wherever they may be at," she explains. "The initial writing is for me, and the sharing of it is my offering to others to make these songs and writings their own. For people to derive comfort, inspiration, validation or self-definition in accordance to what I write or how I live...this is my service."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Regina Spektor's "Far", & gig at the Serpentine Sessions, Hyde Park (06/29/09).

Good afternoon all :)
I realized recently that I kind of mentally/verbally write hundreds of reviews, and so I'm thinking it might be fun to actually get some down somewhere. And seeing as this is the place for getting things down, here goes.

The Record:

It's been almost ten days since I bought Regina Spektor's latest album "Far", and I'm thinking now is the optimum reviewing moment. Ok, so we should probably get one thing straight before I start writing this: I love Regina Spektor. In my iTunes there resides five hours' worth of Regina (all five available albums, and whatever else I can find without the use of things like LimeWire, which I dislike intensely). Of eighty-three songs, sixteen are rated four stars and the rest are five-and I take my iTunes ratings very seriously and am very conservative in my starring. For the purposes of perspective, No Doubt (who are my favorite band of all time, and whose entire discography I also own) have only twelve five-star songs, out of ninety-one. And I arguably love every No Doubt song that has ever been recorded. So, yeah, Regina Spektor is an utter genius and I cannot fault her. I adore her originality, the strength and beauty of her voice, her command of instruments/random objects as instruments (including her evident life long bond with her main instrument, piano). And I love her character. When she sings, it's as though she becomes the music-she's so alive and big and strong and animated; and then as soon as the last note rings, this sweet, shy, modest, even child-like persona emerges-usually expressing profuse gratitude to her audience. I love her love and her oddness and bravery and talent, and I love her spirit and...I'm gonna stop now because I may be worrying my girlfriend slightly haha. But nevertheless, it does happen that artists I adore release albums that disappoint me (Alanis' "So Called Chaos", zum beispiel, made me almost resent her being in a stable relationship hah), and I'm always part nail-biting when waiting for a release from someone important in case it fails to enamor me.

When I first start listening to a new album, I always resist shuffling to start with so that I hear it in the intended order and don't neglect songs that I haven't heard yet or don't immediately click with. During the first few runs of "Far", it immediately struck me as having a very different atmosphere from previous albums, especially the most recent, "Begin To Hope", in that the first few songs almost seemed to flow into one another; rare for Regina, as her tracklists are usually so eclectically varying in style and subject matter they read like titles off the "other" shelf in Odd Library, Randomsville, Tennessee haha. For want of a less ridiculous analogy. So this album has that new element for me for a start; it flows, and so listening to it in its entirety feels like a journey, which I really love in any record.

Another development is the unexpected presence of far more "personal" lyrics than usual; a defining quality of Regina's music, and one of the first things one would most likely notice when listening to especially her earlier work, is that much of her writing is in dramatic monologue, which adds to her unique quality and gives her subject matter a warming universal feel, but means that we don't see much actual Regina directly. What I mean is that, when listening to an artist, one of the most prominent aspects of appreciation for me is feeling as though I'm getting to know the writer through his or her lyrics-which is more of a challenge when the artist is often writing from others' perspectives or telling stories, however enthralling the stories may be. So, much as I love this aspect of Regina's writing, I appreciate the more personal lyrics occasionally-this was something I liked about B.T.H. and am glad to see in Far as well :)

I have to say I'm also shamelessly overjoyed to see the return of a lack of accessibility/increase in oddness in songs like "Genius Next Door" and "Dance Anthem Of The 80's", and also of that kind of uplifting, wise characteristic found in "Laughing With" which is reminiscent of "Ghost Of Corporate Future", the first Regina song I ever heard and fell in love with all those years (three or four haha) ago when I stumbled across Queen Spektor by chance on MySpace, back in the day when you could search by genre and location (genre: folk/alternative, location: New York). MySpace has done some good to the world after all haha.

I am super happy to see the inclusion of songs such as "Blue Lips", & "Human Of The Year", which I'd heard live and loved and hoped would make it onto the next album. I am feeling the lack of "Bobbing For Apples" slightly, but can see its place as a live number and its potential to have rifted the flow of the album slightly with its... volume? Haha. Also very very glad at the joy and positive energy that the presence of "Wallet" and "Folding Chair" brings; again, having heard live versions of these I hoped they'd make the cut, so :)

My overall? "Far" is a beautiful, full, perfectly Spektor album, with lines like "what if the sword kills the pen?" living strongly alongside "...we're all laughing with God.", and old school stories like "Riot Gear" and "Genius Next Door" flowing seamlessly into the bravely immediate "Eet", "The Calculation", and "One More Time With Feeling", both species of song speaking with that universal quality that Spektor so often carries, but for different reasons. I love that for me it seems to show an evolution in Regina, but that she hasn't succumbed to the very easy trap of yielding to commercial success and grown accordingly into something not herself (not that we ever dreamt she would). I love that I can sit and listen to it and fall into its feel or atmosphere and be in a state of joy illimited but still very awake. I love Regina and I love "Far".

Rating: Immaculate Collection

The Gig:

The first time I saw Regina Spektor live was at Festival Hall a couple of winters ago, and that was one hell of a concert. Mesmerizing, beautiful, and unique. The audience was respectfully silent during every song; you could hear every perfect note and line resonate through the apt venue throughout every song, broken only by the wild release of applause between songs which continued into a roaring, full standing ovation for the entire five or ten minute pause before the encore and pretty positively identified the during-song silence as out of pure respect. And it was a phenomenal gig, which fit perfectly with its surroundings in what is very much a concert hall. It was concert perfection, almost classical, and it left me in awe.

But, in her own words, "good is better than perfect", and I'll take a gig over a concert if pushed-and Hyde Park was a gig. A reviewer in the Guardian (in a review of Bon Iver's set the following day) described the tented stage at the Serpentine Sessions as "in the shadow" of Blur's big loud stage, also up in Hyde Park, and I'll allow that it was a little intrusive on first walking into the area, but the gig that took place in that comparatively little stage in the tent outshone any gig that I can imagine on the hulking industrial monster beside it. The very smallness of the venue actually gave the gig a real intimacy and feeling of connection not only with Regina herself but with the crowd as well. I spent the couple of hours with my shoes off, singing along with the lack of inhibition of being in the shower (as I always do at gigs :) ), loving her presence and the whole spirit of the time & place, and appreciating the perfection of this gig in its imperfection and individuality, and Regina's evident ability to bring this sense of moment and fitting unique character to each live performance. Not particularly long, not in some arrogant big-stuff venue, and not with comfy seats or a perfect view, but this was easily the most awesome gig I've ever been to.

Moment of the night: just before "Bobbing For Apples" Regina, apparently overcome by the uncontrolled applause and general reception- "Man...I wish I could fit all of New York City in here; everyone would be so happy to see you guys. You're fucking awesome."

Monday, May 04, 2009

My Grandfather On National Defense:

"They say we're out defending the country in Afghanistan and Iraq, how can we be defending our country there? If there's a group of people fighting out in the street you don't jump in to help; get your head knocked off. If you're wise you don't anyway, if you're drunk you might. Either way you get your head knocked off."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

on religion and morals

Being both a philosophy student and a person who, for some probably logical but as of yet unknown reason, has a weird amount of Christians in her inner circle of friends, this is an area of great interest and importance to me. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time in thought and conversation regarding the place of religion in my life and in the world, and have a painful abundance of material to share regarding my relation to religion and its development.

My start in the world (not accounting for the possibility of past lives and such) was dictated to a relatively significant extent by religion; I refer to myself occasionally as a “cradle Catholic”, a term which, for those unfamiliar, describes a person who, like myself, was born into a Catholic family and consequently Christened under and raised within the Catholic church. And so, every Sunday until my parents’ divorce (and thus our alienation as a family from the church) we went to mass, my sister and I attended Catholic school, and I can say pretty confidently that I was a perfect little Catholic girl, due to the solid faith which was programmed into my impressionable little mind that there was an all powerful and relatively fickle deity up there watching my every move.

And so, fairly predictably, the volatile combination of my own deeply inquisitive, thoughtful nature, and the pressure any child is under when involved so inevitably in what I would describe as essentially a cult, when met with the catalyst of my wonderfully liberal maternal Grandmother introducing me to genuine, thrillingly new alternatives to Christianity, led to my rebellion from the Catholic church, which had been becoming increasingly unsatisfactory to me as I approached my pre-teen years as it was. From this new awareness I had gained of this idea of freedom of religion, I went out and proceeded, naturally, to subscribe to yet another organized religion, but this time it was a) one that made a lot of sense to me logically and morally, and b) about the coolest one I could find: Paganism, or, Wicca. And so off I went into teendom, with my Grandmother’s graceful, seemingly eternal ‘Mother Nature’-esque example in front of me, as a very green, but also remarkably revering, witch. I was Pagan because I loved that I could be a part of a religion which worshipped not something ethereal and male; both “omnipresent” and yet seemingly omni-absent, but instead something which I could see all around me, and see as worthy of worship in its undeniable beauty and power, something which was both male and female, like the World itself, and capable of both good and evil, like Humanity itself: Nature. At last I could channel my prefab faith and appreciation into something which I had decided for myself with my own mind was worthy of worship. I remained involved in Wicca for a few years, until eventually my involvement waned to interest, and finally simply an objective appreciation and affection, which it remains to this day.

Again I had given my all to a religion, my energy and interest and faith, and this time entirely voluntarily, and yet still, with time, that faith which I tried so stubbornly to truly feel and live had diminished, fading eventually into nonexistence. I was sure there were some things I believed in, but what I did believe was not only considerably vague in my own mind, but unsettlingly contrary any of the mainstream, or even the less mainstream, religious groups which I was aware of. And so, after a brief period of fashionably cocky staunch Atheism, I at last found my true Savior: Philosophy. Or, to be more specific, you could say that I found my true Holy Trinity: Philosophy of Religion, Mrs. Evry, and Bertrand Russell. I took Philosophy at A-level because for some reason I was just drawn to it. And, unintelligently “wishy-washy” (as Evry would, I suspect, observe) as that sounds, I cannot give you any more reason than that because there really isn’t any. But thank the heavens I did (and yes, for someone who doesn’t believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of God, I do vocally invoke him rather often; if you are offended by this, don’t worry, I’ll get mine).

Through my two years’ study of Philosophy, I learned how to essentially do some much needed clearing out and organizing of my thoughts and beliefs, and to begin to think in a different, more coherent and logical way, which vastly improved my state of mind, capability as a student, and proficiency as a person, and which to this day impacts greatly how I think and live. On my Facebook (or Bacefook as I prefer to call it) profile, my religion is listed as simply “:Bertrand Russell”, as I have him, along with my wonderful, witty, inspiring teacher Catherine Evry, to thank for my current comfortable, crafted almost, religious outlook. And although I am yet of only the tender age of eighteen years, the perspective which I hold now I feel intrinsically allows for any future alterations in my views. So what are my religious beliefs now? Some might describe me as having no religion. Were the whim to take me to subscribe to an organized religion of some form it would probably be Hinduism, as this fits most comfortably with my moral and spiritual life, but as of yet this particular whim has not taken me. I could describe myself fairly accurately, I would say, as a ‘fideist agnostic’; I believe very fundamentally that any belief must be understood and treated as just what it is, (as is evidenced even in the dual definition of its synonym)- faith. Not knowledge, not a self-evident, indisputable truth which others must be informed or convinced of or else, but belief.

I have a hard time imagining that a person is no more than their physical composition, and this, along with my own obscure ‘sense’ or ‘feeling’ that I have a soul, leads me to believe that human beings have souls or spirits. It also makes quite a lot of sense to me that perhaps these souls could be in a kind of recycling process, moving into new bodies and experiencing new lives once our current bodies cease to be handy vehicles via which we can live. My moral structure is a simple but logical one; I live by the incontestable principle that joy is good, and hurt is bad (to utilize some simple but effective nursery-style vocab.), and so my moral objective is to create as much happiness and as little harm as possible. Obviously this is a large-scale theory, and must be understood as such-so anyone who is about to interject with some example of the joy one man may find in bashing another’s head against a wall is asked to think more broadly in order to understand that this is not justified within the theory, because the hurt caused by this man’s theoretical Neanderthal actions would negate overwhelmingly any superficial happiness that he may gain from the attack; the idea is for the most overall positivity in the world, and so takes into account collateral ramifications of every action. And so I try, day to day as well as on the long-term, bigger scale of my intentions for my life, to live and work for the avoidance and healing of pain, and the creation of joy. My specific ethical beliefs can hopefully be inferred from their derivation in this principle, but any questions as to my views on particular moral issues are welcome and will be met with, yes, you guessed it, yet more rambling transcript from my overactive mind.

I believe that the Judeo-Christian concept of God is logically incoherent to the extent that, although it cannot be strictly disproven via reason, I personally am incapable of having any genuine conviction of the possibility of his existence. I also believe, while we’re in the vicinity of gendered pronouns, that the gender imbalance in the World, caused greatly by religion since the hostile replacement of earlier, more gender-balanced faiths with Christianity (and Islam, et cetera), is the root of many if not all of the major issues which we as a species have faced for centuries and continue to face. My views on this coincide fairly accurately with my views on partisanship U.S. politics; there’s a reason the flag involves both red and blue- elements of both are required to create a balanced state, just as a balance of gender is required for society to function to its fullest. Religion’s part in this gender crisis (no, not hyperbolic in the least) somewhat shakes my appreciation of the positive societal role it plays in giving people hope and direction, although this appreciation does fundamentally endure, and is one reason why I find it very difficult to condemn organized religion outright.

Another intrinsic problem I have with organized religion is the tradition of its involuntary enforcement onto entirely defenseless children by parents and other adults in positions of authority. I am a very strong advocate, as a citizen of the United States of America, of freedom in all senses of the word, including of course religious freedom (incidentally, when I turned sixteen I was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, the simplicity and wit of which I respect greatly to this day), and raising a child into a religion without elucidating to him or her that this religion is not fact and is not the only option, seems to me to be a flagrant disregard of that child’s freedom of thought and of lifestyle. I appreciate how this may be a tough one, especially for the very devout among parents and guardians, as even I will attest to the disciplinary and developmental positives of religion in a child’s life, and can of course understand the desire of a parent to want their child to share in their faith, but I truly believe that children, as human beings, respect not only honesty but the opportunity to think for themselves, and are likely to, in turn, respect greatly any adult which offers them these things. Try to imagine yourself, as a child, having a grown-up explain to you what religion is, and that there are a myriad of religions out there which you are free to explore and understand and become a part of if you wish, and then explain, as an example, his or her own religious views. All I can say is that I believe I would have had a great deal of respect for that person, most likely which would’ve led to me joining them voluntarily in their beliefs. Then, if, when I hit my teens, I decided to explore other faiths, it wouldn’t need to be a rebellion, and there would be no possible necessary resentment towards the parent or guardian for having forcibly confined my belief system. But this, of course, as always, is only my view.

And these are only my views on religion and morals, not some kind of alleged higher truth I’m trying to spread or even some idea I’m trying to sell. Of course, I am in the human habit of hoping for people to share in my beliefs, or to read some of this stuff and think ‘hey, y’know, that makes sense’, but I wouldn’t wish for anyone to just buy something I’ve said because it’s interesting or new (she said, with disturbing arrogance), because much as I’d revel in people finding logic in my long and winding prose, the most valuable message I would hope for anyone to take from this post, would be to explore your own mind and beliefs without that fear of being proven wrong hanging over you. This is not by any means an easy task, and it’s something which I’m still learning to remember to do as often as possible, but the level of clarity and understanding which is gained from changing a winner-loser, debate type discussion into a mutual search for truth via the amalgamation of others’ experience and intellect with your own is unparalleled, and indescribably worthwhile.

Edit: Feb. 26th '10

So, I found myself scribbling these random little notes into my notebook a little while back in the dark, and I figure this is the place to plonk them; what I didn't include so much of in the original post here was actual disclosure/description of my personal views, and what follows is kind of a rough outline of that.

"I worship the World, Nature, Existence itself, as opposed to some presumed creator, and without the capacity or will even to imagine a beginning or an end.

I look up and I am in awe at the sheer, blinding beauty of even a grey sky, and this is what I worship.

I look around a subway car, and I am reduced quietly to laughter or tears by the phenomenon of human nature, and this is what I worship.

Does this sound like not being able to see the forest for the trees? Well, I'd rather see the people than the crowd."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Latest

So, here's the latest.

Back in London, saving for a ticket back to New York.
Considering a tattoo once I have some money.
Incredibly over-excited about the Fleetwood Mac tour.
Looking forward to the release of 'Lesbian Vampire Killers', which looks hilarious.
Feeling complete once more with the new E.R. and B.&S. seasons started.

frustrated with trying to find a job, but otherwise happy to be back in the city, and to be heading in the right direction. I'm gonna try to start writing here more often also.

Amor, cognitio, ars.