September 12, 2008

Do you feel lucky?

I want to avoid politics, because I think the best way to such express such things is how we spend our time day to day. The personal is political, and all that. Still, the idea of McCain / Palin gathering momentum is like watching someone gleefully about to do something stupid, and you feel a responsibility to step in, but then the joy of the moment, and the fact that karma is almost certain to be enacted there and then, is somewhat infectious. I have a tendency to look at jackasses and think just do it, so long as I don't have to pick up the pieces.

American exceptionalism as a faith, the idea that no matter what happens something [i.e. God] will protect it, is one that an English person, especially, can't quite get a handle on. Things fall apart, nations lose their mojo.
That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.
Hunter S. Thompson
When you've had a run of luck it's hard not to believe in something, and when you couple that with obvious ability I guess the combination is heady indeed. But pushed far enough these things almost always end badly, which is why they end. The random nature of certain things vs. the apparent reversion to the mean.

Even without ability and little native good sense my luck has held for a long time. I once made a list of genuinely terrible, life-ending / ruining events that I narrowly avoided due to situations beyond my control. It was a long list and a fun thing to do, but a literary exercise, not a practical one. I can see how things could have gone a lot worse for me without some luck, but it's hard to see how things could have gone better without stepping off into fantasy.

There's a Chinese folk story that starts with bad luck, that turns to good luck, that becomes bad, and then good, and then so one, as long as the teller can spin it. ( Mao being asked about the consequences of the French Revolution: "It's too early to tell").

A fun time had listing my narrow escapes, but no fun if I consider some reversion to the mean, which is to some extent why I remain so fearful of cars, suspecting that I'll be on my bicycle ogling some woman when the last line is written.
"What's wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally,"
Nsaba Buturo, Uganda's Minister for Ethics and Integrity, here.

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