Sunday, August 03, 2008

Letter To A Friend

I spent about 23 minutes, according to my computer clock, writing the following letter. All the time typing quickly, but rather poorly. When I reached the end, I was surprised. Like when I'm driving somewhere and I stop paying attention, but reach my destination safely, anyway.

The question asked was about politics, and why I argue it so often and so well, according to this fellow. A very flattering question, but I don't take the compliment very seriously given the quality of debate on the website where this was first posted. Still, it compelled a long response, and here it is.

The person I wrote to is not named, "Mordecai," I just like that name. The letter:

Dear Mordecai,

I've always had an interest in politics, and I read a lot, and for a long time I traveled with some very profound intellectuals. Including people I've had a falling out with, like Eric Chester, the author and activist. And the man who knows more about American labor and union law and history than any man I know of, Bill S. I haven't seen either of them in years. Nor Quinn or David McReynolds. Frank P. Zeidler is dead, as is Ann Rosenhaft. The world didn't seem to skip a beat at their passing.

Every one of these radicals and intellectuals and activists have said and done a great deal, and still do, and I used to spend a lot of time with them, listening and discussing, late into countless nights. And I made it to the Socialist Scholar's Conference many times, that helped. They provide many helpful lectures, along with encouragement for young Reds. The SSC was the first place I'd ever been to that had more than 20 radical socialists in one place. There were hundreds down there at the Borough of Manhattan Community College who identified themselves that way. We probably had less than $20 between us.

I started volunteering for political campaigns when I was 12, and in earnest when I was 16. At 17, I joined the Socialist Party USA and did a little bit of everything up until 4 years ago when I signed the Fist and Rose Manifesto, joined the tendency of the same name and, for reasons that are still a unclear to me, left to form another party. I'll let you know how that works out. Le sigh.

It may also help that I'm bipolar. For the uninitiated, that means I bounce between terrible, "treatment resistant" depression and hypo-mania. I'm not quite manic, but close. I once asked my psychiatrist if an attention deficit disorder drug might help me, like Adderall, and he said, "You don't need any more focus and concentration." I have an idea of what he means. I still want to try one. Maybe then I would understand "Ulysses" by James Joyce. Or be able to balance my check book. Then again, I may implode.

At university, I took a few philosophy course and was told that I should major in it. Political Science interested me as a hobby, and I read volumes, but my heart is in biology. Literally, I suppose. Evolutionary biology. I wish I had the brains to be a great scientist.

I myself have written quite a bit for various left wing organizations, as well.

When I told Eve that this information is tattooed on my brain, I wasn't kidding. Naturally, I wasn't speaking literally, either, but not even ECT could get rid of it. I don't think I'm an intellect, either, but I thank you for your kind words. A kind word is always welcome.

I'm well-read, perhaps thoughtful, but broken. On my blog I think I mentioned my conundrum. I sincerely and totally believe, with every part of me, that life is just not worth it. Look at me. I'm 36 and have no balls. In evolutionary terms, I'm irrelevant, a dead end. But that's not the only reason. Without a modicum of kindness from others, including the manifestation of "kindness" as assistance from the government, I'd be dead, or living under a bridge trying to print money with a turd and an old parking ticket.

Life without compassion, and the assistance of scientific advance, is heinously painful. Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. Fight or flight. Survive. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. And I reject it. If there were a god I would spit in his, her or it's face for this masterpiece of cruelty that is the world. But I don't feel very angry, one of the benefits of atheism. It feels like we're a thinking, feeling race of animals that sadly evolved to the point where we can be self-aware. How cruel!

If you want to step into the Void with me, go to the beach. The ocean. Land meets water with the sky above. Sit and look at it for a long time. Tempestuous vapors, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, and nothing more. Beautiful, perhaps, but insanely empty. It just is, and we're stuck between the noble gases and minerals and emptiness. The Universe has gone out of it's way to make one thing absolutely clear: You don't matter. Not your pain, your happiness, your joy, your love, nothing. Kindness is good though, as it always finds a home.

Tell me not in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers and things are not as they seem
Life is strong and life is earnest and the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art to dust returnest was not spoken of the soul!

That's Longfellow's The Psalm of Life. Well, part of it. My father had me memorize it many years ago, but that's a long story. He's not religious, he just likes Longfellow. As do I. The passion. But Longfellow is wrong (poets are always lying their asses off). There is no soul, and each end is coming for all of us. And it will be The End. Which is good, 'cause I don't even like harps.

So if that's true, why stay alive and talk politics and write and wear an Obama hat? Several people have asked me to stick around, which I would have taken as a sarcasm had they not been close friends and family. Another reason is that I still do believe in a lot of things, like compassion, kindness and animal empathy. That is, we're all in this together. We don't have to like each other, but kindness must be our guide. Even if it leads to our doom.

So if you care about the world, and people and animals and the reduction of pain and suffering, you find yourself with political beliefs. That's why it gets me so mad when people say they're all the same, the pols, and that it's not worth getting involved, or even reading about. Because if that's true, that you can't change anything and the elections mean nothing, then we have a lot MORE work to do, not less. If that is true, we need a revolution. Apathy, when based on holier than thou cynicism, is bullshit. Call it "laziness" and you'll have an ally in me. But I can't stand it when people act as if the NOBLEST PATH is to act wise and do nothing. It's a path, alright, one I totally understand, but it is not noble. It's not anything.

So that, in a very tiny nutshell, is why I'm so passionate and thoughtful about politics. You may think me an idiot, and I may be, I admit that. I may "sound" arrogant on here, but trust me, in reality I hate my fucking guts on a level that is impossible to describe. Some of you hate yourselves, too. It's a post-post-modern economy thing. Everyone is pathologically something.

There's more, but I'll save it for later. Happy Day!

With Love,

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