Bark at the Moon

I just finished Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe. That’s a depressing one. It’s fiction, but manages to leave you feeling like it was a Primo Levi memoir. It’s a World War II story about the cruelness of strangers, kind of like that old Studio Ghibli animated film, Grave of the Fireflies.

I don’t know how to feel about horribly sad, depressing art and history. It has a place, but the people who are scholars of that stuff often get ensnared by the energy around the events. It’s like staring at a full moon every night. Of course, they’re necessary academics, since various parties are constantly trying to bend or warp the historical significance of events even when people fight to preserve their memories. That’s why we have more and more people these days who are Holocaust deniers or extreme nationalists in old Soviet-bloc countries. Maybe due in part to the internet, the power of political correctness has been waning in recent years.

Society never cares about anything besides the power/money/sex trinity. I can never tell if it’s better when society and the media pretend we don’t care about those shallow things, or when it acknowledges that we do and openly celebrates them. I suppose the latter brings the worse results. Regardless of which state we’re in, the strange thing is how violence and sex exist in our world. How, without them, there is no real life as we know it. To most of us, what’s the point of life if there is no violence or sex? When people are romantic or have fantasies about almost anything, it involves some kind of violence and sex. Or maybe I’m just a dude.

People are way too intrigued by fantasies and drama. Drama is such a ridiculous idea to me. Just the other day I read a letter response in the Washington Post by relationship guru, Carolyn Hax, that put it pretty succinctly:

[We] live in a society that can’t get enough of fictional death, but prefers the real thing to be pat, antiseptic, and (this is key) offstage.

One might infer that this is true of all societies, that people wish to live adventure and tragedy vicariously through entertainment and storytelling only. But what is crazy is how adventure and tragedy itself is not so fun, it’s a process of being grounded in the moment and persevering through it; it takes deep responsibility. So, the general perspective is something I just don’t understand. I don’t decry it — I mean that it’s just crazy if you think about it. Little boys play with G.I. Joes and pretend to be soldiers or something violent, and then grow up to decry war and violence (or even ignorantly participate in it). People like to sample tastes of things, not actually eat a whole meal. Dojo rats of the space-time sphere!

The conundrum of violence: violence is ugly and horrible, but is the blatant manifestation of social frictions and desires. In other words, violence is a component of existence. What comes into being without violence? Can sex exist without violence? That’s why the key to peaceful existence is letting go of our negative impulses or attachments. Dwelling on an emotion is like praying to a god.

Incidentally, there are some good things being written in the the newest post from Meng-wu at Hermit’s Thatch, where he drops observational gems such as:

Today, when death is a drawn-out process of enormous expense, bureaucracy, and distraction, the tranquility and equanimity needed to reflect and sum it up is cheated from the dying.

Amen, brother. I doth quote Bon Jovi when I say, “Take me down in a blaze of glory.”

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