Friday, February 25, 2011

The Soul of Hats

Someone asked me, today, why I so seldom write about the news. Where are the posts, she wanted to know, about the rebellions in the Middle East? -- the union issues in Wisconsin? I almost felt guilty for a second. But, no, in the end I don't. (In my defense, however, I wrote a cracking piece about Happy Meal regulation, once).

Why not feel guilty, you ask? Because we can't ignore the heart for the sake of the body or the home for the sake of the city or the city for the sake of the state or the state for the sake of the world. What's inside can't be neglected.

We can't forget ourselves -- I mean, literally, our selves -- in all of this. There are those who speak out about politics, quite well. There are those whose voices ring above the rest when it comes to world issues. These people are important. But I would argue that we need a place to come to look into ourselves a little. If this blog serves that purpose for you, I have all I can ask as its creator.

Overall, I would love for my readers to see this site as a place to slow down on the Internet. (The very proximity of the words "Internet" and "slow" almost seems a paradox, doesn't it?) Here, you'll find old paintings and photos and the muted color tones of a century in the past. I never wanted this site to be "slick" and modern. I want it to feel like an anachronism. (I even made my poor, beautiful, artistic wife -- who gets credit for making everything here look exactly like I wanted it to, by the way -- turn the Twitter link into wood, for Pete's sake.)

Don't we need to shut the door of our house and leave the world out, sometimes? I know I do. Maybe our hearts work the same way. Maybe we need to ignore, at least for a while, even the most world-altering events and talk about poetry, music, love, ambition, morality, childhood and the wonders of everyday life. Maybe some talk about hope, too, would be nice, mixed into all of this -- or, at least, a feeling of hope can be conjured.

We shouldn't feel guilty for not running for town council or for the school board or for President. We are not all meant to be movers and shakers of events and policy. Maybe some of us are meant to be movers of thought. I'm not talking wise men on hills, but truly movers of thought as opposed to pushers of established philosophies. (Wise men on hills are conceited self-deluded chumps. They can't possibly know it all.)

I'd rather be skilled at making you ask questions than at giving you answers. On a good day, maybe I can send you down a path that leads you to understanding something that you can eventually turn around and teach me. We're in this together, and I'm not just talking about a website. We need to search the soul more and the newspapers less.

There are those who will tell you what is not immediately and obviously practical is a waste of time. Nonsense.

Yeah, I suppose I am talking to an extent about transcendence, but I am also talking about applying what we come to understand, through our transcendence, to terra firma.

Maybe we can put all of the media that thrives on reporting tragedy, meanness and turmoil out of business. Maybe if some of us keep believing in the growth of the human spirit and in the ability of words to shape the future, just maybe we can introduce an insidious program into this big, artificial, man-made supercomputer of thought-systems that is society. An original insight can be the virus that changes everything. There's a lot of rhetoric about hate and conflict. There is a lot of "this-is-how-it-just-isness." How about pure reasoning? How about questioning? How about refusing to be force-fed someone else's definitions? I'm not talking about locking arms and singing protest songs. I'm talking about peppering the world's consciousness with new and, perhaps, healing ideas.

(I remember an episode of Star Trek: TNG in which the crew of the Enterprise decides, first, to introduce a virus into a destructive alien race with a hive mentality in order to destroy them and then decides to simply put one of their lost men, who has learned to be an individual through exposure to the Enterprise crew, back into the mix, hoping that his sense of individuality will change the hive's programming for the better . . . brilliant. And applicable to reality, even though it didn't come out of a procedural manual! See how it works? Wait . . . never mind. Sci-fi is poppycock.)

Sure, I might write about current events from time to time, but you can bet the angle I take will be one that explores the motives of the actions as opposed to the actions themselves. In short, I have no interest in exploring the wilderness and sticking claim-flags into the dirt. I'd rather be an archaeologist of the mind than an explorer of the land. I'd rather delve into the human depths, dusting off what I find and trying to make some sense of it. That's where the answers are and where the cures are and where the wars are going to finally be made irrelevant. Inside, not out.


  1. Thank you,uh-thank you...uhthankyouverymuch.

  2. Blogging is not a job. Blogging is for having fun. Asking you why you don't write about current events is like asking someone why they collect stamps instead of mountain bike riding. 'Because I enjoy collecting stamps, obviously.' There are a lot of people about these days who don't entirely approve of innocent pleasure; they are probably worth avoiding. (

  3. zmkc -- Read your link -- sounds like your school was much like the rest of the world: it gave a lot of lip-service to creativity, but in the end pushed the old Gradgrind philosophy. You're absolutely right: to those who love to communicate, blogging is a lot of fun. I hope, also, that it can serve a purpose. In either case, it is indeed best to avoid anyone who would dictate the direction of our creativity.

  4. Chris,
    I've spent much of the day pondering your article and agree with the basic message of it. However, coming from personal experience, the inside, no matter how great, is much like a city. There are historic areas, where memories of the past are, there is the business area, where much of the day to day is performed, and the area of the arts, where much of our spirit, I believe, is located. There you find the love, passion, art, and much of the other ineffable factors of life. However, the other part of the city, which no one really likes to talk about, though we all know it's there, is that part where there's a lot of barbed wire, and you carry your money is your sock for protection. The key is to learn about Mind City through small, consistent efforts. Soon you don't have to spend all your time in the business or art section, but find the other, hidden areas of Mind City. The hole in the wall where the nicest people you've ever met are, and there is where they provide you the most succulent thought burger you've ever had. The mind can be a dark place, just like any city. Spend your time getting to know every part though, and you'll appreciate it so much more.


  5. My point exactly. What you just gave me is a map of what lies inside. That's just the direction I'm talking about, Papirooskie.

  6. zmkc -- of course, I mean that first line to indicate that I read your link; it wasn't a suggestion that you should read your link again. Wrote that awkwardly.