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Jul. 17th, 2017 03:00 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome


M Morgan aka Milda Marjama; 9796
© Bill Pusztai 2011


M Morgan aka Milda Marjama; 9968
© Bill Pusztai 2011


M Morgan aka Milda Marjama; 9727
© Bill Pusztai 2011

words )

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Jul. 16th, 2017 11:22 am
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome


Hemerocallis 'Kachina Dancer'; 0220
© Bill Pusztai 2017

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Jul. 15th, 2017 01:14 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Crow and the Birds
 
When the eagle soared clear through a dawn distilling of emerald
When the curlew trawled in seadusk through a chime of wineglasses
When the swallow swooped through a woman's song in a cavern
And the swift flicked through the breath of a violet
 
When the owl sailed clear of tomorrow's conscience
And the sparrow preened himself of yesterday's promise
And the heron laboured clear of the Bessemer upglare
And the bluetit zipped clear of lace panties
And the woodpecker drummed clear of the rotovator and the rose-farm
And the peewit tumbled clear of the laundromat
 
While the bullfinch plumped in the apple bud
And the goldfinch bulbed in the sun
And the wryneck crooked in the moon
And the dipper peered from the dewball
 
Crow spraddled head-down in the beach-garbage, guzzling a dropped ice-cream.
 
Ted Hughes, 1971
 

Enlightenment apostasy

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:09 pm
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[personal profile] dpolicar
(A friend recently posted about feeling depressed at the extent to which people seem perfectly content to embrace beliefs about the world that fly in the face of our observations of it. This started out as a comment and got out of hand.)

Yeah, I hear that.

That said: I find it really helps me, when I'm disoriented in the way you describe, to remember that the Enlightenment is fairly recent, historically speaking.

The idea that we can arrive at accurate beliefs about the world by observing it, studying it, experimenting with it, taking careful records, making predictions and checking to see whether our predictions are accurate... that idea is just a few centuries old.

The idea that we can converge on beliefs about the world through that process...
That the same experiment can be expected to get the same result whether performed by Christians or Jews or Pagans or atheists, by conservatives or liberals, by materialists or spiritualists...
That the observable world itself can be the source of a set of shared self-reinforcing beliefs...
That reliance on that process can form the cornerstone of a community just as reliance on a set of stories about God that we inherited from our ancestors does...

...these are really new ideas, historically speaking. Our culture has not fully assimilated them, not even close. Most of us weren't raised in the community of believers in the process of observing our surroundings and reasoning about them rigorously and communicating about them reliably. We don't really have social practices that reinforce that process.

So, sure, we often reject it. We often stray from that path and return to the older practice of performing culturally endorsed beliefs about reality in order to reinforce group boundaries and affirm group loyalty without reference to a shared observational practice.

That's unsurprising. Humans have been doing that before we have records; probably since before we were recognizably human.

And the alternative is genuinely hard! And honestly, as community-centering practices go, it lacks a lot: it de-centers individuals, it doesn't directly address moral issues, it doesn't distinguish between emotionally satisfying and emotionally alienating claims, it doesn't speak to our fears about nonexistence and loneliness, etc.

The one thing it has going for it is a promise to converge on shared truths if followed assiduously.

And for a lot of us that just isn't enough, or isn't always enough. We may embrace the tangible benefits of the practice, the tools and medicines and crop yields and cherry-picked theories that reinforce our culturally endorsed beliefs, but we tend to reject the practice itself. Heck, even the thing we call "science" is riddled with those practices, like any other human institution. Those habits run deep.

So, sure, of course we continue to practice the old ways, choosing the practice of performing cultural beliefs despite contradictory observations over the practice of centering and converging on observable patterns in reality.

We will continue to do that for a long, long time. It's a natural consequence of being the sort of systems we are.

So anyway, as I say, remembering that helps me approach Enlightenment apostasy with compassion during periods where I start to fear it as the end of the world. And I find that helps.

Why are you not louder?

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:57 am
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[personal profile] fj

In the 90s, there were plenty of opportunities for me to sero-convert. What kept me negative was luck, and wanting only to top, and iron discipline in my practices. That discipline (and my guilt the few times I lapsed) came from the memories I have of people who had become poz before anything was known about the virus expressing to me, especially while managing their live with AIDS, how urgently they wanted me to stay negative. I remember arriving at a play party in 1993 in San Francisco and seeing and greeting Max who was there socially, and how immediately, out of nowhere, he put his hand in a bowl of condoms, grabbed a few, and handed them to me and telling me to make sure I always had some and to use them. He hadn't gone much beyond small-talk before that. Don't do this, was the message from the ones sick and dying, we know better now. Stay healthy.

At the same time, plenty of urban poz and PWAs at the time were creating a rebel mystique about how HIV / AIDS was another marker of having been thrown out of society and being counter-cultural if not outright edgy and hot. Of course HIV created its own aesthetic of danger in the communities that had it, and poz people deserved it because they were not garbage to be shunned, as much of society was treating them at the time. They were still sexual and alive and worthy and their sexuality was real and valid. But personally, I found glamorizing the punk of HIV / AIDS, (yes, at the time still also AIDS, you couldn't really hold the AIDS part back much) to the point that people WANTED to earn that bio-hazard tat, well, too much. I carried Max and other older men warning me in my head with me for years. Don't fucking be stupid. You know better. Many voices out there trying to keep us negative young men negative. "Don't end up like me." They would be disappointed and heart-broken at one more person to worry about and maybe lose, and I looked up to them.

I am thinking about that now because while HIV became manageable, the other thing I encountered first on that trip to San Francisco, meth, is not. It's been in my life 25 years now peripherally, and recently has tripled in force as I have become close to a number of people who are barely managing, or trying to climb out of a relapse, or fucking succumbing to it. They are, in my opinion, spectacular human beings whose addiction is stopping them from being the forces of light they have every right to be in this world that so needs their light. Meth is now closer to home than ever.

Here in London fucking club drugs are fucking everywhere, utterly normalized, as is binge drinking. One of my closest friends here told me how he literally can't go dancing any more because the drugs make him feel so awful in the mornings. When I tell him one can dance sober, he dismisses me: it is not the same, and sober it is so much less it is not worth doing. In this culture, a month of being sober is considered a feat of fortitude enough to justify fundraising for doing it. And yes, it gets to me: sometimes I feel like my abstinence means something is wrong with me. That is just how being a social species works.
New friends always wonder a little when they find out I don't and haven't done club drugs, tell me a little MDMA would be fun, discuss the quality of coke to be had openly. I'm pretty sure that if I smoked a little hit of meth at a "chill-out", just once to know what it was like, just a smoke man, nothing major, inhaled once, all under control, and then had sex with some guy for the next 8 hours, most of my gay friends would pat me on the back, and only my straights would be worried. And maybe they shouldn't be worried. Maybe it was only a little hit just to find things out. Doesn't mean I'll go out of control right away. Totally overblown worry. Lots of guys do a little meth on weekends. Right?

Yet yet yet yet. I know so many gays for whom it is no longer a little fun treat, especially now they are sober. Losing relationships, jobs, NA meetings, relapses. Seared in my brain is this memory of standing on a street in New York and hearing this amazing person tell me "You know, the weirdest thing about addiction is how it makes the outrageous seem like a good idea. Injecting yourself with tap water because you are out of sterile seems totally normal all of a sudden."

I was horrified to hear there was such a thing as a bare-backing party in 1992, or that they knowingly allowed bug-chasers. But then I got told I needed to be cool and respect bodily autonomy and other people's decisions. Now I look at the remnants of that sex&death edginess (thanks, Treasure Island Media), take my PrEP, and smirk at guys excitedly talking about wanting "toxic poz loads". Shut up, asshole, there's no such thing anymore unless you are dumb enough to be with someone dumb enough to not take daily meds and lose the undetectable status.

Slamming is now the frontier here for the out there and cool, the tragic messes to be revered for their plugged-inness and the reality they are serving, away from us bourgeois sell-outs to marriage and suburbia. The guys I am close to I mentioned before truly do not want to do it any more, but they seem utterly alone in there. The one thing I am not hearing is anything inside their culture even trying to hold them back. There seem to be no Maxes, nobody who has been there, telling them it is a bad idea, or even metaphorically yanking a syringe away from them in some sense.

On the hook-up apps there is barely any filter, anybody moderating for what we KNOW are the keywords: chill-out, PnP, HnH, High and Horny, Slamming, Slam, Zlam. I see them every time on my grid, they reach out to me even though my profile says fuck no to that. I know tech, I know what is a real effort and what is half-hearted lip-service (surprise, they are doing only the latter). I know a bot could filter all of the profiles better than they are even trying, and filter chats real-time, and flag them up  for review instantly, but nobody in charge of the comms seems really desiring to do and be this prescriptive. How would they, why would they--I remember the Marketing dude for one big hookup fetish website, previously Marketing dude for another hook-up website, being at every major gay fetish party I was at for 3 years on two continents, eyes wider and buggier every time, until I did not, and have not, seen him around for the last few years. Facilitating chemsex makes the sites money over facilitating sober sex, and if they are on it themselves, because everyone is, because everyone can handle their drugs on a weekend, right, why would they clamp down? Why would our culture clamp down? It's just a bit of fun. A little release. Adults can handle it.

Twenty years ago there were voices from inside the community telling us to stay negative, not just external agencies and helpful initiatives. I remember going into cruising spots and finding community workers handing out condoms. I am not hearing, or hearing of, voices from inside the sex and especially chemsex community, on-line, off-line, organically saying, don't do this. It will kill you. I've been there. I barely got out. Stop.

We knew where men had sex and showed up. We know where the fucking dealers live now. Everyone knows who they are at the parties.

They say nobody proselytizes against a sin more than reformed sinners, but sometimes it feels to me like meth is bucking that trend. I hope it is just me being so out of touch with this culture I do not know where to look.

This week's Marblehead Police Log

Jul. 13th, 2017 07:56 pm
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[personal profile] chrishansenhome
Here's the latest from the Marblehead Police Log, with mistaken identity and hanky-panky in inappropriate places.

  • The Harbormaster responded to a report of someone diving for clams off Devereux beach on Thursday around 10 a.m., and found the person was looking for lobsters and flounder, not clams. Well, that's all right then.

  • Police took a report of a phone call that showed up as a Marblehead resident on caller ID, but was "spoofed," and was actually a spammer on Thursday around 11 a.m.

  • A kayaker made it home safely after losing a paddle off the coast of Marblehead on Thursday around 9 p.m. Up the coast without a paddle.

  • Officers took a report of four fishing poles and three rods stolen from the back on a truck Friday just after midnight on Ocean Avenue.

  • Police took a report of a couple possibly having sex in a hammock in the area of Lighthouse Lane on Monday evening. When officers called the witness back, the caller said they just assumed they were having sex. Never assume, sir. It makes an ass out of you and me.

  • A lobster boat sank off of Tinkers Island on Tuesday around 1 p.m. A salvage company was notified.

  • Officers responded to a report of people possibly having sex in a car on Wednesday around 3 a.m. on Widger Road. Police moved the occupants along. Excuse me, but could you hurry up...the doughnut shop closes in 10 minutes.

(no subject)

Jul. 9th, 2017 06:22 pm
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
[personal profile] bitterlawngnome


Cottonwood Garden, Vancouver, 2017-07-09; 0119
© Bill Pusztai 2017

Morning in the Burned House Margaret Atwood

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
yet here I am.

The spoon which was melted scrapes against 
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud 
rises up silently like dark bread. 

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.

I can’t see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child’s feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent. 

(no subject)

Jul. 9th, 2017 09:00 pm
curly_chick: (Default)
[personal profile] curly_chick
Not hiking sucks but if I had to choose a time for it to happen, this is a good one. Although intellectually I know I can hike again once I am better it is hard to imagine. On the other hand, being around more has led to me spontaneous activities which have made me super happy.

(no subject)

Jul. 7th, 2017 07:39 pm
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Our community garden in Vancouver. It's a wonderful place. But I just don't know how it ever got to be what it is. Every day, it seems, something large or small happens that just makes you want to throw in the towel. Last night some crackhead lit a fire next to the main shed in the eastern part of the garden and the old wooden building went up like tinder. A bunch of tools, the greenhouse, all their records, went with it. The insurance company wouldn't insure it so it's going to have to come out of people's pockets or from GoFundMe ... if they even decide to rebuild. Our already-rough neighbourhood got exponentially worse a couple of weeks ago when a tent city moved in. This may be news to some of you, but there is a pecking order among campers, and the people in the tent city are viewed with anger and disgust by the "free" homeless people camping down by the railway tracks, and the "free" people are destroying things and generally stirring shit in order to get the police to raid and destroy the tent city, who are the more visible target.

I mean compared to the meltdown of a government, this is small potatoes, but it's all kinda additive.

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