MEH…


I can’t seem to write anything very serious right now. I’ve been researching democracy and capitalism for some time, reading like crazy, and I’ve come to a number of conclusions that I need to write about, but, it’s just not coming together for me right now. It will soon enough, but right now I have to entertain myself with something a little lighter.

Usually I write my blog posts in one go. I’ll research a topic for a while or one will drop itself into my lap…top (he,he) and I’ll sit down and write. Carolyn knows when I’ve been bitten by the writing bug because I go silent and withdrawn and my full attention is on the keyboard. When she tries to talk to me, I have to keep asking “What, Pardon me?” Then, she sometimes gets impatient. I can understand that. Problem is, I’m busy and concentrating on writing sentences, whole sentences that make sense. It doesn’t always happen, but I do make an effort.

I just finished writing an essay about Kurt Vonnegut and riding a ferry to Vancouver. It’s a two thousand word non-fiction piece. I’ve probably spent 40 hours on it all told. That’s an outrageous amount of time for me to spend on any writing project these days, since I’ve been retired from the work-a-day grind. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this essay yet, but I’ll decide soon. if you don’t see it posted here it’s because I’ve done something else with it.

I’ve read many of Kurt Vonnegut’s books. I’m re-reading Hocus Pocus right now then I’ll pick up Breakfast of Champions and read that again for the third or fourth time. The guy is fucking hilarious even if his novels are always tinged with at least a modicum of sorrow. Galapagos is one of my favourite novels of his. The premise of that book is that the human race has been infected with a virus or something that prevents reproduction so that the fate of humanity is sealed within a few decades. The only survivors are on the Galapagos Islands where they were safe from infection and a million years hence they look a lot like seals and live in the sea. It’s a fun read and I wouldn’t be at all too upset if the premise of this book became a reality. We as a species are right out of control.

So, what’s the connection between Vonnegut and riding the ferry to Vancouver? Well, ferry passengers often embody in a microcosm aa lot that is absurd about human life. Vonnegut would have a field day riding the ferry although I expect he might stay in his vehicle or take a plane instead of ever getting on a ferry.

I find ferry passengers highly entertaining most of the time. Sometimes I just find them annoying. Sometimes, I draw them, like these guys:

Mostly I don’t, because it’s hard to be discreet when I’m drawing. I have to look closely at my subjects at times and if they figure out what I’m doing, it could get embarrassing. It may be, of course, that they would be delighted and offer to buy my little drawings of them but then again, probably not. They’d probably just want me to give it to them and I’m not into that so much anymore. Oh, I do give away a lot of my drawings and prints, but not in the wintertime. Don’t ask me why.

It’s certainly true that a lot of ferry passengers are hugely entertaining, and mostly not deliberately, I fear. Invariably, there are people who are outrageously dressed, at least from my perspective, and there are others who are just plain silly like young people full of themselves and too self-absorbed to care about how their behaviour is affecting others on the boat.

Given enough time, I could write little stories about every single passenger aboard any ship on any trip just based on their appearance and demeanour. I could then weave those stories into a collage of silly speculation about what ferry travellers are up to when they’re not on the boat.

For example, the guy in the second picture above was checking out his cel phone. He was on that thing for a long time. I have no idea what he was looking at, maybe it was porn, maybe he was checking his dating site, maybe he was just surfing Facebook. Who knows. I didn’t ask him. I drew him instead. He never looked up so I was in no danger of him finding out that I was drawing him. His double chin really stood out! Mine does too when I look down like that. I wish he would have had a call from somebody while he was looking at his phone. I can make up a lot of stuff about somebody by overhearing conversations. I love eavesdropping. It’s just part of what makes me a social scientist.

So, enough of this silliness for today. I’ll get downright serious soon enough and then you’ll learn a thing or two!

6 thoughts on “MEH…

  1. Thanks Roger! I needed a laugh today. You know, the pool or the beach, where to have breakfast, should we rent bikes and go over the mountain to the other side of the island? OMG it’s rough! Sleep till 10, relax in the hot sun and cuddle and talk and laugh.
    I enjoy my ferry riding too and make up stories anout the people I see. Thanks for sharing this but now, get back to work dammit. Get serious you social scientist You! LOL!

    1. Well, Jack, you’re welcome. I needed a little laugh too so I decided to make myself one. But, I have some bad news for you. Democracy doesn’t exist anymore. That’s the consensus. Yes, there’s a lot of effort to convince us that it’s all fine, but it’s gone, replaced by a financial oligarchy. But wait! There may be hope yet. Not much, but some. I’ll be writing about that soon.

  2. People watching is always amusing because it allows us to make interpretations from raw perceptions. They are however just that – OUR interpretations.
    On the more serious note – democracy doesn’t exist anymore – I have been saying that, writing about that, for some time now. It is not a general consensus but rather the opposite. Sheldon Wolin coined the phrase “inverted totalitarianism” to describe the state of modern [American] politics [I think it applies everywhere!].
    “One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic,” he writes in that book, “surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media.”
    Furthermore, “The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job.”

    And the elites, especially the intellectual class, have been bought off. “Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system,” Wolin writes. “No books burned, no refugee Einsteins.”

    To the extent that we are critically thinking about, writing about, the world in which we live in, we are ‘resistance’ fighters to the accepted status quo. Keep fighting!

    1. Thanks, Paul. Of course there’s no general consensus about the fact that democracy doesn’t exist, but there is in the particular set of writers I’m reading right now. I’m reading Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated at the moment, but in the 70s there was a whole spate of people writing about the corporate takeover of the reins of power in the world. With the separation of politics from ‘economics’ with politics residing in the state, we can easily be duped into thinking that we have ‘freedom’ when in fact we have absolutely no freedom in choosing who runs ‘our’ economy. That’s clear from the recent debacles around GM and SNC-Lavelin. I’m gearing up to write a piece on democracy and capitalism, but if people would just read the books I’m reading there would be no need for me to do that!

  3. The Wolin book is an important work on modern [American] democracy, or the lack thereof. The polished pronouncements of professional politicans of all ilks about the sanctity of democratic rights and values is largely window-dressing bullshit. They are ALL beholdened to the monied elites.
    Perhaps you might write a bibliographic blog listing some/all of the books you use in your democracy & capitalism piece.

    1. Hi Paul,
      That’s pretty much what I intended to do. I just have to decide whether to write one long post or three or four shorter posts. Right now I’m leaning towards the latter strategy. I’m finding the relationship between democracy (in all of its bullshitedness) and liberty (and all the bullshit that that term implies) most interesting at the moment. The Wilson-Raybould debacle has allowed a glimpse into the reality of how the monied interests control the government. Democracy is an annoyance to the government while Wilson-Raybould takes it dead seriously…or at least that’s the way it appears to me at the moment.
      I’m wondering if there’s any old time graft and corruption going on here. I can’t imagine Trudeau would take any bribes or secret payments from SNC-Lavalin, but who knows.

Comments are closed.