Crazy Males


The traditional male psyche found meaning in the face of personal extinction by being a father who protected a woman and her children from other males and providing sustenance.  However contraception means women do not need to have children when they are unable to protect them, and the automation of physical labor has meant women can provide for children using their own labor.  This challenge to the traditional male psychic structure creates anxiety which in turn creates neurotic, anti-social behavior.

Males should be prevented from exercising political power until they have readjusted their psyches to deal with the new economic and technological realities without causing undue harm.  I propose a ten year moratorium on males holding political power.


Baba Yaga in Humbaba’s Hut

Baba Yaga just means “old woman” in Russian.  Her real name was Iris, like the rainbow.  She married young and had five children but then in the war her husband and four of her children died and one of them got lost and after searching for him for several years she realized that she would never find him, whereupon she went into the woods and found a vrajitoara — a witch — to learn magic from.  After the vrajitoara died Iris created her fabulous hut with the chicken legs and the people nearby — some of whom had actually gone to church with her but didn’t recognize her any more — started to call her Baba Yaga.

During her period of tutelage with the vrajitoara Iris said that she was sure that she didn’t want to spend her life having children because they would just die in stupid things like wars and break her heart, so instead she wanted to find a new goal for her life.  She decided for awhile that her goal was to overcome herself — to be more, more, more — bigger, faster, more powerful, to know what she hadn’t known before, to be able to do what she had once been unable to do.  The vrajitoara said “I used to think that.”

“Why don’t you any more?” asked Iris.  It was late at night.  They lay next to each other on the bed full of goose feathers. Outside it rained and the wind screamed like someone was skinning eight hundred cats using eight hundred fiddle bows.

“Because more doesn’t mean anything.  More strong, but also more weak.   They’re both more.  You can learn to do things but every time you learn to do something you learn not to do something else.  You learn to put out a burning building you lose the ability to walk past it and do nothing.”


“So.”  The vrajitoara kissed her and they went to sleep.

When the vrajitoara was alive Iris didn’t understand what she meant, but after she died Baba Yaga hurtling through the countryside in her chicken-leg hut, terrifying people knew it very well indeed.  Her hair was long, her fingernails were sharp, her breasts hung down and her eyes were so clear she noticed that Jupiter had moons and Saturn had rings three and a half centuries before Galileo.

Noticed and didn’t care!

Many many years later she figured out time travel and went back to ancient Babylon where she befriended Humbaba, the giant who cried when he learned human beings would never be immortal like the snake because we would never be able to shed our skin.  By that time in her life Baba Yaga was neither old nor young — she had shed her body and left her hut behind and was just a whisper of suggestion, pervading the cloud of information that we see as trees and rocks and people and flowers.

She would settle in next to Humbaba as he fell asleep and whisper in his ear contriving her voice so it sounded to him like his own mind, or perhaps a god.

“Treat it gentle, honey.” said Baba Yaga to Humbaba “Take it easy, my sweet boy.”


philosophy, Uncategorized

The Unity of Consciousness

A good friend of mine woke me up in the middle of the night with a text.  I had left my phone near my nightstand to wake up in the morning and the text buzzed me — I was worried that somebody back home had died.  My friend’s text was, at least on first glance, not so urgent.

“I can not be a physical thing because I am unified and physical things are all made of parts.”

I got together with him in person at Jinky’s, a popular breakfast spot in my neighborhood.   His hands were shaking but he drank cup after cup of espresso.

“My brain is made of cells and my cells are made of atoms but I — what I actually am — is not made of pieces.”

“Sure it is.” I said.  “It is made of thoughts and feelings and beliefs and desires and memories.”

“No” he said “There is something linking all of those things — it is the I.  I think. I feel.  I believe.  I desire.  I remember.  That is a single thing.  And it is single in a way no atom or cell or physical item can ever be.”

“You are 1 you say and not 2 or 3 or 1/2?”


“How do you know that the I that thinks “I remember the text I sent last night” and the I that goes with “I taste espresso” are the same I?  Maybe you are two or more?”

“I don’t think that’s even possible. Everything I know or think or do is all part of my world.”

“How do you know you have one world?  The world has trees and planets and atoms and cells as you said yourself.”

“Because I know everything in the world. I bind it into one world.”

“But we don’t know that your I is one thing.”

“But I do.  I know that because…” he faltered “Everything I know I know.”

“I’m not sure you are clarifying anything.  All you are saying is that there are things and thoughts. You haven’t yet proved that they are one.”

“But the very fact that I am talking and experiencing this shows that it is all one.  If it were two then there would be things that I don’t know or think.”

“But there are.” I said.

“Yes but I don’t know them!” he said.  “So the actual world I experience and the actual I who is me is unified.”

“Do you mean to say, perhaps” I suggested “That you treat yourself as one? That you treat the world as one?  Because certainly it is up to you whether to treat a deck of cards as 52 things or one thing.  Perhaps your expression “unify” meaning after all in English “make one” is closer to your idea.  There are a bunch of thoughts and feelings and you make them into one.  And similarly the world has a bunch of plants and animals and rocks and stuff but you make them one by thinking about them.”

“Yes!” said my friend “Exactly right. I make them one.”

“How and more importantly why would you do that?” I asked.

Our conversation ended as such conversations often do with a barely perceptible slide into mutual embarrassment, which ocurring as it did below the surface of consciousness slid immediately into the occasion for mutual distraction from our embarrassment, and we talked about less important things — who we knew who lived and who we knew who died, who had sex and fell in love and had children and made money, and we left talk of the “I” and unity far behind.

But for  a moment there during breakfast I think we almost had something!


“Are Stories Just Dances We Invite the Reader to Participate In?”

No, Ross, although I see how you might think that.  You noticed that stories are not made of words, stories are made of units of emotional significance.  Want and its frustration, loss and its redemption.   And you realized that story is not painting (not that painting is painting either) because the reader takes part.  When the little tailor kills seven with one blow and walks down the road to seek his fortune, the little reader has killed seven with one blow too and seeks his fortune too.  So naturally having understood these two things you made a very natural mistake, Ross.  You thought that the story put its hand around the waist of the reader and intertwined its fingers with the reader and together they made a dance.

But you made a very natural mistake, natural to those who live in ages when culture changes very slowly — so slowly that it seems to stay the same.

But in actuality although a dancer and her partner may whirl across a ballroom and return to the same place, when the story and the reader dance together everything is changing — the ballroom is being torn to pieces and rebuilt as an aircraft hangar and the floor beneath the is torn up and becomes a freeway on ramp, and every time they turn and return they breathe air full of chemicals that did not exist when they started dancing because the factory that made them had yet to be constructed.

So, could the story be a journey?  A dancing journey that the reader and the story take together?

It could be, and it must.


I got a parrot once who said “mourning is not a competitive sport”

I got a parrot once who said “mourning is not a competitive sport”

Did I say parrot?  I meant parent.  I guess he knew whereof he spoke.

But he did not speak Wolof he spoke the “echt anglais”

And sometimes we didn’t speak to each other for days and days and days.


Now they’re all gone: the parent, the parrot, the Wolof

The dynasty that doesn’t even remember its greatest days

When tyrants in robes of sea-lion and shelk inscribe their punitive laws

And dark mythologies in the intricate hidden whirlings of a whelk.


Easy does it! said the last people left in town when the last train left

There’s no easy way to say this any more — we are just bereft.


Imagining and Acting

Do you live in your dreams or are you a man of action?

Both.  Imagining is a kind of acting.  When we imagine a possibility or imagine our lives in a certain way we are living in a certain way.

Acting is always suffused with imagination.  If you spend your day making money, you imagine that that money will be good for something.  Even if you flee a tiger you imagine the experience of being eaten will be a bad one.

What’s the difference?   An act of the imagination as a rule is easier to undue.  I can imagine I’m a king and then imagine I’m a commoner with very little risk.  If I actually take an action though it’s often hard to go back.  But this difference is on a continuum.  Some acts of imagination take years and take our heart’s blood and are very risky indeed.  Some regular, flesh-and-blood acts are easy to undo.

A related point is that all fiction is magical realism.


Qolik Xolik

“Qolik xolik, Mr. Zolik”

It means “Stay Impartial” In my native Uzbek”

“Verb. sap. sat.” I would have replied.

Were it not already implied.




Verb. sap. sat is short for “verbum sapientibus satis” which is Latin for “a word to the wise is sufficient.”  You say it when you mean more than you are willing to say but you want to encourage your more perceptive readers to dig a little deeper.  It is a somewhat wistfully optimistic phrase that, like such phrases so often do, obviates its own expression.  Obviously, if a word to the wise were truly sufficient, it would be unnecessary to highlight its sufficiency by writing verb. sap. sat.

Verb. sap. sat!


Donald Trump and “Locker Room Talk”

Donald Trump was recorded bragging that he could use his position of power as a television producer to grab women’s vaginas and kiss them without their consent.  His defense in the debate last night was that this was “locker room talk”.   How should we evaluate it?    Does criticizing his behavior mean we are prudes who are unable to accept that people are human and fallible and can express themselves in a relaxed fashion on topics like sex?

Consider the following parallel.   Doctors have a position of power with respect to patients.  And doctors when no patients are around indulge in taboo-breaking conversation.   We could call it “hospital banter”.  Hospital banter might be disturbing: physicians might talk about patients disrespectfully.  My doctor might when he talks to me one on one say “you should really lose weight” but with his colleagues say “patient’s a tub-o — looking to be heart attack central!”   Hospital banter can be rude and disrespectful and even express desires that doctors wouldn’t want their patients to hear, such as “I wish that guy would just die already and stop showing up in my emergency room.”

If a doctor was recorded engaging in hospital banter he would probably want to defend himself saying things like Trump said.  “It’s just talk.  I was just kidding.  I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.”

But consider the following case in contrast.

You are worried your child has cancer and need the services of a pediatric oncologist, Dr. Jones.  A tape of Dr. Jones surfaces where he thinks he is not being listened to and is talking to a colleague, Dr. Smith.

Smith: How do you like being a pediatric oncologist.

Jones: It’s awesome.  You have so much power.  Sometimes when I’m talking with parents about their children I ask to see their wallet to check their insurance.  And then I reach into the wallet and take a twenty dollar bill and put it in my pocket.  Right in front of the parents!

Smith: Really?  That’s interesting.

Jones: Interesting?  It’s great, cause I love money and I love humiliating people.  Then I return the wallet to them without the money and look them in the eye.  It’s really awesome cause they are so emotionally upset cause they think they have a kid with cancer that they don’t do anything!  Also they’re afraid to because of m position as a doctor!  And I get money!

This is pretty different than two physicians simply engaging in “hospital banter”.  In this case the doctor is doing more — he is bragging about a criminal act.

Trump was bragging about a criminal act — using his power to have sexual contact with  women without their consent.

Anderson Cooper last night asked Trump repeatedly “Did you really do it?”

In the case above if Dr. Jones was joking I believe upon being caught he would say that very very clearly and immediately.  He would not say “It was just talk.” He would unambiguously say “I don’t actually do that.  I was joking.  I was showing off.  But I do not really steal from my patients.”

After being asked I think four or five times Trump finally said “No, I do not sexually assault women.”

That is a clear, unambiguous answer.  The answer about “locker room talk” is evasive, as I hope I have shown.


Double Reflection

Kierkegaard’s “double reflection” is not hard to understand. If I like chocolate, that’s an immediate response, and can occur without reflection. If I think “I like chocolate but if I eat too much of it it will make me sick” that’s reflection. Instead of just thinking about the chocolate I’m thinking about my own response to chocolate, as if I am looking at a reflection of myself in the mirror and judging it. The double reflection is when I think “I worry about food too much — it’s making me hard to live with”. That’s forming a judgment about my own reflecting — it’s like looking at myself looking at a reflection of myself in a mirror, in another mirror. Could there be triple reflection? Sure. Here is an example “My double reflection is just an excuse I use to not deal with my chocolate addiction.”

And yet, it seems to me reflections don’t in practice advance infinitely.  At some point there might be nothing to be gained by further reflection.  I’m not sure if that’s  (what I just wrote) an example of quaternary reflection or just plain old double reflection.  And I’m not sure if it matters!


Ephemeral Indissolubilities, Lyrical Extravagance: Little Known Brooklyn Detectives

There were so many teams of boy detectives when I was growing up sometimes it is hard to keep track of them.  If forgetting is a criminal, my own team of boy detectives Attention and Recollection will solve the case of the forgotten event.  Some of them include

Bol and Sef, who solved crimes of rhetoric, including hiding true emotion through its exaggeration cf. Bol and Sef and the Case of the Lyrical Extravagance

Chum and Wa who solved crimes of ephemeral murder, brief possibilities of human life and flourishing extinguished, possible personalities snuffed out by insensitive husbands “Chum and Wa and the Case of the Canarsie Wife Who had a Fleeting Epiphany of Zeus”

Groolie and Jane who solved straight up cases of misogynistic, homophobic shaming “The Case of the Single Game of Salloji”

Papa and the Clam who solved a single case in their long career “Papa and Clam and the Case of the Ringed Ringolevio”

Hersh and Podel, who solved bribery cases committed by their parents in the Ny state assembly, Hersh and Podel and the Case of the Free Trip to Miami

Thorn and Paco who were adults and solved drug-related homicides “Thorn and Paco and the Case of the Drug Related Homicide”

Leo who worked alone and solved his own issues in silence as he stood between the pillars on platform of the Beverly Road IND playing with nunchuks.