Monday, April 23, 2018

Your burden, you bear it

My name is unimportant or rather it was until I turned him in to the Third Section. Now, my name is on some very incriminating documents that he, and the circle of friends that will soon be arrested with him, will read, and (hopefully) be slightly surprised that I am the one responsible for their downfall. Strictly speaking, that isn't true they are responsible for their own fate, just like the rest of us. Their little "insurgency" and the circle of people who were involved knew the risks they were taking when they started to take them. I don't feel sorry for them, nor do I bemoan their fate(s). They broke several rules of the conspiracy game, the main one being don't get too big too fast, the other critical one is to vet the people you are letting into your circle very, very, closely.

Conspiracies of the type this lot were planning are not meant to be fast growing like the bamboo plant. Too much, too soon and mistakes are bound to be made, and if you are the one making these mistakes the price is very, very high. If they were French, we would ship them off to Devil's Island, and France would be done with them. If they were Irish, we would transport them to Van Diemen's Land, and move on to the next group of wild eyed revolutionaries that need to be suppressed. But they aren't they are not getting shipped via boat anywhere, they will have to trudge thousands of kilometers to the Artic wasteland that the Motherland has deemed suitable as the world's largest open air prison. That, if they are lucky, will be their fate. The facts, as I reported them to the Third Section, are far from all being gathered, and it is my humble opinion that the majority of them will be stood up against a very convenient public wall and shot. An example to others as the saying goes.

As another saying goes, "that is them problem, not a me problem" my problems the ones that led me to turning my coat, and taking the sovereign's coin to send foolish (but brave) men to their cruel fates, are a bit more mundane. I am not, despite how this looks, a bad person. I am not, despite the number of times I've been called it, a cunt. Not that I am some angel either, I don't help little old ladies across the street, and I don't love my mother as much as I perhaps should. I am somewhere in the half light between do gooder, and absolute bastard, the half light that, in my opinion, bathes the majority of the world's population. A boy's got to pay the rent, and food is, on occasion, a nice thing to have, and the Third Section (those light blued uniformed bastards) know this, it is one of their main tools of recruitment, the other being people who just like to get other people in trouble, and don't care if the rumors they tell the Third Section have any basis in truth whatsoever.

Therein lies the difference, I took the state's coin because I needed the money. Don't for a second think I enjoyed it. Becoming a company man is not a pleasant experience, and I do not recommend it. However, I do not recommend starving to death either it is also an unpleasant experience, which is why I chose not to do it. My other defense is that they were actually guilty. Their plan to overthrow the regime, free the peasants, and start a New Order, while naive and destined to be a glorious failure, was still treason. This is something that I fear history will forget when it comes to be written, and I will be (unfairly in my view) be condemned to either its dustbin, or to a special place in its hall of villains. I am also fairly certain, that since at least one member of this group is a very bright literary fellow that he will make a defense that will be eloquent enough to throw some doubt on my reports of his treason. That is why you take good notes, and write things down. You might have a memory that borders on total recall, but you aren't going to live forever, nor are you going to always be around when your name is being mentioned as a lying, cheating bastard that probably doesn't love his mother.

As I write these words, they are somewhere in some dark, and dank prison cell trying to sort out how the actual fuck this happened to them. They have little to no clue as to how careless they were, and no idea who "betrayed" them. They will see it as a betrayal, they will curse my name (when they find it out) and damn me forever in their letter, diaries,and memories, if they survive to create any of them. That is risk I have to assume, and come to grips with once I became an informer. It is a dirty business, and you have to do some dirty things in the process, but again a boy's got to pay the rent. I am not so naive to think that the Third Section is done with me. After all, I got them their men, and that is what those bastards want. They don't care how, they aren't overmuch worried as to why, they just want results, and the day I stop providing them results, is the day that I either go back to starving, or the day I find myself in a cell of my own. It is the informer's curse be useful, or we will find a use for you, i.e. make an example of you for the encouragement of others.

It will soon become a fine line. I console myself with the fact that this particular group of fools was actually committing treason, and I take my coin not with pleasure, but with the knowledge that I did a job that needed doing, and I did it well. But what of next time? Treason doesn't, in spite of what the suspicious bastards in Third Section think, grow on trees. Certainly, this lot weren't the first group to want to rebel against the crown, and be cut down for it, nor will they be the last. But, are there really that many groups like them festering in our fair land? If there are not then perhaps.... (nice try Third Section, but I am not so foolish as to write down my "treasonous" thoughts). The enduring problem is that eventually I am going to outlive my usefulness to the Third Section, and will probably then starve, but at least the wolf is kept from the door for the nonce.

I can only imagine the terror, surprise and finally anger when the group of people I have turned in read the warrants and the reports with my name attached. A sense of betrayal will certainly sink in, and perhaps, if any of them survive, I may have to spend some time in the future looking over my shoulder for one of them bent on revenge. Luckily for me, the sentence(s) they are facing involve either them not being a problem for anyone ever again, or at least not for a very long time. The best they can hope for is exile to the wasteland that provides its own set of challenges to survival. Disease, neglect, and a less than sturdy constitution may take care of several, if not all of them. Still, I will do periodic checks on them (if they aren't shot) to make sure that I am not wandering down the street one day and walk "accidentally" into a knife that has "my name on it" fifteen or sixteen times.

For now, I will try to obscure my tracks, go back to being some relatively unknown nobody, and see if perhaps there is life after one turns one's coat. I certainly hope so, the good news, if there is any good news, is the turning of my coat is not going to be broadcast in the daily papers. That would defeat the purpose of the Third Section.. They will splash the lurid details of the "major conspiracy" that threatened the "very core of our government" and all the other buzz words that will make citizens feel safe in their beds. Those citizens don't have to know the more mundane details, that this group of people were so idealistic in their thinking that their "master plan" could  not have toppled a house of cards.

However, they will spend their time, if they are not shot, in the House of the Dead, and I will continue to be useful to the Third Section until am I not, then I may join them or I may sail away to Singapore in the hopes of finding a new life one far, far from the maddening crowd. However, until that day arrives one must just wait and hope. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

The Two Masons

This is the story of two masons, their names for the purpose of this story are Pierre and Jacques those aren't their real names, and they may not actually be real people. That's for me to know, and for you not to worry about. Your job, if you choose it, is to read, and hopefully enjoy, the story of the Two Masons.

This story starts simply enough with two masons. Bricklayers to the common folk of the world, but they prefer the term mason. It's like saying something is "organic". If you hire a bricklayer you get them cheap, if you hire a mason, you've stepped up a class to impress the neighborhood, and you get the privilege of paying an additional fee. The Johnson's next door need to learn their place, so you hired a mason to do your work, not some low class "brickie" that talks in a funny accent.

Pierre and Jacques did their living, working, breeding, and dying in the same city. A city of moderate size, big enough to accommodate a fair number of masons without being so small that they continually got in each other's way.  It was a city that provided its own set of challenges, it had its toffs who thought that a certain percentage of the population just didn't exist, and if they did exist it was only to serve them in some fashion. It had it pretentious section populated with people who thought the toffs were only there to give them money while they slummed around and "found themselves". It also had it slums, the areas where the people whom the toffs didn't like to think existed struggled to exist. A large(r) part of this particular town than the city fathers would like to admit at fancy dinner parties, but again that's what cities are, good, bad, and ugly.

Each of them had their niche, a set of jobs that they preferred to do, for the most part Jacques worked in the dirtier, less beautiful part of the city. He did good work, and had a considerable number of customers. His theory was that squalid has it own sort of beauty that just needs a little more attention to become breathtaking. He was fond of saying "that any damn fool can make the cathedral of Florence look good, it takes talent to make a stone tower glow".  Maybe he was right, or maybe he was just lazy, or just not quite good enough for the toffs of the city to hire. Either way he made his living with some aplomb, and even had the occasional success that surprised his colleagues and critics (who were generally the same group of people).  He was fond of heights, repeatedly saying that "things always look different from higher up". However, given the part of town, and the types of commissions he usually took, he didn't get to indulge his fondness for heights overmuch. I suppose "a boy's got to pay the rent" was his main theory when it came to his work.

Pierre preferred the toffs, the people who had disposable income that he liked for them to dispose into his pockets. He wasn't exactly the "pretty people's mason" but he was one that at least they used frequently enough to know his first name. He was clever enough to know that most pretty people are fickle, and they liked options. After all, what's the point of having all that money, if you don't have options?  Not a fan of any particular style, Pierre, would build anything pretty much anywhere, if the money was right, and the mood struck him.  He had his moods, did our Pierre, and sometimes he would retreat from his work like Napoleon retreating from the Russian winter of 1812. Rarely did these "retreats" last very long. Pierre liked the work, and the work generally liked him. Because he got bored easily, he liked to have multiple projects going at once. Based upon the theory that "the more the merrier".

Our two masons knew each other, but not particularly well. They worked, drank, and played in different circles, and their paths crossed only occasionally.  They rarely, if ever, bid on the same job. Jacques wasn't good at talking to the toffs, being the first mason in his family, and the offspring of a bricklayer while Pierre was "as smooth as goose shit on glass" and knew when the toffs were vulnerable to his sales pitch, and was an expert in timing and tailoring his pitch to that vulnerability. Neighbors across the street put up some ostentatious piece of frivolity that is throwing shade  (in both a literal and figurative sense)upon your grand estate? Then call Pierre, he can soothe your wounded pride, and help you build something equally frivolous, and maybe even at half the price if you want it enough.

Pierre preferred to work during the summer months the "hot" time of year when the brickwork was pliable and soft and easier to mold. "Heat is a wonderful thing, it increases the ardor, and allows for some truly eye pleasing works of art" he would say.  Jacques, by contrast, preferred the wintertime. "It might be wicked cold, and the brickwork might be a little moody, but who doesn't like a bit of a challenge now and then?" would be his reply when asked why he liked working in the cold. Cold was something he perceived as a challenge an hurdle to overcome in his own fashion, and in his own time.

They both had their successes and they both had their failures. Buildings that stood the test of time, crafted with what passed for love for these two that are still visible in their fair city today even if the mason has moved on to different projects. Nothing that rivaled the work of Brunelleschi, after all he was an engineer and a genius with a flair that our masons were either unwilling or unable to match. If you want a dome call Brunelleschi, if you want an orangery or a stone tower call Jacques, or if you are a toff call Pierre. Of the two, Jacques knew the limits of his talent more clearly, and perhaps that was his problem the self doubt about his limits sometimes kept him from understanding that his mark was lower than the actually talent limit he possessed. Pierre knew no limits. His was a confidence born of both success, and a unshakable self belief that would allow him to attempt almost any project that could hold his wandering interest. It's not that Jacques didn't wander, he possessed a great deal of wanderlust in his own right, it was just his field of wandering was limited by his doubting his own talent.

They had their failures as well, projects that could never get past the foundational stage, projects that after the stone had been dressed, it just refused to come together into anything that any self-respecting (and they both possessed a great deal of self-respect) mason would attempt to build. Dressed stone, the type used in ashlar masonry was a particular weakness with them both. They both preferred the rougher hew of an undressed bit of masonry the type used in rubble masonry, claiming that it was an easier medium in which to work.  Jacques was much more into rubble masonry because he claimed the requirement of regular courses stifled his creativity. 

They weren't rivals and they weren't exactly friends. They knew of each other, and of each other's work but rarely did their paths cross either professionally or personally.  Except on the rare occasion, when a local builder who wasn't a toff or a prole needed a bit of work "done" (as the saying goes). The building itself was complete, but there was some recent expansion that hadn't gone quite to plan, and the builder found themselves with the sudden, unexpected need of a new mason. Sadly, (as it turned out later) Jacques didn't notice the fine cracks that were showing in the facade of the building, and being a mostly honest type told the builder "everything is grand, don't ruin a good thing by complicating the brickwork already in place".  Pierre, being more of a chancer, and perhaps a bit more perceptive explained to the builder the flaws in the building, but at first decided that the repairs were either beneath him, or that he didn't have the proper feeling of the builder's plan to make the building "up to code" again. 

Eventually, Pierre convinced the builder that the cracks were slightly more serious than they actually were, and obtained the commission to make the building "right as rain".  He managed it just, and for a while all was right in the world at least for the builder and Pierre. Jacques, ass out of the commission was at first a bit put out, but eventually started to work on his own grand tower for some towering queen that most people were unable to know. Both of our "heroes" loved stone because of its smoothness Jacques because it was cold, Pierre because of its earthly smell. Neither were above the task of picking pebbles out of a drain, but neither ever claimed they were themselves stones.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


"I suppose you know why you are here" she asked with just enough sarcasm in her voice to trigger what was probably the wrong reply. "I figured you were going to tell me which of the myriad of reasons is the cause of my presence in front of you."  That did not please them, because as I looked further into the corners of the proverbial "corner office/throne room" I saw that quite a gathering had been assembled to give me the latest "dressing down" in a lifetime full of them.

One of the non-throne occupants sighed and said, "I told you not to be a jackass, why wouldn't you listen to me?"  No reply that I could think of would much help that comment, so I decided to keep my mouth shut, for once. Keeping one's mouth shut is an art and a science, and can be very hard to do for someone with a willful disposition.  "Well?" the throne asked, "Care to tell us why you are here?"

I shrugged and replied carefully "again, I figured you would tell me, after all your spies, and we all know you have them, and who they are by the way, would have briefed you on whatever reason you needed to frog march me in here." A small, but still hard to notice unless you were paying attention, and my life is built upon paying attention so I noticed, hint of surprise flickered in the throne's eyes at my statement about her spies and people knowing their identity. "If you're going to create spies, or turn people against each other it is best to be a bit more subtle. I understand the iron fist in the velvet glove approach, but that is about ruling, not about being a spymaster."

While undeniable true, that statement did not win me any friends among the group assembled. The good news, if there was any good news, is that I already knew that I didn't have any friends in that group, so I hadn't really lost anything. "I mean other than dressing them up in leather trench coats, giving them a fedora, a sneer, and maybe a scar or two, could you have been more obvious in your choice(s) of spies?" You are not, I hate to break the news to you, Felix Dzerzhinsky (my favorite Bolshevik, by the way), and this little group of yours isn't the Cheka, and your power is not as limitless as you'd like to think." I figured since I had been unceremoniously dragged into this "meeting" I had might as well get my money's worth. Once you're in enough trouble, you reach a point of diminishing returns as to the punishment you can receive, I had reached that point.  

However, that little speech, while sounding quite pretty to me, was not particularly well received by my audience. Did I mention keeping one's mouth shut being an art and a science? I can't draw a stick figure properly, and most of the science I know is that the atomic number of Carbon is 6.  Perhaps my classical education wasn't as classical as I had previously thought.  "Well since you don't care to articulate the actual reason you are here, let's just talk in generalities shall we?"  

"It's your party boss, I am just the guest of honour."  That, at least produced a laugh from somewhere behind me, had more of my fan club filed in while I was ruining my career with my smart mouth? "Some honour" I heard someone say with a chuckle, and recognized the voice as another one of "them".  Jesus they had brought out the entire line up of bigwigs for this dressing down. Like the British using the entire Royal Navy to "show the flag" to some banana republic that needed a little show of might to be brought to heel. It seemed a bit of overkill to me, but it wasn't my party, it was more like my funeral, and I didn't even get to pick the music.  

The throne began to speak, and I realized it wasn't going to be pleasant, and since no cookies had been provided to take the edge off of unpleasant, I held up a hand to forestall the "list of your sins" speech from getting into top gear. "I already know what you're going to say. I have my spies as well you know." Here, I stopped (a dramatic pause if there ever was one), and took a long slow look around the room. Not because any of these cunts were my spies, but it never hurts to spread doubt among one's enemies. Let them ponder that bit of impossible news for a second or two, maybe they were a bit like the Bolsheviks, and after so many years "in power" they would start to turn on each other and devour themselves.  

Not that they would mind you, they weren't quite the power mad bastards that Stalin and his cronies were, but it was worth a small prayer to the gods that it might happen.  "You will be even sadder to know a few things about my spies" I said with just enough conviction in my voice to convince me that I actually did have spies (which wasn't exactly true by the textbook definition of the term, but luckily for me this lot hadn't look at a textbook in over a quarter of a century).  "First, you don't know who they are, they aren't the obvious people you would think, if you bother to think about it at all. Two, I don't have to pay them, nor can I offer them any reward for good information, or punishment for bad information. Thirdly, unlike your lot, they are loyal. Fourth, and this is just my personal opinion, they are smarter than your group, which makes it quite entertaining for me."  That little speech did NOT go over well, but by this juncture, I was beyond caring about the eventual, obvious outcome of this meeting. I had endured a long day, and I just wanted a beer or ice cream, or maybe a ice cream beer float.  

"Well that was certainly a wonderful speech," I heard from behind me, "Anything else you'd like to rally the troops with there, Churchill?" This came from the throne's version of Molotov, the plodder in the group that somehow managed to achieve a high position to the amazement of everyone, up to and including themselves. It was a bit clever for them, and I figured that another one of "them" had provided the quote to "Molotov" in order to keep from speaking themselves. "No, I figure that most of Churchill's wisdom would be lost in this situation, and besides I have not dusted off any of his speeches in a while. So you can go ahead and set my punishment now, though with your lack of imagination I know the choices execution or exile."  

That drew a oddly disturbing smirk from the throne, and when the throne smirks it cannot be anything but bad news to the person at which the smirk is aimed.  "No, genius we've decided against either one of those option, though there were a couple of us that spoke quite vehemently for the former, but they eventually came around to the majority view." I arched an eyebrow in question as to what these mad bastards could have concocted as a third way of punishing me. They were not known for their imagination.  "It took us a while, but we figured out the best way to, in your words "punish" you was quite simple." She leaned forward tenting her hands (a la Monty Burns) and said with pure joy, "We are going to promote you."

You unbelievable, magnificent bastards ....

Friday, September 01, 2017

Les Loups

Almost five months since last writing anything for this blog is inexcusable. There have been subjects that needed addressing, but I found myself beset with a lassitude that was too hard to overcome in order to make that happen. It is not something to be proud of, the habit of not writing can be just as easy to fall into (and to break) as any other bad habit, but we should at least give it a try. After all, I (and my layabout co-author, Ladislaw) already possess enough bad habits between us to keep a clinic, a whorehouse, a bar, and a team of psychologists busy for years to come, there is no need to add any more bad habits to the list.

Seventy-eight years ago today, some very, very bad people did something very bad to their next door neighbors and in the doing of that caused a whole lot of other people to get involved. The neighborhood had seen this disaster coming, but they just couldn't be arsed to do anything of substance about it. Every time the bad, bad people did something bad (as bad people are wont to do) the rest of the 'hood just make excuses for them, or believed the bad people's lies when they proclaimed (this lot were great at proclaiming) that they were very sorry, and that it wouldn't happen again. The neighborhood, being the trusting sort, and being distracted by what was happening in their own houses (after all the laundry isn't going to do itself, now is it?) took the bad people at their word.

Of course, "the word" of bad people (and a lot of the times any people) is generally as useless as a white crayon, but I guess "not so bad" people tend to look for the best in everyone no matter how bad those people have shown themselves to be. This is, from what I've been told, a form of optimism, something that I have never been accused of possessing. The very, very bad people got away with a few transgressions before today, seventy-eight years ago, they got just a little bit too greedy and "crossed the Rubicon" that the not so bad people had told them was the last straw. In their defense, even though they are really impossible to defend, the very, very bad people had every reason to expect that the not so bad people would react as they had before, which was to waggle an admonishing finger at them, and ask them "not to do it again."

One of the problems with very, very bad people is their word is shit. They didn't get to be very,very bad people by being honest, open, and straight with other people. They lie, they cheat, and they don't follow the conventional rules of polite society it is what makes them both hard to comprehend, and hard to deal with in any setting. They just quite simple do not care about anything other than themselves and their agenda. If you are in their way, they will steamroll you, if you have something they want, or think they need, they will just simply take it from you (if you persist in trying to keep it), and they don't care if they have to crush you like a bug in the process. They may start out using words as weapons, and you can reply in kind, but they aren't afraid to quickly progress from words to real weapons, and you have to understand that while you may be loathe to respond in kind, it will eventually become necessary to your continued survival as a viable person.

All of that leads us to (what we hope) is the main point of this post. Words as weapons, and how far you can take that particular idea. In the past week two people whom I consider to be "bad people" (they haven't progressed to very, very bad yet) told two other people that I know (they are closer to the "good people" category but are still not without their flaws), that they (the bad people) "always had their (the good people's) back."  A simple enough idea, and if true a wonderful thing to say. Both of these bad people might have even have meant it (I wasn't there to judge the sincerity of their words). This isn't the McCarthy hearing, and I am not being asked to "name names" and I am not going to.

 Hearing of both of these proclamations of undying fealty of friendship, and knowing all of the parties involved, I began to wonder about their veracity. Since neither of them were made to me (me and the proclaim(ers) aren't that close), my thoughts on the subject were merely (for the most part) an academic exercise.  They are beautiful words to say, and to hear, and if true a sign of some sort of enduring friendship that will stand the test(s) and  strains of time. The problem with the declaration is the word "always'. There is a theory that "always" and "never" should not be added to those types of statements, based upon the theory that it is rather predicative of future events that you (the declarant) have little to no control over. External events such as war, famine, plague, or getting a new job in a new city as a wringer of chicken's necks are hard to predict, and even harder to control.

Those external events cannot be accounted for because they don't exist yet, you can try to plan for things that don't exist, but most of us aren't that clever. To come up with a plan to combat a problem or an enemy yet to be determined is the work of genius. Schopenhauer said that "talent hits a target that others can't hit, genius hits a target that others can't see. Pretty fair assessment of this situation. Knowing all the parties involved (both the speakers and the listeners), I can assure you there is no genius in this lot, there is talent sure, but no genius.  If those beautiful words had been spoken in a vacuum then perhaps their lofty goal might be attainable, but they weren't they were spoken in the real world to real people by a couple of people that could be labeled as "lying cunts'.

Much like the very, very bad people of seventy-eight years ago our speakers have some massive flaws. We all do, and that is not what the major problem with this story is, if they were perfect (which one of them is pretty sure he is), then we wouldn't be able to stand to be around them.  Flaws are not fatal until they begin to poison the bloodstream of the friendship with diseases just as jealousy, betrayal, and greed. Those types of issues crop up in a lot of our relationships and they are very rarely signs that things are going swimmingly.  In two of the three proclamations of "always having your back" those beautiful words are not beautiful that are, in fact, weapons.

It is probably expecting too much of the speakers of those words (they both said it to the same person) to have them even realize they are using those words as anything other than what they seem to be on their face. Beautiful words of undying loyalty to another human being they purport to deeply care for. But again, that tricky little word "always" comes into play. Though now we are talking about internal problems. Not that your garbage can has been stolen by the very, very bad neighbors, but issues that are internal to the relationship between the speaker and the listener. The kinds of things you (both speakers) can control. Things like how you treat the other person, both in a crowd, and when you are alone with them.  They may be different for a various number of reasons, but you should both understand and agree to that set of rules.

The weapon those words picked from the selection of injury dealing items in every one's relationship armory is guilt. A dangerous one to be sure, and one wielded far too often, and with the usual brutal results. The knout of guilt is something that can flay more than the skin off a relationship it can cut through to the bone, and leave more than external scars.  Guilt can deceive, it can make the listener start to doubt their own judgement, make them believe a fable that the speaker is spinning in order to distract attention from their own lack of character. Keep the listener guessing, keep them doubting their own judgement, and the next thing you know you are controlling their emotions. Which is the major goal of guilt in the first place. Keep them terrified, Keep them from trusting themselves make them trust you, and get a concession from that first concession of doubt you can start to change the narrative to you being the injured party not the lying, grasping cunt you really are.

After pounding away with the knout of guilt, our speakers both decided to reach for the battle axe of jealousy. As if the knout wasn't enough to break some one's spirit. The battle axe of guilt was especially appropriate in both of these cases for reasons that are easily sussed out, but best not written down. Both used it with abandon, both meant it with malice, but one of them had a decided advantage over the other. Again details are not important, it is the fact that the axe was added to the knout in order to control the listener's feelings, to make the listener doubt. Doubt, like fear, is the mind killer, and once you have them doubting, you can, like the very, very bad people mentioned above start to get away with more and more egregious actions.

Finally, at least for our purposes today, the speaker can't really "always" have the listeners back. There will come a time when a "me" or "them" decision has to be made. The wolves will be at the door, and no matter how much they may have actually meant that declaration of loyalty, they will leave the other person to the wolves. It is just basic survival technique, we aren't talking about the self sacrifice that a mother will undertake to keep her child alive, we are talking about non-lethal situations where the speaker will throw the listener to the wolves because it becomes apparent that the speaker will benefit from it more than "having the back" of the other person. The realization that the speaker will leave the listener to the wolves will eventually dawn upon the listener, and like the "good" people above they will have to, in order to survive, stand up to the both the wolves and the person "always having their back" the pity of the situation is that more often than not they are actually one and the same person.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thor's Hammer

In the legend, the comic and the movie(s), Thor the God of Thunder has a hammer that only he can lift. He even says that anyone that can lift it can rule Asgard in his place. All of his fellow super-heroes try and fail to lift it, as he knew they would. There is only one Thor, and it is his hammer made for him alone. It is his right and duty to wield it. We all have our own version of Thor's Hammer, something that only we can "wield" or do, or something that is ours alone. It might be be a burden, it might be a privilege, it might be a duty, or it might be a right. More than likely it is, if you keep it long enough, all of the above at some point in your life. The point is that it is yours, and you don't have to share it if you don't want to, and even if you do share it, you can really divest yourself of being its sole proprietor.

This blog, which I have been shamefully neglecting, is, for today's purpose, my own small version of Thor's Hammer. Clearly, sometime near the beginning of the year I "downed tools" and stopped writing.  It was an act of pure, unadulterated laziness for which I am duly ashamed. It is also an act which I am going to try to remedy. I still suffer from a lack of actual writing talent, but that deficiency never stopped me before, and I should not allow it to stop me now. A lack of material is not to blame, there exists enough of that in my day to day life to keep me at this keyboard for years to come. Be it the rumors swirling like autumn leaves around my workplace (some of which I am the subject of, some of which I gleefully start or embellish, and some of which I am the keeper of), or the continued failure of my relationships and sports teams (to which there seems no end), or the pure insanity of the group of people that I chose to call my friends. All of those sources are fields of gold for material to write about, and with the proper name changing, and the occasional artistic license could be worked into something that could be considered entertaining.

I have attempted to share this blog (my hammer) with Ladislaw, but that ne'er do well is off living a life that would make Caligula proud, and has, it seems, also downed tools. I can't blame Ladislaw for the work stoppage. Keeping the tarts happy, holding down a semi-full time job, and managing to be a constant source of irritation to so many people must be exhausting. I shouldn't expect regular contributions to this blog to be particularly high on the list of things Ladislaw is concerned with doing. That isn't anyone fault exactly, Ladislaw has a hammer of considerable weight to drag around that takes up a considerable amount of time and effort. Fair play to him. She has, in the past, graciously allowed me to help with his hammer, but it remains her burden alone. That is a story for another day, and if Ladislaw can be arsed to do it, maybe he can tell it. Those details need not detain us here.

During the Viking Age, the age that we associate most with our buddy Thor, His hammer, forged with a slightly too short handle by dwarfs tricked into the making of it by Loki, became a symbol of the old gods, a rebellion against the Christianity that was becoming more prevalent in Scandinavia. The hammer became a sort of "anti-cross" to people who resisted that change and clung to the old ways (we fear change, so we can understand this entirely).  Without trying to sound like too much of a pretentious prick, this blog is my own (poor) version of an anti-cross. It wasn't exactly started as an act of rebellion, but it has developed into one over the years. It is my own small rebellion against the everydayness that Sarte and Camus explained, lamented, and eventually rebelled against. I do it poorly, and I understand that in many ways it is futile, but sometimes it is the act itself that is important regardless of the chances of success or the certainty of failure. It must needs doing, and I am the one that needs to be doing it.

Unlike Mjolnir (the name of Thor's hammer), this blog isn't capable of leveling mountains, and it certainly does miss more than it hits. It is not going to create thunderstorms which will make my many devious enemies cower in terror in the dirty, smelly hovel in which they live. It is not designed for that purpose, though it would be bloody nice if it could make thunderstorms happen, I love me some thunderstorms. But no, the more mundane, and more un-godlike task of this blog is not to be a burden, not to be something that I have put down, and now can't pick up again. Its task, its purpose, and its goals are to entertain. Mostly it is to entertain me, if it happens to provide other people with some sort of entertainment that is grand as well. I waver between hoping that it does, and not give a shit if it doesn't.

Either way, the point of this (if there is one) is that the work stoppage must come to an end, and if my loyal readership of four, maybe five people are still out there, I hope they will rejoice (though that might be asking just a bit too much) at the news.  If, by some small chance, the subsequent blog posts (of which I hope to write soon) entertain them, then that is a bonus. And if by some further miracle, Ladislaw manages to crawl out of whatever tart's bed they are warming, and crawls back to the keyboard to contribute, well their assistance in picking up this hammer will not be unappreciated.  Here's hoping.

 P.S. this post was written on a Thursday for a reason, it is Thor's day, now go forth and bring the thunder down upon your enemies.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Cinq Ans

Report on Comrade GI's Five Year Plan, recently uncovered after a forensic examination of his papers, and during extensive questioning of GI.

Prepared for the Central Committee for their perusal, and for the informative purpose of instructing others who deviate from party discipline.


As you are no doubt well aware Comrade GI has been seen by members of the Security Squad, and has revealed, after several days of questioning, the details of what he referred to as "his own personal Five Year Plan." Some of you may also be aware of the anti-authority streak present in GI, and many of you well remember his previous run ins with this Committee. It would seem that previous attempts to correct GI have failed, and we are forced to admit to this being a failure on our part. Perhaps if we had been less overbearing, and yet somehow more firm, we feel that GI could have been saved from himself, and would not be in the situation in which he finds himself.

Nevertheless, it is not this office's  remit to comment on the obstinate nature of GI, it would fall to the office of Moral Reticence to correct, if possible, GI's wayward, dangerously individualistic thoughts. However, in passing, this office would note that it is our considered opinion that such correction is doomed to failure. We believe that GI is too far gone down the path of moral degeneration to be saved, and a long prison term, or being put up against a wall and shot are the only suitable means to deal with him. It is also our opinion that the only purpose that GI can be to the party and to the State is to serve as a warning to others, and his ultimate fate to be used for the education of others that are prone to deviate along the path he took.

GI is a clever man, and a clever man is sometimes a dangerous man, both to himself, and to the State which he claims to serve. However, he is not as clever as he thinks, nor is he as clever as he seems. His perceived cleverness was part of the reason that he managed to elude discovery for so long, his over-estimation of his own cleverness is what allowed us to eventually catch him in his own net of lies. His original responses to our question showed a certain misguided belief that his system was foolproof. He continually replied that "it is MY Five Year Plan, not yours, and you would never understand either it, or the need for it." This comments is reflective of the time GI spent in the decadent  cities of our ideological enemies. It was an assignment for which he was deemed suited, but for which, as it turned out, was more than he could bear.

The main thrust of GI's Five Year Plan was it's design to be his and his alone. A dangerous individualism has crept into his thinking, for which he repeatedly refused to apologize or accept his error in doctrine. We must admit to a certain admiration for the plan, as it is fairly well-reasoned, duly follows the rigorous methods laid down by the Party for such plans (on the larger scale of course), and had goals that were attainable. In fact, we believe that if he had not been betrayed by his own hubris, GI's Five Year Plan's goals would have been met.  His plan would have been ultimately successful, and we would have never been much the wiser.

It was that hubris, and that desire to be an individual that led to his downfall. GI is, in his mind at least, a lone wolf, however he lacks the capacity for the true loneliness that such a position entails.  We readily accept that his true loyalty is to himself, but we also were able (after some persuasion) to ascertain that he had formed attachments to others that he was wont to break. It was these attachments which led him to abandon his Five Year Plan, and to break with the Party, and which have placed him in his current situation.

The main criticism of his Plan is that it entails a certain amount of "economic adventurism" that is unduly Western in its approach, and risky in its application. It is this risk, this adventurism that sets GI apart from the Party. His almost absolute belief in his own way of thinking, while in some ways admirable, is also very,very dangerous. No man is bigger than the Party, this lesson we have learned to our cost before, and refuse to allow the mistakes of the past to creep into the present, and to eventually cloud the future. GI has not taken that lesson to heart, or just chooses to ignore it. Questioning him along these lines revealed several, logically inconsistent answers that we were unable to resolve to our satisfaction.

Despite the adventurism contained in his economic plan, it is economics that formed the basis, and were the most detailed part of his Five Year Plan. A closer examination showed that his plan was flawed, but was still going to serve the purpose that he desired it to serve. Which was mostly his own self-interest. The independent/contrary streak that GI displayed throughout his training did make him a perfect candidate for his position, but it also made him a bit of a wild card. It was to be hoped that the proper amount of freedom coupled with the slightest amount of structure would keep him on the right path. We were quite wrong about the amount of deviance in his thought. He did a wonderful job of keeping his thoughts masked from even the most observant of his instructors.

It is the opinion of this office, and myself personally that GI's plan was ultimately doomed to fail. He is clever enough, but subject to human frailty just like the rest of his. His plan completely forgot to account for his own humanity. He is not by any stretch of the imagination, a people person, but he has a certain weakness for his fellow man that he has been unable to expunge from his character. It helps give him a certain amount of charm, but it made it wholly unable to carry out his plan as he envisioned it. His plan was Spock-like in many ways, but GI has a little too much Kirk in him, it made him constitutionally incapable of seeing his plan through to the end.  The failure inherent in GI's plan would, in this office's opinion, lead him to the same sad fate's of men such as Fredrich List, and Vladimir Sukhomlinov. One found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot would in some cheap hotel in Bremen, and the other poverty-stricken, and found frozen to death on a park bench in Berlin.

We have yet to ascertain exactly what led GI to abandon his Five Year Plan, but we feel certain that in a few days the last remnants of his resistance will crumble, and we will be able to piece together the remaining details of his failure. For the nonce, we recommend keeping him isolated, and awake as much as possible. We understand that he knows our methods, and is trained to combat them, but these methods have been proven effective time and time again, they will eventually work on him. It is just a matter of time, and time is something he has just as much as we will let him have.

It is the recommendation of this Office, and we think the Party will agree, that despite his being a good comrade, GI needs to be placed against a wall and shot.

Respectfully submitted

Aleksander  G_____v
Captain, Security Squad, Party number 22143

Friday, October 28, 2016

Story (ies) Time

I have been told, by people who would know and have no reason to lie to me, that when they read this dross that I befoul the internet with, that they can hear my voice in their head while they read it. I took, and continue to take this as a huge compliment. Not that I want to be inside anybody's head but my own (and even then sometimes I wish I could exit stage left from it), but that they know me well enough to let me take over the narrative voice that they (and we all) carry around with us. Hopefully, in your head there is only one voice providing the background narration to your life. If there are more than one, then perhaps professional help might be in order.

That narrative voice is important, it might tell you to remember to buy onions for the fantastic soup that you have planned for dinner, or it might tell you to go up to that girl and give it a shot.  Either way it should be your voice doing the narration. A madder than a March hare German philosopher by the name of Schopenhauer claimed that in all of human history there were only about 25 books that people should read. His theory was that when you read a book, you allow the author of that book to take over your narrative voice, and in part your way of thinking, That is a very over simple way to put it, but Schopenhauer was a fucking genius, and me, well not so much. It is that theory of his that I always think about when people tell me that they can hear my voice when they read me. It is a little scary, and a little bit of an ego boost, and gods know I need an ego boost (that ladies and gentlemen is what is otherwise known as sarcasm).

It is also a great responsibility to know that my vast readership of 4, maybe 5 allow me the privilege of taking over the controls, even if it is just for a little while. I don't even have to promise not to break anything. I try to at least entertain these people because of the trust they place in me should not be either abused or misplaced. I am quite certain that I fail more often than I succeed, but I hope at least that the successes are enough to keep my place in their heads. The stories I tell, even as poorly as I tell them, are designed to keep people entertained. I know I can't compete with the multitude of cat videos on YouTube, but I give it my best shot. I understand the occasional attempt to send a cat into space is much more of a draw on one's attention that the ramblings of a semi-literate, mostly drunk, fool with too much time on his hands, but seriously how many cats have to die (never too many) before we realize that jet packs strapped to their backs are a bad idea?

And it is those ramblings, those stories told with (mostly) good intentions that are the point of this blog. There is a fundamental difference between MY story, and my STORY. The former is mine, something that happened in the drudgery that passed for my real life, and with the name changed to protect the guilty, the innocent, and the damned, I relate to the best of my ability. That narration is easy, it follows the semi-logical lines of the actual real life event. Some embellishment is bound to take place, but in the general outline the story is true, or at least true enough to pass muster.  On occasion the story may wander off into semi-fiction, and that can sometimes be attributed to either a faulty memory brought on by took much alcohol, or a desire to spice the story up a bit to make sure people are still paying attention. The MY part of it is the important point. It didn't happen to my mate R______ who is probably under surveillance by all sorts of law enforcement groups (and probably the IRA as well), or my other mate N____, who is dodgy as fuck, or to Ladislaw, who is probably currently waking up and trying to focus blurry vision on the note I left that reads "you were brilliant, not-Alison says hello lover."

The second part is if something is my STORY. Meaning it is made up out of mostly whole cloth. A figment of my imagination, and I do have an imagination. Something that has almost next to nothing in common with the day to day drudgery that masquerades as my real life.  It is something that I try to make original, but struggle with that idea because I wonder if anything is ever truly original. It doesn't star any of my dodgy or not so dodgy (although they are much fewer in number) friends. The setting is not the shit hole town I presently occupy, nor are the names going to be the same (if I bother with names at all).  It is a STORY plain and simple. No real hidden meaning, because I am not that clever, and usually no moral because I am not particularly moral.  These types of stories are truly designed to exercise my imagination, and see if maybe I can move to Paris and slowly starve to death while living the Eric Blair dream of my childhood.

I am no great shakes at writing either type of the above dramas, and I am acutely aware of that shortcoming. It is a painful one to realize, but at least I don't delude myself into thinking I am the second coming of Charles Baudelaire.  However, a recent event has lead me to re-think my (limited) ability. I clearly came to this writing thing late in life, but then again so did Raymond Chandler. Age is not exactly as limiting to writing as it is to playing football, either the American kind or the real kind the rest of the world plays. That event was the reading of another person's attempt to tell a story. I was not exactly the intended audience for the story, nor do I expect the person particularly values my opinion(s) either about literature or anything else. Which is perfect because I don't value their opinion either. It is a relationship based upon mutual indifference with a dash of distaste. It is quite lovely in its own special way.

I obtained my copy of the story this person was trying to tell, and was appalled at the poor quality of the writing. At first glance, I thought that I had missed the first page because the opening paragraph (which is generally important) made no actual sense. I soon realized that wasn't the case, and they had started the story with an very awkward beginning. Awkward beginning are fine if you eventually grow out of them, like your teenage years. Sadly this story did not achieve that desired result. It started somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and proceeded to get worse.  The actual writing, I hesitate to sully the word style by calling it such, seemed to be written by a 12 year old. It was so bad, that I remarked that if a college professor of mine had read it, he would have written "shouldn't this be written in crayon?" at the top of the page next to the giant F and the "poor even for you" that generally graced papers that displeased him. It was abysmal.

That sin was bad enough to warrant this person being shipped to at least the fifth circle of Dante's hell, but it was then compounded even further by the content. Sometimes poor style can be salvaged by good content, it is a bit like the Ugly Duckling child's tale. Sure, the duck is bloody ugly but with a little polish it can be turned into something beautiful, or it possesses an inner beauty that shines through the not so pretty packaging.  This missive compounded poor style with the additional sin of poor content. The content had potential, much in the same way I used to have potential before I settled into the middling career with dodgy friends while living in a shit hole apartment that I currently occupy. It was potential that was sadly so far gone that it was never going to be realized. The poor style and the poor content were finally joined in the "poor" trifecta by the story trying to be something that it was not.  It was told as a "MY story" type of story, but it lacked the one key component that was required. It was full of outright lies.

Not that lying is a hanging offense, as far as I am concerned if you are going to lie you should lie with some degree of aplomb, and a fair amount of extravagance. However, this story was not a blog post, or the opening pages of the great American novel. Its purpose need not concern us here, but it was something that the MY was important to. This person, whom I can not allow myself to call a friend, had mixed up the MY story with the my STORY.  They had told, quite poorly, a STORY something that had not happened to them, but maybe to one of their dodgy friends (if they have friends, dodgy or otherwise).  Or maybe it had happened to some random stranger, and they overheard that person telling the tale of woe and regret on the bus. Making matters worse was the story was really supposed to be true, it wasn't a loan application or anything like that, but it was written in a context and to a group that you really shouldn't lie to (like the IRA).

It boggled my imagination that this person would believe that any right thinking human being would consider their story to be anything but absolute junk. I am not enough of a friend to this person to tell them, gently or otherwise, that what they wrote is donkey shit. We are all a bit touchy about our writing, and I didn't want to come across as just plain mean, but I was truly appalled. Both as a reader, and as, using the term very broadly, a writer. It takes a lot of courage to write certain things down and place them in front of the "world", but it takes a different kind of courage (maybe a more gentle courage) to tell someone who has tried to write a story, that the story is shit, needs to be completely trashed and rewritten, and that you really expected better from them (especially if the qualifications they brag about in the story are true). I can only hope that somewhere, someone (other than me of course) has provided this service for this person. My other hope is that somewhere, someone will do the same for me when I commit the same sin. I only hope they are gentle when they do it.