Thursday, July 11, 2002
What with all my free unemployed time, I have been working on reading all those books I’ve been meaning to get around to reading, and finding out all about those subjects I’ve been meaning to learn about, and seeing those movies I’ve been meaning to see.
Let me pause for a moment to say, this is not the most cheery chapter of history, this current moment. The economy by itself is a drag, but then there’s that pernicious TERRORIST nonsense, leading to all kinds of ominous rumblings from the Middle East and elsewhere.
So, escapism into good literature and good movies seems like a good idea.
Have you ever noticed that the most recommended movies, books, etc, are extremely depressing?
I’m sort of stuck in the middle of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It’s a cheery book about the fall of the Russian aristocracy, and the section I am dealing with has to do with a poor woman’s fall into prostitution, the contemplated suicide of another young man, and his sister’s pending marriage to a cruel man she does not love.
But it hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet.
I have been meaning to watch The Godfather for some time. “They” say that it’s absolutely essential for understanding so many other films. It’s about murder, family betrayal and mob crime, I understand.
I rented One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest earlier. I’d read the book not long ago, and I figured I would see the film.
Schindler’s List is another one I’ve been meaning to see.
Do you see the trend here? I mean, really! What’s up with all these depressing movies and books?
I guess we believe in tragedy more than comedy.
Last time I went to the library, I specifically went for light-hearted reading and videos. I am just oppressed by all these horrible situations. It makes me too sad.
I checked out Bridget Jones’ Diary. It is making me laugh out loud! Her problems are so pathetic as to not really be problems, so I can freely laugh.
I actually have a great respect for good comedy. I admire the artistry of stand-up comedians, who can tell the awful truth of something, and make you laugh at its absurdity.
That’s a real gift. I think that Life is Beautiful did that, but it was so heartbreaking, that I ended up crying before I was done laughing.
Whoopi Goldberg does that with her routines, sometimes.
Alice in Wonderland does that, although some of the message is lost in modern readings. Gulliver’s Travels was pretty funny.
I’m going to have to focus on the brighter side. I just can’t take all this gloom and tragedy anymore.
posted by Murphy 7/11/2002
Sheesh...It's been too long.
I have been having an over-abundance of thoughts lately. You would think that would result on MORE blogging, not less...
But sometimes certain trails of thought need to come to some sort of conclusion, or at least a pause, before you can write them down. Mine have been awfully meandering.
Anyway, I will write more later on those walks in the woods.
RIGHT NOW, i am excited to share the news that by beautiful friend of faith, hope and love has published her informal survey of new music. Go check it out!
posted by Murphy 7/11/2002
Monday, July 08, 2002
I finished reading the communist manifesto. It was short, as I already said, and it was pretty good. Once you got used to the weird German sentence structure, Marx and Engels had good stuff to say. I think their assessment of their contemporary situation was accurate.
It seems that with the industrialization of Europe, the capitalists (aka large business owners) were in charge of everything the way feudal nobility had been. Okay. But industrialization had led to a consolidation of population, and all those workers (of the former serf class) were squished into really nasty living conditions. At least as serfs, the lower classes had a patch of land they could feel secure living on. As industrial age factory workers, they didn’t even have that.
As Marx said, nine-tenth of the population was doing the work and one tenth was owning the property. In his opinion, working towards a society where the benefits of property were shared was simply fair.
I think his assessment of the worker-boss relationship was correct for his time.
But while he felt that the 9/10ths would naturally rebel and take over the 1/10th, and that they should logically ask for shared ownership, it did not work out that way.
Everyone now says “Communism failed.” I’m not so sure that’s true. But one thing that is true, is that Marx did not look at the way wealth was distributed in America. We don’t have the same disparity of property. Sure, We have a very few very wealthy class. But we also have a high percentage of property owners.
I looked it up. 64% of Americans own their own home. And our government highly encourages the population to own property. There are all kinds of assistance and even subsidy programs. This seems to be a way of redistributing the wealth, across a broader and more fair section of society.
Also, our government has done a lot to make certain kinds of property common. City Parks, libraries, schools, all kinds of things are essentially communal property.
As I was walking on the stevens creek trail today, I was enjoying the incredible beauty of the trees and flowers. I was delighted that such a wonderful paved bike trail was accessible to everyone. When I looked up at the weeping willow tree, I remembered that I had traveled through a paved road in the middle of a similar forest in Moscow. I was told that it was the hunting grounds of the csar. That would have been the kind of park that Marx was familiar with: the kind that said KEEP OUT.
While our monetary system is undeniably capitalist, and the whole population understands and expects that, there is still a lot of practical communism at work.
Marx certainly didn’t predict that turn of events. I have a lot of respect for his hypothesis, because it seemed to be based on some very logical steps.
But it’s hard to predict the future. No two ways about it. The best guess can be wrong. It seems like you have to keep a keen eye about you. All your best theories of how the world works could be very wrong; things change all the time.
My clever boyfriend sent me this link today, talking about silly assumptions. It juxtaposes two types of people, the statists and the dynamists. That is, people who assume things are staying the same, and people who realize things are changing.
Well, it doesn’t take much to realize things are changing. It’s important to keep up.
posted by Murphy 7/08/2002