Thursday, June 3, 2021

Instructions

 Remember you are made of mud. Literally, your flesh was made of dirt. You are recycled worm poo. 

Remember you are made of mud, and be humble.

And remember you are made of stars. Again, literally. Your matter was forged in the fires of the stars.

Remember you are made of stars, and be bright.

And remember you are made just like everything else: 

Part of the universe, condensing into being from something hotter and stranger, at the dawn of time.

Remember you are made of what is unimaginable, and be strange.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Power imbalance

 My childhood story, in the mood I'm now, would be just a tale of woe. But one small incident can stand in for the rest.

My ninth grade class was on a trip to study practical geology. We were staying in a big villa somewhere I can't remember, all sixteen of us in one large room stacked with bunk beds. My classmate P had a thermos flask that somehow had rotted; it smelled terrible. So he and three or four of his friends held me down on the floor and stuck the flask over my mouth so I would be forced to smell it. I actually didn't care about the smell, but I cared that they thought it would bother me and that they thought they should use my body as their plaything.

So, this part I'm somewhat proud of. When you push me, I'll act with an acute awareness of the space and the bodies around me and no regard whatsoever for your well-being or the sanctity of human life. I took the flask away from P, who wasn't ready, and I threw it, lying on my back, straight down the stairwell some five steps away. Just the least expected amazing feat of physical skill from a scrawny little comic book nerd. My body saw a way to immediately put the object they relied on for my humiliation far away from us and acted before I had a chance to think about it.

We listened to the sound of the thermos flask going down the stairs. It made an impressive sound of glass breaking every time it impacted something. I was worried I was breaking some windows or something. The boys let me go, probably afraid that the noise would attract attention.

But it turned out it was just the flask. P showed it to me later, complaining that I had broken it. It apparently had a lot of broken glass inside it. Some super fancy kind of thermos flask. It's relevant; P was the rich kid in our class. Huge house in the center of the city, with videogames and a full size billiards table. Steel toe boots that I once watched get run over by a bus without hurting him at all. He had a fancy violin that he liked to torture to make sounds it wasn't designed for. He's a professional violinist now, I think.

I don't mean to say he was a bad person because he was born to wealth. I don't think he's a bad person at all. It's just that he was rich and I lived on a farm where we grew our own potatoes and paid 310 dollars in rent, and he knew this. And he was angry with me for interrupting his playtime and destroying his flask. And he complained about this to me at great length, expecting me to feel bad about doing this to him.

As I write this, Israel's air strikes, naval strikes and ground strikes against Gaza this week has killed more people than Palestine's attacks against them has killed in the last twenty years, and Israel's PM tweets about how the weak has to die, inevitably, as by natural law, and it looks like they're working up to a complete ethnic cleansing and colonization of the last remaining tiny shreds of Palestine, and they call it self defense and counter-terrorism, and the world congratulates them, or at best calls for "both sides" to work for peace.

I see only grown-up bullies giving themselves licence to use people as they like because they think nobody is going to stop them.