Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jessie's Pet Skunk: A Sordid Tale of Jealousy

My great-aunt used to tell me a story, when I was little, about her sister's pet skunk.

Jessie had adopted a baby skunk they had found in the woods. She feed it. She washed it daily, and it was generally a good little pet. During the summers, their father used to set up a cot on the porch to sleep on. He decided that he would let the skunk sleep with him.

Now my great grandfather had a little hound dog, who became jealous of the skunk. He'd sit on the front doorstep and stare at the skunk curled up next to my great grandfather.

One day, everyone left to go into town, and the skunk and little dog were left at home. When they got back, the skunk was gone and the little dog was sitting on the doorstep. Jessie went around the house looking for her pet skunk and finally came back to the front porch.

Jessie stared at the little dog. The little dog wouldn't look at Jessie.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I hate to say it . . .

But, Putin might have a point.

Asked about the Chinese test at a news conference in New Delhi after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Putin avoided directly criticizing China, saying only that Russia was against putting any weapons in space.

Instead, Putin chose to issue a warning to the United States on the dangers of the militarization of space.

"At the same time, I would like to note that China was not the first country to conduct such a test," Putin said.

Quote from The Associated Press, via The Moscow Times

Not that Russia is perfectly innocent, but there is something a little wrong about the US attitude of, "we can have weapons, and we can create weapons, but you try to make your own weapons, we will consider you an aggressor."

Plurals formed with "-i" are just more fun.

Over the summer, my muse and I had moment that involved me stepping out of the shower one morning and promptly curling up on the bathmat waiting for a menstrual cramp to go away. I believe I muttered something to the effect of "It my uterus had any value I would sell it on the black market." Which, as anyone who knows me knows, wouldn't happen. As such a process would likely involve needles.

But the muse whispered in my ear: There's a story in that statement.

Having made in out of the bathroom floor to my computer, this obedient little slave of the muse hit the internet and discovered that uteri have no black market value. Rather upset at first, I soon began to consider other things characters could sell, like eggs. (This, by the way, resulted in a rather strange story.)

But now, perhaps, I can indeed pursue the black-market uterus story! It could be a fun sci-fiesque thing.

Although, my mind remains boggled, but to each her own.

Of music and martyrs...

My brain apparently links "Imitation of Life," by REM, with martyrdom, and particularly martyrdom as a physical imitation of Christ. Interesting, brain, interesting.

Seneca's theme song is now Soundgarden's "Blow off the Outside World." Because "nothing seems to kill him, no matter how hard he tries."

And, Mieke Bal tells me in Narratology that characters have no psychological reality. To Mieke Bal I say: Tell that to the voices in my head.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Listening to Russian sing about being smashed apart....or something like that.

I'm taking a class titled "The Redeemed Body" this semester. Title vague enough for you? The class is about martyrdom and asceticism. As a backdrop, we read some Seneca on the noble death, suicide, taking control of the end of one's life, rather than allowing it to be controlled by outside forces.

During class discussion the other day, I realized the opinion I hold -- that there can be situations in which it is rational to commit suicide -- is considered weird. The people -- in my class, at least -- automatically consider any suicide to be the result of depression or trauma. Suicide could not, regardless of context, be a rational decision. To me, that's flawed enough logic to apply to today's world and even worse logic to try to apply to Roman philosophers.

Later, as I continued to turn the discussion over in my head, I realized that our culture (United States of America, contemporary) doesn't really even consider the acceptance of death to be a rational mindset. So much energy is spent trying to stop death, to live just a little while longer, even when the chance of a treatment working is slim to nothing. If a person has a near-terminal illness and decides not to pursure treatment, they are considered to be unbalanced and perhaps even in violation of the law, if they happen to be younger than eighteen. A simple acceptance that death is the human fate is considered morbid, not realistic. Part of this is based on my own experience of how people respond when they find out that I have no interest in heroic efforts being made to save my life should I be gravely injured or fall ill. (The answer is not well, and sometimes they then ask me if I'm suicidal. Usually, they just insist that as a young person, I have no right to an opinion on such things.) Part of this is based on reading articles about attempts by the government to force teenagers to continue with chemotherapy, when they feel that the slim chance the treatment will cure them is not worth the pain cause by the treatment. Part of this is probably rage at a system that thinks allowing a person to starve over a week or so once her body has forgotten how to eat and drink is somehow more dignified or humane than an overdose of morphine.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Or me.