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Thursday, November 28, 2002


Eudora used to flag all my interesting incoming emails with these little red chillies, and I never quite understood what they were supposed to mean. It particularly liked to flag the meta-level philosophical discussions, but I never was able to discern a clear pattern. Finally I looked it up in the manual and discovered this (patented) feature was supposed to be alerting me to "potentially offensive language". Yes, that's right -- my emails were now coming to me with a rating, and apparently the normal dialect of most of my friends is not fit for public consumption.

Of course, I just turned the feature off and forgot about it. But then just recently I got an email from someone telling me she was not going to read my last email because it had been flagged with two chillies. (Only two! Must have been fairly tame. Looking at it, it's anyone's guess whether it was flagging my text or hers.)

I have no response to that.

Last night I rented Y Tu Mama Tambien. About half way through I realized the movie wasn't going to pick up -- it had been slaughtered and all I was seeing were the white-washed, Americanized remains. Here in my hands was a movie praised for presenting things in a matter-of-fact way which American movies never do, and the censors had just gone in and clipped that all out. Even the subtitles were but a watered down shadow of the obviously much more impassioned Spanish.

It's just... pathetic. Life has gotten too easy, so we create our own constraints. I drive down the street, look through a pair of windows at the suburban mom driving the minivan next to me, who in any other age would be counting her blessings that her children were all still alive but instead she harbors fears that they might see or hear something too real for their eternally fragile little minds. Nursery rhymes once meant to acquaint children with the Black Death long since lost their meaning, but the words are still sung by children safely ignorant of what they speak.

And these children grow up in some confused state between naivete and distrust, unpracticed at handling their starved curiosities, and owning hearts with paper thin walls. It's a recipe for an emotional blood bath--or an excuse to dumb down the whole world and continue the cycle.

Funny to think of all the fucked up things about the world and to know that most of them will be as fucked up or more by the time I die--that I will have lived my entire life in a world of pointless constraints, fears, dogmas, and delusions, coded into laws and social mores and backed by guns, wills, and the casual ability of time to resolve all stalemated disputes in favor of the status quo. It's very frustrating, these things quashing forever all that potential I dreamed of as a child, when I was still naive enough to believe that somewhere out there was a world that thought like me. But no, it's just a few people in the same boat as me, shaking their heads, shrugging their shoulders, and making the best of this crippled lot.

If I could give only one virtue to the whole world, I might choose resilience. For that may be the prerequisite to all other virtues--as without resilience, honesty turns to denial, objectivity turns to rationalization, and hopes turn to fears.

And perhaps that explains the world, because sheltered children develop no resilience. And the rest is history.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com