Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This Blog

During the summer months I spend more time outside or away than during the winter, and though I have never been what would be considered a heavy reader I read even less now. This dries up my writing material a little, and I hope I'm not becoming too boring or repetitious. I enjoy writing, because it allows me to put down thoughts that I rarely see elsewhere. I believe that my thinking is more independent and less derivative than it is for most people, and I feel a need to counter the light entertainment, propaganda, brainwashing and conformity that I see everywhere else. From my vantage point, the narratives that one encounters in books, magazines, film, television and throughout the Internet tend to reinforce each other even as they present a version of reality that is distorted compared to what I see. Of course, you can always write me off as a disgruntled crank, but many of the things that I object to I object to deeply after considerable observation and reflection and an effort to be unbiased. I have no ax to grind about anything and consider myself fortunate.

As it is, you may have to put up with whatever eruptions burst from my brain, however coherent or incoherent they may be. Today I've been thinking about what the main theme of this blog is. It looks to me as if the central one is the illusions one maintains during one's life: if one has an open mind, one realizes that many assumptions made earlier, either explicitly or implicitly, were just plain wrong. In a way I am observing and thinking like a novelist such as Honoré de Balzac, but I am making explicit interpretations of situations, people and events rather than presenting them as stories left to the reader's judgment. Balzac understood his era well, but he certainly doesn't pass my concision test, and his writing sometimes seems clumsy. Yet he creates memorable realism with, for example, the relationship between Lucien de Rubempré and Madame de Bargeton in Lost Illusions. I found it hilarious when, after all the buildup and fanfare during their escapades in Angoulême, the two split up permanently the moment they arrive in Paris. Of course, this is all written with French sangfroid and none of the sentimentality that American readers prefer, and as in most literature no one is there to point out anything to you. I am the man on the street who is there to do it - in the real world.

Probably I'm more sensitive to the consequences of delusional thinking than most people because of the lives my parents led, as recounted earlier. If people were able to see into the future they would radically alter some of their decisions. My mother thought she was marrying a dashing war hero who would take her away to a prosperous life in England. As it was, from a combination of immaturity, war trauma and a big ego, my father was a business failure and dead at age fifty. My mother never remarried and worked in menial jobs up until age seventy-five, when her Alzheimer's symptoms became pronounced, all the while stockpiling money saved with the help of her wealthy boyfriend, who treated her like a mistress. Late in life she speculated that her parents had intentionally set her adrift in order to have one less mouth to feed in postwar Greece. Any lingering fond thoughts for my father had evaporated by then.

The conditions that anyone who is now reading this is living under are probably far better than those of postwar Europe, but the same kinds of mistakes are made over and over again, perhaps with less dramatic consequence. My impression is that many young people don't understand the world, and many adults aren't much better. Although adults become acclimated to the world with which they are familiar, they are still susceptible to making false assumptions about how conditions may change during the remainder of their lives. Thus my repeated warning that no one is running the show - and the title of the blog.


  1. Every bride is beautiful but the pic of your mom is especially so. I do not think it uncommon that women are delusional when choosing a husband. They are young and not experienced at picturing 5 years out let alone 30 and they have a story in their heads built on hope plus maternal instincts are kicking in to push it all along. I imagine there are tons of unhappy unions.
    I do think you offer something more than the echo chamber and thank you for that. If the posts overlap at times all the better (for me anyway).

  2. Thank you for your support, Teresa. You are probably my most loyal reader after my daughter and companion. Fario seems to like this blog too, though I don't hear much from him (perhaps he will be here in Middlebury again later this summer). A few others seem to read it, but they are less dedicated, and, like lurking trolls, they never comment.

    I thought my mother looked exceptionally beautiful in the picture, and that's why I posted it. I recently photographed it with my smartphone while visiting my sister in Connecticut. My mother's life wasn't all that bad, because she was tough as nails. Her so-called warrior husband was the one who couldn't take it and cracked up. I'm more like my mother.


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