Well, here’s a rant. I’ve often found myself to embody a particular quote from Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale. For those who don’t know, this is the first in the James Bond series. It’s a brilliant book, but there’s this quote… where he writes… “Surround yourself with human beings. They are easier to fight for than principles.” I’ve always taken this to mean that perhaps its easier to believe in people and in the spirit of humanity and our infinite possibility to create great things, than to believe in any old principle. Not that people don’t have their principles. Perhaps, I’m just misreading the quote or something. But I really don’t know sometimes. When we look at history we can see some of the greatest accomplishments that came out of all civilizations. Stories where love triumphed. I don’t know. But for a generation that is supposedly now all about individual expression with all these wonderful tools that allow us to do so… people still just seem so, I don’t know, stuck up. Or maybe its just this country. As I wrote the other day, people tend to cut grief short here. People don’t tend to express themselves in public very often. Maybe it’s something that came with us as colonists… this stoicism. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stoicism. There’s nothing wrong with not letting your feelings and emotions run your life. But for God’s sake, let it come through now and then. And this isn’t just confined to personal expression, or interaction between individual human beings, this is a national problem. This pacifism. The fact that national anger over the economy can only be expressed through a radical right-wing movement called the Tea Party, that is in itself dominated by special interests and sought to be absorbed by those with the money and the power. It just doesn’t seem like people really care any more about anything. Of course, I know people about whom I could say the precise opposite. I know people who are passionate about a variety of things, and live that passion everyday. Whether it’s dance or the cause of the Palestinians. They live it. And it’s amazing to witness. Maybe it’s just here. In suburban America. I can’t stand this place. Maybe I really do like to complain. As much as I appreciate the beauty of this area – you really can see the history here… the first years of the American Republic… it’s just become so, so, sorry. I don’t know how else to put it. People seem so isolated. Of course, maybe I need to get more involved, or move to a city, or I don’t know what. But I just feel so damn out of place. Or maybe I’m just lonely. I enjoy going to the gym and I get really into it when I listen to music and run indoors, though I’d much prefer to be out on my road bike if it wasn’t so cold. But it just doesn’t seem like people are very outgoing here. They’re stoic everywhere. Expressionless. I rarely hear a word spoken in the weight room. It’s bizarre. I get it if you’re locked into your own world, doing a routine. But its just this seriousness that is mind-boggling. Like nobody gives a damn. But then again, perhaps I’m just lonely. And maybe I’m just angry here, tired of sitting in a cubicle for hours on end, even if I can study Arabic. I’m just so tired. I hate the feeling of stagnation, as a close friend put it to me. It’s like this fear of sitting and wasting away, hour after hour, day after day. And now I can say it to the world. Yay me. Even if no one will read it. I can still say it. I’ve got quite a slew of articles to put up on here, that I’ve read recently. I’ll post them soon after I get done with this week, and my interview in Arabic with the State Department on Friday.
I’m reading a great book. I mean, a truly great book. The first book of this kind that I’ve ever read. It’s called Virtually Normal by Andrew Sullivan.
Take this quote… just an example of Mr. Sullivan’s brilliant prose.
The truth is that despite extraordinary resources marshalled against homosexuals–culturally, economically, politically–the twentieth century has seen fissures of liberty become chasms. This has been achieved not simply through traditional political means, but by precisely the cultural forms of resistance that Foucalt so brilliantly described and analyzed: by wit, by impudence, by art, by commerce, by passion, by honesty, And this growth of homosexual freedom has continually had its vanguard in the United States, despite its tradition of fundamentalist Christianity, despite its capitalist system, despite its allegedly oppressive influence in world culture. It is even possible that the creation of a homosexual space occurred–paradoxically–by a fruitful clash with a hostile, dominant culture, a clash that was given oxygen by the space and the liberties and the excesses that the New World provided.
Well there you go, Ladies and Gentlemen. Brilliance. I don’t think I will ever date another man who hasn’t read this book. It is nothing less than a seminal work in our civilization this century. It is utterly brilliant. And I encourage all to read it. I’ll be quoting more from it soon as I progress further through it. I just wish that was the nature of the discourse we could have in society. A discourse based on reason and rationality. A place where people could express themselves in society without fear of retribution or judgement or being labeled and categorized into stereotypes. A person I once loved used to tell me how important it was to refuse to see things as black and white, and to see things in shades of grey. He was an amazing artist, though he never admitted as much to himself. But now he’s become as black as an artist who paints only with charcoal. Sadly. Yet I still believe.
Or I’ve lost my mind. Maybe one of my friends is right and I’m no longer living in reality. Shouldn’t we construct our own reality though? Whose to fault me if I want to construct mine based on honesty and being open with people about how I feel? Human beings are the most complex creations on Earth. We barely understand ourselves. Shouldn’t we seek to understand more? Isn’t that A purpose of life? Just to understand ourselves? It’s sad to see people hand out such judgements so quickly, to dispense with such rhetoric that they only gave a mere second of thought to, as if saying, “I’ve certainly put this through through the process of being reasoned and rationalized,” and then they just throw it out there with no idea of the consequences. Of how it could potentially feel when it falls on the ears of another. And human beings are supposed to be easier to fight for than principles? Ha. I wonder sometimes.
I just don’t feel like people in this country understand what freedom and liberty mean anymore. I really don’t think we do. I think it’s been nearly forgotten. Wiped from our collective national mind. Run roughshod over by the national media and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Haha. Seriously though. Let me tell you exactly what these two things mean. I’ll illustrate it with a perfect example. I believe yesterday or a day or so ago, a group of people, including LGBT Service Members and other activists, chained themselves to the White House fence to protest DADT. They chained themselves to the President’s fence. I can’t tell you how proud I am of these people. If I had been discharged from the military because of my orientation I’d do the same thing. It’s called civil disobedience. And Thoreau’s book, entitled the same, is sitting on my bookshelf, unopened and waiting for me to read. But this singular event is a perfect example of what we really need. People to stand up for things they believe in. To say to hell with complacency and pacifism. And to be passionate. To love freely. You don’t think it’s the love of this country that inspired those people to chain themselves that fence. An Arabic linguist who was in the Army – discharged because of his sexual orientation. An Arabic linguist. Remind me how many of those we are in desperate need of in the Middle East? Ahhhh! It drives me mad. Complacency. Inaction.
I’m reminded of that scene in the film The Incredibles, where they depict the transition of the Incredible family from a life of being superheroes to just that of normal, everyday people. And they depict Mr. Incredible sitting in his office cubicle, which he clearly is way to big for, and dealing with his small, short boss at some insurance company. He clearly isn’t happy. And of course, Pixar illustrates this in only a way that Pixar can do. With such wit and humor. And I know I’m clearly not a superhero, as I sit here comfortably in my office chair. But my legs feel like they are atrophying. My jaw feels like it has TMJ. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen all day. Though I’ve finally got some old, historic maps up on the walls of my cubicle. This is just not me. I need to be out somewhere in Lebanon or anywhere in the Middle East, informing myself about something. I need to be doing something I care about. This place is so depressing that I can’t even motivate myself to study Arabic flashcards. Though I truly enjoy learning about the different forms of the wazan (verbs) on the wazan chart. I’m just tired. As a close friend told me just now, I apparently have way to much time to think. All I can do is write, and write, and write, and write. Perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing… I do like writing. But I like doing just as much, even if its reading and writing. There’s just not much to do around here.
I really do like to complain, don’t I?