I am tired and cold, in the process of slowly reinjuring my rotator cuff, which was initially fucked up when a girl ran into me instead of sliding when I was blocking the plate. But I have warm beef fried rice in my belly and a night off work, so I think I'll be okay. At least for the moment.

The BBC reported on some interesting findings about subliminal messaging, namely that the brain picks up on subliminal messaging very well when it's not too occupied and poorly when it's being used.

Which, yeah, is kind of neat. But what really caught my attention was this paragraph:

Dr Bahador Bahrami, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: "What's interesting here is that your brain does log things that you aren't even aware of and can't ever become aware of.

It makes me wonder how much I'll never know I know, how many of my decisions are made for me without my knowledge. It's unbalanced, disorienting. How much of my time is spent listening to a voice I'll never hear, watching a picture I'll never see? Is, say, a visual artist more able to tap into subliminal stimulation? What about the Romantics, who were obsessed with the sublime long before "subliminal" was ever introduced into the English language? Were they picking up on things the rest of us couldn't see? When Wordsworth and Coleridge wrote about emotion, nature, intuition, imagination, were they just picking up on Nature's subliminal messaging? The fact that they use the word "sublime" over and over, that it becomes almost an obsession for them, seems to indicate that this is the case, that they are aware they don't know everything they know. Like in Tintern Abbey, when Wordsworth writes

                    These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ’mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. (22-35)


He's writing about an "unremembered pleasure," about "little, nameless, unremembered, acts." About things that don't register in the moment, but pass on to a "purer mind," to something sub[super?]conscious. Things that he can't write about, not really, because he's not sure they exist. Except in order for his world to function properly, they must exist, both within his own mind and in the minds of those around him. The abbey, the hedge-rows, the cliffs, imprinted themselves on him as a child, not only consciously (he remembers seeing them) but unconsciously (he feels an emotional response that is fundamentally the same as when he saw them as a boy.)

I'm puzzling through this as I'm writing it, doing one of my usual hail-Mary close readings. Which is not very much of a close reading at all, as a real close reading of this bit of poetry would probably take several thousand words. As a result, I'm not quite sure what my original point was, though I think it was something along the lines of: we've been thinking about the effects of subliminal stimulation through the lens of poetry much longer than we have through the lens of science. So maybe, in order to understand it, we should be looking back instead of forward, at notebooks instead of computers, at long walks in open fields, at snow-capped mountains, at inch-worms.

I'm sure someone has written more articulately about this, has taken the time to make it into words that work with rather than against one another. I think a large part of my interest in it is rooted in my agnosticism--basically, my belief that the presence or non-presence of a deity or deities is unknown and unknowable. It doesn't mean I don't believe in God, or gods. It doesn't mean I believe, though, either. It means that my prayers aren't to anyone, and that the only reason that I call them "prayers" is that I'm not sure what else they could be.

And now that I have thoroughly scared you off with both the quoting of Wordsworth and the navel-gazing , I recommend fic! All That Mattered, by [livejournal.com profile] phase_of_gray. Interesting and convincing John-in-hell, a snippet that lets him keep his dignity and even get some snark in. I think I'm mostly interested in the portrayal of hell itself, as this place in which you constantly want for things that you can't get. It's a little straightforward for my tastes, but my tastes have been known to tend to the messy and obscure. Anyway, it's part of my project to expand my comfort zone, fic-wise, and read authors and styles I've never encountered before. Sometimes it makes my eyelids twitch, but sometimes I stumble on a gem. And I like shiny things.

ETA: My weather report currently informs me that there is DENSE FOG (omg!) outside. It's a beautiful night. There is no sign of fog anywhere I can see. I love my weather report.
I try to keep politics out of LJ as much as possible; I'm not much of a political person, and I think everything balances out, eventually. I don't really have the time or the energy to devote to political ramblings.

But I am deeply disturbed by a US Court of Appeals panel decision that Guantanamo detainees (prisoners: living breathing human prisoners) do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment through the writ of habeas corpus.

May I direct your attention to Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution which says, specifically, that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

I can see clever arguments for how the public safety may require it, but I fail to see the threat of rebellion and invasion. I fail to see how we, as the invading power, think we can ship enemy soldiers out of their own country, (not to ours, of course, just to an intermediate stop that we've commandeered to use indefinitely), away from their own government (which we set up), and then deny them a right specifically referenced in one of our own most important, indispensable documents. I realize that the majority of the prisoners, as non-Americans, are not guaranteed American rights. I just find it frustrating and mind-boggling that we think we can get away with going into a foreign country, taking its people, and holding them indefinitely. I don't even have the words to form a coherent argument about it, as you've probably figured out if you've navigated all the way through this post. It just saddens me, disappoints me, and makes me wonder how, twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now, history will remember us. How strongly history will condemn us.

Yes, us. Because I'm an American, and anything my country does reflects on and is a reflection of me.

no flash!

Feb. 15th, 2007 04:21 pm
And this, right here, is why I love people.

Although I have to say, I'm sorry, Mona Lisa guardspeople, you don't have a stressful job until you are trying to narrate a tour of Arlington National Cemetery to eighty-five middle-schoolers on the muggiest day of a Washington summer, one of them telling you about every three minutes that she thinks she's going to vomit, one who won't take off his headphones, two in a silent staring battle at the back of the bus, and one who's crying about how her boyfriend broke up with her to three sympathetic cooing friends. Or a job where you have to manhandle three hundred hot and angry people, fully half of whom are larger and scarier than you, into a line. Or a job where you have to tell flyboys that no, submitting some sort of half-assed muster report in which their command has inexplicably doubled in size overnight doesn't quite cut it, try again. Or a job where you have to simultaneously translate between the American police and the Italian who's just been rear-ended outside the base.

Me, over here? I will trade!
The other day, I was talking to my brother over IM and he sent me a link to a live video of Metallica playing "Enter Sandman" at the Monsters of Rock concert outside Moscow in 1991.

So I clicked on the link, and the first thing I IMd back to him was goddamn.

Official estimates put concert attendance at 500,000; other people claim it was as high as 1 million plus. What struck me about it, though, was not the music (I'm not that into live music, especially not at such low quality, unless I'm actually at the concert), but the feel of it.

It's like watching an apocalypse.

The shots that pan out show hundreds of thousands of people, speakers jutting from the crowd like ships, helicopters crossing overhead. Seriously, if you said apocalypse, I would pull out that picture, and hand it to you, and you would nod and say, yeah, yeah that's about it.
My bookmarks have become hopelessly jumbled, and right now I have a huge folder called "Reference" that I just jam everything into. This is my attempt to rectify that situation, to organize for myself, and maybe to give you links to some sites that I find fascinating. For now, it's just an incomplete annotated list in no particular order, but I plan to come back, reorganize, and add at a point in the near future.

Myths, Legends, & Big Scary Monsters )

Stories, Tales, & Severed Heads in the Woods )

Americana )

World Folk Culture )
Or, you know, closer to ten. Because dude, only in Alaska. Is it any wonder I've always had a secret love for the place?

On a somewhat related note, it's been snowing on and off for the last few days, which has made Carmen a Happy Person. I always forget how essential the winter is to my well-being, how important the cycles of the seasons are. In Sicily, it froze maybe one or two nights a year. The single flurry (first one since '89! no, there was the one in '91, remember, and that inch of snow in eighty...what was it?) caused a reaction of bemusement more than anything, and I had to explain autumn, because it...didn't exist. It threw me off. The years left lava rock and hot winds, half-moons of sweat in your armpits and sunburns across the tops of your ears, but no other landmarks.

God, I missed the winter.

Maybe that's why I write about it so much. It's just, right now, watching the snow blow in gusts beneath the streetlamp, driven up and sideways as much as falling, I'm good. I believe that I am good, and that the world is good. And even though I know the world's sure as hell not good and that I am many things like courteous and conscientious but the word good is not one I'd use to describe myself, I still believe it.

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May 2010

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