Friday, June 25

green and grey

Today, Levi and I sat and drank tea across from a gray, slightly battered communist-era apartment building with green glass panels on the balconies. Earlier, I had been looking at the other side of the building where the balconies were little glass boxes that looked exactly like algae-filled aquariums, except for the one at the top with all the flowers that looked like a planter. The interior of the tea room (four tables and shelves full of tea paraphernalia for sale) was done in red-brown wood. I kept noticing red flowers on a bush behind a wrought-iron fence, the threat of rain, and all the people walking past.

Like usual, we talked about politics and activism. Here's a basic problem: Why are the people who are the most dedicated and willing to work for change so often the most misguided? To state it another way, why are the radical ends of the great curve of political ideas split between stupid and malicious, while the bulk are stubbornly indifferent? (See: thoughts.)

Afterwards, we walked through the rain and took a tram to the country's largest shopping mall, where despite the rain, Levi's dad and the rest of the band played government-sponsored country music for a smallish crowd, some percentage of it instantly recognizable as homeless. A girl in a very white shirt with very dark hair walked around and tried to hand out European Union literature. The band wound up with a Hungarian rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon". Levi tells me the possible drug-song element doesn't really carry over in translation. Towards the back of the crowd a little circle of logoed (System of a Down, Korn, NiN) alterna-kids stood around and tried to look uninterested. One girl danced and sang along. You could tell everyone knew the words.

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some thoughts from today i want to assimilate or resolve

  • Everything is in some sense about balance. This is not to say that balance is itself the ideal or inevitable state. I am only suggesting that it is important to understand in any situation.
  • Balance is not a principle which operates along a single axis.
  • It wouldn't be hard to believe that radical ideas and actions are inevitably destructive, and that (including radically excessive "conservatism") their costs are simply too high, such that a responsible person will always choose the most moderate path available. The problem with this is that goals like giving women the vote and abolishing slavery were good ideas a long time before they stopped being radical. In some places, they're still radical ideas. Everything is about balance, but that doesn't make stasis desirable.
  • Why is realism so consistently associated with compromised bastardy, Machiavellian scheming (in the pejorative sense), and the utterly sold out?
  • Shouldn't we cultivate a clear-eyed understanding of the world, particularly if we want to exercise authority or influence those who do?
  • What does the creative or constructive act have to do with politics, anyway?
  • Why the hell do we ever abdicate responsibility to a thing as dangerous as a government or a political party?