Happy 2013!!!

Happy New Year, my dear, lovely, intelligent readers! May this year bring you joy, love, happiness, fun, and everything you would like to have.

The Fiscal Cliff Drama

I’m starting to suspect that we are being held in all this suspense about the fiscal cliff on purpose. Every news channel has been spinning an apocalyptic narrative about the supposed (and in my opinion completely imaginary) horror of the fiscal cliff. And now I’m hearing on the CNN about a 3-month delay of the sequester. All of this just has to be tied to the end of the year because that makes the end of the world narrative easier to sell.

By the time we get out of this particular drama, thee will be the suspense of the Congress elections. And so the drama will continue with no respite.

What is your best guess as to the purpose behind the completely fabricated fiscal cliff drama?

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

This is the last link encyclopedia of 2012. Enjoy!

I’m reminded of that when I hear natural childbirth advocates crowing about their “achievement” and insisting that everyone in the world is either impressed with them or incredulous and dismissive about their choice. They are so desperate for attention, positive or negative, and so relentlessly self-referential, that they cannot see what is right in front of their faces: no one cares whether anyone else had an unmedicated birth.” Leaving aside the issues of unmedicated birth, I wanted to draw everybody’s attention to the underlined words because they contain an important insight. People obsess so much over what others would think of them and forget that most folks pay very little attention to anybody but themselves. So if you feel that everybody is watching you and criticizing you, that’s all your own projection.”

The tragic and unhealthy reality of ultra-religious, traditional families.

A botanist discusses the really green way to have a Christmas tree.

Dozens of progressive Egyptian women cut their hair in Tahrir Square on Tuesday to protest the passage of Egypt’s new, fundamentalist constitution.” Any women’s rights movement only gets a hope of being successful where it stops using self-mutilation – even the symbolic kind – to achieve its goals.

Idle No More” and what it means for Canada. Fascinating post, folks, I highly recommend.

And here is another great post on Idle No More.

Do people get discriminated during job searches because of names that sound foreign?

““One of the party’s biggest challenges going forward is the perception that Republicans don’t care about people, about minorities, about gays, about poor people,” Fleischer said. “President Bush regularly made a push to send welcoming messages, and one of the lessons of 2012 is that we have to demonstrate that we are an inclusive party.”” Welcoming messages?? Does anybody know why this obviously unhealthy Fleischer individual is not receiving urgent psychiatric care right now?

Feminism is not and must not be simply a women’s movement. Instead, it’s a movement dedicated to destroying patriarchy, including both the aspects that benefit men and the aspects that benefit women. And so this afternoon, as I shoveled a driveway alongside my husband’s relatives, I saw the work as just one more step toward truly dismantling patriarchy in all of its forms.” I love this blogger but she makes the mistake of believing that everybody suffers when their right to make decisions for themselves is taken away. Tragically, that’s nothing but a projection. Many people go to enormous lengths to achieve what to her (and me, of course) looks like suffering.

Why agricultural subsidies should go.

Why a job recruiter finds extreme weather conditions to be very helpful in her work.

A very good post: “Objectification means treating people like things. Self-objectification, therefore, means treating yourself like a thing. The first example I can think of is actually not sexual, which makes me happy, because I am the one-person Objectification Means More Than Sexual Objectification brigade. I think everyone’s had a time when they feel like they ought to work on this project– whether it’s keeping the house clean, writing a book, working on their thesis, or whatever– but they can’t. Maybe their mom just died. Maybe they have Spoons Issues. Maybe they’re stressed about an upcoming layoff at work. It happens. And yet I always get pissed at myself when this happens. I’m supposed to be a robot, dammit! I’m supposed to produce results regardless of any silly ‘things’ that are happening in my ‘life.’ So I end up on Tumblr for six hours straight being angry at myself for not working instead of doing the self-care things that will actually put me in a better state to work.”

A beautiful icy flower.

It seems to me that so long as one is running away from what one actually feels, which is the ‘masculinist’ answer to the question of cultural narcissism, one is still doing nothing for oneself in any way that matters. You will still end up with a hollow core, despite all your busy activity in a realm of reality that necessitates a purely instrumental consciousness. Your narcissistic core remains because you haven’t attended to your true self, but have run away from it into being busy and occupying yourself with activity. In particular, your hatred for the humanities and for what they represent to you — “feeling” — will make you hollow.”

And the post of the week: “Those who don’t know themselves easily get roped in to conform to others’ definitions of them.   That’s because their egos are needy; hungry.  Some people even rope themselves in by reading themselves into texts that do not address them personally and are hence not directly related to them.  The desire to see oneself reflected in the mirror of the ‘other’ can be very strong. But, whilst it seems to offer some benefits to one’s ego, placing one’s ego in relationship to another also makes one at the mercy of their appetites and desires.”

How to Make a Good List of New Year’s Resolutions, Part III

Among the really idiotic New Year’s resolutions are things like “Quit smoking / drinking / over-eating / lose weight / eat healthy / drink less coffee / play less video games.” Of course, these are all good goals but do you really believe that you will achieve them by barking commands at yourself?

People don’t smoke / drink / over-eat / eat junk / gulp down insane amounts of coffee / spend 20 hours straight playing video games because they forgot to make a New Year’s resolution about it. You realize that, right? They do all these things because these are their coping strategies. The more you stress yourself out, the higher your need of all these coping strategies will be. By putting these things on your list of resolutions you effectively guarantee that you will do more of them, not less.

Don’t let your list of New Year’s resolutions reflect your dislike of yourself. Stop creating a yearly manifesto of self-hatred already. If you can’t love and take good care of yourself, who will?

Make a list of all the things that are completely and utterly useless but that give you intense pleasure and make a list of New Year’s resolutions aimed at making these things a regular part of your life.

Happy New Year, my friend!

P.S. Here is an example of somebody going about creating the list of resolutions in a really healthy, happy, productive way. I can guarantee to you that after this blogger reaches his goal, he will discover that it will come in very useful in a variety of ways he never even planned for. This is what always happens when you dedicate yourself to having fun.

P.P.S. Here is another phenomenal list that includes sleeping, facials, eye-lash tints, dream vacations, reading for fun, and other great things.

1,000,000 Hits!!!

If you never were a kid who spends every break staring out of the window because nobody would play with you. . .

If you never were a kid who avoids going to the cafeteria because it’s better to skip lunch than to let everybody see that you have nobody to sit with. . .

If you never were a kid who is always left out when other kids choose teams and who has to be foisted on one of the teams by a teacher. . .

If you didn’t spend your childhood to the accompaniment of “Why are you sitting here all alone? Can’t you find anybody to play with?”

. . . you will not understand my joy over having

1,000,000 HITS

on the blog.

Of course, these are just the hits we got on this platform. That is, since May 2011. Altogether there are 1,310,000 hits. This means that I’m finally popular. You have to agree that 1 million in just a year and a half is very good.

Thank you, my dear readers, who have made this possible!!!

How to Make a Good List of New Year’s Resolutions, Part II

When people create all those self-punishing lists of resolutions that sound like a list of prison rules, their ultimate goal is to improve the quality of their lives and become happier. My suggestion is that we take a short-cut and aim directly for happiness without all this self-inflicted torture.

People seem to believe that in order to be successful in life and achieve their professional, intellectual, personal, financial, etc. goals, they need to force themselves to suffer and limit enjoyment to the bare minimum. Such people are making a tragic mistake.

Of all the people I know, I’m the person who is most capable of guilt-free enjoyment of life. Not a day goes by without me organizing some sort of a relaxing, enjoyable, pleasant activity for myself. Many years ago, I decided (after observing the lives of perennially miserable, overworked, overscheduled, exhausted Soviet women) that my life would be about doing exactly what I want to do and not doing what I don’t want to do at any given time.

For years, I have been hearing that my philosophy of life as a constant process of enjoyment will make me a failure. However, precisely because of this philosophy I have achieved a lot more than every single advocate of endless self-torture than I know. At the age of 36, I live the kind of live I dreamed about living ten, fifteen, twenty years ago down to the minutest detail. The only thing that I’m not completely happy about is the climate of the area where I live, but you have to agree that as existential grievances go, this one is pretty minor.

Contrary to popular opinion, spending a lot of time on “useless” highly enjoyable activities makes you more, rather than less, productive and efficient. This is why putting something like “snoozing on the couch to the sound of relaxing music at least three times a week” is a good New Year’s resolution.

[To be continued. . .]

How to Make a Good List of New Year’s Resolutions, Part I

The reason why most people never complete anything on their list of New Year’s resolutions is that they go about creating it in the wrong way.

Please look at your own list of resolutions and underline with a red-ink pen every resolution that will involve forcing yourself to do something unpleasant. Now use a blue-ink pen to underline every resolution that will involve doing something highly enjoyable. If most of the items on your list are underlined with red ink, your list is crap and you are wasting your time creating it.

People mistakenly believe that a good life is the kind of life where you cause pain and suffering to yourself. Every January 1 they plan to start leading a much better, worthier existence. For them, that invariably entails doing even more things that they dislike doing and removing the last few enjoyments from their lives. This is patently ridiculous. Life is supposed to be happy, joyous, blissful and full of profound pleasure.

Ask yourself how many times a day you have experienced an acute feeling of happiness in the past year. If your answer is, “How many times a day? You, silly Clarissa. I maybe experienced it once a month, if that”, then you need to start changing this sorry state of affairs right now. Let your list of New Year’s resolutions be about making your life happier instead of forcing yourself to do even more stuff that you detest. Just think about it. Wouldn’t it be a really enormous achievement if you manage to make yourself significantly happier next year?

[To be continued. . .]

Creepy GPS

Early this morning we set out towards the St. Louis airport. I entered the airport’s name in the GPS but the GPS glitched. It has been acting weirdly since we left it in the scorching heat overnight last summer.

What was really creepy, though, was the manner in which the GPS glitched. Instead of showing us how to get to St. Louis, it showed us how to go to Quebec, Canada.

Now, please tell me: how on Earth did the GPS know we were traveling to Quebec today? We never used it to go to Canada and never drove to Canada before or since we got the GPS. So it isn’t like it has Quebec on the list of favorites. We didn’t even discuss Quebec around the GPS, as far as I can remember.

Is this creepy or what?

If anybody has an explanation, please share it.

Modernism III

In her brilliant essay A Room of One’s Own, one of the greatest modernist writers Virginia Woolf says that she prefers Jane Austen’s novels to those of Charlotte Brontë. Woolf, a passionate feminist, rejects Brontë’s feminism in favor of Austen’s ultra-patriarchal writings because Brontë’s novels scare Woolf with their passion, their engagement, their rage. Woolf, who wrote angry, powerful essays, chose to create the kind of novels that are very sophisticated and beautifully crafted in terms of their form but completely insipid* in terms of their content.

And this is precisely why I don’t enjoy modernist art all that much. I recognize its importance and read about it obsessively. Many modernist artists themselves, however, bore me. Their art strikes me with how well it is done technically. Every work of theirs is like a country that can be explored in perpetuity. You can read even a short story or a small poem a hundred times and still discover something new every time you approach it. However, in terms of ideas, passion, political engagement – all of the things I really value both in life and in art, that is – there is nothing. As much as I admire form, I still need content, and modernist writers often fail to provide me with the kind of content I can enjoy.

Not all modernists are like that, of course. Alongside the insipid Woolf, Joyce, Valle Inclán, Akhmatova, Borges, D.H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller** there are writers like Kafka, Faulkner, Tsvetaeva, who don’t abandon passion and give up on content in order to produce beautiful form. To give just one example, Marina Tsvetaeva once removed two incredibly beautiful verses from a poem after she discovered that the flower she mentioned in them did not grow in the area described in the poem. The poet had spent weeks crafting those verses but then destroyed them because beauty was not more important than reality to her.

The advent of modernism did not completely cancel out realist art, however. The US literature, for instance produced a middling modernism and a weak, boring post-modernism***. At the same time, it created phenomenal works of realism / naturalism long after nobody in Europe knew how to do it. Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck are amazing and deserve to be read as much as the great XIXth-century realists.

* Yes, in my opinion, who else’s? I have read every single one of Woolf’s novels and, for all their sophistication, all they made me feel was boredom.

** Yes, I know you are appalled by this list because it contains your favorite writer. This beautiful range of emotions you are experiencing right now is what these writers fail to make me feel, and that is precisely why I dislike them.

*** Breathe in very deep and don’t get too agitated. Everybody is entitled to their vision, and you can always share your own in the comments.