If a writer has writers’ block, then a blogger will suffer from Blogger Clog, and that’s certainly the case here. There are numerous reasons for my infrequent posting, perhaps most importantly this goddamn illness, which, while little more than a cold, has been hanging around for weeks. Hard to be prolific when one side of my head feels heavier than the other. On top of that is a much busier than usual week at work which has drained me of much energy, and oh God this election this fucking election it’s driving my brain crazy with the excessive checking of the politiblogs, so much so that, even though I’ve been enjoying his updates, if Andrew Sullivan writes “know hope” one more time I’ll either turn violent or cry or cry violently. It’s the classic split between his faith and my atheism; he can know hope all he likes, but I’ll not relax until Obama’s inauguration. People who know me will be very familiar with my fatalistic tendencies. ::takes break from hard minute’s blogging to check fivethirtyeight.com::
Another reason, which is probably the main one if I was willing to sit and poke at my ossified brain in order to find out, is my attempt to finish reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Though I’m wary of saying anything about it for fear of angering her many many fans/followers/cultists, I have to say it is about to defeat me. No, Randian visitors, her worldview has not dominated mine, as if it had been dismantled and bested by a philosophy of vast strength and power, like the machines that conquer and crush the rocks and mountains of the earth. I’m just, well, really really really fucking bored by now. Her insanely florid prose might have amused me before, but by now, after being shouted at in a self-pitying and mean-spirited tone for 700 pages, I might not be able to make it. But I must! For am I not a human being? Is not my mind the Alpha and Omega, the force that can harness nature and bend it to my will, able to withstand this mighty onslaught, bearing the winds and rains of her ideas and rising, triumphant, like a Titan, like the owner of himself and his destiny, masterful and immortal? Fuck you, book! You shall never defeat me!
However, I do just want to get it over and done with by now, if only because I need a break from it. I’m glad I’m reading it, especially at a time like this, when one presidential candidate is bellowing “Socialist!” and running from person to person like Kevin McCarthy in the first two versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the world’s most powerful Objectivist, Alan Greenspan, is talking about how there is a flaw in the world that makes his free market ideals untenable (I’m totally paraphrasing; please don’t correct me, people). Before reading Atlas Shrugged I would have thought his comment rather cheeky, blaming people for the market disaster and not The Market itself, but now I see his point (though I don’t necessarily agree with it). If I’m reading Atlas Shrugged right (again, don’t comment, I don’t need clarification just yet), the Objectivist creed would work just fine as long as everyone was “moral” by Rand’s code, but after many many years Greenspan has apparently discovered that people (i.e. traders and bankers and economists and anyone who deals with money anywhere in the world ever) won’t abide by that code of behaviour, and will in fact take as many short cuts as possible to fill their pockets with as much Fat Bank as they can. I see where he’s coming from. I think he’s a bit tapped to be suddenly saying, “Oh, it’s humanity’s fault for this and not mine for coming up with a system of economics that doesn’t take into account actual human behaviour as it really actually exists for reals, but instead bases its assumptions about what people are like on the idealised ramblings of a writer from the 50s who had a weird thing for dominatory industrialists and smokestacks and trains going into tunnels and which therefore cannot possibly work,” but I do see where he’s coming from. Thanks for the recession, jerkwad.
So yeah, it’s been interesting to listen to Republican and conservative thought with a new, deeper understanding of where it’s coming from, and to finally comprehend why followers of that creed hate taxation as much as they do even though I think they’re wrong, and so I do owe a debt of thanks to Ayn Rand for giving me such a long-winded peek into that mindset. Sadly, my brain is dying from the melodrama and the hate and the victimhood, and I just want to get it over with so I can move onto something fun (I got John Hodgman’s new book two days ago and it’s begging to be read). Until then, time I would devote to blogging is being taken up with enduring the endless Rand-ting, so it’s like another blog slowdown, and one I really don’t want to endure but will because I’m stubborn like that and hate leaving books unfinished (especially when I’m 700 pages in). I will get back to the planned post about Mad Men, and some Face/Offs I’ve been looking forward to as soon as I can, but for now, I must complete this mammoth task.
In the meantime, here is the other thing that has totally possessed my mind over the last week, but luckily it’s a thing that is making the brain very very happy. Marnie Stern, super-genius guitarist, has just appeared on my Radar of Unbelievable Awesomeness with her new album This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That (which is a phrase attributed to Zen philosopher Alan Watts, according to AV Club). It is absolutely incredible, easily on my 2008 best list along with Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State and The Family Afloat by Bound Stems and several other lovely works. Stern’s guitar playing is unlike anything I’ve heard before, and strumming along to it would be the most insane Rock Band challenge ever (especially as Zach Hill’s drumming is almost as complex and frenetic). This is her new single, Transformer, and it should be number one across the planet.
Even better is her song Ruler, which you can find on her MySpace page. Thank you for keeping the book cooties from smothering my brain, Marnie Stern.