Gods, Jackboots: Coda

I’m holding off — for the moment — on commenting about last week’s inaugural SFContario, which had much to commend it but which also contained one big gnarly injustice that might just overshadow all those good elements.  Not entirely comfortable with the fact that the concomm is stonestalling1 on even addressing that issue, for reasons which I find unconvincing.  Still pondering.

I wouldn’t have time for a lengthy analysis anyway, since I’m about to leave town to try and convince an aged and infirm relative that he might get a kick out of “Eraserhead” even though “The Sound of Music” was too dark for his tastes.  So instead, a brief corroborative follow-up to one of the central points of my talk at the SpecFic Colloquium a couple of weeks back (if you didn’t see it, and don’t want to go check the archives for the relevant ‘crawl posting:  the thumbnail is that human brains are more likely to see patterns in random noise when stressed.  Which explains both why religious belief correlates so strongly with shitty living conditions, and why inner happiness correlates with religious belief.  Hence why inner happiness correlates with shitty living conditions).  The headline in today’s New York Times says it all:

Suffering, Haitians Turn to Charismatic Prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow invaders.


1Yes, I made that up.  We authors get to do that.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday November 25 2010at 07:11 am , filed under ass-hamsters . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

20 Responses to “Gods, Jackboots: Coda”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Peter and one and all!

    I’m in the bosom of my family, shining silverware for the traditional turkey eating, and I feel topped off with love of mankind. I love you all! All of humanity! All you Crawl skeptics!

    Soon the traditional players will assemble in one house to get on each other’s nerves in the traditional fashion, then my joyous bubble of agape will shrink a little bit? Hee. Alles in ordnung, according to tradition, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving 2010, y’all.

  2. Oh, dear. Injustice. Well, crap.

    As for your blanket assertion that authors get to make words up, well, I refudiate it.

  3. Well, I guess cholera in crowded tent camps tends to enable shitty living conditions.

    Oh those poo Haitians! Whatever sin must they have committed for these horrible things to occur one after another? Voodoc, Papadoc, Babydoc, Quake, Scientology, pestilence and now even really stinkin’ bad puns? The whole damn alphabet.

    Maybe it’s time to donate again to Medecins sans Frontieres… but no prayers, I swear to god!

  4. I think Bronislaw Malinowski saw that one coming in the early twencen when he noted that the Trobriand Islanders were agnostic to a man when tending their gardens, but turned into simpering sky-daddy watchers when they faced the stress of a journey on the open sea.

    On an aside: We don’t do Thanksgiving here in East Atlantis (though happy to wish anyone who does a good one). All the same, what if you’ve had a really shitty year and aren’t, y’know, particularly thankful? Just wonderin’…

  5. so I hear this game warhead is gonna be a real treat… care to comment?

  6. I wonder what explains those who have good living conditions yet possess inner shittiness…especially those proclaiming their religious beliefs.

  7. Flanders said: “As for your blanket assertion that authors get to make words up, well, I refudiate it.”

    Hmm, hopefully no one will misunderestimate the truthiness of it all and get all wee-wee’d up.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving, and wishes of best luck in regards to…whatever that issue is 🙂

  9. *Snicker* fellow invaders… perpetuating the myth that the settlement of North America was so nice and collaborative…loves it….

  10. Sorry — meant the whole happy Thanksgiving thing, not you. You speak the truth, which is why I read you.

  11. Dunno about Eraserhead. I mean, I liked it when I watched it 27 years ago but I just read a thread on another site (discussing bad date movies) where a woman recalled falling asleep during it. So it may bore rather than disturb.

  12. And don’t get me started on “The Sound of Music.” That’s some dark stuff, right there.

  13. RedIndianGirl: I didn’t even think of Pilgrims-n-Indians until you all mentioned it; as in many holidays, Thanksgiving is about gathering family for feasting and communing, and not really whatever the official celebration purports to be about. But since you have put me in mind of it, I’ll say this.

    Life is struggle, balance, and the rise and fall of the 10,000 things, so it’s bittersweet to stop for a moment and remember invaders and natives sitting down for one afternoon of stillness and civility, balanced on the edge, before history dumped them down the slippery slope to atrocity, murder and mayhem.

    Mindfully celebrating a minute, hour or day of joy in the company of your fellow man is always appropriate.

  14. I skip Thanksgiving, or as I think of it, “Pretend-There-Was-No Genocide Day”.
    This year I went to Montréal instead (during American Thanksgiving; Canadian Thanksgiving, which is Anglophone anyway, is not yet my problem).

    Going to Montréal definitely beats fasting or trying to explain to in-laws or parents who don’t listen even if they’re lovely and mostly very clueful people why just reinventing the holiday to be about family isn’t acceptable.

  15. Val! Most holidays graviate toward being about family and eating. That stuff has a big gravity well. (Except New Year’s in the U.S., maybe, being about using booze & sex in the battle against alienation and the knowledge of ones own mortality? And in Texas, about shooting handguns into the air.)

    I appreciate your solidarity with Native Americans; it’s a worthy and beautiful sentiment. I applaud it. Otoh, this kind of ritual stuff, and winter holiday feasting is major ritual stuff, is reiteration of something way older than Europeans and Native Americans slaughtering each other for control of a continent.

    Not to dismiss the meaning of genocide in any way, mind you, but holidays are not immutable ideas set in stone – they drift in terms of meaning and importance over time and sets of celebrants. They exist because we agree to celebrate them as a society, not just as an expression of an underlying Platonic ideal of Thanksgivingness or Easterness. They are fluid. Easter used to be more important than Christmas here, but the human beings who carried out the rituals let the meaning flow with the times. Even better example – google “Dawali” and see how broad the meaning is across geography and religion. There isn’t even concensus as to what Gods it commemorates, and people were celebrating it all over the planet this month. With feasting, I might add.

    If you commemorate Thanksgiving as as a sober fast for Indian Genocide Day, that is a thoughtful and politically aware thing to do, but I can’t imagine most people are celebrating that when they tucked into the turkey and gravy. I know I wasn’t. fwiw.

  16. This year I played hookie and stayed at home. One of my friends came over and we cooked a meal together. Family is in Texas[1] and California. Mr Partner-in-crime is in Australia at the moment.

    [1] re shooting guns in the air. also, sad to say, flare guns. and once when one was a dud, the guys decided to toss it in our bon fire. that wasn’t very exciting. so they also tossed some ammunition. Partner and I went to hang out with little brother and his friends, who wanted to play with one of the flares (really old ones, left over from our grandfather’s boat) and we shot one up. Mr Partner then had second thoughts[2] worrying about catching a house on fire. no house caught on fire.

    [2] this happened once with an ice cannon, which he has not had a chance to demonstrate to me. He worked out a really awesome potato gun, which was boring until he realized that you could freeze water in a pvc pipe that fit snug with the potato gun pipe. went out in his backyard and shot it up. it went way way high and he realized he had not pointed it directly up and that it was heading over to a neighbor’s yard. fortunately it only crashed on to the driveway. I think it would be fun to go to a prairie to demonstrate to me, but he pumps it up with a huge air compressor and the prairie does not have electrical outlets. I don’t know how long the air pressure will last in that thing. so, speaking of ice, last winter he made ice bacon by cutting a hole in some metal pipes and filling them with water. Ice is pretty awesome[3], and we were trying to see what we could have it do with pipes. We didn’t get any broken pipes, maybe we used some that were too short.

    [3] forget flying or invisibility I think I really would like to have ice power.

  17. Do right, citizen, or I WILL FREEZE ALL THE PIPES IN YOUR HOUSE!!!

  18. The Mythbusters so approve of the ice bacon, people.

  19. We celebrate Thanksgiving in our house by being thankful for the success of the fall hunt, the bounty of the summer garden, the gifts from the local rivers nestled oh so carefully in our freezers, and the company of the wonderful people that we love so dearly. I honestly hope that all of you creepers out there had a wonderful holiday, however one decided to celebrate it (or not!)

  20. Any hope of hearing about the big, gnarly injustice? That sounds like just the kind of con-gossip I thrive on.