Wednesday, March 14, 2007

... and seeing that I'm going to launch into this rant,

I at least want y'all fair readers to know why I'm doing it.

I went this past weekend to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains. There are big redwoods there. I could construct a big tree-like structure indicating dependencies of reasons that I went, but that would neither be brief nor linear enough for blogging. And that wouldn't even get me all the way to one of the reasons for the rant I'm about to do. You see, everything is extremely complicated (every time I try to think about ideas I'm bowled over by tangents, trying to find my place in an inorder traversal of the knowledge that I'm drawing on, and my mind does not do a good job of stack management), to the extent that I cannot understand how people ever take action, knowing that their action could potentially generate a flurry of knowledge, and that trying to gather that flurry into something just simple enough to be meaningful is likely to break my brain! How could they be so thoughtless!?! So I went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park because Heather stopped by and crashed at my apartment with her roommate Leah during their vacation in northern California, and we were thinking about going to Yosemite but we realized that it would be full of snow, and I knew from the bay area cycling guide that Aunt Nancy sent me from when she lived in the bay area that Big Basin Park had big redwoods and this fact was corroborated by Heather's Stanford Law student friend whose name I don't remember, who strongly recommended the park. And now we go from selected excerpts from the roots to this one point on the tree to park of the branch that goes from it. Still later will come the real point of this post. Patience. To lift an idea from the Magnetic Fields, the book of life is long and boring. We liked the park so much that we went back the next day, armed with the camping equipment they'd brought, and also Leah got in touch with some friends she'd met in Portland who were vacationing together in California and the six of us camped in the park that night.

Specifically Leah and her friends that met in Portland met doing Political Stuff and were all fairly involved and interested in progressive/liberal (in the US sense of the word... omg foreshadowing) politics. That then became conversation fodder as we drank delicious locally-brewed beer around the campfire (and there are a few really awesome campfire and beer related stories that I'm simply not going to tell here because they're off-topic, I'm just going to leave that out there as a tease). And I went off for a while on how I didn't like the word "progressive". And I guess this is the thing, because I can't articulate what I mean until having about 2 days to think about it: I have to be progressive, because the future is great (alternately: the past totally sucked and we haven't really fixed it yet), regressive because there were some great things in the past (alternately: we've fucked up and thrown away everything we had, and aren't likely to get it back any time soon) and preservationist because the present is great (alternately: it took us a long time to dig out of all that shit from the past, and the future's going to be an even bigger pile of slightly-different-but-functionally-equivalent shit at the current rate).

Really, now. Progress is something that happens. In our particular region of spacetime this correlates with entropy rising. More locally than that it means death and taxes; somewhere near taxes on the scale of inevitability/localness lies the increase of Earth's human population. Solidly between death and taxes lie inequality, poverty and strife. Also joy, just for balance. Way more on the local/uninevitable end than taxes fall most political issues. They are walls, you push on them and then you bounce off and fall over, but you've maybe moved the wall a little bit. And some of the really local ones seem to have not so much walls as waves of humans crashing together like a giant Rugby scrum trying to move the status quo in the n-dimensional space they live in.

So, The Times, They Are a Changin' is awfully progressive. Get out of the way of these shifting walls, get behind 'em, push 'em harder, cries Dylan-but-in-Al's-words (really Dylan sounded much better with his own, but this is Al's blog and he rules it with an iron fist in an iron glove that is responsible for lots of clumsy typing)! But someone that was totally progressive would get behind the push of civil rights as it was at its excited peak speed in Dylan's time, get behind the currently accelerating push for gay marriage, and get behind the global warming struggle: you know, global warming is about to run away, let's all consume just a little more and see if we can't get Sacramento some coastline, with a nice harbor for launching day cruises to the Island of Former Mt. Hamilton, or expeditions from the Isle to dig up old caches of pirate microchips in the underwater cities from San José up to Palo Alto. No, people decide whether the change is good and then do what they can to make the change they want. And once you choose some progress and not other progress, you have got to be something other than progressive. Saying one change is progress more than another is just opinion and rhetoric. When people tell me I'm regressive because I'd really prefer that people made the decision to live in tighter communities, closer to their neighbors and jobs, rather than making longer commutes in cleaner cars, I guess I'll just give them that, because it doesn't matter. For the record, I'll push for simplicity when I can, whether that gets called progressive, regressive or stubborn.


Danielle said...

Nothing like reading a good rant to start one's morning!

Did you read Jessica's e-mail about RAGBRAI? I am going to do the Humboldt to Hampton leg I think - still not sure of my summer plans, but I figure if I am out $25 it is no big deal...

heatrose said...

1. death and taxes! is also the name of a quality stout brewed somewhere in the bay area, i think in san francisco.

2. the best i can come right now to addressing the actual points of yr post is by recalling a conversation i had with John in the ocean, which went something like this:
john: so who are these people you're with?
me: leah is my flatmate, al is my computer programmy friend, and we're also hanging out with a bunch of leah's political friends she met over the summer-- they're liberal-democrat folks.
john: oh, so like you, then!
me: no... i'm Angsty.

and then john smiled an awesome smile.

Al Dimond said...

Danielle: RAGBRAI is only $25? I had kind of given up on it because of the certainty that no matter what kind of job I wind up with that I'll have a hard time getting time off work. Now I am not so sure. I will look more and email you and Jessica. And I'll definitely email you because replies to blog posts are not an efficient or reliable way to communicate.

heatrose: dude, if there was an Angsty ticket in '08 they would get my vote in all four of the counties that I may be registered to vote in at that point. Too many political candidates from all across the so-called spectrum have been setting back the cause of Angst (be as they may causes of angst themselves) for too many years.