Sweet Lovely Death

Content Warning:  Suicide.  Death stuff.  But I end on a positive note, I swear.

“Sweet lovely Death, I’m just waiting for your breath.  Come sweet Death, one last caress.”  That’s Glenn Danzig lyrics in the Misfits song “Last Caress” – at least, it’s every lyric that isn’t an admission to terrible crimes committed in pursuit of a violent end.  I’m no music expert, but there’s something exultant in the sound, the way it’s sung, that just makes me want to sing.  Is it in a major chord, contrasting with the descending punk rock ghost vocal style?  Some scholar could easily explain it, I’m sure.

But besides the music, there’s the message.  Singing of death as a thing of desire, like the central theme of Grave Pleasures / Beastmilk‘s oeuvre.  “Death is beautiful, death is the meaning of life.”  What do I find appealing in this?  I suspect it’s the blasphemy.

Blasphemy is one of my earliest passions.  Christianity got my motherfucken goat at a very young age, and as soon as I discovered hollywood-flavored satanisms at a later age (early double digits, and think it was the Tom Hanks Dragnet movie), I fell in love with it.  To insult god and jesus, this is my highest sacrament.  See that?  I just heresied in my blasphemy.  Fantastic.

The appeal there is complex and multi-layered.  There’s iconoclasm – the joy of hating on something other people love, which is the primary appeal of Neil Cicieraga hits like Baby.  There’s taboo – violating boundaries that others have set as “sacred.”  But those are all negative and I don’t think my joy in blasphemy comes from a purely negative place.  There’s something positive in staking out a place for godlessness in the oppressive atmosphere created by ameriKKKan xtianity.  Blasphemy is absolutely as important to me as prayer is to jeezis people.  I need it.

Back to the thesis, blasphemy is to xtianity as death is to life.  There’s an obvious difference between jeezyism and life itself.  One has intrinsic value and desirability, the other is an abject waste.  So why would it feel pleasing to blaspheme against something that is actually good?  Life has its downsides and they are pretty egregious.  Danzig has another song from his solo career called “When I’m Tired of Being Alive.”  That’s a thing that can happen.  Everybody who is born will experience pain, suffering, disability, and a bitter end.  Better to have never been born in the first place, for many of us.

But antinatalism – the rejection of procreation – can rouse jumped-up fearful reactions, even from otherwise reasonable people.  It’s an ethically perfect proposition – create no humans, create no human suffering – but logic flies out the window when people are confronted with it.  For the record, I don’t agree with antinatalism, because I don’t think logic should dictate everything we do, and I have a fanciful dream of the human species living and loving its way into some kind of golden future (after the millennia of unimaginable horror capitalism has guaranteed to us).  But I can’t argue against its logic, and I understand that its most heartfelt proponents are people who have experienced far worse things than I have in life.

People have a similar reaction when somebody commits suicide.  The rejection of the gift of life is personally terrifying.  Some react with anger.  I think that was part of my own process when Kurt Cobain did himself in.  I was young.  Suicide is sad, but to take it as a personal offense, or some kind of harrowing existential experience for yourself as a bystander?  It’s irrational nonsense.  It’s letting the fear of death make a fool of you.

Unlike crustyannity, life has great self-evident value, to the point one could argue it is truly sacred.  When something is sacred, part of me just wants to thumb my nose at it.  I’m not suicidal.  I love being alive.  But in a moment of embarrassment or humiliation, you may catch me saying “kill me fam” or similar things.  In times of prolonged stress and difficulty, I may long for some kind of annihilation of the self, perhaps through drugs, or just getting knocked into a coma.  But those are passing fancies, nothing in the face of my lust for life.  Still, there’s something in it.  A grain of a death urge.

There is a black hole at the center of the galaxy.  There is a spinning cosmic abyss promising the end of everything, dragging us with invisible arms thousands of light years long.  Step inside, lose all thought and all pain.  It is inarguably cool, like a skeleton on a motorcycle with a sword in its teeth.  Die.  It’s fun and easy.

When you see people defending morbid interests, like true crime buffs, they sometimes invoke another idea – that looking upon death unvarnished can give you a greater appreciation for life.  Maybe it’s something like that.  Howling at the moon.  I don’t know, but it does feel good.

At least until I’m looking at the real thing.  I’m not one of those murderpedia/faces of death -type motherfuckers, or even a true crime bitch, because this shit only works at the level of the aesthetic.  I’m an enemy of death in any way I can be, at the end of the day.  It’s rather impertinent of me – death will ultimately take away everything that ever bothered me about life, and I should be more grateful.  But I’m not.

I’ve been watching that Superman & Lois Lane TV show, and this season is about Lois Lane having cancer.  Perhaps because I’m watching it in the middle of the night when my emotional defenses are worn down, I have gotten close to tears a few times.  Why?  Last year I had stage one colon cancer.  Picked up several new abdominal scars, but never had to do chemo.  Just had the followup colonoscopy and no new polyps.  Fantastic.  But I got to look at that motorcycle skeleton, and the real thing was not so fun.

Like Michael Hutchence said in New Sensation, “there’s nothing better we can do, than live forever.”  Live forever, kids.  And in the meantime, if you wanna howl in a graveyard at midnight from time to time, I won’t tell.

Affirmative Action

Ah, affirmative action.  I’d forgotten about it.  It just doesn’t come up much in my life.  There are some institutions private and public with policies of inclusion that set a minimum amount of hiring or selection of women or people of color, or other traditionally oppressed or marginalized peoples.  It’s a classique bogeyman of racists, to the extent you can hear it called “affirmative blaction” (get it?) by the wrong uncles.

Anyway, somebody remembered it exists and acquired a raft of assholes to sign on a statement against it, posing as an academic paper.  The beef, as usual, is that there may be talented cishetwhitebros who are being excluded from these institutions and privileges because a lower-scoring person who met certain demographic requirements was forced into place by critical race theory jewish social marxists or whatever they’re called.

It’s hardly worth arguing about, but it occurred to me, in looking at this trash fire, that I would rather have a person with a significant cognitive impairment in charge of a scientific endeavor than any of the people who signed to that paper – if the cognitively impaired person was capable of honest inquiry, of accounting for their own biases in their work.  Why is that such a rare quality in this world?  At least among those privileged to be holding the bullhorn.

Very tiring.  I take a nap now.

Phantom Birding

Heard about the possible ivory-billed woodpecker trailcam footage?  It’s the best hope anyone’s had in a long time of showing the extinct bird to have some kind of continued existence.  Or is it?  My money’s on fuck no, rufk?  This bird is the USA’s thylacine – a thing of dreams whose sad reality is well understood by the knowledgeable.

But there are ways of confirming this, besides repeated sightings or capturing a specimen.  Ivory-billed are not very closely related to pileated woodpeckers, despite appearances.  They are likely another case of the recently documented phenomenon of look-alike woodpeckers around the world.  And without a close relative in the neighborhood, some kind of trace environmental DNA (eDNA) could be a smoking gun.

In my own neck of the world, I am not interested in hunting ghosts, but I am discovering the magic of invisible birdies.  There’s a birding app that identifies bird calls.  Just recently started using it, and discovered there at least several species living in my neighborhood that I’ve never seen, or only glimpsed long ago.  If I practiced my ear enough, I could experience them all the time – at least as long as they’re singing.

So if you live in my suburb, about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, you would see crows, seagulls, pigeons, starlings, and dark-eyed juncos every day.  Very often you’ll see chickadees, robins, mallards, and canada geese – which may include cackling geese, I’m ill-practiced at telling the difference.  Less often you’ll see great blue-herons, coots, steller’s jays, white-crowned sparrows, spotted towhees, northern flickers, red-breasted nuthatches, bushtits, red-winged blackbirds, red-tailed hawks, house finches (&/or purple finches, I can’t tell the diff), or – downtown – house sparrows.  Less often still, goldfinches, about four species of woodpecker, a few types of swallows and swifts, cedar waxwings, killdeer, and a few species of owls, bald eagles, ospreys, and cormorants.  I have very rarely seen a western tanager or belted kingfisher.

But apparently golden-crowned kinglets are still doing well for themselves.  The app got their number.  I haven’t seen one in several years, but there are little flocks hiding in the trees.  A type of tree-trunk-crawling weirdo called the brown creeper is also getting along very well, in areas of thicker forest.  Bewick’s wrens are everywhere, marsh wrens in any given stretch of wetland.  There’s a bird so common in town it must have numbers to rival the much more visible guys – song sparrows are making noise everywhere.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

More surprising to me are the black-headed grosbeaks.  Never seen anything like them, and apparently, they’re common here, especially where there are more trees.  Also the warblers.  Black-throated gray warblers and wilson’s warblers are in any forested spot, usually completely unnoticed by me.  This is where I stop recounting boring lists of birds and start recounting my sins.

You’re not supposed to play bird songs on your phone to summon birds.  This is a thing you can do, but it’s rude to the birds, and can waste their precious survival resources.  I played back the song of wilson’s warbler just to hear it, and one came out of the forest to find out who the fuck I am.  Sorry little bro, I am not a wilson’s warbler.  But it was so cute I’m sorely tempted to do this again.

But I won’t.  Pinky swear.

ChatGPT, Creativity, and The Boring

I know a guy who uses AI tools to aid his imagination.  For example, he’ll think of a subject to put into a story and then discuss it at length with the chat bot, see if any other cool ideas emerge from that discussion.  I gave this a try with a novel I’d begun a few years ago but never finished.  I had some broad notions but hadn’t drilled down the specifics for a lot of the story, and didn’t remember what the hell some of the notes in my outline were talking about.

Anyway, I mention a character and a few details, then asked ChatGPT to come up with some more information about them, and it was always the most bland, obvious, and generic ideas possible.  A modern person with life-themed magic working as a medical professional, a death-themed magic user living in a cemetery.  Need a little pathos in backstory?  Mourning loss of a spouse.  Ooh.  I’m not using it the same way as my home boy who was having more success.  This probably isn’t the best use for it, but it’s kinda funny to see.  Not only is the bot bland and inoffensive with its language choices in normal discourse, the ideas it generates are also as safe and tap water as possible.

Like others have said, any writer that’s even a little offbeat, a little wacky, is not about to be threatened by bots.  It might be interesting to behold what the first gen of formulaic genre fiction bots shit out.  Or will it?  The very way in which this technology works might be incompatible with making interesting happen.  The funny thing is that the less creative writers out there are very much the same.

So many people on the internet are yakking with so little individuality that they may as well be bots, and sprinkled among them are indeed a lot of bots.  Aside from the deceptive aspect of skewing perception of how many people hold this or that belief, of spreading advertising or propaganda, does it really matter whether or not those people are bots?

My boyfriend was writing a book where the coterie of villains were culled from archetypes of internet creeps – various ‘gaters, incels, terfs, nazis, etc.  In his research he attempted to understand each of these types of shitlords as human beings, and the one he could never get a handle on was incels.  They speak in memes and catchphrases so much that – in addition to repeating each other endlessly – it was impossible to detect a core personality or reasoning.  They dehumanized themselves before we even had a chance to do the same.

Bots, boring people, they’re indistinguishable from each other, and I don’t think that really matters.  We have to moderate both categories in much the same ways.  This is our lives now, in the cyberpunk dystopia.

Another Bad Creation

Look upon my works ye donors and despair, for reaching the stretch goal on this fundraiser was rather like losing a bet…

EDIT to add:  The lyrics so you can sing along, or see where I fucked up, or see where I used the word you paid for:

I’m not even trans so ~ Don’t genocide me bro
Ever since it was the ’80s ~ I wanted to be one of those rap ladies
Roxanne Shante, The Lady of Rage ~ Or Igloo Australia up on my white page
I need an umbilical Hernia sewed up ~ Time to get lyrical, My people showed up
I offered to rhyme one Word per donation ~ But some don’t care for My rap oration
Cutty Snark and Monkat Offered well wishes ~ Which implies my rap Can sleep with the fishes
Meanwhile Trixie Gave in her quiet way ~ And left not a single word For me to rhymesay
At least other donors gave Words to make use of ~ So now I commence against English abusove
I’m not even trans so ~ Don’t genocide me bro
Ever since it was the ’80s ~ I wanted to be one of those rap ladies
Rhyming like this re-Quires some strategy ~ You can play it safe and Avoid a tragedy
But then my bro asked for Salpingooophrectomy ~ That son of a bltch thinks That shlt will get to me
Someone asked me To make a rhyme for orange ~ This they tasked me To make it oh so cringe
Shlt could make my Brains tapioca ~ Ricky my Martins ’til This vida goes loca
I rap so wack I Say whoopsadaisy ~ So I’ll just slack then Be ghost like Swayze