me oh me oh my oh my oh it's a miscellany π oh π oh

1. I haven't decided if the above, a Korean comic strip by Yang Young Soon, is intended to be read as directly or indirectly--or mebbe intentionally or unintentionally--racist, but I have decided it's funny.

2. The plum blossoms are out and about in the Kanto region. Plum blossoms, or ume, are similar to cherry blossoms, or sakura (Japanese holding the trophy for cooler words in both categories), except that people like sakura more, so they plant more of them, and more people take pictures of them. Nonetheless, ume are out now and I tooks me some pictures of them in Ueno Park. I'll post them on Picasa. Sometime.

3. The greatest tragedy of the 20th century is that mass communication didn't embrace its own potential to bring the masses into the intelligentsia. Now we're in a situation where I'm having a hard time taking any news source seriously except the satirical ones. Lately the problem has been talk about the economy, which has been so very uninformative as to a solution to the problem, choosing to focus instead on upping its adverb-count to trick people into a false sense of cautious comfort. America isn't maybe possibly perhaps going into a recession. After an unsuccessful $500+billion five-year war on two fronts, an electoral branch of government that all but installed a conveyor belt for outsourcing manufacturing jobs, downright terrible adjustments to the education system and half-assed solutions to the fuel problem, America would be in direct defiance of logic and physics, not to mention history and economics, to not suffer a huge recession. At least that makes sense to me, not knowing the slightest science behind economics except that it's based off of the good mood of the country-at-large. So I guess the government should issue some home-grown happiness along with the $600 rebates, when they're delivered in a couple of months. I vote that it take the form of a humorous haiku. One for every household, to be decoupaged above every doorframe like the Israelites did with lamb's blood on the first Passover.

4. Alan Moore made some pretty legit metaphors about imagination and willpower. Imagination, saith he, "is a lovely quicksand without will to govern it. Silver alone will not suffice. It must have a purpose. It must be alloyed with gold. Alone, our fantasies become a dismal opium, unhappy masturbations. The unfinished screenplay. The abandoned goal. A quagmire of sour fancy." I took to wondering how I could break those definitions down into more concrete philosophy, without consulting something so dry as a dictionary. I get what Moore's saying and all, but it doesn't do much except motivate me, and motivation is like a burning wick on a stick of dynamite: it'll be brilliant for a while, but it'll be gone presently, and you're shit out of luck if you're in a constricted space at the time. So I've come up with this, and I'm kind of interested if people think this is crazy or not. So, yeah, voice yerself.

Imagination seems to me to be the power of association, magnified in humans to include a possibly infinite array of abstract ideas. That's what Moore meant by the quagmire: it's really easy to envision perfection, fame, or glory with your imagination, but what good'll it do you without the power to bring the dream to realization? (That was the easy part.)
But what about will? Yes, we need will, but what is will? Why do some people have more of it than others? We can expand our imagination by reading books or engaging in deep conversations, but how do you expand your willpower? I figure that the will is more biological than the imagination. The will is the muscle, so to speak, that keeps us kicking. Whenever we have to commence and action and run it through to the end in order to stay alive/healthy/happy/&c., we are exercising our will. In that case, someone like a preindustrial farmer would've had an incredible amount of willpower. He was awake from can't see to can't see, digging and planting and picking and shit, to keep himself and a good many other people alive. A preindustrial general or king--the respectable variety, say--could also be apt to have a lot of willpower, because of the responsibility they have towards their people. The same goes for any job, really; if you as a human are put in a position where to stay alive you're responsible for some task or the upkeep of something, you're likely to do a fucking good job of it.
Nowadays, though, it's not so easy to die. We have huge governments. Lots of food. Creature comforts. Condoms and welfare and social security and disability and unemployment benefits. Most of us--none of us reading this blog--have to catch our own food. We just have to metamorphose some cash into whatever we like: juice, steak, ramen, or enough alcohol to make the pain turn into something more visceral. None of us actually even have to prepare our own food all that often if we choose not to. Restaurants are everywhere and cheapish. Our jobs are difficult, sure, but nothing compared to slave labor or farming or the lives hunter-gatherers led (or lead). We don't have to do an awful lot anymore to stay alive, and I'm starting to think that it puts a cap on our willpower.
(At least mine, especially concerning studying Japanese, which would doubtlessly make my life more convenient over here but is certainly not essential to a comfortable life, and writing, which would make my life a good deal more difficult if I succeeded in producing as much as I liked.) I think willpower is the muscle that keeps us alive, and it's a muscle a lot older than our higher consciousness, and as a result most of us have a very difficult, very logically confusing time living fulfilling lives, because only recently have we decided (via our imagination) that life ought to be fulfilling, and the rest of our mind--notably the will--hasn't caught up with our imagination yet.
Everyone's built differently, too, of course. So there are people with more will than others. Like the artists or entrepreneurs you hear of who went from zero to hero in the span of a few years and a few decades' worth of production, just like there are people born beautiful, or tall, or strong or princes or predestined or bears or dead. The rest of us have to exercise our muscles the good old fashioned way. It's just damn tough when that muscle's your brain. You can tell yourself to keep exercising once your arms've tired out, but how do you keep on typing when your thoughts have run out?

5. For Johnny P.: Go here, and know that I ordered it the hour I found it, and that it's only $20, and that shipping's only $3 except that it will be a good deal more for me since PayPal won't let me change my address to my Japanese one unless I delete my US account which I blatantly didn't feel was worth all the trouble for various reasons, and that getting something that Moore wrote and signed for free for a business colleague was worth all the trouble in the world.

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