On some good advice, I recently ordered and received Marjane Satrapi's 「Persepolis」 (not the version in that link though - found a "complete collection" version). The art style isn't one I'd normally like, but the faces are very expressive and the story is incredible. I started to page through it before getting back to work today, and had a very tough time putting it down (helps a bit that I paged from the middle) - I hesitate to put it this way, but it looks like it may be good on the level of Art Spiegelman's Maus.
It's kind of nice to have sore legs a lot of the time; I've been enjoying pushing myself with runs and bike rides recently. I think in the past, the practicality of the bike generally took precedence over the fun of it, and in this recent re-biking the fun is taking the lead role (although the practicality is darned nice too).
T'd'O folk have often called me 「Cowboy」 because of the large Jewish/Cowboy hat I used to wear (stopped when I started biking, still trying to figure out how to safely bring my hat with me when I bike). Today's receipt had a handwritten extension of Porto (I usually get Portabella Sandwiches + Pesto - Onions) into "Portabella Cowboy". I rather like that title. Riding through the plains, rustlin' up wild mushrooms... Sounds romantic.. and fungusy.
Having briefly looked at some of the beginning of that comic now, I find it strange that, as far as I can tell, it's mainly Disney that keeps the grandeur of the idea of monarchy alive in the United States - the idea feels generally obsolete given our history (although all the monarchial language in christianity may keep the connotations of some terms in traditional positions), and the idea of a "good monarch" divorced from the realities of monarchs. Are we more inclined to accept the basic decency of monarchs because of it? (the appeal of democracy is perhaps one of vanity, and so it's easier? Or is awe just as easy as vanity, except that in the US we don't really have the habit? I've spoken with people from countries that are monarchial, and many spoke of an admiration of strong leadership that would feel out of place from the mouth of someone raised here..). Maybe a big part of Disney's role is to re-sell us "old-world myths" from pre-consumerist times, sanitised and simplified, in order to fill our need for culture and tradition in times where we've lost our actual roots (and understanding). On one level, the idea of having us dream of being princesses or kings is odd in a democratic society that came after a republican revolution in our country's founding, but on another, republican/enlightenment ideals are hardly dramatic once established and are not easily the stuff of stories. I wonder if these stories are antithetical to the actual good - if they represent some kind of an instinctual good (maybe for Americans, we've turned our back on awe in our governmental form, even as politicians pretend to have it when being elected in a way that can't possibly carry over into reality - maybe in other systems there's some other shortcoming - maybe all these notions of instinctual emotional satisfaction with leadership contradict each other and there's no way we could be entirely fulfilled), they'll be the dramatic grass always on the other side of our fence. I've written before about Democracy's pacifying effect with regards to differences between people in society - it turns our dissatisfaction with the way things are into a dissatisfaction with ourselves - when we lose politically, it's in a system that theoretically allows for motion, and we just failed to make the right moves (to convince people? to persuade in the political arena? to get our ideas out there?). The other side of that is that it's a system that's immensely frustrating - in a monarchy where we have awe (and presumably lack the education to have sophisticated political opinions, and perhaps have the humility to realise that and to defer to those few elite who are educated and likely have ties to the regime), decisions are presumably relatively final and at the very least are not things we can impact. Consequently we can't invest ourselves in national decisions, whether we understand them or not. In times such as these in nations such as ours, political polarisation is an important (perhaps dangerous) phonomenon, but the end of political complacency and a desire to shape the nation, widespread enough, makes the tension much greater. There are political junkies like me who do their best to understand the world and might take the horns for awhile were we given power, in order to reshape society towards our notion of the public good. There are also a bunch of people stirred up who have less knowledge or who are working from a philosophy untempered by enough observation or compassion (my younger self is well described by the latter). What would happen if the majority of the population really started to care about politics? I suspect if they had similar enough ends and a clear enough understanding of how things actually work, things might become suddenly a lot better. If not, things might become very interesting - a new way for governments and then societies to fail.
If you don't mind being outraged or bummed out, this may make you quake with anger.
It amuses me that I now think of CDs as being as much packaging as the boxes they come in - I am a bit sad to realise it though, because a lot of the CD covers and cases I have are rather attractive, and it's neat that the musicians (or their publishing company) put some time into making a look. Still, at best I rip them once and put them, cute booklets and fold-out sections, occasionally fantastic art, in a box with the rest of the 20% of CD cases I save, the others heading straight to the trash once their data is scooped out. I imagine there have been many cases of little art forms being lost when production or use patterns shifted. (Oh, another thing to recommend, which is also Persian-ish - in this Amazon order, 「NiyazのNine Heavens]」 - at some point I'll have to check out their predecessor band, 「Axiom of Choice」.
Apart from really liking the music, I find the tracks that are in Parsi to be really beautiful; daydream: invention of a spoken language so beautiful (not necessarly so simple, not necessarily beautiful on just a surface level, but dynamic and clever-feeling) that entire cultures adopt it for that reason alone. A language that, once heard, makes a return to what we speak now feel crude, that inspires in us a thirst to explore its complexity, that feels right wrapped around our tongues, that takes our ideas out to dance and a dinner; reminds them of what they always wanted to be.