Two Poems

A Binary Rhyme

A speck of dust in H-less night
On black satin flecked with light
See by clouding unimpaired
Watch electrons jump downstairs

Tiny bitwise speck of know
Add to others, watch it grow
Find the whole of whole within
Electron fjord inside a pin


Fugue in Silence

the blinking eye makes a quiet, moist clicking
noise is nonintuitive and unexpected
when you sit each day all day in a soft numbing humming
stultifyingly and warmly arrhythmic, atmospheric
if only in the sense that it replaces air

or would you rather inhale arpeggios that throw themselves into the walls
draw into your lungs an étudinous glutiny of chords
glutinous mutiny
of your ears in being told to breathe
how much of a chord will diffuse through the skin
muffled cacophony created by the vibrational harmonics of each dying cell
like ripples smashing at high speed into circles and circles of themselves
running rings

in silence, over and over
repeating distorting until it runs back over itself
fugue in silence

Dislike is not a crime

A few days ago my friend expressed great frustration to me at their ex’s unwillingness to talk to them, and their inability to do anything to mitigate this. I have been used to express sympathy for this plight, but for whatever reason, in this particular case I was unable to do so. Perhaps it is because I have experienced this from the other side–I have been extremely unwilling to interact with certain others because they make me uncomfortable, or because I do not like them. I have been terse, I have ignored, but I have never let vitriol escape my lips. This is not rudeness, but politeness to myself and others (for would it not be less polite to tell them to piss off?). My friend, however, complained that the object of their continued affections did not talk to them except by outside initiation. To me, this seems an absurdly privileged view, as it assumes that having attention paid to one is a right.

I wonder, Best Beloved, whether you have noticed the recent–or ancient, as it may be–trend of martyrdom as impressive and laudable. Suffering is particularly in fashion right now; we glamorize the mentally ill, the poor, those incapable of helping themselves, and most especially those who put others before themselves to their own detriment. This has become so deeply ingrained that we criticize those people who value their own happiness as paramount instead of making themselves available for use by others. I am one of those people, and it frustrates me endlessly that one is often forced by convention to associate (closely even, at times) with people one dislikes, else risk being labelled ‘toxic,’ ‘bitch,’ or simply bearing the full emotional brunt of someone else’s unhappiness.

Dislike is not a crime. Others’ perception of my dislike of them as a heinous insult is flattering, to be sure (how much they care about my opinions!) but I have no obligation to like anyone, nor to put myself in their way if that will decrease my happiness significantly. As I am somewhat angry, allow me to reiterate: nobody has the right to your time unless you have made a contract to give it to them. Nobody has to right to receive conversation, support, or favor from you. Human interaction is a privilege to be earned, not a natural right.

On Emotional Intelligence

Intelligence, as a concept, is largely based on pattern recognition and the ability to learn quickly by deduction and example. This is, indeed, the entire basis of IQ tests. Then is it not so that a truly intelligent person should be socially and emotionally, as well as academically, adept? Social systems follow definite, if usually nonverbalized, roles (mores) and emotional expression follows consistent, if subtle, patterns. For example, it is almost always possible to deduce whether one’s friend is angry with one, and even that the reason is one’s recent assassination of her ex-girlfriend (for whatever it may be worth, I’m sorry; I don’t choose my commissions). This is a trivial example, though–such obvious cues are easy to register. More nuanced are the ways people say, or do not say, what they are thinking; the ways they say what others want to hear or deliberately deliver bad news; and the ways and ways they inflect their speech with voice and body.  It takes clever pattern recognition and deduction to pick up on and interpret all these cues–likely moreso than, say, understanding mathematical problems that have been drilled into one’s head.

This is, essentially, the most intuitive form of intelligence because humans have evolved and trained one another to understand social cues without conscious thought. A person who is emotionally intelligent understands their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and can use this to motivate themself (forgive the awkward construction on behalf of my indecision as to which gender-neutral singular pronoun to use) or others, the latter of which quality is oftentimes called charisma. Why, then, does it seem that there are so many more charismatic people than academically intelligent people? Or does it? At first I thought that our society might have higher standards for academic intelligence, but I realized that this, like all standards, is relative. The more emotionally intelligent we become as a whole, the more charismatic one must be to stand out–and this is as it should be. Yet the perfect intellect excels both in conscious and in unconscious pattern recognition.

Hackneyed as the sentiment has become in recent times, I think that emotional intelligence is by far the more important of the two. Not every job requires a lot of conscious thought or pattern recognition, but all require unconscious intelligence in the form of human interaction. Our society is at its root (aha, I made a pun!) social, and we all must participate to be of any use to the human race. And if you have no desire to be of use to the human race, Best Beloved, we shall simply have to agree to disagree on this subject.

“Haters Gonna Hate”

As most on the internet know by now, a hater is someone who not only hates something, but does so volubly and often scorns any who disagree–either directly, or by the patronizing implication that others disagree only because they don’t know better. The worst thing is that nearly everyone is a hater under some circumstances, once they are reminded of whatever it is they hate so much; any perfectly reasonable person can become a hater when considering Republicans, or people who leave the toilet seat up, or valley girls, or internet trolls. My father is a hater of the religious, anyone who does things differently than him, and the ninety-five percent of all humanity he considers imbeciles; and thus I have plenty of experience with hate, although I try never to participate in it and often find inexplicable displays from other people.

A common (and here eponymous) reassurance when confronted with this phenomenon is that “haters gonna hate.” It means “I don’t care whether you hate me, and I will not change my behavior because of you.” While this is admirable, it seems to me somewhat problematic to treat haters as a force of nature that can be neither checked nor reasoned with. It can be extremely frustrating to try to persuade those adamant in their moral and logical rectitude that they are incorrect, but perhaps we owe it to the hated–and to ourselves, for everyone must be part of a group hated by someone–to try. My chosen path is the judicious (is this wishful thinking? oh, probably) application of comments intended to foster thought on why exactly my conversational partner hates a group or ideology so much. I have no idea whether this works, and have a suspicion that it almost never does, because of the irrational knee-jerk nature of hatred. I only wish I were gifted with the silver tongue necessary to persuade haters to become wonderers and lovers.

It is the nature of humanity to hate those who are not like us, or who are too much like us. Yet we have conquered some aspects of our nature, as societies in not individually. We have outlawed murder, rape, and theft–surely it is not too much to hope for that we could one day outlaw hate.

In Defense of Mockery

My father and I were today discussing marriage, its boring ways, & c, and the phrase “man and wife,” which I mistakenly cited as “husband and wife” (how foolish of me!). This delighted me because it meant that I could now construct a parallel “man and husband” for gay couples, but my father decried me for mockery of the solemn tradition of marriage and the host of sociopolitical issues connected to it.

I replied that any couple fun-loving and fun-poking enough to use such a phrase at their wedding would suit it just fine, and launched into a defense of mockery:  if one can mock something, one can truly love it, and not, perhaps, until then. Mockery, at least the affectionate sort, comes with a deep understanding of a subject; one loves not only its admirable qualities, but its more negative ones as well. Until one understands all parts of an item to be considered, and well enough to poke fun at it, one cannot love it fully for the simply reason that one does not fully acknowledge it.

Added to this, the ability to make fun, idiomatically as well as literally, allows fun. A person who makes their own fun will be having fun more often than not. I pride myself on being able to mock nearly anything, and I like to think that this makes me easygoing and enjoyable to interact with.

Thus do I say, Best Beloved: go forth and mockery.*

*I know, it’s not grammatical, but I could not resist making it scan slightly more like the original multiply.

On Gender and the Dubious Necessity Thereof

Having thought long and hard on the subject of my own gender identity, I have come to several disparate conclusions, usually (though not always) at different points in time. Approximately thirty percent of my conclusions are that I am or should be agendered, because gender is really much too much trouble for the advantages it allows one. Or is it?

I read a very interesting piece of fiction recently, in which a race of hermaphrodites abandons the concept of gender, despite its members’ possessing common human secondary sexual characteristics. Is this only possible in a species with one sex? Or, in a species with one body type? Humans today have a staggering amount of variety in body type, with weak males and strong females, though the averages do support sexual bias in terms of physical strength. Yet this is completely irrelevant, except culturally.

This leads me to my second, oftener-used conclusion: that I should very much like to be a woman (the “lady” gender). This has less to do with the way society treats women–as objects, with appearance-based favoritism, as deserving extra help–and more with the feminine identity that has struggled through oppression and hatred, and come out stronger ethically and mentally. I do not, I confess, really want to be part of the gender that has committed oppression and hate so systematically, any more than I wish to be part of a race that has done so. For whatever reason, one cannot choose one’s ethnicity, though (it is considered extremely bad form by those whose culture one wishes to borrow, generally, and by those who consider themselves defenders of same), but we do have some freedom to choose gender.

The real reason that caused me to write this post, however, is this thought: that everyone should think carefully before choosing a gender, even if they decide themselves cisgendered. It seems unfair and sad that anyone should have the privilege and the misfortune never to realize that they could be anything other than what Society tells them they are.

On pain and pleasure

One thing I’ve learned about pain is that it only begets more of the same. This makes sense from a purely logical standpoint; the idea that happiness comes from nowhere is as ridiculous as Lamarck’s spontaneous generation. From where, then, does happiness spring? And if, as seems obvious given the line of thought I’ve been pursuing, the answer to this question is “from happiness,” how is it possible to become happy if one is not already?

I have observed that when one is unhappy one wants everyone to know, in hopes that they might commiserate, but in reality this merely projects gloom onto others and thus everyone becomes miserable (pain begets pain). Of course there are those who will tell you to let your feelings out, but it has become extremely clear to me (in personal and unfortunate circumstances, alas) that this rarely helps and often makes things worse. My proposed solution is this, Best Beloved: pretend you are happy until it becomes true. For is it not so that the simple act of smiling makes one happier? I know this to be true so I will tell you that yes, it does.

And yes, sometimes it does hurt more to pretend to have fun than to wallow in one’s misery. Oh, no, never mind. I had that backward. Anyway, at some point you may discover that not only are you having fun, but that you have a few more friends than you remember. It is a sad but understandable fact of human nature that we are drawn to what makes us feel good, and that is usually the people least in need of help.

Perhaps my point, then, is twofold–that if you are in need of such help you must pretend not to need it, and that if you are not you will get more than you may wish.