Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Generations the same; planets different

Everyday decisions often change our lives

"I think it is true that [Ernest] Hemingway's tales of hunting and fishing and war appeal mostly to men, and mostly to young men, at that, but some of his work carries with it timeless truths, and he will be read long after [we] have gone to the happy hunting grounds.

"His stories also carry very romantic and deeply emotional moments for the young ladies. His life was filled with worldwide travel, with art and with artists in all disciplines.

"We mostly read the poets who sing to us and the writers of novels whose stories we either have been a part of in our own lives or wish to become a part of before we die. My life as a young man was very similar to Hemingway's. The departure came in that he was wise and went to Paris after his war; I was stupid, and returned to Minnesota after mine. Cosmopolitan Ernie; provincial Fram."

This is absolute truth, not just for me, I think, but for most. I wrote those words in response to a comment about my piece on Ernest Hemingway a few days ago, trying to explain a bit further why his life and his work have appealed to me over the years.

As we pass through life, we make decisions which we believe are best not only for ourselves, but for those around us, family and friends. Too many considerations might affect the wisdom of our decisions. But, even without considering family and friends, we do not always make the soundest choices. Narrowing the process down to determining our decisions based solely on ourselves, only on our self-interests, does not guarantee the best choices.

Possibly, I am making a poor decision now in terms of myself, to leave my work and to "hit the road," and to do it without regard for friends or family. Poor decision or not, I think it is time to wave goodbye and to just start running without care or concern whether the end result ultimately is to my benefit or not.

I read the poets I prefer. There no longer are teachers to give me assignments. I read the novelists I enjoy. There no longer is the advice of others to consider unless I ask for it. No governments to serve; no work to "keep me occupied." No nationalism or political parties to recognize, much less to parrot. The time to gallop blindly into the future has arrived, for me, I actually believe.

Our individual lives are ours to do with what we choose. Too often, I have listened to government plutocrats or to employers or to family before making decisions. A man once described me as a politician, able to negotiate anything and with the ability to reach a compromise on anything. I was flattered at the time; I am ashamed of it now.

We are what we eat. We are what we drink. We are what we believe. We are what we smell, hear, see, read and dream. The people I feel most sorry for are those in their late teens or early 20s, for they are the ones who most likely swallow the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- no matter if the prophet is Marx or Lenin or Nietzsche or Russell or Hitler or Reagan or Obama. Those "leaders" are all alike in one sense: They are ardent zealots in a particular belief, and will promote it to their last breaths.

I think it is time for me to allow Semper Fidelis to fall by the wayside, and to permit Nature to envelop me. She (Nature) rules, at least in these times. I cannot describe how much I want out of this country, but there is no place left to actually be a free man. I am tired of listening to absolute idiocy in the form of platitudes presented by narcissistic hedonists whose primary talent is being good at giving a sermon. More rights and freedoms have been taken away from the American people in the last 90 days than in the 190 years preceding them.

How was that? Noisy or what?

There is a novel I have read a few times entitled, "Fathers and Sons," written by a noted Russian author named Ivan Turgenev. As an aside, I will mention the politically-correct crowd has made efforts to re-title this book, "Fathers and Children." It actually has been printed with that title. In my mind, this is censorship at its absolute worst. This is more corrupt than burning the book.

In any case, among my favorite lines from the novel are these:

"I finally told her that she was incapable of understanding me: 'We belong to different generations,' I had said."

I still love those lines, but the difference is not so much generational these days as it is planetary.

Music Note: Listening to Boston ....
Specifically, "Boston"
Some out of sequence lines from "More Than a Feeling:"

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away

So many people have come and gone
Their faces fade as the years go by
Yet I still recall as I wander on
As clear as the sun in the summer sky

When I'm tired and thinking cold
I hide in my music, forget the day
And dream of a girl I used to know
I closed my eyes and she slipped away
She slipped away. She slipped away.


TheChicGeek said...

Fram, I like what you say here. This comes from the heart and expressions of the heart are always beneficial. You must allow your heart to be your free country. When you listen and follow your heart all your choices will be the right ones for you....Only you know what is right for your very best life. This is what I believe and what I wish for you.

Rachael Cassidy said...

I have been called selfish in the past and present. It is a very narrow-minded word, conjuring up images of one who is self-absorbed with no concern for anyone else. HOWEVER... I see being "selfish" as being painfully true to myself. I take care of ME first, over anyone or anything else. Over family, friends, work, and society. Hell, even over my own kids! My philosophy is this: as long as I am happy, strong and healthy, looking forward and not dwelling upon the past, LIFE follows suit. Happiness begets happiness. It has worked pretty damn well so far in my life. I know oh so many people, women usually, who set their goals, dreams and simple desires aside, instead focusing on their husbands and children with all their energy. I find these women intolerable, bitchy and generally pretty dang unhappy with life. I do know one man who follows this path as well, and he struggles mightily with it. He is not happy either.
Anyway, it's all about ME. Think about it... I feel that you are focusing on YOU as well; looking for something you yearn from the middle of your being. To hell with working for The Man. If I were financially able to, I would turn on The Man too and never look back. To hell with society dictating what you are "supposed" to do. Nature calls, and her voice and will are strong. Not many feel her pull. I do. You do. I make it happen closer to home. You stretch your legs and your wings. Searching searching searching. You will know when you find it. Quiet will fill you. You will be ultimately happy.

Fram said...

My mind almost always has been dominant over my heart, Kelly, which might be a reason for any dissatisfaction I feel about my life at the point it has now reached.

I think I have a ways to go before I could accept the idea of allowing my heart to be my free country. That, I must think about. While I am thinking, I also am thanking you for the good wishes you always send to me.

Fram said...

Your philosophy seems to be approaching the Stoic in this particular matter, Rachael, but from a pragmatic point of view, it does make a lot of sense. I think the typical person would find it very difficult to follow from an emotional standpoint.

I think at any stage of my life I rather easily could have become a "Jeremiah Johnson." Although only a fictional character, he picked a third path after his war. It is possible that is where I will end up in another decade or two but only then, because, unlike Jeremiah, I have more cities I wish to see and more figurative mountains made by men I want to climb.

Fram said...

A Cuban In London said...

Since the comments box for you latest post is nowhere to be seen I will have to use this one instead.

There are three elements that jumped up at me straight away after reading your latest entry:

1- Decisions. No matter how careful you are you will always affect someone or something when acting upon them. It is good in these instances to go back to you individual self (our cave, for men) and brood. This leads me to my second point.

2- Individuality. I'm not American and never visited your country, but even for a foreigner the 8 years Bush spent at the White House were a waste of money and time. Nobody, in living memory has done more harm to a country's profile abroad and to his own people than the previous incumbent. Whether you like Obama or not, and judging by you views, you don't, he ain't no socialist, my friend. Believe me, I was born in a so-called socialist nation and that guy you have in the White House is anything but. Which brings me to my last point.

3- After living in a society under a centralised, despotic government you would probably think me a person keen on individualism. Well, welcome to Cuban In London's world, mate! I think government has a central role to play in the shaping and development of an individual, but should not and must not attempt to controls hi/her will. A contradiction, yes, but it really isn't. You abide by the rules and get on with your life. I am pro small- and medium-sized businesses. Why? Because I think that they provide the backbone of economic development whether you're talking about a small town or a big metropolis. It also encourages individual enterprise and that usually brings positivie results. So, I disagree with you slightly with the notion of 'We are what we eat. We are what we drink. We are what we believe. We are what we smell, hear, see, read and dream'. Yes, we are, but we are also rational animals and if I am smoking in a pub and the smoke gets into a baby's eyes and nose, I should also have a modicum of respect for that baby and retire to another part. Since I cannot be trusted to do that out of my own volition, then the government needs to legislate against smoking in pubs.

Where I do agree with you is you definition of politics. But here again we come to the same dilemma that has cause d alot of head-scratching and soul-searching in the British Parliament in the last ten days. What are politicians for? Well, politicias are for negotiating and reaching a compromise on our behalf. The fact that many of them renege on that pledge should not be the kiss of death of representative democracy but the engine to move us forward as it is already happening here in GB on the back of the MPs' expenses scandal.

That was a good honest post and I ennjoyed reading it so much. Sorry for the long answer, but I guess that in the era of the two-line blogger who writes as if they were texting posts like yours deserve praise and rational responses.

Greetings from London.

May 20, 2009 4:45 AM

Fram said...

Katy said...
Hi Fram. Like CIL, I couldn't find the comments box either so posting here...

In my (admittedly sometimes naive) mind, I find it quite possible to separate the country from the politics, the person from their views. Thus when it comes to the USA, although I think that Bush did much harm to the world view of American politics, he did nothing to change my view of the American people or of the country itself. I am more intrigued by the USA (and Russia) than any other country on earth.

I have not yet vistied Russia but will do. The USA I have had the fortune to visit 3 times so far and will again. Its almost boundless landscape enthralls and captivates me - from Arctic to tropics and everything in between. As someone who was born and has grown up in a country smaller in landmass than some of your singular states, this is perhaps not surprising! But it is, as ever, so much more than just a question of size. I think the biggest thing that struck me on my 1st visit, and was reinforced on subsequent trips, is just how different from England / the UK it is. Like many before me (I'd guess), I'd been subconsciously deluded by the sharing of a common language into assuming a similarly shared culture. I could not have been more wrong - the USA was (is) as different a culture from the UK as could possibly be. Not better, not worse, just utterly different, like apples and oranges.

How did this manifest itself? In a hundred and one ways, but mostly I think, for me, in the way that American people seem so much more open, straightforward even. A thick vein of cynicism runs through most of us Brits as I'm sure you know, something that you're not aware of until you notic its absence. It was absent in the Americans I met in the USA, whose open charm and welcome were as refreshing and unexpected as a cool shower on a hot day.

Why am I writing all this? Just to say that I understand your current feelings of 'being let down' - as CIL mentioned above, something similar is in the air here with regard to our own politicians right now. But that doesn't have to mean that the place is fundamentally bad like a rotten pear - just maybe, as you are going to, that a step away will heal the rift you feel.

On what others think? We are a long time dead. One life, one shot, one bullet. As someone very wise once wrote, we only regret the things we don't do.

Fortitude and courage mon ami. The only thing that lies ahead for sure is our future and the grave. You can't avoid one but you can make the most of the other.

May 20, 2009 6:18 PM

Fram said...

CiL & Katy ....

I copied your comments up here where they properly belong. I did notice the comment line was missing here at times, and was not certain if that was only on my screen or affected other screens as well.

It probably had something to do with the youtube song. In any case, it will not happen again.

I need time to read both your comments and to digest them fully before I place return comments. For now, I am amazed and delighted in the effort you two took to reply. A thousand thank yous to you both ....

Fram said...

I apologize for my inability to have the comment section in working order, CiL.

In answer to your points, the first is easy. Over here, we have no need to return to the era of cavemen. We barely have to go much further than four or five generations to return to stone age conditions. I have a small collection of stone arrow, spear and club heads made by people who lived here little more than yesterday. I find no difficulty slipping from now to then in my mind, and do it frequently to seek shelter and a place to think.

On Barack Obama, a couple of things. I lean toward being a skeptic for at least three reasons. From newspaper and law enforcement connections, I know Chicago/Illinois politicians statiscially are the most corrupt in the U.S. There are more former governors and other Illinois politicians sitting in federal prisons than from any other state. I do not see how Obama could have escaped being a participant and rise to the top as he did without collusion in their activities. I expect a shoe to fall.

I do not like his arbitrary and, some would say, capricious manner in taking over the banking and auto industries here. I think his level of arrogance is understandable, but appalling. There was an election, not a coronation, and he treats his opposition badly and with scorn. There are few hallmarks of leadership present within the man. These feelings qualify as absolute lack of confidence in his abilities and distrust, no doubt. Dislike does not apply, by my definitions.

The question that remains revolve around Obama's ideas, his concepts, his proposals for changing America. I have no clue whether his notion of America tomorrow is the right route to travel or the wrong one; or whether the country (and, the world) will prosper under his leadership or fall back into 19th Century territorial disputes. What I can see along the road he travels is a chance for open, violent opposition to his modus operandi which, again, from my eyes demonstrates remarkable lack of wisdom despite significant intelligence. This is reminiscent of Bill Clinton's first few years in office, but much more dangerous.

CiL, I love you as one who makes me think and appreciate a voice who speaks from experience and education rather than from the winds of popular opinion. I would have us live closer, so I could give you a rough argument, face to face, and still be able to walk away with a smile rather than with anger. You are an island upon this sea of blogs, and I hope your day is good to you.

Fram said...

Katy, to you, too (U2 ?), I send apologies for the lack of entrance to the comments section.

I preferred George Bush to contenders from the Democrat Party because he was absolutely predicable. He stood on principals. As the saying goes, he said what he meant and meant what he said. This, to me, is preferable to a president such as Bill Clinton, whose actions were determined by the results of the morning's popularity polls. In a sentence, I prefer leaders who are true to their word, although imperfect, to leaders who have no beliefs, no philosophy and no principals beyond adhering to the statistics which determine how to be popular in the polls.

I have not visited Russia, either, but want to go sometime along the line. I do have some connections/roots/background there, and would like to explore a few of the cities. As for the U.S., a person could spend a lifetime traveling and not see a fraction of it or meet a token number of the people. I think the differences between here and you have been accentuated for me by reading you and the Cuban. It is something I had not really thought about before. Too busy reading novels and thinking about canoeing the Thames to actually look at the people, I guess.

I have wondered if the "ugly" American sometimes is not a ramification of the overtly assertive American, pushing his beliefs, his money, his desires toward naturally more reserved cultures. Meaning well, but acting like a jerk.

In terms of the U.S. being "fundamentally bad" or simply going through hard times, I have no idea. As I mentioned to CiL, whether Barack Obama is on the correct course or not, only history can reveal. Time will tell, as it does with all. The only thing I know for certain is that I no longer like it here, the feeling of which began a couple of decades before any of us heard the name of Obama. Maybe the place has always stunk, from my point of view, and I did not notice it in the past. In a historical sense, I think things started going very wrong in the 1930s with Franklin Roosevelt.

Back to here and now. We all search for whatever our imagination brings to us. I think I qualify as a professional at searching for a grail or a greener pasture or a magical lady. To quote Deep Purple, "it is the thrill of the chase."

To quote Fram, I will say from now until forever that Katy is the best writer on the sea of blogs, and that I value her presence in my life more than she probably realizes ....

A Cuban In London said...

Fram, in regards to my post on 'The Women's Room'.

I totally and completely agree with you (actually I will copy and paste this response on your blog, too). Although I focused on the impact this novel had on me when I first read it I did not go into the intricacies of what gender politics, class struggle or affirmative action represent nowadays. It would have been too much. I believe that despite the minority or ethnic group into which we are born (and sometimes this category is foisted upon us from above, mind!) it is our individual effort that should ultimately reward us. I am with you that I would not like to wait for crumbs from the table of power. I'd rather go and get what I think I am entitled to.

Now onto your own post. Whether Obama will be good for the USA or not, only the USA is capable of determining that. At present we have a Foreign Secretary who is telling every other nation what to do, from Pakistan to Iran, whilst his own house (literally, the House of Commons) crumble to the ground. As I explained in my previous post, I believe in the power of individuals, even if sometimes you cannot trust every individual and therefore intervention, whether it be from the state or army, is called for. I believe in free enterprise, as long as that free enterprise doesn't try to kill our planet. I feel ambivalent about capitalism, but after having lived in a so-called socialist society and seeing its flaws, my question is: Can you show me a viable and real alternative to capitalism? If not, then, let's move on and let me make my investment.

I could carry on, but have to go back to work now. I just felt that you made a very good point on my blog about what I call 'victims' monopoly'. The who-suffers-more? situation which, to be honest with you, I can't tolerate anymore than I can take yet another piece of news that tells me that conviction for rapists in GB is at an all-time low. Grab your opportunity by the scruff of the neck, I say, before it's too late. Because when it's late and your chance is gone, you will be crying (insert minority war cry here) for a long time.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Magdalena said...

I came to say bye, bye to one handsome Wolf :-) See you in about ten days. Take care and have a wonderful, safe journey, full of sun! :-)

Fram said...

More power to the both of us, CiL. Your personal story is one I hope to continue hearing/reading during the months ahead.

To read your descriptions of the political scene and the criminal conviction rate in England, I think I should lessen my personal complaints. I think I should try to adopt a more ecumenical viewpoint regarding the changes that are going on throughout the world, rather than focusing only on my own backyard.

I keep thinking and saying it is time for me to renew my Sanctuary habitat, but perhaps I should be doing just the opposite. Perhaps, it is time to become a player again rather than a mostly disinterested observer.

I am very pleased our paths crossed.

Fram said...

Thank you, for waving goodbye to me, beautiful Polish girl. It will be a happy day for me when you return from your vacation and wave hello.

Yes, I know I will have a wide road to travel upon and the sun will accompany me wherever I go.

By the way, your "new look" is fantastic, Magda.

A Cuban In London said...

Have a nice weekend, or weeklong wherever you travel to, Fram. Your comment on my post about Benedetti was very welcomed. By the way, I did like the translation but I have to allow others to disagree with me.

Greetings from London.

Fram said...

We might disagree on politics at times, CiL, but not too often on poets.

You are a wise man, and I admire your skill at pointing out new pathways to someone, such as me, who is mostly uninitiated beyond the shores of America.

Semper Fi, mate .... truly ....

Something special ....