One of curious pleasures of getting older is that I become more and more optimistic, about life, the world, everything. However, this is not as it should be. Men my age tend to become cranky, realising that they are actually mortal. So what should I do? I am pondering the need to practice becoming a cranky old man. They say you need practice something new only for a month before it becomes a habit.
17 March, 2015
7 March, 2015
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In the midst of the foi furieuse of the Stakhanovite period, when everything was being made anew at extraordinary speed (and with massive disruption), the government of the USSR felt keenly the lack of trained specialist in all areas of work. So in an address to metal workers, Stalin observes:
People must be cultivated as tenderly and carefully as a gardener cultivates a favourite fruit tree.
A slightly different image of the man who is charged with callously slaughtering millions, drooling while doing so. A little later, in an address to graduates from the Red Army training centre, he tells this famous story to illustrate his point:
I recall an incident in Siberia, where I lived at one time in exile. It was in the spring, at the time of the spring floods. About thirty men went to the river to pull out timber which had been carried away by the vast, swollen river. Towards evening they returned to the village, but with one comrade missing. When asked where the thirtieth man was, they replied indifferently that the thirtieth man had “remained there.” To my question, “How do you mean, remained there?” they replied with the same indifference, “Why ask – drowned, of course.” And thereupon one of them began to hurry away, saying, “I’ve got to go and water the mare.” When I reproached them with having more concern for animals than for men, one of them said, amid the general approval of the rest : “Why should we be concerned about men? We can always make men. But a mare … just try and make a mare.” (Animation.) Here you have a case, not very significant perhaps, but very characteristic. It seems to me that the indifference of certain of our leaders to people, to cadres, their inability to value people, is a survival of that strange attitude of man to man displayed in the episode in far off Siberia that I have just related.
Works, vol. 14, pp. 48, 77-78.
20 January, 2015
For some reason, strenuous exercise on a real scorcher of a day is very addictive. Each summer I feel it. The mercury climbs above 35 degrees (in the shade), the humidity weighs like a hot blanket, and the sun beats down. I have an uncontrollable desire to get out: sprint up the steep hill nearby a few times; run for an hour; push weights for an hour more. At the end I am a rag, soaked and pouring with sweat. My head feels like it is about to burst from the heat. But I love it. Afterwards I feel cool in the heat, my mind is sharp, and I feel serene with the world.
3 December, 2014
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Most people would probably not know that the Communist Party of the USSR (Bolshevik) also had a policy on amputation. Stalin elaborates on the policy in 1925:
We are against amputation. We are against the policy of amputation. That does not mean that leaders will be permitted with impunity to give themselves airs and ride roughshod over the Party. No, excuse us from that. There will be no obeisances to leaders. (Voices: “Quite right!” Applause.) We stand for unity, we are against amputation. The policy of amputation is abhorrent to us. (Works, volume 7, p. 401)
25 November, 2014
This image (sent by SD) at Amazing Lookalike! reminded me of a childhood fantasy.
The figure on the right is the Mekon, the arch-enemy of sci-fi hero Dan Dare. Are they related? Asks Amazing Lookalike!
Probably not, but what about that childhood fantasy? At times I imagined that I was a massive social experiment by superior alien beings. They were trying to create a completely different environment to breed a new kid of species – less intelligent and capable than they were. So everything around me was a construct, a fabrication by these aliens. My parents, my siblings, the trees and animals, the towns and cities, language, and so on. I even tried to see glimpses of the alien presence, when they let their guard down and showed the reality beneath the fabrication.
Just a little narcissistic, of course, since I was the sole focus of this immense experiment. But I have been told that in some form or another it is not an uncommon childhood fantasy.
12 November, 2014
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Travelling from the tiny seaside town of Oarai to Tokyo, I boarded an ancient rattler of a rail motor:
It was perhaps the weirdest rail journey I have ever taken. The theme plastered all over the station and the train was ‘Girls und Panzer':
Cartoon images of girls in school uniforms mingled with German panzer tanks. The connection is obvious … at least in the world of manga.
Japan is, of course, not a kinky country at all, with no repression.
3 November, 2014
This country would have to be one of the most repressed I have ever visited, with an extraordinary return of the repressed at all sorts of levels. On the one hand, everyone is impossibly polite, nice, tidy and meticulously rule-abiding. Everyone bows at the slightest meeting. Even on a train, the person wheeling the trolley with food will bow at the end of the carriage before making her way along, offering drinks and snacks. Police officers assist you with the most trivial detail, all the while wearing a huge smile. Everyone drives about 10 km below the speed limit, for fear of breaking the law. And forget about crossing an empty intersection if the pedestrian light is red. Even more, excessive noise is a no-no. You can speak on a mobile phone in a train only in vestibule of each carriage. Hotel regulations make a big thing about quietness. Every word is spoken softly.
At the same time, Japan has one of the largest prostitution industries in the world. Worth an estimated 10,000 billion yen a year, it is in your face – so to speak – everywhere you turn. In grocery shops, leaflets advertising local services can be found. If you live in the country, your letterbox will be full of such leaflets. But call it prostitution. Ah no, is it ‘health delivery’, or ‘soapland’, or you can engage in a ‘romantic’ getaway in a ‘leisure hotel (the latter are a cheap way to travel in Japan). Keep in mind that prostitution is technically illegal in Japan.
However, you don’t have to go that far to see such repression and its release at work. Take the toilets in a standard hotel. They all come with a curious panel of buttons on the side:
Initially, I ignored such devices, but then I became intrigued. How do they work? I tried pressing the buttons, but to no avail.
However, after sitting upon such a toilet a few times, I noticed that the green light went on (square button) after some water noises. I then pressed the ‘bidet’ button. At this moment, a phallic like tube emerged from the back of the toilet:
And before you know it, a stream shoots right up your anus:
Now let me be clear, such a photograph is not possible until after sitting down, pressing the appropriate buttons and waiting for that tingling feeling down below:
In fact, it requires significant dexterity to leap up from the seat while one’s underside is being doused, aim the camera and take a shot before the stream stops. After numerous attempts, I became somewhat damp, but now I wanted to try the ‘shower’ button. What would that do?
Yes, this one was for the ceiling, since it shot almost straight up with significant force:
As I said, Freud would have wet himself with excitement over all this. Return of the repressed – and how. But as I dried off, I also realised that Japanese cleanliness goes a long way, since it seems to me that anyone who uses such a device cannot help but having one’s whole internal system washed clean.