Monday, June 28, 2004

The Attractive People Parity Principle

After poring through pages of text and pictures --uploaded in a near-fruitless attempt to encapsulate the individual essences of my friends-- I realize that beautiful people will always gravitate towards beautiful people. Though the attraction is contingent on how concerned groups of people define beauty, one cannot deny that it is present and working, if subtly, most of the time.

This is very much apparent when one observes high school cliques: the jocks are always together; ditto the cheerleaders; ditto the class womanizers; ditto the stylish gay people. This is apparent in my own post-college universe as well.

Many of Bonsai's friends are visually pleasing specimens of humanity and par for the course, she's one herself. It also doesn't surprise me that Bonsai's and Zhiyel's worlds are connected by a bridge of visually pleasing mutual acquaintances. Other factors no doubt come into play to allow this to happen: Bonsai and Zhiyel both live in Lilith-ville, both are well-off and both operate in related trades (Bonsai's in advertising; Zhiyel is a freelance visual artist). But I've seen enough of this like-like grouping to keep me from denying the connection.

Beauty is...

Beauty is, of course, more than skin-deep. Every culture has its token standard of the aesthetically pleasing and every individual has his own take on what applies to the set of "all things beautiful." Taken farther than "a desired visual impression or image" or "the qualities that give pleasure to the senses" these meanings may be attached to beauty:
  • "complete"
  • "simple"
  • "subtle"
  • "sublime"
  • "perfect"
  • "pleasing"
  • "efficient"
  • or
  • "whole."
Conversely, "ugly" can be associated with the appropriate opposites--
  • "incomplete"
  • "garish"
  • "loud"
  • "gross"
  • "imperfect"
  • "displeasing"
  • "inefficient"
  • "deficient"

Segue to Ugly

Ugly people are also drawn to beauty, of course. But "ugliness" carries with it some very nasty baggage. I am reminded of that fairy tale where the Beast is constrained by his own needs --find love, break curse-- to keep Beauty hidden away in his lair, until she miraculously develops actual love and the corollary erotic attraction towards him. The odds of this are nil, and he knows it: as human as he once was, it's not the case now and neither is she going to believe it if he sat her down and told her his whole sob story.

It's harder for people who are acutely aware of their "ugliness" to approach beauty without being hurt by simply knowing the defects that divide them from the beautiful. The constant and nagging comparison is simply too heavy to ignore, and it deterimentally colors their feelings, perceptions; skews their decisions... and the outcomes of whatever course of action they take.

Action: An ardent "ugly" (read: poor) suitor may be put off by the simplest dismissive gesture from the "beautiful" (read: rich) pursued, even if the gesture is of the most transient nature. The disparity between wooer and wooed (present since the beginning of courtship) plays on the suitor's mind and demoralizes him. Outcome: He loses the girl by default to a rich rival.

The point: apparently this is also truth-- to attract something one must become it. When attracting the beautiful to yourself, attempting to ignore your own defects is apparently more costly in the long run than transcending them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

My Life In Brief(s)
Fiscal Recovery

But how could I be robbed in Tatalon when I live there fergodssakes? Well, I was robbed at the border of Tatalon and Talayan and those creeps probably weren't Tatalon natives...

Read the full story here.

Lost & Listless in the World of Words

Apparently, the only time my work merits notice is if it wins contests and makes the news somehow, somewhere. Then it's back into the bowels of obscurity until I can win another one: par for the course. But knowing this, I still can't help but feel a little...

Read the full story here.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Some Poems

Every poet experiences this.

Some poems a poet isn't prepared to write. It's not because these poems are hard to engineer. He knows that on other days he can pull line after rhythmic line to make the ladies swoon, or the mothers weep. The skill is there; just not the heart to put the themes to his usual mercenarial use.

A poet's angels don't make inroads into that dread territory, not when the poems speak of loss, however evitable, from unexpected quarters.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Shaman is Alive and Well
More Bull Cookies from Dex

People who claim that I'm a bum are only partly right. If "bum" is defined as someone who regularly does nothing that is regarded as "productive" or socially desirable, then everybody is a bum for at least a few hours of every day.

Yes, lawyer boy, you are also a bum. When you sleep. When you go to the bathroom. When you duck outside for your favorite smoke. When you're boinking someone, 'cause seriously, don't you have anything productive or socially desireable to do?

BUM. It's the not just the Tee Shirt

I've noticed that people who toss that epithet around tend to have some nasty assumptions about the people they describe: lazy, boorish, uneducated, uncultured, mean, dirty... While those assumptions may be accurate most times, they don't reflect well on the character of epithet-tossers. My choice words for them: cold, unfeeling, dismissive, (yes, lazy) reductionists who cannot be inconvenienced to confront the other guy's basic humanity.

Still, I've been where the epithet-tossers come from. A lot can be said about personal responsibility. After all, many of humanity's great big screwups can be traced to personal hubris. "You dig your hole, so you lie in it."

This Is All Greek To Me

Some simplistic, bowlderized examples--

Cause: someone was too lazy to begin work at a crucial part of his lifetime, say between the ages of 20 to 35. Effect: he finds it more and more diffcult to find the job he wants, as these are being farmed out to younger blood.

Cause:"I just want a little peace," said the leader of post-1920's Germany. Effect:"A little 'peace' of Russia, a little 'peace' of France. A big chunk of Poland would be nice too, while I'm at it. Nothing like the annexing of foreign countries to prop up der Fatherland's pride and economy!"

Cause: In despite of a boatload of prompting, Trojan Paris does not surrender Helen to Menelaus, Helen's proper husband. Too bad Paris seemingly forgot Menelaus's brother happened to command the thousand-ship-strong Greek Navy. Effect: After ten years of war, Paris and his brother and nephew are killed, their home city is razed, their women are sent to the slave ships. And most of the other principals involved in the Trojan War come home--

1)in body bags (Achilles, his best friend Patroclus; Ajax the lesser, Antilochus);
2)ten years delayed (Odysseus);
3)to be chopped up by his wife and her lover (Agamemnon, Cassandra);
4)not at all (Ajax the greater, and other Nameless Greeks Who Died En Route)

[Digression: Menelaus & Helen come home to Sparta unscathed. Wise old Nestor survives his long sea voyage. Aeneas, lucky Trojan bastard, gets away safely to have his kids found the Roman Empire.]


In really primitive societies, the titles of doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, priest, weather analyst and sometimes even head of state were encompassed under the blanket term "shaman." It was to him or her that the tribe turned when something was wrong with the crops or when the war council wanted the go-signal to unleash hell on deserving tribal enemies.

Harassment victims of elemental forces and other nasty denizens of the spirit world were also brought to the shaman for relief. Since the scope of the spiritual oppression encompassed areas as diverse as physical and mental illness, death, injury, familial disputes, love concerns, vermin and rotten luck, pretty much everybody in the tribe came to the shaman.

Today, the shaman has seemingly been killed off by the fact of life called specialization�. After all, you can't possibly arrogate upon yourself responsibility for the total well-being of the tribe, when the tribe's members number in the thousands or hundreds of thousands. The workload alone would kill you. Check your Bibles-- even Jesus had to flee from a crowd of supplicants, and he already had several areas of specialty: medicine, education, social reform and spiritual well-being.

You can still see the shaman today, of course. National Geographic special features aside, you'll find him plying his trade pretty much everywhere. The doctor will never admit to performing shamanic functions when he comforts and treats a patient. The priest, representing a highly structured religion, will choke on his own bile before comparing himself with the shaman, the fortune teller and the witch doctor-- even if they all perform the dispensation of pyscho-spiritual wellbeing. And if you feel like dispensing with your faith in modern medicine, you can take a road trip into any of our rural or depressed urban areas to visit the neighborhood herbalist.

In my experience, you can also find the shaman in the hard-luck friend you always run to for counsel, even if you know he's in deeper doodoo than you are.

Specialization happens in all societies, but, unless I'm wrong, happens faster and on a greater scale in urbanized areas. It's a statistical thing-- more people crammed in one place means more people with highly specific needs crammed in one place. Sooner or later, the number of these people increases to the point where you can't leave their needs unadressed. Your experience as general practitioner is simply not enough and so, you're forced to abandon developing your other areas of study.You are forced to increase your skill, knowledge and experience in something more specific.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

How's this for a header?

Monday, June 07, 2004

Dex El Won't Be Phoning Anyone Anytime Soon

I've been complaining about being blocked for weeks. Well, nothing lights a fire under a sluggish writer than robbery, murder, or any form of urban recidivism that touches him personally.

I've been relieved of my phone, people. Please erase this phone number 09162218481 from your phones' memories as it is no longer in use by yours truly.

Those of you who worship Kali may now start praying for some good old fashioned six-armed relief, for my sake. I'm kidding. I'm just having problems accepting this really bad cosmic joke--

Dyologs stole Dexter's phone.
Letter to Antoinne and Sammy

Dear Antoinne, Sammy--

You've both inquired as to how I've been. I've been remiss since I have neither replied via sms nor via email.

I've been hiding out. Again. I know, it looks like the usual Dex response to a problem, not being around to ask for or receive help. But it's not that world-shaking, all things considered. What I've been over the last week or so is... BLOCKED.

I can't write worth a damn and it's affecting my work. Speaking of which, the check hasn't arrived, and that too is thoroughly irritating me. It's been a week since the end of May.

I'm so miserably blocked I'm rambling here, contrary to my stated mandate for the new Big Bodega.

Anyway, Sammy, here's what you wanted to know--

Words of the Week and all related articles will be appearing here, occasionally spilling into Fringe Living. Philosophy, Politics and Language will be discussed in The Big Bodega as well. Movies will be reviewed, if at all, in Fringe Living. At least that's the plan. I'm praying I can stick to it.

Thanks for asking after me, pals.

With Love,

Dex El
The Big Bodega