Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 189

Hi.

Coffee: House Drip, Carolina Coffee House; the coffee came in a white cup without any ornamentation; bits of smoke, a seat by the windows, crowded company; the roast was smooth – easy to drink, though my father kept adding cream

Five shot dead in Odessa, Texas. Not to mention the shooter. not to mention the wounded. He stalked shopping malls and that’s all we know. He caught an officer and a 2 year old. He was using a rifle.

Plato told this story in the Republic: men sit cross-legged in a cave facing the wall. Outside is a midnight fire. All kind of objects pass by the fire – trees, wind, falling apples. They cast shadows down the long slope of the Cave and dance around the walls. The people see the shadows and take them for the really-real. They’re bright and vital. It’s all they know.

Then someone turns around. He takes the chains off his arms and legs and raises his body. He brushes off age-old dust. Climbing on fingers with brittle nails and toes half-broken by years of sitting, he pulls himself to the lip.

What does he see?

Fire flickers the whole world around it. The real, vital, True. His flesh feels hot and warm. He’s alive for the first time in the heat-wake. So he creeps closer, wanting to know the bright light with all his senses. Feet rake wet earth. Ears hear all the world booming.

Like sugar the first time you taste it, indescribable. Five bright flashes from the barrel of a .308.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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SOCRATES: Whenever any of them was unchained and was forced to stand up suddenly, to turnaround, to walk, and to look up toward the light, in each case the person would be able to do this only with pain and because of the flickering brightness would be unable to look at those things whose shadows he previously saw.

Plato, Republic

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 26

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I heard a woman talking on the NC State University radio about wanting to go vegan and straight edge because choosing to reject what the world tells you to put into your body is the purest form of rebellion. I see her point. However, something about that notion – the rejection of the world – makes me sad. It means the world is worth rejecting.

I watched the Google press conference on their new games streaming service, Stadia. They talked about architecture and data centers and how you’ll eliminate the need for any kind of hardware requirements on the user. Music’s streaming, movies are streaming, why not games? It sounds like a democracy, like it’s giving everyone the opportunity to do something only a very few could do before. But the hands holding that democracy are the most bloated, ubiquitous tech and data giant in the world.

Ever been to Rome? Did you see the colloseum? How about any other handful of ancient monuments? Well, most of those were built by Emperors. In the ancient world, a surefire way to hold your power as a tyrant was to build lavish public works. Everyone’s happy and equal. Unless you disagreed with your lord, then you lose your head. But I can’t stress enough that it was the TYRANTS – not the Roman Republic or Athenian Democracy – that placed protections on the livelihood of the lowest common denominator.

That’s the rub, eh? We all want to have our cakes and eat ’em. Forks at the ready. We want to be free to rule ourselves, but when we vote together, it’s so easy for the majority to manipulate things into existence like ‘segregation’ or ‘apartheid.’ We want the security from injustice, but when we place our hopes in the righteous fist of absolute power, it’s so easy for that fist to crush the people at the margins who just won’t play ball.

What’s right? What’s wrong? It’s not so simple.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a vegan. Long gone are my high school days of being straight-edge. And I’ll probably buy into Stadia if it’s a cheap, easy solution. At the same time, I know I’ve got a golden lap, a wine-drunk fountain, the fortune of American dollars and white skin. I can participate in the oligarchy or autocracy in equal easy measure. For me – and people like me – there’s never been a difficult choice. That’s the real injustice.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.

Plato, The Republic