Here’s a picture of Daniel Dennet and James Randi, two white-bearded fellows that line up just right one over the other. I took this at TAM4. Oh, how I love that image. James Randi underwent by-pass surgery this week and I am thinking about him a lot and I am worried about him. What a wonderful conference that was. I am still basking in that weekend.
I am pretty pooped, so I probably shouldn't be writing. This could be meandering, but here goes:
Okay. The CD is underway. There is a conceivable possibility that it will, indeed, be available on Feb. 22nd. I spent most of the day getting the information ready for the layout. It will be a 2 CD set with a book that will have the text of the show. The book will be about fifty pages long, a real honest-to-goodness transcript of the whole show. This is not to be confused with “My Beautiful Loss-Of-Faith Story” which is separate and will be much, much longer – an actual book - and include this loss-of-faith journey in depth. I spoke with the audible.com people and it even looks like I may have it up on audible by the 22nd of Feb. as well. And if it’s on audible to download, it will also be on ITunes. All this work really makes me want someone else to be in charge of making the movie. It’s so much work! And I am already thinking of what I want to write next. But it is interesting how this whole cd machinery works. I didn’t know anything about this, of course, when I made my God Said Ha! CD for Warner Bros.
I saw “Why We Fight” tonight. It’s a documentary about our Military Industrial Complex. I was feeling a little sad on the way to the movies. I was thinking how precarious our lives are – how we could all just go at any moment. I have spent much of today thinking about my friend Kent who just passed away from colon cancer.
I am seriously fearful of the future. I keep thinking, I hope we can be lucky enough to hold it together as a civilization for just another 100 years. That gets me through my life and Mulan’s life. I know that is just nuts to think that way. I mean there will always be people who someone cares deeply about. Mulan will have her own people she will care about deeply, just as deeply as I care about her. But maybe I’m just selfish. I am not as worried about those people who I don’t know – this abstract group of people -- as I am worried about getting to live out my life in peace and happiness. I hope this doesn't appear as if I'm saying I don't care about people in the future. Or that I'm behaving deliberately selfishly or that I'm trying to make life harder for people in the future. I hope very much that I am not. I even hope I am doing things that make people in the future have a chance at a fuller life in my own little ways.
But I guess what I’m saying is: I’m not optimistic about the future in general.
And I am not normally so pessimistic about the future of mankind, or even of the future of our country. But we are in such a precarious place. Just being a part of nature makes us so deeply vulnerable, in ways that I never fully could see before when I thought God was up there pulling the strings. But even if you take away all the fragility that we impose on ourselves unnecessarily, we still are vulnerable as a piece of nature in a bigger natural setting -- a bigger natural setting that doesn’t care a wit about us in particular.
Sometimes I play down the fear of death as a negative by-product of my lack of belief. But the truth is, especially now that it’s been several years and I can look back on it a little more objectively, the fear of death – or rather, sadness about death – is a much bigger problem in my life. It is truly a trade off. I think you can see much more clearly when you give up all that gobbledygook of religion. But the stark reality of how fleeting life is – oh! See! There’s no way to write about this without resorting to clichés!!! But the reality of how fragile life is – every person, every relationship, how flimsy the fabric of civilization itself is – it’s much clearer. And starker. And depressing. Even while it gives life so much more meaning.
And this causes me additional stress, that’s all I’m saying. Comfort or meaning? Hmmm…
I mean, it’s probably – arguably – a trade off in the long view. Because there are some aspects to my non-belief that have alleviated fear and stress. But sadness and fear about death – it’s increased.
My worries have changed markedly. I used to worry about things and I think I secretly (even secretly from my conscious mind) felt would have an effect. I really thought that my worry had some effect on events! Like my worry was an extension of prayer or something. When you grow up constantly pleading with the universe to allow this or that to happen or not happen – it’s easy to make worry the same as prayer. Worry that so-and-so gets home on time, etc. Now I worry about that much less. I know that my personal concern over events outside my control is not going to affect the outcome.
But now I worry about completely different things. I acknowledge it -- it's things I ALSO have no control over, but they are just...I dunno...bigger things. I worry that there will be some enormous explosion caused by – well, by a bomb or an asteroid or a volcano and I will die and not know if Mulan is safe. Or I will not know what happened. Just that in itself is so upsetting! I think of all those people in the Twin Towers on 9/11 – they didn’t know if it was just their city or building that was hit or if the whole earth had exploded. I hate that idea – the not knowing what will happen after I die. That’s so fucking sad!!!!! I worry that I will suffer and that time will slow down – my mind will do it’s thing in a crisis and slow everything down for me to be aware of every millisecond – and in those milliseconds I will be in excruciating pain or emotional turmoil and then it will just be all over.
And I acknowledge that I have led an embarrassingly privileged life. I have never experienced war first hand. I have never gone hungry. I lived in a stable home town in a close knit community. The best universities were open to me; all I had to do was show I could get into one of them and figure out how to earn the money to pay for it. And I did! I got to spend my twenties pursuing a career in the arts and I live in a country where I have the freedom to speak my mind (so far at least.) I have been able to travel and I was not burdened by having to become a mother against my will. I didn't live in a culture that considered it freakish for a woman to have some control over her life and ambition for herself. I am stupifyingly lucky. I just happened to be born at the right moment in the right place. If I were killed tomorrow I would still be in the category of: luckiest of the lucky. I got 46 fantastic years! Still, I am worried. I covet a future where I will be able to continue to live in such privilege. Where my daughter will live with such joys. I wish more and more of the world got to live like me. But I have to say, the future is NOT bright. It looks dim to me. I feel we are all careening towards disaster. Maybe not in my life time but relatively soon. And it fills me with dread. It’s hard to combat. It’s really, really hard to be “zen” about it. It takes constant attention and diligence not to spiral downwards.
As I drove into the parking lot of the theater complex I went to tonight, I was thinking how, us humans, are all just dancing precariously at the end of a diving board – a high dive – over a big deep empty concrete pool. And we are just chatting with our friends and backing up and backing up and who knows if our shoes are half way off the edge? Who knows if all of humanity’s shoes are halfway off the edge?
All right, now comes the funny part. This was my state of mind BEFORE I decided to see, “Why We Fight.” Yeah. I was near tears as I walked in the theater. And then I saw one of the most disturbing documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s all about the Military Industrial Complex and….well, I was a mess afterwards. I was really missing my dad, too. I remember, just before he died, he was telling me how he had never seen our country so in the clutches of big business, so clever in it’s deep hold on the American people because of it's ability to manipulate the news, and a media so cowed by this oligarchy that it couldn’t force some measure of transparency. And even though things have gotten even worse since he died two years ago, I was wishing he was around to talk to about this documentary.
I have two things to say about Why We Fight and then I’m headed to bed. One is that Hal Bidlack must go find the woman in the documentary that was in the military and left after twenty years, disgusted at what our country has done in Iraq and how the war was handled. Oh, here: her name is Karen Kwiatkowski. Where ever she is, Hal, you must find her and marry her. Also, I think I have to marry the Charles Lewis from the Center From Public Integrity, who is also in the film and he is AMAZING. Julia Lewis. I think it sounds good.