Gossip, media, the rich, the poor

Until a few months ago I paid no attention to the gossip-papers-look-at-the-rich-and-famous side of the internet. Why should I pay attention when I’d not pre internet? Then one day I realized that this really was big business and that people who would perhaps never have looked at gossip sheets in the aisles of the grocery stores, too shame-faced to do so publicly, could be all over the gossip news on the internet. Plus, in the meanwhile, the internet and its blogs had made gossip kind-of-legitimate. Lots and lots of good color photos, I think, helped. The Enquirer couldn’t exactly boast good color on the news stands. Its air was that of the morgue. As for magazines like People and Us, yeah, those were popular, I guess. Well, I know they were popular. I’m just not familiar. But I imagine they also had the feel of archived news by the time they hit the stands. News that was still kind of alive and breathing but definitely for the album. Did and do they do candids? I don’t know. The internet loves its candids alongside the approved prints.

A few months ago I started looking at a few of these gossip blogs, curious about the phenomena. Some I looked at for a short enough while to decide the comments were too repulsive to continue scanning. So I looked for some to gossip blogs that were popular but less repugnant. Because I was interested in this huge acceptance of celeb gossip news and celebration of the rich. I wanted to read for a while what these bloggers were saying, how they presented the information, and I wanted to sift the comments and see what the milling populace had to remark.

I’m no researcher but the circus has a very Depression era feel to it, when women by the thousands swooned to Valentino. And I guess it should have a depression era feel to it, considering that these days the spread of wealth is back to as it was in the Roaring 20s. There are a number of aspects to take into account, such as the media’s part in selling and the part of PR (even bad news keeps your name afloat and making money), but then there is also the response of the public. And it seems to me that if you don’t have the money then the next best thing is adulating the aristocracy and vicariously living rich with every scrumptious bite of the media gossip meal. Clothes, houses, the romance of the ability to make seemingly big choices and do seemingly big things. One would think instead this disparity would result in outrage over the economic divide (and you do see some outrage expressed in vulgar comments that make the commentators seem gluttonous for more big rich news so they can vent some really revolting bile which seems more a matter of loving to wreck free-wheeling abusiveness anonymously online) but instead it seems to foster an acceptance of and assumed righteousness of the economic divide, just as there are people who really do believe that there is A Most Beautiful Woman In The World and That Woman Is She. Not only does it foster acceptance of that righteousness of the economic divide, granting a privilege of vicarious experience it casts a peculiar dust of wealth on those who have not. Middle Class individuals are able to make select choices, from that dusty menu, of how they’d like to resemble the wealthy, and pursue those choices. While those who Really Don’t Have end up even more despised, not just financially but in that sordid moral way that counts Those Obviously Without as less than human, which leaves them scrambling to find any small way that they can to emulate the Middle Class for sake of self-esteem and in order not to be so obviously without that they hope to not be immediately pegged as having No Value Whatsoever except as menial labor. Even though it’s nice to be wanted for the work force, it’s nice, after all, just to feel accepted as an individual with your own special eye on the world.

Of course it’s nicer to be wanted for the work force in a way that pays you legitimate money that will make you self-supporting, because the work force that has to beg for salaries that will adequately meet their needs translates into many viewing them as a subhuman work force that has to beg because they’re not worth anything.

Certainly not worth what the Most Beautiful Woman in The World is getting. Or The Most Beautiful Man.

Trickster Fire and the Birth of Knowledge

My first and perhaps only attempt to make fire without virtue of a modern appliance such as matches was probably when I was around eight years of age and likely had to do with a show or a movie I’d seen on television or can be blamed on the Camp Fire girls manual, an organization to which I belonged first as a seven-year-old Bluebird and then for about a year as a grown up Camp Fire girl, and if you are puzzled by that statement then you have never been a seven-year-old Bluebird. As I was a good girl with a healthy fear of accidental arson and didn’t go around making fire with the aid of modern appliances when I was younger, then it may very well be that this was my first attempt with fire at all. And, as I was a good girl and cautious about things like that, it’s curious I don’t recollect an adult being involved, which means a movie or television show or the Camp Fire girl manual had convinced me that though matches were verboten, the attempt at proving myself a full-fledged human being with intellectual command over sticks and brush in brewing a flame was only natural, as I was human.

I knew rubbing two sticks together was supposed to do the trick, if you could rub them hard and long enough to evoke a spark that might fall to carefully mounded brush and ignite it with some blowing. Adults and children did it in movies. Certainly, it couldn’t be that hard. Early man possessed fire so command of that elemental force wouldn’t be that hard for a twentieth century girl who belonged to a cars and toasters world cooked up by complex chemistry. Whatever early humans could do, I could do better. At least I think those were my thoughts, but I believe I also may have had within me a healthy amount of doubt as to my ability, fire after all being mysterious even to a twentieth century girl, which was why that first attempt at making one au naturale felt like a momentous, almost sacred occasion.

A matter of decision.

I shall make fire with my own two hands and two sticks.

In the movies, one stick was always braced on the ground and the second rubbed furiously over it crosswise, giving the impression that the braced stick was the mother of the spark and the rubbing stick was in inviolate tool, which confused me as they were both wood so why couldn’t the rubbing stick give the first spark? Whatever, I braced the larger stick and dutifully rubbed the second, smaller stick against it. And I rubbed and I rubbed and I rubbed. I rubbed so hard my hands hurt, and rubbed some more. Every so often I’d stop to feel the point where I was struggling to rub those two sticks together, though they kept slipping. Was it hot? Was it even warm? In the movies, two sticks rubbed together made a fire pretty quickly, so why was nothing happening? Or had fire been about to happen but my stopping to check for heat ruined the effort? Back to rubbing and rubbing the sticks, but my raw hands were going to catch fire before those sticks produced any spark. When I stopped, I was no longer the master of my fate, confidant in human intelligence alone being enough to wrest a person, in the space of a life time, out of the primal mud into even a homely, wooden rocking chair beside a brick hearth.

Around that time, I also tried banging rocks together with the idea of breaking them down and forming a crude tool, an effort which was, again, only demeaning and made me finally scared that if and when one did shatter I might lose an eye to a flying shard.

A little later came another experiment with paper and a magnifying glass that did work, which it was going to in the desert with the summer sun beating down over your head. But it didn’t count because glass was a modern convenience.

I couldn’t break rocks and make a simple tool. I couldn’t make fire. I could read and write and do rudimentary math so what the hell did it mean about human beings that one could ably read a book, a supposedly higher intellectual task, but not be able to make fire, which I’d been led to believe was a taken-for-granted birthright of those with two legs and thumbs? What did it mean that the best tool I could manage to make with my own two hands was a gnawed down stick when I’d been taught that we far surpassed Stone Age peoples in intelligence?

Some comments on a photo by Eman59


Originally uploaded by eman59

Eman59 posted a beautiful photo at Flickr (here shown) that I mentioned in the comments reminded me of the Dionysian/Christian story of the release from the prison. He’s unfamiliar with the story and asked me to blog it.

In Euripides’ “The Bacchae” (about 410 BCE) we have:

Servant: We are come, Pentheus, having hunted down this prey (note: meaning Dionysus), for which thou didst send us forth; not in vain hath been our quest. We found our quarry tame; he did not fly from us, but yielded himself without a struggle; his cheek ne’er blanched, nor did his ruddy colour change, but with a smile he bade me bind and lead him away, and he waited, making my task an easy one. For very shame I said to him, “Against my will, sir stranger, do I lead thee hence, but Pentheus ordered it, who sent me hither.” As for his votaries whom thou thyself didst check, seizing and binding them hand and foot in the public gaol, all these have loosed their bonds and fled into the meadows where they now are sporting, calling aloud on the Bromian god. Their chains fell off their feet of their own accord, and doors flew open without man’s hand to help. Many a marvel hath this stranger brought with him to our city of Thebes; what yet remains must be thy care.

The Christian presentation is found in the story of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 16 23-33

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto ELOHIYM: and the prisoners heard them.

And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the ADONAY YAHSHUA MASHIYACH, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

And they spake unto him the word of YHVH, and to all that were in his house.

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

As it turns out I’d remembered this incorrectly, I’d believed there was an accompanying radiance with the bursting of the bonds.

The reason I associate these passages with a supernatural illumination is because of the associated story, in Acts 9, of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, where he is blinded by a great light, and which also has a parallel in Euripides.

Acts 9

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And he said, Who art thou, ADOWN? And the ADONAY said, I am YAHSHUA whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In Euripides’ “The Bacchae” we have:

DIONYSUS: Still obdurate, O Pentheus, after hearing my words! In spite of all the evil treatment I am enduring from thee, still I warn thee of the sin of bearing arms against a god, and bid thee cease; for Bromius will not endure thy driving his votaries from the mountains where they revel.

PENTHEUS: A truce to thy preaching to me! thou hast escaped thy bonds, preserve thy liberty; else will I renew thy punishment.

DIONYSUS: I would rather do him sacrifice than in a fury kick against the pricks; thou a mortal, he a god.

Streamlined down, the slipping of the prison had to do with gnostic revelation bringing freedom, or the preparation of the soul through purifications for release from the bodily prison. The Orphic and Dionysian mysteries were concerned with this and may be observed, as shown, in Paul’s illumination on the road to Damascus and the breaking of the bonds.

A number of Eman59’s photos have people in scenes in which they are passing through or accompanied by a radiance that transcends the mundane. When I saw this photo, the rays of light moving into the negative/positive space of the bars, and the individual to the front bathed in that light while innocently reading, it did remind me of the story of that breaking of the bonds and the slipping of the prison. As if this individual is caught in the moment just prior illumination, or as yet unaware of what is transpiring perhaps to the rear of him and that the inmates have escaped their prison already.