Monday, March 31, 2008


so anyway, there is nothing worse than the end of feeling good.

last week, i was feeling good, running well at poker, unbeatable. but now i've realised i was just lucky, and i'm going to be stuck here for good. i will never get out of it.

i have more or less normalised my marriage, except that we sleep in different rooms, but normal for our marriage is fucking horrible. so that's nice. i've brought it back from the brink to the other side of unbearable. i should throw a party.

it's only a hundred dollars. i can tell myself that but it's not the money. i could lose all the money i'd ever won and that wouldn't mean anything. it's trying and failing. it just confirms what i know about myself. the weird thing is that i knew i had to have a bad run, but i was secretly hoping that i wouldn't, that i would be good enough to keep winning, that the downturn would be slow and would settle out. it doesn't matter that the other players are worse, lose more, whatever. no one else's misfortune makes me feel better about my own, and i don't see why it should.

anyway, enough of it. i'm sick of this. i'll be back when i have something interesting to say.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


so anyway, we talk about believing in democracy, believing it is worth fighting for. well, if we do, now's the time.

just have them ready, the Security Council meeting, the clear insistence that the people's will prevail.

but it won't happen, will it? talk of fighting for, or even wanting, democracy is just so much rhetoric. a lot of people will most likely die in Zimbabwe before it finally sees change. and we won't care. no oil, no market, nothing worth our bothering ourselves over.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


so anyway, a few things i noticed in the news.

newspapers tend to get a bit ahead of themselves when it comes to science, but it's hard not to get swept up in the magic. teh Graun reports that the fossils of what might be our first European ancestor have been found. it will probably be some time before we could be sure of that. still, tell me you don't feel a thrill at seeing what may have been the first migrants to a European country who didn't have someone whine about their taking all the jobs.

deny this, you motherfuckers, you feel like crying. it is like watching our world slide into nothing. these pictures are no longer alarm bells; they are our death knell. having spent trillions on a war at least in part over oil, you can't help mourning that we wasted those resources that could have been spent on researching renewables.

it's hard to remember that Robert Mugabe was once in some ways an admirable man. history could have been much kinder to him. now he would be a figure of fun if people were not getting hurt. yet again, Zimbabwe is going to have an election; yet again, it will be rigged. this time though, Mugabe isn't even going to pretend. even Enver Hoxha used to pretend that 99 per cent of Albanians actually had voted for him. it's hilarious to say you are simply not going to let the opposition win. curiously, that's very much what happened in Kenya. i think you could argue that the West's insistence that democracy fundamentally consists of having elections (which it does not), and the Republicans' willingness to flat-out rig them in the US have led to people's simply not considering them anything other than a way to claim a mandate. there's a wide gap, obv., between claiming one and being granted one.

our way of governing ourselves is fucked. the only reason we don't mind it is that we are rich and it doesn't seem to matter to the middle classes how the place is run, so long as the government is not too intrusive. but piece by piece, we slide into oblivion. those comfortable middle-class lives can soon go belly up, and we can find ourselves in the pit we've allowed to be dug for the poor. that pit is very hard to climb out of. when we talk about "opportunity", we mean opportunity for us: for nice, middle-class people who can get a decent education and have tons of openings (when i say "us", i mostly mean "you", because i am a working-class boy made "good").

this is not meaningful. it's just very sad. i normally don't feel much moved by "x killed in street by y" stories, but i was not in the mainstream at this woman's age, so i suppose i was risking this fate too. her mother's statement was very true, yet somehow hollow:

I am convinced Sophie was killed simply because of the way she looked. She did not necessarily conform to the ideals of those who took her life. If we are to make any sense of Sophie's death, perhaps we should see it as an opportunity to examine how all of us, particularly younger people, can become blinkered.

I believe that today, more than ever, we need to show respect, compassion and tolerance for those whose appearance and culture differs from our own.

that's of course true, and it's a brave and decent thing for her to say, but it's not ever going to happen. too many people gain too much from encouraging us to focus on the unimportant differences among us, and lose too much if we start noticing other, much more important differences. goffs are silly, but they are not threatening to us in the way the ultrarich are.

how do we become blinkered? in all sorts of ways. the road to intolerance has lots of byways, and not all are easily blocked. humans are not solitary; we need to belong. i believe that's inherent in us. and needing to belong does mean needing to delineate who else does, and who doesn't. to define ourselves, we need someone to define against.

also, part of belonging for teenage boys is showing bravado. boys are afraid. of everything, but specifically they are scared that they will not be men. it's frightening to have to leave childhood and enter a world that seems quite alien. no mummy to look after you. if you are low-skilled, unlikely to acquire qualifications, i daresay the modern world looks quite forbidding.

the doctor who created the MMR scare/scam is up before the panel, as it were. i think the charge is just the excuse. there's no question for me he should be struck off. he's a quack. he rode a wave of hysteria to fame, preying on desperate people who wanted an explanation for the terrible misfortune of having a damaged child.

hilariously, mrs zen thinks i am autistic. she found something on the web that she thinks sounds like me. of course i'm not, not even close. people with autism are deficient in the ability to use symbols. in severe cases, this means they cannot relate to others because they cannot understand what a relationship is (they cannot abstract what they have into a symbol that they can then manipulate); in milder forms, such as Asperger's, they cannot understand or use figurative language, and cannot interpret or use things such as facial expressions (a facial expression's meaning is not what it is, but what it represents). people with Asperger's often like mechanics, things that fit together in an unambiguous way.

the surge ain't working. dur.

a rising divorce tide threatens 1 in 2 couples. what? this is typical of how the media presents stories. poor married people are victims of a tide of divorces that are sweeping the country. er, no. divorces are the outcomes of people's individual decisions. you don't catch a divorce from your nextdoor neighbour. this same way of looking at the world infects discussions of elections. people talk about voters as though they were a bloc, conspiring together to unseat governments. but they aren't. they are individuals who vote however they vote, for reasons that diverge. for everyone who wants to unseat a pollie because of his policy on the environment, there's another who just doesn't like his haircut. how else would Boris Johnson have a prayer of becoming mayor of London? the guy's a buffoon. he would be disastrous for London by any serious measure, as any rational analysis would lead you to conclude. and Red Ken has been very good for it.

finally, Estelle (who she?) complains that white chicks are hogging all the press and claims that there's some vast racist conspiracy to deny black soul singers the oxygen of publicity. hey, it's our music, claims Estelle. well, Estelle is wrong on many counts, but we could consider just two. first, acts like Duffy and Adele are not making "soul". they are making coffee-table soul, dinner-party soul. it's nothing to do with black music. this type of music has always been fundamentally white. weirdly, this is true even when its practitioners are somewhat black (Sade, Norah Jones). also, Estelle is not making soul either. she is making generic R&B. why doesn't she get the press? well, this is point two. Estelle is totally generic. there is nothing different about her. she's like a thousand other black artists. but Adele and Duffy are different. their music is no better than Estelle's, but it's newish. and they conform to society's notion of goodlooking far more closely than Estelle does. now this is to do with whiteness and blackness, and i'm not endorsing it. but whites far outnumber blacks, and our idea of what's attractive is heavily weighted to the white.

as for the business side of it, wake the fuck up, lady. record companies give people a chance if they are convinced they will make money. if you are different, that's a selling point, and you may well get a second chance. if you are the same kind of thing as other acts, you are interchangeable with them. if you don't make it, maybe they will. it's about the dollar, not your skin colour.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

no porto in a stormo

so, look, i'm not saying the Guardian is poorly subbed, but do your antennae not twitch at a claim that Portuguese may omit the letter "p"?

so it will be Ortugal, right?

of course, what they mean is that "p" may be dropped from words such as optimo, which is spelled without the "p" in Brazilian Portuguese. It's pronounced in both versions as written in Brazil.


so yeah, i miss the drifting misty rain, the smell of salt, imagining your touch, laughter, the kiss of fleshy lips, companionable silence, a road home, sobriety, meditative practice, hope.

the video sucks, so maybe just listen. i am loving this atm:

and right now, i am listening to Ulrich Schnauss, ... passing by, which is nice. it sounds like passage, transit, going from here to who knows where.

and today, i looked at zenella and i was overwhelmed by something string quartet and thunderclap. i know i will love her for my whole life.

i promised.

if you can ever get me to promise something, you'll find that it's something meaningful, real and deep with me. if you ever promise me something, and do not deliver, something deep in me will rebel, will hate you a little bit.

i will love her no matter what. there is nothing that can make me stop. i will sing her name while i have breath.

and when i don't, it will resonate where i am remembered, because her name is part of me. she is my golden girl; that won't ever change. nothing she does, nothing anyone does can change it.

i promised. and you know, i rarely promise anything. i prefer half-heartedness, because you can always bail if your heart's not in it.

and anyway, put a little bit of heart into things, and you generally get burned. i prefer to keep things at arm's length, able to observe, rather than feel i am in it. if i could do that more, abstract myself from my life, i would be able to be happy.

Ulrich Schnauss sounds like a life that you will not have. maybe one you would not want. he sounds a bit like you are cast adrift, floating on a reed mat, without a care, under a gentle sun.

he sounds a bit like paradise, if you like your paradise saccharine.

Everyone's unhappy
Everyone's ashamed
Well we all just got caught looking
At somebody else's page
Well, nothing ever went
Quite exactly as we planned
Our ideas held no water
But we used them like a dam

Modest Mouse have a lot of wtf about them, and i like that.

so i am thinking again about visiting home. i'm in two minds. i badly want to go home, but i want to go home. i don't want to dribble my money away on a holiday, but i'm afraid i'll dribble it away anyway.

so it's in the balance. i can't decide while things are so bad between me and mrs zen, because i don't know whether they'll improve enough that i will wish i hadn't spent the money because i need it to go home for good, or whether they'll get bad enough that i'll wish i had it because i need to live a separate life, or whether they'll stay in the balance, so that i'll wish i'd gone because not enough has changed.


and there is also the worry that in six months i will be doing well enough at poker not to need my job. the worry is that i get home and just say fuck it. i don't know whether that will be possible, but much more negativity here, and i might just conclude that i cannot be here any more, no matter the price. there are good things for me in the UK.

i am trying not to be negative though. i am trying to stay numb, keep myself in neutral, smile at the neighbours, stay calm, stay upbeat, be good. there are good things for me here too, however small they feel in degree, so long as i don't scrape away the surface. it's like a scab on a wound. if you just keep putting on the cream, you will not bleed any more. but if you pick it off, you are back to gushing blood.

racing post

so anyway, Obama lied but i think he had to.

basically, Obama is smart enough to know that Wright is telling the truth. it's not true that this is a generational thing. racism is endemic in the States, and for every Obama who makes it, there are a hundred guys who just don't.

still, it was a decent speech, because he's pretty fucked on this issue. he has to disown Wright or he's not going to be president. but he doesn't want to alienate the black and (perhaps more saliently) the hispanic vote by lying about it.

Clinton would have lied. it's lower variance because i think blacks would have been less angry with her because she isn't selling anybody or anything out if she does.

Monday, March 24, 2008


so anyway, i think a lot about luck. it's important to a poker player, obv., not least because you have to find the right relationship with it. in poker, two things are important to understand: one, that you cannot avoid luck--it is entrenched in the game; two, that it is your friend, because if skill alone was enough, the bad players would lose their money so quickly that they became dismayed, and quit. (the latter is taken to be true by good poker players and I think it is true: there are degens who would keep gambling even when it was hopeless, but they are not numerous enough to pay off the good players in the games that would be left if luck were removed.)

this is not a poker post, btw, because there is a leap you can make here.

i do not win money at lowlimit poker because i'm luckier than other players. i win because i have a better idea of how lucky i might be than my opponents do, and play accordingly.

life is also like that. you often hear about entrepreneurs who "took risks". but i think that they rarely have taken much risk. they simply made the value they could expect out of the situations they were in. that's different. (that's not to say that no one takes risks, but there are different sorts of risktaking: when i push blind v blind with less than 10BB into a big blind that i believe will fold too much, i am only taking a small risk (that he calls with a hand that is better than mine and i don't suck out), and even though the reward is fairly small, it's one worth taking). most entrepreneurs, if you analyse what they did, did this too: they "risked" other people's money. often, they simply took advantage of situations that were nothing to do with them. not that they weren't skilled: spotting a good situation is how you become "lucky" in the first place, unless you are simply handed it on a plate, which many are, although they do not recognise it. (someone who becomes a lawyer or doctor will tend to put their success down to hard work -- and no doubt they worked hard -- but will ignore that they had the opportunity because of their privileged upbringing. it's not even true that everyone can work hard: a child that is poorly fed will be more likely to suffer from ADHD and other disorders, for instance.)

my opponents lose often because they allow themselves to take many small bad risks. they will limp into pots with weak holdings and try to get lucky. this is the worst thing you can do in poker, because "luck" can be quantified. not so much for you personally but for the array of cases of which you are one. Your QJ will not win you the ton of chips you hope for very often, but will lose you many more too often. (this can be quantified because you can in principle figure every board that will come and count how often you will beat other holdings. because you do not know what the other players hold, you cannot know how likely you are to win or lose, but you can know the range of how lucky you can expect to be.) the second part is very important in sitngoes. you will hit a Q or J some of the time, and that will cause you to lose more when the other guy has a stronger hand. in this situation, you've been lucky (you hit the flop about one in three times) but you don't know how lucky you've been (because you have no idea how often someone else might have a stronger hand--it's a skill in poker, maybe the predominant skill, to be able to figure this out). imagine. if you do not know how lucky you've been, you may turn out to have been unlucky.

in life, this is like thinking that you have more ability than you do in an area, or incorrectly predicting the chances of a good resolution to things you do, so that you overextend yourself. we all know people who believed they would be fortunate in the real estate market: they bought a house, taking a risk by indebting themselves over much, then to their horror found it did not rise in value, but swiftly fell, leaving themselves with an asset with a negative value, and worse, because the swift fall is usually the outcome of rate rises, one that they could not pay for.

of course, i complain about my luck. nearly all poker players do. that's because i want to be luckier than i am. i want to buck the trend. remember that i said that you are one of an array of cases? well, that's true, but there's no reason that you must suffer from chance. you can do much better than expected (and somewhat worse). it would even out over enough trials, but life may not be long enough for you to have enough. most players, and most people, have the average luck. i haven't used a luck analyser, as many players do (so that they can post the graphs and whine about them -- personally i doubt the maths are sound because no one ever posts a graph that shows that they've been monstrously lucky lol), but i expect mine has been pretty much as expected. my aces probably get cracked once in five all in with another pair; my opponents hit their flushes one in three times when they flop a draw and get it in with me; and so on. it feels worse than it is, because the losses are more salient than the wins.

so it is in life, of course. we rarely count our blessings. when we look at each other, it's often much easier to note what's wrong than it is to put our finger on what is right. we take the right for granted. we expect to be lucky. well, you do. i expect to be unlucky. that's why i'm not very good at taking risks: i miscalculate the downside in the same way my opponents at poker miscalculate their upside. it's funny. i'll shove my 10BB, knowing that it's going to hurt if i get called (because mostly if i get called, i'm fuxxord), because i understand how unlucky i'll need to be to lose out. yet in life, i'm presented with risks that have much smaller downsides (as small as mild embarrassment) and blow them into huge obstacles.

but, you know, you wouldn't push 83o BvB and i wouldn't either six months ago. so i can learn, right?

vote early, vote often

so anyway, if the people express their distrust in you by refusing to give you a mandate, the best way to recover it is to force them to do it. twice.

Compulsory voting has been supported by Geoff Hoon, the government chief whip, because of his concern at recent low turnouts.

this is quite typical not just of New Labour, but of the political class in general. turnouts are low, and that must be a problem with voters. to correct the problem, we must correct the voters. it simply doesn't occur to Hoon that the problem is with what we are asked to vote for.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


so anyway, sometimes i feel like walking away would be like dying, and sometimes i feel like staying would be like dying. so how could either way be worse? i guess i have become scared of the unknown.

scared of everything. i have a boil or something on my back. maybe a tumour. i feel i should put a winky there, because of course it's just a boil. but it's been there for ages and it's sore.

also, zenita hit me in the right bollock a couple of months ago. she caught me right on the tip. not on purpose, obv. it was sore for a week, then it stopped hurting. but intermittently it is sore, and this week it has been painful enough to be noticeable.

should i see a doctor? what if it's something bad? i just don't want to know. i would not be able to live if i knew i wasn't going to live.

atm that feeling is the only thing that's keeping me alive. i know that sounds dramatic but i have actually stopped living, and i know it. life is so bad that i could almost just not bother.

it's about joy. i can't define what that is; i just know it when i feel it. but i have so little of it these days that i don't know whether it's enough. i have stopped being someone who is basically okay and sometimes has the black dog at his door, and i have become someone who is basically not okay and sometimes doesn't suffer so much.

scared of everything. i see poker as a way out but i'm so scared of failing that i won't take a risk and fail.

it's not rational. i know that it doesn't matter, that i should try and be happy with whatever the outcome is. i know i shouldn't tie so much life capital into something so silly, so small. but i hate not being good at things, and losing would be confirmaton that here is one more thing i cannot do well.

maybe i am also afraid of success, because if i succeed, i have to leave.

i know that because how can i bear this if i have a road out? ever since she decided she didn't want a relationship with me, mrs zen has refused to indulge even in human decency. we get on okay most of the time, because actually, i'm a very decent person at heart, and not so hard to get on with. but she will not "put up with" anything.

put up with! people do all sorts of things that you don't like but you allow it because actually that's just fucking life.

but mrs zen wants a divorce so she doesn't have to do life. i do though. i have to put up with her because i have no cards in this game. if i leave, i lose my kids.

so i have to eat shit.

and it's not going to get better. even when i've fixed this thing, i will have to live with this woman who has an enormous sense of entitlement and no sense of responsibility. do you know how hard that is? to be with someone who feels every hurt keenly but has no idea that they are hurting?

and i have to bite my tongue when i see that she has slipped back from being warm and kind to the children and is again resentful, leading to being unpleasant to them. god, it's horrible to contemplate. she can be very decent but also i see the kids' aping her resentfulness at the intrusion of having to share. we are both bad models. the difference between us is i want to, i try to, change.

i get scared when i see it. zenita hits mrs zen and shouts at her, and i say, why are you doing that? and zenita says, she shouted at me. and i know mrs zen gets ratty with the kids. which is okay. we all do that; it can be tough with three young kids. but i say to zenita, don't blame your behaviour on mummy. you are responsible for your own behaviour. you choose to hit and shout. but i know that i won't have any impact, because mrs zen models that behaviour for the kids. everything she does is someone else's fault. usually mine.

how do you deal with that? mrs zen is a huge block of "indulge me". there's no negotiation. you indulge it or you fuck off. i don't know how you get from there to a healthy relationship. in fact, i know you don't. i know that anything i arrange is just going to be pretending. i have a choice of pretending.

you know, i think mrs zen's whole divorce thing is just another way of saying she doesn't want to have to bother. she doesn't want to work at a relationship. she just wants it on a plate or fuck you, Jack.


this is a terrible empty stasis. it doesn't feel like anything. i am so numb that i have to smoke weed every night to stop thinking about how numb i feel. it's like shellshock.

some days, i'm hanging out at five for a smoke. bring on oblivion, i'm thinking. i also think, don't keep reading autistic websites. i'm not autistic. i'm like a small boy trapped in a man's life. that's not autism. it's just the crying need to be helped to be a man.

i am more scared of dying without ever having been a man than i am of anything else.

don't keep reading autistic websites and think that i'm "difficult" because i am damaged in that way. i'm not. i'm a smart, sensitive man stuck in a nightmare of a life. i made it. i don't blame anyone else. that's why it's a nightmare. but it is hard to deal with some of the time, and i'm not damaged or bad because i find it that way.

i am scared of success, i realise. much more than i am of poker. i don't know why; i can't analyse it. i don't know how to begin. am i scared that i can't live up to it? well, who cares about that?

i feel that if i have the options i keep saying i want, i will have to take them, and that's frightening.


i am also scared that i will simply take failure badly. that i will lose some money at poker and just give up. and that will feel right but it will be wrong, because i could have just been unlucky, or not mentally right, or almost good enough, and just in need of a bit more work. and it would be hard to know which of those things were true, because in poker it's really hard to know.

and everyone feels like this, i know, and that makes it worse. because i don't want to be everyone. i don't feel like i am.


and sometimes i wonder, will tomorrow be the day i wake up and be?

i know, you are asking, why do you think you're not being now? and the answer is so plain and simple for me. if i was being, i would be living without fear. i know what it is like, because i do lots of things without fear, and i'm not afraid of many things people are afraid of.


i know i can make it. that is why i am here, talking to myself endlessly, boring myself and anyone fool enough to stumble into it with this blah. blah blah blah blah enough for now.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


so anyway, i've been reading The shock doctrine by Naomi Klein and it makes you think, why bother? the forces arrayed against reason and decency are so powerful and rich, it barely seems worth thinking about, let alone fighting.

the problem is that we can do so well from being passive. if we just play the game, we will get the crumbs. you probably know me well enough to know that i'm hopeless at playing the game. i was very unhappy to learn that the company i did a lot of work for, good work mostly, has been advertising for editors. i have been asking for work for months, and they haven't even bothered answering my emails.

not even bothered answering. these people are able not to think of me as a human being with a family, but as a cypher, a nothing at the end of an email.

i gave them three years' service, and at least in theory they made more money from me than i did from them. but no one ever bothered writing to tell me what their problem was. they just gave me the silent treatment.

see, it makes you start thinking, how could i leave this life behind? but i don't think i could make mrs zen understand, even if she wasn't wanting a divorce. and i've never minded so much being a fairly passive consumer, because thinking about it makes everything so tough. most of what's available to us involves exploitation and harm in some way. avoiding all that means a much simpler life.

but i was thinking, when i keep hearing that piracy is killing music, what that means is that it's killing the music industry. and you know, i'm not sure that isn't actually a selling point. i should steal more if it means the end of EMI. other paradigms are possible, and would quite likely put more money in the pockets of more artists.

i mean, do i GAF if Bono goes without a few quid? look at it another way: ask me whether i think Bono should receive millions just for writing a few halfarsed lyrics, which i wouldn't even try to pass off as drunken ramblings, and whining them as though they weren't sub-juvenilia?

more and more it seems that this was a golden age. we came closer to equity than we have at any time since we first built cities. i'm not sure whether we won it by fighting or got it as the scraps from the privileged few's table. but i have had a life of some ease thanks to how our world is. that will all likely be gone in my children's lifetime. the rich have learned how to steal much, much more than their share (and i know that my easy life is an outcome of theft from others of their share; i'm not kidding myself that somehow i deserved to be wealthy while others starved), and their control of the levers of power has become close to absolute. can you imagine a politician getting elected these days who actually is for the people? not likely. and we are losing it by inches, so there is no prospect of a revolution: too many of us feel that we have too much to lose. but we will lose it. we just won't feel it until it's all gone.


so i haven't been feeling a hundred percent, but it's been nothing worse than a cold, but the other day i found a lump under my armpit. which was a bit weird, because the only time i've ever had a swollen gland was as a kid with the mumps. i don't think it was anything serious, because the swelling went down, and the pain has subsided (and it was never that bad). mrs zen says, go to the doctor. but i don't think it merits it. okay, part of me does, but that part also doesn't want to know.

i hate feeling like i'm going to die, and seeing the doctor would be an admission that it's possible. so fuck that. but still it's a bit sore. and the strange muscular pain in my chest... hmmm.

see, these things are nothing, but if you want to scare yourself, you can scare yourself. particularly as you age, and everything falls apart.

did i tell you i bought a pair of jeans? i haven't worn jeans for fifteen years, but i saw a pair for a tenner in Big W and thought it was time for a midlife crisis. i'll let you know when i buy the leather jacket and get a bimbo gf.


i am trying not to be so negative about everything. it's easy to let yourself spiral into negativity, and it makes you a magnet for bad things. i don't mean that in a mystical "feel the vibes" way. i mean that if your attitude is all wrong, you get things wrong. you can't climb a hill if you're telling yourself from the first step that you can't make it.

i played eight tables of $6.50 turbos at the same time yesterday. i found it surprisingly easy. i was a bit rushed towards the end, and would be slightly stressed if i had opened tables to replace the ones i busted out of, which i'll be doing when i'm more experienced. i probably had a bit more luck than par (you don't often read a poker player saying that) but i went really well: six cashes, three firsts, two seconds. i won't keep that up, obv., but i'm going to add tables until i can comfortably do 12 or even 16, then move up permanently to the 16s. i have to believe i can make it because i am feeling more and more that i get it.

the downside of my game is that i suffer from tilt. i get angry and it affects my game. i need to cope with that. maybe i should do the anger management course mrs zen thinks i need. maybe i should just stop being such a baby and get some perspective: i want my opponents to play badly and i understand that if they never got lucky they'd stop playing. poker players forget that luck is most of the game and a lot of the skill lies in making the most of your luck when you have it, and not getting too burned when you don't.

the very pleasing thing was that when i analysed the games in SNG Wiz, i didn't find tons of bad pushes or bad calls. far from it. the pushes i missed, i missed on purpose. at one table, some guy started whining about my pushing with the big stack, and saying "someone should call". i had stolen another guy's blind maybe six times, so i felt i should probably let him be for a couple of rounds. of course, in isolation, Wiz says to steal the blinds every time, but it doesn't know that there's some guy trying to sheriff you.


so isn't it just much better to be surrounded by people who care what you want and want to give it to you than it is to be surrounded by those who want you to care what they want? not that i want anything much, but top of my list is to not have to do what you want if i don't want to.

so much of our lives is all about doing what we don't want, and what isn't is partly taken up by things we don't really want but haven't figured it out yet. i mean, did you never find your attention drifting at a boring party in your twenties?

maybe i just don't inspire people to give me what i want, or maybe i appear to others as someone who can fulfil their needs. or both. still, that's better than what i have with mrs zen, where she doesn't want to give me what i want and she doesn't think i can fulfil her needs either. i probably can, but she doesn't see the linkage between getting what she wants and giving what i want.

few people do. i should take a more generous view of her, and a less generous view of others imo. but it would help if she was clearer on who i am and why i feel the way i do about things (rather than deciding i have autism and refusing to accept that i am mean to her because i just don't like the way she is, and the other issues she is isolating as "autistic" are just normal in frustrated *mumbles* year old men who have had enough of the bullshit).

i wrote before about how tiring it is to have people who "love" you feel that that entitles them to something. you don't choose it but you have to pay for it? why? of course i understand why people feel like that: they are not loving the person; they are loving an idealised version of the person, and feel frustrated that the beloved just won't be their dream. it would be nice, just once, for the dream and the reality to coincide. but maybe i'm no one's dream, hey?

i wonder whether relationships between people fail because we never do learn to love each other, only to love what we could be, should be, but never are. when i look at Naughtyman, i think about how my dad "loved" me: by hating everything i was and could be, pretty much. by wanting nothing for me as much as he wanted change. i would not be surprised to learn that this is the foundation of my bad self-image (although i'm not really interested in apportioning blame; people don't actively try to fuck you up). i will have to try hard not to do it to Naughtyman, but it's not easy to control the heart. the least i can do is not have anything i want from him. people are easy to love if you do not require anything from them, easiest of all if you can reduce them to ciphers. i guess that's what mrs zen has always wanted: to be reduced to "my wife" and not have me relate to how she is as a person at all.


but here's the thing. we can only really hate each other if we reduce each other to ciphers too. it's impossible to hurt one another really badly if we think the other is a human. if we do, we have to allow ourselves to have complex emotions about people, complicated ideas of who they are. it's easy for me to hate the chavs in Brisbane, but much harder to hate T's mum, who is definitely a chav but because i know her, i have insight into why she is bad in the ways she is bad. and don't all of them? yes, they do. it doesn't take much to be unable to hate, and to have to empathise, this side of sociopathy.

this, i think, is why i have always liked Rawls' veil of ignorance. because you have to imagine it's you. it forces you to empathise. if "someone must suffer" to bring wealth in an economy, you should think "if it was me, would i agree that someone must suffer?"

but they don't. we don't. we prefer sociopathy to society. we had a shot at the latter, but the sociopaths are never going to share. they hate us too much and we will never be real enough to them that they'll stop.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


so anyway, if your god loves me, how come he didn't endow me with the ability to play the guitar?

i'd like to but i'm too old to learn. wait, not technically too old to learn, you're never too old, but too fucking old to learn, in the sense that learning is just so painful in every way. but i like new things, new projects, new seas to sail.

a bad thing about living with mrs zen is that she wants stability. that's not a bad thing about her. it's a bad thing about me. i know that a lot of the bad things in my life are about me, but i still don't change.

because you can't teach old dogs new tricks? or you're just too lazy? i've been really struggling to learn poker. some days i feel i've learned some stuff; others i can only feel the gap between here and there, and it seems huge. what is frustrating is that it feels huge so i lose heart, instead of leaping into it and finding out whether it really is huge.


so i had some requests, like a deranged dj, and i've fulfilled one and this is sort of fulfilling another. and a third will have to wait, because things are a little better with mrs zen, but not well enough to do what i was asked just yet. i will fulfil another in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, this is what i'm going to have tattooed on my chest:

although in b&w, because i don't like colour tatts. i just don't, don't ask for a reason.


i am listening to Atlas Sound: Let the blind lead those who can see but cannot feel. it's about half as good as the reviews make out. if you compare it with Caribou's Andorra, there's no contest. they are aiming for a similar place, but Caribou hits it hard, and this meanders around it. basically, the guy cannot write a tune.

tons of tunes on Hercules and Love Affair. do you like disco? if not, why not? we're not talking the "nu disco" of the egregious Klaxons or the slightly more interesting Hot Chip. we're talking the real deal. it just has piles of brilliant ideas, plus Antony of Antony and the Johnsons diva'ing it up. Moroder magic. get it if you have a booty.

earlier today I was listening to Silver Mt Zion's new album. i already had Sparks fly upward, and didn't like it. the new album is fucking horrible. it's just overindulgent trash, not the revolutionary postrock you might expect from the GYBE camp.


this made me laugh a lot. then i thought, how sad is that?

but Garfield always did draw on a well of cynicism, a bitterness that is very unAmerican.


if you read French, and i mean read it well, not just get by, you can get yourself a fresh view on current affairs from Le monde diplomatique.

okay, that got rid of our American friends, not one of whom speaks anything bar the bellowing that they try to pass off as English, so i can share with the rest of you that there's also a less expansive English version.


the web is a stunning resource for autodidacts. of course, most webtards use Wikipedia and google as their sole points of entry, ignoring that both have very deep and serious flaws. i enjoy and endorse philosophy, and i know where to get it.

i have tons of philosophy links. problem is, they're mixed in with all my other links. i keep trying to systematise my bookmarks, but each time i use a different system, and now it's hopeless. in the process, i find stuff that i had entirely forgotten i'd bookmarked.

here's a selection from my "stuff" folder. that's stuff i haven't or couldn't put in a category:

men and women talk differently
there's a new pokertracker. woot. will cost money. boo. will ultimately lead to making money. woot. maybe.
Indonesia's rise and fall. if you want to know about the world, you have to go a little deeper than Fox News. the viewpoint is probably also a little skewed (Anderson is a leftist) but the detail is not. (the problem is more that one writer will select one set of details, and another another, so you have to read widely to ensure you have gathered enough detail to have an idea.)
a thread from the Zulupad forum on merging files. i have been using Zulupad for making notes, because my method of making notes for writing, if i make them, is to make interlinked pages--like, erm, a wiki--and mindmap-type things sometimes. so this is useful for me. at least it makes me feel a bit like writing, to see my ideas sitting there on my desktop, looking at me accusingly. i do have ideas. i have about six pages of a novel. i think it's fucking good, but what do i know? i'm not all that sure where it's going though, so it's been stalled for a while. again, it's the gap thing: i do not know whether i can write it so i don't even try.
the civfanatics forum. i recently got Civ4. i find computer games a good form of escapism, when i don't want to think but don't want to just vegetate. i only play Championship Manager (or Football Manager) or Civ basically. unfortunately, my laptop has a bizarre disc drive problem, and i haven't found a crack for Civ4 that works, so i haven't been able to play it much. i wasn't horribly impressed though, when i did play it. it seemed not to be a huge stride from 3, but maybe i've just been spoiled because 3 was leap from 2.
the wikipage on the Nicene Creed. talking to someone about it, i needed to know what the differences were between their version of it and the one i know well. i bookmarked it so that i could go back to it some time, and think about what Christians claim to believe.
on that subject, i have this and several other pages from the Catholic Encyclopaedia, basically about the nature of Jesus. Eutyches was, we are told, too ignorant to be a Monophysite. i know, you're thinking what i'm thinking: aren't we all? this was though an incredibly important division in the early church, and played a part in Byzantine politics. briefly, Catholics (and successor sects) believe that Jesus had two natures: divine and human. not that he was some weird melange of the two. not that he was a god in a human body (that's Eutychianism, btw). but that he was both at the same time, united but separate. Monophysites believed that he had a unified nature: that he was a mix of god and man, united by commingling.
a different view on teh Ceiling Cat yu can has at teh Lolcat Bible. i was slightly alarmed to find that there are roolz for writing Lolcat. do not want roolz!
i can has spice. here is an excellent resource, all about spices. you could lose yourself for hours in pages like this, and sometimes i do. i don't feel much wiser for it, but i feel happy just wandering among things i don't know.
also spicy, but in a different way, here are some young ladies putting poles to a use not conceived by Fireman Sam. i was looking for something to use as my avatar at 2p2. in the end i went for this:

which doesn't seem to be moving. it moves at my profile. i have no idea who the woman i'm objectifying is, and i don't care. madeyed feminists, feel free to write to bitch me out.

did i just say "bitch me out"? omgzorz! it's almost as though i was mocking the idea that people inadvertently use sexist language and expect to get away with it.

anyway, i'm now listening to Fluke, and it's not earthshattering, but it's feelgood, and you know, even though i'm suffering from a bad headcold, i'm feeling good right now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


so i am in Paris or Vienna or Budapest, i don't know which, but somewhere with old buildings, and i'm researching something, i don't know what, something to do with people long gone. maybe Arabs, maybe Jews, something east shore of the Med because i am looking at a name carved into stone above a lintel and it's Levantine but although in the dream i see it perfectly clearly, i can't understand which it is. i often have this in dreams: i can see things but i can't process them. it makes for a weird experience, everything is commonplace but i can't fit it together.

so i am climbing a ladder into a loft space, and it is narrow, so there is barely enough room for my shoulders. suddenly, bombs are falling and the lights go off. i am stuck in a small space, unable to continue up or to get back down because it seems my shoulders are now stuck.

let me tell you something about South America, in the time of the neoliberal dictatorships. the doctrines in use in Iraq, for torturing people by breaking them down, were in use then. the difference is that the likes of Pinochet were not trying to get people to confess to terrorism -- they already knew who was doing what -- they were trying to shatter the personality, so that their victims were unable to be leftists because they could not reconstruct their worldview. one thing they did was an experiment in sensory deprivation. they would bury the leftists alive in small "graves" -- holes in the ground with doors that were locked. the leftists would be left in the holes for months, years, with nothing feeding their senses, cramped in the dark.

suddenly i feel as though i am in one of the holes in the ground. i am wide awake and cannot get back to sleep. i try to replace the vision by thinking about other things. but i can't. the feeling of suffocation, the indulgence of my claustrophobia, won't leave me. and i start thinking about the time we were creeping through rocks in NSW, and how panicky i felt when i was wedged in. no one realised because i didn't cry out or anything. but i realised how close the edge can be.

and now, reflecting on it, i think back to a dark night in Senegal. we had just taken our malaria tablets, and were lying in the dark. i must have been on the edge of sleep. it was very dark, darker than anywhere i have ever been before or since. there was no light at all, no moon, no streetlights, nothing. the hut we were in seemed tiny, oppressive. before i could even think about what i was doing, how i felt, i was screaming, scrabbling for my torch, desperate for light.

i do not think i would do well locked in a hole in the ground. i was thinking, how horrible it would be here in Australia, where ants would surely find you and add to your torture. then i realised, you would beg for ants. you would beg for anything that made you feel associated with the world.

i imagine the doors of the holes to be made of planks -- slabs of wood -- so that sometimes faint light could come through. (this was not the case in South America; they were completely dark.) i am imagining that i can see vague shapes.

then i realise that the grave i am in is covered with earth, completely dark, and i am imagining a world outside, because i have lost sight of it entirely.

Monday, March 10, 2008


he also has a big cock.

make sure you have a bucket handy. there'll be a lot more of this in the next few months. UK readers will be forgiven for rolling their eyes, remembering 1997 vividly. well, maybe i'll be wrong: Obama will bring world peace, cure cancer and provide free maryjane for all. or maybe the rich will stay rich, the poor will get ever poorer and President Obama will get shafted by Republicans who very much enjoy the "bipartisanship" epitomised by the current Democratic congress.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


so anyway, who better to promote understanding between Christianity and Islam than a Christian who started two wars against Muslims?


on the subject of men with no sense of irony, this is why i'm uncomfortable with Obamania:

What the public has yet to see clearly is his hidden side: his imperious, mercurial, self-righteous and sometimes prickly nature... He can be cold and short with reporters who he believes have given him unfair coverage... He is, in fact, a man of raw ambition so powerful that even he is still coming to terms with its full force.

this could be a description of Blair. as Alistair Campbell revealed, Blair flat-out lied his way into power. he was not a progressive, had no time at all for progressives. he was a Blairist and nothing else.

of course, MacAskill is utterly clueless, so he has to be taken with a cartload of salt. Obama is nothing like Carter, and it's typical of MacAskill to run with something so dumb: his columns are so unilluminating that he must be thankful that apparently his editor doesn't read the American press and realise how far off the mark he often is. but the quote i gave was from a biography by someone who has had access (and presumably doesn't any more).

Obama sets off my bullshit meter. where MacAskill is not wrong is in reporting that people ask: "Change? But how? And to what?" this too was Blair all over. he talked about change, but it turned out in many ways to be change for the worse.


still, he's got to be better than McCain. but i think that "how much better?" is going to be a key question, particularly given that a lot of Americans will not be all that keen on trusting a black man.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


so anyway, i'm experimenting, and you can help me. you write to me, honestly, no bullshit, and tell me something you want from me, you wish i would do, and i do it.

that is all.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

a thousand paper cranes

so anyway, the other side of a person having 600 good facets out of a thousand, which i should have talked about, is that when we construct our "ideal" we may have a thousand facets to that.

but obviously, even the best people we know only have those 600 good things. so do we have to stop there and say, well, 6 out of 10 ain't bad?

no, we don't. we can get the other 400 elsewhere. we are not restricted to a single person to care about, to give to and take from.

what on earth possesses you to think that we are? i don't understand that. why crush yourself over not finding someone who could give the thousand things (which is impossible)? what a way to destroy your life, fruitlessly chasing something that does not exist.

and the worst of that is that mrs zen, and all people like her, expect everyone to feel the same. we must all crush ourselves over not finding all thousand things in one package, instead of feeling good about what we do have.

a thousand splinters

so anyway, it seems to me that the root of mrs zen's problem with me and mine with her is that we have different models of how relationships should be. it's not hard to find a reason for that, if you indulge in some junior psychology.

mrs zen's model is basically idealist and mine is pragmatic. that might be surprising, because leftist politics are often born out of idealism, and it's a cliche that as one becomes experienced, and learns to temper idealism, one's politics shift to the right, the natural home of the pragmatic. it's for another post to discuss why pragmatism is equally at home on the left, but i should say that i was an idealist as a kid, and i did grow out of it. i simply realised it was not the ideal world, and in this real one, principles serve us best as guideposts, not as rocks to smash ourselves to bits on.

mrs zen's parents were "everything to each other", which mrs zen says is what she thinks partners should be. i don't think either one would ever look outside their marriage for sex, for love or for anything much beyond "mateship", which is the Australian concept of having friends that do not care much for each other's complexities, but just enjoy having a beer together. mr zen-in-law has "mates", but he doesn't have any use for friends.

but the model hides a less shiny truth. mr zen-in-law does not need anyone besides mrs zen-in-law because he doesn't need anyone. he's a deeply selfish, self-centred man, whose life has always been all about him. he doesn't take anything from others, and that is mostly because he doesn't want to give them anything.

mrs zen-in-law is a planet revolving around mr zen-in-law, but does that make her happy? no! she has not found her "everything" in mr zen-in-law. she has settled for what she got. but he wanted to leave their hometown, where she had a life, then Brisbane, where she had another, to live on an island, and she was left lonely and bitter. he would not let her work. (how strange it is to think about a world in which we "let" our wives work! nowadays, we actively encourage it.) she reconciled herself but it does not seem to me that she will look back on a fulfilled life, or anything close.

so what is being "everything" in their case? does he share his hopes and fears with her? i think not, because he does not have hopes or fears, and never has. he devoted his life to securing an early retirement that he could spend fishing, and achieved what he wanted. i am not passing judgement on his ambition. there is nothing wrong with it. lives are for whatever you want them to be for. does he provide her with a conduit for expressing her feelings? god no. i have never seen them exchange more than a few words at a time. they are companionable with each other but no more than that. mrs zen-in-law is not either a warm person. she was not warm to mrs zen when she was a child, and it has taken mrs zen a long time -- and knowing me and my family -- to be able to become as warm as she is.

do you think that is a love i could provide, or live with? i wonder what sort of person could think that that was an ideal. it is so stunted. what a small world they create for each other. but maybe mrs zen wants her world to be small, comprehensible. i do understand that. what i don't understand is why she thought i would be the man to build a gilded cage for her.

and for kids too, how is that? when i ask mrs zen about how her dad was when she was a kid, she says, he was never around. he was always working. he worked two jobs to get his money to retire with. so he was never around for mrs zen-in-law either. my heart aches for the lonely woman, away from her family, her community, everything she knew, deserted by the man she had sacrificed all that for. and it aches too for mrs zen, who suffered in an abyss of coldness, unable to learn to want anything more than to be loved, but unable to conceive of love as something bigger than the paltry matiness that her dad showed her mum.

my parents have a different relationship. they've never thought they were "everything for each other". i think my mum wanted that, but she never fooled herself that my dad was anything like that. he has obvious flaws, and their marriage was rocky. but she is still with him, and her life is full and mostly happy. she took the pragmatic approach to him: she could leave him, be on her own, be spared his moods, but she saw the good in him. he is generous and kind sometimes, decent to her mostly. although as a kid she had thought she would want to know every part of her man, she soon realised that that wasn't necessary for a life together. he has a private life, things she's not interested in. i think she learned to accept that because he was a sailor, away for months at a time, and if she had worried over much about what he was up to, she would have torn herself apart, because she had no way to find out.

so my view of people is simple. i do not hold them up to ideals and fret about their failings. if i did, i would never have married mrs zen. what irony, that if i was the person she wants me to be, i would never have bothered with her in the first place. but i did, because i'm not. i believe that people have lots of facets. let's say we each have a thousand. and a person might be 600 good facets, 350 meh, 40 slightly annoying, and 10 bad. that's a pretty decent person i've just described, someone it's possible to love, because for most people, the meh would be double, and the good much much less.

i don't claim to be all good. not even close. and of course i know that what you find good and bad differs, depending on how you judge it, how you feel about it. but i don't understand why you would crush yourself in thinking all the time about the few, often very few bad things, when there is good to think about. imagine doing that to your kids (one of my greatest fears is that mrs zen will do precisely that to our kids: she already feels the normal moodiness of a primary schoolkid to be a drastically bad phase in Zenella's life, rather than the strugglings of a sensitive kid to express herself).

my mum accepted my dad, or her relationship with him at least, because although she could clearly see the bad, she could see what was good in it. it makes for a more positive view on life, at least.

but mrs zen is all, you keep secrets, you shouted at me when we were on holiday. and it's true, i do and i did. the former is never changing. i have always been private, closed-in, and i like it that way. i am not going to become open like her dad, because i feel i have more than him, and part of having more is giving more, but keeping more too. and yeah, i shouted at her. she needled me and i yelled. i'm not proud of it, but i'm not a sulker or a brooder. things irritate me and they build up, and i need the means to release the tension. because i can't communicate with mrs zen (she refuses, insisting on making every conversation into a litany of my faults and past transgressions), i am stuck with negative feelings. which boil over from time to time. if our relationship was better, it wouldn't happen. it does not help that i have a baseline of resentment, which makes it a lot easier to be angry. that is not her fault, and i don't blame her. but you cannot dispel it overnight.

things had been getting a lot better. we were at least managing to live together fairly well, even if we were not communicating. but that was the problem, because i cannot talk to her about things like, she will tell the kids that they are going to the same school as Zenella, which horrifies me, because she has said she is committed to go to England, but how can she be if she will not tell the kids? and all she will say is that oh, they've always talked about going to that school, and she doesn't want to unsettle them. well, okay, but they are going to be unsettled! and getting used to it is part of making the unsettling bearable. so why lie to them? of course, i'm led to think that she is not committed to going there at all. then i am talking to her about work, and how i hate editing so much. which i do. i badly need a change. and i'm very aware that being committed to my responsibilities makes change very difficult, because i can't afford ever to transition to something else, and i'm stuck with editing. that's tough to bear. so i say to her that i want to learn TESOL, which i always have, and she says yeah, do that. but i can't. what's the point? i could never actually use the qualification. she won't even consider going somewhere that i could. she takes the negative view: the kids' schooling, a foreign environment, and so on. so this is one of the bad things about her, and i can't talk to her about how frustrating it is, because the conversation will quickly sidetrack into what's bad about me. and i'm thinking, your ideal man would just say we're going, and you'd go. you do not appreciate that you are married to someone who thinks you should have choices.

so what can i do? i do not have any way to express frustration. i do not have friends here who i can talk to. i do not have any artistic outlet. i don't like to blog about it, because there are lots of good things about mrs zen, but it's the nature of writing, news if you like, that you focus on the things that are wrong, astray, not the smoothnesses. and of course that is what mrs zen does, tells herself the news all the time, focusing on the bad, ignoring the good, so that her view is out of balance. she doesn't see a person with a thousand facets; she just feels the hurt.

but i do. i couldn't carry on a relationship with her if i didn't fundamentally believe that the good outweighed the bad. it doesn't now, i'll admit that. but it can. not just for me, but for her, and my kids. i do not think it can be fixed though, because there is something wrong at base: although i know i have flaws, and feel that i should and can fix them, mrs zen does not. she feels resentful and angry, but is not aware of her own part in her resentfulness and anger. i'm all too aware of mine, which allows me to feel forgiving and able to move on. but for her, she is just a woman wronged, not one with an opportunity, because love, for her, is two people who make each other's world narrow, not two people who help each other make the world huge. and how can i change that?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

musique non stop

so anyway, it's what is good time and this is good:

more than good, because i think for all that the Pixies were a great band (and they were, really, because you have probably forgotten how moribund rock was before they set it back alight), few bands took what they did onwards. maybe they realised how impossible a task that would be. anyway, Les Savy Fav made a good fist of it in their early days, and these days make just really good arty pop. which is a good thing, because the world should not be allowed to run thin on arty pop. and it won't, if Vampire Weekend have anything to do with it.

now you tell me, which of these is poppermost. this:

or this:

we're not looking for which is better, cleverer or you like it best. we're looking for which is the most pop, the one that you'd hear from more car stereos this summer. votes in the comments pls.

more arty pop in an electroclash stylee is Hot Chip. i'm in two minds whether i could get into this, but for wallpaper, it's okay:

more my cup of tea is Holy Fuck. this is more art than pop, but it's pretty funky for all that. you could probably shake your rump to this, if you like that kind of thing:

also rumpshakable is !!!, which sounds a lot like something else but you just can't put your finger on what. answers on a postcard:

much easier to place is Foals. they're Bloc Party meets Battles. they're not really in the class of Battles, who are just fantastic, but they easily beat Bloc Party's second album. but what doesn't?

it's not all funky. oh no. i haven't forgotten to metal it up from time to time. current favourites are very much Dillinger Escape Plan. they made their name with mathcore, which is way out in leftfield. actually, it's mostly off the pitch. it's all ultrafast chops and weird time signatures. but their most recent album, Ire works, branches out in a big way, with pop metal, IDM and postrock clashing on what is a tremendous album. a personal favourite is this:

recently, i've found most of the Brilliant Corners' early stuff online, and i can't tell you how happy that made me. thanks to matthias for uploading What's in a word? this is a bit later than that, but there isn't much on youtube. you'll get the idea though, although What's in a word? has more jangle and a lot more trumpet:

probably did this one before, but never mind. i'm putting it on just about every mixtape atm because it's my out and out favourite song. this month anyway.

finally, here is something late night and wonderful. switch the lights off, fire up a bowl and lay back. if this doesn't make you sigh a little, well, you and i are on different planets after all:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

run it twice

so anyway, i was thinking when Debbie finds out about his affair with Annik, she is grilling him and he says nothing, nothing at all. i am thinking that a lot of people watching that will sympathise with Debbie, and feel, you bastard, you can't even comfort her with an answer. but sometimes there is no good answer. and the villain of the piece, although it's an excusable villainy, is the person who will not accept that.

when mrs z found out about s, she wanted to know about her. i told her I would never say anything about her. i knew it would hurt her not to know, but if you have nothing private, there is no you distinct from the world you are in. i think mrs zen would say that she is comfortable with not having a private her in that sense, and does not have secrets. (although, now, she does have secrets, which is comic. she has a facebook account that i have never seen, and other forums she hangs out in and things she is doing that i don't know about. she thinks i should be jealous, and is hurt that i don't care.)

in Control, Curtis stands speechless. you do not feel that he is scared, although he flinches from Debbie, but that he could if he chose to answer, and he knows perfectly well what the answer could be, but it would not be good for Debbie, because it would be nothing she wanted to hear. later in the film, he does what he has refused to when Debbie first finds out, and lies to her, giving her the answer she wants: that he will dump Annik. i do not know if it is creditable that i said i would not stop talking to whoever i wanted online, and refused to answer any further. it would have been easier to lie, and she would, i don't doubt it, have got over it if i had lied. which is worse? the moral wrong of lying leading to a good outcome? a utilitarian wouldn't hang me for it. or the moral right of refusing to lie? the utilitarian might suggest that the outcome is bad enough to outweigh the moral wrong.

but we cannot know the future, and i saw a defining point in our relationship. i could lie and allow her to think i was the conventional, narrow soul she could happily love, or be tougher, and say if you want to love me, you will have to love me, not some image that if you squint you feel I might make a poorish fit for.

i know this is wrong; i do know it. the poor must compromise, because the world will not meet them halfway. i mean that if you lack power, you must not expect that you can bend the world to your will. even if you feel your will leads to a better life for all.

or is it right, and you must fight to make what you believe is right happen? how can we ever know? you do not get to run it twice.


so anyway, Closer is one of the great albums, a moment of perfection that few bands can dream of, let alone attain. side a (the first half for those of you who never had the record) is driving, doomy postpunk, but side b is something else altogether.

Now that I've realised how it's all gone wrong
Got to find some therapy, this treatment takes too long
Deep in the heart of where sympathy held sway
Got to find my destiny before it gets too late

it is also Ian Curtis' suicide note, some of the bleakest, most stirring poetry a lyricist has made. how does a man reach inside himself and find that?

i don't think you're any the wiser after watching Control, which was curiously hollow. i had no sense of who Curtis was. yet maybe this was the point, and i am not knocking the film on this account, because from what i know, this is how people felt about him. he was just an ordinary bloke, barring the epilepsy. quiet, a little moody, but not the tortured artist.

i cannot help feeling the resonances. i am a man from a small town that i wanted to escape, and i made bad choices that i cannot reconcile with who i am. Curtis struggled, or at least his wife Debbie makes out he does (the film is based on her book), to reconcile his conscience with his heart. he wanted to be a husband, a dad, a man, yet he couldn't stop loving the wrong woman.

the mistake he made was not to marry young though, so much as to marry the wrong sort of woman. Debbie clearly does not understand him or want to, and her idea of love is not to love who he is but to love in a radiative, broad but shallow way. is it understandable that he is attracted by a more exotic woman? the film really pushes the idea that he fell for Annik because she was alien to Macclesfield, willowy and clever, while Debbie was frumpy, burdened with a child. (i have to say, Samantha Morton is excellent as Debbie. she does not come from a privileged background, and you could feel her empathy for Debbie, her understanding.)

but Curtis was a poet, a Romantic, and wanted to feel it to the core. i am not excusing him, but i understand him. it's difficult to love someone who does not want you to be what you are, and only wants part of you, yet can't understand why you want to fulfil all of you.

Weary inside, now our heart's lost forever
Can't replace the fear or the thrill of the chase
These rituals showed up the door for our wanderings
Opened and shut, then slammed in our face

it is so difficult to love someone who does not even want to understand that, who does not want to read the message you are sending.

i found Control difficult to watch. a film about a man who does not feel he is leading his life, rather it is leading him, is too close to home. of course, i am not crushed by the weight of expectation, as he is. but the opposite hurts too: to have no one expect anything of you, to have no one want anything from you beyond the mundane.

do you know how disappointing that is? to feel you are capable of pulling down stars, but the people around you want candlelight?

i felt the key moment of the film, well, the moment with the most impact for me, came when Debbie and Ian went to a houseparty. Debbie and a mate are talking about Ian, how he is at ease at the party, which is something of a surprise, because we have the idea that he is a gauche, sensitive person. i am really feeling that, because i sometimes surprise mrs zen by being much more sociable than she credits. the mate says to Debbie, but he's pretty famous now though. and Debbie says, not to me he isn't.

that says it all to me.

the film closes on Atmosphere, one of the truly great pop songs. it is one of the songs that if you do not like it, the gulf between us is too great to be crossed. i am listening to it now, shivers running through me, a tear in my eye for Ian Curtis, 23 when he died, a soul in torment.

Walk in silence
Don't turn away, in silence
Your confusion
My illusion
Worn like a mask of self-hate
Confronts and then dies
Don't walk away