Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dostoevsky the Russian Bukowski

There's a great opening line in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude that goes “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

In the case of Dostoevsky it was almost literally true. He was arrested for his involvement with a secret society of liberal utopians and a literary discussion group. He and other members were sentenced to death by firing squad. At the last moment Tsar Nicholas I arrived at the scene of the firing squad and commuted the sentence to four years of hard labor in Siberia.

After he was released, he was forced to serve in the army, but was discharged due to ill health and epileptic seizures. He found work as a journalist, but developed a gambling addiction, and went through a time where he had to beg for money. Through the sheer volume of his work, he became one of the most widely read authors. He influenced Chekhov, James Joyce, Hemingway, and Sartre, among others.

You can add Bukowski to the list of writers that he influenced. Bukowski wrote a poem about "Dostoevsky against the wall, the firing squad ready." Bukowski was thankful Dostoevksy got a reprieve because it was Dostoevksy that got Bukowski "through the factories" and lifted him "high through the night" and put him "down in a better place."

Some people have gods and others have writers.

Something Wonderful:

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
-Carl Sagan (Cosmos, 1980)

It took thirty years, but finally Randall was rezzed.


You are doing great. Even in this terrible moment you are amazing. It's a miracle that you haven't already killed yourself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Prayer for Owen Meany

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
That's a great opening paragraph for a novel. I could tell you why the narrator is a Christian and how Owen Meany was the instrument of his mother's death, but I don't want to spoil it for you. It's a sad and moving story.


I'm not saying I'm Superman, but nobody has ever seen Randall and Superman together.

Ugly Angels

Roaches are ugly angels sent to protect us. Raindrops are the tears of a lost god. And all problems are just situations waiting to unravel their magic.
-James Altucher

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reflected Beauty:

The story of Narcissus is a legend of Greek mythology known by almost everyone. Not as widely known is how Oscar Wilde changed the ending. According to him when Narcissus died, the pool where Narcissus had gazed at his image wept. So many tears were shed that the pool had become salty.

The goddesses of the woods told the pool that they understood its grief. They could only run after Narcissus through the forest, but the pool could gaze upon his beauty close up.
"But was Narcissus beautiful?" asked the pool.

Of course, replied the goddesses, astonished at the question.

After a moment, the pool explained:

"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that he was beautiful. I weep for him because whenever he lay on my banks and looked into my waters, I could see my own beauty reflected in his eyes."

The Basic Questions:

Who am I? What am I searching for? Where am I headed?

The closest I came to answering these questions was when I talked with Sumire. More than I talking about myself, though, I listened attentively to her, to what she said. She threw all sorts of questions my way, and if I couldn't come up with an answer or if my response didn't make sense, you'd better believe she let me know. Unlike other people she honestly, sincerely, wanted to hear what I had to say. 
-Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sputnik Sweetheart

In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life. An intense love, a veritable tornado sweeping across the plains - flattening everything in its path, tossing things up in the air, ripping them to shreds, crushing them to bits. The tornado's intensity doesn't abate for a second as it blasts across the ocean, laying waste to Angkor Wat, incinerating an Indian jungle, tigers and all, transforming itself into a Persian desert sandstorm, burying an exotic fortress city under a sea of sand. In short, a love of truly monumental proportions.
 And with those opening lines, Haruki Murakami hooks me once again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why Create Art?

Take a look at this painting of a bison from the wall of a cave in Spain:

It's estimated to have been painted somewhere between 11,000 to 19,000 years ago, when ice sheets covered most of the earth and before humans invented writing. It must have been painted by firelight, because it's deep in a cave.

Why do you think the painter was compelled to create it? Do you think the painter had any idea that thousands of years later humans would look at the painting and wonder about it?

Isn't all art like that? You take a photo or write something and you never know who will see it and what impact it will have. Maybe nobody will see it or take note for thousands of years or maybe never and yet the artist persists.

I think the painter was saying "I was here and this is what I saw."

Inspired By Raine Sunflower

The Linden gods could never control Randall, the best they could ever hope for was to contain him.
 Raine isn't a wallflower, she's a sunflower.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inspired by Fight Club

The first rule of Second Life is that we don't talk about our age.
The second rule of Second Life is that we don't talk about the first rule.
 I may use this the next time someone asks me my age or where I'm from:

Redacted: Where are you from?

Randall Ahren: The 1st rule of SL is that we don't talk about where we're from.

Redacted: I haven't heard that before.

Randall Ahren: That's because of the 2nd rule.

Redacted: What's that?

Randall Ahren: We don't talk about the 1st rule.

Inspired By Ceka Cianci:

If Second Life seems boring, it's because Randall Ahren isn't on online.

/me laughs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good Suggestion?

Someone suggested that I add this to my profile:

Chuck Norris wanted to join SL but Randall frowned.

I'm shooting for more of a semi-crazy shtick, rather than god-like. So I'm thinking a line more like:

The voices speak only to him.

Sometimes you have to pretend to be crazy to say things you wouldn't dare say sane.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Charlie, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it:

Patrick: You see things and you understand. You're a wallflower.

Charlie: I didn't think anyone noticed me.

Patrick:  We didn't think there was anyone cool left to meet.

One of the reviews on IMDB said the film wasn't as dark as the book. I may have to read the book now. I just watched the film in SL. It'll make you cry. Two thumbs up.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't Stop Believing

One of my profile picks is entitled "Believing". It's about giving up a belief about something being impossible. It concerned the quest for the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes. For decades, humans had attempted to run a sub-four minute mile. When it was finally accomplished in 1954, another runner managed to do it a mere 56 days later. Within three years, 16 other runners had accomplished the feat.

This was many years before the founding of Nike or Reebok. Hence, the sudden appearance of numerous sub-four minute milers was not due to improved running shoes. What happened is that they gave up a belief about it being impossible because they knew someone had done it.

A question posed on Quora made me think of that. The question was why the US was such a good place for start-ups, especially Silicon Valley. Robert Scoble provided the most highly rated answer listing nine reasons, such as access to funding and talent and so forth. He concluded however after these nine reasons, that the main thing is belief. People are surrounded with examples of successful start-ups. They believe it can be done because they've seen it accomplished many times. As Robert Scoble wrote:
It's the belief that really gets things going here. That causes people to take risks (and be backed up by friends, family, and community). That rarely happens around the world.
I suppose the reverse is also often true. If you believe you live somewhere where people can't get ahead because there are too many taxes, regulations, expenses, or whatever, you won't even try. Your belief system can cause you to wake up everyday in the wrong universe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Favorite American Idol Contestant

After Charlie Askew's last performance on American Idol, he became my favorite contestant. His rendition and lead into Somebody That I Used To Know was spectacular. But it was this exchange with Nicki Minaj after the performance that really made it memorable:

Nicki: "Charlie, I am obsessed with you."

Charlie: "Baby, I could say the same thing."

Nicki: "You have this quirky thing that is so odd, it's right."

Charlie: "I glorify weirdness."

Even his name is cool. He's so askew.

What's The Deal With Creativity?

What's the point of creativity? Why do people filled compelled to create? Why does it feel so special when something you created is liked by a lot of other people? Does it feel like being loved? Is that why people create, because they want more love?

Do animals create? Don't some animals need love? It turns out that chimpanzees will create pictures if you give them some paint. I googled it. The pictures are abstract, but sometimes quite beautiful. It would be more interesting if they painted pictures of recognizable objects, such as other chimps or flowers.

Is creativity connected to a need for immortality? To extend your reach past the grave? So if you die, your paintings or photos live on and people wonder who you are or were? I think there is definitely a lot of that connected to creativity. Jack Kerouac claimed to have written On The Road because we're all going to die.

Finally, is there such a thing as artificial creativity? There are computers that play chess and other games of logic quite skillfully, but can they said to be creative? A computer doesn't need love unless it's been programmed into the machine, so I wouldn't expect to see a lot creativity from a computer. It's not worried about dying or being loved, unlike a human.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I like comedians. They make me laugh. I would like to be one. My current favorite is Louis C.K. I like his standup, not his TV show.

There is a comedian I remember well from the Last Comic Standing TV reality show competition from a few yeas ago, Mike DeStefano. I remember him for two reasons. First, he was good and his humor was edgy, there was a darkness to it. Second, because he died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after the competition. He was 44.

About a year ago, I learned something new about him. His wife died earlier of AIDS. He himself was HIV positive. They both had a history of drug abuse and met as recovering addicts. Shortly before his death, in an interview he related how he visited his wife who was in an hospice. He had arrived on a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and she wanted to go for a ride. So he takes her, but she's hooked to a morphine drip with a bag hanging from a pole supported on four poles:
She’s holding the pole! Marc, it was a pole with four wheels on the bottom, and we’re riding around this hospice, and you could hear the goddamn wheels jangling and banging; it was insane.

And then I pass the front door, and all these nurses are standing out front, and they’re all crying. They’re watching us, and they’re crying. And I didn’t know why they were crying. I was like, Why are they crying? I didn’t get what they were seeing. I didn’t know. Because I was just in it; I was living it. I knew my wife who had suffered, she was a prostitute, she was a freakin’ heroin addict, she was beaten by pimps — this was her past — and then she ends up with AIDS, and she’s dying, and all she wants is a goddamn ride on my motorcycle.
It was the last thing he did with her. He thought the greatest thing that he had ever done was to care for his wife.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ever Wanted to Run Away?

I contemplated running away a few times when I was a child. Now I'm an adult and I still think about it. But when you're an adult, it isn't called running away. It's called abandoning your family. And I would face the same problems I had when I was younger: the circus doesn't need another sad clown.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How Long to Understand Someone?

"Ten minutes, please. That's all we need to understand each other." Her voice was low and soft but otherwise nondescript.

"Understand each other?"

"Each each other's feelings."
That's how Haruki Murakami starts The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. He hooked me right there. I had to keep reading to find out who this strange female caller is and why she thinks ten minutes is enough to understand someone.

I'll let you know what I find out.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Soul Sucking

I stumbled across a fascinating poetess. She publishes under the name of Coco J. Ginger. Her blog is appropriately named Courting Madness. Here's a brief sample of some of her work:
How do I feel? I cannot tell you. My blood is electricity.
He sucked out my soul and wrote his brilliance upon it.
He blew it back, preventing breath, choking me—
She makes having your soul sucked out seem rather interesting. I've had my soul sucked out, though. It's called working at a stupid, dehumanizing job, and pretending you like it. There's nothing interesting about it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Don't worry. If you get tired, we'll switch and I'll carry you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where is the Border?

Hoshino: But how can you speak human language?

Cat: I can't.

Hoshino: I don't get it. How are we able to carry on a conversation like this? A human and a cat?

Cat: We're on the border of this world, speaking a common language. That's all.

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art."
-Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy
I think that's true to a large extent. Bukowski was quite the misogynist. In one of his stories he writes about hitting his lover and breaking her false teeth. He then tries to fix her dentures with glue.

And who is Roman Payne? He's a modern-day Hemingway or Kerouac. Take a look at a his photo. Doesn't his hair remind you of Kerouac? Roman traveled around the US for a few years writing, sold some of his work, and then decided he was moving to France. He's been living and writing in France since 1999.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka, in everybody's life there's a point of no return. And in very a very few cases, a point where you can't go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That's how we survive.
-Haruki Murakami
Not only am I unable to go forward anymore, I seem to be going backwards!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Talking With God

I talked with god tonight. It made me very happy. In the old days this was called praying. In modern terminology, it's known as communing with the universe. The really trippy part is when god replies. You have to keep that to yourself or you could end up in a mental institution. It's called hearing voices. The medical term is "auditory delusions."

So what did god say to me? Angels don't really exist. It's a myth. But, there are some people who are so kind and caring, that they might as well be angels.