Friday, July 15, 2011

Combatwords, July 15, 2011: Balance

Combatwords, July 15, 2011: Balance

I was reading some scifi fascist—maybe it was Jerry Pournelle, maybe it was someone else—my point is that he made the creepy point that if the Western World (ie anyone who has the time and/or inclination to read/play Combatwords) truly wanted to throttle industrial/technical/economic competition, all we had to do was buy grain. If each of us bought an extra 10 kg of grain, we could kill the rest of the world by driving food prices so high, we wouldn’t need to worry about the deforestation of the Great Rift Valley, Iranian nukes, illegal immigration, or Chinese plastic.

I also read a great story by James Blish called ‘We All Die Naked.’ Extinction by garbage. Dine on neon shrimp before being buried in feces and ash tainted rubble (the shrimp are in the water… the shrimp shit in the water… we eat the shrimp… we shit in the water… the shrimp eat shit…). It’s like those tales of hoarders whose decades worth of newspapers topple and bury them alive, except it’s a whole civilization doing it. Those bottles and CDs that come with new hardware we’ve purchased must be balanced very carefully atop our desks of phones, books and dishes (if we’re slobs)(you are a slob)(I have spies everywhere). Aha! KW finally gets to the thesis of this week’s combat: balance.

The word ‘destabilizing’ is so context-specific, we almost don’t see it anymore. Yet, we often hear we’re in unstable times; that things are destabilizing (were they ever stable?). And it’s true. We aren’t on stable ground. You might say we’re standing on liquefying ‘deep shit’ and are trying to find a way to walk upon it, like mini-Jesuses (Jesii). So why not just make the topic ‘stability?’ Because ‘stability’ is a judgment—maybe not absolutely, but the word is laden with concepts I would just as soon subsume beneath the liquefying mountain called ‘balance.’

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 7/18/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 7/20/2011. Nobody (self included) has been doing critiques lately. Here’s a modest proposal: whoever does the most critiques this week, starts off with a base +1 for next week’s combat. I know! Reward people with more of something they’ve already demonstrated they don’t value!

Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 3pm PST, 7/15/2011; +1 if posted by 2am PST, 7/16/2011. -1 if posted by 6am PST, 7/20/2011; -2 if posted by 12pm PST, 7/20/2011

The Rules:

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  1. *Side note: This topic to me and your, what would you call it... ah perimeter description of the topic? It stabs close to the heart of some under-workings, some frame work of the state of our awareness and evolution and.... the part about being a slob.


    "Hey what?"

    "Look across the street over there by the stop light. That guy is humongous."

    Bob turned to look in the direction his cousin rob had directed him. There sitting at the street corner was a grossly fat man, maybe? it was hard to tell exactly being that he had boobs like some porn deva 30 years in retirement.The only articulating male factor apparent was the summer beard he displayed in patches. It giving the only outline of a chin against the flabby rolls of his neck that almost seemed to be swallowing his head. He was sitting in what looked like a specially made motorized wheel chair too. It was wide enough to easily fit two people side by side. As people walked by him and his extra wide chair they were making funny faces ,some covering there nose with there shirts. You could tell the proximity of the smell and it'd radiating source by the visual reactions of the multitude passing the fat man.
    Bob had a inward shiver looking at the man as he instantly found himself imagining what it must be like. That burdened, with that much weight, all the time. At that moment moment as if in reply to bob 's thoughts the fat man head made a slow turn to meet bob stare and smile. A real genuine smile. Not a smile as in defense to the stares other barrage of reactions probably received, but something confident, bob could not as yet comprehend. It completely nullified any sympathy he was feeling a moment ago.

    Rob turned to Bob as the fat man across the street went on his way through the heavy downtown sidewalk traffic and disappeared

    "Bet you are glad your not him?" rob said to bob and smiled

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  3. Pratyeka

    I carry my shopping bags straight to the second hand shop.
    I shit out my food the moment I’ve gobbled it up.
    Even better, the stove sits beside the rubbish bin.
    I’m bailing this ocean as fast as it’s trickling in.

    I knit at the same rate the sweater is being unraveled.
    I pay at the tollbooth, then hit the off ramp when I travel.
    One hand writes my memoir as fast as the other erases.
    I envy old Sisyphus, blissfully slaving in stasis.

    I skip from the table of contents straight to the appendix.
    I lose my paycheck to poker before I can cash it.
    Foreplay/orgasm conjoined by a single thin stroke.
    I overdose from my very first puff of smoke.

    The peaks get sanded down, troughs fill with sand.
    Erosion and gravity flatline the pulse of the land.
    Flip over my birth certificate to print my obituary.
    I’d get out of bed, but it strikes me as necessary.

  4. Combatwords, July 16, 2011

    I followed through the scrub and junk. He was waiting for me at the fence. Framed in the leaves, he stood, transfixed on the sparkling exhaust fumes which emanated from the soaring ramjets. It didn’t matter to him whether I was there or not. Yes, we were both caught in the muggy dream of the second sun. It being afternoon in the tropical season, the port was shrouded in hot fog. I wanted to fall in love at that moment and Bhaskhar was the best choice I had.

    Oh the sun! We are balanced between two stars. Oh the season! Caught between two climates: cold spring and tropical summer. Oh God! Why is there nothing better to do than sniff the radioactive exhaust of heaven? He turned his head to me for a moment and waved me closer; then he turned away to watch another ship launch. A ripe gourd fell at my feet and detonated, launching a thousand insects upon impact. Above us, I could see the bloatwood tree teetering, its branches full of parasite-filled fruit that trembled as rockets escaped.

    “We could go anywhere on one of those… even the future.”

    “We’re already in someone else’s future Bhaskhar.”

    Where is it better than here? What is there that’s better to do than leave home, explore for a bit, before returning?

    Bhaskhar bent the fence and we slid between the laser beams. I’ve been told that we live on a backwater. That there are planets with cybernetic guard cats at the ports. That it is permissible for a genius dog to own a retarded human on some planets and that human is a malleable term when it comes to dinner. I admired his long fingers as they programmed a disposable nano-lockpick and before I appreciated the gravity of our crime, he helped me into the spacecraft.

  5. “Where do you want to go Gladys?” Now we are taking off and now we are over the port. We could go somewhere new. Maybe start a life together (but I think of meeting a man I love better on a planet I love better, where everything will be better…).

    “It doesn’t matter,” I say. He launches us and we leave the valley and coast over the mountains. I listen to him tell me about his travels. He tells me of tricky contracts and one way trips. Hundreds of light years away, his wife died an old woman. Hundreds of light years away, his beloved baby son died an old man. Hundreds of light years away, he may have great-great grandchildren, but that of course, there is nothing to return to anymore. We skip the clouds, as a flat stone might on water. I see a waterfall and the notion seizes me that what I’ve been missing is connected to it. He tries to gently persuade me to leave this solar system before our crime is discovered, but I insist.

    “It will only be for a moment.”

    We land in the rainforest plateau. I still hear primates shriek and fleeing as we land. The bravest birds delay, waiting to see us first before they replace us in flight. I lead him to a clearing and we crush slow and sleeping birds the size of thumbnails, leaving a green trail of their coppery blood behind us. The air is heavy with what I imagine real love must feel like and when I settle down, Bhaskhar joins me. Wordlessly, I take his head and place it in my lap and we gaze at the stars; the distant, accessible stars. I hum a folksong that they’ve long since forgotten on Earth, a song my mother would sing to me:

    Devil on my left,
    Savior on my right,
    Row, row, row your boat gently
    Through this frightening night.
    Cowbirds flutter home to weep
    In marshes, where my child sleeps.
    The world around me’s paved,
    It seems
    My love the world’s become a grave
    And life is just our dreams.

    Time is so short, but we’re all we have for each other. I lean down to kiss him on the lips, but there is no passion in it any more than from a dog who licks your face to taste where you have been. We sleep an hour in the glade and I awake to see the weeds approach. They’ve covered up the sky, I turn and sleep some more. We spoon-embrace and tendrils grab my arms. At last we both awake a final time; both sewn together by the vines of a harmonious ecosystem: I strain to breathe through leaves that cover both my nose and mouth and reach an equilibrium at last.

  6. Angus: Cute, but didn't do anything for me. 0
    Toady: Some wittiness but repetitious. 0
    Nay: ??