Having dealt with political reform on the theoretical level, let us now look at Hitler’s ideas on the post-World War I Germany and its movements.

First off, it is clear that Hitler was anti-Communist. Following the lead of Russia, many Communists rose to power in the Red Party in post-war Germany. The appeal of this party was the same appeal as in Russia: increased ownership by the masses of property along with more equal rule and governance.

And time was ripe for a new political movement. The Germans were the main losers in the Treaty of Versailles. Not only were they forced to disarm their military, but they were slammed with huge reparations in the form of money payments. These two elements crippled the German economy and left many in a worse-than-Great-Depression state. This leads directly into why Hitler was so critical of the Jewish population. Many Jews came from Eastern Russia praising Communism, and many were bankers and other money holders.

For the first part, there were many Jews who were inherently Communistic based on their social values. For instance, if you look at Jesus (a very notable Jew), he advocated many of the same things Communists did: the giving up of property, the equality of people, and the freedom of the individual. All of these values are translatable into a Communistic scheme, and naturally adoption (whether directly or via proxy of society) is expected.

Second, the fact that many Jews were money holders in Germany has nothing to do with some source of power or tyranny. The fact is banking and money changing is a business (like any other business), and those who are successful are going to make money. In Catholicism (the ruling Abrahamic religion in Germany and I believe Hitler’s own), one is not allowed to collect interest from held money or basically hold any sort of debt over another. This naturally makes money changing a very difficult thing to make profit off of.

Taking these two factors–some Jews advocating for Communism while others clearly make money Capitalistically (though I am willing to venture they did not just hoard it)–it is easy to paint the picture of the money-grubbing Jew who is out to swindle and fool you. And that is exactly what Hitler aimed to do.

One of the most fundamental tenants of Nazism was based on the idea that the Jews are masters over the people and use the “Negroid” as muscle and leverage (Jews obviously, in Hitler’s equation, being weak and physically incapable of self-defense). This picture was the one that was illustrated over and over again in his speeches and visual propaganda.

But I find it hard to blame the Jewish people. In America, when one sees a niche, they are generally rewarded for filling it. Further, groups should not (though sometimes are) judged by the individuals who inhabit them. This fallacy can lead to strong prejudices that are unfair. But, all of these factors made the Jews an easy target.

This all leads to Hitler’s Final Solution: the extermination of the Jewish “race”. Among the many reforms he advocated for, as I will speak about later as well, the Final Solution of destroying the Jewish race (or at the very least kicking them out of Germany and sequestering them to Israel) was the most famous. I will also write more about this later.

The other part of German politics that really upset Hitler was Germany’s passive resistance to the Treaty of Versailles and the general judgment and condemnation of the nation for the war.

“Passive” protests, like sit-ins and labor strikes, were useless in his eyes. These sorts of protests ultimately failed to produce any results, and in reality, only ever affected things if the protests were elevated whether by incidence or coincidence.

Hitler’s reasoning was that while a labor strike may shut down a factory and send a message, it is futile as no amount of labor striking is going to bring back glory or power for Germany. And it was glory and power that Hitler believed that was robbed from Germany after the war. The demilitarization and the enormous debts were merely vehicles of that dishonor.

Hitler’s reasoning was that while a labor strike may shut down a factory and send a message, it is futile as no amount of labor striking is going to bring back glory or power for Germany. And it was glory and power that Hitler believed that was robbed from Germany after the war. The demilitarization and the enormous debts were merely vehicles of that dishonor.

I must agree with Hitler on this point. While one may definitely be able to send a message with protests, the actual meat of it is never demonstrated until the colors are shown. And to reveal one’s colors, they must come under fire.

This reminds me of one way writers help define their characters. If one is ever stuck in developing a personality, simply ask the question, “What will this person do in an emergency or dire situation?” This generally cultivates a true to life question that does more building and development of personality than any number of writing exercises (unless said exercises force said situations).

Thus, Hitler believed that these protests never quite put the German people “under the gun”. While such protests might be inconveniencing and bothersome, they will never quite show the determination and strength of a people.

One may argue at this point that many of the great Civil Rights movements in America occurred this way, but do not be too quick to overlook the action in these protests. When hosed with water cannons, for instance, the Black people got back up. When called upon to march, they marched from thousands of miles around. They got shot at–they were hunted. But they never quit. The German people, on the other hand, were more or less likely to back down at the first encroachments. Hitler would see the problem that the people, because of the politicians’ posturing, believed they had something to lose and they didn’t want to lose it.

Especially loathsome was what Hitler saw as parliament’s inability (or failure) to stand up to the world. The reigning philosophy of politicians at that time was to basically sit quietly and accept all punishments and slowly work to become part of the world again. In other words “be a good boy” and hope that the teacher eventually lets you sit back with the class again after having being sent to the back of the room. This fed into what I highlighted previously: the people believed they had something to lose, and being that they valued their own individuality over the nationstate, action was never taken.

In these beliefs, I would say Hitler probably had the right idea. If people feel no ties to their land or to their nation, they will not be apt to defend it. That is why Hitler advocated for propaganda that reinforced the idea of the nation being the most important thing in a person’s life (and its advancement would benefit all).

But the question is one of whether or not such binding would be justified in the sense that it would require almost blind dedication. One more than one occasion, Hitler “led the charge” in political rallies, but he was never quite blind. But he relied on more or less angry and unstoppable supporters. Before he had these supporters, he did not really have any power.

I am unsure what to think of this political power. While I can see how powerful blind devotion can be, I am not sure if the means justify the ends. This eternal question of metaphysical awareness haunts me and Hitler’s ambitions.

Extrapolating the situation, however, one can see how commitment to a cause is always in a sense “blind”.

Take this writing as an example. I write this to try and parse apart Hitler’s views for an audience and then give some background and some clarity to an otherwise muddied-by-history-and-perspective information (though in truth everything is muddied by history and perspective). I have a “blind commitment” to this idea as while I know there might be some reactions to it, I cannot guarantee it will have X or Y reactions. If my writing caused injury, murder, strife, havoc, it would definitely be without my intent. And this is exactly what being “blind” means.

Blind, when I say it, is not blind about what one is doing in the present, but what ramifications one’s actions will have in the future. And Hitler was attempting to inculcate this exact blindness because he believed people did not have the goals, foresight, or drive to make long-terms goals happen, and since nations required laser sharp focus, they did not have the ability to synchronize their actions for the “greatest good”.

And I suppose the “greatest good” in this case is arguable since truly good is often determined by interpretation from those in the future. Often what separates the brave and fearless from the idiots is success, and what separates the good from the evil is again the view from the future.

But was Hitler blind? His political reform to more involve the people yet keep them from true power fueled the Nazi movement, but the actions committed by many in that group are recorded and seen unfavorably. All the while, Hitler believed his solution was the best, but in the end, his reforms were seen as tyrannical and misguided. Perhaps the zeal is inspiring, but the failures are revealing.

This is what honestly scares me about Hitler: imagine if he won. History would go from seeing him as a blind but powerful warlord to a driven and successful leader of people. I know this is how history would be written because if he was successful, no other story would be told. His reforms would be seen an angelic, and his speeches would be taken as gospel. In essence, everything would be whitewashed and sanctified.

Even scarier is that we all do that now for many people. Often, in our histories and teachings, we tend to view things as either right or wrong. Contrast is often drawn sharply or not at all. It is hard to fathom a world where gray exists because it is exactly those dichotomies that we draw that guides us in our everyday actions. There is no debating whether or not to do something. It is either right or wrong and brain power can be spared in formulating a decision.

That was Hitler’s ultimate goal: paint the world as black and white as possible so he could best lead the people to what he saw as the best solution (the monoculturization–the cultural singularity). I want to say that he was wrong for doing so, for trying to dupe the people in some sense. But on the other hand, how often do we truly look at the grays in life? How often do we simply ruminate on the gray but act in the black or white? Can we blame someone whose vision aligned with our easiest and most common thoughts?

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First on the docket is political reform.

As I stated before, Hitler felt that parliamentary form was flawed. A large morass of incompetent people leads to stagnation and inaction. The best laid out plans fail because consensus is difficult to obtain, and follow through is almost non-existent. At least, that is what Hitler believed.

But is that not a similar belief many hold? When actions that may benefit a group are grounded due to general lack of diligence, is that not a problem? I think it is. There are two components to this problem.

First, we have the “too many cooks in the kitchen” problem. When so many have a stake in something’s success, it is hard to please all involved. That is because each person contributing may have a different goal in mind and achieving that single goal is more important to them than the goal of the collective (if there is one).

This problem can be seen in the ways the United States Congress functions. A bill, in order to win approval from two or more parties often requires “riders” or “dog ears” for groups. For instance, a rider related to Net Neutrality was attached to a bill about military and veterans of the military construction projects. This seemingly ridiculous construction then hits many hurdles in being passed because several different interests have crafted it and several groups are going to perceive it as positive or negative. Basically, minus a “final goal” or teleological end, group efforts fail.

The second problem is the Kitty Genovese effect. This effect relates to the diffusion of responsibility within a group of people. Theoretically, the more people witness to a situation requiring action to fix, the less chance any one of those people will take action to rectify it. This translates to parliamentarian effort as a larger group of parliamentary leaders may all identify a problem, but in believing that someone else will take up the buck, the responsibility for action is passed.

This also works in resistance to action. A single person may decide to try and fix a situation, but may meet resistance by a large group if that larger group was required to buy in to the action with action on their own accounts. And the larger the group, the more friction is there. This is also a portrayal of the herd effect where one “yes” or “no” can turn into a choir of such.

Hitler saw these two problems as the two real slowing and stopping points of beneficial action on the part of political leaders. Parliament lacked a grand scheme and goal, and because leaders knew other leaders had their own agendas that may coincide with their own, it was easier to sit back than to take the stand.

Reading Mein Kampf, one would believe that Hitler is the one to charge the ramparts and to stand alone. And video of him would show this. He often described times when he rose above a crowd and addressed them as a single person. He absorbed much of the responsibility of communicating to the people upon himself.

But at the same time, he also recognized that even if one person possesses a great strength in one or several areas, no person is an island. But Hitler had an interesting take on government size for this very reason.

First, Hitler saw the government of a nation (or of a people, as he would more likely point out) as a means for furthering the people’s strength in promoting racial superiority. The German government should care less about what a neighbor or rival nation is doing, and care more about the self-improvement and self-aggrandizement of its own people. For instance, one would not send aid to another country if one’s own country was suffering at all.

In this sense, Hitler saw the role of government as being one that promoted internal interests. This internal interest is in the physical advancement and growth of the people–not in ideal conquests shared with friends or neighbors.

What really struck me as refreshing about Hitler’s view on the government is that the solidarity and power of a nation can only be realized when the people within it are aligned and integrated (and bought into) the nation’s goals. This makes a lot of sense. Like many other philosophers, Hitler’s belief was that the integrity of the group relied on the integrity of each member within it. Discontent and squabbling on the inside will lead to a fractured and weak facade, and when that facade is ultimately where the power lies, the power is lost.

And this does not just apply to the Nazis. Take the Revolutionary War and the Vietnam War as examples. The Revolutionary War, for the Americans, totaled about 15,000 casualties from direct combat and conditions brought on by battle (dying as prisoners, from infections from wounds, diseases, etc.) Or, in other words, about 15% of the total free population in America at the time. The Vietnam War, on the other hand, caused only a mere .1% in war-related casualties. But what are the differences here?

First, we have an ideological difference in the wars. One was fought for “freedom,” while the other one was fought to preserve a way of life associated with said “freedom.” One was fought on American soil with a definite goal, the other fought on foreign soil with a general goal. One caused massive casualties as a percentage, the other caused relatively fewer casualties.

Yet the difference in the way each war is perceived is almost unfathomable. While no one will speak ill of most Vietnam veterans now, very few believe the war was a good idea to jump in to. Not only that, but because there was no clear goal (to stop the spread of Communism, sure, but there was no definite causal link that said one country would prevent the “Domino” effect).

But, when the American Revolutionary War is spoken about, most often it is with an air of reverence. The “Founding Fathers” of our country fought and campaigned (both in words and in guns) toward American independence, and while there are some who do not care as much, it is much rarer to find one who says that the American Revolutionary War was a mistake.

That is one reason Hitler was fond of America: up until that time, we had been able to focus our entire population on a goal, and once we achieved that goal, people were happy. In Germany, he felt like each war was like Vietnam for us: disenchanted people end up protesting it and weakening the efforts of the brave souls who fight it.

However, the difference is that unlike Vietnam, Germany (and Hitler) felt as if they were defending their rightful territory from the likes of France (the continental superpower at the time). And history would prove them right, in a sense: the Treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of some of its land holdings and imposed great punishments on it for inciting, inflaming, and in general propagating the war.

The idea of focusing the people on a singular goal is not merely a relic or tool of propagandistic dictators. Rather, it is the way leaders, throughout time and spaces, have achieved massive movements by focusing the people on a singular and “beneficial” goal that Hitler was interested in. And when you have a group like Parliament, who is supposed to represent myriad eclectic groups, you lose that ability.

And this is where Hitler’s formula comes in: the larger the group of people to govern, the smaller the governing group needs to be. It is an inverse formula. The idea is that a larger group needs a more narrow focus lest the focus is lost among the many voices and opinions. In other words, there needs to be a superfocused head of state who despite the many chefs runs the entire kitchen.

This idea is not new nor is it entirely unique to the Nazi party. Take, for example, Dell’s recent decision to privatize the company (again). Tired of the many directions and handlings by the Board of Directors (a large, amalgamous group of individuals with no necessary connections, common visions, or binding ties), they bought up all the stocks and reasserted control of the company. This of course lead to a central leader taking power. The goal of doing this was to refocus the company’s goals and centralize its decision-making processes as opposed to being left to the fate of the masses.

As good as this sounds, however, governance on such a scale may or may not be as messy. In an absolutely smaller group, this sort of leadership may be easily achievable and the most beneficial. But I do not believe that Hitler’s plan could ever be suitable for the world as it was (and is).

First, the world itself has far too many cultures/interest groups in order to be effectively governed by one person. This is my opinion and I base it on the fact that even if one was able to draft a statement that would work to the benefit of all people of all walks of life, enforcing and seeing such a monstrous statement through in all of its small goals would take one person, or even a small group, years upon years of direct oversight, and in a world of our size, such direct oversight would be impossible–period.

But I do not believe that was Hitler’s plan. I will talk more about this in the post about Race, but I think Hitler’s grand scheme would be to reduce the population of the world to only the superior beings. He many times said that racial purity of a master race was key to prosperity, and that mixing the master race with other races can only ever lead to an impure, weak race. The Final Solution may have started with the Jews and certain African people, but my guess is it would eventually entail anyone seen as “inferior”.

That wraps up part one of Political Reform. Part two will look more at the post-World War I Germany and what that meant for Hitler and what he believed it meant for the Third Reich.

Mein Kampf. The very name, at least for me, elicits a slight shudder and abhorred reverence. Much like reading the journal of the Devil himself. Or at least, that was how I felt going into it.

I want to lay all my cards out on the table before I begin. I believe in the Holocaust. I know Jews were persecuted, enslaved, tortured, worked, killed all under the watchful gaze of the Nazi party. Not only that, but numerous “inferior” races were also treated the same, and to a lesser degree, Japanese (and often anyone “Asian” and in the wrong place at the wrong time) in America.

I do not need to be told that these people were treated poorly and unfairly. I do not need to be told that what happened to them was an atrocity.

But, on the other hand, I knew going into this that this account was not going to be the mad cacklings of an insane man rubbing his hands together while recounting a plot to eliminate the human race. Thus, I did my best to employ my Philosopher brain to the situation, and with all my biases in hand and accounted for, I set forth into the world of Adolf Hitler.

Rather than jump right into one topic, I want to list exactly what Hitler wrote about with some general details.

1. Political reform

Hitler was mostly for reforming the political system because he felt the leaders in power were weak and passive. His constant example is their inability to stand up to what he saw (rightly or wrongly) as the bullying Germany received pre- and post-World War I. He believed Germany was unfairly “pushed” into the war by political pressure, and the politicians did little to actively avoid the war and better Germany.

After the war, his problem was that the politicians rolled over and basically allowed the victors to handle Germany any way they wanted. The problem, Hitler believed, was that the proper thing to do would be oppose the stringency, but he felt that the politicians at that time instead tried to win favor (and position) with the rest of the world by being complacent.

This complacency is also his big complaint in many other facets of life. He often reiterated that only through active resistance, combat, and blood can a race preserve itself.

2. Personal Reform

When I say personal reform, I mean changing the way people saw themselves. Hitler often said that the power of a people comes from inner worth and strength and not relying on organizations, devices, or powers to accomplish everything. While he said the power of an organization is on a few smart and capable individuals, those organizations nonetheless need the support of the unwavering and integral masses.

This was a big point for Hitler: while he recognized the power of rhetoric and speech (and he claimed, and history will show, that this was his strongest suit), it all was for naught if when the time came that the people fell away from the cause. He fully acknowledged that any sort of resistance is necessarily going to be physical, bodily, and possible fatal in many circumstances. But as I said before, he believed that to take and to have power requires spilt blood–both the enemy’s and the conqueror’s.

But, many people were too attached to ideas and leaching off the reassuring words of the passive-resistance politicians. He believed that people needed to see that their country and race would only be supported by personal strength. And toward this end, he recommended beefed up educational and physical fitness programs, along with a healthy dosing of military training (which he himself received and attributed much of his discipline to).

3. Educational Reform

This follows up on and plays off of personal reform. Hitler saw a failure in the educational system (the schools for the younger and the media/propaganda for the older) in reinforcing racial and national pride. Instead, he saw people becoming less and less affected by blood and land and more and more by “transient” ideals. These transient ideals are dangerous because it takes people’s minds off the concrete and places it in the fantastic.

Toward this end, as I said before, he believed that the educational system should be more narrow and focused on concrete skills and practical reasoning along with historical education that would celebrate Germany and the race inhabiting it.

4. Race

Obviously what Hitler is most notorious for bringing up, race played a big role in many of his beliefs.

Race formed the foundation and basic starting point for many of his arguments and ideas. In Hitler’s eyes, race transcended the what most would consider as basic, and was fundamentally tied to the land and the people around you. Hitler strongly believed that the Aryan race (loosely defined as white people of Northern Europe) was superior genetically, and when it mixed with any other race, it became weaker. His image was one of dilution.

Notably, the Jewish people were considered racially “bound” up into one conception. Hitler never says that Jew means someone from cultural Israel or that area, but anybody who converts to Judaism the religion is now racially “Jewish” in his eyes.

Race, however, had many fast and loose definitions. The “Negroid” was an inferior race, but there was no explanation as to why or what delineated a “negroid” from an “oriental” (more classically someone from North/Northeast Africa or the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe/Balkans). These races can mix and mingle, but for the most part, he makes broad, sweeping strokes.

5. Communism (Marxism)

One of Hitler’s biggest complaints is that Marxism (and Bolshevism) degenerates a society because it again shifts the focus from a race/country and moves it toward an ideal that sees above it. Yet at the same time, he also is against Democracy and Socialism in the sense that people are equal and basically the same.

This strong dislike of Marxism then makes sense in the context that Hitler believed there are people who are superior, and those who are inferior, and while you can train and prepare somebody, there will always be a physical bottleneck that will naturally limit the growth of an individual.

Marxism also represented a revolutionary force that did not take with force nor act with force, but rather was a secretive, disruptive force that worked in passive action and in shadows. Basically, it was the creeping crud or slow disease that overwhelmed people because it called on so little other than people “wanting more” and not acting upon what he believed were other real, physical differences.

6. Art (and Propaganda)

Linked more to his personal life, Hitler wrote about art, and linked to his political life, Hitler spoke about Propaganda (and speechmaking, newsmaking, flyermaking, etc.).

Hitler fancied himself to be quite the classical artist (think pre-Renaissance up to English Romanticism). But he believed it was a skill that required work, but also something that only certain people possess. Lesser people can acquire the mechanical skills to render the same images, words, or sounds as others, but true craftsmen are practiced as well as gifted. Hitler believed he was both.

He also believed that such skills are secondary. He was not a believer in the primacy of the arts. Rather, artistic talent, while making a person more valuable, should be secondary to some more positive contribution to the national good. Thus, if an artist wishes to have some value in society, they need to contribute their work toward the good of the race and nation, and not use their skills to elevate ugly/bad ideas and images.

As for propaganda, Hitler was no fool. He knew the efficacy of propaganda and speechmaking in its most primitive forms. There is no ambivalence in Hitler’s thoughts on the subject: propaganda was simplistic and often exaggerated, repetitive and prolific. Propaganda is not fodder for intellectuals; propaganda is a tool used to convert the common people and simpletons. Not everyone is an intellectual, a scholar, or someone who can debate the finer points of academia, and Hitler acknowledged this.

This thought is reflected in the way he would give speeches. Hitler wrote speeches and practiced them not to expound the fine details of his schemes, but to light fires in the hearts of people. Speeches were meant to draw specific, powerful, emotional, and transient responses, and propaganda was meant to enforce that message outside of the speech halls. The books and the finer details were left for the intellectuals and leaders who would need such to distill information to the masses and combat opponents in debates (though this value was even minor as Hitler saw value in physical masses as opposed to ideological victories).

In the following weeks I will write about these topics–hopefully at least one full post for each.

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This is the group “Smashing Pumpkins.”

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This is also “Smashing Pumpkins”.

By now you will have noticed that these pictures are composed of two separate groups of people who have but one common trait: Billy Corgan (whose hair goes from long and red to short and non-existent–he had a receding hairline that got the hell out of Dodge).

Anyway, the point here is that both of these pictures represent what Billy would want to see as a continuum of the Smashing Pumpkins namesake and feel.

Smashing Pumpkins at one point was a rambunctious group of teenagers who wrapped themselves in saran wrap and dunked themselves in bath tubs, repainted ice cream trucks in the desert, and flew across the sky on clouds in front of an anthropomorphic moon.

Smashing Pumpkins is also a group of aspiring artists who make comebacks, get fat, hire 17 year old drummers, and make albums within albums and release them for free proclaiming one day all music will be free, but then having awesome record/item combo packs on sale.

In short, Smashing Pumpkins has changed. But the question, and the theme, is how this identity is formed and what made it up.

To continue with this example, I say I love Smashing Pumpkin’s music. And when I say this, I mean you can put on “Gish”, their first big commercial album from 1991, or their newest album “Oceania”, and I would recognize the song, most likely enjoy it, and attribute it to the same group. I would say that if someone put a gun to my head, I would say that the original incarnation of Smashing Pumpkins is still around to this day.

“But Sam,” you scream, “without James and Jimmy and that crackhead D’Arcy (or the very least Melissa auf der Mar), Smashing Pumpkins is not the same!” To which I would reply: “Smashing Pumpkins is not in any particular configuration of single members, but in the feeling I get when I listen to them, to the identity I bring to that group of people.”

This is significant. This means that Smashing Pumpkins is not a matter of utilizing this or that musical technique, or having a particular female on bass, or having Jimmy Chamberlain pounding them drums. Rather, Smashing Pumpkins is in the feeling I get when I hear the music that I can ascribe to that grouping of particulars.

On the other hand, someone might find it hard to believe that in such a big change of “what” that the “who” can stay the same or be regarded as the same. This is the crux.

For me (and Derrida, and some other Postmoderns, though this is inconsequential to the argument), when you grasp something, you are grasping one of two parts: either the “what” or the “who”. Further, I believe when you desire something, you desire the “what,” while when you love something, you love the “who”. And this is where love and identity come into play.

I love the Smashing Pumpkins: the feeling “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” pumps through me, the cynical rage of “Geek USA”, the melodic beauty of “Quasar”. I connect with these songs on many levels and they evoke emotions and reactions I cannot get anywhere else. Yet sometimes I also desire and lust after things: the hardcore drumming of Jimmy Chamberlain, some ripping solos a la “Tales of a Scorched Earth”, the clear and lulling sound of James Iha’s voice. But these are two different things: my love encompasses a whole group of experiences and ideas and labels I amend to the stimulus; the lust is a desirous feeling for a certain aspect or attribute. And unlike love, I can lust after something, attain it, and want it no more. The love, however, does not die.

I believe this is because love is a “full body” experience in that no particular one trait on its own stands out. No particular one attribute is distinct in the relief. Rather, it is the way they are grouped and understood that makes them worthy of love.

Lust, and desire, on the other hand, is more of an accounting for or “taking stock” of what there is to offer. If I lust after heavy metal, I may not even turn on Smashing Pumpkins. But that does not diminish my love for them–it merely represents my wants at that point. I need to account for this desire to hear thrashing guitar and power drums, and in itemizing Smashing Pumpkins (in breaking them down from “who” to “what”) I cannot always get that particular satisfaction.

Now you are sick of hearing about Smashing Pumpkins, so let us move on to people.

I dunno about you all, but when I love someone, it is not a particular set of traits I can describe that provoke my love. Have you ever noticed this in yourself? Has a significant other asked “what do you love about me?” and the list is hard to ascribe? I think this is because love is again not about certain traits or aspects, but the grouping and the interaction of the totality of parts.

Or, to go further, think about how love changes one’s perceptions. For instance, it is said that love is blind. I agree and disagree: as you grow to love something, your desires begin to manifest around what parts of that love you can make out. This is why many say that there partner is the “most beautiful” person they know: their idea of beauty, what they desire or lust after, has been molded by this love. Sure, he is no Brad Pitt, but you don’t love Brad Pitt (you simply lust after his moustache and body from Fight Club).

This follows that when we love, we do not love certain features or aspects of someone, but their entire identity. They represent, in their amalgamated whole, that which sparks our love.

Can love follow from lust? Can an itemized “accounting for” develop into an overarching “impression of”? Can Sam end sentences, nay, whole articles, with prepositional phrases? Tune in next time to find out what it is about.

I really wish I knew when this happened.

I woke up today and looked in the mirror and noticed something: wrinkles. Now, don’t get me wrong–I can care less about wrinkles–but this told me something: I am getting older. The funny thing is, I can’t remember when this happened.

It’s like I went to sleep last night and the old age fairy came and waved his/her magic wand over me and when I woke up, a sensation of age gripped me.

Again, the feeling is not completely physical: people getting married, having babies, running companies. They are (were?) the same age I am, yet life seems to have accelerated in the last few years.

I think the biggest factor is the change in attitude. I used to think that life was happening all around me and I was just Sam–same ol’ Sam the steady horse. No matter what was happening, Sam was always Sam and Sam had a pretty good lock on things in not having a solid lock on things, if that makes sense.

If it doesn’t, consider this example: I would always immerse myself in what I was reading and let the magic of it overtake me. If I was reading Feminist literature, even if it was the most outrageous, strong, anti-Society Feminist writing, I would put myself in the position of the author and let the feeling of it take me over. I, for that moment, became the author and imagined what it would be like to feel the way they do–to see things the way they do. Even if at the end of the day I did not fully agree or act upon what I read, I still put myself in the position of the author in all of its glory.

Now I find myself resisting and pushing against what I may not agree completely with. I mean, I do not completely push back (the old way is still there), but I find myself unwilling to put myself in that position. And this makes me very, very sad.

Or, another example: today I was buttoning up (I know, buttoning up) my shirt for work and I realized that I no longer consider this a work shirt, but the shirt I wear to work. “But that is the same thing,” you might say. Wrong.

Young Sam had many roles, guises, fascinations, ideas, fantasies and in general things to discover and ponder. Old Sam accepts things for what they are. Life has become less of a discovery, and more of an adaptation. The work shirt was a segregated, separate avenue of life that did not mingle with the other avenues. Sam was still young and still ensconced in the joys of a life varied. Old Sam accepts life the way it is, and now has the shirt he wear to work.

All this talk reminds me of what a coworker once said to an aspiring apprentice in the pipefitting trade: your young, and you will get that itch to get up and go, and you should do that while you are young. The implication is when you get old, you will get used to things and not want to explore or change.

This resonates with me as I feel that urge: to go out, do different things, explore different possibilities. I feel like that is Young Sam trying to break through the mold. But Old Sam tempers Young Sam: what are you going to do for money? How will you eat? Where will you sleep? What about those bills? Young Sam doesn’t care–that stuff always found a way to be taken care of–but Old Sam (fortunately or unfortunately) foresight and will not allow such issues to fall by the wayside.

Get a new job? Young Sam finds that to be an awesome challenge and opportunity. Imagine all the different things you will learn, the people you will meet, the challenges you will face. To squash that enthusiasm comes Old Sam. And where will you live? Just pack up and move? Pfft. And what about career prospects? A little bit of time at a place does not look good on that resume. And you already have some contracts out; will you break those? Sigh.

When I looked in the mirror, at my relatively young, but aging eyes, I wondered what happens to everyone when the moment comes where one or the other must prevail. Confucius said that the person who failed is the person who lost their inner child: the one child that feels the need to explore, learn, and create. If Young Sam is that inner child, and Old Sam is the rationalizing adult, where does that leave me?

I do not look forward to the inner combat these two will generate. Getting old sucks.

The drive home from my gym is short (10 minutes short) but I enjoy it nonetheless. I am completely wiped yet high on endorphins and I am looking forward to crashing at night. But, there is one other attraction: the woman running on the side of the road.

Allow me to explain. She is short (couldn’t be taller than five and a half) and it would surprise me if she weighed an ounce more than a buck twenty (I’d say fifteen if I were gambling man). She is skinny, olive-skinned, and her brownish black hair is always pulled back into a ponytail that falls to her midback. Her attire is typical: cheap, 70’s-high-school-gym-class style shorts with a non-descript white t-shirt. But goddamnit if she didn’t have the fiercest, most-determined look on her face.

I cannot explain it. Her body is waif-like, but her stride is that like a warrior. Of course she doesn’t wear make up, but no amount of paint would mask that anger, that power–that conviction. 

And it is sexy. She looks to be in her mid-thirties, and she does not wear make up, but the raw power, the nearly palpable flame that burns in her heart, shines like a beacon in the night.

Looking upon her effort and her perpetual scowl (I have passed her numerous time in my car), I could only hope to catch a spark of the inferno that burns in the pit of her belly. I could only hope one day that the same Grim Reaper clutch of the heart that must surely fuel her passion would one day infect me.

I wouldn’t dare stand in her way: I imagine she would yell “get the fuck outta my way” and then summarily level me with a front kick. And despite being a good head taller than her, I have no doubt she would plant her foot square in my chest. Hell, I imagine she tracks and hunts small vermin on her run–as much for pleasure as for sustenance (I would not be surprised to see her chowing down on some squirrel).

And I find myself compelled by this. I wish I could stop her and ask who she is and what she is running from or chasing. I wish I could peak in on that treasure, that mind, and discover the golden glow in the suitcase. But, since I am fairly sure the only way to stop this woman would be to hit her with my car (and even that may be risky–for my car), I do not know if that will ever happen.

If you happen to upon this post, jogging woman, know that you have a fan.

I secretly embarked on my April self experiment last week and have not written about it. Until now.

People who know me know that I enjoy my computer: watching videos, playing games, reading articles, etc. However, is too much of something a bad thing?

Well, yes, of course it can be. Duh. But, more accurately: combined with my computer dependency at work, is using my computer at home, every day, too much?

The basic working of this experiment is that I did not watch TV nor use my computer for a whole week (Sunday to Monday). This cut down on my use time by about 30 hours over the course of the week (no number to scoff at).

What happened? Well, to be honest, it was actually liberating. I focused more on other tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. I felt better with less pressure (no having to wake up early enough to watch an episode of Star Trek before work).

The biggest benefit was that I read more. A lot more. I mean, a lot. And the reading was pretty absorbing. I didn’t miss playing a video game when I immersed myself in the written word, and this really opened my eyes.

The eye-opening revelation was that reading is still magical. I believed that reading is something I do to fill the time, but I realized it still has the power to grip me and excite me. It still opens me to the wonders of other ideas. And sure, you might feel this way or get a brush of this reading news online or research-based articles on different subjects (I know I do), but there was something moving about sitting down with a book and not just filling time but truly grokking the words.

This makes me happy. It almost made me want to leave my computer off permanently. It almost made me cancel my internet at home, by a nice lounge, and expand my library.

Yet, I hold my hand. Balance, I believe, is more of the moderate solution. I think what I learned from this experiment is that sometimes we should step back from a habit or custom and try something new or different–see what inspiration it might breathe into your life.