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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Victus in Aughts; Invictus TK!

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State-dependent memory is a phenomenon that at least partly explains why ones life, when viewed from the perspective of current happiness and triumph, seems to have been always thus; likewise, present suckiness seems to trigger recollections of nothing but former suckiness, thus lending the impression that it's all been a Full Catastrophe from the get-go.

[ame=""]YouTube- Zorba - "the full catastrophe"[/ame]

No stranger, me, to state-dependent memory's bamboozling effects in both the up-and-down directions, as well as the full catastrophe's dual nature, for without said catastrophe, would there be any point whatsoever?

[ame=""]YouTube- Peggy Lee - ♫ Is That All There Is ♫[/ame]

It is against this waffling backdrop (Life tastes great! Life's less filling! Tastes great! Less filling!) that I momentarily cast aside the feigned cheerfulness of recent vlogs to assess the Aughts.

My knee jerk analysis here is that the decade between Y2K's unfulfilled promise of global high tech disaster to 2009's unfulfilled swine flu monster plague, and all the pointless if passionate rancor in between, has been the most dispiriting decade in memory.

I'm not much of a reader of literature myself, but every once in a while, I will read something that strikes me as particularly insightful. The following quote, by Louis Ferdinand Celine, seems to my state-dependent-melancholic side to perfectly sum up the past ten years and the effect this has had on me and all my grubby personal aspirations, career and otherwise:

I didnt understand. I was being hornswoggled by everything and everybody, women, money, and ideas. I was a sucker, and I didnt like it. I still run into Musyne now and then, every two years or so she crosses my path, as people one has known well tend to. Two years is the time it takes to perceive at one glance, a glance as sure as instinct, the ugliness that can come over a face, even one that was delicious in its day.

For a moment you hesitate, then you accept the face as it has become, with its repugnant cumulative disharmony. What can you do but acquiesce in this slow, painstaking caricature which two years have etched, but accept the passage of time, that portrait of ourselves. Then we can say that weve really recognized each other (like some foreign banknote that one hesitates to accept at first sight), that we hadnt taken a wrong turn, that each on his own wed traveled the right road, the inevitable road to decay, for another two years. Thats all there is to it.

But then I ask myself, is such a view of the past ten years really accurate? Or is what is actually hornswaggling me not so much money and ideas and all the other literal and metaphorical Musynes of the world, but rather my own sense of X--whatever X might be, character defect or unreasonable sense of entitlement or some other thing that cries out to be filled, or perhaps more accurately, plugged?

If forced to make a list of my personal ups and downs of the Aughts, the former would clearly outnumber the latter. In early 2000, for example, I got to go to the jungles of Ecuador and made it out without being speared by the Taigeri; in late 2009 I got to go blindfolded into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area and made it out without being disembowled by wolverines.

In between, I enjoyed innumerable other little adventures, and if the price for doing so was to have to write, then rewrite, about these experiences, only an utter ingrate would complain too much. I watched my beloved sons grow into young men, and made a number of wonderful friends--many of them among the incredibly likable ranks of USMS. Along these line, I managed, by fluke of the timing of national meets, to place 4th in the World in a couple FINA masters tabulations (twice in LCM and once in SCM).

Throughout the decade, I suspect I have worried more than perhaps the average fellow that something horrible might happen. But these worries, for the most part--no, for the entire part--have come to naught.

Into every life, some rain must fall--but realistically looking at things, there was no more rain falling in mine from 2000 to 2009 than in any preceding decade.

In fact, were my present (and transiently disconcerting, I admit!) circumstances just a wee bit rosier, I dare say it would be easy to sum up the past decade as the best decade in the history of the world.

Of course, you cannot always be making love to a young Ursula Andress while simultaneously eating a Baby Ruth candy bar and taking a phone call from the National Magazine Awards committee informing you of your lifetime achievement award--or similar set of circumstances that, for me, at least, tends to recallibrate my own state dependent memory in another direction entirely.

Still, there is no reason besides fear itself to imagine that the coming decade will be anything but a new grand adventure for us all, with worries as always but worries that invariably come to naught--a bit of endurance and ability to cope with a bit of pain, the hallmarks of swimmers, to be sure: best wishes for the teens, or whatever the next decade is likely to be called.

[ame=""]YouTube- Celebration - Ronald Bell (Greatest Hits)[/ame]

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  1. pwb's Avatar
    A grand new adventure indeed is ahead of us. The 10s will be better than the aughts.
  2. Kurt Dickson's Avatar
    "the full catastrophe" indeed; I liked where you were going, then you got all positive on me at the end. Embrace the "suckiness"--BTW I would like to invite you to be the keynote speaker at my funeral--full expense paid trip to AZ of course. Happy New Year.
  3. jim thornton's Avatar
    Kurt, try as I might, I could not resist the siren song of Hallmark positivity on the last day of the decade.

    However, I have not given up my dream of inseminating Ursula Andress while swallowing a Baby Ruth candy bar and simultaneously fielding phone calls from Awards Commitees out to praise me.

    Though the above scenario is, I admit, wholesome, it is not 100 percent wholesome, chiefly because Ursula is a corpse and Baby Ruths aren't that good for you.

    I will be sustained with the offer of speaking at your funeral, after which I shall lead the dancing upon your grave.

    Given the age disadvantage I currently hold over you, however, I think we need to contact the Disney people soon to have them begin work on the Animatronic version of Jim, elegy orator. I am thinking a kind of Country Bear Jamboree vibe, only with my head and muzzle, from which comes words of unbearable sadness that one Dr. Kurt Dickson, MD, has passed from this world to one where 70 recently deflowered virgins (all of whom resemble Ursula Andress a little) await his posthumous ministrations.

    And now, at 11:47 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2009, I return Ambienated to Crime & Punishment, the distraction.
  4. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    Ahhh, burning and twisting like a red hot shard of metal, Wisdom slowly pierces my beloved twin's soul. Thanks for sharing.
  5. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    Ahhh, burning and twisting like a red hot shard of metal, Wisdom slowly pierces my beloved twin's soul. Thanks for sharing.
  6. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    :>( will become :>| will become ;>)
  7. jim thornton's Avatar
    Rusty, what means these hieroglyphs of yours? My interpretations of I will become :>) are:

    1. wisdom will bring me a pinched little smile eventually
    2. wisdom will turn me into a felled snowman lying on his side
    3. that wisdom will eventually teach me that a colon is greater than a parenthesis


    Forced contemplation on your wise offering has just revealed what you mean!!!!

    that this emotional state :>( i.e., sadness

    will eventually give way to this emotional state :>I i.e., neutratlity

    which will eventually give way to this emotional state :>) i.e., smiling joie de vivre

    Now I understand!

  8. Kurt Dickson's Avatar
    Country bear vibe kinda creeps me out...which is I guess appropriate for death, but I was thinking more Rambo-like (combat fatigues, no shirt, shooting my ashes at the audience with some sort of makeshift machine gun telling them to "suck on it"). Dancing on the grave is a nice touch though.

    Ursula is fine despite being a corpse and baby ruth's are darn fine candy bars...good luck with all that.
  9. jim thornton's Avatar
    After we bury you, Cletus and I will search out the widow women and try to beget you some more kin.