It’s been an extraordinarily fragmented fortnight, in my brain. One of those strange and fearsome times when nothing holds me, and I flip-flop from one thing to another more than a Mitt Romney (for lack of a more apposite home example, this week). These times in my mind are fearsome because it doesn’t take me long to notice I am slightly out of control (in a bad way, not a spontaneous ‘lets go to the seaside!’ way). I want to buy more things that I have momentary illusions will make me happy; I get crushingly bored and eat lots more than usual; sleep deserts me and I lay there thinking interesting/bothersome things when I need to be resting. I cry that I don’t have enough time to Read All The Books That I Need To, at these times.
The wider world about me has been similarly jangly and unsettled. Syria implodes and no one helps the poor citizens because it’s in the wrong place geo-politically. America’s Republicans go even more insane than usual and seem to hate women to a new low (hmmm, we’re sluts for taking birth control…This incident refers to the ongoing debate [within government, not ‘on the streets’!] about women in the US receiving birth control as part of their healthcare that is part of their pay package; and the fact that some religious bodies as employers are saying they don’t want to contribute to something they have moral qualms about, the Catholics, to begin with. Then ultra conservative idiot and ‘personality’ Rush Limbaugh called women sluts on his radio show this week, claiming we wouldn’t need so much birth control if we had less sex…There’s tons more to this story and my wanting to rant about it at the moment is a little bit infinite, but its not the point of why I’m posting; its simply the backdrop. My suggestion if you’re interested: Do yourselves a favour, liberally minded peoples over here, and download some liberal US political comedy, for a good quick way to be educated as well as catching CNN or FoxNews (truly bonkers reporting, dangerously influential) or other US news networks on your Sky for how its being reported, or reading online US papers…try ‘The Daily Show’, or the ‘Colbert Report’, or ‘Countdown’ [nope, not a brilliant UK quiz-show we don’t have anymore!], or 'Real Time with Bill Maher').
There’s something direly wrong going on with the Republican Party over there at the moment, and what happens over there always ends up affecting us over here, so there’s no point closing our ears and acting like its nothing to do with us…I’m joining the Fawcett Society, and that’s that. At least it’s something. I’m starting to think nutters on matters of civil /women’s /GLBT /worker’s rights need to be properly FOUGHT AGAINST, not just laughed at, as we often do, imagining that we lefty types have the science, the clear view, the big picture, the rational mindset etc. They make too many inroads to people’s minds while we simply mock this sort of thing. People who think the tide of weird backwards conservatism in politics, evangelical zeal in religions and its increasing prevalence and effect on our daily lives is wrong, need to stand up and say so, more often, singularly, and en masse.
Of course, this American stuffage is a distraction to the fact that over here the police were shown to be more corrupt that I reckoned would even be the case, with the Leveson Inquiry’s continuing coverage. And who can get away from the fact that our arch shitehead David Cameron rode the Wrong Horse this week?? (‘It’s what the horse symbolises’, Tom Watson Labour MP is saying….very true: the Conservatives, as usual, are lying about things, ‘no I didn’t ride the horse/ well, actually, I did ride a horse/ I did in fact ride this horse, Raisa, once…’ Apparently retired police horses are not supposed to be ridden anymore, they have had hard lives and need to rest and graze and be taken care of, not ridden about the place by rich arseholes while visiting media moghuls they are far too intimate with politically….Sigh. I am starting to think Tom Watson is the only good Labour MP around the place at the moment. The Labour Party is another shambles at present. What happened to their being a socialist party?? SIGH.)
Now, all that (and much much more) is why I attempt to NOT keep up with the news on an entirely regular and daily basis. It’s far too thought provoking, I get very angry and stomp about petulantly and helplessly. I can’t analyse things coolly like my favourite political blogger over here, Aethelread the Unread – do go and be amused, entertained, and educated; he also talks about non-political things, and living life with an iffy head things. Well, I can analyse things coolly, I just then get very heated and angry about what I just analysed, and the provisional conclusions I came to. Stanley is constantly having to re-explain to me why I can’t (if I was in charge) go about with the efficiency of Charles Bronson (or Mossad, in the real world) and just Get Rid Of People I Find Dangerous To The State of BlackberryJuniper.
I have to keep having it re-drilled into my head that apparently ‘we are better than those who just kill people if we don’t do it too, but rely on law and due process'. I keep being told I am presenting fallacious argument by cliché when I pound my fists on his thigh and tell him that very often, the ‘Law Is An Ass, Sir!’ (Take those young men who robbed the poor foreign student trying to get home during the August Riots last year: the one who already was stunned and disoriented from just having his jaw broken; and was apparently being helped by some boys, before it actually became clear they were taking his rucksack and robbing him when he was already so severely injured. I’m not evolved enough to not want to do something quite horrible to those robbers. I almost don’t find it enough that they got caught, eventually, and given custodial sentences. It’s one of those cases where I really do hope something nasty befalls them in prison. I’m just not quite the person I could be, am I?!…SIGH.) I get too visceral. And for a lefty leaning woman, I get very authoritarian on matters of law and order; its the fear in me...
Yes, the news, too much of it in my head this week. I went through odd patches, late last week and early this week, of retreating into TV, and having a retro -80’s soap fest. I enjoyed and licked the plate of early Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing (remembering once again those noble times when I was younger and less confused and more sure of myself and the world…we won’t linger on the fact that I was all those things because I had no idea what was going on, largely! No! Because I had no idea, I was also more peaceful, more optimistic without caveats or complication…It was just a simpler time in the old BlackberryJuniper head). So I grazed there for a bit, a happy moochy cow, till Fluffhead quite rightfully complained that I was preventing him from grazing on CeeBeebies, as Is His Right. So that came back on, and I found myself thinking about the world again, which filled me with annoyance, headachiness and a fair degree of hunger and need for eBaying.…So I waited till Fluffhead was deeply absorbed in the washing up bottle and crepe paper creations of Mr Maker, and picked up the latest series of books that have been Calling Me with a Vengeance.
And got severely THRALLED. I haven’t been this thralled…since the last time I was thralled, which did stop me writing altogether, I think you’ll remember, I did comment on it. Interestingly, my last thrall was on a similar subject to this one, so clearly this is a field on which I can run about happily for a while; I’m resonating like a harp string. What happens is, when worried about life, I usually turn to my history bookshelf, seeking interesting theories and life ideas on how other people cope with hostile situations and disturbing times, in the past. I rely on Stanley for my Hope Through Science and Progress News, as he (a) explains it really well, and (b) provides links, articles and books to back up my interest if I am taken by whatever he is telling me – and he does like to talk on these subjects, so I get quite a range of news stories and research described to me, with checkable footnotes (which as you know, I do adore). I wasn’t grabbed by any hopeful science this week, so did my favourite thing of going backwards in time in an effort to understand the present, and the mindsets of our bonkers species – through our stories and folkways.
Two lots of books have been calling to me from the history and pagan bookshelves lately – the Graeco-Roman primarily Hellenistic section, and the Norse Mythology section. Since I had literally just finished reading a book on Hekate (a very interesting, multi-faceted goddess, rewarding of study), I thought I’d change pace and hit the Northern Way section. I started with a book I’d read ages ago and re-read it for a primer. I’ve been chatting to a helpful Asatru (one of the strands of Northern Pagan Reconstructionism, popular in America) member on Facebook who chats to me about Northern Way matters. The conversation reminded me of one of the reasons I like reading Northern Myths and Paganism. Polytheists of this bent respect a fellow book reader! You can chat with them about customs and tenets of belief or behaviour (they have some of the most sensible tenets in Paganism for what you really should get on and do: the Nine Noble Virtues, of which I am in severe need of top ups of at least 5 of them, in a big way) all day – but it will get to a point when they will refer you to a huge Icelandic saga, or one of the 2 Eddas or many many more as primary texts, when talking, to back up a point they are making. And that’s just a start. Because there is not much extant Viking Age material, stories written down from way back, myths and legends and such are what people interested in trying to recreate the paganism of their Northern ancestors begin to research …if you really fancy looking into what it’s all about, you end up swept away by book after book of heroic stories. You remember that the north have some of the best and most fun tales: they have Beowulf, Odin [of the stealing of the mead and the getting of the runes] and Frigga and Asgard and the other worlds on Yggdrasil the world tree, Sigurd and Brynhild/Siegfried and Brünnhilde (and of course Wagner and the entire Ring Cycle, to get a bit more modern), Loki the trickster, Thor and his hammer, the Norns, the bifrost, Ragnarok…I scratch the surface. Much inspiration for the Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis’s work came from here. The days of the week as we know them came from here. The Vikings and their gods are still whispering around us; the Anglo Saxons are still settled here; far off, but near enough to breathe on your neck should you start to read about them…
I disappeared into the Poetic Edda sometime around Tuesday this week. Which as you know, isn’t like me at all, you know my opinions on poetry – but these tales are written as stories! You know I love to be told a story (where things make sense, and things are magical)! So there I am, last night, at 3 in the morning, thinking…’why am I still awake, why am I still reading, why can’t I stop?’
Now, all this hasn’t conquered the world of bad news and worry, but it’s given me a temporary framework of interest from which I can filter things through. I like mythology for this reason. I end up feeling like I’m reading about people, about allies and friends. I end up chatting to them while I read, in my head, quite informally and peacefully. I know I’m in a state of thrall, as I (a) wake up thinking about it – ‘ah, hello Odin,’ I thought on waking this morning, and (b) I dream about it too (a very odd dream earlier this week about tree’s branches coming off and a dead deer’s head with huge antlers – it was all very ‘you had to be there’…).
Now, you know me better than to think I am going to start telling you stories about all this wholesale: if you’re interested go and read some! It’s a very good fun distraction; and a knowledge of mythology always helps when talking to people from far away – imagine, next time you bump into a person from Scandinavia, you could casually mention your enjoyment of Heimskringla! A world of conversation awaits!
But enough of me talking. I have reading to do…
 Quite detestable Republican candidate in the US GOP (Good Old Party, what a weird way to refer to themselves?) presidential candidate elections they’re having right now. He’s overly rich, completely ubiquitous, and utterly devoid of moral compass – he just says what’s necessary for exactly where he is at any given moment to get a vote, regardless of whether he said the opposite, really quotably, in public a year or so before…Etc. He's not as bad as nasty Newt Gingrich; or religiously crazy Rick Santorum though...
 I’m the first to agree that my mindset is often anything but purely rational; and I think that’s a good thing. I’m a soup of different and contradictory stuff, and hopefully tasty.