Laughing in the Dark

Are we the only self-hating species? The only species that commits suicide? Are we the only species that laughs? Have you noticed how little humour there is in mass extinction and environmental destruction? That this secular end of days is the source of hardly any comedy?

It’s unseemly — profane even — to laugh out loud about the anthropocene. Unless it’s that grim, knowing, gritted-teeth kind of laughter in which we marvel at being part of a civilisation more concerned with counting calories than carbon. (If only we could harness vanity in the service of ecological repair); in which we mutter, “well, you gotta laugh because what else can you do?” or “if I didn’t laugh, I’d be weeping”.

Yes, there’s a lot of Weeping in the Dark, but not much laughing. Which is also surprising, because we often laugh at tragedy. Think war (Black Adder Goes Forth, Waugh’s Scoop); racism and red-neckerism (All in the Family); religion, which is a tragedy only to some of us (The Life of Brian, Religulous, the Bible); humanity (where to start? Perhaps Gulliver’s Travels, Candide, or the Bible, again.)

If Henri Bergson is right and laughter doesn’t exist outside the pale of what is strictly human; and if, as he says, its natural environment is society, then shouldn’t this be a time of rolling in the aisles clutching our stomachs in uncontrollable mirth? Because what could be more human than this human-all-too-human epoch?

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Alien Invasion aka Frozen Shoulder

Not my usual kind of post. Rather, boring personal health stuff. About this mysterious mad awful condition called Frozen Shoulder (or “adhesive capsulitis” or $%#@##&^%!!!!!) aka a drawn out period of the body torturing itself for no known reason. I had this in my right shoulder back in 2007-2008. It took a while to work out what it was, though not before I’d gone through the additional torture of physiotherapy, which has left me with a pathological fear and aversion to physiotherapists.

7165073-female-skeleton-with-highlighted-shoulder-stock-photo-shoulder-pain-jointNow, it’s back. In my other shoulder. Apparently, a repeat performance is pretty common. So, while no one knows what causes it (at least this “idiopathic” version), they seem to have worked out that if you get it in one, you’re likely to get it in the other. (Oh, and because it’s not an ‘injury’, ACC doesn’t cover it or treatments, neither does my DHB.)

This really is a strange condition. Pain and agony become your constant companions, and in any number of forms — aching, throbbing, stabbing, piercing; top of the shoulder, arm to elbow, shoulder blade, sometimes right up into my head. There is no known cure, just endless theories about things to try (cortisone shots, torturous physio etc.), which work for some and not others. It comes. It tortures. It (usually) eventually leaves.

Stages, the total lasting up to 2 years:

1. freezing (pain scale out of 10 = 6 to 9, I reckon)

2. frozen (pain scale: low)

3. thawing (pain scale: low)

Anyway, among my main challenge is trying to learn to keep on keeping on and not falling into a slough of despond, and wading out into the sea with rocks in my pockets (but only on my good side). It’s not life threatening, so there’s that. (And, I do appreciate, what else is there really?) But unrelenting pain is a total bitch. It’s like having been invaded by this moody, cruel, and totally unpredictable alien entity, not knowing what it wants, or why, or when it’s going to leave. It feels almost like a battle of psyches or wits or something.  Or maybe the pain has simply driven me barking mad.


This year, as well as te Reo, I’m learning Raranga. Here are two of my first firsts. (Then a third.)

My first kete riwai (potato kit). Which I didn't give away yet because, uh, it's not wildly presentable.

My first kete riwai (potato kit). I haven’t given this one away yet because, uh, it’s not wildly presentable.

My first kete whakairo (which I gave to my lovely niece, Rose)

My first kete whakairo (which I gave to my lovely niece, Rose)

My fourth kete whakairo...almost actually presentable! Both these kete are a Tauranga Moana patiki (flounder) pattern.

My fourth kete whakairo…almost actually presentable! Both these kete are a Tauranga Moana patiki (flounder) pattern.

Pōhutukawa: Te Rākau Kirihimete o Aotearoa

A trip around Mauao to look at the blooms. (Click on an image to have a closer look and cycle through the slide show.)

Creationism vs Unlimited Knowledge

A rather cool thought from Oxford physicist David Deutsch‘s book  The Beginning of Infinity, (p. 81)

“The prospect of the unlimited creation of knowledge in the future conflicts with creationism by undercutting its motivation. For eventually, with the assistance of what we would consider stupendously powerful computers, any child will be capable of designing and implementing a better, more complex, more beautiful, and also far more moral biosphere than the Earth’s, within a video game – perhaps by placing in such a state by fiat, or perhaps by inventing fictional laws of physics that are more conducive to enlightenments than the actual laws. At that point, a supposed designer of our biosphere will seem not only morally deficient, but intellectually unremarkable. And the latter attribute is not so easy to brush aside. religions will no longer want to claim the design of the biosphere as one of the achievements of their deities, just as today they no longer bother to claim thunder.”

I suppose if they thought about it, they’d claim thunder, since it’s part of God’s Creation, but I think I know what he means. Maybe.