Saturday, March 17, 2007

Having Cancer is Not a Path to Self-Improvement

Having Cancer is Not a Path to Self-Improvement

2007 March 16 Friday

I have been continuing work on the GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, and have just finished a revised version of a poem first published in the literary miscellany THIS IS A PICTURE OF YOUR GOD.

The poem is called THIS WAR IN IRAQ, and, by way of introduction, I supply the following notes:

"THIS WAR IN IRAQ is a cancer poem which deals with the fact that having cancer is not a path to self-improvement. It is entirely possible that having a severe disease will result in a self-centered attitude, a prioritization of the self. Maybe an absolute prioritization of the self. In this case, the speaker of the poem is entirely self-centered, selfish, self-obsessed and indifferent to the wider world."

This reflects my own experience. Cancer did not create a better Hugh. The skillset that I improved during my siege of illness was, above all else, the ability to complain. Improving on this is better than nothing, and an ability to complain helped me when I first started work at Waniguchi Gakko, where ready complains brought prompt rectification of a couple of problems that I initially encountered, though not of all.

The fact that having cancer is not the royal road to virtues is something that I dealt with in my alternative reality novel, BAMBOO HORSES, in which we find the following:

"" "You didn't come to visit me during my latest chemotherapy," says Aunt Chariot, glaring at me accusingly.

"" "I know," I say. "I'm sorry."

""Actually, as I'm sure Aunt Chariot knows, while she was staying in hospital for her last chemotherapy session, the five days from Monday April 17th through Friday 21st inclusive, I was up north, in Bakufueki. Why was I in the capital? Because Tanto and Helena had their school trip, and I was one of the parents who got roped into going along to supervise. But there's no point in venturing an exercise in self-exculpation. Whatever my excuse, it'll be twisted into something negative. Aunt Chariot loves conflict whereas I hate it: that's the problem.

""Aunt Chariot has lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and at her age — we have to remember that she's eighty — the prognosis is not good. For some months (six months, isn't it?) she's been in and out of hospital having chemotherapy, and the impression I get is that it has not been going well. Iola follows the details and so, although the subject makes me queasy, I end up hearing about the deteriorating demerits of Aunt Chariot's innards, including nuggets of unpalatable information about her bone marrow, neutrophil count and potassium levels.

""What annoys me about Aunt Chariot is the unpleasantly aggressive energy with which she tackles what's left of her life. She's mentally intact, one of these crossword puzzle experts whose synapses are still hectically active even in old age, so she has the intellectual resources to sustain the verbal aggression she's so fond of. Since she's disposed to be actively unpleasant, it would be nicer if she could master the role of the supine and failing invalid. Unfortunately, tackling such a role has never seemed to be on her agenda.""

With that by way of preamble, here's the revised draft of the cancer poem THIS WAR IN IRAQ:


A public man.
His suicide was broadband.
Where was my Lotto win from that?
The delights of the future
Include water wars, global warming
And the heat death of the universe.
But this,
As yet,
This panoply of glory,
Is prospect only,
No ice cream offered upfront with the nuts.
Promises, promises:
All I get is promises.
The revision of the United Nations,
The Kyoto Protocol,
The Guantanamo tribunals,
How does that better my case?
Oh, and that Treaty of Versailles thing,
What was my payoff from that?
In the atrocity exhibition,
There have been many, many shows,
But if I was supposed to get a payoff from any of them,
It got lost in the mail.
My carnage files are missing.
In consequence of this,
I cannot decrypt my benefits.
I cannot find the reason why
The shark's extinction, the electric execution,
Could be construed as being personally therapeutic.
The corpse gone hard in the morgue
Must signify a better world for me.
This war in Iraq, too,
Precisely what
Is its utility to me?
Your baby,
Dead or alive, an octopus or a bathmat,
How does that
Improve the flavor of my tea?
Where is my coup from the genocide?
In the big bowl of the world's red blindness
Where is my edible hummingbird?
In the ashes of the bushfire
Where is my portion of the human heart?

The GENGHIS LOTUS collection is the project that I'm focused on at the moment but another project I have underway is SINFUL SURVIVAL, an SF novel in which the protagonist, Mavinda Cruft, is, as a consequence of her criminal misbehavior, exiled from society.

She falls all the way to the bottom, and ends up working for an outfit called Smegma Sputum Incorporated, a Delaware-based company which was, ostensibly, in the business of making extremely perverted porn, their unique sales point being, supposedly, "We take your kink and twist it bigtime."

Actually, Mavinda is doing nothing as innocent as making porn. She's mixed up in something far darker, as the text explains:

""However, while this company was, theoretically, in the porn business, in fact it was engaged in a totally illegal activity to which the courts, the legislature, the administration and the citizens of society were unanimously opposed.

""That sin was one which had been formally denounced by each of the last three popes, including the present incumbent, Madelaine Bonaparte.

""It was a sin that had been ecumenically denounced, even by the Amish, despite the fact that it formed no part of the Amish universe.

""The sin?

""It was a sin for which you could burn in hell for real, no computer emulation required. It was a sin which did not dare to speak its name, at least not out loud, and which masqueraded under various noms de guerre.

""It was spamming.""

In the real world, I now have the spammers in my gunsights. These people are bugging me and I want to take them down. I realize that this outfit,, is sending me repeat spam messages every 24 hours.

How long they've been doing this I have no idea because, for months, I've just been glancing at my spam then deleting it, maybe 30 messages at a time, without bothering my head about who it was from or why they sent it.

I've already reported them to SpamCop, but maybe I can go a step further. I think I will, if I can find the time. Do a little research project. Their CEO has his smiling face on their website, boasting of the charity work they do, linking their name with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, so presumably he's based somewhere in the United States, and presumably he's subject to US law, and presumably there are neighbors and newspapers in his world, and maybe, if I put in a little effort, I can at least upload the details of whatever it is that I find out about this outfit.

If I can find the time.

Work first, play later!


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