Welcome to the Library You See In Dreams. How you found the place or why you’re here, I can’t imagine.

I’m the Librarian, alias LYSID. It’s a pleasure to meet you. The purpose of the library, such as it is, is to give a venue to what I call my philosophy & poetry and other sundry thoughts. See, I once wrote Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction, but gave that field up as too lucrative and mainstream (/sarcasm) . What I’m trying to do now is build a picture of the world as I understand, to sing that picture. Not because I think this will be some great boon for humanity. Because it seems to be what I do, and what I’m led to do. In an everchanging world of almost eight billion, that’s as good a reason as any.

For now, the foundation of that picture is laid out in the Apologia:

That’s where you want to start. Part #1 gives a still-current justification for me saying anything at all.

Another philosophical piece is The Problem of Information, a theme on which I shall build in the future. The Unprecedented Era (part 1 and part 2) straddles philosophy and history, shading toward the more straightforward historical view found in my snapshots of American history: Alien Americas.

I have written two juxtagraphs, “a prose poetry form best described as ‘a collage of facts.'” The first was on the Boston’s MBTA mass transit system and the second on the universally relevant subject of oil.

On the lighter side, there’s humor. Here’s one bit of which I’m fond, a filk about public art.

To spice things up, I blog about my dreams. Like the one about Buckaroo Banzai. Or the Armenian activist leader woman.

To all visitors, I tip my hat. Please pray for me, and I shall for you.

When rooks fly homeward
and shadows fall,
when roses fall

on the hay-yard wall,
when blind moths flutter
by door and tree,
then comes the quiet
of Christ to me.

When stars look out
on the Children’s Path
and grey mists gather
on carn and rath,
when night is one
with the brooding sea,
then comes the quiet
of Christ to me.


Joseph Campbell

Things are much better they were. I’m deeply grateful for that. In the United States, vaccination rates are up and case loads are down. It’s a marvelous feeling, and I hope it continues.

If it doesn’t continue, it will be due to the fact that national vaccination are about 50% and growing slowly. We seem to have hit that wall of people who just don’t want to get their shots. Confirmed U.S. cases are about 33 million–approximately 10% of the population (and naturally, there’s some overlap between these groups). Put it together and there’s still wide swathes of the American populace that have no protection against Covid-19.

Which is why we may yet see surges. Maybe this summer, propelled by air conditioning, but most likely this fall, setting in with the cold weather just like the worst of it last year. This time the victims will be segmented–younger, unvaccinated. There will be fewer deaths, but there will not by a long shot be no deaths.

We’ll have to see. If you haven’t gotten your shots, get your shots. It’s the good thing to do, and good for you, too.

Her name’s Kyoko, she’s a young widow
Her Soichiro is gone, but she has to carry on
She takes a job as, Maison manager
And when she shows up at the door, Godai’s jaw will hit the floor
Can he confess the truth? Will the two ever smooch?
Or will Kyoko go on living
solely with her pooch?

At the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
A boarding house we find in Tokyo!
At the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
Misunderstanding, romantic grandstanding
At the Maison…Godai’s in love

Now at the Maison, we find some boarders
It’s quite a crew lives there, they drive Godai to despair
They’re always watching, they love to gossip
They drink themselves half-blind, their names are numbered oh through nine
Akemi’s partly nude, Yotsuya’s always rude
But they’ll keep your crush a secret
if you give them food!

At the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
Godai’s grandma makes tasty umeshu!
At the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
Ronin-san labors with eccentric neighbors
At the Maison…Henjin darou…

Her name’s Kyoko, she was a widow
But that was seven years ago, when we first began our show
And now they’re married, with babe Haruka
Still can’t seem to roam, from their familiar boarding home
Goodbye Kozue, farewell to Yagami,
and most everybody’s story
ended happily!

At the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
Takahashi-sensei, we thank you!
For the Maison! Maison Ikkoku!
Heartwarming romcom, presented with aplomb
At the Maison…that’s where they first met…

 Your gut digests. In the stomach food is reduced to chyme, which proceeds through the duodenum, past the gates of bile; nutrients are absorbed through the villi in the small intestine; what remains–indigestible fiber, water, dead bacteria and miscellany–are waved down the colon and out the rectum.

This need to metabolize nutrients is among the few true human universals. Sex, religion, family, status—all of these are common, but there are, for each, some margin of folks who don’t feel them. Everyone needs their gut.

Yet, though universal, each gut is different. This gut is part of an anorexic gay man in London. This gut is part of an anxiety-ridden pharmacist in Buenos Aires. This gut is part of a triathlete training in Adelaide. This gut is part of a vegetarian shopkeeper in Jharkhand. This gut is part of a malnourished peasant boy in South Sudan. Each one patterned up from the cellular level. The DNA are practically identical—yet the important part is what’s unique.

Cells make organs, connective tissue, muscles, nerves. Organs, bones, muscles and nerves aggregate to make a person. A person is an experience of life. People aggregate to make a society. As a human being is an aggregate of the interworking of the cells of their body, as an ecology is the aggregate of the interworking of its organisms, as an economy is the interworking of its producers and consumers, so every unique human adds something to the aggregate of human society. By participating, or by not participating, everyone creates an effect.

These aggregates exist in two ways: their objective reality, and the forms we make of them. Something is clearly out there, but it does not match the ongoing reality.

Let me give two examples.

Feminism in the United States was not the creation of Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug. The real work was done by millions of individual women across the county, women who got jobs, got divorces, did anything that defined themselves as their own persons and not attachments to a man. The leaders’ work was as the pipe to a swimming pool; the individuals’ work was a vast rain front filling an aquifer. Yes, Gloria and Bella’s words inspired many. But it was the many who acted, and without them Gloria and Bella’s words would have clanged uselessly. What those many did may not have been ideologically pure. The Red Stockings and the Feminists collective might not have approved. But it was real and the gains were lasting.

In the same way, World War II never occurred. There were, thousands of times over, small groups of men with weapons. They were trying to kill other groups of men and trying to avoid being killed by those same men. In groups of ten or twenty they fought. A squad of infantry, a tank or two, a battery of artillery. A single plane. A single ship. As far as these men were concerned, the entirety of the war was where they were. They were right. The wars they knew rose into the events we have subsumed under the heading of the Second World War.

Eisenhower and Montgomery, Yamashita and von Rundstedt, and all their ilk could make their plans and give their speeches. Their words never quite accorded with reality. The day in the field always did.

The Renaissance, the French Revolution, the Song Dynasty, the Sramana Movement–none of these things ever happened. Only people’s lives happened. Afterward, the record was sorted and distorted, and we got a historical era. Individuals made those things, many individuals, far more than the piddling number of folks who made it into the history books.

Some people can have greater effect within a society, but that effect depends on the cooperation of other members. It’s not that “important” people don’t contribute to the whole, but their contribution must be kept in proper proportion to the whole. Every time two human beings interact–in a neighborhood, in an office, in a bar, in a grocery store, in a place of worship, in a school–it creates an effect on both. An “important” person affects relatively more people, but the number is still slight compared to the total number of interactions.

A boss is useless without employees. A politician can do nothing without supporters. An artist is void without an audience. The individuals enable their supposed leaders. The leaders are really following. If they try to do something without support, nothing comes of it. Coke can put out New Coke, to no avail. George Lucas can refilm Han shooting Greedo, but he can’t make people like it. George H.W. Bush could present a victorious war, but folks didn’t want to vote for that.

No one can be a failure in the totality. No one can be a success in the totality. Each of us contributes. Like a pointillist painting, each of us strikes a moment. Every human is necessary. We make the picture together.

A society can be described as a collection of ideas: ideas of sex, gender, class, power, God, justice. But those ideas don’t exist on their own. They exist only as incarnate in individuals, and those individuals are more than ideas. All those ideas affect us, obviously. But they are intertwined with, for instance: the cutting word of a parent. Childhood sexual assault. An A+ on a test. A case of pneumonia. Bulimia on Christmas. A magical college party. Winning at spades. A friend’s being saved by Christ. The discovery of George Carlin records. Coming out to your boss. Menopause. The first successful deer hunt. Moving to a new state.

Imagine:

  • A pension fund manager weaving the loom of finance as it has mutated in the forty-eight years since the collapse of Bretton Woods, frustrated by the decline in demand for defined-benefit pension plans, grappling with the breakup of his marriage and his middle-aged return to the dating scene, burning with insecurity born of being bullied as a teenager, worried about his heart, his actual heart, over premature high blood pressure caused by genetic tendencies, career stress, and personal worries. All of this driving to a renewed interest in the Buddhism modeled by his devout Chinese grandmother.
  • A librarian handing a DVD over a counter, living a path of Unitarian-Universalist paganism, both informed by and rejecting her Catholic upbringing, made complicated by toxic personalities in her local UUA congregation. Finding comfort in love of fantasy and science fiction, freedom in the community of fanfic. Her career a product of modern media, from books to databases, flowing through existing, but diminishing concepts of the benefits of open public access to those media.
  • A product manager praying in a church pew, his hands folded against his breastbone, embodying the ebb and flow of twenty centuries of Christian theology, the economy of slaves in the Niger valley in the 18th century, the influence of a charismatic pastor during his teen years, racial politics in the contemporary Pacific Northwest. Struggling with lifelong health problems caused a horseshoe kidney, buoyed by a love of comic books, lonely due to the necessity of leaving rust belt Cleveland for tech hub Seattle to find 21st century employment. He whispers “Amen.”
  • A elderly retired teacher redhead—her hair color a gift of chemicals now—refusing to accept anything less from her butcher than perfection. Forced to drop out of college many decades prior, joined in a shotgun marriage with the frat boy who pinned and impregnated her, the same frat boy she drove from the house three children, nineteen years and two affairs later. Her sardonic frame of mind transforming the traditional Pennsylvania Republicanism she received into a refusal to put up with bleeding heart nonsense, either liberal or Christian. The ache at the loss of the sons she drove to estrangement comforted by the 60s-era “party records” that keep her laughing.

Yet each of these is mere fiction. In no way can they match the complexity of the real thing.

When you leave your house, when you walk down the street, you walk among wonders. And when you look in the mirror, you see another.

(Back in the 80s, the best videos had a broad story to them–but it was up to the viewer to fill in the details. This is my attempt to explain what is going on in the video for Stevie Wonder’s 1985 hit “Go Home.”)

Blondie, a woman from the Greater San Francisco area, mulls over photos of her and her lover, Young Michael Douglas. The two had a whirlwind romance until a month ago, when YMD suddenly quit his job with a prominent Silicon Valley firm and went back home to L.A.. Since then, she’s only had one phone conversation with him, during which he pledged his undying love, said he couldn’t see her any more, and hinted he was in some sort of trouble. Blondie decided their love was worth the risk, and her United flight rolls into LAX.

She is met on the concourse by Black Private Investigator, who shows her similar pictures to ones she has in her purse and asks if she’s the woman in them. She says yes, and he asks her to come with him, to help YMD. Intrigued (and without any leads of her own), she leaves with him. At a nearby bar, the Miami Vice Twins see them depart, and follow.

Then we see Stevie. Stevie’s just a blind newspaper/Map to the Stars vendor on the streets of L.A.-or is he?

Blondie and Black PI visit Young Michael Douglas’ apartment. (Not shown: along the way, Black PI tells Blondie that he’s not a cop. He’s a friend of YMD, and like her, thinks he’s in trouble and can’t find him.) Gun drawn for trouble, they enter the apartment, but no one’s there. YMD saw them coming and slipped out the back. He drives off moments before the Miami Vice Twins arrive.

Blondie sees him drive off. Black PI finds a note taped to the mirror, addressed to her. Angry, she crumples it and stalks off. Also, Stevie is on TV.

(That last bit is more inexplicable than almost anything else in the video. Why is the ambiguous street lord/blind newspaper vendor on TV? I’m going to use fiat and say that a local TV news program filmed a human interest story about him.)

Blondie and Black PI leave the apartment. The Miami Vice Twins separate, hoping to trap YMD-but when they see the two others, they just let them pass, hoping that they may yet lead them to their prey.

YMD drives aimlessly around L.A.. No place is safe for him. He’s carrying contraband worth a half-million on his person, small enough to fit in his pocket. He knows the MVT are after him. All he has to do is last until the meeting with the Takahara Corporation. Until then, he must avoid Blondie and Black PI-for their own good.

Black PI finally goes to see Stevie. Stevie may look like an ordinary newspaper vendor, but in reality, he has total awareness. Everybody knows Stevie, and everybody talks to Stevie. Black PI asks Stevie where YMD is. Stevie doesn’t know, but doesn’t let on. He assures Black PI that while he can’t say anything now, answers will yet appear. Black PI and Blondie drive off.

And lo and behold, who should come to see Stevie, but Young Michael Douglas. Stevie informs YMD that BPI&B are looking for him; YMD replies he knows and he has to remain incognito. YMD hangs out around the newsstand, growing increasingly more antsy, spilling out more than he intends about his plans. Stevie seems to ignore him, but is listening the whole time.

B&BPI continue up the street, meeting some ladies of the night. Black PI asks if they’ve seen YMD lately. Blondie joins him, angry and out of place. One of the streetwalkers makes it clear that she knows Young Michael Douglas-really, really well. Blondie grabs the photo and stalks off.

(Not shown: the night is one of many uncomfortable revelations for Blondie. BPI informs her that her boyfriend is not a charming young high-tech salesman, but actually a clever hustler, who last year got the idea to go to Silicon Valley for various shadowy reasons. BPI was in the army with YMD’s dad (Old Michael Douglas? Just plain Michael Douglas?), and promised him on his deathbed to keep an eye on his son and prevent the boy from the same bad end he met. That hasn’t worked too well so far, but BPI still hopes.)

BPI&B go back to Stevie. Stevie fills them in: YMD stole prototypes of cutting-edge microchips and intends to sell them to the Japanese Takahara zaibatsu (this is 1985, after all) for five hundred large. The MVT are trying to get the chips from him. YMD is supposed to hand over the goods to Takahara in an abandoned office building downtown that morning.

Still looking for YMD, the MVT try to steal a paper from Stevie. If they were street-smart, they would know to ask Stevie where YMD was, but they are far too stupid and evil for that.

Just outside the rendezvous point, Blondie spots YMD. They pull over. Blondie finds that despite everything she’s learned, she still loves him, and wants to help him. He’s thrilled to see her, but says it’s too dangerous and she should Go Home. She refuses, and she and BPI sneak into the building behind him.

YMD sits down with the Takahara agents. They inspect the chips, verifying their authenticity. Unknown to the intent buyers, Blondie and BPI creep up and watch. An underling opens a suitcase filled with money. YMD reaches for his reward-only to find the suitcase snapped shut. The Takahara Corp has decided to alter the deal.

The Miami Vice Twins approach. However, Black PI sees them coming and fires the first shot, sending everyone into a frenzy.

YMD grabs the money. Everyone starts blazing away. Truth is, it can be very difficult to hit someone with a pistol at short range, and all the lead is for naught. Bits of cash flutter everywhere. BPI covers Blondie and YMD as they flee.

Outside, BPI rebukes YMD, who runs. BPI takes Blondie back to the airport, and they say goodbye. Sitting in the plane back to NoCal, Blondie knows YMD was bad for her, but she also knows she’ll always cherish the memory of this little adventure.

And Stevie is the movie on the flight. OK, I have no explanation whatsoever for that.