Surreal is just a word. If you look straight at reality it’s, uh, surreal. Think about it. What’s more surreal than any single day? What’s more surreal than a whole planet going on about it’s (bizarre) business and being hit by a microbe? To add super-surrealism to that, imagine the most affected species on that planet ARGUING about the reality of that microbe while, ultimately, six million people die? What’s more surreal than a species working daily toward its own destruction and then paying good symbolic wealth (in itself surreal) to watch films or read books depicting dystopian futures? What’s more surreal than a tiny, tiny, tiny bird flying all the way from the Yukon to suck nectar from my Scarlet Emperor Beans for a whole 3 minutes? What’s more surreal than any single day on this planet? It’s not surreal. It’s real. Like me, just now, typing “How many people have died of Covid?” and getting the data for the US as if there were NO OTHER COUNTRIES? And why did I do that? Because I confused the number of people who died during the Holocaust with the number who’ve died from Covid. If THAT isn’t surreal what is? Not surreal. Real. Absolutely totally real. OH and that we refer to THE Holocaust. Wow. I don’t think it’s even possible to count — or describe! — the number of historical holocausts. It’s just the “one” closest to us in time. Our penchant for naming things in order to dismiss them or pay knee-jerk respect to them is surreal. That’s surreal. A great poem that demonstrates the surreality of this naming fetish is The Naming of the Parts by Henry Reed.

On top of this reality we create philosophical structures to help us understand it, and they are completely bizarre, then, to add a skosh of total absurdity to THAT we have wars over them. Or are they just what our species would be expected to do by its nature?

Surreal isn’t all bad. I have a 90 year old pen pal in Seattle. How did I get this penpal? Well, the woman who ran the museum in Del Norte’s husband’s cousin, who became my penpal, wanted my notecards, and preoccupied with the museum and her husband’s extremely surreal death (not surreal, real), she didn’t send them to him. He found my business card and called me. Where did that lead? Well, among other things, the gift of a thermal cup from Starbucks at the Beijing Airport. Not surreal; real. An old man, on the trip of his dreams, through China with his daughter, bought souvenirs that he would have no use for, but he has a friend in the remote valley where he grew up who might value them. Real.

My dogs? “So, Martha, what do you want to do with your life?”

“Thanks for asking Walter (Cronkite). I want to walk dogs.” Everything else has been ancillary, apparently.

Surrealism in art is another thing. “I’m going to paint weird shit to show the world as it really is,” or something. I don’t know, but other than Dada which set out (partly) to depict the horrific reality of WW I to counter the (surreal) propaganda, I don’t think surrealism is nearly as “surreal” as daily life. When my friend, looking at my paintings, made the comment, “What’s your obsession with reality?” I thought, “You’re blind.”

Nowadays when someone says, “That’s surreal,” I just shrug. Clearly they were just born. Our ability to perceive reality? Never expressed more clearly than by Towelee in this episode of South Park

Featured photo: me with a torn ACL back in 1992. The evening after this photo was taken, the Boys on Bikes took me to see Jurassic Park and to dinner at McDonalds. They’d scraped together all their money so I didn’t have to pay because they respected my injury and loved me. Surreal? Or the fact that the hospital refused to repair my ACL with surgery because I had no health insurance?

27 thoughts on “Humans…

  1. “What’s your obsession with reality?” What a weird question. Curiosity, but were they an artist or just an armchair critic?

  2. MAK,…this is so REAL. I’m living in it big time. Everyone’s reality is definitely what they make it. Poor Towelee. And the bike boys, a movie, McDonald’s? Give me more real! Kind of like how REAL it was losing to 7 million votes. Oops. Beautiful words and truth, MAK. 💛💕🐾🐾

    • Thank you! 💚 It’s very difficult living in reality…Our brains put stuff between us and it all the time. Maybe that’s an evolutionary thing to help us survive. I don’t know. But real is good and beautiful and terrifying and I think only by recognizing it (and I don’t think that’s easy) can we understand anything or change anything for the better. That a reality TV star with delusions of grandeur “played” president for 4 years and incited an insurrection really fucking happened but I’m sure the guys they’re imprisoning now are regarded as prisoners of war by the Trumpists. 🐾❤️🐾❤️ In other news, Bear and I just got back from a hot, sticky, buggy walk in the Refuge and it was still very beautiful.

  3. Truth stranger than fiction…..”Ya can’t make this shit up and be believed!”…etc., etc. etc.,
    Me? All I can do is shift my perspective, between various fronts, best as I can – I remember, long ago, scientists high fiving and cheering as data poured in from a cosmos collision between one heavenly body and another (Jupiter) – and I thought, “Crap, if that was happening with Earth? No high fiving over data collected – everyone would be hunkered down, living for the moment or waiting for the end and then….. Blinding light goes out OR waiting for the ‘wave of chaos’ to reach one –

    Thus, everything is surreal, sorta and Nothing really is – sorta – and well – another day goes by, as it does while many, reach deep into their inner world to ask “Okay, what’s the best I can be, for today?” – thus, the gurus who say ‘nothing but Now’ are sometimes right – except for when, that motto is used as justification/rationalization for…..

    Ah…never mind – back off to examine my perspectives – – LOL

  4. Yeah, 6 million people dying of covid! Surreal, man. I love Toddler’s comment, “Oh, man. I’ve no idea what’s going on.” I deliberately chose not to correct the autocorrect of Towelee’s name. Does that last sentence sound as bizarre to you as it does to me? Staying in the Monte Vista motel that was featured in Southpark would definitely be on my bucket list, if I had a bucket list. Now, that would really surreal! I bet the Monte Vista motel gets a lot of business from that episode.

  5. I think life is very real and you are correct that it is also surreal! I mean, between 45 and the pandemic it feels like a very vivid nightmare. I have to ask myself “Well, how did I get here?” and the answer is “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was…”

  6. I guess the real holocaust is just beginning: the failure of crops in Europe due to heat is in line with what’s happening to crops across the world as weather patterns change.

  7. I just saw my orthopedist today. If your ACL is damaged, they’ll do a biopsy and send it out to a lab who will grow a new piece of ligament which can be inserted in the torn spot and will heal. Very new treatment. They used to cut another piece of ligament from somewhere else in your body.

    If you have arthritis but there’s still some cartilage remaining they’ll do Platelet-rich plasma injections now instead of just cortisone. Cortisone just takes down the inflammation but the PRP actually helps it grow new cartilage. How’d I find that out? Talked to an orthopedist. But just a couple years ago ortho told me there was nothing but cortisone to be given. These are the days of miracles and wonders.

    • Wow. The last time I saw an ortho about my knee (2015) he just said, “Replacement.” Maybe there’s nothing left in there. That is really really really wonderful about the ACL. Definitely miracles and wonders. I’ve had the thought in my mind that if I wait options will appear. Maybe I was right?

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