Author: Jonathan Erdman

A break in the action

Off I go, for another retreat – this time though, I’m serving not sitting. There’s a few hours of meditation each day in group sits, where everyone sits together in the meditation hall, so I’ll get in at least 3 hours a day, maybe more, but most of my time will be spent making meals and cleaning up. KP duty.

Guns don’t kill people

I found myself engaged in a good discussion on gun violence, hosted by fellow Alaska blogger Pete, a dude who lives in an off the grid cabin, year-round. It’s interesting to discuss guns with fellow Alaskans. As a non-urban, rural-living person, I’m more than a little sympathetic to the concerns of subsistence hunters. There’s a good discussion that you can check out here:  One of the talking points that goes around is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Or as Del put it, in the comment section of the above-linked discussion: Well Jonathon [sic] I get your point but really come on, the gun doesn’t kill its the person pulling the trigger its an object like a vehicle or whatever.

The Eichmann Show (2015)

The Eichmann Show is a BBC production currently airing on Netflix. It’s 1961 and Israeli agents have captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the organizers of the Holocaust, while in hiding in Argentina. Eichmann is brought back for trial in Jerusalem. The Eichmann Show, however, does not center on the trial or on Eichmann himself, rather the film dramatizes the action on the other side of the camera, the quest of the American director Leo Hurwitz to capture Eichmann’s humanity. Hurwitz believes that doing so will show the world that fascism and genocide are not a uniquely NAZI phenomenon, it’s part of the human condition. The great evil in the world, Hurwitz believes, is not the domain of monsters, of devils and of demons. Under the right circumstances, we are all capable of monstrosities, and Hurwitz can capture Eichmann’s humanity, even just one authentic moment of real human emotion, then Hurwitz believes that he will have done something profound.  

Spreading your memes: Cats and The Beatles

In my prior meme post, I purposefully littered my post (so to speak) with cat meme references, including a cat meme image and a cat meme video. I wanted to test a theory. I recently read a blog post by a blogger/writer who said that posting cat memes and videos was essential for pulling in blog traffic, regardless of the nature of your blog. She monitored her blog traffic closely and found a significant spike in hits for each blog post that included a cat-themed meme. Her advice: stick cat memes in your blog posts, regardless of whether it ties in with anything. The results for my blog post? No significant spike in traffic. Maybe the algorithms are already aware of the gimmick.

David Foster Wallace

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (2012)

I recently finished Every Loves Story is A Ghost Story, a biography of David Foster Wallace. It was one of the best biographies I’ve read in quite a while, which is perhaps a bit surprising when you think about it, because a writer’s life doesn’t really tend to be the stuff of compelling story telling. Wallace himself joked about this. The writer’s life is not necessarily the stuff that makes for a tense, action-packed thriller. Even so, I was hooked. Maybe it’s just that I’m a writer and reading about the neurotic life of another writer is appealing, therapeutic even, but I think D. T. Max in truth just knocked it out of the park. It was easy to empathize with Wallace, in his struggle to write something in a form that both resonated with and challenged his contemporaries, all the while dealing with very intense periods of depression and self-doubt.

Rained out

I tried a long hike today but an hour and a half in I found myself completely drenched. My rain jacket has seen better days, days that are, at this point, a distant memory, and the goretex lining on the inside felt as futile in staving off the elements as our democratic process has been these days in keeping cronies and corporate lobbyists out of Washington. It was windy as well, and cold enough that hiking for another four or five hours might be hazardous to my health. So I decided to turn back and call it quits. The rain is good, though. It’s been a relatively dry winter, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, or so it’s seemed to me. This is, after all, a freaking rain forest, by technical classification: very dry summers but pouring buckets in the winter months. And of course California needs all the precipitation it can get. My hike notwithstanding, I welcome the downpour. No pictures today, from this hike. Smartphones don’t like monsoon-like rains, fickle bastards that they …

Snowy Alaska, McCarthy AK

Feeling a bit of AK nostalgia, posting this photo from one of the winters I was in McCarthy. Like many places in Alaska, when the snowpack forms and rivers freeze, it creates an entirely different place. A snow machine or a pair of skis open up new trails and roads that are inaccessible during the warm months. Just one of many of the things that make Alaska such a dynamic place, a place where I can always feel in my bones my mortal impermanence and tenuous existence.