love letters


Wednesday May 3/2006
4:58 AM
After a disturbed sleep, yet feeling good

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?
—Alice Walker


I don’t know why this section is called Extras. It could have been called Asides, or Stuff, or it could have not been created at all. I don’t even know exactly how it’s differentiated from the other sections. What I’m saying is there was no profound rationalization to the distinctions.

I guess it’s sort of copying the theme of the “Bonus Features” section on DVDs. I don’t often watch Bonus Features but I feel more relaxed in knowing that there are Bonus Features just in case I want to watch them.

With Bonus Features I feel like I’m being secretly let into something—with every other willing consumer. It’s actually a two dimensional splicing and combining of a few ideas telling us how a person “feels” about a two dimensional splicing (say, the film) of what was once a three dimensional portrayal of a situation that was (probably painstakingly) written down on a two dimensional piece of paper and acted out in three dimensions.

String theory says there are eleven dimensions—but among the extra eight dimensions, nobody’s saying a word. We’re living in a play inside a play inside a play and on and on.  Night. Day. The seasons. Good days. Bad days. Breathe in, breathe out. Extras. No extras.

It’s remarkable how unconscious actions can be, the ones we so proudly call our own. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna (who is supposed to be God) says to his cousin and best friend Arjuna who, due to the fighting of his in-laws, is a confused human like most of us:

All beings are forced to act helplessly according to the material qualities [their nature] they have acquired as a result of actions performed in previous lives, therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.

In case clever people are trying to somehow wiggle out of that contract, thirty little stanzas later God adds (3:33):

[Not so fast, Smarty Pants], even persons of great knowledge are forced to act according to their own material nature, for everyone follows the nature they have acquired.  That material propensity [their nature, not money] cannot be repressed.

So I called this section Extras, even though surely we already have enough in this life that we don’t need extras—unless that includes, as Jimmy Stewart said in Mr Smith Goes To Washington, “…a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness—and a little looking out for the other fella, too.”

Do we even need websites, or the Internet, or answering machines? Maybe if we have them, we need them. It’s all part of that play inside the play inside the play. Less than twenty years ago, the Internet, Websites, DVD bonus features and way over a billion people now living didn’t exist as they do now. And probably another billion have died.

This world’s got high turnover, man—thank God I’m eternal, he replied, unable to prove it.

On January 3rd, 1983, Time Magazine named the personal computer “Person of the Year” for 1982. In 1993 the World Wide Web reached critical mass, and was told to diet, but refused. There are something like 80 million websites in the world with registered domains.

Oprah (who sort of belongs to all of us) has over one hundred million of her own web pages accessed by folks every month. Uganda Rising is actually on one of those pages. It’s about kids who need pens and paper sent overseas just so they can do homework (on a good day), to hopefully learn enough about god-knows-what so that they can find a way to one day get extras, too.

What an amazing, baffling experience it is to be alive. I think I’ll go back to bed. No, maybe I’ll just sit here in the quiet and try to remember.


copyright 2006 Pete McCormack