who the heck knows anything, anyway

Thursday, June 29, 2023

june 29 - Irish origin story

While poking around JSTOR this afternoon, I came upon a paper titled "Rhetoric of Myth, Magic, and Conversion: A Prolegomena to Ancient Irish Rhetoric". Obviously I read it. On page four, there was a quote (footnoted--although the footnote doesn't actually match the resource), and the poetry of it was almost painfully beautiful. So I tracked it down, found the full story online. Here's a larger excerpt than that used in the journal paper. Prepare yourself:

Brigit ceased to sing, and there was silence for a little space in Tir-na-Moe. Then Angus said:

"Strange are the words of your song, and strange the music: it swept me down steeps of air--down--down--always further down. Tir-na-Moe was like a dream half-remembered. I felt the breath of strange worlds on my face, and always your song grew louder and louder, but you were not singing it. Who was singing it?"

"The Earth was singing it."

"The Earth!" said the Dagda. "Is not the Earth in the pit of chaos? Who has ever looked into that pit or stayed to listen where there is neither silence nor song? "

"O Shepherd of the Star-Flocks, I have stayed to listen. I have shuddered in the darkness that is round the Earth. I have seen the black hissing waters and the monsters that devour each other--I have looked into the groping writhing adder-pit of hell."

The light that pulsed about the De Danaan lords grew troubled at the thought of that pit, and they cried out: "Tell us no more about the Earth, O Flame of the Two Eternities, and let the thought of it slip from yourself as a dream slips from the memory."

"O Silver Branches that no Sorrow has Shaken," said Brigit, "hear one thing more! The Earth wails all night because it has dreamed of beauty."

"What dream, O Brigit?"

"The Earth has dreamed of the white stillness of dawn; of the star that goes before the sunrise; and of music like the music of my song."

"O Morning Star," said Angus, "would I had never heard your song, for now I cannot shake the thought of the Earth from me!"

"Why should you shake the thought from you, Angus the Subtle-Hearted? You have wrapped yourself in all the colours of the sunlight; are you not fain to look into the darkness and listen to the thunder of abysmal waves; are you not fain to make gladness in the Abyss?"

Angus did not answer: he reached out his hand and gathered a blossom from a branch:

he blew upon the blossom and tossed it into the air: it became a wonderful white bird, and circled about him singing.

Midyir the Haughty rose and shook out the bright tresses of his hair till he was clothed with radiance as with a Golden Fleece.

"I am fain to look into the darkness," he said. "I am fain to hear the thunder of the Abyss."

"Then come with me," said Brigit, "I am going to put my mantle round the Earth because it has dreamed of beauty."

Oh jeez, consider me overwhelmed with emotion!

There are few things as powerful as origin myths. If there's a boring one out there, I've never heard it.

Seriously. "The Earth wails all night because it has dreamed of beauty"? Brigit. Stop it. It's too good. And strangely topical? I imagine the Earth is wailing a bit these days--her terrible return to a god-frightening abyss. Or maybe it's just we humans doing the wailing, stuck down here in the groping writhing adder-pit of hell. If I was still on Twitter, I think I'd have a great new bio. 

Read here for the full list of stories by Ella Young, 1910

june 28 - all the presidents' dogs

Earlier today, I considered how it would be a fun little project to draw the dogs belonging to each president. Looking into the matter, I realized that would not be a "little project." But the list was so interesting that I had to make a note of some of the wilder facts! I had to!

So here we go. Important notes on presidential pets (collected from wikipedia):
(note: I won't be mentioning every president--just the ones with weird anecdotes. Most of the presidents have dogs, cats, and/or horses, depending on the time period)
  • John Adams had a dog named Satan.
  • Thomas Jefferson owned a sheep that killed a "fine young boy."
  • James Madison's only pet was a parrot. The parrot outlived him.
  • It's possible that John Quincy Adams' only pet was...silkworms. (There's also an apocryphal alligator, but a not-real alligator is not a pet. Exception made for imaginative children.)
  • Surprising no one, Andrew Jackson kept fighting chickens.
  • James Buchanan had a Newfoundland, a toy terrier, aaaaaand an eagle.
  • A drunk person murdered Abraham Lincoln's dog after he was assassinated, which is all kinds of fucked up.
  • Abe also had a cat that he said was "smarter than [his] whole cabinet," which is amazing.
  • Benjamin Harrison had a goat, a dog, two opossums (excellent choice), and...two alligators. Real ones this time.
  • Teddy Roosevelt had an unsurprisingly huge number of animals. They include *deep breath*: guinea pigs, ponies, a lizard, a hen, a number of dogs, a macaw, a garter snake, a rat, a small bear, a badger, a pig, a rabbit, cats, a hyena, a barn owl, a rooster, and a lion (sadly, unnamed in the notes).
  • Woodrow Wilson had a ton of sheep to keep the WH lawn looking good (which is surprisingly environmentally friendly), and he sold the wool to benefit the Red Cross.
  • Calvin Coolidge had a shocking number of pets. Aside from a lot of dogs, cats, and some horsies, he had raccoons, some birds, and--this is a real Teddy move--a bobcat, lions, a pygmy hippo, a wallaby, antelope, and black bear (the latter three given to the zoo)(but only the latter three...).
  • Herbert Hoover had dogs, a bird, and--like Harrison--an opossum. Regardless of political standing, we need more opossums-as-pets in government.
  • John F Kennedy coming through with a great number of pets--all totally normal ones for rich people with kids, but a lot of them: ponies, hamsters, songbirds, a rabbit, and a great number of dogs (including the USSR-gifted puppy of a Soviet space dog, which is the interesting bit, aside from sheer number).
  • Looks like Lyndon B Johnson was the last one to have hamsters and songbirds included in the list. Things get all cats-and-dogs from there.
  • Except for Trump, who, as we all know, had no pets. Only one aside from Polk. It's not like Polk was great, either, though. They both had/have extremely bad ideas re: Mexico. 
  • Actually, technically, Andrew Johnson also didn't have pets. He also really sucked.

Conclusion: although having pets does not, by any means, guarantee you are a good person (especially if your only pets are fighting chickens, Andrew Jackson), not having pets as a president does suggest that you might be a bad person. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

june 12

I started this blog in (*checks timeline*) 2010. I was a borderline child (I don't know if you've met many 20-21 year-olds, but they are still pupae. I'm not sure a person can be described as fully-formed until the age of 27...if ever). Looking back at old posts--which I just unarchived--I am a little embarrassed. I don't know what I've written in the ~200 posts prior to 2022. Am I somewhat worried about people scouring my shit for absolutely stupid things I've written? Yes. Because people can be really mean. But I've never been a really mean person, so I don't imagine I've said many mean things (at least not targeted at groups of people that aren't conglomerated into The Government of Any Particular Country). Still, the fear remains. I'm hoping you are all kind to me and my past self. 

Past-self didn't know a lot about me. She didn't really know that she was sick--she had ideas, inklings, but not the clinical words to put to it. 

I thought I had run-of-the-mill depression, but didn't see anyone for it. I learned (professionally) in 2012 that I also have OCD. I learned in 2017 that I also have type II bipolar. Honestly, these should have been diagnosed when I was in high school. The signs should have been a hint to the adults around me (self-harm, periods of insomnia, periods of hypersomnia, trichotillomania, paranoia, near-crippling anxiety, physical compulsions that helped me "prevent" plane crashes and being murdered...the list goes on) but--as close as the early-mid 2000s are to now--mental health interventions were not easily available, and I was "high-functioning" (which, to be fair, did make it a little less obvious if you weren't looking for it). There was a hangover, I think, from a 1990s fear of over-medicating children. I was also afraid of being diagnosed with something bad. My maternal grandmother had a host of mental health issues, and she was estranged from everyone. A "bipolar" diagnosis of any kind was, in my eyes, a point of immense shame.

Around that same 2016-2017 time period, I learned that all of my crazy physical body issues were related to a trifecta of conditions abbreviated to EDS/MCAS/POTS. It led to an exciting few years of figuring out medications that worked together. I'm still working on that, in fact; juggling pills and tinctures and physical interventions, constantly assessing my state of mind in case something's amiss. Honestly, I feel like my body is The Great Betrayer; it doesn't do so many things it's meant to.

I haven't written in years. I had to stop tattooing when I got really sick, and Oregon does not make it at all easy to get re-licensed, so I haven't started again. I've done freelance art stuff off-and-on, which is great, but all those comics I used to write? As I said, I haven't written in a long, long time. I developed mild aphasia for a couple of years, which didn't help. My blog was generally abandoned in 2015. 

It's the writing that hurts the most. I spent my life writing--wanting, deeply, to be a writer. It felt like a super-power, too; it was the thing I was good at (not sure the blog demonstrated this, though. haha). I had stories in my head, I had a laptop, and I had a host of professors and peers cheering me on. I even got a few things published. But after I graduated with my MFA, something inside of me died. My thesis advisor and I had very different ideas, and my whole thesis--two years of work with other advisors--was gone. I had to rewrite everything. What I came away with was dead words on a dead page bound in dead cow skin. 

All this is to say that I'm very different now. I have more nuanced views of the world. There are things I can't do--I know that--and there are other things I very much wish I was doing. I can't be everything I want to be. None of us can. It can be painful, but we grow, we transition into new beings. We are each a Ship of Theseus, all the way down to our cells.

Vulnerability shouldn't be a curse, but a gift. So I'm leaving my old posts up. Please, again, be kind to my young self, for all her flaws and strange perspectives, because she was her own person as much as she is a part of me. She deserves to be remembered.

Aside: I'm glad that "kids these days" have a chance to get help early. The internet is full of resources that didn't exist when I was a kid, and many parents are more familiar with the early signs (because many in my cohort are having kids, and a lot of us have mental health issues). I wonder who I could have been if I'd had help sooner. I'm very (extremely) lucky in having found a partner who cares about me so much that none of this has affected our relationship, but in another universe, baby Killian grew up to be a paleontologist or a neuropathologist because wasn't too terrified to take college science classes. She probably has a lot of student debt, but she's always knee-deep in dirt or elbows-deep in brains.