Sunday, March 30, 2014

Interview With Frederick Ceely

I sat for this interview, and let me tell you, the interviewer and I were so simpatico that it was almost like talking to myself.   

Q:  Not much was known about you before the incident, so forgive me if some of my questions seem naïve or impolite. 
A:  Regarding the incident, let me just say that no charges were ever filed and there are no civil cases pending.

Q:  Fair enough.  Let’s start with your blog, much of your footprint in the world is taken up with your blog. 
A:  And Facebook, I’m quite an avid user of Facebook. 

Q:  Yes, but you, and almost everybody, prefer to keep things light and airy on Facebook, while your blog, Spin Easy Time, can be quite dark.
A:  Thank you, yes, the “other Fred” comes out periodically on Spin Easy Time.

Q:  So, why blog?
A:  Well, it wasn’t my idea initially.  My son suggested it, because I was living in Thailand and presumably interesting things were happening.  So, rather than blow him off, you know, I started the thing.  I think he even set it up for me.  So I started the blog essentially because I am an agreeable man who only wants to make other people happy.

Q:  Ah!  The famous Fred sarcasm!
A:  Touché.

Q:  Seriously, why blog?
A:  For one thing, I enjoy the process of writing.  It imposes a reduced pace on thinking and greater clarity on the mind.  Also, you don’t really understand anything unless you can write it down in such a way that others can read and understand it. 

Q:  Are you suggesting that you write the blog for your own benefit?  Do you even care if anyone else reads it?
A:  Oh, I care.  These days I’m getting between fifty and one hundred visits per day, and I’m thrilled about that.  I’m thrilled that people are reading what I write.

Q:  Have you considered other forms of writing?
A:  More than considered it.  I’ve always been a motivated reader and a frequent letter writer.  I’ve written a couple of hundred poems, and there are some that I think are good.  Nothing published.  Six short stories, four or five thousand words apiece, there are two that I like, two or three.  None published.   Half a novel, about forty-five thousand words, it would need a lot of work to finish it and get it ready to be read. 

Q:  Are you pursuing those efforts? 
A:  No.  Why bother?  No one reads poetry, it only makes people angry.  Publishing anything is a nightmare, at least a nightmare of rejection.  If you’re lucky it’s a nightmare of editors.  The writers that make it are usually better at marketing than at writing.  Terrible!  My life is hard enough already. 

Q:  Well, the blog then. 
A:  Fire away!

Q:  Who are your readers?
A:  My most popular post by far is called “The Fifteen Greatest Roman Generals.”  It first went up in mid-2008.  Every month since then it has been in the top five by hit count, every month.  So maybe my readers are people around the world who are interested in Roman military history. 

Q:  There’s that sarcasm again. 
A:  Sorry, I can’t help it.  Really I think my readers are a hard core of a couple of dozen regulars and the rest are random Googlers. 

Q:  Do you get a lot of comments?
A:  Not any more.  For the first few years there were a lot of comments, and I knew almost everybody.  I think only my friends were reading at that point.  By now, most of my friends have become sick of the blog and I’m better at generating Google hits, you know, thinking about labels and key words, little things like that. So now comments are rare, and almost always from strangers.  I do get a couple of good ones every month though, and most are sympathetic and encouraging.  Most.

Q:  One thing about Spin Easy Time, there doesn’t seem to be any real unifying principle to it, is that intentional?
A:  No.  I just try to put up a variety of posts to keep the entertainment factor going.  Photos of Thailand, music videos from YouTube, fun stuff.  I do always try to include a personal comment or observation with every one of them.  I think that a blog should always be personal. 

Q:  But then, in between the lighthearted stuff, you like to include a periodic punch in the stomach.
A:  Just when they least expect it!  Yes, I do that.  I inhabit a dark universe, but no one else should be exposed to a steady diet of that.

Q:  I see.  Much of that darkness seems to involve politics.
A:  Dark business, that. 

Q:  Politics and American society in general.  Are you really as pessimistic as you can sound sometimes? 
A:  Yes, but with reason, I think.

Q:  You seem to be particularly hard on wealthy people, and Republicans.  Some might suggest that you were envious of the rich, or that you hate them.
A:  Envious, never.  No.  The rich will always be with us, to paraphrase.  Some people are very talented, they work very hard, they have great ideas, they take chances, big risks.  They should be rich; they deserve to be rich.  Good for them.  Myself, all I ever wanted was to be somewhat financially secure and have time to myself, time for my family and myself.

The rich, generally, are not necessarily happier or healthier than anybody else.  They may fly first class and eat in more expensive restaurants, but most of them don’t even really appreciate the things that the money buys them. 

Take cars.  Some rich people buy Lambos and Ferraris, but almost all of them are just showing off.  Only an F1 driver could drive those things as fast as they can go.  I doubt if anyone ever had more fun in a Ferrari than I had driving my 1978 VW Rabbit.  That car was a blast!  Seventy one horsepower and it weighed as much as three sheets of loose-leaf.  It handled like a toy, and it had a gear box and a clutch made by Porsche.  That car was fun. 

Q:  So you don’t really grudge the rich anything?  You don’t hate them?  Some of your readers might find that hard to believe. 
A:  The grudging, no, except maybe the legacies, the generations of lucky beneficiaries who do nothing but live off the money that grand-dad earned.  Hate?  Maybe some, but by no means all. 

I certainly don’t hate sports stars.  The modern mass media market brings in hundreds of millions of dollars, and of course the players deserve their share.  I hope that they get enough!  I don’t hate most entertainers who become rich, same reasons.  I do hate some of them though, the ones with no talent and tens of millions of dollars. 

Entrepreneurs I alluded to a moment ago.  Take Mark Zuckerberg, for instance.  He saw the potential in something and brought it to the market in a form that the whole world seems to love.  He gives it away and just sells the eyes to advertisers.  God bless him, he should be rich. 

Corporate culture and big business I do have problems with.  They spend too much on executives and perks and not enough on workers.  The banking and financial industries rake off huge amounts and do little to justify it.  So those things are worth hating, and I suppose I do.

Really, I just hate that too many people are paid too little and that too many people are paid too much, if that makes sense.

Q:  Even if you’re right, what can be done about it, besides writing about it I mean.
A:  Yeah, writing about it, like “bitching at the air and the trees.”  Nobody really listens.

I’d like very much for America to adopt modern social democratic ideas like those followed by many European countries.  Fair wages and taxes, universalism, the welfare state, that kind of things.  But that’s not going to happen. 

Q:   So there’s politics.  Do you really hate the Republicans? 
A:   I suppose so.  They’ve been on the wrong side of every social issue for the last hundred years or more.  And it’s only getting worse, since Reagan, whom I definitely hate.  Before Reagan the Republicans made trouble and were a bunch of reactionaries, but at least they did it from the center, the right-center.  

Compromise solutions were still possible.  For instance, they were a bunch of racist foot-draggers, but at least they grudgingly came on board with the integration of the armed forces and civil rights legislation.
Now . . . what a bunch of pirates!  Hypocrites!  And oh, the corruption!  And still with the racism, let’s face it.  Poor Obama, I don’t know how he puts up with it. 

Q:  What about the Democrats?  Are they really any better? 
A:  That’s turning into a fair question, and I’d rather say nothing at all than get into it.

Q:  What do you think about the Tea Party?
A:  I am under strict doctor’s orders never to think about the Tea Party.

Q:  Okay.  Let’s change the subject.  Do you write under any other names? 
A:  Not now, but I do have a couple of pen-names in mind, although I haven’t used any of them yet.

Q:  What are they?
A:  Well, I like the sound of my name, Germanized.  “Friedrich Seele.”  Seele means soul in German, which keeps it close to the original meaning of Ceely. 

I like the sound of “Frederick Sorry.”  That would suit me because I’m always apologizing.

I like “Claude Selavey,” but I’m pretty sure that the Selavey part has been used already.

Q:  What’s your middle name?
A:  I don’t have one.  When I was born my parents gave me my father’s first name and then ran stone out of creativity.

Q:  How about nicknames?
A:  Now, none, unless you count “Lung Farang,” which roughly translated means “uncle white man.”

In my teens I had a couple.  My friends called me “the Planner,” because I always poured through the print media looking for free things to do that were fun, free movies, concerts, plays, museum shows.  We lived in New York City, so there was always a ton of stuff to do, but searching for the good, free stuff was a chore.  Friends would call me up and say, “what are we doing Saturday?”  And for a couple of years they called me “Captain Raps,” or just “Raps,” because I almost never shut up.
Q:  My editor gave me a few suggestions.  How about, what’s your idea of a perfect day?
A:  Any one that includes a couple of hours at the church, you know, the alter of my primary devotion.  Know what I mean?

Q:  I think so.  What is your proudest achievement?
A:  Not abusing painkillers.

Q:  If you weren’t a lawyer, a teacher and a writer, what would you be?
A:  Same as always.  A tattooed fuck-up from Queens. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marianne Rosenberg - Er gehört zu mir

And speaking of the Seventies, even stogy old Deutschland got into the act.  Just try not loving this cut, I defy you. 

Schlager, they called it.  As in schlagen, "to hit." 

Jackson Browne- Jamaica Say You Will

Lots of text coming tomorrow, so I just thought I'd drop in another song while I was thinking about it. 

I've been quiet, I've been proctoring tests.  Nine days in a row of getting up early and beating a path to school.  Working till four p.m. too.  Doing the old "oh! woe is a 'me bop!" 

"Doctor, My Eyes" was the obvious choice, but I do truly love this song too.  No vibrato!  (Richard M., please note.) 

OSIBISA "Y sharp" (1971)

The early Seventies were great.  Tons of variety were seeping into the listening habits of young rock n' rollers.  (Into the charts, maybe not so much.) 

We heard, all of a sudden, African music (Highlife, Afro Beat, South African), Japanese music (Pink Lady even had an American TV show; don't forget the Sadistic Mika Band), Italian pop music, Brazilian. I know that I heard it, and if I heard it, it could be heard. 

Of course now we can access every damn thing on the YouTube, but forgive this old man for wondering if a little bit of variety would be a good thing in the listening of everyday people too.

Monday, March 24, 2014

For The Ukraine

Hasn't the Ukraine suffered enough?  It's ridiculous. 

A lawyer named Rafal Lemkin invented the word "genocide" in reference to the 3.3 million deaths FROM HUNGER in the Ukraine in the years 1932-33. 

It is usually called a famine, but really it was more like The Great Hunger over in Ireland.  While millions of Irish were dying of hunger, Ireland was the biggest exporter of foodstuffs in Europe.  All of the agricultural products were the property of landowners who exported the food for cash, while the Irish starved.  The Ukraine, which had been essentially seized by the Soviets after they came to power in the early Twenties, had been collectivized.  The grain from the collective farms was sold for foreign currency by Stalin, while the Ukrainians starved.

Amazingly, it only got worse for the Ukraine after that.  There were the mass killings and deadly forced migrations in the late Thirties.  Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, straight into the Ukraine, and the Red Army swept back across in 1944, and in between there was a lot of back and forth along with partisan warfare and reprisals and, let's not forget, the systematic destruction of the Jews, something like a million of whom were Ukrainian Jews. 

And now the long-suffering Ukrainians must be thinking that they're having some kind of flashback from a bad, bad trip.  Russians invading them, again; Russians moving their borders, again; Russians turning them into some kind of colony, again. 

I see the problem, but I'll be damned if I have any suggestions for stopping the Soviets, I mean the Putinists, I mean the "Russian Federation."  I'm following the whole thing with interest, and I don't think it's going to go well, and I feel really bad about it, but I don't think there's anything that I or anybody else can do about it.

I really have to get over this feeling of helplessness about every damn thing.  

Opportunity And The Entrepreneurial Personality

One side of the current political stand-off in America is all about the opportunity.  The poster child for this point of view could be Willard “Mitt” Romney, who never tired of telling people that they should “borrow money from (their) parents” and start a business.  We don’t have an income inequality problem, goes the chant, we have an opportunity problem.  If we would only lower taxes to almost nothing, and get rid of these pesky regulations, Americans will be free to create wonderful business entities that will thrive and bring about a golden age of prosperity for all.  Just who these creators are is never made clear. 

The suggestion is that anyone could do it.  Anyone who would sit quietly for long enough could come up with some wonderful idea, and if the business climate were right anyone with a wonderful idea could take the market by storm and become wealthy.  It’s not that simple, I think we can all agree on that.

“Vote for me, and I’ll make it possible for you to get rich.”  That doesn’t work on me, probably because I know a few things about people.  You’d have to be stupid to believe it (he said with uncharacteristic directness).  If you believe it, I’d like to sell you a desk-top machine that changes plain paper into ten dollar bills. 

I know a few relatively successful entrepreneurs, and one fabulously successful one, and we all hear the stories of the famous ones.  Bill Gates; the Steves over at Apple; Mark Zuckerberg (sp?); the Dominos guy; the Papa John’s guy.  Some had new ideas; some knew a good idea when they saw it; and some figured that people love pizza enough that they will buy any crap if it’s cheap and easy enough.  There’s a lot more to it than an idea or business model that seems to have a good chance at success.    

You need to have THE ENTREPRENEURIAL PERSONALITY.  Probably the entrepreneurial temperament too, but I’m not an expert in the difference. 

Certainly there must be books on the subject, but I don’t want to look at any, and I don’t even want to visit Amazon to see how many there are.  I definitely don’t want to read about it.  I always prefer to re-invent the wheel in these matters.

So I went to the park, and I took paper along, and that’s where I wrote this list (sorry, Randy). 

1.  An entrepreneur must be DARING.  How daring?  I’d say that anyone who was the least bit risk-adverse need not apply.  The stress would kill them.  Starting up a new business takes money, often lots of money, and you might lose the entire bundle.  Catastrophic if it’s your money, terrible if it was provided by loved ones or friends, and no fun at all even if it came from strangers.  Then there’s the potential for embarrassment. 

2.  An entrepreneur must be DETAIL ORIENTED.  The entrepreneur must make a detailed plan, and must develop a very clear idea of how the enterprise will be made to work.  The attention to detail must be almost compulsive, almost an obsession.  Anything less will almost certainly result in failure.  It’s a version of Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it probably will. 

3. An entrepreneur must be ENERGETIC.  There are never enough hours in a day for a true entrepreneur.  There is so much to be done, and time is always of the essence.  If an entrepreneur takes a nap, it is always a ten minute power-nap after working all night. 

4.  An entrepreneur must be FLEXIBLE (ADAPTIVE).  In the course of bringing a commercial idea to life, one will always discover imperfections in the original plan.  The entrepreneur must be able to spot these and must be prepared to make alterations on the fly. 

5.  An entrepreneur must be bursting with SELF-CONFIDENCE.  The entrepreneur must have the strong belief that an enterprise conceived, planned and put together by them can be successful.  More than that, it WILL be successful.  Any weakness here puts the entire thing in doubt. 

Most people are simply not cut out to be entrepreneurs.  They just don’t have it in them.  They lack some combination of the drive, the temperament, the talent, the energy or the shear will to do it. 

For example, in terms of the five attributes listed, I possess only flexibility.  I am never afraid to admit that an original idea was flawed, and I can be pretty good at making adjustments.  I have a high tolerance for ambiguity, but that may not even be the same thing as the flexibility required of an entrepreneur.  So, one, or none, out of five, making me a terrible candidate for the role of entrepreneur.  I have, in fact, tried it, and the enterprise failed.  (No spectacularly, but it failed, and I pulled the plug.)

Most people just want to have a job and live in peace with their families.  I have always been one of them.  These people, we, should not be criticized for this desire to function only in the commercial scheme of someone else’s vision.  It is not a failure of any kind, certainly not a moral failure.  It is terribly unfair to denigrate people who do not wish to take commercial (financial) risks as “takers.”  (As opposed to “job creators.”) 

AND YES, I am writing this in fervent opposition to the current vogue for Free-Market this-and-that, privatization of every single thing from National Parks to Social Security, deregulation of business, and kleptocracy in all of its manifestations.  I find myself in passionate opposition to the Republican Party, so-called Conservatives, the Neo-Conservatives, the Neo-Liberals, to the mewing hypocrites who pass for Liberals these days, to (God help us!) the Libertarians, the Ayn Randers, to those Neo-Birchers the Tea Party, and yes, to those weak sisters who now pass themselves off as the Democratic Party. 

If that sounds like everybody to you, read the list again.  Plenty of people are left out, people of whom I approve.  I’ll let you figure out who they are.

To our current crop of elected officials, those sleek-coated, self-interested progeny of Blackbeard and Morgan the Pirate, I say:  favor the entrepreneurs (corporate interests) if you will, but ignore the common man at your peril.  There are many more of us, and when the time comes and we finally have nothing left to lose, we may even wake up.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Space Ghost Coast to Coast Opening Theme

For those who have never heard the theme song, here it is. 

It was a great show too, with lots of clips on the 'Tube. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Space Ghost Coast To Coast - Ghost Planet National Anthem

I recently read somewhere that YouTube was every Boomer in the world up-loading the contents of his basement.  They meant it in a good way, lots of sincere people sharing their lifelong love of records and music.  It's that, but it's even more.

 This jam is from a CD that a guy found in a second hand store on an army base in Italy.  Cost him a buck.  It's never been released.  It's from the session where they cut the theme song for "Space Ghost Coast to Coast."  By the great Sonny Sharrock. 

It's always been a puzzlement to me, why did jazz guitar players stick with that old school pitta-patta-pitta-pit-pit-pit style for so long?  I mean I love Kenny Burrell, and a lot of the others, and who doesn't love Wes Montgomery?  But wasn't that jazz guitar style so rigidly conventional and self-limiting?  Big, powerful amps were around, guitars had become wildly versatile.  Why not turn that thing up and show the sax players what for?  One guy did just that.

Sonny Sharrock took the technology and blew the roof right off the M.F.  He should be more famous.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Roscoe Gordon And The Birth Of Ska

Long ago a friend told me that all of Reggae music was copped from old R & B records from the Memphis/New Orleans axis.  His attitude was that it was just stripped down, "dumbified" R & B.  I thought he was being harsh. 

There's a great article at the Oxford American site this month called "That Chop on the Upbeat," by John Jeremiah Sullivan, where he makes the same point about the R & B thing, but with academic precision rather than glib bitchyness.  (He tolerates Ska and Reggae very well too, not like my friend.) 

Evidently Jamaica had no domestic record business until around the time Ska came along, 1960 or '61.  Before that the DJ's made trips to America to scout around for records that Jamaicans would like.  They had great taste too, they found and popularized a lot of great records (like this one).

Maybe I'll listen to the rest of the stuff mentioned in the article and have more to say on the subject.

(Disclaimer: I love Reggae,  O.G. Ska and Two-Tone Ska, and I love the Classic R & B too.)  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Favorite Word, Of Course

English is so strange.  The spelling in general, the formation of nouns from verbs, the delicate ballet of prepositions and articles.  It's weird to the English learner, and after I had been teaching English for a few years it started to seem weird to me too. 

As an example of the strange, consider the word "course."  What does it mean?  Well . . .

1.  The route or direction followed by a ship, aircraft, road or river.  "The ship's course will take it close to Hawaii."  "We will travel on a southerly course." 

2.  The way in which something develops.  "A course of action."

3.  One of the successive food items in a meal.  "The second course was fish." 

4.  A series of lectures or lessons.  "I'm taking a course in Thai history."

5.  A series of doses of medicine.  "The doctor gave me a course of antibiotics."

6.  An area of land prepared for a sport.  "The golf course was beautiful." 

7.  A continuous horizontal layer of bricks in a wall.  "The third course of bricks from the bottom is not level."

8.  A series of notes struck by a matched set of bells.  (I didn't remember this one.)

9.  A sail on the lowest group on each mast of a square-rigged ship.  (Never heard this one either.)

(Source: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English.)  

"Course" comes from Latin, which is never surprising.  Many English words come from Latin.  The noun was "cursus;" the verb was "currere," to run.  It came up through Old French to Middle English in the form of "cours," to run.  Now it seems to mean almost anything.

English is a constant challenge to one's common sense and a frequent affront to one's dignity, and the only way to deal with it effectively is to think of it as a hugely amusing puzzle.  English, like golf, will often seem to be slipping through your fingers.  Just when you think you've gotten the hang of it, you discover that there are more levels to it, or you're results start to decay.  Find a way to make it fun.  Find ways to continuously improve your English ability, and enjoy it while you're at it.  This is true both for those of us who were born into it and for those who struggle to learn it as a second language (and it is a struggle).  English is a beautiful language, and a great language for expressing ideas or explaining difficult concepts.  Myself, I love English. 

Remember: English is not easy, and it's not "too hard."  It's merely "hard."  Most people can do "hard" if they work at it.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thanking My Teachers (Some Of Them)

I watched the Oscars this morning (Asia time).  Ellen D. was great, blah, blah, blah . . . I enjoyed it.  One guy got to thanking people and he added, "I'd like to thank my teachers," adding with a smile, "some of them."

So I wondered: which of my teachers would I like to thank?  The list is longer than I thought it would be.

I'd like thank:

1.  Sister Joseta (second grade).  What a beautiful, kindhearted woman.  I was totally smitten.  She was very young and she was not yet suffering the inevitable bitterness of being a nun of the Order of Dominicans.

2.  Brother Etienne Cooper (high school).  The only teacher in my Catholic high school who treated me with any kindness and respect at all.  He was a very nice man, the "art teacher."

3.  Professor Sterling Callison (Pace College, now "University.")  My first Art History teacher.  A wonderful man who seemed to believe that I had something on the ball in spite of my grades.

4.  Professor Peter Fingesten (Pace College.)  Fingesten is Googleable.  He was another Art History teacher at Pace.  He was also a kind of famous Surrealist artist.  He was also a very, very funny man, in all of the good ways, and a great teacher.  He also taught us, by example, to curse in Italian.

5.  Professor Irene Winter (CUNY, Queens College.)  Still alive as of this writing, and Googleable.  She was/is a very accomplished and successful Art Historian.  She only taught at Queens for five years; now she's teaching at Harvard and Oxford, no less.  She was very encouraging, and she seemed to be genuinely interested in me, like maybe even I had some potential.

6.  Professor Robert Pincus-Witten (CUNY, Queens College.)  Still alive and famous, very Googleable.  He's a highly accomplished and serious Art Historian and curator.  Nice enough but not overly so, he nevertheless grudgingly praised my work on several occasions and allowed that I might even have had a future in that business.  (I was considering the Art History PhD career model at the time.)

7.  Professor Martin Anderle (CUNY, Queens College.)  My German professor for German 3 and 4.  He was a great teacher and a very tough task master, he worked us hard and was quite demanding.  I unsurprisingly thought that my German was shitty ("manglehaft").  He smiled once and told me, with an amused chuckle, "no, it's pretty good actually."  I learned a lot from him.

8.  Daniel Broderick, Esq. (Pepperdine University School of Law.)  I had a few very good teachers at Pepperdine, and my professors there were generally respectful (I was a "mature" student, after all, older than many of them).  Although the rest of them never actually lifted a finger to help me, Dan Broderick went the extra yard.  He was very impressed with my efforts in setting up a Public Interest Law Foundation for Pepperdine law students, and he felt that the school should do something for me in return.  Through his efforts, I got a decent law clerk job that lasted for my last year and a half of law school. He was also my Evidence teacher.  That was one of the hardest finals that I have ever taken, or ever even heard of, much harder than anything on the bar exam.  I learned a lot from him. 

I believe that I learned a lot from everyone on this list.  They were a good bunch, I smile when I look at their names, I think that I was very lucky to have encountered them.

Thank God for them!  Without this precious few adults who were decent to me and were somewhat approving and encouraging, I don't know what would have become of me. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Recollection Of Dreams

Some people remember dreams clearly and frequently.  I am one of those people.  In fact, I remember dreams every time that I sleep, even in naps.  Some dreams I remember for a long time.  The earliest dream that I remember clearly came to me at the age of four, and I can remember numerous dreams from the entire course of my life.  This may be unusual, but probably not.  I tend never to think of myself as unique, or even anything approaching that. 

Maybe I just talk about dreams more than most people.  Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to recount a lot of my dreams here.  I happen to find other people’s dreams fascinating, but that is not a general condition of mankind.  So no, don’t worry.

There are many people who maintain that they never remember dreams, and some who even tell you with a straight face that they cannot recall ever having dreamed at all.  My father is one of those.  “I probably do dream,” he once told me, “but you couldn’t prove it by me.” 

I have often considered this variety of experience with what we are assured is the natural and universal experience of dreaming.  As you may expect, I have theories on the subject.

One theory could be called the physical theory of dream recollection.  It could be that the failure to remember dreams is related to the sleep patterns of the subject, the manner in which one sinks through the levels of sleep, or rises from them.  Dreaming takes place in the deepest level of sleep, which is characterized by rapid eye movement.  (REM sleep.)  I find this to be a possible explanation. 

Another possible explanation could be based in the emotional makeup of the subject.  Call it the emotional theory.  Some people, by reason of their emotional makeup, may be disposed to dream more vividly and recall the dreams.  Maybe “emotional” is the wrong word, maybe some other function of mentality or personality is at work.  Maybe it’s a little bit of both theories at work.

The no-recollection people, the ones that I have known, are very deep sleepers.  My father, for example, would hit the bed after draining the last of fifteen cups of coffee that day and immediately be fast asleep.  He would remain so until it was time to get up, or until his chronic back pain woke him up.  When that happened he’d make another cup of coffee.  When his back had settled down he would return to deep sleep.  Being deep sleepers is not the only thing that the no-recollection individuals share.

They are also people who tend to be untroubled by ambiguity.  They may be very confident or they may be less so, but they tend to see things clearly and live free of doubts.  By way of supporting the “doubt-free theory,” I am on the other hand constantly plagued by doubts of all kinds, and I see everything in very ambiguous terms.  And I remember dreams to a remarkable extent, like Pete Rose remembers balls and strikes in every important at bat for his entire career. 

I am persuaded by medical science that we all dream, whether we recall the experience or not.  I am also convinced that while we sleep our minds continue to churn away on the problems that we encounter in our lives.  Probably we do this continuously, below the level of consciousness.  I am convinced because I have evidence from my own experience. 

Forgive me one personal example:

I took the California bar exam one August.  The exam is the culmination of three years plus of very hard work, and any failure to cross that last hurdle will ruin the entire effort.  We didn’t hear the results until November, a wait of approximately ten weeks.   Early in the week in which we were to hear the results, I had a clarifying experience.  I had a job at the time, and I drove to work one morning, parked the car in a suitable spot and was walking the long block and a half to the office.  I was not thinking of anything in particular, and I was not worrying about anything.  I had been sure that I had passed the test from the time that I had taken it, and nothing had happened to shake that confidence.  (I had, in fact, passed the test.)  I looked up into the trees and a flash of sunlight caught my eye.  In that fraction of a second, I remembered the test, and a particular essay question in all of its details, and I remembered an issue that I had failed to spot.  I had left something, maybe something important, out of my answer.  And I remembered that the omission had come to me in a dream the night before.  That was nine full weeks after I had taken the test.  So yes, I believe that our minds are at work 24/7, for better or worse.

I tend to think that it is a lucky thing that I remember so many dreams.  I find it most entertaining, for one thing.  Even the disturbing ones are interesting, and sometimes they even carry a discernable meaning.  I don’t envy the people that remember nothing of their sleeping time, although I’m sure that there is a certain peace in it.  I guess the lesson is that we are all as different as we are similar, the wide range of normality is at work here.  

Two Guys Doing Life With Extreme Prejudice

David Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan. On June 21, 1982 he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remanded to psychiatric lock up.  He's still there.

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Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon.  In August, 1981 he decided that the insanity thing wasn't for him, and that he would leave it all up to "God's will."  He plead guilty, period.  He was sentenced to twenty-to-life or something, and he's still there.  He's been denied parole seven times.

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I don't dwell on these things, but I do wonder sometimes.  If these guys had shot people that were not so famous and popular, would they both still be doing the hard time?  Okay, maybe not so hard for Hinckley, but I'm sure that it's not a fun place that he's in.  And Chapman, he's in Attica, that's zero fun right there.

Even the Krays got out after thirty years or so.  Maybe they were lucky that they only tortured and killed a bunch of nobodies. 

So, pick your victims carefully.