The Fruits Of Plunder And Atrocity

the act of killing coverIt’s been about a month since I watched The Act Of Killing (iTunes rental). I watched the regular version of the film even though the director’s cut was offered, as well. According to the film’s promoters I should have watched the director’s cut. No duh! I just have this thing about downloading stuff; call me a minimalist. I will always prefer a two hour version over a three hour version. Time is money, you know. Nomatter. Here’s the the thing to keep in mind about worst-moi watching this film. Since watching it I’ve had trouble sleeping, found myself searching youtube for videos about Hitler’s drug addiction, and I even spent a few hours trying to figure out how meth is made in case I have to live in a dungeon-like basement during the period of the world’s end. That said… It took me a few weeks to figure out what exactly was so stirring about this movie. So let’s try to go there, shall we. Figure this out, I mean.

“The fruits of plunder and atrocity.” -Joshua Oppenheimer (see this vid > ca. 3:45)

After watching The Act of Killing I spent days completely immersed in it. I was, indeed, preoccupied. And not just because I couldn’t believe what I watched. I mean. I had heard of the film when it first came out. That part of the media does trickle down to me. You know. Headlines (on websites). Film festival accolades. (Heck! This film even has a separate wiki page for its accolades). But. As usual. It takes time for such works to actually get to me. Not only have I cut myself off from media reception by traditional means but I also don’t go to the cinema anymore and, for all practical purposes, I avoid humanity as much as possible. Except, maybe, through some social media venues–but even then I only frequent those places when I have questions that need answering or an itch that needs tickling. And so. Bored out of my mind and tired of flicking and clicking through the Interwebnets I came by The Act of Killing where I said: It’s time to watch it. I went ahead and booked the few dollars for it and within minutes I got a notice from iTunes: “your video is now ready for viewing.” Btw, I was glad to also get a notice from iTunes twenty-four hours after watching this movie that it was being deleted.

Viewing indeed! This film is almost unbelievable. Reason? It is a documentary, I think. It also a film about a film–that is being made. Stop. Wait. Let me try that again. This documentary is a story of how one makes a film about how killers, when given the change to make a film, make a film about their killings. No. Wait. One more time. This film is a piece of art that depicts killers and murderers who are asked to make a film about being…. Full stop. It is just a documentary with a very unique twist. It is about murder and mayhem, absolute ignorance and dumbfounded-ness, and the viewer is engulfed in an almost fairytale untale about inhumanity. And when it’s over all I could think about was… Hitler was a pretty heavy drug user, especially meth; fascism rose out of the red menace; great, now I can’t sleep; could I actually make meth?

I also think about this (now that I’ve gotten over the initial trauma of the film): the barbarous acts undertaken in Indonesia in the mid-’60s can be justifiable. Seriously. The killing of hundreds of thousands (millions!) of people–which lies in the hatred of the red menace–is justifiable in the minds of those who rule Indonesia. With the backing of the US government, the oligarchy of Indonesia relied on a brainwashed group of thugs and gangsters–who idealised American films about gangsters and thugs–to thwart any red menace threat to the ruling elite. Of course, the US did the same thing in South America and other parts of south east Asia. The difference to Indonesia, though, was that a small paramilitary force was let loose on the population–and that force acted like a pack of wild dogs.

Which brings me ’round to the following chain of events that took place in my mind’s eye after watching this documentary. The chain of events goes something like this: violence and cruelty > fascism wins > Adolf Hitler was a meth nut > the US must save the world from the red menace, etc. Like any movie that scares the beejeebees out of me, it takes time to get that movie out of my head. After about four weeks I was able to thwart the fears of thug killers in distant lands justifying their behaviour. Dry heaves n’all. Yet there is a weighted irony about what Indonesia went through then and what we all are forced to go through now. Indeed. The timeless tentacles of fascism are long and arduous. And those tentacles have fingers and ears and whispering tech devices that know (y)our every move. Which some people don’t seem to mind since we have the profits of those devices which are made at close to zero labour costs. Yes. Indeed. Fascism. Chain of events. My mind’s eye is still lost with this question: What was actually murdered in the fight against the red menace? Humanity? Full stop.

Rant on. -t

PS I’m already afeared about watching this film’s part II: The Look Of Silence. But endure must we all.

All In A Days Workplace

 

Dustin Hoffman as Travis BickleNote on the pic above: this is a screenshot from my iPad4 of the initial post of an article that appeared on salon.com. Clicking on the pic will enlarge it. The author of the article mistakes Dustin Hoffman as the actor in the movie Taxi Driver. An honest mistake–I guess. The post has since been corrected, although the correction is not mentioned. Got that? I wonder what else confuses the author where he feels there’s no need to add a correction notice. But I digress.

It’s ok. Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. The point is to learn from our mistakes. The goal is not perfection but the will to strive for perfection. It’s ok. You’ll do better next time. Or something like that. -t

So it goes. The pat on the shoulder. A gesture of forgiveness. And let’s not forget the unspoken. That is, the unspoken thoughts behind both the forgiver and the maker of errors. For there is, dear worst-reader, a dynamic between forgiver and error-maker–a very profound dynamic. As is the case with the article that lead to this post. What a crock of shit it is, indeed. And not just because the author of the article confuses one iconic actor with another iconic actor from an iconic movie–which deals with one of two parts of the #americant way of life: violence. The author (of the salon.com article that motivated this post) is an obvious knower of #americant misdeeds, haphazard daily life, all ruled by: violence. But the author leaves out the other part of #americant life: money. And so we have: money and violence. Money. Money. Money. Bang. Bang. Bang. These two things are what make and define #americant–even America. But there is, as usual, some confusion–as is the case with the author of the salon.com article (see pic above). Of course, America’s (and #americants) duality one can consider analogous to other things. E.g. Murder vs wealth. Destruction vs (social) status. Arrogance vs. humility. War on drugs vs a country of pharma-junkies. Winner vs loser. Ok. Maybe the winner and loser thing isn’t exactly analogous. For you can have losers that are… Oh so rich and powerful. Can you say The Donald? But let’s not get off subject.

Money and violence. The American way of life. #americant. But how does it all tie-in to what happened the other day where yet another American decided to pursue only one of (his) two options (in being American)? Well, I reckon I just answered my own question. Yet. It is very easy to mis-read what is going on these days, dear worst-reader. For one thing, how many other people have been murdered or killed this week? Does it even matter? I will give credit to the salon.com writer (see article below) for one thing. He did a great job putting together a list of batshit killers in his article. But tying today’s distraught society with yesteryears waring factions (i.e. Booth and Guiteau) is a bit of a stretch. Comparing recent shooter with the likes of Timothy McVeigh is also a bit hard to swallow. Obviously most of the people that commit these acts have their reasons for doing it. But to say that these acts are somehow connected? Well, I’m not sure I can follow that logic.

Indeed, dear worst-reader. It’s easy to mis-read things today. Perhaps that’s because if one does really read it–look at it and look deeper–the mirror starts to appear. Or we see how the authors of our lives get things so terribly wrong. Add to that the fact that there’s all this confusing stuff about first person shooters (for me Wolfenstein–oh mein leben!–comes to mind), manifestos and motivation. Like. What is this guys true motivation? This shooting should probably be known as: yet another office shooting by a begrudged, marginalised, under-achiever whose life, like so many, is determined by the elbows of others. In one article I read, frightened colleagues at the TV station where the victims worked were afraid that the killer was coming to get them. Now why would they be afraid for the lives? Could it have something to do with their elbows?

The only reason this shooting is getting any attention is because a picture perfect blonde is killed in cold blood and everyone can watch it on their smartassphone. And btw! Where is the manifesto the killer wrote AND FAXED–who faxes these days–to the media? Do the powers-that-be really believe that Americans can’t handle what this American killer wrote? Again. Looking too deep into these things means: mirrors. So sit back and don’t ask too many questions. The truth is in the safe hands of media editors everywhere. Oh yeah. Violence and  money, baby. Oh yeah. Violence and money and… avoid those mirrors.

Good luck suckers. Rant on. -t

Link that motivated this post:

American Economy = Debt Deflation

It is astonishing to hear/read stuff like this. Man, does this guy (vid) nail it. In fact, Hudson just about sums up the whole shebang in a few words within a fifteen minute video. Most important part of the interview, in worst-writer’s opinion, is in the quote below. Reading about Monday’s “stock crash” because of China just kept me laughing as though I was reading about Greece. Go figure. How #americants will deal with this is another question. For example. Even though I’m diggin’ what Bernie Sanders is saying, I don’t think he’s electable because he’s too extreme for the current political environment which has been nurtured, yes, nurtured, by the 99% since Reagan. Bernie would be a huge shift in that political environment and I don’t think a shift like that has ever happened in the US. Not saying that it can’t happen. Hopefully the new generation of voters that are out there can see through what baby-boomers and conservatives have done. What is probably needed is a gradual political left-leaning shift and then some consistency on the part of the electorate to always be able to counter rightwingnut extremism. But what do I know? I jumped ship after Reagan cause I saw all this coming.

“The real problem is that we’re still in the aftermath of when the bubble burst in 2008, that all of the growth in the economy has only been in the financial sector, in the monopolies—only for the 1 percent. And it’s as if there are two economies, and the 99 percent has not grown. And so, the American economy is still in a debt deflation. So the real problem is, stocks have doubled in price since 2008, and the economy, for most people, certainly who listen to your show, hasn’t grown at all. So, finally, the stocks were inflated really by the central bank, by the Fed, creating an enormous amount of money, $4.5 trillion, essentially, to drop over Wall Street to buy bonds that have pushed the yields down so high—so low, to about 0.1 percent for government bonds, that pension funds and investors say, “How can we make money?” So they buy stocks. And they borrowed at 1 percent to buy up stocks that yield maybe 4 percent. But who are the largest people who buy the stocks? They’re the companies themselves that have done stock buybacks. They’re the managers of the companies that have used their earnings, essentially, to push up stock prices so they get more bonuses. Ninety precent of all the earnings of the biggest companies in America in the last five years have gone for stock buybacks and dividends. It’s not being invested. It’s not building new factories. It’s not employing more people. So, the real problem is that we’re in a non-recovery in America, and Europe is in an absolute class war of austerity. That’s what the eurozone is, an austerity zone. So that’s not growing. And that’s really what’s happening. And all that you saw on Monday was just sort of like a shift, tectonic shift, is people realizing, “Well, the game is up, it’s time to get out.” And once a few people want to get out, everybody sees the game’s up.” -Source: Democracy Now!

Good luck suckers. And. Rant on. -t

 

Fire Sale

hellenic rep dev fun website horse racing
Screenshot taken from http://www.hradf.com/en (see date of post) featuring sale of horse racing track. Yeah, selling this will save Eurowasteland. Posting pic because site might not last long. Or?

Still giggling about Greece? Yeah, me too. Yet there is something sobering about the whole (or)deal. Or is there something drunken-ing about it? Nomatter. Alexis Tsipras has recently announced he wants another–ANOTHER–vote. This time, though, he wants a vote not on his policies but on him. Which obviously makes sense since the Greeks can probably forget owning their country, thanks to Mr. Tsipras. Or, better yet, thanks to various leaders from its most recent past. Yes. Greece has most definitely gotten itself into a pickle. Not unlike a Vegas addict. Or perhaps Greece is a drunkard. Too much financialization over-kill, anyone? And so. In order for Greece to pay off the debts it has accumulated (from its addiction(s)), it has to sell assets. And. It’s not as though Greece hasn’t tried to sell assets before. But there is the issue that fate seems to have a dicey sense of humour when it comes to either people or countries that can’t control themselves at the poker table–or at the bar. With that in mind. Let’s pull the Hitler card–or, better, let’s just consider the pics of Angela Merkel with that moustache. A fitting picture (image) indeed as, it seems, Germany is now the proud owner of… Greece’s airports? Ok. I know. “Owner” is probably not the proper word. Remember there are Euro-lawyers and media moguls at work here. Germany is the operator of the company that will run Greece’s regional airports. Which might be a good thing if one forgets about Frankfurt and Berlin airports. I mean, most German airports are run pretty well–on account they’re over-kill–that is, Germany doesn’t need half the airports it has. But at least the smaller ones are clean. Planes have places to park. There’s lots of traveler amenities–even though no one can afford to buy the krapp they’re trying to sell behind all that glass. But here’s the thing. Guess who owns a majority stake in the company that now will run Greece’s airports? No. It’s not some private company in the hands of German business moguls a’la Donald Trump. No. In fact, the German state owns the largest financial stake in that company. And that’s not all. Guess who will now take over telecom broadband service for Greece? If you guessed Germany without knowing what the German company name is, that’s fine. The name of the company doesn’t matter. Remember and heed this: there is no privacy in Germany and there is nothing private in Germany either. Germany is, if one looks deep enough, the last bastion of successful communism in the west. It’s only rival is China–except for the simple fact that China does have to (still) repress a huge portion of its society and Germany’s portion of repression is much, much smaller. Anywho. The majority stake in the German company that is buying up (what are ultimately very profitable businesses in Greece) is the German state itself–and up to now no one else could buy them. Am I the only one to find that strange? If you like you may call the company behind the telecom purchase Deutsche Telekom but it suffices to also just call it the German State Company. And the twists don’t stop there. Greece has been trying to “fire sale” assets for years. Just google greek fire sale. They were unable to sell most stuff they put on the block. Reason? I have no clue. But my worst-guess is this: there was too much nouveau riche money after the fall of communism and during the initial stages of the Euro that (just to happened to) find its way into Greece. Again. One only has to consider how Greece was able to hide all its debts over the years. But then again. I don’t really want to know who invested in Greece and who lost what on those investments in the last twenty or so years that built all the krapp that will now be sold to Germany. But I am curious regarding who buys all or any of those islands. Indeed. Good luck suckers. Rant on. -t

Links that motivated this (worst-comment) post:

As I Die Laying

as i lay dying paperback

It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end. -Darl

Took me a while. Can’t remember exactly when I bought the book. But I do remember buying it in Frankfurt off the Leipziger Strasse near the university. I also remember reading Faulkner in College so many years ago. Can’t say the memories are fond, though. I think we read some of his short stories. Nomatter. As far as reading him goes, Faulkner is not unlike Hemingway (to me) even though the two are completely difference writers. When I was younger I just couldn’t get through either one. The pages confused me. The writing cadence (is there such a thing?) through me off. Hemingway had a way of just boring me with his endless narrations of landscapes or seas. Faulkner’s writing style threw me off, too. Something about stream of consciousness, perhaps. Or it had something to do with school, the pressures of grades, judgement. Reading in order to write a paper for a professor never did me any good, that’s for sure. Not that I’m cutting on professors or schools. But I have often thought about whether or not writers realise what is done with their work at university level. Is it a good thing? Is it a not so good thing?

A few weeks back I decided to give my library a thorough one-over and dusting. In doing so I also created a nice little database of my books. Been wanting to do that for years. Luckily technology has caught up to my wants. Found an app for my iPad that scans book bar-codes. Works like a charm. If there are no bar-codes, as is the case with this old paperback, then all I have to do is input the ISBN number and the app locates it. But I’m off subject.

ripped page
Copy not in the best shape. Missed a page.
I picked up this old paperback with the idear it was time to try again. (Btw, I’ll be trying the same thing with Hemingway soon.) And although it was slow reading, it seems I’ve finally found a way in–to Mr. Faulkner. Maybe. Here’s my first impression. Faulkner writes As I Lay Dying with a vengeance. Even though I was only able to get through one or two chapters with every sitting, I looked forward to the next time I opened the book. The breaks in-between allowed me (my mind) to breath–from the Anstrengung. Yet Faulkner has a style, a cadence, if you will, that is tumultuous. I don’t know if its because of his ability to write as his characters actually speak or if its getting my mind to play along with the accents of the southern characters he’s portraying–accents that I know so well. In fact, I found it sometimes easier to read the text out-loud. My better half would often tell me to stop moving my lips while reading. “It means you’re stupid,” she’d say. Reading this book out-loud stopped my mind from having to think about each word written, how they were placed, etc. Having grown up around rednecks and Volk that aren’t the brightest stars in the heavens, the sound of Faulkner’s words were easier to speak than to read. Wait. The probably doesn’t make much sense.

Not only have I read what is probably one of the greatest books ever written but I feel as though it speaks to me, as is the case with a few other books/writers. Umberto Echo is one. The Master And Margarita is another (a book I must re-read, btw). Not sure when I’ll get to it but Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury is on my list now. That said, this book, as difficult as it is, is a joy. Supposedly written in a matter of weeks while Faulkner was working at a power plant, it was also submitted “as is” for publication. Italics are used in the text which I can only assume indicate some form of correction, collation, etc., and was set by the publisher. Other parts of the text have obvious grammar issues but I suppose that has to do with Faulkner re-creating the jargon of his characters. Although there is much said about this book, I’m wondering if all the sayers missed something.

For example. There is one thread that binds As I Lay Dying together. Although many consider it a brilliant portrayal of a downtrodden American family coping as best it can with circumstance, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of cynicism on the part of the author regarding that family. But is Faulkner also a cynic regarding the American ideal? What is portrayed in this book is not just a clumsy group of half-wits facing uncertainty. Faulkner is sharing a point of view regarding how Americans cope with that same, ever existing, uncertainty.

The death of the matriarch requires that the family trek her un-embalmed corpse for nine summer days so she can be buried in her hometown. The way Faulkner describes how they build her coffin, the text even includes a small drawing, is brilliant. But because the mother wanted to be buried in her wedding dress, they think they have to lay her up-side-down so that the dress won’t be crushed by the shape of the coffin. Imagine a bumbling group of half-wits trying to figure that out! Because of wild weather and a flooded river the family not only shows its lack of cognitive ability but also its self-destructive nature. Crossing the river causes great loss plus a broken leg for one of the sons. The fact that the father eventually pours concrete on the broken leg to try and stabilise it, well, that also says a great deal about intelligence.

Let’s see. What happens next? Oh yeah. The daughter is sexually abused by a family acquaintance on the trip and her prescribed naiveté plus ten dollars isn’t enough to get her an abortion. And here’s the real kicker. Although they make it to the mother’s wished final resting place, there is very little written about the funeral. Instead the father 1) meets a new wife and 2) with the ten dollars his daughter was given for her abortion, of which her naiveté won’t allow her to speak about it, the father takes the ten dollars to get new teeth. Indeed. That’s kinda hi-larry-us. Obviously. The best of the American family isn’t quite best enough, eh, dear worst-reader.

It seems to worst-moi that there are three ways to portray the American “family”. There’s the funny way, there’s the sad way and then there’s the violent way. Funny and violent seem to mix well. The Sopranos comes to mind. Portraying the American family sad is a bit more difficult to do. I mean, who wants to watch reality? But I’m sure there are examples out there. To categorise the Bundren family this way might be a bit belittling. And that’s ok. The text, the challenging way it is written, makes up for it all. Or?

But my mother is a fish. -Vardaman

Once again, probably for lack of proper (academic) training, and as much as I enjoyed reading this book, I can’t help but consider it a criticism of America and the ideals that permeate the American mindset. Portraying the family as a unit that must depend on its ability to rationalise any situation can only mean that it is as strong as its weakest link–I mean it’s as strong as its weakest thinker. Or maybe not. I don’t know what to say about this book and I’ve already said too much. But that’s what I do.

Rant on. -t

Not Moonstruck

moonstruck tears

Rose: Why do men chase women?

Johnny Cammareri: Well. The Bible story. God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there. (He points to his ribs.) A place where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe a man isn’t complete without a woman.

Rose: Why would a man need more than one woman?

Johnny Cammareri: I don’t know. Maybe because he fears death.

Rose: That’s it. That’s the reason.

Johnny Cammareri: I don’t know.

Rose: No. That’s it! (Pause.) Thank you. Thank you for answering my question. -from the 1987 film Moonstruck

Ok. Let’s go from a confusing love story, Moonstruck, to another confusing love story–as only America can. Let’s go to the Clinton/Lewinsky love story. Unlike the Moonstruck scandal–i.e. the bride-to-be sleeps with her groom-to-be’s brother before the wedding, of which we know the outcome–what came of the Clinton/Lewinsky love story? That’s right. Nothing. Whereas the Moonstruck scandal left us all–especially yours truly–in happy-tears, from the President of the United Mistakes of Americant, lying about a blowjob in the hallway to the oval office, came absolutely nothing. Well. Other than a bunch of lawyers getting paid lots of money, that is. Or? Ok. Maybe something did come out of it. Here’s what worst-moi thinks came out of it: What business is it to anyone what consenting adults do with each other? According to Ken Starr, what those adults do is the business of not only law enforcement and political parties and pundits, but also the entire nation. So I have no remorse telling you that I was furious at the moral hypocrisy of hell-bent republicans during that costly ($100m) attempt at trying to get Clinton to quit (because they were never able to get back at Dems for Nixon). In a small way I’m thankful to Starr for showing his and a large portion of America’s point-of-view regarding human behaviour. I mean, come on. After Lewinsky, blowjobs, spitting or swallowing, protein stains on blue dresses, etc., America gained a few things to talk about. Starr and Clinton also made certain that promiscuous acts of love-lust, that are NOT sexual relations with that woman, can be redefined so that men the world over can say: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, honey! And. She just sucked me off, sweety. Or. She just let me put my finger… It wasn’t sexual relations, babe. Or maybe not. On the other hand, because of Starr, America finally showed the world its obsessions–you know, like most perverts dream of doing. And get this. One of the reasons I got caught up in #eurowasteland was the fact that Europeans have a completely different take on sex. For example. They are open about it. They know about it. They are not ashamed of it. And they are not held captive by a puritan mindset that literally chokes nature by Her balls. Of course, on top of that, when sex scandals occur in Europe, people get a kick out of it. The affairs of presidents and chancellors and royalty, etc., become part of the landscape, the castles, the allure of all things medieval. Sure, there are those #eurowastelanders that condemn such behaviour but the condemnation doesn’t make the media and the population turn into a frantic horde of gigglers. Sexual misconduct on this side of the pond (Atlantic Ocean) is just waved off and society, somehow, gets on with smokin’ that doob and fucking each others brains out. As it should be. Yet in my beloved #americant things seem to be stuck–even all these years after the rigamarole of Lewinsky’s luscious lips. And so. The question still is: whose fucking business is it anyway what consenting adults do with their parts? In fact, in America, there always has to be a way to one-up something. In this case what needs to be one-upped is America’s perversions. Seriously. I bet you never gave it second thought whether or not Ken Starr’s morality served any purpose. If anything came out of what Starr did it was that he made blowjobs more popular than ever. So how is America gonna top that? Enter ashleymadison(dot)com. A website created and, obviously trafficked, for the sole purpose of aiding and abetting relationship promiscuity. Now. If you think about that in terms of web traffic, it’s probably a pretty ingenious idear. If there are websites that help people meet the love of their life, why not have a website to help people cheat on that love? Indeed. But here’s the thing. Unlike the false morality that was behind trying to get Clinton to quit (on account House impeachment wasn’t enough), the Ashley Madison data breach might just be the perversion a new generation of perverts needs. And to put a cherry on top of the new pervert cake, instead of batshit, right-wing nut-job American judges, we now have computer geeks. Confused yet? Again. It cannot be said enough. I’m not the least concerned about what consenting adults do with their time. In fact, this is such a grand display of false morality among perverts that I couldn’t help but compare it to Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr and everybody’s favourite, slick willy Bill Clinton. Yet what is this Ashley Madison thing all about? Morality? Why would hackers be moral? That would be like pirates considering the legality of their deeds. Is this about privacy? The shear act of hacking is a circumvention of privacy. Is this about control? Ok. Good question. Maybe with that we’re getting somewhere. Control. I mean, in any business transaction–double for illicit transactions–the greatest threat is trust. Could the hackers be disgruntled employees? Angry investors? Ok. Who knows. My point with all this worst-writing is this: as an already morally bankrupt country wouldn’t it be a good idear to try to get a grip on the perversions and then consider who done it? Or maybe not. Good luck suckers. Rant on. -t

Links that motivated this post:

Deep In Me

Deep Freediving Cover Nester

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science And What The Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves, by James Nestor

At first it was difficult for me to share the astonishment and shock James Nestor expresses upon his initialisation to the world of freediving. I’ve been a fan and admirer of it for years. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of swimming deeper and further, the ocean being the ultimate gateway. When there was no ocean around pools, lakes and rivers served me just fine. Up until a a few years ago I could hold my breath easily for more than two minutes. I used to go to the bottom of five meter pools and just lay there until I was forced to go back up and suck on that ugly teat of life. But up I went because I new that all I had to do was take a deeper breath and I could go back down to my tranquility. Of course, the deepest part of pools was usually under some diving board area. Before I could get enough tranquility someone would always come over to me and ask that I stop what I was doing because I was in the way of those wanting to use the diving board. Safety, rules, regulations come first, eh? I would nod to the local-yocal policing-person–you know the type: the person in a public place that can’t mind her/his own bidness. In the back of my mind I would tell that person to fuck-off, hoping, wishing, that fireworks would burn out of his ass. Then, for shits & giggles–and for my exit from tranquility–I’d take a deep breath, find my way to the bottom of the pool, close my eyes and slowly crawl along the edge, away from the diving board area, up the slope to the one meter swimming area, the whole time following the ocean that is the lie of my mind.

When I was a kid we used to camp along the Indian River Inlet in Rehoboth, DE. The inlet was a great place for fishing because of how it was artificially maintained. Huge boulders and rocks lined the inlet making it both a home and a hunting ground–besides providing access to the ocean. The constant turbulence of seawater being exchanged from the Atlantic and the brackish water from the Indian River Bay made it a lazy fisherman’s dream. There were times you could cast a line with a worm rig and within minutes you’d be reeling in Tautog or Black Drum. But there was a catch to fishing there. Those fancy lures and hooks would get caught on the rocks of the inlet. You were guaranteed to lose rigs. You could hear the fisherman at times cursing the rocks. Which brings me to my first scuba experience.

My stepfather started scuba in the mid to early sixties. He owned all his own gear, including regulator and tank–stuff that looked like it was right out of an early Bond movie. I’d strap on that tank, throw the mouth piece of the two stage regulator hose over my head and started sucking. “Breath normal,” he’d say. “And don’t leave the rocks.” I filled my mask with spit, wipe the glass, and then covered my face. I wore thick plastic gloves so that the hooks wouldn’t pierce my skin and strap-on sandals to protect my feet. Other than that I wore a bathing suit. I would submerge myself without fins–because I wasn’t supposed to swim anywhere, just pull and/or walk along the boulders a few feet under the surface. I’d go under and in a few minutes return with a handful of perfectly useable and sellable fishing rigs. I paid for a lot of rides and cotton candy at Ocean City, MD, boardwalk that summer by selling those rigs. Cool.

It took twenty-five years before I would strap on scuba gear again. My better-half, who was already a master diver when I met her, was skeptical (as all Germans are) when I told her that I would gladly get certified to go diving with her. Part of her skepticism was that it took her, even after getting certified, about fifty dives before she felt comfortable at depth. Within a few days, in the middle of late winter in Germany, I got my scuba certification–diving in a lake in Hessen that was almost frozen. Needless to say, I quickly proved my diving worthiness. It’s like riding a bike, I said. But there’s one problem. Now with more than a hundred dives behind me, having experienced places like The Red Sea, Bali, Thailand, etc., I have to admit that something is missing. Every time I get in the water with that tank strapped to me I know that there is something else out there. Something more. Something more tranquil.

The thing is, when I dream about diving–and I dream about it all the time–I never dream that I’m wearing an aqualung. I dream of freediving. Heck, even when I walk our dog I hold my breath for as long as I can–thinking about how soft ocean water feels on my skin. When I walk through forests I don’t see trees and leaves and green. I see an ocean vastness where I’m condemned (for all my crimes) to walk on its floor with my feet. So I shut my eyes and start mis-echolocating and bumping into trees. Indeed. Bumping into trees while dreaming about oceans. It’s my dog’s laughter that makes me open my eyes again.

James Nestor has written a stunning, beautiful book that I didn’t know I was lusting to read for a long, long time. When I read about Natalia Molchanova dying recently during a practice freedive I became a bit obsessed with trying to understand not only the mechanics of freediving but the emotional attachment that so many have to it. Even though I’m only a muggle (scuba diver) and not a magician (freediver) I think I can understand what these people feel–not only at depth but the longing to be in the salty-sweet bosom of  The Big Her. Mr. Nestor answered most of the questions I had regarding this sport. Also, Nestor, without condemning the sport, makes it quite clear why freediving as competition is probably not worth the danger. In recent years there have been too many deaths. Yet something drives people to compete and dive further, deeper, deeper. I get that.

Nestor saves the day, though. The way he articulates the beauty of freediving, the importance of the ocean on this (our) blue planet or some of the science behind how sperm whales communicate, is worth every word. This is one of those books that I got through in a matter of hours and the whole time regretting that the reading would eventually come to an end.

Rant on. -Tommi (a freediving dreamer)