Rorschach Without the Ink

History—even recent history—tells us country names change. The place we now call Botswana once was known as Bechuanaland. Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia, then Rhodesia. Zambia was Northern Rhodesia. Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, collectively, were called Yugoslavia until not so many years ago. Myanmar was Burma. Iran was Persia. Sri Lanka was Ceylon. And on and on and on.

Therefore, Turkey‘s announced change to Türkiye (pronounced tur-key-YAY) should be neither difficult nor surprising. The name change, like every other one before it, originated at the confluence of political agendas and the thirst for recognition and hunger for power. And from a dazzling array of evolutionary socio-political triggers that, once the events fueling them are started, cannot be contained by simple power of will. The change of a country’s identity and “brand” from one thing to another is a bit like a runaway train; there comes a point beyond which there is no stopping it. And, who knows? Should we even try?

Whether the emergence of Türkiye is evidence of nationalistic fervor or not, nationalism and/or patriotism often reveals itself when power is in the balance.  It is just one of those things that happens on a planet populated to a great degree by nationalists whose allegiance is limited geographically and intellectually by artificial and by natural borders. Humans are innately tribal, though our tribes can be massive and geographically diverse. And fiercely competitive. And enormously selfish. We call ourselves patriotic; painting ourselves as merely loyalists in an attempt to hide our true identities: selfish and greedy partisan chauvinists. Patriotism is, in fact, just nationalism light; an acceptable—indeed, demanded and expected—form of jingoism. To question the rectitude of the philosophies or actions of one’s tribe is called unpatriotic; tantamount to treason. “We the people” willingly buy into that mass hysteria, seldom questioning whether our loyalties arise from being deliberately manipulated. “My country, right or wrong” is a symptom of a successful propaganda campaign. We are taught to “pledge allegiance” because people whose allegiance is unshakable are easy to control, especially when asked to embrace the unacceptable; to believe the unbelievable. Witness our incursions into Vietnam and Iraq, for example. Deliberate social manipulation brings us patriotism, nationalism, heterosexism, homophobia, racism, gender stereotyping, and a host of other social ills that masquerade as armor to protect us against darkness and evil. When the legitimacy of one of these restrictive controls (sexism or racism, for example) begins to crumble under the weight of truth, the forces of bigotry are corralled in an attempt to protect the other “isms” from a similar fate.

Well, that was a surprise. I did not expect my comment about the name change of the country we once called Turkey to lead to a political rant about the ills of nationalism and its psychotic cousins. That’s just the way my mind works. Free-association thinking, flavored with personal beliefs and biases.  Sort of like a rorschach, but without the ink splotches.


Today is mi novia‘s birthday. We will meet friends for lunch in a small town forty-five minutes west of us. We will deliver my collection of vinyl records to them at that place. The vinyl is just an excuse; we’ve been wanting to see them for a long time. The perfect birthday gift (especially to me, since these people have been my friends for forty-five years or so).  Later, we will have dinner with some other friends at a recently re-opened restaurant about which we have high hopes. Whether the restaurant meets our expectations or not, getting together with friends for a celebratory birthday dinner will be a pleasure. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I will take mi novia out to an upscale restaurant for a post-birthday celebration. We simply haven’t have the time or the inclination lately to think about such things, though. Our minds have focused on moving and unpacking. The more we think about how much we have to unpack and put away, the clearer it becomes that it probably will be Christmas of 2023 before  we complete the task.

Mi novia and I agreed, at some point, that we would not buy one another presents for birthdays, holidays, etc., etc. However, she has a habit of buying things for me year-round; if she observes that something is lacking or if she believes I will like something she encounters. she buys it. I have never been good at buying gifts. The problem is this: I often think of the “ideal” gift for a person, but if I do not act on the thought immediately, it gets lost in the muddy morass that is my brain. No matter how hard I try, I cannot remember what the “ideal” gift was. And I simply cannot think of anything else to get in its place.  I actually prefer unplanned gift-giving. Spur-of-the-moment gift-giving, in my opinion, seems more genuine than giving prompted by the calendar. And gifts are not necessarily “things.” Gifts can be experiences or simply thoughts articulated in a way that clearly demonstrate love and caring.


The dim light of dawn begins to unfold, of late, around 5:30. At the same time, bird calls commence and get louder. This morning, I hear the distinct calls/songs of cardinals piercing the silence of the morning. I can hear the sounds quite well, even though the doors and windows are shut; glass and wood cannot keep those noises from entering the house and making their way to my ears.


Be a good person, but don’t waste your time trying to prove it.

~ Paulo Coelho ~


Yesterday, I went in for a stretching/cupping session, my first one, but the therapist opted not to do the cupping because I was (and remain) insufficiently hydrated. Cupping without proper hydration, she said, could pour poisons trapped in my tissues directly into my bloodstream, which would cause me (and I quote) “to feel like shit.” My next session, scheduled for early July, will include cupping; that session will determine (for me) whether I want to pursue it. I had planned on a simple massage, but mi novia’s ex-husband’s raves about his experience with this therapist and this therapy convinced me to give stretching/cupping a try. The stretching part involved moving my arms and legs and other body parts in ways and over distances to which they are unaccustomed. I think that is good. I need to get outside my physical comfort zone and give my blood vessels and muscles and the tissues of tendons some challenges of motion. But, really, I’d love just a plain old massage, too. Really. I want a strong-hands massage to ease the tension in my too tight muscles. Soon, perhaps. Maybe.


When people inquire about “how are you?” the correct answer depends on context. Who’s asking the question? How close are they to you? Do they really want to know? “Fine” is the normal, generic, safe response. Even when you’re not fine at all. Even when you want to reveal anguish or fear or deep, unending sadness, “fine” is the best response. Depending on context, of course. It’s hard, though, to know whether the question is simply an automatic one meant only to get or keep a conversation going. If that’s the case, a truthful answer probably is not the right answer. Even when the query is genuine, the time or place may not be right to let loose with all the challenges facing you. Rather than wait for the appropriate context, though, it’s best to seek out the right listener if things really are not “fine.” But that is not easy, either. Because, how do you know? How do you know who is both sufficiently interested and invested in you? How do you know who is able and willing to listen in a way that’s helpful and non-judgmental and genuine? Sometimes, it’s a crap shoot. Deciding when and to whom to reveal that things are not “fine” is a risky proposition. Knowing that, though, may enable you to armor yourself against disappointment. If the risk proves worthwhile, good. If not, your coat of mail protects you. And you move on to the next context. Or you crawl back into your lair.


And off I go into the morning!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.