Time Slips

Phaedra, dressed in her protective post-surgery suit, walks with slow, plodding, doddering steps—punctuated with long pauses to recover the strength spent in moving just a few feet at a time.  Her movements suggest feline inebriation, but in fact the dual traumas of her abortion and her hysterectomy are responsible for her feebleness. But she is improving.

Last night, she managed to jump onto the storage chest at the foot of the bed. From there, she hopped onto the bed. And then she climbed aboard mi novia, who Phaedra must  have decided provided a comfortable spot for a long cat nap. Sometime during the wee hours, between 2:30 and 3, Phaedra decided I, too, offered a nice place of repose. I had been unable to sleep for a while, but I decided to stay put for a bit, hoping Phaedra might get a bit more rest. Finally, though, I had to get up. So, I slipped out of bed around 3:30. Phaedra woke when I gently moved her off of my hip, but she seemed to relax back into the blanket when I got up.  As far as I know, she is sleeping soundly now. She did not rush into the kitchen when I commenced my far-earlier-than-normal morning routine of blood-letting, pill-swilling, and coffee making; I take that as a good sign.


US District Judge Robert Pitman ruled on Thursday that at several books removed from public library shelves in Llano County, Texas were to have been placed back onto shelves within 24 hours. Whether that has happened, I do not know. Reading about the book banning, which his ruling addressed, sparked anger in me. And fear. The recent spate of book banning frightens me because it is attempting to normalize an ugly form of censorship based on raw bigotry. The banned books in Llano include titles banned because they deal with race, sexual orientation, and other matters labeled inappropriate, pornographic, and called “filth” by at least one library board member. This is not new. But its resurgence is upsetting.  And it is especially upsetting in light of the revelation that the new “library advisory board” required all new books to “be presented to and approved” by them before purchase. Staff librarians were said to have been banned from attending the advisory board’s meetings. If I were King, I would incarcerate members of the library advisory board who voted to require board action before book purchase…or who voted to ban any title.

But wait. At some point, there must be a line which must not be crossed…mustn’t there? Would we want a library full of anarchist treatises, replete with bomb-making instructions and arguments in favor of political assassinations? Okay, perhaps step-by-step instructions leading to violent revolutions should be kept out of the library…or should they? At what point do we, as a society, decide to prohibit the dissemination of ideas? That is a dicey issue. On one hand, I abhor the imposition (or prohibition) of beliefs and philosophies through censorship. But on the other hand, I believe we (the collective, as if “we” were of one mind) have an obligation to protect ourselves and one another from unnecessary danger.

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.

~ Robert A. Heinlein ~

For the moment, though, let’s leave potential violence out of the equation. Is there a point at which moral indignation should play a part if library policy? Should we, for example, prohibit our libraries from shelving books that promote bestiality? Where should we draw the line? Or should we draw no lines at all? Should we leave it up to the consumer to decide what is appropriate to read? If I try to view the world from the perspective of a fundamentalist Christian who has been indoctrinated with the belief that any discussion of LGBTQ matters is a danger to the social order, I might understand why some books “should be banned.” But, try as I might, I cannot see the world from that jaundiced outlook. Yet I can understand how it might evolve; especially in a rural setting in which rabid fundamentalism is the rule, rather than the exception.

I think most proponents of book banning tend to be rabid nationalists, too; people who claim undying devotion to the U.S. Constitution. Yet these same people seem not to grasp the disconnect between book banning and the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

No matter how persuasively I might argue, either for or against, the matter of book banning, I likely will not change anyone’s mind. Logic plays less of a role in the issue than does emotion. Even logical arguments are fueled by white-hot emotion on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, I suppose it comes down to which “side” will hold more positions on local library boards and in similar institutions. And who, once on those boards, will be willing to file lawsuits or to defend against them. Some days—most days—I wish I lived in a society whose values more closely mirrored my own. Today is one of those days. Now, which society(ies) might be suitable for me? I wish I knew.


I eagerly await the results of the elections in Finland. Like much of the world, right-wing populism has been growing in Finland of late, which is reflected in Finnish polls. The prime minister’s (Sanna Marin) Social Democrats are facing challenges from the conservative National Coalition Party and the populist Finns Party. Sanna Marin still has high poll numbers, but according to news reports, her numbers are not high enough to ensure victory. By the end of the day today, the results of the election should be known, but regardless of the winner, it will take time to form a government (which, as I understand it, will certainly be a coalition government, regardless of the winner). My political leanings clearly are aligned with Sanna Marin and her Social Democrats. I hope the majority of voters in Finland share my position on matters politic.


It is about a quarter after 5, far too early to call or text anyone, though I would like to. Sometimes at this hour (or earlier or later), I want to sit with a friend and talk. Not about anything in particular. Just to chat. Relax. Chill. Engage.  But I know, even if the time were four hours later, I would not make a call or send a text. I know very few people well enough to feel comfortable intruding on their day without warning. It would be different, I suspect, if I were far more of a social creature who stayed in frequent and regular contact with friends throughout the week. But I am not that social creature. I sometimes want to be, but I am not suited to it. My need for solitude might be mistaken for abruptness or rudeness if I were to suddenly shift from extrovert to introvert in mid-sentence. Perhaps it’s not quite that abrupt, but it can be a rather rapid change. I suppose I could train myself to behave differently; I know enough about Pavlov’s classical conditioning to give it a shot. But, then, I would have to train a few others, too. I doubt anyone wants me to ‘train’ them. I would have to hide the message behind something misleading. Nothing overt. Ach.


We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us.

~ François Rabelais ~


We are nearing the end of the series, Unauthorized Living. The more we watch, the better I like it. It is far more complex than I expected it to be, but the complexities are not unnecessary; they contribute to the plot and to the psychological underpinnings of the story.  Despite a significant number of badly botched English subtitles and not infrequent evidence that some of the script writers might have had no training, the series is extremely entertaining and exciting. I recommend it.


Once again, I let time slip by. It is nearing 6 in the morning. The sky remains dark, though, so my conversation with myself is in a satisfactory place. I shall now endeavor to shave and take a shower.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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