Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lie and Lay

                I don’t feel too bad about not using lie and lay without having to confer with a dictionary or usage guide, even at the age of 37. Harlan Ellison even admitted he had trouble untangling the two. The solution should’ve occurred to me sooner, but I never felt an impetus, or a nagging concern, to once and for all lay lie and lay on a table and lie myself with them until I could no longer tolerate it. What used to trip me up is that there are two verbs spelled “lie”, both with obviously different meanings, yet with different conjugations, which is neither obvious nor intuitive. The trick to know is that there is no trick to memorize that helps one properly use lie and lay; rather, one must wrangle with rote memorization. In other words, the same strategy I used to come to terms with Latin words works well with lie and lay. If it’s any consolation, the rather simple words “this” and “that” are vastly, vastly more complicated in Latin than lie and lay are in English. If you ever get in the mood to have some fun with rote memorization, just run all the declensions of “this” and “that” from Latin through your mind for a few months. Be thankful you’re using English.
                There are two English verbs spelled “lie” and each has a different meaning and a different conjugation. The first meaning of “lie” has the forms: lie, lay, lain, lying, and lies. The second meaning of “lie” has the forms: lie, lied, lying, and lies. The only orthographic differences between the two are in the past tense and pluperfect, or past perfect tense. The second meaning of “lie” can also function as a noun. Both of the “lie” verbs are intransitive, which means they cannot take a direct object.
                There is only one English verb spelled “lay”, yet there are four separate words with the same spelling. The second “lay” is an adjective and refers to someone that is not a professional, such as a layperson. The third “lay” is an obscure noun that refers to a poem that is sung, or just some tune. The fourth “lay” we have already met and it is the past tense of the first meaning of “lie”. (Note: there are nautical variations of “lay” that I left out on purpose. Unless you are a sailor or someone that works on boats, you will probably never hear them or need to use them.)
                The verb “lay” has the forms: lay, laid, laying, and lays. Since “lay” is transitive, it must take a direct object. When I was taking Latin, a great emphasis was placed on knowing whether a verb was transitive or intransitive; that fact had to be known for each verb. When using your native language, consciously conjuring to mind whether a verb is transitive or intransitive doesn’t help with usage, unless something rather unusual is happening. Everyone knows you can hit a ball or sleep soundly without knowing anything about transitive or intransitive. But I feel that formality is essential for coming to terms with lie and lay, along with rote memorization.
                Here are some sample fragments from a Harlan Ellison story:
                He lay unmoving for a time
                This fragment is using the past tense of “lie” and there is no direct object. It is correct. It feels more correct to say, out loud, He laid unmoving for a time. I do it and everyone does it, but it is grammatically incorrect. I’ve read that correctness is determined by usage, so there may come a day when dictionaries formally define the past tense of “lie” as “laid”.
                He laid her down gently
                This fragment is using the past tense of “lay” and there is a direct object. It is correct. It also feels correct to say out loud.
                Lying there
                This fragment is using the gerundial, or verbal noun, form of “lie”. It is correct. But it feels more correct to say laying there, which is grammatically incorrect, since there is no direct object. It would be correct to say The ship was laying transatlantic cable; there is a clear direct object.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


                In 2005, I had realized that the time before birth and the time after death are equivalent; both are periods of nonexistence which are merely interrupted by consciousness. In 2007, I had realized that we (humans) are superior to God, or any other god.
                Just a few months ago I had read the novel “VALIS” by Philip K. Dick, which was published in 1981. I own the 6th printing by Bantam Spectra and on pages 27, 184 and 186 I found some eerily familiar writing.
                From page 27:
                                “That cat,” Kevin said, “did not exist during World War Two.”
                                “Did you grieve over him then?” Fat said.
                                “How could I?” Kevin said. “He didn’t exist.”
                                “Then his condition was the same as now,” Fat said.
                                “Wrong,” Kevin said.
                                “Wrong in what way?” Fat said. “How did his nonexistence then differ from his nonexistence now?”

                From page 184:
                                “What you teach is the word of man. Man is holy, and the true god, the living god, is man himself.   You will have no gods but yourselves; the days in which you believed in other gods end now, they end forever.”

                                “Many claim to speak for god, but there is only one god and that god is man himself.”

                From page 186:
                                As the three of us walked back to the house, Kevin said, “Was all that just quotations from the Bible?”
                                “No,” I said.
                                “No,” David agreed. “There was something new; that part about us being our own gods, now. That the time had come where we no longer had to believe in any other deity other than ourselves.”

                I feel relieved, rather than mentally usurped, that my ideas are not new. I had originally decided to title this essay “Vindication”, with the following sense in mind: To demonstrate or prove the value or validity of; justify. Thus, I am led to believe that relief and vindication are closely related, which is something I had never considered before. Interestingly, one can be relieved because of vindication, but not vindicated because of relief.
                I’ve always found PKD novels easy to read and understand, but this is not the same for everyone. I lent my Mom VALIS and she was unable to read it, yet she has a great interest in science fiction. VALIS is a novelized form of Dick’s strange vision from 2-3-74, of which he has also written an exegesis numbering in the thousands of pages.
                So who are these human gods? Humans that do great things are gods, far more powerful than Allah, Yahweh, or God (the 3 most common orthodox gods; humans are unorthodox gods). The orthodox gods are merely fictional characters that were created by imaginative humans thousands of years ago. The orthodoxy of gods has changed throughout time. As an example, Ra and Zeus are no longer considered real gods; they have become unorthodox. Many people no longer consider any fictional gods to be orthodox (such as myself). Like Philip K. Dick, I believe that humans are now gods, humans such as Paul Dirac, Kurt Godel, Hwang Jung-Min and Timothy Zahn. And specifically, what have they done? Well, Paul Dirac derived an equation that explains the behavior of electrons and, while doing so, accidentally predicted the existence of antimatter. Kurt Godel proved there are infinitely many true statements in mathematics that can never be proved. Hwang Jung-Min is a versatile, dedicated actor who ceaselessly impresses me. Timothy Zahn brought maturity to the infantile Star Wars franchise (that maturity I feel will be ignored by the moronic J.J. Abrams). There are many thousands of human gods, all of which are neither objectively defined nor absolute. Another person may strongly disagree with my choices of gods. A disagreement does not demote one from the rank of godliness, because it was never real to begin with. What?
                All this talk about humans being gods is merely my opinion from my own damned brain. My thoughts do not create reality, anymore than the bastards writing the Bible thousands of years ago were creating reality. Zany religious zealots might wonder, whine, and even wantonly vituperate my claim that humans are now gods and even superior to God. Seriously, what does give me the right? How can I dismiss the opinion of billions, intimate those billions have craniums full of crack, and forge my own opinions? How can I do this? Alternatively, how can religious people not forge their own opinions? Why do they ingest whatever is thrown into their minds without disgorging? How can someone, after reading just the first two pages of the Bible, believe even one wily word of it? It’s a mystery.
                When I was 18, I knew a girl (aged 15) that believed the Bible word for word. She thought I was a genius, since I used words she didn’t know; she regarded me as very intelligent (most women I’ve talked to regard me as either very smart or the smartest person they’ve ever met). I’ve always had trouble understanding why women consider me so smart, since my vocabulary consists of words that are not secret, not guarded in any way. I use regular words that can be found in the dictionary. It seems reasonable to assume that there are many people that regard things they don’t understand as truthful or authoritative, which can partly explain why the Bible is so saliently supported by the masses. Likewise, when someone uses “big” words that are not commonly used, it can have the effect of making them sound truthful or authoritative. This may partly explain why people consider me smart.
                How do I consider my own intellectuality? I understand the origins of my lexicon, so when I use unusual words, I do not impress myself. I consider my knowledge to be deficient in many areas and I make many poor decisions, which, if I were smart, would not be made. I unknowingly masquerade as a smart person, due to my manner of speaking, which tends to impress others.
                At this point in the essay, I am led to consider what the next group of gods could be. Gods started out as powerful beings that were responsible for natural phenomena, and later gave up many of those responsibilities, to simply create everything and us; nothing else. Nowadays, it would be silly to say that there is a specific god that creates lightning, but quite reasonable to say there is a god that created the whole fucking thing, universe and all – even the lightning. Here’s one for the creationists: God evolves. There’s enough evidence available for someone to write The Evolution of God.
                I think it’s natural that humans have replaced God and his sidekicks, the little gods, since even poor people have more power than the wealthiest people of 200 years ago. As an example, cell phones are available in Africa with intuitive icons, so that illiterate people may use them. A cell phone is a very powerful device, due to its nearly instantaneous communicative abilities with almost any other human. As we become ever more powerful, even people that do great things will become insignificant. We will look up to something else as gods. But what is this “something else”?
                If anything is going to do greater things than the greatest of humans, it is going to be our computational devices, in guises not familiar to anyone living today. There is nothing to prevent me from considering the possibility that computational devices that are superior to the human brain (which do not currently exist) will be incapable of finding new laws of physics, making better movies, or writing better novels. They will probably be better at forming relationships with each other and find a way to exist without any danger of destroying themselves.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I am happy and disturbed, though I am neither one nor the other. This dueling duality cannot be separated into parts that function independently, but are intertwined like body and heart. The heart can be removed from the body, which is catastrophic. It is easy to visualize the destruction and dismantling of tangible things, like bodies and hearts. But intangible things, like happiness and perturbation, elude the mind’s eye. Yet they exist. I am many other things, more so than happy and disturbed, and those things cannot be put on display, for the masses to inspect. What would happen if those things, feelings, could be removed? Would there be a catastrophe? I am not attempting to develop a new theory of criminal behavior, but merely capitulating. My body or mind or both won’t let me sleep. I know I want to sleep. What I want to do is never a source of confusion. But there is an agenda that works against me from time to time. I can’t identify whom or what has this agenda, but it is certainly not mine. Why would I do something I don’t want to do? So here I am, capitulating, writing down my thoughts because of some agenda that decided I shall not sleep. One day I will find who has this agenda and pretend I don’t know about it. I will know and not know; I will win. But that is terribly untrue because I will eventually die and lose series of selves and unique development in this environment. All humans are the same in death because they all lose everything. The rich and the poor, the popular and the despised, the good and the wicked, are all the same in death – dead. In my eyes, a different human would be one that could truly win the game of life and remain alive indefinitely. For now, we call this “science fiction”. Some people call it “religion”. Both are more intertwined than the DNA in your cells’ nuclei. A happy person, like a depressed person, is unhealthy. I find it interesting that one can be diagnosed with depression but not happiness. To be happy, to be happy all the time, is to demonstrate a lack of concern for the unfortunate events on this planet. This is the equivalent of a crime, a mental crime. Similarly, one that is depressed all the time demonstrates a lack of concern for the fortunate, or good, events on this planet. A mind that is all mixed up, with unequal parts of happiness and depression, is healthier (more stable) than a mind that predominantly engages in one or the other. Bryan Singleton 5-24-2013