Waking diary

July 3, 2007

Sleep was a long time coming last night, though I was exhausted. Today I decided to keep start a diary, but not a dream diary, rather a diary of the meaningless shit that races through my mind when I close my eyes. More often than not, it’s completely inconsequential and its relation to my waking life is tangential at best. Maybe airing it out will help it go away?

I should note that what follows is a largely unedited and entirely unfactchecked transcript of a representative sample of the random crap that evidently kept me awake last night.

  • My relationship with money is abstracted to the point of absolute absurdity.
    There’s a line in a book, I think, which may have been by Vonnegut. It seems like the kind of thing he’d write. To paraphrase horribly, I am absolutely amazed that people are willing, even eager, to give me actual goods and services in exchange for slips of paper. Except these days it’s even more bizarre than that: the slips of paper aren’t necessary, and I can get goods and services in exchange for basically showing somebody a round-cornered plastic rectangle, which represents slips of paper. And it turns out the rectangle itself isn’t necessary, either; I can type a number into a website (whatever the hell that is) and get merchandise delivered to my residence. The number, of course, represents the rectangle, which in turn represents slips of paper. Some websites let you take it even another step: a checkmark or radio button which represents a number, which represents a rectangle, which represents slips of paper.

    So what do the slips of paper represent? (I.e., how far down do the turtles go?) It seems the slips of paper—and this may have been what Vonnegut(?) was getting at—don’t represent anything, really. There was a time when they represented bits of shiny metal, but in this day and age they represent nothing more than an implicit promise by the maker of the slips of paper not to print too many more slips of paper at the same time. And that promise is the enabler and the driving force behind our entire economy (whatever the hell that is).

    Could it be, though, that the slips of paper represent something more important, such as my own precious time and energy? Absolutely not. Well, perhaps in some kind of detached, purely rational sense, I can draw up some kind of relation between time spent and slips of paper (and in fact one could point out that I have entered into an agreement essentially stipulating a specific number of slips of paper for a specific amount of time); but viscerally, it doesn’t feel that way at all. Part of that is due to the miracles of direct deposit and electronic banking, which mean that slips of paper are often, in and of themselves, massive inconveniences that I have to go out of my way to even access. Everything is just numbers on websites, and the causal relationship between doing stuff and having the value of a number on a website change seems tenuous at best. It seems to correlate pretty well, but somehow it doesn’t feel causal.

    In short, I didn’t used to know where “money” came from, or understand the value of a dollar, or any of that; and people suggested that I would quickly find out when I started working to support myself. They were wrong. I still don’t know where money comes from, and I still don’t understand the value of a dollar. I’m aware that that’s a tremendous, tremendous luxury, and I suppose I count myself lucky for having this particular type of ignorance.

    But seriously though, I can just click my mouse a few times and end up with boxes full of books, CDs, DVDs, microphones, and whatever else my little heart desires. I just don’t get it.

  • Criminal Justice: In what does it consist?
    As a course of study, I mean. (Note that I have not researched this at all; this has all been pulled straight out of my ass.)

    The first thing I thought of was “theories of rehabilitation”, predicated on the assumption that rehabilitation is a goal of ‘criminal justice’. This largely unsatisfactory answer led to two other questions: (1) What are the goals of criminal justice? and (2) What is the history of criminal justice? (Note that the questions, and their answers, are inextricably linked, or so I assume.)

    A list of goals of criminal justice, I should think, would include deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation (sometimes, but not always, in that order). The relative proportions of the three would necessarily depend on cultural and social mores, as well as available resources and a whole host of other factors. Hammurabi’s eye-for-an-eye justice system clearly has a minimal focus on rehabilitation; and perhaps rehabilitation as such didn’t even enter the equation until [temporary] imprisonment became a popular approach to punishment.

    Can retribution really be considered just? If I steal your checkbook and rack up tremendous debt in your name, I can be ordered to pay back the money. But if I paralyze you from the neck down while driving drunk, can I be ordered to make you walk again? What if I raid your pension fund, embezzle until your employer is insolvent, and scatter the money to the four winds?

    What proportion of Criminal Justice studies is philosophical?

There was more—a lot more, on both of these subjects and many others—but I think you get the idea. Rather, I’m tired of writing.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress with Hiperminimalist Theme design by Borja Fernandez.

Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.