time moves both ways.
my partner nick's mom died last week. partner is a funny word, as we've been friends since we were 6. that's 30+ years. only 8 or so of which were relevant to beer. so i knew his mom very well once upon a time. she was always a sort of mythical creature. her love for nick was easy to see. a true example of unconditional love. and she cared for us, his friends, almost as much. cuz she was an everyday hero. a community-historical figure.
it's the everyday heroes who understand how time moves. the ambitious (often little-boy-style men, but many little-boy-style women, too) are flawed. in a serious way. starting with their perception of time. that is: ambitious egomaniacs believe that time moves constantly forward. accrues, so to speak. that history is a fixed thing. in other words: that there's any history at all. ... they believe in history. and they want to be in it. part of it. they want immortality through text. through libraries. through ephemera, even. if they have to settle.
but the everyday heroes understand that time ain't so. time moves both ways. not out in all directions constantly, like "science" tells us. but in and then out. it barrels forward and then recedes. advancing and then retreating. creating and then erasing. like a wave. like a pendulum. it's just: the time it takes for that advance and retreat depends on the viewer. the scale of a day or a human life is easy for us to perceive. much harder, the scale of the universe.
stand brave life liver.
an example: a small child. with a small world. eventually becomes again a small elderly-child. with a small world. but somewhere in there. somehow. the two children on both ends are just one. in the middle. and that giant, strong, independent human gets big as hell. and lives in big, big world. the biggest imaginable. to her.
it's accretion and rescission. just like our day to day: we lack. and then we get. and then we give up. it's our whole life long, time moving both ways. in and out. it's our work for money, and then its loss. it's our work for fame or power, and then its devolution.
a smart egomaniac might argue: "but the earth is rotating around the sun. slightly more slowly every time. i mean, imperceptibly more slowly. imperceptible by generations. by thousands of years. consider mutual time dilation and length contraction."
but community-historical figures. everyday heroes. would respond: "are we able to measure the universe that existed before us? of which there's no evidence? it shot out, maybe. expanded. seemingly infinitely. definitely maybe. and then contracted again. to nothing. it rescinded. and then here we. our universe. emerged. advanced. and so all evidence of anything relates back to our universe only. the prior one, now absent."
everyday heroes go to work in the morning. come home in the evening with nothing to say. they teach. they tinker. they twist on a bolt all the live long day. they demonstrate love in their grind. they hope and dream, simply, for more hopes and dreams for themselves. and also for their kids. they want to connect. to see something pretty, and then to see something pretty die. ... teachers. like nick's mom. for 42 years. who try to connect with a misbehaving little boy. just once. cuz that one connection might give rise to another connection. and then another one. and they might string together an entire year. and lead to better grades. and better behavior. and a better future. and a better father.
this is what everyday heroes do.
i’ve always had an aversion to the individual. as a kid. i remember learning at my shitty catholic school that western culture credits *the individual* for wins and the community for losses. while eastern culture credits *the community* for wins and the individual for losses. i thought latter was so much beautiful’r.
then romney and obama faced off. and “you didn’t build that” made all my republican friends blanche. and made me feel nothing. it was obvious to me that you didn’t. ... i mean, really, though. let's unpack that. first things first: no woman is an island. did you get some help in the early days? from friends and family on the bottling line? and did you get a super cheap quote from a graphic designer for a label? and were you somehow already socially connected to virtually every one of your early customers? you didn't build that early success: your friends and family were generous as shit. and shouted out about you to all their friends and family. and made you known. and got you sales in binny's. and etc. etc. etc.
but more importantly, i wanna talk about roads. at some point a way while back. in the 40s and 50s. the federal government decided to build the shit out of roads. highways and byways and side streets and holler paths and etc. roads for everyone! it was all our tax dollars what paid for them paved roads. funneled through the feds. and now we could drive anywheres we wanted ta.
and who looooved this policy? big auto. why? well, first, cuz it beckoned people to drive and drive, of course! and big oil loved it, too. but all of little auto and little oil loved it too. that is to say, tiny machine shops, making unique bolts to spec for a particular order from ford motor company. they loved that the feds put money into roads! cuz they had tons of new business with all the cars people were buying. and independent owners of fuel stations. and mechanics. they loved it too! we built a whole region up around it: the upper midwest. michigan, sure. but minnesota and wisconsin and illinois and ohio and indiana. and parts of pennsylvania and the appalachians.
and then what happened next? well: big oil and big auto needed people to work these jobs. and black families in the south were facing constant social and physical violence. so they jumped at the chance to move north for better work and better living conditions. ... the work, they got. but they were also met with resentment by white folks living in these northern cities. and what did the white folks do with those new roads? they moved away from the black folks newly in the cities! into the suburbs! they gratified their racist and resentful and downright fearful tendencies and skipped town. "thank goddess for these federally-funded roads!" they said, as they drove quite quickly to work everyday. and away from their new black scapegoats every night.
and then other industries started popping up. finer industries. skilled manufacturing. and they looked around and saw high rents in the cities. and lower rents in the suburbs. but also! also! tons of new people living in the suburbs! and perfect roads for their employees to use to get to and from work. cheaply and easily. by bus or by car. and so instead of spending lots of money on real estate and on quality-of-life regulations imposed by cities, they relocated to cheaper and easier suburban and exurban regions. thanks to the roads the feds built.
so, like i said. you didn't build that. i agreed. the aversion from childhood stuck.
and then in high school and college when i read hegel i thought he was sort of a fool. maybe i misunderstood him. in fact, i likely misunderstood him. but i don't care. the way my poorly-educated and poorly-paid teacher taught hegel to me was that hegel viewed history through the lens of unhappy men, mostly. who strove to force their Reason upon the world. for selfish motives. but this strikes me as bull shit. the world-historical figure would more accurately have been a world-historical group. or even a community-historical individual. in my estimation. and i hinted as much in a recent memo about polly. and her quiet, powerful community building.
that's what makes history. some ambitious fool of a man simply rides the crest of a wave derived from the collection of simple actions by community-historical individuals. by everyday heroes who form powerful, local-level groups. and it happens over long periods of time. not during one selfish man-child's reign.
but then i’ve gotten a bit nervous recently. watching all these "groups" do such terrible things. political parties. and voters. grouping up to ignore obvious lessons that we should have learnt long times ago.
like, for example: joe biden, the mitt romney of the moment, will not beat donald trump. he's far too moderate in a time like this. he's boring. he's out of touch. he's another old white guy. he says silly things which makes him appealing to regular americans. whatever those are. but he's just.... not good at this.
and like: racism is bad. how did we forget this one? how have we still not learnt it? donald trump has given all sorts of ugly thoughts a little lube. and their slippin' right out of people's minds and off their tongues. en masse! how are these massive groups re-adopting racial resentment as an organizing feature? sad to say it, but we need to find and learn the language to deal with this again. like: "i know you're a good person. and not racist at your core. but that comment was racially divisive." ugh. you can't even call racism racism right now. without inviting more racism.
and like, for example: republican tax policy will damage the economy and the lives of your neighbors. we learned this! well and good! all the trickle down talk? it was a nice video game theory. by a bunch of "smart" men and women in economics PhD programs in hyde park. but it never panned out. and even they admit it's bull shit now. and are looking for reasons to explain it. ... which is absurd? appalling? it's pretty obvious why money doesn't trickle down: humans are loss averse. when they get something. even if they don't deserve it. or even if someone else gave it to them for free. they believe it's theirs. and they'll never let it go. ... how did we not know this in the 80s? in any event, we know it now. but a whole political party, and the vast majority of its voters, still believe it. and shit: probably a third of the other political party also believes it. and a big chunk of their voters, too!
and then beer: it seems that interesting discoveries around things like strike temp and hop timing and infection and dissolved oxygen pick-up and etc are made by individuals. like, someone accidents into a discovery about any of the latter. learns something way good or way bad about an action they took. and then tells other brewers and it travels by word of mouth until it's studied by someone at uc-davis. an individual discovery at bottom.
so.... are groups stupid'r? are they causing more problems than they're solving? are individuals really the important/relevant entity? do we need a word-historical hero to save us?
no! wait! ... something is missing in all this chatter. the phenomenon of storytelling! storytelling massively favors individuals. stories need a protagonist. and an antagonist. to help drive a plot forward. ever see a movie about a group? with no main character? unlikely. and if you did, it was the exception to the rule. it's way hard for an audience to interpret meaning from a story that lacks an individual protagonist. so authors and playwrights and directors and the like utilize individuals to make bigger points about history. and about groups. despite individual successes often depending largely on groups.
and what's more: our brains think in stories. that's likely what gave rise to stories anyway! so we interpret paradigm shifts and even small changes as having derived from some one person or moment. no matter that that's hardly ever true.
indeed. the truth is that groups make good things happen. and i see that in beer constantly. one person has an idea. tries it out. fails. but someone else watching him synthesizes some new thoughts from his failure and her previous failures and comes up with a successful, genius idea.
we all like to find the original genius individual. vis a vis an idea. but it's folly to think we can. instead, there's always an original genius group working together to make advances.
but what's the relevance of time and it's movement to all of this? the wave can only gather the strength to crest if it's built by everyday heroes who understand that time moves both ways. that death always beckons. and so the collection of each raindrop matters. that is, generosity begets generosity. right here. right now.
life. and all of history. is made and made better by all the everyday heroes. working in concert.
like polly novello marie. and mary ann catherine burica. and alison larkin. and benny and george.
go into your community. tonight. ... even if it's not for pizza or beer. just go find it. it's there waiting for you to join up.
time moves both ways.