Hibernation urges

Eat, sleep. Such are the instincts when the weather gets cold. Immoderate coffee intake does little to keep me alert. Yawns take over. Adding ten pounds of padding is par for the course this time of year. The holiday feasting schedule contributes to the process. Yawn.

People are grumbling about the onset of winter weather. If we had a day like today in February, twenty-some degrees, a little melting, we would be happy. In November, the same sort of weather is an insult.

If the weather is decent outside, and one has the liberty of going outside, then it is possible to sit inside and read without getting restless. But when it is foul out and one feels trapped, its tough to settle down enough to get distracted by the usual diversions.

This is one time of year when it would be nice to live a little closer to civilization, namely, near a Barnes and Noble bookstore where one could while away the evening and, most importantly, get out of the house, hear some bustle, and gather up a sense that it would be nice to get home and go to bed.

I have satellite television, mainly for the Twins. Since their season is over, I had just as well cancel it, but I don't--just in case some major world event happens which might lead me to watch CNN for a day or two. Every now and then, I try to get into a basketball game, or a show--but, tonight, after scanning about 100 channels, I settled on the Fall Praisathon at Trinity Broadcasting Network, drawn, I suspect, by the same circus-seeking impulse which causes me to pull tabloids off the rack in the checkout line.

Rosie O'Donnell is being sued for $100 million dollars. This was one of five top stories that one channel informed me "you will be talking about tomorrow." Man, I hope not. The 1999 Heisman Trophy awards ceremony was on ESPN Classic. The controversy over whether Tiger Woods should be Player of the Year was dominating the proceedings at ESPN1. Where do you stand? Go online and tale our poll. On CNN, Paul Zahn asked an expert on serial killers: why somebody would want to kill 48 women? What were these women thinking? Doesn't this turn your stomach? Why doesn't this guy get the death penalty?

Time to shut the TV off. Picked up Neitzsche; read a chapter entitled "What is Religious," where Nietzsche brilliantly argues that industrial capitalism robs religion of its vitality by creating a mindset completely unamenable to contemplation. (What might he have said about satellite television?) Most people know of Nietzsche for his proclamation that "God is dead." Nobody seems to remember that he added, immediately after, "...and we have killed him." Nietzsche regarded this as a tragedy, and predicted a violent 20th century as a result.

Nietzsche set himself up to be misunderstood by writing vividly, metaphorically, provacatively, and sometimes violently. He made no attempt to be consistent. All he seemed to care was that each individual paragraph of his be internally consistent. If the point of the next paragraph contradicted the point of the previous paragraph, he didn't mind--as long as each paragraph made its point vividly. His prose, even in translation, sparkles.

He has been misused, misinterpreted, villified, and finally, ignored. I made it through college without reading a single paragraph of his writing, and I suspect 99% of college graduates do the same. However, he more than anybody I know of tackles the modern human dilemma. He was a psychologist more than a philosopher--and the best psychologist who ever lived, according to Sigmund Freud. I don't claim to have figured him out, but I don't think the scholars have him nailed, either. In fact, I think they miss the point entirely.

Time to put some nice ash logs on the fire before bedtime. With ash, you know there will be a beautiful bed of coals in the morning!