Sunday, July 05, 2009

July 4th Fireworks


Last night I went with my friend Nina to a 4th of July party at her friend's house. This house happens to be located in an area of Los Angeles that is populated by lots of folks who very much enjoy their illegally obtained fireworks, let me tell you!

As dusk fell, we were assaulted from all sides by a variety of explosions, some of which were strong enough to rock the house. A palm tree about a block away caught fire, its top blazing like some kind of gigantic tropical candle until the LA Fire Dept. arrived to put it out. Even the presence of the fire department and cops didn't deter the neighbors from blasting away with stuff that must have been as powerful as sticks of dynamite.

Nina's friends have four cats, all of whom were in various states of distress throughout the melee. Most of them hid under the bed. But one responded in a weird way by becoming aggressive with those of us who weren't residents in his home.

Later that night I experienced a series of unpleasant dreams. Nina told me later she too had been unable to sleep much of the night. I'm certain the fireworks had a lot to do with this.

Watching the way the cats reacted to the noise and light, and watching my own reactions to it, I started thinking about the way we humans deliberately put ourselves into situations that cause our senses to react in violent ways. Fireworks shows, rock concerts, action movies, sporting events, video games, talk radio and a whole host of common forms of entertainment are geared at over-stimulating our senses. Even driving through a big city like Los Angeles is an exercise in sensory over-stimulation.

I don't think a bit of this kind of thing now and again does much irreparable damage. I believe the human body was designed to be able to handle a certain degree of sensory over-stimulation.

But we have developed a tremendous amount of technology designed to create and sustain a level of excitement we were certainly not designed to handle. We need to be careful with this stuff. It can be incredibly damaging to the nervous system.

So cool it with the boom-booms!

24 comments:

You Kids Get Off My Lawn said...

We need to be careful with this stuff. It can be incredibly damaging to the nervous system.

So cool it with the boom-booms!


Yeah, like this noisy crap, old man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6OVUl5Dfvk

Mumon said...

Fireworks shows, rock concerts, action movies, sporting events, video games, talk radio and a whole host of common forms of entertainment are geared at over-stimulating our senses。

Well, it depends. If it's unexpected, there's adrenalin and stress responses. If you've seen it before, it's not.



I do understand and empathize about the cat situation; luckily in my immediate neighborhood, there's a pet deficit, but a child surplus, combined with a subset of fireworks that are legal on the 4th.

But, at my age, it's kind of obvious that when you light off "Black Cat Roman Candles" that they shoot out, more or less predictably, 10 shots that go bang.

Kids seem to react to this the way they do Christmas, me, I just want to clean it up.

On another note, you obviously don't follow tennis. I wasn't able to catch the men's final at Wimbledon, but I did see Williams versus Dementieva. It was not so much sensory overlead as it was sublime to watch.

About the only "sporting events" I'd have put into your category are those weird ocatagon and boxing and "wrestling" events.

Now take 2 viewings of "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and get back to us.

chrisold97 said...

"We need to be careful with this stuff. It can be incredibly damaging to the nervous system.

So cool it with the boom-booms!"
so youre saying buddha wouldnt dig the grindcore?

Anonymous said...

mumon said:

"But, at my age, it's kind of obvious that when you light off "Black Cat Roman Candles" that they shoot out, more or less predictably, 10 shots that go bang.

Kids seem to react to this the way they do Christmas, me, I just want to clean it up."

Well, yeah...that's all good until you discover that everyone seems to be mumbling these days, or perhaps it's you that's lost the ability to hear clearly - over and above what you'd naturally lose as a result of getting older - as a result of exposure to too much loud sound. You may also be unable to get rid of or ignore that ringing/whistling in your ears. Oops - tinnitus.

Like Brad said, our nervous systems are pretty resilient. Up to a point. Be careful.

floating_abu said...

Peace needs to be in the heart

Anonymous said...

Cool it with the boom booms from punk rock music. It's immature. Age 45 is time to quit being a teenager.

Rick said...

If you don't want to fall into a hole, don't hang around the edge of it.

Anonymous said...

There are those who really get a blast playing with black powder
Might as well be safe about it, fun, creative and celebratory about it
Up in the air glittery pretty and ephemeral
Passing bright color turning into puffs of smoke

Too much like this brief bright thing I call my life

I took myself to an 8pm movie in which there were no explosions whatsoever
never hoid 'em, didn't see 'em, smelled 'em when I came out from the theater
Realized a whole lot of life changing things could happen while you're inside a theater and unaware
Hell, life changing things are happening all the time every moment and I'm buying kibble, taking a leak, sitting in traffic, scratching my dog's ears...

but what I most like to ponder is The BIG BANG, still banging away: a firework which has not and will never cease to open, open, open

Anonymous said...

Playing with fireworks in SoCal is probably not the brightest thing you could do.

Anonymous said...

fireworks go boom

Rick said...

Is the guy in the picture The Ghoul?

A former co worker played with black powder. He has an antique musket. Anyway, he was doing something with it and it blew up in his face. When he came to work the next day, he was without his mustaches, eyebrows, and was missing about 1/3 of the hair off the top of his head.

Anonymous said...

Ghoulardi would never blow up things for the kids. He was too busy playing poker.

Sheila said...

For some real stimulation, try being in India for Divali. I read in the newspaper there that 400,000 people end up in hospital thanks to the holiday 'celebrations'.

proulx michel said...

Anonymous said...

but what I most like to ponder is The BIG BANG, still banging away: a firework which has not and will never cease to open, open, open

Ha! That's not (pundit tone...) what Dogen says. Master Dogen talks of uncountable Big Bangs and Big Crushes of the 3 000 worlds...

Mysterion said...

The Chinese term for firecrackers is huapao. The superstitious yet popular belief was that loud noises could expel or scare away a mountain demon.

See: Shen yi jing, "Book of Gods and Spirits" (a classic of the Han Dynasty), 202 BC

So, those who wish to display their ignorance, and garnish attention while doing so, ignite fireworks - ESPECIALLY illegal fireworks.

David said...

I prefer the shooting range for my loud bangs...

Jinzang said...

Yeah, how do you go from playing a first person shooter to staring at the wall for hours? That's something my generation never had to worry about. (Just the LSD flashbacks.)

Dean Fearce said...

Ghoulardi loved to blow things up. Legend has it he obliterated a live frog on TV with a firecracker in the mouth . . .

Roshi Gary Fallinwell said...

"Ha! That's not (pundit tone...) what Dogen says. Master Dogen talks of uncountable Big Bangs and Big Crushes of the 3 000 worlds..."

Master Dogen said it so it must be true. We don't need no modern physics or cosmology, just Dogen.
The Shobogenzo says it.
I believe it.
And that is that.

Mumon said...

Mysterion :

Re: demons & fireworks: vampires and garlic.

Seems to work in both cases, since the deleterious agent is hardly seen in the presence of its antagonist.

alan said...

Apropo of nothing :

"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas, only I don't exactly know what they are" Alice after hearing Jabberwocky.

This quote seems to describe exactly what sitting zazen does to me.

plaudertasche said...

Why humans like to be overly stimulated, which can lead to violent outbreaks/dreams ect?

Because we are very simple animals..... We go for the bait (stimulus) and don't think of the consequences.

Isn't the ultimate purpose of all those activities to try to take us away from being with ourselves?
Distraction vs exploring a deeper level of this live experience we are having.
Hey, noise and over stimulation can be fun, if you acknowledge it for what it is and know how your body reacts to it. After a while this stuff get's boring though. It just doesn't hold a lot of substance and you will need less and less of this artificial stimulus.
OR, if you are a not very awake, you go the opposite direction and can't imagine a life without such constant stimulus and mistaken that as your true life force.

Ahhh, the middle way....how great if we can walk it :)

Weasel Tracks said...

Jinzang said:
That's something my generation never had to worry about. (Just the LSD flashbacks.)

Yeah, the government promised there'd be flashbacks. They said, you take that LSD, son, and you'll be hallucinatin' at all the wrong times, in church, at your wedding, in your honeymoon bed . . .

They said you'd see angels and demons laughin' and tryin' to scare ya.

Well, I ain't never had a flashback in 44 years. I WANT MY FRIGGIN' MONEY BACK!

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