Friday, December 31, 2010

Grape Shot

"I think, today’s irony ends up saying: 'How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.' "  - David Foster Wallace

A Prophylactic Against Structural Criticism:
If you are looking for ordered, detailed argument, such posts may be few and far between.  Given that the blog's title suggests the image of a mind literally coming apart, that alone might serve as fair warning.  In any case, on to the actual post.

Our minds are powerful tools for constructing the world which we encounter physically and otherwise.  We have almost limitless connections that we can make, and can treat any one object on multiple levels and from multiple angles.  We can consider whether one thing is not many, and what the implications of that might be.  Importantly, we feel that certain of our experiences, or objects related to experiences, have contributed to the person that we are, and we assign something like the term, ‘meaning’ to these experiences.  These occurrences reflect upon the experiences that we’ve had, how they have impacted us, and how we understand ourselves in the world.  Of equal importance is the fact that such experiences are very often not chosen by us, and our reactions are similarly not under our control in the way that, say, how we approach a math problem, or the function of our lungs, might be.  Because these emotions and the way in which we experience anything are inherent components of the experience, we have control of how we reflect and respond to this experience as a whole.  In what we call experience, the objects are inseparable from the medium and the receiver.   Emotions, Karma, the ineffable and other terms have all been applied in explaining some of this phenomenon.
            The last century has been a century, intellectually speaking, that has challenged much of the thinking concerning the purpose of human life, and the meaning of our efforts, and the meaning of how we interact with the world.  We are today about 50 years removed from the advent of what is often referred to as post-modernism.  The child of this revolution was the acknowledgement that our minds are infinitely capable of seeing experiences in new ways, and a refusal to allow existential/modernist strife to define our reality.  Rather than seeing the world as pregnant with the absurd, post-modernism saw the world as inherently nothing.  This could mean, for us, either that there is really nothing that at base exists, but I believe the point was something else.  Post-modernism accepts that meaning is not something that is an essential feature of the world.  It is, rather, constructed by individuals and societies based on prejudices, past experiences, and an attempt to provide order to the human experience in a way that could be shared.  Should anyone place their eggs in one basket of what defines reality, or defines them, the post-modernist would simply laugh at the naiveté of such a commitment.
            Post-modernism was largely a movement of examining society.  Biases and Prejudices, and stereotypes often became the basis for showing how the meaning of any one thing could be deconstructed into basic ideas that lacked real creativity or connection to something in reality, if reality existed.  But though the universe is supposedly infinite, there are only countably many things for man to examine.  Out of Post-Modernism comes what I call the Age of Irony.  This age, the age of 90’s grunge, hipsters, much of the late genX and genY population, recognized that post-modernism, at base, has to identify human beings as having deep connections in consciousness, thought, pattern, and shared experiences, in order to show that such meaning does not really exist, that the problem ofnot being able to get in another’s head was real, but unimportant, since nothing had meaning.  In essence, in order to show and think about the world as deconstructing into meaninglessness, and as a world where people were unable, and would be naïve in attempting, to communicate meaning, post-modernists had to establish a basis of human experience. 
Almost like a redux of the modernist to post-modernist movement, let us examine the past two decades.  The 90’s saw a youth angry with the world they were coming into, whose post-modernist view and attempt to free themselves from the pressure of meaning (see the 60’s) only yielded more wars with even less justification, and whose view of the world seemed just as contradictory as the views the post-modernist was trying to throw off.  But something happened that lead this youthful movement down another road.  The anger and dark view of this further absurdity was not sustainable, though, due to a mix of 90's rockstar overdoses, and a certain human resiliency against sustained bitterness, and gave way to allow people to laugh at such an utterly absurd logical fallacy.
This is the Age of Irony.  This age realizes, and laughs at, the fact that post-modernisms espousals were themselves subject to their own criticisms, and were still reliant on a search for meaning in the shared human experience.  The movement that shirked a reliance on inherent meaning, either by its presence or absence (see: modernism/existentialism), was seen to be more contradictory and confused and unable to apply its beliefs than those before it.  This is complete irony, the view that the movement for accepting basic meaninglessness had to accept shared meaning to show its point.
The result of this realization is manifold.  Since nothingness is ironically meaningful, by post-modernism, everything is ironic, self-contradictory, and it is unwise to define anything as anything at all.   The indicative mood has deteriorated in a way that is deeply interconnected with our view of freedom of speech.  These are the issues that need discussing.  The post-ironic age will come, and I suggest is being brought about by the most conscious of those seeing the results and pervasiveness of the failures of post-modernism and our initial reactions to that failure. My ultimate point, one that will take many other posts to discuss, is that it is not a failure for us as humans to have twisted ourselves around so in this interplay between art, morality, politics, and philosophy.  Human experience and derivation of meaning almost require it.  I suggest in my writing, though, ways of thinking about how we interact with each other, and our own self-images (both on the micro and macro scales).  But so you can see now how quickly these thoughts blow up and pervade so many topics in a very confusing manner.  So that's it for now. 

Read David Foster Wallace's Commencement speech to Kenyon's 2005 graduating class, entitled 'This is Water.'

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Errata and an Introduction

The world is a wonderful place, and we are all very lucky for the opportunity to live.

Often, I feel as though my mind is coming apart at the seems.  Sometimes, it is overflowing with ideas and thoughts.  We live in a very strange place, this post-ironic world where most people crave for meaning, and yet the world is inherently absurd to them.  Do we then get to define the world as we please?  It seems that for all our efforts, we are plagued by the same problems, perhaps more so, and life carries on.  Technology proliferates, changes how we are able to communicate and interact with the world, but life goes on.  Everything is subject to ridicule, it would seem, and so how we are supposed to interact with our own beliefs is very unclear.

That is a random paragraph, but I hope it serves as an introduction to what I'll try to write about, when I have more time and am not just procrastinating with a final to study for tomorrow.  Here are some things I've written previously that I like, and that'll do for now.

 look damn tired,
 like you walked too many miles
drank too many drinks,
and had a few too few smiles.
But it’s all so pretty when sit down at home
And you you’re done doin
Though you’re worn to the bone,
So what the hell, another drink, drunk, drink,
Sit and think a time descending like molasses,
or maybe like rain.
A good friend is hard to hear,
Harder to see
Sure isn’t me they’re looking for,
But I’m not looking for them either,
Point being that they’re there for a time.
But no rhyme, no reason, telephone wires
Or strong hugs after a long time gone,
Is quite like the scent
of the house you grew up in.
Well the race stopped racing
Long before you missed the boat,
And that midnight deadline’s
Eating at your fingertips,
Typing, typed, deleted, typing.
Put on a song, and album, a story
Are you lost yet?
Or just out your front door?


As if all the thoughts we floating up and around and to the top of my head.  A serotonin—dopamine dream.  A bit closer to immediacy, and a bit farther from reality.  Maybe I’m just a micrometer or two higher off the ground than normal; or maybe the world’s not pulling so hard today.  Why doesn’t it want me?  Stockholm syndrome.
A new thought.  A different ethos?  I don’t know.  Why do we feel the need to respond to experience?  In reflection, the world is lost to us.  In immediacy the world is perfectly, ineffably present to us.  The patterns of understanding fade, and reality is replaced by something genuine.  In immediacy, action and being supersede our view of ourselves in the world, weighed down.  We live.  I live.  I am.
Don’t draw me out and beat me down.  Silence and dark pass, strings, rhythm wake up.  There is a sadness in the best humor, and I feel it.  I love it.  A celestial journey like a song, carrying my soul.  No gravity. Catharsis.

Make me interwoven in
The sinews of the cosmos,
Pump me through her veins.
Let me in her vocal chords
To hear the voice of God.
Well, Perhaps.

Every minute half a thousandth of a millisecond’s flicker of the eye, you and I can make a powerful choice about how we encounter the world.  Experiencing the world with immediacy is not time simply slamming into us constantly; but, rather, each moment, if we’re present to ourselves, we can part ways with the great plethora of angst, stress, and every small karmic moment driving a whole infinite cycle of reactions and suffering.  It is not uncommon for this weight, all this, whatever it is that seems so much an inescapable part of existence itself, to feel like we will break because it is too much for us.  Reality, as it appears to us, is the cause of our feelings and patterns of thought, and since it is apparently REALITY, it is inescapable.  But we forget that at all times, we are experiencing, judging, recollecting, inter-comparing, and the like.  Little of what we consider reality, little of what seems to be reality as we are currently experiencing it, is immediate experience.  The truth is, if we are conscious about it, reality will appear very different, and perhaps those cycles of thought and considerations of reality will begin changing.   We are the cause of this ‘reality’ and can make powerful choices concerning ourselves and our interaction with the world.  The weight does not seem so heavy; rather, it feels a little bit like ‘meaning’- whatever that means.


 Is the aesthetic not beautiful,
Is feeling not divine,
Is everything not tautological?
Breed meaning, not time.
No Rationality, Nor Beauty.
Rationality fails
and Beauty means death,
Lost, Lost, Lost….

Life itself is only a vision, a dream.  Nothing exists save empty space and you, and you are but a thought.

Two months removed.

We have these cumulative moments in life where it seems that so much of where you’ve been has been building up to this moment, so that when it came, it knocked you off your feet with how much meaning there was to be had in an instant.  I have never felt this more completely and overwhelmingly as when I first fell in love, and every time I look in your eyes, again that feeling pervades me, and it seems that the feeling will persist to infinity.  If it is at all possible in this life to come nearer to perceiving the divine, surely it is in these moments that we so ascend. 


When she spoke, she had a voice with more complex notes and sights seen behind it than one could imagine:
“A million over-sexed youths, smelling of desire, hatred, jealousy, all begging for what they’ve never had. This is the West, and this is me. I cannot escape it, nor will I run for it. For under it is love and balance. Love and fear collided in me, but they were the same all along, so really I tore in two. It wasn’t the sex and it wasn’t desire. It was love. We have so underappreciated and overused and misunderstood and purely lived LOVE that there was nothing but discord and useless words that could never describe what we felt. There was only pain, so far as a word could say it. And it all spins madly and jumps jubilantly, and all the Kerouac lists of adjectives and pictures in our minds were really nothing, just another way to see the same void. But that void is real, is it not some matrix created externally, and so we spin further. And that was just it, we were truly alone, but never far from home, a paradox. Were. Were was to be is are will be, and every word down from it, it is all TO BE and is all a lie. A paradox: to be IS a lie. Haha! Ownership of it, to be, some claim, something different from anything else, to be, posing as the grea uniter of existence. TO be or not to be, because they are the same. Not to be is to be something, so to be, but what horrible refuse existence is. SO we spin, because more than hatred and fear and glee and excitation and sex and even love, I think what we really want is to be in a perfectly quiet and perfectly dark room, alone. Because in this room we can realize something: existence is powerless, but even in the dark, closing your eyes makes existence tolerable, if only for a moment.”

So began the night on the train past trees, mountains, a no-nonsense drifter with a beard, little time to get nowhere fast, and a six-pack of beer, as well as several hidden eyes and skittish woodland children. The train car smelled lightly of cigarette smoke and distinctly of pine. An attempt at a carpet had been laid on the floor, but the walls were sleek and dead and white, and the booths’ leather was too new to be that comfortable. The train car still felt old, though upon consideration this was because it was a train. No one looked like they fit in this train-car, which is odd, since they remained contained in its four or so walls. I needed another drink so as not to slip right off my seat and into the ineffable. I preferred a little weight, with all the damned rattling, rumbling noise of the iron horse narrow track dragon towing us along.
Now I had thought a lot about the trees and the mountains, and I fully intended to think about them further, hike from cairn to cairn, sleep on the ground, pontificate to the tree-bark, and after a week or so, role into Denver, the bars, a bed, and with any luck, a fine woman next to me. There are few pleasures more immediately soothing as the buzz of alcohol and a lovely woman with arms entrancing you with their serpentine seductive entanglement about your shoulders, and their delicate weight on your lap. Give a man a week in out camping, and this becomes a little piece of heaven. But at the moment, St. John the Apostle had stood up and began speaking, and as it was in my best interest to do so, either for mental health or a bit of cracked logic to re-affirm some basis of sanity for myself (for now I hadn’t decided), I listened.

“Air conditioners
Don’t make haikus but
They make a lot more

Kicks up across
The barren field of nonsense
And old men’s hats

Jumping Fish
Laugh at purple rods
Spinning away tales of three

Passed through town
Bearing a sore back and
True love.

A gust of wind
Approached a pine tree
To breathe possibility
Into the world.

Concerning the last poem:
An image: a wind approaches a pine needle perpendicular to the wind’s direction and bisecting the gust. The wind splits to either side, force is applied to the needle, and the wind hitting the needle reacts to the contact uniformly. Now add imperfections. Change the angle of the needle, its position, the strength of the wind. Alter the situation however you can think to change the way the needle and the wind interact. Now, imagine a gust of some shape and some directions, not standardized, but as it truly is. And imagine a pine tree. How many possibilities could there be with so many variables to consider. Possibility. We’re scared to know, because if we know the answer, then there is no possibility. Just imagine the air passing through, and encompass the variables as best you can. Always open doors.”

Well, That's enough for now.  Hopefully soon, as in next week or something, I will be posting concerning this notion of the 'post-ironic' era, and some implications of that.  Hopefully from that will come some posts on politics and pursuit of the good.  Who knows, but I hope you all enjoy!