Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ex Nihilo

The constant receding borders of the limits of possibility sweep the proverbial rug from beneath my feet. Possibility engulfs me. It is not the quality of possibility I have been acquainted with from time to time that I now speak, those welcomed, short bursts which catapult into transcendent vision from my everydayness, a bodily ripple of charge, a fierce exciting vitality and empowerment of personal control, but an endless dark vastness which swallows me entirely, the blackness and disorientation of the expanding universe.

It comes from an environment I have praised and continue to praise, one it took years to generate the courage and resources to enter: one with very little imposed, external structure. The structures of my current life evolve from the inside out. I create my work opportunities, my play opportunities, my projects and my pursuits. I create the time at which I wake, I create the physical and interpersonal spaces I inhabit. I even create the challenges and resistances I intend to work through and overcome. I create my days, thus I create a life, my life. Weeks no longer churn in repetitive motions. Mondays are no longer Mondays, each forward-marching return of the sun holds within it its own signature texture. Welcome to 365 flavors.

I have never been with, or operated out of, this sort of monumental blankness, which requires me to draft the structural and decorative lines and construct the mosaic. Over a half-decade ago I began studying existential claims; some years back, I self-identified as an existentialist; only in very recent months have I begun to live existentially. I once thought about existentialism, caught as I now realize in excessive cognition and bloodless argumentation. Now I care only to embody. I do not intend to mislead that my special new context has allowed me a freedom I was once denied by external force and obligation. No, au contraire: All along I have been and am and will be this free, I am now only beginning to feel it, to acknowledge it, to embrace it as the case. My current environment has functioned as a prism of my basic reality that has always already been operating, beneath serious illusions I had adopted as over and against me: the requirements that I needed to live by. I embark on a lived study of un-programming, suitably at the culmination of my formal studies (a large part of the grand withdrawal of external structure).

Others who have exploded the constructs of obligated living in their lived commitments have provided the pathway to my own avowal of the full creativity of a life, of radical choice. To them I am indebted (but as we know, not in a way that would constrict the abundance of my freedom). When people, in their defense of limitation, caught in the sweet ease of bad faith, smirk and demand from me, “Certainly you are restricted in the fact that you need money to survive,” I simply can give them those who have outgrown humanity into the √úbermensch. McCandless and those who live out his spirit today, e.g. Daniel Suelo. Their particular path I may not personally uptake. Freedom demands I carve out my own rather than follow footsteps, however few. Their centrality to my heart lies in the fact that their lives are the exceptions to necessity. They are the (Lived) Statues of Liberty. Maybe I am not cool enough for others to know me in this way yet, but I feel the sweeping power of a name change, a movement from the given designation of my birth name, a marker and example par excellenece of facticity, to a chosen appelation.

I think I’ll choose Supertonin.

This all may seem a bit grandiose and over the top, which is what possibility tends to do to the spirit, I’ll admit. Yet I do not declare it from an untouchable, holier-than-thou perch. I am learning that in every choice, even a choice to choose from the ground up, ex nihilo, there is a building and a demolition. Advantages and downsides. New openings which close down old avenues. For in freedom I have discovered the dark side of the wide blank canvas, the startling paralysis of emptiness, the burden of every action and every decision as my own, my own alone: I have discovered angst. I continue to act, as I must, but action comes with a crippling doubt and commentary: If nothing holds me to this act, if it must be solely me who affirms, upholds, and does this, should I? What good is it? What will this amount to? Is this really mattering? Is this what I want to do? To be known for? To enjoy? To spend my time developing? In possibility, ironically, I can no longer simply do.

What I am left with is a somewhat disorganized assortment of activity, a distracted flittering of attentions, a drowning sea of choice. I find myself in lecture halls with the definitive world expert on rare mosses, I find myself collecting household supplies with which to repurpose and convert into homemade candles, I find myself in meditation circles, I find myself composting, I find myself trying to refine my palette to discriminate wine fermented in oak-barrels v. stainless steel. I find myself reading 100 different topics at once and when asked what books I’ve recently read, have to confess, well, none really. Where do I find myself?
In the recognition that a) I can never again be told what it is that I should be doing (should this occur again, that I cannot take the necessity of it seriously anymore) and b) that there is no path for me to discover, only those I affirm, I am left with whatever. And whatever is both and at once maximally liberating and maximally daunting, the twin pillars of freedom and responsibility, the silent and boundless human experience that I must, by the sheer fact of existence, fill with sound and form.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Create an Interest Map

Out of the wealth of perceptual data we interact with, certain little tidbits can reach out and intensely and intimately grab my diffuse attentions. Initially they reverberate in my inner chambers as if a koan waiting to be solved. After wrestling with what feels to be this hand-delivered message, I begin to see its implications within the workings of my life. These tidbits are only occasionally cosmologic revelation. Most are revelation of an emerging direction for me to take, a theme bubbling up from beneath conscious awareness, a new personal truth.

One such gripping tidbit came to me during a lecture on alternative methods of bodily health and healing, the tidbit being completely irrelevant to this topic of nutritional supplements and ion cleanses, that is. It was said as a preface, a introductory side note, and yet it was this that I took, like a bright gift, most preciously away from that hour’s time of listening to another. The woman introduced herself, trying to give an appropriate context to house the content she was about to share. Succinctly, and with assurance, she declared, “I am not a master of nutrition nor am I a doctor; I am not a master of physiology, although I do have interest as well as training in these areas. However, I am a master herbalist, and I come from that domain of expertise in talking with you today.” With this tidbit now framing my reference point, I began to see the appeal and advantage of being a master of a domain. It was immediately apparent that I was not a master, not a master of anything -- my intense curiosity, something once uniformly treasured, had prevented me from developing this, this “singularity of purpose” (Bow hunter Cameron Hanes’ phrase – coming to me, again in an unrelated forum –we’re talking bow hunting here, resonating this tidbit). I was in awe of what a master commands, how a master works herself into her field, that a master goes beyond his field and thus can enrich it with his personal contributions. The tidbit evolved into the nagging, as yet unanswered question: What do I want to become a master of?

As a result of this irksome inquiry piercing my thoughts at odd times in all manners of day, I decided to undertake a small project this morning that I called an Interest Map, which I intended to be a visual representation of the web of interests that have developed in recent years, highlighting the ones currently active. I began with my intellectual interests. As an intellectual primarily (although I do affiliate with other identities), I found this an effortless beginning and could easily recall prominent books, classes, and discussion group topics that had a basic theme, easily condensed into a word or two, or at most a phrase. Without too much felt condensation, a whole host of material and thought could be identified simply, as in the Master Herbalist’s summary of herself utilizing one fitting term: Herbalist is all she needs for the no doubt vast array of information, orientation, and experience she has behind her mastery. I found that most interests were evolutionarily linked, meaning I started tracing (usually from the currently active backwards in time) interests in a sort of linkable tree, clearly seeing that my interests held within them a natural order, flow, and sense. This felt really good. Suddenly the chaos of my creativity felt more like a logical flow. Like I was heading toward some master plan. And ‘master plan’ contained the ever-desired root word. Overlaying this skeleton I carved in more word nodes from the non- or somewhat- intellectual of interests: the scope of activities that filled my life, beyond mere reading and its associated ideas. Rather than be adjacent or requiring a second Map, these interests aligned in a great synchrony.
Finally I could relate realms of my life, and deduce the emergence of whole new sectors from previous areas that had been dug around in for a sufficient period of time. Interests do seem botanical (although the metaphor is widely applicable): New shoots seem to necessarily branch off interests that are deeply and thoroughly developed. And I smiled in recollection at the birth of new shoots that came in the form of a tidbit to propel the Interests forward – a two-hour movie, an introductory statement. I began to run this way. About a year ago I saw a runner about my age, female, down a path I was driving along near my home. Very ordinary. We all see runners all the time. This had grazed my retinal impressions countless times. Somehow, that day, it grabbed me intensely and intimately and I immediately knew I needed to do this: My body had this awesome capability within it, without really any outside support, it can run incredibly long distances (well, I did indulge in running shoes and technically as of yet I cannot go very far). I have to be able to do this most human of things, to propel my body forward, to traverse miles and miles without using equipment of any kind. As a book later found says, I was born to run.

Perhaps this will be the tidbit for someone in the virtual ‘out there’.

I share this with you, blog-readers, to encourage you to try out something of an Interest Map of your own as it has revealed to me a great and readable narrative of Interests, a catalog of my first decade of adult years. I will enrich it in days to come, transferring it to a large swath of butcher paper and enlivening it with color and image. Within it, I read off the budding mastery already apparent in my world, as well as relieve myself to pursue whatever mastery I so choose at this particular temporal moment, for all my interests lie in wait, spelled out, on my giant map.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Conditions for the possibility of Procrastination

There is a moment, perhaps not exactly discrete, in which a lapse becomes so … well, lapsed, you start overlaying your now routine concerns over reengaging with the task with actually explaining the lapse itself. The predicament in this added layer, often associated with self-deprecating indictment (the shame, the self-blame, the negative identity labels) is that it extraordinarily prolongs the reengagement. How am I to extract of this lack, now so long in the making? we ask. In paradoxical circles of worry, we fantasize about the reuptake as well as the excuses, which take up as much energy as the would-be itself. It seems this happens quite often to us, unpleasantly enough. Segments of our lives are overdue. Some have gone, both literally and figuratively, to collection agencies. When it’s been that long, ‘just forgot’ doesn’t really cut it anymore. Lapses create ever-deepening trenches requiring taller and sturdier ladders, as well as more and more serious accounting until any narrative of explanation just seems ridiculous, such as justifying lateness in saying you got lost, in your own neighborhood.

Alright, as you may have guessed, all my musings on lengthy lapses do indeed have everything to do with this very enterprise of which you are now engaged, and haven’t seen in quite some time, entries which appear on this very blog. Just think of this entry as an exercise in merging form and content. Or, the act of embodying an idea rather than merely explicating it. This is the reasoning I came up with to lead me on my way out of my own lapse hole. I hope it’s a pretty good line. I philosophize in the transcendental tradition, which is to say, I look ‘to the conditions for the possibility of such’, or in more ordinary parlance, I look to what makes it possible for a phenomenon to present itself, for a phenomenon to be. This is much a cooler, Continental, question, over and above asking, what caused this lapse? There’s been at least a dozen movies viewed in the interim. Perhaps two dozen. Mundane, trivial details in the maintenance of the platform of my life, like freezer cleaning and oil changes have ensued. There’s been international travels and a wedding, completing graduate school and an internship, sending my most treasured away on a cross-continental move. In one sense I have been busy. In another I haven’t. This whole notion of being busy, anyway, has been a noted frustration in its conventional acceptability as well as a catch-all for opting out.

More on the phenomenon of busyness later. What I’m getting at is that anything felt worthy of doing is, simply, done. Feats of production have been accomplished in the most non-conducive and restrictive of situations. Where does that leave me with this blog and you, readers, with all of your own tasks which you sit upon, in a heap of pure intention? Let me at least explore a bit, probe around this lapse, in an effort to assess its preconditions, which ideally, will inspire an inlet to your own personal relevance, and lively dialogue in the comments.

Every lapse is a derailment from a former plan of action. Lapses deactivate what was once ongoing, perhaps even enthusiastic, activity; lapses stagnate a former intention. What inevitably comes to mind is the much discussed, great Fall from fitness and nutritional health Americans suffer sometime in February. Or perhaps late January. Lapses must be frequent, I must not be alone, as this struggle, many, if not most, certainly face. Statistics vary, of course, but my consulted sources cite a resolution failure rate of between 80-90%. Many a lapse has gone on. Many of these lapses are themselves recurrences, a whole layer cake of lapse.

There are shelves of time management strategies, goal-setting gurus, and 10 ways to be productive, useful, and back-on-track. Although I utilize this sector of the library, this is not what I am after here. I am after the phenomenology of the lapse, not the maneuvers to avoid them, assuage them, or fix them. I am after why they are even a concern at all. They are a concern because they are a phenomenon. They happen. As stated, frequently. It is that we suffer our lapses, as if from beyond, yet it was we who cared, sometimes the only being who cared, that we did x in the first place. How can we be so divided? Committing and opposing in our dissonance between intention and action? How can we fail the standards we ourselves alone crafted?

I planned a blog. I “didn’t find time” for five months. I can locate that derailment in resistance. A part of me wants to continue. A part of me doesn’t. The latter is a personally difficult acknowledgement for secretly, I want to believe that if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything (thanks McFly). But the way of subconscious resistance is an internal battle waged between parts of oneself. What a wasted relay. I wonder, what if we channeled our various conflicting internal voices and motives into a united front? The darkened corner presence speaks to the one in center light who proclaims a beacon of hopeful willpower. I will do this! I will accomplish! The shadow speaks and negates all her showy stage antics. She says you don’t want this. It is futile. You have no readers. You hold no interest. No one cares to read your musings. Hell, no one can even locate your blog in the blogosphere in order to decide to not invest in reading your musings. I am writing on an infinitesimal shelf in the virtual cornucopia of words. You can spill all of your insecurities and even that won’t matter. Because they’ll remain unwitnessed. Why not continue my traditional private scribblings in journals, notebooks, on random receipt scraps and bits of napkin? At least then I could give up having to render my idiosyncratic symbolism into attempts at coherent communication.

These comprise the barely audible ground upon which I sit down to conjure an entry, shakily, in this project of blog writing. I suspect the quality of this ground as the, or at least a, factor in my lapse. Because the fact is that I do intrinsically enjoy the craft of writing, an entry’s evolving demand to produce a structure readers can inhabit, the working-through of coiled up, often pre-verbal, ideas until they are rendered intelligible. The search for the precise word that embodies the feeling of the concept. I’ve been a writer since I was young. My elementary school teachers had to place upper limits on page lengths for creative writing assignments, not page minimums they coaxed out of other, more reluctant, students.

The paradoxical and annoying lapse. That nagging voice, “well if you love it sooooo much…”. There’s a notion that we hate work. The fantasy of intention, that exciting burgeoning of a new purpose, is the sumptuous cake without the calories. When we get in the thick of it, it just takes too much energy expenditure to want it anymore. In this appraisal, we entertain thoughts and quit at the first sign of sweat. I have a friend who is into “fake hobbies”, in that she gets pumped about a project, invests in needed materials, spends a giddy day in the activity, and then lapses on that hobby indefinitely. My blog turned into a fake hobby. Lapses plague our potentials.

The phenomenology of lapse, however, makes me wonder if we are crowding our lives to the point where lapses create needed room, they, the off-site storage chambers for too much stuff we do with our time. Perhaps we put aside endeavors in a revolving juggling act. Perhaps my cycling robbed me of my writing.

This takes me to a passage from a William Bridges book I’ve recently read, the author and workshop leader on life transitions. “I had moved to the country partly because I had been infatuated with Thoreau’s Walden and its story of living a basic life, close to nature. The heart of that undertaking, he had written, was to simplify your life. Simplify, simplify, simplify! he wrote. In retrospect, I can see that although I thought that this was what I was doing, I was really just trying to add simplicity to my life. In addition to all the old things I had been doing, I started heating the house with a woodstove and chopping wood for fuel and raising as much of the family food as I could and reusing everything over and over. Of course, my life grew more and more complicated in the process” (The Way of Transition, pg. 10). Okay, so if this is the case the quest to leave the lapse unindulged will be about unlearning and undoing to clear an area, to purge in order to make room. The movies are going to have to go.

I invite and encourage you, my readers, to muse on lapses and provide the stories of your own lapses with which to investigate {for the phenomenologists – to move through the ontic lapse toward the grounds for a lapse}. Oh wait. The reminder comes in around the edges of the last sentence, as I type out the period at its end: Don’t kid yourself, there are no readers.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Isolated Connectedness

Many say they wish to slip quietly from life. To go without knowledge of the going, to be struck unaware, or rather not struck at all. I think I understand the grounds, the emanation, of this desire. And it is a deeply individualized desire each must come to terms with for his or her self. They say they want their erasure to be peaceful. To pass suckled in deep sleep’s sweet sublime basement of self. It sure seems to get the job done without active effort, painlessly. This very relief, however reliving it may be, has come to be seen as, under many recent awarenesses and events of mine, duty dismissal, and a very important missed undertaking of responsibility. This is the very tragedy of fast ceasing: bypassing that critical culmination, your very telos, the fulfillment of all of your possibilities and the end of your not-yet, previously undulating before you in complex iterations. What one “gets over quickly” is not a prickly dilemma nor unwieldy mishap – it is your life. Pause on that gravitas. What it means to desperately crave that getting over, that getting over quickly. In certain bodily destructions and dismantlings this must be the here-and-now choice of the one in limbo. Those in these conditions strongly willing to want that Over immediately is a tragic element in our grand tragedy. When dying permits us otherwise, I advocate for a death stance quite opposed to this suppression. For, in the end, this constitutes a looking away, the easy way out of our existence. Do we not owe our existence more than a barely cognizant passive glance?

I am no prophet. This facing-toward of stark mortality I cannot claim to have originated. In one historical instance, it’s called being-towards-death and it’s Heideggerian. Many others, I imagine, have stumbled upon it. Blog-readers, please fill me in on variations. Despite its presence, generally and pervasively it is opposed. This April has enlisted me as a witness. I’ve experienced being with another in his dying moment of stark rage in the night as well as that softly gentle passing. Those abruptly fierce kicks despite last bodily throes, fighting a strictly comfortable oblivion. That contrasting succumbing to endless black. In painful times, survivors put up their shields and invoke a looking away, encouraging their dying to do likewise. Retrospectively I want to rip that breathing tube out and, in all seriousness, face it together. To bolster that facing-toward, however wretchedly true it was, which after unsuccessful fits diminished and evaporated into facing-away. By this time the question was silenced with which I berate myself for in my intolerance and immaturity: What do you have to say? became irrelevant, an inappropriate inquiry, asked too late for the wise man who had lost the battle in knowing in his end that dark is right.

There is something so terrible in it that I cannot shake or ignore. Images of resurrected personhoods, preserved in blissful bioluminescent netherworlds, plaster over the terror of the terrible. We cannot keep this searing fact for but a few moments of bearability, so we soon enough find solace and redemption in fantastical images of our newly deceased in grand, otherworldly Banshee flight. Even I conjured and used it in the rawest nausea of the situation that presented itself. Someone was dying. We rushed to be there in the dying process, to provide warm human companion, a mirage of connectedness in an isolating removal. Damn this requirement to forsake people. If only I could kill the killer.

Let me grant a reprieve and lift you out. However, I must warn you that I will drop you again.

Shortly before this rupture and these personal losses, which dismantled and infused angst into the smallest of the everyday, I had found my new blog content. Andrew Graham. I waited to write it for this platform. Something whispered to wait. Finding Andrew was one of those real moments in an immediate vicinity of placid sleepwalking. As my repetitive metaphors betray, this experience was a parallel form of the bringing back to bear facing-toward death, the tragedy inherent in life, which Andrew Graham did in a whisk of unguarded surprise. The day of his recognition in death was premature. For him as well as for me. It had to settle in, seed the ground, set the perimeter of what I was unforeseeingly about to pass through. His perimeter is a symbolic marker. It is four miles wide, his last four miles. I shall explain this highly idiosyncratic mythical imagery of mine as Andrew walks his perimeter with you, as he did with me.

This boy’s foot mileage, his four miles, came to me strikingly coincidental along multiple unrelated channels, a poignant symbol for me, understandably so much more to some, a full and relatable life, more than a lesson. I came across him alone, sharing his final condition. Caught up in the mode of the everyday, Andrew Graham entered into my world seamlessly, emerging into the middle of the aisle of a light rail train, a setting deeply ordinary and entrenched familiarly for me, my mobile home as I liken it. In this found connection through this video that found me, I saw the trappings of a late night ride to “your destination”, I felt the anticipation of walking over the bumpy yellow rider boarding strip he would cross as he exited, the hazy lights whizzing past reflective windows, a largely empty, jostling train, the inner fidgetiness of adjusting a shoulder bag and waiting hovered over the stairwell for the train to slow, the bright yellow-red spectrum seat stripes leaping at my core as if ingrained as deeply as my baby blanket is in memory.

I saw my being in Andrew as the video unfolded, for these intimate actions in these very intimate surroundings are me. There was a brief relatedness, an identity, with a life I did not know in any personal manner. Over and over I board, and ride, and deboard. I imagine he was used to the same. The video shows Andrew riding the train, prominent in the center of the camera’s view in straight jeans and a black jacket. He deboards.

In a personal journal of mine, I jotted the following, directly after witnessing this three-part video. I violently, and by surprise, wept for this intimate stranger. A life whose culminating offering occurred in the moment and manner of his death for people he would never know. He prepared me for significant losses that swept around me, like an unexpected wave surge or burst of transparent wind. He prepared me for my own nonbeing. How I could not anticipate his offering nor that I would indeed write about Andrew and so many more:

“I follow him off and through the bridge, down the stairs, all the way to the last stride that takes him off the right-hand side of the screen, the edge of the security camera’s field of view. There he embarks on the journey home; he departs from the social sphere of community into an elongated expanse along a four mile trajectory: he is alone and will never return to the world of others, the community. For these four miles are his summation. Our last four miles we cannot know in advance. This is both their tragic ignorance, their blissful ignorance. Staring death in the face, honoring Andrew Graham’s concrete existence, I now have the symbolic power inherent in four miles.”

He swirls around me as an apparition, such an intimate human connection, yet so far removed. Like, and among the ranks of, my personal litany of the heroic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Society, You Crazy Breed

I am beginning to see more clearly the industrial-military conspiracy and have begun to doubt all recommendations bore of this, our, age. To the uninitiated, I am a cynic, a pessimist, perhaps a paranoid. These are the self-labels warranted…warranted by the very entity I am excessively skeptical about. The labels identify an agent awry - namely, me - in a smoothly operating, efficient system unchecked, unscrutinized, kept powerful. We call this monstrous beast society. Essentialized, or absolutized, we view at as a necessary populace organizer - we are a collective, yet we are in dire opposition to it, not members that constitute it. It looms large, over and against us, molding the intricacies as well as the large movements of our lives, something we must be fit within, yet none of us feel apart of.

Is this not tyranny? The label of cynic or pessimist or paranoid I am bound to receive are the retorts of the oppressed, of a Nietzschean slavish morality. I too am oppressed, but I am refusing the ideology of a slave, and am instead advocating for Nietzsche’s overcoming: the will to self-flourishing. Any collective entity is going to be at odds with individual whims, I get this. There is no way around this one, it seems. But, here, where I reside, in a mountain state of the United States, to reiterate, I am beginning to feel uneasy with everything, feeling stuck in an eco-anxiety (due to Environmental Ethics’ lifting the veil of ignorance in the Fall of 2009) that has widened into a society-anxiety.

Let’s get down and dirty with what I am alluding to in vague, sweeping statements by investigating my concrete forms of realization. First, an easy instruction almost no one questions, something I never questioned until I questioned everything in the era of society-anxiety. Banking. Who doesn’t have a bank account? The only one I can find still alive is Daniel Suelo (see “Blogs I follow”). Seems every hint of conspiracy has some lone advocate, assuring me I am not paranoid, that there is truth to the unsettledness I feel in our deeply engrained, common, unquestioned practices. We are taught, early on with astonishing, exponentially-eye-popping graphs of equations, to save money. This, according to the diffuse panel of experts spread in and out popular culture, is a responsible thing to do. A practice for our interests, both generally and fiscally. But not under covert mattress corners. Not in piggy banks. No, we are told we must save money at a bank, whose service is to store money in safekeeping, really that alone.

A bank’s veneer as a benign and necessary social institution, existing as a basic service for the people, is simply a cover-up, or a pervasive misunderstanding, for what it is and why it does so. How could a megacorporate entity convince the populace to willingly and warmheartedly hand over the entirety of its money? Let’s back up for I am perpetuating more misperception- banks are not this ‘it’ I keep referring to. Banks are collections of people. Powerful people. In the terms of basic economics, money is capital, captured and frozen, a storeable product of labor. Within this system, more money can be accumulated with more labor, real-time production of money, or far less back-breakingly, through interest, money “working for you”. I know this firsthand via my budget strategy for this year-off income thing. I saved and now I withdraw from my stash. In yesteryear I commuted weekly 15 hours, waited up to a half hour in rain, snow, sleet for my vehicle of mass transit to escort me, endured mind-numbing data entry for hours at a time with others, well, frankly I despised. Now I extract the excess of this labor, with the help of its power to generate itself, in the interest percent I agreed upon when I locked it up at the bank. Sounds great, huh?

Capital earns more capital, through a process that continues to elude me (Blog readers, please help me out in edification through commentary, if you can). Here’s a shot: capital is reinvested in the economic system, used in productive avenues, loaned and won back at a higher price with ensuing interest rates (or, created out of thin air by banks at the request of a loan by an individual. Think not? Check out “Money as Debt“ on Youtube). The banks just have to sit back with a nation’s worth, generated through real labor, with their hands clasped, gluttonously smiling, as it uses this enormous power to enlarge itself. Banks are the most powerful institutions of the world. My father finds it difficult to conceive that all of his blue-collared allies, the people who actually produce real goods of real value are all indebted to bankers, who just abstractly “manage” and who couldn’t probably, say, milk a cow, or build a desk, or bake bread from scratch. How did this happen?

I am beginning to see that the recommendations of this, our, age exist to perpetuate the powerful behind the societal oughts. These recommendations benefit the few greatly. In this case of banking, individuals are seldom harmed , in fact we get rewarded - but this fact merely makes banking more insidious and less likely to be challenged. Just think of how hard credit card companies press in junk mail and advertisement. They’re nicely proposing to give me a 1% return as a “customer appreciation”, and yet they send vast onslaughts of applications. They want to drain me and as a token thank-you, they’ll give me a droplet of my own blood back. I merely point out that by participating in this practice, we fuel the very accelerating divide in power we first learned about in Introduction to Sociology. And by this point we face such a power divide that I feel helpless under the weight of such things such as our corrupt political system, that under my scrutiny IS the bank, is the megacorporate entity, they are fused, no distinction need be made. This is the problem of powerlessness, of society being imposed on selves. We live in a pseudo-democracy.
Newt Gingrich said “If you have government this big, it’s going to be really dumb, it’s going to have large sections of corruption, it’s going to waste a lot of money, and it’s going to be a threat to your freedom…as a citizen, you better be actively involved in running your own community, because that’s the only way to preserve freedom.” Of course, he has his own political agenda and I am unconcerned with party politics. But he paves an idea I have latched onto like a desperate anchor in a hopeless void, at least in principle: we’re going to have to stop feeding the monstrous beast if ever we are to be free. The power has always been in community, even if now it is leeched from us. Remember, we are the ones who milk, construct, and bake. Yes, we are tangled in a complexity that makes it difficult to see how much resides in us. We must pierce. Otherwise, accept the “free” plight of taking at least thirty years of your life and handing it over to employment (see “To Be Employed“ written in December 2009), the heft of one’s peak productive years, simply to own a place of dwelling. How can we claim we are free? Our hearth and bed in our caves have become shackles.

And, the looming part about all of this is that it isn’t just about banks, if that weren’t broad enough. I buy Kashi products regularly because they, too, seemed like some kind of benign social institution, providing wholesome foods for the public. Yah, I understood Kashi as corporation, but I always had envisioned some mom-and-pop, yes expanding, but retaining some original vision of supplying the supermarkets with an alternative to high fructose corn syrups and hydrogenated oils, not to mention TBHQ and ammonium phosphatides. What has been appealing is that I don’t have to laboriously read the Kashi nutritional content and ingredient labeling - I trust they’ve complied a granola bar or frozen pizza well. Then I learn that Kashi is Kelloggs, a moment when the grocery store gained a possibly sinister, definitely questionable, status. Not that Kelloggs is the heart of the matter. The veneer, again, the veneer. Kashi is not in the business of selling wholesome, nutritious food products. Kashi is in the business of appearing to the consumer in whatever way the consumer seems to desire in the trendy moment. All that matters is the veneer. It protects market share, its existence there solely for monetary gain, and will dupe, deceive, and mislead, all if these qualities generate the bottom line. As depicted in “The Corporation”, corporate entities, even Kashi - the last of the trustworthy, display the traits of a psychopath. And I don’t trust psychopaths.

&*^%, I’ve got to grow a garden and just do it all myself, I resign, take back the city tonight. But I can’t grow mp3 players and I infinitely enjoy my (beat up, old-school) one. Rush of society-anxiety. I will leave you with more to ponder, and as always, generously comment, this is my favorite part, the virtual gathering.

1. “Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution
” (Wiki on the Declaration of Independence).

An aside: It was a joyous opening and immediate recognition of “The Patriot” score (John Williams) - how fitting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blog Teaser Trailer

Currently I am working on a new blog that has a little to do with the industrial-military conspiracy, a dash of slavish morality, and a whole heaping of tragic loss of power. I would like to do a bit of research on the intent of the nation to incorporate - meaning, what parameters were instated at its origin, yah know, founding fathers' ideas and such. If you have any leads on this, please comment below so I can include it. Normally I wouldn't post a blog prelude, but it's been a month, and this is my dedication and accountability factor to produce. Thanks for your patience - expect a blog every other week from this point forward.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Year End / Begin

Having been stuck in the strange removal of reflecting on 2009 personally and projecting into 2010, also personally, for the last two weeks in their near entirety (of course, not in bondage but stuck of my own choosing), I am ripe for temporal musings. This is a practice that I began in its initial form in the handing off of 2006 into 2007’s embrace. Not that these four-digit numbers have relational ties, or even immovable reality for that matter. They are human contrivance. There may be cosmic significance in the completion of a year, a perfect ellipse of our large abode around its nourishing light source, but there really is nothing special about late December’s passing into early January, sorry Jesus. Despite all of this, and the call to move such a transition to an astronomically-relevant marker, such as a solstice (which, is obviously close and conspicuously close at that, here), we are caught up in a tradition that places an end and a beginning, once more, in an endless sequence, a few weeks back. So the creator and publisher of my traveling journal where all my insights, notes, perceived developments, vented frustrations, and half-baked renderings placed its ending on December 31st, 2009 and a new one commenced: I became lost in-between.

I saw myself perched, precariously yet balanced in utter symmetry, between the vastness of years, and the present seduced me. Frozen, I seemed to not age or regress, I occupied peaceful present-centered nirvana. Although technically I wasn’t present-minded, that seemingly Eastern buzzword of enlightened being, as I spanned impossible mental distances that strained my comprehending abilities of understanding the breadth of two years. I should back up here:

This whole undertaking, bordering neurotic in unwavering discipline to capturing scope and detail, was birthed of a terror given to me by my mother. It was some time prior to 2006, when the massive cataloguing and rendering myself in time became imperative, when I nonchalantly asked her to recall the summer of her 20th year, the very season I found myself so vibrantly in, so wrapped up in, as we all are, in its fine-grained concerns and matters: the thick reverberations of a summer courses’ texts and online discussions (and the sweltering afternoons attempting - for the last time in my albinic life - sunbathing, ruining those summer course texts as the electromagnetic blare melted binding glue), the near daily there-and-back along the corridor of Frontage Road to-and-from my retail job, where I stood outside next to a rounder of last month’s color schema of sale t-shirts to prevent passerby theft, the rocky streamsides and graded hillsides and narrow roadsides my sister and I found ourselves on as we tried encapsulating songs into images that interwove the ambitions and drama of youth and place. My mother manifested a blank, if not curious, stare as she peered in her mind’s eye, back, further back, back some more. Prior to the acclimating gauges of the birth of children. Subsequent to the relative guides of adolescent cyclic school structure. A lost time. Blog-readers, I assure you, if you, like me, find this lack of specificity of an entire season to be off-putting and felt uneasy, I testify my mother’s within-range memorial capacity. Test this yourself with your own mid-lifers and beyond. You will find that they struggle, like she, in placing particular long-ago summers and falls and winters in their nuanced meanings.

I could not conceive that this inevitable elongation of personal time could threaten integral identity within a cruel mind ill-equipped to hold on, would be my fate as I aged into the era of the long adulthood. For what was the purpose of my current enjoyments and ecstasies, frets and strivings, the whole of my lived experience, if unrecallable? Anathema, I declared. Thus I embarked on an involved pursuit I continue to harbor - how to render a life unfolding in time.

Of course, this pursuit could take on unwieldy proportions, and I understand this pitfall, and peel myself away from the tempting process of year end / begin, even as it swells, iteration to iteration. A human life is not entirely factical, until one‘s demise in death, and even that is up for further consideration, as I debated with someone today. We are always, in Sartrean exposition, a unified mixture of facticity and transcendence, and this transcending being means that one’s life project, taken as a whole, can never be neatly summed, packaged in a year as I attempt to do. New importances of 2009 will grow out of a future I cannot now fully anticipate, events matter not solidly, but in an ever-changing fashion. As we remake ourselves, so our years are remade. What is revealed to me in looking back now may become irrelevant, and even things never noted may bear upon me, with insidious foundations in 2009’s basement of undocumented hidden layers. However, I will be armed with material I can speak from: 2009 will not perish in obscurity, bleeding its palpable vitality into the enveloping summers of 27...25...28...24...
Year end / begin is a fascinating tour of a developing personal world and an active attempt to redirect the constant unreflective that produces the current undulations we are so often caught up in, as if our lives were being led by powerful puppeting agents pulling us this way and that. The removal from one’s captivating, regular flow of everyday life helps, but doesn’t entirely, effect a distance from oneself, as in Harry Stack Sullivan’s participant-observer. This is the power behind formats of retreat, a way of getting out and under the weight of one's occupations always already ongoing. Seeing it as a pause for self-in-time-analysis, it takes shape, for me, only through sitting heavily with the data of the year at my disposal and my initial sketches of description. My bulging journal sits there unintelligible, unnavigable, widely intimidating in disperse content and perhaps some nonsense. I begin perusing, then linking, then like the closing of a closely-followed, enrapturing plot line, I suddenly get it. My journal becomes but variations on a theme. Year end / begin enacts a reclaiming of myself. Coming out as of recently, I feel uninterrupted, capable, actively uptaking my world in service of the missions I’ve declared worthy of my limited, and relatively impotent, energies. Galloping headlong into chosen avenues of activity I've seen in ghostly apparition of a possible and wanted 2010.
It may not work in this manner for some. I just describe and encourage because of the wonders of continuity and insight it has provided me.
By no means have I mastered temporality in this little year end / begin undertaking. This is not the secret law of attracting anything possible to my liking. As the ground from which all meaning can spring, time is our fundamental horizon, as Heidegger showed me in Being and Time. It is the interpretation of our being. At every year’s turning, I can mentally imagine and try to enact the ceasing of its relentless march, but it always exceeds my grasp, even in my in-home (and in-coffeehouse) retreats. In this way, our lives exceed our understandings we can have of ourselves. Still, I cannot stand the thought of becoming patchy and vague, so I try. Share please, whoever has found themselves here, the ways in which you see your temporal unfolding, how you make sense (or find yourself at a loss), what a new year means for you.

For those interested, I have posted some (that is, a tiny slice) of the products of year end / begin on the Happiness Project site
(if you can find me by my name given at birth). This is a corresponding blog and website of tools to a new book by Gretchen Rubin, her own temporal project of infusing a year with “the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy--from Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah. As one of the hundreds of happiness experiments I conducted during the research and writing of the book, I started this blog. Here, I recount my daily adventures in pursuit of happiness.”