Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Windows of the Skull

"...who were expelled from the academies for publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull..."

-Allen Ginsberg, "Howl"

Let's go out and get trashed! Forget all the is-es and oughts they bombard us with, tossing their papers at us, cutting our arms and wrists against out wills, throwing us against brick walls and plastering us there with spotlights. We'll reach us a great plateau: skin slack and nerves firing into the skull in little bursts that look like bouquets against the retinas. And we'll twitch our arms and legs in the early phases of an endlessly approaching ograsm. We will pet some inexplicable dogs coming out of some back-alley abyss. We will feel the back of our legs go slack and the wave of slackness spread upward and forward. It will bring an end to the orgasm, but that won't matter anymore. All that will matter will be the feeling of relaxedness, of a self-adjusted not-you and not-me within you and me, little creatures swathed in quilts and blankets and pillows, in softness and lushness until the end of the night. We won't even have time to take the needle out of the arm; we'll just lay there as this reverse-phallus undulates with soft breathing and the TV flickers somwehere from the next room. What a strange simultaneous up and down! We're not even trashed anymore; we've crossed a theshold where we may have to re-furnish our homes at such a radical lifestyle shift. Strange, though, the mess won't bother me anymore. We're so deep. You see the etchings of all the geological eras of the world on my ceiling and I see the spiderwebs standing in for the vast sweep of the evolution of the biotic world. We'll talk about that later when we're coming down (or back up, however you choose to parse the nomenclature). And then we'll logically move to the substantiall less grand sweep of the subset of human economies and religions and mythologies and folk sayings and musical forms and martial arts and foods and dwellings and family structures and technologies such as the cotton gin and looms and supercomputers and abacii and oxen. And then I'll notice the needle sticking out of my left arm and I'll suggest another hit and you'll gladly assent, your face lighting up with involuntary limbic-mediated reflexes for the first time since the last hit. But it'll be too much and we'll end up on the floor in an emerg hallway somewhere on Hospital Row. I'll be 23 and you'll be 21.

A sad hypothetical.

Consider: "There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the worship of traders; while there are some who worship Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, this is the worship of slaves; a few who obey Him out of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is the worship of free and noble men."

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I've been feeling on the cusp of some sort of conceptual waterfall, or at least a moment of clarity that would illuminate my place in the world. It all came together when I picked up a book of ancient myths and began to think about them. Some gears turned and some transistors must have clicked in my head, because I had produced a functional definition of art--the broad sense of art. (Not that my definition is not up for debate.)

"Art's purpose is to further human freedom. It does this by creating new myths, and creating them faster than they can harden."

And, of course, I have to explain just what all that means.

Myths are obvious: they are attempts to explain the world. But they are not the same as actual attempts to explain the world in terms of falisifable and specific theories that have nothing to do with humanity. Myths are all about how humans see the world. Myths refuse to consider the (now) undeniable truth that nature (the universe, the Way Things Are, whatever) is indifferent to us in the here and now. Myth is an exercise of the imagination: a projection of the meaning that comes out of our sufferings and joys onto things that do not, in actuality, map onto such silly anthropomorphic ideas. By suffusing the universe with meaning in our terms, myths create comfort. For those who don't believe them, they create something much more vague: something we would describe as "sublime". That is the feeling I got as I read about Sumerian creation myths, how Enlil traced the rivers out with his fingers and sent the spring thaws to the rivers, wishing his creation plenty and prosperity. So myths are poems. That is how I view the. They are something to tell around gatherings; they are entertaining. They are cognitive frameworks for dividing up the world. (And much more honest than the monotheism which superseded most of them.)

What is the "hardening" of myths? That is when myths start to be taken too seriously. It happens in the generations after the original artists have died and we see parasites latch onto the myths: we see temples where there were gatherings, we see scriptures where there were oral cultures, we see mysticism where there was laughter, we see rites where there was joy, we see hierarchy where there was universal elevation. I need not get into my bile-filled disdain for most organized religions.

So, what do we do? Faced with the uncertainty of what comes after, faced with an eternal lack of knowledge, we turn to myths even today. Most of our lives are spent in imagination. And imagination needs to be unfettered. And unfettered imagination unfetters other inaginations. Perhaps in the end, we'll be able to see that God was made up by a bard and that superstition came from children's games. And perhaps every person will have their own imaginary pantheon they will look up to, not bow down to some old man. The ridiculously rapid pace of change in our society has unrooted most rooted myths (they fight back); this damages people, but it also opens doors to individualistic theology. Artists understand this implicitly, I would wager. So let us create new urban myths! Let us be as Zarathustra was, but not followers of his parables. We must make our own parables. What siginficance do ravens or wheat or groundhogs have to the moderd urban dweller? We need a mythology of streetcars and hospitals. We need to re-imagine most ouf our dreariness.

How? It's a matter of heuristics. This guy has his method. Others have theirs. I can't draw, but I try to rotate my perspective every once in a while.

Summary: the universe does not care. Don't live as if it does. Live with the knowledge that you make your head think it cares.

Consider: "Contingency. Just think on it for a while: nothing that happened to you or your causal and ancestral lineage stretching back to God-knows-what was neccessary."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Conceptual Accordion

The last course-related spew helped me out so much I've decided to do another one. (And for some reason I'm enjoying the counterpoint between very verbose academic ideas and my limited attempt to couch it in as informal terms as possible.) Here's cognitive science in a nutshell if it were the conversation between two gino-ghetto-fabulous "dudes" (A. and B.) just chillin':

A: I'm not following you, guy. How do we begin to approach how the mind works?
B: Oh, it's real simple. We gotta break complex cognition down to its components and then formalize it somehow and feed it to a computer.
A: That's awesome. Totally awesome. How far have we got?
B: There's the problem. It's hard to get below complex cognition. It's like we tried a bunch of approaches, and we keep running in circles. Like, when we tried to start from categorization and work from there we kept running into all these philosophical quandaries, guy.
A: Wait a second: couldn't it be possible that we're, like, epistemically bound, that we can't explain our own minds? Like when I'm macking a chick, right, and I like her, but I can't explain that to her. It just comes out as the same bulllshit gibberish all the time.
B: That's totally a reasonable skeptical doubt, guy. but we gotta do something, right? We can't just sit around and wring our hads all the fuckin' time, right?
A: Right.
B: So we gotta start somewhere, and all these smart psychologists were saying "how about categorization?". 'cause it's easy to do and it totally codes our regular experience, reduces cognitive load, allows inferences and shit.
A: O! How could it be any other way, Socrates! (I mean: "yeah".)
B: But you can already see a problem, right.
A: No, not really.
B: Yo man, taking an uncritical attitude toward explanatory concepts is so gay.
A: You're gay!
B: Your mom's gay!
A: Well played, pilgrim.
B: STFU, n00b


B: So anyway, now that you've calmed down, I'll tell you what the problem is.
A: (Aside, to humself) Fuck you.
B: How do we determine what belongs in a category? Some people say we classify on the basis of similarity. But there's a problem here. A hidden assumption, if you will. We assume that similarity is just out there in the world independent of how we think about it.
A: I don't get it.
B: It's simple. Let me break it down for you: any two things are infintely similar and infinitely dissimilar if we pick the right features.
A: I don't get it.
B: Here's an example: a plum and a lawnmower both weigh less that five tons; both are made of atoms; both are not composed of predominantly helium, neither would make an effective weapon, etc.
A: But those aren't relevant to plums or lawnmowers.
B: Exactly! So how do we choose what relevant features are to make things similar or dissimilar.
A: We just do, guy.
B: You've just hit on one of the really annoying problems of Cog. Sci. Just because something is obvious doesn't explain shit. It just means our theories need to account for that in non-cognitive terms, which is a fucking pain in the ass.
A: Your has a pain in her ass from last night.



Consider: "If you beat someone with a bag filled with soap, it won't leave a bruise."

Friday, October 21, 2005


Another letter to no-one:

It's strange: my acknowlegement without reservation of how I craved you led me down a path toward glimpsing the Voidness which animates. It slipped from me because I started theorizing about it. But the feeling remains: a kind of gnosis. The reason I say it's strange is because I still haven't got the courage to talk to you, even though such courage seems trivial compared to what I just had to summon. Voidness is not a place you tour with camera and bermuda shorts to come back and tell all to your friends. No, the void is a living, breathing repudiation of every kind of craving: it trumps our desires--even our most noble ones: to change the world, to live and love, to have security, to at least have luck every once in a while--it doesn't just trump the desire everyone is prepared to get rid of: the desires of the flesh that get swatted away with a few rounds of "OM, OM. shanti, shanti", wth a few rounds of liberal multiculturalism. It' not robes and it's not shaven heads: it's not even mindfulnes. It's void: it's empty, without substance. The world is but a grain of dust held in Sakyamuni's palm--and he holds not! The high point of Beethoven' rapture is voidness. His frustrations were void. What do I say. He is the here and now. And in putting this into words, I've realized that I was confused. It has not come to me in any clear way, but my analytical mind sees an "in". It's what every great artist of any culture was getting at: Dostoyevsky had it in hand, but he let Orthodox Christianity choke it out (coincidentally: the same faith I was "born" into); Ginsberg had it; Mr. Charles Darwin had it. That is to say, they all had parts of it. And monks had it too. And swamis. And Berber poets (their language is, apparently, the most beautifully poetic language of all, unspoiled by academia and literacy). Even the occassional investment banker. Even I might have it--but I don't yet have It. How many mental patients are actually hidden Bodhisattvas, peniless Dharma bums that they are? Most importantly: are you?

Consider: "(S)he who laughs last, thinks slowest."

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I've been stuck for days madly poring over readings and madly drawing schematic diagrams of arguments and counter-arguments. I've reached that point where I can't add any more information (in perfect accordance with the 80-20 rule) by traditional means so I must resort to something else if there is to be any greater understanding. So, without further requireed preamble filler, I present the philosophy of science as one long run-on inaccessible tongue-in-cheek sentence:

"So there's these dudes, right: the logical positivists, and they were all like "human thought goes through stages: religious, metaphysical and scientific" and they laid out all these hardcore logical and empirical rules for how science should go; they were all like "yo, bitch: if you can't observe this shit directly, it ain't shit" and all these philosophers were like "mo'fuck you: we're gonna write detailed critiques of your philosophical project" and all the logical positivists were like Austrian and shit and a lot of them were Jews, and Hitler came and bitchslapped them but they all ran off to the London School of Economics or some shit like that; and David Hume, this madcore guy from the 18th century comes up and he's like "there's a problem with your method: your indiction is not strong" and they were all like "oh, shit!" and all these dudes are like, "we've got answers for you, Hume: 1) induction can co-opt other methods of inference so it's at least as good as any other method (except deduction), 2) your concept of truth is not strong: you think it's justified true belief but it's actually reliably generated true belief" but then someone pointed out that that just raised the question of how we know some method is reliable and they were all like "fuck! We didn't think of that!" and they all suicided themselves by throwing themselves into the infinite regress and then someone else came up and was all like "you're missing the point: induction as a process is what is meant by rationality in scientific cases but we're just talking semantics" and they all growl at each other and this dude Strawson stands up and goes all apeshit and he's spewing out all these arguments, even though only two of them are any good and he's all like "that induction has worked is contingent on the state of the world but that applying induction is rational is a matter of semantics: all our confusion comes from conflating these two worries" but somehow the problem stil llurked around and around comes this guy Popper: mo'fuckin Karl Popper, evil egomaniacal genius who sat around and threatened to emasculate Wittgenstein with a fire-poker, and he was all like "come away from induction, for that is not the way. Science proceeds by conjectures and refutations." and then he's all like "I've solved the problem of induction!" and he blinks but then this other dead French dude Duhem is all like "you can't test conjectures in isolation" and Quine comes along half a century later and bitchslaps that point home and adds his name to it and everyone's lifting their hands in the air and shouting "underdetermination, underdeterimation!" and real scientists are sitting around going "fuck all y'all: we'll just go on making our iPods and Sealy Posturepedics" and some fucker's like "by the way, all your observations are theory-laden" and he shows the scietists this Necker Cube and a Duck-Rabbit and they beat him half-unconscious, smash the Necker Cube and eat the Duck-Rabbit (but the Bird-Antelope manages to fly-run away-up) and then Lipton was all like "to explain why P rather than ~Q we must find and event in the causal history of P that has no corresponding event (or non-event) in the causal history of ~Q" and people were like "'s cool" and he was like "at least this shot's not controversial"... and we haven't even gotten to Kuhn yet, and the po-mos, and the SSK pricks...

Consider: "The potato regrets being pulled from the ground, but how it dances on the grater!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Urban Soup (Part I)

I'm starting a new series. It's based on the incessant activity of urban areas. Activity so often remarked on it's become cliched and ridiculous. But I'll do it anyway, since some fields are never exhausted for content, though the do become tiresome. for this one I'll actually go out and collect notes. Except maybe for this post.

I'd just like to remark on the urban buzz: the buzz that wakes you up in the middle of the night, the buzz that won't let you sleep for at least two hours after you've closed your eyes, the buzz generated by the spazzed-out maniac crossing the street against four lanes of arterial traffic and streetcars that should have cow-catchers out front, the buzz that blotted out the sky, the buzz on bass beats through the walls and manhole covers clanging, but also the buzz of scarves whooshing in the wind and determined bike couriers staring holes into the potholes, the buzz of leaf-spirals caught in the wind and the buzz of birds with slightly demented guidance systems coming in for crash-landings, the buzz of the blinking lights of the supercomputers of the future, the buzz of the footsteps of bejeweled bureaucrats and city councillors and haggard students and frustrated skateboarders and the unhappily pierced, the buzz of the herds partying on the gigantic hulks of sideways trees in backyards that should be mine...

At first it is a buzz, and then it builds into a boil. (Obviously, since I have to fit all this into a soup metaphor. Incidentally: does soup buzz before it boils? I know it makes a "whooshing"-like sound, but I'm not sure. Words fail me.)

This urban buzz is the most invigorating thing I know. Whether that means I'm grossly anaemic with respect to experience, I leave to the reader to judge. All I know is the streets are my therapists and motivational speakers. Even the sketchy ones. (Who am I kidding? Especially the sketchy ones.)

Consider: "First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first one is hard and meagerly paid; the second is easy and well-paid."

Sunday, October 16, 2005


For every post made here a few more are stillborn. A few other pages get filled with words somewhere else in documents that dwarf this one: textual romps so roaming yet so cloistered that I'm finally manging to approach the true meaning of the statement that the causal histories of the world are "long and wide". Length not fathomable in our terms and width that would skull-fuck the unprepared mind. So in absence of total knowledge we make ourselves familar, anthropocentric fictions. They may be harsh and disturbing, they may even be instructive; they may even look outwards at the cosmos or whatever, but they are still familar and intuitive. You'll find no irredeemable weirdness even in the dust heaps of the absurdest of absurdist movements: for example, Dali's paranoiac-critical method is still so familiar. Paranoia was someone's reality; we can assume it was Dali's reality. And you do not question the creator's reality.

Most of our lives are spent in fictions, in ground-shattering internal monologues, in wranglings over categories and what is readily perceptible, in sputterings from analysis to the "given" to re-analysis to the "not-given", to the "will-never-be-given". Or is this just my reality? Nevertheless, it is an understandable reality: just one of some dude who is a little too withdrawn, a little too little-sense-making for his own good, a little too fond of awkward, loping turns of phrase when something succinct would do just as well. I'm like this all the time, and I sometimes try to find antecedent causes to my being "like this". But causal histories are long and wide. Here is a representative sample of my own causal history that settles nothing:

1) I was fascinated by insects' internal organs.

2) I was the youngest kid in the second grade.

3) I once broke an egg in a bird's nest and cried under the tree.

4) I once saw a kitten in a drum of oil.

5) In the second grade I was too shy to ask to go to the bathroom and once I lost it.

6) I saw my parents' ski hills covered in smoke and artillery craters.

7) In the first grade I wanted a pencil sharpener shaped like a cow.

8) First love was to me an alternating series of anxiety attacks and exuberant episodes.

9) I likened my first experience of lust to thirst.

(I've taken a long turn into very public self-therapy. I'm not sorry.)

Consider: "He who despises himself still esteems himself as one who despises."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Should I just blitz the readership with my views on contemporary issues? Or should I butter them up a bit by namedropping a few bands, expressing opinions on them (mostly having to do with their status as sellouts or the antithesis thereof), and then launching into the politics? I could do an impromptu sweet-talking; I 've had to culitvate the habit of that, and I am somewhat out of practice. The three richest bureaucrats in Washington would appreciate such lengthy but duplicitous bullshit. For that matter, can I discuss that philosopher who wrote the book ("On Bullshit"), or have I done that already? I must admit: the will to blitz has been somewhat lacking lately. Maybe it's anemia (or anaemia--whatever); maybe it's my new squinty-eyed shuffle, alternately avoiding human eyes and seeking them out too quickly; maybe ever since I stopped eating meat the carnivorous part of me is slowly sinking away, unpeeling and reverting to my plesiomorphic Will to Nothing. (Interestingly, my view of religion has become more mixed of late, owing to my experiences with the Christan Left. Here are people whose values I share more thoroughly, who I have more in common with than the individualist, libertarian American asshole militant atheist.) But I can't rest on my laurels, because I have none. I have some second-place trophies and "Good Job!" ribbons somewhere, and that will not do. I need to recover my six-hour exegeses over sake or over the soft glow of cigarette tips. There are love songs and dancings songs whose anthemic chord pregressions have not been written yet, though they are few. There are still cantinas to peruse and blocks to wander down, and there will never be a shortage of faces and skulls to work my neo-phrenological magic on. There are still religions to found and pandemics to recreate, and I still have not looked God in the eye and dissolved Her pillar of salt.

Consider: "And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Life Not Lived

I've imagined walking into many, many rooms: up stairs and down stairs, into clean furnishings and into piles of messes, into nervous wrecks and into smoke-filled basements, into moral reckonings on balustrades and inconsequential time kills, into missions of mercy for the elderly and into fiery political cataclysms (memorialized by artists painting for posterity), into plushness of bean-bag chairs and into the controleld tenderness of rare wood exuding rare soporific scents, into open windowed spaces overlooking vistas of conifers and cacti and barenness, overlooking jagged peaks and tree lines and lakes, overlooking bustling pedestrian crossings and fallow transit corridors, overlooking mazes of streetcar wires and barometric lights of the peaks of modern cosmopolises, overlooking the darkness of a perfect country evening punctuated only by swarms of fireflies tracing their arabesques against the walls of the barn; by the same token I've imagined many basements: many windowless rooms rotting in their own heavy gases and smoky dreams: the opiated gathering-places where men sleep on wooden benches four high along the walls, the nightclubs hewn out of meat packing plants with their infectious hooks still jingling to the driving dance beat, the melting faces of old men in a brown joint with a bar in the corner telling each other sordid tales, rude full-scale jokes or whispers of revolution, windowless rooms where teens fornicate on Japanese-style bed cushions, windowless rooms bearing the full causal story of all the alcohol and opium snuffed there, cold basements furnishing the shivering masses with the need to find anyone with a warm body, any voluptuary, any odalisque, basements with tree-like runs in the plaster or star-like rips in the wallpaper, basements with candles laid out and the shadows vying with each other for dominance of walls, basements where goats are sacrificed, basements where human eye sockets fall into the "eternal shadow", basements where faces flit like imps against the backdrop of haze: grey haze or bluish haze, basements lit up with monochromatic lights playing their games with our rods and cones, basements cordoned off by the police after a prticularly smoky night; I've imagined walking up stairs: stairs covered with half-torn posters proclaiming bands and ideologies and revolutionary new treatments, feeling elated and tired and anxious all at different times, stumbling sometimes against the creaking paltforms, boxing my ears sometimes to stop the buzzing in my eardrums courtesy of the bass through the terrorized wall, wailing for company to stop because the strobe lights are playing havoc with my mind, stopping and shuddering or falling making creaks the entire time until the see-through door comes into vision; alternately: stumbling drunk from the same stairs, feeling the repulsion of air filled too much with spittle and smoke and ashes of every sacramantal urn that was dropped in the hallway above, feeling the need for the cold November street, running from the pounding under the stairs and the complaints above them, running from the posters extolling the virtues of bands like "Tit Fuck me Jesus", or causes. So it went, that a life imagined and landscapes explored in my head forced me into a life of sedentary listening, intent ears perked up at every mention of fodder for my combining faculties, making sure to pick up as much as I can and bear it into short stories, into epigrams, into aphorisms, into novellas and future novels, into weblogs, into forum posts, into advice for adolescents and advice for those exaclty like me, advice for the opinionated who would not listen but managed to consistently exact their poud of flesh.

(It's Nietzsche sweeps week, quote-wise.)

Consider: "All names of good and evil are parables: they do not define, they merely hint. A fool is he who wants knowledge of them!"

Friday, October 07, 2005

Close Reading

"Companions, the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers Fellow creators, the creator seeks--those who write new values on new tablets. Companions, the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters, for everything about him is ripe for the harvest." (This is the value set for framing this post.)

I can't remeber if I've used this quote before. I can't remember because every once in a while it comes back to me when I reflect on my own situation in life. I think it manages to tie together many, many concepts and ends up justifying the way I live, for all the frustrations and annoyances that entails. So all the repeated episodes meld together, and there is no way of keeping trakc just on which blocks I muttered about the creator and on which posts I said the exact same thing. But that's life: cycles of custom and habit.

Nietzsche is probably the last person anyone should go to for advice on the love life. As much as his writing is insightful and inspiring, when it comes to writing about women, his observations are those of a wounded puppy at best and juvenile at worst. It probably comes from being hurt time and again, from having his companinate ambitions shattered.

Seeking companions rather than property has destabilizing effects on relationships. That has always been my problem. Anyone associated with me in that way has been free to come and go, as I have been free to come and go. I've never gone for slogging through the formalities, which are just socially sanctioned ownership dances. I don't want dependency (herds and believers), or someone who is a piece of property or a symbol of status or triumph (corpses). The upshot of all this is: I'll probably never actually meet someone who shares my values, because were we to meet, we'd never get some form of relationship off the ground, weighted by libertaranism and rationality. (Unless there was copious alcohol involved, but that's a different situation.) And yet, the limbic system does not work on these values of freedom and companionship: it views the object of affection (or lust, or companionship) as a piece of property, and once that "property" is lost, ancient evolutionary mate-retention mechanisms kick in and you find yourself outside their houses at night shouting cliches and slogans for all the neighbours to hear as she throws your clothes out the window (I've never done this; in fact, I'm pretty sure I cobbled this toghether from some movies or books). God, how I hate built-in reactions! I want to write new values on new tablets: more human values, more free values. Come to me and leave me for something better if that was your particualr charater arc; come and share of my feasts as I will hare yours. Come and create, for your creation will only build into mine. Come and feel your power, for I am no partiarch; I am no tyrant. But as I give not, I shall receive not: I will share your burdens but will not take them; I will know you, but you will know yourself better; our storeis are merely an echo of the eternal form of personal meaning reverberating in our skulls, and I know this. Such are the problems of extreme individualsm.

How do I get it started? Being a brooding guy in the corner didn't work. I've since stopped brooding in social situations, but I'm sill in the corner. I will not be passive, but neither will I be active. I do not "conquer"; I do not consider "conquest" an adjunct to happiness. No happiness companions give, no creation they offer me, will be as robust as the creation for me in my head. But that head space needs links for equilibration, so that it may function among the herds and believers.

Who, that turned into a lovesick rant way too readily. Well, so it goes sometimes.

Consider: "Many die too late, and a few die too early. The doctrine still sounds strange: "Die at the right time!"."

Monday, October 03, 2005


If you haven't noticed, the world has been awash in fanaticism lately, and there seems to be no sign of it letting up. But before we can critique fanaticism (not that they would listen), we must do what fanatics do not do and take a long and thorough look at ourselves. That is, i'm going to take an honest look at myself, come what may.

A friend of mine mentioned, long ago, that people like us are the most susceptible to cults and far-out political craziness. He never bothered to put that into perspective, but echoes of that off-the-cuff comment have stayed with me to this day. And I ask myself what within me is a lever to fanaticism. I have found several trouble spots.

I try to think of the long term. This inclines me to ignore the present and think of the ends of some doctrine, whatever it may be. I am stubborn, meaning that I'd be willing to endure privation and short-term setbacks in pursuit of the greater goal. I am not conviced that lide as is isn't unprofitable and that the balance of happines does not tilt away from me. I am sexually frustrated, which kindles every imaginable fire of acquisition: I have not yet reached the point of substituting material goods for human interaction, but I can only endure so much. A closely related point is creativity. When I feel my ability to creatively impinge on the world threatened (which happens regular as clockwork: I get cycles of inspiration and writer's block every week, if not every day) I would like nothing more than to belong, to be free of the frightful responsibility for my own actions. (The sexually satisfied and creative human being is practically immune to cults and mass movements that promise everything and deliver nothing. Think about it: would you be unfurling a banner if the banner shining in your head were way cooler, or if you had already gotten that idealist-chic sexual partner you joined the movement for in the first place?) When the factors all come together and I can't deal with them, I take solace in thoughts of the blackest evils loosed upon the world by my hand: stem cell monstrosities stalking the streets, cancers metastasizing their way through sewers and crawling up outtake pipes, rows and rows of identical desks in the windowless rooms of the idea factories of the future, sludge on the oceans from the bio-engineered algal blooms which are our only remaining source of nutrition and oxygen. Do those seem like very non-misanthropic ideas?

Having said that, that rational part of me that still has executive control recoils at these tendencies. I am still firmly in control. I'm willing to bear the burden of freedom even if it crushes my face to a fine pulp against the floor. Even if my self-fulfilling prophecy casts me by the wayside and shits on my back. I'm still young, still liberal, and still in love with humanity. I will be that way as long as there is energy in this thinking part of me. And who knows how ling that will last?

Consider: "We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

12 Uncalled-for Aphorisms

I. Philosophy is the path between two gods: the discarded patriarchial lout on the one end, and the encouraging and somewhat comforting construct of ultimate metaphysical vagueness on the other.

II. Even though I can't stop my endocrine system from pumping hormones into my bloodstream, I can swing out my hand and disperse a flock of sparrows foraging on the lawn.

III. Our goal has always been to endure and to build systems that point to enduring above when we actually endure beyond.

IV. The greatest proofs are proofs by disanalogy. We may die the death of a thousand counterexamples but we still feel like we could salvage the meat of it.

V, Of course vegetarianism is about feeling moral superiority!

VI. "Aphorism" is synonymous with "apophthegm". I assure you I did not make a typo.

VII. If you ever need demonstration of the inadequacy of consciousness as a driving force in human life, take a good look at a bad actor. When every muscle in the face is consciously being told what the "look" of a given emotion is, when the voice is overmodulated by didactic neocortical input, when all these things happen: behold the silly little puppet strung inadequately!

VIII. Nature does not care. It endures, but without enduring beyond.

IX. Unprincipled distinctions make you look both learned and wise.

X. The skeptical challenge can salvage any counterargument.

XI. A socialist newspaper is a wonderful piece of unintentional humour.

XII. The human mind reacts against bureaucracy. It reacts, but it endures. I think this is very telling.

On Yet Another Shirt: "There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't."