me hut journal february 2003  

feb 8 2003
I just wrote a long email and thought i had sent it but it seems to have completely disappeared into the ether w/o reaching it’s destination or leaving any trace of its former presence in my machine. I envision a whole infosphere of failed messagings, not circling the earth since apparently it didn’t make it out of the machine, but somehow lost in some limbo zone between potentiality and actuality, stuck still in the particularity of the one who was trying to release it, not even like some caged bird with an errant pin feather or two blowing listllessly around the cage floor. A new category of lost information perhaps, but burned up upon their complete into brief form, much like the angels continually forming, around the throne of god, coming into existence, blinking out, the net result being...what? Precisely nothing in any ‘real’ sense of reality. And yet something did happen, some energy was expended, pathways formed, a form fully fleshed out, only to vanish, more elusive even than some hypothetical particle in physics where the mathematical parameters and ‘shape’ of it have been elucidated and modeled. But in this case not even that.

Such has happened before and I’ve tried to reproduce the message, but most of the time it seems a terrible chore, not a re-doing of a manuscript, nor editing of an extant one, but trying to catch some brief whiff of something that only existed in a very tiny space, psychologically speaking, in the first place.

feb 10
All these overwrought terrorist alarms are falling on deaf ears I think. The truth of the matter is that twenty first century life generally is lived as a muted state of emergency ... it’s just that Americans are spared most of the extreme consequences of such a state since it is passed on to most of the rest of the world. But any state of emergency is not stable....can move both downward and upward.

feb 11
Occasionally I read some journals from the LiveJournals site. They are by young, wistful, to one degree or another, beautiful women. I don’t know why I read them really. It’s not like I sit around pining, moonfaced, after this stuff... but there is something that sucks a part of me out and makes me unhappy in a distanced, nuanced kind of way. (But then it’s true that most everything seems to be in a distanced, nuanced kind of way for me.) There is something enchanting about them but also something distressing. They are small glimpses of a person’s life along the length of a day, like nibbles, flirts, and talk at a cocktail party really. Of course, they are not meant to be very filling or substantial in either case. But then what are they, what DO they do? I suppose it’s the inveterate need to communicate thereby proving the thought that MORE communication leads to LESS being communicated in some sense...or maybe just that communication is a form of stroking most of the time but it doesn’t become visible as that because we are too close to it. On the net, it’s written but it’s immediate like spoken almost.

Feb 14.
For some reason I started thinking about a book I read as a kid, the Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. In fact, I just checked on Amazon and it was written in 1952 and re-issued in 1988. On Amazon there were 54 reviews, most of them from 9 year old boys apparently.

I was in a summer reading program I think at the library in Philadelphia, Mississippi. I can even remember the little connecting corridor between the two rooms of the small library tucked right inside one of the two entrances of the old courthouse on the square. (Oddly enough I can also remember where Das Capital was -- to the immediate left of the door of the library as you come in. Why I remember this or whether even it is a memory of a true event I have no idea, although I can even remember taking the book down from the shelf.) I must have been nine or ten at the time. That may in fact have been the first science fiction book I ever read, the start of what must have been thousands in my reading career. (I also remember vividly reading the first of Asimov’s Foundation series at some point after that. I doubt that I was anywhere near that young but I do remember it in conjunction with Phil. Ms. for some reason. Another book which I actually found in a used bookstore, an old book club version, was ‘Waystation’ by Clifford D. Simak. For some reason, that had a similar impact on me but much later on.)

I started thinking about the Mushroom Planet book after I read in the NYTimes of a documentary made about a book called ‘The Stones of Summer,’ evidently the only book that the author had written but apparently a book that made a lasting impression of the filmmaker, who is also procuring all available copies of the book for some reason. Perhaps it’s to make the book get re-issued when the documentary comes out. or perhaps it’s something else.

I’ve always felt alone in my various pursuits. When I see a book in the store but can’t purchase it, I keep my eye on it. If it disappears, I’m flabbergasted that someone ELSE has bought the thing. How can there possibly be someone who would want THAT book, a book that answers my current needs so perfectly and that by any standards, all of the browsers in the store would find hopelessly esoteric! Yes, a terribly solipsistic view of things, and probably narcissisitic to boot. But a book one has cherished since childhood has different ‘historical’ tensions.

One way to resolve those tensions is to find all available copies of a book that one cherishes. The almost mystical devotion is understandable to me. It’s to take it away from the heathens, to make it literally one’s own, to maintain it in a memory palace where it is immune from the abrasions of ordinary life, to keep it from the depredations of adult life.

I found the Mushroom Planet, new and in paperback, at Borders’ but couldn’t bring myself to buy it for some reason; the opposite of the impulse to buy every copy, but basically the same motivation.

And then, also, it’s very strange to find that one’s special experience with an object of one’s love has been reproduced in hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. It’s both comforting and discomfiting, in varying measures depending on one’s mood. Certainly one way to change that equation is to incorporate the object so fully that it disappears from the public, except through one’s own presentation of the object. Another way is to kill it off completely. This is the thesis that some theorist wrote (Zizek?) about the love/hate that the Islamic world had for the American West was so extreme that it could only work out the way that it has.

feb 28. thursday
I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon swimming in ideas, and reviews of Hegel’s work, short condensed pieces from the net. I feel like a gambler with a fist full of flash paper as the cops are breaking in and the odd sized pieces of paper go up rapidly in flames, leaving you with burnt numb fingers, a lot of smoke, and under arrest (I just then typed ‘address’ and for the life of me couldn’t think of ‘arrest’ -- perhaps they are somewhat interchangeable .. )

At any rate, it seems clear to me (or as clear as it gets when one’s house is continually burning down ) that the world of ideas can -- very loosely -- be divided into those that approach some sort of ture Other, or numinous, or Outside that humans are, or can be, connected to and the point of view --Spinoza comes to mind but there is a cryptic element there -- which asserts that line of sight, so to speak, constitutes it all, and the most efficacious applications of the world come through models of mechinicity. Another way to put it is the general and the singular, or maybe the metaphysical and the scientific, the old c.p. snow thing of two cultures. And of course there are various degress of opacity and transparencies, or hierachies vs planar assemblages, infinities versus immanencies. And then there is experience which, other than through scribbled marks of screen or paper and various works that manifest themselves (and which some might see as variants of that scribbling), seems to have to do only with itself but yet when we read other scribblings from people and times dead and past, is not quite true -- or rather, is more or less true. But away from the paraphernalia of language and marks, after they turn to ash and cinder, there is nothing but this infernal hum of Now...why have other times ever thought there was something else. why entertain any other fanstastic hypothesis than that there is not anything other than now and that is it. The answer must be that Now is a fantastic (and even in some way, numinous) event in and of itself.

We are much more open to the possibilites of the fantastic when we are young. We get older and nothing, not even life itself, seems very fantastic anymore. What on earth would happen if we could live to be 300 years? Maybe like, i felt earlier, in reading, the heat seemed to rise, and i had to flee outside and just walk mindlessly and aimlessly. Perhaps there would be a true acephalic society developed. It would no doubt be indistinguishable from a thoroughly, from ontology to epistomology, mechanical civilization. perhaps epistemology would finally trump ontology. or maybe -- surprise! -- the other way round. and yes there is a circularity involved, much like the dialectic itself. perhaps its the case that many people hope that the machine ( a trope for extreme pragmatic generality, or complete saturation of the epistemolgical field, or even evacuation, or extreme collapse and catastrophe).

And it may be also that neither idealist nor materialist hold positions whcih can be fully accounted for. Which leaves plenty of slippage for terror, emergency, and the many happy returns of traumaand and which assures the workings of the past for many millennia to come, a situaltion which can only be exacerbated by both the idea and the thing.



robert cheatham