"How very different is the nature of the necessary from the nature of the good."
He was never surprised to wake up and find that he was who he was. That was the constant thorn and anguish he went through every morning, his morning ablution as it were.
It was like seeing a newly painted wall but being unable to take one's eyes of a splotch underneath the paint which can't cover it completely, makeup not able to cover the beauty mark.
He had gotten used to the splotch that was himself by now though, could even see it as the beauty mark it was. It was becoming a simple (!?) curiosity. I mean, he was becoming a curiosity to himself rather than a constantly suporating wound, leaking through the bandages of everyday life (enough of a wound in itself it felt like sometimes).
He veered from seeing everything as a spectacular system of decay to seeing everything as just, well, spectacularly odd, especially all those parts of life that seemed to manage to cover up its oddity. But he could see it. At least he thought he could..and therefore he could. That's the way human reality works.
Everything veered from being some super game arcade, with rapid movements and explosions and rules you couldn't quite figure out in time to just a loose jumble of blocks and stuff that gathered over the course of a week in the pockets of his jeans and leather jacket.
Like, in his jeans a matchbook from Dottie's Bar and Grill. A small black heart shaped guitar pick; two torn ticket stubs from two recent movies he had gone to and written about; four pennies, a dime, two quarters and three nickels in one pocket, a crumpled up dollar bill in the other; a dry-cleaning stud with '/etc/passwd' scribbled on the back; two used kleenexes, wadded up. In his coat pockets a lipstick tube (sort of a dark brownish red) that he was safe keeping--still, weeks later...well, she hadn't asked for it back...); a small remote control for a video camera; a small bottle of ibuprofen with two caplets left; a small transparent candy wrapper for a peppermint lozenge sans candy and one with the red and white pinstriped candy intact. His inside coat pocket had two fountain pens clipped to it, a green one that wrote with thick black ink (a Watermark maybe--he couldn't make it out) and the other a modern Brancusian brushed stainless steel pen, heavy, with three slightly raised rubber rings around its midsection. It had to be fiddled with to get the ink flowing and then it wrote with a pale black ink (gray, he guessed it would be called) and felt a little scritchy like he imagined a fine quill pen would be. Both were gifts. And like all gifts they were simultaneously a pleasure and a burden. For example he was deathly afraid of losing them.
He felt like he could plan out his life into the future if he had the requisite objects to arrange and collate, perferably on his person, some ju ju poking a hole ahead of him into the future bringing back a little slightly coded message, the code being the very object itself.
Every little piece of pocket flotsam he would then be able to assign a time, space, bit of life history to, could recognize it as it came around to now-ness...is that how it would work, maybe? Like, "oh yeah, here is a match book cover from X where I will undoubtedly be, a book receipt from that book I will order," a post card from a yet-be-announced art event that he would no doubt attend. And the good thing about the pocket objects is that they seldom were of any overwhelming significance, no doctor's reports, dear john letters, letters of termination, and so on. just the debris of ordinariness as it passed in its ordinary way.
Anyway, something different from the way the things in his pocket now seemed to reside in him. All of a sudden it occurred to him: the stuff in his pockets now (that is the stuff from the past) and on his bureau drawer (that's where some of the pocket stuff would wind up) were like slumped glass (he didn't know exactly what it meant -- but there it was in his brain now, banged up metaphorically with this pocket stuff). And these future pocket objects, why they would be like blown glass. That's how he was thinking aobut it anyway, the blown glass like time sorta puffed, temporal rice krispies, ready to be filled and the slumped glass thick heavy hard done-with.
There was nothing in his pockets now to indicate the move into the future that he always thought the future would be like, no blown glass baubles pressing on his thigh with some future remembrance. He thought of a Quija board pointer in his pocket and giggled ... but to himself since he was probably in some public space when he thought that. O.K. so yeah he was a guy and said pointer often DID determine a guy's fortunes.
Heh, well, not ENTIRELY blown glass though.
I mean, here he was in the future--by one day--and it felt suspiciously like the past. Even the same things in his pocket had made it across that mythical border. But nothing from the border-event, the New Year's Eve itself.
In fact he had spent that midnight purposely in his studio reading, not about the future, but the past and specifically the past of mythology. All around explosions, like both warfare and primitive rites trying to ward off demons, both those from the past and those from the future.
So how did he feel? He felt like a lot of people he supposed and for all the obvious reasons; sad but content (ok, so that's a lie). Regretful, but--necessary. Good but---guilty. Like everybody who was like him (was everyone like him? was no one like him? The good pragmatists out there will try to split it down the middle), happy but sad (that much could be said unequivocally). Anxious and comatose, feelings of grandiosity mixed with the feelings of most abject failure. yeah, life as usual for lots of folks.
This hasn't been much about New Year's Eve has it? um perhaps not. Perhaps though it has been.
"They were united in a vision of life as something that gets wounded and then, as it writhes, wounds in its turn."
I went back and looked at the start of this thing last January. umm. I had originally intended for this to be an online NOTEBOOK, not personal journal, to give myself a little bit of an excuse.
It's all not very net worthy is it? too ponderous, wordy...
we want things light, fleet of foot, we want to be able to assimilate it at a glance, to eat it in our car as we move from stop light to stop light, then throw the wrapper out the car window.
At the very LEAST we want things to be translucent if not transparent and, just like with relationships now, if they're not, we'll move on. We need to be able to see (or THINK we see) everything.
We don't like things too hard and we don't like things hidden. It makes us suspicious. or it makes us bored.
I took my niece and nephew to the Carlos museum to see some artifacts, some history but it's very difficult for them to see it. Or rather they've seen it all before and in a way even better, in the quick-cut, montage, voice over of tv specials, pre-digested, no messy plaque buildup.
It's kinda funny but it seems to me that the more 'access' we get to 'history' the more it recedes from us in some way. And that there is some historical segment, and fairly close too, that is totally opague --- but yet where we can hear huge mysterious engines humming in the distance
I love writing the date now..feels like some sort of code.
I was going to write about my (again) odd weekend of half naked women covered in paint, two million (well, not that many but LOTS!) half naked gay mens dancing up a storm and desperately hunching each other to industrial techno at Fusion, and assordid (sic) other delicacies but I'm not in the mood..
Coming home last night in the rain at 3 in the morning, I actually had a smile on my face..nothing particularly to cause it...I mean i didn't engage in anything other than dancing that would cause one to feel good. couldn't get to sleep at all. after tossing and turning got up and put the tv on., like some kind of latterday campfire and finally dozed off around dawn, with odd sexual dreams upon waking (if you must know I dreamed I could suck my own penis--didn't really arouse me though, more clinical than anything--I woke up thinking I had actually done it in my sleep. Believe it or not, it's probably actually better I dream THAT than my obsessive sexual thoughts of L. ...so hey! life's good!
A somewhat tepidly restless day, overcast--don't think i went outside even once; fiddling with the new computer getting it set up.
But I always feel like I should be doing SOMETHING important all the time--but damifiknow what 'important' means anymore. I think sucking my own dick must be important.
I realized today, after reading, falling into a swoon as I am occasionally wont to do under certain circumstances, that I met someone in 1994 (six years ago! NO!! it's impossible!! there's no way it can have been that long, that long discarded, lying on the side of the road)-- and now here it is 2000 (the Glorious Future!!), feel like I'm wandering through time like in fog in a valley at twilight, shapes half glimpsed now, toe stumped on some discarded piece of fabric, shredded as I try to pick it up, coming apart into threads, falling between my fingers, hard to tell the difference between the dirt it is becoming from the dirt it is falling into and out of, yes, time like some diseased clump of weaving, knit one perl two knit one perl two....distances distances -- everything seems to be in the distance too much, hell, everything just seems to be distance....
I find myself writing to you even when I'm not sitting here in front of this screen; I'm writing to you in my head all the time.
I was in a bookstore tonight, restless, 'killing time' (I never seem to have a stick big enough), and...I realize that I'm writing my impressions to you: "I can't concentrate; this book that book; I'm realizing it's been years since I read a fiction book all the way through; why is that person looking at me?" I'm walking outside and I'm commenting to you about how warm it will be tomorrow, how I need to plant tulips, to prune roses (not that I will but that I NEED to--I need to do something different, I need to BE somebody different...I need i need i need blah blah bullshit...) but...
Much like god there is no 'you' there is just the you....but tell me the truth: do you think I've finally lost it??!! Do you even think I ever really HAD it??!
(ok, it's just one of those days--maybe it's that I sense some pressure coming up soon with the installation, the grant, the lecture series, the performance on the 22nd. or maybe not. maybe I just need an excuse to wig out..
A season(ing) of joy, a seizuring of joy, a seizing of joy, is what things should be about? Rather than a drunken boat to hell, some nocturnal journey to the underworld (well, nobody believes that anymore except as a metaphorical appendage to some goofy scifi series on TV.)
I can never get far enough away from myself, never get to some adamantine obsidian core, reflective of nothing but the depths on the OTHER side of the light cone...
but it comes soon enough doesn't it? It mimics death in a way doesn't it?
It's why we (some of us) so admire the dark and monsters and those things bumping there -- like vampires for instance. Like macro-viruses inhabiting simultaneous realms of living and dead, the vampiric impulse being the greatest 'acting out' there is, obscure impulses compelled to move from some interior, to make it for the border, yet...never being able to fully make it OVER the border, can't get no traction in the rain, slippin' and slidin' back and forth, dragging others back as well into that dark crystalline depth, like the tip of a funnel, opening opening up, connecting with all the other funnels, life at night, death at day, chiasmatic inversion, shedding skins at night, re-formatting by day---is that why everything is by turns either frightful or boring?
Time is moving so fast now that it makes this winter like a dainty fluttering, its fingers in some gaity, mocking the disapproval cast on its thin finery, this year's coolness: as if too absorbed in its own meditation to find the path to greater cold.
Occasionally (not necessarily now) 'happiness' seems like some kind of obscenity, some burrowing back into the world of flesh and human stench, like a larva, pale grub, frightened when it moves on the surface of the pulpating mass which is the massy ball of its brothers and sisters, rooted in the crock of the tree, afraid that it's moistness will dry out, dry it up into a cinder, it turns from the vast emptiness (yet full full of course--but a VAST fullness, a point where 'empty' and 'full' no longer HAVE meaning, or even switch meanings) and it crawls back into its writhing mass, sightless but feeling it's way in.
But, .... there is a time for it to moult and step forth off the edge, into the dark, into space, to float not fall...would that be happiness for the bug? or just another interminable stage of unhappiness? Is the grub completely dissolved as it becomes a dragonfly and forgets it's previous grubness? And, really, 'happiness' is not germane to either case....maybe they are equally happy or not.
"Those who see the angel of history in Benjamin's Ninth Thesis as a melancholic figure would therefore most likely be horrified to witness what would happen if the angel, instead of being driven forward by the winds of progress, paused to accomplish his work."
G. Agamben from "Benjamin and the Demonic" from Potentialities
Yes. I can see that yearning for destruction, as a necessity, running as a thread throughout his writing, a fateful collision perhaps with certain aspects of Marxism leading to the production of a great grinding wheel, or mortal and pestle---but not of the gods this time but of terrible flawed humans. and yes, how Germanic of him also. In some respects, the piece of paper (only) that can can be slid between Benjamin and Heidegger is oiled, translucent, dripping with a certain residue of the German soil.
But then, happiness: that's where we were (or not) before.
'Happiness' is the setting down of a burden, falling from one's back, it's the dropping of those damn scare quotes from around happiness so that it doesn't share the burden of irony--and yet it is also paradoxically a certain removal that those quotes signifiy, a distancing from the burden of having to continually massage the feet of happiness. A kind of destruction maybe, yes. It can be a destruction of the past (what Benjamin's angel was really aiming at) but I suppose it could be (and of necessity MUST be) a destruction in the present also, since the past can only be created in the present just as it can only be (attempted) to be destroyed in the present.
Happiness then would be a kind of blissful forgetfulness--but only in the way in which salt is forgotten by the water into which it has been absorbed nevertheless leaving a certain oceanic tang (Benjamin's messianism perhaps). This constant salty tag (or 'temporal index' as Benjamin puts it below) on the tongue is maybe that 'weak force' that Benjamin mentions that is always and inevitably inherited by each generation: "The past carries with it a temporal index by whichit is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement betweenpast generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed wtih a weak messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim."
The happiness of endings and beginnings: perhaps the slight, temporary spark which leaps between the head and the tail of the great worm Ouroboros, ever coiling back on its great historical self (yes, a Return if you wish and of a sort) the happiness of a certain kind of KNOWING which doesn't last long and gazes with a dual, but not ironic, vision.
...And to live in that gap, the nature of 'expectations' before they become burdens, isn't that the greatest of happinesses?
Everyone is sitting around now, happily awaiting the arrival of snow, looking out windows, leaving work, even with a certain gleeful anticipation of the destruction that it will cause, an interregnum in the dreary sameness of the always.
And then the spark completes its jump and we are sliding off of roadways, dealing with cabin fever, insurance agents and mud...
He felt sometimes as though he lived in some time-soup--but how to convey to a reader the phenomenogical 'stickiness' of how this soup felt, its sense of closeness and distance at the same time? His fascination with Walter Benjamin came not from any NECESSITY of having to read Benjamin but that he FELT these dismaying/dizzying currents of time/space flows that WB alluded to, these intermixtures of places and times in ways that pummeled him (he could hardly call it an 'understanding' even). He supposed there was some comfort that others also could detect these fogs of temporality.
Of course there was no 'solution' to it, to this vertiginous assault on, not one's senses really, but the way that one's sense of things hooked up to something more....VAST, shall we say, vast, cold and indifferent as H. G. Wells' description of the Martian's baleful gaze at the beginning of The War of Worlds goes--there was an ENDING, yes, for sure, the same hypothetical ending as everyone else (although that's something we can hardly think about most of the time; what is it Duchamp had engraved on his tombstone? D'ailleurs, c'est toujours les autres qui meurent.--'Besides, it's always the others who die.') .... and there, in that ending, subtends another 'world' (and not a nothingness, not even worthy of scarequoting or highlighting in any way, just pop, poof, gone). We try to give outselves various forms of comfort now about it, that our machines will be able to carry us across some sort of threshold.
But he thought that everything seemed to be fused together now in some way, just big globs of everything , with everything stuck in shapeless floating masses. Where did 'work' and 'play' begin and end now? With physical labor, there is an end of work periodically, if for no other reason than the human body can only be switched on for so long before it loses efficiency and begins to shut itself down. But now (and it's been going on a pretty long time, he didn't deny that--but wasn't that part of the PROBLEM of perception of the problem?) When he would talk to people about this, they would assure him that, oh no, things have been this way a long time for us humans...what they mean is the generation or two of flesh and psyche before us, let's say 2-300 years -- how pitiful he thought, that perception of time was so measly and stingy