The virtuoso never knows his shape, Still on the horizon he elongates his cuts, And still angelic and still plenteous, Imposes powers by the power of his form. 'A primitive like an Orb' Wallace Stephens
It's become brutally apparent to me how alienated I am -- which basically just means more isolation/moodiness. I fit in only nominally with younger people and seemingly not at all with those of my own age. Now that doesn't mean I don't associate or that I'm a loner. In fact the opposite. But the FEEL of life is one of..apartness, making connections only up to a point and no further. And not that I don't work at forging them but the 'last mile' connects don't seem to form or melt down. Invariably I associate it with my age and in two ways: the way others view me and the gathering-of-patina that just happens as you get older, the amassing of more history and experience acts to situation oneself differently, I think both act to give a 'Brechtian effect', a distantiation from everything around one. But damn I keep wondering how far can it go?! Well, we know how far it can and will go--one gets pushed completely off the planet, out of the universe, that is, one dies -- how much farther from everything can you get.
I try to think back when I was younger to see how I felt about some of this and I can't make it come into focus....I can't tell if I've actively WORKED at alienating myself -- there have been times when I seem to have -- or whether I've come to FIND myself at this outpost.
When I look back at myself as a very young child, sitting in the back of the family sedan, reading a science fiction novel and getting car sick (I remember vividly reading CHILDHOOD'S END -- which was some sort of precursor I think to 2001, the movie -- in the car in the back and being simultaneously carsick and completely overcome with the scale of the events in the novel, nothing around me seemed real, not the car, the summer heat, the small asbestos-shingled houses flipping by in the southern twilight...I didn't live in the south, I didn't travel by car, I was at the End of Time, trapped in a species nostalgia, teleporting, beginning to summon mutational energies for the next leap in our species evolution.
How could the tawdry events abound me be real, the faded plastic car seats, the miles of kudzu, the tired, quiet Sunday afternoons, most often some exquisite pain of just waiting -- between the morning church services and the seven o'clock appearance of Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan, I remember nothing but a drone of sunshine. Surely it must have rained but I remember none of it, nothing but a slow meandering of the day in an overhead glaze of heat, broken by an occasional car ride (people actually did that then, just got in the car for the 'Sunday drive', might wind up a relatives house or might not)...
But memory is such an odd thing, some things float persistently, like that omnipresent, lazy Sunday afternoon in the middle of Mississippi, while other things refuse to come into focus, the vast majority of things and events refuse to come into view in fact.
And of course with Young Turks (so called because of their slaughter of the Armenians lets not forget) there is always (well, almost always) a refusal of memory (but paradoxically folded into it's opposite, the retaining of memory, identity), mainly I think because they haven't acquired that patina of time which makes memory possible and so therefore it is not in their best interest for that to be a concern; but it could also be that, as Walter Benjamin contends, experience is leaving us in a certain way, story telling is being sucked up into some technological imperative.
The best spin to put on it is perhaps the one that Agamben puts on it, that poesis subtends some inhuman facet, that language itself must of necessity have at its core the inhuman (and desubjectification as he puts it):
"...one who truly bears witness in the human is the inhuman; it means that the human is nothing other than the agent of the inhuman, the one who lends the inhuman a voice. Or, rather, that there is no one who claims the title of 'witness' by right. To speak, to bear witness, is thus to enter into a vertiginous movement in which something sinks to the bottom, wholly desubjectified and silenced, and something subjectified speaks without truly having anything to say of its own."
or, as he later puts it more succinctly: "human beings are human insofar as they bear witness to the inhuman."
And what can memory be but some form of testimony or witnessing? And yet the emphasis on a machinic culture is towards some sort of archive, an increasingly unfathomable collection of fixed images of which nevertheless the question can be asked: does this amount to a 'memory'? or rather how does such instant mechanical retrieval affect 'witnessing'? Is this a 'desubjectification' on a mass scale? or is it some sort of re-subjectification? or a necessary combination? But what happens when we become spectators of our own -- or even someone else's -- memories? When someone else's voluntary memory becomes (perhaps) our involuntary memory? (you go to a movie, become engrossed in it, somehow it becomes your memory, both of 'the movie' itself and the content of the movie..)
Always, prowling at the perimeter of who we are, is this hungry maw, scooping up events and stories, trying to convert the inhuman Thing Itself into a 'me'...but can't the process go the other way? After all, there is a hell of a lot more that is NOT me and the vortex that is a person must spin in just the right orbit, with just the right amount of resonance for it not to de-stabilize in its processes of incorporation.
The continual danger of 'art' is this wholesale incorporation of the inhuman (because let's face it, it gives one quite a rush, literally taking one's breath away as the air rushes out of the airlock into the pitch-black surrounding the little human campfire)...or maybe even closer to those people who try to half asphyxiate their partner (or themselves) for a sexual rush -- which is, ITSELF, a heady rush to that inhuman, bearing itself on the inhuman buzz of the axle which is DNA (itself, in its macro/micro distinction, like the uneasiness before the extreme inhuman that quantum physics causes in us: we know it is at that desubjectified 'bottom' of life or energy or matter but we, as the human part of the equation, can't make the leap, it just threatens to hum insanely at all our doors, outside our windows, underneath the floor itself, even occasionally, uncannily, knocking on our door, but never able to come in and be a guest.)
And so what happens when memory, OUR memory, human memory for gods sake, takes on that same inhuman humming, me/not-me?
"O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."
Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet
I had occasion recently to go to a gathering. Someone had a Polaroid camera and was snapping a few photos. When the one I was in came out, the person taking the snap said "hmmm that doesn't look like you..'; Seldom do I think they look like me, I never seem to feel coincident with the image.
Well, it's a common thing; our internal image of ourselves is seldom very congruent with these external forms.
If I am honest with myself, I think that I probably conceived of this journal as a way to close that gap a bit...even as I know that it is a hapless, impossible possibility. Not only that but that it seems indeed to be a task that moves in the opposite direction from closure and congruence. I become aware of the multiplicity of selves that one contains and that whoever comes across these artifacts strewn in one's wake (you know who you are) reads them in congruence with one of THEIR possibilities....not always very pleasant.
Someone also told me recently that I was too close to things. yes i will accept that. But the only way to make certain examinations is to be present, as present as you can be. One doesn't have to WORRY about about getting distance on events nowadays--that seems to be bulit into the fabric of things now. And not even withstanding that other characteristic of the human that Agamben mentions, of the inhuman as lurking at the core of the inhuman.
In fact, I would say the problem now is not one of gaining distance but a problem of gaining closeness. But maybe that's just one of my 'multiples' talking.
Someone else also told me this week that I was unattractive because I was a "tortured soul" (I don't know if you know who you are or not)...um, yeah, could be. I can own up to some of that. and yet some of it may be a literary, or even worse, therapeutic conceit.
But it is undoubtedly true that there is nothing more tedious than being for an extended period in the presence of another's suffering...even worse if it's suffering by proxy. For some apparently just a CONCERN with trauma and suffering is enough to give them the hebbie jeebies.
And the whole culture is now permeated with the suffering of the other, it's what the media panoptic thrives on, satisfying a very ancient, even primal, lust that humans have for blood sport. Or maybe it resides in the slash between human/inhuman, the realm where resides the daemonic (from the Greek, literally means 'that which divides') which yet joins the two--inescapable yet almost unseeable.
Some people--hell maybe MOST people--are able to reside resolutely (and with no suspicions) on one side of the divide or the other. This, they call happiness. This is also where resides Arendt's 'banality of evil'. A glorious future no doubt awaits it.
I had a very odd dream last night. I was some place semi public. a couple of people left the room and I pulled out an automatic weapon and killed the 4 or 5 people who were left. I woke up with that feeling one often has in dreams of it being real, and what was I going to do NOW! (much like those dreams I used to have where I would wake up in a cold sweat, positive that I had an exam that day and that I had not studied for it at all. Now I just have dreams of being a mass killer...) No one seemed to be suspecting that I was the killer or that even anyone was missing..and worse was that I was somewhat blasé about the whole thing...
Driving down the street ,
through loops and skeins
modernist bric a brac,
hymns to current,
restless signage through pores:
pop and moderne leveraged
through accounts receivable,
through unaccountable delays
from the heart,
second best guessed by only
Through alleys of mindsets
(alibis of gritty determination)
suddenly becoming visible,
grim channeling in successive waves,
flesh pulled through time,
manifesting in raucous variety:
toy-like, fragile and
Our time now a précis of
a past lustered to thin-ness
by the rubbing of now,
always only now,
but worn through almost
(always 'almost', the catchword for
submerged brains, gears clogged
vaporous bubble surrounding us,
irridescent from unseen currents
vast shield from misfortune
but membrane thinner than
we move in place
sprockets, gears, chips,
flung from stamping feet
we credit no other
we become avatars
some final beating
on leaden walls
with wands of
There is so much I don't know...almost as if there is EVERYTHING I don't know and as if the only thing standing between me and knowing more is my own self, some pride of being me (completely unwarranted of course) always as the Greeks knew (they knew, some of them, a couple of things) a source of one's downfall. But it seems there's really no way around it--I mean around me, since it's ME that's trying to get around ME. And always so old the questions, so unanswerable except here and now, in the doing , in the being me (not, however, in the being of me, another story there, certainly older story than being me...well, maybe; who's to say really?) Caught in the locust grove of lotus eaters that is oneself, a constant struggle past the thorns whch others don't SEEM to mind then bogged down in the swamps of oneself (and swamps: not a bad thing really, much lives there, dies there, turns over there into its opposite, comforting really in its hyper-carbonation, effervescence of carbon always on the way to becoming other, something we could learn from really...maybe even the opposite of learning EVERYTHING, a peculiar human hubristic goal when it comes right down to it...swamps are more about knowing NOTHING, nothing but cycling through, something which 'science' can only see as blockage, eutrophication, the opposite of the desert where the eye roams free to the very edge, knowing everything until the end of the field of vision...unlike the swamp, which is more uncanny than the sublime desert (field of the Fathers, Seeing till the End of, the Edge of, Time, like Ray Milland in the Man with Xray Eyes, at the end of the movie, in a revival tent, seeing to the very edge of the universe and time, driven mad by his knowledge...). Swamps are informed by sounds and smells, conditions of interiorities, immanent formations coming unbidden, impossible to close nose and ears against without doing damage to the organism, not like closing eyes (of course x ray vision ala Ray Milland rounds uncannily back on itself (it's in the nature of the uncanny really), seeing through eyelids themselves, impossible to close them, the eye becoming like the nose, male becoming female, becoming-open-continuously....one knows nothing here, rather, knowing knows one, the opposite of grasping, one is grasped-by.
All of civilization is of the desert, not the swamp. The swamp is the end of civilization as we know...No wonder that Walt Kelly put Pogo in the swamp, Pogo whose most famous epigram is "We has met the enemy and it is us.."
How odd...some days are formed of voids, spiraling from the one from which I awaken perhaps. Yet the singularity of the dark attractor holds on into the shining, disintegrating the fragile spider strands that hold a day together, rain drops through the web...
Some paradox operating there (here): the more events crowd in to one portion of existence .... the more voids appear elsewhere. But appearing as premonitions which appear as bodily sensations: sweaty palms, pounding heart, erections, some sense of expectation. But a waiting that is hollow at best, disabling at worse...
Oh, how the body wants wants wants, some indefatigable unaccountable yearning for stuff it can continually fold into itself, make its own....
It gives me no peace. There is no beach whose waving can lull the rhythms of that yammering.
If this is torment, then it is an excrutiatingly sweet torment, available to some sort of transform into somthing else; in fact, it MUST be transformed into something, under threat of explosions.
I remain convinced that beauty is a thing of terrible suspicion for many people, people who in other times would have been some of the prime exponents of the thing called 'beauty' (that is, 'artists'). Oh and physical bodily beauty is a thing of even more suspicion. Or more precisely beauty acts as a 'skandalon' as the Greeks had it, that is, a stumbling block. It is something that attracts us as at the same time we wish to push it away. We are suspicious because of the power it has over us (after all the original meaning of the word 'glamour' was as a sort of spell that was cast---it's still true) and yet we crave it on what SEEMS to be almost a genetic level.
But the level of suspicion is such now that even a god can't save the appearances for many.
I'm still always amazed when spring comes around, and things begin appearing out of their dormancy. It's really no wonder that paganism feels so much like a natural default position of the human conceptual apparatus. It takes quite a bit of jiggery-pokery to cover over that particular mysterium (ie nature) as developed religions and especially Judeo Christianity have done. But of course all you have to do is work in conjunction with technology and you have quite a dandy covering over those particular depths, a very high tensile fabric, shall we say, woven of the strands of tech and linear messianism which is quite effective at surpressing all other 'weeds' of Otherness. In fact, much like some plants which put out certain toxins which push the environment to reception of its own kind while making it very difficult for other species to get a foothold. And the very nature of either a monocrop or a monoculture is that it is extremely close of collapse at every portion of its journey. One might even generalize and say that ANY mono-entity is always everywhere close to catastrophe, much closer than a variegated, diversified system.
Tech is the MOST mono of mono-entities and as such exhibits extreme stability WITHIN the boundaries which it has fenced in. That's why, like capital itself, it finds it necessary as a survival mechanism to continually EXPAND its borders, its framework and to continually tranform its other, its potential enemies, into itself. It doesn't need to plan this or orchestrate it any more than a tree giving off chemical signals which effectively block growth in its area or that the shade it casts will eventually block out competitors.
Marx thought this growth-to-maintain-stability would be the downfall of capital since once it had used all the resources within its framework -- eventually extending worldwide -- then collapse would ensue. But it would be a collapse UPward rather than downward, meaning the bottom, the proletariat would take over, I suppose like the grassland takes over the glade
For some reason, it's becoming harder for me to think about putting this up. ... a mish mash of stuff amounting to what??!
Why am I doing this? Because all this verbiage is somehow too close?...or because it has nothing to do with anything, they are just sort of stories I'm making up?...or some factor I can't articulate? The self seems to become simultaneously more gossamer and more obdurate at the same time, something is brought forward and just as inexorably something else is shoved back, out of the word, as if some linkage, a part of the very structure of being an 'is'.