An Apocalyptic

The locust of dawn watches its prey
It sits in the fields of wheat
Grain rising with the golden dawn
Of revelation

The preacher sees the insect, clicking
Its angry chitinous legs
In preparation
The sound that howls like the
Cicada’s death cry
Across the endless plain of gold
Braided fibonacci
In circles, blonde french
Girls singing ring around the rosey

a Black chalcedony spark in the night
And the locust watches its prey
Its brothers sit on high, ready to harvest
Their blood yield.
Feast on the ripe earth’s grain
Claw into the flesh-y soil, and feel the dry
Bloodless land yield subserviently to its mass

The preacher knows the failure of inevitability
From the pulpit
Crying in tongues to Hecate, Hades,
And the pagan Hel
To escape the mass of destruction to which he cannot help
But witness

He prays for the hail of the almighty
The sun to blot out the sky
In ringed shadow
But not the locust
Not the prosaic monster

The flood of desecration opens its loud
Cacophonous wings
The capricious feeding begins
The crunch of bread
The failure of harvest
And the slow death

Of everything, under the threaded wings
Of Destiny

 

 

On Purpose & Redundancy

What am I doing?

That’s a rock-solid question to ask yourself periodically when you feel lost. That is, the bad kind of lost. I’m currently lost in the sense that my lack of direction has taken a cloying turn. I blame no one but the moment, and even that I cut some slack. I am eternally unresentful of things.

It can be a challenge.

Hating nothing is impossible, this much is more or less verifiable; but it is always possible not to act on anger. If you get angry, you can hold it in, you can focus on it, you can restrict and vent, and shift. You do not have to get angry.

I don’t know what I am though, and that is Ok.

That non-sequitur is due, in part, to mal de vivre that people seem to be indulging in re: losing your shit over the tiniest little things repeatedly and outrageously. It would be callous for me to say that people flying off the handle is a bad response to things. I’m too amoral and morally relative to believe that expressions of Anger are “Bad”.

But man, there are, in point of fact, better ways to deal with these things.

Because the shitty truth is that people react to anger with a sense of fear; they react to it on the assumption that their life is threatened meaningfully: people react to anger with anger, to protect themselves. Even if it something as trivial as the fact that Bob Dylan’s music is fucking annoying (just an opinion, bro) and pretentious; to the more serious issues like “Black People have voices, fucking listen”.

When faced with someone yelling, the go-to is not “Oh, let me hear what this person has to say, parse it out thought by thought into its basest meaningful elements, and develop a cogent response that both factors in their feelings, and also re-iterates my level of agreement”: that is a trained response. You have to fight to learn it.

No, most people’s response to someone getting outraged is to what? Get defensive as hell. Even when their argument has no water.

I love humanity for the fact that it’s optimistic about the abilities and function of the brain. But most of our neuronal function is autonomic, and the parts of our brain that directly act against things like Anger, and Danger, and Threats is part of that autonomic segment: the part of your brain that doesn’t think consciously.

I get immensely frustrated, and exhausted, and drained by the attempts at rationalizing why anger is the only way to handle these things. Sure, the point may be accurate – it may even be necessary – but reacting with rage only induces a Fight or Flight response, no matter how fucking stupid Bob Dylan’s music is.

If anyone read this, I’d likely have a queue of 14 point comments about why the above statement is completely untrue, even though it is a.) my opinion, and therefore not an observable, falsifiable fact and b.) arguing about such trivial things is silly and non-sensical.

And this shit impacts me daily: I absorb anger and feeling like a sponge. Being around the enraged people is sort of like having someone sit on my amygdala making me want to shout. I don’t, because I have a modicum of self-control; but the point remains.

And that anger wheel, much like a child-star’s hedonic wheel – presses over its point of diminishing returns quickly, and leaves me exhausted. And then I get the shitty kind of lost.

Because when you’re tired, you wander, but you don’t control it.

There is beauty in getting lost, a fact on which I rhapsodize regularly, and passionately; there is beauty in asking questions; there is wonder in healthy skepticism; and there is value to the scientific method.

But god man, I’m growing to despise it all.

And it’s even worse because I know the fucking necessity of it. If I thought that all this anger was useless, I would probably have a legitimate hissy about calming the fuck down. But, I can’t. I can’t engage with it, because getting angry at people is not something I’m particularly good at, or find particularly useful.

Hell, I’m not even mad at the angry people. I’m just protecting the sense of ego that is under constant assault by the perpetual pessimism, and outrage.

Maybe that makes me a bad person, I don’t really know. And I get this way sometimes, so maybe I’m just in a bad mood; I freely admit that I am a contradictory creature of meaningful impulse, pulled in opposite directions practically daily.

But I know that Anger isn’t as useful as we want it to be. It’s too drug like, it feeds too many unquenchable fires.

I prefer, instead, compassion, and kindness, and empathy.

I prefer listening, and feeling what someone is saying. I prefer accepting the person as they are. I prefer finding a solution from my vantage that accounts for theirs. It can be done, I do it regularly, it’s part of my day job.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this, outside of a sense of redundance and exhaustion, which comes from the wrong kind of lost.

The sky is grey, and I’m walking somewhere, and I’ll be fine when I find the wrong turn I’ve been looking for. But for now, I’m just floating along in a perpetual state of exhaustion.

And I’m not sure why I’m doing it, but I know that I have to.

Sings Only the Lonely

To plan, or not to plan, that is the question?

I feel like some planning is good. Not, you know, intense planning, but setting something’s just so, and then other things not-just so, and then watching it all fall into place. Otherwise it’s just confirmation bias.

I’m in a weird non-sequitur space right now. It’s one of those things that is and isn’t at the same time. Where the interjection of conjunctions is just the tiniest bit off, and my malapropisms are beautiful because I’m not putting an excess effort.

I’m fucking lonely tonight.

But that isn’t anything new. I am a lonely human. I  have always spent time lonely. I have learned how to sit and be lonely…or rather, I have learned to sit and be alone; and if you don’t know the difference, well, good for you.

Being lonely is one of those things that is an acquired skill. It doesn’t come over night, either. Some days, you wake up to that absence – the abnegation (pretty) – of humanity. You’re just…aware that around you is the vacuum where people are supposed to be, and are, and it makes you very small.

And it is a very wide vacuum that has forced me, always, to consider my insignificance, to varying degrees of reflection.

When the loneliness isn’t solitude, when it’s active, it’s a clawing beast. It’s a sensation that don’t  know is even possible. It’s like your skin being sewed onto your body a milimeter off…like a pair of jeans that keeps twisting the wrong way, so your crotch feels awkwardly placed. Your skin and muscles are just…wrong, and no matter which way you twist and turn, no matter how you adjust, that wrongness is a seeping wound of frustration.

But sometimes the loneliness is a blanket. Sometimes it’s really just solitude. It’s a comfort, a yawn, it’s the sensation of being warmly in love with yourself. It’s hot chocolate and a show to binge-watch. It’s the sensation of freedom.

My arm looks like a chain was taken off cause of my watch.

Sorry, that was me trying to be non-sequitur thematic. I’ll stop

But this loneliness it’s a little heavier tonight. Maybe gravid is the right word. The suggestion of pregnancy appeals to me in some perverse way. The air feels like an Andrei Tarkovsky shot from his slower films. Meditative, overlooking the abyss, being pushed down with perpetual weight and then…release.

But it’s ok, I’m used to it; and that doesn’t even feel like a denial anymore. It’s just…what it is. And I know that loneliness is some sinful state of being, in this culture. Maybe that isn’t appropriate, but it’s not a desirable state. No one in our culture tells you: Hey, it’s ok to be alone, unless you really need to hear it because life is a big ol’ bag of suck right now, and they don’t want you to harm yourself in despair.

But really, alone-ness is our natural state. And I champion the unpopular views – when it feels necessary – and the value of loneliness is often overlooked; mostly cause it’s called solitude, but whatevah.

Tout-Le-Sigh.

When you’re in the shitty loneliness, all you can think of is how to get out of it. How badly you want to be somewhere else, anywhere else. You just need. to be. elsewhere. And hey, that’s ok.

But it’s like all things in the world: the harder you think about what you want, the more likely it isn’t going to happen.

It’s like some observer effect of some kind. The harder you reach, the more out of reach it is, like licking your elbow, or grabbing a laser; or hopefully not grabbing your shadow.

Loneliness of this kind is often self-perpetuating, and a positive feedback loop of shit. I’ve dealt with it regularly time immemorial. I don’t blame anybody for it, though, often, I’ve been told to blame myself for my loneliness.

I don’t begrudge – or try not to – people who tell you “you don’t have to be alone” or “if you don’t want to be alone, just talk to people”. For those people, I would like to share a tiny story.

I used to talk to people all the time. I would say “hi, what’s up”, I would make artificial efforts to fill the void that was my empty social life, staring and refreshing my computer regularly for some paltry notification that hey, my life had some validity to others, and I wasn’t completely fucking worthless.

Then, one day, I decided “Fuck it, I’m going to go a week without talking to people, and see what happens”.

Do you wanna know what happened?
Nothing.

Not a single person decided “hey, where is Eric?” and reach out. I had less to do, so I stared at my room, walked around, and waited for someone – literally anyone – to notice that I had stopped existing digitally: no one did.

If you’ve never done that, I recommend it; just spend 168 hours in isolation, unintentional preferable. It does things to you. It fucks you up and makes you furious in ways you didn’t even realize were possible. It makes you some micron in some grandiose indifferent cosmos, except even the people around you don’t care.

It hurts, man.

And I can’t say it didn’t make me bitter, or that I don’t get upset thinking about it now: it’s upsetting. Knowing that – at the time – I could go for a week without existing, invisible, unseen, unheard, and nothing changed, that’s a kind of pain you have to know to understand.

Fortunately, and I do mean it, fortunately, most people do not know what that feels like. Most people have a support structure, and people who care. Most people have friends who get worried. I have that now…at least more than I used to.

But more than that, I’m comfortable in my insignificance. I know that, even if I did matter, it would still be more or less a paltry state of affairs in the scheme of the cosmos. I love myself now: that makes everything easier.

But most of all, I love freely others, and I don’t make plans, and life tends to work itself out. It’s been around a lot longer than me, I figure it knows what it’s doing.

If you read my musings on nothing: thanks, I appreciate it.

If not, well, I’m sure you’re doing something better with your time.

An Ode to Spam Emails

I’m a connoisseur of spam emails.

I always thought I knew how to spell that correctly.

Spam is kind of an art-form if taken from just the right angle. Which is to say, completely unseriously. But it can’t be any spam. It has to be a certain kind of spam. It has to be artistic spam.

And trust me, there is some artsy fucking spam in the weirdest places.

Sure you have your generic “Grow your dixxx w/ these pills” and “Hot ass this blog,clickheredude”. There’s the casual “I have this important file to sharexcvobxjcoijaerg.org.cn” with malware. There’s the Phishing “YOU’VE BEEN HACKED, CLICK THIS SUSPECT EMAIL NOW TO ACCESS YOUR FILES” emails. And then there’s just sadness of SEO scams, et. al.

Then you have the spam that’s in a bit of identity crisis. The spam that has a lot more to do with the fact that it was just sent to the wrong place, at the wrong time. This spam is like Einstein’s theory of relativity: it’s not fixed spam.

Then, there’s the art spam.

I often find the art spam to be those stories from “Rich Widows”, the Nigerian Princes; they’re the ones that want to make you rich, provided you provide your wire number, and send the money first. Obviously.

These spam are more fun, because they come in every language – I saw one in german once, one in french – and they almost always start out as the Spam that would also be comfortable as the macguffin for a James Bond film.

“Dear Esteemed Sir, my husband was a very important businessman, being investigated by SEC. In order to maintain our trust, we had to find our closest living relative. That is, by fortune, you. If you reply to this email, we will wire you millions of dollars”.

That is a James Bond film, sent daily to every swinging dick on the internet.

Just imagine what would happen if it was straight true, too.

You open the email, and suddenly the FBI Bursts in: STOP RIGHT THERE MISTER.

Then they give you the act 1 shakedown: you’re going to infiltrate this person on the behalf of SEC, we’ll front the seed money, and you’ll get dressed up. You’ll be so fucking confused you won’t mind that they walked in on you pondering Penis Enlargement pills. They’ll take your computer for security reasons.

Then you’ll go through the Act II dossier: what is this guy’s deal. You’ll talk with Q and get nifty weapons. Suddenly you’ll be thrown into a training montage, and become a deadly weapon like Nic Cage in con air.

You’ll reach the Act II Midpoint and the babe will walk out of the water in the most enticing bikini you’ve ever seen. You’ll be on some tropical beach, wondering what kind of mistake you made to end up here with a gun in your holster.

Then you’ll be suave, and charming, because fuck it, life’s gotten a little too unreal anyway.

Then you’ll be captured by the slightly-deformed woman who sent you the email initially. Not deformed enough to make the villain socially unaccetpable; just deformed enough to be deadly, and oddly compelling romantically.

God, James Bond has a fucking troubling structure.

Then you’ll make the wire transfer in a secret lair under a volcano. There will be a shoot out, you’ll get the girl. Then you’ll get good at spying and they’ll make you a spy for true.

And then you’ll get tired, and bored. You’ll realize it’s only an adventure if it’s once in a lifetime, and otherwise, it’s just work. You’ll start drinking too much. You’ll do your job worse and worse. Life will become a miasma because you know how awful the dark side of it is. You’ll wish you had never opened that email, to reveal this whole side of life.

Or, you know, you’ll get swindled. But I like my imagination more.

Then, there’s the art.

These spam emails are emails that are non-sense. They’re like Finnegans Wake except even less sensical than that (which is a perfectly straightforward book, thank you very much). These ones are by guys named Zoltan about poisoned water supplies; written in a dream-y illogical writing style that’s all nouns. The zygotic combinatorium of influence is undeniably catastrophic, and the isochronal isoceles alien structures, clearly indicate some tessractional possibilities from Gleeb, the inter-dimensional shitting dick nipple alien lizard. If you download these articles, and read my newsletter, you’ll be able to see THE TRUTH, man.

Then there are the unintentionally beautiful poems made out of random strings of words enigmatic matriculate coagulated dike ration unwashed prenecessitate discontinuously. These ones are my favorite. The reductio ad absurdum of spam. They are just the meaningless entropy you seek to avoid.

But Spam is only spam, because you want it to be Spam. For some people, the promises of a better life, the promises of the truth – the promise of sex – is such an appealing fantasy, that it doesn’t matter that someone is trying to feel you up to steal your shit.

There is such an endless appeal to the feeling of being wanted, that makes spam a treasure to me. It’s seeing how these failures of logic suddenly become imperfect, smoky crystals of art. How these attempts to swindle, once robbed of their reality, become these moments of time captured in a petty, humorous lucite.

It’s beautiful to me.

So I love it, and I adore reading good ones.

And that’s what makes me a connoisseur of art, too.

 

On Clarice

There was a flood of emotions this evening. I hadn’t expected it.

It took the form of the last page of a book, that detonated right outside the levee of the nice dam I had built around my heart. My sadness and confusion and compounded interest of despair washed over me blood red, and I was, for a moment, lost in the sensation of orgiastic completion that accompanies finishing a long book.

I finished Clarice Lispector’s Collected Stories; a book on which I attach a series of specific, sad memories, but also a great deal of love. I aspire to the paradoxical humanity, of which Clarice Lispector was a master.

Her word choices make me sigh, and feel exasperated, and slip into me like some kind of Dali painting.

But all I can think about right now was the night I bought the book, almost 2 years ago.

I was at the Harvard Coop, and I was doing my usual dance-insanity-be-awesome schtick when I finally settled on the book with the woman’s eyes in purple about which  knew literally nothing. I had seen the book in various nowhere’s around the store, and finally, on this night of nights, managed to get around to buying it. It was an act of pure chance, as these things are.

I was still very much in a Borgesian phase, having taken a keen interest in his ability to reduce infinity into a 4 page short story, and subsequently blow my mind.

Then I waited in line, staring at the cavernous bookstore surrounding me. I didn’t really notice her until she made herself visible to me.

She shall remain truly nameless, because she’s only a memory to me now, anyway. I shall call her Clarice, though, because it suits her in all the ways I remember her.

She was tall, attractive, and hid herself well. I got to the counter and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. I interjected “I’m excited for this book”.

She took a look at it and my heart caught fire.

She grabbed the book as a lover, held it to her chest, sighed deeply and exclaimed a pleasurable moment so convincingly, I couldn’t help but to develop an interest in her.

I asked her about the book, and she explained – with the excitement of true interest – about Lispector, stirring my excitement. She mentioned that she was Portuguese, and I asked if she was as good as Borges.

Without missing a beat she sad “Better than Borges”.

I was incredulous, impressed, and smitten with an instant crush. Then she pointed to the back of the book “Better than Borges – Elizabeth Bishop” and I looked at this girl again. It’s amazing how such a spark of could ignite such powerful feelings.

I became acquainted with her, and I left. Thinking about Clarice, on a wave of giddy joy at having met someone who was familiar with Experimental literature, who not only knew good writing, but reveled in it with all the ferocious presence of now that you would expect of an empty calorie rom-com character.

Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it, and though we kept up for a while afterward, she disappeared into the Aether. I have reached out since, vainly, but I’ve never heard back.

Reading Clarice Lispector awakens all the feelings that this girl did. Quixotic glee, unreal longing, and a sense of my life being a mirror in the feverish surrealism of daily life. The image of that meeting is seared in my mind; and it makes horribly sad.

It’s probably why it took this long to read. I didn’t want to lose that connection to someone so compelling, who interested me so much.

And now, like Lispector towards the end, there is this sense of empty automation. The what next is the what next is the what next; and the what next is nothing. The flowers in the vase have withered, and all i’m left with are the ghosts of phantom-longing. A sorrow that I forgot I was able to countenance.

I’m so inelegant tonight it makes me feel like a young child, blushing at the remembrance of beauty. It makes me feel chubby, and not quite sure on my feet. It makes me feel that loneliness that happens when the silence that’s always around gets turned up to deafening volume and you’re suddenly aware that you’re so, so small in it.

It’s the sound of crystal falling, or some mild epiphany.

And the blood red crimson fell over me awash, and I let myself carry away on the wave of via crucis. There was something honest about it.

Clarice Lispector broke my heart, in the good way, and I feel so empty tonight.

But it feels so good to know my heart throbs with life, and my tears of salt are honest.

On Consequence

I don’t know where to even start.

Literally, I’m a little to literal for my own good, sometimes. But currently I’m the kind that feels like a too-drunken mix of XTC trying to be the Beatles, and a guy sitting cross-legged in front of a laptop, believing in his own relevance and simultaneous insignificance.

I put words together good sometimes.

I have thought increasingly about process. Which I think at this point is more or less completely redundant, but also totally a propos of where I am right now. I fucking love that word.

Honestly, I may just be a reaction formation to the current state of the world, but I see the process/consequentialism issue as a big part of it. Because, I don’t know about y’all, but America is all sorts of consequentialist. I don’t find its behavior even a little surprising, given that context.

But I imagine you don’t geek out over philosophy quite as much as me, so let’s break this down: A consequentialist is someone for whom the Means are always Justified, if the conclusion is. Like, as long as you save the damsel in distress, it doesn’t matter that you had to mutilate some random civilian’s arm.

In fact, it’s a central conflict in shows like The Shield, Justified, and is more or less the entire problem with both DC’s initial attempts at a Cinematic Universe, and their systemic problems. They’re so focused on a certain result, that they don’t care how they get there. But how they get there is not only the entire process of fucking existing, but it’s also how you do it right.

We live in a culture that emphasizes greatness at such a sickening pace it’s impossible not to feel inferior by proxy of a facebook account, which 2/7th of the world currently use. We see examples of greatness, and we all want a piece o’dat sweet ass pie of feeling significant. I know I do. I’m no longer so conceited as to believe that it’s humble to say “Nah, I just want to do good”

Significance is a legitimate and thorough desire, and the pursuit of it drives human behavior to an absurd degree.

But now, in an age where you can basically get whatever you want if you pay the price, consequentialism has taken a huge step forward…with all its attendant bullshit.

But you still don’t really know what I mean. So let’s maybe change the example to something more relevant to you.

Let’s say you want to start a youtube channel, and you want to make monies off it. But, you don’t want to actually do any of the really significant leg work, you don’t want to study, and you don’t want to make anything really meaningful. This sounds like a silly example, but it isn’t.

Or maybe what you’re interested in is so niche, it will never be seen by three people (clears throat expectantly): you can choose to be patient, and build up a base. You can make meaningful content. You can learn and grow, and change and be a generally compelling human being. You can fail, and fall apart, be prone to doubt.

Or you can pay some bots to view your shit, and get you significance thrill that way.

One is difficult, and time consuming, and not guaranteed. The other costs money, but you achieve exactly what you ask for.

That second one, it’s bullshit.

But it’s how we do things in this culture. These days, having a million views is almost as valuable as how you got them. For every guy like Chris Stuckmann, or Jeremy Jahns, who put together meaningful interesting content about the shit that interests them, you have some douchebag who just paid to have his views upped, because he wanted a million views for some non-meaningful video. Sure, you’ll never hear about that guy. But he also has no reason to grow, and barring some straight dick-head level idiocy on his part, he’s not going to disappear.

So now we have this theoretical guy who has not been given the exact feeling of significance he sought. Now what?

If he’s anything like the rest of the internet, he’ll start believing he deserved it. And he will continue to seek to enable his opinion. He will enable himself continuously. He will use confirmation bias to the point of absurdity, and then make no meaningful progress towards anything.

But he felt significant.

And this extends to so many other things, and I get why: life never stops moving, that’s its key feature. People invent shit, or come up with mindblowing discoveries. I recently learned the Voynich manuscript has finally been figured the fuck out. I wanted to do that. I’m straight disappointed.

But this kind of philosophy is grating. It places the object over the subject; it is the equivalent of creating a shitty sentence composed of reality; and reality has it backwards.

When the object takes precedence over the subject, then human suffering, lasting design, and meaningful contribution are all things that are functionally irrelevant. I want to remain significant, and feel good, so I will withhold my true feelings on things; and, instead, I’ll share some meaningless platitude of the moment justifying everyone else’s deeply held opinion that I’m scared to challenge because, hey, I like my friends, and I don’t want to lose them, because my thoughts differ from theirs.

Consequentialism makes the capital sin a mistake. Because being amoral in pursuit of your goal — if the goal is worthy enough for society — is A-Ok. But being human? Being prone to failure? Making a mistake? No, you can’t do that.

You can’t fail honestly, and build, and make yourself better, when you have an objective goal. You can only succeed.

You’re not allowed to not know what to say, or be confused. You’re not allowed to believe that the solutions presented are not binary; that you can choose patience and nuance.

Not everything needs to be now.

But, then again, what do I know? I’m a guy who prefers fucking up, and growing.

On Straw Dogs

Sometimes, I really don’t know what to say.

I like those times, at times; but most of the time, they’re just frustrating. They make me feel the frustrating kind of redundant. There’s redundancy in this paragraph, for christ’s sake.

Anywho, I’m at a loss. I’m too torn between the need to be righteously upset, completely frustrated, and overwhelmingly anxious. But I’m failing even at that. Because, you see, meditation makes you really good at detachment.

Detachment is a two edged sword, sometimes, for moral humans, such as myself.

I think there’s something obscenely wise in the way Lao-Tzu (my homeboy) treats sages, in his texts. He never says “Yo, sages are great, listen to them”; he never says “Sages have your best interests at heart”; he doesn’t even say “Sages are good”.

He’s just honest: sages are detached, and they are neither good, nor bad. They are. As a result, they come off as aloof, and/or dickbags, depending on your level of engagement with the world’s many kinds of steaming bullshit.

He is the old master for a reason. And now all I can think about is Dustin Hoffman murdering folk.

But since I’ve started meditating, my ability to be passionate – in certain ways – has diminished drastically. A propos of my desire to work towards the perfect process, and not the product, I don’t get angry like I feel I should at Social Justice issues. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I glow in the dark from being white.

I used to get unspeakably angry about the shit in the world. I used to recognize my contribution to the morass, even if it was, ultimately, a passive role. That’s the shitty thing about being a dominant subgroup of a stratified society, and also having empathy: you see how much your dominance fucks everything up. I would call it White Guilt, but that would require me to be ashamed of my whiteness.

Just so we’re clear, eh, I’m not proud of my heritage; but I don’t hate it.

And right now, that’s not the tenor I’m allowed to take. I cannot be, by the strictures of social outrage, indifferent to my race. I have to be actively acknowledging it; and I have to be outraged by it. I have to see how my very blue eyes, and my white skin have contributed to the systemic degradation of an entire group of people, and led to an existence of fear, anxiety, and otherness that one with any semblance of conscience would not wish on their worst enemy.

Again, eh, nah.

That milquetoast response can foment anger to such a degree, I have no conception of how to deal with it. Especially with my increasing detachment.

But what do I mean by detachment?

Well, I don’t really know. I still feel things — a lot of things — all the time. My darkness spans waves; my sorrow is as deep as the ocean; my joys are ecstatic, if simple. But I don’t get impacted it in quite the same way as I used to.

It makes me sad, distantly. Although, from a standpoint that I would call “Objective” (it isn’t), it is emotionally richer, and infinitely healthier.

But this newfound internal silence. This de-cluttering of the mental headroom; the shel silverstein cobwebs pulled off thread by thread have revealed something frustrating about my current situation.

I can’t fall into the anger that I know I need to. I can barely even condone it.

And to be clear: it’s necessary. It is the fire that surrounds the crucible that is the world right now. It will create glass of the future, from today’s coarse heady sand. But I can’t indulge in it.

Nor do I feel that I can celebrate my existence.

I only am.

I can’t pretend that I’m some sort of enlightened master. I’m too unfailingly human and contradictory to be something so spectacular and removed. But I understand why Lao-Tzu doesn’t herald a sage as a good person.

A sage does not watch good or bad; nor does he feel that good or bad strictly exist. I’m more or less a morally relative individual. It suits my fancy. The sage just sees the world turning, and moves along the river with it. There is no separation of good or bad.

And that’s hard to do. In fact, it’s harder than being outraged. It requires you acknowledge that somewhere, outside yourself, in the vastness of infinity, there is an indifference of such power, borne of the peaceful silence that sounds like the vacuum of space, that just. doesn’t. care.

That’s hard man.

I’ve had to reconcile that my heritage – though Jewish – is still fundamentally oppressive. I’ve had to reconcile that, even by the proxy of my whiteness, I’m not a good person. I’ve had to accept, under threat of social exclusion, and pariahhood, that I’m immoral, by dint of my unstated, uncreated role as me. And man, that sucks.

And even that cannot arouse the anger that it would in any normal person. In some distant way, I’m grateful to that.

Because honestly, the peace is powerful. It feels like a rock. It feels like a solid piece of my inside an ever-changing universe of infinite variation. It feels like I’m not alone. I feel one. I feel that I am the universe, and the universe is me.

It’s the least lonely feeling in the world.

It would be nice, though, if it didn’t require me to act like the loneliest person.

 

Writing 344: Metaphorical Thinking (Theme Part 3)

I’m going to make you smarter. But first, let me tell you a story.

For a long time, I had trouble communicating with people. There would be a universe of thoughts floating around my skull, seeping past the blood-brain barrier in between the in-betweens floating around the synapse, and all I could manage were terse statements; or I would encounter the opposite issue: I would become a font of arcana and ephemera which held interest for few people but myself.

As it turns out, people are not really that interesting in the perambulations of Signore Alighieri or Joyce past a certain threshold; people don’t all like Anime; and people don’t always get things intuitively. One of my chief problems.

For me, and my obsessive nature, I would always be able to piece together things largely by intuition. It’s one of those kinds of intelligence that is innate, but can be developed. I would be watching a magic trick, and figure out how to do it; I would hum a melody, and get it lickety-split.

As a result, people grew intimidated by me; they left me alone; they made me feel lonelier than anything, and I isolated myself. So, I put a premium on effective communication. And good writing is effective communication.

But one of the best keys to effective communication is to be a lil’ smaht.

How do you get smahteh?

Well, continuing our discussion of theme (Jesus), let’s talk about the essence of theme, and my favorite lil’ fractal: metaphor.

Believe it or not, intelligence is one of those things that no one has a straight definition for. Some people think it has to do with how much you know; some people think it’s how much you’re able to do; some believe it’s different types of intellect.

I prefer to equate intellect with metaphorical thinking.

You are constantly thinking metaphorically, whether intentionally or not; and you may even be aware of it. Shows like Star Trek are great at using simple metaphors to explain complex subjects. A point so eloquently made fun of by futurama in the episode “Where no Fan Has Gone Before”.

Metaphorical thinking – or Analogical reasoning, as I refer to it – is the ability to recognize features of one thing, in features of another. It’s why we see that the sky is like the ocean: wide, blue, and seemingly infinite. We all use Metaphorical Thinking to some extent in daily life.

A large component of Intellect is your abilities with it. To make it easier: the more readily you recognize similarities in the unsimilar, the more you can do.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example.

I’m currently teaching myself a number of languages. For the romance languages, I’ve recognized the fact that the adverbial form of any word is “-ment” in each one. It’s a recognizable feature of all five languages. Further, they each contain “un” “il” “con” and certain features of preposition, syntax, and structure in common.

So what, those five languages are all from the same family.

Well, that’s true, they all derive from Latin (the boring kind of Romance). But if you take it further, you can use even more complex metaphorical thinking.

For example, in Spanish and French – two languages that are mutually unintelligible – the phrase “Your Welcome” is literally translated closer to “It’s nothing”?

Rien is nothing, as is Nada; De Rien, De Nada.

The metaphor here is the recognition of the word “nothing”, and by extension we can use metaphorical thinking to deduce what thanks means in Spanish and French.

But I’m digressing like usual, and intuitively.

How do you get better at Metaphorical thinking, and how do you use it to come up with theme?

Believe it or not, Metaphorical thinking is a skill, not a talent, and you can practice it. You are going to suck at it first, at least as an active skill; but as you use the below exercise more and more, you will come to develop a keen ability to think metaphorically. And the more metaphorically you can operate, the better you will be at identifying the commonalities between your characters, and situations.

The Exercise:

Google search for a random word generator on the internet like this one and generate two words. Once you’ve got those two words, you’re going to find how they resemble each other conceptually. Then find ways in which they differ

Example:

For me, I got Mnemonic and Screaming.

Here’s a list of similarities I got:

  1. Memorable
  2. Involve vocalization
  3. Used in situations that are scary
  4. One follows the other, when studying goes wrong
  5. They are forms of communication
  6. They are both reactions to chaos
  7. They can be used to help people understand a situation

Here is how they oppose each other:

  1. One is meant to order the world, one is an expression of chaos
  2. One is cerebral, the other is instinctive
  3. They oppose each other in purpose

I’m not going to lie: this one was hard for me. I don’t normally sit and actively find metaphors. But as I thought of ways in which they are similar, I was also able to find ways in which they differed, and I established a stronger relationship between the two, than I initially thought.

Let’s apply this to theme:

Your theme is an overarching idea, it’s a fractal, and it needs to be able to relate to all the characters metaphorically in some capacity: this includes your main characters, but also your villains or antagonists.

When the theme applies to all of the characters, they can occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. When they occupy opposite ends of the spectrum of your theme, whatever that is, they act in opposition to each other. This makes your theme an engine for story, rather than a message.

That’s a little theoretical though, so let’s look at a good metaphor for what I’m talking about.

EXAMPLE: 

Image result for the joker and batman

(Credit to Warner Bros)

The Batman and The Joker, awww yiss.

The above characters are thematic opposites. The theme? Control.

You can reduce most of Batman’s stories into one simple controlling idea that influences the rest of the story: We need order, and structure to survive.

Batman represents control at its most strict. He controls his impulse for violence and darkness through the outlet of crime fighting. He has perfect monetary agency. He’s able to make influential powerful decisions and affect millions through his company and money. He controls his dark side, and let’s his thrill out in the night, against criminals. He’s like Dexter Morgan, channeling the darkness to purpose.

The Joker is not anti-good: he’s a complete lack of restraint in human form. His order is chaos. He abides by no rules, no morals trouble his behavior. He is the Id to Batman’s Superego. He is impulse, and intelligence. His intellect and abilities equal or exceed batman’s, depending on who is writing. But in every iteration, he represents a fundamental lack of restraint.

Notice that if you look at Batman through the lens of “Control” as a theme, and its subsequent sub-themes, you’ll see which of his villains often stand out as the best: the Penguin, the Riddler, Black Mask, ZsasZ: all of his great villains are some perversion or variation of someone who is out of control.

And that may seem like a simplistic assessment, but that’s the point: the theme is not meant to create a specific story, it’s supposed to create a large scale palette from which the conflicts are generated. It can be seen at every level of story.

And it’s a metaphor.

Your Assignment: Perform the Above Exercise for 10 pairs of words. Additionally, watch pieces of narrative fiction that you enjoy, and find the controlling theme, based on Theme as I have defined it currently.

Once you have done so, leave a reply in the comments with what you find; or just keep on going, and doing you. It’s not my job to dictate your behavior, just to guide it.

I look forward to hearing your story, and can’t wait to see what you got.

Dream Logic

Dream logic is uncannily appealing to me.

The night, a mountain, stars of literal diamond rolling up and down the length of something that looks between a river, and a field; the time is gelid, limpid, and pellucid. A shade of green that you don’t associate with air; the textures are all wrong.

You see the light at the end of the navy darkness across the way, and it calls to you. The swaying water takes on the quality of grass, and light fluctuates lux in the in-between.

Figures of egg and sveglia and pain collide on the edges of your periphery. A swooping eagle wings outspread watches you from afar. It has legs of a baby, and its eyes see beyond.

The night air swirls around you and the moon calls its demon red into the place between those two thoughts as wide as ginnungagap. Creatures lurk in those dark shadows with eyes the color of blood.

The eagle is inconsistent in its devotion. Its legs become familiar and a Raven joins its flight, judging it’s love for logic. The wind around them is just the sound of hope.

Three men watch them from below, in a wilderness of swirling darkness. But they are lit by rubies, sapphires, garnets, and guilt. The guilt is flame incarnate, burnished orange and regretful mauve play off their faces.

They know the eagle is a herald of order. But the Raven, well, that’s something else.

The Raven is the familiar that whispers in your ears about the seductive truths of beyond. It’s the subtle curvature of the earth that you seem to fall into from the horizon line. It sings a song of savory sorrow; but its song’s sweet sultriness is too much to bear.

Below the Raven, the men argue about god, life, and violence. They each assume their position is the correct one. They are men of learning, the turbans that sprout on their heads grow successively with the mounting arguments. Their rhetoric builds escher stair ways from the soft-silk and muslin of their turbans.

Suddenly, a loud bang. The smell of patchouli ruins the effect. Then the smell of sulfur.

Brimstone leads the men into a cavern of gravity-less meanderings. They continue arguing, each walking past the other through lopsided right angles. They don’t know what they know to be true; and their too smart to acknowledge what they feel to be right.

The eagle perches silently on the top stage left, just under the lights.

–Where are we?

–Who cares…

–It’s imperative that we figure out where we are

–Why can’t we just walk, and let it take us

–Your metaphors are too on the nose

–I’m not in control here.

–Control is an illusion

–There are plenty of illusions, but control is not one.

–Control is the ultimate illusion; it preys on the belief that we hold the wheels of destiny. We are ever a passenger.

Sprouting blossoms of crystal fall out of the person’s mouth. The indeterminate sex of his existence is no crime. The Raven’s eye is a black hole. Dali doesn’t know how he ended up in some mad modernist raving about nothing, and promptly leaves the scene

–Great, now I’ve included Dali, as if I wasn’t being obvious enough.

–I could have done Bunuel, I guess.

And then, a rumbling

The world becomes a singular point on the horizon. The Eagle Bursts into Flame, the Raven screams at the light, and all of the insignificance is pulled into focus.

Just as the dream is about to get good.

I wake up.

And there is nothing more disappointing than that.

A Small Infinite Loop About Nothing

something both comforting and distressingly real about infinity.

Lamniscates hold a fascination for what seems like every great thinker of the modern day. Whether it’s David Foster Wallace, or poor Kurt Gödel (yo-de-lay-hee-hoo); from Joyce to DeLillo to why am I only thinking of writer’s.

There’s something comforting about infinity because we can’t really verify it empirically – we live in a finite universe made of limited particles and atoms – but we know it’s there.

It’s sort of like the mathematical equivalent of god.

Think about it long enough, and in the right weird romantic mindset, and it makes some semblance of sense.

You can’t look at something infinite; hell, you can’t even think of something infinite; hell, you’re barely capable of perceiving 100 people in a room accurately; hell, Dante’s inferno has limits to its perceptions.

But infinity can be represented in so many ways; but only finitely, weirdly enough.

You have the lamniscate — the figure 8 doo-dad — and fractals, you have recursive loops and places that begin on the point where they end — I see you Infinite Jest/Finnegans Wake/Hand.Cannot.Erase/The Wall/Nonagon infinity. The concept of things never ending is something endlessly appealing .

Man, I saw that pun from a mile away, and I let it happen anyway. Fate has a funny way of being like that.

But back to the endless: infinity is never ending, it’s shapeless, you can’t pinpoint it, you can’t control, you can’t limit it. It just is. It goes on forever. It has no start, and no end. You can’t even think of it, but it has the enviable quality of limitlessness.

It is everything that humanity isn’t.

It’s so distressingly hard to realize that in the realm of infinite time, and space, 1 yoctosecond and a Googoldecaplex (Googol folloed by ten googols of zeroes…wrong google) are the same amount of time relative to infinity.

Infinity doesn’t have to worry about looking good. Infinity doesn’t have to keep a schedule. Infinity doesn’t have to care. It just gets to be infinite, and unknowable.

It is all that is theoretically possible. It is the best versions of me that I’m too ashamed to admit I’d actually like to be. It is elegant and so large as to be humanly non-sensical, but utterly honest.

It’s a comfort.

It renders meaningless, those things we hold most dear. It is the what next moment you keep asking yourself. It is that second where you anticipate the next moment, and the next moment.

And it’s easy to fall in love with.

When there is no end, there is no end. Life continues on its spectrum, but will never reach its terminus. You won’t have Severian the Torturer holding a big ass sword to chop off your head. It’s the limitless potential of man. And I’m waxing way too poetic tonight.

But again, I love infinity. and I like being self-referential. Self-reference is a thing of beauty, when done correctly.

When you’re self-referential and utilitarian, you make statements about you, yourself, your art, and whatever else you were trying to say. You create a sense of illusory accountability.

When you get meta, it’s like anti-inception. You’re taking everyone out of the dream river you’ve been letting them float along. You pluck them from the Dorcan softness and golden haired grandmothers; and you put them back in reality.

You get to make sense, even though making sense isn’t very fun.

I think the most appealing thing about infinity is that it is nothing. It is the essence of paradox. It is the paradox of paradoxes. It is like something that is very very very hot feeling the same sharp intensity of a dagger against your skin that something very very very cold is.

Like the Taoists: everything is nothing.

And that’s why there’s…