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To Be and Not To Be

To be and not to be, that’s a better question. Without which not, sine kwannon; all the time in the world sitting upon the edge. Precipice, precipitation and the precipitous collapse of meaning, dangled upon the edge of the end of the world, internally assonant, and just satisfying enough to crave that all encompassing desire for death. The pursuit of the void.

My headspace looks a little weird right now, I hope you will excuse me.

I muse, tonight, on a topic I have mulled over mindlessly – and mindfully – for some time now; still not concretely set upon an answer that would satisfy the basic urge that drives me, but still pleasantly placated by a sad thought: we are all doomed to be forgotten.

Not just forgotten, but non-existent. One day, we will cease to exist in sum. Our atoms, which were once star dust, which were transmogrified into us through some strange probabilistic magic, and will one day be not us again, will cease to hold meaning in the curious knot of consciousness.

I haven’t decided whether it terrifies me or not.

To be and not to be, again and again.

What if it is scary. Is all the nihilistic depressing outlooks warranted? Well, maybe Nihilistic, because nihilism is simply the absence of meaning: it holds no moral quantities whatsoever. It is a philosophy bereft of that thing we call inherent meaning. It is not the ideology of despair, but an ideology that precludes ideology: a paradox. My favorite kind.

Because paradoxes are unanswerable. They are the stuff of which god is composed. The atoms of contradiction. Those sweet freely flowing nothings that are everything’s by their very nature. An ideology that precludes ideology is ideal, because it holds no pretense at being the correct one.

Correct ideologies, are dangerous.

Correct ideologies dictate that that comma splice is evil; that semi-colons serve a specific purpose; that the rallying cry of the period is the death knell of the living sentence. That pulsating series of imperfections that dies in a little black hole at the end of time.

When an ideology is pre-supposed to be real – whichever shitty ideology it is – they all are, really – then the things that surround it are negated. The things that are not the ideology become objectively evil. It is monstrous. To make something that has no inherent meaning a bad thing. How can people be so attached to this?

Well, the reason is often comfort. It’s nice to believe that good and evil exist, that people can be bisected, bifurcated, and otherwise boxed into simplistic moral categories. That people are not composed of a series of actions, strung along a narrow conception of chaotic time; that things are categorical, that they exist as they are. That there is no need for paradox, because write and wrong are the two things that exist, and one is preferable to the other.

Fuck that.

Fuck it up its butt. Fuck all ideologies. Ideologies are fucking awful. Ideologically driven mindsets are painful and childish. They require reducing the world; putting it through photoshop, cleaning the stretch-mark scars on reality’s body. It requires that reality be modified, and altered – contrast added, curves enhanced, symmetry created – and that the rest of it be discarded. Then, when being processed into that idealized image of self, compressed, degraded, pixels removed. The warts all gone, ideology is there, beautiful, and unblemished by moral compromise. Because that’s the way it should be, Ce n’est pas?

I can’t abide such willful ignorance. I am prone to my fancies, and I am imperfect, and unqualified and unquantifiable. Reality is not attached to the circuits of meaning man constructs to comfort himself in the face of a broad, enormous, unending panoply of space, and planets and action. Reality is plural and unanswerable and all those things that make us uncomfortable.

It scares me, sometimes, when I think about the fact that we will one day cease to exist. That one day, there will be a nothing where we once were.

And, at the same time, it’s kind of beautiful.

Optimistic Nihilism. An approach to meaninglessness that I prefer. The world ends, nothing follows, let’s assume. Then every bad thing is gone, every good thing is gone. People are not real, or they are, or both, as I like think, and then we wink out, and cease, but we don’t leave, we simply change. We simply become that which is not otherwise, and it’s beautiful.

We rise and become everywhere like so many things that have already passed, and then, if this nihilistic show is oscillating, we do it again, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I fucking hate those dead, desiccated things.

So I ask, to be and not to be, that’s the question. And I don’t need an answer.

Eric Talks About: Tokyo Story (1953)

Image result for tokyo story

Kyoko: Life is dissappointing, isn’t it?
Noriko: Yes, it is.

I am not old, but I am now old enough to appreciate Tokyo Story (1953). When I had watched Ozu’s revered Magnum Opus, I was 18, I had not yet moved out of my parents house, and I hadn’t truly grown up yet. My experience was too limited. I had a taste for genre film, that has not yet truly abated, and I was more interested in the visual aspects of filmmaking – color not the least of it – than the emotional elements.

It is good that I gave this about 10 years to marinate. For a long time, I hated it. It was boring, and mind-numbingly slow. It’s tatami mat aesthetic, where the majority of shots sit at a Zazen level on the floor was redundant, and repetitive. The human portrayal of being was trite, and uneventful, and the story meant little to me.

The film, I realize now, is meditative. I have more experiences now. I am aware that I grow older, that I age, even though my mind remembers youth more clearly than it did when I was young.

For those who are not of the cineast variety, Tokyo Story is a 1953 film by Yasujiro Ozu, focused on an elderly couple visiting their children in Tokyo for a vacation. During the vacation, their children, adults, and with lives of their own have little time to care for their aging, bored parents who have little to do in the bustling city, as they approach the twilight of their lives. it is a 136 minute that feels infinitely longer, as the majority of it is shot statically, with shots that linger for too long, and much of the story moves at a measured, patient pace. Image result for tokyo story

It is a film that requires some understanding of the neuroses of Post-war japan, for certain. The sense of loss, and grief for an era that has now left, torn cruelly asunder, and seemingly forgotten amidst the modernizing, west influenced Tokyo.

Like Short Story subtle writing, those americana’s you see listed for the O. Henry prize, or shortlisted by MacArthur fellows, this film inhabits negative space, and emphasizes, to a large extent, the humanity of failure, and disappointment. These topics continue to grow in appeal for me, as the years wear on.

The characters as presented are unfailingly human. As shots linger on Shukichi Hirayama (Chishu Ryu) drinking Saké with his long suffering, but ever smiling wife Tomi at his side (Chieko Higashiyama), discussing his willfulness in youth, and his penchant for drink, one envisions that time when his hair was a deeper shade, his body not so rictus with age. One can see him coming home late at night – as he does later in the film – stumbling, with his wife sitting, thinking about all the things she could have done. All the people she could have chosen, but instead chose him, to take through life’s journey. All of it communicated by not speaking out loud. by speaking to human failings, rather than contrived ones.

It is how the human heart suffers. Instead of characters broadly announcing their existence, loudly, and succinctly, the story moves over them with a brush-stroke rich in its minimalist qualities. Instead of truly villainous children, who don’t care about their parents at all, we are given one of those low-grade ore horrors of growing up: a job, a life, children of their own. No time to spend on people. Their failings are real, and byproducts. There is no malice aforethought.

Ozu goes out of his way to humanize all the characters, making none of them anything less than human. Whether it is the Older Gentlemen shooting the shit over Saké at a bar, being escorted home by police; whether it is Noriko’s kindness masking her loneliness; or whether is their children being dutiful, and loving, but only just enough to pass the snuff: there is no villainy to be had here. Just people being people, and all those dinghy’s bumping in the night.  Image result for tokyo story

It still feels long, but different than it used to. Instead of feeling ponderous, it feels like the camera is in a Zen Buddhist posture, reciting a haiku with the syntax of its shot composition. The shots move together with seamless grace, moving form location to location, never veering from the upright lotus, simply observing, watching, being.

The emotions are pure. The water clarified by this sense of stillness. A peace that pervades the loneliness of the characters. There are no tropes being exploited, or big moments. It is all in the details, that accrue carefully over time. Each little gesture or trait being folded cross ways with another, until a latticework of humanity is presented in the origami of its characters.

In a word: beautiful.

As I move forward, getting older, not perhaps getting any wiser, but aging. As making time for people seems to become more difficult, I find myself struck by the film’s pace. It is the ever progressing nature of time. That final shot of Shukichi alone in his house, incense drifting up lazily has the elements of honesty that hit closer to home than I’m comfortable admitting.

It is one of those things that rewards rewatching, which is why, I think, I will. But at a later time, when I have gotten older. When the heart has darkened like wood because it must, and symptoms of time moving forward are in evidence.

Until I am not disappointed.

Thought and Sentence Fragments

I suppose it is rather absurd for me to lament feeling lost, considering my usual schtick.

Tonight, I am up later than intended here, in this digital expanse that is nowhere in particular. I am here because I must be, and because flexing muscles is necessary to avoid atrophy, even the ones made of neurons. I also need sentence practice.

I am, at the worst times, rather prosaic.

I recently discovered I’m fond of the word Synovial Fluid; I don’t know why. It just rolls off the tongue. It is also, evidently, the fluid in between the joints of magisterially named Phalanges…uhm, fingers, and is what causes that satisfying cracking noise, when you crack your knuckles.

Synovial has all the sexy phonemes in it: Sin, o, and vial. No tortured baby cows involved. It has a nice onomatopoeia flavor to it. Fuck, onomatopoeia is a pain in the ass to spell.

I don’t know why I do things, sometimes. Other than a need. Need is ultimately something I find incredibly interesting for incredible non-reasons. First off, what is need, really?

Need is like, this illusion we maintain, well, partly, we do need to eat and shit and shit like that. But often we don’t really think about the things we really need. We don’t just need to survive; we are human; we require multitudes of needs.

We require needs that often seem more like wants. Sometimes we need to take risks. We need to walk to the edge of a jagged cliff, a face of certain doom, and look over the edge. We need to know that that cliff is sheer, and that it entails pain. We need to know that failure is a part of a possibility when jumping off the cliff.

And we need to know that, once we step off, our wings can unfurl.

Perhaps that is overly optimistic of me. Perhaps the wings we believe are just those lies we tell ourselves to keep ourselves in the comfortable anticipation of a jump.

I’m in a very not knowing mode tonight, and I’m doubting my expressions. But I’m feeling it, regardless.

I’m just letting my thoughts go, a little bit. I hope you don’t mind. If you like James Joyce, you may even find some tangential comfort in the freeness. Or Montaigne, whom I love, despite morally opposing his central thesis of failure.

When we enter the mind, are we going to a different place? Is the internet a geographical location? Am I a bit crazy, and sleep deprived. I would argue, all of the above.

I wonder what it takes to get me to be un-self-referential, and actually go with the flow. Perhaps it takes courage, or some other unidentifiable quality of honesty that doesn’t really give a fuck, and doesn’t need to deflect uncomfortable impulses because they tickle like an open nerve ending, suppurating slightly in a sphincter of pain, but inverted. An anterior position and an exposure to light.

Emptiness of a certain variety scares me. Scares, scares, double dog dares. Witches, the scottish play; tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Perhaps peut-etre est un mot prefere; Yo, I want to get those accents down. French is beautiful and that beauty is uncreate. A verb from long ago that isn’t long ago.

Why are these public? Montaigne wasn’t genuinely wandering the corners of his mind. He was precise, needle like in perambulations. His circumlocutions weren’t circumspect. He wasn’t trying to appease some sense of ego. He was trying to capture, like the best artists, that elusive moment where the past and the future join.

What happens when I want
a haiku of beauty in
this blog of no form

But that’s not a very good haiku. Haiku is visual. It arrests the sense with delicacy and sweetness.

I wonder if Basho ever got down on himself for silly reasons. I wonder if, in composing his best 16 syllable gems, he would doubt his ability, and suddenly write a series of jokes in haiku form to calm himself. I wonder if Murasaki Shikibu had a sense of humor. She comes off as a very sad individual.

Then again, she doesn’t feel the need to sit at her desk at midnight, and type out a series of thoughts that go nowhere.

But then again, neither do I.

Free Verse

Lately, in the boston
Metropolitan area, the sky has fallen
I wish I pretended to care more.
the quiet white
Plumage pushing in clenching silence
As the world
Descends to meet it
A skyline receding
And falling ever downward
Like the wars of attrition
Fought as a last resort
In the middle of blood filled trenches
The sight of light long forgotten
The smell of soil, humus, death
A taste of the night in the air
Even in the pall-bearer grey air
Funereal and attuned
To the sum total
Of silence.


It fell from a great height
Moment, through the air
Pressure pushing patiently
Against the skin
Running along the pores to invade
Looking for those weak spaces that

Are death valley crevasse to
The city of dustmites that feel the air flow
The yaw of descent

Into stillness

A Series of Thoughts in no Particular Order

Fuck, it got hot.

There is something about summer suddenly rushing onward, without any consideration for what’s here; summer rushed because it took its sweet time getting here, wending weary ways along April showers, and somehow bypassed Le Sacre du Printemps entirely, much to my disappointment.

My mood tonight is free-jazz, and my heart is pumping sanguine beats.

I thought about Kendrick Lamar today, and my struggle to enjoy his music. It’s not that I hate him, or that I think his music is bad; actually it’s literate, rebellious and super on point. But I just don’t vibe it. And that seems to no longer be good enough. Instead of listening to a record, setting up your particular groove – whether that be a nice vinyl cut, some sweet ass-headphones open back for premium mindfulness music, or just an iPod – there is a growing lack of acceptability of just listening to a piece of music, and having no reason for liking it.

A lot of things I like are for no reason at all, which is the best reason, honestly.

I am Hindu to the bone, but man, Lao-Tzu dropped mad-truths. The universe in its requisite is straight chillin’ in the Taoism…unless you’re all up in the Upanishads, and love yourself some Brahman (not to be confused with Brahma). But Lao-Tzu’s old, accreted and untraceable ideal was the basic idea of balance, harmony, but more importantly the role of dichotomy in reality.

Because, if we’re being honest, up is down, if you look at it the right way.

If there is a reader I don’t know about, I imagine that last sentence was mighty frustratin’, so let me walk you through that particular logical conundrum.

But actually, no. that wasn’t the way
The tao cannot be quantified
And you cannot
Look through some magical
Lens of reality and suddenly
Taste the fruit of enlightenment

That’s just way too much effort, and I’m here to ramble more or less incoherently.

But in Taoism, up and down are not so much two different things, but the same thing expressed in two different ways.

If you’re heading south, you’re technically moving forward, because you are facing forward. And if your orthogonally challenged, like myself, then that means up, because metaphors.

But seriously, you only ever face one direction: the direction you are facing. and the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club; but that’s just a circular logic.

When you face that direction, that direction is always, incontrovertibly forward. It may not be the forward on the map though. You could be moving toward the southron horizon, moseyin’ along the plains and the planes are flying high above you. And you see blue sky and…wheat fields for days. In this place, forward and backward are irrelevant; only the asphalt truth of the road matters in any meaningful way.

But it’s only determined that you’ve gone backwards after the fact. The truth of it is you were walking in a forward direction – to your perception – and suddenly you realized that the direction reality was pointing was behind you.

Which, if you’re following along (and I don’t sound like a crazy person) is backward. Forward was backward, the whole time.

You took a wrong turn, and ended up on the wrong side of Minos who’s ready to wrap his tail repeatedly around himself to determine which place you gon’ end up at the end of all of this. With the fires licking your ass like some Hieronymous bosch painting.

Ok, that was trying too hard.

But my friend, my companion, the old master. He saw what I illustrated poorly: if you’re on the spectrum of existence, you’re on it. The demarcations, the delineations, the parsing out of passing particles pointing pathways polar opposite of each other are just a singular state of being. The wind knows know limits; it only knows how to blow.

And that, that’s kind of beautiful.

I wish I knew where I was headed with this, but it’s been feeling like work for so long, it’s nice to go forward, and then find myself moving in reverse, down the long forward wheat plain that occupies the space between tomorrow and the landscape of my dreams.