29 July 2010

Lift the Veil; See the Palm Tree Garden


What is reality? What is perspective? Relativity is preferential to attention and consciousness; what a person attends to, dictates their interest, why shouldn't reality and how it is perceived be determined by what a person is willing to accept, willing to live with. Deception is the manipulation of truth, an illusion is not fully a lie as it is a truth under a false circumstance. But what is Truth? How significant is the preservation of Truth? I am firing all these ideas almost through a tommy gun in order to keep you, the reading party, from answering any one of the questions posed. In the case of this entry it is the question itself that is of importance, not the answer. Though I do hope that we both may find answers.

If real is what you can feel, smell, taste, and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain

-Morpheus (The Matrix)

You may agree that reality is subjective, it can be interpreted many ways because of other factors that affect the perception of reality. A child and an adult perceive the world differently, the same goes for the difference between a child and a newborn. Its still the same world but factors such as memories, education, practice--in one word, experience--experience plays a huge part in how we view, interact and accept the world around us. Now one can argue, reality is set stubbornly and certain aspects will remain unaltered regardless of interpretation. For instance the color red will always be the color red. We may not all have the same name for it, we may not all even actually see the same color but we know that a stop sign and a macintosh are both the agreed concept of red. However, precisely because red is only an agreed concept of red, what is to stop someone from calling red, green? We can never know for sure if what I see as red in my mind isn't what you see as green, but still call red because you were taught that whenever you see that particular color, red is the concept that describes it externally to the world. Have I lost anyone? Lets slow down.

Imagine a camera--No imagine two color cameras, both pointed at a red square of construction paper. Now Camera A takes a picture of the red paper and then Camera B does the same. When the pictures are developed it becomes noted that wherever the color red appears, Camera A shows the color green and Camera B shows the actual color red. Now for the sake of simplicity, lets make it that wherever the color green appears, Camera A shows the color red. You would say that Camera A was a faulty mechanism but what about if the world they were taking pictures of (interpreting) was in fact black and white? Now, in a black and white world what difference does it make whether Camera A shows green whenever the concept of red is written, so long as its consistent--so long as the color green always stands in for red it doesn't matter what name you give it.

If I started calling everything I know as red, green, the only problem I would run into is confusion and disagreement when I come in contact with someone else who doesn't share this name for the concept of red. Reality therefore is nothing more than an agreement. Coincidentally, sanity is similarly defined as an agreement of what's "normal". So what is reality? Does Truth have anything to do with it? If so, then it should be said that reality is Truth.

The Truth is a slippery notion. The word melancholy is defined as low in spirits; sad; depressed but the word's etymology is broken down as the greek words melas (black) and chole (bile); black bile. Black bile in fact referred to melancholia's original medical analysis, it was thought to be caused by an imbalance in one of the four basic bodily liquids (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm). Now regardless of how close this is to today's theory of melancholia and depression in general, to be a chemical or electrical imbalance--it is not true that it is directly caused by an imbalanced distribution of the four bodily liquids. But at one point this was true, or perceived to be true. As was that the Sun and the universe revolved around the Earth, or that that very same Earth was flat. Truths can always deceive, can always be improved or discovered to be lies. Todays lies can become tomorrow's truths, how are we to determine which are which? But regardless of our ability to identify Truth it should still exist. Think of a time when you told the truth but no one believed you, it doesn't matter that they (the majority) disagree with the truth, it is still true. Or does it matter?

If the universe is said to be infinite, then where do possibilities end? I'd say in such a universe there is just enough room for every possibility, at least once. With that in mind, what is the truth of reality? Its whatever helps you understand the universe as you've built it to be comprehensible to yourself. Or, its whatever helps you understand the universe as others have built it to be comprehensible to yourself, in agreement with others. Human brains are only utilized by 10% this isn't a mistake, 10% is all we need to survive and reproduce; anything in excess of 10% might interfere with that natural design. So there's 90% of a universe you don't perceive yet naively we can say we recognize a truth.

The truth is we know nothing, and the ever-expanding universe takes anything we think we know and pulls it apart through time and space, so what's a fact one second has the potential to be a farce the next.

But there is perspective and there is experience; these things are gathered internally and interpreted. Note that they may also be expressed but once again, it becomes lost in the interpretations of others with different perspectives and experiences than you, the expresser.So even the agreement of ideas is questionable as people form different impressions of expressions, however subtle or conscious they are to the fact. But perspectives and experiences do exist. What's to stop a person from living a fantasy? The answer is other people. We are social through thousands years of behavior, culture, and the practical fact that we (humans) are so many, that we can't really avoid one another. Even if we could avoid people for a lifetime we at least need a member of the opposite sex with which to reproduce, or a mother to give us birth. When we create something we need to see it reflected, we need assurance that it is real, so a painting, a symphony, a cake, a script, by its creator is usually let out into the world to be seen, and seen--the world will view a reflection of the creation's creator. So if we made a fantasy world, I bet we'd want at least one person to agree with it, to assure us that it isn't a fantasy.

Its not just a fairy tale thats written by me;

Its not just a loneliness between you and I--

If on magic mountain you find you can breathe

then stay, don't look back, to the blue woven sky

-Pink Love by Blonde Redhead

This finally leads me to one of the questions from above. How significant is the preservation of Truth? The truth is, that the Truth is very worth preserving when it's your Truth, when its essential to your universe and how you find comfort in experiencing it. It just so happens that many truths are agreed upon but every once in a while a radical notion appears that threatens "normalcy" that changes reality from one second to the next, as the universe expands. Living in a fantasy isn't bad so long as it isn't escapism--it has to be a truth, it has to be a reality. Your perspective and experience has to be able to test the boundaries of your fantasy and find it authentic, find it workable and able to assimilate itself to build new logic and physics within this universe.

I'll stop by reminding you that our universe is mostly unknown. The more we discover, the more questions arise; this entry is meant to be full of questions, even the postulated answers should inspire questions, either from you or myself when I return to read what I've written.

28 July 2010

Tie This Truth Round My Ankles Like a Rock, As I Go For A Swim


He asked, when did you get back into the city? She was quiet for a moment and then, "I never really left," that surprises him; he was waiting for a story--even a brief one told by a disdainful shrug. "I just said that 'cause I wasn't interested in seeing you."

They're walking down a street, its moderately warm but cool in comparison to the last few days. He feels like her voice changed--like its become plain with just the skeleton of words, nothing more. She finally glanced at him, curiously.

"You really are something else," he sighs. "You could've just lied. I mean why put it like that, so dry"

"What are you talking about?"

"Like, the way you said it...its just--"

"Dry? Nothing's 'dry' I don't even know what that means in context to what I told you." He hated how clear she was, how unaffected. Meanwhile his heart jerked, like a nervous mouth chewing thick steak.

"Its cold, like you're closing up all of a sudden--"

"I'm not closing up--"

"I'm just saying to make it a point to be so hard about it--"

"What? You want me to lie? I'm not gonna lie--its too much effort." He didn't know what to say and couldn't form words over the memories that flushed in his mind, like a stampede mixing into an audience of numbed emotions. Is she serious? Where is this coming from? What the fuck is happening? He felt tested, as if this was all a show to get a rouse out of him--She thinks I'm not gonna say anything and just walk her to her train, understanding where she's coming from.

"Its almost insulting that you told me the truth, its like you don't care." She didn't say anything to that until he was just about ready to repeat himself.

"its not that."

"What?" She wasn't speaking loud enough.

"I said its not that. Its just easier, the truth is effortless, with no weight--you don't have to hold anything up, you just let things..." She gestured ambiguously with her hands. "as they are."

"I'd rather be lied to." He snapped.

She laughed almost through a gasp, "why?" It seemed she found the notion comedic. Shaking her head and staring forward at the oncoming city.

"It harder, thats why. Its more of a thing to show you care."

"Show I care, by lying?" Her tone was biting.

"Sure," they stopped by a park bench. "Like, for my feelings--" he was starting to feel really stupid. "You can be subtle, postpone the truth until you can slowly take me there lie by lie."


"Lies aren't all bad--" She shook her head and groaned incredulously.

"I don't know." She wanted to say, but they're lies; what the fuck are you going to get out of something you know isn't true? But he was sensitive, his voice was shaky, he looked like he was shrinking and it seemed the more she responded to him the worse she made it for him. Why doesn't he just get angry and leave. She very much wanted him to.

"Do you care at all about me?" He almost didn't say it. He's had it in mind to say for the last 2 minutes. She doesn't even want to look at him, why is he asking me this, she wonders.

After an expended sigh she says, "we don't even know each other--not well, at least." Her voice was beginning to return; her words were dabbed in adhesive flesh.

"Lie to me, then. Thats exactly why you should lie to me--we don't know one another. Its all the show right now--its the best its gonna be between us, right now! So just lie to me, I want to know what it feels like when you try--when you're scared of what the truth can do, or how I'll react to it."

She broke out, "what are you talking about? You sound ridiculous--Do you know what you sound like? Do you hear yourself? Does it make sense to you? I don't want to deal with this, don't you get it?" She lowered her voice, "lie to you? Really? For what? I have..." I have no interest, is what she almost said. "Nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I have nothing to lie about, I have nothing to be scared about. Truth is the truth. I'm not scared of what it can do. Clearly I'm not interested or moved by you in a way that you could cause that effect in me."

"Because you don't care to impress me."

Did he say that? She was speechless for a second and started to laugh but stopped. As if the shaking of her head tossed the humor out of the moment.

"Do you really want me to? To lie, to force myself for your benefit. Who the fuck are you?! If you care about me, which I believe you don't, how could you, by only knowing me for a couple of nights, not even dates, just nights--but even if by some shitfuck of a chance you genuinely did care for me why would you force me to do something against my own better judgement. Do I not have judgement? Am I an idiot, that you have to advise me on how I should react to you--ignoring my own mind and instinct." He could tell she was finally bothered. His blood, he felt it boil inside him, rushing up to his head as she continued. "And you can't take what I've given you and be content; Lie to you? I lied to you when I said I was going to be away, I lied to you by trying to stay quiet and let you talk your peace and bounce but none of that is generous enough for you--you want me regardless of what I want. How could you even dare to think you care about me?"

because I don't care to impress you? She repeated in her head. He stared at her even when she looked away. So this is who you really are. It was like they both thought the same thing at the same time.

25 July 2010

Sunny Evening After a Rain

I went to the kitchen and opened a window, saw the evening approach. I thought it beautiful, all the greens, like a population of one color, with a million subtle tones, differences that glowed and like names called out to themselves against the backyard gardens. They said, "here", like an offered hand were raised to me from below. I know I should take the offering and share it, write it and make it into something that you could use, that you could hold under caps and shells that preserve the moment in whatever form or shape I decide to give it. But its so wonderful and the longer I stay the less I'll be able to give you. Its one of those moments of poetry where its too good to take with me, I can't bother it and bottle it, I have to leave it alone and just watch it, because its already a poem. Its already finished.

24 July 2010

Take Me to the End, With Love

John Berger is an old friend. I've never met the man other than in his writing. The Shape of a Pocket, back in 2003 was our introduction. I was tempted to write "our one-sided introduction," but that would insult the esteem in which I place the man's work. To engage John Berger's writing is simultaneously, to make it alive and active--to read an essay is to have the essay read you. Always insightful, there isn't much reason why you shouldn't interview your response right after reading anything Berger finds purpose in attending to in words.

Today I purchased Hold Everything Dear Dispatches on Survival and Resistance, meant to be a post-9/11 voiced analysis of terrorism and despair. The very first piece is titled Twelve Theses on the Economy of the Dead. The title is very much the description. The following is the twelfth theses:

12. How do the living live with the dead? Until the dehumanization of society by capitalism, all the living awaited the experience of the dead. It was their ultimate future. By themselves the living were incomplete. Thus living and dead were interdependent. Always. Only a uniquely modern form of egoism has broken this interdependence. With disastrous results for the living, who now think of the dead as eliminated.

Before continuing on, I would like to bring notice to the 75th passage in Ted Kaczynski's Industrial Society and its Future (more commonly referred to as, The Unabomber Manifesto). In it, Kaczynski suggests that due to the modern substitution of challenging biological activity in man, for biological activity that is either not challenging enough or unreasonably challenging to the point of near impossibility--modern man suffers from unfulfillment, as he cannot securely control his own life. This desirable possession of one's own life is what Kaczynski terms The Power Process. In brief, the power process is stifled by Industrial Society which simultaneously pampers its citizens while leaving them powerless against laws and moral codes which they must obey or observe harsh consequences. It is in passage 75 that Kazcynski ushers our attention to the interesting parallel between modern and primitive man; namely how primitive man--due to his experience of the power process, was better able to cope with death, while modern man is always in need of more time, wishing to prolong death, and seeking constant means to legacy and immortality.

75. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage. A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for the fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food...This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family. (In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of "fulfillment". We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process--with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.) Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process of providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death. Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they never put their physical powers to any use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way. It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had any practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.

Is unfulfillment part of our modern egoism? Included among the unfulfilled are artists, celebrities, scientists, and scholars, anyone who is obsessed with their work as a mean to find purpose in their life and perhaps leave behind an accomplishment that immortalizes them. Is our vanity based on fear? If so, it would appear that we have successfully fooled ourselves into believing that a longer, healthier life full of accomplishments and global experience is the key to a happy death (even though we'd rather avoid death altogether if we can help it). It is true that we view death as a disease that science could eventually cure. Yet, without an end, how could we ever complete a life? Is there a way to turn back to primitive life? Once the wheels turn forward I wouldn't think it logical to turn back; but what is a prospective possibility is the reintroduction of death as a part of life, a part not to be feared; but to accomplish this means to break free of certain restrictions placed by society's conformist control over the masses. However, breaking free should carefully not lead us back to primitive life, instead utilize an aspect of it to move us forward. The future should be a reintroduction of a past success, incorporated into the present to invest in a maximized possibility for a future.

The Wax Wings of Transhumans

To Fall with Grace, Not From It

The myth of Icarus is one that I've had as of late, very freshly circling the focus of my thoughts. The story resonates what to me, is an ongoing truth since the creation of this particular myth. When considered analogously, the story cannot escape certain parallels to the relationship between Technology and Man. In this aspect, we are that creature that will fly too close to the Sun, regardless of how good a thing we possess, we will carelessly push passed the boundaries and destroy even ourselves in the name of Innovation.

In brief, Daedalus is an inventor who develops wings of feathers held together by wax. He and his son, Icarus take the wings on a test flight, each with their own pair. On land, Daedalus warns Icarus to avoid flying too high, as the sun will melt the wax and cause the wings to come apart. All goes well in the air but soon Icarus becomes more and more intoxicated with the sensation of flight and ignores the previous words of his father. Icarus flies higher and higher and the sun, sure enough, melts the wax and eventually Icarus' wings come apart and he falls into the end of his life.

Cloud through cloud, ending in a death-pounding plunge into the Icarian Sea, Icarus fell. He could not contend himself with flight--an achievement in itself so marvelous that following his father, Daedalus's instructions or precautions would have proven alone, a reward. The reward of flight. True freedom of the air as the birds have long before obtained and reveled. But Icarus took advantage, saw an opportunity and decided to withdraw the most he could from the experience. Of course, he paid with his life, yet when he flew--Good God, how he flew! It could never be said in comparison to Daedalus' flight, that Icarus failed. In fact, of the two it was certainly Icarus who flew. Freely, with the confidence and command of a natural avian, something winged and biologically earned. That is the truth of Icarus' flight; while Daedalus remained a human flapping wax wings safely and thereby remaining alive, surviving his son.

Taking this myth and applying to it, one of the current and more obvious areas of human ingenuity, I find myself faced with a conflict. I am conflicted because upon reflection to Man's daring and creative spirit, I at times feel like a Daedalus rather than that plunging, screaming, wingless man falling his last seconds of life away. And I confess myself to slight disagreement with some of the transhuman/futurist sensibilities that have accompanied technological advancement in the relatively recent years. Before further diving into my conflict, let us take a moment to consider the wax wings of Daedalus and then, the wax wings of Man, Technology.

It is after all, nothing short of true to call Daedalus' wax wings a technology. Daedalus himself, known for his ability as a master craftsman, was a master engineer. Earlier, long before his son set down into the depths of atmosphere and water, Daedalus had designed the labyrinth for King Minos to trap the Minotaur. He was developing technology for flight, human flight--though biology would much disagree as it would with fish covered in fur. Despite the biological friction it may at times create, Technology is not the enemy--isn't even as harmful as it is helpful. Tools are helpful by definition and their utilitarian contributions have helped to in turn, define Man as a tool making/using animal. Craftsmanship also produces good; dams, windmills, and sewage pipes are fine examples of very innovative technologies that have withstood the test of time since their respective debuts. Since then, the light bulb, telegraph, typewriter, airplane, elevator, radio, television, cellphone, internet, maglev trains, atom bombs, an so on...We live in an age of information, of exponential possibilities, what Ray Kurzweil calls, The Law of Accelerating Returns states, technological change is exponential...we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century--it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). Indeed Singularity (when machines converge in sophistications to match the conscious human brain) is near!

And there my friends, is when the Sun breathes too close and we heed not the previous warnings or the consequence of flying farther and faster with wax wings. In the myth, I side with Icarus. I side with the idea that no limits should hinder experience; that Man must push beyond, regardless of what consequence may result. Even if we expire ourselves in the process, we've at least lived our age to its fullest and possibly, most dangerous potential. This being my stand, one would furrow their brow to see me swiftly morph into a scolding Daedalus when Transhumanism is brought up. My position hypocritically changes. I believe, for a very valid purpose. It all lies in the aspect of mortality in the transhumanist sensibility--it seeks to extend life, indefinitely if it could be managed. I find human immortality, a perverse notion, one for which a pair of wax wings does not match as a congruent analogy.

That is my conflict. Humans must evolve but death must never become extinct. It is because of an emotional reaction that I cannot face what rationally is a sound analogy--wax wings do very much correspond with Transhumanism. A man with wings is just as perverse a notion as a man with infinite life. But since I am far removed from the Icarus myth, because in the present it no longer issues forth the same impact as when the story was originally told--we can assume that part of the story's original thrill was applying to Man domain over an unnatural and therefore exotic technology--because since the time of wax wings so many exotic technologies have been introduced and practiced, if followed linearly into the present, Transhumanism is almost a natural conclusion to wax wings. So in this logic, there is no difference between wax wings and transhumanism. And still I am a practical Daedalus who can agree with using technology to advance our senses and experience of the world, while Icarian engineers see a new playground, a new opening to peek through the eyes of a god--a blind creator.

Try as I will I cannot be upset with the Icaruses of my time because there is no separation. There is no division of Man, where this side is Icarus and the other Daedalus. Man is a unified experience of the Universe, what one man creates, all Man creates; what one man is bound to practice, all Man is bound to exercise. There is only the collective representation. So it is logical that I include myself as part of that Icarus that happens to be 21st Century Man. Elemental as I am to this 21st Century Icarus, one can see why I understand. I can pardon the reasons--Reasons, which I feel need not be apologized for in the first place--but I mourn. I prepare myself for that fall. I mourn for everything that came before that dawning descent, all the heights and cleverness that lead to the creation of wax wings. I mourn for that falling creature who flew too close to the Sun; who had a good thing before becoming curious about what was just beyond, farther and higher. Unsatisfied with following his father--Taking in the full experience right up until falling, spending his last seconds being swallowed into his death by gravity.

23 July 2010

What the Hell Am I Doing Here? I Don't Belong Here


Most people are bored. They want excitement and adventure; they want someone with an imagination who, not only thinks outside the box, but goes on to create his own boxes--repeatedly. The daily entanglements of responsibility and commitment may become a burden overtime and a need for escape may be found to be desirable. In many long-term relationships, boredom from routine is what leads to infidelity. Yet routine is a major factor in stability--things are the most stable when the sense of surprise is absent, when things are predictable and known. Stability and security are indeed that strongest rational selling points of Marriage (love being the prime irrational). So the reason for a serious relationship may become, by its own success, the reason for an affair.

People are drawn to the strange, the weird, the extraordinary, dangerous and care-free. If these people are daring enough, they attach themselves to these vivid individuals who brighten their lives and add to it, an unknown corner of suspense, surprise, a reminder that the universe is random. However, what is perceived as strange, is normal to the stranger--what one accepts as weird, is only natural to the weirdo. This leads to a misunderstanding between the two, the bored and the thrill provider--one that usually isn't addressed at the beginning of the meeting, whether it be an affair or casual, sexless friendship. The stranger does not consider himself strange, he doesn't see anything he practices as thrilling as a person would, who thought the behavior different from their concept of normal. I feel that an exploitation occurs when strangers are made use of by "bored normals". Of course, it cannot be denied that strangers are getting something out of the experience too, but in the case of an affair that gets too deep--a sad conclusion awaits the attached stranger who's been used.

No person is just one thing. Identity is not a solid block summed in a word, or just one action. Definitiveness is only acquired through death, while alive, a person is a compilation of emotions, of personalities, interests, reactions, and so forth--all converging into a system that creates a general application of these facets onto the external world experience. The point may be to narrow one's self down into a definition or grace, but during the process there exists and will exist for much longer--until the end, multiplicity. So when a stranger is left alone, drained and stranded with a full heart in an empty room, it may not come all at once that the newly disinterested party was never truly 100% herself. She was only satisfying one facet.

The stranger feels invaded, he feels like a circus where one may visit and forget their troubles--orphan their matters on the noses of seals that toss them effortlessly into basket hoops for a laugh and some fish. He feels awkward about his strangeness as its something that, unlike the spectator, he cannot get rid of, as its part of who and how he is. His normalcy is the strangeness that is only good for temporary amusement and nothing more. His routine is his anti-routine. Unfortunately this is unstable foundation onto which no serious relationship may ever be built. That is, so long as the intrigue that befalls him from others is based on mystery and a remedy for boredom.

19 July 2010

We All Need Mirrors to Remind Ourselves Who We Are

What's coming through is alive.

What's holding up is a mirror.

But what's singing songs is a snake

Looking to turn my piss to wine.

If there is a mirror, I will more than likely look. I want to make sure I'm there, I want to see what's changed since the last time--or is it, that I want to note continuity, I want to make sure that I see the same thing on this glass surface that I saw on that glass surface. I am vain and self-involved, I twist and pose, adjusting the image until I see in my reflection, a close enough representation of what I want to see.

From moment to moment, paranoid I have disappeared or physically altered between glances, I crave to see myself--over and over, desperately through as many surfaces as I can stretch my body over simultaneously. I want to witness the moment I change--I want to direct and act; i want to edit myself, steer away any unfavorable second that introduces an alien interpretation. An ideal self has been programmed into my perspective; and to find anything foreign to that direction is to detect a harmful bacteria in the body of Identity.

What is this self-obsession? Beyond self-value and confidence, its the worship of insecurity. And what happens when mirrors stop being glass? Surely as all obsessions escalate--and certainly as the obsession itself is for reflection not reflective surfaces, new methods of seeing oneself come into practice. What are friends? When made to bounce your personality onto them and back to you? When they indirectly manipulate your identity in ways, favorable to you--When through them you become as you want to be known. What are expressions of writing, painting, music, and film, dance and invention--mirrors. We place them up high for all to see, but especially ourselves. As soon as we build the frame and marry the glass into its cage, we fall right into the assurance of existence. The immeasurable welcome of a self-modeled, self-promised portrait. By a near perfect painter and with the final glaze of a bias perspective, that of our own.

18 July 2010

To Become or Not To Become


There is a difference between who I want to be and what I feel I am becoming. It is a difference that like a cancer, can be avoided if detected early enough--I do believe it is early enough. But aside, in third person is where I push myself and the actions that can iron the creases and make the surface smooth, without a single wrinkle.

There is friction between who I am and where I am heading. Two futures at war for my life; I am already aiding the champion and with very little regret do I betray the defeated. Walking forward as it were, into a shrinking suit--that when worn, continually contracts and suffocates the skin; the collar becomes a noose and every step, a constricting evolution.

There are dreams, and they are gulfs, flying waves of vultures and ever-descending passions, instincts, and fears. Behind the flesh of Identity, we find building complexes, apartment networks--we find inhabiting memories, all with their very own sets of purpose and motive. There is direction, there is deceit and in a very natural, self-preserving hatred for possibility, there is assurance. And there is my fear that who I am becoming--regardless of my preference, is a mechanism, everyday perfecting itself so that certainty may one day be its skeleton, a frame on which to decorate its organs into a full functioning body. My brain like a board room for executive memories that have long since collected into cells and become independently bacterial, I would not be able to overrule.

17 July 2010

In Hopes that an Idea is Planted

Now you're looking for the secret but you won't find it because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.

Inception was released in cinemas this past Friday and after work, I made my way with faithful direction to Loews Kips Bay Plaza. I was ejected from my 8 hours at 4PM and arrived in time to catch the 4:50 showing. After what seemed like the longest collection of stalling coming attractions, the Warner Bros. trademark finally appeared and the film began.

I'm not here to talk about the film--this isn't a review. If you expected one from me, as I myself am guilty of having expected one, then I'm apologizing to you when I say, "I don't know how to review Inception just this moment." I walked out the cinema speechless (after just sitting in the theatre watching the closing credits). I didn't know what to say or what to think. The film wasn't what I expected but I was a far cry from being disappointed. I just couldn't express it, neither with word nor thought. And if it wasn't for my running into a friend on the subway commute home, I might've spent most of the evening tucked inside the numbness of silent analysis.

Christopher Nolan has been, since Memento, one of my favorite active directors. His films invite you to return for a second viewing; they are sophisticated, entertaining films that have been since 1998, attempting to balance sensory stimulation with psychological substance. I have seen every last one of his seven films but the first was Memento back in either '02 or '03, a few years after the film was originally released. Since then, I have viewed all of his films various times and spending much a thought, employed to analyzing them. Certain elements can be noted as part of Christopher Nolan's film language--elements, such as well-dressed men in suits, dead wives or family members, and guns tend to reoccur. Other elements, like the repetition of key lines, plot twists, themes of obsession, deceit, and duality are among the signature stamp that identifies Nolan's work.

So instead of talking about Inception, I will talk about its creator--the man who planted the idea, Christopher Nolan. But before I do, let me just further add to the experience of watching Inception.

There is a scene in Nolan's 2006 film, The Prestige, where Robert Angier (played by Hugh Jackman) has just returned from witnessing his professional rival, Alfred Borden perform his latest magic trick, The Transported Man. The scene jumps back and forth from Angier's description to his assistant, Olivia--to Angier sitting and watching Borden (played by Christian Bale) performing the puzzling illusion. Angier is spellbound; his demeanor, deflated by what he's just experienced. This is what I felt after Inception. And the more I am asked what the film was like and the more I think about it on my own--I find it easier or necessary to return to The Prestige. That said, I will constantly refer to The Prestige here, as it helps me to understand what a film like Inception, must mean to Christopher Nolan.

Though revolving around magic, The Prestige can also be about the aesthetics of entertainment. And since Christopher Nolan is in the business of entertainment, it is quite interesting to note the parallels between illusionists and film directors. Parallels that involve primarily, deceiving the audience and concept vs. style. The fact that the story structure to the film is modeled after an illusion, with a pledge, a turn, and finally a prestige, should be some indication as to Nolan's conscious recognition that his film about magic can also hold up in context to the art of filmmaking. To fool the audience, to have them lost in the story--guided whichever way you choose as the director, this among other things is the director's job. Likewise, in delivering such a story, the director faces decisions that may at times place concept before style or style over concept. To be a good shows-man vs. a natural magician. To name a quick example with budget, one can think of movies that have a good story but not enough money to make it as grand of a visual experience, or vise versa--a film with a great budget but weak concept or story (this is the majority of mainstream big budget films).

There is one major difference between Memento and Inception but both also have one key thing in common. Memento was the last original script Christopher Nolan wrote until Inception. The major difference by the way, is budget. It could be true to say that Memento is an example of what Nolan can achieve on a small scale (with magnificent effectiveness, if I might add); Inception is what Nolan can achieve on the success of The Dark Knight's record breaking $155.34 million opening weekend. I can almost hear an executive meeting taking place in the Warner Brothers Studio office, a cypher of business men discussing projects and when Nolan's name is brought up--"Wait, what? He wants to work on a sci-fi film about what? He won't say?! You know what...Fuck it! Just be sure to bill it as coming from the director that brought us The Dark Knight...I'm sure its gonna be confusing as hell and people are going to watch it twice. I don't care if its a baby saying blood for two hours while his parents laugh at him, Nolan knows how to present it!"

I'm sure they weren't that confident about him as an artist but I at least am willing to bet they trusted the demand for Nolan's work after The Dark Knight.

Going back to Memento and Inception, what I start to wonder about is, how long has Inception been an idea of Nolan's? How has every film since Memento been evolutionarily instrumental to the production of Inception? How has Inception (if the story is in fact an idea that dates back far enough) been influential in determining what projects Nolan has involved himself in since Memento? Questions, and I have not the answers. But one significant clue in The Prestige calls to me. The Transported Man. Alfred Borden's precious illusion which requires risk and sacrifice, an illusion which Borden saves until he has enough resources to make it work. Inception is Christopher Nolan's Transported Man.

Yet, as Alfred Borden was a natural magician and Robert Angier, a supernatural performer--The Prestige is almost an allegory about the conflict between these two forces, with magic meant to represent Entertainment. So if Borden is a natural magician, then his trick cannot be as extravagant as Angier's--It would be more accurate, when returning from the analogy that, Memento is Christopher Nolan's Transported Man. Inception would then be, in fact, the end result of Borden becoming Angier. Or better still, both Borden and Angier meeting half-way to become one. This is what Christopher Nolan has brought to us with Inception. A film which balances action and idea, muscle and brain--It has its share of special effects but these elements do not invade or dominate the film--but rather, accompany the concept and narrative; altogether creating a style. For fear of jumping into a review I am not ready to deliver, I will begin to wrap things up.

As Nolan's career is really only beginning, I can only enthuse on the anticipation of things to come from this mentally engaging storyteller. Especially now that he is at a point where he can make a "financially generous" film; projects with budgets that allow his grasp to exceed his imagination. Brainy films are usually reserved for independent markets, or are cast aside from the shadow of summer blockbusters (which Inception, make no mistake definitely is). When we get into action films, "brainy" substance seems even less likely to appear in a major film. I hope this sets an example, rattles the cages, inspires risks to be taken; I hope escalation occurs and rival studios take chances on films of higher intellectual quality, to compete with one anothe--all for the indirect benefit to viewers like me.

12 July 2010

An Undisturbed Moment: Great White Quilt

Huge herds of small clouds from either side of the heavens taper into the distant center; where the bruise of a sunset bleeds light stains onto clusters of bandaging cotton swabs. From either side of the heavens, retreating forward from behind me, as night leans its blue hues into shade. From either side, retreating as night stretches and begins to articulate. Into the distant center, compact expression, accumulated wrinkle, like great white quilts balled up into the mouth of a washing machine--Great White Quilts that can't all fit, into the cleansing light that fades away minute by minute.

Huge herds of small clouds from either side of the heavens converge at the agreement of a bruised center. They pace the sky, slowly, patient, with romance they draw faces to one another fusing into a kiss, exchanging shapes. A colony of one giant organ, an unbroken dream. From either side of the heavens, shoving steadfast into the echoing light the sun leaves behind, as she exits. Herds of blooming clouds that wish to leave with her, trying as they might to all squeeze into the sun's reverb.

Night continues to push forward from behind me, from either side of the heavens--the corners, darken like wet cloth--The stampede, rushing desperately with microscopic urgency; fractional speed. And its very well that many of the swelling herd will indeed find haven--one last embrace from the sun, carrying an armful with her, pressed against her breast as she leaves the day for good. Its very well indeed for some, but most will remain where they are--Where the wound of a sunset, is licked by the salty saliva of evening, and the bleeding gash of light, scabs and then heals. Night washes over the cool, new skin with breeze and mystery.

Huge packs of large clouds, full elephants trading bodies in mid-air, from either side of the heavens the herds are breaking apart. They disperse with tension and futility, embarrassed as they float about, realizing they're stranded. They have been abandoned--Great White Pillows facing the same golden door, now shut. Orphans, they perhaps begin to adapt--inspire influence from the reaching caresses of night's heavy palms, they sigh one last breath of day before turning round, with their backs to the scar where the bruise of sunlight once stood.

09 July 2010

The Diameter of Your Knowledge is the Circumference of Your Activity


Among some of my favorite feelings, Accomplishment is one of the top-ranking. Very few things feel better than finishing that which you have begun, that which you've labored towards completing; placed time and thought into achieving in its end, a closure or conclusion. I place high value in being able to close a project and say, with a deep sigh of satisfied relief, "I'm done!" And what's more, to say those two words knowing I didn't rush, didn't lie or cheat, didn't cut corners just to accelerate the status from "in progress" to "complete". Standing at that finish line with a final product that, borderline fascinates me--Almost makes me forget I had anything to do with it, I thoroughly enjoy opening the doors to the end. And since my self-fascination merits self-completion; and since that self-fascination feels quite favorable, my brain encourages any repetition of the euphoria it experiences during these self-indulgences. My brain likes it when I like myself, and thinks, "okay, he likes finishing things; well then, lets finish some more..." Its that simple, or at least it starts off that simple.

Completing what I start introduces to me, two friends who have helped me move forward through the years. Indeed, these two friends are responsible for any artistic progression I am capable of. They are Consistency and Definition and together they dually support the giant battery in my heart labeled Confidence. I am dearly indebted to them. While Consistency supplies volume, Definition provides substance. They, the two, are singular agents as well as binary; working together just as well as apart. Consistency produces a body of work from which Definition begins to rise; likewise, Definition encourages the self-intrigue that further increases the need to produce more work. In terms of blog writing, every entry I publish gives me such a good feeling of accomplishment that I immediately want to write and publish the next entry. When enough entries are published, I like to enjoy them as a collection and examine their strengths as well as their blind spots. I also like to note the maturation of my voice, the way my written expressions evolve from entry to entry--For better or worse, I learn about myself.

I like to think of a conveyor belt as a possible setting for an analogy of Consistency. Its a moving platform, loads are placed onto it and taken forward in direction. Consistency, like the conveyor belt, wants to help you; wants to maximize your efficiency and productivity. Mainly, to get as much loads transferred successfully, from starting point to ending. Returning to the subject of writing, Consistency is my cheerleader--Seeing a conveyor belt full of essays, blogs, letters, expositions, reviews, etc., becomes a sort of catalyst for loading more onto the belt. This as a reaction to the pressure removed as you've not to carry these loads by hand and back. In the possible analogy, this manual transferal would equate to writer's block or procrastination and distraction. What I mean to say is, Consistency is a resourceful friend that favors constant creativity, while with Consistency's absence, disinterest is encouraged by writer's block and distraction.

When a load finally arrives at the end of the conveyor belt, prepared, priced and ready to join its contemporaries out on the salesfloor, its journey has been completed. Each step of the preparation, this would include such things as pricing and inventory processing, are quick stops that transform raw wholesale materials, into finished retail goods.

This transformation can be said to be, if looked at from result first and then back, a defining; a process of giving the load that which will come to provide it its identity. As a soldier who's sole identity is strictly recognized as being a soldier, his earlier days at boot camp training and assimilation were the days that defined him--that gave him his current meaning as a soldier. So it is with finished goods, that the process it underwent before reaching the salesfloor is what defined the product as a purchasable item--And to finally nake the idea from over-accesorized analogies--so is it, that Consistency supplies Definition with something to define.

To define something is a completion all on its own. Understanding the meaning--the concept, the various ideas or symbols that merge to become a Voltron of concise analysis--Thus, definition is the end result of examination. It is also the end result of learning, which isn't too far off from an examination. To know a subject is to define a subject; and what better and ever-altering subject than yourself for examining is there?

Finishing anything awards a quality to that "anything"--A quality of being finite, bordered in a clear frame of perhaps, not comprehension but available solidity. I say "available" in that, every portion of the intended product is there, solid and permanent. However, not necessarily rigid in shape or form. What a finished product in Art may appear as could be a box, onto which an entire jig-saw puzzle is placed. When every piece is in the box, the product is complete--it is now up to the viewer to construct the image, piece by piece, all of which are available.

It is this available solidity that can be successfully examined. There is no such thing as internal expression, you cannot express a feeling by keeping it locked up, unreleased. Expression requires, to some degree, tangible proof, tangible presence--available solidity. Expression is the available solidity that allows us to self-examine ourselves, and in some cases as mine, to become fascinated with ourselves. And whatever it is that we are working to become, through expression we can see the pieces of definition align themselves. From stage to stage, the process, if consistent--provides further and further expressions, available solids to examine. At the end, awaiting our definition, our meaning, is the identity--which an entire life worked to define.

Feeling accomplished is like a preview, a window to glance through and say to yourself, "oh, so this is how far I've gotten" after long intervals of being unconscious to the fact. I can't speak for everyone on this but anything I start, any projects, any plans or schemes--at their commencement they are given an unspoken promise of completion. If ever I leave things undone, and this has happened countless of times, in fact more often than I complete them--If ever I cannot make good on that promise, I am haunted by all the unspoken accusations found in the Silence of the Unfinished. I try to avoid these accusations because they tend to be heavy, you have to carry them down the long corridor and your arms shake with protest. The conveyor belt being beside you, yet you've been denied access simply because you cannot lift your arms high enough to load the weight onto the belt. This isn't a good feeling and after weight after weight, your arms refuse the ability to even lift a load up from off the ground. Abandoned by Consistency, Definition, Confidence...

Luckily, moments occur when my friends and I are at our prime. We celebrate any and every accomplishment in as long as it maintains a point of origin and a counterpoint of conclusion. We feel at home in this state, we feel ready to participate, perpetually with or against Life and all its offered days. With or against, because Life doesn't care what side you're on so long as you participate. And Life is just one giant Participation Field of days--Days of experience knotted together; awaiting, the consistent fingers of definition, to be untied.