Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nostalgia Early Days

Nostalgia seems to be based a certain lack of awareness of one's experiences, that is, pre-narrative.  Before we apply a frame, we experience "that stuff" of life without borders.  Surely, we do have borders, but for nostalgic crooners among us (most of us), they were more porous and less intensely explicit.

Nostalgia is tricky, partially because we cannot recreate that time, especially and precisely because the notion of recreating it necessarily pollutes it.  But also because the lathe of memory is too strong for us to remember accurately.

Nostalgia is like fantasy: best kept in one's head.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sobriety In The New Year

If you've planned to give up drinking for the new year: welcome.

If you've given up drinking before: welcome.

If you have been divorced, dirty, morally challenged, and regret deeply: welcome.

When you figure out that you have to make a change and you're on the third sick day of benders: welcome.

When you give up alcohol and gain ten pounds from the counterbalance of sweets; if

you're grumpy and assholish and nasty when you can't get your fix;  and

you're smart and devilish and sarcastic and a little crazy and selfish and you have decided you know everything you can like the foolish teenagers you calibrate away from seeing clearly: welcome.

And when you decide, after your five weeks of post new year slump that being sober is a downer;

And when your friends decided that your sober self is a bit different, shall we say, from the "real" you;

And when the light bulb cannot be fished out with a half cut slice of potato;

And when the fledgling excitement is stale:

Welcome.

This is sobriety.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bespoke Ersatz

I hate myself.  I don’t mean it.  I mean I hate that I’m either only annoyed or frustrated, or isolated, alone, and depressed.  Perhaps it is the bipolar.  Perhaps it is the manic depressives that I surround myself with, my capacity to change always for the social group I’m with, my fundamental lack of self.  I am unfulfilled.  I’ll say it and scream it and flail it and bleed it or some such, and I’ll certainly not grow out of it, or so it seems at this point.  So I’m stuck with it, with me, that is, and that’s depressing since I so desperately want to break free from myself.  Which is why I drink.  Which is why I stopped drinking—the fact that I drank.  Reason enough, with my personality.  It’s just that the self blaming, self victim shit really does get old, especially when on repeat and especially when there’s no earthly reason for it.

And so.

NYC.  The ever loving having made it city.  The place where you go to become something you’re not.  A perfect place for the delusional, really.  Fuck Vegas.  We are in the mirror twisted panorama of human fantasy right here, in this little hip long island, where authenticity rages and ersatz is bespoke.   

The point is not above.  It is not the critical.  Only production matters.  And production—of anything—is quite difficult.


Try it sometime.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dear Alcoholics

Dear Alcoholics.

Those of you among us who might feel a bit of relief at the tilt of a bottle.  Those of you fight off anxiety.  Those of you who, perhaps, have a wife, and a family, that is, children, who in turn look up to you with none of the scorn that you may dish out your own reflection.  Those of you who find heat unbearable and intensity inevitable.  Who are suffocated.  Miserable.  Placated by nothing objectively good.  Who have problems with proper behavior in social situations, at parties, for instance, or in meetings at work.  Who have dreams of stature and perfection.

I have a quick little message for you.

Seeking perfection is a struggle you can't win. It won't be easy to convince others who suffer for your struggles.  Those others will suffer, regardless.  You can stop their suffering by stopping your quest.  You can find a way to compromise your ideals.  You can find a way to be flexible.  If you do not, you will be driven back to the bottle every time and you will be alone.

Being able to successfully communicate your struggles is a good step, but it is not a solution. Realize that people just don't care as much about you as you care about yourself.  Realize that you are ultimately small, and that there is no way to be big.

Time is limited.   The only thing drinking does is waste time and set the seed for delusional nostalgia.  Not all nostalgia is like this.  Not all memories are like this (wistful, and wanting for a time that once was).

You have been incorrect many times in your life, and you are, in fact, by default incorrect.  Realize this and internalize this so that you can gain humility, and interrogate everything scrupulously, never settling on easy conclusions.

Proving everything you have to prove is in essence an act of masturbation.

Prove yourself by being modest and supporting others.  You will be rewarded for it far more than you think.

Good luck!




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Figuring It Out?

How we do or don't understand what we already understand--the circumference of our knowledge, if you will--is actually a terribly difficult and hard project to start.  It is akin or parallel or even exactly the same issue of wondering whether there is ultimately any purpose to one's life, and whether there is any purpose at all.

I don't know what I don't know.  However, I am quite aware that there is a lot I don't know.  At this point, I'm even willing to say that I don't know most things.  However, that's not always a successful way to live life.  Paralyzing anxiety and dread can come out of it, and stop one from thinking straight at all.

So there's got to be some sort of leap of faith in one's own capacity to understand decipher and try to knock down the harsh complexity of the world and one's place in the world into some boxes, categories, and yes, stories.  The reduction of raw data to stories is in fact at the core of almost every discipline.  What is the story with those numbers, for instance, or with that dataset.  How do we understand it in words, even if very complex words that take years to understand?

We reduce.  Simple and plain.  The best of us recognize the reductions, and the complexity behind those reductions.  The worst of us use the reductions as reality.  Conflating the two can yield quick gain, but I'd wager that long term it is not a tenable strategy.  Deciding you understand everything just because you think you do is not, to me, the sign of what we should be aiming toward, or how we should act.  However, it is how we act most of the time.  Almost all arguments are based on someone's misunderstanding of reality, and backing away from your own misunderstanding is the hardest thing to do in the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It is OK to take things seriously, with one important caveat

You must self-correct when you're wrong, and you  must maintain blithe lightness of mind.  Difficult, when getting deeply into something, and emotionally wrapped up in one perspective on that thing.  Purposeful open-mindedness is something that is an artform, and a lot of "open minded" people are quite close-minded.  This troubles me.

But the point of the post was that it is OK to try, to make effort.

What we're scared of isn't effort, but failure, that our efforts = no result.

Even given "failure," though I would argue that there is almost always something to learn if you've made a serious effort.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Doing It, Your Own Way

If you have the right kind of confidence, doing what makes you uncomfortable can be entirely enthralling, and spur on intense creative streaks.

It isn't doing what you are scared of, and it isn't the confidence itself that forms the spine of this sentence.  It is instead the need to go through incredible amounts of repeated mistakes, and still strike forth, nestled atop a scaffolding of slowly built up and and learned increments.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Things

I had a horrible classic exchange today where "fuck yous" were exchanged.  Well, it left me shaking, weak, and full of misdirected rage.

I miss some people that I once had in my life.

There are no easy resolutions for either.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Be Here Now

Does it mean to be placid?  To forget about the assholes, the half-brain tail-gating you into the red light-filled intersection?  Does it mean that you should forget?  Be walked over?  Grow humility like other men grow balls?  Find a way to consistently turn, aggressively turn, away, behind, upside down?  Does it mean that you should forgive everything?

Or does it mean that you should purposefully castrate the planning mechanism in your brain, forget about causality and effort and strife and become learnedly helpless, but calm in that sea of non-regret, finding a paddle too much effort, because the concept of a future would be too heavy a burden to bear?

Perhaps it means a kind of non-thought.  A sucking up the pieces and molting them into a new skin kind of thought, a meta-metamorphosis, one that consumes so fully so as to invert, to churn into, and transform the utterly alien into acceptably prosaic, the banal into a kind of mystic glitter?

Whatever it is, I wonder, and spit, and keep on walking, looking only so long at the river as possible before going off to class, piecing together the fragments of myself from high school into college, wondering how those cool academics could be so goddamn cool, and emulating them with the kind of obsessive force that meant I'd do whatever it was they thought I should do, even and especially if it involved iterations of being here, now--or then.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Figuring It Out

For me, there have been many false sureties, times when I found what it all meant, and that I could be relatively secure in that knowledge, regardless of "what else" might be.

Having gone through many iterations of my "world view" and built upon and destroyed it even more, I can say for sure that nothing is certain.

Given that, I'd like to proffer a way of being: doubt.  I'd like us to doubt more.  I'd especially like us to doubt that which we are certain about, even and especially when we doubt other people and their capacity, viewpoint, or their certainty.  We may be right.  But in all likelihood we are at least partially wrong, and being partially wrong means the capacity to self-correct, to take in new information, and to all-around keep growing.  That's sort of the important structural element here: growth.  It doesn't have to be perfect and it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  It can't be, in fact.  But it is important that growth remains possible.

And certainty can actually retard growth.   Even as I write this I doubt.  For instance, perhaps doubt can retard growth, too!  And, well, that's true.  There's no sure and fast way forward, much as there is very little certainty about what forward might mean.  Forward is the start and stop, the correction, the reapplication, and the resolve to keep doing it for no other purpose than to experiment.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Don't Give Up! <> Be Realistic?

I'm not sure which one wins the day, either in the short or long run.

To temper the tension, I'd advise myself to both not give up and be realistic.

But what about when being realistic means giving up, by definition?

If you don't have unrealistic expectations, you won't be let down!

Such folk wisdom!~  Who ever said that I would be in control of my own expectations.

Seriously, most of these sayings are grounded in the idea that we have the capacity to control ourselves!  What a fanciful notion.

Still, what if we could control our emotional selves.  Which would be better?  Not giving up, or being realistic?

Which one wins, more often?

Which one wins, more often, for you/x individual?

For those that win, can we be sure that the motto was adhered to in its entirety?

I'm guessing that small level adjustments are made all the time.  But I could be wrong.  I've certainly been exposed to a lot of people that are inflexible, and guess what: their inflexibility works.  For instance, and especially, imagine some negotiation.  Even though it might not be where you want to end up, you take a certain stance precisely because you know that you will have to compromise eventually.,,  you basically bake in that assumption to your stance.  So taken on its own, you don't subscribe to what you're saying.  But taken in the expected context of other people's strategies, your strategy makes sense.

Except that they are doing the same thing: strategizing based on your expected strategy.   What if both sides started at where they wanted to end up?  Then they definitely wouldn't end up where they wanted!  So it makes sense to be extreme, given any antagonistic system.

Perhaps it also makes sense in the personal emotional realm?  For all the fanfare that "giving up the right way" -- "failing well" yields these days in ultra data policy making/personal decision making, perhaps it still makes sense to set expectations unrealistically to get where  you "really" want to be in the end.

Just makes sense to somehow remember where  you really wanted to be, when the time comes to accept something/or keep arguing.

And that part is difficult.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

All Garbage?

Imagine the worst: that your life is mostly worthless.  That you've tried incredibly hard, and that all of the effort has been rolled up into a bunch of mulch. Imagine all of the things that you deeply fear--that you fear so much you can barely conjure them  (that you are alone, in a fundamental and irreconcilable way; that the people you hold closest to you don't value you; that you are suspended in one state of career stagnation; that nothing ever changes and gets better; that shame permeates your soul).  Just let those thoughts consume you momentarily.  That you cannot control who you are.  That you lose your faculties of recognition.  That your most precious memories slowly lose their details.

Now imagine the best: that somehow, despite fuck ups and mistakes, you have not alienated everybody dear to you; that your effort has landed somewhere, and that people recognize you, and come to you for advice.  That your family loves you and looks forward to spending time with you, and that you have balanced successfully most of your needs.  Imagine that you largely control where your life goes, and that, realizing this, you made a point to be purposeful and that you have taken pride in what you can accomplish.  Imagine that brand of genuine self-respect these things can produce, that way that it infuses you and makes you stronger.

Imagine that you can be okay with your limitations.  At peace.  Without the need to prove it, or anything.