Archive for September, 2006

You’ve got to be kidding

September 24, 2006

Novels and movies – shit, there wasn’t anything new there for him. Nothing he could add to what he was already doing that might help him. He would just keep on reading and watching, like same as he ever had.

Underneath novels and movies was another entry on the list, with a question mark –


Blogs – refuge of those interested in experimental rhetoric, or political discussion, or narcissicm.

He actually had been reading blogs for some period of time before this. After a while he tired of them. They were so vacuous, like a spider web. Reading them was like mining through mountains of shit, until you found a vein of ore, something half-worth reading.

From what he had read of blogs, was it possible through them to satisfy his craving for authentic experiences? Highly doubtful. He would have better luck in fiction. Was there some other plug-in function for which they could compensate? Could they boost his empathy? With the amount of vitriol and poor rhetoric, not likely.

He rummaged around for a pen, and drew a line through the word “blogs?”.

“Memory Intake” was the first main item on the list. What was next? “empathy exercise”. There was nothing under it. Stephen rested his elbows on the bed, his jaw on his hands, stuck the pen in his mouth, and thought. He rested his cheek on one hand and with the other wrote underneath, “volunteering”.

A part of his mind stopped dead in its tracks. You have got to be fucking kidding. We just aren’t the kind of person that volunteers. We’re too selfish.

Well maybe that needs to change. Maybe that is what needs to change.

What? what the fuck are you talking about? Since when did we talk about changing? We’re trying to maintain the status quo here. We’re trying to replace stuff that we’ve been missing.

Dude, wake up. Wake the fuck up. Since when did we talk about changing? Since we talked about giving up fucking pluggin in, that’s when, asshole.

All right. Point taken. But that change was forced on us. We’re trying to mitigate the negative effects of it, no? Forced on us by a natural progression of our own nature, our own inner dialectic. *This is a natural progression.* Let’s not mess with this natural progression by trying to force a change of direction which is contrary to our basic nature.

By definition, since I thought of it, it’s part of my natural inner progressions.

No, that’s specious and you know it’s specious.

Whatever. And since you speak of an inner dialectic, we must swing to the antithesis of what we now are, musn’t we?

You make assumptions about the structure of the dialectic. I can see I’m not going to win this argument.


Let me just repeat that this is a bad idea. It’s against our basic nature.

Yeah, whatever. I’m the decider. I’ve decided. We’re doing it.


novels and movies

September 9, 2006

Thinking of novels… Stephen had read a group of three novels by Samuel Beckett – Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable – that came closest to answering the question that all novels should ask, that pointed the way for other novels to follow. They started out innocently enough, describing a scene, characters, even a plot. But very soon they descended to the core of things, cutting through all the bullshit to the bare terror of simple existence. Burning through appearances, surfaces, burning it all away in fact, to get at the core questions, to get at essences.

Those core questions – were they what he was really searching for, when he was searching for authentic, overpowering experiences in the mnemoscape? The confluence of detail and emotion, which, he now realized, he had been pedantically preaching to himself in a boring inner drone – wasn’t that like a soporific, an opiate, a distraction, a Debordian spectacle, something to really divert him from frightening basic realities? And these basic realities, the true truths, were found, stumbled over, in between the corners of sense data, peeking out through the interstices of the Buddhist psycho-physical elements, the sannas and other khandhas. The edge of an elbow moving over a stair banister, with a whisper of cloth behind it – a perception such as this cracks, and empty chaos screams out from behind it. Detailed, perhaps – can you call one single detail ‘detailed’? Emotion-filled – well, there is no emotion before the veil is torn away – but once it is, how would you describe the emotion that follows? Elated terror?

And for movies – why did The Fast Runner spring to mind? It seemed to have a conventional plot, a plot, in fact, out of myth. So how could this represent authentic experience? Maybe because it was so authentically of another culture – made, even financed, by native Innuit. So much so that it was twenty minutes into the movie before Stephen formed any idea of what the fuck was going on. Except for the fact that he could tell it was shot on video, Stephen could easily convince himself that what was being depicted could have happened the year before, or 1000 years ago, and it would have happened the same way, and looked exactly the same.

But then was this film really – uh, ugh, I’m sorry to use the word – “existential”? Wasn’t it sheer novelty that temporarily knocks your head an inch off its steel track? Did it really reveal anything basic, essential, or did it just make you think a little, and only to think, “Hunh. That was wierd.”

The novelty of its different culture – did it make Stephen question his own values, or did it just provide an overly convincing escape, the way George Lucas aspired to do, providing a convincing Heidegerrian thrownness of the world, as in the world we are thrown into, a set of assumptions already made and therefore that never need to be explained.

You want a real movie – a movie that evokes that elated terror – how about Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels. It has a plot, but pure existence bursts out of it. Such as the scene in which the mute and the girl who doesn’t seem to realize he loves her search in vain for her “Johnny”, through empty stadiums and through time-lapsed anxiety.