Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

Without question, the turkey, cranberries, yams, beans, cornbread stuffing, pies, wine, gravy, creamed pearl onions, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few dozen dishes, was the tastiest most satisfying Thanksgiving dinner ever.  Mom was elsewhere, as was one of my daughters, and there was really no one cook, though the overall production was well handled by our host, my brother in law.  This was almost entirely a collective effort, with the love that is the essential ingredient of all good cooking somehow suffused among the whole.  Mom of course was there in spirit, guiding most of the recipes (Oh, I forgot the rolls!!!), but not, at least this time here in Seattle, acting as slave to our patient appetites.

OK, so the neighbor's rolls, brought by for comparison after dinner, were actually better in some technical sense, though I did sneak a taste this morning again to confirm my preference for the old familiar.

The family grouping was of individuals, each a conscious self.  The dinner capped several days obsessing about the recalcitrant sister, still standing by her man, confronted just the day before on his way to court by angry betrayed neighbors, as related to us by one of them (no family member can bear the torsion to stand by her standing by him).  Resolved is the question of where the victimized daughter belongs.  Resolved are any doubts about where each of the rest of us stands.  Still, hanging bizarrely over the entire family tangle is the pall of his inevitable persistence among the living branches of our tree.

This is the man who raped his daughter and told her the same outrageous stories a cheating husband might tell his mistress, but deepened apparently by leveragings about unanswerable urges and alternative targets more disruptive to the family integrity.  Prostitutes.  Other young friends.  This is the man who quoted the Bible, and relished his conviction that he'd already been saved by grace and apparently liberated to commit any and all sorts of outrage.

So, by my sister's staying by him, it becomes clear that at least my niece is spared any further confusion.  The true and actual grace of God was her removal from that horrid swamp.  She speaks of it as a coming smack up against reality.  She has no desire to return.

Meanwhile, it should be no surprise that in the neighborhood of that swamp are apparently many who have suffered or known in close proximity such incest.  It becomes undeniable that there is a connection between the strong father and Biblically formulaic rule-based belief systems and the prevalence of this particular sin.  Whether the sin itself leaves only God's grace for its relief, or whether living within this cultish belief system actually and actively encourages such sinning by construing the family relations in its direction;  the distinction seems one without a difference.

This man, so called, started life with a truly horrible deficit.  He was himself prostituted and learned to focus his attentions and energies toward illicit pleasures;  their provision to others as a means of their acquisition for himself as well.  It all pathetically started with, so he says, an accidental housefire which was attributed to his murderous intentions toward a younger brother.

So, was it already there in the context for his self's formation?  This envy turned insanely toward eradication of any other object for affection?  Is there such a thing as family so constrained in love that even the children are objects for envy every time they get something eternally denied the parents?  Such that children are punished for their very need to be loved? And if there are such families, does that preserve the heart of this horrid man as the proper object for my sister's love, and gracious God's rehabilitation?

Or is the man himself devoid of anything at his center which could recognize actual love, so as to become its giver or receiver?  Does it matter?  He seems human.  My sister seems to feel love for him.  None of the rest of my family has the wherewithal to cast him out (we surely would if we could), though we will certainly never again welcome him into our own homes or hearts, though who can tell what the years might bring?  I can not imagine touching my wet lips to many things more savory than this rotting crud, and yet I have trained my appetite for cheeses and stews once thought to stink.

Still, though the line between food and waste may be more fluid for adults than for children, there does remain an absolute distinction.  And growth results from making that distinction;  from the act of discernment itself, which diverted rather more, last night, into the waste bin (more properly here in Seattle the recycling bin) than normal in the absolute interests of better flavor.  The only sin yesterday would have been to cast away directly any actually savory morsels.

I do give thanks that my wayward sister still struggles toward love.  There must be some horrid envy at the root of our family, if not all of humanity.  Some stinking primal sin which did indeed require God's grace to redeem.  Though I do know that my dear and sweet sister is deserving of a better love than what she claims as her own.  I would that she did disown this part of her family now so clearly revealed as stinking gangrene.  Perhaps she will yet. Meanwhile it must be enough to give thanks for love itself, enacted always in the striving for its accomplishment and never by some static constellation among relations.

At our own cosmic beginnings, I do maintain that it matters not at all whether conscious being was prior to or concurrent with the very first perceptual object. Mind must be that reductive quality of matter which allows persistence in the inward modeling of what, perceptually, is beyond its boundary.  Such modeling becomes memory, and its outering the Word, as precisely distinct from the thing itself. And the feeling toward a future connection between that self and some recognized other is what love very basically Is.

So at least this much is knowable and known;  that at the very beginning if it makes sense to talk about that at all (which I clearly think it doesn't) was an impulse toward what we have become.  And no envy whatsoever about that which we are not.  Brothers in law and in deed, in word and in spirit and never false even down to the very least among us, some of whom do, however, belong apart behind bars and separate for their own heart's truing as much as to prevent the warping of ours by such passionate distortions as must be excited by certain acts however originated, however coldly or hotly carried out.

I have not been so very adept at recognizing evil, I am saddened to say.  But at least my tummy does recognize love.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mind's I (a quick shorthand before dinner)

The thing that mind is:

We know that something to be called mind has got to exist as the thing that perceives, since it doesn't seem to be enough to tell, simply, that particles collide. It would seem that on the subatomic level there has to be someone listening for the tree falling in the forest to have made a sound.

We know also that any concept of mind must contain the persistence of memory, which is simply a modelling of the perceptual universe in a way that persists in time, and is accessible by mind (that thing having the memory).

What we apparently don't know, and which it is my burden to tell, is that mind further embodies (what a cool choice of term) prediction which is prior to knowledge. The animus of such predictive activity is what we call emotion, which describes also our mental suppositions about eventual perceptual combination of aspects of external reality at present combined reductively and only in our minds. This animus describes a want, of external reality as much as of our mind.

This prediction is what conditions choice among infinitely proliferating possibilities for pairing memory with perceived reality. Call it a disposition. Call it a preference. Call it a rationalization for what was always meant to be.

Knowledge is near perfect predictability. But mind is irreducably present in any conceivable reality. And emotion as a description of future joining can as easily describe a quality of the to-be-realized perceptual reality as of the mind which holds it.

This, apparently, changes everything. We are the life cultivated from and grown out of the soil which has been deposited before us. It is the Word, not flesh, which is shit. And Jesus returns, finally, to earth.

Oh Excrement!

I swear to you that the connection between those previous two posts was never studied, though I can hardly urge your suspension of any disbelief, since I must mock it now, this apparent connection. It's true though. I swear it. I came upon it unawares. It came upon me unbidden. But it's almost as though I meant it!

Still, there must be some subconscious prefiguring, and nothing mysterious about what shapes mind's expression. Now here I am returned from my breakfast sinning (what else can you call the acculturated craving for fats and high cholesterol which constitutes comfort breakfast, properly enjoyed?) and wanting, Žižek (there, I DID it) inspired, to say something about shit.

Having recently suffered the elemental indignity of a colonoscopy (thankfully, I was put out - and yes, it came out clean), I am made aware of the interesting fact that it has taken my life thus far to learn a proper technique to wipe my ass. Those among you old enough for the recommended procedure know exactly what I'm talking about.

Simply put, I never used to give it a thought. This is surely the part of my body most remote from my own viewing. I'm not even sure I could get a mirror to do it (I am quite sure that I'd never want to!). But at some indeterminate time in the not very distant past, I did realize that if I wanted to avoid embarrassing traces left behind - maybe this only happens with age? - I'd have to start more methodically, get feedback from the paper smear, and proceed to finish without rubbing to death and thus cultivating some hemorrhoidal ground on my much abused sitter. The embarrassment would be the unauthored smell. The shit stained shorts. There's good sense, materials science, and not a little engineering involved in the avoidance of something which in fact only happened about as often as I cut myself shaving.

But with age, it becomes worth the effort, and I fail less often.

And Žižek, who is ever so much more well read than I, and whose expression ever so much more fragrant, if not less dense, was mocking a kind of theological cosmology (as quite distinct, to be sure, from cosmology proper) whereby shit is what we are; creation in relation to God the creator.

Quite apart from my pleasure in elimination (this I am quite certain is an age related thing), I find no ambition within myself to leave this process behind along the way toward humanity's perfection. (How, theologically, is shit dealt with in heaven? Fucking?) Uploading myself, a la Kurzweil's brand of fundamentalism would be a horror even worse than immortality. A leap more terrifying than one over the Falls, even if I did have the trajectory perfected to where I'd pull out below as did that fabled boy, blended as he must have been so perfectly with the mass of water he'd joined. An awakening from which there could both be no return and no exit.

This would be a one-way interval, since the mind left behind could never be re-entered. And if experience could ever be the word for it, I would experience a nausea made more profound that there could be no stopping it by outering its stimulus, nor steadying on ground any more firm than that of ideas fully abstracted. Hoot AND Howl! I want my vibrant voice and smelling orifices all.

No shit, my God's name cannot be outered. This is not complicated. The thing is imminent or not at all. It's the telling that counts, not the having told. The Name assigned permanently things what it names, and consigns it to human creation. This we can know with certainty, you evil dipshit Evangelicals. This is not mysterious. You pander a fallen god, and the rest of us know his naming.

(I apologize for the smell. I simply did not wish to belittle by pity those craving craven souls who truly would do good, but that we so mistrust our own responsibility)

Chapter Nine-teen Eighty Three

I want to live responsibly, I thought to myself that fall when I returned to school on the motorcycle. I want to be an adult. A real adult. I don't want to excuse myself from what goes wrong, and I don't want to take pride in what I accomplish. I want to take the responsibility.

Einstein was responsible. He knew that he had only uncovered something that lay waiting in the fabric of science. He hadn't invented something -- it was already there. Even so, he felt responsible when the world took his discovery and began a march for destruction with it. He didn't dissociate himself. He called the mistake for what it was. And what of the other scientists? Where is their responsibility? They would have you believe that their discoveries are neutral -- that they were already there in the material world, and that they aren't responsible for what's made of them.

Yes. But then why haven't they told us what they've really found? Not that there is some new power that can level whole cities. We'll just go ahead and compare it to what we already know. How many sticks of TNT does it add up to? What kind of power can it give us? What kind of wealth?

Why didn't they tell us what they really discovered? That the world doesn't relate to anything we already know. That the old metaphors are inadequate and that what they have done is to upset the very basis for making them. They haven't discovered a new power. They've discovered a new world, and then washed thier hands of it when the reckless driver lurched away.

I was angry with the scientists. I was angry with my own childishness. I was angry. And yet I would accept my ignorance and enroll in their courses until I knew enough of their language to say with authority what I had to say. I had a vague feeling of wanting to become a scientist and make my own discoveries, but a more definite, and even chastened, feeling of wanting to know why they hadn't told. Where was I being misled? What did they know that I don't?

Nothing, I decided for good -- forever. after two weeks when I dropped out

How noble would that have been. In reality, I had overestimated my preparation and ability and underestimated the power of the new distractions I had found my freshman year. I had been admitted to more prestigious technical schools than Yale, hadn't I? I had exceptional aptitude --that was proven. So I enrolled in courses that were too difficult, and found that my attention was incomplete.

It may have been possible to surmount the difficulties, but you can't do something -- anything -- without truly wanting to. Even if you know you don't want to, things are possible when their purpose is clear. Drudgery that has an end is simple. If a degree is important, then the way there is relatively easy. But I wanted an education; not a degree. I was adamant on that. And I found the math which once had come so easily all reduced to a blur. I was good in labs. They were interesting, and there I was as quick as ever at picking up the principles involved. But my mind was too full of meanings in the classroom to be able to take in the detail.

And I didn't do the work. I was too angry, and my anger led to depression and I wanted out. I remember times as a child when I was suffering some emotional hurt or confusion. I had an embarrassing habit of going off somewhere to hide. I wanted my absence felt, but I wanted to remain undiscovered. It was awful when I was found. The shame at my childishness almost eclipsed the weight of the wrong I had felt done me. I must have been twisted by an inkling that I hadn't really been wronged. Or that the explanation and apologies that would follow my tears would overcome the wrong. I wanted my hurt to be real. So I couldn't show it. And if I stayed, I couldn't not show it. So I disappeared.

I hid under some chairs or in some special and impossible hide-out and relished the pain of the first few hours or minutes that I wasn't even missed. They didn't care! Then they began to search and I began to feel bad --stupid. It was too late to come out of hiding; they'd recog­nized the duration of my absence, and it was all getting to be something of a pattern. When it started, I would just crouch in the corner -- ostrich like -- in an absurd implementation of what was only germinal. Then as the pattern became more real, I would find ever more remote hiding places. It was getting more serious. My need to feel real was finding outlets less ridiculous than the ostrich and more in tune with an adult world which always knew where you really were and what you were really doing.

I cried some. But mostly I disappeared. It wasn't that tears weren't responded to. But they must have been a little frightening. Perhaps they seemed too real. When I was very young, my mother cried a lot. She got little sympathy. I think my father was afraid to admit his responsibility in her tears, or he genuinely didn't understand them. The kids were whisked off to clean the basement or something. When we asked why Mommy was crying, my father just said, "Oh, she's just silly." Sometimes he would try to get us on his side, "Don't you think it's silly to cry about burned meat." And we would always be on his side. Because he was fun and because his explanations always seemed reasonable.

But my mother's tears were real, and we knew it, so they scared us. She's told me about one time that my older brother came up and asked me "Why is Mommy cwying?" "She's cwying because she's a slave," I answered authoritatively. I must have heard her say that. We'd gotten somewhat used to her crying, and there always had to be an explanation. My mother tells me she burst out laughing then. But her tears were real, and the reasons for them were probably simply that my father didn't know how to respond to them. They were unreasonable. And so my tears were turned to laughter with a tickle or a joke, and I learned that my pains were not real -- that is, they were unreasonable.

And so it has continued. My pains must not be real. They are the squealing of a brat who has been dealt a smaller piece of cake. I cannot suffer. I've been given everything. I grew up in the suburbs with a clean bathroom, lots of love and attention; recreation -- a taste of nature. I had my successes and my loves. I had my triumphs. I was sent to "the best school in the country" -- not because someone else wanted it, but because I wanted to go there. I had my choice. I had so much freedom. I lived in America which uses half of the world's resources for its pleasure, and I had my bicycle and my car and my motorcycle. I have my boat now, and I can't cry. I haven't cried for an eternity because I want my pain to be real and it isn't real.

I just disappear. The natural endpoint for my progression toward ever more subtle hiding places would be suicide. I thought of that often when I left school. But I'd thought of that before, and knew of its childishness; its evasion of responsibility. I became subtler still. I would change my name. I would lose myself through the mock staging of a suicide and then be finally free. I didn't know that I wanted pain -- or perhaps I did. I would be penniless and have only the clothes on my back. I would crawl out the other side of whatever river I'd drowned myself in and emerge a new man.

In my fantasies I became very elaborate. I would drown in the Niagara River where I could retrieve some scuba gear I'd planted on the bottom. Then I would emerge across the border in Canada. A new man. A new Name. Free at last of all the untold and unspoken pressures of the name I'd been given. My pain would be real, for I'd have nowhere to turn. My failures would leave me utterly lost. My successes would owe no guilt. My loves would know nothing of my past or promised future. They would know only me me me.

It wasn't for lack of courage that I didn't erase my name. It was, rather, that force which pulls the spectator at his own funeral out of his dream. He pities himself for a bit, but in the end can't bear the unnecessary pain. He knows that his disappearance has been noticed. Is there a way back to the unbound freedom of the babe whose cord has just been tied? Bah! What freedom? These are my flesh and blood. My name is me. Without them there is nothing -- can be nothing. A babe cast-off in the world dies as surely as if he'd never been born. There's nothing on the other side of the river. Far better to cry out your pain and believe that it's real.

But I can't. There's only one passage that may be made without desire -- and that's the passage of death to the other side of life. All doors which are opened without feeling lead there. And if you desire death, you desire a myth. But to believe in the myth. To make it real by belief. Then you might die in peace. Or you might go insane.

I am tied to my family and their cares. But how earn the birthright and still be true to myself? How simply to be true to my name? How achieve clarity and desire to love without eradicating all my past. Perhaps I had already crossed the River and was lost. My vision was blurred. I was a ghost within myself. All goals were borrowed, and I had to act the role of the name I'd been given because, for whatever reason, I couldn't leave it. My mother cried when I left school, and I didn't know how to respond.

To my father I could and did respond. They were rationalizations I believed myself. I had to make them to myself because there was my father within, and to that father my mother was but a slave. I didn't know how or where to turn for a simple expression of the pain I felt within. There had to be a reason for my leaving school. I placed it on the door of a world which was polluting itself to death. On an America which was choking the rest of the starving world with its senseless wealth. On a mythos whose apocalypse would only be a nuclear Armageddon. I was profound and I was lucid and I was reasonable and I convinced my father within and my mother, who heard only the pain and that was enough. And I convinced myself, but didn't know what to do. To crusade. To fight the establishment. To tell the world what I had to say. These were all actions that compelled me on occasion --but always left me as with my physics courses -- confused and without having done the work.

There must have been something else. A man bottled up in depression is disappearing. But you have to feel something before it is real. I had started to tell of a time as a child when I was hurt. Then I got carried away about hiding. But I was going to tell of a different response --not hiding from the world, but blocking the world out.

I was sitting on the couch before dinner. I may have felt guilty for having watched television all afternoon -- an internal guilt because I knew that I would have rather done something else. I was always involved with some project or other. But I was susceptible to the narcotic of television. I could get hooked, and was confused that I had thus wasted the day.

Or it may have been a hurt that I feared to show by crying, In any case I sat on the couch in a quiet detached state and slowly went blind. I panicked, but did not move. I squinted and stared and could not make anything visible. No. I could not announce my blindness. It was a noble suffering. I was called to dinner. I made my way there in a non-chalant manner by feel and by the blurs that had begun to show light from dark.

"Is anything the matter, honey?"

"No, I'm fine." spat out in heavy childish annoyed twang -- like a brat. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Let me pretend I can see. I don't want your sympathy and understanding. Don't make a fuss. This isn't real. It'll pass.

But I was terrified. I took up my milk. I ate my dinner. I felt normal -- none of the fuzziness I was to feel much later in my life. I coluldn't believe that I could just be blind. I ran to my room and cried into the pillow until -- with some relief and some regret -- my vision was restored.

So with depression, I had closed out the world. I believed my rationalizations, but they didn't touch me. I didn't feel the pain I so eloquently declared. I wasn't moved to rally to any cause. If one had happened along -- if someone had understood my qualities and called my name -- I would have thrown my full energies behind the task. But no one did, and I didn't know what to do. I ended up working for my father as a bookkeeper.

"This is all untrue. It's out of sequence. I know you well enough to know that. You're being untrue to yourself --and unfair."

Are you becoming kind?

"Tell the truth. Tell the accomplishments -- the confirmations. Don't dig a pit for yourself."

I was lost. I began to fantasize about how thoroughly I would resurrect myself with the writing of this, and lost the thread. You know, I begin to feel I'm saying something. Things come together and then whammo, I become proud and it dissolves.

"Wait a minute. Are you writing your life or is it writing you? Saying it doesn't make it true. Why don't you go back a bit. I was interested about physics. Something you said about fitting a new world into old analogies."

Ah, I was interested in that too. Always to get lost by what interests me along the way. I forget where I started. You know, I only just thought of that when I wrote it -- the reason for my anger, I mean. But that really was the reason. New words to reify an old feeling that had no clear expression. The rest was rationalization -- an attempt to express what is not yet expressible because it hasn't been lived and felt and realized. I felt the anger. I knew something was missing from the physicists' expression of their lives. But I couldn't have found the words because I didn't know anything about metaphor. I only knew about truth.

A rational expression is different from a rationalization. A rational expression follows the knowing. I rode my bike. I study to be a lawyer because I want to be rich. The world is this way because when I do this it does that. But you know the truth first because you've felt it. A rationalization comes before knowledge or in place of it. I can't help it. I do this because that's the way the world is. I study law because I want to save the world. Rationalizations are conditioned by what is desired -- or required. They don't express truth, they invent it; no matter how truthful or eloquent or convincing they are made. Most of the time there's no way to tell the difference.

"Wait a minute. I protest. You're not kidding there's no way to tell the difference. I wish you'd quit inventing definitions."

Perhaps I have to rediscover the definitions for myself.

"You've discovered squat! Since when is there any difference in the truth about a lawyer going to school to get rich and one who's going to save the world?"

I was hoping you'd pick up on that. Actually, I don't think there is any. That is, there's a big difference in the two people, but little difference in the rational quality of their claims. They're both rationalizations. A young law student can't know he's going to get rich any more than he can know how to save the world. The first statement seems to contain less bullshit because if he's a good student in a good school he can probably get rich if he wants to. More properly, he should say I know that I want to get rich. Anything he says about law school expresses a hope or rationalization. I have no patience with that myself. I would go to law school if I were passionately interested in the law.

"You're so noble."

I'm trying to be honest, and to escape rationalization.

"What about your depression? What can you say about that?"

Sometimes I was honest, and just admitted that I was depressed. That was all I knew. But I always had to find a reason before I could find a way out.

"But the only ways out you ever found were through doing something, whatever came along?"


"Say, what does all this chat have to do with physics?"

I was getting to that. It was a shock for me to discover relativity theory and quantum physics. The world of Newton was real to me. It was confirmed by every action I took and everything I observed. I wasn't sure what connection there was between these things and those very tiny and very far away in time and space. But it all unsettled the reality. After all, Newton's world was subsumed in the relativistic world, not destroyed. The world I knew didn't have to stop making sense -- it just couldn't be taken for truth.

I had taken Newton's physics as a rational statement about the way the world is. Now it seemed that it was a rationalization about the way we believed it to be. I was doubly nonplussed because I was enough taken in by words to allow the new reality to sweep away the old -- despite what my senses seemed to tell me, and because that very thing made me suspicious of words. Did I experience Newton's world because I believed it: Or did it go the other way around? And Newton's world is built on words too. Perhaps things were made invisible in fact by omission from the theory. It was very disturbing. There is matter and there is energy. There are laws. We feel -- perceive -- matter. But we perceive other things too. The sadness of a face. The beauty of a mountain. What is it if not perception?

These things don't matter in physics. They're left to other fields. But this reality suffers, it would seem, as a consequence. All right, I don't want to follow that. But I felt better with a relativistic universe. It dissolved the brick wall at the end of infinity -- or rather it gave infinity a new quality. For the first time I knew that the limits of the universe were the limits of my mind. I couldn't conceive of any but three-dimensional space plus time --space-time -- and so I wasn't bothered by infinity. Within the four dimensions that I could conceive, I knew -- I accepted the proofs -- that the origin and the end are identical. That is the old (by now) principle that if you look far enough long enough You'll see the back of your head.

This is no great discovery. Every simple person knows that his mind is limited, and that this limit limits his universe. Only an idiot would attempt the impossible. And we all know that simple people have an easier time making it into heaven. But sometimes simple people make the mistake of believing that their universe is limited, while someone else's isn't. So they think truth is a matter for experts. And the experts are fooled too, by the adulation of the simpletons. They think they're dealing with truth.

So physicists ignore the identity of origin and end. They ignore the limits of their minds. Big bang is the origin. Who knows what's at the end? Sure, the origin and end aren't really identical. This isn't a mathematical universe. Curved space-time doesn't have a smooth "spherical" quality. And if you look long enough far enough you won't see the back of your head because you'd have been gone by countless eons, even ignoring the fact that all the intervening matter which is what really determines the shape of the universe will have transformed over those same eons. Light takes time to travel. So the origin and the end are identical only abstractly.

And what's wrong with ignoring the limits of your mind? That's how all great discoveries are made. That really is what the process of transformation really is. But there is a big difference between ignoring the limits of your mind in a proud manner and ignoring them humbly. The proud ignoramus believes that with his mind he will transcend its limits. The humble one knows that his mind is naturally limited and might playfully tease it into new realizations. He doesn't attempt to use something that is limited to uncover something without limits. He laughs at absolutes. The humble man is the bold knower. He knows what he knows.

The relativistic universe certainly changed my thinking. First of all, the universe becomes unknowable without transcending certain limits which seemed to me absolute. It wasn't a brick wall any more at the end of the universe; it was a different dimensional structure of which we can't conceive. Furthermore, that kind of nothingness has a wholly different quality than space -- or vacuum -- which is defined by distances between objects or matter. What can't be conceived literally can't exist and so it didn't bother me. Or rather it liberated me because it limited my need for speculation. Anything was possible.

There were more ordinary changes. The problems of equating mass and energy are enormous. It means that the speed of light is an absolute limit which can be approached but never achieved. As that speed is progressively approached, eventually all the matter -- all the energy of our four dimensional cosmos -- would have to be consumed in the acceleration. It becomes absurd. We're stuck, man. There's no escape. In our common sense Newtonian way, we all know how much energy it would take to move a hundred of us to the moon. What we don't know is that beyond that you come to years and millions of years of time -- beside the energy. Nobody seems to remember that there isn't much good in escaping if you can't come back to tell about it. We think about hibernating or freezing ourselves, but the world would be so different upon awakening that you might as well have gone on to a different world in a straight line.

And there's no space when mass and energy are equated. There is no place in the universe where someplace -- a star or something -- is not visible. That very visibility indicates the presence of photons -- light waves or wavicles. Light is a form of energy which is only different from matter depending on point of view. If there is some space that is truly out of touch, then there is no sense imagining that it would be in any way part of the universe. Space becomes inconceivable.

But I got stumped there anyway. Physics books are full of examples of the guy who flies near the speed of light and returns to earth much younger than his comrades who stayed behind on earth. I couldn't get it. In a relativistic universe, nobody's privileged. Earthtime should be slower relative to the time in the spaceship and vice-versa. A consequence of the equation of mass and energy is that time slows for any matter that is in motion relative to any observer. From the point of view of the space traveler, the earth could be considered to be in motion. They couldn't meet again because their points of view would clash irreconcilably. You can't have an old man and a young man who look different to the other than they conceive themselves to be. You can't have two things at once, can you?

Even if it were technologically and economically feasible to get beyond the grasp of mother earth's time convention, you could never make it back. You'd be inconceivable to the earthlings.

I've puzzled on that one for hours. I wanted to make the physics books right. Maybe it was the acceleration. You can't get away from earth and back without starting and stopping, and without turning around. Some physics books point out that this does away with the paradox. General relativity deals with acceleration. Time is slowed during acceleration, and in that sense acceleration is equivalent to gravity. Apparently the math works out so that the traveler comes back younger, but I can't quite buy it.

Keep an open mind. The results of relativity are so astounding, that you must be truly open-minded to accept them at all. But now we have been trained to be open-minded, and the astounding result becomes dogma. There's no such thing as a perpetually open mind. Results clung to, no matter how astounding, may in the clinging turn to lies. The mind closes by its very attempt to remain open. Of course time is slowed at very high speeds. I know it's hard to imagine, but (heh, heh) you've got to open your mind. Not everybody can do that, I guess. There are so many dumb slobs in the world.

I really pity them. It's nice to be elite.

Still, we have traveled to the moon and back. Even though the speeds reached were well within the limits that Newtonian physics can describe accurately, there must have been a miniscule relativistic effect. I doubt the astronauts or anyone else could feel it, but they must be out of synch. How much? A fraction of a second? A world? It couldn't mean anything to us. We kept contact the whole way and back. Nobody forgot them.

We can't know what would happen if contact were ever lost. We have no contact with matter approaching the speed of light. All there is is energy then. From the point of view of energy, maybe we look like energy. Who can know? Ail you can do is theorize -- rationalize. Until you know --and then a new rationalization.

I'm groping. I don't have the energy to be consistent in my understanding of physics. I'm too anxious. I use terms that are fuzzy and slip back and forth between language appropriate to Newtonian physics and the different terms appropriate to relativity. I'm bothered by something about limits. About possibilities claimed that seem to me impossible. I'm going to bed.

Being Me!

Did I write about this? In principle, that's a simple thing to discover. I could do a computer aided search (what computers are good for), though I might miss the number of times I've written about it personally to someone, or prior to its electronic inscription. Does it even matter? Am I afraid of boring you (terrified, apparently)?

It seems odd that I might have missed it in the prior diatribe that I compulsively resurrect as the crucial narrative of my life, but I just can't remember, and haven't the time to read and find out. I do know that it happened, and did even recently receive, anonymously through the mail via my parents who didn't know what to do with it, an actual video of the events surrounding the occurrence. So I have documentary evidence, though that itself, PoPo, must change the occurrence I remember.

The event I have in mind was a drowning, and its striking aftermath, the iconic flash of my entire life, precisely as lived. Different from a dream. Different from fantasy. Precisely not a narrative, because the entire thing was present all at once in crystal clarity. And then gone, as if with my death, but more precisely with my surfacing.

I'd started down a challenging rapids up North, along the French River in Ontario. My older brother was in the bow, and I, the heavier of the pair and oddly the better helmsman, was at the stern. The canoe was pathetically inadequate, a low freeboard shell of oilcanning flimsy fiberglass. These canoes made no sense for rental, and less for voyaging, but they were what was available. They must have been meant for casual resort vacationers to paddle around in, and not for the sort of Canadian canoe-culture we'd all grown to be such a part of. Odd.

The steep and deep rapids ended in a whirlpool, not so evident on the surface. Our canoe had frustratingly filled along the plunge; a better canoe would not have. We piloted well enough. I remember sensing the canoe sink below as I was treading water at the bottom of the run; I exercised the absurd caution to give it a slight tug, meant to induce its drift back toward the surface since I wasn't even sure these playthings had any proper positive buoyancy. I wasn't sure it would ever surface once completely submerged. It was a momentary lapse in logical thinking, but in body sense it worked at the time.

In the event, my slight tug was exercised in the reverse direction; when I lifted my head for air there was no surface to be found. Only a slight tug was necessary to propel my own negative buoyancy (I have famously dense bones) downward. I hadn't caught a breath. I hadn't intended to swim underwater, a skill I actually did excel at, especially with regard to duration.

I know I have rehearsed this story a thousand times, and a few of those even in writing. For sure, that should make this time incrementally more instructive, right? Though inevitably less true. At the conclusion of this episode, my brother was making a panicked face, and his lifesaving training preventing him from approach to my choking self. I'd been down for what must have seemed an interminable interval. He pushed a paddle toward me.

During the interval, I'd lost track of up or down - I had no sense of which way to kick, and my feet were encumbered in the kicking by sneakers, worn against the rocks in case of capsize. I'd exhausted my brain's ability to inhibit any sucking in. I gave up. And in that interval between my drowning and the evident after-the-fact sucking in of a better mixture of air than the bubbly one I'd assumed, my entire life to that moment was before me, in all detail, and with duration infinitely expanded. I know I had no sense that I was at any surface. I was gone.

And so I now wonder at two connected things; connected by my confusion about them. The sense that I am confused in each case by the very same thing.

I am confused that anyone can harbor an illusion that the self could be suspended, on ice as it were, or even in hibernation during long space voyages. The brain is properly dialogic and dialectic and requires for mind's persistence that its inner activity is constant and, most importantly, continuous. This much is entirely clear to me. Stop the action, and the thing itself is gone. The ideation of the self, which is the emergent as-if phenomenon of a narrative which becomes the self. There can be no interval between past and future, in precisely the sense that Zeno's paradox must be solved and re-solved by the reductive overlapping of any final is-ness of the interval. My then and future self, of necessity, overlap, and a break is conceptually impossible.

So, there is, clearly, a slowing down beyond recovery of the quickness of self's substrate. A final bounding surface. And so here is my more important confusion: I cannot conceive my own shortfall in courage. Why do I persist in a life hardly lived? Why do I labor as a galley slave without apparent bonds. Why do I fear gesture toward "creativity," when all that could be lost or gained is my already and ever present conviction that I am a fool?

I often wonder if the experience of death has formed my chains or the very prospect of liberation. Am I more tentative? Why not, like the iconic cancer survivor or heart-attack awakener, an enriched and enriching sense of life properly lived?

I feel bound by love. I feel bounded. My protest, familiarly, has been to smoke and drink and more recently and soberly to disregard, dogmatically, any attention paid to earnest impositions of caution in the form of calorie counting and statin ingestion. These I find more deadly to my soul than the oh-so-unfortunate demise I evidently court. I mourn in anticipation for those left behind, but my protest most properly is against my very own self for not daring to live. I refuse to perpetuate this drudgery.

At best, my writing hints, like Michelangelo's slaves, at a form that would be emergent. But mine is the naive version, where, perhaps at best, proportions and angles have not been entirely ruined, since intuition has held back from too many hits of the chisel; so unlike those apocalyptic masterworks, whose perfection is their very precise incompletion. There is no doubt there that a genius is at work. And here a fool.

But even the very rocks for Michelangelo had already suggested the form within, and so the very first hit of chisel by me could only ruin the outcome; pulverize the substrate. I drink therefore I am. It is my only precise choice. The intervals melt together.

The thing that would terrorize me the most, for certain, would be the very prospect of immortality (I hardly fear its actuality, which is plainly absurd). Then faced with death always and only being a choice. Then faced with all sensational boundaries being always and only self described. Then faced with the Groundhog Day recurrent attempt to craft my heart; that thing at the center of me me me no matter how many times I did come back to it the very possibility to come back over and over and over again could only ensure its pulverization complete. (Isn't this the way we all do live?)

The other day I was quite certain that unaccustomed heartburn was my end. I hesitated to call out, so prospectively embarrassed was I at the vision of ambulance and lights at the Diocesan offices. I literally could not imagine living down the event (already inscribed in the annals of the HR office is my recent remove from sanity, when I requested police escort away from my death-like midnight den, in anticipation of expectant arrivals for which I was unprepared - did I tell that story yet? It can be made very very funny.).

I think it was the shot of adrenalin at the shade in prospect which made the heartburn so seeming terminal. I rehearsed my death and was glad I did not announce it. The embarrassment of being wrong remains far too great an inhibition, and so in life's narration, this remains heart-burn only, with adrenalin chaser, and far from the dilation of that beating interval beyond its proper limit. There were no flashbacks, nor would there be on the gurney. Nor ever, perhaps, again, except for these compulsive tellings.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gobama! The End of Personal History

It's taken me a while. I don't have anything profound to say, but whatever I do have to say certainly has evolved over the past few days - not because of events on the political stage so much as because of events on the home front.

I did weep to watch all those seemingly ecstatic souls in the Chicago park, and then to witness the actual event - well, via the magic of television. I'd pulled back from my own involvement in the campaign, perhaps after Obama became such a consummate politician and I was no longer sure if he was that real deal. But then it hit me that the entire world was watching with wonder as we apparently triumphed over what has been called so often our original sin.

Granted, this particular black man seems no threat to white women, and he can't even dance. His wife and kids fill the Kennedy role, just as well as he does, right down to all the ways in which they are attractive to the rest of us. For me, there was only mild lingering regret that it had to be a black man before a woman, but that simply forces an examination of how willing I am to let my own ideology be swayed by the happenstance of events.

I'm making rationalizations about how, on the world stage, getting a woman into that position matters less than getting a black man there. I come up with SAT-style analogies Hillary:woman::Barack:black man. And made as if history somehow rehearses what ought to be rather than what is. As if history is inevitably right, simply because we only get one. Not very flattering to either of them.

But then the flattery would have to be in the terms of what we're striving to move beyond. So, Hillary's not feminine enough? Not beautiful enough? And Barack not enough of a stud muffin? How intensely politically (!!) incorrect!

I even find myself swept along in new found belief in "democracy" as an actual resolver of power rather than a ritual construct to sanction the real power as it deploys itself; as in democratic capitalism, or whatever bogus pairing the Bushies indulged in, where democracy is the empty ceremony on the face of what the Europeans have taken to calling savage capitalism.

America the uncultivated.

Still, I can move well beyond how short Obama falls from my preferred ideologies, since I remain convinced that at this particular moment what truly matters is the ability to stir belief, and to do so on a global level. I just can't imagine Ralph Nader pulling that off. The massive juggernaut of the global economy has to be guided carefully, and with nuanced sensitivity for inertias of various sorts, in various directions. That requires willingness on the part of masses of people, which in turn requires belief.

Beyond the marvel at this miracle candidate at this miracle moment in history, are some less comfortable features of Obama the man. As was Bill Clinton, this is a man without a father, and also without, to a certain very real extent, a family history. Just because this is reciprocal to W., doesn't put them in any different category. After all, Bush reinvented himself almost in opposition to his family history, in ways to caricature - certainly for the Europeans - everything crass about Americans - not the Bush family legacy. Bushes don't tend toward born again. And their drinking moves ceremoniously from secret society hazings toward mastery of a tonic to enhance rather than compromise control. An abstemious born-again is almost by very definition a failure in that bloodline.

So the question remains whether this is the only kind of American president possible anymore. Whether a man who is not fundamentally a loner could ever sustain the colossal transference which the pageant of democracy, so called, burdens him with. And if Obama is as intelligent and genuine as he seems, then is he perforce the last president? Who else among us could survive and remain poised at that particular pressure point? Who could remain believable?

I am pleased most with the careful way in which he is reconstructing the role, in particular so that it can be filled by someone else. He is sober in his avoidance of any semblance of rock star persona. He has studied the mistakes of both Clinton and Bush.

In the person of the president, someone real has to make wise and ethical judgements, based on human understanding, which means experience, empathy, as well as some literacy. But that person has to exist in seemingly impossible relation to a role, which has to be acted very much as if one were a real human being, knowing all the while that anything real (a blow job, or the wrong kind of vanity, say) will entirely destroy the illusion to the detriment, certainly not of the person, but of the person in the role.

The most astonishing illusion rehearsed by the American pageant of democracy is that the person in the role wants and wanted it. How strange a taboo there is against admitting the obvious, that being president represents such self-sacrifice that only those without family embeddedness could possibly pursue it. Which surely explains Obama's stumble for not answering Couric's impertinent question about why presidents sexually stray so often. He might have highlighted the importance of what nuclear privacy, succor and repose remains to him with Michelle. But that would be to tell a lie just too impossibly big, and so now that I think about it I'll have to forgive him that one - as I have long since forgiven Spitzer his succumbing to a diabolically brilliant sting (operation).

So, and here is the reason for my delayed response, we have a president who is very much forced to become, as it were for the public good, a person outside the narrative of his own life. If he truly wanted the job - the power, since it would be absurd to want the responsibility - that would make sociopathy a job requirement. In this now matured television age, he must act toward his once-loved ones in a manner whose conformity to near absolute standards belies any possibility that those behaviors could ever be genuine. To have a self under those circumstances would be an absurd expectation.

The self must be put aside and held in suspension for at least the duration of the term(s) in office, unless, like W. there's nothing to suspend, in which case extended restorative vacations become possible, since you were never in the first place actually doing the nation's work, only being, kinglike, the nation-synecdoche.

The changeover is mind wrenching. Or is it?

We have in Obama someone singlularly capable of filling the role, of making the right and good judgements; whose contrast to W. could not be more extreme along almost every vector. And yet we have also, because of that capacity for judgement, the liklihood that there will be far less wrenching exercises of arbitrary authority. Now when exercise of authority might be precisely what is most needed.

Sure, there will be plenty of yeoman labor, reinstating controls on the financial markets, reconstructing environmental and industrial and labor protections. Putting back together a sound polity, in better harmony with the rest of the world. Dismantling imperial ambitions. But if the Bush presidency represented the sort of audacity only possible when accompanied by ignorance - a kind of appalling incapacity for good judgement in favor of fundamentalist absolutes - economic, moral and behavioral - how can we expect Obama to channel the better desires and ambitions of ordinary people up against the raw power of capital, whose bitch W. so transparently was.

Obama cannot be our bitch, since we the people hardly know what we want (there is never any ambiguity about what capital "wants"). At best, we the people want wise leadership, to be enacted in our name if not with our very close control. We will demand a new definition of better, if we will be forced to let go of consumerism and techological comforts and excitements as a way to move in that direction (better). Better will have to be in a more human direction. Better will have to prefer the neighbors to the television. Better will have to break down some mythology about individualism.

So, here I am enacting the end of personal history. My life is a novel, of which I am more the reader than the author. The patterns surprise me, always after the fact. But there can be no question that I am now in a self-conscious stance to my own life which makes personal commitment no longer possible.

And now I would be critic and author both? An impossible combination. The author must discover all the ways his characters might behave, and then write the one possible history out of which a character becomes known. The critic would prevent any and all forward motion. But the reader retains some distance. It is my consciousness which escapes toward open skys, drifting apart and beyond this meaningless sound and fury, which is yet my own.

It is indeed a new day. A good day. A day when life becomes possible again. Projection returns home. As with Mother Theresa's stance toward God (radical doubt apparently), Obama has clearly already decided that - and this is both how and why he accepted the burden - that his faith in democracy is unconditional. And that should enable an honest brokering on our behalf, with the vectors forcing compromise more fully exposed. It is after all a different kind of gaming of the system which overpowers by organization and fundraising rather than studied manipulations of fear and prejudice. This was a competition between things and their seeming.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Soul's Residence

Here are three apparently unrelated happenstances in my life today (now weeks ago!), the relation of which is my attempt to tie them together (by definition, it would seem). They coincide in me, and therefore tying them together has at least as much justification as any other self-definition, even if their interrelation doesn't seem to have any more significance than that coincidence.

If I can find something by which actually to tie them together, then I might even have demonstrated a way toward the self beyond my self; the process of writing as it relates to the self - specifically the generation of the self - and I might even touch upon something broader, relating to that elusive and impossible linguistic trick and travesty, truth in the abstract. The self, I think, represents more an achievement, or rather an aspiration, than a given, and its trueing is a process toward what can easily be mistaken for an essence, since only death can represent its accomplishment.

First is the event of my daughter's Mock Trial competition, at which she is a widely touted champ. This competition rehearses the very formal and formalized ways in which truth in the particular is arrived at in our society (and doesn't the need for such formality itself mock the very notion of truth in the abstract?). I walked into the event this afternoon, not incidentally, with her teammate who is a first generation American, and whose parents are Indian. My occasion to learn this was a text-messaging barrage with my absent-from-the-event other daughter, who freely addresses me as "loser" and worse, which I suspected, rightly as he replied, would not go over so well with this particular teammate's father. Hold that thought.

Next is an email from my sister, relating how she did send to my other sister, without compromising copy to myself, a reportedly straightforward bit of truthtelling, which we are both (my unimplicated sister and myself) convinced my implicated sister needs to allow to penetrate her own Fundamentalist-ly impervious soul. I had previously opined as to the futility of such truthtelling, having in mind the ways in which those bent on defending, say, Sarah Palin as promising commander-in-chief are apparently unbowed by the reasonable power of any mitigating observations or arguments.

Finally, an unbidden email from my former girlfriend, mother of my own aborted child, leaking some pride at the upcoming musical performance of her own daughter, of an age somewhere between my own two, I believe. This I received as a very pleasant surprise, and even wrote, or rather thumbed, a no doubt very strangely packed response from my phone, letting her know, among other things, of the sad and more recently bewildering events which have befallen my youngest sister because of her, so-called, sociopath husband, again so-called. My former girlfriend had been quite close to that sister. They felt some affinity. And now her daughter shares the violin with my sister. I could not help but be struck.

Among these events intervened several automobile passages past the mournful and apparently Catholic protesters in front of the gynecological clinic, which must be one of very few remaining abortion providers in the city (I'm sure there are plenty which don't cater to the under resourced, and which therefore are less handy to the protest). Also, the revelation that my younger daughter had escaped the out-of-control escalation at a post-Halloween party, just before the police arrived to mortify those - among them many of my daughter's friends - who hadn't beat a hasty enough retreat.

As is typical for me, I wondered at my own absence of anger or judgement. Just the facts, sweetie. I was wondering how justified was her boyfriend's anger at her for her apparent abandonment of him, more than I was wondering about any betrayal of me, though still for the purpose of gauging "character." The jury is out, though my own championing of my daughter, whatever her shortcomings of character, intelligence, argumentation, behavior, and so forth, has long long since been decided (unconditionally in her favor, should you doubt).

I am also proud to the point of choking up when in the presence of my older daughter doing her Mock Trial argumentations. I am not so much the perfect Machiavellian fan, finding only fault in the opposition, whose efforts I also do credit. I just think my daughter's the greatest, and the pride comes as it were unbidden, and quite beyond my control.

So now my brother-in-law, and this will be absolutely no surprise to those who read the world on the basis of some literacy, has all along exemplified that very sort of strong fatherhood whose passing I mildly mourn, at least in the sense that it would have both grounded my pride and conditioned my (in the event lacking) righteous anger at my various daughters for their straying beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, almost regardless of who was doing the accepting. (this even despite my own implication for having made the straying itself stray so far from invoking any inward fear on their part for the traipsing).

Now there also was a kind of fourth event (I've always been mystified at how one can enumerate, prior to the utterance, the precise number of points one is about to elaborate, as though they were elaborated ahead of time, in the mind. In this case now, I think I was really being arbitrary when I said "three", since as soon as I said it, the number of potential candidates fairly started marching across my memory for the day.) But this fourth does almost rise to election as an event, and not just a part of the background noise, like the abortion protesters, or my younger daughter's reveleations.

My good friend, with whom I have enjoyed many a reckless night and day emailed me a celebration of Hunter S. Thompson, written by Johnny Depp, by the sending of which I was implicitly being compared to this great man (not Depp!). Apart from the mournful fact that I have never given any evidence of life lived quite large, I did also recognize, with plenty of regret, that to the extent that I ever did come close, I have fallen that far away from anything of the sort. I am now entirely cowed, and devoted to paying bills. My passions are very effetively drowned in liquor, broadly meant; that selfsame category of stimulant which in company excites rather than quenches same.

These days, about the only thing which qualifies me for affinity with Thompson, notwithstanding that drinking alone would never qualify as life lived large, is the fact that I chafe acutely at my abstention for the purpose of corralling these thoughts together. My work, most days, is done by the time I even think of writing, and being done, I desire only release and oblivion. And even this day, it seemed I was working to ferry the girls and their various teammates around the town, and to guide relatives and friends to the right Part, and so on and so forth. But I remain clear of thought.

Well, you be the judge.

So, I don't understand why I remain so shy of myself. It pains me actually, and on occasion I really strain to catch a glimpse of how I might appear from the outside (don't we all?), as today when I realized that my daughter's former high school teacher, to whom I look very much up, but who certainly now appears much younger than me, and to whom I could claim actual seniority of academic credentials, might regard me as something other than the fuck up I regard myself. I think I once learned that she might have aspired to teach in the school I once headed. I thought of this as she conditioned her encouragement of my thoughts for my daughters' college choices by the limitations of their high school's reach; the one at which this teacher still teaches.

Was this a reprimand for my older daughter's reaching? (she was rebuffed by various Ivys, despite an astounding set of credentials which hoist her well beyond the school-limited transcript, by standardized proof not just of her potential, but of her actual achievement). A reminder not to commit the same sin twice? I wonder what it might feel like actually to be looked up to, by potential drinking buddies especially, as Hunter S. Thompson was by Johnny Depp.

I guess you have to start with some inward esteem, and that is the thing so hard to achieve. I feel incredibly fortunate for the peer-based pairings I have enjoyed, never wanting to ratchet them outward to something larger than is my actual life. But even when my life has expanded, I never did realize any sense of my own deserving, and I've always thought that this subjective lack defined and continues to define my aloneness, if not lonliness (that last remains only aspirational). A spiraling inward and downward which was my epigraphic photo and only remembrance in my proper class's yearbook from college.

Well, so my sister wondered if there was such a thing as too much conscience, as she agonized about what to say and how. She finally sent her sharp words entirely on her own, without so much as checking in with me, and even declining to let me know just what she did say.

And I think rather more in the direction of this reticence I feel, which is directed back at me, and not as something good to have. This is surely not any overabundance of conscience, and I project the selfsame lack upon my sister. In my case, it is something more toward the direction of, if not my sociopathic brother-in-law, then my God-beholden younger sister who has virtually abandoned her own now thrice unwanted and unrespected daughter.

She herself, this daughter, is coming to terms with what it means NOT to have been aborted, and therefore never quite affirmatively wanted. My brother-in-law's example of the very thing I lack, does not by his absense of conscience somehow confer to me its presence. I know that I am more like my implicated sister in her betrayal of her daughter, when I feel no outrage toward my own daughter's behavior, than I am like a good father who offers structure, support and guidance. I know that this is something reciprocal, and joined for that, to my own father's spirit-killing ownership of his children's behaviors as that thing from which I had to escape, although less so than my mother's spirit-killing ownership of my soul (control freak/naricissist - must be a common-enough pairing).

So, I do applaud my unimplicated sister for her liberation from me, to the extent that I am proxy for our father, but even more so to the extent that she finds me articulate, sensitive and wise in matters of intellectual and emotional understanding. I am rather proud that I didn't want even to know, much less to second guess, what she said and why. I simply trusted that it was hers to say, and felt glad that she'd risen up to say it as and on her own. I also felt no small amount relieved.

* * *

I dipped my big toe in, starting with Violence, and liked it and felt I even could read it. Then I dove right in, making perhaps a page a day, with The Parallax View (I'm going to attempt, assiduously, to avoid trying to find the characters to put those silly marks over the z's in the guy's name, so the links will have to do).

Now, what I want to say is that this guy manages to say, almost precisely, the very thing I'm trying to say here (here?), or rather to work out how to write here, so that I can eventually write it somewhere more appropriate, or just give it up as a crazed quest. The trouble is that here is a credible scholar saying the very same thing, but the trouble is that he's way less readable than I ever hope to be (!!!).

I came across this brilliant writing, allegedly from Chomsky, just by accident while reading about Zizek (there, I did it without the proper marks) in the handy Wikipedia. Chomsky beautifully trashes PoMo in all the lovely ways, pointing out its hermetic existence within the academy, and its utter disconnect from any useful efforts to better our lot. Principally, he distinguishes that sort of scholarship from any other by the fact not only that he can't understand it himself, but that he can't find any self-professed experts to lead him to any better understanding than the one he can arrive at himself, which is that it's all gibberish and not to be understood.

So, it's a fine thing for me to claim that yup, I'm trying to say exactly what Zizek says, only I'm trying to say it in a much simpler way, without all the philosophical jargon, and, perhaps therefore, with more powerful results. I'm trying for the much simpler scientific method. But how disgustingly cheeky of me to claim affinity to someone so far my better, especially when I'm only a tiny way into the impenetrable book!

The Chomsky article then reminded me of a brilliant little pamphlet recording a famous dialog between Chomsky and Foucault, the one in English, the other in French, which I came across quite by accident in the local indie bookstore and thought so brilliant I recommended it to someone, who, rather predictably, couldn't find any interest there.

So, what is one to do? You think you have this understanding, this way to construe things, which is so important that all sorts of people need to come to terms with it, and you can't make it interesting enough for one single other soul even to get a start with it. I guess people need a hook in. I don't think very many people are reading this Zizek book, though I could be wrong, since it's plenty commented on, and the book has nice production values. I mean, it's frickin' brilliant and all, and I guess he built up his cred in the field, and so forth.

But back to Chomsky for a moment, who, I think, dismisses the PoMo folks in the very same way I would dismiss the religious fundies, or the people who will defend Palin regardless of what an idiot she manifests herself to be. It's like they get convinced by some internal narrative which trumps all and any attempts to penetrate it.

I myself know a certain attraction to PoMo writings - to that kind of social criticism - which gets caught up in word play and a kind of argument which is just as hermetic as the academy-bound society which are its sole practitioners.

So there! In these words, the soul resides? By these words, my soul's residence is constructed? Is it sad to say that I think perhaps so? These words as analog for that heart construction that is and has been my every behavior, to make me, quite simply, recognizeable to those who would love me. And if I do make the mistake of not sternly enough structuring my own daughters' lives, at least I do so up against the impossibility anymore, post modernly, of knowing God directly as those very very evil practitioners claim to do. My love strives for liberation.

. . . but for the transgression of posting this, which at best should remain as notes for future labored elaboration to the point of readability. But isn't that what guarantees my safety (and yours?)