How will I hold myself together? Once again inhabiting too many places, and my memory wasn't very good to begin with. So how shall I know which of me is where? Is it true that people with prosthetic limbs eventually inhabit them? Is it also true that some have body parts which are dead weight, and they want them removed? Where are the actual boundaries of myself?
I take a train now some days into work. It skirts the beach well down below Laguna (I could have said Dana or Capistrano but Laguna sounds better) and I can watch improbable surfers in the January dawn, and realize that inhabiting my metaphor though they do, they are more at home by far than I am. They are in their element, where they want to be and willing to undergo a fair amount of discomfort to be there. (I want only my womb with a view; warmth and an easy chair) Although surfing in January does not represent a whole lot of discomfort to a Buffalo boy who scoffs at what passes today for stormy weather.
They float like seals, clustering usually, although sometimes you see one all by himself off where there probably won't be any waves. The train shakes some. I leave behind the house-sit, bedeviled by a dog which is nothing but a nightly anchor and annoying for that. It's not my dog. Or do I need an anchor?
There remains my ghost in Buffalo still, inhabiting empty furnished space. And now I sit in another other person's house, holding down that fort while my being dissipates, embedded in the same toxic work environment as you are. Where emotions get the better of team work and discussion and everyone's under so much stress that the only thing they can do about it is to pass it along to whomever's convenient underneath who doesn't seem to be holding up his end. You have let me down, or I fear that you shall. It is very important that you be afraid so that we're all in this together.
Emotions like this, you know, are the automatic response to being out of control with pressure to make some particular way when the better choice would be to surf still. It just makes you mad, and someone must be called to task.
Who are those people who can surf the age and feel in control not only of themselves, but of the audiences they command. How does that get done, or is it a confidence trick merely, where maybe if you look the part in the first place, you will be assumed to know things you don't really have to know at all. Maybe - has it always been so - if you are nice to look at then the sound of your singing voice is just better too.
I read, now, David Foster Wallace after death, though I have scant time to read. It will be a long weekend, so nicely scheduled to boost the faltering rhythm of work after the long winter holiday break. I fear or I know that I will squander this time on self-indulgence of various flavors. I know that I won't read much. A shame.
But he can't be conscious, right, dead DFW? His words are artificially animated. Though I live now somteimes right down the street from the address he gave right there on the page, or would he have actually had he lived? He must have known that he couldn't actually publish this and that's why he had to hang himself, if that's how he did it. Was it existential suicide or was it an escape from pain. Or is that the same as escape from the imperative for pleasure? I wouldn't have been able to knock him up in life, so what difference can it possibly make that I can't do that in death either. His consciousness only meant to me when it was active on the page. How would I know the difference? He's a classic now. Larger than life.
There is surely no god but Allah, and yet he is no more there. Can I ring him up or out or over? There is a book for these things too, I hear. By why would anyone read what is already obvious before you open its covers? I guess some pleasures do reward return.
Do I still insist that I am conscious? I think that means that I can tell my story in response to yours, but look how poorly I write. There will be no book and yet then what am I for if I can be gone that easily. You know, my memory does deteriorate and I can't come up with words most of the time even while speaking. Maybe my consciousness is not really something for me to decide all by myself. And why do I care anyhow about these scattered references to myself, those things of value I leave about? Why should I feel responsible since they aren't exactly hurting anyone, those pieces of me floating around in other peoples' spaces. Do I also exist only in other peoples' minds, then? Or only in my own, where I am legend?
I think it would be my own regret is all, you know, to have a part of me lopped off that still means something to me in my mind; in my imagination there is something there. Or is it only the money? Or shall I just scatter myself so far and wide and without memorable connection that I am no more there than a lone surfer in languid motion waiting for a wave which never will come because if it would there would be others there as well. Maybe that's it. Maybe that's all there is.
I do love, though, and that's not something a machine can ever do, although I don't doubt that there are lots of substrates on top of which narratives might ride. It's just that my own narrative is so scattered now. I don't know how much I care to keep it going. It takes so much effort and did I say that there is such a toxic environment now at work.
All of us live now in our effluent because we would like to remain that separate, to ride our cars and surf to authenticity on buff bodies and more buff minds. So no wonder work is that way too, since we are that convinced of bankruptcy though, you know, the sum total valuation of wealth by any measure has never been higher. It's just that so much gets discarded, and so many people too now, because they don't look so appetizing. If they would only cull themselves and then I wouldn't feel so guilty. Cut me some slack.
But you will determine when I'm gone for good, since that's no job of mine. As far as I can tell I'm still here and now. Or I can't remember. But you know I don't have the words now any more than Dad does. It's all relative, and I'm not sure we think he's really there anymore. But he must still think so. Or is there no there there, as with California sprawl. The background can repeat itself so long as there is something foregrounded, and the illusion of motion. Pictures.
So consciousness is aspirational. I desire that you think that I know something, am somebody, have something to say and yet I cannot get you to listen to me because I haven't the words. My words are not beautiful by analog to what makes beautiful people so powerful, and so the desire I have is leading to nowhere and nothing. I don't care enough, is that right?
So I am lazy. So I am decrepit. But here I am in SoCal and I can't get warm. Were it this indoor temperature in Buffalo now I would be very cozy and nice and warm. These words that people use now just keep getting better and better and so why would anyone want to listen to mine; to believe that I have something to say.
DFW has no aspiration anymore is all. Take him or leave him he has already said all that he has to say, and for the most part he remains that attractive compared, say, to someone like me, although I think you might like me better as a pal. I would never betray you that way, nor be quite that alone and therefore apart. From you. The trouble is not that he died. The trouble is that he never did publish this book that I'm now reading, and it's good enough that you feel betrayed. Like he copped out,
There are too many words already scattered about the planet, and I cannot align mine with them. There are too many things we know are true, and yet I know none of them. And so Zizek, for instance, since I'm watching him on video at the moment, is a freak as comfortable aligning himself with brilliant words as were those abstraticians described by DFW in his history of [the sign of] infinity, which means why bother for the rest of us. Our minds are simply never that present. Never that abstractable. There is so much power in that kind of mental focus. You can, for instance, propose an atomic bomb and get it built. To what end, you ask? Well, power is a foil to fear, am I right? Am I right?
Although I won't applaud him, Zizek, because who does he connect with anyhow except for people who congratulate themselves for having understood him. Another naked emperor, because how would we know, apart from the level of their applause and adulation, that they have, in fact and in deed understood Zizek. Are they doing what he would have them do? He seems nice enough and would never insult someone to his face, I don't think. Therefore am I?
The thing with Zizek, obviously enough, is that he grew up where one wasn't allowed to read openly and write openly and think openly and so what we feel guilty about not doing because we're too busy with what he calls the imperative to enjoy, to indulge ourselves, to spend money, he found illicit pleasure in reading and thinking and writing. Imagine philosophy as sex and you might almost be as much a Stalin champion as Zizek sometimes claims to be.
But yes, that would be back to the toxic workplace; execution of someone else's demands. Is he doing what he would have them do? What would be the act which would erase the need for philosophy then? But first I must regulate the money which means that I am regulated by the machine which means that my aspirational consciousness is but a fraud since, I think, I wouldn't do it if I didn't have the space to do it which means if I didn't have the money.
We are the most regulated people in history, which hardly makes us free. The calibrations enter to our most nether reaches. Even the pennies there. We cannot share. We are digitally consumed by thises or thats which cannot be their opposites. Which is much the pity. We will surely pay for all this pleasure.
Can one talk oneself to freedom? Or is there something one must do? And once done would I be there anymore, or would it be annihilation without absence a kind of AWOL of the mind. Would the body follow? Does it ever?
And so, dear heart, I go back to reading DFW, Zizek, leMonde, laLune. There was once, I am certain of it, a moment when I was conscious. And so can you. But if I read them to sense, these words will connect me in ways beyond mere livlihood. The lowest common denominator is to be, authentically, you. About as unique as being naked. About as authentic. Original.
Desire anticipates consciousness. Consciousness anticipates destruction in dreams of immortality. Abstraction is a ruse. There is always a magic screen. There is always something uglier in reality.