Well, so today marks the last post in completion of a full month’s worth of daily posting, thus meeting the requirement for fulfillment of a National Blog Posting Month! I had tried last month but was unable to complete it. I came pretty close to not posting some days this month, but with the pestering and encouragement of my girlfriend, I was able to punch through it. I think it was a useful exercise to get me to free up my fingers and mind a little bit and just put something out there, whether I thought it was worthwhile or not. But I admit that I am glad to be done with it. Here’s to a healthy dose of silence ‘tween well-formulated bouts of speech.
It’s kind of weird, don’t you think, that blogging, texting, Facebooking, Twittering, etc, have become so blasé that no one thinks to even comment on these technological everyday manifestations of our interconnectivity anymore? I mean, these are things that didn’t really exist a mere 10 years ago, at least not in the form of critical mass that makes them truly meaningful in a social context. Now we take it for granted that we can constantly communicate with each other in what is tantamount to another dimension. We can convey ourselves immediately through the written word in a way never before possible, not to mention the addition of video, sound, and photos. It’s all so mundane now, but once upon a time getting onto your modem and then onto a bulletin board to share your hobby or chat with someone about something was a strange new world. Now it seems like there’s a blog for every locale, activity, and interest. And I think that’s a good thing, of course. I’m just amazed at how swiftly and easily we have taken it in stride.
What this portends, I believe, is that–contrary to the fear of a sci-fi future of disconnected blobs hiding behind self-stimulating machines–technology is evolving to enable us to connect with each other more effectively. In every type of way, both deep and shallow, both in sex and in spirit. You’ve got the guy using craigslist to find a prostitute on one hand and the mother sharing photos of her newborn baby on the other. And while there is truth to the statement that internet is the new TV–and I am guilty of wasting away far too much time doing nothing productive–the fact is that what you get out of technology is pretty much what you want to get out of it. The tools that we have at our fingertips are impressive. We can go to zoom in on a city street and find out exactly what the building looks like where we are meeting someone and what side of the street it’s on. We can look up the quote that has been bothering us and not only find out who said it, but furthermore what line on what page it was written in.
A lot of our use of this new power is purely narcissistic or for entertainment or voyeuristic, but then again, that’s what humanity is all about, aren’t we? You take a look at all the wide range of blogs out there, I mean, my god, you could write an anthropology paper on it. And yes, half the time Facebook is just people taking personality quizzes or posting status updates about how drunk they are, but it also gives you a glimpse into the lives of people who you may never have gotten to know otherwise. You may not want to talk to many people on the phone and keep up with them, but there are people that you grew up with or have met that you remember sometimes and get curious about. And it’s nice to be able to see their new baby, or to know that they moved to another city. In other words, a lot of stuff is a waste of time, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about how much you invest in it and how much you expect from it. It can be completely shallow, or it can be a tool to communicate things about yourself that you may not be able to otherwise.
Not everyone is effective at socializing in traditional contexts, like at a bar or even just in any face-to-face conversation. Some people just don’t understand body language, or come off as incredibly conceited, or don’t have much to say immediately. But new forms of communication allow such people to interact without confusing signals or ambient noise. Which can create some other forms of confusion, such as misunderstandings over sarcasm (hence the use of emoticons), but overall, there is the opportunity to convey many things that could not be conveyed in a traditional context.
So I’m a big fan of these developments. I feel like all these new tools are an opportunity to explore myself and others more deeply. My fiancee reads my blog and I read hers. We learn things about each other that we would never have said directly in a conversation. We announced our engagement on Facebook. So much more effective and easy than calling a bunch of people, which I never would have done anyway. And I remember farther back, when we were “going steady” or whatever the hell you call it now when you are not just hooking up with someone, how big of a step it was to change our relationship statuses on MySpace. Now look, I maligned MySpace and cellphones and every other social technological development just as much as anyone when they burst forth onto the scene. I resisted having a cellphone for years before I finally gave in. But now I obviously accept social tools for what they are, and I don’t feel weird about “advertising” my life anymore on the web. I think it’s great, that we can share so much about ourselves with each other. Is 85% of it TMI? Most definitely. But in the eyes of a god, it’s all food and fodder for understanding.
Gotta escape that zone of sameness and bland expectation, where your complacent everyday self knows exactly what it will do (nothing) and who it will see (noone). Break the cycle of doldrum limbo stagnancy and force yourself into a situation wherein you know you will be uncomfortable and scared to go, cuz in that place of strange alien modish pressure you will be taken beyond what you can control, and you will be forced to be exactly what you are in that exact moment of place-time circumstance. In all of your imperfect, half-formed glory. Go, no matter your status, your age, your defined self in-context: go to places that you have never seen, go to people you have never met, stick yourself into sketchiness, fear, gray dim areas of uncertainty, where you don’t speak the language, and you have to gesture to make yourself understood, and people are tattoed and pierced and confused and full of life. Do this, and you will never despair. Do this, and your fear will lessen. So that you are not scared to live. So that you are not scared to die. Because the two are one and the same. So go go go go go. The tether that holds you to yourself cannot be broken by anyone except yourself. Be yourself and go to places where you do not belong.
Eventually, it’s time to put down your roots in each step of your foot, to deny the possibility of stepping aside for anyone, to declare, firmly, that you belong here, that you have a purpose and a direction that cannot be ceded. You have a right to exist and to move unimpeded towards your destination. Others may move aside. You will only stop, patiently, until they acknowledge that they must move around you.
That you will bow to no one.
There is only one power to submit to, and it exists beyond the superficial territoriality of the street.
(Contrast this with another Territory post from LA long ago)
I’m a little stressed out right now. I was just sitting down to write my daily (nightly) post and I had put the birds to bed, when I heard my parakeet, Claudia, fluttering frantically about in her cage. This isn’t too unusual for her, as she is a very spastic kind of bird and will frequently fall from her perch randomly and flap around. When I pulled up the cover to check on her, though, I saw that she seemed to be caught on a new toy we had just put into her cage. She had got caught like a fish on a hook somehow on the attachment, and it looked like she had her beak caught. So I had to grab her and then pull her off. The poor thing had got the underside of her beak caught, and I really hope that the damage isn’t serious. She’s bleeding, but she seems to be otherwise OK. All I can do right now is put her back to bed and hope that she can recover while resting and that the wound will heal. I’m canceling a Zipcar outing up the Hudson Valley tomorrow so that I can be around. Which maybe sounds weird considering that she’s a tiny little bird, but in the absence of children, she’s one of my babies. Poor Claudia! She’s a sweet, very active and vocal little bird. When she is out of the cage with Vincent, my Amazon parrot, she grooms him and they feed each other. She also likes to groom me and peck at my lips. When she is in her cage, she jumps around playing with all of her toys, especially the one with the little mirror with the bell on it. She sings practically all day long and mimics sounds very well–much better, ironically, than my parrot.
In other less maudlin news, I’ve been interviewing like crazy all this week, so I should find out soon where I’ll end up teaching. Which is good, considering the school year starts in another week. Today after an interview I went over to a music store and jammed on a hand carved djembe with one of the employees on drum kit and made a friend. It made me excited to start playing again. As he was reminding me, this city is full of people playing hand drums, so I really don’t have any excuse for not getting my chops back up. Time to start looking around for people to jam with. Time to start looking around for people, period. I’ve been in New York over a year now and have barely gone out. But then again, once the school year starts, I’ll be swamped anyway. Here’s to keeping busy. And to getting a paycheck.
And give a prayer for little Claudia, I just checked on her and she’s not looking so hot.
As our intrepid hero followed this strange group of misfits down the misted squares of midnight cobblestone streets, he bethought himself of where it was he was venturing to, and whom therewith. He knew, thus far, that he was going to see a boat. But a mysterious boat, apparently, because there was much ado about it over the multiple Mordant Thieves they had consumed at Club Zephyr. Some kind of special boat in which was performed missions. What kind of missions, unknown.
Once taken out of the sexually amplified, intellectually dimmed environment of the club, Crispin found his companions surreal, even slightly demonic in manifestation. They walked together silently, almost grimly, purposely striding towards their mysterious destination in a formation of four, with Crispin straggling behind like a small child. They all seemed locked into their individual worlds of thought. As the silence weighed down upon him, Crispin felt the need to say something, anything. But right as he was about to break the hold of that witching hour before dawn, Taft suddenly stopped and spewed chunks that were backlit by a florescent hair salon sign. He leaned over the curb, heaving and spluttering. The group stopped and waited impatiently.
“Goddamit, Taft” Looger muttered ominously, shuffling awkwardly on his feet.
“A waste of quality drink, that is,” Kruger opined, leaning up against a post and twiddling his fingers.
“So . . .spphrt! . . sorry, folks . . . spppt . . .hhheeww . . . just a minor malfunction of equilibrioception due to the shortness of my legs in relation to . . . .spsptth! . . . the over acuity of my vestibular system,” Taft explained as he cleared his esophagus.
“Or something,” Lydia said, her arms crossed, though not unkindly.
As they waited for Taft to recollect himself and finish blowing his nose, Crispin felt an increasing sense of unease. He was totally out of his element, and all he wanted to do was go back to the club and take body shots off Melana. As he was envisioning that pleasant scenario, a gun shot rang out and suddenly everything changed.
The rule of the cosmos: you can’t ask for anything. You’ve got to just take what you need and give what you have. Seems to be the way things work, more or less. Like, if I get a little bit too screechy, needy, desperate for love and attention, then all I can hear is the veritable waves on the shore in the shell held up to the ear. So I have to regroup, sit down in the empty night space and meditate on my nothingness. How I have nothing, I am nothing, I will gain nothing. I’ve got to keep it all in perspective, somehow. Clam up, button the hole, and just observe, just watch the way the world works. The way that light seems to be generated not by light but by some other order of power. How all of the good things in life are really just a residue of extreme evisceration. The trickling out of beauty from the suffering awareness of despair.
So how to live life in this full declaration of madness? The masses recline before the injection of beauty. So dawn it upon them in full, without shame or fear or denial. There is nothing to lose. There is nothing to gain. There is just what you allow yourself to be, here, in this place of moment.