A New Year, A New Era
January 31st Reducto Absurdum
Want to see democracy at work? Here's some leaked interofficce mail (real!) from someone I know working at US Trust:
Last August, Chuck Schwab was invited to participate in the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas. At that meeting, Chuck proposed several ways to restore investor confidence and jump-start the economy. One idea he suggested was ending the double taxation of dividends. At the time, the President told Chuck that he "loved the idea." Now Congress is getting ready to debate the President's economic stimulus package -- which includes as its centerpiece ending the double taxation of dividends. It's just one example of our continuing influence in Washington. In the new issue of The Red Zone, Mike Townsend, from Schwab's Office of Government Affairs, previews the 108th Congress, focusing on the issues that impact Schwab and its clients -- starting with the President's tax-cut proposal. It's just one of several important stories in the new issue.
Thank you sir, may I have another! Here's more fodder for my thesis about media in the control of people:
Media in the control of people. Not necessarily "The People" as the pinkos would have it -- I think there are about as many problems with "The People" as there are with what we have at the moment -- but people singular. Crafty, intelligent, human beings full of flaws and marvel and quirky desires. People singular who make beautiful consensual connections with other people singular and become people plural. I don't really think we need class warfare in this country. We need love.
Another Canadian site. Why do they have such cool shit?
January 30th Too Good
Busy days. Work is kicking in. Check out this really amazing State of the Union Remix. That's coming less than 48 hours after the event. This is what I mean when I talk to people about how the future of media is bright. Big companies no longer have any sort of lock on high quality production and the internet gives us the free distribution/expression network we need to share with anyone who'll listen. It's the future baby, time to ditch that old business model.
January 29th Short Report
Another quality voice and friend of mine has thrown his hat into the wild and woolly mailstrom of the blogosphere: read Matt Urban's Urbanblight.
Not much new today. I did some really wonderful exercises in Steve's acting class, letting budding young artists do sommersaults over my prone body and re-discovering the joys of play. It's really striking being back in those old classrooms, feeling how good it is to go through a full acting warm-up with 16 other people. I've got to get back into that groove somehow.
Then it was up to Westchester to see what Peter's been up to. We talk politics and a little biz, trying to get a handle on just where the hell this crazy 2003 rocket is taking us. Then back to the city, quiz nite and home. I'm blissfully tuckered out after an honest 17-hours on my feet.
January 28th Some Needless Sarcasm
I watched the State of the Union with my housemates even though I knew it would piss me off. Not much that I say here will be news, but I want to vent a little anyway.
Oh, the cognitive dissonance! A-stock had the best assessment: especially on the domestic agenda part, it seemed oddly reminiscent of a high-school election speech made by a not-so-serious student. "We're going to eliminate homework and extend lunch!" A lot of promises and seemingly little actual resolve to follow through. The bit about $15B for AIDS in Africa was nice, even if it was a humanitarian red herring. But the talk of protecting the environment by eliminating it (his forestry plan), helping senior citizens by cutting dividends (huh?) and putting doctors and nurses (as opposed to HMO's and other beuraucracies) back in charge of health care by making sure we all have insurance (what!) left me shaking my head in wonder.
And don't even get me started on the Iraq shit. Yes, Saddam's an evil son of a bitch. Yes, his people would likely be better off if they had a democracy, or at least a more benevolent dictatorship. Yes, Iraq has been at best passively cooporative with inspections. All this justifies war how? What's our reason for killing thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of human beings, soiling our international reputation and potentially plunging more than one nation into total chaos? Because we can "win?" Because we have a UN resolution? Because we said so and we're the superpower? Sorry Mr Bush, I don't see it, and neither does the rest of the world or most of this country. Iraq doesn't scare me, but smacking at the hornet's nest sure does. Your talk of terror doesn't frighten me enough to want that, and it's becoming pretty clear that there's no rational reason to be behind this war, at least not one that's morally sound enough to bring out in the light of day.
January 27th Wild Rover
God's be praised. I can send email from alt.coffee via nycwireless.net! The connection is spotty (think it's coming from across the park) but I've gotten two emails out and made this entry, so that's worth something!
What a crap game that was. Advertisements too, if you ask me. While there was a great classic orgy of consumption (chips, beer, wings, pizza, and so on) organized downstairs at The Meek, the whole affair something of a tension fest. The housemate-to-housemate dogging was a little out of control (A-Stock and John digging into each other even before kickoff) and while I try to ride above such chaotic concerns, my black Irish fight-picking side got the better of me a few times. Why can't we all just get along? Where does all that alpha-male bullshit come from anyway. As the book says, you don't have to screw other people over to survive.
The anti-pot commercial with the pregnant teen was priceless though. What the hell is going on in this country? If we're serious about preventing teen pregnancy -- not to mention date-rape -- we aught to worry more about underage drinking rather than marijuana. I read the following line on theantidrug.com:
"There is no difference between leaving a toddler alone in a bath tub and leaving a teenager, or any child for that matter, with unsupervised time."
Riiiiiiight... and human beings learn responsibility how?
Let's get real for a second here. I'm not going to advocate that teenagers should use drugs and alcohol. It tends to retard their development physiologically, psychologically and socially. However, the way to insure that your child is not going to end up a drug addicted failure is not to monitor their every move. As many of the other parental entries on this site show (fascinating reading, by the way) the best way to be a good parent is to foster an honest relationship with your children. This is much more difficult than being authoritarian and controlling, but in the end far more valuable as well.
I could draw an analogy now relating this parent/child paradigm to government/citizen, but that would be un-American of me, don't you think?
January 26th Ego Stroke
So many strokes to the old ego are coming in I'm starting to fear the specter of hubris. It's always been a bitch. The feeling I have lately recalls the state I was in at the beginning of my senior year of college. Back then I was in peak physical condition, artistically engaged on realizing a full-length play of my own devising and direction, intellectually stimulated by classes and friends, in almost all respect materially at ease with life. Basically, I was on top of my game, respected, a seasoned veteran of my program, eager to burn bright in my final hours. It was an optimistic time.
I remember going to a party and standing around while beautiful women vied for my attention, sometimes three or four at once. I even went home with one of them, though that didn't end up turning out quite how I'd hoped. Surely this experience -- not to mention the current recollection of it -- is largely informed by attitude and perspective, yet the sense I have inside, that everything is humming along almost too well to life's savage and blissful music, is strong and reminiscent. I feel nearly besieged by opportunity, a strong contrast to my furtive and frustrated search for meaning and prospects over the past six months or so.
What happened back then was a rather predictable collapsing tower of cards. Some things (the art) came through as valuable focus points. Others (the girls) proved to be little more than sweetly-scented entropic quicksand, just one more thing to keep one from sleeping well. Today I hope to manage my path to the truth with more acumen. Time will tell.
January 25th Gypsy Bitch
I'm not being pejorative; that's what the tall cold beer is called at the Bulgarian Bar. But first, an important link: the best mainstream argument against war I've found yet. This one is aimed squarely at the heart of the country, even praises Ronald Regan. Pass it around, might convince some people.
And now back to our lurid autobiographical content, already in progress. Went dancing at the Bulgarian Bar last night. Prior to that saw some Improv comedy that put me in the wrong mood. It was Laura's group and there were some real good points, but the MC was too needy -- I'm talking in a kind of ethereal and emotive way -- and it kind of got things off on the wrong foot. It wasn't that she asked for audience input (that's a necessity), it was how she asked. Somehow it was un-generous. That and she didn't know what disinterred meant. That old prejudice about brains is a tough vice to kick.
I was all lubed up physically from doing a yoga demonstration in Steve's class at ETW that morning -- that was a pretty exciting experience, being a half-way teacher person -- so I was looking forward to the dancing. It was everything you want from the Bulgarian Bar: crazy techno/folk music with horns, circle dancing and shouting "hey hey hey hey," big tall refreshing beer, Bulgarians. We were there with a whole crew, even Frank's friend Rose visiting from St. Louis, who I found out enjoys outlandishjosh, a great ego-boost since she's pretty smart (introduced us to trivia night) and a writer and I respect her opinion.
Though a little slow to start, I grooved for about four hours, which is a kind of spiritual release for me. Eventually I succumbed to the politics of the dance floor. There was a shortish American girl who I didn't like so much but whom I started stringing along and a pretty good looking -- and balsy: pissing in the mens room -- Bulger(?) redhead who was much more fun to dance with but as it turns out has a boyfriend, which put me off a bit. I'm really in it for the dancing, no expectations, no further designs, but when you've had a lot of beer and you're nudging people's pelvises with your thigh you get odd ideas about where all of it is going. The whole scene collapsed at about 3am, my friends gone hours ago, me feeling frustrated and drunk, time to head home. Long waits for the trains back to W-burg and a slice of very greasy pizza to munch on the biking leg to G-point.
I think what really annoyed me was the morally compromising element of the whole thing, at turns dancing with someone who had a boyfriend and someone who I didn't really dig. It wasn't the Truth.
But life will go on. There is coffee, great powercafe that I bought at the Berkeley Bowl with Luke and Kim. Good old times. Today I help Julia move and maybe have a relaxing and inexpensive evening.
January 23rd Back in the USSR
Returned back to the land of the wild and home of the freezing. It's fucking cold here! Wind chill is down around -6. Zowie... and I'm taking a bike ride later. Oh man.
But enough about the weather, here's the petition du-jour: www.clw.org/iraqpetition/. More locally, a friend of mine is in jail, though not for any particularly good reason. Learn more at: free-eddie.com/
Also, got some fan mail from The Melancholy Rhino. Always neat to hear from people who are looking at my site. He's got some really cool artwork up on his.
January 22nd In-Flight Notation
Hot damn! With the screen brightness turned a little bit down, my fancy new laptop gets four hours to the battery. This is good news for my productive efforts, and for anyone who likes reading them.
Complications on the return leg of the trip. I stupidly misread my itinerary and showed up at the airport several hours late, having spent the intervening time thoroughly enjoying a beer and some bluegrass with good old Zetan. We talked art with his photographer roommate and enjoyed the authenticity and ambience that this classic American music brought us. Perhaps the thing I love more than anything else about bluegrass is that it's nearly impossible to play it ironically. Even the god-songs, played and sung by folk I assume are non-believers, have a way of communicating something pure and beautiful. It was a nice way to spend a few hours.
Realizing my scheduling error at the airport, I had a moment of panic before I realized I could re-schedule everything that needed re-scheduling without any serious problems, hop on a flight first thing next morning, and go on leading my life already in progress. Luckily, Robin was able to snag me back from PDX and provide shelter for another night. I'd stayed with him and his roommates Matt and Anya the night prior, but we're good enough friends that the hospitality knows no bound.
The subject of hospitality neatly brings me around to something I do want to explore. Collectivism is on my mind lately. Last night at Robin's we watched the Swedish film Together which is about a commune in Stockholm in 1975. It's pretty good all told, with a now-familiar documentary/"real world" kind of feeling. I found the film especially interesting since I spent some of my formative years in a communal environment, and just recently revisited it for the first time since adolescence with possibly my oldest friend Rachel. It was a great experience to renew my connection with the old place and the old people, and I hope to come back again, with mom in tow, this summer.
Over the past few days I've been hammering away at a life-plan document organized around my new theme of Praxis, which I want to finish up soon and send out to as many friends as I can. This document has a section covering my long-term ambitions, which include the instigation of some kind of communal living arrangement/retreat/sanctuary. I already have some of that at The Meek, but I really do want to push the idea further. I think that in general we need to re-invent was of co-habitation that keep our connections to one another strong. We need to find ways of sticking together, lest society dis-integrate into an anomie-filled nothing.
Lately I see many of my friends and acquaintances and my self coming up against a common set of obstacles. Some of this is surely age-related, the so-called "quarter life crisis" making its presence felt. Some of this is probably specific to the environment and times we live in, anxiety over impending war for instance. Some of it -- spiritual longing and a desire to be connected -- is surely as old as time. On a good week, I consider myself an instigator.- Julia gave me that title once and I rather like it, and on a good week -- as an instigator -- I want to do something productive with all the untapped potential energy that's latent in my friends and family. I want to set something in motion.
It's been on my radar to go to Burning Man for quite some time, and I've decided that this is my year. I reached the decision after reading a piece by Larry Harvey entitled "Viva Las Xmas" about the pervasive nature of consumerism and how Burning Man represents some potentially viable alternative options. While I've always been quick to point out the inherent lack of sustainability of such festival-type events (e.g. my beloved Oregon Country Fair), I also believe they have virtue beyond their sheer entertainment value. There are great lessons to be learned. The OCF imparts a lot about community and enterprise and family, which I think of as pre-consumerism phenomena, and I can only hope that Burning Man can give me some hints at what post-consumer social structures might look like.
January 19th Postmodernism == Cocktease
The minutes and hours in the old country are flying by now. I'm packing, preparing, trying to set everything just so. Last night I missed the monkey pack but I had an ok time anyway, exploring the Eugene I never knew. I'm also working on three documents: Praxis, Dancing and Poetry. This is in addition to some work (gainful employment) that's coming blissfully down the pipe.
Praxis is kind of a "state of the Josh" thing for 2003, full of pseudomathamatical social theory and efforts to grapple with the devilish details of what I should do with my life. It's shaping up. Dancing is about communication and desire and (naturally) sex. It might turn out to be a performance piece before too long. Poetry is an admonition to embrace the sublime. Too much of life shrinks from greatness. I like all of these threads, and they're in addition to the three other theatrical notions I'm composting and the one piece of spoken philosophy (something I winged at the last Axiom) I've yet to transcribe. The new year looks busy. That's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it.
I have hope for myself and the world. I'm beginning to understand that I can be private without being a liar, and I can be public without telling the truth. I'm full of piss and vinegar. I'm ready to stomp the steel and lay down some smoldering rubber. I'm ready to write love poems and erotic fiction. I'm ready for anything and everything, and I feel the laser of focus giving me everything I need, my heavenly connection to the starry dynamo. I'm angelheaded.
January 17th Shiverin' in the Corner
The MC5 are a Whole Thing. I read that on the back of one of their records in some shop on Telegraph Ave, and it's stuck somewhere in my subconscious. Keeps popping up at odd times. Underlined like that; a Whole Thing.
Good times last night, seeing theater and having dinner and drinks with the Mom, then more drinks and eventually dancing with friends. We hit the now venerable 80's night, which has suffered in some ways from the smaller space (less room for real dancing) but benefited in others (tighter-packing means more incidental body contact, suffusing the whole affair with even more sex). I was a little too tipsy to really make it work, and towards the end the whole predatory male thing started looking ugly to me. I'm really all for freedom of sensuality and casual encounters, but my fantasies involve equity.
So I was hung-over at the doctor's this morning for a general physical exam. Good old Doctor Scott. There's nothing quite like having your testicles felt through latex by a professional to put you at ease with your existence. Seriously. Clean bill of health.
Also, the other day I got an email from Lance, the webmaster for the North Border store, who wanted me to link to their store since I listed a Mad Bomber hat on my now defunct xmas gifts page. Since I didn't get any of those things (must not have circulated the link to my family), I decided to buy myself that hat. Maybe I should keep that page around as a general wish list, just in case fortune smiles. Or maybe I should just throw my wish-list business Amazon's way, though that somehow feels wrong, like selling out or something.
I've gotten a bunch of good site-inspired emails lately. Though I get a crapload of spam, the secret-admirer notes and long-lost connections make it all worth it. This week I got the note from Lance, a fan note with no return address from "Ann" and an inquiry about the Monkey Tribe, wondering if we were in North Georgia on the 4th of July. I find all this fascinating and fun, leading a pretty public life on the net.
Anyway, bully for me, the good people at North Border kindly provide free shipping. This will soon be keeping my head warm as I rip through NYC on two slick tires in the bitter heart of winter. Looking forward to that, actually: the adversity, the opportunity, the sheer physical exertion of my life there has begun to make its siren call. Almost time to blaze anew.
January 16th This is Science
I'm finally getting around to reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, a seminal piece of geek literature. It's the first (worthwhile) book I've read to make use of the modern technology world as setting and substance, and it's a ripping good yarn to boot. I liked his Snow Crash, a delightful semi-comic take on the whole cyberpunk genre. Stephenson's grasp of character and dialogue is pretty strong, though he sometimes lapses into stereotypes, and his prose lacks much in lyrical or imagistic quality. One gets the feeling when he describes a place that he has many charts and maps and models to aid him, yet he's rarely able to convey much in the way of a sense of place. His true genius is in his ability to weave a plot around esotaric datum and to delve into the mighty minutia and details that define our world. His rhapsodic description of how one of the protagonists enjoys his Cap'n'Crunch is nothing short of brilliant.
The book has a number of protagonists of a more or less nerdish leaf, men who worship logic and rationality, constantly seeking the underlying nature or reason of things. This has caused me to do a little bit of self reflection since I used to be quite like this, a frustrated little boy with deterministic secrets. I've grown up considerably since then, overcoming my petulant adolescent denials of a metaphysical world, but there's still that homing-beacon for order inside me, the pop-psych left brain hard at work trying to understand it all.
I've always been a bit of a scientist, but more and more I am understanding the necessity of science to encompass the irrational and unknowable. This is why art and science are so similar at high or expert levels. Sure, first-year chemistry and the exercises I learned early in my performance training are quite distinct, but in praxis (that's my word, baby!) they're applied toward the same end: understanding and communication something which is more or less ineffable.
Science got a great jump on this with Heisenburg's uncertainty principle, which is the precursor to most of post-modern theory as far as I'm concerned. They know they'll never know it all for sure, but if the experimental results are consistent, they don't need to. The experimental proof of art is in an audience: (1)did they get it? (2)did it change them? (3)did they like it? (n)etc. Of course, good artists have always intuitively known that the observation of a thing changes the thing itself -- claiming otherwise would more or less invalidate art as a noble pursuit, reducing it to the status of personal therapy -- but we're not big on theories and formulae, so these sorts of notions tends to get passed down as folk-wisdom.
The thing I realize reading Stephenson is how little appreciation (post)modernity has for the intrinsically mystic elements of life. My natural impulse is to impune consumerism since it's much harder to package and mass-produce mysticism than it is, say, sugary beverages -- and thus the cultural milieu we find ourselves in is one rather devoid of imagination or wonder -- but maybe there's something more at work than just the massed weight of progress clouding our collective third eye. People focus on the practical, structural and physical elements in history and often ignore the irrational and unpredictable bits. This is in part because irrational and unpredictable things are hard to write papers about. They tend to confuse and awe us and are hard to cite as bibliographical sources, yet their power is undeniable.
This brings me back to my conversations with Luke in the Bay, his structural mindset vs. mine which is more agency-centric. While I see the understanding of structure as absolutely necessary, human beings are in the end free agents, and it's the collected mass of these free choices which causes the structures we live within to persist or to change. I wrote a performance piece a little more than a year ago which addresses this in a slightly oblique way, but that's because it's meant to be a stirring work of art rather than an exposition of an idea. Re-reading it, I'm reminded what I believe.
On the night that Luke and I got soused and argued, I wrote the note to myself that "maybe just as
fantasy+reality=experience for individuals,
structure+agency=outcome for a society." It's a rather banal observation, I'm sure, but the real juice for me is in the combined equation; agency becomes an average of experiences and structure is an average of realities. This makes for some pretty complex pseudo-math, and a lot more pseudo-scientific artistic thinking.
January 14th Praxis
n : translating an idea into action; "a hard theory to put into practice"; "differences between theory and praxis of communism" [syn: practice]
Got a new machine and a title for 2003. Mark called it "the year of getting shit done." I call it praxis.
January 13th The Return
Well, my first impulses with Luke's lesbionic-leaning classmate were correct; makeout city. She is more well-versed in the fine art of truthful living than I, which made for some interesting conversation -- hence the initial attraction -- but also made it all the more interesting to watch the changes that come over people when engaged in any sort of sensual activity. I find it endlessly fascinating, both in myself and others, though I try to keep my intellectualization of kissing in the retrospective mode so as not to loose the precious moment. The best part was trying fruitlessly to keep the whole thing on the downlow from our hosts, lended a slightly titillating sense of danger and transgression to the whole enterprise.
Besides that I had some more good talks with Lucas and then a peaceful trainride north after enduring mass-transit hell, waiting for a transfer that never came at the Bay Bridge toll booth station. I walked the long low tunnel under the highway several times in search of the connection, finally picking up the same route I rode out back into Oakland where an unlikely cab stopped for my hand signal and ferried me direct to the Amtrak station. The whole thing was an exercise in deja-vu; taking bus rides back and forth along the same blurry road I'd walked home New Years Eve, chancing upon a cab driver from a nation my country had recently bombed (this time Afghanistan, on the way from 787 to JFK I had an Iraqi) who spoke in slightly racist tones. Arriving with plenty of time to make the train, the girl in front of me in line was strangely reminiscent of an old flame -- reminiscent enough to remind me of my belief in 'types.' You watch people long enough and you start to see how they kind of all look the same in some ways, and how odd features tend to match up from one person to another. How else to explain the same eyebrows and ass on two unrelated women?
In any event, I am now back in the homeland, reveling in the newness of it all, partying it up with friends newly returned from months of living the low life in Hawaii and spending time with the matriarchs of my family. I shall make my last week here one for the history books if it is within my power.
January 10th Righteous Dehydration
Luke and I became savagely drunk last night, listening to country and western music, railing about class and war and the future. We sometimes will get just completely plastered and have intense arguments over highly etherial topics, like the merits of the American Revolution or various schemes for campaign finance reform. Personally I love it. He's got a lot of perspective that I don't, being trained to see things structurally. I, being an artist, offer a more agency-oriented view of things: the notion that individuals make the difference. It was grand fun, but we're paying for it now.
Food for thought: are todays "hipster kids" trendily atavistic, or merely ignorant and reactionary?
January 9th Grey Day
Man I need an editor, or a spellchecker at least. Reading through my last few entries I'm appalled at the broken state of my english. It's not just the hackneyed vocabulary, the tarted-up cliches and the numerous phonetic blunders -- I learned to read early, but have never been compitant at spelling -- but the generally run-down quality of my own prose. I blurt a lot, and this leads to innefectual rambling when not focused.
Focus has always been a key for me.
So I'm winding through a lot of identity mishmash lately, and a part of that for me is how I use this particular tool, the website. It's become clear to me that there are certain things that I'm not quite ready to write about in the moment, in real-time. Although I'm getting better at living up to the axiom that "the truth always feels better," the question of timing still plagues. For instance, in spite of my mission to live a more truthful and transparent life when I first started this thing I made no note of a last-minute fling I had with a girl, fooling around in a four-post bed literally hours before rushing to catch a west-bound airplane. It was psychologically significant for me at the time, but I didn't make any public note of it or even talk about it other than to admit to Frank that it happened (he'd forseen and advised against) until July. Now what the hell is up with that?
Well, for starters there's the simple truth that females of the species are really imporant to me, especially internally. Much like the console cowboy in William Gibson's "Burning Chrome," I feel that women are kind of my cosmic I-Ching. They're probably the best single indicator of my mood. You ask me how it's going with girls, that's pretty much how it is with me. I know myself well enough that when there are no prospects it means I'm depressed, and in my infrequent stretches of being actively girl-crazy -- chasing skirts you might say -- that preoccupation has been more engrossing than any of my other vices on record.
So women are a big deal. Go tell it on the mountain, then get in line because that's the case for about 87% percent of the men on the planet (the other 13% being equally obsessed with other boys). I'm not stupid. I realize this doesn't make me unique. However, there's just enough of the confused and befuddled teenager in me that I'm highly protective of my desires. Afraid of being mocked, exposed, reduced. There's also a part of me silently worrying that my feelings are ugly and wrong, the part of me that tries to keep the rest of me on that short short leash.
I'm fine with the teenage part -- sensitivity and vulnerability imply a certain need for protection; this is natural -- but the "ugly and wrong" voice has got to go. Overstayed his welcome he has, not even sure how he got into the joint... thought we 86'ed his ass a long while back.
I remember when I was a sophomore at the old ETW we did an exercise called "I am one who is," which was all about getting up in front of people and acting out your inner psychology. It was fucking scary as hell. I did something with a "shadow" character that my instructor said was the best thing I did all year ("yeah, fuck the brakes!" she wrote in my evaluation), though I found the whole thing a little more revealing than was comfortable. Strong anger, lust, unrepentant desire, all that atavistic business. That was the point, I believe.
Growing up with mom and pa, I picked up a lot of Jungian psychology as a kid, kind of foundational in my personal ontology. A big part of that was the idea of self/shadow-self, that we all have a dark side, that it must be recognized and appeased lest it consume us. It's that deep and bloody part of me that's found its way out on those occasions when I've been just hells-bells in the moment. Made a lot of art with it too. I wrote a whole play principally about the relationship we have with this part of ourselves.
So maybe I thought I was done with this, but apparently this is not the case. You don't 86 the shadow. Jung could have told me, but the relationship with is an ongoing one, lifelong, and I've done little in the past year to even peek around the corner at mine. It's gotten strong and scary, possibly malignant. That's where my worry is, the malignancy. I'm fine with powerful feelings and freaky emotions, but I worry that maybe all the ignorance and repression has sewn a little poison root of bitterness in the well of me.
My first impulse is to use rigorous cardiovascular exercise to purify things, then try letting the mojo loose in controlled bursts -- going back to the performance training again. Maybe this isn't such a bad idea. I could stand a little physical conditioning, and the discipline wouldn't be unwelcome either. In the short-term, I think just naming the beast will be helpful. Thanks to this little writing exercise I've made yet another self-discovery... never put it together quite like this before, the shadow, the exercise, my current overblown fear of stepping on toes. Makes a lot of sense.
January 8th Input Translation
In spite of a few moments of doubt, I'm loving my time here in the Bay. I want to stay longer than I'm going to be able... feels like this is a place where I might be able to integrate all the disparate elements of my personality: the artist, the geek, the rocker, the proto-revolutionary, the intellectual. I was walking around the Berkeley Campus yesterday with Luke -- we were talking about the Japanese economy and the degree to which the social sciences should take human psychology and irrationality into account -- and it all started to come together.
Later we hung out with one of Luke's fellows in the sociology degree pursuit, SoCal girl-loving chick with a penchant for mass communication. Good conversation throughout, in spite of the odd paranoia-inducing flirtation/titilation. Or maybe the conversation was the titlating part: I'm both superficially and substantively attracted to intelligence. Though life seems to be on a fairly consistant uptick, things are still not so settled in myself that lower-spinal thrills don't frighten me. The infinite permutations my mind can spawn when it comes to a girl will most likely never cease to beguile; still trying to lock that one down, cap'n.
Anyway, my long-term planning engine is running overtime working on ways I can come to spend more time in this town. Luke will be here for a good stretch on the road to his PhD, so there's plenty of time, but I've been talking for a while about how I need to be have more mobility out of NYC. A little less talk and a lot more action, please. There are a lot of variables to pin down (subletting will be a key part of this lifestyle) but I'm interested in taking the bull by the horns. Maybe it's just the coffee and the freedom talking, but I feel like I'm ready to take some steps here.
January 6th Reflection/Refraction
I'm wearing a black headband that was originaly a shirt sleeve, one of Kim's many creations. Staying with her and Luke has been both relaxing and interesting. There's a lot of history in the whole thing, the healthy incestuous nature of any strong social group is hardly absent from the Monkey tribe. Marriages and long term connections just serve to draw the whole thing out, let's us see the beautiful humanity in our nature. It's frightening, coming to terms with your own humanity, the flaws, the shortcomings, the strengths that feel like weaknesses, the weaknesses that feel like strengths. It's a pretty saturated and contrastful picture, the soul. Fucking beautiful though.
Small world. I was surfing back to links.net and I see that this leading netizen (who's site inspired me to start my own) was in the same grocery store at I today. Gives me a strange stalker-esque thrill. To be perfectly honest, not one I'm entirely comfortable with.
January 5th California Momentum
I'm making a new journal with Kim's help, learning the fine art of bookbinding and creating a practical resource while I'm at it. I've been without a book to write in for a while, since October or so. There's a level of dialogue I can lay down with my "private" journal that relieves me of the burdin of carrying said dialogue inside. I miss it. Ideas that seem too weird or strange or undeveloped and true to put here in the light of day... they don't come along very often, but over time they do tend to build up a bit. Secrets and silence are the seeds of madness, so it's good to have that outlet again.
I've written two things in the past two days that I think are noteworthy. "I'm back," and "I could live here." The latter first.
I'm really liking the air here in the East Bay. It agrees with me. I don't know what the whole area is like yet, but it's allegedly all here. I won't come packing back crying about how there's no scene and all the girls are ugly, that's for sure. That phrase is lifted from the strange and wonderful back-yard neighbors we met tonight after a power outage; the neighbor's daughter to be specific, relating the experience of a friend of hers upon moving up to Portland. We Oregonians tried in our good-natured way to defend our state and its cultural capitol, with hilarious results. Another great line: It was like some bull-dyke trucker commune and, and, and, it sucked!. Yes, it's been a California experience. Pretty nice.
The other, the first thing I wrote -- which is probably a prerequisite to the second -- is that I'm feeling the end of a long blue streak. Women, now as always the barometer of my experience, are looking attractive again. For a long time I've been rather blah on the ladies, but in the past 3 weeks, it's all been turning around. I feel attractive again and am starting to see attractive people around me. My attitude is improving, and as I learned while studying the art and science of vaccuum cleaner sales, life is all about attitude.
Reading JT's blog (see his entry on lust), it seems I'm not the only one returning to the world. I'm also not the only one to meet (girls) people who know my website, so I guess that's going to become a normal part of life in the civilized world for a lot of us going forward. Exciting. Anyway, prospects abound and I'm going through the awakening. Cute girl at the video store liked my jacket, yes she did, the one with the libret spike -- flirtation refreshingly titilating. I realize I've got some fusion to get cooking in my soul: still don't know if I can combine romantic love and physical love... can't quite imagine it, much as I want to. At this point I think maybe I should just relax and let the river run its course to the sea that made the promise. It will happen, just like the words in the diary said.
Still, I worry about coming on too strong, esepcially lately. Being too aggressive and/or overbearing and/or annoying has been a constant fear for me almost since I can remember. Now, I've come to understand that without being selfish one can never be generous, but I'm quite a long way from fully actualizing that realization. I fret that I'm just exuding too much juice, that I'll get a little too drunk and cross some line, tell someone something that disturbs them, maybe just with a look, a breath, an offhand gesture. Inside it feels like I'm bristling with life, a dynamo of desires, and I wonder if people outside me can sense this, if it don't make them uncomfortable.
Sociology-studying Luke has been telling me about Autonomous Zones, spaces in which people produce for eachother without external influence. Axiom is an artistic autonomous zone. Kuro5hin is one for geeks. According to Luke's man Bourdieu, these places are where Truth is created. In order to affect change in the world more people need to be brought into autonomous zones, places in which their lives are given a meaning which interconnects them with their fellow human beings. I could really use a romatic/sexual autonomous zone right now. That and some sleep.
January 3rd Extended Coverage
So here's what's been going on for the past few days. I drove down to California with Steve and Tom, two big dudes from Portland. The night before I'd been out late getting wasted with everyone I could find -- lots of hometown connections, which I've come to prize now rather than fear -- and then stumbling home in the wee hours to grab a few hours of shut-eye before the long haul. Luckily enough for me Steve drives a pickup truck and I passed out in the back with a sleeping bag for a while.
It turned out we were real early on our southward ramble, which was good for beating the storm over the pass, but bad for meeting up with Luke and Kim at Oakland airport. We tried to kill time, ate some good cheap authentic chineese food, but there are just no bars in this town. We found a real sketchy mexicano place near the BART line by the Oakland colleseum. It was ok, but with $4 coronas and a slightly unwelcome vibe we decided one beer was enough. The problem was that there was nowhere else to go and still a while to pass before our hosts' flight arrived. After ranging throughout what felt like the entire airport district and commiserating with an older buddy dude outside the Mariot, we found outselves at the Hilton Hotel's sports bar. It was an ok place to pass the time; giant mugs of Bud and hot wings until the appointed hour came around.
Then there's the whole business with airport pickup, heavy traffic, lots of bags, overloaded in the back of the truck, hanging out on the roof of some kind of beautiful family acid house in Oakland, sleeping in a cold but well furnished sun room. Then waking up to the day of moving, ryder tuck, stacking and un-stacking posessions. Moving my own things infuriates me to no end (all the bad dad energy coming up big), but for some reason I don't mind doing it for other people. I slept like a baby that night while Luke and Kim made their room habitable and Steve and Tom took in Night #1 of some major-league rock/metal concert. They tried to roust me at 3am when they piled in, but I was saving up my mojo for New Years Eve...
...which ended up a long, sleek, thouroughly enjoyable blur. I got high in the afternoon, gave directions to our pal Sylvan ("the Iron Monkey") and sang songs while cleaning up the kitchen. Then beers, conversation, riding the back of Sylvan's truck into San Francisco proper, threatening to turn into a poor fascimilie of Jim Morrison if I released my self control. Landed at a rock bar -- the only bar Luke likes -- called the zeitgeist and rapidly lost all sense of proportion. There were charmingly annoying young men in powder blue suits who flirted with Kim and caused Luke some consternation. There were New York and Colorado phone calls. There was some short girl who I suppose I kissed a little bit. And maybe her friends who I kissed as well. And then I was alone, having told Luke and Kim to leave me, and trying to understand the BART. It's no NYC Subway, and as such I ended up walking through West Oakland some 60 blocks to get home late in the morning, finding Tom and Steve watching Starship Troopers on TV, back before me from night #2 of their show. I made myself a peanut butter samwitch and then passed out, finding the new year to be bright and full of hope.
Since then Steve and Tom have returned to Portland and I've just been spending time with Luke and Kim. It's nice. They're a cute little power couple here in the East Bay, and I dig the combination of styles they bring to the table. The humour runs fast and harsh, and the air is full of possibilities. I think I'll be coming back in the future. I'm settling into mild-mannered vacation mode, thinking about re-joining the rat race with a whole new attitude. The funk is over.
January 1st Dawning
As the haze clears and the clear light of reason begins pouring through me it becomes obvious that I am blessedly on vacation, staying with Luke and Kim in the beautiful East Bay. In spite of everything that's wrong and ocean size, I feel good about my chances in the new year, which is a delightful turrnabout from my recent meloncholy doledrums. I'll figure out the mad crazy posting soon. For now, talk amongst yourselves.