Friday, September 30, 2011

So Long, September.

What an interesting month it has been. What an interesting two months it has been.

What a great year it has been.

Things have changed. I have a new job.

I'm working this one now and I don't know what I'm going to do next.

But I feel really good about that. I have so many different thoughts going on right now.

A large part of it is that I'm reading Collingwood's An Essay On Metaphysics. Such an important book for me to be reading. Such a crucial moment for Collingwood. The book offers me a moment in his life where his views on philosophy, history, and politics intersect in really fascinating way.

And it couldn't come at a better time personally.

As some of you (i.e. none of you or few of you invisible readers) may remember that in May of 2010 I posted an essay on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that I had submitted to a literary journal at Notre Dame. Unfortunately, the journal rejected my paper on the sole grounds that it had been previously published on my blog. Frustrating news that leaves me unsure about my vague goal of becoming a published writer before entering graduate school. So, I have learned a valuable lesson about the danger of blogs. One I may have been warned about earlier.

So one of my goals has been to produce a piece of writing that word be worthy of publication. And, more importantly, to not post the writing on my blog so as not to blow it. So I am working on an essay that will compare Collingwood and Foucault. More specifically, I will analyze their views on the subject, the historical nature of the subject, and the political implications of those views.

The tentative title is 'Why Foucault Needs Collingwood: The Subject, History, And Political Action'.

I hope it will go into some stuff.

I want to make it a nice, clean, concise, and limited statement. This is the type of essay that could into a monster project. And I suspect and hope that part of my future research will be the relationship between Collingwood and Foucault.

I think they represent vital issues. Issues about decision making, war, history, politics. They are really the two philosophers I click with the most so far. And I take philosophy of history so seriously. They are my masters at this point. In the future I'll hopefully be able to move beyond them.

This essay will be another step in that process.

Friday, September 23, 2011

OH! Please forgive me.

I speak to you
And your face fades.

With language
That is implicitly explicit.

I always fail.

I've never been
That which I want to be.

I've always been
A stranger to myself.

No man has ever hung
At the temporary age of twenty four.

Caught between these mediums.

Understanding his ignorance
Towards his own soul.

Delving into the shallow force
Of his own mind more than ever.

Convinced of his own depth.

More and more convinced
That he is what it takes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The End Of (Formerly Routine) Days

Shouts out to Arnie.

Today was my last day at the University Bookstore. Tonight I had a bunch of people come out to say goodbye to me. It was fun. I was glad to see all kinds of people.

Now I'm home.

I don't work tomorrow.

I don't know what I'll do.

Maybe, hopefully, I'll finish Examined Lives. A book I've very much enjoyed reading.

I still find myself troubled and baffled by the issue of the philosophical life. By things like Buddhism and Zen.

I still don't know how to live well.

I still don't know how I want to conduct myself.

I still wonder about the relationship between rationally articulated principles and the intuitive business of life.

How am I to properly use reason?

How is rational thinking to aid me?

I still feel very young and out of control of myself.

I can't write much more.

I'm too tired

But I will say that I wonder about how much I hope for the world.

My friend recently expressed ambivalence about hope.

It is unclear whether or not we should hold hopes for the human world.

What is to be done with it?

What should I do about all these problems that I don't know what to do about?

All these wars, crimes, injustices, so on.

What can I do about them?

For me the only thing I can think to do is think.

I just want to withdraw and think about the world.

Try to understand it.

And try to express something about it.

But why is that useful?

Is that going to help anyone?

Should I just withdraw and worry about myself?

Many of the philosophers covered in Examined Lives seemed to value peace and quiet more than most things.

Diogenes, Rousseau, Kant, Emerson. Probably a few others. More than anything else they all seemed to want to live a good life.

But I don't know what I want. I still do have hope for the world. I know that I do.

I feel to young to feel that jaded about the world.

But I don't know where I'll end up.

I have so many more ideas relating to all of these issues.

I have all these thoughts about intellectuals, rationality, living, politics, culture, so on. So many other things.

I don't know what kind of work to do.

I don't know what type of study is best for me.

But I'm really excited. I'm going to keep working.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Potential Historical Projects

I still think about graduate school a good bit.

I wonder what I will end up going back to school for.

My current line of reading is keeping me pleasantly balanced between philosophy, history, and contemporary politics. Lets see. What were some of the books I've read recently? Democracy Incorporated, Thinking In An Emergency, Empire Of Illusion, The Archeology Of Knowledge, Being Human, In Defense Of Lost Causes, Speculum Mentis. A nice mix for me. I couldn't make it through Deleuze's Difference & Repetition, and I also gave up on Leviathan after part I. Both of those books were super difficult. I also read Naked Lunch and Sirens Of Titan. Those detours of fiction were nice. But I feel that my nonfiction reading has been following a broad but somewhat logical path.

In general I have been reading more about things like politics, economics, culture, etc.. It has been good to move away from more abstract philosophy and closer to something like politics.

And so what will I do for graduate studies?

Where is all this reading leading me?

Lately I'm thinking it is bringing me back to military history.

I think it would be valuable to go back to school for history.

And with my current line of reading I can see military history being valuable. It would be a way to get into the particulars of the processes that I am reading about on a very abstract level.

So what particular types of historical research would I undertake? And why would they be important?

Well, I have two ideas.

One would be a continuation of the research that I did for my junior research seminar. I wrote a paper called "World War Two, The Federal Government, And The University Of Maryland: War-Related Administrative Expansion," which you can see here: www.janus.umd.edu/images/Janus%202010.pdf. I should have changed the subtitle to something like 'War-Driven Administrative Expansion", or simply "War and Administrative Expansion." But in that paper I explored the ways that UMD was used by the US government during WWII. I wanted to see how it effected UMD, how it changed the campus and the administration. I tried to show that UMD experienced growth that was qualitatively comparable to the growth of the US government.

So I could easily see myself doing research on the relationship between universities, the government, and wars. I would also include corporations/economics into that equation. It would be research on the military-industrial-academic complex. And I think that would be valuable research because the universities seem to be in a sorry state. Would shed some light on the situation. On many situations probably.

The other line of research would be drawing from my work with David Segal and Meyer Kestnbaum at UMD's military sociology department. From them I learned about the important relationship between the concept of citizenship/political participation, and military obligations/war. The relationship between citizenship and war is undeniable. But in America there seems to be a disconnect between political participation and war. Sheldon Wolin argues that the population has been purposefully depoliticized by the government.

I would want to do research on the switch to the all volunteer force in America. In 1973 the draft ended and the military adopted the model of an employer. They would now draw quality personnel by offering competitive economic incentives, not by appealing to nationalism or any other deontic notion. I wonder how much 73' has to do with the depoliticization of the American population. I wonder how much that was a moment of transformation. I also wonder how much the government was involved with corporations at the time. I wonder if they wanted the corporations to be involved in this new all volunteer military. I wonder what CEOs were talking to what government officials during that period.

In any case, both of these research projects seem relevant to contemporary politics in America. They would be ways to identify moments of change in American culture. Histories of the present, I might say. Who knows if that label applies. But that is what I would want a historical project to be.

And it occurred to me in the shower that the all volunteer force would be a research project that would illuminate government, corporate, citizen, educational relationships. And would be a research project with political implications

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

OH. The Forthcoming.

Tonight I managed to finish a section of Part IV.2 of Art, Zen, And Insurrection, the large scale writing project I began around this time last year. I haven't really been able to write any of it since May. So it felt good to be able to produce a number of pages.

I've been revising the outline in the last few weeks. Looking at it. Wondering about my reading. Thinking about what kinds of questions I am capable of asking at this point.

Part IV was supposed to address the relationship between art, culture, politics, and this idea of the aesthetic existence (what the entire project was attempting to elaborate). Part IV is thus called 'Art, Culture, And The Politics Of The Aesthetic Existence'.

Part IV.1, which I completed in April, was just called 'War and Politics' and was my attempt to ascertain the relationship between politics and war, obvi.

Part IV.2, which I am currently working on, is called 'Art, Culture, And Politics'. In it I'm trying to get closer to understanding the way that art fits into a larger socio-political-economic situation. I want to understand the relationship between art, culture, and politics. And implicit in their is the idea that politics and economy go hand in hand. Because the economic analysis of art and amusement has become a big part of it all.

The first section of Part IV.2, which I finished tonight, is called 'Art, Amusement, And The Corruption of Consciousness: Collingwood On Distraction In Western Culture And Politics'. The key concept I am working with is Collingwood's notion of 'the corruption of consciousness', in which consciousness “permits itself to be bribed or corrupted in the discharge of its function [of gaining knowledge of it self], being distracted from a formidable task towards an easier one.” In other words, a corrupt consciousness is one that is unable to understand itself because it is too distracted, whether it be by fear, amusement, or something else. But Collingwood identifies amusement as one of the major things that contributes to the corruption of consciousness.

I find this concept valuable because of the way it ties together a variety of social factors to explain the state of individual minds. This is what I wrote tonight to summarize the section:

Collingwood’s notion of the corruption of consciousness therefore serves as a great starting point for analyzing the relationship between art, culture, and politics. In it I see a way to understand how larger social processes, like politics or economics, influence culture, and in turn, effect individual minds. Collingwood argues that our economic system has given us monotonous work that offers us no obligations to our nation or community. As a result, we experience a sense of emptiness in our daily routines and means to subsistence. Collingwood claims that the nature of our work has transformed us into a culture that is addicted to amusement. He claims that our stance towards amusement has turned us into a society full of corrupt consciousnesses, and that the only cure is a return to art proper, to art as an expressive process. This is a sloppy explication. I don’t think I did this very clearly. But all that matters is that Collingwood’s concept of the corruption of consciousness is loaded with implications about the relationship between politics, economics, culture, and art.

I agree with the Riley of 1 hour ago. I don't think my writing on the corruption of consciousness is super clear. It is an idea of Collingwood's that I haven't dealt with adequately.

But my writing of the last few days has been valuable in that I have determined that the corruption of consciousness is indeed a complex concept that brings together a variety of institutions and ideas into one identifiable problem. It helps me understand how macro forces shed light on the problem of individual minds.

The next section is going to try and use my more recent reading to understand the value of a concept like the corruption of consciousness for understand contemporary American culture. In particular, I'll be drawing on Sheldon Wolin's work in Democracy Incorporated. The next section, Part IV.2.5 is thus titled 'The Corporate State And The Corruption Of Consciousness: Art and Amusement in American Culture'

I'm excited to be working again.

I'm not happy with my writing.

It really isn't very clear.

But I'm working hard on thinking!

I'm thinking so much harder!

I got exhausted thinking about the philosophy of history a few months ago.

Now it feels good to be thinking again about the relationships between art, culture, universities, economics, politics, etc..

Onward.

Dream

I had this crazy dream about these birds. They were like a pest. They multiplied in homes and got into everything. They built webs and would cluster around them.

Me and R and M had to stop these birds. I felt like I was doing all kinds of crazy work spraying things, doing stuff to stop them. But it was madness. They were everywhere.

I ended up in different parts of some city. I thought I got them all. Then I saw this weird larval thing hopping towards the basement. It was a brown shred of living.

I chased it into the basement. There were huge roaches everywhere. But roaches that ran on their hind legs like tiny bug people. I searched for this bird larva. I don't know what happened.

Earlier there had been 'bird' spray flying everywhere. I was covered in it.

A super weird dream.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Analysis Of Coffee

I have a very analytical mind. I can't really get around that part of me. I think a lot about what I'm doing.

I'm reading James Miller's Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche. A really interesting book so far. Very readable. Very interesting. Very relevant to my current questions.

He quotes Nietzsche saying something about how we always remain strangers to ourselves. And in some ways I still think of myself like that. I still don't really understand myself or my actions. And I'm not sure if I need to. Or if I ever will.

But my analytical mind seems to be a disposition that I just have. I don't know what caused it. And I can think about it or try to pin down the cause of it. But I don't know that I want to.

Especially not right now.

But one part of my life that I find myself analytically engaged with is coffee. I make coffee to pay the bills. And honestly I really enjoy it. I think coffee is a delicious drink. And I think the process of making it is fascinating, both at the base level of its brewing (ground beans, water, and milk interacting), and at the experiential level of crafting it.

I don't know what it is. But I love to think about coffee in terms of taste, even though my palette isn't that strong. And I love to think about latte art. That whole process is super fun and interesting. I think about the different components that go into a good latte and good latte art. And even identifying all those factors I still don't understand. I don't know what it is that makes for good latte art.

I find it funny to be so engaged with coffee making. Because I don't want to do it forever. It is just something I do for the money. I need to make money. And I've been doing it this way.

But I wonder how my mind would react to a different kind of work environment. I think I would become analytically engaged in whatever I was doing. And maybe I could manage to do something that was more interesting or important to me.

A writing or editing job.

I'm curious.

I wonder about my mind and what I should do with it. I still write and think about all kinds of things outside of work (and at work). But I also spend a lot of time at work thinking about the process of making coffee. Enjoying it and wondering how to do it better.

I wonder how my mind would do if my work was to think about something totally different.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mr. Wolin

This morning I finished Sheldon Wolin's book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy And The Specter Of Inverted Totalitarianism. A very interesting book. The core claim is that since World War II American democracy has transformed into a system in which the people are not directly in control, but are rather shepherded or managed by a class of elites that draw on a network of corporate, media, and religious ideas to keep the population fragmented and depoliticized. That the American state achieves many of the same goals that totalitarian states aimed for, but accomplishes them through different means.

Totalitarian states sought the depoliticization of the population through the creation of national myth, the control of information and resources, all with the intention of pursuing imperial goals. The United States, too, seeks the depoliticization of the people with the intent of pursuing imperial goals. The control of the population, however, is not achieved through a centralized state apparatus. On the contrary, it is achieved through a diverse network of loosely connected institutions: "Instead of purusing unanimity, [inverted totalitarianism] promotes predomination–that is, rule by diverse powers which have found it in their interests to combine while retaining their separate identities. The key components are corporate capital, the very rich, small business associations, large media organization, evangelical Protestant leaders, and the Catholic hierarchy" (185). A fascinating claim that is loaded with implications.

In particular, I find Wolin's work to have implications for my understand of Foucault, Arendt, Collingwood, Benjamin, Harvey, and probably others. I think that the diverse array of subtly coercive institutions that Wolin describes is similar to Foucault's notion of an apparatus. In Discipline & Punish Foucault explains how France achieved control over its population through a diverse set of institutions that functioned primarily through the control of knowledge and normalizing practices. This seems to be exactly what Wolin is describing in America as managed democracy through inverted totalitarianism.

And with Arendt I see a connection between it and her essay on 'Lying In Politics'. Both of them pursue the issue of how and why politicians deliberately lie, crafting a public image to fool the population. Arendt and Wolin both believe that the one purpose of lying in politics is to keep the population depoliticized, thus minimizing their role in international wars. If the population is kept docile through lies, then they won't interfere with imperial ambitions.

The issue of lying and truth in politics then connects easily to the issue of aesthetics, craft, and politics. Collingwood is quite clear that the aesthetic process is about expressing a certain truth by using consciousness to show down a difficult emotion or thought. Which prompts questions for me about the relationship between aesthetics and politics. People like Benjamin and Harvey, however, use the term 'the aestheticization of politics' in a pejorative way. With that phrase they signify a political shift towards lying, deliberate deception, and the crafting of a public persona. It is similar to how Arendt describes lying in Vietnam. But, for Collingwood, that process of lying to create a public image would not deserve the title 'aesthetic'. It would fall under the definition of 'craft': it is a process of converting a raw material into a finished product with a preconceived plan in mind. If aesthetic expression and truth are inseparably linked, as Collingwood insists they are, then a true 'aestheticization of politics' would be one in which political leaders were consciously expressing the truth about their judgements, about the situation they are dealing with.

I have had this conviction for the last six months, ever since reading Collingwood, Harvey, and Benjamin: a true aestheticization of politics would be a good thing. And defining the issue of lying in politics as an aestheticization of politics is operating under an erroneous definition of the aesthetic process.

So anyways, I have a lot of implications to draw from Wolin's work. And fortunately I'm working on AZI again and he fits right in.

Wooooooowwwww

I'm not at work and I'm confused about it.

I was under the impression that my co-worker and I were swapping shifts. That she would be working for me today.

I called my new job, where I'll be starting as a barista soon, to see if they wanted me to come in today. We had talked about it previously. And it was a maybe. They said they would let me know whether they wanted me to come in or not. So I didn't hear anything.

So I called yesterday and got nothing.

Then I called today and they said don't worry about it.

So I'm excited to have a day off to just relax.

Not sure what I'm gonna do. But relaxing is probably the thing.

Niceeeee.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Me and Collingwood Are 'Back On'

I've been writing parts of the AZI project. I haven't worked on it since, gosh, like May? June? I'm not sure exactly when I stopped working on it. I know there was a moment where I said that I couldn't work on it anymore. Somewhere around the end of May I just got super frustrated with looking at it and just had to take a break.

So I kept reading. I got a little bit into another writing project. I just let AZI sit in the background.

But now I've felt able to start writing again.

I have been taking forever to read Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. I'm almost done. Will finish it tomorrow. But it has done a lot for me.

I feel that I've read a number of culturally/politically/economically oriented in the last six months and it is all coming together a little bit. People like Harvey, Marx, Hedges, Wolin, Adorno, Benjamin, etc.. It feels good to have read those people are for it all to be coming together enough to put some thoughts out there.

I realize that all of my longer writing is really just a lot of scattered reflections and references. I'm attempting to compare things I'm reading, take time to explicate them and see what sorts of connections emerge. And things typically do emerge. New thoughts and conclusions. But they really are all over the place.

But it feels good to be writing again. I'm revisiting The Principles Of Art and it feels really good. I really like that book and it feels good to be looking at it again. And to see that it has a lot going on and that people like Wolin are related to it.

I have Collingwood's An Essay On Metaphysics in the mail. Excited to get my hands on that. Think it will yield a lot of interesting things related to the philosophy of history, habit, and 'metaphysics' more generally. I really have a very poor grasp on the term. So it'll be good to see what it produces.

And Collingwood really is one of my favorite thinkers. I don't know what it is about him.

Oh My Body

Yesterday I spent several hours playing basketball with some friends. We all had a great time. I was wearing contacts and it felt really good. It is really satisfying to not have to worry about my glasses. Because normally any running is tempered by a sense of expensive glasses on my face. But contact lenses make it easier to just run and play sports and not worry about it. It was fun.

But man my body hurts today. Really sore.

And man it is so hot out!

I'm doing laundry and hanging out. Being domestic. Cleaning and listening to music.

I want to be doing more serious writing.

But I'm not sure how to right now.

I want to be finishing Democracy Incorporated. But part of me doesn't want to be finishing it right now. I just want to be relaxing.

I'm boiling water right now to make a big pot of coffee.

I've been drinking so much iced coffee this summer. Iced americanos primarily. They are so good.

Iced lattes are a lot less appealing to me for some reason.

But this hot coffee should be good. I bet its gonna make me all sweaty and warm and that will feel kind of good.

A couple of friends have been telling me about how they are spending less time on the computer. Which I think is good.

I spend too much time on the computer.

Computers can dominate.

Oh well.

I'll do other things.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Feeling Freer

Freer is a funny word to look at. A funny spelling. Freer.

Freedom is something that happens in degrees.

I'm feeling freer than I have been in a while.

I had felt weird. I was sick of my job. I couldn't stomach my routines anymore.

So I tweaked out a little bit. I got a little bit motivated. And now I have a new job on my horizon.

I also have new thinking and writing on my horizon.

My life and my thinking flow together.

When I'm upset about fundamental elements in my life the intellectual element suffers.

When I'm in physical or emotional pain I don't think clearly.

I get agitated.

I can't think.

I can't express.

But gosh I'm feeling more expressive these days.

Feeling much more expressive.

More writing to come.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mindfulness and Rationalities

I find mindfulness to be a fascinating concept. I also find it to be a difficult concept to implement.

Practicing mindfulness, as I vaguely understand it, is about cultivating a mind that can accurately observe reality. The goal is to abandon preformed ideas about people and the world in favor of observing things as they are.

Which all sounds well and good. Because of course I want to see reality as it is. Of course I want my observations to be accurate and not distorted.

But what do we mean when we say we want to see things as they are.

What the fuck are things anyways? What is the reality in this messy world that I live in?

Because when I look at the world I see so many different things. I can approach an object, a situation, or a person on so many different levels. Often I don't perceive things in a black and white way. I see a variety of different perspectives through which I could understand my reality. (At least at my best I think I perceive in this multiplicitous way. At my worst I am locked in to my own perspective and I only see things one way).

I think that mindfulness has something to do with that ability to see things from a variety of perspectives. To assume a different perspective on your own original perceptions. I've already had this idea corroborated by Claxton, Humphrey, Schwartz, and others. But it is still difficult to understand precisely how mindfulness comes about through this ability to assume different perspectives.

Because the problem I have is that there are so many different perspectives that I can assume on a situation that I don't understand which one is best. When interacting with a person, for example, I can think of many different ways through which I can apprehend or analyze a person. I can focus on their personality alone. I can focus on their physical appearance. I can focus on the context on which I have met the person and the reasons for their being in that context.

And further, within those perspectives, there are sub-perspectives. I could focus on someone's sense of humor. I could focus on their teeth or their sense of style. I could focus on their background from the last year or think about their entire life. In other words, my perception of people is analytically rich. I can see a variety of different ways in which to think about people.

One philosophical idea that is useful here is Foucault's insistence on referring to 'rationalities' as opposed to the blanket 'rationality'. Rationality, as Foucault conceives it, is not a static or simple concept: there is no singular rationality that exists in the world. Rather, rationality is a mode of thought that lends itself to a variety of perspectives and ideas. Guy Claxton and Chris Hedges corroborate this idea. Claxton claims that reason is something that can be bent to many different perspectives, and that does not inherently lend itself to a specific line of thought. Hedges believes that rationality is morally neutral, that it does not naturally lead to a valuable or righteous perspective. But that it can be applied in many different ways to arrive at many different conclusions.

Thus we are best referring to 'rationalities' or 'logics' as opposed to 'rationality' or 'logic'. We should recognize that those forms of thought are very plural, they can create many different perspectives, and are not absolute or inherently moral.

This conception of rationality has implication for these issues of perception and mindfulness. Because all of those different ways that I am capable of perceiving people that I described above are merely rationalities. To focus on someone's appearance, their personality, their context, or whatever else I can focus on, is just one rationality out of another in which I could think of someone. All of those are just different rationalities. So I must ask, which one of those rationalities is most valuable? Through which one of those rationalities can I apprehend reality most accurately? Through what rationalities can I be most mindful?

There may very well be a rationality that would enable the highest degree of mindfulness. Because it seems obvious that certain ideas (rationalities) would encourage or discourage an accurate view of reality. And so I think that identifying the rationalities most conducive to mindfulness is important. And I suspect that the rationalities associated with physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology are important and can potentially lend themselves to a mindful point of view. But they can also lend themselves to distorted or judgmental points of view. So they can't be indiscriminately applied or adhered to.

But there is a deeper issue in all of this: this analysis of the relationship between mindfulness and rationalities assumes that perception is necessarily accompanied by articulable thought. It assumes that all perception is implicitly analytical.

But what if there is a form of perception that does not rely on ideas? Because that is what Shunryu Suzuki describes in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. He encouraged me to forget all of my preformed ideas. To see the world like a child. To cultivate a form of perception that doesn't harbor implicit ideas or assumption.

I find it to be a fascinating idea. And I think that it is possible. Or that there is something to all this stuff about mindfulness and abandoning ideas.

But frankly I don't understand it.

That is why I'm doing this writing.

Recently I've been a bit stressed out. For a while I feel like I was being very unmindful. I've been very careless with my words and actions. I feel like I've lost my mindful perspective (if I ever had it).

This writing is my attempt to reintroduce a little bit of mindfulness into my life.

And I find myself so drawn to analytical thought. I find that all of my habitual perception and actions contain all kinds of implicit thought. I find my perception to be intimately intertwined with the rationalities that I have internalized.

I feel that this is something the Foucaultian project is all about. I suspect that Collingwood is also deeply involved with this question of assumptions, of the forms of thought embedded in our actions. And I know that Zizek is also somewhat involved in this issue of thought, action, and habit.

I'm still not sure where all of this is leading me.

But this is definitely very personal.

And it also seems very philosophically and politically relevant.

Foucault was trying to explain how this notion of 'rationalities' was conncected to government.

The major issues for me these days: Habit, assumptions, history, thought, action, expression, art in capitalist culture, Sheldon Wolin, so on so on so on so on.

I just have all these ideas to sort. All so big and silly. But there is something going on. I need to be reading more. I'm thinking about beginning work on the AZI project again.

Hooray.

I feel my thoughts clarifying these days.

This writing came easier to me than any writing has in more than a month.

Hooray.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Scattered Posts

My content on here is slim and scattered these days.

I'm not writing much and I have no idea what I'm writing about.

Immediate concerns are still dominating my life. I'm still looking for a new job. I'm still not quite sure what to do with myself.

I wish I could write more these days. But I just feel way too distracted. I can't pay attention to things. I'm not reading very much. Still slowly making my way through Democracy Incorporated. I still like the book. Part of me thinks it isn't written super well. Part of me thinks I'm not doing the best job reading it. But I'm enjoying it.

I have several essay projects that I could be pursuing, but I don't feel like I can.

I've thought of ways that I could continue the Art, Zen, and Politics project. I would need to change the final section into an inquiry into why art seems to be so politically impotent these days. Wolin actually gives me some ideas about that. According to him, inverted totalitarianism works by controlling the types of information that are available. Corporations, marketing, all of that good stuff. All of that influences the type of things we see and think. And art and corporations don't necessarily mix so well. It would make sense that art would be neutered by a political-economic system like the one that Wolin claims America has become.

I also haven't been able to move forward on my essay on mediums and relationships. The philosophy of history is just too difficult for me to write about these days. But I'm satisfied with the 30 something pages I produced on the topic. I'll pick it up again at some point. I was thinking about it the other day and reflecting on how I wanted it to work towards a philosophical defense of compassion. I still think that it can get there. I just need some time to sort things out.

Then I had this idea for a new writing project. Zizek's writing on sexuality in the atonal world gave me all kinds of ideas. He ends the whole chapter by talking about the relationship between high-command and master signifiers. That just like master signifiers, individual's choices cannot always be justified rationally. It gets to a point, both in culture and in individual lives, in which things just are a certain way. 'This is just our tradition', 'That is just the decision I made'. Choice must enforce its own master signifiers. Choice must cease to appeal to logic at some point. Sometimes decisions simply need to be made.

So I have all kinds of things I'm thinking about. All kinds of writing projects I could potentially pursue if my head were clearer. But my head is incredibly unclear. I'm frustrated and still feel in a rut. But hey, interview tomorrow. Turned in an application today. I'm working on it. And I hope that something will change. Something will change. Of course. What else does life do but change?

I just shouldn't let my stress numb me to that fact that everything is in transition all the time.

I should learn to actually practice Zen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Assumptions

White powder fills my mouth.

I have ground something.

Something finer than
Either of us have felt before.

It is something organic
Something bodily destroyed.

It is my own teeth
Transformed into expressiveness.

I am not what you think I am.

I am heavier
Angrier
Finer
Dispersed.

I am less.

I am much more.

I'm really good at the things I hate.

I hurt less than I like to admit.

Followers