Posts Tagged ‘personal’

On personal constellations

April 7, 2009

Bear with me now, this is going somewhere. (After rereading I can assure you it goes nowhere.) Just recently I revisited an old online discussion because I’d been thinking about the topic, or at least what I remembered the topic to be. I was thinking about facts and meaning, without going too far into it, the discussion went on for thousands of words, and really, when it comes to meaning, and this is what I’m getting at here to begin with, you’ve got as good a chance as reading meaning in your day to day experiences as you do reading it in the stars. And that’s what I’m doing right now, a sort of personal experience/star reading, a sort of…

There’s no up or down in this, no ranking, or order of importance. (I’ll come back to this) I don’t even think I could recall a time line. Should I just list the moments and go from there? This is going to be a long drawn out post, a bit of an experiment for me, but also an answer to a few questions posed very recently. I should say response to questions, because there are no answers here.

This post could also substitute for an about me page, or one of those 25 random things list, but instead of a list, you’re getting an unnumbered look at a series of moments. I haven’t been writing about all the things that have come across as possible topics and as is the case here, these potential posts are being mashed into one long unmanageable go.

Favianna Rodriguez, I haven’t written about her yet. She was in Vancouver a few weeks ago, and I went to a couple of her talks, took a few photos, made a few mental notes, and nothing. There are posts from others online about her visit (Kate) (Sue) (WOC), but I’ve yet to tackle it. And this inability to get into it is one of the problems I’m dealing with here. Just a couple days ago, Raul made a pointedly personal blog post, and another writer, who shall remain nameless, has come out anonymous, like flip sides of the same coin, these two posts have got me thinking again about what it is I’m doing here. I’ve dealt with this subject before (here) and (here). In those posts, I deal with the question of being openly personal and nothing was resolved, I mean, I continued to write in the abstract or not at all. It looks like I’m dealing with it again. Favianna was so completely open that it’s been a challenge for me to write about her without revealing too much of my own self. She’s been an inspiration, but as you can see I’ve got some junk to deal with, before that inspiration can lead to any action.

I’m thinking about “really personal blogging” about putting it all out there, getting into it. I have yet to let go. Most of my writing on line has been abstract. I think that’s the reason no one reads it. I literally have to beg my friends to read some of the things I’ve posted, so we can talk about the ideas. And that’s it, I’m not writing about me, I’m writing about ideas. So I tell myself anyway. At some point I need to accept, the relationship between a body and the ideas contained. [[But where’s the line? (And I don’t really take this ‘extreme-end’ argument too seriously, but it’s all in good fun.) Once I lose my inhibitions, will I open my sphincter for a camera crew’s look see, (have you seen Pink Flamingo?) or maybe suck my own dick for your viewing pleasure? (The copy of Short Bus that I rented was scratched and skipped unwatchably near the end. So I haven’t seen the end yet. Is it worth it?) Chances are you don’t have to worry about either of those scenes from me. But where is the line?]]

The line between free thinking/writing and video exhibitionism isn’t that fine, I am just taking a joke too far there, but there is another line that can be crossed. I’ve crossed it in conversation a number of times. I take no pleasure in it, I mean I don’t get off on pushing peoples buttons, but I do like to roll with the conversation. What’s happening here now, one of the things I’m doing on this site is trying to draw people in to a conversation, any takers? At the same time I’m dealing with my own reflections. I’m drawn to the idea of socializing reflection. Without others to bounce your ideas around with, to build on your experiences together, there is a time for solitude sure, but without communication a very crucial component of human development is missing.

The problem with abstraction, is that it’s a barrier to communication. Really, what are you talking about?? Recently someone who came across my blog said, “There’s so much stuff on there! Say if I could only read one entry, which one should it be?” That entry, the only one you need to read, hasn’t been written yet, but the post I suggested is a selection of quotes from other writers. I read other writers, I read a lot. And I read mostly philosophy.

Jumping to the side for a second: There’s a line in a recent article in the Georgia Straight about the documentary An Examined Life where the filmmaker (Astra Taylor) says she doesn’t want to make people feel stupid, or would be horrified if she made someone feel that way. (“I would be horrified if I made a movie about philosophy that made people feel stupid,” she says. “I really want people to be inspired to think for themselves. I would be quite sad if they felt as though only established thinkers are allowed to ask these questions and to go on like this. I hope the movie doesn’t have that effect. At the same time, I didn’t want to alienate the ‘inside baseball’ crowd by making it mindless.”( totally blows me away, I could write for days about this, but to the point, I feel stupid all the time. I read philosophy that I don’t dare write about. I’ve read both volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia (twice!) and there’s no way I’m touching it. Derrida, sure I’ve read a number of his books, but I think only a line from the documentary is in this blog. Foucault and Marx, I’ve read a good chunk of their works, but again, I’m in no space to write about it. Slowly, the reading is building into some sort of understanding, Oh, and the chapter on The Image of Thought in Difference and Repetition, I know there’s something there, I’ve read the chapter three times, I’ve made notes, but I couldn’t write about it. These are revolutionary writers, who are definitely on to something, who are completely necessary for making a difference in the world, and do they make me feel stupid? I do feel like I’ve got a lot to learn, like I’ve got a lot of thinking to do, like i don’t understand something I have the feeling is important. I do stupid things, i say stupid thing, I have reactionary thoughts, singularly definitive thoughts, I make mistakes, and in my private life, I’m ok with this. Why am I hesitant to go public? Why am I so scared not to know something in public? This fear of not knowing, the silencing label of stupidity, and on its flipside the expert, the authoritative voice, needs to be overcome. I’m not saying it’s going to happen overnight. But I’m coming out as stupid. I prefer “willful ignorance”

Taboo: Mind Control

March 29, 2009

The internet can make it look like you’ve got some wicked memory. For instance, I know someone once said something like “if you feel in control you’re not going fast enough.” And I want to comment on that.  Voila:

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti (Italian born American Race driver. b.1940) (site)

What I’m talking about in this post is revolutionary thought, or thought itself. In the years that I’ve been around critical thinkers, I’ve seen a number lose mental control. It happens and it’s just happened to another friend, so I wanted to say a few things about revolutionary thinking.

Following Threads

Here’s a story. It’s not well documented. It’s a singular case; an amateur archeological find that I interpreted  quite quickly. The story could go in any direction, but the way I tell it fits with what I’ve seen, what I’m seeing. I found a small library of books in a paper recycling dumpster. And the books, at least to me, told a story. The older books, from the 60s and 70s, were all about social organizing, socialism, union issues (this paper dumpster was in Windsor, Ontario) and other radical works. It’s where I got my totally used copies of Rules for Radicals and The Human Use of Human Beings. But the fresher books, the books from the 80s and 90s (this was the 90s) we more mystical. There were books on angels and conspiracy theories. And some more right-wing writers. I don’t know why the books were being recycled. But I guessed the owner had died, or was taken to a home. But that movement to the mystical right interested me, maybe scared me. If you’re a thinker you probably find yourself freely following lines of thought, it’s almost as though you’re out of control. I’m not advocating control. That’s why the Andretti quote. You should feel out of control as a free thinker. Andretti had a track. Thinkers need friends, someone to say, “come back to us.” If only to keep us in the habit of communicating our thoughts. There is always the danger when going out too far alone, of not coming back.

Sure I’ve been actively following my interests as a reader, but the lines I’ve taken from the Beats and William S. Burroughs, to Nietzsche and Julian Jaynes aren’t really completely controlled by an “I.” What I’m saying is, our minds form in a way that can’t be rock-solidly linked to a directing self. What I mean is that it’s not an “I” forming thought. You don’t believe in God because you’ve chosen to believe. And I didn’t choose the opposite. There is no “I” involved, no agency, we could argue this, but to ask me to believe, is like asking you to accept the opposite. It’s not going to happen. In this round about way, I’m thinking through the necessary conditions for a turn, development, even the stasis, of thought.

Here’s another story. I remember the exact moment my world became godless. As a child, I’d see ghosts, dead people, and maybe once, at the foot of my bed, Jesus. But I’d also heard sleigh bells on Christmas Eve. My very-real-to-me-at-the-time experiences with the spectral world weren’t limited to a consistent plane of the cultural imaginary. Santa and God were aware of my every move. The Devil was there. For whatever reason, I imagined him in the breaker box in our mudroom. If Santa could make it down the chimney of our wood burning stove, Satan could sure as hell wait in the power lines to nab my eternal soul.

When I was ten, my grandfather died. It was a turning point. He’d been eaten away by cancer. A bed had been set up in his living room, because he wanted to die at home. Seeing him skeletal, on the terminal edge of life, the world became very real for me. Looking back now, I started to see and feel things differently. After his death, my family made the move from Catholicism to a more fundamentalist sect of the lightbulb turning, tongue speaking and wailing reborn. I didn’t make the move with them. They questioned Catholicism, and I questioned the existence of God. It’s not something a kid talks about with his parents. Even friends and relatives don’t go there too easily. I still dreamed of ghosts, and demons, but slowly the spiritual world became less real.

So the godless world moment: I was in my last year of high school in a history class, the teacher was talking about World War II, and as an aside he said, “This is the one event that confirms my belief that God has an active hand in history.” He was talking about the race to build the Atomic Bomb. And for him the Americans winning that race, confirmed the hand of God. And this is what I was talking about earlier, the moment he said this, I didn’t think about it, it was instant, I had no control over what happened in my head, but right there my consciousness of a spiritual dimension vanished. It was like I was immediately snapped into this world. I was all in. I am not arguing that it’s worked out well for me, what I’m arguing is that “I” didn’t think it. “I” didn’t reason it. My own consciousness is out of my control, this consciousness is not my own.

So when a radical union activist who I used to know, would go off at local meetings about the government’s plan to launch a mind reading satellite into orbit… I’ll say this in his defense, he was waving a book that laid out all the details, and he was offering it to anyone willing to read it. From my own experience, from what I’ve seen, or at least what I think I’ve seen, there is a question of control. And if we’re not in control, who is?

Experimental Personal Method

July 15, 2007

I talked to a friend the other day and she mentioned something that’s got me thinking about identity. That’s not completely true, on some level I’m constantly rolling the concept of identity around, (which blogger doesn’t?) but this friend’s comment, and a personal identities struggle, has pushed me to write something… We’ll soon see what that something is, where this something goes.

Identities split under any culturally controlled examination or expression. Take my three blogs (which no longer exist) , there’s a place for friendly chatter (like here) and a place for something more text-based and maybe even work-based, but the boundaries are far from clear, at least for me. For me, everything is personal. It’s the free expression of the personal that allows our “I”s (how do you pluralize I?) as others sane expression. Without the personal we can never be ourselves. With the personal as taboo we can never be free.

Fear of the personal is clearly a fear of something against liberty. Removing the personal is cultural, a subtle means of conforming individual identity to a group identity. One question is the possibility of an unconformed group identity. Who has the courage to be free? There was the media driven “doocedphenomenon (that now seems to be winding down). How many times have you read that you should censor your personal voice?

I’m not suggesting you call your boss an asshole under the banner of liberty, what I’m saying is our lives are our own personal experiments. And we should have the freedom to experiment with concepts and actions, to test creative solutions to personal problems and share the result with whoever may be interested. It’s well know that creativity can get us ostracized. But creative freedom is what we need to even begin to tackle our simplest social problems.

Jamais Cascio writing on privacy

“Privacy isn’t just about keeping stuff secret, it’s about maintaining control over information about yourself that others could use to hurt you, physically, financially or emotionally. Threats to privacy, then, arise from decreasing ability to control one’s information without a corresponding decrease in the threat arising from that loss of control.”

Unfortunately the best way to control information is to not generate information. There may be information that you’d like to keep secret, like a job search, but there may be information like the kind exposed in a divorce that could harm you at work. There is fear and shame associated with a lot of information that is common, but for some reason we continue to hide these commonalities in shame.

I like to think of privacy as something you give, not something you have. Of course you’re not up against me. Cascio’s proposed solution is to “push for social changes that reduce the threat arising from disclosure of personal information.” Maybe there’s more about what those social changes might be at one or the other of his websites. But I also wonder how much our fear of exposure is a symptom of our collective psychosis.

Defining the personal

July 7, 2007

I went for a run this morning. I haven’t run in a few months and the lack of activity is starting to reveal itself in a very unappealing manner. I have started riding quite a bit recently though and I think I’ve gotten into a bit of a groove that should last the summer at least. This morning we, as a family of six, were going to drive to Second Beach for everything that little slice of heaven has to offer. That was why I went for a run, I wasn’t going to ride, and like I said I can use the exercise. But after the run the non-cyclist dropped out, so we packed up the bikes and pedaled across the city. Right now my legs feel like they should after two and a half hours of exercise.

I ran for a half hour. I need OS X 10.3.4 before I can post my nike+ipod statistics and make it even easier for “tech-savvy stalkers” to track my every move. This brings me to the main topic of this post.

So yes I’ve been considering the problems of writing a personal blog in the abstract. First it’s boring as hell for readers, not that I have many, more on that later, and it’s not much fun to write. Second, my personal life, is not only my own but a series of connections to other personal lives. Not only that my children have two mothers, so the assumption that there is only one mother in any abstract family means that the abstract can be misleading. So I need to be more clear, if I’m going to blog at all. The thing is I’ve got StatCounter on this blog and I know that in the past two days only one person has looked at this blog, and I know exactly who that reader is.

Since the beginning this blog has been a directionless bit of compartmentalized writing. I started to other blogs (which no longer exist). They’re an attempt to gain some sort of focus, but this here is more personal and my person is an unorganized curious sort.

Yesterday we went to Second Beach as well, we met a neighbour there. It’s nice to go across the city and run into someone you know. I’m thinking that this blog can also be seen as social, somehow. We’ll see. My kids love going to the beach. We could go every day and it would never get old. We picnic and they love it. My son can’t get enough of taking things out of a cooler. The pleasures in life are really very simple at five. Sand, water, buckets and eventually something to eat are all they need.


September 27, 2006

The kids had no school today, and being momentarily unemployed, everything sort of worked out for the best. I took them to Science World. We’re one Skytrain stop away, and it is a favourite destination for the boy. I think this is the third year we’ve been members, and today I got my new membership card with a picture. We spent over five hours inside and I still had to drag them out of there.

The Aquarium and Science World are two great places to spend the day with your kids, as long as it’s a weekday. Stay away on weekends. Really there aren’t many places in Vancouver worth going that don’t fill up before you get there on weekends. It’s to the point I’m thinking any work I do should be on the weekend, so I have a couple weekdays off to enjoy the city.

We parked our stroller in the stroller parking section, they really have one of these, shouldn’t that be written into the by-laws like car and bicycle parking? Anyway, The Body Worlds exhibit cost extra to get into, and I don’t know if it was worth it. But it was interesting.

It’s pretty fucking gross really. There’s this one guy, totally skinned and holding it out like a used blanket. I was disgusted. These are real bodies that have gone through a preservation process. It was also amazing. I mean that in the sense that I was amazed. I’m thinking to go back without the kids to spend some time with the pieces. I took a real close look at some skin, it had been shaved, but was translucent and you could see the hair continue into the follicle. The muscles and connective tissues were also something else. I’ve seen drawings before, but this was different. There was so much more information there. Beef Jerky. It was kind of like that. Words popping into your head. These are real human bodies, in exploded views. Not exploded in the way of a bullet. This was more like art. It was provocative.

I walk by Commercial Drive Station every Friday lunch and there are the Right to Lifers creaking around with their posters of fetal mutilation. And in this exhibit there’s the progression of fetal development sealed in plastic. The eight week fetus in striking. This is going to bother someone. That’s what I thought then. Not that it bothered me, but that it would bother someone. My living little ones were a bit freaked, they didn’t say anything, but exploded humans, how does a four year old see that. He didn’t say much about them. My two year old who is still nursing was fascinated by the nipples on all the female corpses.

I’ll check it out without kids before it wraps up. I wonder about this.