Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stretching Toward Oblivion

Had been meaning to write something based around this for quite some time. Not 100% sure how I feel about this; I suppose I'll take another look at it sometime in the future and decide.

He sits in the water and feels it bubbling up from the depths of the earth; hot and salty, the tears of some unknown, ancient god. It washes over him, erasing and rewriting everything it comes into contact with, leaving him blank and whole once more. In his hands he holds two jagged chunks of ice, the pleasant pain his only tether to the world around him. For a moment he watches them crying their slow tears of death that pool in the hidden wells of his hands, which he closes and plunges into the water. It is as if the heat can feel its antithesis, can feel the ice within his hands as it probes, searching for a way to become one with the cold, to slake its neverending thirst; and the cold on the inside of his hands is opening itself, stretching forward for that happy oblivion as a woman welcomes her lover. He grants her wish, a little at a time, feeling the heat seep inside and the chill dissipate, until all that is left is water and the memory of numb hands which gradually return to life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A continuation/flip side of this piece.

The slow and steady hiss of dripping coffee wakes him, his dream already disappearing from his mind. Something about a woman on the other side of an ocean, and he was afraid; so afraid.
He feels her absence; he has become so used to the sensation that it is comforting, that he would feel lost without it. Even when she is next to him he feels it, a weight dragging him down, making him solid, making him more real. He remembers how giddy she made him feel when he first met her; as if a strong wind could lift him up and carry him down the street like the front page of a newspaper, the headline of his love written across his forehead. He never feels like that anymore. Every day the emptiness fills him. Grounds him. He puts down roots, roots that clutch and grab at everything within reach and fight the wind with insubstantial mutterings.
He remembers, too, how touching her used to make him feel, how he would press his face into her back, feeling her on his face; wanting more, somehow, some way - even if it meant destroying her to ease his own worries. But even in that he failed, too afraid of the necessary steps and consequences.
He hears the sounds of turning newspaper pages from the other room. This used to be their time, the quiet minutes before the day began when they sat and felt each other's solemn silence, let it cradle and sustain them. But things changed. The silence became strained. Forced. Awkward. He tried to fill it up but that only made it worse, made it more painful, made it more obvious that their perfect silence had been lost, that they had lost it somewhere. He raged; he begged; he pleaded. In the end it was simply another failure to add to his list. Now he lies in bed listening to her in the other room and is afraid to join her.
The scuffle of chair on tile. Coffee being poured. He can feel her approaching, feel the pull getting stronger and stronger.
Silence. But not a strained one; this one is calm, like the old silence but different in some ancient way, some way he can't quite grasp. He almost cries aloud at having found it again, but is trying so hard to hang onto it that he can't waste a single bit of effort on verbalization.
"Brad, honey?"
Nononopleaseno, IamcloseIswearitIamsofuckingclose.
He looks up at her, holding his cup, and realizes she is trembling in the minutest of ways, vibrating in time with some ancient melody whose strains are only audible when two people make love. Do not be afraid, he wants to tell her, There is no reason to be. We will not be afraid anymore, I will hold your hand and we will laugh, laugh till the seas rise and the land sinks and nothing remains on this earth but the sound of waves and the echoes of our carefree laughter. Keep your secrets, only give me this, this moment, these silences, and I will not ask you for more. And we will be beautiful and terrible, broken and whole, silently screaming for all who care to listen.

I Want

Emo potato! In fuschia! Rad.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Running to Stand Still

For all the talk of self-awareness and nonconformity which I spout off at times, it is good (though embarassing and frustrating) to realize that I am not as intellectually independent or iconoclastic as I sometimes think. In general, being reminded of one's shortcomings it a humbling but valuable experience, one which keeps us from turning into Tom Cruise.

If there is anything I am guilty of, it is not giving myself enough credit. I have a spectacularly low level of confidence in myself, which (somewhat counterintuitively) leads to a high level of self-involvement. When you have a low self-esteem, you tend to assume that other people are unaffected by the things you do or the things you say; that when you're not around, other people live more or less the same life that they do when you are around. So you pull into your own little cocoon, assuming that people don't miss you, aren't thinking of you and certainly wouldn't want to hear from you. I've always been terrible at calling up friends because I always assume that people are out living happy lives, and if they wanted or needed to chat with me they would call me up.

It's so confining, and I'm so tired of it, but I'm at a loss as to how to really get beyond it. For the longest time I sought solace in relationships, or in the idea of a relationship, in the idea that getting someone to love me meant justification and legitimacy.

In retrospect, it's a terrifying thought.

Still, I suppose we all go through phases. And yet here I am, saddened to find that I am still that same odd little kid inside. There has to be a way out of this. There has to be. I just need to keep telling myself that.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

(-.-) or <3?

You Follow Your Heart

You're romantic, sentimental, and emotional.
You tend to fall in (and out of) love very quickly.
Some may call you fickle, but you can't help where your emotions take you.
You've definitely broken a few hearts, but you're not a heartbreaker by nature.
Your intentions are always good, even if they change with the wind

U2 Explains My World, Part 2

The Fly
Falling. The Fly picks up where So Cruel left off, with a deeper affection and appreciation replacing the original infatuation, and the new love replacing the old ("They say the sun is sometimes eclipsed by the moon / You know I don't see you when she walks in the room"). Some interesting thoughts about how romantic failures and successes are relatively alike to artists in that they are both inspiration ("Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief / All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief"). The main image, of course, is the metaphor of relationships as shooting stars, burning bright and inevitably falling into darkness ("Love / we shine like a burning star / we're falling from the sky"), and yet, even knowing this, the singer is powerless to prevent it; it is questionable whether or not he would even if he could. Perhaps all relationships are doomed to failure eventually, but that does not mean we shouldn't ever try. Indeed, it is the trying that is most beautiful and admirable about humanity.

Mysterious Ways
U2's version of She's Got a Way. Who can truly say what it is about people that attracts us to them? To be sure, there are any number of characteristics that people find attractive that they can all reel off as the things they look for. But when it comes right down to it, there is one extra thing that most (if not all) people look for, that undefinable spark, similar to the "it" factor that Hollywood stars have which separates them from people who are good, great or even brilliant actors (Tom Cruise is a star. Kevin Kline is a brilliant actor). There is an element of redemption and self-validation which people find in relationships, even knowing that they shouldn't, that such things are ephemeral and ultimately self-destructive ("She's the wave / she turns the tide / she sees the man inside the child"). Perhaps it isn't even so much that, it's revelling in the feeling of rediscovery, of being found again by someone you really wanted to find you, someone you were hoping could and would find you.

Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World
Ever experience one of those magical days with someone that never seems to end, where the two of you walk and talk and sit in silence and it just goes on and on; you finally say goodbye, the sun is out and you feel drained and elated, happy and fulfilled? That is what this song captures. It also happens to be the source of one of the best lyrics about women ever ("A woman needs a man / like a fish needs a bicycle"). Note there's no corresponding lyric about how badly a man needs a woman. There is, I think, an incredible respect for women layered into this song, a sense that the woman has it all together and the man is playing catchup ("I'm gonna run to you / run to you / run to you / woman be still"). I don't know that I would go that far; women are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But I have an immense respect and love for women, who put up with so many extra societal pressures that men will never have to deal with and will never really be able to understand.

Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
Expanding on the redemptive power of relationships touched on in The Fly ("Sometimes I feel like I don't know / Sometimes I feel like checkin out / I wanna get it wrong / can't always be strong / and love it won't be long"). The best relationships are ones of mutual support, where love is given and received freely. And it is difficult, when both people have have been hurt in the past, to be able to find that, to find an unselfish, caring relationship ("You bury your treasure / where it can't be found / But your love is like a secret / that's been passed around / There is a silence / that comes to a house / where no-one can sleep / I guess that's the price of love / I know it's not cheap"). Building a mutual relationship is difficult, it is possibly the most difficult endeavor that people can embark upon, because it never ends. Businesses can be sold, careers can be brought to a conclusion, children can grow old and become independent, but your partner will require a new reaffirmation from you every morning, every evening and 100 times in between. And I don't say that to mean they literally will require it of you; rather, it is the relationship itself which requires that level of commitment. The power of a mutual relationship (lacking the unequal distribution of power which characterizes many or most relationships) comes at a heavy price; you will sacrifice your pride, your dignity and your self-control. But you can gain more than you ever thought possible.

Interestingly enough, Acrobat begins to bring us back where we started this album. It's about what happens when the first blush of infatuation begins to fade, when things start faltering ("When I first met you girl / you had fire in your soul / what happened; your face of melting snow"). In most relationships, the first hurdles are big ones, because they'll set the tone for how the rest of the relationship will go. When things get difficult, it is tempting (for me, at least) to try even harder to fix them, to make things right ("I must be / an acrobat / to talk like this / and act like that"). But there are also some things you can't fix, no matter how hard you try. People don't need saving, they don't need fixing; people are beautiful and terrible precisely because they are broken; we are all broken, and making our way as best as we can.

Love is Blindness
So we've gone a whole album talking about relationships and somehow have avoided any specific paens on the nature of love itself. Bam! Love is blindness, yes, but not simply physical blindness; love is also emotional and mental blindness. It has to be, when all your past relationships have ended in failure, in order for you to believe that this, this one is more real, is different, will be different because you will make it so. Are we ever right? I like to think sometimes, people do manage it, but I can't honestly say.

What originally started me writing this was noticing how so many of the songs seemed to speak to me, wondering what sort of unconscious effect listening to the album during those years might have had. What sort of a person might I be if I'd grown up listening to The Clash or Songs of Leonard Cohen instead? Is that why people identify so strongly with music, use it to define themselves and even use it to rule out potential mates? Is that last part even true; if someone was absolutely perfect but liked some godawful music, would you tell them to hit the road? Or is a similar taste in music contingent to being considered perfect?

Probably the latter. Perhaps the reason why music is so intrinsic to people's lives is because they make themselves resemble the music they love as children, they shape themselves to fit the longing strains and crashing choruses which give meaning to otherwise difficult and non-soundtracked lives.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Stone Woman

Silent pleas
running down her cheeks
this stranger
this woman I have never known
whom I can never escape.

A crumpled napkin filled
with all the words left unsaid
and all the dreams
I couldn't fulfill.

I am sorry
I was not all you hoped I would be.

You never asked
so I never knew.
I still don't, you know.

Why are we stuck here
and where do we go?
They never gave me a manual
and I sometimes forget
you never got one either.

Sometimes I wish you could hold me
like you probably did
but I can't remember you ever doing.
Sometimes it's you who need to be held
but I can't remember how to do something
I've never done before.

I'm sorry,
I didn't mean to disappoint you.

Love Type

Your Love Type: INFP

The Idealist

In love, you crave a long term, harmonious relationship.
For you, sex doesn't come quickly - it takes time for you to open up.

Overall, you are supportive, nurturing, and expressive.
However, you tend to be shy and protective of your personal space.

Best matches: ENFJ and ESFJ

Just did the test over here and it still categorizes me as an INFJ. I've read through INFP before though, and aspects of it certainly seem to apply to me.

U2 Explains My World

Actung Baby was the first album I ever bought and listened a lot of, and I've been listening to it a lot lately. A lot of the songs tend to deal with relationships, and it's rather disconcerting to find that many of the songs seem to speak to experiences and perspectives which I have or had at some time or another. To wit:

Zoo Station
So Zoo Station is about a relationship, but one that can't quite solidify, one where one of the people is ready (or professes to be, at least), but for one reason or another, the other is not (in terms of the song, or more specifically in terms of the context of the album and the songs which follow, I think it's because the other person is actually a past lover who has already moved on. But more on that in the next blurb). Oddly enough, all of the relationships I've ever been in have always begun under difficult circumstances in some way or another, some sort of distance, either emotional or physical. I've never been quite sure if this has just been luck of the draw, or whether I seek such relationships out, whether the necessity of pursuit is itself what draws me to certain people and relationships. It isn't really a good thing, I don't think, but if I'm being honest with myself it is a trend that does pop out.

Even Better Than the Real Thing
A hookup with the past; possibly even breakup sex. If Zoo Station is about a person still emotionally attached to a relationship while the other has moved on, then EBTtRT is about the desire, when you've been broken up with, to go back to those feelings you once had, to the relationship which was once fulfilling and to make it, for one brief, delusional moment, real again ("You're the real thing / Even better than the real thing"). Now, I've had breakup sex, but I didn't realize it was breakup sex. So there I am, doing my normal thing and thinking everything is fine, when in actuality it was some sort of bullshit pity fuck. Which is fine, but have the decency to let me know that's what it is so I can treat is as such, y'know? I've never had ex-sex, which is probably for the best since I don't think it's a great thing to dabble with; there are just too many (re)attachments which can be inadvertently made.

The fallout of a relationship. I think of One as the first meeting after a breakup ("Is it getting better / or do you feel the same? / Will it make it easier on you, now / you got someone to blame?"), when both sides are kind of feeling each other out; there's so much emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with, so many questions and so many fears that need to be worked out before two people can return to any kind of a friendship (and that assumes that both people want to remain friends - I suppose sometimes you just want that person completely out of your life). Interestingtly enough, I don't think the overall message of One is that of communication; I think part of the point of the song is that there are some things that shouldn't be said, that support and (platonic) love can be given without needing to go over every single individual hurt and slight. This mirrors the end of the biggest relationship of my life, one which I still have some lingering questions about, but those questions aren't really important anymore. What is important is that we met, fell in love, grew together, grew apart and then moved on, both the better for having known each other, and both with one more person in our lives to help carry our load.

Until the End of the World
Similar to One. After any breakup there is bitterness, there is anger, there is the sense that you will never be able to escape from all these horrible feelings you're having ("In my dream I was drowning my sorrows / But my sorrows, they learned to swim") and there is the sense of betrayal, which lingers after the end of any emotional attachment ("Waves of regret, waves of joy / I reached out for the one I tried to destroy / You, you said you'd wait till the end of the world").

Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
When you're trying to move on, trying to get past the big relationships of your life, one of the things that often makes it even more difficult is the elimination of someone who used to be such a huge part of your life, someone you could be silly and wise with, someone you could sit and watch kiddie cartoons with while expounding on the workings of political economy, someone you felt comfortable sharing your deepest fears and insecurities with. Suddenly that person is gone, but they're not - they're still the same person, just the terms of your relationship have changed. It's inevitable to feel a bit of sadness and anger knowing that you will be replaced in that respect, but you also realize that at the same time, no matter who replaces you it will not, can not and should not be the same as the relationship she and you shared ("Who's gonna ride your wild horses / Who's gonna tame the heart of thee").

So Cruel
So Cruel is about falling for someone again, after having been through the emotional wringer at least once before. You've been hurt, you've poured yourself into something only to see it fail, and then someone comes along who makes you forget all that, who makes you drop your guard, for whatever reason; it's also about taking that next step again, beyond casual infatuation ("We crossed the line / who pushed who over"). I think it might even be about a morning-after experience ("Oh love / to stay with you I'd be a fool"). The object of the song is a woman who is attractive precisely because she isn't tied down ("The men who love you, you hate the most / they pass right through you, like a ghost / they look for you but your spirit is in the air"), because she can't be pinned down, and for a person who's spent a good amount of time working at a relationship, such relative freedom is very attractive. It isn't a question of wanting to tie that person down or make them yours, it's more wanting to feel that way yourself, seeking a relationship where there is passion and emotion but not in a stifling sense, learning how to rewrite all your preconceived notions about relationships ("Oh love / you say in love there are no rules"). I think in your early relationships you try so hard to make them perfect; you're always rushing here and there, spending emotional energy to please your partner and driving them away with your excessive attention. As you get older you realize that relationships should, in fact, be partnerships, that what is most beautiful about a relationship is the choice made by both parties involved to remain together, that it is not about obligation and responsibility or convincing someone to stay with you, but about a choice made every minute of every day. This, Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World and Ultraviolet (Light My Way) are my favorite songs off the album.

Phew. I guess I didn't really delve as much into personal details, but I assume some things are self-evident from the way I interpreted some of the songs. I am, of course, only half through the album - I'll do the other half tomorrow, this is getting way long.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, "Oh, nothing!" Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others.
I'm not super far into Middlemarch, but I'm enjoying it so far, beginning with the revelation that George Eliot was actually the nom de plume of Mary Anne (later Marian) Evans.

It's interesting, because Eliot comes just before the explosion of Woolf, Joyce and Proust - the advent of literary modernism - but after the torrid romanticism of Austen and the Brontes. As such, elements of both can be found in her work, but it also seems to lack the tortured aspect that the individual and the novel would take on in the late 19th and early 20th century, thanks more to Woolf and Joyce than Proust, who has far more in common with Eliot than the other two. This is not to say that characters in Middlemarch are not or will not be unhappy (at least, I assume they'll be unhappy at some point), but the overall tone remains lighter than one might expect. It's also interesting to see the narrative tricks she employed, with multiple instances of the omniscient narrator interrupting the story to inform the reader of this or that tidbit, or to provide a bit of droll commentary. The psychological insights have been quite interesting so far; I can definitely understand why I've seen Middlemarch referred to as the great Victorian novel.

The psychological insights of Middlemarch, however, bring to mind an argument of Harold Bloom's about the development of the human psyche. Bloom's argument regarding Shakespeare is that he does not so much capture the essence of humanity as create it; that is, Hamlet is, in a sense, a more fully realized human being than the vast majority of people ever become, that in writing his plays Shakespeare was not so much commenting on and depicting the human condition as he was inventing it, building a concept of humanity which has come to dominate all of western thought. Great art changes all those who are engaged by it, so is it possible that Eliot's (and any author's) words ring true because people believe them to be true, because people make them true? It's an interesting and slightly chilling thought, because the potential for abuse is frightening. It also ties into some thoughts I've been having recently about music, but I'll save those for another post.

I'd seen Middlemarch and heard of George Eliot before, but it wasn't until I heard about this list, a compilation of 125 authors' top ten lists that I decided to go ahead and pick it up. I've only read 4 of the 10 books on the list, so by the time this year is done I hope to have gotten through the other 6.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Whose Nation Is It, Anyways?

1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
4. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer
5. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
6. Middlemarch, George Eliot

One of the things that makes countercultural arguments so irritating at times is the inescapable elitism which goes hand in hand with critiquing mass culture. In regard to fast food and the general western trend towards processed and genetically engineered food, people who criticize the culture often ignore the simplest reason for the ascendance of fast food: it is cheap, and of uniform quality. No matter where you go in the world, no matter where you are, a McDonald's burger and fry combo will taste pretty much the same. Critics decry this as a sign of world-wide homogenity, of cultural hegemony and assimilation, and they are correct, but they are also turning their noses up at the millions of average people who are unable to afford any better. Touting environmentally sensitive and sustainable solutions is certainly admirable and desirable, but the fact remains that unless such solutions are affordable for the majority of a population, they will fail.

Schlosser also ends up in the odd position of contradicting much of his early argument. He goes to great lengths to describe the horrible conditions in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, then goes on to state how the big fast food chains, acting in their own interest, have pushed health reform on the companies which provide their meat. But if McDonald's meat is safer than store-bought meat, isn't that making the argument that more people should eat at fast food chains, since the government is unwilling to pass legislation that would test meat sold in supermarkets?

It is interesting that, like Naomi Klein, he advocates an economic solution; that is, the route to change is through economic pressure on trans-national corporations. Like Klein, he cites the McLibel case as a turning point, a perfect example of how publicity can be turned against corporations and effect change. But what both he and Klein forget is the essential role which government played in the case, in providing the forum and the platform for the words of the two plaintiffs to be heard. Without the legal institutions, without the possibility of McDonald's taking those activists to court, their chances of garnering such international attention were next to nil.

I do believe that we are quickly approaching a turning point, a point from which our development will become irrevocably destructive and which the planet will move to correct. But I also believe there is still time for government to step in, to show the way and to force real, effective change, and it has to be government, because private interests will never provide all the services and goods necessary for a healthy society; if the widespread deregulation of the last 20 years has proven anything, it is this.

I had a friend mention recently that what he found so distasteful about North American society is how isolated it is, how isolated individuals within it are made to feel. He's right. The problems with fast food society are not specific to the fast food industry; they are the same problems faced in every industry, they are the symptoms of a society and a culture which is itself diseased, which is slowly but surely destroying the vast majority of its citizens.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Contrite Illumination

Regarding the quote which masqueraded as a post yesterday:

It is not really physically difficult to tell someone you love them. What is difficult, and what becomes increasingly difficult as I get older, is saying it to someone and really meaning it.

When I was younger, I believed in love. I was so eager to feel it that I told myself I was in love with people I hardly knew, people who were as ill-formed and confused as I was, if not more (though I find that difficult to conceive of). When I finally had the opportunity to express those feelings, I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I think, like many people, I was in love with the idea of being in love; ideas are, after all, much neater and tidier than people are. This makes ideas necessarily less interesting and rewarding, but much more convenient.

Now, I don't really know what I believe. What I thought was love I do not recognize as love today; aspects remain, but the past love I felt was fundamentally flawed. I don't believe in love at first sight; I do believe in lust at first sight. I think it's possible to meet people and instantly know they will factor into your life somehow, that meeting and knowing them will change your and their lives, just as it is sometimes possible to feel the course of your life changing, to feel, in your bones, the divergent paths that lay before you.

Part of the problem, I think, (well, it's not really a problem, but whatever) is that love is not a static thing, nor should it be. Love is not a component that you take around with you and plug into each person you fall in love with. Each love is unique, as unique as the person whom you feel it towards. And, as people are always growing and changing, so must your love for them, or you risk waking up one day and saying I love you to someone you don't know, to a ghost who they used to be but aren't any more.

In some ways, I suppose this is saddening; who among us has not wished things could stay frozen in time in one perfect moment? Yet things can never stay the same; events conspire to pull us apart and push us together, people come into contact with new ideas and individuals. Perhaps the concept of love as constant is what is most damaging about it; perhaps it people accepted the inevitability of its change they would feel freer to love and be loved as they lived their lives, rediscovering their love for each other with every new day.

I want to say I love you again to someone, someday. But I want it to mean something, something more than movie-of-the-week bullshit. That is what makes me hesitate; not because I find it difficult, but because I don't want to devalue it in any way. And yet, is it really devaluing to say it, if it is truly felt and honestly expressed? Is love supposed to be a blanket term, is it supposed to mean respect and honor and cherish and lust for and am amused by and so forth?

Man, where's Forrest Gump when I need him.

Oh, and in a completely unrelated note, I'm sort of thinking of getting this t-shirt. Bunnies!

Monday, January 22, 2007


1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
4. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer
5. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
Of course, he said, although it came as a great surprise - not that she didn't love him, but that she would say it. In the past seven years of lovemaking he had heard the words so many times: from the mouths of widows and children, from prostitutes, family friends, travelers and adulterous wives. Women had said I love you without his ever speaking. The more you love someone, he came to think, the harder it is to tell them.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Unexamined Life

Some more T. S. Eliot thoughts.

I don't know that I ever explicitly considered the concept of the "buried life" in Eliot's work. I do know that what always attracted me to him was the sense of longing in his poetry, as well as his way with words and imagery. Prufrock is my favorite, a poem about a lonely, middle-aged man.

I find it interesting that most of the things I tend to write have a melancholic tone about them, all the moreso because I have generally thought of myself as an intrisically optimistic person. To be sure, I have always been shy, something which lends itself to sadness and reflectiveness. But shyness is not an active trait; you cannot "play" shy onstage without being a cliche. In order to come across as shy one must understand that shyness is rooted in the desire to be outgoing, to be vivacious and interesting; that desire is simply thwarted by neuroses and fears. It is in finding the moments where characters yearn to break free and find themselves unable to that shyness is effectively conveyed in a living way.

As I grow older, I find that I am almost entirely comprised of complete contradictions. I am shy, yet wish to expose myself emotionally on stage and screen. I'm quiet and introverted, yet can act incredibly arrogant and overbearing when meeting people. I'm a romantic, and yet intellectually I think I tend to come across as a smug cynic.

Cynicism is a funny thing. People who are called cynics generally think of themselves as pragmatists; it's not being unfair to think the things they think, it's simply being realistic. And yet, every cynic is, at heart, a romantic. It is because their romantic leanings and beliefs have been trod upon by the world that makes them react intellectually in the opposite direction, forming a wall of defense so that their soft, inner core can't be hurt. This sounds so cliche, the "whore with the heart of gold," and yet the effectiveness of that archtype reflects its inner emotional truth.

Uh, I think I just called myself a whore. At least I have a heart of gold?

I doubt so many things; about myself, about others, about the world. And at the same time, I am hopeful; oh, so hopeful.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Do I Smash the Mirror?

So a couple days ago I noticed this review for a new book about T. S. Eliot. I read through it, and the book sounds pretty interesting, possibly worth a pickup, identifying the concept of the "buried life" as a recurrent theme in all of Eliot's work and using both famous and more obscure poems to demonstrate this. And then the bomb drops.

T. S. Eliot was anti-Semitic.

I don't really know what to make of this. I've read the two poems mentioned in the review as the literary evidence of Eliot's views, but I didn't get that sense from the reading. Yes, he uses "the Jew" as an identifier, but I had assumed it was a more literary device, an instantly evocative, time-specific term much as Twain's use of "nigger." I suppose that could be my own naivety speaking.

I wonder if part of the reason why comic book characters retain their allure is because they remain essentially uncorruptible. This is not to say that they're perfect; perfection is, after all, perfectly boring. But the problems they face tend to be problems of identity, of isolation and of relevancy. You never find out that Superman was a racist or Batman a vicious homophobe.

I think the other reason why superheroes stay popular is that they have become mythical; that is, their stories are the among the only truly American myths (here we pause for the neat little fact that one of Superman's co-creators was Canadian). Superman is about a guy with incredible powers, yes, but it is (more importantly, to my mind) about where we, as a people, wish to evolve. I watched Superman Returns a few days ago, and I have to say, Singer nailed most of it. There were definitely a few "Superman = Jesus" scenes I could have done without, and a few scenes in general that I think could have been cut (I also kinda hate the "Superman is Lois's baby daddy!" sub-plot), but there were also so many moments which were absolutely perfect, references stretching all the way back to the very first comic book cover that Superman appeared on (the shot of him lowering Parker Posey's car to the ground, nose-first, echoes this cover).

Perhaps it is more illuminating of my own personality that I find the message of self-sacrifice and virtue for its own sake within Superman; perhaps it is true that our readings of any kind of literature always reveal more about ourselves than the work in question. Perhaps that is why I was unable to find the anti-Semitic meaning behind T. S. Eliot's words. I guess, given the option, I'd take that over, "I'm stupid."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

False Idols

So I have this friend here who, for some reason, keeps telling me I should consider auditioning for Canadian Idol, which is, of course, the Canadian (read: crappier) version of American Idol.

I'm not quite sure how to take it. On the one hand, yes, he is correct in saying I have relatively little to lose. On the other hand, I find it difficult to determine which would be more embarassing: to be cut in one of the early purges of the wholesale cattle call, or to make it on tv and then get cut. I am, of course, assuming that I'd be able to avoid coming across as an delusional no-talent, which might not be the best assumption to make.

I don't quite know why he keeps mentioning it, and it's beginning to irritate me. Yes, I could approach it as just another audition. No, I don't think I'd have much of a chance of winning - I don't think I have anywhere near a strong enough voice. I'm not being all falsely modest, I just think I have a realistic idea of what I sound like and what I'm capable of. Could I make it to the televised rounds? Possibly, I'm not too sure how strong the candidate fields are up here; I don't think I could in America. So, yes, that could potentially mean exposure. But how is that going to serve me in the future? Doors might open, but it would always be as, "the Canadian Idol contestant," at least until something else could legitimately be used to label me.

People do it, though, right? Is it self-indulgent and pretentious to say that there are certain things that I am unwilling to do? Should I suck it up, go and take whatever happens, especially since nothing is likely to happen? What the hell would I sing?

I feel really scatterbrained today; I can't even seem to focus enough on this to make it interesting. The feeling actually started late yesterday, but I haven't shaken it yet. Maybe a shower will help.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Cold and silent, she stands at the window
pregnant with hope,
an empty vessel
waiting to be filled.

Snow falling on faces
silent whispers on eyelashes
munchings and crunchings of footsteps
warm burrows; safe and secure.

Quiet sentinel
here at the beginning of days
where stories begin
and lives entwine.

This was ours
is ours
will always be ours
if we want it so

and I do
I do
God help me,
I do.

God is a gambling trickster
a bored housewife
feeding the penny slots
waiting for her payoff

she pulls the lever
and watches our spinning dials
waiting to see if they line up
whirr whirr whirr


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Altar

I usually try to avoid shit like this. Consider it a bit of an experiment, I suppose.

whispering sheets
lamplight gleaming
hot breath
steaming windows
fumbling towards
ragged gasps
interlocking fingers
pleading cries
slippery center

hold me down
take me in
lift me up
make me yours
is it me?
or is it you?

moons exploding
suns imploding
vessels dilating
insistent brushes
pain blossoms
pleasure buds
future harvest
flowering spring
reap and sow

hold me down
take me in
lift me up
make me yours
is it me?
or is it you?

glassy eyed
glottal stop
air deprived
empty mind
swallow spit
claw at walls
surround me
pull me in

hold you down
take you in
lift you up
make you mine
is it you?
or is it me?

Yay Snow

1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
4. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

Rabbit, Run was good. Really really good. I'd comment a bit more but it's way too early for thinking and I need to run anyways. Maybe another time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Farewell

the closer we get to our destination
the further away from you I am
slip sliding away
is that what the song means?
I always wondered.
wheels humming on pavement
the staccato rhythms of dotted lines
fading into the distance
like you, fading behind me
fading beside me
hand in hand
together at last
the only way we can be
the only way we know how.
Words lie heavy on my tongue
I will not cheapen them
I will not cheapen you.
how I long to say them
how easy it would be
and how hard it would make things.
You never asked me for anything
you never gave me anything
but your truth
and this is how I repay you.
I do bite my thumb, sir,
but I do not bite my thumb at you, sir.
We hold hands
but not too tight;
we both know the end of this dream is near.

...But I Keep Rolling On

Writing is inherently an autobigraphical process. When people say, "Write what you know," they are not necessarily referring to physical circumstances. Facts can be researched, after all. No, what people mean is that the emotional circumstances of the characters you create have to mirror the ones you see and know in your life. This is not to say that every character has to be based on a single, specific individual; in my experience the people I write about tend to be composites of people I know.

I had a conversation recently with a friend, who also writes, about the responsibility an author has to the people in their lives upon whom their writing is based. She mentioned that she had written several things that she would never publish or perform, for fear of hurting the people upon whom the work was based.

I don't know that I agree with that. Personally, I have enough problems with censoring and doubting myself without extending it to the things I write. When I write or when I perform anything about a relationship, I don't see any way to avoid having an observer with whom I have been in a relationship think it's written about them, or performed with them as the subtext. And they would be right - no matter the physical details, I will plagiarize my own emotional content to make the character more real. So in some way, shape or form, my feelings for that person will be expressed through the character. They might be positive, they might be negative, they might be illogical. But they will be as honest as I can make them.

And yet, it is true that as a member of society, it is right and good to hold things back from people. There are some things that no person deserves to hear, there are things that can be borne in the interest of society. If everyone sought instant gratification for all their wants, society would not exist. All art that concerns itself with the individual is inherently antisocial in the literal definition of the term, stripping it of its negative connotation - it is, after all, preoccupied with the individual. Perhaps it is this preoccupation within the art itself that has made artists so tortured in modern times; you don't hear stories about Michelangelo or Da Vinci crying in their wine about some girl they really liked who wouldn't go to the prom with them.

This raises an interesting question - which me is more "real", which is more truly "me"? The me free of societal cares and whims? Or the more controlled me that manages to get along with society?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

If Music Be the Food of Love...

When it comes to identity, there are so many things people latch onto in an effort to help define themselves. For whatever reason, music is the most powerful of these identifiers. People are affected by music, people associate specific emotions and times of their life with certain albums.

I have never really felt that way about music.

To be sure, there are songs I like and dislike, songs whose lyrics I appreciate and enjoy on a deeper level than aesthetic enjoyment of the lyricist's craft. I can hear songs and instantly associate them with a specific time frame, whether college, high school or earlier. But for the most part, I lack any kind of a deeper emotional connection to songs. I don't have a song that encapsulates everything about me, a signature karaoke song, if you will. I don't have a breakup song. I don't think I've had "relationship" songs; we did have some, but I think they got carried over to her future relationships, and honestly (I'm trying very hard to avoid the tone of this getting bitter, as I'm not. Of course, protestations of non-bitterness tend to be the first sign of being bitter), she can keep them if she's that attached to them.

Is it possible that I really do have these kinds of songs, that I emotionally edit myself and my history to avoid them? Of course it is. So much of my history is forgotten, probably compartmentalized; I've always had a vague sense of not really existing, of having no history, of being liable to dissolve into mist the instant someone touches me, because there seems to be so much of my life I cannot remember. Perhaps that is why I am so apt to pour myself into relationships, and why I tend to be attracted to more aggressive, dominating women; I seek (or had sought; I definitely try to avoid this these days. Not necessarily the attraction, as you can't help that, but the seeking) definition and meaning for myself from another person.

When I was younger, my father didn't listen to a whole lot of music. I remember we had a record player in Brantford, but not much music; certainly very little of the pop variety. The only music I remember being played was by this wannabe crooner named Roger Whittaker. I think my dad liked him. There was one song in particular I can remember, about a father who had gone off to war (the Second one), and the letters he wrote back to his wife, seen from the perspective of their child. The song ends with a letter from one of the father's platoon mates, telling of the father's death.

I seem unable to find this song. I'm not even sure what its title is; I would assume 1944 or something along those lines, since that factors into the chorus ("It was ninteen hundred and forty four; papa went off to war"). I wonder what hearing it today would do to me. Would I break down into sobs for a childhood I never really knew and can't seem to remember? Would I be struck by what a terrible song it was, and feel ashamed for liking it?

Would I feel nothing at all?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Nightingale and the Caterpillar

Interesting, the ideas that pop into your head while on long road trips. Actually, the first sentence came yesterday, but the real meat of this piece and then tying it to that little blurb I'd jotted down yesterday came today, in the car. I have another little idea but I'm not quite sure if I can do it justice. I also hope the space editing comes out ok; there isn't much of it, but what with different browser resolutions, I'm sure there's a chance it'll look screwy to somebody.

Secrets secrets don't make friends
but sometimes
secrets secrets keep friends
and promises break them.

Once upon a time
there was a boy
who had a secret
he didn't want anyone to find out.
So he turned himself into a nightingale
and flew away
over hill
and dale.

One day he heard a song
and alighted to find a young maiden.
"I am so sad," she told the nightingale.
"My father is mean, and will not give me any baubles
to play with."
So the nightingale flew to the nearby town
and stole a bauble from the butcher's wife
to bring back to the girl.

"Oh," she said,
"How happy you make me,
pretty nightingale!"
And she danced all the way home.
But the next day
she was sad again;
her father had taken her pretty, she said.
So the nightingale flew to the nearby town
and stole a bauble from the tailor's wife
to bring back to the girl.

The weeks went by;
every day she was sad,
and every day a glimmer of happiness -
or so the nightingale thought -
for the maiden was cunning and shy
(as maidens are)
and was fashioning a cage for the nightingale:
a cage of pretties
lashed together with ivy
to hold her pretty.
Then came the fateful day
when it was complete,
and the nightingale was trapped
in the cage of his labors.
How he struggled against the walls of his glittering prison!
But it was too late,
and the maiden was too crafty.
She tied a leash around the nightingale's leg,
so he couldn't break free,
even after beating his wings all day.

the nightingale sank to the floor of his prison,
and cried himself to sleep.
But in the night
he heard a small voice above him,
and looked up
to find a caterpillar peeping into his cell.
"Little nightingale, why were you crying?"
she said.
"I am stuck,"
he said,
"And do not know if I will ever be free again."
"Do not fear,"
she said,
"I will help you, if you will but promise me one thing."
he said.
She told him
and he promised.
So the caterpillar slipped between the bars
chewed through the leash
and then the ropes of that hateful cage
and the nightingale flew free
with the caterpillar on his shoulder -
for that was part of his promise.

Many miles they flew,
to a land where the strangers spoke in tongues
and the water stood still in Winter's grasp.
And here the nightingale landed,
for that was also part of his promise.
Since there was no-one around to find out his secret anymore,
the nightingale turned back into a boy
and built himself a cottage
while the caterpillar built herself a cocoon.

In the spring she emerged,
a pretty butterfly,
and the boy and the butterfly spent every perfect day together,
until the boy began to feel something new,
something he had never felt before.
So one day he turned to the butterfly
and whispered
his secret
in her ear.
In a flash,
she turned into a beautiful maiden,
who thanked him for breaking the spell placed on her
by an angry witch
who had entrusted her with a secret
that the maiden did not keep.

Did they live happily ever after?
Oh, my dearest.
That is a secret
for another time.

Edit: Nevermind, the spacing I was hoping for didn't even come out. Looks like it's time to search the internets for html.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Run Run Run Run

1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike

Since seeing this New York Times story, I've been meaning to pick up and read as many of the books as possible, certainly all of the top 5, to see what the hullabaloo was about. Beloved I might revisit at some time in the future; I read it in grade 7 or 8 or so and don't recall enjoying it all that much, probably due to a combination of intellectual immaturity and a lack of empathy/identification with the characters. Honestly - and perhaps this is a bit of a taboo sentiment - is it possible that Beloved, like Jesse Jackson, is immune to criticism because it's an Important Novel about America's elephant in the room (racial issues/slavery), and any critique would be met with charges of racism? Hell, maybe even suggesting that would get someone labelled as a racist.

In any event, I was flipping through Underworld and Rabbit (I can never remember Blood Meridian or American Pastoral, though I've at least read some Roth before - can't say I'd ever even heard of McCarthy prior to reading the story) and chose Rabbit because the opening grabbed me better. In fact, I completely forgot (and just remembered) I had intended to pick up some Faulkner. Goddamnit. Oh well, there's always next time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

When you start to dabble in counterculture thought, one of the first questions you tend to ask is, "Why doesn't counterculture work?" That is, if people are turned into soulless automatons by society, why haven't people figured it out by now? Heath and Potter do an excellent job of tracing counterculturalist critique back to its roots in Marxist thought, yet another member of the, "why didn't it work?" club, and in doing so, expose the fundamental issue counterculturalist thinkers often refuse to face, and the reason why their prescriptions for change are frequently lacking.

Counterculturalist thought, like Marxist thought, depends on a basic adversarial society; that is, society is divided into those who have power and those who do not. The powerless masses are then manipulated by the powerful; in Marxism, for their labor, in countercultural critiques, for their purchasing power. This, of course, is not a situtation any rational individual would wish to remain in, hence the Marxist and counterculturalist beliefs that society will eventually unite and throw off the shackles of oppression. The fact that no such uprising has occurred leads both groups to posit a cycle propagated by those in power; for counterculturalist thinkers, this is the barrage of advertisements and institutions which create artificial needs and desires, keeping people locked into the neverending consumer cycle.

Heath and Potter start with a relatively simple question: what if they're wrong? What if the decision to remain in consumer society is not irrational, but is, in fact, completely rational? "Ah," I hear you cry, "But, pray, how can an irrational outcome derive from rational actions?" The answer: collective action problems, situations where a collective group finds an outcome desirable, but, in the end a less satisfactory outcome is reached because none of the individuals have an incentive to make the optimal outcome reality. The prototype collective action problem is the prisoner's dilemma, where two criminals are caught, separated into different interrogation rooms, and given a choice: testify against their partner or remain silent. Should both remain silent, they each get a year (there's a bit of an involved setup to the problem, in which it is assumed that the two of you committed a crime, but are actually being brought in for a lesser infraction). Should one testify about the greater crime and the other remain silent, the rat goes free and the silent partner gets 6 years. Should both testify against one another, both will receive 5 years.

Obviously the best outcome for both individuals is for both to remain silent. However, in practice, when the two criminals are unable to co-ordinate or otherwise communicate, they will tend to choose the last option: both will testify, and both will receive 5 years. This is because there is no incentive for the prisoners to act out of anything other than self-interest, and is why petty crime quickly becomes organized crime; you need rules to govern such situations, you need a rule of omerta which has real consequences for those who break it, who attempt to become "free riders."

The prisoner's dilemma is, of course, a relatively static situation. However, it can be extended to a perpetual one, as in the case of an arms race: two countries choosing their defense expenditures. Ideally, if both chose low or minimal levels, both would be safest; fewer bombs, tanks and such to go about killing each other with. However, if one chose low and the other chose high, the higher spender would be relatively more secure, due to their position of military dominance. If both choose high, they will be safer than if they had chosen low and their rival high, but less safe than if both had spent less - more bombs, tanks and such, with the attendant pressures to use them before they become obsolete. The fear of this, and of falling to a relatively lower level of expenditure than your rival (and thus a relatively lower level of security) is what makes arms races escalate and perpetuate themselves, maintaining an irrational outcome through rational decisions.

So, now it's been demonstrated how consumers could remain locked into buying cycles; but how do they get into them in the first place? Here is where counterculture gets its rudest shock. Counterculturalists theorize that mass culture is a culture of faceless oppression; mindless drones wearing the same styles, the same colors, the same brands. How else could one explain the (seemingly irrational) decision of consumers to buy new styles of clothing every year, when the previous year's clothing remains perfectly functional? It must be because of a desire to "fit in," right?

Again, Heath and Potter disagree. It is, in fact, the search for cool, the search for individuality, which drives consumers. Cool items are positional goods; that is, they confer a position above and beyond the mere functionality of an item. Coolness is also a zero-sum game; that is, it is only possible to be cool if someone or something else is uncool (this leads to the most awesome quote ever used in a quasi-intellectual book: "As Butthead put it, 'If nothing sucked, and like, everything was cool all the time, then it's like, how would you know what was cool? ...It's like, you need stuff that sucks to have stuff that's cool.'") Therefore, cool-seeking consumers are always pushing, always looking for the newest, coolest item to set themselves apart from their peers, but as soon as they find it, their peers rush to buy it as well, forcing the trend-setters to move on to the new, cool thing - an arms race of coolness.

This perspective also explains the process of "co-optation" which counterculturalist thinkers bemoan, the process by which their "independent" styles and arts are processed, sanitized and then vomited onto the mass market. Counterculturalists see this as a betrayal of their values, and accuse those who participate in the process of "selling out," but it's not selling out because modern counterculturalist critics and institutions are not revolutionary; they're merely reframing the same counterculturalist thought that has dominated the left since the '60s, a pattern of thought that has been driving consumer culture since then.

Kudos to you for reading this far down! This is massive, and probably really boring, so I suppose I'll stop...for now.

Can't Sleep of course, when I can't sleep, I type something up of dubious quality and post it here. Hurrah!

This is actually the continuation of a story which I had started some time ago - I think I posted the first half of it on here but I can't be bothered to go dig it up.

She wakes to a brand new day, the horizon pregnant with the sun.
This is the day.
This is her day.
She goes about her daily tasks, hoping to calm her nerves. Starts the coffee machine. Steps outside, grabs her paper. Pulls her favorite mug off the dish rack. Sugar, one flattened teaspoon. No milk, no cream. Pours, thrusting her face into the rising aroma, losing herself in the moment, in the sheer joy of sensation, of stimulation, of feeling alive.
And yet she cannot escape the feeling, that feeling, the gnawing in her stomach and in her mind that will not stop, that cannot stop, that is slowly devouring her piece by piece and second by second.
This is the day she says goodbye.
This is the day she says hello.
Calm. Calm. Must stay calm. She flicks through the paper, not really reading any of the stories, and pauses on the horoscope page, something she never pays attention to, seeking - what? Guidance? Advice? Justification? She is the scorpion, the eagle, the phoenix; destined to be reborn time and time again, a destiny which she feels looming once more.
But. But. But.
Always buts. No ifs ands or buts, says the cliche, but no-one ever really brings up ifs or ands. Only buts. She knows what is right to do, what she has wanted to do, what he has been daring him to do.
Isn't it funny how the mind works against us in so many ways; knows our fears, our weaknesses, the things that send us to sleep exhausted from tears.
You'll never meet another.
He can change.
You love him.
Life is rarely neat and tidy; it is a neverending mess that stains your mind and body. Here is where your father spilled. There is where your mother dripped. And there he is; splashed on the walls, on the furniture, on the ceilings - a childish scrawl, a ramble of spent passion. If only he could be scraped away. If only it were so easy. She closes her eyes and replays the conversation in her head, the conversation she has had dreams and nightmares about for weeks.
I don't know what I want.
You don't know what you want.
We don't have anything in common.
They never had anything in common, she remembers. It was convenient, he was nice, she was nice, everything was nice. Days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years and neither of them knew exactly how it happened but it did.
She pours another coffee, as she has every morning for as far back as she can remember. Brings it back to the bedroom, to the waiting shadowy lump.
"Brad, honey?"
She's glad he's still asleep; it keeps him from seeing her screaming, begging, pleading. But then, he hasn't noticed it all year; why would today be any different?

I think when I had originally started this I had actually intended for her to go through with it. Oh well.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Second Verse, Same As the First

1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter

For various reasons, I've always been the kind of person who falls into things very quickly. To a certain extent, I suppose that implies a certain superficiality to my feelings; a Romeo-esque love of love, and when I was younger I think that was certainly the case, before I started to get into the nuts and bolts of relationships.

Well, that and I was desperate to get laid.

Sometimes I feel disturbingly open and simple; if the cliche of people is that of an iceberg, 80% (or whatever it is) below the surface, I feel like I'm one of those ancient Greek amphitheaters where you can stand at the top and see and hear everything with perfect clarity. I don't want to close up, I don't want to pull back from things, but often it seems I have little or no choice if I want to avoid emotional distress. At the same time, I would never want to miss out on something because I was shutting myself off from it. I think I'd rather be hurt trying to make something work than never, ever try. This also bleeds into my martyr complex, which finds the notion of suffering in the name of romantic passion rather attractive. I'm not much of a fan of it, but I always seem to find myself in the same sort of situations, so I don't think I can realistically deny that about myself.

Chuck Klosterman makes an interesting point in one of his essays: people are never self-aware. People who think they're extroverts often actually act introverted, as they perceive themselves as constantly monopolizing conversations. People who think they're creative understand themselves as creative in the typical, societally-understood paradigm of creativity; that is, they subscribe to someone else's definition of what it means to be creative, which is the exact opposite of true creativity, and so forth. So, maybe I'm not quite as obvious as I fear?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let's Do the Timewarp Again

What the hell is wrong with people?

For at least a day or two there, the most watched video on YouTube was the Saddam Hussein execution video, with well over 500,000 hits yesterday when I looked.


What is this, the 19th century? And why is it ok to show someone being killed on tv, but not a tittie? Or maybe it's just the preparation and leadup to the actual hanging, I wouldn't know. I do know which one I find more enjoyable. Well, if said tittie was attached to someone attractive, and not a saggy (possibly fake) 40-year-old specimen. Ugh. Much like anything related to Michael Jackson and a courtroom, I have studiously ignored the proceedings. It's not going to change anything; if it has any sort of effect it will likely be in the short-term negative.

Speaking of which, if you didn't know, the US death toll in Iraq passed 3,000 (with, I believe, somewhere around 22,000 wounded) somewhere around New Year's. Happy New Year? Apparently neo-cons are just as up-in-arms about the 3,000 number - not because they're actually upset, mind you, but because the wider anti-war sentiments being generated by the number demonstrate a weakening of America's will since the Second World War and Vietnam. 3,000 KIA, after all, is dwarfed by the number of casualties in both of the aforementioned conflicts: 58,000 in Vietnam and 405,000 in the Second World War.

Back to the execution. Marshall McLuhan had a theory that television was a "cool" medium; that by its very nature, the audience (us) was required to participate in the medium in order for it to be effective. He contended that this was why "hot," complete characters were ineffective on television, while broadly stroked archtypes were the reverse: complete characters require little or no completion by their audiences, and so are viewed with suspicion in a television environment. Television is not projected to the audience; rather, it is projected through its audience. It's a fascinating thought - one of many he had - and one I hope I'm communicating properly; to be honest, I'm not too sure how much of his thought I comprehend.

I've been feeling rather unsettled of late; just another down cycle, I think. Isn't it odd how you can't really see the patterns in your life when you're in the middle of them, that you can only pick them out with hindsight? Why is that?

Someone said (at least, I think I'm stealing this from someone; if I'm not, I guess you can all just bow to my fucking genius) part of the problem might be this: we experience the present through our senses, and not with our rational mind, which is what we use to predict the future and analyze the past. Hence, it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the present, since rationality has nothing to do with how we process our present circumstances. I mean, it sounds ok, but isn't back to the old, arbitrary division of sense-perception vs rationality? And maybe that division is right, maybe those two can't ever be integrated, but that doesn't mean the assumption of that division shouldn't be questioned. McLuhan (not to parrot him, but I'm kind of neck-deep in his thought at the moment) suggests that the development of writing is directly responsible for the Western perception of this division; that literate society preconditions us to divide rationality from the senses and emotions, because the process of writing things down for posterity is necessarily an emotionless one. It is far more difficult to create an emotional reaction through writing than it is with an aroma, for example.

It's interesting, but it still doesn't provide many answers. At least, none that I can see at the moment.