A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality

May 27, 2019

the exact same feeling

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I have this overwhelming feeling of failure. Then I think, probably no matter what I had done, or how it had gone, it would have changed nothing: I would have had the exact same feeling of failure. Because I still would have failed to completely change the world (for the better.)



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May 24, 2019

The purpose of stories is to help us learn how to live.

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The purpose of stories is to help us learn how to live. So many of the stories we currently learn from, often from a very young age, are provided to us through popular culture, through movies and television. The creators of these stories most often center them around conflict. Conflict is a part of life, therefore learning how to work through conflict could be one useful approach to any given culture’s stories. However, so many of our popular culture’s versions of conflict focus on a hero and a villain, or some variation on that pattern, and the story ends when the hero defeats the villain, and the viewer is expected to most identify with the protagonist, with the hero. This is no way to have any sort of general understanding as to how we should approach conflict, and yet having been raised on such stories our subconscious is shot through with them, and we see the results of this all the time, in how the people around us approach every sort of interaction and situation. Vanquishing an enemy is no way to resolve a conflict.



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May 21, 2019

dian marino Quote

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I advocate difference but I also advocate connectedness. To me being different in a creative way means that I’m willing to connect my difference to other people’s differences. That can be a paradoxical connection – that people would want to be clear about their different positions, where their differences are located, and then also wish to figure things out collaboratively, collectively. Frequently when we encounter difference, we don’t explore it; we try to manage it. Perhaps we can search for common threads while we appreciate our differences.

– dian marino, Wild Garden: Art, Education, and the Culture of Resistance



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April 19, 2019

A story...

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A story about how millennia ago evil magicians planted oil deep in the earth so that it would someday be discovered and destroy humanity.



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April 18, 2019

Carmen Maria Machado Quote

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In her essay “On Liking Women,” trans lesbian critic Andrea Long Chu completely dismembers this idea, and asks: what if it doesn’t matter? What if queerness or transness is about moving towards desire, and not affirming some inherent trait? Why is the lack-of-choice narrative necessary? This is obviously a very controversial idea, but I find it bracing, exciting, even moving: the idea that one might choose what gives them pleasure no matter their instincts or body or social constructs, and no one should have anything to say about that. I’m not saying all queerness is chosen, but rather that we should be open to that possibility.

- Carmen Maria Machado



[You can find the rest of the interview here.]



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April 2, 2019

Possible opening for a novel tentatively entitled: Solar Kittens / Amateur Compassion

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I’ve been thinking about how I don’t write about sex anymore. It has something to do with my gender. I am reading a book written by a woman that contains plenty of sex. I think: if I wrote this exact same sex in the exact same way it would still be different. It would read as male fantasy. It would be written with patriarchy sitting on my shoulder, egging me on. It goes without saying that I most often try to write in a manner that feels opposite to this. Which is perhaps only one of the factors that has resulted in my current practice ending up a bit sexless. But all the other factors have considerably more to do with my actual life.

I hated the idea that there can be such a thing as a masterpiece and I hated the fact that I wanted to try to write one. I also hated the idea that there can be no such a thing as a masterpiece. The world I’m writing about and within is more or less this world, but with one significant detail shifted, in that it is a world in which the only sex we know is cuddling. (However, there might also be a few other ways this written world differs from our unwritten one.) When you want to have sex with someone who doesn’t necessarily want to have sex with you – meaning, at least in this story, when you want to cuddle with someone who doesn’t necessarily want to cuddle with you – there is of course a certain understandable degree of disappointment. Learning how to gracefully breath through such disappointment is another question I hope we might eventually get around to.

There is a cartoon I saw on the internet. A corporate executive sitting behind a large wooden desk. In the first panel he says: “You want coal? We own the mines.” In the second and third panels he says: “You want oil and gas? We own the wells.” Fourth and fifth panels: “You want nuclear energy? We own the uranium.” Sixth panel: “You want solar power?” Seventh: “We own the… eh… ah…” And in the final panel: “Solar power isn’t feasible.” (No one owns the sun.)

In his book The Accursed Share, Georges Bataille writes about how everything on earth, all the growth and energy, originates from the sun. And there is always an extra part, beyond what is needed for human survival, that he designates with the French expression the devil’s share (or the accursed share.) We can use this extra energy to make art or we can use it to make war. How we use it says so much about what we value as a culture. I am writing all this from memory. I read the book so long ago. I will have to look at it all again to verify. Books one read so long ago are so explicitly faded in our memories of them.

I have been thinking so much about solar energy, about how much of what I read, especially from a mainstream perspective, seems misplaced. When I read that we will not be able to generate enough energy using solar and wind, I feel they are completely missing the point. The points are: 1) That these new, sustainable technologies will force us to use less, will demonstrate – on a real, lived, experiential basis – that resources are renewable but not infinite. 2) That there is more autonomy, and less greedy profit, in a decentralized power grid. 3) That the many exorbitant expenses of polluting the air and water are simply not being factored into the standard calculations. Environmental devastation is expensive on every level.

But it is mainly the first point I obsess over. Let’s say you have solar panels on the roof of your house. Each day, you will use only as much energy as these panels generate. When it runs out you go to sleep and wait for the sun to come up tomorrow. The energy is not infinite, not available twenty-four hours a day. There are limits and you learn, out of necessity, how to live within them.

This, for me, is the main lesson of sustainable technologies. They would force us to live differently, to be aware of daily limits, to find solutions that acknowledge real limitations. They do not make life easier in every way. They make life harder in some ways, ways that force a fundamental shift in how we see the world and our place within it. I also suspect that working within a series of concrete, reasonable limitations would bring along with it a kind of reality and even joy.

There is a novel I have never read about talking human ears. The reason I have never read it is that it has yet to be translated into English. It was written in Danish by Per Hojholt and is entitled Auricula. I often think about it. If someone could write a novel about talking human ears perhaps I am not letting my own writerly imagination roam freely enough. If I can write about absolutely anything, I ask myself, why exactly am I writing about this. Whatever the this might be in any particular instance. (I frequently ask myself a similar question about the world.) As I’ve read online, the premise of Auricula is that “time very briefly came to a stop 7 September 1915, which led to the birth of a great many ears (yes, ears) which floated around and got involved in especially the arts of the time.” On Goodreads, Nicolai’s review of Auricula is brief and to the point: “Not a very good novel, but an outstanding book.”

When I see a picture on the internet of miles and miles of solar panels – for example a solar farm in the desert – I think to myself: no, that’s completely wrong, they have it completely wrong, that’s completely the wrong model. I have no particular expertise or experience upon which to base this opinion. It’s simply a hunch. To me it looks like the old model and we need a new model. I of course feel the same way about the novel. Which I suppose is why I’m finding it so difficult to let the actual narrative begin. I prefer characters without names, perhaps for similar reasons that I prefer cuddling to sex, though sometimes I still have sex, or at least I used to. But there is an obvious problem with a character that doesn’t have a name. You have to find a way to refer to them which doesn’t create any further confusion in the reader than strictly necessary. When a character is speaking about themselves in the first person it feels natural that they would rarely refer to themselves by name, so in this mode the difficulty rarely arises. But I would hate to limit myself to first person for only this reason.

The story hasn’t started yet but it will. Since I keep telling myself that I am writing a novel and not an essay. (Though I have always liked the novels best that at times verge on becoming essays. Or at least I used to.) The world needs to change. Therefore, the novel also needs to change. But perhaps what is required of the novel is not that it change but that it disappear. That it become something else. The energy contained in fossil fuels once came from sunlight. The energy contained in literature once came from songs and rituals and stories and fables. Songs and stories once helped us understand how we should live. I do not see how the novel currently does any such thing. In a sense, we already know from which direction we came and therefore, coming full circle, in which direction we should return. But now I feel I’m becoming preachy and moralistic and, since I continue to write this novel, also very much a hypocrite. What kind of knowledge can be fully lived and in this way travel from generation to generation? What kind of knowledge will this novel not contain?


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March 29, 2019

Claudia La Rocco Quote

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I wake up and it is like I have always been. All of them staring with their big cow eyes, pale frames flush against one another. I don’t know enough then to know why I shouldn’t like these faces and of course in fact I also love one of them. The pelican sucks the world down into itself. There is no before. I wake up.

When they ask Jacob Wren to name a difference between him and a person he loves, he says I feel completely different from everyone in almost every way but know there is no way this can be factually true. Also, I fear I don’t really love anyone. A simpler answer: I always drink coffee black.

The rogue AI robot was pretty angry by the time we found her. She was holed up in Toledo, and she made a point of saying, and this is a direct quote, that she didn’t think it was worth wasting her whole fucking life just to satisfy some ridiculous fantasy about staying alive forever, whatever the fuck that means. End quote. She swore a lot.

The monster when she opened her wings was the palest, most beautiful of reds. What you might say was saffron. She was sexually insatiable. She was immortal. She was cursed.

Or maybe, my avatar says, just maybe I am an alien intelligence sent to inhabit a viable life form in order to help, uh, shake things up a bit on this backwater planet, by which, yes, I mean Earth, you’ve read enough science-fiction to know that I am in fact talking about your stupid planet.

– Claudia La Rocco, petit cadeau



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March 24, 2019

Kari Marie Norgaard Quote

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This state of affairs brings to mind the work of historical psychologist Robert J. Lifton. Lifton’s research on Hiroshima survivors describes people in states of shock, unable to respond rationally to the world around them. He calls this condition “psychic numbing.” Following his initial studies in Japan, much of Lifton’s work has been devoted to describing the effect of nuclear weapons on human psychology, particularly for Americans (see, for example, Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial). Out of this project, Lifton describes people today as living in an “age of numbing” due to their awareness of the possibility of extinction (from the presence of both nuclear weapons and the capacity for environmental degradation). In this usage, numbing comes not from a traumatic event, but from a crisis of meaning. Lifton says that all of us who live in the nuclear age experience some degree of psychic numbing. We know that our lives can end at any moment, yet we live as though we do not know this. Lifton calls this condition the “absurdity of the double life.” We live with “the knowledge on the one hand that we, each of us, could be consumed in a moment together with everyone and everything we have touched or loved, and on the other our tendency to go about business as usual – continue with our routines as though no such threat existed.” According to Lifton, the absurdity of the double life profoundly affects our thinking, feeling, identity, sense of empowerment, political imagination, and morality. He writes, “If at any moment nothing might matter, who is to say that nothing matters now?”

– Kari Marie Norgaard, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life



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March 12, 2019

the brevity of astrology

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I don't know so much about astrology, though I do hear a fair bit about it these days, but I read a tweet this morning about my sign and it unnerved me that my entire personality could so easily be summed up in so few words:

"cancer is ruled by the moon and wants and struggles with wanting to process and feel their emotional vulnerability + connect with others, while also remaining elusive and always somewhat hidden + isolated from the world"

(I suspect the book I'm currently writing is almost entirely summed up in these words + literature + politics. But who needs literature and politics. Maybe I should dedicate my life to the brevity of astrology.)



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