The Fold #2

This thesis is going to be a long unfolding.

Last time, I mentioned some of the distant searchlights that lured me into the vicinity of this theory. There may be some I forgot, and those will eventually find their place in the record. But I want to start listing examples in which the tracks of its presence are apparent.

I ended the last post by saying that thoughts and words, like emotions, seem to arise out of a feeling.

What a dumb sounding statement. To gather up a peck of serious concepts and attribute them to something as vague and indefinite as “a feeling.”

Yet, I wonder.

To do philosophical labor on the idea of feeling requires handles. Because, although the word is in use everywhere it doesn’t have much grip.

‘Feeling’ has a usage that is focussed and a blurry usage.

The focussed usage has to do with tactile sensations like pain and pleasure. A doctor will use the word at some point during an examination, for example.

In its tactile sense, ‘feeling’ locates places on the body.

Perhaps, though, I cannot. Perhaps they are tied together. Perhaps they form a continuum, beginning at a precise location and extending to something so amorphous that it would be called unlocalized.

  • ‘That tickles!’
  • ‘That’s hot!’
  • ‘That’s sharp!’
  • ‘That stings!

It seems that feeling can be precisely local. But it quickly spreads in circumference and indefiniteness. One may say he has an ache, and already the circle drawn around the spot has widened. Bruises. Aches. It’s interesting. All those exclamations listed above are fairly precise in space and time. They are reactions to something at a particular place on the body at a particular moment of time. Isn’t it funny how aches and soreness are more diffuse, encompassing more area and more time? It is as though attention was a red balloon and the more you blow into it the wider it gets and the pinker it gets.

If your knees are sore, they probably didn’t get that way because someone hit them with a hammer. In that case, you would say something to the effect that your knees had been injured. No. If you say your knees are sore, you are likely intending to imply time as well as space. The time may have been the time spent playing basketball. And the space is your knees. And it’s already sort of vague, even though you would be referring to something specific. Because they may hurt more when you are laying down your step then lifting off, or vice versa. One knee may hurt more than the other. The soreness may extend to your foreleg a little. Or to your thigh. It may be a pulsing soreness. Or a dry, creaking soreness.

It’s almost like the more time you have in the equation the less specific space becomes.

It’s strange. Quantum theory states that you can measure the acceleration of a particle very precisely or else its location, but you can’t do both. If you are very precise about its location you will be very imprecise about its (what is it … velocity? acceleration? momentum?).

What if the quantum effect is an everyday experience?

I wanted to travel along the trajectory from pinpoint precise feeling to vague feelings that blend into the idea of conditions. The trajectory from ‘Ow!’ to “the blues.”

The blurry sort of ‘feeling’ is extremely malleable. One can have a feeling of well-being, for instance. That is rather unlocalized. In fact, the feeling is often extended well beyond the epidermis. A person experiencing well-being may say something like ‘all is right with the world,’ for instance. Or they might say they feel ‘centered,’ which is a weird locator, when you think about it.

A person with the blues may be suffering from the lingering pain of something that happened long ago.

A person with depression might be suffering from the pain of a lifetime.

It’s odd.

But Swedenborg said the things that happen here, in this material world, mirror thing things that go on in Heaven. Perhaps the things that go on in the world of subjective experience mirror the quantum world phenomenologically.

I never did get to the examples I intended to list where the tracks of the Fold can be read. Because there was a conjecture I wanted to make first: that perhaps all feeling has as its source one feeling. And out of that one feeling arise words, thoughts and emotions.

 

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The Fold #1

This is my theory of aesthetics. In the background of my life I am always finding evidence for it. Clues to its nature and shape. Confirmations of its vitality.

The theory of the Fold has to do with time, and Man’s imprisonment within its iron walls.

I begin with a loose litter of scraps and notes and quotes, roughly chronological.

The first sort of grown up thing I tried to get good at was surfing. I know, can still be considered kid stuff.  But some adults do it and I wanted to be one of them. (The second thing, BTW,  was writing). And I remember being struck by the idea that developing one’s skills seemed operate on the model of a gyre. The first few times you go around the gyre you reach the apex rather quickly. And you don’t worry about the downturn too much because that is short, too.

After a while, though, you hit the deep, lengthy troughs. You wonder why you aren’t progressing. And then you hit the upswing again. It’s a gentler incline, maybe. But it’s a bigger swell. And nearing the height of one of these swells I realized that I will be on a downswing again, and it will seem like I am not progressing. But that downswing will be one level higher than the downswing that preceded it. And the next apex will be one level higher than the one I was just then approaching. I realized that developing one’s skills was like follow the spine of a spring that has been fanned flat.

My big takeaway from this was that, even when it seems like you are moving downward, the gyre you are on is rising and widening, like a tornado leaning sideways.

In Bellingham, when I was 19, I came across this quote by T.S. Eliot:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

This was quoted, I believe, in a book by Carl Jung I was reading at the time: Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

I’d like to read that again. But this particular passage had to do with the Wheel of Time. That passage also refered — I seem to recall — to W.B. Yeats’ book of mystical metaphysics, A Vision, which I later acquired and read.

OK. That’s a long enough post for now. I just wanted to note some of those early memories.

There is one more thing. And I think this will be pertinent. It had to do with the origins of thought, language and emotion. But I don’t know if I can tag it with a brief description.

We describe an emotion as arising unbidden within the subject. Emotions are responses which we experience rather than choose. They arise within us. And we, paradoxically, respond to them. We respond to our responses to the world. Weird.

We may give ourselves over to the emotion. We can try to resist it. We can try to reason ourselves out of it. Talk ourselves down. Etc. They are us. But they are not us. They are situated, in other words, right at the divide between the ancient dichotomies of understanding. The ancient dualisms. They are almost a ligament between mind and body, animal and human, flesh and spirit.

I don’t know much about philosophy of emotion. But one of the explanations is probably that emotions represent our animal selves. And that, were it not for the “response to the response” in which self awareness is active, emotion would simply be instinct, with no willful divide between the subject and the changing environment.

So, we relegate emotion to that weird world of our own animality. Except that we experience them and react to them and try to control them (or allow ourselves to be swept away in them). And, of course, we talk about the nobler emotions, from time to time. Love, fellow feeling, etc.

But what I want to highlight here is that they arise in us as a response to the world.

But, when I think about it, thoughts and language come to us in the same way. We identify with our emotions. But we may disavow them. And we identify with our thoughts, but we may disavow them as well. And we identify with our words, but we may disavow them also.

When we disavow these things — our words, thoughts and feelings — we make an interesting claim. It has to do with our “essence.” We say that either these particular instances of words, thoughts and feelings were not faithful expressions of our true being (e.g., ‘I was drunk’). Or else we say we say we don’t want to be the kind of person described by those particulars and we are trying to change our true being so that in the future we will have different words, thoughts and feelings. We won’t be racist anymore, for instance. Or we won’t be so quick to anger.

But here we are at another divide. Our words and thoughts. If we can disassociate ourselves from them, where do they come from?

I first started thinking about this in grade school, Isla Vista Elementary. I noticed my spoken sentences came nearly ready made. They seemed to jump into my awareness somewhere near the end of their process of completion.

Sentence come into awareness nearly ready. They just need a quick inspection before they can be unloosed or written down. And what I noticed in grade school was that I could stop. I could stop my mouth from moving and place the whole process on hold.  I could silently decide that I didn’t like one of the words I was about to speak. I could adjudge that it didn’t quite express my meaning or feelings. Then I could concentrate on the feeling of the meaning or the meaning of the feeling. And through that concentration a better word would arise. And that better word would either fit neatly into the structure of the sentence that had already been submitted to my mind for approval or else it would require a new sentence to be built around it.

This was a great mystery to me. And it still is.

It’s simple to say emotions are vestiges of our animal past and that we might even outgrow them someday through the process of evolution. That seems to work as an explanation. But don’t sentences and thoughts come to us the same way, or nearly so? I said emotions are unbidden. And thoughts and words are summoned. And that seems to make them different.

But what if this summoning is just a matter of choosing what to focus on in the interior world of our own subjectivity? Then it would be very close to the phenomenology of emotion.

If you choose to walk down a path through the woods at night you may experience fear. The fear will be unbidden, but the choice to walk that path will not.

If you choose to focus on a political debate, words and thoughts will begin to arise within you as a response. And you can even choose to daydream about something else — a lost love, say — and different words and thoughts will arise. But, in a sense, it’s the same as the scary path.

What I was thinking in Bellingham in 1982 was that words and thoughts seem to arise from something very like feelings. Except that with the mind you can turn them, examine them, choose a particular texture from a particular side of that feeling.

When I concentrated, these feeling that lead to thoughts and words seemed geometrical. They seemed like complex shapes. Like a Christmas ornament with trylons. Or a crystalline molecule. Or a neurotransmitter.

 

Look Broke #1

Ordinary Americans have been getting the shaft. There has been no economic recovery during President Obama’s nearly two terms in office. Not for the majority of us. To the contrary. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80 percent of Americans have seen their income sink steadily since the 2008 economic crisis.

One thing I am grateful for: When I write “ordinary Americans,” I am in that category. And when I write “us,” that pronoun includes 255 million other people making less than $100,000 a year. We are not supposed to have a class system in this society. And those of us who make less than $100 grand are at least loyal by default to that 240-year-old  ideal. The other 20 percent are moving us backward, in the direction of an aristocracy our Founding Fathers rejected. And the top one percent? Is it a misnomer to call them Americans anymore? What true American would flout his country’s principles so flagrantly?

I imagine they think of themselves as international. So many of them hide their money overseas and trade in foreign currencies and invest in emerging markets. Maybe being American in character as well as in name doesn’t mean as much when you reach a certain level of wealth.

Immigrants risk everything for the chance to live a decent life in a free society. That’s what our revolutionary forebears sought, too.  And we call them “illegal” and turn up our noses, as if we have nothing in common.  But they are more American in spirit than the people manipulating our economy and our elections and writing their names in gold on the tops of tall buildings.

I mean, when you use your name to delineate your class you make it despicable, whether you’re spitting at the rest of us from below or from above. I know that a few creative individuals have elevated graffiti to an art form. But in most cases it’s still just gross.

graffiti

http://www.dahlstroms.com
donaldtrump333 

Our Revolutionary War freed us from King George and the English aristocracy. And we had the genius and courage to imagine something new for ourselves. We embarked on a noble experiment — the first of its kind in the modern age of nations. To see if a classless, self-governing society of free people is possible in this world.

I still believe in the importance of that experiment. I hope you do to.

Ever since that time, though, the aristocracy has been trying to sabotage the experiment and re-establish itself on this continent. They have been trying, in simple fact, to undo our Revolutionary War. What kind of people are these, who would dedicate their energy to destroying just about the best thing humanity has ever tried to do? And why do the rest of us put up with it?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in economic diversity. Homogeneity is boring. Differences are stimulating. The pursuit of happiness isn’t even possible without different options to chase down, or without the possibility of uncommon success or failure.

Riches are something we should all be allowed to shoot for, if we decide happiness might be hiding there. And the poor will always be with us, as Jesus said. We’re not going to get rid of wealth disparity. And that’s a good thing. As long as churn exists in the system and people are free to pursue happiness by changing direction and trekking along different avenues, including the path to wealth or the asceticism of poverty.

That being said, our Capitalist economy has become a threat to our Democracy. These two organizing principles, Capitalism and Democracy, which have lived together like brothers for years, are now so radically opposed that one might destroy the other. And some of the differences between people that would ordinarily be tolerated — even embraced — have become instead alignments in a conflict of the highest possible stakes.

At this point in our history, if you are rich you don’t represent an example of achievement others may follow. You represent oppression. Because you are imposing unfair limits on your fellow citizens’ ability to pursue happiness.

That wasn’t always true. There was a time in this country when a person could make a fortune, lose it, then make it back again — several times over, according to the old stories. The heights of wealth and the depths of poverty were closer then. The distance between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest was huge but it was only lake huge. You could see across it. Now, there are people who can buy whole countries, and whose money could literally lasso the moon if you strung all their hundred dollar bills together.

Money was looser in the previous two centuries, and it wasn’t as outrageous to be outrageously rich. Because the perception that anyone could get rich had a basis in reality. With brains, willpower and luck it was possible to move up the economic ladder. And it was possible to move in the other direction and lose one’s fortune. There was mobility. Churn.

But since the rich decided to kick out the rungs, securing their positions and cementing ours, they have become traitors to the American character. They might as well wear the British uniforms of the soldiers of King George III.

Speaking of King George, who does this remind you of?

king george

The Census report confirmed what we all already know. I had this conversation many times when I was a cab driver.

Driving around, I notice things. Like construction. New buildings going up. Stalled projects becoming active again. It means banks and developers are investing in enterprise.

Some of the more telling economic indicators are new hotels and banks.

A couple of years ago, I remarked to one of my passengers on a new bank building going up. And it started a conversation. I asked for his opinion about our uncertain economic recovery.

He said the people he knows who are doing well are doing very well. Better than ever. And the people he knows who aren’t doing well are doing worse than he has seen in his lifetime.

That about sums it up.

There had been talk on the news around that time about possible class warfare. The rich were apparently worried. And they were accusing progressives, liberals, Democrats and Obama of stirring up strife among the classes and trying to create demand among the masses for a redistribution of wealth.

Of course, now we can look back on that with the realization that it was the conservatives and Republicans pulling all the money to one side of the table that was the cause of the trouble. And isn’t that always the way? People who are doing bad things in secret suspect others of doing those things. And people who suspect others of doing bad things in secret start doing those things. Its a vicious circle of secrecy and suspicion and festering guilt. They were manipulating the system, buying up judges and politicians, consolidating their wealth and power and increasing the gulf between the classes in preparation for a conflict between the classes they were instigating by their actions.

Yes, you can have rich people and poor people without having a class system. Just imagine a rich guy who used to be poor and may be again one day. Or a poor person who will be rich awhile and end up somewhere in the middle. Neither of those people will probably think of themselves as one thing, rich or poor. They will think of themselves as having lead rich lives covering a range of conditions that average out somewhere in the middle. But, most of all, they will think of themselves in a way that connects them to everyone else. Not as rich people. Or as poor people. But as people. Perhaps even happy people.

We need that connection to each other. And we are losing it.

A classless society is possible when there is churn in the system. It’s only when you dam up the system, holding back all the water on one side and emptying out narrow canyon on the other that a class system is established. It is the rigidity of the system that creates the classes. Different people being wealthy and poor at different times is American. The same people being wealthy and poor at all times is class.

To finish up about the conversation I was having in the back of the cab, the passenger and I wondered if there was anything to worry about in all this talk about strife among the classes and the rich feeling threatened.

I said we may be approaching a day when people leave their nice cars locked up in the garage and buy crappy old cars to get around town in. And the passenger said something that I have always thought had a touch of poetry in it.

I have thought about it and tried to bring out its poetic potential many times and make it gleam. But so far I haven’t been able to improve on his simple phrase: “Look broke.”

Secrets #1: Silence, Cunning and Exile

I know I’m supposed to be dead. That aside, a couple of nice things happened to me recently. I don’t know why I should think of them as connected.

Wait. I just remembered. They are connected because I haven’t told anyone.

I have always felt there are certain things that happen which one should keep to one’s self. But I have been a very poor warden of these infrequent siftings. I have always blown them away with my own wind.

I don’t know what happens if you successfully keep these secret things tucked safely in the folds of your brain like bookmarks instead of blabbing them. I end up telling them, I guess, because I sense they are transformative in some way. And I make the mistake of thinking the transformative element is actualized by its transmission into the consciousness of another person. Someone important.

I have behaved the way a child behaves, in other words. I experience something remarkable and I want to tell it, to see how a representative of authority will react. How they will sort it. What their response will be. Children do this all the time. Secrets are so hard to keep, anyway. It’s like your own reaction to an event isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger for meaning. Your own inner voice is insufficient to remark upon the remarkable.

Nothing is quite real that isn’t shared, when you’re a kid.

But that is not the way it works when you are older. Not what I’m talking about. Blabbing secrets and ruminating aloud are unseemly in an adult. When Stephan Daedelus proclaims at the beginning of ‘A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man’ a credo of “silence, cunning and exile” he is announcing that a peculiar line has been crossed between childhood and adulthood. The threshold of secrecy.

A man who can hold a secret centers his agency within himself, rather than in others. He changes from a satellite to a planet. A planet which can gather unto itself and grow. A planet who boon to others is its presence rather than its communications.

When you are older, you begin to perceive more clearly the power of secrets. You begin to understand it is diluted through transmission. But will you act on that perception if you have only yourself to confirm it?

I believe these secret moments — and to characterize them, I suppose I would say they are the kinds of things one would most often be tempted to brag about in a wondering sort of way in which you locate yourself as as both the subject and object of your own fascination (like having a big dick or saying something clever at a party or meeting a celebrity at a desert motel or changing a stranger’s tire — must remain centered in your own subjectivity in order for their power to become available as force.

And I believe the power of positive secrets is cumulative.

I was thinking about this as I watched TV today — ‘True Detective’ and ‘The Wonder Years.’

Frank, in TD, tells his principle transformative secret to his mate, Jordan.  And it’s appropriate in that moment. Because the two of them are going through a period of crisis together (which is in itself transformative). So Frank’s revelation will help the two of them remain bonded as they traverse the difficult terrain ahead.

But Frank did not tell Jordan about the pitch black basement and the rats on their first date. This is years into their relationship. The two have already climbed steep mountains together, figuratively. Jordan even remarks that she wonders how many of these things are in his head that she doesn’t know about.

Frank seems to me an exemplar of the kind of person who has amassed great personal force by observing Daedelus’ credo.

Regarding ‘The Wonder Years’: The main character has many of these ‘and I never told a soul‘ moments over the course of the series. And it’s extraordinary. Because kids are naturally compelled to share their experiences. I wonder if that isn’t a big part of the magic of the series, watching this kid amass a bag of secret stones and anticipating how forceful he will become as a man.

I used to puzzle over the fact that the screen characters never blab to each other about their amazing adventures. I mean, remarkable events are transpiring. How does everyone remain so taciturn? But I figured this oddity was necessary for the sake of good story. It would add time to the telling if the hero engaged in bewildered boasting at every turn (‘Did you see how I barely caught that lady’s hand before she fell off the bridge just now!’), and it would exasperate the viewers, who had just witnessed it all. I think now that this is more than just a convention of storytelling. Sure, its economical. But it’s also cool.

TWY also got me to thinking that in addition to telling your mate (in the right circumstances) another acceptable avenue for releasing secrets into the world might be through storytelling. I imagine that in transforming secret moments into fiction and giving them (transmogrified somewhat) to a character a writer is probably able to retain some of their power for himself.

Of course, seeing actors sequence your secrets in an eternally repeatable medium must have phenomenological effects which cannot be speculated upon without first hand experience.

I wonder how one would ask a screenwriter about that, if you were doing an interview.

‘Mr. So-And-So, are you good at keeping secrets?’ might be an intriguing way to start. ‘Were you always good at keeping secrets, or did you acquire that skill later in life? Without being specific, do your characters sometimes enact untold secrets? What does it feel like to disguise a private secret and hold it up it to the public gaze? What is it like knowing they are out there, these disguised secrets, endlessly repeating on DVD and Blueray, pantomiming your private, transformative experiences to oblivious spectators? Does it diminish your subjective identity or enlarge it?’

Hmm. I think I’d need to work on that line of inquiry a little more. I’d have to find a way to make it clear that I am talking about positive secrets, not nasty ones. And why should you keep something positive a secret, anyway? Out of modesty? Humility? Well, that’s the question this post is intended to pose.

In any case. Do this. I know it’s occurred to you. This notion that there is a power in keeping things secret has occurred to you. So try it. Keep your transformative secrets virginal. Collect them, like stones in a bag. Let them gather weight and power. What will happen? I don’t know that part. I haven’t yet managed to save many. Not the kind dazzle the inner self and provide the personality with charismatic force. Only the shameful ones.

But let’s see.

Uber Scenes #2

Across from my parking space there is a car with the license plate KIMEZTL.

I am imagining how happy Kimmie must have been to get it. It’s parked on the outer hem of the Hotel parking lot, where there are plenty of empty spaces.

Some people like to do that. People who are used to staying at hotels and who love their cars. Because when someone bumps or scrapes your car in a hotel parking lot they are not likely to leave a note behind with their contact and insurance information.

I don’t know what a TL is. And there are raindrops on the windshield, so I can’t make out the chrome emblem on the grill. But there must be a subsection of the population for whom TL on a license plate has immediate meaning. Otherwise, why pay extra for it at the DMV?

I’ll probably walk up and look later.

Two empty spaces away from Kimmi’s white sedan is a Dodge Challenger in midnight blue. One of the new ones. They are so powerfully masculine and feminine, these two. And so shiny in the rain. They look like they are intentionally staring straight ahead. Aware of each other but refusing to admit the magnetic pull that embraces them. At any moment they might glance at each other, then suppress an embarrassed smile.

Lateral to me, under the light pole, are these two beautiful treelings. They have slender branches with velvety little leaves. And these leafy branches loop and swirl away from the body of the tree in such extravagant loops they have the appearance of being very light and lithe, like the improbably long tails of tropical birds. Birds of paradise.

I wonder what part of the world they are from. I wonder what kind of environment they evolved in. I wonder what special traits they developed over the aeons. What circumstances they had to overcome in order to be so beautiful, before people were even around to see them. Long, long before people would come to think of them as ornamental.

Whatever environment it was they became beautiful for, hundreds of thousands of years ago, it wasn’t this one. This parking lot at night in the rain.

Being an Uber driver, I am forced to see nice things. If jobs are supposed to hurt and be laborious, then this is a big part of the jobbiness of what I do. Coming into proximity with the hotels people stay at. The wineries they visit. The clubs they revel within. The rustic wedding sites they rent. The cliffside restaurants.

I could be in my crap home watching crap TV and dreaming the same plasticine dreams other plebes dream in order to keep from losing their minds completely. But I’m not. I’m out in the world of people who not only have lives but have nightlives.

I drove this couple 20 miles to get to this hotel. On the way, they mentioned that the guy would need a return ride at 6 a.m. in order to catch an 8 a.m. train. I didn’t offer my personal phone number, like they were hinting for me to do. Because I don’t usually work past 3:30 a.m. and didn’t want to commit to a pickup that late.

Then they fell asleep. Which was a relief. Because for awhile it seemed like they were resting against each other in the back seat for another purpose.

When they had been snoring awhile, I silently asked myself what I would have done if they started doing something clothed but sexual. But then a more troubling question came to mind. Why do I find sex so gross?

The allure of sex hovers around every interaction I am a part of at work. It just is. Like the wind when it blows and the rain when it rains. I don’t want to go into it now. I’ll save the details for another time, and perhaps give it its own category.

Aside from that one ride, it was a crappy night for me. Which is catastrophic. Because Saturday night is the key to the whole week. So, after this couple stumbled out of the car and into the hotel lobby, I started wondering whether I shouldn’t just stay until 6 a.m. It would mean another $60 fare. I could work all day Sunday and not make $60.

Then I saw the Starbucks across the street. They open at 5 a.m. That’s was only two hours away. The ride wasn’t a sure thing. Or even half a sure thing, since I didn’t give them my number. But what the hell?

I feel about those trees across from me, standing in the rain with their delicate arms aglow, the way poets felt about caged tropical birds in the antechambers of Victorian England. A sadness for beauty out of place. Beauty which must be encircled by bars to stay put. A sadness like being homesick.

I wish I belonged in this environment. I like Marriott type hotels. Hampton Inn type hotels. With their manicured landscaping and smooth parking lots with loved, expensive cars and and stately porticos and catalog model desk clerks and uniformed maids and perfumed soaps and turned down beds. Beautiful hotels and cars and grand airports and train stations that nap most of the day like cats. But these places exist for people on a higher plane than me. People important enough to be needed constantly in other parts of the state, the country, the world. Hotels hold down the world like upholstery buttons for people doing important things. Not for people like me to feel clean awhile.

I hear their stories. Like I said, my nose is basically shoved in it. About business trips and vacations. About places they go where the tides glow. Jamaica. The Maldives. Maybe where those trees are from.

These lives are encircled by gilt bars, too. But they are the kind of bars that keep dumbfucks out. Entree requires money or a uniform.

My life is a disaster. It has been since I was as a kid. It was manageable for awhile when I became a man and learned to laugh at it. But when the man became a father laughing in the face of misadventure became impossible again. Pets and people are spinning with me in this vortex. This vortex my heart sprung.

The Starbucks opened at 4:30 a.m. I left the hotel parking lot at 6:30 a.m., alone.

It was an Acura.

Uber Scene #1: “Oh, God! Why Did You Betray Me?”

“Oh, God! Why did you betray me?”

I was parked in one of my “spots” — on the edge of the action, secluded and unseen — waiting for a ping from the Uber app, listening to music and playing my phone game, ‘Summoner’s War.’

From up the street I heard what sounded like a man howling in anguish.

Now, the homeless shelter is up that way. And weird things happen in that area of town.

I picked up one guy at the Chevron station there when I was a taxi driver. And his face had been beaten bloody. Another time, someone wanted to be dropped off across the street from the homeless shelter. And I ended up driving the cab down this dirt road mostly overgrown with weeds to a spot with a bunch of homeless campsites, looking dismal in the predawn fog slop. The camp is there for when the shelter is full. And the shelter is always full.

A woman works the overnight shift at that Chevron and she locks the doors pretty early. After 11 p.m. she only performs transactions through the security window. Otherwise, one assumes, there would shady people would start hanging around customers for change and messing up the restrooms.

Because she restricts access, hardly anyone uses that particular Chevron now.

On a side note, one of my spots used to be a corner of that Chevron’s parking lot. But the clerk asked a homeless man (through the security window, of course) to walk over to where I was parked and request that I leave because I was making her nervous. I guess the homeless guy was trying to get on her good side or something so he did what she asked and I drove off. Too many people try to mooch cigarettes off me there, anyway.

Returning to the crazy noises I heard approaching from up the street. There was an anguished, throat jangling wail coming on fast about four blocks from where I was parked. I turned off the radio to try to ascertain what was going on. And this young man came jogging down the sidewalk making broken hearted noises. Angry, astonished sadness. The kind one makes when one’s reality has shattered and one no longer thinks about or cares about how they are representing themselves.

This young man’s hair was in disarray but looked like it probably combed out tidy. His pants were chinos. And I thought his shirt might have been a work shirt. It was a black or dark green polo shirt.

Now, Broad Street has a slight grade. And this young man was jogging down its easy side. So he wasn’t straining much. But he was pretty sweaty. So I guessed he had been jogging a long way. He may even have come up the other side of the hump, past the Chevron station. There is a little shopping lot there with the Subway sandwich place.

He was running in a broken gait and making guttural proclamations of his abysmal sadness. His arms were waved around his hips in a careless fashion. So he didn’t have the clean, economic stride of a jogger. He was running in something more like an uncontrolled downward tumble, not quite steep to make him fall to the sidewalk.

As he was passed my secluded spot I could see his face was wet not just from sweat but also from tears. And he had something dark on his hands. Something like black oven mitts.

It was then that he screamed, “Oh, God! Why did you betray me? Why? Why!”

Other than that, he didn’t say any actual words. He just kept groaning and screaming, mindless of the houses and businesses and the person across the street walking his dog.

He kept running until I couldn’t see him any longer. A minute later he was gone altogether.

Categories

It seems like an impossible task. A Herculean task. To taxonomize the recurrent themes of one’s emotional and intellectual life. But that’s what I want to do.

Honesty. That is a concept I want to meditate on repeatedly.

The Fold. That is a subject I want to explore repeatedly. It is my theory of aesthetics.

Depressive Realism. That is the theory that self-delusion is the key to happiness and depression is seeing things as they are. It is the inspiration for the title of this blog.

There are more. Categories. Themes. Concepts that come to me repeatedly. Ideas of oscillation and double vision. I may not have come up with satisfactory labels for all of them but I will work on it as I go.

I have a hope that I can apply separate treatments to these entries. Something like transmogrifications.

  • Draft
  • Essay
  • Poem
  • Aphorism
  • Song

That is ambitious. But the idea gives me bliss. For we are in an age, as a civilization, and I am of an age as a person, where the pursuit of stable proclamations seems pointless. Expressing a concept in several forms may liberate it by making it float amidst the several gravitational masses of several types of truth.

  • Draft: Free-Association Truth
  • Essay: Philosophical Truth
  • Poem: Poetic Truth
  • Aphorism: Common Sense Truth
  • Song: Emotional Truth

When you labor in writing toward one gravitational body you eventually reach a point where the gravitational body begins to fade as you approach it, until finally you have to obscure its absence with fabrications and lies.

There is a middle point between not knowing how to say something and saying something with axiomatic finality where reality comes into focus. The Golden Mean is intellectual as well as physical. Moderation is both civilized and fundamental. The temperate zone where life blooms.

But, of course, we don’t want to settle on that spot of floating balance. That wouldn’t be writing. That wouldn’t be anything. We must vibrate. Am I right? We must shake things up. So that entropy performs work. Tension and release. Like in music.

I’m not sure what category to place the preceding thoughts withing. Or how many categories may dwell in them. Oscillation. Double vision (lenticular vision sounds better). Golden Mean. Music. Difference and Repetition. Entropy. 

As a tool, this blog will hopefully liberate me from feeling like I have to figure out everything at one sitting.

And what will I call posts like this one? Posts which are about the blog itself and its organization. Metablog? OK. For now, anyway. I don’t have to nail it all in one go.