aside

My Fucking Town

gazebo

I did some finagling with a photo found on Trulia. This is the iconic gazebo in the heart of downtown bumfuck, CT.

NOTE: This post is intended to be somewhat satirical. (“Quasi-satirical?”) However, some genuine frustration is expressed here, and, while my choice of words may be a bit abrasive to those whom the subject is a personal matter (i.e. Nutmeggers), please try to understand that this isn’t intended to offend or come off as “whiny,” so much as provide some perspective on being broke in a small town. As the post concludes (at the conclusion, naturally), New Milford isn’t an outright hell-hole, although for the sake of emphasis it may be treated that way. Yes, life could be much, much worse, and I’m not promoting ingratitude here.

(March 1, 2016)

I live in porcelain white Limbo. I’m shacked up with my folks, broke—no car, no nothin’. Connecticut. The cost of living is through the roof, the liquor stores close at 9 and diners stop serving liquor after 10. The bars sell up-charged, watered-down bunk. What am I saying? I don’t even got to bars. I can’t afford that. A Steely is my pride and joy… or a splash of shitty vodka, if I’m lucky. No. I barely ever make it to the package store.

I’m 23. I say to myself, “you should’ve been in grad school, or half way around the world by now. You should have a car, and an apartment. You should be dating, and doing shit. You should…” yada yada. So I sit at home and sleep and then I write about it.

It’s not all bad though. Really. And precisely because this is porcelain white quasi-suburban bullshit-land. I mean, those basic amenities are our blessings, right? I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a laptop from which I can communicate to you everything from Paganini to the heat death of the universe. I live in the country with the most disposable income of any developed nation, with the highest GDP per capita. I live in a nation that enjoys all these fruits in a way that it totally unsustainable, and which will eventually crash and burn under the weight of its pollution, over-consumption, and unsustainability, should dramatic actions not be taken. But we have to enjoy the moment, as they say. I’m sort of a curmudgeon, but I try to, anyway.

Let me complain a little:

I live in New Milford. I’ve lived here since 2001, when I moved from Austin, Texas. This town is basically a series of Dunkin’ Donuts and strip malls that opened up along U.S. routes 7 and 202, snaking along the Housatonic. There are auto bodies and a few car dealerships, industrial parks and convenience stores, condo complexes and old white churches with weather vanes or crosses on top.

Roger Sherman once lived here. I’m sure he thought it sucked, too. Anyway, his house is now town hall. There were a few movies filmed here, including that old Adam Sandler bit, Mr. Deeds. Indigenous Weantinock used to live here. I’m sure they enjoyed fishing in the Housatonic long before it became the river Styx. I’m sure they enjoyed the deciduous woodlands long before they were all chopped to shit and replaced with Walmart, Kohl’s, Verizon, and every other boring big box mart.

The demographic makeup of this town seems to mostly consist of pasty white soccer moms. They like to barrel down Rt. 7 in their minivans. Their kids have iPads and think they’re either living in Compton or an underground vampire lair. As you make your way toward Gaylordsville, a little “borough” of the town, you will notice a sharp increase in the number of rednecks, as well as old Methodists. (Throw in a few Catholics, Baptists, and one or two Jews for good measure.) A lot of these people wear plaid button-downs, tucked into their plain jeans. They peruse antique shops and thrift stores and the million fast food places that line the pot-holed streets.

There are no sidewalks to speak of. (Unless you’re downtown, of course.) If, like me, you don’t have a car, this is a living nightmare. I have to play Frogger—crossing four lanes of death—every time I want to buy cigarettes or a soda. If I walk along the back roads I have to make sure to balance myself along a two inch dividing line, a thin margin separating me from sixteen-wheeled hell freighters and farting Chevies.

Did I mention the rednecks? Despite being this far north of Dixie, you see a lot of pickup trucks, some of which are even audaciously adorned with the Confederate flag. The people who command these vehicles are known for tossing empty tins of Copenhagen and cans of Busch Light out their windows. This is part of the reason why we have a thick layer of trash built up along the roads. (I also see—in my many aimless walking excursions—empty bottles of Crown Royal and Sutter Home and little nippers. The other day I found a socket wrench, a saw, and a pair of pants. But I’m meandering, anyway.) They also seem to be the ones most likely to blurt out “faggot!” or some other obscenity, or blare their car horns, as they pass you down the highway when, say, you’re walking home from one of a thousand diners.

The diners, though… I always end up at diners. Not sure how. I just find myself in places like Three Brothers, Windmill, Johana’s, Theo’s—all these fuckin’ diners. And if it’s not in this town it’s in every one of its satellite settlements. Especially Danbury, which is a separate beast altogether.

Don’t get me wrong… I love diners. (Especially when they serve endless coffee for $1.25.) I just get bad déjà vu. Veggie burgers, home fries, spanikopita, challah, little metal pitchers filled with milk, the waitresses that call you “sweetie…” I dunno.

We have five (FIVE!) Dunkin’ Donuts in this town. If that doesn’t portend the apocalypse, I don’t know what does.

We’ve got a million copies of the same bank, always seemingly within spitting distance of each other. There are tattoo parlors and fast food places and stores that sell upholstery and furniture and clothes and a bunch of other boring stuff. It’s really just too much, the monotony of running up and down the same bullshit stretch of road, seeing the same pizzerias, the same bridges, the same empty and overgrown lots, the same nasty creeks… sprinkled with trash.

Downtown—the green and its surrounding “historic village”—is the main attraction, and draws in the majority of the tourists. (Though why you’d want to explore Limbo rather than, say, New York City (maybe an hour-ish away) or New Haven, is beyond me.) We have a stupid green and white gazebo that acts as a kind of symbol for the town. (It’s on our town flag—equally as pitiful.) I remember sitting in there a number of times, once looking over a graffito which read something like “I FUCKED HER HERE!”

Bank Street—so named for the large bank building on its corner—is prime real estate here. Every several months a business seems to close down on Bank Street, presumably unable to keep up with the cost. Some have staid for years: Archway News and Tobacco, the Bank Street Coffee House, a novelty/gag shop, the iconic Bank Street Theater ($5 for movies on Tuesdays) and a health food/organic grocer. But these are the minority. Most businesses on or around Bank Street close up as soon as they open. We’ve had a comic book shop (the owner was flaky?), a music shop, bars (too expensive, and the drunks were loud), furniture stores, clothing boutiques, and a Tex-Mex restaurant (wasn’t that great, anyway) go south.

I used to work at one of the Dunkin’ Donuts around here. It was one of those you see built into the corner of a gas station. Working with four other people on shift, confined to a hundred square foot space, is basically a nightmare. Especially for minimum wage.

Despite shitty customers (and let’s be honest—customer service is basically always taxing), there was some comic relief. Among the throngs of homeless nut jobs who wander the town green, one guy, who calls himself Ed (though he used to say his name was Matt…) would come in and talk to me about the most absurd shit, all while I pumped crappy coffee full of caramel syrup. He didn’t care. He’d lean his big arm on the sticky counter and just start yapping. One time he brought in a plastic bag full of maple seeds. He showed them to me and said, “hey, you see these apple seeds?” I told him they were maple seeds, a statement which he just outright denied, and then he told me something along the lines of, “man, I’m Johnny Appleseed. I’m going to plant these things all over the country.”

“Fair enough,” I told him.

He also once expressed to me that he owned a gold mine, one which so happened to be behind the very Dunkin’ Donuts that I worked at. Or so he said, at least. Funny. I never saw a gold mine. Just a parking lot, a creek, and some crumpled newspapers.

There are a few other nutty homeless people who travel to and fro, from Danbury to New Milford and vice versa. The HART bus (local public transit) is their drunk tank, as it is mine. (Sans drunk… for now, at least.) You see ’em hobbling around the streets, smoking, and just talking. Thankfully they don’t really beg much around here. They just file in and out of the tobacco shop.

When I volunteered at the local soup kitchen I’d encounter some of these characters. One was named Paul. A decent guy. Rumor was that he was a Harvard graduate. Used to ride a bike and smoke a little cherry wood pipe. He died of a heart condition not long ago.

Another was Dougie, or “Banjo Man,” who used to walk around drunk in the middle of the night, singing wildly and strumming his banjo. Once, he came into the soup kitchen asking for extra bagged lunches. (We gave out bagged lunches for later consumption, but the policy was to limit them to one per person per day.) He demanded more lunches in order to feed his “three-headed dogs,” which he supposedly lived with behind the local supermarket. There are, in fact, some bums who camp out there (or who at least used to), but I have my doubts about mutant canines.

Teenagers have nothing much to do here, seeing as this town is basically an open-air coffin anyway. Well, they have a skate park. And a baseball field. And a rowing team and parking lots to stand around it. And we’ve got the Maxx—the name itself makes me cringe—the “teen center” which miserably fails in its job of keeping kids out of trouble. If there were any drug deals going on while I was still in high school, it was always in the parking lot of the Maxx. Strangely enough, there always seemed to be a security guard walking around, though I guess he just didn’t give a shit, or didn’t notice.

There are these obnoxious bikers that fart their way up and down the road, often stopping at one of the trillion Dunkin’ Donuts to hang out in the parking lot for hours on end. Seems that’s what a lot of people do here: stand in parking lots. Unless you’re rich, in which case you probably have a house on Candlewood Lake, and your own pontoon boat, and can take lavish excursions to who-the-fuck-knows. Maybe Tahiti or Barbados or London or Mongolia…

We’ve got gas stations. And a few tattoo parlors. And a frozen yogurt bar. And a library. And golf courses/country clubs. We’ve got little hiking trails and ponds and the lake and some streams. We’ve got people kicking the dirt and picking at their food, drinking coffee and playing pool. We’ve got a few farms for pumpkin-picking and corn mazes, during the fall, of course. They’ve got cows. And the cows have got sheep. And the sheep have chickens. And the chickens have the earth.

Rolling hills. It’s all the rolling hills of Litchfield fuckin’ County. The “green wave” of the local high school. The mascot of which looks like a cracked-out version of Gumby… And we’ve got our fair share of parks and trails: Clatter Valley, Lover’s Leap, Dyke’s Point, the Still River Trail, and so forth. We’ve also got a tiny cave, called Tory’s Cave, which I’ve passed by, but have never been inside of. I hear that a British soldier once hid out there, during the Revolution. I also hear it’s a tight squeeze.

Beneath and along the bridges are graffiti etched out of the rust and painted over the steel. Beneath the big, red bridge on Lover’s Leap are some curious symbols suggesting the sigil of Lucifer, or the inverted pentagram, or just edgy-as-fuck teenagers getting stoned in the woods.

We’ve got mowed lawns and divided highways, back roads and abandoned lots (did I already mention that?), a psychic and a bunch of old, Victorian (-ish?) buildings converted into law offices and insurance agencies. We have a basketball court, a tennis court, gyms, a few marinas for the lake-side yuppies, and a factory or so… I don’t know whether they ever shut down the old Nestlé plant. All I know is that one day it just stopped smelling. I mean, for some reason, when it rained, the whole town would start stinking like urine and beef bouillon. I recall it less than fondly—having to stand there in the foggy morning, waiting on the school bus, wanting to puke.

We have little bits of swampland, criss-crossed with roads and bridges. Some of those bridges and passes are dilapidated, some drenched in spray paint, some overgrown with Japanese knotweed or goldenrod or wild mustard.

All in all, I guess it’s not such a bad town. If you’re rich enough, you can leave whenever you want. For myself, travelling three towns away is a serious ordeal. But that is also a product of my own laziness, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

Ah well. C’est la vie.

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Forever and Ever (and Ever and Ever and…)—A Little Rant on the Arbitrariness of All

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(Source unknown.)

“Profound boredom, drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals being as a whole.”

—Heidegger

~

A little rant:

What’s the point of being famous if humanity won’t last forever? Who will remember you? What’s the point in trying to do anything with the hope of it being remembered? I mean, look at gravestones. Ever see the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington? Headstones as far as the horizon. A lot of people put a lot of effort into getting those countless blocks in the ground. And yet, when the sun expands into a red giant, every grave on the earth, whether ostentatious or cheap, will be destroyed, along with every other monument and fragment of human civilization. Supposing we create a database that holds all the information about planet Earth and human history, and install it into a generational ship and carry that information to the stars and beyond? What, then, is stopping this monolithic supercomputer from being spaghettified in a black hole or dissolved in the event of the universe’s eventual heat death? I suppose if we have figured out inter-dimensional travel by that point, we can just tunnel into parallel universes for the rest of eternity, escaping the imminent death of each one. Maybe we’ll even find a world where entropy doesn’t exist. Then we can just kick back and enjoy the rest of forever. (And ever and ever and…)

But, anyway, this seems incredibly unlikely. So why do people care about being remembered, or becoming famous? The universe is 13.7ish billion years old. It will continue to exist for billions of years. And yet, even knowing this, so many of continue to squabble over pieces of dirt and pennies on the dollar, neither of which will be here in a million years. Plate tectonics and rising sea levels, globalization and cultural degredation, the modification of language and the unfathomable future we are all beset with… Entrust oneself to change!

So where, exactly, is the human race going, in the end? Will we just continue to exist for existence’s sake, on and on until we go nuts or blow our brains out? (Will there even be brains then?) What happens when we run out of new things to do and try? Will we off ourselves out of pure boredom once every song is written, every painting painted, every book published, every poem heard… every experience experienced?

Science fiction always provides a thought-provoking, albeit outlandish, backdrop: Perhaps the answer is to put humans, or their evolutionary descendants, into flotation tanks of some sort. Then, we can keep them on (what’s assumed to become) eternal life support, and pump them full of feel-good drugs, so all they ever experience is pure bliss. E.g. A strange panacea that, say, mixes the effects of MDMA and heroin, and never causes tolerance. Addiction wouldn’t have to be worried about, since these individuals wouldn’t have to function in society. You’d just have to find space for them in a broom closet or warehouse is all. They could just be butt ass naked floating in these tanks…

Or how about something akin to The Matrix? Rather than Tom Anderson’s dead-end office job, have the denizens of this cybernetic universe live in an eternal play-land, a Cartesian dreamworld-utopia, full of the greatest delights imaginable. How would that be?

I realize that there are many philosophers who have tackled the overarching problems of purposelessness and dissatisfaction in some way or another: Buddha boiled it down to suffering, whereas on the more existential, Western side we find Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Sartre, and so forth. It is largely an individual issue. As such, I’ve never really seen it put into the context of humanity’s long-term existence, eventual fate, and function in the universe. So, anyway, I broached the topic.

I’ve also seen the obvious mystical leanings. I like them… I do. The idea of it all being about “knowing thyself” or simply the experience of pure being, or non-being, or whatever way you formulate soteriology, etc. For religionists this may be Nirvana, or Heaven, or Jannah, or gnosis, etc. And, as I’ve implied, the existentialists tackled this issue, but only on an individual level, really. (“What is MY purpose in this world…?”) My question is, what is all of humanity eventually going towards, and what happens when we ultimately run out of things to do? Do we erase our memories (with whatever lightspeed gadgets we’re assumed to have at this theoretical point in the future, or just some kind of hyper-barbiturate, yada yada) and then just start over, ad infinitum? How is it that we avoid nihilism, or even a concomitant antinatalism, as a collective? Does this differ from the way that we give meaning to individual lives?

I know this may come off as a little silly or outlandish. Granted, I wrote this pretty quickly, so pardon a lack of articulation or elaboration. In any case, I think it’s really a pertinent question of how we value the world.

(SEE THIS ALSO.)

We Are Not Alone

fuck

(Source unknown.)

Ryan doesn’t seem a terribly common name, even if it is unisex. So few people know Ryans—at least around Podunkville, Connecticut—that when I tell them my name they have to do a double-, triple-, or even quadruple-take, attempting to correct themselves.

“Brian?” They’ll ask.

“No, Ryan.”

“B-b-BRIAN? You said Brian?”

RY-an. RRRRy-an. Ryan.”

“With a “B”?”

… Anyway, that’s sort of how introductions tend to go for me. It doesn’t peeve me anymore, really. Now it’s just funny. I fully expect to be, and indeed I am, known as Brian to at least a few people. Primarily a co-worker from Peru.

Have you ever been tempted to go online and look up your name? It’s a strange feeling. Next time you do decide to Google yourself, put your name in quotes (of course). I would then highly recommend clicking the “Images” tab—what pops up can be anything from stiflingly boring, absolutely hilarious, mortifying, depressing, or outright shocking.

The fact is that we aren’t alone with our names. Names, those things that encapsulate us as individual beings… you’d think there would be some inherent sacredness about them. No. Sorry. They’re nearly omnipresent, at least for the majority of us.

Imagine my surprise when I found out just how close to “Jon Doe” “Ryan Stewart” is:

Apparently I’m mostly a sports person, which seems odd, since in this particular incarnation sports are the furthest thing from my mind. But there it is—I’m a footballer, a footballer (“soccer”—doing my best to be culturally sensitive), I’m in the NHL, and I’m at least several tall black dudes who shoot hoops for the Detroit Lions and the Long Beach City College Vikings (what a mouthful), among other ball-handling associations.

I also have the pleasure of being a tech-savvy manager for some fancy Adobe software, as well as a Canadian songwriter. Yes, I’m Canadian. (Two of them, at least.) I’m also from Trinidad, interestingly enough. (I’m admittedly a little envious of this other Ryan Stewart. Trinidad sounds pretty damn good, especially with the ass-kicking (I mean that in a bad, bad way) winters we get here.)

So maybe I’m one of a few million people with Gaelic to their name. So what?

Considering this, I began crediting myself as “Ryan V. Stewart” in my blogs and such. There’s no way that anyone else could possibly be a “Ryan V. Stewart”, right?

Wrong again. But only by a hair: There are two—two—Ryan V. Stewarts other than myself. (Well, that’s what Google can detect with its wizardry, in any case.) Apparently one of them lives in Illinois, and the other one was arrested in Philadelphia for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute.

As intimidating as heroin dealers might be, I have to admit that, after finding this out, I had a little bit of a romanticized, albeit sort of morbid, wish to meet this guy. He’s what? Two, maybe three hours from me? Pennsylvania isn’t so far from yuppie-nutmeg-country. It would have been pretty jaw-dropping to meet another Ryan V. Stewart, much less a Ryan Stewart at all.

It was my intention, as an aspiring writer—of sorts—to quite literally make a name for myself, one that would stand out amid the crowd, the sea of John Does, John Smiths, Sarahs and Ashleys and Chads and Joes. What will I do now? I can’t really use my full name. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue too well. “Ryan Vincent Stewart” doesn’t have the same ring as “John Stuart Mill” or “John Lee Hooker”.

And you know what? It wouldn’t matter anyway. Because, apparently, there’s a Ryan Vincent Stewart in West Unity, Ohio.

Now what lightens the mood a bit is Vincent Stewart Ryan, son of Anthony Ryan, apparently a serviceman in the U.S. Army during WWII. After all this debasing of identity, I got a bit of a kick out of that.

It just goes to show that if you do enough snooping ’round digital space you’ll find all sorts of useless facts about people you’ll never meet, or who’ve been dead and buried for god knows how long now. Maybe that makes me a proverbial “creeper”, or just an asshole, or whatever.

All of this is ultimately the consequence of living in a  world of 7 or 8 billion and counting. What? You expected to be unique? You are one helluva ubiquitous snowflake, my friend.

Maybe, after all, we shouldn’t condemn celebrities for giving their kids such fanciful names as Pilot Inspektor (son of Jason Lee) and Jermajesty Jackson (son of Jermaine Jackson). Then they’ll go down in history without parentheses after their name on the pertinent Wikipedia page; they will be known for something more than the fact that they are the offspring of people who regularly bathe in liquid gold.

Maybe, after all, we ought to start naming everyone John Doe, or John Smith, or…

Out of the Blue and Into the Bullshit

“While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in ALL.”

Kybalion/”Three Initiates”

tribar

Tribar. (From Roz.at.)

I write things. Or so I strive. This is just another little happenstance that floats by, something else to tack on to the inexhaustible list of events and qualities that always have and will peel off of the pure and tepid fabric of existence, the baseline entirety. I’m not a determinist, per se, but I am fairly dramatic: I see the dots connecting and the hand being dealt on a level beyond brass tacks.

To be clear, I don’t think this should be taken as a pretentious view: it doesn’t make me ideal or idyllic or more metaphysically inclined than anyone else. In fact, I find it really levels the playing field. When you think the universe is just sitting there, waiting, in a single grain of sand, it’s really fairly humbling, in part because it doesn’t matter anyway. And thus anyone is capable of anything of equal importance. The empty glass can be filled and spilled over with any color you prefer.

What I can tell you, then, is that at some point, somewhere, everything fucking exploded.

I can tell you that I have perceived, and I have imagined, strange, perhaps unfalsifiable tangents, heart strings that tie together a lamp shade and George Bush, a mussel shell on the Outer Banks and a class B star in the Orion Nebula, gumballs and Saving Private Ryan, Hegelian ontology and R. Kelley, tantric Buddhism and puréed onions, briar pipes and two hours of jogging, the laws of thermodynamics and the air twenty centimeters to my left, all times and places and spaces colliding and combining, etc., etc., and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, ad absurdum, yada yada, lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, blah blah blah…

You could say this forms a major component of my point of departure, phenomenologically. Everything is not only contingent upon, but in some sense exists as everything else. (Cf. pratītyasamutpāda, Indra’s net, apophenia, et cetera.) And this is not limited to concrete objects: any universal foundation, I would assume, must also apply to abstractions and conceptualizations, or the world of ideas. (Sure, the thoughts you have sitting on the toilet at four in the morning aren’t real in the same sense as the shower curtain or the frozen pad Thai you had for dinner, earlier in the day—whence the toilet—but both are real in a more inclusive manner. The perceived and the conceived both exist, albeit in their own sorts of ways…) Between the lines there is not only interconnectivity and interdependence, but interpenetration as well. There is always present an element of “beyondness”, the tangibility of infinity and eternity, the sheer fact that nothing ends in and of itself: In a carrot, for instance, you can see the end of the universe. In Wahhabism you can glean its birth and burgeoning. In my conception of psychiatry and my thoughts regarding it yesterday, I, in some sense, experienced hypostatic union with a toasted bagel. The end, the telos (τέλος) is long dead, or never was.

I can make these claims, regardless of whether or not they are true. I can yet still make them, and put them here, whether they are apprehended or understood. It is clear, and I don’t deny, that in accordance with today’s consensus reality these statements have no rhyme or reason to impart. Maybe I come across as a connoisseur of tin-foil hats or a a farcical fuckup who decides, somehow, that disparate suchnesses can be strung together willy-nilly. It all sounds a little fuckin’ crazy, right? No, I don’t deny that.

But, at least as it has struck me, the world, on a very deep level, contains an unremitting, everlasting substratea paradox if ever there was onewhich binds all and all-within-all. This is not only a non-duality (as many Eastern traditions, as well as Western Neoplatonism and Hermeticism emphasize), but a non-differentiation. I won’t venture so far as to say I’m a pantheist or monist (as, in reality, this binding infinity would be infinitely transcendent of all [other] concepts, including itself)I don’t kiss ass for dead Spinoza or Plato or Plotinusbut perhaps there is a similarity in those lines of thought. (Cf. TaoThe Cloud of Unknowing, etc.)

Well, the Buddhists contend this is emptiness (śūnyatā), this [non?-]essence, this basis of possibility, this openness of [not-]being that I speak of, and a comparable opinion exists in Taoist philosophy, too.

…  But I’m digressing, anyway. And though digression is easily one of my favorite activities, and a possibility that exists only within a universe of unending potential and contingency, I will leave the ass-clench topic of nothingness for another long day.

Now take a u-turn: On the underbelly of everything, on the flip-side it’s all uncertainty. You go beyond the beyond and on and on and again, but at the spearpoint of maximalism everything inverts: You’re in the Cocytus of unknowability, a cold and blank epistemic darkness.

The fact of the matter is that nothing I say or have said is necessarily true. (De omnibus dubitandum est!) Nothing I publish here can be known with a one-hundred percent, full-proof, bona fide guarantee-or-your-money-back. There is no empirical salvation that comes to the fore like life-time warranties on new mattresses. I don’t care whether you suck up to science or philosophy, mysticism or religiosity or any other thing.

What we call “knowledge” is at most a close approximation, and at least an illusion. Anything and everything can be denied, and not only on the grounds that the senses are fallible, but that objects and experiences themselves may be equated with those phenomena which are normally not considered their contingents or co-existents. You can say that gravity exists, and for all intents and purposes this is true, practically speaking—we see the evidence for it everywhere we turn… or every time we fall—but on another level, a level in which things can be known beyond the shadow of a doubt, the shadow wins out. It blankets everything. If I can tell you that gravity is really the White House, a smartphone, a big dick or the postal service, why am I wrong? Because it doesn’t stand up to reason? What if all that straightforward, cerebral precision is but a false faculty that merely allots you some navigation amid an ultimate wrack and chaos? What if your reason, your clear-eye rationale… what if it all just amounts to good guesswork, utilitarian at very best? The noumenon extends infinitely beyond perception. Isn’t that what would really make for an ultimatum? Only without the observer can the observed begin to be; and yet without the observer there is nothing, it seems, to see. (Heh.) I guess this comes across as an uncompromising idealism, but I should mention, before you start accusing me of ass-kissing for -isms—and god forbid -ologies—that I don’t go the full length and breadth of any philosophy and come ashore to the so-called “truth”. I juggle with these ideas, and otherwise I get along more or less OK.

Now, on that note, the noumenon itself is also, however, possibility, inasmuch as a purely phenomenal world is. Both objective truth and unknowability stand on a wavering, unsettled spectrum of infinite uncertainty, the idea that, no matter how right you are, there is always some chance—even if infinitesimal—that you’re actually wrong: Let me clarify… there’s the chance that I’m wrong. There’s also the chance that you or I or that guy over there, sipping coffee with a concerned countenance—that we’re all wrong, or that one of us is right, even—imagine that!—or that we’re all right, and so on. (Cf. Anekantavada.) The issue, then, is not who is correct or otherwise, a straight empiricist or outright bullshitter of the highest order, but the chance itself, the moment of “truth” yielding to eternity.

You know, the Greek philosopher Arcesilaus seems to have put it well: “Nothing is certain, not even this.” … I really want to avoid any tendentious inclinations here, but I’ve got a soft that quote in particular. (Cf. Pyrrhonism, philosophical skepticism, etc.) Not to mention spanikopita…

Now there are more seasoned (note: real) philosophers that would counter this contention. But all of their notions rely on previously established truths in order to function. (Cf.  Sartre and Being and Nothingness.) If nothing can be known, perhaps it is only because of and implies the fact that all can and is known, at once, immediately. If we suggest that everything is everything else, then the only thing to do is put on the top hat and cook bacon butt naked. Perhaps. Perhaps these mystics are right on the ball with non-duality, or dichotomy, or polarity. Ouroboros chows down on his own tail; things are recurssive—and yet endlessly discursive—and the world submits itself before the gleaming white throne of a laughable absurdity, before the collision of worlds that ends in a diabolical circus of neutered clowns.

But again I am digressing. I won’t regale you with my pet philosophies any longer. And is it really worth wording direct experience, anyway? That would be the key, to go out and live it and see… The Zen masters have long understood that all knowledge and pondering eventually dissolve in something deeper, something unwordable and beyond intellection. That is, direct experience. But again I am digressing…

So that easy-to-do impermanence, that blasé indifference just won’t do justice to this blog. I do want to maintain a certain amount of professionality here, although the sheer immensity of existence makes it difficult to donn a suit and tie and ironed arghile socks on every little fucking occasion.

Perhaps I should really begin by admitting that I am in no way a philosopher, not any more than I am a plumber or prostitute or meteorologist or gynecologist. I’m working at my petty pace for a measly degree in writing, and I’m hapilly minoring in philosophy, although I don’t have much authority beyond what I’ve read. Then again that’s the pleasure of having a blog, right? It’s mine. I can say whatever I goddamn well please. But I’ll try to be civil when I can; no overstepped boundaries or cutthroat critiques.

The question should be, then, what to talk about. A concerned acquaintance advises me to pick a particular topic to focus on, so I’ll gather a following and network with future Pulitzers or even get published, Christ almighty! published. Can you conceive of it? I must have particularity in order to draw the masses. What to say? Environmentalism is good? I get my coffee at this or that place?  Tips on Brazilian butt lifts?

Realistically, I just don’t see this happening. I’m being real frank with you. Each day I have a new interest to pursue, a new book to peruse or a bauble to swat at. I wish and I wash. I am capricious and undeniably indecisive. I ought to have a new religion and hair color each and every hour.

And so it goes. What can I say? My mind makes the clearance and takes the freeway way down through the deep, dank valley of tangentiality and otherwise bullshit, glowing with all its lights and signs and awash with the sounds of erupting stars dashing through the chasm, over the golden cobblestone. On the basis that everything is interconnected, or maybe just because I’m a flake, I will heretofore dedicate this blog to talking about anything and everything. I’ll explode within the womb of the world; I’ll ride out that tangent to my deathbed.

So wish me luck, and all the best to yourself. That’s a tip of the hat or a nod of the head to a life lived out on every path. In the vast blue openness of the sky, of our universe in all its wild splendor, in all its emptiness and stewing rank, amid the possibility of all and anything, things can get pretty scary real quick. Just keep your pants on.

… Well, here’s to some glimmer of hope and hilarity in the end.

~

“One thing, all things, move among and intermingle, without distinction…”

— Sengcan, Xinxin Ming (信心銘 Faith in Mind)