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“Wakefulness and Obsession: An Interview with E. M Cioran”

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An interesting interview that captures the inner toils that speak to the fervent authenticating experience of writing – eunoia. He writes: “A writer who is not in some way ill is for me almost automatically a writer of the second rank.” He shrank from philosophy in early life finding there was nothing of use to him to be found in their works. Eliade, had written scathingly of his first publication. Ceaselessly adept to crises of spirit, faith, or a crisis of faith, never found him as such. But it would not be arguments that would ever change his comportment, alter his ways, move him, but exhaustion.

He says: “I am actually less a passionate than a possessed type. In all things I must go to the end of possibility and it is not, finally, arguments that convince me to change my mind, but only exhaustion, that which is exhausted by passion. (This has connections with faith.) Because of this, personal encounters, seemingly small things in my life were full of decided significance. I was always very receptive to them; I have always, for example, spoken to strangers and many an encounter has given me a great deal. I have above all a weakness for people who are slightly disturbed. In Rumania, in Sibiu, a city with at least 60,000 inhabitants, I knew in one way or the other all the knocked-about people. The poets, too, who of course belong with them! The morbid attracts me, but morbid, what does that mean, anyway? ”

Failure, hopelessness, the disturbed, all seemed to come to his mortal wake not to console but to disrupt until all would fall to the hillside; negation then. And he speaks of that man, who had a tremendous impact on him: “He was not at all an evil man, no scoundrel, absolutely not, but someone to whom it was plainly impossible to have even the smallest illusion about anything whatsoever. This is also a form of knowing, for what is knowing finally but putting something in question? That kind of knowing, that understanding that pushes too far, is dangerous. Basically – I speak of life as it is and not of abstract philosophical constructs – life is only bearable because one does not go to the end; doing something is only possible when one has particular illusions and that holds also for friendships, for everything. The most perfect consciousness, absolute lucidity, is nothingness. And this fellow was driven to that point.”

It is then in that subterranean voice, negligent to the philosopher of abstract ideas, as well as formulae, and articulations of grand speaking truths. For he says: “As a rule, we know only the surface from our actions, only that which is formulated. But what is far more important is just that which cannot be formulated, the implicit, the secret behind an utterance, what is hidden therein. On that account, all judgments of others as well as those about the self are partially wrong. For the deepest part is hidden, but it is the more actual, the essential in humans and at the same time the most difficult of access. Novels often give one the best possibility to transpose oneself, to express without explaining oneself. The truly great writers are, in my view, those who have a feel for the subterranean; I am thinking above all of Dostoïevski. He is interested in everything that is deep and apparently lowly, though it is not lowly, but tragic. The great novelists are the true psychologists. I know many people who have written novels and have failed at it. Even Eliade wrote several novels and he failed. Why? Because he could only reproduce superficial phenomena, without translating them from the depths, from the source. The source of an emotion is very difficult to grasp, but it comes to just that. That holds for all phenomena, for faith, etc. Why did it begin, how did it develop? and so forth – only he who has the gift of divination can perceive where it really comes from. But it is not accessible to reflection. Dostoïevski is the only one who has pushed forward to the source of human dealings.” And further: “the psychoanalyst wants to heal, but I seek for something quite different. I want to grasp the daemonic in mankind. What the secret of one’s life is, one does not know oneself. This very secrecy, on the other hand, creates meaning in life, out of the communication between people. And if this were not the case, it would merely be a perpetual dialogue between marionettes. I would say that it revolves around the right tone; each person has a certain tone in everything that he does.”

He is not a puppet to positivity and whatever trending, consoling, modalities sought to explain away human suffering. He marvelled at the exasperating destitute of lived life, perhaps a marvel is more fitting, for he feared not to look without complacencies into that ontic mirror that might restore him from inevitable self-destruction. He is not for or of the feeble simple-minded, nor still the seekers of Truth in composure, quietude, and self-containment. It is the whirly winds of Aeolus that twist, garble, and undercut the Word from which we, as with Sisyphus, shall crawl out from beneath bearing a weight of perpetual struggle.

“A person who tells me that music means nothing to him is straight-away liquidated for me. It is something very serious for me, for music stirs that most intimate region in human beings.Bach is a god to me. Someone who does not understand Bach is lost; it is actually unimaginable, though it does happen. I believe that music is the only branch of art that has the capacity to construct a deep complicity between two human beings. Not poetry, only music. Someone who is insensitive to music suffers from an enormous handicap. That is simply the case and it is completely normal for music to construct a bond between people. It is unthinkable that they hear anything by Schumann or Bach, anything that they love, without being stirred. But I can understand how someone might dislike this or that poet.”

My mother, as a music therapist, would have appreciated this. That inter-dialogical affair mobilized musically amidst kindred spirits verbosely denied is omnipresent when heard.

The Best of Bach

Wakefulness and Obsession: An Interview with E. M Cioran

Wakefulness and Obsession: An Interview with E.M. Cioran Author(s): MICHEL JAKOB, E.M. Cioran and Kate Greenspan Source: Salmagundi, No. 103 (SUMMER 1994), pp. 122-145 Published by: Skidmore College

My Way

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The high road is feigned the road of the righteous, the fair, the just, the good. The fair, the just, the good, in turn, are feigned the rational, the sound, the balanced, the temperate. What a wondrous uncompromising, and deliciously ordered world this must be. How delightful to walk the straight and narrow line where existential spillage is negligent. There is an abundance of metaphysics chiming in to plot the landscape to settle this path. Kant? Spinoza? Mill? Rand? Epictetus? Epicurus? Plato? Aristotle? Hobbes? Nietzsche? Sartre? de Beauvoir? Foucault? Levinas? Who shall we call upon? The Buddha? Christ? The Church Fathers? Zen Masters? No one; and everyone!

My way is often touted as nonconformist, counter-cultural, defiant, adversarial, non-compliant, dis-obedient; and yet, contrariety to commonplace, dominant paradigms is rarely received with such admiration when it is contrary, and indignantly contra your own! Yet, how one delights in the authenticating experience, shouting how often the debris leaves sufferers in the wake that seemingly aim to inauthenticate your existential expedition! Ach, my contrariety! My wake, my awaking, and ultimate demise! Nietzsche knew this. He also knew the process of ‘becoming who he really is’  involves shattering and shedding ambivalent suitors. In his case, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Montaigne, and without a doubt, Socrates. Nietzsche’s persistent love-hate relationship with Socrates may very well speak to pedagogic “ideals” as those that don’t simply, and narrowly inculcate contra-rational forms of living, or those that seek comportment in “self-mastery” or a self-legislating will, opening the flood-gates to the instincts, but to an unrest, dis-tranquilization of the spirit in resting too comfortably, whereby one’s concretized comportment gives way to that authorial chair of authority abstractly sitting overhead and delegating one’s will. It is, as Nietzsche has put it, “Those who do not wish to belong to the mass need only cease taking themselves easily (my italics); let them follow their conscience, which calls them: ‘Be yourself! All that you are now doing, thinking, desiring is not you yourself” (Untimely Meditations, III: I, I: 338). Giving style to one’s character involves not suppressing or dismissing (the instinct to) the rational, but recognizing the tyranny of reason as the supreme human instinct that would expunge, that would sooner castrate and de-aestheticized the human experience, than permit it loss to socio-political (and today industrialized) dictates. Socrates was a martyr of his time for his counter-establishment, counter-cultural method of turning the youth to those inherited moralized paradigms that tend to work in the service of extrinsic, political often, forms of oppression. But in Nietzsche’s view this was accomplished through idolizing reason, and demonizing the instincts. Though not in complete agreement with his rendering of Socrates, his life and method, the point is well taken. The stylistic process of becoming oneself is a process of “losing one’s way,” (insert Foucault) and with gaping mouth revert to unadulterated scripts that expunge the decadent, the toxic, but win no lottery of worth that is outwardly visible. Inwardly, epimeleia eautou (επιμέλεια εαυτού), is alarmingly settled! Finally, though not final.

Household Lies

tumblr_o3mkkrNPgB1vnyo60o1_1280Stumbling in, he falls unconscious. All around there’s scrambling commotion. Foot steps rushing urgently, scattered whispers enjoining like a choir of nymphs, the hissing lodging a hole through my ear. Strokes of regret enamour hope and the foot steps become more decisive and directed. The drawer opens, and a syringe is drawn from deep inside. Breathing resumes. From further afar I see his chest expand and deflate. The stench of relief is palpable.

We’re all breathing now.

There’s no talk of the events that transpired as the house slowly comes back to life. The household routine is resurrected. Each to their quarters and little lives. Everything is as it was. I begin to wonder if it happened at all. After all this couldn’t be happening, not to us. We did everything right.

Impenetrable mind-schemes!

Get Outta Your Mundane

The calamity of life is boredom. Kierkegaard said so. His linguistic elocutions had better gait, of course, but his point was the same. As he too warns,  idleness is not boredom. Inertia is different. It is kinda like passive aggression, it never quite poses for itself. Newton’s Law of Inertia basically speaks to the “inability of a physical body to change from a state of rest or of uniform motion, unless it is acted upon by an external force”. But it was Dostoevsky that understood the existential crisis brought on by this state. Inertia figures in Dostoevsky’s work Krotkaja (“The Gentle One” or sometimes translated “The Meek One”) where the running theme tragically narrated concerns a context, indeed that human-made context, of human understanding which is a coolly, mechanistic world determinate of laws of causation. Here then, inertia is not properly understood as actual inactivity, but activity determinant of a causal network of relations which are taken to define human activity. Much in the same way that objects are subject to laws of nature that determine motion, humankind self-identifies – well not consciously, people!!!!! – as a well greased machine, well at least when performative capacity is optimal. The suggestion is that the laws of nature in the physical world operate in precisely the same way with regards to humanity. Though the threat of determinism is imminent, suppose that this could be surpassed, it leaves free will at the mercy of a modus operandi that seeks out those governing laws of human nature according to which, or for which, any judgement should properly comply. Of course, the point would be that agency is tied up with goals, and the means by which these are fulfilled reflect the modus operandi.

The lucky ones – or maybe not so damn lucky!!! – discover this inertia that has seeped in and corroded all that is human, and despairing look to break out of their mundane. Don’t be fooled, the mundane is actively ( 😉 ) at work in the mosthuman-inertia sprightly, successful, and assertive lives! Was not the lives of the Greeks – Aristotle (though I will argue in my upcoming book that there is room here to manoeuvre) and notably the Stoics – aimed at virtue-building in accordance with nature, whereby one could learn to address all of those contaminates of the proper ordering of human activity, and live an active, prosperous, fulfilling life? The natural forces do not bend under the human will, mind you, rather it is the human will that learns to adapt and bend to the governing Will of the universe. As a result one would not futilely suffer over the events of one’s life but rather learn to live in accordance with them. As Epictetus famously says: Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.

At what cost Dostoevsky? At what COST! The shrilling706x410q70ee9d94f4485e80f5f054a92f746730a5-470x260 sounds vibrate in my mind and arrest my feet. I stand motionless, I am inertia! A double paradox presents. Once there, there seems no where to go, and hence the overwhelming, indeed fossilizing, experienced as angst. Recovery finds its way in the 2nd paradoxical state as vexed resistance: resistance to change.

Zen is not an option. Serenity, αταραξία, is a self-annihilating state. But subliminal peace is too potent to resist and so back to the running wheel disguised as a road spanning over the vast and unyielding beauty of nature. Resist and condemn yourself. Yield and loose yourself. Troubled are the waters not for the Phelpses (Micheal Phelps was a US Olympic decorated swimmer) of the world, but the circus clown! 🙂

 

 

Is regret regretful?

So many memes on regret and forgiveness these days. I’m not big on blind or universal forgiveness nor do I argue that regret is regrettable ( 😉 )! A twitter contact invited my reaction to this quote this morning: “Regret is a coping mechanism that, coupled with the luxury of hindsight, fixates on the past overrunning your present. Not very productive”. (Proper practice requires acknowledging one’s sources, but as is typical of social media, this is unknown to me. If you happen to be a Twitter contact, my apologies for this, and please do identify yourself and let me know if these words have been taken out of context or belong to a longer more carefully crafted discussion that you’d want acknowledged.) The first speaks to psychology and the latter to a daunting Christian ethic. Nothing wrong with coping, or coping “mechanisms”, so long as they don’t run the show and become a crutch to evade suffering and owning the events of one’s life. These come in so many forms that they are literally countless. But some of these include distractions in the form of alcohol and drugs, food, thrills, other people, or the more elusive case of maintaining a paradigm with shifting faces (this is the best and most successful kind! 😛 ), work, projects, fitness, and more. I know I’m guilty of more than a few of these. But not all of these are necessarily unhealthy choices, since many of these are at least healthy ways to maintain balance, at least initially, and only ever become unhealthy life-long choices when the real underlying sense of loss and despair is left unaddressed. Regret can be a most healthy and mature route as I have argued in my original blog post (see below). As for fixating on the past such that it overrides the present, this too is not a necessary parable. Indeed, lamenting over the past and feeding a sense of hurt, loss, and/or betrayal is not the same thing as addressing the events of one’s life in a level-headed manner in order to properly (re)orient oneself which can be a tremendously insightful process where one often (insert psychotherapy here) identifies habituated patterns born out of pathologies that are at the core of wrong turns taken along the way, and repeated scenarios that mysteriously (hahahahaha) end the same way. Again, this is liberating and leaves one not harnessed to your past, or any pasts, but able to devise new habitual paradigms which are the game changers of life.

What of forgiveness? Clearly moral, psychological and theological issues arise. I won’t attempt to contribute to this complex debate (see Forgiveness and Christian Ethics (for starters), https://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Christian-Ethics-New-Studies/dp/0521878802), but I will say this. Forgiveness cannot simply be a matter of the wronged individual rising above the often malicious or heartless pain and suffering caused by others (either directly to one self or indirectly through others). Not all wrongdoings are created equal, and forgiveness does and (in my books) should reflect that. How and why does one forgive the murderous, tortuous deeds of a Nazi soldier who shows no regret, remorse or even the slightly acknowledgment of wrongdoing, but instead reveals an indignant confidence in his “work”, and the commitment to see the events of the world unfold whereupon he’d gladly take up arms once again? Two issues arise here: the seriousness of the wrongdoing, and the regret of the wrongdoer. The first concerns a complicated relationship between the objective and subjective with regards to evaluating wrongdoings as wrongdoings and determining the degree either according to certain features of the act or intentions of the act itself, and evaluating suffering as suffering and determining the causal relationship between the act and the subjective features of suffering, as well as, the authenticity of said suffering (one might argue that suffering is self-imposed in cases of delusional individuals, unstable, and/or hyper-sensitive individuals). The second concerns the regret of the wrongdoer! Again, I address the issue of remorse in my original blog, but let me say this: acknowledging the pain and suffering caused to others from a psychological perspective can be liberating for the “victim” since it may offer closure (a proper understanding of events can be liberating as when one wants to talk to one’s assailant in order to understand why!!), de-victimize the experience, and/or may entirely alter one’s experience of loss and/or betrayal, as when a feeling of rejection, or callousness turns out to be an expression of the assailant’s defence mechanism (this is a common occurrence when one or both parties of an ended relationship speak ill of each other, begin new affairs within seconds of their demise (the Greeks: we’re nothing if not dramatic! 😉 ), and so on; i.e. this is their expression of loss and a mechanism (yes, theirs! 😉 ) to deal with that loss, and hence a sign not of rejection but of the regret (regret? did I say regret? 😉 ) of the demise, and an expression of continued love and attachment) or may be an expression of one’s moral barometer (this can be the case when someone does something that knowingly will cause another a degree of suffering but which is perceived to be for their own good). There is nothing quite as powerful to the ringing ears of the disparaged, than the words “I’m sorry”! But what happens when “Sorry!” never comes? Psychologists sometimes ban with theologians on this one, and argue that forgiveness is self-liberating. That is, it is through the act of forgiveness that the wronged can move on. But why is this? I submit that it rests in a deeply embedded assumption that emotional restitution craves and hence must have a sense of justice restored. The wronged seek peace in understanding the whys and hows of other people’s choices; sometimes these may be part of a larger more spiritual paradigm, and sometimes it is more of a secular kind of anthropology. In either case, it is understanding within a conceptual paradigm of meaning that explains away the wrongdoing, and thereby appeases one’s feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness. I don’t doubt that. Indeed, it receives a swaggering high five from me – after all what kind of philosopher would I be were I not invested in clarity! ( 🙂 ) What I would argue, however, is that this confuses apples with oranges. Clarity, understanding, and sound reasoning can be used to address cognitive dissonance and it can go a long way in realigning one’s orientation in the world, which is part of the healing process. Still, forgiveness is not at issue or exclusively an issue for the wronged subject, as the example with the ardent Nazi soldier aimed to suggest. A corollary issue is whether an assailant deserves forgiveness. Does this not require that the aggressor actually do something, like perhaps show some regret, or remorse?!!! And backward we go again to consider regret! What happens when they just don’t deserve forgiveness? There’s the hard task of admitting that “shit happens…and sometimes it’s an underserved, inexplicable mass of shit” (as in the case of Nazi survivors, cases like Jyoti Singh (I’ve spoken about this elsewhere: See India’s Daughter) and more!). There are evil people (some may disagree) and events (some may object to the word “evil”) in this world. So I submit, that in part, one must admit that so much that affects and infects us, is beyond our own control (some of which is in the control of those sometimes regretful others) and often there is no rhyme nor reason for it. Indeed, one might even embrace the view that there is, in fact, no universal justice in the world (as I would), but only those human-made paradigms in which and for which justice becomes meaningful. Sometimes, healing and clarity requires being able to live with that!

From a moral perspective, it says that I assume and acknowledge my responsibility in the (perhaps unnecessary) pain and suffering I caused you, and can now with clarity of mind, and liberation of heart, genuinely say I was wrong; that you were wronged, and I regret that! From a metaphysical perceptive it says, that if I could go back and alter the causal events of the world, I would have chosen otherwise, and would, given the opportunity, not have put actions or events into play that caused your suffering.

The Joy of Regret (the original blog post)

More often than not people profess that one should not regret anything one has done because, after all, it got me to where I am now. And strangely even when ‘where one is now’ ain’t so great, bizarrely one draws inspiration from the idea that I would not be who I am were it not for everything that preceded, and I guess not profoundly embracing this notion is blasphemous dribble suggestive of self-annihilation. I don’t agree. I’m so totally with Kathryn.

Do you honestly believe that Biban Janković does not regret slamming his head against the goal post (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boban_Jankovi%C4%87) that caused his paralysis and premature death? What if the late Jyoti Singh (see India’s Daughter) could turn back the clock and not enter the bus from hell? Would she not have chosen to? You can be sure that Stanley Tookie Williams ((http://www.biography.com/people/stanley-tookie-williams-476676) regrets his delinquent ways! Indeed, it was his regret that moved him to change his ways, and though from a prison cell, inspire young hooligans on the fast track to a life of crime, to learn from his mistakes! Regret implies agency  – Kathryn is right about this, no? We cannot regret what we cannot change. I can’t regret being born into a world bent on (still lingering) patriarchal sentiments, any more than I can regret the vicious tragedy that befell the lovely Jyoti Singh. These events were not within my power to effect. But this is not the same as decisions made under my watch, as I surveyed my life. The premise is fallaciously employed retroactively to suggest that because I cannot change the past, and therefore have no control over altering events already transpired, that regret is a futile occupation. Of course, I did have agential authority over events that, despite the initial suggestion, one quite naturally evokes a sense of regret for (“Damn I wish I hadn’t eaten that 2nd piece of cake!” or “Shit, I wish I hadn’t betrayed my wife and pissed my family away!”) which is obviously not the case with regards to those events over which I never had (or could have had) such authority over. Still, many might argue that what is done is done. The past cannot be undone. I cannot claim (or be assigned) agential authority over that. True enough. Except for one thing. Regret is an emotionally charged response to a situation which is perceived to have been under one’s control to effect. This is why often cries of self-admonition – “I wish I hadn’t!!!!”- can be heard over and over again. Sometimes regrets linger and are replayed ad nauseam as one wrestles with the emotional overtures of events one could (often easily) have altered….but didn’t. Regret does not reflect one’s impotency to change the past, but one’s weakness, ignorance, idiocy, delusion, to have acted in a way that one now understands to have been under  (or could have been) one’s control to do otherwise. That’s why I don’t regret what is perceived to have been beyond my control to act otherwise (eg. under coercive threat).

And we do actually believe this. Regret is the moral backdrop (perhaps) of all organized human life where moral culpability plays a fundamental role in the assignment of blame and incurring punishments and penalties. We don’t send sociopaths to jail because they are deemed ill-fit and devoid of the moral sentiments from which a sense of moral culpability is drawn. The point is twofold: (i) Iff one is sound in mind, is one assigned moral culpability (eg. mentally challenged, temporary insanity, psychoses, etc.) ; and (ii) only in cases such as these does one recognize in oneself acts of wrong doing and the ensuing predictable (and I dare say, expected) feeling of regret! The corollary of this view is that such individuals (especially those suffering from psychoses) are beyond rehabilitation because they are beyond redemption. Herein lies the crux of the matter: regret charges one with both the responsibility and motivation to alter one’s ways. It says, in effect, I could have acted differently, if only I had known x, believed y, was willing to see or accept z, and/or had the courage to act accordingly. With foresight in my grasp, I can now tend to these shortcomings in self, and begin my journey towards my own transvaluation of values (well not quite as Nietzsche might have hoped, but perhaps Derek Vineyard’s existential plight in American History X offers some insight – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsPW6Fj3BUI) and the negotiation of self (so very unlike that more convenient idea with which this blog began where one embraces who one is just because this is how I happened to turn out!!! 🙂 ) more authentically and viscerally realized. It is as Kathryn says, regret only means that I acknowledge in myself the power to be better, the emotional stability to accept my fragility, and the desire to change and make past wrongs right.

Regret at will, I say! It is the healthy choice. And make no mistake, this too is a choice! 🙂

The Joy of Regret

More often than not people profess that one should not regret anything one has done because, after all, it got me to where I am now. And strangely even when ‘where one is now’ ain’t so great, bizarrely one draws inspiration from the idea that I would not be who I am were it not for everything that preceded, and I guess not profoundly embracing this notion is blasphemous dribble suggestive of self-annihilation. I don’t agree. I’m so totally with Kathryn.

Do you honestly believe that Biban Janković does not regret slamming his head against the goal post (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boban_Jankovi%C4%87) that caused his paralysis and premature death? What if the late Jyoti Singh (see India’s Daughter) could turn back the clock and not enter the bus from hell? Would she not have chosen to? You can be sure that Stanley Tookie Williams ((http://www.biography.com/people/stanley-tookie-williams-476676) regrets his delinquent ways! Indeed, it was his regret that moved him to change his ways, and though from a prison cell, inspire young hooligans on the fast track to a life of crime, to learn from his mistakes! Regret implies agency  – Kathryn is right about this, no? We cannot regret what we cannot change. I can’t regret being born into a world bent on (still lingering) patriarchal sentiments, any more than I can regret the vicious tragedy that befell the lovely Jyoti Singh. These events were not within my power to effect. But this is not the same as decisions made under my watch, as I surveyed my life. The premise is fallaciously employed retroactively to suggest that because I cannot change the past, and therefore have no control over altering events already transpired, that regret is a futile occupation. Of course, I did have agential authority over events that, despite the initial suggestion, one quite naturally evokes a sense of regret for (“Damn I wish I hadn’t eaten that 2nd piece of cake!” or “Shit, I wish I hadn’t betrayed my wife and pissed my family away!”) which is obviously not the case with regards to those events over which I never had (or could have had) such authority over. Still, many might argue that what is done is done. The past cannot be undone. I cannot claim (or be assigned) agential authority over that. True enough. Except for one thing. Regret is an emotionally charged response to a situation which is perceived to have been under one’s control to effect. This is why often cries of self-admonition – “I wish I hadn’t!!!!”- can be heard over and over again. Sometimes regrets linger and are replayed ad nauseam as one wrestles with the emotional overtures of events one could (often easily) have altered….but didn’t. Regret does not reflect one’s impotency to change the past, but one’s weakness, ignorance, idiocy, delusion, to have acted in a way that one now understands to have been under  (or could have been) one’s control to do otherwise. That’s why I don’t regret what is perceived to have been beyond my control to act otherwise (eg. under coercive threat).

And we do actually believe this. Regret is the moral backdrop (perhaps) of all organized human life where moral culpability plays a fundamental role in the assignment of blame and incurring punishments and penalties. We don’t send sociopaths to jail because they are deemed ill-fit and devoid of the moral sentiments from which a sense of moral culpability is drawn. The point is twofold: (i) Iff one is sound in mind, is one assigned moral culpability (eg. mentally challenged, temporary insanity, psychoses, etc.) ; and (ii) only in cases such as these does one recognize in oneself acts of wrong doing and the ensuing predictable (and I dare say, expected) feeling of regret! The corollary of this view is that such individuals (especially those suffering from psychoses) are beyond rehabilitation because they are beyond redemption. Herein lies the crux of the matter: regret charges one with both the responsibility and motivation to alter one’s ways. It says, in effect, I could have acted differently, if only I had known x, believed y, was willing to see or accept z, and/or had the courage to act accordingly. With foresight in my grasp, I can now tend to these shortcomings in self, and begin my journey towards my own transvaluation of values (well not quite as Nietzsche might have hoped, but perhaps Derek Vineyard’s existential plight in American History X offers some insight – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsPW6Fj3BUI) and the negotiation of self (so very unlike that more convenient idea with which this blog began where one embraces who one is just because this is how I happened to turn out!!! 🙂 ) more authentically and viscerally realized. It is as Kathryn says, regret only means that I acknowledge in myself the power to be better, the emotional stability to accept my fragility, and the desire to change and make past wrongs right.

Regret at will, I say! It is the healthy choice. And make no mistake, this too is a choice! 🙂

No Text Back!!!?????

e94b1011d24e2736c519f5a8bb757653What is Netiquette? Basically acceptable conduct on the net. Don’t get excited, I don’t have anything terribly deep or exciting to share. I’m not a fan of social media;  I’m also not one of those that simply advocates that the value of all things is entirely determined by use. Environments host structures of meaning which however elastic nonetheless are the oxygen in which all forms of engagement come to life! One thing in particular disturbs me regarding netiquette: texting. Like all forms of inter-human communication, texting is not immune to various inter-gender, inter-sexual, inter-political plays. So ya, as a young girl I recall how boys wouldn’t return calls right away in order to jack up their sense of self-worth and invariably put me – any girl – in her place! “Dude, wtf, don’t be such a douchebag,  there’s protocol!!! Call backs before the 3-day grace period make you a puts! She’ll think you’re desperate and that she’s worthless!!! And whatever you do, do not, I repeat DO NOT even acknowledge her at school. If you see her in the corridors, turn quickly away.  How else will she know how lucky she is to have your attention??!!!” At first dejected, girls soon learned how to read silent gestures and boys soon learned to follow standardized plays. We learned early on not to ever say what we mean, and to be “clear” in our overt indifference. It’s truly a miracle people ever get together at all!

Texting has just exacerbated the ridiculous! Bling, bling!!! Noises familiar to anyone with a phone these days! Bling, bling! Hey you have friends! (as my daughter mockingly likes to say!) Email? Text? A notification? Whatever it is, you’ve been notified!! So that means when I send an email or text, unless you find yourself in Bermuda-wifi Triangle, any delay in response must be owned to time-management of sorts. Essentially, the recipient goes through a process at lightning speed, and delegates your importance cross-checked against all other notifications and whatever (if ever) s/he is doing at the moment. It essentially tells you how important you are to that person, or at least how important they conceive themselves to be in deference to you. Some of us will only occupy enough importance to keep one “company” sitting on the can, waiting for their dental appointment, or in temporary partner-absentia (as when they’ve gone to the can…hahahaha). Others aren’t so lucky, and find themselves lost in cyberspace or lockdown! I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic!

Somehow I’ve never felt empowered by making people wait. I relish not casting others into the land of oblivion. Lapses are suspended moments occupied by silence, the gravity of which are as palpable (often more) an experience of derision as the most caustic of words (it is actually a very distinct kind of derision). I’m not suggesting that all communications are created equal – I’d hope my family and lover would as a rule be motivated to get to me first – but that’s just the point, right? Immediacy suggests care: it says, you matter to me. It says you matter. I’m not oblivious to these plays – not by a long shot – but I don’t care enough to permit it to define my level of engagement. Who the hell decided these damn protocols anyway? 3 days not 2 or 1 day? WTF??!! I don’t feel more enticed by rejection; only bored and literally dis-engaged…so, ya….BORED!

Stranger, newbie, student, acquaintance, colleague, inquisitor? They all get a response from me! And all with equal care (time-permitting, of course) and consideration of their existential import. So yes, text me and I will as a rule respond as immediately as life circumstances permit. Clearly such scenarios are ever more comically and disturbingly realized amongst those with whom you share intimate historical ties – ach, existential anomie overwhelms…until boredom sets in! Until then I remain deliriously amused!

In Loving Protest!

images-1This is a sequel entry to my Soulless Faces: An Exercise in Self-Criticism. That original monologue entered the public arena, not unwittingly I might add, in an effort to simultaneously negotiate a crisis of identity brought on by my experience with Facebook, that would at the same time create a public space for its appropriation, itself not susceptible to potential virtual contaminants. Not all social media are created equal!

Now some may protest that it’s not the fault of Facebook that I came away feeling so existentially compromised for we are autonomous beings with the freedom to choose which comes with responsibility. So it’s no good blaming anyone but myself. In part I agree. But I’m no Kantian when it comes to morality. Autonomy is not found in a vacuum, nor is it built on sand; autonomy is always relational. It is acquired within an acknowledged field of intrusion, over-against, or at least with or amongst others in the world. So we always choose within a playing field and I have the sense that I, and perhaps many others, inadvertently superimposed the field of actual life onto this virtual life. I find it is akin to engaging that anonymous bartender, or taxi driver where you imagine a protective shield of silence to vent and share your inner most concerns, and walk away feeling completely understood. And yet, like any confessional space it relies on anonymity, and so when you return to your “anonymous” bartender and book a ride with your “anonymous” taxi driver, you come to see a “friend”. “Friends” on Facebook are sometimes that “anonymous” taxi driver. Friends, however, are those people that are part of your life; they don’t just drop in and leave on a whim. Life plans are built around these people, decisions include and impact their lives, your direction is routed and re-routed to accommodate them because they’re not just venting or confessional partners. Intimacy is built not simply on sharing private information – it is in being intimate through everyday engagement. Intimacy is tied up in the understanding of oneself as authentic. Sartre argues that inter-human relations are inherently frustrating and with that I would not disagree, albeit for semi non-Satrean reasons. Authenticity is not found in some ultra-earthly zone or dimension. It is not discovered when you peel away all that has been acquired, as if the self is a fruit with some delectable pit at its core. Authenticity is not gained in a moment and held for eternity. Though some have gained eternity felt in a moment! 😉 It is a constant process that motions towards unsettling oneself, tearing away from all that has nestled up close which designates that place of comfort in which one feels most welcome or “at home”.

How are inter-human relations authenticated then? I don’t know. That’s the shorthand answer. The longhand answer is, maybe I have a sense of what doesn’t. If we begin with the understanding that self-understanding is fashioned upon discovering oneself in context and is constantly on-its-way, then ossifying, sterile, unilateral relations are the enemy. Congenial (Face)friends, often our anonymous bartender, are not our friends. Authentic inter-human relations are confrontational, they are disruptive, awakening oneself to stagnation, and opportune self-transformation. Friends can sometimes mouth our unspoken words, caress our fragile egos and some of us could hibernate there for a lifetime. Does it get any better than this? Hahahahaha  The pleasantries of congeniality sometimes bare teeth, often with the over-indulgent (Facebook)users, who open their “bedrooms” blinds, eager to share what in one’s actual or real life would remain private, so that when “cartoonized” or caricatured, they are left feeling trampled, their egos compromised, and angered at being misunderstood. And yet, I would contend that neither of these polar relations are inherently in-authenticating (well I’m still on the fence regarding the latter scenario…but that for another blog, on another day). There is nothing inherently compromising about friends being kind, supportive, and agreeable. The problem lies elsewhere. For these friends are one-dimensional, if you will. They are only ever experienced on your flat screen, and engagement is often more imaginary than real. For those that know you not in your real, invested, multi-layered, historicity can speak a kindness in earnest response to a fragmentary moment, or in virtual tongue, to a Facebook post, but it is one’s own mistake to presume a residing friendship. So that when many of the same friends make judgment on the presumption of friendship, and hence on the presumption of “knowing” oneself, existential anguish can overwhelm. I doubt that Nietzsche would have anything but disdain for those who walk away from such platforms when public scrutiny borders on abusive; misplaced blame comes to mind. But empowerment and riding on the momentum of self-appropriation also does not invite swimming in a cesspool of invasive and presumptive characterizations either. 🙂

Still this social space is in the imagination of many more real than their actual lives; or rather, their actual lives become more meaningfully lived with the facade of public interest. We’ve cooked a lovely meal for just the two of us…but wait…click the pause button …let’s take a picture. Place the plates just so, angle the light, conjure a clever line, upload…okay we’re good…press pause again to resume your life. Hey, how ’bout a quiet evening at home..but we’ll let every know, right?….they’re waiting…quick, stop your fidgeting, sit still, comb your hair, look casual…good….there…click…upload. Out on the town….my friends will want to know where I am…check-in….hey wait, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m all alone…tag friends…phew…good….persona in tact, now let’s get on with the festivities. Home alone? That won’t do. Snap…clever line….see I’m never really alone. Damn look at all those likes!!!! Let’s mix things up a bit. A pic with my dog; my cat; my fish, Martha, walking; running; skipping; cycling; skiing; swimming; in (casual 😉 ) loving embrace; on the phone…computer…the can (dude, really!!!!??), sleeping!! Hey, say what?! See what a full, varied, interesting life I have!!!?? Secretly I wonder who is ever around with the patience to snap all of these uneventful events?!! A, the mysteries of life! Perhaps these are those greater mysteries of life people are always haggling over! Still, not all social media are created equal – compare the anonymity of Twitter, and G+ (though again these platforms are distinct in important ways) – I’ll give you that; but then not all users are created equal either. To say that everyone is equally vulnerable to this addiction is no different than saying everyone is equally vulnerable to alcoholism, gambling and drug addiction. Certain personality-types, life circumstance, not to mention issues of self-appropriation and conceptual frameworks make all the difference – point is, this needs to be negotiated. (Disclaimer: it would be disingenuous to disavowal any truth to these mysterious illustrations, but that is not to say this fragmented extraction of such moments could not with equal zeal be applied to any one of my pics and posts; the point being, as this blog intends, that we are more than our social media parts. So, though amused (as I often am with myself, especially when I am the object of my own criticisms), these are nothing more than caricatures of possible hidden truth. Chill! 🙂 )

Facebook friends march to their own drummer, and it is in learning to keep in step that these relations can be appropriately negotiated. I have found my rhythm, and my Facebook place amongst Facebook friends and those blended relations that move between real and virtual worlds. Mostly, I have learned to leave my real friendships at the virtual door. Which is not to say that some of my friends are not my friends but that nothing is rehearsed on this platform that does not belong on this virtual stage. It is my sense that those out-of-step will relegate their indulgent tendencies to platforms such as Twitter, G+, Instagram and more, leaving a trail, now within a confessional space explicitly anonymous, with the hopes of evading their cartoonized personas and existential anguish, if only because their friends and their friends shall remain silent. I have found a place amongst my Facebook friends but have nonetheless opted out of its use, and long held a tiny niche for virtual (double entendre….hehehehe) engagement on Twitter, but it is with acknowledged risk that I do so. 🙂

Disclaimer: Some of my Facebook friends have come to be wonderful friends to me – they stood by me in times of peril (you know who you are); and some friends lost in the vortex of their virtual lives vanished without a trace. This just to say that the technology of self has become an increasing complex affair and this brief exposé is nothing more than a personal anecdote that some may find insightful.

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