Being cool: the act of turning one's own fears into someone else's insecurities.

Edit: Or is it the other way around? Insecurities into someone else's fears?

Never mind the champagne and the tuxedo; I want to wander the streets of a New England town reeking of patchouli, stopping only to fall to my knees and whisper acid-drenched profundities to squirrels, at twilight, on the first warm day of the year.

SOS PT 2 or 300

On from this...

Oh man, I want a tuxedo, bowtie undone in a deliberate, calculated act of indifference, a belly full of champagne, and some empty streets.

How have I only heard this album for the first time recently (except for "Slave...", obviously)? Oops.


Uh Oh Nostalgia

(none of the ideas below are particularly innovative but I am writing them down anyways)

Um. I think I like the 1990s again.

Does this mean I get to spend the next 40-50 years thinking about my teenage years? I hope not. Ugh.

It's maybe that, I dunno, there's something too subtle and self-conscious about most of the music I am hearing today. And also, I think, depression, angst, frustration, still not absent from my life (as if it ever is entirely for anyone). Most electronic music seems to be made by and for cool kids these days, outside of the small contingent of the young and alienated kids in the UK that keep ye olde 'nuum scraping by. 

This is not to say that I care about guitars again, or disown electronics, or anything like that. It's more like, hey, sliding into middle-age, I still find myself up at 5am wishing I had whiskey to go with my cigarettes. So, suddenly, I really like Alice In Chains, even though I didn't actually care for them when I was a pre-teen/teenager.

There's a lot to be angry about in this world, even beyond my personal life. Outside of whatever bands kids who shop at Hot Topic listen to, a smattering of more honest rappers, and, maybe, some decent metal bands, I don't really get the sense that anyone is speaking to that anger at all. And even amongst those who do, well, on the one hand, yeah, maybe I am too "cool" taste-wise, though not as an actual person, to ever love, like, emo or whatever, but, then again, the problem I think most music, "cool" or cool or not or not, seems to suffer from is, at least for me, an exhaustive sense of stylization. Maybe I've said this already, but I feel like we have reached peak mediation.

Probably I'm borrowing from Baudrillard or Debord or someone, but. What I mean by peak mediation is simple and really, profoundly depressing. If all media (records, books, film, TV, etc.) was, at some point, a document of some pre-existing reality or culture or whatever, well, what it feels like to me to listen to music now, well, I feel like I am listening to an attempt to recreate a document. A depiction of a depiction. What was it, the "precession of simulacra" or something like that? 

I dunno.

Why aren't the kids angry?

Let's just say that health is the new conformity and leave it at that.

Or not. Self-help, therapy, medication, self-actualization, advice, advice, advice. The necessary distance from emotions that allows us to "understand" them. Progress, but somehow scary, too. Self-mastery, not imposed by external force but by what may be lost by not achieving it (does Facebook mimic the real world or vice-versa?). Exhausting "normativity". Additional hypothesis: the precession of simulacra applies to people too. I can't prove it, not only because it is unprovable, but also, because, well, I am too alienated to be objective. Pathetic. Or not.

Really, what's particularly wrong with being alienated from this world at this time?* 

Which is why, again, Alice In Chains. 

*It's sort of annoying, I'll admit, to be in this situation at this age. More than annoying, actually. But the triumph of psychology, unfortunately, doesn't seem to understand the difference between a principled rejection of society and unfitness to live within it. A product of the psychological society, neither do I, on some days.


Pointless aside:
The 1990s weren't very good clothing-wise were they? Times are better now, though boring. I feel like we could all get away with a nice pair of jeans and a stylish hooded sweatshirt for another 1,000 years. Nobody is ever going to look like Prince and the Revolution in 1984 ever again, will they?

Even Primus seems angsty now. Jeez.


At least I have you to talk to

Or so I think.

Listen, I mean, you remember this story.

It's: why do I insist on repeating it.

You've seen the results, or at least the polite version.


She's beautiful, suffering.

My hands still smell of her perfume but not her lips.

Maybe you hate Houllebecq, and maybe rightly-so, but, 

we'll get to that.

Having an alcoholic for a mom really makes it hard for me to be a "man". To see suffering as a prelude to ejaculation.

There is a beautiful girl. Another smart one. 

Who has done more drugs in the last 24 hours than I have in my entire life. 

I gave in a little tonight. I smoked weed. Turned down the cocaine and the Klonopin.

I just came back from her apartment. 

Nothing happened between us. Well, actually, not quite. 

My emotions towards her deepened, concurrent with my anger at repeating the same mistakes.


her sadness 

well, it makes me care for her more, even while. 

I mean, I think, 
she wants me to fuck her, and 

I want to fuck her, but, 
somehow, not like this. 

Not as her eyelids grow more heavy with the weight of life,
not as the Utopia of sleep, of dreams, is falling upon her forehead

gentle caress.

She played a song for me tonight, on her guitar, and, 

inside of her is. 

The stupor of nihilistic resignation vanquished by the slight furrow of a brow focused on the task of salvation. 

As long as I want to run a thumb along her jaw, collecting the scent of her hair into the ever-increasing wrinkles of my skin, 
I am fucked, but not her.

I am a man after all, one who wants to take her from behind as she screams,
facing the abyss,
and yet,
I don't want to take the "her" she believes herself to be, the "her" of her self-hatred;
I want to take the "her" from which she is in flight.

I've always been the observer in the lives of those lost. 
Lost, myself, I am,
and yet. 

I am not. 

I know what I want, and I know that what I want is wrong.

I feel totally stuck: too normal to succor the lost, too moral to aid in misdirection, too strange to ever feel comfortable amongst those
whose sails have never been blown by

Houellebecq has said that tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction.
And so I am fucked more than I fuck.
If I had asked nothing of her, demanded nothing more than no resistance to fingers ripping apart the machine-made eroticism of that which protects the salient, the cosmic, the unrepeatable orifice, then it would be done, long ago. And that is all she wants.

It's me, it's my fault. Or maybe.

It's not that I am, somehow, insufficient.

It's just that,
more than her body,
more than litany of unexplored angles to navigate,
the tastes to master,
the nerves underneath

I want her soul. 

I want to fuck her into a new ontology. If I can't, I won't.

I can't, so I won't.

This is all I know of love.


The Big Meh

(this is the first piece I have written in a long time that may actually deserve an editor but who? and where would a I submit anyways? and who would publish?)

I'm starting to resent my alienation from mainstream political discourse almost more than I believe I am justified in feeling alienated by mainstream political discourse. Boring, this desire to throw rocks at television screens I don't own. Maybe I should. That would be an adventure, though probably a painful one.

Stupidly, I continue to hold on to the idea that there should be more to human existence than the challenge of achieving a sedate, middle-class life. Not that I am necessarily against marriage, or having children, or having a nice house with a nice backyard and maybe a sofa in front of a TV or whatever, but I can't help but feel that the pursuit of these pleasures, and their contingency as social "goods", allows myself, and certainly others, to evade a much more substantial question than "how best are these pleasures achieved?": fundamentally, what is humanity's dream at this point ( especially for those of us in the West who are not religious)? Of course, I don't really expect a politician to answer that question, to even ask that question, and yet, I can't help feeling that there is no moving on, no real notions of "progress" without an ability to re-imbue humanity with the special sense of purpose that religion used to provide. 

As far as I can tell, our purpose as a nation, at best, at least according to the most "visionary" of those politicians seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, is to include as many people into this aforementioned vision of middle-class life as possible, which is why I found nothing to believe in while watching this evening's debates.

Perhaps one of the best essays I have read to address these concerns is, amusingly enough, not found on an obscure blog somewhere, nor in the published works of some social theorist or philosopher, but rather in the introduction to the music critic Ian MacDonald's book on The Beatles, Revolution in the Head. I won't attempt to summarize all of the insights contained in the essay, but I do want to at least offer a pertinent idea. According to MacDonald, the true revolutionaries of the 1960s were not the hippies nor the New Left, but rather, simply put, "ordinary people". To MacDonald, the revolution  in question was the throwing off of all the shackles of institutional demands, especially those of the church, to pursue a life of selfish materialism totally divorced from the cultural commons, a life suddenly available to millions after the modernization of production caused by World War II and the surplus of productive capacity now necessarily put to different use. 

In the context of MacDonald's argument, which can be read here, and which I find convincing, though incomplete (the author, British, underestimated the rise of the religious right in America), what passed for political debate this evening was, actually, profoundly anti-political. Rather than politics or government or a nation being called upon to achieve some profound feat that expands boundaries and notions of what it is to be human, what it is to live and to have a life (individual, social, national, global), rather, the usual and unusual, new and old, bugbears are brought forth as a list of reasons as to why those want to pursue a life dedicated to the pursuit of their own pleasure are unable to do so. Wether it's Wall Street or guns or racism or Iran, any issue raised is merely seen in context as something that prevents us from achieving the simultaneously modest yet profoundly nihilistic dream of simply not caring about anyone else and living our own lives.

I am eagerly awaiting, and expect I will be waiting a few more years at least, Rick Perlstein's sequel to The Invisible Bridge, the third in his series of books covering the rise of the post-Goldwater right in America, but I already feel as if I have a premonition of the symbolic value of Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980, a topic I expect he will cover in his next book. More than a culmination of the demographic realignment of voter/party affiliations started during Lyndon Johnson's time in the Oval Office, a realignment hastened by Nixon and the tumultuous 1968 election, Reagan's true victory was his seemingly-permanent codification of the present language of national politics. After Reagan, there is no questioning of middle class values, no possibility of imagining a different world.

And so we get Bernie Sanders' tiresome fulminations against Wall Street, whose penchant for greed (or inevitable search for profit, necessary for the perpetuation of capitalism), is now only problematic because that search for profit has no longer yielded positive changes in the material conditions of the middle class (and there are probably structural and inevitable reasons for this, impossible to understand without explaining that globalization, and its attendant wars, may have been an attempt to extend American middle-class prosperity, not undermine it). We get arguments about gun control that, at best, mention mental illness, but, of course, never call into question what may lead to this illness, the empty a-spirituality of middle-class life, the relentless competition and conformity and dark hatreds that lie just under the surface of middle-class normalcy. We get the same platitudes about supporting our troops while not supporting war that evade both the enormous class difference between those who serve and those who are served, and the responsibility that, you guessed it, the middle class of the United States will never bear for the fact that, due to their votes, we fought these "wrong" wars in the first place. We get conversations about extending free college education to all Americans without taking into account that, amongst the middle class, a BA is now common enough to force many looking for economic stability to take on more debt to pursue Masters degrees, and that even more BA holders entering the workforce will force even more people to do the same. 

As for the environment, the most important issue, the discussion of which was instigated by a question from a voter, not by any of the moderators, this issue was handled the same way it always is: technology will fix it, you don't have to live differently. As wages have been, basically, stagnant since the 1970s, the entire expansion of the American economy has been based on people taking on debts to buy things they don't need. If people were to stop buying things they didn't need (and taking on debts to do it), the economy would collapse (and 2008 can be seen as the limit to the debt-financed phase of middle-class expansion). How, exactly, can this be reconciled with any (last-ditch) attempt to "save the planet"?

During the debate, the following question was asked "what is the biggest national security threat to the United States"? Sitting in a room with a few friends, I answered "the American middle class". My answer is easy to caricature, the flatulence of a disillusioned, self-hating, middle-class American Leftist. And yet, taking into account the answers given by the candidates this evening: we're in the Middle East to perpetuate middle-class life. We trade with China to perpetuate middle-class life, and our environment is a wreck because of middle-class life. Iraq is a mess: we went there out of middle-class fear and left because of middle-class impatience. 

(perhaps a good paragraph is needed here to provide a better set-up for the below)

My fellow Americans, we are not the ones we have been waiting for. I'm not sure we've even been waiting.


"Being Smart"

According to all of the standardized tests I took when I was a kid, I am amongst the smartest of all humans extant. I am in the 99th percentile. Which means, actually, nothing, as there are thousands upon thousands of people at least as intelligent as I.


Voice of authority.

Dear masses, if you are looking to me for guidance, I am glad to share my wisdom for you. After years of deep thought, after decades of self-examination, after torrents of self-doubt, after applying the most precise scalpel to all the joys and pains of human existence in order to directly contemplate them fully, here is what I have to offer:

Bourbon is delicious all by itself; no need to add a soda of any kind. I will admit that, sometimes, I need to add a bit of water or frozen water, also known as ice, to bourbon, to make it more palatable, and so I am, therefore, sympathetic to those of you who feel the same, but I must state, unequivocally, that adding anything to bourbon that changes the inherent flavor, as opposed to merely diluting said flavor, is inadvisable.

Also, capitalism will end. Sadly, for those of you on the Left who want to actually feel validated in your beliefs, capitalism will not end due to deliberate acts of moral depth. Rather, it will end so gradually as to prevent anyone for taking credit for its termination. The upside, of course, is that billions of future inhabitants of Earth will be saved from the suffering we all now feel so deeply in our hearts. The bad news, if it can be described as bad news at all, is that those of us whose sense of identity and purpose here on Earth is derived from "being smart" will never get any credit or social validation for being correct when it comes to our oppositional attitudes towards capitalism and the social formations that derive from this particular (and peculiar) form of economic and social organization. 

It's tough, I know. You are just going to have to find another way of getting laid. As smart as I am, I can't tell you how. Even I don't know.


Same Old Shit

I would wait for you, if only I knew what I was waiting for.

;-P in desiring another lost soul shocker.

I think what I hate most about Providence, really, the only thing I hate, is that the city is simply not beautiful enough, large enough, to provide the correct ambience for my failures. I am a critic AND victim of mediation.

If your most profound means of self-expression is wandering, lonely, to the sound of the Blue Nile, then the city that enfolds you must aspire to the same grandeur. Surely.


Dark Laughter

Cynicism is the armor of a wounded heart, and my armor is getting stronger.

Here are two things that made me "laugh" today.


"Over on the House side of the Capitol, feisty Bella Abzug of New York, eyeing a run against Senator James Buckley in 1976, publicized two government surveillance projects, code-named 'SHAMROCK' and 'MINARET,' run by a government bureau that was so secret most Americans didn't know it existed.... (The National Security Agency) had also, Abzug revealed, been monitoring both the phone calls and telegrams of American citizens for decades... (Subpoenaed private-sector executives) admitted their companies had voluntarily been turning over records and cables to the government at the end of every single day for more than forty years... Appearing in uniform, (NSA director) Lieutenant General Lew Allen Jr. obediently disclosed that his agency's spying on Americans was far vaster than what had (previously) been revealed... He admitted that it was, technically, illegal and had been carried out without specific approval from any president... He added that thanks to such surveillance, 'we are aware that a major terrorist attack in the United States was prevented'. He refused to give further details (on the thwarted attack)."

- Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge

Um, two.