Source and Filter

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The words began as air. As all words. The air was cold and crisp and slightly heavy with an imminent rain and a foreboding though the foreboding was separate from the imminent rain. Who knows how to measure foreboding. It is like the proverbial obscenity. You know it when you see it. Or feel it. Such was this air, foreboding. From this air came the words. The same air had been a billion billion words before. Sometimes the same words, sometimes the opposite words, sometimes in languages long and forgotten. This is what we mean by time, atoms of air carrying one word and then another.

The air fell into her lungs as the pressure fell. Something here about Bernoulli. Before air can become speech it must first restore the blood. She exhaled into her larynx, closing her vocal cords, and began that ancient noise, the sound of a buzzing throat, the call of our species, the music that has altered the course of history each time it has been summoned, flapping vocal folds in the airstream of our tracheas like flags in the wind, beating, proclaiming, staking ground. The Promethean vowel. Aaaaah. And then she molded it, carefully, her tongue, her lips, her teeth, her cheeks, hard and soft palates, muscles of the face and the neck. Like clay in the hands was this 300hz buzz in her face as she shaped it into sets of meaningful signals. A million little movements. A holy ritual. This is what we mean by time, to participate in this as humans have done and always will do. We pray to gods when we ought to pray to the act of prayer, for it is our true god.

What she said was: No I will not go.


On Television

March 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have not owned nor watched a television since I was sixteen years old. Sure, I’ve watched a few shows on Netflix that have been recommended to me, but I haven’t had the opportunity to flip, to surf, which is really the sine qua non of “watching television,” for more than a decade.

Until three weeks ago.

I’m living in a dorm room in a very rural part of Oregon for a while, and the university outfitted the room I’m in with a flat screen television. Now, it isn’t that I’m really opposed to television on ideological grounds. God knows I’ve wasted my time and mind away on lesser things. And a lot of TV shows I’ve seen have been really quite awesome. I just haven’t really felt compelled to own one because I’ve convinced myself I have so many other better, more important things to do, like staring aimlessly out of windows feeling sorry for myself. But now I’ve stumbled into one. And feeling pretty bored, lonely, and in the middle of the high desert in the middle of winter without a friend to my name, I have admittedly embraced this curious machine.

It having been some time since I had access to regular channel surfing, I have noticed the following things about television programming:

1. For some reason, there is movie with Vin Diesel in it, on some channel, at all hours of the day. I didn’t think he was in that many movies, honestly. Maybe this is something about licensing. It’s very strange. Bill Murray is almost always on television at all times, but Mr. Diesel actually is. This is too bad, really.
2. There is, on some channel, always an episode of this show 30 Rock, which is actually a pretty funny show. That it is always on on some channel is an odd sort of comfort, which is a little discomforting.
3. Crime shows and reality shows about people and their jobs are everywhere all the time. Half of television seems to be programs about forensic something or other or programs about people who buy storage lockers at auctions or exterminate vermin or make guns or chop down trees. Slightly romanticized death and work – I guess that makes sense, in a way. Next season I expect to see: John Anderson, CPA.
4. Television news is like watching anime on acid but it’s all actually very serious and real. It makes me almost seize. I much prefer to read about genocide and death and privilege in plain black ink on white paper, because it’s much more palatable that way. I flip passed MSNBC and feel I need a benzo.
5. It is so very addictive. How does anyone read with this thing looming in the background? It’s like a giant piece of pie. You know it’s not very good for you, you know should eat some kale instead, but there it is, beckoning, whispering to you to just pick up the remote, just for 15 minutes, just to see what’s on…
6. The people on the TV won’t respond to you when you invite them out for a beer after the show.
7. Commercials are terrifying. They make me feel either horribly inadequate, terribly in need, or on the verge of certain death.
8. Some television makes me feel like I’m not doing so bad. The other day I saw a show about a girl who was addicted to drinking gasoline. Some television shows make me feel like I’m failing miserably, like that show with the 27 year old friends that live in a 3,000 sq ft Manhattan apartment and drink scotch all night and take cabs everywhere.
9. TV has such potential, but instead of broadcasting the future-defining healthcare bill proceedings, we get some show where people have singing battles and everyone is taking it very seriously. Who am I kidding, though; I’d watch that over the supreme court any day.
10. What happened to live surgeries on TV? I miss that.

Peregrinations, sort of.

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am moving back to Portland. My cabin time is over. I feel it. I gotta get outta here. I had no exit plan when I decided it was time to pull a Thoreau. I just figured I would do it until I didn’t want to anymore. And I don’t want to do it anymore. Honestly, I thought I’d last longer. But I cannot. And so in a little over a week, I’ll hit I-94 and back to beautiful, wonderful Portland, land of beer and music and mountains and good people, I will go.

I have learned many things in the four months I’ve lived along in the woods. Here are some:

  1. People and their presence are very important. Any people, not just people you care about – because when there are no people, you care about everyone you meet. I have learned that there is a degree of recognition of the despair that is human life that we all face, and indeed a little relief from it, even in the must mundane and superficial of human interactions. Telling the cashier I have found everything okay today now feels as though we are saying to each other, “Yes, we are here. Yes, we understand. I found this okay, but the rest ain’t so easy, huh?”

  1. Balance is critical in all things. When you have all day to write, you will not write. When you have only two hours to write, you will cherish those hours and use them wisely.

  2. Even with the best of intentions, left to your own devices you will wither. You are not a good enough reason onto yourself to accomplish many things, such as waking at reasonable hours, showering regularly, shaving, not finishing off the bottle of scotch, at least after a certain number of months.

  3. The leisure of time and mental freedom to think endlessly and without purpose is a form of paralysis and is a curse.

  4. To go days and days without laughing out loud is not just sad, it is dangerous.

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