Empty Days

Friday, July 30, 2004



Ph of life.

Of course I am talking about my life - the purposeless disconnected sort of life. When you are involved in all sorts of human things, everything gets out of proportion very quickly. There are huge passions, losses, worries, cravings, fears. I have my share of all that but on a very diminished scale. I do worry a lot for trifles but at the same time I know it's all one big bundle of dung.

Falling in love is a pretty bad experience, as far as I can recall (haha). It's something like a huge exercise in neediness - all your lacks come to the fore and you find yourself expecting solution, restitution and salvation from that one human. Which is of course a pretty crazy idea, but love is like that - it's a great crazy hope.

*

I could never understand how it is people actually get to believe some slogans like "Jesus loves you" - and a great many people do, what's more. I don't understand how that works in their heads: imaging somebody invisible and powerful who personally loves them very much. Do they all have some sort of mystic experience of that supposed love-from-above? I doubt it. Most people actually believe slogans, without any sort of inner experience to back it up. There is a lot of imagination that goes into this sort of belief and in the end it is probably based on a pretty deep need for being loved - something most of us have such a hard time getting from others for real.

But I can't even imagine how this need could be so deep that it would make people fabulate that way. Another explanation would be that the force of religious community, wholesale acceptance on condition of believing some such slogans, is a pretty powerful motive. People actually mistake being "taken into the fold" of purely human community (ecclesia) for the love of god no less. It's true that the power of unity is something to count with - but I still don't understand how you can mistake that for anything else :-0

I suppose it takes some falling out of that "fold" to understand that there was never any "love of god" but simply a very deep and warm feeling of belonging explained in certain religious terms. These concepts disappear as useless on a desert island - they just don't work that way.

*

What other human passions beside love are there? Well, ambition for one. But for ambition to exist and make sense you need some mountain to climb - human society is made in the shape of a mountain and offers all the difficulties needed for a good hardy climb. Ambition is another name for fame, in any case. You can be "famous" inside your own small circle of friends and foes. I've known a guy who made it his goal to read the entire encyclopedia cover to cover. What for? Well, to impress people - a lot of knowledge is always impressive. He'd likely deny such a "base" motive, but the whole concept of "remarkable people" is very appealing for that reason.

Clearly, ambition will wane very quickly on the desert island - you'd burn that encyclopedia soon enough and wonder what bit you to be so enamored with all that pile of facts. Most of the knowledge we tumble around is fundamentally useless and is accumulated "for profit" - in small-time impressiveness rather than any sort of personal thought or what not. By "useless" I mostly mean fundamentally disconnected from what and how life is. Theories are perhaps helpful for engineering but not for living life and getting to find out what it's really about for you who live it - because, strangely enough, it's never a really settled and obvious fact for any of us mortals.

*

Life is made up of every-day inanities, not of grand theories, religions and all that claptrap. I can be a buddhist today and a christian mystic tomorrow and a vague pantheist the day after and an atheist on sundays. None of these explanations are either sufficient or exhaustive or even remotely applicable to my every-day experience. I frankly do not understand how many people live and what they believe in and why - and, frankly, I don't think I am supposed to understand everything.

There are certain basic realities that are pretty matter-of-fact: like when somebody punches you in the face, you either run or you punch back, and then you either feel ok about it or are all tortured and offended. That's all those grand theories come down to. You will believe in the power of evil when you get in any serious contact with some real bad human nastiness; and you will be able to ignore either good or evil as long as you get to experience only natural disasters. Comfort and security are foremost preconditions for high-mindedness - I know that my philosophy of life is entirely predicated on the rather narrow range of my experience: I haven't been seriously wronged and mangled in my lifetime.

*

One thing I now know for sure is that I will never - and I mean *never* - get to understand what life really is. Life and death, and all that. I will die entirely in the dark and unresolved. And that makes me laugh. It makes me giddy to think of this. Because this little impossibility essentially invalidates all knowledge, all learning, all so-called wisdom, all grand ideas and rigid principles - which are all nothing but a huge and useless violation of the human mind.

There is nothing to understand - how wonderful.

*

The obvious consequence - or cause - of this is that I conceive of life as essentially purposeless. That too makes me giddy because in that case there is no need to bash my head against all those innumerable walls in pursuit of some indisputable objective. What might such an objective be? Haha. Whatever works out in the end will be just fine with me.

With all this I am of course reduced to live from day to day, with a microscopic view of every day's happenings, because everything beyond that just doesn't make sense. I worry about a lot of trifles and live from small bit of experience to another small bit of experience - with all the little bites in the ass from various nasty insects that this entails. My life is not a drama - it's a joke. Just enough by me.

*

I also know by now that I will never be able to get rid of all the worries and various sufferings I get to experience from being alive. Whatever the conditions, whatever I do, I'll always have to deal with those one way or another. I'll always be somewhat powerless against various things. But my main suffering has been the inability to deal with myself - I think that can still be overcome to some extent.

*

And now I have to go get some smokes. To be continued ad infinitum, I guess.




Life is made up of inanities - tragedies and triumphs need inventing.




My home as an insect nest.

Throughout summer I leave all windows open without mosquito netting, which causes some mosquito bites in the evening and various insects visiting during the day. I also never do any general household cleaning which means that there is plenty of dust and a lot of nooks and cranies where human hand has never reached.

With all this, I just discovered that a certain flying ant (well, it's probably something else - big, dark navy blue, with wings and a sting in the ass, quite an elegant shiny fellow) decided to build a mud-nest on some high shelf around the kitchen window. I've noticed frequent visits by this particular flying insect but I thought it was accidental or looking for food, like common flies and wasps do. Well, the mud-mound it built is pretty impressive: it looks all the way like an ant-heap with only one big hole for an entrance and it's cubic, something like 2 x 2 inch. Today I noticed that it was carrying a huge piece of some material, probably food, that it delivered on the shelf and went out of the window - it is now familiar with how the window is open, so it doesn't bump against it as often trying to fly out. So I pulled a chair to look why it left food on the shelf - and there I discovered the mud-heap: it hid the food in the nest.

I loved the sight of it. In fact it made me think of swallow-nests in southern villages. There are no fucking swallows here, so I have to do with a flying ant instead.

If I lived in the country, my home would be an even bigger mess and I would probably love it even more that way. Oh well.

***

Today is a fine day. The carwash stopped operating, the gook is nowhere to be seen and instead of four cars there is only one parked under my balcony, the new janitor is not doing any lawn mowing on that side of the building so there is tall grass and weed growing everywhere - peace and beauty.

I should bless my life at this stage.

And what's more nobody has yet rented the flat upstairs - hopefully it will stay that way throughout august, though I am not counting on it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004



Strange day.

I can't explain it - everybody I met was nice to me today. Scores of total strangers went out of their way to act nice. Why? On other days it's exactly the opposite - and I don't feel I was especially upbeat or beaming this time.

It's just one of those things - no reason.

***

The illegal carwash in the driveway is in full operation. I sort of hoped I was being paranoid about it - unfortunately it's real. I much prefer being paranoid about things, because then there is a chance they won't turn out true. I suppose I should have bought a brush to paint the slogan on their garage door. Well, I'll buy it tomorrow. It's gonna be another guerrila operation - in the silence of the night and all that shit.

The alternative is simple and that's the one everybody usually chooses: just live with it, whatever it is, just live with it. Sometimes it makes sense, because there's absolutely nothing you could do, but other times... something can and should be done. Even if it's slightly crazy. But at least it can be done.

It's been my experience that if you don't do it, you'll regret it.

***

Couldn't find affordable shoes. Spotted some good sneakers but they didn't have my size. The usual story. I am taking it easy because in any case it's largely a matter of chance rather than effort - I could spend days looking for stuff and not finding any, and then one fine day I just walk in somewhere and I see exactly what I need. I can't explain it.

Of course, the alternative is just to find suitable shoes and pay whatever price. It doesn't work for people like myself, since I don't have illimited cash supply and all that. And never will, what's more.

***

I've been lazily reading through Erich Fromm's "Escape from Freedom". It's a strange read - he applies some sort of marxist analysis to history and then spices it up with psychology. He loves theorizing - I can understand why he likes Marx so much, the man was a great theory-maker. But after all the analyzing and theorizing the world comes out flat and somewhat idiotic - all great theorists are probably idiots at heart, otherwise they'd quit trying to explain everything as if it were nothing but a math equation.

I once participated in some psychology forum and some recent psychology graduates were saying that human beings are so similar and predictable that it's practically boring. That's what psychology achieves: it paints a picture of humanity that is indeed as flat and obvious as a blue-print - there are no mysteries there, everything is conditioned and drawn out in advance. Seen through theory life appears as a sort of obsessive idiocy - it is boring, I absolutely agree with that assesment. It's also boring to try to "straighten out" people into being as flat and comforming to the blue-print as possible. People themselves pursue boring goals - getting totally neurotic over not being able to reach them - yet not stopping once to think that maybe those goals are not even real.

Yes indeed, life can be made into the most boring thing on earth, requiring extremely boring and repetitive solutions. Messing with psychology doesn't solve the boredom - it makes it worse.

***

Ok, strange happening: I went out to check on my cat and what do I see in the carwashing driveway? I see an imposing white guy with a notepad discussing vigorously with a bunch of philippinoes who look as if they've been caught doing something bad and being nonplussed about it (guilty smiles and shrugging shoulders). Hmm. I hope this is what I think it is: a municipal inspector talking some sense into them.
I observe some more: the guys are chattering among themselves and pointing to an upper floor window above the garage... Perhaps it's that tenant who called the inspector - if it's really an inspector.
The driveway is full of shining new cars that I know don't belong to the tenants and the garage is open and full of washing equipment...

Well. The next few days will either prove or disprove my theory: if I indeed witnessed a visit by the inspector then this business should cease starting today. Should I be so lucky...

***

Another likewise happening that's been going on since yesterday: I think the gook is moving out... I'll cross my fingers because I may still be wrong but it looks as if there's been a sort of appartment swap - his nefews or sons will live here while he moves somewhere else. I don't know if they're all related but at least this guy has a lot of young people around him, gotta be extended family.

Haven't seen the gook since yesterday and the moving van has definitely disappeared.

Ladida. We'll see. I can't believe my luck these days - the meaner and more desperate I get, the more the skies seem to clear out. If the world were a moral place, things should be happening in the opposite direction - in punishment for my bad behavior. Haha.




Racial hatred - hello there.

I make a point of being merciless when I need to express anger. Political correctness just doesn't fit in here.

If a late-night reception with disco in the nearby synagogue bothers my sleep I will call them fat pigs and I will want to paint a huge swastika over the main-entrance the next morning even though I don't mean it in the Nazi sense but it's the best insult for Jews so I'd want to use it, for lack of better insult. I'll call every black hoodlum bike-thief a fucking bare-ass Negro. I have no good bad-name for philippinoes so I just call them fucks, assholes and slum rats. And so on and so forth.

I wonder whether all of this makes me racist. Actually, it makes me wonder about how to define racism.

I think it's actually natural for people to hate each other. Especially groups. It's natural to have frictions and to get into each other's face. But it's far less natural to get massively murderous and ideological about it - whenever you get ideological about natural things, you're getting over your head.

What makes me different from the fat rich Jews at the synagogue is the same thing that makes me different from the slum-minded Philippino worker - difference of upbringing, culture, economic wealth, social status and such. It's insurmountable in the immediate present but I know that when I meet a philippino or a jew who share my values and views, there are no reasons for me to see them as different or hostile - that's where the racial moment fades away, quite naturally. The Indian-born anchor-man on CBC is far more canadian than I ever could be, and far less Indian than any Indian I meet in the streets. He looks Indian, but I can't even think of him as Indian - to me he's a vintage Canadian, I know in advance how he feels and thinks because I know what Canadians are like.

Second or third generation chinese call themselves "eggs" - yellow on the inside, white on the outside. "White" in being completely assimilated to predominant north-american culture, yet keeping a fundamental link to their "yellow" community which has all those real incompatible values and ideas. I had a good friend in computer school who was chinese but more assimilated to Quebec pop-culture than anyone I've seen - he kept blaming Quebeckers for being racist, and in that sense he was right, because Quebeckers are really new to having anybody assimilate to them - for the longest time it's been the other way around, so they are pretty tight-ass about it. But I couldn't really see this guy as Chinese despite his physical race - that cultural part was private and never shown, because it made no sense outside of his small chinese family-world. At the same time, he told me horrible things about Vietnamese - because it turns out that the Chinese have a things against gooks, and consider them vile and mean. Gee - I had no idea. But he came from Laos - and there the mixture of races produced long-standing hatreds. Perhaps main-land chinese don't have that particular problem, I just don't know.

So, what about racism then? I dislike the philippino community intensely because I have had problems with it - but I clearly recall a time when I had no idea what philippinoes could be like and had no bad feeling towards them, on the contrary even. I developed a hatred for this community because it really poisoned my life - I didn't exactly choose to live in their midst, it just happened that way. Next time I move, I will be careful to avoid any place where there are high concentrations of the philippino element, I am sure of that. So in that sense I am most certainly a racist - but not an ideological one. I know that all these kids will gradually grow out of their typical slum-mentality, not to mention the third generation. Mine is a circumstantial racism, it doesn't perpetuate itself into theory.

I've noticed that people who live comfortable lives on well-protected private property away from direct contact with whatever unseamly realities, find it very easy to be politically correct - to sing happy hymns to multiculturalism and all that stuff. Heh. Good for them. For me it doesn't work because I am knee-deep in all that mutliculturalism and I have to endure all the bad fumes. I could care less about being politically correct - I've got no face to lose with all the shit I have to face. So I'll leave it to the high-minded to be high-minded, and keep talking my talk as I see fit.

Racism is offensive just as life itself is offensive. The more you are isolated from the offensive realities of life, the more high-minded you get. I used to be so much more high-minded that I am now, I must say. I hadn't a clue. My academic friend in Toronto who employs philippino nannies loves philippinoes - well, I say: if I could employ a philippino nanny I'd love them too, dearly. But I am not sure my friend would feel all that comfortable if she had to live my kind of life. She'd find it most offensive. Just like this chinese guy from Laos developped an "irrational" hatred of Vietnamese because of dead bodies he's seen in the street as a kid - there were bad frictions there, and the chinese were a wealthy minority or something like that.

In short - people do hate each other all the time, and racism is an intermittent form of this hatred. When hatred gets over the top and we have communities trying to kill each other off, then we can speak of racism in the proper sense. All the rest is pretty much petty cash - it comes and goes, it can be settled and dissolved. Being a purist and having no tolerance for any manifestations of hatred is not a good idea - then you'll see every community friction in terms of budding genocide and that's not what it is. I don't believe the fights between chinese and italian and irish mafias in NYC could be called "racial frictions" in the proper sense - they were community mafia fights, that's all. Much of community hatreds is this way - people have different ways of life that often don't mix well. There are frictions. What can you do.

For any form of racism to disappear completely the differences between communities must disappear. It can't be done that easy. Frictions will remain, people will continue to hate each other. That's the real face of the melting pot - it takes a lot of heat to melt.

***

Political correctness thinking completely forgets that part - the unpleasant realities of it. I don't even know why it's there, what it's trying to achieve. If you take USA, there's always been immigration and different communities hated each other guts, fought in the streets, and nevertheless kept assimilating in due time. A predominant culture must exist to effect assimilation - that's where everyone meets, that's where those irreconcilable differences are melted and forgotten. It seems to me that the politically correct thing makes it harder for the dominant culture to assert itself - for all the different people to assimilate properly. Assimilation is never an easy process, it's actually pretty nauseating. In fact it only makes sense when you can feel that you are assimilating into something coherent and powerful - never because it's "nicer" than your own culture. It's a gravitational effect, of bigger body pulling smaller ones into its orbit - it's a violent process and things get broken and lost on the way.

It is probably harder to assimilate in Canada today than it is in the States. Likewise, political correctness is somewhat more pervasive here - probably a sign of weakness of the predominant culture, which is translated as "nicer". But it's not really that nice on the ground, where it all happens - and there is no reason why it would be.

So what does politically correct thinking achieve in the end? People stay different longer but they don't quite kill each other, and that's the main idea I suppose: contain frictions from too much diversity. Then they find out that Indian and Philippino kids still beat each other to death in school somewhere in the sunny B.C. - why do they do it? No, it's not racism. It's because communities are really big there and not in any hurry to assimilate - and there are frictions like that, what can you do.

In the end, it turns out that political correctness is almost entirely directed at weakening the community cohesion of the predominant culture - anglo-saxon canadian or american - and not in any way pertinent in weakening the cohesion of smaller community groups, so they get at each other's throats under the radar and it doesn't matter. On the face of it, the weakening of the cohesion is designed to weaken exclusiveness so that more different people could join in. But it's not that simple. Immigrant communities are extremely exclusive and also much more cohesive - it becomes harder to pull away from them if the dominant culture is too vague and getting vaguer. Instead of one generation it may take another generation to do the trick.

Is this a good result? I am not sure it is - at least it's not very inspiring.

***

Immigrant laws are also very strange due to all this. It's clear and obvious that people who want to emigrate to North America, be it Canada or USA, desire this for purely economic reasons. It's the only reason that could pull someone from a place like Pakistan to want to come to a completely foreign world with all the immense personal-ties loss and hassle that this implies - it's not any great desire for personal freedom or whatever high-minded shit like that. Only a small minority want to emigrate for really political and ideological reasons - most people come for a better life, rather than freedom and all that claptrap.

Yet immigration laws continue to stress the political factor as if it were essential. The land of free and blah-blah. Philippinoes don't come here to be free - they come here to buy a home and cars and raise family with electric laundry appliances. Jesus. And they work like mad for this little dream. Political freedom is a joke compared to that glorious vision. Same exact thing for all who arrive from empoverished countries - which is 90% of all immigrants, for all I know. Nevertheless, immigration officials continue to press for proofs of "political persecution" in home-countries and people keep inventing totally incredible stories with tears, all of this because they have no choice but to lie and satisfy the law.

This is totally sick. I wonder why there is such a deathly fear of facing facts and changing the law to cover realities rather than "democratic freedom" fantasies. I suppose then the poor officials won't know on what basis to discriminate between arrivals - since everybody is equally poor and destitute everybody is a fine candidate for admission: first come, first served? Quotas? All of this exists already. So people try to squeeze in over the quota with all those fake persecution stories. Maybe they're even glad there are such crazy laws they can try to play with. I think the one thing that prevents the law to face reality is that it would be too "inhuman" - refugee-status laws are different from those for immigration. Immigration can be economical, but refugees gotta stay political otherwise the whole concept goes up in smoke.

But the reality is that there is practically no difference these days. The world has changed. People flee poverty first and persecution second. It's kinda hard to maintain crystal-clear ideological principles under these conditions.

Is Cuba totalitarian or is it simply dirt poor? What about North Korea? And so on and so forth. In other words, the world has definitely changed from free-unfree to rich-poor. It is indeed a very "inhuman" reality - but it's real. I don't think it's been fully grasped by the powers that be as yet. But they're getting there.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004



Fuck ethnic neighbourhoods.

There is never any fucking peace in this philippino-infested neighbourhood. Turns out those noisy car vacuum-cleaning activities in the driveway nearby are now becoming a week-long entreprise - vans are lined up to get vacuum-cleaned. I doubt those are just friends of the vacuum-machine owner: I took a look, seems more like some guys are working, and the van-owner looks on and directs. In short: this is actually something like an illegal carwash activity right there.

And when I say "philippino-infested" I absolutely mean it - these guys function inside their community only, so all the customers of this particular carwash are necessarily philippino. And it's advertised by word of mouth of course. And the fact that they bother three adjacent appartment-buildings doesn't bother them for a bit, haha. With all this, there is a philippino eco-system factor - this carwash is a new reality which arose from the fact that our previous janitor left: he used to park his own van in that driveway and obviously prevented the philippino janitor from the other building to use the driveway. Now that he's gone, the other one immediately took up this shit.

I fucking can't believe this.

Nobody will be able to do a thing about it, obviously. So they're bound to power-vacuum all summer long now. Well, if they continue to get on my nerves, I'll do my share to power-fuck them to the best of my abilities - a good idea would be to paint "illegal carwash service" on the garage door in large white letters. Maybe that will scare them off.

It's been my experience that appealing to authorities is a pretty useless move when such situations are concerned - you can't go against a community spirit which, in this case, is a slum-spirit. That in itself can't be changed - you can't go up to them and "politely point out" or any of that shit. They won't understand. If they could understand, they wouldn't do it in the first place.

Fuck philippinos everywhere, I say - a few at a time is ok, too many at a time is a calamity and I sure know what I am talking about, like it or not.


PS: I found that very mixed neighbourhoods work better than places where there is a predominance of a certain community - when people don't feel enough numbers to act as they please, they tend to obey the general guidelines proper to the city and are less invading. Any ethnic borough dominated by some group will become very hard on the nerves of everybody else, regardless of race religion or color. Just like with the gang-land laws - you don't live in the same city if you're in some such area. I sure am glad I don't live in one.




Wha-wha.

I've been fabulating about going to live in the countryside. It's like this: since I really take no pleasure in city-living and hate crowds, why not find a more fitting place somewhere less populated? Especially since I care nothing about living conditions: I am ok with poverty and basics.

At the same time I am not sure one can survive in the countryside on little cash without being at the mercy of the local community - which would be a great loss of independence. I am not sure it is possible to find a place isolated enough and cheap enough to live in - by which I mean renting. The main problem would be transportation, especially in winter - no bike. Can't be independent without personal means of transportation, that should be obvious. In that sense country life is much harder and demands more means and resources than town life. Even though I know little about it, I can predict that part from what I know.

So, how do you do it if you're really destitute? I suppose if I had significant physical strength, it'd be a big plus - I'd be far more self-reliant. But I am hardly a trapper. So - what do I do?

I must say that I really don't like small rural towns - people are crowded enough in those, though the whole thing takes up less space, but all the houses are still bunched up together. That's what makes a town. And paradoxically, the smaller the town, the harder it is to escape from it - people are far more aware of each other, which is a bad thing for new-comers. Those who enjoy the real benefits of country life live far apart in isolated houses. That takes significant finances: to buy land, to build on that land with services, transportation etc. In other words, it's not something I can ever achieve of my own - forget it.

There are miraculous solutions of course - like renting a remote shack from somebody but you have to meet such a person first. I don't count on such miracles. And also: I wouldn't want to share a house with the owner. The whole point of my even thinking about countryside is maximum solitude and independence. Might be a mirage really, but I probably should investigate first by actually going out there and seeing for myself.

What do I live for? That's the real question. I need something to look forward to - green life and growing my own small garden is really a very appealing idea. Fuck: if I could avoid seeing people much of the week, I'd be in heaven. Is this at all possible??




Something is not right - I feel so tired I slept most of yesterday, dozing off instead of doing whatever I was planning to do. Maybe it's anxiety that wears me down, I can't really determine the cause. One thing I can say though is that the overall flow of energy is somewhat blocked and it may as well be due to psychology as to some purely physical stuff I am not aware of. Let's just say I really don't feel in top shape these days - my immune system might be currently fighting off some hidden crap and I really don't help it by smoking and being anxious.

In any case, I am still kind of convinced I will go down with cancer one of these days - and it's even one of the major arguments in my battles against money-phobia: why worry about overstretching on cash when you might lose all your physical independence tomorrow? It's a winning argument, but I feel too tired and messed up to act on it.

Heh. I could never determine how it works exactly: whether it's messed up psychology that blocks vital energy - the kind of energy that makes you itch for action - or lack of this energy messes up psychology and makes it flacid and paralyzed. I just can't make it out. I would still go with psychology being the culprit because it's well known that you can push the body really far with enough mental power. On the other hand, when you feel sleepy and tired, you can't really tell yourself tall tales about mental power - you just wanna sleep and that's it. But outside of that, it's unclear which is which.

Everything is always unclear to me.

Monday, July 26, 2004



Farms on steroids.

Read some report about rural land laws in Quebec. Apparently there is now a new set of laws that forbid small farmers to sell their land in parcels in order for it to stay agricultural. The problem is that these land-spaces are too expensive for other small-farmers or new wanna-be farmers to buy, so they can only be bought by big industrial-farming producers - and they are. With the result that the land stays productive but the way of life in the community is vigorously destroyed.

There are also laws that forbid anyone to settle on small forest lots unless they can prove they're gonna be living off this land (logging? ha). Which again plays into the hand of big agro-businesses.

The commulative result of all this is that it makes it even harder for city-folks to ever move to the countryside - it makes it outrageously expensive and not so many city-people can or want to farm.

Just what I thought.

Somehow all this does remind me of Woody Allen's "Sleeper" movie where we see a huge chicken and a human-size banana being grown in the country to feed the megapolis. Funny, hein?

***

Btw, the writer of the report compares Quebec situation to that of Argentina or Brazil where most of the land is owned by big producers. Well, how unsurprising - that's what global economy is all about: all this food is not destined to either Quebec or Canada or even the States, it's mostly destined for world-wide export, and that's what being "economically viable" means nowdays - how much you can sell to China or Turkey or else. And you can and will sell a lot.




Damned life.

Found some inspiration on this particular site: Ken Kifer's Bike Pages. The man is talking about precisely the kind of trip I am hoping to make and discussing why people should *not* stay at camping grounds even if it's unlawful not to. Well, you could tell he's a 60's guy - nowdays people are quite a bit less easy-rolling and making it harder for others to be easy-rolling too.

By the way he was killed by a drunk driver last year - a turn of fate and cumulative statistical probability, with all those years spent biking to and fro. At least he had a good life.

***

Some assholes are making awful noise vacuuming their car - why must it take an hour to do it? Jesus. I guess I will need to vandalize their shit too. Heh - vigilante neighbourhood peace-n-quiet patrol, you bet. It works btw: the gook completely quit mowing the lawn every other day - now it looks like real luscious grass and there are actual meadow flowers growing on it. Not a bad result at all.

Summer is hard in town because all these fucks are on vacation and spending it outdoors with all sorts of incredible machinery in use. I may be one mean odd character but one thing I can say for myself - I don't make no noise and I like wild flowers :-0

***

If I don't go shopping for those fucking shoes tomorrow I may as well kill myself - again.




Alienation.

It's interesting that whenever I get a glimpse of clear-skies in my mental landscape (it's a rare occurence and usually comes out of the blue) the fabulation associated with it always involves some distant travels and fast vehicles. I had a temporary motorbike fad a couple of years ago, which faded pretty rapidly too - but it was really an exciting type of dream I had. Another such episode involved the idea of learning to drive a truck and go work on long-distance hauls - also faded pretty soon, because it wasn't feasible, but the type of idea does ressemble the bike fad. And now this idea of going on a cycling-tour is in the same range.

It seems that the only thing that gets me off the ground is some sort of dream about going really far on my own.

And of course I should mention the idea of "a shack in the woods" - which has been with me for so long I can't remember when it started. I consider this an impossible dream but it grips me no end when I happen on a story that features somebody who did it (like the Unabomber, obviously).

What prevents me from trying to put these in practice is general alienation and lack of familiarity with the ways of the world here. It's not my country and it really shows - I lack the unconscious basic information that locals have from the mere fact of having been born into this world. As a result it's always a total unknown - no mental connections anywhere.

***

I know a girl in Toronto who came here as a child from India - she is so fundamentally alienated and insecure about the world here she never wanted to travel anywhere: I've invited her to make the trip to Mtl a million times and she never could do it. Then she married a local and it is under the protection of her husband that she now goes here and there, but never of her own volition. Should she live alone again, she'd never leave the greater TO area, it's certain and nothing can change this - not even experience.

This is clearly social and cultural type of alienation - I am not as badly affected because of european background, but I am still subject to this same insecurity and lack of basic familiarity, I know why it is. I also know that if ever I tried to familiarize myself with this world in all its possibilities, to "expand" so to speak, it would demand an almost super-human effort of integration and breaking the illusory walls in my mind - it would not come naturally to say the least.

I am tremendously tired of this never-ending sense of strangeness - it wears me down, I hate it, I crave familiarity and I can't find any. And never will - that too I know. It would seem that the best course of action would be to seek out a quiet remote place and get lost there forever. I think I could "integrate" with emptiness well enough - but I am not sure I will be able to find such a place. It's impossible in the city - it may be even more impossible in the country.

***

People stick to the basics - making friends, getting married, raising kids, hiding inside the family.

I lost the most basic human values - I can't even understand how any of this makes sense. It doesn't make sense to me. Mere companionship doesn't make sense. What does? Not much.

Don't go too far - I am already gone far enough.




Phobia.

This is something I can't really understand but it's been putting me in the pit forever.

Whenever I imagine some plan and try to put it in practice - I stall. There is no specific reason for this except that insecurity, fears and doubts sabotage the whole thing from inside - even though I am aware that all of those put together are completely imaginary and I am occasionally able to wipe them out of my mind but they crop up again very quickly.

***

I guess what stalls me most terminally is the idea of spending money. I have a phobic relation to money because it represents my inability to deal with the world - spending money implies getting money, which means getting stuck in the economic rules of the world and I don't handle those well. The main reason I am on welfare is because I don't have to think where the cash comes from and how to get it - I do get paranoid when I am faced with severe shortage of cash.

So in the current example: if I want to go out of town, I need shoes - and shoes are expensive no matter what and where. That's it, I am stuck over the idea. Fifty bucks is a fortune. Even if I tell myself that I already have enough of a debt on the credit card and adding or subtracting a $100 won't make a different in monthly payments, nevertheless the very idea of blowing that kind of cash is making me cringe. Guess why I hate shopping - can't afford anything with that mentality.

Another example: all my jeans are in rags and date from a decade ago (except for recent and cheaper ones that got ragged from being cheap in the first place), and I can't make myself go get a new pair - I prefer to stitch the old rags the best I can so I can still wear them. And I know it's mental more than real, because it is possible to find affordable jeans - but I have to look, and that means spending time shopping, and it gets on my nerves in a big way. Then why make myself sick if I can patch up what I have? That's my idea of "quality of life" - avoid getting myself sick over trifles.

But for the same reason I can't force myself to just go out there and get shoes (like sneakers or hiker shoes) - it gets me mad that I can't and it gets me mad that I must. Heh. Totally mental.

***

But underneath this apparent money-phobia there is something else and I think it's the main stoppage point - the money thing is only a kind of metaphor for it.

It's the sense of powerlessness and anger at myself and the world that comes from it: that I can't deal with life as it is, that I must hide from it and avoid so much of it. The real phobia is that I am seriously afraid to touch on that fact one way or another - better pretend that it's not there than have to resurrect this feeling.

It gets me depressed just to think of it. And the money-phobia arises as a formula for this depression. If I try to tell myself that I do have objective means of disregarding the supposed money-problem, the phobia interferes immediately and fucks the whole thing completely - if I allowed myself to think objectively, then the sense of powerlessness would be defeated, but I would need to reconsider my whole relationship to the world in the same sweep.

That's the stuff phobias are made from: they're both real and unreal. Practically speaking, all these worries are unreal. But speaking psychologically they're more real than reality - you could shove a million dollars down my throat and you'd still have to convince me that I am in any way entitled to that kind of power. It doesn't make sense - but at the same time it does.

***

And there is more to it. Money-phobia is at the intersection of my sense of powerlessness inside the world and my sense of independence from this world. Welfare gives me independence - and my independence is limited to this tiny margin of means. Everything beyond and above is not mine, is outside my control, and threatens my independence - I can't and won't ask for anything from anybody, I can't even tolerate gifts.

Gifts create a dependence - this "kindness of strangers" thing is a hostile concept in my mind. Not to mention the kindness of non-strangers. My parents tried to force Christmas gifts on me, tons of new clothes they bought, seeing that I am so ragged they can't stand it - I had to refuse. It caused them pain, and it caused me pain because I knew how much effort they put into getting all this stuff, but I just couldn't take these things - they were too expensive, unsuitable, something entirely alien to everything I am.

I may not like very much what I am, but I have to make do with it nonetheless.

But this independence is negative - and the freedom it affords is negative as well. It's the freedom you get from avoiding so many things lest you get trapped. It's like walking a tight-rope - the margin of this independence is really slim.

Poverty makes one free in that sense - it makes you into a rope-walker or a hunger artist (in Kafka's terms). But you only excel at hunger by default - because you can't really eat much. It's not a virtue but rather a vice, a lack of vitality, turned into a point of honor.

***

Finally, I must explore the other extensions of my current phobia - the project is to go biking out of town, which is why I need shoes etc. Alright - I can understand why I have such a hard time shopping for shoes. But there is also the question of fear of the unknown.

For pete's sake, I never went anywhere far and wild on my own. I have deem ideas about camping, I am largely unaware of the surrounding countryside - I've never had a real direct contact with local rural land, except in some early adolescence at an organized camp and all the memories are awful (mostly from people and ugliness of the site). So I have no real experience with the realities of being on the road - and I both like the total-discovery factor and it scares me too of course.

Sure I get somewhat paranoid about the bike not having very reliable tyres, and all that pain-in-the-butt aspect, but still I can't count these worries as major hindrances - I don't mind physical duress, it's actually one of the more appealing aspects of the project. But I do worry about people getting to me once I am out there - I want to have some peace on my own but it might just prove that there are too many rules there too, and too many people intent of pointing them out. It's people I want to avoid - I am not sure I will be able to.

***

In short, the world as I see it is a fundamentally hostile place - and it's not discovery but escape that I really want. That's illusory but I better try it out.

I will need to overcome the money-phobia shortly. I tried to yesterday, then today - couldn't do it. What the fuck. Maybe talking to the blog will help - every night I have bad dreams and it's clearly anxiety.

***

Erich Fromm says that anyone who fails to socialize properly ends up crazy. I don't like his style of thinking very much (all this triumphant humanism is a bit too much to take), but I have to say that this proposition does make sense in some way. In that case I've been somewhat insane for a very long time now - and getting more insane by the year.

As a matter of fact, it is Fromm who describes schizophrenia as a complete failure to socialize - not even citing brain-damage or such. I don't believe I have schizophrenia but I do have suchlike symptoms and difficulties - so in Fromm's terms I am indeed a regular schizo. And what now? Well - now I struggle with all these phobias and I need to win at least temporarily.

And fuck Fromm btw.

Sunday, July 25, 2004



Still reading that homesteading forum. Yeah well - country life sure sounds nice - sure sounds like you do need a few bucks to get there in the first place though.

But for those lucky bastards who made it:
Having lived in both country & city, I can tell you that country is much better. The quiet, ability to grow one's own food, the joy of hearing wildlife, insects, & all natural sounds is beyond description. The peace there feeds the soul. I always go back into town with a feeling of rejuvination. Living in the city, I'm always bombarded with noise, constant rules of not interferring with your neighbors rights, but, they can interfer with yours all they want. The cops can't catch them. The stress of living in the city drags a person down more & more each day. These are my feelings, I hope they help you.
That obviously comes from somebody who sits on a piece of property and enjoys the "rights". Anyway. And here's a nice one:
Although I'm sure you can figure it out for yourself, one of the disadvantages to living in the country is all these grumpy old farts who hang out at the general store and eyeball you something fierce when you come in for your specially-ordered case of tofu. ;-)
Wisdom: drop that tofu already or die. Heh.




It's one of those sunday-from-hell when people do barbecue on their balconies while playing loud ethnic stereo - which mixes into a hellish blend with the far louder philippino community barbecue-with-stereo in the park nearby...

This is the first such sunday this summer, due to poor weather previously - so I can say I've been lucky.




Back-to-nature - you bet.

I had a sort of crisis yesterday - woke up with a maddeningly strong urge to drop everything and leave town immediately, especially since the day was so shiningly beautiful. But there are still too many things that I need to get (basic stuff like shoes - I've been procrastinating because it's damn expensive) and I am not doing enough to remove these obstacles. So as a result the urge clashed with my ineffectual apathy and resulted in a bout of violent depression and anxiety, accompagnied by intense visions of silence, wilderness, and some shack in the woods or I don't know what (these images occured of themselves, vivid focussed pictures).

Jesus.

At the moment I don't see any practical feasible way of moving to the countryside. I may be ignorant or don't understand certain realities, but I have this idea that it's impossible to find a place outside the city if you can't buy a spot of land. I don't imagine it's possible to squat anywhere - in the country people are aware of each other, and if there is a new individual lurking here and there they will want to find out where this new-comer is moored - and if it's unlawful, you'll be chased away. That's how I see it - the private land phenomenon.

How the hell can one leave the city then?

I remember some six-o'clock news report about an illegal-alien mexican living in a makeshift tent in the woods who was reported to authorities by locals: his poor little spot of livinghood was "raided" and the guy was arrested and deported.
That will happen to anyone - whether you're illegal-alien or just occupying a tiny spot of land that you don't have rights to. People will never let you be - even if you don't bother them. They say cats are curious... nothing like people though.

The way I see it this is just mad.

***

From Homesteading-today forum:

Q: ok, here is the problem.... (how to start homesteading with no money?)
A: Lower your perceptions of reality, pay off the bills now not tomorrow; I survive on $21.00 per day- veterans pension; that includes electric, rent, insurance, groceries, haircuts, phone, laundry, propane, kero for heater, kat phood,; tighten up to survival level, get mean, and do it, period.

Hehe.





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