Empty Days

Saturday, August 07, 2004



Conversion mayhem.

1 inch = 2.54 centimeters = 25.4 millimeters

1 foot = 12 inches = 0.3048 meters

1 mile = 1760 yards = 5280 feet = 1.60934 kilometers

1 meter = 3.281 feet = 1.0936 yards

1 kilometer = 1000 meters = 1093.6 yards = 0.62137 miles

1 liter = 1000 cubic centimeters = 61.0255 cubic inches = 0.264 U.S. gallon

1 kilogram = 1000 grams = 2.2046 pounds

1 bar = 14.5 psi

Atmospheric Pressure = 29.92" HG = 14.673 psi = 1.013 bar

more >>>

Converters:

kg - pounds
gallon - liter - pint
feet - meters




More of Ken Kifer adventures:

"On the way back, I was upset by aggressive traffic, especially after the accident on Friday evening, so I accepted a ride for about five miles. That was a major mistake, as the man was interested in more than being helpful, but I did extract myself from the situation without any harm."

Ken was six feet tall. I am sure that helped.




From Ken Kifer Bike Pages:

"I noticed that I had four dollars in my pocket (but in those days 15¢ would buy a loaf of bread and 50¢ a whole small chicken)".

:-0




Wet biking.

Went to the library and got caught up in the rain. Which reminded me - it's absolutely imperative and essential to have a full rain suit of long rides, which actually means: waterproof full-length pants (for jeans), real waterproof jacket (not just nylon windbreaker), and most importantly: shoes that repell water instead of absorbing it like a sponge (my leather shoes, haha). Sneakers should do it as they are supposed to be fairly waterproof, otherwise I don't see why there is so much rubber and synthetics in them.

I guess light velcro top and pants would do a fine job and it doesn't matter that velcro rips easily - it can also be patched up with plain duck-tape, I imagine, since it's not a fancy suit but just a lot of plastic designed to repell water. Boo.

Today I sorta got away with a simple velcro poncho but it was a short ride, there was no rain on the way back, and I was able to change into dry clothes once home.

There are a couple of other things about biking in the rain that I need solving somehow. I wear eyeglasses and basically what happens is that I push them down on my nose in the rain because I simply can't see through them, so I might as well take them off altogether. But then I become somewhat myopic - not blind, but things get a bit blurred. Possible solution: wearing a cap with a visor and getting the hood over it.

The other problem is that my bike doesn't really break on steep descents when it's wet. Heh. It's in pretty bad shape since it's made up of junk parts and wheels are too wobbly to really adjust breaks for those wonderful rusty steel rims - plus break-pads are really lousy 'n messed-up. The mountain bike I use in winter has aluminium rims and great break-pads, so wetness does not impact any. It'd be a great bike if the frame was my size and the handle-bar were not so low. But it's a junior bike, so there's nothing I can really adjust on it - even pedals are ridiculously small. It was found in the garbage.


Garbage bikes.

I fully realize that if I wanted to "take care" of my bike and make it into a fully reliable machine, I'd need to spend money on it. I'd have to buy new wheels and new tyres; I'd have to buy break-pads, replace cables, get a new chain, derailleur - at the very minimum. Essentially, if I wanted to make it better than it is, I might as well buy a new bike - because everything in this bike is crooked, rusted and fucked up, even the pedal system and chainring are crooked, and I've long dismantled the front derailleur because the rear-derailleur couldn't possibly handle the chain after I replaced rear-wheel twice with junky less wobbly equivalents found in garbage.

I am not a bike enthousiast - I am a garbage-biker, actually, which is a breed in itself because I could not possibly live a minute of my life without a bike.

Of course there is an easy "solution" to these worries - I could very well steal biking parts from parked bikes all over town. The reason I don't do this, despite my easy attitude towards stealing, is because all these bikes out there belong to people who actually use them - I can steal from big department stores and defy the law, but not from individuals even if it's essentially risk-free. I also never steal from small businesses for the same reason and not because it's too risky.

I used to scavange used parts from junk-bikes - the kind of bikes that are left in the open in a state of abandonment. They quickly rust, and taking parts from them is a good idea. Except that those parts are real garbage. So I have a lot of wheels and tyres and nuts 'n bolts but none of them could go to build a decent bike - only another garbage-bike. Soaking rusty chains in kerosine, anyone? That's me.

In essence, a garbage bike should not and cannot be treated as a new bike - it would be worse off for it. Example: instead of cleaning and treating the chain on my bike with proper lube, I greased it with pretty heavy machine oil years ago - it gathers tremendous amounts of dirt of course, but I can leave the bike in the open all year long and the chain doesn't rust, because the grease doesn't come off no matter what rains and snows it's exposed to. Some of it rubbed on the rear cogs and derailleur, and so these parts are also protected from rust despite being full of dirt.

Another interesting truth about garbage-bikes is that it's actually a bad idea to try and ameliorate them. Whenever you change one part for something better, you immediately realize that a whole system of parts needs updating in order for that one new part to work properly. Don't even try to put a new chain on a garbage bike. Why? Because the cogs on that old chainring and those on the rear free-wheel are not new - they're badly worn out and they won't work well with that shining new chain. Rather scavange an old chain from some other bike, seeing to it that its worn pattern matches the worn-out pattern of your cogs.

In tinkering with my little monster, I managed to acquired a few basic bike skills though the word is probably hardly appropriate because it's not so much skill as just a primitive know-how. I never tried to true a wheel, for instance - all my wheels are wobbly and it doesn't bother me in the least. I can't break well on steep descents in wet weather - so I start applying breaks way before I would apply them in normal weather. Motorists are taught to slow down in rain, not matter what luxury corvet they drive - my junk bike abides by the same principle. Going up a steel hill is another matter. Since I have few gears and the highest gear is naturally all wobbly, I rarely ever go up very steep hills, I choose an alternative less steep route even if it means a longer ride - but I don't mind long rides, I mind exhausting rides.

Another problem I have is that my bike is too heavy for me. It's hard steel frame and steel wheels make for a lot of weight that I could dispense with, frankly. In my long rides through the outskirts of the city I've found myself in situations where I had to get the bike over pretty high fences, carry it over rail-road tracks and ditches, and pull it up a nearly 45% slop obstructed with shrubbery - portage is sometimes unavoidable, since I am so wildly attracted to really secluded places. I must say that it was a huge feat every time - I can't for the life of me raise that bike over my shoulders or carry it for long. So I had to climb on the fence, pull the bike up, have it stuck there on the pedal, take a rest, then basically drag it over the fence, or up the slop, or out of the ditch... Phew! I am confident that I could very well ride a heavy motorbike and pull it off the ground too if it fell - just because I am used to being weak and having to deal with things beyond my strength.

Sometimes I really envy those people who ride aluminium-frame/wheel bikes and all that fancy stuff - it does make life easier, I know it does. Heh.

However I would hesitate to buy a new bike even if I got the money all of a sudden. There are great disadvantages in having a new bike: it needs constant care, it really wants to get stolen so it's a risk to leave it unattached even for a few minutes, parts may go missing when you're not there, it is so perfect and nice it makes you wince when you have various accidents and hard hits, and throwing it over a fence would feel like a sacrilege.

I am not good with things - not careful. And I don't like to be careful and worry about minor damage, and then blame myself or others for it. People with shiny new cars are afraid of the smallest scratch - I had some motorists yell at me and chase me because I happened to bump a little into their precious car in heavy traffic. It might have left an imperceptible scratch - but psychologically the owner of a very new car feels that it's a great outrage to his perfect machine. A shiny new and expensive bike produces the same state of mind. I don't need it.

I had myself hit by a car once, all my fault because I was in a foolish mood and riding against traffic. There was a lot of blood and a hematosis thereafter, but it didn't occur to me that I should get any damages from the owner of the car - he was really worried about my state, and that was a natural human reaction. Getting money out of him on top of the worry he had to feel would have been truly inhuman - yet a friend who heard my story was nonplussed that I didn't try to get some "compensation" at least for my ruined bike. He drives new cars, so to him any material damage requires immediate compensation, no matter what the circumstances. I don't see it that way - I ride garbage-bikes.

***

Will I ever go on that out-of-town trip? I don't know anymore. It's become a ridiculous dilemma.

Friday, August 06, 2004



Again tried to set my mind on the task by reading Ken Kifer's Bike Pages. He was one lucky bastard to live in some small town in Alabama and travelling like mad between towns and to his cabin in the woods. The bikes were his passion - or rather being on the bike and moving a lot.

I can understand that frame of mind but I can't reproduce it. There is this almost childish trusting quality in roaming the space as if the whole world were your home and you just wanted to discover more of it. That trust I definitely don't have. I know what it feels like but I've lost it - and I am longing to regain at least some parcel of that original sense of being at home in the world, to be king in the kingdom.

Heh. Here's the little poem Ken wrote while biking. Pretty telling, because that's what it's all about in the end:

The warm, wet wind blows me along
As I ride my bike in the cream moonlight
Down the road that leads from my home.
The sky's black-blue, the clouds are white,
The stars are silver dots. To me belong
The night and sky, as all are 'sleep except for me,
Me and those puff clouds that smoothly roam,
And like them, I long to be free.

Well, when I bike along at night through the city that's not how I feel at all. I feel like a passing shadow in a world where I don't belong. Nothing is mine, not even my shadow on the road. Because there is no home where to start from and come back to - that simple.




My will is like a guitar badly out of tune - can't even get the simplest notes out of it without wincing. The melody of my life would break your ears.




Went out to fetch my cat and there was a pigeon agonizing right in the middle of the side-walk - it didn't look wounded, but it was clearly going through its last convulsions. I watched the bird die right in front of my eyes - in fact I "prayed" for him to die faster, he was struggling so much.

Then I got a sheet of newspaper and wrapped his warm inanimate body in it and carried him to the garbage bin.

I would like to die like that - the agony was short, the pigeon clearly did not understand what was happening to him, and then he fell still and expired his last breath. That's all there is to it, really.

My cat watched the whole thing from afar, intently and peacefully, without trying to disturb the pigeon. My cat is a good chap, philosophical almost - not a stupid young fool he used to be. Nowdays he just lets strange things happen without intruding on them. I think he was really nonplussed because he kept looking up to me when we went to dispose the pigeon in the garbage - "what was it?" Maybe he was scared.




The question.

My principal concern in life is the problem of will - I don't know what it is, where it comes from, how it is lost and how it might be revived.

Nietzsche tried to tackle it but his account is insufficient. So are the explanations offered by various brands of psychology.

Will or spirit - or inspiration. I truly don't know how it works, yet I am convinced that all life is dependent on it. A purely materialist view doesn't quite cut it.

The same question may be rephrased as: what is life.

When E.Fromm talks of "real freedom" and "true self" etc he essentially means - true life.

Religions talk a lot about this but always metaphorically - and it's mostly impossible to figure out unless one has understood already.

I deal with this vital unknown every day of my life and I keep screwing up because I can't understand. I am trapped in my inability to understand this. No amount of "information" will ever enlighten me if I can't understand out of my own experience.

Basically, I don't know the most important thing there is to know.

*

My father tells me I am too self-absorbed for my own good. That's absolutely right - I am. I suppose if I had a very good motive to be absorbed with something else, I would be. Which was indeed very much the case once upon a time - a very long time ago, when my will was still intact and functional.

Take the case of Kierkegaard - what a blasted liar. With all his talk of God, he is obliquely raving about the loss of his own will and nothing else. That's all there is to it. The fact that he chose the language of christian philosophy to try to deal with this problem is incidental - it has nothing to do with either christianity or what not, it only has to do with the loss of will and the source of life.
For all his brilliance as a thinker, I don't think he solved his problem - he made it worse by going miles around it. He should have acted and experienced instead of talking. But he couldn't - or thought it was useless. What a desperate liar this guy was. Yet I can't blame him, he was trapped. But I am sorry for those who take his declarations at face value.

*

Is there God? No, there isn't. There is something else however - faith in life. And life is unknown and acts in strange ways. There is far more than meets the eye. Perhaps that's where God is after all. And much more besides.

But I have no faith in life.




The nature of reality.

There is something somewhat insane about the way I deal - or rather can't deal - with things. I've reached a point where I can't tolerate any intrusion into what I have to consider my environment (that is a space I am actually confined to, it is in no way of my own free choosing) yet this environment is swarming with unknown people and their multiple wills - I wish I didn't have to bear their sight so often. Out of sight - out of mind. That'd be optimal.

One insane way is to fight wholesale against everything - for no other reason that it gets on my nerves. The philippino carwash is a glaring example of this particular fixation - it's a new thorn in the environment, it gets on my nerves essentially because it wasn't there before. But it is fundamentally insane to try to supress everything that pops up around me - there will never be an end to these things, or if there will be, it won't be because I made it disappear one by one: it will be a gift from the "gods" - a random combination of random facts resulting in an optimal situation.

Example of random facts: the flat above is still empty, going on three months now. Why? Because the owner raised the price so outrageously nobody wants to rent it. Bingo. From my relative perspective this is nothing less than a "gift from heaven" - a random reprieve, something I couldn't have effected even by magic. The ennoying fact of the carwash is also random. I "got" both the good and the bad - what's the point of going nuts over all this randomness?

What I do realize is that the place I inhabit is not mine. Both in practical and in symbolic terms - my very existence is a random fact, my presence in this particular place is even more random, the whole blasted thing is completely unnecessary, subject to change and anihilation.

Do you remember the twin-towers in NY? They're in all the romantic movies. I used to go to NYC a lot, these huge buildings seemed like Egyptian pyramids - eternal, a part of an eternal landscape.
Now - where are they? They're gone. Yep. Shit happens. Forget terrorism, Iraq, and the whole political claptrap. The reality of the world is that things happen and from individual perspective they come from hell or heaven, but their very occurance or non-occurance is random. What seemed like the most unshakable thing yesterday is gone tomorrow - immense surprise. Yet, big things are no different from small things - the principal fact is that nothing lasts.

Heh. Even the "environment" (in the green trees-n-birds sense) doesn't last. It's continually subject to anihilation. Nature itself, what the human world has known as "nature" for all eternity, is subject to rapid noticeable change and destruction. Immense surprise. Too many wills are working at once in a chaotic overpowering activity - the combination of all this results in random "facts" that keep popping up all over the place.

Worrying about all this is like worrying about the philippino carwash - it's somewhat insane, on the individual scale. The individual is thoroughly powerless to prevent all these endless things that keep popping up - if you intend to "fight" against such occurances, you need to join in some big communal structures to pull the ropes, where you will be lost and become yet another mice-voice in the great piping concert of mice folk.

I don't want to pull no ropes.

The madness of the Unabomber was expressed in his doomed attempt to pull the ropes himself, on his very own - to go against a huge, enormous, overpowering structure with home-made explosive devices directed at other equally helpless, insignificant individuals. From his relative narrow perspective they were essentially random people. He saw society as a huge unconscious army of drones working automaton-like into a certain hostile direction - and he threw bombs at this great mass. Of course it was insane and crazy because doomed. But it was not meaningless. This pointless violent activity gave him a sense of himself as an individual standing up against a hostile force. Taking shots at it, without other hope than that of causing well-publicized pain, made him feel slightly less insignificant. The moral indignation and the media-enhanced feeling of insecurity that his bombs provoked in the greater "society" was his sole reward - an imaginary one, just like the indignation of the readers of the unabom-saga in newspapers was imaginary.

Do I really care about what happens to the "environment"? No, not really. I care in an imaginary way - since in any case this is not something I can impact upon. It saddens me that most of the waters anywhere within reach of human agglomerations are poisoned and one can't drink this water unboiled. But it's been like that already before I was born. I can't get angry over this - it's useless to get angry over things I can't change. It's useless to care about things I can't change. I don't *really* care about Iraq or about whatever utter shit that goes on in the world - whenever I am "made" to care, it is only because some of my natural human buttons are pushed. But my natural individual ability to do anything about this stuff is completely checked and thus utterly useless. As a result I can't really care.

Moral indignation over such things is a bitch - utterly useless and raging in vain.

It is mind-boggling that so much emotional and mental energies are spent on topics that one can't do a thing about. It is the life of the imagination - as when reading an intense novel or seeing an equally intense movie. The fate of fictional characters and the fate of real people involved in distant events is perceived with the same intensity - entirely imaginary.

It does seem that imagination takes up all the space where action has no chance of ever taking place. Most of my life is imaginary in that sense. I can't know the world, it's too manifold to known - so I invent causes and effects, I interpret random facts. I am wrong most of the time of course, but since I don't know it, I keep thinking I am right. And this distorted narrow almost entirely made-up picture is what I call reality.

In other words, I live in a world that doesn't quite exist - I am continually surprised that my actions produce whatever actual effects, but I can never know what these effects would be in any particular case. I deal with people I don't understand - so I invent their motivations and I give imaginary reasons to their actions. And it goes on like that for ever and ever.

Being disconnected from the world mostly means not participating in the communal gossip, otherwise known as "exchange of information" - which is what creates consensual reality. I create my own monster - very uninformed but no more monstruous than the kind of common reality people are content to buy into.

I am clearly paranoid about a lot of things because I have very few means of defending myself against continuous hostile take-over - these random pressures are natural, they arise all the time without any particular personal intent, but they bother me and get me mad. The main reason I get bothered and mad is because I see no escape from them - if I knew I was going to move to the North Pole shortly, I could care less.

My inability to move to the North Pole of my own effort is what causes me to get mad.

End of story.

Thursday, August 05, 2004



I couldn't find any motivation to go see the Albrecht Durer exhibition after all. There is a very good reason why I quit going to museums - there's no point to.

I still relate to some cultural and intellectual things but only inasmuch as they serve my survival strategies - thinking for me is a survival activity, it's neither creative nor reflective - I don't "partake" in culture, I grab an edible something and run.




Variously ph.

Deathly cold today. Well, it's all relative of course, but when you get something like 10-20 C in summer it does feel cold. I suppose in Alaska this goes for a wonderfully hot summer day.

***

I lost the battle against money-phobia (or rather the vast sense of powerlessness that it implies - "buying power" is really a fitting expression). Which means that I lost the nerve mentally and now I will either buy everything for whatever price and pretend it doesn't matter (blowing it, so to speak) or I will renounce the project completely - it's become a torture instead of an inspiration.

In other words, when your plan of existential liberation passes through the department store - you're screwed.

***

Some more linguistics: the word "equipment" actually implies creating a sense of security. People who go camping in trailers with so much luggage you'd think they're moving house, do so to assuage a deathly fear of open spaces.

City vs countryside: the city is in fact an immense enclosure, a ghetto, meant to protect you from the hasard of the natural world. A city is not just a lot of houses with many streets: it's a mental concept first and foremost. It's what we mean by "civilization" - a stable for the domesticated animal.

***

Another illusory way of combatting money-phobia involves breaking the rules of the world, that is law: stealing instead of buying.

The problem is that, while I do it from time to time out of desperation and resentment, I am still conscious of the fact that while I am beaking rules, I know full well that these rules I am breaking are only an insignificant portion of all the huge structure of rules and laws (economic and civil) that society is bound in - it's like a huge cocoon: you can cut through a few threads, but you can never undo the whole blasted fabric.

That's what the Unabomber was up against - a totally losing battle.

Young people frequently disregard rules and steal and go over the fence in every way. But this is youthful energy - where the sense of personal hope and future is still untouched. The crushing weight of the world and its structures has not yet rubbed in, so to speak. This irrational untested hope does not last very long. You can still jump fences a decade later but you do it out of disperation rathen that hope this time, because you already know that there are just too many of them, an infinity of fences - you can never get away in principle.

***

In fact the people I met who were truly free - in their mind - all happened to be past 70 years old in age. Hardly a coincidence. Those still in the prime of life are submissive mentally to the demands of living their life in the world as it is. When you're effectively over those demands, that's when you can finally *be*.


There were three such extravagant people I've known - they're all dead now.

***

I am basically trying to imitate these old loonies - but I can't honestly do it, because I can't get rid of the demands life imposes on me, both internally and externally. I am not fully conscious of my end - my body is too full of life to allow me this consciousness - and this is asserted by the way others see me. Even if I were sick with a terminal cancer, people would still want me to go on living - because I am "not supposed" to die at a certain age.

Consciousness is not a private space freely administered by the conscious individual - it's a consensus. Try to really change your fundamental ideas of how things are - you'll notice that you can't, simply because 95% of these ideas are not of your making (L.W.).

***

Erich Fromm, being the humanistic psychologist that he is, talks of the "true self" and how it's supposed to be there somewhere, under the multiple layers of consensual ideas. It's a very appealing notion, this whole "true freedom" and "true self" thing. But it might just be a fantasy - an ideal that does not really exist, but that one likes to believe in because it'd be really great if it were true.

A bit like equality between people: it's an ideal, never *quite* a reality. Or God - good luck trying to "find" God... instead you might find religion - just as instead of equality you keep finding an ideology of equality.

That's why I hate pop-psychology so much: it catters ready-made ideals as if they were real, without an inkling of what ideals actually are - and why they are. Fromm at least is making a real effort in trying to understand what he's even talking about.

***

Oh Lord. This reminds me of something I glanced on tv the other night - the famous "case" of the woman-teacher sleeping with her under-age hispanic student. She was made to spend 8 fucking years in jail for that supposed "offense" - while she got pregnant from the guy. What's more the guy is now over 20 years old and still wants to live with her.

Question: why was she sent to jail?

No answer.

Petrarca is a filthy pedophile.

***

I went to the municipal office and made a formal complaint about the philippino carwash - giving a chance for the fucking law system to work. They seemed to believe it was indeed a bad thing and promised to send a letter threatening fines etc.

So now I don't have to worry about it all by myself and walk around with a symbolic gun in my mind.

Fromm says that the sense of powerlessness and individual insignificance is a hallmark of nihilistic philosophy. He keeps talking about it - therefore his own ph is essentially nihilistic. Which is normal for a humanist.

***

My whole life is spent thinking - that's all I do, basically - in my mind, in this blog, while I read, while I walk, even in sleep. That's it. All other visible acts and actions of mine are just an extension of this all-consumming activity - ex potentio. Seen from outside my progression in this world doesn't make any sort of sense - it's a haphazard collection of various meaningless deeds, showing no structure or direction except an increasing alienation from the social order as such.

And it's been like that for most of my adult lifetime - life minus hope equals thinking.

***

Seen a french documentary on tv about the ozone hole over Patagonia. The hole is elliptic and most of it is situated over the South Pole, but part of it rotates over southern Chili at certain times of the year. The increase of UV radiation and skin-cancer has risen spectacularly in that land. The cancers tend to appear about 20 years after a certain critical exposure. Just as the world-wide atmospheric pollution takes 15-20 years to start affecting the ozone layer. Which means that even if the whole of industrial civilization were wiped out of existence today, the ozone hole would keep increasing for years and years to come.

The hole was first discovered in mid 80's - a glaring legacy of all the accumulated pollution since WWII.

Realistically speaking, given the state of the world, it's already too late to do anything significant about this - and much more besides.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004



It's eating at me - the idea first took shape exactly on the 15th of last month. We're moved into August and I am still stalled. Maybe I am being impatient? Two weeks going on three is not such a long time. Except in summer.




It's rainy today again. I've biked in the rain out of necessity (going to a dentist appointment, 30 or 40 minutes by bike depending on traffic) - the last time was in november, it poured buckets, it was deathly cold, it was dark, it was rush hour, I was soaked to the bone and it felt very much like doing extreme sports - hard weather and traffic conditions. I really don't see the point of doing this for pleasure. Therefore I don't see how it makes sense to bike all day long in the rain, even if it's summer rain - unless it's almost tropical weather and rain comes as a relief from heat.

So when I think about this biking trip I imagine I would camp rather than bike through such wet times.

***

Maybe I should stop thinking about this biking trip though. Fuck: first I procrastinate, then I fume over philippinoes, then I am prevented from going.... It's been a whole month like that already, something is not right about this whole idea. It stalls too much. Then my father who was supposed to feed the cat tells me he will be busy for three weeks starting this Friday so instead of living in my place for a few days at a time like he did in the past (like when I went to Toronto) he'd have to walk here once a day to feed the cat. It's a pretty long walk - too bad he is afraid to bike in traffic, it's really a breeze otherwise.

What's more, my brother is also afraid of biking, and he's way too lazy to walk anywhere without a motivating purpose, so he won't be able to help out either. This family is unbelievable - I am the only one who ever did any sports and I always loved that physical part of life, the great outdoors and all that, it was certainly not something I picked up from the family but rather did it against the grain. When as a kid I was forced to move to this blasted new world, I lost most of my original freedom - back home we didn't live in the city, and back home I was thoroughly familiar with my environment. So the only thing that I was able to keep up here on a self-sufficient basis was biking - to a limited extent, because I could never leave the city, as I had no friends and no familiarity with the people and lands here. Anyway - the whole thing was a stupid bad move and it's now part of my fate, and I guess I am trying to recover from that original mistake as best I can. Most of my whole fucking life has been spent trying to overcome that mistake. FUCK.

***

Haha - I certainly sound like a cat who's been moved to a new home. Except that cats are far more adaptable that I ever was.

***

It's useless to blame anything on the parents. I don't understand what is this pop-psychology idea that parents are in any way responsible for their kids growing up all fucked up. Isn't it obvious that those "parents" are themselves just products of the previous generation whose unwitting mistakes they carry throughout their lives adding some of their own, for the next generation to deal with? All of this entirely unconscious - which means that there is nobody to hold responsible for who you are: unless you're prepared to analyze and condemn a whole chain of generations, in the gothic curse-of-the-family style.

Jesus. I think too many people misunderstood Freud. He was Jewish - original sin, anybody? Thoroughly unredeemed, what's more.

***

Humidity is so high I can hardly smoke - tobacco is too damp to roll.

***

It is a gross mistake and ignorance to believe that getting high on drugs is somehow unnatural. Think back to primitive tribal living and you will realize that people freely used drugs since the birth of humanity so to speak. Even animals get high on certain plants (ever seen a cat around valerian root?).

Medicinal and drug-like qualities of plants are one and the same thing - weed is actually just weed, just as ginger is a root. Boo - let it grow, mensch.

Meantime, driving a car or riding a bike is indeed quite an innovation: much more than tobacco smoking. Of course there were no hospital bills back when Red Indians ruled the prairies. And so on and so forth. Certain principles are wanton and should be disregarded.

***

I am hyperactive today and not doing anything - hence all the chatter.




Crawling beasts.

My brother is very squeamish but I am the total opposite - I can literally eat worms and not wince. Like today: I grabbed a chicken bone from yesterday's meal just to gnaw on it while I was preparing some tea (I wash dishes about once a year), and it turned out that the soft part of the bone had small larvae swarming on the underside. So I basically ate some larvae. Hmm - it was an unpleasant surprise, but I didn't find it all that upsetting. Just spit the stuff out, threw out the bones, splashed the dish, washed my mouth - and fuck, who cares.

But I hate snakes. I would not want to touch a snake. I have no idea where this distaste for snakes comes from, a lot of people seem to share it. I would feel seriously threatened and paranoid if I fell into a snake-pit (Indiana Jones slash Survivor type of dread). In terms of falling into pits, I'd much prefer being eaten by lions.

I have far less distaste even for rats, and I frankly like mice. I don't like rats because, well, they're pretty big and they can bite, so you don't wanna be overpowered by rats ("1984" movie has a good scene with torture by rats). But I don't understand people who are seriously disgusted by mice, spiders etc. I guess I only hate snakes - for no other reason probably that this hate is so deeply engrained in cultural mythology that even as a small kid I was read bad stuff about snakes in children literature. But I am not sure this is the right explanation. There are explanatory theories involving some sexual-repression motives - that the snake is supposed to symbolize the male organ and thus overt sexuality. But while I hate snakes, I don't find male organs at all unpleasant, yet at the same time I can still say that I do resent too much body contact and thus the more invading and threatening aspect of intimacy - rather than sex per se. But there are enough men who also hate snakes - what is it with them then, fear of homosexual rape? Oh my god.

In the end, I'd go with the cultural myth thing - it's deep, it's wide-spread, and is not always overtly expressed but you still get to hate snakes after you've absorbed enough of these hints early enough. Sex-related or not, snake-hate is firmly established (figurative expression such as "snake-pit" means a very bad situation, whichever way you put it). At the same time I have no bad feelings against the mythical Mr.Snake that seduced Eve and thus fucked up Adam - he was a wise intelligent snake, and it is only later and in punishment that he was made to be mindless and crawling on his belly - a reptile.




Actually, there are solidly practical reasons why computer-blogging is so much more handy than taking notes on paper (diary) - my handwriting is so awful I am often unable to re-read what I have written; which is why it has always proved useless to quote big bits from books (like I often do in blogging; though I took copious notes of Wittgenstein since it coincided with me being computer-less, but all these notes are essentially useless now because there are too many of them and the handwriting is still awful). Not to mention that paper-writing is not searchable - it's very hard to find where you said what except for reading through a lot of stuff you'd rather avoid seeing again. Heh.

I once tried to improve my handwriting - it didn't work. It even got worse - because it expresses personality and mine got worse.




Erich Fromm.

With all this, I am still reading through "Escape from Freedom" and I am starting to like it - the historical analysis of modern conditions might not have been to my liking but the picture of "the modern individual" is pretty convincing.

Fromm offers a very clearcut definition of what is seen as normal - it can be defined from two perspectives that do not coincide: mental health and normalcy according to norms of whatever society on one hand, and healthy development according to the needs of the individual on another. He is right to point out that most psychologists tend to take the first definition for granted and judge of normality in terms of how well adjusted a person is. Meantime Fromm proposes that the one who can't adapt often simply refuses to surrender to being socially what he is not personally - with resulting mental hardships, but for a good and sound reason. I might as well quote:
But even admitted that the study of individual behavior has such significance, one might question whether the study of individuals who are commonly labeled as neurotics can be of any use in considering the problems of social psychology. Again, we believe that this question must be answered in the affirmative. The phenomena which we observe in the neurotic person are in principle not different from those we find in the normal. They are only more accentuated, clearcut, and frequently more accessible to the awareness of the neurotic person than they are in the normal who is not aware of any problem which warrants study.

In order to make this clearer, a brief discussion of the terms neurotic and normal, or healthy, seems to be useful.

The term normal or healthy can be defined in two ways. Firstly, from the standpoint of a functioning society, one can call a person normal or healthy if he is able to fulfill the social role he is to take in that given society. More concretely, this means that he is able to work in the fashion which is required in that particular society, and furthermore that he is able to participate in the reproduction of the society, that is, that he can raise a family. Secondly, from the standpoint of the individual, we look upon health or normalcy as the optimum of growth and happiness of the individual.

If the structure of a given society were such that it offered the optimum possibility for individual happiness, both viewpoints would coincide. However, this is not the case in most societies we know, including our own. Although they differ in the degree to which they promote the aims of individual growth, there is a discrepancy between the aims of the smooth functioning of society and of the full development of the individual. This fact makes it imperative to differentiate sharply between the two concepts of health. The one is governed by social necessities, the other by values and norms concerning the aim of individual existence.

Unfortunately, this differentiation is often neglected. Most psychologists takes the structure of their own society so much for granted that to them the person who is not well adapted assumes the stigma of being less valuable. On the other hand, the well-adapted person is supposed to be the more valuable person in terms of a scale of human values. If we differentiate the two concepts of normal and neurotic, we come to the following conclusion: the person who is normal in terms of being well adapted is often less healthy than the neurotic person in terms of human values. Often he is well adapted only at the expense of having given up his self in order to become more or less the person he believes he is expected to be. All genuine individuality and spontaneity may have been lost. On the other hand, the neurotic person can be characterized as somebody who was not ready to surrender completely in the battle for his self. To be sure, his attempt to save his individual self was not successful, and instead of expressing his self productively he sought salvation through neurotic symptoms and by withdrawing into a phantasy life. Nevertheless, from the standpoint of human values, he is less crippled than the kind of normal person who has lost his individuality altogether. Needless to say there are persons who are not neurotic and yet have not drowned their individuality in the process of adaptation. But the stigma attached to the neurotic persona seems to us to be unfounded and justified only if we think of neurotic in terms of social efficiency. As for a whole society, the term neurotic cannot be applied in this latter sense, since a society could not exist if its members did not function socially. From a standpoint of human values, however, a society could be called neurotic in the sense that its members are crippled in the growth of their personality. Since the term neurotic is so often used to denote lack of social functioning, we would prefer not to speak of a society in terms of its being neurotic, but in terms of its being adverse to human happiness and self-realization.

The mechanisms we shall discuss in this chapter are mechanisms of escape, which result from the insecurity of the isolated individual.

Once the primary bonds which gave security to the individual are severed, once the individual faces the world outside of himself as a completely separate entity, two courses are open to him since he has to overcome the unbearable state of powerlessness and aloneness. By one course he can progress to "positive freedom"; he can relate himself spontaneously to the world in love and work, in the genuine expression of his emotional, sensuous, and intellectual capacities; he can thus become one again with man, nature, and himself, without giving up the independence and integrity of his individual self. The other course open to him is to fall back, to give up freedom, and to try to overcome his aloneness by eliminating the gap that has arisen between his individual self and the world. This second course never reunites him with the world in the way he was related to it before he merged as an "individual", for the fact of his separateness cannot be reversed; it is an escape from an unbearable situation which would make life impossible if it were prolonged. This course of escape, therefore, is characterized by its compulsive character, like every escape from threatening panic; it is also characterized by the more or less complete surrender of individuality and the integrity of the self. Thus it is not a solution which leads to happiness and positive freedom; it is, in principle, a solution which is to be found in all neurotic phenomena. It assuages an unbearable anxiety and makes life possible by avoiding panic; yet it does not solve the underlying problem and is paid for by a kind of life that often consists only of automatic or compulsive activities.

Some of these mechanisms of escape are of relatively small social import; they are to be found in any marked degree only in individuals with severe mental and emotional disturbances. In this chapter I shall discuss only those mechanisms which are culturally significant and the understanding of which is a necessary premise for the psychological analysis of the social phenomena with which we shall deal in the following chapters: the Fascist system, on one hand, modern democracy, on the other. [1]
__________

[Note 1]. From a different viewpoint Karen Horney in her "neurotic trends" (New Ways in Psychoanalysis) has arrived at a concept which has certain similarities with my concept of the "mechanisms of escape". The main differences between the two concepts are these: the neurotic trends are the driving forces in individual neurosis while the mechanisms of escape are driving forces in normal man. Furthermore, Horney's main emphasis is on anxiety while mine is on the isolation of the individual.
One useful thing I got out of my messing with computers is speedy typing - it does not bother me to transcribe from the page. I only do it for texts that are important to me though - things that bear repeating, as they say.

There is much I don't agree with in Fromm. He is a theoretician through and through and the picture he draws looks a bit too neat to ring true. But with all that he is able to point out some things that make a lot of sense - where upon I immediately forgive him all the surrounding theorizing.




Are all dreams one single dream?

.It turns out that I keep dreaming the same thing essentially over and over again - the landscape of the dream is what the dream is made of: in dreams events and landscape are the same thing - it is only in day-time reality that we believe that being in Paris is different from being in Cairo, and it does feel different, but the dreamworld knows better and the dreamlands, for all their apparent diversity, represent being per se. That's what dreams are always about: being.

I woke up early today (was probably waken up by somebody else's alarm-radio blasting through the open window), so early in fact that I sort of collapsed after a bit and slept some more - and dreamed ferociously and violently.

Now that I am back in day-light state I realize that I've just continued in the same dream from this night (dead kids). Events were all different but the landscape... Aha - the landscape told me it was the same dream. And what's more, I realized that all the dreams I can remember from past months have exhibited the same pattern (or landscape - because it's the same thing): I am walking in the "backyards" (sometimes of great city buildings, sometimes behind some countryside dwellings, sometimes luscious villa-like gardens, or mountains around some town etc) and there are alleys or paths going in different directions, crisscrossing, and I am always engaged in this intense, all-important quest for the "right" path - because I never know which of the alleys leads where, and whether I am allowed to go there, whether it is a dead-end or something else etc. The intensity of this search-walking is incredible. I always end up in some sort of all-important situation - it can be an intense meeting with some people, it can be walking through a pile of dead corpses, it can be finding myself in a mind-bogglingly beautiful garden (of Eden, no less), it can be getting hopelessly desperately lost (where upon I usually wake up, there is never anything after the realization of a dead-end)... It's all the same dream - or the same game - played out over and over again. The landscapes are only seemingly different: in fact it's always the same thing, only changed (fuck: what a perfect metaphor for life).

But the most important is the search and the paths - the incessant, driven, directionless walking that happens in my dreams, even though the intensity of inter-personal relations that surround all this appears as the focus of the dream - but I might say that the swarming human emotion is the more conscious logos-like part of dreaming; the real meaning is hidden in the pattern (landscape) where it all happens.

Even in my few dreams about Wittgenstein last december (heh, I was impressed) there was this most intense search-walking pattern.

But it's practically useless to analyze dreams. It's like analyzing everything about one's life - no matter how you try there is still too much rolled up into one single rolling-stone: yourself, your life. And it's all fucking meaningless - no matter what those wise ones want you to believe.




Full stop.

Not going anywhere at this point - great time to have periods, what can I say.

***

Nightmares due to anxiety. Today woke up in horror after taking a deep-sleep walk among dumped corpses of dead children somewhere in the backyard of my consciousness. What the fuck...

***

It's not normal that I should fume so much over this philippino carwash thing. About as obsessive as the Unabomber himself. Had to go visit my parents to diffuse the anger somehow - talked about various things, trying to forget, it didn't really help.

Nevertheless something prevented me from going beserk - I am glad I didn't do anything just yet, because the sources of this rage are not really due to anything specific. The anxiety itself goes far beyond whatever obnoxious facts. Could be related to hormonal variations, but could as well be something worse - like the consciousness of a dead-end and not being able to break loose.

***

I am a sleep-walker. When I am very anxious I am known to engage in a lot of automaton activity at night. Since I live alone it's impossible for me to say when I am sleep-walking or not - but I am pretty sure it must be happening from time to time.

I think sleep-walking is an indication of a pretty enormous gap between subconscious and conscious life, with the latter not fully in control. In the sense that the subconscious tends to take over. It doesn't only happen in sleep - most of my conscious life is actually directed by very unclear and unacknowledged impulses. Anxiety might be one form of this.

Basically, I have no idea who I am - and what's more, I live as if I were not exactly myself. There is something else and that's the more important part. It's a sort of double-life, another identity shadowing the visible one.

***

Under these conditions it is improbable that I will ever find any sort of peace and quiet - a very losing proposition.

Sunday, August 01, 2004



The usual.

Saturday was fully rainy - it poured buckets all night long and throughout the day. It was so damp I preferred not to use the computer. I don't know how they deal with that sort of humidity in tropical countries but it can't be good for electronic stuff. I thought what it would be like if I were camping in such weather - would probably feel more like swimming than camping.

But I love days like that - all human activity is completely paralized, there is practically no one in the street and the only human-made noises come from passing cars. Plus it's beautiful and the smells are wonderful too - all that greenery is breathing heavily, you can almost feel it.

In other words - fuck people, long live trees and birds.

***

The philippino carwash is again going full-speed today - because it's a beautiful sunny day. And these cocksuckers are glad to spoil it with all their fucking cars packed in the driveway. FUCK. Interestingly enough, they decided to cover up the noise from vacuum-cleaning by operating the lawn-mower at the same time - oh boy, how thoughtful of them.

I don't know - I have a hard time seeing these people as fully human. They've been clearly told that their activity is bothersome to tenants, but rather than stop it and go fuck each other, they invent "strategies" to keep it going.

Heh. I mean, what can I say? There is nothing to say. I guess I will have to risk it and do some additional vandalism which is dangerous, because I am sorta notorious in the philippino community by now - they all gossip like hell among themselves, so when you have a problem with one of them, it turns out you have a problem with the whole fucking philippino-land.

Man, I wish there were a civilized "nice" way to deal with these fucks. I guess that guy who was talking to them was a bit too nice - that's the whole problem, they need to get scared, otherwise they just don't get it.

Strategy: paint FUCK YOU on garage door and splash the rest of the paint on the car belonging to the janitor of that building - rather than slashing tyres and risking the balloon-going-flat noise.

I am really mad now.

I better do it as soon as possible otherwise I'll keep seething and fuming in vain out of mere procrastination. The fact remains that this whole shit did not exist before - power-struggle between two philippino janitors, heh. Take one away and shit develops immediately, the law is powerless and nobody can talk any sense into them. FUCK.

***

On Friday I went to the Salvation Army store and got myself a whole bagful of clothes - I tried repeatedly to find some jeans there in the past but for some reason there was never nothing that was remotely fitting. This time I had a better time, or maybe they got more stock, in any case I blasted $25 bucks - 4 pairs of jeans, light sneakers, a velvet shirt and a sweater. Couldn't find any shorts though. It's amazing but shorts are really hard to find for cheap except for some fat-cow styles which I hate. Anyway. I am thinking I should probably stop worrying and take off with what I have - the sneakers are really light but in case of rain I could probably wrap some plastic bags on my feet which should work fine in terms of waterproofness.

I hope the kind of rain I've seen yesterday won't be returning for another two weeks at least. I will have to ask my father to feed the cat in the meantime, for lack of better solution. Which means I won't be able to go for more than two weeks, and even that is stretching it a bit.

I am still a bit vague about this whole idea, but something tells me that there is no need to plan anything - the most important is just to take off in a certain frame of mind and let things take their course.

One funny detail: the tarp sheet I was able to get is bright-blue in color and it bothers the hell out of me because it's way too visible - I'd prefer green for camouflage purposes. I have the feeling that most of my camping experience will involve hiding from prying eyes somewhere along the road - therefore camouflage is really important and I might regret not paying attention to such "details" as the color of the tent (tarp). Need to follow my intuition, I guess, and try to find that green color after all.

And I still need to get some bug-repellent - most importantly.

***

Ok. Please dear God let me fuck those asshole philippinoes up their fucking ass. Amen.





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