Empty Days

Saturday, October 16, 2004



Wishful dreaming.

I had probably quite a freudian dream where i found a bike of the same model as the stolen one - some backcountry guy had exhibited it in front of his shack and when i asked if I could take it, he was very willing to give it to me but made a demonstration of the state of the bike: it was all crooked and abused out of shape which is why he was not riding it anymore and neither could i.

The freudian elements are obvious - the fact that the whole positive thing was happening in the countryside (and then proved irrelevant), and the fact that the bike was in such bad shape (disappointment). Not to mention that I actually dreamt of finding my bike again.

I suppose the very vivid portrayal of the bad state of the look-alike bike somehow symbolizes my helplessness in regards to the woes that befall me, and the countryside is that mythical place in my inner lore that never realized its promise.

The unpleasantness of the dream was compensated by involuntary imagination upon waking up - I saw myself catching up with the thief riding my bike, kicking him to the ground and beating the shit out of him - what's more, as i pushed him right into traffic he was also run down by a passing car. Nice!

Friday, October 15, 2004



Three seasons.

As the plains are very spacious, the allotments are easily assigned. Every year they change, and cultivate a fresh soil; yet still there is ground to spare. For they strive not to bestow labour proportionable to the fertility and compass of their lands, by planting orchards, by enclosing meadows, by watering gardens. From the earth, corn only is exacted. Hence they quarter not the year into so many seasons. Winter, Spring, and Summer, they understand; and for each have proper appellations. Of the name and blessings of Autumn, they are equally ignorant.

Tacitus, Germania




Sancta libertas.

The other slaves are not employed after our manner with distinct domestic duties assigned to them, but each one has the management of a house and home of his own. The master requires from the slave a certain quantity of grain, of cattle, and of clothing, as he would from a tenant, and this is the limit of subjection. All other household functions are discharged by the wife and children. To strike a slave or to punish him with bonds or with hard labor is a rare occurrence. They often kill them, not in enforcing strict discipline, but on the impulse of anger, as they would an enemy, only it is done with impunity. The freedmen do not rank much above slaves, and are seldom of any weight in the family, never in the community with the exception of those tribes which are ruled by kings. There indeed they rise above the freeborn and the noble; elsewhere the inferior condition of freedmen is a proof of public liberty.

Tacitus, Germania




victus inter hospites comis.

No one distinguishes between an acquaintance and a stranger, as regards the rights of hospitality. It is usual to give the departing guest whatever he may ask for, and a present in return is asked with as little hesitation. They are greatly charmed with gifts, but they expect no return for what they give, nor feel any obligation for what they receive.

Tacitus, Germania




Lebensraum.

It is well known that the nations of Germany have not cities, and that they do not even tolerate closely contiguous dwellings. They live scattered and apart, just as a spring, a meadow, or a wood has attracted them. Their village they do not arrange in our fashion, with the buildings connected and joined together, but every person surrounds his dwelling with an open space, either as a precaution against the disasters of fire, or because they do not know how to build.

Tacitus, Germania




Runic script.






The badness of this place.

This is a place of suicide and lost hope; of conflict and hatred, revenge and helplessness; theft and murder. It fights against me and I fight against it - but this place will defeat me because it shaped me.

Looking through the glass darkly - too darkly to see.

Thursday, October 14, 2004



Valor.

The most glaring disgrace that can befall them, is to have quitted their shield; nor to one branded with such ignominy is it lawful to join in their sacrifices, or to enter into their assemblies; and many who have escaped in the day of battle, have hanged themselves to put an end to this their infamy.

Tacitus, Germania

Wednesday, October 13, 2004



The moral universe.

My disconnection from my place of dwelling has increased to a state of near-dereliction after that fateful attempt at liberation. It's always been bad enough, now it's even worse. I can't even force myself to do the laundry. This is a bad sign, because it reminds me of that suicidal british penpal who lives in his own house yet hates it so much he doesn't even take the garbage out for months on end. This is as bad as it can get - he told me he can't get to the windows because the mess is piled up so high and wide it'd take a whole week to just make a passage through. It is said that when a cat ceases to groom itself, something is wrong with it. Same for humans. No will to live that's called.

*

Rationally speaking, I should kill myself pretty soon instead of trying to hang on for no good reason at all. Let us be frank here - the value of human life is a very relative notion. The world we live in does not value human life, no matter what it blathers to the contrary - it values human potential and general productivity (the notion of standards of living or quality of life is intimately linked to this basic concept). Being a failure in these terms effectively puts you outside of any human structure. So why bother? Rationally speaking, there is just no reason to. Ergo...

*

It is said that Japan has the highest suicide-rate per capita. Some say it's a myth but I don't think it is - it's statistics. The myth may be about why stats are so high in that department. It is well-known that the japanese have sold their soul to the devil of productivity - perhaps they've always been like that, but it's also possible that in olden days it wasn't such a big problem: because society was less individualistic and quality-of-life oriented. The problem of productivity vs individualism is that one doesn't justify the other. It's too insane to spend your entire life trying to achieve some pre-programmed quality-of-life when you actually hate that life and yourself with it. People need some higher ideals to work themselves to death for - a PC or a TV in every goddam room of your goddam house won't cut it for you, there needs to be a good reason for all that insane effort at reaching the standards. The problem of the japanese is that they've lost that reason - they've sold their national soul to the international demon of money-making. Now their young are killing themselves over it. Why this doesn't happen in the West at nearly the same rate? Because we allow ourselves to slack off and drop out - scores of people drop out instead of just killing themselves and it's even a glorified deed in a way, to be a drop-out. The cult of the marginal and all that shit. The japanese can't get away with that - their culture just won't let them.

*

This is how we see it here in the West - we truly believe the world is supposed to be a moral universe based on moral justice. This vision generates such thoughts as: "why can't i just walk into a hospital and exchange my miserable life for the life of that mother of four who is dying of cancer? Wouldn't that be only fair?"

Of course life is not like that at all, but that's what's in our heads: such moral bullshit.

"Rationally speaking" comes from the same source and follows the same logic - it's a moral logic, as all logic always is - surprisingly enough...




Went biking a bit around town - due to incredible weather. It will only last a few days and I already missed half of those, so this is the last I see of splendid autumn. The gorgeous lush 100-yrs old trees in the rich area nearly made me cry as I remembered how easily they destroy any beauty in the poor areas like ours - these people here are too dumb to worry about such trifles as the natural world around them, all they care about is cash-cars-sneakers, and I am not even exaggerating. The landlord might be an asshole but the tenants are hardly any better. Ah fuck - I hate this world and I can't escape it, that's all there is to it really.









The myth of Prometheus in modern rendering.

It was deathly cold last night - but the day is full of shine and warmth. This is Indian summer.

As long as I dimly hoped I might still go on another bike-trip, there was some sort of sense of worthwhile purpose, something to wake up for in the morning. Now that it's gone for good, every morning I have to face the whole story of my life yet again and ask myself the one question I can't answer: what for?

I know by experience that I can turn away from that question shortly after awakening - for as many days as there are in a year. I also know that it will wear me down soon - it's like that eagle who kept gnawing at Prometheus' exposed liver, it kept him good company for countless years of being chained to the rock.

What for? What for? What for?

To feed the eagle.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004



Jacques Derrida is dead - good riddance.




Welfare state.

SEATTLE (AP) - Mary Kay Letourneau, who spent 7 1/2 years in federal prison for child rape, told CNN's Larry King she is planning to marry the former elementary school student she had sex with. Letourneau, 42, said no date had been set for the wedding to Vili Fualaau, who was 12 when their relationship began. She told CNN she and Fualaau, now 21, share "a deep spiritual oneness,'' "a compatible sense of humor'' and a "perspective on life.''

Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Des Moines, Wash., and an unhappily married mother of four in 1996, when she began having sex with Fualaau. When Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was already pregnant with Fualaau's daughter. Though Letourneau professed her love for the boy, a judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from him.

A month after Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car. She gave birth to Fualaau's second daughter behind bars. She was released Aug. 5. A judge last month granted Fualaau's request to lift an order barring Letourneau from contacting him. He has also said they were planning to marry.


I still can't believe this story - every time I hear about it, I can't believe it. This is the world we live in, the very essence of it. There is no social contract in this society of ours - all we've got is the rule of the law, and this law is blind. A machine. Who's the cow and who's the butcher...




Games in nature.

Runes are what is called sacred script - where letters are taken as signs whose meaning extends far beyond the morphology of the written text. The shape of the sign itself carries an indication of meaning - this is why reading runes is a meditative process, of interpreting the world on the basis not of logic but of something else besides. How does a rune-sign feel? Free associative thinking is in order.

*

The worst enemy of rune-reading is set meaning. To get out of the trap this kind of approach creates, one first needs to look at the signs themselves and try to see how these signs are shaped and how the shapes relate to each other.

In the preceeding example the right-most rune means "year" - or harvest. Obviously the sign itself supplies its deeper meaning: the cyclical nature of change in life, the passage of time, one thing coming after another, revolving wheel-like repetition.
It also looks plain enough that this sign is related to the one in the middle - which is Kenaz, the light of torch-fire. The rune Yera is made up of two Kenaz signs - one is "closed", the other is "open", and this shade-n-light succession is indicated as equal in itself, it's a revolution of darkness and light, night and day, winter and summer, closing and opening, mystery and revelation, weakness and strength.
Then there is the left-most rune which is Sun (Sowilo). In its shape it is also related to the other two signs - visually it appears as a modulation of the triangular sign of Kenaz, or a different arrangement of the bits found in Yera. One way or another, Kenaz which is the sign of illuminating fire, appears in the three runes at once.

This is how one learns to read runes: looking at what is written and how it's written, without words. From the standpoint of words, this combination of signs would read "S-K-Y". Does it matter? Not really I think. What matters is that there is fire in the three runes - and thus light. Also, in a purely visual way, one can see that Sun and Kenaz are written "open", the line itself is open on both ends, and if you try to draw these signs yourself you will see how it feels to write that kind of line - it's a willful movement. While Yera is already like a prelude to composing a closed circle, a closed line, an enclosure, the trap of time and fate, but still it's not closed completely - changes, taking the pen off the paper, two lines to draw, opposites are not linked - they are linked in Sun.

*

There is an implied philosophy to runes, they're not just vague meaningless lines on some surface. There is a history of meaning - these signs come from somewhere, they have a heredity, they take you somewhere you haven't been to before. What can be understood is slim because of the modern conditions - we too have a philosophy, whether we want it or not, our fundamentally implied vision of life. We don't really know what a "harvest" is because we live by formal calendar made up of numerical dates instead of by how the world feels when seasons change. We have clocks on our walls that read time for us - but this time is not real. I don't think it'd be possible to understand the meaning of that runic "Year" without first forgetting what a clock even is. Slim chance of that. We'd also have to forget what "week-end" means - not going to happen except for spending a few years away from all civilization.

Likewise, what does "Sun" mean to us? It simply means that you can get a tan if you go outdoors often enough. There is no direct line that can be drawn from Sun to human. The force of light is not direct - because we don't quite need it, with all our electricity and illuminated streets at night. The full meaning of the word "Sun" has been lost quite a bit. Can you believe that? Right.

Same for fire - the light of that torch. But the darkness is never complete enough - and the warmth of fire is not the only one we can get - there are rechargeable batteries and generators. You need to be a firefighter to even encounter fire on a regular basis - otherwise the closest we come to fire is during a barbecue grill. Something like that. It's never dark enough to appreciate what a fire-torch means.

Therefore everything we understand about runes is already extremely far removed from their most basic original meaning. And this remoteness is not of the rational from the spiritual - it is rather purely physical remoteness from the natural world - we replace it by an intellectual approximation of understanding that is neither true to its object nor particularly relevant. It doesn't serve us well that we firgure out why it is that lions hunt in group and when exactly they mate - it's entirely irrelevant to what life is and how it happens. And yet we are convinced that by knowing all this we somehow understand nature better - while in fact we have ceased to understand it at all. Quite amazing, really.

I am not saying all this to exhort some hypothetical idealist to look for a way back-to-nature. There is no such way - quite simply. However it serves well to describe under which conditions our fundamental philosophy arises and what it's based on. And how we can relate to runic meanings from such premises - we can't really, let's be frank here.

But we try. We can catch an echo of the meaning here and there. That's all I am hoping for. The rest is bound to be some psycho-babbling crap - because there is nothing else left really.

*

Another area of the vision of life that has been lost pretty much for good in our times is the notion of what is sacred. There are things we truly love - that's as far as we can get in terms of what is holy. Outside of that all has been sold out to the intellect. To the purely rational mind nothing is or can be quite sacred. Once again, it's hard to see how the Sun could be "holy" - we might mimic that feeling here in there but if you want to take a peek at what this aping looks like, look no further than certain New Age ideas or all the pagan-revival lore - it's a lot of imagination, inventing things out of thin air, and then pretending it's important.

This too is pretty much a done deal - once something like that been lost, it's gone forever, unless you forget who you are or move to another planet altogether. The notion of sacredness cannot exist separately in an individual mind - it has to draw from some surroundings. Our environment is devoid of it by definition.

Therefore we cannot grasp the sacred dimension of the runic signs. All we can get at is symbolism. Which is an intellectual approach at heart. Devoid of the natural and sacred dimensions, modern interpreting of the runes is thus doubly skewed - we play with portentious signs but we cannot grasp them.

The meanings of the runes were given to Odin after he's hung on the tree of Yggdrasil for 9 days pierced by his own spear. It's not just a vague symbol of some vague shamanic initiation: try to bleed for 9 days from an open wound under open skies without food or water and your understanding of the "symbolic" will change quite drastically, I am sure. We don't do that on the internet - we simply click on symbols and hope to understand the universe.

Therefore psycho-babble it will be. And all the rest with it. Such is the extent of my understanding. No one to bless me. No one to bless.
Amen.






Monday, October 11, 2004



Reality as a construct.

I am mostly wrong about how I explain what happens around me - my conclusions are strictly logical and absolutely skewed. In fact I often lack basic information to make any conclusions whatsoever yet I still go ahead and just invent the whole logic practically out of thin air.

Why do I do that? I can't tolerate the unknown - having no control on what's happening. Yet I never know what's going on and have no means to discover the truth of a situation - so I just invent an explanation, out of fear that I might never know otherwise.

That's a strange way of dealing with reality but I am so disconnected from it in any case that any construct or explanation would do. Writers do too: they invent a simulacrum of reality that seems utterly convincing - simply because all characters in that made-up world of theirs are subject to the author's will. Perhaps that's why people write books in the first place - to vindicate their utter inability to understand and control reality.

Sunday, October 10, 2004



Russia - copyright.

For a long time runet (russian internet) has been a sort of giant free-library full of copyrighted books generously scanned by some kind zealots for the enjoyment of a new internet generation.

Recently this whole concept seems to have taken a giant blow due to a barrage of law-suits perpetrated by some ambitious money-making site intent on keeping those copyrights for itself. I think some popular authors have also resorted to such lawsuits against some online libraries - I don't know how successfully.

The problem is though: while this approach might make sense for relatively well-off populations in Moscow and St-Petersburg, for the rest of the country (which is pretty huge btw) forbidding free access to online reading would be equivalent to taking away any chance to read those books at all - because they're out of price and the local library won't get them either as it has no budget in any case.

Interestingly enough these free-online libraries work on a sort of community-cooperation basis - scan the book and send it in for posting. The oldest of these libraries operating since 1994 http://lib.ru gathered a huge collection of books by this method - it is *the* library of the runet and it looks totally ugly because it's all text-based - but with masses of people still connecting at 28k this is how it should be.

To put it shortly - this is not some wanton exploiting of internet resources, it's really a cultural community movement based on sharing rather than greed. There are no banners, commercial ads, or whining for donations. I don't know how these servers are financed though. I think some ISPs provide space/bandwith due to popularity of the site - which is their way of participating in the community effort.

While most of the well-established online libraries practice the policy of immediately removing any material if the author contacts them for copyright-violation, I guess it still causes some problems because once a book has been put online it is sure to be copied and distributed elsewhere by individuals rather than big online libraries - letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

Curiously enough however, the internet generation in Russia is different from its american equivalent because people are still willing to read huge books online - the mind-numbing 15-sec attention span is not applicable. And while in the West a similar movement developped around MP3-sharing, in Russia it's actually mostly about books - music matters too, but books matter most.

A quote from the owner of lib.ru regarding copyright:

I'd like to reference a few well-known articles about how the internet rejects the artificial introduction of the copyright law by the government. Fortunately, the law-making in this country is not completely governed by some american legal precedents ;)
A few intelligent people on the net are of the opinion that a rigid copyright enforcement hinders development instead of helping authors to make money.


I do agree.





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