The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Tag: birth of tragedy

Fiction and the Abuse of Being

The idea of said story being that kids can’t handle non-fiction, that reading non-fiction in some way requires knowledge or context or understanding of issues, and that fiction, for whatever reason (and I have my suspicions) is more accessible and easy to understand, but that, in so doing, we get a negative feedback loop, where kids don’t understand the world, so they are given fiction, which then makes them understand the world even less, and understand fiction even more, to the point where the kids’ maps and schemas for interpreting the world are hopeless fiction-based, leading such kids’ to not even have the capacity to wonder how the real world is different from the culture-machine-narratives churned out by melodramatic-happy-ending-Hollywood-dreamers-who-still-believe-that-God-is-Pooh-Bear.

See, e.g., Baudrillard, hyperreality, the Matrix, map-territory fallacies generally, Plato’s Cave, etc.

One of Plato’s main complaints against the poets was this artifice, that if the way we live now is already watching shadow’s in a cave, artificial narrative then is shadows of shadows, and when art is based not on real life but on art itself, we have shadows of shadows of shadows, and eventually we’re just shuffling around in the dark, bumping into each other.

Someone said — an American Southerner I think, of the Old Early 20th, or possibly the late 19th –that they would have rather have one true experience than spend their days writing masterpieces.

Of course, a few quotes on writing goes the other way — Anais Nin saying “We write to taste life twice” or Tennessee Williams:

“My work is emotionally autobiographical. It has no relationship to the actual events of my life, but it reflects the emotional currents of my life. I try to work every day because you have no refuge but writing. When you’re going through a period of unhappiness, a broken love affair, the death of someone you love, or some other disorder in your life, then you have no refuge but writing.

Or William Saroyan:

The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.

Which gets to it, I think, and brings us back around to non-fiction, and a reply to Plato, which references Nietzsche’s view of Apollo in the Birth of Tragedy, namely that artificial structure, like a shadow-box constructed to view a solar eclipse, may be an integral part of the proper understanding of Deep Ontology, the Laughing Like Hell, the Good And Angry, the Living, and this final quote, from H. Thoreau:

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things.

Or a Styron quote about living many lives —

Of course, the danger of fiction, and the vicarious experiencing of other lives, is that we come dangerously close to Nozick’s Experience Machine. Action creates character, and to be a dreamer, and dream of an end to action, is an end to action, and an end to character, and a death in life. And though we all must act minimally to sustain the biology of our life (in DFW’s words, the map of our territory), by choosing to be a certain kind of dreamer, we go through the active portion of our life as though a sleep-walker — automatic motions, conditioned responses, learned from television, machine and slave-servants feeding the Soma so the mind can dream —

To live, to truly live, then, we have two choices, both requiring action, both requiring risk, and danger: We must wake up, either into our life, or into the dream. The possibility of Lucid Dreaming remains, the possibility of acting in a world that does not yet exist — but lucidity is difficult, more difficult than merely living. The subcreation of dreaming must be extended into the world, like Mother Atlas delivering the world kicking and screaming into the new place you glimpsed while sleeping.

The lesser path is merely to live, to be lucid in this world, as it is.

(of course it is no wonder so many of us fear lucidity; after my uncle died, I retreated from the reality that stripped the flesh from his bones, caused his body to eat itself alive, until the talking skeleton-body that contained him expired under the bright lights of a hospital womb, even as he was annihilated by a storm of pain and doctor-administered narcotics. Have I returned to that reality? Sometimes, in the arms of women, or after obliterating my forebrain and liberating my hindbrain through the actions of the good old Delta-9 (plant’s self-defense mechanism), listening to some song, or in the shower, when the constant attack of water droplets keeps me in a state of heightened awareness. Other times, when the struggle is painful enough, I retreat, to books, video games, stories, where someone else has made the hard choices and laid out the path, where all I need do is follow–)

Storytellers. Living. Dying. We all must do it for ourselves.


Classical vs. Ultramodern

I seem to have taken a classical turn of late, epitomized by Keat’s Ode, I suppose; let’s not forget that the purpose of electric light on heliotropic trees is to explore the effect of the ultramodern on the human soul, not to sink into the comforting memory of safe and easy Apollonian art, Yeats’ gold Byzantium. Cacaphony, the riots at the Rite of Spring, Spring Theory, and Deep Time and History, the Screams of Car Accidents outside my New York window, the High Definition Apocalypses contained and controlled by the 25-hour TV/Internet newscycle, the coming obsolence of newsprint, digital ink and digital paper, dine and dash mentalities, the New Socialism, the New President, Generation Y growing up and taking our seat on the crazy water ride, water slide, Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace with a solipsist gun in their mouth, Nihilism and Optimism, Walt Whitman Old and New, the End of Discourse, the Twist of Rhetoric, out-of-work lawyers, fierce beggars, venereal disease, electronic dance music, headphone parties, studio apartments, teenagers sending naked pictures of themselves with their ubiquitous high resolution cell phone cameras, the iphone and the Xbox, headstands and summersaults, psychadelic mushrooms, the 2nd largest city in Vermont, nationalized singing talent show, fat and endless bandwith, three word poems, the new haiku, automatic wordcounts, waterboarding with the American flag, Chrysler is bankrupt, Pig Flu, many lives, heat death of the universe, canceling the moonbase, the speed of light, the relativity of time, brane cosmology, brain surgery, positive and negative externalities, death and taxes, consumer space travel, bankruptcies and great recessions, 2nd act repeats, Karl Marx’s comeback, culture industry collapsing back on itself, a million chittering cells organize and then disorganize, organism then individual, what is law, what is the law, break the law, and scofflaw, information wants to be free, who said that, says Time Warner, a hacker you idiot, the Whole Earth Catalog, and he was right and you were wrong, charge what you want, toll-roads and advertising, the colonization of the human mind, a new kind of fascism, the freedom to starve, absolute poverty, disease, a warming planet, antarctica is melting, polar bears are drowning, trees are getting greener, and the city’s getting hotter and the worm is winding tighter, there are snakes on the plane, Lost is the island of Atlantis, the Garden of Eden is in Bahrain, every fall I put on my Jewhat and go sing in Sumerian, I know where we come from, I don’t know where we’re going, but maybe caves, 30 million Chinese people still do it, if I’m one in a million that means there’s a thousand of me in China, twist and shout, new souls — Before Sunrise and Before Sunset — and don’t trust anyone over thirty unless they’re already dead (Death makes one reliable) and you can’t change the future because the future is what will happen and and and conjunction junction what’s your function — putting words together and that’s my function and television is ubiquitious and computer screens are ubiquitous and cell phones and coffee shops and restaurants and Walmart and the fear of stinking death is ubiquitous – my father had a dog once he was called Ubi, he was the Ubiquitous Dog, because he kept showing up, what’s that supposed to be, profound or something, does the writer in my head make me a schizoid paranoiac? No, I doubt they’re after me, the Black Helicopter Police have bigger fish to fry than me, those Right Wing Crazies, Those Fascist Yahoos, lock up your children the homosexuals are coming, God hates butt-sex, but how does he feel about tit-sex? Unclear. Blowjobs? Blowjobs are ok if the person giving them has a vagina? Why? What does a vagina have to do with a blowjob? An interesting argument, I have there, Young Lawyer. Oh, go, there is studying to do, and more handstands and tumblesaults and summersalts and airplane rides and yogurt. Go, go, go, go, keep going, Ponyboy, stay yellow, Chicken, where we’re going we don’t need roads — oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.

dreams of elsewhere

sometimes I dream of Elsewhere, and the dreams are always strange, like dreams are, but doubly strange because of the utter strangeness of the place – the rooms and layouts of rooms change and shift — last night I climbed stairs and the building was on the wrong side of the street, and the stairs led to an upstairs apartment which sort of exists but does not exist —

when I wake from such dreams, I wake smiling, happy for the visit, and the beautiful strangeness of memory.

seems like dreams, dreams must have been the beginning of magic and gods and all of that back in the ancient past of our race, when everything was new and yet to be learned. Sometimes, in the gray shady area suspended between waking and dreaming, I am back there, to my own ancient past, when I was young and learning things for the first time. It is a strangely alienating experience, and it makes me think back to F.N.’s Birth of Tragedy, and the suspicion that all our knowledge and turning towards the world becomes, like the yellow pages of an old book left to the elements,  an ossified apollonian construct of foreknowledge and anticipation that blocks our view of the absolute dionysian reality underneath.

In the place between dreaming, the pages of my life fall away, and my soul is fresh and naked and exposed, and I feel the world pressing up against my self, and I experience it again, as if for the first time.