Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't think about it.

Think about it: "it" being anything.

Think about it because you have to.

Consciousness has to be about something.  It always has a direction.  Consciousness cannot exist on its own.  Consciousness is a relationship, not an entity.

Think about it.

Because you have to.

So how does this effect experience?  Dismissing the infinite reduction of defining consciousness of something as an experience in itself (are you conscious of the conscious experience of that something?  are you conscious of that consciousness too?), we see that consciousness is the antithesis of experience.  The necessity of being about something requires consciousness to be dependent on time and perception (intangible ideas are also perceived).  Experience or being or existing is an absence of time.  It is an infinitesimal pinpoint of pre-reflection.  Perception, and thus consciousness, is reflective: you are always a nanosecond behind the perceived.  Consciousness is temporal and rational and ephemeral; existence is timeless, irrational, and foundational.  Consciousness is a means; experience is an end.

I don't wish to minimize the enormous importance of consciousness.  Our ability to consume our immediate environment, chew it up and regurgitate bite size pieces of meaning allows me to shit in a toilet instead of the dirt and to communicate with pixels instead of rocks.  What I am trying to say is that the packets of information, the ones and zeros, the rational articulations of otherwise meaningless atomic relationships that constitutes the intentionality of consciousness is not a state of being.  We are so wrapped up in the creative usefulness of the objects of our intentions, we lose sight of their purpose: that our forks and knives, our two-party systems, our dogmatic deities, our investment portfolios, and our misplaced and overanalyzed personal identities should enhance being.  They are means.  The goal of these and all conscious intentions is to eliminate conscious intention; to become pre-reflective.  The goal is to be.  

So don't think about it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm back but nothing I say means a damn thing.

I'm back for what that's worth.  Back in the sense that I am writing today.  The experts are in deadlock whether I'll continue tomorrow.  There is speculation, odds, percentages, gut feelings, but in the end no one knows if I'll be back. 

But never fear.  What I don't say carries the same weight as what I do say: nothing.  My words are meaningless.  My blank space is meaningless.  What you get today is what you'll get tomorrow.  Meaninglessness is perennial, omnipresent, a trusted friend.  Meaninglessness is ironically something you can have faith in; a place to hang your hat when Jesus' or Buddha's coat rack isn't quite the right size.

Why am I meaningless?  A better questions is, what does meaning mean?  A hammer is a hammer in the context of nails and buildings and people who use nails to make buildings.  Otherwise it is wood and metal.  Of course, wood and metal carry their own meanings.  So it is atoms and electrons and neutrons and other microscopic round revolving shit that meet to form hard, heavy, and cool.  And, of course, hard, heavy, and cool require someone or something to perceive it. 

Meaning is relative.  It is shared patterns.  It is tones in conflict that, if left alone, would simply be a monotonous alarm but together mark Beethoven's Fifth.  For the little black pixels that make up letters and sentences and paragraphs and pages to become a thing, a hard, heavy, and cool ideological hammer, I need some kind of nail.  And I need something to build.  

The problem is I have nothing to build.  I have no nails and no direction.  I have fingers tapping out some unknown code whose origin is still not clear.  I am not building I'm exploring.  There is no relationship to my words.  They exist as they are because whatever I am exploring (me?) exists as it is.  My words are as meaningless as my silences and my silences are as meaningless as me.  They simply exist just as I simply exist.  

Or at least I wish I could simply exist.  I wish I wasn't a description to those who know me nor a calculation to those who don't.  I wish I ate spinach and believed "I am what I am."  In the end, I wish that my meaning was derived from my being and not the other way around.  I wish what I say really doesn't mean a damn thing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shitter Ontology

I would like to provide you with a little insight into my inner dialogue.  I was taking a crap at the local massage... place? ("Massage parlor" makes it seem like I entered and exited with dark sunglasses and a hat covering all hints at my identity.)  On the wall in front of me was a picture of a cat in Japan.  I thought to myself, what's it like being a cat in Japan?  My inner asshole responded with:

"What the hell do you mean?  A cat is a cat!  It shits, fucks and eats."
"What I mean is, the basics have to be different, right?  It's in Japan.  There has to be unique feline cultural differences."
"It just means it shits, fucks, and eats in Japan."
"But the resources must be different.  What if it gets injured?  Would it be treated differently than here for better or worse?"
"If a cat gets injured, it shits, fucks, and eats with a limp."

What I believe my underlying existentialist dick wad was telling me is the level of consciousness I assume a cat has is inadequate for a personal narrative.  Its identity is biological: an entity that fills this space and requires these resources (food, sex, territory, affection, etc.).  The cat is not burdened by hope or aspiration or expectation.  A broken leg doesn't represent lost days at work, inability to ski or surf, or an opportunity to learn guitar.  To a cat, broken leg means "I feel pain as I do these chores of daily living."  The pain, and more importantly the dysfunction, is now.  It is not a representation.  It exists.

I want to be a cat.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my consciousness, as well as my sub- and unconsciousness.  They provide a great deal of entertainment and distraction.  The near random meanings they apply to the non-existent directions my life can motivate me.  My consciousness, and more importantly my self-consciousness, allows me to expand.  It makes me ten to the tenth.  

The problem is that in the end, we're all going to die.  And sometime in the middle we are all going to suffer.  That suffering is bad enough in itself.  It doesn't need to expand.  I don't want the burden of the implications of my suffering to push the actual pain beyond its borders.  I just want to shit, fuck, and eat with a limp.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I apologize for my absence.  I've been vacating, both literally (vacation) and figuratively (coughing and spitting and aching and snotting and hiding and complaining).  But I'm back for what it's worth.

My wife and I were talking about forgiveness yesterday.  I, of course, charmed her with the knowledge I derived from Matt Damon movies.  In discussing the impetus for pardoning those responsible for South African apartheid, Mr. Freeman informed Mr. Damon (and thus me) that forgiveness is the ultimate weapon (it may have been Nelson Mandela who said this but I'm not splitting hairs).  My initial thought on this statement was that it is a bunch of bullshit.  If one is wronged in a life altering way (i.e. as a victim of racial segregation and the violent consequences that follow) the proper response is a beat down of the perpetrators, both literally (i.e...well...a beat down) and figuratively (i.e. policies and procedures that ensure a loss of personal freedom and integrity. As an aside the word "justice" is a derivation of revenge not equality.).  

This is of course not a sound ethical response.  It does however, feel good.  Why does it feel good?  Because it helps relieve the tension created by the impenetrable anger that betrayal creates.  If I am wronged in someway, the effect it has on my life is magnified: the drop of objective alteration ripples into a riptide of subjective anger and resentment.  My life becomes plagued by a need for vengeance.  The problem is, the relief of a beat down doesn't last.  It's like drinking away your sorrows: you will sober up.  The anger will return.

Morgan was telling us that the true power is to let it go.  To forgive.  Forgiveness isn't necessarily hugs and kisses and servitude.  The forgiver tells the forgivees that they don't have control.  What they say or do has no effect.  When I forgive you, it says that I am independent of you; your actions have no meaning in my life.  For human beings whose lives and self-worth a wrapped up in meaning, forgiveness can be an attack.  Forgiveness can be a beat down.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I have a shitty theme song.

I listen to music as I run.  It turns my head right side in.  It percolates meaning through the bland rhythm of my Nike's.

I listen to King's of Leon and the Raconteurs and in my head I am covered in mud sliding and dancing between other sliders and dancers on the grassy knolls of Grant Park during Lollapalooza.  Or I listen to Binary Star, K'naan, and Mos Def and I'm throwing beats down with Jay-Z at the MTV after after after party while Beyonce stares at my ass.  Or I take up arms with Rage Against the Machine and One Day as a Lion and plant elbows and fists on The Man as he tries to bring this brother down.  Or I construct the ultimate drama with the tragedies of Zoe Keating filled with love, tears, crisis, and happy endings smothered by unhappy endings.  

So stuck in my head, I don't realize how long I run.  I look up and find I'm home.  The music stops and the earphones come off.   My true theme song, the one that stacks the grand scales of my intoxicating life, should soon blare down from the heavens, engulfing everyone in the magnificent show that is me.

And then I realize, no one but me is listening.  I open the door, walk upstairs, take a shower, drink some water, eat some dinner, and watch some TV.  The music never starts.  At least until my next run...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My imperceptible bond to a jolly old fat man

I love David Hume for multiple reasons: he was a genius, he was perfectly round (not that I promote obesity and its enormously deleterious effects on our health care system, but it kind of worked for a short, 18th century, ultra-sociable philosopher), he loved backgammon and beer, and he quit philosophy because he was "too old and too rich."  The thing I love most about him, however, is his understanding of cause and effect.  Essentially his thought was cause and effect did not exist (anyone that is a Hume scholar will shit their pants and throw their computer across the room at my bastardization of one of the greatest Scottish minds - a mind only one step behind that of Mark Harris.  To them I say 'shut the hell up, it's my blog.').  Cause and effect is a temporal ordering of a timeless set of events.  It is us manufacturing order and meaning.  We create the "necessary connection."

Consider a billiard ball hitting another.  The second bounces of a in predictable, linear manner.  My daughter has never seen a game of pool.  To her, the white ball hitting the black ball and the black bouncing off is an isolated event.  The single case yields no connection.  It is simply an event.  It is over time, seeing numerous balls hitting other balls (yes I chuckled a little) that one develops a connection.  In other words, we create the connection and then define it.  Potential energy becomes kinetic energy following the repulsion of electromagnetic forces inherent in the balls (I laughed again).  

What are these other than words to define the unknown?  What is energy?  Force?  Power?  What is honor?  Freedom?  Justice?  What is love?  These are varying definitions of the space between cause and effect.  They are our way of placing order on the world, a world that without our order driven consciousness would simply exist.  Not change, not progress, just simply exist.  

We live in that space between cause and effect.  And it is that space that we as a medical field need to look to truly treat our patients.  Smoking causes cancer causes death.  My patient doesn't derive meaning from smoking, cancer, death.  S/he derives it in between.  As a physician I create a cause (surgical excision) to alter what I suspect would otherwise be the effect (cancer elimination instead of growth).  I define that space between smoking, cancer, death through science.  But my patient may define it through art, religion, social bonds, etc.  The point is, it's the same space no matter how we define it.  We can't forget that the meaning is arbitrary and subjective whether by scientific experiment or spiritual intuition.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Living in minutia, but dreaming in the abstract

I was thinking about what it takes to be a soldier.  To kill.  A universal morality is topic for another day (another lifetime?) but, for sake of argument, we can say that in Western society, an anti-killing morality has persisted to the point of genetic modification: killing another human being has a negative visceral feel to it.  I would like to think that I can defy the moral load on my genetics and kill in certain situations that clearly call for it.  If someone threatened my family, I KNOW that I could ravage them without thinking.  That knowledge is so lucid that in a Nietzschean eternity, I would see it as one of the few definitive points in my life.  A singular hinge of truth.

I would know all this objectively.  But would I truly feel it?  Would I be able to dismiss the fact that I killed?  I live in the minutia of my life: breakfast, work, play, dinner, sleep.  This is me.  I am these actions.  But my mind is an abstraction.  It lives in concepts and phrases.  It is global and not particular.  What happens when the minutia is in conflict with the abstraction?

It is easier with solid objects: my daughter and my wife.  A threat to them is a threat to a tangible thing.  But concepts of freedom, honor, justice are not.  They are murky abstractions of what we think we value on a day to day basis.  Shooting someone in the face is palpable; weighing the loss or gain of freedom is not.  

Let me make something clear: I am in no way judging the actions of our soldiers over the last few days.  Let me rephrase that: I do judge them but in a positive and grateful way.  I believe they did a remarkable service for those who suffered and need closure.  What I am talking about is how it may affect them; what it means to be a soldier.  Maybe being a soldier is not about the act of killing.  Maybe it is about being able to grasp the intangible in a way that the untrained cannot.  To essentially live in the dream of freedom, honor, glory, justice.  This is in no way a criticism.  In fact, it is a representation of my jealousy.  We need meaning.  These abstractions are the heart of meaning.  Living in them in them and by them seems to me to be a dream come true.