Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: March 2006

to you (and also the long-awaited post-mortem)  §

As my eyes were drying out I realized that I hadn’t answered your question about NYC. Not being one to want to leave any task undone or question unanswered, I begin with that:

Chances are 75% that I will move to New York in August or September. Another 20% say that I may go in December, since I can defer once until spring if desired, and it might make financial sense for me to do so by some calculations. The remaining 5% of probabilistic options consist entirely of those that mark a complete departure from anything that has gone before. In all likelihood they are 1% each of: joining a Buddhist monastery, moving to Taiwan, service time in an NGO/NPO, a photojournalism internship, or resuming writing full time in complete earnest to the exclusion of all else.

What is now clear more than anything else is that this is the year for me to decide, once and for all, whether I will pursue further academic endeavours or not. It is the moment of truth, the fork in the road, and whichever I do, I will do without ever looking back. Until the decision is made, I will remain in a kind of liminal state.

And now, on to the main feature.

Post mortem

I’ve made a habit of writing about my life here over the years, including those moments that mean something. Anyone who has been alive for a time understands that there are moments in life, now and then, that are not unlike inflection points in the calculus, points between which inversions or relative inversions can bee seen to take place, and which are all too clear upon objective examination or in retrospect.

The last point of inflection for me, clearly so from the moment I lived it, happened as I drove home in the darkness and rain at 5.something in the morning on the last day I worked at eBay in 2003, closing the period that began on November 19th, 1999. At the time, I wrote

“It’s been three years, five months, two weeks and a day since I was last comfortable in the least in my life, such as it is (or was). I don’t know what I’m looking for now, so I’m certain I won’t know when I’ve found it. It’s early in the morning. I am again a one-man show. It is raining.”

I have expected the next inflection point for some time now, have felt it hovering around me as I awoke, only to disapper once my eyes were completely open. Tonight it has arrived, thanks to someone who has been very dear to me, and to whom I owe a great deal. As is always the case, in the interim everything has happened. I had expected this post to be much longer, now that the moment is here, in front of me in the middle of the night, and I can smell the dew on the window screen, I realize that only a few things need to be said.

First and foremost is that I have found it.

Chicago was the kind of experience that I’m glad to have had and that, god willing, I will never have again. I have shaken hands with lumnaries and been lectured by the famous. I’ve put bubbles in the Princeton fountain and sat on the subway in the early morning scribbling papers out on a notepad. The school made me and it broke me and will continue to break me.

And through it all what now stand out are the grey days and dim nights alone, spent walking in the rain amongst university gothic limestone, listing to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and Neubauten’s Ich Gehe Jetzt, lost in a dream from which I shall never entirely recover. Chicago has brought to me an endless haunting. I’ll have it until the day I die, and for that I am both grateful and cursed.

This word for this epoch in my life is indeed the dream. It hasn’t been anything else.

I left Chicago in June ’04 for Portland, and there I waited for the new love I’d found to arrive while I shot pool and swilled beer with my brother, my oldest friend. When she came, the game was on, or so I thought, but it never really got started. Instead, limbo and liminality have followed me ever since, I always waiting for her, she always avoiding me.

For two years I’ve waited, here and there, never sure why I was waiting or quite what I waited for. Now, tonight, missing the person that I love and not knowing whether one dream is already over, I realize that I have been waiting and looking for this: to decide, with certainty, on my identity. Academics or no? The choice is mine, but it must be made, soon. Either selection will launch my adult life, finally. Late, but better so than never. I’ve waited since birth for this very year. In the meantime, much has been lost:

– My job
– My home
– My financial security
– Several dreams
– My car
– My motorhome
– My cameras
– My respect for Chicago the institution
– Yet more of my naiveté
– My love, above and beyond all else, unless somehow we can be reunited

But in the meantime, it is tonight, fittingly, raining once again, and Fleetwood Mac plays here as though it is an elemental component of the air in this room — the room I grew up in and the room I’ll soon leave again in short days for the capitol of the world.

I don’t know if she’ll be there with me or not. I don’t know almost anything at this point. But I have faith, in myself and in the air I breathe. It is a beginning, not an end.

And in a tableaux strangely in keeping with my past, I am sitting here in flickering flourescent light, window open, surrounded by Proust, a Sparcstation IPC running the hop lock, a bottle, bamboo, and a camera. May the future bring me more of the same.

End epoch, end post-mortem. As I’ve said here before, and will no doubt say again,

I will win this game called life.

“Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
It’s only right that you should
Play it the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost…
And what you had…
And what you lost…

Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
They say women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and…
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost…
What you had…
And what you lost…”

here goes nothin  §

Every woman I know will hate me for posting this, but someone just said this to me again so it’s time to answer the question in light of recent national news stories.

“Why is it that every time a woman says a man raped her, everybody’s initial reaction is to assume that she’s lying?”

Okay, it’s simple. Here why.

Under the current judicial system, the accused is legally assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Because this is the material basis under which we live, our personal assumptions and discussions tend to follow the same logic. Therefore, if a woman has a accused a man of rape, and he must be assumed to be innocent until it is proven that he is guilty, then it follows that we must assume that she is lying until she proves that she is not. It’s definitional.

Once she proves him guilty, then we will be happy to hang him from a yardarm, hopefully. But until proof is presented, the assumption flows the other way according to the social contract as it is currently embodied.

The only way around this is to fight to create a special “guilty until proven innocent” statute and cultural bias in the case of rape accusations. In some ways, this is already close to existing, but is only employed in practice by 50% of the population: women. I have a feeling that it’s going to be difficult to convince men, who have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose under such an exception, not oppose a legal change to that effect. Most men find the prospect of such a world very scary, given the way that people behave sometimes when they are hurt or feel wronged.

In combination with the myriad communications issues in rape cases (“He raped me!” “She kissed me first, and she never said no!” “Once he started, I was too scared to say anything!”) and the evolutionary and cultural forces that work to maintain them (“I’m sorry, I’m just not attracted to you, I need a strong man.” “He took me right there in the bus stop. Neither of us said a word. It was so sexy!” “He’s so awkward… he actually asked my permission to touch me. Ugh…”), I doubt it would be a just or fair world if this were to be changed anyway.

Yes, I know — what does it matter if it’s fair, when many innocent womens’ entire lives are effectively at stake through no fault of thier own? Well, the man’s answer is — by changing the system so that men are assumed guilty, we only change things so that many innocent mens’ entire lives are at stake through no fault of their own. In short: sex isn’t fair, gender relations are always hard, people will always get hurt, and the gender wars are coming, sooner or later, probably about the same time that the much-heralded culture wars turn hot.

And as an aside, for those other people who’ll say that no woman would ever falsely accuse a man of something as serious as rape, thanks to the superiority of femininity, or solidarity among the community of women, or whatever… Please. Grow the fsck up and don’t make me laugh. People falsely accuse people of everything. Men and women, every crime imaginable, all the time. People are vindictive, and just try asking any man whether he thinks women are even moreso than men.

Beneath all of this is the assumption held by many women that all men are actually rapists at their core. It’s not a matter of if, but when, for every man. This is not the case, but there is absolutely no way to convince many women of this fact. In a western world in which children are increasingly raised without exposure to benevolent adult males, and in many cases are raised by single mothers suspicious of them, the attitude will persist. And before anyone starts talking about how it’s because all fathers are deadbeats, let me say that my personal life is full of fathers who aren’t, and there are many women out there right now setting out specifically to avoid the presence of men in their child-rearing endeavours. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing in general, but it’s transparently evident that this does have the effect of creating children for whom adult males are foreign, the other. We all know how the other has been treated throughout history. In the case of the growth of girls into women, it breeds fear and hate. In the case of the growth of boys into men, it breeds confusion and self-hate. And lest any reading females jump on this with “Good, men could use some self-hate,” let me tell you that self-hate is not what you want the men of the world to have. Know what it leads to? The field of psychology knows well that pervasive self-hate in men leads to deadbeatness, frustration, crime, violence, and yes, rape. It’s not a shock or unique to men. Any marginalized, self-hating group will behave badly, whether the group is defined by gender, ethnicity, nationality, or anything else.

Maybe what we should do is stop media sensationalism and not dissect news stories like this one for six hours a day well in advance of trial or even preliminary evidence.

But of course that’s a man’s perspective. As I’m sure all of my female friends will now point out, in a world of anger and hurt at my having posted this. Sorry girls. I still love you all. But I am a man and am not secretly getting a sex change, or secretly gay, or any of that other stuff that would make me more permissible. I really am just a man. 😛

So, it is happening.  §

The expected but unthinkable is happening. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has been ordered to try to vacate the results of the Iraqi election (you remember: the one that they claimed made all of this shit worthwhile and proved that things were “going well”) because of course it is now obvious to anyone watching that the Iraqis have voted for terrorists, and we don’t work with terrorists, so until they’re ready to vote the right way (snark), they just won’t get to vote any longer and we’ll put our own people in charge.

This comes just hours after allegations (supported by all sides — journalists, workers, natives) that we have begun terrorizing mosques and killing the women and children inside of them, all in addition to our support of the Death Squads that are roving around the country killing and beheading people by the dozen.

So, out of the deal the Iraqis ultimately have won an externally-imposed murderous tyranny (as opposed to Hussein, who was at least one of their own and preserved order well), the destruction of every facet of their society, property, and safety, and the injuries or deaths of 33x more people than died at WTC — not that the two are connected (they’re not, the Iraqis had nothing to do with it, but the Administration used this lie as their justification for invasion, or one of the many anyway, each of which has now been found to be a lie).

Great Satan? You decide. I know I have.

ON the home front (forgive me, I’ve just been driving around the city listening to local news), a “ring” of youngish women is currently burgling the entire valley by simply walking from place to place, door to door, and taking what they want, then pooling and liquidating it for cash. Some have been caught. Apparently, they believe that it is an owner’s responsibility to lock his items/house/car up, and if he or she doesn’t, then that counts as a failure to maintain ownership on their part, and young girls should be able to take whatever isn’t nailed down, since they’re just trying to get ahead like everyone else and it’s only fair and they can’t see what the big deal is it’s not like they broke the law or are hurting anyone or anything.

God Bless America.

  §

alone once again 🙁

very few people i can turn to in this world. in fact, i feel like i turn to people too often sometimes. maybe tonight is just to grin and bear it. i am going to new york and i am going to be a prof and someday i am going to have a medium sized apartment and a little television and i am going to watch news about how the polar ice caps have melted and watch the football games of my alma maters.

it’s not much, but it’s about what i can make happen, and it will be mine.

tomorrow  §

Hey there,
long time no see.
Last time there were drinks and we
were sitting underneath that shuttered window,
the evening storm against the glass,
wise old thing and raindrops, so
blue and made of aging sky.

I remember, smiling, we looked at each other,
shot wisecracks back and forth,
together uncomfortable kisses to pretend
the storm was us, breathless
blue and made of aging sky.

It’s you, right, that twinkle in your eye?

That person who
over the bar room din
had heard my confession,
had seen my sins,
had granted me my absolution,
as I watched the contours of you dance,
cool air between us, conscience
and a glance
that wrapped our hearts together
in gauze and silk and alcohol
and other things
all blue and made of aging sky?

Ah, no. I’m sorry. See, I thought
you were someone else from forgotten days,
weathered and comfortable,
a worn flannel coat for winter play,
where the leaves would reach out from frosted arms,
and the magpies would spy on our every breath,
all blue and made of aging sky.

Доверяй, но проверяй  §

What else is there to be said? And how many more times will I sit in the afternoon, looking at the sun, and thinking he is a bastard and a reactionary?

After a long period of feeling as though I’ve been tumbling or running, I now feel as though I’m learning again, and as though space is opening up once more for me to pursue creative ends. That’s sort of how I work, I suppose… I try to intuit the entire goddamn world and somehow hope that somewhere in there someone pays me for it.

Sometimes it leads to six books and three college degrees, other times it leads to poverty and heartbreak. That’s fine, I’d rather live on intuition and sense than on rules and principles prepared and printed by the ever-tyrannical majority (read: culture).

I had a great idea for a book earlier today, but now I’ve lost it. Hopefully it will come back, it’s still inside me somewhere… as are so many other things.

On to New York.

on how to live life  §

The most idiotic thing anyone can do is ridicule the ways happy people live their lives. You can morally disagree with their lifestyles, perhaps, without looking like an ass, but to ridicule them? Unless you are as happy as they are, it just makes you look small, ugly, and broken.

xiao  §

It’s always startling when someone you’ve relied upon without questioning it too much turns out to be indifferent at best or working against you at worst. It sort of makes mortar decay and bricks fall.

Humf.

  §

I don’t do this very often, but I dreamed endlessly last night. All one big, long sad dream that didn’t end until I woke up. It spoke to a lot of the issues I’m having in my life right now, both in obvious and non-obvious ways.

Sometimes I wish I was a believer. I could use the community and the ritual today.

Life is sad. And it’s also short.

pushkin wei  §

Suffering and happiness are each intolerably beautiful — the twentieth century proved that to its every subject, beyond a shadow of a doubt. We must be careful now, in the twenty-first, not to lose both through misguided praxis.

disappearer  §

So many parts of my life and so many parts of my past feel so very far away… as though they don’t even belong to me anymore, and never did. So many things seem so dream-like right now and I am so incredibly busy…

I suppose this is the pre-post-mortem, but what I see since 2003 is nothing but continuous 180-degree reversals in my life, over and over again. How is it that one ends up oscillating in this way? Don’t most people pick a path and stay on it in one direction? How is it that I manage to create inversions over and over again from thin air?

Month 1: rely on A, let go of B
Month 2: rely on B, let go of A
Month 3: rely on A, let go of B
Month 4: rely on B, let go of A

I am a pendulum. But most of all either I am a ghost or many of the people I “know” (or at least used to know) are ghosts, like photographic portraits of people with their backs turned that you see around town, or in library books: you stare in disbelief at the image because you are sure you recognize the head and the haircut from behind. The face is just on the other side of these — only there is no way to see it, ever, because it isn’t there. Try as you might, you can’t lean into the photo and see the front of them. And wait as you will, they’re never turning around again. But knowing this doesn’t change the fact that you shift yourself to and fro as though you could walk around to their other side. You stand there doing this for minutes in solitary silence, waiting to see if by some miracle you’ll see eye-to-eye once again, for old times’ sake.

But whatever they are looking at, it isn’t you. It’s away from you. It’s the unintentional opposite of you, whatever that happens to be. They don’t even know you’re there, looking at the back of their head. And then you begin to wonder once more, as you should (doubting your own sanity once you realize you’re daydreaming in front of some random photo), whether it’s even them at all.

“Buds breaking before winter’s festival
lavish the new year with countless plum
blossoms. Though I know spring means well,
how will I manage this wanderer’s grief?

Snow and trees share one original color,
and river wind is whitewater’s child. Old
garden… I cannot see my old garden.
Wu Mountain peaks crowd an erratic skyline.”

I don’t understand, and I am beginning to wonder.

Does anyone else hear erhu or gao-hu played and want to cry?b

From an old military man…  §

Well, well… It’s a mainstream author and ex-cold warrior who admits that the Cold War was a sham, the “red scare” little more than the manifestation of an imperial elite’s discovery that Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex was the most efficient mechanism possible for post- or late-capitalist global hegemony.

“So what kind of empire is ours? The unit is not the colony, it’s the military base. This is not quite as unusual as defenders of the concept of empire often assume. That is to say, we can easily calculate the main military bases of the Roman Empire in the Middle East, and it turns out to be about the same number it takes to garrison the region today. You need about 38 major bases. You can plot them out in Roman times and you can plot them out today. An empire of bases — that’s the concept that best explains the logic of the 700 or more military bases around the world acknowledged by the Department of Defense. Now, we’re just kidding ourselves that this is to provide security for Americans.”

“What we’ve done with our economy is very similar to what Adolf Hitler did with his. We turn out airplanes and other weapons systems in huge numbers. This leads us right back to 1991 when the Soviet Union finally collapsed. We couldn’t let the Cold War come to an end. We realized it very quickly. In fact, there are many people who believe that the thrust of the Cold War even as it began, especially in the National Security Council’s grand strategy document, NSC68, rested on the clear understanding of late middle-aged Americans who had lived through the Great Depression that the American economy could not sustain itself on the basis of capitalist free enterprise.”

This is a must read, not so much because it’s new information (it isn’t) but because it’s an establishment voice. He’s not entirely sure what he’s claiming — for example, he equates state socialism with military-economic imperialism in late capitalism and is essentially unwilling to differentiate between them — but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

i just don’t get it  §

women & men
men & women
women & men

on trying  §

I always try. No one in my life can ever blame me for not having made the effort. I always try. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes people don’t even give you credit for trying. But it doesn’t matter if they think you’re a bastard. If you’ve tried, then you know you did what you could.

Sometimes it actually works out. One thing that has worked out may be Ph.D. study. It looks as though there’s a 99% chance I’ll be heading east next year. Other things in my life are having mixed results. For a while, it looked like more grad school would be a part of this “mixed results club,” but it looks that’s not the case any longer — it looks like an academic future is indeed still on the cards.

In the meantime, I wish myself the best in all of the other areas, but as always, the fates will decide. I wish all of the people I love all the best in whatever they’re trying for, too.

aha!  §

After a really dark time, things are finally beginning to look up. Details soon, but for the moment, it’s enough to say that jobs and options are happening, it seems.