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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Intolerable  §

The whole thing right now is intolerable. Ridiculous.

Things  §

“Independence” = “Capitalism”

“Independent” = “Capitalist”

You cannot change what someone wants by telling them what they should want instead. You cannot change what someone wants by telling them they’re spending too much time wanting it.

By this time in life I think I’ve formed far fewer ties of any kind with other human beings than are normally formed by most people my age. In a way it’s too bad that the universe doesn’t offer tracking data on this sort of thing, because I’d be interested in seeing numbers.

People want to be understood.

No one on earth has ever been understood.

Two different people can ask the same thing, or even the same person can ask the same thing at two different times, and it can have such radically different meanings as to have life and death implications.

Context, nonverbal cues, and even subverbal cues are critical.

It seems as though this is an obvious thing to say, yet even though people will readily posit these things (well, most people—sane people—people who aren’t idiots), most people don’t actually imagine that it applies to them, nor do they put into any kind of practice the kernel of applicable truth that this knowledge represents.

When I was young I imagined adults to be knowledgeable and responsible. Now that I’m in my 30s, I realize that virtually all of them are spoiled children lying through their teeth and trying to have as much dessert as they possibly can.

Mostly they’re just greedy overconsumers with no clue that they’ll be dead someday not so far away.

They think that’s silly talk, that what’s not silly is cash, cash, cash and ass, ass, ass and toothy grins and posing, and that what’s not silly is to pursue these things to the exclusion of all else (except possibly Abercrombe goods) day in and day out, night in and night out (the last more common than the rest).

Global warming is fashion; extinction is theatre; war is mis-en-scène; reproduction is entertainment.

In another time and place I would have been a shaman or a monk. In this society I am just the bearer of “most certainly not true” bad news, and an insistent and incorrigible one at that.

All days now blend into one another. All sights now dim. All plans dissolve into signs and wonders, into heliography and hagiography.

I have become someone else yet again, and of course more similar to myself than ever before.

There will be rain once again in New York today.

Over the last couple of days  §

I’ve been really determined to try the “entrepreneur” thing again. After all, I have tons of knowledge and specialized web skills and I’m no idiot, and I’ve been writing professionally about things like custom manufacturing and selling for years now.

But every time I start to think about it (like today), I get really disgusted by the level of middlemanhood out there, and the level of deception. People are making a killing selling “master reselling rights” to public domain items. There are whole forests of fairly involved “objective review” websites that “rate” online sellers and their goods/services (usually a single individual and their middleman “business”), and of course a DNS query shows that dozens of these review sites, which invariably rave about one company and pan the rest, are actually registered and created by that very same person (with no mention of the fact, naturally). And of course the top watched lists on eBay are littered with piles of “how to get rich online” CDs containing poorly assembled, thin information; the sales pitches that sell them are clearly written by someone with no education and no skills except the skill to dupe others, and yet these things end up doing high volume and getting high attention and make their lazy, scheming, uneducated composers rich.

To make just a little extra money online the honest requires rather a lot of work. Volume will be low, and you never even sniff getting “rich.” And yet these other people are pulling in six or even seven figures with what to me seems like unethical huckstering and fraud, just because they’re willing to screw their fellow man (usually needy, financially hurting fellow man, in the case of many of these products) in order to line their own pockets.

The scum gets rich. The regular guy who just wants to do good work or produce and sell something of value gets nothing. Hard work and mostly poverty. Capitalism at its finest.

Capitalism at its finest.

Then I get discouraged and walk away and pop a beer and think maybe it’s time to go back to my academic work for the day, because I have absolutely no stomach for capitalism or for money.

If only one of us is happy and it’s me,  §

I’m a narcissistic bastard for being happy when others are not. If only one of us is happy and it’s not me, then… it’s better than nothing because then at least one of us is happy.

There must be some way to find a middle ground, some kind of compromise so that nobody has to be unhappy.

Summer 2009 is like Summer 2001  §

Here’s the thing. The air around me is in a state of disaster right now. The walls are crumbling and the floor is accumulating water and silt at a rate of an inch or two a day. A cold wind is blowing, and wild overgrowth is overtaking everything.

I have to fix this.

There is something of a watershed moment, a climactic moment building in my life right now. I don’t ask for it and I certainly don’t like it and I don’t quite know where it’s coming from or what’s driving history—my history—in this particular case, but things—my things—can’t go on like this.

I feel misguided, mistuned, and misorganized. I feel as though all of the techniques, skills, experience, and habits that I have spent a lifetime accumulating are no longer adequate to the task of together constituting my life. I’m like an animal that’s outgrown its shell and has to find another. The current one will suffocate and destroy me if I don’t make changes to my being and my lifestyle.

I’ve spent years running my life intuitively. I always knew what needed to be done, a kind of mental list, and time and details didn’t bother me very much. I kept busy and by keeping busy, at length everything always got done. In often seemingly random order, certainly, but without omissions or issues. I’d steal some sleep here, a bag of chips there, maybe lift weights for a week in May, change the motor oil in the car when it “felt old,” clean the house when it “felt dirty,” and pay my bills when they “felt due.”

Everything always worked out okay.

But now I see myself sliding. One of two things is clearly true: (1) my life and/or life dreams are more complex than they used to be, or (2) I am getting old and mentally and physically feeble and am less able to manage than I used to be. Either way, things must change.

I keep saying that, I know. But at this point the actual stuff of the change remains largely in the realm of experimentation. When everything that works for you starts to work less well for you, it takes time to find what to replace it with.

I only hope things don’t get too out of hand before I catch up to them. I have far too much to lose and far too much to gain to be feeling this approximate, unguided, experimental, or vague.

I want my old self back—the one who knew everything and got everything done.

Transcendental exponential integral reciprocal  §

The best periods in my life are marked by the sense that every day is a new field of opportunities waiting to be seized.

The most trying (and least healthy) periods in my life are marked by the sense that every day is a new series of tests that must be passed and hardships that must be survived.

It is necessary that I find some technology by which to assert an equivalence between the two, by which to prove to myself that such an equivalence exists. Once I understand at a deep level that these things are identical, I will never again have trying (or less healthy) periods in my life.

For my wife, the future slides seamlessly into the present. The “now” and the “then” lie along an entirely unmagical and uninteresting continuum. You say to yourself “I will do it” and then you “do it” and then it is “done.”

Future -> Present -> Past

Seems very simple.

For me, however, this is a strange and transcendental operation that I can not yet reliably carry out; it is rather like the turtle that walks halfway to the lake, then halfway again, then halfway again. The distance can be halved an infinite number of times, yet the turtle arrives at the lake; he has thus carried out an infinite number of tasks, yet in finite time.

In calculus, limits take care of this, but in the creaky human consciousness—my creaky human consciousness—this is unfathomable. I seem to plan infinitely and remember infinitely. My present is inevitably filled with planning and remembering.

I am completely unsure how anything at all happens, and it seems strange and miraculous to me that a future should actually “arrive” at a present and then “become” a past.

In fact, this is one of my greatest weaknesses. Not “procrastination” per se, but the inability to find the moment at which “now” begins—the moment at which one acts.

At times I feel as though I spend my entire life waiting for this moment. It is coming; it is right there; the anticipation is unbearable; the air is pregnant with waiting.

Then my wife walks in and says “Well, do it!” and somehow in that moment the future magically becomes the present; her statement marks the beginning of “now.”

It seems a peculiar sort of mental shortcoming that I find myself wondering whether, in the absence of my wife, I would spend the rest of my life waiting for time to begin, never once realizing that it began without me and is sliding past and away, out of sight.

The older I get,  §

the more paternalistic I get in my feelings about women.

Yeah, women will get pissed off about this, and then ten minutes later they’ll trot out the “women are stronger than men” nonsense, or the “women are more peaceful than men” junk, or the “women are more rational than men” myth.

We’re living in an ideologically matriarchal era. But that’s okay. As a mid-’30s guy, I’ve had just about enough of what women think or say to fill the rest of a lifetime.

At some point, men will lose patience once again and we’ll go back to the way the world once was.

Somehow we’ve all been convinced that the disagreements are about the ways we say things, the natures of the interactions, the things we do and don’t do and how we go about doing them, whether it’s appropriate or not, whether it’s sensitive or not, etc.

But that’s an ideologically bound move to begin with. The disagreement can’t be resolved simply by talking more softly, or more loudly, or by listening harder to the thunder when communication is in one direction by being as quiet in response as you can be when communication is in the other.

It’s time to stop being fooled into thinking that the problem is the presentation, that if you become a better rhetorician or more sensitive gender-neutral sort, everything will work out and everyone will be happy. What will happen is that all of your concerns and desires will be lost forever while you’re busy being nice and being patient. You’ll be complimented for utterly losing yourself.

And then you’ll die.

“Women are stronger than men?”

What shit. What a semantic game. According to what definition of “stronger?” Who gets to decide? What women are better at is being women. Much better.

Great!

I’m still a man. I’m not embarrassed by it, I don’t want to take it back or undo it, I don’t want a sex change operation, I have no interest in adopting or owning or finding my femininity.

I was raised by women, I have no problem with women being women. What I have a problem with is a world in which men are expected to be women and women think that the main cause of unhappiness in their lives is that more men aren’t more like women.

No.  §

Yes.

Maybe.

Probably not.

Probably not.

Decisions, decisions.

Membership.

Exclusion.

Futures.

What appears like the ravings of the insane to the “regular people.”

Every day it becomes more clear just how “they” got to be “they.”

Scary.

Funny.

Pointless.

This week I have given up.  §

I just don’t care anymore. Caring was costing me too much.

I had a very productive day,  §

and nothing bad happened. Everything should be fine.

Why am I struggling not to be down?

What do I really want?  §

What is going on inside my head?

Everybody else putters around knowing what they prefer to do at a given moment. I, as always, am conflicted.

Maybe loathe to have a discussion with myself.

I develop a kind of “what I want conventional wisdom” that is really more about greasing the wheels of sanity and social interaction than about being happy our pursuing goals.

I’m always afraid to spell out my goals. I’m afraid to even know what they are. I’m afraid that having them in the first place will lead me to misery.

Better to close one’s eyes and proceed uncritically.

The fabled courage of youth appears increasingly ephemeral and naive with the progress of age.

Everyone else—  §

everyone else gets smiles, attention, and respect for free. For me, however, it depends on my ability to follow instructions—often contradictory instructions—to the letter. And if I deviate from them, I get hostility, and can only watch others get the affection from afar. And if I mention this state of affairs, that is definitely counter to instructions and grounds for more hostility, less attention, more insistent instructions.

I have the worst deal on earth. I would have had more love if I had remained a stranger, one of the “unprivileged” masses.

Most people are completely  §

ideologically compromised, nowhere more obviously than in confusing personal “strength” and “weakness.” The things that they equate with “strength” (i.e. “sucking it up,” separation between public and private, etc.) are actually serious weakness requiring no backbone whatsoever.

The things that actually require strength—asserting that you are a real person with a real life, standing up for yourself and your loved ones despite consequences—they equate with weakness.

I am here to say, and I say in public:

It is strength to stand up for yourself, even if it means you are fired; it is strength to live your personal life, even in a public place where it’s under scrutiny or where it reduces your status; it is strength to be the very same person both at work and at home.

It is weakness to “suck it up,” to take the easy way out by playing cool or “being one of the crowd” (read: peer pressure) at work; it is weakness to separate your public and private lives.

This weakness is one of the primary dominating modes of capitalism.

I am strong. I refuse to have a public self and a private self. I refuse to sacrifice my family for my job, or vice-versa. I will stand in the wind and be hated and ridiculed for as long as I am alive if necessary.

There is no public me, and there is no private me. There is no “single me” as separate from “married me.” There is no “employee” as separate from “person.” I am one, whole human being, and those who dislike it can take my salary, hate my guts, label me, mock me, tell me I refuse to grow up, tell me I’m dysfunctional or mentally unstable or any of the other things they want to tell me.

I refuse to bow or to sacrifice myself or my loved ones on the altar of capitalist ideology. I refuse. I have emotions. I have them all the time. I have loyalties to personal relationships in my life. I have them all the time. They will always outstrip my loyalties to organizations, companies, third parties, or co-workers, and I refuse to get confused about that, to lie about that, or to willfully suppress that in myself.

I am the radical rebel of all radical rebels; I am the bane of society; I am the end of the happy employee; I am the insane of the insane; I am the biggest problem the world has ever seen: an ideological break.

I rule. I, alone, rule, even if from an impoverished death bed. The rest of you aren’t alive, were never alive, and will never be alive. The rest of you are products and caricatures.

I alone exist. I alone earn respect. And I don’t respect anyone that has passed out of my life for failing this test. And fail they all have in the past.

I am incredibly proud of the way that I have lived my life.

I’ve never sacrificed anyone I cared about in order to serve my own ego, my own fears, my own need to belong, my own need to sustain myself with a wage, or any other reason. I’ve never sold anyone out for any reason.

I’ve never recanted in any belief. I’ve never been untrue, never been a hypocrite, never cried myself to sleep about what I “had to do” as opposed to what I “wanted to do.”

I’ve met every challenge until I was ready to not any longer, and then, I have gone.

Nobody can say these things. Nobody. Me. There are very few others.

Luhmann has it exactly right,  §

for all useful intents and purposes, there is no such thing as an “individual.” The “individual subject” is an essentialist metaconstruction that inverts the functional operation of the system. We don’t exist for each other; what exists is interaction, which, in the absence of subjects, can be reduced to communication.

All other individuals are merely the sum of the information that we receive from them. No more no less. We don’t have a “relationship” with some essential “them.” What we have is a stream of information with metaproperties. change the volume or meta-information of the communciation, and both the relationship and other subject in question, which we essentialize, actually become as flexible as air and water.