Post-holiday de-decorating for another year is now done. Everything looks very strange and spartan. I suppose we’ll get used to it all again. It will probably be easier for the kids to adjust than it will for me.
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Every now and then I have this earth-shattering realization.
Today it came as I was carrying a garbage bag out from the kitchen to the large garbage can in the carport.
Few things feel as good, as right, or as edifying as simply getting your shit done. Your regular, everyday, nothing-really-special-about-it, shit. Taoism and Buddhism have long known this. Chop wood and carry water.
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Where have all the deep thoughts gone?
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© JurriaanH / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Beauty is a matter of balance—polished and brushed chrome, thick toughness and flowing softness in leather, red and white and black, male and female, caring and rough edges.
The conventional eastern wisdom, which isn’t necessarily wrong, is that you can’t have beauty without ugliness because only given the one does the other become recognizable and exist as a concept.
I think you’ve got to go further than this and say that beauty is always essentially redemption. It is the only beautiful thing known to humankind; it is the essence of beauty and the essence of why it is appreciated—because it speaks to the possibility of our own redemption.
For this reason, for beauty to actually be beautiful, it must actually also embody, upon inspection, ugliness. Beauty has not just flaws, but evils, wrongs in it. Without these, we make the distinction that guys often make when talking about supermodels: “Objectively beautiful, gosh, so beautiful—and scary, cold, maybe even evil. Do not like.”
The reason perfection-as-beauty is ultimately seen with suspicious, fearful eyes is that it conveys the opposite message: “This kind of beauty can only be attained if no redemption is necessary.”
That takes it out of the realm of the human. Perfection is fine as perfection, but it has no resonance, no warmth. It doesn’t call do us. It isn’t that “warmth of the fire of one’s own mortality” that Benjamin talked about.
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I have to read more Benjamin. I have to read more of everything.
I love kid lit. But also fuck kid lit.
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Making choices is hard.
One thing rather than another. I mean, does it get more catastrophically existential than that?
Free will (or its illusion, if that’s what we have in the end) is a massive curse, the evil at the core of the human experience and at the core of the human heart. Who invented this shit? In the same eastern notes described earlier I’ll say that it would be better for all had it not been invented.
Leave us our mortality so that things remain meaningful, but free will? Only because it exists do we fear its opposite. But it does, and so fear it we do. But seriously, tyranny, crime, hate, immorality, etc. all exist only because free will.
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I feel sorry for all these broken people I’ve known over the years.
Broken, torn apart, wrongheaded, suffering. Suffering deeply. Not even knowing it. So many people like that. I want to say that Los Angeles is composed almost entirely of people like that. Probably other places, too.
People whose own souls hate them, crying out in torment that the experience as doubt, and beat down and silence mercilessly. They are wrong, wrong about almost everything, both completely morally depraved and yet also, by virtue of ignorance, almost entirely innocent anyway.
You know that they are destined to suffer forever, that they are already damned. You can’t reach them, the real them, not even for a moment.
I don’t think there’s a name for it—I haven’t heard one—but it’s the quintessential modern disease.
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I’m falling alseep. So that’s all.