Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

To discover Sundays, you must first leave what you have known.  §

I went to bed far too early.

Thing is, I was falling asleep sitting up, in my office chair. Experience says that this doesn’t lead to a lot of phyiscal comfort later on, so sometime around 7:30 or 8:00 last night, I dragged myself to the other room and went to sleep after just enough reading to get the words swimming in front of my face, which is the point at which the transition to sleep is seamless and imperceptible.

Then, I woke up at 3:15 or so.

Now here I sit on Sunday morning, awake in the dark, alone, typing.

— § —

The blog was down for a few days again. It’s been a while since I posted, and I’ve been aware of that; a couple of times I pounded something out, but didn’t end up posing it for one reason or another.

Usually when this happens, it means that I’m just posting something to feel as though I’m posting something, rather than the compulsion being oriented toward the need to actually write thoughts. From the outside, these two things probably look the same, particularly given the ultimate content that appears here, but phenomenologically they’re quite different. So those things didn’t quite make it online.

But in any case, as a result of not having actually logged in, I missed the fact that the domain had been compromised again. Once again, I’ve uncompromised it. I’m getting tired of this, so I’ve also removed a bunch of old folders and directories until I can clean them up and put just the necessary parts online.

This means that images in some older posts will be missing. Hopefully I get them back online at some point. Hopefully.

— § —

Sundays are ciphers to me these days.

I have this cadence of being and experience that I go through, one that swings from intense sensation and perception to a kind of quiet near-non-existence. It happens on a two-week schedule. It’s organized around and by the presence of the children. In our half-and-half custody arrangement, their mom and I alternate weekends.

The Sundays when they are here are the climaxes, the apexes of day-to-day focus and attention—the days of my life when I am most intensely aware, motivated, and busy. The Sundays when they are not here are the nadirs of active being, the emptiest stretches of day-to-day focus and attention—the days of my life when I am least present to the world.

That’s the two-week cycle of my life. If we were to turn it into an aural metaphor, which for some reason seems appropriate, the Sundays when they’re not here are the most quiet. Then, over the course of a week, things get louder and louder until maximum cacophany is achieved on the following Sunday when they are here. Once that day passes, the noise falls away and we race toward silence again.

— § —

Race is the right term. Life is a race these days.

Not because competition, and not because tension or pressure. It is a race because time is passing ever-so-quickly. It is not imperceptible; the passage of time is visible and audible and sensable everywhere.

If you’ve ever been on an MTA subway train in New York City (if you haven’t, think of the Sesame Street song sketch from the 1980s that takes place in subway cars and is titled “On the Subway”), you’ve had the interesting sensation of sitting in place while seeing (thanks to the large windows everywhere around you) the world hurtle by at what appears to be insane speed, with lights streaking through your field of vision one after the other after the other, and the rolling roar and shudder of the cars filling every nook and cranny of space with the inescapable factuality of utter movement.

This is what life is like these days; it’s like riding the subway toward the end of things. Lots of ends of things, in fact—each end being another stop, with the end of the line to come somewhere after it all, at which time the recording will say,

“This is the last stop on the train. Everyone please leave the train, and thank you for riding with MTA.”

And as is the case on the subway, it’s not actually that the world is hurtling past you. It’s that you are hurtling past the world—but in your relative subjectivity, on the subway it tends to be hard to grasp the idea that it’s not you who are stable with the world sliding rapidly by in a blur, but rather the opposite.

That said, right now I am for some reason incredibly aware of the fact that it is me who is speeding toward the end of the line, leaving all of the experiences I’ve had while out and about mostly behind.

The wistfulness of going home on the subway at the end of the day matches the wistfulness of racing from Sunday to Sunday to Sunday as I age, end of the line still a number of stops ahead, but getting closer all the time.

— § —

This is one of the posts that previously didn’t make it online. I present it here for posterity:

Time, time, time. Time is lovely. Time is beautiful. Time is awesome. Time is everything. Time. Perfect. Technical. Impressionistic. Hard. Soft. Ephemeral. Concrete. Simple. Complex. I love time. I am fascinated by time in all of its guises.

Wristwatch time.
Clock time.
CPU time.
Time in physics.
Commentary on time.
Historical time.
Empty time.
Messianic time.
Healing time.
Little time.
Big time.
Memory and time.
Gravity and time.
Being and time.
Time, time, time.

There is nothing I love more than time. Having it, using it, bemoaning its exhaustion. Being blessed with too much time. Being cursed with not enough time. Everything in life in which time comes to the fore is meaningful to me, deeply meaningful, ecstatic, edifying.

I just . fucking . love . time.

I thought it was time to put that in a post. It’s been some time since I did.

— § —

I’ve been reading a lot. I haven’t been writing enough.

It’s hard to know what the gaps of writing indicate, but sometimes I think they’re a kind of impasse.

I write up to the point beyond which I’ll have to seriously reconsider or confront something. Then, I stop for a while, because who wants to do that?

Often at such points, I instead switch to reading, particularly works that occupy the unarticulated territory lying somewhere between creative nonfiction, self-help, philosophy, and psychology. I think that I’m trying to gather resources for the trouble ahead, not sure.

Particularly missing as of late has been writing by hand, i.e. actually writing, with a pen. This is something that I’ve always done, and when it stops, I really know that something is up.

In 2015 I was filling about one bound journal a month with writing done by hand. Now I am averaging maybe a page or two every six months.

What am I afraid to confront?

— § —

For many years, I was far left on the political spectrum, and considered politics to be a central pursuit of life. The personal was political, everything was politics, and everyone had to stand somewhere, whether they admitted it or not. I stood with Marx and the cultrual Marxists and with the American left more broadly speaking.

Intensely so.

Amongst the many things that my divorce shook free were questions about myself and the world that I wanted to live in (more importantly, that I wanted my children to live in) that I’d been avoiding, refusing to see, for a very long time.

The result has been a long, slow disavowal of the left—to the point at which I now reject it almost entirely. This doesn’t mean, however, that I have wandered right. I reject the American right almost entirely as well.

In part, it’s about a rejection of politics instead. A kind of realization that politics is pointless and wrongheaded. Rather than politics, it is moral philosophy that ought to be the central pursuit of life. A small, largely individual-and-small-circle way of seeing the world.

I mention this only because it has it has become clear to me just how homeless one is in the United States when one abandons both the “left” and the “right,” the “Demoratic Party” and the “Republican Party.” In a sense, I am pointing to what I believe is a deep pathology—the characteristic way in which moral and community life in the United States has become a purely formally political quantity.

Our way of being in society, our way of life is seen, instantiated, and enacted almost entirely through two political parties and the open warfare that exists between them. To reject both and refuse to participate is to cut oneself off from social identity and embeddedness in a very real way.

A primary driver in the “sickness of America” is the fact that America has become not a community of people, but a two-cylider dialectic engine churning away at the left, right, left, right, left, right cycle, polluting and filling with noise and pestilence all the air around it.

To heal what ails us, we will have to become people again; politics will have to be torn from the position of centrality that it currently occupies in our collective being and in our individual self-identities and once again consigned to a bit part—the small method by which a few little things that are hard to do on one’s own get done.

When politics is life, life is impoverished—not to mention warlike, a battle of competing totalitarianisms.

— § —

Also a casualty the last couple of years is my belief in the academy as a place of learning and social progress. This makes me sad.

From time to time, I still wonder to myself whether it’s perhaps not too late after all to become a professor and return to “research.”

The dictates of my conscience, however, make this a hard sell. There are many well-intentioned people who toil away in the academy to make the world a better place. They don’t succeed, however, because the institution as a whole is at this time fundamentally misstructured, misguided, and corrupt.

It does not do what it aspires to do, because it does not adopt the methods that might honestly lead it to do so. Inquiry is dead. Politics and consumption have taken its place.

— § —

But back to Sundays.

Sundays are the answer.

The question is the grand question, the one that I have been grappling with for two years, and that I continue and will continue to grapple with, I suspect, for some time to come.

“What is vital? What is worthwhile? What is the meaning of things?”

One answer is Sundays. Sundays—loud or quiet, busy or peaceful—are vital. Sundays are worthwhile. Sundays are the meaning of things.

Hello, Sunday. I am already awake. let’s sit together in silence for a while, a brief stop in the station before I resume my race toward the end of the line.