Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: February 2007

age, experience, faith  §

I can’t figure out whether the trick is to never forget anything or never to remember anything. I suppose there probably isn’t actually any trick at all.

Proposition  §

The intoxicating power of modernity to which all appear to prostrate themselves and beneath and on behalf of which so many have been willing to submit to totalitarianism is precisely the sufficient mastery of epic power by humankind to endlessly and nonchalantly manufacture the inapproachably sublime at a scale and rate at which nature was never able to dream—and this transcendental totalitarian impulse is perhaps the most sublime monument of all.

Totalitarianism nothing but mankind’s own narcissism in sardonic spite of God, who has been utterly dominated, emasculated—put beneath a forged steel yoke the size of history itself.

Yawning  §

Good morning, world. I’m back for another day, but I have a couple of questions for you before I get started once again:

– Did you miss me?
– Did you do anything about it if you did?

Oh, and:

– What will happen to me?

Just a couple of thoughts, take your time thinking about answers, I’ll be in the shower. See you in a few.

So much reading  §

so little time. I come back here and it is as though the day is over—I cannot for the life of me figure out precisely why this room gives me that sensation while my I-House room in Chicago didn’t. Nonetheless, it remains true: to read at I-House I have to leave for another room. Some other room, it almost doesn’t matter which one. This room simply works only for reading politics and the insides of my eyelids.

Back to the so much reading trope: the task today feels as unapproachable as it did when I first left computer science. There is simply so much to know in the humanities and social sciences that I often feel as though I’ll never really have a handle on any of it. I have decades and decades of reading to do before I reach the point at which I’ll even feel a novice rather than a mere tourist, and that assumes that I will remember everything I’ve read indefinitely (I won’t).

This PC is getting very long in the tooth. Cracks here and there. DVD drive not working (and the $$ to replace it probably not worth it, given the value of the unit as a whole). Stain on screen still spreading and power and cooling circuitry getting a little iffy. I don’t have the tools in New York to do repairs and I’m not really interested in sitting here in my I-House room trying to do them anyway.

Blah, blah, blah. More Adorno to be read tonight, it would appear.

Mediate this…  §

Okay, down to cases. I haven’t posted in several days. Why? General emptiness of head. Dunno, mebbe exhaustion, mebbe the lack of something necessary for cognitive function, mebbe just the general shock and distraction of modern life creeping in around the edges—it’s been an intense (though very nice) month.

In any case, I have approximately one week to write two papers and my reading remains well behind curve. Also, the head office is sending people to train me in more touchy stuff again at work. In addition to these other tasks, my (professional) writing is suffering, I have to get busy and get some shit done on that front because I feel as though I’m only just barely holding up my end of the bargain.

Speaking about writing, I’m not doing enough of it, nor am I reading enough. Biggest reason: time management. Not poor time management, really, just the fact of time management. My time right now is relatively regimented and regularized. This is not the way I function. I woke up at 8.00 this morning with a mind full of words and the absolute drive to read and write. In another time and place, I’d have rolled straight out of bed and over to the laptop and probably been typing still. Instead, all through shower/shave/dress I was running over phrases and thoughts again and again in my head, trying to locate in my mind’s eye some point during the day at which I could get them all down. Of course, then I had to go get on the subway and cross town. Then I had to work for four hours. Then I had to walk to school and get something to eat. Now here I am, finally, in the afternoon—and there are no more words or phrases or ideas; these were around hours ago. The same goes for reading. Frankly, right now it appears to me to be siesta time, not study time. Everything is bathed in a kind of haze of perception.

The most productive periods in my life (big ‘P’ productive) have been those during which I kept extremely irregular hours. The least productive have been those in which I kept extremely regular, rational hours with a well-defined, productive (small ‘p’ productive) schedule.

It seems to me that creativity/inspiration/high-order function and labor/responsibility/rationality are fundamentally functionally opposed, perhaps because they have primordially different natures. High-order function of the most representative kind embodies a certain openness and deep metaphorical intuition. Analysis itself is perhaps the apex of metaphorical thinking. Labor and generally socially adaptive behavior, on the other hand, require concessions, socially conscribed thought processes, and disciplined (i.e. categorical, compartmentalized) action.

Basically all the traveling I’ve ever done has been a) North American and b) completely without aim. That is to say: depart almost on a whim, drive until I’m tired of driving, stop and see what’s around, have a local bite and a local brew and find a local bed, c) move on.

I suppose I have always known that most people plan for travel, and that for most lifestyles one must plan if one wants to get out. I’ve just never had to confront that mechanical reality before. Now, however, I think I sort of do: there will be no “spontaneous” wandering for me for a while. If I want to go somewhere, I’ll have to dream up the plan in advance, then actually execute it.

I find this to be a little foreign and also mildly intimidating.

To what extent do basic avoidance and contrariness figure into my life? Can such a question ever be honestly answered? (By me, I mean?)

I want to read a novel so badly right now I’m about to start having convulsions. Of course I won’t because there are things that I’m paying to do that really, really need to be done.

Posting to this blog is not one of them.

when  §

When a building is demolished the ground underneath breathes for the first time in decades, even centuries.

When trains approach on the track the blood in your body begins to circulate imperceptibly faster, if only for a moment, as the result of adrenaline.

When idiot savants engage in practice they destroy reified vertices of social relations.

When batteries charge, they age the universe. When they discharge, they do the same.

When you switch on your mobile phone you telegraph your being to the stars and to the state.

When I get to work in the morning it’s always later than I thought it would be.

Quotidian Tuesdays in the Winter  §

Woke up with the kind of wild, transient sadness that marks the best and worst of everything. Places I’ve forgotten, people I’ve lost, things I might have been instead, mornings that should have gone on forever but were over by noon—all of those things that will never again be were sleeping alongside me, apparently, and for a while after I woke up it wasn’t clear whether or not they had gone.

So I’ve showered up and cleaned a little and tried to make things in my life a little more orderly, and now I’ll go and try to do some studying at school, just like any day.

This sort of thing isn’t for everybody, but I am absolutely enchanted by it. I know that people have a tendency to say “those don’t look real” about really spectacular nature or travel shots, but I tend to think that those people have lead in their souls, since clearly the only thing they saw last time they watched sunset was the sun and the sky, same as ever.

I tend to think I would read faster and more deeply if I could read all of my texts on a screen instead of in pages. Paradoxically, I very much like pages and feel that the screen is lacking a certain sensuousness that enriches the experience of reading immensely. Still, there are times at which the “experience” of the act when reading is secondary to a kind of brute means-ends consumption and for that sort of thing I think ephemeral user interfaces suit me better.

Serial numbers within two feet of me right now, not including the notebook I’m typing on:


End of president’s day  §

In the the Times Square tunnel
for the 1-2-3 trains:
a trumpet and a mouth organ and
a little old man, all playing the blues;
a teenage boy, aimless and distant
with a pink pack and wild, curly hair;
young asian girls with shopping bags,
talking excitedly, smiling;
a mother and a baby + coat & hat,
no particular gender;
a few remnants of last night
in the far corners, dark, ignored;
rats on the tracks eating wordlessly;
a homeless man, plastic-container shoes,
seated and swaying imperceptibly in rhythm;
blue trash bags not yet carried off
by platform workers;
a hooded figure on a cell phone,
facing the other track,
could be anybody;
and a low, loud rumble that is
the 1-train to take me away—
inside of it an aging gentleman
telling of heart trouble
and asking for loose change;
he’s got the blues, too
over the car’s squeaks,
which continue for several minutes afterward.
At 125th street, now above ground:
towering buildings,
escalator down to Broadway.

dammit  §

Going in to work early is not my favorite thing in the world. Not to worry though, as if on cue, my alarm failed to wake me, so I have not yet written what must be written. Also, an important email message sits in my inbox, not yet answered.

Because I am coming back here at 1.20 or so for a brief moment, there is no need for me to carry a pack today. It feels startlingly different (in very nice way) not to be saddled with an extra N lbs. while walking. I feel about four feet taller and more at ease. I suppose it should have been obvious that such would be the case, but I am (in all honesty) quite surprised.

Late Sunday night  §

When it’s not raining outside umbrellas take on something of the quality of an orphan. They seem entirely out of context and almost forlorn hanging there with nobody to protect and nothing to protect them from. Of course you can’t live your life feeling sorry for umbrellas.


– Place smells like opium again
– Beds make me want to do two things, mostly, neither of which is “study”
– I have to get up early; first I’ll write an article, then I’ll go to work
– I feel like my diet isn’t giving me enough of something
– I haven’t added to my quotes file in years
– I brought a hand-crank flashlight to New York but I’ve never used it
– We are all forever running out of time together
– It’s a bigger world than we like to admit, even with telephones and e-mail
– Cats never cry, but dogs sometimes do
– Every place is haunted by the ghosts of things that never happened
– Even if it’s not you that they never happened to
– Today the entire world is full of bamboo household goods
– Bells bring the causal nexus into temporal relief as aural shadows

Material culture is the storage media for an ever-accumulating narrative. It is WORN (Write-Once-Read-Never), which is the alphabetic successor to technoculture’s abandoned but vernacular WORM (Write-Once-Read-Many). The half-life of WORN media is transcendental, going from “new” to “deleted” at unanticipatable, yet still temporally and typically causally connected, inflection points. Another difference is that there is no danger of blindness when staring directly at WORN mechanisms in operation.

(Okay, unbelievably silly.)

Thinking about the past makes my head swim. I wonder if this sensation will grow more acute or become more moderate over time.

I’m going to bed, goddammit. There is nothing I can say here that will do me any good right now. I don’t need any good done right now anyway. Sometimes it’s just time to make tomorrow happen.

Trick is  §

that you don’t think. You almost have to live your life in a kind of fog if you want it to work for you at all; to do otherwise is to ask for trouble. Every time I start to think, my head starts to hurt. Maybe that’s just years of damage, I don’t know.

I’m here early and without interruption for the first time in a long time and I’m coming face to face with the actual situation. Money, study, work. Dammit, things are a mess. Why didn’t I see this before?

No matter.

Bigger issues are always afoot, and tonight is no different. I was looking at some photos and listing to some tunes and thinking about some things and I lost the thread of being again, just straight up stopped being able to figure it out. There’s a reason I don’t have too, too many friends in the world and it’s that I often find it easier at the end of the day not to try and cope with people at all. Opinions, preferences, personalities, differences, intentions, dissentions, and whatever else happens when two sentient beings are in the same room.

It’s all too much for me. Sensitive? Fuck yes. Too sensitive. So sensitive I’ve never quite been able to do it right without absolutely suffering everyone else’s shit.

I have been so many people and the odd thing is that now I look back and feel sorry for some of them as though they were external to me, as though they were people that need help or that I should feel pity for, and I look back at others with a strange kind of envy, not quite knowing what to do or say in relation to that sensation.

Mostly right now, tonight, I am dazed once again. I am trying to have all of my memories at once and instead I am simply having sensory overload. There are people I feel like calling only I won’t know what to say to them anyway (there isn’t anything to say—my life is far too simple and I can’t hear about theirs) and some things are best left alone in the first place.

Dammit dammit dammit.

Sometimes salvation is a little bit of poetry scribbled on a couple yellow sheets that only you will ever, ever read in a million years. It is the shattered bits of time caught in the inky fingerprint fragments that lie, almost lost, at the edges of legal pads.

After the late night  §

comes the leaden day, on which nothing is quite right, though it may also not be demonstrably wrong. It is instead simply uncanny somehow and possessed of a singular and thick kind of melancholy. I feel like an antique that has been sequestered away in a dark, forgotten study for decades without disturbance. I feel like the index of a book unread since being placed on the shelf during young adulthood—that is to say, hidden, untouched and untouchable, and lulled into complacency by a kind of dull, dim sheen hovering everywhere about the day.

My head is as heavy as October, I’m not really managing to read w/o sleeping.

hm  §

There is a certain indignity to working on a Friday after a very late Thursday.

Also, I need to have a chemical-free day, my body is suffering.

4am  §

Sometimes I think I belong in Nebraska.

If there’s a moment at which the entire fucking project falls down, that’s it.

‘Acceptance’ is just another word for denial. Other words include ‘age,’ ‘work,’ ‘sunlight,’ ‘understanding,’ ‘lunch,’ and ‘Friday.’

It’s too early or too late for everything you want to do. Sartre said it first, yeah, but I’m saying it when I’m tired so he can bite me. 😉

I can’t decide whether I’m anachronism or would-be Messiah. I wonder if other men feel the same. Sometimes, given a chance, I think I am a healer. Other times I am sure I am the angel of death. Same thing, I suppose.

Zas deep, boi.

The danger is in turning those abstract people into concrete individuals. Because then I am not at all a sociologist, or even a humanist.

Snow is the most beautiful thing on earth, even at 4am.

and so…  §

It feels as though it’s gonna be a beautifully average day. That’s not at all a bad thing at this particular juncture, I could use a nice, unintrusive day full of -normal- work (if my office is capable of this any longer), a moderate amount of reading, a single (properly led) class, and a couple drinks to follow.

Funny thing is that this doesn’t actually sound all that different from anything I’ve been doing anyway, but somehow the smooth contours of quotidia seem to rule sense on this particular morning.

We’ll see.