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Monthly Archives: January 2008

Those of us that belong to ‘Generation X’  §

are gradually and imperceptibly drifting into middle adulthood, into that station in society that was not so long ago held by the so-called ‘baby boom’ generation. Dragged along kicking and screaming are all of those who swore adamantly that they would never grow up, that the magic ink in their tattoos and the batteries in their music players would provide the sustaining energy to reverse, or at least to halt, time itself.

While it isn’t always edifying to see the ‘my life cycle has successfully been paused’ cadre maturing haphazardly and somewhat untidily in ways that they swore were impossible, it is certainly to some extent vindicating.

Call me a cynic, but I was always sure that people couldn’t stay children forever. Time, the announcement of whose demise was (as is so often the case) premature, has won again.

I don’t know what life will be like five, ten, or fifteen years from now, but for the moment I can say that I feel very fulfilled in life, as though I am no longer ‘waiting for my story to start,’ but am rather (to use a vastly overused phrase) ‘living life to its fullest.’

There are some for whom the notion of ‘fullness in life’ cannot be reconciled with days spent studying and working, with a simple home life involving a dog and a few books, with a complete lack of hipster cool and wild party alike.

Poor folks, these.

Life can be good, as opposed to merely materially substantive for the skilled verbal acrobatics of the urbane cynic. I do all of those things that are most uncool, most grown-up: I teach; I cook; I read; I have a wife and a house and a dog.

I love it. It is like living in a Normal Rockwell painting, and the warm, autumnal glow of domesticity’s colors gives to every moment and every task the very character of childhood storybook tableaux.

I often feel as though  §

I have volumes and volumes to write—as though I have so much to say that I should easily be able to pound out monograph after monograph. Unfortunately, it simply isn’t that easy. It’s one thing to have thoughts and to be able to articulate them here and there, now and then, in the midst of conversation. It’s another, somehow, to be able to turn these into writing—into writing of sufficient quality and coherence to be worthy of publication and, after that, to be read widely.

It’s hard to tell just where the disconnect is, but I suspect that rather a lot of it has to do with habits of thought. It is hard for me to think when I write, precisely because typing is slow and involves a faculty other than the voice and speech. So when I write, thoughts don’t come clearly; arguments don’t congeal as they seem to do when I speak. Or maybe I just don’t notice the degree to which they don’t hang together when I speak because I’m concentrating on speaking. I don’t know.

In any case, the net effect of all of this is that I have a great deal of what might be called “academic frustration” for motivation, and a lot of sources and perspectives and methods and facts rattling around in this skull of mine, and I can converse about them with other people without sounding too damn idiotic, but when I think about writing something substantive, I draw a giant blank. What should be my thesis, how should I structure my argument, etc. When I actually start to write, the problem gets worse—a page in, I meander. Two pages in, I am hopelessly lost.

Obviously some part of the process simply does not translate, which is both unexpected and regrettable since I am a six-time author. Obviously I haven’t yet learned to translate social thought into readable writing. It is of particular interest and chagrin to me that a great many great thinkers are considered to have been (or to be) “prolific.”

I like the word. Often I feel as thought it ought to be me and I can’t for the life of me figure out why this isn’t so, what obstacle is lying somewhere hidden in my approach to the material that prevents me from putting what are under other circumstances innumerable words and thoughts on a variety of social issues into written (or at the very least) typed words of the same kind.

How many books are rattling around in my head…

…that will never be written?

At the same time and on another note, I would do well to acknowledge that some of the difficulty on these fronts results from the day-to-day realities of the life that I lead; there are bills to be paid and CVs to be made that each in their own right demand that I work, work, work. There is also the fact that I am working toward a Ph.D. (a pursuit that I only doubt once a week or so, due to the potential mismatch between this end and my “personal” goals in life) that requires yet more work, work, work.

All things said and done, there is precious little time to sit down and write, and spending time this way would be a difficult expenditure to justify at this juncture in my life. It takes time to type. This entry has taken perhaps five minutes and it isn’t a single page.

(Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that the greatest amount of time spent in academic writing is not spent on mere typing or the production of streams-of-concsiousness.)

I don’t know. I would very much like to write more, particularly about social theory and topics in the social sciences. It is unclear, however, just how I should go about realizing such a goal. I sometimes think that I should muster the discipline to simply sit down and type every musing thought that I have about any topic under the sun until I arrive at another 600- or 800-page monograph.

This isn’t likely to happen, I think, and it’s not clear that anyone would publish it if it did.

For the sake of trivia, I’ll mention that when I was in southern California in 2005, I printed the entirety of my web diary, from beginning to end, all years… and it was approximately 1,000 pages.

January  §

has proven to be a difficult month this year. Everything is uncertain; there is no time and somehow at the same time there is too much time—we are waiting for the unmanageable deluge, using all of our time to prepare while knowing that one really can’t ever be fully prepared for such things.

It’s getting on our nerves; we are silent and circumspect; we are reading too much, working too much, tangling with scheduling and planning too much.

This semester hasn’t even started, but it can’t be over soon enough.

I read about the financial world  §

and the global and United States economies all day at work, and the more I read and watch the charts and the financials lately, the more afraid I am that we will see a total collapse of the American economy and empire—total collapse, a combination of Rome, Weimar Germany, and the great depression all in one—sooner rather than later.

I hope that’s not the case, but right now it looks like the end of the United states as we know it is rapidly approaching, with most of the general public none the wiser.

All of the problems in history  §

have been brought about by the belief on the part of individuals that make up a population that the solution to problems is to be found in the evaluation and development of systems that they believe somehow to be external to the population. To identify and establish the best system is to end suffering.

This search for and admiration of systems is a distraction that always leads to tyranny. All systems serve merely to enhance and intensify the dynamics of density: limits to resource allocation and conflicts arising from agency when multiple individuals must share the same space.

There is one solution: sacrifice. Limits to personal aspiration. Of course we will never do this to ourselves, so systems—we like to think they are of our own design, but of course at the end nature herself remains the transcendental system for which there is no negator or escape—will do it for us. And then we all complain.

This is the stuff of history, and will always be, until we destroy ourselves.

History and mythology  §

are indistinguishable. Both are memory. Memory itself is little more than animism.

All that you remember—people and things—are imaginary, fictional, incorporeal. You yourself are only a transcendental moment of being surrounded on all sides across all dimensions including the temporal with non-being.

Ghosts are the haunting of the past by the present—a haunting that provokes the very past that it venerates.

First business day of the new year  §

Today has been a hell of a day. Literally. Not good. A bad start to the new year all the way around. Dog split a nail, couldn’t be property exercised. Writing an article that I estimated to take an hour instead took three. Left at 1:30 to mail some packages and buy some envelopes. Came back at 5:00, without envelopes. The post office is only ten blocks away. Got back and dog had made a huge mess and was very cranky due to said split nail and lack of exercise. Along the way got bumped in my car by a road raging driver, wasted money on a parking meter that didn’t work and spent $35.00 to ship something that just a few years ago would have cost $15.00 to ship.

I smell collapse in the air. The American economy is not doing so well, not in the way that the administration and the capital class claim. People are nervous, uncomfortable. Things are broken and aren’t being replaced. The line at the post office was two hours long. The line at the drugstore where I was trying to buy envelopes was longer than I could wait. They were sold out of nearly everything including the sorts of envelopes I needed, but in desperation I picked up what they had and in line for forty-five minutes and gave up. People are returning Christmas items that didn’t work out. $4.00 and $6.00 items, returning them after an hour and a half in line.

People do not spend an hour and a half to return a $4.00 item unless they don’t know where their next $4.00 is coming from and they’re not confident they’re going to get it. Store shelves in national chain stores don’t stay bare for weeks on end unless stores are deathly afraid of overstock. They don’t allow hour-and-a-half lines to form while four out of six registers are empty unless they’re deathly afraid of excess labor costs. People do not get so worked up over a traffic light that they’re willing to hit someone else with their car unless they are so under the gun in life that every situation feels like it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

This economy is not in good shape and that fact hasn’t hit everyone yet, but the evidence is everywhere and getting worse. Subprime hasn’t really even it us yet; the bulk of these loans have yet to reset.

We gotta get out.

How about  §

letting things bug you until you burst? Or alternatively, starting fires? How about when you have to choose between the two? Or do you? Maybe if I was wiser or older I would have an alternative ready, better words, more patience.

New Year’s Day 2008 is not proving to be an auspicious start to the year.

I am in a rotten fucking mood. I am trying to keep perspective. Perspective is essential at times like this.

I can’t remember how many years in a row people told me I ruined their holidays. Mostly when I wasn’t even around them.