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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cali Forni Cation  §

© 2005 Aron Hsiao

Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History is the single greatest piece of writing in the western canon. The Tao Te Ching by mysterious quasi-figure Lao Tzu is the single greatest in the eastern canon.

When considered together, I’m quite sure they come to something. But it will take me a few more years to figure out just what.

— § —

Some days you drink all day.

Some days you send hundreds of text messages.

Some days the hours never quite get off the ground, and you go from “wake up” to “wait for it to end” without anything in between.

Some days you hear Johnny Rotten over and over in your head, asking “Do you ever feel like you’ve been cheated?”

— § —

I don’t remember what I did on the way to Los Angeles, on the way to Vancouver, on the way to Chicago, on the way to New York, on the way to Austin, or on the way to anywhere else I’ve ever been.

That’s too bad, because I often feel as though these are the most important moments in life. And I’m fairly sure I felt that way while I was “on the way” in each case.

And in each case, I’m sure I thought I would never forget.

— § —

Playlist for the day:

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Alice in Chains
Led Zeppelin

— § –

Sitting in Broadway Deli in Salt Lake City, drinking coffee and wondering.

Sitting in a bus station in Texas, drinking coffee and wondering.

Sitting in a Barnes and Noble in Goleta, drinking coffee and wondering.

Sitting in a Village dump in NYC, drinking coffee and wondering.

Wondering, wondering, wondering.

Stop fucking wondering.

— § —

I’m old.

— § —

What’s genuine and what’s manipulation?

From yourself or anyone?

I don’t mean this to be a research question.

These are stupid terms, ideological to their cores.

If only no one anywhere thought the world was essentially a power play, it wouldn’t have to be a power play for anyone.

Since a few people, here and there, are sure it is, it is a power play for everyone.

Live or die.

Hammer or anvil.

Have or have not.

To be or not to be.

— § —

Regret is the substance that pervades the universe, a fundamental physical quantity from which all others come to exist.

Superstring theory, combinatorics, evolutionary psychology, bioinformatics, blah, blah. All just understudies for regret.

— § —

Background vocals.

Supporting singers.

Hollywood stories.

Unauthorized biography.



— § —

Once on Ellwood Beach there was a small beach house made of driftwood, scrap, and palm leaves, and in its center, apart from the sand and crab shells, was a partially rotted tree stump into which a chess board had been burned.

A guy that ought to have been working kept going there and looking for some kind of truth. In the end, he found nothing, took it as a sign, and quit his job and headed for the edge of the world.

He never made it there; instead, he found himself trapped in a two-bit hotel in the middle of nowhere, running out of money, drinking to excess, and phoning nobody in particular to tell his story. Nobody cared.

Years later, he died alone.

— § —

The hardware stores sell several kinds of wax log, designed for cheap, extended fireplace burning.

For $14.00 one can purchase a box of six two-hour logs. Two-hour logs are better than natural wood, but two hours is still brief.

For $18.00 one can purchase a box of six four-hour logs. Four hours is much better; it’s long enough to do almost anything requiring a fire, and in relation to their converse quantities the price difference ($4.00) is much smaller than the time difference (twice the time).

The four-hour logs, however, burn much less brightly than the two-hour logs, and provide much less warmth.

— § —

The atheist that waits for the Messiah is a fool.

He is, however, a typical fool, with many comrades.

Seeking Throes of Death  §

© 1999 Aron Hsiao

When done well, personal writing—fiction or nonfiction—requires death.

Its origins lie in finality; in confrontation with those things that ought to remain hidden, that have been painstakingly buried, written out of history. It’s not that in writing they mst be resurrected, but rather that in writing they return victorious, sneering, not the undead but the ever-living, the uncanny, malicious others that populate a frightening universe of strangers, foreigners, spies, and assassins.

There is one time and one time only when consequences no longer exist; that time is death. Writing comes in all shapes and sizes, but when the most real and important forms of writing are happening, it is consequences instead that are buried, written out of history entirely, as a matter of expedience.

Some say that good writing requires suffering, or sacrifice, or courage. Not true. It requires something both easier and more difficult: that you find—or allow yourself to find—the entrance to yourself, the one that you have not—despite everything—yet managed to completely and permanently close, but have at least managed to push to the farthest and most final reaches of life.

— § —

Thanks to NaNoWriMo and a collection of fortuitous circumtances, I had begun to approach that entrance, to wind my way toward it, throughout November.

I was nominally productive on everey writing front of my life, and what I wrote had begun, happily, to frighten me in some way—to give me pause.

But the Thanksgiving holidays came, and were a convenient excuse to save myself from things unknown, and my progress was interrupted. I slyly set up camp and bided time, “waiting” for a break in the storm of quotidia in which (I told myself) I would reclaim the path.

But with the break here, the path is lost, and I realize that I have been a liar.

I am back to where I started; as lost and far away from good writing as I was in October. The work must be redone. And, once again, the emotional mountains challenged.

— § —

There’s no time for good writing in the world anyway.

And it’s not clear that I could ever do it if there were.

And there’s no value in it anyway; it’s a narcissistic (or perhaps nihilistic) exercise.

But no doubt I’ll try again. That is, regrettably or fortuitously, where I am in life.

— § —

I suspect that if I’m to find my way again, it will involve music.

If there’s one thing missing from my life, it’s music. The reason is simple: the music that I have I have because it is true. But the father in me cannot face any truth. Those things that I know about the world are the things that I cannot bear, any longer, to know.

Music, of all things, takes me back.

But I cannot afford to go back.

And yet, at the same time, I will continue to try.

There is a paradox here that can’t be resolved. It’s not a moral riddle. It’s an insignificant tragedy.

— § —

Any innocence lost once must be lost again and again and again, the cycle repeated in perpetuity.

That is the nature of things.

If it weren’t, life would have no meaning. Since it is, meaning forever threatens life.

— § —

My daughter said tonight, suddenly, amidst bouts of wordless, unexplained tears: “I hate Christmas.”

All that is required to understand is the removal of the words. Take away the “I.” Take away the “hate.” Take away “Christmas.” Let the rest remain.

It pains me that she has felt it already. Everyone comes to parenthood convinced that they can hold off the storm forever, preserve something ineffable and invaluable ahead of its ever-raging front. But that which was not there to begin with can never hope to be preserved.

— § —

The equivalent adult line, thanks to Chris Cornell, goes:

There must be something good—far away, far away from here, far away…

— § —

You can turn out the lights, drink, smoke, wait until the wee hours, turn out page after page of nothing in particular. None of it helps you to write what you think. Because you must never, ever, ever admit to yourself what it is that you think.

Until you do.

And those of us with aspirations will continue to press on toward that day with all the naivete and resignation that the journey demands.

— § —

Too emo?

What can I say?

I grew up here.

Wanna go for a ride?

Things  §

© 2005 Aron Hsiao

Ninety-five percent of what keeps us from fulfilling our potential as a species is each other. We are a crippled, tragically flawed species.

It is only our biological capacity for culture that gives us a glimpse of what we could be in the first place, that makes it possible for us to accomplish anything at all.

But the very same biological natures that give rise to it ensure that we will use it to continuously and unwittingly sabotage one another and to continuously and unwittingly be sabotaged.

Even at those rare moments when you realize what could be, you’re powerless to do anything about it. For the only cure is that which wouldld make the cure pointless in the first place: to forcefully separate humans from one another as a matter of course; to live as atoms.

Human existence is a tragic satire of human existence.

— § —

Anyone that has never trusted their own sanity cannot be trusted with anything of significance.

— § —

Living in New York is, in fact, exactly like living on Sesame Street.

— § —

Living in Provo is like living in hell, in a land of lost souls and endless, purposeless suffering, so useless as to be unvalorizable on its own terms.

— § —

There is nothing worse than pointless suffering so tepid as to be undeserving of the term. That is where the catastrophic end of humanity lies.

— § —

When I arrived at the University of Chicago, I was told in no uncertain terms by more than one senior person that it was the most intellectually exciting environment on the planet.

I am here to tell you, Chicago: bullshit.

The New School is twice as intellectually exciting as your boring, overpolitical, stodgy quad. Maybe there was a time when you were interesting. Now, like Harvard and Yale, you’re all hat (and endowment).

– § —

Someday, when global warming is on the verge of taking us all and the human suffering has risen to historical levels, my own strife will be ameliorated at least a little bit by the immense schadenfreude that I feel about so many that were deniers.

Justified schadenfreude is one of the greatest joys of life, and no, I don’t feel small saying that. The lack of awareness demonstrated by some cultures in this regard (e.g. Buddhist culture, Christian culture) is shocking and ironic.

— § —

Suffering is the meaning of life.

Joy is the medium in which it is rendered.

— § —

The world is far too big for anyone, no matter how well-traveled, to be able to grasp it. Personal experience dissolves quickly, going from insight to ignorance in the blink of an eye, without this change ever becoming evident to anyone.

Always doubt anyone that claims to know anything, especially about things that are not directly in front of their eyes at this moment, or buried deeply in their forehead.

— § —

To love the human race is to hate it, and vice-versa.

Anyone that claims a love for the human race without a matching hate for the human race doesn’t know or understand a single God damned thing about the human race.