deleting parts of ourselves, deciding who we want to be
“But her thoughts are often of the past. That evanescent, pervasive, slippery internal landscape known to no one else, that vast accretion of data on which you depend — without it you would not be yourself. Impossible to share and no one else could view it anyway. The past is our ultimate privacy; we pile it up, year by year, decade by decade, it stows itself away, with its perverse random recall system.”
— Penelope Lively, How It All Began
added 6/6/22 as if the dates matter anymore
as if COVID and another school shooting and recession
haven’t put all clocks’ hands in a perpetual tailspin
parents of young children are not OK right now; in my silence I become attuned to all hearts; writing reminds me of death — it is the place where death cannot come, where death is unreal, where there is no vexation, all peace, everything full of love
it takes a lot of courage to love after loss, amid grief; this isn’t my poetry, just what i hear, what i pick up from the water i drink from ~ the Roman poet Terence said “I am human; nothing human is foreign to me” so anybody from history with a weird name was just Me as well as their inner life, so when one drinks, we all drink (we’re all water anyway):
the road to union is not what we imagined
i wanted to be Donald Draper from Mad Men if I recall, sitting on a neighbor’s step in the Kansas City neighborhood of Westport, paying $350/mo for a room in a 2BR apartment with Adam G., who owned and ran a karate studio, formerly an IT guy a think, large physically, smoked (he hoped I’d help him quit, instead I picked up the habit), ended up owing me money it took his brother’s mature, liberal-urban-creative integrity to settle, finally, more than a year later (I remember being on the roof of Akim’s place, my next Craigslist roommate ~ God, I can’t believe I’m writing this book again; of course nothing has changed, the past is right here, I have just not really felt the need to write about it, to add my story to the internet of what’s available ~ being able to be seen is not very satisfying; Seeing may have nothing to do with the technology obsessed over today—the real technologies are affection, affiliation, how we choose to populate our silence and serenity with news, updates, free flows of others’ awareness all able to turn to and read silently: the internet invites every individual to a particular communion event, a becoming global, enflamed, aghast, entrusted, blessed, invited, fed ~
“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those of other things, are his history. These are his life, and they are not written. Everyday would make a whole book of 80,000 words — 365 books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”
― Mark Twain
there is much to say about freedom; I have much to say; it will have to be said and then I will live on past it, not too much further into the future; next month and next year will become a time not too unlike today — of course the news will be worse, “the news” only being the realization and enlightenment that no matter who is elected, we have to work;
I always find somewhere else to go off, some DM (direct message) or text message conversation with someone I love to scroll up in and annotate, revisit, comment on…something I shared 6–12 months ago that I forgot about and now see anew, since life is a violent polishing and tearing layers off my eyes, stripping life bare, stripping “me” down to the bare electromagnet of my heart, the bare metal, nothing but bone, not even a man anymore, not even an identity, nothing cohesive…just pure life, which then has to be poured like molten bronze into a mold; and I get to and must choose where to pour, what images to champion and validate…
“coming of age online might impede our ability to edit memories, cull what needs to be culled, and move on”
How Social Media Shapes Our Identity
Last year, I had a strange dream. My father and I were wading in an industrial canal, reminiscent of a subway, as…
but it might also give us a model, a newly expansive model, of “the self”, becoming able to contain more — do we know how big “the self” is? If it’s a house, do we know how much space there is? And can memories be reduced in size? Imagine how much can fit on a computer chip.
What if our lives are a constant honing down of what we’d keep up on our wall if there were only 200 slots? It’s the existential version of the business question Ben Thompson posed on Shane Parrish’s podcast, The Knowledge Project. He talked about Northwestern’s MBA program, and the example of CPG companies and shelf space. What happens when there is no shelf? What happens when everything is available and the “view” on the possibilities can be customized according to new incentives? What’s the best view on what’s possible for you? And who do you want determining the facts? Having choices is hard, of course, because you have to decide — and deciding is hard, especially when you aren’t familiar with the trade-offs. You don’t want to have to endure consequences. It would be easier to already have figured it out and now you get to coast on past good decisions. Baby Boomers want to retire, but there is no retiring from the hard work of deciding who we want to be.
Deleting is difficult. The urge to tab down and say something else and have it integrate back perfectly with “the whole” is…what hunger is, but now that humans have overcome hunger, we now hunger for meaning—we want people to read our content, Like it, send it, share it, annotate it…get closer to us. We want to belong, but now it’s harder because survival is not enough.
Content is the place to make relationships. The world is a university and a family and a church. The old way of binding and separating human affairs is dying—as evidenced by the rotting, rusted planet of cars driving human sacks of social capital to jobs which are money games playing out in glass buildings, empires of gossip and mimicking, trying to be ideal and “prove it” to the overlords with diplomas on the wall and entitled fucking attitudes who also sexually harass the young women (and everyone, frankly) and can’t understand why what they did was inappropriate—and so they retreat out of fear. Luckily, they will die off—Darwinism works—and be replaced by people who have the capacity to work with and help others in a way that’s evolved from the primitive games of the jungle. (I just want to fucking scream at old white male attorneys—but this is my book, what else could I be? Look at who my father was—yes, and this is the unfurling of a book, a personal brand, a life lived out loud for a living, a life of invitation and openness…and perhaps it’s the way of the world for him to maybe die seeing, this is what I financed? I paid for braces, college, and afterward when he couldn’t decide on a career? THIS?! All so he could drag me and all I’ve done?! Maybe. But isn’t this art? Isn’t this anything Shakespeare wrote? The challenge of generational turnover.
What you’re reading is the screaming of the leaf, as another season-change approaches. We are terrified for our lives and destinies. We hate to lose the people we love. We’ve heard whispered stories of barbarians, floods, wipeouts, meteors, fires…we don’t want it to happen to us.
How do I make sure this gets in a more prominent place? How do I make sure you don’t miss it? Is caring anew the only way? Is writing another line fresh today using the best reserves of my energy the only way to make sure you get my best and nothing else?
There is always so much more to say.
“He is the most fortunate of men who can trace an unbroken connection between the end of his life and the beginning.”
— Goethe, as cited in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (Commentary, Note 3, Page 12)
“If Goethe’s dictum be true, Rilke was blessed indeed. He told his biographer that the roots of his life’s work went back far into childhood. Rilke’s life was peculiarly of a piece, a coat without seam ; nothing that enriched his last great poems was not discernible, in rudimentary form, in his earliest writing, and not one of the essentials of his youthful character and genius appears to have become atrophied in him. At the age of thirty-five he was still reliving his own childhood, with fascination and with anguish…he looks to the integrity of childhood as the only resolution of the fatal dichotomy between the actual and the possible in human nature, and to its timelessness as the only answer to the challenge of time.”
As I just texted a friend, a brother, a “found father” when he asked, “How are you?”:
Fighting hard to make my work good and find support and fans. Have given up and sacrificed almost everything I can, and am continuing to push harder into new territory. Finding the community. Finding the courage to ask for help. It is an around-the-clock endeavor. No act is out of alignment. If people could see what I was doing — friends, family — they would be so proud and impressed, but they can’t see and that’s the way it is. I’m not mad at it, it’s just life and the human condition. And so you work at it to change it, to make them see. And try try try try try try again. That’s it. And money can appear, but it has to find you working. You’ve gotta be burning out all the microphones you’ve got and living at the edge. So, you can click any of five links of mine and see it. The voice is right here.
My organized web of obsessions. My gospel, my heroes, my saints; my parishioners, my community. And of course, “my” is yours, it’s ours. The whole thing is a temple.
See, I learn from such varied sources and reduce it all. It isn’t “religious” per se, since religion mostly serves to reduce imagination. And technology has set communication loose—bound energies have been unbound;
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the shelf has disappeared, there is no now governing edge except our imagination and our Paleolithic ability to keep up—literally, it stops at the mouth and the hands. Our body is helplessly testifying to everything it contains within it, and it is freakish, hence my violent hand-waving and apparent throwing myself down on concrete hour after hour—and I can’t afford to stop.
Theory: there are two kinds of phone calls to make: desperate and boring. I had to make desperate phone calls last weekend. So? I’d rather do that than spend all weekend knowing I’m only as happy as my next Monday. I can’t convince myself to want to do that. So, peacefully, I let them go their way. Society works, oddly enough, despite everything said online all day. Despite all that’s wrong, it works.