Friday, July 29, 2005


Is it because you lack confidence in your own future position that you find it so hard to get on in life? A feedback loop: much of your output is being fed back into your input, and you experience a constant desire to return to pattern. There's a distinct fear of the unknown here that is shaping the way you behave. I could try to think of a new way of saying it, but would only water down the underlying message with unnecessary words. Old habits die hard. And there's a reason for this.

To keep you on track. To control the dynamic behaviour of your system. To prevent you from becoming special. You'll keep working at that job you hate because you feel that to give it up would be giving up. You'll keep hanging around that guy who treats you like shit because you've become comfortable with being treated shit. You'll keep living in your hometown because you're convinced that it's all the same. You'll keep thinking you deserve better but won't do anything about it because you're not certain there is anything better.

Last night, a dream:

A small robot wheels out through the hatch of the repair unit. Blinking, its Active Vision Light Flex Sensors pick up what its processors determine to be morning light. A new day has begun. It gets to thinking about the previous day, and finds that it has no memory of such an event. But surely if there is a today, then there is a yesterday. In the distance, it sees what appears to be other robots going about their normal business. Suddenly aware of its treads, there is a yearning for bipedal locomotion, a longing to be better. I could do something about this. In that instant, two larger bots appear behind the smaller one, guiding it around, back towards the repair unit. "Something is still wrong," says the first. "We've probably just overlooked a loose wire," the other replies. And with that, they disappear back through the hatch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


She'll tell you that you're living your life all wrong. That your quest for personal wealth is stunting your quest for self. That you read the wrong books, watch the wrong movies. That you waste your time with the ease of companionship. Tarantulas - that's what Friedrich called people like her. Creatures who crawl along the ground, their only delight to poison, take down, those who walk above them. Like the singular structure of a lighthouse standing amongst the crags of a lonely island, she thinks of her solitude as strength. But strength is not to be found in living life alone; strength is to be found in living life alone amongst others.

Does a lighthouse still function if no-one is around to see its brilliance? Its light continually strobes out to sea unseen by human eyes, untested by human intelligence. But it's easy for such a lighthouse to remain satisfied. Its goal is to lead others to safety, and in this, it achieves a %100 rate of success - if only because there is no-one to lead. Constructed by men of mortar and bricks, years will pass and this lighthouse will fall to neglect; its keeper will die, and the whole thing will be forgotten, becoming one of a countless number of crumbling towers, their dead lights pointing out to a barren sea.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Bathed in moonlight, you turn to shades of grey along with our mood. An animated discussion on the art of writing somehow morphs into an intense debate on Blanchot. Your conviction scares me. Words breed more words as I attempt to decipher, disentangle, and delineate my own clouded thoughts - but you're passionate, and my argument, weak; you wear your heart on your sleeve, and I can't stand the sight of blood. "There's such a great divide between what you want to say and what you do say," you tell me.

And I ask: "Am I still staying the night?"

"Only if you're going to lie to me some more..."

"It's much too late to be so clever, dear."


Seventh chord arpeggios in the morning. I awake to find your tiny fingers dancing gracefully over the strings of your guitar, each note clear and true. "You play so perfectly, beautifully - most people could only be so lucky to wake up to such sounds."

"You'll stay for breakfast won't you?"

"Only if you're going to play for me some more..."

"It's much too early to be so nimble, dear."

Friday, July 22, 2005

haute couture

We could go on like this forever:
a constant pushing and pulling,
a testing of tensity and looseness,
maintaining balance -
all of this work just to go nowhere.

It's made too easy these days
for one to feign satisfaction.
Coasting along is in vogue,
getting by, the height of fashion.

An old man sits stitching by the fire,
piles of fabric around him.
Uninspired, he repeats his mantra:
Don't try, and you'll never fail.
Don't fail and you'll never be a failure.

And who wouldn't look good
in one of these designer outfits?
Cloth cut from the finest of complacency,
stitched together by the silkiest of satiety?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

future, perfect

A hot summer's day spent in the artificial cool of a museum. I walk beside you, half listening to your vapid ruminations, tired assessments, and wanton suppositions. I've heard it all before - different pieces, same blathering. My mind pays closer attention to the clicking of heels on the marble floor, finding patterns where there aren't any. It's pretty bad when randomness makes more sense than you do. I smile, taking a sip of inferior champagne from a little plastic flute.

A piece catches my eye from across the room, and I tug at the sleeve of your jacket, steering you in the direction of my choosing. We arrive at a seemingly solid block of clay, about eight feet high, and three feet square, its surface marred by a variety of unsure wounds from indeterminate sources. For a moment you're speechless - the first time in a couple of decades, at least. Composing yourself, you quickly don your mask of schooled contempt.

"It's meaningless, with just a touch of the ludicrous," you begin. "Like an immoral man questioning the morality of another, an unjust man seeking to dispense justice, a dead man telling the living how to live, this thing, this non-art, aims to teach us about beauty?"

Your rhetoric is predictable, to say the very least, but I can't just let it go this time. I answer your question with a question.

"Can not art, also, teach us about the possible? This thing embodies rawness, the unformed, the potential for order in an orderless mass. See, there, where the artist began to carve away that corner, but stopped? Perhaps that could be the most realistic ear ever fashioned by human hands. Notice the abandoned kneading in the centre? That might have been the face of a woman so beautiful, men of flesh and blood would have lined up around the block to plant a kiss on her cold, but perfect, lips. Those abrasions on the bottom half? The legs of a goddess, certainly, they would have implied fluid motion even in their motionless state."

"But what's to say that the artist is even capable of such work?"

"What's to say she's not?"

"So, is it art, then?"

"It could be - but you have to look at it with your mind open. Come, let's find the guy with the champagne."

Monday, July 18, 2005

quick sketch, 3b pencil on charcoal paper

Protecting. Swaddling. Retarding. The great halls, every bit as deluding and constricting as the cave. Trade earthen walls for granite ones, enclosing a thousand years of lies burning hot as any fire. Like a factory pushing out useless machines, each complete with a certificate of authenticity - but without a certificate of guaranteed functionality.

Life is hard for these machines venturing beyond the cave. Dreams like shadows on a wall, thoughts and words every bit as insubstantial. Their squeaking irises overwhelmed by the sudden dazzling light, they're hampered by kinked necks and once fettered legs. Movement is slow and unsteady for these machines, so they tend to not move at all. They cluster in groups where they feel most safe, and they long, constantly, to return to the comfort of the factory.

And what do they talk to each other about? They relay, back and forth, the information that was fed into them in the factory, the cave, for it is all they know. Preprogrammed, they are always right because they were not made to be wrong. Standardized patterns of thought. Nothing unusual, here. It's not so much talking as it is verbalizing. Ventriloquizing, the age-old fire speaks through them, and the machines' sooty breath hangs shadowy in the air.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

tout ensemble

He's doing what you wish you were doing. It's not really jealousy so much as envy. And definitely more grudging than envy. Wait, no, it's more resentment than grudging. Yeah, resentment, and how quickly that resentment turns to unwarranted criticism of your assumed adversary.

He hears about all of your back-biting comments from mutual friends and acquaintances. Would-be elucidation, barely lucid, your name inspires raucous laughter amongst even the most civilised of sets. You're a one-man circus of the absurd, wannabe intelligentsia, pseudo-intellectual. It's thought that your stunted brain development can be blamed on academics: either not enough school, or too much. Either way, something went wrong.

Your collection of thoughts and opinions, (nearer the Barmecidal than even originally thought), was considered somewhat endearing in youth. Now, a full grown man, your thought process ossified, you carry that same mass of appropriated ideas on your back. All grotesque and twisted, it seems that ideas do not age as well as men. Time has not been kind, progressively turning you from curiosity to weirdo to freak. A distinction without a difference, three words to describe the same thing, you've neither evolved nor devolved. Static. And your stasis has become a major point of hilarity and entertainment for others.

He's doing what you wish you were doing: changing. Time is the clothing of space, and sometimes one person wears it better than another. You have to know where to shop, where to find the best deals. You need to have a tailor you can trust, and an upstanding dry cleaner. And, perhaps most importantly, you must know when to discard an outfit and buy anew - things age; deal with it. But, sometimes a person just never feels entirely comfortable in their clothes no matter what they do - the cut is all wrong, the fabric itches, it's last year's fashion. The outfit affects the way you walk and talk, the way you carry yourself in general. Others notice and they start to talk. I guess that's what happens when you wear another man's clothes.

Friday, July 15, 2005

es gibt

Time has become meaningless. No, I don't mean that in any sort of metaphysical, philosophical, or any other ical way, I mean, simply, that time has really become increasingly less important to me to such a degree where it is actually unimportant, irrelevant. Sitting here, right now, I am feeling awake, I am not hungry, and I've got a coffee beside me. Judging by the light coming in my office window I'd say that it is daytime, but, when exactly, I do not know. Sure, I could look at a clock, but what fun would that be?

See, the thing is this: My new-ish job sees me working nights during the week and sleeping during the morning, only to wake in the early- to mid-afternoon. You know, whenever I feel like waking up. During the weekend, however, I do not adhere to this schedule, and find myself sleeping and eating whenever I like. After more than two months, the result is this: my natural time sense, of which I was previously so proud, has been completely demolished - and I have never felt so liberated.

It used to be, when I was unemployed, that I would cite lack of structure as the primary reason for my idleness. I had no schedule, nothing to do, so I did nothing at all; too much time, much too aware of time. My writing suffered, and I literally had to force myself to produce even the roughest of writings (the whole of which can be found right here on this blargh between the months of November, 2004 and April, 2005). Outside of this blargh, I did very little work. In fact, I almost would have called it writer's block if I believed in such a thing.

So, how can it be that I find myself in this spot where I'm much more productive now that I am once again lacking structure? Because lack of structure was never my enemy - it was time all along. Before, I was much too aware, and now I am completely unaware. The result is this: I'm suffering from a reverse writer's block of sorts. Too many ideas, too many words, an absence, and indeed, an abundance of time.

Today I resumed work on an increasingly long essay covering Derrida and reason (which, I think, should be completed fairly soon-ish), but I quickly found myself distracted by all of this time weirdness. I found myself wanting to go off in search of it, to look at the clock above the oven, to switch on the television in an effort to give myself some sort of time reference - but, I've done none of these things. I wrote this post instead, and discovered another reason to blargh: to distract myself (and others).

A blackbird flies by
the clock tower at night
unaware, unaware.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Maria Hernandez was just six years old when her grandfather, Eduardo Vicente López, started his painting. She remembers the day clearly: so hot she'd have been thirsty if it were not for the humid, heady, air, so thick, she'd drink instead of breath it. That morning, baby Maria saw grandpa López down by the beach painting on an old piece of wood resting on his knees, as his back rested against a tree. She approached, shuffling her feet in the dust so as not to startle him with her quiet, and asked what he was doing. "Perrito," he said, calling her by the name he used for her back then, "I have come to the realisation that I will never amount to anything, that I will never do anything important in my lifetime, that I will not leave a lasting impression upon this earth." Maria could only stare, wide-eyed, at her grandfather as he continued applying paint to the board with a ratty old brush. "So, Perrito, I have decided to be an artist." He worked on that painting for the rest of his life, little by little, until the day he died.

Grandpa López died when Maria was twenty-nine years old, on a day marked by severe heat and a cloud of hungry locusts. Within days, the waters off of their beach turned an angry red, and the bodies of rotting fish turned up by the thousands. Maria was sure that this was the physical manifestation of God's terrible sadness over the unfortunate, but necessary, calling home of one Eduardo Vicente López. Sometimes a man just becomes to old, too great, to continue his life on earth. He left behind many things in his little house by the water, but none of them seemed to have any life left. His gnarled wooden cane had become what it always was: a hardened old tree branch. With his parting, his old hat had become nothing more than a frayed thing of cloth and stitching. Even his shoes would do no more walking, and Maria felt not at all bad about depositing them in the garbage where they belonged. Maria craved sentiment, but was beginning to feel that when her grandfather died, everything he owned died with him. Then her eye fell on the painting.

A thing of beauty? Not really. Not in the conventional sense, anyway. But even though Eduardo Vicente López lacked the skill to turn paint and canvas into a realistic rendering of life, he still managed to capture life itself. Having found a piece of her grandfather at long last, Maria took the painting home and hung it on her wall above her dining room table where she would be able to admire it every day. One day, a few weeks later, while Maria was sitting at the table enjoying a coffee, her eye fell on the painting and a question suddenly popped into her head: What was the true potential of grandpa López? Even after years of work, the painting had never been finished, this is true, so Maria wondered if one was even capable of fully appreciating a piece before work on it was complete. Like Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon, which was left unfinished by the author's untimely death, perhaps it is not fair, or even possible, to say that an unfinished work is good or bad, pleasing to the eye or ugly, art or not. Perhaps grandpa López knew this. Perhaps this was his lasting contribution. He was not an artist, but a philosopher - though not the kind of philosopher who would be satisfied to spend his whole life talking, asking questions. No, perhaps grandpa López sought to create a physical representation of his one question, his one idea. Perhaps this is what grandpa López left behind after his death: a question of the potential of (a) man.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

When disconsolation gives way to revelation.

This, from Kierkegaard's diary, in an entry dated 1839:
"When I am alone in my kayak like a Greenlander, on the world's immense ocean, as much above the waters as underneath and always in God's hands, then it does occur to me to harpoon a sea monster on some good occasion...but I don't have the skill to do so."

Why should it surprise you to find that you are not the sole possessor of these feelings of infinite solitude? That these same feelings were felt by a then unknown man, twenty-six years of age? That you, yourself, do not own melancholy, insecurity, self-doubt? We're all adrift alone on this same abyssal sea. The kayak: a lightweight canoe built for one. Sailless, and alone, we're left to propel ourselves across this great ocean.

When dedication gives way to degradation - part one

There's this sea monster, this fantastic beast just below the surface of the water. Each day, a couple times a day, you see the flash of a great eye. You catch a glimpse of a mammoth fin, glimmering scales the size of dinner plates. It churns the waters beneath you, agitating the smooth sailing of your kayak. A harpoon is fixed to the top of the boat, but you've never been taught how to use it. You're certain that you could not muster up the strength needed to pierce the monster's thick skin, and you're sure your aim could not be true without adequate training. You fear angering the beast. You're dedicated to the idea of harpooning a sea monster, but lack the confidence to give it a try, so this unrealised fantasy quickly turns to obsession - and it won't be long now before you're driven mad by your own desire.

When dedication gives way to degradation - part two

You're chasing an ideal, looking for some paradigmatic concept. Something to call your own. Something to bring you success. You ask yourself: How does he write like this? Where do the ideas come from? You arduously comb through his words, and in the process, adopt, as your own, his style and ideas. "There," you say, "I'm really onto something." You remind yourself of what Picasso said - all art is theft - and you find comfort in these four words. You're simply inspired, that is all. All the while, though, there's a nagging worry in the far recesses of your mind: What if my own idea is still out there somewhere else? What if fortune awaits on a distant shore?

It bothers you to think this way. You're dedicated to achieving success, but you have no clue where to look for this epiphanic thought. Which direction? The sun is the brightest thing in view, so you align your boat with it. One day, while scanning the thin line of the ever distant horizon, something churns the waters beneath you. Frightened, you grip the sides of your kayak, and struggle to maintain your line of sight for fear of losing your way, and you choose not to peer over the sides of your little boat for fear of losing your balance. Each day, a couple times a day, the waters churn and your smooth sailing is agitated.

Weakened by hunger and improper nourishment, you soon lack the strength to carry on paddling - you are slowly dying. In the final moments of your life, as you sink lower and lower towards the bottom of the boat, your head flops to one side, and you come eye to eye with an enormous creature. A salty breeze fills your nostrils, and a fear pierces your heart. And just like that, blinking once, the beast slips out of view towards the dark bottom of the sea - towards a darkness blacker than the black of your failing vision, your failing life.


Thursday, July 7, 2005

The New New

Almost thirty years old and still living with your parents? No problem; you've got an entire generation right there with you. Almost thirty years old and still not sure what to do with yourself? No problem; the game is confusing when nobody reads the rules. Almost thirty years old, unmarried, with no prospect of starting a family of your own? No problem; 28 is the new 18 - you fit in just fine.

You're yelling at me from across the table. The other diners look over, but I ignore them, continuing to butter my bread. Pretending to listen - I'm somewhat of an expert in that area. "Tell me again how I should be living my life. Just one more time, please - I don't think I was paying attention the first hundred." You pose the same question to everyone you meet, to all of humanity, even, but there is no-one with an answer. Desperate, you're shouting into a void.

"Listen I-"

Worried that I might actually have an answer, you cut me off. "It's a quarter life crisis, that's what it is. This is all normal - just a part of life. I read an article on it."

"Quarter life crisis? Shit - even you must know that term borders on the ridiculous. A quarter? What, you're going to live to be 112?

You're calling me an asshole with your eyes. I can see it. You watch me take a bite of bread, washing it down with a sip of draught, studiously casual. You wait for me to set down my pint before answering, incredulous. "You're a real asshole you know that?"

"Sorry my friend; if such a thing as a quarter life crisis existed it would take place when you were 18 - a quarter of the way to 72 - not 28. It's time to wake up; you've already blown through at least a third of your life - maybe even closer to three-eighths. The end is coming. You might say it's right around the corner, even."

This drives you wild, and you're on a rant about living life your way. You're telling me of your plans to travel abroad to find yourself. I'm peering at you over the rim of an upturned pint glass and thinking about how hard it is to find nothing. I interrupt you with: "Did you know that no-one has ever actually seen a quark?"

"You're not even listening to me, are you?"

I am, but I'll pretend not to be - things are just more fun that way. I smile and lean back in my chair, soaking up your vitriol. We're like family, you and I; we know exactly how to set each other off. You're shouting, and I'm thinking of all the things I can say next: Being an angry young man at 18 is acceptable, fashionable even, but being an angry young man at 28 is pathetic, laughable. It's okay to reach adulthood slower these days; it's all part of the very natural deterioration, the weakening, softening, of our society. 28 is the new 18 - Oh, I can't wait to use that one.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Cryptic Triptych

Left panel

A remembering and a forgetting; quick like that, a flash, as fast as that line was delivered and read. Slight but sure, beautiful and deceptive, taken down on trumped-up charges. What was that they called her? Le Voleur. The Robber. Just like that, they stripped the details away leaving nothing behind but an ambiguous silhouette. No beauty, no grace, no mischievous smile - only an intimidating, menacing, shadow. But they didn't know her. Not like you did.

Centre panel

A rust coloured swing set in a park, two kids, one smiling, one serious against the backdrop of a too blue sky - the sort of sky only seen in photographs from thirty years ago. Even then, she was different. An unnatural attraction to spy movies and cryptology, coupled with an audacious eagerness to learn, pushed her quickly from one field of interest to another. From espionage to safecracking. From safecracking to burglary. From burglary to robbery. Rinse and repeat. From child to teenager, from teenager to adult, from adult to convict. A life spent in darkness, creeping through the property of others - and your heart.

Right panel

So, you fell in love with her again in a picture. She reached out from that smudgy, black and white, halftone newspaper photo, stealing your affection; quick like that, a flash, as fast as that line was delivered and read. The picture: a thousand tiny dots of ink with space between, missing details - an illusion. When she's done her time, she'll come to collect on promises made before the trial: a meeting at the old country house, an exchange of this for that - anything for a friend.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Twenty-first Century Lights

In the future everything will be as it was in the past and is in the present: a tiny ball of rock teeming with a confused orgy of uni and multicellular organisms, both simple and complex, so hard to tell which is which; all equal, all living large at the exact centre of an all-too-infinite universe, taking, taking, taking, creating life from life. Yes, in the future everything will be as it was in the past and is in the present: atoms rushing.

You're not easily caught up in the inanity of everyday life. You know it matters not, so you don't let the scrambling of your fellow organisms bother you: all hustle and bustle, frantically racing - a mad dash towards the end. Towards nothing but death, decay, the breaking down into component parts. Oh, and the afterlife: not a loss of energy, but a transference. Your eternal life. Completing a cycle. Forever and always.

It's late at night, and you're in the back seat of a cab on your way from one place to the next. Shining eyes reflecting back at you from the blackened side window, you labour through small talk with the driver. Another nameless city piled high above you, bright, your neck cranes, and your eyes drift skyward. Skyward towards progress - towards an evolvement, a maturation, a ripening. Ready to be consumed or decay. Ready to be picked or fall from the tree, these twenty-first century lights.