Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dialog between wind and bike

42An accountant and an economist once walked down a dirt road, along the banks of a crick. The accountant saw a frog, and did offer the economist $20,000 to eat it. So the economist ate the frog, and the accountant did verily pay him. 43Another half hour down the road the economist saw a frog. He offered the accountant $20,000 to eat the frog, and, yea, they agreed and fulfilled their contract. 44The accountant thus said unto the economist, 45"We have now our original sums of money, and we have both eaten frogs. We are no better off than before." 46The economist paused and wisely intoned, 47"Only if you neglect that we have engaged in $40,000 of trade"

(The competing currents of thought underlying this dialog, which I found in a much less pretentious form on a web page full of "profession" jokes, also underly my thinking about many things lately. Yes.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Always crashing... on the same bike

d+b (sing): "how can we be abstract if we're always on the brink"
b (sings): "finding something new, finding something new"
d (sings): "there's no time time there's no time time"
c: what's that?
d: it's from the good futureheads album.
a: every flaw i find in the futureheads, i hold it against y'all's taste in music. it would be different with, say, kenny chesney...
b: what, she thinks my bike is sexy?
c: she doesn't think chesney's tractor is sexy, she thinks he's sexy. the tractor is just a part of his identity and the bike is part of yours. but let's face it: if she thought your bike was sexy you'd buy a hummer.

I was reading some stuff about David Bowie today. The guy fascinates me. All the cliches, you know, he lives (but move lived) his life as art. Dude with the talent and will to make statements through music, but who went further and changed himself all the time, too. Sometimes got into some pretty bad trouble with it. Many people admire those who explore the dark side of their own nature, when they do it on canvas or vinyl. When they show their work, though, they'd better be cheery to the people that come in to see it.

Radiohead once introduced a song at a concert once as one written, "while their heads were in the blender during Kid A". We're going to play a bleak song without many guitars in it, but we're fine now. See, the guitar is right over there! Just fine! This is what you came for, anyway, let's go. Maybe I'm seeing Bowie's most influential period through the eyes of the most starry-eyed fans, but clearly Tchocky doesn't compare to what Bowie did.

I don't have the musicianship to compose and play groundbreaking music prolifically in several rapidly-changing styles over a short period. I don't have the confidence to shout out my ideas in the spotlight of pop-culture iconhood (or even really to many people much of the time). And I don't have the wardrobe. But I can sure change. My change comes in 180-degree flips, rejections of the past... It's never enough to just try to live a balanced life, I have to rail against careerism. It's never enough to have a break-up, I have to reject the impulses that got me there, or the idioms of modern love. It's never enough to admit that I couldn't handle starting socially from nothing in California, I have to reject Silicon Valley as "structurally introverted", impossibly unsuited to me. Can't come to terms with some of my anxieties and have to intellectually reject them as foolish, the more adamantly the more strongly I feel them. Reject components of my education that can't be changed, think I probably could have been taught in a better way, that I would have turned out with more useful skills that I'd like more than the ones I've got. But I don't just give things a second chance, hoping they'll turn out better with experience. At least not until I come all the way around and reject my rejections.

I think the hope is that eventually I'll find the right combination of flips, and suddenly I'll just be happy. I can forget about progress, conscious anti-materialism, the movements of culture, the change in the weather. Move to Golconda. Speak the truth when asked, keep quiet otherwise. Go running every day on the hills surrounding town. Totally self-assured, a fucking monument to something that's so much better than self-discipline: living right because it just feels right. Oh, yeah.

Of course that is pretty much a pipe dream. But I think I can feel better. I always plan a date for changes, and then want it to come sooner, think that the change will really help me out, start to hate my situation... I am going to change from a 5k runner to a triathlete after running a great race Saturday... but then I melted down last week and lost motivation right after running one of my best-ever track workouts... and then I think of races I could run after Saturday, that now I have to find ways to run non-seriously. I'm in the last week of an attempt to run a 16:20 5k that's now falling down the tubes, but I can't just declare it over and quit. It sure helped to pick a solid date to leave California, but choosing it six months out meant that for six months I had to live out the end of a life with no future. It was good that college ended, that's for sure (after all, I heartily reject the notion of academic work and many parts of the involved lifestyle), but I was sure ready to get out a year before I could. And I'm never totally ready for the changes either, always fail to be prepared when the date comes. Maybe I just need to be lighter on my feet? Less possessions, actively seeking ways to simplify life, evaluating "true needs" and desires that should be fulfilled against things that will just get in the way? Really, truly, throw out artifacts that point to empty memories? Until I find something really worth going full towards. Casting off things might make me lose a lot of self... would it be addition by subtraction? I don't really know. And I can't do it yet for a lot of reasons, which is frustrating. I have several months to wait before I can wait to find my so-called true calling, which will never actually come.

For as confused and bleak as this all sounds, I think this is a fair resolution to a much more confused and bleaker weekend. Onward.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Just Sayin'

I was throwing some clothes in the laundry, and for some reason it came into my head that I've come a pretty good long way since moving to Chicago, and that I'm probably generally as happy as I've ever been. You know, in my WHOLE LIFE or something. Deep shit, yeah. Still prone to occasional angst-fits and a few mildly self-destructive impulses here or there, and still sometimes overreacting to little things, but I'm not going for perfection. Just for plenty of good stuff.

I always say I feel like Chicago gives me what I deserve, but then again I sometimes say that people don't really deserve anything (they just sometimes get things and have to figure out what to do with them). I don't deserve anything specific and Chicago doesn't give me anything too specific; just a surprise from time to time. Information can be thought of in terms of surprise, in terms of what's different from the expectation. And I continue to observe, to become more informed, to take in more information, to be surprised. I think there's a deep well of that in this city. Many, many years deep. Lots of places to look, and when I look there is something there! When I feel the well is running dry maybe then I'll go somewhere else. Or maybe then I won't need surprise and information, but something different.