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I keep adding more and more to this, but I keep getting myself riled up. [Oct. 4th, 2010|11:32 pm]
[mood |vitriolic, or just excited]

So, today I turned 30. I haven't done much with my life. That's okay with me(ha). Some small part of me wanted to have a sitcom celebration, a party where I learned that it doesn't matter what you do, it matters who is around you. But mostly I wanted to not be the center of attention.

So I went to get a few beers with some friends, and eventually it's three against one, the one being me of course. Something about upward mobility, and the thing I mostly want to get to is that many have this idea in their head that it's a personal failing if they can't get a good job and get rich, or even get okay and not paycheck to paycheck, that they have to work harder and if they get to that ideal of working harder then they'll be okay. And I guess I botched saying this, somehow by saying that the rest of the world is not that much worse off than we are (and maybe that's true, in a wide enough perspective...the rich have always had so much more than the majority, who wouldn't be the majority if they could themselves get rich), but the nitty gritty isn't what really matters in what I'm trying to get at. You can believe whatever you'd like when it comes to the idea of upward mobility, as far as I am concerned.

Okay though, before I move on to my main point, let me talk about it a little bit more. :) Everyone has their own anecdotal story about pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. If you pay attention, this will usually be people who had at least some measure of privilege in their youth. My boyfriend, for example, is the son of two doctors. Somehow his grandfather coming over on a boat gives him a measure of economic mobility. It has nothing to do with the fact that he is a white male that is the son of two doctors!

Another woman in the group of discussers did grow up in a poverty-stricken atmosphere. Yet she is a white female who was in a good school district, with a mother who valued education.

Let's go in another direction. If I was not with my boyfriend I would have no prospects. I would live in a hovel if I chose to stay in New York, but more likely I'd be living with my parents and have whatever job that'd take me. Probably minimum wage. My friend Dan is from a similar background to me, lower middle class/upper lower class (is that a thing?). He didn't finish college. He has a paycheck to paycheck existence. My cousins had the same background as me, their mothers and fathers had more money than my family. They are not wealthy, generally have soul grinding corporate jobs. Could not survive in New York. I could continue, I have anecdotes as much as anyone has anecdotes. My parents are stuck in the house they don't want that is next to a highway, and my mother is stuck in a job she has hated for 20 years. They'd starve to death if she quit.

Everyone has their tiny perspective(me too! And I'll be the first to admit that my perspective is more to making me think that people kinda stay where they were born), their stories about whatever narrative you want to bolster or denigrate. So often the only way to get out of a human perspective is to look at data. But people do not want to believe data if it goes outside of their own experiences. I do the same damn thing.

The data say that economic mobility has never really been a solid thing...sure, for isolated bits of time there has been a moderately strong middle class. Even during those times there is some research pointing to the fact that it's mostly story, less reality for the majority of the population. We hear about the people who were apprentices or put themselves through school. The rest of them had jobs, had kids, and died. Mostly though, even for civilization, it was kings and queens plus poverty. Before that everyone was kinda poor, if you can apply that sort of thing to hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers. In reality that last category is really the majority of humanity, so upward mobility is nil(40,000 years of stagnation versus 700 of dramatic rising. It's all dependent on what context you're discussing). Of course nowadays it's better. We have social programs, however flawed, and good nutrition for the most part, and many many other stabilizing factors.

I guess it's all a story of progress...how much do you subscribe? And I'm just as conflicted as the next person. I guess there is no straight arrow.

One thing that bugs me is that people cannot even admit that whatever ideas they might hold dear could possibly be proven incorrect. The dearer an opinion is the more someone will fight tooth and nail no matter what the consequences. If you have a narrative about yourself, that's even more inextricable than a normal story about the world. Everyone thinks they are average, thinks that the world would back them up if given the chance. If you live in New York that is probably not true. If you make 50K a year or more that is probably not true. If you like espresso and growing your own herb garden that is probably not true(all of these things, you will notice, are also true of me!). This isn't to say that you are wrong for being rich or well educated or liberal(things I enjoy being). But it also doesn't mean you're right.

Almost everyone I went to high school with in my middle America, suburban town is still in that same town, making the same or less than their parents, living paycheck to paycheck. There was little mobility for my town. Maybe the lesson is to have kids in New York.

A lot of the world wasn't so bad off without colonialism, either.

Another thing I'll take away from tonight is that women "forced themselves in" to the workplace, and it is their fault that every family needs two incomes to survive. We are all in debt because of feminism. I'll just leave you with that. There are NO OTHER INFLUENCES on the worldwide economy, or even the American economy, than those darn feminists. Down with the ERA! Somehow we have less choice now because we have to work than we did when we were only allowed to be mothers and homemakers! I am so happy that that's even a sentence---I am allowed to have a job!

This may sound a little angry, and I don't want it to be that way. I have strong feelings about some things. Anti-feminists do bother me, because I don't think it's even possible for women of my generation to understand what it must have been like to be treated as less than human because they were women, less intelligent, less able to handle life, emotional to the point of frivolity, never allowed to do pretty much anything intellectual---the only thing that gives me any spark of excitement, passion about life, ANYTHING, is the chance to think, to generate ideas, to contribute maybe, but immerse myself certainly, in the world of ideas. If that were barred to me I would be even more miserable than I am today. (And yes, I know that sometimes rich women were allowed to dabble.) And I have faced discrimination because I am female...perhaps I'm just sensitive to that sort of thing.

There weren't computers or computer scientists, there weren't cars or cutting edge science and medicine or many of the things we take for granted in the past. To say that all that's really important are traditional whatevers---social strata (women in their place, men in theirs, one given one spot in society, the other given choice. Or even further back, where women still had one choice, but men had maybe two or three...), professions, choice of hobby, choice of thought, choice of whatever...give me the future instead of the past any day! If things are better now then they once(re: mobility) were you can't cherry pick! Why isn't feminism a part of why things are better?

Also, I'm never going to agree that looking at things from a feminist perspective is a bad thing, regardless of what you apply it to. Noam Chomsky, that old pot-stirrer, talks about the balking from every corner about being "PC." His perspective? That the status quo sure stays status, and that whatever little strides are taken in the path to equality, or change of any kind for that matter, are going to be bounded by backlash. As in, if you have a little bit of change there is going to be fighting to the death, fighting and screaming until there is no more energy left, kicking and scratching to keep things the way they are. I know that things were different in the past. I know that there was no concept of feminism in 500 BCE. That doesn't mean we can't go inside the narrative of history and see what we can understand from our modern perspective. Well, to be perfectly honest, that's all we can do! Just instead of mainstream history book being the only modern perspective, we also have a view from another perspective. None of them will be totally accurate.

My current philosophy professor might have something to say about this as well. I told him I think that I am a contextualist. That all of my memories and my DNA and my level of education and what I've been exposed to give me a different qualia, or experienced state of consciousness, than everyone else on the planet. He countered to me: "Look at the phone on the desk. No matter our different contexts, we both can have the *exact* same understanding that there is a phone on the desk." It doesn't matter that I might have a phone phobia or he might be a Luddite. So a Medieval mind might have a different context, but its cognitive capacity is very similar, and while context is important, it's not everything. Plus, we know more now than we did back then!

I certainly do not agree with the strain in modern thought that goes on and on about "lost knowledge," replete with pseudo-mysticism and esoteric context worship. It's certainly possible that there has been lost information, but given the information that comes out of most of history, I can't make myself believe that it's anything important. Maybe some more mythological stories, totems, astrology, alchemy, numerology, whatever. We love the esoteric, the mystery, the idea that there might be something more. But the reality is is that we have so much more by way of information and idea than at any point in human history. And barring catastrophe, its going to keep on going that way.

1000 years from now we're going to look like ignorant peasants, and compared to the humans of then, we will be! But if you pulled one of us up there, we'd probably be able to get where they were coming from once we learned enough stuff. But they'd never be able to unlearn what they had already assimilated.

Ideas are what make us, I am glad to live now with more knowledge, more theory, more excitement of what we might figure out later...if I didn't have the total immersive wondrous thrill of learning new and lovely things out on the brink of the totality of human knowledge I would truly despair!

I am certainly not saying that I'm good at being an intellectual. Or really good at ideas. But if you have a passion in life and are barred from it...ugh, I'm glad I don't have to live it.

The world is a complex place, and no one factor has created total economic or social realities. To blame things that have been in the works for hundreds or thousands of years on a movement that has had steam or sway for 40 years max, that I find silly. Okay, I need to stop. I love my friends despite vastly different ideologies.
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(no subject) [Sep. 10th, 2010|01:53 am]
When I'm alone I feel like I can conquer the world.
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(no subject) [Mar. 3rd, 2010|11:04 pm]
I keep updating then taking the entries down, because I try to analyze what's going on in my life and in my head, but when I reread it it seems like just a litany of complaints. But I want to start to write again, and I've not really been good at doing that off of the computer, so perhaps I'll review the books I read here. Won't necessarily be all that interesting, but it will fulfill part of my need. I want to be a writer in some theoretical land inside of me, but I don't practice or do anything about it. And I only sort of think I want to be a writer; if I were to get into that we'd be back into the land of complainy-ton, so I'll just say I've been feeling all around mediocre of late and leave it at that.

Problem is I haven't read much that has really impressed anything particularly stunning or new lately. I've been reading quite a bit, though. Let's think. The Numbers Game, Tree of Smoke, White Tiger, The Road, History, The Drunkard's Walk, The Right Stuff, now I'm reading 2666. I guess I need a non-fiction break, cause I'm getting a little tired of the okay-to-middling fiction. I mean, the stories are interesting to a degree, and thought provoking sometimes, but never blow you out of the water like Pamuk's Snow or Middlesex or Life of Pi. I could write about things I've read further in the past: Of Human Bondage, some Oliver Sacks stuff, or David Sedaris, or...other stuff. I need something to move me; I feel like I'm trapped in my boring life by my own devices, so reading is my only real escape.

And running! I've been running, ten miles yesterday. I signed up for the lottery for the NYC marathon, who knows if I'll get a spot, I'm guessing no. But then I can raise money for charity and run that way. I don't know if I'll work hard enough.

One thing I worry myself about is my inability to move past the first step in any endeavor. Reading philosophy and taking detailed reading journals, learning French, looking for a job, organizing the apartment, training the dog, eating right...will I give this up too?

But running is in my makeup, I started as a kid so it's incredibly natural to me. And I more or less enjoy it. Ten miles! I'm fairly happy about that. Ugh, I'm sleepy, but no sleep for the soon to be drunk. :P
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(no subject) [Jun. 28th, 2009|07:46 am]
What was meant to be a meditation turned into a bitch fest, so I'm going to try again later.
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I'm kind of dumb. [May. 21st, 2009|10:14 pm]
So today I met with a philosophy meetup group, organized by meetup.com. It was my first time there, and really my first time discussing "real" philosophy in my whole life. I simultaneously believe myself a fool, and the others in the group. Which proves the notion that there is no truth, because they're probably both true.

I should be humble; the organizer and several other members are steeped in philosophical knowledge and study. Yet I'm not, as you might imagine. I like to open my big fat mouth. I have opinions on everything, and I usually think I'm right.

We're reading Hegel's Science of Logic (your fave, danO, the Heg-meister.) Today we only covered about two pages, because of frequent diversionary discussions, usually initiated by me. Often I'll play the innocent, the eager student, because people love to teach, to feel important. Sometimes I believe they especially like to do this when the object of thier teaching is a woman, regardless of the sex of the instructor. But I digress (as usual).

As the initial innocent, in addition to actually wanting a fuller knowledge of things of which I'm ignorant, it's difficult to get people to listen to you. Which is frustrating when you know all the answers ;-).

To the meat of the matter, the several men indoctrinated within philosophical scholarship seemed often to not be able to break away from canon. A canon which is fascinating, and of course valuable to learn. Which is the instance in which I should sit down and shut up, listen and learn.

The introduction I read was about why the study of logic needed new, big ideas, and it needed to be systematized. Apparently the students versed in the traditions read it as a slam of Kant. Historical perspective is all. Ironically, Hegel's dialectic is all about the inability to ever make a clean break from that which came before, and new knowledge or spirit is always grounded in the past belief structures.

Yet when I discuss ideas I don't want to talk history.

Postmodernists tell us that no text is interpreted the way the author intended, and this subjective reading is truth for each individual, and no interpretation is any more or less accurate than another. I love this idea, at least in the specific sense that if a passage of text is generative, you should run with it and think of as many branches of the ideas you have as you can. Philosophy may need its systematized models, but it needs creative thought, speculation, and different ways of thinking about things thought of many times previous. Can these men not separate themselves from strict academic interpretation? Is my knowledge of the issues so scant that my ideas are nonsense? Can the act of generating interesting thought of the world around you be nonsense?

I'm often wrong and right, simultaneously, so I can barely tell what's going on.
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(no subject) [Apr. 12th, 2009|10:38 pm]
Another example of me not being able to express myself well is in a recent argument with Todd about what makes a good, fulfilling, cohesive community, and for me some of this is more of a feeling than a logical position, so I guess I get more heated. More specifically, my idea of how a community "should" be has been built over years and years, class after class, book after book, movie after movie, and I have a tough time teasing out the whys and the whats. But there are parts of my beliefs that I do think sound and beneficial to people (and to me, to what I want! :P Which, of course, I plan to get into in this entry).

I worry that I do hold up standards to the way things "should" be entirely too often, and I think I've talked about that here. I don't just do it for the big things, like jobs and romantic relationships and friendships, but for every damn little thing. Dishes should be washed in a certain way, reading a book has to be challenging enough, well written, and I have to focus in a certain way for it to be meaningful, etc. It's part of why I'm so anxious all the time. They also call this perfectionism, and most people with anxiety and depression manifest it in some way or another. I'm learning how to let it go, and it feels good.

So I wonder if my want of a bohemian community full of weirdos and artists and creative people is a fantasy that has never existed, nor ever will, or if my belief that Manhattan has become "mallified" is overblown, or if, more likely, the truth is somewhere between me and Todd. Commodification and consumerism are certainly real threats to meaning in human life, but probably not as grave of such as I imagine. And convenience is not something I'd really like to give up in a lot of cases. But is this pathology of the times on my part, or is there a positive outcome to this convenience?

I read The Geography of Nowhere in college, which has some very interesting points, anecdotes, and passages, but overall is actually a really super dull work, to me anyway.

Okay, be back to finish, dinner time!
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(no subject) [Apr. 12th, 2009|09:12 pm]
I've had a little bit of a short fuse lately, but not really a short fuse to anger, more like one to annoyance and frustration. I have all these Ideas about things that come up in life, or about what I'm reading, and I try to talk to people about them, but am always rebuffed, for various reasons. Todd says he likes to have intellectual discussions, but then says I yell at him when we disagree (which is pretty much on every topic). I do get annoyed when he cuts me off or won't listen to my argument, but in general I'm not even close to annoyed when he clams up. I just get passionate about my ideas, and speak louder.

A lot of people say they like debate, but in my experience most don't. Everyone takes being disagreed with a little bit personally, including me. And even aside from that, most people don't listen to what other people say, they just gloss over and wait for their turn to speak, again including me. When I talk about stuff I always feel rushed, like I don't have the time to make my point before being intruded upon. So I guess I"m not sure I really like debate either. Convincing people is tough, and I'd rather they just understood what I meant and then believed me. :P

I've been reading this book, Nature Via Nurture, by Matt Ridley, for a while now. I read about 4/5 of it a few months ago and then let it go a bit, but am now trying to finish. I don't know why I can't concentrate on it, it's a very interesting read. I guess when something is intellectually challenging I psyche myself out, which really gets me down.

Anyway, the whole thing is about how the nature v. nurture debate is ridiculous, and genes take their cue from the environment and genes also determine who you become. In other words, you and your environment form a complex system that cannot be disentangled. To me this is common sense, and some of the downstream effects of this play directly into parts of my worldview.

I don't think I understand the universe, or ever will, but I do have an ability to synthesize information and understand models of the world. And that is what science is, a bunch of models of the world. I've also been lucky to have studied social science from teachers who focused upon good, strong, clear thinking. And a good, strong, clear thinker never oversimplifies. They always remember that everything effects everything else, nothing is clear cut, correlation is not causation, etc., etc. And with my disclaimer done, I can move on to my argument.

My friend Melissa often oversimplifies. She takes stereotypes and boils everything down to support of those stereotypes. I don't want it to seem like I'm just beating her up in the rest of my entry, because she's just the latest in the parade of almost all people I talk to to regularly do this. And it infuriates me. There are so many things wrong with doing this that I get so flustered I am unable to dismantle their ridiculous claims. Such as, with M recently: all human behavior comes down to the drive to mate.

It sounds reasonable and compelling. Because our human brains have accidentally(sort of) evolved to parse information through simple answers. Our ancestors were faced with lots of information, lots of environmental data. And the ones who survived were better at classifying information and storing only what helped them get by. That's natural selection. That's kind of why there is still a nature v. nurture debate at all! (Scientists have been past it mostly, for decades) We like black and white reasoning, we like clear cut.

With her specific simplification, I can attack on many different fronts. Imagine an ancient person, and their civilization. They have a set of genes. Some survive and pass on their genes more successfully than others. Now, within that set of genes, maybe you have the ability to hunt game better and engineer better shelters. In this example, those are the only two things the environment and your genes have combined in you to help you to survive better than your peers. But there are probably a whole slew of other traits that are neutral, that don't help you to survive or hinder you. Bad posture, a liking for talking, whatever. Some traits you have are just neutral, in other words.

Two, there's nothing so simple as "the genes for." Such as "the genes for aggression," or "the genes for creativity." As mentioned previously, there is a complex interplay between the environment and the genes. Many "downstream effects," also mentioned before, are results of this interplay and come as a side effect of some other process. Some of these side effects are selected because their primary functions are selected, and have nothing to do with, well, pretty much anything.

Three, I can name a bunch of traits that aren't reproductive in origin that are "common sense" as to why they would aid in survival: compassion, which gets other people to help you; love, which attaches you to offspring and close kin; cooperation; and friendship. I'm sure there are more, but let's move on.

A difficult section of the book discussed the origins of culture, and language, which obviously are large topics of scientific research and speculation, and these two are often intertwined and difficult to tell apart. Which drives me crazy, because often one is passed off as the other. In this example, Ridley discusses changing bones in the hand and wrist, and the expansion of the brain, and then extrapolates as to how these things affected culture, and vice versa. It's certainly interesting speculation, and there is evidence for some of what he discusses, but certainly not all. I digress, as usual.

He concludes that culture is extraneous to whatever it is that made us human beings, separate from the rest of the the animal kingdom. We had our brain capacity for a million years and we only had one tool, the hand axe. Nothing changed. Our hands changed many many years before our vocal chords did, leading many to believe that we developed gestural language long before vocal.

So now, lets relate this all to the topic at hand. The accepted doctrine is that the ability to accumulate knowledge (part of what makes us "special"), which is culture, came about because of population density and trade, division of labor.

So all that we have as human beings, our thousands of years of fighting to get away from "genetic determinism," our art, our science, our music---has little to do with base survival. Not exactly a super complicated or mind blowing concept, but it does have a lot of repercussions that may not be immediately apparent. And a lot of people define themselves within these spheres---as a dancer or a sculptor or a writer, whatever. To say they aren't important to what it means to be human, or central to behavior is naive and, in my opinion, absurd.

And yes, you can relate some of that to pure reproductive instinct: some behaviors are downstream from displaying genetic traits to the opposite sex. But as always, it's more complex than that.
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(no subject) [Apr. 7th, 2009|11:34 am]
I've been a smoker for ten years. My story is the same as many, that of course I didn't start out to get hooked, I did it socially, I enjoy it so why would I quit, I'm addicted but I think quitting will reduce my happiness, etc.

I've been on and off trying to quit for about three or four years. And been thinking about it for even longer. About a year ago I stopped for three or four months completely, but I think I broke down and had a cigarette or two just weeks into it. I'd get these thoughts, these thoughts that nothing else could ever make me happy, that my life sucked so bad and cigarettes were the only pleasure I had, so why shouldn't I smoke?

All the literature I'd seen treats quitting as this grave thing, this mountain you are approaching that may just be too big to climb. You might, even probably, won't be able to conquer it. And that's because you're giving something wonderful up, something dear to you.

But now I'm reading Alan Carr's The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, and I'm actually excited to be a non-smoker. At the risk of sounding gushy or naive or gullible, it's pretty fucking cool.

He's not really all that good of a writer, I don't agree with some of his major tenets, you could drive the space shuttle through some of his fallacies in logic, often he relies on stereotypes which he abhors just sentences previous, and he contradicts himself quite a lot.

But his major thesis and the reinforcement he gives for it has lifted a weight off of me in relation to smoking. Lifting a weight isn't powerful enough to describe it really. It's more like euphoria. I'm not saying I definitely won't mess up, that I'm done for good, because addiction certainly is powerful. But for the first time ever, I can actually be sincere in pride of non-smoking.

People who have never been addicted to anything I don't think can even begin to understand how powerful your brain can be when it is wired to want something. You make up the rationalizations that are the most powerful to your own brain, and then you put them on a pedestal. My friend Dan and I used to talk about how smokers were the interesting ones, the artistic ones, the creative ones, etc., etc. There is this mystique surrounding being a smoker, the act of smoking, that makes it cool, that makes it rebellious and wonderful and attractive. The book helps me to tell myself honestly that that's just a bunch of stupid bullshit. I'm not more creative because I spend money to poison myself. I'm not more artistic, more of a loner, more of a leader, more interesting.

I've noticed that same romanticization of depression, of mental illness, and I think it's all part of the same trope. There are certain historical archetypes that make the Other, the misfit, the weirdo, etc., the creative one who can have insights about people that status quoians can't. But correlation isn't always causation. Okay, this is a little bit of a divergence. But it's something I've been thinking about a long time. And in the case of smoking, I really do believe that one thing has nothing to do with the other.

If you look at it honestly, smoking gives nothing. You are losing nothing when you give it up. Absolutely nothing. You aren't climbing a mountain, you're shedding a handicap. And if you can learn to look at it that way, the whole game changes. I haven't had a cigarette in five days, and I feel fucking fantastic. I have energy, my stomach doesn't hurt, my fingers feel better, and I'm smiling!

If you're a smoker, read the book. Don't be afraid of what you think you're losing anymore! Because you aren't losing anything but an addiction. Any satisfaction you receive from smoking is just staving off withdrawal from an addiction. Even withdrawal so mild that it doesn't seem like it's "really" an addiction. That, in fact, is what makes it so sinister with smoking. It's still really an addiction, and you're still really a junkie. But it doesn't fuck you up so bad as heroin or alcoholism, so you can convince yourself that it's not that big of a deal.

So once you get past all that, yes, you will be happy. You will be calm, able to concentrate, able to enjoy coffee and beer without a smoke, able to drive long distances, able to listen to your favorite song. Actually even more than when you did smoke. Because get this--there is no pleasure from the smoking, just from the relief of withdrawal.

I know I'm going on and on, but the reversal of mourning a loss to the rejoice of change is a big one for me. I hope I can make it last. I should do it with drinking, too, probably, but that's a different entry. :P
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(no subject) [Mar. 10th, 2009|07:32 pm]
When I stay away from LiveJournal for a while, I go back as far as I can on the friends list and skim faster and faster, feeling overwhelmed and agitated that I'm not caught up. I feel this way about feeds, television shows, music, sometimes books, as well. It's ridiculous, and I can't stop it. Never enough, never enough. I guess I do it with everything I try to do---all or nothing.

I've been thinking about fame for the past few days.

Living in New York brings me near to a lot of celebrities. I'm kind of oblivious when I walk around, usually thinking of my nerves or the scenery or getting to where I'm going, so I don't notice most of them, I'm sure. Often it takes me being with someone else, and having them point out the person, before I see anyone.

There's this idea of how you are supposed to be in NYC, which is to let the stars be and give them a place they can live normally. It goes along with a supremely long list of other ways you're supposed to be if you want to be a "real" New Yorker, but that's a different topic and would diverge from my point. I'll just say that for the most part I agree with this one. Celebrities may be public figures, but I can understand wanting to take a walk or buy toilet paper or get lunch without being hounded.

In discussion of this very topic, after having both Gabriel Byrne and David Arquette (or Luke Wilson, they sort of look the same to me, and he went by quickly) walk by our table, my friends and I had a dissatisfying discussion on fame. Not because of its content(no fault on the part of the friends, in other words), but because it's been brewing in my head for a while and I can't quite articulate why just yet. I said I didn't want to be a starfucker, and that's true. I don't want to bother people, and that is true as well.

Yet when I see someone there's this little thrill that runs through me, against my will. And I wonder why.

During that same discussion, a friend posited that you want to go and say hi to people that have done something that has meant something to you. Thank them. And I guess that's part of it. But it happens with people I couldn't give two shits about, also. I brought up the national obsession we have with fame, trying to get to the meat of the matter, but again just skimmed the surface.

Why do we want to be so near famous people? Do we think somehow it'll validate us? That all of a sudden we'll be discovered as amazing human beings that deserve fame ourselves? That they'll fall in love with us and make us special? Give us money? Importance? What makes a person deserving of fame? Is there such a state? None of it makes sense to me.

I know you feel like you know someone if you've seen all their movies, or you see them on TV all the time, and I know you don't actually know them. I know that a glance from an actor won't bestow me with riches or respect or a purpose in life. So why the excitement?

I've always said I would never want to be famous, and that is both true and not true, but mostly the former. I can barely take strangers looking at me now, as an anonymous denizen of a city. I do not take criticism well, and find the level of scrutiny given to stars bilious and absurd.

Yet I always said I wanted to be remembered, make my mark. With books, with ideas and knowledge, with thoughts. I'd just always imagined a Thomas Pynchon type dealie. Hiding away, furtive. Even my full name on Facebook gives me pause.

So I have a war in myself, thinking my brushes (more like light atomic dusting, for the actual interaction I don't have with fame) might put me near to permanence and world markage, while simultaneously knowing how ridiculous that is?

Another aspect is my rabid jealously of success. It's unbearable to see someone who has made something of themselves. Not because I think they shouldn't have the successes they do, but because I see them and am reflected only the wasted time of my life, my void of experience(everything's about me, didntcha know). My past is a bubbling cauldron of piss poor memories, ones I'd like boiled away. Well, that's how I recall it, anyway, which is half the problem.

To sum up my paragraphs of cliche with another: I want everyone to acknowledge me and my wonderfulness, while also disappearing and crawling in a little hole and never talking to anyone, ever again. Everything in me comes down to judging or being judged.
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(no subject) [Feb. 8th, 2009|08:30 pm]
Perfectionism is a thing a lot of people experience at different levels, but I'm convinced that, like most aspects of mental dysfunction, it's not really something these people analyze as to how it really manifests inside their heads and lives, or empathize with when it is experienced by other people. Instead it's a throwaway comment, like "I'm about to panic." People who say that have probably never panicked in their lives. What I am trying to get at is that there are some things that get you in the gut because you can feel the other person's feelings, but for some reason mental hardships are very difficult to empathize or sympathize with.

Perfectionism manifests itself strangely for me. I generally don't start things because I know they will not be the way I want them to be. That, in itself, isn't all that strange. When I think of how my projects/self/world/whatever would be if they were the way I wanted them to be, I realize that it's sort of like the search for a unified theory in the physical sciences. They want a few equations to encompass the entire universe; I want one moral/character/organizing principle/value system/self master list to describe me, and my entire life. I try to break things down: what I want to do with my days, how I want to be healthy, both mentally and physically, what I want to do with my mind, how I want to love, how I want to relate to people, whatever. But every time I sit down and make lists the categories shift like sand.

I cobble together self knowledge and knowledge of others and the world a little piece at a time, and even as I do that I cannot point to any specific, concrete iota of information. It's all nebulous, connecting to many different things, un-pin-down-able. I need somewhere in my stomach, in my brain, in my heart, to pin things down. To put labels on them, to make them known.

And really, that's impossible.

It's not the way people experience life, the way they experience the surrounding environment. Sure, our brains are wired to categorize things, in order to make sense of sensory information. And sure, that becomes so enmeshed within our very makeup that we tend to take it to extremes, with the stereotypification of every damn little thing. But when you look around you see continuous reality, and when you think of something there are innumerable aspects to it, associations that you've made over the years you've been alive. When you dream you can't describe it well to other people because of those indescribable tangential feelings and smells and connexions with things you aren't even sure of yourself, so your wonderful amazing fantastic dream becomes "...well I was happy but not really and sad but actually a turtle but everything, even the sounds, were blue..." and people tell you to shut the fuck up.

It's amazing we can even categorize and list-ify to the extent we do, with the onrush of crap that comes across our paths every day, added to all the crap that's already stored inside our heads and our bodies.

We've built an amazing upside down pyramid of knowledge that is new every day, added to constantly, and is really the difference between monkey and consciousness...it's this huge, comprehensive, contradictory, shifting, growing, learning body that no one person can ever really "get." It goes without saying that it's cobbled together as well. I may as well accept the fucking plaguing uncertainty that eats away at my every teeny moment, or I'll be frozen forever. Also for the other ten million reasons I'm frozen [fear of failure, short term comfort beats long term gain every time, fear of judgment, obsession with inadequacies---other things that are hard to care about in other people, but paramount in your own brain), but hey, one at a time.
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