This was a strain

Too much caffeine too early. Mind moving too fast, fingers shaking, anxiety rising. It’s early morning again, that two hour window of serenity that makes life worth living. I look forward to being awake earlier than other people, when it’s just me, my mug of coffee, and my computer. A little reading, a little writing, and some contemplation are all I need to feel content. From there things go downhill. What follows my electronic, monkish morning is boredom, apathy, indolence, resentment, and licentiousness.

 

Do we get recliners in Plato’s cave?

My time off while I recovered was supposed to be productive. I had visions of industrious engagement with the great books of the Western Canon. It was finally time to set aside the petty thoughts and electronic distractions and get to work. The inertia of recovery made me even more distractible, intellectually flighty, and self absorbed. I flitted from video to video, article to article, Facebook post to twitter feed, riding a wave of inattention and avoidance. What happened to my concentration? Like an elastic band stretched too far too many times, my attention span went slack. Even youtube videos move too slowly, and I find myself reading Facebook posts and instagram captions while dimwits hurl their precious invectives at the enemy ists and isms. I’m paying so little attention to any of it but I still need it to be on, I need the useless tirades, the boiler plate haranguing, the spittle, the head shaking, the talking over, the talking down, the contrived debates where the contempt each participant has for the other oozes out of the screen.

Why would anyone want to argue with a person that disagrees with them? I’ve never understood this. Is it the possibility of humiliating someone? Of catching them in contradictions and exposing their hypocrisy? Do we not understand that the tools we use to undermine our enemies can easily be turned on ourselves? I think that’s why people become so focused on the weaknesses of their opponents, real or imagined. If it weren’t for the evil feminists, or the leftists, or the conservatives, men’s rights activists, communists, libertarians, marxists, oligarchs, big pharma, big business, anarchists, criminals, black lives matter, all lives matters, I hate cops, I respect and defend cops, free markets, controlled markets, the federal reserve, islamophobes, transphobes, brown muslim terrorists, white christian terrorists, the NRA, the NAACP, the NSA, the UN, structural inequality, systemic racism, globing warming, global warming hoaxes, Donald Trump, and that guy that cut you off in traffic, we’d realize how hollow we are, and that our own thoughts and desires are self defeating.

Not only do large groups fight with each other, they also fight with themselves. Scholastic, hairsplitting, nut twisting disputes erupt over terminology and semantics, over definitions, history and legacy. No, that’s social democracy, communism is…. We’ve never had true fill in the blank, we have a mixed blah blah blah. I agree with original intent and aim of generic movement a, but the fourth wave, red guard mutation is a betrayal of yada yada. Then you have the fallacy mongers, the dorks that just finished reading an introductory logic book and fancy themselves indisputable masters of argument. Well actually that’s a reducto ad absurdum, ad hominem, straw man, begging the question, circular reasoning, genetic fallacy. What about the fallacy accusation fallacy, where you commit the error of thinking your fly by night grasp of latin and logic gives you a semblance of clout? Whenever someone mentions a fallacy I always imagine their underwear getting yanked up over their head, or I hear the sound of an inhaler.

I’m not sure if enough people are aware that Socrates was a dickhead. What did he really do? He would speculate on the transcendent conditions of human life and encourage people to seek the good. Well enough. But how did he go about doing that? The greater part of his life was spent making people look like jackasses using disingenuous arguments. Just read any dialogue where he gets into it with a sophist or friend of a friend. He takes a common sense position, which is totally adequate for the purpose of social cohesion and practical action, and through a process of vicious abstraction and ironic questioning, turns it into a baffling mystery, a piece of nonsense no sensible person could any longer accept. Once a reasonable, everyday assumption has been unraveled, he offers, well, not much beyond vague aspirations and clumsy, inelegant myths. Sounds pretty goddamn familiar.

The opium of the asses

Another night interrupted, another hideously early morning. I had been sleeping better than ever, but the pain killers probably had something to do with that. Now I’m back to my normal, fitful self. I’m stressed out because my body is still healing from the trauma of surgery, and on top of that I’m in the process of breaking up with my girlfriend. The great experiment of moving to the capital and living with a romantic partner is coming to an end. We were doomed, we had nothing going for us. You take an episode of infidelity right before the move, you add living in the most expensive, stressful, work obsessed city in the US, two people with no experience living with significant other’s, both low energy, depressive, anxious types, and you get domestic discord. It had become consistent and impossible to fix. The constant tension, the outbursts over nothing, the mind numbing nightly dosage of weed and Seinfeld; I felt myself choking, my vision waning, and the little life I had draining away.

I wanted to try something different. This was too much. Maybe if I had a better job, more lucrative prospects. Maybe if she hadn’t cheated. Maybe if I weren’t just, at bottom, an aloof creature, incapable of sustaining profound love for another person. When things don’t work out with a particular person, they always say that it’s just not the right time, and that they weren’t the right one. Possibly. But I’ve looked deep within myself, and at the world, and I seriously doubt my own ability to care for someone else enough to commit to them for the rest of my life. Does this make me a bad person, a defective, a degenerate?I just got a new dick, and I can’t use it yet, but at 29 years old, I want to be able to enjoy it without the hassles of commitment for at least a few years. Am I past the age where such freedom is charming? Am I fast approaching the age where wanton bachelorhood becomes sad? Surely I can’t be there yet.

I have limited options right now for housing. I think I need to move out of this apartment, but I can hardly afford to keep living in D.C. Without a car, I’d need to live in a decent part of the city, in a hip and accessible quadrant, and the apartments there are so expensive that only saudi oil lords could afford it. I have one lead on a room in a shared house that I could just barely afford, with grit and strenuous exertion. I would have to eat beans and rice, do pushups and sit-ups, and sleep and fuck on a wad of towels. All the amenities of life would be gone. A bare prison cell of a room, threadbare clothing, and tin can dining. My superfluous macbook worth more than my life. At least I could get laid. That I do know. That may be worth it, sad as it may sound. Plus I don’t want to go back to my homeland, and I want to be close to my surgeon in case there are any complications. I can’t keep living with my girlfriend, soon to be ex, but remaining here will be incredibly difficult.

It is times like these that having a little more financial leverage would be helpful. I’m just a dirty barista though, and my coffee preparing skills aren’t worth much. Nor should they be. I am very ignorant about economics, and that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m poor. I wasted years of my youth studying marxism, for christ’s sake. Spent countless hours straining my brain to understand abstruse explanations for why a few people get rich on the backs of everyone else. It is an all encompassing, paranoid delusional system of thought that enslaves and brutalizes humanity as it promises freedom. You know, your standard religious fare. The point has been made countless times. Actually, it’s quite a bit worse than many religions; christianity at least has a legacy of beauty and greatness in art, philosophy, and literature. Handel and Bach, Dante, Augustine and Aquinas, the Scholastics, to name a few. Not to mention the influence on architecture. What is Marxist art and literature? Ugliness, resentment, theoretical effrontery, utterly soul destroying. Why do people make the choice to waste their time with indigestible theories on a corrupt economic system, when they could be improving themselves and becoming more attractive and productive human beings?

 

 

Where did you go, little doggie?

My girlfriend’s bearded dragon is lost in the house. My girlfriend is gone, and coming back tomorrow morning. I tried to be a good house husband, I cleaned, washed the dishes, took out the trash, fed the lizards, and then, for my final act, the crown of failure atop a body of good works, I lost a lizard. The despair and hatred I feel over losing this creature is washing over me in waves. I took that little shit out and turned my back for five seconds, and now she’s nowhere to be found. It’s maddening to search a cluttered, elaborately decorated home for a slender, quick reptile that seeks out and inhabits crevices. I’ll never find her. My search skills just aren’t sharp enough, and they never were. All my life I’ve been bad at looking for things. Just generally. Everyone hates me for this.

It’s also becoming exasperatingly apparent just how much shit, how much stuff, trinkets, accouterments, pillows, blankets, curtains, tapestries, clothing, rugs, cases, containers, bed tables, dressers, desks, and various other objects of home decor that I will have to sift through and rearrange in my futile campaign. I was really on the verge of turning it around, trying to be a little more positive, a little more upbeat and hopeful. My surgery is coming up, I’m eating better, keeping things clean, not acting like a total asshole, and breathing and stretching. And then I lose this stupid animal that my girlfriend loves. It always has to be something.

The horizon of thought

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that think in terms of opposition, and those that don’t.

I would characterize our current condition as one in which people obsess over the hypocrisy of their opponents. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, the denunciation is the same. “This group of people over here is guilty of saying one thing and doing another!” It is a charge of unequal application of a principle, of focusing only on certain cases that support a belief, and ignoring others that challenge or undermine it. Let me first say that I don’t really know what this means or what could be done about it, or if it’s even a positive or negative development. I’m merely outlining what I see as a limit to our thinking in the present.

It might have something to do with the rapidity with which people typically share information. It might be that people are generally crass, listless, and only feel passionately engaged when they are exposing the weakness and stupidity of others. A belief or an idea is never examined for itself or on its own merit, it merely serves as a pretext for sneering at people. Similarly, we love to indulge in sloppy psychologizing. Rather than ask whether a belief is plausible, or whether it is relevant to the specific context of the conversation we’re having,  we focus on what it must mean for a person to hold such a belief. “If you think this then you’re afraid!” Fear is bad, but only when it is the wrong kind of fear, and that is determined by….well, people who shout louder in the arena I suppose, or pretend to a democratic majority.

People that fear the government are paranoid, people that fear muslim terrorists are redneck racists. People that turn around and make a show of fearing radical white christian terrorists, on the other hand, are witty political satirists. If a muslim blows himself up and takes others with him, people say, “that wasn’t because of his beliefs, it was US foreign policy.” When a white man shoots up a church, planned parenthood, or school, people say “it was his beliefs, imposed on him by fox news, and not US domestic policy.” And you see that even now I am doing exactly what I described just moments ago. I can only point out inconsistency in the application of a standard. I am trapped by this way of thinking just like everyone else. It’s fun and pretty easy to d0, makes you feel accomplished and perspicacious, and distracts attention from your own inadequacies.

And there I went ahead with the psychologizing. It must be a desire to appear a certain way to oneself and others that drives this behavior. The one two punch: condemn hypocrisy, psychologize your opponent. We dance into the night, enemies in arms.

 

 

 

The shit hub

7 am, alone again. I live in Southeast D.C., which is heavily segregated and underdeveloped. 97 percent black. No sit down restaurants or bookstores until 2012. Now there are one or two places to sit down and have a meal. No coffee shops. Plenty of shootings, stabbings, squalor, illiteracy, diabetes, and kidney failure. Nothing but 7-11’s and Dialysis centers, liquor stores and barber shops. Nice cars though. Black people love nice cars. They will live in a dilapidated apartment complex and replace their broken windows with trash bags, but they won’t drive a cheap, shitty car. They drive brand new Malibus.

I live ten minutes from a bus station, right before you reach the bridge that takes you over the Potomac. I’ve dubbed it the toilet nexus. The shit swirl of the Southeast. All I want is one goddamn coffee shop within walking distance where I can waste my life reading and writing.

Yes, making fun of poor black people is one of the few consolations I have right now. People say you shouldn’t taunt the weak, poor, or disadvantaged.  For one thing, I have no money, and I live among these people. For another, fuck anyone who tries to tell others what can or can’t be said. You can not find something funny, but to forbid it because it violates your pious worldview is out of place. You may sarcastically deride the successful all day long, because of course their success is illicit, but you must never slander the poor minorities, cripples, and wretches, for they are pure and holy in their degraded station.