i think i can fairly say that i’ve never been that phlegmatic roman political type; the kind of man who is deliberative through and through to the point of fearing action, a man fond of words and working through possible future scenarios in his mind… he fears action appropriately because the fruits of his decisions greatly affect the citizenship of his commonwealth, he weighs one moment against another, one man against another… country, city, village, family accordingly. i have that brightness of mind when it comes to easy decisions: for example, should i smoke heroine tonight? i can deliberate that one quickly and foresee consequences of said decision easily. (i’m grateful about the base mode of foresight i’ve inherited from a good upbringing and positive educational experiences, etc.) but when it comes to something a little trickier, i arrive at great difficulty. i’ll provide a few examples. one of the first ones i can think of is responding to the dare of childhood friend, tim simpson, to skateboard down a steep asphalt hill: it ended in a corresponding upwards rising hill that would cancel my momentum should i make it to the valley of the first descent. the only deliberation i could come up with is, “man, that looks like it’s worth a try.” ending in many contusions, much pain. i repeatedly learned that lesson with my BODY. there is something so pleasant, however, in noticing the wisdom that that pain has offered my body, meaning i know that much more about moving oneself with risk and finesse in the physical world. (i’ve gotten better at it). trying things on for size is a vital part of my philosophy now. it’s a way of learning from history… and when it’s a lesson from one’s own visceral history of choice and action, it’s the place wisdom burgeons. i’m going to attach here a photo of a chair i made that didn’t work out. i refined it, defined it, and not happy with the existence of the chair, its shortcomings and lack of design, i burned it. here, it’s on fire: like magritte. only different. this is what i mean by trying something on for size. it happens psychologically too. i remember several years ago, sitting in front of a fire i made of furniture scraps and enjoying a glass of wine, watching the flames, sore after a day’s work, i suddenly imagined that my father was dead (when really he is still very much alive); i went through many volutions of the thought until i was convulsing in tears. like he was really gone. i wrote a poem about it and fully (as fully as i could produce) tried the feeling on for size. i think my mind kind of accepted the feeling and now it’s a form of preparation, latent, for when such a loss might actually occur. i know these aren’t completely amazing analogies, but really i’m just trying this idea on for size. … so today i was walking around downtown kind of wrapped up with myself, imagining what i’m going to do for future projects, where to put my energy, and i approached this young woman who had a very street urchin look about her, cute and apparently hungry. she asked me if i could spare one dollar for something to eat; that’s how she said it. it seemed reasonable, so i opened my wallet and discovered i only had 20’s. three of them. she looked at me look at the money in my wallet. i looked at her and said, that’s all i’ve got. she looked at me and comprehended, walked away, but i imagine she was also a tiny bit bitter and confused… like, there is some fairness in this universe, but i don’t have access to it: i need and this guy i’m busking needs less, but he’s only got sixty bucks, and i can’t ask for that. as she walked away i realized that i was circling on this superficial orbit of myself, completely removed from my pithy essence. that center is timeless and infinitely small, yet it defines the radius of that outer orbit, the trajectory of our lives, our decisions. i didn’t come to this realization becuase i did or did not give her money, but that i let my accounting of my own reserves dictate my feeling about this girl and what she was doing, which was actually to feel very little, to hesitate and fail at reaching her with my own voice, and thereby pass her on dark waters without any recognition that we are exactly the same. so i walked away and thought, wow, so i tried that response on for size and it doesn’t feel very good. i wasn’t so zen as to be present to her AT THE MOMENT she asked me for help. if i had, i don’t believe it would have “cost” anything; as it happened though, i ran after her and told her i would like to help her, and would she please accept twenty bucks. she hugged me and her presence, her body, her hunger, her patience… had gravity, a force that pulled me immediately into the middle of my self, onto that infinitely small point, and brought an exquisite sense of ecstasy.
i know blog doesn’t necessarily imply rant, but i’m in a bit of a mood. i’ve just experienced two tastes of consumerism today on its fully exploded level and have a sour taste in my mouth. i’ll try to arrive at these two experiences in a somewhat organic way here; so here’s a detour… last night a good friend sent me an article, really a wonderful intimation of something that lies more at the root of home buying and selling, as well as the idea of home in a more archetypal sense. the article is an essay actually, for a master’s thesis, about the metier of real estate “staging.” this is when a stager comes into a builidng/apartment/home before it’s on the market and stages it, i.e. prepares it for its ilk as a commodity. the stager, according to this article, will often remove everything in the old home, the “detritus,” re-paint sometimes, in other words drastically alter the space for public viewing. the reaction of the homeowners is almost unequivocally one of disgust and violation. the article argues that this is becuase it violates our instincts of dwelling, our idea of home is not that it should be born on a market, but that it should be dwelt within, made warm, the place we eat, sleep, make love, etc. so a precept offered by another guy, igor kopytoff (see this link, bottom of the page, if you’re interested: http://materialculture.udel.edu/achievements/emerging-scholars/ems-2006/papers.html) is that things held sacred, close to the heart (my paraphrase) and therefore untradeable, become highly traded commodities, like… well, homes. homes are traded at such alarming rates and for such monstruous sums because of their close proximity to our original natures. they are, in a sense, our only true possessions. so, dealing with this real estate guy (buying a house), he was so arrogant and unsuppine (just made that up) … as not to fix his own faulty work and, i think, just because people are crazy about houses and buying like crazy, that i would just go ahead with it anyway. even though it was a cool place, i walked on a matter of principal. it caused me to pause as well and contemplate this market of wolfish descendants of the earth’s first bi-peds. you know? what the hell is going on? why can’t we treat one another with some real curtesy? exchange of one home, the hearth from one individual to another is a sacred transaction and should be treated like a ritual, not like some cowboy who’s drunk and trying to cheat at cards just to pay an existing bad debt with human or god… so, there, i’ll let that be now. if it didn’t make sense to you, it must only show how entrenched i got in that mess. sorry, but yet another very souring thing happened here in seattle this evening. i went to r.e.i.-the headquarters (they called it the “flagship”-it wrenched my sensibilities right from the beginning. it’s got this demeanor like, “look we’re ecological… come in here and watch and learn how to be kind to mother earth, learn how to leave no trace.” and that’s fine, but it’s not in any way what they’re actually doing. the amount of product and industry in that building is staggering. let’s just address the building itself first: it is a titan of concrete and wood: there’s enough old growthh douglas fir in there to build an entire large neighborhood and concrete to, well, build a huge building. for the sake of a passionate argument, i’d like to make an assertion… (i’ll do some research on this later and let you knwo if i was right or wrong)… but my GUESS is that wood compared to concrete: a building built with concrete is more ecologically sound than one of wood, meaning the process done with concrete leaves less “trace” and contributes less to global warming, etc. either way the building is absolutely enormous with all kinds of, to my mind, hideous features, large bulky fake rock paths to try out hiking shoes, all kinds of paths with fake bark to try your prospect mountain bike outside, huge egg shaped rock wall inside to climb on (i actually kind of like that one), etc. anyway, the business is fully commercial, fully imbeded in the consumer trend of large corporate entities, selling their product without mercy… that store alone probably has in the hundreds of millions in merchandise. so walking around the store in kind of don quixote amazement, i see this sign that’s a little lesson about “how not to leave a trace.” the first thought i have in rejection of the sign is not to go there. you don’t want to leave a trace? don’t go there. why are we so set on bleaching nature and making it safe for ourselves and going into it so damn much. it takes the superstition out of to just march right into it whenever we feel like it and camp and eat and shit in there and mace the bears if they come up and tease them with titilating scents of our food and ourselves. and besides that, if r.e.i. were really concerned with leaving no trace, it would just not exist. but it’s obviously not very good at that. it is commodifying nature, it’s enabling people to better make their traces. here’s how you strap these things on, here’s the map to make your combustable fuel machine drive up the path to that temporarily pristing place, here’s the poles and the tent, now pay us and go in there and come back and buy more for when you want to do an even bigger performance in nature. that’s it: go perform in nature. and leave no trace. now of course i’m a hippocrite because i do at times love “going into nature.” i just think we should practice more having picnics in our own neighborhoods, enjoying our gardens and buildings and making them better and dancing and riding bicycles, etc. without driving up into nature so much. i mean we’ve already destroyed so much of it already just to clear the land where our cities and roads and electrical tranfer stations are. the bears want some peace and quiet, or at least their nature to themselves. that’s all i have to say about that.