Wednesday, September 17, 2014

all in all the clock is slow

This is my third attempt at blogging for myself. Before, I wanted to have a space to journal, to think for myself. It was never clear to me why I chose to have a personal journal on a website that was powered by Google, a force that is single handedly destroying what it means to have anything "personal." I can only assume, in retrospect, that it was some recipe of youthful naivete, self-indulgence, and unsuredness of my self, who I was. Though it is possible I may be these things still, or might always. However, I decided to revive this blog because writing, transcribing my collision with reality, is one thing I am sure of. 

It has been nearly a year and half since graduation from the small liberal arts school I called home for four years. I moved into the closest large city, Philadelphia almost immediately upon receiving the proverbial boot from education, all I had ever know up to that point. I worked for the first year in a nonprofit office that was delightfully normal in its political and social engagement, in addition to its professional standards. Most days consisted of me aimlessly venturing down the youtube/blogosphere k-hole, looking for new music and ideas to consider. On the days I had tasks to complete, they usually involved taking data from this spreadsheet, putting it on this other spreadsheet, and reorganizing it. This seems like a hyperbolic version of the soul-crushing day-to-day experience that is modern, capitalist office life. But it's not. My superiors made their living taking data from that spreadsheet and moving it to that spreadsheet. Though my position was merely a glorified internship, I had the same complaints as my fully-employed peers. I have since been working different part time jobs, attempting to make ends meet. My particular collection of jobs has involved a great deal of time spent at farmer's markets, which, of course, has kept me too close to the curious life of the modern, urban bourgeoisie for my own personal comfort. I have sought desperately for a full time, salaried position that would offer me health care, applying at time to 30 - 50 jobs a week, with a whopping 5 interviews to speak of. During this time, I was able to confront a very special form of capitalist alienation. I was dedicating my time to attempting to acquire something I didn't want in the first place. Working diligently for something I knew that I wouldn't enjoy or feel fulfilled by. If that's not some bullshit, I don't know what is. However, I was able to understand one thing during from whole process. Personally, I am not a fan of the whole negative learning perspective, the "Hey, you might not have liked it, but at least you know now that you don't!" since, I could have told you a long time ago that an office, or for that matter, most available employment, is more similar to a highly successful containment facility than it is to something that offers purpose and fulfillment. Anyway, I was able to see that I am not one for just passing time, and this is what most of the jobs I have ever had have felt like. I am better served in this world attempting to understand what it means that time passes at all, and that is where writing comes in.

I find it odd that anyone would be capable of living a life that amounts to just passing time. Maybe, work doesn't feel like that for some people. But I find that equally odd, since that is exactly what the current capitalist work schedule is build to do. Have people spend their time supporting a small corner of the system so that it never is allowed to leak or fall. Time is money, or whatever. But writing allows me to meet reality head-to-head, and then, most importantly, attempt to shape and bend the utterly meaningless chaos that is the lived experience into something that is identifiable, able to be understood. Though I might not ever be able to perfectly make sense of reality, people much more intelligent and adept at the nature of philosophical inquiry have spent their entire lives dedicated to this and come up short, it feels most productive and rewarding to dedicate time to trying this impossible task than it does to put data from that spreadsheet into this spreadsheet. 

Writing, in that it is an opportunity to make sense of and reshape reality, is no different than any other art form. Art's legacy is providing the window, the looking glass into the mind, where reality filters into the human experience. I spent a great deal of time in my life dedicated to serious, intentional political work. Activism is a truly noble, admirable cause. Anyone who can find the strength to stand up in the pile of shit that is the contemporary capitalist, racist, sexist, classist, etc, world and fight back should be commended as the defenders of justice and truth. However, even activism recently for me has been made monotonous and banal. Not in the same way as my experience with more traditional forms of work, obviously, but in a different more complicated way. The work of activism is intensely emotional. One must have great emotional space to fill in order to connect with people who need to be organized and to keep the proverbial finger pointed at the abstract constructions that make up The System. I found that my arm began to collapse under the constant pointing, and my emotional gas tank was running on empty. Those in activist circles probably know this as "burn out", an all too common phenomena for those involved in serious political projects. However, in addition to burn out, I also felt a lack of interest in asking the same questions, that inevitably had the same answers. Q: Why is there poverty in the world? A: Capitalism sucks. etc. I feel that these questions moved me to a point of consciousness that I can never, and will never, give back. Activism exposed me to the truths of modernity, the hypocrisies of the social and political landscape, and the wonders of the human condition, faith, love, and justice. But now, I wonder, what the fuck is the meaning of all of this, anyway? How do we live in this world that spends a great deal of time attempting to rip away any trace of sanity and self? Assuming, of course, that maintaining selfhood and sanity are significant. Which isn't to say that these questions are new to me, but I am in a different place in my life. I'm 22, nearly 23, on the cusp of my adult life, trying to figure out how I should spend my time, not only now, but for the future. Since the capitalist world has won the battle of youth, and everyone is forced to concede their youth in exchange for work, I must face the inevitable that I will soon conform and get a job, work for money and the like. I refuse to concede the opportunity to live a life of meaning to the world, and if activism isn't something I can dedicate my time to in the way I once did, then constructing a meaning using the tools of thought, the written word, and Art is something I will dedicate my time to. I included a David Foster Wallace quote as the subtitle of this blog. In Infinite Jest, he writes, 
“And Lo, for the Earth was empty of Form, and void. And Darkness was all over the Face of the Deep. And We said: 'Look at that fucker Dance.”" He, of course, is referring to the human need to construct meaning out of a reality that is empty of form and dark. This is why I have brought this blog back from the dead. Because I am a fucker, and I have to dance at some point, so why not now?

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