Wednesday, September 22, 2004
No attempt at a clever title... it's been over a month since my last post to this bastard 'blog. A month almost exactly since my last attempt at an entry. I had it almost written out entirely, another epic tale of mechanical malfunction and man's inhumanity to man (more than once I have considered renaming this collection of words "Things Fall Apart" and declaring it an EntropyBlog-- your BlogSpot home for mechanical, social and psychological collapse) when my computer locked up and I had to restart, losing at least 80% of the entry. I tried again, and again the system flipped me off, and again I lost a vast majority of what I had written.

Few things irritate me like having to repeat myself. It makes my job more frustrating than it has any right to be, and has caused me to be unnecessarily short with customers on many an occasion. Words aren't easy for me, and having spent so much time in search of how to say something it galls me absurdly to have to marshall the lost syllables, chase down the right word, corral the prodigal turn of phrase. And, good Virgo that I am, I refuse to do anything out of order. No new entries until the last one is complete.

So I neglect my blog. I tell it I'm off in search of little lost words, but finally despair and wander off to the next village, too consumed with shame to return empty handed.

I committed virtual suicide of a sort the other night. I went to my Friendster account and -- an act that was oddly reifying of my continued cocooning, despite its inherent virtuality -- deleted every last friend from my list. I did not delete the account. It's still there, disconnected and alone. It was accomplished under the influence of the same selfish despair that inspires IRL suicidal thoughts, the very vindictive desire to punish others for one's own perceived failures. I've gone anonymous, pulled up stakes, climbed into the treehouse and pulled up the ladder behind me. Like when I was 12 or 13 and my favorite pastime was to run up to my room, slam the door, and wish that nobody would come up to check on me while secretly hoping somebody would. And one day no parent came up, after the requisite sulk period, to talk me down. I had no partner in the rapprochement tango and so had to dance both parts on my own, see what it was like to lead.

The thing about hitting rock bottom is that it never really happens. We sink in the pool until we reach the point where we think there's less room between us and the bottom than the top, and so the less effort required is to swim down and push up off the solidity of that floor. So we actively head down instead of just sinking, pushing ourselves toward that moment of clarity. It never arrives, but we've started heading this way, too late to turn around and struggle for the surface. We've made our decision, now (Dubya-like) we have to stick to it no matter how misguided it turned out to be...

No lifeguard to come for us, swimming down into depths that have no bottom, and at this point we've lost track of which direction is even up.

This happens to divers, I remember learning. The solution is to exhale and follow the bubbles. I don't know how this works in the horrifically shambling metaphor I've constructed, but it's something, I suppose, to consider.

Physically, I'm in possibly the best shape of my life. Either now or when I was running high school track. So I think back to when I was in the best mental shape of my life, which was back in college probably. Senior year, when on top of all my classwork I had two writing deadlines every week, one for Brown Band scripts and one for Film Bulletin pieces. The latter was optional, but more critical because I knew it had an audience. I was responding to my world, and in a way that was visible to a large chunk of that world. I had my public-- I did it for them.

I don't know if anyone reads this bastard here, or if it's just spitting bits into the void (blog clamans in deserto) , which means I feel no great need to keep it updated. My long silences probably discourage readers, which means I have even less reason to write. Is that a Catch 22 or a Downward Spiral? (Heller being far superior an artist to Reznor, I can only pray for the former).

I used to greatly enjoy physical puzzles-- those slats of wood that joined together into complex fractal 3-D snowflakes. I even made a few during jr. high woodshop. The first trick, since they usually came assembled, was to get the thing apart. Then came the task of getting it back together. Enough attention paid during the first half made the second half much easier, but this was usually made impossible by the euphoria of eureeka: tear it apart, I have defeated thee! Then the hangover of trying to remember what went where.

Most of the simpler puzzles had one bit of wood that was the key: smooth, without locking groove, slid right in and out. The trick to getting the thing apart was to find this piece, the key log that held back the entire chute. I still remember one such puzzle, which I searched for months for that one key piece before I realized that it was all interdependent. You had to slide two opposing pieces in opposite directions, which would cause two other corresponding pieces to lean apart from each other, all gradually and symmetrically releasing the holds they had on each other. Finally the pieces all came apart, but getting them back together was something I never did figure out.

Real world problems put both of these kinds of puzzles to shame, I've come to suspect. There is no key problem, no simple first step that will cause everything else to fall into line. There are no symmetries, no obvious loosenings to tell which is the right direction. All the issues are interconnected in impossibly intricate ways that demand midcourse switchbacks and impossible intuitive leaps. I've tried exhaling, but still see no bubbles to follow.

I guess I just keep writing and hope that an audience will find me. Or possibly try to find faith that the writing itself, and not the implied audience, will be the help I need.

Comments: Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger