Thursday, February 26, 2004
Which raises another interesting question: is sin being untrue to yourself, or do you need to do something really bad for it to count against you?
Let me clarify: for the majority of my adult life, I've felt like (pardon my French) a fuck up. In the space of one year, at age eighteen, I went from straight-shooting golden child to that drunk girl at the party who should've left two hours and four beers ago. For the next few years, I carried this transformation round my neck like an albatross, approaching every new situation as the girl I never meant to be: flawed, fallible, and generally no good. I can't really say how much my diminished expectations of myself affected my behavior, but I do know that my expectation that I would spoil every good thing rarely proved false. Growing up is never easy, but its worse when you become someone that your 'real' self wouldn't like, never mind want to become.
Recovering from the shock of this metamorphosis has taken me . . . well, I'm still working on it. There's still the latent expectation in the back of my mind that my graduation - due, again, this spring, will never happen. That my papers, already more idea than actuality than they should be at this point, will never be finished. And that I will never be the woman I should have been.
But say I have finally cleared the mire of my early twenties, what then? For the longest time, when thinking of those times, I'd refer to myself (in my own private thoughts, never aloud) as 'the dead girl.' Dead, because she hopefully no longer existed, dead because at the time I was dead - dead to my senses, my own desires, dead to the larger scope of the life I should have wanted. The problem was, while this thought persisted, my 'dead years' expanded. Years I'd thought myself awake and alive became Dead Years in my memory, as my sense of who I would be further diverged from who I was and how I'd acted.
This is starting to sound horribly schizophrenic. I'm not the dead girl I was, nor am I the half-awake zombie who gave that girl her name. I am me. I was there the whole time. And growing up and moving on, I suppose, involves learning that I am the one who made those choices: the bad ones, the ill considered ones, and the ones I didn't even realize I was making at the time. But what are you gonna do? You live, you learn.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
by James Joyce
Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Brian and I rented a room at a seedy beachside hotel for Sunday and Monday nights (sure we live in San Francisco, but beachside is a novelty when you live on Haight St). It was just about the ugliest hotel I've ever stayed in, with dingy rooms, a boxy, ugly bathroom and a 'view' of the N Train, but its proximity to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach made it worth every penny of the discount rate. And spending time really alone with Brian (no housemates about, no housemates expected) was a forgotten and consummate pleasure. I really am a lucky girl.
Friday, February 13, 2004
Thursday, February 12, 2004
In The Divine Comedy Dante's words are weighted (no pun intended) by the wealth of detail he put into his stories. he describes, even down to the measurements the things he saw, making his hell as real and as vividly imagined as any other far off place that exists in space or memory.
This next bit is from Canto XXXI in the Pinsky translation of the Inferno. In it, Dante describes one of the giants set to guard the gates of hell:
To me his face appeared as long and full
As the bronze pinecone of St. Peter's of Rome
With all his other bones proportional
So that the bank, which was an apron for him
Down from his middle, showed above it such a height
Three men of Friesland could not boast to come
Up to his hair. Extending down from the spot
Where one would buckle a mantle I could see
Thirty spans of him. . .
Dante's detailed description of the afterlife gives it a reality beyond fable. The space is mesurable, the account measured. This is a place that matters, and every detail, no matter how sensational or insignificant, has its own wieght. This is no frivious vision, no flight of fancy. Here, every detail bears equal weight.
Of course, Dante didn't invent this sort of trancendental spatial descriptiveness. Witness John's description of the Heavenly City in the book of Revelation:
And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies four-square, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man's measure, that is, an angel's. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. ( Revelation. 21:15-18)
Luckily, my father's palaces of memeory are not so horrific as Dante's underworld, nor as awesome/awful as St. John's vision. But his labor flows from the same stream as Dante's.
We are all given to our own visions, and while our underworlds and palaces of memory are not as epic as Dante's or as Divinely inspired, they are our own, and the responsibity for their upkeep ours alone. And the walls are built of jasper, and pure gold, clear as glass.
So, for those of you who know of both my blogs, there will be some downtime over at the salon blog (http://blogs.salon.com/0003044/). My usual computer's waiting on a new ethernet card (I'm goin' wireless!), and until then, I'm on one of Brian's computers, and no Salon-blog-acesss for me (^$$%# proprietary software).
For whatever reason, this blogdoesn't get as much attention as it should. I got it so that I could blog from work if need be, but I guess, well, that doesn't happen much. My fear of getting caught outweighs my need to share my deep thoughts with the world.
One of the problems of blogging is (in my case anyway) reining in the ol' attention span. No matter how great I think my ideas are, or how excited I am to explore them, it seems like once I get into writing mode, the call of the wild internet makes me stray away from my own ideas, and into other people's. Or at least the hopes that I might find some. In the absence of recently-updated other-people's-blogs, I usually end up wandering aimlessly, reading anything that crosses my path. There's a certain magesty to the desperate way I avoid my own thoughts. Like I'm cursed to wander the earth like Cain until I get my BA.
But I digress.
Having left this blog alone for a bit, I hadn't read my own postings for a while - and was frustrated and a bit inspired by the post I mad about Sartre back in November.
Having read through No Exit since then (the full text is available online, if'n you care to look), I feel like a common theme in both Sartre and Dante is the need for movement from pure self awareness to a more social awareness.
I'm not sure if I've quoted this in this or any other blog before, but this quotation has become one of my favorite mantra's:
"The starting point for critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is knowing thyself as the product of the historical process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces without leaving an inventory."
Just as we cannot understand the current state of the world if we do not know its history, we cannot understand ourselves unless we connect with the world as it is, and our place within it.
For Dante, hell was the inability to look beyond oneself. For Sartre the tragedy of hell lay in the inabilty to see ouselves outside the reflection we can see in other's eyes. Hell is other people, sure, but it doesn't have to be.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Unless you're Buddist, death is forever.
At the time, it didn't do anything other than make me laugh. My faux-wise cyncism, unjostled by life's slings and arrows saw only humor. But there is a coldly succinct truth stated there: we are, each of us, only given one life.
So what to do with it? The question didn't have much urgency at seventeen. Teenagers feel nothing but raw potential, for good or for ill. Even adolescent angst has an immortality to it.
But still, the question is there, only gaining urgency as we age: what am I doing with my life? And its flipside: what should I be doing?