Friday, 5 March 2021

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Identity Politics

Upon waking up

It's a rare recollection 
Oh my God, it's true

Unless it's for you
The noxious aspiration

Incessantly blue


This thing in the run to and from one life is the inevitable process by which one teeters the perfect balance between the virtue and un-misused-ness of that life, an introduction of how one spends that life, or, more importantly, makes a living, as we put it.

It's an alpha process, to be sure, but to truly come off successfully, and not just like an asshole, because any asshole can vie for the top spot in a universe ruled by an alpha elite, and even convince themselves that their vying is viable or's even somehow been achieved, you must convince others you're convinced that you can justify your worth. This is where the side of the balance where one strives/exudes/deigns to exhibit the virtue of their undertaking. Yet the balance is still struck perfectly by implying that it's entirely by choice, that one is unencumbered by the decisions of some other asshole, not toeing someone else's line, in short, the lieutenant of one's own corner of their industry.

The process is perfectly put forth in all its everything and nothing glory on something called the game show. What one does for a living is said with much matter of factness. The manufactured nature of the name of any given profession, and, if it should come to it, the answer to the follow-up about what that should mean to the uninitiated at home goes unnoticed if the host, who plays that part for the viewers, steers clearly. We're here for the game, after all. Yet this process won't be circumvented.

Another scene involves arriving at a party early enough to have the unbridled attention of the person who invited you, or being spoken to by one you take for as the host, which, as you may find out, turns out to be just another loner like you, at least for the time being, before the wheels begin to spin the tale we tell about ourselves.

As another guest arrives, the process begins, not that it couldn't have already, but the arrival of each guest exposes the early attendee to the dangers of changing masks like a trick or treater looking to keep knocking on the same door. At some point someone is gonna say, "Wait. Aren't you the one who was trying to come off like he wasn't an asshole before?"

Here's where most people battle to arrive to the presentation late. No mask changes necessary. Not necessarily. World's do collide in space not dependent upon time, but being an early arrival can almost not beg the moment when the process of game show style introduction exposes an inconsistency in self-confidence that bleeds into the concurrent game, either in one's own bullshit or in the embarrassing need to heap some on an otherwise perfectly innocent tale. At least one person in the circle will recognize this.

As it happens I was not invited to this party. And funnily enough I was with someone when I arrived. We'd been driving, they'd been driving, erratically, trying to get through a crowd of people on the afternoon of some major parade, when we pulled off the road and sought a break.

Into what looked like a public house we wandered, all the way to the back where it faced the river. It was early evening. A woman I knew approached or, rather, a woman I had known, for I couldn't recall her name as she began the conversation. The awkwardness of feeling like I should know her name was tempered by the free flow of talk not in need of the process. To this point at least names could be assumed. She had not said mine and I'd be free until she had.

It turns out that this is a private party, her party, I think. At least this place is part of where she lives. More details on this are to remain unclear. What is clear at the outset is she doesn't make me feel uninvited. On the contrary, she even asks after my immediate comfort in a way that would indicate she is willing to go to some length to get me to stay. This continues long enough that I find myself playing a role inside my own head, in which I cannot remember the person I'd arrived with.

This is before any invited guests have made themselves evident, but just before the moment I feel the need to make an introduction. To be clear, I willed my friend gone for the other implied reason, not just because I couldn't remember the name of my old new hostess. 

Like a sense shorn loose of another, the biological imperative feeds its logic into the process. Short of being driven you'd never consider coitus, and here you are, feeding another generation into the machine of masking pretensions too embarrassing to countenance, save for as an early arrival to the party, or a late attendee too drunk to know when its better to be asleep.

That anyone would want to go to such a party would be strange enough if it weren't normal. Its origins lie in the natural sin of being thrown into it. To fall into the mood of wanting to attend is the default mode of healthy psychology. The nihilist is a virus not normal to this spreader event.

What did this all look like before it took on such industrial proportions? Before you could find some little corner of the hamlet to hide in, you were the town idiot. It's not like we don't know there are people who run things but the process by which it's all named and gamed makes specifics a little harder to identify.

There's no equivalent to storming the castle today. There are things we like to think of as centers of power, and we use terms like "restoration of order", but the powerful laugh at the insurrection of anyone else's curriculum vitae eloquently explained to a circle it wouldn't occur to them to want to belong to.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

I dunno, wrong?

He made this tiny little remark I immediately read as an inside joke I was not on the inside of, with the performative tone and manner of a character so embarrassing I had to try and hide having witnessed it, too late. He noticed I'd noticed, just a blink after I noticed that he'd caught himself having forgot I was sitting right next to him, froze mid-pose, and tried to disappear this, to me, new character in hopes of erasing what he'd just done while deliberating whether to look over to see if I'd noticed, and then looking over.
 
These shifting sequences of cognition, corresponding actions and reactions, can play out in such little time, as anyone's experienced. There's a method within film language developed to depict the intricacy, with quick cuts and close-ups. Unless locked in to interpersonal moments of heightened awareness, it usually goes unnoticed. Triggered by that which is unexpected, self-consciousness can be devastatingly punitive emotionally.
 
It'd be tempting to think that our conversations, being improvised, can be nothing if not full of surprises but, no, we are forever riffing on a script whose continual development had nevertheless been written long ago. If you can think it, it's been thought, said, and even searched for, virtually, so as to see if anyone's already come up with it. The few surprises that crop up can trigger involuntary laughter, or mortification.
 
Naturally, it would seem, there are some of us with less self-confidence, the result of which, or, indeed, which is the result of an apparent malady of hyperawareness. I'm not the first to note the fitness of mastering that potential trap through a discipline of focussed anti-focus. The cancer is the key to its own cure. The curious should be careful not to observe what's evident in others as evidence to the contrary. An avatar in all its lotus posing grace hides an inherently hostile human. See for yourself, but within yourself. Beyond this is another puzzle.
 
In the virtual world, we're only now beginning to understand after a generation of developing the very understanding that the person you got the email from might not be the person you'd come to identify with the address. Well, most everybody's known this for quite some time, but largely dependent on the age of one's generation, has one been programmed with the necessary tools of understanding. This too is losing relevance. Access to educational facilities that encourage digital and computer literacy is a generation older than that of the internet. Nevertheless, the kind of literacy that goes into the battle for your digital soul is anything but a required course of study. Far be it from me to say it should be.
 
If you're like me, you're aware that if you get an email from one of your friend's yahoo addresses, it's always the same quality spam, but you have no idea what goes into its creation and how often people really click on the link to make it all worthwhile. Likewise, the occasional message that contains certain earmarks, or the lack thereof, are not foreign to your digital correspondence. The relationships we maintain with other people develop in-group shibboleths, and often each within each have their own passwords. As such, the absence of as little as a morpheme in electronic communication might give the game away.
 
Up until very recently I had never considered how a person I'd come to know in the real world might evolve a distinct digital personality just indistinguishable  enough to pass, but quirky enough to make me wonder if I'd walked into an existence sized inside joke without any setups or punchlines.
 
The difference between the scenario all those years ago, several years into our friendship but after that brief time away at boarding school where his character of the inside joke had been fostered, and the situation that began to describe itself via my inbox just the other day is a difference I know must be there, but one I'm not sure has any identifiable traits. You might say that I'm attempting a false ascription to a relationship simply grown apart with time, as was the case back then, which is fair. That's likely to happen anyway. But the quality is something that suddenly struck me. I can't un-recognize it.
 
It's a more general dulling of the angles that shape one's personality that are normally developed with the inclusion of the acuteness of the senses all at once. You know, in the narrowing world we call meatspace. It's the same thing I bitch about regarding online instruction: the subtle delay of the person behind the eyes, the removal of the body language, the disconnect of certain sensory perception and the same's fragmentation in the perception of those of others.
 
And then I remembered the inside joke. He was home for spring break with a friend from school. Everything in his room was the same as before he'd left, stuff I'd become familiar with alongside how each supplemented his identity, most of which I identified with more directly than others. A poster. A set of books. A puzzle. The bicycle had been brought inside, affecting a summary of our adventures going back to kindergarten.
 
All that's not quite what I was thinking then, but that feeling must have been in room, naturally more familiar to me than to his boarding school chum there for the first time. Maybe he'd felt a similar awkwardness regarding our mutual friend's mode of interior decoration, which'd catalogued so much of my experience, that I had hearing his choice of voice out of nowhere.
 
It's a strange dynamic, getting acquainted with an old friend's new friend. The hard-earned smoothed over social hierarchy largely unconscious to human relationships is again askew. The energy is raw. A good joke breaks the ice. An embarrassing gesture ratchets up the tension. A combo of the two?

I got the joke. It was funny. But the way it was delivered presented to me for the first time an opportunity to judge what went some way toward defining his new friendship, with all the complex details of the aforementioned dynamic arriving in one choking instant.

We began mercifully enough, as it turned out we had all loved The Illuminatus! Trilogy. At some point this guy began to expound on the idea that, as absurd as the belief in literal eon-spanning Illumiati overlords may be, it could be that the actions of the world's most powerful, maybe even unwittingly to them, are motivated by the same future, into which we are all evolving one way or the other. I think he punctuated this as a sort of cart before the horse trajectory of history.
 
Regarding what followed, I can't tell you why it was embarrassing. You not only had to be there, you probably had to be me. Anyway, it was at that point my old pal took on this super definite posture and delivered in the most awkward way imaginable, "Isn't it somehow all too convenient that you lack proof for your theory?"