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On the movement of static things #11:
I hesitate this month to produce a piece of writing about the static world, and if I needed evidence of the power of inactivity, then my reluctance gives weight to that. To change you need to be alive in the time and space in which you are found: you cannot change the past or the future; you can only change incrementally in the present. Change cannot be willed into existence. The inevitable outcome of leaving everything to universal forces is stasis, where balance and equilibrium are maintained. Moving out of stasis needs effort.
The evidence of experience #15:
Life leaves you little clues. I had thought these clues were breadcrumbs left behind by a being or entity forging a path: a beneficial forerunner or malevolent sprite. More recently, however, I see these random and arbitrary elements my attention is drawn to as cultural or environmental artefacts, the common feature being that they have sparked my interest. An objective assessment of these ephemera, the flotsam and jetsam that drift into my field of mindfulness, is that they tolerate no inter-connections, no links or dependencies, aside from the coincidence that they inhabit my physical world.
Further along there was a gap in the hedge through which a ray of sunlight fell, the only brightness in this passage that tunnelled through with high branches meeting overhead. It was a mossy path and when the angle of descent turned sharply downhill, I found I was sipping, almost running out of control. Shortening my stride helped my balance but I grasped at branches as I passed to help slow the speed of my descent. I was in control of my feet when I reached the gap, but out of breath, so I stopped to see what lay beyond.
I would like to draw your attention to how dictionaries are inflexible when looking for words you can’t remember. There is a word for a sensation of external synchronization of movement with music: the flow felt when hanging onto the straps in a bus and it’s turning a corner, bouncing and jostling, slowing and speeding up, and all movement happens in time with Mozart playing through your headphones. Not found it in lists of musical terms, there isn’t a search term to retrieve this word. My memory is silent: other arcane words remain; this one sank without trace.
When did polishing shoes become a thing of the past? I watched suited staff, toned in blacks and blues, parade past when three aberrant candidates, modelling beach-wear and slip-on footwear past and spoiled my review of the tonally challenged cohort. To get back to the office workers shoes, evidently money had been spent on these assets, but the level of neglect was woeful. Except for the casual three, probably members of a technical team housed in an underground bunker, who owned the image they projected, wearers of suits and smart shoes wore a uniform, a disguise they denied.
Synchrony and discord open up opportunities for variations where, to fully express each concept, the conflict of tension and release exchanged or buried within must be released. The case with most concepts, an undeniable necessity of the form, is a definition inclusive and exclusive of what is shaped; the assumption being that each concept encapsulates and excludes its opposite. If analysed, discord and synchrony in music can show that listeners respond to sounds that express tension and resolution; they respond emotionally as they would to narratives. Streams of synchronous sounds and discordant elements thread together and assume characteristics, even personas.
Life as documentary #15:
Music that is about effect, where content and message are reduced to staticky blurring behind the beat, has been selected by many modern venues. I am not sure what message is being conveyed: maybe they attempt to evoke an atmosphere where my sort of person – the noise adverse, those threatened by pounding beats and walls of sound – are not welcome. Noise, of which music is a subcategory, is increasingly used as a weapon. Recently I have noticed instances where I am the marked target and how this music follows me out, taunting as it repels me.
‘Put the packages in the office,’ she said. I followed in the direction she pointed across the warehouse to a single door. Inside, packed floor to ceiling, were objects of various sizes: ahead was a wall of boxes stacked in various states of cascading disorder. Those furthest back were obscured by thick coats of dust and the light that followed me into the room faded quickly, settling softly onto this dense mountain of shapes. Just inside the door and to the right was a cleared table, where I put down the boxes I had brought. I carefully walked back out.
I watch the weather blow in and wet everything; this change arrives with presence and plans to stay until we all shiver and tremble. There hasn’t been rain for months before now; the temperatures have been cold, though mostly related to the time of day and with a little planning the discomfort can be avoided. This cold and wet makes life sharper and clearer, certainly colder and darker, and now life seems to hand on a finer balance of density and meaningfulness. Reasons for going out are questioned more: daily routines and work schedules bend around what is happening outside.
‘We are looking for natural or disturbed patterns,’ she said. ‘These will give us signs of life or at least evidence of geological and atmospheric patterns. Any change tracked will help us: we are to map the planet’s activity and monitor changes to help us compile creation stories.’
‘Members of the technical team are housed in the underground bunker.’ He turned away without making eye-contact and ignored her.
The coldness was deliberate, the malice standard practice. Everything was competitive. Allocation of space was contentious in projects and teams needed their research to produce results before they could access more resources.
The phrase returns again in an overlapped sequence under concurrent threads, marking a change in direction. Embedded in the synchrony, deep inside the bones of this music where a narrative unfolds, is discord. If a pause plays next, then the dominant motif will resurface; where there is no pause, there will be only an escalation of tension. I need an end-point, a resolution to overcome and resolve the tension for emotional closure. Yet, the automaton who writes these soundscapes has no guidelines for order or harmony. It produces only elevator music: randomly generated notes and phrases inside endlessly repeating patterns.
If I thought to answer your questions, the idea did not persist instead, they returned me to my usual state of mind that is always distant and questioning: I cultivate a divergent mind, one that constantly challenges and tests logic where a belief is found or a default truth perceived. The saying, ‘speak as though you are right, listen as if you are wrong’, aids my thinking here. Whatever reasons are espoused for strongly held opinions that is different to mine, I can learn more about my own thinking in comparison. I have never believed I have all the answers.
I asked for a new thermos that would keep heat for at least a day. An odd request, maybe. I cannot remember when I became so pragmatic, so functional, when my dreams became so small. Of life, I have few expectations. When constructing an image of the future, I see myself there realistically with all my faults and impediments, maybe a little happier and more self-less, but basically unchanged. Maybe driven by a lack of imagination, but I think not. The future for me is a honed space, where I divest biases and vices, and seek only a sustainable simplicity.
There are too many cul-de-sacs: I journey on and keep returning and turning so that now the will to turn the next corner only demoralises me. Detours, where I re-trace my steps, have whittled away my resolve. My faith in an ending fails: the journey seems eternal and infinite, without end. I long for a point of no return, an event horizon that would give me a new understanding of the whole, yet my path turns again as if returning to the start. Each step seems shorter now, my steps lengthen the journey and do not reduce the path ahead.
Each step measures a smaller and increasingly smaller part of the whole. From the start, the total journey stretches out endlessly, diminishing what has been achieved. Weakening, my energy depletes further and I flag, falling to despair, forgetting what brought me here. I am expiring in a senseless void where my feelings, bruised and damaged with constant use, refuse to rail against this little death, the loss of will: an entropy wraps up my senses like withered petals. This poetic pose, the sepia-tinted glorious fading of desire, entraps and entangles me; the softness of defeat overwhelms as my resistance abates.
Is this a failure to bloom: rejecting corrective solutions seems both antisocial and aberrant? By not accepting procedures that will restore to her many functions of her self-care, Jade has chosen to stay in a disabled and dependent state. These medical procedures have been prepared by large teams of specialists: they will ameliorate her condition and improve her quality of life. She will live longer. Admittedly, her medications would increase, to accommodate the mechanical components her appearance would alter, and she would lose the ability access to leave the building. But she would be ambulatory indoors and could live alone.
Twelve poems in a relatively short time must be submitted for assessment; in poetic prose, where my hopes and dreams have faded to dust. A poem I wrote once and asked a friend for feedback came back with the comment that he didn’t think it was a poem. Now, I have read lots of poetry in the past, I even now I read it for pleasure, but to tell me there is a barrier my work has not hurdled, that is just cruelty. There is nothing that will more effectively inhibit my creativity than a requirement to write on demand.
I would like to draw your attention to how ‘run’ and ‘manage’ have conflated and distort the real behaviours and actions described. We talk about running a career, a job, a life, as though it is synonymous with managing a career, job or life. Managing is a suitcase word, made up of a suite of capabilities and skills; managing implies active ongoing engagement. With running, the image conveyed is of moving head or alongside what is being pursued. Running has an immediacy that flatters, strokes our egos; a metaphor, running emphasises momentum while obscuring decision making and engagement.
The older I am, the more I forget physical qualities of objects: how materials absorbed moisture, how eyes could wash with tears, the skin warm and cool. The feeling of wetness born into physical bodies has been replaced with a silky sensation; moisture in eyes can still be produced on demand by de-focussing lens apertures but is rarely used. Emotions now have different pathways for expression and, even as new experiences are synthesised, the feeling of being awash with uncontrollable emotion has atrophied. Feelings are mostly sentimental now, recalling life when reactions drove behaviours and aggression was needed for survival.
The way you phrased that middle section carries messages you probably don’t want to have the Minister say when he stands up in the house. Three-word phrases might be easy for him to remember, but they sound glib, and come with have unexpected consequences. Trigger words and catchphrases sound forceful and sharp, but they are easy for the press to focus on and take out of context. There are cultural issues here to remember. I’m not sure the Minister understands the background and your speech might be aligning him with forces he doesn’t want to be seen shaking hands with.
‘That’s unacceptable. I have said before that the language used is important. But, just cutting out words and leaving gaps will not work; this does not expunge the implied text. That strategy only forces the reader to fill in the blanks and almost without fail, the shape of the gaps you leave fit the idea you leave out. Your biases have already made it in: cultural references embedded in your speech, your cadence, the rhythm of your speech constrain any variation.’
‘But I’m not telling,’ he said. ‘Even I don’t know what the characters would say to fill the gaps.’
“Imagine them,’ he said. ‘Let your character come to the front and speak. Don’t constrain what they say and you might surprise yourself, or them. There is hidden darkness there that you are not aware exists.’
He looked around the room at the faces tilted up towards him. Some students seemed transported; their faces glossed over after latching onto an idea that took them away. Others he saw, were more resistant. From the glittering eyes and the occasional flash of a tooth, these students glowed with predatory intensity: they hung on his words breathlessly, waiting for the blood to flow.
The door she chose opened onto a plinth above a central auditorium where a spotlight found her unburdening herself of her coat and re-hitching the straps of her dress. She was on one leg trying to defy gravity as the panoply below was revealed. Below her, moving like a beast with a thousand eyes, the crowd turned to watch her and burst into spontaneous applause. To be graceful was the one superpower she always coveted, yet as she sprawled on the plinth and the contents of her bag rained down on the spectators, all she wished for, now, was invisibility.
The apex of achievement in advertising is to have those consuming the message carry the treads of the advertiser’s ideas and absorb and disperse these into their own personal mythologies. When absorbed, the message can no longer be unbound or ripped from the central core of a person’s reality, and success is achieved. There are two basic methods: inculcating a way of life in the product that the consumer aspires to, or through irony, or humour, identifying a lifestyle to be avoided. The message in both cases is that by consuming the product a viewer can achieve their desired life.
What is will if there is no intent or desire? Life has lost focus, has become dream-like and translucent. The experiences that come to me, those I recall, present in abstract, with context and meaning drifting away, like pages in a minor history, and forgotten. What is left of my life? I feel my thoughts like sand sifting through a sieve, they leave me empty. Having entered life by chance, now that sound and fury have faded, is all that is left, just a way to exit quietly? In this twilight, unbolstered by the past, what strength have I left?
There is a moment when all elements that should connect, get tough and unchewable - when no progress is made and all you are doing with each step is unburying your feet from the swamp you walked into. Worse still, you know you have arrived here by asserting free-will and with a complete understanding of the rules and consequences.
‘When did you turn into such a drone?’
‘That is a cruel and undeserved analysis. I don’t sense any change and know that comparatively, we work with the same data. Are you a drone too?’
‘Not yet, but I’m getting there.’
When determining what is essential, what are the necessities of being alive, the scale you choose to live at is a factor. Living a large life is the modern recommendation: you are encouraged to choose a large life and, if this is your path, then you will accumulate a wealth of experience. Acquisition of experiences, while it may be the long-term goal, is only part of the calculation. You must acquire evidence to relive and enjoy these experiences later and eventually you will have around you a moiety of assets, a plethora of goods and chattels, to prompt your memories.
There is a time for accumulation and another for divestment: time changes life and the attraction of ownership is temporary and fades with age. Surrounded by elements and objects that recall my history, that evoke memories of a past life, the things that have no purpose now but to remind me of a past life, I find that these chattels only slow me down, they dog my steps. Even to brush dust from them is onerous now. I dust, but I don’t see them any longer; they don’t bring joy but only remind me of the time I have lost.
Parking fines - the capital authority’s licence to print money. Or rather, their justification for picking my pockets while they have the pleasure of watching me feel guilty, outraged, and abused. How is it that we gave them the right to be right all the time, even when they are wrong. And when did they take on the role of making the rules that determine right from wrong, even the rules that say they are never wrong. In an unjust world, this system is the most imbalanced and implausible mechanism for establishing justice. This system is not at all fine.
I recently read a crime novel; not in itself an unusual event. What was unusual, was that as I read, I had the distinct sense of deja-vu. Having read another novel by the same author, I could explain why characters were familiar. When I finished reading, I was sure I hadn’t read that book before, but the structure of the crime and the resolution, the interactions of the characters, were too familiar. This was a disappointing book by a one-story author who was playing through his standard repertoire, overlaying his characters with a barely coherent new narrative and happy ending.
This thread is an exploration, trialling the use of the word ‘extol’, or any of the verbal declinations, in sentences. Context is everything but, in most cases, students are extoled and recognised when they present work for assessment that represents their best efforts: a student’s focus and aspirational qualities are what is assessed, the maturity of the student, even the relevance of their output, is discounted against the originality of ideas. But, how to extoll the virtues of a discipline and break new ground, when the ground you break and tread upon, are the words and wisdom of your predecessors.
The Tip Jar