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01/01 Direct Link
On achieving momentum #1:
Only a body in motion shows any sign of grace and from this, it follows that maintaining momentum achieves that desired state. It is in the halt and the tripped, in those that fall when gravity takes hold of us that we find the points to critique and question, and we look back on what flowed to find the errors and stylistic flaws. And here I stand on the cusp of starting again, as the momentum has ceased and the pendulum slows to a stop, recognising the cycle about to begin again when the clock rewinds.
01/02 Direct Link
Captured by our image, each of us finds there a fleeting immortality. After a brief glance and most images, digital or printed, are dismissed, relegated to a box or file, and forgotten. When might these mountains of images be looked at again is the mystery. Even viewing our own captured portraits there is dismissal as we don’t acknowledge the truth, the veracity of what is displayed, blaming the focus or the angle or the photographer for the misrepresentation. And still, the sight of any camera forces us to smile and pose, secure drifting hair, straighten clothes and stand up straight.
01/03 Direct Link
I have re-enrolled in my degree. Only one unit this semester, but daunting after a year of doing nothing, when my brain has ossified. It is poetry and prose poems and the like, so reminiscent of another unit by the same lecturer that I found tedious and unrewarding. I like poetry but I cannot write poems on demand. The works discussed will be all modern and edgy, everything I am not, and poems by the lecturer, that I find turgid and banal. While they are read, I don’t breathe but join in the communal sigh of relief at the end.
01/04 Direct Link
We walk through the world as though our hearts are pinned to our sleeve and everything about us is open and transparent. We act as if what we display to the world are our true motives and aspirations, our hopes and who we really are. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are as mystified by our own reasoning and spend hours questioning and justifying our decisions as we spend thinking about other people who are completely mysterious and alien to us. Yet we continue believing the myth that the whole world can read us like an open book.
01/05 Direct Link
In the diaspora you must survive, that is the only rule but the question is, how. For some it is keeping their culture alive, for others survival is more basic, about building a new life. Theoretically, in a perfect world, there doesn’t seem to be a dichotomy between the two; no reason both cannot be achieved. But in practice, these goals play against each other and one must be chosen. Culture is immersive, like water, and we exist like fish mainly unaware of the elements. Outside your culture you are no longer buoyant. Living the same life is hard work.
01/06 Direct Link
Life as documentary #33:
On hearing the expression, ‘he is a risk-taker’ I wondered about other descriptions and about plotting them in a Venn diagram. Examples considered include - ‘he is … unstable’… inspired … deluded’. Drawing attention to risky behaviours indicates concern, so it needs analysis. Context is key for understanding what is being said and knowing it is advice for investors makes a difference here. Where money is concerned, many investors assume risk equals reward but plotting alternative descriptions of the behaviour of company personnel and seeing how these overlap in a diagram may expose a truer picture.
01/07 Direct Link
Questions with no answers, or rather answers that all say the same thing: do you still beat your wife? Ways of framing an accusation, that leave no room to stand a defence. This is not rhetoric, or inquiry, just bloody-mindedness, intent on pinning the accused behind a fence, impeding any response lest it further confirms guilt. The game is all about getting the ball back over the net and retreating unscathed. The perfect repost, using equally unconscionable tactics, is the false apology: I’m sorry you’re wasting my time. Your fishing trips won’t catch anything with the stale bait you’re using.
01/08 Direct Link
I remember at a laundrette once I left the shop for a few minutes. When I came back my box of soap power had been emptied by a kid who ripped it open and poured my power into his own box. It was obvious what had happened. Seated on one of the empty machines, he wouldn’t make eye contact but when I moved close to accuse him, he shrank back ready to defend himself. His home life must have been cruel if he flinched from me. Being knocked about by adults and fighting back seemed an habitual way to live.
01/09 Direct Link
There are haunting dreams filled with menace, but my dreams haunt me. I keep going back to the same places, walking the streets where I have never been but that are so familiar. The people I meet there are shopkeepers and casual strangers but occasionally people from my awake life appear. Last night an evil angel emerged. I dreamt of my son as a young child, but this child I identified as mine wasn’t at all like my son then who was gentle and happy. This child was pure evil and spiteful, protected from harm only because of his age.
01/10 Direct Link
Letters #50:
When reaching for an appropriately inclusive verb I stumbled across ‘gotten’ and slotted it in. The phrase became, ‘They had gotten a new machine …’. Gotten covers a lot of ground; it glides over the exact mechanism of acquisition and does not draw attention to itself. The machine could have been purchased, loaned, leased, or gifted. Stolen or purloined were unlikely scenarios in this instance. What I was trying to say didn’t rely on how it was come by, only that the machine was new and available. Having tossed about for the right word, the archaic ‘gotten’ worked.
01/11 Direct Link
Objects #41:
It took a while for me to get a mobile phone; convenience not a great selling point. I don’t need a device that makes it easier for the world to contact me. Even now the phone is a way for me to connect to my contacts and not the other way around. That and checking the date and time. But, just the other day, I watched a young woman waiting alone for a date and saw her use her phone to check her makeup. I hadn’t known about that feature but think a vanity mirror might be useful.
01/12 Direct Link
Skipping a stone over a pond all you hear is the tisk, tisk, tisk before the final plop and then you watch the ripples spread out turning moonlight into stretched ovoid and elliptical shapes that float like oil on the dark water. Each moment is perfect and yet at the end, all you think about is spinning another rock across the surface. And walking by the lake you notice that some stones skip and others sink and you start comparing the level of perfection of one throw over another until you are tired and it is time to go home.
01/13 Direct Link
I am thinking about the properties that define a person, the things we can collect and list and collate until they add up to some weight of understanding, some knowledge of the person and about how they will react or respond to situations. These characteristics, we believe, define a person to the point they become whole. That one time when they have greasy hair pulled back with lines where fingers have been pulled through and his eyes always downturned, evasive. Then there are the long subtle fingers, always with dirt the trimmed nails and the prominent veins and swollen knuckles.
01/14 Direct Link
The evidence of experience #34:
Philosophers encourage us to live examined lives, providing us with strategies to help focus to achieve this. In an article on existential psychotherapy read recently I was drawn into how easily psychology and philosophy can twist together. Anxiety and angst not only sound alike, but in this article, the solution for one provides a salve for the other for any common man questioning the meaning of life. My cynicism was automatic, triggered not only by what was said about life, death and salvation, but how persuasive the article was and how easily I was persuaded.
01/15 Direct Link
Time has caught my attention again, not as a measure, but described as a byproduct of entropy and rebalancing of universal forces. Again, an article inspired this mental journey, where the question asked was why time is irreversible. If time was a force as any other observable physical forces such as momentum or gravity, then there should be a way of stopping and even reversing the “arrow of time”. Quantum theory has provided a theory for time and this has my shilling. It may be that we need a dozen more Einsteins before all is resolved, but I am convinced.
01/16 Direct Link
The most annoying as aspect advertising how they persist in turning an unavoidable design flaw into an asset, even when the effort has no hope of reward. They persist in masking the irritating aspects by drawing attention to some, often invented, benefit. Although hard narrow down to one, my current hatred is for ‘memory foam’. When I leave my bed, I want my mattress to forget I was ever there; I don’t want an impression of how I lay to remain. Each night I want to lie down in pastures new not in a sweaty impression from a previous sleep.
01/17 Direct Link
Mysteries unfold in stages as the facts circle around and blend into each other. Where an imbalance occurs, a wide leap between consecutive steps in the logic, persistence can reveal new paths and unexplored openings. The secret is to re-play the interviews, confirm the stories and question the obvious. What if she hadn’t looked or had seen and forgotten at the time when her thoughts were full of other plans. The smoke from the furnace was blowing to the west and the setting sun, burnished orange by the rising heat and impurities made her look away. Did she see anything?
01/18 Direct Link
I have a friend; well calling Sheila a friend is a stretch but go with that. We have an arrangement to meet for coffee occasionally. It started when we accidentally met while we were both out of work and had plenty of free time. It was just for girls talk: you know, our feelings, our families, our hopes and dreams. We hadn’t known each other well before but would greet if we met on the stairs or in passing. I think we both felt isolated and that was the bond. Knowing more about each other and the friendship is dissolving.
01/19 Direct Link
The truth is that if you open up to new opportunities then something is going to happen. And I did and it did and here we are. The frisson of an unexpected opportunity landing, where your placid routine is disrupted and change moves in like a cool breeze, sends shivers up the spine. The intimate glow of anticipation has nothing on this. And this is how I want to live my life, with the universe pouring down nectar on me. I reached out and found this new world and all I can say is that it was there all along.
01/20 Direct Link
The day the world stood and watched on the sidelines as history churned through its paces on this much anticipated spotlight on America. What are we expecting that drew this attention? The assumption that something other than due process would happen was the hook dangled out there both by the potential perpetrators and the defensive future incumbents. The world did not believe or buy into that mythology, but then these were not monumental processes; this was just due process. America has the annoying habit of turning their leaders into monuments, as it recognising them already as statues with clay feet.
01/21 Direct Link
Catching up with Shirley for coffee has settled into a pattern, after a year. One of us will feel guilty when we haven’t met for a while and arrange a day and time a week or two ahead. As the day approaches, generally one or other of us will have another engagement that cannot be postponed and the catchup is delayed. On the day, it is not uncommon for one or other of us to cry off, or oversleep, or have somewhere else to be urgently. These occasional flurries are just enough to keep this half-hearted friendship from falling asunder.
01/22 Direct Link
My excuses are fairly lame when it comes to a cancelling a coffee with Shirley. Shirley’s excuses, on the other hand, are long and overblown, filled with impending death and last-minute dashes to bedsides of her family in distant places. Perhaps this is just another reason for me to think that friendship with Shirley is not so life-affirming. Although, in her defence, she has an elderly mother who is approaching the century, hanging on for her telegram no doubt. Having so many frequently ailing relatives may just because she has so many relatives. My family is sparse and far flung.
01/23 Direct Link
‘This is going to take months.’ His expression and the heavy sigh told me he had arrived at another excuse to stop.
‘Stop complaining and pick up your shovel. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; we start and keep going until finished. Think of it like this: if it didn’t need some effort it wouldn’t be worth doing.’
‘We are just tearing down and clearing away rubbish and anyone can do that. Work all day and no one will notice.’
‘It’s important to start on a clean baseline.’
‘Can’t I start then too?’
‘No. Start on this pile, here.’
01/24 Direct Link
‘This is going to take months.’ His expression and the heavy sigh told me he had arrived at another excuse to stop.
‘Stop complaining and pick up your shovel. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; we start and keep going until finished. Think of it like this: if it didn’t need some effort it wouldn’t be worth doing.’
‘We are just tearing down and clearing away rubbish and anyone can do that. Work all day and no one will notice.’
‘It’s important to start on a clean baseline.’
‘Can’t I start then too?’
‘No. Get this pile here shifted.’
01/25 Direct Link
I am missing magic, yet when I hear about magic found or seen, I don’t believe the stories. It has been so long that I no longer have faith that it will come back or that it ever existed. Magic isn’t fairies flitting around or coins disappearing, or women sawn in half. Magic is not prestidigitation or misdirection, it isn’t cute or funny; we shouldn’t think magic is harmless fun or playful. Magic can grip you completely and make you doubt your physical reality. Magic can break the bonds of our rigid miserable existence but then what do we have?
01/26 Direct Link
What are the metaphysical questions whose answers explain how the world works and what our place is in it? It is the questions we need to focus on. Get the questions right and all the answers can be picked like flowers. The answer is not the point, the important part is asking enough questions to start the discussion, to work out the scope and scale, the width. A good question doesn’t have one answer but reveals more questions and points to where more clarity is needed. To learn more, our questions should make us question everything we’ve known until now.
01/27 Direct Link
There is no rule that says there can only be one answer to a question, in fact that would make asking the question irrelevant. But I am being disingenuous. The common understanding is that there is only one correct answer but even that is not right. Just, for instance, try a multiple-choice test where there will be one wrong answer, several that glide past as almost right and one that is on balance more right than wrong. I am sure that using the same answers and changing how the question is asked can change the understanding of which is right.
01/28 Direct Link
I doubt that knowing Shirley is a counter-indication of a long life, but at times it seems so. She’s not someone who finds dead bodies lying around wherever they go, it’s more that every event in her life is a major drama with life and death consequences. In her world, dangers lurk at every corner. But her most annoying trait is that to her, every stranger is out to harm her or should be reported for flouting the law of not being like her sort of people. And then my patience runs out and I make excuses and leave quietly.
01/29 Direct Link
There is nothing better than finding a thread of an idea and, using finesse, edge it and string it along until you can pull it out letting it spin and glide like a silken thread that is a solid new thought strong enough to bear weight and you know that it has heft and the power to move on its own and carry its own weight. And I have one. I have an idea that came from following my interest down diverging paths, connecting and linking ideas and having a good time. This is what is it to be alive.
01/30 Direct Link
Letters #51:
What happens to forgotten words, words that slip out of usage, that begin to sound clunky and ill-fitted, that convey less than expected and are picked up less frequently when a word is searched for? And, what happens to the meanings that these words previously carried? Do we just not need to say these things any more or are they superseded by newer expressions that fit the ear more comfortably? While it behooves me to bring this to light, I have no answer. What is it that we say now instead of behooves? Nothing appears in the thesaurus.
01/31 Direct Link
‘Right. One way or another there’s no difference. It’s all swings and roundabouts.’
‘Which is it? Is it swinging away from you or is it on its way back? Don’t answer that. Where you are now is you are running in the ocean and the tide is going out. The water is chest high and with every step the sand under you is shifting and sliding. You don’t know it yet but you are drifting out to sea. For all your running you still haven’t moved and now the water is rising and you are losing traction.’
‘Do your worst.’