19-02-10

De la ressemblance des enfants aux pères

"Et ne fut jamais au monde deux opinions pareilles, non plus que deux poils ou deux grains. Leur plus universelle qualoté, c'est la diversité." Michel de Montaigne, Essais II, chapitre XXXVII, p. 569, Gallimard, 1965.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Back to basics ;-)

One of the remaining problems with modern culture is that we're thinking in terms of success. The problem is not so much with the sensation of success. Not at all even - it is an enjoyable sensation and nobody should be cut off from it. No, the problem is that we want to make a snapshot of it. We want to frame it. And point to it lateron in company and demonstrate 'how much success we had'. Because we're afraid nobody will believe it. We're afraid nobody will believe we had any success. At bottom we are damned scared of not believing ourselves we had any success. We despair of times, we know to be always lurking behind the corner, in which we'll only see how pitiful we are. We will try to remember that we had some success; that we're not competely, & utterly, hopeless; but we know there is a chance that we won't believe it ourselves.

And that's why we think in terms of success. Why we quantify our success. Why all of our success is so similar to jealousy. What we know we need (or better what we think we know we need) is a measure of success that can outlast the success itself. That's the problem: we want to compare, we need to quantify and therefore is it incumbent upon us to simplify things in a couple of dimensions (money, recognition, popularity and all of the things that are so characteristic for the phonies).

Simplify and kill the wonderful diversity of ideas. Simplify into a couple of sides until anything has two sides and anybody is on one side or the other.

It is a little bit tragic. It's also quite comical. As we advance we think more thoughts, ideas pop up that were literally unspeakable and unthinkable before; but instead of enjoying the plentiful - we all jump on a couple of shiny objects that give only a little pleasure but that are the elements of the big competition. Not a kind of competition where you enjoy yourself trying to win and where, if you loose, you congratulate him, or her, that defeated you and you have a drink and you discuss what happened and you agree to try again next week; no, the kind of competition where you have to be participating, as a rat in a race, and where you hope that, if you loose, that at least the people you know best also loose because you couldn't face the world in all of the humiliation of having been worse than your peer.

A friend of mind asked me recently what the moral of a story of mine was. I think it was something like what is here above. I think it is Montaignistic. There are enough things out there for everybody to find something that fits. But we lack the confidence for going off & doing it in such a specific way, lastingly (because we start to do it in a specific way but we loose heart quickly). We want to have a kind of 'objective' way to establish that we're doing good. Feeling that we're doing well is not enough; there is to be some externally observable fact that testifies, certifies, qualifies, and accredits the fact that we're doing well. Such that we're driven to a few kinds of things in which everybody can be successful; not realizing that for 99% of the people these few kind of things simply are things for which they have no talent at all.

Maybe it is because I've been reminded recently of the Kierkegaardian absurdity - & maybe I'm rediscovering something that I would have to call 'spirituality' even if I'm going to eternally loathe that term. But the truth is that to feel somewhat successful you cannot be successful in the eyes of others. Only loosers can feel success, as the winners can only feel that they're winners. Or something paradoxical of that style - I know: not convincing but still: if to be regarded as a winner is what is required to be a winner then we're all condemned to make everybody else a looser. I won't have it like that so you can all go fuck yourself in the behind but I'm doing very well, thank you!, even if I know full well that my achievements are mediocre at best.

Peace!


"And there never were in the world two opinions that were similar, not more than two hairs or two grains. Their most universal quality, is there diversity."

(the two hairs and two grains stuff you'll have to google together with "Cicero")


Whilst writing this I was listening to Keith Jarrett, Paris/London Testament, EMI.

19:04 Gepost door Guido Nius in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, tones, competition, universals |  Facebook |

24-01-10

It was full of phonies

"It was full of phonies. And mean guys. You never saw so many mean guys in your life. For instande, if you were having a bull session in somebody's room, and somebody wanted to come in, nobody'd let them in if they were some dopey, pimply guy. Everybody was always locking their door whens somebody wanted to come in." J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, p. 174, Penguin Books, 1958.

"(..) And besides (..)"

"How would you know you weren't being a phoney? The trouble is, you wouldn't." ibid. p. 179.


Digression!

I'm too old for it now. I guess I grew out of it. Or thought I grew out of it. But did I? Apparently not or I wouldn't be quoting it. No, ít grew out of me maybe. Forgot it, or suppressed it. Maybe I was a phoney all along and these quotes the kind of thing a phoney sympathizes with. In order to shield himself in his own thoughts: from being a phoney. Yeah, maybe I forgot it - moved on without the need to look back on the times where people were constantly locking their doors. Cliques. Moved on to locking my doors. People are awful. My clique is small. Is there a small too small for it to be a clique? My clique doesn't include awful people - Is my opinion. I don't lock my door so much as I disincentivize awful people to come in.

No, I'm not a phoney. I may be dopey. Or pimply. Or unintelligible. Or inaudible but not phoney. My clique isn't a clique. Everybody can come in. Nobody wants to though it being so unexclusive and all.

The thing is: you do kinda know. You know because you're not saving lives. At least you are not thinking you're saving lives. Just running around trying to mind your own business. Better: trying not to make to much business out of your own business. Not out of humility or anything either. Just so strange people are not attracted to makin' it into some kind of club. No you're not a phoney if you don't like clubs and if you're able to ask yourself the question: "How do I know I really don't like clubs?"

The other thing is: it's easy to become a phoney. Dopey people become phoneys all the time. Pimply people too. & People that are told they can't be understood. It's so easy to become a phoney. 'Cause you always wanted to get in that bloody door. And that's why they kept on locking it on ya. Coz you always wanted to come in uninvited & all. You see: that kinda seals it as so very depressing. I always wanted to come in and I still want to get in. Even if I know I'm uninvited. Not welcome and that nobody, really nobody, wants to listen to me.

It's easy to become a phoney. More than half of the internet is dedicated to creating a second chance for dopey people to become phonies. It's called social networking & it's dedicated to creating the opportunity to lock virtual doors. People are really good as it too - especially those that were phonies to start with. They really rock at all this social networking stuff. They really do. They can let you know their doors are locked; even if you didn't much care to come in ;-) 

But I still like people. I do. I'm a cultural optimist. Always was. Even with all of these phonies and all, people are likeable if given a chance. Even the phonies. It's just we don't give a lot of chances. We can't really - not enough time to socially network with all of them. So we have to pick our phonies and our dopeys and stuff. We're getting better at it. Lots better. The internet helps. Makes it easier to find our own room, to have a bull session in or something. Easier also to go from one room to the next, & not carrying the label of the rooms you've been in. That certainly helps a lot. Maybe as an optimist one could say: maybe it helps enough to get rid of labels alltogether (at least in the non-amusing sense of cliques and clubs).


Whilst writing this I was listening to Richard Galliano, Luz Negra.

 

15:11 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: identity, salinger, optimism, friendship, competition |  Facebook |

14-07-09

De la colère

"Je lui disais que c'était bien quelque chose, notamment à ceux comme lui d'éminente qualité sur lesquels chacun a les yeux, de se présenter au monde toujours bien tempéré, mais que le principal était de pourvoir au-dedans et à soi-même; et que ce n'était, à mon gré, bien ménager ses affaires que de se ronger intérieurement: ce que je craignais qu'il fit pour mantenir ce masque et cette réglée apparence par le dehors." Montaigne, Essais Livre II, Chapitre XXXI, folio classique, editions Gallimard, p; 488.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Let me be clear: I'm fed up with all this excitement and passion and live fast stuff - even if I wouldn't mind the 'die young'-bit. We're acting like the bunch of pubescent boys that we probably are at this time of the evolution of human culture. I like cool; from temperature over jazz up to lifestyle. All this frantic waving about & 'expressing one's emotions' and being really committed is just a load of crap kept alive by those that can't sit still for a moment if their life depended on it - them lot which would go into sudden disintegration & molecular collapse if they were put in positions in which it would be unavoidable to question their own motives.

But, & forgive me the unphilosophical rant, if even Montaigne is confused the matter can't be solved so lightly. Clearly, if you're fuming inside the smoke should be clear on the outside. Anything else is hypocrisy & (never even mind the others) that is not at all a good service to your self. So what's the deal? Do we need to be completely & utterly dispassionate or should we accept as unshakeable all the typical 90s mess of burning ambition & over-all impatience with ... anything really?

As you might have figured: I thought about this. I came to the below dispassionate conclusion which, or at least I'd hope so, I will be defending vigorously, with passion befitting the subject.

The conclusion is this: the issue is the familiar one of form/content confusion. What I see is that people want to have strong convictions on what needs to happen - and are relatively indifferent as to how it comes about. Which is all backwards obviously. One should be passionate in the discussion but irather ndifferent to the outcome of it. The outcome after all is the result of what can be reasonably expected to be the case, after discussion. The discussion itself however needs to be ferocious, because only if we're ferocious in making sure that all arguments have weighed properly can we ever be sure that the discussion will have been a real one, and hence can in fact be expected to be followed by a reasonable conclusion.

That clearly doesn't imply that one needs to gesticulate, shout, slam tables or push people around but it does imply that if any of it is required to ensure the discussion is a proper one: by all means, no holds barred, except those that prevent people to bring arguments. It specifically requires passion (biting sarcasm, creation of general uneasiness, ...) to bull-dozer out of the way any emotions that are tied to a specific position being beyond discussion (or, on a more human note, tied to the benefits of a specific individual or group of individuals). I mean it: we should treat fixed opinion with the most complete and utter disrespect, and should never refrain from laughing away any strong convictions that are thought to be beyond such treatments.

That's the role of passion, excitement, madness; to preserve the due process for us to arrive at conclusions. Once arrived at we have to apply the conclusions without the least amount of passion (as Montaigne rightly councels in this Essai). In other words - the judge should be 'all in' when he shouts 'order in the court' but once sentencing is there he should deliver the sentence modestly, knowing he can be wrong but cool, as he will be sure everything has been done to ensure he has it right.

Let's broaden it up a bit. We all know that fundamentalists of any kind are the most passionate in defending what they happen to be convinced of. Up to the point of the denial of the possibility of any discussion about the reasons for their beliefs. On the other hand, when we confront holocaust-deniers, creationists (& the rest of this sorry lot of people content to be sophisticated machines 'in the service' of some, or other, grand idea) we may (make that: must) expose them as wankers but we'll always do this ready to give our reasons for exposing them as such. (consider this a footnote: 'Sure, you'll readily find wankers passionately defending perfectly honourable points, without any inclination to get into their reasons; they're idiots squared, as dogmatic as fundamentalists and on top of that discrediting what they defend by passionately believing in it instead of argueing for it. But it isn't because sheep can also dress in wolf's clothes that, once undressed, they can't - make that: shouldn't - be exposed for the idiotic sheep they are).

Ouf! I can leave my passion and eat it too.

Coming back to the quote: let it all go before you come to the conclusion but by all means, restrain yourself once you have come to a conclusion. We're not beasts any more, after all. Clearly you wouldn't want to make love dispassionately (the scariest people are those that do want to have dispassionate sex, actually) but you wouldn't want to conclude passionately either; the competition for the best idea should be of the fiercest sort but the outcome should be accepted with equanimity.


"I told him that it was quite something, certainly in those - like him - of eminent quality on whom everybody has their eyes, to present oneself to the world always well tempered - but that the important thing was to provide for oneself internally; and that it was - to my taste - not a good way to manage one's affairs to be eating oneself from the inside: which was what I feared he did to maintain that mask and that temperate appearance on the outside."

(pff, not easy, that one)


Whilst writing this I was listening to Jean-Jacques Perrey and Luke Vibert, 'Moog Acid'.

21:36 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, form-content, boldness, competition |  Facebook |