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 |

16-11-08

Break of Day

'Tis true, 'tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise, because 'tis light?
Did we lie down, because 'twas night?
Love which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.

(..)

Must business thee from hence remove?
Oh, that's the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.

John Donne, The major Works, Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 102.


Nothing like an early 17th century poem delivering an early 21st century truth. It is a testament to the ease with which words can travel - that's however not what I wanted to think about here. 'Busy, busy, busy,' - the more time we reclaim from nature, the less time we feel to have. Formulated in this way, it's a boring old commonplace but that's just because we don't take time to lie still at the break of day. If we would, we would question the busy-ness of business. Why do we reclaim time from nature, just to wind up spending all of it to change nature in ways that satisfy this self-defeating circular obsession to be able to spend ever more time changing nature?

The answer is simple: we're in need of some serious brainwashing! When we were all brutes & beasts we needed an unsatisfiable drive to bend nature in ways which would allow us to cease beasts & brutes. Such got some elites into a situation of humanoid behaviour, referred to pejoratively - from our current imperfect state - as decadence. This situation was not evolutionarily stable - through ups and downs the elite started to grow until, at least in some geographies, it became a vast majority. This growth is still ongoing; cultural pessimists need to realize that society 'deteriorates amazingly well' nowadays.

The role of cultural pessimists is a crucial one: they keep the evolutionary dynamics as per the above intact. They avoid us getting a thoroughly enjoyable brainwashing, keeping our hands & minds continuously dirty, by pointing out 2 things. The elite is, & will always be, a happy few so the struggle to get there or keep your offspring in it is a continuous sruggle. Let's call this first point the 'original sin argument', or, when you are less religiously inclined 'The Carrot'. On top of this they highlight that, being in the elite, too much is worse than not enough. Scare stories about 'decadence' are put in place taking coincidental moralizing standards & showing how a decadent elite not only will violate them but will infect the 'lesser' classes thereby blocking progress for all. Let's call this the 'armageddon argument', or the 'fall of the Roman Empire'-argument or, more simply, 'The Stick'.

This way the business that was the means to an end becomes the end in itself - and all of us hurry at the break of day away, away from our true love: spending time with ourselves and others disregarding nature, nurturing the words with which we speak to each other and using our movements for furthering our human pleasure. Yes, that's decadent! Once our brains are washed in a shower of nice words, and dried in a light of love, we will understand (and feel!) that decadence is what we need to create what others crave. We will never be busy again, & our business will be instrumental again, instrumental to get a maximum amount of people to become part of an elite that is bestial only insofar as it behooves them (in bed, in sports but not in business). This is not a plea against business - once our brains are washed clean from the desire to over-achieve, we will continue to consume (in fact we will only consume) because we know we are not responsible for keeping things on track.

In fine: we will know we are not responsible. Responsibility is a bestial notion. It is a notion that is completely superfluous in the context of real love - not lovy-dovy love, not romantic love of feeling responsible but simply love of being human & acting as humans with no interest except human interests. Neither the carrot, nor the stick will impress us. Insofar as the elite is by definition a minority, we will no longer feel this compulsion to be part of it or have what they have. Inasmuch decadence consists in violating the non-coincidental moral claims of what makes humans human all will be cognizant of the fact that such is not the way of real decadence - because decadent love is love of what makes humans human.

I am very pessimistic about cultural pessimism :-)


Whilst writing this I was listening to 'Shostakovich: The Jazz Album' but I advise you not to because it is a hoax, my friends.

13:32 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: friendship, optimism, decadence, dynamics, donne |  Facebook |

05-10-08

Everything counts in large amounts

"It's a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts

The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
Everything counts in large amounts"

Depeche Mode, The Best Of Depeche Mode, Disc 1.


Faced with complex issues we try to find complex solutions. Administrations of most dinosauric dimensions are engaged to tackle, tune & tweak the complexities. Heads of those administrations, whether private or public, achieve heroic status, and adopt appropriately heroic characteristics. Like Alexander the Greath they strive to build an empire that can last forever, like Hercules - & with self-acclaimed Herculean efforts -they stand the most extreme tests of character. Complexity breeds grand nobility.

The error is made before the heroism comes in (heroic behaviour is symptomatic in all cases of an earlier error). Presently, the error lies in allowing complexity to arise, allowing the problem to become a 'big' problem. 'Thinking big' is nothing else than  enlightenment gone wild. Individual liberty as universal goal gets transferred to the quantities associated to that individual, in our present case: to money, to capital, & that liberty of capital cannot but take over from individual liberty. In capital terms - everything counts, but only in large amounts. Money to exchange becomes capital, capital grows and requires more & more complex structures in which it can keep on growing. Individual liberty is progressively lost in these structures & people reduced to supporting those structures that keep capital flowing & growing.

The solution is not, as some would have it, to think small. Capital structures aren't important enough to determine how we should think, that's exactly where the error is: thinking in terms of production, labour and growth, or absence of growth. We're productive and we cannot help creating - that's how we are - we just need to create instead of becoming bigger & winding up as helpless as a wounded dinosaur. It's a good thing that we're globalized because it means new ideas find more brains that can work from them to create even better ideas. Growth is good as long as it leads to an improved connection between the artist and his/her audience. Beyond that, & we're mostly beyond that, growth is like gravitation: some is needed - too much is, simply, destructive. Size is an enabler, not an objective, not even an implicit goal.

We need to realize that we need competition to stimulate creation. Competition ís an intrinsic good because it is a necessary aspect of dynamic progress. Growth can be competition's worst enemy because once things are too big - they tend to stifle any meaningful competition. Competing to become the biggest is no competition, meaningful competition is about becoming better & becoming better inevitably is a matter of becoming different. Not just inventing but re-inventing oneself. We must endure a certain size - as we must endure gravitation - to be able to be in optimal contact with as many others but anything bigger than the minimum needs to be, in short, cut in manageable pieces if we want to avoid that the pieces manage us - as they do at the moment I write this.


Whilst writing this I was listening to (surprise!) The Best of Depeche Mode, Volumes 1 & 2.

21:10 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: friendship, learning, pop culture, competition |  Facebook |