I need to retire this blog. It was started by an engineer would-be philosopher. Now, I am a philosopher would-not-be engineer. The original process was simple: I took a quote, to then think a thought. This (fragment of a) poem by Antonio Machado exemplifies what it was that drove me to create this blog,:
Oh solitude, my only companion,
Oh you muse of wonder, that gave my voice the word –
even if I never asked you for it!, answer
this my question: to whom is it that I speak?
It was the longing to be heard that drove me – after so many years of talking to myself – to put my thoughts – upon reading that what nobody else I knew read – on this here blog. It did not solve a peculiar predicament of mine: loving dearly only those who do not share my obsession with philosophy whilst being so obsessed with philosophy that not sharing my thoughts on it stood in the way of loving them dearly. That said, it was the necessary first step towards, however precariously, solving my peculiar predicament.
Albeit I do not know to whom I am speaking, I know that I am not just speaking to myself so I may well take this last post to tell the story of (solving) this my peculiar predicament.
“It is all connected!”, they think, blissfully unaware that their next awareness will be one of feeling entirely disconnected from everything and everybody. Or vice versa (or, in one word: virtue).
Who are they? They are us! We want them to be split, though, in two neat rows: the wavy kind, dreaming of connection, and the particly kind, feet firmly on disconnecting ground. Each one of us.
Why? We can’t help ourselves. We make distinctions and then we identify with them. So we can help our selves? Yes. Does that mean we hate our selves? Yes. Otherwise we could not love others.
Dichotomies. Paradoxes. Dualisms. Contrasts. Dualities. That’s what we are made of. That is what we want to escape. Quicksand comes to mind. Feet firmly in connecting ground. Ripples through.
Wavy people are particular now. Particly people are all the wave. From East to West. And back again. Back?
Being different always results in spending more energy. Sara Ahmed explains this well in her “Living a Feminist Life”. Either you spend energy to ‘pass’ despite your difference, or you assert your difference and spend energy in explaining why you don’t just try to pass. Difference is an exhausting if inexhaustible way of getting into Catch-22 situations. What do you do when you can do no more and not doing anything is simply not an option? Not doing anything, for those who need reminding, is not an option because you are different and being different isn’t something you can shake off. It’s not peripheral to who you are. It is (an integral part of) who you are.
In matters of end of life one is often counseled to be patient or one becomes a patient. A Catch-22 in its own right. Either, so you are told, you are just exhausted and need to give yourself a rest or you are deemed too exhausted to give it a rest such that others need to intervene on your behalf. in the first case you are not really you. In the second case you are not a real you at all. But what if, with Ahmed, we neither want to be patient nor want to be a patient? Not being you, for those who need reminding, just isn’t an option as you are different. It being exhausting is not something you can shake off. It is not peripheral. You’d rather be dead then deny that you are (a) you.
It is not that long ago I had a passionate death wish. People tell me it is a sign of ill health. I disagree. People focus too much on the ‘death’ part to the point of not noticing the ‘wish’ part. I wish everybody would wish something passionately. It is a sign of being alive.
Wishing is something you do alone (wish, don’t tell) but it is also for something you can’t do alone (I wish you would see that). It takes a brain but not a brain taken in isolation. So as long as a brain is not reduced to its neurons there are signs of intelligent life.
Death and life then are like anything interesting: a duality (intimately related, seemingly opposed). What value would life have without something external to it worth to die for? Seeing them as a dichotomy deadens life. Seeing them as aligned enlivens death.
Both options – capitalism and fascism respectively (think about it!) – are not to be wished for. It’s as if you want to fit a rubber band around a sphere. Either it snaps to the right or to the left. The end result is the same: no tension. Therefore: neither life nor death.
This is life. This is what we live. We can’t keep the rubber band in place without another – without one another. If we are brains, which most certainly we are, we are always also a brain without neurons. We can wish death as long as it means more life for others.
Nature may or may not abhor a vacuum but it most certainly abhors itself. If there is one thing constant in nature it is that it constantly tries to escape its own limits. Take myself: if it were for nature I would not have survived my childhood if it were not for unnatural interventions based on synthesizing salbutamol and administering it via asthma inhalers to my inflamed upper respiratory tract. Consequently I also would not have been able to develop in my adulthood an addiction to the intake of tobacco-mediated nicotine and live to count to half a century worth of anniversaries.
‘Hold on there!’, I hear you think, we don’t invent magic medicine to allow you to survive an addiction. We invent it to allow you to survive full stop. Here’s why you’re wrong.
There are many who focus on life’s precariousness or its intrinsic vulnerability for good reason. They want to protect us from the many threats that we face. It is, however, quite a precarious thing to highlight our intrinsic vulnerability to extrinsic threats. Indeed, as soon as we feel vulnerable we feel alone. And when we feel alone we get our defenses up to the extent we do not want to let anyone in. This much is clear from our reaction to the various immigration crises around the world. Focusing on a first person’s precariousness creates the third person’s threat; me and him, us and them.
What the feeling of precariousness does is create the feeling of a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog world. We may then have good intentions, even be convinced with Rousseau that man or nature unspoiled is intrinsically good, but the result is the same: the struggle to retrieve a long lost freedom is our essence. As Derrida deconstructed it, the arrow points backward instead of forward. And that’s not good because whatever way you look at it, we will live our lives predominantly in the future.
The question is: ‘Can we do better?’. My answer is: ‘Yes, we can!’ Here’s why.
Posted in myself
Tagged climate, competition, consolation, Derrida, Hobbes, love, personal, Rousseau, time, Un PoCo PoMo, Wittgenstein
Some people say it and others I just see thinking it: “You don’t seem autistic.” It is mostly meant as a compliment but it is one with a jagged edge. The thing to keep in mind is that being different has, always, this in-built tension between not wanting to be defined by it and inevitably being defined by it. In the case of autism the Catch-22 reads this way: “I’d be insane if I accepted to be autistic but, if I’m sane, I have to accept I’m not autistic.”
So I’ve spent months being strong in order not to divert the attention of others to the way I’m feeling (or not feeling, to be more exact). I’m pretty proud of that because I was there when I was needed. It was tiring though. Whilst the gap between the world and me was, at least seemingly, small the internal chasm grew bigger all the time. Ultimately it, again, swallowed me in a vortex of alienation that left me literally lost. I am a lucky bastard and the people whose back I had when they needed me had mine when I needed theirs. But it is not a given that this is the case which is why I feel the need to explain myself.
is what he asked himself, quite unoriginally. Except, maybe, for the quotation marks and comma in the title. It dawned on him self-referentiality might well be what he (hmm, not quite getting this sentence right?) was starting to refer to. Weird is what he was, but what was weird? (other than writing this in the past tense).
You with me? Was! Well, I lost my self. Then I regained one. Just to ask: “What now?” and that question is always in the past so always already answered but also always – all over – again and again ready to be asked; always all over. I am trying to make sense, you know, as did he (whom I am) did, starting all this on a whim.
More or less? You wanna know? Well, I do. So fuck you, here’s more.
Posted in myself
“When he’s always asking me” the a detached from the sentence flew away like a ball in the field. is the best I can do to translate the second sentence of Kafka’s diaries. I have no clue whether that comes close to the original: “Wenn er mich immer frägt” das ä losgelöst vom Satz flog dahin wie ein Ball auf der Wiese. Does it matter? What is it to be close? Why am I pretending to be anywhere near the same ball park as Kafka?
Such constant questioning leads to a detachment in which a thought separates itself from its context creating a new trajectory most probably just to fall flat on its face somewhere out in left field where it perishes unattended. The urge to write is however stronger than the frustration with not being read, so here goes: a musing on why peer review processes do not always eliminate the bad and, more importantly, not always discover the good.
This is a train crash. I am the train. Born awkward, sickly, with a curved spine I wanted it all. And I got it. Unfortunately I am insatiable. So I kept on going. And going. And going. I kept on going despite pain in my back. I kept on smoking despite being short of breath. It was my body that failed first but I kept on going until my spirit broke. And then I kept on going because I did not want to admit I could not get it all. Could not get it all my way. It’s a matter of keeping afloat since then. Slowly deflating and realizing I am going under. In no way is this a train crash and in no way am I a train. It’s a sizzle not a boom.
What I got is people I love and what is happening is that I alienate them by what they are perceiving as me acting increasingly like an alien. Neither the one confident to get things done even it it took applying force, nor a one that can just be tranquil facing his bad luck and coast along accepting the force others apply to him. I am a loser. I act as a loser. I feel like a loser and the question is: can they love a loser? Can they love that man in the same body that once ruled supreme and that now hosts the man that just wants to give up? It’s a genuine question to which I have no answer. I say to myself this will be a last blurb of a darkness I need to exit. It will not be. Maybe it’s therapeutic. Then again maybe not.
Here are some facts:
Posted in JoB
Tagged autism, personal, self