oh satellites, bring me salvation

 

This is the view from the balcony of my room. As you can see, there are a couple of skyscrapers and a couple of satellite dishes present. I've found that satellite dishes add a certain dimensionality to landscape scenes. It's like an optical illusion of a cube, where my brain flips between seeing the cube inside-out or rightside-in; if I stare out at a landscape long enough -- a landscape that contains a certain threshold of satellites -- I either see a set of geometric structures stacking together into the urban scene, or a multitude of satellite dishes perched around like hopeless butterflies (or maybe pheasants or some bird that runs instead of flying to evade attackers). It is one or the other, but never both. In optical illusions our brain is trying to battle itself to create a norm from given visual stimulus. It is clear, if this is true, that satellite dishes must cause a battle of some sorts in my brain under some circumstances.

that's one way to do it

 

I read this short story once about a man who eats a bunch of blue paint to try and commit suicide. His wife (girlfriend?) divorces (leaves?) him after she sees what he has done. I don't know if it's obvious, but I don't remember much about this story. I think it was part of a short story collection in which there is another story (maybe) about a highway and a diner. What's strange about both of those stories is that they still pop into my head today, yet I have no recollection what the point of them was. The story about eating paint pops into my head whenever I see ultramarine blue paint in stores (I'm not sure in the story if he ever makes a point of discussing the exact shade of blue, which makes me a bit baffled why ultramarine is my trigger AND it makes me think that this was a missed opportunity in the stories narrative), and it dawns on me that I would never commit suicide by paint, but I guess if I did I'd use a lighter blue; probably something more along the lines of a brandeis blue. And I'd definitely use an acrylic; oils are bad for you, don't you know? As for the story about the highway (maybe a truck stop is in it?), it makes me think of this diner that was a half hour away from where I grew up as a kid. It sat along a stretch of road that sold a lot of RV's and cars; tucked away next to some gas station it was curled up in neon and breakfast specials. I always drove by, but never went in. For some reason I always felt (do feel) connected to this diner, as if it's had a significant part of my life. When I consciously know it has had nothing to do with my life.

 

with so much insight, this is all becoming fantastically unclear

 

Persepctive is built from a collection of data. Points of light, previous observations, wants, assumptions; it's a finite set, though. A few things in this lobe of the brain, a few others in that. And from this place we can turn around and think about how we would rather perceive our environment. We can think about how it would be interesting if ones perspective where forced to see things in a slightly different way. We have names for these people: artists, philosophers, mathemticians, architects, etc. People who at their core are meant to alter perspective. (Which I guess could cause a long parenthetical about how the alteration of perspective are moments of being drawn closer to Truth). What I've been hung up on is how a shift of perspective can be thought of as analgous to altering elements of a data set. A pinch more fear, adding a color receptor (which I guess is already something that's in 15% of the female population?... quadchromatic eyeballs or something), taking away a spacial dimension. In other words altering elements, removing elements, or adding elements. Say you bounce around altering your data set. Hacking away, forcing changes in perspective. What eventually happens with the set you started with? All that you once saw is now a shadow of itself; the elements (or maybe they can be thought of like vectors) required to add up to a specific perspective are gone. This leads to the question: How do we create shortcuts for others to end up with our dataset? I think this is what cultural objects are for. Little decoder rings for a data set.

that was entirely expected (a new new essays on human understanding).

 

The brain is said to be the creator of visions of our expectations. Our senses -- ears, eyes, and whatnot -- kick in to moderate those expectations. We watch waterfalls for long enough and everything looks like it is crawling uphill; stationary or not. I think it's called the Waterfall Effect, or something like that, where our motion detecting neurons get put into a sort of loop watching moving water for a while, so once we look away from a large moving field (water or otherwise, but something uniform), we only see things as moving. This overlap where everything does not seem as it is (i.e. where the majority of observers would indicate that all is stationary) is just the brain being pulled back, not to reality, but in line with a set of electronic pulses coming from our eyeballs. And that's the part that really sticks in my head: the part where our senses are at best backseat drivers and at worst movie goers yelling at the screen. 

It makes me wonder a bit about aesthetics and what we feel good about seeing/experiencing. It would seem that that which is most pleasant to see/hear/taste/touch/smell is what our brain expects -- our senses perfectly confirm and amplify that which was expected. Like two waves briefly overlapping while traveling in the same direction. It's as if a beautiful experience is when the brain is expecting a dollop of red paint, and we instead treat it to a room bathed in cadmium. The creativity that touches on this or creates this experience -- the creativity that pulls out a masterful painting, writes a piece of prose that seems to be drawn from somewhere on the first few pages of our instruction manual -- is something that reaches past our senses. In other words: part of creativity is touching on that which was never meant to be perceived by the senses.

that's so thoughtful of you

 

There's a short essay in David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, reviewing a translation of Dostoevsky (I think this is what the essay was about… maybe it wasn't a translation, but a new compilation of all the works of Dostoevsky. It's not too important for this detail to be accurate in order for the content of what I'm about to say to be relevant). Wallace devotes a large portion of the essay talking about how the sort of deep, introspective portions of any of Dostoevsky's work seems so over the top now. Almost trite. Wallace, of course, plays on this by interjecting his own existential musings about the purpose of art and connection to emotions through creative means, while talking about how it is impossible to actually come out and say anything of emotional substance anymore without inducing cringes in ones audience; that a touch of irony is expected in all things of depth. (At this point I could add in a long parenthetical about a conversation I once witnessed -- a PAINFUL conversation -- between two music critics, who were arguing over whether irony was dead or not. I still am not sure if the conversation had a point or not, but I remember desperately wanting to leave the room, yet being unable to gracefully remove myself from the situation.) That we must distance ourselves from poignancy in order to create something of poignancy. I took away mostly how it seems to me that our culture makes us observers to the things that matter, versus a participant to the things that matter.

I was riding around on a bus today and this essay popped into my mind. I guess part of it comes from being self conscious about writing things out in the open for the first time and wondering if certain things come across like drunk musings with friends after a first year away at college, but I think it also had something to do with a conversation I had with a friend about the elitism that seems to dog the culture of art. Here I am as as an artist capturing a version of truth in output -- casting my own light into the darkness I see around me -- and all that I do and make will typically get boxed up in specific spaces and/or contained in lengthy writings referencing other artists and conceptual frameworks. The community starts to create a vocabulary that isolates. A way of being that isolates.

A lot of art contains objects. These objects are easy to set in an empty room and stare at; to shuffle around and stare. But I think it is through our connection to the objects that the piece is understood and brings forward its content; the the presence of object and viewer together creates something new and outside of the moment. Like Schrodinger's cat: through observation the object takes on a specific state. Or a chaotic system where a certain threshold is met and suddenly the system takes a very recognizable form. Or maybe were truth is the infinite sum of a Taylor Series and object and viewer are each their own terms.

Maybe I'll come back and update this so that I can wrap all these pieces up pretty. But the point is to realize the pull of certain words/ideas that play with each other. The sinusoidal wave that the expression of emotion takes with time: where sentiments, like words themselves, go through a cyclical history of meaning. I like to hope that the age of participation in emotion is coming back. Or be told that I've just been missing it by a mere ignorance of dimension.

this time i see, this time i feel.

 

What is it that I want? I think there's an inclination to view wants in terms of specific goals. Wants aren't elements of a set, they're all derivative of Want. I think if you start writing down Want in terms of words it starts to sound a lot like a Hallmark card, "Happy Birthday Love/Truth/Presence, to our future together again.". To dissect what want is, is to feel tidal currents in the quiet moments of the day when there is no beach near. It is something that requires less words, not more. I think at its heart, want is a conduit to a persons fundamental truth. With the crude tools that we have been given to excavate truth from the world around us, we wield want like a hammer in a place with no nails. I would like to not want anything.