edging. in a different way.

I was recently reading an article in Vice about the reunion show of LCD Soundsystem. The author’s point in the article was that anyone waiting in line for a reunion show of LCD Soundsystem had lost their edge. I didn’t even know what “loosing one’s edge” was, but through my critical reading skills I was able to gather that it meant when someone stops working on learning more about something. Which taken back into the context of those waiting for the show seemed to mean that anyone who wanted to see an old band reboot, had lost their will to look for new music. They had settled (also, when you are finished reading this, I’m wondering if reading Vice is an indication that I have also lost my edge?).

I read the entire article. I didn’t read it because I thought it was funny or really very on point (the logic wasn’t there for me), but more because I’ve never really understood what other people are doing. Ever. And to hear people talk about loosing their edge in relationship to music was sort of like watching monkeys at the zoo partake in a patterned, yet indecipherable, activity. Which made me think that I may be someone who is loosing their edge in perpetuity. Because loosing an edge, means seeing where an edge is in the first place. An edge: the forefront of some cultural thread. My curiosity leads me trudging up and down the terrain of culture, maybe every once in a while stumbling along an edge. Oblivious. Or maybe it’s that a piece of me has always been more interested in the expanse than in the point. The hung valley over the peak. But I’d be lying if I didn’t desire to be on a peak every now and then.

And I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. I know that in some ways it makes me very self deprecating: the person who is never on the edge. Stupid. I feel like this vision I have of the world pulls in information from areas where each input is given an equal weight; where I sometimes think the stone on a beach deserves a place next to a ship at sea. I don’t know what kind of edge that is.

I was telling a friend about a woman that I love and how she was the Matt Damon to my Ben Affleck (I actually missed the metaphor at first, and wrongly stated that I was Robin Williams). But in Good Will Hunting there is that scene where Ben Affleck tells Matt Damon that one day he wants to show up to pick Matt up for work, and he wants Matt to be gone. To have gone on to some life that he is meant to have.

And this woman, I love her in a way where part of me sort of hopes she suddenly disappears from my life, and she goes on to become something epic. Something on the edge. But here I am, now, seeing myself rolling absurdly through a landscape, oblivious as I build mountains and break stones. And I guess my ending to all this thinking is that I realized both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck can be on the edge. At the same time. And some edges only one or two people ever really know about in the first place. The edge is the place where we participate in life.

And I’m all about loosing my edge. And then finding it. And then loosing it again.

i'm trying to understand where you came from before i knew me.

I've been meaning for a while to write about this long rats nest of thoughts about some ideas around information; how the path and movement of information defines us. And the rats nest has started to build up and get kicked around until it basically looks like a kite string on the most unfortunate of adventures. So now I'm just going to plow ahead and get some of these thoughts down before they end up disappearing forever. But it’s pretty scary trying to write it all down, because once I start, I’ve started. You know? Like I can’t go back and do it again for the first time. Maybe that’s a different thing to write about… 

Let's just take a quick aside to talk about the effect of writing down something for the first time. There is the sudden implication that only part of what I am trying to say will directly be said. Which means I'm relying on a large part of what I'm trying to say to come through tangentially through a certain ubiquitous understanding of how the world works. In a way, saying anything specifically is both impossible and also terrifying to try. For me, at least.

There's two starting points to this that began this whole direction of thought. One piece is the essay On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects by Gilbert Simondon (thank you, lovely human being with the most mischievous of smiles, for giving me this) and the other is an article which describes where corporate organizational charts were born: railroads. (We will refer to it further more as The Article, since I can’t track down the exact article I read, although I surmise it was from the New York Times, although a quick google of “organizational structure railroad”, comes up with some articles from Wired and Slate, which get some of the points across, but are a little brief. Also, I’m pretty sure the article I was reading was comparing company's organizational structures to what Zappos is trying to do with this whole Holocracy thing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holacracy), which is much more on point to what I’m talking about, since a main tenet of a Holocracy is the ability to cheaply and quickly share information with TONS of people) 

Railroads, who were trying to organize the timetables of all their trains, thought that they had found an amazing tool in the advent of the telegraph since it would allow all the stations to communicate their timetables to each other over any distance. But what they found was that after a certain amount of distance, there were so many times/trains to keep track of, and only a certain speed to telegraph those pieces of information to different stations, that there was actually an increase of accidents/delays after the introduction of the telegraph. The fix to this was to create a reporting system, much like employees to managers in a traditional corporate setting, that allowed information to aggregate with a single person, who would then pass things on to individual railway stations. 

What I find interesting about this is that trying to contain an information flow over a certain physical distance had an upper boundary that was imposed by how fast someone could click a little piece of metal. In a sense information, what information WAS and what it MEANT, was woven into the physical space where that information was trying to be used. This is especially fascinating when you consider new research that points to quantum entanglement as the cause of time (again… can’t find the article I originally read, but this one seems to talk about it a bit: http://www.nature.com/news/the-quantum-source-of-space-time-1.18797). This would imply that the ability to transmit information instantaneously, the entanglement of two particles, is the reason that spacetime has the curvature that it does; that it is the reason gravity exists and that time moves as we experience it.

If I think about this in a simple way (and pretty much un-scientific way, which would KILL a scientist friend of mine, who we’ll call Max, who basically has a conniption when anyone creates metaphors and analogy by using scientific results. “ABSOLUTES! ABSOLUTES! NOT THESE FUCKING GENERALIZATIONS!”. But that’s probably why he’s a scientist and I’m an artist.) it means that if you can only move information as fast as you can click a little button, you get a limited set of trains in motion. If you can move information instantaneously, you get spacetime. So what about all the in-between speeds?

And this is where the paper from Simondon comes in. It’s an expansive read, which I really recommend as it changed my perspective on how objects become parts of lives (and it elevated my thinking on the duel engendering that objects have with their creators), but it also, in the version I read, had a forward by John Hart, who wrote, “Once technical reality has become regulatory, it can be integrated into culture, which is itself essentially regulatory”. And the piece that stuck out to me was this idea of culture as regulation. And when I think about it, regulation is really just a set of instructions on how something will be done; regulation is a bounded way to share information. Dance, food, music, language, and even religion you can really think about as just different, pre-defined ways to share specific types of information. When that one 80’s song comes on and everyone in the bar starts singing along or dancing a certain way, aren’t we really passing information to each other about all kinds of things? There’s an internal piece obviously that we are fulfilling for ourselves, but there is a lot of information that is being flung out into the environment. We are an event horizon.

a side note on the event horizon of internal/external space 

In the book All That is Solid Melts Into Air, there is the sentence, “The things he knows, he knows from being alone amongst others”. For me, this sentence really captures the idea of internal and external space. And I guess I relate to it, because I usually find myself to feel like an outsider, even when surrounded by people who all know me. I am excluded, while being included.

But why do we separate our experience into an internal and external one? Why a bifurcation of experience? I think as people we like to broadly categorize things as quickly as possible, because it saves us from the efforts of having to decode the continually new experience around us; continued decoding is exhausting. But if you think about all the information around us, and within us, like a large undulating surface, and you pick any point on that surface, from that point there are orthogonal directions that define the minimum and maximum curvature of the surface at that point. (That’s a differential geometry thing… those directions are called the principle curves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal_curvature ) And I think we tend to focus on these min/max that a piece of information seems to illuminate. We bifurcate. We pick extremes as the options of what something can be. But that viewpoint changes if, instead, we think about not a point of information, but how that information moves from one place to another. The speed of that information, the channels that that information takes. 

So I’ve been now thinking of channels of information. The roads that carry thoughts on things like if there’s a heaven, or whether Trish likes me, or weather that is a raccoon or a cat in that tree over there. And some of these channels exist only inside of myself. The information is being passed from different spheres of Self to add to some created manifestation of me. (I use the term “sphere” here in thinking about Sloterdijk’s book Bubbles, and his idea of the infinite layers that are contained within the Self, which we slowly descend into, until communication itself is no longer available to this Self examining Self. In a sense, he talks about the exact center of Self a lot like a blackhole, which meshes nicely with ideas of existence as just the aggregate of channels of information. Self and Death end up being the two blackholes that we circle around for our existence). And then there is the information that loops out from me to the environment, and subsequently gathers new information, or branches into a different channel, that then comes swooping back into my consciousness. Existence just becomes the aggregate of channels of information; of their limitations, their failings, and their unknown reasons for being.

In the book Varamo by Cesar Aira (here’s looking at you Aaron) there is the sentence, “He had developed a superstitious fear of the instant, that tiny hole through which all the time available to human beings must pass”. And in my current mindset this a beautifully succinct way to say all of the above. Our physicality, our mindset, our belief in who we are, is just the body that fits through this tiny hole: the moment. The moment: the collection of information that we can carry through a singular point.

a wooden vagina, simple masculinity, and the foundation of ideas

I’m currently working on making mantel versions of my piece “the ineffective ways we choose to measure time”. You can see the test of the first one here: http://markvonrosenstiel.posthaven.com/cock-first-run. (Also: “mantel version” refers to the fact that this version is more mobile than the original, which seems to imply to me that, as a timepiece, the mantel would be an appropriate place for it to live. I’m planning on making a wearable wrist version soon). 

I decided I really wanted to make a his and hers version of the piece, so I started working on a wooden vagina. This is the reason why I found myself watching the sun rise this morning on the roof of the building where my studio is, angle grinder in hand, getting a vagina to appear out of a block of wood. And as I sat there in the sun (realizing how hard it is to find a vagina in a block of wood, even after I had previously sculpted one in clay to figure out all the bits and pieces. My clay endeavor was accompanied by internet research and I have to say that finding anatomical pictures of a vagina on the internet is actually a somewhat difficult thing, given that they are awash in a sea of porn.) I started to think about how different it is as a piece to have a vagina versus a penis hitting a rock.

I don’t think it’s really even important to talk about the concept of the original piece, but if I think about the act of a wooden vagina hitting a rock, versus a wooden penis hitting a rock, the first seems so much more complex than the second. (These next sentences very much illustrate how I, at this particular moment, thought about relationships of men to their cocks, versus women to their vaginas. I guess what I’m saying is I’m not making these statements as some general statements. They’re just the things flying through my head while I’m carving a vagina on a roof in the sun.) Sitting there, flap sanding disc spinning away, it occurred to me that seeing a wooden vagina hitting a rock made me think about almost the exact opposite thing that the wooden penis did. 

A wooden vagina hitting a rock seems to say to me “if only it was just as simple as this”, where the wooden penis says, “fuck, I act like it’s as simple as this”. Vaginas (see Jamie McCartney’s piece if you really want to marvel at all the different vaginas out there), and how I hear women talk about their vaginas, are tied to so much more than a penis is. Or, more precisely, they are tied to a larger array of things outside of sex. I guess I can’t always choose what the thing I make is about. The concept jumps out of the box. See that? A pun.

And there is a last piece to this. Before settling on a vagina, I was going to carve a woman’s torso, with legs spread. I realized a bit of time into this process that this representation of a vagina, attached to a body, really started to change the meaning of the piece (because it was attaching the vagina to a unidentifiable, yet present, woman), and that it started to take on a meaning that was pretty fucking awful. So I thankfully scrapped that before it got too far along. But there was a silver lining in that I’d never carved/sculpted a woman’s torso before. And man-oh-man is the area where the butt, hip and quad come together on a woman a fucking Ferrari of lines. 

Friends that are in art school talk about studying anatomy and I’ve always thought it was sort of silly: diving into a very scientific set of ideas when all they were doing was drawing something that they can physically see. But as I was sitting trying to get the curve of a hip, to match into the plane of the butt, while still taking into account the quad, I was perplexed. I was looking at the image of the woman on my computer screen, and fixating on a line that ran along her ab and down onto the inside of her quad, which is visibly there, but as I took it to be my point of reference, everything else got all wonky. And then it dawned on me how the muscle of the quad slides up and over to the outside of the hip (medical people, don’t go crazy here. I know this is sorta maybe not exactly how it works, but just think about how you would drive along from muscle to muscle, if you were a racecar, and then you will be pleasantly on the same page as me). It’s like I was trying to draw a cursive “s” and then “a” by drawing half of the “s”, and then all of the “a", before jumping back to finish the “s”. A total mess. But once I could see in my head the muscle and how it attached into the butt and how the abs came down, it was so easy to picture all the planes coming together. And sculpting the body got to be bliss.

And it made me think that a woman’s hip is sort of like a hypothesis for a theory of how part of the world works. I could come up with lines that I thought were important to describe how all the planes of skin came together, but they were difficult to use, and didn’t seem to bring the being, the hip, into some sort of simplicity. But with the lines that the muscle groups revealed, the being, the hip, became so simple. So next time I’m trying to figure out some structure in the world and I find myself at a loss, I’m going to think of the little spot where a woman’s hip, butt, and quad come together. It is an illuminating spot.

Oh. And the hers version is titled, “sorry, I thought you were going to cum too”.

preying mantis looking for samba partner

Anyone who has known me in or before college is surprised by the fact that I now love dancing. It’s not that I was bad at dancing (which I was… I had NO rhythm or sense of movements which in anyway complimented a song’s structure), but more that I honestly hated the sense of participating in a group of people who were all watching each other do the same thing. I remember being 12 or so at my aunt's wedding and when she told me “Come on! Dance!”, my response was “How?” I remember looking at a sea of people, all who were sort of doing a similar thing, and wondering where they all got their notes from. How did they all know what they were supposed to be doing? I didn’t. (It is not necessary to note, but worthwhile to mention, that there was a large animatronic rhino in the corner of the room.)

Who knows how my movements work out these days, if they’re good or bad, but I’m like a bird flying blindly into a window over and over again; I feel strongly a sense of direction and I head that way. Regardless of glass.

In Budapest, there seems to be a shortage of men who just like to dance. The vibe on a dance floor is of a bunch of vampires scanning a room for prey; bulky men or men wearing too much axe body spray or something that smells like someone shoplifting from a Sephora only to trip during his escape and face plant in the parking lot among 1000 small cologne samples. 

I get asked if I’m a “homo” a lot, but not in an inquisitive anthropological way, but a way which seems to imply that my masculinity was checked with the many umbrellas by the door. And I always wonder in those moments, what the game plan is of the man asking me. Is he a closeted man, hoping that me — in large woman’s sunglasses and bright tank top — would possibly blow him in the bathroom? Or (and, this is, I believe, is the true reason) is he bolstering his masculinity by questioning MY masculinity? Luckily I’m tall and sometimes laugh like I’m completely insane, so it’s easy for me to disarm these situations. I just make a flying bird motion with both of my hands, yell “DOVE!” (it’s a bird of peace), start laughing manically, and begin to chase my imaginary bird. No one usually makes many follow ups after that.

But there are moments in places like this where I have danced with a woman and created a moment that is pure bliss. The moment before a kiss. The moment before walking to their apartment. This moment involves movements that look like a preying mantis cartoon walking through space or trying to catch a frisbee with his feeble arms. Or the woman and me trading overly large smiles, while the other one picks at their teeth like a dentist. Two people in a glorious forgotten moment. A moment, that when it stops, finds us surrounded by a room of perplexed people; perplexed people who wish they were dentists, too, for a moment.

I guess my point is, that dancing is sometimes better than fucking. Way better.

when silly flirting actually reveals something better.

A while back I was in a bar and a woman started talking to me. She was pretty and had an easy laugh and she asked me about my family. I told her a bit about my parents and then said about my sister, “she’s a more beautiful, better version of me”. At the time I think I thought it was disarming and charming, which let’s be honest, it was, but I’ve caught myself over the past year or so, always describing my sister like that to people that don’t know her. My little line that I thought was so clever, is actually just the truth. My sister and I were both blessed in our lives in many ways. I think the goodness that I could be, though, is ruined by the fact that I can get so caught up thinking about myself. My sister on the other hand, takes all these talents, wisdom, empathy, and love and shares them without really thinking about it. Her generosity is an extremely moving thing to watch in any of the relationships she has. 

Where I get stuck obsessing, she readily moves forward.

And it makes me want to hide letters to her about how much I love her. Because the idea that she should open any door, window, or drawer, and find a letter that marvels and rejoices in who she is, is almost better than her actually getting a letter from me.

Some people get described as forces; forces of nature. It implies a dominance of a room or an almost unavoidable relationship with someone. My sister is a principle. As in something foundational that makes the world. Like an electron. She is a principle of someone present. 

When I was a kid, my sister started leaving letters for me around the house. She would sign them “Kerry The Letter Fairy”. Fuck… I actually don’t remember how she spelled Kerry. Maybe it was with a “c”. But she did this for years (or a year?… my memory is a bit foggy), telling me all about her home in the clouds and the things she did with her day. My mom and dad helped in the charade so that I could leave letters anywhere, and they would magically disappear, with a response arriving within a few days. I truly believed in Kerry.

On planes I’d look at the clouds and wonder which one Kerry lived in. My world was full of letters. Waiting on every window sill. Waiting behind every door. Each filling me with a sense of belonging and being watched over and cared about. 

And so I stumbled on this phrase about my sister, and it makes me think how much I hope she feels that around her is a world full of hidden letters all written from someone who cares deeply about her. 

She is a more beautiful, better version of me.

two cups and a string

There was a woman that got on the bus as I was going back to my friend’s apartment today. She had blonde hair in a ponytail, and was pretty short. I don’t know what it is about short women, but they always get to me; I fall for them immediately, especially if they have nice collar bones, and a nose that is a bit different than your regular fair. I think the majority of women I’ve dated have been under 5’7”, which is pretty close to the height of the average american woman. Which maybe makes me the average american man? I don’t know.

There have been about 2 women that I’ve dated that have been really tall, and I sometimes caught myself drifting into long meandering thoughts about the length of their femur or ulna; I couldn’t stop thinking of the size of their bones, particularly if they were naked next to me. I never asked them if they thought the same thing about my skeleton, since I figured telling a girl I was thinking about her skeleton when she was naked maybe would come off as creepy or not very pleasant; nobody relates their beauty or funny personality to their structural elements. 

Anyway. I didn’t really know exactly what stop was my friend’s apartment, but in noticing this woman on the bus, I started to pretend like someone who didn’t know what stop they were looking for. There is an important distinction between not knowing what stop I should get off at, and pretending to not know. While pretending to not know — glancing at passing signs and quizzically furrowing my eyebrows — I didn’t actually read any signs or look for important landmarks. I was acutely aware of my distance to this woman and the role my face played in the construction of this distance. But playing the role of someone not knowing, meant that outside of this role I should know where I was going. Which I didn’t.

I missed my stop. Obviously. Since in my role as “person trying to find important landmarks and information”, I was only worried about the orientation of my head to body, and the contortions that my face was making. The rest of my mind was drifting to thinking about where this woman came from, and where she was going to, and what sort of music she was listening to on her phone, and if she could feel the distance to me, like fog on fall mornings. 

And it was strange but I suddenly had the memory of the first time I told a girl I loved her. I was in my parents house at the top of the stairs and there was this wood railing made of cherry, or something red/brown, with these small brass screws holding together the various parts. There is carpet (gray?) under foot and I say the words and she smiles, and there is a pause, and she says “am I supposed to say it back?” and I say “it doesn’t matter what you say”. 

At the time I think I said that because it made me sound like a fortune cookie, which at a young age feels a lot like being wise. But maybe I was onto something where love is like the distance between my row boat on an ocean, and a beach that I can see on the horizon. Or the distance between two stones at the bottom of a harbor. Or the distance between particles that jump in and out of existence. Love is the sensation of a distance, and once that distance is known, there is no changing the perception of what it is in that moment.

I love people that don’t love me back. I love people that hate me. I love people that have soaked through my skin and wrapped my spine and ribs in something that feels like honey. And I have felt the distance to someone suddenly disappear; they are an object in space, as am I, but there is no way to measure how far or near we are to each other.

I walked to my friend’s apartment, having overshot his place by a couple stops. I started thinking about what had happened as I watched the girl disappear on the bus. 

I wanted her to see me as I saw me. But it made me realize there is a balance to examining my own sense of self. If I dig in deep it can suddenly be like when I hear a top hat in my favorite song, and suddenly the song is only the clap of that top hat. Everything suddenly becomes infuriating and flat. 

There’s something to write here about balance between experience and introspection. About seeing things out of the corner of my eye. But instead I’m just going to try to stop paying attention to what my face is doing.

i will always be built from some covalent bonds

I get jealous when I see artists that seem to have a super fluid practice. Their work seems to bound around in a bubble of wordless joy. It is impossible for me to escape a sense of structure in my work. It’s actually impossible for me to catch a bus or buy a banana (I also LOVE bananas, although banana candies are, without exception, the worst candy flavor ever made) without a large overarching sense of structure; buses lined up in FIFO order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFO), seats dividing everything into some modulo arithmetic, or those bananas all spooning each other in an orgiastic display of fruit love; their interiors splitting into those 5 triangle cross sections (http://www.fastonline.org/CD3WD_40/INPHO/COMPEND/IMG/CH13/G00044.JPG) like a grouping of unused girders waiting to build a bridge from the kiwis to the oranges. I think the jealousy comes from a certain rigidity that I automatically associated with things that are clearly related through a structured foundation. But then, this other idea pops into my head — a new idea that I’ve been swishing about on my frontal lobes like a fine scotch — that changes all of this.

It started with me, as usual, thinking about myself. I was thinking about how when I meet people I assign to them certain characteristics: they’re funny, they’re an engineer, they’re a dog lover. The whole “reading a book by its cover” thing. We all do it. What is strange, though, is that these characteristics are all things that I already know. I’ve already experienced. So the presence of these characteristics is nothing new, yet this person I met IS different, they FEEL different, even though I’m creating an impression of them from just a lot of prefabbed pieces that I had laying around a shed near the back of my head.

I think these characteristics we see in a person we can think of as main axis of their volume. Sort of like how a physical volume of a space can be defined by height, width, and length, a person can be a volume defined by funny, engineering, and dog loving. And when we relate to people, or any object, we are just transforming something from our dimensionality into their dimensionality; taking an idea or an experience and stretching, twisting, and pulling it to fit their axis (or really, THEY are doing all the manipulation to bring something into their volume). And because these dimensions fundamentally create the view of an object (both from our own perspective, as well as someone else’s perspective), very subtle differences in these dimension’s proportions or values, drastically change an overall impression. So book covers with slightly brighter reds, or slightly darker fonts, are immensely more unique than their subtlety at first lets on. It’s like launching a spacecraft to Pluto that is off by 0.0000000000000000000001 degrees. That thing is never ending up at Pluto. (Also I cried when I saw this from the other week. I can't believe that human eyes have seen this.)

I guess an analogy could be made by thinking of a carrot being cut. If one person cuts a carrot at an angle and shows someone a slice, that person may be inclined to say, “this came from a vegetable that has an oval cross-section”, while if another person cuts a carrot at a right angle and shows someone a slice, that person may be inclined to say “this came from a vegetable with a circular cross-section”. The blade is a dimension, the carrot is an idea, and the cross section is what we are trying to show and relate to another person, which relies on us understanding each other’s knives.

For me there is something nice about this for a couple reasons: it creates a part of the purpose for living life, and it changes how I think about the “essence” of something.

Tackling the big one, the purpose of living life, I think this idea of Self being built from dimensionality brings into focus the need to minimize the way we try to define ourselves. And this focus has value. As we bring ideas, people, and experiences into our consciousness, it would make sense that I wouldn’t want to be cutting these apart with a bazillion knives that are the world views and characteristics that I find myself to be made of. I want to cut my carrots once. Or twice. But not dice them. Because if all things we bring into our consciousness we end up dicing apart, their original shape, while not important to remember for our own consistent internal state, are lost to share and pass to another person. Back to the carrots analogy: passing an oval and describing how it is like a circle, is easier than passing a random chunk and describing how it is like a circle.

And I think meaning in life is just finding long lasting relationships between ideas. And ideas that are long lasting, I think, have to be built on simple constructs. Otherwise they jump and leap around trying to meet a bunch of dimensional requirements. Like instead of Mr. Sphere visiting Flatland, say some non-differentable surface (i.e. a surface that has lots of pointy edges and intersecting planes) came to Flatland, and Mr. Square (or was he just called Square… fuck, was he even a square?) just saw this crazy outline altering and flashing into new configurations.

Low dimensionality means more fluid creation of meaning. It means ideas are brought into our volume of Self and don’t suddenly distort into some ungodly shape.

An aside on Flatland
I think I reference this book an obscene amount and it is probably one of the more influential things I have ever read, yet I remember that while reading it, I found I started to find it quant and sort of stupid. Like a friend that carries on a joke for too long, where I audably sigh before making an attempt to validate the repeated joke with a laugh. Which makes me sound sort of bitchy. But more importantly, I’d like to take this time to apologize to Flatland for how I treated it during our initial relationship.

And this leads back to structures themselves. I think I used to see them as unavoidable and unchanging, but I see them now as snapshots. Because there is no Self. Only a progression of dimensionality that one holds as defining themselves. When I’m in a “mood” and sullen or pissy, it isn’t that I’m not me, I’m just sullen or pissy. I’m just in a less common configuration of my volume. And in this sense we have a lot of choice about who we become. It is a choice in some sense, as long as we can come to believe it. Of course, we are also free to live a lie for as much of our lives as we wish.

An aside on Breakups and becoming a Man
I went through a pretty shitty breakup in my 20’s. But the breakup was made worse by the fact that I had lost who I was during the actual relationship. And afterwards I changed a lot. I became more flamboyant and loud and I decided I wanted to have a nice body. I was telling a friend about this recently and they commented that it seemed like the story of one of those guys that is hiding behind a gym and outlandish behavior just because they don’t know who they are or want to be. And when they said this I got pissed. Because they were right… in describing what it was at first. But I think deeper down I really wanted to be free to say what was on my mind and I wanted a body that was carved from wood; that could climb a mountain or be thrown into the sea. I wanted to be a singularity of space. But at first I WASN’T a singularity. I was someone pretending to be a singularity, which is uncomfortable and fake, and NOT a singularity. But I had a sense of nurturing certain dimensions of myself to better contain a volume of who I believed myself to be. So here I am now, as this volume. Which is pretty great. And I love.
So I will continue to be in awe of people with a fluid art practice, but I will also be content in planes and lines with which I divide all that I see. Including myself. Because structure doesn’t mean atomizing something, or saying it is inflexible. I talk to artists sometimes and they ask me about the emotional impact of pieces, dismissing my desire to frame my thinking in structures. I think they hear my voice in their head like a robot. But structure is emotion. It is not simplifying and categorizing. It is only describing a volume that has the ability to nurture.

that is absolutely, maybe true.

I don’t know when I stopped believing in things being absolute and the world started to seem a bit wrinkled like trying to look through brackish water. I guess everyone transitions to a more relative outlook as they realize that their philosophies of the world are subject to harsh readjustments. 

It seems a stereotype that an absolute view of the world — that unassailable, total certainty — is a product of youth and that a relative view of the world — that nothing is ever able to be fixed, or fully contained — is a product of old age. There’s a nice interplay between these two stereotypes where the person with an absolute viewpoint does, in fact, see themselves as relative to these “others” that have no such absolute viewpoint. And those with a relative viewpoint are absolute in their certainty that nothing can be truly known.

Both these extremes allow for little regard of Self.

It’s as if we are born with our foundations made from limestone that we assume will never erode, while in fact it is this erosion itself that brings us into some relationship with the world where we can express and find the Self. It’s maybe part of the process of gaining wisdom to watch this erosion not as a dissolution into nothing mattering, but instead as the opportunity to carefully curate the Self. To see the Self as the balance between the absolute and the relative; not a container, but more a function to look at ones intent and desires and see the outcomes that are created by holding onto these small, temporarily absolute traits. In this light the Self is the mechanism that allows us to realize and analyze when life feels more and more spread out and uneven: that our desires and intent must be better understood and shifted; that we can be consistent, yet relative; that we can have mastery without needing certainty.

at the moment my skin touches the air

In just a short week, I’m off to Meet Factory to play around with some ideas about the expression of self and internal perspective. I’ve been thinking a lot in the lead up about some writing by Peter Sloterdijk, where he talks about the process of communicating the idea of the self to the external world as well as the conscious self. He describes this process almost like a spelunker going into a cave and shouting back out towards the mouth of the cave his observations of the cave’s interior. At a certain point, however, the voice of the spelunker is lost as he becomes perfectly engulfed by the cave.

I mulled this over a bit and decided that the self is a lot like a blackhole. We can observe with certain tools we have created for ourselves to gaze internally, but the closer we get to actually sitting at our center, the less information we can relay back to our conscious mind. To carry the analogy further: as we slip across the event horizon of self, we are no longer able to use constructs of a conscious self to report on what we’ve seen; information does not travel in the outward direction at this point. It also illustrates the idea that the self is something that sits outside of constructs like language. Something like language is a general tool for creating internal perspectives.

What I find interesting about this analogy is that it puts self in a relationship with death. Death is the other blackhole of our experience. A delineator of time after which we are not able to pass information back to some external world. (I guess there can be a long parenthetical here about ghosts, psychic visions, dreaming, etc., which I don’t think contradict the idea of a Death As A Blackhole, but each of these, if true, would be constructs, like language, which are used to give a perspective on the Event Horizon of Death, but which don’t report on the full experience of What Death Is).

So then life is the process of feeling the gravitational pull of self, before the inevitable gravitational pull of death taking over. And maybe the satisfying life is the life which falls weightless and free to death because of a perfect understanding of self.