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Showing posts from 2017

Lovesickness

"Many psychoanalysts think that lovesickness is a form of regression, that in longing for intense closeness, we are like infants craving our mother's embrace. This is why we are most at risk when we are struggling with loss or despair, or when we are lonely and isolated... 'People who are lovesick put off testing their fantasies against reality.' But given the anguish that lovesickness can cause - the loss of mental freedom, the dissatisfaction with one's self, and the awful ache - why do some of us put off facing reality for so long?
Often it's because facing reality means accepting loneliness. And while loneliness can be useful - motivating us to meet someone new, for example - a fear of loneliness can work like a trap, ensnaring us in heartsick feelings for a very long time."
Stephen Grosz, The Examined Life

Isn't this a little bit like fun?

Fraction

"I am persuaded that
if truth is a number
[...] it never comes out even
ends in a fraction
cannot be rounded off."

John Stone,Even Though

Village

"A good relationship is a village in which people share parts of themselves with various people and that doesn't mean sexual parts, it just means that there are numerous people that reflect back on you, your sense of self-worth, your value, how much you mean to them in their life, that you don't just exist for one person, and just not one person that is meant to make you feel like you matter; there is a community that makes you feel that you matter.... give up the model that one person will be there for everything."
Esther Perel, talking about relationships and infidelity on Dear Sugar Radio

Words

Every period of self-growth in my life has been accompanied by acquisition of a new (set of) vocabulary of self-identification... words to describe who I am, signposts to navigate the psychological landscape. Without the right qualifiers, important elements of identity remain a mysterious vague feeling, a nagging discomfort without validation, a muted voice. There is no liberation without the right words.

Fiction

'... a familiar, but also ridiculous, paradigm of marriage, one in which we collude in the fiction that no one of the opposite sex ever draws our interest.'
Susan Dominus, writes for NYT Magazine on open marriages

the most intoxicating other

“so often the most intoxicating other that people discover in the affair is not a new partner; it’s a new self.” [Esther Perel]

quoted by Susan Dominus in NYT Magazine

Dating is wasted on the young and the single

"Dating... is wasted on the young and the single. A young person in his 20s, unformed, skittish, goes out into the world and tries to fall in love, a project complicated by the bulky defenses that allow him to undertake so risky a venture in the first place. Now imagine that same person, many years into a stable marriage, anchored. He is no longer a stranger to himself; he is more likely to have forgiveness for human frailty. He can — theoretically — retreat to the safe harbor of his marriage at any time. What would it be like to be entranced by someone new, without needing, simultaneously to lay claim?"
Susan Dominus, writing for NYT Magazine on open marriages

An Exploration of Non-Monogamy

NYT magazine's cover story this week is a very fascinating long-read on open marriages and non-monogamous couples. Monogamy has such a moral dominance in our lives that an earnest exploration of non-monogamy, such as this article, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. 
Below are some excerpts, which do not serve as a summary, but they struck me for various reasons, and which I'd like to preserve. I'll post some excerpts and quotes in independent posts as well.
* "Would you rather be asleep and have things fall apart? Or rather be alive and have things fall apart?"
* Most monogamous couples labor to avoid [jealousy] at all costs; but for the philosophically polyamorous, jealousy presents an opportunity to examine the insecurities that opening a relationships lays bare.
* It took decades for sex researchers to consider the possibility that women’s fabled low libido might be a symptom of monogamy.
* ... the deluded idea that your partner is knowable and entirely safe…

Invitation

"I cordially invite you to join me in contemplation of the infinite."
The Casual Vacancy, Episode #1.1

free affections and wide interests

"The happy man is the man who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures his happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they, in turn, make him an object of interest and affection to many others."
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Co-opt

One of the reasons why I like poetry, songs and literary fragments is that I can co-opt them; personalize them with my interpretations... I can take the beauty in their words and make it my own.

So tell me how long, love, before you go

Yesterday I watched a documentary The Bridge, an stirring account of people committing suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge over the course of a year. It was striking to see the ambivalence in family and friends as they struggled to make sense of an act that is paradoxically so comprehensible and incomprehensible at the same time. Some friends and family knew in their gut that something like this would happen but felt helpless to stop it.  As I was listening to the song Agape (Bear's Den) this morning, I suddenly realized -- influenced by the documentary, no doubt -- that it could very well be about a significant other who is afraid that the beloved will die by suicide at some point. For I'm so scared of losing you
And I don't know what I can do about it
About it
So tell me how long, love, before you go
And leave me here on my own
I know that I don't wanna know
Who I am without you

Gjallerhorn

'Odin gave Gjallerhorn to Heimdall, watchman of the gods. On the day the Gjallernhorn is blown, it will wake the gods, no matter where they are, no matter how deeply they sleep. Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn only once, at the end of all things, at Ragnarok.'
Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology

Just

"You just have to close your eyes and let the world die."

12 Monkeys, Episode 2.02

a touch of frost

'    Is it a touch of frost lies in the air?
Why are we haunted with a sense of loss?
We do not wish the pain back, or the heat;
And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.'

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Friendship After Love

strangers and friends

"She is a lifetime of strangers and friends"

Ben Abraham, She

Depths

"To allow the sunlight far into your depths, to have depths no one will ever visit."
Robert Wrigley, Being a Lake

10 Questions - A Snapshot of My Philosophical Leanings

About ten years ago, I posted a list of 10 questions on this blog, which I declared 'are of great interest to me, and which occupy a significant part of my thinking'. A list of questions that preoccupy me now would have significant differences, nonetheless, it's interesting for me to look at this old list, and think over how I approach these complex issues. I'll take a brief shot at each, outlining the direction in which I lean, deferring elaborations and arguments to the future.
1. What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of human existence?
There is a psychological question of what constitutes a subjectively meaningful life, and what are the factors that lead to it, and there is a philosophical question of whether there is an objective meaning or purpose to individual human existence. I think that any attempts along the lines of 'There is no objective meaning to our lives, but we create/decide the meaning of our lives for ourselves' to ground meaning …

Forgotten Blogs

Aati: "I'm actually glad to see you take this [blog] up again, because it felt like such a waste for it to be gone. A small defeat, the sort that goes unnoticed, like weary communists opening up businesses: cold hard reality encroaching upon our hopes and dreams. Forgotten blogs are what disappointment might look like. So I am glad. Gives me hope the dream still lives, waiting."

Kafka on the Shore

More fragments from Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore:
* "As long as there's such a thing as time, everybody's damaged in the end, changed into something else."
* [A prostitute quotes Bergson after giving a blowjob.] "... man that was good." "How good?" "Like there's no past or future anymore." "The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory."
* "... I have something I need to confess, too." ... "We're exchanging secrets, I see." "Mine isn't a secret. Just a theory."
* I have to understand it, accept it, before it's too late. But I still can't make out that delicate writing left on the shore of my consciousness. There's not enough time between one wave and the next.
* "A bit of shape and form has disappeared from the world, increasing the amount of nothingness."

Twitter, the chatter, and the they-self

There is something about Twitter that brings out feelings of existential angst in me in a manner and degree that no other social media platform does. I am painfully reminded of what Heidegger calls das Gerede, the endless chatter; it is a surrender to das Man, ‘the they-self'/'the they'; a socialized, superficial, inauthentic mode of being; the clamor of the multitudes. (Heidegger says that the chatter serves to distract and insulate us from the confrontation with das Nichts, the Nothing.)
I am embarrassingly aware that a lot of my offline and online social life would be considered das Gerede in pure Heideggerian terms. I am not trying to be broadly dismissive of twitter or social media in general. I know that many people, including myself, have found some measure of authenticity through these platforms, which was otherwise lacking in daily lives. There is also nothing inherent to Twitter than makes it more inauthentic than, say, Facebook or Instagram. Perhaps it has to d…

Art, Memory and Experience

Image
MoMA 41517
This is a collage made from details of various paintings and photographs that I came across during my visit to Museum of Modern Art today. I did not note down the names of these artworks and their respective artists, and while contextual information regarding these works is vanishing fast from my mind, the images remain vivid in my memories; the collage intends to capture this phenomenon. The experience of art that lingers in my mind is a de-contextualized experience of art; the details evoke associations, feelings and interpretations in me that likely have no proximity to the intentions of the artists. Disparate forms, separated in origin by decades and centuries, are enmeshed in my mind in a unique juxtaposition, creating a new holistic experience. Intimacy, politics, desire, symbolism, abstraction, all thrown in a blender... this is fodder for the unconscious, this is the stuff of dreams.

Wilderness

As I approach the beginning of the third decade of my life, I cannot help but acknowledge this yearning in me for 'a wilderness untamed by moralism, careerism and the strictures of conformism'. Not that I was ever a fan of the scripted life, but it feels like a tyrannous presence more than ever, and I am increasingly impatient of the 'the simple moral judgments of the uninitiated': "Cracks in the foundations of our life narratives can have the surprising effect of clearing space for unforeseeable developments. Like the seeds that sprout in toxic soil, or push up through slabs of oppressive concrete, re-emergence and reinvention become possible. Instead of playing out familiar plotlines, which would otherwise escort us all the way to the tomb, we can take over the screenplays of our lives, and we can begin to spin the most quixotic yarns, set in a wilderness untamed by moralism, careerism and the strictures of conformism. Although these types of crisis are typical…

the intrinsic quality of physical events

"the inferences that I can make as to the external causes of my experiences are only as to structure, not as to quality. The inferences that are warranted are those to be found in theoretical physics; they are abstract and mathematical and give no indication whatever as to the intrinsic character of physical objects.... we know nothing about the intrinsic quality of physical events except when these are mental events that we directly experience" (my emphasis)  Bertrand Russell, Mind and Matter

tangled beyond repair

"The title is a nonsense phrase, meaning tangled beyond repair. Our narrator (who, with his excellent intentions and total lack of initiative, recalls Nick Carraway) hears it for the first time on his honeymoon. He has pounced on his new wife, Anita, in their hotel room, but can’t untie the drawstring of her sari’s petticoat. It’s all knotted up — ghachar ghochar, she says, reaching for a word from her childhood, a word invented by her little brother to describe a snarled kite string. The narrator is thrilled by this intimacy, to be welcomed into her secret language. In the morning, he gestures at the disheveled bedsheets, their entwined legs: ghachar ghochar."
Parul Sehgal, writes about the novel Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag.

On Intimate Male-Female Friendships

In NYT Modern Love, Jennifer Boylan writes about how she experienced a change in her male friendships after she transitioned from a man to woman:
"I wondered if, among the male privileges I had surrendered in transition, a certain kind of romance-free intimacy with straight men was the first thing to go. From now on, even among the guys with whom I had been (and in some ways still was) closest, the not-too-far-off aroma of sexuality now hung in the air."
This reminds me of something I have been very mindful of in the recent years: vast majority of people struggle with the idea and actuality of intimate, opposite-gender (heterosexual) friendships, which are not primarily driven by sexual attraction. I am referring to individual friendships beyond workplace and group collegiality, displaying a closeness usually reserved for same-sex friendships. Such friendships are exceedingly rare... not because they cannot and do not exist, but because we sorely lack cultural and social nar…

Flourishing and Virtue

Emrys Westacott at 3QD
'The Greek term often translated as "happiness" is eudaimonia; but many scholars prefer to translate it as something like "flourishing.".... a human being who is not plagued by sickness, poverty, oppression, loneliness or misfortune, who freely cultivates and exercises their talents, and enjoys doing this as an active participant in a pleasant community, exemplifies human flourishing. One whose life falls short in various ways does not. 
[...] Today we tend to think of moral virtues solely as qualities that affect our interaction with, treatment of, and value for others: e.g. generosity, kindness, or courage. But the Greek term arete, which is often translated as "virtue," signifies, more broadly, any kind of excellence that enables a thing to perform its function. From this perspective, qualities such as, say, wisdom, curiosity, intellectual rigour, sensitivity to beauty, and discriminating aesthetic taste might be seen as mora…

a process of refining the truths

'An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.' (Adrienne Rich)
Before we can do so, there is another delicate, violent, terrifying process we must undertake, the process of refining the truths we can tell ourselves. The two processes are linked, not only because one requires the other, but also because sometimes they only way to tell a truth to oneself is by telling it to another.
The degree to which one can bear truth - without dying of thirst at sea - relates to the degree to which one can love another deeply and honestly.

The Procrustean Bed

"We fall in love not just with a person wholly external to us but with a fantasy of how that person can fill what is missing from our interior lives." Maria Popova at Brain Pickings
Love is a complex negotiation between a psychological fantasy and the external reality, between what we lack and what we have, what we imagine the desired can offer us and what the desired can actually offer us. It's the dilemma of Procrustes: there is a bed in our hearts, but no visitor ever fits it exactly. And many times we do exactly what Procrustes did; we terrorize the ones the we love, amputating or stretching to make them fit. The problem is most conspicuous when it comes to love, because that is where we are most stringent in our idealism, but it applies to relationships of all sorts.

actually constantly ending

“In the hazy light of forest fire smoke, I looked across at the refineries and thought that the world was actually constantly ending.”
Mount Eerie, Forest Fire
Nitsuh Abebe elaborates on this in NYT Magazine feature New Sentences:
"In this sentence, looking through the haze of a nearby forest fire, that entire push and pull is condensed into two very ordinary adverbs, set back to back in a way adverbs seldom are outside incredulous rants. For a moment, the world seems to be actually ending — as in, not for him, but for a whole planet, burning and collapsing around him. And it seems to be constantly ending. That notion feels, for a moment, surreal: You imagine a world that wakes up each morning and slogs back to work on its final catastrophe, always on fire but somehow never done burning. It is constantly ending but never actually ends."

thing-in-itself

"To paraphrase Arthur Schopenhauer’s succinct response to Kant: We can know the thing-in-itself because we are it."
Hedda Hassel Mørch

Dual-Aspect Monism

Hedda Hassel Mørch (writing for Nautilus) makes a case for dual-aspect monism, linking the hard problem of consciousness with the hard problem in physics.

Subtext

Subtext
Awais Aftab

since feeling is first
who only pays attention
to the text of things
will never wholly know us
alchemy is in the undertone
vaporous even to us
lost to the historians
of today and tomorrow

(co-opting lines from e. e. cummings)

Rug

"All the Dude ever wanted was his rug back... it really tied the room together."
I have finally seen The Big Lebowski, and I think I'll be quoting the Dude for a long time!

Song to Song

This beautiful review at Vogue, describing Song to Song as Anti-La La Land, drove me to see the film yesterday. One could easily mistake the film to be an ode to Rooney Mara's bare midriff, but I'm not complaining. 
"And here is the key difference—aside from tone and setting, of course—between La La Land and Song to Song. The former is about how much must be sacrificed in pursuit of big dreams; the latter is about what you might risk by overindulging in that pursuit. Not all dreams merit giving everything else up, and not every dreamer is a dreamer through and through. It helps that Malick never makes the case for either Faye’s or BV’s extraordinary talent—just for the magic, the gravitational pull of their young love. Some of us, Song to Song seems to suggest, were never destined to be Iggy Pop, or Flea, or Johnny Rotten, or Patti Smith (or, for that matter, Cook). Some of us might be happier with something simpler—something, say, like a lifetime of cavorting on hilltop…

Uniqueness

"Being in love—this subtle keen unforgettable sense of the other’s uniqueness." 
Susan Sontag, Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963

Epistemic Humility

"given who we are, how should we listen to others about oppression? If we are lucky enough to be privileged, then the answer is this: closely, carefully, and with the right amount of epistemic humility."
Grace Boey at 3QD

The Quiet World

The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel.
There is a certain asymmetry in the interaction: he carefully saves his words for her, but she doesn't. It is not stated, but there is a sense that this is a frequent occurrence. Even this is a romantic poem, and I think most readers interpret it in a more positive manner, I end up projecting a feeling of disappointment mixed in with the love.

April is the cruellest month

"April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain."
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Holding it's Breath

"... like a place that's holding its breath, hoping time won't stumble upon it."
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Quote

"... in everybody's life there's a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can't go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That's how we survive."
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Here I Am

"So here ich bin, unbalanced and delirious, here je suis,
                     tapping into some long forgotten intelligence —"

Sandra Simonds, 8. I Love Wine!

Tomorrow

"You're so quiet you're almost tomorrow."

Ocean Vuong, Into the Breach

Bad Poetry

I have written a lot of bad poetry over the years; I still do. The blog is a witness to that. Although I recognize the poems to be of relatively low literary value... they have been and are of therapeutic value for me. One may ask... why not keep them private then? I feel there is something emotionally different about a poem that is kept private (for instance, in a diary) versus a poem that is made public. Perhaps it has something with allowing the world to see one's vulnerability. The poems do not serve the same function for me if they are not shared. (Possibly, in some sense, this applies to my blogging in general as well.) I also feel an obligation to myself to become the best poet I have the potential to be. Even if at best I am still a shitty poet, it doesn't matter, because to aspire for the perfection of this art form holds some intrinsic value. So, I continue, not out of narcissism or some mistaken belief in my literary prowess. I persist because I crave a poetic exp…

Not Enough

"I'm a good officer. But in this world that's not enough. In this world, you have to be able to nod and smile and drink a pint, and say, 'How was your day?' In this world no one can be different or strange or damaged." 
River, #1.2

Nostalgia

"Nostalgia, to me, is not the emotion that follows a longing for something you lost, or for something you never had to begin with, or that never really existed at all. It’s not even, not really, the feeling that arises when you realize that you missed out on a chance to see something, to know someone, to be a part of some adventure or enterprise or milieu that will never come again. Nostalgia, most truly and most meaningfully, is the emotional experience—always momentary, always fragile—of having what you lost or never had, of seeing what you missed seeing, of meeting the people you missed knowing, of sipping coffee in the storied cafés that are now hot-yoga studios. It’s the feeling that overcomes you when some minor vanished beauty of the world is momentarily restored, whether summoned by art or by the accidental enchantment of a painted advertisement for Sen-Sen, say, or Bromo-Seltzer, hidden for decades, then suddenly revealed on a brick wall when a neighboring building is t…

Superposition

A quantum prayerfor our superposition:
may this wave functionnever collapse.

a little much for me

'The truth is I am a toy
That people enjoy
'Til all of the tricks don't work anymore
And then they are bored of me
I know that it's exciting
Running through the night, but
Every perfect summer's
Eating me alive until you're gone
Better on my own

They say, "You're a little much for me
You're a liability
You're a little much for me"'

Lorde, Liability

Monotheism and Dualism

Ember: Gosh, I cannot possibly think of infatuation as love. Too much like a drug. An obsession. A destructive force. And I can't view love as something that dissipates without rational reason. Love should be stable. Lead to happiness. And not make you feel as if you are going to crawl out of your skin secondary to inability to think of anything else. I cannot imagine love being so fleeting or unsettling... But I guess it's all just semantics.
Me: An analogy just came to my mind. So, you know, there are monotheistic religions - with all powerful, essentially good God (like Christianity) - and there are dualistic religions - in which they are good as well as evil divine forces (like Manichaeism). Believers who are monotheistic at heart cannot conceive of divinity as anything but good. It is not merely semantics for them: evil may exist in the form of Satan or devil, but it is not divine. Those who are dualistic, on the other hand, see no problem in ascribing evil to divine force…

Cocktail

"At that age, we all want to be loved, but we all hate ourselves too, and are full of self-doubt. We want love that is deep and will last forever, but we fall in love with people at the smallest of things. It's a conflicted vulnerability. We want love to be urgent, risky, impossible, soul-shattering, eternal, immediate, intuitive... like a flash of lightening, a minor miracle from the gods. It's beautiful and poetic, and like the rarest of elements in nature, extremely unstable. Despite its aspirations, it doesn't last. A beautiful cocktail of desire, set on fire, burning itself out."

The Infantilization of Movie Audiences

'At the time, I interviewed the siblings [the Wachowskis] for the Los Angeles Times, and Lana told me she saw the industry’s drive toward remakes as a sad byproduct of an anxious world. “Originality has inherent in it an uncertainty,” Lana said, in a part of the interview I didn’t end up using in that story. “[Movie audiences] went from hungering for that to being afraid of that, or suspicious of that. Now we crave, as an audience, the same story over and over. I think about, where have I seen that kind of audience before? Children. Children want the same bedtime story over and over and over. And if you change something in the middle they freak out and they’re like, ‘You skipped that part!,’ and that’s how audiences are with relationship to known stories right now. Children like it because it’s comforting, it makes you feel secure. And that’s what we want from movies right now, a sense of security, and original stories will never give you that.”'
Vanity Fair

Workings of the heart

"I'm the lonely voyager standing on deck, and she's the sea. The sky is a blanket of gray, merging with the gray sea off the horizon. It's hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart."
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Delayed Delta Connection, DTW to CLE

Delayed Delta Connection, DTW to CLE Awais Aftab
It has a weary, androgynous beauty tonight This yellow, jaundiced moon Hovering hazily with the clouds A little smudgy and inebriated, through the foggy window Struggling to find its balance Over the tightrope of horizon Afraid of falling down into a city of broken, ambivalent hearts A tinge of blood lingers in the West On this eve, I imagine Evens the gods are unsure of their place  in Existence

Inside Identity

Image

Instability

"It seemed to me that we ought occasionally to be reminded of instability beneath our feet."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

History

"History is the lies of the victors," I replied, a little too quickly. "Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Validation

"Courtship is, in part, about validation of the self. To woo is to seek corroboration, that I can be the subject of an aching admiration, that my flaws and weaknesses are not unredeemable but serve to make me human and endearing, that I am desirable and desired."

The Emperor

"Let be be finale of seem. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream."
Wallace Stevens, The Emperor of Ice Cream
It's one of those compact, beautiful, mysterious poems that you struggle to comprehend and yet it always stays with you and comes back to you at the oddest times. This poem was on my mind today as I roamed the streets of San Francisco, perhaps in response to recently learning about the intriguing story of Emperor Norton I.

Clear Edges & Mystery

"Margaret used to say that there were two sorts of women: those with clear edges to them, and those who implied mystery. And that this was the first thing a man sensed, and the first thing that attracted him, or not."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Rooftops

From the rooftops of my heart
My lungs will scream your name out
Into the darkness of the world

(My modification to Tyler Knott Gregson's original:
'And From these Rooftops
I'll Scream your Name From My Lungs
Bravely to the Dark.')

Invent

"Invent me a word
that can encompass this ache"

tyler knott gregson, haiku on love

Shape of You

'I'm in love with the shape of you.'
Ed Sheeran means it in a physical sense (inferring from the song context), but I would like to interpret it in a non-physical way, as referring to form of the psychological self. What a beautiful, poetic thing to say to someone.

Don't Want to Know

'I don't want to know who I am without you.'
(from the song Agape - Bose City Sets by Bear's Den)

It strikes me that there are at least two, closely related, ways of interpreting this sentence:

1) 'I don't want to know what sort of a person I'll become if we are no longer together.'

2) 'I don't want to continue on/embark on the journey of self-discovery if you are not by my side.'

Life Stories

Ember: Funny how life-stories sound so much more pathological when they are laid out sequentially. And how we rationalize everything. Writing it all down like that I am like 'crap, that looks pathological'. Internally though, it just was. And was the norm.
Me: I really dislike the word 'pathological' when it comes to our psychological lives. It may make sense as a metaphor (one of the arguments Szasz made) but that's really all it is. And what I dislike even more is what this word does to us, to our narratives of ourselves. Yes, we make mistakes, we have irrational fears and we are driven by insecurities, and we have difficulties being open and vulnerable, but that is the human condition. That is you, me, literally everyone out there, in various stages of trauma and healing and growth. Pathology is the deprivation and break-down of meaning; your life is anything but that.
You are right though... often when things remain just in our heads, they make a lot of sense, a…

Greatest Romances

"That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness."
Victor Lodato in NYT Modern Love

Poetry

I guess at this point in my life my metaphysical view of God is more poetry than it is either religion or philosophy.

Love Lost

"What is more beautiful, my love? Love lost or love found? Don't laugh at me, my love. I know it, I'm awkward and naive when it comes to love, and I ask questions straight out of a pop song. This doubt overwhelms me and undermines me, my love. To find... or to lose?
All around me, people don't stop yearning. Did they lose or did they find? I can't say. An orphan has no way of knowing. An orphan lacks a first love. The love for his mama and papa. That's the source of his awkwardness, his naiveté. You said to me, on that deserted beach in California, "you can touch my legs." But I didn't do it. There, my love, is love lost. That's why I've never stopped wondering, since that day: where have you been? Where you are now? And you, shining gleam of my misspent youth, did you lose or did you find? I don't know. And I will never know. I can't even remember your name, my love. And I don't have the answer. But this is how I like to ima…

A stitch near god

'A stitch near god, I chase
the Burger King crown
blowing down the empty early
morning's snowy street.'

Susan Firer, Repetition Works for the Moon

Things live long in the winds of poems

'Things live long in the winds of poems.'

Susan Firer, Repetition Works for the Moon

Valentine's Day

And what better way to celebrate than with an enunciation of romantic pessimism!
"Maturity doesn’t suggest we give up on crushes. Merely that we definitively give up on the founding romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of relationships and marriage has been based for the past 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can solve all our needs and satisfy our yearnings. We need to swap the Romantic view for the Tragic Awareness of Love, which states that every human can be guaranteed to frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us – and we will (without any malice) do the same to them....
The failure of one particular partner to be the ideal Other is not – we should always understand – an argument against them; it is by no means a sign that the relationship deserves to fail or be upgraded. We have all necessarily, without being damned, ended up with that figure of our nightmares, ‘the wrong person.’
Romantic pessimism simply takes it for granted that one person…

Healed

"We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full."

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Other People’s Husbands

'In a long-ago interview with Bill Moyers, Maya Angelou revealed her theory that most women marry other people’s husbands. She didn’t elaborate, but I immediately understood. Out of hopefulness, impatience, insecurity or for a thousand other reasons, we too often rush into relationships that are poor fits for us, robbing our partners and ourselves of more promising connections. It struck me as likely that those of us with disabilities are especially susceptible to this.
"I have finally married my own husband," Ms. Angelou went on to say.'
Ona Gritz, Love, Eventually in The New York Times

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Image

Intimacy

"One of the most beautiful photographs I know of is an image of a woman standing in the doorway of a barn, backlit in a sheer nightgown, peeing on the floorboards beneath her. It was taken in Danville, Virginia, in 1971, by the photographer Emmet Gowin, and the woman in question is his wife, Edith. The picture is so piercingly intimate that I find it difficult even to look at it...."
Chris Wiley, in The New Yorker

Since feeling is first

Since feeling is first
e. e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Bruised

"In the end I really thought I could just walk away from it, a little bruised, but no real harm done."

Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

Sadequain draws Camus

Image
Untitled (Meursault and Marie in the Sea), 1966

Untitled, (Meursault at the Window), 1966
More here.

La La Land

There is a certain joy in discovering words written by others that so aptly capture your own thoughts and reactions.
From NYT review:
'The difference between selling out and breaking through is not always clear, and “La La Land” is not so hypocritical as to pretend otherwise.'
'The real tension in “La La Land” is between ambition and love, and perhaps the most up-to-date thing about it is the way it explores that ancient conflict.... the drive for professional success is, for young people at the present time, both more realistic and more romantic than the pursuit of boy-meets-girl happily-ever-after. Love is contingent. Art is commitment.'
'[Chazelle] outdoes himself in the last 20 minutes of “La La Land,” and outdoes just about every other director of his generation, wrapping intense and delicate emotions in sheer, intoxicating cinematic bliss.'
From AV club review
'... Mia and Sebastian are drawn to each other’s respective passion. La La Land traces their …

Tiny Beautiful Things

Selected quotations from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed * "The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there's arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there." * "The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light." * "cultivate an understanding of a bunch of the other things that the best, sanest people on the planet know: that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we're all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountain top." * "The future has an ancient heart" (quoting Carlo Levi) …

The Useless Days

“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.” 
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
I had been wanting to post this quote on my blog for a long time, but I decided that I'll only do so after I had read the book. I just did, a few minutes ago.

All sketches wish to be real

"I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.


A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands."


Tomas Tranströmer, The Blue House

Annihilation

“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”
Bertrand Russell, What I Believe
Reading this 12-13 years ago or so is when I first realized Bertrand Russell was an atheist, and it had a tremendous emotional impact on me.
I believe that when I die I shall rot, but I am also inclined to believe that something will survive of my ego. Something devoid of my memories and personality, devoid of what identifies me as me in this current existence, but something of me nonetheless. I realize this statement by itself is likely only causes confusion rather than clarification, but I'll defer further explanation to the future. Despite these philosophical inclinations, I am not afraid of annihilation. I would be fine …

Gamble

I am scared by the realization that I don't really know if the things I am working for in my life at present would lead to my happiness down the road -- they are a good bet, given what I know at present, but a gamble nonetheless.

Success

“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

The Book of Ages

"Those who’ve read the Book of Ages never admit to it."

A wonderful review of the movie Arrival and Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life in The New York Review of Books.

Siren's Midnight Cry

"For what’s sure in a universe that dopplers
away like a siren’s midnight cry?"

Sarah Howe, Relativity (poem dedicated to Stephen Hawking)

for this

"— for this I have abandoned
All my other lives."

Robert Francis, Waxwings

I want to be cured

“And if all that is meaningless, I want to be cured
Of a craving for something I cannot find
And of the shame of never finding it.”

T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party

Parfit and Personal Identity

"... [Derek Parfit] is most famous for the view that personal identity – the conditions under which you continue to exist as you – does not, contrary to appearances, really matter. We are psychological bundles of memories, inclinations, intentions. In the future there will be bundles who will go by my name, who will share many of my memories, and act on some of my intentions. They will think they are me. At a certain point – my death – there will cease to be any such bundles, though there will be other bundles who remember me and perhaps even carry on some of my projects. From this perspective, the boundaries between ourselves and others begin to dissolve. So too, perhaps, does the horror of my death."
Amia Srinivasan,Remembering Derek Parfit

Sins of the Fathers

The children cannot be blamed for the sins of the fathers, but it would be a sin for the children to be oblivious or dismissive of moral burden of those nefarious deeds. I speak in a metaphorical sense, with regards to the history of medical and psychiatric tyranny.
Here is a wonderful and sobering article by Andrew Scull on the history of lobotomies and the horrendous treatment of the patient H.M. at the hands of medical professionals (a review of Dittrich's book).

Girls

I'm quite late to this, but I saw the first 3 episodes of Girls today.... all the characters are annoying as hell! The show has many virtues; I am not commenting on the greatness or quality of the show, just the fact that I'm not sure it resonates with me. It is interesting for me to wonder why I found it to be so annoying. Most shows have a few characters that can be irksome, but vexation appears to be a universal feature of the Girls universe. The characters in the show all appear to defy some professional or personal ethic that exists in my mind, and that I clearly value enough to be annoyed at its flagrant violation in a show that has clear intentions to satirize. 
I don't think that my annoyance with the characters is because of any patriarchal reasons. I think I am primarily irked by the depiction of character flaws such as self-absorbed narcissism and irresponsibility. Would I have found them less annoying and more comedic in a male character? I don't think so,…

Lush

"How lush the world is,
how full of things that don’t belong to me—"

Louise Glück, Vespers:Parousia

On Preserving Thoughts

“Writing down your thoughts is both necessary and harmful. It leads to eccentricity, narcissism, preserves what should be let go. On the other hand, these notes intensify the inner life, which, left unexpressed, slips through your fingers.”
Anna Kamieńska, In That Great River: A Notebook

Thoughts on this Blog

Continuing with the theme of introspection into my motivations, I feel it is important to clarify what this blog is about and what are my motivations for resuming blogging.
At times in the past I have tried to sell the blog as offering something to the readers; the effort was perhaps misplaced. It would be a mistake for me to pretend as if the blog offers material of great philosophical, literary or artistic merit to the reader; I don't think it does. I am no Marcus Aurelius and these are no Meditations. Even in cases where philosophical and literary musings are dished out, that has not been the primary point. I think the blog has always primarily been an avenue for me to process my own thoughts and emotions, to share things of beauty and art that have an influence on me, and to preserve a record of my intellectual development. I started this blog at a point in my life when I was lost and alone, desperately in need of a voice, and I return to it again for solace in a time of conf…

In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love lends itself well to re-watching. I saw it for the first time more than 4 years ago, and I had been wanting to return to it for a while, finally getting a chance today.
It's a wonderfully artistic exploration of love, infidelity, marriage, beauty, regret, time, moral restraint, society. Kar-wai is an expert in creating desired atmospheres and moods. Lights, colors, angles, music, attire (the unforgettable succession of gorgeous cheongsam dresses!) are adeptly used. It is a subtle expressionism that everything in the environment, from dresses to lightening to movement to music is utilized in creating an emotional resonance. The plot is cleverly minimal and ambiguous, opening it up to multiple interpretations, To a large extent, this ambiguity is not because of deliberate withholding of information, but rather an ambiguity that arises from all that can be, and is, left unsaid in a relationship. It reminds me of certain romantic experiences fr…

Grief

A grief that cannot be shared is a terrible loneliness.

End-of-Year Ruminations

Beginning around mid-December, I developed a growing sense of melancholy and fatigue. I suspect I was getting psychologically burnt-out following a few stressful months. This led to a period of prolonged introspection, and a couple of scattered realizations.
* There is a need for times of personal leisure and idleness. It would be mistaken to view leisure simply as time to recover to work again. It is not just a break from work in the service of productivity, but a goal in itself. It provides creative and emotional breathing space for the mind. The recreational artistic, literary and philosophical pursuits are among the things which make life worthwhile. I had forgotten this for a while, and I have suffered as a result. 
* I also became aware that my life had become too busy and I was taking on too many projects and responsibilities. I had to take a step back to ask myself why am I doing what I am doing, and what am I getting out of it. This introspection into my motivations led to a…

Beautiful Net

"The biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net, I'd catch only beautiful things."

The OA