Posts tagged ‘hope’

1 May, 2011

Partisan

One of the questions I do battle with frequently is “Why read? Why study literature?

My answers vary depending on the day from a deplorable ‘I don’t know, best keep going so I can find out‘ to the self-indulgent ‘Life is short, best do what you enjoy‘ to the slightly less navel-gazing notion that ‘It’s a useful lens to view the world through‘ to what is currently my best answer– ‘It reminds me that there is a world outside partisan beliefs. There is something universal, and you are a part of it.

It is disconcertingly easy to get ensnared by the us-versus-them mentality that’s everywhere. Sometimes as Americans we think we’re the special snowflakes who have more opinions and chosen-sides than others, but in reality I’m pretty sure partisanism is pandemic.

I’m not above being partisan, mind you, far from it. I am, however, conscious of three things: (1) that I am partisan, for deliberate, researched reasons; (2) the “other side” is rarely composed of morons– they, too, are thinking, researching people, who frequently are separated from me by their priorities and beliefs; (3) these “sides” are often artificial– they are gross simplifications, and very rarely does the world fit neatly into two or even three “sides” of thought or action.

The second realization is especially important. It is easy to pick sides, and even easier to denigrate the worth of the other side. It is essential that we resist the temptation to do so. So much of our world could be improved by respect for differing perspectives. So much could be improved just by moderating ourselves.

You don’t have to agree. You just have to strive to be respectful– something I fear is becoming a more and more distant, abstract concept in digital culture.

Though the second is arguably the most important point, I think the third is the one that gets the most frequently ignored– it’s too easy to fall into the mythos of us versus them, too easy to buy into the oversimplification. I believe that most people, myself included, have to actively fight partisan thinking in order to see around it at all.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ”

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

12 March, 2011

Memento Mori

I think I have at least alluded to the pathetic state of my memory– it’s one of the reasons why I write. I write to remember. My brain is very, very good at forgetting. It has relegated important conversations to the space of dreams, and sometimes erased them all together.

Strange things get burned into my grey matter– I remember learning about cavities in kindergarten, and clouds in first grade. I remember being outraged at my kindergarten graduation present (Barney cookie cutters), but none of the names of my classmates. I remember learning the meaning of the middle finger, but still know the name of my first grade crush only because I wrote it down in a Lisa Frank diary with a bubblegum-dispenser-shaped lock on it. Needless to say, I broke the lock years later and devoured the memories hidden there (and then promptly forgot most of them again.)

I often wonder if there is a logic to what we remember and forget, or if the resonance is too abstract for even us to understand why some things get dutifully filed away, while so much is lost.

What will I forget, in a year? In a month? In a day? How long will it take me to forget, for example, the color of your eyes, or the incident with the cell phone? The time(s) time stopped? How long before even these obscure references don’t ring true? I leave myself these breadcrumbs back to my memories, hoping (usually in vain) that years later I’ll know. I’ll remember what I felt so strongly, what shook me to my core, and what adventures I had. Or, at least, that’s what I hope.

“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you.” –

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

12 February, 2011

Alles Neu / All Is New

I burn my studio, snort the ashes like coke
I slay my goldfish, bury it in the yard
I blow up my digs, I let go everything I’ve got
My old life, tastes like a sloppy toast
Roast me a grand steak, Peter cooks finest meat now
I am the update, Peter Fox 1.1

I want to dance, celebrate, but my pond is too small
Grow me new chompers like a white shark
Waxed, doped, polished, brand-new teeth
I am euphoric, and have expensive plans
I buy me construction machinery, diggers and barrels and cranes
Jump at Berlin, press the siren
I build beautiful speaker-towers, bass stimulates your soul
I am the wrecking ball for the g-g-g-german scene

Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new
Hey, if you don’t like it, make it new
The world covered in dust, but I want to see where this is going
Climb the mountain of dirt, because on top the air is fresh
Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new

I’m fed up with my old stuff, let them rot in a sack
Throw my clothes away, and then I go naked shopping
I am completely renovated, chicks have something to stare at
Right as rain, well-toned, world champion in chess and boxing
From now on only concrete talk, give me a yes or no
No airy fairy, I stop with the old grimaces

Should I ever smoke weed again, I’m gonna hack an axe into my leg
I want to never lie again, I want to mean every sentence
My head bursts, everything has to change
I seek the button, meet the most powerful men
Force the land into luck, buy banks and broadcast stations
Everything goes nuts, shaky sheep and lambs
I look better than Bono, and am a common man
Ready to save the world, even if that’s maybe too much

Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new
Hey, if you don’t like it, make it new
The air here is all consumed, breathing is difficult
Bye bye I’ve got to get out of here, the walls are getting closer
The world covered in dust, but I want to see where this is going
Climb the mountain of dirt, because on top the air is fresh
Hey, every thing’s shiny, pretty new

Translation borrowed from Last FM’s Aroused Ninja.

 

The first time I heard this song I was really intimidated by its tone. The second time I followed the lyrics (I don’t speak more than a pathetic smattering of German, but there are enough random cognates and words like “gluck” and “alles” in the song, along with natural pauses, that I actually was able to follow line by line through the translation) and I feel like I got it.

I’ve been wondering for a while if lyrics matter. A lot of people ignore lyrics in songs, and I myself have a difficult time following lyrics the first, second, or even eighth time I listen to a song. It involves real effort on my part. I have to say, though, I think this song is a great example of a song whose lyrics matter incredibly. Without them, you watch, more or less, wondering “why are things exploding,” and realizing “Oh my god, the monkeys are following him!” With them, this is an anthem. It’s really something special, I think.

This song originally came to my attention through Goodmorning and Goodnight.

I could wax poetic/philosophical on the ramifications of everything being new, and the utter radical nature of the declaration, but not today. Or, at least, not right now.

2 February, 2011

Groundhog’s Day; Stubbornness

There are several blogs I read, for the sake of preventing my brain from turning to mush, for the sake of happiness, and for the sake of just blind indulgence.

The Worst Professor Ever has a brilliant observation or six about Groundhog’s Day (the movie). {x}

 

Sometimes things get hard. A lot of people live with regrets. I try not to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t– it mostly means that those regrets get compressed and tucked neatly into the back broom closet in my brain, waiting for the day when they are shafted, like remains of the dead, and forgotten for good. I am very good at forgetting. I am also very good at hiding. These are survival traits, pure and simple.

Hope is stubborn, though. Helplessly stubborn. Despite how many boxes and closets you put hope in, it worms through the cracks, back up to the forefront, like some bolded, triple-underlined, size-256 flashing neon sign behind your eyelids.

Hope is painful. It flies in the face of what we know is most likely true. It stares down fact and empirical observation and just snorts and giggles like it heard a hilarious fart joke. Hope is the death of a realist.

I wish I didn’t have hope; I have no reason to, and yet there it is– snorting and giggling, flashing in neon, despite my best efforts to remain firmly grounded.

Stupid people always dismiss as untrue anything that happens only seldom, or anything that their minds cannot readily grasp; yet when these things are carefully inquired into they are often found not only possible but probable.

Apuleius, The Golden Ass

 

Enjoy your days, friends. You don’t know how many of them you get, and hope is a terrifying buoy.