(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I should probably start this out by saying that I'm already part of a suite in ***** (I'm in room ***) with two other guys, Dan and Kellen. They're a pair of pretty chill physics/computer science majors, though one is a little OCD and values cleanliness (Kellen). Since I'm the odd one out, I'm looking to find a roommate so I don't get stuck with some random dude.
It's also worth noting that one of my closest friends here at Western, Dani, is Kellen's girlfriend so if you room with me, you will see A LOT of her and her roommate Grace. We're a pretty tight bunch, but the majority of us are laughably outgoing and friendly (especially me and Dani), so please don't feel intimidated at all.
At heart, I'm a writer, a scribbler, a slave to pen on paper. When I can't sleep, it's because I have too many thoughts in my head and I have to put them down on paper. I'm queer as a sunflower in a cornfield and hope no one will hold it against me because there's too much hate in the world already. Study habits? Those pretty much come and go as they please because I was lucky enough in high school to be smart enough to not need them... and my freshmen year has proven that wasn't a good thing.
Until I open up to people, I tend to be fairly quiet, but give me a week and that goes out the door. I'm not a fiery personality by any means, and I pride myself in keeping my cool. If I'm quiet, all it means is that I'm thinking. It's kind of a zen thing, though I'm undeclared on the religious front. All that's important to me there is that I have faith. Don't know what in, but that's not the point.
I should warn you that I'm one of those people you hate who's all chipper and awake in the morning (without the aid of stimulants). But I try to keep quiet until everybody else is up, y'know, as a courtesy thing.
Since getting to Western this past Winter, I've found a passion for dancing, most notably through the school's salsa group (Ritmo Latino Dance forever!) and am probably the person least likely to be found just straight up walking anywhere.
I don't do MySpace, so here's my facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=*********
And look, I wrote a book for my profile. :)
I probably give away more information than is strictly necessary for something like this, but I also believe personally that in searching for and choosing someone you will be living with for however many months that a certain level of transparency is necessary. Why hold back if at some point you're going to have to cross that line of comfort anyways?
But who is this person written about so extensively above? It's me certainly, but at the same time, it's not me. It's a Golem representation of who I am under certain circumstances. It's yet another doppelganger of this internet creation. Were they to come to life, I think this monster would suffer a sense of forever being incomplete, and only by encompassing and existing in my place, and truly becoming me could they find that existence which is missing. And if I were to die some time in the near future, it would be all that's left of me.
Lewis Carroll had the right idea when he wrote Through The Looking-Glass. The mirror is a window into another world populated by a distinct kind of otherness that is both us and not us, where everything can be what it is and what it is not. Left is right, and everything is as familiar as it is not. But where his work takes on the realm of fancy and fantasy, the nanotexts we've been reading explore the possibility of this double world actually being a part of our world instead of a world apart.
In The Invention of Morel, the inventor, Morel, created a machine that essentially captured the reality of what happened on the island. Everything the fugitive saw of the people was but a recording of events that had happened in the past. And much like some of the beliefs about photography, they thought that in capturing themselves this way their souls as well were being captured. In this case, the alterity and the double are in the reproduction, in the creation of what was into a what isn't but seems like it is.
Ribofunk applies this doubling to the idea of genetics. When one Peter Rabbit runs away to join the underground resistance, you simply go and buy another one from the funky farm. He's exactly the same, and this time you know to program him with a little more loyalty, a little more obedience. But again, the reproduction of the double leaves you with something both more and less than the original.
Much like how in the Matrix, every passerby is a potential Agent Smith, in the Filth, every innocent bystander is a potential agent of the Hand. Greg Feely put it rather eloquently at the end of Chapter 11 when he said, "Parapersonas all of you. Don't you get it? There are places like this all over; the Hand can turn anyone into an officer, any time it has to." Here, the idea of double is less in the physical aspect as it is in the mental realm. Spartacus Hughes is the perfect example in that while he is killed twice throughout the duration of the Filth, he comes back in a new form, in a new body, the "human disease." In this case, the double is a reciprocal reproduction of those in the other sections. Rather than the body reproduced and the mental state different, it is the other way around.
In this digital age, we leave footprints and paper-trails every time we log on, every time we visit a website. I recently Google searched my most common username, Acelessthan3, and all of the 550 results were either me or a page that was in some way referencing me. Nanotext even showed up in the search results for mentioning my plurk account in one of his blog posts.
Everything we do is recorded and captured and cached. And I wonder: if we were to put enough of ourselves online, how much could we be recreated after we're gone? If we take each post and cached bit of information about ourselves: all the little profile pages, sordid postings and funny videos, like some giant, hodgepodge, jig-saw puzzle of self, and put them together in a brain program of sorts, would we ever be able to create a double close enough to mirror who we really are?
In Postsingularity, the nants essentially digitize the entire world as they slowly convert it to GreyGoo (not Grace). Everything is perfectly replicated in this digital simulacrum because everything down to the last DNA strand is absorbed into the "program." The nants' digitization works because they start by taking the source, the humanity and copying that exactly.
We saw in Ribofunk that this approach could work. It's just an extreme version of the interface cocoons used in the schools. Only instead of simply allowing you access, the cocoon literally absorbs you into the digital world you're visiting.
But what would it take to work this process in reverse? Take the double, the digitization, the e-doppelganger or doppelgangs and create a person from it. I don't think it can be done.
In Queen City Jazz, the main architect behind the Flower cities, Durancy attempted it. As his mother was dying, they digitized her mind in hopes that with the nan abilities and the power of the city, he could preserve and recreate her. The only problem though was that in the process of copying India's mind, something went wrong, and the copy was incomplete. So then, when her digital likeness was integrated into the city and became the Queen of the hive, it wasn't really her in power. It was the fragmented, isolated and childlike likeness of her that could not fully comprehend or adjust to what was happening.
And there's the rub. You just cannot create a perfect double that is the original. The closest it will ever be is like the original.
As similar to the profile I started with is to my personality, it does not showcase everything that is me. There are moments and memories and experiences that cannot be translated into the available media. Words, video, photographs, they're only pieces of me.
If you take all the chocolate chips out of a chocolate chip cookie, and then try to put the cookie part back together, it still won't be the chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate chips are missing. The part that makes the double imperfect, that makes it have alterity, that's the missing chocolate chips.
So while we almost constantly create new personas, new doubles that continue to exist long after we have abandoned or forgotten their login information or closed the account in this techno-heavy world, they continue to exist. Like we talked about the one day in class, we are more than just here in the sense of where our physical body exists. We are here in every place a double exists, be it of the mind like those on the net or on paper or in other people's memories, or in image as a mirror or a video.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
There's learning, and there's understanding. They're both kind of related, but I think the latter is by far more important. You can know everything about a person, but if you don't understand what that means and how it motivates them, then it's pointless. Or at least that's how I look at it.
But anyways, pen pals are fun. I've never really done the whole e-pen pal thing, just because I'm kind of old fashioned and like stamps, but I can totally identify with that feeling of connecting with someone on that level. When you take the time to write a letter or an e-mail, you actually have to sit down and think about what you're saying before you say it, or if you don't, you have the option of going back and changing it before you send. You just don't get that with IM and Twitter and the like.
I read an article a while ago *goes to find it* where scientists studied the brain and found that it takes longer for feelings of compassion and admiration to register in the brain than it does some of the less noble emotions. I see this as only helping my argument for the use of letter writing. When you go a week or a month (or for that matter even a few hours) between communications, you have a lot of time to reflect on what's been said to you and understand where it's coming from.
"Understanding leads to respect; respect leads to compassion; compassion leads to love for one another" - Tita Sicat, PhD
I'm always saying the world could use a little more compassion in it.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I'm fond of lists like this; summing myself up in a few silly words. They're incomplete snapshots of a life far more complex and simple than you can really see.
It's like vacation pictures. Everybody's smiling in the pictures, but what you didn't see was little Jimmy crying an hour earlier when he stepped on a bee, or Dad swearing because he couldn't figure how to put up the god damn tent. Selected memories that will eventually replace the reality with a fiction, a farce. Eventually the happy pictures become the memories.
I don't want to replace myself with a representation though and create a doppelganger of the mind. I want to leave people guessing. It's said that information is power, and if I don't always share everything about myself, then I will always be the one with the most power over myself. That said, it's probably pretty ironic that this is coming from someone who has no qualms turning a friendly stranger into a fast friend.
Sensations through connections. We say there are 6 senses (I'm counting balance here), but really, aren't they all a product of touch? The photons touch the cones and rods in our eyes which send electrical signals to our brains. The molecules touch the taste buds on our tongues and whatever scent receptors are in our noses. Soundwaves touch and vibrate our eardrums. Gravity pulls on the inner ear, sloshing little bags of water around so they squeeze hairs. It's all tactile. You can't always see it, but it's all touch.
And each touch, each moment, is the quick firing of a neuron/synapse to the brain.
Remember that catchy phrase I won’t worry my life away? For the first time in my life it’s manifested into something more than just a concept. Worry is what happens when we create meaning in a way that brings us down and it’s usually about an event that never really happens.
I quote this not just because it's from one of my favorite musical artists, rather because I think it wonderfully illustrates that this connection of touch works both ways. The mind is by no means a passive beast.
People look at the mind-body connection and are filled with images of esoteric meaning, but it's very much a real thing "scientifically" studied. They of course call it the placebo effect, but nomenclature has always been a matter of contention between science and the masses. Swine flue, anyone. Excuse me, I mean the H1N1 virus.
Which brings me back to my original point, your body is a temple. The distinction of whether it's a temple to the mundane or to the transcendent or anything for that matter, I'll leave up to you, but there's more to us than just the flesh and all of its associated filth.
We are the temples of our ideals, represented by words and actions. We decorate ourselves with jewelry and clothes and tattoos like the flags and flowers that go up when there is a festival.
We are the temples of ourselves, but should we celebrate? What reason do we have? Do we even need one? Rhetorical questions are stupid, more so when you don't have an answer.
I once did an activity where you were supposed to complete a sentence about yourself.
"I am... gay."
"I am... more afraid of coming across as a bad person than anything else, which is why I try so hard to be so compassionate and loving to the world."
"I am... a constant procrastinator."
"I am... actually a pretty bad student because I was smart enough to ace my way through high school without ever really needing to try."
But I think the best answer any of us could give is simply "I am." When you truly are yourself, everything else speaks for itself.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
When I read the book, Ender's Game, I inevitably think of the song White Flag. Of all the books I've read, this is one of the first ones where I really felt like I could connect with the character beyond the book. It's also one of the few where I've been able to read it more than once. Anyways, there's been a parallel in my mind between the protagonist Ender's life and the kind of never give up attitude Dido sings about in White Flag.
The song My World is forever linked in my mind to an incident that occurred my junior year of high school. As a member of what was essentially the Diversity Club at my school, together with a member of the GSA, I attended the 21st Annual RAP conference. I don't rightly remember what RAP stood for, but I'd hazard a guess at something along the lines of Reducing Adolescent Prejudice (Hey, I was right). Since there were only two of us attending, we bus-pooled with one of the other local high schools. Hand-picked by the vice principal, we were joined by I think it was 8 more students. I don't remember all but one's name. The only one I remember was this sophomore named Damien.
Anyways, we got to the conference at UW, and I remember that my school, because of our late registration and small size, didn't have our own folder. This has no bearing on the story at all, but it's one of those random bits of the experience that I remember, like in a dream, so I feel obligated to tell it. Like a game. So once we'd all settled down and gone to some of the seminars and workshops, we gathered for the keynote speaker.
My friend from the GSA, Kate and I sat together with the Puyallup HS students. And at one point Damien stood and walked down the row of seats. To get out into the aisle, he had to squeeze in front of Kate and I, so while he was squeezing, he stopped and shook his booty in front of Kate's face. Right at eye level. She was mortified. So, I *cough cough* took "matters" into my own hands so to speak.
Short version of this: I went to an anti-prejudice conference with some high schoolers and ended up groping one of them when he was shaking it in front of my friend. The funny thing is he didn't know it was me doing the groping.
Soon after this, I was listening to the radio when the MSI song came on. I think the association mostly began because of the lyric: "Everybody wants a piece of my ass." That and this song absolutely oozes a certain kind of cockiness. The exact kind of cockiness that would prompt someone to wave their ass in a girl's face. They're linked in my mind.
The point I think I'm trying to make with this post is to wonder, where does this link, this association come from?
In both cases I've described here, the song and event were not simultaneous, and yet in my mind they are inseparable. In general, I'm a more lyrically minded person, so I have to think that the words within the songs are what triggered these connections. Which brings me back to The Ticket That Exploded and Burroughs.
Words brought this to me. Words hold me here. But what of beyond that? A picture is worth a thousand words, so if I'm using the correct exchange rate, a picture is worth about 4 songs, give or take a chorus or two. What songs am I getting out of my life now?
The Filth strikes me as being grungy, with heavy, dark, metal sounds, but inspired with genius lyrics that will be constantly misinterpreted and ignored. The filth in me. In you. In us.
They're a macro/micro garbage squad "We're Garbagemen, Ned. We stop the world's back yard from stinking. How hard is that to understand?" It's more than that though. They are the agents of morality, policing the realms of decency, which in effect makes the Hand grim angels of a much darker god.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Think about it, we usually reserve hugs for the people we're closest to. But I look at the friends I'm closest to, Charlie, who calls my her second little brother, Dani, my name/brain twin, my friend Kirsten who I've known since the second grade and who I walked to the bus stop with through all of our high school experience or my family, and I realized, I don't really hug any of them. I mean, I hug them, yes, but not nearly as often as for example my friend Saylah.
I think it has something to do with proximity. I see Charlie and Dani (and when I'm home, my family) every day, if not more often. Hugs are for goodbyes and hellos. Hugs are to make you feel better. Hugs are for the guy with the sign standing in Red Square (or if that guy is me, dancing in the Nash Lounge area). For the most part, it's not an everyday activity we participate in, but hugs can become a more common experience in our lives. Just like murder or adultery or love or happiness can; you just have to be willing to make it happen.
But I'm rambling now. A sure sign I've lost my train of thought. Enjoy your weekend.
Monday, May 11, 2009
To be or not to be, that is the questioner;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind-boggler to suffer
The slinks and arroyos of outrageous forty-five,
Or to take ArmaLite against a sea-bank of troughs,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleeplessness to say weakness end
The hearter and the thracksat natural shockles
That flesh-hook is heir to — 'tis a consumptivity
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rubato,
For in that sleeplessness of death-hunter what dreamscapes may come,
When weakness have shuffled off this mortal coincidency,
Must give us pauxi. There's the respectiveness
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whipmans and Scorpænas of time-killer,
Th'opprobry's wrong, the proud managableness's conure,
The pangeometries of despised lovecop, the Lawford's deleatur,
The insolubleness of officeship, and the spurriers
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When headend himself might his quill make
With a bare bodying? who would farls bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary lifeful,
But that the dree of something after debit,
The undiscovered countryship from whose bourse
No travertine returns, puzzles the Williamite,
And makes us rather bear those i'llauns weakness have
Than fly to other-regards that weakness know not of?
Thus conscript does make cow-babies of us all,
And thus the native huffler of resolvent
Is sicklied o'er with the pale castaway of thousandweight,
And entheasm of great pitch and moment
With this regency their curry-combs turn awry,
And lose the name-drop of acton.
"So, what are we going to watch tonight?"
"Is that the one with Doctor Whatsisname?"
"No, it's called Doctor Who."
"Doctor Who's on first?"
"With Doctor Whatsisname?"
"But it's my house."
"And I want to watch the show with the Doctor."
"It's my house, Phil."
"Doctor Phil is not on."
"Then what's on first?"
"With Doctor Whatsisname?"
"Doctor House, yes."
"Are you trying to say ER?"
"ER starts at nine."
"Then what in God's name are we watching?"
"With Doctor Whatsisname?"
"No, that's Doctor Who."
"I like his sonic screwdriver."
"This isn't Home Improvement."
"No, it's House, see?"
I have no idea what inspired the above. Somehow I was looking up Doctor Who flair to send via Facebook to the friends I know would geek out over it, because, let's face it, it's an awesome show and David Tennant is kind of hot, when the word who made me think of the Abbott and Costello act I first heard in my AP Lit class in high school.
One thought led to another and suddenly I find myself trying to write my own version. I think this Shakespearean version is much more successful, but I made a valiant effort:
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I feel already that this post is going to be extremely stream of consciousness at points, but I'm okay with that. I think I originally had a plan as to what I was going to talk about, but then I got distracted and never got far enough to pick my train of thought back up. It was too heavy, I think because it was carrying several cars full of steel plates.
So anyways, I was browsing randomly online earlier and found some random posting on Facebook of a woman searching for a gay best friend. And the way her post was written made me wonder: why aren't there dating sites made specifically to match up the (stereotypical) perfect couple of straight women with gay men?
It would be incredibly simple, exactly like any other internet dating service, only minus the potential for nookie at the end of the night. You fill out a profile, answer some basic personality questions and using seemingly incomprehensible computer algorithms, get paired up with people of similar interests.
I admit that this would be a redundant, shameless, capitalist venture, as you can meet people through any existing dating or social networking service, but isn't that kind of the point in the first place? Starting something like this is all about exploiting people's basic need for love, attention and affection all in the interest of making a buck.
I don't think I approve, but the idea entertains me. If any of you make one, I'll sign up and use it... not that I have any trouble meeting straight women to be friends with, but y'know, support your friends and all.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
So starting back around February, my internet presence skyrocketed. This was partly due to the fact that I started talking to a very internet savvy, enthusiastic friend who introduced me to all these wonderful widgets and sites. To list off a few, I'm now on dailybooth.com, stickam.com, twitter (see feed at right), I actually use my YouTube account now; all in addition to the existing blog, facebook, emails, yahoo and plurk accounts that I had. I also picked up on some of the wonders that FireFox has to offer (seriously if you use FireFox, check out these last two links).
My favorite so far though is blip.fm. It's a site similar to twitter and plurk, only instead of simply sending an update, you search through their internet archives and select a song that will play. It can sync to your twitter account as well (I haven't yet been able to find a plurk link, darn) so your blips will be shared with more than just your listeners.
I like this. I like it a lot, because it's multimedia. As the site describes itself, you're essentially being an internet DJ for your friends. And while I'm sure there are better sites out there, with more reliable links, slightly larger databases and/or song titles actually spelled right more often, I'm more than happy to blip my way through life for now.
If you ever want to hear how I'm feeling, check out by profile, I'm DelightedDeliquescence.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Sakura, are my red robin of spring. I cannot rightly say like I feel summer approaching if I don't see the pink gracing the trees.
But why this picture?
What I liked about this image over all the other pictures of cherry trees I could have taken or found online, is what the wind has done. The delicate petals have been scattered among the roots, left to rot into the grass. But in the meantime, they blanket the area beneath the tree, making a soft, downy looking area that tapers away to the green grass beyond.
There's an event horizon of flower petals centered around the singularity of the tree. Do you see it? And at the center resides the sweet smell of spring.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Have you ever just looked up through the leaves as you passed beneath a tree?
Gradient greens abound in overlapping sheets.
Trapped in air-conditioned confines
So many videos I get antsy
Twitch and twitter and tweet
Internet distractions abound
IM interactions, blogging blessings
Browser A.D.D as I surf this superinfo highway
I watch out for web sharks lookin' to take a bite out of my
Seal shaped wireless card
Chomp chomp at my bandwidth #pataphor
We're a bunch of Granolas up here
Peace with myself
Love those around you
Unity can lead to compassion
Respect my property
or Karma will get you
Where these words are taking me.
I don't know.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Politics. Culture. Dogs.
We define ourselves, and yet we are also defined by the people around us. We are judged by and compared to those we choose to surround ourselves with.
And we are brought to a dividing line. Undefined. Where do we cross this amorphous representation of society? Perhaps, grey goo (I do not mean Grace) is a better way to describe it.
Ribofunk brings an interesting angle to the discussion, because it introduces a world where nanotechnology has enabled us to change and create our bodies to whatever we want. Imagine stores where you can custom order a fin or a tail or a carapace.
Thus then, our identities, our sense of self and how we portray that to the world is greatly enhanced. The kind of information you put on your Facebook/MySpace/etc. profiles can be shown literally on your profile, much like we often use fashion to represent our beliefs.
And further then, I think Ribofunk pushes us to look at this. Look at this definition of self and of identity and then look at what it means to be human.
How human is human? One part in ten? More than half? The splices, DeFilippo introduces, what rights do they have? At what point do we draw the line? More amorphous ambiguity: That gray area between the extremes.
And if they are not human, what are they? As neither one nor the other, they in effect are something else, something new. As far as I've seen, they defy expectations by exactly living up to them. They are designed, the ultimate accessory, not so much tailored and groomed as they are created for the express purpose of whatever they were designed to do.
So to take this back to the culture/politics debate, aren't we debating this right now in our society? What is humanity? What is a family? What rights do we accord certain peoples who are different than we are?
And the cultural aspect, what we each individually believe has increasingly become a political issue as we are forcing our elected leaders to agree or disagree and essentially choose a side in so many social issues. We now base many of our political decisions on what we believe socially.
As these worlds collide, we approach another kind of singularity. Not the one of technological expansion, but the one of convergence. Our lives are becoming more and more interrelated too each other and to ourselves.