(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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Filth

I have problems when I read Burroughs. There's something Filth-y about his writing that I can't quite wrap my mind around. Or perhaps it's Filth-y. Though I'll leave Jack to vomit all over the interspace about what that can me--

Lemme interrupt the flow of this and take over here for a minute. Take the chance to say my piece. Ace (or Danny if that's who you read this blog as) has done all this high talk about identity and existence. He's deconstructing nicely, but I think it's only fair for me to get my point in.

What comes after deconstruction? It would be reconstruction, right? But that implies we will end up with exactly what we started, doesn't it? It might be shiny and new, but it's still the same thing. We aren't taking things apart with this grand little thought experiment.

So far it's all absorption, schlup schlup. Take in these thoughts, take in these words and let them transform you. You've been infected. Thought is word. Word is virus. Virus seeks to take you, to become you, to replace you.

The "Other Half" is the word. The "Other Half" is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the "Other Half" a separate organism attached to your nervous system on an air of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common "hallucinations" of subjects during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject's body at an angle...yes quite an angle it is the "Other Half" worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting your sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.
-The Ticket That Exploded William S. Burroughs

Thoughts have no physical form. They do not exist in the sense that there is or is not a body we can attribute it to. We do anthropomorphize them, though, shaping them a body out of nothing.

I suppose then I'm much like a thought. I'm not really here. You can't really ever see me in that I don't exist in the traditional sense. On plurk, my profile pictures are all Bowie. But I'm still here and I know far more about what's going on even when I'm not here than you can expect. And you all interact with me.

And it is this, in part that gives me my identity and creates me. We could go on and talk about how I'm a product of Ace/Danny, how I'm this other unto them/him (I would argue that he's done a wonderful job of arguing all that on his own), but I'm something beyond that because of all of you. I have a relational identity independent of either of them. You don't think of them when you're talking to me. I'm on my own teme, doing my own thing.

Part of what makes an identity is not only how we shape ourselves, but how others shape us. You are your mother's child because she named you and gave you a reference to grow into. What's an identity but a kind of idea, a concept as it relates to a person or entity. Identities are contagious. Identities are fucking sick. And you can't get better. You can never get better and you cannot prevent it because there is no vaccine. There is only cessation. There is only the full-stop period that ends it.

But even then identities and ideas go on. They propagate and mutate and pass themselves on. The causation of evolutions lost in the minutiae of changes. And they're growing in power.

Right now, it is the network that keeps the cancer in line, but that's just because the cancer hasn't drawn the lines. It's the separator of control in these power dynamics because it gives direction. It focuses the light into the laser that cuts where the flashlight merely illuminates.


Um... okay. I guess this has been a word from theFool.

Monday, April 26, 2010

There's more to life than boiled noodles

So I happened to peruse a copy of the Western Front today and came across an article that actually made me think. Well, I guess it was more of an interview than a full on article.

Why is the knife so important?
The most important part of food preparation is cutting. It takes a long time, and a lot of people shy away from the kitchen and preparing their own food because cutting can be miserable. Many people don’t have a proper knife and they don’t know how to use it.

As someone who grew into the position of the family cook pretty early on, I know the value of being able to cook. It's a life skill and really is a whole lot cheaper and healthier than eating out all the time.

Seeing this interview with Hopkins made me smile and nod and then shake my head because it's true: So many college students don't know how to cook for themselves.

Over spring break I was staying at a friend's house because I had crew practice and in process of making a team dinner, I realized the house I was staying at did not have a proper chefs knife. They had a few other decent knives, but nothing made for chopping vegetables. Call me spoiled, call me picky, but that just wouldn't do, so I bought a knife when I was at the store getting ingredients.

What scares me most though is the people who don't know measurements. There's a big difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. About three times as much difference to be exact.

When you get down to it, cooking is easy. The recipe tells you everything you need to do in the order you need to do it with the amounts required. Barring a lack of familiarity with the tools of the trade (like how to use a knife), if you can read and follow directions, you can cook something semi-decent. It will only really get good when you learn enough to play with the recipes, altering them according to what's available and what you're actually looking to make.

I've often heard cooking compared to chemistry. I disagree. In cooking you can get messy. You can add things that aren't called for. You can sniff, taste and most importantly, use your hands if you're cooking for yourself and not worried too much about exact sanitary conditions.

Half the time I don't actually follow a recipe. I can usually figure out what I need just based on knowing what I'm making. After a while you gain knowledge of what goes with what based on taste alone. It's fun to explore, to test yourself and try making something new.

There's more to eating than boiled noodles.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Make Yourself Heard

I plan to vote in the AS Elections this week.

Not because I particularly believe in the process, as much as any decently educated college student, I consider myself pretty disillusioned with the democratic process, but the fact remains that expressing yourself and helping choose the people whose decisions will affect your education and college experience is vital to the process.

"The nation, the state defines identity."

My anthropology professor was talking about the cultural identity of a country, but the same principle applies very much to those smaller autonomous organizations of people we find ourselves a part of: school, work, clubs, sports. What is nationalism or patriotism but school pride on a grossly larger scale?

This is Viking Territory. Blue and white is about as common as, well anything the majority of us have in our closets and wear pretty much daily.

Your vote may not mean much to you. You're one voice among some 15 thousand here at Western. But last year only about 1700 actually voted in the AS elections.

If you're concerned about your voice being heard, then don't sit in silence. Say something, make some noise and then give it meaning.

I've heard complaints about the AS Board not representing the students, about them making campaign promises about being available to hear every student's voice. Quite frankly, that's impossible and a waste of time. There are 7 students representing several thousand they don't have the time in a month to exchange five minutes with even half. When it comes down to it, if the Board set up an event where they could interact with the student population, the people who would show up are the kinds of students who are already politically involved within the community.

The kind of people who aren't being represented are the ones who aren't representing themselves.

People like me, the ones who somehow seek out our representatives and know who's speaking on our behalf, we're connected to the process and as I've come to realize, it's not that hard. You learn faces, you learn names. Hello in passing soon turns into traveling conversations.

In the last few weeks I've gotten to know a good half of the candidates and while I'm not sure if I would go so far as to call more than one of them a good friend, they're all run by a passion that I think would make any one of them suitable for the respective positions they are each running for.

I don't know if any one is necessarily better than another, which is why I'm using this forum to endorse voting and not any particular candidates, but I trust that if, as college students, they're willing to put themselves through this process and take on that responsibility and live up to that trust, then they deserve my respect.

The rest of us need to hold them accountable though. If we want our voices heard, if we want them to represent us, then we need to make sure they're listening, which means we need to be saying something.

This doesn't mean talking to the Board or demanding that the Board regularly make themselves available to the student body. Though those are valuable options in their own way, they're impractical on the kind of scale necessary to represent everyone.

Instead, utilize the groups available to you. If you're part of a club and want something done, then see if the club shares your ideals. Treat yourselves like a lobbying group to light a fire under the issues you care about. Work within the system (or outside of it) to shine a light on the problems you see.

But before you do any of that, take the minute and a half it takes to log in to MyWestern and cast your vote.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Acelessthan3 Revisited (Part Two)

This is part two in a series that started with an explanation here and continued in a post a few weeks back.

A<3 at your service.

What a strange way to market myself. It started as a Facebook thing. Any time I would add someone from plurk on FB, I would leave it as a personal message in the friend request so it acted as a kind of digital signature, a communication between networks signifying who I was.

I thought nothing of it.

 But in the course of recent events (well, not so recent now, but recent enough that they're still fresh in my mind) with my classification as a "group mom" in this parasites sociality, I've realized that this is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's a deeply engrained part of who I am that I must find ways to serve, to show that I care by acting in the interests of others over those of myself. I wouldn't necessarily call this altruism by any means, because I gain something from this. Peace of mind, relief from my neurotic tendencies, etc.

 It's taking responsibility.

Early in The Gift of Death on heresy, Derrida remarks, "It keeps responsibility apart and in secret. And responsibility insists on what it is apart and kept secret."

I'm still a little lost with this text sometimes, but the fact that I'm drawn to it constantly in almost all my other readings (both for classes and not) shows it is affecting me. It's growing in me and changing the way I think. And in changing how I think, it changes how I act. I've been infected by something, thanks a lot Tony (no sarcasm intended).

"At your service," implies an uneven power relationship. In this declarative, it seems to say, "I'm putting myself below you." Service conjures images of manual labor and the service industry, and in the extremes, slavery.

But in choosing this, in owning it, it provides strength to overcome that power dichotomy. I do this because it is my will to, because it stems from me, not because you asked, wanted, needed it, but because I choose to provide it.

To choose this is to then make it a kind of Gift. And as such it is to take responsibility for it and remove it from that power dynamic.

Who is serving and who is offering the service? Or to put it another way, "Who is speaking through you?" It opens the door to responsibility. Who is responsible? Why are we responsible, because to make oneself responsible is a performative, not in the sense that it is a performative in how Austin does things with words, but in that responsibility is a performance.

Tony: What I want to get at is really this idea of the whole theatrical component of it.

Me: So the performance?

Tony: Yeah, right, the performance. Is it the case of "fake it till you make it?" But what happens when it goes horribly wrong? 

Me: Life is a performance, really. We're these minds parading around in these physicalities, in these bodies. As such, for things to go wrong represents the kind of unexpected intrusion, the interruption I'm talking about. To do it over, seems to me a mistake. 

To make oneself responsible is to put ourselves at the service of a higher power, be that God, the establishment or rules, and it is these higher powers, whatever they may be, that speak through us.

"If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give,
Taking is too easy, but that's the way it is. "

So responsibility is a performance. And? Knowing this alone does nothing unless and until we take the next step. In taking responsibility, we know, we change our perspective, we change how we think. We've set the stage and are rewriting the lines in the middle of rehearsal, and now it is time to act.

How do you play out events and how do you think other people set them up? To block memory and future into; "Well I was at college, I got out, I met person (x), I got married, I had kids, kids go to school, etc....", does that not set up your own stage? These are your acts. Act 1: Childhood: *Curtains* *Eating dirt and rolling in the mud, the audience is introduced to little Alex*. - Spacecrook

Information is the first step in living a conscious life, in living a life where we can apply these deep concepts of alterity and deconstruction to making a difference in our lives and in our world. Once informed, we can make a decision. Once we make a decision, we act. In order to defy authority, we must first recognize that it is there. Like Alex was talking about in class, we must be literate.

"Rhythm science is not so much a new language as a new way of pronouncing the ancient syntaxes that we inherit from history and evolution, a new way of enunciating the basic primal languages that slip through the fabric of rational thought and infect our psyche at another, deeper level. Could this be the way of healing? Taking elements of our own alienated consciousness and recombining them to create new languages from old (and in doing so reflect the chaotic, turbulent reality we call home), just might be a way of seeking to reconcile the damage rapid technological advances have wrought on our collective consciousness." - Rhythm Science, DJ Spooky pg 71

Later on the same page, he goes on to quote pianist Glenn Gould who said: "The most hopeful thing about this process - about the inevitable disregard for the identity factor in the creative situation - is that it will permit a climate in which biological data and chronological assumption can no longer be the cornerstone of for judgments about art as it relates to environment."

Alex (Spacecrook) got to this point rather quickly when he started asking me about social networking. "[G]oing back to the way you choose to present yourself on Facebook, plurk, etc.. are you like an actor pulled between two stages? Is one like the act and one like the interview? How does having two of them service the other?"

As he said, "Nothing happens, without someone writing it first." And by writing, we can say that before action must come the thought.

This is where I was trying to lead the conversation on Monday when I asked the Parasites what's the point in changing how we think and what it means to change our perspective and awareness of perspectives. To act consciously, to act in such a way that creates something or to put it another way, to act with intention, requires that we not limit ourselves to one perspective.

We have to understand the consequences and effects our actions would have. That is, we must have a conversation with the Other.

Tony - How would it be if you had all of the plurk ids write this or a similar paper? How would they be able to talk to each other? OR how wouldn't they? OR what I am getting at here is that what can happen is like playing chess against yourself.

There's a scene towards the end of Saga of the Swamp Thing volume 5 where he does just this. Stranded on some alien planet after his psychic bond to the earth is disrupted, he creates copies of himself and literally plays a game of chess.

Each one ended in a stalemate.

And so to have this conversation with the Other, the alterity of Self, we must think creatively or face the possibility of stalemate. And so I say again, I put A<3 at your service. But in doing so, I have also put this identity at my service as well.

I put myself "out there" and started a game of chess, or perhaps the better phrase is dialogue. I have opened the lines of communication and so invited the Other in. And there is madness, but not without merit. I'm learning and that is the greatest service I could give myself.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Of the Secret Identity

"Why did Superman consciously choose to disguise himself as the newspaper reporter, Clark Kent?... Superman, of all the great superheroes , is best positioned to defend or rescue anyone in his inner circle who might be threatened with harm of any kind. With super-senses and super-speed to go with his super-strength, he can track what's going on, get there, and deal with it like no one else. Perhaps part of the secrecy about this identity is meant just to cloak his background in mystery. After all, the less people know about him and his origin, the less access they can have to information that might be compromising to him, such as the fact that he's vulnerable to Kryptonite. Any less-than-omnipotent being has to be on the defensive, and part of any good defensive involves guarding information that might give an enemy an advantage. But I suspect there is even more going on than this.

Superman knows he is an alien. He feels like an alien. He is the ultimate outsider. But he has tasted enough of human life and the human condition to feel very attracted to it, and deeply drawn into it. Jonathan and Martha Kent were good and loving parents, and Clark grew up experiencing friendship, sadness, excitement, happiness, hope and all the normal emotions and relationships of a genuinely human life. At some level, it seems that he wants desperately to be human, or at least to know what it means to be human in the deepest, most intimate possible way. And he understands enough about human reactions to realize that this will not be feasible if he's perceived as being who he really is. He has to fit in. He can't stand out in the way that he would if the whole truth were known about him...

That's the difference the "other-ness" of celebrity can make... In the Bible, we are told that God the Son, a literally divine being, took on the form of a man, and the fullness of our condition, in order to experience what we experience, suffer what we suffer, and save us from the deepest consequences of our heedlessly selfish ways by transforming us, as one of us, and as more. But the New Testament is full of what theologians call "the messianic secret' -- the reluctance of Christ to reveal the fullness of what and who he really is until the people around him are ready to understand and accept it. These themes are reflected in various ways in many of the best Superman narratives over the decades. The greatest guardian, defender, and savior must be one of us, while also being more than us.

Superman doesn't aim to serve the world exactly as the alien Martian Man-Hunter might, or even as Alan Moore's Dr. Manhattan, in all his aloof other-ness, would. He doesn't want to be a nearly Aristotelian God, an unmoved mover of the world, isolated in his own autonomous independence. He craves an existential connection to us. He wants to serve us as really one of us. His secret identity as Clark Kent isn't just a normal superhero ploy, one more tool or weapon in the super-arsenal. It's a crucial part of a real quest to live the human adventure and guard humanity from within. And I can't help but believe that this desire is the result of the love he was given by his human parents, and even by some of his childhood friends. The transformative power of their total acceptance of him and commitment to him has elicited within him a desire to share mutual acceptance and commitment with more of the people of this world."

From The Secret of Secret Identities by Tom Morris in Superheroes and Philosophy an Open Court book, Chicago 2005

So what Morris here is saying is that for Supes to embody humanity and all that is good, he has to be an alien because only as an alien is Superman a source of the Other. But to turn this around, how do we create alterity for Superman? In that he is surrounded by us, we may not be the Intruder to his experience, but we are outside his alien origins.

"He [Patocka] speaks of a supreme being, of God as one who, holding me from within, in his hands and within his gaze, defines everything regarding me, and so rouses me to responsibility." - The Gift of Death by Jacques Derrida

Apply this thought to Superman and we see him in a new light. In placing himself above humanity, in this godlike position as a Super-man, he inspires humanity to be better. He is an example to which we aspire in his position as Superman, but he in turn is aspiring toward humanity, to live and experience a human existence. So we work to emulate this higher level of being that in turn is working to emulate us.

There's a paradox in that. There is a jump in desires in which we find that in reaching for the higher order, we are reaching for our own humanity. To emulate Superman is not to try to become Superman, but to reach the pinnacle of humanity that he has come to represent. We are reaching to become the best that we can be of ourselves.

In the realm of comics though, there is the potential for something other than the big blue boy scout, we find a dark underside that reflects this very same creation of identity from quite a different direction. And here I think of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.

Here we find part of the core storyline revolving around one creature's search for self. As we begin the series, we find that he does not know who or what he is any more than we do. He has the mind and memories of the deceased Alec Holland, but he is not and never was Holland, and this revelation shatters him and sends him to a dark swamp land that he can only return from once he accepts that he can live despite this.

It is in this acceptance of a Self that is not himself, or not the Self he thought he was, in accepting the alterity of his very existence, Swamp Thing grows. He becomes a power beyond anything he could have achieved in his existence as Alec Holland.

"It is from the perspective of death as the place of my irreplaceability, that is, of my singularity, that I feel called to responsibility. In this sense only a mortal can be responsible."

For all intents and purposes, the Swamp Thing and Superman are immortal, and so it would seem they counter Derrida's argument by being responsible. But they are not Gods. They face their immortality and invulnerability as mortals and sacrifice their lives in a greater sense. They cannot live as mere mortals. By their very existence on earth they must submit to Godhood and a place above and beyond humanity. The must accept the death of their mortality and so gain responsibility.

And it is this unasked for quality that makes them Heroes. They did not want this and would be far happier to live without this power that has been thrust upon them, but they accept it and (often times grudgingly) incorporate it into their being.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life is Wonderful

We live in a yin-yang world of binary dualisms. Up and down. Left and right. Forward back, and that's just the spatial directions.

Two forces always in opposition. Always at war, fighting for dominance in an eternal stalemate. They cannot exist in any other way. They cannot coexist in any other way.

One cannot exist without the Other, for to attempt such exclusion is to self-destruct. Down that path lies only madness and ultimately the kind of Death that not even Life can counter.

"You cannot create something from nothing." Ha! We stem from the great Void where nothing exists and ultimately to nothing return.

On the quantum level, the swirls and eddies of the subatomic layers of our universe are constantly creating spontaneous particle pairs that exist for moments, mere microseconds or less before they are inexorably drawn back together and annihilated.

And here we find something interesting. That old adage that opposites attract holds true in the physical world. The negatively charged electron is eternally drawn to the positive proton held in check only by the orbital path it takes. The sky above is just empty space without the land to lie upon in eternal embrace.

It's a power dynamic of the equal but opposite. Darkness and light. Good and evil. We like to characterize them, to make our side win, but the space in-between, the chaos that separates the Void from all the Things dictates that this cannot be. Entropy proves that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. We always lose before that with no beginning and no ending, the Ultimate that is its own Other.

We are like our particle pair counterparts taken from the nano-scale to the macro and then again once removed to the super-macro, made clumsy enough by our size that a Creator can intervene and hold us apart, setting us on those orbital paths so we circle each other. So that despite our attraction we're never quite able to touch and are therefore never able to deconstruct back into that random energy we stemmed from.

And it is in this that we can find wonder, that which we marvel at on the profound levels.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We're all tired. We're all fucking exhausted for our own various reasons, trying to balance this life. They're our passions and we give of them ourselves, shining brightly like so many hundred suns. Burning up. And at the end of the day we want to curl up, relax and recharge. We are hermits of the evening, reclusing to our studies and our internet lives. And this, this is the kind of forum where we seek release.

This blog. This blah-g. It's words. They cut: The weapons of this digital mechana. They're the bits. They're the bytes. A picture is worth a thousand words. Compounds and molecules in this chemistry of sound and form.

We bitch. We moan. We complain. We consume this built up reserve of negative energy. Destress. Decompress. Desensitize ourselves to the day that has ended. And it goes uninterrupted for as long as we want. But not here. Not today. Not in this post.

Today I offer myself. Today I make myself your sacrifice. Take this. Take this remnant energy and use it to purify yourself. Use me. Abuse me. Rip my heart out still beating and shower in my blood like some Aztec ceremony of old.

Suck me dry. Set me afire. Dig through me to find the prize inside. I can't promise I won't scream, that I won't squirm and struggle and look at you with pleading eyes. But don't you hesitate. Don’t you dare hold back.

This is not a gift. This is not a death. There is no responsibility in this.

Don't you see it?

It's right there in front of you.

This is life. Rebirth. Call down those literate rains and wash me clean. Suck me dry and make me immortal. Set me afire and face the phoenix risen. I am unbound, unfurled. I dance upon this grave we make for ourselves. Flapping in the winds of change?

Really, don't you see it?

It is the end. It is the beginning. The Omega and the Alpha. Ouroboros. It's painful because we are biting our own tail. Circle. Circle. But a circle is incomplete because it starts with C. It doesn't close the gap. Oval works better. Oval closes the line.

Do you see it? Do you see what I'm doing here? I'm talking about you. I'm talking about all of you. About me. About us. About this. The beginning and the end. It's a neverending story, and that means it's not going to be pretty. There is no happily ever after because the ever after never gets here.

So sometimes that pain, that change is necessary. There's no use yelling, screaming, succumbing to the insanity. Because we are strong. What does not kill us makes us stronger, and all that, right?

We're spinning our wheels. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! They have to be spinning in order for us to roll forward. History repeats itself.

I'm running on empty and so I give you everything I have left. You don't get a choice in the matter. You need it more than I do right now.

This is not an end for me. This is a beginning. Don't you see? They're one and the same.

I offer myself. I make myself your sacrifice. Use it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dine With Me

To eat with someone changes your experience of them. It fosters a level of intimacy that allows us to be comfortable such that we let our guard down upon future encounters. There are exceptions, people who are so paranoid/self-conscious about their eating habits that they cannot allow themselves to dine with others, but they're just that, exceptions. When you eat with someone, you get to know them in a way beyond just conversation alone.

To dine with someone gives us something intangible. To share food is a communion, which has the obvious religious overtones -- and here I would say Christian, but there is also the sense of religious in that communion can mean something more akin to the joining of minds or spirits, a comm(unal)union between two people.

It is for this reason that the traditional model of a "date" in Western society is dinner and a movie. Short of sleeping with someone or meeting their family, in the sense that dining is this kind of communion, it is probably one of the quickest and best ways to look for that connection, that spark of potential romance.

Food, it gives you a cause and a distraction.

How does it do this? In the example of Ashley, since having breakfast with her, our interactions have changed, but why?

It's like how sleeping over with someone changes things. There is no denying that sexuality changes the relationship, but even sharing a bed without sex still breeds that kind of familiarity. I've mentioned intimacy before and it very much applies in both cases.

To sleep with someone, to eat with someone makes us vulnerable. We expose our hidden habits and drop our guard. Being unprotected as such opens the channels of communication, not only verbally, but of the heart as well.

To return to a previous post, to share this communion with someone is to be willing to share silence, which is to test the relationship. It is to allow ourselves to give power to the silence and rather than using it, let it use us.

Because silence is in opposition to sound, and sound is us: we are sound, we are the creators and creations of sound, so silence then is the power of the Other. We are only truly silent when we are dead, when the beating of the heart stops.

Our science has always desired to monitor, measure, abstract, and castrate meaning, forgetting that life is full of noise and that death alone is silent: work noise, noise of man, and noise of beast. Noise bought, sold, or prohibited. Nothing essential happens in the absence of noise. - Attali Noise: The Political Economy of Music

*thump thump*

*thump thump*

In that respect then, Kacie's comment "silence=violence" is exceptionally true. To create silence is to end the sound. But there is also another kind of silence a gentler progression towards this end, which is why I'm very careful to say sound these last few paragraphs. It is the kind of silence of entropy and MAAR (the Mark All As Read feature on plurk) that is created by the contextual exclusion of sound and relegation to this place of noise. And I differentiate noise here by counting it as the sounds undeserving, the sounds that have lost their meaning and no longer warrant any attention.

These sounds that have become noise are silenced. They are the ignored and the habituated, the white noise that blends into the background, the black dot on the black paper. They are there. They have not gone away.

This is what happens in that communion. The sound is allowed to be relegated into that silent realm of noise so that we can draw our focus elsewhere. And the outcome is not always good.

Sometimes what we see and experience makes us uncomfortable. But is this a bad thing? Why must we be comfortable for things to work? Perhaps this is the test of communion. In Catholicism, communion as the Eucharist is the symbolic cannibalism of Jesus' flesh. At the Last Supper, he turned to his disciples and giving them bread, said, "This is my body." And giving them wine, said "This is my blood."

We dine with Him and dine on Him and so come to know Him. We take Him into our hearts and are one with god, the greatest source of Other there is. We internalize.

And perhaps this is why it means so much to eat with another, we find the God within each other. Let's test this. Dine with me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Awkward Sauce

"Well, that was awkward."

"Awkward sauce."

"And... cue awkward silence."

Awkward: 5. Ungraceful, ungainly in action or form; uncouth: a. of things, action, speech, etc.

It's not awkward. Awkward is what we've taken to calling that which makes us uncomfortable.

"I don't like talking to him, he's awkward."

Is he? Or is it your perception of him and the effect that he has on you that's "awkward?"

For the most part, I'm arguing about semantics. I'm arguing about the meaning of a single word and how its use or misuse can completely change how we interpret a thought (exactly the kind of stuff I imagine is going on in the 202 class).

So I adapted a new way of life about a year and a half ago. I decided that I wasn't going to "do awkward" anymore. Now, it has changed my life.

I thought I would share how this happened and what it means to not "do awkward." I have been getting a lot of skepticism and giggles at the concept. People seem to not understand what it means to rid myself of awkwardness. Well, I thought I would explain it. There are a few things that characterize awkward:

Something not being said
A misunderstanding

So how do I rid myself of awkwardness?

I've eliminated white lies. I just tell the truth no matter what. It always turns out better.
I say what's not being said. Its not awkward if you talk about it.
I clarify misunderstandings. I'll stop the conversation just to explain fully.

What have the benefits been from this:

I can be a much more genuine person. I never create stupid lies to cover up my tracks or make excuses. I can feel good and honest with those around me.

I become a role model for those around me. If I stand up and say what's not being said, it allows for others to do the same. It helps me be an Ally.

Conversations go much more smoothly.

I am happier.

I like people more.

I can be around anyone.

I've done it and you can too! You should try it out for a while. It helps a lot to say to yourself in awkward situations..."I don't do awkward." You'll be amazed how comfortable just thinking/saying that makes you.

-From a Facebook Note by former plurker and nanotexter Josh Foley

While I respect Josh's aim here, it's important to notice that he defines "awkward" and the situations that create it rather explicitly, but in general conversation when we describe something as awkward there's a much broader concept in mind. Awkward in that sense isn't simply the causal relationship between a kind of statement and reaction, but additionally the power we give that relation (in its ability to make us uncomfortable).

I asked the plurk world about why silence makes us uncomfortable and the conversation kind of turned into a discussion on awkwardness.

After bouncing some thoughts around for a bit, what I got out of this was the idea that awkwardness is based in power relations and silence and communication are networks through which we notice (or not notice) these power relations.

It was stated repeatedly that whether or not we become uncomfortable with silence is dependent upon the company we keep, i.e. the familiar makes us more comfortable with the silence which translates to less awkwardness and the converse of that as well. And we are comfortable because in this company there is no struggle in the power relation; it can be assumed that those issues have been worked out already.

So when we are in company where silence makes us uncomfortable, the power relations are not defined. We're on less steady ground because we do not know who has the power or control in that interaction. So we seek to fill the silence as a way of exerting control and demonstrating that we have some semblance of power, of authority.

But there is also power in silence. In our information driven society, knowledge is power and silence is a key way of withholding that knowledge. Secrets. And here I would probably make some kind of connection to Derrida and The Gift of Death, but I'm not that far into it.

We demonstrate that we have power, by expressing knowledge, by speaking. And so again, we kill the silence. We exclude the silence from our lives, replacing it with noise after noise after noise because the ones who can convince take power and to convince someone of something means you need to communicate with them.

After a point though, the sounds we use to break the silence become noise, they become meaningless. As I saw last quarter in reading Serres's Parasites, they cease to interrupt us and so lose their power. As was the case with Low for many members of the tooth-hurty class, you just kind of glaze over it.

Mentat said, "While the professor speaks we are to be silent and listen or raise our hands if we have something to say before we speak." What of when that is not the case? Well, that brings me now to class on Wednesday when Tony did his I'm-not-going-to-talk thing as the perfect example of how silence translates to power. What Tony effectively was trying to do was translate himself from a role as teacher (authority figure in the front, bringer of sounds) to that of noise (hiding in the background interrupting only as much as we pay attention to it).

Silence is striking and often more powerful of an interruption than noise in part because of its subtlety but also because of its in-your-face obviousness. Silence is always there and we take it for granted, so to bring attention to it makes it that much bigger.

"Intention does not disappear: it will have it's place, but from this place it will no longer be able to govern the entire scene and the entire system of utterances."--Derrida

But to notice it in this context is to immediately make us uncomfortable. Without that authority figure, without Tony telling us what to do and directly guiding the conversation, the class doesn't know who has the power or who has how much of the power. In this way, even silently, Tony is still able to control the class, despite not wanting to.

Here again, I must thank Mentat for wording things so well, because "silence creates a SPACE." And in our society, that space must be filled otherwise it feels wasted. So someone talks, someone breaks the silence so it doesn't feel "awkward" and we move along.

One last point that I think I'll try to save for a larger post later and so only introduce briefly here, but in relating sound and silence, we come to another binary system. As such, we also are faced with the Other. Silence is the great opposition. It is the absence that is always with us and so we cannot relate to it in the same way we do sound.

Questions, Comments, Concerns, Rebuttals?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Acelessthan3 Revisited (Part One)

I wrote once already about my existence as Acelessthan3 and later revisited this identity when I unveiled that I was thefoolofbubbles as well.

"Creating this identity allowed me to spin narratives on several fronts at the same time, and to produce persona as shareware." Rhythm Science - Paul D. Miller

But now I come to a kind of crossroads wherein it has become obvious that the lines of this identity are blurring. Among the parasites now, I respond to both Ace and Danny equally. My identities are blurring and overlapping and quite frankly, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

"I started DJ-ing as a conceptual art project, but as the Spooky persona took on a life of its own, I came to regard it as a social scripture coding a generative syntax for new languages of creativity." -RS

I started this pseudonym merely as a placeholder internet handle, but as the Ace persona took on a life of its own, I came to regard it as a social existence generative of its own interactions.

I've said before that Ace is not Danny and Danny is not Ace, but I don't think that necessarily holds true anymore. To make a metaphor, can we say that Superman is not Clark Kent? No. There is multiplexity in his existence, like Shrek's onion, there are layers. The layers are separate, but they are all the same onion.

In my third thought experiment, I started with an exposition on facets, but the onion or perhaps a Russian nesting doll make the more appropriate metaphor because it offers the possibility of containment. Unlike a cake, the layers are within each other and in developing these layers and creating that mulitplex relationship of self, we foster a transparency that allows these disparate identities to communicate amongst one another.

In other words, we open the door to the alterity of self.

I speak not about dissociative identity disorder, more commonly called multiple personality disorder or colloquially schizophrenia, but rather the complex and differentiated states of consciousness that in part we engender and develop based on the social and personal interactions and mental associations created as such. When I talk about "my" identity, am I talking about the "me" that is a rower and athlete? Am I talking about "me" the loud, boisterous dancer, constantly smiling and laughing? Or am I the quiet student typing away at his computer in the corner of the classroom?

It cannot be denied that me, "I" encompass all these identities but the cross-cutting influences between them, where they overlap, when someone else crosses that line and glimpses into a layer of what is "me" that they are not used to seeing effects that transparency between one layer and another. You remove one layer to find another underneath and there are an infinite number of layers underneath existing simultaneously on the same metaphorical level in the same metaphorical space.

"Stickers are like infinite multiples, small spots on a landscape that convey a brief message, a pun, an intent." - RS

All these stickers are the same sticker, but not the same physical sticker. The multiple, multiplex identity of a self is similar but in opposite. It is that oft quoted passage from Whitman's Song of Myself "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" Rather than the multitudes of one, they are the multitudes within one.

But in all this self-contradiction, there is chaos. When, in the course of DC comics history it came about that the proliferation of multiple alternate universes created a problem for the continuity of the DC Universe, they had to clean cup, reboot and solve the problem of the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In this plurkiverse where I exist as both Ace and Danny, however, I am also another. I am also thefoolofbubbles, or as has been the case recently, simply theFool.

There's something masturbatory about theFool's existence, something inherently dirty. Which makes sense if he is supposed to represent an id-like extension to balance Ace.

But there is another level here, another riding influence controlling theFool's identity. He has been adopted by others in the plurkiverse. They miss "him" when I as Danny neglect that account for too long.

To maintain it is a drain upon my personal reserves because I am playing a character that is not natural to my identity in the way I have made Ace. What I'm saying is that TheFool is Other and so to create and use him constantly is a fight and in fighting oneself there is only one loser.

And so I come to a Crisis of my own. Worlds are colliding.

"How does one give oneself death [se donner la mort]? How does one give it to oneself in the sense that putting oneself to death means dying while assuming responsibility for one's own death, committing suicide but also sacrificing oneself for another, dying for the other, thus perhaps giving one's life by giving oneself death, accepting the gift of death, such as Socrates, Christ, and others did in so many different ways."

This passage from Derrida's The Gift of Death made me think of nanotext who, admittedly, I hadn't really considered much since his death and replacement with the_author. But in as much as they both represent facets of Tony and his persona as a teacher, the question of death becomes relevant.

Within context of this passage though, there's also a level of control to that life and death. In "assuming responsibility for one's own death" and accepting that gift, you own it. It does not control you

Since I've been trying to read the collected graphic works of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore (The Invisible, Swamp Thing, etc), this just reminded me of Sandman as well.

All of Dream's actions throughout the majority of Neil Gaiman's run on the series, pushed him towards this inevitable action of dying at the end of The Kindly Ones. There is no direct line of causality that makes this decision, but it is not merely by chance either, which is why we cannot say it was a decision of Dream's to die so he could be replaced by Daniel. Which is why we cannot say it was a decision of Tony's to kill nanotext so he could be replaced by the_author, or at least not fully. But it was not an accident.

As has become a theme in the classes I've had with Tony, when faced with alterity, we are at first faced with a dichotomy of options. To truly face the Other, we either destroy it (the path that leads to death) or we accept it and integrate it and somehow finding ways to peacefully coincide with that which is not. And there is danger inherent in either option.

It is this dichotomy, this binary nature of dealing with the Other that pushes us to such extremes. We are so ingrained in this binary that in even trying to push our way out of it is to confront and create a new one. To connect to an idea proposed in my GLBT Lit class Fall quarter, it is one of the key problems of identity. In choosing to represent an identity we also deny the other possibilities. To escape the box, to come out of the closet, frees us from a confined set of rules, but also enters us into a new set. You come out of a closet and into a room.

So we escape the binary into another and perhaps the best way to avoid this is to instead shift, to move sideways in such a way that allows us to see what lies between, to see the line connecting the two polarized points. The spectrum is the connection.

So in creating this character of theFool, to express and free those inhibited thoughts, I find myself trapped in another box. Because theFool is not who I consider myself to be. TheFool is not who I want to be. Insofar as I can tell, it is this box of being my own Other that has troubled my mind so much and in part inspired this post.

But where do I find the line connecting him to Ace, or rather to "myself?" I can reject it, suicide theFool's plurk account, I can blindly accept it and let it go as it is now, which would essentially end Ace or I can try to find this elusive middle ground that bridges the gap and narrate a new story, creates a new context by which they can more or less peacefully coexist. I'm out of the closet, into the room, let's try to open a window (though not, I might add, for defenestration).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Could a lightsaber cut through Superman?

I was asked this question by my friend Ceph on formspring and thought it too good a question to condemn merely to that page.

So: Could a lightsaber cut through Superman?

If we assume that a lightsaber sufficiently emulates the currently accepted source of Superman's powers, the solar radiation given off by a yellow sun, then yes, under certain conditions, a lightsaber could cut through Superman. It just depends on the wavelength of light the lightsaber uses (what color it is).

A yellow lightsaber would be useless as it would too closely act like the rays of a yellow sun. In effect, a yellow lightsaber would be absorbed by Supreman's cells and converted into more power for the Man of Steel. If you were to take a red lightsaber like those commonly carried by Sith Lords, however, under these principles of solar similarity, it would then act much like the red sun of Krypton, Superman's home planet and render him powerless (though here I must emphasize that because of the nature of a lightsaber I think it would only render him powerless at the point of contact, so you would have to be extremely quick to finish cutting through him before he throws you off).

However based on a variety of other factors, it seems more likely that a lightsaber wouldn't be able to cut through Superman.

First, a lightsaber by nature is a close-range weapon not advisable to use against an opponent known for his super-strength, super-speed, super-hearing, heat-vision, etc. Unless he's sorely distracted or you're protected by some magical means (one of Supes' known weaknesses) he would see/hear you coming at him from at least a few miles away and take measure to prevent your attack far before you could even think of getting close enough to using that lightsaber.

Second, Superman has faced some pretty strong foes in his time, perhaps the greatest of which in pure power is the villain Darkseid.

If Superman is capable of withstanding direct blasts of Darkseid's Omega Effect in battle, I highly doubt a mere lightsaber would be able to touch Superman, let alone cut through him.

But in looking for the first image that I used above, I found an article on Howstuffworks.com (http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/superman-vs1.htm) that debated the merits of attempting to fight against the Last Son of Krypton, which I think goes into far more detail on other aspects of fighting Superman than I think this question requires as an answer. Feel free to check it out and give me your thoughts.