Moving, moving, moving

August 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

I move, yet again.



in search of metaphors

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

[premise: the battle (or just my battle) between languages doesn’t show even an inkling of a truce, and i think that helps me inch a bit closer to the unlikely idea that i’d be vacillating as long as i live. so now the question moves from ‘how to end the battle’ to ‘how to make this less tiresome.’]

it’s a funny thing, this thing called language, and i’m afraid that i’ve become excessively aware of its presence. (hyper-awareness is only as bad as it is paralyzing.) the swiss linguist ferdinand de saussure mentions that one of the most puzzling things about the human faculty is the ability to constantly convert concepts into languages. one can only think through languages, meaning, our thoughts (or pre-thoughts) are only a glob of conceptual mass awaiting a kind of linguistic sculpting. “I think therefore I am” would sufficiently translate into “I speak, therefore I am.”

now, language is historical, social, cultural and all those descriptives people like derrida like to hurl at you. if language is so, then language is inherited, yes? if language gives formation to one’s thought (or better yet, gives birth to one’s thought), and if one’s thought is a representation of one’s identity, then, roughly speaking, language is one’s identity. then through a somewhat simple operation of logic, we can say we inherit our identity.

it’s not as disturbing as it can potentially sound, only because it would be ridiculous to assert otherwise. that is, it’s a difficult thing to argue that we are a-historical, a-cultural, a-social. but there is still an annoying remainder that’s more icky than reassuring, and it’s that we are not as distinct as we usually think we are. we think we speak things  that are original, fresh, and mind-blowing, but even we know we deceive ourselves. we know, especially  in the middle of the most impassioned vitriol against mundaneness, that it is probably only an echo of an echo. ignorance is not bliss in this case. it’s easy to blame society for producing cookie-cutter people, but tweak it a bit – don’t reverse it completely – and it would still make sense if we acknowledge that perhaps it’s because we don’t care much about the fact that we all speak in the same way.

then, the solution might start from active questioning. nothing more than just questioning whether or not what i say is actually my language.  if it isn’t, then we embark on finding a new way of speaking. to un-familiarize your commonplaces and engage in that strange domain called constant re-description. it’s really a search of a language that is mine, and maybe because we are all so distinct, we fail to ‘find’ but end up creating new ones. like metaphors. i love when richard rorty says that what marks people like nietzsche, nabokov, orwell as who they are now in history is their ability to create a new language, hence give birth to new thought. it’s a huge mandate, i know, but i’m convinced that it would be worth the pain.

for me, that is where art becomes relevant, because i feel like the bedrock of anything ‘art’ is and should be the very result of our need to re-describe. (somehow art being something about ‘expression’ never clicked with me, even though, when narrowly construed, it’s probably true). it’s a funny picture:  redescription somehow turns the notion of the self’s historicity from baggage to evolutionary, from enchainment to cooperation, from confinement to a kind of resourcefulness. (after all, the tools for redescription are going to be language in all its historical glory. )

we’re all collages anyway. won’t be a bad idea to take advantage of that.

Californian pallor

May 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Conversation that happened in my office at school:

girl sitting across me: you’re the one who studied in the states, yes?

me: yeap.

girl: where in the states?

me: california.

girl: no wonder you’re so dark.

me: (contrived laughter for buffering purposes.)

certain oblique tendencies

April 15, 2010 § 3 Comments

There is something so peculiar about our tendency to name things, to articulate things, to make non-linguistic things into linguistic concepts.  One of its peculiarities stems from the supposition that we might be allowing ourselves an overly liberal amount of error in articulating our state of being. We say that we feel or think such and such with an un-(or sub-)conscious premise that we may be absolutely wrong about what we ‘actually’ feel or think. (This is not to suggest that we tend to say we feel giddy when in fact we are solemn, but this has more to do with finding an exact point in varying degrees of something like ‘wellness.’) There is pretty much no way we can find out whether our articulation and the actual thing coincide, but we go ahead and fulfill our purposes as speaking beings, and we thoroughly enjoy doing it despite that huge possibility of error.

Then maybe it’s because the issue at hand is that there is no actual thing before it is said (either verbally or otherwise) as existent. If that is the case, even the idea of there being errors in the process of expressing one’s thoughts may not be relevant anymore. This is to say that speaking brings things into existence, and that there had been no such thing as a pre-existing, non-conceptualized analogue in the first place.  In other words, one feels what one says, one is what one says.

I don’t know about you, but that scares me.


February 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

As forceful as desires usually are, they change overtime. They wax and wane, crop up and leave, sometimes in forms of fetishism, sometimes as mere ‘leanings.’ And often times you’re so sure of this particular desire that you make it a habit of repeatedly admitting to its presence, embalming its otherwise variant longevity. After all, don’t we all like to say something along the lines of “I’m the kind of person who..” (A craving for any form of categorical clarity must be a common human condition, right?) In the process of insisting on a mode of existence through the mere utterance of a word, you enter into that murky area where you become someone before really becoming someone.

Solitude is like that for me. I’m sure I’ve started off with truly preferring solitude, back then not even aware of any of the weight the word holds for me now. It was simply a penchant for being left alone, a light-heartedness in being given some extra alone time during summer camp and brittle pleasure that was found in staying up all night while assuming the whole world was asleep. It is then that you conveniently categorize that you’re a solitary person. And the liturgy begins. I find myself chanting, either to myself or to an acquaintance, my fondness for solitude, ironically as if it is a badge of humanism.

My insistence on solitude has been so religious for so long that now, acute discernment seems to be far removed from the discussion. It is at this point where I drivel with confusion about the coexistence of both great anxiety and pleasure in being solitary. I don’ t know if I like it or not, if I should like it or not. I’m surprised that it’s even become a choice.

What is solitude any way but the compressed act of secretly comparing yourself to the other? Introspection seems like a gaze upon a version of the self that restlessly scuffles with the world and the other, but do you really get to gaze into any other version? Solitude is perhaps only parasitic (on the world, the other) at best. Isn’t it a mode of self-consciousness that stands only as a backfire against the perception of/interaction with the other? Is this why you hear about all these reclusive writers and poets who weren’t really recluses? Would this partially explain the annoying antinomy of angst/pleasure in being solitary? To put in a lumpish order of words, it seems as if one must be constantly surrounded in order to be left alone.

So I don’t know if I’m a solitary person as much as I enjoy intervals of solitude. And perhaps I should leave it at that from now on. Consistency lures me, but at the moment what seems more alluring is that little margin for chaos. This is not to say that chaos is what we’re working towards, but to say that we only start from places of the chaotic. Places where antinomies are norms. Perhaps future paradoxes will be less bothersome if I start with that supposition. (And it’ll prevent me from making futile pseudo-intellectual remarks trying to weave the two paradoxical poles.) That would give room for a tenacious charm of a blade of grass between the cobblestones.

picture 1

January 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

so eager.

a short babble on ‘the digital’

January 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

The iPad’s out. (Ugly name, right?) Sure, it looks cool, except that I can’t seem to escape the less attractive idea that it’s just a bloated iPhone.

The promo video is the first one in which it feels like it’s contriving. A lot of what iPad can do than what it is. The latest addition to the sleekness that is apple can’t seem to speak for itself. What does it matter to me, though, considering that the only Apple gadget at my disposal is a 2nd generation iPod that refuses to work. Even the gesture of trying to comment seems ludicrous. The only motivation that can possibly justify—not that I really need a justification—this new post is that i felt a messy ambivalence when watching the iPad promo. I can blame it on the John Zorn I was listening to beforehand, but that’s a sweep.

Apple really does make me wonder about the whole idea of tangibility. As attractive and desirable their products are, there seems to be a weird trade-off between what is felt with your hands and the digital semblance of that experience. I’m probably not saying Apple takes away a sense of materiality. If anything, apple products are more appealing precisely because it aims to hit the senses. (Isn’t that what good design always aims to do anyway?). What’s disturbing is precisely that; it does it so well without actually doing it. It makes everything as intuitive as possible that what is behind the screen disappears completely. The ‘great thing’ about the iPad seems to be that its proximity to the user. I mean, we all do think, at least in theory, that digital readers won’t possibly replace books because there’s that coffee-scented, coffee-stained rustle that cannot be recreated in any digital form. But Apple seems to say that it offers something ‘better’: all of the content that you need, but neatly and sleekly contained in a pad, all in your hands. The compensatory act seems.. uneven?

A purist is one thing that I’m not. If someone were to hand me an iPad right now, I’d be glad to use it.
But I can’t help but think that the trade-off may not be a satisfactory one. There is pleasure in getting paint all over your clothes and  traveling across the canvas, in getting your hands dirty in the darkroom. Photoshop can’t replicate that. (I wonder if our food culture will ever be digitized. I guess vitamin pills, although not digital, work like digital semblances, at least in concept.)

This post is as ambivalent as what I’m feeling.