- Considerations of "Modern life"
- Creative writing
- Joie de vivre
- New York City
- The law
“Daisey’s fiction was predicated on the notion that China is essentially unknowable, that reporters never go to factory gates, that highways exit to nowhere.” – Evan Osnos
And that is the state of America’s xenophobia. It goes beyond a mea culpa that cripples any interactions with China. The most dangerous aspect of ignorance is the strength of the conviction. It’s a conviction that drove Daisey to contrive a story to corroborate his assumptions. The most disheartening aspect of the story is that so many of us fell for it. It’s like the moment in French class when I realized that Diderot’s Bougainville doesn’t tell us about any “real” exoticisms of the island people, but that it does tell everything about the distorted prejudices of the very French narrator.
I can’t help but draw a parallel between the Daisey story and Steven of “Seeking Asian Female” (or, Single Asian Females’ worst nightmare). Stereotypes do not waver in the face of actual interactions; however unsubstantiated those stereotypes end up being – it could always be written off as an exception. As if reality can always make concessions to fit a picture painted in broad strokes.
It is particularly disheartening, because this kind of noise and theatrics will almost always drown out sincere attempts at dialogue and truth seeking. The sources for that are out there, but Americans love propaganda more than any socialist do. You’d better believe that shit.
I’ve finally settled back into the routine, though I chose to abstain from shenanigans this weekend, which came as a surprise to even myself. During my last week in China, I had a major emo moment with Janelle [via bbm thankgod] re: my experiment with running away from humanity [ok, don’t take it literally, I’m not making a subversive comment on Chinese and Korean people and their exclusion from humanity.]. Yet after a handful of the requisite “I’ve missed you so and tell me all about your trips” mini reunions, I am looking for a break again. So I took the night off to write and watch “Up in the Air” for the 3rd time in as many months [yes, really]. The movie touches me in so many places; I don’t even know where to start.
I’ve been feeling uneasy all week, for a number of reasons, not all of which can be divulged here. But the mixture of jetlag and lingering cold is doing nothing for my insomniac tendencies. Tossing and turning until the wee hours of the morning makes me more neurotic than usual.
The thing is, I’m not sure what I need right now. I guess it’s just a weird time in life? I just paid my deposit for a seat at L-School, which means this blog may soon turn into a giant snoozefest. I had all these grand epiphanies when I was away – a combination of being on my own a lot and having too much time to think and being in a new place always makes me all introspective about where I am and shit [figuratively and literally]. Whenever I visit a city, I get all curious about history on a much more significant way than I would ever think about New York. I don’t ever think about the fact that I am in New York, like how I think about my place in this other city
So, maybe a brief recap?
I’m a champ at frontin’. Between me and my circle of bitchin’ friends, you’d think females have gotten past that pathetic thing called feelings, attachment, and hurtin’ [wanna check into the heartbreak hotel, sorry we’re closed]. Posing is an art, damn. Sometimes even I’m shocked when one of my friends starts a minor breakdown [except for JY, obvs, because let’s be serious, that act only fools fluffy haired music nerds who dangle their legs over the L train platform at Bedford Ave.]. Obviously, we also totally judge those girls who are constant MESSES over their emotional melodrama.
Is there a medium to this? Since I think both extremes are kinda taboo. How does one strike a balance between exploding with emotions left and right and burying all skeletons beneath a pristine cover of charm and wit?
I remember maybe four years ago, this dude that I was dating told me that he didn’t think I’d be phased by anything. Of course, at the time, I was all like, you damn skippy, son. You ain’t shit, now rub my belly. And then of course I was phased when we stopped talkin’ and whatnot. Actually, I was major upset; admitting this years later is the maturation of Jaezeezy.
Related to the last post on the banality of “getting to know someone”, the thing is, it’s at once
interesting exciting and banal. on the one hand, everything you say and ask feels like something that’s been done before, but then there’s this completely new person that changes the equation a bit. Still, I’ve done it often enough that I almost expect a certain set of answers from people. Contrary to personal beliefs, topical interests rarely vary from the standardized 20 something urbanite answers. And while these topical interests may forge a common language to begin a conversation, people absurdly try to assert it as some sort of identity fortification. No, just no. As much as someone tries to distinguish themselves with some zeitgeist musical/movie/whatever taste, all of it is generic. I mean, people’s taste interests me in a way; but at the same time, it’s utter ennui especially when people curate this persona of varied interests but there’s nothing underneath it. You know? I mean, what does it matter if you know all these indie bands that don’t exist yet if you are a boring bag of generic peas? Music taste per se does not make you interesting. Or maybe people get off on talking about topic interests, because that is the only scope they’re comfortable with. Maybe I just want to overshare.
I think I’m feeling a little jaded at the moment. My attitude can be at such polarity sometimes – for awhile I was a fiend for meeting new people; now everything is settling a bit and I almost have (rigid) expectations for how human relationships develop. Everyone knows exactly what game the other is playing. The strategic timing and content of texts. All of it bores me. It is especially disheartening when you still have to do that months into it, but such is the dynamic of the “non relationship”. Please, je suis fatiguee. All of that get in the way of having any sort of actual meaning, which, depending on who you are, could be preferable or not. It’s such a restless state of being – to move through life without some sort of anchor. It’s doable, and not really difficult or painful or anything negative, but it’s as much of a lull as some people would see in a relationship. Sidebar: why are non platonic opposite sex relationships so necessarily more complicated than regular friendships? Remove the sexual expectations, you are still trying to learn a new person, no? Or is the lack of interest in the latter the real complication? Feigning interest in order to hit it in the morning? Is that why I find dating extra banal? It reminds me of absurd theater. Everyone’s at it like it’s a rehearsal over and over again that after awhile it doesn’t even require thought. Where is the humanity in that? Everyone becomes a…role. Am I the only person who find it absurd that you can decide to bypass some serious requisites (in other human interactions), decency for example, in people you are doing the most with? This is perhaps why my heart can’t catch a boner. Whatever happened to the idea of the dating dance being an extended session of foreplay? I mean, really, dim lighting and awkward conversations, is anyone really ever aroused by that? Or do you have sex in lieu of having that? (I get the biology and physicality of it, but there’s got to be more, right?) There’s no dignity in it. At the same time, I understand you can’t force these things, so it’s just frustrating.
Is it wrong that I preempt endings with men way before anything happens? And I mean, I talked about this with a friend last week. This basically causes me to act like an asshole – when there is really no reason to – just in case.
But on the bright side there are the rare connection and mutual empathy that almost feel like physical weight; so much so that it’s perpetually present even when you’re alone. You know? It’s amazing.
MP: The process of a date, I think, is terrible. Horrible. Because everything is banal and predicted.
GQ: The problem with dates is that they’re programmed seduction—you have to show up and try to seduce the person. Right? And life isn’t like that. Life is about the accidental, unscheduled seduction.
MP: Seduction is a matter of feelings and people opening themselves. I don’t think it’s something tricky—it’s being human. And everybody is seduced by something different.
Tell me about dates and dating. Is it true what you read in magazines—that there is the thing you have to do on the first date and the thing you have to do on the second date, and then by the third date you can get—what do you say, carried over?
GQ: You mean, have sex? In New York, yes. That’s how it goes, usually.
MP: Yes? New York really must be terrible.
GQ: You know that show Sex and the City?
MP: Embarrassing! I was thinking New York is like that. I have the impression that the people are like that—the women, the bitchiness.
MP: Yes, of course. They don’t listen. With women, the more unhappy they are, the more undressed they are. This is true. Dignity’s another very important part of this. Sex and the City is the opposite of dignity. You have to have dignity for your body—this is with men and women. You need to have dignity towards how you are, how you dress, how you behave.
You know, the older I get, the more I prefer to talk to old people. Old people or kids, because what they say is more spontaneous.
via: The Essential Man from GQ
Excellent read via @zhcheekybastard. If you can look past the particular brand of French male gender perspective, there are some gems in there:
H. W. – ‘Love is always reciprocal’ said Lacan. Is this still true in the current context? What does that mean?
J.-A. M. – This sentence gets repeated over and over without being understood, or it gets understood the wrong way round. It doesn’t mean that it’s enough to love someone for him to love you back. That would be absurd. It means: ‘If I love you, it’s because you’re loveable. I’m the one that loves, but you’re also mixed up in this, because there’s something in you that makes me love you. It’s reciprocal because there’s a to and fro: the love I have for you is the return effect of the cause of love that you are for me. So, you’re implicated. My love for you isn’t just my affair, it’s yours too. My love says something about you that maybe you yourself don’t know.’ This doesn’t guarantee in the least that the love of one will be responded to by the love of the other: when that happens it’s always of the order of a miracle, it’s not calculable in advance.
There’s what Freud called Liebesbedingung, the condition for love, the cause of desire. It’s a particular trait – or a set of traits – that have a decisive function in a person for the choice of the loved one. This totally escapes the neurosciences, because it’s unique to each person, it’s down to their singular, intimate history.
No, between any man and any woman, nothing is written in advance, there’s no compass, no pre-established relationship. Their encounter isn’t programmed like it is between the spermatozoon and the ovum; it’s got nothing to do with our genes either. Men and women speak, they live in a world of discourse, that’s what’s decisive. The modalities of love are extremely sensitive to the surrounding culture. Each civilisation stands out for the way it structures the relation between the sexes. Now, it so happens that in the West, in our societies which are liberal, market and juridical, the ‘multiple’ is well on the way to dethroning the ‘one’. The ideal model of ‘great lifelong love’ is slowly losing ground faced with speed dating, speed loving, and a whole flotilla of alternative, successive, even simultaneous amorous scenarios.
Balzac said, ‘Any passion that isn’t eternal is hideous.’ But can the bond hold out for life within the register of passion? The more a man devotes himself to just one woman, the more she tends to take on a maternal signification for him: more sublime and untouchable than loved. Married homosexuals develop this cult of the woman best: Aragon sings his love for Elsa; as soon as she dies, it’s hello boys! And when a woman clings on to one man, she castrates him. So, the path is narrow. The best destiny of conjugal love is friendship, that’s essentially what Aristotle said.
Word to Aristotle.
Essentially, I was writing about the romantic temperament. Jim Willard is so overwhelmed by a first love affair that he finds all other lovers wanting. He can only live in the past, as he imagined the past, or in the future as he hopes it will be when he finds Bob again. He has no present. So whether the first love object is a boy or girl is not really all that important. The novel was not about the city so much as about the pillar of salt, the looking back that destroys. Nabokov handled this same theme with infinitely greater elegance in Lolita. But I was only twenty when I made my attempt, while he was half as old as time. Anyway, my story could only have had a disastrous ending. Obviously, killing Bob was a bit much even though the original narrative was carefully vague on that point. Did he or didn’t he kill him? Actually, what was being killed was the idea of perfect love that had existed only in the romantic’s mind. The other person—the beloved object—had forgotten all about it.
– Gore Vidal, Paris Review
I just read and reread this book, “Desolation” by Yasmina Reza, which could be my credo. If you want a deeper look at my disturbing psyche, feel free to pick it up and have a skim. (English versions are available.)
This post will have no common thread, which is the common thread to this blog as a whole. So, a microcosm for my life, perhaps.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote, and quickly privatized (which apparently does not bypass the cache of rss feeds and readers) a long post about assholes, which in my usage has a broad coverage of everyone from a douchebag, an imbecile with no common sense, to a malicious human with not an ounce of empathy. Well, I still feel the same way. People seem to manifest and iterate my peeves. What can I say? You make it hard for me to be a decent human being, which at the end makes me feel like an asshole (of the last and worst category). It is exhausting. I would like to be able to be indiscriminate when it comes to tolerance, but I lack the altruism. I can’t find it in my heart to have a more profound faith in humanity and overlook certain bs traits that proliferate in so many. Worst of all, the unaware and hypocritical.
Y’all annoy the last ounce of kindness out of me.
And I ask, how did you get to be 23+, but still more boring than the rocks I kick on the way to class?
I am bored with life right now. I mean, two days ago, I was so bored I made mac and cheese from a box. (Can you even?)
I don’t hate law school, I’m mostly ambivalent about it. There’s nothing intrinsically stirring about it to evoke anything other than apathy, ya know? I suppose this is how I’ll feel about my career for the next 40 years. And…I am kind of apathetic about that prospect, too. It’s a matter of fact. (AM I DEAD INSIDE? JK)
I also wish I could just have fun with any and every one or that I could be more of a people’s person. It doesn’t necessarily make me act like a giant ball of hostile bitchiness, really; just a lot of internal awkwardness, which thanks to my impeccably cool front, translates as cold hearted misanthropy.
Life might be a big misunderstanding. Sometimes I think about how much grief and heartache is caused by miscommunication and misguided speculations and I wish to go resolve everything with anyone I’ve ever known (ok, maybe not everyone). (For example, a couple of weeks ago, someone told me that I have intimacy issues. And well, while the statement bore no legitimacy and validity to the parties in that particular conversation, it’s not the first time I’ve heard it and I’ve also considered if anything I do give off that impression, especially, to people whose opinion I’d respect and care for.) Unfortunately, this society doesn’t appreciate that kind of directness and transparency, so we’ll continue being vaguely happy but “peaceful” with the occasional, dull aches.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally happy with my lot, chipper even. I just need some change! Obvious change, like punctuations! Yes, right now, I feel like I’m in the middle of a run on sentence which has no end in sight, no strong thesis, and is unnecessarily complicated (like any good run on sentence should be).
I don’t want anyone to hate me, either. I’m just as disappointed as you are about this (though probably for different reasons). I’ve come to have less specific expectations about people and relationships, not exactly lowering my standards, but still I face inevitable disappointment. There have been two instances where all my expectations or lack thereof were completely squashed and thrown out the window like the silly, meaningless, juvenile projections they were. This may be why these two continue to retain so much respect in my mind. The moment I realized that you will never come close to that was when I said, I value respect in a relationship and you said, it doesn’t matter how much you respect a horse, it’s still a horse. I still have no idea what that even means other than that there is a fundamental difference that cannot be reconciled.
So many dalliances are marked by pervasive indifference, at best there are rare moments of intrigue, that with enough optimism, effort to exaggerate, sometimes carry it and prolong mild interest. People disappoint in the dullest way possible, the kind of disappointment that doesn’t even move you, like oh, you’ve disappointed me so much to the core that I feel the need to reevaluate my perspective. No, it’s all, more or less, yes, of course, another utter failure of a disconnect. Of course, moving on.
A certain kind of arrogance is sexy, sometimes, in a kind of primal desire to conquer it way. but confidence, true confidence with a perpetual humbled drive to become even better…that’s real.
It’s one thing to be pretentious without noticing it, but this contrived pretentiousness that condescends the petty things. So pseudo. Ex. exaggerated disdain and condescension of kitsch without taking the time to appreciate it with any humor.
This idea of effortlessness…completely negated by outward, obvious expressions, that’s for the world. It’s…cheap. I mean, aren’t people the most intriguing when they’re unaware.
Subtleness that doesn’t require explanation kind of affords a natural privacy/intimacy between people who get it, maybe. It’s so good.
It’s interesting what people choose to tell other people.
I hate the idea of criticizing for the sake of distancing yourself from something that might otherwise be associated with you. It’s so trying, like, can’t you just be you? It annoys me when people constantly assert their “intelligence”.
I can’t explain how these subtleties are discernible, but they are. Not that one is better than the other, just preference I guess. (For whatever reason, Stuy kids just “get it” in some vague undescribable way. Don’t mean to be obnoxious.)
So many things are reaching, I don’t want to feel like I’m reaching.
I guess, I was reaching then, too. In a different way.
Aren’t people just a hypothetical in our lives, really?
It annoys me when I can see through people, but concerted opaqueness is frustrating as well.
People take themselves too seriously.
It’s such shit having this stupid point of reference. You’d think that considering how superficial I am, I’d be over it by now, seriously. I mean, I am. Completely. But, people just don’t get it.
“I read your column every Sunday when it comes out. I can’t wait for your book to come out” – Brown Sugar aka most quotable movie ever made. After Clueless.
BASICALLY, my faggotry in a nutshell. Yes. Defining.