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Gadgets, Devices, and Other Things

For those of you who are reading this article due to the title’s implied content, I adore you!  That is exactly what I would have done and therefore I think it only fair to let you know that the “devices” of which I speak are our electronic devices: the iphone, our laptops, Kindles, and ipads, etc.  Perhaps if everyone were more inclined to use other types of …er, devices, we might be a little easier to get along with as a society!  In any case, I had an adventure today and I want to tell you about my observations and also kill two birds with one stone (that is a dreadful cliché).

I am currently working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and one of the weekly assignments is to take myself on an artist date.  Since I had a scheduled appointment to go out of town today, in an attempt to alleviate the mundane nature of the task at hand I decided to utilize the opportunity to scratch that item off of this week’s assignment by spending some self-structured time at Barnes and Noble and then treating myself to lunch at Pei Wei Asian Restaurant.  The day turned out to be an absolutely enjoyable adventure and I came away with some interesting thoughts about my fellow humans.  In addition, I had another opportunity to fine-tune my bad-ass chopstick skills!

I am a self-confessed people watcher and I usually approach this past-time circumstantially: I’m waiting somewhere for something.  Today, however, was different.  Today I deliberately set about the business of purposefully paying attention to sizes, shapes, and social habits of the humans at a very large and very quiet bookstore.  While sitting at a table at the in-house Starbucks, I had an excellent vantage point with which to conceal my people-observing mission.  I was immediately struck by the prevalence of hand-held devices; it appeared as though everyone had a cell in their hands and were either engaged in a conversation or looking at something on their screens.  In the meantime, the presence of others is visually apparent and the store is otherwise as quiet as a library.  Neither of these factors made a difference.  And it wasn’t overtly rude.  I had to ruminate over this newly accepted habit of socialization: a form of person-to-person contact in which we socialize with those on our devices but not with those in the same room.

Interestingly enough, I found this atmosphere strangely comforting…?  I began to realize that these people who didn’t even know me were allowing me to listen to snippets and phrases of their private conversations.  These bits of communication would not ordinarily capture my attention but it seemed as though these device-users were announcing their presence by conversing in a quiet bookstore.  This behavior and its consequent addition to the atmosphere of the store brought them acknowledgement but it also sent another message: I am not available for interaction.  It was like the opera Tommy: see me, feel me, touch me, [hear] me.  But please do not talk to me!  We can go places to be among others but we must bring our devices to avoid interaction!  “Alone” is the new social connection!

As for the reasons that I found this atmosphere so comforting, I can only fall back on my tendencies as an introvert.  To be in public always carries the risk of being approached to engage in conversation.  I would avoid these situations as much as possible unless I was psyched-up for a possible encounter.  Often, it would be very draining.  However, today was different; I was completely relaxed and at-ease!  I knew that these “others” were engrossed in their own little fishbowl worlds and that the likelihood of one of them intruding in on mine was minimal.  What a freedom!   The title of one of Bukowski’s tomes came instantly to mind: You Get So Alone Sometimes That It Just Makes Sense.

And it did. And it does.

(Did I mention that I was on my laptop?! )

so you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don’t do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your

heart your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your

typewriter

searching for words,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it for money or

fame,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don’t do it.

if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,

don’t do it.

if you’re trying to write like somebody

else,

forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of

you,

then wait patiently.

if it never does roar out of you,

do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife

or your girlfriend or your boyfriend

or your parents or to anybody at all,

you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,

don’t be like so many thousands of

people who call themselves writers,

don’t be dull and boring and

pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.

the libraries of the world have

yawned themselves to

sleep

over your kind.

don’t add to that.

don’t do it.

unless it comes out of

your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would

drive you to madness or

suicide or murder,

don’t do it.

unless the sun inside you is

burning your gut,

don’t do it.

when it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by

itself and it will keep on doing it

until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

 

* this always encourages me when I am feeling as if I don’t have what it takes or that I have nothing original or edifying to share because it often comes “bursting out of me” and “it comes unasked” and it is just like that…DWD

 

 

The Tangent

It’s so easy for me to go off on a tangent; it is in my nature to overdo everything that captures my attention.  This state of mind will prevail until I hit saturation or until I discover some flaw, or some disappointing detail about my current obsession.  Until that time, however, forget about it!  If you are anywhere close to my latitude and longitude, you are going to get an ear-full, or in this case, an eye-full.  I want to compare it to the revolutions of a hamster wheel but these tangents go somewhere; I consume the object of my affections until I have learned anything and everything about my subject.  This is not a futile undertaking and I am known to log some pretty impressive mileage!

Take for example the time that I became enamored with Oscar Wilde (truthfully, I still love him!).  Everything that entered into my little world was sifted through the sieve of Wildean philosophy.  You see, Oscar had a keen perspective on the laughably serious condition of humanity: he knew that we could never be what we wanted others to think that we were.  That insight, in and of itself, is an irony because in the attempt to fool others with our fictitious persona, the only one being fooled is ourselves.  Oscar knew that people rarely revealed their flaws and that fact alone was their greatest character deficiency.  At the same time, Wilde knew what it was like to be different and to embrace his unique characteristics by embracing them through his art and he prudently hid those which he knew society would never accept (his homosexuality).  The Portrait of Dorian Gray was a masterpiece of psychological insight into the temptations of life that keep us on edge, and therefore make us feel more alive, and at the same time slowly erode our innocence and purity which are the very things that make us truly beautiful.  Most would never dare to engage in the activities that our fantasy worlds encompass and for those who do, the consequences will reveal themselves in time.  There are no exceptions.

Another obsession I have saturated myself with is that of D.H. Lawrence.  I had to know everything about him.  What an inconspicuous-looking man to embody such a sensuous and passionately erotic nature!  I wanted to know what his life was like and how a young man from a relatively poor working class family became such a courageous and skillful narrator of erotica during the last breaths of the Victorian Era.  He obviously knew women and this knowledge appears to have been an instinctual, almost innate, frame of reference.  When reading Lawrence, I can feel my heart pounding and my hands shaking…I tingle in my girlie parts as he sets the stage for sex; the spark that is ignited from the combination of literary licentiousness and my imagination knows no bounds!  I love that Lawrence!

Lately, I have become enamored with Charles Bukowski (surprise, surprise!).  I can’t seem to get enough of his raw and edgy prose.  Bukowski challenges me to remove my high-heeled slippers and to take a walk across the path strewn with broken glass and to feel the pain and its consequent relief that defines so much of the human experience.  The pretensions of culture were a slow-death to Bukowski’s art and the temptation to suffocate pure and uncensored humanity with the addition of literary  mechanics and proper grammar were an insult.  Reading Buk, I experience the swirling and ceaseless meanderings of a littered mind that exists within the ugliness of the human experience.  And in its beauty.  Despite Bukowski’s vulgar and crass language (women are “cunts” and men are “cocksuckers”), he had no lack of female companionship and accumulated a loyal following of admirers and friends.  Ripping the chest open to reveal the heart that beats within is what Bukowski did best and my thirst will never be quenched!

So I live among these Walter Mitty paradigms of fantasy and as I dissect and digest the larger-than-life bits of humanity, the words of these authors pierce my mind and soul.  Within their uncompromising arrangements with life, I find my existence through each word and my validation through each emotion that is cajoled and caressed out of hiding.  Yes, I do go off on a tangent now and then and although I enjoy the trip, it’s always good to come home!

 

Seeking Bukowski in a Nicholas Sparks World

We live in a world that borders on idealism, false realism, and denial.  There is a growing market for bullshit polishers and I am sick of the plethora of political correctness pushers that are predominant in our current culture.  Hence the metaphors of Bukowski and Sparks.*  One speaks what we are truly thinking, what we wish we had the guts to say, the other speaks what we wish we were thinking because that does not conflict with the status quo.  The differences between the two are in-your-face: one can be compared to tenderly dressing a wound and applying antiseptic, along with the properly sized bandage, taking care the entire time to be considerate of the patient’s level of comfort and the alleviation of any fears that may be present; the other method, the Bukowski method, is like washing out a wound with peroxide, using Mercurochrome as the antiseptic, and to hell with the dressing!—both methods seem to achieve their intended purpose but the latter is faster,  more direct and more cost effective, and in addition, it is impossible to hide any infection.  When comparing both of these approaches to some of Life’s tougher situations, would you rather be told that if you try harder, do more, make yourself prettier, richer, etc., the world will eventually offer its rewards for you to claim? Or, would you rather have the awareness that the person lying next to you might someday leave you for someone younger, richer, and/or more better looking?  Or, even if you work your butt off, success may never arrive…?  Some willingly choose to bury their heads in the proverbial sands of oblivion, all the while convincing themselves that they will be the exception to the rule and besides, we have been spoon-fed the images of these types of fantasies all of our lives.

The land of Sparks is sagging flesh sustained by plastic surgery and slow death on life support.  On this terrain, belief in all kinds of nonsense is possible: happily ever after, the Golden Age of retirement, formulas for staying fit, young, and healthy, turn-key investments, blah, blah, blah.  The truth of the  matter is that these situations do exist, however, they are the exception rather than the rule and  when they don’t live up to the hype, all hell breaks loose because Life is unpredictable and we cannot foresee anything with a reasonable certainty.  There is nothing more miserable than to be going on about the business of life believing in bullshit, only to discover that it is far from ok and if only you had paid attention, trusted your gut, not been so trusting, etc., you wouldn’t have been blind-sighted by this betrayal and its inherent misery.

I say give me Bukowski, with his raw edginess and “rip-the-band-aid” realism, or give me a razor blade!  The land of Buk is like walking into blinding daylight after time spent in pitch darkness: it hurts, you can’t focus at first but eventually clarity is bestowed, and although the landscape is not perfectly groomed, the variety is refreshing and you at least know you are not in for any nasty surprises.  On this terrain, a four-wheeler might be needed but at least you are aware that one will be required.  And in the off-chance you might believe that Life is capable of throwing out more ugliness than you can handle, comfort will eventually arrive in the form of knowing that you have been equipped with the necessary supplies and the desire to survive.  Becoming willing to view Life in its riskiness and sometimes harsh reality is not for sissies, but to the extent that you are capable of comprehending the truths of the power of substance over form, you will succeed.  Perhaps your victory will not be what the culture considers achievement, but you will consider it so, and that is what makes Bukowskism so appealing.

So, what’s it going to be: the red pill…? or the blue pill…?  You decide.

 

* This is not intended to be a slam against the commercially successful Sparks, it is merely an instrument of comparison.

Sunday Musings

I woke up excited this morning because it was Sunday!  This is the day that I have devoted to posting on this blog whatever crazy, silly, reflective, or creative thoughts that come into my consciousness.  Today, I woke up thinking about why I love sex so much and why I am so preoccupied with the subject.  Besides the obvious benefits, what is it specifically that drives my thoughts and desires…?  Have I merely succumbed to the mammalian instinctual drive (even though I no longer pro-create) or is there something deeper to this sensual experience?

My thoughts were swirling on this topic while I was reading a piece written by Camus on the tendency to view busyness as a prerequisite of a full and productive life.  However, the activities with which we humans often routinely engage as a part of our daily lives, are often mindless; in other words, we travel through most of our day on auto-pilot.  In fact, the majority of hours that I spend as a “paid employee” are exactly that: automatic.  I cannot begin to count the days that I have looked at the clock in surprise because of the lateness of the hour (my job is very hectic at times) and how the time seemed to have “flown-by.”  Camus challenges this phenomenon by offering the perspective that we waste the majority of our preciously fleeting moments of life with this type of out-of-body activity.

So, what does this have to do with sex?  It is true that when I am anticipating an encounter, my mind is often not in the present moment but is instead thinking about the pleasures to come; while I am preparing my body and my specifically chosen garments, I am almost always thinking about the look of pleasure and anticipation upon his face.  I also think about how I want to set the stage for his first glimpse of me in order to further provoke our appetites.  However, once all of this has come to pass, I am fully, irretrievably, and unreservedly, in the present moment.  During sexual, sensual pleasures, I am fully in the dimensional space of that sensation, that activity, that excitement, and the enjoyment that I am bringing to my partner and myself.  I purposefully take note of each of my five senses and I deliberately involve each one in the experience; I am fully cognizant of being in a continuum where time does not exist and the outside world, for a time, has disappeared.  The glorious experience of sex is escapism in its most relevant function.  To lose myself in a timeless and weightless space of sensual delight, is for me the highest form of human expression which is not permitted to exist in any other dimension than that of the present.

Primitive Rhythms

I participated in the most unusual experience last night: I went out into the middle of the desert with a group of people and beat a drum to the setting sun.  The purity and humbleness of the Native American drums when combined with the sound of the aurora drums, was magical and time-travel mysterious.  Very soothing and sensual, I became aware of the rhythms and vibrations which helped my mind and body ease into a more primitive and relaxed state.   The setting sun positioned itself against the backdrop of purple desert mountains and it was as if I could feel the awareness of an old soul in union with a former dimension of raw naked life, amidst raw naked beauty.

I wasn’t certain what kind of humans participated in this weekly gathering, maybe some old hippies or New-Agers…?  I am willing to try anything once, so I came with some friends and an open mind; turns out that the people were completely average, no hippies or witches, and they gather once per week to release the stresses of modern life and to embrace the simplicity of the musical heart beating to the rhythms of nature.  In an age when everything has become so complicated, the unencumbered and raw sounds of beauty are most welcome.  I just might try it again…?

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