April 7th, 2005

Steam Escaping!

heavy clouds but no rain

a fistful of deep philosophical conversations in recent weeks have brought me back around to where i always find myself in the midst or aftermath of tumult - an examination of myself to the bone.

what i am, what i strive to be, what i want to be, and everything that lies in between. the truth, as i said earlier in the week, is a slimy thing. a grail almost. something always sought after and never attained. everything is shades of grey, and it is hard to contend with the greyscale pallete when you don't have greater purpose or any particular hope in life.

i have, at different stages in my life, supplemented different things in my world view to try and prop up the stool of purpose. spiritualism, dogmatic religion, existentialism, radical realism, love, hate, pessimism, optimism, violence, subjugation... the list goes on. all these props are so binary. i am a strong believer in the process of thesis>antithesis>synthesis. what i have never been able to strike upon is the dull melange of all these sharp outlooks needed to navigate the river.

there was a fight i had once, with my parents, when i was in 5th grade. it was the first time in my life my marks were ever anything but stellar. the reason was i realized i didn't have to put everything into my work to get by, i only had to do that to get aces. if i slacked, i could pull b's with ease. fortunately, or unfortunately, the teacher i had at the time noticed the change in me. what i was handing in as solid b work, she graded harshly, in an attempt to kindle some fear in me, and make me redouble my efforts. when i called her on the inequity of the red pen, she cited her knowledge of my potential as the reason for the lower grades, even though some of the things i was getting a c for, other people were close to an a with.

it frustrated me, to be judged against my potential. i determined to stay with it, to enjoy fucking off at class, and doing the minimum to get by. i managed to spread my social circle past one (a mean feat in a cliquey group of 16 private school kids), and was actually hanging out with a couple of the "cool kids", mostly because they sensed the change in me. i was no longer a nerd, i was someone who knew a lot, but didn't care about knowledge. i stopped questioning everything, and just took notes. i stopped making connections, and dealt with knowledge in concise little packets.

at the time, i was still very catholic, and the line that turned me around (as fed to me by my father) was that in not performing to my potential, i was actually committing a sin, maligning the gifts i was given by not using them to the fullest. it was a very personal blasphemy. i was to be a priest, after all.

i changed my ways. my grades came back up. the thin friendships i had just started cultivating evaporated, leaving me to my one (and best) friend of my youth. i sought forgiveness. i spent the entire next quarter at school saying three decades of the rosary after every test in a combination of thanks and attrition for what i have, and how close i cam to embracing the idea of squandering it. with my grades resecured, i never gave the matter much thought after that. looking back, i have never, before this week, realized how much this outlook has become ingrained in my personality, despite the justification for that mindset long ago having lost relevance.

i wonder, sometimes, what it would be to be ignorant - to not consider the world in a wider spectrum; to not contemplate the spiral of our species (downwards or otherwise). would beauty and horror have different definitions? would i sleep easier never questioning the things that i have thrown my faith behind? when i was at my parent's farm this weekend, there was a brief discussion of the pope's death, which had just happened before we got there. bill's wife was watching the proceedings on fox news. my father and i discussed the ramifications of the media farm, and how much confusion had been caused by the leaked misinformation in the itallian media. bill's wife was unshaken by all of it - her response?

"fox news never reported he was dead until he died."

significant insignificance. this woman believes whatever the talking box tells her when set to that channel. she does not question it, only reacts to it. maybe that is why she is a prodigious needle pointer, and i am a collector of odd bits of information - we use our idle cycles differently, because of how they fit into our world views.

hubris is the counterweight to the life of freeborn ignorance. i am constantly aware of how much i run at the mouth, and use my handle on words to twist an argument. there are times i admonish myself for it mid-process, and other times i don't even recognise it until it has already long passed. my proclivity for devil's advocacy is one of the outlets i use to keep my perspectives fluid. if i can defend a thing i hate as profoundly as i can defend something i believe in, then surely i cannot be locked into any one way of thinking.

the problem with being a fanatical devil's advocate, and losing the things you believe in, is that, ultimately, the arguments begin to turn on themselves. a word whirlpool, with all sorts of ideas, images, hopes and desires sucked into the current.

i do not think there is an istar buried at the eye of the maelstrom.

i do not have any answers, only questions. the answers to those lead only to more questions.

i wake up every day because of thesis>antithesis>synthesis. i don't know what step i am at at any given time on any given subject until i pick up the tread of a new revolution of the spokes. i refuse to stop at a breakpoint and call it "done". done is just another way of saying "i give up". there is never done.

the wheel weaves as the wheel wills. i don't know how much more patterning i can stomach without some answers that do not lead to more questions.
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