Saturday, March 25, 2017

"I'm a good officer. But in this world that's not enough. In this world, you have to be able to nod and smile and drink a pint, and say, 'How was your day?' In this world no one can be different or strange or damaged." 

River, #1.2

"Nostalgia, to me, is not the emotion that follows a longing for something you lost, or for something you never had to begin with, or that never really existed at all. It’s not even, not really, the feeling that arises when you realize that you missed out on a chance to see something, to know someone, to be a part of some adventure or enterprise or milieu that will never come again. Nostalgia, most truly and most meaningfully, is the emotional experience—always momentary, always fragile—of having what you lost or never had, of seeing what you missed seeing, of meeting the people you missed knowing, of sipping coffee in the storied cafés that are now hot-yoga studios. It’s the feeling that overcomes you when some minor vanished beauty of the world is momentarily restored, whether summoned by art or by the accidental enchantment of a painted advertisement for Sen-Sen, say, or Bromo-Seltzer, hidden for decades, then suddenly revealed on a brick wall when a neighboring building is torn down. In that moment, you are connected; you have placed a phone call directly into the past and heard an answering voice."

Michael Chabon at The New Yorker

Friday, March 24, 2017

A quantum prayer for our superposition:
may this wave function never collapse.

'The truth is I am a toy
That people enjoy
'Til all of the tricks don't work anymore
And then they are bored of me
I know that it's exciting
Running through the night, but
Every perfect summer's
Eating me alive until you're gone
Better on my own

They say, "You're a little much for me
You're a liability
You're a little much for me"'

Lorde, Liability

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ember: Gosh, I cannot possibly think of infatuation as love. Too much like a drug. An obsession. A destructive force. And I can't view love as something that dissipates without rational reason. Love should be stable. Lead to happiness. And not make you feel as if you are going to crawl out of your skin secondary to inability to think of anything else. I cannot imagine love being so fleeting or unsettling... But I guess it's all just semantics.

Me: An analogy just came to my mind. So, you know, there are monotheistic religions - with all powerful, essentially good God (like Christianity) - and there are dualistic religions - in which they are good as well as evil divine forces (like Manichaeism). Believers who are monotheistic at heart cannot conceive of divinity as anything but good. It is not merely semantics for them: evil may exist in the form of Satan or devil, but it is not divine. Those who are dualistic, on the other hand, see no problem in ascribing evil to divine forces. Perhaps an imperfect analogy, but you can consider me a dualist of sorts when it comes to the religion of love. Our hearts and minds feel what they feel. Feelings of all sorts exist on a wide spectrum, with all kinds of stability and durability and goodness and pain. Love can kind and gracious and perfect, but it can also be malicious and hurtful and flawed. It is as much a healing force as it is a destructive force.

Ember: Interesting. Both the analogy and the logical conclusion of destructive love. It's a Pandora's box, though: the wife-beater, who loves her, but just can't help himself. The wife loves him despite it. Are these destructive concepts love? Or love mixed in with personality flaws? I think the fear of the notion of love being sullied contributes to my monotheistic view, if you will.

"At that age, we all want to be loved, but we all hate ourselves too, and are full of self-doubt. We want love that is deep and will last forever, but we fall in love with people at the smallest of things. It's a conflicted vulnerability. We want love to be urgent, risky, impossible, soul-shattering, eternal, immediate, intuitive... like a flash of lightening, a minor miracle from the gods. It's beautiful and poetic, and like the rarest of elements in nature, extremely unstable. Despite its aspirations, it doesn't last. A beautiful cocktail of desire, set on fire, burning itself out."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

'At the time, I interviewed the siblings [the Wachowskis] for the Los Angeles Times, and Lana told me she saw the industry’s drive toward remakes as a sad byproduct of an anxious world. “Originality has inherent in it an uncertainty,” Lana said, in a part of the interview I didn’t end up using in that story. “[Movie audiences] went from hungering for that to being afraid of that, or suspicious of that. Now we crave, as an audience, the same story over and over. I think about, where have I seen that kind of audience before? Children. Children want the same bedtime story over and over and over. And if you change something in the middle they freak out and they’re like, ‘You skipped that part!,’ and that’s how audiences are with relationship to known stories right now. Children like it because it’s comforting, it makes you feel secure. And that’s what we want from movies right now, a sense of security, and original stories will never give you that.”'

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"I'm the lonely voyager standing on deck, and she's the sea. The sky is a blanket of gray, merging with the gray sea off the horizon. It's hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart."

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Delayed Delta Connection, DTW to CLE
Awais Aftab

It has a weary, androgynous beauty tonight
This yellow, jaundiced moon
Hovering hazily with the clouds
A little smudgy and inebriated, through the foggy window
Struggling to find its balance
Over the tightrope of horizon
Afraid of falling down into a city of broken, ambivalent hearts
A tinge of blood lingers in the West
On this eve, I imagine
Evens the gods are unsure of their place 
in Existence

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"It seemed to me that we ought occasionally to be reminded of instability beneath our feet."

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

"History is the lies of the victors," I replied, a little too quickly.
"Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated."

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
"Courtship is, in part, about validation of the self. To woo is to seek corroboration, that I can be the subject of an aching admiration, that my flaws and weaknesses are not unredeemable but serve to make me human and endearing, that I am desirable and desired."

"Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream."

Wallace Stevens, The Emperor of Ice Cream

It's one of those compact, beautiful, mysterious poems that you struggle to comprehend and yet it always stays with you and comes back to you at the oddest times. This poem was on my mind today as I roamed the streets of San Francisco, perhaps in response to recently learning about the intriguing story of Emperor Norton I.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

"Margaret used to say that there were two sorts of women: those with clear edges to them, and those who implied mystery. And that this was the first thing a man sensed, and the first thing that attracted him, or not."

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Sunday, March 5, 2017

From the rooftops of my heart
My lungs will scream your name out
Into the darkness of the world

(My modification to Tyler Knott Gregson's original:
'And From these Rooftops
I'll Scream your Name From My Lungs
Bravely to the Dark.')
"Invent me a word
that can encompass this ache"

tyler knott gregson, haiku on love

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

'I'm in love with the shape of you.'

Ed Sheeran means it in a physical sense (inferring from the song context), but I would like to interpret it in a non-physical way, as referring to form of the psychological self. What a beautiful, poetic thing to say to someone.

'I don't want to know who I am without you.'
(from the song Agape - Bose City Sets by Bear's Den)

It strikes me that there are at least two, closely related, ways of interpreting this sentence:

1) 'I don't want to know what sort of a person I'll become if we are no longer together.'

2) 'I don't want to continue on/embark on the journey of self-discovery if you are not by my side.'

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ember: Funny how life-stories sound so much more pathological when they are laid out sequentially. And how we rationalize everything. Writing it all down like that I am like 'crap, that looks pathological'. Internally though, it just was. And was the norm.

Me: I really dislike the word 'pathological' when it comes to our psychological lives. It may make sense as a metaphor (one of the arguments Szasz made) but that's really all it is. And what I dislike even more is what this word does to us, to our narratives of ourselves. Yes, we make mistakes, we have irrational fears and we are driven by insecurities, and we have difficulties being open and vulnerable, but that is the human condition. That is you, me, literally everyone out there, in various stages of trauma and healing and growth. Pathology is the deprivation and break-down of meaning; your life is anything but that.

You are right though... often when things remain just in our heads, they make a lot of sense, and only when we verbalize them or write them - when we give those vague, nebulous fears shape and form - that we realize how irrational or crazy it all sounds.

"That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness."

Victor Lodato in NYT Modern Love

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I guess at this point in my life my metaphysical view of God is more poetry than it is either religion or philosophy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"What is more beautiful, my love? Love lost or love found? Don't laugh at me, my love. I know it, I'm awkward and naive when it comes to love, and I ask questions straight out of a pop song. This doubt overwhelms me and undermines me, my love. To find... or to lose?

All around me, people don't stop yearning. Did they lose or did they find? I can't say. An orphan has no way of knowing. An orphan lacks a first love. The love for his mama and papa. That's the source of his awkwardness, his naiveté. You said to me, on that deserted beach in California, "you can touch my legs." But I didn't do it. There, my love, is love lost. That's why I've never stopped wondering, since that day: where have you been? Where you are now? And you, shining gleam of my misspent youth, did you lose or did you find? I don't know. And I will never know. I can't even remember your name, my love. And I don't have the answer. But this is how I like to imagine it, the answer. In the end, my love, we have no choice. We have to find."

Pope Pius XIII's love letter, The Young Pope

'A stitch near god, I chase
the Burger King crown
blowing down the empty early
morning's snowy street.'

Susan Firer, Repetition Works for the Moon

'Things live long in the winds of poems.'

Susan Firer, Repetition Works for the Moon

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And what better way to celebrate than with an enunciation of romantic pessimism!

"Maturity doesn’t suggest we give up on crushes. Merely that we definitively give up on the founding romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of relationships and marriage has been based for the past 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can solve all our needs and satisfy our yearnings. We need to swap the Romantic view for the Tragic Awareness of Love, which states that every human can be guaranteed to frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us – and we will (without any malice) do the same to them....

The failure of one particular partner to be the ideal Other is not – we should always understand – an argument against them; it is by no means a sign that the relationship deserves to fail or be upgraded. We have all necessarily, without being damned, ended up with that figure of our nightmares, ‘the wrong person.’

Romantic pessimism simply takes it for granted that one person should not be asked to be everything to another. With this truth accepted, we can look for ways to accommodate ourselves as gently and as kindly as we can to the awkward realities of life beside another fallen creature, for example, never feeling that we have to spend all of our time with them, being prepared for the disappointments of erotic life, not insisting on complete transparency, being ready to be maddened and to madden, making sure we are allowed to keep a vibrant independent social life and maintaining a clear-eyed refusal to act on sudden desires to run off with strangers on trains… A mature understanding of the madness of crushes turns out to be the best and perhaps the only solution to the tensions of long-term love."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

"We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full."

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

'In a long-ago interview with Bill Moyers, Maya Angelou revealed her theory that most women marry other people’s husbands. She didn’t elaborate, but I immediately understood. Out of hopefulness, impatience, insecurity or for a thousand other reasons, we too often rush into relationships that are poor fits for us, robbing our partners and ourselves of more promising connections. It struck me as likely that those of us with disabilities are especially susceptible to this.

"I have finally married my own husband," Ms. Angelou went on to say.'

Ona Gritz, Love, Eventually in The New York Times

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"One of the most beautiful photographs I know of is an image of a woman standing in the doorway of a barn, backlit in a sheer nightgown, peeing on the floorboards beneath her. It was taken in Danville, Virginia, in 1971, by the photographer Emmet Gowin, and the woman in question is his wife, Edith. The picture is so piercingly intimate that I find it difficult even to look at it...."

Since feeling is first
e. e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

"In the end I really thought I could just walk away from it, a little bruised, but no real harm done."

Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

Untitled (Meursault and Marie in the Sea), 1966

Untitled, (Meursault at the Window), 1966

Saturday, January 28, 2017

There is a certain joy in discovering words written by others that so aptly capture your own thoughts and reactions.

From NYT review:

'The difference between selling out and breaking through is not always clear, and “La La Land” is not so hypocritical as to pretend otherwise.'

'The real tension in “La La Land” is between ambition and love, and perhaps the most up-to-date thing about it is the way it explores that ancient conflict.... the drive for professional success is, for young people at the present time, both more realistic and more romantic than the pursuit of boy-meets-girl happily-ever-after. Love is contingent. Art is commitment.'

'[Chazelle] outdoes himself in the last 20 minutes of “La La Land,” and outdoes just about every other director of his generation, wrapping intense and delicate emotions in sheer, intoxicating cinematic bliss.'

From AV club review

'... Mia and Sebastian are drawn to each other’s respective passion. La La Land traces their salty-then-sweet courtship by season, watching as it evolves from mutual dislike to flirtatious antagonism to head-over-heels romance.'

'There are moments in La La Land where that Chazelle, the unapologetic grandstander, threatens to gain full control; a few of his big musical interludes, like one that spins around a swimming pool at breakneck speed, are more technically elaborate than transporting. But as much as the writer-director lives and breathes for the choreographed excess of Busby Berkeley and Vincente Minnelli, he never loses sight of the relatable dreamers at the center of his bravado set-pieces. The aforementioned pool-party scene eventually stops time to usher us into Mia’s emotional sphere.'

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Selected quotations from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
* "The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there's arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there."
* "The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light."
* "cultivate an understanding of a bunch of the other things that the best, sanest people on the planet know: that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we're all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountain top."
* "The future has an ancient heart" (quoting Carlo Levi)
* "an ethical and evolved life also entails telling the truth about oneself and living out that truth."
* "there will likely be no clarity, at least at the outset; there will only be the choice you make and the sure knowledge that either one will contain some loss."
* "after destiny has delivered what it delivers, we are responsible for our lives."
* "Be brave enough to break your own heart."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.” 

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

I had been wanting to post this quote on my blog for a long time, but I decided that I'll only do so after I had read the book. I just did, a few minutes ago.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands."

Tomas Tranströmer, The Blue House

Sunday, January 22, 2017

“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

Bertrand Russell, What I Believe

Reading this 12-13 years ago or so is when I first realized Bertrand Russell was an atheist, and it had a tremendous emotional impact on me.

I believe that when I die I shall rot, but I am also inclined to believe that something will survive of my ego. Something devoid of my memories and personality, devoid of what identifies me as me in this current existence, but something of me nonetheless. I realize this statement by itself is likely only causes confusion rather than clarification, but I'll defer further explanation to the future. Despite these philosophical inclinations, I am not afraid of annihilation. I would be fine with annihilation, if that is indeed our ultimate end. I aim to live my life as if it has intrinsic value, independent of what happens after death,

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I am scared by the realization that I don't really know if the things I am working for in my life at present would lead to my happiness down the road -- they are a good bet, given what I know at present, but a gamble nonetheless.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan


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