On Blogkeeping and Changes

The only change that doesn’t change is change. Duh.

I’ve been up to no good, as always when I’m up to something. In the unlikely scenario that you’re a professional stalker and stalk me proficiently, you would have noticed a few months ago that I went sort of off-the-grid. Not because it’s fashionable and the internet is full of it—see the irony? how can you report your off-grid experience when you’re off-the-grid, huh?—but because I woke up one day with the excellent idea to remove myself off of the face of the earth. (Is there any linguist or language user who would explain to me how to use off of? Or is it of off? Does it even make any sense, language-economy-wise?)

This time, I wasn’t thinking of a literal removal of my person from among the living—though it is indeed my favourite image to dwell upon—but a partial removal of my online persona from among the asocial people who socialise online. I’m kidding, as per usual. Or am I? In any case, in a rare moment of deployment of common sense, it occurred to me that since I’m not using the gazillion social media I senselessly subscribed to, I could just as well delete my accounts. Following this logic, I killed myself on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogloving, Vine (the latter was a step ahead and had killed itself before I did) and probably elsewhere I don’t even remember now.

waybackmachine
My blog in 2014 according to the WayBack Machine,  which is terribly wrong about the design

I only kept this blog—should you wonder whether I kept the blog that you’re currently reading, you know—and my Instagram, both of which I hardly use anyway, but anyway. My point is that if you happened to notice me having disappeared, it’s not you—neither is it me; it is what it is. (I understand that a point should be deep, hence the populist and Buddhist crap respectively.) My killing spree also affected the blog as I took down some images that I in retrospect evaluated as too revealing. Keep your pants on, I don’t mean revealing in the good way, as in nudes, but in the indifferent way, as in showing too much of my real-life person, as opposed to my blogging persona.

Please don’t refute this point by arguing that I don’t have a life, less so a real life. I’m aware of this fallacy. Also, no need to point out that once shit gets on the internet, shit gets real; in other words, once online, always online. I’m aware of that, too. My message here is that you may see some images on the blog that you can’t see. See? As in the classic rectangular outline with no content but a cross in it and a message that the image can’t be displayed. Duh. As to the thought of preserving my blog for posterity—though I don’t intend to multiply, so I won’t produce any posterity of my own—the WayBack Machine does this job. Even if poorly, as you can see in the snapshot of my blog from four years ago.

Advertisements

Zombies’ Night Out

People swarm and swell
And form a dumb mass
Of bodies to fill the train

Their vital signs are sound
Except—they are dead
And there are too many of them
In this hell hole of a train

Don’t they have somewhere else
To be—or un-be—these undead?

Like, I don’t know—
Home, for instance?

I’m open to
Tolerate
Respect
Embrace
And all this crap

It’s just that
I’d rather for zombies
To have their night out
In elsewhere.

Intimacy with Strangers

Elbow to elbow | Thigh to thigh
The guy on a packed bus | Sitting next to me
No | On top of me

He’s in my personal space | I’m in his
Hardly humans, more pigs | In slaughterhouse no. five

Thrown together by chance | Forced to intimacy
With strangers | We are

He’s on the phone | So am I
He doesn’t know | I’m watching
With a keen eye | and writing about
Him and me being here | now

I Am Where I Was Meant to Be

I don’t even know what the title of the post means (but I can’t be bothered figuring out a more meaningful one). What is it, to be where you’re meant to be? Who does the meaning? I don’t know. I know who doesn’t do the meaning though: me. (Also, god, because I’m godless and faithless.)

I’m a self-declared Buddhist. Dalai Lama’s Cat advises to turn our prison into a monastery. The idea is that while you’re still confined, you bring into play an element of deliberate consent. I’m also Freudian. Freud advises that when you can’t have what you want, you must want what you have. These two are basically the same idea.

If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t choose to be where I am, physically and mentally. On the other hand, why not? There are sure worse places, literally and figuratively. I believe in determinism in the sense that where and when you are born predetermines your options. Don’t tell me that my life would be the same if I were born in a dirt hut in the heart of darkness (that’s literary speak for Congo, Africa).

Having been born in the second world has its amazing perks. Awareness, for example. We’re here an advanced society enough not only to know in theory that there are more advanced societies but also to practically know how exactly they live. I don’t think people in the dirt huts of the third world are quite clear on what life in the first world looks like. I have the benefits of internet, formal education and international friends, so I dare say I am quite aware of what it is to live elsewhere.

IMG_20171202_153657-01
Tesco does not sponsor this post

The second world awareness to me means that I know that I could have been better and also that I could have been worse. I can visualise both variants rather well. Knowing this, I’m also appreciative that I haven’t ended up worse. Sure, I’m a struggling overworked freelancer in a cold flat in a shabby small town, but hey, it’s not like I have to walk ten miles to get water from the well and there are rapists and robbers on the way.

I argue that second world people are the toughest. When you don’t know what you could have had, if only you were born differently, you don’t desire it—you have no idea. When you do know, however, that you could, but most likely won’t (don’t give me the nonsense that I can be anything I want to be), you have to get your shit together and deal with it. That requires both mental and physical toughness.

I mean, I’m not dependent on UNICEF food packets, I get my groceries from Tesco, but I still have to walk a mile to get there and carry the shopping on my back because I have neither a car nor someone to help me. It’s this undemonstrative everyday heroism that I value the most in others—and myself. I wouldn’t choose it, but since that’s what I got, I might just as well do it properly and with whatever grace and dignity I can put together.

An Anti-nursery Rhyme

Sleep is when

You’re awake, but unaware

Or comatose, and oblivious

Or dead, not a care

Sleep takes 

The pains

Out of all things

Who’d want to be up

Not me

Let us sleep

No flowers

By request

Voting in Election Is Such an Act of Optimism

I’m apolitical. Nay. I’m anti-political. I suspected that my country was holding a parliamentary election one of these days, and my fears were confirmed when I retrieved a set of ballots from my postbox. It was a bulky envelope bulging with two or three dozen ballots, one for each party running. I was unsure what to do with that shit. Should I build a bonfire? Should I start making origami? Should I just crumple it into a ball for the cat to play with?

I shared my decision paralysis on Facebook and asked for advice. Yes, this wasn’t the smartest idea, especially when you seek to avoid arguing about politics. I did receive a lot of advice though, some from people I don’t even know. I also got plenty of contradicting unsolicited suggestions on whom to vote for. This actually did ease my decision process because anytime I’m advised something, I go and do the opposite. I prefer to make my wrong choices myself so I’d have solely myself to blame.

One of the Facebook armchair advisers was a supporter of the Green Party. Well, nature is nice and all that, but I fear the Greens might give chickens more rights than I have and ban nuclear power plants, which would be a shame because I’m sentimentally attached to them. (Anytime a nuclear energy hater raises the argument, How would you like it to have a nuclear plant at your backyard?, I say, I literally grew up with a nuclear plant at my backyard and I fucking loved it!)

Halloween decoration at the polling station

While thus occupied on Facebook, I found there a test Which Party You Should Vote. Well, everyone knows that Facebook tests are serious and solid, so I took it. It wasn’t that sketchy after all. Your opinions on public issues were compared against the political programmes of the parties running in the election and the result was a percentual match of your opinions with the opinions of each party. Something like Tinder for politics. I matched from 90% with the Pirates. Why, yes, we do have a party called the Pirates here.

So I went and voted for the Pirates. The above-described procedure for choosing my preferred political representative makes it clear that I’m absolutely unfit to vote. I am convinced that most people are unfit to vote, either because they are not informed, like me, or they are not intelligent enough to process the information. That’s probably one of the reasons why democracy doesn’t work. Democracy is like equality, it’s a nice idea, but it’s just an idea. And no, I don’t have an alternative solution. I’m the dumb voter who went voting against her better judgement and so performed an act of visionary optimism.

Some Random Reasons to Stay Alive

To take a break from contemplating suicide, I thought I’d brainstorm some ideas to stay alive instead. That’s my notion of testing the power of positive psychology. I believe I’m doing it right, theoretically, but really, I’m not feeling it. Let’s go through the exercise though. Here’s a bunch of random reasons why avoid suicide.

  • People around me would be upset. (They say so, but they might only say so because it’s the right thing to say. They can’t very well tell me to go ahead and risk that I’ll take the advice.)
  • The tenants after me would have trouble cleaning. (I have no previous experience but I suspect that no matter how you do it, it’s bound to be messy. I certainly wouldn’t leave the flat for the occasion, I mean, one step at a time.)
  • The life you save might (not) be your own. (I was told I might live to make someone’s life less miserable. That’s doubtful. I can’t envision how I would help anyone else when I can’t help myself. But let’s keep the option open.)
Time’s ticking
  • I might live to accomplish something useful. (I don’t think so. I’m accomplishing things all the time but I have the unique skill of accomplishing shit that is ultimately perfectly useless.)
  • Other people have it worse, so I should be grateful. (Yeah, sure, but what if I’m not? How do you do grateful? Are there some exercises or something? Besides a gratitude journal, which I’m already keeping, and which clearly isn’t doing the trick.)
  • The cat would be sad. (This is actually legit. The cat would be pissed off and upset in equal proportions. This is probably it. I’d better stay alive because I have responsibility for the cat.)

Well, that didn’t go as expected. Apparently, I have one solid reason to live: the cat. That’s slightly disappointing, but I guess there are worse things and the cat and I should have about half a dozen of good years ahead. Provided that things go well (that is, not worse than the usual bad). What a cheerful post, isn’t it? With a happy ending though! (*Rainbows atop which unicorns are copulating to populate the earth manifest themselves in the sky.*)

Finding Everyday Inspiration: I Write Because…

Part of WordPress’s writing course Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Here’s a semi-free-writing exercise on the metaphysical topic Why I Write aka Why I Even Exist, which will spiral down to bleak existentialism (Warning, warning), however, relieved by sardonic bites on the way. I will list a succession of reasons why I might write and will test the validity of each. (From the previous sentence, you’d never guess I’m a trained academic, right? Yes, I am being sarcastic.)

everydayinspiration1
In case you’re not dazzled by my writing, here’s a dazzling sun

I write because. Full stop.  This non-answer is so low that it isn’t worthy of a comment. (Damn. I just commented on it.) Scratch this.

I write because I can. This is a dumb non-reason in so many ways. Why would I do something only because I can? I don’t drive a car into a bridge only because I can. (Though, technically, I can’t because I don’t own a car and can’t drive well, hence I’d sooner drive into something accidentally than deliberately managing to hit a bridge.)

I write because I want to express myself. I don’t think so. First, I don’t think my self is so fascinating that it needs to be expressed for the benefit of humankind; second, anyone expresses themselves already through the simple fact of their existence. Why make it further complicated by writing your self?

I write because my mind occasionally requires to unburden itself and spill its (dis)contents on the screen for no particular reason. Now we’re getting close. Since I can’t find the clear cache setting in my head, I need to perform this routine maintenance task manually. (Speaking of which, does your computer need maintenance? If so, you can just as well do it now because this post isn’t going anywhere particular. If you don’t feel like clearing your cache and cookies, just go eat some cookies for me.)

I write because I’m lonely and scared. That escalated quickly. Seems legit though. I don’t quite think that the self by virtue of its very nature can ever connect with not-self. In non-philosophical terms, I can’t connect with you simply because I’m not you. Some degree of connection, of course, is doable, but ultimately, we are all alone. (I read it somewhere, so it must be right.)

That echoing thud right now was where this post hit the bottom of the downward spiral, as promised. The good news: it’s not getting any deeper! (And a gross joke that I just recalled in connection with writing to relieve yourself—I heard it on TV, where one character shared something he shouldn’t have to relieve his conscience, and another character retorted, If you want to relieve yourself, go jerk off. So.) Finally, on my defence, I literally (not figuratively, literally literally) followed this writing challenge’s prompt which read: Go for the jugular. If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy. 

Writing 201: Future

The future starts in the past

The past ends in the future

Your first rites turn into your last

The moment you cease to nurture

 

Cherish yourself as the first

No one knows you but you

How you bury in you the worst

And shy away from the best too

 

The worst ordeal is the middle

Plodding through the dull present

Allow your best virtue, your worst evil

Only the mediocre are wholly decent

 

The future begins in your first breath

The past is the moment of your death

Writing 201: Landscape

This is a poem found entirely in Robert Crawford’s monograph On Glasgow and Edinburgh (2013).

 
On Glasgow and EdinburghOn Glasgow and Edinburgh by Robert Crawford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carefully researched and attractively written, this is a highly informative and insightful guide to both cities on their own and in contrast with each other.

 

The Athens of the North:

Encyclopaedia Britannica,

Edinburgh Review,

Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine,

Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal.

 

Here I stand at

The Cross of Edinburgh,

And can, in a few minutes, take

Fifty men of genius and learning by the hand.

 

A city of grand,

Often riverless bridges;

Some historic streets are windswept

In their elevation,

Others oddly and fascinatingly

Sunken.

 

Mary King’s Close,

Beneath the Royal Mile’s City Chambers,

Has a haunted, museum-like stillness.

 

A museum exhibit,

A splendid stage set,

A wonderful museum of itself.