The Intervening Months

I abandoned this little blog more than 13 months ago. I have good reasons for doing so, but more on them later. Right now, one of those reasons – back pain due to some nerve compression due to too much work at a computer due to the jobs I hold – is still bothering me badly from time to time, but it’s at least manageable.

The good news (to my mind) is I’m still alive. Even happened to finish a small project yesterday and will talk more about it in the next days. It feels weird, but there’s really nothing else to say right now, so: end of story.

An Episode (Possibly Clinical) of Too Many Thoughts at Once

Despite its formidable processing powers, the human brain can be easily overburdened. Take a job, add a dissertation, add another job, then throw the death of a very close person into the mix and shake well to blend the grief and the sorrow and the paralysis with everything else – then just sit down and observe. How long would it take, do you think, for that brain to get stuck in a vicious loop?

These days, my brain jitters a lot, throws up various distortions (both analogue and digital), and has to cycle through ugly loops at least several times a day. I’m still not on top of things, but those very same things are moving, relentlessly, and I’ve got no choice but to somehow move with them.

What I did last week around this time was finish a re-read (or was it a third read? really no idea) of Greg Egan’s Teranesia. Had to do that as part of one job, but the book was as gripping as the first time I read it. One of the main topics in the story has to do with scientists gagged by financing agreements. I couldn’t help but wander off in my thoughts, wondering how many people are, as we speak and write, working on diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, AIDS and so many others – and how many of those people will produce work which will not see the light of day any time soon because of the silencing clauses in their research funding contracts. My usual conclusion applies here: what a clinically insane world we have built for ourselves.

In the meantime, really awful things happened around the world. In the USA, a barely grown-up kid with psychological issues went, automatic firearm in hands, and killed twenty small kids and several adults who tried to protect them. Who gave that person access to those weapons? Why is there such an enormous number of automatic weapons in private possession in the USA? Why is there no real, hard control over such weapons? Tough questions all, and all related to the extremely difficult US history of slavery and racism and xenophobia. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time for you to see Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. But before that, you must read this article by Adam Cadre: precise, thoughtful, informed, and scary. Those of you who live in the US should already be really scared by organizations such as the National Rifle Association of America which constantly foil efforts towards tough regulation and control of guns. Nonetheless, fear can in this case be a very useful reaction, especially if it leads to real change.

There were also other evil people doing evil things, like the knife attack in a school in China, or the brutal rape of a woman on a public bus in Delhi, India. Too many struggles to overcome suffering and grief, too many frightful thoughts to be had. At least having the thoughts probably means I’m not completely cut off from reality, even if I cannot do much about any of this.

There were beautiful things in the past days as well, I’ll mention only one though: Cassini giving us here on Earth an image of Saturn that makes me smile every day.

And now I shall be going back to work. I’ve started work on something so insane I should not have even thought about it, but then that’s the way the world turns sometimes. A brain like mine needs a project large enough to concentrate on, and a way to channel the pain of loss into something creative. There will be more info on that when I have material to actually show. For now, there’s movement. And movement still means life, however jaded.

Death Comes, Ripping You out

My grandmother died on Tuesday. She was my mother’s mother; she was 84; she died from Parkinson’s. The disease was diagnosed too late and medication didn’t help. So simple is death, it just cuts you off. My grandmother died in her sleep and hopefully didn’t suffer. Suffering’s left for us, those who still crawl the Earth.

Suffering – and helplessness. I was helpless to do anything for her. This makes me feel now even more completely useless than ever before. On this little planet, all beautiful and green and blue, all we do is suffer and inflict suffering, and seem helpless, too, to change that. Even writing this right at this very moment seems quite absurd to me. But the truths about some kinds of suffering are as simple as death is. Illness, for instance, represents a problem that can be solved. Humans have fought diseases like tuberculosis and have gained the upper hand. These days, even HIV/AIDS does not immediately mean a quick and brutal death. Unfortunately, though, only for those who can afford the respective treatments. Staying alive means money and access to medical care and to the products of chemical multinationals. Staying alive also means being useful as a worker to someone or, more often, to some coldly calculating organization; being able to still produce or serve and thus enrich above person or organization. If you’re over 70 or 75, no one gives a damn. You become useless as a worker. Why invest money to fight and finally defeat Parkinson’s then? Most of the new cases of the disease happen to people over 50. There’s medication to keep you going for perhaps another 10 or 15 years – as long as you’re useful. You were over 65 when the first symptoms appeared? We’re sorry, you were going to die soon anyway. You were quite young, like Michael J. Fox or Muhammad Ali, when it happened? We’re sorry, it’s just bad luck, nothing personal. What’s more, Parkinson’s has never been the only disease to be “treated” this way. Little money can be made by selling medication to the elderly – they’re either currently well insured, or poor and useless as customers (like most older people around the world), or are anyway dying of some barely investigated and deadly disease. Just like my grandmother.

She was the person with whom I spent a lot of time during my childhood. She taught me a great many things about this world. She taught me about right and wrong. She was one of those people who never give up and never surrender, and who can impart that strength and determination to others. I was very lucky and very honoured to be her grandson – and I still am. I miss her. And now there’s nothing to ever be done to bring her back. Instead of investing time and money into fighting diseases, the insane people of the world continue to invest in killing each other over land, over money, over gods and do not understand that losing any living person – anyone – no matter how young or old, how beautiful or ugly, how rich or poor, how clever or stupid, how real or how impossible, is an irreparable and grievous loss. We are only stronger when united in our similarities and our diversity; letting these be diminished and twisted to destructive purposes makes humanity as a whole diminished and twisted. We are making ourselves useless.

Grief doesn’t help in any of this, though one cannot help but grieve. Time, in the end, heals nothing, especially when others fall into the same tragic situations and inevitably grieve for their lost ones. Time only creates distance, distance from the gaping holes in our minds left when we cannot save our loved ones from meaningless deaths. And the cold, empty distance is the void that remains in the end of all ends.

“The Blunt Issue of Windows”

Speaking about insanity, there’s also a more cheerful sort out there, and that’s the one I employ for both work and entertainment whenever I have the strength. Since it’s better experienced rather than explained, here an example: this is an excerpt from an email I wrote a month or more ago.

Outside of the possibilities, opportunities and contingencies RPGing represents in the reflexively modern world, one regularly encounters the blunt issue of windows. Some of these cannot be metaphysically opened, as it were, but others could potentially lend themselves to being ontologically re-installed, or even onto-ethically upgraded to newer, in ways more broken, in others more definitively repaired, but always-in-becoming versions. Put simply, whenever your temporal availability meets the necessary and sufficient conditions of angst-free Zeitgeist-Leerlauf, our communal-social spiritual, intellectual and entertainment maintenance entity ought to be entirely able to, metaphorically, synechdochally and symbolically speaking of course, re-replace the operations of the local-global-glocal-blob system in its driving and librarianistic liminal hybridicity with the centrally master-narrated edition of the New Microscopic Soft-Tissue Times.

What did I say before – outdoublethink their doublethink? Might have been just right. Or, to put it in the words of a computer game character I find both┬ácharming and rather annoying at the same time:

Ha-HAAH!

Useless Opinions

A long time ago, in a slightly different universe, I used to blog. I used to think that whatever insane thoughts my deranged brain came up with might be interesting or useful to someone out there, so I shared them. What a fool. The past three years have shown me that thoughts are only appreciated when they fit the forms people require of them. But no one tells me what these forms are – not even when I go and ask directly. This might be a function of the place/country I live in (Germany), or it might be a function of the times (the now), or even a function of me (someone who talks too much and too often addresses all problems directly). Philosophical ideas, technological concepts, art and all creative undertakings, everything new and heretofore unknown: they have to conform to forms of the past. One either becomes a conformist; or someone who sets up forms for others to conform to, an emperor in one’s own little empire which sometimes stretches no further than one’s own body. This wonderful situation quickly devolves into a ceaseless competition to grow into either a more and more efficient and soulless conformist, or a more and more powerful emperor. Life becomes compartmentalized into little bands of people with their little leaders and their little internal struggles and competitions. Whole societies get divided and subdivided and sub-subdivided like this. No democracy in this – and no equality either. No creativity. And definitely no pleasure in anything at all.

So little empresses and emperors go around, deciding whom to take into their little corporative bands, and whom to ditch. Those whose usefulness, however defined, has run out get the boot very quickly. They are not informed about the imperial decisions, they just stop being invited to the parties or called or written to with interesting news. They stop being cared about. They stop being appreciated. Until that strange moment when their services might be needed again; then the empresses are quick to grab the phone or punch the keyboard or come ringing the bell. Personal relationships work like this. Corporations work like this. Schools and universities work like this. Societies and nations work like this. The whole of humanity seems to be working like this today. Trouble is, we only have one planet for now, and this kind of truly insane behaviour – fundamentally divisive and extremely competitive, all to the point of absolutist thinking – will lead to yet another world war. It might be a gun-and-knife, plane-and-tank-and-mine-and-H-bomb war. It might also be some cyberwar where one side electronically shuts off the electricity in hospitals and shelters in the middle of Northern winter and equatorial summer, while the other proceeds to blast the skies and the highways with EMPs. In all cases, thinking in absolutes which paint competition and divisiveness as the sole good things can only be considered insanity.

What can one do then? Can there be some meaningful response to all of this? I doubt that. The chances will always be slim when one goes alone against mentalities and cultural anti-values which have taken root through decades of propaganda, brain-washing and lies about the reality of things. But then, what else is there to do in this life? Lie down and die? Join this global social insanity and repeat its mantras? Become clinically insane, sink into dissociation and lose all touch with reality? These cannot be put in the category of serious options. If nothing else, one has to fight and fall in an abstract battle with divisiveness: that would be an honourable thing to do. The only other way seems to lie in the path of combatting fire with fire: fight insanity with nothing else but insanity. This is the road of your doublethink which outdoublethinks their doublethink. Rarely have I written insaner sentences than the previous one, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s that.

On a final note: you should probably not read this blog. It will talk about heavy music, about books and films, about politics, about computer games, about my dissertation, about any projects I might have, and so forth. But probably all of it will be useless. People constantly share their opinions on the net anyway; my useless contributions will surely go unnoticed most of the time. In the end, it’s slightly better to be useless most of the time than to be used and abused all the time.