Aphorisms XXV

There’s something cleansing about watching old papers burn, something similar to watching a big long delete bar progressing on the screen, things being overwritten with randomly generated strings. The process of scrunching up letters, and then seeing them turn to ash, the randomly generated strings of the earth. Like we will!

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I remember when I was young I had a moment where I was so worried, so anxious that I might ‘do drugs’, that formulation of a naïve mind exposed to the conceptual war on drugs, as if the moment would come, and I could do nothing about it. Says a lot about middle class anxieties which are inset into us like dark gems. And also about the strangeness of the will. Why couldn’t I have done otherwise? Why was I so worried about not being able to stop myself? The will needs to be constructed, also. It needs its reinforcements. Maybe I wasn’t yet strong enough and I knew it. Or maybe I knew the dark effect of peer pressure, exceedingly light as it may be.

*

From time to time I have a minor panic attack of a very particular sort – I think there are two types and both are unpleasantly like a kind of involuntary tic. They only happen when I’m alone and sometimes make me clasp my hands together, curl up to protect myself. The first, which I haven’t had in a long time, is the death presage – I will die, there will be nothing. I used to dwell with it after a while, and now I don’t get it very often. The other is its twin, and equally as absurd, the existence presage – why is existence here. What is holding the universe up? I feel like the skin on the edge of nothing. I say to myself that the universe evidently has its own reasons we cannot understand, or tell, given that we’re here, and that questioning is a human stance that it doesn’t make sense to project onto the ground of all things, but it doesn’t help. I’m stuck there, thinking, WTF. I say to myself, the universe isn’t the kind of thing that requires justification, as if a small court of monkeys could demand it make a deposition in a language that is less complex than their own bodily structure.

I suppose such moments could appear as moments of contact with the absolute, or in a transcendental sense, moments where the nothingness of being is evident, nirvana beckoning. But they should also mark our nullity or stupidity.

*

I just daydreamed a giant insect sitting on my bookcase, stretching it’s antennae, as I was sat going through my books and culling them. I realise each time I go through books, read a few pages to try and see again if I’ll ever want to read them, that I often have no idea what’s in a book, despite thinking – yes this is up my street. I read the first page and it’s as if I’d never clocked it before, despite holding it several such times, thinking on the blurb, the design, and deciding to keep it. It’s a kind of autistic ritual I have, and I would do just as well with no books, but rather a shelf of wonderful beads or fossils. Much easier to cart around, as well.

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How much pre-modern horror can be excused due to the fact that everyone was so goddamn terrified all the time due to having no idea what was going on…?

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Engagement – I could never succeed on social media because engagement is synonymous with regret. As soon as anyone actively responds to anything I write, I immediately want to retract the whole thing, say I’m sorry, wish I’d never published it, want to become a gardener and never have a discursive thought ever again.

*

There is a horribleness to having lived a literary or artistic life, the aesthetic life a la Kierkegaard, and to have to move to the ethical stance. All the things you thought you achieved turn out to not be the kind of thing that can help you at all, after all. But it is part of the progression. Without first having lived aesthetically, you can’t understand the tragedy and real beauty of having to go beyond it. Of course, you could have lived a perfectly happy, perfectly ignorant life. But that wouldn’t be as much fun now, would it. Wouldn’t be half as delightfully painful…

*

A non-exclusionary citizenship cannot include national aesthetics, which is often all national value-discourse is. A citizenship test that excludes based on history, or culture, rather than a kind of aptitude test for communal living, should be illegitimate. The Citizen is the legal-qua-legal force of the individual, not their legal-qua-cultural force.

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Tricksiness of the Ideal – You can tell someone the truth, tell them they’re beautiful, but that’s not the same as them feeling beautiful, this much is now widely known – they have the ideal infect, they can’t escape it. But on top of that there is this sense of betrayal, this weakness. They say – but, since I am not beautiful, and yet you say I am, you must be deficient – I’m only your weird kink. The ideal bites at those who try to bypass it. You may think I’m beautiful, but that’s because you’re the freak. A dilemma.

*

How incredibly odd it is to hear a Cambridge professor say that the internet plays a role in the stultifying of language! I mean, what the fuck! Some in the pre-internet generation seem stuck forever in the pre-internet world, and they cut themselves off from engaging so as to protect their egos. But we know that the internet is so teeming with experimentation, constant linguistic iteration, that it often blows away our own petty experiments like wind. We live in the storm. To hear someone deny that it exists, sounds insane.

*

The audacity to translate… : I hear a literary translator talking about the narcissism of translating a ‘great author’, a Pushkin or a Dante. I take this to be a kind of classism, in a general sense. There is a polish to the form of the language which is monumental, and unable to be moved or recreated. But then, small versions of monuments are reconstructed all the time, e.g. the statue of liberty in Paris, or fragmented and recontextualised, like Rodin’s thinker. They don’t have the grandiosity of course, and the lost context is concrete in its de-monumentalising, though their form is very similar. But I take the tragedy this translator sees in the loss of the original form, to be a hesitancy to dare to change, to take the lesser, the fragmentary, and name it this name – Dante. They balk at the audacity. Translation as deflation – as an offence to manners. But… what a horrible view! And this despite the fact that the poesy is largely brought in the new language by the translator themselves. And if the poetry-as-content, in everyday language, the ideas, can’t be translated, what is there in the original but a kind of glossy rhythm etc. Which wouldn’t be worth translating in the first place. So to hold a classic to be untranslatable, is to insult it, really. To say it only consists of foam of the life not understandable.

But to say, hey, it’s really great to read it in the original form too, now that’s pretty straightforward.

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A really powerful god would make you repent without pain – in fact, without persuasion

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A Micro-manifesto for Translation – copyright of foreign modern authors and theorists begins to wane, there is a unique opportunity for us translators to make our amateur translations, our transliterations, our remixes of foreign texts, and make them available undercutting all the great publishing houses. Learning a language is so easy now, with Duolingo, and access to countless hours of audio and video, to the great AI translation services, which can help us as cribs to bring our own twists to the work. We should be honest about our methods and quirks, but we can bring a great wave of creative translations into being, a dialogue with foreign texts to stamp on xenophobia.

*

The universe is infinite according the reified time concept, and we are nothing, instantly scraped off the tally of being. So much for reified object ethics.

But there is still this open space for a holistic-form ethics of the animal, of wanting to play with each other, be stroked, have hugs, impress each other, be annoyed and irritated. To enjoy life as it is given to us, and have our projects, creative and political. Political ethics should grow out of this animal ethics, this discourse we make with our value-bodies. History has its place in us, in its historic-fictional form, and should play as much of a part as that implies, which is a bit of a part. But our Animal side should override it, this is an insight of utilitarian thinking. The animal-subject (subject created by animal law, animal citizenry) has its natural sovereignty, which is just to say that it is important and makes the rules in discourse out of itself.

This existentialist ethics must lead to the primary conclusion that Heaven is Other People, over and above the more ubiquitously known secondary one.

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Boredom and obsession structure culture in an eldritch and often horrific dance with each other.

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