Aphorisms XXVIII

Condescension of Revolution – It is so easy when you look at what such an upheaval costs, first, in violent reaction and, then, the counter reaction which tends to follow. But when a political arrangement will not change, has no inbuilt manner through which to change it to make it more democratic – when the tantrums of imperial powers set their unwieldy mass behind autocracy and freely exercise and defend their monopoly on violence – then what else is there left to do? As the gridlock tightens, as reaction tightens, the temptation grows and grows…

And when democratic revolution can be undertaken peacefully, for the most part, the arguments against it are dulled to a whisper.

What am I saying here? I’m saying that there is space for a democratic revolution even in a nominally democratic system, a system which bears traces of democracy already.

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Aphorisms XXVI

Build up your pretentiousness, but smash your pretensions.

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But you’re just repeating the points made by X… – thinking my own life after my own manner. And this objection is only raised in my own head. There should be no need to attribute ideas that have use-value in my life, or at least, it shouldn’t be the primary thought. Maneuvering on the surface, rather than diving into the logic of concepts and the forging, shaping, reshaping and tempering of concepts.

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Obsession with form in poetry is exactly like obsession with the folds in origami.

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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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Aphorisms XXIV

Can’t hear this suggestion to live among the dead, a la Machiavelli and Montaigne, without also taking into account that this was their way to relax after a day of politics, making it doubly twisted.

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It’s such a human feeling, or feeling of the human, to have your brain scramble for excuses as to why you have failed, or why it is unjust that you should suffer like this. And you watch it like a toddler in tantrum, and when it stops for a moment you ask – are you done? And it screams NO! Or stops, tired out. There are good reasons to despair sometimes, but when this kind of thing happens, you know there are no good reasons involved.

If you fail in love, and feel everything crashing around you, and think, this is the end, I’ll never X again, this is an example of that grasping after straws. It is so hard to be your own parent, to pick up your toddler-brain and say – it’s okay, don’t worry, let’s go get something to eat and maybe you imagined it all, but even if you didn’t, you’ll definitely meet someone new.

This might all be a little harsh, but our world really encourages us not to care too much. Searching for someone who will be special and care for you like a breathing comfort blanket, this is all well and good. But we should be careful not to undervalue ourselves. Again, the base of this kind of despair must be a lack of self-confidence. (Insofar as there isn’t an economic or material side to love – but of course there very much can be.)

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Aphorisms XXIII

Fine, but if you put all your eggs in one basket, you’d better not drop that basket.

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So often in anxious times you see your own internal features expressed in silences, gaps and tones in the speech of your friends. Your own face glares back out of them darkly and says, you’re not enough, you are guilty. But, as it often turns out, they never meant anything by it.

I long for the truth of a myth of a messianic moment where understanding passes over us in a sweet rapture. But it won’t.

The most we can hope for is to taste it, from time to time.

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Aphorisms XXII

Ontotheology always wants balance, completion, perfection. But here is no reason to believe in any of these things on a metaphysical level. That pain would balance pleasure, the stronger the pain, the greater the pleasure, that a life cannot be judged before its completion, and that perfection in general is a positive quality things posses rather than a lack of desire for more…

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V.112

I want you to be the first one
I talk to on my birthday
gliding over the clouds in space
in a glass dodecahedron,

our little pile of cool blankets
and when I can’t sleep due to things,
I will whisper to your earrings
that I want you to be the first

person I talk to on that day
(and I will caption the footage
with star and heart emojis)
that’s when we watch it back, my dear

(me and the orbit habitat
attendant) I will tell them how
I want you to be the first one
I speak to on my birthday – yes

I don’t know what words I would use
Maybe I would express anger
at how you mistrust my judgement
‘how dare you!!’ I would say, ‘morning –

by the way. You are beautiful
the way that shadows of nimbus
are elegant, on their cloud bed
from our glass ship, it’s my birthday’

Aphorisms XXI

Nothing on this earth scares me more than the past that we have forgotten. Accepting that past is like a particularly sneaky part of accepting mortality.

It becomes unnerving to see how many times I have reworked the same aphorism, simply due to forgetting I wrote the last version. I should be happy that they often have a development.

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You can play a game as a past-time, like I would dabble in chess, or enjoy a board game. But then there’s playing a competitive game in such a way that it starts to shape your mind, quieten other pathways, reinforce and enlarge or complicate the shape that develops and queries the game-problems. You lose the spark associated with other parts of your life, you dream about the game. You shrink. To play a game well, it almost demands this total dedication in a race to the bottom amongst those who play it. It drains that elusive, bare kind of joyful ‘fun’ out of the game, leaving yourself with just angry bemusal when you fail – how can I put so much into something only to fail? You play to say ‘yes, yes, I behaved adequately there.’ Not to say, I had a great time. Or the great time becomes that crunchy moment when your team manages to overcome the adequate challenge. No wonder people fall into toxicity where hate drives their performance. There are entire ethics around competition in the Olympics, and a culture of admiration of the athlete. Videogames lack this, and the moments of humour are all that serve to outweigh the hate speech that infuses all the higher ranks of performance.

Game design tries to encourage this intense engagement, as determined by the capitalist drive to squeeze the player base and keep them playing. But there are signs of a better ethic somewhere. The anonymous player is harder to tame than the cultural agent engaged in a sport or IRL game. But with online community and ‘community engagement’ there is hope for a better world to come.

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Aphorisms XX

My guitar teacher used to say to me – learn the theory, learn the chords, learn riffs and learn songs. But try your best to forget it all when you need to write music.

The same goes for advice on writing. You can’t have all that rattling around in your head when you’re trying to get something done. When it comes up, it should pop in like a friend to remind you you need a cup of tea, or better, bring you that cup, with a biscuit.

(This fits into the probably quite voluminous category of meta-advice.)

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When you play a videogame with gestural graphics, that don’t quite add up, you bring a kind of supplement to it. An ideal space opens up on top of everything on the game and adds materiality, similar to when you’re reading a book and you bring images, material from the memory into the book-image. It fills in the gaps, making the whole painting pop. At least, it did when I was a kid.

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