Aphorisms XXVI

Build up your pretentiousness, but smash your pretensions.

*

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.

*

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

Continue reading

Aphorisms XXIII

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

*

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.

*

Continue reading

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…

*

Continue reading

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.

*

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.

*

Continue reading

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.)

*

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.

Continue reading

Aphorisms XVIII

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius – The Borges story offers quite a neat allegory for the post-truth/propaganda situation. The fake encyclopedia begins as an experiment – can we create a world in detail without the usual connections between material reality and the conceptual scheme? Can we jettison praxis altogether and have its opposite occur? In that world, the concepts begin to cause things to happen, simply by being made. The markers of this are objects that propagate themselves, but slightly changed, exaggerating some aspect – conspiracy objects. Then the completed encyclopedia begins to disturb reality – reality as a scheme begins to collapse due to the overstrong influence of the unreal.

*

Continue reading

Aphorisms XVI

Aphorisms can be like a diary of thought, and, like a diary, shouldn’t be considered a final opinion. But there is no final opinion. We can always speak again. And even death cannot finalise our opinions, since the possibility of opinion rests on the fact that it can be revised. It remains possible that we could have changed our mind, even after we are gone. Our last opinion is not final, in that sense.

*

Representation is never perfect, there is always something beyond, a possible beyondness to representation. But through representation we are placed into direct contact with this beyondness, and feel the real through it.

*

Continue reading

Aphorisms X

The problem with a generation declaring literature to be basically over is that it deprives the following generations of the thought that their lives and thoughts might be worth novelising. It results in the experience I’ve had with Ben Lerner, Luke Kennard, Sally Rooney, suddenly recognising myself in the books, thinking – ah, so this is how novels shore us up. But then on the back cover of The Topeka School I read Sally Rooney’s comment – “To the extent that we can speak of a future at present, I think that the future of the novel is here”. And I feel strange. Does each modern novel writer think they are entourage to the last writers? Do they always feel the door shutting after them?

*

The extravagance of poetry is this contention that it deserves the amount of space it takes up. If done unconsciously, it can underwhelm, but with great confidence it shines. Like a single acorn sat in the centre of an small warehouse.

I imagine a solid gold maze hung from invisible wires in a large room, undulating under the diffuse light. Although for some it is not a luxury, poetry is luxurious speech.

*

Continue reading