Thursday, March 22, 2012


Hey, listen to this as you read, yeah? Multimedia chops, I'm the big bad boss man from a dot com start up, revamping internet 0.5 to 1.0 :

My favorite novel is Stephen King’s Insomnia. Well, no, that’s not really true, but only untrue insofar as I don’t have a hierarchical rating system for things I enjoy. I’d find it incredibly difficult to try to stack Insomnia next to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s a pointless distinction anyway. The only purpose of a hierarchy is to be useful in rationing out a limited resource. My enjoyment of things is not a limited resource, especially my enjoyment of things I no longer need to put time into. A more realistic measure might be “which of the two are you more likely to read in the future?” though that’s not a particularly useful definition either, because I own both and have plans to read neither and anyway there’s new things to try all the time. I digress.

I liked Insomnia because I felt I could really thoroughly relate to the main characters in their creeping insomnia. I think King did a fantastic job of portraying the feeling of lacking sleep, the sort of hazy “I am going crazy” cloud that descends over the entirety of reality, distorting some noises, making lights brighter or dimmer, sapping your attention. It’s like trying to drag yourself through a awkwardly acoustically designed stage through clouds of weed smoke while a rave is going on. It’s awkwardly designed because every so often there’s a multisided and mirrored convex pillar distorting the noise and light so if you stand just so, you’ll be blinded and deafened or maybe not. Being sleep-deprived is like reading that paragraph over and over.

I’ve been insomniatic since I was old enough to have a notion of set bedtimes. No amount of guilt-tripping, diet changes, lifestyle changes, no place I’ve lived, essentially nothing I’ve done has ever produced any more than a temporary shift in a stereotypical sleep pattern. I am a fraud, so to speak. I don’t have any problems sleeping. I can sleep all day if I so feel. This is why I garner no sympathy, reap naught but shame for how I sleep. Perhaps here I could rail against the establishment, justify my sleep schedule and feel superior in the knowledge that the typical hours that the rest of society runs on is a socially constructed system of moralistic and disconvenient bullshit. I don’t really feel like it. I just wish I were asleep right now because I have to get up in four and a half hours and listen to a health lecture (or watch a ridic movie) covering genetic ideas I already know. I won’t get to go home until 7:15, and I won’t sleep then even, as my roommate will be home and making noise and all of that. Eventually I’ll pass out and everything will be okay supposedly because it will be the weekend or something. I dunno.

And listen to this why not:

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this either, I have other things to write. I have stuff to do, I am busy, perpetually busy. Why? Because I keep putting it off. I keep putting everything off because I don’t want to deal with it. I want to deal with other parts of my life. I need to go resolve some interpersonal shit with a ton of fucking people, but I can’t do that either. Instead I have to stare at a screen and convince myself to be particularly passionate about tourists and tourism when the class has reached that magic moment of recursion where the class isn’t really introducing anything new anymore and instead is reinforcing concepts or identifying things taken for granted. I worry all the time that I’m going to be an academic failure because I literally can’t reconcile the bullshit with my conscience. I can’t imagine doing anything if I don’t feel really good about it. I’m not really principled, I’m fickle and petty and what makes up my “conscience” changes from week to week, if not day to day, but if nothing else I’m a god damned stubborn asshole about some things and I’m well aware that that is what will inevitably hold me back.

I’m also way too damn smart. Inevitably everything I think ends up coming under self-scrutiny. I’m not even really an author anymore, as I sit here and reinterpret what I’m writing as I write it. I consider “well, you just wrote that to reinterpret your sloth as some kind of ennobling behavior, when in reality it’s just a moral failing that you’re refusing to deal with, in part by writing about it in ways to ennoble it and justify it to yourself” or I consider “well, it’s still true on some level right?” until I don’t really know how I should feel about it anymore and whenever I do feel something I feel guilty about feeling that something because I’m not sure if it’s because I am making a calculated effort to present it or if I’m sincere and if I am sincere what does it mean about a person who is that way and how can it be criticized and should I change it so I’m less criticizable? I’m a walking, breathing argument.

I’m not sure I’d have it any other way, either. I both admire and totally disrespect people who have any sort of surety in themselves. Confident sorts of people, confident of opinion or attitude or whatever, are totally uncritical of their activities. How could they be? Criticism undermines confidence. But being uncritical means that you’re not thinking, that you’re just passively living in the world without question even if it’s your own world that you’re not questioning. You may as literally well be an animal of lesser cognition who just so happened to be enculturated and look like the rest of humanity. That’s why no real person is without some weakness or insecurity or disconfidence in them at some juncture (except, I dunno, the autistic and Asperger-ed [criticizing my own statement and adding qualifiers. Qualifiers I’m not even all that comfortable with, as I’m sure it’ll draw ire from somebody somewhere {most likely the autistic or Asperger-ed}]) that makes them relatable and related to the rest of the human race.

Criticism itself too is criticizable. You can problematize anything, as long as you have the moralistic cojones to beat off the hordes of people interested in their view of the world. Academia properly expressed is a lot of bullshit authors bullshitting together about their bullshit, and even my opinion under their bullshit rules has merit. The smartest academes are well aware that the system they’re participating in is on many levels complete crap, but they do it anyway because it’s one of the few socially sanctioned places for people who like to do nothing but talk to hang around and talk. It’s the only place in the world where an egalitarian merit-based system will teach you about the pitfalls of egalitarian merit-based systems and then grant you merit based on how well you absorbed the lesson. It’s missing the forest for the trees, or whatever hackneyed phrase works here. I’m still in college, god dammit, not because I really want to be or because I fundamentally support the system, but because it pays my bills and fulfills my fetish for listening to people passionately talk about things they’ve studied for years. If I could find a decent job where all I had to do was listen to people’s stories about what they’ve learned and what they’ve read and where they’ve been and who they’ve met, I would take it in a heartbeat. For fuck’s sake, if I could get a decent job building houses or fixing bikes or some mindless-yet-unionized factory work, I’d do that. But jobs are hard to find and colleges are pretty much right there and that’s where we’re at.

If you want to know a secret, I added that last bit because I had a momentary pang of guilt/realization that I’m still writing in a super-rich country as a member of a fairly privileged segment of society. As the phrase goes “my privilege is showing” (a hilariously awful method of criticism, as my privilege is not and never has been “mine,” even as the phrase indicates that I have some sort of control over it [problematizing the concept of “privilege” {I’m sure I can find at least a dozen papers to cite}]) and I need to acknowledge it, lest some random stranger come along and point out how good I have it and what an awful whiny person I am for complaining. Except that person already came along and he lives inside my head and follows me wherever I go and I can’t sleep because


  1. you writing is tops and i can't describe it any other way. simply put, it's beyond my level of comprehension. i do agree with you in the beginning when you talk about sleep and how there's so much to do. i feel so overwhelmed sometimes. at the same time, i don't feel smart at all, which you do and you have a right to feel that way, because i DO think you're fantastically intelligent. kudos to you for writing, and keep doing it, as it will help you sort out your mind and it will take you places.

    i hope that was a satisfactory comment to what you've written and i hope you're not disappointed by what little i have to say.

    1. HEY. HEY.


      I'm trying to impress you, not vice versa. I already think you're neat and perfectly well smart and hard-working and stuff. SO THERE.

  2. hahahaha. well i'm glad to hear someone thinks that. my statistics class has me thinking i'm a stupid idiot who can't understand anything.


  3. Well written as usual, Jake. When you were little, did you want to be a fireman or a policeman? I never did, well perhaps I did but that was because people expected me to be something like that. It took me a long time to be myself, perhaps longer than you think. I went through many incarnations of me during my years until retirement, and even then, I was incarnated as a book seller and then a student once again. What did I learn from all these incarnations? I learned that I like people. I like to talk to them. I like to share ideas with them. I simply enjoy the interactions. Rarely have I met a person I didn't like, but there are some who fit that category, and you are definitely not in it. I like the way you put yourself out there. I hope I am still in your life when you become a semi- and then finished product. Of course, I would have to live 80+ more years to do that, wouldn't I. Good luck with your impressing. I think you are on the right track. Peace. Bill Buchanan

  4. Why am I Anonymous? I can never figure out all these hoops I have to jump through to post something. lol
    Again, Peace, Bill