Posts Tagged ‘Life


this house is a bass drum

response to “never in step,” below


We are always drawn to ponder circumstances that differ from our present situation.  It is somehow fundamental, in this historical moment, to imagine other existences, to wonder how the world–or one’s own life–might have been different, or might someday be.  Sometimes the thought even reveals its meta-imaginary character:  it comes as the blatant realization of a new a priori, that what is was never meant to be, it only just happens to be.  Only upon reflection does it appear that the universe has a “plan” for any of us; this idea is imposed on our perception of “the future” only after it has had its historical genesis in the minds of humans, not the other way around.  Freed of this basic constraint upon imagination–namely, the tendency to fail to imagine the world differently–we arrive at what philosophers call arbitrariness, which is at the heart of all fiction in that it allows the mind to identify, reduce and manipulate basic components of everyday-reality-as-perceived-by-human-beings.  Civilization itself, in all of its constituent dimensions–material, infrastructural, political, relational, mythological–is free to be designed from the ground up (or the top down, or both, or in some other possible manner of architecture).  Once mind has the building blocks of the world at its creative disposal, imagination comes to be defined by its pregnancy with other, possible, worlds.  This is why, for example, so much of (what I’d call) the truly exciting philosophical thinking of the twentieth century occurred in the primarily “literary” genre of science fiction.

But I digress…

Continue reading ‘this house is a bass drum’


Never in step

Stagnant mediocrity at present; a likely side-effect of runaway ambition… Sundry avenues for tomorrow, seldom a worthwhile replacement for meaningful existence…

I am currently visiting the place I recently called home. A sensory overload of mixed emotions; some thankfully forgotten, others regretfully abandoned – has me irrevocably stuck in my own head. I realize with rare clarity the extent to which I’ve allowed my reverence for here/now to become a fault – to reverse itself into something of a situational lapse.  I cannot visit without wondering what life would be, could be if I hadn’t left. Or if I returned as though nothing had changed, foolishly forgetting the roots presently establishing themselves in that chosen “elsewhere”.

The vast majority of my friends and acquaintances have gathered in a house long-established as a landmark gathering point. Adjacent to a sawmill and cow pasture, altitudinally below a horse pasture and in the heart of breathtaking Appalachia, this house of wood and stone encompasses much of what I love and despise there. Housing brilliant minds, unbound excitement and yet untold adventure. But also dreams lost, the basement a physical manifestation of its transience, a reminder of friends once had, projects abandoned, the wreckage of more dramatic fallings out. Piles of garbage represent past roommates, respectively – containing snippets of once-integral members of the group, remaining as a reminder that integrality is but an illusion. Constituency consists of existing members, pushing on with little regard for those past.

Some new drama has materialized since last I visited. Some new members have filled the gaps left by those of us who’ve gone AWOL. But fundamentally, for better or worse, it remains. New relationships have emerged, adding little to the group save a dizzying timeline of intimate associations amongst its members.

There are two extremes, not dichotomous, but easily organized as such. At one extreme is the complete resignation of ones’ mental capacity to the infinite “what-ifs”. On the other sits the state of total forfeit of ties to time or place. The latter amounts to traveling in the time and space immediately before oneself, the smallest and simplest conceptual “now” – around 3 seconds. Between the two exists the spectrum that is life. Each tiny point representing a unique, hierarchical aggregation of “now” and “later”.

More often do we eternally look to the future, allowing a list of “to-do’s” to remain indefinitely. That plane ticket that needs to be bought, that garden planted, those books read. “But what if I move?” “What about my job?” “What else could I, should I be doing?”  This is what I have historically plagued myself with. But here, now, I am struck with throbbing nostalgia thrust upon me by my very presence – (should I have stayed?). I’ve shifted closer to the other end of that spectrum. Only upon reflection do I recall the circumstances within which I exist, outside of this weekend that is.

It is increasingly easy for me to drop recollection of the intricacies of daily life here in the mountains, the more tedious or quotidian of tasks receding in favor of tranquil, peaceful moments cherished. I can grudgingly recall the undesirables, at times lending themselves to a vehement unwillingness to consider moving back; this ability to forever rationalize itself becoming somethign of a schizophrenic internal discourse. I too can similarly consider my ordinary life now – my physical and mental separation forgetting what it is I love and hate. For this moment, home has become a muddled memory, falling lower on the hierarchy of prudent thoughts.

They way in which we (subconsciously) choose to approach and react to life certainly cannot be deciphered in full by the simple spectrum and hierarchy described. But in some way, they are helpful in realizing a hint of pattern in more emotional moments.

As the August sun falls beneath those Blue Ridge mountains, the crisp air makes it hard to rationalize ever leaving. But the dust never settles…