Quick note on something that annoys me: when people are like “let’s criticize [name of some ideology]” then give a really overgeneralized statement of that ideology. A social system like capitalism has a social logic that is subject to criticism, though there are important limits to the use of general social-systemic criticisms (because we don’t live in capitalism-in-general, we live in a particular time and place in a particular version of capitalism). Ideologies like marxism and anarchism don’t. They don’t have a logic so much as a grab bag of qualities built up over time. Most adherents to an ideology disagree with what’s actually in that grab bag too, so really they’re composed of clouds of grab bags that have roughly and only roughly similar labels written on them. This is why criticism of a particular -ism falls flat when that criticism operates at a general level of “this -ism is like THIS.” Instead people should quote, summarize and paraphrase, and name people and criticize the ideas in those quotes and summaries. That way the criticisms are actually valid and hit their targets.
Of course, more general terms are very useful for constituting a scene and a scene-based identity.
Dear [book] (it doesn’t seem right to name names publicly like this, I’m already unsure about airing something so personal in this way),
We’ve been together, off and on, for quite a long time now. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend draws a comic I like (and more importantly, that my older daughter likes). Occasionally small creatures called doldrums come around to sap the energy of people; cats drive off the doldrums and save the humans. (For a while my kid would play-act this, imagining herself a cat driving off doldrums, an image more accurate than she understands.) Doldrum levels have been pretty high lately for me. Today I looked up the definition of the term for the first time. The etymology of the word includes a reference to sea travel – the doldrums as becoming calmed at sea, no more winds to provide motor power, leaving you just floating. I started to write ‘floating aimlessly’, that’s the feeling but not the old term – doldrums in the ocean-going sense is loss of ability to make forward motion. Doldrums in the metaphorical sense is more loss of both direction and motive force, losing the map, compass, and goal as well as the energy to get… wherever. I could imagine this as a kind of greying out, like the Kansas scenes in the Wizard of Oz, turning colorless. I suppose the Wizard of Oz is another sort of metaphor here, Dorothy’s shoes, the ability to move is there all along, the feeling of being trapped is a matter of being trapped by that feeling itself. Another metaphor I often think about for this is exercise. The first 10 or so minutes of a run are mostly about shedding the impulse not to run. After outrunning that impulse the run gets good, I’m in motion and feeling good about being in motion. The urge to stop may occasionally catch up but it’s easier to keep in motion than it is to start moving. My bouldering partners and I have started ending our climbs with circuits where we do a hard route, a second hard route, then the first hard route again, with no rests between them other than the time it takes to walk the ten feet or so between climbs. We finish each route out of breath with muscles tired, and because we’re tired the climbs get sloppy – feet slipping, just grabbing whatever we can make contact with, no elegance of technique. The hardest moments are when I have to get back on the wall after my feet slip, and when I have to start the next climb after walking over. Starting the third climb is the worst. In a way it’s the rest that makes it hardest, because that means having to break out of rest and into motion again. That this is so hard is part of why I like climbing circuits. Well, “like” is the wrong word. After finishing a circuit and recovering I feel very satisfied in part because I feel good about having overcome my impulse away from activity. It feels good to defeat the doldrums. Unfortunately those wins are only ever episodes, and the next episode never feels like a guaranteed win, but in those later episodes I can still look back at the past episodes to remind myself that I can break into motion. Retaining or re-inventing that sense of possibility (the possibility of possibility?) is crucial.
Motivation drought continues. One way to deal with this is to ask myself, what do I want to know that I don’t currently? What do I want to think more about?
In no particular order:
– climate change
— the various IPCC reports
— the various centers studying the issue, industry publications on the issue, and national gov’t reports
- social structure of accumulation theory (I’ve read a lot on this but I need to write something on it so I can retain what I’ve read)
- a richer idea of ‘left-wing of capital’
- more on abolitionism
- more on finance
I’m tired and sick and that’s bullshit but I’m on my third glass of orange juice and that’s making me feel better, in part because I put a big bunch of vodka in this third glass and that has medicinal properties that enhance the power of the vitamin C. I read that on the internet on a reputable site here.
Moving away from your childhood home usually hurts, and so does coming back. Returning makes old aches ache again, and creates new one as being physically close points out the distance that grows between people as we age and change. Daryl Gregory’s fiction emphasizes that, and demonstrates that all this shit is extra intense if you’re possessed by a demon, or if you’re a zombie, or if your home town was the site of an outbreak of a strange illness that rewrote the genetic code and mutated the bodies of most of the population. Read the rest of this entry »
Quiet, I think I heard something. Read the rest of this entry »
I read something about online dictation software that turns speech directly into text. I thought I’d try it. Below is what the computer thought it heard me say. I think this is funny and also kinda neat. It’s a jumble and not something I’d use to record my thoughts word for word. Still, for about five minutes work – three-ish talking plus a bit of set-up time – this isn’t too bad. Certainly the amusement is worth it, anyway.
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