"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Saturday, February 26, 2011

life imitates art

“But maybe all art is about just trying to live on for a bit. I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
– Banksy

i feel lost. like in the last few months my spirit has cleaved in two, the rotten depressed and dark parts remaining here while the other bits floated away, too light and airy and dreamy to be bound to these desolate remains. "O... these fragments I have shored against my ruins." sometimes i feel like i can see the other half of me off in a distance, or i feel like i am that distant self looking back at the miserable remains and pitying her. it becomes hard to recognize myself in a mirror. how do i get those lost parts of me back?

as a kid i would lie awake in bed at night, imagining death and the unrelenting continuance of time without being able to participate in it, of lives without my presence. of being forgotten. i didn't want fame, but i didn't want to get lost in time and forgotten. i think this is the fear that underlies the pursuit of fame – a desire to never die.

the other night i lay in bed, sobbing because i could feel that sense of dying, could feel my loosening grip on my dreams, ambitions and aspirations from when i was a kid. i used to want to be something unusual, to be earth-shattering. i wanted to be destined for extraordinary things. and i felt, as i examined my life, considered the turn of recent events, and the availability of options before me, that my life had become rather extra ordinary. and as i thought of an image of myself as a child and the image of myself now, i began to cry. i never thought it would come to this, to being another unhappy adult stuck in a monotonous lifestyle with dreary rituals and nothing beautiful to celebrate. is this what happens? we grow old and comfortable and stuck in daily procedures and stop imagining different possibilities? i'm 25 and yet i feel old, weary, life-deprived, sick of the limited options (watch a movie, take a walk, read a book, work / be a mother, teacher, accountant, secretary). i don't want to be just another anything.

when i was young i wanted to be a writer, a dancer, a storybook illustrator. i wanted to be a wild animal. i wanted to make everlasting art.

and now all i make is dollar bills.

Monday, February 21, 2011

back to the future

have i mentioned, i love time travel!

i found this wonderful photography project by a woman in Brazil by the name of Irina Werning, who has been collecting old photos from her friends in Buenos Ares and having them "go back in time" to re-enact moments from their past.

at first i thought she had just found old photos and then procured models who could be dressed up and posed in a way resembling the photographs, but about halfway thru the gallery it occurred to me that these past and future people are actually the same people. once you realize the photos are actually juxtaposing real past with real present, with decades in between, you're humbled by the human ability to transcend change. or to put it another way, humans wear change very well. babies become adults, brunettes become blondes, sprinkles of chest hair grow, trees grow, crooked teeth straighten, beards are grown, laugh lines appear – there are acute superficial differences, but the characters beneath the surface (one can imagine) are still relatively the same, albeit with some insane tattoos accrued along the way.

it's been quieting to look at these photographs and feel reassured of the constancy with which time grips us all. lately i have been perceiving myself as a stranger, so different from who i was yesterday, the year before, and ten years ago. to think of an image of myself when i was eleven and contrast it to how i feel now feels alienating and weird, like wearing the wrong shoe on the wrong foot. but i am reminded that perhaps life moves more in ripples than seismic waves. most of the time, anyway.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

transhumanism? thoughts on our robot futures.

litmus test: is this frightening? Y/N

remember when people used to worry that the future would be bleak because we'd be captured and enslaved by a superior robot race? remember how ridiculous that sounds? now, remember how simple life was when everyone used landlines (actual pre-planned play dates! if you wanted to have a date you actually had to plan and keep your promises!) and dial-up internet was new wave? remember when Cyber Monday didn't exist? remember when calling an office line or a toll-free number meant waiting on the line to speak to an operator, before interfacing with voice-recognition software and keypad menus (to then be put on hold to speak to someone) became commonplace to modern existence? even i remember those days.

as technology advances, computers become faster, more efficient, more accurate and (more significantly) cheaper at performing the jobs formerly held by humans. imagine a DMV line made expedient and seamless by a wall of computers instead of bulky attendants and clerks. how sleek an LCD screen can be compared to the bulbous inconsistency of humankind!

technological advancements occur at increasingly rapid paces. perhaps out-pacing evolution and the rate of human biological development. it's no wonder a consistently frightening convention of fiction and fantasy is the image of an inanimate object coming to life and possessing the ability to move, change, and destroy. [Cf. Poltergeist, Chuckie, kids' cartoons(?)]

what with technology being (and becoming) what it is, it's expected that machines and computers will come to replace (and out-perform) human employees in many current jobs. while it may come as no surprise that toll takers, for example, have been replaced, the machines are coming for YOUR job next. librarians, postal workers, Blockbuster staff recommenders, watch out! it might seem impossible for computers to perform the jobs of doctors, lawyers, poets and teachers, those jobs that require a unique human brain with the capacity for judgement, critical thinking, creativity, and insight. but consider this: travel agents no longer exist because you can Wiki-travel any destination for yourself. who's to say WebMD won't come to replace professional medical advice in the future? i've already witnessed a robot performing the jobs of a lab assistant in a hospital, couriering blood tests from one medical wing to the other:

and while it takes a special grasp of language, its lyricism and rhythm, to compose the most compelling poetry and prose, randomized text generators can create a free association of words reminiscent of poetics. podcasts of lectures and language lessons can provide an educational experience without the hallowed walls of an educational institution.

before i get too Glen Beck on you all, i guess what i'm trying to say is "no kidding the job market sucks right now." i may have sparkling credentials and an imperturbable work ethic, but so do hundreds of thousands of other jobless applicants. and still, computers will never unionize for health insurance and better pay and better working conditions.

as long as we keep finding ways to replace human workers with computers, and as long as the human population keeps rapidly growing, the gap between job availability and job need will be ever-expanding. kids will continue working on the illusion that they can go to school and work hard and accrue millions of dollars of debt and emerge gainfully employed in the end. only to find a life of depressing retail work and fast-food service await them. back to adolescence, back to where you started. no wonder people are turning to television and Chatroulette and endless escapism. endless, vicious cycle of technology-dependence. and yet, all of us were quaking in our homes on the eve of Y2K, clutching our piles of firewood for strength, hoping the computers would survive the wipeout. shucks, we missed an opportunity.

Monday, February 07, 2011

goodbye to an old friend

BBC News - Redwall author Brian Jacques dies aged 71

this is devastating. i spent a good part of my childhood reading the Redwall books, and i credit them with not only developing my literacy, but fostering in me an appreciation for nature and animals and good, hearty stories. my first ever email address (that i continued to use until probably the junior year of college) was named after my favorite character, Pikkle, a spritely mannered hare with a voracious appetite in the Salamandastron book (probably my favorite of the series).

when Twilight first started generating buzz and i got wind of its content, i lamented the lack of attention paid to writers such as Jacques and the heartiness of his story-telling. and i wondered why we could no longer live in a society where complex stories about virtuous characters undergoing harrowing journeys and epic battles to protect their home/ unravel ancient mysteries/ discover their identities/ defeat sinister adversaries all while singing songs and writing poems and eating decadent woodsy feasts could be appreciated.

i felt a twinge of sadness, something akin to guilt, when i stopped reading the books every year they came out (the last one i made any effort with was Marlfox). i felt horrible, like i had outgrown them or something, and i felt bad for losing interest in those characters and their stories. the way you feel bad about losing touch with your best friends from elementary school or high school.

anyway, this is doubly weird because not too long ago i was checking Wikipedia and reading his page and wondering if he was still writing books, found myself worrying about his age and hoping he'd live a long life and that one day i'd be able to write him a letter and thank him for writing. i guess this will have to do.

RIP, Mr. Jacques. and thank you for your stories. i hope my kids will one day enjoy reading your books as much as i did.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


what i love most about this gif is how it says so much about the absurdity that is "Oprah," without me having to, so i can just sit back, be appalled, and giggle a little.

(seriously, she must enjoy turning ppl into weepy pathetic maniacs. the sheer delight in her face! she is basking in the glory of emotional wreckage. Oprah being a homicidal maniac is a droll turn on extant reality.)

true story

Groundhog Day could be viewed as a commentary on the nature of modern celebrity. A cute, hairy creature has become famous for doing something with minimal accuracy because he is surrounded by men in funny hats. Subtract two legs and a tail and that's the Justin Bieber narrative all over.
-from here.