Tuesday, October 31, 2000
>> 12:30 PM
Monday, October 30, 2000
So health and wellness are much on my mind these days. Sadness. Just learned this weekend that my friend's brother is in a coma of sorts in the hospital. The doctors think he has either meningitis, or worse, encephalitis.
>> 8:10 AM
Sunday, October 29, 2000
In the car on the way home from dinner tonight, I heard on the radio a public-service type announcement about teen suicide and communication. In essence, the message was that a sense of loneliness and isolation is the fundamental element in suicides. The announcement/commercial featured the testimony of a member of some popular band who stated that he knows in hindsight that he could have/should have talked to a friend of his who committed suicide. If only I had reached out to him and talked to him about his problems . . .
Now, I know that loneliness is a very powerful feeling and I have no doubt that its frightening palpability can really drive one to want an oblivion (or at least another state) in death. I am all for everyone reaching out to others, especially if they seem particularly detached or depressed. But this insistence on loneliness as the prime factor of suicide leads me to wonder, can a human being be happy without the company of others? Is it the case that lack of social contact/connection is hell on earth?
I know that my personal struggles are with getting myself to establish contact with other people. It is far too easy for me to lapse into a social silence of sorts, a retreat into a world of my own. I don't think its such a bad state in general, but then a part of me also realizes that in order to do anything, I have to interact with others. And my problem is with the whole negotiation of talking and relating to others. However, while I often feel socially inept and alienated from the world, I never feel suicidal. I might feel profoundly anti-social and want to become a hermit, but I never feel like life itself is not worth experiencing for lack of the social context. I think in some ways, its because I can be content being "merely" an observer of a social world around me. I don't feel like I don't exist because I am not interacting, because I am in some sense shut out from others' worlds.
The difference here, I suppose, is that between being alone and being lonely. What causes that divide? I enjoy being alone very much, and though I do also yearn to be with others at times, my loneliness seems largely to be kept at bay by a simple contentment with living. So why, for others, is it so hard to be alone? Do they imagine themselves to be that zen tree that falls in a forest with no one to hear? If so, what's the big deal? I would guess that for many, being an actor (all the world's a stage . . . ) is of paramount importance in their sense of self-identity and self-worth. And here I mean "actor" exactly in that stage-theater inflection. It is not enough to do, but one must do with an audience, with someone(s) to watch and care.
Am I any different? If no one were reading this blog, would I keep writing (for the record, I have no evidence that anyone has been reading this blog since I advertised it a couple of weeks ago)? Is there a way in which I am my own audience? Many well-known and well-esteemed authors have written about how writing privately in journals was their salvation, a way of keeping themselves sane and even alive. So that sort of brings us back to (at least back to myself--to my lifelong obsession with) writing and identity. Am I writing myself into life? Is that what others do with their writing? Or is that what non-writers do with their conversations with others? Are we all writing our stories on the minds/memories of our friends and family?
>> 10:09 PM
Along with my recent reversion to social detachment is the return of my road rage. I thought it was a thing of my adolescent past (those good ol' California days), but lately, I've become more and more impatient with dealing with other cars on the road. Part of the problem might be that I've been driving more, going between Durham and Chapel Hill more than once a day, and driving to Raleigh as well. I've also in the past week finally experienced real rush hour traffic on I-40, going from Raleigh to Chapel Hill one evening (it took a full hour to make the usually 20-minute trip). Stop-and-go traffic is just evil. I've also taken to running red lights as a habit. Eep.
What is most annoying, though, is that given the amount of congestion on the roads in the Triangle, one would think that the municipalities and county bodies of government (or even the state) would think to intervene with efficient modes of public transportation in order to reduce the congestion. But NO. As far as I know, there are no large-scale plans in progress for a commuter train system or even a development of the extant bus system. I would take the TTA (Triangle Transit Authority) bus between Durham and Chapel Hill, but it's route is so labyrinthine that the trip takes 50 minutes (a direct drive takes 15 minutes). Plus, the local Durham bus system (DATA!) doesn't run early enough to get me from my apartment to the downtown depot where the TTA stop is so that I can get to Chapel Hill by 8 am for work. Grrrr!!!!!!!!
>> 4:13 PM
Friday, October 27, 2000
Is it the time of year? The dwindling hours of sunlight? I feel my mind/mood sliding, too, as if inexorably, into that weird state of detachment. It's as if there is this life, this world out there, but all the me inside wants to do is sleep, to be unconscious, not having to care what else is happening . . .
This all reminds me, of course, of the couple of times I've tried therapy in order to integrate myself into the social. Unfortunately, neither attempts seemed to do much for me. In the first, the therapist was so much of a cypher--he was a presence that was more of a nonpresence and therefore disturbing to my search for a connection--that I stopped going. The second was much more involving and I felt I was working towards seeing myself in social spaces, but then the semester ended, she left the department/clinic, and I was shuttled off to another therapist. I only saw this third person once or twice, trying an anti-depressant, but giving it (and the therapy) up after less than a week because it only exacerbated my sense of detachment from things and myself.
This all in turn reminds me that I had picked up from the library Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick's A Dialogue on Love, but haven't gotten around to reading it. I'm just wondering if there might be something of familiarity in her experience . . .
Maybe in the end, as some [reviewers] of Sedgewick's book have written about Sedgewick, I am just a self-involved, confessional kinda guy. And maybe that's why blogging becomes me.
>> 8:33 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2000
>> 11:11 AM
Tuesday, October 24, 2000
>> 10:08 AM
Monday, October 23, 2000
come on girl
let's sneak out of this party
it's getting boring
[there's more to life than this] . . .
In any case, I've noticed that I've been trying to sing along to the music I play in my car during my commute these days. More than that, I've taken to trying to sing harmonies to the melodies. I'm pretty bad, unfortunately. How I envy people with a musical ear! It's fun, though, as long as no one is listening (or watching, for that matter).
I need to pick up my guitar again. It's been at least a month since I've played it! [School] keeps me fairly occupied, I say to myself. No excuses! I've probably forgotten everything about playing the acoustic guitar by now, especially since I only practiced it sporadically for about a month before school started.
Must . . . be . . . guitar . . . player . . . ! ! !
>> 3:02 PM
I've been getting used to all the crying
And the games that you play
And if I carry on I'm gonna end up
With a hole in my head . . .
Cheerful stuff, really. Gotta gonna gobble. Re-reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice now. Austen can be quite funny, but in the end the whole affair of marriage and female coquettry/wiles still makes me queasy. Negotiations of desire in Austen always seem to figure on compatability of persons who think themselves above the usual designs of young women on young men of good fortune. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
But for all her supposed proto-feminist subversivenss, Austen really is still working within the tradition of an idea of a sexual contract between men and women that makes possible the social contract between men in proper society. Her work does remind me a lot of Shakespeare's comedies in how they seem to destabilize ideas of the place of the sexes and their relationship to each other, but in the end, both Austen and Shakespeare domesticate their fiery women and yoke them to the handsome, eligible bachelor.
I suppose what Austen really laments isn't the institution of marriage and its place in society, but the way in which women can be so empty-minded and silly about it. She wants marriage to mean something more than an estate and the prospects of "ten thousand a year." She wants there to be some sort of bond more than that necessitated by marriage's purpose in continuing bloodlines. But she doesn't exactly think that there is something wrong with an institution predicated on the domination of women by men, on the exclusivity of heterosexuality in its lineages, and the effacement of experiences and existences that do not further the acquisition of family wealth and status.
>> 9:02 AM
>> 7:23 AM
Sunday, October 22, 2000
Blog me flog me, yeah.
>> 7:33 PM
>> 11:07 AM
Saturday, October 21, 2000
Irony, sentimentality? Weird. Ok, so yesterday (all of a sudden? or gradually?) I was struck again by this overwhelming sense of what I feel is a sort of psychic detachment. It's this feeling I have that I am so disconnected from myself (feelings, interests, etc.) and the world. It has a lot to do with this uneasiness in critical thinking with believing in anything. A lot of contemporary criticism does seem to aim at critiquing things (values, ideas, etc.) and in fact even the idea of holding values, ideas, etc. I don't know what I think about that mentality, except it seems to play itself out in my daily life. I definitely think that this mentality is the prevailing view of things in critical circles. I guess I have problems with this sort of psychic detachment because I do, in the end, still believe that I should be able to believe in things, to feel things, etc. But I just don't know what there is to believe in . . .
>> 9:32 PM
Friday, October 20, 2000[Behind the Curtain].
>> 11:34 AM
["Mr. Lunch was very good at chasing birds. In fact, he was a professional."]
>> 10:35 AM
So . . . I don't know quite what to make of this site, [www.icebox.com]. The shows on the site remind me of [South Park] in their use of racially and sexually "inflammatory material" (as the disclaimer to one of the shows states). I can see how the creators are striving for a satire of prejudices and ideologies that result in racial and sexual discriminations, but at times the shows seem like forums for the gratuitous use of political incorrectness. It's as if these shows are a refuge for the idea that people are inherently prejudicial, but have only been battered into silence and submission by the ogre of political correctness.
It seems clear to me that the intent of these shows is to poke fun at racist, sexist, and homophobic values, but as with South Park, I think many people (the majority?) read the intent as unironic and straightforward. In other words, people enjoy these shows for the relief they provide in seeing expressions of hatred with which they agree. Maybe I'm just being a [pessimist] . . .
In any case, I do find these shows to be funny. I came across the site because a friend of mine e-mailed me about the [Queer Duck] show. What they do for me is allow me to laugh at the absurdity of anxiety-inducing aspects of life. In the first episode of Queer Duck, for example, the duck comes out to his parents. He thinks his mother is taking it fairly well until he realizes she's just roasted herself in the oven . . .
>> 7:23 AM
Thursday, October 19, 2000[Elmo's Diner]. I want to [color] in one of their pictures of Elmo the Duck. Oh, and have one of their delicious biscuits. Mmmm.....
I'm sure the people at National Discount Brokers are loving the calls they're getting (I received these instructions from two different people yesterday via e-mail):
[National Discount Brokers]
- dial 1-800-888-3999 (it's free)
- listen to all of the options - don't cheat listen to the options
- after hearing #7, hit 7
Every company should have an option #7.
>> 9:48 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2000
I'm still trying to decide whether or not I like pen-and-paper journal-keeping better or [blogging]. There is something I like about the actual process of writing by hand (perhaps associated with my interests in drawing). And I believe there is something special (as in unique) about each person's handwriting (although I don't know if I would go the way of [graphology]). But because I invest so much in the actual production of paper-journal entries, I find myself not getting around to writing much (or at all). It just takes too much effort. So blogging has been a way for me to cut to the chase, so to speak.
But what do I end up blogging about? Because of the hypertextuality (look at this [site] or [that] one!) of the medium, I find myself writing about things that are more related to the outside world, to what a stranger would have a reasonable chance of finding familiar or at least understandable. And maybe this is another reason why I stopped writing in my paper-journals. In those, I would run circles around my thoughts to the point of losing coherency. There was a lack of an outside world to impose restraints on my musings. I don't really want to get started on language [again], but it has a lot to do with this question of to write or to blog . . .
>> 7:10 AM
Tuesday, October 17, 2000[I] need some green tea ice cream [(gtic)].
>> 1:05 PM
>> 9:48 AM
Monday, October 16, 2000
Had dinner last night with some friends (on Joe's side). It's still strange (yet comforting) to me that there are people out there who have been together for so many years. These friends, John and Leon, have been together for four years. But even more amazing is that we met a friend of theirs named Charles who has been with his partner for eleven years. And even more amazing, we heard about another couple John and Leon are friends with who've been together for over twenty years. I don't know why exactly this amazes me so much. I guess because this whole concept of relationships is still new to me. And maybe I do buy into the idea that gay male relationships can't last. I'm reminded of a scene from the movie The Last Days of Disco in which one of the characters laments a "relentless pairing off" of people. (Of course, this character was also relentlessly seeking to pair off . . . ) What does all this pairing-off mean in the end?
Part of my uneasiness with all this is that we went to see John and Leon's new house. They are making that leap into settled-dom, having just bought their first house together, 30-year mortgages and all. And while it would be nice to have a home to call my own, there is still a part of me that can't see myself being centered in one place for the rest of my life. Having lived in four states in the past five years or so, the idea of living in one place seems almost claustrophobic to me. And maybe such a life isn't for me. Joe has raised the idea of a cross-country life (half a year in California, half a year on the East Coast somewhere) for us. Maybe this is more me . . .
I guess I still need to exorcise many demons of associating commitment with stagnancy and repression (to be with someone requires much compromise, as has often been stated, but for me that can easily regress into an effacing of my self, my interests).
Having acknowledged all these anxieties, I must reassure dear Joe that I am quite happy being with him. We've been together over two years now. Will we be like our friends in another couple of years? In a decade or two?
>> 8:26 AM
Sunday, October 15, 2000[Duke Gardens] yesterday afternoon, even though we've lived practically right next door to it for many months. The weather was, so to speak, perfect. After a few false-starts (there were lentils, spotted grey shirts, boyfriendly diversions, consulting of sources . . . ), we finally got out of the apartment around 3 pm. We took a stroll through the gardens and enjoyed the green stuff and the water. No ducks, though.
I mentioned going to [Duke Forest] in the future, but Joe was less than excited about rambling through a forest in the middle of Durham. If it were a [redwood forest], he said he would be interested because at least the vegetation and trees would be different. Poor baby, never seen a California forest of redwood trees . . . I guess I'll be trekking through the woods by myself.
Joe is the baby. The baby is Joe.
(By the way, Joyeeta, FEAR ME!! I got more film for my Joycam!)
>> 8:25 AM
Friday, October 13, 2000["Speaking Parts: Silence, language, and the Postcolonial Faggot"] by [Lawrence Chua]. In it, Chua makes a coherent argument about language and silence, the kind I was blindly grasping for [earlier]. Language and literacy are the groundwork for empowerment because the social world in which we live is expressed through that language. For Chua, language is the means by which one can combat ideologies that threaten to oppress, to silence, to erase. And yet, he recognizes that while these dominant ideologies often function through "silence"--they are so pervasive as to work tacitly in the very fabric of how we interact--silence is also the space of resistance. It is where people who are elided by dominant narratives exist. It is finally the place where someone like Chua gathers himself, "thinking of new ways to overthrow you."
I came across this essay while looking into Lawrence Chua's work. I am researching material to write a paper on modes of exchange in his novel [Gold by the Inch] for one of my classes. If you have any insights, [drop me a line]!
>> 9:54 PM
Had a nightmare last night. Can't remember what it was about exactly, but I do remember thinking how much like [Children of the Corn] it was. The weirdest thing is that I've never seen that movie. Then I was thinking that maybe it was because in the past couple of days, I read somewhere that [Nicholas Brendon], the actor who plays [Xander Harris] on [Buffy the Vampire Slayer], was in a Children of the Corn movie. But still, having a nightmare that reminded me of being chased through cornfields by sickle-wielding, adult-killing cultist children . . . where did that come from?
Coincidences? Shortly after I [posted] yesterday about The Trouble with Normal, I was eating lunch and watching TV when I heard mention of two new shows with "normal" in the title. One is called, oddly enough, [The Trouble with Normal]. The other is called [Normal, Ohio]. Neither seems particularly interesting, though. The Trouble with Normal seems to be yet another sitcom about neurotic urbanites who are "weird" in a way that reinforces the normality of other people. Normal, Ohio stars [John Goodman] as a gay dad. I'm a little troubled by reviews I've read that characterize this gay dad as a "normal" Midwesterner who just "happens" to be gay. . .
>> 9:18 AM
Thursday, October 12, 2000[class] last night and also my comment below about the "well-written" The New Republic has gotten me thinking again about articulateness and what that means socially. I have a hard time expressing my thoughts in words, but especially verbally in impromptu conversation. As a result, I know that I have a tendency to romanticize alternate (i.e. non-verbal, visual, or silent) expressions of meaning. I especially like silences. Can meaning reside in [lacunae] or caesuras?
This past spring in my [writing workshop], I wrote a short piece on [silence]. I think that there is a lot to be said about what isn't said. I'm reminded of the character Mala/Pohpoh in my favorite book, [Cereus Blooms at Night] by Shani Mootoo, a woman (Mala, not Shani) who gave up speech and social contact when the world seemed to have abandoned her in the clutches of an abusive father. For her, meaning resides finally outside the realm of human language in the realm of physical existence.
In any case, language is the currency of thought in most social contexts. But should being articulate, being able to express coherent thoughts, be the only measure of persuasiveness? If we can't put something into words, is it not worth thinking or doing? How else would we communicate, if not with words? I don't know . . . Even more strange, given my intimidation by words, is why I've decided to pursue a graduate degree in [English] or why I want to be a writer.
>> 11:12 AM
Bush's line on crime frighteningly reminds me so much of [Gary Becker's] thinking. Basically: criminals commit horrendous crimes of murder, rape, and robbery because they do not fear the legal consequences. If that's the case, wouldn't it be logical to make the death penalty a universal punishment for all crimes? As long as there is strict enforcement of such a law, then this should be the best way to deter crime. All I can say is whatever.
So how about the little bit about [hate crimes] and homosexual rights? I am so fed up with this catch-phrase "special rights" (reminds me of the "pro-life" of anti-abortionists) in referring to gay rights. What makes hate crime protection a special right? I don't believe that the worth of hate crime legislation is exactly in increasing punishment, but that there is something added in recognizing on a legal and social level crimes motivated by biases against differing race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. People like Bush consider such recognition "special rights" and hand-waving precisely because they refuse to believe that there is real prejudice on a social-structural level that is reflected in personal biases. The murderers of [James Byrd, Jr.] and [Matthew Shepard] did not act alone. Systems of racial and sexual/queer discrimination drove the murderers to their hatred as much as they themselves were responsible for their actions. This kind of thinking does not mean that I believe responsibility lies outside of the individual murderers, but that there is also responsibility for hate on a larger social scale. It is this level of hate that I believe hate crime legislation should and could combat.
As for the stuff about same-sex marriage, blah, I say! How can Bush even argue that he "respects" others and believes that everyone should have the "same" rights, not "special" rights, but then insist that marriage should be confined to the union of a man and a woman? A woman and a woman or a man and a man cannot therefore have the "same" rights of marriage--the legal recognition, privileges of hospital visitation in emergencies, rights to joint-custody of children, tax breaks, etc. (I shouldn't be lenient on Gore here since he believes the same thing.) But that's all besides the point. In most debates over same-sex marriage, people refuse to acknowledge that there is something "special" in the way the married heterosexual reproductive couple is treated. That's why I was particularly happy a few months ago to come across the work of [Michael Warner], in particular, his book [The Trouble with Normal]. In a chapter titled, "Beyond Gay Marriage," Warner takes to task the drive towards obtaining married-status for same-sex couples by national gay rights organizations. His argument is not so much in wanting to deny the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, but in a questioning of why those benefits should belong solely to couples, the nuclear family unit, and variations thereof. This is why I love [queerness].
Of interest also is Martha Nussbaum's ["Experiments in Living"], a review of Warner's The Trouble with Normal in the well-written conservative publication, The New Republic. I haven't gotten through the whole thing yet, but it's interesting to see how Nussbaum abstracts a politics of libertarianism from Warner's work. I guess we all see what we want to see.
>> 10:03 AM
Wednesday, October 11, 2000[consciousness]) . . .
But I suppose there is no [going back], is there?
>> 10:12 AM
>> 8:01 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2000[Buffy] tonight!
>> 9:06 AM
Yes Mommy, we blog.
>> 8:46 AM
Monday, October 09, 2000[the past]. It was a bit trying for me, though, because I had to meet up with large groups of people for dinners given the little time I had. I don't do well in big group situations (big group=more than 2 other people). I also have a hard time dealing with the noise in restaurants.
Saturday night I had a yummy dinner at a Korean restaurant called [Do Hwa] down by 7th Ave. and Carmine St. Must remember to get the red snapper entree there again in the future . . .
>> 10:30 AM
Vacation in the City allowed me the luxury of walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn like I used to do. It's a sad indication of how little I move without the aid of motorized vehicles these days when I woke up last Friday sore from walking around Manhattan. I am happy and refreshed from my visit, though, despite the grime that seeps into my skin and up my nose when I spend a lot of time in the streets. I am especially glad to have spent time with my sister who came down from Providence, RI, and my friend [FUZZY] who lives near where I used to live.
Thursday afternoon I flew into JFK airport, ["Where America Greets the World"], and then hopped on the A train to meet my sister at her hotel on 58th Street. She was staying at the Hudson Hotel, a newly opened hotel at 9th Ave. The hotel is very stylish and swarms of young, black-sweatered men act as doormen/porters/helpful staff.
I saw on Thursday [Dancer in the Dark], the musical directed by [Lars von Trier]. Like his [Breaking the Waves], Dancer in the Dark very skillfully and subtley emptied me of hopeful optimism and plunged me into bleakness. Is it fair that the movies I like, the ones I find to be the most stunning and viscerally affecting, are also ones I cannot bear to watch? Dancer in the Dark was for me a critical meditation on the tragic flaw of believing in the American Dream. The systems of the economy, cultural concerns, red-baiting, and gender-power differentials all work against Selma, the individual struggling for the Dream in her own, quiet way. [Björk], in the role of Selma, was amazing, drawing upon her unique voice to give her character a certain whimsy that made her tragedy all the more unbearable.
In any case, I was glad to have seen Dancer in the Dark. The next day, I saw [Yi Yi], a film by Edward Yang which has received much praise and coverage, appearing earlier at the [New York Film Festival] (as had Dancer in the Dark). This movie made me cringe as well, but for different reasons. It's not a film that I particularly like, at least not its intentions. As a movie of a middle-class Taiwanese family, it explored certain tensions of middle-class "comfort" and mid-life crises, but took an amazingly uncritical perspective on the way money works in the family's life or the way the sexes interact. Formally and structurally, though, the narrative was beautifully woven.
>> 9:27 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2000
>> 3:03 PM
>> 2:42 PM
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