Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Three Feet High and Rising, Or That Sinking Feeling

I have to start with a potentially annoying meta-thought about why I have titled this entry. I have to do this because my indecision in titling this entry serves as a metaphor for a general lack of certainty, which is what this whole entry is really about. So there's a clue.

I first wanted to write an entry titled "Three Feet High and Rising" because it is that time of year (spring) and I like that Johnny Cash song of the very same title. The other day I took a ride through the forest preserves near my dad's house and took a right and headed down the hill to pass under a bridge that I normally pass under while on this path and found that I couldn't because of this:

The path once sidled along the river there!

So that's the one half of the entry's title.

But then I started to do some mental feng shui with that title at the center of my mind's room and realized that when the river is rising and it's hard to see the rising but it's fascinating because you know what's coming and so you can't turn away because our natural desire to watch destruction (perverse, but true), and when you have "that sinking feeling," it is in fact nearly the same feeling. Even if the river is rising and your feeling is sinking. (Weird paradox there.) Both of these experiences say, "You know it's gonna happen but you can't do a thing about it."

There are two reasons why this pertains to the here and now.

1) The full thrall of Spring is on it's way and it will soon be whipping us out of our collective frozen stasis.

2) More importantly, I really enjoyed George Saunder's essay "The Braindead Microphone," an essay that covers our mass media and their collective ability to shut down compassionate and ethical reportage by drowning out any thoughtful voices like an idiot with a megaphone at a cocktail party of otherwise intelligent sentient beings. As much as I liked this essay, it, too, brought on this sense of not being able to do anything about something you know is happening and can't really do a damn thing about. In fact, if you were to try and struggle with it and really attack it and set your foot down and scream out boldly, "No more!" you'd have that feeling more than ever. That problem is of course the media and it's compulsion to entertain rather than inform and obfuscate instead of clarify. Saunders' whole argument stands on the premise that the media inundates us with bits of information so meaningless we feel stupid for not saying anything about its aptitude after recognizing how banal and useless it is. As a result of this, we give up our own thoughts because the status quo has eviscerated their relevance by shouting them to shreds. Brute force. This got me thinking...

3) (Yes, I know I only said two reasons earlier, but this is more of a continuation of #2 really anyways.) ...about how there are whole chunks of our personal time (and by this I mean the quality time that allows our internal lives to flourish) that get dedicated to equally numbing and meaningless tasks (and modern life has a boat load should you think you're going to sneak away), which steal away not only our minds, but by extension, our senses of selves. After all, if we are not voicing forth our minds, are not our minds--the very casks of our selves--in turn not pouring forth us to the world, to the very people we know and speak to intimately and cherish? This is a dark alley to go down, I admit, so get out your flashlight. Yet here we go: If then we accept that ourselves are not presented in their true form to the world, then aren't we also saying that we are not in fact free to be ourselves on some fundamental level?

Now you tell me, what's the better title for this entry?


On a completely unrelated note: now that Liverpool have defeated Arsenal in the Champions League on a fluke penalty call, Go Liverpool. First they must crack the robotics of Chelsea and with the soul and resiliency they showed yesterday against Arsenal, they should do it. Then they bust pick one of two more difficult and complicated locks, either Manchester United or Barcelona (hopefully the later as opposed to the former). Then the will have unlocked their rightful victory and their place at the top of Europe again, which for some mysterious reason, they keep achieving.

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