words written in the week of
November 17th to November 23rd
in previous years.
This was 9 years, 5 months, 20 days ago

imagine: a cone radiating from a person's face, with an angle of about 120 degrees, stretching infinitely far, so that whenever someone moves their head to scan the street for passing cars, say, the far ends of the cone sweeps speed-of-light-rapidly along buildings, people, skies, scapes, windows, trees, to rest on a series of cars, and back.


as I say to D on a Friday night; as P says three years ago. one of the most valuable lessons is to become internalized, to walk with yourself, to do the things that you need to do. "what you should do" dissolves in the broth alongside "time" and "resources" and "surrounding people", and when you skim something off the top and place it in the compost bin to become the raw energy for some other venture, what's left is the pot is an entirely different mixture neither less of a part or more than "shoulds", and in fact a purely alchemic, synthesized creation, maybe. something along the lines of: how does the work make you move? when faced with your own fascinations, in which direction do you go? imagine: that cartoon scene of laying-down-tracks-as-you-go, perpetually on rails and creating the conditions of those rails, all at once.

or in other words: I realize more and more that I am happier doing the things that call to me. this is a statement that is the sublimated endpoint of a visceral realization, so it will always fall flat and/or in relation to the reader. like saying: "travel is important", which is one of those phrases that especially condense a million different things into a single phrase that actively creates a wide spread of conflicting / dissenting opinions, rather than consensus, as one normally thinks language would do.


as another point. how do I explain the things that I think about? currently there are perhaps only a handful of people I could feel on stable ground to elucidate my own worldview and then to discuss with it. actor-network theory mixed with oop / anti-oop paradigms of programming mixed with this visceral marxist-influenced sensation that everything is made out of human labor + unstable, stochastic, unpredictable processes (neither "natural" or "man-made", more like 'emergent'), and so that law, theory, these things are commodity-oriented understandings of knowing how the world works that assume a stable subject, given realities, that right now heuristics (military, computer programming, christopher alexander-esque patterns) seems to be away out, that marxist labor too needs to be rethought in terms of an effort-oriented paradigm. that all tools and functions are simply objects that perform a certain function, evaluated historically and then given a name based on the closest function that it performs. What is a knife? a knife is an object that most often is used / is easily used to / is understood to perform the act of cutting.


nothing is square, no surfaces are planar, no timelines are linear, time approaches you at different densities, no actors really have singular values. apples are only comparable to apples after they've completed a series of steps, many of them involving insurance policies mitigating risk, standardized agricultural growing methods and sorting methods that create normative sizes/types of apples, regular and reliable supply chains and delivery mechanisms, and finally, the creation of an constantly consistent (money) commodity on the other side that can meet apple A and apple B. Axomatically an dollar is always worth a dollar, so if Apple A is worth a dollar, and if apple B is worth a dollar, then apple A becomes fungible with apple B.

Or: if a piece of metal with a certain profile and shape is often used to cut and spread a piece of butter, then it becomes often called a butter knife. My credit card may as easily cut and spread a piece of butter. A wood file may as easily create cheese shavings as well as wood shavings: see Microplane. These things become called 'innovations'.

on the internet and across boardrooms everywhere: someone asks: what kind of innovations are there? cue the 14-point taxonomy of innovations, etc. but if one understands "the knife" to be a term retroactively applying a performance onto a piece of material object, then what do you answer when someone asks "what kind of knives exist in the world?" what does a knife look like? what does an object that often performs certain cutting functions look like? what things can cut?

a knife is easier, because sharpness appears to be a physical characteristic - but really, it's a relative evaluation between two objects, like the mohr scale of hardness. the question is always, "sharp in relation to what?" the postfix "-ness" naturalizes everything that it touches to an innate characteristic.

so. the question of a knife would be: in relation to what? "what does a knife that cuts butter look like?"

and then the evaluation of butter: what makes it cleave apart, change, what operations could be done onto it that would make [one formal pat of butter] => ??? => [two pats of butter]? temperature, thinness of knife relative to butter, etc. a thin surface or line. something hot. a hot wire. heated butter knifes, wire cutter, heated wire cutters. a knife, in relation to butter.


yet something doesn't yet quite sit well with this evaluation, either. are all tools in relation to a specific result? yes. how specific do you get a tool? if it can cut butter, can it cut clay? tofu? steak? one of those things is not like the other. how do you understand how many things something can cut? on one hand you accept the tool as created out of a relationship with another object that it acts upon. on the other hand you try or attempt to have it affect multiple things at once.

what is inverse of dali's paranoiac-criticality? the abject non-linkage of everything entirely. if one abandons taxonomy (as one should, in my opinion) and pursues networks, groups, black boxes, momentary abstractions, encapsulation (ala OOP), then when are things every linked? all networks analyzed according to shared identities. "after all, we all agree on the definition of an apple." but what for you is an apple may be, for the biologist, the physicist, the grocer, the supply chain manager, the commodities trader, the insurance risk evaluator, the doctor, the cook: a fleshy ovary containing seeds, an inspiration for gravity, a commodity, a unit of flow, a unit of trade, a percentage of spoilage, a dietary supplement, a culinary ingredient.


so there's more. how more is the world constituted? what are its other structures?


back to direction, orientation. movement. one does what one does. sometimes this appears to be withdrawal. other times this tastes like pursuit. one can only hope that the activity of one's being is to emerge out of a cavern, kid covered with dirt and shit and shining sludge, to proudly share the results of one's discovery: a specifically interesting rock, or a snail with an interesting shell. both discovery and sharing originating out of one's own delight. the enthusiastic or neutral or feigned-interest of reception ("hm, very interesting.") be damned. nothing happens when you're not covered in sludge, digging for yourself.

This was 12 years, 5 months, 23 days ago

in the end it's just people, collections of people, or collections of people believing themselves to be more than just a collection. the shell of an accumulation solidified into something else, like the curvature of paper-mache after the balloon inside's been popped.

and I say it as if it is a hopeful thing, or at least something to depend on, but I cannot tell, I am not sure, I am not sure if that brings with it more hope or optimism or joy, or if it means plunging into the sea of immanent activity, "everything on this level", inescapable participation. inescapable, because I myself am a person, and because I have my own relationship to myself that is not just "me thinking", it is "me thinking about myself", and from that it all starts, I have enough to create a little society of one. and if she joins, he joins, you join, then here we go!

faced with the visceral-tangible-sticky I find myself resorting to novels. I watch as the city changes in front of me, rearranges its paths, snaps out of place. well-worn routes have weeds growing in them. my body learns the heights of new buildings, learns how to flow by other buildings in a state of distraction, the back of my head, the skin on my arm, the heel of my foot altogether absorbing in this new neighborhood, terrain, atmosphere, sentiment, emotion, timbre.

This was 13 years, 5 months, 20 days ago


This was 13 years, 5 months, 21 days ago

fennesz, transit


I'm in Brooklyn, or its subterranean arteries, and everything wavers and trembles as I blink my eyes. The sleeping kid in a suit across me has been replaced by a girl watching something on her phone and laughing about it. I'm not sure where I'm going until I slowly start to wake up more and I look out the train window and realize I'm two stops from home, already, manhattan's lower half having-passed-me-by.


and then: like being woken up by the sunrise in a train, like looking at your own hand in wonder, that gesture. openmouthed, maybe. tea bags blooming crimson in mugs, gently moored by their strings, drifting in hot water, circling, hovering, rotating, tumbling.

This was 14 years, 5 months, 16 days ago

it's funny, this feeling that keeps me, this tension, this sideways sliding, this reaching elsewhere. it is nice at this point.

stomp your feed and say words in sincerity, etc.

it's too easy to be cryptic and have that be a workable aesthetic. what has, uh, 8+ years of this blog shit taught me if not this? if not this?

This was 15 years, 5 months, 17 days ago

mental block. time to go to sleep.

This was 15 years, 5 months, 20 days ago

lately: distracted, restless, vibrating. like my presence shifts from here to off-here, not quite snapping into place, oscillating side-to-side like a tuning fork.

presence? truth? solidity? these second-guessings, this eternal guardedness proves to be paralyzing, paralyzing.

there is always value to be had in creating something over sitting back and enjoying that something which is created.

always? always?

a week ago I was dreaming, delirious, woke up in the dim light of my blinded-shuttered room uncertain what time it was. the clock across the room was covered by a sweater tossed on it. in a flash of ingenuity I went to sleep, googled 'time in new york', and through this oneiric haze saw the resulting letters announce "11:30am". waking up I threw off this sweater to a red-eyed clock that told me it was nine instead.

I watched synecdoche, new york this weekend.

I wanted to like it, I really did. Instead I was struck by the series of points at which there were a series of specifically orchestrated moments, in which the camera would zoom in, closeup face shot, low depth of field, jon brion's light piano chords touching into the scene, saying this is important -- pay attention to me. I am trying to say something important. The comedic touches throughout could have been great -- but for some reason they fell too far, laughter for the sake of laughter. In the end I left the theater wondering if Charlie Kaufman actually wanted me to have a sort of urgency and desperation, or if this half-flippant, eventually unidentifiable association with mr. cotard was really what he wanted me to have.

I guess what strikes me more was how each of the characters really felt transparent, as fleshed out as characters you perceive only as characters would be; each time anyone spoke we understood this all to be Cotard's thoughts, or even Kaufman's. If the film stood for anything it was to get to this message that Kaufman wished to say; or rather, the film presented this notion of 'nuggetry', a flimsy veneer designed to be seen through, the allure of a hidden truth which one must find in an archeological expedition of thought and mulling-over you might take, maybe alone, watching the credits scroll, or maybe while walking with friends back to the subway station. If there's something to be had, the movie says, it's my secret which you should think about afterward. Unlock me. And I'm trying to do that, so, so.

If I want to end whatever I write with a quote it's because quotes solidify, they anchor things down, they say somebody else wrote this so this has legitimacy; pay attention to this, notice this. In a way, it's self deprecating, like if you introduced yourself saying, my name is Dan Taeyoung Lee, and I'm a friend of the famous celebrity Bobby Smith. Legitimacy on the basis that you refer to somebody else. According to well-respected X, a is true, and so therefore he/she backs my opinion up.

So here's a quote from myself. I wrote this in response to someone's question about a certain philosophy book being 'legitimate':

When you ask "is it legitimate", you're really asking one of these things:

a) Does it make sense?
In other words, are there any serious logical fallacies? Does it misquote authors? Does it read like the writing of a relatively coherent, logical person rather than the rantings of a madman?

b) Is it properly applicable?
Does it help me, as philosophy? Does it make sense and fit into my worldview? Do I agree?

c) Is it accepted by the general philosophical discourse?
Is it taught in universities? Do other philosophers debate with or base their work off of him? Are papers about him published in philosophical journals?

For A, I don't mean "is he wrong in his deductions", I mean, is he blabbing out loud? Is he totally off his rocker? Clearly, he isn't. Let's strike that off the list.*

B: this is a completely personal thing, so legitimacy doesn't really enter into the equation. You'd say that a massage was legitimate in some way or another if you felt relaxed and less tense afterward, but you'd also understand if it didn't work on someone else for some reason. Whatever.

C's really the clincher here. Is it legitimate == Is it accepted? What we consider legitimate is only legitimate in so far as it's been validated by a community -- the philosophical community, at large.

Here's a good example. Comic books often aren't considered "legitimate" literature because the literary community (both academic and not) doesn't consider them literature. They're very very rarely studied and analyzed academically, except from an anthropology/sociology/cultural studies angle. Comics aren't considered literature not because they're not emotional, meaningful, original, ingenious -- some of them are -- it's because they don't have any "literary value", and that's because "literary value" is defined by the shared qualities that a certain arbitrary group of works (literature) has.

It's like, say, stumbling upon a plant and saying, "That's not a weed -- that doesn't look like other weeds, it isn't at all around the same height and shape and color as other weeds!" But really -- the definition of a weed is simply a plant you don't want. And to not recognize this process of definition based on an arbitrary criterion -- desire -- would lead to wrong conclusions in regards to what is or is not a weed.

Clearly I'm not equating literature and weeds. What I mean is that the question of legitimacy runs the same way -- It's legitimate because a large community of people consider it legitimate, not because it has certain values or characteristics. The criterion of legitimacy is respect, or more accurately 'communal respect'.

And respect, too, is tricky -- respect from whom? how? It's possible that the philosophical community loves this writer, and most casual readers hate him. In this case, then, he is a legitimate philosopher within philosophy, and a crackpot/fraud to everyone else. But the matter is that academic communities hold sway and power over the general community, so the general community might take him as a philosopher, albeit a really bad one. There are these power dynamics, always.

So, then the next question would be -- is it respected, and if so, which communities is it respected by? Is it respected by the philosophical community?

Those are separate questions that I can't answer very well.

*and even more accurately, "blabbling out loud" and "totally off your rocker" are also defined relatively in terms of a language, or in terms of a majority discourse which determines what is language and what is not language. I shall quote(!) Ranciere and his definition of 'disagreement' as the basis of all political activity:

Disagreement is a determined kind of speech situation: one in which one of the interlocutors at once understands and does not understand what the other is saying. Disagreement is not the conflict between one who says white and another who says black. It is the conflict between one who says white and another who also says white but does not understand the same thing by it or does not understand that the other is saying the same thing in the name of whiteness.

And so notions of "blabbing" and "crazy" are shifting, sliding, no longer possibly existing on any sort of foundational argument for "outside the realm of coherent meaning". I contradict myself by quoting someone else. I go to sleep now, at 3:39am.