sky is deeper tonight, cab rides are endlessly long and instantly short. time elongates, and I am sitting here wondering and wandering.
in the shower last week I realized (or distilled) that much of this site right here is motivated by a desire to say something that is not simply the representative indicator of that-which-is-going-on-in-my-life, which is why I avoid writing about major events, birthdays, and so on. somewhere along the line I decided that this thing was an up-ender of orders; hence I am tempted to write about the that-which-provokes-me but not the things-which-strike-me-so-hard-lately, or things I think are important to me but not the things that so close as to hit me in the face. just-important-enough.
I remember reading in a book about astronomy about a telescope with a dark blind spot on the mirror. The dark spot was used to cover up really bright stars, so that the weaker stars in the vicinity of the bright star could be seen. this is that, maybe, the thing just-around-the-bend, right under the topsoil.
today eating banh mi alone there's this couple sitting next to me, and they look like they're on their second date or something. or maybe they're friends, but something about the banter is too casual and too unromantic to be friendly, as odd as that sounds. the girl's trying to talk about her ideas on liberal education and the guy says, "postmodern bullshit" with a friendly flirty smile, he says she's talking in "buzzwords", as if she's on a panel. without looking at her I feel her smile change, just slightly, but she's spunky and takes it in stride and changes the topic quickly, and that's the point at which I decide to leave.
later biking east along dean st I think about the word "buzzword", buzzword, and how something about it is sort of refreshing, the innards/mechanism of the signifier open for all to see. it is maybe especially signified-less. 'I say these things and they go nowhere, 'synergistic solutions' is all bark and no bite, corporate-speak, it is called, words that gloss over meanings, it is thought. but really here it's out in the open, it seems like it means something but we say that we know it doesn't, there's the propelling force of the sense-of-it-meaning-something (again, barthes' third meaning) without the underlying (supposed) destination. all it is is a vector, going that way. when we call it a buzzword we know it to be a vector only, and can watch its movement in flight without concerning ourselves too much with the bullseye, can describe how it flaps its wings, moves in air, changes trajectories, alignments, flows and grows and shrinks to become something else entirely. lines of flight, maybe.
the world cup makes me think lately of sports, and how the concept of sports is such a great response to the elementary fallacy of if-things-are-constructed-they-are-therefore-meaningless. there are vuvuzelas and there are canceled goals, but it's all in the game, so blame the referree, not the newtonian model of physics, blame the rule of offsides, not the constant of the speed of light. and so within this there is a certain joyousness to a collective agreement that arises out of a collective understanding. and this is so rare, so so rare, everyone agreeing to compete on the terms of this arbitrary game and going for it.
and it's perhaps this aspect of sports that is the great unifier, why the olympics has had a role as a peaceful worldwide event. nothing to do with the collective rooting for a single 'team' that reinforces demarcations, and thus the other ("go territory! go bounded region!"). rather, it's the collective understanding and acceptance of an arbitrary set of rules, the universal awareness of this set of agreements. we all agree to agree so we have set the ground upon which we disagree. it's this rarity I hope for and feel a euphoria in, when there's this under-unity, a sub-unity or sur-unity maybe, everyone not in agreement but in understanding of the terms of disagreement/agreement.
(and of course here comes ranciere: "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.")
last last week I got on the subway after 40 minutes of packed-platform waiting and shirt-flapping and sweating. finally the doors close and I sit down and open my book with a hundred other people when suddenly I feel the train lurch unnaturally like it's about to retch.a scream echoes throughout the station. the train stops, and I rip off my headphones and look up and see everyone with the same look, hundreds and eyes and mouths open, perfect circles, and instant expressions of comprehension and horror passing along everyone's face. instant, and everybody. there's no passed-out drunk, no gung-ho headphone guy, no chatting bangle-wearing girls, no readers, no sleepers. just a series of open eyes and mouths.
the train stops and the door opens and everyone floods out. someone's trapped between the train and the platform, pelvis and leg stuck in an impossibly thin gap. through an opening in the throng I see his hands moving faintly, silently. curls of hair covered with sweat, and a strangely glossy-wet darkish stain on the platform.
and so I go upstairs in a daze and share a cab with a girl whose entire body shakes when she laughs, and she laughs about the D train, and laughs about brooklyn, and laughs with empathy for the city and this guy. and so in a cab running over the brooklyn bridge, over water and under the moon, I think about how moving that image of horrified people was, how all of a sudden 'everyone was united'.
but above this all I think about this phrase I utter, "everyone was united", how much I treasure and cherish this fantasy image, and really really how much this is based on a fundamental pessimism for such unity -- or rather a fundamental belief that things let go as they do, letting the chips "fall as they may", results in this absolute heterogeneity, a multiplicity of people never fully unified. never coming together.
two weeks ago at a party I spent hanging out with my next-door neighbor g who talked about wanting a utopia, "a utopia without locks or gates". instantly it was the distillation of drink and friends and playing host with a two-way-keyed-door that I realized (and said so) that that doesn't happen; there is a utopia with gates and an atopia without locks. the central thesis of a utopia is to have a selected group of people, or a homogeneous culture, or a bounded heterogeneity which is really a clearing of homogeneity, and to have such a thesis. the thesis survives by its opposition against the non-thesis, to be a firm wall, to say something and to have directionality. saying 'something' is to say "this, but not this". and as such the thesis-like-utopia without saying 'not-this' is like having art without a jury, language without a grammar, a game without rules. which is not to say that these things should not happen -- quite the contrary -- it's just that the 'constraints' of the things are in fact the constitutive conditions of its creation. art isn't selected, selection makes art.
heterogeneity and utopia at odds with each other. or: freedom and security. the challenge is to draw the line somewhere, because the absence of a line within a society is a hobbesian state of nature, or anarchy. the tightening of a line is the creation of reduced liberties and a stronger utopia-thesis (at the expense of those who are excluded outside this line). within a government, the question is not of strategy, but of its application.
is this too dualizing? there has got to be some other way of thinking about this other than another boundary. and again of course this boundary is not hard but is a boundary layer, more like, a gradient where there are no differences between grays but there is a distinction between white and black, red and green, yellow and blue. and so on.
anyways. back to this all. banh mi, eating, liberal education, buzzwords, so on. after this all I pedal on this bike whistling some song by broken bells thinking about cab rides and airports, and I want to say, guy with short cropped hair and the piercing sardonic voice, words are all buzzwords, everything is all vector and buzzword, I am on bike going somewhere, late june zipping towards july zipping towards august towards september, destinations defined at the start but created in the process, the movement itself the constitutive conditions of its creation, so to speak. so to speak.