This was 7 years, 4 months, 25 days ago

On the news I read about Gaza, and rockets, and UN schools being bombed, and how Hamas is firing rockets in residential areas. I remember driving in a car with _______ (oh how my memory fails me) and him slowing down near a hill around Ramallah, and suddenly pointing a finger forward at a shimmering sliver of silver in the distance: "There's a saying that goes: this country is smaller than a scorpion's dick. That's the Mediterranean sea over there, barely 50 kilometers away."

And I read about Hamas firing rockets in residential areas, and the primary secondary tertiary quaternary arguments that ripple out with always-skewed evidence and language, and I think of that landscape, and I wonder what Gaza looks like, how it feels to walk its streets, whether it is cramped, whether such a thing as a crosswalk exists.

Biking westward on Flushing Ave. earlier today I feel suddenly anguished at the impossibility of communicating experiences. Or -- that experiences are never really objects or entities or discrete phenomena that you can exchange and hand over; they're more like alchemic creations, chemical reactions, baking soda and vinegar or something a little bit more extreme on the ph scale foaming and fizzing over, always involving a pinch of the world and a dash of the self, always constantly in relation to one's own being. Around this we have a series of bad words, shitty words like "road" or "door" or "crosswalk" that fail so hard that they actually stand up and become sovereign entities themselves, demi-gods, incantations become material and affecting the world in strange, unpredictable ways.

Maybe this is India having its way with me. After crossing streets there, how do I talk about streets and crosswalks? When I say "street" or "highway", 1) how do I know what you mean, 2) how I know whether or not you know how different our meanings can be? I mean, yeah, signifier vs. signified, semiotics, sure, but this goes a little beyond that I think; this goes to the heart of networks (Latour's worknets) and how one grasps any part of it and clutches it into a first and gives it a name to share with the world. Or to be less vague: You say "street", but do you mean a tree-lined streets? With cobblestones? Do you mean the kind of street that exists when you're 18 and kind of creeped-out and exhilarated by NYC? Or the street that you walk on during dusk that's a dirt road walking by opulent diplomatic residences barely a hour's drive from the Mediterranean Sea? Or the winding street of some little hamlet-like valley village in Korea where your family will go to stay at some inn, full of waggy-tongued stray dogs and dimly lit convenience stores?

When they say, 'Hamas is using civilians as shelter by firing rockets in a residential zone', I want to see the inside of your home, your neighborhood; I want to know how you grew up, what kinds of cars you drove to the nearby supermarket to pick up groceries, how you got on the metro, what relationships you have to parking lots, highways, streets, and space. Do you live in the country, where houses are separated by acres and acres of land? Are you in a newly renovated Manhattan apartment somewhere with aluminum appliances and a new corian countertop? Do you live in a house in the suburbs, with bus service that could always be better? When is the last time you got lost?

The usual metaphor for the universe expanding is a polka-dotted balloon being blown up and the distance between dots slowly expanding. Maybe some version of this happens as time passes and my own universe expands, as experiences become more distinct, more sharp. Experiences translate into translatable/understandable tastes that one can use to summon or sympathize with an external, foreign encounter: "Oh, this is like that time I was there". At the same time, the more experiences I accumulate, the more differentiation happens, and the more the gaps between experiences become apparent. One experience becomes a source of empathy for every experience. A million experiences becomes a field of distinct moments, each never quite approximating or being close to a single one. This isn't some 'paradox of choice' argument but rather the inevitable dilemma of being acutely aware of how differed and varying the world can be.

Long story short: all experiences seem incommensurable, incommunicable other than through a series of metaphors, analogies, skew lines being tied together by the spidery thread of "___ is like ___".

--

1) It is you with your projects and your motion, I will say to myself in the future, it is rolling ahead and movement.

2) The common cry of "I want to work for myself" really translates into directly a kind of political power, since not everyone gets to work for themselves, or not everyone gets what they want in a society, so the workings-out of allocating "not-getting-what-one-wants", or unfulfillment, becomes a game of resource allocation -- in this case, debt-distribution. Where does debt slide around to? Who holds the hot potato? I want to work for myself, or with collaborators, on projects, I will assert cheerfully and calmly, and I have been, so for that I am blessed, and now I understand to good extent how much political power it takes to achieve that state of being.

3) By 'political power' I don't mean much and I mean everything, in the way that a crosswalk in NYC or in India means very little in regards to one's conception of where one should cross, and so the question of "crossing-the-street" and its relationship with "crosswalks" is a tricky one not because the former is always 'transgressing' the latter, but because the latter is just a feeble desire to be ignored, aligned with, rejected, acceded to, etc.

By political power I mean more like relational issues; everything is relations, a knot of relations, all things are mass of agreements, explicit structures, implicit dynamics, rulesets, etc. It may be that the emergent properties of incentives amidst scarcity spawns an agent-based simulation; it may be that certain agent-based simulations generate behaviors that appear like flocking, oscillation, stability, instability. If I look at flocking or avoidance behaviors in a group of simulate birds and think, "oh, the politics of flocking", this would be a little myopic; if I look at incentives and scarcity and think, "oh, the politics of resources" this would be a little over-analytic, reading something from everything.

Politics is a bad word. Let's say, agent-based behavior.

Agent-based behavior is everywhere, that is, if you have agents; there are movements, dynamics, directed graphs, following movements, gravity, there are things like Katz centralities, eigenvector centralities, betweenness and connectivity measures. Nature is full of agent-based behaviors, and highways, and everything, all of these things.

Horizontal assemblies with collaborative decision-making processes attempt to distribute unfulfillment equally, because unfulfillment is often initially distributed unequally (privilege), but is sometimes a problem when unfulfillment is actively generated by a few, which is bad, because unfulfillment is not a zero-sum game, so it is possible for two people to be more unfulfilled and discontent in a negotiation than they started out with. Of course, the opposite is also the case.