I drove into San Antonio earlier this afternoon to run an errand at my bank. I live in Boerne which is roughly 30 miles north of SA along I-10, though when I make the trip I usually take the backroads, it might be slightly longer, and in part because the traffic on I-10 between Boerne and SA is ridiculous, and there is a considerable amount of construction along the entirety of the route, and the surrounding area is one of the fastest growing in the nation. So, the backroads are nice. The road is surrounded still by Oak and Cedar. I listen to-, and sing along with music from the moment I get into my car to the moment I step out. This afternoon I put on a playlist that I haven’t listened to in a while. It was a nice drive.
After my errand I stopped by Half Price Books at The Strand in/or near Huebner Oaks. I often make that stop before taking the trip home. If there is anything I need to pick up for my store I will and I’ll browse the bookshelves for new arrivals, and hopefully a signed copy or a first edition that one of the employees missed that will fit nicely into my collection or I’ll upload to the website, and I’ll browse the DVD’s just in case something catches my eye, but more often than not I leave empty handed. There is also a cute dark haired woman that I occasionally make an effort to speak with. I left empty handed today.
I continued home, and took a little detour out of my way to get back onto the backroads to Boerne, and I finished my playlist on the way. The last song that played was Convenience Stores by Buddy Wakefield which is actually spoken word, it’s “slam poetry.” The playlist ended about two miles from my house. I decided not to listen to anything else. Instead I sat in silence. As I was sitting at the last light before turning on to my street and heading home my mind wandered slightly, and I was enveloped with a thought that I have had, on occasion, when lying in bed waiting for sleep, and that thought was followed, per usual, with me wishing that I would remember this, and ideas similar to this, while I’m wide awake in the middle of the day, only the thought that followed this afternoon was slightly different because I was, in fact, remembering this while I was wide awake, in the middle of the day. I realized that it was contributed largely to the fact that I was sitting in silence, with the exception of the ambient noises of the world, outside the car. We all wish that we would remember various thoughts that pass through our minds late at night while falling asleep. Buddy Wakefield, in point of fact, has a great line in his poem Information Man that reads:
“I know there are times when you will lay your head to rest and have a moment of brilliance that will grow into a perfect order o words, but you will fall asleep instead of painting in down on paper. When you wake up you will have forgotten the idea completely, and miss it, like a front tooth, but, at least, you know how to recognize moments of brilliance, because even at your worst you are f&$king incredible. It comes, honest.”
All of our thoughts, and our ideas, our perfect order of words that we have a desire to hold on to are all still there, rattling around in our heads, but how often—really—do we sit in silence, allowing them to resurface? In a complete and repose stillness without the slightest expectation. I was sitting at the light looking through the window and I was not thinking, no I was listening, and not to anything in particular: I was listening to the sound of the air conditioner which I rarely hear, and how the sound of the air changed as it was introduced to the fabrics of my shirt and the seat that I was resting on, I was noticing the different shades of green in the grass near the intersection, and in my mind I pictured the area devoured in construction as it had been only a few months earlier. In the silence I heard my thought almost as if I was consciously intruding on a conversation with my subconscious and a passing energy, I heard the thought as if eaves dropping on a nearby conversation and entering it midway through, and then I became completely conscious of it.
I suppose you could call it a form of meditation.
That reminds me—bear with me this short tangent—there has been a video recently of Russell Brand practicing Kundalini Yoga, and specifically the Ego Eradicator pose, I have always found yoga to be physical and mentally rewarding, however while Brand was teaching and then practicing Breath of Fire, a breathing technique, and I was mirroring the exercise I could not shake the thought of how unnatural Breath of Fire [breathing] actually was, how can anything that requires an unnatural processes of breathing be anything more than superficially enlightening or beneficial? I’m sure there are a number of people that will blindly argue the point without really thinking about it, but it’s important, I think, to not lose sight of why we meditate or practice yoga, we do not do this simply for the sake of doing, and yoga really is not a “way of life.” We practice yoga and meditation in order to better understand and relate to ourselves, and to our world. It seems apparent to me that somewhere along the way many people have forgotten that, it is incredible important to be conscious about the balance we maintain of our body, our heart, and our mind.
Fortunately, and in point of fact, the problem is the same regarding our attitude towards silence, and not that we are deliberately avoiding it (though I’m sure some folks are), I believe that the simple truth is that we are no longer conscious of the consistency of a resounding noise. I do think about it occasionally, but as Kenny Loggins puts it:
“You say you’re aware, believe, and you care, but do you care enough? To talk with conviction of the heart?”
I’m as guilty of it as anyone. As I said myself, “from the moment I get into my car to the moment I step out” I’m listening to-, and singing along with music. Even now, as I write this, I have Pandora playing my St. Thomas playlist—Sean Watkins’ Starve Them to Death at the moment—nevertheless I believe that there are layers of issues that we’re consumed by, and I know it’s impossible to turn on the radio, or television, or social media or to even get groceries without hearing about-, or being reminded of our inherent problems, and how every day it seems like another revolution claims to understand the root of our problems. And, perhaps, in some ways, the constant noise makes it easier to drown all of that out, the irony of course is that if you cannot live in silence you’re always going to have to fill that space with something, maybe at night, while your mind wonders, you’ll tell yourself to try to remember, tomorrow, the sound of silence.
Those of you whom follow my blog likely recognize that I am fascinated by human behavior. The way that we interact with one another; what we communicate; what we choose not to communicate; how we communicate; how we choose to perceive others, and why? Every one of our interactions and the people that we disregard and befriend and fall in love with all of it is based entirely in the foundation of a simple choice: whether we want the good to outweigh the bad in our perceptions of another, or not. As our various relationships develop more seriously we do begin to focus on how the behaviors of another might affect our own, and whether or not a person is more likely to bring the good out in us than the bad, however by that point we more often than not have established an intellectually abiding perspective of a person that will only be intermittently affected by how we might sometimes feel.
Most people do not recognize our interactions—whether positive or negative—to be a cognizant choice, we have a tendency to acknowledge the insight that our emotions offer without really understanding why we might feel a certain way about something, or someone. In essence few of us are capable of consciously acknowledging our emotions and the affect that they might have on us—our emotions are not built-in sages or an oracle subliminally ushering us through life’s incalculable isles leading us towards one’s eventual, and metaphorical ‘seat,’ as many of us innocently accept. Our emotions are only, and quite simply emotions and they are as easily influenced by our experiences as our political affiliations or a propelling intrinsic desire to play golf after you retire (regardless of the fact that you’ve always hated it).
I suppose this thought is why it is recommended to try to avoid worrying about whatever it might be that people think of you. It’s such an encompassing rabbit hole. Perhaps there is a healthy medium somewhere in the middle, and no, no I do not, by any means, mean to imply that you should find its moderation, I cannot stand the idea—there is a terribly fine line between moderation, what some might call reason, and inherent objectivism—don’t lost yourself to “the middle.” Unless, it’s the middle-of-nowhere in which case I’ll meet you somewhere in the middle.
I do think about what people might be thinking about me; or, more to a point, what people might be saying about me. Although I do not necessarily worry. And I do not think that you can overthink something as long as you preserve direction. However there is a pygmy of a setting located an inch or so below my solar plexus that revels in frustration over the thoughtlessness of a person negatively influencing my reputation over misconceptions, or anyone for that matter. I cannot stand listening to people engage in pointless banter about the hypothetical's of another's situations without the direct acknowledgment or rebuttal of said person. The negative influence is proliferated by means of the ripple effect that outlasts a collective, and truth, as well as time. I believe that it is immanently and intellectually irresponsible.
There are a handful of accounts throughout my life that I do kind of dwell on, none of which were considerably impactful these accounts were nothing more than events which I have accrued over the years like any other, but for one reason or another there are a few that have stuck with me. The senselessness of the preoccupation is irrefutable, and I know this because I have, at one time or another, returned to them intently to reconcile, if you will, the matter. And, more often than not each account reveals itself inasmuch the way that the following unfolded:
“So, several years back now, and I mean like many, many years ago you asked me if I would like a few of the Goosebumps books for Christmas; at the time I was reading them, and you were very excited, like you had put some thought and effort into this. And, for reasons that I still cannot understand, my response was, “I like Goosebumps, but I’m not sure that they would be, like, a good Christmas present. You know?” I’m not really sure what that even meant. And you just burst out crying. I felt so bad. I have felt bad about it since then, I still feel bad, and I’ve thought about that multiple times every year for the last 25 years, at least. Do you remember that?" ... "Nope.”
The most recent of my accounts that will likely haunt me for many years to come is slightly different and when it comes to mind I physically shake my head, as if to say “Geezus f@%$ing Christ what the hell is wrong with you [me]!” I had a pair of friends not too long ago, and I fell unabashedly in love with one of them, though she was—and shall forever remain—inconveniently unavailable. Throughout the course of a particular happenstance I had either succumb to jealousy or was plagued by an unfortunate knowing about a new friendly party to us all—or it was quite possibly a mish-mash of the two—and I made quite the ass of myself, however I did venture to redeem myself, and was fairly successful until, that is, one evening when I boomingly exemplified each and every negative characteristic that I had accused our new friendly party of. The characterization was almost artful, as if I was intentionally wisping myself away like a leaf in the wind, blithely making myself irrelevant in a single flourishing display of indifference. But, of course, what I was really guilty of was overcompensating, which is something that I occasionally do when I feel something—an emotion—that I am momentarily unable to recognize, or that I am suspicious of. The inconvenient love began to ignore me after that, and shortly after the pair adventured towards new and pageant things. To be quite honest I’m not entirely sure that-that is why she stopped talking to me, but it seemed a reasonable inference to me, and furthermore it has contributed, like many things before, to developing a better and socially unique understanding of my emotions.
And, now to bring this insight full circle: I suggested before that our emotions are not some kind sage-like oracle providing angelic guidance from…wherever, but, I don’t know, maybe that’s not entirely true—however I would posit that unless you are capable of acknowledging and recognizing your emotions they will be more likely to lead you blithely into irrelevance than they will inspire some artistic and creative means to channel our inner hole-in-one.
David Foster Wallace; Gregory David Roberts; Denis Johnson; Richard Powers; Haruki Murakami; Tom Robbins; Orhan Pamuk; Umberto Eco; Italo Calvino; Michael Chabon; Roberto Bolaño; Joseph Heller; Lydia Millet; Walker Percy; Karen Russell; Earnest Hemingway; Donna Tartt; Toni Morrison; Jonathan Carroll; Ha Jin; Don DeLillo; Sam Shepard; James Meek; Daniel Woodrell; Jose Saramago; Ayn Rand; Harper Lee; Truman Capote; Bob Shacochis; Robert Olmstead; Patrick McGrath; James Salter; Patrick DeWitt; Emily Brontë; Günter Grass; Mark Helprin; Will Self; Larry Watson; Peter Matthiessen; Jonathan Lethem; Milan Kundera; Philip Roth; V.S. Naipaul; Colm Tóibín; A. S. Byatt; Richard Ford; George R. R. Martin; W. G. Sebald; Russell Banks; Yukio Mishima; Tom Wolfe; Junot Diaz; Thomas Pynchon; Michael Crichton; Luis Alberto Urrea; David Mitchell; Richard Bradford; George Saunders; Mario Puzo; Emma Donoghue; William Least Heat Moon; Nick Hornby; Kenzaburō Ōe; Elmore Leonard; Aldous Huxley; Henry Miller; Leslie Marmon Silko; Richard Wright; Margaret Atwood; Richard Stark; Edgar Rice Burroughs; Neil Gaiman; John Nichols; Louise Erdrich; George Orwell; Rebecca Solnit; Kurt Vonnegut; Edward Abbey; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Thomas L. Friedman; J. D. Salinger; Cara Black; Rachel Kushner; Salman Rushdie; Douglas Adams; J. R. R. Tolkien; Jonathan Franzen; Cormac McCarthy; Rick Bass; Susan Sontag; Michio Kaku; Sebastian Junger; Charles Dickens; John Steinbeck; Vladimir Nabokov; Alexie Sherman; Dave Eggers; Charles Portis; William S. Burroughs; William Faulkner; Jorge Luis Borges; Sapphire; Thomas Mann; Robert Mayer; Saul Bellow; J. K. Rowling; Franz Kafka; Rohinton Mistry; Roald Dahl; Thomas Harris; Gore Vidal; Thomas Wolfe; Sylvia Plath; Julian Barnes; Isaac Bashevis Singer; John Green; Leo Tolstoy; Raymond Chandler; Marcel Proust; Upton Sinclair; Mark Kurlansky; James Thurber; William Boyd; Hilary Mantel; Zadie Smith; Abraham Verghese; Jhumpa Lahiri; Shiva Naipaul; Jacqueline Woodson; Wallace Stegner; John Banville; Mark Z. Danielewski; Maya Angelou; Naguib Mahfouz; Manil Suri; Khaled Hosseini; Jonathan Safran Foer; Richard Bach; Peter Taylor; Rick Riordan; Iris Murdoch; John Updike; Boris Pasternak; Markus Zusak; Isaac Asimov; Hampton Sides; Stephen King; Daniel Defoe; Natsume Sōseki; James Joyce; Hunter S. Thompson; Fyodor Dostoyevsky; H. G. Wells; Mark Twain; Bill Bryson; Malcom Gladwell; Erik Larson; Oliver Sacks; Lewis Carroll; Daniel Wallace; Ivan Doig; Andrew Miller; Frank Herbert; P. L. Travers; William Wharton; Ian Fleming; Patrick Rothfuss; William DeBuys; Alan Moorehead; Dashiell Hammett; Isak Dinesen; Simon Winchester; Joseph Conrad; John Kennedy Toole; Susanna Clarke; Willy Vlautin; T. H. White; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Patricia Highsmith; Ray Bradbury; Christopher Moore; Gary Snyder; Thomas Hardy; William Shakespeare; Alexandre Dumas; Jess Walter; Victor LaValle; Barry Unsworth; Ian McEwan; Chuck Palahniuk; John Irving; Anthony Burgess; Ken Kesey; Vikram Seth; E. B. White; Lydia Peelle; Jane Austen; Arthur Conan Doyle; Agatha Christie; Henry James; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Herman Melville; Edgar Allen Poe; Charlotte Brontë; Rudyard Kipling; Mary Shelley; Oscar Wilde; Louisa May Alcott; T.S. Elliot; Jules Verne; Emily Dickenson; Gustave Flaubert; Miguel de Cervantes; D.H. Lawrence; Jack Kerouac; Robert Louis Stevenson; Edith Wharton; Honoré de Balzac; Samuel Richardson; Henry Fielding; William Makepeace Thackeray; Pierre Choderlos De Laclos; Thomas Love Peacock; George Eliot; Benjamin Disraeli; Laurence Sterne; Wilkie Collins; Anthony Trollope; Jerome K. Jerome; George Grossmith; John Buchan; Virginia Woolf; Ford Maddox Ford; Jonathan Swift; Louis-Ferdinand Celine; John Dos Passos; Nancy Mitford; Flannery O’Conner; Kingsley Amos; William Golding; Elizabeth Taylor; Beryl Bainbridge; Marilynne Robinson; Primo Levi; Kazuo Ishiguro; Peter Carey; James Ellroy; Phillip Pullman; Russell Hoban; Somerset Maugham; Emile Zola; George Bernard Shaw; Evelyn Waugh; Chinua Achebe; Elizabeth Bowen; Penelope Fitzgerald; Doris Lessing; Bret Easton Ellis; Albert Camus; Graham Greene; Don Miguel Ruiz; Jo Nesbo; Howard Zinn; Miyamoto Musashi; Patrick Süskind; Herman Hesse; Paul Auster; Richard Yates; Phillip K. Dick; Erica Jong; Ian Banks; Irvine Welsh; Allen Ginsberg; Douglas Coupland; Stieg Larsson; E. M. Forrester; Ray Kurzweil; Jeffrey Eugenides; Martin Amis; Norman Mailer; Victor Hugo; Mikhail Bulgakov; Muriel Spark; Eudora Welty; Ned Vizzini; Alasdair Gray; Wally Lamb; Joyce Carol Oates; John Le Carré; Yasmina Reza; Charles De Lint; Sebastian Faulks; Paulette Jiles; Anna Quindlen; Sebastian Barry; Par Lagerkvist; Jeff Shaara; Isabel Allende; Roger Zelazny; Yann Martel; Samuel Beckett; Jim Harrison; Orson Scott Card; R. L. Stine; Meg Wolitzer; Alan Lightman; Ruth Ozeki; Greg Iles; Joseph Kanon; Kōbō Abe; Tatiana de Rosnay; Alice Munro; Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Terry Pratchett; Jennifer Egan; Leon Uris; Anaïs Nin; Pat Barker; Alan Furst; H. P. Lovecraft; Patrick Rothfuss; Dinesh D’Souza; Mark Haddon; Jean-Paul Sartre; James Michener; Bruce Chatwin; Elizabeth Gilbert; Michael Ondaatje; Jeffrey Archer; Katherine Neville; Richard Flanagan; T. Coraghessan Boyle; Dorothy Parker; Kiran Desai; C. S. Lewis; Alice Hoffman; China Mieville; Joseph Campbell; Mary Doria Russell; Herman Woulk; Kahlil Gibran; Alice Sebold; Chris Bohjalian; Helen Oyeyemi; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Antoine de Saint-Exupery; Voltaire; Bharati Mukherjee; Homer; Ursula K. Le Guin; Tennessee Williams; Nora Ephron; Oscar Hijuelos; Anchee Min; Neal Stephenson; Paulo Coelho; Adam Gopnik; Mario Vargas Llosa; Eugene O’Neill; Paul Bowles; Anne Rice; Jean M. Auel; David Malouf; Roddy Doyle; Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Yasunari Kawabata; Saki; Jack London; Arthur C. Clarke; W. H. Auden; Harlan Ellison; David Sedaris; P. G. Wodehouse; Peter Benchley; Louis de Berniéres; Bertrand Russell; John Fowles; James Baldwin; Eoin Colfer; Dylan Thomas; Siri Hustvedt; Michael Moorcock; Anne Lamott; John Gardner; W. E. B. Du Bois; Pablo Neruda; Maurice Sendak; Patrick O’Brian; Michael Frayn; Rainer Maria Rilke; Chaim Potok; Elie Wiesel; Brian Copenhaver; Thomas Merton; Madeleine L’Engle; Stephen R. Donaldson; Andre Gide; Dorothy L. Sayers; N. Scott Momaday; Ben Fountain; Amy Bloom; Lloyd Alexander; Henry Roth; JM Coetzee; Ursula Hegi; Joan Didion; Stewart O’Nan; Anne Tyler; Carlos Castaneda; Andy Weir; Kent Haruf; Theodore Sturgeon; Lorrie Moore; W. E. B. Griffin; Theodore Roethke; Wasi Ahmed; E. L. Doctorow; Pete Hamill; Timothy Leary; Annie Dillard; Gay Talese; Thornton Wilder; Eleanor Catton; John Barth; Terry Goodkind; Will Durant; Richard Russo; Langston Hughes; Kurt Anderson; William Styron; John Lanchester; G. K Chesterton; A. A. Milne; Ezra Pound; Maeve Binchy; Jonathan Harr; Howard Jacobson; Archibald Low; Edwidge Danticat; Angela Carter; Gertrude Stein; Claire Messud; Martin Buber; Harold Pinter; Seamus Heaney; J. P. Donleavy; Italo Svevo; Norman Rush; Nadifa Mohamed; Peter Straub; Richard Brautigan; Daphne du Maurier; Rex Stout; Mary Higgins Clarke; Alice McDermott; Anita Diamant; Pearl S. Buck; Carl Sandburg; Walter Mosely; Michael Dorris; J.G. Ballard; Louis Sachar; Nelson DeMille; Arthur Miller; Joseph Brodsky; Mark Salzman; John Dunning; Anne McCaffrey…
There is something that feels uniquely American about harboring severe judgements of radical intent which, I suppose, is to say that we have a tendency to lean fiercely towards the extreme ends of the spectrum, regardless of the spectrum. Once labeled you are the stereotype, as well as the many pendulous archetypes that follow. In the fall of 1994 my sister, mother, father and I would sit down weekly to watch the new Star Trek incarnation: Voyager, not one of us could be considered a Trekkie, however each of us could enjoy the series—and others like it—for any number of reasons: the outrageous plot lines, unilateral character development, and the exceptionally—and intentional—“B” status, among other reasons. It’s the same appreciation that would allow me to enjoy myself at a Star Trek convention while simultaneously gawking at the satiric humor of Galaxy Quest. Some people might clarify the mental wherewithal by suggesting to, “…do everything in moderation.” Though I make every attempt to avoid the particular aphorism. We enjoyed the show, but we were not consumed by it, and there has been little—if anything—in my life that has consumed me to the point of behavioral dissonance. Suggesting to, “…do everything in moderation,” sounds, to me, like the temptation otherwise might be great, though I struggle to accept moderation. In reality I am capable of enjoying something for what it is, and I generally don’t extend more to that appreciation than that of an intrinsic piece of entertainment.
Last August when I starting building my online bookstore and found myself sitting for hours uploading books, individually transferring relatable information for each and every one of my greater than 2,000 book collection I also discovered a renewed interest in television. I had previously stopped watching TV. I am not one of those obnoxious pseudotrites aspiring only to judge and condemn anyone whom acts, interests, or believes differently and in this case I did not quit watching TV because I had been elevated to a higher level of humanaic consciousness, for me it could be considered a general addiction, I stopped watching television because I likely wouldn’t have done anything else—I would posit, as well, that our pseudotrites are actually more like “us” than they would like to admit. As it turned out sit-coms were a convenient backdrop to my work once music, in that particular setting, became suddenly nettlesome. There were of course a number of shows that I had been “meaning” to watch for an exponential number of years, and so I thought, “What the hell!” I watched the Office, Parks & Rec, The Killing, Sherlock, Numb3rs, and Criminal Minds: Behavioral Analysis Unit as I was browsing for a new show, recently—I still spent a great deal of time working in my living room, uploading new books to communiteabooks.com, and Instagram, and Pinterest and diving deep into marketing and learning new marketing techniques—I discovered Star Trek Voyager on Amazon Prime, and so I have been re-watching it, and it has taken me back to a different time. I am almost finished with season 3 and I’m feeling nostalgic in a very healthy, and seemingly physiological way. I was nine when I first started watching this show, needless to say it was a simpler time, in many-many more ways than the one.
I am appreciating the nostalgia: the characters, the music, and remembering how differently members of my family would react as the story would unfold. The music, especially during the first two seasons, really struck me; the opening sequence would begin and as the solar flare passed and the shows name would appear—I smiled every time. I couldn’t help it. I have also noticed a few differences in me: how I would react to the show; how I would react to the characters; something similar happened to me when I watched Numb3rs: I had originally started watching the show years ago—I forget the circumstances exactly—and I never finished it, I made it through a season, maybe some of two. I remember thinking how bad Don Eppes was to his brother Charlie the first time I watched it. The second time around, however, when I picked it up again sometime last year I didn’t feel the same way. Their relationship was somewhat turbulent but not nearly to the extent that I had previously felt, but the show hadn’t changed—I did. I’m noticing something similar re-watching Voyager. When I was younger a nine, ten, eleven year old boy my Star Trek Voyager celebrity crush was on Kes played by Jennifer Lien, however this time around, as an older man, I find that I would be more interested in Lt. B’Elanna Torres now, played by Roxanne Dawson. The two characters are fairly different from one another, at least in respect to their worldviews and, it’s funny, I just realized that Tom Paris played by Robert Duncan McNeil also had an interest for both Kes and B’Elanna Torres, and although I like the actor Paris is one of my least favorite characters.
Communitea Books had a great week last week, and I’m enjoying the thought that returning to a more childlike place emotionally and mentally may be, in part, responsible for that. There was a lot about my childhood that I have been grateful for inasmuch as there has been a great deal about my adult life that I have been grateful for, however those two people had never really met—my present and former self. I was ripped out of my childhood and spent some time in kind of an emotional purgatory before allowing myself to become an adult. This time while I am re-watching the show I am learning to allow those two people to meet, by exploring my childhood and Star Trek Voyager is allowing for some previously dormant feelings and emotions to become wakeful and relevant again. I do believe that too often people lose sight of who they are by forgetting who they were, and the shadow of some warped belief that it’s necessary to give up part of your childhood, to adopt a kind of mutual cynicism, and accept some illusive, senseless, and insidious truth. It is that childlike purview that allows you to enjoy something simply for the sake of enjoying it. To enjoy Star Trek without worrying about the obscurities of stereotypes, and to rediscover a childlike sincerity that will only strengthen your efforts throughout life without concerning yourself with an over involvement of moderation.
I have always envied people whom are capable of speed reading, and retaining all of the information, the extreme side of the spectrum is an eidetic memory, otherwise known as a photographic memory. Many scientist agree that you cannot develop and eidetic memory, but I am not so sure about that. I read an interesting fact about eidetic memory that I shall share with you is that: the memory does not rely upon visual input, but rather it utilizes the capacity of the other body senses (Koka, 2016). And, with that in mind, there are exercises that you can do to improve your memory, such as: working on visualization skills (e.g. memory recall in greater and greater detail), playing card games (learning to count cards, etc.), encourage active reading (reading something with intent to discover information), chunking information into smaller bites, learn to make [memory] multi-sensory (explore your surroundings with all your senses, consciously), the ‘Duel n Back’ game (which can be found at brain scale), and the method of loci, or ‘places,’ which is spatial memory (walking around your home with zero light using only your memory to guide you without running into anything).
Another method that presented itself one evening while I was watching Road Trip with Sean William Scott, Amy Smart, Tom Green and others: a key to learning, and retaining information quicker and with greater ease comes by relating new information with information that you already have.
“Rubin: “What Class is that again?” Josh: “Ancient Philosophy” Rubin: “Well I can teach you ancient philosophy in 46 hours.” Josh: “Really?” Rubin: “Yeah, I can teach Japanese to a monkey in 46 hours. The key is just finding a way to relate to the material.””
Many of us do not realize however that we actually do have to teach ourselves how to learn, and memory, as most of us were fortunate to realize at some point in high school, is a huge part of learning, and understanding that we are capable of stretching our memories to retain information that we do not really want to have. We never have a problem remembering things that we are interested in—those things that intrigue us—but all that other crap, all of that everything else, that we would rather not deal with—do we really need that? And why does it so often stick with us anyway? When I was growing up it was easier to separate the two, however now, with Facebook and our media—having changed as dramatically as it has—useless crap is spilling out of our ears. I, for one, have no interest in political memes, although one did help me to recall the correct response at trivia last week, nevertheless it occurred to me that if my brain has to retain that one piece of useless information that popped up on my Facebook feed that I could not care less about, I would much rather my brain simply remember everything that it sees, reads, and hears all of the time, exactly.
I watch Criminal Minds: Behavioral Analysis Unit and, for those of you who are also fans you already know where I am going with this: Dr. Spencer Reid is an f@$king badass. Dr. Reid has an eidetic memory; the especially fantastical episodes or scenes are when he hits a switch in his brain and we watch him recalling information, even conversationally, verbatim. I want that! I read two books fairly recently that were incredibly fascinating, and I would like to come back to them once that I have made certain deductions about memory, I have a feeling I will get more from reading it with [those] in mind—you know by employing that thing I mentioned earlier called active reading—they were How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster, a book which many people are familiar with, I think that it is required reading now in many college courses, and Mastermind: How to Think like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova.
I dated a girl not too long ago that could open a book and within hours have finished it, and I am not talking about one of those pleasant ‘one sitting’ novels, I mean a novel that is, on average, three- to four-hundred pages and I suppose that she remembers a good bit of it, probably because in those hours she allows it to consume her. And now that I am thinking about it that thought, actually, might explain a lot. I envied that about her, but it was all that I envied about her, and now knowing that a novel, in as many ways as is possible, became, for those few hours, her reality and she became, for those few hours, whichever character she deemed fit, and as she would come out, many of those characteristics, those that she either shared with a character or wish she had, would become a part of her, and after a time, and many-many books, she had become a puzzle of a collection of pieces each of which allowed her to experience something about this world she was afraid to actually touch.
“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” William Gibson
My memory is unusual, I cannot make sense of it. I remember behaviors well, and intentions, and ambitions, alongside useless facts, and where at a table people sat, however there are some things that my memory does not seem to have an inclination for and the reason escapes me, but probably only because I am looking for it. The ultimate irony is how can I look for a memory that is behind me, and only in shadow?
“We take it for granted that life moves forward. You build memories; you build momentum. You move as a rower moves: facing backwards. You can see where you’ve been, but not where you’re going. And your boat is steered by a younger version of you. It’s hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way.”
I think, when it comes down to how I perceive the world, in our humanity, and as emotional creatures it seems obvious to me that we are bound to our moods, and our feelings, and our emotions too entirely they affect us profoundly in a moment and then in the next moment that feeling is fleeting, and we are different. Memory, which lives in such high regard, as if memory in-, and of itself was a being of our own creation that we are indebted to and that follow us, and yet our memories are as fluid and fleeting as the feeling that inspired our behavior in the first place, I think that is why eidetic memories are so intriguing to me, because they are balance; imagine a space between logic and emotion that collects the pieces that are left behind, and that space is neutral—remembering everything as it was, exactly and not how our emotions wanted them to be. From my humanist perspective that would astounding, but, on the flip side of that it would also be pretty great to locate a single passage from War and Peace on a moments’ notice just for the hell of it from my head.
Writing has been a part of my life for—I’d like to say forever, but I cannot, in good conscious say that—for…a long time. I recognized that I had a talent for-, and enjoyed writing when I was either a sophomore or junior in high school. I had this English teacher, and I know what some of you all may be thinking, that she had a deep appreciation for literature and writing, and she took me under wing and cultivated that talent within me, unfortunately that’s not exactly what happened. She did recognize a talent in me, and would write notes about my papers that would read somewhere along the lines of, “Great paper! I look forward to the next one.” And, “You have such a vivid imagination, and a talent for communicating that vision onto paper.” As a result I enjoyed being in the class, and I waned to learn, and to become a better writer, and to develop a better understanding for the language. However, one morning, coming to class, she wasn’t there, and she would never be there again, when queried it turned out that she could no longer take it, it would be nice if I could say that she could no longer take the immense developing shining light that was beginning to expose itself from within me, but no, she actually couldn’t take the ridicule and humiliation and intense drama steeping from hundreds of testosterone filled teenagers at my high school. That’s right, my graduating class was so unabashedly evil that we were responsible for breaking a handful of teachers. I was disappointed when I discovered that we had driven her away, I had never really had a mentor, and I was looking forward to what the course of that year would have to offer, and what might develop but, you know, eh, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Instead I found myself bringing new AFI albums to class [The Art of Drowning] and spending entire periods laying on the floor tossing a hacky-sack to myself, sometimes I would fall asleep, because our long-term temp apparently had better things to do, I suppose, than to pay attention to his students. It took a few months to find a replacement, and once they did, our new teacher was only slightly more engaged than our long-term substitute.
I would write here and there, on my own, from then on, and the next year, when I took a psychology course that the high school offered I discovered a new topic of interest and when, at first, it was an exciting new thing to write about, it quickly became the focus of my new potential career. I would even attend UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) as a psychology major with the intention of becoming a clinical psychologist. After three years of study I became disillusioned by the idea that our apathetic society would aspire only to a fifteen minute 'therapy' session at the end of which a tiny little pill would prescribe itself to the uncertain well-being of said person’s pointless life. It was a difficult time for me, when people were more concerned with the quick fix than they were talking to-, and working through their problems—it made me sad. I did not want to prescribe medication, I am not a believer of medicating psychological disorders, yes, I know, we could talk about exceptions for hours but I would rather talk about writing, and reading, and books, so let’s get back to that…
The prospect of becoming a writer resurfaced late one night while I was driving through the southwestern corner of Colorado, it had snowed so much during the week prior that everything looked the same, although I had never been where I happened to be that night, so I’m not sure that it would have made a difference anyway, and I got lost. I use that word loosely—“lost”—because I didn’t really have a destination in mind at the time, and I’m not positive that you can actually get lost if you don’t know where your going to begin with. Nevertheless it was 3:00 AM I was driving down a snowy dead end road, before I knew it was a dead end, and thought, I should write about this. When I decided to settle(ish) in Pocatello, Idaho, and sat down to write, in my incredible new studio apartment, what would come out had nothing whatsoever to do with that night when driving in Colorado, and still, to date, I haven’t really written about that experience, I have touched on it, maybe, but (similar to how I’m touching on it in this blog) but I haven’t yet written about it—someday. I started writing, instead, about being on an airplane, and about the people on the plane, and how they might relate to-, and with one another. At the time I intended this to be a novel, unfortunately this wouldn’t be a novel. It would become a collection of short stories, and the beginning of my creative writing career. A writing career that was not at all easy to get into, however I have learned over the course of the last several years that we often attribute hard work simply to that of allowing an idea, or a passion the opportunity of the test of time. The only “hard” thing about anything is not giving up, because it is, apparently, a conditioned aspect of our nature to give up if it takes longer than we want it to.
I often think about my childhood and how much I wish my parents would have aspired to find some passion in me, and to help me learn how to pursue it. I think about that English teacher, and how that relationship could have turned into a mentorship that may have filled in the blanks, or offered those subtle insights into having a talent in a professional world that would have allowed me to develop my creativity and my professional success simultaneously. Don’t get me wrong, when I talk about success I am not referring to a Stephen King level of success or even a David Foster Wallace level of success, I am simply referring to having developed the means to cultivate a talent while also building a career. I never had that, at least the mentor that many successful artists do. Everything I know I learned by making mistakes, and by not giving up, but alas I still find myself in positions to, you know, not give up. It would be nice, at this point, to not even have the option of giving up and pursing something else, and that alternative to be an acceptable norm in the eyes of some people (my parents). I find that the difference that that mentor would have made is in the little push over the edge, you know when you're almost there, and you're always only almost there, but that little push; you know, like when something goes viral it was because that one extra person decided to like, or comment, or share, or whatever—that one little push that made the difference.
Don’t get me wrong, hard work makes a huge difference, especially for yourself when you lay your head on the pillow at night, however learning to ask for help, and to keep asking, and to continue doing it, that is what will push you over that edge.
I’m sure many of you look back on your childhood and wish that aspects of it were different, when you read biographies or hear stories about the way people grew up, and how it influenced their lives. David Foster Wallace’s parents were professors, Michael Jackson’s father was intensely involved in his children’s musical upbringing, and Haruki Murakami’s parents were both Japanese Literature professors. My own upbringing was incredibly unremarkable, my father was in the air force so we moved around a bit, including living in Japan in the mid-eighties, however I was never inspired to develop anything. My sister and I were kind of left to make our own mistakes without direction, I am very fond of allowing ourselves to make mistakes, but when aiming towards something, you know, like Thomas Edison’s great quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he would meet his wife Yoko, Murakami worked for a while at a record store before opening Peter Cat a coffeehouse during the day and a Jazz Bar in the evenings. They closed the jazz bar in 1981 when Murakami decided to attempt to make a career of writing full-time, with three novels already in his library, two of which he wrote both while working at Peter Cat and on his free time. There’s a popular story that while Murakami was at a baseball game in Tokyo watching American Dave Hilton hit a double Murakami was consumed with a “warm sensation,” and the realization that he could write a novel, he went home and started to write that evening. Over the next ten months Haruki would write his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing, after finishing it he sent the manuscript to a literary contest and was awarded first prize. Murakami was 29.
Wild Sheep Chase would be Murakami’s break out success, the final book in The Trilogy of the Rat which included his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, and his sophomore novel, Pinball, 1973.
I read a blog by A Geek in Japan about trying to find Haruki Murakami’s jazz bar, Peter Cat, though closed, they were curious to experience the same sights, and hopefully feelings that Murakami would have felt while living and working in the area. First the blogger stopped into a Senta (public baths), that looked to have been around for a while, and though the woman who ran the place enjoyed discussing how wonderful the neighborhood was in those days, she had never been to Peter Cat. The Blogger stopped by a bookstore owned by a middle aged man who, “…didn’t really look friendly.” However when asked about Murakami the middle aged man’s demeanor changed and the two fell into a great conversation about how Haruki would occasionally stop by the bookstore, the gentlemen even went as far as to point out where Peter Cat used to be, it is now a restaurant-cafeteria. It’s a good read, and if you feel so inclined you can check it out here.
I cannot recall my first experience reading Murakami, for some reason I keep coming back to Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it was printed later than I remember my interest developing, so it must have been either Hardboiled Wonderland or the End of the World or Norwegian Wood, I do remember, very distinctly living in Santa Fe, I had been there only a couple of weeks, and had still been settling in to a perfectly sized casita for one directly in the heart of the downtown Santa Fe, and my new neighbor and I slowly began developing a friendship. She was about my age, an incredible young artist, from Maine whom had moved to Santa Fe not long before when her brother’s girlfriend, who had been from there, suggested she spend some time in New Mexico. She handed me a copy of Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which she had inscribed for me, the same copy that I have lent out and has been returned to me numerous times, it’s amazing actually how often I’ve lent this book out, and how it keeps coming back to me. The book is tattered, and worn, it had been read more than any book I’ve come across, It’s got tire treads on the inside cover after having been run over, there’s circular shaped tea stains on the rear cover where a mug had been left, and still I have this book, and I will probably always have it until I’m gone. It is books like this, editions like this, that I have that reinforce what it is that I do, and my love for, not only, literature, but books, just…books. I’ve read everything Haruki Murakami’s written, and I look forward to the October 9, 2018 release of his new book, Killing Commendatore.
Murakami has been criticized for following a pretty distinct template throughout his novels: a thoughtful/emotional protagonist loses someone/something and is compelled to retreat on a journey, and then returns, eh, semi-enlightened—in the meantime all of his characters experience surrealistic, relationship, and pop-culture themed development, and all-in-all, I’ve always felt, that it makes for wonderful storytelling, I love it, and recently Xi-Chen wrote an article for Medium which I posted on the Communitea Books Facebook Page, in this article Chen illustrates something that I believe to be important for all Murakami readers, “…because writing is a form of expression and he is going to keep writing the same book until he captures that “something” and fills in that void.” It’s a great article Why I Read Haruki Murakami, you can read it here. What Xi-Chen writes is beautiful, and exactly accurate, Murakami is one of the few writers in which I can truly experience the journey not just for the characters, and not just for the reader, but for him—for Haruki Murakami.
Murakami is a bit of a loner, he doesn’t spend time with other writers, and has not developed a community of literary friends like David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen or George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman, and instead he relies on his wife, Yoko, as his first reader. He loves classical and jazz music, as well as rock, of course, as you will recognize in his writings such as Norwegian Wood, a classic [the] Beatles song, as well as Radiohead, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Johnny Rivers, The Doors, and more. He is an avid reader, and crime novel enthusiast, he read crime novels to teach himself English, such as The Name is Archer by Ross McDonald. Haruki Murakami is a fascinating man, and a great novelist, and, again, I look forward to Killing Commendatore, as well as those novels he has yet to write.
The vast majority of people throughout the United States are unware of how different our country is depending on where it is that you live. It will rarely cross your mind that the people living in the Southwest are not experiencing the same thing as those living in the Midwest, and so-on-and-so-forth, there are, of course similarities, an example of which being McDonaldization and the illusion that efficiency and familiarity establish some deeply-rooted since of comfortability, though this is not entirely true. Yes, regardless, I did laugh at Tom Segura’s joke, “…the worse part, honestly, of traveling in our country is that there’s no surprises. I swear to you, I travel every week, and it’s really a disappointment. Every place is exactly what I thought it was going to be. You know? I can prove it to you. Picture a place you’ve never been to in this country. Picture it. Yup. That’s exactly how it is.”
…because there is truth to that, it’s those similarities, or differences that we actually think about: I live in Texas, in a little town in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, I grew up here, I moved out of state after high school for ten years, and now I’m back, there are still people who believe that here in Texas we ride our horses to work, and granted in another little town about 40 miles from me called Bandera there is truth to that, but they do not speak for the rest of Texas, however, you would be surprised by how different things actually are.
I keep repeating myself, why? Because it’s important for you to understand the differences. When I was living in Salt Lake City I developed a strong craving for Jamba Juice one Sunday afternoon, I drove around for nearly two hours just hoping to find a Jamba Juice that was open on a Sunday. I remember having a conversation with a female friend—or so I thought she was—until I asked her, “So, can men and women be friends?” Her response was, “Yeah, I think so.” I continued with, “What if one of them is married?” To which her response was, “Oh, absolutely not.”
The way that people think, what people are interested in, how people express and act on those interests, all of which, and more, differ depending very much on where it is within the United States that you live. I was at the gym last week in the middle of a conversation—which, frankly, I still cannot understand what this friend of mine was thinking approaching me at the gym while I wearing headphones, I honestly don’t care how well I might know you—he asked me about my work, “So you run an online library, right? How’s that going?” I responded with, “Well, it’s a bookstore…you know, and it’s going great…” He looked at me after I corrected him about my business being a bookstore and not a library as if to say, what’s the difference? And there’s a truth to that, in Texas. If you’re even the slightest bibliophile (book person) living wherever it is that you might be living you are probably familiar with Book People in Austin and Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City, Booked Up, those are the two bookstores to speak of in the state—in the state of Texas! And most Texan’s are not familiar with them, but then again most Texan’s are still under the impression that printed books and bookstores are a thing of the past, most Texan’s are not aware that as of 2012 bookstores, and especially privately owned used bookstores have seen a steady increase both in new stores and sales, and that digital—or eBooks—had leveled out in sales.
It’s a result, entirely, of this misconception that though you might drive by (or thru) a number of familiar franchises between here and everywhere else, that everywhere else is not the same. They are not watching the same news stations, they are not hearing—or agreeing—with the same ideals, and I’m not referring to a political agenda, even though our government and media has managed to make everything seem like it’s a political arena in attempt to divide a manipulated American public, bu-bu-buuttt that’s not exactly the point of this blog. I want to talk about books, and about reading, guess what? Reading is alive and well, and you fellow Texan’s I’m not only talking about in “dirty liberal cities” like San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York, small town moderate (left of-, right of center Americans) are tearing through the spines of an increasing number of books and hauling them—after reading—to their local libraries or bookstores (what’s the difference again?) for reselling.
Did you know that Half Price Books started in Austin, Texas? HPB is one of the largest book retailers in the country, and, that’s right, it started here in lil ol’ Texas—there are five stores in San Antonio. Just outside of San Antonio in the numerous growing towns such as Boerne, Bandera, Comfort, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and New Braunfuls the only existing bookstores (that are not specialty stores) exist within the local libraries, which, unfortunately, do not have the means to offer to the town the inventory or the hours that the residents deserve. The main reason for this is the fact that most people in rural Texas do not understand that people still enjoy reading. I know, from a number of perspectives that might sound ludicrous, in the sense that how can a person not know what they like, but that’s not what I’m trying to get across, it’s that you don’t necessarily know what other people like, and individuals, for whatever reason, make the assumption that they are different from everybody else, that our own interests are not shared by the people around us, and it’s that idea exactly that is the catalyst behind the ‘mob mentality’ reaction to—well, now-a-days, to just about everything.
Printed books are not going anywhere. And it’s not just about nostalgia, though there is something about holding a book, smelling it, having it resting on our shelves, it’s not entirely about that, and it may not be the most logical understanding, but the simple truth is that the reason books are not going anywhere is because, they are books. The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1455, that’s more than 560 years ago. Don’t let your misunderstanding of what others may or may not understand affect something that you actually enjoy doing, pick up a book, grab something of your shelf, open the spine, and start reading. Respond to this article, and tell me what you decided to read, and how it made you feel—or visit Communitea Books and share with me a story about a time when you stopped reading, for a while, and came back to it, or tell me about a book you never finished, the one that’ still sitting on the shelf with a bookmark in it.
In 2007 I was working as a bookseller at a Barnes&Noble in Murray, Utah. Most people are aware that somewhere within a Barnes&Noble there is a discount book section, usually up front near the cash registers, these books are called Remainder Books: books printed in excess and are liquidated and resold to book distributors to be, again, resold at considerably discounted prices. On my shift one morning I was browsing these discount books and happened upon a book titled, Consider the Lobster. It seemed interesting, based solely on the cover: it’s a white book at the center of which is a single red lobster and above that is the title, in black Consider the Lobster. I bought it, having never heard of David Foster Wallace until then. Yes, that’s right, prior to that moment, having worked for Hastings Entertainment and Border Books, Music, & Café I somehow never became familiar with the 1996 Literary Masterpiece Infinite Jest. I take full responsibility, though it did not take me long to remedy that mistake. After finishing Consider the Lobster I scoured the shelves for anything I could find by Wallace, and I consumed it all.
David Foster Wallace from that moment on would be my favorite author. There was something about the way that he wrote, and it was more than his prescriptive, and deeply personal relationship with the English language, it was as if Wallace was peering with an unbiased curiosity into my psyche, and this was perfectly comfortable for me, as the reader, because in response he would open himself up to me even more. There are passages of Wallace’s that I would sit and read over and over again, squeezing every ounce of substance from each sentence. It felt as if David Foster Wallace and I were more than confidants, we were friends. And for me it may have been more than that, because it seemed as if he was speaking through me, to me.
Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, and was raised in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. His parents were professors at two nearby colleges, his father an emeritus professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his mother an English professor at Parkland [Community] College. David Wallace attended Amherst College and majored in English and Philosophy where he discovered an interest in Modal Logic and Mathematics, he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1985. His English honors thesis would become the manuscript for his debut novel, The Broom of the System (1987), a novel that follows 24 year old Lenore on an escapade to recover her missing great-grandmother who had escaped from a nursing home, dealing with a neurotic boyfriend and the sudden musings of a talking cockatiel. Wallace attended the University of Arizona where he graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree. Along with Broom of the System Wallace had also sold The Girl with Curious Hair, a collection of short stories before graduating from U of A.
David was a regionally ranked junior tennis player in his youth, which was the inspiration behind Hal Incandenza’s (the protagonist of Infinite Jest) time spent at E.T.A. the Enfield Tennis Academy. Infinite Jest is one of the most epic novels ever composed. The novel is set in a postmodern setting of The United States, Canada, and Mexico that composed a unified North American Superstate known as The Organization of North American Nations. Corporations would be allowed to bid for, and to purchase naming rights for each calendar year such as the Year of the Whopper, the Year of the Whisper-Quiet Maytag Dishmaster, and the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade for Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office or Mobile [sic], but most of the novels setting takes place during the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. There are several major plotlines, that all connect via the production of a film, Infinite Jest also known as “The Entertainment.” It’s at this point in the description of the novel that I will stop summarizing and implore that you find the time to read it yourself, and by “find the time,” I very much mean scrap for time, because this book is going to consume your life for that period of which it takes you to read it—it’s worth it.
David Foster Wallace is the recipient of the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, The Lannan Literary Award, the Whiting Award, Salon Book Award, and The MacArthur Fellowship (The Genius Grant), he was a professor of Creative Writing and English at Pomona College in California. He is the author of three novels (The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest, and The Pale King [Unfinished]), three collections of short stories (Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Oblivion), and several collections of essays (Both Flesh and Not, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Everything and More, and more), he’s contributed in numerous magazines, and he published his 2005 Commencement Speech at Kenyon College, This is Water, which is widely considered to be the greatest commencement speech of all time.
After the publication of Infinite Jest in 1996 Wallace went on a book tour that was kind of alarming for him, and it shook him in regards of fame, and how it is that someone in his position might view themselves in relation to how others view him. Some of what he went through was illustrated in David Lipsky’s, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, a memoir about Lipsky’s experience traveling with Wallace on the tail end of the Infinite Jest book tour, a piece that was originally supposed to be for Rolling Stone Magazine. The Memoir become the 2015 drama film The End of the Tour starring Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky and Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace—both the memoir and the film are fantastic, and although it made me nervous when I first learned that Jason Segal was playing the part of Wallace, he was absolutely phenomenal.
David Foster Wallace spent a lifetime struggling with depression. He was on a cocktail of medications and in early 2008 he stopped taking one cocktail in hopes of transferring to another, they did not work, and when attempted to return to his previous cocktail it no longer had an effect on him. David Foster Wallace hanged himself on September 12, 2008. He rarely talked about his issues with depression and alcohol and recovery and medication, yet he did have moments of sincerity if under direst, which is to say that if people really pushed. David Foster Wallace was an incredibly human being, and an outstanding American writer whose works will continue to amaze people for…ever. The Las Angeles Times called Wallace, “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last twenty years.” And Time Magazine referred to Infinite Jest as one of the greatest English language novels published since 1923. Loyola University in New Orleans and Harvard University both offer classes on Wallace, and in 2017 the International David Foster Wallace Society, and The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies were established. For another unique and refreshing take on Wallace check out this wonderful article from NPR, Here.
I have an idea:
Regardless of the influential scale of your impact, regardless of whether its effects are great and wide, or individual and minute, regardless of whether you're concerned you might look bad to your peers instead of consistently looking for someone else to blame for (y)our problems—personal or societal—why don't you focus on what your role is in creating those problems. The political price tag has gotten to be too high, because whether or not anything on C-span directly affects the majority of our lives, we are allowing it to affect our lives, and, of course, in cases of school and workplace shootings and other senseless deaths we really are beginning to experience a phenomenon that will not be remedied from the top down.
It is way too easy to blame others, to focus on the misdeeds or irrational understandings of those that we might disagree with, and to justify our behavior with our own developed sense of social morality. The American party system has become so manipulated and so divisive, and that divisiveness has become so commonplace that we do not even recognize that our ship is sinking. It has nothing to do with Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell or Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton—nothing. We are too focused on blame. Somewhere along the line the American people became convinced that our way of life, and our society, our American dream no longer existed, and instead of actually looking at it, instead of stopping to say, “Well, sure it does.” We started blaming each other. It’s the Democrats, it’s the republicans, it’s the African Americans, it’s the immigration issue, it’s the gun control issue, it’s the LGBTQ community, and it’s that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump—it’s not, it has always been us. Our indifference and our lack of accountability.
I liked Obama, I voted for him, twice, but a lot of his policies did ignore the intentions of the constitution; however, I am quite certain that when most conservatives argue in favor of that point they have no idea what they are actually talking about, they are simply repeating sound bites that they happened to hear making the rounds through the social mediasphere, and if they do [claim to know what they are talking about] then their indifference now completely outweighs their sense of social service. I am a proponent of social liberty—for everyone. It’s nonsensical to say that, “I am a proponent of social liberty, well, except for blacks, and homosexuals, and the transgender, and…” with that said, it’s not the place of the federal government to decide for the American people what your sense of social liberty is. Racism and sexism and other prejudices are a form of ignorance, there is no doubt about that, but if the United States is going to establish law in favor of-, or against various social liberties—though it’s something that the U.S. should never do—it can only be done at the state level. Obama did ignore that. Is that prosecutable? No, I’m sorry, it is not, and neither is it forcibly divisive. As I have mentioned, that personally, I do understand the frustration of ignorance, and the desire to force a sort of…re-education, but it cannot be done, forcibly; that is a fine line to cross, and we have to maintain the distinction—and if for no other reason that we are sometimes too different in our perspectives from one another.
I can appreciate the necessity of the 2nd amendment though I cannot, for the life of me, understand why conservatives are fighting so hard to keep semi-automatic guns available to the public, it makes no sense to me whatsoever. The argument that you can keep it simply because you have the right to, is, I mean, it’s apathetic and careless, and borderline dangerous, actually, at this point, it is beyond borderline. There are more than enough alternatives available to the American public without the ‘freedom’ to unload and unreasonable amount of ammunition sailing towards a deer or a target attached to a barrel of hay. You don’t need it. Even the Founding Fathers disallowed weapons in some situations and institutions, too many people conveniently ignore that, inasmuch as they ignore the language, “A well-regulated militia…” the first lines of text in within the amendment for, “…shall not be infringed.” When it is undeniably clear that the act of infringement, in this case, refers to the amendment in its entirety, and how not regulating gun control is in actuality an infringement on the amendment. Yes, we do need a 2nd amendment, people do need the right to “bear arms,” but some of y’all need to be reminded that there is a difference between pride and freedom.
I am pro-life. Do you know what that actually means, to me at least? It simply means that I am against death, well premature, unnecessary, and senseless death. It means that I am against the acts of “police brutality,” abortion, and the death penalty—and I have a sleuth of issues with our judicial system, specifically the correctional department, and how people are imprisoned for life for non-violent drug crimes, I mean come on—isn’t that what healthcare’s for? Oh, wait, we can’t even figure out our healthcare system either. But, why? It should be simple: we have a capitalist economy, right? Well then why isn’t healthcare privatized? Only then would the sick actually get the quality of healthcare they deserve. The United States is too big for Universal Healthcare, especially if our federal government is focused on making everything a federal issue.
And look, no, I don’t agree with abortion—I’m prolife—however, I’m also male, which in-and-of-itself kind of eliminates me from having any sort of practical understanding, and therefore opinion on the issues, especially considering that I am prolife, not just pro-birth.
The point that I’m making with all these personal political confessions is, well, 1.) That there needs to be a distinction between our social and our political lives, but more important 2.) Most of your opinions are based on sound bites that mean nothing, if you established some sort of linear “How Did I Come to these Conclusions” outline for your political beliefs system it wouldn’t make any sense, because it’s not based on anything.
And although it seems that I am using republicans as a series of examples of what not to do (I'm about to do it again), I am, by no means, only referring to republicans, this is a bipartisan problem, democrats are just as responsible, you are a mirror image, only, to your political counterpart.
I mean a major aspect of Republican Dogma is moral family values based greatly on the teachings of Jesus Christ, while there are 11,000 immigrant children that have been removed from their parents and locked up in warehouses across the southern most part of our country. Congressman are not even aloud to tour these facilities. And you shrug your shoulders and whine about immigration? And that’s justifiable to you? Jesus was Middle Eastern, why don’t you try Googling “People Born in Bethlehem,” and after weeding through the various paintings of Jesus and pictures of American kids recreating The Nativity, tell me what you see.
And I’m even a proponent for having, and enforcing better immigration laws, but come on, let’s do things the right way, hmm?
So instead of getting on Facebook and sharing fake news articles, or real news articles and expressing your feelings of intense distaste towards something completely irrelevant to our everyday lives, why not stop and think about what you really want your role to be, and what your role actually is, and through this exercise maybe you’ll learn to take some accountability. Because is it really Obama or Trump that’s dividing this country? Or is it us?
So, let’s try that, and were that takes us.
I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.