Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Self-Indulgent Blogging

I tend to treat this blog as something like an internal monologue. I lost all interest in 'building an audience' some time ago, actually about two months into this project, and have tended to write things so that I won't forget them. Currently, I am several months into my exam 'reading lists', and starting to feel the strain mentally. Also, since I cannot expect that others cognate in the same way I do, it's useful for me to assess my mental state at this time. That said, it still feels indulgent in that bloggy way. Sorry.

1) When I talk about my train of thought, I'm usually referring to three or four ongoing trains of thought, which I seem to be unable to stop. Currently, one channel is reviewing my childhood, a second is reviewing The Triumph of the Therapeutic, a third is reviewing the books I've read on Marxism for my reading list, and a fourth is worrying about my upcoming reading list in French history. All four are playing at the same time, and I have almost no difficulty jumping from one to the other, or switching topics in any one channel. Therefore, conversations with me, especially the ones in which I'm simply verbalizing the channels, can be exhausting and confusing. Even worse, I seem to be totally unaware of that fact at times. It's also I think why I find it nearly impossible to fall asleep, impossible to tell the difference between sleep and imagining, and generally able to dictate how my dreams will progress when I am dreaming.

2) People always say that life is short, but my own life feels much longer than it has been. It's very hard for me to believe that my childhood took place any more recently than 50 years ago, and it feels like it was during the 1930s. Moreover, I feel convinced that I have lived through those six or seven decades instead of the mere three that I have actually lived. I used to joke that "Life isn't short; I've been alive for as long as I can remember", but there's something to that.

3) I am currently extremely lonely. Our town is very boring, and it's hard for me to find a support network of geeks to talk about geekish things. I've enjoyed the people on-line who are listed in the links; but my general experience is that the on-line community that it's about as intellectually active as the television community. When I'm at Mall University, I enjoy talking to the other PhD students, but they never seem to be around. The Master's students in our program tend towards a bone-deep anti-intellectualism, and I have no interest in discussing how 'reading is gay' with them.

4) I feel crotchety because I can't think of many advances in the last decade that don't depress the hell out of me. I have always been a devoted lover of pop culture and shopping, but lately it feels like turbo capitalism has cheapened and degraded everything good. Universities spend their time aping cruise lines, the artistry of film has been replaced with idiot-movies aimed at 22 year old boys and shot on digital video that is profoundly ugly, pop music is all recorded so that every instrument is turned up in the mix as high as possible so it sounds like one monotone churning thud, cell phones have made people rude in public places, the internet has made its users mindless blowhard mouthpieces for agitprop, literature has been replaced by yuppie memoirs, and I meet almost nobody anymore who understands the idea of innate cultural value as being superior to market value or simple novelty. I don't know what an Ipod is, or a blackberry, or how most technologies work. Everyone wants to tell me how much money they make at the jobs they hate. I hate that people talk like blogs, instead of making complex arguments like books. I feel like such an asshole because I hate people, but love my students, hate the mass media, but still cry when I watch Breakfast at Tiffany's, hate the trite worthlessness of people my age, but obsess over the meaning of lines of Blake, which most people would consider to be a fairly worthless activity. My dream is being put out to pasture to live in the country with my wife and cat.

5) I worry that these are the dark ages and that no great art will be created in my lifetime.

6) I worry that being lonely will turn me into one of those grad student dicks who looks down on everyone else. I don't feel superior- I feel freakishly abnormal and bizarre. When I bitch about the anti-intellectualism around me, my idea of an intellectual is Proust, not myself.

7) I love the aesthetics of machines. We've left the Machine Age, you know. Every new invention is Digital, not Machine, and old machines are being made obsolete. But, I love the kinesthetic quality of a typewriter, or a rotary phone, or an old camera. I love the homology between machines and the body, and consider the Digital Age to have switched to a homology between the Mind and Chip. It's the old mind/body problem and we lost the body. I miss the body.

8) I'm always joking and serious. But, I'm not as funny as I used to be. In my 'student evaluations' this semester, some of my students said that I'm funny. I was glad. But I used to be a lot funnier.


Anonymous said...

i'm sorry that you are feeling lonely. :(
hope you feel better soon.

Rufus said...

Thank you very much. I think I will feel better when I get back around people next week. Even if I don't talk to them, it just helps to hear people talking.

Hiromi said...

Oh, it's winter break, isn't it, so you're rattling around in a ghost town, aren't you. Austin is oddly non-cultural -- few museums, for one thing. It's frustrating, given the fact that it's 1) a uni town, 2) full of very intelligent political types, and 3) large.

When you say "master's students in our program," you're talking about people getting an MA in history, right? Why would an anti-intellectual be in such a field? You'd think that if they were in school at that level, they'd at least choose something practical, like business or law or something. Weird.

Rufus said...

Somebody once told me that there are two sorts of High School teachers:
1) The ones who love learning and books and the intellectual life,
2) The ones who love hanging out with teenagers because they're still a that developmental level themselves.
Both types have to get Master's degrees to teach high school in our state. So, we have a few geeks getting their MA and a surprising number of students who hate having to go through this 'reading shit' to get to teach at a high school.

Also, Claire lives in a dirty Canadian steel town whose culture starkly resembles that shown on COPS, so I'm pretty much there all of the time. I love the people there, but I don't have much common ground with them.

The town where my university is located is a desolate rust belt casualty. It has a rich cultural life left over from its heyday, but not really the appreciative audience, yet. Things are getting going though. Ani Difranco bought a great building to run her record label out of and we still have a world class art museum. But, it's a bit depressing walking around downtown.

That is strange about Austin. I've always sort of idealized it because of the extremely creative people who have come from there. Am I wrong in thinking Slacker was set in Austin?

The Pagan Temple said...

Sounds like you just need to feel a sense of community, but can't. If this is accurate, I know where you're coming from. There's probably not a lot of difference between a dirty Canadian steel town and an obscure little Kentucky "hick" town. Or any others, for that matter. You can fit in to a point, but when you go home at the end of the day, you are thinking, what the hell is it all about?

In other words, we both probably just think too damn much.

Hiromi said...

Austin does have a healthy music and filmmaking scene, but it strangely lacks great restaurants, museums, ballet, things like that.