Friday, June 20, 2008


I've often been told that there is no possible perfect world. I'll buy that. But I'm also often told that there is no "best" world. That there cannot really be an ideal. That the world is as it is and could not be otherwise, or would be the same over all even if minor things were slightly different.

I keep finding that I idsagree with this idea. I have a fairly firm belief, so firm I get worried that it's faith, that the world could realistically be better. I don't believe in fate or destiny or purpose, so I don't believe in a grand scheme or a creator's plan. As such, I keep thinking that things could be better, and that a real utopia could be possible. How good that utopia could actually be is beyond me, but I feel like things are, at their core, good and reasonable, and with some effort, could be forced in that direction permenantly, or at least for extended periods.

Like I said, I do fear that it's faith. I don't want this assumption to be without reason, because if it is that makes it harder to have faith in it.

Luckily for my sense of self esteem, I've stumbled accross a bit of evidence to explain my belief. There are behaviors that are considered "good things" that we do. "Sacrifice", "altruism", "selflessness", and "charity" are words that we use to describe "good things". There are two kinds of "good things": the kind which provide benefits to the world, no matter who does them and for what reasons, and the kind that may or may not benefit many people, or any for that matter, but are done with the intent of being good or helpful. It's that latter that we get praise for. In fact, we sometimes look down on praise given to a deed which was done without the intention to be good.

The category of things we praise is special because we almost feel it necessary to have it be something the person performing the behavior doesn't want to do. If you do something anybody would do, something people want to do, even if it benefits others, it generally doesn't warrant special praise for the person doing it. One would probably not be praised for entering into a symbiotic relationship with others. Their fortune would be celebrated, but I don't think we would congradulate the person on their decision. It would be viewed as a good, positive thing, but would not be an act of "goodness".

Those who say no act is selfless I think could be true, but I don't believe they are. Sacrifice for others is the intentional act of doing something "good". Whatever our cultural concept of "good" is. Now, it's true that different concepts of "good" can step on each other's feet, even cause genocide and war, but I think that in general, war, murder, torture and selfish self preservation are caused by people who are torn between doing what they feel is "good" and "right", and what will satisfy their physical and psychological pains and pleasures.

I get criticized for being soft, too nice, a pushover, and a wimp. These criticism come, of course, when my choice of behavior that I see as "good" negatively affects me in the physical and psychological sense. But then, we expect this. Because if the behavior wasn't harmful to me in some way, it wouldn't be "good". It would be natural.

I feel like "good" is natural, though, and very achievable because when I do do something that's "right", that I'm sure will hurt me or not, and it works, either by benefiting me and others or just others, I feel as if I've tapped into the utopia. Things are working the way they should. Everything is easier. The feelings that I want all the time are there, all senses of confusion are gone. I feel like for the moment and in my tiny sphere of influence, the world has been pushed toward it's ideal state. And if everyone did it with one another, things might seem so clearly correct that the behaviors would be sustained, as would the feeling.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Big Ol' Question Mark

I spend about ten minutes thinking about what I want to write before I start, hoping that it won't be awkward and I won't look at it in a few days and have it seem strangely childish. Then, just as I think I've got it, the phone rings (because I'm always procrastinating at work when im blogging) without fail, and my clever scheme is ruined. I think next time I'll try for a meditative blankness and hope that the phone call joggs some subconscious inspiration.

I think I've got a little of Nico's missing quarter life crisis. I've been spoiled by college and post-college excitements. I've had my closest friends at my finger tips and been constantly distracted by personal drama. Now things have settled down, people have moved away, situations have become simpler and more complicated at the same time, and I'm feeling empty... It's strange because I'm proud to feel like I develop in to a more adult and more interesting person each year. Yet somehow there seems to be a strange letdown and a frustratingly unromantic sadness that follows me into the shower each morning. It's hard to analyze what the problem is when all recent decisions seem so appropriate.

I think this is partly due to the silly fact that things have been so good in recent years. Much better than at any time before. I suppose I just expected things to keep soaring up up up! When they plateau it seems like everything's come crashing down.

My impending (hopefully) teaching career seems like a beacon of salvation, though a hugely terrifying one, which is a strange quality for a beacon of salvation to have. I worry, and probably shouldn't because that can only make things worse, that I'm putting too much weight into a career and building it up too high. Fortunately that adjective "hugely terrifying" helps to dilute my blind optimism.

Maybe all I need is some good ol' escapism coupled with a little personal creativity. I got turned onto a fabulous little fantasy adventure which cured my blues entirely for the two days it took me to read it. Of course when it's over and I'm forced to remember that I am, in fact, NOT an important piece in a world saving, millenia old prophecy of bold adventure and really do need to get this paper work done, it does make the monotony that much harder to cope with.

I'm convinced that photography and art in general is the catalyst that will begin the end of my funk. I havn't put any energy into pictures lately. I feel like I haven't had the time, though that's probably not true. However, reading Rice Boy has ignited the desire to write again. I've even been trying to flesh out difficult plot elements while on the toilet! I'm thiiiiis close to actually picking up the pen keyboard again.

Maybe hijacking a scanner would cheer me up...

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Don't Relate to Real People

I've always been annoyed that many of the media I love, like comic books, video games, and anything animated, are often looked down upon as lower forms of similar media. I think people are even willing to champion sitcoms by saying "yea I really relate to the people in Sex in the City" before they would admit that anime or comic books have real social value. So, for my own sake and anyone else who can't quite put their finger on why reading comics and playing video games seems like less of a waste of time than everyone else seems to think, here's a list of some works that have really changed the way I see the world:

Neon Genesis Evangelion- Eva is only really impressive the second time through. At first it seems like a mix of slow paced teen drama and entirely too short kaiju battles. Once you learn what the Human Instrumentation Project is, though, and once you've really gotten the final episode (and the movie, the movie's pretty important), it really becomes amazing. The slowness of the series becomes a meditation on loneliness and alienation, and the battles become emotional punctuation to illustrate how serious the ideas are. The entire series is perched on the idea that loneliness and individual loss is so hurtful that it is better to do away with all of humanity and the world than suffer through emotional hardship. The profundity of embarrassment and segregation are so palpable that I end up thinking about this series whenever I feel isolated.

Paranoia Agent- Similar to Evangelion, Paranoia Agent is only really impressive after you understand the permeating theme and purpose. This series, like Eva, is trying to convey something intangible through episodic meditations. Knowing the series' end, I find myself next to tears watching the opening of the first episode. If you haven't seen it, or didn't care for it, it's about responsibility and the misguided notion that guilt and responsibility are things to be avoided. Also like Eva, the supernatural aspects seem to be designed to emphasize the gravity and near invisible nature of the issue. This is one of the few works that actually makes me fear the modern world and electronic culture. I've never bought into the idea that automation and depersonalization are necessarily bad things. However, the idea that escapism and anonymity are breeding grounds for artificial and incomplete moralities is something that really affects me.

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye- I should say "The Dark Knight Returns", but that would take too long to talk about, and Sin City's value is pretty similar. The first of the Sin City books really strikes me as a great dive into masculinity. Marv is such a great character, so obviously perfect as a masculine ideal, so utterly broken as a person. His bizarre/not-so-bizarre treatment of women, his his utilitarian view of violence, the complete intertwined nature of his ego and sexuality all are things that have reminded me why I never felt discouraged when I didn't feel macho. However, reading it makes me feel pity and pride for men. It glorifies the strengths of stoicism while offering sympathy for the pathetic shortcomings and childishness that Marv embodies. I read this book as Masculist.

Epileptic- All these works mean something to me because they help me understand things that are hard to explain with words and simple images. They all require time and variations on a theme. Epileptic lets me into someone else's dreams and dazed memories better than any psychedelic music that I can think of. It uses simple language to convey the sort of information that's conscious and readily recalled; abstracted, surreal, aboriginal figures flesh out the emotional backdrop to events. The book manages to feel like those nostalgic memories that you have a hard time explaining to people, those mundane moments that are only valuable to you, but universally experienced. Everything that makes this book wonderful is invisible yet perfectly projected into my mind.

Shadow of the Colossus- I wish there were more video games to list here, but I really don't think there are than many good artistic achievements in video games at this point. This one, however, is a good'n. This is one of the best examples of romantic visual art that I know of. Aside from the fact that the player is...basically destroying natural edifices...this game exalts nature in a way that few paintings and movies manage to do. The act of moving through an expansive space and the fact that you really are forced to sit back and take in the scenery makes this one of the few effectively ambient I've seen. The sheer slow power of this game gives me the feeling that I can only assume Wanderer Above the Mist was going for. This game makes me want to walk out in the rain and look up.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Office Humor

my email to the company:
group x me