Exercise in humility

I see myself, I see the other. Cheap and dirty clothes, faintly malodourous, the stale certainty of sweat. I never really learned how to talk. At best, I mastered small-talk when I realised the safety of distance it maintains between partners. The confusing nature of desire is that it itself does not know what it wants. I am in a cafe, faced with the illusion of a choice as to what to do with my life. I consider the small range of options – jacket potatoes, various breakfast meals, burger and chips, a choice of teas, administrative work, teaching, unskilled labouring, bla bla, and I panic. Too many options, so I don’t choose. They all sound great. What are you having? Then the waiter comes over, and you already know what you want. A chicken and roast vegetable panini, sounds good, why didn’t I think of that? Should be good for you! And myself? Well…umm….err….well they’re quite expensive, and I’ve been spending a lot lately, and I must eat less or I will get fat and do I really want a breakfast…and ah I’ll have a pitiful fried egg on toast thanks.

Desire is clear. I want before I even have language, I visualise the thing I want. Language as we know tames this – Nietzsche talks about civilisation creating tame household pets, Sloterdijk talks about hothouses – neither process of cultivation is possible without language. Our sophistication in language may possibly increase with our ability to repress desire – a controversial idea and one I disagree with – but I’m putting it forward. The problem of desire is itself so vague. The French poets are often just dressing up their sexual virility – but at the same time I do not want an egg on toast. It is important to understand desire. Chance is risk – the stakes too great, a game of the young and lost. The idiocy of self-repression. Maybe what I want is not on the menu. Why are we compulsed to eat in cafes? I only want a coffee, to walk along cold paths with enough thoughts in mind to postpone infinity.

I would like somehow to articulate a technique of seeing that privileges clouds and skies over the dreary ground and buildings. It is a way of seeing that includes all, and is of great interest to anybody with a mild sense of curiosity. When surveying any distance, focus your eyes on the clouds and skyline above the road, pavement, parkland etc. You can do this whilst walking or stationary, it’s up to you. Notice the colours – what do you see? Blues, pinks, oranges, golds? What shape are the clouds, if any? Now notice the point where the buildings and roads touch the sky in the distance – trace an outline, like a seismograph perhaps sketched on the sky, or the outlines of a tattoo against the pale celestial membrane. Compare the dull greys and browns of the buildings to the free, airy and strangely more real colours of the sky. We have here a possibility of idealism. Workmen say that in the city you must always look up, and yes, there are far more interesting sights to be seen there – azures, lavenders, midnight-blues, greys, a plane that makes cuts through tower-blocks and TV transmitter-needles like the emptinesss they are. This is a higher plane scientifically, and we are together poets in seeing perhaps a higher plane of experience. See that moon later, share in the sight of that with a nameless other.

The question comes of how to process all this experience. A hypothetical question – experience is already processed by the mind every day, it seeing and experiencing each moment attached to the certainties and facts of the moment before, the evidence of habits accumulated in the practice of living. Each moment is perceived with resistance, half-perceived to avoid exhaustion through over-stimulation. Enough of this.

Hope. Consensus. Lies and shit. Muffled winks and threats of security. Work and lack of. Money and lack of. Happiness. Venom. The mad love of cruel Matho – “few will be able to guess how sad one had to be in order to resuscitate Carthage”. The end catastrophe. Worth studying in – three years? Too vague – ecological-dystopia-religious? And does it matter? My hope is literature, my desire to share knowledge and share a passion for learning and ideas, of love and generosity, things I am no expert in but might help find a way for others. Perhaps a PhD is unnecessary – perhaps it is impossible. To write on Dostoevsky and Kafka, Badiou and Flaubert, the internet and the Fall. Understand and come to terms with things. No! It should not be! Hence struggle. To be part of something. Yes. But what matter. Themes like these have no resolution, and are documented here as valueless insights.

What might Salammbo be about except as a decadent tale of the violence of unrequited love, its tapestry Carthage? A political parable, an excessive derive into untapped exoticism? But ten pages of stating the fact of one’s personal intentions for writing something – the emotions and motives provoking it – would be cruelly banal except for historians of the male and female zoo. Few could read it. Perhaps my hope in skies and art creates a confusion about what is its origin and function. The Romantic view after the Renaissance is to see and know the style and ideas of the artist, the work a personal expression of their desire, a part of themselves. Of course art is produced for an income, prestige, to emulate trends and achieve institutional favour or funding. What matter?

We speculators of business success opportunities are haunted by the taste of blue cheese wherever we travel. And the taste of limes. Limes, tequila and blue cheese – such things we hope for. Is such a dish possible? Would it grow legs and walk out of its miasmic and watery bowl? Or peanut butter ice-cream? Are these the feverish words of the sick, abasing themselves in the hope of cheap humility before an idle God – the entrance of the Blenheim Shopping Arcade – an effigy of David Cameron? We red blood cells – monads – quarks – etc – can only affirm being in our own idiosyncrasies and desires. Now to make this cheese concoction…


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