As you can see by my recent additions to the subfeed @faithghost, I am aware of the loss of this fellow Aaron Swartz. I’d only heard about him and never really thought a thing about him…except I did…in a way.
I think a lot about all the people that end up killing themselves and about those that have.
I don’t exactly hide my so-called mental health history – my own scars – or the fact that I am signficantly concerned about the state of human beings and their hearts in the world.
I have wondered, a lot, about all the people that are scared and hopeless, about kids in basements and people in small apartments.
…though you might be doomed.
We’re all a little doomed because we live in this world…this beautiful and tragic world that is full of so much wonder and potential dying avoidable deaths at a young age. The trick is to figure out a way to stay alive with as much grace and gusto as you can muster. Sometimes, waking up in the morning is enough. Doing an honest inventory of reasons to stay alive can keep you very busy. Sometimes you have to create new reasons, when the old reasons don’t seem like reason enough.
…just stay alive.
In the way that small gifts are given to us, I have found that – over the past few days – someone has been posting replies to old threads on Icarus. The accounts that are posting are almost brand new and they’ve only posted once. One of the mystery posts has already been removed and I feel a loss, because the last words in the post were: “We do grow up and we do become different.”
I reply to the random posts, because I love stories.
12 Jan 2013 12:16
negative factors can be self-correcting
There is some side street and the man steps out of the flow of feet. Tea leaps out of the paper cup, burning his hand and waking him up. His shoes are no longer shiny and the newsprint isn’t telling him anything that he needs to know. Facts and figures, nothing of the feeling he felt late in the night, alone in the hotel and remembering the smell of rice in his family’s home, a drift of recollection from a world that in the day is gone but which rises with the moon each night in memory.
There is brick in front of him, a muddy puddle at the edge of his left foot and the people don’t even see him standing there. Stepping out of the alley and back into the procession, he finds that what he suspected is true.
He is invisible.
The store is all glass and light, mannequins in the european form dwarf the woman at the desk, the one whose job it is to guard the handbags. Her own bag is cloth, shoved into a drawer in the back room, where the lights aren’t quite so bright.
She does not see the man walk by. Why would she?
Why would anyone notice anyone else in a world so full of things to be noticed?
In rooms across the city, there are papers being spread across desks and passed into hands. There are fines to be paid, a company to save, a new campaign to sell.
Across the ocean there is a woman in a room. She is surrounded by computers and the lights go off if she does not move enough. When it gets dark, she waves her hands around, bringing the lights back on. She keeps putting words onto the screen, ignoring the sounds and smells of breakfast though she is hungry.
The people in the hall are talking, again, about how cold it is here, in this building by the airport.
Last night someone had asked her, “What is it that you want to do?”
She didn’t pause, “I want to save the world, but I realize that is an unreasonable goal.”
In the hills, everywhere, there are big cats and they are waiting and they are watching.
They are hungry, too.
It is time to feed the tigers.
She wonders how she might end the message and she knows it doesn’t matter what she says, that the women in the stores will still have to wipe the dust away from the gilt-gold handles of the most expensive totes, the ones that really are just for show. They were never meant to be purchased and the men that set the prices knew this.
“We will say that this bag is worth 10,000 US dollars. That is a good price.”
The men will read the papers and they will think that the columns of characters mean something.
The building will still be cold.
What does this have to do with story gathering?
This has everything to do with story gathering.
As I have sat in these meetings for this graduate program, I have taken notes. I have not recorded any details about registration or required courses. Instead, I have caught phrases and fragments, little pieces of language like lyrics. Here, I have nested them into small poems:
The School of Pi
The tyranny of urgency
Push now, now, now
There is a heartbeat caught in the temple
and a hurried shuffle of footsteps
Trying to get there
Wherever there may be
People die trying to make it on time.
The Storm is Coming Tomorrow
There is a controlled vocabulary in the database
And we must learn to be persuasive
To be informative
and yet not ram
We must recreate unknowable scenarios
And yet protect the dreamer
As we expose them to all the acronyms
and to the non-linear codification of reality
Jan 11 (2 days ago)
I’m at the hotel by the airport and the sun has gone down, but it’s not quite dark. The clouds are holding the light a little, but even as this sentence is being written, it gets darker and darker.
I’ve been talking for hours.
(…downstairs, by the elevator, near the bar and dining area that looks like something out of an in-flight magazine, outfitted with low slung chairs in green faux suede and televisions on the walls, stools and couches, tables arranged in a scattered pattern, casual and cluttering the space…I surveyed the scene as I spoke, the people talking and laughing while basketball danced on the screens above their heads.)
“Something really bad was going on…something really dark.”
I was referring to whatever force in history pushed us toward this end we’ve found ourselves in.
Because I am at a conference for a graduate school that is rooted in the humanistic tradition, where there are classes on the ideology and practice of peace, classes on consciousness and neurophysiology, classes on transpersonal this and transformative that…well, the person I was talking to looked me dead in the eye and said, “Yeah. I know.”
I have thought a lot about how this digital space I have forged for myself fits into my “real” life, my “professional” life.
It’s not, I am aware, very “professional” to have a blog devoted to earnest messy explorations of self/world narrative process and unfolding consciousness.
…actually, that depends entirely on what sort of “professional” one is.
This afternoon, I met with faculty. With one, I spoke about state-funded mental health systems and recovery education as a mechanism of transformative social change. We discussed building coalitions and nurturing alliance across the lines we’ve drawn and those that have been drawn for us.
In another chair, I disclosed this accidental project of mine, calling it a narrative exploration, an autoethnography.
“I blogged my way through a spiritually transformative psychosis.”
The man said, “I think that has the potential to be of great value.”
I was running late for my next appointment and I found the professor sitting at a small round table in the center of the room. We spoke about God.
“I know that if I don’t make good use of the story that was bestowed upon me that something vital inside of me will die.”
“You’re absolutely correct.”
Some Common Errors of Student Papers
*not answering the question
*not fulfilling one’s promise to the reader
*not documenting assertions
*errors in logic
*omitting links in the argument
*false or unquestioned assumptions
*insufficient literature base
*no sense of scale, giant topics. (“Consciousness is transcendent.”)
*assuming the reader knows what you are thinking
*presenting opinion as fact
*perpetrating the very errors that you criticize (“Stop obeying authority because I said so.”)
In my heart lately: #IdleNoMore