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Thu, Aug. 21st, 2008, 03:43 am
Exile and cunning

I suppose there are two reasons I barely update this journal any more. First, since 2006 or so, constructing an overarching "narrative of my life" has seemed less and less crucial. This is maybe the clearest sign one has that one has left adolescence. You realize how arbitrary and accidental everything that used to seem so meaningful to you actually is: your family, your old town--your relationships, even your thoughts. Your whole life. It's not that you don't value these things. They just don't have the same Metaphysical Primacy that they once did, at least for me. Your subjective experience doesn't have the same primacy that it once did. Subjective experience is still imporant to you, but no longer worth talking about. It's only worth being mined for art.

In the old days, I guess people would leave the self-absorption of adolescence and "enter the community." I've always found this thought and these words to be distasteful (as did Kafka, apparently). For as long as I can remember, even before I had words for it, "the community" has ever been this ominous moralizing force whose love I will disappoint, whose love I am inexorably disappointing or it will destroy me.

Interestingly/predictably enough, the Russian words for this shit are all horribly intimate: "folk," "family," and "ours" (the latter also apparently the name of a new, alarmingly fascist youth group) instead of the English word "community," which is redolent of like 18th century bourgeois civic pride. Are the Russian terms and more or less objectionable? I am inclined to say less, actually, because at least they acknowledge the arbitrariness of this "community." It's not a virtue to be loyal to these people, merely a practical necessity elevated to a virtue by the often-remarked-on "fatalism of the Russians." Similarly whereas American teams sports are all, "we are good sportsmen, we will win because we are virtuous citizens who have trained well"--the "team spirit" of Russian sport is more like, "we are low people, we will bring the other team DOWN TO OUR LEVEL." Guess which team wins MY sympathy?

That's why the phrase "Russian community" (or any kind of "immigrant community" probably) is uniquely retarded and condescending, by the way. But anyway, I don't like "real" Russians that much either, and not just because those who self-identify as such are as a rule unpleasant, sexist, or, at least, irrational people. I guess I just don't like surrendering my mean and obstinate little personality in favor of identifying with the needs of the group.

To get back to what I was saying like three paragraphs ago--instead of "entering the community," I've "entered the world," it seems. My life right now is a constant scrabble for recognition from others and money to live. This is what my "mean and obstinate little personality" has been subsumed in. Living in a basement in Queens. Writing thousands of words of about Spain a day for 2 cents/word (in fact, I am writing this entry because I am slacking off). Making burritos, or seeing if I have enough money to go to the diner or Dunkin Donuts. Neglecting work for days or weeks at a time to read books or work on slow creative projects that don't pay. Sometimes trying to talk to people that I like and find interesting, trying to make them like me. It's an obvious, frivolous luxury to try to put any narrative to it (I guess sometimes it is nonetheless enjoyable, and maybe can even prove "useful," that watchword of our lives). And that's what "communities" are supposed to provide, right, a group narrative to replace your personal one.

These thoughts kept recurring throughout my visit to my parents and family California, which took place over the course of these last two weeks. My whole past is like devalued currency, I kept thinking. Why was this not as depressing as it sounded?

Probably because I actually value people much now more than I did then, in spite of the appearance of having "lost my soul." I see people "for who they are," not as figures in the bullshit unfolding drama of my inner life. Despite my increasing reclusiveness during the past few years, despite the greater and greater starkness of my life, I feel that I "live in the world" more than before. My problems are no longer imaginary problems. I don't even have time to talk to people I don't actually like. I barely have time for those that I do like.

Oh wait! The second reason I haven't really been updating in this journal these past few years, is--to be honest--that there's not as pressing a need to talk publically about one's life when one cohabits with some sort of "significant other" and thus always has the "ideal audience." Well fuck. That is sort of lame. Is that the real reason I like people more now--because there's nothing to lose? Is the title of this entry--a lie?

The answer is, "no," but now it is time for me to finish explaining where to find the cheapest hotels in Spain (hint: it's via a certain site on the Internet). Also I shouldn't spend this much time on livejournal entries, and that's the other reason I haven't been writing.

Thu, Aug. 21st, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)

One of the first singular words I identified with strongly was non-communal. I am okay with doing my best for "others" but I'm especially okay with it always being either immediate others in the situation or just simply vague.

Thu, Aug. 21st, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)

I think there are other uses of LJ besides the ones you mention -- the main one I seem to use is just to show interesting articles or pictures or videos to the people I know online, or previews of my next game, etc. I suppose email could do just as well, but it's simpler with LJ because it's less intrusive (I'm only on people's friends lists if they want me to be, whereas it's harder to not read someone's email).

I don't know Russian (my parents knew it but all I picked up was like 10 words) but I've heard of the word 'sobornost' which probably isn't one of the common community words you mention but is an interesting word to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobornost if you haven't read about it.

I think I did that same Spain assignment you're doing for Tanzania (or a very similar one). How did you get such an interesting country as Spain and I got such a horrible country as Tanzania! Harlock must like you more!

Sun, Sep. 7th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)

The Spain assignment was part of a new wave of "country" assignments, which came after you did the Tanzania or Madagascar ones (at the time, I had already snapped up Israel and Romania). Also possibly Harlock thought you were the only one who would enjoy writing about Tanzania and/or Madagascar!

In any case, distinctions (except for ease-of-research) between any of these countries tend to disappear when you have to write literally hundreds of articles about them in the space of a few days or a week.

And yeah, I could use livejournal to show artwork and such, but it's better to wait until you're able show such things in a "real" medium to larger audiences. And it seems too easy for people to find interesting articles on the internet without my help.

Sun, Sep. 7th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)

True, most countries are pretty similar when it comes to tourist attractions. I think I had like 30 Tanzanian railway stations reviewed, which I doubt would be reviewed differently if they were Israeli railway stations.

Sometime showing it earlier to a smaller audience can help you find out things that it's best to find out early though -- for instance, I recently posted a screenshot of my next game and someone pointed out that the perspective of the ripples seemed wrong.

And it's easy to find articles or videos, but getting recommendations can act as a filter, which can be valuable. By analogy, with novels, it's usually a better idea to read what your friends recommend that you read rather than just looking through Amazon and basing it off of reviews or something.

Mon, Sep. 8th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)

Hello. I was searching for others interested in Oil painting and I came across you. I just made a community dedicated to oil paint and thought you might like to join oilpainters. It's just getting started so it needs some new and friendly members.
Id love to see you there.
thanks so much for your time.