usually Titles are short and illustrative of the c o n t e n t that follows, be it prose, poetry, or any other explication of a series of thoughts, connected or not. One of the simultaneously explicit and implicit goals of the post-modern object/subject verb/noun is to bring into the conscious consideration of the audience/author what exactly is happening at the .mo.ment. of expression. The mind as a knowable and explainable process, at least as I see it, is not scientific, it is not necessarily logical, and it may even fall short of artistic, but it certainly exists. And it is the goal of these wonderful adjectives to describe what is existent across the spectrum of possible interpretations in such a way that totally different minds can complete an act of commune-ication. A bringing together across that vast chasm of space and time known as a dinner table.
For a moment my expression will be clear. The following sentence in quotation marks is an example of a typical english statement that might be found in any conversation between two or more people. Immediately following is a set of three strange analyses of the first word in that sentence which give a certain flavor to the way the rest of it is read and thought about. The analyses are not true or right or meaningful or anything else you might find in a textbook. They are interpretations which provide a window into the possibility of the sentence. They peek beneath the surface of assumption and raise questions about what exactly is being done when an individual speaks this particular sentence and all the unconscious elements that go into its formation.
“It wasn’t what I expected”
“It”, being a short and often used sound in the English language, loses the resonant clarity of experiential meaning that its cousin “I” carries around by adding that troublesome “t” on its aft end. Audibly, there is a harshness to the sinus contracting “ih” and the ringing finality of that toothy “tuh” so neatly stitched to its clueless benefactor. Such a phonetically stunted word must refer to a limited, local, and concrete antecedent and is clearly dependent on reference to a previous mental image with which the human imagination can actually accomplish something. No “it” has ever changed your life.
“It” contains a hidden element of intimacy and trust between interlocutors. An inside joke if you will – anyone listening in to our exchange won’t know WHAT we’re talking about! It’s you and I alone, at this moment and in our shared mental context, however sparsely overlapping that may be, who are privy to the deep mystery that our cryptic “it” calls back to into unspoken memory. Upon this telepathic foundation, layered upon a created and unique past which exists only in our two minds, we shall build an edifice of wholly unprecedented and immediate value. “It” is the engagement ring to an interesting conversation.
“It” doesn’t quite do the trick. Being a relative word, or one which requires a previous understanding of the now referenced speech act, is not demonstrably designative of which speech act it refers to. In the previous clause, sentence, breath, exchange, dialectic, topic, conversation, past experience there are countless ideas which could be the intended target of such a backward arrow. The bow of context must be pulled taught and aimed well enough (string and shaft) to provide a listener’s mind ample and focused narrative as to which verb, noun, adjective, adverb, preposition, interjection, conjunction, or other silly grammatical concept the speaker fires back at.
I will not expound on the other words in that sentence, let alone my idea of their relation to one another which is, of course, merely my personal opinion.
What emerges from this constant return to the beginning is a possibility tree of causality in human thought. By disregarding the limitations of time which state that once something is done it is done with, the mind can return again and again to the genesis of its own actions. One is free to choose a different path based entirely on interpretation. E.g.: I felt happy today -> he felt happy today -> I am happy today -> I felt content today -> I feel happy today -> I feel happy now -> I felt happy now? -> he am content now.
It’s not supposed to make sense, it’s supposed to spark questions. Is there a fundamental story we tell ourselves when we choose to refer to the agent of our emotions in the first person rather than the third person? In my case, it really is a “he” who may or may not have felt such an emotion, but some part of my linguistic consciousness asks that I identify my sense of self with the experience of that emotion. Either that “I” performed the act of happiness or that I was subjected to it. The entire expression changes in its deepest sense if I do not use the term “I” to begin it.
What goes on in our lives on a daily basis, as complicated as it may seem, is recorded in our memory as a simple, linear, causal branch of this possibility tree, from which all others are unconsciously excluded from memory and disregarded in our accumulated narrative of reality. The fact that I ate something because I was bored is smothered by the fact that it was lunchtime, which was painted over by the fact that I was hungry (whatever that means), which completely forgets the source of currency which purchased and hands that prepared this food in its many stages and the physical/biological processes which had to occur for me to have come into possession of it in the first place. No I ate because I was hungry. This is remembered, this is fact. Causality, for the sake of sanity, has to be neat and concise.
But sanity is not the object of the post-modern project. In fact, it may even be its antithesis! In this strain of thought it is the goal to go literally out of one’s head in order to look back in at what the heck is even going on in there. But how can anything productive be accomplished if we keep blowing everything up into subatomic pieces and mixing them around? This is where that previously mentioned narrative comes into play.
It is through the cognitive act of creating narrative that meaning is produced in human thought. To be cautious, I am making no spiritual, metaphysical, social, or political claims to meaning or truth. What I mean to say is that your mind, and the choices you make about how it functions, create the reality you live in.
If you choose to follow a predetermined narrative of victimhood in which you, the lonely sufferer, survives the onslaught of iniquities and toils that are placed on your weary head moment after moment, day after day, week after week, you will experience a reality which fits precisely into your chosen world-thought-paradigm.
If you choose to follow a lifelong narrative of scientific reductionism in which you, the seeker of truth in its purest form, shed doubt on the simplistic and naive claims to understanding and contentedness of your fellow man, traveling ever deeper into the Marianas crevice of minutiae and constituent parts, you will inevitably find an endless string of fascinating becauses with which to occupy your chosen world-thought-paradigm.
The end result, if one can believe in an end after such a beginning and middle, is that we as individuals are left with a final (initial?) choice. After taking inventory of your hopes and dreams, what reality will you live in?
I was really emotional when I read your post, angry was just one of the sides but I don’t think I was even harsh with this. Reading something with no hope but a contemplating babble about humanity was the biggest waste of time I could have done to myself.
Well, I will agree with you that it is babble, I wrote it during a bout of insomnia brought on by mono and didn’t think to make it very concise or accessible, but I do hope that I can clarify the point a little so that you don’t feel it was a waste of your time.
What I was aiming at was an attempt to bring to people’s attention the arbitrary nature of their thought processes. The millions of split second and unconscious choices that someone makes simply about how to speak or interpreting the meaning of a sentence. When one becomes aware of the potential to choose the pattern of thoughts we live with, this awareness gives creative power to the individual. If you choose how to think, then you choose the “truth” of the world around you.
In so many ways I am limited by my upbringing, my education, the books I’ve read and the movies I watch. I’m limited by the perspectives and attitudes of my friends and family, I’m limited by the news I watch/read and the things I do on a daily basis. The chance circumstances of my life determine for me the way that I interpret the world around me.
Example: When I am hungry, I open my refrigerator door and check for easily accessible food. The packages and labeling inform me as to what matter I want to put in my body to fuel me for a while and I don’t think twice about drinking a glass of milk.
If I think about it though, I don’t have any knowledge of how these food products came to be, the creatures they came from, the men/women who spent hours of time and effort to raise them from little seeds in a field, the worry that may have crossed their minds after a big storm.
I don’t think about discarding the packaging, which often is plastic, and where my tons of trash ends up in a week, a month, a year. Is it in a landfill? On the side of the street somewhere? Floating in the ocean? Will my banana peel provide nutrients for microorganisms?
Do I think about what kind of person I am trying to be by buying fresh produce instead of frozen or canned vegetables? Is it because I’ve been told it’s healthier that I believe that to be true? What chemicals or genetic modifications are in the green pepper I just cut up?
Is food truly fuel? Can’t food be thought of as building materials as well? Will the complex carbs in these ramen noodles be chemically rearranged to patch a tear in my gastrointestinal tract? Will the sodium in the salt packet serve to transfer the electrical signals of through my neurons to facilitate a thought tomorrow?
It’s questions and choices like these that arise when people stop taking their lives for granted and started to live consciously in an effort to become some new version of themselves. If I want to live a better life, I have to choose that life for myself, and make it a continuously chosen part of my every day life.
That was probably too long and rambling too, but hopefully it helps make the original post more clear.
It definitely clears up more who you are as a person.
Example: When I am hungry, I open my refrigerator door and check for easily accessible food.”
When I am hungry I don’t think.
Is food truly fuel? Can’t food be thought of as building materials as well? Will the complex carbs in these ramen noodles be chemically rearranged to patch a tear in my gastrointestinal tract? Will the sodium in the salt packet serve to transfer the electrical signals of through my neurons to facilitate a thought tomorrow?”
What you get energy from is your choice. It’s crazy you don’t know that.
Maybe the habit of having everything too complex for the sake of communication isn’t helping? What do you think?
Infinite bullshit you created on your own while asking your own nature?
You might die of hunger from so much unnecessary ways to get attention.
Believe it or not I am still able to eat normally, I just think about what I do instead of assuming every choice I make is correct. My point, which I see you are missing is simply this. Because people don’t think about their actions enough, they make the wrong decisions. My explanation of food was meant to show that there are important things which should be taken into consideration when you make simple decisions in your every day life that can change everything about your every day life. Not thinking is not something to proud of.
I have a very short attention span when it comes to reading, but I did pick up on…
“But sanity is not the object of the post-modern project. In fact, it may even be its antithesis!”
Absolutely, the powerful will distract those with the potential to destroy them until their power is so great that those are no longer able to destroy them.
Basically, people used to work to survive, now people work so the powerful can survive.
With automation and product convergence technologies, most of the work to attain what we need and what we want can be done by machines, working became about building a consumer base, but working also stands to keep regular humans out of the political arena, because they are too distracted and tired to care.